- the growth in community renewable energy - community solar network Farming the Sun in NSW”s Northern rivers region, the first of several such groups in New South Wales. NSW government’s Office of Environment and Heritage has approved funding for up to 9 groups to develop similar proposals. Community wind farms exist in Victoria (Hepburn Wind project) and in Albany, W.A.
- Australian businesses are taking to solar energy, with 1,460 commercial solar installation in the first quarter of this year. This is causing financial distress to fossil fuel energy utilities. Australia needs to follow Germany’s lead in helping fossil fuel utilities to cope with the transition – they will still be needed as the renewable energy revolution progresses, for backup energy.
- Meanwhile the Energy Supply Association of Australia (ESAA) got a bit desperate, blaming home solar owners for ‘avoiding network charges’. As Parkinson pointed out, the ESAA ignored the cross-subsidy paid by households with no air conditioning for those who do.
- Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) launches screen printing for solar energy – an Australian scientific first!
Federal politics. Greg Hunt Shadow Minister for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage reiterated the Liberal Coalition’s plans to repeal the Carbon Tax, remove the Clean Energy Act, and remove Federal powers over Environmental Law. Christine Milne gave a spirited stand for Australia’s environment.
- Share prices for Australian uranium companies ERA, Paladin, Bannerman Resources, have fallen over 90% since 2007
- A new study ‘Economics at Large’ examines Toro Energy’s Wiluna uranium project., and finds that it is financially risky. It might just manage to be financially viable if Toro can avoid clean-up and decommissioning costs.
- Paladin Energy is the news again, for all the wrong reasons. Very poor and unsafe working conditions in Paladin’s Kayelekera uranium mine, in Malawi, having led to blindness in one worker. Paladin blamed all this on a”sub-contractor”. They couldn’t get away with this in Australia. Sadly, our mining companies can be “The Ugly Australian” in Africa.
Nuclear wastes and the old dead High Flux nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights back in the news, as Federal Government plans (listed in Budget) to move these from South Sydney, for dumping on Aborignal land in the Northern Territory. This would clear the way for further nuclear development at Lucas Heights. Nobody seems to have thought of the idea of just stopping making this radioactive trash, importing radiopharmaceuticals made by non nuclear methods. Sydneysiders are anxious about the radioactive transport.
- Uranium miners squealing as the Federal Budget moves to stop the rorts on tax exempt exploration, (but they keep all their other perks, such as the fuel rebate).
- Nuke Dump gets $35.7m over 4 years.
- ANSTO gets $38.7m for decommissioning High Flux Nuclear Reactor and $8.1 m for increasing costs of running OPAL Nuclear Reactor
- ARPANSA Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency gets $ 7.8 m over four years
- Rum Jungle radioactive decontamination funds gets $1.5m this year.
- A mixed result for renewable energy and climate change action. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency survives, with funds deferred. The Clean Technology Programs did not receive rumoured cuts. It could have been worse – and certainly will be, if Abbott gets in, in September.
Uranium market gloom. .Underneath the hype of the future “uranium boom”, some analysts actually coming out now and predicting indefinite stagnation for Australia’s (and everybody’s) uranium industry.
Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations going on, in secret, in Lima, Peru. I bet you’re not hearing anything about this. So far, the Australian government has resisted conditions that would endanger the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, limit access to Internet material, and permit US corporations to over-ride Australian legislation, in investor-state dispute provisions. Australia is admired, as a model for resisting this. However, this could all change very quickly if the Liberal Coalition wins on September 14. You think that this is not nuclear-related? Well, I think that it’s related to everything!
Still – the Australian Renewable Energy Agency survives, and solar and wind power are going to keep growing. Heaven help us if Tony Abbot gets in in September and tries to wreck renewable energy and climate change action. We may well look back on this Budget as something quite good.
The uranium lobby will be squealing, as new rules tighten, to stop the rorts on tax exempt exploration. But they keep all their other $billion perks.
Nuclear agencies continue to gobble up their $millions. The old dead, but still dirty High Flux has costly cleanups indefinitely, the live OPAL nuclear reactor continues to cost. Then there’s the radioactive waste dump planning.
And there are the Counsellors in India and China being funded – their job sounds very like marketing for Australia’s uranium industry.
The mining industry has had a royal run from the Australian government. Up until this latest Federal Budget uranium mining companies could deduct the full cost of exploration immediately, or even 150 per cent of the cost of exploration in some cases. Tax breaks on exploration and equipment cost taxpayers more than $1 billion per year.
Now – mining companies will cry poor, as the new budget contains measures to tighten the rules on exploration deductions for miners. Companies will now only be able to deduct genuine exploration spending, rather than writing off the acquisition of a company that acquired mining rights and spent money on exploration. But hey, the Government is sacking more than 100 staff from the federal environment department, staff who help assess mining proposals
But don’t let’s feel too sorry for the uranium, or indeed, any mining corporations. For example BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto pay tax on their fuel, but the government gives nearly all of it back through the Fuel Tax Credits program. Fears the diesel fuel rebates could be targeted again proved unfounded, with no direct changes to the 32 cent rebate.
As Charles Berge wrote (in Sydney Morning Herald May 11, 2010) “And then there are direct government services. Geoscience Australia’s annual budget is $130 million, much of which goes to providing free data and services to the mining industry. The CSIRO and various government research centres chip in another $130 million per year in benefits to the industry. And for the research the miners have to do themselves, they get $160 million back per year in the form of research and development tax concessions.
A billion or two for fuel, … a billion for free pollution and a couple of hundred million for subsidised science . . . pretty soon we’re talking real money.
And that’s before we’ve even begun to talk about government-provided roads, rail, ports, electricity networks and other infrastructure.
Mining is different from most other industries because it directly accesses publicly owned, non-renewable resources. It is appropriate that it pay for this privileged access, over and above its fair share of company tax. In light of the $4 billion to $5 billion in benefits the mining industry receives each year from the Australian taxpayer, the government’s proposed resource rent tax starts to look modest (and anyway, uranium mining was exempt from that tax)…..
So don’t be snowed by the big miners’ shrieks about sovereign risk driving them out of Australia. The biggest risk is that we continue to subsidise mining operations that aren’t paying a fair return for their use of public resources and taxpayer dollars.”
Federal politics. Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop joins in the growing chorus of Liberal, and some Labor politicians urging for nuclear power for Australia. Much Liberal-Labor wrangling going on about the carbon tax, the the Clean Energy Future legislation, renewable energy promotion and demotion. And I’m sorry, but I haven’t kept up with it too well.
Western Australia. Intrepid Traditional owners and international protesters are already on their way in their 250 Km walk from Yeelirrie to Leonora in protest against uranium mining. In addition to this strong local opposition, there are still many hurdles for the uranium industry to overcome, before Wiluna, or Yeelirrie uranium projects ever become operational. The most significant hurdle is the persistent fall in uranium prices.
Which brings me to the Australian media. The business pages continue to hype the marker forecast for uranium mining. They must be relying on handouts from the uranium lobby, as the reality for the uranium market is quite the opposite – as demonstrated by the spectacular fall in earnings and share prices of leading uranium miner Cameco.
Northern Territory govt is bringing in a levy on mining companies, to raise money to clean up defunct old mines, like the still radioactive Rum Jungle uranium mine. It’s not going to be enough money – but this is still a welcome recognition that uranium mining companies should not get away scotfree, leaving their radioactive mess.
Victorian Health Department finds that wind turbines do not cause illness, but Premier Napthine and the Victorian Liberal govt apparently do not believe this, and are retaining the restrictions on wind farm development. However, a big global fund, Denham Capital Management, is joining with others to create OneWind Australia – investing in wind energy in New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania.
Uranium. The Australian Uranium Association’s annual Paydirt Conference, in Adelaide, was sad little affair this year. Poor attendances, schedule cut down from 3 days to one, venue changed from The Hilton to The Intercontinental Hotel. The star address was by the New Minister for Energy and Resources, Gary Gray. Mr Gray has just discovered that climate change is real. Gray has been an enthusiastic climate denier until now. But he has renounced his previous position that climate science was “pop science” and a “middle-class conspiracy to frighten schoolchildren”. Why? I hear your cry?
Well that’s simple. Australia’s nuclear lobby is pitching nuclear power as the cure for climate change. Well, it wouldn’t be very convincing to promote a cure for a disease that you denied existed, now would it?
Uranium economics. The Australian Conservation Foundation has produced a terrific analysis Exposing the Uranium Industry’s Economic Myth shttp://www.acfonline.org.au/sites/default/files/resources/ACF_Yellowcake_Fever.pdf
Tony Abbott promises to reinvigorate BHP’s massive Olympic Dam project, although BHP has rejected it, and the South Australia government admits that it was over- hyped.
Climate Change and Renewable Energy. Liberal Ministers of Energy in Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria unite in a chorus of climate scepticism, and downgrading of renewable energy . Labor’s Gary Gray joins in dismissing renewables. So you see – obeying the fossil fuel/nuclear lobby agenda is not really a party political thing. They are all equally illiterate about energy’s future trends.
Maralinga veterans. Although the UK government has rejected any claim for compensation for Australia’s nuclear veterans, the veterans, many suffering from cancer, are making an appeal to the Australian Human Rights Commission, on the illegality of their exposure to atomic radiation in the 1950s and 60s.
Lucas Heights nuclear wastes. Sutherland Council doesn’t want it stored there. Strange that they haven’t thought of the idea of just shutting it down, and not making any more radioactive wastes.
It’s getting harder and harder for the uranium industry to jolly itself up, as the economic realities for the industry become more apparent. Touted as a “major” conference, this one attracted only half as many delegates as in 2012. The conference duration was shortened from 3 days to one. The venue was changed from the Hilton to the Intercontinental Hotel.
Press releases (as far as I could find) focused on excuses for why the Paydirt conference was such a lemon. “Mr Koutsantonis blamed the Fukushima disaster in Japan – and the global review of the industry – for the lack of attendance” – (Perth Now)
Nevertheless, uranium industry spruikers will spruik on.
So – during May, I think that I will just note the antidotes to the Australian Uranium Hype – by quoting salient bits from the just released YELLOWCAKE FEVER Exposing the Uranium Industry’s Economic Myths http://www.acfonline.org.au/resources/yellowcake-fever-exposing-uranium-industrys-economic-myths
For today’s example:
AUSTRALIA’S URANIUM EXPORT REVENUE IN PERSPECTIVE
In the 2011/12 financial year:
• uranium accounted for 0.19% of national export revenue;
• uranium revenue was 4.4 times lower than Australia’s 20th biggest export earner, wool;
• uranium revenue was 8.7 times lower than Australia’s 10th biggest export earner, aluminium; and
• uranium revenue was 103 times lower than the biggest earner, iron ore.
Christina Macpherson 27 April 13, Today I’ve posted an item from The Conversation, in which 4 very serious writers raise the question of Australia’s politicians having an ethical duty to seek out the scientific consensus on climate change, rather than to just rely on their own personal opinions.
I think that these writers are being far too kind to Australia’s Climate Denying politicians. With the facts on climate change becoming ever more widely known, and increasingly urgent, – are we to believe that these politicians are just a bit stupid?
No. They are smart. They know who funds their campaigns. They know who best articulates the hidden case for the fossil fuel industries - and they draw on propaganda material from America’s well organised think tanks, whose opinions are paid for by fossil fuel interests, especially the notorious Koch Brothers.
I know that climate change is a critical threat to the planet, and especially to Australia. However, it’s not the only critical threat. This website is dedicated to opposing the equally critical threats of nuclear war, and nuclear pollution.
I found it very interesting that our 4 ethically minded writers singled out Australia’s new Resources Minister, Gary Gray, as one who has rather suddenly seen the light on climate change - “ Gray renounced his previous position that climate science was “pop science” and a “middle-class conspiracy to frighten schoolchildren”.
But why did Gray do this sudden u-turn on climate change?
Well, that’s not hard to discover. Minister Gray is to deliver his first address in his new role ( since Minister Ferguson got kicked out) - and Gray’s “maiden address” is to the Australian Uranium Association’s 3 day “Paydirt Conference in Adelaide – April 30 – May 2.
What’s the connection? I hear your cry. Well, the connection is that Australia’s (rather desperate) uranium industry is spruiking the lie that nuclear power is the solution to climate change,
Well, you can’t pose as one trying to solve climate change, if you are saying that you don’t believe in climate change – now, can you?
And that is why the opportunistic Gary Gray now states that he believes in climate change.
Yes – I know that my websites are supposed to be all about nuclear news. But what IS the nuclear news? And what IS happening in the energy world.
Well – my problem is that IT’s ALL HAPPENING IN RENEWABLE ENERGY.
The nuclear lobby huffs and puffs, and tries to blow down the house of renewable energy.
But it’s all hot air. The reality of the nuclear industry is that it hobbles on, in its servitude to nuclear weapons, it pretends that it’s economic, which it clearly isn’t, and it touts for markets all over the world.
The real news about the nuclear industry is that it can’t solve the waste problem, that it can’t convince the world’s health authorities, as it lies its head off about ionising radiation. And its costs just keep skyrocketing. Nuclear news is all negative stuff, and I get sick of it. In Australia, it’s sad stuff, – with the uranium industry in decline, and even South Australia’s Premier admitting that uranium has been “over-hyped”.
Meanwhile there’s all sorts of positive things happening in renewable energy, small and large scale, in energy storage, and in constantly falling costs.
Of course, as the nuclear lobby huffs and puffs, it tries to fight, to destroy, the clean energy movement. It brings to mind Mahatma Ghandi’s sayng:
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”
15 July 2005 The Minister for Education, Science and Training, the Hon Dr Brendan Nelson MP, announces three potential locations to be investigated for the Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Facility. The three locations are properties located near Katherine and Alice Springs in the Northern Territory: Fishers Ridge, Department of Defence property, southeast of RAAF Base Tindal; Mt Everard, Department of Defence property, northwest of Alice Springs; and Harts Range, Department of Defence property, northeast of Alice Springs. The new facility will co-locate low-level and intermediate-level radioactive wastes.
Christina Macpherson 19 April 13. It’s hard to discover exactly what sites were recommended by Bureau of Resource Sciences in the 1990′s, but Muckaty wasn’t one of them.
NRIC, A Radioactive Waste Repository for Australia: Methods for Choosing the Right Site, DPIE, Canberra, 1992.The Commonwealth releases its report National Radioactive Waste Repository Site Selection Study, Phase 1 for public comment by December 1992. The Phase 1 report is prepared by the National Resource Information Centre (NRIC), a science unit within the Department of Primary Industries and Energy (DPIE). The report:
describes the nature of radioactive wastes
briefly describes the criteria for assessing the suitability of sites for hosting a waste repository
outlines a Geographic Information Systembased system for applying the criteria, and
describes the way a repository would be constructed.
Of the eight regions identified by this study, five were selected entirely by using ASSESS. These were the
Tanami, Bloods Range, Everard, Billa Kalina and Olary regions. Read more »
North Korea continues to be a source of anxiety for Australia, though we are not seen as a target at present, and perhaps they don’t have a nuclear missile anyway? Intrepid Dr Helen Caldicott takes off for nuclear lectures in South Korea.
USA militarism in the Pacific is now seen even by the right wing Australian Strategic Policy Institute as increasingly risky. The concept of the “Air Sea Battle” is likely to draw Australia into any war in the Asia Pacific, potentially a nuclear war.
Nuclear lobbying revs up, as Tony Shepherd (Transfield Services, -construction, resources, energy) of Business Council of Australia calls for nuclear power to be “on the table”. Barry Brook, the nuke lobby’s favourite spruiker, spruiks again. And the political party ”Australian Voters Party” calls for a string of nuclear power plants in regional Australia.
Commonwealth Bank, in a magnificent piece of jargon, refuses to answer on the question of funding nuclear weapons manufacture. http://www.abc.net.au/tv/thecheckout/futube/default.htm?WwEQu-_c3Bw The question was asked by the Medical Association for the Prevention of War, (who have now changed their bank).
Paladin Energy, Australian uranium company forced to renegotiate a deal with Malawi, which will include removing the confidentiality clause, and getting a better financial deal for Malawi.
Solar Power: 1,000,643 small solar power systems were installed in Australia as at April 5; with a collective total capacity of 2,461,696 kW. Based on an average 25c/kWh retail electricity cost (day rates); these home solar power systems could generate as much as $913,086,737 worth of electricity over the next 12 months.
Greenhouse gas emissions: National Greenhouse Accounts released on Monday show Australia’s carbon pollution from electricity generation fell by 14 million tonnes during 2012.Around the nuclear/uranium traps
Queensland ALP reaffirms their policy against uranium mining.
Victoria‘s Premier Denis Napthine gets this week’s Hypocrisy award. He enthused over the opening of Macarthur wind farm (largest in Southern Hemisphere – ““I think they are majestic, and I actually love them.” but then Napthine stated that he will not be changing Victoria’s anti wind farm laws.
The outlook for the nuclear power industry becomes ever bleaker. Why? Well as Bill Clinton famously stated “It’s the economy, stupid”. Nuclear power just isn’t economic, as the industry itself knows better than anyone.
Still, Australia’s uranium/nuclear lobby presses on gallantly, Barry Brook keeps spruiking it. The Lowy Institute put on apathetic panel last month.
And there’s the political party ”Australian Voters Party”. No idea who is behind this, And I doubt that anyone voted for them. They were started, curiously, a very short time after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. And they’re gung ho for nuclear power in Australia. Fom their website
“The Party believes that a series of nuclear power plants should be built in regional areas across Australia away from the major cities.”
Western Australia. Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, has given approval to Toro Energy to open WA’s first uranium mine, at Wiluna. An inexplicable decision, uranium mining on a flood-prone lake bed, home to a number of unique and endemic groundwater dependent plants and animals. Still – there’s many a slip .. Toro, a small company, inexperienced, under financial constraints, and casting around for investors. And, let’s not forget, the uranium price remains in continued slump. How does Toro solve these problems? Well, first step, put a woman, better, two women in charge. If Wiluna uranium mine does go belly up, which is on the cards – well it’ll be their fault, CEO Vanessa Guthrie and chair, Erica Smyth.
South Australia. The uranium State’s media suffered a lapse, when even the Roxby Downs Sun posted an anti uranium call from a visiting Indian, and Adelaide radio aired a compregensive criticism of nuclear power, by Dr David Palmer.
Australian uranium miner Paladin Energy in the news again, as they try to pacify the Malawians with a new, and complex bond. Among other things this deal obliges the company to sensitize people on the potential dangers associated with radioactive substances and prevention procedures. Many Malawians still unhappy with a general feeling that Africans are being ripped off by Western uranium mining companies. Shock horror, how could they think that!
Climate Change. Scientific evidence that Australia is already in the grip of climate change. But that hasn’t deterred Tony Abbott from promising to abolish the Climate Commission, and sack Prof Tim Flannery. He also says he’ll scrap the carbon tax, but this is pretty well impossible – would bring down a cloud of legal actions.
Meanwhile new information builds on the ever cheaper renewable energy, and developments in energy storage.
Supposedly Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson had his own very narrow view of what that meant.
It meant promoting nuclear and fossil fuel power. While paying lip service to renewable energy, Ferguson appeared to sabotage renewable energy at every possible turn.
Ferguson has also been notorious for being unapproachable, and particularly so, if you happened to be an Aboriginal who didn’t want nuclear waste dumping on your land.
Goodbye – Ferguson – you will not be missed! - Christina Macpherson 22 Mar 13
Over the past two weeks there have been many events across Australia, in recognition of the two year anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. This included the visit of Japanese from Fukushima. I regret that I have been away in USA over this time, and consequently have been out of touch with the Australian efforts.
Meanwhile I did attend the New York symposium - The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident. A prestigious gathering of scientists, doctors, engineers gave memorable and up to date lectures – focussing on the situation in Fukushima, but also examining America’s critical problem of nuclear wastes. The full coverage can be seen and heard at http://www.totalwebcasting.com/view/?id=hcf# . While this symposium was in itself a great experience for those attending, its wider effect will go on in video, film, and a forthcoming book.
Australia this week – EARTH HOUR Saturday 23 March at 8.30 p.m – still a fine reminder of the power of energy conservation, and this year with a focus on renewable energy http://earthhour.org.au/
Renewable Energy Target to be maintained by the Australian government, though there are warnings that the Coalition may later muck it up.
Queensland. The Newman government won’t rule out the option of exporting uranium through the Great Barrier Reef. Senator Larissa Waters (Greens) bringing in a Bill to prevent this. A Queensland state governmnet committee reports that the Mary Kathleen uranium mine, (closed 30 years ago) is still leaking radioactive water.