Energy and natural resources update – first quarter of FY2020/21

24 September 2020

Peter Kupniewski, Chris Floreani and Nicole Mead summarise some key developments for businesses operating in the energy and resources sector.

  1. Government releases Low Emissions Technology Statement

On 22 September 2020, the Federal Government released the Low Emissions Technology Statement, which forms part of the Technology Investment Roadmap, and sets out five priority goals:

  • clean hydrogen;
  • energy storage;
  • low carbon materials such as steel;
  • carbon capture and storage (CCS); and
  • soil carbon.

Low Emissions Technology Statements will be released annually, and signals the government’s low emissions technology investment priorities to the research community, industry and investors.


  1. Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round

On 20 July 2020, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced that seven entities have been invited to apply for ARENA’s Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round, worth $70 million.  Invitees include Woodside Energy Ltd, BHP Billiton Nickel West Pty Ltd and Australian Gas Network Ltd, with projects located in Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria.  ARENA expects that each project will be powered by renewable energy and aims for its funding to assist to bring the price of renewable hydrogen down to prices competitive with other forms of energy available in Australia.


  1. AEMO’s Integrated System Plan

On 30 July 2020, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) released its 2020 Integrated System Plan which aims to provide a roadmap for the improved supply of energy to Australia’s east coast.  The AEMO engaged in extensive stakeholder consultation to produce the plan which recommends a diverse portfolio of energy sources such as grid-scale wind, solar, pumped hydro, batteries and gas that can support a centralised coal-fired generation system. 


  1. South Australian Draft Mining Regulations

On 17 August 2020, the South Australian Government’s Department for Energy and Mining (DEM) released to the public for consultation its final of three sets of draft regulations to the Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Act 2019 (SA).

The latest set of draft regulations relate to the operating approvals process in South Australia.  Consultation on these regulations has now closed, and are intended to be released prior to 1 January 2021.


  1. Consumer Data Right

On 8 July 2020, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released its rules framework for how the consumer data right (CDR) will apply to the energy sector.  

The CDR allows consumers to review and provide their data to accredited third parties. The ACCC intends for the CDR to create competition in the energy market by helping consumers to compare providers and identify a more affordable service.  The CDR is currently operating over some of the data held by entities operating in the Australian banking sector and is a continued focus for the ACCC. 


  1. Radioactive Waste Agency

On 23 July 2020, the Federal Government announced the establishment of the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA).  ARWA will be responsible for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility to be located in South Australia.  ARWA will be an independent agency from waste producers.  SACOME’s media release about the establishment of ARWA is available here.


  1. Climate change litigation

Two actions have been filed in the Federal Court seeking to hold the Australian Government responsible for climate change risks:

  • a representative action commenced by university student Katta O’Donnell which seeks declarations that the government has failed to disclose the risks that arise from climate change to investors in Australian Government Bonds. The action also seeks an injunction to prevent further promotion of the bonds until the government complies with its disclosure obligations;
  • a class action against the Federal Minister for the Environment asserting that the Minister has a duty to protect young people from the impacts of climate change, and that allowing the Vickery Extension Project (a coal project) to be built would breach that duty.



This article provides general comments only. It does not purport to be legal advice. Before acting on the basis of any material contained in this article, we recommend that you seek professional advice.



Peter Kupniewski, Principal in our Corporate Team

Direct Telephone:  +61 8 8210 2223


Chris Floreani, Senior Associate in our Transactions Team

Direct Telephone:  +61 8 8210 2251


Nicole Mead, Associate in our Disputes Team

Direct Telephone:  +61 8 8210 2270