4631.0 - Employment in Renewable Energy Activities, Australia, 2015-16 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/03/2017   
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EXPLANATORY NOTES

RENEWABLE ENERGY EMPLOYMENT

Definition and scope

1 In this publication renewable energy employment is defined as employment in activities principally motivated by the production of renewable energy, and/or by the design, construction and/or operation and maintenance of renewable energy infrastructure. These renewable energy activities are carried out within institutional units and for some of these units, renewable energy activities are its predominant activity. In other cases, the renewable energy activity occurs as a secondary activity of the institutional unit. Nevertheless, employment related to all such renewable energy activities is in scope of this publication.


CATEGORIES OF RENEWABLE ENERGY

2 Renewable energy may be generated from a number of sources. Within Australia the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 describes the range of renewable energy sources eligible under this act and these form the basis of renewable energy types contained in this publication. The broad categories of renewable energy types are:

  • Solar - Roof-top photovoltaic (PV)
  • Solar - Hot Water System
  • Solar - Large scale
  • Wind
  • Hydro
  • Biomass
  • Geothermal
  • Wave

3 In addition, a significant number of employees of government bodies and non-profit institutions (NPIs) are engaged in activities directly and predominantly motivated by the promotion, administration and production of renewable energy and of renewable energy infrastructure. Within this publication the following additional category of renewable energy activity is included:
  • Government and non-profit institutions (NPIs).

4 Government and NPI employees are recorded separately from the other categories of renewable energy, since these employees are typically engaged in activities that cut across various types of renewable energy. For example, an employee of the Clean Energy Regulator who carries out tasks related to the administration of Australia's renewable energy target is principally motivated by the delivery of a market infrastructure to promote all types of renewable energy. Since Australia's renewable energy target promotes a range of renewable energy types, it is not appropriate to assign employees of an entity such as the Clean Energy Regulator to a specific type of renewable energy. Instead, they are assigned to a separate category 'Government and NPIs'.


SCOPE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY ACTIVITIES

5 This section briefly describes the scope of activities included under each category of renewable energy and for government and NPIs. Direct full time equivalent (FTE) employment in renewable activities relates specifically to the following activities.

Solar - Roof-top photovoltaic (PV)

6 Employment in solar roof-top PV activities extends to all activities required to install small scale solar power infrastructure. This includes such activities as site preparation; roof modifications; electrical preparations (e.g. powerboard upgrade and/or meter replacement); installation of racking for solar panels, solar panels and inverter; and testing and certification of installed systems. It also includes related retail activities and project management. Employment in operation and maintenance of roof-top solar PV is in scope, however no estimates have been made of employment in these activities because it is assumed to be insignificant due to the low maintenance generally required for this infrastructure and the low average age of solar panels currently installed in Australia.

7 Note that while these activities are described as relating to 'roof top PV' solar, in fact they include employment activities related to all solar PV systems with the exception of those related to the category of Solar - large scale.

Solar - Hot water system

8 Employment in solar hot water system activities includes installation of solar hot water systems (HWS), either into new dwellings; or into existing dwellings as a replacement for existing solar HWS or as retrofitted conversion to solar HWS. Direct employment in renewable energy activities relates to those employment activities needed to carry out the installation of the solar HWS, for example, site preparation, system design, system installation, project management and administration. It also includes manufacturing of solar HWS in Australia, as well as repair and maintenance activity carried out on installed solar HWS.

Solar - Large scale

9 Employment in large scale solar activities includes employment activities related to all solar power systems with an installed capacity of 40kW or greater. The estimation methodology used in this publication for employment in large scale solar activities requires the creation of a listing of all large scale solar operations in Australia. The data source used to create this listing applies a cut-off point of 40kW and the estimates contained in this publication observe the same cut-off. In practice, large scale solar includes two broad types of solar power infrastructure. The first is a larger version of household roof-top solar PV installations, typically sited on the roof of commercial operations such as shopping centres, hospitality clubs or factories. The owner of this type of infrastructure is usually seeking to defray a significant electricity expense. The second type of large scale solar infrastructure is a dedicated solar farm allowing the electricity producer to supply electricity to the grid for sale to third-party customers. This type of infrastructure will allow its owner to gain accreditation under the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET). In both cases, employment in renewable energy activities relates to those direct employment activities needed to carry out the installation of large scale solar, such as site preparation, system design, system installation, project management and administration. In principle, it also includes employment related to the ongoing operation and maintenance of large scale solar power infrastructure.

Wind

10 Employment estimates for wind power encompass two broad areas of activity: installing wind power infrastructure such as concrete slabs, towers, turbines, grid connection and access roads; and the ongoing technical operation and maintenance of wind power infrastructure. The former is primarily undertaken by employees of engineering and construction, transport and similar businesses. The latter is typically carried out by employees of the wind power infrastructure operator. Small scale roof-top wind turbines are also a form of wind power generation. However, employment in small scale wind has not been included in this publication as only a very small number have been installed over the reporting period and it is currently not a widely utilised technology.

Hydro

11 Employment in hydropower activities includes all activities required to carry out hydropower operations, including those related to operating and managing hydropower assets to generate hydroelectricity. In addition to the range of technical activities needed to carry out these operations, hydropower activities include such things as related retail activity; engagement with local and national electricity markets; management of environmental assets and engagement with various hydropower stakeholders. Planning and construction of hydropower capital works are also in scope, and these activities include the construction and/or upgrade of dams for hydropower; upgrade and/or replacement of key technical components such as turbines and transformers; and capital works related to distribution assets such as grid connections, poles, wires and other distribution structures.

12 This category also includes employees involved in designing, developing and installing micro hydro power infrastructure.

Biomass

13 Energy from biomass includes bagasse (fibrous sugar cane waste); bio ethanol; bio diesel; gas from landfill; sewage gas; and crop and livestock waste. Direct employment in biomass energy activities includes the design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure used to create energy from biomass. It also includes employees who operate this infrastructure for the primary purpose of generating renewable energy.

14 Direct employee numbers for biomass do not include those engaged in cultivating biomass feedstock, such as red sorghum or sugar cane, for use in generating bio-energy. It also does not include employees engaged in pulp and paper manufacturing - a process in which black liquor may be created as a renewable energy by-product. The primary reason for pulping wood chips under a kraft milling process is to support the production of paper products; the creation of black liquor is a secondary (though valuable) outcome. This is also the case for red sorghum and sugar cane as they are primarily grown for other purposes and renewable energy is created as a secondary product.

15 However, the use of bagasse (fibrous sugar cane waste) to generate electricity can and does give rise to direct employment in biomass energy activities. A number of sugar mills in Australia continue to operate beyond the conclusion of the sugar cane crushing season at which point their output is made up exclusively of electricity sold to the grid. At this point in time, the employees in these mills are engaged in activities principally motivated by the production of a renewable energy product. Employment in these mills, in the period outside the sugar cane crushing season, is thus treated in this publication as employment in renewable energy activities.

Geothermal

16 At present, employment in geothermal power activities relates to the development of geothermal energy infrastructure i.e. site preparation, system design, drilling, system installation, related transport activity, project management and administration. Australia's geothermal energy operations remain essentially exploratory exercises with only limited operational capacity developed to date.

17 Academic research into geothermal energy is concentrated into dedicated centres located within Australian universities. Employees engaged in these activities have been assigned to the category 'government and NPIs'.

Wave

18 The use of ocean waves, tides or current to generate energy is currently at early production stages within Australia. Renewable energy activities relevant to estimates of direct employment in wave energy include the design, construction and operation and maintenance of wave energy infrastructure.

19 Employment in this area is small and there is very little publicly available data on employment in wave energy activity in Australia. As a result it was decided to omit estimates of annual direct FTE employment in wave energy activities.

Government and non-profit institutions (NPIs)

20 The scope of this publication includes activities undertaken by employees of government agencies and NPIs to support the operation of renewable energy systems, for example, administration, legal, policy or advocacy. Therefore, employment in regulatory bodies such as the Clean Energy Regulator is in scope. Some government agencies and NPIs provide support that is critical to the go-ahead of many renewable energy projects and the employees of these units are also considered to be renewable energy employees. Examples of the latter include the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and ARENA. Employees engaged in renewable energy advocacy are also included, for example, employees of peak bodies in various renewable energy sectors.


DIRECT / INDIRECT EMPLOYMENT IN RENEWABLE ENERGY ACTIVITIES

21 International statistical standards do not define direct and indirect employment; however, the concepts are straightforward for standard industries. For example, direct employment in the mining industry refers to jobs created by the actions of units predominantly engaged in mining activity.

22 The concept becomes less straightforward in the context of non-standard industries, or for specific projects. For example, no 'Tourism' industry exists within standard industry statistics produced by official statisticians. Tourism is defined in terms of the consumer of the product such that, for example, some consumers of accommodation services are engaged in tourism activity and some are not. Thus, it is difficult to determine where 'tourism' employment starts and finishes. In the case of tourism, the direct effect relates solely to the immediate effect of expenditure made by visitors. For example, when a tourist uses a taxi service, the direct employment effect includes the proportion of the driver's employment that is spent driving tourists. The indirect effects on employment would include employees hired by the petrol stations, garages and food outlets needed to provide the taxi driver with petrol, motor servicing and meals while on duty. Renewable energy activity, like tourism, does not constitute a standard industry within industrial classifications.

23 Direct employment in renewable energy activities is employment directly related to the production of renewable energy, and/or by the design, construction and/or maintenance of renewable energy infrastructure. The section above 'Scope of renewable energy activities' describes the specific activity inclusions for each type of renewable energy. For example, an installer of roof-top solar PV will undertake a range of activities to design and install this infrastructure. That is, direct employment relates to such activities as site preparation; roof modifications; electrical preparations (e.g. powerboard upgrade and/or meter replacement); installation of racking, solar panels and inverter; and testing and certification. It includes any subsequent call-out for repairs and maintenance, and also retail activities and project management. Indirect employment comprises all people who work in the production of intermediate inputs related to installing, operating and maintaining renewable energy infrastructure. It arises from such things as general supplies used in the installation process (e.g. wiring, conduit, replacement roof tiles), servicing of transport equipment, meals consumed on the job and so on. If the installer of roof-top solar PV does general electrical work such as replacing powerpoints or light fittings, this is not employment in renewable energy activities (of either a direct or indirect kind).


ESTIMATION METHODOLOGY

24 Renewable energy is not readily discernible from the standard product and industry classifications used within official statistical series. For example, within the 2006 edition of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0), renewable energy is separately identified within Class 2612 Hydro-Electricity Generation, but no other renewable energy activity is separately identified in this way. Units whose predominant activity is to generate electricity from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal or wave energy are not separately identified but are recorded together within ANZSIC Class 2619 Other Electricity Generation. In cases where renewable energy is not the predominant activity of the producing unit, for example, the use of black liquor by some paper manufacturers, standard industry statistics will instead record economic activity against the predominant activity of the unit. The installation of renewable energy infrastructure is an important example of ANZSIC treating activity not as part of a renewable energy industry but instead as construction activity or as professional, scientific and technical services. The cross-cutting nature of renewable energy means that, while renewable energy activity is in scope of the national accounting framework, it is captured in a way that does not support its full and separate identification.

25 National statistical agencies do not typically conduct surveys on renewable energy activities. In producing the experimental estimates contained in this publication the ABS has used three broad approaches. These approaches are as follows:
  • Accessing publicly available information such as company annual reports, information provided on company websites, industry association reports and data drawn from the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) Registry maintained by the Clean Energy Regulator.
  • Making use of the employment factor approach (discussed below).
  • Using employment numbers provided directly by the institutional unit.

Employment factor approach

26 The employment factor approach has been used to estimate employment in renewable energy activities by type of renewable energy. It utilises information on installed capacities of renewable energy infrastructure (i.e. how much renewable energy is produced by renewable energy infrastructure), numbers of installations and employment factors. Employment factors indicate the number of annual direct full time jobs created per physical unit of choice, for example, numbers of annual FTE employees created per megawatt (MW) of installed capacity of wind power. It is an estimation technique that has been used internationally to generate employment numbers associated with renewable energy activities.

27 The critical element of this methodology is the employment factor itself and this has been estimated on the basis of specific case studies, industry surveys, feasibility studies and technical literature specifications related to renewable energy operations.

28 The employment factors used in this publication make use of an international summary of factors published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Renewable Energy and Jobs (2016), augmented by a number of Australian studies. The actual employment factors used within this publication are described in the section immediately below, against the relevant categories of renewable energy.

29 Employment factors vary significantly over time and from country to country and must be interpreted and used with caution. They reflect different employment functions inherent within different countries, leading to significant variation in employment numbers per unit of installed capacity of renewable energy. For example, the lower price of labour in developing countries often results in significantly more FTE employment per MW of installed capacity than is the case for high labour cost developed countries. Employment functions would be expected to change over time, sometimes quite rapidly, as technological improvements are achieved in renewable energy equipment and as the technical expertise of designers, managers and installers grows.


ESTIMATION METHODOLOGY, BY TYPE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY

Solar - Roof-top PV

30 The employment factor approach was used to estimate annual direct FTE employment associated with roof-top solar PV power.

31 The Clean Energy Regulator reports information on installed capacity of roof-top solar PV infrastructure in Australia. The number of installations is typically used for the calculation of employment estimates using the employment factor approach.

32 A number of countries have developed estimates of employment related to the installation of roof-top solar PV by using employment factors expressed per MW of installed capacity of solar PV (IRENA, 2013). These data were compared to data yielded by recent Australian case studies which show significantly lower levels of employment per MW of installed capacity than typically reported overseas. There are a number of reasons for these differences. In the first instance, the Australian figures assume that no domestic employment arises from the manufacturing of solar components (panels, inverters, racking etc.) and this assumption does not hold true for some other countries. A second more critical factor is the age of many of the international estimates. Given the dramatic recent decline in the price of roof-top solar PV components, it has become more affordable to install larger systems. With the recent growth in the average size of roof top solar PV systems installed, annual employment per MW of installed capacity has also fallen greatly.

33 On the basis of case study investigations the ABS has determined that in using the employment factor approach, the more meaningful physical variable is employment per roof-top solar PV system installed, rather than per MW of installed capacity of roof-top solar PV. Larger roof-top solar PV systems have more solar panels and more racking and their installation therefore requires somewhat more labour. However, the majority of tasks making up a roof-top solar PV system installation take equally long to complete for a small system as for a large one. For example, time spent on sales activity; project management; processing of renewable energy certificates (RECs); transport to and from the work site; roof preparation; installation of inverter; upgrade of powerboard; replacement of electricity meter and regulatory checks; are either completely or largely independent of the size of the roof-top solar PV system installed.

34 The average size of a roof-top solar PV system installed in Australia increased substantially between 2009-10 and 2015-16. The estimation methodology used by the ABS recognises that roof-top solar PV systems are now larger and therefore take longer to install. Equally, it is recognised that over this brief time series efficiency gains have been made in the installation of roof-top solar PV systems.

35 The ABS case study findings focussed specifically on the labour required at the work site to install roof-top solar PV infrastructure. To this is added employment associated with various 'business process costs' (e.g. sales, planning and administration costs) needed for the installation of roof-top solar PV. The scaling up of employment factors to include these 'business processes' has been carried out using figures sourced from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA 2012, p20) and from discussions with experts on the operation of the Australian solar power industry.

Solar - Hot water system

36 The employment factor approach was used to estimate annual FTE employment associated with the installation and servicing of solar hot water systems.

37 Estimates of the number of solar hot water systems installed, both cumulatively and for individual years, is based on data from the Clean Energy Regulator. The employment factor is based on case study information and on publicly available information and is expressed as hours worked per installation of solar hot water system. The factor used considers employment activities related to the installation of solar hot water systems and to the manufacture of such units within Australia. Note that installations made to an existing home will take longer than an installation to a new dwelling and that the employment factor also considers ongoing servicing of solar hot water systems.

Solar - Large scale

38 The employment factor approach was used to estimate annual FTE employment associated with large scale solar power.

39 Limited information is available internationally on employment factors per MW of installed capacity of large scale solar power. This may be explained by the fact that, until recently, large scale solar struggled to compete on cost grounds with other forms of renewable energy, particularly wind. Instead, international data on employment per MW of installed capacity was more likely to pertain to the installation of roof top solar PV and other applications of solar power. As is the case for wind power, most of the data available internationally on employment per MW of installed capacity of solar power appear considerably higher than could be justified for the Australian context.

40 Several large scale solar power operations have recently been either proposed or completed in Australia. Typically the owners have established public websites providing extensive information on the scale and nature of these operations, including details on employment. By using a combination of this publicly available information, assumptions about the relationship between jobs and annual FTE employment, and by incorporating an element of employment related to the planning and development of the solar farm, it has been possible to derive an employment factor expressed as annual FTE employment per MW of installed capacity of large scale solar power.

41 The employment factor used by the ABS for large scale solar power is at the lower end of the spectrum of international observations. However, it is comparable to the estimate generated by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (September, 2012).

42 Large scale solar encompasses a wide range of operations, from 40kW capacity roof-top solar systems to solar farms with upwards of 100 MW of capacity. It has been found that, in practice, employment per MW of installed capacity does not vary significantly between roof-top solar PV and large scale solar farms.

Wind

43 The employment factor approach has been used to estimate annual direct FTE employment for wind power.

44 A list of relevant businesses engaged in wind power operations was compiled using publicly available information. This list contains data on each wind farm in Australia, including: state/territory; start/finish date of construction activity; and installed capacity of the wind farm. Employment factors were generated for: direct FTE annual employment related to construction activity; and direct FTE annual employment related to ongoing operation and maintenance of the wind farm. The employment factors were determined based on various Australian studies, taking into account information publicly released by a number of companies installing wind power in Australia, and after consideration of published results from around the world.

45 The employment factors used in this publication were selected after confrontation with other available data, in particular, after comparison with information publicly released by a number of Australian companies delivering and operating renewable energy projects. Official company reports and website information on renewable energy projects frequently set out expected and actual employment levels related to these projects, as well as project start and finish dates and installed capacity in MW. These figures were used to derive observed estimates of employment factors for specific projects and to help determine which employment factors were the most appropriate to Australian operations for the period in question. The employment factors used for wind power in this publication are at the lower end of the range of factors published internationally.

46 A high priority was placed on obtaining recent observations because the recent rapid increase in size of wind turbines and blades impacts directly on per-MW employment factors. In addition, Australia's status as a high wage cost country necessarily restricts useful comparisons to employment factors from similarly high wage cost countries i.e. where greater pressure exists to maintain the minimum workforce necessary to complete the task. Employment factors used in many overseas studies include a large manufacturing component but for Australia the amount of employment related to manufacturing of renewable energy equipment is much less. This is further justification for use of employment factors that are at the lower end of the spectrum of international data. Finally, employment factors used for wind power in this publication do not consider employment related to decommissioning or refurbishment of renewable energy infrastructure, primarily because most of Australia's renewable energy infrastructure is relatively young and very few wind power operations have ended their productive life.

Hydro

47 The estimation process used a list of Australia's active hydropower sites compiled from a range of sources available from public websites.

48 In Australia, hydropower operations are typically carried out by large enterprises predominantly engaged in the provision of hydropower. For these enterprises, employment data were taken from publicly available annual reports and from other information publicly available on related websites. However, there are also enterprises that predominantly rely on power from a range of sources that include hydropower operations as part of their energy mix. For these enterprises, employment data were mainly obtained from information publicly available from their websites. In some cases, however, employment numbers could not be retrieved from websites and were instead supplied directly from the enterprise, or estimated based on the installed hydropower capacity of the operations.

49 For two hydropower operators the ABS has adjusted information taken from publicly available sources. These adjustments are explained below.

50 The Hydro Tasmania 2016 Annual Report presents employee numbers by calendar year, up to 2016. An estimate of Hydro Tasmania employees engaged in wind farm activities has been deducted from this total. This adjusted calendar year series has been converted to a June 30 financial year basis using the average of adjoining calendar year estimates.

51 An adjustment was also applied to employment data released in respect of 2012-13 by Snowy Hydro Limited on its company website. In order to extrapolate beyond 2012-13 to 2014-15, an indicator was built to approximate movements in FTE employees of Snowy Hydro. The indicator is 'Employee Benefits Expense' taken from annual reports of Snowy Hydro, divided by average hourly cash earnings of full-time non-managerial adult employees of the Electricity supply industry, sourced from the ABS publication Average Weekly Earnings, Australia (cat. no. 6302.0). For 2015-16, the 2014-15 estimates have been extrapolated.

Biomass

52 Estimates of annual FTE employment in energy from biomass are derived in three ways: by using publicly available employment estimates, by using the employment factor approach and by sourcing FTE estimates directly from biomass producers.

53 Four distinct sets of estimates make up employment in energy derived from biomass: bagasse, bio ethanol, bio diesel and landfill gas. Employment related to the use of bagasse is estimated using publicly available information on the export of electricity to the grid by sugar mills and on the numbers of employees of such mills. For bio ethanol and bio diesel production, employment data are obtained substantially from publicly available information. In some cases, employment has been estimated based on the installed capacity of the plant, given knowledge of employment numbers for similar sized operations.

54 Employment in landfill gas includes both design/installation of landfill gas infrastructure and ongoing operation and maintenance of this infrastructure. Publicly available information provided estimates of employment in the design and installation of landfill gas infrastructure. A number of landfill gas operators have placed information on public websites regarding employment numbers and installed energy capacity. From these observations, an employment factor was derived and used for small landfill energy operations in Australia.

Geothermal

55 Employment in geothermal operations in Australia is primarily concerned with exploration and development activity. Estimates of annual direct FTE employment in energy derived from geothermal energy were derived from publicly available employment estimates.

56 A register of the limited geothermal power operations in Australia was created using information contained in Australian Energy Resource Assessment (footnote 1). (Department of Industry, Geoscience Australia and Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics). For these operations, estimates of employment were based on publicly available web-based sources.

Government and Non-profit Institutions (NPIs)

57 Government agencies and NPIs generally freely provide good web-based information on their operations, including employee numbers. This was the principal source used for estimation of annual direct FTE employment in renewable energy activities within government and NPI units. Where information could not be sourced from publically available sources, employment numbers were supplied by the agency or NPI.

58 The estimates published here are likely to understate the true levels of renewable energy employment within government and NPIs. It is likely that a significant number of these entities employ numbers of people engaged in work directly related to renewable energy, for example, local council employees that develop and administer guidelines related to roof top solar systems, or employees of state government agencies that manage environmental aspects of wind farm proposals. This publication includes employment data where publicly available government information identifies an entire agency or an entire program engaged in renewable energy activities.

59 A number of universities, often in partnership with outside entities, undertake research and development related to renewable energy. Employment in these types of activities is included in this publication, for example, employment in developing understanding and design of geothermal operations. However, care has been taken to exclude employees engaged in energy efficiency developments, or in research related to institutional and/or economic aspects of renewable energy. Persons engaged in renewable energy activities under Doctoral or Visiting arrangements are also excluded from these estimates of FTE employment. Care has been taken not to double-count employees where university departments are working in partnership with industry.

60 A number of government and NPI employees are engaged in climate change related work, for example, through policy development, advice, training and inter-disciplinary collaboration. Although renewable energy is a central consideration of climate change policy, these employees are not specifically engaged in renewable energy activities and they have been excluded from the estimates contained in this publication.


KEY POLICY INFLUENCES ON RENEWABLE ENERGY EMPLOYMENT

61 Levels of employment in renewable energy activities are influenced by a number of government policies, including taxes, subsidies and pricing policies. Policies to enable the achievement of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) have an important influence on the uptake of all types of renewable energy and therefore on employment in renewable energy activities. The RET is comprised of the Large Renewable Energy Target (LRET) and the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES). Any uncertainty over the future of the RET, or over the size of the renewable power percentage, is likely to affect decisions on investment in renewable energy infrastructure.

62 The feed-in tariff (FiT) is another important influence on employment in roof-top solar PV activities. A FiT is a pricing arrangement under which an electricity supplier pays a customer for electricity that is generated by a solar PV system owned by the customer and exported (i.e. ‘fed-in’) to the grid. The FiT varies significantly over the time series presented in this publication, and between states and territories. During 2009-10 and 2010-11, the FiT paid to customers in most states and territories was higher than the normal wholesale cost of electricity generation, and sometimes in excess of the retail price of electricity. Commencing from 2011-12 significant reductions in FiT prices were introduced in the majority of states and territories. These reductions coincide with falls in new installations of roof-top solar PV systems and in associated employment.

63 The amount of the FiT and its conditions of operation varies over the published time series and from state to state. One important condition of the FiT is whether it is paid on a gross or net basis. A gross FiT applies to the full amount of electricity produced by the customer while net FiT applies only to the excess of the customer's production over their consumption.

64 The following paragraphs summarise the operation of FiT arrangements within each state and territory over the time series of this publication.

65 The New South Wales (NSW) Solar Bonus Scheme introduced a gross FiT for energy generated from a roof-top solar PV system of less than 10 kW in capacity. This scheme commenced on 1 January 2010 with a FiT of 60 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). In October 2010, this gross FiT was reduced to 20 cents per kWh and in April 2011 the Solar Bonus Scheme was closed to new applicants. Since April 2011 NSW has not mandated a minimum FiT. Instead, the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) have made a benchmark assessment each year since 2011-12 of the value of electricity provided by electricity customers back to the electricity retailer. However, retailers in NSW are free to set their own FiT and need not observe IPART's published benchmark range. IPART's benchmark range for the FiT was 8 to 10 cents per kWh in 2011-12, 7.7 to 12.9 cents per kWh in 2012-13, 6.6 to 11.2 cents per kWh in 2013-14 and 4.9 to 9.3 cents per kWh in 2014-15. In June 2016, IPART set the benchmark between 5.5 to 7.2 cents per kWh. The Solar Bonus Scheme in NSW ended on 31 December, 2016.

66 Victoria commenced a Premium Feed-in Tariff late in 2009, which offered 60 cents per kWh on a net feed-in basis, for systems of up to a 5 kW capacity. This scheme was closed to new applicants at the end of 2011 and was replaced by two schemes: the Standard Feed-in Tariff scheme and the Transitional Feed-in Tariff scheme. The former scheme applied to systems of up to 100 kW in capacity and offered a one-for-one rate matching the current retail price of electricity. The transitional scheme offered a minimum of 25 cents per kWh net FiT and applied only to schemes of up to 5 kW in capacity. The Standard Feed-in Tariff and Transitional Feed-in Tariff schemes were closed to new applicants on 31 December 2012.

67 The current Victorian FiT scheme commenced on 1 January 2013 and applies to eligible renewable energy systems of less than a 100 kW capacity. It provides for a minimum net FiT as determined by the Victorian Essential Services Commission (ESC). This minimum FiT was set at 8 cents per kWh for 2013 and 2014. For 2015, the minimum FiT is 6.2 cents per kWh. From 1 January 2016, the minimum rate of 5 cents per kWh was applied to new applicants.

68 The Queensland government commenced a Solar Bonus Scheme in 2008 that paid 44 cents per kWh on a net FiT to customers with a roof-top solar PV system of less than a 5 kW capacity. This scheme was closed to new applicants on 9 July 2012 and different FiT rates are now available from different electricity retailers in South East Queensland. For regional Queensland, a minimum FiT is mandated and has been set at 6.3 cents per kWh from 1 July 2015.

69 South Australia commenced a net FiT scheme in July 2008 that paid 44 cents per kWh and was open to customers consuming less than 160 mWh per annum. A reduced net FiT of 16 cents per kWh was introduced on 30 September 2011. Commencing from 1 January 2013, the FiT is determined by the Essential Services Commission of South Australia and was set at 6 cents per kWh until 31 December 2014, at which point the rate fell to 5.3 cents per kWh. In 2016 the minimum retailer payment was 6.8 cents per kWh.

70 Western Australia started a FiT scheme on 1 July 2010 under the renewable energy buy-back scheme. Under this net FiT arrangement the state government contributed 40 cents per kWh and a further 7 cents per kWh was paid by the customer's electricity retailer. This scheme was closed to new applicants on 1 August 2011. The FiT is now determined by the Western Australian electricity retailers who offer a different FiT for different customers based primarily on their location.

71 Tasmania operates a net FiT scheme which commenced with a FiT of 27.8 cents per kWh. This scheme was closed to new applicants on 1 September 2013. For renewable energy systems installed between 1 September and 31 December 2013 a transitional FiT of 8.3 cents per kWh applied. From 1 January 2014, the FiT is determined by the Tasmanian Energy Regulator and was set at 5.56 cents per kWh for the period 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015. This minimum rate was revised to 5.5 cents per kWh for the period 1 July 2015 to 20 June 2016.

72 The Northern Territory operates a gross FiT arrangement. This means that the electricity generated by a solar installation system is sold back to the electricity retailer for the same price the household or business purchase it for. It also means that all of the electricity generated by the solar installation is purchased by the electricity retailer; this includes the electricity generated and then used by the household/business and the excess electricity fed back into the grid. The FiT has been relatively stable within the Northern Territory for the time series contained in this publication.

73 The ACT maintains a gross FiT scheme. The scheme commenced on 1 March 2009 and initially offered a FiT of 50 cents per kWh for systems with a capacity of up to 10 kW and 40 cents per kWh for systems larger than 10 kW up to 30 kWs. For systems installed between 1 July 2010 and 31 May 2011 and with a capacity of up to 30 kW the applicable FiT is 45.7 cents per kWh. As of 14 July 2011 the ACT ceased to regulate FiT rates for roof-top solar PV systems and rates are determined by the electricity retailers operating in the territory. In 2016, the FiT offered by electricity retailers in the ACT varies between 6 cents and 7.5 cents per kWh.

74 Local government policies also have the potential to influence employment in renewable energy activities. For example, both Hobart City Council and Brisbane City Council have offered rebates on the installation of new solar hot water systems. The ACT Energy Wise Program offered rebates to homeowners and tenants undertaking energy saving improvements to their residence, including the installation of solar hot water systems. Some councils have offered interest-free finance to install roof-top solar PV systems, for example, Darebin City Council offered such a scheme to eligible pensioners.

75 The net effect of the interaction of federal, state/territory and local government policies on renewable energy and related employment thus varies by location and over time.

Footnote 1. Carson, L., 2014. Australian Energy Resource Assessment - Second Edition. 2 ed. Report. Geoscience Australia, Canberra. <back