SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy

SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy

Below are all Australian news items from all ESG Snapshot issues that are relevant to SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), listed with most recent items appearing first.

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.

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 $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.

Issue 42, 6 May 2024

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. 

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 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

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. 

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 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.

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 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.

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.

Issue 39, 15 April 2024

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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".

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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

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 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 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.

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.

The South Australian government has  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

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. 

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

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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. 

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 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

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 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.

Issue 28, 22 January 2024

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 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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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 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

An ACT regulation to prevent new gas network connections to buildings will commence on 8 December.

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.

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 20, 13 November 2023

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.

The Clean Energy Council's new submission on the federal 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.

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.

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.

The Clean Energy Council's new submission on the federal 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.

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.

Issue 19, 6 November 2023

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.

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 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. 

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.

Issue 18, 30 October 2023

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Consultation opportunity. The NSW government is seeking feedback by 15 November on proposed changes to its Peak Demand Reduction Scheme.

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.

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

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 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.

Edify Energy's 600MW Smoky Creek solar farm, to be located south of Rockhampton, has received EPBC approval.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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 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.

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.

Issue 9, 21 August 2023

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.

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 released a new Hydrogen Industry Supplier Directory, and a Statement of Capacity: Hydrogen Supply Chain Mapping for SA.

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

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.

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.

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 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.

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 Western Australian 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.

Issue 6, 31 July 2023

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.

From 1 January 2024, planning permits for new homes and residential subdivisions won't allow for gas connections, the state government has announced.

Federal climate change minister Chris Bowen has issued an Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Declaration for an area in Bass Strait off Gippsland.

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.

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.

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 NSW government has approved two new energy storage batteries - one in the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ), and the other in the Hunter Central Coast REZ).

Issue 4, 17 July 2023

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.

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 Tasmanian 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.

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.

Consultation opportunity. The federal government is seeking views by 18 August on a proposed revamp of the national hydrogen strategy.

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.

Issue 2, 3 July 2023

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 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.

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.

Consultation opportunity. The federal environment department 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.

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.

‌ Test issue, 20 June 2023

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced that Greg Combet will chair the new Net Zero Economy Agency, with members of the advisory board to include Ross Garnaut, Paul Simshauser (Powerlink), Anthea Harris (Australian Energy Regulator), Kellie Parker (Rio Tinto), Anna Skarbek (ClimateWorks), and Tony Maher (Mining and Energy Union).

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.

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
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.

Consultation opportunity

Victoria's Essential Services Commission is seeking submissions by 27 July on a proposed enforceable code of practice for electricity transmission companies using their legal powers to access private land.

‌ ‌