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e-extra May 2021

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

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Government

Government and energy related images including Parliament House, transmission lines, wind turbines and press conferences

National

Energy Ministers agree to gas pipeline reforms

A major package of reforms to natural gas pipeline regulation has been agreed by Energy Ministers. The net value of the reforms is estimated in excess of $1 billion over a 20-year period.

Advancing Australia’s gas-fired recovery

As part of Australia’s gas fired recovery, the government has committed to boost the east coast gas market across the entire supply chain. This will be done through the three key areas of unlocking supply. 

Accelerating low emissions technologies

The Australian Government will invest $539.2 million into clean hydrogen, carbon capture storage and carbon capture, use and storage projects. With partner countries, the government will invest a further $565.8 million to co-fund research, deployment and export of low emissions technologies.

Australia backs world-leading clean hydrogen projects

The Australian Government has approved three large-scale hydrogen plants in Western Australia and Victoria that will be among the biggest in the world.

CEFC finance unlocks clean power, lower emissions for industrial tenants

A Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) investment of up to $75 million in Frasers Property’s $300 million sustainability linked loan (SLL) will help deploy clean energy technologies in two Australian industrial projects. Distributed energy generation models will be installed at Rubix Connect in Victoria and the Horsley Park Estate in NSW.

Australian Government locks in electricity price cap

Thousands of Australian families and small businesses will pay less for their energy bills from 1 July. The Default Market Offer (DMO) price cap locks in cheaper electricity prices across south-east Queensland, South Australia, and NSW.

Locking in cheap and reliable energy through the NEM

The Energy Security Board (ESB) has released a series of options for the future design of the national electricity market (NEM). These will support delivery of reliable, secure and affordable electricity to households and businesses.

Draft plan tackles need to give renewables critical stability on the energy grid

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has released a draft plan to make it simpler, faster and more predictable for new large energy resources like hydrogen, wind, solar and batteries to connect to the energy grid and operate stably.

Consultation paper on who pays for non-energy costs during periods of low demand

The AEMC has started consultations on a proposal aimed at improving the way non-energy costs are shared between wholesale customers in the NEM during periods of low operational demand.

AER allows revenue to support gas consumers in transition to renewables

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) will support provision of gas network services to 150,000 households and small businesses, while enabling their transition to renewable energy.

CER taskforce targets accredited solar installers making false written statements

The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) has established a taskforce to target installers accredited by the Clean Energy Council who make false statements in relation to small-scale technology certificate (STC) eligibility.

Finding solutions to increase DER within low voltage networks

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $2.6 million funding to Luceo Energy to overcome challenges for distribution network service providers (DNSPs) in managing distributed energy resources (DER) within low voltage networks.

ACT

Legislation to give ACT energy consumers a better deal

ACT energy retailers will be required to tell their customers if a better deal is available, and make it easier to compare deals, under new legislation being introduced.

World-leading renewable hydrogen certification project in Canberra

The ACT Government has joined as a Founding Partner in the Smart Energy Council’s Zero Carbon Certification Scheme. The scheme is a national, industry-led certification scheme for renewable hydrogen, ammonia, and metal manufacture.

Audit report on ACT Government's vehicle emissions reduction activities (PDF 395KB)

The ACT Government’s vehicle emissions reduction activities performance audit report has been tabled in the Legislative Assembly. The audit found that twelve of the sixteen zero-emissions vehicles commitments made in 2018 and 2019 have been completed as at December 2020.

NSW

Draft guide for NSW solar export price released

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has released its draft benchmarks to guide households and retailers on a reasonable rate for the solar feed-in tariff. It is accepting submissions on the draft report with the final report scheduled for June this year.

Northern Territory

Locking in reliable and affordable electricity in the NT

The Australian Government is committing to electricity infrastructure projects to underpin a bilateral energy and emissions reduction deal with the Northern Territory Government.

Affordable, clean and reliable energy for Territorians

The 2021 Budget will see the continuation of the successful Home and Business Battery Scheme, creating jobs for Territorians and stability to the grid.

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.

South Australia

Energy and emissions reduction agreement with SA

The Australian Government and South Australian Government have signed a $1.08 billion State Energy and Emissions Reduction Deal. Under the agreement, the governments will create additional dispatchable generation, unlock gas supplies and kick-start works on a new interconnector between SA and NSW.

Green pilot light for cheaper, cleaner gas

An historic step in greening the SA gas network has been given the go-ahead with biogas to be blended into the natural gas network. The integration is part of the 2021-26 determination for the gas network.

Electranet SA battery shows the way forward

The performance of one of Australia’s first big batteries has exceeded expectations, setting the stage for large-scale storage across the NEM. Energy Storage for Commercial Renewable Integration (ESCRI) has broken a lot of new ground.

Victoria

Driving towards a zero emissions vehicle future 

The Victorian Government will introduce a $3000 subsidy for new Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV). This is part of the plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Revenue for Victorian electricity businesses to support customers and networks

Victoria’s electricity networks will fund infrastructure projects and upgrades. These will include replacement of ageing wooden power poles, and supporting more rooftop solar panels through a new revenue determination. The AER has released final decisions on how much money the five networks can collect from customers over the next five years.

Western Australia

Major Project Status to boost WA battery industry

The EcoGraf Battery Anode Materials Facility in Western Australia is being awarded Major Project Status. EcoGraf will develop a processing facility to produce high-purity spherical graphite for direct supply to battery anode manufacturers in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Works begin at Australia's first regional renewable hydrogen plant

Construction has started on the $9.3 million hydrogen power plant in the town of Denham. It is the first community microgrid in Australia to be powered by renewable hydrogen, providing an innovative alternative to the use of diesel in the town.

Savings for Broome residents as Smart Sun pilot ends

Horizon Power's Smart Sun pilot program has concluded with participating Broome residents seeing a reduction of up to 70% on their annual electricity bills. The program is an industry-first for regional Australia, involving a virtual power plant and 'smart' household energy packages for 15 households in WA.

Business

Energy technologies including lighting solar, buildings and automation

Smart Energy Council announces founding partners in Zero Certification

The Smart Energy Council has signed a number of national and global leaders as founding partners in the Council’s Zero Carbon Certification Scheme. The scheme will certify hydrogen, ammonia and metals projects.

Investment frenzy results in billion-dollar bidding war for Tilt Renewables

As global leaders double down on their efforts to curb carbon emissions, investment in renewable technology is ramping up. The hot favourite in Australia and New Zealand right now is the dual-listed Tilt Renewables.

Australia’s first green home loan records double the expected uptake

A groundbreaking green home-loan scheme by Bank Australia to encourage investment in energy-efficient homes has attracted 140 customers in its first year, doubling the expected number.

Companies eye off WA coast for offshore wind energy project sites

At least three companies are investigating establishing offshore wind energy farms in Western Australia. A subsidiary of a UK-based firm is lodging plans for a billion-dollar development off the coast of Bunbury with WA's environmental watchdog.

Edify seeks approval for 10MW green hydrogen facility that could grow to 1GW

Edify Energy has lodged planning applications for a 10MW hydrogen facility at a ‘sustainable’ industrial district that is being established near Townsville.

Large-scale commercial battery for Canberra

Infrastructure and renewables development company, Elvin Group, has installed what it says is Australia’s first commercial urban large-scale-based utility battery in Canberra.

Oceanex floats idea of massive 10GW of offshore wind farms

A newly formed offshore wind company has revealed ambitious plans to develop more than 9GW of offshore and floating wind farms in Australia, and another 3GW in New Zealand.

Cheapest EV to arrive in Australia this year, priced 'well below AUD$35,000'

The upcoming BYD e2 electric hatchback will cost 'well below $35,000' in Australia, according to a spokesperson for the local importer Nexport.

Electric bike maker Zoomo announces second round of funding

Australian e-bike innovator Zoomo has announced it has secured $16 million from investors, as they expand into new markets and invest in further innovation of its commercial-use electric bike platform.

Deakin Uni launches biggest on-campus solar farm

A $23 million renewable energy microgrid that includes a 2MWh battery storage system and Australia’s largest on-campus solar farm at 7MW has been switched on in Victoria by Deakin University.

Burwood Brickworks named most sustainable shopping centre

Shopping mall Burwood Brickworks has been recognised as the world’s most sustainable shopping centre by International Living Future Institute. The precinct by Frasers Property houses Woolworths, Dan Murphy’s and a rooftop urban farm and restaurant.

Solar energy to the animal rescue

Two major solar manufacturers and an Australian distributor have teamed up to supply a solar power system for a branch of Western Australia’s largest animal rescue organisation.

Push to ban solar cold-calling intensifies, as company fined $3m

The Victorian company found guilty in the Federal Court of using a “deceptive ruse” to market rooftop solar systems, as well as false claims of Clean Energy Council accreditation, has been fined $3 million.

Reports and analysis

Logos of many goverment NGO energy aencies

Wholesale electricity prices at lowest levels since 2012

Data from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) shows average quarterly wholesale electricity prices across the NEM at levels not seen since 2012.

Post-2025 options paper puts market on track for clean energy future

The Clean Energy Council says the latest Energy Security Board (ESB) Post-2025 Market Design Options Paper is heading in the right direction. The ESB is supporting a 21st-Century energy system in a decarbonised electricity sector.

Wind and solar help slash electricity default market offers

Record-breaking investment in large-scale solar and wind energy generation has helped to slash electricity prices in NSW, south-east Queensland and South Australia.

Solar panels drive power prices into negative territory in South Australia

According to AEMO’s latest quarterly report, the average cost of power per MWh during the off-peak was regularly in negative territory. This represents the first quarter – anywhere in the NEM – when the daytime average has fallen below zero on a consistent basis.

Australian solar – what's working and where there's room to grow

Solahart has examined what motivates various demographics of Australians to install solar-powered generation, and which parts of the country are most suited to the technology.

Study says Australian airports could generate enough solar energy to power a regional city

A new study by RMIT University has found Australia’s government-owned airports could produce enough electricity to power 136,000 homes, if they had large-scale rooftop solar systems installed.

Sports going solar cuts costs, creates jobs and is climate positive

Installing solar panels on major sports stadiums and on the roofs of cricket, soccer and AFL head offices could generate around 20,000MW-hours of clean energy – enough to power 2,890 households, research has found.

Energy management process cost-effective in commercial and industrial facilities

Emerging methods to manage energy use in industrial and commercial facilities are more than paying off through reduced energy costs, according to a report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Research shows solar and wind’s competitiveness over coal is accelerating in the US

A new study shows roughly 80% of US coal plants are either scheduled to close by 2025 or now cost more to operate than solar or wind power.

Eastern and southern Africa's vast renewables potential offers route to sustainable growth

A new IRENA study assesses the long-term energy plans for eastern and southern Africa, and finds the regions well-endowed with high quality, cost-effective, but under-utilised wind and solar resources.

IEA releases Global Energy Review 2021

As the world enters a second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s annual Global Energy Review assesses the direction energy demand and carbon emissions are heading in 2021.

Global electric car sales set for further strong growth after 40% rise in 2020

The global auto industry suffered a punishing year in 2020, but the electric car market bucked the trend with growth of over 40% and is on track for a decade of strong expansion, according to a new report from the IEA.

Global offshore wind investment to top $US810bn by 2030

The offshore wind industry’s global installed capacity is set to exceed 250GW by 2030, driven by a surge in coming projects, a Rystad Energy report shows. The combined capital and operational expenditure for the decade is set to add up to $US810 billion.

Global smart bathroom market report 2021

A smart bathroom provides advantages like convenience, control, cost savings and increased energy efficiency. It consists of numerous eco-friendly solutions and advanced technological hardware including touchless faucets and automatic cistern systems and hand dryers.

Innovation and research

Innovations-related images including labs, microscopes and renewable technologies

CSIRO recruits top research agencies in push for low emissions power systems

Some of the country’s leading energy research organisations have been recruited to participate in a global research partnership that will focus on accelerating the decarbonisation of our electricity system.

Australia’s first solar panel recycling plant swings into action

Australia’s first solar PV recycling facility is up and running in Melbourne’s north. The plant claims to recycle 100% of end-of-life solar PV modules and all associated materials recovered, using no chemicals.

Power kiosk in Sydney offers fast EV charging – free for 15 minutes

Ausgrid has unveiled a prototype EV fast-charging station in Sydney. The plan is to transform street-side power kiosks into a network of state-of-the-art EV chargers.

Sydney to Brisbane for $525 in electric converted prime mover

Janus Electric is about to road test the world’s first exchangeable battery for heavy vehicles. Instead of charging the batteries themselves, operators swap them out for a fully-charged option at charge-and-change stations along the initial Brisbane-Sydney trial route.

How to retain 36% in power losses in solar-powered hydrogen production

An Australian innovation could significantly cut the cost of hydrogen produced using solar energy. Greater productivity of solar infrastructure will be a significant contributor to lowering the cost of hydrogen.

Electric waste collection truck put through its paces

A South Australian trial of an electric waste collection truck has begun as part of a joint-council arrangement. The trial will investigate how feasible the electric vehicle is under actual operating conditions whist maintaining a consistent and reliable service.

New solar greenhouse with a window to the future opens in Perth

The world's first clear solar glass greenhouse has been opened at Murdoch University's new grains research precinct in Perth. The greenhouse was built by high-tech building materials company ClearVue Technologies using three different versions of its solar PV glass panels.

Federation Uni to build Australian-first renewable energy training tower

Federation University is set to build Australia’s first wind turbine training tower in Ballarat. Construction is expected to start on the Mt Helen campus by July.

Exergenics searches for $40m in supermarket savings

Exergenics, a Melbourne-based software company, is collecting data at three Coles stores in the first stage of a pilot program to develop optimised control strategies for refrigeration equipment.

Airbus pioneers a superconducting powertrain cooled by liquid hydrogen

Airbus Industrie’s Ascend system will be a 500kW (670hp) powertrain. It will feature cables, controllers, electronics and motors that are cryogenically cooled by liquid hydrogen pumped around in a circuit from the fuel tanks.

Dash of nanocarbon black makes conductive, heat-generating concrete

Normally, concrete is an insulator against electricity, but recent research has focused on making it conductive. The technology could be ideal for radiant indoor floor heating among other applications.

Huge solid sails could cut fossil fuel use by 30% for shipping industry

British and Norwegian tech companies are collaborating on the design and implementation of wind-assisted propulsion technologies for global shipping. These innovations could slash the use of fossil fuels in the industry.

International

International-related images including flags, electric buses and French buildings

India's biggest floating solar power plant coming up

India's biggest floating solar power plant with a capacity of 100MW is expected to become operational in May. The project is in line with the subcontinent's commitment to attain the target of 175GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2022.

IRENA and China agree to advance renewable transition through power system enhancements

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) will work closely to support grid enhancements and system flexibility in Clean Energy Corridor regions.

Indonesia's ambitious target for EVs

The Indonesian government has set a goal for EVs to make up 20% of all domestic cars manufactured, equal to around 400,000 e-cars, by 2025. The government also aims to have e-motorbikes make up 20% of total domestic motorbikes production. 

UK enshrines new target in law to slash emissions by 78% by 2035

The UK’s sixth Carbon Budget will incorporate the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping emissions for the first time. This will bring the UK more than three-quarters of the way to net zero by 2050.

Scotland launches O2, the most powerful tidal turbine in the world

Scotland's Orbital Marine Power has completed the build of what will be the world's most powerful operational tidal turbine. It is being deployed near the Orkney Islands.

World's largest compressed-air grid batteries will store up to 10GWh

California is set to be home to two new compressed-air energy storage facilities. Each is claiming the crown for the world’s largest non-hydro energy storage system. Developed by Hydrostor, the facilities will have an output of 500MW, capable of storing 4GWh of energy.

Best new sustainable architecture by US-based studios

The American Institute of Architects has revealed its pick of the best sustainable new architecture by US-based firms. Highlights include a sustainable renovation of Microsoft's Silicon Valley facility and a solar-powered light-filled education building.

Honda will sell only battery and fuel cell EVs by 2040

Honda has announced its key target plans for the sale of electric and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in North America. It intends to make the zero-emission vehicles the only type of vehicles they sell by 2040.