Solar energy world first in Australia http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/solar-energy-world-first-in-australia-20141207-121w8n.html December 8, 2014 Peter Hannam
A team from the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (PV) at the University of NSW has achieved 40.4 per cent “conversion efficiency” by using commercially available solar cells combined with a mirror and filters that reduce wasted energy.
Martin Green, the centre’s director, said the independently verified breakthrough eclipsed previous records without resorting to special laboratory PV cells that “you’ve got no chance of buying commercially”. Other top-performing solar panels convert about 36 per cent of the sunlight that falls on them into electricity.
The advance involved two steps. Three solar panels were stacked to capture energy from different wave lengths of sunlight, and then excess light from the stacked panels was directed by a mirror and filters to a fourth PV cell, making use of energy previously discarded.
“This is our first re-emergence into the focused-sunlight area,” said Professor Green, who pioneered 20 per cent-efficiency levels in similar technology in 1989.
The institute was prompted to revisit the technology in part because of Australian companies’ efforts to develop large-scale solar towers using arrays of mirrors to focus sunlight on PV cells.
One of those firms, Melbourne-based RayGen, collaborated with UNSW on the project. It is building a plant in China with an solar conversion rate of about 28 per cent. “We’d take them to the mid-30s” for future projects with the technology jump, Professor Green said.
Professor Green was critical of the federal government’s efforts to scrap the Australian Renewable Energy Agency – which chipped in $550,000 to the $1.3 million Power Cube project – and for its ongoing attempts to reduce the Renewable Energy Target set for 2020.
“A positive attitude to renewables would boost all these initiatives, a negative attitude will suppress them,” he said. “Clamping down on deployment of renewables will make it more difficult for developments like this to see the light of day.”
The next goal is to raise efficiency levels to 42 per cent next year, about half way to the theoretical maximum level of 86 per cent.
“It’s horse and buggy days as far as solar is concerned at the moment. There’s just this enormous potential for improvement in efficiency,” Professor Green said.
“To turn your back on those types of developments doesn’t seem to me to be a very sensible strategy.”
The university’s Mark Keevers led the engineering work on the so-called high efficiency spectrum splitting prototype, and its results were confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) at its outdoor test facility in the US.
Sydney gets international recognition for renewable energy plan http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/politics/local-government/sydney-gets-international-recognition-for-renewable-energy-plan/70135 2 December 2014
The City of Sydney’s Renewable Energy Master Plan has won the European Solar Prize 2014 award for excellence and innovation.
The award from not-for-profit organisation EUROSOLAR recognises outstanding commitment and contributions to the renewable energy sector.
“Our Renewable Energy Master Plan will help us transform Sydney into a city run entirely on renewable energy by 2030,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
“The City is Australia’s first carbon-neutral government with ambitious targets to reduce emissions by 70 per cent by 2030. We are delighted that our renewable energy master plan has received this prestigious recognition on a global scale.”
The City’s renewable energy master plan was nominated by renewable expert and president of EUROSOLAR Peter Droege.
“The City of Sydney’s renewable energy master plan demonstrates civic vision, technological leadership and political courage,” Mr Droege said.
“The plan demonstrates a commitment to a fully renewable energy based community and is a stellar model for other communities around the world to aspire to.”
Byron Bay residents push for Australia’s first community-owned clean energy generator, ABC News By Kerry Brewster , 26 Nov 14 Australia’s first community-owned clean energy generator and retailer is taking shape in the counter-culture capital of Australia.
Known for its alternative lifestyles, the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales is hoping to establish a not-for-profit energy company – Northern Rivers Energy – to rival the big retailers………
Northern Rivers Energy wants to attract 20,000 members, who would be able to buy, generate or invest in the enterprise.
After a feasibility study funded by the NSW Government is completed, a series of public meetings will begin.
Ms Crook has little doubt the people of the Northern Rivers will seize the opportunity to take control of their energy production………..
Rooftop solar and other renewables attractive for communities
With a surge predicted in rooftop solar and other power sources, renewable energy expert Giles Parkinson said consumers should expect profound change to electricity systems.
“The traditional domination by the three big retailers, that’s something of the past. How it evolves will be very interesting to see but certainly community ownership and the community-owned retailer is one of those options and we’ve seen it happen in Germany and other parts of Europe where it’s very powerful because you have people grouping together,” Mr Parkinson said.
“They’re not trying to make massive profits and they’re responding to what the people want to do.”……..
John Truman, manager of civil services for Ballina Shire Council, said his was one local council keen to get involved.
“We’re very interested in renewable energy sources so the opportunity to talk to anybody to assist in our future projects is something we’d be very interested in,” Mr Truman said. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-27/byron-bay-pushes-for-community-owned-clean-energy/5920272
Anti-CSG groups says use of radioactive materials should be disclosed, The Age November 24, 2014 Peter Hannam Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald Radioactive material is being used at some coal seam gas drilling sites in NSW and Queensland, raising concerns about potential health and environmental impacts.
A radiation management licence issued to US-based drilling company Halliburton shows it is permitted to use caesium-137, a radioactive isotope, for drilling by AGL at Gloucester, in the northern Hunter Valley and for Santos in the Pilliga forests near Narrabri.
Drillers deploy devices containing CS-137 to measure the composition of gas and water deep underground, with the isotope emitting gamma rays to operate like a miniature X-ray. Produced in nuclear reactors, the material is potentially deadly and among the main radiation concerns at failed power stations at Chernobyl and Fukushima…………
Environmental groups say the use of the radioactive material is not disclosed in the CSG projects’ Review of Environment Factors (REF) and Environmental Impact Statements, nor does it appear by name in Materials Safety Data Sheets.
An anti-coal seam gas campaigner at Gloucester, Jennifer Schoelpple, said AGL had played up the use of much more benign chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing – fracking – but had downplayed the role of caesium.
“No matter how thoroughly you search ‘under your kitchen sink’ or how scrupulously you check the ingredients of your condiments and ‘household products’, you are highly unlikely to lay your hands on any CS-137 in your family home,” Ms Schoelpple said.
“If they are so transparent, why don’t they document the most dangerous thing they use?”
Vicki Perrin, from Lock the Gate in Queensland, said farmers allowing CSG drilling on their land and the neighbouring communities should be made aware of the risks: “Farmers need to know there is a radioactive source on their site.”………http://www.theage.com.au/environment/anticsg-groups-says-use-of-radioactive-materials-should-be-disclosed-20141123-11s5vp.html
Aboriginal land council shuns Mundine over Wallarah 2 negotiations, Australian Mining10 November, 2014 Ben Hageman Warren Mundine has proven a poor choice to negotiate with local aboriginal groups, who have voiced their distrust in him for dealing with the Wallarah 2 coal mine.
After compensation negotiations with the Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council broke down this year, Korean government-owned miner Kores hired the chair of the Indigenous Advisory Council to represent the company, SMH reported.
A spokesman for Kores said Mundine had been engaged by the company “to facilitate the resumption of discussions between Darkinjung ALC and Wallarah 2 on a land access agreement.”
However, land council CEO Sean Gordon said the ALC did not want to negotiate through Mundine. “From our end there is distrust in his position as chair of the Indigenous Advisory Council and his general support for the mining industry,” Gordon said……..http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/aboriginal-land-council-shuns-mundine-over-wallara
NSW Government throws its support behind renewable energy projects for regions like the Mid North Coast ABC News 10 Nov 2014, State government grants totalling $700,000 are now available for new renewable energy projects in areas like the Mid North Coast.
Community-based renewable projects can apply for grants of up to $70,000, to help with set-up costs.
So that may mean providing financial help with feasibility studies, to engage with the community about the project and do some planning
Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy and Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams, said the projects will not be industrial-scale in size, and will be entirely owned by community members…….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-11/nsw-government-throws-its-support-behind-renewable-energy-proje/5881366
The NSW Aboriginal Land Council said the Baird Government had withdrawn its controversial Crown Lands Amendment Bill.
“Moving forward we’re happy to talk to the Government, but this Bill was divisive and discriminatory and undermined Land Rights” NSW Aboriginal Land Council Chairman Craig Cromelin said.
“We call on the Government to respectfully deal with Land Rights and start from scratch by genuinely consulting with Aboriginal people before any changes are made to the way Crown Lands in NSW are managed.”………
Cromelin said a community rally held to fight the Bill had helped lead to its withdrawal.
“It means a lot to us to see such a great turnout from mob at such short notice, especially as many people travelled great distances, as well as those who sent letters, emails and tweets to protest against the Bill” he said.
“The rally shows the power of mob uniting for Our Land Council, Our Mob and Our Future.” http://www.probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2014/11/aboriginal-land-rights-safe-now#sthash.0IfywKIB.dpuf
The government’s hurried assault on Aboriginal land rights – albeit followed by a hasty retreat – is a deeply unfortunate development, and has badly damaged any trust Aboriginal people can have in the Baird government in treating matters of Aboriginal rights with honesty and integrity.
Aboriginal people must not negotiate with politicians who assault their land rights, Sol Bellear The Guardian 5 Nov 14 The NSW government’s hurried assault on land rights – followed by a hasty retreat – is deeply unfortunate and has damaged any trust Aboriginal people can have in the Baird government The NSW government’s decision earlier this week to abandon legislation aimed at another wave of dispossession of Aboriginal people is welcome. However, the fact that we even got to this point is a matter of grave concern to Aboriginal people across NSW, and the country.
In October, minister for western NSW Kevin Humphries announced his intention to introduce legislation to parliament which extinguished land claims under the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act on beaches and coastal reserves. It would have affected have affected more than 600 current Aboriginal land claims around NSW. This is the legilsation which was withdrew on Monday. Continue reading
ACCC investigates claims of Aboriginal and mining ‘cartels’ October 24, 2014 SMH, Nicole Hasham
State Politics reporter Mining companies and Aboriginal groups allegedly engaged in “cartel conduct”, including price fixing for work involving ancient indigenous heritage sites, according to claims investigated by the competition watchdog……..Critics say Aboriginal cultural knowledge has been “commodified” and important artefacts and sites are being destroyed to make way for mining developments……..
Mining companies can pay groups known as “registered Aboriginal parties” to conduct field surveys and manage or salvage artefacts affected by mining development.
The ACCC investigated claims involving Rio Tinto Coal, Ashton Coal and NuCoal Resources,………
Aboriginal cultural heritage expert Maria Cotter claimed that decision-making on important sites was “being driven by dollar reimbursement and not by informed Aboriginal people making decisions about their heritage”.
“Aboriginality has been commodified in the process so that [people] are being bought to be Aboriginal, whether they have clear connections and understanding of the heritage of a particular place or not,” Dr Cotter said.
Scott Franks, who works with Ms Cotter and is a registered native title claimant for about 10,000 square kilometres of the Hunter Valley, claimed indigenous “blow-ins” from outside the area were engaged by mining companies, regardless of their knowledge or qualifications. Another local indigenous source close to the assessment process supported the claim……..http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/accc-investigates-claims-of-aboriginal-and-mining-cartels-20141026-119gab.html
Residents gather to oppose threat of uranium mining The Daily Liberal By MARK RAYNER Oct. 25, 2014 A strong crowd has turned out to voice their opposition to the Alkane Zirconia Mine, arguing the minerals it will extract pose a risk to the Dubbo community. About 70 people attended the meeting, entitled Alkane Rare Earth Mine: Radioactive Risk?, which was run by Uranium Free NSW.
They heard from the Central West Environmental Council’s Bev Smiles and Dr Gavin Mudd, who gave their opinions on rare earth and uranium mining. They are lobbying for a rejection of the Alkane proposal by the Planning and Assessment Commission on the basis uranium and thorium will be extracted. A decision is expected in November.
David Mould from Uranium Free Dubbo questioned the value of the project to the whole city.
“So far Alkane’s plans have not taken the health of Dubbo residents into account building a radioactive project without adequate consideration of engineering risks upstream of Dubbo’s drinking water supply.” Mr Mould said.
“Five out of 11 councillors stand to make money out of this project and the expansion of mining in Dubbo. How can Dubbo and Central West residents feel secure that their government cares for people over profit?”
Ms Smiles said with one of the largest deposits of uranium in NSW thought to exist in Toongi, the decision by the current state government to overturn a moratorium on uranium mining could be a negative thing for the region.
“The people of the Central West are concerned that this area has been targeted by the NSW government to open up uranium mining in NSW,” she said……..
The Planning Assessment Commission review for the Alkane Zirconia Project is November 4. Written submissions and applications to speak at the review close 1pm Wednesday October 29. Email email@example.com or phone (02) 9383 2112.
Graziers on alert as uranium exploration looms ABC News, By Jacqueline Breen 19 Oct 14 Graziers are watching closely as the state government prepares to grant uranium exploration licenses in the state’s far west.
Last month the government overturned the ban on uranium exploration and invited six companies to apply to explore for deposits near Broken Hill, Cobar and Dubbo.
The state’s Resources and Energy Division has since held a stakeholder meeting in Broken Hill, attended by the local council, New South Wales Farmers and the West Darling Pastoralists’ Association.
Association president Chris Wilhelm says landholders will be the first affected when exploration begins and he wants their rights protected……( Map below shows areas in New South Wales where uranium deposts exist, could be explored for))
The ban on uranium mining in New South Wales remains in place. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-20/graziers-watch-closely-as-uranium-exploration-looms/5825950
Why Australia should shut down the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor, Independent Australia Last week’s fire on a nuclear waste ship off Scotland shows why Australia’s Lucas Heights nuclear reactor should to be shut down, writes Noel Wauchope. 15 Oct 14, “……. The ship, the Parida, was carrying radioactive wastes that were being returned to Belgium……
In the case of Dounreay, there is now pressure on the countries where the wastes originated, because the Dounreay nuclear site is being decommissioned and demolished……
Transport of radioactive wastes to and from Lucas Heights is indeed a hazardous operation, requiring much expensive security. However, transport is not the only safety consideration. The previous HIFAR reactor ‒ and the present OPAL one ‒ have troubled safety records…….
Australia’s most notorious terrorist, Willie Brigitte was gaoled in France in 2007 for joining an al-Qaeda backed Pakistani terror cell that had conspired to blow up the Lucas Heights nuclear plant. …….
We should shut Lucan Heights down before we regret it. http://www.independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/why-australia-should-shut-down-the-lucas-heights-nuclear-reactor,6999
“We already have solar panels powering our aged-care facilities and heating our swimming pool; our community is telling us they want more renewable initiatives and this could fit the bill,” Cr Pearce said yesterday.
Non-for-profit company Starfish Enterprises has secured a $105,000 state government grant to develop a blueprint for a zero net energy town, ideally located in the Northern Tablelands.
While more than 100 businesses have tendered to draw up the blueprint, the next step in the process is to find a suitable town willing to become the first to switch to 100 per cent green power.
Uralla, Walcha, Glen Innes, Inverell, Bingara and Manilla have all expressed an interest in becoming the model town. Cr Pearce said Uralla stood a good chance of becoming the selected town because there was substantial community support for the idea.
The move would follow several towns in the United States and Germany, all of which have shifted to zero net energy. This means the towns are powered by LED lighting, bio-gas plants, daytime solar panels and energy efficient pumping systems.
Starfish executive director Adam Blakester said expressions of interests from towns closed next Friday.
“An average town of 5000 people would spend up to $20 million a year on energy,” he said. “If we can produce that energy locally and competitively, we create a new industry.”
Energy company plans for region to go renewable http://www.echo.net.au/2014/10/energy-company-plans-region-go-renewable/ Simeon Michaels 8 Oct 14 Northern Rivers Energy (NRE), Australia’s first community-based renewable energy retailer in the northern rivers, plans for the region to become fossil free within years.
Mark Byrne of the Total Environment Centre, which teamed with the Office of Environment and Heritage to provide the grant, told The Echo, ‘We had several excellent tenders, but the NRE tender won because they had the most sophisticated and thorough understanding of the ways that the northern rivers community could be involved in the company.’
As reported in Echonetdaily last week, this is the first Australian attempt to adopt the community energy company model that has had dramatic effects in Hamburg (Germany) and Colorado (USA).
‘The potential is enormous,’ says NRE spokesperson Alison Crook. ‘The northern rivers already has a high level of take-up of solar PV.
‘We have a community that really understands what it means to support each other.
‘We are aware of the reality of climate change and want to do something constructive about it.
‘We can work with existing generators and there is plenty of scope for new projects.
Model for Australia
‘Our aim is to generate sufficient renewable energy to cover our use within the region – a long-term goal and a moving target, but a model for Australia.’ The $54,000 grant will assist NRE to develop its business plan, which is expected to focus on providing renewable energy at competitive rates while purchasing solar and other renewable energy at a fair price from existing residential, commercial and government system owners. Continue reading
Spanish renewable energy firm sets up Melbourne-based subsidiary, THE FIFTH ESTATE 23 September 2014 Spain’s Elecnor Group has ignored the current political climate in Australia’s renewable energy sector and launched an infrastructure subsidiary based in Melbourne. ……..
Elecnor Australia’s first project is the $164 million solar photovoltaic farm in Moree, New South Wales for the Moree Solar Farm Company Pty Ltd, part of Fotowatio Renewables Venture. The joint venture originally included Pacific Hydro, which announced in August it was withdrawing from the project due to the policy-driven uncertainties impacting the renewable energy industry.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has contributed $101.7 million towards construction and operation of the project, and $47 million has been provided by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
Covering 191 hectares, the farm will comprise 232,960 panels with a forecast annual output of 150 gigawatt-hours direct into the main energy grid, enough to power about 15,000 homes. It is expected to be complete and commissioned by the second quarter of 2015.
In a media statement, Elecnor said Australia will be a base for it to expand operations in the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on developing business infrastructure and renewable energies………
The Moree project has already created a number of positions to be based at the town, with the firm earlier this month advertising for an assistant project manager (engineer), a construction manager, six technical engineers as sub-contract supervisors, mechanical and electrical engineers, a civil engineer, two draftpersons, accounts and administration, purchasing and logistics.http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/business/investment-deals/spanish-renewable-energy-firm-sets-up-melbourne-based-subsidiary/67877