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e-extra Summer 2021

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

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Government

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Further support for CopperString 2.0

The Australian Government is providing up to $11 million to progress the CopperString 2.0 project, a proposed high-voltage transmission line, to a final investment decision in 2021.

Boosting Australia's diesel storage

The Australian Government's Boosting Australia's Diesel Storage Program will provide up to $200 million in competitive grants to support the construction of an additional 780 megalitres of diesel storage. The program will run over 3 years to 2023–24 with projects expected to start construction in mid-2021.

EV charging trial rests impact on grid

The Australian Government is funding a trial to understand the effects of electric vehicle (EV) charging on the power grid. The trial will monitor the charging habits of EV drivers to assess the network conditions and impact on the grid in real time.

Supporting future fuel technologies and consumer choice

The Australian Government has released a discussion paper to further inform the development of Australia’s Future Fuels Strategy. The paper considers the role of current and emerging fuel types and technologies.

Restoring the health of the national electricity market

The Energy Security Board (ESB) has released the Post-2025 Market Design Directions Paper for the National Electricity Market (NEM). The paper sets out the direction of market reforms the ESB will pursue through its post-2025 work. It identifies 4 areas of reform to address key challenges facing Australia’s electricity supply.

Stronger penalties demand energy businesses prioritise compliance with the law

New and stronger penalties will provide greater incentive for businesses to comply with laws designed to protect Australian electricity and gas consumers. In the most serious cases, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) can seek penalties of up to $10 million (or more for large companies) for   breaches.

Regional hydrogen-technology clusters launched across Australia

National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) has announced a $1.85 million investment in 13 hydrogen clusters across all Australian states and territories. The establishment of a nationwide hydrogen cluster will position Australia as a major competitor in the global hydrogen fuel industry.

Helping small businesses reduce their power bills

Through the Australian Government’s Energy Efficient Communities Program (EECP), 336 small businesses have been awarded grants of up to $20,000. The grants will assist them with upgrades to more energy-efficient equipment, conducting energy audits or installing energy-monitoring equipment.

ACT

Canberra light rail gets Australia’s first PPP green loan

The first stage of the Canberra Light Rail project has been certified as a $280 million green loan under the Climate Bond Initiative. It’s the first green loan on a public-private partnership (PPP) transport project to be executed in Australia.

NSW

Renewable future for retired coal mine

The Australian Government and NSW Government will fund a feasibility study into turning a former underground coal mine into pumped hydro energy storage (PHES). Centennial Coal will investigate the technical feasibility of repurposing its disused Newstan Colliery at Fassifern, near Newcastle.

SolarHub awarded $5.4 million grant to deliver Smart Distributed Batteries project

SolarHub has been awarded funding from the NSW Government to develop a 6MW virtual power plant (VPP) to strengthen the NSW electricity network. The Smart Distributed Batteries project offers a point of sale discount to approximately 650 residential and small business customers to encourage battery installation.

Hydro-powered battery project a first for Australia

A $32 million hydro-powered battery project near Albury NSW will be Australia’s first, following approval by the NSW Government. The battery will be charged by the nearby Hume Hydro Power Station that already provides power to 40,000 homes.

Northern Territory

Major milestone reached in NT renewable energy project

The NT Government and Sun Cable have signed a milestone agreement that will advance development of the $22 billion Australia-ASEAN Power Link (AAPL). The project will see up to $8 billion invested into the Territory, which will host the largest solar farm and renewable energy system in the world.

Queensland

Queensland collaborates with Japan on green hydrogen plant

Queensland continues to grow its reputation as an ideal location for renewable hydrogen projects following the announcement of a partnership between government-owned CS Energy and IHI Corporation Japan. The companies will assess the feasibility of establishing a renewable hydrogen demonstration plant next to CS Energy’s Kogan Creek Power Station on Queensland’s Western Downs.

Qld residential developments go 100% solar and battery

Two new Queensland Government-led residential developments will be powered by 100% solar and battery, with home owners expected to save up to $1600 per year. The homes will come with solar PV, battery storage systems, heat pump hot water systems, WiFi air conditioning and will be EV-charger ready.

South Australia

First grid scale flow battery to be built in South Australia

Australia’s first ever utility-scale vanadium flow battery is set to be installed in regional South Australia. The project will demonstrate the potential impact that flow batteries could provide in reaching the energy storage target in the Australian Government’s first Low Emissions Technology Statement.

Storing excess solar from the grid using hot water systems

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $1.98 million in funding to Rheem Australia Pty Ltd to conduct its Active Hot Water Control project using hot water systems in SA. The project will establish a VPP to aggregate the electrical load of hot water heaters, curb electricity use at peak times or provide network services to the grid.

Free electric vehicle charging network trial in Adelaide

ARENA has announced $983,776 in funding to JOLT Charge Pty Ltd to develop and trial its free EV charging network in Adelaide. JOLT will install 21 EV fast charging units that are embedded in roadside advertising panels across Adelaide.

World's largest moveable solar array deployed in South Australia

More than 30,000 solar PV panels are being positioned at the Happy Valley Reservoir in Adelaide’s south in a project claimed to be the world’s largest fully moveable solar array.

South Australia's Climate Change Action Plan launched

The SA Government's newly launched Climate Change Action Plan includes 68 actions to increase investment in low emissions and climate resilient business over the next 5 years. The plan aims to halve emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Tasmania

Tasmania energy and emissions reduction agreement

The Australian Government and Tasmanian Government have signed a State Energy and Emissions Reduction Deal. Through this agreement, the governments will work closely to further develop the Marinus Link and Battery of the Nation projects.

Victoria

Securing Victoria's energy system

In a move to secure Victoria’s energy system, the Australian Government will safeguard the Portland aluminium smelter’s continued delivery of emergency power reserves to the market. This will be achieved through a guaranteed reliability and emergency reserve trader (RERT) revenue of up to $76.8 million over 4 years.

Victoria sets new energy targets to reduce bills and emissions

The Victorian Government has set new targets for the Victorian Energy Upgrades (VEU) program and will expand the eligible technologies. Program participants implementing energy upgrades are expected to see annual savings of at least $120 and $510 for households and businesses respectively.

Victoria's Dundonell wind turbines now online

The first project of the Victorian Renewable Energy Target Auction (VRET) is now sending power to the grid with all 80 turbines at the Dundonnell Wind Farm now online.

Ellinbank the cream of the crop for sustainable farming

With funding from the Victorian Government, Gippsland's Ellinbank SmartFarm is on track to become the world’s first carbon-neutral dairy farm. Technologies to be trialled at the farm include solar, battery storage, wind, pumped hydro, temperature management and the conversion of waste to energy.

Western Australia

Investment in regional WA to convert waste into energy

ARENA is investing $3.9 million in a $9.4 million project that will turn local landfill waste into energy at Collie Shire in WA. Renergi Pty Ltd will construct and operate a new waste-to-energy demonstration plant that will process 1.5 tonnes of organic waste each hour.

Changes to WA's energy sector governance

The WA Government has made a suite of regulatory changes to improve governance arrangements for the state’s energy sector. WA is experiencing a major transformation due to the rapid uptake of rooftop solar and battery storage, and increasing levels of large-scale renewable generators such as wind and solar farms.

WA’s green hydrogen potential flooded with global interest

Last year the WA Government called for expressions of Interest into its potentially 1.5 GW solar and wind hydrogen hub on the state’s midwest. 65 companies from around the world have submitted expressions of interest in making it happen.

$2 million investment for major Pilbara green hydrogen project

The WA Government will provide $2 million for Yara Pilbara Fertiliser's YURI Green Ammonia Project on the Burrup Peninsula. The project will use solar energy to produce renewable hydrogen, which will in turn produce green ammonia for export to global markets.

VPPs to become a reality in WA-first

Project Symphony is a WA Government initiative that will demonstrate how large numbers of batteries, rooftop solar panels and large appliances (such as air conditioners and electric hot water systems) can be co-ordinated into a VPP.

Contracts awarded for Australia’s largest SPS rollout

$17 million worth of contracts will be awarded to local businesses to revolutionise power supply in regional WA. From July 2021, 98 stand-alone power systems (SPS) will be deployed across the state's network marking Australia's largest single rollout of SPS.

$6 million worth of solar panels installed on WA public housing

The Smart Energy for Social Housing plan has commenced with 10 public housing properties receiving rooftop solar panels. Hundreds of tenants are expected to save up to 20% on their annual energy bills.

Electricity prices pilot to harness the sun’s rays

A new Midday Saver tariff to help households take more advantage of solar power is being trialled in WA. The tariff offers lower rates for electricity in the middle of the day, compared to in the evenings when the cost to supply power is more expensive.

WA launches $13 million household energy scheme

The WA Government has announced a $13 million Household Energy Efficiency Scheme which will assist vulnerable households in reducing their energy costs. The 4-year scheme, beginning in mid-2021,  will provide household energy assessments, tailored education and LED lightbulb replacements.

Business

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Gladstone may produce hydrogen by 2023 as Sumitomo ramps up

Gladstone could be producing hydrogen by 2023 as Japanese giant Sumitomo ramps up plans for a production plant in the city. The company says the plant would initially produce 250-300 tonnes of hydrogen annually, with plans to scale up over time.

Hydro, Macquarie, Shell in 'game-changer' storage deal

Hydro Tasmania has struck the first-ever deal for the trade of stored energy, introducing a new type of financial contract expected to be popular with electricity retailers wanting to handle escalating price risk. Under the contract signed with Macquarie Group and Shell, Hydro Tasmania sells the rights to power stored in its system during the highest-priced part of the day and buys energy to charge its plant when prices are low.

BHP signs deal with WA’s biggest solar farm to supply half of refinery’s power needs

Global mining giant BHP has signed a deal with the Merredin solar farm to supply up to half of the electricity needs for the company’s West Kwinana refinery in WA. BHP says the 10-year contract will allow it to cut emissions from electricity use at the refinery by up to 50%.

BP and Qantas form strategic partnership to advance net-zero emissions

BP and Qantas have announced a strategic partnership to work on opportunities to reduce carbon emissions in the aviation sector. The partnership will contribute to the development of a sustainable aviation fuel industry.

Vestas secures turbine contract for another Victorian wind farm

Plans to build a nearly 97MW wind farm in Victoria’s western district are gathering pace. Danish manufacturer Vestas will supply turbines for the Global Power Generation-owned Hawkesdale project.

Community battery ‘solar sponges’ to be trialled across Melbourne network

A series of community-scale batteries will be installed across the inner-city suburbs of Melbourne, in a joint venture between local network distribution company CitiPower and the not-for-profit Yarra Energy Foundation.

Australia’s largest privately owned shopping centre signs solar deal

Another Australian shopping centre has joined the rush to renewables. Narellan Town Centre in western Sydney is set to undergo a $40 million solar transformation after signing a 30-year energy partnership with CEP Energy.

PICA Group secures Australian-first strata solar electricity deal

Strata property services company, PICA Group, has secured an industry-first solar energy deal, expected to save 64 of their strata buildings an estimated $681,000 annually. It’s the first time a strata organisation has created economies of scale to negotiate a low-cost, low-carbon energy deal on behalf of its customer base.

Flinders University goes 100% renewable with wind farm deal

South Australia’s Flinders University has become the latest tertiary institution in Australia to source all of its electricity from renewable energy. In this case, it’s through a mix of on-campus solar and an off-take deal with the nearby Willogoleche wind farm.

Households

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How renovations can boost your home energy rating

Thousands of Australians have renovated during the pandemic. CSIRO building experts say it's also a perfect time to lift home energy ratings.

Fibro house environmental makeover offers blueprint for energy-efficient renovations

A regional NSW sustainable building consultant has renovated a fibro cottage in one of the state's cool-climate regions. The home is now a low-maintenance, low-cost building that produces more energy than it uses.

Cheapest mortgages, energy, mobile prices in years

Householders can cash in on some of the cheapest prices seen in years on major bills, such as mortgages, energy, mobile phones and even petrol. However, be prepared to switch plans or providers to claim your share of the bounty.

Household electricity prices to fall over next 3 years

Households can expect to be paying about 9% less for electricity in 2023 than they do today, according to the latest annual residential electricity price trends report by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC).

Home battery uptake hits new highs in Victoria in final months of 2020

Victoria has rounded out 2020 with a couple of encouraging home energy storage milestones. The latest data on the state’s Solar Homes program showed a record total of 429 applications for the solar battery rebate in November and 183 home battery installations in December.

ACT’s rooftop solar boom

Canberra’s rooftops are playing a larger part in the ACT’s 100% renewable electricity supply, as the number of solar generators increased by over 17% during the last financial year.

Solar panel fire season is all year round and it’s getting more intense in Australia

Almost 1 in 4 Australian houses now have rooftop solar panels with more systems installed in the first 9 months of 2020 than in all of any previous year. But while the number of the number of solar panel installations is increasing, so are the number of incidents reported by fire and emergency services.

Reports and analysis

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Australia sets renewables records in 2020

The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) estimates that a record 7GW of new renewable capacity was installed last year, which is an 11% increase on the previous record set in 2019. The record was driven by a solar installation boom with 1 in 4 Australian homes now having solar – the highest uptake of household solar in the world.

Record-setting quarter reflects evolving energy trends

The uptake of residential and commercial solar reduced grid demand and drove record low emissions in Australia’s electricity systems in the fourth quarter of 2020. The analysis is featured in the latest Quarterly Energy Dynamics (QED) report by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

New electricity and gas bill benchmarks for residential customers

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has released the residential electricity and gas consumption benchmarks for 2020 and accompanying report. Every 3 years, the AER produces the benchmarks that show an average estimate of energy usage for households of different sizes in local zones around Australia.

Audit undertaken on CEFC investments

The Auditor-General has released its audit report in investments by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). The report provides assurance over the ongoing management of the portfolio of investment projects and how well the CEFC is meeting its legislative objective.

Renewables still the cheapest new-build power in Australia

A CSIRO report has accurately calculated the integration costs of renewables in electricity generation and found that solar and wind continue to be the cheapest sources of energy in Australia.

Coal generation drops to lowest ever in modern power grid

Coal generation fell to its lowest level in the history of the modern power grid last year, as cheaper solar and wind generation surged. Coal's retreat was exacerbated by maintenance and outages in NSW's coal fleet.

Standards evolve to support a reliable electricity grid as solar PV continues to grow

Standards Australia has published revised standards for household and small-scale commercial inverters, which play an essential role in interfacing between renewable energy sources and the electricity grid.

Report says co-investment is key to unlocking solar on rental properties

A new report by The Australia Institute has found significant interest among both tenants and landlords to co-invest in the installation of a solar system. The report sets out recommendations for government which would increase residential solar installations on SA rental properties.

Datacentre energy efficiency: Is it time for a big switch-off?

The clock is ticking on sustainable IT and energy use, and much more can be done to save energy, power and reduce emissions at a datacentre level. So why isn’t it happening?

Report tracks global oil and gas pipelines

A new report provides the results of a global survey of oil, gas, and natural gas liquids (NGL) transmission pipelines carried out by Global Energy Monitor at the close of 2020.

Study shows renewables have overtaken fossil fuels in Europe

A report from energy analytics firms Ember Climate and AgoraEnegiewende shows renewable energy rose to 38% of Europe's total electricity in 2020, generating more energy than fossil fuels across the region for the first time. The same milestone was reached in Germany, Spain and the UK.

Innovation and research

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$4.5m for Monash initiatives driving transition to sustainable energy

ARENA has announced more than $4.5 million in funding for 2 Monash University projects to develop materials for the global transition to a sustainable energy future.

Zero-emissions power and hydrogen technology gets green light

Low Emission Technology Australia (LETA) has committed to invest up to US$5 million to test technology that would see power and hydrogen generated with near-zero to negative carbon emissions while producing feedstocks for other critical industries.

Australian invented ‘catalyst’ may be key to creating a global hydrogen economy

Australian inventors Star Scientific have developed an innovative new catalyst material, dubbed the Hydrogen Energy Release Optimiser or HERO, which it says has the ability to convert hydrogen into heat without combustion. The material could be the key to shifting the global energy system to hydrogen.

Orchard futures bright with SmartFarm solar shade

Scientists at the Tatura SmartFarm are thinking outside the box by examining how solar panels could be used to protect produce from extreme heat events, widening their on-farm uses.

Wave energy technology in spotlight on WA's south coast

WA's south coast city of Albany could be a showroom for wave energy technology after the deployment of a monitoring buoy by the University of WA’s Wave Energy Research Centre.

Austal unveils new range of electric-powered high-speed ferries

Austal Australia has launched the VOLTA series of electric-powered high-speed ferry solutions that combine all new, lightweight, low-resistance hull forms. They are specifically designed, tested and optimised for electric-power propulsion with state-of-the-art lithium ion batteries.

Engineering student designs solar panels made from plant waste

An engineering student at Mapua University in the Philippines has designed a solar panel made entirely from plant waste yet still able to generate clean energy from ultraviolet light.

Global Cooling Prize reveals field testing results

The Global Cooling Prize (GCP) encourages development of a cooling solution with at least 5 times less climate impact than today’s air conditioners. The GCP team has completed the field test portion of the prize and has started lab testing at CEPT University in India.

Creating a more resilient grid: virtual power plants explained

Virtual power plants (VPPs) can act as a substitute for conventional dispatchable power plants and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future. But what exactly are VPPs and how do they operate?

International

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Energy efficiency plays notable role in global economic recovery packages

Energy efficiency is expected to attract less investment and employ fewer people this year because of COVID-19 and the resulting recession. It is, however, still figuring notably into global economic recovery packages according to the 2020 edition of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) annual Energy Efficiency report.

How global electric car sales defied COVID-19 in 2020

Backed by policy support and additional stimulus measures, the IEA estimates electric car sales worldwide climbed to over 3 million and reached a market share of over 4%. This made 2020 a record-breaking year for electric mobility despite the economic downturn from the pandemic.

Biden plans to replace government fleet with electric vehicles

US President Joe Biden has signed a ‘Buy America’ executive order that includes plans to replace the government’s fleet of cars and trucks with EVs assembled in the US. The government is a major purchaser of vehicles, however replacing its fleet with American-produced EVs will be costly and take time.

GM aims to go mostly electric by 2035, carbon-neutral by 2040

General Motors (GM) has announced plans to become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040 and has committed to setting science-based targets to achieve this.

Biden wants zero-emissions buildings. No tiny windows needed.

Joe Biden's call for legislation to set a new net-zero emissions standard for all new commercial buildings by 2030 will have a meaningful impact given buildings account for 40% of energy use and one-third of emissions.

Elon Musk to offer $100m prize for 'best' carbon capture tech

Tesla chief and billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has taken to Twitter to promise a $100 million prize for development of the best technology to capture CO2 emissions.

NZ rehashes carbon neutral public sector plan, with 2025 target

Under New Zealand’s Carbon Neutral Government Programme, all public sector agencies will need to measure and publicly report on their emissions, and offset any emissions they can’t cut by 2025.

Extraordinary views from the world's first mountainous solar farm

A reservoir in the middle of the Swiss Alps boasts stunning views and doubles as a floating solar power plant, earning the Swiss Watt d’Or prize for best renewable energy innovation in 2020.