The finalists of the 2017 Clean Energy Council Awards have been announced today. They include a community mini grid in Victoria that has helped customers to halve their power bills over the summer, an innovative project financing approach and electricity billing based on mobile phone plans.
The finalists in this year’s awards reflect a growing sophistication to overcome challenges facing the Australian energy sector, according to Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton.
“The past year has seen dramatic increases in electricity prices around Australia and continued political disputes over energy policy” said Mr Thornton. “Clean energy businesses have responded to these challenges by developing innovative solutions to reduce electricity bills for Australian households and set the record straight on the role that renewables play in our energy mix. The 2017 Clean Energy Council Award finalists serve as a fine example of the outstanding work that the industry is doing to ease the burden on everyday Australians. I would like to thank all of those who submitted an entry for this year’s awards and wish all of our finalists the best of luck. I look forward to presenting the awards to the winners at this year’s Australian Clean Energy Summit.”
The Clean Energy Council Awards recognise excellence in the clean energy sector in the fields of innovation and business community engagement.
The Outstanding Contribution to Industry Award will also be presented at the NAB Gala Dinner. This award acknowledges the contribution of an individual who has made a major and sustained contribution to the clean energy industry.
The finalists for the Clean Energy Council Innovation Award are AustNet Services, Horizon Power and Windlab.
AusNet Services worked with Greensync and PowerTec to establish a Community Mini Grid in Mooroolbark, Victoria. The aim was to try and imagine the future of energy grids in Australia with homes sharing energy between themselves. The project was based primarily on solar and energy storage and managed to take eight homes in Mooroolbark completely off grid. Greensync provided a cloud-based mini-grid control system while PowerTec supplied a stabiliser that helps to test the stability of the min grid. The project added to the understanding of consumer behaviour when using energy management tools and enabled participants to halve their power bills over the summer months.
Horizon Power has introduced an innovative new way of charging for electricity called “Power Plans” that aims to give customers better choice and control over their power bills. The project acknowledges the confusion that many consumers experience with regard to electricity billing and has designed Power Plans to resemble more easily understood mobile phone or internet bills. The project enables people to track their real-time energy use through an app to help them save money.
Windlab has been able to negotiate finance with National Australia Bank (NAB) for the 30 MW Kiata Wind Farm, located 50 kilometres NW of Horsham, Victoria. The finance extends over a period of 19 years - an unprecedented achievement for the market at the time made possible by an offer by John Laing to acquire more than 72 per cent of the project at financial close. John Laing is both a partner in the project (with Windlab and the local community) and a customer. Construction of the Kiata Wind Farm began in March and upon completion it will generate enough electricity to supply over 20,000 Victorian homes. It is expected to become operational before Christmas and will create 100 jobs during the construction phase. Keppel Prince of Portland will supply turbine towers and Wilson Transformer of Melbourne will provide the transformers.
The finalists for the Clean Energy Council Business Community Engagement Award are The Climate Council, Western Power and Horizon Power.
The Climate Council helped to confront the misinformation surrounding the role of renewable energy in the September 2016 state-wide blackout in South Australia, using written and video communication, social media, journalist backgrounding and stakeholder briefings. It published a 6-page Factsheet explaining the causes of the power outages and worked to communicate the role of climate change in extreme weather events. It champions the importance of developing renewable energy in order to transition Australia to a clean energy future.
Western Power is a power corporation owned by the Government of Western Australia. In a 12-month pilot study which is due to complete this month, it investigated the use of stand-alone power systems in regional Western Australia as an alternative to replacing hundreds of kilometres of overhead powerlines in areas with very few customers. It provided six customers with individual stand-alone solar, battery and generator systems. Community and stakeholder engagement was central to the project, which was rated highly by those involved.
Horizon Power, a finalist for both the Innovation Award and the Business Community Engagement Award, engaged the public as research partners, using an app to track their behaviour and engagement with the programme. It also utilised a Facebook group and Facebook polls, interviews, group forums, in-depth surveys, email, SMS, an educational video and an account manager who could be contacted at any time.
The 2017 Australian Clean Energy Summit will be held from 18 - 19 July at the Hilton Sydney, hosted by the Clean Energy Council. The summit draws more than 500 delegates from nearly 200 organisations. The program features more than 80 speakers from government, industry and academia discussing the latest market trends, innovation, policy, finance, business and technology developments in the clean energy sector.
Image: Australian Clean Energy Summit
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