A monthly round-up of energy news from Australia and around the world.
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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.
The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has announced its latest measures to guide the national electricity market through the COVID-19 pandemic and confirmed it intends to help some retailers to continue supporting vulnerable customers.
The combination of the COVID-19 crisis and an exceptionally mild winter in the northern hemisphere have put global demand for natural gas on its largest annual decline in history. See the report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Tim Gould, Head of Division for Energy Supply Outlooks and Investment at the IEA, joins the Everything Energy podcast to discuss how the health pandemic is impacting global investment in the energy sector.
The economic and behavioural ramifications of COVID-19 will significantly reduce global long-term energy demand, according to the authors of DNV GL’s ‘Energy Transition Outlook’.
Government policies and projects
Prohibiting energy market misconduct (Big Stick) legislation is now in effect. The new legislation requires energy companies to put the interest of their customers first by requiring them to pass on savings to consumers.
The new Default Market Offer (DMO) puts a price cap on standing offers in some electricity retail markets.
The AEMC will press ahead with plans to let large customers routinely trade their energy use in the national electricity market. The reform encourages large customers to reduce their short-term electricity consumption in response to wholesale market price signals.
As part of its domestically focused fuel security package, the Australian Government is undertaking an assessment of the viability of the Australian refining sector.
The judges have spoken and the recipients of the Australian Government’s Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund Microgrids pageant have been chosen, with 17 projects across nearly every state and territory.
A major step forward in the West Murray Zone was achieved with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) granting registration for a 220-megawatt alternating-current solar PV farm located in south-west NSW.
Small businesses can now apply for grants to improve their energy efficiency through the Australian Government's Energy Efficiency Communities Program. The grants will support equipment upgrades, monitoring systems and energy audits.
A $3.5 million investment from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will assist deployment of smart charging hardware to drive down the cost of smart and connected EV charging stations and make them more user-friendly for drivers.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $2.4 million in funding to ActewAGL for one of the largest EV vehicle-to-grid (V2G) trials in the world to be conducted in Canberra. As batteries on wheels, EVs using V2G technology can discharge electricity back to the grid.
In a new investment in Australia’s emerging agritech sector, the CEFC is increasing its focus on technologies that can deliver enhanced sustainable farming practices.
Seventeen successful applicants have been announced in round 2 of the Automotive Innovation Lab Access Grants. Among the recipients is Innovative Mechatronics Group. The company has received $103,000 to develop Australia’s first national-scale hybrid battery aftermarket service for the reuse and recovery of retired batteries from hybrid vehicles.
AEMO has teamed up with industry stakeholders on a 12-month project that will deliver more frequently updated, high-resolution weather forecasts for the Australian energy industry.
The Australian Government has launched an online data portal to provide the resources sector with free access to around 250 datasets collected as part of the government’s $225 million Exploring for the Future program.
A $5 million grant from the Queensland Government will help Townsville’s Sun Metals Zinc Refinery build north Queensland’s first renewable hydrogen facility.
The Queensland Government is investing $300,000 towards the development of the Barcaldine Renewable Energy Hub. Studies into the hub’s development will be conducted by the Central Western Queensland Remote Area Planning and Development Board in partnership with energy company Sunshot Energy.
A renewable hydrogen production facility being developed in Adelaide has celebrated a construction milestone with the start of installation of its key component, an electrolyser at Hydrogen Park South Australia.
Applications are now open for a second round of funding to improve energy efficiency in the NSW manufacturing sector. The NSW Government is providing manufacturers with funding for equipment upgrades and optimising energy metering and monitoring systems.
The City of Sydney is now powering all operations including pools, sports fields, depots and buildings using 100% renewable electricity generated from wind and solar farms in regional NSW.
Canberrans will soon be able to zip about town on shared electric scooters, as the ACT joins a growing number of cities worldwide embracing 'last mile' transport alternatives in a bid to cut down traffic congestion and pollution.
Hydrogen vehicles are set to be manufactured in the NSW Illawarra region, with Australian company H2X aiming to produce 20,000 hybrid vehicles from a plant at Port Kembla by 2025.
Perth-based company ClearVue has signed a manufacturing and distribution agreement with US-based Insulsteel Building Sciences. The solar window technology is built into steel insulated panels and delivered as prefab sections to minimise build times.
Viva Energy’s oil refinery in Geelong, Victoria could be turned into an energy hub incorporating solar and storage.
Soluna Australia’s Power Bank systems for residential installation comprise lithium-ion battery storage, a hybrid inverter and an advanced battery management system. This would all soon be available for country-wide installation following approval by the Clean Energy Council (CEC).
UK investment group United Green has made its first play in the Australian clean energy market by taking a 50% stake in the 300MW Rodds Bay Solar Farm in Queensland.
Saving money where possible and improving efficiency is important for businesses at all times, but even more so during periods of economic uncertainty. Here are five practical tips to help weather the COVID-19 pandemic, and strengthen business along the way.
The Australian Government’s new $25,000 HomeBuilder grant will make it easier for Victorians to include energy-efficient features in new homes or renovations, which could save them thousands of dollars on power bills in the long term.
Within one to three years, South Australia could become the first gigawatt scale grid in the world where the growing amount of rooftop solar effectively eliminates grid demand.
Data shows that in March, during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic in Australia, residential energy demand increased by more than 10%. There are things you can do if you're hit with a big bill, and ways to avoid one in future.
This Energy Savings Trust guide showcases a multitude of ways to make kitchens more energy efficient. It's worth investing in the most energy-efficient appliances to make extended savings in the long run.
Researchers at Monash University have compiled and analysed industry expectations for smart technology and energy use to see how these trends could intersect and influence each other in the average household.
Research and innovation
UNSW Sydney and Providence Asset Group have launched a university-industry partnership in hydrogen technologies to translate leading university research into real-world, commercial products.
University of Wollongong researchers will play a key role in the Australian Research Council Research Hub in New Safe and Reliable Energy Storage and Conversion Technologies. The hub will deliver new energy storage technologies to eliminate the serious fire risk in current technologies.
The road to cheap hydrogen production is riddled with potholes and energy losses. One Australian team of researchers has shown that rethinking solar technology and skipping electrolysers holds great promise for attaining the hydrogen grail.
A team from the Australian National University will lead research into how EVs can support our energy grids. The researchers claim that if all of Australia's vehicles went electric they would provide more power than five Snowy Hydro 2.0 stations.
GE is seeking to engineer giant 3D printers that can print concrete wind turbine bases on site, aiming to further drive down the cost of wind power. The prototype base was completed in 2019 with production aimed for 2023.
Glass is currently a liability in buildings as it compromises energy consumption, thermal comfort, acoustics and other aspects. Water-filled glass changes this paradigm and turns glass into an opportunity for sustainable construction.
Perovskite is a promising material for solar cells, but it has some durability problems. Now, engineers have developed an electrode that could make them more stable, using a protective layer of 'graphene armour'.
Reports and analysis
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has released its annual deep-dive examination of the Australian energy sector. The released report shows the National Electricity Market (NEM) continues to evolve as more renewable generation enters the market posing system security challenges that the government is working to address.
The AEMC has completed the seventh annual review of retail energy competition in the NEM. The review focuses on small customers in retail energy markets which includes residential and small business consumers, with a key focus being the impact of COVID-19 on customers’ ability to pay their bills.
National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) has identified priority areas of action for the $93.1 billion energy resources sector to assist Australia’s communities and the economy rebuild from the global pandemic.
A map of South Australia's energy mix shows the main difference between SA and NSW is the absence of coal, hydro and biomass, but the addition of battery storage.
Despite US energy demand plummeting to record lows in the coronavirus crisis, oil kept getting pumped out of the ground. The resulting oversupply has taxed the limits of storage capacity with oil tankers left idling on the Californian coast and emitting tonnes of CO2.
Six Tesla Megapacks with a combined capacity of 15MWh have been installed on the grid in the UK. It marks the first of many big batteries to be rolled out through a partnership between global outfit Fotowatio Renewable Ventures and British renewables developer Harmony Energy.
Air Products and Chemicals, the US industrial gas giant, has announced plans to build a green hydrogen plant in Saudi Arabia powered by 4GW of wind and solar power. It’s the world's largest such project announced to date.
Spain has ceased operations at nearly half of its coal-fired power stations on 30 June 2020, shuttering 7 out of its 15 plants totalling 4,630MW.
France's oldest nuclear power plant will shut down after four decades in operation to the delight of environmental activists who have long warned of contamination risks, but stoking worry for the local economy.