CANBERRA, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- The number of Australian homes with photovoltaic solar panels installed has passed two million, government data has revealed.
According to the Clean Energy Regulator, the independent authority responsible for reducing carbon emissions and promoting renewable energy, one in five Australian households had panels as of late November.
The share of homes with panels was highest in South Australia (SA) and Queensland at 31 and 30 percent, respectively.
Photovoltaic systems have been installed in Australian homes at a rate of more than 500 per day since the one millionth was installed in February 2013.
While the rate at which the systems have been installed has soared so has the capacity of those systems.
The total capacity of the first million systems was 2.4 gigawatts compared to 5.6 gigawatts for the second million.
"It's a combination: panel prices (nationwide) have never been this low and electricity prices have never been this high," Warwick Johnston, managing director of consultancy firm SunWiz, told Fairfax Media.
According to the National Electricity Market (NEM), which provides more than 80 percent of Australians with their power, solar is the second biggest source of electricity in Australia behind coal.
Kane Thornton, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council, said households with panels installed were saving 540 Australian dollars (397.3 U.S. dollars) every year on their power bills; a return on investment of around 20 percent.
"An average of six panels a minute are being installed in Australia, with the Australian Energy Market Operator estimating an average of 10-20 panels a minute if large-scale solar projects are factored in," he said.