Silex closure another blow for Solar
Australia’s solar industry has fallen deeper into the doldrums with the announcement that the only onshore producer of solar cells, Silex, would close its Sydney facility with the loss of 30 jobs.
Amid strong criticism of Government solar policy – which Australian Solar Energy Society chief John Grimes described as a “vacuum” – Silex said the market for solar in Australia had “vaporised” with the closure of feed in tariff schemes in several states.
The company’s chief executive Michael Goldsworthy said that after NSW closed its solar bonus scheme soon after the election of the O’Farrell Government, the industry had collapsed and Silex could no longer compete with cheaper imports from China.
“You can’t sell a panel in NSW today,” Goldsworthy told newsagency AAP.
He said the company had to “bit the bullet in order to survive” and while it would continue some manufacturing of panels with imported technology, it was unable to compete in producing cells.
Victoria is expected to be the next domino to fall with the imminent closure of the state’s bonus scheme, with predictions that more than 1500 jobs could be lost.
Nationwide, around 10,000 people are employed in the solar industry.
The Silex announcement, which an O’Farrell government spokesperson described as “a commercial decision” comes as a Solar Energy Society survey confirmed the parlous state of the industry in NSW.
The survey polled 91 solar businesses, and found that 25 percent had closed or expected to close in the next month. It also found that 416 jobs had been lost at those 91 firms since November 2010 and there had been a 93 percent drop in enquiries.
“There are approximately 830 solar companies in NSW and we polled 91 of them,” said the ASES chief John Grimes. “If you extrapolate the job losses, we could be looking at over 3000 jobs already gone.”
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