Australia’s Solar Flagships May Not Be Sunk

The federal government’s Solar Flagships program, which was to have faced the axe to help pay for damage caused by the Queensland floods, is now back on the national agenda after the Australian Greens agreed to support the Prime Minister’s flood levy.
   
The government had committed almost $1.5 billion to the Program which would build four large-scale grid-connected solar energy installations powered by solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) technology. The program was part of the $5 billion Clean Energy Initiative (CEI).
   
In the aftermath of the devastating floods around the nation last month, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced  that cuts, caps and deferments would be made to renewable energy measures throughout the budget, including Solar Flagships, the Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme and the Solar Hot Water Rebate
   
The Greens are say they have ensured $100 million will flow into Solar Flagships within the forwards estimates period (before 2015) with the remainder of the funding to follow. A round table discussion between the government and Greens will convene to discuss how best to utilise solar energy funding into the future, including the role of feed-in tariffs as a necessary mechanism in the uptake of solar energy in Australia.
  
In a statement the Party says that, by negotiating with the Greens, the government has acknowledged the role of feed-in tariffs and given the Australian solar thermal and PV industries a real chance to flourish and start replacing our old dirty coal fired power plants.
  
"It’s a win-win," said Greens spokeswoman Christine Milne. "The Greens not only getting some of the money back, but actually proactively getting the [Solar Flagships] scheme redesigned so it can do what it was designed to do: generate energy and create jobs."