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Gold rush for roof top solar

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Gold rush for roof top solar

More solar roof top panels will be installed on Australian rooftops in the first six months of this year than for all of 2010 - as efforts by the Federal Government to slow the industry down backfire.

Government figures show 21.3 million Renewable Energy Certificates have been created so far this year as people rush to get the maximum rebate for their systems before it cuts out at the end of the month.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet sparked the rush when he announced last December that the subsidy of an average $6200 per household for installing the systems would be cut to around $4800, effective from July 1 - one year ahead of schedule - after the 21.9 million certificates created in 2010 prompted the government to act.

Consultants told the government in 2009 to expect the number of certificates to peak at about 11 million in 2011.

Last month, as the rush to get the maximum discount before it went gathered pace, Minister Combet announced an even higher cut would apply from the end of this financial year, reducing the subsidy by another $1000.

Senator Boswell said the market response to both moves was “utterly predictable.”

“After the announcement of the first cut to the subsidy, installers had the perfect marketing tool - get in quick or miss out,” he said. “The announcement last month that the cut would be even deeper just meant the gold rush went into a higher gear.”

The surge in sign-ups and installations comes as other levels of government move to constrain the cost of subsidies for roof-top solar.

Successive New South Wales governments have gutted a scheme whereby owners of roof-top solar systems were paid a premium for the electricity they generated. That lead was recently followed by the demise of the ACT scheme. The moves were in response to growing awareness of the impact of the state subsidies on power prices.

“You would have to expect that after the end of the financial year, demand will start to fall, but the government has already kicked an own goal in terms of its renewable energy target because of the way it has so mismanaged roof top solar,” Senator Boswell said.

“Would be builders of big wind farms need a high price for RECs to justify their investment, but the bungle the government has made of roof-top solar means the price of the certificates is way too low, and will stay low for a long time.”


6th June 2011 B2011/33