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 50, 1 July 2024

Consultation opportunity - hydrogen and critical minerals tax credits. Treasury has released discussion papers on its proposed tax incentives regimes for green hydrogen and critical minerals. Comments are due by 12 July.

The first auction of the Capacity Investment Scheme, which will support 6GW of new power, has received more than 40GW of project registrations, according to Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen.

The Australian Energy Market Operator has released a 25-year roadmap to transition the National Electricity Market to net zero by 2050.

AEMO's Integrated System Plan confirms that renewable energy, firmed with storage, and backed by gas-powered generation, is the lowest-cost way to supply electricity to homes and businesses as Australia transitions to a net zero economy.

Resources Minister Madeleine King has issued two declarations regarding identified CO2 storage sites off the WA cost - one in the Cliff Head formation, and one in the Calliance formation.

The Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone transmission project has secured planning approval.

The project is expected to drive up to $20 billion in private investment in solar, wind and energy storage projects, supporting around 5,000 jobs during peak construction.

Planning approval of transmission lines will mean work can begin on the construction of about 240km of lines and supporting infrastructure within the Central West Orana REZ. 

The NSW Energy Corporation has made an EPBC referral for the Hunter transmission project, which will comprise a 500kV transmission line of around 100km, connecting two existing transmission lines. 

"It must be built by the end of 2028 to protect energy security in NSW as the remaining coal-fired powerstations close," the referral says. 

"The proposed action will provide 5GW of additional transfer capacity in the region and unlock the supply of electricity from the Central-West Orana and New England REZs," it says. 

"This electricity will be imported to the core grid via the 500 kV Ring and then delivered to consumers in the Hunter, Sydney andIllawarra where 80% of the State’s electricity is used," it says.

Tilt Renewables has made an EPBC referral for its proposed 288MW Palmer wind farm in South Australia.

Issue 48, 24 June 2024

"Nuclear energy for Australia is an idea whose time has come", according to a statement by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, Nationals leader David Littleproud, and shadow climate change minister Ted O'Brien.

The opposition has proposed nuclear power plants at seven sites. 

The federal government has offered feasibility licences to Equinor and Oceanex for the proposed Novocastrian wind farm in the Hunter offshore wind zone. 

Only one feasibility licence is being offered because the other seven applications for licences in the 1,854kmzone were for overlapping areas and were found by the Offshore Infrastructure Regulator to be of lower merit.

The Novocastrian wind project will have a capacity of more than 2GW, equivalent to powering 1.2 million homes, or two Tomago smelters. It would employ around 3,000 construction workers and create about 200–300 permanent local jobs. 

The proponents aim to start construction in 2028, with energisation of the first array of turbines in 2030.

Applications for funding through the ARENA-administered $100 million global Solar ScaleUp Challenge are now being accepted. Funding will be focused on projects and activities that can help:

  • lower large-scale solar installation costs to 30 cents per watt.
  • reduce electricity costs to below $20 per megawatt-hour by 2030.

Applications close in eight weeks, and shortlisted applicants will be invited to participate in a showcase event.

Bids must be submitted by next Monday for the Capacity Investment Scheme Tender 1, which aims to support about 6GW of renewable electricity generation across the NEM. 

European Energy has made an EPBC referral for its proposed 1.3GW Upper Calliope solar farm, west of Gladstone. 

Rio Tinto has signed a contract to purchase all the electricity generated from the project to help power their three main assets in the region – the Boyne Island aluminium smelter, the Yarwun alumina refinery, and the Queensland alumina refinery. 

The project will contribute to Rio Tinto's objective of securing 4GW of wind and solar energy to provide clean power for the three operations, which currently rely on coal-fired electricity.

tatutory development - clean energy. Parliament has passed the Energy Legislation Amendment (Clean Energy Future) Bill 2024.

Measures in the Bill:

  • give legislative effect to the Strategic Benefits Payment Scheme that will provide landowners hosting transmission infrastructure with an extra $200,000 per kilometre, augmenting the existing one-off payment. 
  • introduce an accelerated regulatory approval process for electricity system security infrastructure.
  • clarify arrangements for giving green hydrogen producers a 90% discount on electricity network charges.
  • exempt electricity purchased by battery facilities from liability under the Energy Savings Scheme and Peak Demand Reduction Scheme. 
  • make adjustments to pipeline legislation in readiness for the transport of hydrogen and renewable fuels.

Statutory development - energy security. Parliament has passed the Energy Security Corporation Bill 2024, after accepting Greens amendments put forward in the Legislative Council. 

The Bill establishes an Energy Security Corporation that will be seeded with $1 billion, and will co-finance clean technology projects that improve the reliability, security and sustainability of electricity supply.

The federal Clean Energy Finance Corporation is providing an additional $127.5 million loan to help fast-track construction of the 577MW Stage 2 of TagEnergy's 1,333MW Golden Plains Wind Farm, near Geelong.

The CEFC commitment to Stage Two of of the Golden Plains wind farm takes its debt finance in the $4 billion mega project to $350 million. The CEFC previously invested $222.5 million in the 756MW stage one of the wind farm, which is nearing completion.

When both stages are completed in mid-2027, the 1,333MW wind farm will generate enough electricity to power more than 750,000 homes – the equivalent of every home in regional Victoria.

The South Australian government has released a new Green Iron and Steel Strategy.

The strategy aims to establish a green iron industry and supply chain in South Australia, involving the establishment of a new hydrogen-based green iron plant by 2030.

Issue 48, 17 June 2024

Santos, Inpex, SunCable, government officials, Indigenous and environmental groups will be among those giving evidence to a Senate inquiry into the NT Middle Arm development on today and tomorrow. 

The federal government has declared an offshore wind zone in the Pacific Ocean off the Illawarra in NSW - marking the fourth offshore wind zone declared by the government. The final area for the zone is 1,022 km2 – a third less than was originally proposed.

The Queensland Budget has allocated $26 billion over four years to Queensland's energy transformation. Budget papers are available here

A trio of clean energy projects proposed for Queensland have made EPBC referrals over the past week - Edify Energy's proposed 200MW Callide solar power station project, Genex's proposed 258MW Kidston wind farm (related to the Kidston clean energy hub, and RWE's proposed 1,100MW Theodore wind farm

The Queensland government has tabled in Parliament a report on pumped hydro opportunities in Queensland.

The WA government says an environmental approval granted to Yindjibarndi Energy Corporation (YEC) is the first project assessed through its Green Energy Approvals Initiative. 

YEC - in partnership with ACEN Australia - has received environmental approval for a 150MW solar project in the Pilbara, covered by the Yindjibarndi Native Title Determination Area.

The approved project is one of a suite of YEC solar, wind and storage proposals that are ultimately expected to have a joint capacity of 3GW. 

The assessment process was guided by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation's Green Energy Directorate, which worked across multiple agencies to ensure an efficient approvals pathway for the project.

Issue 47, 10 June 2024

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has told The Australian that a Coalition government would remain committed to net zero, but not the existing legislated 2030 emissions reduction target, or a 2035 target.

Meanwhile, in a speech to the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dutton said the Coalitions energy goals are "Cheaper power. Consistent power. Cleaner power".

 This must involve an immediate ramping-up of domestic gas production and "next generation nuclear technologies", he said.

The Clean Energy Council has released a new report on The future of long-duration energy storage, which discusses emerging storage technologies -compressed air energy storage, thermal energy storage and redox flow batteries. 

Meanwhile, a separate CEC report shows Q1 2024 saw:

  • Large-scale renewable generation projects continue to bounce back from the lows of 2023, with five projects totalling 895 MW of capacity reaching financial commitment during Q1 2024.
  • Q1 2024 was the fourth consecutive quarter in which energy storage projects secured financial investment commitments over $1 billion.
  • Investment levels in generation projects will need to increase further with financial commitments of at least 6 - 7 GW of new large-scale generation projects needed in 2024 (and successive years) to meet the Federal Government’s target of 82 per cent renewables by 2030.

The NSW government has placed on exhibition the referral for the 1.3GW Pottinger wind farm, which is a joint venture between AGL and Someva Renewables. The $2.2 billion project, which would include a battery energy storage system, would be built near Hay. 

The project is part of the Pottinger Energy Park, which would also include a 300MW solar farm.

Epic Energy has made an EPBC referral for the Whyalla Hydrogen Pipeline (WHP), which would transport hydrogen from the proposed Whyalla hydrogen facility to Port Bonython, covering a distance of about 43 kilometres.

Acting on the advice of the Appeals Convenor, Environment Minister Reece Whitby has determined that the EPA was justified in not requiring assessment of a proposed onshore conventional gas development project.

The Appeals Convenor found that carbon emissions from Strike Energy's proposed South Erragulla conventional gas development would be under threshold levels.

Issue 46, 3 June 2024

The federal government has appointed Dr Iain Ross as acting Chair of the Net Zero Economy Agency, and he will become its permanent chair once legislation to establish the body as an Authority is passed. Greg Combet has until now acted in the role in an interim capacity. 

Debate on the establishing legislation is expected to conclude in the House of Representatives this week, and the Bill will then go to the Senate.

Statutory development - vehicle emission standards. The New Vehicle Efficiency Standard Bill has received Assent, after passing Parliament earlier this month.

The CEFC has confirmed its first investment via the $1 billion Household Energy Upgrades Fund (HEUF), which consists of a $60 million commitment to consumer lender Plenti.

The CEFC commitment will support cheaper finance for solar PV, home batteries and other energy efficiency upgrades via discounts on Plenti green loans of up to 2.74% annually.

In addition, eligible customers can get a further 0.6% discount on the green loan if they sign up to a Virtual Power Plant through Plenti’s point-of-sale platform, GreenConnect.

Australia and the EU have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that is intended to be a platform for forging deeper links between the two economies on critical and strategic materials supply chains.

The partnership follows the recent implementation of the EU’s new Critical Raw Materials Act.

The Clean Energy Regulator has released its latest RET monthly market data.

Senate Estimates transcripts relevant to the environment and climate change portfolios are available here and here.

The Queensland government will introduce a legislative ban on carbon capture and storage in the Great Artesian Basin in the state. The ban will also extend to oil or petroleum recovery activities that propose injecting CO2 to enhance oil and gas recovery. 

The NSW government has given planning approval to a $207.6 million hydrogen hub in the Hunter.

The State Significant Development at Kooragang Island, led by Origin Future Fuels, will start construction in mid-2025.  The hub will initially deliver approximately 55 megawatts of electrolyser capacity by 2026, with the aim of scaling up to over 1 gigawatt of capacity over the next decade.

The majority of the hydrogen will go to Orica’s nearby ammonium nitrate manufacturing facility to help decarbonise its operations by partially substituting green hydrogen for fossil gas.

The NSW government has launched a tender round that is expected to provide financial support for up to 1GW of long-duration energy storage projects. The tender will take NSW closer to its target of 2GW of new long-duration storage by 2030.

The tender will also seek to allocate up to an initial 3.98GW of Access Rights in the South West Renewable Energy Zone.

The NSW government has placed on public exhibition EnergyAustralia's plan for a Battery Energy Storage System next to its Mt Piper power station, which would have a capacity of up to 500MW and duration of up to four hours. 

The NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal has released its solar feed-in tariff benchmarks for FY25, which lowers the benchmark rate to between 4.9 to 6.3 c/kWh.

Consultation opportunity - Marinus EIS. The Victorian government is inviting comments on the draft EIS for the Victorian part of Marinus Link interconnecter between Tasmania and Victoria.

Key elements of the project in Victoria include subsea cables, a shore crossing at Waratah Bay, underground cables, and a convertor station. The EIS is best viewed here. Comments are due by 12 July.

The Victorian Department of Transport and Planning has accepted a referral for RES Australia's proposed Cannie wind farm, to be located near Kerang. The wind farm would have a capacity of up to 1,300MW.

The project also includes a Battery Energy Storage System with 200MW/80MWh of storage capacity.

Issue 44, 20 May 2024

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Applications must be submitted by 10 June.

Issue 43, 13 May 2024

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

The Bill also enables exploration for naturally-occurring hydrogen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Issue 42, 6 May 2024

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

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

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

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

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

They also want:

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

The 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. 

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The report makes seven recommendations.

Issue 39, 15 April 2024

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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 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. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Issue 35, 11 March 2024

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.

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 Victoria'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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

There is a significant decommissioning liability of about US$2.1 billion ($3.2 billion) associated with the onshore disposal of offshore oil and gas assets in close proximity to WA ports, according to a new study

However, the intermittent demand profile does not justify the establishment of a complete greenfield site for this sole purpose, says the study prepared for the Centre of Decommissioning Australia.

The onshore decommissioning 'solution' in WA will likely involve multiple facilities to contribute to the disposal of the offshore assets and may service different parts of the market, it concludes.

It also points out there is considerable overlap in the requirements for onshore dismantling hubs, and offshore wind staging and decommissioning sites. 

"Further development of concepts for each should be collaborative and consider interchangeable requirements for a dual use facility," it says.

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.