Question

Legislative Council

QUESTION: Investment in Solar Energy

May 9th, 2018

On the 9th May 2018, Marked asked the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment a question about investment in solar energy.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: According to recent figures released by solar industry statistician SunWiz, the South Australian rooftop solar market fell by more than one-third in April from 16 megawatts to 10.8 megawatts, with some solar retailers suffering big falls in orders and installations. According to respected energy industry analyst Giles Parkinson, writing today in the online newsletter One Step Off the Grid, quote:

The South Australian solar market has suffered a dramatic downturn since the state poll in mid-March, with analysts and solar retailers blaming the policy uncertainty since the election of the Steve Marshall-led Liberal government.

The director of SunWiz, Warwick Johnston said:

We are hearing reports of sales volumes dropping considerably as people wait for the new South Australian government's solar and storage policy to be implemented.

According to Giles Parkinson:

…confusion over the new government's intentions have hit the market since Marshall said a day after the poll that he had no interest in pursuing the 260MW virtual power plant proposed by Tesla, which would provide solar and storage to 50,000 low income households.

He also notes in his article that government officials admitted that it was likely that consumers were holding fire while waiting to see the contents of the new policy, and on battery storage in particular. That may come in May. My question of the Minister for Investment is: when will the government provide certainty to the thousands of South Australians who work in the renewable energy sector and the thousands more who want to invest in clean energy and storage for their homes and businesses?

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment): I thank the honourable member for his question. I know he has had a longstanding interest in renewable energy, as he and I have been on a number of committees over the years. There is a range of factors being taken into consideration at the moment, but all of those are a matter for the Minister for Energy and Mining. For specific details, I will take that question on notice and bring back a reply to the honourable member.

Reply provided on 6th June 2018

The Hon David Ridgway MLC:
"I have been advised that:

There is continued strong investment in renewable energy in South Australia, and the Government does not accept the contention raised in the question. The government is undertaking detailed design of our $100 million election commitment to deliver 40,000 home batteries. This will provide enormous benefits to South Australian households, the grid, and the renewable energy sector.

I can confirm that the government will honour all contracts in relation to the Tesla virtual power plant. This includes the trial phases of the virtual power plant which will install home energy systems on 1,100 South Australian Housing Trust homes between now and July 2019. The program is proceeding as planned. Phase three of the program would see a further 24,000 home energy systems installed on South Australian Housing Trust homes, as well as an additional 25,000 systems on private residences, and requires Tesla to secure private finance for the proposal."

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