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e-extra April 2021

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Government

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National

Energy customer protections extended through COVID-19

The Australian Government is extending protections for households and small businesses experiencing hardship with energy bills due to the pandemic. The Statement of Expectations for energy companies will be extended until 30 June 2021.

Government ensuring better, simpler energy bills

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has delivered a final rule to make complex energy bills a thing of the past. The rule sets out the purpose of an energy bill and will enable small customers to easily understand payment amounts, dates and methods.

Increasing customer participation in distributed energy

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will provide funding for technology company UPowr to explore how customer insights can be used in the design of distributed energy resources (DER) orchestration programs. The programs enable aggregators, such as an electricity retailer or virtual power plant, to control and optimise behind-the-meter assets like rooftop solar and batteries.

$1.3B initiative to back recycling and clean energy

The Australian Government is funding recycling and clean energy projects under the $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI). The MMI will help manufacturers to scale-up production, commercialise products and operations, and integrate into domestic and global supply chains.

Australia's hydrogen industry celebrates production milestone

A world-first demonstration of an international hydrogen energy supply chain has commenced operations in Australia. The start of Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain operations will produce hydrogen using coal from Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, with the liquefied hydrogen to be exported to Kobe in Japan.

US to test solar thermal technology developed with Australia

The US Government has announced funding for a commercial-scale test facility for the demonstration of Australian next-generation solar thermal technology.

Energy efficiency grants awarded to high energy using businesses

Through the Energy Efficient Communities Program, 48 businesses that consume more than 0.05 petajoules of energy annually have been awarded grants of up to $25,000 to implement energy efficiency opportunities.

Lowering energy costs for community groups

The Powering Communities Program will provide $10.2 million to not-for-profit community organisations to help them improve energy productivity and reduce emissions.

New plan to make room on grid for more home solar and batteries

The AEMC has released a draft determination on how to integrate more small-scale solar and other new energy technology into the electricity grid.

AEMC clarifies obligations on weather-reliant generators

Weather-reliant generators such as large scale solar and wind farms will be prevented from turning down or off without informing the electricity market operator under a final rule to bolster system security.

AEMC rejects TransGrid, ElectraNet energy rule changes

The AEMC has decided against a proposed energy rule change from TransGrid and ElectraNet to bring forward cash flows for large-scale transmission projects. AEMC concluded the existing rules are not an impediment to financing.

House standing committee to examine future energy generation and storage

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy has launched a new inquiry into dispatchable energy generation and storage capability in Australia.

ACT

Australia’s first public hydrogen refuelling station now open

Australia’s first public hydrogen refuelling station, operated by ActewAGL, has opened in Canberra. It marks a major milestone in the rollout of zero-emissions vehicles in the ACT.

NSW

Hunter hydrogen hub to drive jobs, investment and a net zero future

The Hunter region is set to become the home of one of NSW's first green hydrogen hubs with the state government committing at least $70 million to the development.

QLD-NSW Interconnector milestone achieved

Six transformers have arrived and 48 transmission pole strutures installed at the Queensland-NSW Interconnector project in NSW’s north-west. The project will improve substations and transmission lines to easily share power across the electricity market and put downward pressure on customer bills.

First locally made NSW electric bus starts trial 

The first electric bus built in NSW is now being trialed as the state government plans to electrify its bus fleet. Fifty new electric buses are planned to roll out across Sydney this year.

Sydney council bans gas appliances in new green initiative

Canterbury-Bankstown Council has announced that it will be putting a stop to the installation of gas appliances from new apartment buildings in a green initiative.

Northern Territory

NT creating more energy-efficient buildings

The NT Government is seeking advice on a roadmap to more energy-efficient commercial buildings in the state. The project will identify implications of implementing National Construction Code energy efficiency standards from an NT construction industry perspective.

NT to shift all remote communities to renewable microgrids

The NT Government will invest $2 million over the next two years to advance the delivery of clean and reliable electricity to remote communities. The investment lays the foundation to transition 72 remote communities’ to renewable-based power systems by 2030.

Queensland

ARENA commits $47m to Queensland pumped hydro plant

Australia’s first pumped hydro plant in 37 years is one step closer after ARENA committed $47 million to support Genex Power’s Kidston Stage 2 Pumped Hydro Energy Storage (PHES) project.

Applications open for second round of Hydrogen Industry Development Fund

Up to $5 million is available for round two of the Hydrogen Industry Development Fund. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the assistance will help Queensland firms tap into growing global demand for hydrogen.

Landmark signing marks international confidence in Queensland hydrogen

Queensland’s hydrogen credentials have hit another milestone with the signing of a memorandum of understanding with a major Japanese multinational in Gladstone.

Network-connected battery storage trial to begin in Queensland

The Queensland Premier has announced five regional locations across the state to host a large-scale, network-connected battery trial. Batteries placed on networks throughout the state would gain maximum advantage from Queensland’s abundant rooftop solar systems.

South Australia

South Australian rooftop solar switched off in search for stability

The search for power system security has sparked an Australian-first with AEMO confirming South Australian energy authorities switched off 67MW of rooftop and large-scale solar when electricity demand plunged to a near-record low.

Biggest battery bolstering the SA energy grid

AGL has committed to construct a 250MW grid scale battery at Torrens Island. This will deliver greater system strength into the SA electricity grid.

Victoria

Cracking down on dodgy solar installers

The Victorian Government is boosting the number of specialised solar safety inspectors with a new training program. The aim is to ensure the sector meets record demand for solar while keeping workers and households safe.

Street light conversion program rolls out

One of the largest street light upgrade programs in Victoria has begun in Greater Geelong. About 15,000 residential street lights are being replaced with LED luminaires.

Western Australia

Perth’s most sustainable logistics and industrial estate

A landmark investment by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) aims to drive down emissions and energy costs. They’ll use low carbon concrete, solar and other sustainability measures to create Perth’s most sustainable industrial estate.

Business

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Energy Australia announces the early retirement of Yallourn

Despite being planned for retirement in 2032, EnergyAustralia has announced that its Yallourn Power Station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley will close in mid-2028.

Construction begins on Australia’s biggest solar and battery hybrid

Construction has begun on a huge New England Solar Farm. It's the first stage of a 720MW hybrid solar and battery project developed in NSW by UPC\AC Renewables.

AGL and Wärtsilä offer onsite solar and battery solutions to big energy users

AGL will offer its largest electricity users the opportunity to install on-site renewable energy and storage projects after signing an MOU with energy services provider Wärtsilä Energy.

$1B offshore wind farm proposed for Western Australia waters

Plans to build a $1 billion, 300MW offshore wind farm in Western Australian waters around 140km south of Perth have been submitted for state environmental approval. Under the proposal, the wind farm will be generating electricity by the summer of 2026.

Coles commits to 100% renewables by 2025

Australia’s 12th largest electricity user, Coles, has signed a power deal with a large wind farm near Ballarat. The move will contribute towards the company’s target to procure all of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the 2025.

GBCA honours sustainability leaders of the future

Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has announced the 2021 Green Star Champions. The recognition acknowledges leaders using Green Star, Australia's largest voluntary sustainability rating system for buildings, fit-outs and communities.

Trade in your excess solar for a few beers

Victoria Bitter has launched Solar Exchange – a program that allows participants to exchange credit from generating excess solar at home for slabs of VB. Every $30 worth of credit can be exchanged for a slab delivered straight to their door. 

Sydney factory to share excess rooftop solar power with employees

In an Australian-first, a Sydney window furnishing company is offering its employees the unused power generated by the 800kW solar system on the factory's rooftop.

Yewt beauty as Aussie electric ute on track to roll off production line

An Australian-built electric ute is on schedule to roll out of an Adelaide factory early next year with a price tag of just under $26,000 for the basic model. The ACE Yewt will be able to carry up to 500kg with a maximum speed of 100km/h.

Turning leftover food and grease into power

Western Water has unveiled its new Melbourne recycling facility that will produce enough renewable energy to power the company’s recycled water plant. The $3.3 million facility will treat up to 5000kL of liquid food waste from local businesses each year and convert it into biogas.

What is an average SME electricity bill?

Finder has analysed the ACCC's September 2020 Inquiry into the National Electricity Market report to help SMEs compare their power bill with others in their state or across the country.

Reports and analysis

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New projects to ensure gas supply

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has forecast a secure gas supply until at least 2026 across the eastern and south-eastern gas systems. AEMO’s Gas Statement of Opportunities (GSOO) report for March 2021 finds this outlook depends on field developments and pipeline expansions.

AER releases retail energy market update for Q2 2020-21

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has published its quarter two (Q2) 2020-21 Retail Energy Market Performance Update data, covering the period from October to December 2020.

Renewables records broken in 2020

The December Quarter 2020 Carbon Market Report released by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) shows two records were achieved last year. 7GW of new renewable energy capacity was delivered across Australia and 16 million Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) were issued.

Looking ahead: COVID-19 and Australia’s new energy future

National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) has produced a report examining how the energy resources sector has weathered COVID-19 and the challenges and opportunities now presented.

Study of rooftop solar response to network events

The University of NSW will develop tools to better understand the behaviour of rooftop solar and DER in response to contingency events across the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Report shows clean energy now a quarter of Australia's electricity supply

The Clean Energy Council's annual Clean Energy Australia report reveals over a quarter of Australia's electricity supply now comes from renewable energy sources.

Report says battery is best for electricity peaking services

The Clean Energy Council has released a new paper concluding that large-scale battery storage is the better choice for electricity peaking services. The finding is based on cost, flexibility, services to the network, and emissions.

Renewables sector transformed into global asset class

The appetite for renewable energy infrastructure and strong focus on environmental, social, governance (ESG) agendas has helped transform the sector into a global asset class, according to a report by bfinance.

Improving rate of buildings eco-refurb ‘crucial in attaining net zero’

A report by the Buildings Performance Institute Europe has found EU member states have inadequate targets on energy-efficient building renovation as part of their strategies for reaching climate-neutrality.

World adds record new renewable energy capacity in 2020

According to data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the world added more than 260 GW of renewable energy capacity in 2020 despite COVID-19. It beats the previous record set in 2019 by close to 50%.

Oil markets face uncertain future after rebound from historic COVID-19 shock

According to a new International Energy Agency (IEA) report, world oil markets have rebounded from the massive demand shock triggered by COVID-19. However, they still face a high degree of uncertainty that is testing the industry as never before.

IRENA report to outline global strategies towards carbon-neutrality

IRENA has released a preview of its World Energy Transitions Outlook report. The preview claims renewables, green hydrogen and modern bioenergy will dominate the world of energy in the future.

Innovation and research

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Blockchain technology enables secure energy trading between neighbours

Researchers from Monash University and the Queensland University of Technology have harnessed the power of emerging blockchain technologies to transform the energy market. Peer-to-peer (P2P) energy trading facilitates the integration of a large number of small-scale producers and consumers into the market.

Energy Renaissance to deliver defence-grade cybersecure BMS

Energy Renaissance, an Australian lithium-ion battery manufacturer, will develop a defence-grade cybersecure Battery Management System (BMS). This will monitor and report on the battery’s usage, lifespan and faults through a mobile network.

Amazon-backed startup trying to save the planet, one motor at a time

Turntide Technologies, with financial backing from Amazon and Bill Gates, wants to replace standard motors with smart motors that use a fraction of the energy. The machine learning-powered motors are already being used by companies including BMW and Five Guys.

Renewable energy and fuels from Aussie crop waste

A $2 billion project aims to turn agricultural crop waste into renewable energy and fuels. The project will see grains grown for food, and their stalks and waste converted to renewable fuels at a new facility in Victoria.

Mixing wool with industrial waste to insulate homes

Researchers at Adelaide's Flinders University are blending wool offcuts with waste cooking oil and sulfur to make a sustainable housing insulation.

Apartment made from waste glass and textiles showcases 'green' ceramics

An industry-first apartment made using waste materials has the potential to revolutionise home construction. The 'green ceramics' are the result of a collaboration that began in 2019 between UNSW SMaRT Centre and industry partner Mirvac.

Tree-filled home stays cool in Hanoi – no air conditioning required

Serving as home and workplace to a family of seven, this tree and plant-filled residence is defined by a ceramic brick facade that helps keep its interior cool.

Cooling homes without warming the planet

US-startup Transaera is working to curb energy demands with a more efficient air conditioner that uses safer refrigerants to cool homes. The company believes its machine could have one-fifth the climate impact of traditional ACs.

Google Maps to put Aussie drivers on most eco-friendly route

Launching globally on Android and iOS later this year, Google Maps will automatically default to the route with the lowest carbon emissions footprint if it has roughly the same ETA.

A hydrogen-powered Land Cruiser is on the horizon

Toyota has given a glimpse of its zero-emissions future with the next step in its hydrogen fuel journey that could one day include Land Cruisers and Hiluxes.

World’s first ocean-powered EV charger

EV drivers on the Scottish archipelago of Shetland can now plug directly into the power of the Atlantic Ocean to recharge their cars. 

Roadside barriers deflect harmful exhaust

There are currently many projects aimed at reducing the air pollution emitted in automobile exhaust. As an alternative approach, a new study suggests a possible means of redirecting that exhaust.

Ultra lightweight battery to boost electric planes

Swedish researchers have produced a battery made of ultra-lightweight materials that works as an electrode, a conductor and a load-bearing structure. The breakthrough could pave the way for lighter, more efficient electric cars and planes.

Marine fuel made from plastic waste

Clean Planet Energy has released details of two new fuels manufactured for use in any ship or vessel. Both are produced using non-recyclable waste plastics which would otherwise go to landfill or into the oceans.

International

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Energy and climate leaders pledge clean energy action at Net Zero Summit

Top international energy and climate leaders from more than 40 countries have taken part in the IEA-COP26 Net Zero Summit to identify how to reduce global emissions and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

European Parliament backs carbon border tax

The European Parliament has backed the bloc’s push for a carbon border tax on imports from countries such as Australia, in a plenary vote that gives Brussels the political momentum to press ahead with the plan.

German-Australian Hydrogen Alliance presents major opportunity for bilateral trade

The German-Australian Chamber has massively ramped up its hydrogen activities over the last few months and continues to do so in 2021 – including through the newly formed German-Australian Hydrogen Alliance.

Biden administration targets Trump-era rule-making barriers to energy efficiency standards

US President Joe Biden's massive infrastructure plan calls for hundreds of billions of dollars to retrofit millions of homes with new, energy-efficient appliances. To achieve this, roadblocks imposed by the former Trump administration will need to be addressed.

Singapore's floating solar farm

A company in Singapore has just completed construction on a massive floating solar farm. What makes it particularly unique is that it is offshore in the Straits of Johor.

Ireland to replace last coal plant with huge green hub and floating wind farm

The Republic of Ireland's Electricity Supply Board has announced it will transform its last remaining coal generation, the 915MW Moneypoint facility, into a green energy hub. The hub will include a 1.4GW floating offshore wind farm.