Australia installed its highest ever number of rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in 2020, according to Clean Energy Regulator data analysed by energy efficiency experts from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO.

Data from the Clean Energy Regulator analysed by CSIRO shows that in 2020, around Australia, more than 362,000 rooftop solar PV installations were issued with small-scale renewable energy scheme certificates under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme.

This is an increase of 28% from 2019, when 283,991 installations were issued STCs, with the majority of installs under the scheme being residential and a smaller number for commercial and industrial properties.

“Science has made renewables cost competitive with conventional power, letting market forces take over to drive a global transition to lower emissions,” said CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall.

CSIRO researchers use the Clean Energy Regulator data as the best indicator of PV installations around Australia, among five sources of data collated by CSIRO’s Australian Housing Data Portal.

Watt’s on top

The states with the highest number of solar PV systems installed in 2020 were: NSW with 108,922, Queensland with 86,912, Victoria with 71,798, Western Australia with 47,653 and South Australia with 35,599.

Clean Energy Regulator data shows that more than 2.68 million rooftop solar power systems have been installed in Australia in total, as of 31 December 2020; that means one in four homes have solar panels on their roof.

Australia leads the world in PV capacity per capita, at 591 watts per person.

Clean Energy Regulator executive general manager Mark Williamson said 3GW of rooftop solar capacity was installed in 2020, a 40% increase on the 2.2GW installed in 2019. This is trending higher in 2021, with between 3.5 and 4GW of capacity expected. The growth in capacity has been driven by increasing system size, with the average system now between 8 and 8.5kW.

“Sustained low technology costs, increased work-from-home arrangements and a shift in household spending to home improvements during covid-19 played a key role in the increase of rooftop solar PV systems,” Williamson said.

See information on small-scale installations for each Australian postcode.