Energy Minister Angus Taylor and the Morrison Government have finally succeeded in getting regulations that would enable the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to invest in carbon capture and storage projects through Federal Parliament.

A tied Senate vote on a disallowance motion led by the Greens saw the controversial changes pass, weeks after another form of the changes were blocked by them and Labor in the Upper House.

Greens leader Adam Bandt has floated the possibility of a legal challenge, telling AAP: “This regulation is unlawful and the government is just trying to deliver for fossil fuel donors.”

ARENA was set up to provide funding for renewable technologies and projects back in 2012 as part of a raft of climate-focused policies unveiled as the Gillard Labor Government cut a deal with the Greens to hold power following the 2010 Federal Election.

After the changes to the ARENA remit emerged from parliament unscathed yesterday, Taylor released a statement, saying the Government will invest $20 billion in “new energy technologies by 2030” to drive “at least” $80 billion of public and private investment over the decade.

It was good news for companies operating in the blue hydrogen space – hydrogen production from gas with carbon capture and storage – one of the methods Taylor and the Coalition have backed in their “technology over taxes” emissions reduction mantra.

“We look forward to getting on with the job, including supporting ARENA’s expanded role into energy efficiency, hydrogen, carbon capture technologies, energy storage for renewables, soil carbon technology and emissions reduction technologies for aluminium and steel,” Taylor said.

The news has been celebrated by industry groups, including the Minerals Council of Australia and Low Emission Technology Australia, formerly COAL21, a coal emissions reduction fund supported by a levy on black coal producers in New South Wales and Queensland.


Major contracts awarded for Crookwell 3 development

Probably in spite of the Energy Minister and not because of, Australian businesses have backed a massive expansion of wind and large scale solar resources in the form of power purchase agreements in recent years to meet their own emissions reductions targets.

Telstra wants to have all of its energy supplied by renewables by 2025, and will pick up 80% of the generating power of Global Power Generation’s new 58M Crookwell 3 Wind Farm near Goulburn in New South Wales on the way to that target.

ASX-listed contractor Decmil has been awarded up to $23 million of work for EPC works on Crookwell 3, which follows on from its work with GPG, 75% owned by Spain’s Naturgy Group and 25% owned by the Kuwait Sovereign Wealth Fund, on the 218MW Ryan Corner wind farm in Vic.

Decmil will complete 16km of road, 116,000m3 of bulk earthworks and 6600m3 of concreting for wind tower bases to get the project off the ground by the end of 2022.

CEO Dickie Dique described the energy sector as “buoyant”, having completed works on other wind projects in recent times included the successfully electrified 214MW Yandin wind farm in WA.

Meanwhile, global wind turbine producer Vestas will supply 16 V126-3.45MW wind turbines for the project, which will power around 40,000 homes and create 95 jobs in its construction phase.

The project was knocked back by the NSW planning commission before a compromise was reached to scale back the $120 million development.

It is located near the 5MW Crookwell 1 wind farm, the first to be commissioned in New South Wales back in 1998.


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MPower bolsters renewables experience

MPower Group (ASX:MPR) has outlined plans to develop a string of small scale renewable hubs across the east coast.

Its latest push into the renewable energy sector will see the company take on renewables advocate Amy Kean, the co-owner of advisory firm Stride Renewables, as a non-executive director.

Kean is also on the board of LAVO Hydrogen and Blind Creek Solar Farm, and worked for the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment as its renewable energy advocate.

MPower chair Peter Wise said the ASX-listed energy company would benefit from her experience in the emerging renewables market.

“As MPower progresses the roll-out of its Build Own Operate strategy of establishing a portfolio of 5MW renewable energy sites across the Eastern States of Australia, with Amy’s appointment, we will now have a broader mix of skills at Board level to advance this program more rapidly and with greater insight. We look forward to updating shareholders on our progress very shortly,” he said.


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