Energy, resources and environment - Quarterly update
Landmark laws to unlock hydrogen and renewable energy
- The South Australian government has introduced the Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Bill 2023 (Bill) to streamline and coordinate the development of hydrogen and renewable energy projects.
- The Bill is the nation’s first legislative framework designed to provide a coordinated approach to the burgeoning hydrogen and renewable energy industries. It seeks to simplify existing regulatory processes and reduce bureaucratic hurdles, creating a more investor-friendly environment conducive to large-scale hydrogen and renewable energy development led by the government.
- A pivotal aspect of the legislation is land access. On freehold land, project proponents will be required to secure access through direct agreements with landowners, preserving existing arrangements. In contrast, for pastoral land and state waters, the Bill introduces a competitive system for granting access and licenses, allowing responsible assignment of access to some of the state's most promising areas for renewable energy development.
- The Bill introduces five distinct license categories, each tailored to specific stages of renewable energy projects. These categories encompass feasibility research, construction, operation, and closure of facilities, as well as the development of hydrogen generation facilities and associated infrastructure.
- Tom Koutsantonis, MP, South Australian Minister for Energy and Mining said, "Developing this unique regulatory framework will provide significant opportunity for South Australia to attract and retain high quality investment, confirming us as a global leader in the clean energy transition."
- To read the South Australian Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Bill, please see here.
Port Bonython Hydrogen Hub
- Port Bonython is set to become South Australia’s first large-scale export terminal for hydrogen following the finalisation of a grant agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments.
- Port Bonython was identified as an export hub for both green and blue hydrogen during the development of South Australia’s Hydrogen Export Modelling Tool, which was released in October last year. Located in the Upper Spencer Gulf, the site features more than 2,000 hectares of available land and access to an existing deepwater port comprising a 2.4km long jetty, which has been approved for a $37 million state government-funded upgrade.
- The two governments are jointly investing $100 million to build the export infrastructure at Port Bonython, which will create regional jobs and bring Australia another step closer to becoming a renewable energy superpower.
- The redeveloped Port Bonython is expected to host projects worth up to $13 billion and projected to generate as much as 1.8 million tonnes of hydrogen by 2030.
- For more information on the Port Bonython development, please visit here.
$75 million dollar boost to support renewable energy in First Nations communities
- The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has allocated $75 million in grant funding to support the development of renewable energy microgrid projects in First Nations communities as part of a broader program to deliver cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable energy to communities across regional and remote Australia.
- Remote First Nations communities are often heavily reliant on fossil fuels, particularly diesel, as their primary energy source. This funding aims to address the unique obstacles that remote communities encounter when shifting towards renewable energy resources and promote the wider implementation of microgrid solutions.
- To view the full ARENA media release, please visit here.
South Australian Government declares copper a critical mineral
- The South Australian Government has declared copper a critical mineral for the state, country and world as economies seek to decarbonise.
- Copper is critical for new technologies, particularly those associated with electrification, and demand for copper globally is forecast to significantly outstrip currently available supply as the world’s economies increasingly shift to electrification.
- By introducing copper to its critical minerals strategy, South Australia follows similar-minded jurisdictions such as the European Union, Japan, India, China, Canada, and the USA, which have all added copper to its 2023 Critical Materials Assessment, reflecting the growing importance of energy transition technologies.
- In the June state budget, the South Australian Government committed over $2 million funding to a new Copper Taskforce. The Taskforce will work alongside our state’s copper producers and explorers and develop a long-term strategy to grow the state’s position as a global copper heavyweight.
- Importantly, South Australia commits to continue advocating strongly for the inclusion of copper on the national Critical Minerals list. An official Commonwealth listing would be a powerful acknowledgment of the importance of copper to global markets, providing further opportunities for investment and helping drive the exploration and development activity needed to ensure our state benefits from the opportunity to supply copper to the world.
- For more information, please visit the Department of Energy and Mining website here.
Release of Exposure Draft ED SR1 Australian Sustainability Reporting Standards – Disclosure of Climate-related Financial Information
- The Australian Accounting Standards Board has released Exposure Draft ED SR1 Australian Sustainability Reporting Standards (ASRS) – Disclosure of Climate-related Financial Information to propose climate-related financial disclosure requirements.
- The Exposure Draft is based on the International Sustainability Standards Board’s (ISSB) first two Sustainability Disclosure Standards. ASRS 1 and ASRS 2 (as named in the Exposure Draft) are based on the ISSB’s IFRS S1 and IFRS S2.
- The Exposure Draft also includes “ASRS 101 References in Australian Sustainability Reporting Standards”, developed as a service standard that would be updated periodically to list the relevant versions of any non-legislative documents published in Australia and foreign documents that are referenced in the ASRS.
- The Exposure Draft is available for comment until Friday, 1 March 2024.
- A paper released by the Australian Federal Treasury proposes that following implementation of the Exposure Draft, consequential amendments be made to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) by 1 July 2024. It is also anticipated that implementation of these changes will be staggered, with the new requirements first applying to large publicly listed and unlisted companies and financial institutions, with others being added over time.
- For more information on the Exposure Draft, please see here.
Proposed offshore wind zone in Bass Strait off Northern Tasmania
- The Commonwealth Government is currently seeking feedback on the suitability of an area within the Bass Strait for offshore wind development.
- The potential zone will support thousands of jobs (both during the construction phase and after) and represents an opportunity to boost Australian supply chains and local economies.
- The Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, said, “the Bass Strait is renowned for its offshore wind resource – and this potential zone could transform Tasmania into a new clean energy powerhouse, spurring investment in Tasmanian communities, providing energy security for decarbonising heavy industry and creating thousands of jobs”.
- Minister Bowen will consider the public submissions, with any feedback to be submitted by 31 January 2024.
For more information on the Bass Strait offshore wind zone public consultation, please visit here.
This article provides general commentary only. It is not legal advice. Before acting on the basis of any material contained in this article, seek professional advice.
The authors would like to thank lawyer Stephanie Maurangi for her assistance with this article.