Following the federal election, Australia is enjoying a surge in residential solar sales as the nation embraces its clean energy future, writes Gavin Dennett.
Labor’s resounding victory in the 2022 federal election has reinvigorated Australia in numerous ways, especially in putting climate change action front and centre of the national agenda.
Voters expressed themselves at the polling booths with Labor, the Greens and Teal independents now giving a collective voice to the large percentage of the population who want affirmative measures to give Australia a clean energy future.
The election result has produced a collective sigh of relief across the nation and offers hope for Australia’s future as a renewable energy superpower. For proof of this dramatic shift, note the upward trajectory in residential solar sales since May this year.
Within days of the federal election, Sydney-based company Solaray Energy experienced double the number of enquiries about solar PV systems.
Solaray Energy has installed more than 75,000 Enphase microinverters in Australia and is active in the premium end of the NSW residential solar market. However, first-quarter sales in 2022 were hampered by the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and severe flooding of Australia’s east coast. But since the election campaign, the company’s solar sales have rebounded to levels on par with the record demand of 2020 and 2021.
Solaray director and co-founder Jonathan Fisk attributes the solar market rebound to the election delivering a Federal Government committed to renewable energy combined with the recent spike in global energy prices.
“In the second half of May, our enquiries jumped by close to 100 per cent,” he says. “Within the space of 10 days, a new government was elected, gas prices started going through the roof, energy prices began to increase, and the sun came out [following months of heavy rain].
“The first major wave of enquiries was the week after the election and more people who enquire are buying [compared to pre-election].”
Fisk says one in two new solar customers are ordering batteries to accompany their rooftop solar panels.
“We’ve sold a lot more batteries recently,” he says. “Of new PV system sales, almost one in two orders have batteries added. Storage is the tool that makes solar fly. Solar generates energy, but storage is about more than just storing excess energy. It can take your electricity bill close to zero, it gives people protection during a blackout, and it makes them feel they are in control of their energy usage.
“This greater appetite for batteries is also because more people want to futureproof their homes so they can add an electric vehicle.”
Fisk says another big change in the 2022 solar market is customers ordering significantly larger systems than in previous years.
“Two years ago, a customer ordering 25-35 kilowatt hours of energy storage was a massive sale, whereas now it’s just another one before lunch,” he says.
“While the cheaper end of the market has died 1000 deaths, the premium end of the market is still going strong. There is a much greater degree of optimism out there.
“Customers are voting with their money. With energy prices increasing and interest rates rising, people are looking to reduce expenses. This is the end of the market for Solaray and Enphase, serving customers who make informed decisions based on quality, safety and long-term value.
“We are in the eye of the perfect storm. Energy prices are going to stay high for some time because of a decade of poor government energy policy [in Australia] with no investment in the grid. But with that said, we also face huge opportunities as the new Federal Government intends to spend money on upgrading the grid to remove restrictions on small-scale solar.
“All forecasts say the price of electricity is going up, not down, whereas a year or two ago consumers only wanted solar to reduce the cost of power from the grid. Now they want to buy enough solar and storage so they are independent from it unless there’s a week of cloudy days.
“We are entering a new golden age for solar and storage.”