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1. GOVERNMENT SEEKS ALTERNATE ARRANGEMENT TO ASQA FOR TRAINING PACKAGE QA
The Australian Government’s DEWR website alludes to a little-known recent decision by Skills Ministers, that has gone under the radar, regarding the future quality assurance responsibility of Training Packages.
It was proposed that ASQA would take responsibility from 1 January 2023. However, the webpage states, “The Australian Government has decided (in consultation with states and territories) to consider alternate arrangements for the Training Package Assurance function which means it will not be transitioning to ASQA as planned. Instead, the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations will establish the independent Training Package Assurance function for a limited time, to ensure training products meet national standards.
The arrangements will commence on 1 January 2023 allowing time for Industry Clusters and Jobs and Skills Australia to become established before a decision is made on where to house the function long-term.
The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations is well placed to undertake the Training Package Assurance function due to the collaboration to date with ASQA to establish this function.
The Training Package Assurance function will deliver increased transparency, accountability, and confidence in training products for employers, learners and training providers. It ensures high quality compliance assessments of training packages against the standards set by Skills Ministers.
ASQA will continue its role providing best practice regulation to ensure quality so that students, employers, governments and the community have confidence in the integrity of national qualifications issued by training providers.”
One wonders how this alternative arrangement differs from recent times where Training Packages were seen to be bogged down in bureaucracy. How will it improve efficiency and quality of outcomes is not clear, but the Department is confident that it is “well placed to undertake the Training Package Assurance function”.
No mention is made how industry might be fully engaged in a transparent way to participating in the endorsement processes, albeit a statement asserts that, the new arrangement “will deliver increased transparency, accountability, and confidence in training products for employers, learners and training providers”.
Are Training Packages not industry standards reflecting the requirements of an individual in the workplace?
Ironically, Training Packages are not about training. The attributes for employers, learners and training providers are downstream of Training Packages, a point that seems to continually be missed. Maybe someone should take responsibility for changing their name from Training Package to Occupational Skill Standards?
Couldn’t Jobs and Skills Australia take responsibility for Training Package Quality Assurance?
Note on Industry Clusters:
The webpage link also provides the latest information on Industry Clusters, stating “A clarification has been provided to all shortlisted applicants that sets out expectations and provides guidance for the Industry Cluster governance arrangements at the board, membership and subcommittee levels.
Stage Two of the process is expected to open from September 2022. Stage Two will invite newly established Industry Clusters to provide an operational and delivery strategy detailing how they will carry out the full range of Cluster functions.
Successful Stage Two applicants will then be invited to negotiate a second grant agreement that provides operational and activity funding. This is expected to be complete by late 2022.”
2. BOARD APPROVES APPRENTICE ELECTRICIAN EMPLOYER EVALUATION GUIDE FOR PUBLICATION
The NSW UE ITAB Board of Directors at its 19 October 2022 meeting approved for publication, the NSW UE ITAB NSW Apprentice Electrician Employer Evaluation Guide.
The Apprentice Electrician Employer Evaluation Guide has been developed to assist Apprenticeship Network Providers (ANPs) and any other organisations responsible for evaluating whether employers in NSW meet the requirements for employing apprentices in the vocation of “Electrotechnology – Electrician” and can ensure they are able to support an apprentice’s workplace competency development to complete the UEE30820 Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician qualification.
The requirements, primarily relate to the employer’s ‘capacity’ to provide work-based (on-the-job) training pursuant to the NSW Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act 2001.
The Guide elaborates on these requirements by covering is some detail the following arrangements:
- The specific aspects of employer capacity in the NSW Apprenticeship and Traineeship legislation.
- Confirmation of the industry sector(s) the employer is engaged in.
- The employer’s capacity to provide range of work such as facilities, equipment and resources.
- Scope and context of work encompassing the installation of low voltage wiring support systems, cables, cords and accessories; and installation of electrical apparatus, switchgear, appliances and associated accessories for low voltage electrical installations; as well as additional installation items associated with troubleshooting and repairing faults in low voltage electrical apparatus and circuits; identifying, shutting down and restarting systems with alternate supplies; and testing and certifying compliance and functionality of low voltage general electrical installations.
- Identifying the authorised supervisor of apprentice(s) details and apprentice supervisor(s)/mentor(s) details.
- The ratio of trade employees to apprentices.
- The employers previous experience in employing apprentices.
- Options for prospective employers in transferring and using other employers.
- Confirmation of required information data and components for inclusion in the Contract of Training and Training Plan
- Evaluation checklist, decision making and sign-off.
The NSW Utilities & Electrotechnology Industry Training Advisory Body (NSW UE ITAB) has developed the Guide in consultation with industry, ANP, GTO, RTO and government stakeholders, and welcomes feedback from these stakeholders and others to improve its veracity and relevance for in-the-field evaluation checklist to ascertain an employer’s capacity to the meet the necessary minimum requirements.
3. ONLINE JOB ADS DECLINE IN SEPTEMBER 2022
The National Skills Commission (NSC) released the September Internet Vacancy Index (IVI) on 19 October 2022. The IVI shows online job advertisements have fallen nationally by 5.9% (or 17,600 job advertisements) to 282,600 last month.
Although there was a fall for September 2022, in the last twelve months job advertisements have increased by 19.7% (or 46,600 job advertisements).
The Media Release states, “The decline in job advertisements occurred across all Skill Level groups, with the sharpest percentage declines in:
- Skill Level 5 occupations (commensurate with Certificate I or secondary education); down by 7.2% (or 2,900 job advertisements)
- Skill Level 1 occupations (commensurate with Bachelor degree or higher); down by 7.1% (or 7,400 job advertisements); and
- Skill Level 2 occupations (commensurate with Advanced Diploma or Diploma); up by 6.8% (or 2,200 job advertisements).
Job advertisements declined in 46 of the 48 detailed occupational groups during September 2022. Hospitality Workers recorded the sharpest decline over the month (down by 1,400 job advertisements or 10.7%).
3.1. THE LABOUR MARKET REMAINS TIGHT IN SEP 2022
In related news the National Skills Commission’s Recruitment Experiences and Outlook Survey suggests that the labour market remains tight in September 2022, although some indicators have eased since last month.
Recruitment activity remains high. Some 58% of employers reported recruiting in September 2022, which was 2 percentage points higher than last month.
4. VIC APPRENTICES FACING BULLYING, HARASSMENT NEED MORE SUPPORT
The NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin in its 20 October 2022 edition reports on the findings of a research activity by the Victorian McKell Institute into the state of the apprenticeship system in Victoria.
The article states, “The McKell Institute of Victoria has released a report into the state’s apprenticeship system. The ‘Working, Learning: Better supporting Victorian apprentices on the job’ report found that bullying, harassment and unpaid wages were on the rise for apprentices, with few knowing where to turn to for help.
According to the report, approximately two-thirds of Victorian apprentices were not aware of the Victorian Registration & Qualifications Authority’s (VRQA) roles and responsibilities, as the state’s apprenticeship regulator. The report calls for greater accountability for employers, better support for apprentices, and more regulation.
In response to the report, the Victorian Trades Hall Council has called for urgent action to ensure apprentices receive the instruction, support, respect and safety they need for their on-the-job training, particularly due to the growing demand for apprenticeships. There is currently no vetting system for employers to hire apprentices, little to no regulation of employers, and no system in place to identify or punish employers who mistreat their employees and/or commit wage theft.
The report revealed that although apprenticeship numbers have increased recently, they fell significantly over the last decade, with apprenticeship completion rates also falling below the national average. The report reveals that, “Fewer than 20,000 Victorian apprentices completed their training in each of the years just prior to the pandemic,” while some occupations — most notably in the hospitality and food industries — experienced a “significant decline” in training rates over the last two decades.”
Key findings in the report are:
- Apprenticeship numbers in Victoria have fallen significantly in the last decade but have recently begun growing again.
- Victorian apprenticeship completion rates are below the national average. Fewer than 20,000 Victorian apprentices completed their training in each of the years just prior to the pandemic.
- Some occupations – notably hospitality and the food trades – have seen a significant decline in training rates over the last two decades.
- Employer-related issues are critical factor in apprenticeship completion.
- Reported incidence of workplace issues, including bullying and harassment, and unpaid wages, are increasing.
- Nearly two-thirds of Victorian apprentices were unaware of the apprenticeship regulator’s roles and responsibilities (the VRQA).
- The need for support has grown considerably, with 3-times growth in the percentage of apprentices who need support to understand their contract obligations, and a 6-times increase in the percentage of employers who need the same.
- Complaints to the VRQA by apprentices are in the single digits each year.
- VRQA apprenticeship field services – currently outsourced – visit approximately 1.2% of all apprentices each year, or just three visits per working day by all of its authorised officers.
- There is a complex web of organisations who provide different advice and support to apprentices, and it is often confusing who does what and where to go for help with employment related issues.
5. WEBINAR – WHAT DOES THE DATA TELL US ABOUT VET?
Don’t forget the upcoming important webinar that features Don Zoellner, Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University.
Don Zoellner is one of Australia’s leading VET thinkers. In his latest research he has taken the large data sets held by corporate and VET regulators to explore the life cycles of the VET markets in WA, SA, Tasmania, the ACT and the NT.
When: 31 Oct 2022
Time: 2:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Since a market-based approach was introduced, TAFE Institutes have lost market share, not-for-profit and social enterprise providers have been forced out of most government-created markets, while a significant number of long-standing for-profit providers continue to trade successfully, albeit in the face of more difficult market conditions.
Rather than relying totally upon open markets, the data indicates which portions of the very large VET field respond well to competition and those that do not. Alternative economic theories offer more efficient and effective ways to replace markets that have reached the end of their life cycle; these include system optimisation and public value creation.
Hear more about Don’s research findings and what they mean for the future of VET funding in this important AVETRA webinar.
6. THE ROADMAP TO BUILDING HYDROGEN SKILLS FOR THE GAS INDUSTRY WORKFORCE
Australian Industry Standards (AIS) October News, 20 October 2022 reports that Gas Industry Reference Committee’s (G-IRC’s) work to enable hydrogen skills development, has been validated with the release of the Hydrogen Skills Roadmap by Swinburne University of Technology’s Victorian Hydrogen Hub (VH2).
The article states, “The Hydrogen Skills Road map is the most comprehensive piece of work of its kind to date. Developed in collaboration with over 37 industry representatives, VH2’s Hydrogen Skills Roadmap identifies the jobs impacted and the skills required for the burgeoning hydrogen sector, which will be critical to achieving Australia’s carbon emission reduction targets. It also collates existing education and training in Australia and overseas.
To ensure that Victoria and the rest of Australia remains engaged in the growing hydrogen economy, the report urgently recommends training must be developed in all sectors, including the establishment of a Hydrogen Skills Centre to leverage research and grow skills and knowledge.
Director of Swinburne’s VH2, Gordon Chakoadza, said “Hydrogen gas is not new but the way we intend to use it will be. The first educational priority is raising awareness of hydrogen – its nature and its applications. Hydrogen will impact a range of jobs across the supply chain.”
The report’s findings validate the Gas IRC’s approach to the review of the Gas Training Package and the development of skills standards to include knowledge of hydrogen applications. This and the streamlining of qualifications within the Training Package will assist with both the rapid upskilling of existing Gas workers and the ability to bring new workers into gas roles across the hydrogen supply chain.”
7. GAS INDUSTRY TRAINING PACKAGE HAS BEEN UPDATED AWAITING ENDORSEMENT
Australian Industry Standards (AIS) reports that the Gas Training Package has been updated to include one new Unit of Competency (Control industrial Gas storage/processing operations), four revised Qualifications, and 59 revised Units to meet the contemporary needs of the gas supply industry.
The Gas Industry Reference Committee submitted the Case for Endorsement and draft Training Package materials to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) for consideration at its 12 October 2022 meeting, at which it endorsed the submission.
“Occupational skills standards in the Training Package have been updated to provide the requirement of knowledge evidence for a complete range of industrial or combustible gases. This will ensure that gas supply industry workers are properly skilled across the expanding range of gases that are being introduced, such as hydrogen and blended varieties of gas. It enables workers to build on their existing skills without the need for hydrogen specific Units of Competency.”
8. QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES $23 MILLION RENEWABLE ENERGY TRAINING FACILITY
Editor Sean Carroll reports in the 19 October 2022 edition of Electrical Connection of the Queensland Government’s investment in a large-scale renewable energy training facility to support skills development for the energy SuperGrid.
The article states, “The Queensland Government has launched a state-of-the-art new training facility for renewable energy, with the aim of giving workers the skills they will need for the thousands of jobs to be created under its Energy and Jobs Plan.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk officially opened Electro Group’s Renewable Energy Training Facility (RETF) at Pinkenba, where Cabinet also met.
“Our investment of $17 million towards this $23 million training centre of excellence will help create a skilled future workforce to provide cheaper, cleaner and secure energy for Queenslanders,” she says.
“The Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan will create around 100,000 new jobs, so facilities like this are critical in developing the skills to build new clean energy infrastructure and industries. As part of our plan, we will build Australia’s largest energy SuperGrid, delivering clean, reliable and affordable energy to power Queensland homes and industry.
The Premier adds that the Renewable Energy Training Facility will provide the world’s best practice in electrical, solar renewable energy and telecommunications training, creating a future-ready workforce and supporting our students to reach their full potential.”
9. TOP TALENT ON SHOW AT WORLDSKILLS INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION
HVAC&R News, a publication of the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) reports in its 18 October 2022 edition that the WorldSkills international competition for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning has been run and won in Nuremberg, Germany, as part of the giant Chillventa HVAC&R trade exhibition.
The articles states, “Sixteen young technicians from around the world competed in the event as part of the WorldSkills Competition 2022 Special Edition. The event was organised after the international competition planned for Shanghai earlier in the year was cancelled due to the pandemic.
As with other WorldSkills competitions, the aim of the refrigeration and air conditioning event is to highlight the skills involved in the trade and raise the profile of vocational education. Being part of Chillventa, which saw more than 30,000 people come through its doors, certainly gave the participants plenty of exposure.
Representing Australia was Tom Clancy from Western Australia, who was supported by WorldSkills international training manager and expert Carl Balke, Affil.AIRAH. Over four days, Clancy and the other competitors tackled the challenges set out for them, including tasks related to fabrication, refrigeration installation, electrical fault-finding, and a refrigeration fault-finding task.
The gold medal was awarded to Chia-Cheng Tien of Chinese Taipei. There was a three-way tie for the silver medal between Hugo Geraldo from Portugal, Patrick Danninger from Austria, and Korea’s Wonyeong Seo.
Australian Skill Competition Manager Noel Munkman, M.AIRAH, says that although Clancy did not claim a medal, he performed well.”
9.1. WORLD VENTILATION DAY SET FOR NOVEMBER 8
HVAC&R News also notes that, November 8 has been confirmed as World Ventilation Day, with the theme for the inaugural running to be “celebrating ventilation”.
10. TOOLBOX TALKS – HVAC SAFETY VIDEOS
In support of National Safe Work Month (October) the Air Conditioning & Mechanical Contractors Association of Australia Limited (AMCA) is promoting safety through its Toolbox Talks HVAC safety video series, released 20 October 2022.
The Sharpen Up on Safety promotion is about encouraging a healthier, happier and more effective workforce. It promotes regular toolbox talks on safety, as a “great way for leaders to embed a positive safety culture in their organisations. They are a practical reminder that health and safety is an important part of every working day.”
“These short videos are designed to help you run more effective toolbox talks. They reinforce safety basics across the fundamental areas of workplace safety in the HVAC industry, and will help to start important safety conversations.
The videos are based on selected topics from the Safe Work Instructions detailed in the OHS Management System Manual. They provide updated skills and knowledge training relating to the action areas, regulatory updates and conditions identified as priorities by AMCA OHS Representatives”.
Some examples of the library of videos, are:
- Use of earth leakage circuit breaker and extension cords
- Working on fans
- Managing Silica dust exposure
- Working on electric duct heaters
- Use of Ladders
- Use of Elevated Platforms
- Use of a Refrigerant Reclaim Unit
- Safe work on live electrical equipment
- Refrigeration handling
- Working on roofs
- Use of hazardous substances
11. GOVERNMENTS NEED TO OFFER FORMAL SKILLS TRAINING
Last week’s Government News of 21 October 2022 included an article by Jonathan Jones, Head of Education, IPWEA regarding the need for government to do more to address capacity and capability development needs of their staff.
The article states, “Accelerating rates of change, increasing demand for capable, skilled staff, together with critical skills shortages across the sector, has resulted in a perfect storm where the right education and professional development opportunities can create an impact like never before.
Developing staff knowledge, skills and competence is a key challenge and opportunity for any organisation. However, as the National Skills Commission’s 2022 Skills Priority List detailed, there are 286 occupations with national shortages, compared with 153 in 2021. The challenging side of this equation is not going away anytime soon.
Facing a vast array of skill shortages, governments are now also competing for employer-of-choice status in an environment where staff are experiencing increased career mobility and opportunity. …
While the concept of ‘job for life’ may be gone, the traditional 70-20-10 model for learning and development (70% job-related experience, 20% interactions with others, 10% formal education and training) which has been widely deployed as the optimal professional development mix is still relevant, it has never been more important to ensure the 10% formal elements are fit for purpose to adequately prepare talent for current and future workplace challenges.
For those charged with the responsibility of developing our public service talent to meet the resources and skills challenges of today and of the future, it is vital that they enable access to quality, accredited programs that provide lasting credentials for participants.
Formal professional development is one of the solutions to addressing the crippling skill shortage, but it should be viewed as a long-term knowledge and skills journey — one that benefits the individual, their organisation and their sector for years to come.”
12. BOEING OPENS NEW ADVANCED MANUFACTURING TRAINING CENTRE
Manufacturers’ Monthly reports in its 20 October 2022 edition that Boeing has opened its new $1.6 million Skills Development Centre at its aircraft components manufacturing site in Melbourne to train current and new employees on advanced manufacturing technologies and processes.
The article states, “The centre is training its first class consisting of five members of the Boeing Aerostructures Australia (BAA) Female Apprenticeship Program.
The program teaches apprentices the skills they need to assemble and install aircraft components, prepare and use aircraft support equipment, and inspect, maintain, and repair aircraft components and systems.
Apprentices will graduate with a Certificate IV in Aeroskills (Structures) from Aviation Australia.
“Between the centre opening and the start of our Female Apprenticeship Program, we are making a serious commitment to growing advanced manufacturing in Victoria with the best, brightest and most diverse workforce we can find and train,” said Mick Sorrenson, managing director of BAA.”
13. ELECTRICAL SAFETY INCIDENTS APR-MAY – SHARING THE KNOWLEDGE
The NSW UE ITAB is fortunate again this month to be provided with the latest electrical incident reports from BluScope Steel. As stated in previous News Services, the NSW UE ITAB has received permission from BlueScope Steel to share the information.
The aim is to help RTOs and industry practitioners have available, real case studies of electrical incidents that have occurred in workplaces and which they can showcase and use in their programs or safety moments to highlight findings and experience, and discuss possible issues, responses or solutions.
The NSW UE ITAB again, sincerely thanks BlueScope Steel for their permission, and advises RTOs and industry practitioners to ensure they recognise and acknowledge attribution to BlueScope for sharing this information and treat the information for educational purposes only.
As we receive the incident reports, we will continue to share them accordingly.
For this News Service we have two Blue Scope Steel reports covering August 2022 and September 2022:
- Download the August report – AUGUST REPORT HERE
- Download the September report – SEPTEMBER REPORT HERE
For more information and BlueScope contact details please refer to the undersigned for more information. Again, a sincere thanks to BlueScope.
14. WORKER RECEIVES ELECTRIC SHOCK
Mine Safety News a publication of the NSW Resources Regulator reports in its Weekly incident summary, week ending 14 October 2022 of a dangerous incident resulting in a worker receiving an electric shock.
The dangerous incident, IncNot0043194 occurred in an ‘open cut coal’ environment and was reported in the 21 Oct 2022 Weekly Incident Summary.
A summary of the report in the article states, “A worker received an electric shock while working in a confined space. The worker was standing over a sizer at the time of the shock. The worker was wearing gloves and was holding a fibre sling. The sling was attached to the hook of a small trolley-crane mounted on an overhead I-beam. A witness observed a blue spark from the crane moments after the shock occurred”.
Recommended advice to the industry by the Regulator was, “Cables that form part of a spring-loaded cable reeler arrangement must have adequate support to prevent any tension being applied to the glands/termination connections. Mines should ensure that their maintenance strategies cover all cables and components for any signs of tension or wear”.
15. ELECTRICIAN FINED $4K FOLLOWING SHOCK RISK
Electrical Comms Data newsletter of 19 October 2022 reports of an electrician having been fined $4000 after leaving several live cables exposed at a family home in East Perth, WA. The incident placed residents at risk of electric shock.
The article states, “The man, who holds electrical worker and electrical contractor licences, pleaded guilty at Perth Magistrates Court to breaching WA’s electricity licensing regulations by carrying out non-compliant work. He is not named because the court granted a spent conviction.
According to information presented in court by Building and Energy, the electrician was contracted in July 2020 to carry out electrical installation work in the bathroom and laundry. This included installing several 240 V cables, which were left hanging from the ceiling and walls for later connection to lights and socket outlets.
A subsequent inspection revealed the cables were left energised at a potentially lethal voltage level, with the ‘live’ unterminated ends only covered in tape.
This was a breach of the regulations, which require energised and accessible components to be left with adequate protection against direct contact with live parts, such as robust insulation and appropriate enclosures.”
- Residents at risk of electric shock
- Live unterminated 240-volt wires left exposed in the bathroom and laundry
- Guilty plea entered and spent conviction granted
16. ACCC RECALL – CDB GOLDAIR PEXT3M 3 METRE EXTENSION LEAD
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued a product recall alert (PRA number 2022/19616 and published 20 Oct 2022) in relation to a defective extension lead that can cause the extension lead to remain live, even if it is switched off.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued a product recall alert (PRA number 2022/19616 and published 20 Oct 2022) in relation to a defective extension lead that can cause the extension lead to remain live, even if it is switched off.
HAZARD: Risk of electric shock, which can cause serious injury or death.
ACTION REQUIRED: Consumers should immediately stop using the product and return it to the place of purchase for a replacement or refund.
IDENTIFICATION: Sold at JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks and Big W stores from 6 July 2022 to 9 September 2022.
DESCRIPTION: White coloured 3 metre extension lead rated 240V 10A 2400W. The model number PEXT3M is not explicitly stated on the cord set so please check for the markings on the socket (LA023A), plug (LA020E) and cord (SAA170791EA) to identify the affected product together with the batch code (P011872). Only the 3 metre length extension cord is recalled.
17. INSTALLER-DESIGNER ACCREDITATION SCHEME APPLICATION & PRODUCT CONSULTATION RND
The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) issued an advisory on 21 October 2022 regarding a consultation and application round for product listing of solar panels and inverters and applying to become an approved solar installer and designer accreditation scheme operator.
From 1 July 2022, the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) commenced work on the second phase of changes to the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).
These changes affect the accreditation of installers and designers and the publishing of the approved solar panel and inverter product list.
The advisory states in relation to getting ready for the installer and designer accreditation scheme application round, “The CER will release information on the SRES installer and designer accreditation scheme application process from mid-November 2022. We encourage prospective applicants to review the information including the application form and guidance when it is released.
The CER will open applications to become an approved installer and designer accreditation scheme operator in mid-December 2022. Applicants will have 3 months to submit their applications before the round closes mid-March 2023.”
In relation to taking part in the CER product listing consultation it states, “You can have your say on whether CER should nominate a body to publish the approved solar product (including solar PV modules and inverters) list. Take part through CER’s Consultation Hub in early November 2022.
Following the product listing consultation, CER will determine whether we should open an application process to nominate a body to publish an approved product list under the SRES. If we do not nominate a body to publish product lists, the Clean Energy Council (CEC) will remain the publisher of product lists in accordance with the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Regulations 2001.”
18. POWER PRICE PRESSURES – HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE
The 20 October 2022 edition of EneregyInsider, a joint publication of Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and Australian Energy Council (AEC) examines power prices, which continue to dominate the news.
Carl Kitchen reports that, “Last week the Australian Financial Review’s Energy and Climate Summit was told that retail electricity prices could increase by as much as 35 per cent next year.
That commentary reflected the continued extreme pressure on wholesale prices in the National Electricity Market (NEM). Recent reports have now also highlighted the impacts that the significant increase in wholesale prices is having on the energy system, not just here but also in Europe.
Key regulators such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and NSW’s Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) have noted substantial price increases in retail tariffs.
The ACCC told the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics that it had seen an increase of $300 in the median bill since April this year, or around 25 per cent, and for small business the increases were in the order of $1500. The ACCC said the increases stemmed from some “quite complex factors”, including the “weaponisation” of energy by Russia which is significantly impacting European energy prices, but had also had major knock-on effects in the Asia-Pacific region. Other factors included flooding affecting coal mines and the availability of coal-fired plants.
In its draft report into the NSW energy retail market 2021-2022, IPART found that while prices had increased 2-8 per cent for households and 2-6 per cent for small business in the year to June 2022, the steepest rises had emerged since June when the energy crisis locally was fully felt.
The stress in Australia’s energy market from high prices pales in comparison to European energy cost pressures and the expected impact on household bills. One forecast is for a 200 per cent jump in bills versus this year.
Of course, electrification comes with an upfront cost, and Goldman Sachs supports energy policy in the form of subsidies for heat pumps and upgraded cabling to homes (to handle increased electricity load) with the upfront investment being nearly 5000 Euros for each household.
For more, contact Carl Kitchen, Australian Energy Council
19. SUPPORT FOR CRITICAL MINERALS BREAKTHROUGHS
The Hon Madeleine King MP, Minister for Resources and Minister for Northern Australia, announced in a joint Media Release with the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, that the Government had put into place measures that would accelerate the growth of the critical minerals sector.
A measure that would also support clean-energy technologies through new initiatives as part of efforts to reach net zero.
The Media Release states, “A new National Critical Minerals Strategy is being developed in consultation with industry and community stakeholders, including traditional owners.
Australia has some of the world’s largest reserves of critical minerals and a new National Critical Minerals Strategy will set out a clear vision for the sector.
The National Reconstruction Fund will include the $1 billion Value Adding in Resources Fund which will work alongside the $2 billion Critical Minerals Facility.
These initiatives will expand Australia’s mining science technology capability, diversify supply chains, create local jobs and help drive growth in the critical minerals sector including rare earths – a key component of low-emissions technologies, such as batteries, electric vehicles and solar panels.
Additionally, next week’s Budget will include $50.5 million over four years to establish the Australian Critical Minerals Research and Development Hub to help unlock our nation’s critical minerals potential.”
20. AUSTRALIAN-ENGINEERED SOLAR TILES MAKE GLOBAL DEBUT
Editor Sean Carroll reports in the 21 October 2022 edition of Electrical Connection that a group of Australian renewable energy companies, known as the Leeson Group, has launched Volt, an Australian-engineered roof solar tile.
The article states, “The launch of Volt coincides with the appointment of Bristile Roofing as the roofing partner of Volt in Australia and La Escandella, the world’s largest terracotta roof tile manufacturer as its global distributor outside of Australia, opening new export opportunities for Volt to be sold in 85 countries including Spain, United States, United Kingdom and Germany.
Volt solar tiles integrate with Bristile Roofing’s Terracotta Planum (La Escandella), and concrete Prestige, Premiere and Eton profiles. With Bristile Roofing holding a significant market share for new home roofing products in Australia, and globally La Escandella distributing roof tiles for over 50,000 homes per year, this will provide Volt with an initial potential market of 250MW annually.
Using a unique Metal Wrap Through (MWT) cell technology and a busbar-free design to increase the efficiency of solar cells, Volt solar tiles create a seamless look on rooftops when installed with its all-black components and a safer built-in interlocking cable containment system.
The Volt Planum and Lodge solar tiles are the world’s first ones that can generate the equivalent amount of energy as a standard solar panel. The 115W MWT mono PERC Planum module has a market-leading 18.8% solar efficiency and the Volt Lodge solar tile 105W MWT mono PERC module has a solar efficiency of 19.4%.
Weighing just 10kg, Volt is lighter than a standard solar panel and roof tile and requires fewer building materials to support its installation. …
Volt solar tiles are a quarter the cost of its competitors’ …”
21. ‘PERILOUS JOURNEY AHEAD’ UNDER VICTORIA’S ENERGY OVERHAUL
Financial Review reports, Patrick Durkin and Angela Macdonald-Smith explore investor concerns regarding the ambitious energy agenda, announced by the Victorian ahead of the forthcoming election in their article of 21 October 2022.
The article states, “lean energy investors have warned of an investment drought and large energy users say their survival will be threatened unless the Victorian Labor government gets its radical plan to revive state ownership of electricity supply exactly right.
Big industry fears they will be slugged with higher prices and be forced to take on more risk under the plan by a re-elected Andrews government to revive the State Energy Corporation to invest, own and retail renewable power.
The fears voiced by the group representing companies such as Brickworks and Bluescope Steel came as major renewables investors said they won’t invest the tens of billions of dollars required to meet Victoria’s proposed 95 per cent renewables target for 2035 if they are disadvantaged in any way against the new state player.
A misstep in the design of Victoria’s revamped system – which involves the revival of the State Electricity Commission – could also deter much-needed investment elsewhere in the east coast grid, which is already under pressure amid the accelerating transition to clean energy.”
The comments come as it emerged that the Victorian plan is based on hugely ambitious assumptions for the introduction early next decade of green hydrogen as a fuel for power generation, a fuel that is currently not available. It also assumes brown coal is replaced by “deep storage” and offshore wind, technologies that are high-cost or, in the case of offshore wind, not currently used here.”