The solar industry in Australia has upstaged other energy sources in terms of job generation, according to a recent report. The report released by The Australia Institute cites that 13,300 people in Australia have jobs that are connected with the solar industry. These workers are employed by 4,300 solar PV companies. It marks a significant increase from the number of workers employed by the industry, which only amounted to 1,800 workers in 2008. The news is also surprising given the history of Australia as a coal-fired economy. In sharp contrast, the number of jobs generated by coal-fired power stations in the country has steadily decreased due to the lack of coal power plants built in the past few years. In fact, the biggest coal-fired power plants in the country like Macquarie Generation and Standwell were only able to employ 642 and 800 workers, respectively. The solar PV industry in Australia has been on a rapid expansion in the past few years, despite threats like the Abbott government’s perceived lack of interest in supporting the country’s Renewable Energy Target .
Renewable Energy Target be to Scrapped?
Industry leaders say that thousands of solar jobs could be at risk if the Australian government pushes with its plan to scrap the Renewable Energy Target. The target– which requires that 20 per cent of all electricity generated by the year 2020 to emanate from renewable energy sources– is being reviewed by the government. There are fears within the industry that the Abbott government will reduce the Renewable Energy Target, although government officials say they remain committed to it.
The Solar Photovoltaic Industry Also Fearful
The solar PV industry, in particular, could lose up to 2,000 solar jobs if the government decides to scrap the Renewable Energy Target. A study conducted by Solar Business Services also estimates that 7,000 solar jobs could be lost should the government proceed with plans to scrap the Renewable Energy Target. Falling Demand The falling demand for rooftop solar panels due to the phase out of government incentive programs. A report made by the Green Energy Markets for the REC Agents Association cites that the demand for solar PV panels has dropped by 22 percent in the past 12 months. If the trend continues, the report says that more than 3,400 workers could lose their jobs in the next year or so.The same study says that the residential solar industry in Australia may have peaked, and that it faces numerous challenges that could cause many people to lose their jobs. It added that the number of people employed by the solar PV industry could drop by 3,400 with the number of installed capacity hitting a plateau. The Australia Institute Report adds that solar power can become a bigger employer should the prices of solar PV panels as well as battery storage continue to become more affordable. It recommended that the government help the industry through the removal of regulatory burdens and improvement of the electricity grid. These developments will enable the solar PV industry to compete well and thus provide more jobs to Australians.