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Axing the small-scale renewables target could cost 7,000 solar jobs

The Australian solar industry – which employs more people than the gold mining, and oil and gas industries, and nearly as many as coal mining – could lose nearly two thirds of its workforce if the renewable energy target is abolished.

An analysis conducted by the REC Agents Associations suggests that nearly 7,000 solar industry jobs could be lost if the Abbott government decides to abolish the RET, as it seems increasingly likely to do.

The study found that there are around 14,000 jobs in the industry at the moment, and this could grow by 50 per cent if the RET was maintained. However, removal would mean around 50 per cent of the current jobs lost, while diluting the target would result in a smaller loss.

The industry has already suffered employment losses of around 25 per cent since its peak in 2012, because of the removal of many state and federal incentives.

The RAA report finds that an unchanged RET would reverse this trend, with the industry likely to add up to 8,000 additional solar PV jobs between 2014 and 2018 .

The solar hot water industry would also be affected by a change in the target, or its removal.

“Axing the RET is on the government’s agenda and they need to understand this would have a diabolical impact on jobs, industry and the hundreds of thousands of Australians who want to put solar on their homes,” the report said.

It also noted that the small scale renewable energy scheme – the component of the RET that affects rooftop solar – will cost just $6.50 out of an average $500 a quarter power bill in 2015. And even this cost will be offset by the accompanying fall in the wholesale cost of electricity.

That means that the real cost to households is just $1.90 per quarter, or just 0.38 per cent of a typical household quarterly bill.

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd