2020 saw Australians install solar storage at record rates despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 31,000 batteries installed in homes around the country.
Up from 20% in 2019, the increase in installations has brought the tally of homes, commercial premises and large-scale ‘big batteries’ with solar storage systems in Australia to almost 110,000.
The findings were released last week by solar and storage market analysts SunWiz, who found that state government incentives played a major role in the increase.
Warwick Johnston, Managing Director of SunWiz says last year’s findings were surprising considering the pandemic.
“In 2020 Australian's continued to demonstrate a desire to reduce their power bills by making the most of the nation's abundant and cheap solar power and empower themselves with a battery. Batteries also continue to demonstrate they can support the Australian electricity network,” he says.
“Home battery systems proved particularly popular in South Australia where there is such high demand from homeowners that the state government had to reduce its subsidy in order to avoid overheating the market and exhausting available government funds too quickly.
“In Victoria, the popularity of solar batteries for homes was so high the state government subsidy allocations were exhausted within minutes of each release; a situation only remedied when the government directed some COVID stimulus funding towards the sector.
“The popularity of batteries is strong even without state subsidies, particularly where homeowners can benefit financially by taking part in so-called ‘Virtual Power Plants’ – which combine the power of individual batteries to support the energy market and network.
South Australians are leading the trend, with just over a quarter (26.0%) of all battery installations in 2020 occurring in the state, despite its relatively small proportion of Australia’s population.
Victoria and New South Wales were close behind with around a quarter (25.1% and 24.7% respectively) of all battery installations also occurring in each of those more populous states. On a per capita basis Queensland is lagging behind, with 9.6% of all batteries installed, despite being home to around a fifth (20.1%) of Australians and having a high proportion of solar panel installations.
Roughly 9% of new home solar systems installed in 2020 included a battery, which is down from the high of 12% recorded in 2017 but an improvement on 2019’s 8%. The capacity of residential battery storage is also on the rise (up 27%) as the average battery size increased.
“This energy transformation in Australia is happening quickly and the continued increase in solar panels and batteries installed show Australians are enthusiastic about the benefits. State and Federal Governments can play a role by ensuring battery rollouts are safe and smart, and demonstrating to the public that batteries are a legitimate solution for homes, communities, and electricity networks,” says Johnston.
In 2021, SunWiz forecasts an additional 33,000 home battery installations, plus an increase in grid-scale storage.
UniSA is currently devising a wastage scheme to correctly dispose of photovoltaic systems, before approximately 100,000 tonnes of solar waste hits our waste stream by 2035. To find out more, click here.