The changing face of Australian solar as confidence returns

changes ahead sign

The large scale solar industry is really starting to pick up – now Abbott’s gone.

There’s a new spring in the step of investors in big solar as confidence that has been lacking during the Abbott years has been boosted following the Turnbull takeover.

The level of enthusiasm for solar power in Australia — and large-scale projects in particular — has been remarkable. The removal of the anti-renewables team of Abbott and Hockey (let’s call it like it is) hasn’t completely dissipated attempts to dismantle renewable energy in Australia. Witness the indecent rush to approve the Adani mine in Queensland as an indicator of the strength of the fossil fuel lobby.

However the removal of the Abbott administration and replacement with the more urbane, measured and supportive approach of the Turnbull team is paying dividends with the big end of town.

Confidence in the solar sector, both household and utility-scale solar has never been an issue with ordinary Australians. A recent survey by The Climate Institute showed a phenomenal 84 percent of respondents listed solar power in their top three preferred energy mix. A May survey by the independent market researcher Ipsos showed 77 percent of people surveyed backed large-scale solar to play a key role in Australia’s future energy needs.

However this enthusiasm hasn’t always been matched by investors in the large scale solar industry, reacting to an increasingly shrill and dangerous rhetoric from former PM Abbott and his ministers, designed (it would appear) to squeeze confidence out of the industry.

How things change. A recent RenewEconomy article outlines the changing face of Australian solar with investment pouring in following the ousting of Mr Abbott.

According to the report, local and international players — long scared off by a lack of policy “certainty” — have begun to cast their eyes to our shores. The fact that this happens to have coincided with the change in leadership is really no coincidence at all. Relishing the comparatively more pro-renewables administration, investors have inundated tenders put out by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Ergon Energy and the Queensland government.

Undoubtedly the ripple of confidence in the solar sector has permeated through the entire industry, to a new-found confidence in investing in big solar. As the responses to tenders shows, investors are ready and willing as long as governments can provide encouragement and a form of “certainty” in the marketplace.

So, what do you think? Does this portend the changing face of the Australian solar industry? One where investment in large-scale solar projects matches the enthusiasm long shown by Australians for rooftop solar?

About Rich Bowden

Rich Bowden is a freelance journalist specialising in working for the green sector. His interests are renewable energy, organic gardening, his family and writing, though not necessarily in that order.

Comments

  1. I am pretty sure that the last word hasn’t been spoken with the Adani mine in Queensland. There is a lot of movement at the station to stop this disaster of a development. Also I am pretty sure that we are not going to hear very much longer from the ‘village idiot’. Even his own people start to recognize what a waste of oxygen they have supported and he seems to shovel his own grave. You will always have some that think the rainbow starts from his behind.

    We can only hope that Paris will deliver a positive outcome. The ground swell for alternative energy is getting stronger and louder – especially solar in OZ- that has to be positive in the end whether Mr Hunt and the miners like it or not.
    Lets keep up the good work and spread the news.
    I can’t wait for storage to hit the ground here in Tassie.

  2. Carbon tax damages the economy. First undeniable fact. If you damage the economy, to enable you to “gift huge subsidies” to make wind and solar installations viable, The consumer is likely to lose twice. Second fact.

    The basic principle is that you cannot tax your way into prosperity. Taxing energy does absolutely nothing with regard to climate change or global warming, and running a scare campaign while claiming the opposite is so dishonest that your potential customers can see straight through the ruse.

    Solar is in demand for one simple reason alone: People want it. The reason they want it is because it costs a bit over a quarter the cost of an installed system during the previous carbon tax era. Thank China for getting the cost down.

    Now it is up to the Australian Solar Industry to get its collective finger out and get on with their marketing. Stop bleating about subsidies, you don’t need them any more.

    I am looking forward to the day when I can install high quality Li battery packs. My new home will be fitted up with three banks of panels and a three phase converter. Battery add on when it is “right”.

    I am one of the lucky ones, I have a mate who is CEO of the company in China making the system I will be using.

    Second time around for me.

    • Thanks Colin, interesting points as always.

      As Finn has said many times, he’s very happy if ALL subsidies were cut to the solar sector on one condition: that subsidies to the fossil fuel sector were also removed.

      Please keep us informed on how you go with your solar + storage venture. Good luck!

  3. The Adani mine won’t make a scrap of difference to the amount of coal used.
    It has been stated many times that if we don’t supply the coal other countries are more than ready to step in.
    Hopefully it will give us some scarce jobs that will pay good money to enable some more of us in the money go round to afford our own solar with battery storage and so help to reduce the amount of coal burnt here for power.

    • Thanks Clive, appreciate your input. Sounds a lot like the “Pig Iron” Bob Menzies argument prior to the Second World War. If we don’t supply the Japanese with metal (to make bullets and guns), someone else will. Somewhere, someone has to make the stand. It appears it won’t be Australia.

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