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SA GOVT SUFFERS THE WORST RENEWABLE ENERGY JOB LOSS IN THE COUNTRY: NEW ABS FIGURES

The South Australian Government must act on the renewable energy jobs loss crisis after ABS figures released yesterday showed a staggering 50 percent drop in renewable energy jobs in the three years up to 2014-15.

The figures show jobs in South Australia’s renewable energy sector sunk to an all time low of 940 in 2014/15 following a peak of 2,360 three years earlier.

Claire O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens, said that the Abbott-era attack on the renewables industry had no doubt played a large part in this but that the South Australian Government could be doing more to confront the attack on solar by the SA Power Network.

“Last year the SA Power Networks launched an extraordinary attack on solar homes attempting to add a separate discriminatory fee against solar homeowners. Whilst this was defeated, SAPN is still attempting to push through changes to electricity prices that would harm solar. This company, central to the State’s electricity system, has boasted it is seeking to halve solar uptake, which is a clear case for the SA Govt to intervene.

“Laws that ensure solar owners are not discriminated against, a fair price for solar exports in South Australia and support for projects like large scale solar would certainly help deliver on the fantastic ambition the SA Government has set in terms of making the transition towards renewable energy.

“Elsewhere around the world, employment in renewables is booming. According to a recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the global renewable energy industry employs 7.7 million people, directly or indirectly. Australia can’t miss out on this great opportunity.”

The new ABS statistics also reveal:

  • National employment in renewable energy activity fell by three per cent from 2013-14 to 2014-15 continuing a trend from 2011-12.
  • Solar energy (including roof-top solar PV, solar hot water and large scale solar PV) is the most significant source of renewable jobs, employing 8,310 people in 2014-15 and accounting for 59% of all renewable energy jobs.
  • Employment in solar energy peaked at 14,350 in 2011-12.

QUEENSLAND GOVT MUST ACT URGENTLY TO HALT RENEWABLE JOBS SLIDE: NEW ABS FIGURES

Queensland risks losing its title as Australia’s ‘sunshine state’ after ABS figures released yesterday reveal a shocking 30 percent drop in renewable energy jobs from 2011-12 to 2014-15.

Queensland has lost its mantle of the leading state for renewable energy jobs to NSW after total jobs in the sector fell from a high of 5,580 2011/12 to 3,570 2013/14. NSW increased its job count to 3,990 in 2013/14 from 3,230 in 2012/13.

Claire O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens, said the renewable job figures showed it was more pressing than ever for the Palaszczuk Government to begin delivering on its election promises to get solar on 1 million roofs, ensure a fair price for solar and begin the transition to 50% renewable energy by 2030.

“The tag team of attacks on renewables by the Abbott and Newman governments have left Queensland lagging behind and at risk of missing out on the global renewable boom,” she said.

“The Palaszczuk Government must act urgently to kick-start the state’s catch up and cash in on the renewable jobs boom powering up elsewhere in the world.

“Renewables and solar are a jobs and economic growth powerhouse, critical to fill the gap left as the mining industry wanes in Queensland. Already jobs in solar power alone outweigh jobs in electricity generation in coal and gas nation-wide.

“Elsewhere around the world, employment in renewables is booming. According to a recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the global renewable energy industry employs 7.7 million people, directly or indirectly. Australia can’t miss out.

“The best thing the Queensland Government can do immediately is to double down on its efforts to deliver on its election promises.”

The new ABS statistics also reveal:

  • National employment in renewable energy activity fell by three per cent from 2013-14 to 2014-15 continuing a trend from 2011-12.
  • Solar energy (including roof-top solar PV, solar hot water and large scale solar PV) is the most significant source of renewable jobs, employing 8,310 people in 2014-15 and accounting for 59% of all renewable energy jobs.
  • Employment in solar energy peaked at 14,350 in 2011-12.

 

GOVERNMENT INACTION HOLDING BACK AUSTRALIA’S FAIR SHARE OF RENEWABLE JOBS GROWTH: NEW ABS FIGURES

The Turnbull Government is failing to ensure stability and confidence in the renewable energy industry as new Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show Abbott era attacks are still holding back jobs growth in solar and renewables.

The new ABS statistics reveal:

  • Employment in renewable energy activity fell by three per cent from 2013-14 to 2014-15 continuing a trend from 2011-12
  • Solar energy (including roof-top solar PV, solar hot water and large scale solar PV) is the most significant source of renewable jobs, employing 8,310 people in 2014-15 and accounting for 59% of all renewable energy jobs.
  • Employment in solar energy peaked at 14,350 in 2011-12

Claire O’Rourke, Solar Citizens National Director, said the figures showed urgent national action is needed for Australia to turn around the slow down and cash in on the renewable jobs boom powering up elsewhere in the world.

“Malcolm Turnbull has publicly stated his support for renewables but the ABS figures released today clearly show it’s time he must move from rhetoric to action,” O’Rourke said.

“The Australian renewable industry is still being held back by uncertainty over government policy and investment.

“The bill seeking to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is still in play - it is a potential trigger for a double dissolution election but more importantly creates uncertainty for the orderly development of renewable energy technologies and projects.

“If the Federal Government is serious about making job creation and a healthy economy a priority, then it can’t pass on this massive opportunity in solar and renewables.

“Elsewhere around the world, employment in renewables is booming. According to a recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the global renewable energy industry employs 7.7 million people, directly or indirectly. Australia can’t miss out.”

“Despite the decline, the renewable energy sector still employs more people than the entire coal and gas electricity generation sector which in 2007 employed 9,487 people. Since then, this has declined.

“The Federal government needs to remove all remaining uncertainty and articulate a clear, reasonable and ambitious plan on clean energy that stimulates business investment in renewables and provides a fair go for solar owners,” Ms O’Rourke said.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533

Notes

1. ‘Employment in Renewable Energy Activities, Australia, 2014-15', ABS Report 4631.0, 15 March 2016, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/latestProducts/4631.0Media%20Release12014-15

2. ‘Renewable Energy and jobs - Annual Review 2015’, IRENA, http://www.irena.org/menu/index.aspx?mnu=Subcat&PriMenuID=36&CatID=141&SubcatID=585 

3. 'Will we let the sun shine in’ The Australia Institute, July 2014, http://www.tai.org.au/system/files_force/PB%2065%20Will%20we%20let%20the%20sun%20shine%20in.pdf?download=1 

Government Report on Solar Price recommends “doing nothing” to address unfair solar price

Solar Citizens has warned that recommendations from a Government report released today on solar power feed-in prices will allow large, State owned power companies to continue to rip off solar owners for years to come and fail to realise the benefits rooftop solar brings to all consumers.

“This Queensland Productivity Report has completely ignored the main obstruction to fair feed-in prices for solar owners - that is the costs imposed by the State-owned networks”, said Reece Turner, Consumer Campaigner.

“Excess solar power that travels a few metres over a neighbour’s fence is charged the same high rates for the use of the poles and wires as power that travels hundreds of kilometers from coal or gas fired plants. The benefits of rooftop solar are failing to be realised and all Queensland consumers are suffering"

“Presently, we have a situation where solar households are paid no minimum price for excess power that goes back onto the grid. Retailers commonly pay solar households 4-6c / kWh. This is then on-sold by a retailer to the neighbour at an 800% mark-up or more”, said Turner.

The report acknowledges that “There may be some localised network benefits from solar PV” but then fails to explore this.

“Queenslanders are leading the world in the take up of residential rooftop solar and have invested millions of their own dollars towards a cleaner, healthier renewable energy future, but the big, State-owned companies are failing consumers. The commission’s report does nothing to address or even recognise this”, said Turner

The Palaszczuk Government was elected on a strong platform of supporting solar and renewable energy in contrast to the destructive policies of the Newman LNP government. A key promise was an inquiry ways to ensure a “fair feed-in price” for solar households.

“A Draft Report on Electricity Prices released last month also over-looked ways to address network costs (or “gold-plating”) although they account for 87% of the rise in electricity prices”

“Solar Citizens urges the Government and the QPC to stop ignoring the network costs that costing Queenslanders are are preventing a fair price for solar customers.”

VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT PROPOSES FAST-TRACK CONNECTION OF ROOFTOP SOLAR TO THE GRID

Solar Citizens has welcomed the Andrews Government’s plan to cut waiting times for
households wanting to instal rooftop solar, connect to the electricity grid and save money on their power bills.

If passed, the National Electricity (Victoria) Further Amendment Bill 2015, introduced into parliament this week, would align Victoria with national connection standards, which demand tighter timeframes from electricity distributors for connection to the grid.

Consumer Campaigner Reece Turner said the changes could slash waiting times for connecting small-scale rooftop solar by up to 55 business days.

“Victorians love solar -- and this new law will allow households to join the solar revolution quicker than ever,” he said.

“It will deliver on the Government’s promise to protect the interests of Victorian energy consumers, while reducing electricity costs and growing clean energy for the state.

“It also builds on changes the Victorian Govt made to the National Electricity (Vic) Act in last year to stop discrimination by retailers against solar owners.

“Victoria is home to more than 277,000 solar homes. These are households who have decided to beat the rising costs of electricity by taking power generation into their own hands. Solar households are most common in lower income suburbs.

"In the process these solar powered homes reduce the need for expensive new poles and wires, stimulate jobs in the renewable energy industry and create clean, cheap energy that helps all Australians.

“We urge parliament to pass this law and help ensure a bright future for solar in Victoria,” he said.

Media contact: Siobhan Lyttle 0432 828 004

NSW GOVERNMENT’S NEW METER PUSH COULD COST SOLAR HOMES THOUSANDS

Solar Citizens warns that the NSW Government’s lack of planning around the transitioning of early solar customers to new metering arrangements could trigger a crisis for 150,000 solar homes across the state.

Consumer Campaigner Reece Turner said the NSW Government had made a dog’s breakfast of managing the move towards metering which aims to push out smart meters and the impending halt to the 60c/kWh solar feed-in price at the end of this year.

“The Baird Government has talked up solar but it’s actions risk delays and cost pressures for solar households during the transition to new feed-in and metering arrangements,” he said.

“Solar homeowners will be forced to pay for new meters that could cost up to $700 dollars - which in some cases provide less information about their solar than they currently have.

“There’s no detail on how the meter change will roll out across the state and it’s not clear whether all solar homes can be fitted with new devices before the 60c/kWh feed-in price expires at the end of the year.

“It’s debatable whether there are even enough electricians and meters to deal with this whole-of-state transition. Any solar home left without a new meter will lose access to their solar power and be left paying more for non-solar electricity from the grid.

“The Baird Government said NSW can be “Australia’s answer to California” when it comes to clean energy, but NSW has gone from a solar leader to a solar laggard.

“The Baird Government must do better - this needs to be fixed, fast,” he said.

Reece Turner is available for interview.

Media contact: Siobhan Lyttle 0432 828 004

Win for WA solar: Premier rules out unfair 'sun tax'

WA Premier Colin Barnett has told State parliament today that he would rule out a tax on solar power, a win for the state’s more than 175,000 solar households, according to reports.

Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke said the Government’s backdown came after a strong community campaign against the unfair proposed charges including a Solar Citizens petition - signed by close to 7,000 supporters.

“This backdown on the proposed “solar tax” ensures a bright future for renewable energy in Western Australia,” she said.

“There are more Western Australian families every day discovering the cost savings that solar power can deliver.

“Solar is good for household budgets, drives good local jobs and can sparks economic growth, particularly vital as the state budget is hit by the end of the mining boom.

“Solar households are most common in lower income suburbs. The main reason these families go solar is to help with the rising cost of power bills.

"In the process these solar powered homes reduce the need for expensive new poles and wires, stimulate jobs in the renewable energy industry and create clean, cheap energy that helps all Australians.

“The WA Premier has taken a great step forward today, now he should lift his ambition and support a full transition to clean renewable energy in the State,” she said.

Claire O’Rourke is available for interview.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533

BENEFITS OF SOLAR FAR OUTWEIGH THE RISKS OF NUCLEAR

BENEFITS OF SOLAR FAR OUTWEIGH THE RISKS OF NUCLEAR

Solar Citizens calls on the South Australian Government to harness the sun to generate low-cost clean energy and kick-start jobs and economic growth rather than becoming a dumping ground for an expensive, toxic nuclear waste.

The findings come as new polling released today shows a majority of voters are more likely to give their vote in the upcoming election to a party supporting ambitious goals and innovation for solar”[1]

The preliminary findings of a Royal Commission into nuclear claim that:

  • An expansion of uranium mining is “not the most significant opportunity” to develop South Australia’s economy
  • “It would not be commercially viable to generate electricity from a nuclear power plant in South Australia in the foreseeable future.”
  • Storage and disposal of nuclear fuel waste is “likely” to deliver economic benefits to the State.

“We welcome the Commission’s findings which shows that nuclear mining and power generation is not the solution for South Australia”, said Claire O’Rourke, National Director of Solar Citizens.

“The best way the South Australian Government can support clean energy is supporting households in making the transition to solar energy and reducing people’s power bills. The South Australian Government is leading other states with a target of 50% renewable energy by 2025 and has commissioned research which shows it can get to 100% renewable energy as part of its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 ”

“One in four households in South Australia now has rooftop solar and the power they generate from the sun supplies about five per cent of the state’s energy demand.

“These 190,000 South Australian solar homes are only the beginning of the global solar boom, as affordable, reliable home battery storage places lowering the cost of power bills in reach for the majority of households.

“It is important that the State Government makes sure it adopts policies that encourage further investment in renewables, and the jobs this will create.

“The state’s abundant solar resources have already caught the attention of US solar thermal giant SolarReserve, which in November made a bid to build Australia’s first-ever solar thermal plant with storage in Port Augusta.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533

[1] https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9kNVP3oyB-cQ2NQbnROWVlrUjIxbW1TaUhxTlpKZlNkNHNB/view?usp=sharing

FEDERAL ELECTION HEATS UP: NEW POLL FINDS SOLAR INNOVATION A VOTE SHIFTER FOR MAJORITY OF AUSTRALIANS

FEDERAL ELECTION HEATS UP: NEW POLL FINDS SOLAR INNOVATION A VOTE SHIFTER FOR MAJORITY OF AUSTRALIANS

The majority of Australians are more likely to give their vote in the upcoming election to a party supporting ambitious goals and innovation for solar, according to a new national poll.

Community organisation Solar Citizens commissioned research by Essential that found:
• 63% of Australians would be more likely to vote for party with a policy to ensure solar is installed on every home that is suitable and on buildings like hospitals and schools;
• 60% would vote for a policy that helps people get battery storage so solar can be used around the clock; and
• 59% would support a party with a commitment to invest in large-scale solar and wind.

Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke said the community’s desire for a new chapter for renewable and energy policy in Australia had reached new heights.

“Australians want political leadership that will deliver cleaner, cheaper energy from the sun - and they’re willing to use their vote to make it happen,” she said.

“For far too long there has been a disconnect between what Australians want and what our political leaders have delivered. The poll shows Australians know politicians will be listening in the lead-up to a Federal election. Australian voters want more ambitious solar policies firmly on the agenda.

“The way we use energy is changing, with families and businesses wanting to harness the power of the sun, store the clean energy for when it's needed and reap the benefits of lower power bills and energy independence.

“A renewables boom is gathering momentum, with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimating renewable energy could deliver $A1.9 trillion of benefits to the global economy by 2030.

“Australians want political leaders who can help our nation become a global leader in renewables and solar, and grab its fair share of the jobs, economic growth and innovation,” she said.

Hundreds of community members from across Australia are gathered in Brisbane for the first-of-its kind three-day event promoting a clean energy future for Australia.

Solar Supercharge will spark the next phase of a grassroots, Australia-wide campaign to put solar and renewables at the top of the national agenda in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

 

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533

Highlights of Solar Supercharge, 15 February


1) Political Forum featuring Shadow Minister for the Environment Mark Butler (via video), Independent Queensland Senator Glenn Lazarus and Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters.
11.30am. Mon 15 February

2) Simon Hackett on disrupting the system, the coming battery storage revolution. Simon is the executive chairman of the board of Redflow, a Brisbane battery start up that’s ’taking on’ Tesla.
Within 10 years, Simon predicts, battery storage will be as commonplace in homes and businesses as broadband, which barely existed in 2000 but was widespread just a decade later in 2010.
1.30pm. Mon 15 February

3) Rhonda Nowakowski, Brisbane Solar Citizens team member and solar worker, on her journey from solar worker to activist.
Following talk by Simon Hackett from 1.30pm. Mon 15 February

4) Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke on:
- the state of solar in Queensland/Australia. Challenges, Opportunities and how we compare to the rest of the world
- a renewables boom is gathering momentum, with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimating renewable energy could deliver $A1.9 trillion of benefits to the global economy by 2030.
How can Australia claim its share of jobs and economic growth?
- the rise of the solar voter and what they want from their political leaders. In many marginal Federal electorates, the number of people living in homes with rooftop solar outnumbers the number of voters that will decide that electorate - food for thought.

Solar Supercharge: National Action Summit for Clean Energy 13-15 February, Brisbane

Hundreds of community members from across Australia will gather in Brisbane next week for a first-of-its kind three-day event promoting a clean energy future for Australia.

Claire O’Rourke, National Director for event organiser Solar Citizens, said Solar Supercharge will spark the next phase of a grassroots, Australia-wide campaign to put solar and renewables at the top of the agenda in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

“Poll after poll demonstrates a strong and enduring support for renewable energy from everyday people across all political persuasions,” Ms O’Rourke said.

“People love solar and are concerned about the economy, jobs and the cost of living. Renewable energy will generate jobs and economic growth, drive down the cost of living by reducing power bills and help build a modern, innovative power system.

“The 2016 election is shaping up as a critical opportunity for Australian political leaders to demonstrate they have the vision and willpower for the nation to grasp the opportunities of the global renewable energy boom and enjoy the local benefits.

“Our political leaders are on notice: solar votes have the power to decide the next election.

“Householders want a fair deal on solar and they place politicians in all electorates across Australia on notice. The gathering in Brisbane next week is the first step towards the bright future for clean energy voters want to see,” she said.

Details
What: Solar Supercharge National Action Summit for a Clean Energy Future
When: 13-15 February
Where: Brisbane, Queensland
Program highlights include:
• Claire O’Rourke, Solar Citizens National Director
• Simon Hackett, Executive Chairman of the Redflow board, on disrupting the system - the coming battery storage revolution
• Political Forum featuring Shadow Minister for the Environment Mark Butler (via video), Independent Queensland Senator Glenn Lazarus And Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters (Mon 15 Feb)
• Miriam Lyons, policy analyst and Clean Energy Campaigner at GetUp! on understanding Australia’s renewable energy policies
Program: http://bit.ly/1mgXXGw
Sponsors: Queensland University of Technology, GoZero, Roofjuice, GetUp and Greenpower

Media are welcome to attend Plenary Sessions and Political Forum. Please RSVP to jane.garcia@essentialmedia.com.au

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533