RET Impasse Costing Australian Renewables Millions http://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/ret-impasse-cost-em4594/ December 11, 2014 Energy Matters The Federal Government’s drawn-out review of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target is costing the sector between $400 and $500 million a year in lost investment, according to the Clean Energy Council.
An analysis by the CEC says the ongoing impasse will continue to wreak more than $400 million of damage every year to renewable energy projects already operating.
CEC Chief Executive Kane Thornton said the RET had delivered $10 billion worth of investment in large-scale projects to date; investments made in good faith that the legislated target would continue unchanged.
“A breakdown in that bipartisanship has had a material impact on the market confidence in the policy and is affecting the revenue that flows to those projects,” Mr Thornton said.
“We are staring down the barrel of job losses, business closures, negative financial effects on the $10 billion of renewable energy projects already operating, and a halt in the development of new large-scale renewable energy projects across the country.”
Referring to 2014 as a dark year for large scale renewables, Mr. Thornton points out more than $2 billion was invested in 2013, but the first three quarters of this year has seen a comparatively paltry $238 million invested – directly the result of the Federal Government’s apparent determination to gut the RET.
“If the government is genuine about its intent to resolve the current political impasse, move beyond its previous position and support a target that delivers a strong future for renewable energy in Australia, we would encourage Labor to return to negotiations,” said Mr. Thornton.n November, the ALP walked away from negotiations with the Federal Government that would have resulted in the dilution of the RET.
The CEC briefing paper “Lost opportunity and big costs: The impact of an unresolved RET review” can be downloaded here.
A very recent example of the impact the situation is having is in the NSW Southern Tablelands where a fourth generation farmer had hit tough times – and wind turbines were to be his saviour. However, with the continuing RET uncertainty,the farmer may still have to sell his property – one that has been in his family for four generations. This particular situation goes beyond this single farmer’s woes, with jobs and investment in the local region also at stake.
In October, a major wind turbine tower manufacturer in Victoria announced it will be shedding 100 jobs; partly due to the RET situation.
Even where concessions have been made concerning the RET, there still appears to be a great deal of devil in the detail. Yesterday, ClimateSpectator reported Environment Minister Hunt’s office communicated that “solar up to 100kw is proposed to stay in the SRES due to the red tape that would be involved if it moved into the LRET.”
There had been fears commercial solar would be lumped in with the large-scale target. Even this good news came with a potential barb. It’s unclear if up-front deeming will remain; i.e. whether the full government subsidy will continue to be made available upfront when a system is installed; rather than incrementally as the power is generated – as is the case with projects under the LRET
For the Mirrar Aboriginal people, a new era may be opening up, if ERA’s Ranger uranium mine finally closes
Uranium mining in Kakadu at a crucial point, SMH, 29 Nov 14 Peter Ker Resources reporter “……..place facing an uncertain future. Jabiru is a town in limbo. Four decades after arriving, uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) will decide soon whether it will continue digging here. There is a chance it will choose not to, which will bring down the curtain on perhaps nation’s most controversial mine, Ranger.
Built on the faultlines of environmental and indigenous land rights policy, Ranger is at a defining moment. It has provided fuel to nuclear power stations of the world but the end of its working life is in doubt.
The end of mining at Ranger would be cause for celebration for some. Continue reading
Uranium mining in Kakadu at a crucial point, SMH, Peter Ker, Resources Reporter, 29 Nov 14 “….. As fate would have it, ERA could barely have picked a worse time to evaluate a new uranium development.
Most Australian uranium miners haven’t made a profit since. ERA has received just $US46 ($54) a pound for its product during most of this year. That is 12 per cent below the price it received in 2009.
Commodity prices are not the only threat to the project going ahead. A series of events over the past year have shaken investors’ confidence.
A tank failure in December last year spewed toxic substances around the Ranger site and prompted a six-month shutdown. Despite official surveys suggesting none of the substances escaped into Kakadu, a fierce debate ensued over the mine’s social licence to operate in such a delicate and difficult location.
The exploration results for the project have also fuelled concerns, with some analysts expressing alarm at the quality of some sections of the underground geology and cases of unstable rock formations.
At the same time ERA’s 68 per cent shareholder, Rio Tinto, is aggressively cutting back capital spending on new projects.
With Rio focused on boosting dividends rather than building large numbers of new mines, many doubt it will be willing to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars that would be required to go ahead with a new underground mine at Ranger.
When the geological concerns were reported to the market in July, Credit Suisse published the most pessimistic research note on the project to date.
“We believe the results of the Deeps resource drilling are poor,” the note said.
“Ranger Deeps either adds value or there is close to none, and risks are increasing towards the latter. If ERA announces at the end of this year that Ranger Deeps is not viable, then the share price should collapse to very low levels.”……..
JP Morgan analysts said the weak uranium prices, combined with the 2021 expiry of the mining lease, put ERA in a difficult position.
“We believe the project likely needs prices of $US50 per pound to $US60 per pound over the life of the project,” they wrote. ……..
ERA chief Andrea Sutton said the geological results had been consistent with expectations, and sufficiently good for the company to conduct less drilling than planned.
The spot uranium price enjoyed a small surge in early November, and while the longevity of that rise is unclear, Sutton said the company was confident the price would rebound in the medium term……….http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/uranium-mining-in-kakadu-at-a-crucial-point-20141128-11vmr3.html
Paladin continues uranium plunge, Yahoo 7 News, Nick Evans November 14, 2014 A surge in the uranium spot price failed to help Paladin Energy’s bottom line, with the company declaring a net after-tax loss from operations of $US45.8 million for the September quarter.
According to Paladin’s latest financial results, released late yesterday, revenue for the quarter crashed 43 per cent to $US39.3 million………
The unexpectedly big loss will put further pressure on Paladin’s balance sheet, despite the completion of a $US190 million company-saving deal with China National Nuclear Corporation for the sale of a 25 per cent stake in Langer Heinrich. Closure of the deal left Paladin with cash holdings worth $US209.5 million at September 30.
Paladin also refinanced its existing $US110 million project finance loan and $US20 million working capital facility in the quarter, and used some of the CNNC cash to pay down debt.
But the company still faces the task of refinancing $US300 million of convertible bonds maturing next November, as well as paying $US40.4 million in interest and principal repayments before next September…….https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/business/wa/a/25512522/paladin-continues-uranium-plunge/
Will Abbott and Newman show us their coal portfolios? Will they hold their investments until 2020? olddogthoughts November 16, 2014 Standing up for coal – Abbott and Newman give investment advice November 16, 2014 by: Kaye Lee
Tony Abbott has told a G20 leaders’ discussion on energy he was “standing up for coal” as the Queensland government prepares to unveil new infrastructure spending to help the development of Australia’s largest coal mine.Abbott, who recently said coal was “good for humanity”, also endorsed the mine, proposed by the Indian company Adani, to the meeting.
The Australian government has given all environmental and regulatory clearances for the $7.5 billion coal mining, rail and port project, said Gautam Adani, chairman, Adani Group, in an interview to The Indian Express.
And Campbell Newman is happy to put your money where his mouth is. “We are prepared to invest in core, common-user infrastructure,” Mr Newman said. “The role of government is to make targeted investments to get something going and exit in a few years’ time.”
Despite poor market conditions, high costs and the massive outpouring of concern over the environmental impacts of their projects, Indian companies GVK and Adani remain hell-bent on opening up the Galilee Basin in Queensland. The smallest mine is as large as Australia’s biggest operating coal mine and the largest, twice the size. All of the proposals in the Galilee Basin would produce enough coal to chew up 7% of the world’s remaining carbon budget, drastically reducing our chances of keeping a lid on global warming.
Adani and fellow Indian company GVK are pushing their projects and Adani wants to start construction early next year, but the key problem is access to funds.
Few banks are willing to lend when coal prices are so low and the industry is facing issues with climate change.
There are also issues with both companies………………….. Continue reading
The slide in investment has seen China consolidate its position as the world’s renewable energy powerhouse, according to the Climate Council Report, Lagging Behind: Australia and the Global Response to Climate Change.
“Investment that could be coming to Australia is instead going overseas to countries that are moving to a renewables energy future,” report’s co-author, Professor Tim Flannery said. “Unfortunately the lack of federal government commitment to renewable energy is hurting the industry.”
Australia has come under pressure to cut its carbon emissions deeper after the European Union last week agreed on a new target of 40 per cent by 2030.
The agreement, labelled by the EU as a new global standard, also includes a 27 per cent target for renewable energy by 2030. The coalition government has said it will consider a new post-2020 target in early 2015 before a United Nations conference in Paris, where a new commitment will be discussed and possibly settled.
Prof Flannery said over the past year investment in Australian renewable energy projects dropped 70 per cent, while China installed more renewable energy capacity than fossil fuels in 2013. Continue reading
BHP offers little hope of revisiting Olympic Dam expansion The global miner shelved plans for the multi-billion-dollar expansion in 2012 after a year-long study. MineWeb 03 Nov 2014 SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Expansion by BHP Billiton’s giant Olympic Dam mine in Australia, once considered among its prized growth assets, is off the agenda due to low metals prices and productivity inefficiencies, the company said on Friday.
BHP shelved plans for a multi-billion-dollar expansion of the copper, gold and uranium mine in 2012 after a year-long study, citing a need to reign in spending as the Australian mining boom started to fade.
Since then business leaders and politicians, including Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have implored BHP to reconsider its decision, hoping to alleviate job losses caused by the exit of car manufacturing inAustralia.
But BHP has stood firm and on Friday reiterated its mothballing of expansion plans for Olympic Dam. http://www.mineweb.com/mineweb/content/en/mineweb-gold-news?oid=258553&sn=Detail
Uranium producer Cameco reports a third-quarter loss By Jim Brumm StarNewsOnline.com, November 3, 2014 “……..The Canadian uranium producer reported a third-quarter loss last week after writing off its $184 million investment in Global Laser, citing General Electric’s unexpected July cut in funding to “pace our investment in line with market.”
At the time Silex, the Australian owner of the laser technology, said GE responded “to worsening trading conditions in the global nuclear fuel markets, initially triggered by the events in Fukushima, Japan, in March 2011.”
“The market has declined more than 50 percent since” the Global Laser project started in 2007, GE spokesman Christopher White said in July without describing the measurement cited………
Cameco’s charge indicates a total Global Laser worth of $767 million and values GE’s 51 percent at $391 million. Hitachi, which owns the remaining 25 percent, hasn’t discussed a charge.
GE has declined to discuss the dollar value of the Global Laser charge it took against second-quarter earnings, but Nuclear Intelligence Weekly put the amount at $194 million. That would be 49.6 percent of the total value of GE’s Global Laser holdings as indicated by Cameco. http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20141103/ARTICLES/141109942/-1/topic24?Title=Uranium-producer-Cameco-reports-a-third-quarter-loss-
I switched to Powershop recently, I had several satisfactory years of fully renewable energy with AGL. But now I am especially glad about the switch. Apart from Powershop being cheaper and more efficient – it IS dedicated to renewable energy. And alas, looks as if AGL has now gone well and truly over to the dark side. (See the article further down this page.)
ETU branch urges members to back Powershop http://www.heraldsun.com.au/business/breaking-news/etu-branch-urges-members-to-back-powershop/story-fnn9c0hb-1227105301934 JOHN CONROY OCTOBER 28, 2014
The Electrical Trades Union – Victorian Branch (ETU) has announced that it will be recommending an electricity offer with new Victorian market entrant and renewable energy backed electricity retailer Powershop to its members.
ETU State Secretary Troy Gray said: “We are urging our 20,000 strong membership in Victoria to switch to Powershop to show their support for the Renewable Energy Target (RET) and Australia’s renewable energy future.”
“For us it was a no brainer. Powershop has been ranked the greenest energy company in Australia by Greenpeace, they are backed by 100 percent renewable energy generator Meridian, they are the only energy company to put up a fight to defend the Renewable Energy Target and the jobs and investment it creates and they are 100 percent carbon neutral too.”
“Our research indicated that companies, like Powershop, who support the RET, are 20-30 per cent cheaper than those who oppose it. The Warburton Review of the RET failed to make the case that the RET drives up power prices and with Powershop we know that our members can back renewable energy and the RET and save money.
“Importantly, by encouraging our members to switch to Powershop, we can also help break the cycle of the big three energy companies (AGL, Origin and Energy Australia) ripping off our members with rapacious deals and self serving energy policies.”
“For too long, our members, and other consumers across Victoria, have been in the grip of an oligopoly that has kept them at arms length from their own energy usage data. The emergence of Powershop, enabled by the RET, has brought unprecedented levels of innovation and choice to a broken market.”
Powershop is backed by Australasia’s largest renewable energy company, NZ-based Meridian Energy. It launched on the Victorian market in February 2014 and has recruited over 20,000 customers to date. Powershop says it is a modern power company that’s designed from the ground up with the sole purpose of empowering consumers and saving them money.
The company has been working to make the case that renewable energy reduces the cost of electricity for consumers. When Renew Economy reviewed submissions to the RET review from energy companies in June 2014, Powershop was found to be “the only retailer to call unequivocally for the current (renewable energy) target to be retained.”
The ETU will not be receiving a payment from Powershop related to this offer to its members. ETU members switching to Powershop through this offer will each receive a sign up credit payment.
AGL Energy – once the ‘greenest’ retailer in the country and now the largest producer of coal-fired energy – has called for the renewable energy target to be scrapped altogether.
As speculation increased in Canberra and media circles that the Abbott government and Labor would agree on a compromise that would result in a significant hair-cut to the current 41,000GWh target, AGL intervened in the debate by saying that was not good enough – the RET should be dumped completely.
Chief executive Michael Fraser, who has overseen the change in AGL Energy’s business model fromgreen to black, says the RET policy is broken. He endorses the controversial Warburton Review’s more extreme finding that the target should be dumped altogether.……..
There are a couple of issues with what Fraser has said. For a start, as all the inquiries to date have found, the RET has actually worked very well. It spurred billions of dollars of investment, thousands of jobs, and in states such as South Australia has caused dramatic falls in emissions.
What has caused the hiatus in the last two years is the uncertainty caused by the Abbott government’s review, and the inability of developers to get power purchase agreements from the likes of AGL Energy and others, and therefore to get finance. Still, the government likes to use the ‘target is impossible’ argument – despite its own modelling rejecting the idea. ……
AGL Energy has an interest in not having a carbon price, or a renewable energy target, particularly since its purchase of the 2.2GW Loy Yang A brown coal generator, and the 4.6GW Bayswater and Liddell coal-fired generators in NSW. That changed the colour of its revenues to $12 black for every $1 of green energy.
As it made clear in July, its long-term business interests now lie firmly in removing environmental policies such as the carbon price and renewables:
‘While the removal of the carbon tax and associated transitional assistance has a negative impact on the short-term earnings of the Loy Yang A power station, it has a materially positive impact on its long-term value. Any reduction in the Renewable Energy Target would also have a positive impact on the value of Loy Yang A.’ Ditto for Macquarie Generation.
AGL Energy, therefore, has an interest in ensuring that carbon and renewables do not trouble its business plan. ………http://www.echo.net.au/2014/10/agl-energy-calls-renewables-target-scrapped-completely/
Germany’s renewable energy incentives and regulations attracting Australian companies Yahoo News, By Emily Stewart for The BusinessOctober 29, 2014, 1
An Australian company which invented a renewable energy electricity generator says it was forced to move its operation to Germany because of a lack of opportunities in Australia.
Ceramic Fuel Cells, a Melbourne-based CSIRO spin-off company, said its generator could cut electricity bills by up to 50 per cent for households and small businesses.
But the company moved its operations to Germany two years ago to benefit from generous German government subsidies not on offer in Australia.
“This is what we need right now,” the company’s Germany-based managing director, Frank Obertnitz said.
“We are at an early stage. We need to commercialise the product and the incentives in Europe are much better for that.”
Germany is in the middle of an energy transition it calls Energiewende, which aims to shut down nuclear plants, reduce carbon emissions and increase electricity produced from renewable sources.
“After Chernobyl, and then Fukushima, the German population said no to nuclear,” said Dr Patrick Graichen of the influential think-tank, Agora Energiewende.
The program was accelerated after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. Before then, Germany was heavily reliant on nuclear and fossil fuels………..https://au.news.yahoo.com/vic/a/25372077/germanys-renewable-energy-incentives-and-regulations-attracting-australian-companies/
Going nuclear: Australia’s Macquarie buys Deutsche uranium book -source By David Sheppard LONDON, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Australian investment bank Macquarie Group has bought Deutsche Bank’s uranium book, a source familiar with the matter said, as the increasingly commodities-focused lender pushes deeper into global energy trading.
The deal includes Deutsche’s long-term trading contracts and stockpiles of low-grade uranium yellowcake, which were valued at the end of last year at around $200 million.
Industry experts say they comprise enough uranium to fuel around 10 average-sized nuclear power plants for 12-18 months………
Trading firms hold uranium stockpiles in warehouses specially licensed to store the fuel, like U.S. conglomerate Honeywell International Inc’s ConverDyn facility in Illinois; Cameco’s Port Hope facility in Ontario; and Areva SA’s facility in France. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/22/macquarie-uranium-commodities-idUSL6N0SH3PN20141022
Divestors painting themselves into the uranium corner, JAMES KIRBY THE AUSTRALIAN OCTOBER 11, 2014
SUDDENLY the urge to “divest” is reaching fever pitch. Inside a couple of weeks there has been more noise than we have had in years as universities, religious groups and super funds announce they are “getting out of polluters”.
Indeed, the ANU’s plan to divest itself of seven resource companies, including oil and gas major Santos, has been branded a “disgrace” by federal Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs.
Like most trends, this started in the US where a number of leading funds have been loudly exiting resource stocks. The rush reached something of a climax in recent weeks when the heirs of Standard Oil founder John D Rockefeller said they were getting out of oil.
Now Australia will mark a national “Divestment Day of Action” targeted largely at banks that invest in resources on October 18, an initiative backed by 350.org………
ANU defends divestments, says fossil fuels companies must diversify into new energy, The Age Heath Aston, political correspondent October 13, 2014 – The head of the Australian National University has defended a decision to dump certain resources stocks from the university’s $1 billion investment portfolio on ethical grounds, saying fossil fuel-reliant companies will not survive the next 20 to 30 years unless they diversify into new energies……
ANU is the first Australian university to divest from fossil fuels but in the United States 19 universities have sold out of investments deemed unethical or a risk to the environment, including the prestigious Stanford University, which has purged its $US19 billion ($22 billion) investment fund. ANU modelled its socially responsible investment policy on that of Stanford.
Professor Young said there had been a “torrent of support” from students and the wider community.
“They have been saying ‘don’t back down’,” he said. “There is tremendous enthusiasm out there around environmental issues and investment.”
ANU Student Association president Cam Wilson said 82% of 2000 students polled before the university made its decision supported divestment.
In an opinion piece written for Fairfax Media, Professor Young, whose ocean research has resulted in his consulting to a range offshore gas and oil companies, questioned the short-term thinking of the divestment critics.
“What will our industries be in 20 or 30 years’ time?” he writes. “I am confident they will not be in producing fossil fuels.”
He told Fairfax Media: “I don’t think fossil fuels will be a big part of the world economy in 20 to 30 years’ time. But, that said, there is a big opportunity for these companies to change the mix of what they produce.”
While seven resources stocks were dumped, ANU has retained investments in mining groups BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, as well as in Woodside Petroleum and Wesfarmers.
Professor Young said those groups were more diversified and showed signs of evolving to new energy sources in future……. http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/anu-defends-divestments-says-fossil-fuels-companies-must-diversify-into-new-energy-20141012-114ypp.html
Toro seeks to expand planned WA uranium mine ABC News By David Weber 8 Oct 14
A company hoping to become the first to export uranium from Western Australia has released plans for an expansion of its currently untapped mine in the state’s mid-west.
Toro Energy last year received federal environmental approval for the Wiluna project to exploit the Lake Way and Centipede deposits.
But a new environmental scoping document included two more deposits, Millipede and Lake Maitland.
The plans are open for comment with the state’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)………
the WA Conservation Council said the existing conditional approval should be revoked and a completely new assessment done.The council’s Mia Pepper said the added impacts of an expansion needed to be considered.”While they might think that they know a lot, there’s a lot of impacts that are unknown when you add additional deposits,” she said.
“You add additional land clearing and impact area.”What they need to do and what they should be doing as any responsible company would is look at the cumulative impacts of that increase.”
Mr Yeeles said the start of mining was some way off.
“The market is not right, the price is not right for mining at the moment but by the time we complete the assessment for Millipede and Lake Maitland, we would expect the market conditions to have improved,” he said.
Toro expects the assessment process may take up to two years. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-06/uranium-miners-toro-seek-project-expansion-at-wiluna-site/5794318