Sun shines on solar sales

More than one in 10 Western Australian households have a rooftop solar installation, according to figures that show the state is second only to South Australia in the take-up of photovoltaic systems.

The Clean Energy Council recently released data showing demand for solar panels soared last year, despite federal and state governments cutting incentives on offer.

The council said almost 83,000 or 11 per cent of Western Australian households had solar installations, equal to Queensland but above the national average of 9 per cent.

South Australia had the highest concentration rate of 14 per cent, while New South Wales (8.8 per cent), Victoria (5.7 per cent) and Tasmania (3 per cent) were all lower.

Ranked by postcodes, the Pinjarra area led the charge, with almost a quarter of houses with a solar power system.

The Ellenbrook area was a close second, while the postcode that covers Canning Vale and Willetton had a take-up rate close to 20 per cent.

The figures show demand almost doubled in 2011 compared with the previous year, when there were 47,000 solar panels. In 2009, the number was just 13,000.

The figures defy predictions of a meltdown in the industry following moves by governments to wind back subsidies to householders for solar panels.

Last July, the Barnett Government halved the rate that it paid homes with solar systems to ‘export’ energy into the grid from 40c per unit to 20c, before scrapping it altogether in August.

The decision came after the Federal Government announced it would cut more deeply than expected the rebate offered to householders for the up-front cost of putting solar panels on their roof.

State-owned electricity retailer Synergy still offers small-scale customers 7c for every unit of excess renewable energy they produce.