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e-extra August 2020

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A monthly round-up of energy news from Australia and around the world.

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COVID-19

Visit australia.gov.au for the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) news, updates and advice from government agencies across Australia.

Download the ‘COVIDSafe’ government app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. This highly secure app enables public health workers to notify people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 more quickly and effectively. The COVIDSafe app is now available in Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Greek, Italian, Korean and Vietnamese.

You can also download the ‘Coronavirus Australia’ government app in the Apple App Storeor Google Play Store or join the WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.

Energy.gov.au has help for energy consumers and information on what governments and market bodies are doing in the energy sector. This includes links to all state and territory government online information.

Government provides more support for business investment during COVID-19 recovery

The Australian Government has released two business investment measures designed to assist Australian businesses and economic growth in the short term, and encourage a stronger economic recovery following the Coronavirus outbreak.

AER extends protections for households and small businesses during COVID-19

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has set reasonable expectations of energy companies to protect householders and small business customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. These protections have been extended to 31 October 2020.

Government policies and projects

$22bn boost for Northern Territory-Singapore power link

The Australian Government is helping fast-track a renewable energy infrastructure project which aims to power the Northern Territory and Southeast Asia. The project will inject billions of dollars into the Australian economy and create thousands of jobs.

AEMO releases 20-year development plan for the National Electricity Market

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has published its 2020 Integrated System Plan (ISP). The 2020 ISP identifies the optimal development path for the National Electricity Market that will both maximise consumer benefits and deliver $11bn in net market benefits to 2040.

Seven companies shortlisted for $70m hydrogen funding round

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced that 7 companies have been invited to submit a full application for the next stage of the agency’s $70m hydrogen funding round.

Solar for Salvos: ARENA pilot shares cheap renewables with NGOs

A new ARENA-backed project will use homegrown technology to share the cheap and clean electricity generated by solar panels across multi-tenanted buildings owned by not-for-profit organisations.

Energy Renaissance secures grant for battery gigafactory

Lithium-ion energy storage hopeful Energy Renaissance has Australian Government backing for its plans to become the nation’s first utility-scale battery manufacturer.

Built-in sustainability a boost for apartment developers

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has invested $63m in the nation’s first institutional build-to-rent investment platform with property group Mirvac. The investment aims for a high level of sustainability, with effective passive design, EV facilities and rooftop solar.

NABERS to level the playing field for gas and grid electricity usage

For the first time in NABERS’ 20-plus years, the government’s environmental benchmarking scheme is updating how it accounts for the emissions profile of grid electricity to reflect booming renewable penetration.

Cheaper energy for Victorian embedded network customers

Victorians living in embedded networks, such as apartment buildings, caravan parks and retirement villages, will now save hundreds of dollars on their energy bills thanks to reforms introduced by the state government.

CEFC backs Salt Lake Potash to build world leading fertiliser industry in WA

An Australian Government investment of US$47m in West Australian Sulphate of Potash (SOP) production will help build a world-leading, low-emissions fertiliser industry while supporting significant carbon abatement in the agricultural sector.

$66.3m renewable energy technologies boost in WA recovery

The Government of Western Australia has launched a $66.3m package focused on renewable energy technologies to kick-start the state's economy, following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Renewable energy technologies to improve power to the Kimberley

The Government of Western Australia will invest $21m in Kimberley infrastructure projects focused on renewable energy technologies. Broome and Yungngora will benefit from the installation of its own battery energy storage system (BESS) which will be installed early next year.

NT Government releases first ever Renewable Hydrogen Strategy

The Northern Territory is at the forefront of the renewable hydrogen industry with high solar irradiance, proximity to export markets, and an established world-scale energy production industry. There is strong potential for hydrogen production, export and adoption to generate significant jobs and investment in the territory, much of which could provide opportunities for Aboriginal landowners and custodians.

New online directory features recycled products and suppliers

The Government of Victoria has launched a new online directory, Buy Recycled, which features local products containing recycled content. The tool is designed to give government buyers easy access to suppliers and recycled material options when considering products for purchasing and infrastructure projects.

Business

New Goonumbla solar farm to supply Snowy Hydro

The Goonumbla solar farm, developed by international renewable energy company FRV near Parkes in New South Wales and contracted to supply New South Wales gen-tailer Snowy Hydro, is now completed and ready for operation. The grid-connected solar farm was in the commissioning process that will lead it to produce around 195,000MWh per year, enough to power more than 45,000 households.

Green hydrogen transport to get boost with Australian refuelling station network

Australia may see a rapid expansion of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, with a new partnership that will see green hydrogen for heavy vehicles situated alongside EV charging stations across Australia.

McCain banks on 8.2MW behind-the-meter system with 39% energy savings in sight

McCain Foods Australia is building the country’s largest behind-the-meter clean energy system at its facility in Ballarat, Victoria, with 7MW of solar and 1.2MW of waste-to-energy co-generation. The company expects the 8.2MW clean-energy system will push down energy bills at the site by 39% and help reach its target of halving emissions by 2030.

La Trobe University switches on massive 2.5MW solar array

A 2.5MW solar system installed across 25 rooftops at La Trobe University’s Bundoora campus has been completed. The solar array forms part of the university’s $75m plan to become Victoria’s first tertiary education facility to reach net-zero emissions.

Australia’s two renewable export mega-projects say there is room for both, and more

Australia’s two biggest renewable energy export projects, Sun Cable and Asia Renewable Energy Hub, say they are not competing against each other. The growth in energy demand across Asia is huge, and will only increase demand for zero emissions energy produced in Australia.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries announces voluntary CO2 Emissions Standard

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) announced a new industry-led reporting system, the FCAI CO2 Emissions Standard, which sets out industry and brand CO2 emissions reduction targets at 2030.

Port of Newcastle to shift to 100% renewable energy

The New South Wales Port of Newcastle has announced that it will use 100% renewable energy by next year and is working to shift all vehicles to electric by 2023.

Repurposing retail to meet online demand

As shopping centre vacancy rates rise to the highest level in more than two decades, and e-commerce penetration hits record highs, retailers are looking to repurpose underperforming stores to online fulfillment centres.

Households

It's time to cash in on lower wholesale electricity prices

Checking the cost of your electricity annually might not be enough right now because wholesale power prices are plunging and the market just re-set on 1 July 2020. Even if you moved to a good plan in June, the chances are there are already cheaper deals to be found.

New standard unveiled for greener Australian homes of the future

The requirements for a new home to achieve Green Star certification are taking shape with the release of a draft Green Star Homes Standard for consultation. The standard underpins the Green Building Council of Australia’s Future Homes Strategy to drive transformation in the residential sector for more energy-efficient homes.

WA solar households set for price shock as premium tariffs come to an end

Thousands of Western Australian solar households may be in for a surprise as contracts signed for premium feed-in-tariffs 10 years ago start to come to an end.

Solar and flow batteries take Brisbane home off grid, no back-up required

A Brisbane doctor has tapped home grown zinc-bromine flow battery technology to take his dream home on Tamborine Mountain off-grid and 100% renewable power – no back-up generator needed.

World’s first plug-in home battery set to be tested in Australia

A potentially game-changing plug-and-play home battery storage solution is set to be tested on the Australian market. The battery, from US company Orison, is designed to make energy storage accessible and affordable to all energy customers, including renters in apartments and multi-family dwellings.

Research and innovation

New Prefab Innovation Hub to boost jobs and economy

A new innovation hub is set to supercharge Australia’s prefabricated building industry, forming part of a national network of labs which will harness existing research and business capability across Australia. The Australian Government has provided $2m to the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre to fund and manage the new hub.

Major study to tackle weak, unstable sections of the grid

Monash University will conduct an ARENA-funded desktop study into how to manage unstable and weak sections of the electricity grid. The study will explore issues and strategies associated with connecting renewable energy technologies projects into weaker parts of the NEM.

UNSW receives $4.9m funding for Training Centre for the Global Hydrogen Economy

Researchers from UNSW Sydney have secured more than $4.9m in Australian Research Council (ARC) funding to engage Australia’s best researchers to develop hydrogen technologies and innovations to aid the world’s transition to renewable energies.

NSW backs Narromine to become testing ground for flying electric cars

Regional New South Wales is set to become a centre for all-electric flying car trials, with the state government awarding almost $1m to establish a flight testing facility in Narromine.

Six-minute EV battery may be produced at Townsville gigafactory

An electric-vehicle battery that proponents say could recharge to 85% in just 6 minutes could be made at a Townsville factory being planned by Australian company Magnis Energy Technologies.

Australian-made heavy-duty electric vehicle prototypes head for mines

A number of all-electric, heavy-duty vehicle prototypes made for the mining industry by Victorian-based Safescape will be deployed in coming months to several mines across Australia.

Electric and autonomous tractors, the future of farming

Paddocks farmed by autonomous and electric tractors could be a reality if prototypes like the X tractor come to fruition. X tractor combines artificial intelligence with an electric drivetrain to create a device that could draw on weather data and crop growth rates to autonomously tend to everyday farming tasks.

Hydrogen sees Australia taking a big step towards sustainable energy solutions

Global demand for hydrogen exported from Australia has been estimated to reach almost a million tonnes by 2030, adding up to $11bn in GDP growth each year by 2050. To assist in the successful implementation of hydrogen across Australia, 8 international standards have recently been adopted.

NERA announces new study into carbon capture, utilisation and storage

National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) has announced a study into carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) to help reduce CO2 emissions in the energy resources sector, while securing the nation's energy future.

New long-lasting solar-flow battery sets efficiency record

US chemists working with Australian researchers have created a long-lasting solar-flow battery that sets a record for efficiency, according to a newly published study,

Super hybrid: Shell combines offshore wind, with floating solar, batteries, and hydrogen

Oil giant Shell has won the tender to build a 759MW offshore wind projects that will turn into a 'super hybrid' – combining 69 11MW wind turbines with a floating solar park, short-term battery storage, and a green hydrogen electrolyser for additional storage.

General Motors reveals Hummer electric SUV first glimpse and specifications

Early this year, General Motors (GM) announced that the Hummer would be reborn as a full-battery electric vehicle. GM has now released more details including the Hummer’s specs, official reveal date and estimated timeline for sales to begin.

Reports and analysis

Wholesale energy prices reach 5-year low

Data released in AEMO’s Quarterly Energy Dynamics Q2 2020 report shows wholesale electricity prices have plunged to lows not seen since 2015.

AEMC report on liquidity review of Australian gas markets

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has published a final report tracking changes in trading activity in Australia’s gas markets and the impact of reforms designed since 2016. The commission’s biennial (every second year) review indicates progress is being made towards establishing a liquid wholesale gas market.

Australia's STEM Workforce Report released

The impacts of bushfires and COVID-19 have underscored the importance and value of an educated and prepared STEM workforce in developing solutions for response, recovery and long-term resilience. Australia’s STEM Workforce Report helps policymakers and workforce planners to understand who is STEM-qualified in the Australian workforce in order to develop that workforce for the future.

Five-year runway to hydrogen power in airports

A new report from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO shows that clean hydrogen can significantly reduce aviation emissions with potential benefits seen within 5 years.

International

How the US grid can reach 90% clean electricity by 2035

A new report from the University of California claims that the US can achieve a 90% clean electricity mix by 2035 – as opposed to 55% under a business-as-usual scenario.

Manufacturing giant unveils a new 'super-high-power' range of 500W+ solar panels

Canadian Solar has unveiled its super-high-power range of 500W+ solar panels, ensuring the company keeps pace with its peers, many of which have similarly released 500W+ ranges in recent months.

Musk happy to sell Tesla software, supply powertrains and batteries

The move to software and technology dealer would place Tesla even more firmly in the tech space, and help explain the massive market value that is being placed on its stock.

New offshore wind-powered hydrogen project approved in Germany

The German Government has backed the Westkuste100 pilot project which will build a 30MW electrolyser to produce green hydrogen from electricity generated by an offshore wind farm.