Australian news, and some related international items

Victoria about to get 854 wind turbines worth $5 billion

854 wind turbines worth $5 billion ready to be built in Victoria CHRIS MCLENNAN THE WEEKLY TIMES APRIL 01, 2015

wind-Hepburn-community-farmWIND farms worth almost $5 billion are poised to be built across Victoria.Thirteen projects with 854 turbines have won municipal council and State Government support and are ready to go.

Wind farms near Mortlake, Ballarat, Ararat, Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Ballan, Colac and St Arnaud can turn the soil the moment the Federal Government implements a new Renewable Energy Target scheme…….

……AGL Energy has built big wind farms at Oaklands Hill and Macarthur costing $1.18 billion. In its submission to the Senate wind farm inquiry AGL ­Energy estimates it has created 875 direct and indirect jobs in rural Victoria.

Northern Grampians Shire Council Mayor Murray ­Emerson said his council last week approved the Enerfin proposal. “It is a $460 million project, individually it would be the biggest investment in the shire’s history,” Cr Emerson said.

“Small rural shires like ours are battling all the time and the economic benefits from a project of this scale would be incredibly welcome.”Ararat Rural City Mayor Paul Hooper, who spoke at the Portland inquiry on Monday, said there were wind farm projects worth $1.68 billion ready to begin in his shire.

“This is an industry we ­already know very well and our residents support, we have a community which is pro-wind farm. “There are lots of jobs in construction, benefits from rates and the farms benefit which host them. “Rural shires have low populations and big areas to service, so a free kick of this magnitude is something we are very excited about.”

MAV president Cr ­McArthur said the dollar ­investment from wind farms “was astronomical”.

…….Victorian Energy and Resources Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the Government was promoting wind farms because of job creation and regional development and impact on greenhouse gas.

Ms D’Ambrosio said the Government had recently reduced the exclusion zone from winds farms from 2km to 1km to help create even more projects. She said developments would now be approved by the state’s planning minister.

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber said wind farms “would be a boon” to small rural councils with limited rate income.

Mr Barber said the pressure was on the State Government as well as the Federal RET negotiations “to make the wind farms happen”

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Low-cost high-efficiency concentrated solar photovoltaic power station launched in Victoria

Victoria-sunny.psdThe central Victorian sun powers world’s first concentrated solar power station, ABC Central Victoria By Larissa Romensky and Jonathan Ridnell, 31 March, 2015 

 A pilot facility, claiming to be the world’s lowest-cost energy plant, has opened in Newbridge in Central Victoria converting sunlight into electricity. In a paddock off a dirt road stands a massive 25-metre tower directed at a field of silver rotating panels that shimmer in the sunlight.

This is the world’s first concentrated solar photovoltaic (CSPV) power station just launched by research and development company, RayGen Resources.”The end result is very low cost solar electricity and we think it’s going to really revolutionise solar energy,” said Robert Cart, CEO and co-founder of the company.

The tower acts as a receiver that collects sunlight from the mirrors that are computer controlled to move as they track the sun.”The collector field focuses the light on the receiver. The receiver directly converts that light to electricity,” said co-founder and technical director of RayGen, John Lasich.

The very small receiver is the unique part of this technology. “This is the only commercial version of this technology in the world,” said Mr Lasich.”It combines heliostats and denser photovoltaic cells, which when combined give very low cost and high efficiency.”

At this stage the $3.6 million project is a pilot testing facility. But the company are happy with the results.”It looks and feels pretty much like the real thing does,” said Mr Lasich.

High efficiency meets low costThe small plant generates enough power to run about 75 to 100 homes and the company says the technology is cheaper and more efficient than placing solar panels on roofs……….

The company recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with their Chinese commercial partners. Juye Solar have invested $6 million which will allow RayGen to expand its manufacturing. They are currently in the process of building a larger facility at the same location.

A further $15 million will be invested by Juye Solar to develop the business in China to meet the large demand……

The ultimate aim for RayGen is to have distribution around the world. “We build the high tech components and software and sell that to the companies and they build the balance of system and put the whole plant together,” said Mr Lasich.

April 1, 2015 Posted by | solar, Victoria | Leave a comment

Direct Inaction – Tony Abbott’s climate strategy on behalf of the coal industry

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmView from the Street: So, who lost the NSW election the most?, Canberra Times  March 29, 2015 – “…….There have been many, many, many many many many many many many criticisms of Direct Action, the non-climate-change-addressing centrepiece of the government’s climate change policy.

Some have criticised the cost – $2.5 billion – rather than the non-cost of the previous policies such as emissions trading and the carbon not-actually-a-tax; systems which relied on market forces rather than government funding – which is odd, since historically that’s been the Liberal Party’s preferred solution for just about everything esle.

There have been criticisms based on the fact that the planned handing of this public money to private polluting concerns in order that they then reduce emissions does not appear to come with any clear conditions, such as having to give that money back if they then decide to not use it to reduce emissions.

And now “Environment” Minister Greg Hunt has proposed one better: that the energy industry shouldn’t be expected to do anything like, say, reduce the amount of pollution they create in order to get their hands on the cash.

It’s an interesting take on the whole “emissions reduction” model. Climate Institute deputy chief executive Erwin Jackson expressed that more bluntly: “It’s a climate policy you have when you don’t want to reduce emissions.”

The argument from the government is that asking the energy sector to reduce emissions would be just unfair, since it might force them to use more expensive methods to generate electricity which would make power more expensive. Of course, that $2.5 billion fund was entirely designed to compensate companies for the costs of making exactly those sorts of changes, but now Hunt appears to be arguing that asking polluters to actually do something after they’d gone to the trouble of accepting all that free money would seem churlish.

And, of course, we might politely point out – yet again – that Australia could go all-renewable pretty much tomorrow if we wanted. And, of course, that we’re going to be forced to do so at some point anyway.

Still, there’s no reason to rush into doing something sensible and necessary. And hey, what have future generations ever done for Australia’s bottom line, huh?……

March 30, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Abbott govt’s climate paper for Paris is likely to be a disgrace

Map-Abbott-climateAustralia ‘at risk of failing’ biggest climate test in a decade say climate groups, as government releases Paris discussion paper, The Age March 28, 2015  National political reporter The Abbott government says it will be a constructive player in global climate talks, but environment groups have warned it is laying out a path that puts Australia at risk of failing the most important climate test in a decade.

The government has published an issues paper ahead of public consultation on Australia’s post-2020 emissions reduction targets ahead of a new global climate deal in Paris at the end of this year.

Australia’s targets are under review and the government has promised it will announce new targets mid-year…….the Greens said the paper puts Australia on track for a repeat of 1997 Kyoto talks, where then environment minister Robert Hill argued Australia should be made an exception because of the economy’s high dependence on coal…….. Continue reading

March 30, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment


FIRST – there is NO “Nuclear Fuel Cycle” – only a toxic Nuclear Fuel Chain  nuclear-fuel-chain3

The nuclear lobby is telling one of its finest whoppers – that there really is a “nuclear fuel cycle” – that toxic radioactive wastes can be turned into lucrative nuclear fuel – for a never ending glorious “cycle”

Not true. It is truly a Nuclear Fuel Chain – that the lobby hopes to put around Australians’ necks. The new geewhiz (not yet existing) Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs) and Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs), including the  Power Reactor Innovative Small Module (PRISM) – all produce highly toxic wastes that have to be buried. Reprocessing is NOT a “cycle”

SECOND  – Rare Earths involve highly radioactive wastes – and require a big switch in DESIGN - so that they can be recycled.

Environmentalists must wake up to this. There must be a paradigm shift from the thinking, (so entrenched in Australia) – from “dig it up – use it – throw it away” – to DESIGN.

The modern technologies that we value – from wind turbines to mobile phones must be redesigned, so that their rare earths can be easily retrieved and re-used.

Otherwise the planet will be further plagued by radioactive wastes from rare earths.


March 29, 2015 Posted by | Christina themes, rare earths | Leave a comment

Wiluna uranium project not viable due to flooding risks

Lake Way flooding proves Wiluna unviable 27 Mar 15, (Good photos)  After yesterday flying over Lake Way to see the extent of flooding in the area, WA Greens spokesperson on uranium Robin Chapple MLC has expressed deep concern about the future of proposed uranium mining on the lake bed.

 Toro Energy Ltd plans to store radioactive tailings from the proposed Wiluna uranium mine – up to 100 million tonnes – in the mined-out Centipede and Millipede pits, which will also reside on the lake bed and are currently underwater.
 The company has previously cited flooding as a non-issue claiming the lake to be a natural drainage point however photographs taken by the Hon Robin Chapple MLC reveal this to be untrue.
 Mr Chapple said the extensive flooding at Lake Way raised very serious concerns about the ability of Toro Energy Ltd to effectively manage water whilst mining such a volatile mineral on a lake bed.
“I do not believe this company has properly accounted, nor planned, for potential flooding to the extent we have seen this week at Lake Way,” he said.
“Not only would flood waters of this magnitude carry radioactive material to other parts of the ecosystem but upon drying out, could potentially release large quantities of oxidised uranium – radioactive dust – into the atmosphere.
“Had this been an active mine site we would now be dealing with an environmental disaster on a large scale.”
For comment please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.

March 28, 2015 Posted by | environment, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

GetUp and Powershop join forces to switch Australia to renewable energy

logo-Powershop-1Powershop was ranked by Greenpeace as the greenest power company in Australia. As a generator, the company only produces renewable energy through its wind farms in Victoria and South Australia. It buys carbon offsets from UN-certified projects for all the electricity it creates and sells at no additional cost to the end user. It also lets consumers buy certified Green Power from projects such as the Hepburn Wind Farm (a community project in Victoria), LMS Energy (which creates gas from landfill), and CSR’s renewable energy project.

Powershop is a disruptive player because it offers customers greater visibility and control over their electricity use with no lock-in contracts.

Why GetUp activists are the new sales agents for electricity retailer Powershop Business Review Weekly Caitlin Fitzsimmons Online editor 26 March 2015 Online electricity retailer Powershop has a novel way of winning new customers – getting online activist group GetUp to do the sales and marketing for them.

Powershop Australia chief executive Ben Burge says more than 6,000 of Powershop’s 38,000 Australian customers – about 16 per cent – have come directly via GetUp to date.

“Of course it’s helpful to have someone other than the power company talking to customers about what’s a good choice of power company,” Burge says. “The great thing about working with GetUp is they are incredibly enthusiastic and that passion comes through – we don’t ever want it to be a scripted thing.”

GetUp chief executive Sam McLean says the goal is to get 50,000 people to switch before the annual general meetings of the big three power companies, Origin, Energy Australia and AGL, later this year. As of 11.30am on Thursday, GetUp’s internal figures showed it had switched 6,902 customers in total and was adding about 150 a day via both online and telesales.

The switching campaign is part of GetUp’s Better Power push to champion climate change action and renewable energy. The big three energy companies, which control 75 per cent of the energy retail market between them, are campaigning heavily to abolish or reduce the Renewable Energy Target. By contrast, Powershop strongly supported retaining the target in its submission to the recent government review. Continue reading

March 28, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

John Hewson calls on Australians to switch from Origin, AGL and Energy Australia electricity companies

It’s time for all of us to stand up and be counted. I urge you to consider joining me in withdrawing your custom from Origin, AGL and Energy Australia. These dirty companies are blocking Australia’s renewable energy future and clinging on to their misguided and outdated investments in expensive and dirty power.

The more of us that switch to companies that genuinely support the RET and oppose CSG, the better we will make things for all Australian consumers, our communities and our environment 

 The real villains in Australia’s renewables debacle? Three big energy companies, Guardian 26 Mar 15 
poster-renewables-rallyExtensive ‘advice’ from AGL, Energy Australia and Origin on the Renewable Energy Target has been a disaster – except for the companies’ profits “……Let’s hope Bill Shorten and the opposition have the courage to stand firm. The Greens and most of the Senate crossbenchers would back them to block the government’s attempts to make the necessary legislative amendments to the RET.

The real villains here, however, are Australia’s three biggest energy companies: AGL, Energy Australia and Origin.

Abbott has been extensively “advised” by these companies. Surely it is in no small part their influence that led to the coalition setting up an inquiry into the RET, headed by climate change sceptic Dick Warburton.

Interestingly, the inquiry found that the RET will drive down the price of power for consumers. Continue reading

March 28, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

New South Wales govt funds Byron Bay’s renewable energy trading plan.

piggy-ban-renewablesNSW Govt tips $15,000 into Byron renewable energy trading , Courier Mail, JOHN CONROY MARCH 25, 2015 The Baird Government in NSW has announced $15,000 in funding to back Byron Bay’s renewable energy trading plan.

The Byron Bay council trial in collaboration with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Institute of Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney and the NSW Renewable Energy Advocate, will allow the allow the local sports centre to sell renewable energy generated by their solar panel array to the council’s sewage treatment plant.

“This trial will mean we have two facilities using renewable energy from one site, allowing the sewage plant to run off clean, sustainable power and achieving greater use of energy generated by the sports centre’s solar panels,” Environment Minister Rob Stokes said……


    March 28, 2015 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

    Unprecedented Aboriginal stand to stop $16bn Carmichael coalmine, Australia’s largest

    Queensland lawyer Stephen Keim, who is not acting in the case, said the complete rejection of the mine was the first of its kind and sets up a “significant event in the history of native title”.

    “This is the first case with such a strong impasse, where the native title party has said ‘well we don’t want to negotiate compensation, we don’t want the action to go ahead,’” he said. “The native title act doesn’t give the right of veto, you’ve just got to keep working until you get an agreement.

    “This situation does allow the arbitration process to say no, so perhaps for the first time we’ll see that happen. The impression has been that the arbiter has always seen mining as very important, but maybe this is the one.

    highly-recommendedAboriginal group fights to stop $16bn Carmichael coalmine, Australia’s largest  Indian firm Adani has appealed to the native title tribunal to bypass the traditional owners’ rejection of the Queensland mine. Guardian, , 26 Mar 15 An Aboriginal group in central Queensland is attempting to prevent Australia’s largest mine from being established on its ancestral land, in what is shaping up to be an unprecedented test of the country’s native title laws.

    Representatives for the Wangan and Jagalingou people have formally rejected an Indigenous land use agreement that would see Indian mining firm Adani develop its huge $16bn Carmichael mine in the coal-rich Galilee basin region.

    However, Adani has turned to the national native title tribunal to override this objection, which would allow the state government to issue a lease for the mine.

    Wangan and Jagalingou elder Adrian Burragubba has written to the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, to uphold what he sees as the clan’s native title rights, warning that the mine would “tear the heart out of our country”. Continue reading

    March 28, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Queensland | Leave a comment

    Remote Aboriginal communities in distress over W.A. moves to get them off their land

    “And those remote communities stand there waiting for their verdict but don’t know what they’ve done to appear before the Liberal Government’s jury.”

    Remote community residents frightened they will be forced off their land: Aboriginal elder  ABC News 26 Mar 15  By Lucy Martin People in remote Indigenous communities are panicking about their future, say an Aboriginal elder and MP, as the Western Australian Government maintains no community will close without consultation.

    Pintupi elder Bobby West said life was good in the isolated community of Kiwirrkurra in Western Australia’s Gibson Desert.

    “It’s a friendly and safe community, much better than close by in the town area. We’re not planting marijuana or selling drugs in small communities. Yeah, we got a good life out here,” he said.

    It has remained that way for decades, but Mr West said residents were growing increasingly frightened they would soon be forced off their land. Continue reading

    March 28, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

    Abbott’s “Direct Action” climate policy – a gift to the big polluters

    Abbott-fiddling-global-warmTop polluters to set own limits virtually penalty free, according to Direct Action policy paper ABC News 27 Mar 15  By the National Reporting Team’s Lisa Main Australia’s 140 top polluters will set their own limits for future pollution virtually penalty free, according to the Government’s latest Direct Action policy paper.

    The Federal Government is building towards the launch of its flagship climate change initiative, the Emission Reduction Fund (ERF), in mid-April. As part of that it has released a consultation paper outlining “safeguards” to ensure the big polluters do not offset emissions saved through the ERF.

    Companies subject to the safeguards will select a baseline, or limit, for future pollution. That baseline will be set according to the highest peak of emissions from the past five years.

    Grattan Institute energy program director Tony Wood said the ideas proposed in the paper simply would not work. “The safeguard mechanism was always a critical element of the Direct Action plan, but there is nothing in this safeguard mechanism that puts any absolute limit on a whole range of sectors,” he said.

    There is also significant wiggle room for companies, according to the paper. Changes to the baselines can be made if there are changes to the company size or if the company has a “limited ability to control such emissions”. “All of the flexibility seems to be in the hands of the emitter and that runs counter to the fundamental principal of the paper,” Mr Wood said.

    System designed as a toothless tiger, economist says Continue reading

    March 28, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

    Disappearance of Submissions from the Nuclear Royal Commission website

    The very short time allowed for people to submit for the draft Terms of Reference nevertheless was enough for over 1000 submissions to be sent – the overwhelming majority raising issues that I bet the
    keep-it-secretnuclear lobby would not want raised.  No surprise then that the promised web page of all these submissions just vanished within  a day or two.

    However, here below is  a sample of some of these excellent submissions. It is from  DR. PETER BURDON ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR ALEXANDER REILLY MR. PAUL LEADBETER of the University of Adelaide


    To Whom It May Concern, RE: Royal Commission – Our role in nuclear energy

    Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the terms of reference for the Royal Commission into South Australia’s nuclear industry potential. Continue reading

    March 27, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

    NARROW Terms of Reference for Royal Commission on South Australia’s further participation in the nuclear fuel chain

    Below are the Terms of Reference.  You will note how very few related issues are included.nuclear-fuel-chain3

    The Terms cover:

    • feasibility of expanding mining of radioactive materials
    •  feasibility of conversion, enrichment, fabrication or re-processing in South Australia
    • feasibility of generating electricity from nuclear fuels
    • feasibility of establishing facilities in South Australia for the management,
      storage and disposal of nuclear and radioactive waste
    • and a little nod to the impact on economy, environment, and community

    (TO WIT)
    Australia, Governor in and over the State of South Australia:
    GREETING Continue reading

    March 27, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

    Flooding danger to uranium tailings at proposed Wiluna uranium mine

    exclamation-Chapple says water could increase the risk at Toro,  Kalgoorlie Miner, 26 Mar 15  Mining and Pastoral MLC Robin Chapple has expressed concerns about plans to mine uranium in Wiluna after the “flooding” of Lake Way.

    His comments came this week after a flyover revealed what Mr Chapple termed flooding on the lake bed. Toro Energy plans to store radioactive tailings from the proposed Wiluna uranium mine — up to 100 million tonnes — in the mined-out Centipede and Millipede pits, which will also be on the lake bed and are now underwater. The company has cited flooding as a non-issue, claiming the lake to be a natural drainage point, according to Mr Chapple.

    Mr Chapple said the extensive flooding at Lake Way raised serious concerns about Toro’s ability to manage water effectively while mining on a lake bed. “I do not believe this company has properly accounted, nor planned, for potential flooding to the extent we have seen this week at Lake Way,” he said

    “Not only would floodwaters of this magnitude carry radioactive material to other parts of the ecosystem, but on drying out could potentially release large quantities of oxidised uranium … into the atmosphere.

    Mia Pepper Nuclear Free Campaigner Conservation Council of Western AustraliaAbout the flooding of Lake Way – the proposed site for the “Wiluna uranium project” including three pits on Lake Way. We’ve raised the issue that Toro Energy want to store about 100 million tonnes of radioactive tailings in two mined out pits on the lake bed (Centipede and Millipede) – the Department of Mines and Petroleum haven’t yet approved or even seen a tailings management plan from the company. We are focused on making sure the tailings don’t end up in this lake!

    Conservation Council of Western Australia (Inc.) City West Lotteries House, 2 Delhi St, West M 0415 380 808 T (08) 9420 7291 F (08) 9420 7273

    March 27, 2015 Posted by | environment, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment


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