Media - Solar Citizens

Media Releases

ARENA Board Lapse is Bad News for Renewables

Solar Citizens has expressed concern that the terms of the board of directors of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency will expire this Friday with no plan to replace them.

‘ARENA oversees millions of dollars of vital government funded energy projects, and needs an experienced board to make informed and independent investment decisions,’ said Solar Citizens National Director Ellen Roberts.

‘It’s very unfortunate that the Federal government is allowing the terms of the current board to expire, with no arrangements in place to ensure the proper functioning of the organisation.’

‘We’re calling for the terms of the current board members to be extended, and ARENA to be fully refunded to allow it to continue its vital work in ensuring Australia’s smooth and timely energy transition.’

ARENA is also due to run out of funding for new projects this year.

The lapsing of the board terms comes as the Federal Government is actively considering expanding ARENA’s investment mandate to allow it to invest in non-renewable energy projects, such as carbon capture and storage.

‘This would open the door to funding gas and coal projects that are packaged up with questionable “low emissions” technologies, such as disproven carbon capture and storage, to pass them off as clean energy projects.’

‘ARENA and the CEFC are the last meaningful clean energy policies in Australia, and key to the Government’s strategy to invest in clean energy technology and lower emissions. The mandate change could see wind and solar lose out, as renewables will now need to compete with a broader range of technologies for grant funding.’

Solar Citizens advocates for the rights of the millions of Australians with rooftop solar, and anyone who wants to see an urgent transition to 100% renewable energy.

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Ellen Roberts can be contacted for comment on 0408 583 694

Latest details on the ARENA board can be found in this Renew Economy article: https://reneweconomy.com.au/crunch-time-for-clean-energy-funding-as-arena-board-deadline-looms-19863/

Queensland Renewable Energy Zones a Jobs Goldmine

Turbocharging Queensland’s large-scale renewable energy industry creates 9,300 construction jobs every year for ten years and almost 6,000 ongoing jobs, according to a new report by Solar Citizens. 

The report, titled Queensland’s Renewable Recovery Plan, analysed how many jobs would be created if key Renewable Energy Zones were developed across Queensland. It found that developing the two major zones in North Queensland alone, including Townsville and the surrounding area, creates over 4,100 construction jobs every year until 2030 and 2,500 ongoing jobs. 

Renewable Energy Zones are designated areas across the National Electricity Market that have the greatest renewable energy potential and are prime locations for transmission investment.

The NSW Government recently announced an area west of Dubbo as a Renewable Energy Zone in June, and was overrun with investor interest – with proposed projects worth a total of $38 billion.

“At the moment the need for new transmission infrastructure is one of the main hurdles stopping investment in new solar and wind projects in Queensland, but with the right infrastructure the Sunshine State could have a thriving and job-rich clean energy industry,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

“Queenslanders could be the main beneficiaries as Australia transitions to renewable energy because we’ve got incredible solar and wind resources and clean energy expertise.

“Regional Queenslanders, in particular, will be the winners with 75% of the jobs created from a thriving renewable energy industry being in the regions.”

The report highlights that there are already more jobs across Australia in renewable energy, compared with domestic coal generation and mining. Solar Citizens recommends that the Queensland Government’s economic recovery measures should prioritise energy infrastructure and public investment in new solar, wind and storage projects to fast-track renewable jobs and the creation of new manufacturing industries.

“One of Queensland’s main competitive advantages should be cheap energy because we have some of the world’s best solar and wind resources,” said Ms Roberts.

“Building the right infrastructure and tapping into these resources could attract new industries and see ‘green’ steel and storage batteries being manufactured here in Queensland.”

The report also found that if the Queensland Government rolled out 50,000 storage batteries across Queensland’s 700,000 solar homes and businesses, it would create 280 installation jobs every year for five years, as well as 73 ongoing jobs in operations and maintenance. 

“Incentivising the uptake of household battery storage could fire up local battery storage manufacturing, like we’ve seen in South Australia where there are now three battery facilities in operation,” said Ms Roberts. 

“Already in Townsville there’s a proposal to open a huge battery facility that could employ up to 1,150 locals. We want to see more of this.”

“Using this moment to invest in renewable energy initiatives won’t just create thousands of construction jobs, it will pave the way for clean energy to be one of the main drivers of our future economy.”

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Media contact:
Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694
Full report here.

Don't Tax the Sun: Solar Owners Shouldn't be Charged for their Exports

Solar Citizens, a national organisation advocating for rooftop solar owners, has hit back at suggestions from the Australian Energy Regulator that solar owners should be charged for providing power to the grid.

"Rooftop solar benefits all energy consumers by providing cheap power to the grid for everyone to use," said Solar Citizens' National Director Ellen Roberts.

"As we transition our energy system and clean up our power supply, we need to be encouraging more rooftop solar not penalising people for putting panels on their roof.

"Australian families putting solar on their roof are doing the right thing for the environment, and for other energy consumers. We need to ensure that solar continues to grow.

"Big coal and gas generators aren’t charged for exporting their power to the grid, so why should we be slugging Australian families with panels on their roofs?

"If we want to look at equity in the energy system, let's look at the big players making big profits, not Mum and Dad's with solar."

For comment call Ellen Roberts on 0408 583 694

Queensland Regional Power Bills to Fall as More Renewable Energy Enters Grid

Community group Solar Citizens says a decrease in electricity tariffs for regional Queenslanders is largely thanks to more renewable energy projects coming online. 

On Thursday the QCA released regulated retail electricity prices for 2020-21 for regional areas, with a 5.9 per cent decrease in the main residential tariff and a 3.2 per cent decrease for small businesses. 

“The savings that Queenslanders will see on their electricity bills are due to the falling wholesale cost of electricity, which keeps being driven down as more cheap, renewable energy enters the grid,” said Stephanie Gray, Solar Citizens’ Campaigner. 

“Queenslanders love their solar and we now have over 700,000 solar homes and businesses in the Sunshine State. That’s a lot of cheap energy that’s being pumped into the grid.

“If we continue to roll out rooftop solar as well as big solar and wind farms, Queensland’s competitive advantage will be cheap, clean energy and that will attract new industries.”

Solar Citizens is concerned, however, that renewable energy momentum could slow down in Queensland. Last year no new large-scale renewable energy projects were committed to construction in the state. 

“To continue to drive down power prices further, the best thing that all sides of politics can do is commit to keep backing the transition to clean energy,” said Ms Gray.

“This is an election year for Queensland. We need to see bigger renewable commitments from all parties so that Queenslanders can have lower bills, cleaner air and new job opportunities.”

Solar Must Only be Switched Off in Emergencies

19 June: Solar Must Only be Switched Off in Emergencies

Solar Citizens today congratulates the South Australian Government’s commitment to achieving 100% renewable energy by 2030, but has concerns that a rule change to allow rooftop solar curtailment could be exploited. 

“It’s wonderful to see that both the South Australian Government and AEMO are working to enable the growth of rooftop solar,” said Stephanie Gray, Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“But we need to ensure that rooftop solar curtailment is a last resort that only occurs in emergency situations.

“Households across the country have made the solar switch to slash their electricity bills and do their bit for the environment. They should not be unfairly penalised for making an investment that provides cheap electricity to the grid.   

“It’s vital that the State Government and network continue to explore and implement other options, such as battery storage and demand response, to overcome grid issues.”

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Media contact: Stephanie 0425543006

Queensland Invests in Clean Energy Skills and Training

Solar Citizens today welcomes the Palaszczuk Government’s $17 million investment towards a new Renewable Energy Training Facility.

The Government says the new facility will provide skills training for 750 apprentices a year as well as assisting around 26,000 local licensed electricians with further training.

“Providing more renewable energy training is a smart way to ensure Queenslanders are benefiting from the growing clean energy industry,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

“More industries and businesses are seeing that renewable energy can power their operations cheaper and cleaner than before, so the renewable sector will be a big driver of employment moving forward.”

In recent surveys conducted by the Institute of Sustainable Futures, renewable energy developers reported that it can be difficult to find suitable local workers with the required experience.

“This is a great step, but for Queenslanders to be able to put their skills into practice, we need more clean energy projects to be committed to construction,” said Ms Roberts.

“Last year no new large-scale clean energy projects were committed to construction in Queensland because of energy policy uncertainty and transmission constraints.

“This is the perfect moment for the State Government to support more renewable projects and infrastructure to drive down power bills for homes and businesses.”

Technology road map means higher emissions for electricity sector

Solar Citizens has condemned the Federal Government’s technology road map, which was released overnight.

‘The government’s technology road map includes investment in emissions intensive gas fired power, keeping coal fired power stations open and investing in dangerous nuclear power,’ said National Director of Solar Citizens Ellen Roberts.

‘Ostensibly a plan to address Australia’s rising emissions, this is actually a road map to increased emissions, dangerous climate change and higher power prices.

Wind and solar have driven down wholesale electricity prices in the last few years. We must be urgently transitioning to renewable energy to clean up our energy system, avoid the worst impacts of dangerous climate change and take advantage of our world class wind and solar resources.

‘Federal energy policy uncertainty has caused a crash in renewable energy investment in Australia. This is most pronounced in Queensland, where the number of renewable projects under construction has crashed to almost zero. This technology road map will not provide the certainty that we need to be transitioning our energy system to renewables.

‘On the positive side, the road map recognises the importance in continuing to invest in the next generation of PV solar. Australia has led the world in solar PV research for decades, and per capita Australia has a higher number of solar households than anywhere in the world.

It is heartening to see solar PV included in the list of priority technologies. However overall the road map paints a grim and dirty picture of Australia’s future energy system.’

Solar Citizens represents the interests of millions of rooftop solar owners and all Australians wanting an urgent transition to clean energy.

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Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

Federal Government Rushes to Boost Fossil Fuels over Cheaper Energy

Solar Citizens today condemns the Federal Government’s backing of a gas-fired economic recovery, saying the government is supporting expensive, out-of-date technology.

“While renewables are driving down the wholesale price of electricity, expensive gas has been one of the main factors pushing up power bills in recent years,” said Ellen Roberts Solar Citizens’ National Director.

“It’s almost beyond belief that the government is supporting polluting and expensive energy at a time when we have a real chance to diversify the economy and kick-start renewable export and manufacturing industries.

“This is the Federal Government pandering to the interests of the fossil fuel lobby.”

Just last week, Solar Citizens released data commissioned from Green Energy Markets, which showed that there are 108 large-scale renewable energy projects proposed across Queensland that would generate 51,000 construction jobs and $36 billion worth of investment.

“Here in Queensland we have a natural renewable energy advantage that we could utilise to produce cheap energy for industry,” said Ms Roberts.

“Just yesterday the State Government invested in the CopperString 2.0 project, which when built will allow more solar and wind farms to connect to the grid and provide cheap energy to North Queensland industry.

“This is the approach the Federal Government should be taking: investing in renewable infrastructure to lower bills, create regional jobs, and future-proof the economy.

“The price of gas is volatile, but renewables just keep getting cheaper and cheaper.”

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Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

CopperString 2.0 investment a win for North Queenslanders

19 May 2020: CopperString 2.0 investment a win for North Queenslanders

Solar Citizens today congratulates the Queensland Government for supporting the CopperString 2.0 project with $14.8 million.

The proposed transmission project will connect Mt Isa to the main electricity grid, unlocking some of the Sunshine State's enormous clean energy potential to power industry.

“The CopperString 2.0 project will allow new solar and wind projects to connect to Queensland’s grid to drive down power prices for industry and consumers,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director.

“North Queensland has incredible solar and wind resources that can be utilised to provide cheap electricity for energy-intensive industries like minerals processing.

“Already the Sun Metals’ Townsville zinc refinery is making the most of Queensland’s natural renewable advantage to power their facility.

“By supporting more renewable investment and transmission infrastructure, we can see more onshore minerals processing and manufacturing.”

Research commissioned by Solar Citizens recently found that if all the proposed large-scale renewable energy projects in Queensland went ahead it would create over 51,000 construction jobs and $36 billion worth of investment.

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Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

Renewable Jobs Bonanza Could Help Struggling Queensland Economy

12 May 2020: Renewable Jobs Bonanza Could Help Struggling Queensland Economy. 

More than 51,000 construction jobs could be created in Queensland if the 108 large-scale renewable energy projects in the development pipeline went ahead, a new analysis commissioned by Solar Citizens has found.

The analysis by Green Energy Markets found the proposed projects, worth $36 billion to the Queensland economy, would generate enough electricity yearly to cover 92 per cent of Queensland’s electricity usage and provide exciting new employment opportunities for regional Queenslanders.

These job and investment figures come after Queensland Government modelling showed the state economy could face a $10 billion hit from coronavirus.

“These clean energy projects would present ongoing job opportunities for regional Queenslanders and could play a key role in boosting the struggling economy,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

“But new renewable projects are facing mountains of hurdles and developers are saying to us, ‘we’re looking down south,’ because the incentives are just not here to bring the projects to Queensland.”

It is understood that a large proportion of the potential 21GW of utility renewable capacity waiting in Queensland's development pipeline is being held up by energy policy uncertainty and the need for new transmission infrastructure.

“Energy policy uncertainty, transmission issues and grid restraints are killing renewable investment in Queensland, and therefore, killing the potential for new renewable jobs,” said Ms Roberts. “The State Government needs to support 1-2GW of new renewable energy generation each year for the next 5 years to maintain a strong jobs and investment pipeline for Queenslanders.”

“We’d also like to see the Government fast-track key transmission projects that will unlock more clean energy potential across the state.”

“The projects in the pipeline now could be just the beginning. Queensland can have a bright economic future using cheap renewable energy resources to power advanced manufacturing and create a new export industry.”

Grid and market obstacles saw the number of new large-scale renewable projects reaching financial close crash from over 1,400MW in 2017 to less than 20MW last year.

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Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694