SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Below are all Australian news items from all ESG Snapshot issues that are relevant to SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), listed with most recent items appearing first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Issue 31, 12 February 2024

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.

The 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The NSW 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.

Issue 29, 29 January 2024

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In line with advice from the NT EPA, the NT government has given environmental approval to the Santos Darwin Pipeline Duplication Project, which will bring gas from the Barossa field to Darwin for processing.

The pipeline duplicates a section of the existing Bayu-Undan pipeline, which is proposed to stay in place to provide Santos with the option of repurposing it to transport CO2 to the depleted Bayu-Undan reservoir for sequestration.

Issue 27, 15 January 2024

The federal government has announced three critical minerals research projects. 

ANSTO will investigate ways to accelerate the discovery, extraction and processing of rare earth elements from lower grade deposits.

CSIRO will examine ways to support downstream industries to produce high purity metals and materials, extending value chains for lithium and rare earths, and supporting value adding to tungsten ores and refractory metals.

Geoscience Australia will research development opportunities for a domestic industry for critical minerals such as gallium, germanium and indium, which are often by-products from processing commodities such as bauxite and zinc.

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 NSW 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 for at least the next decade.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New consultation opportunity and statutory development - waste to energy. Comments are sought by 2 February on proposed regulations on Victoria's thermal waste-to-energy cap licensing system. 

The proposed regulations would prescribing the cap limit of permitted waste that can be processed through new waste to energy projects (set at one million tonnes of waste annually, as previously announced), and would prescribe the fees to be paid. 

Thermal waste-to-energy operators that are either operating already or had appropriate approvals in place before November 2021. EO facilities are not required to fit within the cap limit.

Webinars on the proposed regulations will be held on January 17 and 22. 

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

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

The Northern Territory government has awarded Major Project Status to TE H2's Darwin H2 Hub, a proposed green hydrogen production facility at Middle Arm that will at full scale produce more than 80,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen annually.

TE H2 is a joint venture between TotalEnergies and EREN.

Issue 26, 8 January 2024

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of the 37 applications received:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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 state 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.

The Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct will be a clean energy and jobs powerhouse, says the NT government's 2023 NT Infrastructure Plan and Pipeline and Infrastructure Audit.

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.

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

EPA Victoria has granted a development licence to Prospect Hill International Pty Ltd, allowing them to build and commission a large waste-to-energy facility in Lara, north of Geelong.

The plant will be one of the largest in Australia, processing up to 400,000 tonnes of residual municipal solid waste and commercial and industrial waste annually, sourced from metropolitan Melbourne, Geelong, and the southwest coast.

It will have the capacity to generate 35MW of electricity.

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

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

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

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

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

Issue 23, 4 December 2023

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

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

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

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

The overhauled Victorian 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.

Issue 20, 13 November 2023

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.

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.

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.

The federal government has announced a $2 billion expansion of the Critical Minerals Facility, which previously had a $4 billion allocation, while an Australia-US Taskforce on Critical Minerals held its first meeting last week.

Statutory development. The Queensland government has introduced an Energy (Renewable Transformation and Jobs) Bill, which will give legislative force to the state targets of 50% renewable energy by 2030, 70% renewables by 2032, and 80% by 2035, and create a reporting and review mechanism.

The Bill also requires the government to prepare a strategy that will deliver 100% public ownership of transmission and distribution assets, 100% public ownership of deep storage assets, and at least 54% public ownership of generation assets.

In addition, the Bill enacts a Priority Transmission Investment framework to facilitate the identification, assessment, and construction of high-voltage backbone transmission infrastructure, as well as a framework for declaring and managing Renewable Energy Zones.

It also requires the development and regular updating of a Queensland SuperGrid Infrastructure Blueprint, and provides for a Priority Transmission Investment framework to facilitate the rapid deployment of renewables.

It also enshrines in law the state's Job Security Guarantee, to ensure workers in coal-fired power stations have a secure future, and clear employment pathways.

The Bill will also establish three new advisory bodies – the Queensland Energy System Advisory Board, a tripartite Energy Industry Council, and a Queensland Renewable Energy Jobs Advocate to advise on work opportunities.

The 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.

Issue 17, 23 October 2023

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.

Issue 16, 9 October 2023

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.

Consultation opportunity. The South Australian government has released a discussion paper on a proposed revamp of its 20-year infrastructure strategy. The paper covers issue including the circular economy, decarbonisation, enabling infrastructure, and resilience. Comments are due by November 13.

Regional Development South Australia has released a new compilation of the investment intentions of the public and private sectors over the next five years, identifying a $62.56 billion regional investment pipeline.

The Western Australian 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 13, 18 September 2023

Consultation opportunity. The federal government has released an issues paper on a roadmap for establishing an Australian offshore oil and gas decommissioning industry. Submissions are due by 20 October.

Federal 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.

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.

Issue 11, 4 September 2023

Grant opportunity. The Powering the Regions Fund will shortly accept applications for grants of between $1 million and $100 million to help cement, lime, alumina and aluminium facilities decarbonise. Applications must be submitted by 2 November.

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.

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.

Statutory development. 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.

Issue 10, 28 August 2023

Seven private peak bodies and three federal agencies have jointly launched the Infrastructure Net Zero initiative.

The ten founders are the Australian Constructors Association, the Australasian Railways Association, Consult Australia, the Green Building Council of Australia, Infrastructure Australia, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, the Infrastructure Sustainability Council, Roads Australia, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts.

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.

Industry and research bodies in Australia and Japan have agreed to conduct research, development and demonstration work to examine the technical feasibility of transporting CO2 by ship from Asia to Australia for storage.

Statutory development. The Queensland government has gazetted the Mineral Resources Amendment Regulation 2023, which reduces the rent for existing and new exploration permits for a mineral other than coal. The rent will be reduced to zero dollars for five years, to encourage exploration for critical minerals.

Grant opportunity. A total of $53.5 million is available under the latest round of funding offered through the Queensland government's Industry Partnership Program. The funding round aims to develop industries that will be in demand as the world decarbonises.

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.

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.

The NSW government has placed on exhibition Origin Energy's proposed Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub, with comments due by 19 September. The hub would produce green hydrogen through the electrolysis of recycled water in a 60MW electrolyser. The hydrogen would be used by Orica at its Kooragang Island facility.

The 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 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 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.

Issue 4, 17 July 2023

The Queensland government has awarded Alpha HPA a $21 million Industry Partnership Program grant to develop stage two of its $300 million facility in Gladstone, so the company can move to full-scale production of high purity alumina.

The Centre of Decommissioning Australia, which advices on decommissioning ageing oil and gas infrastructure, has appointed Deloitte to conduct a national skills review study, which will be completed by the end of the year. A separate study on the optimal location for a WA infrastructure decommissioning and recycling facility is due to be completed soon.

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.

The WA government has welcomed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Western Green Energy Hub - which aims to produce 3.5 million tonnes of green hydrogen annually from its project in WA's Goldfields-Esperance region - and Korea Electric Power Corp.

Issue 2, 3 July 2023

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.

Consultation opportunity. The state government has released a green paper on the energy transition, with comments due by 13 August.


Issue 1, 26 June 2023

Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King has released a new critical minerals strategy.


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).

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.