Monday , January 25 2021

Jump into jobs for renewable energy, as solar farms overtake hydropower

Solar photovoltaics on the roof continue to be the backbone of the industry's jobs, making it only timid of half of them. Its share has dropped from a top 74 percent in direct jobs for renewable industry in the period 2011-2012 – because panel installations are breaking records almost monthly – while solar farms have grown even faster.


The publication of job numbers comes as one of the country's largest banks, Westpac, said on Wednesday that it would generate its entire electricity from renewable energy by 2025.

The bank's announcement included a 10-year plan to purchase one-quarter of the production of the Bomen solar farm near Wagga Wagga. The construction of a 120 MW plant should begin in this quarter with power – enough to meet the needs of about 36,000 homes – to be delivered in about a year.

Gary Thursby, chief operating officer of the bank, said Westpac has long acknowledged that climate change "is one of the most important issues posed to affect the long-term prosperity of our
economy and way of life ".

The redundant cost of renewable energy sources provided a "great opportunity" for switching from fossil fuels in an "economical way," he said in a statement.

The work on a solar farm increased from 930 in 2016-17 to 2880 last year, at the peak of hydroelectric jobs in 2020, and 1890 employees in the development of the wind farm, ABS said. The Solar jump last year made almost half of the additional jobs in the sector.

A wind farm near Ararat in western Victoria. Growth in large renewable energy sources provided Victoria with a large leap in jobs.

A wind farm near Ararat in western Victoria. Growth in large renewable energy sources provided Victoria with a large leap in jobs.Credit:Ararat wind farm

All states reported an increase in jobs, with Victoria's employment in the sector increasing at most in percentages, to 47 percent or 1020 additional jobs.

Queensland saw the next largest increase in proportional terms, an increase of 44 percent or 1550 jobs, while New South Wales added 950 jobs, up 27 percent last year.

According to ABS, about one in four homes are considered suitable for solar PV they have.

Queensland leads the way with 36 percent, close to 34 percent of South Australia.

The data collected from the Green Energy Markets show that the industry's growth is accelerated, because the figures for ABS for the year that lasted in June.

Rooftop's solar PV installations rose to a record 480MW only in the fourth quarter of March, almost half of that in the previous period.

Also, more than 8,000 MW are being built out of the new large solar and wind power facilities, which provided 8,123 jobs at the end of March, consultancy said.

Peter Hanam writes about environmental issues for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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