Emission Control: ACT gets serious about electrification; renewable energy’s record first-half for new investment
Emission Control is Stockhead’s fortnightly take on all the big news surrounding developments in renewable energy.
The ACT is looking to phase out fossil fuel gas by 2045 in its plan to electrify Canberra over the next two decades.
Currently, natural gas accounts for 20% of ACT’s emissions, so reducing gas reliance is a critical part of achieving net zero emissions for the territory.
As part of this decision, the ACT Government says new ‘greenfields’ suburbs will no longer be connected to gas mains and from 2023, new gas connections will cease for future infill developments.
It is also considering other options such as the possible use of hydrogen and biogas, providing a clear signal to the community and industry of its future direction.
⚡ The ACT is ELECTRIFYING ⚡
That’s right: We have announced today that the ACT will phase out fossil fuel gas by 2045 and we will electrify Canberra with renewable electricity over the next two decades.
This is a bold, nation leading, necessary climate change policy. pic.twitter.com/qNi7WEm5HT
— Shane Rattenbury MLA (@ShaneRattenbury) August 4, 2022
In an announcement on Thursday, ACT chief minister Andrew Barr says the days of cheap gas in Australia appear over and renewable energy is now the cheapest and cleanest way to power our homes and businesses.
“We know there will be costs associated with the transition away from gas – which is why we are giving people certainty now so that the transition can happen gently over the next two decades.
“This is a long-term and gentle transition and we’re not switching off the gas network overnight.
“Like the transition from analogue to digital TV, or the phase out of leaded petrol, this will be a staged and managed transition.”
Further echoing the sentiment for an all-electric future in Canberra, Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction Shane Rattenbury says many Canberrans are already switching from gas to cheaper, energy efficient electric options.
“This announcement provides the certainty Canberrans need to start planning their switch over the next 20 years.
“A carefully considered plan with input from the community will make this ongoing transition equitable, with support for our low income and vulnerable households and businesses to make this change.
“We know that some gas users, particularly some businesses, can’t transition yet due to cost barriers or substitute technology not yet being available… we’re committed to working collaboratively to manage this long-term transition, remove these barriers and understand the niche areas of the economy where renewable gas technologies may be necessary.”
New analysis out of research organisation BloombergNEF says the renewable energy sector defied supply chain challenges in 2022 to hit a record first half for new investment totalling $266 billion.
That number marks an 11% year-on-year rise in renewable energy financing and sets a new record for the first six months of any year, ever.
Global investment in renewable energy totaled $226 billion in the first half of 2022, setting a record first-half and reflecting an acceleration in demand for clean energy supplies to tackle the ongoing global energy and climate crises. https://t.co/YWjMfESf8l
— BloombergNEF (@BloombergNEF) August 2, 2022
What’s causing all this commotion? The uptick in demand for clean energy supplies to tackle the ongoing global energy and climate crisis.
Investment in new large- and small-scale solar projects rose to a record-breaking $120 billion, up 33% from the first half of 2021.
Wind project financing was up 16% from 1H 2021, at $84 billion.
Although both sectors have been challenged recently by rising input costs for key materials such as steel and polysilicon – as well as supply chain disruptions and rising financing costs – today’s figures indicate that investor appetite is stronger than ever, in part due to the very high energy prices currently being seen in many markets around the world.
BloombergNEF head of analysis Albert Cheung says despite the headwinds presented by ongoing cost inflation and supply chain challenges, demand for clean energy sources has never been higher, and he expects the global energy crisis will continue to act as an accelerant for the clean energy transition.
Nearly four in five (79%) businesses say digital technology is playing a key role in achieving sustainability goals.
Conducted on behalf of Schneider Electric, a global leader in the digital transformation of energy management, the Sustainability Index: Transforming Intention to Outcomes report surveyed more than 500 business managers and decision-makers across corporate Australia.
It found that 75% believe that the benefits of adopting sustainable technology outweigh the costs.
Some 57% of respondents report that their companies are investing more today in digital transformation, as well as automation (42%) and electric vehicles (24%).
The rapid investment in energy efficiency is part of an industry–wide digital revolution, adds Gareth O’Reilly, Schneider Electric’s Pacific Zone president.
Almost half (46%) of businesses have already built a data capture and reporting strategy to inform their journey to net zero, with 14% well on their way to putting their strategy into action.
Over the next two years, around three-quarters of business managers and decision-makers said it was likely or very likely their companies would invest in monitoring and reporting (79%), energy and resource efficiency measures (75%), real time data and automation (74%).
Encouragingly, over half (58%) are already incorporating energy measurement systems, IoT meters, sensors and other devices, or specific software.
Decarbonisation is the most urgent business imperative facing Australian businesses today and tech is the main solution,” says O’Reilly.
The majority of business leaders (73%) reported that their businesses are likely, or very likely, to invest in renewable energy solutions on site, such as rooftop solar or micro-grids, in the next two years.
This extended to 62% investing in transportation or clean fleet initiatives and 59% in battery storage, fuel cells or micro-grids by 2024.
Out of a total of 44 renewable energy stocks, 24 ended in the green over the last fortnight, 4 fell flat, and 11 ended in the red.
ECT was the biggest winner, up for 40% after the recent production of the first COLDry pellets from its primary processing system.
“The sample pellets taken from this commissioning run have dried to a hard, dense state, in line with desired product specifications, which is a tremendous early win that allows us to proceed with the commissioning of the conditioning system and from there into Phase 2 development,” the company says.
BSX is up 32% for the fortnight on its latest Ta Khoa Project development update, highlighting the company continues to build relationships with key technology and off-take partners.
BSX says its development strategy was discussed at length during a recent Ban Phuc Nickel Mine and Ta Khoa Refinery site (both in Vietnam) visit, which included representatives from prospective partners.
The purpose of the visit was to inspect the existing BPNM operation, the proposed TKR site, as well as discussions pertaining to project partnership structures, investment strategy and development timelines.
Blackstone will be prioritising all activity to focus on schedule critical path items while limiting spend in this current market environment.
Progress on partnerships, permitting, metallurgical testwork and piloting will continue but other non-time-critical activities will be assessed in relation to the overall project development strategy.
As part of its strategy to invest in alternative energy and carbon friendly projects, PRM has acquired a 10.9% stake in Ecostorage Solutions (ECOSSAUS) via participation in a seed capital raising by the company.
ECOSSAUS landholding comprises seven tenement applications for 3,322km2 located in Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland believed to be prospective for the solution mining of salt and the potential use of salt caverns for storage purposes.
According to PRM, salt caverns are used in other parts of the world for the storage of non-aqueous gases or liquids that do not dissolve salt, such as hydrocarbons and petroleum products, and they have recently proven to be effective for the storage of hydrogen, which can be challenging to store in large volumes via typical storage methods (i.e., tanks and vessels).
There is also potential for CO2, methane and other greenhouse gases (GHG) to be stored in salt caverns for long term as a form of carbon sequestration
PRM’s initial investment of $100,000 was part of a $415,000 capital raise to fund ECOSSAUS in the grant of tenements and initial data gathering and technical studies on the tenements.
The company says it is also seeking opportunities in helium, hydrogen and other green energy projects.