The Australian Solar Council – the peak body for the country’s solar industry – has announced a major advertising campaign against the Liberal National Party coalition in the Queensland election campaign, saying the future of the industry is at stake.
The ASC says it is spending “hundreds of thousands” of dollars in the first stage of its campaign, which will include TV, designed to highlight the implications for the solar industry if the LNP win power.
“It is a huge step for the Australian Solar Council to do political advertising, but solar companies are concerned,” says John Grimes, the chief executive of the ASC.
Liberal National Party policies present a direct threat to profits in Queensland’s renewables industry.”
Grimes told Reneweconomy that campaign was launched because it was felt that the issue – essentially one of solar versus coal – had not got the prominence it deserved.
“The reality of what’s at stake is not well understood, we have got to shake people up,” Grimes said.
“The implications of a Queensland LNP government that abolishes the renewable target, abolishes the RET in Queensland and signs up to new coal fired power station is completely untenable. That’s why we are taking this action.”
The LNP has made clear it will remove all subsidies for renewable energy in the state, and focus instead on building a new coal fired power station in north Queensland – an idea that even other coal generation companies say is ridiculous.
Labor, on the other hand, has promised to reach “at least” 50 per cent renewable energy by 2020, and promised more funding for a first solar thermal plant with storage, more solar for schools, initiatives for renters and low income households, and a 400MW tender for solar and storage.
The result, however, is in the balance, with One Nation polling strongly enough to possibly win some seats, and provide the numbers to support the LNP in a minority government.
Grimes noted that there were more than 24 large scale solar projects under development, or committed, in Queensland, and a pipeline of at least double that.
“We right on the cusp of an energy transformation,” he said. “There is a whole lot of investment that will fall by the wayside if we get a change in government.
The ASC is also concerned about the LNP’s declared support for the proposed National Energy Guarantee, which critics say will end up supporting existing fossil fuel generators and effectively penalise and put a halt to renewable energy development.
“The National Energy Guarantee is really a guarantee for coal,” Grimes says. “It means delay, inaction and confusion for renewable energy. That’s untenable for Queensland’s solar industry.
“When the National Energy Guarantee was announced, the Australian Solar Council promised a pointed political campaign against it. We are making good on that promise through newspaper, radio and digital advertising in key marginal seats in Queensland.
“Thousands of regional jobs have been created by the solar boom, and billions of dollars are being invested in regional communities but the solar boom could turn to bust in the Sunshine State,” said Mr Grimes.