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Hydrogen Approval Demonstrates Why Townsville Shouldn’t Miss Out on Federal Funding

September 22: Hydrogen Approval Demonstrates Why Townsville Shouldn’t Miss Out on Federal Funding.

The approval of Edify Energy’s solar and hydrogen project at the Lansdown Eco-industrial site was today celebrated by community group Solar Citizens, who say Townsville can have a bright economic future in new industries underpinned by abundant, cheap renewable energy. 

Edify plans to develop a 1GW renewable hydrogen facility, alongside a solar and battery power plant.

“The Federal government has just allocated $150 million in additional funding to establish hydrogen hubs across the country. This is a great initiative but so far Townsville isn’t on their priority list,” said Stephanie Gray, Energy Strategist at Solar Citizens.

“When you’ve got Edify, Sun Metals and Origin Energy all planning to invest in renewable hydrogen projects, it would be a real shame if Townsville missed out on this federal funding. 

“Townsville has all the key ingredients to be a clean energy industrial powerhouse: some of Australia’s best solar resources, a skilled local workforce and world-class port facilities.

“Our report published earlier this year found that turning Townsville into a renewable industry powerhouse would create over 3,950 ongoing jobs and a $154 billion economic boost for the region. 

“Townsville has incredible potential but all levels of government need to back the region and build the enabling infrastructure to see these opportunities realised.”

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Media contact: Stephanie 0425543006

Renewables Shine Bright in Qld Infrastructure Pipeline

9 September 2021: Renewables Shine Bright in Qld Infrastructure Pipeline

The
Queensland Government Infrastructure Pipeline has just been released, showing the exciting role that renewable energy projects are playing in Queensland’s covid economic recovery. 

The pipeline shows there are 34 renewable energy plants already operating in Queensland with a further 10 projects committed and under construction. All of this renewable energy activity represents around $10 billion in investment and more than 7,000 construction jobs.

“Thousands of people are already employed in Queensland’s renewable energy sector, from rooftop solar installers, technology developers, and construction workers,” said Stephanie Gray, Solar Citizens’ Energy Strategist. 

“But this sector is just getting started. As we move towards a decarbonised economy, we’ll need to produce three times more electricity than we generate now to power things like electric cars. 

“The demand for abundant and cheap renewable energy is only going to grow and so are the jobs in this space.

The Infrastructure Pipeline report highlights the growing role renewable manufacturing and minerals processing will play in Queensland’s economy, as the world demands low carbon products that Queensland is well-placed to provide. According to the report, approximately three quarters of lithium used in Tesla’s electric vehicle batteries and one third of the nickel is currently sourced from Australia.

“North Queensland has some of the world’s best solar resources and critical mineral deposits needed as the world rolls out more electric transport and battery storage. This means we can not only ship minerals overseas, but also use abundant cheap renewable energy to process and manufacture here,” said Ms Gray. 

“Government investment in more renewable energy generation, electric transport and local manufacturing will secure this unique opportunity to create thousands of good Queensland jobs.”

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Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Solar households to face a sun tax for exporting their clean power

12th August 2021: Solar households to face a sun tax for exporting their clean power

Solar Citizens has today slammed a ruling by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) which will see Australian solar households charged for exporting their clean energy. 

Known as ‘the sun tax’, this rule change will see networks now given the power to charge solar households, previously prohibited under the energy rules. 

“This decision to penalise households for sharing their clean solar energy is deeply  disappointing,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

“We will see less renewable energy in the grid if people are discouraged from exporting or investing in solar panels in the first place. Households now have to pay to export their power while big coal and gas generators get off scot free. This does not make our energy system fairer. 

“The Victorian and Queensland Energy Ministers have stated their strong opposition to charging solar householders in their States. It’s now up to all Energy Ministers to say whether they will implement these rules in their State, or whether they will protect rooftop solar. The ball is in their court. 

“South Australia, Tasmania and NSW have also expressed concern at existing solar households being penalised, but this proposal will see existing customers charged for exporting their power in just three years. 

“The AEMC has stated that all solar customers will be offered an option not to be charged, but in South Australia, for example, this would slash households’ export capacity to less than a third of what it is now. 

“This rule change gives all the power to networks without adequate safeguards to protect consumers.

“Rooftop solar is challenging coal fired power stations and threatening them with early closure. If we want our emissions to go down we need to see more rooftop solar exports, not less. 

“We know that Australia’s solar homes and businesses are not only driving down electricity bills but also playing a major role in slashing Australia’s emissions. The sun tax shows Morrison’s ‘technology not taxes’ for the empty slogan that it is. This week Morrison talked up Australia’s world leading rates of rooftop solar while standing by as ordinary households are charged for doing their bit to bring down power prices and emissions.”

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Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

Heat on Queensland to Deliver Climate Action

11 August 2021: Heat on Queensland to Deliver Climate Action

The Queensland government’s recently released Climate Action Plan falls well short of the urgent action called for in the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

The IPCC report warns global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during this century unless deep emission reductions occur in the coming decades. Based on this new information, the Climate Council has concluded that Australia should reduce its emissions by 75% below 2005 levels by 2030, and achieve net zero emissions by 2035.

“Brisbane is set to hold the world’s first climate positive Olympics in 2032, but so far Queensland is falling behind in the race to cut emissions,” said Stephanie Gray, Energy Strategist at Solar Citizens.

“The Morrison government is failing to deliver a responsible plan for minimising the worst impacts of climate change, so Queenslanders have to depend on the State government to step up and fill the federal policy vacuum.

“Releasing the Climate Action Plan website was a good first step, but much more heavy lifting has to be done, particularly in the energy sector.

“Burning fossil fuels like coal is the biggest source of climate pollution but the government has no plans to retire their six state-owned coal stations early, which will make achieving emission reduction targets an uphill battle.”

The Queensland government has committed to zero net emissions by 2050 and an interim target to reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Two coal stations in Queensland are slated for as long as 2051, including state-owned Callide C.

In the Queensland Climate Transition Strategy released in 2017, one of the key actions outlined was ‘demonstrate leadership by reducing emissions from Queensland Government operations’, and yet the State government owns two of the biggest polluters in Australia: CS Energy and Stanwell Corporation.

“The energy sector is by far the biggest polluter in Queensland, accounting for about 40% of emissions. We simply can’t be serious about climate action without planning for early coal retirements,” said Ms Gray.

“When the world’s spotlight falls on Queensland in 2032 we want to show off our incredible natural assets like the Great Barrier Reef and the best way to do that is becoming leaders on climate action.”

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Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

See how Queensland is progressing on emissions reductions targets here: https://www.des.qld.gov.au/climateaction/emissions-targets

New Regulations Threaten Clean Energy Funding

29th July 2021: New Regulations Threaten Clean Energy Funding

Solar Citizens has condemned the Morrison Government’s latest attack on clean energy funding today.  

The Federal Government has today introduced new regulations to expand the remit of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to allow investment in a broader range of “low emissions” technologies, beyond the agency’s intended renewable scope. Similar regulations introduced in May were disallowed by the Senate. 

“Angus Taylor is trying to turn the Australian Renewable Energy Agency into a fossil fuel slush fund, said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director.

“The Australian Renewable Energy Agency can already invest in the technologies we need to lower emissions: renewable energy backed by storage. 

“This is just the latest attempt by this Government to undermine clean energy funding and use it to prop up dying fossil fuel projects.

“These regulations could open the door to renewable energy funding being used to prolong the life coal and gas with unproven carbon capture technology, or investment in dirty hydrogen.

“Similar regulations were rejected by the Senate just a month ago. Taylor is once again trying to misuse his power as Energy Minister to sidestep normal law-making processes.

“ARENA is key to the Government’s strategy to invest in clean energy technology and lower emissions. The remit change could stall emissions reductions even further, as genuine solar and wind projects lose out on already limited renewables funding.”

Solar Citizens advocates for the rights of millions of Australians with rooftop solar, and all Australians who support an urgent transition to 100% renewable energy.

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Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

Launch of Australia’s Biggest Community Campaign for Electric Transport

28 July 2021: Launch of Australia’s Biggest Community Campaign for Electric Transport

A new grassroots campaign will urge policy makers to accelerate the electrification of Australia’s cars, buses, trucks and trains to reduce transport emissions.

Launched by community group Solar Citizens, the Charge Ahead campaign will build on the successes that have made Australia a world-leader for residential solar.

“The success of Australia’s rooftop solar industry shows what is possible when governments incentivise consumers to make smart choices,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director.

“Australia lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to the transition to electric vehicles, but there are opportunities to turn this around so more people can share in the benefits of clean and quiet vehicles that are cheaper to run and maintain.”

The campaign will be launched at an online event on Thursday 29th July featuring electric vehicle (EV) champion Senator Rex Patrick, renewables researcher Professor Andrew Blakers and EV driver Jan McNicol.

The people-powered campaign will urge federal, state and local governments to take action to support EVs and slash growing transport emissions.

Roberts says that delaying the introduction of road user charges until more EVs are on the road is a priority, but politicians will be encouraged to look beyond passenger vehicles.

“There will be a time when road user charges make sense, but now they will just act as a handbrake on the transition to EVs,” said Ms Roberts.

“We want barriers removed to make electric vehicles more affordable for consumers, but also to grow the use of renewable energy in transport by electrifying bus fleets and repowering trains and trams with clean energy.”

All levels of government will be encouraged to use their buying power to electrify fleets, which in turn will stimulate the future second-hand EV market.

“The benefits of a thriving electric vehicle industry in Australia are far-reaching. Electric transport will play a crucial role in safeguarding the electricity grid by soaking up excess cheap solar energy,” said Ms Roberts.

“And importantly, Australia is well-placed to process minerals and manufacture parts for electric vehicles, like batteries. The growth of this industry will unlock huge economic opportunities and future-proof jobs for Australians.”

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For more details of the launch event see: https://www.solarcitizens.org.au/ev_campaign_launch

Learn more about the campaign at www.chargeahead.org.au 

Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

Results from Queensland’s Energy Survey Revealed

27 July 2021: Results from Queensland’s Energy Survey Revealed 

The latest Queensland Household Energy Survey, likely the biggest of its kind in the State, has been released showing that household solar, battery storage and electric cars continue to grow in popularity. 

The survey of over 4,300 Queenslanders, conducted for government-owned energy corporations in late 2020, shows a staggering 37 per cent of those polled have rooftop solar which is up from 33 per cent in 2019. 

Households with solar PV reported electricity bills that were on average $600 less per year than households without solar. Given this, it’s not surprising that 22 per cent of those polled are either looking to install solar or upgrade their solar system in the next three years. 

“Queensland’s thriving solar rollout is showing no signs of slowing down. Last year almost 90,000 solar systems were installed or upgraded across the state,” said Stephanie Gray, Energy Strategist at Solar Citizens.

While only 6 per cent of people currently have a household battery installed, 10 per cent said they wanted to install one within the next three years. Electric vehicles are a similar story, with only 3 per cent currently owning one but 35 per cent considering buying one within the next three years.

“This survey shows that there’s a real appetite in Queensland for battery storage and cleaner electric vehicles but cost remains a barrier to accessing these technologies,” said Ms Gray.

“This is where the state and federal governments can play a constructive role. By incentivising the rollout of battery storage and electric transport they can bring down the cost of clean technology to make it easier for more Australians to save money and do their bit for the environment.

“Governments played a key role in bringing down the cost of rooftop solar by incentivising uptake and now Australian homes and businesses are leading the world. It’s our great energy success story and we can do that again.”

The growing interest in cleaner technology comes as fewer people are concerned about electricity bills. Of those polled, 51 per cent said their level of concern about electricity bills was low while only 29 per cent said it was high. Average quarterly bills for Queenslanders fell from $345 in 2019 to $328. Eight per cent said that their electricity bills were actually credits due to an abundance of solar energy.

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Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

Summary of survey findings:

  • 37% had solar, up from 33% in 2019.
  • 6% had battery storage and 3% had an electric vehicle.
  • Average quarterly bill for a household with solar PV was $231, whereas it was $383 for a household without solar.
  • Surveying households with solar:
    • 12% want battery storage in the next three years
    • 31% are aware of community batteries and
    • 24% would like to go off grid.
  • 22% of the total respondents were either looking to install solar or upgrade their solar system in the next three years. 
  • Of the households with solar or that are planning to install solar, 60% said they installed solar to save on their bills and 30% wanted to do their bit for the environment.
  • 93% of solar owners said they would replace their solar system if it were to fail with a system of the same size or bigger.
  • 70% of solar owners take measures to shift more electricity use to the daytime when their solar system is producing electricity.
  • 34% of the total respondents said they want to install battery storage at some point and 10% said within the next three years. However, only 29% of those respondents are willing to pay $15,000 or more so cost remains a barrier.
  • Only 23% of respondents were familiar with community batteries but 22% of people said they were interested in them.
  • 35% of respondents are considering buying an electric vehicle in the next three years, however 53% of people who said that they are not considering an EV said that cost was a barrier. 

Full results available here: https://www.talkingenergy.com.au/qhes 

 

Nearly Half Regional Queenslanders Support Rapid Energy Transition

20 July 2021: Nearly Half Regional Queenslanders Support Rapid Energy Transition

A new survey of regional Queenslanders has found that 45.5 per cent of those polled support transitioning to a renewables-dominated grid at some point over the next 15 years. Nearly a third of people want the transition to happen faster, within the next 10 years.

The regional-only poll, which excluded Queenslanders in the greater Brisbane area and Gold Coast, showed that 52.1 per cent of people think the state government should develop a plan to move away from polluting energy and generate all Queensland’s electricity from clean sources like wind and solar.

More than 50 per cent of people agree or strongly agree that clean energy industries, like renewable hydrogen production, will be major employers by 2030.

The poll was commissioned by community organisation Solar Citizens, who say Queensland’s lack of a transition plan is fueling uncertainty in regional communities. 

“What’s interesting about the results is that, while there’s absolutely an appetite for more clean energy amongst regional Queenslanders, it’s younger people that were the most reluctant to transition our power supply,” said Stephanie Gray, Energy Strategist at Solar Citizens.

“I think this demonstrates that governments are not doing enough to show young people what the jobs of the future look like – there are actually really exciting economic opportunities that regional Queensland can benefit from as the world transitions to cleaner energy and electric transport. 

“Queensland is blessed with some of the world’s best solar resources, which can be turned into cheap and abundant energy to power renewable hydrogen production, and more local manufacturing and minerals mining.

“The energy transition doesn’t mean that Queensland will stop being a global energy powerhouse, we’ll just be producing a different kind of energy.”

A substantial 41.8 per cent of those polled would like to see the Federal government invest more in renewable energy, while 21.4 per cent are happy with the current level of spending. 

“Just around Townsville there are already several proposals to build renewable hydrogen facilities, battery manufacturing hubs and chemical processing plants underpinned by cheap, clean energy,” said Ms Gray.

“Governments need to back projects like this to create thousands of long-term jobs and show Queenslanders that these are our big economic opportunities moving forward.”

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Key results include:

  • 66.2% of people polled support the Federal government spending more (41.8%) on renewable energy or maintaining the current level of spending (21.4%).

  • 51.6% of people agree or strongly agree that clean energy industries, like renewable hydrogen production, will be major employers by 2030.

  • 52.1% of regional people polled support a transition plan that will pave the way for all of Queensland’s electricity coming from clean sources like solar and wind.

  • 45.5% of those polled support transitioning to a renewables-dominated grid at some point over the next 15 years, with 29.4% wanting the transition to occur even quicker and over the next 10 years.

Polling was commissioned by Solar Citizens and conducted by uComms on the 14th of July 2021. 
Sample size: 1,088
Who was polled: Eligible Queensland voters living in regional Queensland, which excludes the greater Brisbane area and Gold coast
Mode of polling: Automated telephone poll
Margin of Error associated with effective sample size: +/- 3.2%
Variables used in weighting: age, gender, regional QLD population distributions.

Queensland Government and Local Council Work Together to Progress Lansdown

12 July 2021: Queensland Government and Local Council Work Together to Progress Lansdown

Work on the Lansdown Eco-Industrial Precinct is moving forward with the Townsville City Council and Queensland Government agreeing to a roads and rail deal. 

“The State government is delivering on their pre-election commitment to provide key infrastructure funding that will help pave the way for Townsville becoming a clean energy manufacturing hub,” said Stephanie Gray, Energy Strategist at Solar Citizens.

“Townsville is moving ahead and showing the rest of Australia how we can future-proof regional economies and revive local manufacturing with abundant cheap renewable energy. 

“The local government is doing a great job attracting new industries to the region and there are already a number of renewable hydrogen, new economy mining, and battery manufacturing projects proposed across North Queensland.

“North Queensland has some of the world’s best solar resources, so unlocking this abundant cheap energy to power new export industries is a smart way to create jobs long into the future.

“But for these opportunities to be fully realised we need the federal government to also provide funding for key infrastructure. They’re still sitting on a large portion of the $195 million owed to Townsville under the City Deal. 

“The sooner this money is allocated, the sooner we’ll see jobs created on the ground.”

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Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

NSW Government Accelerating Clean Cars

20th June: NSW Government Accelerating Clean Cars

The New South Wales Government has today announced a $490 million package to drive electric vehicle uptake, a move celebrated by independent community group Solar Citizens.

The package includes a $3,000 upfront subsidy for 25,000 electric vehicles under $68,000 and waived stamp duty for vehicles under $78,000. The New South Wales Government will also invest $171 million on charging infrastructure and defer introducing road user charges for electric vehicles until 2027 or until EVs make up 30% of new car sales.

“It’s fantastic to see the NSW Government taking ambitious action to accelerate clean transport, said Solar Citizens' National Director Ellen Roberts.

“Helping drivers switch to electric vehicles is crucial for NSW to reach net zero emissions by 2050, as transport emissions are rising rapidly.

“Electric vehicles can run on cheap renewable energy and don’t produce pollution that harms our health and drives climate change. EVs can also provide valuable grid services by soaking up excess solar during the day and feeding it back into the grid when it’s needed.

“A policy vacuum has kept electric vehicles out of reach for many Australians.

"The NSW Government’s electric vehicle strategy shows it’s serious about tackling transport emissions. Introducing a $3,000 subsidy and deferring road user charges will help make electric vehicles more affordable for all drivers.

“Now we’d like to see other states and the Federal Government follow the lead of NSW and introduce these kinds of sensible and forward-thinking policies to encourage EV uptake”

Last year Solar Citizens launched a campaign representing electric vehicle owners and supporters to advocate for ambitious EV policies from NSW and other State Governments, including:

  • A state electric vehicle target
  • Upfront EV subsidies to help achieve price parity with ICE vehicles
  • Reducing motor vehicle duty and registration fees
  • Deferring road user charges until EV uptake is higher
  • Investment to fill gaps in charging infrastructure, and support homes and businesses to be EV ready

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Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694