Media Release: Solar installations are up

28 May, 2020

New data from Powercor shows solar panels are being installed on western Victorian rooftops at a faster rate in 2020 than ever before, supporting forecasts for up to one third of all homes in the network to have solar power within the next 5 years.

The number of solar PV installations in the Powercor network increased by approximately 6% from 142,200 on 1 January 2020 to 150,500 by 30 April, suggesting the potential for a 18% increase this year, faster than the 14% growth in 2019.

This data also supports forecasts under Powercor’s plan for 2021-2026 which estimates the proportion of residential customers with solar will grow from 18% to 34% in some areas by 20261.

Powercor’s General Manager, Electricity Networks, Steven Neave said the figures reinforced the need to build network capacity to ensure customers can get the full value from their investment in solar.

“If no action is taken by 2026, customers serviced by almost half of our zone substations will experience difficulties when they try to export energy to the grid,” Mr Neave said.

Powercor proposes to spend $61 million over the next five years to enable the vast majority of customers to export up to 5kVA from their solar PV system.

The plan is part of Powercor’s regulatory proposal to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) for 2021-2026 through which the business aims to deliver more to customers at a lower cost. Feedback on the submission is invited until 3 June 2020.

“We’re proposing this investment to give the vast majority of customers the ability to export back to the grid through a range of technical solutions and asset upgrades on the low voltage network.”

Mr Neave said while feedback from some solar installers indicates the number of installations in the second half of the year may be affected by the economic impact of COVID-19, the signs for solar were still positive.

“People want to take more control of their energy choices and solar is a great way to do that,” he said.

‘That’s why we want to support customers to make this choice by making strategic investments to allow the network to keep pace.”

The red-hot start to 2020 follows a blistering 2019, with regional centres embracing solar.

Huge increases in solar installations were seen in Ballarat and Warrnambool from 2018 to 2019, with each experiencing around 19% and 18% growth, respectively.

Mildura saw a 17% increase in the same period, while Geelong and Bendigo each had 15% growth.

For more information on Powercor’s solar enablement proposal, visit www.talkingelectricity.com.au.

To have your say on the proposal, visit www.aer.gov.au/networks-pipelines/determinations-access-arrangements/powercor-determination-2021-26.