What to Really Expect at the Second NSW Solar Summit

By Rich Bowden

This week’s announcement by NSW Energy Minister Chris Hartcher that the Second NSW Solar Summit, to be held in Newcastle on July 1, will provide a “…key pathway to managing the development of the renewable energy industry in a consistent and sustainable manner,” brought a smile to my face.

Solar Muppet
For wasn’t it the same Honourable Member who, as part of his newly-elected government’s “slash and burn” approach to the solar industry, unilaterally declared he would decrease the solar bonus feed-in tariff retrospectively from 60c per kilowatt hour to 40c? Opposition from solar customers, the solar industry, the public and even from the NSW Government’s own backbench ultimately forced a stubborn Mr Hartcher to reinstate the original offer, negotiated under the previous Labor Government.

Indeed it was at the first Solar Summit in May that these desperate cuts were first put on the table, much to the concern of moderates in his own party.

But the Energy Minister goes further in his June 19 media release saying solar energy is a vital part of the NSW Government’s energy program. He says his government “…remains committed to renewable energy with a focus on sensible, sustained and affordable progress for renewables,” (presumably he assures us this with his fingers tightly crossed behind his back).

The Energy Minister’s (and the present NSW Government’s) true approach to the state’s solar energy industry can best be divined by its second best approach to obtaining funding for a giant solar energy plant to be situated in Moree, in country NSW. Part of the Solar Flagships scheme, and one of two such developments (the other being in Chincilla, Qld), there is no doubt the NSW Government has negotiated the worst option of the two, according to NSW Greens MP Dr John Kaye.

“Queensland scored the premium project with more jobs, greater technical challenges and rewards and a much brighter future,” said Dr Kaye.

“NSW has to make do with the leftovers that cannot contribute to the overnight load. The Moree project, while a welcome boost to the region’s economy, is unlikely to develop much in the way of new technology or know-how with export potential,” he adds.

Dr Kaye is adamant in where the blames lies for the neglect. Successive state governments. Labor and Liberal.

So when you hear Mr Hartcher say that NSW is a “world leader in solar industry research”  and that his government is “…committed to supporting a successful solar and renewable energy sector in NSW,” make sure you have a pinch of salt handy.

 

Comments

  1. UPDATE: What actually happened at the solar summit from someone who attended:

    http://solarbusiness.com.au/solar/?p=703

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