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e-extra November 2021

Welcome to e-extra, a monthly round-up of energy news from Australia and around the world.

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Households

Household energy-related images including solar panels, heating and cooling and automation systems

Australia achieves 3m rooftop solar PV installations

Australia has reached a milestone of 3 million small-scale solar systems installed on rooftops, amounting to more than 1 in 4 houses having made the switch. This year, rooftop solar will contribute 7% of the energy going into the national electricity grid.

Rooftop solar squashes grid demand to record lows in 2 states

Rooftop solar continues to have a dramatic impact on the shape of the power grids in Australia, with 'minimum operational demand' levels dropping to record lows in Victoria and South Australia.

Power saving bonus helping Victorians with bills

Victorians doing it tough are being encouraged to apply for the one-off $250 Power Saving Bonus. Eligible households include those receiving payments through the Pension Concession, JobSeeker, Austudy, Abstudy or Youth Allowance programs, and holders of a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card.

Disaster assistance for Victorians after severe storms

Disaster assistance is available in 26 local government areas in Victoria following damaging storms. Assistance is being provided through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).

Green light for NSW EV strategy

Motorists in NSW are closer than ever to getting behind the wheel of their first electric vehicle. The NSW Government has committed $490 million towards EVs, helping to cut taxes, provide $3,000 rebates and installation of ultra-fast EV-chargers across the state.

SA motorists to receive further EV purchase incentives

The SA Government's Motor Vehicles (Electric Vehicle Levy) Amendment Bill 2021 has been passed, providing further incentives for local motorists to purchase EVs. The $22.7 million package includes $3,000 subsidies for the first 7,000 battery EVs purchased in the state.

Consumers to benefit as AER supports emerging technologies

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is paving the way for a competitive neighbourhood battery market to support the energy transition to renewables. This move follows the release of the AER’s updated Electricity Distribution Ring-fencing Guideline.

Government

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

National

COP26: Australia at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties

Learn more about Australia’s action on climate change including innovations in low emissions technology and how it is working with partner countries to reduce emissions and grow economies together.

Billion dollar fund to drive low emissions technology investment

The Australian Government will establish a $1 billion fund to turbocharge investment in Australian companies to develop new low emissions technology. The Low Emissions Technology Commercialisation Fund will combine $500 million of capital for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) with $500 million from the private sector.

Future Fuels and Vehicles Strategy released

The Australian Government has released the Future Fuels and Vehicles Strategy that aims to reduce transport emissions and barriers to the uptake of hybrid, hydrogen, electric and biofuelled vehicles.

Jobs and construction at Snowy 2.0

Production has commenced at the new Snowy 2.0 precast factory in Cooma, where 130,000 concrete segments are being moulded to line the tunnels in the massive pumped-hydro project.

Supporting Australia’s biggest electric bus fleet

The Australian Government is backing the nation’s largest fleet of electric buses through a pilot program that will see 40 new vehicles deployed across Sydney.

AEMC reviews rules to include hydrogen and renewable gases

The AEMC has released a consultation paper to review what changes to gas and energy retail rules are needed to include hydrogen and renewable gases in the domestic gas market.

AER commences consultation on 2022-23 Default Market Offer determination

The Australian Energy Regulator has released an options paper on the 2022-23 Default Market Offer (DMO) price determination for consultation. The DMO price is the maximum a retailer can charge a standing offer customer in south-east Queensland, NSW and South Australia.

A new approach to stabilise the grid to better connect and dispatch low-cost, low-carbon energy

The AEMC has released a final rule on system strength, which is a core electrical quality needed for a stable power system. These reforms create a more forward-looking regime so system strength is supplied where and when it is needed.

ACT, NSW and SA to be founding members of Net Zero Emissions Policy Forum

The NSW, ACT and South Australian governments have reached an historic agreement to collaborate and solve the practical problems of reaching net zero emissions. The Net Zero Emissions Policy Forum is designed to help sub-national jurisdictions address challenges in achieving desired outcomes.

Northern Territory

Wind monitoring study underway in Alice Springs

The Alice Springs Future Grid project, funded by the Northern Territory Government, has deployed 2 wind monitoring units. The project is part of a study into whether there could be a second renewable energy resource, other than solar, available to Alice Springs.

NT developing business case for low emissions hub

The Northern Territory Government, in partnership with the CSIRO, industry and engineering companies, has signed an agreement to assess the viability of a large-scale low emission carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) hub.

NSW

Energy superpower plan to turbocharge renewable energy zones and pumped hydro

$32 billion of private investment is expected to roll into the regions by 2030, under the NSW Government’s Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap. The roadmap lays out a 20-year plan to deliver Renewable Energy Zones, energy storage such as pumped hydro, and on-demand supply like gas and batteries.

NSW launches hydrogen strategy

NSW is set to attract more than $80 billion of investment with the launch of the NSW Hydrogen Strategy. The strategy includes exemptions and incentives for green hydrogen production and a hydrogen refuelling station network to be rolled out across the state.

$105m plug-in for EV fleets

The NSW Government has announced $105 million worth of incentives to drive up EV purchases for commercial and council fleets. Fleet operators will be able to abate emissions by an average of 5 tonnes of CO2 per vehicle and save up to $3,100 on annual running costs compared to an internal combustion engine.

Australia's first Renewable Energy Zone declared

Australia's first ever Renewable Energy Zone (REZ), the Central-West Orana REZ, has been declared. Once complete, the REZ will provide at least 3000 MW of electricity, enough to power 1.4 million homes.

NSW seeks GW of wind, solar and storage proposals in south-west REZ

The NSW Government has put out the call to developers of GW of large-scale solar and wind generation to register their interest in populating another of its designated Renewable Energy Zones.

Accelerating net zero buildings launches for NSW customers

The NSW Government has launched a $4.8 million initiative to boost the transition of non-residential buildings towards net-zero emissions. Under the initiative, the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) will develop a framework for measuring, benchmarking, and certifying emissions from construction and building materials. 

NSW national parks commits to net zero by 2028

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is set to become the first national parks agency in Australia to commit to achieving net zero, with the release of the NPWS Carbon Positive Plan.

Queensland

Europe’s largest port wants slice of Queensland hydrogen

Queensland could soon be exporting hydrogen to Europe after the Queensland Government agreed to a memorandum of understanding with the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The Port of Rotterdam has an ambition to import up to 20 million tonnes of hydrogen by 2050, starting with imports of ammonia in 2025.

Western Downs solar farm connects to the grid

Queensland’s Western Downs solar farm has reached a major milestone, with connection to the electricity grid now complete. The government-owned clean energy company, CleanCo, has committed to purchasing 320 MW of the 400 MW of solar energy the farm will produce.

Batteries to power Queensland jobs

Energy Queensland is calling for expressions of interest from supply companies to be part of a preferred supplier panel for large batteries suitable for connection to the distribution network.

Tasmania

Charging ahead to deliver more fast-charge and destination stations

The Tasmanian Government has announced its second EV ChargeSmart Program, expanding the state’s EV-charging network to more regional areas and key tourism destinations. The program will bring the network up to 80 chargers and public charging points to over 120.across the state.

Victoria

Breaking down barriers to renewable power

The Victorian Government is consulting with businesses on a platform that could help them access renewable energy contracts. The move is expected to reduce energy costs while creating new jobs on clean energy projects across the state.

Powering up new jobs in Victoria's forestry transition

Gippsland businesses are leading by example as they look to transition away from native forest harvesting and become more sustainable. Spiegel Energy have received $2 million from the Victorian Government to establish a renewable energy park at the Radial Timber mill.

Clean Economy Workforce Capacity Building Fund

The Clean Economy Workforce Capacity Building Fund creates opportunities for partnerships between the Victorian TAFE and training sector and industry to build workforce capacity. The CEWCBF develops and delivers training that supports the Victorian Government’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

Community groups save through solar program

Community facilities across Victoria are reaping the benefits of solar and battery installations thanks to the Victorian Government’s Solar on Public Buildings Program. 50 new sites have had solar installed under the program with a further 55 approved for installation over the coming months.

Western Australia

Transperth’s first electric bus getting ready for Joondalup trial

The very first Transperth electric bus has arrived in Perth in preparation for a trial in Joondalup. The trial will determine the reliability and efficiency of the buses, with factors to be evaluated including performance, energy efficiency, emissions reductions, life-cycle costs and risks.

$10 million to accelerate hydrogen fuelled transport

The WA Government is calling for transport operators, equipment manufacturers and hydrogen producers to submit an expression of interest for its Hydrogen Fuelled Transport Program. The program will provide financial support to the procurement and operation of hydrogen or green ammonia fuelled transport, and the installation of 1 or more refuelling stations.

Battery storage systems for regional towns

Marble Bar residents will soon have access to more rooftop solar energy, with the completion of a battery energy storage system (BESS) in the East Pilbara town. The BESS will enable over 100 kW of solar hosting capacity, expected to be available to customers next year.

Business

Energy technologies including lighting solar, buildings and automation

Sun Cable project charges ahead with global expert team

Sun Cable’s Australia-Asia PowerLink project continues to build momentum, with the announcement of a team of global experts to progress the $30 billion plus project. The Integrated Project Delivery Team (IPDT) brings together a group of world-leading engineering firms to form a global consortium for the project.

Woodside announces world-scale hydrogen and ammonia facility in WA (PDF 529 KB)

Woodside has unveiled plans for a world-scale hydrogen and ammonia production facility at a site in southern metropolitan Perth. The project, named H2Perth, will be built on approximately 130 hectares of vacant industrial land to be leased from the WA Government.

APA announces Mount Isa solar farm plan

Australian natural gas and electricity company, APA, has revealed plans for a 88 MW solar farm at Mica Creek in Mount Isa. APA has reached final investment decision to build the 44 MW stage 1 of the solar farm with an investment of more than $80 million.

Maoneng secures Gould Creek battery storage project development approval

Australian renewable energy developer Maoneng’s Gould Creek battery energy storage system project near Adelaide has reached a new milestone with development approval granted by the SA Government. The 450 MWh project will power up to 40,000 homes.

South Australia makes big leap towards 100% renewables as wind and solar set free

Transmission company, ElectraNet, has announced the installation of 4 synchronous condensers at Robertstown and Port Augusta. These big spinning machines mimic the actions of gas generators, without burning any fossil fuels. 

Biggest solar farm in Queensland connected to the grid

Neoen Australia’s massive 400 MW solar farm in the Queensland Western Downs region has reached a major milestone, with connection to the electricity grid in the state’s south-east now complete.

Massive lithium mine looks to solar, battery storage, to slash diesel costs

Pilbara Minerals last month inked a 15-year power purchase agreement with Contract Power Australia to build, operate and maintain a 6 MW solar plant at its lithium mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. The plan, which includes battery storage, aims to slash its diesel fuel consumption by millions of litres a year.

Sydney Trains goes zero emissions with renewable certificate deal

Sydney’s train network will become one of the first public transport systems in Australia to transition to net zero emissions after striking a deal to purchase renewable energy certificates to offset its electricity use.

CBA backs Providence Asset Group’s portfolio of 10 community-based solar farms

Commonwealth Bank has partnered with Providence Asset Group to fund a portfolio of 10 community-based solar farms in regional Victoria with a $33 million project financing agreement. These community-based solar projects are operational and cumulatively produce 100% renewable energy to power approximately 20,000 households each year.

Australian Retailers Association to play lead role in global Race to Zero

Australia’s largest and most diverse retail representative body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), has confirmed its commitment to climate action by joining the Race to Zero Accelerator Pledge. The pledge is backed by the United Nations and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Rio Tinto announces 2030 climate target

Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto has revealed a $7.5 billion plan to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. The reduction is 3 times greater than its previous target.

Coles secures path to 100% renewable electricity by end of FY25

Coles will source 100% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by the end of 2024-25 after the last of the power purchase agreements needed to meet the ambitious target were signed.

Net Zero Asset Managers initiative signatories disclose interim targets

43 investors have disclosed their first interim targets for the proportion of assets managed in line with achieving net zero by 2050, according to a new progress report.

Energy Network Australia Award winners announced

The recipients of Energy Network Australia’s Industry Contribution and Consumer Engagement Awards have been announced, highlighting the achievements of Australia’s energy network industry. Powerlink Queensland has been awarded for its consumer engagement approach during its 2023-27 revenue determination process.

Innovation and research

Innovations-related images including labs, microscopes and renewable technologies

Funding for renewable hydrogen projects

The Australian Government is providing funding to support 2 major hydrogen projects ˗̶  a feasibility study into development of a 40 MW hydrogen hub at Port of Newcastle in NSW, and infrastructure to deploy the largest hydrogen fuel-cell heavy haul trucks in the world.

AER joins international group to accelerate regulatory knowledge in market decarbonisation

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has joined international energy regulators in forming the global regulatory energy transition ‘Accelerator’. The initiative will share capabilities and knowledge in regulation as governments around the world aim for decarbonisation of energy markets.

$50m to ramp up microgrids in regional Australia

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is supporting microgrid pilot projects across regional Australia. The 6-year program aims to improve the reliability of electricity supply and demonstrate solutions to technical, regulatory and commercial barriers to microgrids.

Monash carbon capture student team wins US$250,000 XPRIZE

A team of Monash University students has won a major international prize for its work on carbon capture. The Monash Carbon Capture and Conversion team won one of 16 US$250,000 prizes in the XPRIZE Carbon Removal Competition launched earlier this year by Elon Musk and the XPRIZE Foundation.

BYD launches Battery-Box in Australia and New Zealand

Chinese automaker and battery manufacturer BYD has launched its new Battery-Box in Australia and New Zealand. Battery-Box uses the latest generation technology and offers modular scalability from 5 kWh to 320 kWh, making it deployable in residential and commercial situations, on and off-grid, and emergency back-up systems.

Switchable window material stays clear while blocking the sun's heat

As sunlight passes through a building's windows it can cause indoor temperatures to rise, to the point that the structure's power-hungry air conditioning system has to be used. A new switchable window material, however, blocks incoming heat while remaining mostly transparent.

Plants with electronic roots act as energy storage devices

A new research project out of Sweden's Linköping University has demonstrated how plant roots can be used as energy storage devices. The scientists see the process, which requires the plants to be watered with a special solution to make their roots electrically conductive, as proof-of-concept for a root-based supercapacitor.

European Space Agency acts to make air travel greener

ESA has worked with Inmarsat to develop a space-enabled digital alternative to traditional air traffic control. It enables pilots to take more efficient trajectories, saving fuel and cutting carbon emissions.

Reports and analysis

Logos of many goverment NGO energy aencies

Renewable and negative price records fall in the September quarter

The latest Quarterly Energy Dynamics report from the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) shows that renewable energy continued to set new records during the September quarter. It reached 61.4% instantaneous penetration and supplied 31.7% of total electricity generated in the National Electricity Market (NEM).

AEMO finds targeted investment critical to enable Victoria’s energy future

AEMO has released its annual report assessing the capability, performance and adequacy of Victoria’s transmission network to meet the state's energy needs over the next 10 years. The report found investment in large-scale renewable generation projects and rooftop solar are impacting the stability and complexity of power system operations.

CEFC leads the way to low zero emission future

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation Annual Report for 2020-21 has been tabled in the Australian Senate. The report describes a financial year of landmark investments which are driving decarbonisation into new and difficult to abate sectors, while countering the headwinds of COVID-19.

AEMC publishes final recommendations on review of the Gas Supply Guarantee

The Australian Energy Market Commission has recommended a 3-year extension of a safety net mechanism designed to support sufficient gas supplies for gas-powered generators. The AEMC released a final report on the review of the Gas Supply Guarantee.

CSIRO report highlights future of critical metals demand in the energy transition

A report by CSIRO has shown trajectories for metals used in EVs may be more complicated than what is currently accepted. The report uncovers insights into the metals' future supply and demand, as well as potential for retiring EV batteries to meet the storage requirements of a renewables-based electricity grid.

Strong potential for future Australia-Germany hydrogen exports

A new report from a landmark Australian-German study has found great potential for Australian hydrogen to supply growing demand in Germany.

New report offers roadmap for creating NSW hydrogen jobs of the future

The NSW Government has released a report outlining a roadmap to build a thriving Power-to-X (P2X) industry. P2X technologies use cheap, excess renewable energy to split abundant molecules for use as fuel, chemicals and feedstocks.

TasNetworks releases annual report

TasNetworks has continued to keep energy prices low, and returned a strong profit and dividend according to its latest annual report. Distribution network charges fell by an average of 5.2% for most households and small businesses, continuing a long-term downward trend.

Hydro Tasmania releases annual report

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Hydro Tasmania has maintained a secure level of energy, exceeded storage targets and consistently remained above the required High Reliability Level, according to its annual report.

Research reveals integrating solar energy in LNG industry cuts Australia’s carbon footprint

A report by Charles Darwin University examines the potential to decarbonise LNG facilities at sites across the NT, QLD and WA via electrification and large-scale renewables. The report was produced with support from Santos, Sun Cable and the Northern Territory Government.

EV sales headed for 5.6 million in 2021 as automakers target 40 million per year by 2030

A report by BloombergNEF (BNEF) has revealed passenger EV sales are set to jump over 80% in 2021 to 5.6 million units. The increase has been attributed to unprecedented industry and government commitments around the world over the last 2 years.

International

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

Countries at COP26 launch plan for net-zero shipping lanes

A coalition of 19 countries including the UK and the US agreed to create zero emissions shipping trade routes between ports to speed up the decarbonisation of the global maritime industry.

Industry leaders launch international smart grid project

Ausgrid, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution and the Enel Group have joined forces to launch the International community for Local Smart Grids (ICLSG). The initiative will see community energy groups and electricity networks across the world share key learnings and support a collaborative transition to a decarbonised future.

New Zealand flags 'cash for clunkers' scheme to drive shift to EVs

The New Zealand government has flagged plans to introduce a 'cash for clunkers' scheme, incentivising low-income drivers to swap out their fossil fuelled cars for a discounted EV. The plans form part of a package of economy-wide emissions reductions policy proposals.

Thailand switches on 45 MW floating solar plant, plans for 15 more

One of the world’s largest hybrid floating solar arrays has begun commercial operation on a hydropower dam in the east of Thailand. There are plans for 15 more such projects to come, totalling 2,725 MW across the country.

Hawaii targets another 50,000 rooftop solar systems

Hawaiian Electric has set a goal of cutting carbon emissions from power generation by 70% by 2030. This will not only shutter the state’s last coal plant in 2022 but aims to add nearly 50,000 rooftop solar systems across the islands.

Cheap, abundant renewable energy powers cluster of Quebec data centres

With vast amounts of cheap and renewable electricity mostly generated from hydro dams, Quebec is seeing more and more tech giants setting up power-hungry data, yet sustainable, centres in the Canadian province.