Media - Solar Citizens

Media Releases

EV Charging for Regional QLD Welcomed, But More Needed to Drive EV Uptake

16 June: EV Charging for Regional QLD Welcomed, But More Needed to Drive EV Uptake

The Queensland Government’s announcement today of $2.75 million to expand the state’s electric vehicle network is a positive move, but more is needed to help Queenslanders afford a cleaner car, says independent community group Solar Citizens. 

The new charging sites will expand Queensland’s Electric Super Highway with 18 additional charging sites in regional areas. 

“Electric vehicles are a win-win for Queenslanders, they can run on cheap clean renewable energy and slash emissions that are harmful to our health and the climate, said Solar Citizens National Director Ellen Roberts. 

“Today’s announcement of more regional charging sites is a welcome move to unlock more of the state for emissions free driving, but it doesn’t address the biggest barrier which is cost.

“Having enough charging sites is crucial once drivers are on the road, but the reality is many Queenslanders can’t yet afford an EV in the first place.

“Other countries are seeing a huge increase in drivers switching to EVs by bringing in incentives to lower the cost, but Australians are being left behind.

“States have the opportunity to lead the way on the transition to clean transport, just like they’re leading on clean energy”

“Electric vehicles are cheaper to run and maintain and can provide valuable grid services by soaking up excess solar during the day, so they should be a no-brainer here in Queensland where we have record rates of rooftop solar.

“It’s great to see Transport Minister Mark Bailey recognising the importance of making electric driving more accessible. Now we’d like to see Queensland follow the lead of states like Victoria and Queensland and do more to make electric vehicles affordable for all.”

“It’s encouraging to see the Queensland Government seeking public consultation on their EV strategy so Queenslanders can have their say and we look forward to participating.”

[ENDS]

Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

Renewables Key Winner in Queensland Budget

15 June: Renewables Key Winner in Queensland Budget

Funding for renewable energy is a key pillar in the 2021-2022 Queensland Budget, a move that is commended by community group Solar Citizens.

“The Queensland government has shown in this budget that they’re ready to take the first steps towards turning the Sunshine State into a clean energy superpower,” said Ellen Roberts, National Director at Solar Citizens.

“Investing in more publicly-owned solar, wind and storage is a sensible move that will unlock future-proof clean energy jobs and pave the way for more local manufacturing.

“Queensland’s mineral resources mean we’re well-placed to produce clean technology, like storage batteries, materials for electric vehicles and renewable hydrogen. 

“Government investment in clean energy and electric vehicles is a key component needed to kick-start renewable manufacturing because it creates a local market for these products.”

Today’s budget also comes as a report from the Queensland Conservation Council finds that Queensland’s state-owned coal generators won’t be profitable after 2024. 

“We’ve just seen in the headlines this morning that by 2024 Queenslanders will be forking out to keep state-owned coal-fired power stations afloat because they’re rapidly becoming unprofitable. 

“Allocating $2 billion for more publicly-owned renewable energy and storage will help diversify the state’s energy mix but we’ll need a lot more investment to replace unprofitable coal stations.”

A new analysis commissioned by Solar Citizens found that replacing Queensland’s 7.2GW of state-owned coal generation with 100% renewable energy would require 7.1GW of solar PV and 10.1GW of wind capacity as well as 4GW/ 103GWh of supporting energy storage.

The budget includes:

  • A further $1.5 billion for the Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Fund to build publicly-owned renewables. 

  • $22 million for a feasibility study into pumped hydro at Borumba dam.

  • $2.75 million to expand Queensland’s Electric Super Highway with an additional 18 charging stations.

[ENDS]

Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694 

Regional Queenslanders to See Bills Slashed Thanks to Renewables

11 June 2021: Regional Queenslanders to See Bills Slashed Thanks to Renewables

The Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) has today confirmed that regional Queensland households will see regulated retail electricity prices decrease by 7.3% for a typical customer from July.

“The influx of cheap solar and wind energy is driving down electricity prices for all regional Queenslanders,” said Stephanie Gray, Energy Strategist at Solar Citizens.

“Yesterday we saw the Queensland government allocate a further $1.5 billion dollars to build and operate new clean energy projects and it’s announcements like this that will keep Queenslanders seeing savings for years to come.

“Queensland has some of the world’s best solar resources, and in North Queensland, some of Australia’s best wind resources that tend to blow in the afternoon and evening when the sun is going down. 

“Moving forward abundant and clean renewable energy can be one of Queensland’s key competitive advantages and help turbocharge more local industries and manufacturing.

“The next step is for the State to invest in more clean energy storage, like big batteries or pumped hydro, so that none of this cheap solar energy goes to waste and we can be powered by renewables around the clock.”

[ENDS]

Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006

More information from the QCA report can be found here.

Renewable-Powered Trains a Welcome Step on the Road to Clean Transport

11 June 2021: Renewable-Powered Trains a Welcome Step on the Road to Clean Transport

The NSW Government has today announced that the state’s train network will be powered with renewable energy by 2025, a move welcomed by community group Solar Citizens. 

“Powering transport with cheap renewables is a clean energy trifecta: it’s good news for the climate and the health of our communities, and it stimulates demand for more solar and wind projects to come online,” said Hannah Mitchell, Campaigner at Solar Citizens.

“We know that strong action is needed to slash Australia’s transport pollution because it’s harmful to our health and is a major driver of climate change.

“Today’s announcement shows real leadership, but it’s also just the first step on the road to slashing pollution from the transport sector.

“We’d like to see the NSW government now go up a gear and accelerate the switch to electric vehicles. 

“Electric vehicles don’t produce any harmful pollution and they can provide valuable grid services by soaking up excess solar energy during the day.

“Australia has lagged behind the rest of the world on electric vehicles, but now we’re starting to see states like the ACT and Victoria step up to provide incentives for their uptake. 

“It’s encouraging to hear that Transport Minister Andrew Constance’s vision is for all vehicles to be electric. To make that vision become a reality the NSW Government now needs to put in place policies to make cleaner cars more affordable and accessible for everyone.”

[ENDS]

Media contact: Hannah Mitchell 0427 036 182

$2 Billion Windfall for Publicly-Owned Renewables Celebrated

10 June 2021: $2 Billion Windfall for Publicly-Owned Renewables Celebrated

Today the Queensland government has announced $2 billion for government-owned corporations to build, own and operate new renewable energy and storage projects, a move that is celebrated by community group Solar Citizens.

The Electrical Trades Union, Queensland Community Alliance and Solar Citizens have all been campaigning for additional funding for publicly-owned renewable energy before the upcoming State budget. The $2 billion has been allocated to the Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs Fund.

“The Queensland government has listened to the community and is acting on their commitment to keep the majority of Queensland’s electricity supply in public hands,” said Ellen Roberts, National Director at Solar Citizens.

“This $2 billion in funding will benefit all Queenslanders by helping to drive down the cost of electricity while ensuring that state-owned energy assets keep delivering returns to Queenslanders for decades to come.

“Right now we’re seeing Queensland’s coal power stations struggling to remain profitable as more cheap renewables come online, so the smartest thing the State government can do is diversify and invest in the next generation of energy.

“Investing in clean energy storage, like battery storage, pumped hydro and renewable hydrogen, can create thousands of regional jobs and unlock cheap solar energy at all hours of the day.

“More storage will also ease congestion on the grid so that Queenslanders can keep installing record rates of rooftop solar on their homes and businesses.

“The Queensland government has demonstrated with this announcement that they’re thinking ahead and planning for a prosperous future for Queenslanders.”

A new analysis commissioned by Solar Citizens found that replacing Queensland’s 7.2GW of state-owned coal generation with 100% renewable energy would require 7.1GW of solar PV and 10.1GW of wind capacity as well as 4GW/ 103GWh of supporting energy storage.

$2 billion in funding is enough to build approximately:

 

  • 1,700MW of new large-scale solar; or
  • 1,140MW of new wind; or
  • 860MW of new pumped hydro

 

[ENDS]

Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694 

Ellen is available in Townsville today to make comment.  

Victoria Stands Strong Against the Sun Tax as Other States Sit on the Fence

9 June 2021: Victoria Stands Strong Against the Sun Tax as Other States Sit on the Fence

The Victorian government has doubled down on their opposition to the Australian Energy Market Commission’s (AEMC) proposal to allow solar export charging, saying that enabling export pricing is not justified at this time. 

In a new submission to the AEMC, the Victorian government requests that state and territory governments get the final say before solar owners can be charged in their jurisdictions. 

In their submission, the Victorian government goes further by saying, “It is not clear why a charge that dissuades export of low-cost clean energy will deliver a net positive outcome for consumers.”

“We’ve seen Victoria, Queensland and now New South Wales indicate that they don’t want to see Australia’s solar homes and businesses slogged, but we’re yet to hear a clear position from Tasmania and South Australia,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

“This proposal by the AEMC is shaping up to be a nightmare to implement. States will all have different rules and apparently consumers are meant to be charged differently depending on the time of day.

“How are consumers meant to keep up and respond to pricing signals? How are retailers going to pass on new network charges, when there’s no requirements outlined in the proposal? All of this is up in the air.

“It’s not clear at all how this complicated, and potentially costly, process of applying varying export charges will work in practice.”

Earlier this week Matt Kean told the AAP, “I don't want to see NSW households who have installed rooftop solar in good faith unfairly penalised”.

Queensland’s Energy Minister Mick de Brenni also shared his concerns with the AAP, saying, “these draft rules were proposed by a privatised network in South Australia to clean up a mess that was created by mismanaged private networks”.

He went on to say the new rules “could see a charge slapped on any household who wants to export their solar power into the grid”.

In Tasmania’s submission to the AEMC, they also supported a flexible approach that would allow jurisdictions to apply the National Electricity Market rules differently. 

[ENDS]

Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694
Submissions are available on the AEMC website here.

Solar Citizens Welcomes Borumba Hydro Feasibility Announcement

8 June: Solar Citizens welcomes Borumba Hydro feasibility announcement

Solar Citizens today celebrates the Queensland government’s announcement that they’ll be investigating new pumped hydro in Queensland at the Borumba dam. 

The community group says investing in pumped hydro is essential as the grid transitions. 

“Investing in clean energy storage like pumped hydro is kicking the energy transition into the next gear – it means we can utilise cheap solar energy all day and night,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director. 

“Queenslanders are world leaders in the uptake of rooftop solar, but we’re starting to see cheap solar energy going to waste during certain times of the year because it’s not all getting used.

“Renewable storage options like pumped hydro and big batteries are smart investments that soak up excess solar energy during the day, making the most of cheap solar energy and ensuring grid stability.

“Diversifying Queensland’s energy assets is exactly what energy experts have been calling for in the wake of the Callide C coal-fired power station fire.

“We look forward to a full assessment of the project’s environmental impacts.”


[ENDS]

Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694



Plan to Charge Solar Homes Splits States, Disliked by Consumers

7 June 2021: Plan to Charge Solar Homes Splits States, Disliked by Consumers

A plan to charge homes and businesses with rooftop solar panels has received push back from state governments and now consumers, with a new poll showing 57 per cent of people disagreed with the proposal even if they don’t have solar panels themselves. 

The proposal put forward by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) would allow homes and businesses with solar to be charged for putting their excess solar energy into the grid. 

Both the Victorian and Queensland governments have signalled they don’t support the plan that would affect the hip pockets of millions of Australian households, but other state governments like New South Wales haven’t yet made their position clear. 

“We’ve just commissioned polling in New South Wales that shows a staggering 59.2 per cent of people who want to install solar would be less likely to if this charge is allowed to go through,” said Ellen Roberts, National Director of Solar Citizens.

A representative sample of over 1,000 NSW residents were polled, 53.7 per cent of whom didn’t have solar.

Of those polled, 43.7 per cent said they’d be more likely to vote for a political party that opposes the plan to charge solar households, with 33.3 per cent saying their vote wouldn’t change.

“The New South Wales government is an influential state and they have a lot of power to make this ‘sun tax’ go away if they follow in the footsteps of Victoria and Queensland. It’s important that they make their position clear,” said Ms Roberts.

“Australia is a world leader in household solar and it’s these millions of Aussies that are doing the heavy lifting and substantially cutting Australia’s pollution.

“We want to see the small-scale solar industry continue to thrive because cheap solar energy is driving down electricity prices for everyone while powering a cleaner energy system.

“We fear once these charges are in place they’ll derail Australia’s uptake of clean solar energy.”

In a previous submission to the AEMC the Victorian government said, “The Victorian Government does not support export charging, as the case for implementing this element of the proposed reforms has not been demonstrated at this time.”

Queensland’s Energy Minister Mick de Brenni told the Brisbane Times, “My department is preparing a response to the proposal and I expect it will indicate that system-wide measures, especially investment in more storage, will encourage more solar and are preferable to the proposed rule change.

The AEMC is expected to make an announcement of their decision in July. 

[ENDS]

Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

Solar Industry, Solar Consumers and Independent Experts Warn of NEM Fragmentation if Solar Exports Rule Change Goes Ahead

3 June 2021: Solar Industry, Solar Consumers and Independent Experts Warn of NEM Fragmentation if Solar Exports Rule Change Goes Ahead 

A proposal to charge solar homes and businesses for exporting their excess energy to the grid has been opposed in a joint submission by key stakeholder groups, including the Smart Energy Council, the Australia Institute and Solar Citizens. 

The joint submission to the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) was also signed by Professor Bruce Mountain of the Victorian Energy Policy Centre and innovative solar sector leaders Alex Georgiou, CEO of ShineHub, Dr. Mike Wishart, CEO of EcoJoule Energy and David Hiley, Director of WATTever.

“Allowing network companies to charge solar owners for exporting their clean energy is a big call and we have not been presented with anywhere near enough evidence to show that it’s required,” said Ellen Roberts, National Director at Solar Citizens.

"States like Queensland and Victoria have signalled they don’t support export charging, so if this rule change goes ahead we’re likely to see a piecemeal and messy application across the National Electricity Market. 

“There are, however, some really important parts to the AEMC’s proposal. We support it being formally recognised that networks provide an export service, and there absolutely needs to be increased transparency around when static zero export limits are being imposed on solar customers. 

“We need to make sure that network companies are embracing solar exports and exploring all options for increasing the grid’s hosting capacity.”

In the submission it’s argued that the proposal by the AEMC might not even reduce the network costs paid by non-solar customers, as is intended. There are no requirements in the rule change proposal for how electricity retailers pass on additional network costs to consumers. 

The submission states that in Queensland, Distribution Network Service Providers Energex already charge solar customers extra, but in many cases, this charge is passed on to non-solar customers by retailers. 

“The growth of rooftop solar has been the most constant national success story in energy and climate in Australia. This rule change will undermine that progress and put in place a messy regime that might not even be implemented uniformly across states,” said Dan Cass, Energy Regulatory Lead at the Australia Institute. 

“There is a huge amount of value in household PV, batteries, electric vehicles, demand response and other distributed energy resources. What is needed now is a clear roadmap from the Energy Security Board for DER integration and economic regulation.”

The submission calls for trials of clean technology to be expedited and used to inform market design work. “Inverters with dynamic operating envelope capabilities, smart electric vehicle chargers and community batteries are smarter solutions to DER integration than export charges,” it states. 

Submissions to the AEMC have now closed. Over 1,300 solar citizens lodged a submission to oppose the introduction of export charging. 

The AEMC is expected to make the final determination in July. 

[ENDS]


Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694 

The full submission can be read here.

Victoria's EV Tax Keeps One Foot on the Brake

25th May 2021: Victoria’s EV Tax Keeps One Foot on the Brake

The Victorian Government’s electric vehicle tax will keep Victoria in the slow lane on electric vehicles.

Legislation to introduce road user charges for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles passed today, a move that was condemned by community group Solar Citizens.

“Australia is already lagging behind on electric vehicles, and introducing this tax now will only slow down EV uptake even more, said Solar Citizens’ National Director, Ellen Roberts.

“Electric vehicles are the future: they can be powered with clean solar and wind power, and are cheaper to run and maintain.

“It’s disappointing that the Victorian Government has gone ahead with this premature tax, while the rest of the world is bringing down the costs of EVs to encourage people to make the switch.

“If the Government wants to reach its own target of net zero emissions by 2050 then 100% of vehicle sales need to be electric by 2035, but right now we’re at less than 1%.”

“We should be helping more people to afford cleaner, cheaper to run cars, not making them even more expensive.

“The Government took an important step forward by announcing a $3,000 subsidy and a 50% EV target, but this tax is a big step backwards.

“This EV tax will add up to $5,000 to the cost of an electric vehicle, at time when they’re still unaffordable for many Victorians”

[ENDS]

For comment call Ellen Roberts on 0408 583 694