Embracing Change: Late 2023’s Energy News for Australian Small Businesses

As 2024 unfolds, it’s important to look back at the significant changes in energy policies and climate goals that emerged in Australia at the end of 2023. These developments are crucial for small business owners, highlighting the importance of staying adaptable and informed in a rapidly evolving industry.

NSW’s Strategic Energy Shift
In late 2023, NSW’s Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Penny Sharpe, introduced the ‘Orderly Exit Mechanism.’ This significant policy change, backed the powers to 2021, allowing for more direct governmental control over energy generation facilities like Eraring Power Station. Small business owners in NSW should be aware of these regulatory shifts, as they could have an impact on the state’s energy supply and market prices going forward.

Queensland’s Climate Commitment
Toward the end of 2023, Queensland set an ambitious climate target of 75% below 2005 levels by 2035. This bold move suggests a strong commitment to environmental sustainability and could lead to new regulations and opportunities for small businesses. Embracing renewable energy and sustainable practices may become increasingly important.

The December Energy Surge
On December 29th, the energy market saw a significant spike, with demand exceeding 9,750MW and prices soaring. This highlights the importance of energy efficiency for small businesses. Exploring renewable energy and investing in energy-saving technologies can help mitigate the impact of such market fluctuations.

Coal Seam Gas Regulation
The Department of Resources released a draft framework for Coal Seam Gas regulation, indicating a move towards stricter environmental oversight. Small businesses in related fields should prepare for potential changes in operations and compliance requirements.

Queensland’s Environmental Stance
With the resurgence of the “polluter pays” principle in environmental law, the Queensland government is taking steps to reinforce the Environmental Protection Act of 1994. This initiative is highlighted by the recent release of a consultation paper titled “Improving the Powers and Penalties Provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1994.” This renewed focus on environmental accountability suggests a shift towards stricter regulations. For small businesses, it means an increased need to be more proactive in managing their environmental impact, thereby ensuring alignment with evolving standards and sustainability practices.

ARENA’s Emission Reduction Initiative
ARENA’s late 2023 launch of a $40 million fund to reduce industrial emissions reflects a broader governmental effort toward sustainability. While targeted at larger facilities, this initiative might open future opportunities for small businesses to participate in emission reduction.

The final months of 2023 marked a turning point for energy and environmental policies in Australia. For small businesses in the energy sector, understanding and adapting to these changes will be key to navigating this new era of sustainability and responsibility.

This is a summary article from Edge2020 – read the original article.

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Back to the Future Part Two: Still a long way off

Back to the Future Part Two: still a long way off

In the 1989 film back to the future part 2, we were promised we would have hover boards and flying cars by 2015. Now I know we shouldn’t believe everything we see on TV, but I think a few people feel robbed of the future they were promised! The Tesla self-driving car and a Segway is about as close as we have got by 2020.

CSIRO’s Report

When CSIRO, Australia’s main scientific research body, stated the whole of Australia’s car fleet will be electric by 2050, there were doubts. Let’s dive deeper to see if there is merit in the claim.

CSIRO released 5 scenarios incorporating electric vehicles, rooftop solar and batteries which fed into the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) Integrated System Plan (ISP). The ISP was released at the end of 2019, but the step change latest scenario has been the one to attract the most controversy. This is due to it showing what it believes can be possible from these technologies with the right grid integration and the rate of reductions in costs which could be possible for these technology with large scale uptake. It is also being overly ambitions not just limiting Australia’s contribution to warming at the agreed Paris agreements 2oc but exceeding this with an ambition to be closer to 1.5oc.

They do acknowledge with this there is significant increase in electricity demand but they do not address the cost of this, nor do they address the likely advertising campaign which would ensue if a mandatory “carbon tax on wheels” was introduced. Merely they expect a price parity of electric to petrol cars by 2025 and that charging would not be an issue.

I fear therefore that this scenario is another which is based on a chess board which is not in place. With no federal government really wanting to raise their head above this parapet, it therefore limited incentives to move to electric vehicle and investment in the electrification capabilities, i.e. charging. As such the likelihood of it coming to pass in this timescale is unlikely.

Arena (Australian Renewable Energy Agency)

However in contrast, Arena, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, has agreed to fund a two year, $2.4m trial to create a vehicle-to-grid power source where electric vehicles can provide system security and be paid to plug their EVs into the grid. With this Australia join the ranks of around 50 other vehicles to grid projects (~50% of which are in Europe). This trial is using around 50 cars from the ACT governments new Nissan Leaf fleet and could provide grid stability without the huge outlay required for a Tesla battery or a Snowy 2.0 hydro project.

Initially, these discharges will only be used for Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FACS) to the National Electricity Market (NEM). This will allow AEMO to maintain the frequency of the system. But with discharge ability within tenth of a second Dr Sturmberg (Australia’s National Universities research leader in Battery Storage and Grid integration) anticipates that if this was available across Australia’s 19 million vehicle fleet “it would store more energy than five Snowy 2.0’s or over 10,000 Tesla Big Batteries.”

These vehicles will work on bi-directional chargers and it is anticipated with more people working at home these could later become an in-home battery also. If proven feasible, this vehicle-to-grid technology could be the biggest disruptor on the Distribution System since small scale solar PV was introduced. The ability for consumers to have the control and ability to support the grid in a controllable way and with returns expected to yield around $1,000/Year this extra revenue could this create a significant incentive to start the drive towards the electrification of Australia’s car fleet with or without government legislation.


Written by: Kate Turner (Senior Manager, Markets & Advisory)


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