Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear power is no solution to climate change – theme for January 2015

In recent themes I wrote about nuclear power being in fact a big contributor to global warming,  and about how climate change will in fact finish off the nuclear industry.

But – let’s pretend that nuclear reactors really could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

TIME: To do that, 1500 one thousand megawatt-electric new reactors would be needed within a few yeas to displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil generation

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology Study on “The Future of Nuclear Power”   projected that a global growth scenario for as many as 1500 one thousand megawatt-electric new reactors would be needed to displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil generation. Average 115 built per year would reduce our CO2 use by only 16%.

When we talk about Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – that 1500 reactors needed translates to millions, (and these SMRs are already shown to be more costly than large ones,)

COSTS: historically and now, the costs of the nuclear industry are staggering. Cost estimates have increased in the past decade from $1,000 to $7,000 per kW installed. And that’s before additional costs – e.g new safety measures, decommissioning are added. U.S. Vogtle project  originally budgeted at $660 million, by 2013 cost $9 billion.   Rating agencies consider nuclear investment risky and the abandoning of nuclear projects explicitly “credit positive”.

Meanwhile – if the nuclear “climate cure” were to be pursued, the enormous costs and efforts involved would take away from the clean, fast, and ever cheaper solutions of energy efficiency and renewable energy.


January 10, 2015 Posted by | Christina themes | Leave a comment

Change the date of Australia Day – or make January 26 First Fleet Day – Dick Smith

Flag_AustraliaThe truth is January 26 should be First Fleet Day, not Australia Day, The Age  January 24, 2015 -Dick Smith I love this land and its people and believe I won the lottery of life being born here. Celebrating our national day on the date of British settlement in 1788 has never been a date that brings all Australians together, no matter how many flags we wave or happy barbecues we may enjoy. For many Indigenous Australians, the date is no holiday but a reminder of their country being taken over by others. It completely disrupted a way of life that had been undisturbed for 50,000 years.

The early British settlers considered Australia “Terra Nullius”, in effect an empty place that would be subject to British law and customs and the indigenous people were, for the most part, invisible and discounted.

Fortunately, in the last few decades most Australians have changed their views on this. We now understand that the first Australians lived here for countless generations in balance with the fragile Australian environment. Using fire and moving lightly on the land, they not only nurtured the environment, but developed a rich and remarkable culture that has survived longer than any civilisation in history……….

Finding another date will not be easy but it won’t be impossible, either.  I would suggest a date that is orientated towards when we gained our independence from British rule or perhaps a date based on when Matthew Flinders first used the name ‘Australia’.  January 26 could simply be known as ‘First Fleet Day’– yes, an important day for modern Australia but certainly not the day that our more inclusive society should celebrate as the day our nation was formed…….

I look forward to a day we can ALL celebrate as Australians.

January 24, 2015 Posted by | General News | 2 Comments

Australia’s lowest uranium production for 16 years

burial.uranium-industryLowest Australian uranium production for 16 years, World Nuclear Association 23 Jan 15  Due to the shutdown of ERA’s Ranger plant to June, and despite the rich Four-Mile deposit coming on line, Australia’s uranium production in 2014 at 5897 tonnes U3O8 (5000 tU) was the lowest since 1998. Two thirds of it was from Olympic Dam, where uranium is a by-product of copper.  Production from Four Mile is recovered at the Beverley plant, replacing output from that mine at about double the level.

January 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium | Leave a comment

Tasmanian government moves to restrict citizen’s power to criticise corporations

justiceThe examples of public campaigners being on the butt end of large-scale legal responses are too numerous to mention, but we should not forget: the Bannockburn Yellow Gum Action Group, the Hindmarsh Bridge campaigners, John Sinclair who campaigned to stop mining on Fraser Island, anti-nuclear campaigner Noel Wauchope and even the author of Forest-Friendly Building Timbers, who ran foul of the National Association of Forest Industries, resulting in some retailers withdrawing the book from sale.
To further restrict the ability of public interest campaigners to press their case, as the Tasmanian government proposes, is to make Australia’s free speech landscape deeply depressing. 
civil-liberty-2smCompanies suing critics. That’s the real enemy of free speech  Richard Ackland, Guardian 23 Jan 15 Tasmania wants to break ranks with uniform defamation laws to allow companies to take action against individuals. ….
….It is an article of faith in the Liberal party that the reputations of corporations and their delicate “feelings” be fully protected by the law. The Business Council of Australia was adamant. Hugh Morgan – the council’s president in 2005 – said the very idea that corporations should not be permitted to sue for defamation was an “outrageous attack on the corporate sector … The proposal remains an abomination.”

The Coalition government fought hard to give the captains and cabin boys of industry what they wanted. Ruddock insisted that companies be able to sue their detractors in the courts, but the Labor state governments wanted the prohibition against corporate libel actions to be the rule across the nation. It was one of the sticking points during the negotiations and, in the end, to get agreement Ruddock relented.

There was a weird sort of compromise, whereby only very small corporations, of less than 10 employees, could sue in their own name. This was a crumb tossed off the table so the commonwealth attorney general could save face.

Such has been the case since the uniform Defamation Act came into being in 2006. Now, nine years later, the Hodgman Liberal government in Tasmania is proposing to break ranks, amend its act and let corporations of all stripes off the leash so they can sink their fangs into citizens critical of “job creating” proposals……… Continue reading

January 24, 2015 Posted by | civil liberties, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Cameco admits that sagging uranium prices continue to be a problem

bull-uncertain-uraniumUranium Producers Continue to Sruggle With Low Prices CKRM, 24 Jan 15The oil market has seen a decline for about 3 months, but Cameco’s CEO says the uranium industry has seen dropping prices for more than 3 years.

Tim Gitzel told a conference in Whistler, BC, that the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima more than three years ago continues to have a ripple effect on the industry, and many companies have struggled with the drop in prices.

Gitzel says it will be a tough test for Cameco in both the short and medium terms while they wait for Japan to restart two reactors and construction continues on 70 reactors in Asia.

January 24, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Doomsday clock closer to midnight, with climate change inaction

doomsday-clock-15Climate change inaction pushes ‘doomsday clock’ closest to midnight since 1984 Guardian,  , US environment correspondent 23 Jan 15 Symbolic clock is now at three minutes to apocalypse, the darkest hour for humanity since the cold war. The symbolic doomsday clock moved to three minutes before midnight on Thursday because of the gathering dangers of climate change and nuclear proliferation, signalling the gravest threat to humanity since the throes of the cold war.

It was the closest the clock has come to midnight since 1984, when arms-control negotiations stalled and virtually all channels of communication between the US and the former Soviet Union closed down………

Meanwhile, the scientists said, global efforts to reduce nuclear arsenals have slowed since 2009, and all of the nuclear powers were expanding reactors and weapons programmes.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the symbolic clock in 1947 to indicate the cold war threat. In 1991, when the threat of nuclear annihilation receded with the end of the cold war, the clock stood at 17 minutes to midnight.

But it was now moving closer to the apocalypse because of climate change. “We are not saying it is too late to take action, but the window to take action is closing rapidly,” Benedict said.

January 24, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney dismissed climate change as “a semi-religious belief”

ballot-boxSmJeff Seeney said climate change ‘semi-religious belief': Queensland mayor signs statutory declaration stating Deputy Premier made comment ABC News, By the National Reporting Team’s Mark Willacy and Mark Solomons  24 Jan 15 The mayor of a major Queensland council has signed a statutory declaration stating Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney dismissed climate change as “a semi-religious belief” during a tense meeting in his office.

On Thursday, Mr Seeney publicly denied he made the remark.

Allan Sutherland, of the Moreton Bay Regional Council north of Brisbane, stated Mr Seeney made the comment during a discussion about the council’s regional plan in October. The meeting was also attended by four council officials.

A participant in the meeting confirmed the mayor’s version of events to the ABC.

As revealed by the ABC in December, Mr Seeney intervened to have all references to a predicted 0.8-metre sea rise removed from Moreton Bay’s regional plan, a move that upset the council and Councillor Sutherland……..

January 24, 2015 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Billions of dollars and associated jobs in the renewable energy sector are being lost due to Abbott government

green-collarMP: renewable energy jobs if only coalition changed Chris Calcino | 22nd Jan 2015 GREENS MP Jeremy Buckingham says regional NSW could be a powerhouse for renewable energy jobs if the Coalition changed its stance on clean electricity.
A report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance released this month found large-scale investment in renewable energy fell 88% in Australia last year to $240 million – the lowest investment since 2002.

Mr Buckingham attributed the plunge to the Abbott Government’s “dumb opposition to renewable energy”.

“Billions of dollars and associated jobs in the renewable energy sector are being lost to the detriment of regional economies,” Mr Buckingham said.

“The mining sector has gone from boom to bust, with mines being mothballed and workers being sacked.

“Regional NSW could be a powerhouse for clean energy, but right now the National and Liberal Parties are deliberately wrecking the sector for purely political reasons.”

January 24, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear un-safety in 2004 – nothing has changed

Japan’s deadly game of nuclear roulette, Japan Times, BY LEUREN MORET MAY 23 2004  Of all the places in all the world where no one in their right mind would build scores of nuclear power plants, Japan would be pretty near the top of the list.

The Japanese archipelago is located on the so-called Pacific Rim of Fire, a large active volcanic and tectonic zone ringing North and South America, Asia and island arcs in Southeast Asia. The major earthquakes and active volcanoes occurring there are caused by the westward movement of the Pacific tectonic plate and other plates leading to subduction under Asia. Continue reading

January 24, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

India’s solar energy market growing rapidly – will look to USA for clean energy partnerships

India to push renewable energy drive during Obama visit BY VALERIE VOLCOVICI AND ADITYA KALRA (REUTERS) 23 Jan 15 -India will look to the United States for more private sector partnerships and technology to support a drive to expand its use of clean energy, as Washington looks to secure political support for a global climate change deal in 2015…….

The U.S.-India talks will focus on supporting Indian efforts to electrify the country by boosting emissions-free energy and building manufacturing capabilities for solar and wind energy, said two officials familiar with the matter and several climate experts.

India needs $200 billion of investment in renewables by 2022 – half of it from abroad – to raise its solar power capacity by 33 times to 100 gigawatts and its wind power capacity to 60 GW.

U.S.-based First Solar and SunEdison Inc are among the renewable energy companies already active in India, but the market is growing rapidly…….

January 24, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Vietnam’s nuclear power plans grind almost to a halt

Vietnam’s Slowing Growth and Safety Concerns Delay Nuclear Plans  WSJ, By VU TRONG KHANH, 23 Jan 15  Vietnam’s plan to introduce nuclear power to its energy mix faced a fresh setback on Thursday as safety concerns and legal issues pushed back the planned construction of the country’s first nuclear plant by about five years from the initial schedule………

Construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant isn’t likely to begin until 2019, said Hoang Anh Tuan, director general of Vietnam Atomic Energy Agency. The revised schedule comes after the government had already pushed its planned 2014 construction date to 2017……..

The need for the new plant had become less pressing recently, though, as Vietnam’s demand for electricity hasn’t risen as fast as previously forecast, Mr. Tuan said………

Phan Minh Tuan, director of Vietnam Electricity Group’s Nuclear Power & Renewable Energy Projects Pre-Investment Board, said safety concerns had also had an impact on the proposed construction start date……..

The country has chosen Russian utility and nuclear energy company Rosatom to build the first plant, the 2,000 megawatt Ninh Thuan 1. The Russian government has also pledged to lend Vietnam at least $8 billion for the project.

In 2011, Vietnam signed a contract with Japan Atomic Power for a feasibility study to build a second nuclear power plant nearby, the 2,000 MW Ninh Thuan 2, which is expected to use either Japanese or U.S. technology.

Mr. Tuan said Westinghouse is keen to supply its technology for the construction of the second plant, adding that the company earlier this month signed an agreement with Vietnam to train Vietnamese personnel to manage and operate nuclear power facilities in the country.

January 24, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian government snubs International Renewable Energy Agency congress

logo-IRENAAustralia thumbs its nose at global renewable energy market REneweconomy, By  on 23 January 2015  Australia has again courted controversy on the international stage, refusing to send its energy minister to a key meeting of the world’s peak renewable energy body, and sending instead a mere embassy staffer to the annual congress of the International Renewable Energy Agency.

IRENA met in Abu Dhabi last weekend, ahead of the World Energy Future Conference in the same venue. Some 150 members sent delegates and 65 of those countries sent their energy ministers. The heads of numerous energy companies, and financing chiefs also attended.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, perhaps, given the Coalition government’s antipathy to renewables, and its attempts to wind back or even cancel its current renewable energy target. The Abbott government has ensured that the large scale renewable energy industry in Australia has come to a virtual standstill, just as global investment in renewables increases.

The decision to snub IRENA’s annual conference is being seen in the same vein as its decision not to send a minister to the climate change talks in Warsaw in late 2013. It has angered and surprised some here, although the truth is that Australia – as in the climate space where it has also reversed course – is now seen as something of a no-hoper and an outlier in terms of large scale renewable energy.

Having become the first country to dump a carbon price in 2014, Australia has toyed with the idea of becoming the first to dump its renewable energy target. It appointed a pro-nuclear climate denier to head a review of the renewable energy target, and the result has been policy gridlock and virtually no investment in large scale renewables in Australia in 2014.

Financiers have declared Australia to be effectively a “dead” market. It is now ranked last in terms of climate and clean energy policies. Many companies and financiers have turned their attention elsewhere, although some project developers remain in the hope that some policy certainty can return, and some of the $20 billion in projects can be unlocked, along with thousands of jobs.

ARENA director general Adnan Amin said it was disappointing that Australia did not send a senior representative to the Abu Dhabi conference………

Amin said preliminary data from IRENA indicated that global investment in renewable energy jumped 15 per cent in 2014 to more than $US260 billion, despite the austerity of some budgets.

But there was a bigger change taking place.

Amin said it was clear that renewable energy technologies were now competing with fossil fuels in many parts of the world, and seismic shifts were taking place in the structure of the industry, from a centralized to a distributed model……

“The old model is stagnating. Change is coming and it is going to be dramatic,” Amin says.

January 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Australia: globally top potential for renewable energy, bottom chance in market

Parkinson-Report-“Dead” Australian renewables market faces train-crash REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson on 21 January 2015 (with good graph) In Abu Dhabi, at a series of sessions at the World Future Energy Conference on the future of global renewable energy investment and clean energy markets, there was a lot of debate among some of the world’s leading bankers and clean energy developers about which countries offered the best opportunities.

Some suggested China, India, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas, both north and south. There was no doubt about which offered the worst opportunity. Australia.

“Australia is dead,” said Edgare Kerkwijk, the head of Singapore-based Asia Green Capital, to the general agreement of all.

Just how dead the market is has been highlighted by the fact that no new projects have gotten financial commitment since the election of the Abbott government in late 2013. In 2014, investment in large scale renewables plunged 88 per cent, taking Australia from 11th ranking to 39th.

A new report from Green Energy Markets, looking at the last quarter of 2014, notes that only one large scale project got new finance approval in 2014 – the 70MW Moree solar farm, and that was mostly due to the financing awarded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

(There was also around 10MW of larger scale solar, about the only construction that was committed and occurred under the RET itself).

The big problem, and one that could finally seal the exodus of many international players and financiers, is that Australia needs to commit to 5,000MW of new renewable projects over the next two years if it is to meet the current 41,000GWh target………

January 24, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Victorian Greens aim for closure of Hazelwood coal power station

Greens to use upper house numbers to seek closure of Hazelwood power station The Age January 23, 2015 Josh Gordon  

The Victorian Greens will use their upper house clout to push for the closure of the Hazelwood power station, claiming it is a risk to the community and no longer needed.

Greens MP Ellen Sandell said Hazelwood was one of the dirtiest coal plants in the world and should be closed.

Neither Labor nor the Liberals was giving the community any certainty about the timeline for mine rehabilitation and shutdown, meaning people could not plan for their future, she said……..

The move is in line with the recommendations of the inquiry into the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire, which burned for 45 days, choking the town of Morwell in smoke and ash.

Premier Daniel Andrews also confirmed the inquiry, which was chaired by former Supreme Court judge Bernard Teague, would be reopened to look into a reported spike in deaths and consider options for the mine’s rehabilitation……..

January 24, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Despite overwhelming evidence, Australia’s government in denial about climate change

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmCanberra fiddles while Australia burns January 20, 2015  by:  Despite the overwhelming evidence that the effects of climate change are having a devastating impact on present and future Australia, Kirsten Tona reports that the Abbott Government continues to ignore the evidence.

By 2070, Australia’s average temperature will rise by anything up to five degrees Celsius, our rainfall will be significantly lower and our sea levels higher. This data comes from the CSIRO, not from the-sky-is-falling conspiracy theorists, so …. why is the Australian Government not preparing?

It is a sometimes uncomfortable paradox of democracy that while governments—elected—come and go, much of the real work of the state is done behind the scenes by unelected bureaucrats and institutions.

But, there are times we have reason to be grateful for that.

While the current Prime Minister of Australia is on record as saying that the arguments behind climate change are “absolute crap”, Australia’s premier scientific body, the CSIRO, has been quietly beavering away, using proven scientific methodologies to produce realistic models of what climate change may look like in our country.

And the news is: hotter, and drier……..


    The CSIRO do not think there is no consensus on the science of climate change. The CSIRO think climate change is already happening. So do the Bureau of Meteorology, the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and the Australian Climate Change Science Program………..

January 23, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The Nuclear “Renaissance” over before it ever began

Meet the Renewable Energy Revolution The Nuclear “Renaissance” is Over, CounterPunch by LINDA PENTZ GUNTERJANUARY 22, 2013 The nuclear renaissance-that-never-was is over. As a brazen propaganda campaign — “if we say there is a nuclear renaissance then there is one” was pretty much all there was to it — it has belly-flopped into an empty swimming pool. Even the mainstream media is dismissing the notion now as a never-was-and-never-will-be mirage (although it meekly bought in for a long time before the evidence of the sham was incontrovertible.)

But like the old man in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the nuclear industry continues to claim that it is “not dead” yet and actually “getting better.”

Consequently, in a last ditch attempt to belie reality, the nuclear industry endeavors to reinvent itself with a steady parade of better nuclear mouse-traps. One day it’s the Small Modular Reactor! Then it’s the Answer to Climate Change! Or it’s got to be the Fast Integral Reactor!

renew world 1

But the nuclear industry is none of those things. It’s just over. It won’t go slowly and it won’t go quietly, and it won’t go without trying to suck up a whole lot more of our tax dollars. But go it will. And according to the venerable international investment bank, UBS, that exit will come sooner rather than later.

The bank is even telling its clients “it’s time to join the revolution,” reports REneweconomy, an Australian energy publication. The renewable energy revolution, that is. No mention of any “renaissance.”…….

January 23, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 648 other followers