Australian news, and some related international items

Professor Penny Sackett points to Australian Capital Territory’s leadership on Climate Change

climate-changeSustainability Symposium: World to learn from Canberra’s climate change policy April 16, 2015   Reporter at The Canberra Times Canberra is a world leader when it comes to climate-change policy, but Australia is still not doing enough to tackle the problem, former chief scientist Professor Penny Sackett says.

Professor Sackett, now deputy chair of the ACT Climate Change Council and an adjunct professor for the ANU’s Climate Change Institute, will join Nobel laureate Professor Brian Schmidt, and ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell at a climate change symposium bringing together about 12 Nobel Prize winners in Hong Kong from April 23.

She said Australia wasn’t the only country that had to catch up with its cities leading the way on climate change.

The invitation extended to Mr Corbell to address the international symposium’s policy challenge session was evidence of Canberra’s reputation as a world leader tackling climate change, Professor Sackett said.

“People are recognising how Canberra is not only stepping up with ambitious targets … but actually already on its way to meeting them,” she said. “I would really love to see the country I live in … do all it can for climate change and I don’t think we are there yet.”……

Professor Schmidt said Canberra’s status as an affluent city with people who had a greater understanding of climate change allowed it to be “more adventurous on a small scale”.

Neither the federal government nor opposition’s policies would solve climate change in the short-term, Professor Schmidt said, instead scientific solutions would take 20 years to develop but work should begin now.

“We don’t actually have that much more carbon to throw up in the atmosphere before we start exceeding two degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century,” he said.

Professor Schmidt said he expects a declaration from the symposium to be taken to the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December to help reach a “sensible outcome”.

Professor Sackett said the “very important” summit would be where nations decide whether they will stand with their citizens to do all they can to combat climate change……..

April 17, 2015 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australian Capital Territory a winner for renewable energy jobs

ACT renewable energy jobs soar in past five years April 14, 2015  Canberra Times Reporter The number of jobs in the ACT renewable energy industry has increased by more than 400 percent over the past five years, the largest increase in Australia.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data released earlier this week, 630 people were employed by the renewable energy industry last year with 480 employed by the government or non-profit institutions and 150 in solar power.


But while the ABS figures indicated a growth in ACT employment they revealed more than 2000 jobs had been lost in the industry nationwide over the past two years.

Some 12,590 people were employed full-time in the wind, solar and other renewable energy industries last year down from almost 15,000 two years earlier…….

In late 2013, the ACT government legislated a 90 percent renewable energy target for the territory by 2020 drawing praise from the Climate Council as a welcome contrast to federal uncertainty. …………

Mr Antflick  Elementus Energy manager director Ashleigh Antflick,said he expected the solar farm, which will be relocated from a proposed site near the Uriarra village to beside the Monaro Highway at Williamsdale, to be a long-term stable employer of skilled labour in the ACT.

“We are looking at working with a number of tertiary education institutions in the territory to be part of their skills programs for undergraduate and technical training programs,” he said.

Mr Antflick said the ACT government and broader community were supportive or major solar power investments despite a concerted public relations campaign from Uriarra villagers to relocate the solar farm.

“There is a pretty clear understanding by territorians of the broader climatic benefits of solar energy and I think broad support for doing something to make a positive contribution to climate change,” he said.

April 15, 2015 Posted by | ACT, employment | Leave a comment

ACT solar farm project will go ahead – in a different location

ACT solar farm project moved from controversial Uriarra site to Williamsdale
666 ABC Canberra 24 Mar 15 
A controversial project to build a solar farm next to the rural village of Uriarra has been dumped by the ACT Government after fierce opposition from local residents.

Plans by Elementus Energy to build a 26,000-panel solar farm that could power more than 1,400 homes will now be moved to Williamsdale in the Territory’s south.

Environment Minister Simon Corbell told 666 ABC Canberra the Government would now license parts of blocks 1470 and 1471 in the district of Tuggeranong (Williamsdale) for the OneSun Capital solar project.

But an approval process would still be necessary for the new location.

“The ACT Government is proposing to enter into a rental arrangement with the developer for a new site on land the Government now owns at Williamsdale, on the Monaro Highway,” Mr Corbell said.

“And it will occur without any change to the tariff feed-in price that the developer bid in the reverse auction for the solar farm project.

“What this means is a clearer path. We can get on and hopefully see that project built and it also addresses the concerns raised by Uriarra residents.”……

March 25, 2015 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

Australian Capital Territory rejects hosting radioactive waste dump

Environment Minister Simon Corbell says radioactive waste is not welcome in ACT, Canberra Times March 14, 2015 Matthew Raggatt The ACT government would reject any moves to build a radioactive waste facility in the territory, its deputy leader has said.

Environment Minister Simon Corbell said he doubted the nation’s smallest jurisdiction – half of which is covered by national parks and state forests – would make the federal government’s cut for a new site.

“It is extremely unlikely there is any land suitable in the ACT for this activity,” he said.

Earlier this month the federal government called for nominations from landholders of any state or territory for a site for a national permanent radioactive waste management facility. The site would allow for the storage and disposal of “low level and intermediate level waste”, produced in Australia from a range of scientific and industrial/medical activities. …….

A spokeswoman for the Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane said details of the nominated sites would be made public after all applications were received and the minister had considered them.

The spokeswoman said the majority of Australia’s radioactive waste was stored by the Commonwealth at two sites, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation campus at Lucas Heights and the CSIRO facility at Woomera in South Australia.

The Defence Department, Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, state and territory governments and other scientific, industrial and research organisations also stored some waste.

Australia does not produce or store high level radioactive waste, the federal government said.

If you want to put forward your land to be bought for the project, you have until May 5.

March 16, 2015 Posted by | ACT, wastes | Leave a comment

South Australia and ACT are ahead in renewable energy

Hitting the Renewable Energy Target,   Chief Operating Officer, Green Building Council of Australia  Souceable, 3 Feb 15  “……..The Climate Council’s recent report, The Australian Renewable Energy Race, finds that those states with a favourable policy environment and with established renewable energy targets winning the renewables race. South Australia, having already met its 2020 renewable energy target of 33 per cent, now sources more than a third of electricity from renewable sources and a quarter of homes have solar PV panels. South Australia has installed more large-scale renewable capacity since 2001 than any other state, and has now set a 50 per cent target.

The report finds the ACT is also “punching above its weight” with a target of 90 per cent renewable energy by 2020, and a feed-in tariff scheme attracting investment in large-scale project Continue reading

February 4, 2015 Posted by | ACT, energy, South Australia | Leave a comment

Strong interest from South Australia and Victoria in ACT’s wind energy auction

Parkinson-Report-ACT wind energy auction: And the winners are …. REneweconomy, By  on 14 January 2015  The ACT government’s wind energy auction has thrown up some surprising winners, and none of the planned 200MW of wind turbines will be built within a bull’s roar of the nation’s capital, if market intelligence is correct. The ACT government advised the winning tenderers of their success just before Christmas, and have until early February to prove that they have the finance in place to build the projects.

The winners have not been publicly announced, and will be kept confidential. But through a process of elimination – i.e. by crossing out those among the 18 project tenders who concede they didn’t make it, there are three likely winners.

They are the Hornsdale wind project in South Australia – regarded as the country’s most prospective wind project because of its excellent wind resources. Industry estimates suggest that the project could be a go-er with a tariff of around $80/MWh…………

The second winner is thought to the small Coonooer Bridge wind project in Victoria. This is owned by Windlab, a spinoff of CSIRO which is based in Canberra. Coonoer is likely to be just 18MW, but will also likely have a level of community ownership through an innovative structure that we discussed here.

The third project is less certain but is thought to be the Ararat project owned by RES, also based in Victoria. It is also bidding for less than half of its nominated capacity of more than 220MW.

The ACT wind energy auction is important to the wind industry in Australia because the sector has been at a standstill for nearly two years. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, no new wind projects were financed in Australia in 2014 because of the Federal government’s attempts to nobble the renewable energy target.

That helped cause an 88 per cent slump in large scale clean energy investment, and pushed Australia down from 11th position to 39th in the world, below Myanmar and Honduras. For some international investors, the ACT auction was considered to be the last hope in Australia, given the uncertainty that continues around the RET.

Contrary to the federal government, which sees its future in coal, the ACT government hopes to source 90 per cent of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2020. It will do this through a series of auctions – 40MW of large scale solar already completed, an initial run of 200MW of wind, and around 50MW of other large scale solar projects including storage, and 23MW of waste-to-energy projects.

The ACT government raised the prospect of winning tenders going to other states if the price was cheaper, although it did profess to have a strong “local content” component of the tender………….

January 16, 2015 Posted by | ACT, South Australia, Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Canberra’s Majura Valley solar farm will use advanced sun-tracking technology

solar array GerladtonMajura Valley solar farm system tracks sun January 4, 2015   Reporter for The Canberra TimesSun-tracking technology for solar panels will be deployed for the first time in Australia at a new solar farm in the Majura Valley on Canberra’s eastern fringe.

Solar Choice is developing and will operate the $6.5 million solar farm, which will feature a QBotix robotic tracking system, developed in California in 2012. The system is used in the United States, Japan and Europe.

Self-charging, track-mounted robots adjust the tilt and orientation of individual solar arrays throughout the day to gain maximum exposure to the sun.

Solar Choice, a brokerage firm which develops and manages solar projects throughout Australia and Britain, is finalising details for the 2MW first stage of its Canberra venture, which will generate about 3 million kWh of clean energy………

January 5, 2015 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

New technology will double savings for solar panel owners in Canberra

“Unlike traditional generators, consumers who become prosumers can can flip, so when electricity prices are low they will be consumers, when prices are high they will be generators. 


Reposit Power’s GridCredit technology a game changer for energy market, Canberra Times, December 14, 2014 –  Solar panel owners will more than double their savings with new technology being launched today. Owners of solar panels in Canberra will be offered new technology from Monday, which will more than double their savings on electricity prices.

A group of investors and electricity industry specialists are investing almost $100,000 to commercial the system, which they believe will be a game changer for the energy market.

Our goal is to get their bill as low as possible.  Luke Osborne

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency will announce $445,000 funding for Canberra technology company Reposit Power to trial the solar storage and trading system, ahead of a national roll-out next year.

Reposit director Luke Osborne says for the first time solar customers can store their renewable energy and sell it back to the grid for a profit. Continue reading

December 14, 2014 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

ACT and South Australia winning the renewables race

renewable-energy-pictureThe ACT has the country’s most ambitious emissions reductions and renewable energy targets Climate Council report reveals, Canberra Times November 18, 2014     The ACT is “punching above its weight” compared to other jurisdictions with the most ambitious emissions reduction and renewable energy targets in the country, the Climate Council’s latest report reveals.

Along with South Australia, the ACT is “winning the Australian renewable energy race” putting it in the “best position to reap the benefits of the global shift to cleaner energy”, the report comparing the renewable energy policies of all states and territories said.

The ACT aims to source 90 per cent of its electricity supply from renewables by 2020; currently it’s at 20 per cent.

In comparison, South Australia has a renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2025 but is already sourcing around 33 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources.

………The report said Australia’s states and territories could act as leaders tackling climate change and growing Australia’s renewable energy industry, mirroring the US where state-based targets and incentives had made the country second in the world for installed renewable energy capacity.

November 19, 2014 Posted by | ACT, energy | Leave a comment

Australian National University divesting from fossil fuels, but not from uranium

ANU defends divestments, says fossil fuels companies must diversify into new energy, The Age Heath Aston, political correspondent October 13, 2014 – The head of the Australian National University has defended a decision to dump certain resources stocks from the university’s $1 billion investment portfolio on ethical grounds, saying fossil fuel-reliant companies will not survive the next 20 to 30 years unless they diversify into new energies……

ANU is the first Australian university to divest from fossil fuels but in the United States 19 universities have sold out of investments deemed unethical or a risk to the environment, including the prestigious Stanford University, which has purged its $US19 billion ($22 billion) investment fund. ANU modelled its socially responsible investment policy on that of Stanford.

Professor Young said there had been a “torrent of support” from students and the wider community.

“They have been saying ‘don’t back down’,” he said. “There is tremendous enthusiasm out there around environmental issues and investment.”

ANU Student Association president Cam Wilson said 82% of 2000 students polled before the university made its decision supported divestment.

In an opinion piece written for Fairfax Media, Professor Young, whose ocean research has resulted in his consulting to a range offshore gas and oil companies, questioned the short-term thinking of the divestment critics.

“What will our industries be in 20 or 30 years’ time?” he writes. “I am confident they will not be in producing fossil fuels.”

He told Fairfax Media: “I don’t think fossil fuels will be a big part of the world economy in 20 to 30 years’ time. But, that said, there is a big opportunity for these companies to change the mix of what they produce.”

While seven resources stocks were dumped, ANU has retained investments in mining groups BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, as well as in Woodside Petroleum and Wesfarmers.


Professor Young said those groups were more diversified and showed signs of evolving to new energy sources in future…….

October 13, 2014 Posted by | ACT, business | Leave a comment

Australian National University sells off fossil fuel interests – but not enough of them

ANU decision to sell fossil fuel company holdings not enough: students By Lisa Mosley ABC News,  3 Oct 2014,  An Australian National University (ANU) decision to sell off about $16 million worth of its investments in seven fossil fuel companies does not go far enough, a students’ group says.

ANU said it would divesting itself of shares in Newcrest Mining, Iluka Resources, Oil Search and Santos, among other companies.

Vice-chancellor Professor Ian Young said it was important that the university did not invest in companies that are doing some form of social harm……….

Louis Klee from the group ANU Fossil Free said while it was a big achievement for the university, the decision did not go far enough.

He said the ANU still had major holdings in BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Woodside Petroleum.

“It is wrong for ANU to continue to profit from these industries that are responsible for the wreckage of the planet,” he said. …….

October 6, 2014 Posted by | ACT, business | Leave a comment

Canberra protestors worried about wind farms disturbing their rural setting

wind-farm-evil-1Residents fighting Jupiter wind farm plan Canberra protest, Canberra Times September 15, 2014  Land owners in communities along the Goulburn-Braidwood Road are continuing their self-described “David and Goliath battle” to stop a $400 million wind farm development proposed for 12,000 hectares in the area.

The Residents Against Jupiter Wind Turbines group last week said progress was being made in the fight, after another community meeting at Tarago and contact with Goulburn MP and planning Minister Pru Goward.

Planning is underway for a demonstration outside the ACT Legislative Assembly on Tuesday as group members want territory residents to know the local impact of some renewable energy sources.

An Australian-Spanish joint venture is developing the 110 turbine wind farm on the properties of 25 landholders. The individual turbines are set to be more than 110 metres high, with three 63-metre rotor blades, near small towns at Lake Bathurst, Tarago, Mayfield, Boro, Mount Fairy and Manar.

Group spokesman Michael Crawford said many of the residents were current and former Commonwealth and state public servants who had migrated to the area, east of Goulburn, and were desperate to preserve their rural setting……..

The group believes the state’s wind farm development guidelines are inadequate, and fail to take full account of impacts including noise, visual changes, sleep and health effects and property values…..

The company has several proposed wind farm projects in New South Wales and Victoria.

Read more:

September 15, 2014 Posted by | ACT, wind | Leave a comment

In spite of Tony Abbott, Australia’s Largest Solar Farm Opened

Australia’s Largest Solar Farm Opened 4 Sept 14  Canberra’s Royalla Solar Farm, owned by Spanish company Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV), was opened on Wednesday.

The 24MWp solar power plant  is located just south of Tuggeranong, approximately 23 kilometres south of the Canberra CBD and will generate enough electricity to supply around 4,500 Canberra homes.
Comprised of 83,000 solar panels, it’s not only largest solar farm in Australia, Royalla is also the first large scale solar facility connected to the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Among those at the opening were ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell, Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes and Clean Energy Council Acting Chief Executive Kane Thornton.

“This project has helped to demonstrate the exciting opportunity and massive benefits that large scale solar can deliver in Australia,” said Mr. Thornton.

“The Royalla Solar Farm is a showcase for what is possible using today’s technology, and has utilised many local businesses, suppliers and contractors to deliver a real boost to the local economy.” Continue reading

September 4, 2014 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

ACT’s Uriarra solar project is important to the nation

Australia-solar-plugNational significance of Uriarra solar should not be underestimated, says ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell August 14, 2014 Kirsten Lawson Chief Assembly reporter for The Canberra Times.

View more articles from Kirsten Lawson With the country’s biggest solar farm in Canberra’s south about to go live, Environment Minister Simon Corbell has defended the controversial Uriarra solar farm in the face of bushfire concerns and overwhelming opposition from local residents.

Mr Corbell said the 20MW array off the Monaro Highway at Royalla, which will go live in a couple of weeks, was twice the size of any other solar farm in the country and the largest feeding into the national grid. Its nearest rival was a 10MW solar farm in Western Australia.

He said the Uriarra solar project, now in planning, would also be 10MW and its significance on the national scale should not be underestimated.  He rejected residents’ characterisation of the 27-hectare solar array at Uriarra as an industrial site.

“These are PV panels sitting in a field,” he told the ACT Assembly. “They don’t create noise, they don’t create emissions, they don’t create all of those things that are associated with an industrial plant. But, of course, the opponents … want to characterise it as that because in doing so … they hope to attach the emotional language that comes with industrial, manufacturing or mining or other resource-intense facility.”

The solar farm was low impact, environmentally beneficial and simply harnessed the power of sunlight, Mr Corbell said………

The Liberals’ Andrew Wall said the project had a litany of flaws, including the damage it would do to property values in Uriarra and the bushfire risk. Residents were not opposed to solar power but to the site, he said.

But Mr Corbell rejected concerns about the power line, saying the village was already powered by an overhead electricity line through the same corridor as the planned solar-farm line.

The ActewAGL line is 11V, but Mr Corbell said it was “not a big difference when it comes to starting a fire”. “One spark will start a fire, it doesn’t matter about the power of the line,” he said.

Farmers wanted solar and wind farms because it helped them diversify and access a reliable income stream, he said.

The importance of the project should not be underestimated at a time when the federal government was sending a message to companies and countries around the world that Australia was not interested in renewable energy.

When Royalla begins operating in September, ActewAGL will pay it $186 for each megawatt hour fed into the grid. The company is expected to generate about 37,000 megawatt hours a year, and the maximum it will be paid for is 42,293 megawatt hours.

August 16, 2014 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

120 objections to Canberra solar farm -(a co-ordinated fossil fuel lobby attack?)

Government swamped by 120 objections to the Uriarra solar farm Canberra Times, August 12, 2014  Chief Assembly reporter for The Canberra Times. The government has been swamped by objections to the Uriarra solar farm, including from federal Labor MP Gai Brodtmann, who said it would damage the character and appeal of the village, block views, affect the rural feel and probably depress house prices.

Ms Brodtmann’s intervention will put pressure on the government, as will the weight of opposition from residents of Uriarra Village across the road from the planned solar farm. More than 80 are among about 122 people to submit submissions.

Just six submissions are in favour, and only one of them if from a resident. John White wrote briefly in support. “Quite frankly, as the village is advertised as being a sustainable eco village, I do not understand the other resident views for not supporting such a wonderful opportunity the village could have gained by this solar farm.”…..

August 12, 2014 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment


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