This report estimates the total potential for rooftop solar to be 179 gigawatts with an annual energy output of 245 terawatt-hours.
It was produced in collaboration with the University of New South Wales and the Institute for Sustainable Futures, and can be downloaded here. The analysis was undertaken by Jessie Copper, Mike Roberts and Anna Bruce, Australia’s experts in solar potential spatial analysis and creators of the APVI SunSPoT Tool.
What do these figures mean?
The potential annual output from rooftop solar is greater than current consumption in the national electricity market (just under 200 TWh per year).Australia is currently using less than 5 per cent of the potential capacity for rooftop solar.
Where is the greatest potential for rooftop solar?
• Around half of the unused potential for rooftop solar is in residential zones.
• While most would think of dense urban centres in capital cities for rooftop solar, the second largest potential (34 GW) is in primary / rural production zones.
• Commercial and industrial zones together have the potential for 26 GW of rooftop solar.
In interpreting these results, it is important to understand that planning zones do not correspond neatly with building types. There are commercial buildings inside residential, mixed, industrial and primary production zones. Consequently, some of the capacity inside primary and rural production zones is likely to be commercial and industrial buildings.
As a first study, there will be further data that will refine this estimate in time– and beyond refinements of the APVI methods for factors such as shading there will be rooftops that are not actually suitable for solar (e.g. due to structural integrity issues).
Our study does not suggest Australia could or should source all its power from rooftop solar. But noting these caveats, our study does indicate that even with the strong recent growth, Australia has only just scratched the surface of the potential. There are still many barriers to rooftop solar which if they were to be addressed by governments, investors and communities could unlock a large volume of clean energy.
Maps of the rooftop solar potential for each Local Government Area are available on the Australian Renewable Mapping Initiative (AREMI) and APVI Map website.