Australian news, and some related international items

Small scale solar thermal energy initiative unveiled today in New South Wales

sunSolar plant to be unveiled at Wallsend swimming pool    A revolutionary solar thermal project invented by researchers at the University of Newcastle will be unveiled today at Wallsend swimming pool. The demonstration plant will collect heat from the sun in curved mirrored troughs, producing electricity and heat for on-site use, using the new heat engine technology.

The GRANEX project has been funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). Researcher Professor Behdad Moghtaderi says the technology will have significant benefits for remote mining and industrial sites in rural communities.

“It can be used in remote communities, aboriginal communities, because all we need is a set of solar arrays,” he said. “You really don’t need diesel fuel, or anything like that.

“The problem is not really the infrastructure as such. “It’s more of a cost and logistical problems associated with transporting diesel fuel.”

The Wallsend swimming centre could save hundreds of dollars on its its annual power bills because of the project.

Professor Moghtaderi says the technology means electricity can be produced with zero carbon emissions from a range of different sources.”Any type of low-grade heat source and also renewable energy sources, in the example that you have for a swimming pool today, essentially we are using solar energy as heat input,” he said. “But, with the same token, you can use geothermal energy, biomass energy or waste heat going out of the stack of power plants and things like that.” ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht today joined Parliamentary Secretary for Industry and Paterson MP Bob Baldwin at the official launch.

“The $1.7 million project integrates solar thermal and GRANEX heat engine technology and is supported by $812,000 funding from ARENA,” he said.”The 200 kilowatt solar field, located at the Wallsend swimming complex, will generate 30 kilowatts of electrical output and 150 kilowatts of heat for the swimming pool.

Mr Frischknecht says the demonstration project is the first of its kind and will produce thousands of hours of valuable operating data.”It demonstrates the potential of small-scale solar thermal systems in providing cost effective energy options, particularly for off-grid areas,” he said.

“ARENA recognises the importance of supporting renewable energy projects that are innovative, economically geared and increasingly market-driven – such as those that could deliver low cost power to remote mining communities.

“It is vital that Australia continues to deliver world-leading and cost-effective renewable technology solutions that keep up with economic growth.”

April 16, 2014 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Community solar energy project underway in Illawarra, New South Wales

sunResidents back renewable energy plan April 9, 2014, WOLLONGONG ADVERTISER A group of Illawarra residents aims to set up a small-scale renewable energy project, such as solar panels on a community building roof.
The plan came out of a community energy forum held at the Illawarra Aboriginal Centre, in Wollongong, on March 27.

More than 30 residents turned up to hear a range of speakers talk about community renewable energy projects in Australia and overseas. The event was organised by the Wollongong Climate Action Network to generate interest and share ideas about how the Illawarra could set up its own  project.
Tathra resident and Bega Clean Energy for Eternity member Matthew Nott spoke about the significant efforts his community had made.
Reading about climate change in 2006, Mr Nott said he felt this was one of the greatest challenges we faced. He organised a ‘‘Clean energy for eternity’’ human sign on Tathra Beach, which attracted 3000 people.

With the help of others, Mr Nott ran a fund-raising campaign to place solar panels on community buildings – so far they have provided solar panels to six surf clubs, 12 Rural Fire Service sheds, five churches, 15 community halls and four preschools.
The group’s most ambitious project  is to build Australia’s largest community solar farm, providing half the power needs of Tathra Sewage Treatment Plant.

Graeme Jessop and John Davis from not-for-profit Clear Sky Solutions presented their investment model of renewable energy development. Last year they installed solar panels onto a Boggabri pub using investor funds.

Community Power Agency’s Nicky Ison spoke about community projects overseas. Forum participants agreed to work on a small-scale Illawarra renewable energy project, such as solar panels on a community building.
Organiser Rowan Huxtable said the network was very pleased at the community’s response and urged anyone wanting to help the project to contact them.Information: 0408 372 792 or email

April 10, 2014 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Broken Hill’s solar farm, part funded by ARENA will keep going

solar array GerladtonBusiness as usual’ for Government agency part-funding Broken Hill and Nyngan Solar Farms, ABC News 10 April 14 Gavin Coote A solar farm at Broken Hill in far-western New South Wales will still go ahead, despite the contractor’s uncertainty about future renewable energy investment in Australia.

First Solar is building the Nyngan and Broken Hill Solar Farms, but is reconsidering its future investments because of uncertainty surrounding the Federal Government’s Renewable Energy Target.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency, or ARENA, is an independent government agency and is helping fund the solar farm, along with the NSW Government.

The Agency says it won’t comment on any future projects in western New South Wales until they are signed off financially, but says it’s business as usual for the ARENA’s current programs, including those at Nygnan and Broken Hill…… “It is business as usual for ARENA, we are continuing to manage our existing projects and to assess and progress proposals we receive in accordance with our procedures and decision making processes.”….

April 10, 2014 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

IPCC report strengthens activisim against coal and gas industries

logo-IPCCAustralian activism reaches fever pitch as IPCC warns on climate, Guardian, 1 April 14  New South Wales campaign group is harnessing community support to confront oil and gas companies over drilling As George Bernard Shaw put it: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

Australia‘s coal and gas operators may not agree with Shaw, but it is the power of these unreasonable people that new campaign group Our Land, Our Water, Our Future hopes to tap. Continue reading

April 1, 2014 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Northern Territory is no place for Sydney’s radioactive waste

WASTES-1The NT is no place for Sydney’s radioactive waste: Time for evidence, not expedience,  Natalie Wasley, 28 Feb 14,  A plan by the NSW Government to move large volumes of radioactive waste from suburban Sydney to a proposed but non-existent dump site at Muckaty north of Tennant Creek highlights the confused and short-term thinking surrounding radioactive waste management in Australia, according to national radioactive waste watchdog the Beyond Nuclear Initiative.

BNI has condemned the suggestion by NSW Finance Minister Andrew Constance that radioactive soil from Hunter’s Hill should be transported to the proposed national radioactive waste dump at Muckaty. “The NSW Liberals’ first plan to transport contaminated soil to politically vulnerable areas of Western Sydney was strongly challenged by the community, local councils and trade unions,” said BNI coordinator Natalie Wasley.

“The latest plan – calculated to move the waste out of the sight and mind of residents in the affluent suburb of Hunter’s Hill – shows extreme contempt for Muckaty Traditional Owners who have been campaigning for almost seven years against the NT dump plan.”

“A strong alliance between Traditional Owners, health and environment groups, trade unions and social justice organisations has stymied and delayed the Muckaty plan. The Muckaty site nomination is the subject of Federal Court action set for trial in June. Any attempts to move radioactive waste there from NSW would be actively challenged by the local community and their growing national network of supporters.”

“Mr Constance’s ‘viable option’ of a 3500km road trip for 5000 tonnes of waste is a long way from international standards that call for community participation in decision making on radioactive waste storage. Transporting radioactive materials long distances presents an unacceptable risk to transport and emergency workers as well as communities along the route.”

“The NSW government clearly does not have a strategy for responsible waste management beyond attempts to find a disenfranchised community to dump it on.”

“Instead of short term dump and run politics we urgently need an independent national commission into advancing responsible radioactive waste management. Minister Constance’s proposal highlights the pressing need for this inquiry to go ahead while the Muckaty site nomination is contested in court. Instead of political plans and toxic trucks we need a genuine and evidence based assessment.”

February 28, 2014 Posted by | New South Wales, Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

Like Abbott, New South Wales government not taking climate change seriously

climate-changeClimate doomsday planning powers to be eroded EAN HIGGINS THE AUSTRALIAN JANUARY 30, 2014 COUNCILS in NSW will be instructed to distinguish between “clear and present dangers” of coastal erosion and flooding and “doomsday” UN scenarios of global sea-level rises under a landmark policy on coastal planning and climate change to be unveiled today.

NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard will release a draft circular aimed at stopping some coastal councils from imposing draconian planning restrictions based exclusively on UNIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predictions of what could happen a century ahead.(subscibers only)…..

January 30, 2014 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Australia’s largest solar plant – construction begins

Construction begins on Nyngan, Australia’s largest solar PV plant REneweconomy, By  on 28 January 2014 Construction of AGL Energy’s $300 million solar PV plant in central NSW is set to begin, with the head contractor, First Solar, going on-site on Tuesday.

The ARENA-backed Nyngan Solar Plant – with more than 1,350,000 PV modules expected to be installed on a 250 hectare site – will be the largest PV plant in Australia, and the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, once finished.

Construction is expected to take around 18 months to complete, with the 102MW plant slated to be fully operational by June 2015. Continue reading

January 29, 2014 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | 1 Comment

New South Wales’ biggest wind farm on the way

Foundations poured for NSW biggest renewable energy project Fri 24 Jan 2014 Foundations have begun to be laid at the Monaro site in the New South Wales south east of what will become the State’s biggest wind farm project.  Continue reading

January 25, 2014 Posted by | New South Wales, wind | Leave a comment

Lucas Heights Nuclear Reactor gets MORE money,for its cover of medical research


Nuclear medicine is the nuclear lobby’s “fig leaf” – to make nuclear look good. Medical isotopes can be obtained without needing a nuclear reactor

Watpac wins $83m contract for nuclear facility GINA RUSHTON THE AUSTRALIAN JANUARY 22, 2014

QUEENSLAND-BASED builder Watpac has won an $83 million contract from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation to design and construct the Nuclear Molybdenum-99 facility at Lucas Heights, in Sydney’s south. Continue reading

January 22, 2014 Posted by | New South Wales | Leave a comment

Award to Australian university team for cost-cutting solar technology


Professor Stuart Wenham and his team at the University of NSW won this year’s A. F. Harvey Engineering Research Prize from the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and plan to plough the $560,000 award – one of the world’s richest – back into their work. “The prizemoney is going to be very valuable for us,” Professor Wenham said. “We’re going to use that to expand one of the research areas that actually contributed to winning us the prize.”

As Fairfax Media reported in May, Professor Wenham’s team discovered methods to control hydrogen atoms to correct deficiencies in silicon, the most costly material in solar photovoltaic (PV) cells.

As a result of the new hydrogenation process, lower-quality low-cost silicon can achieve the same performance as typical commercial cells using the expensive high-purity silicon, which now convert about 17-20 per cent of the sun’s energy into electricity.”

Cell performance can be raised “to make it just as good as if they’d used very expensive material”, he said………


January 20, 2014 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Gullen Range Wind Farm now sending energy into the National Electricity Market.

wind-turb-smGullen Range wind farm starts producing renewable energy Crookwell Gazette Dec. 19, 2013, GOLDWIND Australia has celebrated a significant milestone with the first renewable energy generation from Gullen Range Wind Farm. Continue reading

December 20, 2013 Posted by | New South Wales, wind | Leave a comment

A call to Aboriginals to use their power and influence

Taking the wheel, Deadly Vibe,  December 13, 2013 An old Native American proverb states “Only when the last tree has been cut down; only when the last river has been poisoned; only when the last fish has been caught; only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.” This statement is beginning to hit home in today’s society, and in the spirit of sustaining land, 50 Indigenous leaders flocked to Griffith for a historic forum. Continue reading

December 20, 2013 Posted by | aboriginal issues, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Sutherland Shire happy to host nuclear reactor, but not so keen on hosting radioactive wastes

Oscar-wastesSutherland Shire to get radioactive waste storage facility  St George and Sutherland Shire Leader By Jim Gainsford and Kate Carr Nov. 29, 2013 The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency has given the green light to the controversial plan to build a nuclear waste storage facility at ANSTO.

Construction of the facility at Lucas Heights is set to begin next year, with intermediate-level radioactive waste set to arrive back in Australia from France in 2015.

Sutherland Shire mayor Steve Simpson said this afternoon that the council was ‘‘strongly supportive of the work ANSTO does but we are still calling on the federal government to expedite a permanent waste storage facility for nuclear waste collected throughout Australia’’………

This waste is returning from France in 2015 in accordance with agreements relating to the processing of the waste. The waste will comprise one flask of processed nuclear fuel and six smaller drums of waste. Fortunately the licence from ARPANSA will not cover waste to be returned from the UK which we’re told is due to be returned at a later date.

“The fact that the waste will end up at ANSTO as there is no National Radioactive Waste Repository is not good enough for the residents of the Sutherland Shire who are concerned about the safe transportation and storage of this nuclear waste.

“Indeed the ARPANSA approval notes that the interim storage of the waste at ANSTO is not in line with international best practice and ARPANSA stresses the need to establish a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF), as storage of nuclear waste at Lucas Heights is not an acceptable long term solution.

“The continued transportation of Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste to Lucas Heights in the form of reprocessed fuel represents an unnecessary risk to the surrounding residents and communities”…..

November 30, 2013 Posted by | New South Wales, wastes | Leave a comment

Citizen donations fund New South Wales solar energy project

logo-CorenaAustralian Solar Project Loan Funded By Citizen Donations 29 Nov 13,  CORENA (Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia Inc.) has provided Tulgeen Disabilty Services an interest-free loan of $12,000 to install solar; with the loan funded entirely by donations from the public.

Two rooftop solar PV systems have been installed for Tulgeen; located in Bega, New South Wales.  The Tulgeen cheese packaging facility, which employs people with disabilities, has a 4kW system that will supply 58% of its electricity needs. A 3kW solar panel array installed at the Training and Education Services day programs centre will provide 21% of that building’s requirements.

CORENA uses donations from the public to fund projects; then electricity sales and loan repayments from completed projects to help finance future projects, thus continuously recycling donated money.  “Eventually, when we have funded around 120 such projects, repayments from earlier projects will be enough to continue funding one new project per month forever, without ever needing more donations,” said CORENA spokesperson Margaret Hender.

Operating on a shoe-string budget, 100% of the money donated is spent the projects themselves. Currently the group relies on volunteers’ time for administrative functions. “It enables everyone who wants more renewable energy now to collectively get on with the job, rather than just waiting on government action,” states the CORENA web site. Patron of the organisation is Monica Oliphant, who, among many other roles, was President of the International Solar Energy Society (ISES) in 2008/09.

Community-serving organisations are encouraged to apply for funding underCORENA’s Small Projects scheme.
Community-funded solar; both under an investment model or donation basis, has generated a great deal of interest in Australia; with dozens of communities and initiatives attempting to set the wheels in motion.

Government support for such initiatives has been scant to date, although a new ARENA-supported project due to commence early next year will delve into how to best realise the potential of community-owned renewable energy projects in Australia.

November 28, 2013 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Cogeneration sugar mill plants give renewable energy a new lease of life

Sugar mill renewable energy plants kick started by overseas sale. ABC Rural News, 12 Nov 13  Swiss-based company Capital Dynamic has taken over two of the country’s major renewable energy assets for an undisclosed sum.The cogeneration plants at the Broadwater and Condong Sugar Mills, in northern NSW, recommenced operations last Friday processing sugar cane trash from the current harvest.

They cost the NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative $220 million to build but have been shut down while receivers looked for a buyer.David Scaysbrook, managing director of Clean Energy Infrastructure at Capital says they have had their eye on the plants for a year.

“We have a history of taking over broken assets..we’ve done similar things in the UK in gas, coal and methane assets. We are operational experts and we think we can add something to the resuscitation of the business.”…….. Capital Dynamics refers to its purchase of the two cogeneration plants as a “compelling investment”.

The company’s David Scaysbrook, managing director the Clean Energy and Infrastructure team, says their investment breathes new life into the power plant operation and the future prospects for the local community in which they operate.

He says “especially to the local sugar cane growers who are so critical to the region’s economy.”

Capital Dynamics plans to “operate the assets over the very long term, to improve them and to deliver to their investors strong financial returns from multiple revenue sources”.

Mr Scaysbrook says it is a genuine, long-term partnership model.

The company’s chief executive officer, Stefan Ammann, says their team has decades of experience in successfully investing and operating thermal plants as well as other renewables such as wind and solar.

Capital Dynamics now owns and manages more than 230 mega watt of clean energy capacity in North America, Europe and Australia, with 68 MW of those now in northern NSW.

November 13, 2013 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment


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