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Category Archives: Climate Change

Government Funding for Energy Projects

The Commonwealth and State Governments currently have many programs to support businesses in improving their power usage and efficiency. The following grants provide either direct funding or credits for energy audits and programs to reduce emissions.

The Emissions Reduction Fund is open for all eligible Australian businesses wanting to reduce their carbon emissions. Participants in the scheme can earn Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) for every tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent they store or avoid emitting by using new practices and technologies. These ACCUs can then be sold to generate income for your business.

New South Wales’ Energy Savings Scheme provides businesses with financial incentives to reduce their energy consumption by installing new equipment or modifying a current system. Savings will be converted into Energy Saving Certificates (ESCs) which are sold to an electricity retailer.

South Australia offers businesses and not-for-profit organisations the Resource Efficiency and Productivity (REAP) Grants. This program provides a 50% subsidy for resource efficiency and productivity assessments to consider circular economy options including electricity efficiency. An additional $10,000 is available on successful completion of an assessment to kick-start implementation of the recommendations.

Funding of $150,000 is available for Tasmanian Businesses to carry out energy audits on business operations and buildings in the state through the Power$mart Businesses program.

ACT has two grant programs: The Next Generation Energy Storage (Next Gen) Program and ACTSmart Business Energy and Water Program which provide businesses with rebates when installing battery storage systems or upgrading to more energy-efficient and water-efficient technologies and equipment.

The Smarter Business Solutions Program offers grant funding incentives of up to $20,000 for Northern Territory enterprises to adopt efficient, innovative technologies and best practices that will reduce their energy, water, waste and material costs.

If your business is interested in further information on any of these grants, or would like assistance completing an application, please contact the Equilibrium team on (03) 9372 5356 or at info@equil.com.au

Be sure to stay up to date with our blog posts to get updates on Government grants.

NGER Reporting is Now

It’s time to start to gather your data again and report in line with the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) scheme.

With reports due on 31 October it doesn’t leave much time for determining if your organisation is required to submit a report and if you do, that all of the information you provided meets the requirements of the Act and its subordinate legislation.

Given the current situation it may be that your reporting boundary has changed and your company no longer meets a facility or corporate group threshold for any of the reporting criteria.  You might also need to review your activities and determine the operational control over these activities and your facilities. See the guideline for more information.

The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) provides helpful clarification about reporting part year operational control and what organisations need to consider when there are instances of acquisitions, disposals or mergers within the reporting period.

All energy consumed and produced by facilities that are under the operational control of the organisation must be reported which in turn allows the CER to identify scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions.  Other activities including fuel combustion and potentially, depending on your industry, refrigerant gas emissions also need to be considered and reported.

If you are a new reporting entity, familiarising yourself with the methods provided by the CER with identifying emissions sources can save time before preparing your report, particularly if some of the data sources are estimated.

In addition to the links provided, The CER has developed an EERS User Guide and many other guidance documents to assist reporters in complying with their NGER obligations. Visit Clean Energy Regulator for these resources.

Equilibrium can also assist with your NGER reporting, so if you require any information or support, please contact the Equilibrium team on (03) 9372 5356 or at info@equil.com.au

NSW Grants for Solar Panel Reuse and Recycling

The NSW Government is investing $10 million to help improve environmental performance by diverting end-of-life solar panel systems from landfill, with the first round of grants now open.

Although current waste volumes are relatively low, this emerging waste stream is expected to rapidly increase over the next decade as installed systems reach their end-of-life. In NSW it is forecast that this waste stream could generate up to 10,000 tonnes per year by 2025 and up to 71,000 tonnes per year by 2035.

EPA Director Circular Economy Kathy Giunta said the investment in recycling through this Circular Solar grants program would help NSW meet its commitment of net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

“While current amounts of waste are low, now is the time to invest in developing systems for collecting and recycling these valuable resources like scarce and rare metals, including lithium batteries.

“We want to recycle and re-use the materials in solar panels and battery systems as NSW transitions towards cleaner energy and this program is an important step in building a productive circular economy in NSW.

“It will see NSW well placed to manage waste solar systems over the coming years and will stimulate much needed job creation in the solar power and recycling sectors,” Kathy Giunta said.

The NSW Government is now inviting Expressions of Interest for grants to run trial projects that increase the collection, reuse and recycling of solar panel and battery storage systems. Applications for projects that trial whole of supply chain approaches to collecting and reusing and/or recycling can be made until 17 September 2020.

$2 million is available in this funding round, with the remaining funding to be made available following evaluation of this EOI process.

Scoping study

As part of the background to establishing the the circular solar trials fund, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment commissioned a scoping study (PDF 3.8MB) to assist in development of the EPA’s end-of-life solar programs. It contains information that may help organisations preparing EOIs, including:

> projected waste generation volumes
> materials that can be recovered from solar panels and batteries
> reuse and recycling technologies
> end-market opportunities

The study was conducted by the UTS Institute of Sustainable Futures and Equilibrium.

Don’t hesitate to contact the Equilibrium team on BH  (03) 9372 5356 if you need support or help in preparing an EOI for the grant program.

Be sure to stay updated on our blog page for future grant opportunities.

For more information visit https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/working-together/grants/infrastructure-fund/circular-solar-trials-expression-of-interest

Government Grants for High Energy Users

The Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources is providing businesses with grants of up to $25,000 to improve their efficiency through the High Energy Using Business Grants.

Opened Monday, the grant opportunity aims to support high energy using businesses to lower power bills and reduce emissions through:

> replacing existing equipment with higher efficiency equipment

> installing or replacing a component to help an existing system run more efficiently

> carrying out energy audits

> carrying out monitoring of energy use and emissions.

High energy using businesses are defined as those with annual net consumptions greater than 0.05 petajoules per year

Over $14 million is available under this grant opportunity, distributed between states and territories based on the distribution of relevant businesses nationally. Further information on the jurisdictional breakdowns, along with the grant guidelines, are available here.

Funding, between $10,000 to $25,000 per business, can be used for any of the actions above as well as for investing in feasibility studies for efficiency upgrades. Grants are available for 50% of the project expenditure, with the recipients responsible for the remaining 50%.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor highlighted that lowering power bills will help strengthen businesses’ resilience during these challenging economic times.

“Energy is a big part of the operational costs for businesses. Any support the Government can give to get those costs down will help businesses to invest, expand and employ more Australians,” Minister Taylor said. “The Morrison Government is working closely with business to create jobs and rebuild our economy”. The full media release can be viewed via the following link.

The Energy Efficient Communities Program, which was announced as part of the Government’s Climate Solutions Package in the 2019 Federal Budget, will deliver $40 million in grants to help businesses and community groups improve efficiency practices and technologies and better manage power consumption to reduce their power bills. Information on other streams is available here.

Applications for The High Energy Using Business Grants close on 24 September 2020.

If you are interested in the announcements or need assistance in assessing the opportunities, please contact the Equilibrium team on (03) 9372 5356 or at info@equil.com.au

Equilibrium often posts about new grants so be sure to follow our blog posts.

World Environment Day 2020 – Time for Nature

World Environment Day is the most renowned day for environmental action. Since 1974, it has been celebrated every year on 5 June; engaging governments, businesses, celebrities and citizens to focus their efforts on a pressing environmental issue.

At Equilibrium, we’re celebrating World Environment Day too.

The theme

In 2020, the theme is biodiversity–a concern that is both urgent and existential. Recent events, from bushfires in Brazil, the United States and Australia to locust infestations across East Africa–and now, a global disease pandemic–demonstrate the interdependence of humans and the webs of life in which they exist. Nature is sending us a message.

The community

Above all, World Environment Day offers a global platform for inspiring positive change. It recognizes that global change requires a global community.  It pushes for individuals to think about the way they consume; for businesses to develop greener models; for farmers and manufacturers to produce more sustainably; for governments to safeguard wild spaces; for educators to inspire students to live in harmony with the Earth; and for youth to become fierce gatekeepers of a green future.  It requires all of us.

The host

Every World Environment Day is hosted by a different country, in which official celebrations take place. This year’s host is Colombia in partnership with Germany.

Stay connected

This year, millions of people will be celebrating digitally, worldwide.

Sign up here to stay informed as we unite, for nature.

To stay informed by Equilibrium on all things sustainability, follow our media.

 

The Potency of Environmental Film Making

The power of film to inform, educate and activate is immense. Both photography and films have played a pivotal role in many environmental campaigns, mobilising the public and politicians to care and to act, not excluding Tasmania’s Franklin Dam project in the early 1980s.

Like many creative endeavours, environmental film-making has a long history of story-telling through the lens, and few other mediums are able to capture the imagination of the public like the moving image.

If film can make the world a better place then we need more creatives to fill the void through creative expression that connects us to our environment. From urban living and the metropolis through to natural and agricultural landscapes, the need to document, expose, celebrate and understand, has never been more crucial to how we understand the planet and ensure its protection.

The 2019 Environmental Film Festival Australia provides a very local yet globally connected vehicle through which such stories can be screened. In the words of the Festival organisers …

“EFFA is more than just a film festival – it’s a catalyst for positive and sustainable change.”

Complete with a comprehensive program of films, the Festival also features panel discussions and debates to get audiences talking and asking questions. EFFA runs from 24 October to 1 November at various cinemas in Melbourne, and is set to engage audiences in the most compelling way.

For an excellent summary of this year’s films and their significance look here.

As a Festival Friend Partner, Equilibrium is especially excited about EFFA 2019 and the films to be shared with Melbourne audiences. We believe that diverse mediums and forums are required to achieve and maintain a sustainable future, and story-telling through film is key.

The potency of film can be deeply impactful and positive, and EFFA’s role as contributor and educator is vital as we seek policies, programs and solutions that can make the world a better place.

Visit the EFFA website for more information about this year’s program and tickets. We hope to see you there.

Climate Change Authority seeks input on Australia’s commitments under the Paris Agreement

The Climate Change Authority has released a consultation paper on updating its previous advice to Government on policies to meet Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Since the Authority last provided its advice to Government on the policy toolkit required to meet the Paris Agreement, a number of developments have occurred in Australia and around the world in terms of climate change science, economics and policy.

The updated advice will seek to provide recommendations that ensure Australia is well-placed to meet its 2030 emissions target and that are consistent with meeting subsequent targets with enhanced ambition that put Australia on a path to net zero emissions, consistent with the Paris Agreement framework.

The Authority is particularly interested in:

> What aspects of the Authority’s previous recommendations remain valid and why?

> What are the opportunities and risks associated with the global transition to net zero emissions and how can Government assist the positioning of the Australian economy to take advantage of the opportunities and mitigate the risks?

> What are the barriers (regulatory and non-regulatory) to realising emissions reductions and are there any additional supporting policies, regulations or government actions that could drive emissions reductions in cost effective ways?

> What role should the Government play in enabling the development and uptake of low‑emissions technologies and development of associated industries?

> What role should international units and carryover from earlier commitment periods have in Australia’s response to climate change?

Stakeholder contributions will inform the Authority’s final report, which the Authority is aiming to release at the end of 2019. The Authority encourages submissions from interested individuals and organisations until 23 August 2019.

As part of the work to inform the forthcoming update of advice, the Authority has today also released a stocktake of drivers for, and actions by, industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, including new and emerging low emissions technologies.

The industry paper is one of a series of three stocktakes the Authority has released in 2019, which provide a summary of actions to mitigate emissions by governments and industry in Australia and taking place internationally.

The paper is available at www.climatechangeauthority.gov.au

Waste-to-Energy: Is there a missing piece?

In the transition to a low-carbon economy, there is a constant search for energy that is not produced from fossil fuels. Australia’s renewable sector contributes roughly 17% of total electricity generation, 9.7% of which is produced by bioenergy. Biofuels also represents around 1% of Australia’s petrol and diesel production.

It is well recognised that biofuels will play an extremely important part in any low carbon, low emission plan for Australia’s future and there have been some noteworthy initiatives to promote and support this, including the Queensland biofuel mandate, the Energy Grants Scheme, Queensland’s Resource Recovery Industry Development Program, and Victoria’s Advanced Organics Processing Technology Grants program.

While the bioenergy and waste-to-energy sector within Australia is transitioning rapidly towards providing a solution to materials that have not historically been recycled, it’s starting to reveal significant gaps in Commonwealth legislation and policies, particularly with respect to defining waste-to-energy streams and how biodiesel is dealt with under the Excise Tariff Act 1921.

Under The Schedule, diesel produced from non-renewable resources has a current excise rate of a little over $0.40 per litre, while biodiesel has a rate of duty of only 10% of this amount. Biodiesel is defined as a fuel that is, in simple terms, derived from animal or vegetable fats or oils. However, many diesel fuels manufactured from other resources, including those defined as waste materials, fall outside of this definition.

The Australian Taxation Office’s Excise Guidelines recognise that recent technological developments have seen hydrocarbon fuels manufactured from various sources other than just crude or waste oil. The Guidelines go so far as to accept that “Technology now exists that allows fuel to be manufactured from feed-stocks such as waste plastic, used tyres and general household waste.”

While acknowledging that renewable diesel can be sourced not only from the hydrogenation of animal fats or vegetable oils, anything that is produced from materials outside of the original definition is still termed diesel and the full rate of duty is payable, irrespective if it has been derived from other feedstocks as outlined above.

Although it is recognised that the duty payable on biodiesel and renewable diesel was offset briefly through the Energy Grants (Cleaner Fuels) Scheme, which closed in July 2015, for companies now looking to invest in new waste-to-energy technologies and facilities, there is currently little to no regulatory framework to support them to produce renewable diesel fuel.

This ambiguity could be seen to be constraining Australia’s sustainable energy future with the current legislation reducing the ability to grow this sector, and as such inhibiting the ability for the industry to reach the economies of scale required to deliver cheaper low carbon fuels, and in particular those derived from waste materials that may not be recyclable.

Based on estimates from the Clean Energy Council and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation there is a potential investment opportunity of between $3.5 billion and $5 billion until 2020 in energy from urban waste, agricultural waste and forest residues. Waste-to-energy provides an innovative and multifaceted solution. Not only does it alleviate the environmental pressure on landfills, it also reduces fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

The Queensland Biofutures 10 Year Roadmap and Action Plan recognises the need to improve the excise rate of biofuels. Biofutures broadly refers to the sector focusing on “the development and manufacturing of products from sustainable organic and/or waste resources.” It is defined as a priority industry for Queensland, predicted to contribute $1.8 billion to the annual Gross State Product and support 6,640 full-time jobs in the state. The roadmap acknowledges the limited funding and poor excise and taxation treatment especially compared to successful global biotechnology sectors where there are strong subsidies.

It is clear that Australia is faced with regulatory framework which has not matched the accelerated pace of development in the combined energy and waste sector. Redefining the legislation to reconsider the definition of biodiesel to include waste as a resource and other alternative manufacturing processes for biodiesel production will assist in ensuring waste-to-energy technologies are given the necessary relief to ensure a sustainable future for renewable fuels.

This article was authored by Madelaine Waters, Environmental Consultant at Equilibrium.

Commonwealth Games’ Legacy for Queensland

It’s coming up to 12 months since the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games were delivered and many of the positive outcomes are still felt throughout the city.

Three core sustainability themes identified for GC2018 were to source responsibly, manage impacts and inspire inclusion.

Significant tangible benefits were delivered in regard to infrastructure improvements, world class venues, and an efficient public transport system. Moreover, many long lasting intangible benefits to the Gold Coast’s culture have come directly from the wide-reaching sustainability initiatives of the Games and are a crucial legacy associated with the event.

Building peaceful, prosperous and sustainable communities  

Many key environmental outcomes aiming to ‘manage impacts’ inspired positive sustainable behaviours. The Commonwealth Games Corporation’s (GOLDOC) initiative to reduce single use, short term plastic items, resulted in no helium balloons, no lightweight plastic bags and no plastic straws provided at any of the Games venues. The ChooseTap campaign saw 14 permanent hydration stations installed across the city, saving approximately 1,780,497 plastic bottles from being consumed. These outcomes are noteworthy.

Highlight trade and investment opportunities in Australia

A key aspect of this initiative and the ‘source responsibly’ theme was sustainable procurement. After an initial hot-spot analysis, GOLDOC developed a Sustainable Sourcing Code to ensure all suppliers met minimum requirements in terms of social and environmental impacts. For stand-alone high-risk procurements, a Sustainability Category Management Plan was completed, further highlighting the commitment to sustainable procurement and also providing a knowledge transfer legacy.

Local and indigenous procurement options were chosen where possible, with 75% of supply agreements from the Gold Coast and over 95% from Australia and New Zealand. Figures for Indigenous supplier contracts by value exceeded 166% of the initial target rate, with 168 contracts. This commitment to local and indigenous suppliers greatly supported positive legacies for the region.

Increased sense of inclusion, diversity and community pride in Queensland communities

The third sustainable theme to ‘inspire inclusion’ truly helped to transform the culture of the Gold Coast. GC2018 was the first of its kind to have a Reconciliation Plan and the commitment to celebrating indigenous heritage was clear from the launch of the Queen’s Baton at Buckingham Palace, where the Queen was accompanied by Yugambeh Elders Ted Williams and Patricia O’Connor. The same elders accompanied Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cambridge to the stage in the Opening Ceremony.  In fact, the opening ceremony was full of traditional theatre, dance, music and visual arts. The celebrations throughout the Games included numerous indigenous flavours showcased on the menu in the Village Main Dining Hall, indigenous art patterns on the Borobi Mascot design and the Parade of Nations track.

The Festival 2018 Gold Coast program included a diversity of cultures, with fifty countries and all Commonwealth regions represented through music, performance and film. Gender equality was also a priority within the Festival and Games. GC2018 was the first Games in history with an equal number of medal events for women and men. GOLDOC participated in the Pride in Sport Index (PSI) in 2016 and 2017 to assess and inform their inclusivity of the LGBTIQ Community.

Celebrations during GC2018 included the Festival’s Sparkle in the Sand which highlighted the Commonwealth countries where homosexuality is still a crime and Pride House, a welcoming space for LGBTI athletes, fans, visitors and allies. It housed LGBTI entertainment and exhibitions, and received over 5,000 visitors.

Inclusion and accessibility of events included the installation of ramps and hoists within existing and temporary venues. The Sports Ears system was provided at the opening and closing ceremonies and at all venues with sports presentation commentary. Moreover, every venue had a space for Service Dogs and Spectator Services volunteers were appropriately trained.

Demonstrate a leading model for sustainable event delivery on the Gold Coast

These initiatives are but a sample of the extensive work done by GOLDOC and the Sustainability Team to integrate social and environmental efforts into all aspects of the GC2018 games. The work of the team cultivated a strong focus on “inspiring positive, meaningful change in perceptions, attitudes and actions.” These intangible benefits have left a lasting legacy for tourism events in Queensland and truly demonstrate a leading model for sustainable event delivery on the Gold Coast and beyond.

Sustainability Report (Post Games), GOLDOC 2018: https://gc2018.com/sites/default/files/2018-08/Sustainability%20Report%20-%20Post%20Games%20(Final).pdf

Equilibrium, in partnership with Tasman Environmental Services, completed a Carbon Assessment and Management Plan for the Games. More details on this can be found in our previous blog post https://equil.com.au/2018/05/01/gc2018-low-carbon-competition/

This article was authored by Madelaine Waters, Environmental Consultant at Equilibrium.

February 2019

GC2018 – Low Carbon Competition

Major events provide an unmatched opportunity to demonstrate how environmental issues and impacts can be effectively managed through good planning, effective design and efficient delivery.

The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018 (GC2018) are no exception, and the commitment to staging a sustainable event was embedded from the outset. Leadership in sustainability was a key driver for GC2018, as was the need to help ensure a positive legacy beyond the Games.

The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) committed to showing leadership in sustainability by delivering GC2018 to international standards of best practice.

Sustainability was approached in a considered and comprehensive manner at all stages. In their own words the Games organisers noted the importance of systems thinking and best practices standards:

Guiding our GC2018 delivery is the ISO 20121 event sustainability management system and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework  Sustainability Reporting Standards.”  Source: https://www.gc2018.com/about/sustainability

Three key sustainability pillars were identified for GC2018:

> Source responsibly
> Manage our impacts
> Inspire inclusive, active communities

Identifying, managing and mitigating carbon emissions

Being part of the sustainability solution for delivering GC2018 was a wonderful opportunity for Equilibrium.

We were invited in partnership with Tasman Environmental Markets to assist with the development of a strategy and baseline emission profile for the GC2018 carbon emissions generated through the design and delivery phases and to establish a mitigation and management plan for the delivery of a carbon responsible Games. This included those emissions:

> under the control or influence of GOLDOC;
> ‘owned’ or ‘shared by GOLDOC;
> occurring as a consequence of GC2018 (‘associated’ emissions), where it is possible to reasonably estimate those emissions; and
> of high stakeholder interest.

While presenting major business and tourism opportunities for Queensland, GC2018 also provided a significant opportunity to limit any negative social, economic or environmental impacts. This also translated into achieving a lasting legacy for the Gold Coast region more generally.

The estimated carbon footprint also allowed GOLDOC and its delivery partners to prioritise opportunities for carbon reduction activities and other cost-effective mitigation strategies. It will also serve as a baseline (along with the carbon management plan) to allow GOLDOC to assess its performance in reducing its carbon impact.

The calculation of the Carbon Baseline was undertaken in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol as adopted under the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS).

Challenges

Being the first Commonwealth Games organising committee to quantify and manage carbon emissions, there was no precedent or baseline to allow a comparison and therefore an expected estimation of the magnitude of the carbon emission profile.

Where possible actual (or estimated) energy (electricity and fuel use) data, flight itineraries, and quantities of waste generated and disposed of or collected for recycling, were used to calculate carbon emissions. This however was not always possible to obtain or to quantify.

In the absence of being able to obtain operational information, an estimate of carbon emissions by activity was undertaken using an input / output (I/O) analysis model. This required detailed financial expenditure breakdown expenditure together with an assessment of whether each line item was purchased outright (goods or equipment component) or provided under hire arrangement, or as a service by the supplier (hire or service component).

Secondary considerations that were included in the modelling considered the end-of-life fate of any outright purchases attributable by GOLDOC to the operations in addition to potential legacy benefits of outright goods or equipment purchases versus supply (services) or hire arrangements.

The complexity was ever present as was the need to make informed estimates.

Where GOLDOC made a shared financial contribution but were not the responsible delivery partner eg. towards a venue upgrade or capital building and construction activity, (where these emissions are largely out of GOLDOC’s control or influence), these emissions were included for the purpose of providing a complete assessment of the GC2018 carbon profile in addition to an estimation of spectator travel impacts.

Our work with Tasman Environmental Markets highlighted the importance of addressing carbon reduction and climate change objectives through good design, effective planning and efficient event delivery.

Importantly, we also believe that the collaboration will provide a noteworthy benchmark for future Commonwealth Games and the methodology required to effectively identify, manage and mitigate carbon emissions.

Equilibrium is very pleased to have been part of the team which contributed to GC2018 and its sustainable delivery.

For more information contact:

Damien Wigley, Equilibrium
Mobile: 0404 899 961  Email:  damien@equil.com.au