How has COVID-19 Affected The Australian Solar Industry?

 

COVID-19 Solar Australia Flag

March 2020 was a pretty crazy month to say the least. As the COVID-19 pandemic caused businesses to shut down, state borders to slam shut and everybody was sent home to self-isolate, there was actually a record amount of residential solar system installations recorded during March in Australia.

March saw a new record for the registration of STC’s with a total of 254MW, continuing the trend of rising numbers of installations over the past few months to the highest they have been since the solar boom of 2012. Now, take these numbers with a pinch of salt. Registrations for STC’s are usually recorded a few weeks after an installation has occurred, so it is likely that the majority of these installations occurred in February.

So What Has Happened To Solar Installations Since The Lockdown?

Since lockdowns have been put into place across Australia new residential installations are believed to be down significantly. A survey conducted by PV magazine and Green Energy Markets estimates that solar inquiries have declined by 50%. This is very bad news for Australia’s solar installers who have already had to combat difficult market conditions due to the Corona Virus such as panel production temporarily halting in China and the falling Aussie dollar.

The head of the CEC, Kane Thornton, has stated that he believes renewable energy can be the driving force for Australia’s post-COVID-19 economic rebuild and therefore should be considered an essential service. Not only will the continued installation of both large scale renewable projects and residential solar systems help smash our environmental targets and create thousands of jobs, but they will provide Australians with much needed relief on power bills.

What is in store for the ‘mid-COVID-19’ Solar Industry?

As things stand, now is a really good time to go solar, but you might not want to wait too long to install a system. Thornton recently stated that he thinks it is unlikely that the Federal Government will make rooftop solar installations an ‘essential service’ should COVID-19 restrictions be tightened. This means you may have to act quickly to secure reduced power bills with a solar system. If upfront costs are an issue, most suppliers will offer financing options with interest rates low enough that the savings from your system can easily cover the repayments.

If you are worried about having a solar system installed when you are supposed to be social distancing, fear not! The Smart Energy Council has been educating solar installers on how best to interact with customers and install their systems in a safe, hygienic and COVID-19 friendly way. Click here to learn about the ‘contactless’ process we have developed with our solar installers.

During this uncertain time going solar may be just the tiny bit of relief that you need. Speak to local installers about your options and get 3 Free solar quotes today!

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.
 

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