Australian news, and some related international items

NSW Ports boss backs offshore wind farm plant ahead of nuclear base

ABC Illawarra / By Jessica CliffordMelinda James, and Tim Fernandez 22 Feb 23

NSW Ports chief executive Marika Calfas has called for the state’s trade needs to be prioritised ahead of a nuclear base, while unveiling plans for an offshore wind farm facility at Port Kembla.

Key points:

  • The facility at Port Kembla would support windfarms on the NSW coast
  • Port Kembla is adjacent to the federal government’s proposed Illawarra offshore wind development zone
  • The project would need significant government investment to proceed.

……………………………. The ABC understands Port Kembla has been identified as the Department of Defence’s preferred site for a nuclear submarine base.

Ms Calfas said she was not aware of the deparment’s plans but said the state’s trade needs should come first.

“We would like to think everyone recognises the importance of ports,” she said.

“Particularly over the last three years with the issues which have occurred globally in terms of supply chains and how important it is that our ports can support the needs of our island nation moving forward.

The Defence Strategic Review was delivered to the government earlier this month with a report expected to be published in March.

Labor Member for Cunningham, Alison Byrnes, recently returned from a tour of a US Submarine base in Connecticut and said the location of the base will not be revealed until after community consultation.

“This process was started by the former government, so they put the three proposed sites on the table,” Ms Byrnes said.

“I have said to our Defence Minister that there needs to be, shortly after the release of the defence strategic review, a community leaders’ consultation to start talking about the way forward … to choose a site for the submarine location.”

Billion-dollar boost to economy

Offshore wind farms have been proposed for parts of the NSW coastline, including the Central Coast, Illawarra and South Coast, but do not yet have final approval.

BlueFloat is among the companies interested in establishing a wind farm off the coast of the Illawarra.

Technical project director David Delamore said the company was looking at establishing two farms about 14 kilometres offshore.

“The project we are looking at is over 100 turbines, this is a huge project it is a billion-dollar project and it needs a large work force as well,” he said.

“We need trained personnel, so we definitely need to be tapping into the local business communities and looking to establish training facilities to address any skills gaps.”

The federal government will begin consultations over the proposed offshore wind farm zones later this year.

Ms Calfas said the lack of certainty for the region makes it difficult for businesses to plan for the future.

“I think the need for clarity and the need for certainty is really important,” she said.

“The sooner we can get that, the sooner everyone can progress with their planning, the sooner everyone can progress with their investment plans and the sooner we can all start delivering on those benefits of jobs and investments.”

February 23, 2023 Posted by | New South Wales, wind | Leave a comment

Australian Capital Territory consumers reap rewards of 100 pct renewables as wind and solar farms hand back windfall profits.

The ACT is the only region of Australia’s main grid spared from sharp
increases in electricity bills, and its consumers can thank the shift to
100 per cent renewables and the structure of their deals with wind and
solar farms.

The ACT government has written contracts with 11 wind and
solar farms to provide the equivalent amount of electricity consumed by
homes and businesses in the ACT each year. The nature of these deals –
called contracts for difference (CfDs) – means that if the wholesale market
trades below the agreed strike price, the government (and consumers), top
up the difference to the wind and solar farms.

But if the wholesale prices are above the strike price – as they have been by a big distance over the
last six months – then the wind and solar farms must return these windfall
gains to ACT consumers. And in the last quarter, as wholesale prices soared
to record highs – and an average of more than $300/MWh in NSW – the wind
and solar farms paid back a total of $58 million to electricity consumers
in the ACT, shielding them from any significant bill hikes.

Renew Economy 22nd Sept 2022

September 24, 2022 Posted by | ACT, energy | Leave a comment

Clean energy builds self-reliance: Zibelman 

Clean energy builds self-reliance: Zibelman  Australia can be a superpower in clean energy tech and must embrace the opportunity, says Audrey Zibelman, now heading up the grid moonshot at Alphabet’s X

July 14, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

“Forget nuclear and simplify electrification:” The message from energy experts.

“ in Australia, because we’re blessed with the world’s best wind and solar resources, I just don’t see that nuclear will ever compete,”

in Australia, wind and solar can still outcompete new-build coal, gas and nuclear.

our future will be powered by renewables supported by energy storage,”

We need options for consumers to reduce demand and be rewarded for doing so. We need incentives to shift demand to periods of lower demand, smart meters and internet controls.”

‘Forget nuclear and simplify electrification’ is the message form Australian energy experts for next steps in decarbonisation push.

“Forget nuclear and simplify electrification:” The message from energy experts — RenewEconomy 11 July 22,

Australia has an opportunity to seize the competitive advantage in a future, decarbonised global energy system, but experts warn that governments must do more to simplify the process for households and businesses to go electric.

A research brief prepared by Australian energy experts and published by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering (ATSE) has called for an acceleration of the deployment of renewable energy, arguing the technologies needed to decarbonise Australia’s energy system are already available.

Australia has the technologies to avoid a future crisis, but we must act now to lay the foundation of a truly modern energy system,” the former head of engineering and system design at the Australian Energy Market Operator, Alex Wonhas, said at the launch of the report.

While the research report suggests that Australia will need a diversity of new energy technologies to play a role in a future decarbonised energy system, experts say there should be a greater focus on the electrification of energy use to reduce Australia’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Professor Renate Egan, the CEO of UNSW Energy Institute, says there are minimal technical barriers to the electrification of energy use. However, Australian consumers need greater policy support and more information to confidently choose electric replacements.

“I don’t think we have barriers so much as we lack information and incentives,” Egan said.

If we can have a coordinated effort around it, it should be possible to have all new homes electrified rather than having gas delivered. It would be better not to be making investments in gas infrastructure now in homes.

“There are a million pieces of small infrastructure that need to be replaced over the next ten years, and we should start right now … every decision you make from now needs to be to electrify.”

Electrification of energy use, which involves the replacement of appliances like gas stoves, hot water systems and petrol-fuelled cars replaced with electric alternatives – has been touted as a means of cutting both emissions and energy costs because they can be powered with renewable electricity.

Former Chair of Natural Hazards Research Australia, Katherine Woodthorpe, echoed the view that the natural need to replace appliances provides an opportunity to phase energy consumption away from fossil fuels through electrification.

“Every time you buy a new appliance, buy the electric version. Ditto cars and other parts of your infrastructure at home and at work,”

“Every time you make that decision, you buy electric… it’s about making those decisions on a daily basis.”

Head of the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at the Australian National University, professor Lachlan Blackhall, told the briefing policymakers should support households and businesses to make the switch to electric appliances by working to simplify the process.

“It’s important to acknowledge that householders and communities are being asked to do a very significant amount of heavy lifting to support the energy transition,” Blackhall said.

“But it can be quite complicated for them.”

“The reason we’re seeing solar being deployed at such scale is it’s now a relatively simple proposition. You walk into your friendly local solar installer, and you can buy a solar system, and we understand how to install it at scale.

“So we really need that same experience when it comes to new technologies in people’s homes,” Blackhall added.

Former managing director of Ausgrid, George Maltabarow, told the briefing that the electrification of Australia’s energy use would require system planners to manage the changing dynamics in the electricity system – but that the technology needed to do so already exists.

“The transition away from fossil fuels will require electrifying everything. The good news is we have all the technologies available. We now need the frameworks to manage the investment,” Maltabarow said.

“We need options for consumers to reduce demand and be rewarded for doing so. We need incentives to shift demand to periods of lower demand, smart meters and internet controls.”

“Now, does that mean consumers have to stand by monitors to figure out ‘what am I going to do to reduce and manage my demand?’ – The answer is no because set-and-forget software is available now. It can be tailored to the circumstances of individual households, and consumers can relax about having that available.”

Maltabarow added that while nuclear could play a role in decarbonising energy systems in a global context, it was unlikely that current technologies would be able to compete on cost.

“Certainly overseas, [nuclear] is going to be much more of a part of the solution. My own view is that in Australia, because we’re blessed with the world’s best wind and solar resources, I just don’t see that nuclear will ever compete,” Maltabarow said.

“I’m not saying that nuclear is not an appropriate decarbonisation technology. I simply can’t see it being competitive in the Australian context.”

The CSIRO released the latest iteration of its GenCost assessment, comparing the effective cost of new electricity projects in Australia, which again confirmed that firmed wind and solar can still outcompete new-build coal, gas and nuclear.

“If you look at that report, it consistently highlights that in the Australian context, nuclear will be significantly more expensive than the kind of roadmap laid out in the ISP, which largely is that our future will be powered by renewables supported by energy storage,” Blackhall added.

July 11, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Forgotten fuel: Australia’s failure on energy efficiency is a global embarrassment

In Europe, the mantra is “energy efficiency first” and the IEA calls energy efficiency the “first fuel.” In Australia, it is the “forgotten fuel” – to our great cost. The post Forgotten fuel: Australia’s failure on energy efficiency is a global embarrassment appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Forgotten fuel: Australia’s failure on energy efficiency is a global embarrassment — RenewEconomy

June 11, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison, Angus Taylor stack clean energy agencies with fossil fuel mates by Callum Foote | Apr 20, 2022,

The Morrison government has slashed renewables funding and stacked Australia’s renewable energy agencies with fossil fuel executives, leaving the likes of ARENA, CEFC and Snowy Hydro controlled by potentially regressive political appointees for years. Callum Foote reports.

Eschewing common sense and proper process has become de rigeur for Scott Morrison and his energy minister Angus Taylor. And we are not hearing more than a whimper about this from Labor either. Political Mates deals. Jobs for the boys, Jobs for the girls.

Stacking the bureaucracy occurs under regimes of both stripes but, as is their wont, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his energy minister Angus Taylor have taken their undemocratic agendas to the next level, to a grotesque art form.

They have been busy stacking public agencies, supposedly independent agencies, with their own people; not on merit but on party lines. We are of talking highly paid jobs, many between $250,000 and $500,000 going to people on the basis on political affiliations rather than ability or independence.

As if the government’s well-publicised stacking of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) were not enough evidence of blatant abuse of process, the recent spate of mining or fossil-fuel related board appointments to government-run renewable energy bodies ARENA and the CEFC, will favour the agendas, indeed the profits, of large multinational mining companies for years to come.

CEFC Board appointments

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) was created under the Gillard government, dedicated to making investments in emerging clean energy technologies. Originally, and for many years it ran a profit while presiding judiciously over the financing of RE projects.

First, the Coalition under Tony Abbott tried to have it abolished, despite it being a net earner for government – therefore no drag on the public purse. Failing there, the government has undermined its mandate and stacked it with its own ever since. 

The latest: chairman, Steven Skala, AO, has had his position renewed for another five years. 

Skala is vice chairman of Deutsche Bank Australia and has been a director of the Centre for Independent Studies, a libertarian think tank, since 1995.

While being the vice president of Deutsche Bank Australia, the bank joined JP Morgan and Standard Chartered to loan US$1 billion to Adani Enterprises in July last year.

Matt Howell has been appointed to the CEFC board for the first time, leaving his position as CEO of Tomago Aluminium.

Howell is also a director of the Australian Aluminium Council, an organisation which has been labelled the most militant of the “greenhouse mafia” organisations – as dubbed in a 2006 ABC Four Corners investigation.

The Council funded and promoted the work of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), whose “MEGABARE” economic model was, at the time, used to generate reports which were a go-to for Liberal and National Party politicians wanting to argue climate action would spell economic catastrophe.

Rod Campbell, director of research at The Australia Institute, says Howell’s recent switch to pro-renewable energy rhetoric shows he is ”more than willing to play games in the energy space rather than really be involved in constructive long-term planning”.

ARENA Board appointments

Elizabeth O’Leary, a senior director at Macquarie Asset Management and head of MAM Agriculture & Natural Assets, one of the world’s largest private land managers, has been appointed to the board of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

O’Leary joins a long list of Macquarie Bank Alumni working for Australian clean energy financial bodies as revealed by a MWM investigation.

A consortium comprising private equity funds managed by the tax avoiding Brookfield Asset Management and Macquarie Capital acquired Apache Corporation’s Western Australian oil and gas assets for $US2.1 billion in 2019. This created Australia’s third largest oil and gas producer.

Snowy Hydro Board appointments

Snowy Hydro, which has become the government’s tool to intervene in the energy market – check out the highly questionable public subsidies for the Kurri Kurri gas plant – has appointed two new board members. These are Leanne Heywood who spent 10 years as an executive with Rio Tinto.

Timothy Longstaff was the government’s other pick for the role. Longstaff has previously been a director of Perenti, a Perth-based global mining services contractor.

Longstaff was also a senior advisor to the Finance Minister Simon Birmingham as recently as 2021. Birmingham is the minister who announced Longstaff’s appointment. Jobs for the boys, anyone?

Reduction in renewables funding:

The Climate Debt Statement, a measure introduced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott aggregates funding for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) to work out how much their expenditure contributes to total government debt. It shows a decline in spending from $2 billion in 2022-23 to $1.3 billion in 2025-26.

Angus Taylor attempting to co-opt CEFC

A previous attempt to amend the CEFC’s legislation was abandoned earlier this year, after a group of Nationals MPs – including current leader Barnaby Joyce – sought to move additional amendments to expand the agency’s investments into coal and nuclear projects.

The Morrison government had attempted to open up the CEFC to carbon capture and storage projects, announcing a plan to establish a new Low Emissions Technology Commercialisation Fund using the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

This was designed to skirt around the CEFC’s legislated ban on funding CCS projects.

Despite the government’s ten-year jihad on renewable energy, there is no stopping financial logic, or common sense for that matter. RE prices have dropped radically over the decade, even more than the sector’s advocates and analysts had anticipated. That is, the cost of building new renewable energy versus the cost of building new coal or gas.

Where government has failed, miserably, investors have taken up the slack, leaving our politicians in the dust trying to prop up their fossil fuel donors with public money. This, even to the point of espousing ludicrous schemes which do not measure up financially: Kurri Kurri, the examination of a new coal-fired power plant for Queensland, the public subsidies for gas companies to frack the NT’s Beetaloo Basin.

April 21, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

The past decade has seen stunning change. The next 10 years will be breathtaking

the share of renewables in January, 2022, in Australia’s main grid is 34.4 per cent. Wind and solar alone account for 28 per cent. Solar accounted for 12.6 per cent of generation over the last 12 months, and will now likely deliver half of all generation by 2050 – not three per cent.

That 1.5°C is the only target that really matters. The federal Coalition government insists we need new technology to get us there. But nearly all the tools we will need are already at our disposal. The only thing missing, at least at the federal level, is leadership. And in a few months’ time, at the next federal election, there will be an opportunity to get that right.

The past decade has seen stunning change. The next 10 years will be breathtaking, Giles Parkinson 30 January 2022.

They said it couldn’t be done. There was no way Australia could reach 20 per cent renewables by 2020, we were told. And yet we did. And then we were told there was too much wind and solar. Now it is clear there is not nearly enough.

It is now exactly a decade since the RenewEconomy website appeared and published its first articles. Australia, at the time, was yet to build its first large-scale solar farm; the carbon price had not yet been put in place, the finishing touches were being put on a re-booted renewable energy target and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and geothermal and solar thermal were supposed to be the next big thing.

At the time, the transition to a grid dominated by wind and solar appeared as some sort of flight of fancy.

Sure, some utilities like Origin spent tens of millions on solar and geothermal technologies, before throwing billions into LNG. The then chief executive of AGL, Michael Fraser, used to indulge our questions with responses such as “seeing it’s you guys, I guess we better talk about solar.” A few months later, AGL spent billions becoming the biggest generator of coal in the country and the biggest emitter. It is still trying to find a way out of that mess.

But there was no doubt that many legacy utilities could already see what was coming and how much was at stake. The small amounts of rooftop solar in the grid were already pointing to a future of deep duck curves and negative prices, and the incumbents used their regulatory and political influence to fight furiously against any moves to encourage rooftop solar or energy efficiency. Some of them still are.

Big business didn’t want the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to intervene in the market, because they wanted new technologies to be kept in the lab. Some still do. The coal lobby was arguing that it shouldn’t be expected to invest in carbon capture and storage because it was clearly not commercial, and wouldn’t be for another couple of decades. It’s too late for coal, but now the gas and oil industry are trotting out a similar argument.

In the month that RenewEconomy first published, with a team of just two (myself and still deputy editor Sophie Vorrath), there was a negligible amount of renewables in the grid – an average of 4.6 per cent over the month of January, 2012. Most of it was hydro. The official forecasts were equally dismissive – a federal government white paper predicted that solar, might, at best deliver 3 per cent of generation by 2050, or one per cent by 2030.

RenewEconomy, even in those early days, sensed that the transition might go a lot quicker than that. Firstly, because it needed to, secondly because it was clear it would be supported by great licks of capital, and thirdly  because learning curves pointed to a future of low cost renewables.

Fast forward a decade and the share of renewables in January, 2022, in Australia’s main grid is 34.4 per cent. Wind and solar alone account for 28 per cent. Solar accounted for 12.6 per cent of generation over the last 12 months, and will now likely deliver half of all generation by 2050 – not three per cent.

That transition has brought extraordinary change. Coal fired power stations, if they couldn’t before, now see the writing on the wall and are preparing for closure, although they are still using their regulatory and political clout to make the case for one more major handout as the transition accelerates around them.

South Australia, thanks to its good resources and a government that made it clear it would welcome investment in renewables, leads the way with the a world-topping 62.5 per cent share for wind and solar (as a percentage of local demand) in the last 12 months.

South Australia has already delivered a week long period where wind and solar delivered more than local demand, and it is expected to reach “net 100 per cent” renewables (calculated over a year), well ahead of the official state target of 2030.

Remarkably, that net 100 per cent renewables will come from wind and solar only. It will be an extraordinary achievement and the knowledge gained from operating such a system will set a blueprint for the world to follow.

Yes, it will rely on storage, demand management, links to other states for exports and some imports, and some fossil fuel generation in wind and solar droughts, but having a gigawatt-scale grid in a modern economy meet the equivalent of 100 per cent of its demand over a year will be extraordinary.

And as stunning as the last decade has been, the next decade could be breathtaking because the market is now looking at green exports, in the form of electricity and hydrogen and ammonia, and green manufacturing, which can all focus their demand on when the sun shines and the wind blows. As the big utilities now admit, you can say goodbye to “baseload”.

As we look to the next decade, it is clear that coal generation may have disappeared from NSW by 2032, and fossil fuel cars will make up only a tiny fraction of new vehicle purchases. The share of renewables in the grid will be well above 80 per cent and could be heading towards 100 per cent.

Just to be clear on that point, the Australian Energy Market Operator expects the share of renewables to be around 80 per cent by 2030 according to what the overall industry considers to be the new “most likely” scenario, known as “step change.”

Crucially, mainstream politics is embracing it. Labor’s emissions targets, still well short of what’s needed for 1.5°C, assume an 82 per cent share of renewables in the main grid by 2030. Even the federal Coalition is dialing in a 69 per cent share of renewables in its woefully inadequate emissions targets.

Australian billionaires such as Andrew Forrest and Mike Cannon-Brookes have already helped change the public discourse on the green energy transition, and if their bold plans – and those of others – come true, Australia will be an exporter of green hydrogen, green ammonia, green electricity, and green materials in the form of steel and other manufactured products.

Continue reading

February 1, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, media | Leave a comment

Australia continues to lead the world for solar installations.

Rooftop solar took a hit in 2021 with the industry growing a third less than expected thanks to lockdowns and supply chain disruptions, despite still showing strong growth overall. More than 3m households and small businesses across the country now have solar panel systems installed, with the milestone reached in November. According to registration data provided by solar consultancy company SunWiz, 3.24GW of new solar capacity was added across the country last year, representing 10% growth on the previous year.

These figures include small rooftop systems of less than 100MW registered by homeowners and small businesses, and do not include large, industrial-scale solar installations. Queensland now has the most installed capacity, with 4,483MW, closely followed by New South Wales (4,256MW) and Victoria (3,839MW). Australia continues to lead the world for solar installations with a total installed capacity of just under 17GW.

 Guardian 19th Jan 2022

January 20, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Batteries Also Make Nuclear Uneconomic

Australian Submarines May Go Nuclear But Our Power Stations Never Will,   SOLARQUOTES, October 11, 2021 by Ronald Brakels 

  • ”………………………………………..Batteries Also Make Nuclear Uneconomic. As solar and wind generation increases, the worse the economics of nuclear energy become.  This is because its low cost pushes down wholesale electricity prices.  There can be periods of high electricity prices when renewable output isn’t sufficient to meet demand, but this isn’t enough to make nuclear pay.  Nuclear wouldn’t pay if there were no such thing as battery storage, but battery storage makes its economics worse. 
  • Next year a 580 megawatt-hour battery will be built in Victoria for $270 to $300 million.  That’s around $500 per kilowatt-hour.  If each kilowatt-hour of storage capacity provides a total of 4,000 kilowatt-hours of stored energy over its lifetime — a not unreasonable amount — then the cost of storage will be around 13 cents per kilowatt-hour.
  •  That’s not cheap, but still a lot cheaper than nuclear energy, especially since we will often charge it with renewable electricity that costs 1 cent or less per kilowatt-hour.  It also has the advantage it will supply electricity when prices are high, rather than more or less continuously, as is usually the case for nuclear power.    
  • There’s no reason to expect the cost of utility-scale battery storage to stop falling anytime soon, so by the time a nuclear power station could be completed in Australia, its economics will be far worse from falling energy storage costs alone. ………

October 14, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, storage | Leave a comment

Morrison government moves to strengthen secrecy around energy ministers meetings

Details of key energy policy decisions could remain secret, as the Morrison government moves to protect National Cabinet deliberations from transparency laws. The post Morrison government moves to strengthen secrecy around energy ministers meetings appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Morrison government moves to strengthen secrecy around energy ministers meetings — RenewEconomy Michael Mazengarb 2 September 2021 The Morrison government has moved to strengthen the level of secrecy around the proceedings of National Cabinet – including the meetings of energy ministers – proposing new legislative amendments that will ensure the National Cabinet is exempt from a range of transparency measures, including freedom of information laws.

The move will extend to the ‘sub-committees’ of the National Cabinet, including the Energy National Cabinet Reform Committee chaired by federal energy minister Angus Taylor.

The new legislation, which will define the National Cabinet as a committee of the federal cabinet under a range of transparency laws, including the Freedom of Information Act, is designed to ensure the National Cabinet is protected from public disclosure obligations.

The legislation comes as a response to a landmark ruling of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on a freedom of information request lodged by independent senator Rex Patrick, which ruled the National Cabinet was not covered by freedom of information exceptions, and documents relating to National Cabinet meetings should be disclosed publicly.

But the Morrison government has sought to effectively overturn this decision through the legislative amendments, ensuring the proceedings of National Cabinet, and its sub-committees, remain secret.

“Like the Commonwealth cabinet and its committees, all proceedings and documentation of the National Cabinet and its committees are confidential,” federal education minister Alan Tudge said when presenting the legislation.

In response, Patrick described prime minister Scott Morrison as a ‘sore loser’.

“Having acted outside and contrary to the law with regard to National Cabinet secrecy, the Prime Minister now wants to change the law,” Patrick said.

“He’s a sore loser who does not accept long-established conventions of Cabinet responsibility and democratic accountability. He hates scrutiny and is allergic to transparency.”

The creation of the Nation Cabinet came at the same time as the abolition of the COAG system, including the COAG Energy Council meeting of energy ministers. The change has allowed the Morrison government to take greater control of the National Cabinet process – and in the case of energy reforms – as meant that little detail of what is discussed amongst energy ministers is known publicly.

While state and territory ministers often publicly vented their frustration about the lack of national action on climate and energy policy around meetings of the former COAG Energy Council, the new National Cabinet regime means ministers are bound by cabinet confidentiality rules and have since been largely mute about any dissatisfaction they may harbour about the proceedings of the new committee.

The Energy National Cabinet Reform Committee has taken oversight for the work of the Energy Security Board. Its secrecy requirements have resulted in key information about energy market reforms being proposed by the Energy Security Board being withheld from the broader energy market for weeks after reform recommendations were delivered to ministers.

Much of the energy market was reliant on leaked information as their main source of knowledge about the Energy Security Board’s post-2025 re-design of the National Electricity Market – which will amount to the most significant shake-up of the market’s design since its formation.

The control that Taylor wields over the energy committee also meant that the first official public release of information about landmark energy market reforms was first released to news outlet

sympathetic to the Morrison government before it was released to the wider public.

The added protections being sought by the Morrison government will further prevent the release of information about meetings of the Energy National Cabinet Reform Committee – with the public left in the dark about even the agendas of meetings.

RenewEconomy has sought access to documents relating to meetings of the Energy National Cabinet Reform Committee on several occasions – as well as a wide range of documents relating to other government decisions through freedom of information laws, but access has been denied in most cases.

A recent review of freedom of information requests completed by the Grata Fund found that the Morrison government has often unlawfully blocked access to documents, undermining laws intended to support public transparency and accountability of government decisions.

The latest legislation looks set to be opposed by both Labor and the Greens. The Morrison government will likely be reliant on One Nation senators to pass the laws through the senate.

September 2, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, legal, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Australia’s national energy market can be supplied by 100% renewable energy by 2025

AEMO forecasts rooftop solar would continue its boom and by 2026 would on its own supply 77 per cent of the demand in the National Electricity Market during the day.

Australia’s energy transition really does continue at pace and now our base case forecast by 2025 is the national electricity market can be supplied by 100 per cent renewable energy,

Electricity grid powers on despite demise of coal as renewables surge, By Mike Foley and Nick Toscano, August 31, 2021  Australia’s power grid is set up to cope with coal’s continued decline over the next decade, the market operator has declared, even as a flood of cheap electricity from solar and wind farms undercuts traditional power plants’ profits.

Fossil fuel-based generators have been under financial pressure over the past year as renewables drive down daytime power prices to levels where coal and gas struggle to compete. South Australia’s Torrens Island B gas plant is set to mothball one unit next month, Victoria’s Yallourn Power Station is set to shut four years early in 2028, and one unit at NSW’s Eraring Power Station will shut in 2030.

State and federal governments are working on plans to cope with the danger of more early power plant closures amid concerns sudden exits could disrupt electricity supply.

However, the influx of wind and solar power, coupled with the boom in rooftop solar and investment in new transmission lines, is expected to fill the void because it will be backed by investment in dispatchable power projects – providing on-demand energy from new gas, batteries or pumped hydropower

Over the next five years we’ve got sufficient supply to meet the required reliability standards,” the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) chief executive Daniel Westerman said, noting that power projects in the pipeline were progressing well. “In the subsequent five years we are confident about the anticipated generation and storage projects as well.”

AEMO forecasts rooftop solar would continue its boom and by 2026 would on its own supply 77 per cent of the demand in the National Electricity Market during the day.

However, rooftop solar is drastically reducing daytime demand, and its cheap cost of supply is eating into the business cases for traditional power plants.

That means large-scale power generation, which is still essential to satisfy peak demand when the sun isn’t high in the sky, has less money-making potential.

“Australia’s love of rooftop solar is going as strong as ever, so the minimum operational demand is likely to cause us the biggest challenges by 2025,” Mr Westerman said.
“Without additional operational tools, we may no longer be able to operate the (electricity market) securely in all periods from 2025 due to a lack of security services when demand from the grid is so low.”

reform being investigated by state and federal governments may help address this, Mr Westerman said. Under the proposal for a “capacity mechanism”, retailers would pay generators to guarantee future supply by remaining in the grid or investing in new assets.

Green Energy Markets analyst Tristan Edis said state and federal governments “have funded the construction or made very firm promises to construct a huge pipeline of thousands of megawatts of dispatchable capacity as well as transmission projects that should mean we will have plentiful supplies of dispatchable capacity to maintain reliability as coal generators exit”.

AEMO’s latest upgrade has also lifted its expectations for renewables penetration into the grid. In June Mr Westerman said it was a “goal” for the grid, usually powered by about 70 per cent coal, to be able to handle an influx of 100 per cent renewable power at certain times.

Australia’s energy transition really does continue at pace and now our base case forecast by 2025 is the national electricity market can be supplied by 100 per cent renewable energy,” he said.

August 31, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Australia’s carbon emissions down 20% due to wide take-up of renewable energy

 Telegraph UK, 29th July 2021, For Australia’s part, our experience with technology-orientated pathways
gives us confidence that with the right investments and partnerships, a prosperous net-zero world is well within our reach.

On the ground, our real-world rollout of renewables has made clear to Australian firms and families the immense benefits of investing in clean technology. Because of their embrace of our new energy future, Australia’s emissions are down over 20 per cent on 2005 levels and green technology continues to be taken
up at record levels right across our nation.

July 31, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy | Leave a comment

Lowy Institute polling shows that 91% of Australians want the federal government to support renewable energy development            Looking at a range of possible federal government policies, almost all Australians (91%) say they would support the federal government ‘providing subsidies for the development of renewable energy technology’. This aligns with Lowy Institute polling in 2018 in which 84% of Australians said the government should focus on renewables rather than traditional energy sources
.ight in ten Australians (78%) support ‘setting a net-zero emissions target for 2050’, suggesting they seek a firmer commitment from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has said that Australia’s “goal is to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible, and preferably by 2050”.
Seven in ten Australians (77%) support providing subsidies for the purchase of electric vehicles. A sizeable majority of Australians (64%) support introducing an emissions trading scheme or a carbon tax. These views have shifted significantly in the past five years. In 2016, in response to a differently-worded question in the Lowy Institute Poll, only 40% said they would prefer the government to introduce an emissions trading scheme or price on carbon.

ustralian views of coal exports and coal mines also appear to have shifted significantly in recent years. Six in ten Australians (63%) support a ban on new coal mines opening in Australia. The same proportion of the population (63%) say they support reducing Australian coal exports to other countries, in an apparent shift from five years ago when a majority (66%) said Australia should continue to export coal. In 2021, only three in ten Australians (30%) say they support the federal government providing subsidies for building new coal-fired power plants.

On a number of these policies, there is a significant gap between support from younger and older Australians. For example, 72% of Australians aged 18–44 years old support banning new coal mines, compared to 55% of Australians aged over 45. Similarly, 71% of respondents aged 18–44 support imposing a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme, compared to 57% of Australians over 4

The federal government’s promotion of a ‘gas-fired recovery’ for Australia’s economy appears to have general support, with 58% in favour of Australia increasing the use of gas for energy generation.

Australians are split over the question of nuclear power, which has been prohibited in Australia since 1998. Almost half the population (47%) would support removing the existing ban on nuclear power, but the same number (51%) are opposed to that measure.

June 24, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

New South Wales Productivity Commission slammed for recommending nuclear power while ignoring offshore wind,

NSW Productivity Commission slammed for recommending nuclear power while ignoring offshore wind,
Maritime Union of Australia

The NSW Productivity Commission is under fire for recommending the NSW Government lift the state’s ban on nuclear power while ignoring proven, lower-cost renewable energy sources such as offshore wind.

Among 60 recommendations aimed at driving productivity and economic growth, the NSW Productivity Commission White Paper released this week proposed the ban on nuclear generation be lifted for small modular reactors.The same report made no mention of offshore wind generation, despite the proven technology producing a growing share of electricity around the world and several major proposals awaiting approval off the NSW coast.

This is despite the CSIRO’s most recent report on electricity generation costs showing that SMR nuclear reactors cost approximately $16,000 per kilowatt, nearly three times offshore wind. Recent UK analysis has found the cost of developing offshore wind is even lower.

The Maritime Union of Australia said it was staggering that the NSW Productivity Commission would recommend resources be thrown into small modular nuclear reactors — a technology that doesn’t yet exist — instead of cheaper, cleaner, proven technologies like offshore wind.“It is unbelievable that the NSW Productivity Commission would propose a major regulatory overhaul for a theoretical technology that doesn’t operate anywhere on earth, yet not even mention one of the fastest growing forms of energy generation,” MUA Deputy National Secretary Warren Smith said.

Rather than waste years debating a theoretical technology, which will come with huge costs and substantial safety concerns, the NSW Government should be getting on with supporting the development of reliable, cheap, and plentiful offshore wind resources.“The NSW Productivity Commission’s focus on an industry that doesn’t even exist, while ignoring a proven technology that can deliver power and jobs for NSW right now, shows an ideological pro-nuclear agenda has been put ahead of the state’s economic interests.“Small nuclear reactors have been promised for half a century, but as yet not one exists. Most countries with nuclear power are moving away from the technology, with new reactors running hugely over budget, requiring massive taxpayer subsidies, and locking in higher power prices for consumers.“In contrast, offshore wind technology continues to mature, delivering massive growth at ever-lower prices.

“Australia has the advantage of long coastlines close to population centres, along with highly skilled seafarers and offshore oil and gas workers who could be utilised to construct local wind projects.“The development of an offshore wind industry would also provide an opportunity to transition highly-skilled workers from fossil fuel industries into a clean, green alternative.“With the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions to address global heating, it’s absurd that the NSW Productivity Commission would suggest sitting on our hands for a decade in the hope a theoretical technology will magically fix the problem when we already have solutions available.“NSW has an opportunity to become a major exporter of clean, renewable energy, securing our economy for the future, but only if the Berejiklian Government takes immediate steps to support proven technologies.”

June 5, 2021 Posted by | business, energy, New South Wales, technology | Leave a comment

National Farmers Federation want govt to support renewable energy (not coal or nuclear)

Guardian 23rd Feb 2021, Renewable energy zones must be “at the centre of any regionalisation agenda”, the National Farmers’ Federation has said. In a policy paper
released on Tuesday, the NFF makes the call for renewable energy to be part
of new investment to address the $3.8bn annual shortfall in infrastructure
in regional Australia. The paper, which makes no mention of coal or nuclear
energy supporting jobs in the regions, comes as the Nationals push for the
Clean Energy Finance Corporation to invest in those technologies.

February 25, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment