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Archives by Year/Month (2015/02)

  • The SunWiz Commercial Solar Database

    The SunWiz commercial solar database is about gathering information on PV systems across Australia (which exceed 10kW in total capacity). The idea here is to show what's going on in the commercial sector with regards to solar.

    Who is the commercial solar database for?

    So we've gathered a heap of data on solar installations around the country and created a platform where you can see it (at least some of it - depending on your membership level). Who benefits here?
    • End customers - The commercial solar database gives you a few things. One of them is a clear view of what's going on in your state, your area and your industry. Another thing it gives you is honesty - we aren't fudging any facts here. What you see on our commercial solar database is what we've found. This is as accurate as it can be.
    • Solar Installers - If you want to move into the commercial space, or you want to find more commercial customers, we can help you. With a membership to our commercial database site, you can access these benefits:
      • List or revise your own projects. This forms a showcase of your projects to anyone searching your company on our site.
      • Search for projects in your region to find out more about your competitors
      • Search projects by business category and see which industries are installing solar and where
      • Enhance your SEO and build a better online presence
    • Solar Manufacturers & Wholesalers - For manufacturers and wholesalers, the growing commercial solar market is crucial to your future business. Here are some of the benefits you'll find with us:
      • Find out what brands are being used and where
      • Discover which installers are putting in commercial systems and where those systems are
      • Discover installers using brands exclusively vs those who chop and change

    Advertising with us

    Our advanced advertising works better for everyone! If you're an advertiser, you can specify your market and target site users who are likely to be interested in your offers. If you're a visitor, you're likely to see ads which are interesting to you (especially if you log in).

    Database searching - standard

    You can use our site to search our database of commercial solar power systems. There are a number of ways to do this. As a free user, you can:
    • Search projects by keyword
    • Search projects by state
    • Search projects by capacity (kW)
    • Sort jobs by a number of different criteria (smallest to largest, newest to oldest, sort by name)
    This gives you the ability to get a broad overview of commercial solar in your region.

    Database searching - premium

    With our premium search options, you can also:
    • Search projects by installer
    • Search projects by solar panel
    • Search projects by inverter
    • Search projects by ANZSIC business category
    • Search projects by postcode
    With these search abilities, you can get an enormous amount of insight into which regions to target and which industries to target. You can also see which panels and inverters are being used on commercial systems at the postcode level. And of course seeing which installers are engaged in commercial solar and what types of jobs they are installing.

    Free Membership

    A free membership to our commercial database site gives you the ability to showcase your commercial solar projects and to claim projects as your own. When you claim projects, you are then able to update them if you find any details are missing or if you want your projects to stand out from the crowd. You can add photos and descriptions to your projects too.

    Premium (paid) Membership

    Our premium site membership gives you loads of benefits, including:
    • Advanced database searching abilities
    • Case study creation for projects
    • Installer showcase/profile page
    • Access to featured project status
    • More exciting features coming soon!

  • 2014 Australian PV Market Wrap

    Sunny's Report Card for 2014

    If the life of a child named "Sunny" was used as an analogy for the Australian Solar Industry, 2008 would be the birth. 2009-2011 would represent its infant years of fits and starts, growth spurts, testing its independence from its governmental parents. 2012 was the year of wild excitement that a 4-year-old enjoys before the reality of attending school hit in 2013. But after studying hard, 2014 can be viewed as the year that “Sunny” finally started to grow up. So, what lessons can be learned for 2015? A lot is revealed by "Sunny’s" 2014 Report Card.

    Mathematics

    Sunny is great with numbers, and has slightly improved upon last year’s efforts. Though Sunny once had difficulty counting past two, this year his favourite number was three, and five was his second favourite number. This year Sunny managed to count to one hundred on 207 occasions, and Sunny is tackling bigger and bigger numbers. SunWiz's calculations (based upon projections from incomplete data) show there was 825 MW of sub-100kW PV installed in 2014, a slight growth on 2013’s 810MW. Importantly, there were 187,000 systems, a 8% decrease on 2013, which signals a declining residential market that will be concerning for anyone without a commercial focus. Consequently, the average system size grew to reach 4.8 kW by year’s end, but even residential systems got bigger. 21% of the market exceeded 8kW in 2014, and there were 207 systems of 100kW in size installed in 2014.

    Geography

    Sunny’s geography knows no bounds. Sunny has enthusiastically reached into every corner of the continent, and yet he has his favourite places. Queensland is his favourite state, and he can’t decide between New South Wales or Victoria as his second favourite. South Australia has fallen from favour in preference for Western Australia. Sunny’s #1 playmate was Mackay Postcode 4740 (Mackay) was the #1 location for installations in 2014, adding 5.9MW worth. 7 of the top 10 postcodes in 2014 were in Queensland; 2 were in WA and 1 in Victoria. Statewide, Queensland’s 2014 figures were practically level with 2013; NSW and Victoria had the same figures in 2014 and in 2013, thus both enjoyed substantial growth. South Australia contracted dramatically, and was overtaken by WA which grew considerably.

    Economics

    Sunny is excelling at economics. Somehow he manages to continue to decrease cost month on month, little by little, setting record low prices in the process. However, Sunny may be doing so at the expense of sustainable profitability, and could come unstuck if caught out by external factors such as the Australian Dollar or Anti-Dumping Commission. Sunny’s presentation of financial calculations falls well short of where it needs to be, though calculators are available and accessible. The graph below shows the evolution of system pricing, according to Solar Choice’s price database. There has been a decline in Net System price (after STC discount) each month, only some of which has been due to the increase in STC price over the first 18 months displayed.

    English and Communication

    Sunny’s attempts at communicating with his elders lack maturity and sophistication. Though he was everyone’s darling when born, he has more recently reacted with rebellious language to the withdrawal of affection. Sunny is making enemies amongst his teachers and will not be invited to the party unless he changes the tone of his conversation. Despite this, Sunny has made many friends amongst his peers and looks like he may lead a rebellious coup that may well be successful. Though the government’s RET Review has yet to reach a conclusion, the government has stated that there will be no changes to household solar entitlements, and that 100kW systems will remain in the SRES. Despite this, the SRES is not completely safe, but appears to be taking a back seat in negotiations that are focused upon the major point of difference between the major parties – the GWh figure of the LRET. In 2014 SunWiz met with MPS and government representatives as part of the RET Review, as part of contribution to Solar Citizens, Australian Solar Council, and the CEC’s PV Leadership Committee and Domestic PV Directorate (of which Warwick is the Chair).

    Dance

    Sunny has incredible internal dynamism, and while his expression appears on the surface to be stable, beneath the surface he exhibits huge internal motion. The dance of Sunny’s inner world appears hell-bent on creative destruction as his major and minor organs battle one another for energy. It is quite likely that this will result in injury to certain body parts which will hopefully not cause Sunny to meltdown. The ranks continue to be dynamic. Origin started off the year as the 10th biggest PV retailer, and ended up as the 5th largest. True Value Solar retained position #1, though faces increasing pressure. The top 10 features two companies which only started to create STCs in 2013. The graph below shows the shift in the ranks of the current top 10 non-aggregating STC creators.

    Science

    Science is perhaps Sunny’s weak point. Too often Sunny appears to guess the answer to questions such as “how much of the generated solar power will be exported” and consequently his answers to “how quick the payback be” are misleadingly fast. Sunny has learned the merits of using computers to improve the accuracy of his answers. Some export figures from analysis has shown that the median 1.5 kW system exports 37% of its production, but most systems sold these days are 3 or 5 kW, which have median export volumes of 60% and 74% respectively[1]. SunWiz will be launching a free solar export calculator to assist the customers and players in the solar industry to access more accurate information about likely export volumes.

    Health and Physical Education

    Sunny excels in outdoor activity. He leads his classmates in speed of installation, but has a tendency to cut corners. His quick-fix diet of fast food in earlier years has not prepared him well to tighten his belt for the occasional fasting that is required in recent leaner years. Sunny runs on the spot far too often and could improve his effectiveness by working smarter, not harder.

    History

    Sunny is showing a blatant disregard for his predecessors. But if history has anything to teach Sunny, its in understanding the patterns of his own growth, and accelerating his focus upon these areas. Sunny has amassed a huge amount of experience which can now tell him which businesses in which locations to target for highest-profit sales. Sunny has collaborated with his classmates to coalesce their common knowledge, which will enable them to beat their common foe.

    Tips for a Sunny 2015

    Sunny has a knack for responding to the opportunities that present themselves. However, 2015 will present new challenges for Sunny as classroom dynamics, schoolyard bullying, misbehaving masters, and declining territory all gang up on him. Sunny has his first major stint on the solar farm this year which is expected to contribute to a bumper harvest. In its entirety, I expect 2015 will have good volume that may well exceed that of 2014. The utility-scale sector will set records this year, as Flagships, Moree, Mugga Lane & OneSun are delivered…. and then you’ve got projects like Rio Tinto Weipa, Majura Park, Coober Pedy and other ARENA projects, plus CEFC investments. Unfortunately, most of the 3000+ Australian solar business will be unable to access such utility-scale opportunities, leaving them competing for a residential market that will naturally decline as low-hanging fruit dries up. This makes the commercial sector all the more critical, and businesses will survive only if they crack this market, which offers potentially greater profit margins and value-focussed competition. But for the majority of the industry it will be a scramble to sell whatever residential systems they can to keep cashflow going while they chase bigger dreams of upskilling and upscaling their commercial activities. Extraordinary offer: Our 2014 market wrap edition of Insights is available for a special deal until Friday 30th of January. Typically we don’t sell individual editions, but this one is too good to withhold. Learn:
    1. The installation volume of each the top 20 companies and how it has changed over the past year.
    2. The most successful companies in commercial PV, and how they’ve got there
    3. The top 10 locations for PV in 2014… the best places in 2015
    4. Where most commercial PV volume was installed, and by whom
    5. Which system sizes helped drive market share in 2015 and their critical importance for 2014
    6. How to price your system competitively for a range of different panel-inverter combinations
    7. Plus much more from our regular Insights content
    The special edition is available at a price of $950 ex GST, or it included with six months worth of updates for $1650 ex GST. Click here for more information.

    SunWiz's latest activities

    In the past months we've been:
    • Launching an incredible service that helps companies improve the profitability of small commercial sales
    • Developing a web-database of commercial PV projects
    • Re-developing PVsell and packing it with new features
    • Representing Australia in Kyoto for the International Energy Agency's PV Power program
    • Advising a business that to reduce proposed installation sizes from 30kW back down to 5-10kW on a number of sites.
    • Comparing the financial return from PV and SHW
    • Developing a battery energy and finance model
    • Getting engaged in Malta and touring through Europe, including looking at the Vatican's Solar Array

    Sunny's Corner

  • Australia installs more solar power than Germany… again!

    It may come as a surprise to many, but Australia installed more solar power than Germany in 2011. Australia set a similar accomplishment in 2010 too, and looks on track to do so again in 2012. So why aren't we hearing more news about this Australian solar success? Well, as far as headline totals go, Australia falls far short of Germany's 7481 MW of PV installations in 2011: Australia installed a respectable but long-distant 837 MW last year. But the principle reason for this was the near-complete absence of any utility-scale installations due to the lack of supportAustralian federal and state governments. As a consequence, 815MW of Australia's PV installations were less than 100kW in size; of which there was 58 MW of domestic off-grid installations and 757MW of grid connected installations. 96% of Australian capacity in this range is below 10kW in size -  804 MW. Germany installed 759 MW in this range. SunWiz previously reported that Australia installed more sub-10kW systems than Germany in 2010 (but still fell short in terms of MW in this category); it will certainly have beaten Germany on both accounts in 2011. On the strength of its residential sector, Australia ranked 8th in capacity installed in 2010, and ranked 7th in 2011, highly respectable for a nation with only three systems over 1 MW. These figures mean Australia could easily be the worlds largest market for residential PV. To provide some context, US heavyweight Sungevity (who recently partnered with Australian company Nickel Energy to bring its RoofJuice solar leasing model to Australia) has reported figures of 4000 systems soldand installed 4.7MW in 2010; by comparison Australia's largest installer installed 12 MW in a single month. The image below shows the distribution of system sizes in Australia, which have grown from 1kW average to the now rest above 2.5kW. Distribution of Australian solar system size

    Significant implications for the world

    Australia may largely lack the commercial and utility-scale market that has propelled the likes of Germany, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic to the gigawatt-per-year club. But such nations have faced overnight industry shut-down. As Bloomberg New Energy Finance showed, Australia is one of the first countries to have reached residential 'socket parity'; ahead of much of the world has yet to do so. Australia has also showed that in spite of massive cuts to government support, residential solar can survive without premium feed-in tariffs when solar power is primarily used on-site. With 'socket parity' reached for small businesses, and tantalisingly close for large business, Australia's commercial market is set to grow organically, free from the distortions of solar-specific government incentives. As government incentives are wound-back around the world, Australia offers a glimpse of the future solar markets that will emerge internationally. Growth in Australian PV has also caught the eye of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), which this weekreleased a paper drawing upon a report commissioned from SunWiz forecasting PV uptake. Both forecasts are subsets of the nation-wide Australian PV forecast produced by SunWiz and SolarBusinessServices, excluding PV in Western Australia and utility-scale systems.

    Australian PV Forecast solar

    Australian solar statistics are drawn from the PV In Australia report released this week by the Australian PV Association, which used data collated by SunWiz in its Australian PV Insights monthly subscription, supplemented by data released by the Clean Energy Regulator.

  • Solar Forecast for AEMO

    SunWiz (supported by Solar Business Services) was commissioned by the Australian Energy Market Operator to produce a forecast of uptake of rooftop PV in NEM connected regions.

    The text of the executive summary is repeated below. Within Australia, the deployment of solar power has been up until now largely overlooked by parties modelling Australia’s energy mix. However, with over 1.3GW of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels now installed in Australia1 Within a decade, a conservative forecast predicts six gigawatts of solar PV will have been deployed, which could represent 11% of Australia’s generation capacity and over 3% of its electrical energy consumption. Under less conservative assumptions, the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) from residential and small commercial systems are predicted to exceed 15% for most of the coming decade, with IRRs exceeding 25% in all states by 2020 in a more optimistic scenario. At the high end, the installation of 15GW over the next ten years is entirely plausible, and would be equivalent to 30% of forecast generation capacity and 7% of electrical energy production, Australia-wide. Such levels of installations have the potential to significantly impact Australia’s electricity industry. Issues associated with high levels of low voltage network penetration have already arisen, particularly in long rural feeders. Though technical solutions already exist internationally, without a proactive facilitation strategy by Distribution Network Operators such issues will increase in theirrange. The impact will also be felt by generators and retailers as generation merit order is changed, transported volumes decrease, and peak pricing events alter in their timing and frequency of occurrence. Deployment of such a large volume of unregistered, non-scheduled generation could present challenges for AEMO. Not all of this capacity will be connected to the NEM, with a large fraction occurring in Western Australia and in remote mines. However, the economics of solar power dictate that the vast majority is expected to be installed ‘behind the meter’, i.e. on premises where solar generation primarily reduces grid consumption – rather than being a dedicated solar generator directly connected to the grid and exporting 100% of its energy. Indeed, it is likely that only a small proportion will be a pure power station exporting, potentially complicating AEMO’s task of energy forecasting.   range. The impact will also be felt by generators and retailers as generation merit order is changed, transported volumes decrease, and peak pricing events alter in their timing and frequency of occurrence. Deployment of such a large volume of unregistered, non-scheduled generation could present challenges for AEMO. Not all of this capacity will be connected to the NEM, with a large fraction occurring in Western Australia and in remote mines. However, the economics of solar power dictate that the vast majority is expected to be installed ‘behind the meter’, i.e. on premises where solar generation primarily reduces grid consumption – rather than being a dedicated solar generator directly connected to the grid and exporting 100% of its energy. Indeed, it is likely that only a small proportion will be a pure power station exporting, potentially complicating AEMO’s task of energy forecasting.It should be noted that these scenarios do not represent the extremes – e.g. a ban on PV installations, or a return to premium gross feed-in tariffs. It should be noted that these scenarios do not represent the extremes – e.g. a ban on PV installations, or a return to premium gross feed-in tariffs.   Organisation-wide Implications for AEMO 6 PV deployment of this scale has the potential to impact many areas of AEMO’s operations in the electricity market. Forecasting and planning will be strongly impacted by PV, which could contribute 50-150% of the forecast growth in generation capacity over the coming ten years 7 The Economics of the Inevitable . PV is likely to impact upon loss factors, and create additional requirements for Ancillary Services. Dispatch (and its forecasting) will be affected by weather-related factors across a wide area due to the broad swathe of PV installations. Managing a variable non-dispatchable power source will require careful reserve management. PV may impact upon the metering requirements, and particularly in network connections. AEMO’s experience integrating wind power into the NEM will service it well, though there will be major differences with a distributed generation on an equivalent scale. What drives such levels of deployment? Over the coming years, government policy will continue to contribute a great deal through such actions as the solar multiplier, Solar Flagships, the ACT solar Auction, the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target, and possibly the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. However, these policies merely accelerate deployment of solar, which (due to its economics and simplicity) will in the medium-term will inevitably be popular as a simple way of reducing the high costs of residential and commercial power. Further, the rapid deployment scenario sees solar electricity as being cost competitive with the wholesale price of generation by 2022 when reduced transport losses and time-of-day value are accounted for. “[US Energy Secretary] Chu’s predictions means that the government’s of the world’s three biggest energy users, China, the US and India, each believe that the cost of utility scale solar will be cheaper than fossil fuels by 2020 at the latest.”8 The fundamental drivers of increasingly favourable financial returns for solar power are the ever increasing residential electricity price and the ever-decreasing price of solar power systems. Figure 4 demonstrates the financial returns available from a 5kW system (assumed to export 50% of its power), under a range of electricity price forecasts. The reduction in solar multiplier and anticipated end to feed-in tariffs notwithstanding, solar power is clearly attractive to the end user.     Organisation-wide Implications for AEMO 6 PV deployment of this scale has the potential to impact many areas of AEMO’s operations in the electricity market. Forecasting and planning will be strongly impacted by PV, which could contribute 50-150% of the forecast growth in generation capacity over the coming ten years 7 The Economics of the Inevitable . PV is likely to impact upon loss factors, and create additional requirements for Ancillary Services. Dispatch (and its forecasting) will be affected by weather-related factors across a wide area due to the broad swathe of PV installations. Managing a variable non-dispatchable power source will require careful reserve management. PV may impact upon the metering requirements, and particularly in network connections. AEMO’s experience integrating wind power into the NEM will service it well, though there will be major differences with a distributed generation on an equivalent scale. What drives such levels of deployment? Over the coming years, government policy will continue to contribute a great deal through such actions as the solar multiplier, Solar Flagships, the ACT solar Auction, the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target, and possibly the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. However, these policies merely accelerate deployment of solar, which (due to its economics and simplicity) will in the medium-term will inevitably be popular as a simple way of reducing the high costs of residential and commercial power. Further, the rapid deployment scenario sees solar electricity as being cost competitive with the wholesale price of generation by 2022 when reduced transport losses and time-of-day value are accounted for. “[US Energy Secretary] Chu’s predictions means that the government’s of the world’s three biggest energy users, China, the US and India, each believe that the cost of utility scale solar will be cheaper than fossil fuels by 2020 at the latest.”8 The fundamental drivers of increasingly favourable financial returns for solar power are the ever increasing residential electricity price and the ever-decreasing price of solar power systems. Figure 4 demonstrates the financial returns available from a 5kW system (assumed to export 50% of its power), under a range of electricity price forecasts. The reduction in solar multiplier and anticipated end to feed-in tariffs notwithstanding, solar power is clearly attractive to the end user.   ScenarioGW cumulative by end 2021NEM Connected behind the meter 2021Percentage of National Generation Capacity, 2021Percentage of NEM Generation 202010Percentage ofowned homeswith PV 2020 Slow Uptake5.84.38.3%2.0%23% Moderate Uptake9.56.613.5%3.0%28% Rapid Uptake14.910.021.4%4.5%36% Slow Uptake: Indeed, it would take a dramatic fall in the Australian Dollar, turnaround in recent trends in electricity prices, breakthrough in other renewable energy technologies, or an act of deliberate market protectionism to withhold Australian PV installations to 6 GW over the next decade. , adjusted for time-of-generation and loss-reduction. Moderate Uptake: A more likely scenario is steadily increasing demand from the residential and commercial sectors, and a considerable contribution to the RET in its later years, resulting in 10 GW over the coming decade. Such levels of demand could force gentailers to embrace PV, in order to continue to sell energy of some form. Rapid Uptake: It is well within the realms of possibility that, should current electricity prices trends continue (for any number of reasons), PV being as cheap as wholesale time-of-day power by the end of the decade would result in surging demand for PV on all commercial buildings, households doubling their system size, and CEFC assistance resulting in a previously unthinkable contribution to the RET resulting in 15 GW over the coming decade. With financial returns in all sectors equivalent to those seen in NSW’s solar heyday, such demand for solar would have an unprecedented impact upon the electricity sector – with 30% of standing capacity, solar would have the potential to cause frequent shutdowns of gas turbines.