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Geelong Community Solar Program's first customers.

Business news: Another building company Snowdon Developments believed to be close to collapse 

Victorian building company Snowden Developments is believed to be on the brink of collapse, with 15 creditors chasing it for debts totalling $2.5 million. Creditors are requesting the Supreme Court of Victoria force the company to go into liquidation “on the grounds of insolvency”. 

Employees allegedly haven’t received their superannuation since October and more than half of staff have quit in the past few months as the company struggles to pay them. There are reportedly more than 200 residential homes in the pipeline to be built, and the company has shrunk in size from 70 staff to less than 30 people in recent months.

Australian architects invited to participate in design competition for Powerhouse Ultimo in Sydney 

The NSW Government is inviting architects across the nation to register their interest in a design competition for the renewal of one of the nation’s leading cultural institutions, Powerhouse Ultimo. A $480-$500 million investment by the NSW Government will enable a transformation of the museum in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.

Bringing together adaptive heritage reuse and contemporary museum practice, the renewal will ensure that the museum can continue to serve its communities, delivering new galleries dedicated to design and fashion, alongside expanded support for creative industries and more new spaces. Registrations of Interest open on Monday 27 June, followed by an Expression of Interest, followed by the Design Competition. 

“Registered architects, architectural practices, partnerships and teams across Australia are encouraged to take up the challenge of this significant platform to leave their mark on the Australian cultural landscape. This visionary project offers a singular opportunity to embrace the rich heritage aspects of the former Power Station whilst elevating the central role of contemporary design and fashion in a landmark cultural institution”, said competition advisor and CityLab founding director Andrew Mackenzie

Australian Renewable Energy Agency announces up to $45 million for the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics 

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has announced up to $45 million in funding to the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) to extend operations of solar photovoltaic (PV) research to 2030. Delivered by the University of New South Wales School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, ACAP was designed to provide an institutional framework for a coordinated, national approach to solar PV research in Australia. ACAP includes research groups at CSIRO, Australian National University, University of Melbourne, University of Queensland, University of Sydney and Monash University.

Australia in top three in world for solar air heating and swimming pool heating in 2021

The 2022 Solar Heating and Cooling report from the International Energy Agency has found that after Canada, Australia is the second largest market in the world for solar air heating systems, and the third largest market in the world, behind only the US and Brazil for solar swimming pool heating. Despite the pandemic, the global solar thermal market saw 3 per cent growth last year, after seven years of market declines. The sector saw a turnover of $US18.7 billion, with 109 million residential and commercial customers globally and provided jobs to around 380,000 people worldwide.

Tasmanian hydrogen project moves forward 

Renewable hydrogen project developer Countrywide Renewable Hydrogen (CRH)  has chosen a site at Brighton, near Hobart, as the location for its green hydrogen electrolysis production plant. CRH, a fully-owned subsidiary of ASX-listed clean energy accelerator ReNu Energy Limited, plans the generation of 1-2 megawatts, or 430-900 kilograms of hydrogen a day from the project to fulfil projected demand from natural gas consumers, road transport operators, and diesel users. Production is scheduled to begin in early 2024.

Flinders University launches vehicle-to-grid chargers 

Flinders University is launching 20 vehicle-to-grid chargers to export into the electricity grid additional capacity generated by the university’s fleet of electric vehicles at its Bedford Park campus in Adelaide. The South Australian Government is providing $350,000 as part of the South Australian Electric Vehicle Smart Charging Trials. 

In collaboration with ENGIE Australia & New Zealand, the EV fleet at Flinders University will be fully charged from low-demand night-time energy generated by ENGIE’s Willogoleche Wind Farm in South Australia, and intermittent daytime charging will be supplemented by the university’s onsite generated solar energy. 

Australian property market falls week on week after more than one in five Australian homes sold for $1 million or more

A record number of 1367 homes (30.4 per cent of residences) cost $1 million or more in the past year, CoreLogic’s annual Million Dollar Markets report has revealed. However, a downwards trend since January continues in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra as buyer and seller confidence wanes. 

Auction clearance rates continue to slide, with 2358 auctions held across the capital cities last week (down -6.7 per cent compared to last week, and down -20.3 per cent compared to this time last year). The number of A-grade properties for sale in Australia is in short supply and these are selling quickly, according to research from CoreLogic. 

“Since January, dwelling values across Sydney and Melbourne have started to decline, while values have continued to rise across South Australia and Queensland. More recently, Canberra, which had previously recorded many months of consecutive growth, recorded its first falls in dwelling values in some years in May,” said the report’s author, CoreLogic research analyst Kaytlin Ezzy.

CEPU and official penalised $72,000 for acting improperly at Sunshine Coast construction site

The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union of Australia (CEPU) and its official Daniel Bessell have been fined $72,000 by the Federal Circuit and Family Court. Mr Bessell was found to have failed to comply with occupational health and safety requirements during a visit to a six-storey residential and commercial development construction site the Hedge Apartments in Buddina, Queensland, in July 2018.

Over half of banks will not hit net zero targets

Only half of banks (53 per cent) will be ready for regulatory reporting in the next six months and over half (57 per cent) admit they will not hit net carbon zero operations until 2025, according to new findings from Microsoft solutions provider Avanade and global non-profit the European Financial Management Association. The pressure on banks to develop, monitor and achieve their ESG goals is intensifying, yet almost a third of banks (32 per cent) are struggling with poor data management.

Geelong community solar program boost renewable energy across region 

Geelong Sustainability, RACV Solar and Mondo have collaborated to install 2.5 megawatts of renewable energy capacity across the Shires of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast, Colac Otway, Golden Plains and the Borough of Queenscliffe. The Geelong Community Solar Program is part of the Geelong Sustainability initiative, which sees RACV Solar is donating 250 solar panels across eight community sites in the Geelong region including Feed Me Geelong, Point Lonsdale Lawn Bowls Club, Birregurra Bowling Club, Anglesea Art House, Apollo Bay Mechanics Hall, Gellibrand Community House, Norlane Community Centre and the Torquay Tigers Football Netball Club.

KPMG Nature Positive Challenge awards $200,000 innovative startups and impact ventures 

KPMG Australia’s inaugural Nature Positive Challenge received more than 50 expressions of interest from ventures working to solve nature and biodiversity-related challenges. Four finalists were selected based on their business models, leadership team, innovation, nature-positive impact, and scalability of solution. ULUU carbon negative and home compostable plastic alternative made from sustainably farmed seaweed won the $100,000 Nature Positive Prize. Finalists were Agronomeye, AirSeed and Ecocene

Atlas Copco to acquire Chinese industrial vacuum pump manufacturer

Swedish multinational industrial manufacturer Atlas Copco will acquire the assets of Shandong Jinggong Pump Co for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition is expected to be finalised during the third quarter of 2022, of the Chinese manufacturer of liquid ring vacuum pumps and systems mainly used in the chemical and other general industries. Atlas Copco has recently opened a new vacuum pump manufacturing facility in Asan City, South Korea, in response to a recent surge in global demand. Environmental sustainability was a key consideration in the new facility, the company claims. 

Dexus Industria real estate investment trust gains $11m

Australian real estate investment trust DEXUS Industria REIT’s 93-asset portfolio has been externally valued to a net valuation uplift of circa $11 million, or 0.6 per cent. Excluding stamp duty, this represents an uplift circa $26 million representing a 1.5 per cent increase in value of its office and industrial property assets. Dexus Convenience Retail REIT, which owns a portfolio of service station and convenience retail assets located across Australia announced that 38 of its 112 assets have been externally valued in the six months to 30 June 2022, with the remaining assets subject to internal valuations. The external and internal valuations have seen the portfolio value move up circa $14 million (net revaluation), representing a 1.7 per cent increase on prior book values for the six months to 30 June 2022.

The Fifth Estate publishes a weekly column on industry news every Tuesday. Send submissions to: rose@thefifthestate.com.au

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