The Australian Secretary for Climate Change, Mark Dreyfus, announced on Tuesday that solar hot-water rebates would no longer apply under the Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme. The Clean Energy Council and various industry representatives expressed disbelief and surprise at this decision.
However, Dreyfus countered that the previous administration had always planned for the scheme to end this year; his government had seen no reason to change this. He said the AUD$320 million program would have suffered cost overruns if it had been allowed to continue.
The rebate offered up to AUD$1,000 to households that have installed a solar hot-water system. This scheme was supposed to act as a prelude to the introduction of a carbon tax to aid the government in achieving its planned 2012-13 budget surplus.
Notwithstanding, the Clean Energy Council’s acting chief executive Kane Thornton said this could put more than 1,200 manufacturing jobs and 6,000 installation jobs at risk. The clean-energy sector argues that subsidies are needed to drive technological advancement that will make low-emissions technologies commercially viable.
The Australian states some within the industry see this as a short-term solution to counter “last-minute scrambles” as seen in Germany and the UK.