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.


“Dark day for solar” – article on Eureka Street

2 11 2009

Australian website Eureka Street has published an article by Greg Foyster which details the hypocrisy of the Government’s refusal to offer financial backing to Solar Systems. The article raises several examples of companies that the Government has bailed out following financial collapse, including fossil fuel and industrial smelter companies.

The Government’s position is eloquently summed up in the following quote, excerpted from Foyster’s article:

Our politicians suffer from a sort of carbon-induced myopia. Their obsession with digging up fossilised carbon blinds them to our nation’s other abundant energy resource: sunlight.

Obsession? Blinded? Seems like there’s another layer of Government hypocrisy going on here, given that Federal MP Lindsay Tanner is on the record for saying that greenies are “obsessed” with solar energy.

Have your say about the issues at the next Save Solar Systems action, where we will be protesting outside Lindsay Tanner’s Melbourne office during the week when the CPRS will be debated in parliament.

When: 12:30 pm Monday 16 November
Where: Lindsay Tanner’s office, 280 King Street, Melbourne 3000

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

Report from the WWF – five years to initiate a low carbon industrial revolution

19 10 2009

The WWF has released a news update stating that “The world has just five years to initiate a low carbon industrial revolution before runaway climate change becomes almost inevitable”. Modelling conducted by the company Climate Risk shows that major reforms to industrial practice are urgently required in order to avert catastrophic climate change. The findings call for simultaneous action to radically reduce emissions across all sectors, rather than sequential development of industries. This will require serious policy change, including feed-in tariffs for renewable energy. Kim Carstensen, leader of WWF’s Global Climate Initiative states: “The transformation will require sustained growth in clean and efficient industry in excess of 20 per cent a year over a period of decades”.

Science has spoken. Now the pragmatic steps that governments need to take have been explicitly laid out. The Federal and Victorian Governments have demonstrated that they are blantantly ignorant to the call for an urgent transition to a low carbon future in their inaction on the impending collapse of Solar Systems. As the WWF analysis advises, governments that are slow to act on the opportunity to develop renewables will end up being hit harder by start-up delays and “constraints on available resources, labour and expertise”.  Sadly though, Solar Systems, a homegrown mecca of “available resources, labour, and expertise” – not to mention groundbreaking technological innovation – is faced with closure due to lack of a political imperative to invest in renewables.

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.