SDG 13 - Climate Action

SDG 13 - Climate Action

Below are all Australian news items from all ESG Snapshot issues that are relevant to SDG 13 (climate action), listed with most recent items appearing first.

Issue 45, 27 May 2024

The CEFC has announced its single largest transaction - a $490 million commitment to NSW EnergyCo to accelerate the delivery of grid infrastructure in the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone. 

EnergyCo estimates the finance agreement has the potential to deliver as much as a nominal $240 million in benefits to NSW electricity consumers in the form of lower project costs over the 20-year tenure of the loan.

The CEFC commitment will lower the overall financing costs, and will also support the acquisition of biodiversity offsets.

Consultation opportunity - transport. The federal government has released a consultation roadmap on achieving net zero in the transport sector

Australia's transport sector is the third largest source of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, amounting to 21% of national emissions in 2023. Since 2005, transport sector greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 19%.

A webinar will take place on 4 June, and comments on the consultation roadmap are due by 26 July.

The CSIRO's final GenCost report reaffirms that renewables, including associated storage and transmission costs, remain the lowest cost, new build technology out to 2050.

GenCost found nuclear is not economically competitive with renewables and the total development time in Australia for large or small-scale nuclear, is at least 15 years.

The report includes a Frequently Asked Questions section at Appendix D.

The government has released more details on how it will allocate $63.8 million announced in the Budget for measures to reduce agriculture emissions.

The largest allocation - $30.8 million over four years - will go towards outreach and education initiatives. 

The next largest allocation, of $28.7 million over 10 years, will go to improved greenhouse gas accounting in the agriculture and land sector.

The Australian Energy Market Operator has published an update to its Electricity Statement of Opportunities (ESOO), which forecasts reliability gaps in all mainland regions of the NEM over the outlook period.

Compared to the 2023 ESOO central scenario, reliability risks have increased in NSW and Victoria from FY25 to FY28, and increased in South Australia in FY27. 

"Federal and state government programs, actionable transmission developments, orchestrated consumer investments and demand flexibility have the potential to address the majority of forecast reliability risks," AEMO says.

Reliability risks have increased in NSW due to delays to battery projects and revised demand assumptions, AEMO says, with Victoria's increased risks due to mothballed generators in SA, and transmission line limitations.

The federal government has released a National Battery Strategy, which notes that Australia mined about 45% of the world's lithium in 2023, but makes less than 1% of global battery materials or components.

The $523.2 million Battery Breakthrough Initiative, announced in the Budget, is a cornerstone element of the new strategy.

The Clean Energy Council has released a report by Egis Consulting on the Levelised Cost of Electricity, which compares the cost of nuclear and renewables.

The Queensland Department of Environment, Science and Innovation has determined the CTSCo Surat Basin Carbon Capture and Storage Project is not suitable to proceed due to potential impacts on groundwater resources in the Great Artesian Basin.

The project was rejected because the CO2 would have been injected into an unconfined aquifer, and the CO2 could migrate.

Consultation opportunity - assessing and managing carbon emissions from new projects. Proponents of large-emitting projects would have to provide much more detailed information about their potential emissions, and their alignment with government targets, under two new NSW EPA draft documents.

The requirements are described in a proposed Climate Change Assessment Requirements and an accompanying Greenhouse Gas Assessment Guide for Large Emitters.

Proponents of new or modified projects will have to conduct a greenhouse gas assessment report containing specified information, and prepare a greenhouse gas mitigation plan, as well as a climate change mitigation and adaptation plan. 

They will also have to demonstrate they will be adopting a hierarchy of actions to avoid, reduce or substitute emissions, before using carbon credits.

The requirements will apply to facilities expected to emit at least 25,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas annually. Proponents expecting their facility to emit more than 100,000 tonnes annually will need to have their assessment report independently reviewed. 

Eventually, all EPA licensees will have to prepare climate change mitigation and adaptation plans. Comments are due by 1 July. 

The NSW government has signed an agreement with Origin Energy to operate the Eraring coal-fired power plant - which provides about 18% of the state's electricity - until August 2027. 

Under the arrangement, the state government will underwrite Origin against a share of its potential financial loss from extending operations at Eraring. 

Origin had previously announced it intended to close Eraring as early as August 2025. 

The NSW government has announced it will subsidise the installation of small business and household batteries through its Peak Demand Reduction Scheme. 

It will offer subsidies of between $1,600 and $2,400. In addition, if the battery is connected to a Virtual Power Plant, an additional incentive of between $500 and $800 can be claimed over a three-year period.

Consultation opportunity - community benefits. Victoria's VicGrid has released a draft Renewable Energy Zone Community Benefits Plan, with comments are due by 16 June.

Under the proposed plan, landholders who host new transmission infrastructure will receive $8,000 per kilometre annually, for 25 years, on top of existing compensation arrangements.

Benefits at the same rate will also be paid into REZ Community Energy Funds that will support energy-related projects in REZ host regions. 

One-off payments will also be made to significantly impacted neighbours, up to a maximum of $40,000.

A formal Expressions of Interest process for companies to partner in developing a green iron industry and supply chain in South Australia will open in June, the SA government has confirmed.

The EOI will seek interest from companies to jointly investigate the development of a hydrogen-based direct reduction iron (DRI) plant in South Australia before the end of the decade.

A recent study commissioned by the state government concluded that a vertically integrated production model, in which a single entity controls all stages of the green iron value chain, from renewable energy and hydrogen supply to final iron production, could produce iron for $678 per tonne.

In contrast, if different entities control various parts of the supply chain, the costs are likely be up to $862 per tonne.

The WA government has released a revised state Battery and Critical Minerals Strategy, which is far more detailed than the 2020 version.

Issue 44, 20 May 2024

A Treasury guide to Future Made in Australia spending and initiatives contained in the Budget is available here

A Treasury supporting paper on the National Interest Framework that underpins the Future Made in Australia initiative is available here

An outline of Budget energy initiatives, prepared by Energetics, is available hereBCSDA members can access a summary of Budget initiatives here.

Statutory development - vehicle efficiency standards. Parliament has passed legislation establishing vehicle efficiency standards.

The New Vehicle Efficiency Standard Bill will reduce CO2 emissions from new cars, SUVs, utes and vans, and stimulate the provision of low and zero emissions vehicles. It will be underpinned by a trading scheme for emissions credits. 

Opposition members of a Senate committee inquiry into a Bill that would establish the Net Zero Economy Authority have recommended that the proposed legislation not be passed.

The proposed new Authority would duplicate the role of organisations such as the CEFC and ARENA, and various state bodies, the Coalition members of the committee said.

The majority of committee members have recommended that the Bill be passed. 

The Senate has agreed to a Greens motion to establish a Select Committee on the Impact of Climate Risk on Insurance Premiums and Availability, with a reporting date of 19 November. The inquiry home page is here

Court ruling - climate change. The Federal Court has rejected appeals by the Environment Council of Central Queensland against decisions by the federal Environment Minister to grant EPBC approval for two coal mine extensions.

The Energy Efficiency Council has released a summary of discussions at its inaugural industrial decarbonisation summit.

The Sydney-based Climate Recovery Institute has released a white paper on building an atmospheric carbon removal industry, and another on catalysing a carbon removal industry. 

"Each jurisdiction that wishes to have a carbon removal industry at a Paris-aligned scale needs to lay the foundations urgently and use well targeted mechanisms to accelerate its development," the Institute says.

The Australian Sustainable Finance Institute will launch the first round of public consultation on the development of an Australian sustainable finance taxonomy on Tuesday 28 May. Registrations are now being accepted for the launch webinar.

The NSW Independent Planning Commission has approved a proposal by a Squadron Energy subsidiary for a 64MW gas-fired firming power station and associated hydrogen generation plant at a site north of Dubbo.

The $190 million project will initially operate on fossil gas, but will be capable of operating on a blend of up to 25% hydrogen, as well as on biofuels.

Approval conditions include a requirement that the company report every three yeas on the feasibility of going beyond a 25% blend of hydrogen.

The state government has released First Nations Guidelines for the Hunter-Central Coast and the South West Renewable Energy Zones (REZs), augmenting its earlier Guideline for the Central West Orana REZ.

New Victorian grants for large gas users. Applications are being accepted from large gas users until 30 September to help fund feasibility studies into switching to efficient electric alternatives.

The Large Energy User Electrification Support Program will provide up to $60,000 per site – or $66,000 for regional sites that use between 10 and 100 terajoules of gas per year. 

Victoria's Governor has given Royal Assent to the Energy and Public Land Legislation Amendment (Enabling Offshore Wind Energy) Bill 2024, and the National Electricity (Victoria) Amendment (VicGrid) Bill 2024.

The Victorian government has released a discussion paper on a proposed update of the Victorian Freight Plan. 

The paper highlights the increasing occurrence of extreme events that can affect supply chains, and also discusses the freight sector's potential contribution to decarbonisation. Comments are due by 30 June.

South Australia has signed a clean energy letter of cooperation with the State of California, during a trip by Premier Peter Malinauskas to the United States.

WA grant opportunity - decarbonisation. Applications for grants of between $5 million and $15 million are now being accepted by a state government/Chevron backed fund

The fund supports large research and innovation activities that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions or test, demonstrate and deploy technologies that support lower carbon projects. Applications must be lodged by 6 June.

Grant opportunity - clean energy. The WA government is offering grants of up to $4 million in the latest round of its Clean Energy Future Fund. The fund supports innovative projects to decarbonise existing industry, develop new renewable energy businesses and improve energy efficiency.

Applications must be submitted by 10 June.

Issue 43, 13 May 2024

Bid registrations for a forthcoming Capacity Investment Scheme tender for 6GW of renewable energy capacity will open on 16 May, according to a Market Brief

Minimum capacity targets for each jurisdiction are - NSW 2.2GW, SA 0.3GW, Victoria 1.4GW, and Tasmania 0.3GW. The remaining 1.8GW will be allocated across the NEM, based on merit.

The federal government's new Future Gas Strategy incorporates six guiding principles, including getting to net zero and keeping gas affordable.

The other four principles are - finding new sources of gas to meet demand, shifting gas consumption to higher-value and non-substitutable uses, adapting the gas and electricity markets, and remaining a reliable trading partner for gas. 

The strategy also flags that the government will establish a new Transboundary Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Program "which will provide options for energy security and carbon management solutions for our regional partners". 

The strategy is accompanied by an action plan, and is supported by an analytical report prepared by the Office of the Chief Economist.

The CEFC has invested $15 million in a US$111 million capital raise by Australian advanced electrolyser technology company Hysata.

Templewater and bp Ventures led the investment round, with strong backing from existing major strategic and financial investors IP Group Australia, Kiko Ventures, Hostplus, Vestas Ventures, and BlueScopeX.

Australia wants to host the COP31 climate talks partly because of its own commitment to action on climate change and also to elevate Pacific voices, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong has told a press conference in Adelaide.

The federal government will expand its New Energy Apprenticeships Program so that it subsidises apprentices and trainees in a wider range of sectors. It will also remove a requirement that an apprentice's work be solely dedicated to clean energy, "whilst retaining a clean energy skilling purpose for the apprenticeship".

The Queensland government will provide $20 million from its Queensland Critical Minerals and Battery Technology Fund to support drill testing and trial mining at Australia's largest tungsten mine, in Far North Queensland.

The underground deposit of EQ Resources' existing open pit Mt Carbine Tungsten Mine is still relatively unexplored. Tungsten is used in a range of renewable energy applications, including solar cells, wind turbines, and batteries.

The Queensland government will provide $448.2 million from the Queensland Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs Fund to Stanwell, to double the size of a proposed battery at the Stanwell power station.

Storage will increase from 150MW/300MWh (two-hour duration) to a 300MW/1,200MWh (four-hour duration) battery system.

The EIS for Engie's proposed The Plains wind farm near Hay in NSW, with a capacity of 1,350MW, is now on public exhibition, with comments due by 4 June.

The Victorian budget boosts the metropolitan industrial and municipal waste levy to $167.9 a tonne from 1 July 2025, up from the current $129.27, according to the Waste Management Review. The levy will also be proportionally increased at rural landfills, which are set lower than metropolitan areas.

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association welcomed the change, saying it would align Victoria's landfill levy with the NSW rate. The Ai Group said the increases were "relatively modest", but would increase business costs. The Budget also includes:

  • More than $18 million to plan for offshore wind generation, "and $17 million to continue planning, and designing, a renewable energy terminal at the Port of Hastings".
  • an extra $37.7 million for the Solar Homes program, which has so far provided rebates totalling $624 million.
  • $17.5 million "to accelerate the renewable energy transition with earlier biodiversity assessments and better planning processes for new projects".
  • $44 million to the EPA "to crack down on illegal dumping and other waste crimes which threaten our environment".
  • $12.5 million for VicGrid to continue developing the Victorian Transmission Investment Framework.
  • a further $15 million to progress the state’s circular economy targets "and support Recycling Victoria to boost recycling and help households cut down waste".

The Budget also includes $5.9 million for a strategic review of the Victorian Energy Upgrades (VEU) program, according to the Energy Savings Institute of Australia.

A new Gas Distribution Code of Practice will take effect on 1 October. The new code will require gas distributors to provide clear information to customers on their websites, including on how customers can disconnect or abolish their gas connections. 

The Tasmanian government has signalled it will be retrospectively amending the Tasmanian State Coastal Policy.

The move will remove grounds for an appeal against ACEN's proposed Robbins Island wind farm. The Bob Brown Foundation has criticised the move.

With the help of a $6.2 million ARENA grant, SA Power Networks will lead a $13.8 million Energy Masters trial project that will demonstrate the benefits of demand flexibility, smart appliances and smart energy management systems in homes.

Statutory development - carbon capture. The state Parliament has passed the Petroleum Legislation Amendment Billwhich provides a legislative framework for the transport and geological storage of greenhouse gas.

The Bill also enables exploration for naturally-occurring hydrogen.

Gina Rinehart's Atlas Iron has lost an appeal in which it argued that the quantity of emissions from its proposed McPhee Creek iron ore project didn't meet WA EPA criteria for assessment.

The EPA had proposed greenhouse gas conditions for the project, on the basis that its annual scope 1 and 2 emissions would be just over the 100,000 tonne threshold.

However, Atlas Iron argued to the WA Appeals Convenor that the EPA had incorporated an annual 70,450 tonnes of greenhouse gas from haulage activities as part of the project's scope 1 and 2 emissions.

The company said the emissions should have been treated as scope 3, in line with NGER criteria.

But the Appeals Convenor found that the EPA was correct in concluding that "greenhouse gas emissions resulting from haulage of iron ore to a processing facility, regardless of contracting arrangements, should be considered Scope 1 emissions".

"This is consistent with other EPA reports for contemporary assessments in the region, where haulage has been considered by the EPA as a part of its assessments," it said.

The NGER Act "is deliberately flexible, and differences between State and Commonwealth may occur", it said.

Issue 42, 6 May 2024

Statutory development - climate risk disclosure. The Coalition is wary of a government Bill mandating climate risk disclosure, a new Senate committee reporton the Bill shows.

Coalition members of a Senate committee inquiring into the Bill said they had "significant concerns about the scope, design, and implementation" of the Bill's climate disclosure provisions. 

"The Coalition will continue to reserve its final position ... until it is satisfied these concerns are properly addressed," Coalition senators said. 

The Greens, in their additional comments, call for mandatory scenario analysis, as did independent Senator David Pocock.

The comments by the various parties suggest that the government will need to make scenario analysis mandatory in order to secure passage of the legislation, if the Opposition decides to vote against the Bill.

The forthcoming Future Made in Australia Act will specify five key tests for determining whether government support will be considered, according to Treasurer Jim Chalmers: 

  • Is the industry one where we can be competitive, and more productive?
  • Does it contribute to an orderly path to net zero?
  • Can it "build the capabilities of our people and especially our regions"?
  • Will it improve Australia’s national security and economic resilience?
  • Does it recognise the key role of the private sector and deliver genuine value for money for government?

The Act will also outline criteria for two streams - a national interest stream, and a net zero transformation stream, Chalmers told the Lowy Institute.

Energy ministers have revealed how they want the Australian Energy Market Operator to approach the preparation of its next Integrated System Plan.

Ministers want a better integration of gas into the 2026 ISP, which will involve AEMO collecting information on gas pipeline closures or conversions, and on the long-term ramifications of biomethane and hydrogen for gas generator fuel costs. 

They also want:

  • better demand forecasting.
  • an analysis of alternative coal-fired generation shutdown scenarios".
  • consideration of community sentiment impacts. 

The Australian National Audit Office has concluded that the Clean Energy Regulator's administration of the ACCU scheme is "largely effective", in a new audit report.

The audit report makes only one recommendation, which is directed at DCCEEW, and not at the Clean Energy Regulator.

Representatives of Glencore told the Senate greenwashing inquiry that although the company has recently dropped its coal annual production cap of 150 million tonnes, which was introduced in 2019, the company now has "enhanced" emissions reduction targets that mean production won't exceed the cap.

A group of 14 Australian and international marine and climate scientists has written to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese describing the extent of bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, and saying Australia's new national nature protection laws must be delivered before the end of this term. 

"They must include a clear requirement to assess whether projects will cause more climate harm for nature as part of the assessment process," the letter says. 

New grants for startups and SMEs. Applications for grants of up to $5 million to help innovative startups and SMEs to commercialise their ideas are now available through the Industry Growth Program. Grant scheme priorities include renewables, and value-adding in resources. 

Meanwhile, the Australian Hydrogen Council (through its business arm Hydrogen Mobility Australia) has received a $920,000 grant to advise start-ups and SMEs that are participating in the Industry Growth Program.

The Clean Energy Regulator has included four NGER reporters (three of them covered by the Safeguard) in its annual audit program "because we were unable to satisfactorily verify the accuracy of their reports based on a desktop assessment".

Consultation - NGER. DCCEEW is consulting on the latest proposed annual changes to the NGER Scheme, which include: 

  • phasing out the use of default emission factors to calculate fugitive emissions from open-cut coal mines.
  • publicly disclosing the method used by coal, oil and fossil gas companies to calculate fugitive methane emissions.

Comments are due by 24 May. 

Consultation opportunity - landfill gas. DCCEEW has released a discussion paper on proposed changes to the ACCU Scheme's landfill gas methods. Comments are due by 31 May. 

DCCEEW has also released submissions to its consultation paper on proposed second tranche changes to the ACCU scheme.

The federal government has appointed former secretary of the federal environment department, Dr Paul Grimes, to the independent committee that oversees the integrity of ACCU scheme methods. 

Dr Grimes has also held senior roles in the NSW public service (where he was secretary of Treasury), and in the South Australian and Victorian public services.

"If we are to successfully meet the great global challenge of climate change, we must have government programs and regulations that have deep integrity and rigour," Grimes said. 

"It is wonderful being able to join the committee and contribute to its work supporting the ACCU Scheme alongside the dedicated public servants in DCCEEW and the Clean Energy Regulator."

The Victorian Opposition will attempt to revoke in the Legislative Council a Planning Scheme Amendment that removes the right for opponents of renewable energy projects to make appeals to VCAT.

The motion would need the support of most minor parties in order to succeed.

Shadow Minister for Energy, Affordability and Security, David Davis, said the government was "adopting a scorched earth policy, imposing wind and solar farms and long-distance high voltage transmission wires on communities without their approval or social licence".

The newly appointed board of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria will be chaired by high-profile renewable energy industry figure and former ACT climate change and energy minister Simon Corbell. 

Other board members include Anna Skarbek, Jo Benvenuti and Damien Barnes. 

The federal government has issued the first offshore wind feasibility licences for the seas of Gippsland, with recipients including the proponent of the Star of the South project. 

Other recipients are High Sea Wind Pty Ltd, Gippsland Skies Pty Ltd, Blue Mackerel North Pty Ltd, Kut-Wut Brataualung Pty Ltd, and Ørsted Offshore Australia 1 Pty Ltd (Gippsland 01).

The Government intends to grant another six feasibility licences, subject to First Nations consultation, to Iberdrola Australia OW 2 Pty Ltd (Aurora Green), Greater Gippsland 2 OWP Project Pty Ltd (Gippsland Dawn), Navigator North Project Pty Ltd, Ørsted Offshore Australia 1 Pty Ltd (Gippsland 02), Kent Offshore Wind Pty Ltd, and the Great Eastern Offshore Wind Farm Project Co Pty Ltd.

The 12 projects could generate 25 GW of electricity, which is more electricity that the entire state of Victoria generated last year.

Issue 41, 29 April 2024

The Australian Accounting Standards Board has announced it aims to release its Australian Sustainability Reporting Standards on climate-related financial disclosures by the end of August this year. The AASB released drafts of the standards last October.

The Clean Energy Regulator has opened a new "exit window" opportunity for carbon project developers that are interested in exiting their contracts to deliver ACCUs to the government, so they can instead sell them on the private market. 

In this fourth exit window round, developers must deliver at least 20% of their contracted delivery volume before they will be allowed to exit their contracts. 

The Regulator expects that between 9 to 15 million ACCUs will be become available to the market during the exit window, excluding between 2 to 4 million ACCUs that will be delivered to the government to meet the 20% delivery requirement.

Fifteen organisations representing business, finance and investors have jointly backed a government Bill to establish a mandatory climate related financial disclosures framework.

The signatories include the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the Business Council of Australia, the Investor Group on Climate Change, and the Property Council of Australia.

Organisations including ASIC, Treasury, the ASX, the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the Investor Group on Climate Change, and the Carbon Market Institute appeared before a Senate committee hearing into the Bill to establish a mandatory climate related financial disclosures framework. Transcript is available here.

Consultation - costs and benefits of transmission infrastructure. How to value emissions reductions is one of the issues canvassed in an Australian Energy Regulator consultation paper on assessing the costs and benefits of transmission infrastructure. Comments are due by 5 June, and there will be a webinar on valuing emissions on 14 May. 

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen has announced grants for nine industrial decarbonisation projects totalling $330 million under its Our Powering the Regions Fund. 

Companies benefiting from the grants include QAL, Alumina, AdBri, Shoalhaven Starches, CSBP, and Liberty Steel Group.

The government is also inviting further grant applications (with individual grants of up to $50 million available) under its Safeguard Transformation Stream. Applications close on 1 November. 

Consultation - Solar Sunshot. ARENA has invited comments by 31 May on the design of the government's $1 billion Solar Sunshot program.

Renewable energy generation drove down wholesale electricity prices in the first quarter of 2024, despite higher temperatures pushing up demand, according to new data from the Australian Energy Market Operator.

Total electricity generation in Australia remained steady in 2023 with an estimated 273,106GWh generated, according to new government data.

Renewable sources contributed an estimated 95,963GWh, making up 35% of Australia’s total electricity generation, up 3 percentage points on its 2022 share .

The largest source of renewable generation was solar (16% of total generation), followed by wind (12%), and hydro (6%).

The statistics cover all electricity generation in Australia, including by power plants and by businesses and households for their own use. 

Queensland's Coordinator-General has declared the Capricornia Pumped Hydro Energy Storage and Transmission project to be a coordinated project, due to its significance and complexity, and work will now start on the draft terms of reference for the project's EIS.

The $2.87 billion project, which is being developed by the Capricornia Energy Hub, will have a stored capacity of up to 750MW for approximately 16 hours for a 24 hour period.

A solar farm and wind farm could eventually be located near the pumped hydro project.

The Victorian government is developing a new handbook for renewable energy project developers that will incorporate new state-wide maps that identify key habitat areas for native wildlife. 

By October 2024, it will also finalise research on the potential impact of wind turbines on threatened bird and bat species. 

The statutory guidance in the handbook will include 

  • a new list of at-risk wildlife that renewable energy developers will need to consider in their planning
  • measures that they can take to prevent harm to those species.
  • a template for bat and bird management plans.

Horizon Power will this month start a one-year trial of Vehicle-to-Grid capability, in partnership with the Gascoyne Development Commission, Shire of Exmouth, Exmouth Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Exmouth Hospital.

Issue 40, 22 April 2024

The Clean Energy Regulator has released the latest detailed annual reports from 25 companies that have voluntary disclosed their emissions and renewable energy performance through the Regulator's Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency (CERT) regime.

Reporters include AGL, Aldi, Aurizon, Coles, Fletcher Building, Fortescue, Orica, Woodside, and Woolworths. 

Of the 25 participating companies:

    • 20 have commitments to reach net zero emissions by 2050, and six of these companies are already carbon neutral.
    • 11 have emissions reduction or emissions intensity reduction commitments that include scope 3 emissions.
    • 13 have commitments to reach 100% renewable electricity use by 2030.

The federal government has announced what it terms "the largest single ever tender for renewable energy in Australia".

The national Capacity Investment Scheme tender will launch in May and will target 6GW of generation. 

At least 2.2GW will be from NSW, and an allocation of at least 300MW will be dedicated to South Australian projects.

The NSW agreement builds on the first CIS/NSW Roadmap pilot tender conducted in 2023, which is delivering six battery and virtual power plant projects with more than 1GW of capacity in the state, the federal government said.

The inclusion of NSW projects in the upcoming CIS tender will replace the scheduled Q2 2024 generation Long-Term Energy Service Agreements (LTESA) tender under the NSW Roadmap, and generation projects eligible for LTESA tenders will be eligible to participate in the CIS tender.

NSW will separately proceed with its scheduled Q2 2024 LTESA tender for long-duration storage infrastructure.

The first round of tenders for Western Australian projects, targeting 500MW of dispatchable power through storage for renewables, will open mid-year, subject to consultation and final agreement. It would be enough to power 45,000 homes.

The federal government will provide $400 million in new loans to Alpha HPA to establish Australia's first high-purity alumina processing facility in Gladstone.

High-purity alumina is used in LED lighting, semiconductors, lithium-ion batteries, and other high-tech applications.

The loans will be provided by Export Finance Australia (EFA) through the Government’s $4 billion Critical Minerals Facility, as well as through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility and EFA's Commercial Account.

The federal government has also conditionally approved $185 million to Renascor Resources to fast-track the development of Stage One of its Siviour Graphite Project in South Australia. 

Climate Active certified organisations are required to submit their annual report for the 2023 calendar year by 30 April. Those on a financial year reporting cycle must submit their next annual report by 31 October. 

A landmark new CSIRO report describes four potential scenarios for Australian agriculture in 2050 - regional ag capitals, landscape stewardship, climate survival, and system decline.

Australia and Singapore are partnering on a $20 million initiative to help reduce emissions in the maritime sector.  

The Australia-Singapore Initiative on Low Emissions Technologies (ASLET) for maritime and port operations will be jointly delivered by CSIRO and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.  

ASLET aims to develop a green and digital shipping corridor between Singapore and Australia.

Statutory development - climate bills. The Queensland parliament has passed the Clean Economy Jobs Act and the Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Act.

The Clean Economy Jobs Act legislates emissions reduction targets of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, 75% below by 2035, and net zero by 2050.

It also establishes an advisory expert panel, and provides for the development of sector plans.

The Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Act enshrines in law renewable energy targets of 50% renewable energy by 2030, 70% by 2032 and 80% by 2035. It passed with government amendments that dealt with matters including social licence. 

The Clean Economy Jobs Bill passed with the support of the Opposition LNP, with shadow environment minister Sam O'Connor noting that about 92% of the world’s GDP is covered by commitments to net zero. O'Connor also noted that investment in the low-carbon energy transition "surged 17% in 2023". 

"Queensland is in a fierce competition locally and internationally to secure as much of that investment as we can," he said. "The LNP's decision today will provide certainty to the market about the direction in which our state is heading. Our support today sends a signal to investors that under a future LNP government Queensland is open for business."

"For several years the LNP has committed to achieving the end goal of net zero. Our decision to support the targets outlined in this bill is significant and it has been carefully considered," O'Connor said. 

ALP Deputy Premier Cameron Dick welcomed the LNP decision. 

"It is welcome news because of what it means," he said. "It means that the LNP now supports our vegetation management laws. Our vegetation management laws are absolutely critical to achieving our 75% target. You cannot achieve a 75% reduction in emissions without Labor’s vegetation management laws.  

However, the LNP opposed the other Bill, which enshrines renewable energy targets in law. 

Shadow energy minister Deb Frecklington didn't directly oppose the renewables targets.

"We do not want to miss the once-in-a-generation chance to create new careers and keep our brightest kids in the bush," she acknowledged. "We do not want those energy careers going across the border or to another country."

However, Frecklington argued that the targets should be reviewed every two years, and the LNP therefore opposed the renewables bill.

The Queensland government has confirmed it will develop a statutory renewables code of conduct to ensure project developers engage with local communities, and share benefits with them.

The Queensland government says new federal data shows it has "smashed its first emissions reduction target almost a decade ahead of schedule", achieving a 35% reduction in emissions in 2022, significantly exceeding its current 2030 target of a 30% reduction.

The result is "further proof of the success of Queensland’s vegetation management laws, which have reduced the amount of land clearing carried out across the state and resulted in significant emission reductions in the land sector", the state government said.

Consultation opportunity - freight reform. The impact of climate change and the rise of Renewable Energy Zones are among the issues covered in a new NSW government discussion paper on freight policy reform.

An advisory panel with members including Kerry Schott has been established to provide independent advice on the reforms, and a webinar will be held on 24 April. Submissions close on 31 May.

VicGrid has released an independent analysis by Jacobs of the merits of a widely publicised alternative approach to the VNI-West transmission link. The analysis rejects the alternative as not the best solution for Victoria.

The Victorian government has made public the referral for Squadron Energy's proposed 420MW Moreton Hill wind farm near Ballarat.

Statutory development. New Victorian Energy Efficiency Target Amendment (Prohibition on Telemarketing and Door-to-door Sales) Regulations will come into operation on 1 May.

Yarra Valley Water has started work on its $48 million Lilydale Food Waste to Energy project – which is expected to become fully operational in 2025. 

The facility will divert 55,000 tonnes of food waste from landfill annually, and will generate sufficient renewable electricity to meet 35% of Yarra Valley Water's energy needs. or enough to power the equivalent of more than 2,200 Victorian households.

Yarra Valley Water already operates a food waste to energy plant at Wollert.

WA grant opportunity - decarbonisation. Applications for grants of between $5 million and $15 million are now being accepted by a state government/Chevron backed fund

The fund supports large research and innovation activities that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions or test, demonstrate and deploy technologies that support lower carbon projects. Applications must be lodged by 6 June.

The WA government will provide $4.5 million to International Graphite to establish a commercial graphite plant at Collie, building on a previous $2 million grant to establish a pilot graphite micronising plant.

In addition to the $4.5 million, the state government will provide $2 million for International Graphite to conduct a feasibility study into establishing a battery anode material facility in Collie. 

Key industry leaders and representatives from Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States met in Darwin last week to discuss critical mineral production, supply chain resilience and economic security. 

The Darwin Dialogue was convened by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which has released a report on Reclaiming Leadership: Australia and the Critical Minerals Race.

The report notes that Australia has signed 25 agreements with other nations
to work with them to develop a network of secure and sustainable critical minerals supply chains. 

However, it says the federal government's current critical minerals strategy "sells Australia and its allies short by focusing only on domestic production and outbound supply chains".

The report makes seven recommendations.

Issue 39, 15 April 2024

Consultation opportunity - 2035 target and sector pathways. a 2035 emissions reduction target in the range of 65% to 75% below 2005 levels would be ambitious, and could be achievable, according to a new Climate Change Authority consultation paper.

The Authority will provide its final advice on sector pathways by 1 August, and will submit its final advice on targets in October. Comments on the consultation paper are due by 14 May.

In a speech to the Queensland Media Club, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the government will will not be an observer of the energy transition – "we will be a participant, a partner, an investor and enabler".

Albanese said the government needed to invest at scale and be more assertive in building sovereign capability, and also flagged the introduction this year of a Future Made in Australia Act.

Statutory development and consultation opportunity - offshore wind. DCCEEW is inviting comments by 12 May on draft Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Amendment Regulations.

The regulations deal with issues including management plans, financial securities, safety and protection zones, and record-keeping.

A CSIRO survey of attitudes toward the renewable energy transition has found that rolling out the transition in an affordable way was the top priority for four in ten Australians, with most of them (82%) ranking it in their top three priorities. 

Other top-three priorities were energy self-reliance, and emissions reductions, with reliability being a close fourth. Almost half (47%) preferred a moderate paced transition scenario compared to faster and more extensive change (40%). A total of 13% preferred a slower transition. 

More than 80% of Australians would at least tolerate living within 10 kilometres of renewable energy infrastructure. 

The Ministerial Council on Trade and Investment met in Perth last Thursday, discussing issues including the clean energy transition, supply chain resilience, international partnerships, and critical minerals.

The communique says ministers agreed that they would this year develop "consistent environmental, social and governance (ESG) national messaging to support investment attraction".

DCCEEW has opened for comment an EPBC referral from POSCO-owned Port Hedland Green Steel Pty Ltd for its proposed hydrogen-based iron project in Port Hedland's Boodarie Strategic Industrial Area. 

In stage one, the facility would process up to 3.5 million tonnes of iron ore into pellets that would mostly be fed into a hot briquettes iron ((HBI) plant, to produce about two million tonnes of HBI. The remaining pellets (about 0.7 million tonnes) would be exported.

The referred action represents the first stage of up to six stages of development.

"HBI production based on 100% hydrogen technology is yet to be developed on a cost-effective basis," the referral says.

"Stage one effectively represents the proof of concept that hydrogen can replace natural gas [as the reductant]. Stage 1 needs to be proven technically feasible before stages 2-6 can be developed."

The project "can be a catalyst for the Pilbara more widely to transform itself into a globally relevant supplier of green iron, if the opportunity is seized", the referral says.

The project, which would be a candidate for support through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, would use POSCO-developed MidrexFlex technology, which is as yet commercially untested.

ARENA has awarded $59.1 million to 21 research projects focused on green iron and steel and on hydrogen.

A total of $24.6 million has gone to green iron and steel projects, with the largest grant ($4.4 million) going to UNSW for research into blast furnace innovation.

Hydrogen research projects will share the remaining $34.2 million, with the largest grant ($4.9 million) going to Fortescue subsidiary MIH2 Pty Ltd to scale-up and demonstrate next generation CSIRO axial flow electrolyser for green hydrogen production.

Hearings by a Senate committee inquiry into Darwin's Middle Arm industrial precinct were held last Wednesday and Thursday. Those giving evidence included NT Chief Minister Eva Lawler, and representatives of the NT EPA, the NT Environment Centre, Indigenous groups and community groups. Transcript will be available shortly here.

The inquiry received more than 200 submissions. A DCCEEW submission says the precinct "may allow industry to import CO2 for offshore storage, provided all regulatory requirements are satisfied".

It also notes that the precinct may facilitate CO2 utilisation for the production of methanol, jet fuel, urea, methane, and mineral carbonates.

A new Reef Health update from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has found that half of more than 1,000 individual reefs surveyed 836 reefs in the Marine Park and 244 reefs in the Torres Strait region) showed high or very high levels of bleaching.

Only a quarter of the individual reefs recorded no to low levels of bleaching.

The Carbon Market Institute has released a report on Carbon markets and Australia's net zero challenge, with contributions from organisations including Gilbert + Tobin, Climateworks, and the Australian Biodiversity Conservation Foundation.

The Climate Leaders Coalition has released an Internal Carbon Pricing for Decision Makers Playbook.

The report discusses shadow pricing, applying an internal fee, and pooling these funds into a carbon investment scheme.

New grants - international industrial decarbonisation collaboration. A joint funding call for Australian and Austrian industrial decarbonisation projects will open on 17 April, with individual grants of up to $3.5 million available to Australian applicants.  

Applicants must have at least one partner from both countries. Applications close on 18 July.

The Institute for Sustainable Futures has released a report titled Towards a Renewable Energy Superpower, commissioned by the Climate Action Network Australia, the AMWU and Boundless Earth.

The report identifies five key opportunities - a diversified battery supply chain, high voltage cable manufacturing, wind tower manufacturing and offshore wind port infrastructure, solar supply chain expansion, and electric heavy vehicle manufacturing.

A new agreement between Queensland government-owned CleanCo, and the North Queensland Airport Group, will result in Cairns and Mackay Airports being powered by 100% renewables 2025. 

An Australian-first electric aircraft development centre has opened in Gippsland. Dovetail Electric Aviation's Development Centre is located in the Latrobe Aerospace Technology Precinct, in the Latrobe Regional Airport.

Dovetail will retrofit regional aircraft with batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.

Since applications under Victoria's Solar for Apartments program opened on 13 February, 143 apartment buildings housing 2,477 apartments have applied for the funding. The deadline for applying for funding has now been extended to 31 May.

Consultation opportunity - capacity investment scheme. The federal government is consulting on the design of the first WA tender under its Capacity Investment Scheme, which will target 500MW of four-hour equivalent (2 GWh) clean dispatchable capacity.

Comments on the draft design are due by 29 April, and applications to tender for the provision of storage capacity will be invited mid-year.

Summit Southern Cross Power Holdings - a subsidiary of Sumitomo Corporation - will receive $1 million from the state government's Collie Futures Industry Development Fund towards a feasibility study into the construction of a Liquid Air Energy Storage facility.

Issue 38, 8 April 2024

The federal government's new Energy Performance Strategy says a new NABERS Universal Benchmark tool is being developed for building types that lack a sector-specific NABERS rating tool. It will be launched this year.

The strategy adds that a review of the Australian Energy Market Operator's approach to developing Integrated System Plans will examine how it deals with demand-side matters, such as electrification and EVs.

The Australian Energy Regulator has released draft guidance on Valuing Emissions Reductions, which will be used by AEMO in the final version of its 2024 Integrated System Plan.

This will mark the first time that AEMO has taken the cost of emissions into account in evaluating the optimum future pathway for the national grid.

APRA has written to banks, insurers, and super funds to advise on the scope, purpose and timing of its 2024 voluntary survey of how they are managing climate-related financial risk.

Unlike the inaugural 2022 survey, this year's survey will include additional questions on transition plans and nature risk.

The latest Quarterly Carbon Market report from the Clean Energy Regulator says schemes it administers reduced emissions by 65.5 million tonnes in 2023, 5.5% more than in 2022.

The report also says that in 2023, an annual record of 8.7 million large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) were cancelled to meet non-RET demand (for example to meet voluntary commitments).  

The federal government has announced that up to $1 billion will be allocated to a new Solar Sunshot program, which aims to build Australia's solar PV manufacturing capabilities. ARENA and DCCEEW will administer the program, and have invited registrations of interest to receive updates.

Statutory development. The federal government has introduced a Bill that would establish a mandatory climate risk disclosure regime.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Delivering Better Financial Outcomes and Other Measures) Bill will introduce new climate reporting requirements that will apply to Australia's largest listed and unlisted companies from 1 January next year, with the requirements gradually extending to other companies.

Statutory development. The federal government has introduced the Net Zero Economy Authority Bill, which would establish a new Authority tasked with the promotion of the "orderly and positive economic transformation as the world decarbonises".

Submissions to a Senate inquiry into the Bill are due by 19 April.

Statutory development. The federal government has introduced the New Vehicle Efficiency Standard Bill, which would establish a duty for light-vehicle suppliers to meet or beat a carbon emissions target, adjusted for the types of vehicle they sell and the weight of each vehicle.

The Senate environment committee has launched a new inquiry into Glencore's proposed carbon capture and storage project in Queensland. Submissions are due by 2 May.

Federal Parliament's joint committee on treaties has launched an inquiry into the Tuvalu Falepili Union treaty announced by the leaders of Australia and Tuvalu earlier this year. The treaty deals with climate change cooperation and migration.

Submissions are due by 16 April.

The federal government has appointed John Sheldon as interim Energy Infrastructure Commissioner, following the decision of Andrew Dyer to retire.

Sheldon was most recently director of social licence policy at DCCCEW.

In a National Press Club address, former climate minister Greg Combet said that governments should consider taking equity stakes in large, transformational projects, to help de-risk them.

Australia's Climate Leaders Coalition has released a Towards a Circular Australia Playbook.

Samantha McCulloch, chief executive of the Australian Energy Producers, which represents upstream gas companies, has urged the development of an Australian CCUS roadmap "to ensure we can realise our potential to be a major regional player in CCUS and to keep pace with the United States and Europe".

"The roadmap should also support the decarbonisation of hard-to-abate industries, such as steel and cement, by incentivising CCUS projects in energy-intensive regions around Australia," McCulloch said.

The Climate Council has released a report titled Seize the Decade, which outlines a strategy to cut emissions by 75% by 2030. The Council will host a webinar on the report on Thursday.

Beyond Zero Emissions has released a briefing paper on solar supply chains.

A Senate committee inquiry into the proposed Middle Arm industrial precinct in Darwin will hold public hearings on April 10 and 11.

The Carbon Market Institute has prepared example contract clauses for carbon projects, prepared by law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, to encourage greater consistency in contracts.

The Australian Alliance for Energy Productivity (A2EP) has released the recording of a recent webinar on the water-energy nexus: saving water to save energy.

Statutory development - clean economy. A Queensland parliamentary committee has released its report on the government's Clean Economy Jobs Bill.

The committee recommends that the Bill be passed, with the LNP attaching a "statement of reservation".

Court case - coal project. The Australian Conservation Foundation and Mackay Conservation Group have started legal proceedings in the Queensland Land Court, seeking the refusal of Whitehaven Coal's proposed Winchester South coal mine in the Bowen Basin. 

The environment groups will argue the court should recommend no mining lease or environmental authority be granted, due to the project's significant environmental and human rights impacts.  

The Queensland government has released a Renewable Energy Zone Roadmap that lays out a framework to strategically connect about 22GW of new grid-scale renewable energy in 12 potential locations across Queensland.

The roadmap provides for the establishment of Local Reference Groups for each proposed REZ.

A NSW parliamentary committee inquiry into undergrounding transmission infrastructure has issued its final report.

The inquiry, instigated by the Greens, urged Transgrid and other electricity transmission providers to improve their consultation with communities. It said more information should be provided to communities on the "opportunities and constraints of undergrounding transmission lines versus overhead transmission lines".

With Labor committee members dissenting, it also recommended that the state government commission an independent assessment of the costs and benefits of undergrounding transmission lines.

Statutory development - renewables. The government has gazetted the planning changes that will allow large renewable energy projects to be assessed through the Development Facilitation Program.

A state parliamentary committee inquiry into climate resilience is accepting submissions until 1 May.

Almost 4,000 homes that have previously received fossil gas containing 5% renewable hydrogen are now receiving a 10% blend, the state government has announced.

The state government has released a Powering the Global Energy Transition Prospectus, which outlines to international investors why Western Australia is well-positioned to be at the forefront of the global clean energy transition.

Grant opportunity - clean energy. The state government is offering grants of up to $4 million in the latest round of its Clean Energy Future Fund. The fund supports innovative projects to decarbonise existing industry, develop new renewable energy businesses and improve energy efficiency.

Applications must be submitted by 10 June.

Issue 37, 25 March 2024

Jemena's Malabar biomethane project has become the first renewable gas project in Australia to receive renewable gas certification under the GreenPower scheme. 

The project is producing around 110 terajoules of renewable gas from wastewater and injecting it into the gas network. The project is co-funded by Jemena and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

GreenPower launched its national renewable gas certification program in 2023. The certification means Jemena will be able to earn and sell renewable gas certificates from the project. This creates an additional revenue stream, and allows Jemena's business gas consumers to match their fossil gas use with accredited low-emission renewable gas certificates. 

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen has appointed Fiona Simson and Richard Bolt to the board of the Climate Change Authority, and has re-appointed Brad Archer as the Authority's chief executive. 

Simson is the former chair of the National Farmers Federation, and is also a former NFF president. Bolt is chair of Hydro Tasmania, and is a former secretary of Victoria's Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources. 

DCCEEW, which has for a long time been working on a proposed "Integrated Farm and Land Management" method for earning Australian carbon credits, has signalled it is adjusting its approach to the new method.

According to analysts Reputex and Market Advisory Group, DCCEEW wants to more closely examine the extent to which grazing affects vegetation regeneration on land that hasn't previously been cleared, before deciding the extent to which this activity can generate ACCUs. 

Managed grazing suppression was one of the proposed elements of the IFLM method.

ARENA has awarded $2 million to Lochard Energy for an 18-month feasibility study into large-scale hydrogen production and storage in Victoria's onshore Otway Basin.

The $6.3 million feasibility study is the second stage of Lochard's H2RESTORE project, which aims to help firm the National Electricity Market through the provision of long duration, seasonal energy storage in the form of hydrogen.

ARENA has awarded a $1.66 million grant to the Aboriginal Clean Energy Partnership Pty Ltd (ACEP) to support a feasibility study for the East Kimberley Clean Energy and Hydrogen Project.

ACEP was formed in 2022 as a joint venture between three native title holders - Yawoorroong Miriuwung Gajerrong Yirrgeb Noong Dawang Corporation, Balanggarra Ventures Ltd, and Kimberley Land Council Aboriginal Corporation - as well as climate and nature investment and advisory firm Pollination.

A parliamentary committee inquiry into residential electrification last Friday heard from Dr Saul Griffith, and representatives of organisations including the Housing Industry Association, the Green Building Council, Master Builders Australia, and the Property Council.

The federal government has granted EPBC approval for Lightsource bp's 840MW Sandy Creek solar farm in the NSW central west. 

CSIRO chief executive Doug Hilton has written an open letter defending CSIRO's GenCost report, which provides insights into the cost of new-build electricity.

Hilton describes GenCost as providing "the very best estimates for the cost of future new-build electricity generation in Australia". 

"The GenCost report can be trusted by all our elected representatives, irrespective of whether they are advocating for electricity generation by renewables, coal, gas or nuclear energy," Hilton says.

The latest east coast gas market outlook from the Australian Energy Market Operator has forecast a gap in gas supply for southern states from 2028, as production from Bass Strait continues to decline faster than demand.

The report signals that new investment is urgently needed if gas supply from 2028 is to keep up with demand.

The Clean Energy Council has released a recording of its webinar on the Clean Energy Report for 2024.

Statutory development - climate and renewable energy targets. The Victorian Parliament has passed the Climate Change and Energy Legislation Amendment (Renewable Energy and Storage Targets) Bill 2023

It did so after the government accepted a Greens amendment, moved in the Legislative Council, which will require the government of the day to obtain independent advice that the net-zero target for 2045 has been met.

Greens MP Ellen Sandell told Parliament the amendment aimed to close "a loophole in our laws that could allow dodgy offsets and unproven carbon capture and storage to be counted towards Victoria's net zero emissions reduction targets".

The amendment means an independent expert must scrutinise the "effectiveness of any proposed activities for the removal of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere" and "the likely effectiveness of any eligible offsets". 

The Bill increases the renewable energy target for 2030, introduce a new renewable energy target for 2035, and introduces energy storage and offshore wind targets.

It also expressly requires consideration of climate change when making certain decisions under planning legislation.

Statutory development - carbon farming. The South Australian Parliament has passed the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation (Use of Pastoral Land) Amendment Bill 2024

The Bill confirms that pastoral leases can be used for conservation and carbon farming purposes.

The Bill amends the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation Act, which covers 323 leases, extending over an area of 40 million hectares, or about 40% of South Australia's land area. 

Of the existing pastoral leases, 21 are already being used for conservation purposes with the approval of the Pastoral Board. However, legal uncertainty about the board's ability to approve non-pastoral uses for conservation and carbon farming has arisen in recent years, prompting the introduction of the Bill.

Zero Petroleum, the world’s leading producer of synthetic fuel, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the state government to explore investment opportunities in South Australia.

Zero Petroleum is exploring opportunities to establish a synthetic fuel production plant in the state, with production commencing as soon as 2026. The plant would produce carbon neutral petrol, aviation fuel and diesel.

Grant opportunity - clean energy. The Western Australian government is offering grants of up to $4 million in the latest round of its Clean Energy Future Fund. The fund supports innovative projects to decarbonise existing industry, develop new renewable energy businesses and improve energy efficiency.

Applications must be submitted by 10 June.

Issue 36, 18 March 2024

Consultation opportunity - energy sector decarbonisation. DCCEEW has released a discussion paper for its proposed electricity and energy sector decarbonisation plan. Themes covered include:

  • mobilising investment at a time of international competition for green finance.
  • enabling electrification by substantially expanding electricity networks. 
  • providing alternative low carbon fuels for industries that are difficult to electrify. 
  • building Australia's clean energy workforce, and overcoming the existing shortage of technical and professional skills.
  • maximising benefits for people and businesses, and securing social licence. 

The electricity and energy sector plan is one of six sectoral decarbonisation plans under development by the federal government. Submissions are due by 12 April. 

Consultation opportunity - national adaptation plan. DCCEEW has released an issues paper on a proposed national adaptation plan, with comments due by 11 April. A webinar on the proposed plan will be held on 26 March.

DCCEEW has simultaneously released a national climate risk assessment report that looks at both the 2050 and 2090 time horizons.

The federal government will provide up to $840 million to help establish Australia's first combined rare earths mine and refinery in the Northern Territory.

The mine and refinery will be operated by Australian mineral exploration company Arafura, and the funding will come from the government's Critical Minerals Facility (which is managed by Export Finance Australia) and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund. 

A CSIRO-led international team has set a new efficiency record for solar cells printed onto plastic film. 

The team demonstrated performances for solar cells of 15.5% efficiency on a small scale, and 11% for a 50 cm2 module, which is a record for solar cells printed onto thin plastic films. 

The solar cells contain perovskite, an emerging class of solar material which can be formulated into inks for printing. Carbon-based inks were used to replace gold in the solar cell, dramatically reducing the cost.

Grant opportunity - climate smart agriculture. Applications for climate smart agriculture partnerships and innovation grants of up to $5 million are capacity grants of up to $1 million are being accepted by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries until 8 April.

Applications for capacity grants of up to $1 million under the same program are being accepted until 28 March. 

Applications under the same program for soil capacity building grants closed earlier this month, and will result in the development of a team of regional soils coordinators and the preparation of a national soils community of practice. 

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has made its largest investment in the resources sector, committing up to $110 million to provide liquidity to Liontown Resources through the completion and ramp-up of its Kathleen Valley lithium projectin Western Australia.

The CEFC commitment is a part of a $550 million liquidity financing package from a syndicate that includes the Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, and Société Générale. Australia’s export credit agency, Export Finance Australia, is also part of the syndicate and is providing a $120 million loan facility.

A new Vehicle Emissions Star Rating website, developed with the involvement of federal, state and territory governments, uses a 6-star rating system to compare the CO2 emissions of new and second-hand cars, utes and vans.

Statutory development - renewable energy. Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan has announcedrenewable energy projects will be eligible for an accelerated planning pathway under the Development Facilitation Program.

The move means third party appeals to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal against these projects will no longer be possible.

"Right now, there is currently around $90 billion worth of investment value in renewable projects in the pipeline," Allan said. "It is expected these renewable projects would create a massive 15,000 jobs for our state."

The change means that decisions on whether to approve state significant renewable energy projects could be made within four months of a complete application being lodged. 

Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D'Ambrosio has announced six projects will share in $6 million to deliver 25 neighbourhood batteries across 20 towns.

The batteries will jointly deliver about 4.2MWh of new storage capacity.

Consultation opportunity and statutory development - hydrogen and renewables. The South Australian government is consulting on draft regulations under its recently passed Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Act

webinar is scheduled for 20 March and comments close on 15 April.

The Western Australian Legislative Assembly has passed the Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill, which deals with the regulation of carbon capture and storage projects, and it is now before the Legislative Council. An explanatory memorandum is available here

Grant opportunity - carbon farming. The WA government is offering a further $2.77 million in carbon farming grants. Applications close on 20 May. 

Issue 35, 11 March 2024

Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner Andrew Dyer will retire from the position at the end of this month.

Andrew Dyer was first appointed National Wind Farm Commissioner in November 2015, by former Environment Minister Greg Hunt, and his role was later expanded to address a broad range of energy infrastructure matters. An acting Commissioner will be appointed shortly.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton has appointed Melissa McIntosh as the Coalition's shadow minister for western Sydney and affordable energy. 

ARENA is providing a $9.4 million grant to retrofit an Aurizon diesel-electric freight train with a 1.8MWh battery. Project partner Alta Battery Technology will be responsible for the design and construction of the battery wagon, which will couple to the locomotive. It will be trialled across one of Aurizon's major haulage routes.

The federal government has announced a $76 million funding package for electric vehicle projects, which will be financed by ARENA and the CEFC. 

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation will provide $50 million to Angle Auto Finance (AAF), Australia’s largest independent retail auto financier, to get 20,000 new EVs onto Australian roads over the next two years.

AAF will provide short term loans to car dealerships to purchase vehicles from manufacturers, with dealerships to repay the loan when the vehicle is sold. 

ARENA will provide more than $4 million to help Europcar add 3,100 new, electric passenger vehicles to its Australian fleet over three years. The rental car company is also teaming up with Ampol to install 256 chargers across 41 hire car sites. Europcar will operate the EVs for up to two years before selling them on to grow the second-hand EV market.

ARENA will also provide almost $22 million dollars for three projects in Western Australia to electrify logistics fleets and local government vehicles.

The federal government has officially declared an offshore wind zone in the Southern Ocean off western Victoria, which could potentially help power one of Australia's largest smelters.

The Southern Ocean offshore wind zone, which could potentially generate up to 2.9GW of offshore wind energy, is the third offshore wind zone declared by the government. 

The zone is close to Alcoa's Portland aluminium smelter, which draws up to 10% of Victoria’s electricity. Currently, about 40% of the smelter's consumed electricity comes from renewable resources, including from the nearby Portland onshore wind farm.

In 2021, Portland Aluminium and Alinta Energy announced an MOU to collaborate on the proposed 1GW Spinifex Offshore Wind Farm, and Alcoa says the zone "would greatly assist the Spinifex development". 

Countrywide Hydrogen, which is developing a renewable hydrogen production facility at Portland in two stages, also made a submission in favour of the zoning, as did offshore wind developer Bluefloat.

The final declared offshore area encompasses 1,030 square kilometres – one fifth of the originally proposed zone. It is located at least 15 – 20km from Victoria’s coast, and the zone no longer includes an area off South Australia. 

Feasibility licence applications for offshore wind projects in the new zone are now being accepted, and must be submitted by 2 July.

The Australian Institute of Company Directors and Pollination Group have released a climate governance study, with 80% of surveyed directors saying their boards are concerned about climate change as a material risk.

Australia and Canada have agreed to work together to improve transparency in critical minerals supply chains and to promote the recognition of strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards in critical minerals markets, Resources Minister Madeleine King has announced

The two countries issued a joint ministerial statement after talks in Toronto.

Leaders of ASEAN countries and Australia have released the Melbourne Declaration, which provides for a $2 billion Southeast Asia Investment Financing Facility to increase Australian investment in the region in key sectors such as infrastructure and clean energy. 

The financing facility will be managed by Export Finance Australia.  It will provide loans, guarantees, equity and insurance for projects to boost Australian trade and investment in Southeast Asia, particularly in support of the region's clean energy transition and infrastructure development.

A joint statement signed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Vietnam's Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, announced at the ASEAN-Australia summit, pledges greater cooperation in areas including climate, environment and energy cooperation.

The statement pledges Australian financial support for Vietnam's efforts to respond to climate change, and reaffirms commitment to a Ministerial Dialogue on Energy and Minerals. 

The Queensland government has joined the international Equal by 30 campaign, which aims to deliver gender equality in the clean energy sector. The federal government is already a signatory.

New consultation - biomass power plant. The NSW government has placed on exhibition a proposal by Verdant Earth to restart Redbank power station, with biomass as its feedstock, rather than coal tailings.

The power plant would use up to 700,000 tonnes of "ecologically sustainable biomass", ultimately in the form of purpose-grown energy plantations. Comments are due by 4 April. 

The NSW government has announced partnerships with six companies and organisations that will result in a range of carbon farming projects receiving $23.8 million in public and private funds.

The NSW Primary Industries Productivity and Abatement Program (PIPAP) is investing $6.8 million, and the six grantees are co-investing $17 million.

The successful grantees are 24 Degree Forest, Wilmot Cattle Company, Regen Farmers Mutual, Greening Australia, WWF, and the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

The partnerships include four reforestation projects, a soil carbon project, a blue carbon project, and a beef herd management project. 

The projects will generate Australian Carbon Credit Units and will be implemented on about 100 properties across regional New South Wales, covering about 2,000 hectares of forest and woodland.

Statutory development - offshore wind. A new Victorian government Energy and Public Land Legislation Amendment (Enabling Offshore Wind Energy) Bill would amend Victoria’s public land and electricity legislation to support the establishment of a Victorian offshore wind industry. The Bill would enable licences and permits under these Acts to be granted over public land for up to 21 years, for the purposes of:

• Assessing the desirability or feasibility of constructing or installing offshore electricity transmission infrastructure.

• Determining the optimal placement of offshore electricity transmission infrastructure.

The Bill would also amend the National Parks Act 1975 to make offshore wind energy generation companies public authorities for the purposes of that Act, enabling them to perform functions in relation to parks. 

Statutory development - transmission infrastructure. A new Victorian government National Electricity (Victoria) Amendment (VicGrid) Bill would amend the state's National Electricity Act to:

• Introduce a process for the VicGrid chief executive to make payments to landholders who host transmission infrastructure on their land.

• Confer new functions and powers on VicGrid to plan major electricity transmission infrastructure in Victoria.

• Allow for the declaration of Renewable Energy Zones by the Minister.

Melbourne Water has had a carbon project approved by the Clean Energy Regulator that will allow it to earn carbon credits by reforesting water catchments with native vegetation.

South Australia's Department for Energy and Mining has lodged an EPBC referral for the state government-backed proposed hydrogen project near Whyalla, comprising a 200MW hydrogen power station, 250MWe electrolysers, and a 100 tonne-capacity storage facility.

A total of nine hydrogen projects have now lodged EPBC referrals. 

The Western Australian government has released a new Electric Vehicle strategy

EPA Chair Matthew Tonts is departing the agency to take up a new role as Provost of Curtin University. Tonts, who took up the EPA top role in 2021, will temporarily be replaced by EPA deputy chair Lee McIntosh.

Tonts said he was proud of his time leading the EPA.

"Western Australia's environmental impact assessment process under the Environmental Protection Act leads the nation on the assessment and regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from significant proposals," he said.

Grant opportunity - carbon farming. The Western Australian government is offering a further $2.77 million in carbon farming grants. Applications close on 20 May. 

Issue 34, 4 March 2024

Friday's meeting of the Energy and Climate Change Ministerial Council has agreedto make the development of a renewable energy developer rating scheme a priority. 

The introduction of a voluntary rating scheme was recommended by the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner, in his review of community engagement practices.

Ministers also asked senior officers to present a consumer energy resources road map to their next meeting, scheduled for July. 

Consultation opportunity - clean energy. A DCCEEW discussion paper on the Capacity Investment Scheme says planned 2024 CIS tenders will include a Q2 invitation for NEM-wide bids from generation projects, with an indicative target of 6GW of renewable capacity.

This would be followed by a Q4 2024 invitation for NEM-wide bids for 4GW of renewable capacity and 3GW of dispatchable capacity. A webinar is scheduled for this Friday. Submissions are due by 25 March.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes has released its latest annual state of weather and climate report, which notes that Australia experienced a broad range of record- breaking extremes in 2023.

The Clean Energy Regulator has published FY23 NGER data, which shows that 949 corporations reported a total of 307 million tonnes of scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions. 

This represents an overall decrease in scope 1 emissions of 2.8 million tonnes compared to totals for the previous year. The decrease in emissions mainly came from the electricity generation sector.

A new submission from the Business Council of Australia backs the introduction of a "carefully targeted" Australian Cross-Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), to deal with potential carbon leakage.

The BCA also backs Australia's participation in the G7-led Climate Club initiative, and suggests the Club could help develop and align mandatory emissions product standards. 

The Clean Energy Regulator has approved Solar Accreditation Australia as the new installer and designer accreditation scheme operator for the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).

The move follows a decision by the Clean Energy Council not to re-apply as the accreditation scheme operator.

The latest  Quarterly Update of Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventoryshows greenhouse gas emissions totalled 459.7 million tonnes in the year ending September 2023.  This is a decrease of 0.5% (2.2 Mt CO2-e) compared with the previous year.  

Emissions in the year to September 2023 were 25.4% below June 2005 levels – the base year for Australia's 2030 Paris Agreement target.

The federal government has released guidance for the Australian Public Service on identifying, managing, and reporting climate risks and opportunities.

The federal government has released a  Solar Consumer Guide for households and small businesses.

A Queensland government State Development Area (SDA) declaration for Mackay has set aside 907 hectares of land to be rezoned to support value adding to sugarcane.

"The SDA will see the city become Queensland’s home of an emerging biocommodity industry," the state government says.

The next step will be for the Office of the Coordinator-General to draft a Development Scheme.

Queensland grant opportunity - bioenergy. A new $4 million Bioenergy Fund is offering matched financial assistance of between $250,000 and $2 million.

The Fund will prioritise projects that advance biomass-to-electricity conversion technologies and enable growth in the biogas and biomethane sectors, like cane waste to ethanol. Applications close on 11 April.

A Queensland parliamentary committee has released its report on the Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Bill 2023, recommending that the Bill be passed. LNP members of the committee incorporated a statement of reservation into the report.

Yancoal has made an EPBC referral to develop a renewable energy hub on its Gloucester Valley land holdings, next to its Stratford coal mining complex, which will close this year. The hub would comprise a Pumped Hydro Energy Storage system and a solar farm.

In 2023, the NSW Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure finalisedassessments for 18 State Significant Development renewable energy assessments, comprising three wind farms, six solar farms and nine large-scale batteries, the state government says.

Of these, 13 were approved by the department and five were referred to the Independent Planning Commission for determination, four of which the Commission has now approved, and one is still in progress.

The Victorian government should initially adopt a carbon value of at least $123 per tonne to inform infrastructure planning and business cases, recommends a report released by Infrastructure Victoria.

This value - based on the EU emissions trading scheme price - would be consistent with the interim approach adopted by NSW in February last year, says the report on opportunities to reduce infrastructure greenhouse gas emissions .

"Valuing emissions will ensure that infrastructure project decisions account for climate change impacts alongside other costs and benefits," the report says.

The report, which makes 10 recommendations, notes that up to 70% of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions relate to the lifecycle of infrastructure through operational, enabled, and embodied emissions. 

The main report is backed by a separate technical report prepared by WSP. Infrastructure Victoria will host a webinar on the report on 13 March.

Consultation opportunity - clean energy jobs. The Victorian government has issued a consultation paper on its proposed Victorian Energy Jobs Plan. Submissions are due by 3 April.

Consultation opportunity - Tesla and CEP. Tesla Energy Ventures Australia Pty Ltd has applied to Victoria's Essential Services Commission for a licence to sell electricity in the state. Submissions are due by 29 March.

Meanwhile, CEP Energy Retail Pty Ltd has also applied for a licence to sell electricity in Victoria, with plans to target commercial and industrial property owners. Submissions are due by 28 March.

With a Tasmanian election scheduled for 14 March, Labor has released an energy policy that commits it to exiting the Marinus project "to ensure it can still happen, but Tasmanians won't pay for it".

It would then invest the money saved by exiting Marinus in renewable energy generation projects, via a new government entity called Tasmanian Power Co

However, the Liberals say Labor's approach would "pull the plug on Marinus and gut Hydro [Tasmania]".

"Only a re-elected majority Rockliff Liberal Government will save Hydro and build our renewable energy future," the Liberal party said.

Statutory development and consultation opportunity - climate change. The South Australian government has released a draft Bill to amend the state's Climate Change Act, and has also announced it will advance its renewable energy target. The Bill will:

  • update the state’s emissions reduction for 2030 and 2050.
  • require five-yearly emissions reduction targets to be set between 2030 and 2050.
  • require development of a state emissions reduction plan and a state climate risk assessment.
  • empower the Premier to nominate a public sector entity to prepare a climate change plan for an entity or sector.

The South Australian government has also advanced its renewable energy target by three years, and will now aim for its electricity to be sourced from "net 100% renewables" by 2027.

The new target will be incorporated into the version of the Bill that is introduced into state Parliament later this year. Comments on the draft Bill must be submitted by 5 April.

Five major companies - Amp Energy, Fortescue Energy, H2U, Origin Energy and Santos - have signed development agreements with the South Australian government for the development of the Port Bonython Hydrogen Hub.

Located near Whyalla, the hub will be a common user facility for the production and export of hydrogen, and will be the state's first large-scale clean hydrogen production precinct. Both green and blue hydrogen are likely to be exported from the hub.

The GFG Alliance steelworks at Whyalla could become a major off-taker of green hydrogen from the Port Bonython hub under an agreement signed with the South Australian government. 

Santos has also separately signed its own MOU with GFG Alliance to discuss fossil gas supply and carbon capture and storage opportunities to reduce emissions from the Whyalla steelworks.

The agreement could result in GFG Alliance becoming the first domestic third-party user of the Santos carbon capture and storage project at Moomba.

Meanwhile, the South Australian government will in June invite expressions of interest to prepare a "commercial de-risking study" for the establishment of a hydrogen-based Direct Reduction Iron (DRI) steel plant in South Australia.

The study findings will help determine the industrial precincts and supporting infrastructure required to de-risk investment in green iron and steel in the state.   

The state government aims to establish the DRI plant in South Australia before the end of the decade.  

The state government will also release a Green Iron and Steel Strategy before the end of the year.

The South Australian government has arranged a strong presence at this year's international Fuel Cell Expo in Tokyo, with a focus on its hydrogen and green iron potential.

The government says it has committed $1.2 million to increase South Australia's presence at major international hydrogen events, including the 2024 world hydrogen summit in Rotterdam.

Statutory development - clean energy. The Western Australian Parliament has passed the Electricity Industry Amendment (Distributed Energy Resources) Bill 2023, marking the first major update of the state's electricity legislation in 20 years.

The Bill introduces a new State Electricity Objective that requires electricity infrastructure decision-makers to consider the environment, including greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reliability and price.

It also streamlines and consolidates the codes, rules and regulations used to manage the state's power system and electricity market.

The Bill also establishes the regulatory framework needed to enable customer devices - such as batteries, electric vehicles, and solar panels - to be utilised to support the state's power systems.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation will provide $55 million to help finance Neoen's 219MW Collie Battery Stage 1 in Western Australia, marking the first time it has financed a big battery in the state.

CEFC capital is now backing more than 1,700 MW in new battery capacity across six projects Australia-wide.  

The Western Australian government has lodged a proposal with the federal government to establish a Clean Energy National Centre of Excellence in Western Australia, which would consist of a network of TAFE colleges.

The state government has also submitted an application to access funding to fast-track the development of clean energy training and workforce initiatives.

The Northern Territory government has released an updated guide to critical minerals in the Northern Territory.

Issue 33, 26 February 2024

The Clean Energy Regulator says it will "administer both the Nature Repair Market and the ACCU Scheme to support alignment between carbon and biodiversity markets". 

"Where possible, the Regulator will use its experience to create synergies and streamline processes to make it easier for landholders to participate in both schemes," it says.

The Regulator will be responsible for administering the scheme, and its duties will include:

  • assessing applications to register, vary or cancel projects.
  • ​​​issuing biodiversity certificates.
  • performing ongoing assurance, monitoring and compliance activities.
  • maintaining the public register of biodiversity projects and certificates.

CSIRO and Standards Australia have launched a new resource called HyStandards "to help the growing hydrogen industry find the relevant Australian and international standards for their hydrogen projects".  

Australia is expected to become the second largest net-exporter of low-emissions hydrogen by 2030 and the largest by 2050, according to CSIRO. 

Transcript of a Senate committee's first public hearing into Senator David Pocock's "intergenerational equity" climate Bill will be available here shortly. 

The federal government has granted EPBC approval for the 1.5GW Yanco Delta wind farm in NSW, to be built in the NSW Riverina.

The federal government has released an interim National Action List for offshore CO2 sequestration. The list will be used as a screening tool for sequestration sites.

The government says the list is required to comply with provisions of the Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution.

Grant opportunity - energy efficiency. Small and medium businesses can apply from this week for energy efficiency grants valued at between $10,000 and $25,000. Applications close on 8 April.

Grant opportunity - innovation. The Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII) has opened a new $7.5 million funding round for small and medium enterprises targeting three key challenge areas:

  • Increasing the energy efficiency of commercial fishing operations.
  • Powering safe drinking water for First Nations remote communities.
  • Providing low-carbon packaging for premium Australian wine.

Successful applicants will receive grants of up to $100,000 to develop and test their ideas over three months. The most successful of these ideas may be eligible for a further grant of up to $1 million to develop a prototype or proof of concept.

Applications close on 3 April.

The Clean Energy Council and KPMG have released a guide titled Leading Principles: First Nations and Renewable Energy Projects .

A new Queensland Battery Industry Strategy says the industry has the potential to generate up to $1.3 billion of economic activity and 9,100 jobs by 2030.

The strategy is targeting investment totalling $570 million over the next five years, comprising new and existing funding. 

Queensland Hydro, which was established by the state government to develop pumped hydro projects, has released a draft $50 million community benefits framework. Comments are due by 26 April.

The cost of building and infrastructure damage from natural disasters could almost triple by 2060, without mitigation action, according to the NSW Reconstruction Authority's inaugural State Disaster Mitigation Plan

The plan reveals the cost of building and infrastructure damage from natural disasters could hit $9.1 billion per year by 2060, without mitigation, up from the current level of about $3.1 billion.

Population growth and climate change are the main drivers of the potential cost increase.

The plan proposes the development by mid-2025 of a State policy for large-scale multi-hazard managed relocation, "drawing on the experience of the Northern Rivers and other jurisdictions".

There are two forms of managed relocation, the plan notes - buy-back schemes in which the property owner is responsible for finding a new location, and community relocation, where people are resettled in an alternative location.

Transcript of a 16 February NSW parliamentary committee hearing into under grounding transmission infrastructure is now available.

Consultation opportunity - waste-to-energy. Cleanaway has applied to the EPA for a development licence to establish a waste-to-energy facility at Wollert.

The facility would annually process up to 380,000 tonnes of residual municipal and commercial waste, which would otherwise have gone to landfill. It would generate about 46.3MW of electricity, with 4.7MW used to power the facility, and the remainder exported to the grid. 

Waste ash would be treated at the facility for use as an alternative construction product, and metals will be recovered from the ash for recycling.

 Comments close on 20 March. 

Consultation opportunity - ban on high-pressure sales of energy efficiency products. The state government has released a Regulatory Impact Statement and proposed regulations to ban telemarketing and door-to-door sales under the Victorian Energy Upgrades program. Submissions are due by 18 March.

 The state government will establish an independent review into how energy distribution companies responded to the February 2024 storms.

On February 13, Victoria experienced a catastrophic storm event that caused power outages that impacted more than 500,000 homes and businesses.

Statutory development - CCS. Debate is under way in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly on the Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill.

The Bill provide a legislative framework for the transport and geosequestration of greenhouse gas, and enable the exploration for naturally occurring hydrogen.

Consultation opportunity - offshore wind zone. The federal government is seeking comments by 3 May on a proposal to declare an offshore wind development zone 20 kilometres offshore from Bunbury (WA).

This is the sixth region to be considered as potentially suitable for future large-scale offshore wind projects in Australia.

The federal government has confirmed it will provide $70 million to help establish the Pilbara hydrogen hub, matching an identical commitment made by the WA government in late 2021. 

The project will establish a hydrogen and/or ammonia pipeline between the Maitland and Burrup Strategic Industrial areas, a Clean Energy Training and Research Institute to develop the required skills for the emerging industry, and port upgrades to enable the import of renewable energy generation equipment. 

The hub has the potential to become an export gateway for Australian-made green steel and iron, according to the federal government. The initial focus will be on developing common-user infrastructure.

A company has lodged an EPBC referral for a blue carbon project in the Northern Territory, which will be used as a research pilot for proposed other projects in the Gulf of Carpentaria. 

Verity Nature Pty Ltd's project will follow requirements of the international VERRA method for restoring tidal wetland and seagrass.

Verity Nature was founded by Duncan Van Der Merwe, a former managing director of Tellus Holdings Pty Ltd, and scientist Richard Phillips.

Issue 32, 19 February 2024

A DCCEEW-led Renewable Superpower Taskforce, which also has representatives from Treasury and the Department of Industry, is examining the intensifying global competition for clean energy industries, DCCEEW officials told a Senate Estimates hearing.

The Taskforce findings are feeding into FY25 Budget deliberations about possible additional actions.

The CEFC in December issued a market call for financial intermediaries - banks, non-bank lenders, and others - to deliver its $1 billion Household Energy Upgrades Fund, with responses due by 1 March.

"We are well prepared to start to implement the program in short order after 1 March," CEFC chief executive Ian Learmonth told Senate Estimates. 

The Safeguard Mechanism baseline that is ultimately applied to the Santos Barossa fossil gas project will depend on whether it is classified as a new project, or instead as a backfill to the existing Darwin LNG facility, a DCCEEW official told the Senate Estimates hearing.

The Clean Energy Regulator has yet to decide which of the two classifications is appropriate under Safeguard Mechanism statutory requirements.

"It comes down to the ownership and different structures," the official said.

The emissions limit, or "baseline", that applies to Barossa will be higher if it is classified as a backfill to an existing project, and lower if it is classified as a standalone new facility, the official explained.

Australia's inaugural national climate risk assessment, which is being prepared in conjunction with states and territories, will identify key climate risks on three different time horizons—2030, 2060 and 2090, officials told Senate Estimates.

The project is looking at impacts across a range of sectors, including agriculture, defence, and health. 

The project is examining a 1.5 to two degrees scenario for 2050, and a two degrees to three degrees scenario for 2090.

In other Estimate news:

  • DCCEEW officials rejected a Coalition Senator's characterisation of the proposed fuel efficiency standard as a "cap and trade scheme" on vehicle emissions.
  • ARENA advised Senate Estimates that its $176 million in grant funding to a total of eight grid batteries equated to about seven percent of the total cost of the batteries.
  • The Coalition is "desperately keen to get up an inquiry into transmission lines and where they're going", Liberal Senator Hollie Hughes said. "We're trying to get that through, but we are yet to get support in the Senate for that to occur," Senator Hughes said in an Estimates hearing.

"Our main message today is that export of zero-carbon goods can  underpin a long period of high  investment, rising productivity,  full employment and rising incomes in Australia," Ross Garnaut has told the National Press Club, in a presentation made in conjunction with Rod Sims (TVeeder transcript here).

Garnaut and Sims were speaking in their role as directors of the new Superpower Institute, and they proposed a "carbon solutions levy" on fossil fuel extraction and imports.

Resources Minister Madeleine King has placed nickel on Australia's Critical Minerals List, upgrading its former status as a strategic material.

That potentially gives the nickel industry access to concessional loans from the $4 billion Critical Minerals Facility. 

It could also prompt funding from international financing bodies, like the US Export‑Import Bank, or Japanese and Korean financing bodies, the Minister said. 

Grant opportunity - critical minerals. Minister King has invited applications for a $40 million international partnerships program to build end-to-end critical minerals supply chains. Grants of between $2 million and $20 million are available.

Eligible projects include pilot and demonstration plants, critical minerals processing technologies and the development of downstream processing capability.

The Minister said the four-year grant program would strengthen Australia's international engagement on critical minerals with global partners such as the US, the UK, Japan, India, Korea, and the European Union.

Statutory development - offshore projects. Resources Minister Madeleine King has introduced a Bill that will enable changes to be made to environmental regulations under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act while still protecting NOPSEMA's EPBC right to assess and approve offshore projects.

The streamlined NOPSEMA-led approval process for these projects is provided for through arrangements under section 146B of the EPBC Act that have been in place since 2014.

Minister King noted to Parliament that the government is reviewing the offshore environmental management framework for petroleum and greenhouse gas activities and said the Bill will support the implementation of the review findings. 

Greens leader Adam Bandt criticised the provision in the Bill, saying it would "effectively hand the Minister King broad-ranging powers to reduce environmental and consultation obligations, without oversight from the Environment Minister".

Grant opportunity - energy efficiency. Small and medium businesses can start preparing applications now for energy efficiency grants valued at between $10,000 and $25,000.

The federal government has awarded a $14 million grant to Powering Australia Ltd to establish the Powering Australia Industry Growth Centre, which will help Australian businesses commercialise and manufacture clean energy technologies locally.

Powering Australia Ltd played a key role in establishing the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre.

Statutory development - clean energy. Queensland Premier Steve Miles has introduced the Clean Economy Jobs Bill, which will mandate an emissions reduction target of 75% on 2005 levels by 2035, and net-zero by 2050.

"The '75 by 35' emissions reduction target positions Queensland as a world leader on the pathway to net zero," Miles told Parliament.

The Bill requires the development of sector plans, and by the end of this year the government must publish details of which sectors will be covered, and when the plans will be prepared.

The Bill also imposes a requirement to publish an annual statement on progress towards the emissions reduction targets, and provides for the establishment of an advisory Clean Economy Expert Panel.

In FY23, the NSW Climate Fund spent a total of $268.6 million, according to its latest annual report.

In the same year it received a total of $294.8 million in revenue from electricity retailers.

The NSW DCCEEW has also released guidelines for voluntary house-raising schemes, which deal with house-raising and relocation to higher ground on the same lot.

The guideline has been prepared for councils that are seeking state government funding for voluntary house-raising schemes.

Statutory development - banning fossil fuel advertising. ACT Greens Assembly member Jo Clay has introduced a Bill that would ban advertising by fossil fuel companies at major ACT sporting venues.

Subsidy opportunity - solar for apartments. Applications close 15 April under round one of Solar Victoria's new Solar for Apartments program, which is partly funded by the federal government.

About 12% of Victoria's 2.5 million households live in apartments, with around 63% of these occupied by renters.

Successful applicants will receive rebates of up to $2,800 per apartment, or up to $140,000 per building. 

Owners corporations will have the choice to install either multiple individual solar PV systems, a single large solar PV system coupled with solar sharing technology, or a combination of both.

The Western Australian government will offer royalty relief to WA's nickel industry in the form of a 50 per cent royalty rebate.

It will be available for an 18-month period through a new Nickel Financial Assistance Program, and will apply if the average price of nickel in concentrate is below US$20,000 per tonne for a given quarter.

The Northern Territory government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to further strengthen cooperation on financing energy and infrastructure projects.

The MoU enables the Territory to hold regular dialogue with JBIC officials, on projects such as oil and gas, carbon capture, critical minerals infrastructure, hydrogen, ammonia, renewable energy, and sustainable aviation fuels.

Issue 31, 12 February 2024

Australia's energy rating and labelling scheme (GEMS) saved Australian businesses and households between $12 billion and $18 billion in energy costs, between FY12 and FY22, according to a new report by the GEMS Regulator.

The report also found that GEMS saved between 45 to 67 terawatt-hours of energy, which is about the same amount of electricity that was used by all Tasmanian, Northern Territory and South Australian homes during the same period.

Australia's households and businesses are continuing to install PV at rates unparalleled across the globe, and the uptake of EVs is exceeding forecasts, says a new report from the Energy Security Board on Consumer Energy Resources and the Transformation of the NEM.

The report recommends the establishment of a new consumer energy resources taskforce, and sets out six priorities for the taskforce over the next 12 months.

The net benefit of effective integration and coordination of consumer energy resources has been estimated to be between $1 billion and $6.3 billion by 2030-2040, the report notes. 

Grant opportunity - energy efficiency. Small and medium businesses can start preparing applications now for energy efficiency grants valued at between $10,000 and $25,000.

Japanese energy company ENEOS has made an EPBC referral for a project on Queensland's Bulwer Island that would further develop and test a process using electrolysis to convert toluene, water, and electricity into methylcyclohexane (MCH).

"The production of MCH allows a transportable form of 'green hydrogen' that can be used to decarbonise fuel supply chains," the referral documentation says.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is providing $99 million in finance for renewables company Neoen to develop the second part of its Goyder South Stage 1 wind farm, which will provide firmed clean energy to BHP's Olympic Dam operation.

The investment will support the construction of 203MW of wind capacity and 238.5MW/477MWh of battery storage.

The latest investment means the CEFC has now helped Neoen secure finance for four large battery projects.

In a statement from their Annual Leaders' Dialogue, Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and PNG Prime Minister James Marape welcomed the inclusion of climate change as an area of security cooperation under their Bilateral Security Agreement.

They also noted that Australia has recently completed solar farms in West Sepik and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, and has a pipeline of solar farms and household solar projects that will be deployed this year.

The government's new Investment Mandate for the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) says the entity must be satisfied that its investments align with one or more Australian government policy priorities including:

  • achieving Australia’s net-zero and energy transition goals.
  • economic development in the north.
  • alleviating social or economic disadvantage in Northern Australia.
  • improving First Nations outcomes and contributing to Closing the Gap.

The Investor Group on Climate Change has released its 2023 annual report.

The report shows IGCC members have global assets under management worth A$35 trillion, and almost A$5 trillion locally, up from A$30 trillion and A$3 trillion in 2022 respectively.

Members now also represent more than 14.8 million beneficiaries, up from 8 million when this was last calculated four years ago.

CSIRO and Swinburne University of Technology have established a new partnership focused on green steel and mineral processing research and development. 

A new, CSIRO-led study shows that marine heatwaves are altering the microorganism communities that form the base of the marine food chain, disrupting coastal ecosystems.  

Transcript is now available from public hearings convened by the Queensland Parliamentary committee that is inquiring into the state government's Renewable Transformation and Jobs Bill.

The Australian Energy Regulator is prosecuting the energy entity that trades the output of the Callide C coal-fired power station over a 2021 explosion at Callide C4, which has left the unit still offline.

The AER alleges Callide Power Trading Pty Ltd failed to comply with required performance standards.

Callide Power Trading trades the output on behalf of a joint venture between state government-owned CS energy and Intergen.

The NSW Independent Planning Commission has approved Ark Energy's $569 million Bowmans Creek wind farm, which will be located near Muswellbrook, in the Hunter-Central Coast REZ.

A NSW parliamentary inquiry into undergrounding transmission infrastructure will hold its next hearing on 16 February.

It will hear from representatives of entities including the Australian Energy Regulator, Transgrid, Ausgrid, Energy Networks Australia, EnergyCo, and Iberdrola.

The state government has released the referral for the Victorian component of the Victoria to NSW interconnector, known as VNI West, which will run from Kerang (the NSW connection point) to Bulgana.

The project will require the construction of about 240 kilometres of overhead transmission lines.

Referral documentation says the project will connect power from the wind and solar-rich Murray River REZ and Western Victorian REZ.

It will also provide Victoria with access to renewable energy stored in the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro scheme, and will improve the security and reliability of the electricity network as coal-fired power stations retire, the referral says.

TransAlta has made a referral to construct, operate and maintain up to 150MW of gas reciprocating engines at BHP Nickel West's Mt Keith operations, to meet Nickel West's expanded processing capacity and future growth.

The proposal aims to reduce reliance on TransAlta's existing legacy gas and diesel generation, which would reduce total emissions, and facilitate a greater penetration of renewable energy generation in the future.

In 2020, the existing gas and diesel system produced 352,657 tonnes of emissions. The proposed changes would result in total emissions falling to 271,130 tonnes by 2030.

The referral adds that emissions from the existing system would increase significantly, if it was the sole source of electricity for an expanded Mt Keith operation.

Issue 30, 5 February 2024

The Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner has recommended that an independent body be established to administer an opt-in rating scheme for renewable energy infrastructure developers, which would focus strongly on their community engagement practices.

The report also recommends minimising the need for elongated community
engagement "by re-engineering planning and environmental assessment
and approval processes".

In addition, the report recommends:

  • ensuring jurisdictions have the power to select which developers can prospect and develop projects in renewable energy zones, based on merit criteria.
  • eliminating unnecessary community engagement by selecting the best project sites, and avoiding inappropriate sites.
  • improving community understanding of the need for the transition, including what is to be deployed in their region as well as where, when and why.
  • improving acceptance of transition changes and impacts by
    engaging the community to identify opportunities and enable sustainable
    benefit sharing.
  • establishing an ombudsman in each state and territory to deal with complaints about renewable energy infrastructure projects.
  • running a communications program that gives information to local communities on the reasons for the energy transition.

The federal government has accepted all the recommendations in principle. The National Farmers Federation said the report "lacks teeth" and doesn't go far enough.

A new ARENA-backed 'silicon to solar' roadmap sets out a framework for Australia to become a manufacturer of solar cells and modules.

It recommends that the government declare the development of a solar PV manufacturing industry as a strategic priority, and that it streamline permitting and approval processes, as well as visa pathways for those with solar expertise.

It also recommends that the government provide concessional finance and introduce a payment-for-results production credits regime to bridge the cost gap compared to PV manufacturing in China.

The report was developed by the Australian Photovoltaic Institute (APVI) working with Deloitte and a group of key industry stakeholders including the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP), AGL, Aspiradac, Energus, Siemens, SunDrive, Tindo Solar and 5B.

CEFC-backed Virescent Ventures, which was established to manage the CEFC's early stage climate tech portfolio, is raising a new fund targeting $200 million to further catalyse private sector investment in Australian climate tech opportunities.

The new fund is expected to be corner-stoned by the CEFC. To date, Virescent has backed 33 innovative climate tech businesses, funds and incubators.

APRA, which regulates the finance sector, will this year review the effectiveness of its Prudential Practice Guide CPG 229 Climate Change Financial Risks (CPG 229), with consultations likely to start in the second half of the year.

APRA will this year also ask entities to respond voluntarily to its next Climate Risk Self-Assessment survey, which will provide insights on their alignment to the principles in CPG 229.

For general insurance, APRA will this year continue its work on the Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CVA), involving Australia’s largest general insurers. The insurance CVA will assess the potential impacts of climate change on home insurance affordability out to 2050.

A new Australian Critical Minerals Prospectus released by the federal government showcases 52 investment-ready critical minerals projects.

Former Macquarie executive Ivan Power has been appointed the inaugural chief executive of the National Reconstruction Fund, which will support industry in seven areas, including renewables and value-added resources.

Power is also a board member of Generation Australia, which aims to place people into jobs at scale.

The Senate committee inquiry into Senator David Pocock's intergenerational equity Bill will hold its first hearing on 22 February, while the Senate inquiry into greenwashing will hold its first hearing on 4 March, with the programs for both hearings yet to be finalised.

The federal government has awarded $136.8 million to BlueScope to help finance a blast furnace reline at its Port Kembla steelworks, while Liberty Steel will receive $63.2 million to to replace the existing blast furnace at its Whyalla steelworks with a low-carbon electric arc furnace.

The grants have been awarded through the Powering the Regions Fund.

The Clean Energy Regulator has released its latest Large-scale Renewable Energy Target market data, which shows a total of 2.2GW of new capacity was approved to earn Large-scale Generation Certificates in 2023.

The Australian Energy Regulator's latest Wholesale Markets Quarterly Report shows that average annual wholesale electricity prices in the National Electricity Market (NEM) fell by between 44% and 64% in 2023, and average annual east coast gas market spot prices fell by 43%. 

Prices fell due to milder weather conditions, lower fuel costs, fewer coal supply issues, and an increase in cheap wind and solar supply. 

Consultation opportunity - fuel efficiency. The government plans to legislate a New Vehicle Efficiency Standard, which will impose a gradually strengthening limit on CO2 grams emitted per kilometre by new vehicles sold in Australia.

The standard would operate from 2025 - with one applying to cars and SUVs, and another for utes and light commercial vehicles - and by about 2028 would catch up with the US standard.

Australia and Russia are currently the only developed countries that don't have fuel efficiency standards. Comments are due by 4 March.

Energy Economics has published a paper titled 'Waiting to generate: An analysis of onshore wind and solar PV project development lead-times in Australia', by Thomas Clapin and Thomas Longden.

"There is an enduring knowledge gap about the capacity of regional Australia to meet the growing demand for clean energy workers," says a joint submission by the Clean Energy Council and the Australian Hydrogen Council to Jobs and Skills Australia on its FY25 work plan.

The Queensland Treasury Corporation has issued a $2.75 billion certified green bond, with a coupon rate of 4.75%, and a maturity date of 2 February 2034.

Proceeds from QTC green bonds are allocated against qualifying state green projects and assets that support Queensland's pathway to climate resilience and a sustainable economy.

The latest issuance means QTC now has six green bonds on issue, with a total value of $13.3 billion.

New grant opportunity - low emissions. The Queensland government is inviting expressions of interest from metallurgical coal mines for grants under its Low Emissions Investment Partnerships program.

The LEIP program supports projects that can deliver large reductions in scope 1 emissions.

Queensland’s metallurgical coal mines are concentrated in the Bowen Basin and produce about 90% of Australia’s metallurgical coal exports.

The Independent Planning Commission has approved Elgin Energy's $152 million Glanmire 60MW solar farm, which will be located approximately 7 kilometres east of Bathurst. The project includes a 60MW/120 MW-hour battery.

The Northern Territory government has started consultations on its Remote Power System Strategy (RPSS), which aims to ensure that by 2030, a total of 70% of the electricity consumed in the 72 communities serviced by Indigenous Essential Services comes from renewables.

The initial consultations will involve organisations including Land Councils, regional councils, and Local Aboriginal Corporations. 

Issue 29, 29 January 2024

The Climate Change Authority has released submissions made in response to its NGER survey, and in response to its discussion paper on modelling Australia's emissions reductions pathways.

Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King and WA Mines Minister David Michael last week met with nickel and lithium producers to discuss challenges facing the industry, as well as possible government responses. 

The meetings discussed how to secure market advantage for Australian nickel and lithium, given the ESG credentials of Australian production processes.

Record generation from grid-scale renewables and rooftop solar is triggering a fall in wholesale energy prices and greenhouse gas emissions, according to AEMO's latest  Quarterly Energy Dynamics report.

The increase in renewable energy generation meant that the National Electricity Market also recorded it's lowest carbon intensity on record at 0.59tCO2/MWh.

AEMO chief executive Daniel Westerman noted that rooftop solar met 101% of South Australia's total electricity demand early in the afternoon of 31 December last year.

"On the afternoon of 24 October rooftop solar and grid-scale renewables provided 72% of all electricity across the east coast," Westerman added. 

A Queensland Parliamentary inquiry into the government's Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Bill is currently holding public hearings.

The NSW government is investigating options to expand its Renewable Fuel Scheme (RFS) beyond hydrogen, to include additional renewable fuels and liable parties, and will consult on options in mid-2204.

In its current form, the RFS sets a target for green hydrogen production, starting from 2025. The annual target gradually increases to 8 million gigajoules by 2030. Liable parties under the scheme are natural gas retailers and large gas users that don't purchase gas through a retailer. 

The state government is currently consulting on the first rule for the RFS, which sets out the calculation methods and eligibility requirements to create certificates for green hydrogen production. Comments are due by 2 February.

The Tasmanian government will streamline the approvals process for new renewable energy projects, through a new Renewable Energy Approvals Pathway (REAP).

Components of the REAP will include establishing a Major Renewable Energy Project case management team within government.

In addition, Tasmania will establish assessment protocols in conjunction with the federal government, to prevent delays and the provision of inconsistent advice.

It will also establish a guideline on community benefit schemes specific to Tasmania.

The WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development will run regional carbon farming workshops between February and April.

The WA government has released an updated guide to climate science resources for Western Australia.

Issue 28, 22 January 2024

Although DCCEEW reports annually on progress towards climate targets, it can't demonstrate the extent to which specific programs will contribute towards overall emissions reductions, according to the Australian National Audit Office.

The ANAO audit report on DCCEEW governance arrangements notes that high-level oversight of work on net-zero sectoral plans is being provided by the Net Zero Senior Officials Committee and the Net Zero Secretaries Committee.

The sector plans, which will feed into a new national 'net zero by 2050' plan and Australia's 2035 target, will then be put to the Net Zero Economy Committee of Cabinet for consideration, the audit report notes.

The federal government will provide a $70 million grant to help develop the Bell Bay hydrogen hub in Northern Tasmania, which will produce 45,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen a year – enough to fuel over 2,200 heavy vehicles annually.

The Tasmanian government is leading a consortium of partners, including TasPorts, TasNetworks, TasWater, TasIrrigation and the Bell Bay Advanced Manufacturing Zone, to deliver the project.

Bell Bay is well-suited for a hydrogen hub because of its deep-water port and the state's 100% renewables electricity grid.

Hydrogen hub projects in Kwinana, the Hunter, Gladstone, and Port Bonython have previously been awarded federal funding.

The federal and NSW governments will each allocate $87.5 million over four years for energy efficiency upgrades in the state's social housing.

Meanwhile, a $16.6 million partnership between the federal and Tasmanian governments will fund energy upgrades in more than 1,600 social housing properties, equivalent to about 11% of the state's social housing.

The ACT has become the first jurisdiction to adopt all provisions of the latest (2022) version of the National Construction Code, including the requirement that all new houses have a 7-star equivalent energy rating.

The Victorian government has accepted a referral by Esso for a pipeline that would connect to a proposed carbon capture and storage project off the coast of Gippsland.

Esso's South East Australia CCS hub would initially store CO2 in the depleted Bream field off the coast of Victoria's Gippsland coast.

The CO2 pipeline would be 19 kilometres long, and the shore end of it would be located near the Longford gas conditioning plant.

The CO2 stream available for injection - which is currently separated and vented from the Longford plant - is forecast to average about 0.5 million tonnes annually, with a cumulative injection of approximately 3 million tonnes. The referral also encompasses some changes at the Longford plant.

This initial phase would provide a foundation for potential future expansion, to allow for the injection and storage of CO2 from third party sources.

The Bream reservoir ceased production in September 2020, after more than 30 years of production.

The WA EPA has received a referral from Province Energy Ltd for its HyEnergy green hydrogen and ammonia export project near Carnarvon, that would incorporate up to 6.8 GW of wind and up to 5.2 GW of solar.

Issue 27, 15 January 2024

New consultation opportunity and statutory development - mandatory climate risk disclosure. A federal draft Bill on climate-related financial disclosure would phase in requirements for companies, super funds, and NGER reporters to prepare annual climate statements. 

Matters covered in the statements would include any metrics and targets for scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions (with scope 3 metrics and targets to be disclosed from the second annual statement onwards). Comments are due by 9 February. 

The NSW government has entered a commitment deed with a consortium comprised of ACCIONA, COBRA and Endeavour Energy as preferred Network Operator for the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone.

The 'ACEREZ' consortium has signed on to seek approval to deliver, operate and maintain the REZ transmission network for the next 35 years. 

The state government has also increased the intended network capacity of the Central-West Orana REZ to 6 GW by 2038. The initial network capacity of the transmission infrastructure is expected to be 4.5 GW.

The next step for the Central-West Orana REZ is to complete regulatory and planning approvals ahead of the final contract with the network operator being awarded and financial close, scheduled for the second half of 2024.

The environmental impact statement for the REZ is currently on public exhibition, allowing stakeholders to have their say on the project. Assuming state and Commonwealth planning approvals are granted in mid-2024, construction will start in early 2025, with initial operation in 2027–28.

Two renewable energy generation projects and three long-duration storage projects were successful in the latest tender round of the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, administered by AEMO Services. 

The successful projects, which will receive Long-Term Energy Service Agreement contracts, represent 750MW of renewable energy generation and 524MW/ 4,192MWh of long-duration storage 

They represent $4.2 billion in private sector investment in the state's renewable energy infrastructure, building upon the $4.3 billion in private sector investment committed in AEMO Services' 2 previous tenders.

AEMO Services will conduct biennial tenders in NSW for at least the next decade. 

The NSW government has granted approval for Virya Energy's Yanco Delta wind farm in the state's South West Renewable Energy Zone.

The 1500MW wind farm, comprising 208 wind turbines and an 800MW storage battery, will be built about 10 kilometres north-west of Jerilderie.

Most Victorians are still willing to support renewable energy infrastructure in their local area, such as solar farms (69% ), wind turbines (62%), new transmission lines (64%), large batteries (64%), according to Sustainability Victoria's latest State of Sustainability Report.

But the level of support is between 10 and 20 percentage points lower than was recorded in 2017, says the report, which is based on a survey of more than 2,500 Victorians.

"Careful and well-planned community engagement processes are vital, as once lost, social licence is extremely difficult to regain," the report says.

When asked about the term 'circular economy', 46% of Victorians said they have never heard of it, and a further 26% have heard of it but don't really understand it, the report says.

The Victorian government's new Offshore Wind Implementation Statement 3 deals with matters including procurement and ports, and provides an update on VicGrid's approach to planning the associated transmission infrastructure.

The new statement was released ahead of the federal government's decision that an EPBC referral to assemble offshore wind turbines at the Port of Hastings was environmentally unacceptable, and it describes Hastings as having major advantages for turbine assembly. 

It also outlines workforce opportunities across all stages of offshore wind farm development.

The state government expects to kick off a reverse auction for the supply of offshore wind capacity through an expression of interest phase that will start towards the end of this year, followed by a request for proposal phase in 2025, and contract negotiations and the awarding of contracts in 2026.

The Victorian government has released the Port Phillip Bay Coastal Hazard Assessment, which examines and maps the likely extent of flooding, erosion, and groundwater change over the coming decades.

Amendment VC250 to the Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP) is now in force, which bans new gas connections for new homes, apartments and residential subdivisions that require a planning permit.

Construction of the South Australian component of Project EnergyConnect, the new high-voltage transmission line between South Australia and New South Wales, has been completed.

Project EnergyConnect is the largest transmission project ever delivered by transmission business ElectraNet. The transmission line covers 206 kilometres from Robertstown to the SA/NSW state border.

A WA EPA assessment report on BP’s Kwinana Renewable Fuels Project, says it is good practice to repurpose an old oil refinery for biofuel production.

The facility would process up to 1,600 cubic metres of biofuel feedstock per day, the report notes.

The EPA report proposes approval conditions that would allow the state government to advise BP that a greenhouse gas management plan is not required to be implemented, if the Safeguard Mechanism applies to the facility. 

The proposed conditions include an emissions reduction trajectory reaching net-zero by 2050. 

Infrastructure WA's inaugural annual implementation progress report says the challenge for climate change and sustainability is "to convert innovation into business-as-usual practices". 

It also encourages the development of a short to medium-term implementation plan to support the energy transition. 

Issue 26, 8 January 2024

The Clean Energy Regulator has entered into a contract with Trovio Group to develop and deliver a new Unit & Certificate Register for Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs).

The new register will consolidate the Clean Energy Regulator's current registers, and will progressively also record holdings of international units, large-scale generation certificates (LGCs), and small-scale technology certificates (STCs).

It will also support new future units and certificates, such as Safeguard Mechanism credit units (SMCs) and Guarantee of Origin (GO) certificates.

In a related move, the Regulator and the ASX are working together to develop a carbon exchange market, initially for ACCUs.

The Regulator currently anticipates the Register will be operating by the second half of 2024, and the Australian Carbon Exchange will be launched between late-2024 to early-2025.

Newly-released submissions to a Senate committee inquiry show that the National Environmental Law Association, the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand, and Engineers Australia are among the organisations that support the intent of an intergenerational equity Bill introduced by independent Senator David Pocock.

The Bill would require approval decision-makers for proposed fossil fuel projects to ensure that their scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions don't constitute a material risk to the health and wellbeing of current and future Australian children.

Australia's List of Critical Minerals that are deemed essential to the nation's energy and security requirements has been expanded to include fluorine, molybdenum, arsenic, selenium, and tellurium.

The federal government has also released a new Strategic Materials List of commodities essential for the energy transition, but which are not at risk of supply chain disruptions. The Strategic Materials list includes copper, nickel, aluminium, phosphorous, tin, and zinc.

In addition, the government plans to investigate the creation of Strategic Critical Minerals Hubs around the country. 

Meanwhile, the latest Resources and Energy Quarterly, released by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, has identified a 75% increase in the value of committed critical minerals projects over the past year, from $6.7 billion in 2022 to $11.8 billion in 2023. 

The six projects shortlisted under ARENA's $2 billion Hydrogen Headstart Program are:

  • bp Low Carbon Australia Pty Ltd (H2Kwinana, 105MW electrolyser capacity)
  • HIF Asia Pacific Pty Ltd (HIF Tasmania eFuel Facility, 144MW)
  • KEPCO Australia Pty Ltd (Port of Newcastle Green Hydrogen Project, 750MW)
  • Origin Energy Future Fuels Pty Ltd (Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub, 50MW in phase 1, then up to 200MW)
  • Stanwell Corporation Limited (Central Queensland Hydrogen Project, 720MW)
  • Murchison Hydrogen Renewables Pty Ltd as trustee for Murchison Hydrogen Renewables Project Trust (Murchison Hydrogen Renewables Project, 1,625MW).

The six applicants must now submit full applications for their projects, which are among the largest renewable hydrogen projects in the world and represent a total electrolyser capacity of more than 3.5 GW.

The CEFC is investing $75 million in an equity raise for a new Australia New Zealand Landscapes and Forestry Fund that is targeting $600 million over the next year, and has so far raised $450 million.

The fund will be managed by New Forests, and it aims to deliver one million tonnes of carbon abatement over the next decade.

It will support the development of new plantations, and the conversion of existing hardwood plantations to softwood plantations that have higher carbon abatement potential because of their longer rotation periods.

The plantations will generate ACCUs in recognition of their carbon abatement, and the fund will also invest in agriculture and downstream timber processing opportunities, with the majority of assets located in Australia.

Other participants in the equity raise include German pension fund Bayerische Versorgungskammer (BVK), and one of northern Europe’s largest pension funds, Andra AP-fonden (AP2).

Minister Chris Bowen has made preliminary decisions on the granting of feasibility licences for offshore wind projects in Commonwealth waters off the Gippsland region in Victoria.

Of the 37 applications received:

  • six are under preliminary consideration for the granting of feasibility licences and have begun the next stage of consultation with First Nation groups.
  • six are under preliminary consideration to progress through the regime's overlapping application process, where applicants will be invited to revise and resubmit their applications to remove overlap with other equally meritorious applicants.
  • a preliminary decision has been made to not to proceed to grant a feasibility licence in relation to the remaining 25 applications, on the basis that they are not as meritorious.

If all six proposed projects under preliminary consideration for a licence were to proceed, they could generate 12GW of electricity and create over 25,000 construction jobs and 1,500 ongoing jobs. These numbers would increase if the other six applications resolve their overlap and proceed to commercialisation.

A final decision on licences will be made early this year.

Revised grant opportunity. Applications are now being accepted for grants under ARENA's $40 million National Industrial Transformation Program which, unlike the $400 million Industrial Transformation Stream, is not restricted to regional NGER reporters.

New consultation opportunity - renewables. Firmed renewables are the cheapest form of energy in Australia, according to the draft 2023-24 GenCost report prepared by CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator.

The report shows utility-scale solar and onshore wind costs, including transmission and storage costs, are two to seven times cheaper than new coal and small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).

Updated data on new-build projects found that the cost of onshore wind generation rose by 8%, while large-scale solar PV fell by the same proportion. The cost of gas turbine technologies increased by 14%.  

Comments on the draft GenCost report are due by 9 February.

New consultation opportunity - Safeguard Mechanism. Projects engaged in activities involving on-site electricity production, iron and steel-making, hydrogen production, met coal mining, oil and gas production, lithium ore mining and lithium hydroxide production, or hydrogen production, will be affected by proposed Safeguard Mechanism changes.

The proposed amendments to the Safeguard Rules would finalise remaining production variables, make changes to some existing production variables, and set international best practice benchmarks for priority new activities.

Comments close on 16 January.

The Climate Change Authority in December published its latest appraisal of the ACCU scheme, doing so exactly one year after the Chubb review was released.

The report says the ACCU regime should be amended so it can support engineered forms of greenhouse gas removal, like direct air capture with carbon storage or mineral carbonation, describing engineered removals as "the way of the future for offsets markets", given the need to eventually achieve net negative emissions. 

 The report backs a range of significant changes to the ACCU regime, building on the Chubb recommendations. 

In addition, it notes that the new Australian Carbon Exchange and associated Unit Register (see above) provide opportunities to enhance the transparency of the ACCU scheme, and could pave the way for ratings agencies to enter the market to assess carbon unit quality and provide more information. It points out that these sorts of agencies now operate in the international voluntary carbon market.

A total of 2,400 facilities would have their NGER-reported scope 1 and 2 emissions made publicly available from next year, under a Climate Change Authority recommendation in its appraisal of the NGER scheme.

The requirement would be imposed by requiring facility-level disclosure if facilities emit at least 5,000 tonnes of greenhouse annually, and it would equate to facility-level public disclosure by about 57% of facilities that report through NGER. 

 The 57% of facilities between them would account for 99% of NGER-reported emissions. 

Currently, NGER only requires reporting at the corporate group level. The Authority's NGER review was released simultaneously with its ACCU scheme review. 

The federal government is introducing new vehicle noxious emissions standards from December 2025.

The change will reduce the level of aromatic hydrocarbons to a maximum of 35% in 95 RON petrol. All vehicles will be able to use the new 95 RON petrol. The existing 91 and 98 RON petrol grades and diesel will be unaffected.

Motorists can expect an increase of $8 per year—or 15 cents a week—for an average passenger vehicle running on 95 RON petrol, the government says. Light commercial vehicles can expect a $13 yearly increase.

The government will also delay by 12 months the start date for requirements that petrol sold in Australia contain no more than 10ppm sulphur. The requirement was scheduled to start in 2024, but will now start in December 2025, to align with the new noxious emissions requirement.

The changes will remove almost 18 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector by 2050 and will allow Australia to adopt the Euro 6d noxious emissions standards.

The Euro 6d standards will apply to new light vehicle models introduced to the Australian market from December 2025, and new vehicles from existing model lines from 2028.

Details of a separate Australian fuel efficiency standard, which will regulate average CO2 emissions from new vehicles, are yet to be announced.

Associate Professor Cris Brack, an Australian National University forestry expert, has completed his inaugural six-monthly review of checking procedures for human-induced regeneration (HIR) projects under the ACCU Scheme.

HIR projects must undergo regular "gateway checks" to demonstrate that ACCUs are only being issued for land that is progressing towards forest cover.

Brack's review of a subset of 25 HIR projects found they are demonstrating regeneration, proponents are implementing the project activities, and the projects are subject to strong assurance.

The projects examined by Brack are managed by a range of entities, and vary in their age and location.

Videos of government presentations at Australia's COP28 pavilion are available here (videos from the US pavilion are here, and from the We Mean Business pavilion are here).

ARENA has awarded a $9.75 million grant to utility services provider Intellihub to launch a $22 million Demand Flexibility Platform project targeting 510MW of aggregated residential load under combined control, to be achieved through the enrolment of over 140,000 residential hot water systems and solar PV systems.

Electricity retailers will be able to sign up households to the Demand Flexibility Platform and use it to manage their customers as part of a Virtual Power Plant (VPP). Intellihub will provide the interface between electricity retailers and the customer-owned devices.

Facility decommissioning and greenhouse gas exploration, injection and storage are among the topics covered in a new 2024 to 2027 research strategy issued by NOPSEMA, the offshore oil and gas regulator.

Grant opportunity. Local governments can now apply for grants to reduce emissions from their facilities through the $50 million first-round of the Community Energy Upgrades Fund, with grants of between $25,000 and $2.5 million available. Applications close on 30 April.

The federal government has awarded $9.8 million to five soil carbon research projects, through round two of the National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge.

New consultation opportunity - climate change impacts. Comments are due by 12 February on proposed updates to the Climate Change Considerations chapter in the Australian Rainfall and Runoff Guide to Flood Estimation. 

Transcript of the first hearing of a Senate committee inquiry into residential electrification is now available.

The Clean Energy Regulator has reminded Safeguard-covered facilities to submit their application for an Emissions Intensity Determination for FY24 by 30 April 2024, to avoid being subject to more onerous best-practice emissions intensity values.

The Australian Energy Market Operator has released a report on the potential benefits and risks associated with the rising take-up of EVs.

Issue 25, 18 December 2023

The federal government has provided $87 million to establish a new Cooperative Research Centre for Zero Net Emissions from Agriculture.

The successful Zero Net Emissions Agricultural Cooperative Research Centre (ZNE-Ag CRC) bid was led by the University of Queensland and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and involves a consortium of 73 partners across industry, education and government.

The federal contribution, in conjunction with finance sourced from elsewhere, means the ZNE-Ag CRC has secured a total of $300 million to be spent over 10 years.  

There is a 43% chance that the transformation of the National Electricity Market will follow a "step change" scenario, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator's draft 2024 Integrated System Plan.

However, there is only a 15% chance that it will follow a "green energy exports" scenario, which would align with government ambitions for Australia to become a green energy superpower.

Under the step change scenario, at least 90% of the NEM’s coal fleet is forecast to retire before 2035, and the entire fleet will be retired by 2038, AEMO now says.

Under the step change scenario, the lowest cost, optimal pathway for ensuring secure and reliable energy would involve:

  • Adding close to 10,000 km of new and upgraded transmission by 2050, with around a quarter underway and half to be delivered in the next decade. (If Australia is to pursue the more transformational Green Energy Exports scenario, then over twice as much transmission would be needed, delivered at a much faster pace.)
  • Tripling grid-scale variable renewable generation by 2030 (57GW) and increasing it seven-fold by 2050 (126GW).
  • Adding almost four times the firming capacity from dispatchable storage, hydro and gas-powered generation by 2050 (74GW).
  • Supporting a four-fold increase in rooftop solar capacity by 2050 (72 GW).

Delivering the transmission projects  identified in the ISP would avoid $17 billion in additional costs to consumers, compared to not delivering them, according to AEMO.

Comments on the draft ISP are due by 16 February.

Consultation opportunity. Comments on a new consultation paper on an orderly exit management framework for coal-fired power stations, which would be given statutory force, are due by 2 February.

Grant opportunity. The Australian and UK governments are inviting applications for grants of up to $2 million for hydrogen research, development and demonstration projects. Applications close on 19 January.

The federal government has awarded carbon farming outreach program grants to five organisations - the Aboriginal Biodiversity Conservation Foundation ($2 million, the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board ($1.7 million), Dairy Australia ($1.25 million), the Victorian Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action ($4.3 million, and the Grower Group Alliance ($8 million).

ARENA is providing not-for-profit organisation EnergyLab with a $1.64 million grant to deliver entrepreneurial support services to help develop renewable energy start-ups.

At COP28, Australia became a signatory to a new Joint declaration on ocean and climate action, pledging to consider ocean-based action in its national climate goals, and to develop a Sustainable Ocean Plan.

Other signatories include the US, the UK, France, Indonesia, and Fiji.

Australia also endorsed the Mangrove Breakthrough, which aims to secure the future of more than 15 million hectares of mangroves globally by 2030, underpinned by US$4 billion of sustainable finance.

Statutory development. Queensland's Premier Steven Miles has announced plans to legislate a new 2035 emissions reduction target of 75% below 2005 levels.

A Department of Planning and Environment environmental plantings project has been issued with 24,026 Australian Carbon Credit Units, worth more than $768,800 at the current generic ACCU spot price.

The environmental plantings have been carried out in degraded National Parks reserves that were previously used for forestry, mining or agricultural purposes.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is the first parks agency in Australia to commit to becoming carbon positive by 2028, and the ACCUs will be used to offset any residual NPWS emissions, and generate revenue.

Law firm Herbert Smith Freehills and the Clean Energy Investor Group have released a briefing paper recommending measures to speed NSW approval processes for clean energy projects.

The paper recommends that greater use be made of the Critical State Significant Infrastructure approval pathway (through ministerial declaration), which has proved faster than the State Significant Development pathway.

The NSW Independent Planning Commission has approved the $370 million, 215MW Oxley solar farm proposed for the New England Renewable Energy Zone. The project will also have a 50MW/50MWh battery.

The Victorian government has released an update to the state's Gas Substitution Roadmap, which proposes additional measures to support the move away from fossil gas.

The update notes that current analysis suggests biomethane could supply up to half of Victoria’s existing industrial fossil gas use.

It also notes that most of Victoria’s industrial gas users are located within 20 kilometres of a potential biogas source – around 70% are within 20 kilometres of a landfill site and around 80% are within 20 kilometres of a wastewater treatment plant.

Additional measures proposed in the update include:

  • Investigating options to progressively electrify all new and existing residential and most commercial buildings through a regulatory impact statement process. This process will include an examination of the costs and benefits of requiring existing gas appliances that reach end-of-life to be replaced with electric ones.
  • Releasing a policy directions paper in 2024 on scaling up biomethane and renewable hydrogen production.
  • Expanding the Victorian Energy Upgrades scheme to include incentives for upgrades to efficient electric cooktops.
  • Expanding minimum standards for rented homes to cover ceiling insulation, draught-sealing, hot water and cooling.

A new WA Sectoral Emissions Reduction Strategy (SERS) lists decarbonisation actions to be implemented in the electricity, industry, transport, building, waste, and agriculture sectors.

Actions include:

  • Unlocking additional investment in renewable energy in WA's main energy grid;
  • Facilitating decarbonisation in the Pilbara through common-use infrastructure for the resources sector, including the creation of renewable generation hubs in consultation with Traditional Owners and other affected communities;
  • Developing a Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage action plan;
  • Reviewing the state's Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy.

From 2031 onwards, the WA domestic gas market is anticipated to experience a deficit exceeding 100 terajoules per day, which equates to more than 10% of demand each year, according to a new analysis from the Australian Energy Market Operator.

Issue 24, 11 December 2023

Existing federal and state waste reduction and resource recovery targets are nearly all unlikely to be met, says a new report by consultancy Blue Environment, newly released by DCCEEW.

Goals that are unlikely to be attained include the existing national target for 2030 of 80% resource recovery, the report notes.

The main purpose of the report was to develop new emissions projections for the waste sector, and it recommends that estimates of future landfill emissions shouldn't be based on the assumption that existing waste targets will be achieved.

A new Green Bond Framework released by the Australian Financial Management Office outlines how green bonds will be used to finance eligible green expenditure.

The Framework is aligned to the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) Green Bond Principles. The federal government's first issue of green bonds is expected to occur in mid-2024.

Only 170MW of large-scale renewable energy generation reached Final Investment Decision in the September 2023 quarter, says the latest quarterly carbon market report from the Clean Energy Regulator.

However, the Regulator approved newly-completed large-scale generators with a joint capacity of 608MW to earn large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) in the September quarter, and the annual total capacity approved to earn LGCs in 2023 is likely to be about 2.5GW, it says.

The generic spot price for Australian Carbon Credit Units traded between $30.50 and $32.00 for much of the September quarter, the report says.

A quarterly record of 813MW of rooftop solar was installed in the September quarter.

Australia can use existing technologies to reduce emissions by 52% from 2020 levels by 2030, says a new CSIRO report on on Rapid decarbonisation pathways for Australia.

New consultation opportunity. DCCEEW is seeking survey responses by 22 December on a proposed transport and infrastructure net zero roadmap and action plan.

Statutory development. A new Queensland Rural and Regional Adjustment (Battery Booster Rebate Scheme) Amendment Regulation establishes a Battery Booster Rebate Scheme that will provide a rebate of up to $4,000 to households that purchase an energy storage battery.

The state and federal governments are jointly providing $12 million over two years to fund the scheme, which will be sufficient to assist up to 4,000 households.

Transcript is now available of the first hearing of a new NSW parliamentary inquiry into undergrounding transmission infrastructure.

The WA government and Chevron have jointly established a $40 million Lower Carbon Grants Program, and in tandem will establish a $4 million GreenTech Hub to accelerate green technologies and services.

The Gorgon joint venture is providing the $40 million for the grant scheme, which will fund "large, transformational research and innovation activity".

The state government is currently inviting expressions of interest to administer the GreenTechHub.

The WA government is backing a $1.86 million project to develop climate resilience among Traditional Owners in the West Kimberley. The three year project will be jointly coordinated by the Nulungu Institute Research and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. 

The NT EPA has released its assessment of the Darwin Pipeline Duplication proposed by Santos, which is a component of the company's plans to develop the Barossa gas field.

The EPA concludes the 100 kilometre-long pipeline duplication can be carried out in an acceptable manner, and has submitted a draft approval to the NT Environment Minister.

Issue 23, 4 December 2023

The federal government has released the latest annual climate change statement, along with annual progress advice from the Climate Change Authority, Australia's latest emissions projections, and the latest national greenhouse gas inventory quarterly update.

The documents show emissions are projected to be 42% below 2005 levels by 2030, based on announced policies - just shy of the government's 43% reduction target.

The impact of investments through the National Reconstruction Fund, Hydrogen Headstart, and some streams of the Powering the Regions Fund are not yet included, and could deliver additional emissions reductions. 

The Climate Change Authority advice - which includes more than 40 recommendations - says that every percentage point we fall short of achieving 82% renewables would equate to about two million more tonnes of greenhouse gas abatement that would have to be found elsewhere in the economy, to still achieve the overall 43% reduction target.

Australia's climate has already risen on average by 1.48 degrees since 1900.

Australia’s emissions are now 24.5% below 2005 levels. Minister Chris Bowen's speech to Parliament on the annual statement is here.

The introduction of production incentives to support the transition to net zero emissions "should be an immediate priority", says a new House of Representatives report on advanced manufacturing.

These incentives could be in the form of tax rebates tied to production levels (known as production credits), or other mechanisms, says the report from the House Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Resources.

The report also recommends that the federal government establish "a series of significant government-owned advanced manufacturing common-user facilities in strategic locations across Australia, to make it simpler for manufacturers to access the advanced technologies and infrastructure they need to excel in national priority areas".

The federal government's new Net Zero in Government Operations Strategy and roadmap provides for a whole-of-government approach to purchasing electricity, and sets out requirements for buildings and transport.

Low-emissions requirements will also be phased in for key procurements, including property, fleet, travel, and ICT.

The strategy aims to make the Australian Public Service (excluding Defence and security agencies) net-zero by 2030.

Government entities will be encouraged to nominate a Chief Sustainability Officer role within their organisations to champion the strategy.

Entities must develop long-term emissions reduction plans by 30 June 2024, and must continue to annually report their emissions.

The federal government has published its Investment Mandate for the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation. The Corporation's seven key priorities for investment include renewable and low emission technologies, transport, and value-add in agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

The federal government has awarded two research grants - $2.05 million to CSIRO and $2.3 million to the University of Newcastle - for trials of new technology to tackle ventilation air methane from coal mines. The grants were awarded through the Methane Abatement Fund.

The Climate Leaders Coalition has released a new guide for CEOs on credible transitions to net zero.

Statutory development. The NSW Parliament has passed the government's Climate Change (Net Zero Future) Bill 2023.

The new law will give statutory force to two pre-existing emissions reduction targets (a 50% reduction from 2000 levels by 2030 and net-zero by 2050). After amendments successfully introduced in the Legislative Council, it will also set a new target of a 70% reduction by 2035.

The Bill also establishes an independent Net Zero Commission to monitor, review, report on and advise on progress towards the targets, and establishes guiding principles to address climate change.

Climate change is the NSW EPA's "single most critical challenge and priority", and the EPA Board expects the agency to use "every available regulatory tool to drive decarbonisation, a circular economy and climate change adaptation", says the Board's latest regulatory assurance statement.

An ACT regulation to prevent new gas network connections to buildings will commence on 8 December.

The ACT government has released its FY23 Annual Report under the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act 2010, and the ACT Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report for FY23. 

Statutory development. The Victorian government has introduced the Climate Change and Energy Legislation Amendment (Renewable Energy and Storage Targets) Bill 2023, which brings forward Victoria’s long-term target for net zero greenhouse gas emissions to 2045, increases the renewable energy target for 2030 to 65%, provides a new renewable energy target of 95% for 2035, and introduces energy storage targets and offshore wind energy targets.

The Bill also requires that climate change be considered during the preparation of planning schemes.

Victoria's Essential Services Commission has published new rules that electricity transmission companies must follow when accessing private land in Victoria. The rules are contained in an enforceable Land Access Code of Practice that will take effect on 1 March.

Victoria's overhauled State Electricity Commission's first investment is a $245 million stake in one of the world's biggest battery projects - the $1 billion Melbourne Renewable Energy Hub near the Melbourne suburb of Melton. The state government says the hub will be operational by 2025.

Many of South Australia's climate indicators are in decline, according to a suite of report cards released by the state government. Themes covered by the cards include rainfall, temperature, sea level, and fire danger.

The state government has also released a climate projections viewer for South Australia.

Statutory development. The WA government has introduced the Climate Change Bill 2023, which formalises the government's net-zero by 2050 target, and requires the setting of five-yearly interim targets and budgets.  

The Bill establishes a mitigation hierarchy that entails reducing emissions as the first priority, with offsetting emissions used "only as a last resort".

The Bill will also require the development of an emissions reduction strategy and climate adaptation strategy, the development of sector adaptation plans, and annual progress reporting to Parliament.

Statutory development. The WA government has introduced a Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill that establishes a legislative framework to regulate the storage and transport of greenhouse gas and natural hydrogen.

Hundreds of households in the WA town of Esperance that converted their homes to all-electric will save an average of 38% on their energy bills as a result of the switch, a study has found.

Horizon Power implemented the electrification project after the private gas network supplier ceased operations in March. Horizon Power has published a Knowledge Sharing Report on the project.

The WA government has rebadged its Household Energy Efficiency Scheme as Energy Ahead, and has allocated an extra $10.8 million to it. The program targets low-income households.

Issue 22, 27 November 2023

The federal government has announced a major expansion of its Capacity Investment Scheme (CIS), with the aim of delivering 9GW of dispatchable capacity, and 23GW of variable capacity nationally.

The scheme uses a reverse auction process to award contracts for the supply of renewable energy and storage. The contracts will specify agreed revenue floors and ceilings.

A pilot CIS auction round in NSW has resulted in six contracts being awarded for projects worth $1.8 billion that will deliver 1,075MW of firmed renewable energy by the end of 2025.

The successful projects are AGL Energy's proposed 500MW/1,oooMWh battery at Liddell, Iberdrola's 65MW/130MWh battery in Smithfield (Sydney), Akaysha Energy's Orana Renewable Energy Zone 415MW/1,660MWh battery, and three Enel X virtual power plants.

Pollination Law, a part of global advisory and investment firm Pollination, has supported independent Senator David Pocock's climate change intergenerational equity Bill, in a Senate inquiry submission.

The bill would establish a duty to consider the health and wellbeing of children in Australia when making decisions likely to result in greenhouse gas emissions greater than 100,000 tonnes.

It would also establish a duty not to make certain significant decisions that pose a material risk of harm to the health and wellbeing of children in Australia.

Pollination's submission says the scope of the Bill should be expanded to include significant nature impacts.

Pollination's submission is one of a number newly released by the Senate committee inquiring into the Bill.

ARENA has awarded AGL $864,000 to support testing of a seven-day-ahead energy price forecasting tool that will help commercial and industrial companies to better match their energy demand to available supply.

Melbourne Airport, a logistics company, a major supermarket chain and a water utility are involved in the two-year pricing trial.

Chemicals company WesCEF and gas pipeline business APA Group have received $1.3 million from ARENA to examine the feasibility of producing green hydrogen and transporting it for use at the WesCEF Kwinana ammonia plant.

CSIRO and Swinburne University of Technology’s Victorian Hydrogen Hub (VH2) have launched a $2.5 million clean hydrogen refuelling station in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton, purpose-built for hydrogen research.  

Taking decisive action to become a nature-positive economy could boost Australia’s national income by AU$47 billion by 2050, according to a new paper from consultancy EY.

The report says current "carbon-focused" policies can drive large-scale land sector sequestration, but will deliver almost no habitat restoration, because environmental plantings are more expensive than other types of landscape-based carbon credit projects.

"We contrast this with a more balanced approach to carbon and biodiversity goals. This delivers more than seven times more native habitat at an opportunity cost of 20% less carbon in 2050, relative to the carbon-focused approach," it says.

The proposed "balanced approach" would uses a levy on all carbon sequestration to fund a top-up payment that incentivises restoration of habitat with high conservation values.

Australia has signed an MoU with Indonesia to collaborate on developing electric vehicle supply chains.

Statutory development. The NSW government has introduced the Energy Legislation Amendment Bill 2023, which makes changes designed to smooth the delivery of the energy transition.

The bill amends the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020, and the Energy and Utilities Administration Act 1987, but does not make major policy changes.

The ACT government is now accepting registrations from owners corporations to participate in the Solar for Apartments program, which is co-funded by the federal and Territory governments. The program provides owners corporations with grants of up to $100,000 and access to zero-interest loans.

Landfill gas capture at the ACT's Mugga Lane landfill will be expanded, involving two additional 1MW generators, and an additional 12MW of battery storage.

Issue 20, 12 November 2023

Consultation opportunity. The federal government is inviting comments by 13 December on its consultation paper on a proposed agriculture and land net-zero plan.

The governments of Australia and Tuvalu have signed the Falepili Union treaty, which provides the people of Tuvalu with a "special human mobility pathway" to Australia, and greater assistance and support for climate change adaptation.

The new visa category will allow for up to 280 Tuvalu citizens to come to Australia each year, with special rights to work, study and access services.

Australia will also contribute to the new Pacific Resilience Facility (PRF), a Pacific-built trust fund that will be established to invest in small-scale climate and disaster resilient projects.

ARENA has provided a $5.43 million grant to aerospace start-up AMSL Aero to help develop an aircraft powered by a hydrogen fuel cell system.

The $10.86 million project aims to demonstrate the feasibility of renewable hydrogen as a fuel for a five-passenger aircraft with a range of up to 1,000km.

ARENA has shortlisted 31 applications (seeking a total of $231 million) to submit full applications for funding under round one of its Community Batteries Funding program, with a total of $120 million on offer under round one.

More than 250 submissions about setting and achieving Australia's emissions reduction targets are now available on the Climate Change Authority website.

The website of the National Reconstruction Fund, which aims to increase the flow of finance into sectors including renewables and low emissions technologies, is now live.

A Senate committee inquiring into climate change-related marine invasive species has unanimously recommended that the federal government develop a fishery for native sea urchins, known as Centro, which are becoming invasive in some areas due to climate change.

In additional comments, the Coalition said that "Australia’s fishing and broader marine industries have been exposed to a perfect storm of pressures", by the government.

"These have included the spread of marine seismic surveys, carbon storage, bans on different kinds of fishing and netting, and offshore wind farms," the Coalition said.

The Clean Energy Council's new submission on the government's Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) scheme cautions on the need to closely examine the likely interplay between REGO and the RET in the latter part of the decade.

NSW has taken an innovative approach to decarbonisation, but the competitiveness challenge should not be under-estimated, because many other jurisdictions are also racing towards net-zero, says a new report from the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer.

The decarbonisation innovation study says it is critical that Circular Economy principles and practices are an integral element of the development of NSW's Net Zero economy industries in NSW.

It also notes that Australia’s per capita energy consumption is going in the direction.

Between 2002-03 and 2018-19, Australia’s energy consumption per person increased by 0.2% per year. By comparison, the UK, United States, European Union, Canada and Japan all cut consumption, some by more than 20%.

The federal government has released EnergyAustralia's EPBC referral for a 500MW/2000MWh battery storage system to be located near its Mt Piper power station.

SunCable has announced Tasmania's Bell Bay as the preferred location for the manufacture of its high-voltage sub-sea cables. Currently, all advanced HVDC sub-sea cable manufacturing facilities are located in the Northern Hemisphere.

Bell Bay is the favoured site due to its proximity to one of the country’s few natural deep-water ports, rail infrastructure, and renewable energy infrastructure, according to the state government.

In a new report to the Western Australian government, Chevron says it's Gorgon CCS project has so far injected more than 8.5 million tonnes of CO2.

The company has so far surrendered more than 7.5 million carbon credits to make up for the shortfall between the required injection rate and the actual rate.

Chevron says it has "invested more than AU$3.2 billion in the Carbon Dioxide Injection System with further investment planned in the coming years to improve system performance and increase injection rates".

Consultation opportunity. Comments are due by December 4 on a proposed refresh of Western Australia's critical minerals strategy, with a discussion paper canvassing views on which value chain segments should be prioritised.

Lithium has become Western Australia's second most valuable mineral, after iron ore, new data on mineral and petroleum sales shows.

Lithium (spodumene concentrate) achieved all-time high sales of $21 billion on the back of record prices and expanding production, making it WA's second most valuable mineral. 

Iron ore sales totalled $125 billion, and the value of LNG sales surged to a record $56 billion, almost $18 billion more than in FY22.

A proposal by Woodside Energy to revegetate up to 5,700 hectares of state-managed degraded land in Perth's north and Midwest has been invited to Stage 3 assessment under the Western Australian government's Carbon for Conservation Market-led Proposal process.

The proposal would involve planting native species that benefit Carnaby's Black Cockatoo over multiple years, while potentially providing increased employment opportunities for Aboriginal people and the local community.

Unsuccessful project proponents, that did not progress past stage two, include GreenCollar, CO2 Australia, and Corporate Carbon.

Issue 19, 6 November 2023

Measures to help mobilise the private investment required to achieve a net-zero economy are outlined in a new draft sustainable finance strategy, released by Treasury.

The strategy comprises three pillars, each underpinned by a range of priorities:
* Pillar 1: ensuring that markets have access to high-quality and comparable information to assess the financial risks that climate change and other sustainability issues present to firms, and the impact of firms on the climate and environment.
* Pillar 2: ensuring that financial regulators are well supported in their efforts to address the impacts of climate change on businesses and the financial system.
* Pillar 3: ensuring government takes a leading role in supporting the development of sustainable finance markets and shaping international developments in sustainable finance markets, including through sovereign green bonds.

Comments are due by 1 December.

Five climate-tech start-ups have received a total of $580,000 and business development support through a Climate 10x Accelerator program backed by the federal government, industry, UNSW and the University of Newcastle.

They include SoNiA Green Tech, which has discovered a novel way to manufacture polymer-modified bitumen to significantly reduce energy usage and incorporate waste plastic.

A total of 399MW of large-scale generation was approved to earn large-scale generation certificates in September, bringing the total approved in 2023 to 1,559MW, according to new data from the Clean Energy Regulator.

Australia has supported a proposal put forward by the US and the EU for the World Bank to operate the proposed new international Loss and Damage Fund that would assist vulnerable countries to respond to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

Giving the World Bank a key role in administering the fund would "allow it to start providing funding to where it's needed quickly," Australia's ambassador for climate change Kristin Tilley told Senate Estimates.

Solar technology company SunDrive Solar will use a new $11 million ARENA grant to expand its novel solar cell metallisation technology from prototype-scale (1.5 MW/yr) to commercial capacity (>100 MW/yr).

SunDrive has developed a solar cell metallisation technology that uses copper, a metal that is approximately 100x cheaper and 1000x more abundant than commonly used silver.

The Investor Group on Climate Change has released a discussion paper on making sector transition plans investable.

The Queensland government has announced a $1.3 billion package to progress work on CopperString, which will be Australia’s largest transmission project.

The project will help develop the North West Minerals Province, and the renewable energy potential of North Queensland - ready for construction to start in mid-2024.

The funding package will enable state government-owned Powerlink, alongside construction partners UGL and CPB, to undertake detailed design and engineering and environmental assessments. 

The NSW EPA is developing a Protection of the Environment Policy for Sustainable Construction to help reduce embodied emissions in public infrastructure, and to promote the use of recycled materials in infrastructure projects.

The proposed policy is revealed in a progress report on implementing the EPA's climate change action plan.

The progress report also says the EPA is currently establishing climate change industry advisory groups for the mining and agriculture sectors.

The agency is also developing climate change assessment requirements and guidance to ensure project proponents adequately consider climate change in environmental impact assessment processes. It has already started applying interim climate change assessment requirements to large emitting projects.

In addition, it is trialling new methane measurement and monitoring techniques with the University of New South Wales.

AEMO Services has opened registrations for the fourth tender of the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, seeking generation projects located anywhere in NSW that can demonstrate benefits to host communities and financial value to NSW electricity consumers.

Successful participants will be awarded Long-Term Energy Service Agreements (LTESAs), which provide the necessary insurance against future price risk to help fast-track project development.

The 2023 annual update on Victoria's transmission infrastructure, prepared by the Australian Energy Market Operator, notes that the state government will introduce a Bill in early 2024 to establish the Victorian Transmission Investment Framework (VTIF).

The VTIF will guide the planning and development of major electricity transmission infrastructure and Renewable Energy Zones.

Statutory development. Debate has started in the Tasmanian Parliament on the Water Miscellaneous Amendments (Delegation and Industrial Water Supply) Bill 2023.

The Bill will enable Tasmanian Irrigation to supply bulk raw water for hydrogen production.

Statutory development. The South Australian Legislative Assembly has passed the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy (Energy Resources) Amendment Bill, and it will now go to the Legislative Council.

It is based very closely on a Bill introduced by the former state government. However, a significant difference is that this version would introduce a rental payments regime for use of the voids in which CO2 is stored in the state, unless the CO2 comes from sources within Australia.

The rental regime would also apply to the storage of CO2 removed from the atmosphere by Direct Air Capture in Australia, under contract to an international company that is looking for sequestration options that match its overseas emissions.

Issue 18, 30 October 2023

Consultation opportunity. The Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) has released draft Australian sustainability standards focused on the disclosure of climate-related financial information.

The AASB is the federal government's accounting standards body.

The draft Australian standards, which are based on disclosure standards published by the international IFRS Foundation, are open for comment until 1 March.

EY has released a briefing that examines differences between the proposed Australian standards, and the IFRS standards.

The CEFC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to cooperate across the hydrogen, renewable energy and electricity infrastructure sectors as both nations strive to decarbonise their economies. 

Under the MoU, the CEFC and JBIC will consider co-investment opportunities in Australia, and will share investment knowledge and experience to support and fast track investment in the clean energy transition in Australia and Japan. 

In the latest investment under the federal hydrogen hubs program, the federal government will invest $69.2 million to develop the Central Queensland hydrogen hub in Queensland.

The hub could produce up to 292,000 tonnes of hydrogen by 2031, for use domestically and for export. Stanwell Corporation is leading the consortium developing the project, with industry matching the federal contribution. Construction will start next year.

Law firm Gilbert + Tobin has issued a review of a "busy month in Australian climate litigation", which discusses the implications of three significant court cases.

Consultation opportunity. The Australian Energy Regulator has released a draft directions paper on social licence issues for electricity transmission infrastructure, with comments due by 1 December.

The federal government has announced a $2 billion expansion of the Critical Minerals Facility, which previously had a $4 billion allocation, while an Australia-US Taskforce on Critical Minerals held its first meeting last week.

Statutory development. The Queensland government has introduced an Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Bill, which will give legislative force to the state targets of 50% renewable energy by 2030, 70% renewables by 2032, and 80% by 2035, and create a reporting and review mechanism.

The Bill also requires the government to prepare a strategy that will deliver 100% public ownership of transmission and distribution assets, 100% public ownership of deep storage assets, and at least 54% public ownership of generation assets.

In addition, the Bill enacts a Priority Transmission Investment framework to facilitate the identification, assessment, and construction of high-voltage backbone transmission infrastructure, as well as a framework for declaring and managing Renewable Energy Zones.

It also requires the development and regular updating of a Queensland SuperGrid Infrastructure Blueprint, and provides for a Priority Transmission Investment framework to facilitate the rapid deployment of renewables.

It also enshrines in law the state's Job Security Guarantee, to ensure workers in coal-fired power stations have a secure future, and clear employment pathways.

The Bill will also establish three new advisory bodies – the Queensland Energy System Advisory Board, a tripartite Energy Industry Council, and a Queensland Renewable Energy Jobs Advocate to advise on work opportunities.

The Queensland government has released a Clean Energy Workforce Roadmap.

Lockyer Valley Regional Council has received approval from the Clean Energy Regulator to earn carbon credits by diverting kerbside-collected food and garden organics from landfill.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has placed on exhibition GMR Energy's proposed $209 million, 150MW/300MWh Armidale Battery Energy Storage System, with comments due by 23 November.

Grant opportunity. Applications from Victorian manufacturers must be submitted by 13 December for grants of between $100,000 and $750,000 to support projects that contribute to the state's transition to net-zero. The grants are being offered through the Made in Victoria - Energy Technologies Manufacturing Program.

Victoria's fledgling State Electricity Commission has released its 2023-2025 Strategic Plan. The plan says the SEC will invest an initial $1 billion to help support 4.5GW of new renewable energy generation and storage.

The Tasmanian government has launched an $8 million Green Hydrogen Price Reduction scheme, to encourage businesses to produce, sell and use green hydrogen in the state.

Applicants will be asked to nominate their proposed sale price of green hydrogen and their cost of production. Payments to successful recipients will cover the difference between the cost of production and a competitive sale price for their green hydrogen.

The scheme aims to support green hydrogen projects ranging in size from 5MW to 10MW.

Consultation opportunity. The Tasmanian government has released a draft emissions reduction and resilience plan for the transport sector, which is accompanied by a "state of play" report on the sector. Comments are due by 29 November.

The federal government is consulting on a proposed offshore wind zone in Bass Strait, off the Tasmanian coast, with comments due by 31 January.

The South Australian government has announced that a consortium comprising ATCO Australia and BOC is its preferred partner to design a hydrogen production and generation project at Whyalla that will incorporate 250MW of electrolysers. EPIC Energy will provide a dual-purpose storage and transmission pipeline for the facility.

More than 2,600 Synergy customers with solar power have signed up to the Western Australian government's Solar Rewards scheme, which gives them a $100 electricity bill credit if they agree to allow Synergy to briefly turn off their solar when electricity demand is low and solar generation is high. The scheme went live on 1 October.

Issue 17, 23 October 2023

Consultation opportunity. A discussion paper on the future of the Climate Active program proposes raising the bar for certification, by requiring certified entities to prepare strategies to reduce scopes 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions.

Tighter constraints would also apply to the use of international offsets, and certified organisations would have to source at least a certain amount of their electricity from renewables.

Comments are due by 15 December.

The Clean Energy Regulator's latest quarterly carbon market report says the ACCU price trended down over the second quarter of 2023, while only a modest 526MW of new large-scale new renewables generation reached a final investment decision.

The Climate Change Authority has released a CSIRO report on reducing the costs of CO2 sequestration.

Large battery storage projects in Victoria and South Australia, as well as other projects in the two states capable of providing dispatchable energy to the grid, can now take the first step towards applying for support through federally-administered Capacity Investment Scheme (CIS) agreements.

The agreements provide project developers with greater investment certainty, by specifying an agreed revenue floor and ceiling.

The SA-Vic CIS process will target 600 MW of dispatchable renewable capacity with 4-hour-equivalent duration across the two states.

The Clean Energy Regulator has released guidance for facilities covered by the Safeguard Mechanism on applying for an Emissions-Intensity Determination (EID). An EID will be crucial in calculating a facility's Safeguard liability.

Grant opportunity. ARENA has invited expressions of interest from proponents of large-scale renewable hydrogen production projects for funding through the $2 billion Hydrogen Headstart Program. Expressions of interest must be lodged by 10 November.

A joint parliamentary committee on trade and investment has released a report on transitioning Australia to a green energy superpower, which recommends the development of a cross-portfolio national green energy superpower strategy.

"Supporting the net zero transformation" is one of the national priorities listed in the new five-year National Skills Agreement struck between the federal, state and territory governments.

Climateworks has released a report on Delivering Freight Decarbonisation.

There are currently 18 CCS projects at various stages of progress in Australia, aiming to jointly sequester 20 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2035, according to Resources Minister Madeleine King. 

Submissions to a Senate inquiry on residential electrification are now available.

The FY23 annual report of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is now available.

The Clean Energy Council has released a package of 45 recommended measures to ensure Australia reaches 82% renewable energy by 2030.

Statutory development. Queensland's Parliament has passed the Gas Supply and Other Legislation (Hydrogen Industry Development) Amendment Bill, which expands the scope of legislation regulating the transport of petroleum and fossil gas to encompass hydrogen and other renewable gases.

Emerging carbon and nature markets will be pivotal in encouraging landholders to go beyond mere compliance with native vegetation protection laws, according to a Queensland government response to an independent review of land clearing in the state.

The report of the panel, led by Professor Hugh Possingham and with members including Professor Andrew Macintosh, as well as the government's response, are now available.

The panel proposes an 'engage, inform, incentivise and reward' approach. It says changing legislation can cause panic clearing, and there are now greater opportunities for landowners to benefit by protecting biodiversity and storing carbon.

"Queensland has an opportunity to become a world leader in carbon- and biodiversity-friendly farming and to realise a significant market advantage as a result," the panel says.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni have officially opened the 180MW Octopus/RES Dulacca wind farm.

State-owned CleanCo has a power purchase agreement to take 70% of Dulacca's output.

The state government has announced a range of new measures to encourage high quality engagement and local participation in preparations for regional energy projects.

The state government will also examine whether the role of the state's GasFields Commission - which aims to ease tensions between gas projects and farmers - should be expanded to include promoting coexistence among renewable energy developments, resource projects, agriculture, and other industries.

Logan City Council has received a $291,785 ARENA grant to investigate producing bio methane, biochar and fertiliser from kerbside-collected food and garden waste. The waste would be processed at the Loganholme wastewater treatment plant.

The state government is seeking responses by 30 October to a survey on zero-emission vehicles.

Statutory development. The NSW government has introduced its Climate Change (Net Zero Future) Bill, to enshrine the state's emissions reduction targets in law and establish an independent, advisory Net Zero Commission that will also play a role in promoting climate action in the state.

The Bill will give legislative force to the state's existing targets of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030, and reaching net zero by 2050.

Consultation opportunity. The NSW government is seeking feedback by 15 November on proposed changes to its Peak Demand Reduction Scheme.

New amendments to Victoria's 2020 rehabilitation strategy for the Latrobe Valley's three brown coal mines focus to a large extent on the crucial issue of their access to water, to enable their conversion to pit lakes.

The amended strategy says potential access to surface water for mine rehabilitation should be restricted to the wettest times of the year, and mine licensees will not be allowed to take more surface water than they have historically used. The amendments leave open the option of using desalinated or recycled water.

Depending on when each mine closes, and if each void needs water, up to 2,800GL could be required, equivalent to six times Melbourne's annual water use.

A new FY23 progress report on Victoria's VRET scheme says that renewable energy sources accounted for 37.8% of Victoria’s electricity generation in FY23, up from 34.1% in FY22.

As at 30 June 2023, there were 17 renewable energy generation projects under construction or undergoing commissioning in Victoria, with a combined capacity of 1,734MW. A total of 551MW of rooftop solar was also installed.

The state government has relaxed rules for access to its Solar Homes rebate and interest-free loans, and will now allow homeowners to access the program again if they move to a new property. It will also allow homeowners to access it to replace PV systems that are more than 10 years old.

The Tasmanian government has released the implementation plan for its Climate Change Action Plan, which describes the lead agency, approach and timeframe for completing each action.

Statutory development. Western Australia's Legislative Assembly has passed the Electricity Industry Amendment (Distributed Energy Resources) Bill, and it is now before the Legislative Council. The Opposition has indicated its support for the government Bill.

The Bill introduces an overarching state electricity objective that includes an environmental consideration, streamlines regulatory arrangements for the state's major grid, and includes measures to support the uptake of distributed energy resources.

South Korean steel company POSCO and French energy company ENGIE will jointly study the feasibility of using renewable hydrogen to power POSCO's proposed Hot Briquetted Iron (HBI) plant in Port Hedland, the state government has announced.

Issue 16, 9 October 2023

The federal government has gazetted National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (Safeguard Mechanism) Amendment (Production Variables Update) Rules that update production variables and industry average emission intensities.

The variables and intensity values are used to calculate emission limits (known as baselines) that apply to facilities covered by the Safeguard Mechanism.

Consultation opportunity. A new federal consultation paper canvasses views on a proposed Future Gas Strategy that will provide a medium (to 2035) and long-term (to 2050) plan for domestic gas production and consumption. Comments are due by 13 November.

The paper discusses Australia's LNG exports, and the use of fossil gas for industrial heat and as a feedstock.

The Australian Institute of Company Directors has released a director's guide to mandatory climate reporting.

"Successful businesses will approach climate reporting as a strategic opportunity to demonstrate the value and the resilience of their organisation, rather than a compliance 'tick box' exercise," it says.

The federal government has released a report prepared by Jobs and Skills Australia on the workforce needed for a net-zero economy.

Based on preliminary modelling, it concludes Australia will need close to two million workers in building and engineering trades by 2050, an increase of around 40% on current numbers.

Depending on different policy approaches to reaching renewable energy goals, the preliminary modelling shows Australia will need approximately 26,000 to 42,000 more electricians in the next seven years.

The Australian Energy Regulator's latest annual State of the Energy Market report, which examines electricity and gas markets, concludes that the greatest challenge for the energy transition is delivering major transmission projects in a timely, least-cost manner.

Videos of keynote addresses from the Investor Group on Climate Change summit in Sydney are now available. Speakers include Professor Mark Howden, Frank Jotzo, Assistant Climate Change Minister Jenny McAllister, and farmer and scientist Dr Anika Molesworth.

Edify Energy's 600MW Smoky Creek solar farm, to be located south of Rockhampton, has received EPBC approval.

The NSW government has released a new net-zero emissions policy for heavy road and rail freight.

The strategy covers regulatory matters, such as removing regulatory incentives for high-emitting vehicles, advocating for the adoption of Euro VI and Euro VII emissions standards, and working with other jurisdictions on appropriate road user charging for low- and zero-emissions vehicles.

The WA government is seeking expressions of interest from large businesses that intend seeking significantly more low-emissions electricity from the South-West grid before 2030, or that plan to connect large-scale generation projects to the South-West grid in the same timeframe.

The EoI process aims to clarify the customer base that will shape future major transmission projects (including potential renewable energy generation hubs), and to prioritise areas for grid investment.

Registrations of interest must be submitted by 1 November.

Issue 14, 25 September 2023

Consultation opportunity. DCCEEW has released for comment a detailed design for Australia's proposed Guarantee of Origin (GO) scheme, which would certify and track the emissions from hydrogen-related projects, and which will also encompass renewable electricity. Comments on the 'REGO' renewable electricity design are due by 17 October, and on other GO aspects are due by 14 November.

Grant opportunity. The federal government is offering grants of up to $15 million for carbon capture or use projects. Expressions of interest must be lodged by 31 October.

New data shows the Clean Energy Regulator paid a total of $36.48 million for 2.58 million ACCUs that were surrendered to it in FY23 under fixed delivery contracts.

This is less than a third of the $107.34 million that it spent buying 8.56 million ACCUs in FY22, with the drop attributable to a market change allowing ACCU holders to exit their delivery contracts with the Regulator, and instead sell them elsewhere.

The Climate Change Authority will host a 17 October webinar on its latest review of the ACCU scheme.

The federal government has cancelled more than 700 million stockpiled Kyoto Protocol-era "carryover" carbon credits, meaning they can't be used to help meet the nation's Paris Agreement emissions reduction commitment.

Tender opportunity. Queensland government-owned CleanCo is inviting expressions of interest from proponents of generation and storage projects that are interested in participating in its Swanbank Clean Energy Hub. Tenders close 20 October.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has placed on exhibition a proposal by Oxley Solar Development Pty Ltd for a 215MW solar farm and a 50 MW/50 MW-hour battery,to be located near Armidale in the New England Renewable Energy Zone.

Also on exhibition are OMPS's Oven Mountain 900MW pumped hydro energy storage project, also proposed for the New England REZ, and the Silver City compressed air 200MW/1600MWh energy storage project proposed by A-CAES NSW Pty Ltd for Broken Hill.

Consultation opportunity. The Victorian government has released a discussion paper on the use of renewable gas by industry. Submissions are due by 6 October.

The Victorian Essential Services Commission has released the 2022 performance report for the Victorian Energy Upgrades program, showing that about 7.8 million certificates were registered in that year. There is also growing business interest in earning certificates from complex "project-based activities".

Issue 13, 18 September 2023

Statutory development. Parliament has passed the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Amendment (Administrative Changes) Bill, which aims to streamline the GEMS energy rating and labelling scheme.

Parliament has instructed the Climate Change Authority to provide advice on potential technology transition and emissions pathways that best support transition to net zero by six sectors.

The Authority must provide its advice by 1 August 2024. Work is already underway in the Authority to develop advice on Australia’s 2035 emissions reduction targets, with its advice on targets due by 1 October 2024.

Consultation opportunity. A new federal government green paper on aviation out to 2050 floats the possibility of measures such as Sustainable Aviation Fuel targets, or a low carbon fuel standard. It also discusses electrification and hydrogen. Comments are due by 30 November.

DCCEEW has released an interim guideline for organisations seeking to draft new methods for creating ACCUs, for consideration by the new Carbon Abatement Integrity Committee.

The Chubb review of the ACCU scheme recommended that proponents be allowed to develop and propose new methods for the creation of ACCUs.

An alliance of clean energy and environmental organisations, and the ACTU, has urged the federal government to commit to a ten-year $100 billion Australian Renewables Industry Package, partly in response to the US Inflation Reduction Act.

The federal government has cancelled about 700 million Kyoto "carryover credits", which means that it can't use abatement nominally achieved more than a decade ago to help meet its 2030 international emissions reduction pledge.

COP28 president, Sultan Al Jaber, has appointed Australia's assistant climate change minister Jenny McAllister, and Chile's Environment Minister, Maisa Rojas, to guide discussions at the COP on climate change adaptation.

Consultation opportunity. A Senate committee inquiry into the Northern Territory's Middle Arm precinct is accepting submissions until 31 October.

The Victorian government has accepted an environmental referral for Neoen's proposed 600MW Navarre wind farm and battery energy storage system, which would be located about 190 kilometres north-west of Melbourne.

The Tasmanian government has signed a Joint Declaration of Intent with the German city of Bremen to collaborate on green hydrogen development.

The South Australian government has introduced the Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Bill, which is intended to provide a coordinated approach to administering the state's hydrogen and renewable energy industries.

The Bill introduces a new system for conferring access and licences for projects on pastoral land and state waters.

It also creates five licence types relating to the key stages of renewable energy projects - renewable energy feasibility licences and permits; infrastructure licences; research licences; hydrogen generation licences; and associated infrastructure licences.

Comments are due by 19 September on BP's EPA referral for a renewable diesel and avgas project at Kwinana in Western Australia that would use vegetable oils, animal fats and other biowaste as feedstock.

The WA EPA has recommended that Woodside's proposed solar farm near Karratha be approved. The solar farm would initially have a capacity of 100MW, but would be capable of expansion to 500MW.

Issue 12, 11 September 2023

Consultation opportunity. Andrew Dyer, the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner, has released a discussion on paper for his review of community engagement practices for electricity infrastructure. Responses are due by 1 October.

The Investor Group on Climate Change, CDP, and the UN PRI have jointly urged the federal government to ensure its proposed mandatory climate-related financial disclosures regime establish a framework for developing and disclosing 1.5 degree-aligned transition plans.

Consultation opportunity. The Department of Industry, Science, and Resources has released draft national science and research priorities, with priority one being 'Ensuring a net zero future and protecting Australia’s biodiversity'. Comments are due by 29 September.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has committed up to $75 million to a new investment mandate targeting upgrades that reduce the operational emissions of commercial offices, hotels and shopping centres by at least 30%. The CEFC's investment will be managed by commercial real estate investment manager, MaxCap Group.

A Senate committee inquiring into climate-related marine invasive species is due to release its report tomorrow.

A Senate select committee inquiring into Australia's disaster resilience will this month hold hearings in Townsville, Darwin and Brisbane.

ANU Professor Frank Jotzo has been appointed to advise DCCEEW as it investigates the merits of a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism or other measures to ensure large-emitting, trade-exposed businesses in Australia remain competitive as they decarbonise.

The federal government has appointed Professor Karen Hussey as full-time Chair of the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee (ERAC), the statutory body responsible for ensuring the integrity of Australia’s carbon crediting scheme.

A new Greens-instigated Senate inquiry into the Middle Arm industrial precinct in the Northern Territory will examine its role, any climate, environmental, health or cultural heritage impacts that might result from the project, and the conduct of the proposed strategic environmental assessment.

At the ASEAN leaders summit in Jakarta, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced $50 million in funding to help Indonesia de-risk private infrastructure projects to support its net-zero ambitions, and $100 million to support its sustainable finance and Just Energy Transition agenda.

The federal government has released a new South East Asia economic strategy that includes a section on the green energy transition.

The Queensland government has launched a Climate Smart Energy Savers program that provides rebates of up to $1,000 to households purchasing energy efficient appliances, heat pumps or solar hot water systems.

Consultation opportunity. The NSW government has started consultations on a proposed critical minerals and high-tech metals strategy, with comments due by 17 November.

The NSW government will increase coal royalty rates by 2.6 percentage points from 1 July 2024, which will improve NSW's Budget position by more than $2.7 billion over four years.

The NSW government has released its response to the independent Electricity Supply and Reliability Check-up.

Victoria's Minister for Industry and Innovation, Ben Carroll, has announced recipients of the latest round of the Low Carbon Manufacturing Grants Program, to help small and medium-sized manufacturers capitalise on renewable energy opportunities.

Issue 11, 4 September 2023

Grant opportunity. The Powering the Regions Fund will shortly accept applications for grants of between $1 million and $100 million to help cement, lime, alumina and aluminium facilities decarbonise. Applications must be submitted by 2 November.

Reserve Bank deputy governor Michele Bullock, who shortly be the bank's governor, has delivered a speech on the RBA's approach to climate change risk.

Urgent and ongoing investment is needed to maintain energy reliability in the National Electricity Market, according to the latest Electricity Statement of Opportunities report from the Australian Energy Market Operator.

Townsville City Council will earn carbon credits from the introduction of a FOGO kerbside collection, following its registration of a new ERF project, and a Perth-based electric vehicle leasing and rental company, CarBon Leasing and Rentals, has registered a new ERF project under the transport method.

APRA's corporate plan for FY24 says it will conduct a climate vulnerability assessment to assess the implications of climate risk for general insurance access and affordability.

The Clean Energy Regulator has released its corporate plan for FY24 to FY27. and the Climate Change Authority has released its FY24 corporate plan.

Facilities covered by the Safeguard Mechanism have until 15 November to apply to the Clean Energy Regulator for a multi-year emissions limit to help manage their FY23 excess emissions.

The latest progress report for Snowy 2.0 shows total project costs are now expected to be $12 billion, with full power not delivered until December 2028.

A new report from the Australian Energy Market Commission recommends that Australia aim to ensure all energy consumers have smart meters by the start of the next decade.

The Australian Energy Market Operator will conduct a two-stage tender process for 600MW of dispatchable renewable energy generation and storage in Victoria and South Australia, which is expected to add 6GW to support grid reliability and storage. Further tenders will occur in the two states in 2024.

The federal government is inviting applications for greenhouse gas storage exploration in 10 areas.

Queensland government-owned energy company Stanwell has signed an MoU with global renewables company RWE, with a key focus being the development of two new wind farms by 2029 - the 1,100MW Theodore wind farm in central Queensland, and a 720MW project in southern Queensland.

Ten coastal councils in Queensland will share $3.3 million in state government funding for projects to protect their communities from erosion, storm tides, and the threat of rising sea levels.

The NSW EPA has issued a draft guideline on carbon offsetting for electricity firming infrastructure, which specifies that offsets must be ACCUs from projects in NSW.

The NSW government has placed on exhibition Vena Energy's proposal for a 408MW battery storage system at Bellambi Heights.

The NSW government has placed on exhibition Transgrid's application for environmental approval for HumeLink, transmission infrastructure that will run 360 kilometres from Wagga to Maragle and Bannaby.

A NSW parliamentary committee has issued a report in which government members concluded that HumeLink needed to be an overhead transmission line.

The report also recommended that the state government undertake cumulative impact studies before declaring future renewable energy zones, and that it consider appointing an independent ombudsman on renewable energy projects and transmission infrastructure.

The federal and Victorian governments are providing a total of $92 million to help electrify public housing, and will contribute a total of another $16 million to support solar installations in apartments.

The apartments solar program will provide grants of up to $2,800 per apartment – or up to $140,000 total for each apartment building – for rooftop systems.

ARENA will provide a $10 million grant to Victorian-based RayGen to help develop its combined solar and thermal storage technology.

The Victorian government has joined the Global Offshore Wind Alliance - a grouping of governments that aims to achieve a total global offshore wind capacity of at least 380GW by 2030.

Statutory development. South Australia's Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis has introduced the Petroleum and Geeothermal Energy (Energy Resources) Amendment Bill, which will require a rental fee regime for storing regulated substances in natural reservoirs.

However, rental fees will not apply to CO2 produced in Australia and stored in the state, so as not to disincentivise CCS projects like the Santos Moomba project. The exemption will not apply to CO2 imported into Australia for storage.

The federal and Western Australian governments have signed a Rewiring the Nation agreement that will encompass support of up to $3 billion from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for new and upgraded transmission in WA's two main grids.

Statutory development. The state government has introduced the Electricity Industry Amendment (Distributed Energy Resources) Bill, which is designed to support the uptake of technologies such as solar PV and batteries.

Issue 10, 28 August 2023

Seven private peak bodies and three federal agencies have jointly launched the Infrastructure Net Zero initiative.

The ten founders are the Australian Constructors Association, the Australasian Railways Association, Consult Australia, the Green Building Council of Australia, Infrastructure Australia, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, the Infrastructure Sustainability Council, Roads Australia, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts.

Consultation opportunity. DCCEEW has released a discussion paper on implementing recommendations of the Chubb review, which includes sections raising the possibility of adjusting auction procedures and fixed contract exit arrangements. Comments are due by 3 October. Workshops are also planned.

The federal government has released the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory for the March 2023 quarter, which includes a special section on emissions from harvested native forests.

The federal government has released submissions received during its fuel efficiency standard consultation.

The CEFC invested $1.9 billion in 2022-23 , including a record $1.2 billion in renewable energy and grid-related projects, according to its latest investment update.

CSIRO and corporate advisor RFC Ambrian have formed a new company, Hadean Energy, to commercialise a highly efficient solid oxide electrolysis technology for producing green hydrogen, which will be trialled by BlueScope.

Grant opportunity. ARENA is inviting applications by 19 December under the Regional Microgrids Program, with $75 million to be allocated to First Nations communities, and $50 million to regional microgrid pilot projects.

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen last week attended the UNFCCC Pacific Regional High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change in Suva, and convened a Pacific Climate Change Ministers Roundtable.

Consultation opportunity. DFAT is seeking submissions by 30 September on the implementation of the Singapore-Australia Green Economy Agreement (GEA).

DFAT's Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP) is calling for applications from potential business partners to trial new ideas or implement established, high-quality solutions for delivering renewable energy to remote and rural communities in the Pacific and Timor-Leste. Concept notes must be submitted by 23 October.

The Investor Group on Climate Change has released a Road to Resilience Strategy to stimulate investment in climate resilience, and has also announced this year's winners of the IGCC climate awards.

Industry and research bodies in Australia and Japan have agreed to conduct research, development and demonstration work to examine the technical feasibility of transporting CO2 by ship from Asia to Australia for storage.

Statutory development. The Queensland government has gazetted the Mineral Resources Amendment Regulation 2023, which reduces the rent for existing and new exploration permits for a mineral other than coal. The rent will be reduced to zero dollars for five years, to encourage exploration for critical minerals.

Grant opportunity. A total of $53.5 million is available under the latest round of funding offered through the Queensland government's Industry Partnership Program. The funding round aims to develop industries that will be in demand as the world decarbonises.

The NSW Anti-Slavery Commissioner and the Clean Energy Council will work together to develop a Code of Practice on managing modern slavery risks in renewable energy value-chains.

A NSW parliamentary committee inquiry into the feasibility of undergrounding renewable energy transmission infrastructure has released transcript of its latest hearing.

The Victorian government has released a referral for a renewable energy terminal within the Port of Hastings that would serve as a base of operations for the assembly of offshore wind farms along the Victorian coast.

The Victorian government and AGL have struck an agreement on the future of the Loy Yang A coal-fired power station, with the details of the agreement kept secret.

Under the terms of the agreement, AGL has confirmed the power station will close in 2035.

Grant opportunity. The Victorian government has launched a $3 million pilot grant program, providing assistance to landowners in the North Central Catchment Management Authority (NCCMA) region interested in 'environmental plantings' carbon farming projects.

The Victorian government has raised the income threshold for eligibility for its Solar Homes grant program from $180,000 a year to $210,000 a year.

The Victorian government is now also offering home owners discounted home energy rating assessments, through the Victorian Energy Upgrades scheme.

The Tasmanian government has convened a workshop with the waste industry, to help develop an emissions reduction plan for the sector. The government is developing seven sectoral emissions reduction plans, and has previously held a workshop with the transport industry.

Grant opportunity. Round 2 of the Western Australian government's Carbon for Farmers Voucher Program, which provides up to $15,000 for farmers to access professional advice on carbon farming, is open for applications until 29 September.

Issue 9, 21 August 2023

The Climate Change Authority is conducting a survey in the lead-up to its review of the NGER Act, canvassing views on issues including fugitive methane measurement, transparency, and confidentiality. Responses are due by 31 August.

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen has announced a review to investigate the feasibility of a carbon border tariff, along the lines of the EU CBAM, especially for steel and cement.

The review will be in the context of a broader examination of carbon leakage risks and risk management options, and will take place in conjunction with the development of sectoral decarbonisation strategies. It will be completed in the third quarter of 2024.

The Clean Energy Regulator has scheduled two audit and assurance workshops, one in Sydney on 16 November, and another in Melbourne on 14 December.

ARENA will provide $20.9 million to Wollongong-based startup Hysata to demonstrate its hydrogen electrolyser technology at commercial scale.

Hysata will develop and test a 5MW unit at its manufacturing facility in Port Kembla, which will ultimately be installed next to Stanwell power station in Queensland.

Queensland government-owned Stanwell Corporation will contribute $3 million to the project.

Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen has gazetted a new General Funding Strategy for ARENA.

Australia and California have signed a new climate change Memorandum of Understanding, which deals with matters including clean transport, nature-based solutions, adaptation, clean energy and clean technologies, the circular economy, and research and development.

Consultation opportunity. The federal government is seeking comments by 16 October on a proposed offshore renewable energy area in the Illawarra region, marking the fourth offshore zone to be proposed by the government. Two of the four have so far been officially declared.

The NSW government has placed on exhibition Origin Energy's proposed Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub, with comments due by 19 September. The hub would produce green hydrogen through the electrolysis of recycled water in a 60MW electrolyser. The hydrogen would be used by Orica at its Kooragang Island facility.

The NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer has just released the findings of an independent review of the climate risk method for the NSW regional water strategies program, which it completed in 2020.

Two more solar farms, the 152MW Marulan solar farm and the 350MW Blind Creek solar farm, have received NSW planning approval. The latest approvals mean a total of 19 solar farms have been approved in NSW since the start of 2020, with another 13 in the planning pipeline.

The Victorian government has gazetted changes to the Victoria Planning Provisions that make the Planning Minister the responsible authority for large-scale hydrogen gas production projects.

The SA government has declared copper to be a critical mineral, and will include it in its forthcoming Critical Minerals Strategy. It will also advocate for the inclusion of copper on the national Critical Minerals list.

The SA government has urged all South Australians to participate in a Community Climate Conversations program, discussing how the state can achieve net zero by 2050. The program, which will continue to the end of November, is being run by the Conservation Council of SA and South Australians for Climate Action.

The SA government has released a new Hydrogen Industry Supplier Directory, and a Statement of Capacity: Hydrogen Supply Chain Mapping for SA.

WA Environment and Climate Action Minister Reece Whitby has changed greenhouse gas implementation conditions for Woodside's Pluto project, after obtaining advice from the EPA.

The Australian Energy Market Operator's 2023 Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM) Electricity Statement of Opportunities (ESOO) report highlights the need for significant and sustained investment in generation, storage and transmission to meet reliability standards in WA's main grid, known as the SWIS.

Looking at the upcoming decade, the report forecasts an increase in electricity use and peak demand levels, and expects 1,366MW of coal-fired generation capacity will be retired within the next decade.

Considering existing and committed capacity supply, AEMO forecasts the need for additional capacity throughout the outlook period, including a shortfall of 945MW in 2025-26 and around 4,000MW by 2032-33.

Issue 8, 14 August 2023

Australia's Trade Minister Don Farrell and his NZ counterpart Damien O'Connor have signed a sustainable and inclusive trade declaration, which aims to support the transition to net zero.

The Senate has passed a Bill that makes a range of administrative changes to the GEMS energy rating and labelling scheme, and the Bill now goes to the House of Representatives. The Bill implements some of the recommendations of a 2019 review of the Act.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong has launched the government's new International Development Policy, which highlights the need for action on climate change and reaffirms Australia's commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.

A new Senate committee inquiry into Senator David Pocock's Climate Change Amendment (Duty of Care and Intergenerational Climate Equity) Bill is seeking submissions by 20 October, and will report by 1 March 2024.

The Queensland government has gazetted a Regulation to establish a new $16 million Business Energy Saving and Transformation Rebate Scheme that will provide eligible businesses with a 50% rebate for eligible energy efficiency equipment, up to a maximum of $12,500 per applicant.

More than 25% of Queensland's energy is now generated by renewables, and the state is on track to beat its renewable energy target of 50% renewables by 2030, according to Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Minister Mick de Brenni.

The Queensland government has gazetted a regulation to facilitate preliminary works on the Borumba pumped hydro project, which will be built by government-owned Queensland Hydro Pty Ltd.

Consultation opportunity. The Queensland government is seeking views on proposed updates of the Queensland Wind Farm Code and associated planning guidelines. Submissions close on 4 September.

The NSW EPA is conducting a mandatory survey of licensees to clarify what action they are already taking on climate change, and to help the agency determine how best to implement its climate change action plan. Survey responses are due by 1 September.

NSW Minister for Natural Resources Courtney Houssos, NSW Energy Minister Penny Sharpe and Cessnock Mayor Jay Suvaal have hosted a stakeholder roundtable on proposed new Future Jobs & Investment Authorities that will be established in the coal-producing regions of the Hunter, Illawarra, and the Central West.

Consultation opportunity. The NSW government has placed on exhibition Squadron Energy's proposed Dubbo dual fuel gas/hydrogen 64MW firming power station, with submissions due by 5 September.

Statutory development. Energy Minister Lily D'Ambrosio has introduced the Energy Legislation Amendment Bill, which will make changes to electricity and gas legislation.

The Victorian government has released a consultation paper on its commitment to ensure all public transport buses purchased from 2025 are zero emissions.

Victoria's Latrobe Valley Authority has released the final version of the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland Transition Plan, and a supporting five-year implementation plan.

Amendments to Western Australia's Land Administration Act 1997 and Public Works Act 1902 are now in force, which allow for large areas of Crown land to be used for diverse purposes, including renewable energy generation.

The Northern Territory's Jacana Energy is seeking Expressions of Interest for the supply of up to 100MW of renewable energy for the Darwin-Katherine region.

Issue 7, 7 August 2023

The federal government has released Key Factors Guidance for the offshore renewable energy industry.

EVs will need to reach 100% of new car sales by about 2040, in order for emissions from light vehicles to be largely eliminated by 2050, consistent with Australia’s net-zero target, says a Climate Change Authority submission on fuel efficiency standards.

Five projects will share $12.4 million in International Clean Innovation Researcher Network grants awarded by the federal government.

The Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Amendment (Using New Technologies To Fight Climate Change) Bill has passed the House of Representatives, with Opposition support, and will now go to the Senate.

Senator David Pocock has introduced his Climate Change Amendment (Duty of Care and Intergenerational Climate Equity) Bill, which would require decision-makers under legislation including the EPBC Act and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Act to consider the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the health and wellbeing of current and future Australian children.

A new EY briefing says the Safeguard Mechanism will drive significant new emissions abatement, and the price of Australian Carbon Credit Units could rise to about $80 before 2035.

Two renewable energy projects - Squadron Energy's proposed 700MW Spicers Creek wind farm near Dubbo and Athena Energy's proposed 280MW Bendemeer solar farm near Tamworth - are currently on exhibition in NSW.

Consultation opportunity. The ACT government has released a draft integrated energy plan, with a webinar scheduled for 10 August and submissions due by 12 September.

Grant opportunity. The ACT government is offering grants to hospitality businesses to cover up to 50% of the cost of buying electric equipment to replace gas.

The Victorian government has granted approval for Wind Prospect's 350MW Willatook wind farm near Port Fairy, with the Clean Energy Council criticising conditions that require construction to be suspended during the breeding season of the Brolga, which is a listed threatened species, and for larger buffers to protect the Brolga and the Southern Bent-wing Bat.

The WA government is negotiating with a major South Korean renewable energy consortium on the establishment of a green ammonia production facility near Geraldton that would produce up to one million tonnes of ammonia annually. The first exports are expected in 2027.

WA's Horizon Power has purchased a vanadium redox flow battery, for pilot testing in Kununurra.

The state government has awarded $100,000 to Murdoch University to test the suitability of a low-carbon concrete in roadworks. The concrete contains Collie flyash, and the grant was awarded under the Collie Futures Small Grants program.

The Northern Territory government has signed an MoU with Korea Midland Power (KOMIPO) and NT-based Larrakia Energy for a proposed 300MW solar farm that would be located near the Middle Arm Precinct. It would be the NT's largest solar farm, and Australia's largest Aboriginal-owned solar farm.

Issue 6, 31 July 2023

Government and Opposition members of a Senate inquiry into the government's Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Amendment (Using New Technologies to Fight Climate Change) Bill have recommended that it be passed, with Greens members of the Senate committee dissenting.

Consultation opportunity. The federal government is consulting on a proposed update of Australia's Critical Minerals List, with submissions due by 17 August.

A joint statement from a meeting between Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and NZ Prime Minister Chris Hipkins includes a section on climate that proposes cooperation on several fronts.

State governments must urgently overhaul their approach to land use planning to ensure no more homes are built without regard to flood plain risk, organisations representing planners, builders and insurers said today in a joint statement.

The Green Building Council of Australia and the Property Council have released a report on carbon offsets that advocates a "last but not later" approach.

Nexa Advisory has released a report by Endgame Economics on the the likely impacts of delaying closure of NSW's ageing coal-fired Eraring and Vales Point power stations.

From 1 January 2024, planning permits for new homes and residential subdivisions won't allow for gas connections, the Victorian government has announced.

Federal climate change minister Chris Bowen has issued an Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Declaration for an area in Bass Strait off Gippsland.

The WA government has released Western Australia's first climate adaptation strategy.

The WA government has awarded carbon farming grants totalling $2.15 million to eight farming businesses.

Issue 5, 23 July 2023

The federal government will develop sectoral decarbonisation plans for electricity and energy, industry, the built environment, agriculture and land, transport, and resources, Minister Chris Bowen said in a speech to the Clean Energy Council. The waste sector will be included in the industry plan, and the circular economy will be a cross-cutting issue for all sectors.

Minister Bowen has written to the Climate Change Authority for advice on sector pathways. He has also asked the Authority to provide its advice on a 2035 national target, which he expects to receive in late 2024.

Consultation opportunity. DCCEEW is inviting submissions by 11 August on proposed international best practice benchmarks and guidelines for use under the Safeguard Mechanism.

Minister Chris Bowen has gazetted a new Investment Mandate for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which differs in significant respects from the 2020 version.

ARENA has released a white paper on the potential of Ultra Low-Cost Solar (ULCS) for Australia and the world. ARENA's "30-30-30 vision" is 30% solar module efficiency, and an installed cost of solar of 30 cents per watt by 2030.

In addition, ARENA will provide a $3.7 million grant to Enel X for a pilot virtual power plant (VPP) project involving 440 supermarkets and 13 refrigerated warehouses, which will aggregate 20.9MW of flexible demand across the National Electricity Market.

ARENA will also provide a $541,000 grant to the Australian Photovoltaic Institute (APVI), for its $1.12 million Silicon to Solar study, which is examining ways to reduce dependence on imported solar panels.

The federal government has also made a new appointment to the ARENA Board. New Board member Marianna O'Gorman is currently on the Board of Stanwell Corporation and has previously worked at the World Bank.

Tender opportunity. The Clean Energy Regulator has invited audit companies with suitably qualified auditors to tender to be part of its Greenhouse and Energy Audit Services panel. Tenders must be submitted by 15 August.

Grant opportunity. The federal government has invited applications by 16 August for a share of $8.5 million in grants for research into reducing methane emissions in the resources sector. Grants of between $1 million and $5 million are available.

Australia has signed a statement on Accelerating Methane Mitigation from the LNG Value Chain, on the sidelines of an LNG conference in Tokyo. Other signatories are the US, Japan, Korea and the EU.

The federal government will provide $50 million to support the development of secure and diversified clean energy supply chains in the Indo-Pacific - a project taking place under the auspices of the Quad Clean Energy Supply Chain Diversification Program.

Frucor Suntory, the company behind brands including Pepsi, Gatorade, and V Energy, has signed an agreement with Queensland government-owned CleanCo for hte supply of electricity and large-scale generation certificates matching 100% of the power needs of its new $400 million factory at Swanbank, which will open in 2024.

The South Australian government, Hallett Group and Korean companies Elecseed and Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power have signed a statement of cooperation for a Hallett Group plan to produce green cement using fly ash from the former Playford B and Northern Power Stations in Port Augusta, and slag from Nyrstar’s Port Pirie operation.

Korean-Australian green hydrogen specialist Elecseed and Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, one of Korea’s biggest energy companies, will build a 6 MW hydrogen electrolyser at the site of the former power stations, to use in processing the cement. Hallett Group expects to start construction early in the second half of 2024.

Issue 4, 17 July 2023

The Climate Change Authority has released its latest Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency (CERT) report, with 25 companies and organisations this year opting-in to the disclosure scheme. Participants include AGL, Aldi, Aurizon, ANZ, Baybrick, Coles, the Commonwealth Bank, Dexus, Downer, Fletcher Building, Fortescue, Lendlease, Mirvac, Orica, Pioneer Sail Holdings, Transurban, Westpac, Woodside and Woolworths.

The federal government has appointed climate change and disaster management expert Dr Robert Glasser will lead an independent review of National Natural Disaster Governance Arrangements, which will make recommendations to better prepare governments for the demands of increasing future natural disasters.

Federal, state and territory agriculture ministers have released the first National Statement on Climate Change and Agriculture.

Minister Chris Bowen has declared an area offshore from the NSW Hunter Region to be suitable for offshore electricity infrastructure.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has issued an engineering roadmap to 100% renewables, which lists FY24 priority actions.

ARENA has awarded a $32.1 million grant to Rio Tinto to support a $111.1 million trial of hydrogen calcination technology at its Yarwun alumina facility in Gladstone.

Eligible primary producers can now treat certain income they receive on or after 1 July 2022 from eligible ACCUs and carbon abatement activities as primary production income for the purposes of the Farm Management Deposit Scheme and Tax Averaging rules.

Grant opportunity. Farmers and other landholders in Queensland can now apply for the next round of funding under the state's Carbon Farming Advice Scheme, which provides grants of up to $10,000 to obtain carbon farming advice from a Land Restoration Fund approved advisor.

The Queensland government has awarded Alpha HPA a $21 million Industry Partnership Program grant to develop stage two of its $300 million facility in Gladstone, so the company can move to full-scale production of high purity alumina.

The ACT government has appointed seven experts to its new Renewable Energy Innovation Fund Industry Advisory Board. The Board will be chaired by professor Ken Baldwin, director of the ANU's Energy Change Institute.

Statutory development and consultation opportunity. A draft Water Miscellaneous Amendments (Delegation and Industrial Water Supply) Bill aims partly to enable Tasmanian Irrigation to enter into contracts for the supply of water for hydrogen production at sites such as the Bell Bay Green Hydrogen Hub. Submissions are due by 8 August.

The WA government is establishing a Green Energy Major Projects Group within the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation to help steer hydrogen and other green energy projects through approvals processes. It will also establish a Green Energy Expert Panel to provide the EPA with relevant information.

The WA government has welcomed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Western Green Energy Hub - which aims to produce 3.5 million tonnes of green hydrogen annually from its project in WA's Goldfields-Esperance region - and Korea Electric Power Corp.

Issue 3, 10 July 2023

The Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner will lead a review into community engagement practices relating to the deployment of renewable energy infrastructure, which will report to Minister Chris Bowen by the end of the year.

Consultation opportunity. The government is seeking views until 18 July on exposure draft legislation to introduce the Small Business Energy Incentive to help small and medium businesses electrify and save on their energy bills. Businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $50 million will have access to a bonus 20% tax deduction in FY24 for the cost of eligible depreciating assets.

Grant opportunity. ARENA has invited expressions by 1 November for grants under a $30 million funding initiative to reduce emissions in the aviation sector, following the government's launch last month of a long-anticipated Australian Jet-Zero Council.

The Queensland and German governments have launched a $3 million net-zero economy collaborative research program that will focus on matters including biofuels.

The Victorian government has gazetted version nine of the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target guidelines.

The Victorian government has gazetted an amendment to the Victoria Planning Provisions that aims to clarify noise requirements for wind farms.

As part of work to develop a Renewable Energy Zone in North-West Tasmania, Renewables Climate Future Industries Tasmania has this month launched a REZ Mapping Important Places initiative.

Statutory Development. South Australia's Deputy Premier and Minister for Climate, Environment and Water, Susan Close, has introduced the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation (Use of Pastoral Land) Amendment Bill, wwhich ensures that pastoral leases can be used for carbon farming and conservation.

Issue 2, 3 July 2023

Consultation opportunity. Treasury is seeking submissions by 21 July on the design of a proposed mandatory climate-related financial risk disclosure regime.

Consultation opportunity. The federal government is seeking comments by 31 August on a proposed area for offshore energy infrastructure that would extend from Warrnambool (Victoria) to Port MacDonnell (SA).

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) will earmark $500 million to develop critical minerals projects, building on previous loans totalling $655 million to four critical minerals projects, following the passage of a NAIF Amendment Bill.

The CEFC is providing up to $100 million in finance to underpin the construction of the 850 MW/1680 MWh Waratah Super Battery on the site of former Munmorah coal power plant in NSW.

The CEFC is also providing a $75 million cornerstone investment in Mirvac's build-to-rent sustainable housing venture, and a $35 million investment in the new Adamantem Capital Environmental Opportunities Fund (which targets mid-market companies).

The Clean Energy Regulator has issued a total of 151,312 ACCUs to two soil carbon projects, marking the first significant issuances of soil carbon ACCUs.

Amendments have been gazetted to the NGER Regulations and Determination.

Statutory development. A new Queensland amendment regulation increases the rebate for low to moderate income earners who buy a zero-emissions vehicle, and widens the pool of eligible zero-emissions vehicles.

Grant opportunity. The Queensland government has released a new critical minerals strategy, and has invited applications for grants under the Queensland Critical Minerals and Battery Technology Fund.

The federal government will underwrite investment for up to an additional 550MW of firmed capacity in the NSW Energy Roadmap's firming tender.

The ACT and federal governments have announced a $3.6 million scheme to incentivise rooftop solar installations on apartment blocks in the ACT. Owners corporation committees will be able to access up to $100,000 for rooftop solar, consisting of a grant and interest-free loan.

The Tasmanian government has released the findings of the Tasmania-Port of Rotterdam Hydrogen Supply Chain joint feasibility study, which concludes shipping distance is not a limiting factor, and Tasmanian hydrogen could compete on the proposed Rotterdam HyXchange trading platform.

Consultation opportunity. The South Australian government has released a green paper on the energy transition, with comments due by 13 August.

Issue 1, 26 June 2023

The federal government has allocated another $20 billion to the CEFC, comprising $19 billion earmarked for the Rewiring the Nation program, $1 billion to create a Household Energy Upgrades Fund, and $500 million for a new Powering Australia Technology Fund.

Statutory development and consultation opportunity. Minister Tanya Plibersek has introduced the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Amendment (Using New Technologies to Fight Climate Change) Bill. The Bill would enable a permit to be granted for the export of CO2 streams from CO2 capture processes for the purpose of sequestration, or for the placement of wastes for a marine geoengineering activity. The Senate environment committee will inquire into the Bill and report by July 27.

Consultation opportunity. The federal environment department is consulting on bringing energy efficiency requirements for televisions and computer monitors into line with EU requirements, and introducing mandatory energy efficiency labelling and standby and network power requirements for digital signs. Comments are due by July 4.

Statutory development and consultation opportunity. The Senate environment committee has called for submissions by 6 July to its inquiry into the government's Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Amendment (Administrative Changes) Bill. The committee will report by July 27.

The Albanese government has thrown its support behind a new agriculture investment vehicle, Wilga Farming, that will promote the use of low-emissions technologies and carbon sequestration across Australian farmland. The CEFC will invest $50 million, in Wilga Farming, which owns a 1200-hectare property in NSW, to support a range of initiatives to reduce carbon emissions and improve productivity. Wilga Farming will be managed by Gunn Agri Partners.

The Australian Local Government Association has welcomed a federal commitment to establish a new $100 million Community Energy Upgrades Fund that will co-fund energy upgrades at community facilities with councils.

Grant opportunity. Applications are open until 24 July for grants to land managers under the $17.5 million federal Carbon Farming Outreach program.

Sustainability Victoria has announced 24 businesses and organisations that will share $8 million in bioenergy grants, with the two largest grants of $1 million going to Yarra Valley Water, and Saputo Dairy.

The Victorian government has flagged that it will ban the telemarketing of products and services under its Victorian Energy Upgrades scheme, with a consultation paper due out soon.

The federal government (through $36.1 million from ARENA plus CEFC support) and the Victorian government ($12.3 million) will provide a total of $51 million to establish a 10MW electrolyser (the largest in Australia) near Wodonga, that will use water from a wastewater treatment plant operated by North East Water. The hydrogen will initially be blended into the gas network.

Tasmanians can now obtain loans for insulation products through the state's Energy Saver Loan scheme.

Consultation opportunity. The EPA is inviting comments by 20 July on whether a research pilot project in the Gulf of Carpentaria, proposed by Blue Carbon S2C Pty Ltd, should undergo environmental assessment.

‌Test issue, 20 June 2023

The Senate Economics References Committee has launched a new inquiry into Australia's residential electrification efforts, which will report by the last sitting day of 2024.

The Clean Energy Regulator has published Carbon Estimation Area data, which provides new insight into the performance of landscape-based carbon projects.

CSIRO, the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will appear before a 23 June hearing of a joint parliamentary inquiry into Australia's transition to a green energy superpower.‌

Sun Cable, SunDrive Solar and the Australian Steel Institute are among those scheduled to give evidence at a July 5 hearing in Sydney of the House of Representatives inquiry into developing advanced manufacturing in Australia.

The Australian Local Government Association has welcomed a federal commitment to establish a new $100 million Community Energy Upgrades Fund that will co-fund energy upgrades at community facilities with councils. ‌

Consultation opportunity. ‌‌Comments are due by 30 June on the Climate Change Authority's inquiry into "setting, tracking and achieving Australia's emissions reduction targets".

Consultation opportunity. ‌‌Consultation closes on 30 June on the 2023 offshore greenhouse gas storage acreage release.

Consultation opportunity. ‌‌The Queensland government has released a draft Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Bill that would enshrine its renewable energy targets in law, establish a Job Security Fund, facilitate construction of the Queensland "SuperGrid", and establish a Renewable Energy Jobs Advocate. Comment closes on 23 June.

The Queensland Budget includes $7 million to help establish the Barcaldine renewable energy zone, which is being developed by Ross Garnaut's Sunshot Industries.

Have your say!‌‌ Comments are due to the NSW government by 28 June on Firm Power's proposal for a 170MW/340MWh battery energy storage facility at Beresfield, near Newcastle.

Tender opportunity. Agriculture Victoria is inviting applications from technical consultants to support farmers in improving their farm business and in managing drought and climate change.

The Victorian government has launched its Clean Economy Workforce Development Strategy 2023-2033.

Statutory development. South Australia's Legislative Assembly has passed the Environment Protection (Objects of Act and Board Attributes) Amendment Bill, which inserts references to climate change into the objects of the state's main environment law, paving the way for the development of an environment protection policy on climate change.

Test issue, 14 June 2023

The federal government has released its Implementation Plan in response to the recommendations of the Chubb Review of the ACCU scheme.

Grant opportunity: ‌‌Applications are open until 24 July for grants to land managers under the $17.5 million federal Carbon Farming Outreach program.

The Clean Energy Regulator has released its latest Quarterly Carbon Market Reportand its April Large-scale Renewable Energy Target market data.

Have your say! ‌‌Comments are due by 30 June on the Climate Change Authority's inquiry into "setting, tracking and achieving Australia's emissions reduction targets".

Australia and New Zealand's treasurers and climate change ministers have signed a Joint Statement to foster cooperation on issues including climate-related disclosures, EV uptake, sustainable finance, and Guarantee of Origin schemes for hydrogen.

The CEFC will provide an $80 million loan to Mulpha Australia to help fund its Norwest Quarter net-zero apartment complex in Sydney's Hills district.

‌ The reporting deadline for two inquiries by the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee have been extended from 30 June to 6 December – the inquiry into the Greens' Climate Trigger Bill and the inquiry into the Greens' Save the Koala Bill. ‌