Do you remember the predictions of solar industry consolidation? Predictions that eventually the market would consolidate from 4000 businesses to four or forty major solar companies serving the Australian market?

The logic seemed sound: the solar market was contracting year on year from 2012-2016, and the residential backbone was eroding even faster. Along with it, system prices kept falling, meaning revenue was plummeting even as operating costs and red tape rose.

America had seen the market share of the top player exceed 40% - wasn’t this Australia’s destiny? Wasn’t Origin or AGL or SunEdison or True Value Solar going to sweep away all the small businesses? Force the exit of smaller players either by out-competing them or by buying them out?

What was a small business to do, except grimly hold on and hope that the others went bust before them? Grimly holding on meant matching your competitors prices at a level that was absurdly and unsustainably low.

Or a small business could pray each night that a buyer would come along. Apart from a couple of fellas who got lucky - selling their business at the height of the solarcoaster and returning to solar in 2017’s boom year, most that discussed selling up discovered their business value was practically worthless. The value of their pipeline was more than offset by the potential liability of past installations, leaving business processes being the only value in a solar company - processes that weren’t particularly robust, easy enough to recreate, and processes that a buyer would find difficult to integrate into their own.

Now there have been plenty of businesses that have gone bust in the past 5 years. This would suggest a degree of industry consolidation has occurred through attrition. However it seems that an equal number of businesses have been started.

The charts below prove that industry consolidation has not occurred. Indeed, SunWiz’s market assessment demonstrates that the opposite has occurred: the solar industry is now more competitive than ever, with no single company able to dominate.

Read more: The Market Consolidation that never happened

The Australian solar industry should take a collective bow. Well, catch its breath first, and then take a collective bow. 2017 was a magnificent, record setting year for solar installations, and many people were still up on roofs installing over the summer break. It may actually not be possible to pause to catch breath, as we're already hearing that January 2018 is notably busier for commerical sales than in past years.

SunWiz has a crazy busy January too, compiling all the data for the 2017 Year in Review, and for reporting to the CEC and IEA. But we can't contain our excitement at the figures we're seeing, so we're taking a moment out to publish some pretty impressive data (even if we do say so ourselves).

So, here's some highlights from the 2017 Year in Review, to whet your appetite:

  1. Installation Tally
  2. Incredible Growth
  3. Robust Growth across the nation
  4. Residential Rebound and Commercial Skyrocket
  5. Solar Panel Imports worth $1,200,000,000
  6. Highlight #6: Some fantastic news

All the glorious charts illustrating these highlights follow...

Read more: Highlights of Australia's 1.25GW of PV installations in 2017

Even before it had come to a close, 2017 was a record breaking year for Australian PV. Almost 1.1 GW of rooftop PV was installed in the STC market and at least another 0.1 GW of PV above 100kW was commissioned. We haven't finalised our numbers, but this means at least 1.2GW of PV was installed in 2017; quite possibly 1.3GW.

Many businesses worked right up until Christmas, and some even worked up until 31st December in order to get installations completed before the STC deeming period reduced. Hopefully everyone has had a refreshing break, no doubt during which the question was pondered: will it be a Happy New Year for Australian PV: can we sustain or even increase volumes in 2018, or will volumes dive?

Well if our twitter poll is anything to go by, 2018 will see an increase on 2017's volumes in the rooftop market, with the overwhelming consensus being an increase in the volume of rooftop PV that will be installed. 

Businesses are confident, at least. But is their confidence well founded? Let's examine 2018.

Read more: 2018 - Can Australian PV keep up the pace set by 2017's record breaking year

Wow, what a year! 2017 broke so many records, and it's been a full time job just keeping track of all the solar that's been installed.

We've already identified 100 projects over 100kW that were commissioned in 2017, and I'm sure there's more to crawl out of the woodwork. The current tally has a total capacity of 116MW, which is sure to rise.

Read more: 100+ Australian PV projects over 100kW commissioned in 2017 - is yours listed?

2017 has been a year of records for Australian solar power, and the year's not even finished yet. Here are some of the highlights of the 10 records that have been broken in 2017 (some of them multiple times):

Before we do, if you don't already subscribe to our Insights service, then a) you're missing out on regular updates like these, and b) now is the perfect time to get our 2016 Year in Review - which includes a 3 month subscription to Insights that means you'll also automatically receive the 2017 Year in Review

  1. Fastest time to reach 1GW of commissioned solar in a calendar year. There's only been one year where Australia has commissioned more than 1GW of PV - this was in 2012, where there was 1.01GW of sub-100kW PV and 1.06GW of PV commissioned in total.
    Analysis of the 2017 STC market shows that 972MW of sub-100kW PV has been registered in 2017 - however, 79MW of this 2016 installations that registered STCs in 2017. Therefore our current total is 893MW of sub-100kW PV commissioned in 2017 - a figure that looks set to reach 1.05GW once the final tally is in.
    SunWiz's Large-scale Lookout tracks every system above 100kW that is mentioned publicly. It shows that over 114MW of systems over 100kW have already been commissioned in 2017 (of which Kidston Solar Farm contributed 50MW). Our current tally is therefore 1.00 GW by the end of November. 

    Read more: 2017 - Australia's record-breaking year for solar power. 1GW already commissioned

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