Each fortnight, the team at ELS publish a news digest covering energy and sustainability. We read for our own pleasure but to save you time we identify a handful of pertinent articles from Australia and around the globe and add our own commentary. It used to be an internal memo but we kept being asked to share it, so here it is. This fortnight we are excited to have our second guest author, Graduate Engineer Emily Banks.
The last fortnight has been all about targets, with the Clean Energy Regulator declaring the 2020 Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (RET) has been met and the Labor government poised to re-evaluate their 2030 emissions reduction target due to current industry trends. As always, the pressure is mounting for a firm plan to be set on where the industry needs to go next. Meanwhile, on a State level, it’s all suns blazing!
While we may have met our 2020 RET, unfortunately this leaves us in a bit of a policy void as we don’t have any solid plans for what to work towards next. Financial commitments for new renewable projects have collapsed to less than 800MW in the last quarter, down from over 4500MW in late 2018. This is likely due to a lack of investor confidence given the uncertainty in policy direction. In their most recent policy paper release, the Grattan Institute has stressed the need to integrate energy and carbon policies to create a strong stance on both the desirable level of emissions reduction and the smartest mechanism for achieving our targets. With plenty of projects in the works and State Governments taking matters into their own hands, we have our fingers crossed that renewable investment will take an up-turn, but agree that some firm policy decisions will need to be made to help sustain this.
The slow in renewable investment and current policy uncertainty has been a point of discussion within the Labor party, as they look to acknowledge what emissions reduction actions are feasible given this year’s election loss. Labor’s current environmental policy is to work towards an emissions reduction of 45% below 2005 levels by 2030. However, some consider that this will be very difficult since an adequate trajectory is not being set under the current government and new action will not be able to begin until post-election in 2022 at the earliest. No firm decision has been made yet and the Labor government remain committed to net zero emissions by 2050.
While the outlook may seem a bit gloomy at a Federal level, State governments have really been stepping up, with NSW preparing interim emissions reduction targets to reach that beautiful net zero by 2050. This follows both Victoria and the ACT, who are scheduled to set 2025 and 2030 targets by next March, and may have contributed to yesterday’s news that the NT are instigating a push for 10GW of renewable energy by 2030. We’ll be keen to see how the continued development of State-based goals will affect investment and policy decisions on a National level (and will be sure to keep you updated!).
Another very positive note from this week, from October 1, Canberra will become the first city outside of Europe to source the equivalent of 100% of its energy from renewable sources. This will come from a group of 5 solar farms and 3 wind farms, with a combined capacity of 640MW. The final game-changer in the equation will be from the Hornsdale Wind Farm, which is already in operation but will not begin it’s contract with the ACT government until October 1. This is alongside other initiatives that the ACT government is looking to develop, including broader emissions reductions across the transport sector and a shift away from natural gas by 2045.
Still on a State level, the Victorian Solar Homes Program is continuing to have overwhelming engagement, with their most recent release of 3,250 rebates (on September 17) gone in just over 15 minutes and their release of 6,500 early in the month gone in under 30 minutes. Under this scheme, the Victorian government releases a set number of rebates for household solar installations each month.
Speaking of Victoria, and to end this week on a high, “things are changing at VB”. While this tag-line may have evoked some fear amongst those who thought that the best cold beer itself was changing, it turns out that VB will be transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2020. This comes as part of a broader goal from owners, Carlton & United Breweries, who signed a 12-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with the 112MW Karadoc Solar Farm in Mildura to supply 90% of the brewer’s energy needs (the other 10% would be sourced from on-site rooftop solar installations). We’re always happy to see businesses taking positive steps towards our green energy future and this one is definitely no exception. Make sure you check out their new TV ad to send you into a great weekend with a hard earned thirst!