Retro solar tax: it couldn’t happen here…could it?


a tax sign and 2 solar panels

Belgians living in Flanders are now taxed for owning solar power!

Know how you wake up in a cold sweat after a particularly bad nightmare readers? And I mean really bad dream (no not the one about NSW premier big, bad Barry “Bumper” O’Farrell and the three feed-in tariffs — that’s another story). Sitting bolt upright as your eyes slam awake you look around and calm yourself by saying “Thank [insert deity], it was all a dream”. Well your correspondent had the same visceral reaction when a particularly piece of nasty news reached his inbox this week.

Though, regrettably, the “it was only a dream” part may be questionable.

Let me explain.

The faraway region of Flanders in the country of Belgium (beautiful and friendly despite being used as the doormat of Europe for hundreds of years) is undergoing a solar energy crisis. Indeed like the economies of many nations in that troubled continent, things are looking down. Only 606 kW of PV capacity was installed in the first two months of 2013, according to Alex Polfliet, the head of the local solar energy association PV Vlaandern. That’s only 100 average sized 3kW systems per month! A pittance.  Mr Polfliet told renewable energy magazine PHOTON that the situation was akin to a “disaster” for Flanders’ solar power.

He went on to blame the grinding to a halt of the solar power market in Flanders as the:

“… direct result of the introduction of a retroactive grid tax for all PV systems installed in Flanders and cuts to the region’s green certificate (GC) program.”

Retroactive grid tax? What? Here’s where the cold sweat started to kick in folks. You see in recent years it has become a bit of an Aussie tradition to make swingeing cuts to solar power tariffs and other renewable energy programs in the aftermath of an election. Indeed the tradition of belting solar power with a baseball bat following at the completion of an election cycle is becoming about as predictable as a batting collapse by the Aussie cricket team.

With a federal election called for September, should solar power fans be concerned about the introduction of a similar retrospective solar grid tax ? Ouch! Would it be possible that the knuckle-dragging, fossil-fuel loving, climate change denying party apparatchiks of both Labor and Coalition would even consider such an extreme and dangerous move?

But that couldn’t happen here in Oz could it readers? Not with the forward thinking, knowing-what’s-best-for-the-people type of pollies who polish their bums on the seats in Canberra (and the state capitals). Surely reason would prevail as the respective major parties would see renewable (particularly solar) power as the future for our country’s energy needs? If anything wouldn’t they increase taxes and reduce subsidies for polluting fossil fuel industries?

No, unlike Flanders, we’re OK. (Reality check: Hang on…wait, what am I saying…be afraid readers. Be very afraid.)


  1. Ross Hastings says

    Rich, your comments are colourfull and very relevant. Thanks for the blog

  2. Marc Talloen says

    Retroactive: i.o.w. those Flemish owners of PV installations purchased before 2013 will also be paying a grid tax which is far beyond the real grid usage cost shouldered by the traditional electric power producer. Scandalous!!
    Use Google translate to check this article:

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