GROWTH in jobs in the solar power industry is expected to continue as people increasingly look to alternate sources of energy and heating.

The industry has already seen considerable growth over the past few years with the Clean Energy Council saying Queensland is the second largest employer of people who work in renewable energy, behind New South Wales.

The industry already employs more than 8000 in full-time jobs, with 1800 in Queensland.

The number of people working as accredited solar panels installers has tripled in the past 18 months to 3000 nationally.

Solar company Sun Connect says a poll of those in the industry shows four out of five solar companies in Queensland alone are looking to increase their income over the next 12 months.

Nine out of 10 say they expect to take on more staff, with about half looking to employ five of more people.

Jobs are expected to include solar installers and technicians and plumbing and production work.

Sun Connect operations manager James Strahan says jobs will also be available in other areas, including marketing and support, legal, accounts and clerical work.

“You don’t have to have a degree in solar engineering to work in this field,” Mr Strahan says.

“It’s similar to how you can be a great salesperson in retail or insurance or medical equipment.

“With the right training, you can use your skills to sell anything.”

The growth in the solar industry has been fuelled in part by lucrative government grants and incentives for homeowners to adopt solar energy and heating options.

However, many of those have been dropped or scaled back, which the Clean Energy Council says has led to a “stop-start cycle” of growth in the industry in recent months. That has impacted on some smaller businesses, that may be forced to lay off some staff when orders fall.

Clean Energy Council spokesman Mark Bretherton says there will be further cutbacks in July, with a reduction in solar credit multipliers that help offset solar costs.

“As a result of this multiplier dropping off in July, we will get a bit of a boom as people try to take advantage ahead of that, then we will have a bit of slump after that,” he says.

“It is very frustrating but for every one that’s been in this industry for a while, we have to build this in over long-term planning.”

Government subsidies are expected to drop further until about 2014, when the solar industry will be expected to stand alone without support.

source: news