Australia's Call for Electricity Market Reform
SEA Media Release
The Sustainable Energy Association of Australia (SEA) has welcomed the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA paper (CCI) on the future of the State’s electricity sector which urges the WA government to speed up energy market reform to allow market competition and consumer choice.
SEA agrees with CCI that an open, transparent and competitive market is the best means of achieving secure, affordable and efficient supply of electricity. Such reforms will facilitate investment in efficient electricity generation, drive efficiency and innovation through retail choice and incentivise energy efficiency.
“Energy market reforms leading to the disaggregation of Western Power in 2006 were strongly supported by industry to create a competitive market, and those reforms are not yet complete,” says SEA chief adviser Professor Ray Wills.
The reform process has to date achieved some important successes with $2 billion of private investment in electricity generation, greater security of supply, and a competitive market opened to medium and large size businesses allowing choice in electricity retailer and competitive electricity pricing.
“Monopoly operations anywhere are a barrier to developing a free market with competitive pricing and innovative new products - for the benefits of electricity reform to flow to small business and to residential consumers the reform process needs to continue and bring about full retail contestability,” says Prof Wills.
SEE OTHER TOP STORIES IN THE ENERGY DIGITAL CONTENT NETWORK
SEA broadly welcomes the analysis from CCI that has outlined a number of issues limiting the progression to a more competitive electricity market including the slow progress towards increased competition in the retail market, and limiting the development of competition in the generation, wholesaling and retailing of electricity.
However, SEA strongly disagrees with CCI comments on Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET).
SEA notes CCI repeats old myths on claimed inefficiencies of renewable energy schemes, primarily by regurgitating a flawed analysis from the State’s Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) that claimed an adverse impact of renewable energy schemes on consumers, a position SEA has previously argued was developed on old data.
CCI’s consideration of renewable energy cites as evidence the ERA report that presented long-outdated numbers on the cost of renewables and failed to appraise the rapid changes in renewable energy pricing in 2011. CCI’s commentary similarly failed to consider price reductions that are now widely reported in 2012, nor the potential for ongoing rapid price reductions in the deployment of renewable energy into the future.
A shift to lower emissions electricity generation through the renewable energy target, including wind and solar power, has made a relatively small contribution to price rises, but no consideration has been made of the balancing that has now been reported by utilities across Australia, and evident reduction in growth requirements on the main contributors to price increases, meaning fewer upgrades to poles and wires, improved electricity quality and reliability, and avoiding the need for investment in new fossil-fuel based generation.
“On-going electricity price reform is eliminating mechanisms that led to subsidies for the use of fossil fuel in the generation of electricity, and an absence of cost reflective pricing that has perversely inhibited the take up of renewable energy in Western Australia,” says Prof. Wills
Similarly, SEA is concerned that the rate of change in the electricity market around Australia including WA is not informing plans for large infrastructure spend.
“Decline in electricity consumption is being witnessed across Australia as increasing energy efficiency in homes and businesses combines with domestic and business consumer reaction to price rises bringing behavioural change reducing electricity use, and supported by massive growth in roof-top solar generation of electricity dropping on-grid consumption by households means this decline will continue,” says Prof Wills.
“Decisions on increasing levels of public investment in electricity infrastructure are being driven by assumptions that increasing consumption patterns requires more investment to keep pace with demand, assumptions that are clearly flawed based on data from around Australia and around the world,” says Prof Wills.
Prof Ray Wills, SEA chief adviser – 0430 365 607
Itronics successfully tests manganese recovery process
Itronics - a Nevada-based emerging cleantech materials growth company that manufacturers fertilisers and produces silver - has successfully tested two proprietary processes that recover manganese, with one process recovering manganese, potassium and zinc from paste produced by processing non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. The second recovers manganese via the company’s Rock Kleen Technology.
Manganese, one of the four most important industrial metals and widely used by the steel industry, has been designated by the US Federal Government as a "critical mineral." It is a major component of non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, one of the largest battery categories sold globally.
The use of manganese in EV batteries is increasing as EV battery technology is shifting to use of more nickel and manganese in battery formulations. But according to the US Department of Interior, there is no mine production of manganese in the United States. As such, Itronics is using its Rock Kleen Technology to test metal recoverability from mine tailings obtained from a former silver mine in western Nevada that has a high manganese content.
In a statement, Itronics says that its Rock Kleen process recovers silver, manganese, zinc, copper, lead and nickel. The company says that it has calculated – based on laboratory test results – that if a Rock Kleen tailings process is put into commercial production, the former mine site would become the only primary manganese producer in the United States.
Itronics adds that it has also tested non-rechargeable alkaline battery paste recovered by a large domestic battery recycling company to determine if it could use one of its hydrometallurgical processes to solubilize the manganese, potassium, and zinc contained in the paste. This testing was successful, and Itronics was able to produce material useable in two of its fertilisers, it says.
"We believe that the chemistry of the two recovery processes would lend itself to electrochemical recovery of the manganese, zinc, and other metals. At this time electrochemical recovery has been tested for zinc and copper,” says Dr John Whitney, Itronics president.
“Itronics has been reviewing procedures for electrochemical recovery of manganese and plans to move this technology forward when it is appropriate to do so and has acquired electro-winning equipment needed to do that.
"Because of the two described proprietary technologies, Itronics is positioned to become a domestic manganese producer on a large scale to satisfy domestic demand. The actual manganese products have not yet been defined, except for use in the Company's GOLD'n GRO Multi-Nutrient Fertilisers. However, the Company believes that it will be able to produce chemical manganese products as well as electrochemical products," he adds.
Itronics’ research and development plant is located in Reno, about 40 miles west of the Tesla giga-factory. Its planned cleantech materials campus, which will be located approximately 40 miles south of the Tesla factory, would be the location where the manganese products would be produced.
Panasonic is operating one of the world's largest EV battery factories at the Tesla location. However, Tesla and other companies have announced that EV battery technology is shifting to use of nickel-manganese batteries. Itronics is positioned and located to become a Nevada-0based supplier of manganese products for battery manufacturing as its manganese recovery technologies are advanced, the company states.
A long-term objective for Itronics is to become a leading producer of high purity metals, including the U.S. critical metals manganese and tin, using the Company's breakthrough hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, and electrochemical technologies. ‘Additionally, Itronics is strategically positioned with its portfolio of "Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies" to help solve the recently declared emergency need for domestic production of Critical Minerals from materials located at mine sites,’ the statement continues.
The Company's growth forecast centers upon its 10-year business plan designed to integrate its Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies and to grow annual sales from $2 million in 2019, to $113 million in 2025.