Australian news, and some related international items

New South Wales goes for big solar energy

sunBaird and Nyngan bask in big solar energy switch by  on April 17, 2015 The Federal government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) may still be in political limbo, but states are voting with their sustainable dollars after New South Wales’ Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts and Minister for the Environment Mark Speakman cut the ribbon on what has been hailed as the installation of the final solar panel at Australia’s largest solar project. Continue reading

April 18, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Aboriginal women speak out for a Treaty

text TreatyAboriginal women on why Australia needs a treaty Thursday, April 9, 2015 By Rachel Evans & Richard Fan More than 150 people filled the Redfern Community Centre on March 20 to discuss a treaty for Australia’s first people.

Organised by Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS), the event was hosted by veteran journalist Jeff McMullen and televised by National Indigenous TV. As coverage of female Aboriginal voices are rare among mainstream discourses, their retelling of their pasts and hopes for the future captivated the room.

Natalie Cromb, a Gamileraay woman, said that a treaty “would help the Australian government keep its word to the Aboriginal people”. She noted the ongoing debates between treaty and constitutional recognition and argued that the British colonisers fashioned three legal ways to justify their occupation: “First it was settlement, second through conquest, then third through succession — where sovereignty was ceded and agreement was reached between the parties.”

Cromb observed that Britain occupied the land, declared terra nullius and declared that Australia’s Indigenous people were an absent, fading race. “Terra nullius was deliberate and the average Australian does not know about this history of rapes, murders, and genocidal policies, and that it was also used to deny compensation,” she said.

Cromb said that a treaty “is vital to our solution. It would be a first meaningful step. A treaty is the insurance policy we need to hold the government to account. But we are still at the bottom of the social pyramid. We are having water switched off in communities. We know constitutional change won’t stop the removal of our people.”

Amala Groom, a Wiradjuri woman and founding member of Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC) and STICS, noted that a treaty “would recognise the sovereignty of the First Nations over their land”, and secure the right of self-determination which was promised when Australia ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 40 years ago. Continue reading

April 15, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, New South Wales | Leave a comment

New South Wales Premier Mike Baird firmly on the side of the coal lobby

fossil-fuel-industryThom Mitchell: Backing Big Coal – Mike Baird Promises To Up The Ante For Acting On Your Conscience
Miners get rewarded for destroying our environment, while protestors cop massive fines. And it’s about to get worse. Welcome to Mike Baird’s new New South Wales……..

“So-called plans to phase out mining in NSW have no place in this parliament,” Baird announced, “and I’ll be very clear on this, no place”.

In fact, Baird said, he would halve the time it takes to get big mines approved………

New Matilda understands Baird’s Liberal government will seek to change Workplace Health and Safety laws and other relevant legislation in the new parliament to reverse the liability, but protestors are unlikely to be deterred by his promise of harsher penalties……

April 13, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Wind energy company gives up on Australia due to RET uncertainty

Renewable energy sector crisis forces Banco Santander to quit Taralga wind farm, SMH,  March 31, 2015  Angela Macdonald-Smith Banco Santander, a major investor in renewable energy, will sell its only Australian wind farm and exit the local sector because of policy uncertainty that has dragged the industry into crisis.

Santander will seek a buyer for its 90 per cent stake in the 106.8 megawatt Taralga wind farm near Goulburn, which is not being included in the renewable energy fund it set up late last year with two Canadian pension giants because of the perceived poor prospects for the sector in Australia, say sources………

Santander is closing the Sydney office for its equity investment arm, which focuses on renewable energy, in mid-2015.

April 2, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, wind | Leave a comment

New South Wales govt funds Byron Bay’s renewable energy trading plan.

piggy-ban-renewablesNSW Govt tips $15,000 into Byron renewable energy trading , Courier Mail, JOHN CONROY MARCH 25, 2015 The Baird Government in NSW has announced $15,000 in funding to back Byron Bay’s renewable energy trading plan.

The Byron Bay council trial in collaboration with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Institute of Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney and the NSW Renewable Energy Advocate, will allow the allow the local sports centre to sell renewable energy generated by their solar panel array to the council’s sewage treatment plant.

“This trial will mean we have two facilities using renewable energy from one site, allowing the sewage plant to run off clean, sustainable power and achieving greater use of energy generated by the sports centre’s solar panels,” Environment Minister Rob Stokes said……


    March 28, 2015 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

    Australian Senate votes to back councils’ solar initiatives in western New South Wales.

    sunSenate shines a light on bright solar initiative in western NSW The Senate has passed a motion calling on all levels of government to back a solar powered initiative in western New South Wales.

    The Greens put forward the motion in the Upper House yesterday about the solar energy exchange initiative which involves 24 council areas throughout the state’s west.

    The program is also known as SEXI. Each council is installing photo-voltaic panels as part of the initiative.

    Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said the motion was a significant show of support in the project and its ambition to provide cleaner energy. “There is nothing binding on this motion on anybody,” the Senator said. “However it clearly carries weight when the national parliament of the country comes behind a project in one specific region.”

    Senator Rhiannon said the project set an example for other councils around the nation to follow.

    “To have the support of the Senate clearly adds weight to this important project for solar energy in western New South Wales,” she said.  The councils involved in the initiative include Balranald, Bourke, Mid-Western and Narrabri.

    March 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

    Companies not keen to take up New South Wales uranium exploration licenses

    Slow uptake of NSW uranium exploration licenses By Jacqueline Breen, 18 Mar 15,  Only one of the six companies invited by the State Government to apply for a uranium exploration license has done so. The ban on mining uranium in New South Wales remains in place, but the Coalition has lifted the ban on exploration.

    Last year the government invited six companies to apply for licenses to explore for deposits around Broken Hill, Cobar and Dubbo.

    Only EJ Resources has submitted an application, seeking three licenses to explore north of Broken Hill.

    The other companies–Australian Zirconia, Callabonna Resources, Hartz Rare Earths, Iluka Resources and Marmota Energy–did not apply before the government’s March deadline passed. When the government announced the shortlist last year Resources Minister Anthony Roberts said the state needed a “stock-take” of its uranium resources.

    “This will allow us to understand fully what the uranium reserves are in New South Wales,” he said.

    If EJ Resources’ license application is successful, the state government’s Division of Energy and Resources said only low impact monitoring that doesn’t disturb land can be carried out, unless further approval is sought.

    The division said a land access agreement with landholders must be in place before any exploration begins.

    March 18, 2015 Posted by | business, New South Wales, uranium | Leave a comment

    New South Wales’s Labor plans to turn Hunter Valley into a renewable energy hub

    ballot-boxNSW election 2015: Turning Hunter into a renewable energy hub  By MATTHEW KELLY March 18, 2015  THE Labor Party would invest $14 million to help the Hunter become a renewable energy hub, if elected to government.

    Labor leader Luke Foley said expanding the renewable energy sector was a key component of the party’s plan to combat climate change. Other components of the plan include keeping the state’s electricity network in public hands and legislating for a 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020.

    It would also invest $37.4 million to replace florescent and incandescent lighting with LED technology in hospitals.  It is estimated this would cut power bills by about $72.6 million over 15 years.

    ‘‘We will focus on obtaining a greater share of our energy needs from renewable sources, which will help address the threat to our environment,’’ Mr Foley said.

    ‘‘As a state, we must pursue greater energy efficiency and cleaner energy sources.’’


    March 18, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

    The Greens have a renewable energy vision for New South Wales

    ballot-boxSmgreensSmgreen-collarGreens’ Clean, Renewable Energy Vision For NSW February 24, 2015

    The New South Wales Greens have unveiled their vision of a secure and clean energy future for the state, one where households and small businesses would become active participants in the electricity industry.

    Coal and gas fired electricity generation in NSW generates 60 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually, making the state one of the most carbon-intensive economies in the world.

    The Greens’ plan includes partnering with households to support the transition away from coal-fired electricity and gas to rooftop solar, energy efficient equipment and intelligent energy trading and management.

    The plan would see the creation of public sector energy agencies to provide financial support and technical advice, investment in a “smart grid” and keeping the network in public hands.

    “Transformation of the state’s energy industry is inevitable,” stated Greens NSW MP John Kaye, who said it was important this process begins as soon as possible. “Premier Mike Baird’s plans will to pass control of much of the electricity network to private hands would create political and financial barriers to the remaking of the network.”

    The Greens say their energy vision would slash household power bills and break the stranglehold of big private-sector energy corporations. They envision an electricity sector where households and businesses would trade roof top solar electricity and other renewable sources across a publicly-owned network.

    Pursuing a 100% renewable energy based New South Wales would also create a clean power jobs boom. While there are just 1,800 jobs in NSW’s coal-fired power stations and approximately 4,000 in mining the coal these facilities burn, more than 70,000 new jobs could be created in NSW in clean energy.

    The Greens state much of the $17 billion investment in electricity transmission and distribution since 2009 in New South Wales has been in the wrong kind of technology, locking the state into a centralised and expensive supply based on coal and gas.

    “A 100% renewable energy NSW is possible, affordable and essential. But it will not happen as long as the old parties remain committed to coal and gas and continue to frustrate and undermine wind and solar,” says the party.

    February 25, 2015 Posted by | energy, New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

    New South Wales Greens propose using mining tax to fund renewables

    ballot-boxSmgreensSmNSW Greens would use mining tax to fund renewable energy

    6th Feb 2015 THE “DIRTY” mining industry still has its uses, according to Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

    The Greens’ latest policy involves taxing mining companies an extra $250 million a year and investing the money into renewable energy and recycling.

    The “Renew Regional NSW Fund” would supply $1 billion over four years for energy and water saving projects, waste management, small-scale renewable energy, and agriculture research.

    Mr Buckingham alongside local Greens candidates Adam Guise and Tamara Smith were called on to explain why the coal industry would be needed to bankroll the fund. “We don’t want to base our economy on fossil fuels but what we want to do is make sure that as we make a transition out of coal, that the state benefits,” Mr Buckingham explained.

    “The state is getting very, very little; the vast majority of profits go overseas, and we want to see those returned to the whole state, not just the mining regions.”

    The mining industry contributes about $1 billion a year to the NSW economy, more than 90% from coal.

    The Greens would raise this to about $1.25 billion by lifting royalties on the coal industry by 2%, and 1% on all other minerals.

    Mr Buckingham said it was about creating an “alternative economic model” so the state’s economy wouldn’t be shocked when coal inevitably ends, also adding the royalty plunder might hasten its decline.

    February 7, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

    By the end of 2015, Broken Hill’s huge solar energy plant will be completed

    Broken Hill solar plant on track to complete at end of 2015, change of community engagement approach ABC News By Gavin Coote The company developing the $200 million Broken Hill solar plant says the project is on track to be complete at the end of this year.

    The 140 hectare development will be the second largest in Australia, trailing the sister project in Nyngan, and began construction last October.

    AGL project manager Adam Mackett said it was set to employ 150 people in the peak phase of construction, and currently 60 per cent of the employees were local……

    February 4, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | 1 Comment

    Massive Upper Hunter wind and solar farm underway, despite Abbott govt

    Upper Hunter wind and solar farm operator undeterred by RET changes The company behind a massive Upper Hunter wind and solar farm has not been deterred by renewable energy target changes, with work on its project now underway.

    Pamada plans to have 34 wind turbines, along with its solar plant and associated substations, at its Kyoto energy Park near Scone. Access roads have been constructed, ahead of work starting on a site compound.


    Reductions in the Renewable Energy Target (RET) have hampered the project, but project director Mark Sydney said he is determined to push ahead. “We’ve got a lot of support in the community, for a whole lot of reasons,” he said. “Yes we have started work.

    “We have access happening, but we will then continue in a measured way to do everything we can until hopefully government policy changes a little bit better for investor outlook in renewables.”

    Mr Sydney said his company is undeterred by the RET changes, mindful of the benefits the project could have. “With the new technology, if you just looked at the residences and businesses aside, probably the Upper Hunter, the Hunter and half of Newcastle would come from just the wind turbines themselves,” he said. “Most of the Hunter could easily be served by just the wind farm.”

    February 2, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar, wind | 1 Comment

    New South Wales distances itself from Abbott govt on Climate Change

    climate-changeNSW signs up to global climate group, SMH, Peter Hannam February 1, 2015 The Baird government has moved to burnish its climate change credentials, becoming Australia’s first conservative government to sign up to The Climate Group.

    NSW will join South Australia and Tasmania as the only Australian states to be members of the international non-profit organisation, which brings business, governments and communities together to promote renewable energy and cut carbon emissions blamed for global warming. Both SA and Tasmania signed up under Labor-led governments……….
    NSW has distanced itself over the past year from conservative counterparts, including the Abbott government, on climate and other issues. It backed leaving the Renewable Energy Target as it is, in contrast to the Abbott government’s efforts to cut the 2020 goal by as much as 40 per cent, and has spent $3 million preparing climate change studies for expected impacts to 2030 and 2070……..
    London-based The Climate Group shut its Australian offices in mid-2013, citing an “increasingly challenging political environment for action on climate change” at the time.

    Its States & Regions members account for more than 300 million people and 13 per cent of global GDP, said Libby Ferguson, a group director.

    NSW was “a forward-thinking state” with “progressive renewable policies”, Ms Ferguson said…..

    February 2, 2015 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

    Gunnedah Shire Council takes the solar power plunge

    Australia-solar-plugGunnedah moves to solar power ABC News  19 Jan 2015, Gunnedah Shire Council is the latest in a string of local governments across the region to join a movement embracing solar energy to power public buildings.

    The council is in the process of installing solar systems across a number of public buildings, including Council’s administration building, Gunnedah Shire Library and the works depot.

    Mayor Owen Hasler said the buildings are historically high energy users and transitioning to solar is expected to save council thousands of dollars annually.

    “We want to be seen as being proactive in reducing council’s carbon footprint, and secondly of course there’s also the financial implications,” he said.

    “It reduces our operational costs and effectively makes savings for our ratepayers.

    “For example in the depot, we’re expecting to save over $6,000 per annum and the administration building about $5,500.”……..

    January 20, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

    Nowhere to put Lucas Heights nuclear waste – but they still keep making it!

    text-wise-owlNuclear waste returning to Sydney from France  State Politics Editor, The Sun-Herald   A shipment of radioactive waste being returned to Sydney from France by December has raised concerns Lucas Heights is becoming a “de facto” national store.

    Federal government plans to build a national radioactive waste dump at Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory collapsed last year, and a new search for a site will begin in March.

    With no permanent national repository, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation has been forced to build an interim waste store at Lucas Heights for the French shipment. It will include 28 stainless steel canisters of reprocessed waste, and six cemented drums of technological waste, including gloves and protective clothing worn by French nuclear workers.

    The waste will be shipped from La Hague from July, immobilised in glass in canisters and shielded inside a specially designed forged steel transport container with 20-centimetre thick walls.

    Australia sent the radioactive material from its nuclear research reactor to France in the 1990s for reprocessing, but under legal agreements, it must be removed from France by December 2015. More waste will be returned from Britain in 2017. Continue reading

    January 19, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, wastes | Leave a comment


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