Australian news, and some related international items

Queensland Premier Newman’s war on solar energy

Can-do Campbell slashes Queensland solar PV tariffs,  REneweconomy,  By  on 25 June 2012 One of the most depressingly predictable political back-flips has finally come to pass, with the Campbell Newman-led Queensland state government abandoning its commitment to the solar bonus scheme, and announcing it will slash its net feed-in tariff from a 44c/kWh to just 8c/kWh.

The dramatic move means that Queensland is the last state to remove the solar PV FiT, and replace it with a nominal amount. The 8c tariff will be reviewed in July 2013, and will end in July 2014 – leaving retailers to make only a “voluntary contribution.”

This is despite promises by Newman during the campaign that the solar bonus scheme would not be cut. But as we pointed out in this item in March, Can-do Campbell and the art of political risk, Newman intended to cut a whole range of climate and clean energy schemes. Newman has now brought an end to a variety of renewable energy schemes, including a $5 million grant for the Cloncurry solar PV project, and funding for geothermal research.

Newman also sought to exit a $75 million grant for the Solar Dawn project in the solar flagships program, but has found he could not. He may still be able to hold on to the money if Solar Dawn is unable to negotiate a power purchase agreement with the state government-owned utility.

Queensland was the last state to pull back on its feed-in tariff, mostly because it was so successful, intelligently designed, and cost little to other electricity users – AEMO last year estimated it added just 0.013c/kWh to electricity bills.

However, the government was lobbied intensely by generators, led by AGL (whose managing director Michael Fraser chairs the Clean Energy Council) to can the FiT on the basis that it was a “regressive” tax that penalised other users. AGL argued, as we highlighted in this article, that although the FiT represented less than 1 per cent of overall costs, it represented a transfer of wealth from generators to consumers…….

What happens now in the Queensland market will be interesting to see. This year, the Queensland market accounted for nearly half the rooftop PV installations in Australia. Given that customers have 10 days to sign up for a rooftop system (midnight July 9) to take advantage of the higher tariff, a surge in demand can be expected. Warwick Johnston of Sunwiz says managing the anticipated demand could be a challenge for the industry.

The CEC said in a statement that 4,500 jobs could go in Queensland once the dust settles. It said the Solar Bonus Scheme had helped build an industry which now employed 11,000 Queenslanders and stimulated $2.37 billion worth of private investment.

“It is appropriate that the Queensland government reduces the level of its support scheme, given the great success of solar and the reduction in the cost of solar power systems in recent times,” acting CEO Kane Thornton said in a statement. “However, this kind of sudden drop could have a serious negative impact on an industry that has been delivering major economic benefits to the state,” he said…….

June 26, 2012 - Posted by | Queensland, solar |

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: