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In the Media

SEN Comments on BHP looking to divest fossil interests

SEN Treasurer Michael Allen has appeared in the media recently commenting on BHP looking to divest it's petroleum interests to meet emissions targets. He was quoted in The West Australian on July 26 (https://thewest.com.au/business/energy/bhp-exit-from-oil-and-gas-would-be-clever-ng-b881944028z), The Guardian on August 17 (https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/aug/17/bhp-to-shift-oil-and-gas-assets-into-woodside-petroleum-as-part-of-major-overhaul), and had an Opinion piece in The Canberra Times on the same day (https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7388928/resources-industry-must-clean-up-its-act-or-get-out-of-the-way/).

In the Media

Did you know that SEN has featured in a number of publications and Chair, Ian Porter quoted? 

The following is an extract from the Guardian feature Tuesday 20 July 2021 

A shocking failure’: Chevron criticised for missing carbon capture target at WA gas project

The Western Australian environment minister is seeking an explanation after the energy company fell short of its five-year target.

The energy giant Chevron has conceded its self-described world’s biggest carbon capture and storage (CCS) project has failed to meet a five-year target for burying carbon dioxide under an island off Western Australia.

Climate campaigners believe the company should be heavily fined after it acknowledged on Monday that it had not met a requirement to capture and inject underground at least 80% of emissions from a gas reservoir over the first five years of the Gorgon liquefied natural gas (LNG) development

The Western Australian environment minister, Amber-Jade Sanderson, said through a spokesperson that she had called Chevron in for a meeting “to seek an explanation of how the company intends to address the issue”.

An analysis last year suggested Chevron could face a bill of more than A$100m if required to offset all emissions that breached its approval requirements.

Chevron Australia, which operates the Gorgon facility on behalf of partners including Shell and ExxonMobil, issued a statement saying it was “poised to reach a significant milestone” of injecting 5m tonnes of greenhouse gas more than 2km beneath Barrow Island since sequestration belatedly began in August 2019.

The company’s Australian boss Mark Hatfield said this showed the company was “deploying technology, innovation and skills to deliver cleaner energy and reduce our carbon footprint”.

“The road hasn’t always been smooth, but the challenges we’ve faced and overcome make it easier for those who aspire to reduce their emissions through CCS,” he said.

Hatfield said the company would work with the WA regulator on how to “make up the shortfall”, which he did not quantify. Chevron Australia would release a report on the issue later this year, he said

Ian Porter, a former oil and gas industry executive who is chair of the advocacy group Sustainable Energy Now WA, said the report was likely to find the project had captured only 30% of what it was supposed to.

He said the report would be a “major test case for CCS technology”, which the Morrison government is backing as one of five priorities under what it calls a “technology, not taxes” approach to emissions reduction.

“It’s a shocking failure of one of the world’s largest engineering projects,” Porter said.

“Chevron needs to face significant fines and be forced to offset the more than six million tonnes of unauthorised legacy carbon dioxide releases.

“I sincerely hope CCS does work one day. Ultimately, we need it. But until that time, it is reckless and disingenuous for the industry to keep pretending that it can expand operations and reach net zero.”

Angus Taylor, the federal energy and emissions reduction minister, last year referred to Gorgon as an example of CCS “already working”, describing it as “the biggest project in the world”.

The $3bn development, which received $60m in federal funding, has had a troubled history. It was initially delayed for more than three years due to technical setbacks and the CCS system stopped working properly earlier this year following a problem with a pressure management system.

Under its terms of approval, the development was expected to capture and bury about 4m tonnes a year to meet a target of sequestering 80% of reservoir gas across a rolling five year period.

The company was not required to capture emissions released during LNG processing. It means a fully successful CCS facility would reduce total emissions from Gorgon by only about 40%.

Official data shows the Gorgon facility has twice breached its initial emissions limit under the safeguard mechanism, a federal government policy that was promised to cap industrial carbon pollution but has allowed continued increases.

When the scheme started in 2016-17, Gorgon’s annual emissions limit – known as a baseline – was 8.34m tonnes of CO2.

Separate official data from the Clean Energy Regulator shows Chevron was responsible for more than 10.2m tonnes of CO2 in 2019-20, making it Australia’s eighth-biggest emitter.

 


Media Release

Why is it so bloody hard to bring renewable energy projects to fruition in WA?

MEDIA RELEASE

PERTH, 31 May 2021

Last week in a public meeting held by renewable energy thinktank, Sustainable Energy Now, it was revealed that there were no commercial sized Renewable Energy (“RE”) projects in development or construction in the SWIS (Southwest Interconnected System), the equivalent in Perth of the NEM in Eastern Australia.

This position in 2021 (in a world beset with global warming) and the reasons behind it, were the focus of discussion in the meeting.

Sustainable Energy Now hosted three senior energy executives to answer this question. Together, they represented the entire spectrum of the energy industry with combined experience in utilities; commercial project development; system planning and engineering; and leading-edge renewables development.

Geoff Glazier, Managing Partner at Merz, Richard Winter, General Counsel and Company Secretary, Solar River Project and Rod Hayes, Chairman of Balance Group, gave their views and answered audience questions in an open, challenging, and positive session moderated by Sustainable Energy Now.

In addition to the shocking status, the biggest take away from the discussion was that there is an absence of a commercial structure that supports new energy.  So, even though there are investors and funds available, being unable to forecast how much energy would be allowed to be input to the system stops any investment.

How can you enter an energy provision contract with Aldi, for example, if you do not know how much energy you are going to be allowed to sell to Aldi in future years?  If you do not know how much energy you will be able to sell, how do you know how much revenue you will generate?  It is impossible. 

What has brought about the current situation?

It was noted that rather than rules changing to make it easier to add clean RE into the system, the opposite has happened, making it harder.  Contracts and rules have changed from just a few years ago when you could at least forecast how much energy you would be allowed to be paid for.

The SWIS market is now the opposite of countries which offer clear conditions of investment, the ability to provide steady energy supply and be paid for it.  After all the complaints about intermittent energy supply from RE, even steady energy supply is not guaranteed to be allowed to be transmitted in the current system, and rules can change any time, destroying investments. Participants noted that no sensible RE investors want to participate in such a system.

Right now, Western Australia provides no support and has no plan to bring RE onto the SWIS system. 

While it may seem like RE is just being forced to compete on a level playing field, unlike the current energy providers, new energy providers have no idea how long the current rules will last for them and have no idea how much energy they can sell.  The system absolutely supports current electrical generation, no matter what emissions may be and no matter what costs may rise to in the future.  So, the recipients of electricity supply on the SWIS, from monopoly supplier Synergy, cannot choose cleaner power and are stuck with any increase in fossil fuel costs as has been happening.

In addition to the above, new energy applications are not exactly fast tracked.  The slow progress of network connection applications and agreements often means that offtake commitments have lapsed before construction can begin.  It is no surprise then that WA is not attracting the elite RE providers in the world to set up an office.

While it was agreed that a carbon price is an obvious missing factor, the current rules are a more subtle way of making sure RE projects do not go ahead in WA in 2021.

It was noted that, though it’s easy to understand the drive to ensure that the system must keep the lights on, in a climate emergency, other drivers should also influence the challenge of connecting renewable generating assets.

Sustainable Energy Now has been watching as the transition to RE is generating masses of well-paid highly skilled jobs in the rest of the world.  To have that occur in WA needs a commitment to a transition and changes to the underlying laws and rules which support that.

The result of the current position, having undermined RE, rather than enabled it, is that the next commercial RE project is many years away.  Getting big projects up and running does not happen overnight.


Policies

SEN Policies Required for 2021

December 2020

SEN believes the following four policies need to be immediately implemented to ensure a rapid transition towards net zero emissions as we head toward the WA state election in March:

  1. Long-Term Planning For A Major Energy Change Is Needed
    Changes to the sources of energy in WA from the transition to renewable energy (RE) will be the biggest change since the arrival of the Internet and cannot be allowed to occur with little to no planning, if we want to see good results.
  2. WA Should Target A Renewables-Led Jobs Recovery
    Cheap, reliable, and abundant renewable energy that creates thousands of jobs and decarbonises our economy should be an easy target. There is plenty of data to show that transitioning through construction and operational management of new RE projects will provide many jobs.
  3. Gas Producers Should Measure Their Emissions To Give Accurate Data
    Producers must be held accountable for the carbon and methane pollution that occurs during exploration, extraction, processing and shipping but the first stage is accurate information on how much is produced.
  4. WA Should Get Its Fair Share Of Federal Infrastructure Funds And Use Them To Help Fund The Transition
    While Snowy 2.0 is being funded by the federal government for the eastern states, similar projects are not being funded in the West. There is a need to negotiate a better deal for WA. Federal funds could be used to strengthen the Western Power network in areas where cheap renewable energy can be added to ideal locations.

Report

SEN Jobs Report 2020

14 September 2020

This report identifies new jobs resulting from the transition to Renewable Energy (RE) within the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) system. Our modeled transition to 90% RE by 2030 (including rooftop energy behind the meter) determined the following direct jobs:

  • 55,100 job-years (2020-30) with an average of 5,000 jobs per annum
  • 8,600 FTE jobs in 2030 of which approximately 2,700 would be ongoing operations and maintenance jobs
  • Approximately 50-60% of the jobs created can be in regional areas

Download the report

 


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SEN promotes practical, affordable strategies for a sustainable global future by the adoption of renewable energy. SEN is a dynamic and independent WA association.