Google Is Making Its Biggest Ever Bet on Renewable Energy, Bloomberg, Christopher Martin Google Inc. is making its largest bet yet on renewable energy, a $300 million investment to support at least 25,000 SolarCity Corp. rooftop power plants.
Google is contributing to a SolarCity fund valued at $750 million, the largest ever created for residential solar, the San Mateo, California-based solar panel installer said Thursday in a statement.
Google has now committed more than $1.8 billion to renewable energy projects, including wind and solar farms on three continents. This deal, which may have a return as high as 8 percent, is a sign that technology companies can take advantage of investment formats once reserved only for banks.
The deal reflects the success of renewable energy companies in tapping into a broader pool of investors with financial products that emerged in the past three years, either paying dividends or sheltering cash. Those helped boost investment in clean energy 16 percent to a record $310 billion last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg……..http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-26/google-makes-biggest-bet-on-renewables-to-fund-solarcity
How does Australia’s Renewable Energy Target compare globally, with other countries’ mechanisms to encourage uptake of renewable energy?
The RET has been extremely successful at getting the least-cost renewables into the grid. It’s been copied around the world. It’s something I think Australia as a whole should be really proud of. It’s a really clever way to maximise renewable energy uptake because it is a meritocracy, rather than just having a feed-in tariff for the fixed rate, and there is constant competition to deliver the lowest-cost energies. The UK system was until recently a copy of ours; and a similar system is used by a number of US states…….
GEreports: What makes some countries better at uptake of renewables than others? Continue reading
Cancer Rates Soar By 6000% Near Fukushima Site, New Report Shows http://yournewswire.com/cancer-rates-soar-by-6000-near-fukushima-site-new-report-shows/ by Sean Adl-Tabatabai 27 Feb 15 Cancer rates in areas surrounding the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan have soared by 6000% according to reports, yet the government and media are carrying on as if its business as normal. Continue reading
On reflection: Why Australia should not give up on renewables, Wind Power Monthly, 27 February 2015 by Alicia Webb ,
As the government battles to reduce the current renewables policy, the Australian wind industry is experiencing lost jobs and dwindling economic opportunities. Yet, there is a clear economic case for continuing renewables support.
Uncertainty and missed opportunity have been the recent themes for the Australian wind industry. While the country’s renewable energy target (RET) had enjoyed well over a decade of bipartisan support from the major political parties, the federal government plan to slash the level of the policy froze investment and resulted in many lost jobs and economic opportunities last year.
But the government does not have enough support to change legislation, and so the debate drags on. And, while the government looks for support from the opposition or a rag-tag alliance of senators from various smaller political parties, the RET’s uncertain future means the country is squandering billions of dollars in potential investment while interest in wind power and other renewables flourishes across the globe…….
The review undertook comprehensive modelling of prices. It found that any scenario in which the RET is cut would result in higher power prices for consumers from 2020, and that the scenarios that would deliver the most renewable energy were those that would also result in the lowest power prices over the life of the legislated policy. With the RET as it is, more than 18,000 jobs would be created and power bills would be lower in the long-term than they otherwise would be. Cut the RET to 27TWh by 2020, and 6,200 jobs will be lost and the average power bill will go up by A$42/year. Remove the RET altogether and by 2020, 11,800 jobs will be lost and the average power bill increases by A$56.
One of the reasons for this is that there is direct evidence of wind energy pushing wholesale electricity prices down. The Australian Energy Market Operator found in 2014 that in South Australia, the state with the highest wind penetration, wind farms have “low operating costs and tend to offer energy to the market at low prices”…….http://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1335304/reflection-why-australia-not-give-renewables
Rio Tinto reveals plans to ‘simplify’ company, Australian Mining 27 February, 2015 Vicky Validakis“…….The move comes after an Australian Mining exclusive last week which flagged the company was set to engage a heavy cost cutting campaign, involving renegotiation of service contracts, reduction of scheduled maintenance task times, and changes to staff pay .
An internal document leaked to Australian Mining showed Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Andrew Harding had outlined a series of cost cutting requirements, including an immediate hiring freeze, which he said must be performed to maintain business success.
The move by Rio to simplify its business comes after BHP Billiton undertook a similar simplification process last year…..” http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/rio-tinto-reveals-plans-to-simplify-company
Backyard solariums creating a dangerous market, The Saturday Paper, MAX OPRAY FEB 28, 2015
A recent ban on commercial solariums has seen many turning to backyard operations, ignoring the cancer risk. “……On January 1 commercial solariums were banned in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, after a raft of studies confirmed indoor tanning was a particularly carcinogenic way to pass the time. According to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, sunbeds are responsible for an average of 43 melanoma-related deaths and 2572 new cases of squamous cell carcinoma every year in Australia.
Commercial use of these machines was banned, yet home use was left legal………
The Cancer Council strongly backs the ban, and in its position statement on solarium use cites a study published in the International Journal of Cancer in 2011 that, according to the council, found one in six melanomas in Australians aged 18-29 years “would be prevented if solariums were shut down”……. regular solarium users appeared six times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma before the age of 30, and that 16 per cent of melanoma cases of those aged 18-29 would be prevented by avoiding sunbed exposure. …..http://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/health/2015/02/28/backyard-solariums-creating-dangerous-market/14250420001552#.VPDRw3yUcnk
Renewable energy projects, including solar energy schemes i are staging a revival in Victoria under the new Andrews Labor government.
The Woodend local sustainability group is launching two green energy projects: a new solar energy scheme and the resurrection of a longstanding plan for three community-owned wind turbines.
Today, at the Sustainable Living Festival in Woodend, Energy and Resources Minister Lily D’Ambrosio will announce a $100,000 grant for a 30-kilowatt solar farm.
The panels will be installed at the old timber mill, where the tenants’ ongoing electricity bills will be reinvested in more solar panels. It will create a “perpetual fund” for community renewable energy, says Ralf Thesing, president of the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group.
Last week, D’Ambrosio announced a $200,000 grant for the central Victorian town of Newstead to become fully powered by renewable energy.
She says the Labor government will “support and stand alongside” communities such as Newstead and Woodend, who are planning “to better control how their energy is made and where it comes from”.
“Everywhere I go, whether it’s metro Melbourne or regional and rural Victoria, people love renewable energy,” D’Ambrosio says. “That’s why we’re seeing many communities coming up with plans to make renewable energy part of their everyday life. They’re bottom-up approaches and they’re a terrific boon for local jobs.”
The Andrews government is preparing a “renewable energy action plan” and finalising the guidelines for its $20 million “new energy jobs fund”. It will also release a discussion paper on community-owned wind power.
For the clean energy advocates in Macedon Ranges shire, the election result was transformative. “It changes our situation completely – from being banned, we’re now unbanned,” says Barry Mann, who is helping co-ordinate the wind power project……….
The Victorian Liberal party appears to have had a change of heart under the leadership of Matthew Guy. For the first time, the state has a “shadow minister for renewables”, David Southwick. He says Victoria has the opportunity to be a leader in renewable energy. “We want an industry that can deliver more clean energy and clean energy jobs.”
Australia’s Nuclear Free and Clean Energy Movement stands more clearly than ever, to lead this country to a positive future.
Australians live in a limbo of ignornace on ethics and science. The cringing Murdoch media pushes the agenda of greedy and self-seeking businessmen, politicians, and some academics.
Consideration of the future for our children, grandchildren and beyond, is drowned out by the hype about more money, more jobs, more material consumption.
Cutting through this dishonest and unethical hype, Australians can hear the clear voices from the clean energy movement. There are many organisations, often under the umbrella of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA). And many individuals such as the heroic Northern Territory Aboriginals – Yvonne Margarula, Dianne Stokes, Jeefrey Lee. There are the world famous Dr Helen Caldicott, Senator Scott Ludlam, Dr Jim Green, Natalie Wasley, Dave Sweeney, Professor Ian Lowe, Dr Mark Deisendorf – and many others.
Will South Australia’s Royal Commission be genuinely independent, or just excuse for importing radioactive trash?
If the Royal Commission brings a genuine spirit of independence and rigour, and is willing to take evidence on the nuclear sector’s performance in Australia and overseas, the report will provide a valuable contribution to domestic energy and industry policy.
An inquiry into how to get to zero emissions electricity as cheaply and rapidly as possible would have made a far more timely and valuable contribution to debates over energy policy and rebooting South Australia’s manufacturing sector than another rake through the slowly cooling ashes of the nuclear dream. Nonetheless, the lid has been lifted once again, and we can only hope that the Royal Commissioner is willing to take an unblinking look at the evidence, so that the failed hopes and broken promises of the atomic age can be set to rest once and for all
the probability that this whole exercise is designed to build the case for a national or international radioactive waste dump.
Nuclear Industry On Trial? Scott Ludlam Hopes So, New Matilda, 26 Feb 15 The debate about nuclear power in South Australia needs to be had, if only to put the issue to bed once and for all, writes Scott Ludlam.
At first glance, the decision to call a Royal Commission into nuclear technology in South Australia seems like a curious aberration from the ‘Yes Minister’ rule of inquiries: never call one unless you know in advance what it will tell you.
At the outset of this most polarising of debates, I’d like to propose a truce; particularly with those whose pro-nuclear views are motivated by the overwhelming imperative of climate change. If we respect that not all nuclear advocates intend to contaminate the gene pool and plunge us into nuclear winter, I’d ask in return that you consider the possibility that the anti-nuclear case is based on rational assessment of risks and performance, rather than pure emotion as is sometimes asserted.
For those whose motivation is a safe climate, this is a disagreement over means, not ends. Continue reading
Local mayor unhappy with city counterpart’s nuclear comments, The Transcontinental, 27 Feb 15 Port Augusta has been suggested as a “convenient” site for a nuclear reactor, just weeks after the state government announced it will establish a Royal Commission into nuclear power in SA.
Port Augusta mayor Sam Johnson is not happy, saying the suggestion treats those living in regional areas like Port Augusta as second-rate citizens……
Port Augusta mayor Sam Johnson said he’s open to an informed debate on nuclear power, but hit fiercely back at the Port Adelaide mayor’s comments, labelling the idea a “cop out”. (picture from The Transcontinental )
He said there’s no reason to consider putting nuclear power in Port Augusta, given the city is already leading the way in renewable energy.
“Why in the hell would we want nuclear power in Port Augusta when we’ve done so much work on renewable energy, in particular the solar thermal plant?” Mr Johnson questioned.
“We’ve had international experts actually say to us, why isn’t the government in Australia exploring renewable energy such as solar thermal given we have the best geographical climate in the world to do it?
“If the government wants to talk about nuclear, fine, happy to talk about it – but we’re already heading down a successful path…they can go and build the nuclear power plant in Unley or Norwood for all I care.”
Repower Port Augusta chairperson Gary Rowbottom suggested nuclear power is a higher risk option than renewable energy, and doesn’t see why it’s worth exploring when there’s a better option on the table for the city.
“Our current belief is that it is simply not required to take the risks and overcome all the implementation difficulties involved in ‘going nuclear’,” Mr Rowbottom said.
“We can substitute a suite of proven and developing renewable technologies in place of any need to go down the nuclear path…the commercial, health and environmental risks of nuclear are too high to justify it.
“It can be taken as somewhat offensive that the Port Adelaide/Enfield areas (Mr Johanson) are clearly saying that they are not prepared to have a nuclear reactor in their area but it is ideal and more convenient for Port Augusta to have one.”……
What do you think about having a nuclear reactor in Port Augusta?
Send your thoughts to the editor at email@example.com http://www.transcontinental.com.au/story/2903676/local-mayor-unhappy-with-city-counterparts-nuclear-comments/
the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), wants to bury it in what the nuclear industry calls a Deep Geological Repository, or DGR
“Finally,” says Eugene Bourgeois, whose idyllic property lies within a kilometre of the Bruce Power reactors, “it has to be impervious to the potential ignorance or delinquency of people, perhaps ‘peopleoids,’ more than a quarter-million years from now”—which is to say, peopleoids who likely will have no notion even of the languages in which the safety code and signage of the DGR were written.
At the same time, the site can’t be too remote. It must be serviced by roads and rail, so that waste can be brought in, and must have a sufficient population that the thousands of folks who will build the facility and the hundreds who will be employed there long-term will have a place to live
Inside the race for Canada’s nuclear waste: 11 towns vie to host deep burial site Canada’s nuclear waste will be deadly for 400,000 years. What town would like the honour of hosting it? CHARLES WILKINS TheGlobe and Mail Feb. 26 2015,
……..the Western Waste Management Facility, where Ontario Power Generation stores much of its share of the 48,000 tonnes of waste that have accumulated in Canada during the past 65 years and that the company and other nuclear-power producers hope will eventually be lowered into the national DGR (Deep Geological Repository)
The ever-accumulating tonnage, which in the wrong hands could provide payloads for thousands of atomic bombs, is entombed in a thousand snow-white containers (a half-inch of steel atop reinforced concrete), each the size of, say, a Lincoln Navigator set on end and weighing 70 tonnes……..
The $24-billion cost of a deep repository—to be paid by the producers (hence ultimately their customers) out of a fund that now stands at less than $3 billion—sounds like a lot for the existing quantity of nuclear-fuel waste in the country. NWMO spokesman Mike Krizanc visualizes Canada’s 48,000-tonne waste pile as “enough to cover six NHL-sized hockey rinks to the top of the boards.”
The discrepancy is explained by toxicity. According to Gordon Edwards, a mathematician who has critiqued the nuclear industry for decades as president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, irradiated—that is, used—nuclear fuel is “millions of times more radioactive and deadly than when the unirradiated fuel was placed in the reactors.” Studies have connected the various isotopes contained in the waste to cancer, immune system damage and genetic mutation. Those six hockey rinks are enough, say nuclear detractors, that if the waste is buried in the wrong place, or in the wrong way, it could ruin our water, render the landscape useless for agriculture, or, in a darker scenario, render it useless for human habitation…… Continue reading
End is nigh for NT environmental advocacy groups as funding runs out, ABC News 26 Feb 15 By Elliana Lawford Two environmental advocacy groups in the Northern Territory are set to close as government funding cuts announced last year start to bite.
The Environment Centre NT (ECNT) has told the ABC a number of staff were laid off last week and the centre has limited their operating hours from five to three days a week.
The organisation has led campaigns against uranium mining, pollution, gas exploration and water extraction licences. ECNT chair Tony Young said he was worried there would be no-one to fight for environmental issues in the Northern Territory if the centre closed.
“If there is no independent voice to point these things out then the problems continue and they are exacerbated,” he said. “The range and complexity of the environmental problems the Northern Territory faces really deserves a properly funded, independent, science-based voice … that’s what is in danger.”
The ECNT lost $185,000 in last year’s Territory budget.
The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) is also struggling and has announced it will close on June 30, after it lost $450,000 in Federal Government funding. EDO chair Kirsty Howey said the office could not operate without financial help.
“With the cutting of federal funding at the EDO, we are looking at shutting the doors on June 30 this year,” she said.
“We just don’t have the money to survive any longer.”
NT Environment Minister Gary Higgins said he was unperturbed by the looming closures of the ECNT and the EDO……..
Labor spokeswoman Nicole Manison said both organisations were needed in the community.
“We need to have a full and independent voice for the government out there in the community,” she said.
“They bring up some pretty tough issues for governments and a good government would actually listen to them.”
Both organisations are still trying to secure independent funding that could delay their closures. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-26/environment-agencies-nt-for-the-chop/6262720
They found that the radioactive strontium-90 levels in the baby teeth of children born from 1945 to 1965 had risen 100-fold and that the level of strontium-90 rose and fell in correlation with atomic bomb tests.
Early results from the Baby Tooth Survey, and a U. S. Public Health Service study that showed an alarming rise in the percentage of underweight live births and of childhood cancer, helped persuade President John F. Kennedy to negotiate a treaty with the Soviet Union to end above-ground testing of atomic bombs in 1963.
St. Louis Baby Tooth Survey, 1959-1970, Washington University School of Dental Medicine Though many members of the group were vocally against nuclear testing, CNI never took an official position for or against the testing of nuclear weapons. Scientific facts were assembled, studied by the Committee and its Scientific Advisory Group, and then made available to the public through regular bulletins, newsletters, and a speaker’s bureau…. Continue reading
Nuclear Industry On Trial? Scott Ludlam Hopes So, New Matilda, 26 Feb 15 “……The unthinkable consequences of a well-executed terrorist attack on an operating reactor or high-level waste store keep national security planners awake at night, with the potential for nuclear power plants to be used as pre-deployed radiological weapons by those with malevolent intent.
It seems likely that in the face of this evidence, the Royal Commission will see the industry play its last remaining card: an invitation to set aside the actual performance of existing reactors and imagine the potential of a new generation of nuclear technology: safe, clean, reliable, cheap, modular, proliferation-proof; reactors that consume only nuclear waste and emit only unicorn dust.
Forgive the scepticism: no-one has ever come remotely close to designing and building such a device, and commercial application of imaginary Generation IV reactors lies well over an indefinitely receding horizon; always just a few more years and decades away.
Perhaps more to the point, it may be that there are simpler ways to boil water or induce electrons to flow down a wire than the absurdity of plutonium-burning fission reactors cooled by liquid sodium.
Turning to face the timeless abundance of free solar energy presents a much simpler way forward. It is time that advocates of terrestrial nuclear power instead used their efforts to advocate for better use of the celestial nuclear reactor that sustains rather than threatens life on Earth.
The very qualities of scale, baseload delivery and centralisation that so appealed to energy planners of the 1950s make nuclear technology uniquely unsuited to the realities of the 21st century.
Emerging industrial economies like India, Africa and China’s rural hinterlands are vastly better served by decentralised renewable generators feeding local or regional-scale microgrids.
The plunging costs of solar, wind and micro-hydro generators are combining with cheap, decentralised energy storage technology – driven largely by developments in the IT and automotive industries – to drive the final nail into the fallen potential of nuclear power.
In March 2013 the cover and feature piece of the Economist magazine put the case succinctly: Nuclear Power – the dream that failed.
For the indefinite future, there will still be a need for reliable, dispatchable utility-scale power plants, but even here clean-technology has emerged to checkmate atomic energy: large-scale concentrating solar thermal plants have come online in Spain and the United States, paving the way for vastly more ambitious developments in South America and the Middle East combining cheap photovoltaics with heliostat fields heating overnight molten salt energy storage.https://newmatilda.com/2015/02/26/nuclear-industry-trial-scott-ludlam-hopes-so
How the government is sneakily taking over the Climate Change Authority, Crikey,