Australian news, and some related international items

Tasmanina farm introduces Indian renewable energy technology

India’s renewable energy technology inspires Tasmanian tomato business ABC Rural By Laurissa Smith, 17 July 15  A tomato farm in Tasmania’s north-west is turning to India’s latest technology in renewable energy to reduce its power bills and improve yields.

The Brandsema’s at Turners Beach plan to install a biomass gasifier to power its greenhouses. The gasification system, built in India, turns agricultural or forest waste into energy and as a by-product, creates CO2 for plants.

Grower Marcus Brandsema recently travelled to India. He met with manufacturers and engineers to watch the biomass plants in action.

“What happens is the organic material goes into a gasifier,” he said. “It’s operating at a reasonably high temperature, around 800 degrees Celsius or thereabouts, in a reduced oxygen atmosphere.

“The organic material doesn’t actually burn, but it oxidises and gives off a gas which is useful to use downstream.

Once the gas is produced we can then use it to fire a boiler to create hot water, which is what we need, especially in Tassie’, to grow tomatoes

Marcus Brandsema, tomato grower

“They clean it and use it in an engine, which can drive a generator, or a pump, or alternatively the gas can be used as fuel source.”

Mr Brandsema is particularly attracted to the system’s ability to generate additional CO2 for the greenhouse to enhance photosynthesis.

“Once the gas is produced we can then use it to fire a boiler to create hot water, which is what we need, especially in Tassie’, to grow tomatoes,” he said.

“But the by-product of that is CO2, which would normally go up the flue as an emission, we could extract from the flue and introduce it into the greenhouse.”……..

July 18, 2015 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Tasmania’s Energy Minister hails wind farms, disagrees with Tony Abbott

WIND-FARMState Energy Minister Matthew Groom hails wind farms in departure from PM HELEN KEMPTON MERCURY JULY 03, 2015 UNLIKE the Prime Minister, Tasmania’s Energy Minister Matthew Groom is a fan of wind farms and says more infrastructure needs to be built to capitalise on the state’s renewable energy headstart.

“I support the renewable energy broadly,” Mr Groom said after speaking at yesterday’s Tasmanian Minerals and Energy conference at Queenstown. “We have extraordinary resources in Tasmania and some of the best sites on the face of the planet on which to build them

Mr Groom said he was pleased the passing of Australia Renewable Energy Target legislation had given certainty to the wind industry and he looked forward to seeing progress on a new wind farm at Granville Harbour, near Zeehan.

Mr Groom said building a second interconnector cable across Bass Strait to export power was a key part of making the most of our renewable energy advantages. He said that cable needed to be viewed as a national infrastructure and, unlike Basslink 1, should be funded as such.“If a second cable is justified by a business case, it should be seen as a regulated asset funded through mainland users and perhaps a federal contribution,” Mr Groom said.

He said Japanese investors who recently visited Tasmania were gobsmacked by the state’s energy mix, and we needed to harness that competitive advantage………

July 2, 2015 Posted by | Tasmania, wind | Leave a comment

Wind farm set to be developed on Tasmanian cattle farm

Granville wind farm project awaits Senate vote, 23 June 15 HELEN KEMPTON Mercury THE 1900 cattle grazing on Tasmania’s most isolated farm will soon share the land with up to 33 wind turbines if Australia’s Renewable Energy Target is passed in the Senate tomorrow.

West Coast Wind plans to start construction of its wind farm on Royce Smith’s 1255ha beef property at Granville Harbour, outside Zeehan, at the end of the year. Already, a wind monitoring station is recording bankable energy data as investors in the $200 million project are secured. At 80m tall, the wind monitoring tower is as high as the turbines will be.

June 24, 2015 Posted by | Tasmania, wind | Leave a comment

Tasmania keen to fast track electric vehicles – and become 100% renewable energy powered

Parkinson-Report-Tasmania looks to EVs as next step to 100% renewable energy, REneweconomy, By  on 19 May 2015 Tasmania looks to fast-track take-up of electric vehicles to boost its credentials as a green manufacturing hub to replace old industries, and export clean energy to the mainland. Tasmania could end up totally renewable – a Green Apple Isle – in both electricity and transport. Tasmania is looking closely at electric vehicles to take the next step towards 100 per cent renewable energy – both electricity and transport – and boost the state’s strategic advantage as a clean energy manufacturing hub. Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Flinders Island to be Asia Pacific benchmark for renewable energy-powered remote communities

renewable-energy-pictureRenewable energy and potable water for Flinders Island community
ABC Rural By Rosemary Grant 22 Apr 15 The Bass Strait community of Flinders Island says two major projects to deliver clean water and electricity represent the future for remote settlements.
Over the 18 months, $25 million will be spent; half on a renewable energy scheme, and the rest on potable water for the main towns of Whitemark and Lady Barron.

Flinders Mayor Carol Cox said replacing old fossil fuel power stations with a new lower carbon energy source was a global aim.

Mrs Cox said it was the third time the council had tried to get a reliable renewable electricity system, and the funding commitment would make Flinders Island the benchmark for remote communities………

Mrs Cox said existing wind power would be integrated with a new wind energy generator, solar energy panels at the airport and a new solar energy field around the power station.

Hydro Tasmania will design and install the new $12.9 million multi-source renewable electricity system on Flinders Island.

Project manager Simon Gamble said it was an exciting prototype that would be the benchmark for remote communities in the Pacific and Asia. Continue reading

April 23, 2015 Posted by | solar, Tasmania, wind | 1 Comment

SA Royal Commission Draft Terms of Reference Ignore Health Impacts of Nuclear Industry

11 Mar 15 The Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) and the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) are deeply concerned that the Royal Commission’s draft terms of reference are too narrow and do not protect the health of South Australians.

“The draft terms of reference do not address health impacts at all, for either industry workers or the general public,” said Dr Margaret Beavis, President of MAPW. “Nuclear reactors are associated with increased rates of childhood leukemia in surrounding areas, and there are already legacy health issues in South Australia resulting from previous nuclear activities and uranium mining,” she added.

“In addition, the large government subsidies reactors require may reduce funds available for public institutions like hospitals and health services in South Australia,” Dr Beavis added.

The MAPW and PHAA are calling for a comprehensive examination of the entire nuclear industry, including uranium mining and security risks.

“There are health threats associated with every step of the nuclear fuel cycle and ample scientific evidence regarding the hazards of low dose radiation exposure,” said PHAA spokesperson Dr Michael Fonda. “There needs to be a genuine and scientific assessment of the health impacts of the nuclear industry both from the past and for the future,” he added.

This Royal Commission provides an opportunity to explore energy solutions for South Australia. “Uranium is a non-renewable resource and Australia needs a 21st century Energy Policy that hastens the transition of our economy toward one powered by renewables, not one that ties us down in outmoded and potentially dangerous technologies,” Dr Beavis said.

Both organisations have offered to assist the Royal Commission in its inquiry.

Continue reading

March 11, 2015 Posted by | politics, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) helps Flinders hybrid system get going

logo-ARENAHybrid system to take off-grid Flinders 60% renewable  JOHN CONROY  The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) today announced $5.5 million support for Hydro Tasmania to develop an “innovative” off-grid hybrid project on Flinders Island.

The $12.9m project will use a combination of solar, wind, diesel, storage and enabling technologies, together with a “sophisticated” control system, to displace more than 60% of the island’s diesel generated energy, ARENA said.

The project is scheduled for completion in November 2016.

“The Flinders Island project will build on the success of a similar project Hydro Tasmania developed on King Island with ARENA support, which is delivering 100% renewable energy to the island when conditions allow,” ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said.

“One of the exciting aspects of the Flinders Island project is the development of a portable hybrid energy solution with the potential to further drive down costs and move a step closer to delivering a commercially competitive product.

“Hydro Tasmania will trial a series of modular units suitable to house and transport components for off-grid hybrid renewable energy projects.

“This low-cost, scalable approach has the potential to be a real game changer in remote areas – reducing the amount of construction and engineering work needed to be carried out on site would significantly reduce costs, risks and construction time.”

Mr Frischknecht said Hydro Tasmania’s hybrid project demonstrates how a flexible and integrated approach can provide improved penetration of renewable energy.

“Technologies like storage and dynamic resistors smooth out the power generated from solar and wind, while the automated control systems ensure generation and enabling equipment are coordinated and perform when required,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“Australia is a large country with many off-grid communities and industries facing similar energy supply challenges, whether they are on islands or in remote locations on the mainland.

“ARENA is committed to working with Hydro Tasmania to share the learning and expertise from the King Island and Flinders Island projects.

“This knowledge sharing will ensure we are best placed to advance competitive, reliable renewable energy options for off-grid Australia and help reduce its reliance on trucked and shipped in diesel.”

March 4, 2015 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Tasmanian government dumps its proposal to stifle free speech

Freedom-of-speechExplainer: Why the Tasmanian Government abandoned defamation law changes, ABC News 5 Feb 15  By Michael Atkin Tasmania was pushing to become the first state in the country to allow companies to sue people for defamation but recently dumped the proposal, breaking an election promise.  Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin admitted there was zero appetite from other states for the move.

It was the second blow to the Government’s plans to crackdown on forest protesters, a push much heralded in last year’s election campaign.

In the Government’s sights were groups like Markets For Change, Bob Brown Foundation and activists like Miranda Gibson who sat in a tree for a record 457 days……….

the move prompted widespread criticism from lawyers, environmentalists, civil libertarians. Even Australian businesswoman Janet Holmes a Court joined the campaign against the move.

Backlash beyond Tasmanian borders

Peter Bartlett, a partner at Minter Ellison Lawyer, defends some of the country’s top media organisations in court. He said breaking away from Australia’s uniform defamation laws was a retrograde step that could have turned Tasmania into the defamation capital of the country.

“We have a uniform defamation act, it took us nearly 30 years to get the states and territories and the Commonwealth to get a like mind … and they were able to agree to uniformity which meant that one of terms [was] corporations were not allowed to sue,” Mr Bartlett said.

“State and territory borders are largely irrelevant to the media so they would need to self censor because of the risk of a corporation suing them in Tasmania.”

Crikey’s business editor Paddy Manning was sued by the big end of town and he was concerned that if Tasmania proceeded it would happen more often. “It’s already quite difficult to write tough [and] investigative stories about big business in Australia,” he said.

“I think it’s undemocratic. It’s an attack on free speech and it’s not the way we do things in this country.

“Misinformation is actually in the eye of the beholder and business does not need another law reform in its favour that’s going to lead to open slather on journalists just because Tasmania wants to shut down its forestry debate.”

February 6, 2015 Posted by | civil liberties, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Tasmanian government moves to restrict citizen’s power to criticise corporations

justiceThe examples of public campaigners being on the butt end of large-scale legal responses are too numerous to mention, but we should not forget: the Bannockburn Yellow Gum Action Group, the Hindmarsh Bridge campaigners, John Sinclair who campaigned to stop mining on Fraser Island, anti-nuclear campaigner Noel Wauchope and even the author of Forest-Friendly Building Timbers, who ran foul of the National Association of Forest Industries, resulting in some retailers withdrawing the book from sale.
To further restrict the ability of public interest campaigners to press their case, as the Tasmanian government proposes, is to make Australia’s free speech landscape deeply depressing. 
civil-liberty-2smCompanies suing critics. That’s the real enemy of free speech  Richard Ackland, Guardian 23 Jan 15 Tasmania wants to break ranks with uniform defamation laws to allow companies to take action against individuals. ….
….It is an article of faith in the Liberal party that the reputations of corporations and their delicate “feelings” be fully protected by the law. The Business Council of Australia was adamant. Hugh Morgan – the council’s president in 2005 – said the very idea that corporations should not be permitted to sue for defamation was an “outrageous attack on the corporate sector … The proposal remains an abomination.”

The Coalition government fought hard to give the captains and cabin boys of industry what they wanted. Ruddock insisted that companies be able to sue their detractors in the courts, but the Labor state governments wanted the prohibition against corporate libel actions to be the rule across the nation. It was one of the sticking points during the negotiations and, in the end, to get agreement Ruddock relented.

There was a weird sort of compromise, whereby only very small corporations, of less than 10 employees, could sue in their own name. This was a crumb tossed off the table so the commonwealth attorney general could save face.

Such has been the case since the uniform Defamation Act came into being in 2006. Now, nine years later, the Hodgman Liberal government in Tasmania is proposing to break ranks, amend its act and let corporations of all stripes off the leash so they can sink their fangs into citizens critical of “job creating” proposals……… Continue reading

January 24, 2015 Posted by | civil liberties, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Great timing? Tasmania’s govt attacking freedom of speech

civil-liberty-2smLabor lashes timing of defamation law change DUNCAN ABEY MERCURY JANUARY 12, 2015 NEW corporate defamation laws proposed by the Tas­manian Government represent a direct attack on freedom of speech and will ­stifle public debate, the Opposition says.

And deputy Labor leader Michelle O’Byrne said the timing could not be worse, in the wake of the deadly attacks on the staff of satirical Paris-based magazine Charlie Hedbo.

“Once again Tasmania is at the front of the national stage for the wrong reasons,” Ms O’Byrne said.

“The State Government wants to bring in legislation around defamation that will mean nobody can ever say any­thing against a corporation.

“Now this doesn’t just apply to the people the Government says it will target, such as forestry protesters, but it will apply to individuals and it will apply to the media.

“The right to free speech has never been more warmly embraced by the world than after what we have seen in Paris, and for nobody to be ever allowed to say anything negative about a corporation just smacks of silencing dissent.”………….

January 12, 2015 Posted by | civil liberties, Tasmania | Leave a comment

How the Renewable Energy Target benefits Tasmania (despite claims by Sen Jacqui Lambie)

Tasmania big net beneficiary from RET, Australia Institute report finds, SMH November 28, 2014 Peter Hannam

Tasmania is a big net beneficiary of the Renewable Energy Target given the dominance of hydro and wind power in the state, according to a report by The Australia Institute. Tasmania is a big net beneficiary of the Renewable Energy Target – contrary to industry complaints – given the dominance of hydro and wind power in the state, according to a report by The Australia Institute.

The report found the state generated about $125 million in renewable energy certificates in 2013 under the federal scheme with costs from consumers of only about $22.5 million.

One target of the report is claims by four big power users in the state that the RET was costing them alone $20 million a year, placing at risk thousands of jobs in the struggling state.

That claim was “bogus”, with partial exemption certificates covering 40-67 per cent of their costs under the scheme usually omitted from the analysis, Matt Grudnoff, a senior economist at the institute and author of the report, said………

The Australia Institute report is also aimed at discouraging newly independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie adding her vote to the RET cut plan.

However, her chief of staff, Rob Messenger, said “trite, little studies” were unlikely to sway the former Palmer United Party senator’s views……..

Senator Lambie’s vote, should it swing to the Coalition, won’t alone be enough to force through a reduction of the RET.

So long as Labor and the Greens remain united in their opposition to the move, they need only Senator Nick Xenophon and the two remaining PUP senators  – Dio Wang and Glenn Lazarus – to give them the 38 votes required to block any change.

November 29, 2014 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | Leave a comment

New design to make wave energy commercially attractive

waveResearchers making waves in bid to harness renewable energy, ABC News 10 Nov 14 By Damian McIntyre A team of researchers in Tasmania is testing equipment designed to capture an endless supply of clean energy generated by waves.

The Australian Maritime College in Launceston and a West Australian company have joined forces to test the commercial viability of the wave energy converter.

The director of Bombora Wave Power, Shawn Ryan, was optimistic the design would eventually lead to a commercial venture.”We think we’ve solved the issues of the predecessors that have gone before us,” he said. “The key criteria we looked at was survivability, so you’ve got to survive those large storm events that have highly energetic sea states and cost of electricity is the dominant consideration.

“It’s seabed mounted so that we can potentially survive those larger storm events that others have had difficulty trying to get through.

“With a number of different design features, we think that we’ve cracked the kernel.” here are several trials underway in Australia but so far there are no large scale operations.

The company believes the market for wave power will be substantial. “There could be up to 500 gigawatts of wave energy installed by 2050,” Mr Ryan said………

November 12, 2014 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Hydro Tasmania soon to release its King Island wind energy feasibility study

wind-energy-globeKing Island’s wind farm fate closes in HELEN KEMPTON MERCURY OCTOBER 20, 2014

THE King Island community should know by early next year if their remote Bass Strait home will also become home to the biggest wind farm in the southern hemisphere.

Hydro Tasmania has almost completed a feasibility study into its $2 billion, 200-turbine proposal and is expected to announce early next year if the project will go ahead.

The decision also hinges on the Federal Government not scrapping the Renewable Energy Target. Hydro Tasmania is one of 16 major renewable energy companies who have argued for the retention of the present RET.

The TasWind project is forecast to pump more than $7 million a year into the island economy and provide an estimated $220 million annual revenue boost to the state’s coffers.

Debate over the pros and cons of the proposal has divided the small community and Hydro Tasmania started its feasibility study after 58 per cent of residents indicated they wanted to move on to the assessment stage.

October 21, 2014 Posted by | Tasmania, wind | Leave a comment

Tasmania has vital need to keep Renewable Energy Target – Bill Shorten

map-tasmania-wind.1Bill Shorten says Renewable Energy Target vital to Tasmania’s north-west  Yahoo News September 17, 2014 Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has called on the Federal Government to support the Renewable Energy Target (RET) during a trip to Tasmania’s west coast……Mr Shorten said the Government needs to retain the RET to ensure the proposed wind farm at Granville Harbour goes ahead.

“It beggars belief that you have got up to 200 jobs just waiting to roll: 33 wind turbines, one of the windiest areas in Australia,” he said.

“The community want them, they don’t share Joe Hockey’s view that somehow wind farms are sick-making.

“They want the jobs, they want the wind farms but what they need is a government in Canberra who understands that renewable energy is not some green plot but part of the sustainable mix going forward.”

Liberal Senator David Bushby gave assurances the Federal Government had not yet decided what to do about the RET……….

 projects such as the Granville Harbour wind farms remain in doubt.

In her meeting with Mr Shorten this morning, West Coast Mayor Robyn Gerrity stressed the importance of the RET to the region.

She told 91.7 ABC Northern Tasmania that while there was not much Mr Shorten could do for the region she wanted him to support the retention of the RET to ensure the Granville wind farm went ahead.

“They could employ within weeks about 30-odd men to start doing the roadworks for it,” she said.

“The problem being, for them to source and get the final tick-off regarding financing, they’re relying on the Renewable Energy Target.”…….

September 18, 2014 Posted by | energy, politics, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Tasmania urging Federal government not to scrap Renewable Energy Target

map-tasmania-wind.1Greens urges Hodgman Government to ‘utterly reject’ RET review recommendations 31 Aug 14,  By Ellen Coulter  Greens leader Christine Milne has urged the Hodgman Government to stand up for renewable energy and “utterly reject” the Warburton report’s recommendations.

The review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET), chaired by Dick Warburton, has recommended the scheme be drastically cut back.

The prospect that the findings will be adopted by the Abbott Government has cast a pall over the renewable energy industry Australia wide.

In Tasmania, Hydro Tasmania has warned any winding back would threaten billions of dollars in investment and doubt prevails over proposals such as the Granville Harbour wind farm on Tasmania’s west coast.

Liberal Premier Will Hodgman says he is worried about the Commonwealth’s response to the review, which is expected in about a fortnight.

State Energy Minister Matthew Groom is planning to fly to Canberra this week to urge the Federal Government against scrapping the RET. “We’re very anxious about any decision that the Federal Government might make to this scheme that could disadvantage the state,” Mr Hodgman said.

“I urge the Federal Government to look very carefully at Tasmania, consider our investment and also further opportunities in the future.”

Mr Hodgman said he has been arguing Tasmania’s case for months and that Mr Groom would again be pushing the cause to his federal counterparts.

But Ms Milne said the Tasmanian Liberals were not doing enough.

She maintained that Prime Minister Tony Abbott was determined to “destroy renewable energy”.

“It was his idea to abolish the Renewable Energy Target altogether,” she said.

She said the Tasmanian Government was “attacking the Federal Government with a wet lettuce leaf” and needed to present a strong rejection of the Warburton review.

“I think it is time that if Matthew Green supports a clean energy future, supports renewable energy, that he stands up and really condemns the direction of the Abbott Government and rejects utterly the Warburton report on renewable energy,” Ms Milne said.

“Frankly, it is pathetic. If they are going to make a stand they need to stand with the jobs, with the university [UTAS], with the renewable energy future and against Eric Abetz.”

August 31, 2014 Posted by | politics, Tasmania | Leave a comment


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