Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Questionable EPA approval for Cameco’s proposed Kyntyre uranium mine

questionIncreased scrutiny needed as EPA radioactive rubber stamp fails the nuclear test National and state environment groups have called for a dedicated public inquiry into plans for increased uranium mining in WA following an EPA recommendation to conditionally approve the proposed Kintyre mine next to Kalamilyi National Park in the Pilbara.

“The proposal to mine uranium five hundred metres from a creek system that is part of a network of significant waterways in a national park is reckless and should not be approved,” said CCWA campaigner Mia Pepper.

“This polluting plan would put great pressure on one of WA’s special places – our largest national park – and would impact on scarce water resources and a number of significant and vulnerable species including the bilby, marsupial mole and rock wallaby.

The approval recommendation follows recent disturbing allegations that former mine owner Rio Tinto made secret payments of around $21 million to silence Aboriginal concerns and opposition while it negotiated the project’s sale to current owner Cameco.

“Uranium mining is a high risk, low return activity where the proven risks far outweigh any promised rewards,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“Uranium is currently trading at US$28/lb. Cameco has stated it will not mine unless the uranium prices reaches upwards of US$75/lb. The EPA is recommending a green light for yellowcake when the company has stated the finances and the plan don’t stack up.

“Uranium mining poses unique risks and long term human and environmental hazards.  It demands the highest level of scrutiny and assessment – instead we have a lower order EPA report based on the hope of ‘satisfactory implementation by the proponent of the recommended conditions’. This inadequate approach is out of step with community expectations and fails to reflect the uranium sectors proven history of leaks and failure.”

“In the shadow of Fukushima, a continuing nuclear crisis directly fuelled by Australian uranium, Bill Marmion and Colin Barnett should put this controversial and contaminating sector before the people and under the spotlight via a public inquiry.”

For comment contact: Dave Sweeney 0408 317 812 or Mia Pepper 0415 380 808

July 28, 2014 Posted by | environment, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Transport of toxic chemical and radioactive wastes – France says NO to Orica

a-cat-CANFor a long time, I’ve been posting away about radioactive waste, as if it were the only pollution problem.  But of course it’s not. Indeed the same stupid white males who brought us radioactive wastes also bring us chemical wastes – in a sort of mindless onslaught on the very ecosystem we need for our survival.

I thought it ironic that France is now refusing to accept toxic chemical wastes from Australia.

Meanwhile a few very greedy business individuals, and a few not very bright worthies like Bob Hawke, Martin Ferguson, Alexander Downer - are advocating that Australia import radioactive wastes from France and everybody else.

The French have woken up now to the danger and diseconomics of nuclear power, and they’ve also woken up to the dangers of transporting chemical wastes. These wastes are best stored near the point of origin. The same goes for radioactive wastes.

Fortunately, most Australians reject the idea of importing radioactive wastes. The Abbott government and the Labor opposition are forced by public opinion to pretend that they oppose this too. However, under the power of their corporate funders, both parties would be ever so amenable to a business idea like that –  anything to get corporate and media support to be in office.

text-wastes-warningFrench reject Orica’s toxic waste, SMH  July 27, 2014 Natalie O’Brien More than 100 tonnes of highly toxic waste will have to remain at Botany after the French government vetoed plans by chemical giant Orica to ship it from Sydney to France for incineration.

Environmentalists across the world have applauded the decision after angry protests during the Tour de France bicycle race and a petition with 23,746 signatures was collected calling for the shipment to be stopped.

French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal said she would not back the plan to send the Hexachlorobenzene (HCB) waste to an area in south-east France because of fears something could go wrong to the ship which could cause marine pollution.

“The transport of dangerous waste … is an environmental aberration,” she was reported as saying.

She also said such waste “should be treated near their source of production”. ……..

It is Orica’s third attempt to ship the HCB, a carcinogenic pollutant banned in Europe since 1981, from Botany to an overseas destination for incineration. Protests stopped its planned export in 2007 to Germany and in 2010 to Denmark. Experts have said that the longer it remains at Botany the more waste is generated because it has to be repackaged every four years to keep it secure.
Objections had also been made to the Australian government from numerous lobby groups including Doctors for the Environment Australia, Friends of the Earth, the Nature Conservation Council, The National Toxics Network, Greenpeace Australia, International POPs Elimination Network, and the Basel Action Network (the Global Alliance for Incineration Alternatives).

Dr Mariann LLoyd-Smith from the National Toxics Network, said they shared Ms Royal’s concerns about transporting such a large amount of toxic waste by sea to France and they were also concerned about the repeated engineering failures and toxic emissions of the intended French incinerator.

“Now as a matter of urgency, we need to bring all the parties together and decide on a suitable non-combustion destruction technology not only for Orica’s HCB wastes but also to address current and future toxic waste,” she said.

“We then need to start the process to allow the Australian community to select an appropriate site where we can deal with our own hazardous waste in an environmentally sound way in line with Australia’s international obligations.” : http://www.smh.com.au/environment/french-reject-oricas-toxic-waste-20140725-zwd3k.html#ixzz38oF7vOkW

 

July 28, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina reviews, politics international, wastes | Leave a comment

Forget Australia’s Abbott government – Capital cities are going ahead with renewable energy!

renewable-energy-pictureSydney and Melbourne going green despite uncertainty over future of Renewable Energy Target
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-26/sydney-and-melbourne-going-green-despite-ret-uncertainty/5625976  
By Lisa Tucker Australia’s biggest cities are setting ambitious targets to cut carbon emissions despite signs the Federal Government will wind back the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

The review into the country’s RET is expected to make its recommendations next week.

But when it comes to going green, Melbourne and Sydney are on the same page and are determined to make it happen, whatever direction Canberra takes.

The cities are rolling out solar panels, installing LED light systems and designing energy efficient buildings.

Sydney plans to reduce its emissions by 70 per cent by 2030 while Melbourne aims to have zero net emissions in just five-and-a-half years.

City of Melbourne Councillor, Arron Wood, says environmental action is at the forefront of everything the council is doing.

“We’re certainly making big inroads, but to reach that goal by 2020, there’s some pretty big numbers,” he said.

“[But] I am absolutely vehemently opposed to any relaxing of the renewable energy target. It’s done wonderful things in terms of renewable energy investment.

“Interestingly enough we talk about the cost that renewable energy targets add to people’s bills, but when you look at the wholesale cost, it’s one of the only measures which is actually putting pressure on wholesale electricity prices.”

Renewable energy key factor in reducing emissions. 

Sydney’s goal is to produce 70 per cent of its electricity needs from tri-generation, a more environmentally friendly, low-carbon production method with solar and wind power making up the rest.

Melbourne is aiming for a renewable energy contribution of 50 per cent.

“Really, you do have to have a large proportion of your energy mix coming from renewable to have a hope of reaching that target,” Cr Wood said.

“Even the Urban Forest Strategy, which is about cooling our city: we’ve got a target of doubling the canopy cover in the city by 2040.

“That’s really about decreasing ambient temperatures and meeting the urban heat effect. But what it does is, it also makes the city look good.”

Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore says any change to the target will make Sydney’s goal more difficult to achieve.

“It’s much better if the national Government is also committed to taking action on climate change,” Ms Moore said.

“We already know with the winding back of the carbon pricing that it’s making it harder to achieve our tri-generation precincts in Sydney. So that would have an effect.”

Ms Moore says the steps being taken have the community’s full support.

“We are the most urbanised country in the world and we know that our cities are where 70 per cent of emissions occur,” she said.

“I think it’s really incumbent upon city leaders to commit to taking this action and follow through on it.”

July 28, 2014 Posted by | energy, New South Wales, Victoria | Leave a comment

Lucas Heights nuclear reactor – safety fears, as safety supervisors dumped

safety-symbolFears for safety at Lucas Heights nuclear reactor: permanent supervisors to be dumped as part of cost-cutting GEOFF CHAMBERS THE DAILY TELEGRAPH JULY 25, 2014 PERMANENT frontline safety supervisors will be dumped and Australian Federal Police roles overhauled as part of cost-cutting measures at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor.

Lucas-09The Daily Telegraph can reveal that six permanent ­safety positions will be ­outsourced from next month at the Australian Nuclear ­Science and Technology ­Organisation (ANSTO).

Workers at the facility in Sydney’s south have expressed concern about the removal of permanent safety inspectors.

The AFP will retain an armed presence but it is ­expected that light duties, including boom gate operation and CCTV monitoring, will be outsourced.

With 260 production, ­laboratory and technical staff on its books, the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union has firmly opposed what it describes as a “cost-cutting exercise” by ANSTO.

The union’s state secretary, Tim Ayres, said that the reactor site was an important local ­employer and crucial for the innovation and manufacturing industry.

“This is in no way an ­improvement to safety at ­Sydney’s only nuclear facility, this is a decision to wind back the safety protections purely on the basis of costs,” he said.

“This is a nuclear facility in the middle of a very large population centre — they’ve had to work very hard to get the confidence of the community that it can operate ­safely. But outsourcing the senior level safety inspectorate to some private company is going to absolutely shatter the confidence that this place can be run to the standard of safety and quality that the community expects.”

Mr Ayres said having ­permanent safety inspectors on staff should be a priority for management.

The inspectors, many with years of experience, are the first point of contact at Lucas Heights during an emergency situation.

      “This sends a message that safety is a second-order issue. It will set the safety culture back,” he said………

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/fears-for-safety-at-lucas-heights-nuclear-reactor-permanent-supervisors-to-be-dumped-as-part-of-costcutting/story-fni0cx12-1227000713465?n

July 26, 2014 Posted by | New South Wales, safety | Leave a comment

Bill Shorten, Labor Leader urges that climate change must be on the G20 agenda

climate-changeG20 ‘must talk climate change’ THE AUSTRALIAN JULY 24, 2014   Senior Writer
Canberra  CLIMATE change must be one of five priorities at the G20 leaders’ summit in Brisbane in November, Bill Shorten argues as he warns nations without a price on carbon risked economic isolation…... (subscribers only) http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/g20-must-talk-climate-change/story-e6frg6xf-1226999321748#

July 26, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Press Council raps THE AUSTRALIAN newspaper over its false story of climate change denial

exclamation-‘Considerable concern’: Oz in hot water over climate denial errors, Crikey,  by Myriam Robin, 24 July 14 The Press Council has handed down an adverse ruling against The Australian for a front-page article published in September last year that relied on a rapidly debunked Daily Mail story claiming the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had revised down the rate of global warming since 1951.

In highly unusual language for the Press Council, it says it is a matter of “considerable concern” that The Australian delayed in acknowledging its errors. Asked to explain the strong language, Press Council executive director John Pender told Crikey ”the initial error was very serious and prominent, was repeated unequivocally in a later editorial, and was not corrected with sufficient speed, clarity and prominence”.

In a September 16 article, since changed online but archived here on the Media Watch website, The Australian environment editor Graham Lloyd rehashed a British story published a week before the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC was released that claimed the report update would say the true figure of warming since 1951 had been 0.12 degrees Celsius per decade, and not the 0.2 degrees Celsius claimed in previous reports.

The Oz’s piece continued:

“Last week, the IPCC was forced to deny it was locked in crisis talks as reports intensified that scientists were preparing to revise down the speed at which climate change is happening and its likely impact.

“It is believed the IPCC draft report will still conclude there is now greater confidence that climate change is real, humans are having a major impact and that the world will continue to warm catastrophically unless drastic action is taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The impacts would include big rises in the sea level, floods, droughts and the disappearance of the Arctic icecap.

“But claimed contradictions in the report have led to calls for the IPCC report process to be scrapped.”

These reports were wrong. The Daily Mail got its numbers wrong, and The Australian repeated the error, as Media Watch anThe Guardian pointed out last year. The long-term trend in the IPCC report is 0.13 degrees of global warming a decade, and has been for some time — there was no retreat from higher figures……..http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/07/24/considerable-concern-oz-in-hot-water-over-climate-denial-errors/

July 26, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, media | Leave a comment

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) funding Lord Howe Island’s hybrid renewable energy project

renewable-energy-pictureLord Howe Island’s Clean, Renewable Energy Future http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4411 25 July 14  The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is helping to fund a hybrid renewable energy project on Lord Howe Island that will include energy storage.

ARENA will contribute $4.5 million in support for the 1 MW, $11.6 million wind, solar, storage and diesel hybrid system that will reduce the Island’s consumption of diesel by 70%.

“Lord Howe Island is 600 km off the east coast of Australia and, like other remote off-grid communities across the country, is heavily reliant on diesel generators that are costly to run and subject to volatile fuel prices,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknech.

“It is another significant project to come out of ARENA’s Regional Australia’s Renewables Initiative, which is focused on increasing the uptake of renewables in offgrid Australia.”

It’s been a long road to reach this point according to Lord Howe Island Board CEO Penny Holloway; who said said the community had been working towards a renewable energy future for more than ten years and ARENA’s support means it can now become a reality.

The Lord Howe Island Group is part of the state of New South Wales; administered by the Lord Howe Island Board.

NSW Environment and Heritage Minister Rob Stokes congratulated ARENA and the Lord Howe Island Board for their vision and commitment.

“Lord Howe Island was included on the World Heritage List because of its unique natural and heritage values and this initiative is a powerful way of protecting these into the future,” he said.

In other recent news from ARENA, the body announced it is also providing $500,000 to the Clean Energy Council (CEC) to support the execution of the first stage of a project to future-proof Australia’s energy system and improve the electricity grid to support the growth of clean energy.

The CEC  will be working with industry, government, regulators and consumers and commissioning various related analyses; with the first stage of the future proofing project due to be completed by the middle of next year.

July 26, 2014 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

New South Wales on the way to renewable energy success

Renewable energy: NSW to be ‘Australia’s answer to California’, SMH,  July 22, 2014  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald New South Wales aims to be “Australia’s answer to California”, accelerating the use of renewable energy and finding new ways to curb waste, in a push that puts it at odds with Coalition counterparts in other states and at the federal level.

The Baird government says it plans to adorn as many of its buildings with solar panels as possible and ease the way for more wind farms.

The announcement comes days after the Abbott government secured its almost five-year quest to axe the carbon price and amid ongoing signs it will weaken the national renewable energy target (RET),  “We are making NSW number one in energy and environmental policy,” Environment Minister Rob Stokes told the Clean Energy Week gathering in Sydney……….

Mr Stokes said NSW was committed to the 41,000 GW-h goal – a target that was the federal Coalition’s pre-election commitment. Maverick MP Clive Palmer has said his party will use its balance of power in the Senate to block any effort by the Abbott government to cut the renewable energy target.

Star watch

The NSW Resource Efficiency Policy will take advantage of the government’s scale – with more than half a billion dollars spent on energy, water and waste each year – to demand savings.

Investment over the next decade is likely to reach $290 million and deliver savings to energy bills of $55 million a year by then, Mr Stokes said.“We are the country’s largest employer,” he said of the NSW government. “We purchase 1 per cent of all new cars in Australia and we own half of all the land in the state – around 400,000 square kilometres.”

All new electrical equipment bought by the state will have to meet at least the average energy efficiency star rating for each appliance. For dishwashers that means 4 stars or higher and 3.5 stars for small air conditioners.

The Energy Efficiency Council said it applauded NSW’s leadership.

“Other governments around Australia should watch what NSW is doing and follow its lead,” said chief executive Rob Murray-Leach.

Improving energy performance was “a no-brainer”, strengthening the budget, as well as forcing through higher standards that build industry capacity, benefiting other parts of the economy, Mr Murray-Leach said. Mr Stokes told Fairfax Media: “It’s never been anyone’s job in the Department of Health or Department of Education to go and look at these efficiency opportunities.

“It’s a big opportunity, we’ve got a vast building stock, and there’s been nothing to activate it.”

As part of the policy, the Health Department will be required to audit energy use for 55 per cent of their power bills by June 2018; other departments will have to audit 40 per cent of their bills. The rate will rise to 90 per cent by 2024.

Wind-farm noise

In a separate nod to the renewable energy sector, Mr Stokes said he has recommended that the Environment Protection Authority treat noise from wind farms as it would noise from other mining and resources projects.

“I’ve asked the NSW EPA to consider the inclusion of the draft noise standards for wind energy projects into the Industrial Noise Policy, which is due to be finalised by December,” Mr Stokes said.

“This will provide clarity and certainty for wind farm operators, and will facilitate appropriate and responsible siting of wind farms in regional and rural areas,” he said……. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/renewable-energy-nsw-to-be-australias-answer-to-california-20140722-zvl60.html#ixzz38YKi2HqG

July 26, 2014 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

South Australia’s contaminated groundwater – thousands of sites

polluted-waterToxic sites in Adelaide’s suburbs number in their thousands BRAD CROUCH THE ADVERTISER JULY 22, 2014  THE Opposition has demanded a statewide audit of contaminated sites, as it emerges the dangers of trichloroethene entering groundwater was suspected as far back as the 1940s.

The call for an audit comes after Environmental Protection Authority chief executive Tony Circelli confirmed that “thousands” of sites were contaminated with various chemicals and the EPA received about 100 new notifications each year.

The State Government and Environment Minister Ian Hunter are under increasing pressure over the contamination scandal in Clovelly Park , where dozens of people have been forced to leave their homes because of health risks from the vapours of trichloroethene (TCE) rising up through the soil from industrially poisoned groundwater.

Mr Circelli, was responding to a claim by UniSA Professor Ravi Naidu, the managing director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation, that there are about 4000 contaminated sites in SA.

Mr Circelli said that claim was incorrect, but conceded the number “is in the thousands”.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said an audit was needed to clarify the exact number of contaminated sites and their locations. “The purpose of conducting a statewide audit would be to establish a hierarchy of sites based on potential public health risks,” he said.

“As well as playing an important community awareness role, the audit could also provide a benchmark for ongoing monitoring and evaluation of contaminated sites for the EPA and assist with any future contamination investigations………http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/toxic-sites-in-adelaides-suburbs-number-in-their-thousands/story-fni6uo1m-1226998071395?nk=38b4e03626cff750bb726e65c1a3e9f4

July 23, 2014 Posted by | environment, South Australia, water | Leave a comment

Despite Tony Abbott, Solar Power is shining in Alice Springs

Red Centre keeps shining as solar technology hub http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-22/alice-springs-solar-hub-technology/5613534  ABC Rural  By Lauren Fitzgerald Central Australia is continuing to attract international investment from the solar industry, despite the Alice Solar City initiative wrapping up more than a year ago. In its five-year history, the program helped hundreds of homes and businesses install solar panels and solar hot water systems.

The general manager of the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), Lyndon Frearson, says Alice Springs now also has a reputation as a hub for developing technology.

solar-stATION-aLICE-sPRINGS

He says companies from China, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Switzerland and America are all installing different solar PV modules at the CAT site. “The range of their investment varies depending on the size of the facility that they want to put in,” he said.

“Some of them are putting in little five-kilowatt systems as a test site, where they might be putting a number of small test sites around the world, through to a Swiss-based company which only has three R & D [research and development] facilities in the world, and they chose to build one of them here.

“And certainly those investments are in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Mr Frearson says local businesses like the Alice Springs Airport are also demonstrating an ongoing commitment to solar. “They received a subsidy to do their original project, but they’ve just [installed] 320 kilowatts off their own bat, completely their own investment. “And that’s both a maturing of the economics, that the solar panels are cheaper and the energy prices have changed.

“But it also shows a degree of confidence that they as an organisation and their board have in the technology to better run their business. “And there are a number of examples within Alice and broader afield throughout central Australia where different entities are making those decisions.

“So I think the legacy of Alice Solar City in central Australia is strong. “Certainly it’s something we see people talking about with pride, and we still see people outside of Alice focus very heavily on and see Alice Springs as a leader in this space.”

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, solar | Leave a comment

Victoria’s wind farms may be able to expand, after all

wind-turb-smWind companies question planning office response ENERGY companies will be allowed to make minor changes to wind farm planning permits from next month. Weekly Times 22 July 14, The move — which will pave the way for up to 964 turbines to be built across the state creating up to 2376 megawatts of wind energy — has been labelled a “change of heart” by Greens leader Greg Barber.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy said “we’re making a small adjustment to the planning scheme to allow existing wind farm planning permits to be amended, which may assist with upgrading turbine technology”……….http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/politics/wind-companies-question-planning-office-response/story-fnkerdda-1226997709510

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation doing well, expanding

Clean Energy Finance Corporation plans expansion after dodging axe   http://www.smh.com.au/business/clean-energy-finance-corporation-plans-expansion-after-dodging-axe-20140721-zvdhg.html#ixzz38MD2vaOK  July 22, 2014  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has capped its first year of operations, managing to avoid the federal government’s axe and generating more than $3 billion in investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

The CEFC issued more than $900 million in loans in the year to June 30 – backed by the private sector at the rate of $2.20 for each of its own dollars – securing the annual abatement of at least 4.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the process.

Chief executive Oliver Yates said the fund generated a “reasonable return” for the taxpayer, raising funds at the government rate of about 3.5 per cent and lending under commercial terms at about 7 per cent.

The CEFC aims to at least match last year’s investments this financial year, with many of the projects “very complementary” to the government’s $2.55 billion Direct Action plan to pay polluters, Mr Yates said.

“Our numbers to date are that energy efficiency upgrades to buildings are saving about 45 per cent in energy costs,” Mr Yates said. “The challenge for Direct Action is that you need to fund all the action before you get paid for it, and that comes down to who actually funds these projects.”

In its first year, the CEFC’s investments were split about 60-40 in favour of renewable energy – largely solar – over energy efficiency projects.

Insiders say morale remains high among the 50 or so staff despite the Coalition’s vow to scrap the fund, a move blocked by Labor, the Greens and lately the Palmer United Party.

“It’s a game of snakes and ladders and has been for a while,” Mr Yates said, noting the regular policy shifts including last week’s repeal of the carbon price and uncertainty over the government’s support for large-scale renewable energy target.

Despite that uncertainty, companies and banks continue to line up for new investment, particularly in small-scale solar photovoltaics (PV).

The CEFC announced on Tuesday it will provide as much as $120 million for three new solar PV financing programs, including $70 million for US-based SunEdison. Tindo Solar, the country’s only solar PV panel maker, will also get $20 million in loans.

The fund will also provide up to $80 million as part of a cornerstone investment with a unit of Colonial First State to create Australia’s first unlisted clean energy investment platform for institutional investors. Colonial First State will aim to raise as much as $500 million for investments.

Falling solar PV prices have made panels more attractive for residential and commercial users alike. Globally, solar PV investment fell 22 per cent last year but actual new capacity rose 27 per cent because of tumbling costs, according to the Renewable Energy Policy Network.

July 23, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

In Australia rooftop solar is starving profits from coal power

Australia-solar-plugGame-changing rooftop solar boom is squeezing the profits out of coal power in Australia http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/rooftop-solar-boom-squeezing-profits-coal-power-autralia.html Michael Graham Richard (@Michael_GR)  14 July 14

Solar power briefly turned electricity prices negative in Queensland Australia is known for its coal, which provides over 80% of its electricity and is a big export, but someday soon it might be known for its solar power. Thanks to rapidly falling solar PV prices, there’s been a rooftop solar boom in Australia. It’s now reaching a point where few coal generators made money last year, and even fewer will make profits this year… Wholesale energy pricing even briefly went negative in the middle of the day (see graph below) recently in the middle of the day in Queensland where there is 1.1 gigawatt of solar spread over more than 350,000 buildings.

Australia as a whole has about 3.4GW on 1.2 million buildings! Eventually, coal won’t be able to compete with solar at any price:

let’s imagine that the wholesale price of electricity fell to zero and stayed there, and that the benefits were passed on to consumers. In effect, that coal-fired energy suddenly became free. Could it then compete with rooftop solar?

The answer is no. Just the network charges and the retailer charges alone add up to more than 19c/kWh, according to estimates by the Australian energy market commissioner. According to industry estimates, solar ranges from 12c/kWh to 18c/kWh, depending on solar resources of the area, Those costs are forecast to come down even further, to around 10c/kWh and lower. (source)

The next step will be for people to get some storage and go off the grid to avoid having to pay these network charges. Australian solar installers are already reporting that “between 15 and 20 per cent of solar customers are asking about storage, and that rate is increasing each month.”

With companies like Tesla having ambitious goals to cut battery prices down over the next few years with gigafactories, the combo of cheap solar PV + cheap battery storage will be hard to beat. Dirty power sources will simply stop being competitive. Australia has lots of sun and high network costs, so it’s at the forefront of this movement. But most other countries will follow at their own pace. The best things we can do to accelerate the switch over to clean energy is to stop subsidizing fossil fuels, create regulation that is more friendly to rooftop solar (net-metering, for example), and put a price on carbon emissions.

July 21, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Solar battery hybrid storage system for Muswellbrook, New South Wales

Parkinson-Report-Photon to build solar plus storage unit for NSW broadcast tower REneweconmy, By  on 15 July 2014  German-based solar group Photon Energy is to install a large scale solar plus battery storage hybrid power system at a telecommunications tower in New South Wales that it says could be the fore-runner of thousands of such installations across the country.

The system, to be installed at a broadcast tower operated by BAI near Muswellbrook, will provide 24/7 power through a 39kW solar array and a 215kWh battery storage installation. An 8kW diesel generator will provide standby in emergencies.

Photon Energy says once successfully tested the concept could be implemented on thousands of sites across Australia.

Michael Gartner, the head of Photon Energy‘s Australian operations, said the project was a great step forward“ for solar power to provide clean and economically viable power supply for remote sites.

“The potential for solar PV in the replacement of conventional energy sources is substantial and will bring cost benefits and emissions savings for Australia in the coming years and decades.“

“… We can show how to incorporate solar PV into any given energy system and prove that using abundant sunlight for your own power consumption is the way forward.”……..http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/photon-build-solar-plus-storage-nsw-broadcast-tower-37262

July 21, 2014 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Axing of carbon tax will not really help your power bills

The Carbon Tax Is Dead, Long Live the ..? http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4399 18 July 14  The carbon tax is dead; but don’t expect to see a major difference in power bills – or for too long.
It doesn’t matter that many households were compensated for any impact of the scheme under the Household Assistance Package, or that the carbon tax  prevented 11 to 17 million tonnes  of carbon emissions.

Nor does it matter higher it resulted in some filthy brown-coal fired power stations being mothballed.

Like it or loathe it, it’s kaput. Spin bettered substance and Thursday’s passing of the repeal turned Australia from a leader to laggard.

“The repeal of Australia’s carbon price is a tragedy, not a triumph” said Michael Raupach Director, Climate Change Institute, Australian National University.

“It flies in the face of three giant realities: human-induced climate change, the proper role of government as a defender of the common good, and the emerging quiet energy-carbon revolution”.
According to the ABC, , consumers can expect to save between 20 and 50 cents each day on their electricity bills now the carbon tax has been repealed.

However, any financial benefit relating to power bills could quickly be eaten up by increases in other charges.For example, in New South Wales, Ausgrid wants increases of around 2 per cent a year over the next five years and TransGrid wants to raise prices by almost 4 per cent – this is just in relation to network charges.

Other states including South Australia have just implemented more electricity price rises. The average South Australian household will pay around $85 a year more.

In Queensland, households were recently hit with a 13.6 per cent increase, expected to cost the average household an extra $190 a year.

Depending what end of the scale of carbon tax savings are to be had, any relief may have already been gobbled up before many will receive their post-carbon tax bill.  Anyone planning to do something other than pay power bills with the perceived windfall may need to re-evaluate those plans.

July 21, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 216 other followers