Solar Jobs cuts loom as orders plummet

Kieron D’Arcy says he will soon face the unpalatable task of telling up to two-thirds of his solar system installation workforce that he can no longer keep them on.

Mr D’Arcy, chief executive of renewable energy company Unltd Energy, said about 75 people were employed directly or as subcontractors to his company which installs photovoltaic systems on the roofs of Western Australian homes.

Like his competitors, Mr D’Arcy’s solar jobs has oscillated through a boom and bust cycle driven by the whims of government policy. Mr D’Arcy said installation orders in June – the last month in which the 40¢ a kilowatt hour net feed-in tariff rate applied – jumped 300 per cent compared with a regular month.

But in July, when the tariff was halved to just 20¢, orders plunged to just 10 per cent of regular sales. And that was before yesterday’s announcement by the Government that the scheme will be axed.

“It’s going to have a very negative effect on the business and it will mean solar jobs losses,” Mr D’Arcy said. “We are not looking for subsidies, we are just looking for a fair go.”

Mr D’Arcy said it was impossible to plan for the business amid the ever-changing rules and blasted the Government for a lack of consultation.

“Even with the original gross feed-in tariff of 60¢, if they had have come and talked to the industry we probably could have told them that was not really going to be sustainable,” he said.

“Now it’s our customers who are going to be ripped off.”

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by GARETH PARKER, The West Australian

The Author

I took an interest in the Australian energy sector close to ten years ago and since then have monitored the trends, technologies and direction of the Australian Energy Market. I was drawn to the Australian solar market in 2008 and since then have worked heavily in the field. I am partnered with national and international solar energy companies, from manufacturers of solar panel and inverter technology, online software developers that introduce tools to quote, monitor and manage solar power systems and media organisations who like myself, closely monitor the solar and renewable energy sector.

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