Australian news, and some related international items

Transcript of Nuclear Royal Commission’s second meeting at Cobber Pedy

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINJon Bok representing the Royal Commission. Small attendance (5 people) 

This is not a perfect transcript, but is largely accurate. Where you see 1. that means a question from the attendees.

Bok: I’m here to help with providing information for the community, and particularly the Aboriginal community, as the Commissioner looks at risks and opportunities for expanding the nuclear industry in South Australia.

  1. Is there some reason why we are being targeted? We’ve had two Royal Commission community forums, and Roxby Downs hasn’t had one.

Bok:  I’m out an about in the region. I’m going back to Port Augusta in the coming weeks.

  1. You’re not looking at the underground tunnels, are you? – I don’t mean you personally; I mean the government in general.

Bok:  It’s a much broader process. It is my opportunity to meet people who are interested.

  1. AREVA is sending back a shipload of nuclear waste to Australia. What are we going to do with that, when it gets here?

Bok: I simply don’t know. The Commissioner is looking broadly at South Australia.  One question is – should we take nuclear waste in, to South Australia?

I’m not aware if Australia has the obligation to take that waste back. The question is:  is it viable to take back nuclear waste?. The Terms of Reference ask about the feasibility and viability of the four questions . Continue reading

June 26, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

Kevin Scarce, Nuclear Royal Commission chief, shows up in his true pro nuclear colours

Scarce,--Kevin-glowDennis Matthews, 26 June 15 It does no credit to the Advertiser, or Kevin Scarce, or the SA inquiry into the nuclear industry when Scarce cites misleading statements like no one was killed by exposure to ionising radiation from the Fukushima disaster (The Advertiser, 25/6/15).

This sort of ignorance was promulgated generations ago by the asbestos industry. Gullible, greedy politicians and newspaper editors became part of the problem and it took many decades before action was taken.


Sure, nobody was killed outright by asbestos, and lots of jobs and wealth were produced, but do we really want to lumber the next generation of South Australians with another expensive medical disaster?

It’s time that editors, politicians, and ex-Governors learnt from the past. Learnt that some medical disasters don’t happen overnight and can take decades to be diagnosed.

As with asbestos, the nuclear industry and its supporters will undoubtedly be condemned by history. It’s a pity that the Scarce’s and Koutsantonis’s of this world won’t be around to try to defend themselves.

June 25, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

Nuclear Royal Commission chief Scarce says “Don’t worry about Fukushima”

Fukushima scarcely a worry Adelaide Advertiser, Adelaide,  Paul Starick 25 Jun 2015  FORMER governor Kevin Scarce says the Fukushima disaster doesn’t pose a major barrier to the nuclear industry’s development in SA.

The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commissioner, who toured the Fukushima exclusion zone during a global study tour, says the 2011 nuclear power plant meltdown was a result of poor design and management. In an exclusive interview with The Advertiser, Rear Admiral (retired) Scarce said the six-country study tour had demonstrated SA was technically capable, with help, of developing a nuclear industry, from the enrichment to spent fuel rod reprocessing, if this was financially viable.


……. Rear Admiral Scarce said the disaster had prompted safety rethinks at other sites the three-person delegation visited during the Asian and European tour, completed this month… doesn’t indicate to me that we shouldn’t be looking at this technology. “It means we’ve got to be very careful. We’ve got to be aware of what the consequences are.

“As devastating as Fukushima was, the subsequent improvements made since then enable us to go and look at this technology for our future.”….


June 25, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

South Australia’s pro nuclear lobby upset about the State’s embrace of rooftop solar

Agua-Caliente-solar-projectDennis Matthews, 26 June 15, There is little doubt that South Australians have embraced rooftop solar electricity, with gusto. This is undoubtedly a worry to the pro-nuclear lobby ( a long time opponent of renewable energy) and to companies who stand to lose income from such independent electricity producers.

Thanks to the breakup and privatisation of the former publicly owned ETSA, what one part of the electricity industry gives, another part can just as easily take away. Or as the monopoly electricity network company SAPN has so coyly put (The Advertiser, 25/6/15) “it was ultimately up to the energy retailers as to how much of the reduction in SAPN charges were passed on to householders.”

Given that SAPN and the retailers do not compete for the electricity dollar, what’s the bet that prices will continue to go up, maybe not this year but almost certainly by the end of 2016, and that each segment of the privatised electricity industry will blame the other.

June 25, 2015 Posted by | business, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Australia’s Renewable Energy Future

map solar south-australiaRenewable energy future for South Australia MARK DIESENDORF | 25 JUNE 2015 The closure of Alinta Energy’s Leigh Creek Coal mine and two Port Augusta power stations will cost 438 jobs in South Australia, but over several years this could be transformed into an opportunity to create many new jobs in renewable energy.

South Australia’s wind and solar resources are huge, and SA is already the leading Australian state in non-hydro renewable energy utilisation, with about 40 per cent of its annual electricity consumption coming from wind and sunshine.

State electricity supply has operated reliably and stably for hours when the contribution of variable renewable energy reached two-thirds of demand, and wind power and gas coped admirably recently when the coal-fired Northern power station went unexpectedly offline.

The SA electricity system could be operated entirely on scaled-up, commercially available, renewable energy sources. This is the conclusion of the studies underlying my report to the Conservation Council of South Australia, now available online.

Our hourly simulation modelling at University of New South Wales shows the South Australian system could be supplied by a combination of variable renewable energy sources (wind and solar PV), and flexible, dispatchable sources (biofuelled gas turbines and concentrated solar thermal power with thermal storage).

It is the combination of variable and flexible sources that is the basis for reliability. Continue reading

June 25, 2015 Posted by | energy, South Australia | Leave a comment

Dr Timothy Stone should not be a Royal Commissioner: has financial interest in a nuclear company

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINDr Timothy Stone should be in the same position as any other business or ordinary individual: free to put his opinions to the Royal Commission through the submissions process, but not be a member of the Commission in any form.

Dr Timothy Stone Visiting Professor, International Energy Policy Institute, University College London Adelaide

Current potentially relevant activities:

  • Non-executive Director, Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd (UK)
  • Visiting Professorship, International Energy Policy Institute, University College London (Adelaide)
  • Chairman, Advisory Board of DBD Ltd (UK, nuclear engineering)

June 24, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

Barry Brook should be removed from the South Australian Nuclear Royal Commission

Brook,-Barry-glowsSo that’s the game plan − making absurd claims about Generation IV reactors, pretending that they are near-term prospects, and being less than “abundantly clear” about the truth. Time for these people to be held to account and for Brook to be removed from the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s ‘expert panel’.

Royal Commissioner Kevin Scarce was forewarned about Brook’s track record of peddling scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINmisinformation but still chose to include Brook in his ‘expert panel’.

On the troubled worldwide history with fast reactors, see the report by the International Panel on Fissile Materials.

Barry Brook being less than “abundantly clear” about Generation IV reactors  Jim Green, June 2015, An 18 June 2015 guest post on Barry Brook’s website claims that Generation IV fast neutron reactors will be mass produced and “dominating the market by about 2030.”

Compare that Big Fat Lie with the following:

  1. The Generation IV International Forum states: “Depending on their respective degree of technical maturity, the FIRST Generation IV systems are expected to be deployed commercially around 2030-2040.” (emphasis added)
  2. The International Atomic Energy Agency states: “Experts expect that the FIRST Generation IV fast reactor DEMONSTRATION PLANTS AND PROTOTYPES will be in operation by 2030 to 2040.” (emphases added)
  3. A 2015 report by the French government’s Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) states: “There is still much R&D to be done to develop the Generation IV nuclear reactors, as well as for the fuel cycle and the associated waste management which depends on the system chosen.”

IRSN is also sceptical about safety claims: “At the present stage of development, IRSN does not notice evidence that leads to conclude that the systems under review are likely to offer a significantly improved level of safety compared with Generation III reactors, except perhaps for the VHTR …” Moreover the VHTR (very high temperature reactor) system could bring about significant safety improvements “but only by significantly limiting unit power”.

  1. The World Nuclear Association noted in 2009 that “progress is seen as slow, and several potential [Generation IV] designs have been undergoing evaluation on paper for many years.”

Continue reading

June 21, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Nuclear Royal Commission, secrets and lies, South Australia | Leave a comment

Rooftop solar taking over in South Australia – the test State for Renewable Energy

Parkinson-Report-Rooftop solar to cut total grid demand to zero in South Australia, text-relevantREneweconomy  By  on 18 June 2015 See also Rooftop solar to overtake coal capacity before 2030

The Australian Energy Market Operator predicts that the growing uptake of rooftop solar by homes and businesses will reduce grid demand in South Australia on certain occasions to zero by 2023, highlighting the rapid change in the nature of energy markets, and the growing shift from centralised baseload generation.

The predictions from AEMO came in its 2015 National Electricity Forecasting Report, released on map solar south-australiaThursday. It says that the near 575MW of rooftop solar is already accounting for one-third of total grid demand on certain days in the state.

But within a decade this total could treble, pushing minimum demand required from the grid in the whole state to below 0MW (zero) on some occasions in 2023-24, and for several hours at a time by 2024/25 – when AEMO expects 1864MW of rooftop solar.

It says zero demand from the grid could last from 11.30am to 2.30pm local time on some days………..

South Australia will be a test case for Australia, and indeed the world, because of its high level of “variable renewables” such as wind and solar in its energy mix.  Continue reading

June 20, 2015 Posted by | solar, South Australia | 1 Comment

South Australia’s Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) ‘determined’ not to fold

Environmental Defenders Office NT to stay open; other jurisdictions enter ‘caretaker’ mode following funding cuts  105.7 ABC Darwin  By Emilia Terzon “…. It’s a difficult time but we’re determined to stay open. We will not fold. We will stay open. Melissa Ballantyne, principal lawyer at EDO South Australia

In South Australia, the EDO office is preparing to enter caretaker mode on June 30. Melissa Ballantyne, the principal lawyer at EDO SA for nearly 10 years, said the office had no choice but to “downsize services”, but is still determined to find a benefactor or philanthropic funding.

“It’s a difficult time but we’re determined to stay open. We will not fold. We will stay open,” Ms Ballantyne said.

Caretaker mode will see the EDO SA office managed by an employed office coordinator one day a week, and will provide legal advice from volunteer lawyers. “It means we’ll be offering a very basic service in terms of lawyers providing advice,” Ms Ballantyne said.

Ms Ballantyne said EDO SA was the only environmental legal centre of its kind in the state, providing advice on everything from mining on Aboriginal land through to the controversial Olympic Dam expansion in recent years. “Since the funding cuts, it’s been difficult to do much casework,” Ms Ballantyne said.

June 20, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Minerals Council of Australia seem to be ignorant of basic economics

dollar 2Dennis Matthews, 19 June 15 Support by the Minerals Council of Australia for fossil fuels comes as no surprise, nor does their apparent ignorance of the difference between the Conservation Council of SA (CCSA) and the (Australian) Conservation Foundation (ACF) but it is of concern that they seem to be ignorant of basic economics (The Advertiser, 18/6/15).

Rooftop solar electricity has gone from strength to strength in a classic case of increased demand leading to decreased price. All solar electricity needed was the ability to compete with entrenched fossil fuels. This was done through the Renewable Energy Target , which was an acknowledgement that fossil fuels had pollution derived hidden costs.

The worldwide acknowledgement of these hidden costs is now putting fossil fueled power stations on the endangered list, especially in countries that have “developed” by ignoring the cost of pollution.

Similar advances can be made by addressing other aspects of electricity demand, such as solar hot water or more energy efficient buildings.

June 19, 2015 Posted by | business, South Australia | Leave a comment

Port Augusta the right place for concentrated solar power

concentrated-photovoltaicsIngo Weber: After Alinta, here’s a new future for Port Augusta, Adelaide Advertiser, 15 June 15  IN Australia air pollution kills more than double the number of people who die in road deaths. We need to change our dependency on coal, and Port Augusta is the place to start.

There are at least two large international companies currently building concentrated solar thermal power plants (in Spain and the US) keen to build CST right here and now in Port Augusta. We just need political vision.(subscribers only)

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

Adelaide’s Advertiser continues to spout pro nuclear advertising articles

news-nukeDennis Matthews, It is indeed pathetic that the pro-nuke lobby keeps repeating the same old one-sided arguments to support their out-dated, dangerous and dirty industry (The Advertiser, 15/6/15). This should be recognised for what it is, the standard tool of the propaganda merchant.

It is equally pathetic that others keep repeating the neurotic claim that opposition to the nuclear industry is some sort of conspiracy to prevent “rational debate” (The Advertiser, 15/6/15), a claim that flies in the face of countless inquiries run by manifestly pro-nuclear governments.

But the most pathetic thing of all is that a reputable newspaper keeps publishing these sorts of unproductive and boring contributions to what is claimed to be an important issue.

Let’s have not only a rational debate but also a debate that encourages the flow of new information not repetitive, mindless, propaganda that appears to be designed to brainwash rather than inform.


June 15, 2015 Posted by | media, South Australia | Leave a comment

South Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission unfortunately linked with failed nuclear company AREVA

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAIN

I would like to think that Kevin Scarce’s Royal Commission was fully investigating nuclear industry issues — not just the geewhiz technology that they would be shown in France by AREVA, which is all too cosy with South Australian pro-nuclear politicians and businessmen.

SA’s Nuclear Royal Commission: All too cosy with failed French nuclear giant AREVA? Just how independent is the SA nuclear review and are opponents being side-lined? Independent Australia 12 June 15, Noel Wauchope looks at just who the Royal Commission met on its recent visit to France.

AT ITS South Australian community forums, South Australia’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission head, Kevin Scarce, made a point of the Commission’s independence.  He stressed that the Commission would be meeting overseas proponents, and also opponents, of the nuclear industry.

AREVA-Medusa1On the Commission’s website, they list the destinations for the Commission’s overseas tour, now about to wind up. I was struck by the amount of time allocated to conferring with the French nuclear energy corporation, AREVA. I had to wonder — in their discussions with AREVA, it would hardly be necessary to talk with nuclear opponents. I wondered how much AREVA would be going to come clean about what really is going on, in France’s nuclear industry.

The AREVA connection with Australia is important. AREVA has an office in Wayville, in Adelaide, and has hosted South Australian parliamentary tours of their nuclear industrial facilities in France. AREVA acquired the Northern Territory Koongarra uranium deposit in 1995, but subsequently, in a David and Goliath battle with Aboriginal traditional owner, Jeffrey Lee, lost this opportunity, as Lee donated his land to Kakadu National Park.

AREVA is in a joint venture with Toro Energy, in uranium exploration in the Northern Territory. The corporation had been exploring for uranium in Queensland’s  Karumba and Carpentaria basins since about 2012, but recently pulled out altogether. AREVA will probably be making a submission to the Royal Commission. However, the Commission, in publishing submissions, will not be publishing ones that are deemed “commercially sensitive“.

Without doubt, AREVA has a keen commercial interest in Australia. France’s nuclear industry is somewhat embattled, as its fleet of reactors near the end of their shelf life, and the government is pledged to cut down on nuclear power, and develop renewables. The French nuclear industry (like USA’s) depends for its survival, on selling nuclear technology overseas.

But what of the fortunes of AREVA itself?  As the Royal Commission seeks to learn about the commercial viability of the nuclear industry, AREVA is hardly the most reliable authority on that question.

For a start, AREVA now barely exists. Continue reading

June 13, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment

South Australia’s great opportunity to transition from coal to 100% renewable energy

Bye bye baseload Our calculations show that SA does not need any baseload power stations, such as coal or nuclear. Indeed, the lack of operational flexibility of coal and nuclear makes them poor partners for high penetrations of variable renewable energy. The SA system has already operated reliably for long periods without its coal-fired stations, as last weekend’s incident demonstrated. Moving fully to renewable energy will deliver environmental, social and economic benefits. The transition would reduce SA’s greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and associated respiratory diseases. It would cap electricity prices.

SA could create a wide range of new jobs in manufacturing, installation, grid connection, technical support and sales, which could help to compensate for the forthcoming job losses in its coal industry.

As for the nuclear question, the multinational financial analyst Lazard estimates the average costs of subsidized new nuclear energy in the United States in 2017 to be 12.4–13.2 US cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), compared with unsubsidized costs of 3.7–8.1 c/kWh for onshore wind, and 7.2–8.6 c/kWh for large-scale solar PV

Diesendorf-MarkCoal closures give South Australia the chance to go 100% renewable June 12, 2015  Mark Diesendorf Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Institute of Environmental Studies, UNSW at UNSW Australia South Australia is facing the closure of its Northern and Playford B power stations and Leigh Creek coal mine, after Alinta Energy yesterday announced plans to shut them ahead of schedule. It will cost 438 jobs in the coal-mining and coal-fired electricity industries. But this threat to employment could be transformed into an opportunity for creating many new jobs in renewable energy.

The South Australian electricity system could be operated entirely on scaled-up, commercially available, renewable energy sources. This is the conclusion of my forthcoming report (to be published next week) to the Conservation Council of South Australia. Continue reading

June 12, 2015 Posted by | energy, South Australia | 1 Comment

How wind and solar power provided South Australia’s electricity when coal power stopped

 the chief qualities of the energy system of the future will not be baseload, but flexibility. This will likely be delivered by the quick-start gas generators that already exist in the system to back up fossil fuels, but also the grid and household-based storage that will be installed in coming years.

Parkinson-Report-How South Australia coped without any baseload power By  on 9 June 2015 South Australia’s electricity system was put the test over the long weekend when the state’s only baseload power contributor, the brown coal Northern power station near Augusta, suddenly tripped and stopped providing power.

The incident was caused by a fire that caused several injuries, including one serious injury to a worker still in hospital. This is not the first time that South Australia has been without baseload coal power, of course. Northern was mothballed for nearly a year because of the declining economics of the coal generator. The difference with this event is that it came unannounced.

While declines and increases in the output of wind and solar are quite predictable, sudden outages in baseload fossil fuels are not, which is why the energy system needs a large amount of redundancy to support large centralised generation.

So how did the South Australian energy market cope? Quite well, as it turns out. There was a lot of wind blowing at the time, so it was a while before the Torrens gas plant was needed. Most of the gas came from the Osborne plant.

There was so much wind – more than 1GW through most of the day – that electricity prices dived into negative territory on several occasions during the day, which means that the gas generators were not making any money.

Indeed, for most of the day South Australia had the cheapest wholesale electricity prices in the country. Continue reading

June 12, 2015 Posted by | South Australia, wind | Leave a comment


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