A monthly round-up of energy news from Australia and around the world.
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has released its Statement of Expectations 3. This extends protections until the end of March 2021 for households and small businesses struggling with their energy bills during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will provide up to $11.5 million to TransGrid to build a 50MW large-scale, grid-connected lithium ion battery at its Wallgrove substation in western Sydney. The NSW Government will also contribute $10 million to the project as part of its $75 million Emerging Energy Program.
The Australian Government has released an issues paper for public consultation as it seeks stakeholder feedback on a prospective national gas reservation scheme.
The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) is seeking stakeholder feedback on proposals to strengthen the Retailer of Last Resort (RoLR) scheme, which protects customers from losing access to power if their electricity or gas retailer goes out of business.
ARENA will provide funding to help Queensland manufacturing businesses better understand the switch to clean energy. Manufacturers will undergo energy assessments to determine the sector's potential to increase energy productivity and renewable energy generation by electrifying traditional gas-based processes and optimising onsite solar.
Grants of up to $20,000 have been awarded to 551 dairy farming businesses under the Australian Government’s Energy Efficient Communities Program (EECP).
The Australian Government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Singapore to advance cooperation on low-emissions technologies and solutions. Under the MoU, the 2 countries will share technical knowledge and experience, and collaborate on the development of new technologies to reduce emissions.
The Government of South Australia has signed a new decade-long energy supply contract with ZEN Energy. The contract has also secured construction of the state's largest solar farm and fifth grid scale battery.
The Government of South Australia has named 3 hydrogen hubs that it hopes will bring 'epic' growth in wind and solar capacity in the state. This would position South Australia as a major energy exporter to the rest of the country and the world.
The Government of Western Australia has launched a whole-of-system plan with a 20-year outlook on its main electricity system, the South West Interconnected System (SWIS). The plan models 4 scenarios detailing how changes in demand, technology and the economy may shape electricity use and guide investment.
Victoria's Essential Services Commission is requiring energy distributors to set new standards for connecting power to greenfield residential developments under changes aimed at improving efficiency and timeliness.
The Northern Territory Government has begun a procurement process for a $30 million 35MW battery energy storage system (BESS) for the Darwin-Katherine grid, which will deliver savings of around $6 million per year.
The completed installation of 1876 panels for Blacktown City Council is Australia’s largest rooftop solar power purchase agreement (PPA) installation, whereby the system is paid, installed and operated by a single solar provider.
Queensland's Logan City is the first local government area in Australia to turn human waste into energy after trialing a state-of-the-art gasification plant at the Loganholme Waste Water Treatment plant.
The Energy Efficiency Council and the NSW Government have developed a new 3-day online course for energy services professionals. Participants will learn how to help businesses realise good energy performance outcomes through implementing an energy management system.
Over the past 10 years, the National Energy Efficiency Conference has built a reputation as Australia’s flagship event for energy management, energy efficiency and demand response. The 3-day virtual conference will be held on 24 to 26 November 2020.
The Australian Alliance for Energy Productivity is holding its Energy Innovation X-press 2020 on 9 to 12 November 2020. The event will feature industry experts to help plan and accelerate energy productivity efforts for 2021 and beyond.
A proposed NSW-South Australia electricity interconnector that will reduce electricity bills for NSW customers by $180 million a year has been announced by its proponents TransGrid and ElectraNet. The project will allow the free flow of electricity between NSW and South Australia for the first time in Australia’s history.
Environmental approval has been granted by the Government of Western Australia for the 15GW first stage of the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, a large-scale wind and solar hybrid project near Port Hedland.
A pioneering hydrogen production plant in Adelaide is set to become a major wholesale supplier of renewable hydrogen in Australia. The commissioning and first production is a key commercial milestone for project developer, Australian Gas Networks.
French battery storage developer, Neoen, has completed the financial close of the 400MW Western Downs Green Power Hub in southwest Queensland.
A cattle station halfway between Alice Springs and Darwin is set to house the world’s largest solar farm, with energy generated from the project to ultimately power Singapore.
Australian electric drive manufacturer SEA Electric has secured a $20 million investment from US-based consulting firm Invictus Advisory Group as part of a $30 million fund raising.
Australian Gas Networks has announced a supply deal for the Tonsley hydrogen plant to provide zero-emissions hydrogen to the steel manufacturing hub of Whyalla.
Australian buildings hoping to achieve the gold standard for sustainability will now have to ditch gas, as part of a major overhaul of the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star rating system.
Climate League 2030 is a new 10-year, private sector-focused greenhouse emissions reduction initiative backed by 16 institutional investors. Participants will drive a reduction in annual emissions of at least 230 million tonnes on top of what is already projected for the end of the decade, and pledge at least one new action each year.
Energy Networks Australia has announced SA Power Networks as the winner of the 2020 Industry Innovation Award for its Advanced Virtual Power Plant (VPP) Grid Integration Trial. The award recognises the distribution network’s national leadership in the design and application of ground-breaking technology.
ME-092, Australia’s Mirror Committee to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) TC-67, has published its first Australian oil and gas standard — an identical adoption of ISO 29001. The standard defines quality management system requirements for product and service supply organisations to the petroleum, petrochemical and natural gas industries.
IKEA Australia has announced the launch of an Australian-first clean-energy storage initiative that will support the South Australian power grid, in addition to powering its Adelaide store. The company's Clean Energy Transformation Project will transition IKEA Adelaide to being 100% renewable by 2025.
Bunnings has announced plans to source 100% renewable electricity by 2025 to help achieve its target of net-zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030.
Top of the list for Monash is the low hanging fruit of energy efficiency, followed by building electrification and procuring/using 100% renewable energy. Once the building has its emissions profile as low as possible, remaining emissions will be offset.
The Government of Western Australia has launched an affordable-housing experiment between Mirvac, Synergy, Terrace and Keystart. The family living in the house will have their energy and water use monitored over 12 months to help gain an understanding of the cost savings that can be achieved by living in an energy-efficient home.
Frasers Property Australia, with funding from ARENA, will build 51 medium-density, energy-efficient homes in Sydney to demonstrate the feasibility of achieving zero-energy demand homes at scale.
Western Power has successfully deployed 52 stand-alone power systems at properties throughout Western Australia. Stand-alone power systems are a more efficient option than traditional poles and wires and typically include solar panels, a battery and back-up generator.
Community energy rests on the belief that everyday people should have power over how their energy is generated including the environmental and social impacts. About 100 community energy groups operate across Australia – up from 25 groups in 2015.
Solar industry analysts SunWiz have forecast yet another year of growth in residential rooftop solar in 2021, but with a side of stronger uptake in both home battery storage and EVs by Australian consumers.
Reports and analysis
The International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC) has commissioned 10 reports to assist policy makers to better understand effective policies to improve building energy efficiency. Its latest report provides an overview of key regulatory policies, particularly minimum energy standards, that have been used internationally to require energy efficiency improvements to rented properties.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has reported that between midday and 1pm on Sunday 11 October 2020, solar power provided 100% of South Australia’s energy needs – a first for any major jurisdiction globally. Rooftop solar panels contributed 77% of the total providing 992MW, while large-scale solar provided 313MW.
Increasing uptake of rooftop solar systems coupled with changes in energy use due to COVID-19 reduced visible electricity demand across the National Electricity Market (NEM) in the third quarter of 2020.
A new CSIRO report indicates Australia has the potential to capitalise by moving further along the battery value chain with a once in a generation opportunity to create new battery industries.
Replacing gas-burning heating systems in commercial buildings with efficient, electrified heat-pumps could reduce these buildings’ total greenhouse emissions by 44%, according to a new report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
A report published by Greenpeace East Asia shows that repurposing lithium-ion batteries decommissioned from EVs could meet the entire world’s energy storage needs as early as 2030.
As the world turns to renewables to reduce carbon emissions, clean forms of hydrogen are becoming central. A new report shows the global energy transition to reduce carbon emissions will rely heavily on hydrogen.
In 2019, US solar installations were producing 30 times more electricity from sunlight than they had in 2010, according to the Environment America Research and Policy Center.
Innovation and research
The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science recognise outstanding achievements in science, research-based innovation and commercialisation. Two Sydney scientists have received awards for their exceptional work in developing sustainable energy technologies.
Australian-owned company EV-NRG has launched what is thought to be the first locally available domestic vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charger that has the ability to both charge an electric car as well as discharge energy back to the grid.
Founded in 2015 by university roommates David Hu and Vince Allen, SunDrive is working towards commercialising technology that the pair say will be the most efficient solar cells ever made in Australia.
Wind turbine manufacturer GE Renewable Energy has unveiled its largest wind turbine prototype yet, a 13MW behemoth that stands 248m tall, destined for use in offshore wind farms.
Researchers in the US have developed a new form of white coating to help keep building temperatures down.
Scientists in China have developed a miniature wearable wind turbine that can harvest energy from the breeze made while walking.
UK outfit Electric Assisted Vehicles (EAV) is branching into passenger vehicles with an innovative cart-like EAV taxi, built for ferrying people around congested city centres.
A number of companies worldwide are developing fuel cell powered UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) in order to provide connectivity to parts of the world that are difficult to reach via conventional means.
Australian manufacturer Omni Tanker has officially launched its innovative carbon composite road tanker in the US.
A team of Penn State researchers in the US have developed a method to produce hydrogen fuel from sea water using purification technology integrated into a new proof-of-concept electrolyzer design.
AEMO is joining the world’s leading system operators to launch a global consortium that aims to reach 50% emission reductions over the next 10 years via the efficient integration of substantial clean energy investments into power systems.
The island nation of Fiji will become home to the largest solar project of its kind in the Pacific. The15MW project will significantly lower the country’s reliance on imported fossil fuels.
Japan has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050, joining a growing list of countries aiming to stave off the worst effects of climate change. The country's approach will include the uptake of solar cells and carbon recycling,
Germany and Denmark have officially opened the world's first hybrid wind interconnector, in the Baltic Sea. Commercial operation of the combined grid solution (CGS) is scheduled for December.
Tesla has launched a residential energy offer in the UK that promises to be 75% cheaper than any other electricity market tariffs – for owners of rooftop solar, a Powerwall 2 battery, and preferably a Tesla EV.
International architecture firm Snøhetta has completed another sustainable office in Norway. The firm calculates its new building will produce more energy than it will require over its entire lifespan, including the energy used in construction and even its possible demolition in decades to come.
The World Green Building Council has called for net-zero emission by 2050 in the Asia Pacific region along with a primer on getting there.
A fundamental question exists about how emerging economies can accelerate clean-energy transitions given the unprecedented scales of their impending socio-economic and infrastructure transitions, and often-underdeveloped technological innovation capabilities and supporting finances.