Renewable energy policy uncertainty holding Australia back in global solar boom

Renewable energy policy uncertainty threatens to put Australia even further behind the global solar pace, according to the comments from within two of the booming industry’s biggest players.

In an interview overnight, the CEO of the world’s largest solar module manufacturer, Yingli Solar, painted Australia as virtually the only black spot in a world market that is seeing massive growth. Liansheng Miao said his company had seen a significant uptick in demand China as well as in emerging markets like South America, south-east Asia and Africa, while opportunities in the other major markets – US, Japan and the UK – continued to grow.

But in Australia, Yingli’s global head of sales, Darren Thompson, said the company was facing several “headwinds” – namely the Abbott government’s RET Review, and uncertainty over its impact on the local commercial-scale market.

“In Australia, the federal government continues to review the mechanism which currently supports solar system up to 100 kilowatt peak under the Renewable Energy Target,” Thompson said

“This combined with the anti-dumping case creates some uncertainty in the marketplace.”

An even bleaker outlook came from Canadian Solar, one of the top four manufacturers in the world, via its formal submission to the RET Review panel.

“It is our strong view that, at a time when the whole world is experiencing a clean energy revolution, Australia’s renewable energy sector is losing momentum and is in fact going backwards, as evidenced by a marked decrease in renewable energy investment and installation,” country manager Daniel Ruoss wrote.

“Canadian Solar’ position is that the future of renewable energy in Australia will require an unchanged RET and political will to support the industry in meeting the goals with complementing measures, such as ARENA and other required organisations. “

Yingli, meanwhile, says it expects to ship up to 4.2GW of capacity across the globe in 2014, a 25 per cent increase on last year. Profit margins are also widening following increased sales to higher-price markets such as Japan, where shipments rose 30 per cent in the last quarter.

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson