Will the Coalition’s $500 Solar Rebate do more harm than good?

Greg Hunt's new solar rebate scheme may really stuff up the solar industry...

Greg Hunt’s new solar rebate scheme may really stuff up the solar industry…

Nothing more we like at SQHQ that a good old fashioned brouhaha. After all a bit of air clearing is needed after the uncertainty (and dare I say disappointment) of the way solar policy was gleefully trashed following the election. This of course included the change in government policy on solar rebates, war declared on renewable energy agencies and indeed anything that looked like it could be called progressive energy policy from the previous government. As such our very own Finn Peacock, took the baseball bat to the new solar rebate policy announced by Greg “The Smiling Assassin” Hunt (By the way does anyone else think that Mr Hunt and David Potter from ABC’s “Rake” look worryingly familiar?)

Greg, as you know readers, is the brand new minister for the now Orwellian-sounding portfolio Environment, Heritage and Water. Greg’s bum had barely hit the minister’s seat as he announced a raft of anti-environment measures including the trashing of funding for renewable energy agencies. Little noticed during his scorched earth policy was his solar rebate announcement. So is the Coalition government’s solar rebates policy good policy for the solar sector? Or will it have lasting negative repercussions for the solar industry? Finn argues in this article in the Climate Spectator that the new government’s solar rebates will harm the solar sector and is therefore bad policy. He does this with three deft points:

1. The solar rebates policy will encourage an expansion of the lower end of the solar panel market, leading to a flooding of the market of cheap (and questionable quality) panels at the expense of those of better quality.

2. The $500 solar rebates may have the effect of increasing the price of solar by reducing the value of financial incentives that are already in place.

3. The policy will only encourage more of the destructive “solar roller coaster” ride which peaks through rebates and feed-in tariffs then is wiped out when these are withdrawn.

The piece hit a nerve with readers of the Climate Spectator with many agreeing with Finn that the solar roller coaster ride (the “boom and bust” cycle that we’re always harping on about) is the last thing the solar sector needs. An anonymous commenter expanded on Finn’s point by adding that the “…industry needs to complete its consolidation phase, mature and grow organically.” A good point. Mick Hempenstall also added a comment saying that the new government’s solar rebates policy was a sort of Clayton’s policy. The policy you have when you don’t really have a coherent solar policy.

Is Greg “Smiley” Hunt on a political winner with the $500 solar rebates policy? Will it harm the solar sector though? Is the continuation of the “boom and bust” cycle that has seen so many Australian solar companies go under in fact the aim of the Clayton’s policy? Finn’s kicked off the solar rebates debate with his article but we’d like your thoughts. Please add your opinions to this rant or over at our Facebook Page. Also don’t hesitate to join the debate over at Climate Spectator.

(Also worth a read is Ric Brazzale’s riposte that the new rebate will actually save the solar industry and Tristan Edis’ look at the hollow men behind the decision)

Comments

  1. Ahhh, but short-term solutions and quick fixes are the hallmarks of most conservative governments. Bandaid solutions (BUY the boats!) give us a clear indication of the minimal depth of understanding we’ll see practised for the next few years… .

    • And your point SV is? Or are you suggesting that the Pink Batts and Schools’ Building programs were well considered bits of the previous government’s understanding?

      • Irresponsible FBN contractors who put untrained kids into roofs deserved to lose their contracts, Neil. Schools’ Building Programs suffered the same kind of tomfoolery, when opportunistic builders amped the costs sky high. Both programs had good long-term intent, but were poorly administered by a politician who later spat the dummy and left the scene. But let’s return to those barnacle-encrusted scows. Do you believe that’s money well-spent? I guess it might assist the Indonesian economy, as people smugglers (who apparently no longer exist 🙂 ) build faster, more seaworthy craft for a quicker turnaround… . 😉

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