Australian news, and some related international items

Local community funds Repower Shoalhaven renewable energy investment scheme

Repower Shoalhaven renewable energy investment scheme funded by locals, SMH, June 29, 2015 Kieran Gair First, it was the local bowling club. Then the churches. In the Shoalhaven, community solar power is on the rise.

Renewable energy is expected to supply almost 60 per cent of Australian electricity by 2040, according to research by  Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which found the fall in renewable energy prices  would drive a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

One community in NSW has already reaped the benefits of an early move to community-owned renewable energy. Non-profit Repower Shoalhaven installed Australia’s first investor-owned community solar project on the roof of the Shoalhaven Heads Bowling Club last year.

solar Shoalhaven Heads Bowling Club

Repower raised $145,000 for the project in just two weeks, with 80 per cent of the cost coming from “mum and dad” investors.

The company has just completed its second community solar investment project in the Illawarra region on Figtree Anglican Church and Nowra City Church.

Head of Repower Shoalhaven Chris Cooper said demand for renewable energy is growing as it becomes cheaper. “People want clean energy and they want secure investments and previously there was no real opportunity to do that so we created a system where the community pays for the solar power system and the business repays community investors via a power purchase agreement.

The Repower solar financing model allows local businesses to purchase community-owned renewable energy at a cheaper rate than grid power.

Figtree Anglican Church member and University of Wollongong Sustainable Building Research Centre masters student Daniel Jones said community owned solar had significantly reduced the overall electricity costs associated with running the church…….

July 1, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Waste from logging native forests is NOT renewable energy

Abbott government’s RET returns Australia to dark ages of energy production, June 26, 2015

 The Abbott government’s Renewable Energy Target legislation passed by the Senate this week means consumers will think they are buying so called “renewable energy” when it is actually generated from burning wood from unsustainable native forest logging.

The Australian Forests and Climate Alliance released this statement on June 23.

The Australian Forests and Climate Alliance (AFCA) has condemned today’s decision to make burning native forests eligible for Renewable Energy Certificates under the Renewable Energy Target.

“We are going back to using dirty medieval technology that pretends to be sustainable and clean”, said Jill Redwood of AFCA.

“In reality it will undermine real renewables like solar and wind. It will produce more emissions than burning coal and cause immense loss of ecosystems, wildlife and our greatest carbon stores. It’s hard to imagine a worse scenario.

“This is not about ‘waste’ from the forest floor, but is a deliberate waste of our forests. It is about financing the logging of forests as fuel for furnaces.

“The government has been doing grubby back room deals”, said Lorraine Bower from AFCA. “They have promised a Wind Farm Commissioner and tighter controls on wind power in return for the support of key cross bench senators for the wood ‘waste’ regulation.

“Perversely there is proven evidence that living near a biomass plant has major health risks, but none whatsoever have been found from living near a wind farm.”

“This regulation will simply prop up the dying and destructive native forest logging industry now that woodchips are out of favour with customers and the logging industry is 80% plantation based. To date electricity companies have undertaken not to sell ‘Dead Koala Power’. We will now do all we can to make sure people understand that they should steer clear of companies that sell it.”

“Government and UN agencies overseas are coming to the conclusion that this is not renewable energy’, said Redwood. “Investors and consumers are quickly consigning these polluting industries from the Dark Ages to the dustbin of history.”

July 1, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Big economic benefits to regional communities, from new wind and solar farms

renewable-energy-pictureRegional areas to reap economic benefits of new wind and solar farms after new RET passes Federal Parliament ABC Rural  By Catherine McAloon 26 June 15 Up to 50 new wind and solar farms are expected to be built in regional Australia, after a bill on a new Renewable Energy Target passed Federal Parliament this week.

An international consortium has announced plans to build a $450 million wind farm near Ararat, in western Victoria, and the Clean Energy Council expects it will be the first of many new projects.

“The Ararat wind farm really represents the first green shoots for an industry that’s been doing in extremely tough for the last 18 months,” the council’s Mark Bretherton said.

“We’re very confident that, with the bipartisan support that’s been restored to the Renewable Energy Target, we’ll see a lot more activity in this sector over the next few years.”

Mr Bretherton said between 30 to 50 major wind and solar projects, worth an estimated $10 billion, were expected to be built over the next five years, with most of those in rural areas.

“Most of the opportunity that we are going to see over the next five years will probably be in the wind and solar farm sector, so what that means is basically where there is the strongest wind and an opportunity to connect to the grid you’ll see wind farms, where there is the best sun, you’ll probably see some solar farms, particularly where there is enough land to build those kind of projects.” He predicted regional areas would see the greatest economic benefits of new renewable energy projects.

“That’s really good news, particularly for people who live in those areas. What it means is extra income being paid to farmers, direct jobs and it means money being paid for community projects as well.

“But apart from local jobs, it also means money is being spent at local restaurants, corner stores, equipment suppliers, motels, pie-sellers and much, much more.”………………

June 27, 2015 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

General Electric prepared to spend $billions on renewable energy in Australia

GE ready to spend billions on renewable energy  THE AUSTRALIAN,  , 26 June 15 

The local chief executive of global conglomerate GE says its head office has given the green light for the company to pursue potentially billions of dollars of new investments in renewable energy in Australia after bankrolling the nation’s third-biggest wind farm in southwest Victoria.

GE, in partnership with local firms Renewable Energy Systems and Downer, has secured a major contract for the supply of 75 wind turbines to the 240MW Ararat Wind Farm, a $450 million project financed by shareholders RES, GE, Switzerland-based investment manager Partners Group and Canadian pension group OPTrust.

The project was secured by the passage through parliament on Tuesday of a new renewable energy target of 33,000 ­gigawatt hours of electricity from large-scale renewable energy projects by 2020.

“We are putting $125m of equity into the deal and we would not have done that without the policy certainty we now have,” said Geoff Culbert, president and CEO, GE Australia, New Zealand and PNG.

He said GE wanted to be involved in projects that produced as much of the 33,000 gigawatt hours as possible, noting they would be worth “billions” of dollars.

“We see GE playing an active role in that build-out. We are very heavily focused on trying to build a pipeline of wind deals in Australia and that is recognised right back to head office,” he said.

“We have a pipeline of deals that we have been looking at but we haven’t been able to progress. Now we have certainty we have a pipeline we are going to aggressively pursue. Australia is a really attractive place to invest for GE and we have the support from headquarters to invest more here.”

Two years ago, GE was part of a consortium that received a contract to supply wind turbines for the 55MW Mumbida wind farm in Western Australia, the first use of GE wind turbines in Australia. But political uncertainty about the RET target put further investment by the group under a cloud.

OPTrust managing director Stan Kolenc said the breaking of the political deadlock over the renewable energy target this week would open the floodgates to international investors in the Australian renewables industry………

Mr Culbert declined to comment on Mr Abbott’s views, instead noting that he was optimistic about the future. There are now more than 60 wind projects across the nation.

“There is trillions of dollars sitting on the sidelines globally looking for a place to invest. When you create a market with policy certainty, you unlock that investment,” Mr Culbert said.

The Ararat project is also being supported by a power purchase agreement with the ACT government which guarantees the purchase of about 40 per cent of the energy produced at the site

June 27, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

South Australia’s Renewable Energy Future

map solar south-australiaRenewable energy future for South Australia MARK DIESENDORF | 25 JUNE 2015 The closure of Alinta Energy’s Leigh Creek Coal mine and two Port Augusta power stations will cost 438 jobs in South Australia, but over several years this could be transformed into an opportunity to create many new jobs in renewable energy.

South Australia’s wind and solar resources are huge, and SA is already the leading Australian state in non-hydro renewable energy utilisation, with about 40 per cent of its annual electricity consumption coming from wind and sunshine.

State electricity supply has operated reliably and stably for hours when the contribution of variable renewable energy reached two-thirds of demand, and wind power and gas coped admirably recently when the coal-fired Northern power station went unexpectedly offline.

The SA electricity system could be operated entirely on scaled-up, commercially available, renewable energy sources. This is the conclusion of the studies underlying my report to the Conservation Council of South Australia, now available online.

Our hourly simulation modelling at University of New South Wales shows the South Australian system could be supplied by a combination of variable renewable energy sources (wind and solar PV), and flexible, dispatchable sources (biofuelled gas turbines and concentrated solar thermal power with thermal storage).

It is the combination of variable and flexible sources that is the basis for reliability. Continue reading

June 25, 2015 Posted by | energy, South Australia | Leave a comment

Wind farm research: Tony Abbott’s strategy to delay development by creating uncertainty

You don’t need to remove a policy to kill investment. You only need to make things uncertain

wind-farm-evil-1More research is good, but not if wind experts are told what to find, The Conversation,  , 24 June 15  “………..Research on this topic doesn’t exist in a political or economic vacuum. It is well established that renewable energy broadly, and wind turbines in particular, are matters of significant political debate.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott last week asserted that his intention when renegotiating the Renewable Energy Target was to “reduce the number of these things (wind turbines) that we are going to get in the future”, while his government is also considering appointing a “wind commissioner” to address complaints about the industry.

Meanwhile, key members of the Senate Committee – including John MadiganDavid LeyonhjelmBob DayChris Back, and Matthew Canavan – have used their positions to speak stridently against wind energy. Against this backdrop, is it really possible to pause the world to undertake entirely neutral research?

Telling researchers how to research

There are allegations that suggest the Senate Committee is less interested in truly independent, high-quality research than its members might claim, and is instead recommending to the NHMRC the researchers whose work they would like to see included in future assessments……..

we’ve had inquiry after inquiry into this topic – with no rigorous scientific process finding any evidence of a human health impact – Continue reading

June 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, wind | Leave a comment

Australia’s Senate passes law to water down the Renewable Energy Target (RET)

Revised Renewable Energy Target Legislation Passes June 24, 2015 Legislation for a watered-down Renewable Energy Target (RET) was passed last night, ending nearly one and a half years of uncertainty for the Australian renewables sector.

The RET has now been officially slashed from 41,000 GWh to 33,000 GWh by 2020.

However, Australia’s Clean Energy Council says major renewable projects would now pick up pace; leading to $40 billion of investment and the creation of 15,200 jobs over the life of the RET, while helping to protect 20,000 current positions.

“While this has been a challenging process, and we are disappointed by the level of reduction of the target for large-scale renewable energy, the passage of this legislation provides the platform for a doubling of renewables over the next five years,” said Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton.

“The legislation also removes the two-yearly reviews of the scheme and ensures no changes to the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, which is great news for thousands of people working in the rooftop solar and solar hot water sectors.”  Continue reading

June 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott – dangerously wrong about energy policy

The BNEF report – see details on it here – predicts that households and business will account for more than half of Australia’s demand by 2040, and is the latest, and most comprehensive, of a series of reports that highlight the rapidly shifting sands of the global energy market, and the move from centralised generation to a decentralised future.

This has been canvassed by the likes of the CSIRO, the International Energy Agency, the biggest utilites, and global investment banks.UBS last month came up with a report stating that a scenario where 50 per cent of all electricity generation was provided by solar by 2050 could not be ruled out. Much of this would be behind the meter, on the rooftops of homes and businesses.

Morgan Stanley has predicted 2.4 million homes in Australia will have battery storage. 


Parkinson-Report-Tony Abbott in denial about Australia’s energy Abbott smilesfuture  By  on 23 June 2015 There was a brief exchange on the ABC TV’s Q&A program on Monday night that neatly summed up all that is wrong with Australia’s energy policy.

Grahame Morris – a former chief of staff to Coalition prime minister John Howard, and a corporate lobbyist who is influential in the government of Tony Abbott – had, in the words of host Tony Jones, steam coming out of his ears at the idea that wind and solar could offer a future energy solution. Flapping his arms about and pointing his finger, Morris exclaimed: “Look, not everyone wants a bloody big windmill in their backyard … nuclear power is clean … one of the problems with the third world with poverty is that they don’t have electricity. We have coal and we have uranium that can provide energy sources for those people. You are talking about poverty  … that is the answer.”

Morris also scoffed at the idea of  climate change and, with that, pretty much summed up the policy position of the Abbott government, its principal advisors, and the conservative think tanks that influence and applaud it.

It is a discourse – the belief in the primacy of centralised generation, be it coal or nuclear – that is guiding the Abbott government’s climate, energy and industrial policy. Disconcertingly, it is a view that spreads to the Labor Party, too, judging by the response of Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon, from the Hunter Valley.

It’s also parroting the key marketing point of Big Coal: one that ridicules or downplays climate science, talks down the need to act, and places its faith in ageing technologies. The push against wind farms is a symptom of the view that nothing can or should change, and green policy can’t be allowed to be right about anything.

But it is plain wrong, and dangerously so. Continue reading

June 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Wind farm set to be developed on Tasmanian cattle farm

Granville wind farm project awaits Senate vote, 23 June 15 HELEN KEMPTON Mercury THE 1900 cattle grazing on Tasmania’s most isolated farm will soon share the land with up to 33 wind turbines if Australia’s Renewable Energy Target is passed in the Senate tomorrow.

West Coast Wind plans to start construction of its wind farm on Royce Smith’s 1255ha beef property at Granville Harbour, outside Zeehan, at the end of the year. Already, a wind monitoring station is recording bankable energy data as investors in the $200 million project are secured. At 80m tall, the wind monitoring tower is as high as the turbines will be.

June 24, 2015 Posted by | Tasmania, wind | Leave a comment

Renewable energy will dominate Australia’s electricity in 25 years

Australia’s electricity ‘to be dominated by renewables’ in 25 years, : June 23, 2015 Renewable energy in Australia will outrun conventional means such as fossil fuels by 2040, accounting for 59 percent of electricity generation, according to energy analysts.

Rooftop solar systems are expected to squeeze out retiring coal and gas plants, the Guardian reports, referring to New Energy Outlook 2015, published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

However, analysts say that Australia’s carbon emissions from electricity are unlikely to fall significantly for at least two decades and will reduce only 9 percent by 2030 compared with 2014. Pollution will remain “stubbornly high” if the government doesn’t accelerate the closure of coal and gas plants.

It will be cheaper to replace retired electricity plants with wind or solar farms rather than with modernized coal plants even without the government’s participation, Kobad Bhavnagri, the head of Australia’s Bloomberg New Energy Finance, told the Guardian.

The Australian coal industry is currently focused on export and it has been “quite some time” since a new coal power station was built in Australia, he said………

If Australia places restrictions on fossil-fuels, it would be able to achieve 100 percent of renewable energy usage by 2040, Andrew Blakers, the director of the center for sustainable energy systems (CSES) at the Australian National University told the Guardian.

Moreover, the country would be able to achieve greenhouse neutrality a decade later if it switched to electric transport, including cars, trams and trains, he added.

“And it would be in everybody’s medium- and long-term interests to do so,” he said.

June 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

All year round vegetable production from huge solar glasshouse in New South Wales

solar glasshouseMassive solar-powered glasshouse in NSW Hunter Valley to employ refugees, migrants , ABC News, By Jackson Vernon  21 June 15 Construction is underway on Australia’s biggest glasshouse, in the New South Wales Hunter Valley, which is solar powered and already providing employment opportunities for new migrants and refugees.

Excavators have started the groundwork on the vegetable growing facility at Fullerton Cove, about 40 minutes outside of Newcastle. At more than 16 hectares, it will cover the size of 20 rugby fields.Dutch investor Cor Disselkoen has developed glasshouses throughout the Netherlands and has brought in materials and labour for construction here.

highly-recommendedOnce operating, the facility will produce 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes, cucumbers and capsicums every year. “We are producing 14 times more per square metre so we have a huge production compared to open field growing,” Mr Disselkoen said.

“It’s year-round, reliable, independent from whatever climactic circumstances so we can guarantee year around delivery to our clients.” Continue reading

June 21, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

We need a Coal Commissioner on health effects of coal mining

fossil-fuel-industryThe health consequences of the fossil fuel industry have been ignored for many years. On any comparison, it is unfair to focus exclusively on the health implications of wind turbines and, at the same time, ignore the health implications of other forms of energy production……..

Compared to the recommendations by the senate committee on wind turbines, the recommendations from the Hazelwood Coal Fire Inquiry were relatively tame.

Wind commissioner? Let’s have a coal commissioner too, The Conversation, Samantha Hepburn, 19 June 15  Wind turbines have got Canberra in a spin this week, with hearings underway from the senate inquiry into wind turbines and their possible health impacts. The committee yesterday released an interim report from chair John Madigan with seven recommendations to increase regulation around the wind industry.

dissenting report from Labor senator Anne Urquhart questioned the political timing of the report.

Meanwhile, a leaked email from environment minister Greg Hunt has offered crossbench senators a “wind farm commissioner” in return for support for the passage of renewable energy legislation.

But behind the politics, how do the report’s recommendations stack up?

The recommendations Continue reading

June 21, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | Leave a comment

Refuting the claims of the anti-wind farm brigade

wind-farm-evil-1 Senate told wind farms not bad for health
One of Australia’s leading health and medical research bodies has told a Senate inquiry there is no evidence that wind turbines make you sick.

The Federal Government has told key crossbench senators it’ll appoint a wind farm commissioner to handle complaints from residents concerned about wind turbines.
But the National Health and Medical Research Council says while it’s still investigating wind turbines, it’s satisfied they don’t pose much of a risk.

 Wind farm commissioner: Senator John Madigan defends proposal for fresh scrutiny on wind turbines; professor says ‘no evidence’ of health risks
Crossbench senator John Madigan accuses green groups of “shrill denials” over the issue of wind farms, after the Federal Government offered to appoint a special commissioner to look into complaints about the renewable energy …

Debate: Kelly O’Shanassy and David Leyonhjelm
The Prime Minister is proposing the creation of a wind farm commissioner to handle complaints about turbine noise and their alleged health impacts. Tony Abbott says the concerns need to be taken seriously. Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O’Shanassy and Liberal Democratic senator David Leyonhjelm debate the issue with Steve Cannane.

No need to investigate windfarms or alien abduction, says Greens leader Richard Di Natale
Greens leader Richard Di Natale has slammed critics of windfarms, saying there is no need to investigate them.

 Wind farm commissioner for Government’s ‘tin foil hat brigade’, say Greens
News of an Australian wind farm commissioner has renewed the old debate about the claimed health effects of wind turbines.

June 21, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | Leave a comment

Controversial Senators Madigan, Lambie and Leyonhjelm now determining Australia’s Energy Policy?

It seems to be the case of the mad right wagging the tail of the ultra conservative dog on energy policies. Senators Madigan, Lambie and Leyonhjelm all hold controversial views about climate science and wind farms – all being advised by noted long-term anti-wind activists.

Parkinson-Report-Abbott promises to Do Something about wind turbines  By  on 18 June 2015    The fate of Australia’s renewable energy target – and the wind industry in particular – is once again in the balance, after Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised anti-wind cross-bench Senators that he would take action to restrict or monitor wind farms.

Legislation cutting the RET to 33,000GWh from 41,000GWh had been expected to pass the Senate this week, finally giving the industry some certainty to invest, albeit in a much reduced target.

But Abbott’s refusal to cut a deal with Labor over the controversial issue of native wood waste has seen him turn instead – as predicted two days ago – to the senators who have already decided – like Abbott – that wind farms are ugly, dangerous to health, not very effective, and possibly constitute an act of treason.

Abbott – whose opinions on wind farms have been shaped by advisors who do not accept the science of climate change and his one encounter with a single turbine on Rottnest Island – met with Senator David Leyonhjelm  and other cross-benchers this week.

He  told the environment minister Greg Hunt – who told a radio station this week that “I know what you mean” when told that a single turbine in his electorate was “ugly” – to draft a letter to the cross benchers, outlining his commitments to get tough on wind farms.

The letter, according the The Guardian, includes a promise to appoint a wind-farm “commissioner” to monitor and act on complaints, an “independent” scientific committee (perhaps like the Warburton RET review) to liase with the Senate inquiry, and an undertaking to act on the Senate inquiry’s recommendations. Continue reading

June 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, wind | Leave a comment

Rooftop solar taking over in South Australia – the test State for Renewable Energy

Parkinson-Report-Rooftop solar to cut total grid demand to zero in South Australia, text-relevantREneweconomy  By  on 18 June 2015 See also Rooftop solar to overtake coal capacity before 2030

The Australian Energy Market Operator predicts that the growing uptake of rooftop solar by homes and businesses will reduce grid demand in South Australia on certain occasions to zero by 2023, highlighting the rapid change in the nature of energy markets, and the growing shift from centralised baseload generation.

The predictions from AEMO came in its 2015 National Electricity Forecasting Report, released on map solar south-australiaThursday. It says that the near 575MW of rooftop solar is already accounting for one-third of total grid demand on certain days in the state.

But within a decade this total could treble, pushing minimum demand required from the grid in the whole state to below 0MW (zero) on some occasions in 2023-24, and for several hours at a time by 2024/25 – when AEMO expects 1864MW of rooftop solar.

It says zero demand from the grid could last from 11.30am to 2.30pm local time on some days………..

South Australia will be a test case for Australia, and indeed the world, because of its high level of “variable renewables” such as wind and solar in its energy mix.  Continue reading

June 20, 2015 Posted by | solar, South Australia | 1 Comment


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