New South Wales solar industry in crisis
Aug 5, 2011 - Chris Whitmore - pv-tech.org
Without Government assistance, the New South Wales solar industry could cease to exist in as little as eight weeks, according to the Australian Solar Energy Society.
Despite the State Government backing down over its proposed changes to the Solar Bonus Scheme earlier this month, the PV industry is still in dire need of support from Sydney, with its most likely saviour coming in the form of a generously-revised feed-in tariff.
However, John Grimes, CEO of the Australian Solar Energy Society, believes it may already be too late.
"We've seen companies that have gone from 19 employees to two. They're holding on to see what's going to happen," Grimes said. "If we don't get a one-for-one feed-in tariff in place in New South Wales immediately those companies will close altogether and that would be a huge tragedy."
Although solar dodged one bullet when the Government made its last-minute u-turn over its plan to retrospectively cut the tariff paid to households from AU$0.60 per kWh to AU$0.40, no amount of industry lobbying could prevent the, arguably more harmful, decision to close the subsidy scheme to new applicants.
This draconian measure has left solar in turmoil, and while Energy Minister Chris Hartcher has moved to calm fears by offering a number of alternative proposals for keeping the industry afloat – due to be considered at a second solar summit next week, for the time being, the industry’s future in New South Wales remains clouded in uncertainty.