The clean energy revolution isn’t a techno-fix – it needs to be guided by communities’ local needs

New piece in The Conversation

Context is everything

Under the previous federal government, Australia’s approach to emissions reduction was narrow and technology-centred.

The new Labor government – elected on the promise of climate action – has the opportunity to move to a community-based approach. This should ensure any new infrastructure integrates with people’s lives, values, and aspirations.

Such an approach requires proponents and funding bodies (both government and private) to genuinely listen to communities’ needs – right from the early design stage.

If local circumstances are not considered, a trial can be plagued with problems.

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Neighbourhood batteries in Australia: Anticipating questions of value conflict and (in)justice

We have a new paper published today in Energy Research & Social Science.

Highlights

  • Energy professionals and citizens hold diverse values on algorithm design, governance and the energy transition generally.
  • Differences in how values are interpreted and which values are emphasised suggest future points of conflict (and injustice).
  • Systemic issues raised both down and upstream of the technology suggest distributed responsability ill suited to centralised governance.
  • Our focus on responsibility and justice reorients the problem to re-design rather than accommodation.

Pre-print is freely available below and the published paper is available at https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1ely67tZ6ZxQoB

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Local network pricing and community storage a powerful combo: ANU

If networks could charge for localised use of their service, all customers in areas with high PV and community-scale batteries would pay lower bills … with no cost to the network, research shows.

Is rooftop solar a problem in the suburbs? Apparently so, with rising PV exports prompting falls in feed-in tariffs, plans for export charges in Adelaide and deployment of community-scale batteries in many cities.

As the grid transitions away from coal, it seems as though rooftop solar is part of the solution and part of the problem at the same time. Is there a simple solution that could see all that excess solar energy shared equitably and leave customers better off?

Yes, there is. Or there could be, if networks were allowed more flexibility in how they charge for their services.

Full story in ecogeneration

Feature on ABC TV Catalyst program – a childhood dream

ABC TV’s Catalyst program was one of my favorite TV shows growing up, so it was a bit of a dream to get to be a part of the recent episode about the transformation of the electricity system.

The episode did a fantastic job, covering a huge range of the interesting developments underway across the system and the country, explaining the crucial facts and trends, and presenting everything in interesting, engaging and understandable ways.

So, I’d highly recommend giving watching here https://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/the-grid-powering-the-future/13491654

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One Step Off The Grid – SuRF project announcement

A new project led by the Australian National University will assess the feasibility of transitioning regional New South Wales communities from grids exposed to bushfires and other natural disasters to a resilient network of islandable renewables and battery-based microgrids.

The Southcoast Microgrid Reliability Feasibility (SµRF) project was last week named as one of 20 projects around Australia to be awarded a share of $25.6 million in funding via round two of the federal government’s Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund.

The project is being led the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at ANU in partnership with the Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA), network company Essential Energy, and technology company Zepben.

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One Step Off The Grid – ANU Solar for Rentals

How can we share the benefits of rooftop solar with the millions of Australian who don’t own a roof?

In greater Sydney, alone, as One Step Off The Grid has reported, 2017 census data showed nine council areas had more than half of residents “locked out” of solar by their rental status. And in North Sydney, almost three-quarters of residents couldn’t access solar due to being renters or living in apartment buildings.

The quest to make solar available to renters in Australia is the focus of a new project led by researchers at Australian National University and will tackle the problem at a policy level, by providing governments with evidence of what interventions are likely to succeed.

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The Fifth Estate – Tackling solar for renters

A series of grants totaling over half a million dollars have been awarded to researchers from four institutions to delve into making Australia’s energy markets more fair and equitable.

“These projects have each demonstrated the potential to make significant positive impact in areas where consumers are currently not best served by the energy system,” Energy Consumers Australia chief executive officer Lynne Gallagher said.

With Australians who live in rental properties seven times less likely to have rooftop solar, researchers from Australian National University (ANU) have been granted $77,070 to discover and advise on what policies will best address the discrepancy.

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New project: Policies for solar for rentals

Exploring ways for renters to benefit from solar power and renewable energy transition is the focus of a new project at The Australian National University (ANU).

Led by Dr Lee White, Mara Hammerle and Dr Bjorn Sturmberg, the project, How can we involve renters in the renewable energy transition in Australia? has secured funding from Energy Consumers Australia.

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