Victoria announces hydrogen program, community renewables grants

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On top of its major state-based solar and battery initiatives, the Victorian Labor government has initiated a new hydrogen program and awarded new grants for community renewables.

Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio has announced the $2 million Victorian Hydrogen Investment Program, which will help fund a number of initiatives, including a grants program to kickstart Victoria’s hydrogen industry.

“Hydrogen fuel technologies can help boost local jobs in Victoria while helping us to tackle climate change,” Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said.

Amid a growing number of research and pilot projects aimed at commercialization of hydrogen across Australia, Victoria will fund hydrogen research and trials and investigate ways to draw on the state’s increasing renewable energy resources and natural gas pipeline infrastructure.

“We’re investing in this emerging industry so that Victoria is at forefront of the transition to clean energy,” D’Ambrossio said.

Another segment of the government’s plan to transition Victoria’s energy system to a low-carbon future are community-owned renewables.

On that note, the government has announced $1.1 million worth of grants to support nine projects across the state.

The funds will be issued under the Renewable Communities Program, which is is part of the Labor Government’s $20 million New Energy Jobs Fund.

The projects includes community solar and battery storage initiatives, smart grid technology and bioenergy projects, specifically:

Yackandandah Public VPP – Totally Renewable Yackandandah – $103,788

Hepburn Wind Community Solar Farm – Hepburn Community Wind Park Co-operative – $500,000

Skipton Hospital Straw Heating – Pyrenees Shire Council – $273,662

Powered for Life – Ballarat Renewable Energy & Zero Emissions – $7,728

The North East Solar Benefits program – Renewable Albury Wodonga – $54,256

Proudly Renewable Powered Disability Services – McCallum Disability Services – $49,500

Mirboo North Hall Precinct Project – Mirboo North Community Shed Co-operative – $88,000

Helped by Solar – Coghill’s Creek Progress Association – $6,363

Solar Panel Installation – Stony Creek Racecourse & Recreation Reserve – $56,000

“We’re giving local communities the tools they need to drive down energy costs and emissions,” said D’Ambrosio.

When it comes to driving down energy bills, the Victorian government has also announced reforms to make it easier for households to shop around and compare energy deals.

Namely, the Victorian government has supported the changes proposed by the Essential Services Commission, which would require energy retailers to provide customers with a fact sheet to easily compare energy plans based on the exact same information for each deal.

The sheets will include the average yearly cost and the cost for a typical family based on the number of people in a household, and exclude information that can be overly technical and confusing for customers.

The timing of when customers can have their bills adjusted based on a self-metre read will also now be mandated, helping to prevent bill shock, the government said in a release.