To greener

Job num­bers will sky­rocket in the re­new­able en­ergy in­dus­try, no mat­ter who is in power, Ben Pike re­veals

The Advertiser - Careers - - Front Page -

THE cli­mate is right for fur­ther jobs growth in the re­new­able en­ergy sec­tor as both sides of pol­i­tics get be­hind green power.

Jobs in re­new­able en­ergy have a brighter fu­ture com­pared to those in brown coal, com­mer­cial elec­tric­ity op­er­a­tion and other power gen­er­a­tion pol­luters be­cause of a $24.24 a tonne car­bon tax.

There are 24,000 peo­ple now em­ployed in re­new­able en­ergy and that num­ber is ex­pected to grow by a fur­ther 33,000 by 2030, Cli­mate In­sti­tute pro­jec­tions show.

Clean En­ergy Coun­cil pol­icy di­rec­tor Rus­sell Marsh says be­cause both sides of par­lia­ment are com­mit­ted, at this stage, to a 5 per cent re­duc­tion in emis­sions be­low 2000 lev­els by 2020, em­ploy­ment in re­new­able en­ergy will con­tinue to grow.

‘‘ The Coali­tion is say­ing they want to do a re­view of the Clean En­ergy Tar­get next year but they are still very sup­port­ive of the in­dus­try and we ex­pect to see the in­dus­try grow un­der a Coali­tion govern­ment,’’ he says.

‘‘ The Coali­tion have a spe­cific pro­gram called the One Mil­lion Roofs So­lar Pro­gram. They do sup­port the de­ploy­ment of re­new­ables gen­er­ally.’’

So­lar en­ergy is by far the big­gest em­ployer in the clean sec­tor, with more than 16,000 jobs spread across ru­ral, re­gional and city ar­eas.

Most of those jobs are in small-scale in­stal­la­tions on the roofs of home­own­ers. There are 5000 ac­cred­ited so­lar in­stall­ers na­tion­wide.

‘‘ There has been record years for the amount of PV (so­lar) that has been de­ployed – which is mostly on rooftops around Aus­tralia,’’ Marsh says.

‘‘ Growth in in­stal­la­tions has driven growth in em­ploy­ment. Very lit­tle is due to the car­bon price.

‘‘ It’s pretty much all driven fed­eral and state sup­port for re­new­able en­ergy. At the fed­eral level you’ve got the re­new­able en­ergy tar­get and then nu­mer­ous state-based schemes to sup­port so­lar.’’

The car­bon tax has been in force for just more than a year and is a pol­icy aimed at 300 of the coun­try’s big­gest pol­lut­ing com­pa­nies but there ap­pears to have been lit­tle di­rect im­pact on over­all em­ploy­ment num­bers. The Fed­eral Govern­ment is hop­ing the car­bon tax will drive in­no­va­tion in clean en­ergy as big pol­luters look for ways to avoid pay­ing more for their emis­sions. Em­ploy­ment in elec­tric­ity (brown coal), gas dis­tri­bu­tion, com­mer­cial elec­tric­ity and brown coal is pre­dicted to shrink by an aver­age of 22 per cent by 2015 as a re­sult of a $23 a tonne car­bon tax, Univer­sity of New Eng­land fig­ures show.

Jobs in re­new­able en­ergy are pre­dicted to grow 67 per cent, how­ever, along with an aver­age of 23 per cent growth in elec­tric­ity that is cre­ated through ei­ther oil or gas.

The Govern­ment is also in­vest­ing $32 mil­lion in the Clean En­ergy and Other Skills pro­gram.

The pro­gram is aimed at im­prov­ing train­ing for peo­ple in ‘‘ elec­trocomms’’ (elec­tri­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tions) as well as fa­cil­ity man­agers, engi­neers and fi­nan­cial man­agers.

It aims to ad­dress a sig­nif­i­cant lack of train­ing op­tions for those look­ing to get into the clean en­ergy sec­tor.

The num­ber of peo­ple seek­ing train­ing in re­new­able en­ergy tech­nol­ogy will re­quire an in­crease in stu­dent places of about 300 per cent more than cur­rent lev­els, EcoGen­er­a­tion fig­ures show.

Many clean en­ergy com­pa­nies, such as wind farm op­er­a­tors, take gen­eral en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ates and train them with spe­cialised skills.

Marsh says there is a host of op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to work in the in­dus­try, in and out of the of­fice.

‘‘ We’re go­ing to need more of th­ese re­new­able en­ergy tech­nolo­gies go­ing for­ward and we need en­gi­neer­ing pro­fes­sion­als who can de­sign and build small and large-scale re­new­able en­ergy projects,’’ he says. ‘‘ With house­hold so­lar we need elec­tri­cal trades­peo­ple who are able to in­stall them. There is that de­mand from house­holds.

‘‘ On the other side, we need ac­coun­tants, lawyers, HR pro­fes­sion­als and ad­min­is­tra­tive peo­ple. They are needed in the process of de­vel­op­ing re­new­able en­ergy projects.’’

Marsh adds that dur­ing the con­struc­tion phase of build­ing a wind farm, for ex­am­ple, there are ba­sic con­struc­tion and en­gi­neer­ing peo­ple re­quired.

Wind farm tech­nol­ogy also is ex­pected to be the most sus­tain­able in terms of Aus­tralian jobs, re­gard­less of which party is in power fed­er­ally.

Cap­i­tal So­lar di­rec­tor Mark Hol­lis em­ploys in­stal­la­tion and ser­vice tech­ni­cians such as sub-con­trac­tor Michael Pimm (pic­tured on cover).

Hol­lis says busi­ness has been good for them but other op­er­a­tors have had trou­ble ad­just­ing to a mar­ket that is con­stantly evolv­ing. ‘‘ The (govern­ment) in­cen­tives to be­gin with were quite gen­er­ous and cer­tainly helped in­crease the de­mand and aware­ness of so­lar in the com­mu­nity,’’ he says.

‘‘ Un­for­tu­nately the in­cen­tives have been a bit of a roller coaster ride and we are cer­tainly hop­ing that they can pro­vide a fair sys­tem to the com­mu­nity.’’

He says there is plenty of work for in­di­vid­u­als who are pas­sion­ate about re­new­ables.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.