Slashing the support for solar provided by the Renewable Energy Target would lead to the immediate loss of up to 5800 jobs and make it harder for low and middle-income households to access technology to reduce their power bills, the Clean Energy Council said today.
Clean Energy Council Acting Chief Executive Kane Thornton said speculation that Prime Minister Tony Abbott was moving to axe the Renewable Energy Target had sent shockwaves through the 13,000 workers in the solar power sector whose jobs are on the line.
"The Renewable Energy Target helps reduce the price of solar power and solar hot water systems for mums and dads across the country, and drives investment and employment in the process," Mr Thornton said.
The Clean Energy Council today released a paper, Why the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme should be retained, along with a video and an infographic. Up to 5800 jobs could go if the scheme was cut.
Mr Thornton said more than 4 million Australians now lived in a house with solar technology on the roof.
"Solar is especially popular in suburbs with a high proportion of low to middle-income households and retirees, who are concerned about rising electricity prices. These are the groups that will be most disadvantaged by any cut in the target," he said.
"Given what a nation of sun lovers we are, solar should have a bright future. This is an industry that has grown to employ a large number of hard-working Australian men and women, and a reckless move like slashing the target would put thousands of them out of work.
"Support for solar has fallen more than 90 per cent in the last five years and is scheduled to begin ramping down further in 2017 anyway. The small-scale part of the Renewable Energy Target makes up about 1 per cent of power bills and this is already falling. There is no need to cut it now, particularly when it won’t help consumers or the broader economy," he said.
Mr Thornton said solar had contributed $10 billion of consumer investment to the Australian economy over the last five years.
"These systems have helped to reduce sharp spikes in electricity demand on some of the hottest days of the year, reducing costs for all consumers and easing the strain on the whole power system.
"Slashing the Renewable Energy Target would deliver no real benefits to anyone except old coal-fired power stations which in some cases should have been retired decades ago."
Why the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme should be retained is available from the Clean Energy Council website, along with an infographic and a video featuring solar workers.
Please contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981 for more information or to arrange an interview.