In the Icy German Winter, during the 12 days of Christmas, the Germans installed more than 3 gigawatts of solar PV – a sum that is nearly ten times our Federal Goverment’s entire target for big solar.
To much fanfare the Labor Government has been announcing, and re-announcing, its Solar Flagships program for the past two and half years. And, you guessed it, there has been no action and nothing has been paid for or built. (Update, see our story on CS Energy quitting Solar Dawn consortium).
Back in May 2009 Energy and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson announced the Solar Flagship program, the then press release said of Solar Flagships, “offers funding on an unprecedented scale for the development of solar power in Australia.”
This claim could only be made on the basis that the government didn’t have any history of seriously backing solar. In fact, the Howard government were shocking in closing down Co-operative Research Centres related to renewable energy and this Labor government continues the tradition, but not through the so obvious attacks on Solar as the previous government,but through hollow announcements.
Since May 2009, when Australia first announced its plans for a solar flagships project, and finally chose two projects, only to see them fail to get funding, Germany,where they do things before they announce them, have installed the equivalent of one hundred and fifteen Solar Flagships projects. That’s not 115 times the announcement but actually building 115 times the real capacity of what is in Labor’s announcement.
The governments so called Solar Flagships project at Moree is just 150MW, for comparison Germany installed 20 times this in December alone, at the height of the extreme German winter where the thermostat is often well below zero, and during the Christmas holidays.
In other words in Germany, they’ve fired up the industrial machine, workers on the job, manufactured more than half of the panels themselves, applied the most successful funding method – which is a Feed-in-Tariff – and implemented it properly. They are now ready to generate 4% of their electricity from solar next year.
The time for talk, or announcements is over, It’s now time for this Labor government to get serious, install an appropriate Feed-in-Tariff scheme for getting solar constructed at all scales – commercial, large scale, baseload and residential, along with wind. Have the policy set out to achieve some serious targets, ultimately 15-20% from rooftop solar, 30-35% from large scale baseload solar and 50% from wind. These are the kind of targets that the world’s OECD leaders - Germany, Spain and Denmark are working towards – and we should obviously be too.