A monthly round-up of energy news from Australia and around the world including impacts of COVID-19.
Government policies and projects
Snowy Hydro has been given approval by the Australian Government to commence main works on Snowy 2.0, Australia's largest renewable energy project. This step follows final environmental regulatory approvals for the project in June.
The Australian Government is supporting consumer choice in future fuels through a new trial of smart chargers for EVs. Under the trial, the government will partner with Origin Energy to install 150 smart chargers at homes and workplaces across the National Electricity Market (NEM).
A project that will increase renewable energy generation in Alice Springs and deliver reliable power to nearby towns has received a funding injection from the Australian Government
Electric bike startup Zoomo has completed a funding round led by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) with $16 million to expand into various electric delivery modes including parcel, mail and grocery deliveries.
The Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) has co-funded 2 Australian manufacturers to assist with the development of technology to generate power from air. Capricorn Power and Cool Mine will use the funding to advance their ground-breaking heat-to-electricity generator and thermoelectric generator (TEG) technology, respectively.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)’s latest Power System Requirements reference paper outlines a range of interdependent technical and operational needs that must be met at all times to maintain a secure and reliable system.
AEMO is pushing for new powers to ‘switch off’ rooftop solar as a matter of urgency, saying the technology is posing system risks on multiple levels, including minimum demand, voltage management and system strength issues.
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has published its final guidelines to make the Integrated System Plan (ISP) actionable. The guidelines aim to provide certainty, transparency and accountability for AEMO, transmission businesses, and stakeholders to promote efficient investment in electricity services.
The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC)’s Reliability Panel has begun its system restart standard review. The panel will consider how new technologies can help restore the grid in the event of major supply disruptions or black system events. The panel has published a consultation paper for its review of the system restart standard.
The NSW Government is investing $10 million to improve environmental performance by diverting end-of-life solar panel systems from landfill, with the first round of grants now open.
The Government of Western Australia is extending buyback payments for rooftop solar PV to include payments for energy exported from eligible home batteries and EVs to support the uptake of these new technologies.
The Government of Western Australia will bring forward its Renewable Hydrogen Strategy targets from 2040 to 2030 and invest in 9 initiatives worth $22 million to develop hydrogen supply in the state.
The Government of Victoria is investing $664,000 to construct more than 15 new EV charging stations in the state’s northwest.
The ACT Government has announced that the Canberra Hospital expansion will run on 100% renewable electricity -- a world-leading climate action initiative.
Businesses around Australia have heard the call of clean energy. More than 80 organisations have signed renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) with solar and wind farms in Australia since 2017.
Hydrogen vehicles are a step closer to taking over Sydney’s roads after energy infrastructure company, Jemena, signed a new deal to supply Australia’s emerging zero-emission vehicle industry with renewably generated hydrogen.
Fortescue Metals Group has teamed with US start-up Hyzon Motors to build a fleet of hydrogen fuel-cell buses. The world’s fourth-biggest exporter of iron ore plans to deploy the coaches in the Pilbara mining region in Western Australia from mid-next year.
The commencement of construction of SolarShare’s solar project in Canberra is a milestone that’s been a long time in the works. SolarShare hopes its model will provide a pathway to ownership of solar power for community members who may be prevented from directly investing in their own solar PV, such as renters or those living in apartments.
AGL Energy is set to transition its 400-strong company vehicle fleet to EVs by 2030, and has become the first Australian company to sign on to the global EV100 initiative which encourages the corporate shift to EVs.
Jemena has collaborated with professional services firm, Deloitte, to build a new cloud-based application that delivers valuable insights from its smart meter data to help customers make better energy decisions.
Soluna Australia’s lithium-ion residential energy storage systems have achieved accreditation with the Clean Energy Council and are now eligible for incentives under government programs.
Supermarket giant Aldi will be using offsite wind farms and onsite solar panels to power their 555 stores and 8 distribution centres in Australia’s largest commercial on-site solar rollout to date.
There are nearly 8GW of wind projects generating in the NEM, 4GW under construction around the country and at least another 6GW in various stages of planning. The workload for specialised wind maintenance crews is set to grow very fast. What does it take to do this type of work?
The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources has released new free house designs to support homebuilders and industry to design comfortable, energy-efficient homes.
Housing Plus has been awarded a further contract with the NSW Government to build an additional 60 energy efficient social and affordable homes across the state, backed by the CEFC.
A UNSW study has found that voltages on power lines are sometimes over the upper limit of what is allowed. This can result in less room for households wanting to feed solar energy back into the grid.
Innovation and research
Networks of solar-powered homes that generate and store energy to feed into the grid, also known as virtual power plants, could be the future of solar power. The Government of Western Australia is set to trial a virtual power plant in suburban Perth.
Western Australia’s leading clean jobs think tank has launched a plan to save WA schools millions of dollars while creating thousands of new jobs and cutting carbon emissions by 130,000 tonnes each year.
A South Australian company has developed a ‘stethoscope’ for wind turbines to pick up early signs of damage to blades that could only be getting worse.
CSIRO is collaborating with the Bureau of Meteorology on a new research project to pave the way for a marine heatwave forecasting service. Skillful prediction of extreme events can assist governments, industries and communities to respond and adapt to the growing impact of marine heatwaves in a changing climate.
Tesla batteries could have an energy density high enough to power an electric plane by 2024, Elon Musk suggested recently.
While crop-spraying drones do have some advantages over full-size piloted aircraft, they're limited by their battery range. Dutch startup Drone4Agro is developing a solution to that problem, though, in the form of a range-extended electric multicopter.
A short-range battery-powered Pipistrel Velis Electro electric aircraft crew hopes to show that carbon-free flight is not only possible, but can outdo jet-fueled flight on efficiency and speed.
A 'photosheet', developed by a team from the University of Cambridge, is a significant step toward achieving artificial photosynthesis—a process mimicking the ability of plants to convert sunlight into energy.
Roughly 1 billion cars and trucks zoom about the world's roadways. Only a few run on hydrogen. This could change after a breakthrough achieved by researchers at the University of Copenhagen.
A simple method for making clear coatings that can block heat and conduct electricity could radically cut the cost of energy-saving smart windows and heat-repelling glass. The spray-on coatings developed by researchers at RMIT University are ultra-thin, cost-effective and rival the performance of current industry standards for transparent electrodes.
A cellphone power source that lasts nine years. An auto-battery pack that lasts nearly a century. A pacemaker that is powered to last 28,000 years. Battery company NDB says successful early test results on a nano-diamond battery brings them closer to realising such claims.
Researchers in Saudi Arabia have developed thin, organic solar cells with advantages over others of their type. The new cells are more efficient, made using more common elements, and can be inkjet-printed onto surfaces, making them light and flexible enough to power wearable electronics.
Evolving waste-to-energy and biomass plant technologies are enabling facilities to become more sophisticated, energy-efficient, competitive and safe.
One of the world's biggest impending environmental problems is battery waste, which is set to explode globally in the next 10-15 years – and it's already in a bad state.
Reports and analysis
AEMO’s 2020 Electricity Statement of Opportunities (ESOO) forecasts electricity supply reliability in the NEM over a 10-year period. The analysis observes an improved reliability outlook driven by the rapid development of distributed and large-scale renewables, increased transmission capacity and reduced peak demand.
The West Australia grid has set a new record low for minimum demand as rooftop solar continues to increase its share of generation, and the state government announces it is reshaping solar export tariffs to encourage storage, Evs and west-facing solar panels.
The Clean Energy Regulator has released the July ‘Large-scale Renewable Energy Target’ market data. The data provides information about the supply and demand factors that influence the 2020 Renewable Energy Target and tracks progress towards achieving the target.
A new report by the Australian and New Zealand Green Building Councils warns of the increasing risk of industrial buildings worth billions becoming stranded if they can’t show that they are low or zero carbon. The report shows that a minimal 2% upfront cost to support green design can result, on average, in lifecycle savings of 20% of total construction costs.
Regional Queenslanders want to help power the nation’s recovery from the coronavirus catastrophe with new approaches to key industries such as energy, tourism, and agriculture. 'What Queensland Wants', is a new report following a year-long consultation process.
A vast transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is crucial to slowing climate change. But building solar panels, wind turbines and other renewable energy infrastructure requires mining for materials. If not done responsibly, this may damage fauna, flora and ecosystems.
Significant and continued cost reductions to solar PV and wind technologies, as well as cost reductions to electrolysers, will mean that the cost of hydrogen could ‘rapidly’ reach $A2/kg, according to a new paper.
The ‘State of Electric Vehicles August 2020’ report provides a snapshot of the EV industry in Australia with analysis and data on the market, the OEM sector, charging infrastructure, mining and manufacturing, energy and environment, and government policy.
Visit australia.gov.au for the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) news, updates and advice from government agencies across Australia.
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 NSW Government has launched a $45 million grant program designed to cushion small businesses from the economic impacts of the southern border closure. Grants can be used to pay for unavoidable expenses such as utilities.
The Tasmanian Government is helping small businesses cushion the blow from the COVID-19 pandemic with one-off grants of $1000 to support eligible customers with their energy costs.
The continued growth of Australia’s renewables sector, and a sharp fall in the consumption of transport fuel because of COVID-19, have contributed to a fall in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. But most of the cuts may only be temporary.
The latest Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory reveals the impact of COVID-19 restrictions have been most marked in the transport sector, with 26.7% less petrol and 79% less jet fuel consumed in the June quarter 2020. Emissions from consumption of liquid fuels were 17.9% lower than in the June quarter 2019.
The Biofuture Platform, a 20-country, multi-stakeholder initiative, has launched a set of voluntary principles offering guidance to governments and policymakers on the need to promote the sustainable bioeconomy in both short-term relief packages and broader post-COVID economic recovery programs.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is collaborating with the region’s investor-owned utilities to provide clean and energy-efficient solutions to more than 350,000 low-to-moderate income households throughout the state.
London-based intelligent energy platform Kaluza has gone live with a grid flexibility service which combines a range of smart home devices including vehicle-to-grid (V2G), domestic EV smart charging, and sonnenBatterie charging and discharging.
The global production of zero emissions steel has taken a massive step forward, with a world-leading Swedish project completing the construction of a world-first fossil-free steel pilot plant in Luleå, Sweden.
Global beverage maker and producer Diageo (who makes Guinness, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan’s and many others) announced last month that its new 72,000 square-foot Kentucky whiskey distillery is expected to be carbon neutral.
With current indigenous fossil fuel resources incompatible with climate and sustainable development goals, the region can now seize the moment to put renewable energy sources at the forefront of its energy planning and growth agenda.