Renewable sector loses almost 2500 jobs in two years

renewables jobs, clean energy

The Abbott Government’s impasse on renewable energy has seen more than 2000 jobs in the industry disappear in the last two years, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Job numbers in the sector peaked between 2011 and 2012 at 14,890, but fell by 15 per cent to 12,590 between 2013 and 2014 – a loss of around 2300 jobs.

Uncertainty surrounding the future of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) hit the sector hard, with industry groups claiming investment in clean technology has virtually stalled, according to ABC News.

Major political parties are currently locked in a standoff over how much to cut the RET by, with the Government rejecting a proposal backed by Labor and the Clean Energy Council for a 33,500GWh hour target. The current target was legislated at 41,000GWh hours, which, with demand for power falling, was likely to represent more than 20 per cent of Australia’s energy mix by 2020.

The government said it refused to accept anything above 32,000GWh.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ first report into renewable energy employment highlighted how government policies influence job levels in the sector via taxes, subsidies and pricing policies.

“Uncertainty over the future of the RET, or over the size of the renewable power percentage, is likely to have a flow on effect on future investment in renewable energy infrastructure,” the report said.

“Since 2011-12 all mainland Australian states have experienced a decline in annual direct [full time equivalent] employment in renewable energy activities.”

Western Australia has been one of the hardest hit, with the loss of more than 900 jobs, 760 or them in the solar industry.

Currently, the ABS said there are 12,590 employees working at wind farms, solar panel manufacturers and hydropower plants.

While there has been a sharp fall in the last two years, employment in the sector is still up 44 per cent since
2009-10 on a national basis.