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Market Recap | November 2023

In case you missed it, here’s a recap on what’s been happening in the energy market over the last month.

Quarterly ESIA-DEECA-ESC Meeting

Each quarter the Energy Savings Industry Association have a meeting with the Essential Services Commission (Victoria) and the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (Victoria). The primary summary of the meeting results is below:

  • The Large Energy User exemption framework may see further delays after it was re-forecasted to be released at the end of this year. The consultation and potential changes to the framework have an impact on the annual VEET targets through to 2025. No official detail surrounding the consultation delay has been released by the Essential Services Commission.
  • The ESC is aware of significant delays in VEEC registration, VEU accreditation and product approvals. This has been attributed to high demand.

EV impacts on the grid, ARENA makes interesting findings

AGL and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) have released the findings of their Electric Vehicle Orchestration Trial, a comprehensive $8 million project that began in early 2022. The primary objective was to understand the relationship between customer EV charging behaviour and its impact on the grid during peak periods. The results revealed some unexpected findings, such as:

  • a smaller EV charging load than anticipated. Only 16% of home chargers were being used daily
  • customers were generally open to having their charging controlled as long as they had the option to opt out, though opt-outs were rarely utilised.
  • the anticipated early evening peak in charging was largely absent from the data.

It was also found that offering time-of-use tariffs effectively encouraged EV owners to shift their charging to off-peak times, reducing demand during peak hours and an impressive 84% of participants in the trial expressed interest in signing up for a smart charging service. Bruce Hardy, AGL general manager for emerging business, said the electrification of transport is a key requirement on the path to net zero.

Call to action to tackle rental energy-efficiency

The Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) has reinvigorated the conversation surrounding renters’ financial challenges. With one-third of Australians renting, escalating costs, including record-high rent increases and soaring power bills have become a central issue for many. Rental properties face a number of challenges, one mainstay being much lower energy-efficiency, resulting in discomfort during extreme weather and larger energy bills for heating and cooling. In combination with this is the distinct barrier to adoption of rooftop solar or other upgrades which could significantly reduce bill spend as landlords are responsible for funding such upgrades without immediate benefit. As a result, renters are bearing nearly 10% higher power expenses.

To significantly reduce power bills, a shift to modern electrical alternatives and rooftop solar coupled with improved insulation has been flagged by HAFF and it has called on the government to offer targeted support for electrification and insulation of rental properties by employing technologies that yield immediate results. The following has been shortlisted as key prime movers:

  • A policy to incentivise landlords to replace gas appliances with more efficient electrical options.
  • Mandatory (nationwide) disclosure of rental property energy performance, along with minimum efficiency standards.
  • A centralised resource (one-stop-shop) for electrification information and incentives, along with tailored solutions for apartments and high-density living.
  • State-level reforms, particularly addressing outdated strata laws.

The HAFF say that the above would play a vital role in alleviating the cost-of-living crisis for renters while advancing climate action and the energy transition, and intend on prioritising these opportunities in upcoming meetings with stakeholders and the Energy Minister.

Commbank survey shows consumer need to reduce cost barriers to energy efficient upgrades

A recent survey commissioned by CommBank revealed that 71% of Australians believe that incorporating energy-efficient features like solar panels, double glazed windows, and LED lights can enhance property value.

The research identified increased insulation, solar panels, and highly efficient water fixtures as the top priority energy-efficient features for Australians. The survey found that nearly 8 in 10 homeowners plan to install green/clean energy products, with almost a quarter intending to do so within the next year.

CommBank’s Executive General Manager Home Buying, Michael Baumann, emphasised that energy-efficient features are transitioning from a luxury to a necessity for many Australians. However, cost remains a significant barrier, as 60% cited affordability as a hindrance to making energy-efficient upgrades. Baumann highlighted the availability of CommBank Green Loans, designed to assist customers in financing eligible energy-efficient home improvements. The maximum loan size has been increased to $30,000, covering a broader range of products such as heat pump hot water systems, electric vehicle charging stations, and more.

Indigenous community access to the benefits of the energy transition

The Federal Government has unveiled a consultation paper laying the groundwork for the Australian First Nations Clean Energy Strategy, aimed at benefiting Indigenous communities. Drawing from extensive engagement with First Nations communities and input from the Clean Energy Advisory Committee, the strategy focuses on providing reliable and affordable energy, fostering economic participation, and ensuring Indigenous people are equal partners in the clean energy transition.

The government is investing $83.8 million in the First Nations Community Microgrids program and committing $2 million to the Hydrogen Headstart program. Members of the Clean Energy Advisory Committee, Dr. Kate George and Travis Thomas, emphasised the strategy’s potential to support key reforms and transform opportunities in Indigenous communities. Feedback on the consultation paper is encouraged through the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment, and Water.

Climate Active propose a ratchet up on credibility and integrity in the voluntary climate market

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment, and Water is seeking public input on proposed updates to the Climate Active program through its Climate Active Program Directions discussion paper. The aim is to enhance voluntary climate action credibility in response to the evolving landscape.

The consultation paper outlines proposals to:

  • Elevate climate ambition for certification
  • Align Climate Active with broader government climate objectives;
  • and modernise program operations.

Key proposals outlined in the paper are as follows:

Enhancing Ambition and Action:

Mandatory Gross Emissions Reductions

  • Members to produce an emissions reduction strategy with near-term and long-term gross emissions targets aligned with Australia’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

Tracking Progress

  • Members to credibly demonstrate progress towards the specified emissions reduction targets to maintain certification.

Guidance on Emissions Boundaries

  • Guidance to establish robust emissions boundaries, potentially mandating inclusion of specific scope 3 emissions sources for certain certification types.

Tightening Offset Use

  • Require eligible international carbon offsets to meet a 5-year rolling vintage requirement.

Integration with Government Objectives:

Renewable Electricity Mandate

  • Mandate a minimum percentage of renewable electricity for Climate Active members and require the use of the market-based method to set emissions liability.

Counting ACCU Abatement

  • Ensure that abatement from all Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) used under Climate Active contributes to Australia’s national emissions reduction target under the Paris Agreement.

Program Operation:

Terminology Change

  • Replace the term “carbon neutral” with a new term that clearly communicates the meaning of Climate Active certification to consumers.

Certification Pathway Development

  • Establish a certification pathway to help current and future members meet the new, heightened standards of Climate Active certification.

Stakeholders are encouraged to provide feedback by December 15, addressing specific questions outlined in the consultation paper.

Read the consultation paper here.

Changes to VEU released and effective from 1st January 2024

The Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action has released Victorian Energy Upgrades (VEU) Specifications 2018 – Version 16.0 (VEU Specifications). The changes in the specifications will come into effect on 1 January 2024.

The changes include:

  • Changes to the input values used in calculating Victorian energy efficiency certificates (VEECs) for installation of multi-split systems to use the sum of the rated heating and cooling capacity (in kW) of all indoor units installed rather than the rating of the external unit.
  • New requirement for internal and external units of multi-split systems to be from the same original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
  • Allowing products registered under GEMS (Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards) classes 18 to 21 to be eligible for listing as a ducted product, under product categories 6A to 6C.

ESC have released updated guides, VEEC assignment forms and VEEC creation forms for space heating and cooling activity (activity 6) in response to above changes.

Accredited persons will need to use the updated VEEC assignment forms and VEEC creation forms for activities undertaken from 20 November 2023.

Please refer to the program update for further information on the updates.

At Ecovantage, we consistently analyse market activity, policy changes, consultation releases, and creation rates in conjunction with wider landscape activity. This allows us to keep our clients at the forefront of all relevant changes, and to leverage the advantage that this presents. Thank you for your continued support, and please reach out if you have any general or project-specific questions.

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