This paper outlines opportunities for, and barriers to, increasing PV deployment on apartment buildings in Australia. With PV penetration reaching 40% of residential dwellings in some parts of the country, access to renewable energy for the 14% of Australians who live in apartments has lagged behind. Installation of PV on apartment buildings can help relieve network congestion as well as reduce household energy bills, and with multi-unit dwellings accounting for 25% of new residential building, the opportunities are significant.
Most apartment buildings in Australia operate under strata title which enables individuals or businesses to own a section of a property, while sharing ownership of the common property (CP) of the building. Despite some major advantages of this framework compared with other approaches, issues around strata organisation have led to a perception that PV on apartments is ‘too hard.’ However, new models are emerging, including those from developers and from community energy organisations, to overcome these barriers to PV deployment.
The huge variety amongst existing building stock precludes standardised retrofitting solutions for PV, while financial viability of such systems is highly dependent on specific load profiles and network tariffs. PV can potentially be installed to supply electricity to CP, to serve individual apartments, or as a resource shared between multiple apartments through embedded networks or virtual net metering. Each approach has particular technical, legal, regulatory and financial issues. The paper explores these issues, and suggests some possible paths forward to facilitate the deployment of PV in multi-unit strata-titled buildings.