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Energy News

Employee profile: Andrew Wilson

As a self-confessed “energy nerd”, Andrew Wilson joined CS Energy in 2023 in the role of Future Energy Development Lead and it’s clear he lives and breathes renewable energy.

Andrew leads the day-to-day development activities for the company’s portfolio of future energy projects – from coordinating planning and environmental studies to managing geotechnical studies, connection applications and stakeholder engagement, as well as negotiating with contractors and suppliers for contracts to deliver equipment and construct assets.

“I am responsible for all the steps necessary to take a project from being a concept or idea on a piece of paper through to putting a shovel in the ground and starting construction. It’s incredibly exciting to be part of the full journey and to see something go from the genesis of an idea to a billion-dollar asset,” he says.

Andrew has almost 15 years of experience in renewable energy projects and energy markets. He has previously been the project director for the University of Queensland’s Warwick Solar Farm and, most recently, was a Director in KPMG’s Energy and Renewables team.

While passionate about solving the many complex challenges that arise on a typical renewable energy project, Andrew is just as passionate about renewables at home. He was an early adopter of solar and battery storage at home, drives an electric vehicle (EV) and is a blogger and podcaster on the topic of renewables.

“I love this sector and I enjoy helping people understand the most complex energy market in the world. Change is happening fast – five years doesn’t sound like a long time, but in that brief period, we are seeing incredible take-up in solar, and now around one in ten new cars are EVs.”

Andrew says the coming 12 months will be a time of intense activity, with CS Energy playing a critical role in the energy transition by ensuring the timely delivery of planned projects to support the delivery of Queensland’s renewable and emissions reduction goals.

“There is nowhere else I’d like to be than working at a company like CS Energy at this time in history. It is unique, because while there are a lot of companies developing and delivering new energy projects, very few of them have the scale and full life cycle of CS Energy,” he says.

“This is a business that’s been running a huge generation fleet and a retail business and a wholesale trading business for many years, but it is also now one of the country’s leading new project developers – managing an orderly transition of its portfolio while delivering reliable energy for Queensland.”

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Energy News

Kogan Renewable Hydrogen Demonstration Plant – Answering Your FAQs

The Kogan Renewable Hydrogen Demonstration Plant is a renewable hydrogen production facility that is under construction next to CS Energy’s Kogan Creek Power Station in Queensland’s Western Downs. The demonstration plant is the second project in the Kogan Clean Energy Hub that CS Energy is adding to the site, following the Chinchilla Battery. 

Kogan Renewable Plant

Below are some frequently asked questions to learn more about this renewable hydrogen project.  

What is CS Energy’s Kogan Renewable Hydrogen Project? 

The Kogan Renewable Hydrogen Demonstration Plant is a demonstration scale hydrogen production facility. 

The hydrogen demonstration plant includes the co-location of a solar farm, battery, hydrogen electrolyser, hydrogen fuel cell, hydrogen storage and outloading facility.  

When completed, the project will produce approximately 75,000 kilograms of renewable hydrogen annually.  

How will the renewable hydrogen be used?

Negotiation of offtake arrangements for the heavy haulage sector are continuing as are investigations into a potential refueling network for renewable hydrogen in the Western Downs.  

CS Energy will also export renewable hydrogen to the Republic of Palau as part of a collaboration with Sojitz Corporation and Nippon Engineering Consultants to assess the use of hydrogen in marine vessels.  

Why demonstrate renewable hydrogen? 

Renewable hydrogen will have an important role to play in Queensland meeting its target of 70 per cent renewable energy by 2032. Renewable hydrogen has a range of uses – as a transport fuel, to store electricity and as a raw material in industrial processes.  

How will the project contribute to the emerging renewable hydrogen industry in Queensland? 

Our aim is to produce renewable hydrogen and provide energy and other grid services while gaining expertise from an operational hydrogen plant to ensure Queensland is ahead of the game in terms of hydrogen production, storage, transport and handling capabilities. By demonstrating the successful production of renewable hydrogen we can prove its potential for use in hard to abate sectors like heavy haulage transport and empower businesses to decarbonise. 

What about CS Energy’s employees and local suppliers, what benefits will the project provide them? 

The demonstration project has created up to 10 jobs in the construction phase. In the operational phase, CS Energy will have a team of six people working across the Kogan Renewable Hydrogen Demonstration Plant and the Chinchilla Battery. 

CS Energy partnered with Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise to map the capability and potential of local skills in the region to support the nascent hydrogen supply chain, including within CS Energy’s existing workforce.  This work has provided CS Energy and our construction contractor IHI Engineering Australia with a database of local businesses to approach for tenders during the construction and operation of the Kogan facility.

How does the Kogan plant produce renewable hydrogen? 

Kogan in five steps:  

  1. Our 2MW solar farm produces renewable energy onsite to power our hydrogen electrolyser.   
  2. Our 1MW electrolyser then produces hydrogen by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, a process known as electrolysis. 
  3. Green hydrogen flows from the electrolyser to either the onsite storage or hydrogen transport trailers.     
  4. Our 2MW/4MWh battery stores excess solar energy so hydrogen can be produced outside solar hours and can be stored in bulk onsite.
  5. Trucks then drive to collect hydrogen from the decanting station for distribution to offsite customers and to retail refueling facilities. 
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Energy News

Employee Profile: Michael Johnstone

With nearly 20 years in the Queensland energy sector, CS Energy’s Head of Renewable and Firming Operations, Michael Johnstone, is more excited than ever about the future.  

Michael is tasked with bringing CS Energy’s new assets online as part of the company’s strategy to build a more diverse portfolio to support Queensland’s clean energy future.   

“Fundamentally, my job is to ensure that on project completion we can trade and operate the new assets safely, that customer needs are met and that we deliver a commercial return for the business,” Michael said.  

“My role is at the forefront of how CS Energy is supporting the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan. How well we do this now will have a lasting impact on the business well into the future.” 

Michael has led teams at power stations, and at the corporate level, in engineering, asset management and major projects. He says he is excited by the opportunity to help drive the energy transformation and sees CS Energy as ideally positioned to take a leading role in Queensland. 

Queensland energy sector
Construction of the Chinchilla Battery at the Kogan Creek Clean Energy Hub

“CS Energy’s Callide and Kogan Creek power stations will play an important role in the future as clean energy hubs.  

“These power stations are located in strong parts of the network and have strategic advantages such as highly skilled workers, grid connection, water allocations, available land and established community relationships. 

“The Kogan Creek Clean Energy Hub is our first, and most advanced energy hub, and features battery and green hydrogen projects now under construction.” 

As CS Energy starts to incorporate these new energy sources in its portfolio, Michael said he was most excited about the development opportunities they will provide employees.  

“Our employees have highly transferable technical and operational skills, combined with a strong safety mindset. 

“We have formed strategic partnerships with industry experts such as Tesla, IHI, Senex Energy and Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise to help us bring these projects to fruition. 

“By partnering with experts in their fields, we are using our funding to the best and highest advantage, while also enabling our people to gain skills and benefits that would otherwise not be available.” 

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Energy News

What is the role of renewable gas?

In March this year, our EGM Future Energy Emma Roberts attended the 10th annual Australian Domestic Gas Outlook as a panellist and discussed the role and growth of both natural and renewable gas in Australia 

Emma shares some insights on this emerging fuel below. 

What is renewable gas? 

Renewable gas doesn’t produce any greenhouse gas emissions when it is made or used. Examples of renewable gas are biomethane and renewable hydrogen. 

What role could renewable gases like hydrogen play in the power grid?  

Renewable hydrogen has the potential to provide electricity to the grid when other energy sources (such as wind and solar) are not available. 

While blending renewable hydrogen with natural gas will provide lower emissions gas over the coming decade, the objective is to shift towards 100% renewable hydrogen to provide dispatchable electricity, particularly during times of peak demand. 

What are some of the issues to be overcome to make the shift? 

In the short term, it will be important for energy producers to take advantage of declining technology costs and economies of scale to reduce production costs. 

Hydrogen-ready gas turbines will create a demand for hydrogen that encourages increased production capability, in readiness for rising domestic demand from industrial feedstock and the transport industry.   

Renewable Gas
                                    Photo credit: Jacquie Manning

Natural gas and renewable hydrogen are likely to need to co-exist for some time yet, as technology and industry continue to evolve.  

What are the other potential uses for renewable hydrogen? 

Renewable hydrogen shows enormous promise for decarbonising heavy road transport. It even could be applied to marine transport. For example, some of the renewable hydrogen produced at our Kogan demonstration plant will be exported to the Republic of Palau as part of a multi-party project to assess its use in fuel cells and marine vessels.  

There are also emerging markets such as sustainable aviation fuel which could provide near-term opportunities.  

It is now up to the electricity and gas industry and governments to invest and explore all the options as we transition to Net Zero and consider the export potential of Australia in the future. 

Follow Emma Roberts on LinkedIn  

Follow CS Energy on LinkedIn  

Learn more about the Australian Domestic Gas Outlook here 

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Energy News

Creating local opportunities in the global energy transformation

As a major provider of electricity in Queensland since 1997, CS Energy recognises that we have a leading role to play in developing creative solutions to the state’s future energy requirements. 

The energy sector is undergoing the most profound change seen in generations. Governments and business around the world are grappling with the ‘energy trilemma’ of balancing affordability, sustainability and reliability. 

CS Energy Chinchilla Battery Project Render

While the future energy market is uncertain, we know that the future generation mix will primarily be renewable. Battery storage, hydrogen, virtual power plants and rooftop solar panels will also play a larger role in the grid. And customers will have more choice and more power about the energy they purchase. 

CS Energy Chinchilla Battery Project Render

In recent years, CS Energy has been evolving from a thermal generator into a diversified energy business exploring new technologies, products and partnerships. We are pursuing diversification opportunities that expand our customer base, leverage technology and renewables, and respond to opportunities in distributed generation. 

As we transform our business, we are mindful of the significant role we play in the towns and communities in which we operate, and where most of our employees live and work. Our transition to the energy of tomorrow can only happen in partnership with our communities, our employees and their families. CS Energy’s path to sustainability must be aligned with and informed by their expectations and first-hand experience. 

Chinchilla is located in the Western Downs region of Queensland

That’s why our future energy investment program is focussed on the regions where we operate – the Western Downs and Central Queensland. We are exploring greenfield opportunities, such as the Banana Range Wind Farm, as well as repurposing our existing sites into “energy hubs”.  

These hubs will utilise the existing attributes of our power station sites – highly skilled workforces, available land, water and transmission connections. We’ve already started this process at Kogan Creek where we’ve announced green hydrogen and battery projects. It’s an approach that we plan to replicate in Central Queensland in and around our Callide Power Station site near Biloela.

Converting publicly owned coal-fired power stations into future clean energy hubs is also a key feature of the State Government’s Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan.

Of course, with new energy technology, we will need to form new partnerships and develop new skills. We are excited to be working with Tesla and IHI Engineering Australia delivering our new projects at Kogan Creek. The opportunity for our people to work alongside and learn from these industry experts is enormously valuable. 

At the local level, our hydrogen skills mapping partnership with Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise is tapping into the skills and capabilities of local suppliers to participate in the hydrogen value chain. 

As we transition, we are mindful of all aspects of sustainability. Reducing emissions is an important driver, but it must occur in a way that keeps electricity affordable and supports the ongoing prosperity of regional communities.  

To learn more about CS Energy’s Future Energy initiatives visit https://www.facebook.com/csenergytomorrow  

 

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Energy Future Energy News

CS Energy Employee Profile: James Larche

James Larche on a career in the evolving energy industry

Since joining the business in 2015, Project Manager James Larche has experienced first-hand CS Energy’s transformation to a diversified energy business.

James is currently seconded to the Future Energy team and works on the renewable hydrogen and battery projects the business is developing at its Kogan Energy Hub on the Western Downs.

“This is a natural progression from my earlier experience managing sustaining capital projects at Kogan Creek Power Station, and in prior roles in the oil and gas industry”, James says.

James remembers the replacement of the horizontal reheater and boiler nose during the overhaul at the Kogan Creek Power Station in 2019 as a standout project during his time at CS Energy.

“My favourite part of any project is taking it from concept through to operation. While the project wasn’t without its challenges, we achieved this by working with stakeholders and sharing this sense of achievement once we’d successfully delivered.”

When talking about the experiences and opportunities a career in the energy industry can offer, James describes his time working with the Chinchilla BEST (Bringing Employees and Students Together) program. This initiative is supported by the Western Downs Regional Council, Chinchilla Chamber of Commerce, local industry and schools. It teaches students essential soft skills, such as the importance of presentation and preparedness, problem-solving and communication, that will help them transition from school and university into the workforce.

“We conducted some great activities such as mock job interviews, careers fairs and site tours so the students could get a taste of what’s to come when they join an energy business. The students often had a pre-conceived idea of what a career in energy looked like. It was only after speaking with them and showing them what’s on offer and what’s possible, that they could start picturing a role not only at CS Energy but also in the wider energy industry.”

James says that for those looking for a change or to work in energy for the first time is to “do your research” so you can understand the varied opportunities on offer. And finally, to broaden your networks within the energy sector to learn about different people’s experience, skills and insights.

Learn more about opportunities and careers at CS Energy: https://www.csenergy.com.au/careers/working-at-cs-energy

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Energy News

MoU Signed with CS Energy and Bowen Renewable Energy Hub

 

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed with CS Energy and the Bowen Renewable Energy Hub.  

This MoU is for the PHES (Pumped Hydro Energy Storage) component of the project. 

PHES works by cycling water between an upper and lower reservoir. During low electricity demand periods, water is pumped from a lower dam to a higher one, where it is stored as potential energy until it is needed. The water is then released later when demand is high to power a turbine to produce electricity. In this way it works like a giant rechargeable battery. 

PHES can produce large amounts of electricity over a long duration so can provide reliable and dispatchable generation. 
 
The Bowen Renewable Hub (located in the Mackay hinterland, on Widi Country) is a 1.4 gigawatt integrated renewable and energy storage project that is being developed by Bowen River Utilities and Renewable Energy Partners.  
 
CS Energy is considering multiple options for participating in the PHES component, including a power purchase agreement, equity funding and project operations. 
 
Stage 1 is expected to be online by 2028 and has been designed to deliver 750MW and 16hrs of storage (12,000MWh).  

By 2033, Stage 2 is expected to be online and delivering an additional 12,000MWh of storage.  

This exciting project demonstrates how CS Energy continues to diversify our portfolio to ensure a balanced mix of energy sources to support our customers’ requirements and Queensland’s energy needs. 

Watch this video below to learn more about the project. 

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Energy News

Saving it for later: Batteries and energy storage explained

 

The changing energy market requires targeted investment in a mix of flexible low-emission technologies to deliver more reliable, affordable and sustainable energy.

To achieve this, we need to be planning and investing now, to ensure these game-changing technologies will be available when needed.

Battery storage technology has developed at incredible speed in recent years due to its ability to respond rapidly to changes in the energy market or power system.

Queensland is leading the way when it comes to energy storage innovation and investment, as seen recently through CS Energy’s partnership with Powerlink on the Greenbank battery project.

Energy storage is rightly dubbed a “game-changer”, but what exactly is it?

Put simply, energy storage is the capture of energy (using an accumulator or battery) that is produced at one time of day for use later on. This helps to reduce imbalances between energy demand and energy production.

Queensland is the perfect location to invest in energy storage projects because there’s so much solar and wind energy available to soak up and store to feed into the energy system when homes and businesses need it most. 

As part of its Future Energy strategy, CS Energy is also investigating investments in other forms of energy storage, including pumped hydroelectricity storage (PHES) and renewable gas.

PHES involves circulating water between an upper and lower reservoir which is then released through a turbine to generate power.

Renewable gas involves using low or no emissions alternative fuels such as hydrogen fuel in a combustion chamber and turbine to produce electricity.

CS Energy is looking to integrate a range of storage assets into its portfolio to meet evolving energy systems needs and customer expectations, while putting downward pressure on prices and transforming its generation portfolio.

With the technology firmly established, the race is on to roll energy storage out to support renewables as part of the global energy transformation.

However, as with any new technology comes questions. So as part of the conversation about our future energy needs, we’ve compiled a few handy facts about energy storage.

  1. Energy storage is reliable and predictable
    • Many energy blackouts are most often caused by problems with the transportation of electricity, rather than how the energy was actually generated. For example, in the past decade over 97 per cent of outages across the National Electricity Market can be traced to the poles and wires that transport power to homes and businesses. (Source: Grattan Institute)
    • Although batteries and PHES can only “discharge” (supply energy) for a set number of hours every day (depending on the storage capacity and charging strategy), it is often during periods of peak demand on the grid when they are needed the most.
    • Another benefit of storage is its reliability and convenience as batteries can be activated in just fractions of a second and start discharging energy immediately. And of course, the beauty of batteries is that they can capture excess energy that would otherwise be lost.
  2. Batteries are safe
    • Australia has one of the most robust safety standards and enforcement regimes in the world and there are stringent standards and procedures to ensure customer safety.
  3. Batteries are becoming a more affordable option for communities and homes
    • Battery storage technology continues to become cheaper, more efficient and more flexible as it evolves and is rolled out around the world.
    • By locating energy storage systems closer to the end-users, governments and industry spend much less on interconnection, transmission and distribution network infrastructure.
    • Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) are another great solution for communities and homes. VPPs are a network of connected solar batteries that can be coordinated like a pop-up power plant, with the energy discharged from each battery being used to provide a large bank of controllable solar energy. This energy can then help stabilise the grid and reduce reliance on coal power, therefore creating a future where energy is more affordable and renewable.
  4. Energy storage is a growing industry, creating jobs and economic opportunities
    • The growing demand for energy storage suggests there will be enormous demand for specialists in the development, construction, deployment and management of the Australian battery industry.
    • With Australia’s R&D infrastructure, a highly-skilled workforce and a commitment to a decarbonised energy future, energy storage represents a transformational opportunity to evolve, develop and transfer skills so Australians working in the energy industry don’t get left behind as the country transitions to renewables.

Learn more about CS Energy’s work with batteries here.

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Energy News

Two new executives help drive CS Energy’s future energy vision

CS Energy is excited to announce two new appointments to the CS Energy Executive Leadership Team which will help the company lead Queensland towards a decarbonised energy future.

Emma Roberts has been appointed Executive General Manager Future Energy and will spearhead several significant projects such as the Kogan Renewable Hydrogen Demonstration Plant, the Chinchilla and Greenbank battery projects and a number of renewable energy investments.

Emma has a deep understanding of the energy market and the dynamic challenges and opportunities ahead. Emma has been acting in the role since the Future Energy division was established in 2021.

Barry Millar, our new Executive General Manager Asset Management will lead CS Energy’s holistic approach to asset management. He joins us from AGL and brings significant expertise in maximising the performance of plant and engineering services.

These appointments are incredibly important to the future direction of CS Energy as we strive to find new opportunities and creative solutions for a diversified energy future. 

As we have seen recently, reliable energy is fundamental to Australia’s prosperity, and never before has the community been so focused on how we achieve a truly sustainable energy future.

Our mission is to deliver the energy needs of today, while planning and investing and for tomorrow’s changing energy needs and lead the industry in meeting Queensland’s 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030. 

CS Energy is delivering new energy solutions that are developed and tailored for Queensland’s future energy requirements and that will make a meaningful difference to the future we leave for generations to come.

Emma and Barry are passionate about their roles and we are delighted to have them on board.

Learn more about what we’re doing in the Future Energy space here.

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Energy News

Big battery blitz a “game-changer” for Queensland’s energy needs.

Big battery blitz a “game-changer” for Queensland’s energy needs

A new 400MWh battery at Powerlink Queensland’s Greenbank site will be a vital part of Queensland’s renewable energy revolution, according to CS Energy CEO Andrew Bills.

CS Energy recently took an important step in our diversification into new energy sources with the construction of Queensland’s largest utility-scale battery.

The 400MWh Greenbank battery is part of an innovative partnership between Queensland’s publicly-owned CS Energy and Powerlink.

The new battery follows the announcement of our Chinchilla Battery earlier this year and has the potential to be “a game-changer” in the way the grid is operated, capable of soaking up and storing the state’s solar and wind energy and feed into the system when Queenslanders need it.

Queensland has one of the highest rates of rooftop solar installation in the world and large-scale batteries like Greenbank will allow us to capture this energy and help achieve Queensland’s 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.

Investing in fast-start energy storage assets will give our portfolio greater flexibility to respond to changing demand patterns in the National Electricity Market.

Batteries can rapidly respond when there is a sudden gap in electricity supply in the grid, which helps to reduce wholesale price volatility.

Together, CS Energy and our partners aim to deliver more reliable, affordable and cleaner energy for Queensland.  

The Greenbank battery is one of 13 batteries to be rolled out by Queensland Government owned corporations.