Australia’s threatened on-site solar segment received support this week from the leader of the nation’s Labor party.

Bill Shorten has pledged to support keeping the small-scale component of the nation’s renewable energy target as it is, Australian renewable energy news site ReNew Economy has reported, in the midst of a national debate over the future of the country’s 20%-by-2020 renewable energy target.

Shorten’s pledge follows a report from government advisor Dick Warburton (pictured) – a controversial figure and reported climate change denier – that recommended either eliminating the rooftop solar target or phasing out up-front rebates, as well as cutting the size of qualifying installations from 100 kW to 10 kW – which the solar industry says would nix commercial-scale solar development just as it is getting off the ground.

If the government decides to cut rooftop solar from its renewable energy scheme, the capital city of Canberra would consider introducing its own scheme, Australian Capital Territory environment minister Simon Corbell said in an interview with newspaper the Canberra Times. Canberra’s scheme would offer rooftop installations the same level of feed-in support that is currently available under the federal system.

According to Corbell, a lack of government support would significantly increase up-front installation costs for rooftop solar systems. The segment employs a greater number of workers than large-scale renewables, he said, and features more ‘mum-and-dad businesses’.