Australia PM pledges ‘new era’ of climate action

Mr Anthony Albanese took power at an election in May where Australia’s lack of action on climate change was a major issue. Image: AFP

From The Straits Times

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) – Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has promised a “new era” of climate action and energy innovation under his centre-left Labor government, despite criticism from activists and Greens Party lawmakers who say that his planned cuts to emissions don’t go far enough.

Speaking to the Sydney Energy Forum on Tuesday (July 12), Albanese said Australia’s current energy infrastructure and policies are inadequate to handle the global fuel crisis which has been sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Albanese reiterated his promise to introduce new climate legislation, including a target of 43 per cent cuts by 2030 and net zero by 2050, when Australia’s Parliament sits for the first time under his leadership this month.

“This is a new day. It is a new era. We need to act – and we will act,” he said.

Albanese took power at an election in May where Australia’s lack of action on climate change was a major issue. While Labour won government with a majority in the lower house of Parliament, Albanese will be held to account by a wave of new lawmakers who were elected after campaigning for tougher action on climate change.

The Australian Greens Party and pro-climate action independent David Pocock hold the balance of power in the Australian Senate, leaving the new government highly dependent on them to pass legislation.

The Greens and Pocock have called for emission cuts of at least 60 per cent by 2030. Greens leader Adam Bandt has also called for an moratorium on any new coal or gas mines in Australia.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen has described the government’s 43 per cent emissions target as a floor rather than a “ceiling” for Labour’s climate ambitions. However, Albanese has been clear he will not legislate a higher target in his first term of government.

Global peers

Albanese’s target brings Australia into line with nations including Canada, South Korea and Japan, though the plan remains less ambitious than action pledged by the United States, the European Union and Britain.

Bowen and US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm were scheduled on Tuesday to discuss collaboration on climate technology on the sidelines of the two-day forum. Ministers handling energy policy from the Quad nations – which also include India and Japan – are meeting for talks in Sydney alongside executives from companies including Siemens, Fortescue Metals Group and Mitsui & Co.

Australia has already seen the impact of climate change-fuelled natural disasters, including severe flooding in the state of New South Wales over the past month.

In his speech on Tuesday, Albanese said the extent of the flooding in Sydney has previously been described as a “once-in-a-thousand-year event”. “Guess what? It’s now an annual event,” he said.

Albanese said Australia can become a renewable energy “superpower,” describing the coming years as a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity.

“Our government’s policies are designed to seize that opportunity with the determination and resolve it demands,” the prime minister said.

Climate change is also a major issue among Australia’s neighbouring Pacific nations, who have long criticised Australia for not living up to its climate action obligations. Canberra is working to burnish its credentials in the Pacific among a growing battle for influence with Beijing in the region.

Albanese is expected to head to the Pacific Islands Forum on Wednesday to meet with regional leaders.

“Australia will once again be a trusted global partner on climate action. I am ambitious about what we can achieve together,” he said.

Solar-powered direct air carbon capture tech from Australia

Southern Green Gas has designed a unique modular system that runs completely on solar power. Image: Southern Green Gas

Australian company AspiraDAC, which uses solar-powered Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology to remove carbon from the atmosphere, has been selected to be part of the first round of purchases from Frontier, a program backed by Facebook and Google’s parent companies, Meta and Alphabet.

From pv magazine Australia

Australian direct air carbon capture technology has the attention of a conglomerate of technology giants, with the company deploying the technology, AspiraDAC, announcing its first customer. Officially, the customer is Stripe, which is making the purchase via Frontier – a partnership between Alphabet and Meta (the owners of Google and Facebook respectively) as well as e-commerce giant Shopify and consulting firm McKinsey.

Earlier this year, Frontier’s members announced they would spend US$925 million on carbon removal over the next nine years to stimulate and accelerate the development of carbon removal technology. AspiraDAC is one of six companies in the first round of spending, in which Stripe distributed  US$2.4 million. It is working in partnership with Australian start-up Southern Green Gas under an exclusive collaboration agreement to produce and deploy its solar-powered modules by the end of 2022.

Southern Green Gas’s prototype machine, developed in partnership with the University of Sydney, claims to suck CO2 directly from the air using solar power.

The technology uses what’s known as Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology, which is still in nascent stages. Image: Southern Green Gas

It is believed Southern Green Gas will build and deliver the machines to AspiraDAC, which will then begin capturing and storing carbon. “With Southern Green Gas pioneering this technology – harnessing Australia’s incredible solar power resource and world-class storage reserves – we are currently completing the demonstration phase of this project and are looking to enter the construction phase later this year,” Julian Turecek, Executive Director of AspiraDAC, said.

“What Frontier sees in AspiraDAC is the enormous potential in the range of technology developments we are ready to scale in the carbon removal sector,” he added. “The DAC [Direct Air Capture] solar-powered modules being delivered in this project are at the heart of the agreement with Frontier, being a global-first use of this technology.”

AspiraDAC and Southern Green Gas say they are currently working on the world’s first solar-powered DAC project of one tonne per day, or 310 tonnes per annum, made possible by funding from the Australian Government’s Carbon Capture Use and Storage Development Fund.

“Australia’s abundant solar energy potential means it is a perfect location for DAC, and with the use of solar-powered modules the facility can operate independently of traditional energy sources,” Turecek said. “Additionally, the compact nature of DAC facilities means production can capture equivalent CO2 emissions using less than 90% of the land needed in reforestation carbon capture projects. It is not without challenges, DAC technology is in its nascent stages, and agreements with customers such as the Frontier group will catalyze further development of the sector. This will increase our ability to bring down the costs per tonne of carbon to a competitive level to take removal to a megatonne scale within the next decade, and gigatonne scale the decade following.”

Author: Bella Peacock


AEMO reveals new roadmap for rapid switch to renewables

Work has already commenced on the Victoria-NSW Interconnector (VNI) Upgrade project. Image: Transgrid

The Australian Energy Market Operator has declared approximately $12.7 billion of investment in new transmission lines should begin “as urgently as possible” to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and energy storage, replace exiting coal-fired power plants, and deliver a more efficient and effective grid in eastern and south-eastern Australia.

From pv magazine Australia

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has today published the final version of its 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP), outlining a 30-year roadmap of investments for what it said is “a true transformation” of the National Electricity Market (NEM), from fossil fuels to firmed renewables.

AEMO said the 104-page document, developed with involvement from more than 1,500 NEM stakeholders, calls for levels of investment in generation, storage, transmission and system services that exceed all previous efforts combined.

“Australia is experiencing a complex, rapid and irreversible energy transformation,” AEMO chief executive officer Daniel Westerman said in a statement.

“The 2022 ISP informs Australia’s energy transformation, based on an optimal development path (ODP) of essential transmission investments that will efficiently enable low-cost, firmed renewable energy to replace exiting coal generation.”

Australia’s traditional fossil-fuel fired generators are being replaced by consumer-led distributed energy resources (DER), utility-scale renewable energy, and new forms of dispatchable resources to firm those renewables but AEMO said it is critical the NEM provide the power system assets and services to ensure these resources are efficient, safe, reliable and secure.

The market operator estimates at least 10,000 kilometres of new transmission is required to connect a nine-fold expansion of wind and solar farm capacity and a near five-fold increase in distributed solar by 2050 and to treble the firming capacity from alternative sources to coal, including utility-scale batteries, hydro storage, gas-fired generation, and smart behind-the-meter virtual power plants (VPPs).

Five transmission projects across New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania have been highlighted as top priorities with AEMO saying they should progress as urgently as possible. The five projects – HumeLink, VNI West, Marinus Link, Sydney Ring and New England REZ Transmission Link – are all currently being assessed for regulatory approval or should begin that process soon.

The five priority projects are in addition to another seven transmission links, including Project EnergyConnect and the Victoria-NSW Interconnector Minor upgrade, already under development.

Map of the network projects in the optimal development path. Image: AEMO

Westerman said the five priority projects would optimise benefits for all who produce, consume and transport electricity in the market; and provide investment certainty.

“These transmission projects are forecast to deliver $28 billion in net market benefits, returning 2.2 times their cost of $12.7 billion, which represents just 7% of the total generation, storage and network investment in the NEM,” he said.

As part of developing the ISP, AEMO and stakeholders identified the most likely future for the NEM, having considered ageing generation plants, technical innovation, economics, government policies, energy security and consumer choice.

The ISP indicates the NEM must triple its overall generation and storage capacity by 2050 if it is to meet the economy’s electricity needs in the ‘step change’ scenario.

“The step change scenario forecasts annual electricity consumption from the grid will double by 2050, as transport, heating, cooking and industrial processes are electrified and 60% of current coal generation exiting by 2030,” Westerman said.

“To maintain a secure, reliable and affordable electricity supply for consumers through this transition to 2050, investment is required for a nine-fold increase in grid-scale wind and solar capacity, triple the firming capacity (dispatchable storage, hydro and gas-fired generation) and a near five-fold increase in distributed solar.”

Today the NEM installed capacity of nearly 60 GW delivers approximately 180 TWh of electricity to industry and homes per year. In Step Change, utility-scale generation and storage capacity would need to grow to 173 GW and deliver 320 TWh per year to customers by 2050 to serve the electrification of our transport, industry, office and homes.

The ISP forecasts that variable renewable energy (VRE) capacity will increase from 16 GW currently to 141 GW by 2050. Additionally, distributed PV is forecast to increase from 15 GW to 69 GW over the same period. To firm that VRE and distributed PV, 63 GW of firm dispatchable capacity and additional power system security services will be needed by 2050.

Forecast NEM capacity to 2050, Step Change scenario. Image: AEMO

AEMO also expects that coal-fired generation will continue to withdraw faster than announced, with 60% of the eastern seaboard’s coal fleet to expire by 2030.

“Competition, climate change and operational pressures will intensify with the ever-increasing penetration of firmed renewable generation,” it said. “Current announcements by thermal plant owners suggest that about 8 GW of the current 23 GW of coal-fired generation capacity will withdraw by 2030. In the step change scenario, ISP modelling suggests that 14 GW would withdraw by 2030.”

Westerman said the need to cost-effectively deliver the investment in firmed renewables has gathered momentum in recent months.

“We’ve recently seen market dynamics exhibiting the step change scenario, including accelerated coal-fired power station closures. In addition, generation unavailability and high commodity prices further highlight the need to invest in the transmission plan outlined in the ISP to support firmed renewables,” he said.

“The ISP will help industry participants, investors, governments and communities plan for the decarbonisation of the power system to deliver low-cost, firmed renewable electricity with reliability and security.

“Importantly, the ISP will help meet state and national climate targets, and contribute to economic growth through low-cost, reliable energy.”

Author: David Carroll

Melbourne’s suburbs shining with solar and battery uptake

Solar suburbs in Victoria. Image: Solar Victoria

After a bumpy start, the Victorian government’s Solar Homes Program is now in full swing, lead by strong uptake in Melbourne’s suburbs and the state’s rural north. Meanwhile, demand for batteries linked to rooftop solar has skyrocketed over the last month, spurred by the energy crisis and an especially cold winter.

From pv magazine Australia

The Victorian government’s $1.3 billion Solar Homes Program (program) may have had bumpy beginnings but it’s certainly up and running now, not only boosting solar uptake but also virtual power plants (VPPs) and residential batteries. 

Melbourne’s outer suburbs are leading household solar boom. Since the rebate began back in 2018, five metropolitan suburbs have accessed more solar rebates than any others. Indeed, Tarneit, Cragieburn, Point Cook, Clyde North and Truganina make up a full 10% of all Solar Homes installations across the state. 

Rural access to the Solar Homes program was a point of criticism for Nationals’ Victoria Murray Plains MP Peter Walsh in 2020, who alleged Melbourne-centrism in the program when his electorate was overlooked by the program’s scheme for energy storage devices. 

However, northern Victoria is leading the uptake among rural areas of the state, notably the regional cities of Mildura, Shepparton, Wodonga, Wangaratta and Wallan. 

The Victorian government claims the program has already helped more than 200,000 Victorians install solar, saving households an average of $1,073 on their annual electrical bill. Moreover, a Solar Victoria customer survey revealed that 71% of respondents would not have installed solar if it hadn’t been for the program. 

“Our Solar Homes Program is driving down the cost of living for Victorian households and reducing emissions,” says minister for Solar Homes Lily D’Ambrosio. 

“Solar Homes customers are well-positioned to absorb energy bill rises in energy costs, by time-setting appliances to run during the day when solar systems are operating at their peak.”

The program is still open, and Victorian homeowners and rental providers are able to apply for rebates of $1,400 for the installation of solar panels, with an optional interest free $1,400 loan, and a further $1,000 rebate for the installation of solar hot water.  

“Household solar puts the power back into the hands of Victorian households,” continued D’Ambrosio, “while helping meet our target of halving emissions by 2030 and supporting 5,500 clean energy jobs.” 

Battery boom 

The last month has seen especially cold temperatures which, in combination with the energy crisis, has seen the demand for solar battery energy storage systems skyrocket. Solar Victoria chief executive, Stan Krpan, told The Guardian that inquiries into battery rebates in Victoria have spiked in the last two weeks.

Rates for residential battery energy storage systems are also available to households that have not previously claimed a Solar Homes rebate. The Andrews government expanded the scheme in March, and it now offers up to $3,500 for households to install a solar battery. 

Krpan reported that 5,842 battery rebate applications have been approved this financial year, more than double the number received last year with three weeks still to go. “In the past two weeks, phone inquiries to our contact centre have been 50% higher than the yearly average,” said Krpan. “We’re expecting this to lead to growth in installations over the winter months.”

The Victorian government-backed is also now supporting six different two-year VPP pilots as part of its Solar Homes program. The program is capped at 2000 rebates with the state government saying households that sign up to the pilot prior to June 30, 2022 and install a battery will receive a rebate of $4,174.

It has approved five battery brands to participate in the six distinct VPPs which it says will give participants “guaranteed financial benefits and additional consumer protections not widely available in the general market.”

The program’s five approved battery providers include Tesla, Mondo, Reposit, Sonnen and Arcstream.

Author: Blake Matich

‘The villain is the framework’: crisis an opportunity to review regulation requisites

Gas and coal generators’ role in exacerbating the unfolding energy crisis in Australia has been harshly criticised, but Dufty points out companies are simply following the logic of profit within a framework that makes such practices possible. Image: Bluescope

Australia’s energy crisis affords it an intricate, if painful, look at exactly where and how our current electricity regulations no longer fit their purpose. According to analyst Gavin Dufty, now is the time to retrain our eyes on the prize: designing a new framework suitable for the future decentralised system. “But everybody needs to put their guns back in their holsters,” Dufty tells pv magazine Australia.

From pv magazine Australia

With Australia’s National Electricity Market spot market now suspended, an extraordinary move from the market operator yesterday to cool a fiery situation, the emphasis now needs to be on what can be learned from the meltdown, says Gavin Dufty, an energy analyst with St Vincent de Paul.

“Here’s an opportunity,” he tells pv magazine Australia. “It’s about recasting regulatory framework so it’s fit for purpose.”

“The world is watching us,” he adds. “We actually get to be leaders.”

“It’s not just one tweak. Everything needs to move together in concert to create the new orchestra or architecture for the future energy market because this one is not going to work, and it’s not working.”

Our current regulatory framework, built for a centralised fossil fuel system, uses a top down approach. Now, as electricity is increasingly generated on rooftops and in paddocks, the system needs to reflect this shift from a handful of mega generators to a collection of small technologies. That is, it needs to be designed for the bottom up future.

In the days days, the operator (AEMO) and ministers have come out against gas and coal generators’ role in exacerbating the situation, and therefore jeopardising an essential service, Dufty is quick to point out the companies are simply following a logic made accessible to them.  “They’re doing what they’ve been told to do for a hundred years”: maximise profits.

“Maybe the villain is the framework,” he posits.

Under Australia’s current framework, he says, the cost of the crisis will eventually wash up with consumers, but this doesn’t have to be the case. “Where it falls depends on how governments intervene,” he says. “In unusual times, you probably need unusual transition methods.”

He believes the electricity system is moving from a goods market to service market, which means companies operating within it should have a duty of care. This is especially true since the market delivers an essential service.

Moreover, Dufty says there needs to be a laser focus on consumer households and delivering value to them.

“Follow the money,” he says, “in the next 10 years, if you have five million Australian households investing in electricity assets like PV, EVs [electric vehicles], batteries and the like, that’s $250 billion worth of energy assets installed behind the metre.”

“The investment in energy is going to happen and those consumers will want value for their investment.”

The role of industry and the framework which governs it is to make sure that value is realised.

Solaray Energy says its inquiries and battery sales have surged since the federal election in May. Image: Solaray Energy

St Vincent de Paul were one of the primary proponents of two-way pricing, which quickly came to be dubbed a ‘sun tax’ and fiercely criticised. Be that as it may, the vision is not without merit – especially when taking into account future technologies beyond solar. The Australian Energy Market Commission agreed, heralding in the change last year.

The changes, for Dufty, are imperative because they shine a light on the other side of the electricity grid balancing equation, the side often left out of the discussion: load flexibility.

Creating and compelling load flexibility, that is changing when electricity is used, is the other side of the generation drama. As others have pointed out before him, jamming more solar into the situation simply won’t work. The penetrations are already so high that much of the energy generated in the day is simply going to waste and causing greater imbalances in the night.

“There isn’t one magical solution,” he says, “diversity is the key here.”

Dufty is adamant what’s good for individual households and what is good for society and the larger electricity network don’t need to compete. But to ensure those two forces aren’t mutually exclusive, the regulatory framework needs to change drastically.

“This is not incremental change. We might have step by step,” he says, but in the end it must amount to a full redesign, especially in terms of consumer protections.

Likewise complementary frameworks like the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) and the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) need to be reviewed to ensure they remain fit for purpose as well, Dufty says.

Author: Bella Peacock

Australia raises emissions cutting target for 2030

Australia’s new PM Anthony Albanese pledged to participate in international efforts to address global warming. Image: AFP

From AFP

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) – Australia, under a new Labor government, on Thursday  (June 16) raised its 2030 target for cutting carbon emissions, bringing the country more in line with other developed economies’ Paris climate accord commitments.

Australia, one of the world’s highest per capita carbon emitters, pledged to the United Nations that it would cut carbon emissions by 43 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, up from the previous conservative government’s target of between 26 per cent and 28 per cent.

“When I’ve spoken with international leaders in the last few weeks, they have all welcomed Australia’s changed position,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said after notifying the UN.

Under the former government, Australia, the world’s top exporter of coal and liquefied natural gas, had long been seen as a laggard in climate commitments, with no clear energy and climate policy to encourage renewable energy investments.

At the UN climate summit in Glasgow last year, former prime minister Scott Morrison was criticised for failing to set a more ambitious emissions-cutting target while the United States, Canada, EU, Britain and Japan all sharply stepped up their pledges.

Canada is aiming for a reduction of 40 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels, while the US has a target of up to 52 per cent.

“For years, the Australian government told the world that was all too hard,” Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen told reporters at a televised media conference in Canberra.

“We send the message to the rest of the world, to our friends and allies, that we’re partners in tackling the climate emergency. We send the message to Australians that we seek to end the climate wars, as the Prime Minister said,” Mr Bowen added.

The push to slash emissions more rapidly comes as the country is facing a major power crisis caused by planned and unplanned coal-fired generator outages, which have driven up demand for gas-fired generation just as global gas prices have skyrocketed.

Mr Bowen said the crisis highlighted the need to speed up, not slow down, work on the regulations needed to encourage more investment in renewable energy.

Transgrid builds high-voltage interconnector to link Australian states

Image: AER

Transgrid, the transmission network owner in the Australian state of New South Wales, has started building its section of the AUD 2.3 billion ($1.64 billion) Project EnergyConnect. The high-voltage electricity transmission interconnector will link power grids across three states, unlocking gigawatts of planned renewables.

From pv magazine Australia

Transgrid has confirmed that work has begun on the New South Wales section of the 900-kilometer Project EnergyConnect, which will link the grids of New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria, while supporting the development of new wind, solar and energy storage projects.

Project EnergyConnect, a joint venture between Transgrid and South Australian network operator ElectraNet, will link Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, to Robertstown, South Australia. It will also include an additional “spur” link in northwestern Victoria. The interconnector will provide 800 MW of nominal transfer capacity in both directions and is expected to unlock about 5.3 GW of new renewable energy projects.

The project is a critical link in the National Electricity Market (NEM), with proponents claiming it will enhance power system security. Transgrid CEO Brett Redman said the project “will help deliver the grid of the future.” He also said the project, Australia’s biggest electricity interconnector to date, will increase wholesale electricity competition and help drive down electricity prices.

ElectraNet Interim Chief Executive Rainer Korte said the project will improve energy security in all states, while accelerating the transition to a grid based around wind, solar and storage.

EnergyConnect is a landmark project of national significance that will enable more renewable energy and improve the affordability, reliability, and security of electricity supply,” he said.

Project EnergyConnect will involve the installation of more than 9,000 kilometers of cabling, and the erection of 1,500 new transmission towers, using more than 30,000 tons of steel. Construction of the eastern portion of the project is expected to start in 2023, with the full project set for completion by 2024.

Author: David Carroll

WA project seeks to demonstrate ‘almost limitless’ potential of ocean energy

Albany’s Historic Whaling Station – the proposed microgrid site for the NERA project. Image: NERA

The southern tip of Western Australia will soon be the focus of an ocean energy project which is hoping to match end-users to ocean energy solutions and eventually build a “physical marketplace using an integrated microgrid approach” – though exactly what this involves remains somewhat vague.

From pv magazine Australia

A project seeking to demonstrate the potential of ocean energy in Australia was unveiled today at  the Australian Ocean Energy Group’s Market Summit in Hobart. 

The project is being proposed near Albany, on Western Australia’s southernmost tip, and at this stage involves a feasibility study looking into matching markets to ocean energy solutions via an online platform. 

The project is being led by the Australian Ocean Energy Group cluster, which was established with support from NERA (National Energy Resources Australia). It hopes to illuminate the  benefits of integrating ocean energy with other renewables, including offshore wind.

The project will unfold in two stages, if found to be feasible, the second stage of which will see the development of “a physical, visitable marketplace” which will showcase an integrated ocean energy microgrid. 

“Using an integrated microgrid approach, a working, pilot-scale ocean energy system will be created as a world-first offshore energy marketplace,” the announcement says, though precisely what this means remains rather opaque. It seems the marketplace is likely a modelling exercise from real world data rather than any actual installation of ocean technology. Clarification has been sought. 

There is already a project looking to create an ocean energy centre, named Marine Energy Research Australia, in Albany being led by the University of Western Australia (UWA) and backed by funding from the state government. It isn’t clear whether this NERA project will cooperate or build on this work, though again clarification is being sought. 

The promise of ocean energy is neither new nor mastered, with attempts to harness its power documenting all the way back to 1799. Since then, thousands of patents have been filed and as many inventors risen and fallen. 

In Australia, there are a handful of companies grappling with the technology, including Carnegie Clean Energy. Carnegie had been involved in UWA’s Marine Energy Research Australia project before the company went into voluntary administration in 2019. It has since bounced back and is again looking to further ocean energy in Australia.

Western Australian company Carnegie has developed ‘resonator’ wave energy technology. Image: Carnegie Wave

Carnegie’s journey illustrates some of the challenges ocean energy expert Richard Manasseh, Swinburne Professor of Fluid Dynamics, outlined to pv magazine Australia earlier this year. He noted the scale and cost were the most problematic aspects of ocean energy projects, inhibited the technology’s takeoff more than actual technological issues.

“The machines don’t work at all unless they are gigantic,” Manasseh said. “So there’s a mismatch between the amount of capital companies tends to have and the size of what they have to build.” Wave energy machines can cost anywhere from a few hundred thousand to a few million to build, depending on the design’s sophistication and efficiency.

Stephanie Thornton, who heads up the Australian Ocean Energy Group cluster, echoed these sentiments saying the four main barriers to the adoption of ocean energy are awareness, accessibility, affordability and commercial project delivery.

While these issues have set back the technology in the past, Alex Ogg, NERA’s Ocean Energy Program Manager, says the ocean has “almost limitless potential to produce clean energy more consistently and predictably than any other source.”

“Energy from our oceans has been too often overlooked. What also sets ocean energy apart is its ability to be integrated with other renewables — from discrete blue economy applications today to multi-use offshore energy parks in our future — adding huge value, consistency and complementary energy to the renewable supply,” Ogg added.

Energy consultancy Xodus Group is supporting the development of the feasibility study for NERA’s marketplace concept, which seeks to draw data from existing wave and tidal energy projects “to mix and match end-users to proposed ocean energy system integrations and potential providers.”

Given that the project is expecting to develop its second stage, the “physical marketplace,” in Albany in 2023 – 2024, it would suggest no real life ocean energy machines will be submerged in West Australian seas.

Nonetheless, the announcement outlines the stage two microgrid “will include a combination of wind and wave energy converters, solar (onshore and/or offshore), storage and application technologies including green hydrogen production, desalination capability and EV charging.”

Another large ocean energy modelling project was announced earlier this year, involving researchers from Melbourne’s Swinburne University, Adelaide University, and the University of New South Wales working in collaboration with Victoria’s Moyne Shire Council and Western Australia’s Mid West Ports Authority. It is looking into whether ocean energy devices could be used to protect Australia’s vulnerable coastlines.

Author: Bella Peacock

Solar-backed electrification of city tipped to save $3.9 billion

Electrifying Brisbane households could save them almost $5,000 a year. Image: The Sebel

A plan to “rewire” one of Australia’s largest cities by electrifying the region’s homes and vehicles and powering them with solar energy would save the average household almost $5,000 a year, generate more than 24,000 jobs and provide an overall annual economic benefit of approximately $3.9 billion.

From pv magazine Australia

Independent thinktank Rewiring Australia has released modelling which shows the solar-backed electrification of homes and vehicles in the Queensland capital of Brisbane using technology that is almost entirely off-the-shelf and available today would save the average household $4,700 a year in energy bills and vehicle costs.

Rewiring Australia, the work of Australian-American entrepreneur, scientist and energy analyst Dr Saul Griffith, has released modelling that outlines how households and communities can financially benefit from replacing fossil-fuelled devices with solar panels, batteries, heat pumps, induction stoves, electric vehicles (EVs) and household and community batteries.

The modelling, set to be publicly released by Griffith during an online webinar tonight, shows the full electrification of households across greater Brisbane by 2030 would save the average household $4,700 per year in energy and vehicle costs, totalling $3.9 billion across all households.

Rewiring Australia said in addition to the cost savings, the economic flow-on effects across the region could spark the indirect creation of up to 24,100 new jobs with an estimated $200 million to be spent upgrading homes, installing zero emission appliances, solar and EV chargers.

While acknowledging the inevitable upfront costs, Rewiring Australia founder and chief scientist Griffith said households making the jump to solar, storage and EVs would provide a massive economic boost to greater Brisbane.

“Our research shows that Australia can lead the world by electrifying our homes and vehicles and powering them with renewable energy,” he said.

“If we make the necessary investment to seize the future it will look like more jobs for tradies, more money spent in local shops, cleaner air and healthier people.

“At the moment, $3.3 billion is being drained from the greater Brisbane economy and winding up in the pocket of those who peddle fossil fuels. If we electrify and decarbonise we keep that money in the local community and make the world cleaner and safer.”

Rewiring Australia said the first step in the electrification process would be to install solar, or “supersize the existing system” while it is “vital to have a smart inverter and upgrade the switchboard to manage how the house exports and imports to the grid”.

Replacing traditional vehicles with EVs shapes as the biggest cost for households. Image: ARENA

The organisation said the biggest financial outlay would be to replace petrol and diesel cars with EVs and use the batteries as part of the household energy system. Gas-fuelled devices would also be replaced. Rewiring Australia said this would deliver immediate savings.

“An electric car costs about 6 cents per kilometre to drive if charged from the grid, compared to a petrol car which costs about 12 cents per km (when petrol is at $1.43/L). Charging an electric car with rooftop solar reduces this even further, to about 1 cent a km, over 10 times less than a petrol car,” the organisation said.

“Heating the water for a shower with a gas-fuelled water heater costs about 89 cents with standard gas prices (2019). An electric heat pump water heater costs just 21 cents to provide the same hot shower using grid electricity. Using rooftop solar, that shower costs just 5 cents, over 10 times less than a gas shower.”

Rewiring Australia said the savings modelled for electrification take into account the upfront costs of purchase and assume that they are financed over the lifetime of the asset.

Griffith said the benefits of the electrification process are amplified when entire suburbs, communities and regions electrify their homes.

“When entire communities and cities upgrade and electrify, the benefits will be amplified and shared,” he said. “Less money will be sent out of the community and offshore from Australia. Billions of dollars can be retained in local communities and thousands of additional local jobs generated.”

Griffith said the technology to decarbonise and electrify households exists today and “the more that consumers buy electric vehicles, solar, batteries and electric appliances, the cheaper and better they get”.

Rewiring Australia founder Dr Saul Griffith. Image: Solar Schools

Rewiring Australia said the initial modelling is based on the potential uptake across the southeast Queensland federal electorates of Brisbane, Longman, and Griffith, but the program is also planning to analyse other seats across the country.

The release of the modelling comes after The Greens proposed the electrification an entire Australian town and a suburb in a major city of the party’s climate and energy policy in the lead up to the federal election later this month.

Party leader Adam Bandt said the pilot project, to be enabled by a $235 million fund, would seek to show that by 2025 it will be cost effective for households to be completely electric, largely powered by rooftop and community solar and batteries.

“This hasn’t been achieved anywhere in the world,” he said. “It’s time to get off the gas, get batteries in our homes, and solar on the roof. We will show this works at scale, creating jobs and powering up a community.”

A study released last year by Rewiring Australia found a $12 billion investment would retrofit 11 million Australian households for full electrification by 2030 leading to national savings of more than $40 billion and removing one-third of domestic carbon emissions.

Griifith said the full electrification of Brisbane households would reduce the region’s emissions by 42.4%.

“Electrification attacks the three huge national problems – climate heating, cost of living and national security,” he said.

Author: David Carroll

Western Australia to host green hydrogen project powered by 5.2 GW of wind, PV

Image: MHR

Investors have applied for an environmental assessment for about 5 GW of wind and solar in Australia, which will support plans to produce green hydrogen and ammonia at a massive new facility.

From pv magazine Australia

The Murchison Hydrogen Renewables project, under development near the Western Australian coastal town of Kalbarri, will use 5.2 GW of wind and solar to produce renewable hydrogen. That will then be converted to an estimated 2 million tons of green ammonia per annum, for domestic use and export.

The ambitious project was first proposed by Hydrogen Renewables Australia in 2019. The project is now being led by investment firm Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners via its Murchison Hydrogen Renewables (MHR) offshoot. While no specific details about the ambitious project were previously available, a referral filed this week with the state’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) reveals the true scale of the project.

The submission shows that MHR plans to install about 1.5 GW of solar PV and an estimated 700 onshore wind turbines with a combined capacity of about 3.7 GW. A Power-to-X (PtX) plant will be constructed on site to convert the renewable energy into green hydrogen, which will be converted into an estimated 2 million tons of green ammonia per year.

The facility will be equipped with about 3 GW of electrolyzers while a purpose-built water treatment and desalination plant will generate about 6 giga-liters of “demineralised water” a year for use in the production process. The PtX plant will be coupled with 250 MW to 350 MW of battery storage with a two-hour duration that will be used to regulate the renewable energy prior to distribution to the electrolysers.

The proposal also includes hydrogen storage which will be used as an intermediary between electricity and ammonia. It is anticipated that up to 200 hydrogen storage vessels, each with a capacity of up to 680 tons, will be installed.

The green ammonia produced at the site is to be exported to emerging green energy markets with a pipeline to link the PtX plant and storage facility to a marine export facility. The submission also highlights the potential for local, domestic offtake as hydrogen or ammonia.

Hydrogen Renewables Australia has already secured a long-term agreement with the pastoral lessees of the Murchison House Station and announced Siemens as the proposed plant’s technology partner.

The project is expected to be developed in three stages. The first stage would comprise a demonstration phase producing hydrogen for transport fuels, to be followed by an expansion to blend with natural gas into the nearby Dampier to Bunbury pipeline. The third and final phase would include an expansion to produce hydrogen for export to Asian markets.

Hydrogen Renewables Australia has previously indicated the potential for the proposed project to scale up over a six-year period, reaching full capacity toward the end of this decade. The referral to the EPA is currently open to public comment until May 8.

Author: David Carrol