Renewable Energy Jobs are continuing to decrease in Australia

Published: 12 Apr 2016

Employment within the renewable energy industry in Australia has dropped by 27% since its peak back in 2011/12 and indications show it is continuing to decrease.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported the reduction in annual direct full-time employment was directly influenced by policies put in place by government. However the chief executive of PV firm in Australia believes the decline also is associated with increased employment efficiencies within the industry.

Solar energy including rooftop, solar hot water and large-scale continues to be the dominant source of the  proportion of employment in the renewables sector, accounting for 8,310 jobs (59%) in 2014/15, although numbers were significantly down from peak employment of 14,350 in 2011/12, reported ABS.

The overall reduction in employment is likely due to winding back after the initial surge of peak rebates for renewable energy in Australia during 2011. While Australia has the highest penetration of rooftop solar in the world with 19% of suitable private dwellings equipped with a PV system, this penetration also varies noticeably across states and territories. ABS therefore claimed that there remains considerable scope to increase the number of rooftop systems in the country.

Changes in employment efficiency

The number of people employed per megawatt installed is decreasing as the industry becomes more efficient and effectively is capable of doing more with less input.  In other words despite employing far fewer people than the traditional generating industries the efficiency and output has continued to increase.

The question is whether the employment numbers continue to steadily decline as efficiency continues to improve?

The impact of policies and government

The size of the industry is directly related and affected by policy and current policies have tended to work against the solar industry in Australia. The turning point for renewables employment also came after the market peak in 2011/12 when the Renewable Energy Target (RET) was at its most generous to the industry. The 14-month debate over the setting of the RET up to June last year also continued to hold back investment in the industry and financing challenges have continued to the present day.

The Australian renewable industry is still being held back by uncertainty over government policy and investment.

Source: PV Tech

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