The Age – news story on Save Solar Systems

30 11 2009

Save Solar Systems was featured in a story in yesterday’s Sunday Age (29 November).

Chris Breen and David Turner from the campaign were quoted in the following exerpt:

”Save Solar Systems” campaign spokesman Chris Breen said organisers wanted the Government to immediately intervene to guarantee that the company’s Abbotsford factory would remain open, the redundant workers reinstated and the solar power plant built.

”We want the Government to step in and do whatever it takes to make the Mildura solar power plant happen,” Mr Breen said.

”If Solar Systems folds, no other company in Australia currently has the technological capability to build the plant. If we don’t get large-scale renewable energy there, then when and where will we get it?”

One sacked worker, Diamond Creek engineer David Turner, is relying on the Government to ensure the plant goes ahead so he can get his job back. ”We knew the company was trying to raise money but we didn’t think the situation was so dire,” he said. ”The point is the technology is here and we just need a bit more willpower to get it over the line.”

The article also mentions our public meeting to be held this Thursday 3 December, from 6:30 pm at Fitzroy Town Hall. This will be the last opportunity to have your say about the future of Solar Systems before the administrators make their decision on what will happen to the company and the 154 MW Mildura power plant.


Next event: Public Meeting

18 11 2009

RSVP on the Facebook event profile here, or join our Facebook group here.

Media release: Hundreds to rally over Government failure to support solar energy as administration deadline for company Solar Systems expires

30 10 2009


Hundreds of people are expected to rally outside the State Parliament building today to demand government assistance to Solar Systems as the company’s administration period comes to a close. Solar Systems was contracted to manufacture solar arrays for Australia’s first large scale solar project, a 154 MW solar power plant proposed for Mildura which would have been capable of powering 45,000 households.

Former Solar Systems employee David Turner said that the barriers to transitioning to a renewable energy future are political – rather than technological.

“Solar Systems is the world’s leading concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) electricity producer, with large scale solar power stations operating in the field since 2003. Engineers have already largely solved the technological problems that large scale solar CPV faces, the Government must now show the foresight to commit the framework that solves the social and economic barriers that renewables contend against in Australia,” he said.

Sana Bau from the Save Solar Systems campaign said that the climate crisis demands investment in renewable technologies.

“The coal industry is set gain billions in taxpayer funded compensation when the CPRS comes into effect. The $125m committed to Solar Systems pales in comparison, yet the Government won’t spare this amount,” she said.

“Australia has the highest per capita emissions in the world. However, Australia could start to redeem its track record by supporting the development of effective, demonstrated technologies. Solar Systems is at the head of its field for renewables.”

Matthew Wright, Beyond Zero Emissions campaigner said that Solar Systems technology is of enormous value to Australia and the world.

“World leading technology from Solar Systems has a demonstrated track record. Australia must take advantage of its home grown technology to help this nation – and the world – transition to a decarbonised energy future,” he said.

Chris Breen from the Save Solar Systems campaign said that renewables are a better solution to climate change than emissions trading.

“Stuff the CPRS, build the Mildura Solar Power plant. It is likely that building the Mildura solar power plant will have more impact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than Labor’s carbon trading legislation,” he said.

He added, “Instead of supporting renewable energy jobs, Victorian energy minister Peter Batchelor now intends to jail climate change protesters for up to two years for trespass onto coal-fired power stations.”

Save Solar Systems rally – story and photo opportunities

Where: In front of Parliament House, Melbourne 3000

When: Friday 30 October 2009, 5:30 pm

Support letter

13 10 2009

Hi, the Save Solar Systems campaign is asking for your support. The company Solar Systems has gone into administration making 100 workers redundant. This has put the construction of the first large scale solar power plant in Australia in doubt. It was to have been a 420 million project, that would have created 1000 jobs in construction and powered 45000 homes.

We are asking that the federal government immediately intervenes to guarantee (i) that the Solar Systems factory in Abbotsford remains open, (ii) that the redundant workers are reinstated and, (iii) that a large scale solar power plant is built in Mildura.

We are asking you or your organisation to:

1 Support the sign-on statement and here.
2 Endorse the third Save Solar Systems rally, 5.30 pm Friday October 30, Parliament House, Bourke St City (we will deliver sign-on statement with signatories)
3 Publicise the rally, by forwarding this email, place the attached poster on your website.
4 Come to the rally, bring banners, union flags or placards.
5 Let us know if you can provide photocopying, a donation, or other resources for the campaign (for unions, can your union place any practical work bans to stop equipment being moved out of the factory in Abbotsford?)
6 Come to organising meetings, every Sunday 1pm, at the Terminus Hotel, 605 Victoria St Abbotsford.

Send all endorsements of the sign-on statement and the rally to – if you wish to be added to our email list, send a request with “please add me to you email list” to the same email address.

For those of you on facebook, check out our group ‘save solar systems kevin!’ & our event ‘save solar systems rally’.

You can see an interview with one of the ex-solar systems employees here.

Chris Breen
on behalf of the Save Solar Systems campaign

Pics from the rally: 1

12 10 2009


David Turner, ex-employee of Solar Systems delivers a speech to an emphatic crowd. He said that Germany currently employs 50 000 workers in solar energy alone, equivalent to four times the total number of people presently employed by the aluminium industry in Australia! Surprising, given that the conditions in Germany are far less optimal for solar power than here in Australia.


Adam Bandt from The Victorian Greens spoke about the consequences of the proposed CPRS – no reduction in emissions as Australia will effectively buy pollution permits from less developed countries to warrant the continuation of business as usual by big coal and polluting industries. He drew a stark contrast between the Government’s rapid assistance to banks and financial service companies due to the global financial crisis and the lack of response to the collapse of Solar Systems during a time of climate crisis. Adam will be contesting Federal Minister for Finance and Deregulation Lindsay Tanner in next year’s election in the only marginal Labor/Greens electorate in the Country.


Images by Sana.

The turn-out was fantastic, reflecting the level of community concern over the closure of Solar Systems. Thanks to everyone that made it happen. The movement depends on the actions of each and every one of us.

More pictures to come…

Media release: Rudd tells UN “to make bold decisions” on climate, while solar shuts at home.

11 10 2009


For immediate release.

Rudd tells UN “to make bold decisions” on climate, while solar shuts at home.

Get Up!, Unions, Green Groups, back fight for Abbotsford solar factory.

The campaign to save Solar Systems is building momentum. Campaign group Get Up! Will launch their Re-energise Australia campaign at the protest – 2pm Sunday October 11 at the Solar Systems factory 45 Grosvenor St, Abbotsford.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union has backed the rally & state secretary Steve Dargavel will speak at it.

The protest is demanding government guarantee the construction of Australia’s first large scale solar power station in Mildura and green jobs in Abbotsford.

Simon Sheik, National Director of Get Up! said “If Australia doesn’t want to be left behind in the renewable resources boom, we must act quickly to build a clean energy economy. That should start with an immediate commitment from the Federal Government to support the reinstatement of those workers who’ve already lost their jobs and funding to secure those still working on this important project”.

Adam Bandt, The Greens’ National Convenor and candidate for Melbourne said “Despite plenty of hype, the Rudd Government has not spent one cent on baseload solar power since its election. While billions of dollars are available to support the banks and their executives in times of crisis, the amazing knowledge and skill of the Solar Systems workers are lost to Melbourne and the factory stands idle. If we can save the banks, why can’t we support projects that are saving the planet?”

Carole Wilkinson from Yarra Climate Action Now said “The government didn’t leave building our coal-fired electricity system to the private sector; if they had it would never have been built. We are facing a climate emergency and the need for an urgent transition to 100% renewable energy has never been greater. The government must lead in this transition, just as they led in the transition to coal-fired electricity a century ago.”

David Turner, ex-Solar Systems worker said “Current and former Solar Systems employees demand all Australian Governments provide consistent, effective and binding direction through policy that enables renewable energy to emerge and curb our dependence on fossil fuels. Feed in tariffs, loan guarantees and the commitment to develop renewable technology and capability provide regulatory framework for investor confidence to flourish. European Governments, the US Government, and most recently the Chinese Government have enacted these mechanisms to their nations’ advantage. Australian Governments must immediately endorse their renewable rhetoric with visionary policy”

Chris Breen from the Save Solar Systems campaign said “While Rudd was strutting the world stage talking about climate change – at home, one of the top solar power factories was being closed and Rudd had nothing to say & nothing to offer. Labor’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is a farce if it allows major investment in coal to continue while renewable energy is shut down. Renewable energy has become an essential service. When the private sector fails, government must step in. If government can build schools, it can and should build solar power stations”


The lamentable state of solar policy in Australia

7 10 2009

This article captures the state of solar energy policy in Australia at present.

Solar sector held back by foggy energy policy, The Australian, 28 September 2009

The following is an excerpt from the article:

Germany now possesses the intellectual property and the manufacturing and export capacity that is expected to make it one of the three dominant global players in an industry that will be worth tens of billion dollars a year. It now has 50,000 employees in the solar industry. Australia, with the best solar conditions in the world, and the home of some of its best technological developments, has little more than 1000, and no manufacturing capacity to speak of.

The article also details how the Federal Government’s 2006 “Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund” was allocated:

  • $75m to Solar Systems (now withdrawn)
  • $100m to HRL, a company that has developed a drying process to reduce emissions from brown coal
  • $100m in total to two other coal-related technologies
  • $60m to the carbon capture and storage facility under development for the Barrow Island Gorgon gas project

Enough said.