Australian news, and some related international items

Report shows opportunity for clean energy jobs worth $370 bn

Australian clean energy jobs could be worth $370 bn in 10 years   By  on 29 September 2015 Australia’s renewable energy industry could generate $370 billion worth of jobs over the next 10 years using current technology, a new report has found. The report, released on Tuesday by Beyond Zero Emissions, aims to illustrate how Australia can transition from coal-fired power to renewables, shifting the economy along with it.

“Our research with Melbourne University into energy generation in Australia shows that we can create $370 billion of green energy jobs with current technology, instead of using coal-fired power stations,” said Beyond Zero Emissions CEO Stephen Bygrave.


When you add to this smart homes and buildings, as well as low-carbon land use, high speed rail and electric vehicle options, the green jobs climb towards $1 trillion dollars in value, Dr Bygrave says.

The report’s findings coincide with a new policy proposal from the Greens that calls for a levy to be imposed on coal mining companies to help pay for the transition away from fossil fuels, including for the rehabilitation of retired mines and retraining workers for clean energy jobs.

BZE is also set to launch a new book on October 2, at the Smart Future Cities Conference showing how easily existing Australian homes can be retrofitted to eliminate electricity and gas bills – a follow-up to its Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan, that was researched over 3 years.

“The Buildings Plan showed that all residential and commercial buildings in Australia could be converted to generate as much energy as they consumed, creating $270 billion of green jobs in the construction industry,” Bygrave said.

“The new book, The Energy Freedom Home, shows how every home can produce more energy than it consumes. And with rising electricity and gas prices and falling rooftop solar prices, Australian households can affordably revolutionise the way they power their homes.

“Our research shows that millions of ordinary Australian homes can be transformed to be high performing, comfortable and cheaper to run. The transformation is easy since 1.4 million homes already have rooftop solar.”

To illustrate their theory, BZE along with the University of Newcastle have retrofitted a brick veneer family home in North Lambton, Newcastle, that was originally built in 2000.

The retrofits, which began in 2009 and are based on the guidelines provided by the Energy Freedom Home program now save the household $1,200 a year on power bills, with credits during the year. By 2013 the house was transformed into a comfortable, passive solar house, generating more energy from the PV system in the year than it uses.

“We removed the gas systems for health, safety and cost reasons, and have found we use less energy now than when we had both electricity and gas,” said the house’s owner, who monitors it for energy, water, temperature and humidity.

As part of the Smart Future Cities conference, the home in North Lambton will be open on 10am and at 10:30am on Saturday 3rd October for free limited tours.

October 1, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, employment, energy | Leave a comment

Australian govt to promote battery storage, through ARENA and CEFC

Parkinson-Report-Coalition to accelerate battery storage in Australian households. By  on 1 October 2015

The Australian government has announced that it wants to accelerate the deployment of battery storage in Australian households, chiefly as a means to reduce huge peaks in demand and reduce costs for consumers, but also to cut emissions.

Environment minister Greg Hunt says he wants the two institutions that have been brought within his department – the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) – to bring forward the widespread deployment of battery storage. “Australia has the highest rate of household solar in the world,” Hunt said in emailed comments toRenewEconomy. “This makes Australia an ideal place to develop storage and battery technology.”

Indeed, the battery storage market in Australia is widely tipped to take off in the next year. One of the triggers will be the arrival of the first Tesla Powerwall products in Australia in the next two months, although other international manufacturers such as Panasonic, LG, and Kokam already have products in the market.

Next week, Enphase will launch its “plug and play” battery storage product into Australia. Like Tesla, Enphase is targeting Australia because of the unique nature of its markets – high electricity prices driven by soaring grid costs, particularly to meet “peak” demand, the world’s biggest penetration of rooftop solar, and lots of sun. Continue reading

October 1, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, storage | Leave a comment

AUDIO: Australia world top in household solar panel installations

Hear-This-wayAUDIO: Australia leads world in household solar panel installations, ABC RadioThe World Today By Samantha Donovan Australia has the highest rate of household solar panel installation in the world, according to a new report from the Energy Supply Association of Australia.

“We’re clearly leading the world in rooftop solar,” said the association’s chief executive, Matthew text-people-power-solarWarren.

“There’s literally daylight [coming in] second.”

The report found about 15 per cent of Australian homes had solar panels………Installation rates are highest in South Australia and Queensland, and in some Brisbane and Adelaide suburbs more than half of all homes have solar panels.

Mr Warren attributed that to more generous schemes in those states.

“South Australia has 25 per cent of dwellings, which is the highest in the world, and Brisbane’s not far behind with 23 per cent, and then Perth and WA at 18 per cent.”

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

But the report found lower rates of solar panel installation in affluent suburbs. “It’s very popular with retirees,” Mr Warren said. “It’s more popular with mortgage-belt consumers who are probably more price conscious. “It hasn’t been in the trendy inner-city suburbs. There’s not much roof space and there are more renters, but it just hasn’t appealed to that demographic.”

Australia lags with large-scale solar projects

While Australians are taking to small-scale solar projects enthusiastically, the report found large-scale solar projects are less common than in other countries……..

September 30, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Canberra school Amaroo to get benefits from ACT’s largest rooftop solar system

sunAmaroo School to gleam under ACT’s largest rooftop solar system, Canberra Times, September 25, 2015   Canberra Times reporter Amaroo School will gleam beneath the territory’s largest rooftop solar system when school returns next term. Almost 2000 large solar panels will be installed across the school’s buildings, producing 600kW of power to be fed into the ACT electricity grid.

The school is leasing its roof space to solar energy company Solar Choice and will power the equivalent of about 175 Canberra houses each year. The 20-year lease will also generate $30,000 a year in school funding.

Solar Choice managing director Angus Gemmell said a team of 30 contractors would install the panels over the next fortnight while students were on school holidays, before solar inverters were installed the week after.

Mr Gemmell, who will soon oversee construction of the Majura Valley solar farm, said the school’s utility-scale panels would be about 25 per cent bigger than the panels installed on regular houses.

“We have large skillion, north-facing roofs that are much like a ski slope to the north. The panels can be perfectly flush-mounted, they won’t need tilt fronts,” he said………

the installation was part of a broader rollout of solar technology in the territory, which had seen rooftop solar capacity jump from less than one megawatt in early 2009 to about 45 megawatts today.

“As we head to a 90 per cent renewable energy target, rooftop solar is going to play an increasingly important role,” he said.”Medium and large-scale rooftop solar is the growth market now for PV [solar power] in Australia and I’m very excited to see Amaroo sharing in those benefits.”

Amaroo School principal Julie Cooper said the school, which is also home to a wind turbine, would make the most of the money injected into the school via the roof space lease.

September 26, 2015 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

South Australian govt removes regulatory hurdle on renewable energy

If South Australia were a nation, it would be second only to Denmark in regard to wind energy. It’s no slouch on solar power either. While it may not host the largest number of solar panel systems in Australia; it leads the nation based on the percentage of households with home solar installed.

Map-South-Australia-windMore Of South Australia Opened Up To Renewable Energy Projects September 22, 2015 Energy Matters The South Australian Government has reduced regulatory burdens on renewable energy projects on state Crown lands; a move it says will provide greater certainty to investors and make South Australia even more competitive.

The proclamation of the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation (Renewable Energy) Amendment Act 2014 means wind farm developer can now apply for 25-year licences on Crown land; subject to pastoral lease tenure. Developers will also be given the option to renew for another 25 years.

“Securing investor confidence is key to the long-term future of the renewable energy industry, and this Act serves to cement South Australia’s position as the preferred destination for renewable energy development,” said Climate Change Minister Ian Hunter.

Additionally, the Act will  expedite access for the development of solar farms and also ensure local communities reap the benefits of renewables investments; with 95 per cent of licence payments flowing through to pastoral lessees and native title holders. Continue reading

September 23, 2015 Posted by | South Australia, wind | Leave a comment

Queensland poised – could take off as renewable energy leader

map-solar-QueenslandQLD could become renewable energy leader  | 22nd Sep 2015 QUEENSLAND can become a leader in developing cleaner electricity, according to a new forum that has just launched a renewable energy transition document to explain how it’s possible.

The approach aims to create new jobs in regional and rural communities across the state and seeks to tap into global investment in renewable energy which rose 17% last year to more than $270 billion. Sustainable Queensland Forum patron, Marcoola’s Professor Ian Lowe, said we should be at the forefront of the shift from fossil fuels because of our abundance of solar and wind resources.

“Queensland can get on board and move away from its present reliance on coal to develop a pathway for a clean energy transition and play a major role in this growth sector,” Prof Lowe said. “We have long been known as the Sunshine State. “It’s time to earn that title.”

Despite one of the highest uptakes for household solar, with about half a million homes using solar energy, Queensland lags behind every state except WA in total renewable generation.

Report lead author Trevor Berrill said renewable energy schemes created jobs through the construction and operation and offered farmers and graziers the chance to supplement their income by hosting solar and wind installations. Members of the Sustainable Queensland Forum received a positive response to the report at a recent meeting with Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey and his Director-General.

Key recommendations of the report Queensland Transitioning to a Clean and Efficient Energy System also include the establishment of an area within the State Government to drive Labor’s target of 50% renewable energy by 2030 and no further fossil fuel generation as coal-fired stations reach the end of their productive life.

Improving energy efficiency delivers savings for users and creates jobs and training for more energy auditors. The Australian Solar Council, Queensland Conservation Council, Australian PV Institute, Alternative Technology Association and Environmental Defenders Office endorsed the findings.

September 23, 2015 Posted by | energy, Queensland | Leave a comment

Will Environment Minister Greg Hunt now come good on renewable energy?

Turnbull government to ditch former PM Abbott’s attempt to abolish renewable energy agencies By  on September 22 2015 The Turnbull government is waiving to abandon former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s previous attempt to abolish renewable energy agencies for a new approach to attain the carbon reduction target of Australia. Environment Minister Greg Hunt is about to add the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, or CEFC, which Abbott previously aimed to ban from investing in commercial-based wind or small-scale solar energy projects, to his new portfolio.


There has been a negotiation between the government and the CEFC about the company’s investment instructions after a legal advice for the investment bank suggested that the Abbott government order could deny the CEFC its legislated duties. The Guardian reported that an agreement would be announced at any day.

Hunt believes that the CEFC may provide flexible proposals as it may return to finance government projects. In addition, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, or Arena, set up by the former Labor government to handle the use of renewable energy, was reported on Monday to be transferred from the Industry Department to the Department of the Environment.

“Obviously under Malcolm Turnbull there is a history of a deep long support for renewable energy,” Hunt told Sky News on Monday. Continue reading

September 23, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Tesla’s new Powerwall solar-energy batteries available in Australia this year

battey TeslaAustralia among first countries to use Tesla’s new Powerwall solar-energy batteries, IBT, By  on September 21 2015 US firm Tesla has announced Australia would be one of the first countries in the world that it would provide with its new Powerwall solar energy batteries. The new 7kWH home energy storage units will be available in late 2015 coming ahead of the previous reports indicating its release date in 2016.

The Powerwall, launched in May, is designed for the interior wall of the house that can store energy from solar panels placed on the rooftop. The storage units work with lithium-ion battery to generate electricity created by the solar panels.

Tesla has already partnered with the Canberra-based firm, Reposit Power, to launch the Powerwall. The firm is working with different residents to directly buy and sell their stored electricity.

The Business Insider reported that there is a growing list of major utility and solar supply companies aiming to partner with Tesla to launch the Powerwall storage units in the country. The sustainable energy expert at the University of Sydney, Professor Anthony Vassallo, describes Tesla’s arrival significant for the renewable energy industry because of its high-profile products.

“The Tesla product isn’t unique by any stretch, but it’s the Apple brand of the battery storage industry, they have the sex appeal that others don’t,” he said. Australians already has a great solar resource, which “makes a lot of sense” of the availability of the Powerwall batteries to store the energy created by the solar panels, Vassallo added.

More than 1.3 million households in Australia already have solar panels on their rooftop, and the number is currently increasing rapidly because of the falling PV systems price. However, the Powerwall technology still needs improvement, Vassallo said…..

Vassallo said that the country could reach the 50 percent target if it will require “well-designed policies and markets that allow a transition from centralised, large-scale fossil fuels to efficient but variable renewables.” Storage is a key part to make the goal successful, he added.

Once the officials have managed the capital cost of the renewable energy, Vassallo said, there would be no fuel cost. The availability of renewables would aid energy security where people “don’t get with fossil fuels.”

September 23, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, storage | Leave a comment

Tesla’s Powerwall battery for solar storage about to disrupt Australia’s energy market

Parkinson-Report-Tesla’s Powerwall will give its first taste of disruption to Australia’s energy market, Guardian, 19 Sep 15  Giles Parkinson With plenty of sunshine for solar panels and unprepared network operators, fast-tracking Powerwall into Australia’s energy market is a savvy move. 

The arrival of the Powerwall Tesla battery storage unit in Australia will herald the biggest challenge to Australia’s electricity industry for decades.

Tesla announced on Thursday that it is fast-tracking the roll-out of its battery storage product. Australia will be its first market for the 7kWh household units. The first deliveries had not been expected until well into 2017.

battey TeslaThe Tesla Powerwall is not the first or even the cheapest battery storage maker to enter the Australian market but it is the most ubiquitous brand.

It threatens to do to incumbent business models what Uber is doing to the taxi industry, and Facebook, Twitter and Amazon did to traditional publishing.

Tesla is targeting the Australian market first because it is ripe for change. It has high electricity prices, excellent sun, lots of rooftop solar (more than 4,400MW on more than 1.4m homes). Its tariff structure should make it attractive for households and businesses to store their solar output in a box for use in the evening, rather than giving it away for next to nothing to the grid.

There are a range of predictions on how quickly battery storage will be adopted in Australia. Some suggest that the combination of a solar array and battery storage is already cheaper than grid power in some areas, others suggest it will be another five years before the combination is cheap enough to become a mass market.

But the promised benefits to consumers could be undermined because of a major turf war between the incumbent utilities whose business models are being threatened by the new technology, and because regulators are so slow to act. Continue reading

September 21, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, storage | Leave a comment

Global investment bank UBS approves Labor’s proposed 50 per cent renewable energy target

piggy-ban-renewablesAustralia’s Energiewende: UBS on why 50% renewable target is good, REneweconomy, By  on 14 September 2015 Global investment bank UBS has conducted the first in-depth analysis of Labor’s proposed 50 per cent renewable energy target for Australia by 2030, concluding that it will require around $80 billion in investment, but much of this would need to be spent anyway.

In various scenarios outlined in the report, UBS says that up to 20GW of wind energy will need to be built by 2030, and 26GW of solar (both rooftop and large-scale), along with around $10 billion in grid costs. Around $4.8 billion is expected to be spent on battery storage by networks, and nearly $3 billion by households.

But it says this much of this will come from private investment, mostly from listed companies. And much of it needs to be factored in because it would be spent anyway to replace ageing coal and gas plants. And, UBS notes, all polls point to the popularity of renewable energy.

“A big part of the above cost will be incurred in one way or another as most of the thermal fleet in Australia is old and will need replacing.”

The intervention of UBS comes at a critical time, with the Canning by-election ……….

UBS says that the current target aims for around 7GW of wind and 6GW of solar, but it is not working anyway, because the policy certainty is not there – an issue we explore in this story, If wind energy is this cheap, why aren’t wind farms being built?………

Indeed, UBS suggests that a reverse auction process might be the best way to meet a Labor 50 per cent target – the same system adopted with great success in the ACT, and now by Germany and Texas and elsewhere (South Africa, UAE and Brazil also come to mind).

“Renewable energy suppliers and financiers want revenue certainty,” UBS analyst David Leitch writes.

“Thermal suppliers want to be able to plan their future with confidence. We think capacity auctions meet both of these goals.”

How would this work?

Leitch says legislation could set a quantity of renewable capacity to be added to each year. For instance, a 50 per cent by 2030 target requires around 70TWh of new renewables to be delivered over the 13 years from 2018 to 2030. That’s around 5TWh per year…………

September 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, energy | Leave a comment

Big Solar Power: Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation

logo-ARENALarge scale solar plants get $350m push, The Age, September 9, 2015 – BusinessDay Editor Australia will get up to 10 new large solar power stations as part of an unprecedented $350 million tie-up between two major government renewable energy agencies.

As part of a new funding round the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation will collaborate to offer, respectively, grants and loans to get major solar projects off the ground to feed into the energy grid.

It is understood some state governments have also signalled they will financially support bids for projects in their jurisdictions potentially through long term offtake agreements. Continue reading

September 8, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Australia’s electricity retailers not investing in renewable eneregy projects

Parkinson-Report-Renewable investment drought to continue as utilities extend buyers’ strike, REneweconomy, By  on 31 August 2015 The investment drought that has plagued the Australian large-scale renewable energy industry for the last two years could extend for another six to 18 months, with big and small electricity retailers showing no interest in contracting new wind or solar projects.

Infigen Energy said on Monday that the deal to cut the large-scale renewable energy target from 41,000GWh to 33,000GWh has yet to have any impact on the market, or to send a signal to retailers to contract new construction.

Infigen CEO Miles George says it could be six to 18 months before retailers will start to act. “The big three are in no hurry to contract now,” he told a conference call on Monday for the release of its annual results.

This confirms the indications from Origin Energy, AGL Energy and EnergyAustralia in recent weeks that they were not interested in writing long-term pricing contracts, either because of perceptions about the policy environment in Australia or because they had enough renewable energy certificates on their books.

Renewable energy investment in Australia plunged nearly 90 per cent since the election of the Abbott government, and even after the slashing of the RET the only projects going ahead now are those supported by the ACT government’s own renewable energy scheme (Ararat, Coonooer Bridge and Hornsdale).

Some big turbine manufacturers may enter the market on a “merchant basis” – taking the price risk – because they have the balance sheet to do so. This includes Suzlon’s Ceres project in South Australia and Goldwind’s project in NSW, and Infigen says it recently sold stakes in two wind projects with an unnamed wind turbine supplier with a mind to do the same thing.

The only other activity in the market has come from Queensland, where Ergon Energy has called for a tender for 150MW of renewable energy and the Queensland government has foreshadowed a tender for 40MW; and in Victoria, which has announced an initiative that may get a small number of wind turbines built.

In the meantime, the renewable energy developers are virtually hamstrung. Infigen Energy, despite the sale of its US wind and solar assets, remains loaded down with relatively high debt levels, so can’t develop projects on its own.

Pacific Hydro, the other major Australian developer, is up for sale and not in the construction market. Meridian Energy, the $5 billion New Zealand renewable energy giant, says it is not interested in investing in new wind farms in Australia as long as it is run by a government which does not like renewable energy…….

The federal government has commissioned the Clean Energy Regulator to do a regular update on the state of the market. The first one is due in April.

The industry is hopeful that this could be used as an incentive to push the industry along. But some fear – given the rhetoric from the Abbott government about renewable energy – that it could be used as an excuse to further weaken the target, despite the government’s promise not to do so before 2020.

Infigen reported a net loss of $304 million as it took a major hit from the write down of its US wind assets, which it sold to reduce its debt burden. It said wind conditions had been particularly poor in the last financial year, but were expected to improve.

September 2, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

New South Wales way behind on renewable energy

poster-renewables-rallyNSW ‘at bottom of pack’ for renewable energy; Government says it’s committed to clean projects, ABC News By state political reporter Brigid Glanville. 30 Aug 15,  It may be known as the premier state, but New South Wales is a clear under-achiever when it comes to renewable energy.

NSW has the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions in the country and does not have a renewable energy target.

In 2014 the renewable industry body, Clean Energy Council, listed New South Wales at the bottom of the states for renewable energy production. Only 6 per cent of its electricity is from wind, solar and water — compared with Tasmania, which uses 95 per cent renewables. “New South Wales is at the bottom of the pack of the Australian states when it comes to renewable energy,” Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said.

“It’s behind the pack in terms of generating renewable energy and the amount of rooftop solar on people’s roofs.”

New South Wales and the two territories remain the only jurisdictions where Solar PV panel penetration is under 10 per cent.

In South Australia, take up is almost 25 per cent.

Clean energy penetration by state

  • Tasmania 95%
  • South Australia 40%
  • Western Australia 13%
  • Victoria 10%
  • Queensland 7%
  • NSW 6%

Source: Clean Energy Council, Clean Energy Australia Report 2014

Continue reading

August 30, 2015 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Enova Energy New South Wales community organisation starts new renewable energy provider


The directors said in the prospective that the “nimble and collaborative locally based social enterprise model” used by Enova could be replicated and scaled across like-minded communities in Australia.

The share offer closes on September 25.


Northern Rivers community seeks $4m in energy IPO  August 30, 2015 Angela Macdonald-Smith A community-owned organisation in north-eastern NSW is set to take on the big guns in electricity supply through a $4 million initial public offering to fund a renewable energy retailing and solar company it hopes will stimulate local renewable energy projects across the country.

Enova Energy, chaired by consultant and former NSW state librarian Alison Crook, is aiming to capture customers in the Northern Rivers region, where retailing major Origin Energy dominates the market.

Ms Crook said Enova was not aspiring to be a major competitor of Origin but sought mainly to provide a customer for small wind farms, hydropower and bio-energy projects that were not large enough to be of any interest to major retailers as a green power provider.

“We see this as a game-changer to get community renewable energy really going in Australia,” Continue reading

August 30, 2015 Posted by | business, energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

French ACT co-operation on renewable energy for Canberra and South Australia

French diplomacy delivers renewable energy to Canberra and $250m to South Australia, ABC, SA Country Hour By James Jooste, 26 Aug 15 A joint venture between French company Neoen and the Australian Capital Territory Government will inject $250 million into the South Australian economy and deliver clean energy to the capital. Continue reading

August 29, 2015 Posted by | ACT, energy | Leave a comment


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