Australian news, and some related international items

New South Wales town Uralla shows the way to q100% renewable energy

Parkinson-Report-NSW town provides blueprint for 100% renewable energy communities, One Step Off The Grid By  on October 6, 2015 (interesting diagrams), 

The NSW town of Uralla has outlined plans to go 100 per cent renewable energy, in a government-sponsored blueprint that could become the model of many other towns in NSW and other states to follow suite.

The Zero Net Energy Town – the Uralla Case study – was released today and describes a two-stage process that the town could adopt to go 100 per cent renewable, or “zero net energy”. It is a blueprint that others can follow, and two dozen towns in the state have already expressed interest.

The good news is that Uralla – population 6,034 and in the heart of Barnaby Joyce’s New England electorate – can get most of the way to their council’s objective of becoming “zero net energy” just by using measures that are proven and that will save them money.

These include things such as LED lighting and home insulation, and producing energy on site, particularly with solar PV. These measures will save the town around $2.2 million a year in energy costs, the study finds. Continue reading

October 7, 2015 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

New South Wales way behind on renewable energy

poster-renewables-rallyNSW ‘at bottom of pack’ for renewable energy; Government says it’s committed to clean projects, ABC News By state political reporter Brigid Glanville. 30 Aug 15,  It may be known as the premier state, but New South Wales is a clear under-achiever when it comes to renewable energy.

NSW has the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions in the country and does not have a renewable energy target.

In 2014 the renewable industry body, Clean Energy Council, listed New South Wales at the bottom of the states for renewable energy production. Only 6 per cent of its electricity is from wind, solar and water — compared with Tasmania, which uses 95 per cent renewables. “New South Wales is at the bottom of the pack of the Australian states when it comes to renewable energy,” Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said.

“It’s behind the pack in terms of generating renewable energy and the amount of rooftop solar on people’s roofs.”

New South Wales and the two territories remain the only jurisdictions where Solar PV panel penetration is under 10 per cent.

In South Australia, take up is almost 25 per cent.

Clean energy penetration by state

  • Tasmania 95%
  • South Australia 40%
  • Western Australia 13%
  • Victoria 10%
  • Queensland 7%
  • NSW 6%

Source: Clean Energy Council, Clean Energy Australia Report 2014

Continue reading

August 30, 2015 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Enova Energy New South Wales community organisation starts new renewable energy provider


The directors said in the prospective that the “nimble and collaborative locally based social enterprise model” used by Enova could be replicated and scaled across like-minded communities in Australia.

The share offer closes on September 25.


Northern Rivers community seeks $4m in energy IPO  August 30, 2015 Angela Macdonald-Smith A community-owned organisation in north-eastern NSW is set to take on the big guns in electricity supply through a $4 million initial public offering to fund a renewable energy retailing and solar company it hopes will stimulate local renewable energy projects across the country.

Enova Energy, chaired by consultant and former NSW state librarian Alison Crook, is aiming to capture customers in the Northern Rivers region, where retailing major Origin Energy dominates the market.

Ms Crook said Enova was not aspiring to be a major competitor of Origin but sought mainly to provide a customer for small wind farms, hydropower and bio-energy projects that were not large enough to be of any interest to major retailers as a green power provider.

“We see this as a game-changer to get community renewable energy really going in Australia,” Continue reading

August 30, 2015 Posted by | business, energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Lucas Heights (terrorism target) gets security upgrades

Security upgrades at Lucas Heights nuclear reactor not influenced by trespasser scare, SMH, August 25, 2015  Canberra Times Reporter

Security upgrades at Australia’s oldest nuclear reactor were not triggered by the arrest of five men caught loitering outside the site last year, according to officials.

The men were arrested and questioned in September after parking their vehicles within 100 metres of the security gates to the Lucas Heights reactor in southern Sydney.

The group were eventually released without charge but their actions led police to question why they had strayed onto restricted Commonwealth land.

Lucas H target

In response to a question on notice, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation chief executive Dr Adrian Paterson said security upgrades in October were not prompted by the scare.

“Control room operations were outsourced to one of Australia’s largest security firms with significant expertise and experience in control room monitoring,” an ANSTO spokesman said.”ANSTO’s first responder safety function was also outsourced to a private company.”

The spokesman said both changes were made after a detailed review of security arrangements and after consultation with the Australian Federal Police. “The changes have been successfully implemented and are delivering improved operational outcomes as well as cost savings,” he said.

“The AFP continues to be responsible for the 24-hour-a-day physical protection of the ANSTO site as well as armed first response.”

Dr Paterson said ANSTO received regular briefings from the intelligence community and their security posture could be strengthened quickly in response to specific threats……..

In 2001, Greenpeace activists gained entry to the Lucas Heights complex and unveiled banners claiming nuclear power was “never safe”…….

. The Lucas Heights site will also receive a shipment of radioactive waste returned to Sydney from France this year, after being sent to Europe for processing in the 1990s.

According to legal requirements, the waste must be returned from France by December with more waste set to be returned from Britain in 2017……….

ANSTO marketing material states the returning waste is equivalent to one third of a shipping container.

The cost of transferring waste from Britain is expected to cost nearly $27 million over four years, while the return of waste from France has been funded in budgets since 2010……..

August 25, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, safety | Leave a comment

Judge defending the NSW Land and Environment Court

justice‘If you have a degraded environment, you’re impoverished’: Justice Brian Preston,  ENVIRONMENT EDITOR, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD August 14, 2015 – Brian Preston, chief judge of NSW Land and Environment Court, joins Peter Hannam for a chat over lunch……. The Land and Environment Court was the first so-named court in the world when it was established in 1979, according to Ben Boer, Emeritus Professor at Sydney Law School and Preston’s first lecturer on environmental law, and a long-time friend and collaborator. There are now about 700 such courts globally.

But long before he got the top job at the court, he helped found another key organ of environmental law: the Environmental Defender’s Office of NSW.

It was the EDO that last week won a ruling in the Federal Court that found Environment Minister Greg Hunt had not properly considered advice on two threatened species, the Yakka skink and the ornamental snake, when approving Adani’s huge $16 billion Carmichael coal mine in Queensland.

The verdict prompted Prime Minister Tony Abbott to declare that courts were being used to “sabotage” mining projects, adding that Australia “must, in principle, favour projects like this”. The NSW Bar rejected the comments..

While our lunch preceded Mr Abbott’s outburst, Preston defended the importance of judicial independence, and later remarked that miners too often view environment checks as merely red tape.

Preston makes time for our lunch between his court duties, ongoing research for a book on environmentally sustainable development, and his work for a global effort to find ways the law can be used to curb climate change. He also teaches biodiversity law at Sydney University, and has helped develop environmental law in China and Thailand – two nations particularly in need of regulatory control –……..

He says that having a specialist court with judges well-read in environmental issues does not imply – as some miners argue – that developers won’t get a fair hearing.

“You should be environmentally literate,” he said. “All courts strive to make the right decision and you’re more likely to make that if you’ve got more knowledge.”……..

August 14, 2015 Posted by | legal, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Australia’s government not stopping Sydney IKEA’s renewable energy project

IKEA backs renewable energy targets despite government changes, SMH,  by Sue Mitchell, 17 July 15  Richard Wilson is looking forward to the day he can go off the grid – not at his Sydney home but at homewares chain IKEA. As sustainability manager for IKEA Australia, the 43 year old is spearheading arguably the nation’s most ambitious private sector renewable energy project.

The world’s biggest furniture retailer, which has annual sales of €30 billion ($44 billion), is aiming to be energy neutral by 2020, with 100 per cent of its energy needs coming from renewable sources.

IKEA’s Australian business took the first steps last year, installing 16,000 solar panels on the roofs of six stores, including almost 4000 panels at its flagship store at Tempe, near Sydney Airport.

 The panels are now generating just under five megawatts of energy a year – enough to power air conditioning systems and low-energy lighting in stores and distribution centres during the day.

“It’s really cool,” says Wilson, who gave up his job running Randwick Council’s Sustaining Our City program almost three years ago to join the Swedish retailer, attracted to the company by its ambitious long-term environmental targets.

“When they do have bold ambitions it makes things happen,” says Wilson. “It was the 100 per cent renewable energy targets that got me excited about working for IKEA – I want to be on that journey.”

It’s a journey that may not have got off the ground if not for Labor’s now defunct carbon tax. When electricity was cheap and solar panels expensive, the business case simply did not stack up.

 “But we just kept recalculating it,” says Wilson. “We managed to get it in with the carbon tax and panels kept coming down in price.”

The company pressed ahead after the carbon tax was scrapped by the Abbott government last year and now expects to achieve payback in less than 10 years, in line with its parent’s relatively generous return on investment hurdles……….

July 18, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | 1 Comment

Radio shock jock Alan Jones caught out in climate falsehood

Alan Jones gets slapped down for climate lies MYRIAM ROBIN | JUL 10, 2015 The Daily Mail got its maths wrong in a climate story, and even The Australian admitted it. But undeterred, Alan Jones repeated the falsehood after the Oz apologised. The fallout from an erroneous Daily Mail story that mucked up its maths on global warming continues, with shock jock Alan Jones the latest to be slapped down by the appropriate watchdog for relying on the dodgy figures.

On September 16, 2013, The Australian published a story based on reporting in the British tabloid, which claimed a leaked… [subscription only]

July 11, 2015 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Radioactive Exposure Tour visits Sydney’s Lucas Heights Nuclear Reactor


Interestingly, the visit to Lucas Heights revealed another nuclear waste issue that apparently has been forgotten. None of the numerous employees and scientists present at the discussion knew what happened to the radioactive waste water – heavy water – from the HIFAR reactor. Is it still on site, has it been treated or even discharged? The risks in the latter would be enormous and the fact that no one had any information on it therefore both shocking and scary.

This is a strong reminder of the importance of independent monitoring of nuclear activities and the accountability civil society helps to enforce on operators. For Friends of the Earth, this is just the beginning of a tour that will release many more valuable lessons and incredible stories.

ANSTO’s radioactive waste management, Online opinion, By Anica Niepraschk , 3 July 2015 ANSTO, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, through its nuclear science, industry and medical operations at Lucas Heights in southern Sydney is the largest producer of radioactive waste in Australia.

Since 1959 Lucas Heights is producing ever growing amounts of low and intermediate level waste which it stores on site in designated facilities. The most recent addition to ANSTO’s waste facilities is an newly built hangar for reprocessed fuel, which has to return from France until the end of the year.

Although the construction of a reprocessing plant is currently discussed by the South Australian Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Australia so far has no capacity to reprocess the highly radioactive contents of ANSTO’s nuclear fuel rods. They are therefore sent overseas for reprocessing. Agreements with France and the UK provide for the resulting intermediate level waste to be returned to Australia, with the French shipping due to arrive in Australia until the end of the year…………..

The so called Radtour has been taking a great number of interested people and anti-nuclear activists to key nuclear sites in Australia for over 25 years, providing an opportunity to learn about the country and affected communities in a way that is rarely part of public narratives. It has thereby created strong bonds with Aboriginal and other communities throughout the country. Continue reading

July 4, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, wastes | Leave a comment

Local community funds Repower Shoalhaven renewable energy investment scheme

Repower Shoalhaven renewable energy investment scheme funded by locals, SMH, June 29, 2015 Kieran Gair First, it was the local bowling club. Then the churches. In the Shoalhaven, community solar power is on the rise.

Renewable energy is expected to supply almost 60 per cent of Australian electricity by 2040, according to research by  Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which found the fall in renewable energy prices  would drive a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

One community in NSW has already reaped the benefits of an early move to community-owned renewable energy. Non-profit Repower Shoalhaven installed Australia’s first investor-owned community solar project on the roof of the Shoalhaven Heads Bowling Club last year.

solar Shoalhaven Heads Bowling Club

Repower raised $145,000 for the project in just two weeks, with 80 per cent of the cost coming from “mum and dad” investors.

The company has just completed its second community solar investment project in the Illawarra region on Figtree Anglican Church and Nowra City Church.

Head of Repower Shoalhaven Chris Cooper said demand for renewable energy is growing as it becomes cheaper. “People want clean energy and they want secure investments and previously there was no real opportunity to do that so we created a system where the community pays for the solar power system and the business repays community investors via a power purchase agreement.

The Repower solar financing model allows local businesses to purchase community-owned renewable energy at a cheaper rate than grid power.

Figtree Anglican Church member and University of Wollongong Sustainable Building Research Centre masters student Daniel Jones said community owned solar had significantly reduced the overall electricity costs associated with running the church…….

July 1, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | 1 Comment

Central Sydney blocked as marchers protest Aboriginal community closures

handsoffAustralia: Sydney streets blocked by protest against Aboriginal community closures Warrior Publications by Calla Wahlquist, The Guardian, June 28, 2015

A protest against the closure of remote Aboriginal communities blocked streets in central Sydney on Sunday, as about 600 people marched against the Western Australian government’s plans to wind back support for communities it deems aren’t viable.

The protest began at Town Hall at 1pm on Sunday and moved toward The Block in Redfern, closing George, Lee, Regent and Lawson Streets on the way. t’s the third national call to action and the sixth time protests have shut down an Australian capital city in protest against the plan to overhaul funding to the state’s 247 remote Aboriginal communities, which the premier, Colin Barnett, has said will result in “significantly fewer” homelands communities remaining open……

At the same time, WA has developed its own “major reforms” for service delivery in remote Aboriginal communities, which is expected to lead to the closure, through withholding services from some communities, of a number of less populated communities over the next few years.

Details are scarce and the full model is yet to be worked out. Nominations for Aboriginal leaders to join the regional working groups intended to steer the reforms closed this month.

Protest organisers, rallied around the #SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA hashtag on social media, have been ramping up activities since Friday ahead of July 1 – the day federal funding to WA’s remote communities formally switches over to the state…….

July 1, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Surge in solar power in Eastern Australia threatening sale price of power assets

Solar boom raises doubts on power asset sale THE AUSTRALIAN< ROSS KELLY
JUNE 30, 2015 When bidders crunch the numbers on a looming $26 billion auction of Australian power assets in one of the world’s biggest privatisation of this year, they would do well to cast their eyes upward, to the tops of apartment blocks and factories.

Business for fitters of rooftop solar panels in eastern Australia is flourishing as more households and companies choose to generate their own power rather than relying entirely on electricity from the grid.While solar remains a small part of the nation’s energy mix, accounting for about 2 per cent of electricity output, the industry’s growth in recent years is casting a shadow over the impending auction of power assets in New South Wales.

Demand for solar power began stirring around eight years ago, when expensive upgrades to the grid jacked up electricity bills while rooftop-panel prices were falling. The market has continued to grow despite easing in late 2010, when the state government started slashing generous subsidies for people who sold solar power back into the grid.

Now, many expect a strong pick-up with the launch of new batteries from Tesla Motors and others capable of storing substantially higher amounts of solar energy for use after sundown — and at prices that are expected to fall more within the reach of ordinary households. Batteries with weaker storage capabilities have been around for some time, but stronger ones have tended to be prohibitively expensive.

“Whether it takes 12 months, two years or five years, I believe battery storage will become viable,” said Matt Vella, managing director of MPV Solar, which turns over $5 million a year installing panels in sun-soaked Sydney suburbs. “When it does, it’ll be as big for the energy market as the shift from the fixed-line telephone to mobile phones.”

New South Wales last week invited first-round bids for a long-term lease of 49 per cent of the government’s power-transmission network…….

The problem for bidders is this: How do you value the poles and wires that crisscross the state if demand for solar panels and storage batteries surges? A recent survey commissioned by Morgan Stanley found 2.4 million households in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia states were willing to spend up to $10,000 each on a solar-panel installation, including the batteries. There were 7.8 million households in Australia in 2006, a total projected to rise to at least 11.4 million by 2031, according to the most recent count by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The worry for grid owners is that cheaper storage devices will take more people off their networks more often, forcing a ramp-up in prices to cover costs. And the higher rates go, the more appealing solar panels and other energy-saving gizmos, such as low-voltage lights, look.

“That’s when people start talking about the death spiral,” said Clinton Wood, director of Lighthouse Infrastructure, a Melbourne-based fund manager with investments in solar power.

To be sure, the rooftop solar market has been unstable and influenced by government regulation, even on a continent with the highest amount of solar radiation per square meter. It is also unclear how soon companies such as Tesla can drive the cost of batteries low enough to appeal to a mass market. Tesla’s “power-wall” batteries, which were launched in May and will be available later this year, will sell for as much as $4,500 and need to be integrated with solar panels and other devices. The cost of buying and installing the full package may be $26,000 or more.

The case for solar power is more clear-cut for businesses that use energy during the daytime. Sun Connect, which turns over tens of millions of dollars a year, decided three years ago to focus exclusively on the commercial market. Since then, the company says, revenue has tripled……..

July 1, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales | 1 Comment

All year round vegetable production from huge solar glasshouse in New South Wales

solar glasshouseMassive solar-powered glasshouse in NSW Hunter Valley to employ refugees, migrants , ABC News, By Jackson Vernon  21 June 15 Construction is underway on Australia’s biggest glasshouse, in the New South Wales Hunter Valley, which is solar powered and already providing employment opportunities for new migrants and refugees.

Excavators have started the groundwork on the vegetable growing facility at Fullerton Cove, about 40 minutes outside of Newcastle. At more than 16 hectares, it will cover the size of 20 rugby fields.Dutch investor Cor Disselkoen has developed glasshouses throughout the Netherlands and has brought in materials and labour for construction here.

highly-recommendedOnce operating, the facility will produce 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes, cucumbers and capsicums every year. “We are producing 14 times more per square metre so we have a huge production compared to open field growing,” Mr Disselkoen said.

“It’s year-round, reliable, independent from whatever climactic circumstances so we can guarantee year around delivery to our clients.” Continue reading

June 21, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

AGL’s Utility-scale Solar Photovoltaic plants in New South Wales

Utility-scale PV in Australia: AGL’s 102 MW Nyngan solar plant achieves full generation Solar Server 15 June 15 AGL Energy Limited (AGL, St Leonards, North Sydney Council, Australia) on June 9th, 2015 confirmed that the Nyngan solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in western New South Wales (NSW) has achieved full generation, sending 102 MW of solar power into the National Electricity Market.

The 250 hectare Nyngan PV plant together with its sister solar plant in Broken Hill, will have a combined capacity of 155 MW, bolstering AGL’s credentials as the largest ASX-listed owner, operator and developer of renewable energy generation in Australia. In the last decade AGL has invested more than USD 3 billion in renewable energy projects.

AGL Project Manager for both the Nyngan and Broken Hill Solar Plants, Adam Mackett, said the team has been working very closely with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and local distributor Essential Energy (EE) to make sure testing and commissioning was satisfactory to enable 100 percent generation. Largest utility-scale solar PV plant ever built in Australia

solar PV nyngan NSW

AGL’s 140 hectare Broken Hill plant has also reached a significant construction milestone, with 35 percent of the 650,000 solar PV modules installed……..

“This new Australian record sends a strong signal to the energy industry that utility-scale solar PV plants can be constructed on time and on budget,” said Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) CEO Ivor Frischknecht, adding, “ARENA is pleased to support this landmark project, which will greatly increase market confidence in future solar PV projects, bringing down the cost of planning, construction and finance.”……

Nyngan and Broken Hill PV plants to produce 360,000 megawatt hours of solar power annually……..AGL will deliver the solar plants in partnership with local councils and communities, project partner First Solar, as well ARENA and the NSW Government.

June 17, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Maitland-Newcastle Catholic diocese holds forum “Transitioning to Renewable Energy”

Maitland-Newcastle diocese takes up Pope Francis’ support of environmental issues June 9, 2015, The Hunter’s involvement on the transition to renewable energy will come into focus during a public environmental forum preceding a letter from Pope Francis on environmental issues. The Social Justice Council of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle will host the public forum “Transitioning to Renewable Energy” at St Pius X High School on Wednesday night.

A group of Maitland students, ­teachers and residents will attend.

The forum follows Pope Francis’ announcement that his highly anticipated encyclical letter on environmental issues to be released on June 18. Continue reading

June 10, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Australia is obligated to take back Lucas Heights nuclear waste from France

text-wise-owlthe Australian Conservation Foundation doesn’t think the outback is the ideal location.

Spokesman Dave Sweeney believes the bulk of the waste should remain at the ANSTO facility in Sydney and at the CSIRO facility in Woomera, SA, where the country’s, if not the world’s top minds, are located.

He says there wasn’t an urgent need to move the waste and argued there were still risks associated with transporting and storing radioactive material in the middle of nowhere.

“We are not aware of all the sites that have nominated, but we are aware of some of them and there are problems,” Mr Sweeney said.

The sites the ACF are aware of all rest in outback WA

Lucas-wastesAt present, a Royal Commission is being held in South Australia to examine the feasibility of developing a nuclear storage facility which would house not only our waste but international waste.

Time is ticking for Australia’s first nuclear waste dump, JUNE 05, 2015“…..[THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT]  put out a call for any land owner, council or company to nominate their land for the facility. Submissions closed last month. And the Department of Industry and Science plans to release the short list in mid-July. Industry and Science Minister, Ian McFarlane, has said he wants to settle on a site by mid-2016.

Why the hurry?

Well, at the end of next month around 28 steel canisters of reprocessed nuclear waste is set to return home from France and the government needs to find somewhere to put it. Continue reading

June 6, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, wastes | Leave a comment


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