29 April Trends in the Australian renewables market April 29, 2021 By Sally Parker Environment, General, Resources and Energy RenewableEnergy, COVID-19, Solar, Wind, Hydrogen 0 In its Australian Renewables Report 2021, MinterEllison looks at trends in the renewable energy market and identifies opportunities for the future. While the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted many markets, investor confidence in renewables has been maintained with 65% of investors saying they will increase investment over the next 24 months. Australia is particularly attractive to domestic investors and those in the Asia Pacific seeking to manage global volatility. More than half of the respondents also said that the pandemic didn’t impact their strategy thanks to how Australia managed to control the spread of the virus. There are several reasons that Australia is particularly attractive for investors including: With more solar potential than any other developed nation, 79% of respondents cited our favourable climate and topography. 74% of respondents cited greenfield opportunities as a significant positive to investing in Australia. This is thanks to the relatively low cost of acquiring land rights compared to other developed countries. Australian state and territory governments have also supported new and advanced renewables technology which is a drawcard for 67% of respondents. In addition the growth in ESG lending and investing is also encouraging for the industry, with many lenders actively decarbonising their portfolios. The favourable tax environment and rules-based legal system was cited by respondents as another drawcard, along with our political and regulatory stability. However, uncertainty around incentives for renewables was a detractor for 63% of investors. 86% of respondents believe that Renewable Energy Zones (REZ) are critical in facilitating further investment in renewables projects. At present, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have all committed to developing REZs to provide large-scale renewable energy generation and storage. The areas with the greatest opportunity include solar, wind and batteries with low risk and ability to provide reliable energy generation. 81% of respondents believe that hybrid solutions that combine wind, solar and storage have huge potential for Australia. Hydrogen also continues to grow in attractiveness as it becomes less risky. 69% of respondents believe that Australia has the potential to become a primary supplier of hydrogen to energy markets in the next two years. Interestingly, there is a divergence in opinions regarding fossil fuels. While 47% of respondents believe government is acting quickly to retire coal-fired power stations, 27% believe steps are not being taken. This may be in part due to different policies between the states and the relative importance that coal continues to hold for Australia economically - it is our second-biggest export. Looking forward, international investors, particularly from Asia Pacific and Europe, are expected to continue to play an important role in Australia. The most active investors are expected to be renewables developers according to 99% of respondents. Power producers and investment funds are also expected to play an important role in the investor landscape. The report demonstrates that, despite a global pandemic and significant climatic events, there continues to be significant opportunity in Australian renewables. Related Articles COMMUNITY LEGAL RIGHTS IN MINE CLOSURE PLANNING; A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THREE AUSTRALIAN STATES Professor Alex Gardner, University of Western Australia Law School, and Laura Hamblin, formerly research associate at the UWA Law School, 2021 Why does the Mining Act 1978 (WA) not provide secure legal rights for community consultation in relation to mining lease proposals and mine closure plans? Addressing this question presents an important theme for this comparative review of some core features of the regulatory frameworks for mine closure in three Australian States. It also raises important questions for future legal research. Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria have prominent but vastly different, and thus uniquely significant, mining industries. Western Australia’s mining industry has a long history of large and smaller scale mining of a diverse range of minerals by various methods that pose significant mine rehabilitation challenges.[i] Queensland’s mining industry is similarly large and diverse, dominated by export coal production, and planning future minerals development in a decarbonising world.[ii] Victoria has a smaller mining industry with a large historical legacy dominated by a coal mining industry for domestic electricity generation in the Latrobe Valley, which is closing as the State actively transitions to renewable power sources.[iii] These States also have significant differences in the regulation of their mining industries. What all three States do have in common is the significance of their mining industries to both the State economy and the communities who depend on or live near mining operations. Importantly, all three States are confronting large legal and regulatory challenges in managing mine rehabilitation and closure. The key to addressing these challenges is effective mine closure planning: the closure of a mine site has ripple effects that are not merely environmental and economic, but social and cultural too. The initial approval of a mine closure plan occurs before any mining has begun and, with the life cycle of a mine often spanning decades, regulatory bodies are approving hypothetical closure scenarios, potentially subject to vast changes. Regulatory bodies may then seek to enforce closure requirements enshrined in a plan that may wane in relevance as mining operations progress, the updating of which may depend on the miner. Yet remedying the regulatory system so that it creates adaptable but consistently effective mine closure outcomes for affected communities still begins at planning. Although that planning is an iterative process across the life of the mine, it is very important at the initial stage of approval. Recent legislative reforms in all three States are adding to the regulatory rigour and adaptability of mine closure planning, though there are very different legal requirements for community consultation. This article aims to explain and assess the regulatory reforms by undertaking a comparative analysis of mine closure planning across Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria, with a focus on the initial approval stage and how stakeholders and communities are brought into that process. The facilitation of continuous and comprehensive community engagement is critical to ensuring that mine closure planning accounts for environmental, economic, social, cultural and safety outcomes after mine closure, but it has not been possible to consider here the process of ongoing mine closure planning, especially for amending mine closure plans and determining satisfaction of mine closure plans leading to resource tenure relinquishment.[iv] The article begins by considering core concepts of mine closure planning and the regulatory goals that inform it. It then provides a comparative overview of each State’s mine closure planning requirements under the mineral resources, environmental and land use planning laws and draws out some of the different regulatory structures and processes for mine closure within each State. The third step in our analysis compares the ways in which those laws provide for local communities’ participation in mine closure planning, with specific attention to whether the regulatory provisions create legally enforceable rights for effective community engagement. The article concludes with a summary of the key points from the discussion of three themes in our analysis: (i) the importance of clear definitions of core concepts and key goals, (ii) mine closure planning as an essential part of a mining proposal, and (iii) the legal definition of community engagement and consultation rights. Mine closure planning and implementation is necessarily influenced by many other spheres of law including taxation law, investment law, water law, and the rights of traditional owners, to name a few. A potentially directly relevant Commonwealth law is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), which may require environmental impact assessment of a mining proposal and closure plan and lead to approval conditions supplementing State requirements.[v] Whilst acknowledging the importance of these adjacent spheres of the regulatory frameworks for effective mine closure planning, this article does not attempt to address their impact. In particular, the rights of Traditional Custodians are a crucial part of mine closure planning that are only briefly noted here and that would benefit from future research. WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, Major Commodities Review 2022-23”. Qld Government, Department of Resources, Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan, June 022. Vic Government, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy. See L Hamblin, A Gardner, Y Haigh, Mapping the Regulatory Framework of Mine Closure, May 2022, CRC TiME, for a broader exploration of the full life cycle of mine closure regulation. In Buzzacott v Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities  FCAFC 111; (2013) 214 FCR 301, , -, referring to the range of approval conditions, which included mine closure. In setting conditions under the EPBC Act, the Commonwealth Minister must consider any relevant conditions under State or Territory law: at  citing Lansen v Minister for Environment and Heritage (2008) 174 FCR 14. Victorian and Western Australian State Budgets In recent weeks we’ve seen both the Victorian and Western Australian Governments deliver budgets for their State. Both have included significant investments in the energy and resources sector. In Victoria, the budget has signalled the importance of the mineral industry to regional development. Victorian mines directly contribute $510 million into the state economy in 2020-21. Dealing with market volatility in the oil and gas industry The oil and gas industry is experiencing unprecedented volatility since prices slumped in March following the collapse of the OPEC+ supply pact. In the past week alone oil prices have reached historical lows with West Texas crude reaching approximately -US$40 a barrel in future trades. Volatility has been driven by reduced output from Russia quickly followed by lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This is impacting economic growth across the world, with the OECD already lowering its global economic growth estimate for 2020 from 2.9% to 2.4%. The longer the outbreak continues, the greater the decline in global growth and the corresponding fall in demand for energy. What to expect from the new Australian government? In May, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) achieved a majority government while the Greens and independents hold the balance of power in the Senate. This signals a new era for Australia, with voters clearly putting climate change high on the agenda for the next three years. ARELJ Article- Market Substitution, Climate Change and Coal Royalty Revenue in Queensland and NSW: Filling the Void ARELJ - Case Note - Australian Offshore Petroleum Regulation: Defining and Protecting the National Interest Showing 0 Comment Comments are closed.