THE booming solar panels industry is about to hit a legislated cap on its development in Victoria.

Once the generation capacity of installed panels reaches 100mW, Energy Minister Michael O’Brien has the right to terminate or extend Victoria’s lucrative 60-cent-a-kilowatt net feed-in tariff on solar power.

The Victorian industry has already installed 70mW of solar panel generation capacity since the feed-in-tariff came into effect 18 months ago and expects to reach the 100mW cap within six months.

Thousands of solar panel installers across the state face an uncertain future once the cap is reached.

Central Victorian Ecosmart Solar manager Jill Barker said the industry and its clients needed certainty from the Victorian Government well before the cap was reached.

Australian Solar Energy Society chief executive John Grimes said the industry had suffered huge swings in demand in the past, as state governments chopped and changed their solar feed-in tariff policies.

“We’d urge the Victorian Government to telegraph well beforehand its intentions, rather than turning the industry on and off with the flick of the policy switch,” Mr Grimes said.

He said Victoria should follow the ACT Government’s example of an annual review of the tariff, with four to five months notice of any changes.

The Electricity Industry Amendment (Premium Solar Feed-in Tariff) Act 2009 demands Energy Minister Michael O’Brien make a decision on the future of the tariff once the cap is reached.

source: weeklytimesnow