Australia’s National Wind Farm Commissioner’s role will be expanded to cover new major transmission projects from Friday.
Andrew Dyer, who took office in 2015, will now be known as the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner and will help to resolve complaints and concerns about transmission projects regarding the design, planning, construction, and operation phases. He will also assist industry and government to adopt best practices when deploying projects.
“As these critically important transmission projects take shape, we want to ensure that any concerns community members have are heard and resolved in the appropriate way, and the Commissioner’s expanded role will facilitate this.”
An example is the concern over Hume Link, a Government-supported transmission project which will transmit power from Snowy Hydro south of Canberra to the main electricity grid.
The communities through the Riverina, New South Wales, worry that the proposed route will endanger flora and fauna.
This comes at a time when the US Department of Energy will fund a commercial-scale test for an energy-storing technology in partnership with the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI).
Developed with input from CSIRO, the Australian National University, and the University of Adelaide, this technology converts sunlight into stored thermal energy, which can then be used to power turbines and generate electricity on demand at any time.
“Australian research is opening up new ways to generate clean electricity and reducing emissions around the world,” said Minister Taylor in a press release, noting that the Biden Administration has also announced a target on low-cost energy storage.
“Zero emissions, dispatchable energy sources like concentrated solar thermal storage will be needed to back up increasing shares of renewable energy.”
A pilot-scale facility in Newcastle, built by CSIRO, will be tested for the first time in the coming weeks.
Australia and America are currently collaborating closely on climate issues after agreeing to establish a joint working group for cooperation on low emissions technologies in January. Prime Minister Morrison was recently even forced to end a press conference early after receiving a call from John Kerry, Biden’s special envoy for climate.
AAP contributed to this report.