In spite of the Australian Federal Government’s recent $100,000 annual income means test on solar power rebates, figures recently released relating to the Solar Homes and Communities Plan show an average of 522 applications have been lodged each week since May’s budget.
According to Environment Minister Peter Garrett, the average level of applications was far higher than in any single week throughout the program’s history.
The figures were announced at the national ATRAA Conference and Exhibition, the premier annual event for the solar photovoltaic (PV) and small-scale renewable technologies industry.
Rob Jackson, GM Policy for the Clean Energy Council said:
“The rebate scheme, particularly in the last two years, has allowed the industry to build capacity and capability. However the industry is now ready to transition to a nationally consistent gross feed in tariff; this policy will deliver the long term certainty needed for investment and jobs growth.”
A feed-in tariff is an amount paid to a solar grid connect system or wind turbine owner for surplus electricity fed back into the electricity grid. While feed-in tariff regulations exist in dozens of other countries, Australia has lagged behind.
The solar rebate figures are certainly impressive and show an increasing interest in residential solar power in Australia. A feed-in tariff would take the implementation of clean, green and renewable energy options such as solar and wind power to new levels; demonstrating a serious commitment by the Australian government to tackle climate change and providing thousands of new employment opportunities within the country.
Interviewed by the Melbourne Age, Energy Matters spokesman Markus Lambert also pointed out that a massive fall in sales was on the horizon due to the Government’s approach to the rebate scheme.
Mr Lambert states that other factors have been assisting, such as incentive schemes at a state level and uncertainty over how long the rebate would be offered; especially given there has been no announcement about how long it will continue after an initial boost from 3000 rebates per year to 6000.
“You do feel it is a little like everyone running to get in before the lights turn off,” Mr Lambert said.