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.
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…….http://www.smh.com.au/environment/repower-shoalhaven-renewable-energy-investment-scheme-funded-by-locals-20150629-ghwmmk.html
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…….http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jun/28/sydney-streets-blocked-by-protest-against-wa-remote-community-closures https://warriorpublications.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/australia-sydney-streets-blocked-by-protest-against-aboriginal-community-closures/
Solar boom raises doubts on power asset sale THE AUSTRALIAN< ROSS KELLY
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL 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……..http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/wall-street-journal/solar-boom-raises-doubts-on-power-asset-sale/story-fnay3ubk-1227421384047
Massive 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.
Once 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
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
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. http://www.solarserver.com/solar-magazine/solar-news/current/2015/kw25/utility-scale-pv-in-australia-agls-102-mw-nyngan-solar-plant-achieves-full-generation.html
Maitland-Newcastle diocese takes up Pope Francis’ support of environmental issues http://www.maitlandmercury.com.au/story/3135438/catholic-church-forum-on-renewable-energy/ 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
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
Time is ticking for Australia’s first nuclear waste dump, news.com.au 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
ANSTO staves off nuclear waste squeeze AFR by Christopher Jay 28 May 15, The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation ANSTO) will use a slab of this year’s $193 million budget allocation to extend and retrofit two existing nuclear waste storage facilities, to stave off a critical shortage of storage space which will otherwise materialise by 2017.Another $26.8 million over four years has been allocated to pack, ship and return Australian high level waste being reprocessed in the UK Sellafield plant no earlier than mid-2019. EPA Continue reading
A National Radioactive Waste Management Facility planned by the Federal Government? – ConspiracyOz http://conspiracyoz.com/2015/05/17/a-national-radioactive-waste-management-facility-planned-by-the-federal-government-conspiracyoz/
Environment agency orders Hunters Hill clean up Kirsty Needham www.smh.com.au May 17, 2015 The Baird government has been ordered by the Environment Protection Authority to clean up homes in Hunters Hill contaminated by a uranium smelter 100 years ago, after years of stalling. Plans to transfer contaminated waste from Nelson Parade in Hunters Hill to a Kemps Creek landfill have plagued successive state governments. Western Sydney residents rejected becoming a “dumping ground” for the radioactive waste, while Hunters Hill residents complained the contaminated soil had to be removed from the residential street.
Former Treasurer Andrew Constance put the clean-up on hold last February. But the Environment Protection Authority has issued a management order to Government Property NSW, which owns three of the contaminated houses, and has been tasked with carrying out the remediation of six properties in Nelson Parade. The EPA said the land was significantly contaminated with arsenic, lead and coal tar pitch which exceeded safety levels for residential land. Government Property NSW hadn’t met the remediation plans approved by the EPA in 2007 and 2013, the EPA said. It has been ordered to lodge a revised clean-up plan, confirm it has engaged a remediation contractor, and give monthly progress reports to the EPA.
A spokesperson for Government Property NSW said the agency had complied with the EPA management order and provided the details. “The details of the Project Plan will soon be published by the Department of Planning & Environment,” he said. “No restricted solid waste will be transferred from Hunters Hill to Kemps Creek while other alternatives are pursued. A national radioactive waste management facility planned by the federal government still remains the preferred option, the location of which is still to be determined.” A decision on where to send the waste has been delegated to the Planning Assessment Commission, which is expected to hold a public meeting.
May 15, 2015 by maxphillips The Greens coal seam gas spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today said that the conclusions from theNSW EPA’s completed investigations into Uranium contamination at Santos’ Narrabri CSG operations revealed alarmingly poor management and insufficient monitoring and he called on Santos to abandon the Narrabri project.
In their report, the EPA have said that they “have concerns with aspects of the site operations and management” and are issuing Santos with two legally binding Pollution Reduction Programs (PRPs) to improve groundwater monitoring.
“The myth that no cases of aquifer contaminations have occurred in NSW was busted by this incident where elevated levels of Uranium and other heavy metals were found in the groundwater near Santos’ holding ponds,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.
“No level of Uranium or other heavy metal contamination from coal seam gas is acceptable and the pathetic $1500 EPA at the time is hardly a deterrent to Santos or other companies.”
“It is alarming that the EPA have confirmed Santos does not have a sufficient monitoring program in place. Yet again we find that the management of a coal seam gas operation is not up to scratch and that pollution incidents cannot be properly assessed.”
“The Greens believe that coal seam gas is unnecessary, unwanted and unsafe and that Santos should pack up and leave NSW,” Mr Buckingham said. Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0427 713 101
Why does the Australian government persist in the lie that the nuclear waste contracted to return from UK and France originated from medical/scientific research? The medical radionuclides are but a tiny, tacked on part of the Lucas Heights reactor, and they are short-lived and not requiring export for reprocessing. The returning high level wastes originated from the reactor’s own process.
Federal budget 2015: Why Australia’s nuclear waste legacy will cost $27 million May 13, 2015 Lisa Cox National political reporter The Abbott government will spend nearly $27 million over four years to return radioactive waste that has been treated in the United Kingdom to Lucas Heights.
The funding is part of an agreement with the UK to return one of two batches of Australian waste, which the government said was largely generated from scientific research and nuclear medicine over a number of decades.
The second batch of nuclear material was sent to a facility in France for processing and its return has been funded in budgets since 2010.
Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear-free campaigner David Sweeney said of the federal money: “We believe the waste coming back to Lucas Heights is the least worst way to manage it.”
“That is – it’s still not a good thing,” he said.
“But because of the expertise, security and the presence of a purpose built facility at Lucas Heights it is the most appropriate option for the nation.”……….http://www.smh.com.au/business/federal-budget/federal-budget-2015-why-australias-nuclear-waste-legacy-will-cost-27-million-20150513-gh0i49.html
The study has found sea levels are rising faster than previously thought, and appear to be accelerating.Coastal councils, coastal planners, do need to take account of sea level rise in the 21st century – Dr John Church, CSIRO
It found seas have risen faster since 1993, compared to previous decades, and its observations are in line with projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
CSIRO Fellow, John Church, was among the authors and said the findings have major implications for coastal planning. Continue reading
AUDIO: Farmers use wind farm rent to pay on-farm costs ABC NSW Country Hour 24 Apr 15
Joshua Becker Farmers in south-east New South Wales are using wind farm rent to subsidise on-farm costs. AUDIO: Farmer uses rent from wind farm to pay for on weed management (ABC Rural)
Howard Charles is one of 17 farmers who have wind turbines from the Boco Rock Wind Farm on their properties west of Nimmitabel in south-east NSW.
He said money from hosting wind farms on his property had helped him tackle noxious weeds on his property.
“With the two towers on our farm the extra income from the rent certainly helps with controlling the weeds, which is a never ending problem, serrated tussock in particular,” he said.
“I don’t see any downside, we are the closest house to the wind farm, some of the towers are less than a kilometre from here, even with prevailing winds we don’t hear it, I don’t see it. I do wonder what all the fuss is about sometimes.
“They’re certainly not interfering with our agriculture at all and I think we’re going to wake up down the track to the fact that renewable energy is pretty important.
“The most telling comment I’ve had about this [wind farm] is – ‘thank God we’re not the Hunter Valley’…….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-23/farmers-use-wind-farm-rent-to-pay-on-farm-costs/6415126
Baird and Nyngan bask in big solar energy switch http://www.governmentnews.com.au/2015/04/baird-and-nyngan-bask-in-big-solar-energy-switch/ by Julian Bajkowski 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
Aboriginal women on why Australia needs a treaty https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/58715 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