After a year of record sales that defied the economic impact of the global pandemic, Australia’s solar energy industry is poised for more growth in 2021, according to Enphase Energy general manager APAC, Wilf Johnston.

He said the current residential sales trajectory will continue as consumers take advantage of lower prices, smarter technology and higher industry standards.

“Across the industry, residential solar system sales were probably up 25 per cent compared to 2019,” Johnston said.

“Enphase in Australia has achieved its best-ever sales performance, which has seen us launch our Enphase Installer Network nationally and establish new channels, such as IKEA and Solargain.

“The reason that residential solar continues to be very hot is that it's now a no-brainer for most people. The payback times are ridiculously good, from as low as one and a half years to four or five years. “

Johnston said there has also been plenty of discussion around industry standards and improving safety and the quality of installations.

He said solar PV safety standards will be strengthened during 2021.

“Fire remains a pretty big risk, every month there are reports of systems catching fire, whether it's due to poor installation or just inherently risky technology. If you have high DC voltages running all over the roof, then at some point, statistically, something will probably go wrong.”

With solar panels on only one in five houses there is still plenty more room for growth.

 “We’re seeing residential properties with more complex roofs now going for bigger systems because the prices are so good,” Johnston said.

“Also, as electric vehicles become more common, it makes sense to oversize your system to generate more energy than your house needs, put it in a battery and then charge up your EV overnight.”

Johnston said distributed energy sources like solar PV and batteries already contribute to the grid but will need to play a more structured part in that process.

“At the moment, we are almost gate-crashing the electricity market. The products are out there. People are buying them, people install them, but it’s not being strategically coordinated with the way the market and the grid is going,” he said.

“What’s exciting for Enphase is that the inverter sits at the interface between the grid, the market, and what people have in their homes."

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