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Reviewing the Reviews, Part II

Reviewing the Reviews, Part II

The first meeting of the Energy and Climate Change Ministerial Council (ECMC) for 2024 brought to the fore the extent of change underway in the energy sector. The ECMC’s communique hints at the breadth of reviews and assessments into the energy sector and operations of the National Electricity Market (NEM). It's part of a now long-established pattern. For well over a decade, energy has been at the forefront of policy developments, largely because of the significant changes to our grid. Along with those changes has come a heightened political involvement. With political interest has come a myriad of reviews, assessments and interventions to make the NEM “fit for purpose”. We take a look at the latest ECMC work and the extent of reviews underway.

BY Carl Kitchen Mar 07 2024
Fuel efficiency standards: Driving emission reductions in transport

Fuel efficiency standards: Driving emission reductions in transport

The release of the Federal Government’s preferred option for an Australian fuel efficiency standard has quickly fallen into another version of the so-called climate wars while also being firmly couched as a ‘cost of living’ and ‘loss of vehicle choice’ issue. The Government’s proposal is for an “ambitious but achievable” standard that would allow Australia to catch up to markets like the US.

BY Carl Kitchen Feb 29 2024
Internal Carbon Pricing – on the pathway to net-zero or just another sidetrack?

Internal Carbon Pricing – on the pathway to net-zero or just another sidetrack?

Leading into the last federal election, the then Labor opposition pledged no economy-wide carbon price under its leadership, reflecting the continued vexed nature of climate policy in Australia. Since then the Federal Labor Government has maintained its promise and is pursuing emissions reductions through targeted sectoral reforms. In this environment, many businesses have started setting their own internal carbon price based around various government decarbonisation policies. Now, under new reforms being proposed by Treasury, these businesses will be required to disclose their internal carbon price.

BY Rhys Thomas Feb 29 2024
Green schemes: What are they and how are they causing greater inequality?

Green schemes: What are they and how are they causing greater inequality?

For the past two decades, state and federal governments have introduced various policies aimed at incentivising households and businesses to be more energy efficient and to support renewable technologies, which are often referred to as ‘green schemes’ or ‘environmental schemes’. While well intentioned, the cost of these schemes are typically passed onto consumers through electricity bills, impacting energy affordability for some users.

BY Tom Monaghan Feb 22 2024
Port of Hastings decision – what does it mean for electricity planning?

Port of Hastings decision – what does it mean for electricity planning?

Last month, the Federal Government blocked progress of the Victorian Renewable Energy Terminal – Victoria’s flagship offshore wind support project – on the grounds it posed “clearly unacceptable” risks to biodiversity in the Westernport Bay region. The impact of this decision was magnified by the Victorian Government reportedly being unaware that this ruling was coming. We untangle the regulatory process that led to this decision and consider what it means for energy transition planning.

BY Rhys Thomas Feb 08 2024
Expanded National CIS: What are the pros and cons?

Expanded National CIS: What are the pros and cons?

The expanded Capacity Investment Scheme (CIS) announced last week aims to bring forward 32GW of generation investment - 9GW dispatchable capacity and 23GW variable renewable capacity - with the costs of the scheme funded by the Federal Government. It can be expected to encourage new capacity which will represent a significant injection of renewables into a grid with ongoing system constraints so does not come without some risks. We take a look at some of the pros and cons.

BY David Feeney Nov 30 2023
SMR Cancellation: Major setback or hiccup?

SMR Cancellation: Major setback or hiccup?

The cancellation of the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) in Idaho which was expected to be the first commercial development of small modular reactor (SMR) technology in the US has been labelled a major setback for this nascent nuclear technology. NuScale’s design was seen as being at the forefront for commercialisation of SMR plant. So what happened? We take a look.

BY Carl Kitchen Nov 16 2023
Decarbonising aviation – in it for the long haul

Decarbonising aviation – in it for the long haul

Until recently, the aviation sector has avoided policymaker attention – at least as far as carbon reduction policy goes. However, this has started to change with the Federal Government’s recent publication of an Aviation Green Paper, which attempts to navigate the foggy skies of how to align aviation with a net-zero by 2050 future. So what are some of the options, and challenges, for aviation decarbonisation? Here we take a look.

BY Rhys Thomas Sep 28 2023
Rushing to the finish line: Can we clear the hurdles on the way to 100% smart meters by 2030?

Rushing to the finish line: Can we clear the hurdles on the way to 100% smart meters by 2030?

Last month, a report by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) recommended that the deployment of smart meters across the National Electricity Market (excluding Victoria) should be accelerated so we achieve 100 per cent uptake among small customers by 2030. The AEMC argues that achieving a critical mass of smart meter deployment in a far timelier manner will deliver greater benefits for customers and support the wider decarbonisation of the energy market. But what are the hurdles that will need to be cleared on the way to the finish line? We take a look.

BY Braeden Keen Sep 21 2023
Nuclear power for Australia: A potted history

Nuclear power for Australia: A potted history

Nuclear power has re-emerged as part of our energy debate with the Federal Opposition proposing a coal-to-nuclear transition. While it does wax and wane a look back at the political arguments around nuclear power show that it has never been too far from mainstream arguments about and resurfaces from time-to-time with similar themes and arguments. Most recently, and like many things relating to energy, it can also quickly become enmeshed in the so-called “culture wars”.

BY Carl Kitchen Aug 31 2023
The risk of Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanisms

The risk of Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanisms

Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanisms have long been flagged as part of carbon-reduction schemes around the world. While some policymakers argue that a border tariff is necessary to support a truly decarbonized economy and prevent “carbon leakage”, trading partners logically identify these charges as the imposition of carbon pricing on their domestic economies by stealth. Australia has now joined other countries in considering the suitability of a border mechanism as part of its climate approach. We take a look at carbon border tariffs emerging around the world, their rationale and their impacts on free trade.

BY Mitchell Cutting Aug 24 2023
The 82 per cent national renewable energy target – where did it come from and how can we get there?

The 82 per cent national renewable energy target – where did it come from and how can we get there?

In recent weeks there has been a wave of headlines about Australia’s energy transition – while some preached opportunity, others raised caution. Of particular interest to those inside the energy beltway was whether Australia can reach 82 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2030. In this article, we do a deep dive into how this figure and what obstacles must be overcome for Australia to achieve it.

BY Rhys Thomas Aug 17 2023
Productivity Commission offers alternative view of the IRA

Productivity Commission offers alternative view of the IRA

Almost 12 months since it was passed by the US Congress, the landmark Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has sent shockwaves globally and in turn prompted debate on how Australia should respond. Of note in public commentary was the latest Trade and Assistance Review, released last month by the Productivity Commission which argues that an attempt by Australia to adopt countervailing policy responses would be a step in the wrong direction. We take a closer look at the Productivity Commission's views on how Australia should be responding to the IRA.

BY Braeden Keen Aug 17 2023
Coal or no coal, all-electric homes are better for the environment

Coal or no coal, all-electric homes are better for the environment

Late last week, the Victorian Government announced a ban on gas connections to new residential homes from 2024. The effect of this policy is that new homes will be required to go all-electric. Even though this is a relatively small step in Victoria’s ambition to electrify all households, it nonetheless triggered a wide range of reactions, including debate on the impact it might have on the state’s carbon emissions. We take a closer look at these claims and clear up some of the misconceptions about electrified homes.

BY Rhys Thomas Aug 03 2023
Reports highlight ongoing challenge of transition

Reports highlight ongoing challenge of transition

Amidst all the discussion of the energy transition two new reports looking at energy use and options for the energy transition have highlighted the continued major challenge to reduce overall carbon emissions. We take a look at the '2023 statistical review of world energy' and the ‘How to make net zero happen’ reports side by side to provide a picture of where energy consumption has been, and where it may be going in the future and the implications for the energy sector.

BY Australian Energy Council Jul 20 2023
Electrifying moves

Electrifying moves

This week the ACT Government announced increased support for residents to electrify their homes. More broadly electrification of homes continues to be the subject of much discussion with a new Grattan Institute report recommending ways to encourage households to shift from gas, the announcement of a Senate inquiry into home electrification and an AER review underway. We take a closer look at the new developments and some of the implications.

BY Carl Kitchen Jun 29 2023
Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan – the update

Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan – the update

Last September the Queensland Government announced the “Energy and Jobs Plan”, a remarkably comprehensive central plan to revolutionise the Queensland electricity sector, phasing out the currently dominant coal sector over a decade and replacing it with renewables and storage. The plan also called for a transmission “supergrid”, three Renewable Energy Zones (REZs), and two enormous pumped hydro schemes. The government has progressed the plan by announcing new renewable energy targets and publishing draft legislation to enact these and the plan.

BY Ben Skinner Jun 22 2023
Carbon Pricing Trends – where are we at?

Carbon Pricing Trends – where are we at?

Despite higher energy prices and global inflation pressures, emissions trading systems (ETSs) and carbon taxes appear to have weathered the political and economic challenges that emerged last year, and have continued to expand. That’s the latest assessment of global carbon pricing trends from the World Bank. There are now 73 carbon taxes or ETSs in operation. We take a look at the latest trends and developments.

BY Australian Energy Council Jun 15 2023
Energy storage assessment: Where are we now?

Energy storage assessment: Where are we now?

A new report from the CSIRO has highlighted the major challenge ahead in having sufficient energy storage available in coming decades to support the National Electricity Market (NEM) as dispatchable plant leaves the grid. The roadmap also provides a useful insight into the current maturity level of energy storage technologies, using the commercial readiness index (CRI), as well as a technical readiness level (TRL) framework. We take a look at what they found.

BY Carl Kitchen Jun 08 2023
Critical minerals, clean energy and a US compact

Critical minerals, clean energy and a US compact

Last weekend the US and Australia entered a Climate, Critical Minerals and Clean Energy Transformation Compact. Prior to that the Federal Government announced funding to help progress development of local processing capabilities for critical minerals and more is expected to emerge when the Federal Government’s critical minerals strategy is released in coming weeks. It all highlights the growing importance of critical minerals in the clean energy transition and how best to develop Australia’s reserves. We consider the key drivers and recent developments.

BY Carl Kitchen May 25 2023
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