Media - Solar Citizens

Media Releases

ALP renewable energy plan for orderly transition welcome

Claire O’Rourke, National Director, Solar Citizens has welcomed today’s policy platform on renewables and power generation released by the Federal Opposition.

“The announcement shows the ALP has a plan for an orderly, managed transition of our energy sector which will ensure Australia grabs a $800bn slice of the global renewable energy boom that is on our doorstep – it’s a positive step towards the clean energy future Australians want to see,” said Ms O’Rourke.

“We welcome the ALP’s renewable power commitments but note that, as the Homegrown Power Plan we jointly released last week clearly demonstrates, an Australia powered by 100% renewables by 2030 is both absolutely necessary and absolutely possible.

“There is real depth in today’s policy announcement which sits in stark contrast to the Abbott Government’s record and the lack of any concrete plan for transition from the Turnbull administration.

“Solar Citizens welcomes the clear policy detail outlined in today’s announcement, including an appropriate solar thermal funding round that could support a solar thermal plant at Port Augusta, the concept of Community Powerhouses, the doubling of energy productivity by 2030, and an expansion of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) mandate.

“We are relieved that at last we have some comprehensive focus at the national level on the many issues facing the Australian public in respect to the National Electricity Market (NEM) and the National Electricity Objective (NEO) with the announcement by the ALP of a long overdue review into both.

“We know from our first hand experience with many thousands of solar citizens that voters will pay attention to parties that can articulate clear ideas and policies on how we will manage the inevitable transition of the way we produce and consume electricity.

“In stark contrast, the Federal Government to date has a dubious record on renewable energy policy, with the Abbott era driving swathing cuts to the Renewable Energy Target and making multiple attempts to destroy Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

“What we have seen so far from the Turnbull administration is policy to remove $1.3 billion in grants funding allocated to ARENA and a new Clean Energy Innovation Fund that reallocates $1 billion of existing CEFC funds.

“After almost nine months in office, Prime Minister Turnbull has not articulated a clear plan for our nation to use the vast natural solar and wind resources we have right here at home, frankly that’s simply not good enough,” she said.

“The Turnbull Government has an opportunity to turn this around and take the lead on solar and renewable energy policy - it’s time to step up.

“Globally, over the last few years, more money has been invested in renewable energy capacity than fossil fuel capacity. In fact, nearly three times as much money was invested in renewables in 2015 than a decade earlier.

“Australia is the sunniest continent on the planet and failure to rapidly embrace a transition to clean, renewable power in this country is not only poor policy, it is a threat to the future sustainability of our national economy,” Ms O’Rourke said.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137 E: andrew@holdfastcommunications.com.au

Prime Minister Turnbull gets a solar shock in his own electorate

April 14, 2016: New polling data, conducted by ReachTEL in the Prime Minister’s own seat of Wentworth, is a wake up call to the Prime Minister and the Federal Government in relation to their policies on renewable energy.

ReachTEL conducted a survey of 788 residents across the federal electorate of Wentworth during the evening of 6th April, 2016.

“The data clearly shows that the Prime Minister Turnbull’s own electorate of Wentworth, ranks second last out of every Australian electorate for uptake of solar power. It’s abundantly clear that there’s a great deal of work to do in his electorate to meet the demands and wishes of his constituents on renewable energy,” Claire O’Rourke, National Director, Solar Citizens said.

“ReachTEL tells us that 63.5% of people surveyed would be more likely to vote for a party which had a policy to gradually transition Australia away from coal-fired power to 100% renewable power by 2030.

“That was followed by the revelation that nearly 47.1% of those same people would be less likely to vote for a party that was holding back the transition to 100% renewables by 2030,” she said.

“What is truly fascinating is how important people think renewable energy is - 12.2% of those polled said that the area of ‘renewable energy’ could influence their vote at the next Federal Election, ranking higher than national security and health.

“Large numbers of people’s voting intentions are clearly being influenced by political decisions and policy measures on renewables by the major parties. The Prime Minister should note that 6.2% of voters in Wentworth surveyed are currently uncommitted to their vote, and 28.6% are just ‘somewhat committed’,” Ms O’Rourke said.

The release of the new polling data coincided with an action by Solar Citizens, who today delivered a postcard petition to Prime Minister Turnbull’s office calling for a clear vision, and the required policy settings, for an Australia that’s powered by renewables.

The petition was signed by over 10,000 Australians.

Alongside the petition, a massive "Room for Improvement on Solar and Renewables" certificate was delivered.

Details on the petition can be found here http://www.solarcitizens.org.au/time_to_shine_postcard_handover

Media Contact: Sara Duddy P: 0478 667 860; Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137

Prime Minister touts ARENA projects after snatching grants funding

Less than a month after the Turnbull government snatched $1.3 billion from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), it today touted the benefits of its renewable energy research and development projects already in the pipeline.

Claire O’Rourke, National Director, Solar Citizens said, “The Turnbull Government has stripped $1.3 billion from ARENA and scrapped its grants program – instead projects will have to be able to attract debt or equity finance under the new Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

“The projects announced by the government today would be unlikely to attract funding under Mr Turnbull’s proposed changes that remove ARENA’s grantmaking function,” Ms O’Rourke said.

“The main aim of the new Clean Energy Innovation Fund that will be managed by ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is to fund commercially viable projects.

“Yet we all know that any research at its early stages is rarely commercially viable, despite being necessary to ensure Australia can stay at the cutting edge of the global renewable energy industry innovation.

“With the global march on renewable energy gaining momentum, now is the time we should be heavily investing in renewable energy research front and centre – putting the brakes on ARENA’s R&D capability makes no sense,” she said.

Ms O’Rourke said nearly three times as much money was invested globally in renewables in 2015 than a decade earlier, yet the Turnbull government was ripping funding from renewable research and development grants while simultaneously talking up the need for an agile and innovative economy.

“We call on the government to reinstate ARENA’s funding and grants program,” Ms O’Rourke said. “Funding renewable energy research is a vital part of Australia becoming the innovative and transformative economy Mr Turnbull promotes,” she said.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137

E:andrew@holdfastcommunications.com.au

SAPN happy to hand out new taxes to solar customers but not pay its own

Revelations about alleged global tax evasion on the 4 Corners program last night raise yet more concerns about the activities of the South Australian network company, SA Power Networks (SAPN).

“SAPN has led the charge in its attacks on rooftop solar, relentlessly seeking to tax solar customers while, it appears, its owners are working just as hard to pay none itself,” Solar Citizens Consumer Campaigner Reece Turner said.

Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings or CKI, one of a string of companies named in leaked documents in the ABC’s ‘Panama Papers’ Investigation last night, controls SA Power Networks with a 51% ownership stake.

“In May 2015 the company pushed for an additional charge for all solar PV households of $100 per year. This was rejected by the AER on the grounds it was discriminatory.

The network fought back through the Federal Court where it again lost.

“The network company is now proposing a new tariff structure that it estimates will halve the uptake of solar over the next five years.

“Their ruthless attempts to slow down the uptake the solar transition, and penalise solar customers in South Australia look even more ridiculous in light of these latest revelations.

“Regulators and the general public must surely look very poorly on a company like this that wants to hand out new taxes to solar customers but do all it can to avoid paying its own,” he said.

Media Contact: Andrew Bradley P: 0403 777 137
E: andrew@holdfastcomunications.com.au

RENEWABLES INVESTMENT: SHIFT IN GOVERNMENT DIRECTION MUST KICK-START A RACE TO 100% CLEAN ENERGY

Solar Citizens welcomes the Federal Government’s announcement today to ensure the future of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The Government today also announced a $1 billion clean energy innovation fund drawn from existing CEFC allocations to be managed by the CEFC and ARENA.

“Today’s announcement indicates a positive shift towards clean energy by the Turnbull Government, following years of attacks on the CEFC and ARENA under former Prime Minister Tony Abbott,” Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke said.

“However we have grave concerns that ARENA’s funding and grant making function will wither under the changes.

“Grants are essential to supporting new ideas and helping drive innovation at the cutting edge of the industry - we are very concerned that research and development could be held back without ongoing support that ARENA has been providing.

“The new clean energy innovation fund’s required rate of return will also be adjusted to the bond rate plus 1%, a positive development. The fund will also allow ARENA to make equity investments - this is a welcome additional function to the agency’s core purpose.

“ARENA must continue to provide grants to support emerging technologies, and it must retain a full independent board.

“The coming Federal election is a prime opportunity for a break with the politicisation of renewable energy that we’ve experienced in the past and to begin a new race to a 100% clean energy future by all parties contesting the poll.

“Australians love solar and renewable energy and are concerned about the economy, jobs and the cost of living. Recent polling commissioned by Solar Citizens found that the majority of voters support a gradual transition to 100% renewable power by 2030.

“It’s a realistic and achievable goal that will support an agile, diverse economy and Australian families and help keep power bills under control for the long term,” she said.

“Australians want strong leadership that can turbo charge the transition to renewable energy and make clean energy an integral part of a thriving economy.

Claire O’Rourke is available for interview.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533

RENEWABLE ENERGY INNOVATION AND INVESTMENT AT RISK FROM CEFC AND ARENA MERGER

The Turnbull government’s reported plan to combine the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency is a risky gamble on the future of renewables in Australia, according to Solar Citizens.

National Director Claire O’Rourke said the reports of funding ARENA’s grants program with borrowings would harm research and development, demonstration projects and deployment projects, all core elements that ensure technological advances and strategic investment are possible.

“You can’t fund a 100% clean, renewable energy future for Australia by gambling on secure, long-term funding for major proven programs that support innovation and investment in renewables, including solar and wind,” she said.

“In the lead-up to the Federal election, we are surprised to see the Federal government pass the buck on innovation in the renewables sector.

“Funding ARENA’s grants with borrowings will see research and development disappear and it will reduce the likelihood of investment in demonstration projects.

“Deployment projects, which receive the largest proportion of ARENA's funding, would also see a dramatic fall in activity as investors would no longer have the ability to effectively manage risk or guide projects in the medium-to-long-term.

“The uncertain investment environment for renewables has already placed Australia in jeopardy of falling a long way behind the rest of the world as renewables boom and global jobs growth ramps up.

“The Federal Government should immediately restore full funding for ARENA and keep both ARENA and the CEFC organisations well supported so we can lead the world on renewable energy innovation, investment and deployment,” she said.

Claire O’Rourke is available for immediate interview.

Media contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533



RENEWABLES WILL ADD A$1.9 TRILLION TO ECONOMY: 
AUSTRALIA SHOULD GRAB ITS SHARE OF THE BOOM

A study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released today reveals a doubling of renewable energy by 2030 could deliver USD $1.3 trillion of benefits to the global economy, sparking new jobs and opportunities for economic growth.

IRENA found doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix by 2030 can save up to USD $4.2 trillion annually by 2030 – 15 times more than the costs.

A two-fold increase in renewables such as solar would grow Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) by about 1.7%, according to recent IRENA figures.

Claire O’Rourke, National Director at Solar Citizens, said renewable energy can power massive global growth but Australia must stake its claims of investment and jobs.

“Renewable energy is powering ahead -- USD $1.3 trillion worth of benefits is an incredible step for showing the power of renewables to generate wealth and employment, while lowering the cost of electricity and producing cleaner energy,” she said.

“The Turnbull Government must seize the opportunity to put Australia on a pathway to the clean energy future supported by the majority of Australians.

“The good news from this report is that we can transition our energy mix to significantly more renewables, while keeping the economy healthy and growing.

“Australians want political leadership that can deliver cleaner, more modern energy from solar and renewables.

“A strong, healthy economy relies on renewable energy, we need the Turnbull government to invest more in renewables and solar and make sure Australia grabs our share of this global boom,” Ms O’Rourke said.

Claire O’Rourke is available for interview.

Media contact: Siobhan Lyttle 0432 828 004

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