Media - Solar Citizens

Media Releases

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

ARENA funding cut is further evidence of Coalition’s unrelenting ideological war on renewables

The revelation today that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will lose $500million in funding is further evidence of the Coalition’s unrelenting ideological war on renewables.

“ARENA is a critical engine for innovation, for the transformation of our energy system and for the places across Australia that benefit from the projects they fund,” said Claire O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens.

“The Coalition Government has driven this cut to innovation in Australia’s premier growth industry as part of a war on renewables that looks more like the old-hat Abbott agenda that Australians do not want.

“Solar Citizens have fought bravely in communities across Australia to protect ARENA, reflecting the strong community desire to stand up for essential grants funding that supports cutting-edge research and helps get commercial projects off the ground.

“This is critically important in the immediate years ahead.

“While we are disappointed that the ALP did not do more to stop this ideological attack by the Federal Coalition, ultimately responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Federal Government.

“These efforts by the Federal Coalition are an attack on Australia’s innovation future and we know from their previous efforts to slow, or prevent the country’s energy transition that they just won’t stop here,” she said.

“We need ever greater levels of investment in innovation and research on renewable energy in this country, not a reduction, it flies in the face of common sense to cut it.

“Australia needs a national plan to harness the multi-billion dollar renewables boom and manage the orderly transition to 100% clean renewable power but we are unlikely to see one from this Coalition who are hell bent on holding back the transition,” said O’Rourke.

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

ARENA solar funding round highlights stupidity of planned government cuts

8 September 2016: Today’s announcement of a new round of funding for solar projects across Australia by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) may be the last such announcement if the Federal Coalition succeed in gutting the agency.

Solar Citizens analysis of the ARENA grants reveals that all of the projects to receive funding are in regional areas and all except for one are in federal electorates held by National or Liberal MPs.

“Today’s funding round again shows how critically important ARENA is, for innovation, for the transformation of our energy system and for the towns, cities and regions across Australia that benefit from the projects they fund,” said Claire O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens.

“The ALP, the Greens and those on the cross benches must stand up to this, yet another, attack on renewable energy in this country, failure to do so will not be forgotten.

“We have looked at a list of the projects announced today, their location and electorate, their value and the Federal MP and whether they intend to vote to scrap ARENA - it makes for interesting reading (see below).

“ARENA is a critical driver of the energy transition that Australia is in the midst of - it is a facilitator of innovation, an engine of cutting edge research and new technology.

“Efforts by the Federal Coalition to gut it and destroy its capabilities are nothing but an ideological attack on Australia’s innovation future.

“To put it simply – it’s stupid. Stupid politics, stupid economics and stupid policy,” she said.

“We can see that the states of NSW and Queensland, seats with many, many marginal seats have benefitted from today’s announcement.

“Every project awarded a grant is in a Coalition held seat except for one project in Bob Katter’s electorate of Kennedy.

“Slashing and burning ARENA will see Australia miss out on its rightful share of the global renewable energy investment boom, in turn missing out on all of the accompanying jobs, growth and investment that are being created across the globe.

“Australia needs a national plan to harness the multi-billion dollar renewables boom and manage the orderly transition to 100% clean renewable power.

“ARENA is a critical element of this. Failure to protect this engine of innovation is a failure to protect our future prosperity,” she said.

“Australians overwhelmingly support renewables - all we need is a decent plan and the political will to get us there.

“We expect the Opposition, Greens and crossbenchers to fiercely oppose and stop the foreshadowed cuts to ARENA, to reflect the will of the Australian public,” said O’Rourke.

 

Project

State

MW

ARENA Funding

Total Project Budget

MP - Electorate

MP intends to vote to gut ARENA?

Darling Downs Solar Farm

QLD

106.8

$20m

$216.7m

David Littleproud (LNP)

MP for Maranora

Yes

Whitsunday Solar Farm

QLD

52.8

$9.5m

$122.4m

George Christensen (LNP)

MP for Dawson

Yes

Parkes Solar Farm

NSW

46.0

$7.5m

$107.9m

Michael McCormack (Nat)

MP for Riverina

Yes

Kidston Solar Project

QLD

50.0

$8.9m

$126.2m

Bob Katter (IND)

MP for Kennedy

?

Manildra Solar Farm

NSW

42.5

$10.9m

$109.3m

Andrew Gee (Nat)

MP for Calare

Yes

Collinsville Solar Power Station

QLD

42.0

$9.5m

$95.9m

Michelle Landry (LNP)

MP for Capricornia

Yes

Griffith Solar Farm

NSW

26.4

$5m

$54.6m

Susan Ley (LP)

MP for Farrer

Yes

Oakey Solar Farm

QLD

25.0

$2.2m

$47.5m

John McVeigh (LNP)

MP for Groom

Yes

Dubbo Solar Farm

NSW

24.2

$5.5m

$55.6m

Mark Coulton (NAT)

MP for Parkes

Yes

Emu Downs Solar Farm

WA

20.1

$5.5m

$47.2m

Melissa Price (LP)

MP for Durack

Yes

White Rock Solar Farm

NSW

20.0

$6m

$44.5m

Barnaby Joyce (Nat)

MP for New England

Yes

Longreach Solar Farm

QLD

15.0

$1.3m

$28.7m

David Littleproud (LNP)

MP for  Maranora

Yes

TOTAL

$91.7m

$1,056.4m

11/12 Electorates Coalition

  

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.

ACT Libs see sense on clean energy while Feds dither

31 August 2016: The ACT Liberals’ announcement to support 100% renewable energy by 2020 and zero net greenhouse emissions by 2050, sits in stark contrast to the head-in-the-sand approach of the Federal government.

“The Australian Capital Territory has a target of 100% by 2020, South Australia has a target of 50% by 2025, Queensland has a target of 50% by 2030, and Victoria is targeting 40% by 2025,” said Claire O’Rourke, National Director, Solar Citizens.

“The problem here is on one hand State governments are getting on with the job of transitioning the economy to one reliant on renewable energy but on the other the Federal government is trying to halt innovation by cutting clean energy research.

“The Federal government’s plans to slash $1.3 billion from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency will mean the end of ARENA and see our homegrown renewable energy research leave our shores.

“It’s like something out of ‘Yes Minister’, with a government who professes to be about ‘innovation’ while cutting all sources of it.

“ARENA has achieved and impressive A$1.30 in private-sector R&D funding for every dollar of government funding.

“From driving innovation and economic growth, to creating jobs and ensuring a reliable and affordable energy system for the future, ARENA is playing a critical role in Australia’s clean energy transition.

“I implore the Turnbull Government, if you won’t commit to decent targets, at least help fund ARENA’s vital work that enables State governments to get on with your job.

“If you get on with the job early, you reap the benefits of the first-mover advantage. This is why ARENA has been so successful.

“The ACT Liberals’ announcement demonstrates a new understanding that when it comes to clean energy, it’s a matter of racing to the top or being left behind.

“In contrast, there is a distinct lack of any tangible post-2020 plan for renewable energy from this Federal government.

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.

COAG Energy Council outcomes cloudy

Today’s COAG Energy Council meeting, touted as one of the most critical meetings about Australia’s energy future, has ended with few tangible outcomes for the nation’s necessary transition to renewable energy, giving an apparent nod to the fierce campaign by fossil fuel incumbents, according to Solar Citizens.

“It’s safe to say this is a disappointing outcome at a time when we urgently need real, practical and meaningful policy interventions that drive change the community wants,” said Claire O’Rourke, National Director, Solar Citizens.

“What we wanted to see from the COAG Energy Council is agreement that a fundamental rewrite of our energy laws is needed to facilitate the orderly transition to 100% renewable power and the steps to get that process underway.

“This is a real missed opportunity for these Ministers to recognise the need for best practice strategic planning for the transition of our energy systems, a transition that is already well advanced.

“The recognition of the importance of battery storage is an important step, but this seems to be largely clouded over by the recognition of the gas industry’s campaigning efforts,” she said.

“We need a coherent plan for the national energy market, a clear roadmap for the path to 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and national recognition that the future of our country must be powered by clean energy,” O’Rourke said.

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

A hit on ARENA - reckless, foolish and short sighted

Reports that the Turnbull Government is planning to tear $1 billion from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) as one of it first acts of the new Parliament would send shockwaves through the sector.

“ARENA is a critical driver of the energy transition that Australia is in the midst of — it is a facilitator of innovation, an engine of cutting edge research and new technology and any move to slash its capabilities is a brazen attack on Australia’s innovation future,” said Claire O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens.

"It is hard to believe that, yet again, the very organisations that will drive our future prosperity are in the crosshairs of this Government.

“These sort of politically driven, piecemeal policies and funding cuts will only end up with us responding to emergencies rather than building a decent plan for our future energy needs,” she said.

“Slashing and burning ARENA will see Australia miss out on its rightful share of the $800b global renewable energy investment boom, and we will miss out on all of the accompanying jobs, growth and investment.

“The global transition to renewables is already underway. Australia needs a national plan to harness the multi-billion dollar renewables boom and manage the orderly transition to 100% clean renewable power.

“ARENA is a critical element of this.

“Powering our lives and our homes with 100% renewable electricity by 2030 is 100% possible and 100% necessary; Australians overwhelmingly support renewables — all we need is a decent plan and the political will to get us there.

“Before the election we described these cuts as reckless, foolish and short sighted, today that is still our assessment.

“We expect the Opposition, Greens and crossbenchers to fiercely oppose these cuts, to reflect what Australians want to see,” said O’Rourke.

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

ESCOSA decision makes zero cents for renewables

The 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.

“South Australian electricity companies will no longer have to pay households with solar panels for the excess power generated by their rooftop units,” said National Director of Solar Citizens, Claire O’Rourke.

“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 due to come off the 16c Solar Bonus Scheme in October.

“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.

“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.

“When electricity prices in South Australia have only just last month risen by 10%, it’s incredible that the regulator now thinks a fair price for solar households is effectively zero cents.

“Both the Queensland Victorian state governments have inquiries underway examining what the fair price for solar electricity is.

“The Victorian Essential Services Commission draft report indicates that solar owners deserve a higher rate because of the huge benefits distributed solar brings to the electricity grid and it also recommends solar owners be paid more at peak times.

The report outlines solar’s benefits to the electricity grid:

  • Rooftop Solar is cleaner, produces no harmful air pollution and is more efficient as it doesn’t travel as far;
  • Rooftop solar produces maximum output when it’s needed most - during hot days in the middle of the day and in the afternoons when demand peaks due to air-conditioners straining the grid;
  • Rooftop solar power reduces the wholesale price of electricity which benefits all electricity consumers.

Media Contact: Sara Duddy P: 02 6689 5515 E: sara@helloword.net.au

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.

It’s simple - South Australia’s solar households save thousands

Amidst a misinformed and furious debate in South Australia about electricity prices, analysis by Solar Citizens in their State of Solar report reveals that SA is currently the best place in Australia for households to install solar and save money.

“South Australia has the highest percentage of solar rooftop owners in the country, 197,549 homes or 28.8% of all homes in the State, amongst the highest rates of solar penetration in the world, and the simple fact is that each of these households is saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars each year by powering their homes with solar,” said Claire O’Rourke, National Director, Solar Citizens.

“In the 2014-15 financial year the savings made by solar owners on average in South Australia was $1,295.37 per household – more than any other State in the nation,” Ms O’Rourke said.

“A simple and indisputable fact - homeowners are currently better off financially by adopting solar power for their homes in SA.

The State of Solar report, recently released by Solar Citizens, was the first of its kind to undertake a detailed 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.

“There are problems ahead though, even for South Australia. At the end of September 62,000 SA will lose their 16c premium feed in tariff and see bill hikes of $380 on average. The minimum retailer price for solar is 6.8c. Retailers then on sell this to neighbours for at least 4 times this amount.

South Australian energy prices are the highest in Australia, disconnections are the highest in the country andretailers gouge from customers more in SA than elsewhere.

“Again it is clear that right now solar is part of the solution to electricity prices in South Australia not a part of the problem, we can see very clearly that this is why we need more solar and renewables not less,” she said.

“The national figures are incredible, $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,” she said.

Figures recently released by Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance indicate a staggering forecast of future investment in renewables globally. Through to 2040, BNEF forecast a record $7.8 trillion to be invested in renewables, including $3.4 trillion for solar, $3.1 trillion for wind, and $911 billion for hydro power.

Solar Saves Australia

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

Early solar adopters to face electricity bill shocks

19 July 2016: Solar Citizens are urging solar users to prepare for increased electricity prices with feed-in tariffs set to finish in months.

Government programs, or ‘Solar Bonus Schemes’, which incentivised solar uptake are set to end in the coming months in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria, affecting more than 275,000 people.

“146,000 early solar adopters in NSW, particularly on the 60c Solar Bonus Scheme, will face bill hikes of $1,000 or more from 1 January 2017,” said Reece Turner, Consumer Campaigner with Solar Citizens.

“In addition, solar owners must ensure they have a new electricity meter installed.

“Without a new meter they will effectively be wasting their solar power, sending it back onto the electricity grid and unable to use it themselves.

“More than 62,000 solar owners, who take advantage of the South Australian 16c feed-in tariff which ends in October, will face bill shocks of around $380, whilst 67,000 Victorians on the transitional or “1 for 1” scheme face bill increases of $680 per year from 2017.

“Early solar adopters need to have a plan about how to maximise their solar power by using timers, considering a shift to heat pumps or electric how water systems and even preheating or cooling their homes,” Turner said.

Solar Citizens, in partnership with other community groups, have produced a video and outlining 5-steps for solar owners to most of their solar and minimise bill shock.

The 5 steps:

  1. Get a new meter (NSW only)
  2. Use more of your solar electricity
  3. Think about getting off gas
  4. Get the best electricity deal
  5. Consider battery storage

More at:  http://www.solarcitizens.org.au/life_after_fits

These five steps are based on a comprehensive report from the Alternative Technology Association, commissioned by Total Environment Centre.

The full report can be found here: http://www.solarcitizens.org.au/life_after_fits

Media Contact: Reece Turner 0450 466 040 reece at solarcitizens.org.au

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.