Vast Solar’s CSP system is smart, modular and highly cost effective to construct and operate. Our significant contribution to the progress of CSP globally has been recognised by the international CSP community with the International Energy Agency’s SolarPACES 2019 Technical Innovation Award.
CSP is a dispatchable renewable generation technology with massive potential in Australia. It delivers what Australia needs to replace its retiring coal plants – long duration energy storage, reliable and dispatchable renewable electricity and grid strengthening services. More importantly, it is the only technology that can be rolled out sufficiently quickly across the country to provide a scaffold for the NEM transition (pumped hydro is expensive, environmentally challenging and takes too long to build) with far less transmission augmentation than current plans contemplate.
Critically, at scale, Vast Solar’s system produces power at a lower cost than coal or gas fired power plants and other renewable storage technologies, and it will meet the stretch target of $100/MWh defined by the Federal Government’s Low Emissions Technology Statement (LETS).
Learn more about Vast Solar at https://www.linkedin.com/company/vast-solar-pty-ltd/
What does climate leadership look like to you?
To be effective, climate leadership needs to have both the top-down vision (e.g., Net Zero by 2050) focusing on long term goals, and also bottom-up strategy (e.g., the Federal Government’s Technology Investment Roadmap) focussing on short to medium term goals.
Both the long-term vision (to decarbonise) and the short to medium term goals (the steps we need to take now and soon to decarbonise) are equally important.
Climate leadership also means taking bold steps to deploy world-first technology. That’s what we are doing with our hybrid power plant in Mount Isa, which will be the first utility-scale project to use our modular tower solar thermal technology. This project will be the first of many as, per IEA forecasts, solar thermal will make up between 5-25% of energy generation in sun-belt countries across the world.
What would you like to see come out of COP26?
For global decarbonisation, it would be consensus on both the top down (long term) vision as well the bottom up (short to medium term) strategy. Put another way, we need both a destination and a roadmap of how to get there.
In the Australian context, it would be a realisation that our energy transition and decarbonisation presents an enormous export opportunity for Australia, a country which is blessed with enough sun and wind to supply the entire planet with energy, as well as the best brains to develop the technologies to power the transition.
It is exciting to see this start to happen through companies such as Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), with its global hydrogen and ammonia plans, as well as Sun Cable, which is building the world’s first intercontinental power grid, connecting Australia to Singapore to supply 24/7 renewable power. We believe Vast Solar’s modular tower CSP has a role to play in delivering continuous, low cost renewable energy to power such projects.
But it isn’t just transportation.
The announcements this week have ranged from availability of finance for the transition to agreements for new fuel procurement to reductions in methane emissions to tackling the blight of deforestation to supermarkets committing to reduce their carbon footprint. More significant though are the initiatives around reporting and regulatory standards that will benchmark progress and deliver transparency. It is here, with pressure on individual corporates to deliver on their commitments, that delivery will take place. And in the end, it is delivery rather than words that matter. And it’s here that the link between a CEO’s remuneration and the achievement of decarbonisation and renewable standards will take place, so cue a range of pressure groups targeting remuneration committees to optimise this link. When remuneration requires the achievement of specific climate targets you can bet that delivery will take place.
So, what does climate leadership look like?
I’m optimistic because after the talking and the commitments we’re now benchmarking and holding accountable those responsible for delivery.
And I’m even more hopeful because it seems that we’re no longer dependent on grand inter-governmental statements with their numerous qualifications and exemptions. The leadership is coming from finance and insurance, from the legal and accounting professions, from industry and commerce and across the private sector and the leadership is gathering pace.
Carbon pricing may be “blah, blah, blah” to some, but to make the necessary changes we need to focus on the boring stuff.
One of the most positive things at Glasgow for COP 26 is how widely this is being discussed, alongside the pricing of “risk” of carbon, a concept ranging from the cost of insurance (a huge topic given the catastrophic fires in Australia and California, along with the snowstorms of Texas), bank capital requirements for loans to carbon emitters (on the basis that these will rise to reflect risk-increase) through to the risk of stranded assets (potentially including coal-fired power stations).
The next major step for carbon pricing may well be the EU going ahead with the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, which will levy tariffs on carbon imported in the EU, helping to internationalise carbon costs.
My takeaway? Forget the sexy-sounding slogans and focus on the boring detail. Glasgow COP 26 is unlikely to deliver a “silver bullet” but will be a significant milestone on a lengthy journey to “net zero”. And “net zero” as a destination will change as greater clarity and more detailed requirements – all that “boring stuff” - is refined.
Sadly, we’re not yet at the point of international carbon pricing, but the issue is now mainstream, widely discussed alongside mechanisms for implementation, and that in itself is a significant step.
So what’s changed?
Finally, technology has come of age, and Enosi’s Powertracer is a great example of this. It unlocks source, time and price for clean energy. In short, it is an innovative Australian “energy traceability” technology platform that enables energy consumers (and hydrogen producers) to “trace” the source of their energy consumption, when it happened, and put a price on it.
Like all technology step-changes, Powertracer will form an important tool for consumers to get to “true-zero” - certifying a customer’s hour-by- hour purchase of clean energy from identified renewable energy projects, each at a unique price. A tool of “transparency”, it will be used by energy customers, retailers and generators to help validate the achievement of energy decarbonisation goals. Consumers can now make decisions that are informed, and economically rational, all validated by the technology platform.
So what’s happening at the corporate level?
Grant told us “The world has now shifted – and the discussions at COP26 are great evidence of that. We are now starting to see a defacto carbon price imposed on our exports - the “carbon borders”. Producers and manufacturers are starting to feel the pinch. Customers want to differentiate between what is clean and what is fossil fuel generated, in real-time. This industry is changing at light speed and we’re at the forefront of that.”
Steve continued “While businesses have initiated their 100% renewable strategies, largely through LGCs and offsets, the carbon impact of their operations is now more acutely assessed. Every business case that has an impact on energy consumption now has an embedded carbon price, because if you can reduce energy consumption, you need buy less LGCs.”
Grant added “With technologies like Powertracer now being applied to the global EnergyTag initiative, you can match (or “tag”) your energy consumption directly with renewable generation, hour by hour, so you need only top up with LGCs and eventually be able to claim true zero.
Steve says “Everyone thinks Net Zero is the goal, that it means we’ve avoided any CO2 emissions, but it doesn’t. It just means that you can create them over here, so long as they’re offset with something over there. What we’re arguing is: don’t create them in the first place, don’t have to offset anything, only use renewable energy, particularly in the energy space. Net zero just gives you a way to buy an excuse to keep using fossil-fueled energy. We believe you should focus on “True Zero” – using electricity that is directly “tagged” to renewable energy generation (including from stored renewable energy) at the same time. And the time element is critical – you won’t be able to claim that you used solar energy in the middle of the night, as you can with a Net Zero measure.”
“If we leave a legacy, with or without Enosi’s business success, the moniker True Zero is something to be proud of, because it so neatly juxtaposes Net Zero.”
Grant adds “True Zero is a new standard in the way we understand carbon. Electricity is such a big part of the carbon challenge and will become an even bigger part as we move into transport. All transport is going to move across to electricity, and so as the electricity sector grows, where the electricity is coming from becomes more and more important in the carbon discussion.”
“So now we have the True Zero ambition, which is to “match” the electricity consumed at a particular time with clean electricity generated at the same time on the same grid, and we can measure how “green” our consumption really is. Then, we can adjust our consumption strategies to more closely align with renewable generation. So it’s a “measure and manage” strategy that everyone can participate in.
And that’s where the True Zero Hero idea comes in. In the lead up to COP26 we have identifying 10 True Zero Hero leaders, global leaders in climate change and climate action. By identifying these leaders, we cascade down their influence so that all of us, every single one of us, can be a True Zero Hero. The main thrust of the campaign is to allow anybody who has an electricity account to start to calculate with Powertracer how much clean energy they are consuming from wind and solar farms and other clean sources and then measure that monthly and annually to see how the percentage of clean energy that they are consuming changes. The aim is True Zero, and people are True Zero Heroes.” Learn more about True Zero Heroes: https://www.linkedin.com/company/enosienergy
What do you want to see coming out of COP26?
Steve told us “I’d like recognition that Net Zero isn’t actually the right answer, that it’s not actually a suitable thing. So many of the things that have been written around that net goal are insufficient.”
Grant added “Net Zero” has served it’s time and it’s time that we all stepped up to the True Zero standard, to make a material change in carbon reduction and achieve our decarbonization ambitions.”