Welcome to e-extra, a monthly round-up of energy news from Australia and around the world.
Energy retailers have launched a campaign to raise awareness amongst households and small businesses of support for those experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19 or other reasons. The Australian Energy Council and Financial Counselling Australia are encouraging people to speak to their energy retailer or seek assistance from a financial counsellor.
The Australian Energy Market Commission's (AEMC) 2021 annual residential electricity price trends report shows households can expect to pay around $77 less (or 6%) for electricity in 2024 than they do today as cheaper renewable energy flows to consumers. This will reduce prices to their lowest levels since 2017.
Cheaper wholesale prices have reduced the cost of supplying electricity to households to the lowest it’s been in 8 years. Retailers have started to pass the savings on to consumers, the ACCC’s latest electricity market report shows.
Households could save up to $980 a year on energy bills and reduce NSW’s carbon footprint with the introduction of new sustainability standards. The Building Sustainability Index (BASIX) is a key assessment tool that ensures new homes are comfortable to live in regardless of temperature, are more energy-efficient, and save water.
Falling wholesale electricity prices are behind Victoria's energy regulator cutting the default electricity offer by about 5%. Victorian households on the default offer will see their annual bills dropping by an average $70 from 1 January 2022 while small business customers will save an average $336.
A report into the Victorian energy market by the Essential Services Commission shows customers tend to stick with bigger retailers, perhaps putting perceptions about reliability of supply and better customer service ahead of price.
Victoria now has more than 1 GW of capacity coming from solar panels installed through the Solar Homes Program. That’s 3 million panels powering more than 165,000 Victorian homes.
The SA Government has committed a further $12.25 million to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles with a new EV smart charging subsidy. 7,500 subsidies of up to $2,000 will be available to South Australian households investing in smart charging solutions that monitor and respond to household and electricity network events.
From February 14, 2022, new or upgraded solar panels in WA will be installed with the capability to be remotely turned off for short periods when demand for electricity reaches a critically low level.
Parliament has endorsed a package of new laws to support development of Australia’s offshore energy industry and deliver investment in offshore wind farms and transmission projects. The bills establish the regulatory framework around electricity infrastructure projects in Commonwealth waters.
The AEMC has made a final Rule making it easier and more attractive for more batteries and hybrid systems to enter the market and ensure the energy sector keeps pace with new technologies.
The Clean Energy Regulator is trialling a Hydrogen Guarantee of Origin (GO) scheme to measure and track emissions from hydrogen production. The GO scheme is a priority under the National Hydrogen Strategy which envisions Australia becoming a major hydrogen exporter and producer by 2030.
The Australian Government is providing $8.6 million in funding to Western Power for a pre-commercial pilot. This will focus on the developing and operating distributed energy resources (DER) within the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) in Perth.
The Snowy 2.0 project has reached a new milestone with the commissioning of a second tunnel boring machine which will further accelerate progress on the nation-building renewable energy project.
The Australian Government has released the first full National Gas Infrastructure Plan (NGIP) and the Future Gas Infrastructure Investment Framework to help secure gas supplies over the next 20 years.
The continued importance of gas to Australia’s industrial capabilities and energy security in a market transitioning to low-carbon fuels is leading to significant uncertainty on demand for gas pipelines.
This has prompted the AER to release a stakeholder information paper on the issues facing gas pipeline regulation.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will play a key role in the development and delivery of the German-Australian Hydrogen Innovation and Technology Incubator known as HyGATE. Its objective is to strengthen Australian-German cooperation in the implementation of a value chain for hydrogen and stimulate innovation in both countries.
Coles and Woodside are among 11 large businesses getting behind the Australia Government’s Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency (CERT) report. Companies that opt in will be able to report their net emissions in a clear and standardised way.
Standards Australia has published revised standard AS/NZS 5033:2021, installation and safety requirements for photovoltaic (PV) arrays.
The Australian Government is providing a $30 million loan to a 25-year-old commercial office building demonstration project in Brisbane’s CBD. The retrofit is expected to halve the building’s greenhouse gas emissions, for a potential 5.5 star rating under the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS).
The ACT Government is opening applications for Canberrans to access zero interest loans for the purchase of zero-emission vehicles. The option will be added to the Sustainable Household Scheme.
The ACT Government is supporting workers to gain the skills they’ll need in a zero-emissions future as part of the transition to cleaner public transport. The tailored training program will provide staff with essential skills required to transition from working with diesel buses to electric equivalents
The NT Government has awarded the contract for the 35 MVA (megavolt amps) Darwin-Katherine battery energy storage system (BESS) to Hitachi Energy. The big battery is expected to deliver cost savings of around $9.8 million per year and pay for itself in around 5 years.
The NT Government has announced major project status for the 10 GW Desert Bloom green hydrogen project that will seek to produce renewable hydrogen using water drawn from the air. The project has the potential to deliver around 410,000 tonnes per year of hydrogen for domestic and international export markets.
Clean hydrogen is being blended into the gas networks in NSW for the first time under a 2-year trial. Energy infrastructure company Jemena is producing the hydrogen from renewable energy at its $15 million Green Hydrogen Hub. The Australian Government has contributed $7.5 million towards the hub’s development.
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) will be the regulator for the NSW Government’s Renewable Energy Zones (REZs), following its appointment under the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020 (NSW).
The NSW Government has issued a call for new wind, solar and storage project proposals for another renewable energy zone, this time centred around the state’s coal-heavy Hunter Region and the Central Coast.
From 2022, TAFE NSW will offer a Diploma of Renewable Energy Engineering along with a number of new micro-credentials to help students pave their career in renewable energy. The new diploma was developed in close collaboration with industry and will be aligned to jobs in solar, storage systems and wind technology.
Queensland will soon be home to Australia’s first hydrogen fuel cell manufacturing facility. With backing from the Queensland Government, Australian energy technology company LAVO Hydrogen Technology Ltd will establish the $15 million facility in Greater Springfield.
A 30-year plan for Queensland’s resources industry proposes to fast-track new economy minerals production and processing and trigger new regional industries in the clean energy economy. The suite of proposed measures includes development of a Queensland Battery Industry Strategy.
The SA Government and Trafigura, one of the largest physical commodities trading groups in the world, have unveiled a landmark $750 million hydrogen project to be integrated with the Nyrstar Port Pirie smelter.
South Australians in the market for a more sustainable car are being encouraged to take advantage of the SA Government’s $3,000 subsidy, with applications now open. The incentive is available for 7,000 eligible new battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles registered in South Australia.
More than 850 Tasmanian businesses impacted by COVID-19 and operating in the areas of tourism, hospitality, arts, events and seafood are expected to receive a power bill credit as part of targeted support offered by Aurora Energy.
MMA Offshore has been awarded the $5.5 million contract to carry out underwater engineering geotechnical surveys required to refine the Marinus Link cable route. The Marinus Link interconnector is a proposed 1500 MW capacity undersea and underground electricity connection between Tasmania and Victoria.
The Victorian Big Battery, a 300 MW / 450 MWh lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS), has been officially opened by the Victorian Government. Neoen was awarded the contract to supply up to 250 MW of interconnection capacity to allow Victoria to import power from NSW at peak times.
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has approved the 2022 gas distribution tariffs proposed by AusNet Services, Australian Gas Networks (AGN) and Multinet for their Victorian and Albury networks.
The Victorian Essential Services Commission has released its draft decision on the minimum feed-in tariff that energy companies will pay from 1 July 2022 with the trend of falling tariffs likely set to continue.
The Victorian Government is providing a funding boost of $40 million for offshore wind projects as part of the Energy Innovation Fund. The funding will kick start 3 major projects from Star of the South, Macquarie Group and Flotation Energy which have the potential to power around 3.6 million homes.
In an Australian first, up to 100% of daytime operations at 2 Pilbara iron ore mines will be powered entirely by renewable energy thanks to the commencement of the 60 MW Alinta Energy Chichester Hub Solar Farm. The project has received $24.2 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
Millions of hectares of unused state government-owned land could soon be made available for economic diversification projects under proposed changes to the Land Administration Act. The changes mean the state will be better placed to leverage opportunities in the renewable energy sector.
The WA Government will invest up to $117.5 million for renewable hydrogen hubs in the Pilbara and mid-west. The Pilbara Hydrogen Hub plan involves development of a hydrogen or ammonia pipeline connecting the Maitland and Burrup strategic industrial areas and port upgrades to facilitate export opportunities.
Water Corporation has completed its largest ever solar energy installation as part of its renewable energy program designed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 or earlier. The 310 kW solar installation will provide almost all the power for the utility's Balcatta office during the day - equivalent to 90 average households.
First Nations groups, unions, industry bodies and academics have launched a new network to build renewable energy projects in Indigenous communities. The First Nations Clean Energy Network aims to forge partnerships between communities and industry to develop renewable energy projects on Indigenous land to provide reliable power and energy security.
Nexsphere intends to develop a multi-billion-dollar offshore wind project in the Bass Strait to boost renewable generation. The Bass Offshore Wind Energy Project (BOWE) will generate between 500 and 1,000 MW of renewable energy, enough to power over 325,000 homes.
At Agnew and other resources sites around Australia, companies are turning to renewable energy in increasing numbers as they look to cut their costs and carbon emissions. Giants, including Rio Tinto, BHP and Woodside, have unveiled plans to spend billions of dollars on wind turbines and solar panels as they seek to go green.
Plans for another massive wind and solar development have been unveiled in South Australia, this time in the state’s north. The race is on to map out possibilities for multi-gigawatt-scale projects that could deliver the electricity supplies needed for a green hydrogen industry.
Australian power company Alinta Energy hopes to build an offshore windfarm off the coast of Victoria to help Alcoa’s Portland aluminium smelter go green. A 500 sq km patch off the coast is being considered for the 1,000 MW windfarm, dubbed Spinifex.
Sunrise Energy Metals has been granted Major Project Status for its $2.4 billion Sunrise Battery Materials Complex project at Fifield, near Condobolin NSW. The project will develop and operate a nickel/cobalt mine and battery materials processing and recycling facility.
AGL has broken ground on its $180 million, 250 MW battery at Torrens Island, which will form part of the Torrens Island Energy Hub to help support renewable energy generation in South Australia.
WestWind Energy will push ahead with plans to build one of Australia’s largest wind farms in Victoria’s south-west. Final amendments to the 800 MW Golden Plains project were approved by the Victorian Government.
Australia’s solar PV panel manufacturing capacity is set to get a major boost with Melbourne-based RTE Energy confirming it plans to establish a large-scale heterojunction module factory in the Lansdown Eco-Industrial Precinct being developed in northern Queensland.
The finalisation of the voluntary code to support the negotiation of gas supply agreements (GSA) represents an important industry-led milestone. The gas industry has now agreed to implement the code.
GeelongPort has announced plans to expand its operations with a $100 million investment to build the Geelong Hydrogen Hub. This will be a production and distribution facility for green hydrogen that will accelerate Victoria’s transition to a clean energy future.
Australia’s National Broadband Network has committed to source 100% renewable electricity for its operations by the end of 2025. NBN Co has entered into an 80 GWh a year renewable energy power purchase agreement that would deliver just under 20% of the organisation’s power needs in 2022-23.
Australia’s largest peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), has released its net-zero roadmap for the retail sector. ARA is one of the first retail trade associations globally to join the UN-backed Race to Zero Accelerator Pledge.
The Australian offshoot of global food giant Nestlé says it is switching to a 100% renewable energy supply after signing a 10-year power purchase agreement with CWP Renewables.
Innovation and research
The Australian Government’s $242.7 million Trailblazer Universities initiative will see the best minds work together to develop key technologies, products and businesses. Each centre will focus their efforts on priority areas set out in the Modern Manufacturing Strategy, including resources technology and clean energy.
Researchers from Monash University, together with Woodside Energy, have published a detailed assessment of how hydrogen energy can be environmentally produced at scale for industry use. The high cost of green hydrogen is currently a significant barrier to its production.
Australian researchers have unlocked new techniques to produce ammonia via renewable energy. The discovery, achieved by scientists at Melbourne’s Monash University, has been detailed in a paper published in the journal 'Science'.
Western Australia leads the world in successfully implementing renewables-based energy generation for far-flung customers. Unique joint venture and pioneer in the field, Boundary Power, has been widely recognised for its innovations and is ready to repeat its SAPS successes across Australia and the Asia-Pacific.
VSUN Energy will install a standalone power system based on vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) energy storage technology at IGO’s nickel operation in WA’s remote Fraser Range region.
Enel X has announced its first battery energy storage system (BESS) project in Australia. The project will help Central Irrigation Trust (CIT) in South Australia 'intelligently manage' its energy use.
Brisbane-based fast charger manufacturer Tritium has unveiled a new line of EV fast chargers designed for more cost-effective operations and infrastructure deployment.
Home Power Solutions (HPS), a German residential hydrogen storage system manufacturer, has expanded its product range to include a new hydrogen storage solution for commercial properties and apartment buildings.
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California have found that battery-powered trains could become economical as soon as 2023. The group argues that improved battery technology and cheap, renewable energy could soon allow batteries to compete with diesel fuel to power trains.
A study at Stanford University has demonstrated that the US energy system running on wind, water and solar, coupled with storage, not only avoids blackouts it also lowers energy requirements and consumer costs. This would create millions of jobs, improve health and free up land.
Researchers in Europe have designed a new system that allows more energy to be extracted from biomass. The system uses a chemical reactor that works with a small solar power facility.
Czech company Zuri has commenced hover testing on its first near-scale VTOL air taxi tech demonstrator. With a hybrid powertrain on board, this team promises real-world range figures up to 720 km at cruise speeds up to 320 km/h.
Israeli company Watergen says that its Mobile Box can produce up to 20 litres of water per day, an amount that matches perfectly with the 20 litre jerry cans that many campers use.
Reports and analysis
The State of Hydrogen 2021 reports on Australia’s hydrogen industry. It charts our pathway for a clean hydrogen future and shows what governments around Australia are doing to advance the industry.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has released its Summer 2021-22 Readiness Plan, with sufficient energy supply forecast to meet reliability measures across the NEM.
AEMO has published the Draft 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP), proposing a 30-year ‘optimal development path’ for electricity investment in the NEM.
A record 32% of electricity generated in the NEM in Q3 came from renewable energy sources, the Clean Energy Regulator’s latest Quarterly Carbon Market Report shows. This means that across 2021, renewables have likely contributed 30% of all NEM generation.
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has released its annual benchmarking reports for electricity distribution and transmission networks. The reports analyse the productivity growth and efficiency of distribution network service providers and transmission network service providers in the NEM.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has released its Bioenergy Roadmap, which sets out opportunities for government, research institutions and industry collaboration on the emerging sector.
A new report from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) identifies great potential to cut emissions in the building sector. On average, sustainability rated infrastructure projects achieve a reduction of up to one-third in embodied carbon compared to similar designs with no such measures.
The NSW Government has hit another milestone in its Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap with the publication of the first Energy Security Target Monitor (ESTM) report. The report shows the amount of reliable electricity needed in NSW during maximum consumer demand such as a summer heatwave, plus a buffer.
The rapid transition of the South Australia grid towards a world-first target of net 100% wind and solar has taken another leap forward. Gas generation has been slashed by half, allowing wind energy to set a new record of its own.
Wind and solar continue to smash records in South Australia, surging to a new high of a 135% share of state demand and averaging more than 108% of local demand over a 48-hour period.
The WA Government has identified the skills needed for Australia's growing battery industries. Prepared by the South Metropolitan TAFE for the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre, the 'Vocational skills gap assessment and workforce development plan' discusses new skills and knowledge.
The world's capacity to generate electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydro is on track to set a new record in 2021. Installations are expected to accelerate in the coming years, according to the IEA's new annual market report.
The Energy Efficiency Hub – a global platform for collaboration aimed at delivering the social, economic and environmental benefits of more efficient use of energy – was launched on 1 December at an event hosted at the IEA in Paris.
A New Zealand-based start-up offering dairy farmers cheap and reliable solar and battery-backed power purchase contracts has raised $4 million from an Australian-led investment round.
Japan’s Ministry of the Environment has selected Marubeni Corporation’s hydrogen production project in South Australia as a pilot project, as part of a program looking to cooperate with developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Enterprize Energy, a company based in Singapore, has signed an agreement for the construction of a massive $10 billion wind farm off Ireland’s coast for powering a new green hydrogen plant.
A new zero-carbon microgrid development underway in the UK could pilot a route to the use of microgrids that add far greater value to energy consumers.
The primal Galápagos Islands are soon to be host to a solar and big battery micro-grid that will replace much of the expensive and highly polluting diesel that is currently the main source of power.