Energy Smart

Savings add up for household solar

David Potts 12:15 AM   Solar panels are landing on rooftops just as the Hills Hoist invaded backyards. If you're not solar-powered, you're not with it.

Abbott government's 'blue tape' costs consumers billions, report finds

Unplugged: electricity savings momentum is running out, new report finds.

Peter Hannam   A drop in energy use by Australians has slashed billions of dollars from energy bills since 2010, but those savings are threatened by policies by the Abbott government and some conservative state governments, a report by The Australia Institute finds.

French renewables power grid pilot reveals limits of batteries in Europe

Tesla's Powerwall battery has raised hopes for a rush into storage devices.

​A major pilot project by Europe's largest power network operator to integrate power from rooftop solar panels into the grid has shown that battery storage of renewable energy is not yet economically viable in Europe.

Renewable energy target slashed in bipartisan deal

A wind turbine stands at the Capital Wind Farm, operated by Infigen Energy, in Bungendore, New South Wales. A wind farm commissioner will be established to resolve complaints from concerned residents living near wind turbines.

Elise Scott   A bipartisan deal - agreed to last month after a lengthy political stalemate that hamstrung the clean energy sector - will slash the renewable energy target from 41,000 gigawatt hours to 33,000.

Green utopia: Lord Howe island shows the mainland how it's done

Rhonda Wilson, with her husband Ed, owns an electric golf car and their home runs on solar panels.

Nicole Hasham   Residents of Lord Howe Island have gone dirty on diesel and now have an ambitious target for renewable energy.

Tesla home battery 'a wake up call' for Australia

The new Tesla Energy Powerwall home battery is in a position to change the energy sector.

Lucy Cormack   The company's new battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels will cost half what analysts expected.

Oil downturn slows progress in bringing solar power to mines

Energy costs account for as much as 40 per cent of the operating costs at some mines, according to Ernst & Young.

James Paton   High oil prices spurred mining companies to look at renewable energy to cut their diesel fuel bills. With crude plunging, it's a different story today.

Eclipse switching off solar panels to test Europe's power grids

The eclipse will test the ability of utilities to keep the lights on as grid operators switch to other sources to make up for the lost solar power.

The eclipse due to bring most of Europe into deep shadows on Friday morning will put an unprecedented strain on the region's electricity grid, turning off thousands of solar panels essential to power supply and rocking electricity markets. The moon will cross in front of the sun, blocking about 80 per cent of its light across Europe from 8 am to 11 am London time. In Germany, the eclipse will briefly turn off thousands of panels, which provide about 40 per cent of the nation's power on the most sunny days.

Solar industry gets $33.3m boost to fuel commercial take-up

Grattan says governments created a policy mess that should never be repeated.

Peter Hannam   The flagging Australian solar industry will get a $33.3 million boost as the government's green investment bank combines with a Chinese partner to spur companies to take up more photovoltaic panels.

Fuelling hope: Vitol finds a future in Australian refining

Shell Oil Refinery in Geelong

Peter Ker   Newcomer Viva Energy believes a local focus and more niche products can see Australian oil refineries withstand the pressure from foreign competitors

Solar power holds its own as clouds gather

Solar panel capacity held up in 2014 despite headwinds.

Peter Hannam   Australia’s small-scale solar energy industry held steady in 2014 although uncertainty about the Abbott government’s support for renewable energy and rising costs for imported panels as the dollar wilts are casting a cloud over the sector.

Coalminers returning to profitability, but for how long?

Turnaround: Things are looking up for coalminers on the back of plummeting oil prices and a weaker Australian dollar.

Peter Ker   The cost of producing coal in Australia has fallen sharply in recent months, but views are mixed over whether prices will improve in 2015.


Shareholders strike out at remuneration as commodity boom fades

A lift in mining export volumes helped expand Australia's gross domestic product in the March quarter.

Peter Ker   Shareholders say remuneration is out of sync with sliding commodity prices.

Soaring gas prices spur expansion of energy savings plan

Incentives to curb energy use to be expanded to include gas.

Peter Hannam   Soaring gas prices have prompted the NSW government to expand its energy efficiency support program to include gas as well as electricity.

Energy efficiency in buildings to lead Australia's G20 climate response

Spotlight at the G20 unlikely to fall on climate change.

Peter Hannam   Climate change remains all but absent from the G20 summit, with a related energy efficiency plan omitting mention of global warming as a motivation for curbing energy use, according to a draft of the plan.

UNSW smashes electric vehicle speed record

Fastest car: Sunswift Project Manager Hayden Smith poses with the car which beat a world speed record for electric vehicles.

Peter Hannam   A team of undergraduate engineering students at the University of NSW has smashed the world speed record for electric vehicles, with their Sunswift car averaging more than 100 km/h over 500 km on a single battery charge.

Insulation report finding on fires cheers battling industry


Peter Hannam   Confirmation by the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program that the rate of house fires did not increase despite a more than 10-fold jump in installations has been welcomed by companies struggling to recover from the industry's boom and subsequent bust.

Canberra will consider its own rooftop solar scheme, says Corbell

Australia's renewable energy sector faces an uncertain future.

Kirsten Lawson   ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell has condemned the Warburton report as ''dangerously radical and extremist''.

Canberrans ignorant of potential power savings


Markus Mannheim   Competition between power companies is not helping Canberrans, many of whom believe they must buy from ActewAGL.

Solar giant to close Australian R&D unit

Sun King: Shi Zhengrong.

Peter Hannam   A giant Chinese solar panel maker originally based on Australian technology plans to close its local research arm amid on-going concerns about the future of renewable energy in the country.

Time for NSW to end California dreaming on renewables, Labor says

Time to go solo?: Cloud over NSW's renewable energy target.

Peter Hannam   NSW is barely one-third of the way to achieving its 2020 renewable energy goal despite the Baird Government wanting the state to be Australia's answer to California.

Solar research facility to open at UQ Gatton

Construction workers prepare to install a First Solar thin-film photovoltaic panel.

Cameron Atfield   Queensland researchers hope to demonstrate the true power of the 'Sunshine State' when a new solar research facility opens at Gatton next year.

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Uncertainty takes wind out of Capital II funding

A view of an area north of Bungendore where turbines for the stalled Capital II wind farm would be built.

Matthew Raggatt   Its been approved since 2011, but Australia's largest wind farm developer has said there is no guarantee dirt will ever be turned on its 41-turbine project near Bungendore.

False dawn for solar giant?

Lining up: AGL's Nyngan solar array awaits PV panels.

Peter Hannam   Australians considering putting solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on their roofs might want to get a hurry-on.

Carbon price helped curb emissions, ANU study finds

All hot air? Carbon pricing was starting to work.

Peter Hannam   Australia cut carbon dioxide emissions from its electricity sector by as much as 17 million tonnes because of the carbon price and would have curbed more had industry expected the price to be permanent, according to an Australian National University study.

PM's solar song: stick it when the sun don't shine

Solar farm future? A 20mW solar plant ( will go online in the coming weeks at Royalla, 23 kilometres from Canberra.

Jock Cheetham   Renewable energy costs money and the 'sun doesn't shine' at night. Abbott's renewable mantra needs a tune-up.

Cooking with gas? Bills about to jump

Cold comfort: Gas prices are expected to rise 17 per cent this winter.

Brian Robins   If you thought surging household energy bills were a thing of the past, think again.

Government modelling shows power prices will fall if RET stays

"Stunning" findings from RET modelling.

Lisa Cox, Peter Hannam   The Abbott government’s case to scrap or weaken the Renewable Energy Target (RET) has been dealt a “killer blow”, with modelling it commissioned for the review showing consumers will be better off if the target is kept.


Slump in demand for power likely to continue

Generic power lines.

Brian Robins   The downturn in electricity demand is likely to slide a further 3.3 per cent over next three years.

Napthine government pushes gas-fired power option


Tom Arup, Environment Editor   Australia's renewable energy target would include gas-fired power - derived from fossil fuels - under a controversial proposal by the Victorian government.