Bucking global trend, Aussie renewable energy jobs continue to decline

Employment in Australia’s renewables industry continues to decline, according to new data, bucking the global trend of jobs growth the renewable energy sector.

The latest jobs data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows employment in renewable energy activity fell by 3 per cent from 2013-14 to 2014-15 continuing on a downward trajectory that started after employment in solar energy peaked at 14,350 in 2011-12. The total job fall over that time is 27 per cent.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said the slump was “hardly surprising”, given the long period of investment uncertainty weathered by the renewable energy industry during the review of the national Renewable Energy Target.

“The ABS figures show a drop of almost 500 jobs in the 2014/15 financial year compared to the one before, and clearly show the importance of policy stability,” Thornton said.

New RET legislation supported by both major parties was passed in June 2015, which is right at the end of the period these new ABS figures are tracking. A lot has changed since then, and confidence is growing across the sector after a challenging few years.

But a lobby group for the solar industry – which accounts for 59 per cent of all renewable energy jobs in Australia – has expressed concern that the uncertainty created during the Abbott era of Coalition government has not yet cleared, despite the change of prime minister.

“The Australian renewable industry is still being held back by uncertainty over government policy and investment,” said Solar Citizens’ Claire O’Rourke in a statement on Tuesday.

“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,” she said.

The CEC’s Thornton, meanwhile, is confident Australia’s renewables sector is on the up and up.

“We are gearing up for an intense period of delivering large-scale projects such as wind and solar power plants between now and the end of the decade, which will create more jobs and investment in regional areas of the country.

“Obviously we’re still a long way down on the industry peak in 2011-12, but we are looking forward to lots of construction activity under the RET in the coming years.”

© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd