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US Solar Census highlights boom while Australia dithers

Figures released overnight by the US Solar Foundation, as part of their annual National Solar Jobs Census, reveal a growth industry that employs twice as many people as the American coal industry.

“We shouldn't be surprised at these figures, but they should be a true wake up call to our leaders in Australia, the sunniest country on earth,” said Shani Tager, Senior Solar Campaigner, Solar Citizens.

“These are some substantial numbers that once again reinforce the enormous employment and investment opportunities that solar power technology offers right around the world.

“This is what the solar revolution looks like and Australia really needs to up its game to make sure that we don't miss out on the bright opportunities of this boom.

“Right now, our national leaders seem to not just be asleep at the wheel on renewable energy policy, but contemplating flicking the switch to a polluting past,” said Tager.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in March last year, showed that in Australia there were 7480 jobs in solar pv, and 830 in large scale solar. The number of jobs in rooftop solar had collapsed from a previous high of around 14,300 jobs four years before.

The National Solar Jobs Census is the first and most authoritative US national benchmark for solar jobs research. It serves a critical role in understanding the impact of solar energy development in the United States. http://www.thesolarfoundation.org/solar-jobs-census/

First conducted in 2010, the US National Solar Jobs Census uses a rigorous, dual methodology to derive total solar employment figures, as well as important insights as reported by the thousands of employers who participate in data collection.

“It is startling to see that there are more solar workers in the US than people employed at Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google combined.

“Solar technology is clearly where the future is,” she said.

This Census reveals that in 2016 there were 260,077 American jobs in solar, a 25% increase from 2015. Solar jobs grew 17 times faster than the overall economy in 2016, with 1 in 50 new jobs in 2016 being solar workers.

“The Solar Foundation’s data confirms that solar employs more than twice as many Americans as the entire coal industry and as many Americans as the natural gas industry.

“Investment in solar pv has been the backbone of the renewables revolution in Australia but we clearly need to urgently get our policy settings right so we don't miss the boom of investment and opportunities that other countries, like the US, are attracting,” said Ms Tager.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: andrew@holdfast.global

Another Prime Minister parrots the same nonsense on renewables

Prime Minister Turnbull’s speech at the Press Club today is yet another in a long line of examples of how out of touch the Federal Government is on renewable energy policy.

“To anyone who has an eye on the future it was remarkable in its denial of facts and its refusal to recognise that the renewables revolution is here, and is being driven by state governments like South Australia in this country,” said Maria Cirillo, Deputy National Director, Solar Citizens.

“The Prime Minister has again failed on the basics, an astounding situation in 2017, when he says ‘the battlelines have been drawn - it is clear that the Coalition stands for cheaper energy’ he quite simply - does not get it.

“Solar drives down costs and is the future – storage of solar gives stability, reliability and security - the Prime Minister should stop listening to his supporters in the coal industry and start looking at the future - it is here, it is waving at us, and it is very, very attractive,” she said.

“The Prime Minister is out of touch, solar is the most popular energy source amongst Australians, and they want more of it, the speech shows he is determined to continue to mislead the Australian public on what is really driving up power prices.

“1.6 million households have already taken power back into their own hands by investing in clean solar on their own rooftops, more people are considering solar and storage for their homes than ever before, she said.

“We do note his apparent support for storage, but time will be the test of this support.

“The Prime Minister should support Australians in making the move, rather than focusing on outdated energy solutions and through his attack on state renewable targets, he again shows he is not across national energy issues.

“When he says ‘the next incarnation of our national energy policy should be technology agnostic - it’s security and cost that matter most, not how you deliver it. Policy should be “all of the above technologies” working together to deliver the trifecta of secure and affordable power while meeting our emission reduction commitments’ while simultaneously floating the illusory benefits of ‘clean’ coal and talking down the benefits of solar, we want to tell him clearly, he is dreaming.

“It seems the Prime Minister has again nailed his flag to the mast of the past,” she said.

“Any Prime Minister worth his salt in 2017, should be supporting the future in renewables and moving away from our dirty coal past,” she said.

“The Prime Minister has failed miserably today, we note that he uses the word ‘solar’ three times, ‘climate’ once but ‘coal’ eight times in this speech, such a shame,” Cirillo said.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: andrew@holdfast.global

VIC Government solar trams announcement another sign of a State for the future

Today’s announcement by the Victorian Government, giving the green light for a proposal to power Melbourne’s iconic tram network with solar, is yet more evidence of the leadership and future focus of the current Victorian administration.

“This is an incredibly exciting day for the renewable energy sector in Australia,” said Maria Cirillo, Deputy Director, Solar Citizens.

“There will be an open tender process carried out to build a brand new, large scale solar farm in regional Victoria to generate the electricity to power Melbourne’s tram network - with the intention for this to all be up and running within just two years.

“We congratulate the Minister and the government of Victoria and hope that other political leaders are watching this and thinking through how they too can join the solar revolution.

“Jobs in the regions, investment, emissions reductions - it’s hard to see how you could criticise such a step,” she said.

“The race is on, those who ignore or deny the fundamental economic shift that is upon is, will quite simply, be left behind.

“Today’s announcement comes on the back of several recent Victorian Government announcements which position that state as a true renewable energy leader in this country.

“The global investment boom in renewable energy is well underway and now is the time to refine our national energy policy settings to ensure Australia is best-placed to reap the economic and environmental benefits of the boom.

“It’s hard to find another sector that displays such real job prospects, innovation and a practical response to the challenge of diversifying and strengthening our economy.

“It is well past time for the Federal Government and other states and territories to all step up and follow Victoria’s lead,” said Cirillo.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: andrew@holdfast.global

If you can’t stand the heat, install some solar panels

As Sydney and NSW sweat through another heat wave, Solar Citizens are reminding consumers and policymakers that the time is right to understand the network wide benefits of installing solar

With NSW in the midst of another full blown heat wave, many people will be looking at that angry sun and wondering why indeed we are not harvesting its power more, especially as NSW’s ageing, and polluting power infrastructure, groans under unprecedented demand.

“Our best advice is, if you can't stand the heat, or you can't even fathom the costs of running those air conditioners, then quite simply - install some solar panels,” said Maria Cirillo, Deputy National Director, Solar Citizens.

“It’s a message that consumers are hearing but our political leaders seem to be blocking out.

“Solar is most effective on hot, sunny days, right when the grid is groaning under the strain of demand - like today.

“Our State of Solar Report, released last year, revealed a detailed national evaluation of the benefits of Australia’s solar rooftop boom quantifying out-of-pocket investment, the jobs created, savings made on power bills and environmental benefits,”

“$7bn of out-of-pocket investment in rooftop solar pv, $4.4bn in bill savings and in terms of environmental benefits, 6 million tonnes of CO2 expected to be averted in 2016 alone.

“it is safe to assume that when we run the numbers this year, these figures will have ballooned further.

“investment in solar pv has been the backbone of the renewables revolution in Australia,” she said.

“Summer in the state of NSW is a great time to remind ourselves of this fact.

“The solar revolution is not a Sydney thing, it is a regional thing – and analysis of solar uptake in NSW (see below) is startlingly clear – out of the top ten electorates for solar uptake, all are regional, and 9 out of the ten are in Liberal or National held seats.

“That’s a lot of heat out there following the demise of the NSW FiT scheme.

“Australian political leaders need to understand just how much the average Australian themselves have committed of their own money to play a part in the transition of our power system. With 5 million Australians (or 1 in 5 voters) living under a solar roof, this is potent political constituency,” she said

“Solar producers are up against hugely powerful companies and corporations who are trying to make obscene profits from the energy they generate. Solar owners only want a fair go for the contribution they make to powering Australia and taking pressure off the grid, on these stinking hot days, we need to remind people of this,” said Cirillo.

“The people across NSW, farming the sun, while the cities, suburbs and streets swelter, are deserving a fair price for solar that recognises the true value sun power delivers to the community,” she said.

“The price paid to rooftop solar owners should be linked to the wholesale market. Solar is actually produced at peak times during hot days when the sun is shining and air-conditioners raise demand so it is inherently more valuable.

“We will be working tirelessly to ensure that in the year ahead, they get one – from Albury to Dubbo to Drummoyne,” she said.

If you can’t stand the heat, install some solar panels

*From: Aug 2016 data: http://www.elections.nsw.gov.au/enrol_to_vote/enrolment_statistics

**Based on 2 voters per install

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: andrew@holdfast.global

No matter what politicians and regulators claim, we need a fair price for solar - and we need it now

Solar Citizens believes that today’s decision by the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) to remove the minimum price for solar exports is out of step with regulators nationally and shows an absolute lack of understanding in the South Australian electricity market - and a blatant disregard for solar owners - 197,500 households across the state.

“What we need right across the country is a real, fair dinkum price for solar that recognises all of the benefits that solar provides,” said Claire O’Rourke, National Director, Solar Citizens.

“South Australia’s electricity companies will no longer be required to pay households with solar panels for the excess power generated by their rooftop units that they feed into the electricity grid.

“Tens of thousands of solar owners in South Australia will now be offered nothing for their excess solar sent to the grid and that is a loss for all electricity consumers in South Australia.

“The decision will affect the 197,500 households with solar in South Australia, particularly the 60,000 households that lost their 16c guaranteed price through the Solar Bonus Scheme earlier this year.

“The wealthy and powerful handful of companies who run power in the State will then on sell the power that these solar households produce at a premium, while the primary producer of that power makes nothing, zero.

“This is a clear demonstration of a broken market — an electricity market in desperate need of reform,” Ms O’Rourke said.

“Any rational examination of the rates on offer by the large retail electricity companies cannot escape the fact that only two of them are offering rates above the minimum rate.

“This market the big power companies operate in, and indeed seem to have huge influence over, is obviously broken and it clearly favours maintaining the market dominance of power producers of the past,” she said.

“All of these energy companies have deliberately designed their contracts to be complex and difficult for the ordinary consumer to discern which one is the best value overall eg - a higher feed-in tariff could be undermined by other features in the contract.

“Axing the regulated minimum price is an experiment on SA’s solar owners in an unregulated market where big power companies have disproportionate bargaining power - it’s an experiment that is destined to fail.

“ESCOSA itself has acknowledged that the Energy Made Easy website does not provide useful comparisons with contracts containing solar RFiTs properly and that it is very difficult to ascertain which contract offer is the best value for solar owners, or indeed any consumer.

“The commission said their decision was based on its view that the market structures that facilitate electricity retail competition are ‘sound’ and continued regulation of the Feed in Tariff might ‘inhibit competition’ in the future.

“Either the ESCOSA has a real lack of understanding in the South Australian electricity market or an incredibly short memory.

“It is the lack of competition in the South Australian electricity market that has been widely identified as a major reason behind recent wholesale price spikes.

“The decision by the ESCOSA ignores the huge value of rooftop solar in South Australia that has helped provide reliable, cheaper electricity and reduce the price of electricity for all South Australians,” she said.

“If we want to encourage a smarter way of generating cheaper energy, we should be valuing solar electricity. Solar power, especially when coupled with battery storage, can provide the solution for higher electricity prices.

“Both the Queensland and Victorian state governments have wide ranging and informed inquiries well underway that are actively examining what the fair price for solar power actually is, and what it’s broader benefits are, and what value these benefits represent.

“The Victorian Essential Services Commission found that solar owners deserve a higher rate because of the environmental benefits distributed solar brings to the state and has moved to set new minimum feed-in tariffs that will see solar producers receive a higher price at peak times.

“We note that ESCOSA in its determination reserves the right in the future to set a minimum price for solar under the SA Electricity Act and as such we call on ESCOSA to immediately investigate recognising the true environmental, network and social benefits that rooftop solar delivers to the community,” said Ms O’Rourke.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: andrew@holdfast.global

Victorian Opposition bizarrely moves to block a fair price for solar

A recent victory for solar owners in the campaign to receive a fair price for the clean, efficient electricity they produce in the state of Victoria is under immediate threat with the Victorian Liberal Party threatening to block legislation by the Victorian Government in the Parliament today.

The Victorian Government recently announced significant improvements to the way rooftop solar and other ‘distributed renewable energy’ is valued by flagging changes that recognise and reward the environmental benefits of rooftop solar and the time of day when rooftop solar is produced.

"This is a first for Australia and last month we stated that we believed the Victorian Government was leading the world with this announcement to better value the benefits of rooftop solar, also know as distributed renewable energy,” Claire O’Rourke, National Director for Solar Citizens said.

“These changes, if successful, would ultimately lead to solar owners receiving a fairer return from the clean, efficient electricity they provide to the grid. Greater reform like these will ensure that all Victorian electricity consumers are better off.

“Independent research shows that the increase of renewable energy including rooftop solar pv has reduced the price of electricity for all consumers”1

“Reports that the Victorian Opposition is trying to block legislation to increase the minimum fair price for solar are unfortunate and if true, display a profound lack of understanding about energy markets and electricity prices,” said O’Rourke.

“The Victorian Government should be applauded for firstly undertaking this rigorous analysis of the ‘true’ value of rooftop solar and now acting to ensure this value is promptly, and properly, realised.

“If the Victorian Liberal Party want to see the market operate as it should, fairly, and on a level playing field basis then they would support this legislation.

“Household rooftop solar offers incredible benefits to our electricity grid - providing cheaper, cleaner, more efficient energy during times when demand - and costs - are greater.

“Coupled with battery storage, rooftop solar also has the potential to provide a more robust, decentralised electricity supply. Until now, these values have not been realised,” she said.

“We hope that the Opposition revise their stated position - we sincerely hope they are not blocking for the sake of politics, all at the expense of Victorian consumers,” said O’Rourke.

Notes
1. See Dylan McConnell, Melbourne Energy Instittue, Paper on the Merit Order Effect: http://mei.insights4.net.au/documents/paper-merit-order-effect

 

NSW Climate and Renewables Policy leaves Federal Government increasingly isolated

November 3, 2016: The announcement today by the NSW Government to eliminate carbon pollution by boosting renewable energy and energy efficiency measures has again shone a spotlight on the absence of any credible policy on renewable energy post 2020 from the Federal Government.

The NSW Government’s policy aims to eliminate carbon emissions by 2050 and has outlined three priority measures by investing in clean energy, leading on energy efficiency and developing climate change mitigation measures.

“This policy is an implicit target of 100% renewable energy by 2050. A target which is entirely possible and will lead to huge benefits for the NSW economy and people,” said Claire O’Rourke, National Director, Solar Citizens.

“This announcement further underscores the urgent need for a national transition plan to coordinate and maximise State policies with a national renewable energy target beyond 2020 - we have no time left to lose on this.

“We congratulate the NSW Government’s focus on both renewable energy and energy efficiency as a way to achieve these goals and we urge the Federal Government to immediately lead on policy to ensure an orderly, planned and fair transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

“NSW still has a long way to go when it comes to its renewable energy capacity and projects - for a long time it has lagged behind other States, many which are already implementing sensible, meaningful targets that are driving clean investment and jobs,” she said.

There are more than 330,000 households in NSW that have invested in renewable energy in a practical way by installing solar on their rooftops to power their homes. Solar Citizens looks forward to providing input into the policy, in particular, policy mechanisms to support and grow rooftop solar.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: andrew@holdfast.global

Solar Citizens is an independent, community-based organisation bringing together millions of solar owners and supporters to grow and protect solar in Australia. Together, we take action to protect the rights of millions of Australians with solar to cut bills, create clean power and take energy generation back into our own hands.

VIC Government leads the country with true price for solar announcement

Solar owners are claiming a significant victory in the campaign to receive a fair price for the clean, efficient electricity 1.5 million households produce every day in Australia.

The Victorian Government has just announced significant improvements to the way rooftop solar and other ‘distributed renewable energy’ is valued by flagging changes that recognise and reward the environmental benefits of rooftop solar and the time at which rooftop solar is produced.

"This is a first for Australia and indeed the Victorian Government is leading the world with this announcement to better value the benefits of rooftop solar or distributed renewable energy,” Reece Turner, Consumer Campaigner for Solar Citizens said.

“These changes will ultimately lead to solar owners receiving more value from the clean, efficient electricity they provide to the grid and increase the incentives for people to add solar which is providing cheaper, cleaner electricity to all consumers.

“The Victorian Government should be applauded for firstly undertaking this rigorous analysis of the ‘true’ value of rooftop solar and now acting to ensure this value is promptly, and properly, realised.

“These changes will result in relatively modest gains for solar owners but they do set the stage for a fairer and more reflective assessment of the value rooftop solar brings to our grid,” he said.

“Household rooftop solar offers incredible benefits to our electricity grid - providing cheaper, cleaner, more efficient energy during times when demand - and costs - are greater.

“Coupled with battery storage, rooftop solar also has the potential to provide a more robust, decentralised electricity supply. Until now, these values have not been realised,” he said.

“This Victorian announcement sits in stark contrast to the flailing policies of other States, particularly NSW which has a zero minimum feed-in price for solar and in South Australia where the regulator is proposing to remove the minimum feed-in price.

“The Queensland Government is sitting on a report it commissioned into a fair price for solar but the draft report failed to recommend any changes.

“This is a great first step however other benefits of solar lie in a more efficient electricity grid.

“The Victorian Government has indicated these benefits should also be realised and we look forward to the next stage of the inquiry,” said Turner.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: andrew@holdfast.global

Solar Citizens is an independent, community-based organisation bringing together millions of solar owners and supporters to grow and protect solar in Australia. Together, we take action to protect the rights of millions of Australians with solar to cut bills, create clean power and take energy generation back into our own hands.

Queensland’s Renewable Energy Roadmap exposes lack of national policy for renewable energy

Queensland’s Renewable Energy Roadmap exposes lack of national policy for renewable energy

Brisbane, 11 October 2016: Solar Citizens, the peak group representing 5 million Australian solar owners, has called on the Federal Government to immediately investigate a national renewable energy target beyond 2020 following the Queensland Renewable Energy Expert Panel’s draft report released today.

“This report shows what 484,000 households and small businesses in Queensland with solar already know. Renewable energy - especially solar power - provides cheaper, cleaner electricity.” said Reece Turner, Consumer Campaigner with Solar Citizens

“The leadership of the Queensland Government shows that ramping up renewable energy can bring huge benefits and highlights that the Federal Government has no plan for renewable energy beyond 2020.”

“The expert panel’s report makes it clear that renewable energy policy would be most effective if it were nationally co-ordinated. It’s time for Prime Minister Turnbull and Energy Minister Frydenberg to develop a national policy to ramp up renewable energy in a coordinated way across Australia beyond 2020.

“Queenslanders are already leading the world in rooftop solar uptake with 30% of homes powered by the sun. But this local investment has not been matched in the large scale sphere with only 7% of Queensland’s electricity supplied by renewable energy. The Panel’s recommendations to build 5,500MW of large scale renewable energy projects would address this.

“This draft report provides a blueprint to ensure 50% of Queensland’s electricity supply comes from renewable sources by 2030. This is very do-able, in fact research commissioned by Solar Citizens shows we can repower the whole country with 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and save billions of dollars in the process.”

Solar Citizens is an independent, community-based organisation bringing together millions of solar owners and supporters to grow and protect solar in Australia. Together, we take action to protect the rights of millions of Australians with solar to cut bills, create clean power and take energy generation back into our own hands.

Grattan Institute highlights the Federal government’s energy policy is all politics, no plan

26 September, 2016: It’s a sad state of affairs when an economically conservative think tank slams a conservative government for lack of policy direction. That is exactly what has happened today with a new Grattan Institute report describing South Australia’s power shock in July as a “canary in the coalmine” that has exposed a serious lack of national energy policy by the Federal government.

“The Grattan Institute's report said the July ‘power shock’ in South Australia was not an example of market failure - in fact, the report highlights the need for the Federal government to have a more effective transition policy that deals with the national electricity market,” said Claire O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens.

“This market is undergoing a fundamental change with coal-fired power stations preparing to exit the nation's energy mix. The Federal government needs to urgently develop a coherent plan rather than lurching from one slash and burn policy intervention after another.

“According to the recent Climate Institute Climate of the Nation 2016 Report, released last week, 75% of Australians think that governments should implement a plan to ensure the orderly closure of old coal power plants and replacement with clean energy. These are compelling figures.

“Getting to 100% renewable energy by 2030 is 100% doable, as outlined in our Homegrown Power Plan. However, with a lack of any credible national policy to cut greenhouse gas pollution in the electricity sector, Australia won’t even meet its international pledge of 26-28 per cent cuts below 2005 levels by 2030.

“Of course this leads to unmanageable uncertainty for investors and doesn’t bode well for a government which claims to be about growth and jobs.

“The global investment boom in renewable energy is taking off, now is the time to refine our national energy policy settings to ensure Australia is best-placed to reap the economic and environmental benefits of the boom.

“It’s hard to find another sector that displays such real job prospects, innovation and a practical response to the challenge of diversifying and strengthening our economy.

“The Grattan Institute report just further highlights the dismal failure of the Federal government to grasp the real environmental and economic transition that is well advanced in Australia,” said O’Rourke.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: andrew@holdfast.global