Australian news, and some related international items

Queensland poised – could take off as renewable energy leader

map-solar-QueenslandQLD could become renewable energy leader  | 22nd Sep 2015 QUEENSLAND can become a leader in developing cleaner electricity, according to a new forum that has just launched a renewable energy transition document to explain how it’s possible.

The approach aims to create new jobs in regional and rural communities across the state and seeks to tap into global investment in renewable energy which rose 17% last year to more than $270 billion. Sustainable Queensland Forum patron, Marcoola’s Professor Ian Lowe, said we should be at the forefront of the shift from fossil fuels because of our abundance of solar and wind resources.

“Queensland can get on board and move away from its present reliance on coal to develop a pathway for a clean energy transition and play a major role in this growth sector,” Prof Lowe said. “We have long been known as the Sunshine State. “It’s time to earn that title.”

Despite one of the highest uptakes for household solar, with about half a million homes using solar energy, Queensland lags behind every state except WA in total renewable generation.

Report lead author Trevor Berrill said renewable energy schemes created jobs through the construction and operation and offered farmers and graziers the chance to supplement their income by hosting solar and wind installations. Members of the Sustainable Queensland Forum received a positive response to the report at a recent meeting with Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey and his Director-General.

Key recommendations of the report Queensland Transitioning to a Clean and Efficient Energy System also include the establishment of an area within the State Government to drive Labor’s target of 50% renewable energy by 2030 and no further fossil fuel generation as coal-fired stations reach the end of their productive life.

Improving energy efficiency delivers savings for users and creates jobs and training for more energy auditors. The Australian Solar Council, Queensland Conservation Council, Australian PV Institute, Alternative Technology Association and Environmental Defenders Office endorsed the findings.

September 23, 2015 Posted by | energy, Queensland | Leave a comment

Tax-payers likely to be hit with big costs of mines rehabilitation


State governments calculate the required rehabilitation bonds using a standard formula but Dr Erskine said the mining companies work off their own, and often very different numbers.

“The rehabilitation costs held independently by the mining companies are often much larger than the rehabilitation bonds paid to state governments,”

“what we see are mines placed into care and maintenance where the mining companies can avoid paying out rehabilitation bonds because the mine isn’t officially closed.”
Industry insider warns taxpayers may foot bill for mine rehabilitation unless government, industry step up ABC TV  Landline 

By the National Reporting Team’s Lisa Main and Dominique Schwartz , 19 Sep 15 

An environmental scientist who works with the mining industry has broken ranks to warn that Australian taxpayers will be left with a bill running into tens of billions of dollars unless government and industry start taking mine rehabilitation seriously.

Key points

  • More than 50,000 abandoned mines in Australia
  • Scientist says mines must be rehabilitated
  • Report says rehabilitation bonds ‘insufficient’
  • Concerns over Peabody Energy’s plummeting share price prompts rehabilitation bonds questions

Dr Peter Erskine from the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute said although state governments hold financial securities for mine rehabilitation, they are nowhere near enough.

Across Australia there are more than 50,000 abandoned mines — a legacy of the early mining days when resource companies simply walked away when the profits dried up.

To avoid repeating its past, Dr Erskine said Australia must ensure that operating mines are properly and progressively rehabilitated while they are turning a profit.

What is in the rehabilitation kitty? Continue reading

September 21, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, Queensland | Leave a comment

Sunshine Coast solar farm to start building before Christmas

map-Sunshine-CoastSunshine Coast closer to solar farm starting before Christmas, Brisbane Times, August 20, 2015 -Tony Moore The Sunshine Coast will beat a number of south-east Queensland councils to the solar energy punch by beginning to build its own 15-megawatt solar energy farm before Christmas 2015.

It will mean the Sunshine Coast Council will be Australia’s first council to own and use its own solar energy plant.

The Sunshine Coast plans to meet the cost of its own electricity once the plant is at full production, saving the council about $9 million over 30 years, Mayor Mark Jamieson said.

The Sunshine Coast is close to announcing the successful tender for the project………

August 20, 2015 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Australian Renewable Energy Agency helps kick off Queensland’s ‘Virtual solar plant’

text-people-power-solar‘Virtual solar plant’ in home trial in Queensland August 6, 2015 Angela Macdonald-Smith  Californian electricity storage developer Sunverge Energy has forged an alliance with Ergon Energy for a limited commercial rollout of its power systems in Queensland homes, with at least two similar deals with other Australian partners expected to follow later this year.

The partnership with the Queensland utility, which also involves US-listed solar panel provider SunPower, will tap into keen interest in battery storage among households in Australia, partly thanks to the huge popularity of rooftop solar.

The deal announced on Thursday involves installing SunPower solar panels and Sunverge energy storage systems in 33 homes in Toowoomba, Townsville and Cannonvale in a program that will receive $400,000 of funding by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The Sunverge systems include back-up power, a six-kilowatt inverter with 11.6 kilowatt-hours of energy and a sophisticated communications and control capability that allows the utility to control and collectively manage them to increase the efficiency of power supply on its grid. Continue reading

August 7, 2015 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Queensland’s Mt Emerald Wind Farm will go ahead despite Abbott government

wind-Hepburn-community-farmTableland wind farm pushes ahead without Federal support DANIEL BATEMAN THE CAIRNS POST JULY 14, 2015   CONSTRUCTION on a wind farm on the Tableland is still likely to go ahead without funding assistance from the Federal Government.

The developers behind the Mt Emerald Wind Farm are confident they will receive environmental approval from the Department of Environment, with a decision expected before the end of September.

It comes as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has been ordered to focus on new technologies instead of wind farms under a revised mandate drafted by the government.

The $380 million wind farm, to be built at Walkamin, will potentially generate enough electricity to power 75,000 homes. The development is a joint venture between Ratch Australia and local property developer Port Bajool. Ratch owns several wind farms around Australia, including the Windy Hill wind farm near Ravenshoe which has been operating for more than a decade.

Kennedy MP Bob Katter, whose electorate covers Walkamin, said in the right location, wind farms could successfully generate additional incomes for small communities and landholders…..

He said without the CEFC investing in development, Australia would “go backwards”. “If this happens, the only independent development bank in Australia will cease to exist,’’ he said. “No real development will take place. “What the government calls investment is foreign takeovers of Australia assets.

“The only people in Australia who think this is a good thing are this current LNP and the last ALP government.”

July 15, 2015 Posted by | Queensland, wind | Leave a comment

North Queensland’s Collinsville solar energy project going ahead

map-solar-QueenslandCollinsville solar power plant to go ahead thanks to Renewable Energy Target decision says Ratch By Jonathan Hair

The company behind a proposed solar power project in north Queensland says it hopes to start construction next year. Ratch Australia is planning to build a $100 million solar plant in Collinsville. It will create up to 80 jobs in the construction phase and two to three once operational.

Ratch general manager of business management, Anil Nangia, said the recent Federal Government deadlock on the Renewable Energy Target put the project on hold. However, he said the recent agreement on a new target meant the project would go ahead.

“The other good thing about renewable energy is it produces jobs and investment in regional Australia,” he said.”The key aspect of this resolution is it was bipartisan support, with no additional reviews until 2020. “We believe there’s real certainty in this target and it will stay in place and we think it will be there for the long run, if not increased.”

He said it was disheartening when politicians expressed a lack of faith in renewables. It’s terrible when they talk like that, renewables are the way of the future,” he said. “They basically are going to produce the low cost power in the long-term and they produce power with no emissions, no side effects, it’s really sad when they talk … down the potential of renewable energy in Australia.”

July 11, 2015 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Aboriginal landowners reject coal giant Adani

Adani shown the door by traditional owners, SMH July 4, 201 Business columnist The Wangan and Jagalingou people gathered two weeks ago at a convention centre in Carseldine north of Brisbane.

They were there to vote on a proposal to make sure those responsible for their native title claim were truly representative of the Wangan and Jagalingou people. These are the traditional owners of the land in the Galilee Basin, precisely where Indian company Adani aims to build Australia’s biggest coal mine, the controversial $16 billion Carmichael project.

Twice in three years, the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) had rejected Adani’s advances to sign a land deal for the mine, and twice Adani had dragged them off to the Native Title Tribunal and sought approval for the state to override their opposition to the mine.

It was just after 9am on Saturday, June 20, when two charter buses turned up at the Tavernetta Function Centre in Carseldine. Adani had bussed in 150 people in a sly bid to force consideration of a new memorandum of understanding they claimed to have with W&J, despite the previous ‘no vote’ from W&J. It was an Adani ambush, and it must have cost a fortune: three days of food, accommodation and transport for 150 people.

“We saw the buses turn up and we were wondering what was going on,” says traditional owner and W&J lead spokesman Adrian Burragubba.

“They tried to organise their own meeting after ours in order to get the people to agree to their MoU – a kind of tricked ILUA [Indigenous Land Use Agreement] when they knew they didn’t have one. Right now we’re in the Federal Court precisely because we refused an ILUA and they have tried to override us.”

But Adani’s cunning stunt backfired. They hadn’t counted on their 150 voters changing their minds after impassioned speeches from the likes of Burragubba. W&J tribal elders are deeply concerned about the effect of the mine on their cultural heritage and the risks it poses to water and wildlife.

By the end of the day, Adani’s reps had been asked to leave the meeting. Of the W&J’s 12 “new applicants”, or claim representatives, at least seven were against Adani, despite all the money flying about to skew the vote, and three were in favour. The views of the other two appear in the balance.

Burragubba says Adani has been engaging in tactical skulduggery for years, excluding him from meetings as he represented families which were not in favour of Carmichael.

“They claimed I was disruptive,” he told Fairfax Media.

“But they need all applicants in a meeting to do a deal. So there cannot possibly be a legally binding agreement.

“Adani has been conniving with these other two people [other Indigenous applicants] to try to get an agreement and undermine the Native Title process and our right to free prior informed consent.”

Before the showdown at the Carseldine convention centre, Adani had co-opted two of the W&J applicants, also directors of the trustee for the W&J’s Cato Galilee Trust……….

July 3, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Queensland | Leave a comment

Bundaberg – Queensland’s solar capital.

map-solar-QueenslandSolar power: Queensland city Bundaberg has more solar energy systems installed than any other place DARYL PASSMORE THE SUNDAY MAIL (QLD) JUNE 07, 2015 

Bundaberg now has a new claim to fame — as Queensland’s solar capital. The subtropical city has more rooftop photovoltaic solar energy systems installed than any other city or town in the state.

Data from the Clean Energy Regulator reveals that 9400 houses with the postcode 4670 — which includes Bundaberg and Bargara — now have solar systems with a combined output capacity of more than 28 megawatts. “There’s huge demand,’’ Bundaberg Solar managing director Ashley Clark said.

More than 330 days of sunshine a year makes the central Queensland city a perfect place for solar power. “I would put it down to the fact that this is an area with a lot more retirees who are a bit more cautious about where their money goes,’’ Mr Clark said.

It is a trait Bundaberg shares with Hervey Bay and Caloundra, which fill the second and third spots on the list. Mr Clark said demand was now so strong that residents were having trouble getting approval from Ergon to connect to the electricity network….

      The regional feed-in tariff is now 6.5¢ , while householders in the Energex area have to negotiate a rate with power companies. The Palaszczuk Government says a new Queensland Productivity Commission will set a fair feed-in rate……

Australian Greens Senator for Queensland Larissa Waters said the state’s residents were collectively saving $214 million on electricity bills a year by embracing solar.

Queensland leads the country with 433,770 of the 1,393,526 solar installations nationwide. A quarter of houses in the state now have rooftop solar panels. Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey says the state has a target of one million homes having rooftop solar panels by 2020.

June 8, 2015 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Queensland’s Millmerran solar farm to go ahead – biggest in Australia?

map-solar-QueenslandMillmerran solar farm plans move ahead despite disappointment over lower Renewable Energy Target By Fidelis Rego, 4 June 15  A solar company says it is disappointing the Federal Government wants to reduce the Renewable Energy Target (RET) but it is still forging ahead with plans for a solar farm on the Darling Downs in southern Queensland.

The Government and Opposition have agreed to reduce the amount of power produced from renewable energy sources to 33,000 gigawatt hours by 2020.

Angus Gemmel from Solar Choice said it had not jeopardised its plans to build what could be the country’s biggest solar farm at Millmerran.

He said construction was expected to begin later next year.

“It’ll certainly have an impact, it is sad to see Australia is the first country to go backwards on a renewable energy target rather than forwards, so I guess it’s with a mixture of disappointment but also relief that we can finally get some first major stages underway,” he said.

“We’re still very confident that even in the medium to longer term this project will be built.

“We’re at an excellent site with optimal conditions for large-scale solar farming long-term and once our first stage is in the ground that’s going to make it so much easier and cost-effective to make stages two and three and subsequent away as well.”

June 6, 2015 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Senator moves to punish Greenpeace for its international Great Barrier Reef campaign

censorshipTHE campaign over the Great Barrier Reef has erupted into all-out war between the Federal Government and Greenpeace,

Coalition Senator Matt Canavan yesterday moved for punitive action to be taken against Greenpeace over its Reef campaign in which it sought to have the World Heritage area listed by UNESCO as “in danger”.

Senator Canavan has written to Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, urging him to investigate whether Greenpeace’s registration as a tax-deductible organisation can be withdrawn.

May 31, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

50% renewable energy by 2030 – Queensland government pledge

map-solar-QueenslandQueensland government pledges to reach 50% renewable energy by 2030 Australian states are finally taking action, Science Alert  MYLES GOUGH 15 MAY 2015 Queensland’s newly elected Labor government plans to generate 50 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable energy by 2030, and wants one million homes to have rooftop solar systems within five years.

The 50 percent renewable energy target was outlined in the party’s pre-election policy, and the new energy minister recently confirmed that the government is determined to make it happen, and will establish a productivity commission to come up with the right policy pathway to get them there. The government also has a plan to see the number of households with rooftop solar more than double by 2020, growing from 400,000 to one million.

“Renewable energy has long since stopped being a fringe issue, now is the time for Queensland to make this happen,” said energy minister Mark Bailey, before a speech at the Australian Solar Conference in Melbourne. As Giles Parkinson points out for RenewEconomy, there was some speculation that the ambitious target represented “the aspirations of a party that expected to remain in Opposition.”……..

the political tide has turned in Queensland, and with this commitment, all three Labor states – including Victoria and South Australia – are planning ambitious renewable energy targets. South Australia, which is already at 40 percent renewables, wants to make the jump to 50 percent by 2025. And Victoria is looking to sidestep recent legislation, which prevents it from having a state-based scheme, to try and install a similar target.

The federal government, by comparison, seems to be going in the wrong direction. It’s looking to cut the national target for large-scale renewables from a planned 41,000 GWh by 2020, to 33,000GWh. This has already caused the renewable energy industry a lot of grief, as investment in large-scale projects has virtually stalled over the uncertainty……

Still,several large-scale solar plants have been proposed in the state, along with a large wind farm in the north near Mount Emerald, Parkinson reports……

May 16, 2015 Posted by | energy, Queensland | Leave a comment

Queensland’s Newman government gutted the renewable energy industry

Newman-destroys-renewablesCampbell Newman’s LNP government ‘gutted’ renewable energy industry RENEWABLE energy jobs in Queensland fell by over a third under the Liberal National Party government, Energy Minister Mark Bailey says., Courier Mail, 15 Apr 15 

Mr Bailey said new Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed a third of jobs in the sector vanished under the previous state government.

He said actions such as the former government’s cuts to the renewable energy target had caused the loss of 1300 jobs.

“No wonder jobs were vanishing under the LNP when they were removing any incentive for businesses to look at industries of the future like renewables,” Mr Bailey said………

Mr Bailey said the current Labor Government’s commitment to the solar sector, a renewable energy target and a renewable energy auction would grow jobs for the sector.

But the deputy opposition leader said he was yet to see any detailed government plan to create jobs.

April 15, 2015 Posted by | energy, Queensland | Leave a comment

Big investment banks walk away from Queensland’s Galilee Basin coal projects

thumbs-downBig Banks Closing The Vault On Big Coal, Adding To Adani’s Woes, New Matilda, By Thom Mitchell 11 Apr 15 Plans to build one of the world’s largest coal mines in Queensland have hit yet another roadblock, with international investment banks refusing to back the project. Thom Mitchell reports.

Big investment banks continue to walk away from the massive new coal field proposed for the Galilee Basin in Queensland, with three French Banks – Société Générale, Crédit Agricole and BNP Paribas – yesterday joining nine others in not banking on the project’s success.

It is “due to the number and magnitude of issues linked to the planned coal development projects in the Galilee Basin,” that Credit Agricole SA, one of the three French banks, advised company Market Forces it “does not intend to finance these projects or their associated facilities”. Continue reading

April 11, 2015 Posted by | business, Queensland | Leave a comment

Griffith University’s promising battery energy storage system


According to the research from Griffith’s School of Engineering and published in the journal Applied Energy, a forecast-based, three-phase battery energy storage scheduling and operation system provides benefits such as reduced peak demand, more efficient load balancing and better management of supply from solar photovoltaics (PV).

Researcher Mr Chris Bennett, working under the supervision of Associate Professor Rodney Stewart and Professor Jun Wei Lu, has developed and applied an intelligent scheduling system to a South-East Queensland-based LV distribution network servicing 128 residential customers.

“The low voltage network is a typical suburb of a few hundred homes where there is a single area transformer and recently there has been a substantial increase in the number of homes with installed residential solar PV in these settings,” says Mr Bennett.

“Daily peak demand in residential networks typically occurs in the evenings in summer and both late morning and evening in winter. But because solar PV generation is dependent on incoming solar radiation, peak generation occurs during the middle of the day, typically when demand in the residential distribution network is low.”

“This means there is an incongruity between when energy is generated and when it is required, which can lead to power supply and quality issues.

“However, with a battery energy storage (BES) system comprising Lithium Ion battery banks coupled with smart power control systems, such as STATCOMS, and featuring embedded intelligent forecasting software, we can better manage the LV network.”……..


April 4, 2015 Posted by | efficiency, Queensland, solar | 1 Comment

Unprecedented Aboriginal stand to stop $16bn Carmichael coalmine, Australia’s largest

Queensland lawyer Stephen Keim, who is not acting in the case, said the complete rejection of the mine was the first of its kind and sets up a “significant event in the history of native title”.

“This is the first case with such a strong impasse, where the native title party has said ‘well we don’t want to negotiate compensation, we don’t want the action to go ahead,’” he said. “The native title act doesn’t give the right of veto, you’ve just got to keep working until you get an agreement.

“This situation does allow the arbitration process to say no, so perhaps for the first time we’ll see that happen. The impression has been that the arbiter has always seen mining as very important, but maybe this is the one.

highly-recommendedAboriginal group fights to stop $16bn Carmichael coalmine, Australia’s largest  Indian firm Adani has appealed to the native title tribunal to bypass the traditional owners’ rejection of the Queensland mine. Guardian, , 26 Mar 15 An Aboriginal group in central Queensland is attempting to prevent Australia’s largest mine from being established on its ancestral land, in what is shaping up to be an unprecedented test of the country’s native title laws.

Representatives for the Wangan and Jagalingou people have formally rejected an Indigenous land use agreement that would see Indian mining firm Adani develop its huge $16bn Carmichael mine in the coal-rich Galilee basin region.

However, Adani has turned to the national native title tribunal to override this objection, which would allow the state government to issue a lease for the mine.

Wangan and Jagalingou elder Adrian Burragubba has written to the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, to uphold what he sees as the clan’s native title rights, warning that the mine would “tear the heart out of our country”. Continue reading

March 28, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Queensland | Leave a comment


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