Industry Led National Solar Summit Announced

The Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) have announced an industry led national solar summit to develop a national strategy to ensure the ongoing viability of the sector.

The Australian solar industry and households wanting to make the switch to solar panels have been dealt blow after blow over the last year through a haphazard approach to changes to renewable energy incentives such as feed in tariffs and solar rebates.

“The industry and householders have had enough of ad hoc stop start Government policy around solar; putting 15,000 jobs at risk and billions in investment,” said AuSES CEO John Grimes. “A national solar strategy would give householders control over their power bills and secure the future of clean energy solar jobs.”

Each state has different arrangements in regard to solar feed in tariffs, a type of incentive where solar power system owners are paid for electricity generated by their rooftop arrays. State governments have continually underestimated the popularity of residential solar power, causing confusion and hardship when the programs are halted or slashed long before expected.

When the ACT closed its feed in tariff program to new connections, it immediately introduced a ruling that ensured system owners would still be paid for the energy they export to the grid. However, no such surety was put in place when NSW closed its program and now some power companies are receiving surplus electricity generated by systems not covered under its previous program for free; while charging a premium price to their non-solar customers subscribing to green electricity plans.

“All we need is a fair market price for the energy households feed back into the grid – known as a one-for-one feed-in-tariff,” said SEIA President Ged McCarthy.

Fearing a NSW-type scenario occurring in other states; AuSES and the SEIA want to see legislation for a one-for-one feed in tariff applied across the nation as an absolute minimum, to act as a safety net if other states should also decide to close their programs to new applications. The issue of feed in tariffs will be one of many topics discussed at the summit.

The Industry Led National Solar Summit will be held at Parliament House in Sydney on 23 June, 2011 and will bring together solar companies, state and federal Ministers, university experts and solar business leaders. A summary of the findings will be presented to the yet to be scheduled NSW Solar Summit as a formal response from the solar industry.