Jobs in renewable energy down: ABS

Employment in the renewable energy sector has dropped by 15 per cent in the last two years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Energy Matters reports that the figures come as the sector remains in limbo, with Parliament not yet agreeing on a new Renewable Energy Target (RET). The lack of certainty surrounding the issue is discouraging investment and, consequently, affecting jobs.

The findings are part of a new publication from the ABS, Employment in Renewable Energy Activities, Australia.

According to the figures, since 2011-12 there has been a drop of 2,300 jobs in the sector. That year saw a peak of 14,890 jobs in the sector, while today there are just 12,590 people working in renewable energy.

Concerning the RET, the government says it will not budge from its preferred target of sourcing 32,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy from renewable energy sources by 2020.

"Uncertainty over the future of the RET, or over the size of the renewable power percentage, is likely to have a flow on effect on future investment in renewable energy infrastructure," the report said.

At present the target is 41,000 GWh, a figure which was originally intended to represent 20 per cent of Australia’s energy usage.

However, the Government wanted to reduce the target to 26,000 GWh, on the grounds that, because of declining energy usage, that figure represents a ‘true 20 per cent’.

It has since moved to a figure 32,000 GWh but will not reduce it further.

The Clean Energy Council has proposed a target of 33,500 GWh target, a figure which the Labor Party has accepted.