There are 22 postcodes in Australia where half or more of households have rooftop solar PV with the majority in Queensland and Western Australia. The suburbs of Baldivis (Western Australia; 69% uptake), Elimbah (Queensland; 63% uptake) and Tamborine (Queensland; 57% uptake) are leading the way with installations on houses. Suburbs with high levels of rooftop solar PV have generally low to medium income levels and tend to be located in the outer metropolitan “mortgage belt”, or in regional areas.
Some new suburbs are now being built with 100% solar. For example, Denman Prospect in Canberra will be the first suburb in Australia to require a minimum of 3kW of solar PV on every house (Canberra Times 2015). Breezes Muirhead in Darwin being developed by Defence Housing Australia plans to include a 4.5kW solar system and charging points for electric vehicles on each house – features which are anticipated to save residents over $2,000 a year on their electricity bills (Renew Economy 2015).
Other recent developments include the largest residential “virtual power plant” in the world, which went live in March 2017 in Adelaide (AGL 2017). The virtual power plant is made up of numerous individual solar battery systems installed in homes. The batteries store excess solar energy to use when required and the virtual power plant will sometimes help support the electricity grid by providing stored electricity to power the home or to feed back into the grid. 1,000 batteries are expected to be installed across Adelaide by the end of next year (AGL 2017).
Meanwhile, in Western Australia, Horizon Power has run a successful trial of solar and battery storage in remote locations, providing reliable power, with more systems to be rolled out by the end of the year (ABC 2017a).