Local renewables sector employs over 1500 Canberrans

Lottie Twyford 3 January 2022 25
Rooftop solar install

Over 1500 Canberrans are employed in the renewables sector – but they aren’t all involved in installing solar panels. Photo: File.

A total of 1558 Canberrans are currently employed by more than 250 employers in the renewables sector, according to a new report from the ACT Renewables Hub.

It’s also a sector that continues to experience rapid growth, despite the ACT’s inability to house major manufacturing or industry projects.

Among the survey’s findings was that 40 per cent of the renewable energy jobs are in the public sector or policy development, and 24 per cent are in research and training.

Another 22 per cent of these jobs are in solar panel installations, sales and energy audits.

ACT Renewables Hub manager John Grimes, who is also the Chief Executive of the Smart Energy Council, the independent body for the Australian smart energy industry, said the findings prove the renewables industry is thriving in the ACT.

He noted it’s a sector that’s experienced rapid growth, with the number of jobs more than doubling in three years. ABS census data from 2018 showed there were only 600 jobs in the local renewables industry.


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Mr Grimes expects to see similar or even quicker growth in the coming years as the transition to a zero-carbon economy takes hold.

He’s realistic about Canberra never becoming a significant manufacturing hub, but he said the Territory could become the “knowledge capital”, leveraging the public, private and tertiary education sectors.

Mr Grimes said there had been particular interest in finding out what full-time, long-term jobs had been created since 2018.

“When you build a solar farm or a wind farm, there’s the civil engineering work and construction, but then there’s a lower number of jobs that flow on from there as well.”

But the report found jobs available within the sector are broader than what might immediately come to mind – not everyone is installing solar panels.

“We were particularly interested to see this diversity of jobs,” Mr Grimes said.

Canberrans are working in roles such as selling electric vehicles, researching new solar cells, bidding energy from wind farms into the energy market, undertaking home audits and assessing smart energy funding applications.

Others may work at the Royalla Solar Farm as a technician or on building and running the renewable hydrogen refuelling station.

Solar panels

Major projects like building a solar farm lead to immediate jobs, but Mr Grimes is more interested in the subsequent long-term growth. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

“What we’re seeing is an ecosystem emerging which is starting to become self-sustaining,” Mr Grimes said. What this means is that the local renewables sector is beginning to require less government intervention to ensure it is profitable.

He noted the ACT Government had initially shown “real leadership”, but now it’s about “letting the market take care of itself”.

Mr Grimes said this is really important as Australia makes its transition to clean energy over the coming years.

“We need a good economic outcome as well as a good environmental one.”

The report found 64 per cent of employers are from the public sector while 36 per cent are from the private sector.


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Among the 250 employers identified in the sector, the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) was the largest. It employs 360 people, although the ANU Institute for Climate, Energy, Disaster Solutions (ANUICEDS) was a close second – employing 300.

The local and federal governments were also both major employers, with the Australian Government employing 112 people and the ACT Government employing 100 people.

The CSIRO employs 50 people while the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) employs 45.

Currently, more than 60 job vacancies are listed with the Territory’s major recruitment agencies.

Neoen, ITP Renewables, CWP Renewables, Reposit Power, Global Power Generation, and Zepben were the top five employers in the private sector.

Mr Grimes said it was pleasing to see this increasing engagement from the private sector in the industry.


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25 Responses to Local renewables sector employs over 1500 Canberrans
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Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:35 am 05 Jan 22

This must be a nightmare for all the warmists in Canberra that believe that the days of coal generated electricity are numbered:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/business/2022/01/02/indonesia-bans-coal-exports-in-january-over-domestic-supply-worries.html

    chewy14 chewy14 12:14 pm 05 Jan 22

    Haha, you do love a good selective google, don’t you.

    Although I’m not sure how you think one country deciding not to export as much coal this year impacts the global trajectory of coal which is down. Particularly considering Indonesia only use about 1% of the world’s total electricity generation.

    Total yearly coal powered electricity generation has plateaued since around 2014, making up less of total global production every year.

    And then when you consider the aging coal fleet, reductions in overall coal plant utilisation, fewer planned plants every year and the fact that they’re more expensive than renewable equivalents, the coal death spiral has already begun.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:59 pm 05 Jan 22

    It wasn’t “selective”. The story is headlining in most news feeds (except of course, The Guardian) but you knew that, didn’t you.

    Indonesia is the world’s largest thermal coal exporter. If you believe the myth that the world can function on 100% renewable electricity generation, think again because it won’t be a “coal death spiral” it will be a “cold death spiral” because the coal generators have been shut down and people will be freezing to death.

    chewy14 chewy14 2:49 pm 05 Jan 22

    The Jakarta Post is headlining most news feeds?

    Bahahahahahaha.

    Although I will give you a break because it seems like you don’t know that most news feeds are tailored content to what you typically interact with. You’re seeing these types of stories because that’s what you like and want to see. It feeds your confirmation bias.

    Which is actually a large problem in the creation of partisan echo chambers in today’s society.

    “Indonesia is the world’s largest thermal coal exporter”

    And? They are 1% of the global energy market. The fact that they’ve decided to keep some more coal at home this year is irrelevant to the global trends.

    “you believe the myth that the world can function on 100% renewable electricity generation”

    I don’t think we will get to 100% but close enough not to matter. And it will happen mainly because of pure economics, renewables are cheaper.

    And no, people won’t freeze to death because of it. Well at least not anymore than they already do.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:00 pm 05 Jan 22

    If I see a story about an event in a certain country I always check news feeds from that country to get accuracy and in depth reporting. I didn’t say the Jakarta Post was headlining any news feeds either but you like to seize any opportunity to link my choices with conspiracy theories. You really are a bit paranoid you know. Did you bother to read any other news feeds? Even the Canberra Times had the story.

    Your assurance that people won’t freeze to death is cold comfort to the ones that will.

    chewy14 chewy14 8:00 pm 05 Jan 22

    “The story is headlining in most news feeds”

    This is a direct quote and then you linked to the story from the Jakarta Post.

    It is simply a false statement that the story is headlining most news feeds. Its not remotely true.

    phydeaux phydeaux 9:11 pm 05 Jan 22

    CR, I read your linked article. It describes short term government action to enforce a reservation policy where the government-imposed price is about half the market price.
    Do you favour arbitrary government action in opposition to the market?
    What is in this report to alarm non-denialists of climate change, when it illustrates again the uncompetitiveness of coal-fired generation?

    Perhaps you wanted to remind everyone that the report says Indonesia has committed to nett zero by 2060 with no new coal plants after next year. Nice to have your commendation for this.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:45 pm 04 Jan 22

“What we’re seeing is an ecosystem emerging which is starting to become self-sustaining,” …………

……………… “The report found 64 per cent of employers are from the public sector while 36 per cent are from the private sector.”

That looks like a very Canberra perspective on what constitutes a “self-sustaining” industry sector. Figures on imports versus exports would be illuminating (even if not in a sustainable way).

Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:12 am 04 Jan 22

How many of these 1558 workers used to be coal miners?

    phydeaux phydeaux 1:06 pm 04 Jan 22

    Four or fewer, I expect from workforce data.

    Why do you want to know?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:03 am 05 Jan 22

    I think you know exactly what I am alluding too and that is the manufactured expectation that the renewables industry will create jobs for the displaced workers in the disappearing fossil fuel sector: https://cleanchoiceenergy.com/news/renewable_energy_jobs_for_coal_miners_and_oil_workers

    Well, the renewables industry may recruit a few from the coal extraction industry but thousands of private sector jobs from coal mining will never be replaced.

    Funny how the emerging renewables industry needs about 2 public servants for 1 private sector worker to function. Is it cynical of me to say that this is just an extension of taxpayer funded subsidies that have always been part of the false dichotomy between renewables and fossil fuels?

    renewable energy companies are already recruiting coal miners based on their work ethic and technical and mechanical skills.

    chewy14 chewy14 10:56 am 05 Jan 22

    Capital Retro,
    Dying industries have been replaced by new ones since forever.

    Jobs disappear and new opportunities appear. People need to adapt to the new, superior technologies or they will struggle. Yes, the government can help by providing transition packages but you said you’re against subsidies so surely you don’t want additional subsidies to the dying fossil fuel industries?

    Perhaps we should have thought about the poor workers in the typing pools when personal computers were invented? Maybe we should bring back Wheelwrights?

    “Funny how the emerging renewables industry needs about 2 public servants for 1 private sector worker to function”

    Also hilarious that you think this is surprising or an indictment on the industry, when you clearly don’t understand how the ACT economy works.

    You do realise that one third of the entire ACT workforce are government employees right? So it’s perfectly understandable that 40% of ACT employees in this specialised sector work in government or policy areas. It would actually be more surprising if it wasn’t the case.

    Back to the selective google searching for you.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:52 am 05 Jan 22

    The “cherry-picked” information came from the article posted which claimed 100 ACT Government employees are employed in the renewables sector.

    I suggest you do a refresher course in arithmetic.

    chewy14 chewy14 12:03 pm 05 Jan 22

    Capital,
    Can’t see how that relates toy comment?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:01 pm 05 Jan 22

    Also, you need a refresher course on comprehension and English expression.

    chewy14 chewy14 2:52 pm 05 Jan 22

    Capital Retro,
    Coming from you that’s rich.

    As you’ve shown once again in this thread, you struggle to comprehend some of the most basic concepts around the energy sector because of your myopic, predetermined positions.

    phydeaux phydeaux 11:37 am 05 Jan 22

    CR, I know what you think it means. I am interested in reality.
    Entire employment in the Australian coal industry, on ABS data, is about 39000 people of whom some are miners. That total is less than 0.29% of the participating workforce.
    If you were a soon-to-be ex-miner (actual miner) whom would you call? The solar industry or a miner of some other ore, where you may out-compete newbies who lack your skills and experience? If you are in the industry in bookkeeping, logistics, procurement, driving, admin or management, are you really depressed about portability of your skills into the other 99.7% of the economy?
    Drawing a straight line from job[mining] to job[solar] is, at best, simplistic nonsense and the scale and timeline of the problem several miles from daunting. Change happens, and you are a beneficiary of that already and in the future, for all that you rail against it.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:04 pm 05 Jan 22

    It’s also about the industries and infrastructure that coal mining supports.

    It’s the same as if there was no public service in Canberra the place would die.

    phydeaux phydeaux 3:03 pm 05 Jan 22

    CR, you mean that there is no economic multiplier from any other industry? You believe that? Transferring your employment transfers your multiplier. Different industries supersede. Once again, you are attempting an absurd identikit, zero-sum game.

    If there were no public service in Canberra, indeed the place would at least deteriorate savagely, yet the public servants needed would be employed in other places, possibly other employs. You conflate and confuse the the person, place, industry or economic function. Look at my (and chewy’s) post again; Has no change ever occurred in your lifetime, your parents’? Did every one of the people in the old jobs disappear into the sunset never to work again, the national economy contracting accordingly, soon to be zero just as soon as we invent one more new thing?

    I would not have minded if they had moved Canberra’s principal employment to Jervis Bay, taking its multiplicands with it.

kenbehrens kenbehrens 9:09 pm 03 Jan 22

I might be being nit-picking but there is no suck thing as a “zero carbon” economy. It’s just marketing gimmick.

Every part of any manufacturing process, results in carbon. Dig it up – carbon, smelting – carbon, manufacture it – carbon, transport it – carbon.
Volvo, has done the numbers. Their total emissions to build an EV are 70% higher than building one of their ICEs.
Obviously, post manufacturing, their EVs emit less carbon than an ICE and assuming a long life cycle, break even could occur depending on the battery life. Solar panels deteriorate but can have a life of up to 25 years, some get scrapped long before that. Household batteries won’t pay for themselves within the warranty period. A Telsa owner overseas made the news in the last week by deciding to blow up his 2013 car with dynamite, rather pay for the replacement batteries.

Truth is that “zero- carbon” is a furphy. At best, it’d be more accurate to call it a “lower-carbon” economy.

    Futureproof Futureproof 6:59 am 04 Jan 22

    In regards Tesla, John Cardigan (Autoexpert), through his YouTube channel (same name), revealed that some 2021 Model Teslas had battery backs manufactured in 2017. So if you believe that battery technology is making gains, some of the purchasers were paying 2021 prices for 2017 battery tech

    chewy14 chewy14 7:45 am 04 Jan 22

    “Obviously, post manufacturing, their EVs emit less carbon than an ICE and assuming a long life cycle, break even could occur depending on the battery life.”

    The Volvo numbers you’re quoting showed that the break even point is around 100000 km of driving using average electricity generation sources. If solely renewable energy is used, the break even point is far earlier. So it’s not a “could” break even, Using average lifespans (around 200000km), they well and truly do.

    And of course, there are future improvements that would lower and remove the carbon outputs at every step of the manufacturing process as well.

    So, whilst it’s unlikely to be achieved any time soon, zero carbon is not impossible, it just requires deeper thinking.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:16 am 04 Jan 22

    ” ………it just requires deeper thinking.”

    So, I guess that eliminates me from the debate?

    Earthdog Earthdog 2:12 pm 04 Jan 22

    Very true. Everything we use requires some resources and effort and results in a certain amount of waste. You are to be commended for sitting there in your hemp clothing while using a bicycle to generate electricity for your laptop while providing us with your wisdom. After all we humans are over 10 per cent carbon as well so we don’t qualify as “zero carbon” either..no offence.

Frank Spencer Frank Spencer 6:30 pm 03 Jan 22

Love the name Lottie Twyford……just saying.

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