A monthly round-up of energy news from Australia and around the world
The 2020-21 Budget has allocated almost $2.5 billion to a number of initiatives in the energy sector.
The new Low Emissions Technology Statement is the first milestone in Australia’s Technology Investment Roadmap. It outlines 5 priority technologies and economic stretch goals to make new technologies as cost-effective as existing technologies.
$1.9 billion will be invested in future technologies to lower emissions, support jobs, cut household costs and improve energy supply reliability. There is additional investment and expanded focus of Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
The east coast gas market will be reset to create a more competitive and transparent Australian Gas Hub by unlocking gas supply, delivering an efficient pipeline and transportation market, and empowering gas customers.
An investment of $211 million into new domestic fuel storage will support local refineries to stay open wherever commercially possible.
A large target has been set for the electricity sector to deliver 1000MW of new dispatchable energy to replace the Liddell power station before it closes down in 2023.
Building on the $5.17 million for preparatory work on CopperString, further support will help the project progress to final investment decision in 2021.
A $28.5 million investment will fund energy infrastructure projects to increase Western Australia’s energy security while lowering costs and reducing emissions.
$800 million has been committed to enable businesses to take advantage of digital technologies, including further support for the rollout of the Consumer Data Right to the banking and energy sectors.
Other policies and projects
A new marketplace is brokering deals between large energy users and renewable energy developers. With support from ARENA, the Melbourne-based Renewable Energy Hub is developing a trading platform and new types of financial contracts tailored to the characteristics of renewables.
ARENA has announced $3 million in funding to Australian start-up SunDrive to advance the commercial development of their low cost, high efficiency solar manufacturing process in Australia.
The Energy Security Board has released its Post 2025 Market Design Consultation Paper in which it has outlined its vision for making the Australian energy market fit for purpose in 2025 and beyond.
Australian hydrogen could help Germany to decarbonise its energy supplies after the two governments agreed to assess the feasibility of developing a hydrogen supply chain.
The Government of Western Australia is exploring the development of a big battery to strengthen the state’s power system. The proposed 100MW battery will be bigger than 20 tennis courts and have the capacity to power 160,000 homes for 2 hours.
A globally competitive renewable hydrogen precinct could soon become a reality in Western Australia as the state government casts the net worldwide for expressions of interest from commercial groups looking to produce or use renewable hydrogen.
The Queensland Government will add 13 new electric vehicle charging stations to the Queensland Electric Vehicle Super Highway (QESH), boosting the total number of charge points to 31.
Work will start before the end of the year on a $380 million wind farm in far north Queensland, thanks to a sales deal with publicly owned CleanCo, which has agreed to buy 110MW of the wind farm’s output.
The Government of Victoria is helping local businesses use more renewable energy technologies with the announcement of more than $1 million in grants in Round 5 of the New Energy Jobs Fund.
Fuel retailers in Tasmania are now required to update fuel prices in real time, providing improved transparency for consumers. For access to real-time prices, a website and free app are available to help motorists easily search for fuel by locations, price and fuel type or brand.
The Tasmanian Energy Saver Loan and Subsidy Program has been a major success for Tasmanians looking to lower their power bills with energy-efficient products.
The winners of the Australian Capital Territory's fifth Renewables Reverse Auction will build large-scale battery storage systems. The batteries will support the territory’s own grid, providing power to help avoid blackouts during periods of high demand and when fossil fuel powered generators fail in heatwave conditions.
In Newcastle, the smart city concept has penetrated all levels of the city from education to sustainability to smart energy, tourism, the arts, start-up innovations and digital city-based infrastructure.
AGL has launched the country’s first subscription service for EVs in a move the industry hopes may boost the nation’s low-uptake rate. A pilot phase for the scheme includes installation of charging stations at customers’ homes, to cover Sydney and Melbourne.
The Tesla big battery in South Australia delivered a powerful profit to its Paris-based owner, Neoen, in the first half of 2020. This was largely due to the key role it and other big batteries played when a massive storm blew down the state’s main link to Victoria.
Supermarket giant Woolworths has become Australia's first corporate retailer to have its emissions reduction goals endorsed by an independent, UN-backed body amid rising pressure from investors for companies to take climate action seriously.
The parent company of national booze retailing giant, Dan Murphy’s, is ramping up its renewable energy plans in South Australia, with solar PV installed on two stores in Adelaide, a winemaker in the Barossa and a packaging facility in Angaston.
Wesfarmers 2020 Annual Report contains updates on its sustainability performance and commitments, including new ambitions for its businesses to reach net-zero emissions.
The CEFC is investing up to $30 million to deliver home energy systems to social housing tenants in South Australia. The project will see the installation of solar and battery storage systems across more than 3000 residential buildings while delivering Australia’s largest virtual power plant.
AGL Energy has again extended the reach of home solar and battery virtual power plant with the launch of battery sales and installations for residential customers in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.
Australians with rooftop solar who can’t export their surplus solar energy back to the grid due to constrained networks will soon be able to enter the market. SA Power Networks will use government funding to trial a new approach to integrating rooftop solar with the grid using smart inverter technology.
The Australian Competition Tribunal has rejected rule changes aimed at restricting access to buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) rooftop solar finance, arguing that the rules will do more harm than good to consumers and the market.
One of Canberra’s first all-electric, gas-free suburbs, Ginninderry Estate, is set to host a potentially ground-breaking residential battery storage trial.
Ten homes across the Canberra region have opened their doors, virtually, to showcase their sustainable designs at the annual Sustainable House Day.
Most Australian homes have been built to notoriously poor standards. Decision-makers typically fail to appreciate the importance of a low NatHERS star rating, even though it has profound impacts on households’ health and budgets.
Innovation and research
The Australian Government is partnering with some of the nation's universities to support research projects that include addressing end-of-life issues for solar PV panels.
University of Sydney Nano Institute and School of Physics will lead multi-institutional research into extending the lifetime of perovskite solar energy cells, in an effort to make them truly cost-effective.
Researchers from the University of Newcastle have been developing the energy storage technology called 'miscibility gap alloy' for 9 years. The stackable, brick-like invention relies on carefully contained phase change materials that store a huge amount of energy as heat.
A subsidiary of German electric utility RWE is to investigate the possibility of vast salt caverns, currently used for gas storage, as large-scale organic flow batteries for electricity generated from renewable sources.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have developed a wearable electricity generator, which harvests energy from the wind as you walk, with the claim it can power small sensors and LEDs.
By focusing on the way lithium moves between two electrodes, scientists in the Netherlands have come up with a battery design that promises much faster charging rates.
Shipowners and operators may be able to decrease their fuel-related costs and pollutant emissions up to 30%, thanks to a new automated wind-assisted propulsion systems (also called wingsails) created by Spanish company, Bound4blue.
By 2050, it is predicted that we will have more plastic in our oceans than fish, unless a solution is found. Scientists have been working to create renewable-powered solutions that can slowly start to clean up our oceans and put an end to this major issue.
Reports and analysis
The Australian Energy Statistics (AES) update 2020 contains the latest report and dataset for 2018-19. The AES is the authoritative and official source of energy statistics for Australia to support decision-making, and help understand how our energy supply and use is changing.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has published its annual top-level numbers of the global energy mix, including supply and demand, prices, research budgets, outlooks and indicators.
Despite a steep fall in rooftop solar installations in Victoria due to the COVID-19 lockdown, September saw 250MW in rooftop solar installed across Australia with record highs in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.
A new report from the University of Adelaide has found the rental housing sector must set minimum standards for energy performance to protect the health and wellbeing of vulnerable Australians.
Transforming the power sector alone will only get the world one-third of the way to net-zero emissions by 2070, according to a new report from the IEA.
Electricity storage inventions have grown 14% per year over the past decade, according to a new joint study by the European Patent Office and the IEA.
After years of slow progress, technologies to capture carbon emissions and store or reuse them are gaining momentum. This trend will need to accelerate significantly for the world to achieve its energy and climate goals, according to a special report released by the IEA.
Scania has launched its range of electric trucks, a milestone in its aim to be leading in the transition to a sustainable transport system. The high-performance plug-in hybrid and fully electric trucks initially focus on urban applications, including distribution to retailers.
Volvo Penta announced that 3 of its electric fire trucks will be deployed for action in fire departments in Berlin, Amsterdam and Dubai. The trucks have been in development for 3 years as the first hybrid tank firefighting vehicles.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the company will produce more affordable EVs by 2023 for around A$35,000, thanks to massive reductions in battery cell production costs.
Known globally for its trucks and muscle cars, General Motors has scored a surprise hit in China with its local partners: a petite EV that sells for less than $5000.
A Swedish consortium including ship design firm Wallenius Marine has unveiled a modern-day sailing ship which will be capable of carrying up to 7000 vehicles and be able to reduce emissions for the trans-Atlantic crossing by 90%.