Quantcast

Why Australia's Solar Market is in Grave Danger

Business

While some countries are taking in the success of setting records within their solar industries, other nations are doing whatever it takes to preserve their own.

Some in Australia say that Prime Minister Tony Abbott has changed his stance on renewable energy now that his place in office is secure. Abbott promised to keep the country's renewable energy target (RET) of 20-percent renewable electricity generation by 2020 intact. Now, the prime minister has taken control over a scheduled review within his department and has publicly stated that the RET may not work and needs to be a reassessed.

The Labor political party's environmental spokesman Mark Butler says the situation is even worse.

“The Liberals went to the election saying there was no difference between the parties on renewable energy, but they weren’t being straight with the Australian people because now they are launching a full-frontal attack,” he said.

Solar supporters in Australia say they have been duped by Prime Minister Abbott, who wants to alter or eliminate the country's renewable energy target. Photo credit: CleantechFundr

Butler believes the sudden change of heart is ideological and can be best combated by drumming up community support. The Australian Solar Council and CleantechFundr are trying to do so through the Save Solar campaign, launched this week. In January, Solar Business Services estimated that about 7,000 jobs could be lost if Australia eliminates its RET. That amount includes 2,000 next year within the photovoltaic industry.

The RET also proves as an assurance for those who invest in renewable energy. The dollars could stop flowing if the government says it is no longer behind solar, wind and other forms. One of Abbott's first orders after the election was the suspension of loans from the Clean Energy Finance Corp. The country has also seen funding cuts to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and renewable subsidies.

"If all of those things and the RET goes away, it has a combined phenomenal impact on the propensity of people to proceed with solar," solar industry analyst Nigel Morris told AAP.

That would be a far cry from 2008, when environment minister Greg Hunt went skydiving to symbolize the "free fall" the solar industry was in after former Prime Minster Kevin Rudd launched a means test on solar panel rebates.

 Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes believes the industry is thriving and has the figures to prove it. The Save Solar campaign was built on the belief that the RET works because:

  • 5 million Australians now have solar on their homes;

  • 15,000 Australians have jobs in the solar industry;

  • 4,500 businesses in the solar industry and

  • About 3.5 million people say they want to go solar in the next five years.

Morris added that the RET has "virtually no cost" to the government.

“We have to accept that in the changed circumstances of today, the renewable energy target is causing pretty significant price pressure in the system and we ought to be an affordable energy superpower," Abbott said around Christmas. "Cheap energy ought to be one of our comparative advantages … what we will be looking at is what we need to do to get power prices down significantly."

Abbott said he would work with Maurice Newman, chairman of his business advisory council, to find a solution. Newman said the RET should be scrapped months before Abbott won the election.

According to the Australian Energy Market Commission, the RET has increased retail energy prices by 3.5 percent.

"If the RET is unchanged, an additional 8,000 solar PV jobs are expected to be created by 2018," Grimes wrote in January.

"Don’t smash an industry that will help 1.5 million more Australians go solar in the next 2 years."

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A vegan diet can improve your health, but experts say it's important to keep track of nutrients and protein. Getty Images

By Dan Gray

  • Research shows that 16 weeks of a vegan diet can boost the gut microbiome, helping with weight loss and overall health.
  • A healthy microbiome is a diverse microbiome. A plant-based diet is the best way to achieve this.
  • It isn't necessary to opt for a strictly vegan diet, but it's beneficial to limit meat intake.

New research shows that following a vegan diet for about 4 months can boost your gut microbiome. In turn, that can lead to improvements in body weight and blood sugar management.

Read More Show Less
Students gathered at the National Mall in Washington DC, Sept. 20. NRDC

By Jeff Turrentine

Nearly 20 years have passed since the journalist Malcolm Gladwell popularized the term tipping point, in his best-selling book of the same name. The phrase denotes the moment that a certain idea, behavior, or practice catches on exponentially and gains widespread currency throughout a culture. Having transcended its roots in sociological theory, the tipping point is now part of our everyday vernacular. We use it in scientific contexts to describe, for instance, the climatological point of no return that we'll hit if we allow average global temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. But we also use it to describe everything from resistance movements to the disenchantment of hockey fans when their team is on a losing streak.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
samael334 / iStock / Getty Images

By Ruairi Robertson, PhD

Berries are small, soft, round fruit of various colors — mainly blue, red, or purple.

Read More Show Less
A glacier is seen in the Kenai Mountains on Sept. 6, near Primrose, Alaska. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have been studying the glaciers in the area since 1966 and their studies show that the warming climate has resulted in sustained glacial mass loss as melting outpaced the accumulation of new snow and ice. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Mark Mancini

On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.

Read More Show Less
Members of Chicago Democratic Socialists of America table at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18. Alex Schwartz

By Alex Schwartz

Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
StephanieFrey / iStock / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Muffins are a popular, sweet treat.

Read More Show Less
Hackney primary school students went to the Town Hall on May 24 in London after school to protest about the climate emergency. Jenny Matthews / In Pictures / Getty Images

By Caroline Hickman

Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?

Read More Show Less
Myrtle warbler. Gillfoto / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Bird watching in the U.S. may be a lot harder than it once was, since bird populations are dropping off in droves, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less