Funding cuts put 2700 solar jobs at risk

NEW research claims about 2700 jobs could be created in a new solar industry if 10 Queensland solar farms are funded.

But an environmental group has warned the sector could be at risk if a government renewable energy agency loses $1 billion in funding.

A research paper released on Thursday from the Australian Conservation Foundation has found Queensland could lead the nation in solar farms.

Half of the 20 solar projects the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has short listed for funding are in Queensland.

They include proposed solar farms in Collinsville, Proserpine, Oakey, Dalby, Baralaba, Hughenden, Longreach and Kidston. ARENA will not fund all of these projects.

The ACF report said the Darling Downs Solar Farm near Dalby alone could create 677 jobs and the Whitsunday Solar Farm at Collinsville a further 335.

But the environmental group said the Federal Government's proposal to cut $1 billion of funding for ARENA put these possible jobs at risk. The proposed cut is one of many included in the Omnibus Bill designed to cut about $6 billion of spending.

Although ARENA will still fund some of the shortlisted projects through existing funding, ACF chief Kelly O'Shanassy said the cuts put future projects at risk.

"Big solar could mean a jobs boom for the Sunshine State, but the federal government's proposed cuts to ARENA's funding mean these projects might never be built," she said.

"ACF urges the federal government and opposition to support clean energy jobs in Queensland by reinstating funding and grant-making powers to ARENA."

The savings include cuts Labor agreed to during the election campaign. In a speech on Monday Finance Minister Matthias Cormann said the savings bill was vital to ensure "budget repair" and the cuts should be an "absolute minimum starting position". - ARM NEWSDESK

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