Solar panel rate in WA quadruples

The take-up of rooftop solar panels in Perth and the South West has soared to near record levels despite the withdrawal of generous taxpayer-funded subsidies, new figures have revealed.

State-owned electricity retailer Synergy has confirmed about 2500 of its customers are installing solar panels every month.

The rate of installation is four times higher than the original solar boom in 2010, while the renewable energy industry's Clean Energy Council has named Mandurah as Australia's top solar suburb, with 6503 installations.

Synergy said about 112,000 of its customers, or more than one in 10, now had photovoltaic cells.

In comparison, just 1000 households had them in July 2008.

The figures are the latest indication of the rampant popularity of solar panels more than 18 months after the State Government axed its subsidy scheme amid a massive cost blowout. Sales also defy moves by the Federal Government over recent years to roll back its rebate program for solar systems.

Synergy chief executive Trevor James said the trend was not all good news, warning the increasing capacity of households to generate their own electricity was eating into the utility's sales. "The surge in demand for photovoltaic cells has contributed to a reduction in the level of energy sales in the (South West electricity grid) over the past couple of years," Mr James said.

The Clean Energy Council said more than one million Australian households had rooftop solar cells.

Canning Vale, with 4117 installations, and the northern Perth suburb of Hocking, with 4091, were eighth and ninth on the council's top 10 solar suburbs list. All the other postcodes in the top 10 were in Queensland.

The council said factors fuelling the rush to solar panels included the more modest price paid to households for the excess power they produced, the fall in the retail prices of solar panels amid an influx of Chinese products and soaring electricity tariffs - which have risen 69 per cent in WA since 2009.

'The surge in demand for photovoltaic cells has contributed to a reduction in the level of energy sales.'"Synergy chief executive *Trevor James *