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Our operating environment

The Clean Energy Regulator actively scans the operating environment and addresses challenges and opportunities that arise. This is because our schemes affect, and are affected by, developments in the energy sector and emissions reduction policy. Our staff need to understand the operating environment and detect signals that may impact the agency’s operations.

Stakeholder interactions

Investment in renewable energy sources in Australia has increased dramatically. There is no longer a debate on whether the 2020 Large-scale Renewable Energy Target is achievable, as record levels of investment in 2018 mean that Australia is on track to substantially surpass the 2020 target. This is driving down emissions in the electricity sector. However, with Australia transitioning to renewable energy faster than any other country, a range of grid stability and reliability issues can arise.

Accordingly, we are committed to working with our policy partners—the Department of the Environment and Energy and the energy market bodies—to address the challenges facing the Australian energy sector in providing adequate, reliable and affordable energy while meeting international obligations to reduce emissions. We will continue to share our expertise, knowledge and data to inform all levels of government.

We are also focused on improving the administration of our schemes to ensure that they have integrity and deliver outcomes in line with community expectations. For example, in 2019–20 we will address government responses to the Climate Change Authority’s reviews on the Emissions Reduction Fund and the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting legislation, as part of the implementation of the Climate Solutions Fund.

The growth in renewable energy also means greater demand on the services that the agency provides. The agency will continue to support initiatives that are driven by the needs of participants and industry, making it easier for our scheme participants, partners and other stakeholders to deal with us and maximising efficiencies in process and regulation. Our recently launched Solar Panel Validation Initiative protects the integrity of the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme by providing an easy way for industry and consumers to check and confirm whether solar panels are genuine.

We strive to understand our participants to ensure that we are firm but fair in enabling them to comply with scheme obligations. We seek to improve the information and guidance we provide to assist existing and prospective participants to make informed decisions about participating in our schemes. By understanding the perspectives of the people and organisations we work with we can more effectively share our data, knowledge and expertise with our diverse range of stakeholders and partners.

This collaboration supports a coordinated approach across industry and government, encourages co-regulation with our regulatory partners and enhances our performance and effectiveness as a regulator.

Domestic markets

Implementing the Climate Solutions Fund will be a key focus for the agency over the next several years. We will need to promote the development of markets with a deliberate program of activities that boosts the supply of emissions reduction and abatement projects.

We will maintain a considered and consistent approach in our dealings with participants and publish regular market updates and datasets to ensure that the market is fully informed to function well.

Data collections

The agency is the custodian of Australia’s key emissions, energy and abatement data. We are in a unique position to provide trusted, reliable data and advice to state, territory and Commonwealth entities to inform policy and energy market reforms and to support Australia reaching its emissions targets. As a result, we are preserving the integrity of the data we hold and becoming more sophisticated in the ways we use and share that data.

We are guided by whole-of-government initiatives, such as the Australian Government’s Public Data Policy, and the secrecy provisions within our legislation with regard to how we govern, share and manage our data. We place a strong emphasis on pursuing opportunities to improve the ways we use data, ranging from automating processes to enhance efficiencies and decision-making, to harnessing data analytics to improve our understanding of relevant markets so that we can more readily adapt to changing circumstances and identify non-compliance early.

Technological developments

In the renewable energy sector, technologies are constantly being developed and refined to increase energy production and improve sustainability and cost-effectiveness. The emergence of more efficient and cheaper technology is a primary reason for the growth in investment in renewable energy, particularly in the solar energy sector. We are also seeing the production of new energy storage technology which provides much larger capacity for lower prices.

We will continue to keep ahead of technological developments, to understand the impact of new technologies on our schemes, markets and energy networks and to ensure that the advancement and introduction of new technology does not outpace regulation.

We are also committed to embracing digital transformation and building our digital capabilities to realise greater efficiencies in the way we do our work. We are focused on automating and updating our business systems, in line with the whole-of-government Digital Transformation Agenda, to better meet the needs of our participants and our agency in the future.

International developments

Our systems, capabilities and scheme administration are highly regarded. Accordingly, Australian carbon credit units are internationally regarded as being of high quality and integrity, and the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting framework is regarded as an example of reporting best practice around the world.

We collect a large volume of data on emissions and are able to provide international partners with advice on systems and frameworks, and share carbon market knowledge.

Should international markets further emerge from current Paris Agreement negotiations and government policy decisions we are well placed to support that development.

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