Australian news, and some related international items

Popularity of Western Australia’s rooftop solar makes privatisation of electricity assets unlikley

text-people-power-solarWA’s rooftop solar so popular power privatisation not an option, says expert, Guardian, , 6 Jan 16   Prof Philip Jennings, a renewable energy expert, says investors would be unlikely to be interested in unprofitable power networks Western Australia would not be able to privatise its electricity assets “even if they gave it to them for nothing” because the popularity of rooftop solar panels has made state-owned power stations unprofitable, a renewable energy expert has said. Continue reading

January 7, 2016 Posted by | solar, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Rooftop solar power in Western Australia produces more electricity than the State’s biggest power turbine

solar-rooftopRooftop solar producing more energy than WA’s biggest turbine, ABC Radio AM 5 Jan 16 By Anthony Stewart Rooftop solar panels in the South-West Interconnected System (SWIS) in Western Australia are now producing as much energy as the state’s largest power turbine, according to research from Curtin University.

Hear-This-wayAUDIO: Listen to Anthony Stewart’s report (AM)

SWIS stretches from Kalbarri north of Perth to Ravensthorpe in the state’s south, taking in the Perth metropolitan area. Curtin University sustainability professor Peter Newman said 20 per cent of homes across the grid have rooftop solar panels installed.

“We are in the extraordinary position of saying that Perth [SWIS] now has rooftop solar as the largest supplier of electricity, it’s the biggest power station in WA,” he said.

“It’s nearly 500 megawatts and it’s growing rapidly, by 2020 we could have half of Perth’s [SWIS] households with rooftop solar.”……

Professor Newman said the state’s electricity utilities needed to rapidly adapt to the growth in solar.

“They didn’t predict it, they have all these contracts for coal and gas that go 20 or 30 years and they have even got an old power station out of mothballs, fixed it up, but never turned it on,” he said.

“Despite the boom times we actually reduced our power consumption during this period because people are just not needing it if you’ve got the PV’s [photovoltaic] on the roof.”

Energy utility Synergy has been contacted for comment.

Batteries to drive solar boom…..

January 6, 2016 Posted by | solar, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Wester Australia finally bans solarium tanning beds

Total eclipse for tanning beds, The West Australian, Cathy O’Leary December 31, 2015, Hundreds of young WA women are likely to avoid disfiguring and potentially deadly skin cancers because of a ban on tanning beds that starts tomorrow.

Regulations to ban commercial sun beds make WA the last State to outlaw the machines.

Cancer Council WA director of education and research Terry Slevin said the ban came 12 months after laws took effect in the rest of the country.

He said that before regulations started in Australia it was estimated that sun beds caused almost 3000 skin cancers a year, including 281 melanomas, and were responsible for 43 melanoma-related deaths.

A recent study predicted one in six melanomas in Australians aged 18 to 29 could be prevented if solarium operators were shut down.

Mr Slevin said the machines were mostly used by people under the age of 24, often young women.

They exposed skin to ultra-violet radiation five to six times more intense than the midday summer sun……

January 6, 2016 Posted by | health, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Shire of Leonora, Western Australia, enthusiastic for nuclear waste dump

greed copyWA shire wants nuclear waste facility despite Federal Government knockback, ABC News 17 Dec 15 By Rhiannon Shine A shire in Western Australia’s Goldfields is determined to host a radioactive waste facility, despite being knocked back by the Federal Government last month.

The shire of Leonora was disappointed it did not make the Government’s shortlist for a proposed low-level radioactive waste facility.

The town, about 260 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie, east of Perth, was one of two local governments from the Goldfields region to express interest in hosting the facility.

But this week the council voted to engage a geological consultant to search for suitable nuclear waste sites in the area.

Chief executive Jim Epis said it was a long-term investment.

“I’m talking about maybe five, 10, or even 20 years away,” Mr Epis said.

“We are going to have quite a few uranium mines around our neck of the woods and we think it’s fair that someone in the area should be responsible for taking the waste back.

“We’re going to head off now and look into the future, and see if we can identify these sites where we can take nuclear waste from anywhere in Australia.”

Councillors voted unanimously to spend about $13,000 on the services of Al Maynard and Associates geological consultants.

Mr Epis said the geologists would likely focus on areas in the northern part of the shire.

“A lot of that land up there is in granite, which is ideal for nuclear waste deposits,” he said.

Council braces for opposition from locals

Mr Epis said he expected the decision would be met with some opposition.

“Over the last 10 years the Leonora community has had plenty of opportunity to discuss nuclear mining with a number of different companies,” he said.

“There [are] those out there that are totally against the idea.

“It just creates healthy debate.”……..

December 18, 2015 Posted by | wastes, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s Yeelirrie uranium proposal poses genuine extinction threat

text-uranium-hypeState and national environment and Indigenous groups have called on the state EPA to reject Canadian company Cameco’s proposal to mine uranium at Yeelirrie in WA’s East Murchison region.

 The call comes as the groups formally provided the EPA with a detailed critique highlighting specific community, environmental and procedural issues, along with wider nuclear industry safety and security concerns. Over 2,000 individual submissions were made to the EPA opposing the Yeelirrie uranium proposal.

 A key specific concern involves the threat of species being made extinct as a result of the project. “This proposal threatens to make 15 species of subterranean fauna extinct,” said CCWA nuclear free campaigner Mia Pepper.

 “We want the EPA to reject the proposal because of these unacceptable impacts.  In its current form the project is likely to cause the extinction of ten species of stygofauna and five species of troglofauna.* These creatures might be small and hard to count but that does not mean that they don’t matter.”  

 Many of the area’s Traditional Owners have opposed proposals to mine uranium at Yeelirrie for more than 40 years.  Pastoral operators and other stakeholders have also raised concerns about the impact on scarce water resources and the problems of dust and airborne pollution from a planned 9 kilometre open pit and large stockpiles of radioactive material in a region known for regular high winds.

 “There is scant economic incentive for this mine,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney.   “The uranium market remains depressed and the commodity price has flat-lined. Cameco wants a paper approval to effectively warehouse a product that lacks social license and demand.

 “Cameco – and two other WA uranium hopefuls – are racing to get assessments approved before the next state election.  This might make sense for a company but it doesn’t make for good public policy.

 “We are deeply concerned about fast tracked approvals for deficient proposals and urge the EPA to say no to extinction by saying no to this uranium mine.”


December 14, 2015 Posted by | environment, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia systematically eroding Aboriginal heritage rights

highly-recommendedSeparate but unequal: the sad fate of Aboriginal heritage in Western text-action-aboriginalAustralia The Conversation,  Senior Lecturer, Human Geography, Curtin University December 7, 2015  There is systemic discrimination against Aboriginal heritage in Western Australia. This does not come from a racist administrator somewhere who hates Aboriginal heritage, but from the evolution of the institutions, rules and conventions that make up cultural heritage management.

Let me explain why.

Western Australia manages the heritage sites of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal sites through different institutional channels, under different laws. This system is now providing much higher levels of protection for non-Aboriginal heritage.

There are several obvious imbalances. Should the Aboriginal Heritage Amendment bill that’s currently before parliament be passed, the maximum penalty for an individual illegally disturbing a non-Aboriginal heritage site will be A$1 million and two-years imprisonment, but for an Aboriginal site it will be A$100,000 and 12 months imprisonment, doubled on a second offence (it is currently A$20,000 and imprisonment for nine months, increasing to A$40,000 and two years for a second offense).

Less obviously, since Colin Barnett’s government took office in 2008 it has gradually reduced protection by reinterpreting definitions within theAboriginal Heritage Act 1972 to severely curtail the number of new sites. To date, some 1,262 sites have been blocked from gaining protection.

In 2012 the definition of “sacred” was reinterpreted to only include sites “devoted to a religious use rather than a place subject to mythological story, song or belief” – leading to the deregistration of 35 sites. This was found earlier this year to be a “misconstruction” by Justice John Chaney in the Supreme Court of Western Australia. Dreamtime stories have long been and continue to be considered sacred to Aboriginal people.

Furthermore, a recent report by UWA archaeologists indicates that more than 3,000 Aboriginal heritage sites have lost registration status as part of sweeping changes in classifications in the Aboriginal Heritage Register.

At no stage have Aboriginal custodians been notified about the changing status of their heritage……….

Proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act

Continue reading

December 9, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australian Greens appalled at plan for funding out-of-state renewable energy projects

Chapple, Robin Greens W.A.WA considers funding out-of-state renewable energy projects, The Fifth Estate Annie Kane | 8 December 2015 Electricity generator and retailer Synergy, owned by the Government of Western Australia, is considering paying for renewable energy projects in other states in order to meet renewable energy targets.

According to The West Australian, the company is looking at paying for wind farms and solar plants in eastern states to help meet the Renewable Energy Target, which requires electricity providers to get 20 per cent of their power supplies from large-scale renewable sources by 2020…..

Move is a “bastardisation of the Renewable Energy Target”

The move, however, has been criticised by WA Greens energy spokesperson Robin Chapple, who said: “The idea of our tax dollars going towards renewable projects interstate is a bastardisation of the Renewable Energy Target.

“Why would we pay for clean energy projects that we won’t ever receive electricity from? “The fact that this has even been floated just shows how short-term this government is in its thinking.

“Here is an industry that could create new jobs, lower the price of electricity and greatly improve our environment. “The excuse that our system is over capacity is ridiculous.”

He said that by retiring the state’s fossil-fuel generators could help bring in new renewable capacity and therefore work towards the 2020 target.

Mr Chapple added: “As a state we should, and could, be doing a lot more around renewables. Frankly, the costs of this technology are dropping so fast, and our natural resources are so good, that it is only a matter of time for WA.

“I am dumbfounded by Mr Rowe’s comments, and I sincerely hope that these ideas are not borne out.”

December 9, 2015 Posted by | energy, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

 Paladin called on to close and rehabilitate Malawi uranium mine

Paladin-thumbConservation Council of Western Australia, 20 Nov 15  Shareholders at Perth based company Paladin’s AGM will call for the non-operational Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi to be closed and rehabilitated. Calls for rehabilitation follow years of community opposition to the mine and failure to prevent the release of radioactive material into the environment.

The mine has been under ‘care and maintenance’ for several years due to the falling demand for uranium globally.

Charles Roche from the Mineral Policy Institute who will be attending the meeting said “With predicted operating costs almost double the long-term uranium price, there is a real danger that Kaylekera will be abandoned or sold off to reduce company debt. Instead of endless optimism Paladin should be honest about the possibility of re-commencing of mining in the next few years and begin rehabilitation works to protect communities, secure the site and end the cycle of financial losses”.

Mia Pepper, CCWA nuclear free campaigner who is in Africa at the Nuclearization of Africa conference this week said “We’ve been asking, along with French group CRIIRAD, for Paladin to release monitoring data from testing downstream from the mine. CRIIRAD have completed intermittent tests which indicate there is some radiological impact from the Kayelekera mine on the environment.”

“As the mine is about to go into a third year of being in Care and Maintenance we are concerned about the ongoing management of water on site and the structural integrity of the site. We would like to see this mine going into early rehabilitation, given the failures of Paladin to address community concerns, the clear local opposition to the project and the failure to contain radiological material onsite and an uncertain future. Rehabilitation should be done to the same standards expected in West Australia.”

Paladin has two uranium exploration projects in WA, also on hold given the stagnant uranium price and no mid term prospects of improvement. Paladin’s project in Qld is on hold indefinitely given that the Queensland Government reinstated the ban on uranium in Qld. Their JV proposal in the NT is also indefinitely on hold given strong opposition from the NT Government and Alice Springs residents.

November 20, 2015 Posted by | business, politics international, Western Australia | Leave a comment

 Investors urged to dump Toro Energy at company AGM

protest-2Conservation Council of Western Australia, 18 Nov 15,  Traditional Owners and environment groups will ask shareholders to withdraw support for Toro Energy highlighting community opposition to the company’s uranium mine plans and a flat lining uranium market at the Toro’s AGM today.

Vicki Abdullah, Traditional Owner of the Lake Maitland area where the company plans to mine uranium will be attending the AGM today.

Ms Abdullah said, “I’ve told Toro Energy time and time again that they are not allowed to mine at Lake Maitland, they have no right to destroy our homelands, our sacred places and the burial sites of our old people. You wouldn’t let them do that your home or your ancestors. Well I won’t let them do it to mine.”

CCWA Director Piers Verstegen, said “After ongoing weak performance we expect Toro Energy will be asking shareholders to ‘hang in there and be patient’, however the reality is that community opposition and weak market are serious impediments that are not going to go away.

“Uranium is unnecessary, unsafe and unwanted and we will be asking Toro shareholders to place their investments in more lucrative and responsible industries like renewable energy.

“Toro must also face reality and cease pressuring local communities and Traditional Owners causing anxiety and conflict over a mine that will never make economic sense” concluded Mr Verstegen.


November 18, 2015 Posted by | Opposition to nuclear, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Cameco’s uranium plans in Western Australia stalled indefinitely by low prices

burial.uranium-industryUranium miner Cameco to move in WA when demand lifts for nuclear energy, Perth Now 
October 28, 2015 
North American uranium miner Cameco plans to advance its WA projects when demand picks up.

The company says it is frustrated by roadblocks to uranium mining in WA, particularly from the WA Labor Party, which may stop new uranium mines from going ahead if elected.

Cameco Australia managing director Brian Reilly said uranium miners would need access to more Australian ports to export its products in the future……..

November 4, 2015 Posted by | business, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Australian media continues to confuse return of Lucas Heights wastes with plan to import world’s radioactive trash

text-cat-questionWhy does  the media continue to confuse the return of nuclear waste to Lucas Heights (permitted due to contracts, in Australian law) with the ill conceived plan to invite the world’s radioactive trash in, as a supposedly $squillion dollar industry – (which is illegal in Australia)

greed copyWA site ‘ideal’ for nuclear dump Andrew Probyn | Federal Political Editor | Canberra November 3, 2015,  The man behind WA’s only short-listed site for a radioactive waste dump says the mulga scrub near Leonora would be ideal home for the world’s spent nuclear fuel rods.

Glenn Baker, who owns 100ha submitted by Leonora Shire Council for low and intermediate level radioactive waste dump, said the area had the stable geology, environment and remoteness necessary for a world repository of high level nuclear waste.

The South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission has been told the industry could be worth $28 billion over the next three decades, such is the global demand for nuclear waste storage.

Mr Baker’s property “Waarmba” is one of seven sites short-listed for a federal radioactive waste management facility to dispose more than 4200 cubic metres of low-level waste from hospitals and universities, and store almost 700 cubic metres of intermediate waste from Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney. Continue reading

November 4, 2015 Posted by | wastes, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s wave power microgrid – a world first

waveWorld-first wave power microgrid to be trialled in WA By Emily Piess A WA energy company is about to trial the world’s first renewable microgrid power station using wave energy as one of its sources.

Perth-based Carnegie Wave Energy will build the pilot project on Garden Island, using wave and solar energy to supply power to the Defence Department and a desalination plant. Chief executive Michael Ottaviano said the technology could be used to provide power to regional townships near the coast, as well as island communities. “This is a model for islands to move away from diesel-power generation into a combination of renewables,” Mr Ottaviano said.

“It’s also [a model for] regional towns in Western Australia, particularly those that are either off-grid and also running on diesel, or those that are on the so-called fringes of a grid, typically on the end of long transmission lines.”

Mr Ottaviano said the technology could reduce WA’s reliance on transmission lines that are expensive to maintain and upgrade. “It can cost hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade, so as a way to avoid that sort of large expense, embedding renewable microgrids on the end of those transmission lines will be the future of clean power in Western Australia,” he said.

“The Garden Island microgrid project will do the equivalent amount of power for about 2,000 to 3,000 households, so it’s already of commercial scale.” Western Power is partnering with Carnegie and will provide technical expertise on the project.The microgrid, which will cost up to $10 million to build, will produce about five megawatts of energy, a significant portion of the Defence Department’s electricity use on Garden Island.

If the trial is successful, Mr Ottaviano said the microgrid model could be used in regional centres such as Albany and Geraldton. “This potentially could be rolled out to thousands and millions of households across Western Australia and beyond that really across the globe,” he said. “The potential for these sorts of projects is enormous.”Carnegie will undertake a detailed design phase before construction begins next year.

The microgrid is due to be completed by the end of 2016.

October 31, 2015 Posted by | energy, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Don’t let Western Australia be a radioactive quarry and waste dump

CCWA Campaign: Let’s keep WA nuclear free! Don’t let WA be a radioactive quarry and waste dump

(Check out the information provided here about uranium exploration in WA and the Kintyre, Wiluna, Mulga Rock and Yeelirrie uranium mine proposals – and radiation and health issues)

Nuclear Free WA , 23 Oct 15  WA has never had a commercial uranium mine; we’ve had state wide bans on uranium mining and federal restrictions on uranium mining and a long history of public opposition.

After the 2007 state election the newly elected State Liberal Government lifted a long standing ban on uranium in WA. This came shortly after the Australian Labor Party changed the three mine policy which has since the 1980s meant that there could only be three uranium mines operating in Australia. With these two decisions WA has become the target for many uranium miners.

There are now approximately 140 companies with uranium interests in WA, there are three proposed mines which are engaged in the State’s EPA approvals process followed closely by another two proposals which are advancing their exploration programs followed by about 80 + other uranium explorations.

Uranium mining in WA is not a done deal

No uranium mine has been approved in WA at a state level or a federal level and there is mounting concern in the communities about the dangers and implications of mining uranium. There are strong calls for a public inquiry into uranium mining from environment, social justice and public health groups, from traditional owners, unions and politicians.

WA has a strong history of opposition against the nuclear industry, we know it’s radioactive, we know that uranium and its by products can cause cancer, we know uranium mining and milling is water intensive and that we’re a dry state, we know that in Australia despite regulations and controls we have contaminated mine sites and weapons test sites that have never been cleaned up to a safe standard.

Nuclear and climate change

The nuclear industry and those who support it continue to talk about nuclear power being the solution to climate change, but we know there is carbon pollution associated with every stage of the nuclear fuel chain. We know that as ore grades decline mining and milling processes become more and more carbon intensive. Nuclear Power is polluting, radioactive, expensive and finite; it is unsafe, unwanted and un-necessary.

October 23, 2015 Posted by | Opposition to nuclear, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s Wave powered Desalination Plant Now Operational

waveASX Announcement Friday, 23rd October, 2015 Wave Powered Desalination Plant • Wave powered desalination plant operational • First bottle presented to WA Water Minister Hon Mia Davies at AWA Conference   • MAK Water agency agreement extended to remote islands, first opportunities underway

Wave energy developer Carnegie Wave Energy Limited (ASX: CWE) is pleased to announce the world’s first wave energy powered seawater reverse osmosis desalination plant is fully integrated and operational. Carnegie’s desalination pilot plant on Garden Island (co-located with the Perth Wave Energy Project) was successfully commissioned off the electricity grid earlier this year, and is now fully integrated with the CETO wave energy power plant, meaning that the desalination plant is capable of running both off the grid and directly off hydraulic power from Carnegie’s wave project, or a combination of both.

The first bottle of wave-powered desalinated water produced was presented by Carnegie’s Chief Operating Officer, Greg Allen, to the Western Australian Minister for Water the Honourable Mia Davies MLA at the Australian Water Association’s (AWA) Annual Western Australian Conference today. Mr Allen presented on wave energy integrated desalination at the Conference timed to coincide with National Water Week (presentation attached). Carnegie’s Wave Powered Desalination Project won the 2014 AWA Innovation award.

October 23, 2015 Posted by | energy, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Perth home entirely powered by solar energy shows the way

highly-recommendedPerth gets first home powered almost totally by solar BKathryn Diss A Hilton home has become the first in Perth to use the Sun to meet almost all of its power needs by storing the energy in batteries while still remaining solar-home-storage-etcconnected to the power grid. (diagram at left not realistic!) 

The home uses solar for 97 per cent of its power needs and also offloads excess supply onto the grid, in what could become a mainstream feature in the future.

Environmental scientist Josh Byrne built the home in Perth’s southern suburbs two years ago with a 10-star energy rating.

But despite having an energy efficient home solar panels on his roof, Mr Byrne was still paying power bills.

So, Curtin University’s Jemma Green proposed a battery storage trial at the home to try to further reduce his power bills. She had spent the past year researching and getting approvals for the project while seeking funding to pay for the batteries and her research.  Continue reading

October 9, 2015 Posted by | solar, storage, Western Australia | Leave a comment


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