Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

No surprise! Abbott’s RET Review Panel comes up with a climate sceptic report

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmCosts of Australia’s renewable energy target ‘not justifiable': review, SMH, August 28, 2014 –  National political reporter Tony Abbott has been given cover to break an election promise not to touch Australia’s renewable energy target after his hand-picked review panel recommended the scheme be dramatically cut back.

Clean energy industry leaders said the findings of the review, headed by businessman and climate sceptic Dick Warburton, represented the “worst case scenario” and would cost thousands of jobs and more than $10 billion in investment if the government adopted its recommendations. Clean Energy Council acting chief executive Kane Thornton said the proposals would “shut down the future of the industry” in Australia………

The panel recommended two options for Australia’s renewable energy target, which is currently set at 41,000 gigawatt hours of electricity from large-scale renewable energy by 2020 – now equivalent to about 27 per cent of expected generation.

Under the first option, the scheme would be closed to new investment beyond those under construction or winning full financial commitment within a month of the change. This scenario would slash the target to about 15 per cent.

Under the second option, the target would be set at 20 per cent. The target would be reset each year and new renewable energy power stations be given approval only if electricity demand increased. The target was one of the few climate change-related measures to enjoy bipartisan support before last year’s election………

Any change proposed by the government will set the scene for another parliamentary fight, with Labor, the Greens and Palmer United Party all opposed.

Analysis conducted for the report found coal-fired power stations would be the biggest beneficiaries of a cut in the target. The review acknowledged that the scheme had lowered wholesale electricity prices and that its impact on household bills over time would be “relatively small”. But the panel found the cost for emissions-intensive companies was not justifiable, and called on the government to find lower cost alternatives to cut carbon emissions.

The Greens said it was no surprise that a review led by a climate sceptic had “trashed” the target. Greens leader Christine Milne said both options put forward would destroy the renewable energy sector. “I’m glad this dangerous and ignorant report is finally public so everyone can see it for the climate denier drivel it is,” she said.

It is expected to be at least a fortnight before the government responds.  http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/costs-of-australias-renewable-energy-target-not-justifiable-review-20140828-109m04.html#ixzz3BoVhIvbL.

August 29, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Review of Renewable Energy Target helps fossil fuel lobby, aims to close large scale renewable energy schemes

Parkinson-Report-RET Review panel calls for large-scale, solar schemes to close REneweconomy, By  on 28 August 2014 The RET Review panel appointed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott has effectively rubber stamped the lobbying of the fossil fuel industry and called for the closure of Australia’s renewable energy target to new entrants as one of two options it is recommending to the government.

It is also calling for the immediate closure, or rapid wind back, of the small-scale renewable energy scheme, which supports rooftop solar and solar hot water. It says this scheme should either close now, or by 2020 at the latest. It also says it should be restricted to installations of less than 10kW – effectively cutting out the commercial-scale solar market. (It was previously open to 100kW systems).

As for the large-scale scheme, the panel says the two options are effective closure to new entrants, or a form of modification to restrict it to a “real” 20 per cent of demand.

If the government accepts either of the recommendations, Australia would become the first country to either ditch a renewable energy target, or wind it back – in much the same way as it was the first to scrap a carbon price.

Abbott is said to be in favour of the most drastic action, which is effective closure to new entrants. He personally appointed the panel, rather than follow the statutory requirements to have the review done by the Climate Change Authority, which just 18 months ago rejected the same arguments that the new panel has now accepted.

Although any legislative changes will be resisted and probably stopped in the Senate, the uncertainty will be enough to kill investment in large scale renewables. Changes to the small scale target could be done without the need for parliamentary approval……..

Here is the full list of recommendations:……..

http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/ret-review-panel-calls-for-large-scale-solar-schemes-to-close-39648

August 29, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Australian National University devises lightweight solar gear for soldiers

Australia’s Solar Soldiers http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4467 28 sunAug 14 The Australian National University says it will seek to commercialise its design of a wearable solar panel system for soldiers after successful field tests demonstrated the technology could easily replace heavy battery packs normally used to power combat equipment.

The Soldier Integrated Power System (SIPS) was developed by scientists at the ANU Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems. SIPS will dramatically reduce the weight members of the Australian Defence Force must now carry in order to power an increasingly tech-heavy arsenal.

“Much of the equipment carried by Australian soldiers requires heavy battery packs, such as night-vision goggles, lights, GPS devices and communication systems. Currently, soldiers depend on conventional batteries to power these devices,” said ANU Project Development Manager Dr Igor Skryabin.

Energy Matters reported on the ANU’s plan to integrate SLIVER cells into a solar vest for soldiers in 2011, when nations such as the USA and UK were fitting infantry with portable solar panels and inverters for use in combat missions. But the ANU team were primarily focused on designing a simple system that would ensure the mobility of Australian infantry.

The solar panel system is based on the ANU’s SLIVER solar cell – flexible solar cells the thickness of a human hair but with a high power-to-weight ratio of more than 200 watts per kilogram. They are also bi-facial, allowing either side of the cell to convert light to energy.

In a 72-hour field test under real mission conditions, the ANU flexible panels produced sufficient power to maintain battery charge. In sunny conditions the panels fully charged the batteries.

“The trials were performed by soldiers in a real mission environment with normal usage of power,” Dr Skryabin said. “Based on the success of this demonstration, ANU will be commercialising the project outcomes with industrial partners.”

The SIPS project was a collaboration between the ANU, CSIRO and Tectonica Australia, as part of a $2.3 million contract awarded under round 15 by the Capability and Technology Demonstrator (CTD) Program managed by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation.

August 29, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Pandering to coal-fired utility companies. Tony Abbott is out to destroy the Renewable Energy Target

Abbott and some in his Cabinet are close to the coal-fired electricity  generators whose business model the target is helping to destroy. 

Unused to competition, even competition that coal-fired generators  knew was coming, they feel wronged.

But their beef is nothing to that of the less well-connected solar and wind generators who would be hung out to dry by a changed or axed target.

They’ve invested $11 billion to date on the understanding that both sides of politics meant what they said when they set the requirement at 41,000 gigawatt hours. Some will go bankrupt if the Renewable Energy Target is abandoned.  Others will never invest in Australia again.


Abbott-destroys-renewablesRenewable energy target in the spotlight
http://www.smh.com.au/comment/renewable-energy-target-in-the-spotlight-20140825-107zn1.html 
August 26, 2014  Economics Editor, The Age So concerned was Greg Hunt about the future of the solar industry that he went skydiving at Tooradin in his electorate of Flinders to back an industry he said was in freefall.

That was in 2008 when he was shadow environment minister. Labor had means tested its solar panel rebate. More recently, after the 2013 election, he promised $500 million for a One Million Solar Roofs program and a further $50 million each for a Solar Towns and Solar Schools program. He was going to plant 20 million trees and keep the Renewable Energy Target.

The budget killed his One Million Solar Roofs program, shrank his Solar Towns program to just over $2 million and made no mention of his Solar Schools program.

The Renewable Energy Target stands, just. Introduced by the Howard government in 2001, it forces electricity retailers to buy an increasing number of gigawatt hours of electricity from renewable sources peaking at 41,000 a year in 2020 and staying there for a decade.

It’s given foreign and Australian investors the confidence to build $10 billion of new wind and solar farms knowing there’ll be a market for what they produce.

Even better, it’s had bipartisan support. The targets are locked in by law.

Cutting or axing them mid stream would leave the investors stranded with little hope of making good on the money they’ve outlaid. Continue reading

August 27, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Dr Helen Caldicott- a brief outline of Australia’s anti-nuclear movement

Caldicott-2013Australia – uranium and nuclear power, Online opinion By Helen Caldicott -, 26 August 2014  The Australian anti-nuclear movement started in Adelaide in 1971 when fallout from French atmospheric nuclear tests polluted Adelaide’s water supply. People were warned that strontium 90 concentrating in milk would further concentrate in childrens’ teeth and bones and years later could cause leukemia or bone cancer. Australians in general were not enamoured of the French, and were so incensed that they were polluting the southern hemisphere with their tests that a huge movement erupted. Spontaneous marches occurred in Adelaide streets, people stopped buying French wine and cheese, postal workers refused to deliver French mail and whole pages were devoted to indignant letters to the editor.

Within nine months 75% of Australians fervently opposed the tests. Jim Cairns, deputy Prime Minister, Ken Newcomb, Union of Australian Students, and I then travelled to Paris to inform the French Government of our opposition. Australia and New Zealand took France to the International Court of Justice and they were forced to test underground.

Despite this international victory, three years later Whitlam decided to mine and export uranium. I knew nothing about medical hazards of nuclear power until I read “Poisoned Power” by Gofman and Tamplin who had been commissioned by the US Atomic Energy Commission to research the dangers of nuclear power. I then travelled to Canberra to warn Whitlam of the medical dangers of the enterprise, but to no avail.

A group began in Adelaide called Campaign Against Nuclear Energy CANE and in Melbourne, Movement Against Uranium Mining MAUM. Unions learned of the dangers and became so deeply concerned that when a man refused to shunt a truck containing yellow cake in Brisbane, the Australian Railways Union called a 24 hour nationwide strike. The medical dangers of uranium and nuclear power hit the headlines. Finally in 1978 the ACTU passed a resolution to ban uranium mining, transport and export which lasted for five years until Bob Hawke introduced the Three Mine Policy ending the ban. The antinuclear movement in Australia was very powerful and prevailed for many years…….http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=16621

 

August 27, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history | Leave a comment

Growing public anxiety in Greenland, over Australian uranium miner Greenland Minerals and Energy Limited (GMEL)

questionthe people of Greenland are “split down the middle regarding the repeal of the ban.”

Hooge explains that the “mineral authorities” have fed the public disinformation over the last years but the tide may be turning, with growing concerns over environmental effects and the leftist party Inuit Ataqatigiit pledging to roll back the repeal if it wins back power.

The prospect of a relatively unknown Australian company exploiting massive untapped resources in Greenland deserves a robust public and political debate. It has thus far received nothing in Australia, and little in Denmark and Greenland.

In an age of worsening climate change, mining uranium is an arguably unsafe and potentially explosive answer to the problem

Australian uranium mining in Greenland is tearing the country in half jagadees.wordpress.com August 23, 2014 Antony Loewenstein. source theecologist.org

This is a story about an Australian company you’ve never heard of, operating in a nation that rarely enters the global media: Greenland. It’s a story about the intense search for energy sources in a world that’s moving away from the dirtiest fossil fuels.

Aleqa Hammond, the prime minister of Greenland, is the first woman to lead this autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark. She also welcomes the financial opportunities from climate change and a melting Arctic Circle……..

In October last year, Hammond pushed legislation through Greenland’s parliament to overturn a 25 year old ban on the extraction of radioactive materials, including uranium, despite countless leading environmental NGOs urging otherwise.

It attracted global interest from the rare earth and uranium industries, including from China. Concerns were also raised about Greenland’s ability to manage a toxic substance in the wake of Fukushima and Chernobyl.

The company Greenland Minerals and Energy Limited (GMEL) is based in Perth, Western Australia. This year GMEL announced a major step forward in their plan to open one of the world’s largest uranium mines in southern Greenland, at Kvanefjeld, near Narsaq. The mine will also produce fluoride, thorium and other rare earths.

There is still significant opposition to the Kvanefjeld project. The Ecological Council, a Danish NGO, organised a conference to discuss the potential contamination risks in March, noting that the mine poses serious risks for the inhabitants of the nearby village, Narsaq.

Many locals told the BBC that they worried about pollution and challenges to traditional ways of life if GMEL moved ahead with its plans.

Unsurprisingly, Danish green groups have pushed for a continued ban on uranium mining. They claim that rare earth elements can be extracted without uranium mining in Greenland.

Who owns GMEL?

This would have been an important but fairly typical contest over resources, but after issues surrounding the ownership and status of Perth-based GMEL were raised in the Greenlandic parliament, the prospects of the Australian firm may be in jeopardy. Continue reading

August 25, 2014 Posted by | politics international, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

AUDIO: Over 20,00 jobs at risk if Renewable Energy Target is changed

Hear-This-wayAUDIO Jobs at risk from renewable energy target changes http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2014/s4073035.htm Matthew Doran reported this story on Saturday, August 23, 2014  ELIZABETH JACKSON: A green energy analyst says any changes to the Renewable Energy Target, which is currently under Federal Government review, will affect far more than the environmental sector in Australia.
green-collar
It’s estimated that more than 20,000 people are employed in a variety of roles across the renewable industry sector, from construction to research and development. But the ongoing uncertainty is spooking a growing number of developers.From Adelaide, Matthew Doran reports. Continue reading

August 25, 2014 Posted by | Audiovisual, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Australians’ defence of the Renewable Energy Target underway, with Brisbane pro solar rally

protestAustralia: Pro-solar rally slams attack on renewable target, PV Magazine  21. AUGUST 2014 | BY:  JONATHAN GIFFORD

The organized opposition to the federal government’s moves to abolish or reduce Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) has begun. More than 500 people attended a rally in Brisbane to protest against changes to the RET. The Australian Solar Council launched a campaign against the federal government logo-australian-solar-councmaking changes to the RET. Its first event in the northeastern state of Queensland on Thursday attracted 500 attendees.

The council’s CEO John Grimes said that a clear message has been sent to the government that Australians in key electorates are willing to vote to defend renewable energy in the country.

“Tonight over 500 solar heroes have come forward to send a clear warning to the Abbott government,” said Grimes. He said the message to Abbott’s conservative government has been clear: “We love solar, solar saves us money on power bills [and] we will vote to defend the Renewable Energy Target!”

The Save Solar campaign has also raised the ire of the government.  Environment Minister Greg Hunt slammed John Grimes on ABC Radio……..

“The Environment Minister should be attacking the Prime Minister’s radical plan to shut down the solar industry, not shooting the messenger,” said Grimes. “Today’s outburst shows how scared the Government is of this national campaign to Save Solar taking hold.”

There have been a host of surveys showing that Australians are supportive of renewable energy and the RET. With over 1.3 million solar households around the country, certainly a large number of people have first hand experience of solar.

The Australian Newspaper, a Rupert Murdoch owned publication that is generally skeptical of climate change and is often critical of renewable energy has been running a series of surveys about Australian’s attitudes towards renewables. In its most recent survey, it found that 88% of Australians support renewable energy, while only 8% report being “totally against.”

The Australian currently has a second survey live here.

Australia’s Clean Energy Council is also currently campaigning against changes to the RET. It’s CEO Kane Thornton argues that even a reduction of the RET to a “true 20%,” proposed as a compromise measure, would devastate the renewable energy industry in Australia.   http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/australia–pro-solar-rally-slams-attack-on-renewable-target_100016170/#axzz3BRV0obrI

August 25, 2014 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Chinese solar energy firm to close its research in Australia, due to Abbott govt policies

Solar giant to close Australian R&D unit  August 22, 2014   ENVIRONMENT EDITOR, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD A GIANT CHINESE SOLAR ENERGY FIRM, ORIGINALLY BASED ON AUSTRALIAN TECHNOLOGY, PLANS TO CLOSE ITS LOCAL RESEARCH ARM AMID CONCERNS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY IN THE COUNTRY.

Suntech, founded by Australian-trained former “Sun King” billionaire Shi Zhengrong, will next month close its Suntech R&D Australia unit with the loss of about a dozen jobs.

The company, now owned by a Hong Kong solar tycoon Cheng Kin Ming and renamed Wuxi Suntech, said in May it invests more than $3 million a year in Australian research and development.

“Suntech wants to continue a relationship with Australia, but it no longer makes the same sense to keep a research team [here],” Renate Egan, managing director of the Sydney-based R&D unit, said.

Dr Egan said Wuxi Suntech recently announced a plan to consolidate most research activities at its base in China. The Abbott government’s signals that it will cut the national renewable energy goal also reduced confidence about future opportunities.

“Clearly the market’s not going to grow here,” Dr Egan said, referring to large-scale projects.

The government is yet to release the recommendations of its hand-picked panel reviewing the Renewable Energy Target. Clean energy investors fear the panel, headed by former Caltex chairman and climate change sceptic Dick Warburton, will back a cut of the current goal of supplying 41,000 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy by 2020 – if not scrap it entirely for new entrants……….

Richard Corkish, chief operating officer of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics at the UNSW, said the loss of the Suntech unit could see significant talent head overseas.

“We hope as big a fraction as possible [of the researchers] can remain in Australia,” Dr Corkish said, adding that there has “not been too much good news” lately for the industry’s outlook in Australia.

While Australia continues to conduct world-leading research into aspects of solar PV research – such as UNSW’s work on increasing the productivity of solar panels – the level of support is likely to shrink because of government cutbacks, Dr Corkish said.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency currently provides grants for UNSW, Monash University and other institutions.

However, the Abbott government has vowed to scrap the agency and is expected to try again in the Senate………

While Australia’s take-up of renewable energy may be about to slow markedly, other nations are likely to press ahead.

A research report out this week by investment giant UBS estimates solar panels combined with storage are likely to be competitive with conventional power grids by 2020. Battery prices are likely to halve by the decade’s end – and continue to fall – giving the solar-storage combination a payback period of six to eight years by then……..http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/solar-giant-to-close-australian-rd-unit-20140822-10758l.html

 

August 25, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, solar | Leave a comment

In selling uranium to India, Australia will violate its international obligations

India-uranium1Seen from the perspective of adherence to non-proliferation norms and commitments If Australia exports uranium to India, Australia would violate its obligations of the Treaty of Rarotonga, which binds it from not indulging in such trade. Article 4 of the Rarotonga Treaty requires India to comply with safeguards requirements of Article III(1) of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Article III(1) of the NPT is about reaching a comprehensive safeguards agreement with IAEA. Instead, India has only acknowledged safeguards on certain foreign-supplied reactors and facilities. India’s safeguards agreement is based upon the IAEA’s ‘facility specific’ safeguards.

Australian uranium sale to India will be subjected to weak monitoring safeguards or ‘facility specific’ of IAEA, contrary to nuclear deals Australia has with other countries

AUSTRALIAN PROSPECTIVE NUCLEAR TRADE WITH INDIA – THE CONTROVERSY http://www.eurasiareview.com/21082014-australian-prospective-nuclear-trade-india-controversy/AUGUST 21, 2014   BY 

 Australia is expected to sign a civil nuclear agreement with India during the visit of Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott early next month. Negotiations have been concluded to smooth the path for uranium imports from Australia. The news came out when hundreds of thousands of Indian men and women have protested against the expanding nuclear industry.

These protests have been a regular feature in Koodankulam (Tamil Nadu), Jaitapur (Maharashtra) and Gorakhpur (Haryana) and at least five activists have lost their lives since 2010 in their struggle against the Indian government’s decision without taking the affected parties on board. Radioactive waste from uranium mining in the country’s east is reportedly affecting adjacent communities. Thousands of Indians suffer from the effects of uranium mining as related to poor technical and management practices. Continue reading

August 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott does not have the international clout to keep Climate Change off G20

Abbott-in-hot-panAustralian opposition ‘unlikely’ to keep climate off G20 agenda RTCC 20 August 2014Australia lacks gravitas to cast off climate talk, with US and China likely to put pressure on Tony Abbott By Sophie Yeo

Climate change is likely to be discussed at the G20 summit in Brisbane, despite Australia’s decision to leave it off the agenda. This is the finding of a new report, released this week by the centre-right think-tank Committee for Economic Development in Australia (CEDA).

Australia lacks the diplomatic weight to dismiss the issue while heavyweights such as China and the US are ramping up their own efforts to combat carbon pollution, say the authors.

“As a middle-power economy, Australia’s leadership and influence may be limited,” writes Sarah-Jane Derby, senior economist at CEDA, in the report.

“For example, members may be receptive to Australia introducing new ideas and changing the agenda, but without the support of players who are more powerful, these ideas may not be taken seriously.”

Climate criticism

Australia prime minister Tony Abbott has faced heavy criticism from environmentalists over his decision to axe many of the country’s flagship climate policies, such as the tax on carbon.

Reports from Australia suggest he knocked climate change off the G20 agenda as it did not fit with the summit’s focus on economic growth……. This year’s G20 takes place two weeks before a major UN summit on climate change takes place in the Peruvian capital, Lima.

The UN meets annually to work towards a solution on climate change, but the G20 provides opportunities for “open discussions” between the world’s major economic players that are not possible during international meetings, says the report.

It adds that the tight economic focus of the Brisbane summit could add value to climate change discussions, by considering the financial risks and consequences of heating the planet……

In June, the US ambassador to Australia said that Obama planned on raising climate change during the leaders’ summit and at “every international forum”, as it was a critical issue “not only to Americans but to the world”. – See more at: http://www.rtcc.org/2014/08/20/australian-opposition-unlikely-to-keep-climate-off-g20-agenda/#sthash.Gl6EU0Jf.dpuf

August 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian Solar Council will campaign in marginal seats over Abbott’s broken promises on renewable energy

logo-australian-solar-councAustralian Solar Council attacks Prime Minister’s ‘broken promises’ on renewable energy support ABC News, By Matt Eaton, 21 Aug 14  The Australian Solar Council is beginning a campaign to target marginal federal seats over so-called broken promises on support for renewable energy.

Solar council CEO John Grimes has accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey of breaking a series of election promises by moving to abolish the renewable energy target (RET).

“This comes as a big surprise to many people in the community,” Mr Grimes told 612 ABC Brisbane.

The RET scheme commits Australia to a target of generating 20 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

“Before the election he [Mr Abbott] was committed to renewable energy, he was committed to the RET, he was committed to a million solar roofs,” Mr Grimes said.

“After the election, promise after promise broken, million solar roofs gone, the RET he wants abolished – he and Joe Hockey are working hard for that outcome……….

Mr Grimes said Mr Hunt and the Government would continue applying pressure to get their way.

“They will destroy any character, to stop this movement, to stop this gaining hold in the electorate,” he said.

“In that call, [Mr Hunt] told me that if I didn’t shut it down, that he would be launching a pointed, public attack at me and my character – that’s what he said to me on that call.”

Mr Grimes said Mr Hunt was under great pressure on the issue and needed to “attack his personal credibility”………http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-21/solar-council-attacks-broken-promises-on-renewables/568606

August 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, solar | Leave a comment

From the beginning Abbott as P.M. was determined to kill the Renewable Energy Target

Parkinson-Report-Why the Renewable Energy Target never stood a chance, Smart Company, Thursday, 21 August 2014 GILES PARKINSON THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW, CONFIRMED THE WORST FEARS OF THE RENEWABLE ENERGY INDUSTRY IN A FRONT-PAGE STORY ON MONDAY, REPORTING THAT THE PANEL CHARGED WITH REVIEWING THE RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET HAD BEEN “INSTRUCTED” BY PRIME MINISTER TONY ABBOTT TO LOOK AT WAYS TO SHUT DOWN THE SCHEME.

Shutting down the RET would bring to an end a $20 billion industry, cost thousands of jobs and force household and business bills to soar. But that is what the government has wanted from the beginning. It appointed a panel composed of climate sceptics, pro-nuclear advocates and fossil fuel lobbyists.

Killing the RET would satisfy the right-wing ideologues and deep-lined antipathy to renewable energy within the Abbott government. The AFR also confirms what has long been suspected: that Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane have been effectively sidelined from the process, despite the issue crossing into their portfolios.

The PM’s office has had carriage of the project since the start, and his intentions have long been clear. The secretarial support has been housed within Abbott’s office — and within reach of his principal business advisers, including climate sceptic and renewables opponent Maurice Newman and Abbott’s own energy adviser, former AGL executive Sarah McNamara.

Government insiders who have worked on the RET Review say the intent of the review has always been to cut the current 41,000GWh Renewable Energy Target to a maximum of 25,000GWh (what might be called a “true” 20% target), and possibly close it to new entrants altogether.

There were glimmers of hope that the RET could be retained, particularly when the panel’s own modeling dismissed the two major arguments to drop the target  …….

A report released today by consulting firm Jacobs, on behalf of The Climate Institute, Australian Conservation Foundation and WWF Australia, says that the biggest beneficiaries to dumping the RET would be the fossil fuel generators. The Jacobs report suggested $8 billion in additional profits to coal-fired generators out to 2030 and an extra $2 billion to gas generators. The big three retailers, AGL Energy, Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia, would be the biggest beneficiaries………

Whether the Abbott government finally agrees with a scaled back target or an effective closure, any changes seem likely to be blocked in the Senate, where the Palmer United Party has promised to side with Labor and the Greens.

But it matters not. The large-scale renewable energy industry has already ground to a halt. No new projects have reached financial closure since the election of the Abbott government, and the Abbott government knows that even by doing nothing  — apart from allowing continued uncertainty — no new projects will come to market.

Households will also be affected. They have so far contributed $12 billion of the $18 billion invested in renewables over recent years, initially driven by generous feed — in tariffs and then as a hedge against rising electricity prices once those tariffs were removed. The government, though, can remove some of those remaining incentives that defray the upfront cost of the system, without needing legislative changes. Industry experts say that could cause the rooftop solar market to fall by one-third or even half, with the loss of thousands of jobs.

Meanwhile, state governments — with huge vested interests in state-owned networks and generators — continue to act against renewables. The Western Australian government is even canvassing importing coal from Indonesia rather than moving to develop renewable energy projects at home, while in Queensland, businesses have been hit by a whopping $500-a-day service charge (essentially to read the meter) to dissuade them from installing solar………

ome international groups, such as US solar developer Recurrent Energy, have already packed up. Others, including Goldwind and Trina, have warned of the potential fallout, while Australian groups Pacific Hydro and Infigen Energy are directing their efforts overseas.

The Australian Solar Council echoed the CEC remarks. It is taking its “Save Solar” campaign to marginal electorates, with the first stop at the northern Brisbane seat of Petrie, held by the LNP’s Luke Howarth, this Thursday. The ability to make solar a potent political issue  — many marginal electorates boast more than 20% solar penetration — appears to be their last resort.

“Solar saves money, creates jobs and shifts votes. The Abbott government is about to find out how much Australians love solar and the Renewable Energy Target,” American Solar Council CEO John Grimes said. http://www.smartcompany.com.au/growth/economy/43378-why-the-renewable-energy-target-never-stood-a-chance.html#

August 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Internet trolls try to trash climate change science

What I learned from debating science with trolls, Business Spectator MICHAEL BROWN  20 AUG   “………I have received an education in the tactics many trolls use. These tactics are common not just to trolls but to bloggers, journalists and politicians who attack science, from climate to cancer research.

Some techniques are comically simple. Emotionally charged, yet evidence-free, accusations of scams, fraud and cover-ups are common. While they mostly lack credibility, such accusations may be effective at polarising debate and reducing understanding.

And I wish I had a dollar each time a scientifically incompetent ideologue claimed science is a religion. The chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council, Maurice Newman, trotted out that old chestnut in The Australian last week. Australia’s Chief Scientist, Ian Chubb, was less than impressed by Newman’s use of that tactic.

Unfortunately there are too many tactics to discuss in just one article (sorry Gish Gallop andStrawman), so I will focus on just a few that I’ve encountered online and in the media recently. Continue reading

August 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Abbott facing trouble with Liberal Party in his zeal to kill the Renewable Energy Target

Liberal-policy-1Coalition battle looms over new Renewable Energy Target THE AUSTRALIAN SID MAHER AUGUST 19, 2014 

A BRUISING battle looms within the Coalition over the extent of cuts to the Renewable Energy Target as clean energy companies warn any weakening of the policy will cause projects to collapse and undermine international investor confidence in Australia.

A review of the RET headed by businessman Dick Warburton has been handed to Tony Abbott, igniting internal jockeying over the future of the policy, ahead of a decision expected within weeks.

Some senior members of the government want to scrap it completely while Environment Minister Greg Hunt and 25 backbenchers support reducing the target to a “true 20 per cent’’, which would see the large-scale scheme rolled back from its current 41,000GWh to about 25,000GWh.

Supporters of a “true 20 per cent’’ told The Australian yesterday abandoning the policy would amount to breaking an election promise and would risk a Senate stalemate that would entrench the current target.

With no legislative partner, the Prime Minister would be left in the same position as with his attempt to change Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, and be unable to act.

Labor environment spokesman Mark Butler, Greens leader Christine Milne and Clive Palmer yesterday ruled out allowing any weakening of the 41,000GWh target…….

Victorian Liberal backbencher Sarah Henderson also spoke out in support of maintaining the RET. “The RET is so important for local jobs and for regional prosperity. As a strong supporter of renewable energy, I will continue my campaign to ensure the RET remains in place,’’ Ms Henderson said.

Opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen said apparent intentions to wind back the RET represented a sovereign risk.

“We have $11 billion of investment in renewable energy based on clear government policy, a policy which had been bipartisan, and we see the government floating, walking away from that target. That creates sovereign risk for Australia’s investors,’’ he said.  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/coalition-battle-looms-over-new-renewable-energy-target/story-fn59niix-1227028613526

August 20, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

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