29th September 2022: Aussie battlers missing out on car savings
Today, the reinstatement of the full fuel excise will see the vast majority of drivers hit hard at the petrol pump, because of Australia’s decade-long delay on electric vehicle (EV) policy, says clean transport advocacy group Solar Citizens. This comes on the rescheduled World EV Day, and a day after the government opened a consultation on their upcoming National EV Strategy.
“When the cost of living is increasing, wage growth is stagnating, and now the fuel excise is back in full effect, more and more people will be looking to a second hand car market rather than new cars. But many of these second hand cars are still inefficient gas guzzlers,” says Clean Transport Campaigner Ajaya Haikerwal.
Haikerwal created Solar Citizens’ popular EV Savings Calculator, which demonstrates the disparity between fueling a petrol car at today’s costs with the far cheaper charging costs of an EV from grid energy or home solar.
“The results are shocking – petrol cars are up to 45 times more expensive to fuel than EVs charged purely on home solar. At a time when most people are paying between $60 and $160 a week on petrol, this might leave some feeling betrayed by the government.
“People on lower incomes spend a greater proportion of their income on vehicle costs, meaning that they have the most to benefit from EVs which we have proved are cheaper to fuel and have negligible maintenance costs.
“But the lack of supply in Australia means we aren't getting enough affordable or second hand EVs, so most people are locked out of the savings an EV allows. There are 26 models available under $60,000 in the United Kingdom, but only 8 here. That's just not fair, and we reckon it’s un-Australian.
“We need policies that will see Australians from all walks of life brought along in the EV transition, to alleviate transport cost stress for households. This starts with implementing a globally competitive Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Standard – a key feature of yesterday’s National EV Strategy discussion paper.
Solar Citizens says that a strong Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Standard, free of loopholes, incentivises manufacturers to bring a range of affordable EVs to the country and stimulates a robust second hand EV market, increasing consumer choice for all Australians.
“Australia’s flatlining progress on EVs is a legacy of the last federal government, who vilified EVs, saying they would end the weekend. But nothing destroys the weekend more than having to take a second job to cover rising fuel costs,” said Haikerwal.
Rachael Hansen works in the tourism industry in Victoria, which was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since fuel prices started skyrocketing earlier this year, she has had to carefully monitor her spending, and limiting how far she travelled.
“I had to be really conscious of not using my vehicle and spending money on fuel: my car went from $55 a tank to $110 a tank. I need to drive to get to work, that's my necessity,” said Hansen.
Rachael painted the stark reality of the trade offs that Australians are having to make day-to-day, such as paying for the fuel to make long trips to see friends living further afield.
“I’ve got two really close friends that live on the Mornington Peninsula – it pretty much costs me a tank of fuel to get me there and back,” she said.
“So I waited until I did alright in tips at work, and decided that’s what I’d spend my tip money on that week – petrol. That’s a bit sad, because normally it’s coffee money or drinks money, but now it’s going back into the household. It’s money I have to rely on to pay for things.”
Rachael seemed nervous with the fuel excise coming back in full effect today – the high costs she had been paying for petrol included the discount. Faced with the prospect of buying an affordable EV in the future, Rachael thought this would be ideal and would work for her lifestyle.
“Currently I’m only driving 40 mins to an hour each way, so I guess I could charge it at home or at work. If it was something that was affordable I would definitely change to an EV.”
When Rachael tried out the Solar Citizens EV Savings Calculator, she was blown away by the differences in cost.
“Damn that’s a lot of money! When can I buy an electric car?” she quipped.
Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal (0400 723 324)
28 September 2022: Queensland Powers Up Renewables in New Energy Plan
Solar Citizens today welcomes the release of Queensland’s 10-Year Energy Plan and the State’s increased renewable energy target of 70 per cent by 2032. The Government estimates that household retail bills will be $150 lower in 2032 than they otherwise would have been due to today's announcements.
“Queensland’s new Energy Plan is a significant step forward for the Sunshine State that will help unlock abundant, cheap renewable energy to bring down power bills and make it competitive for new clean manufacturing industries to set up shop in Queensland,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.
“A stronger renewable energy target and the planned repowering of the State’s coal-fired power stations to clean energy hubs by 2035 is great news for transitioning communities and our environment.
“Our existing coal-fired power stations have strong grid connections so it’s clever to turn them into renewable energy hubs to save on infrastructure costs. It’s also great news for local communities that jobs will be replaced onsite.
“The Queensland Government’s ongoing commitment to maintaining majority public ownership of our electricity generation, and the additional $2.5 billion announced today for building new publicly-owned renewable plants, means that we can transform our energy system in a planned way that stimulates jobs in communities that need it.”
The Energy Plan also includes two massive pumped hydro infrastructure projects; the Borumba Dam project and the Pioneer-Burdekin project.
“We’re going to need a significant amount of storage to repower Queensland’s energy system, so it’s good that the Queensland Government is planning ahead and investing in these projects now as they take several years to build,” said Ms Gray.
“Pumped hydro is a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to powering the State with 100% clean energy, but like all projects we need to make sure that the sites selected are the least impactful to the environment and our waterways.”
What’s in the plan:
Coal out of Queensland’s energy mix by 2037 and all publicly owned coal-fired power stations operating as clean energy hubs by 2035.
The State Government has announced an additional $4 billion in funding, including:
$2.5 billion to build publicly-owned renewable energy, adding to the existing $2 billion Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs fund;
$270 million to progress two pumped hydro projects (the Borumba Dam and Pioneer-Burdekin pumped hydro projects);
$285 million to start building the SuperGrid;
Powerlink will invest $365 million for grid upgrades in Central Queensland;
$200 million Regional Economic Futures Fund;
$150 million Job Security Guarantee to support workers in publicly owned coal-fired power stations;
$20 million to supercharge Queensland’s renewable hydrogen hubs;
$4 million to advance the bioenergy sector;
$42 million for integrating electric vehicles;
$35 million for a business savings and transformation program;
$11.6 million to grow local supply chains and support manufacturers;
$90 million to establish two new regional transmission and training hubs;
$10 million Queensland Microgrid Pilot Fund.
New projects that will be funded under the Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs fund include:
The Tarong West wind farm;
The Banana Range wind farm;
A new 200 MW hydrogen peaking plant at Kogan Creek.
Queensland will be on a pathway to reach 60% renewables by 2030, and 70% by 2032.
Electricity emissions 90% lower than 2005 by 2035-36.
A new Queensland Energy System Advisory Board will be created to review the plan every two years from 2025.
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425 543 006
28 September 2022: National Electric Vehicle Strategy unlocks path forward for zero emissions transport
Solar Citizens today welcomes the Federal Government’s National Electric Vehicle Strategy consultation process, stating that this shows that the government is genuine in its commitment to zero-emissions transport.
“After almost a decade of stalling, pit stops and roadblocks on Australia’s electric vehicle (EV) policy, it’s refreshing to see a genuine consultation process open – this is indeed a step in the right direction,” said Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner at Solar Citizens.
“With the fuel excise subsidy coming off tomorrow, this consultation could not come at a better time. Australian households are paying more than ever for fuel. Having access to affordable EVs, with Australian-made batteries and components, charged from cheap, clean renewable energy would do wonders for the hip pocket and our climate.
“The discussion paper presents some challenging topics to consider, and we’re pleased to see that the government is taking this process seriously, with pointed questions around supply, equity, subsidies, manufacturing and charging.
“Critically, there are five questions around the most important EV policy required to get up to speed with the rest of the world – Fuel Efficiency Standards. This policy is a low-hanging fruit that will see a wave of affordable EVs being brought into the country, increasing consumer choice and reducing our emissions, but only if it’s designed correctly, without loopholes.”
Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal (0400 723 324)
27 September 2022: Victoria Charges Up with Key Storage Target
Solar Citizens today welcomes the Victorian Government’s announcement of a State-wide Renewable Energy Storage Target and calls for a similar federal policy.
Victoria has pledged to reach 2.6 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy storage capacity by 2030, with an increased target of 6.3 GW of storage by 2035, which the Victorian Premier’s office announced is “enough renewable energy to power aroundhalf of Victoria's current homes at their peak energy use”.
“Adopting a Renewable Energy Storage Target is a smart move by the Victorian Government. More storage means we can capture and utilise cheap renewable energy around the clock while maintaining grid reliability,” said Heidi Lee Douglas, National Director of Solar Citizens.
“Australia is at an energy crossroads. We can create a fairer, cheaper energy system now for current and future generations, which is why we are now calling on the Federal Government to also invest in more clean energy storage.
“Right across the country, we urgently need to bring online much more storage, including household and large-scale batteries and pumped hydro plants, to bring down power prices and prepare the grid for early coal closures.
“It’s been made clear by the Australian Energy Market Operator that it’s likely that 60 per cent of Australia’s coal-fired power stations will close by 2030. We need to significantly increase the rollout of energy storage to support this shift.
“If we manage the transformation of our grid well it will mean cheaper, cleaner electricity and more households taking the power back from big energy companies by having access to solar and household storage.
“The Victorian Government has already shown a significant amount of clean energy leadership with their Solar Homes Program. Solar homes in the state can already access battery rebates of up to $2,950.
“We’d like to see the Australian Government match Victoria’s leadership by implementing a federal Renewable Energy Storage Target that includes support for Australia’s millions of solar owners to install a battery and store their own cheap solar energy, enabling Aussie’s to utilise our great sun-power in the evenings. This will also encourage more householders to take up solar ownership”.
For more information contact: Heidi Lee Douglas, National Director Solar Citizens: 0401 092 570
21 September 2022: Ark Energy Announces Massive NQ Clean Energy Hub
Solar Citizens today responds to news that Ark Energy will develop a 3,000MW renewable energy hub near Collinsville by 2030.
“There’s currently about 3,000 MW of large-scale solar and wind projects operating in Queensland, so today’s announcement by Ark Energy represents a doubling of the State’s large-scale clean energy capacity,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.
“The biggest renewable energy project operating in the State right now is the 450 MW Coopers Gap Wind Farm and construction is starting on the 1,000 MW Macintyre wind precinct.
“This is an exciting step towards Ark Energy achieving their goal of becoming a major global renewable hydrogen exporter right here from North Queensland.
“To realise their goals of having a 3,500 MW hydrogen production facility in Townsville by 2040, Ark Energy will need access to at least 7,700 MW of clean energy generation.
“Research shows that Northern Queensland is the cheapest place in the country to produce renewable hydrogen because the region has such good co-located solar and wind resources. It’s a no-brainer to turbocharge clean energy investment here.
“Ark Energy is just one of several businesses that are looking to set up or expand clean industry in North Queensland. We’d like to see the Australian and Queensland governments work together to support these businesses by establishing Townsville as Australia’s first Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct – a hub for renewable-powered manufacturing and industry.
“We need a planned vision for turning the whole region into a clean energy manufacturing powerhouse so we’re getting it right and investing in the infrastructure and workforce training the region needs.”
Thursday 15 September 2022: Australians’ Love of Utes Shows Need for Strong Vehicle Pollution Standards Across the Board
Today’s report by the National Transport Commission clearly shows we need strong and consistent fuel efficiency standards (FES) for all cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles, says clean transport advocacy group Solar Citizens. The report indicates that, despite a tripling of electric vehicle (EV) sales, new car emissions are continuing to rise in part because of increasing SUV and ute sales.
“Australians love their utes, and the market is already responding to the demand for a right hand drive EV ute,” says Solar Citizens Clean Transport Campaigner Ajaya Haikerwal.
“When electric utes arrive in Australia, we know that people will embrace them. Demand for EVs has never been higher and when Australians can pair their love of utes with the petrol and pollution savings of an electric model, they will leap at the opportunity.
“We're pleased that the Albanese Government has committed to investigating fuel efficiency standards – the key policy to accelerate the supply of affordable EVs and bring down transport emissions.
“Now we need to ensure that the standards we bring in are strong enough – without the loopholes that the petrol car lobby is calling for,” said Mr Haikerwal.
“Given the purchasing trends uncovered in today’s report, it's clear that we cannot have two different standards for cars and for SUVs and light commercial vehicles like utes, as the petrol car lobby is demanding. Failing to have strong pollution standards for Australia’s favourite vehicles will cause us to fall even further behind the rest of the world.
“With strong fuel efficiency standards we will see more and more EV options being available in Australia. New Zealand went from three to ten percent of new car sales being EVs in just under a year, after they introduced their FES equivalent, the Clean Car Standard.
“Petrol prices are affecting Australians from all walks of life – nurses, retail workers, tradies and office workers alike. No matter what car we have, if it's using petrol it's hurting our hip pockets. Addressing the supply issue of EVs with fuel efficiency standards will bring a range of EVs to the country and give people the opportunity to buy the electric car that suits them the most.”
Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal 0400 723 324
8 September 2022: A Higher RET would be a Win for Queenslanders
Solar Citizens this morning responds to claims in The Australian that the Queensland Government is considering a higher renewable energy target in their upcoming 10-Year Energy Plan.
“We really encourage the Queensland Government to go beyond their 50 per cent by 2030 renewable energy target to keep up to speed with the rest of the country and maximise opportunities in new clean export markets,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.
“At the moment Queensland is only getting about 20 per cent of our energy from renewables, while other states are rushing ahead, like Tasmania that operates on almost 100 per cent renewables and South Australia running at 66 per cent.
“Over the last year Queensland has had the highest wholesale electricity prices in Australia's main grid because we rely the most on globally expensive fossil fuels.
“An analysis we undertook with the Queensland Conservation Council found that Queensland could easily meet the 50 per cent renewable energy target five years early in 2025 due to the number of renewable projects likely to proceed across the State.
“Getting on with the transformation of our energy system will not only bring down wholesale power prices, it will also set the Sunshine State up to capitalise on clean manufacturing and export industries.
“We analysed a number of clean industry proposals around Townsville, which include solar panel and battery manufacturing and renewable hydrogen production, and found that these projects will create an extra 3,600 MW of demand in the region. The State Government must keep enabling more renewable energy projects to come online so projects like these have access to affordable energy.”
Last week Solar Citizens released polling of the Townsville Local Government Area that found:
55% said Queensland should aim to be fully powered by renewable energy by 2032 when the State is set to host the world’s first climate positive Olympics.
85% support the Townsville region becoming a hub for renewable-powered industry and manufacturing.
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006
6th September 2022: Australian Households feeling transport costs, electric vehicles could save thousands
Released today, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Monthly Household Spending Indicator shows that in July, spending related to transport was a record high at an increase of 35.4%. Solar Citizens have today released an Electric Vehicle Savings Calculator, showing how much households could save by switching to electric vehicles.
“Australian households are feeling the pain of soaring petrol prices acutely, yet we could have avoided this if we had secured a stronger supply of affordable electric vehicles years ago”, said Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner at Solar Citizens.
“When we recently surveyed over 1,700 of our supporters, the vast majority told us that they are very concerned about how rising petrol prices are impacting their cost of living, and 64% are interested in purchasing an electric vehicle sometime in the next three years,” said Haikerwal.
Solar Citizens has developed an Electric Vehicle Savings Calculator, to help consumers find out how much cheaper it is to run cars through home solar or the electricity grid than it is to run an equivalent petrol car.
As an example, Risyad Abmar, a 27 year old nurse from Melbourne is currently paying an extra $200 each month on petrol. He calculated that if he switched from a Kia Sportage to an equivalent Kia EV6, he could expect to save nearly $20 for every 100km – over $2,000 in a single year of driving.
“Household transport costs have ballooned since April this year, and people are really feeling the strain. Today’s ABS data tells us that unless we can help Aussies make the switch to an EV, transport costs will continue to drain our wallets and bank accounts, and line the pockets of Russian oil barons.
“Petrol prices have rocketed sky-high since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Everyday Australians are paying the price for our dependence on a volatile international fuel supply, whereas if we had EVs—especially those charged on home solar—we wouldn’t be dangerously vulnerable to foreign oil prices and availability.
“We have the biggest uptake of solar energy per capita in the world, and running electric cars via home solar is a no brainer, and can be up to 98% cheaper than paying petrol prices.
“We made a tool that will help anyone see the facts and figures about why making the switch to an EV would really help their hip pockets in the long term.
“Our calculator demonstrates that if Australians could get their hands on EVs, they could slash their transport costs by hundreds of dollars each year by utilising grid energy, or even better – using the sunshine hitting their solar panels on their own roofs.
“Because of the stalling of successive Federal Governments and sabotage from the petrol car lobby, we are yet to see our fair share of affordable EVs in the Australian market. We need globally competitive Fuel Efficiency Standards within the next year to ensure we have our place in the global queue.
Fuel Efficiency Standards are widely regarded as the key policy measure to securing a supply of EVs in Australia. We are one of four G20 countries not to have implemented this policy.
Media Contact: Ajaya Haikerwal (0400 723 324)
31 August 2022: AEMO Forecast Confirms Aussie Homes Need Battery Subsidy
Released today, the Australian Energy Market Operator’s 2022 Electricity Statement of Opportunities supports the federal government in implementing new policies to drive the uptake of home batteries.
“The AEMO report identifies a clear gap in federal government planning - they urgently need to provide support for home battery storage to minimise risks to our national electricity market”, said Solar Citizens National Director Heidi Lee Douglas.
Solar Citizens is campaigning for a policy like a Renewable Energy Storage Target, which would provide a rebate on home batteries including electric vehicles with vehicle-to-grid capacity.
“Australia already has the biggest uptake of home solar per capita in the world. So it just makes good financial sense to marry our home solar with home batteries, as this eases pressure on our electricity grid and saves money for consumers.”
“With AEMO’s news that Snowy 2.0 is now 2 years behind, the Albanese government can get a quick win for everyday Australians, addressing the cost of living and energy crisis, by providing incentives for behind-the-meter storage. This will also help to continue to drive our uptake of home solar.“
“Being energy independent helps the hip pockets of everyday Australians who will save money on power bills, rather than leaving them vulnerable to gas and coal energy price rises and unpredictability.”
“AEMO forecast cites “the importance of policy and consumer support for demand side solutions, and the increased requirement for utility-scale solutions should these forecast solutions not materialise.” In plain English that means if we consumers don’t get support from the government for home batteries, the government is going to need to look at more large-scale battery storage being built”.
“Our recent survey of 1700 Australians found that people overwhelmingly want cheaper clean technology solutions like solar, electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries to help bring down their bills. But many households are still facing barriers. “
“Nearly half of those surveyed with solar panels are saving a whopping 70% or more on their power bill - or are usually in credit. But just 20% have a home battery despite half of the solar owners wanting one. Most said that the cost is keeping batteries out of reach for now, and the majority wanted a $3000 government subsidy to enable them to afford home batteries”.
“That’s why we’re calling for measures that will help make batteries more affordable – like a battery storage target similar to the highly successful Renewable Energy Target.”
Media contact: National Director Heidi Lee Douglas, 0401 092 570
Solar Citizens' petition calling on the Federal Government to roll out affordable battery storage can be found here.
29 August 2022: North Queenslanders back rapid renewable transition
New polling of the Townsville Local Government Area has revealed that a staggering 85 per cent of residents support the Townsville region becoming a hub for renewable-powered industry and manufacturing.
The poll of 610 Townsville residents was conducted by UComms for community group Solar Citizens. It also found 55 per cent agree that new clean energy industries, like producing renewable hydrogen, will be major employers across regional Queensland by 2030.
“Businesses are lining up to start manufacturing clean products in Townsville because of the region’s impressive solar and wind resources, and good port facilities,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.
“Already there are significant plans to begin producing renewable hydrogen and manufacture battery materials and solar panels locally. These polling results clearly show that the community supports projects like these to power long-term good jobs.
“It’s now up to the State Government to make sure these proposed projects proceed. They can do that by announcing plans to turn Townsville into a clean manufacturing hub and ensuring enough cheap renewable energy is coming online locally to meet growing demand.”
This polling comes as the Queensland Government is developing a 10-Year Energy Plan that will plan for the State’s energy system up to 2032 when Queensland will host the world’s first climate positive Olympics. The plan is expected to be released in the coming months.
When polled, 62 per cent of local residents agree the Queensland Government should develop a plan to generate all our electricity from clean sources like wind and solar. Fifty five per cent said Queensland should aim to be fully powered by renewable energy by the 2032 Olympics.
Similarly, 55 per cent agree the Queensland Government should be spending more on renewable energy.
“Queensland is well behind other Australian states as we only generate about 20 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources. Our reliance on expensive coal and gas means we have the highest wholesale power prices in Australia’s main grid,” said Ms Gray.
“The irony is that we have some of the country’s best solar and wind resources, especially in North Queensland where we get more than 300 days of sunshine. Building more renewable energy here is a no brainer.
“We’d like to see the Queensland Government deliver a sensible plan to urgently transform our energy system with affordable renewable energy. Only then will Queensland be competitively positioned to make the most of our potential to power new clean manufacturing industries.”
55% agree or strongly agree that new clean energy industries, like producing renewable hydrogen, will be major employers across regional Queensland by 2030. 75% of Labor voters agree or strongly agree.
85% strongly support or support the Townsville region becoming a hub for renewable-powered industry and manufacturing.
62% agree or strongly agree the Queensland Government should develop a plan to generate all our electricity from clean sources like wind and solar.
When asked what the deadline should be for moving to a renewables-powered grid, the most common answer was 10 years or less (35%), followed by 10-15 years (22%).
Similarly, 55% said Queensland should aim to be fully powered by renewable energy by 2032 when the State is set to host the world’s first climate positive Olympics.
55% agree the Queensland Government should be spending more on renewable energy.
Rhian first began working as an electrician in North Queensland’s sugar industry and later took work closer to home at the Sun Metals’ zinc refinery in Townsville.
In 2018, Sun Metals commissioned a 124 MW solar farm to help reduce the running costs of the refinery. For Rhian, the move to working in renewable energy was an exciting opportunity to learn new skills and progress his career. When the opportunity came up, he leapt at the chance to work on the development of the solar farm.
Rhian is now employed by Ark Energy, Sun Metals’ sister company, as the Operations and Maintenance Manager for the solar farm. Impressively, today the solar farm produces the equivalent of a third of the refinery's energy needs.
“Ark Energy felt like the perfect fit for me. There is so much room to learn new skills and grow into the future,” said Rhian.
“Working in renewable energy is great because it’s ever-evolving. I’m never bored. I’m always learning and I love it.
“I have two young boys and it will be great for them to grow up knowing that their dad was involved in the transition to cleaner energy.”
Ark Energy, a subsidiary of Korea Zinc, has progressive plans to develop a 3,500 MW renewable hydrogen facility in Townsville by 2040. In 2030, they are aiming to have established a 900 MW electrolyser, which will require up to 2,200 MW of renewable energy generation to run.
Rhian is one of the Ark Energy teammates who is working to establish a renewable hydrogen pilot at the zinc refinery site. The renewable hydrogen fuel generated from the project will be used to power five new fuel-cell electric trucks.
Ark Energy's mission is to become the safest and most competitive producer of green hydrogen in the world and Townsville is at the heart of their plans.