Media - Solar Citizens

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Australia needs fuel efficiency standards with teeth to end the electric vehicle roadblock

8th August 2022: Australia needs fuel efficiency standards with teeth to end the electric vehicle roadblock

Clean Transport advocates Solar Citizens have criticised revelations from a report leaked this morning that the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Australia’s peak body representing 39 auto brands, is covertly lobbying the government to implement some of the weakest fuel efficiency standards in the world.

“After the passing of the Climate Bill in parliament last week, the Albanese government now has an opportunity to implement Fuel Efficiency Standards with teeth and get us on par with the rest of the world and tackle our skyrocketing transport sector emissions,” said Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“But because we’re so far behind, we have to ensure our standards are the best in the world to give us any chance of catching up.

“The leaked report from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries this morning shows that our car industry is trying to implement a dodgy standard that will see Australia fall short of its Paris commitments and leave Aussies with cars that will cost more over the long run, use more fuel, and pollute more carbon for longer.

“Any standard simply cannot include concessions for hybrid vehicles. The emissions savings that car makers calculate for hybrids and plug-in hybrid vehicles are much more dramatic than the cuts they actually deliver, so a ‘technology agnostic’ approach just isn’t going to cut it. 

“You only have to look across the ditch to New Zealand to see a developed country with a small right-hand drive market, similarly isolated, for an example as to how strong Fuel Efficiency Standards have made a remarkable difference in a short space of time – EV sales have almost tripled since they were introduced last year.

“As today’s report from The Australia Institute also makes abundantly clear, we’re the world’s dumping ground for inefficient vehicles. Had fuel efficiency standards been adopted when the Turnbull government was in power, households, the economy and the climate would all have been better off.”


Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal, 0400 723 324 

Queensland’s Solar on Schools Program Shines

28 July 2022: Queensland’s Solar on Schools Program Shines

Community group Solar Citizens today congratulates the Queensland Government on beating their target for the rollout of solar on schools. A total of 200,000 panels are now installed on 912 schools, beating the target of 180,000 panels at 872 schools.

“This goes to show that when members of the Queensland Government set their mind to smart solar policy they can get it done,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director at Solar Citizens.

“Rolling out solar on schools and other government-owned buildings that consume the lion’s share of their electricity during the day is a no-brainer to create long-term savings and a cleaner environment.

“Queensland leads the world in the uptake of rooftop solar but there is still room for improvement and to make sure everyone can access the cheapest source of power, especially while wholesale power bills are spiralling out of control.

“Renters and social housing tenants face barriers to accessing solar but there are proven state government policies that can address these issues.

“A few years back the Queensland Government ran a Solar for Renters trial program that saw 670 tenants save on average $600 per year. In South Australia, the State Government has partnered with Tesla to roll out thousands of solar and storage systems on social homes at no upfront cost to the tenants.

“The policy solutions are there to unlock more cheap energy for everyone. We’d like to see the Queensland Government go from strength to strength and follow up the successful Advancing Clean Energy Schools program with more proven solar initiatives.”

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Federal Government to fall short of its electric vehicle sales target

26th July 2022: Federal Government to fall short of its electric vehicle sales target

New research unveiled this morning shows the Federal Government will fall short of their 89 per cent electric vehicle (EV) target by 2030 unless they follow major international economies and introduce Fuel Efficiency Standards. The research commissioned by S&P Global for the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) shows that EVs will only make up 76 per cent of new vehicle sales in 2030, compared to the Government’s 89 per cent target.

Clean transport advocates Solar Citizens support the prospect of legislated Fuel Efficiency Standards, but caution that to stay in line with a 1.5 degrees warming scenario they should at least be in line with our international trading partners, if not stronger.

“The rest of the world is already charging ahead on the metaphorical EV highway – Europe has had mandatory Fuel Efficiency Standards since 2009 – so it’s about time we also got on board,” said Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner at Solar Citizens. 

“Given that we’re only starting now, we need to ensure that the standards we set are strong. The science tells us we should be aiming for 100 per cent of new car sales being zero emissions by as early as 2030 to do our part to limit global warming by 1.5 degrees.

“International bodies, including the IEA have highlighted that a 100 per cent target for new zero-emission car sales no later than 2035 is critical for limiting warming to 1.5 degrees. 25 per cent of the current global car market has already committed to achieve this target.

“These standards work with a carrot and stick approach – car makers are subsidised for providing zero-emissions vehicles and penalised for petrol cars. What we don’t want to see is hybrid vehicles being subsidised within a mandatory Fuel Efficiency Standards scheme. This will only set us back further from major economies like the US, Japan and the EU – and we’re already way behind. 

“OECD countries produce 80 per cent of the world’s carbon pollution, so it’s important that we’re following the example of – if not beating – our trading partners on measures like Fuel Efficiency Standards if we are to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

“There are calls by some of the car making industry to go slower on the EV transition. But this means that Australians will be left with expensive, polluting vehicles – a great way for some manufacturers to profit, while leaving Australian consumers in the dust. 

“We’re hearing from consumers across the country that Australians want a greater variety of EVs on the market. Strong national Fuel Efficiency Standards Is the first step for making that happen.” 

Solar Citizens is running an explainer webinar on the importance of the EV rollout and national Fuel Efficiency Standards on Tuesday August 2nd at 6pm. You can register for the free The EV Revolution: Why Australia is Lagging Behind webinar here: 


Media contact: Ajaya Haikerwal 0400 723 324

Solar Citizens welcomes ACT Zero Emissions Vehicle Strategy

21st July 2022: Solar Citizens welcomes ACT Zero Emissions Vehicle Strategy

Clean transport advocates Solar Citizens have welcomed the comprehensive and ambitious policy announced yesterday in the ACT’s 2022-2030 Zero Emissions Vehicles Strategy.

“During this cost of living and energy crisis, ACT’s consumers have been shielded from the brunt of the pain that most other Australians are feeling in their power bills. This is the result of forward-thinking climate and energy policy, which has seen the ACT moving to 100% renewable energy,” said Ajaya Haikerwal, Electric Vehicle Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“The ACT is now also supercharging its electric vehicle (EV) policy, which will also ultimately benefit consumers. Canberrans will be driving cars that are cheaper to run and maintain, and lead to cleaner air and quieter streets.

“Australian families need these cost-saving solutions yesterday. In a couple of months the Federal Government’s cut to the fuel excise will end, petrol prices will skyrocket further, and consumers will be asking why they didn’t have access to EVs sooner – but not in the ACT.

“While other states—and the Federal Government—are yet to leave the driveway, the ACT has joined the rest of the world on the EV highway.

“These are the types of policies that enabled Norway’s rapid transition, where EVs now make up 84% of new car sales. Meanwhile in Australia, EVs made up less than 2% of new car sales last year.

“The ACT has made it clear that in order to achieve their Australia-leading targets it’s essential that the Federal Government gets out of the slow lane and implements fuel efficiency standards in line with the rest of the world. This is a critical piece of the puzzle that will incentivise manufacturers to bring zero-emissions vehicles to our shores.

“To avoid Australia becoming a dumping ground for inefficient vehicles then other states should follow the lead of the ACT and advocate for strong national fuel efficiency standards.”


Media contact: Ajaya Haikerwal 0400 723 324

Federal Intervention Welcomed on Victoria's Premature EV Tax

18th July 2022: Federal Intervention Welcomed on Victoria's Premature EV Tax

Clean transport advocates Solar Citizens have welcomed the move by the Federal Government to join a legal bid to strike down Victoria’s controversial electric vehicle tax, stating that scrapping or deferring these taxes is key to increasing consumer confidence in EVs.

“Taxes on electric vehicles are premature and should only be introduced when EVs hold a significant market share,” said Solar Citizens Clean Transport Campaigner, Ajaya Haikerwal.

“The Andrews Government’s road user charge sends a message to Victorians consumers to steer clear of EVs, stymieing a rapid transition we need to deal with our rising transport emissions.”

“Most other states and territories have either deferred, or entirely scrapped their road user charges. Victoria is lagging behind the pack, and now the Feds are stepping in to fix their mistake.”

“Removing or deferring road user charging is a key step towards encouraging uptake of zero emissions vehicles in Australia. But if the Federal Government is serious about boosting consumer confidence and unlocking more EVs for the local market, they need to also get Australia up to speed and introduce fuel efficiency standards.”

“Currently, we’re on par with Russia when it comes to fuel efficiency standards – we’re one of four G20 countries that doesn’t have them, so car makers bypass us and send their EVs elsewhere.”

“You only have to look as far as the ACT for what sensible policy on EVs looks like. We welcome today’s announcement of a sales target that will see sales of combustion engine cars ending by 2035 at latest.”

“The ACT’s policy is in line with what is happening overseas, such as in the EU. This is where we need to be heading if we’re serious about cleaning up our transport emissions.”

“With the lack of strong federal policy around electric vehicles over the past decade, the states stepped in and brought an array of policies – some good and some bad. Now we have a Federal Government that is more supportive of EVs, and we need consistent policy, starting with fuel efficiency standards which will help all governments achieve their sales targets.”


Media contact: Ajaya Haikerwal 0400 723 324

Skills Training Key to Unlocking Townsville’s Hydrogen Potential

12 July 2022: Skills Training Key to Unlocking Townsville’s Hydrogen Potential 

Solar Citizens this morning welcomes an announcement that TAFE Queensland and Ark Energy Corporation Pty Ltd have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to deliver training for Queensland’s emerging renewable hydrogen industry. 

“North Queensland is the cheapest place in Australia to produce renewable hydrogen because of the region’s impressive solar and wind resources,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director at Solar Citizens.

“There are three major renewable hydrogen projects proposed for Townsville that could create thousands of jobs. It’s great to see the State Government is getting on the front foot and ensuring our workforce is ready to step into these roles.”

A report by Solar Citizens found that up to 25,000 jobs, including 5,350 ongoing jobs and 19,600 construction jobs, would be created in Townsville by 2030 if the city becomes a Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct – a hub for manufacturing and industry that’s entirely powered by renewable energy. 

The Palaszczuk Government is investing $50 million to support training in renewables and hydrogen, including $10.6 million for a Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Training facility at TAFE Queensland’s Townsville Trade Training Centre. This comes after the Federal Government pledged $70 million to turn Townsville into a hydrogen hub in the lead up to the election.

“The next step to turn Townsville into a renewable-powered hub for manufacturing is for the state and federal governments to declare the city Australia’s first Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct and ensure exciting local proposals to manufacture solar panels and battery storage move ahead,” said Ms Gray.


Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Household Solar Slashing Queensland’s Staggering Electricity Prices

7 July 2022: Household Solar Slashing Queensland’s Staggering Electricity Prices

Queensland’s 870,000 solar homes and businesses effectively provided up to $60 million worth of free electricity to the grid in May and helped drive down inflated wholesale electricity prices, according to a new report by the Queensland Conservation Council and Solar Citizens. 

The analysis found that wholesale electricity prices would likely have been 9 per cent higher in May if it wasn’t for solar generators decreasing grid demand and reducing the need for more expensive fossil fuel generators. 

“Right now we’re seeing sky-high wholesale electricity prices driven by high fossil fuel costs and relentless breakdowns at coal and gas generators,” said Clare Silcock, Energy Strategist at Queensland Conservation Council. 

“Queensland now has Australia’s highest wholesale electricity prices because we rely the most on fossil fuel generators and have the lowest renewable energy uptake in the National Electricity Market.

“Queensland only gets about 20 per cent of our electricity from affordable renewable sources and that’s got to drastically shift if the Sunshine State is going to get on top of high electricity prices.”

Ironically, Queensland also has the highest uptake of rooftop solar PV in the country, and likely the world.

The report found that these households are effectively providing around $60 million worth of free energy to the grid in just one month because retailers currently pay much less to small-scale solar providers than they would otherwise have to pay to buy electricity at wholesale prices. 

“Queenslanders have turned to solar in droves to slash their electricity bills and in the process they’re driving down the wholesale prices for everyone. Unfortunately, that community action is not enough to overcome years of government inaction to plan for the transformation of our energy system,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens. 

“There are immediate things that the Queensland Government can do to help bring down prices for vulnerable households, including rolling out more battery storage to maximise the benefits of cheap renewable energy for everyone, while helping renters and social housing tenants access rooftop solar. 

“There are still many households that are locked out of the rooftop revolution and it sits with state governments to change that.”

Paul Murdoch lives in Kangaroo Point and doesn’t pay electricity bills after installing a 13 kW solar system and a 10 kWh battery. Before getting a solar and storage system his electricity bill was close to $2,000 per year.

“We’ve been getting a $300 credit per quarter on average for the extra electricity we generate and feed into the grid. We’ve also got an electric vehicle and by charging that at home we’re saving between $2,000-$3,000 a year on fuel,” said Mr Murdoch.

Paul isn’t worried about rising electricity costs for himself, but he does think more needs to be done to help more households access rooftop solar, including renters and people living in apartments. 

“We used to have a holiday apartment and for the four years we owned it I tried to get solar installed in both the complex as a whole and for our apartment. It was a whole lot of trouble where I was very actively dealing with the strata for about two years and managed to have the complex’s strata by-laws changed and yet still couldn't get the approval,” he said.

“It's important people are not left behind. Those who are well off, like us, can afford solar. We need to make sure that the change to renewable energy does not worsen inequality where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, especially with the current energy crisis. Tenants in rental properties especially run this risk.”


Media contacts:

Clare Silcock 0481055531

Stephanie Gray 0425543006

See the full report here.

Australian consumers missing out on supply of affordable EVs

1st July 2022: Australian consumers missing out on supply of affordable EVs

Clean transport advocates Solar Citizens have welcomed today's stronger tax cuts for electric vehicles from the federal government, but warn that without mandatory fuel efficiency standards there won’t be enough affordable EVs available for Australian consumers.

“During this cost of living crisis, more Australians are looking for ways to slash their rising household bills and demand for EVs has never been higher,” [1] said Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“But there’s only a limited number of affordable EVs available to Australian consumers - we have a supply issue, and without fuel efficiency standards car-makers will continue to sell their affordable EVs elsewhere.”

“Most G20 countries already have fuel efficiency standards in place, and manufacturers are incentivised to produce EVs and penalised when they do not. Australia has no such mechanism, and is already a dumping ground for the world’s unwanted, polluting cars.”

“Aussies are missing out on cost-saving opportunities of EVs that have been available overseas for years because of a lack of federal government policy protecting consumer interests.”

“Right now Australia is facing a triple whammy: a cost of living crisis and an energy crisis. And on top of that, we need to address the climate crisis.”

“It’s a unique moment for our new federal government to address all three, by implementing fuel efficiency standards to increase the affordability of EVs, which in turn will reduce our rapidly rising transport sector emissions.”

“The new Labor government wants EVs to make up 89 percent of new car sales by 2030, but without strong fuel efficiency standards in place, this is a pipe dream.”

“A car is our second biggest purchase after a home, and we want that investment to be a wise one. Running a car is a major weekly expense.”

“Australia already has the highest uptake of rooftop solar internationally, so if we charge personal EVs with daytime solar energy, the cost of running a vehicle can be as low as 60c per 100km.”


Media contact: Ajaya Haikerwal 0400 723 324

Payments to Unreliable Coal and Gas Slammed

20 June 2022: Payments to Unreliable Coal and Gas Slammed

Community group Solar Citizens has today slammed plans by the Energy Security Board to implement a capacity market that would include payments to ageing coal and gas power stations. 

“Australian homes and businesses are already paying the price for our reliance on expensive and unreliable fossil fuel generators. The current energy crisis is the result of sky-high coal and gas prices, breakdowns at multiple coal units, and price gouging from big energy corporations,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director at Solar Citizens. 

“We’re in this mess because, after a decade of national energy policy failure, we haven’t built enough renewable energy backed by storage to replace ageing fossil fuel generation. Paying big coal and gas companies to keep them operating for longer is the opposite of what we need to do to address the energy crisis.

“Paying coal and gas to be available will simply add another price burden to consumers at a time when the cost of living is already hurting many homes and businesses.

“We’re calling on state and territory Energy Ministers to rule out a capacity mechanism that will fund coal and gas. Instead, they should be urgently rolling out renewable energy and battery storage so that Australian homes and businesses are less exposed to inflated global coal and gas prices.

“State Governments should also increase support for vulnerable households to access solar and storage, particularly those who face barriers to getting solar, including renters and social housing tenants. 

“The new Federal Government has been handballed an energy system in disarray. It’s now up to them to clean up the mess of the previous government by planning coal closures and accelerating the rollout of renewable energy and storage.

“We recommend the Albanese Government implements a storage target, similar to the successful national Renewable Energy Target, which has now effectively come to an end.”

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Solar Citizens Responds to Sun Tax Scare

15 June 2022: Solar Citizens Responds to Sun Tax Scare

There is no indication that the Queensland Government is considering implementing the sun tax, says community group Solar Citizens.

“When the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) first floated the sun tax, the Queensland Government was one of the first state governments to stand strong for solar households,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director at Solar Citizens.

“Last year the AEMC changed our energy market rules to allow network companies to charge solar owners for feeding energy into the grid at certain times of the day. But there has been no proposal put forward by Queensland state-owned network providers to charge households.

“We applaud the Queensland Government's ongoing support for solar owners and encourage them to take this opportunity to rule out implementing a sun tax in Queensland in the future.

“Queenslanders are quite clean energy achievers and we lead the world in rooftop solar uptake. There are now close to 870,000 Queensland homes and businesses with solar.

“Sky-high coal and gas prices alongside rolling breakdowns at fossil fuel power stations are causing Australia’s energy crisis. The only price relief right now is coming from rooftop solar.

“We encourage the Queensland Government to implement programs to help renters and people living in social housing access cheap solar energy so that everyone can save on their power bills.”


Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006