Australian news, and some related international items

The farce that is the Australian government’s Renewable Energy Review

Parkinson-Report-“Farcical” start to Tony Abbott’s renewable energy review, REneweconomy,  By  on 24 April 2014 Tony Abbott’s controversial review of Australia’s renewable energy target (RET) made a “farcical” start to its public deliberations on Wednesday, attracting new accusations of bias and of having a pre-determined outcome.

Clean energy representatives were shocked by the panel’s appointment as chief advisor and modeller of ACIL Allen, a consultancy seen as close to the fossil fuel industry, and whose highly contested research formed the basis of the coal industry’s attempts to dismantle the RET in 2012.

Not only will ACIL Allen do the modelling for the RET Review panel, some of the assumptions that will form the basis of that modelling have also stunned the clean energy industry, and been branded as a farce.

This includes an apparent refusal to measure the benefits of renewable energy – including the health benefits, job benefits, and the network benefits – which the panel has dismissed as “too hard to model” and little more than a “transfer of wealth”, presumably away from the coal generators and network providers. There is concern about how it will model the reduction in wholesale prices – the main complaint from the existing fossil fuel industry.

Around 50 people who attended the RET Review panel’s modelling forum at the Mercure hotel near Sydney’s international airport were also told that the modelling will assume that there will be no carbon price out to 2030, and will not factor in any abatement targets. In other words, it is assuming there will be no carbon restrictions on the sector for another two decades.

John Grimes, the CEO of the Australian Solar Council, echoed the thoughts of many who attended the meeting and were interviewed by RenewEconomy when he said it appeared clear that the RET Review will serve only to protect the vested interests in the current electricity market.

“I’ve got to say – this is much worse than we had anticipated,” Grimes said. “This entire review process needs to be revealed for the sham that it is … we can only conclude that the RET Review process is heading to a biased and predetermined outcome.

“Instead of making customer benefits the key measure of a successful energy market, this review is set to side with big business, giving little or no weight to the benefits of solar for householders, business and the community.

“Clearly any model that fails to consider a carbon price (in any form) up to 2030, in the face of international action on climate change, is negligent and lacks any credibility. “ The RET review was already controversial because of the Abbott government’s decision to by-pass the Climate Change Authority (which dismissed the ACIL Allen modelling and the coal industry’s protestations in its 2012 review), and appoint a panel led by climate change denierand pro-nuclear advocate Dick Warburton.

He will be supported by fossil fuel lobbyist and former ABARE chief Brian Fisher, and Shirley In’t Veld, the former head of WA’s biggest coal generator, Verve Energy. The secretariat will be housed in Abbott’s own department.

Clean energy attendees said they were shocked by some of the statements – including Warburton’s apparent ignorance that the Abbott government went to the election with a “million solar rooftops” commitment, as well as assumptions by the panel that the current 41,000GWh could not physically be met.

The panel reportedly claimed that no large renewable energy projects would be able to be built for another 18 months, and no more than 1,000MW to 1,200MW of wind capacity would be possible in a single year, making it impossible to reach the current target. Both these claims were reportedly vigorously contested by the representative of the Clean Energy Council.

However, it was ACIL Allen’s appointment that confirmed the worst fears of the renewable energy industry……….

Even the Murdoch-owned Business Spectator made a spectacular demolition of ACIL Allen’s research, pointing to its previous reports that claimed that carbon pricing would eradicate the LNG industry, would force the closure of all brown coal generators by 2020, its predictions that geothermal would account for 30 per cent of the Renewable Energy Target, and how on two occasions it grossly miscalculated the uptake of rooftop solar……..

the problem that the renewable energy industry faces – incumbents and ageing engineers and business people who reject the science, simply do not understand or accept that renewable energy sources can be effective and cost competitive, and cannot imagine an energy system any different to the centralised model that has dominated for the past 100 years, and/or who are merely seeking to protect their vested interests.

The problem is that not only do they now have the ear of the current government, they have their hand on the wheels – and their foot on the brakes.

April 25, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

South Australian scheme to install solar panels at no cost

Tindo Solar will install solar panels free for 5000 businesses and households RICHARD EVANS THE ADVERTISER APRIL 23, 2014 A NEW solar scheme could get thousands of SA households equipped with free panels and paying cheaper bills for life.

Mawson Lakes solar panel manufacturer Tindo Solar will install solar panels free for an estimated 5000 businesses and households around the state in the next year.

However, if the scheme proves popular the company says there will be no cap on the number of people able to sign up.

Customers will pay for electricity for an agreed time frame of up to 15 years before owning the panels outright.Tindo business and people manager Richard Inwood said the scheme would be a “game changer” and revolutionise the electricity market in Australia. 

“Instead of us selling the system, we’re selling the electricity that that system is generating – that electricity is going to pay off that system,” he said.“We have now become a retailer of 100 per cent green energy that is cheaper than what can be purchased from the grid.”

Solar Tindo South Aust

“SA Power Networks made more than $300 million profit last financial year – that shows how much fat is in there.”

Tindo Solar secured a $30 million loan, under the Federal Government-funded Clean Energy Finance Corporation, last week to install the systems with more money available if demand exceeds expectations, Mr Inwood said.

He said the scheme would provide customers with daytime electricity prices that were 20 to 30 per cent cheaper than most other providers. “Energy has increased around 70 per cent in the last seven years,” he said. “If you look at the average electricity cost per kilowatt it’s 35 to 42 cents per kilowatt – we will provide you with a price of around 25c a kilowatt.”

“Price rises will be no more than one per cent per annum and we want to take the worry around energy price increases away from the public generally and give them certainty. It’s the long term certainty over your energy bills that is exciting.”

Mr Inwood said the company guaranteed its flagship panels had a 240V AC output, with testing at Tindo of other imported panels installed in South Australia revealing the actual output often does not always match the higher voltage promise and brings associated safety compromises.

He said an anticipated upsurge in business for the Mawson Lakes business could mean more jobs for the company.

“Recruiting and on-boarding of factory staff could take as little as four weeks,” he said.

“We currently have 24 staff and would see this at least treble if we are to get the $30 million spent in two years which is what is required.”

Mr Inwood said the State Government also supported the scheme with a tender for 200 public housing homes in the pipeline.


 Upfront cost – $0.

Repayment time frame – up to 15 years – longer in some cases. Customer will own the system at the end of the agreement.

Price per kilowatt – 20-30 per cent cheaper than traditional energy providers.

Annual price rises – up to 1 per cent a year.

Expected uptake – 5000 businesses and households in the next year.

READ MORE: Tindo Solar welcomes ACCC probe into solar advertising

April 25, 2014 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

AUIDIO: Australia falling behind in the electricity energy revolution

AUDIO: The price of power ABC Radio Background Briefng 27 Apr 14 With Australian electricity prices amongst the highest in the world, more and more households are going solar. The big power companies say the Renewable Energy Target is undermining their businesses and they want it wound back. The federal government agrees, so who is to blame for the high price of power? Jess Hill investigates……….Mr Abbott’s claim that the renewable energy target is expensive is not supported by the data. The Australian Energy Markets Commission says the renewable energy target adds four per cent to the average electricity bill. For an average household, that’s about a dollar a week.

‘For all of the attention that carbon price has got, from the increasing attention the renewable energy target’s got, the main reason that electricity has been getting dearer is the overinvestment in poles and wires, and the fundamental inefficiency in the way that the national electricity market’s working,’ says Richard Denniss, executive director of the Australia Institute.

Federal Treasury estimates that 51 per cent of an average household bill is spent on network costs. Most of that is going towards paying off the $45 billion network companies have spent on updating our poles and wires over the last five years………Solar rooftops are wreaking havoc on the traditional power industry, says Mr Denniss, because they produce the most amount of energy at the time of day when the power industry makes the most money.

‘Solar panels have got this great trick, they make lots of electricity when the sun is shining; that’s when we like to turn our air conditioners on,’ he says. ‘When everybody turns their electricity on at four o’clock on a hot Thursday afternoon, we have enormous demand for electricity for these short periods of peak demand. And that’s when solar panels are at their best.’

‘Solar panels are actually pumping quite a large amount of energy in during these periods of peak demand, and that’s pushing down the peak price. Now that’s great for everybody, except the so-called baseload power stations. Because the baseload power stations used to be able to sell their electricity for a much higher price at four o’clock on that hot Thursday afternoon. From the coal-fired power station point of view, you couldn’t have a worse competitor, because solar is at its best when the market is at its most profitable.’

What that means is that the big coal-fired power plants are earning less for the energy they produce. That’s because Australia has more electricity than it can use………The chair of the Climate Change Authority is Bernie Fraser, a former Reserve Bank governor. He says that just by holding another review, the government has ensured that the 41,000 gigawatt-target won’t be met. ‘Investment is actually being cut back and delayed, and I think because of that, I think it’s apparent now that the 41,000 gigawatts for large renewable energy power plants, is not going to happen. It’s going to be a lesser figure and I think that’s what the opponents, the critics of renewable energy want to see.’

‘Policymakers need to look beyond short-term economic considerations in the interests of some of the big companies to longer-term community interests. And that’s what governments are supposed to do, but unfortunately it’s not happening at the present time,’ he says.

So it’s a bit… well, it’s more than a bit, it’s very disappointing that we’re falling behind, and we are falling behind what many other countries are doing.’

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

Sydney shows the way – communities can switch to clean renewable energy


The City of Sydney has recognised the potential of community energy in its roadmap to move the city towards 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the IPCC’s most recent report has again underlined the extreme urgency of action on . “Addressing climate change will require action at all levels. Empowering communities to develop their own local, renewable energy projects will help deliver more clean energy,” Cr Moore said.

Communities can drive urgent switch to clean energy  Apr 22, 2014 Australia will continue to lag behind countries like the United States and Germany in heeding the UN’s latest call to urgently switch to clean sources of energy unless the burgeoning community energy sector is allowed to thrive, according to a UTS researcher. Community-owned renewable energy generation in towns and cities around the country can stimulate regional development, provide more resilient and inexpensive energy security and significantly contribute to Australia’s climate mitigation targets, UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures researcher Nicola Ison said.

“A growing number of communities, including local councils, are recognising this, however there are significant regulatory and institutional barriers that need to be overcome,” Ms Ison said.

“Across the world renewable energy is changing the way citizens and organisations think about and use energy. In the United States, more than 1,500 wind farms are owned by communities across 27 states and in Germany, customers own two thirds of all renewable energy generated.

“Councils, as large energy users in local communities and facilitators of local action in their own right, can play an increasingly important role in this transition.”

The City of Sydney has recognised the potential of community energy in its roadmap to move the city towards 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the IPCC’s most recent report has again underlined the extreme urgency of action on . Community-owned renewable energy generation in towns and cities around the country can stimulate regional development, provide more resilient and inexpensive energy security and significantly contribute to Australia’s climate mitigation targets, UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures researcher Nicola Ison said.

“A growing number of communities, including local councils, are recognising this, however there are significant regulatory and institutional barriers that need to be overcome,” Ms Ison said.

“Across the world renewable energy is changing the way citizens and organisations think about and use energy. In the United States, more than 1,500 wind farms are owned by communities across 27 states and in Germany, customers own two thirds of all renewable energy generated.

“Councils, as large energy users in local communities and facilitators of local action in their own right, can play an increasingly important role in this transition.” Continue reading

April 24, 2014 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott has effectively stopped Australian large scale renewable energy

Abbott-destroyerAustralian large-scale renewable energy projects at standstill By  on 16 April 2014

It appears that the Abbott government – and its hard right sympathisers that want to bring a halt to large-scale renewable energy deployment in Australia – have achieved their policy goals, without even having to release a policy. New data shows that no new large-scale renewable energy projects – be they wind farms, solar farms or some other – have been committed in the first quarter of 2014. This follows a bleak calendar 2013 when just four large-scale projects were committed; none of them directly financed by the renewable energy target.

This is despite the fact that existing policy calls for 41,000GWh of renewable energy to be provided across Australia by 2020. However, the renewable energy industry, along with the utilities that must acquit their obligations, and the banks that would finance these projects, are convinced that the target will be severely reduced, if not dismantled.

This pessimism is reflected in the market for large-scale renewable energy certificates, which have slumped to $28.55, down 15 per cent from late December, and down nearly half from before the election of the Abbott government last September.

The pessimism has infected the industry since early 2013, when, despite the findings by the Climate Change Authority that the LRET should stay as is, the equivocation of the Coalition, and its presumed success in the September poll, brought the market to a halt.

According to data from Green Energy Trading – a major player in the market for renewable energy certificates, only four new projects have been “committed”  since the start of 2013. Of these, the 53MW Broken Hill and 102MW Nyngan solar power stations are mostly financed from the now defunct Solar Flagships project, with large grants from the federal and state governments; and the 20MW  Royalla solar plant in Canberra is getting a fixed tariff as part of the local government’s reverse auction program.

The only new wind farm approved in the last year – a 47MW extension to Pacific Hydro’s Portland projects – seems to have been committed because it received financing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the $10 billion green bank that the Coalition wants to dismantle, despite it making a profitfor the government.

The only other new projects that are likely to be committed in the short-term are the other solar projects in the ACT, and the wind projects that will be awarded in its forthcoming auction. (It should be noted that committed projects are different to “approved” projects, which merely means they have approval to be built, but not necessarily the finance).

Those solar and wind projects, part of the ACT government’s commitment to a 90 per cent renewable energy target, do not rely on the LRET. However, the proposal for new wind farms is being vigorously opposed by conservative politicians, both state and federal, as well as the Murdoch press.

Green Energy Trading estimates that if the market for LRECS is to maintain an acceptable level of market liquidity, around 4,450 MW of new projects need to be committed in the three-year period from 2014 to 2016. That is unlikely to happen until the RET review is completed mid year, and then considered by the Abbott government.

However, if the incumbent electricity industry has its way, there will be no new projects built before 2017 at the least. This is its estimate of the impact of the LRET target being reduced to a “real” 20 per cent target, which might equate to a new fixed target of around 26,000GWh.

Numerous studies have shows that not only will this result in a sharp fall in the deployment of wind and solar, it will also mean more coal-fired generation. And a new study from French energy products giantSchneider Electric says cutting the renewables target will also mean higher prices for consumers. This came as a surprise to the large energy users that commissioned the Schneider analysis. They had anticipated the opposite finding.

Still, the renewable energy industry is finding doors closed in Canberra, with ministers and advisors promising only that projects already built will not be impacted by any changes to the RET, which will be recommended by a review headed by climate science sceptic and nuclear advocate Dick Warburton.

International groups such as First Solar and Acciona have already signalled their intention to re-assess their commitment to projects in Australia, in a likely repeat of the exodus that was caused when the current energy minister Ian Macfarlane ended the then MRET (mandatory renewable energy target) when he was last in the same job a decade ago – and that decision was taken despite an independent review recommending the MRET be expanded.


April 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Small scale solar energy triumphing globally, and especially in Australia

Australia-solar-plugSmall Scale Solar A Stand-Out Performer  Global investment in renewable energy jumped in the first quarter – and in Australia, it’s still citizens leading the revolution through rooftop solar power.

   According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), investment in clean energy around the world reached USD $47.7bn during the first 3 months of this year.
The stand-out sector was small scale solar power (less than 1MW systems); which skyrocketed by as much as 42%. Overall investment in solar (large and small) was up 23% at $27.5bn.
RenewEconomy, drawing on data from BNEF and Pew Charitable Trusts, states Australian households accounted for nearly two thirds of total investment in renewables in the nation in 2013 ($2.8 billion), and practically all of it so far this year.
RenewEconomy states more than 4,000 applications to install small systems are being a lodged a month in the south-east Queensland region managed by Energex. In South Australia and Western Australia, small scale system uptake is more than 2,500 a month, and in Victoria just below that level.
That uptake is so strong isn’t surprising. In addition to the lure of households being able to slash or even wipe out their power bills; there is an added sense of urgency given fears with regard to the future of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET). The RET provides support for the purchase of small-scale solar power systems; which can amount to thousands of dollars.
Another factor helping to drive uptake is the availability of innovative financing arrangements – such as zero dollar deposit payment plans. National provider Energy Matters’ Save As You Go initiative is structured in a way that in addition to the zero deposit; repayments are structured so many households will repay less per week than what they would spend on equivalent mains electricity supply.
According to Energy Matters, solar is still one the highest returning investmentsin Australia – outperforming shares, property, gold, global fixed interest or even fine art.

April 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

International Renewable Energy Agency ‘s new report will show up Australia’s blindness to renewable energy investment future

logo-IRENAHunt commits to ‘cleaner’ coal, as renewables despair deepens, REneweconomy,  on 16 April 2014“……While Australia seems destined to go backwards on renewables, the rest of the world is looking to accelerate. The IPCC report, released on Sunday, said the world needed to increase the amount of renewable energy generation three of four fold, and pointed out that this, plus other measures, would come at little additional cost. The International Renewable Energy Agency overnight said renewable energy and energy efficiency provided the most affordable and technologically mature path to bring about the necessary change. Itforeshadowed last year that renewables could provide this abatement at little or no additional cost. “The accelerated deployment of renewable energy significantly reduces energy-related carbon dioxide emissions at a reasonable cost, and also provides other benefits, including enhanced energy security, more local jobs and value-creation, and a cleaner and healthier environment,” Adnan Amin, IRENA’s Director-General, said in a statement. IRENA’s forthcoming report, Remap 2030, says a quadrupling of the share of renewable energy sources by 2030, will cut annual global energy related emissions by 8.6 gigatonnes, while energy efficiency could save an additional 7.3GT – lowering the forecast level of 41GT on business as usual down to 25.5GT. “Renewable energy has entered into a virtuous circle of falling costs, increased deployment and accelerated technological progress,” Amin said. solar-panels-and-moneyThis is a view shared now by most of the world’s investment banks. Citigroup recently pointed to the“age of renewables” and Sanford Bernstein pointed out that solar will beat oil and gas, and ultimately coal, because it is “cheap, clean, convenient, and reliable” … and “will get cheaper.” The IPCC report was also welcomed by the US, which said it offered a huge opportunity to invest in clean technologies and accelerate emissions reductions program, and in Europe, where renewable deployment continues and the EU is considering higher emissions targets……..

April 17, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Small scale solar thermal energy initiative unveiled today in New South Wales

sunSolar plant to be unveiled at Wallsend swimming pool    A revolutionary solar thermal project invented by researchers at the University of Newcastle will be unveiled today at Wallsend swimming pool. The demonstration plant will collect heat from the sun in curved mirrored troughs, producing electricity and heat for on-site use, using the new heat engine technology.

The GRANEX project has been funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). Researcher Professor Behdad Moghtaderi says the technology will have significant benefits for remote mining and industrial sites in rural communities.

“It can be used in remote communities, aboriginal communities, because all we need is a set of solar arrays,” he said. “You really don’t need diesel fuel, or anything like that.

“The problem is not really the infrastructure as such. “It’s more of a cost and logistical problems associated with transporting diesel fuel.”

The Wallsend swimming centre could save hundreds of dollars on its its annual power bills because of the project.

Professor Moghtaderi says the technology means electricity can be produced with zero carbon emissions from a range of different sources.”Any type of low-grade heat source and also renewable energy sources, in the example that you have for a swimming pool today, essentially we are using solar energy as heat input,” he said. “But, with the same token, you can use geothermal energy, biomass energy or waste heat going out of the stack of power plants and things like that.” ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht today joined Parliamentary Secretary for Industry and Paterson MP Bob Baldwin at the official launch.

“The $1.7 million project integrates solar thermal and GRANEX heat engine technology and is supported by $812,000 funding from ARENA,” he said.”The 200 kilowatt solar field, located at the Wallsend swimming complex, will generate 30 kilowatts of electrical output and 150 kilowatts of heat for the swimming pool.

Mr Frischknecht says the demonstration project is the first of its kind and will produce thousands of hours of valuable operating data.”It demonstrates the potential of small-scale solar thermal systems in providing cost effective energy options, particularly for off-grid areas,” he said.

“ARENA recognises the importance of supporting renewable energy projects that are innovative, economically geared and increasingly market-driven – such as those that could deliver low cost power to remote mining communities.

“It is vital that Australia continues to deliver world-leading and cost-effective renewable technology solutions that keep up with economic growth.”

April 16, 2014 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

French analysts surprised to find that Renewable Energy Target REDUCES Australia’s energy costs

Parkinson-Report-Schneider study finds boosting renewables will cut energy costs (Excellent graphs) REneweconomy, By  on 14 April 2014 Analysts at French based energy components company Schneider Electric have concluded that extending or expanding Australia’s renewable energy target would lead to lower electricity prices, lower carbon emissions and increased competition.

Reducing, or removing the renewable energy target – as many incumbent generators, industry lobby groups, state governments and some of its own members are urging the Abbott conservative government to do – will have the opposite impact, pushing prices higher and creating a greater reliance on expensive gas-fired generation.

The conclusions in the white paper have apparently surprised even the four-man team from Schneider that conducted the analysis, and the unnamed large energy users who commissioned it. Large energy users have normally been against the renewable energy target, and this study – along with others that have reached similar conclusions – is causing a rethink.

The Schneider Electric analysis says Australia will benefit from maintaining, extending or expanding its large scale renewable energy target (LRET) because renewable generation has lower emissions and lower marginal costs than do fossil fuels- fired generation.

“As a result of the influence of the LRET on the generation mix, electricity generation emissions in Australia are forecast to be lower under the LRET than would be otherwise,” it says.

“Again, the LRET becomes a hedge against rising carbon prices, and may help to keep carbon prices lower as a result of the lower emissions.

“Finally, and most strikingly, is the impact of the LRET on long-term energy prices. The LRET is forecast to result in a generation mix with lower marginal cost, lower carbon emissions, and increased competition in the electricity market, all which serve to reduce prices.

“Even after taking into account the cost of Large-scale Generation Certificates, the LRET in its current form is forecast to result in prices lower in the long run than those under decreased targets or outright removal of the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target.”

The analysis is important in the light of claims made by incumbent generators about the cost of the renewable energy target on consumers, and some even wilder claims in conservative commentators that renewables could add 50 per cent to consumer bills by 2020.

Pacific Hydro general manager Lane Crockett said the analysis by Schneider and others clearly demonstrated that zero fuel cost renewable energy can act as a hedge against future price rises in coal and gas.

“This report by Schneider is one of a number of recent reports that clearly demonstrate that deployment of renewable energy technologies via the renewable energy target has played a major role in keeping wholesale electricity prices down and is likely to continue to do so provided it is largely left alone,” he said.

“This report is no real surprise and clearly shows that that promise of a cleaner, cheaper energy market is now closer than ever to becoming a reality.” …..

April 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, energy | Leave a comment

IPCC report shows that Australia must do more to develop renewable energy

logo-Climate-CouncilIPCC report points to ‘renewables solution’ STAFF REPORTER APRIL 14, 2014 
The Climate Council says a new international report released yesterday and signed off by governments from around the world, including Australia, has found a need to lift investment in renewable energy to combat climate change.
“Renewable energy is critical to tackling climate change,” says Amanda McKenzie, Climate Council CEO.

“Australians have already taken steps to increase renewable energy and this report shows we need to do more.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report focuses on mitigation strategies for climate change and indicates that globally the world needs to at least triple the use of zero and low carbon energy sources by 2050.The think-tank says key players, like the United States and China, are quickly moving ahead. For example, the United States doubled renewable capacity between 2008 and 2012, and China increased its capacity in wind energy by 36% in 2012.

Australia currently has a national renewable energy target to generate 20% of the power mix from renewables by 2020. Over 130 other countries have similar targets to bolster renewable energy.

“It’s clear that the renewables race has begun,” says McKenzie.

“Shifting away from fossil fuels to renewable energy is a key part of tackling climate change and has other benefits, for instance growing new jobs, industries and investment,” says McKenzie.

“Australians know that solar power is just common sense here, so there is a lot of community support for greater investment in renewables.

“On the other side of the ledger, Australia is also home to some very inefficient and aging coal fired power plants. That means our current electricity supply is one of the most emissions intensive and least efficient in the world.”

April 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy | Leave a comment

Greens want Victoria to have a Clean Energy fund to help businesses and homes

Milne,-Christine-1Greens call for state clean energy fund, 13 April 14,  The Greens want the Victorian government to establish a state-based clean energy fund to make solar panels more affordable.

Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne call for the creation of a Victorian Solar Fund to help homes and businesses deal with the upfront costs of solar panels.

Senator Milne said the fund would make money for the state and reduce power bills. “Australia is a leader in solar science but is underinvested in solar power, depriving us of jobs that the community is calling out for,” she said on Sunday.

“We can create the financial incentives to put solar panels on roofs, for no money down, delivering immediate savings on electricity bills.”

April 14, 2014 Posted by | energy, Victoria | 1 Comment

Dick Warburton, nuclear power enthusiast, is heading Renewable Energy Review Panel

Warburton,-Dick-CzarTony Abbott’s renewable czar: Nuclear only alternative to coal REneweconomy, By  on Parkinson-Report-9 April 2014 Tony Abbott’s handpicked head of the panel reviewing Australia’s renewable energy target, the self-avowed climate “sceptic” Dick Warburton, is no fan of renewable energy. In an article co-authored for Quadrant in 2011, Warburton insisted that nuclear energy was the only alternative to fossil fuel generation.

The two-part series for the conservative magazine – co-authored by Warburton along with poet and accountant Geoffrey Lehmann and Resmed founder Peter Farrell – is an eye-opening compendium of the major arguments that climate science deniers and fossil fuel lobbyists have ever thrown at climate science, against carbon pricing and against renewable energy.

The title of the two-part series was “An intelligent voter’s guide to global warming” (you can find Part 1 here and Part II here), and the authors pretended to “provide basic information often missing from the debate.” In fact, it is a collection of scientific howlers normally only found in right-wing blogs.

This, though, is the paragraph that might interest those likely to feel the impact of the decisions made by the RET review panel that Warburton now heads:

“Except for nuclear power, there are no straightforward strategies for reducing dependence on fossil fuels without large economic costs. Wind and solar generators often cannot function when needed. Wind machines operate at only about 25 per cent capacity in the UK. Even when the wind is blowing, “back-up capacity, usually gas-fired … had to be kept running, using fuel, generating steam, emitting CO2, ready to ramp up its turbines the moment sufficient supply from the wind machines stopped coming”. Two main obstacles with renewables are the difficulty of establishing transmission lines from sunny or windy places to where the power is needed and the absence of utility-scale storage technology for intermittent renewable energies. A US comparison estimated the following electricity generation costs per kilowatt hour: hydroelectric $0.03; nuclear and coal $0.04; wind power $0.08; natural gas $0.10 (other estimates for gas suggest about $0.04); solar power (construction costs only, ignoring production costs for which reliable data were unavailable) $0.22.”

And, a little later….

“The only current viable alternative to burning fossil fuels is to go nuclear. Although current known reserves of uranium are limited, it is likely that by developing new nuclear technologies and with new sources of uranium, humanity’s electricity needs could be satisfied by nuclear power for many hundreds of years or more.”

Fantastic. In the true sense of the word. One hopes that Warburton has caught up a little on the various technology costs. In the US, where his electricity generation costs are cited, nuclear is four times the price that he quotes. In fact, you would have to go back many, many years to find a time when it was just 4c/kWh.

Ditto with solar. Solar PV, including production costs (for which there is plenty of reliable data), costs around half that quoted by Warburton in the US. Some recent solar PV power purchase contracts, aided by a tax credit, have been at one-quarter of the price he quoted. Wind, according to General Electric, the largest provider of power equipment, is also around half of that quoted by Warburton, and new coal – according to investment bank Citigroup – is also four times the price quoted by Warburton. Even fracked gas is being priced out of the market by utility-scale solar. As Citigroup noted, quite bluntly: Nuclear and coal are not competitive with renewables on cost.

One also assumes that Warburton is aware that the cost of energy storage is falling, and likely to follow the pathway of solar, as Morgan Stanley has pointed out. This is one reason why grid operators in WA and Queensland are looking to reduce their poles and wires delivering centralised fossil fuels, because they cannot compete economically with solar and storage any more.

Warburton can catch up with Australian technology cost estimates at the Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics, which recently doubled its estimated costs of nuclear and dramatically reduced its estimates on the cost of solar.

One also hopes that Warburton is disabused of his idea that “fossil fuel” generation is left running, and polluting, waiting for the sun to stop shining and the wind to stop blowing. Such nonsense is only propagated by the most infamous of blogs haunted by climate science deniers, nuclear boosters and the anti-wind brigade. (Who are often the very same people).

A report by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory puts this myth to rest. Those grids that have high renewables are actually using less fast-response peaking power than those relying almost exclusively on inflexible coal or nuclear generators………

The question that the renewables industry will be asking is this: Given that Warburton says he has investigated the climate science and declares that climate scientists do not know what they are talking about, what are the chances that he will accept the evidence from the renewable energy industry? Ideology, as we have seen with the media and the government since the September poll, is a mighty powerful editor.

April 10, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Community solar energy project underway in Illawarra, New South Wales

sunResidents back renewable energy plan April 9, 2014, WOLLONGONG ADVERTISER A group of Illawarra residents aims to set up a small-scale renewable energy project, such as solar panels on a community building roof.
The plan came out of a community energy forum held at the Illawarra Aboriginal Centre, in Wollongong, on March 27.

More than 30 residents turned up to hear a range of speakers talk about community renewable energy projects in Australia and overseas. The event was organised by the Wollongong Climate Action Network to generate interest and share ideas about how the Illawarra could set up its own  project.
Tathra resident and Bega Clean Energy for Eternity member Matthew Nott spoke about the significant efforts his community had made.
Reading about climate change in 2006, Mr Nott said he felt this was one of the greatest challenges we faced. He organised a ‘‘Clean energy for eternity’’ human sign on Tathra Beach, which attracted 3000 people.

With the help of others, Mr Nott ran a fund-raising campaign to place solar panels on community buildings – so far they have provided solar panels to six surf clubs, 12 Rural Fire Service sheds, five churches, 15 community halls and four preschools.
The group’s most ambitious project  is to build Australia’s largest community solar farm, providing half the power needs of Tathra Sewage Treatment Plant.

Graeme Jessop and John Davis from not-for-profit Clear Sky Solutions presented their investment model of renewable energy development. Last year they installed solar panels onto a Boggabri pub using investor funds.

Community Power Agency’s Nicky Ison spoke about community projects overseas. Forum participants agreed to work on a small-scale Illawarra renewable energy project, such as solar panels on a community building.
Organiser Rowan Huxtable said the network was very pleased at the community’s response and urged anyone wanting to help the project to contact them.Information: 0408 372 792 or email

April 10, 2014 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Broken Hill’s solar farm, part funded by ARENA will keep going

solar array GerladtonBusiness as usual’ for Government agency part-funding Broken Hill and Nyngan Solar Farms, ABC News 10 April 14 Gavin Coote A solar farm at Broken Hill in far-western New South Wales will still go ahead, despite the contractor’s uncertainty about future renewable energy investment in Australia.

First Solar is building the Nyngan and Broken Hill Solar Farms, but is reconsidering its future investments because of uncertainty surrounding the Federal Government’s Renewable Energy Target.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency, or ARENA, is an independent government agency and is helping fund the solar farm, along with the NSW Government.

The Agency says it won’t comment on any future projects in western New South Wales until they are signed off financially, but says it’s business as usual for the ARENA’s current programs, including those at Nygnan and Broken Hill…… “It is business as usual for ARENA, we are continuing to manage our existing projects and to assess and progress proposals we receive in accordance with our procedures and decision making processes.”….

April 10, 2014 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

First operating wave energy array scheme in the world, in Western Australia

waveWestern Australia wave energy project on the brink of commercialisation   A major sustainable energy plan has come closer to fruition with the launch of three giant buoys in Perth Australia could be set for a breakthrough in energy derived from waves, following the launch a major new project in Western Australia.

Carnegie Wave Energy unveiled three large buoys in Perth on Wednesday as part of a new $70 million technology which will feed energy into the Australian grid later this year.

The enormous buoys, called buoyant actuators, will be towed out into the ocean near Garden Island, off the coast of Perth.
The buoys will then be submerged and attached to underwater pumps. The movement of the ocean’s waves will cause the buoys to shoot high-pressure water through pipes which, in turn, will drive turbines and generators onshore, creating electricity.

The high-pressure water will also be fed into an onshore desalination plant, creating fresh water without the need for pumps.

Electricity and water provided by the project will be used by the department of defence for HMAS Stirling, Australia’s largest naval base, which is on Garden Island. The government, which has provided $13.1 million in funding through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), said the project will be the first operating wave energy array scheme in the world……

Ivor Frischknecht, chief executive of ARENA, said Carnegie should be congratulated for helping push forward the viability of wave energy in Australia.Australia’s wave energy resources along our south and south-west coasts are among the best in the world and, importantly, can be reliably predicted days ahead,” he said.

“There is great long-term potential for wave energy in Australia, with a range of competitive Australian technologies being developed towards commercialisation.”

April 10, 2014 Posted by | energy, Western Australia | Leave a comment


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