Solar development eclipsed by fickle commitment

The recent changes to the solar feed-in tariff in NSW are causing uncertainty, income and job losses across the solar photovoltaics industry.

This is just another example of the lack of commitment and appropriate long-term planning by the government to assist the smooth development of solar PV industry in Australia, and NSW in particular.

I have watched with dismay this on/off approach to solar industry support for the past 30 years of my industry experience. No other industry in Australia has faced such swings in policy support for so many years, at state and federal levels.

Other countries have successfully developed renewable energy technologies. Denmark, for example, started the development of the wind energy industry in the 1970s and, with consistent support, developed a world-leading industry.

We have some of the best solar researchers and experienced engineers and technicians in the world. We should be capitalising on this expertise to further development and sell solar technologies worldwide. Instead we again see the government changing the rules. How can any industry make any plans for future growth in such an uncertain environment?

One has to ask who is pulling the policy strings within government and for what reason? Is it incompetence or political interference by vested interests?

It is almost as though once the solar industry starts to become too successful, it has to have its wings clipped.

What is needed is a fair and consistent feed-in tariff across the country that truly reflects the many benefits that solar electricity brings to society, home and business owners/operators and the electricity system.

These benefits are outlined on the Australian PV Associations website, www.apva.org.au.

Trevor Berrill sustainable energy systems consultant and educator, Wellington Point, Qld

Printed in The Sydney Morning Herald
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