Queensland’s solar power industry is back on track after three years of neglect under the former government said Minister for Energy and Water Supply Mark Bailey recently.
Under the Liberal National Party, Queensland saw the biggest job losses of any Australian state according to the Minister.
“For three years, the previous Newman government didn’t just ignore the solar sector, they also ridiculed it,” Mr Bailey said. “But under the Palaszczuk Government, Queensland’s sun-powered energy has a bright future once again.”
Speaking at an Australian Solar Council forum in Melbourne last week, Mr Bailey said major clean energy projects like the Mount Emerald Wind Farm and a proposed solar farm for Darling Downs were crucial to his government’s plan for 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
Mr Bailey blamed the Newman government for Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing a decline of 34 per cent employment in solar jobs in Queensland – 1,300 positions – the largest fall out of all state and territories in the country.
He also accused the Abbot Government of putting the future of Australia’s solar sector at risk with the recent and very lengthy Renewable Energy Target (RET) review.
“Investment in renewable technology has plummeted by 90 per cent during the past year – in a nation known for its abundant sunshine,” Mr Bailey said. “But this can be rectified to encourage investors to embark on large-scale projects.”
“We are committed to opening up the energy supply market to encourage homes and businesses to take up solar power purchase agreements, where they can be sold power at a cheaper price than the grid.”
As part of its Solar Future Program, Mr. Bailey said the Queensland government has an aspirational target of one million solar rooftops by 2020. According to the most recent data from Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator, there are more than 433,000 rooftops with solar panels in the state currently.
The Solar Future Program is designed encourage job creation in the renewables sector.
The government has committed to a 40 MW renewable energy auction, which it hopes will invite private investment into the industry and spur employment, along with an independent Productivity Commission review into a fair price for solar power. An investigation will also be carried out into allowing local governments and communities access to more off-the-grid technologies, such as wind turbines and solar farms.