Australia: almost 50 percent of PV jobs lost

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In August the Western Australian Government ended its FIT program after it reached its 150-megawatt capacity.

The Sustainable Energy Industry of Australia (SEA) has subsequently conducted a survey of the industry which has shown that as the photovoltaic industry in state was young and, as yet, undiversified, many installers have been left in a vulnerable position when the government support programs changed.

The SEA survey, which was published yesterday, showed that almost 50 percent of the sector’s workforce are expected to lose their jobs, with companies beginning to make workers redundant in September. The companies surveyed replied that they expected to lay-off 49.4 percent of their staff.

Expectations within the industry are also low, with a 41.7 percent of respondents saying that they believed a recovery in the industry was imminent. Falling module prices were seen to have had a positive influence, however the FIT’s cancellation outweighed this.

One respondent, published with the SEA report, was particularly scathing of the West Australian Government, claiming that a lack of industry consultation and transparency means that many businesses face bankruptcy.

"How can a business survive if it hasn’t been allowed to plan for a major shift in the market climate purely drive by knee jerk policy changes and no support provided to the industry?"

In a key indicative of the industry’s mood, 96 percent of respondents classed the industry in Western Australia as "faltering".