Combet Foreshadows End To Solar Power Incentives

News outlets are reporting Climate Change Minister Greg Combet will be seeking to axe some solar power incentive programs.

According to a report on The Australian, Minister Combet will be approaching the states to scrap “inefficient” climate change schemes when Australia’s carbon tax is implemented. It would appear from the report that Minister Combet has lumped in solar feed in tariffs among those “inefficient” schemes.

No mention was made about totally axing the Solar Credits scheme, but given his quoted comment of  “..we intend advancing the argument that it (the market mechanism) is the most efficient, least-cost way of reducing pollution in our economy,” reports of the speech are causing jitters for some in the solar power industry, particularly in states where incentives have already been slashed.

With the prospect of solar power achieving grid parity with fossil fuel based electricity generation nationally on the horizon, it’s generally agreed the sector really only needs a few more years of support before it can stand on its own two feet; bearing in mind it is competing with the heavy subsidisation of the fossil fuel sector that has been going on for decades and will likely continue in various forms past a carbon tax being imposed. This assumes that post-subsidies, a 1:1 feed in tariff arrangement is in place nationally for new connections, paying solar power system owners the market rate for surplus electricity generated.

It’s feared any further slashing of incentives before that time may not only destroy the home solar power industry and the thousands of jobs it has generated; but also lock out tens of thousands of Australian families from installing home solar power systems to save on rapidly escalating electricity bills.

PerthNow is reporting Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett has seized on Minister Combet’s comments, stating he should cut all his renewable energy policies, including Australia’s Renewable Energy Target, before asking the states to do the same. It was reported yesterday Western Australia may not meet its target.

With solar incentives being reduced or cut altogether with little or no notice all too often in recent years, it’s this ongoing instability and uncertainty that leads national solar solutions provider Energy Matters to state the best time to install solar panels is often “right now” in order to lock in whatever financial support is available at the time.