Solar PV now employing 10,000 Australians

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A fast-growing pipeline of PV power plant projects is creating thousands of new jobs. Combined with the rooftop solar segment, there are now over 10,000 Australians working in the solar installation and utility scale project construction industry.

Green Energy Markets (GEM) published the findings today in its Renewable Energy Index – a monthly update funded by GetUp.

In its latest report, GEM found that with 2.273 GW of large scale solar currently being built in Australia, more than 5,456 people are working in the market segment. This is up from 4,440 jobs in December 2017, and 3,225 in December 2016.

January 2018 was the first occasion the large-scale solar segment surpassed rooftop. Remaining relatively flat, 5,337 people were employed full time in supplying and installing systems on Australian homes and businesses. In its report, GEM notes that the job figures for the large scale segment and for 12-month full-time positions – during planning and construction phases of a project.

Solar is also making a sizeable contribution to power generation this summer. GEM has found that on the NEM and SWIS, solar PV has met around 5% of overall power consumption – up from 0.5% in 2010. The contribution made by solar is forecast to increase to 10% by 2020.

“Total power produced by solar nationally over 2020 is likely to be 19,000 gigawatt-hours which is equal to the entire electricity consumption of WA’s main grid,” GEM writes in its latest report.

WA isn’t proving to be a bright spot for large scale solar job creation. While close to 5 GW of renewable projects are currently being built nationally, WA contributes only 37 MW to that number. As a result, just under 100 people are employed in the utility scale renewable sector – almost nothing compared to Queensland with around 6,421, Victoria with almost 5,000 jobs, NSW (3,579), and Tasmania (495).

The statistics for small scale solar was more even across states in January 2018. The Renewable Energy Index finds that NSW and ACT combined saw 4,290 systems installed, followed by Queensland (3,796), Victoria (3,033), SA (1,793), the NT (209) and Tasmania (164).