Solar panel installations remain near record rate despite COVID-19

Australians’ interest in solar panels is so far defying the disruption of the coronavirus, with registrations in April running at the second-highest monthly rate on record.

Data on small-scale solar systems show about 237 megawatts of new photovoltaic capacity were added to the nation’s roofs last month, a jump of 56 per cent from April 2019, according to Green Energy Markets. Only March was bigger at 248MW.

Solar demand is holding up so far - but future demand trends remain unclear.

Solar demand is holding up so far – but future demand trends remain unclear.Credit: Supplied

“It’s particularly impressive given April tends to be a lower month due to smaller number of working days,” director of analysis at the consultancy Tristan Edis said.

“We’ve already passed 900MW of rooftop solar for the year and it’s only April.”

While demand has held up so, Mr Edis cautioned that the pace of installations is not likely to hold, particularly as household financials get strained because of forced layoffs because of the virus-related lockdown.

Feedback from the industry suggests that customer enquiries have dropped off substantially, in the order of 25-50 per cent, he said. “However many installers had a backlog of orders to complete of about six weeks’ worth of work,” he said.

Governments such as NSW are considering ways to fuel a recovery in the economy as restrictions ease, with a boost to renewable energy take-up among the options being considered.