The recent decline of demand for solar photovoltaic panels would accelerate  sharply if the Abbott government scrapped the renewable energy target (RET),  potentially halving jobs in the industry, new research finds.

The solar PV industry employed about 13,600 as of late 2013, and the number  will sink this year to about 12,300  across about 4300 businesses as state-based  subsidies are wound back, according to a report for the REC Agents Association,  a body representing firms that create and trade in renewable energy  certificates.

The solar workforce, though, would dive immediately by 2000 if the government  were to end support for the industry by scrapping the RET, with the total number  of jobs lost or foregone swelling to 6750 by 2018, analysis of the research by  industry group SolarBusinessServices found.

The government will this year review the target of deriving 20 per cent of  electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Under current projections, wind, hydro and other renewable sources will  supply more than 20 per cent – perhaps as high as 27 per cent – mostly because  power demand has wilted in recent years because of shrinking manufacturing.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and other Coalition figures have lately been  critical of renewable energy, saying that it has forced up power  prices.