Sunday, 27 March 2011

Lack of green energy to 'hit' power bills

West Australian
16 March 2011, Page: 28

WA will face a costly "green skills shortage" when the Federal Government's proposed carbon tax is introduced, unless the State Government starts investing in green technology and offering more specialised university places now, a union of scientists and engineers has warned.

Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia State president Zaneta Mascarenhas said many engineering graduates had specialist skills in green technology but there were not enough local jobs for them to enter when they finished their studies, meaning they could not "get their hands dirty" and further develop their skills.

Ms Mascarenhas said WA was better positioned to take advantage of natural resources like solar power than European countries that were investing in green technology. She said the State Government needed to start investing in renewable energy projects now to keep household energy bills low when the carbon tax was imposed. "Germany is at the forefront of solar technology and they don't get nearly as much sun as WA", she said. "Initially it will be expensive but it will be more expensive to make the transition later. At this stage WA is not ready".

Unions WA secretary Simone McGurk said WA's lack of investment in renewable energy infrastructure meant the State was already losing some of its brightest green industry engineers. A joint report Creating Jobs, Cutting Pollution developed between the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian Council of Trade Unions found taking "strong" action on climate change now would create 770,000 more Australian jobs by 2030 than "weak action" would.

ACF spokesman Simon O'Connor said while a Federal policy would be the most cost effective option, the States could still take independent action on climate change. Verve Energy announced last year it was planning a large scale solar farm near Greenough in the State's Mid West. Manager of corporate relations Peter Winner said the Greenough River solar farm "would happen" and the company was also working on its Mumbida wind farm near Geraldton and Albany wind farm extension.