Renewables emerge from ‘Valley of Death’

SLOW DOWN: The business case for solar power is still robust but the heat’s gone out of the demand for solar panels, according to local industry.
SLOW DOWN: The business case for solar power is still robust but the heat’s gone out of the demand for solar panels, according to local industry. Trevor Veale

QUEENSLAND'S solar industry is slowly recovering after demand was halved by the uncertainty created through Coalition and Queensland LNP governments' policy shifts.

Leading Sunshine Coast solar industry figure Jock Howard of SPS Energy Eumundi said PM Tony Abbott had driven a knife through the heart of the solar industry and brought it to its knees for two years.

Mr Howard said the Prime Minister had brought in known climate change sceptic Maurice Newman to conduct a review of various renewable energy schemes.

His report, which recommended that the raft of schemes first initiated by John Howard's government be scrapped, paralysed the industry.

At the same time changes in the way power bills were charged distorted the market allowing politicians to claim energy costs were coming down.

Mr Howard said even though the unit cost had dropped by between 1-3%, individual power bills had gone up because of 100% increase in service fees.

Consumers were also charged fees for different tariffs including 10 cents a day for Tariff 11, three cents for off peak and nearly seven cents for what he describes as "the privilege of having solar panels on your roof".

"Pollies can say power is getting cheaper, but the bill keeps going up,'' Mr Howard said. "The uncertainty created by Tony Abbott has knackered solar and strangled wind energy where there is now $89 million in deferred investment."

Mr Howard praised the work of Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer, now independent Senators Jackie Lambie, Glen Lazarus and the Motoring Enthusiasts Party's Ricky Muir as well as Nick Xenophon who had combined with Labor and the Greens for their stoic defence of the Renewable Energy Target which had forced a compromise on targets for renewable energy.

"Now there's certainty the industry will recover,'' he said. "The business case (for renewables) is as robust as it ever was but the heat's gone out of the demand.

"The industry's called it the Valley of Death. Whoever's survived will do all right."

Topics:  environment government policy renewable energy solar

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