Australian news, and some related international items

Queensland wind farm decision due this month, but anti-wind lobby is active

wind-nuclear-Decision on controversial Tableland wind farm due mid-March DANIEL BATEMAN THE CAIRNS POST FEBRUARY 28, 2015

A CONTROVERSIAL wind farm planned for the Tableland could be approved within the next two weeks. The Palaszczuk Government is expected to make a decision about the Mt Emerald wind farm, four years after the project was first tabled.

A spokeswoman for Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the Minister’s call-in of the development application was due in mid-March.

Developers for the $380 million project gave the Government until the end of February to approve the wind farm, which was awaiting a ministerial decision before the election was called. The development, to be built near Walkamin, between Atherton and Mareeba, is to include up to 63 turbines on towers about 80m-90m tall, with about 50m blades.

The farm, a joint venture between Ratch Australia and Port Bajool, has the potential to generate enough electricity to power at least 75,000 homes.

It is estimated 158 jobs could be created during the ­development’s two-year construction phase.

Ratch Australia spokesman Geoff Dutton said representatives from the company’s Brisbane office had recently met with the newly elected Government to brief it on the project.“I think Ratch would be delighted in getting an answer after four years of hard work,’’ he said.

“We’re very hopeful the wind farm will be approved. Continue reading

March 1, 2015 Posted by | Queensland, wind | Leave a comment

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane speaks with forked tongue on the Renewable Energy Target

What Macfarlane is essentially saying here is, ‘take my offer or I’ll leave you with scheme that we will make clear to investors does not have Coalition Party support. 

And in the event that it looks like the target will not be met, we will use that as a mechanism to overcome Senate obstruction to cut the scheme back by even more than what is currently on the table’

Macfarlane forked tongueMacfarlane threatens: take my RET deal or else,
Climate Spectator TRISTAN EDIS  27 FEB 15 , The confusing saga on the Renewable Energy Target continues with Environment Minister Greg Hunt sounding optimistic (as he seems to be about everything) that there will shortly be an agreement on the level of the target, and one that he said will “go significantly further” than 20% market share for renewable energy. Meanwhile Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane on the same day delivered a message of a rather more belligerent and less optimistic tone. Continue reading

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

Western Australia’s superb opportunities for $1billion in Renewable Energy

map-WA-solar$1 billion in untapped clean energy opportunities in WA February 2015 Western Australia has an exciting opportunity to join the race for renewable energy and the investment and jobs it brings, according to the Clean Energy Council.

The CEC says that while Australia’s renewable energy industry has grown from a niche player to a multi-billion dollar industry, Western Australia hasn’t fully capitalised on the opportunities on offer.

“The Western Australian Government can step up to the plate and attract more renewable energy projects to the state with just a few simple policy measures,” Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton said.

“I have written to Energy Minister Dr Mike Nahan to ask him to advocate for a bipartisan resolution to the Renewable Energy Target, which would see Western Australia attract more than $1 billion in new investment out to 2020.

The CEC has recommended 15 policy measures that would help Western Australia become a leading renewable energy state, while driving greater competition and consumer choice in the electricity sector.

The CEC launched its new Guide to improving electricity use in your business in Perth this week.

The guide aims to provide small and medium-sized businesses with more information on how they can reduce their operating costs through measures like installing solar and storage, or shifting their energy use.

The guide is part of the CEC’s Future-Proofing in Australia’s Electricity Distribution Industry project, which aims to enhance the flexibility and resilience of Australia’s electricity distribution systems for the future. The project is supported by $878,000 funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

To download the Guide to improving electricity use in your business,

For more information on the Clean Energy Council’s Western Australia Directorate, contact Dermot Costello

February 28, 2015 Posted by | energy, Western Australia | Leave a comment

A clear economic case for the Australian government to support renewable energy

On reflection: Why Australia should not give up on renewables, Wind Power Monthly,  27 February 2015 by Alicia Webb , 

As the government battles to reduce the current renewables policy, the Australian wind industry is experiencing lost jobs and dwindling economic opportunities. Yet, there is a clear economic case for continuing renewables support.

Uncertainty and missed opportunity have been the recent themes for the Australian wind industry. While the country’s renewable energy target (RET) had enjoyed well over a decade of bipartisan support from the major political parties, the federal government plan to slash the level of the policy froze investment and resulted in many lost jobs and economic opportunities last year.

But the government does not have enough support to change legislation, and so the debate drags on. And, while the government looks for support from the opposition or a rag-tag alliance of senators from various smaller political parties, the RET’s uncertain future means the country is squandering billions of dollars in potential investment while interest in wind power and other renewables flourishes across the globe…….

The review undertook comprehensive modelling of prices. It found that any scenario in which the RET is cut would result in higher power prices for consumers from 2020, and that the scenarios that would deliver the most renewable energy were those that would also result in the lowest power prices over the life of the legislated policy. With the RET as it is, more than 18,000 jobs would be created and power bills would be lower in the long-term than they otherwise would be. Cut the RET to 27TWh by 2020, and 6,200 jobs will be lost and the average power bill will go up by A$42/year. Remove the RET altogether and by 2020, 11,800 jobs will be lost and the average power bill increases by A$56.

One of the reasons for this is that there is direct evidence of wind energy pushing wholesale electricity prices down. The Australian Energy Market Operator found in 2014 that in South Australia, the state with the highest wind penetration, wind farms have “low operating costs and tend to offer energy to the market at low prices”…….

February 28, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | Leave a comment

Victoria’s Labor government to fund Macedon community solar energy program

Victoria-sunny.psdAndrews government shows renewed interest in renewables The Age, February 28, 2015  Michael Green

Renewable energy projects, including solar energy schemes i are staging a revival in Victoria under the new Andrews Labor government.

The Woodend local sustainability group is launching two green energy projects: a new solar energy scheme and the resurrection of a longstanding plan for three community-owned wind turbines.

Today, at the Sustainable Living Festival in Woodend, Energy and Resources Minister Lily D’Ambrosio will announce a $100,000 grant for a 30-kilowatt solar farm.

The panels will be installed at the old timber mill, where the tenants’ ongoing electricity bills will be reinvested in more  solar panels. It will create a “perpetual fund” for community renewable energy, says Ralf Thesing, president of the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group.

Last week, D’Ambrosio announced a $200,000 grant for the central Victorian town of Newstead to become fully powered by renewable energy.

She says the Labor  government will “support and stand alongside” communities such as Newstead and Woodend, who are planning “to better control how their energy is made and where it comes from”.

“Everywhere I go, whether it’s metro Melbourne or regional and rural Victoria, people love renewable energy,” D’Ambrosio says. “That’s why we’re seeing many communities coming up with plans to make renewable energy part of their everyday life. They’re bottom-up approaches and they’re a terrific boon for local jobs.”

The Andrews government is preparing a “renewable energy action plan” and finalising the guidelines for its $20 million “new energy jobs fund”. It will also release a discussion paper on community-owned wind power.

For the clean energy advocates in Macedon Ranges shire, the election result was transformative. “It changes our situation completely – from being banned, we’re now unbanned,” says Barry Mann, who is helping co-ordinate the wind power project……….

The Victorian Liberal party appears to have had a change of heart under the leadership of Matthew Guy. For the first time, the state has a “shadow minister for renewables”, David Southwick. He says Victoria has the opportunity to be a leader in renewable energy. “We want an industry that can deliver more clean energy and clean energy jobs.”


February 28, 2015 Posted by | solar, Victoria | 1 Comment

Clean Energy Finance Corporation battles on, while Abbott governemnt determined to destroy renewable energy development

CEFC’s work was continuing, despite ongoing uncertainty over its own future.

Abbott-destroys-renewablesRET negotiations set industry back 12 years: Clean Energy Finance Corporation SMH, February 25, 2015  National political reporter The Abbott government’s efforts to scale back the renewable energy target (RET) have set the industry back 12 years, a Senate estimates hearing has heard.

And the government has told senators it will still pursue the abolition of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), despite accepting advice from the agency on achieving emissions reductions through its direct action policy. Continue reading

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

The Greens have a renewable energy vision for New South Wales

ballot-boxSmgreensSmgreen-collarGreens’ Clean, Renewable Energy Vision For NSW February 24, 2015

The New South Wales Greens have unveiled their vision of a secure and clean energy future for the state, one where households and small businesses would become active participants in the electricity industry.

Coal and gas fired electricity generation in NSW generates 60 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually, making the state one of the most carbon-intensive economies in the world.

The Greens’ plan includes partnering with households to support the transition away from coal-fired electricity and gas to rooftop solar, energy efficient equipment and intelligent energy trading and management.

The plan would see the creation of public sector energy agencies to provide financial support and technical advice, investment in a “smart grid” and keeping the network in public hands.

“Transformation of the state’s energy industry is inevitable,” stated Greens NSW MP John Kaye, who said it was important this process begins as soon as possible. “Premier Mike Baird’s plans will to pass control of much of the electricity network to private hands would create political and financial barriers to the remaking of the network.”

The Greens say their energy vision would slash household power bills and break the stranglehold of big private-sector energy corporations. They envision an electricity sector where households and businesses would trade roof top solar electricity and other renewable sources across a publicly-owned network.

Pursuing a 100% renewable energy based New South Wales would also create a clean power jobs boom. While there are just 1,800 jobs in NSW’s coal-fired power stations and approximately 4,000 in mining the coal these facilities burn, more than 70,000 new jobs could be created in NSW in clean energy.

The Greens state much of the $17 billion investment in electricity transmission and distribution since 2009 in New South Wales has been in the wrong kind of technology, locking the state into a centralised and expensive supply based on coal and gas.

“A 100% renewable energy NSW is possible, affordable and essential. But it will not happen as long as the old parties remain committed to coal and gas and continue to frustrate and undermine wind and solar,” says the party.

February 25, 2015 Posted by | energy, New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Some solar panels are shoddy quality: vast majority are good quality

solar-paneltext-relevantSolar experts claim multi-billion dollar subsidies wasted on cheap and dodgy panels, The Age February 22, 2015  Political reporter More Australians are buying cheap rooftop solar panels that fail long before their promised lifespan, prompting claims a federal rebate scheme needs to be overhauled to prevent dodgy systems receiving public subsidies.

Solar industry experts say lax rules covering the scheme – which provides incentives of up to $4350 for a $5500 rooftop system –  mean it is not always delivering the environmental benefits promised.

They blame an explosion of cheap, mainly Chinese-produced solar panels that have flooded the market over the past five years that are failing to provide the 15 years of clean power expected. Installers in four states told Fairfax Media that the worst systems stopped working within 12 months, with others “falling apart” within two or three years.

Problems reported include silicon that cannot stand up to the Australian sun, water egress in panels, fires and defective inverters. The term “landfill solar” is used in the industry to describe dodgy solar systems of uncertain origin……….


Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton played down the scale of failures and warned against blaming production faults on systems from one country.

He said the “Chinese success story” had led to prices for solar tumbling dramatically, allowing more households to invest in green energy.

“If someone is getting a subsidy there is an expectation that the benefit to the environment and society equals or outweighs that cost. There are cases of systems not running for 15 years and people have got rid of them, but from our point of view most will run for 25 years,” he said.

“There are cases that come up just like in any industry, but failure rates are low.”…….

Nigel Morris, a solar industry analyst and consultant to the Clean Energy Council, said he wasn’t aware of any statistics that showed a widespread problem.

“Is the industry perfect? Absolutely not. Do we occasionally have quality issues with product and installations? Yes, we do … There is evidence to say it is not endemic.”

A recent Choice survey found, while more than 80 per cent of solar system owners were satisfied with what they had bought, 17% of owners of Chinese-made solar systems and 11 per cent of those with a German inverter had experienced problems of some kind.

February 23, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

In Lismore a new political party starts off – to tackle climate change

ballot-boxSmPolitical party forms in Lismore to tackle climate change Darren Coyne, Echo Net Daily, 19 Feb 15,  A new political party focused on tackling climate change is being formed by a group of north coast residents. The Renewable Energy Party plans to stand candidates in every state and territory at the next Federal election in 2016.

Following a meeting at the Lismore Worker’s Club this week, the political hopefuls announced they were in the process of signing up the 500 members required to form the party.

Campaign manager Jim Moylan said membership was not likely to be a problem. ‘Aussies are really passionate about climate change,’ Mr Moylan said.‘Our Facebook page has gone-off like a skyrocket. All we did was set up a news-feed to climate change news – and a big audience appeared.’

Mr Moylan told Echonetdaily that the micro-party would act as ‘better angels’ to The Greens and other left-leaning parties……..

Party founder Peter Breen, a former independent member of the New South Wales Parliament, and a former member of both Labor and the Liberal parties, will be national coordinator of the party. Mr Breen, a resident of Byron Bay, said the party had good prospects.‘Of course they will take us seriously. We are well funded, well organised and mainstream,’ Mr Breen said.

‘We have advertising people, political insiders, fund-raisers, social media specialists and other professionals.

‘The Renewable Energy Party wants science and the public interest to dictate the terms of the climate debate – not coal, gas and oil companies.’


Following the Lismore meeting, the fledging party released the following statement.

‘Renewable energy needs grass roots representation. More than a million households in Australia now use solar energy and we are getting a very bad deal from the major energy companies who all own coal mines.

‘Currently, Australians are paying as much as $1,000 per year for electricity and gas connections – before we even turn on our appliances. On top of that, the major energy companies pay 6 to 8 cents for solar power exported to the grid while charging four times that amount for customers to buy it back”

‘In the UK, politicians are talking seriously about phasing out fossil fuels, but Australian politicians are talking about phasing out renewable energy. The Renewable Energy Party hopes to bring a consumer’s perspective to the debate in Australia.’

‘The Renewable Energy Party will speak on behalf of the many Australians who believe that climate change is simply the most important issue we face. We support the 97 per cent of climate scientists who say man-made climate change is real and we need to do something serious about the predicted global temperature rise.

‘According to the International Monetary Fund, Australia’s implicit subsidies to oil, coal and gas companies are worth 1.8 per cent of GDP, or about $23 billion annually. Subsidies to the renewable energy industry are small beer by comparison.

‘The Renewable Energy Party has been formed to highlight the differences between the favourable treatment given to the fossil fuel industries by government and the difficulties faced by the emerging renewable energy industry.

‘It is also a fact that renewable energy creates more jobs per unit of energy delivered than fossil or nuclear fuels. Action on climate change is our best hope for better present and a more promising future,’ the statement concluded.


February 21, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy, politics | Leave a comment

New Australian Political Party coming – the Renewable Energy Party

poster-renewables-rallyRenewable Energy Party Seeking Australian Federal Registration A new political party is committed to an Australia powered by 100% renewable energy by 2050 and to scrutinising the fossil fuel industry’s gravy train of subsidies.

The Renewable Energy Party’s founder is Peter Breen. Mr Breen is a defamation and media lawyer and former member of the New South Wales Parliament (Legislative Council), the Labor and the Liberal parties.

According to the party’s constitution, two of its objectives are:

“a. To encourage and promote the use of renewable energy in Australia and to determine what regulatory changes, incentives, bonuses, subsidies and other forms of investment opportunity need to be given to the energy industry to enable all energy sources in Australia to be 100 per cent renewable by 2050.

b. To review the government subsidies and other public funding paid or tax and excise revenues foregone annually to oil, gas and coal companies in Australia to ascertain whether the funds would be better directed to different companies in order to achieve objective (a) above.”

The Renewable Energy Party aims to have some of the $23 billion in taxpayer funded subsidies paid annually to oil, gas and coal companies redirected to renewable energy. The support fossil fuel industries currently enjoy is equivalent to 1.8 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic product.

Driving the campaign to recruit the number of members required for Federal registration is James Moylan. Mr. Moylan has been involved with minor parties and political lobbying for many years.

We have the ability, right now, to reinvent the way we generate, store and utilise energy,” says Mr. Moylan. ” We can, as human beings, reduce our impact on the planet, and repair the damage already done. And because we can do it, we are obliged to do it, for ourselves and for our children.”

According to comments made by Mr. Moylan following a RenewEconomy article on the party, the REP knows it will never run a government.

“Smaller parties such as the REP are there to help the Greens (and the rest of the Parties) stay in contact with the aspirations of the people and keep faith with their own promises.”

The party will strive to have candidates in every state and territory at the next federal election.

February 21, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

South Australia: huge solar project from Origin Energy

Parkinson-Report-Origin Energy to build Australia’s biggest rooftop solar array  By  on 19 February 2015

Origin Energy and Zen Energy Systems are to build a 3MW solar system on the rooftop of the old Mitsubishi factory in Tonsley, Adelaide, in what will be the largest rooftop solar array in the country.

The awarding of the contracts was announced by the South Australian government this week. The intention to build the array was first announced late last year. Origin Energy will own the rooftop array and sell the output to the tenants of the Tonsley high tech centre (artists impression to the right), under a power purchase agreement that it is looking at replicating elsewhere in the country.

Indeed, Origin Energy managing director Grant King says the company is “changing its view” on electricity markets, and is particularly interested in the economics of utility-scale solar in Australia.

“We are working hard to understand economics of utility scale solar in Australia,” King told an analysts briefing.

Origin has also revealed it has bought a 40 per cent stake in the 69MW Javiera solar project in Chile (pictured right), which is being built by SunEdison in the Atacama desert, without subsidies, and will supply electricity mainly the nearby Los Pelambres copper project.

Origin Energy says this will also help it understand the economics of large-scale solar – both in international markets, and in Australia.

Zen – a tenant in the Tonsley complex – has been awarded the installation and maintenance contract.

“It’s a great job to get to ramp up our capacity and profile with a number of multi-megawatt jobs in the pipeline currently evolving for ZEN around Australia,” managing director Richard Turner said.

South Australia Innovation Minister Kyam Maher said the tender for the 3MW solar project had attracted a huge response from tenderers. “Tonsley is fast gaining a reputation as an innovation precinct with a focus on sustainability and urban renewal, so it’s not surprising that a project of this size has attracted significant interest,” he said.

Climate Change Minister Ian Hunter said the project would add to South Australia’s credentials as a national leader in renewable energy.

Hunter noted that South Australia has 41 per cent of the nation’s operating wind farm capacity and one in four households have rooftop solar panels.

“If South Australia was a nation, we would rank second only to Denmark as the world leader in terms of installed wind power on a per capita basis,” he said.

Origin’s head of energy markets, Frank Calabria, said the company was delighted to be named preferred partner for the innovative Tonsley project, which will see Origin build, own, and retail the electricity generated by the 3MW solar array.

“We are excited about this project, which will be the largest rooftop solar array Origin has installed, as it builds on our solar leadership and demonstrates our renewed focus on our solar business.

February 21, 2015 Posted by | solar, South Australia | 1 Comment

World’s first wave-energy farm connected to grid is switched on in Western Australia.

We’ve specifically designed the technology to be scalable and one of the main aims of this project was to show you could plug multiple wave units together and have them operating in sync.

“This technology… can operate in a variety of water depths, swell directions and seafloor conditions and can generate power for both onshore and offshore consumption,”

waveWA wave energy project turned on to power naval base at Garden Island ABC News 18 Feb 15, The world’s first wave-energy farm connected to the electricity grid has been switched on in Western Australia.

The project by Perth-based Carnegie Wave Energy will provide renewable electricity for Australia’s largest naval base, HMAS Stirling, on Garden Island.

The same system is also used to run a small desalination plant, which will be used to supply up to one-third of the base’s fresh water needs. Continue reading

February 20, 2015 Posted by | energy, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Australian government delay on Renewable Energy Target is stifling projects

switch_on_renewables“This review started on 17 Feb 2014, and one year since that review commenced it really needs to be resolved so this project and other projects can proceed.”

“If you have a review every two years, and then it takes a year to undertake the review, there’s not much gap between one review and the other, so a key change that’s required in this legislation is to remove those two-yearly reviews.”

Wind farm owner calls for resolution one year after start of Renewable Energy Target review By Kerrin Thomas The new owner of an undeveloped wind farm on the Northern Tablelands says the Government’s review of the Renewable Energy Target has gone on for long enough.

It’s been 12 months since the review started, and under the current legislation the Target is reviewed every two years.

Goldwind Australia last year purchased the White Rock Wind Farm project, between Glen Innes and Inverell, and is working to prepare the Construction Environmental Management Plan, and the next round of community engagement will take place over the coming months.

The wind farm has development approval.

The company’s Managing Director John Titchen said industry uncertainty created by the review could impact the project, and the RET review needs to be finalised. Continue reading

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

Over last 6 months, wind energy in Australia exceeded hydro generation

Parkinson-Report-Wind energy overtakes hydro for first time in Australia [good graph]  By  on 12 February 2015  The Australian wind energy industry achieved a milestone in January, with wind generation exceeding hydro generation for the first time.

According to data compiled by Green Energy Markets, the wind industry boosted production to its highest level in six months -thanks to good wind speeds – while hydro generation fell sharply from previous years, mostly as a result of the carbon price repeal, which has removed much of the incentive for the hydro generators to increase production.

This graph below [in original]  illustrates the change. In January, wind energy generated 893,352MWh, while hydro generated 884,730MWh.

The GEM data shows that NEM wind generators achieved more than 36 per cent capacity factor in the month of January, the highest level in six months.Wind farm generators such as Infigen Energy recorded significantly lower generation in the six months to December due to lower wind speeds.

As for hydro, the output from most generators (other than Dartmouth) is well below their average baseline levels at the end of January. Hydro generation from Tasmania in particular, is 38 per cent below levels at the same time a year ago – when hydro plants there generated a lot to take advantage of carbon price.

Total hydro generation over the last three months has been at its lowest level for more than three years. i.e. since before the carbon price was introduced.

However, the overall share of renewable energy in Australia in January fell to 11.7 per cent, compared to its peak of more than 18 per cent in August, September and October in 2013. The figure does not include the nearly 4,000GW of rooftop solar, which accounts for between two and three per cent of overall demand, although much of it is not metered.

February 14, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | Leave a comment

Australi’s electricity utilities making it as hard as they can for the renewable energy industry

Parkinson-Report-Utilities hold renewables to ransom over coal pay-outs, REneweconomy By  on 12 February 2015 Australia’s largest utilities are being accused of holding the renewable energy industry to ransom, by suggesting that they will not sign contracts for new large-scale renewable energy projects unless they are paid to close excess coal capacity. Continue reading

February 14, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment


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