Hundreds of environmental jobs to go as solar water rebate is axed

Posted on Mar 01, 2012 01:52 PM |

Hundreds of environmental jobs to go as solar water rebate is axed

Hundreds of environmental jobs manufacturing and installing solar hot-water systems will disappear

The highly successful scheme to encourage households to install solar hot water systems was scrapped without warning on Tuesday, after the Gillard government decided it was too expensive.

The scheme, which had been running for five years, offered householders up to $1000 in rebates for purchasing a solar hot water system and $600 for buying a heat pump. More than 250,000 households have taken advantage of the incentive.

Solar hot water systems reduce greenhouse emissions by significantly reducing the energy used in households to heat water. They've been found to be one of the cheapest ways to reduce household emissions - the average system would reduce a family's emissions by about 3 tonnes, and save 80% of their energy costs for heating water.

While the government had previously announced that the scheme would end in June this year, at 5pm on Tuesday, they suddenly pulled the plug.

Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change Mark Dreyfus defended the short-sighted move by saying "As a Government of course we need to be fiscally responsible with taxpayers' dollars."

But the decision puts at risk hundreds of environmental jobs in manufacturing and installing the low-tech but highly effective products.

Gareth Jennings from solar hot-water manufacturer Rheem, said he was "shocked" at the abrupt end to the scheme.

"We just don't think now is the time to be withdrawing one of the few pieces of support that's still there to help establish a renewable energy industry" he said.

Jennings said that up to 400 of Rheem's 1200 staff worked in manufacturing solar hot-water systems.

"We've got to work out what we are going to do with these people tomorrow," he said. "With this we could see the market halve overnight - we will be back to being a cottage industry. All of that means jobs."

Hundreds more environmental jobs in installing the systems will also disappear in coming weeks.

Here at we can't believe the government could be so short-sighted as to be removing some of the most efficient methods of cutting greenhouse emissions, and destroying jobs in green manufacturing and trades just at the time when these jobs are beginning to be in greatest demand.