A new report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the equivalent of 5,570 workers were directly employed full-time in the nation’s rooftop solar sector in 2015/16.
While the bigger picture wasn’t an entirely happy one, our solar industry is still an Australian success story and will continue to be.
ABS estimates direct full-time-equivalent (FTE) employment in renewable energy activities in Australia reached 11,150 in 2015-16, so rooftop solar made up around half.
However, it was a significant drop from 2014-15 and continued a decline in renewable energy employment overall since 2011-12, when it peaked at 19,220.
The proportion of solar power (including large scale) employment varied wildly between some states.
Western Australia led the way with the highest proportion of direct FTE solar power employment in 2015-16, at 93%. This was followed by the Northern Territory (82%), Victoria (71%), South Australia (66%), Queensland (54%) and New South Wales (53%).
While the downwards trend in employment is disappointing, there are still many millions of suitable rooftops across the nation without solar panels. The cost of going solar is continuing to decrease and demand for solar batteries is only just starting to kick into gear.
With more than 1.6 million installations of solar power systems already in place across the nation, there will also be a significant number of new jobs relating to retrofits generated in the emerging and closely-related energy storage sector. Perhaps the ABS may start including it in its next report.
The ABS acknowledges the statistic are a work in progress.
“This is still a relatively new collection, and improvements to the estimation methods continue to be made as new data sources are identified, so the publication is expected to evolve over time,” said ABS Program Manager of Environment and Agricultural Statistics, Lisa Wardlaw-Kelly.
ABS defines direct employment as “production of renewable energy, and/or by the design, construction and/or maintenance of renewable energy infrastructure”.
The industry also provides employment in a wide range of other activities, including sales and marketing.
Further statistics and information can be viewed here: Employment in Renewable Energy Activities – Australia.