At the end of this month, Suntrix will be celebrating 10 years of offering award-winning solar and battery solutions. It is exciting to see how far we have come but before we reflect further on that, we thought we’d take a quick look at how the solar industry has changed over the last 10 years in Australia.
1. Popularity of household solar
Back in 2009, less than 5% of houses had solar installed. Australia now has the highest penetration of residential solar in the developed world. According to a report by Solar Citizens, 21.6% of all households (excluding apartments) have solar panels on their roofs.
Electricity price hikes and cheaper technology has made solar more affordable with average payback rates ranging between 3-5 years depending on where you live.
2. Home storage batteries
From fewer than 500 households at the end of 2015 to analysts predicting that half of all Australian households will have solar PV combined with storage by 2029, the demand for solar batteries is going to go bananas. Technological advances and brand competition have driven prices down and this trend is likely to continue.
State governments offering incentives, like the SA Home Battery Subsidy Scheme, is also stimulating demand.
3. The launch of Tesla Powerwall
We can’t really talk about batteries without mentioning Tesla. They are certainly not the only players in the market, but you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise by the hype that surrounds the brand.
Tesla has put lithium-based batteries in the spotlight and that doesn’t look set to change any time soon.
4. Elon Musk
….And we can’t really talk about Tesla without giving a shout out to Elon Musk. The CEO of Tesla is now a household name and just like fellow billionaire CEO, Jeff Bezos, holds ambitions to make space travel affordable for the masses. Closer to home though, he is probably best known in South Australia as the man who built the world’s largest lithium-ion storage system in response to the SA’s power outage problems that peaked in September 2016 with a state-wide blackout.
5. Solar has super-sized
Whilst residential solar accounts for 61% of installed PV capacity in Australia, in recent years, there has been extremely strong growth in the installation of commercial scale PV systems. More and more businesses are making the switch to solar as the hikes in electricity prices continue to squeeze their bottom line. From schools to farms, local councils and aged care facilities, these organizations have cut their energy bills and massively reducing their carbon emissions.
The solar industry is also seeing a surge of large-scale solar farms with 2018 being a record-smashing year and 2019 looking even better.
6. Taking to the water
As interest has grown in renewables, the industry has been challenged to innovate and offer solar solutions that don’t just rely on roof space. One of the most exciting developments has been in floating solar; and Suntrix is proud to be at the forefront of this technology; having installed 100kW at East Lismore’s Sewage Treatment Plant in 2018 – Australia’s largest floating solar island at the time. Although relatively new to the Australian market, floating solar has been making waves in Asia and Europe where lack of space means installing a roof-top or ground-mounted system is either not practical or possible.
When solar first started to take off 10 years ago where were a lot of cowboy traders out there keen to make a fast buck. Many households either got sold inferior products that failed to stand the test of time or got ripped off paying well over the odds for a system. Many of these solar companies quickly went out of business, leaving their customers high and dry.
In response to this in 2013, the Clean Energy Council launched the Solar Retailer Code of Conduct, with the aim to improve customer service and industry standards. Suntrix is a founding signatory and one of a select national pool of solar companies to become a CEC Approved Solar Retailer.
8. Energy efficient buildings
There is increasing focus on creating more energy efficient buildings. In 2015 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council released a plan to improve Australia’s energy productivity by 40 per cent by 2030 which included engaging with the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) to achieve better energy efficiency outcomes for Australia’s buildings.
One company leading the charge is CBUS Property. CEO Adrian Pozzo says “Our aspiration is to create one of the greenest Green Star and NABERS-rated portfolios in Australia”. The Cbus Property-owned 50 Flinders street office tower has become the first in South Australia to achieve the 6-star NABERS Energy Rating – the highest rating that can be achieved under the ratings system. It had been sitting at a 5.5 but a 74kW solar PV system installed by Suntrix was a significant factor in the increase to 6.
9. Solar monitoring
With more and more people getting solar, it came as a surprise to Suntrix owners, Jenny and David that many customers had no idea if their systems were performing as well as they should. A lot of people they spoke to said they had no idea that something wasn’t working until they received an unexpectedly high electricity bill. Suntrix designed a low-cost monitoring tool called myWatt that allows users to monitor their system’s solar output and check it is working as hard as it should.
For businesses, trying to keep their operating costs to a minimum, consumption monitoring is also becoming increasingly popular. Our client, SA Mushrooms has been using myWatt Energy for over 3 years to manage their energy consumption and keep their grid demand to a minimum.
10. Keep it clean
Whilst it is true that a quality solar system should not require much ongoing maintenance, the Clean Energy Council recommends an annual check to keep your system in peak condition. They say, just like taking your car to the mechanic for a service, rooftop solar power systems need regular maintenance to ensure they deliver top performance for decades.
It is a developing industry and consumers should be aware of allowing unqualified workers up on their roofs, as damage incurred could void system warranties.