It was a night with a twist in the 2017 Clean Energy Council Awards, as several projects tied for first place in the Innovation category at the NAB Gala Dinner at the Australian Clean Energy Summit in Sydney.

Horizon Power shared the Clean Energy Council Innovation Award with a community mini-grid project delivered by AusNet Services with Greensync and Power Tec.

The Climate Council won the Community Engagement Award for its work responding to the state-wide blackout in South Australia in September 2016, while the Outstanding Contribution to Industry Award was given to former Clean Energy Regulator head Chloe Munro, who also worked on the recent review of Australia’s energy security with Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel.

Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton said innovation across the renewable energy sector was the norm rather than the exception, and had helped to rapidly reduce the costs of generating power and improve efficiency.

“There are so many transformative projects and technologies happening in energy across the country, and a huge number of talented and passionate people constantly delivering improvements in the way Australia uses and delivers energy. It is always a great honour to congratulate the best of the best at these awards,” Thornton said.

“The awards show the depth of what is happening across the industry, including the engagement work being done by groups such as the Climate Council. I have worked with Chloe Munro over many years and am very pleased to recognise her powerful contribution. Her leadership helped build a first-class regulatory body and supported the growing maturity of this industry – and we are all the richer for it.”

The winners of the 2017 Clean Energy Council Awards are:

The Outstanding Contribution to Industry Award was presented to Chloe Munroe for her sustained leadership in the clean energy industry.

The Clean Energy Council Innovation Award was shared by two projects:

Horizon Power designed a new way of billing for electricity similar to mobile phone plans to increase understanding and engagement from customers. Users can track their energy use with an app that helps them to save money by staying under a set energy allowance each hour.

AusNet Services worked with Greensync and PowerTec to establish a community mini grid in a street in Mooroolbark, Victoria. Homes in the project could share energy between themselves and the project investigated the operation of a stand-alone mini grid within the broader energy network using 100 per cent renewable energy, which also led to substantial customer savings.

The trial involves 14 homes in Melbourne’s outer east, with a series of scenarios being conducted to provide an understanding of how renewable and community energy projects can be efficiently integrated into the network and how the electricity grid can benefit from localised energy generation.

Testing so far has focused on managing the high levels of solar power within the mini grid, assessing customer benefits and exploring how mini grid technology can improve customer reliability by providing power during network outages.

The Clean Energy Council Business Community Engagement Award was presented to The Climate Council, which developed a strategy to combat the misinformation surrounding the role of renewable energy in the September 2016 state-wide blackout in South Australia. It used written and video communication, social media, journalist backgrounding and stakeholder briefings to help combat public misinformation.