Simon Corbell recognised for outstanding contribution to clean energy sector

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Former ACT environment minister recognised for outstanding contribution to clean energy industry.

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Simon Corbell. Credit: APP/Lukas Coch
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The Australian clean energy sector has recognised the achievements of former ACT environment minister and clean energy stalwart Simon Corbell with the Outstanding Contribution to Industry Award.

The award ceremony was held as part of the Clean Energy Summit, currently underway in Sydney, with other awards being given for Innovation, Community Engagement, and Market and Communications.

Simon Corbell was awarded the 2019 award for Outstanding Contribution to Industry, in recognition for nearly a decade of advocacy and spear heading innovative renewable energy policy during an otherwise challenging time for the sector.

The former ACT deputy chief minister also served as the ACT minister for the environment between 2011 and 2016, when he oversaw the development of the ACT’s reverse auction tenders, providing long term PPA’s as the main tool to meeting the ACT’s commitment to 100% renewable electricity by 2020.

By running a competitive reverse tender process, the ACT Government was able to secure 20-year power purchase agreements with large-scale solar and wind projects, picking the projects at the lowest cost.

While the ACT’s contribution to overall electricity demand was small, the role of the auctions overseen by Corbell served as a crucial lifeline to the large-scale renewable energy sector during the darkest periods under the Abbott federal government.

The initiative was able to underpin the construction of wind farms across Victoria, New South Wales and Victoria, along with three large-scale solar farms within the ACT.

Energetics estimated that more than half of Australia’s total large-scale renewable energy investment in 2015, and more than a quarter of investment in 2016, was secure by the ACT Government.

The final projects are due to supply the ACT with electricity in October this year, taking the ACT to 100% renewable electricity ahead of its 2020 goal. By switching to 100% renewable electricity, the ACT will reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions by around 40 per cent.

“Simon introduced Australia’s first reverse auction program for renewables while he was Deputy Chief Minister of the ACT, a highly innovative program that came during a very challenging time for the industry. He also led the territory’s push towards Australia’s most ambitious renewable energy target – 100 per cent by 2020,” the Clean Energy Council’s Kane Thornton said.

“He has never wavered on the importance of addressing climate change, and he has found ways to deliver where others have struggled. It is my absolute honour and privilege to present Simon with this award for his remarkable efforts.”

Corbell retired from politics leading into the 2016 ACT election, but as remained engaged with the renewable energy sector.

Corbell served as the Victorian Renewable Energy Advocate, promoting the state’s renewable energy sector and continuing to inject a positive voice into the debate over energy policy.

Earlier this year, Corbell joined advisory firm Energy Estate as a Chief Advisor. Corbell has also served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra, an Honorary Associate Professor at the Australian National University, and a Patron of the Smart Energy Council.

The Innovation Award was given to Networks Renewed, a partnership between AusNet Services, Essential Energy, the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University Technology Sydney, Mondo and Reposit.

Networks Renewed undertook a trial that demonstrated the role that consumer solar and battery installations can play in voltage regulation services in distribution networks. The project was completed with the assistance of a $1.59 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The Community Engagement Award was given the Mondo, who worked with the community energy project Totally Renewable Yackandandah, to develop a mini-grid that would enable the Victorian town of Yackandandah to produce 100% of its electricity from renewable sources, and saving the community more than $160,000 in energy costs in the process.

“Mondo developed a mini-grid in the small town of Yackandandah in Victoria allowing the community to receive 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2022. With the project already saving the town $160,000 in energy costs, the business was awarded the Community Engagement award,” Thornton said.

The Marketing and Communications Award was give to Vicinity Centres, which undertook a campaign to communicate its Integrated Energy Strategy to stakeholders. Vicinity operates more than 60 shopping centres across Australia, and used clean energy projects undertaken at the shopping centres to promote clean energy, reaching almost 2 million people.

Vicinity invested more than $75 million in the rollout of commercial rooftop solar and storage at sites across five states.

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