The Clean Energy Council has countered media reports that the cost of solar energy is now cheaper than that of coal fired electricity, saying they are “premature and inaccurate”.


Clean Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren said solar electricity was becoming more affordable, more efficient and more reliable, but it still needed responsible government assistance to compete with carbon-based electricity generation.


"Claims that the cost of solar energy are competitive with coal, while intended to be constructive, risk doing more harm than good. Leading solar industry analysts expect that the falling cost of solar will meet the rising the cost of fossil fuel electricity somewhere between 2015-2018. At this point we will achieve what is known in the industry as 'grid parity'.


"If solar electricity was at or very close to grid parity anywhere in Australia at the moment then systems would be going up on every roof and every business without government assistance. That simply isn't the case yet.


"We have seen a big fall in the cost of these systems over the past decade and it's clear that solar energy is going to play a major role in Australia’s energy supply over the rest of this century," he said.


Mr Warren said the industry was currently on a knife-edge.


"Since the closure of the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme we have seen the industry come to a complete standstill. We have come so far in developing this exciting clean energy industry. But we still have to finish the job," Mr Warren said.


"Delivering a safe, efficient and responsible solar industry is like landing a plane. We're approaching the runway, but we haven't landed yet. If we cut the engines now the plane will still crash," he said.


"Government support for solar energy has been one of the success stories of the 21st century. We now have sufficient scale, expertise and competition to deliver this technology affordably across Australia.


"If we cut off support at this point, we damn hundreds of solar businesses that have helped deliver this transformation, along with thousands of solar jobs."