Australian news, and some related international items

South Australia the leader in energy efficiency

South Australia leads push for energy efficiency,   ,

July 1, 2019 Posted by | efficiency, South Australia | Leave a comment

Properly managing Australia’s energy demand would remove the need for new power plants

ESB chair says demand response could kill need for new power plants, By Sophie Vorrath on 14 September 2017

The chair of Australia’s newly formed Energy Security Board, Dr Kerry Schott, has stressed the importance of demand response in meeting the nation’s energy security and affordability needs, telling ABC Radio that if we could harness the technology effectively, we could “all stop worrying about building new plants of any description.”

Schott, who in her role as chair of the ESB is tasked with coordinating the implementation of the Finkel Review recommendations and co-ordinate the three major energy institutions – operator, regulator and rule-maker, and so is set to play a pivotal role.

Some, like the former chief of the Clean Energy Finance Corp, Oliver Yates, want the Coalition government to let her and the others “get on with their job.”

Schott says she is shocked by how little had been done to harness the huge resource that is behind-the-meter solar and battery storage in Australian homes and businesses. Schott (far left) at the AEMC forum on Tuesday, with AEMC’s Clare Savage, AEMO’s Audrey Zibelman, and AER’s Paula Conboy

 “I am completely amazed at the low level of demand management,” Schott told a public forum on energy sector strategic priorities, hosted by the Australian Energy Market Commission on Tuesday.

“It absolutely stuns me. It’s low-hanging fruit waiting to be plucked, particularly now we have technology that will really help.”

Schott said the ESB – which includes representatives from the Australian Energy Regulator, the Australian Energy Market Operator, the AEMC and two independents – has an immediate focus on the summer ahead, and the potential supply issues faced by South Australia and Victoria, as outlined in AEMO report last week.

Another focus, she said, was on 2022, and any issues NSW might face when the Liddell coal-fired power plant was retired by its owner, AGL Energy.

But as the former head of Sydney Water, Schott compares the current squeeze facing Australia’s electricity sector to the water shortages experienced around the country in the late 1990s and early to mid 2000s, and says there’s plenty we could be doing, right now, and for little cost, to address a large part of our energy security concerns.

“I have a background in the water industry and I was shocked to find how little has been done on demand participation in electricity,” Schott told ABC Radio’s The World Today program on Thursday.

“In water, those people will remember having dual flush toilets put into their homes, and aerated water taps, and recycled water plants have been put in everywhere. That saved water demand between 10 and 15 per cent. It’s quite possible to save that much electricity,” she said.

“Overseas those demand responses have saved around 20 per cent, and if we can save that much, we can all stop worrying about building new plants of any description.”

As well as being an effective grid management strategy, and relatively easy to implement, Schott says it’s also cheap.

“If the cost of demand management is less than the cost of providing power, then why aren’t we doing it?” she said at the Tuesday forum.

Certainly, it is one of the mechanisms that AEMO chief Audrey Zibelman is keen to implement – as a grid-wide no-brainer solution for better management of resources, and as a way to mitigate the removal of coal-fired power capacity, like the Liddell closure. “We need flexible capacity that can be switched on and off,” Zibelman told the same AEMC forum on Tuesday.

“Our advice was fairly pragmatic,” Zibelman said. “We are concerned that on a 45°C day if we lose a generator (which AEMO has said is quite likely) we want reserves in the system to be able to respond.

“In our report we identified the fact that with amount of variability (from solar and wind energy and electricity usage) is changing rapidly, we need resources that can change rapidly.”

Zibelman also noted that the subject of demand management had been communicated badly and misunderstood by the public – particularly the idea that the market operator would turn off the lights or the air-conditioning.

 “What we are talking bout is being able to use rotating mass, use battery storage, electric vehicles, and create a more integrated system.”

Zibelman said it was clear that the Australian market was heading towards 30-40 per cent “distributed generation”, which meant mostly solar and storage behind the meter. These technologies can and needed to be harnessed to ensure that they contribute to grid security, she said.

September 16, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) supports incentives for households to cut power this summer

Renewable energy agency assesses incentives for households to cut power this summer, ABC News, By Melissa Brown, 8 Sept 17,  Twenty-four electricity retailers and tech companies have applied to be part of a scheme the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) says will help the country avoid looming blackouts this summer.

Under the scheme, large groups of households or business will be offered incentives, such as payments, to cut their electricity usage when the grid comes under stress.

ARENA business development manager Phil Cohn said, as an example, participating customers could be sent messages, telling them a high-stress period was expected at the next day, and asking them to switch of their air conditioner or pool pump for 30 minutes.

The agency and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) announced their Demand Response trial program in May.

Mr Cohn said ARENA was now examining proposed projects under the scheme.

“We’re going through our assessment and contracting process at the moment with the successful projects,” he said.

“We got a wide range of energy retailers come in the door, from energy retailers through to new technology start-ups that are looking to utilise things in people’s homes to control appliances and help manage energy use.”

Summer blackouts looming

Experts have warned there is a high chance of blackouts this summer, partly caused by the closure of Hazelwood Power Station in Victoria.

Mr Cohn said the successful projects would be announced in October and they would need to be up and running by December, so the energy savings could be used in summer.

He said they would be in New South Wales, where the State Government is contributing funds, and in Victoria and South Australia…….

September 8, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment

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