Apr 19, 2005

Cutting solar energy program will lose jobs and investment

CUTTING SOLAR ENERGY PROGRAM WILL LOSE JOBS AND INVESTMENT

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 19 April 2005

There was a time not that long ago when Australia led the world in solar energy research and technological development.

According to this week’s Business Review Weekly, while the European renewable energy industry is booming, Australia is missing out on investment worth $3 billion as a direct result of Government decisions.

The Government’s decision not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol has meant Australian companies such as Macquarie Bank are investing in massive renewable energy projects in Europe and Britain.

In June 2004, a German company bought the rights to world class solar energy technology developed by the University of NSW and Pacific Power.

Howard Government policies are driving away important investment dollars from Australia. Australian jobs and technology are going overseas.

To make matter worse, the Federal Government is seriously considering cutting the program that directly supports the solar industry in 2005 Budget.

Funding for the photovoltaic rebate program (PVRP) runs out in June 2005. There are deep concerns for the program’s future as the Government has refused to confirm to industry groups whether there will be ongoing funding for it.

The program costs $8m per annum and it delivers an important stimulus for the clean energy industry. The PVRP provides customers with up to a $4000 rebate on the cost of a system that would cost around $12,000.

It is the only program that delivers a direct benefit to consumers and manufacturers. It has directly stimulated the industry and, according to Business Council for Sustainable Energy, is responsible for more than half the 15,000 solar panels on rooftops in Australia.

Labor calls on the Howard Government to keep the PVRP.

Australia needs clear thinking and action to cut greenhouse emissions.

Australia should ratify the Kyoto Protocol, establish a greenhouse emissions trading scheme and support clean renewable energy, such as solar energy and wind power.