Australian news, and some related international items

Renewable energy news 17 July

This government needs to get its head around renewables
Peter FitzSimons

Bonanza tipped from clean power plan
Mark Bailey
QUEENSLAND has seen a clean energy boom, with unprecedented levels of renewable energy investment. And it’s about to pay off.

Western Australia
Energy-saving hobbit house in WA’s South West
A man from the small West Australian town of Quindalup lives in a home covered by almost 1,000 tonnes of dirt and is proud to refer to himself as a modern-day hobbit.

July 17, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency, energy | Leave a comment

Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) goes for smarter ways to deal with electricity supply and demand

The demand response proposal signals greater co-operation between AEMO and ARENA, particularly on the integration of renewables. A trial using wind energy to provide frequency control is to be held in South Australia next month.

AEMO looks at smarter ways to deal with extreme peaks and heatwaves By Giles Parkinson on 19 May 2017 The new direction of a rejuvenated Australian Energy Market Operator is starting to take shape, with the organisation announcing plans to have 100MW of demand response capacity in the Victorian and South Australian markets in time for the summer peaks and heatwaves.

The program, being run jointly with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, signals a tangible change in focus for AEMO, and the market in general, in finding smarter ways to manage supply and demand rather than simply building more fossil fuel plants and poles and wires.

AEMO’s new CEO Audrey Zibelman is already a champion of demand response and it was one of the major levers that she pulled when running New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision program that aims for more decentralised power, and 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

In the PJM market, one of the biggest in the US, demand response accounts for 10 per cent of total capacity, and Zibelman sees no reason why it cannot grow to be at least 30 per cent of the Australian market.

That’s because Australia has a ready-made investment in the technologies that are needed. More than 1.6 million homes and businesses have installed rooftop solar, and many of these will install battery storage as well.

“If you have solar on your roof and you are putting in storage, it is saying that during certain hours of the day you use solar to charge up the battery, and then, rather than relying on grid, you reduce demand on the grid. For us (the grid operator) that’s the same as increasing generation.”

Zibelman says it is an obvious solution to provide a price signal to use these resources, as well as rewarding others – such as manufacturers and large businesses – for cutting back on their power usage at critical moments, rather than spending more money on new plant.

“If we can reduce the amount of demand, that has the same benefit as the grid, and is a lot less expensive than building a new power plant that is only used for a few hours a year,” she says. Continue reading

May 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment

Tasmania’s energy efficiency loans scheme now open

Tasmanian households and small businesses can increase their energy efficiency through a new no-interest loan scheme, BLAIR RICHARDS, State Political Editor, Mercury

May 3, 2017 Posted by | efficiency, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Success of Australia’s Clean Energy Program

Clean energy grant companies see profits climb, says Department of Industry chief economist, The Age,  Eryk Bagshaw, 26 Mar 17,  “……..a new report from the Department of Industry’s Office of the Chief Economist has found the $1.2 billion Clean Technology Program saw not only gains for Coca Cola, but 547 other projects across Australia, with a 10 per cent reduction in manufacturing emissions.

“Both employment and turnover among these firms grew about 25 per cent faster than similar firms without Clean Tech grants,” the report’s author economist Sasan Bakhtiari found. “Exports grew about 50 per cent faster, but only for those Clean Tech firms already exporting.”

In Gunnedah the local leather processing site replaced lighting, compressed air and water heating systems to reduce the carbon emissions intensity of the facility by 13 per cent and save $95,000 in energy costs per year, while new trout smoking equipment at the Snowy Mountain Trout Farm in Blowering Dam reduced carbon emissions by 84 per cent and banked yearly savings of $3000 in energy costs.

“The majority of grants went to fully Australian-owned firms,” said Dr Bakhtiari. “The program seems to have offered a lifeline to firms that [were performing badly] that eventually enabled them to turn around and start growing jobs. ……

March 27, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment

Victoria – a world leader in energy efficiency

New case study shows how the Australian state is supporting businesses on energy and materials efficiency  by Virginia Bagnoli 
24 January 2017 LONDON: The Climate Group has published a new case study, showing how the Australian state of Victoria is engaging small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to support them in improving energy and materials efficiency.

The new study demonstrates how SMEs can significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while substantially improving energy efficiency by applying sustainable resource management and energy efficient production processes.

The state of Victoria identified these gaps and designed a new program tailored to SMEs to help them change inefficient practices, save money and increase productivity through energy and materials efficiency measures.


SMEs have historically been difficult to reach and engage with on environmental programs due to company priorities and a traditional focus on shorter-term business requirements. Victoria understood that the program needed to align with fundamental business needs and provide multiple points of entry to make participation accessible.

Victoria’s program is also being viewed as particularly innovative due to its multi-faceted approach to addressing the challenges of information, understanding the business case and accessing capital. This approach was delivered by assessing and understanding the barriers for SMEs, communicating effectively to channel the multiple benefits associated with energy and materials savings, and leveraging existing policies and programs.

The program components targeted businesses at different stages of ‘readiness’ – ranging from businesses at an exploratory stage wanting to determine how they could benefit from energy and/or materials efficiency, through to businesses ready to implement specific projects.

Eligible businesses could apply for a grant to partly cover the cost of a materials efficiency or energy efficiency assessment. A competitive, merit‑based application process provided three rounds of grants of up to A$50,000 to support businesses in managing the costs of implementing materials efficiency projects. Grants of up to A$25,000 were available for energy efficiency projects (with businesses contributing at least half the cost of the project).


The program ran from 2012 to 2016 and since its launch it has achieved tangible results: three rounds of grants over the past two years have provided A$3.8 million in funding to over 140 projects and these businesses are expected to save a combined A$4.74 million a year.

Recruiting businesses to the program was the greatest challenge encountered. According to the Victorian government, SMEs typically have little time to devote to what is not seen as a strategic priority for them. The key solution to this has been to convince businesses that energy and materials efficiency will help with business-critical issues and to provide financial support in order to create efficiency change and transform business performance.

Through the program, Victoria has implemented an effective method of approaching businesses and making the program attractive to them; a considerable challenge giving that materials efficiency in particular is a new concept to most businesses and service providers.

Using what was learned from the program, Victoria also recently embarked on a new initiative for SMEs, SV Business – Boosting Productivity, which will work with an additional 1,000 SMEs.

Download the Victoria case study here and find all the Policy Innovation program case studies here.

The Climate Group supports state and regional governments in developing effective climate change and clean energy policies through its Policy Innovation program. State and regional governments around the world are developing a new generation of innovative climate and energy policies and our Policy Innovation program showcases and explores these emerging models, working closely with governments for them to scale globally.


January 25, 2017 Posted by | efficiency, Victoria | Leave a comment

Carbon neutral plan for Adelaide transport would supply 20,000 jobs

climate-change20,000 jobs tipped if Adelaide spends big on tram network, plug-in hybrid cars to be carbon-neutral city  September 2, 2016 A RADICAL plan to make Adelaide the world’s first carbon-neutral city could create more than 20,000 jobs, a State Government-commissioned report says.Engineering company Siemens has presented a range of options that could help Adelaide reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2025, including heavy investment in public transport to reduce private car use.

The report, released on Friday, says spending $4.9 billion on public transport infrastructure, including six new tram lines, could create 21,000 full-time equivalent jobs and reduce car use as a share of annual passenger kilometres by 20 per cent.

A less expensive option would be to create incentives for more drivers to use low-emission vehicles, including plug-in hybrid cars.

A $1.4 billion outlay would create 5600 full-time equivalent jobs but would provide a greater return on investment, reducing Adelaide’s transport-related emissions by up to 47 per cent.

“From a 50-50 split in 2015, emissions in the building sector will drop to 33 per cent, with 67 per cent of emissions accruing from transportation,” the report says. “The city will increasingly need to tackle its transport emissions to meet its targets.”

Incentives to encourage greater use of electric cars could include free public parking, exemptions from one-off purchase fees and the freedom to use dedicated bus lanes, all of which have been implemented in Norway. Electric car owners could also receive grants and streamlined permits to install their own charging stations or a reimbursement of energy recharging costs.

Premier Jay Weatherill said the report would add to the debate on ways to reduce emissions, adding that previous efforts to green the state had not constrained economic growth. “We’ve demonstrated that you can cut your emissions and at the same time grow your economy,” he told a Committee for Economic Development of Australia briefing. “These two things are not mutually exclusive.”

September 3, 2016 Posted by | efficiency, South Australia | Leave a comment

Cut price loans by NAB for solar and energy efficiency program s

piggy-ban-renewablesNAB to offer discounted energy efficiency, solar loans, Climate Spectator JOHN CONROY  9 JUN, The National Australia Bank will offer cut-price equipment loans to small and medium-sized businesses investing in energy efficiency and renewable power equipment as part of a $120m funding program backed by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

The agreement to fund energy-saving equipment or renewables generation will see NAB offer a rate 70 basis points below its standard equipment finance rate.

Finance will be offered through NAB, and will be across a diverse range of pre-approved assets including cars, irrigation systems, solar PV, building upgrades, lighting upgrades, processing line improvements and refrigeration……..

June 10, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, efficiency, solar | Leave a comment

Clean Energy Finance Corporation helping irrigators to buy renewable energy

Aust-sunFunding for irrigators to buy renewable energy made available through Clean Energy Finance Corporation ABC Rural  By Sarina Locke , 29 May 15 Irrigators, furious with power price rises, are pushing hard to install renewable energy on their farms.

To date the financial backing from banks has been largely missing.

Now the Government backed Clean Energy Finance Corporation is poised to announce a partnership with a major bank, to help irrigators invest in more efficient energy. It is just the tip of renewable energy projects in agriculture, worth $3 billion that will need financial assistance from the Corporation in future……..

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is responding. It has a program with the Commonwealth Bank, called the energy efficient loan for mid-sized companies, available nationwide. It offers small loans of $100,000 up to $5 million plus.

But the CEFC is poised to rollout more programs with other banks offering a similar product for irrigators. Continue reading

May 30, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency, energy | Leave a comment

Griffith University’s promising battery energy storage system


According to the research from Griffith’s School of Engineering and published in the journal Applied Energy, a forecast-based, three-phase battery energy storage scheduling and operation system provides benefits such as reduced peak demand, more efficient load balancing and better management of supply from solar photovoltaics (PV).

Researcher Mr Chris Bennett, working under the supervision of Associate Professor Rodney Stewart and Professor Jun Wei Lu, has developed and applied an intelligent scheduling system to a South-East Queensland-based LV distribution network servicing 128 residential customers.

“The low voltage network is a typical suburb of a few hundred homes where there is a single area transformer and recently there has been a substantial increase in the number of homes with installed residential solar PV in these settings,” says Mr Bennett.

“Daily peak demand in residential networks typically occurs in the evenings in summer and both late morning and evening in winter. But because solar PV generation is dependent on incoming solar radiation, peak generation occurs during the middle of the day, typically when demand in the residential distribution network is low.”

“This means there is an incongruity between when energy is generated and when it is required, which can lead to power supply and quality issues.

“However, with a battery energy storage (BES) system comprising Lithium Ion battery banks coupled with smart power control systems, such as STATCOMS, and featuring embedded intelligent forecasting software, we can better manage the LV network.”……..


April 4, 2015 Posted by | efficiency, Queensland, solar | 1 Comment

Victoria’s govt joins Abbott’s war on green energy schemes – to axe Energy Efficiency Target

energy-efficiency-manVictorian Energy Efficiency Target Threatened 18 March 14 The war on green schemes relating to energy is continuing – the latest victim could be the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target  (VEET).

The VEET scheme is designed to make energy efficiency improvements more affordable. It commenced on 1 January 2009 and was legislated to continue in three-year phases until 1 January 2030.

However, it may meet a very premature end. On Sunday, the Herald Sun published a story on a “secret government report” into the scheme that recommended it be abolished and replaced by 2015. Among the reasons reportedly stated is the scheme has been labeled inefficient and a burden to other electricity users.

The Clean Energy Council says claims axing the scheme would provide substantial power bill relief are wrong; as is the conclusion it is ineffective. “The program is getting through to those that need it most and previous studies have shown that it is working well at a low cost,” said Clean Energy Council Chief Executive David Green.

“Two out of every five households in the program have below-average incomes and a third are on some form of welfare.”

Among the products covered under the scheme are selected solar hot water systems and heat pumps. Water heating represents one of the most greenhouse gas and energy intensive activities in a household. This is particularly so in Victoria given much of the state’s electricity generation is through the burning of brown coal – one of the filthiest fossil fuels.

Mr Green said the ‘secret’ modelling released to select media outlets should be fully released for public scrutiny and is confident that scrutiny will reveal VEET is continuing to deliver, both in terms of household savings and the economic activity it creates.
According to the Clean Energy Council, VEET  has slashed energy costs for approximately 1.3 million households and businesses; plus has supported thousands of jobs in Victoria’s economy.

March 18, 2014 Posted by | efficiency, Victoria | Leave a comment

Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) Scheme saved Victoria from power blackouts

energy-efficiency-manMixed Greens: Climate youth want 100% renewables in 10 years, REneweconomy, By Sophie Vorrath on 10 February 2014″……Power outages, sparked by the periods of extreme heat that have characterised Victoria’s 2013-14 summer, would have been much more common but for the contributions of energy efficiency, a new report has found. The report, released today by the Energy Efficiency Certificate Creators Association (EECCA), found that the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) Scheme helped reduce peak demand by 187MM over the January heat wave. “Without the contribution from the VEET, the demand at 4pm on 16th January would have been 10,427 MW exceeding the previous electricity peak of 10,415 MW on 29 January 2009 in the lead up to the Black Saturday bushfires,” the report says. As well as saving over $500 million in the reduction of Victorian household and business energy bills, the report says the energy efficiency scheme reduced stress on infrastructure during the hot spell and likely reduced the prevalence of system black outs. Continue reading

February 12, 2014 Posted by | efficiency, Victoria | Leave a comment

Reducing carbon emissions by Zero Carbon building

Beyond Zero Emissions has estimated that implementing its Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan could reduce Australia’s emissions by more than 15 per cent, or 90 megatons of CO2-equivalent.

Casting away carbon, street by street   14 Jan, Climate Spectator, Australia’s homes are among the largest and most inefficient in the developed world. Then we wonder why our household energy bills and carbon emissions are so high.

There are, also, few ways we get feedback regarding our household energy consumption meaning we are mostly ‘driving blind’ when it comes to energy use and emissions from our homes – we get a bill at the end of the month or end of the quarter, far past the time the energy was actually consumed. The lack of instantaneous feedback makes it difficult to correlate our energy consumption to a particular event.

An inefficient home is also uncomfortable, it is draughty, damp, too hot in summer and too cold in winter. Live in North America or Europe and you will know what an energy efficient and low emissions home is like, and the opportunities that exist for energy efficient homes in Australia.

Our homes are a ripe area for direct action, with real benefits for the climate, our comfort levels and for our hip pockets. Continue reading

January 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment

Australian government urged to act on energy efficiency – Australian Council of Social Service

energy-efficiencyAustralian social service council urges government action on energy efficiency Renewable Energy Magazine 30 Aug 13   The Australian Council of Social Service is calling for urgent government action on affordable energy for low income households according to a new report.

The report, entitled Energy Efficiency and People on Low Incomes, identifies measures to empower households to become active participants in controlling their energy use as well as becoming more involved in the energy market and reducing energy costs.  

“Energy efficiency should be a key policy response to address the impacts of rising energy prices, yet we’ve heard little mention of it in the current political debates about cost of living pressures and energy affordability” said Andrea Pape, ACOSS Senior Policy Officer. “ACOSS advocates an energy efficiency policy agenda which includes direct investment in building and fixture upgrades as well as incentives to stimulate private landlord investment in energy efficiency measures.”

Ms Pape added that the policy proposals are designed to improve energy efficiency in low income households including both private rental and social housing. Investment will improve affordability, climate resilience and health outcomes for current and future occupants. 

People on low incomes in Australia, as in many other countries around the world, are especially prone to the burden of energy price rises but they lack the capital investment required to upgrade the energy efficiency of their homes and are also more likely to own inefficient appliances. This has resulted in a lower incidence of measures such as insulation in low income housing and tenanted properties. While government programmes have been beneficial, they also need to be complemented by measures that deliver energy efficiency over the long term, particularly with regard to building and fixture upgrades.  

“Targeted retrofits of the worst performing social housing where health, climate and hardship risks are greatest should be a high priority” continued Ms Pape. “We know that those most at risk from heatwaves are low income people, the elderly and people living with disabilities or health issues. We need to build the safety and resilience of our housing stock, and we need to start with the most vulnerable households first. This is a sensible approach in the current fiscal environment and we urge all sides of politics to commit to action on this important front.”

ACOSS proposals include the introduction of landlord tax incentives for energy efficiency measures in rental properties, the introduction of energy efficiency standards for rental properties along with mandatory disclosure of energy and water efficiency of all properties at point of sale, additional funding for targeted retrofits for the worst performing and highest risk social housing stock and financial support to help low income households afford the up-front costs of energy efficiency upgrades.  

Further information:  Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)


August 30, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment

Australian buildings can go gas free, AND halve their energy use

Aust buildings could halve energy use in decade – gas free   By  on 6 August 2013  A nationwide plan to transform Australia’s existing building stock into models of energy efficiency and renewable power generation has found that residential and commercial energy use could be cut in half, and could reach zero emissions from their operations, within 10 years.

Launched on Tuesday, the The Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan – a joint effort from climate think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions and The University of Melbourne Energy Institute – sets out a strategy to retrofit Australia’s buildings, to reduce energy bills, generate renewable energy, increase comfort levels, and make workplaces more productive.


The plan finds the residential building sector would be able to achieve a 53 per cent energy use reduction overall, with some typical home categories seeing over 70 per cent reduction. Commercial buildings are estimated to be able to reduce energy use by 44 per cent overall.

A key element of the plan involves buildings going gas-free, with gas appliances deemed “too inefficient and polluting” compared to modern electric appliances which can replace them – namely heat pumps, or split-system airconditioners, as they are more commonly known. Continue reading

August 7, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment

Energy Savings Agency – a practical proposal by The Greens

Milne,-Christine-1Australian Greens Propose Energy Savings Agency  27 May 13, Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne says an ‘Energy Savings Agency’ will make Australia’s energy system fairer, cheaper and cleaner.

Announcing the plan on Friday, Senator Milne saidFederal and State Governments had failed to prevent a blowout in spending on poles and wires; accusing some state governments on profiting from their electricity assets.

“Selling less electricity is not in their interest which is why reform of the energy market is too slow and why intervention is vital.”The Greens say the Federal Government had committed to fast-tracking establishment of a National Energy Savings Initiative to replace state-based energy
efficiency trading schemes, but three years on is yet to complete a Regulatory Impact Statement.

The proposed Energy Savings Agency would be an independent agency charged with disseminating information, analysis, advocacy and financial support to break down barriers to cheaper and cleaner energy options; such as solar power.

The Greens believe the Agency would also drive down power bills by achieving $1 billion in energy savings – energy efficiency is not only the low hanging fruit in slashing power bills; but also in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, a reduction of 3000 MW of peak demand would be achieved and 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions avoided.

The Energy Savings Agency would also ensure solar power system owners are paid a fair rate for the surplus electricity they export to the mains grid.

According to a paper (PDF) released to coincide with the announcement, “fair value” for solar electricity has been underestimated to date as benefits such as avoided electricity distribution costs and time of production were undervalued.

Targets set under the Agency would initially be ‘collaborative targets’; becoming mandatory targets if networks “do not respond adequately to the targets in this form within 18 months”.

Senator Milne said the proposal has been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office and will cost $405 million to run each year.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency, politics | Leave a comment