Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism gaining traction in Europe

Edge2020_Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism

The European Parliament is introducing new climate legislation including a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The new package aims to reduce emission by at least 55% by 2030 and will include a series of measures which will have big impacts to many large industry customers who now will have millions of tonnes of carbon at risk.

The proposal will include phasing out of the free European Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) allowances after 2026, including maritime shipping within the ETS and a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. The latter of these the CBAM or Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism will impose a tariff on goods whose production is carbon intensive and shows the greatest risk of carbon leakage, in Australia the most vocal opponents of this scheme are unsurprisingly the cement, aluminium and steel industries.

As a quick digress the term carbon leakage is referring to the idea that you move the most carbon intensive parts of your production abroad, into countries with less stringent climate policies, and then import them back into Australia.

The idea of the CBAM is this will place a price on the carbon which has been emitted during this production phase. The price being derived from the price of carbon which was paid for the product to be developed and produced within Australia.

Those keen eyed amongst us will remember the Safeguard Legislation, which will come into effect on the 1st July 2023, cited a review would be undertaken to examine the feasibility of a CBAM within Australia, including a consideration for early commencement for those high-exposure sectors such as steel and cement.

Now with the EU making the leap and the likely follow on from the UK, Japan and Canada, amongst others, including the US via its own Polluter Import Fees Australia, we will surely have to comply to ensure both our own goods are being protected as well as meeting the requirements of the global expectations.

However, what is the cost of compliance. Whilst the legislation is quite straight forward the compliance cost will increase. Cradle to gate / grave accounting is complex and with auditors being stretched between, NGERs, Safeguard and now this, finding a resource to complete the calculations and data collection will be one thing, but looking to have these accounts audited will be another. With the CER having only 75 registered auditors on their books will the cost of this be wider than the government are imagining?

2023 Federal budget: slight update SA and VIC named for cap scheme

Melbourne, Victoria

Further to Edge’s update on the 2023 federal budget shared last week, more information has become evident from Hon Chris Bowen’s MP office around the actual schemes to be introduced and their allocation of the budget.

There is no doubt Australia, as in much of the world, they are pinning their hopes on a Hydrogen Economy. The governments ‘modernised’ energy economy is being underpinned by a technology which yet is not to scale and is unproven, can anyone say carbon capture and storage (CCS)! Now I do not believe Hydrogen is another CCS boondoggle, but the amount being invested, and the legislation changes to allow it to occur are akin to those of its previous silver bullet government neighbour.

The budget has allocated half of the $4bn green energy package, $2bn, to the Hydrogen Fund. The idea is the investment will assist in the commerciality of these projects and allow for 1GW of capacity to be on the system by 2030. The allocation of this will come in the form of “production credits” and as was later confirmed these will be allocated via a ‘competitive process’ however details of this are scarce. The funding is likely to have come in part to keep up with our European and US counterparts who have signaled similar investment in the industry through their own budgets (the US giving a $3/KG (USD) tax rebate if it relates to H2 production.

This will be supported by the new REGO or Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin scheme which was first floated in the papers released at the end of last year.  $38million has been allocated to the project which will be used to certify the energy and emissions from these projects.

The details around the controversial capacity scheme continues to be scarce. With ‘commercial sensitivities’ being touted as a reason for non-disclosure. However, we do expect these to be run state by state and through auctions, so we hope for more detail to be shared on this in the future, especially given SA and VIC have already been named to lead the charge on this later this year. The choice of these states is unsurprising given the high renewable penetration on those grids.

We have also seen a little more information come out around the function of the “Net Zero Authority” who received $83m on Tuesday. It is anticipated that they will be working with local state and territory governments as well as lobbyists and stakeholders to create a roadmap to net zero in those regions, focus will naturally sit in heavy mining regions such as Queensland, the Hunter Valley and Latrobe Valley. From the 1st July the executive agency will be established and they will be tasked with supporting those in heavy industry to transition into a low carbon economy, assist with policies around this and assist with investment in the regions. No small feat to say the transition is already well underway.

Renewable energy storage road map released

Edge 2020 Brisbane City

The CSIRO released its Renewable Energy Storage Roadmap at the end of March 2023.

Their modelling suggested that while Australia leads the world in solar generation, and we have reduced emissions significantly, there is still a big task ahead of the country if we are to meet net zero emission targets and maintain affordable and reliable energy to end users. The CSIRO Renewable Energy Storage Roadmap report showed Australia will need significant amounts of storage to meet the transition to renewables.

Storage is the key to integrating renewable energy into the grid and reducing the dependency on coal and gas fired generation. Currently the electricity produced from renewable sources such as wind and solar is intermittent and is not easily dispatched into the grid when it is most needed. Storage allows the renewable energy to be generated when the natural resources are high and dispatching it into the grid when the electricity is needed.

Dispatchable storage is currently available in the grid in the form of pump storage hydro, such as Wivenhoe power station in Queensland and Tumut 3 in NSW. There are also various battery installations located across the NEM.

The dispatch of renewable energy may require different storage technologies to best suit an evolving NEM. Storage comes in various forms from electrochemical storage such as batteries, mechanical storage such as hydro, chemical storage and thermal storage. Each technology has its pros and cons, but a combination of technologies is likely to be required to meet the real time storage volumes and timings of the NEM.

For many years pumped hydro has been seen by governments as the solution to Australia’s energy storage needs, but timing is the limiting factor in this solution.

To enable the transition from coal and gas fired generation to renewables, storage is required now. On a typical day we have excess solar generation resulting in negative spot prices, however over the evening peak as demand increases the supply of renewable drops of coal and gas provide the generation to meet demand. Thermal generation is normally dispatched at prices higher than the cost of renewables resulting in higher spot prices. If storage could be used efficiently the solar energy produced during daylight hours could be used over the evening peak and into the evening resulting in lower electricity prices.

As coal fired generation retires between 2023 and 2035, new dispatchable generation needs to be brought online, the CSIRO report states, development timelines need to be accelerated to bring more projects online by 2030.

Pump storage hydro typically has a lead time of 10 years so either development timelines need to be accelerated or different storage technologies need to be employed in the meantime.

CSIRO chief executive said “there was a need for a “massive increase” in storage capacity to achieve the transition to net zero, with estimates of 11 to 14 gigawatts of additional storage capacity by 2030 alone.

2030 is not far away, to meet the transition targets should industry be focusing on storage rather than generation? Is storage an opportunity to utilise existing infrastructure like old mine pits for pump storage hydro or repurpose retiring thermal power station sites as storage hubs?

The Safeguard Mechanism – the big stick came out

Carbon emissions safeguard mechanism

The Safeguard Mechanism is the legislation which came in in 2016, it was designed to reduce the emissions of the industrial sectors within Australia with targets, or baselines, capping the amount of emissions each facility can emit. The flaw was that the large industries could continue to re-set these baselines to ensure that as production increased, so did the baseline, and as such the emissions would also be increased without penalty. In the Financial year 2020 – 2021, these 215 large emitters made up 28% of Australia’s Carbon Footprint.

During the election campaign the Albanese government stood on a pledge to tighten the legislation around these 215 facilities to ensure that they were contributing to the now legislated target of a 43% reduction in emissions by 2030 (v’s 2005) and net zero by 2050.

Well yesterday, 10th January 2023, the government after extensive round tables, consultation papers and responses released their “draft” position paper. I use the word draft in quotes as the timeframe for change to this draft is less than likely. Responses are due by the end of February and it going in front of ministers in April to be enshrined with a 1st July 2023 start date. I think we can safely say the government have set their cap on their desired outcome.

So, what has been decreed. Well in brief, bar the reduction in baselines, 4.9% annually until 2030 and a review following that, and a cap and trade scheme to allow under baseline emitters to benefit from a new (non-financial!) ACCU called a Safeguard Mechanism Credit (SMC), the big changes and costs, will come to those emitters who will be eventually pushed onto non-site specific variables and forced to use “industry benchmarks”. They can apply for exemptions until 2030 but even these will be under tightened scrutiny and cherry picking your years of production will no longer be allowed. This will be a blow to some who rely on their baselines to reduce costs in those high production and high emitting years. These emitters will also no longer be able to sit on high reported, calculated or fixed baselines and will loose their site-specific variables by the end of this decade in an already reducing baseline decline rate.

To cap this cost, the government are proposing a ceiling for the ACCU market. They propose this to be set at $75/tCO2-e initially and increasing by CPI +2% annually after the first financial year, FY24. With spot ACCUs currently trading around $34.50 (source this is quite a ceiling indeed.

The proposal is also tightening the benefits which can be gained by the Emission Reduction Fund Projects, with no new projects to be sanctioned and no renewal of current projects. Even those in existence will only have a two-year grandfathered period before the abatement cannot be utilised within the accounts.

Interestingly though the parts I found most intriguing were the future papers we can expect. The Chubb review was, I can now assume, purposely vague on international credits and I believe this is due to the implication from the safeguard paper that we can expect a further review, likely to come out this year, which will look at the usage of “high quality international offsets” within the ANREU. These could then be rolled into many types of legislation for Carbon Neutral claims as per Climate Active current accreditation, including Safeguard legislation.

The other interesting area is around carbon leakage with an investigation to be undertaken if Australia should follow the EU and implement a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). It would basically create a plug to stop carbon leakage between countries. i.e. if you moved production to a country which was less ambitious in its carbon policies you would still have to pay the “leakage” of that carbon, or to import that substance, if it was not manufactured within a country with similar carbon ambitions, you pay the carbon cost to use it in Australia.

Overall, there is a lot to un-pick in this paper but following extensive consultations I think (bar the ACCU ceiling price) little will shock industry. It is a “hybrid” approach to get the government on track without losing industry along the way. There will be some winners, especially those on industry set baselines, initially able to bank SMCs, but overall the government have balanced a carbon abatement requirement without hampering industry too much. There will always be nay sayers who want more, say this isn’t enough and want to move quicker, but we cannot forget the economic climate we are in at the moment and the turmoil yet to unfold. I say hear ye hear ye to the DCCEEW, this one balances the tightrope of industry and climate ambitions well.

Kate Turner is Edge2020’s senior manager markets, analytics and sustainability. Through a passion that renewable energy solutions are key to any climate change solution, Kate supports our clients to manage their portfolios and any associated risk within traditional markets as well as complex renewable energy portfolios. Kate is hands on in procurement development and implementation for our clients and leads our market regulatory and advisory sustainability services. If your business is interested in wholesale or retail renewable PPAs we’d love to help you. Contact us on: 1800 334 336 or email:

Coal and gas moves to renewables and storage

Renewable generators with battery storage

With Enel X announcing the installation of battery storage systems in shopping centres in Melbourne and on the NSW central coast, this year may see a shift in the energy market as we transition from coal and gas to renewables and storage.

Recently AEMO’s CEO Daniel Westerman said, ‘even after factoring the cost of new transmission lines, wind and solar remain by far the cheapest forms of new power generation’.

Key federal policies have underpinned the need to progress an increase in renewable energy. Growth in renewable energy is dependent on the growth of storage to be fully utilised and the need for greater transmission infrastructure is required to link the projects to the end users.

The announcement of the Net-zero emissions target of 43% of 2005 levels by 2030 have pushed other mechanisms to also ramp up across the country. The key federal mechanism is the Safeguard Mechanism, which targets the emissions reduction for Australia’s largest emitting facilities. In line with the Safeguard mechanism the 82% renewables energy target in the National Electricity Market (NEM) by 2030 is also incentivising renewable generation. As both these drivers will require more renewable energy to be rolled out to offset the thermal generation, more storage will be required to compensate for the intermittency of renewable generation and an increase in transmission lines will be required to connect the renewable energy projects with storage and end users.

AEMO has for many years been looking at a fundamental shift in generation, transmission and energy usage. AEMO is now focusing on firming, Electric vehicles and the regulatory framework to enable these changes to occur.

In recent years we have regularly seen that the NEM has the potential to operate with very high levels of renewables, but the limiting factor still remains that thermal generation provides reliability and system security when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining. At the end of December, South Australia produced 104% of its demand with renewable energy and exported the extra electricity to neighbouring regions.

With most states striving for high renewable energy targets, Victoria is hoping to reach 95% renewables by 2035 and Queensland has increased its target to 80% renewables by 2035.

With the recent volatility in the overseas energy markets, in which Australia is a pivotal player in due to the large quantities of coal and gas we export, there is now a greater incentive to shift away from thermal generation due to the volatility and high prices.

AEMO reports show there is currently 21GW of new projects undergoing connection assessment and they expect 5GW of new capacity to be added during FY2023, in addition to the 4GW currently operating.

To assist this influx in renewable generation ARENA granted $176m in December 2022 to fast track 8 new battery projects to bring in 2.0GW/4.2GWh of storage. The plan is to triple the battery storage across the NEM by 2025.

Over the next year we will also see more transmission lines connecting the nation as more renewable energy zones are connected to the load centres under the Rewiring the Nation policy.

The first transmission projects to receive Rewiring the Nation funding were announced following the October 2022 Federal budget. Recently funded projects include the VNI NSW-Victoria interconnect, Marinus Link and various NSW transmission projects connecting the renewable energy zones. This funding will assist in building the transmission lines over the next 10 years.

If your business is interested in wholesale or retail renewable PPAs we’d love to help you. Contact us on: 1800 334 336 or email: