Australian news, and some related international items

Senator Leyonhjelm – Nuclear power is fine: wind power is the danger!

Leyonhjelm,-DavidSenator David Leyonhjelm wants government to monitor wind turbine noise, The Age, May 24, 2015 Adam Gartre It seems the only thing colourful crossbench senator David Leyonhjelm hates more than red tape is wind farming.

Despite typically being a fierce opponent of new government regulation, the Liberal Democrat is calling on the government to set up a new regulator to monitor noise levels near wind turbines.

He claims a Senate inquiry he set up has uncovered “credible evidence” that some people are suffering wind-farm-evil-1health concerns caused by low frequency noise and vibrations known as infrasound.

Australia’s peak medical agency this year concluded there is no direct or consistent evidence that wind farms damage human health, after conducting a year-long study into so-called “wind turbine syndrome”.

 Indeed, many health experts and environmentalists have long dismissed turbine-related health concerns as a myth…….Senator Leyonhjelm’s inquiry attracted 418 submissions and is set to report back to parliament in August. It is the latest in a long line of investigations into renewable energy and wind turbines.

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

The solar revolution that is coming to Australia’s homes

Australia-solar-plugCould solar power be about to transform the electricity industry and drive prices down? Australian Broadcasting Corporation  Broadcast: 21/05/2015  Reporter: Matt Peacock A revolution driven by solar panels and cheaper batteries is transforming Australia’s electricity industry and promising to drive power prices down.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER:  Imagine life without that dreaded quarterly power bill. That could be around the corner for people with solar panels. Until now, solar energy couldn’t be stored efficiently and people who had it relied on the electricity grid for backup. Now, new battery technology means that could change. Matt Peacock reports. Continue reading

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

Funding method to help off-grid renewable energy take off in rural Australia

renewable-energy-pictureCLOSING THE GAP

Renewable energy sources (in particular, solar and wind) have a significant relevance in the off-grid setting of Australia’s remote rural and indigenous communities.

At present these communities are serviced almost exclusively by off-grid diesel and gas. While these traditional fuels haven’t yet become prohibitively expensive, they are subject to price fluctuations and, in the case of diesel, affordable only as a result of government subsidies.

Fuel subsidies are also regularly under threat of repeal; and yet renewable energy has made enormous progress in providing an environmentally-friendly alternative which is competitive in terms of price and efficiency.

Taking diesel and solar powered energy as examples: while the cost of diesel generation has remained stable at around the $220-$300/MWh mark, the cost of solar energy is now about $200-$240/MWh; drastically down from $600/MWh in 2008 and likely to get cheaper with evolving technology and economies of scale.

Combine the comparative cost with the obvious environmental benefits of solar or wind and the case for their adoption looks compelling.

Renewable energy for remote Australia – can our rural and indigenous communities go off-grid? Corrs Chambers Westgarth Australia May 21 2015


The renewable energy industry in Australia has taken more hits in recent years than a punch-drunk boxer. It may be uncharitable to say that Australia’s politicians were the only ones throwing the upper-cuts, but there’s little doubt they’ve played a significant role.

The current state of the renewable energy industry in Australia can be traced back to the repeal of the carbon price mechanism and has been further compounded by the prolonged political impasse surrounding the future of the Renewable Energy Target (RET).[1].

Running parallel to the renewable energy sector’s struggles, is the pressure on governments to reduce spending in the face of an undiminished social imperative to service the energy (and wider infrastructure) needs of remote rural and indigenous communities across the country.

In light of technological advances, off-grid renewable energy should be a key part of the solution to energy security.

In funding such a solution, debt-funded models could be a more practical way for industry to raise the capital it needs than waiting for government funding.

For government, private capital investment has long been an attractive funding solution for infrastructure projects as it allows for the deferral of upfront capital costs.

Equally, financiers benefit from the certainty that comes with government-sourced revenue streams – in this way circumventing the uncertainty that has so severely hamstrung renewable energy investment in recent years.

If a debt-funded model is to be pursued, the real question then becomes: how to structure that funding to make it attractive for all parties concerned? Continue reading

May 23, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, energy | Leave a comment

Energy retailers must take the lead, for solar and wind energy to spring back

A key element of the recent RET compromise is that the ruling Liberal coalition agreed to scrap the biennial reviews of the policy that had previously been in place.

“It removes the uncertainty factor that has been plaguing the RET for many years now,” Gemmell​ says.

Yet while the bipartisan compromise is a welcome development for the industry, the victory is still bittersweet.

“We’re both relieved and disappointed at the same time. We’re relieved in the sense that the pace of our PPA discussions and negotiations are picking up considerably. And we’ll have some clear visibility on building the first major stages of our projects,” he concludes, noting that Solar Choice may now be able to start construction at Bulli Creek at some point in 2016.

ANALYSIS: Energy retailers key after Australia RET deal Brian Publicover in Tokyo Friday, May 22 2015 The Australian legislature appears set to approve the nation’s revised Renewable Energy Target (RET) by as early as the end of June, but energy retailers will need to take the lead for solar and wind development to finally spring back to life after more than a year of uncertainty, according to industry analysts. Continue reading

May 23, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Here’s how the states can dodge Canberra’s renewable roadblock

Dylan McConnell & Anne Kallies: Here’s how the states can dodge Canberra’s renewable roadblock Labor and the Coalition government have now agreed to cut the federal renewable energy target (RET) from 41,000 gigawatt hours in 2020, to 33,000 GWh – a reduction of almost 20%. This agreement has been hailed as restoring stability to the industry, after a year plagued with uncertainty and featuring two reviews.

However, this is still a significant cut, particularly as the target is a significant part of Australia’s policy response to climate change.

Meanwhile, Victoria has committed to restoring its own renewable energy target, the VRET, following other states in developing renewable energy policy. However a clause the federal legislation prevents schemes similar to the federal RET.

How can the states get around this and support their industries?


May 22, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Labor, Coalition agree on new renewable energy target

Renewable energy sector welcomes bipartisan RET deal, debate rages over burning of wood waste, ABC Radio 19 May 15 By Peta Donald The renewable energy sector has welcomed a bipartisan deal over the Renewable Energy Target (RET), saying it clears the way for billions of dollars of investment in energy from sources like the wind and the Sun.

The Federal Government and Labor yesterday agreed to lower the RET from 41,000 gigawatt hours to 33,000, to fully exempt trade-exposed industries from the target and to scrap the two-yearly reviews which threatened to derail the deal.

Instead, the Clean Energy Regulator will provide an annual statement to Parliament and the government of the day on progress towards the target, what impact it is having on electricity prices, and whether the scheme is at risk of default.

The Government could bring legislation for the new target to the Parliament as early as next week, which means more than 23 per cent of Australia’s power would come from renewable sources in five years. Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

$6 billion cut to investment as result of new renewable energy target will mean

New renewable energy target will mean $6 billion cut to investment: analysts, SMH, May 18, 2015  National political reporter Six billion dollars in investment in wind and solar power will be lost as a result of a compromise deal on the renewable energy target, energy market analysts say.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance says investment in Australian projects will fall from an expected $20.6 billion by 2020 to $14.7 billion after the Abbott government and Labor reached a deal to reduce the target.

Monday’s agreement, which came after more than 12 months of political gridlock, will slash the original large-scale target of 41,000 gigawatt hours of annual renewable energy production by 2020 to 33,000 gigawatt hours.

Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said the expected drop in projects is “what we’ve had to accept in order to resolve this situation”.

“The industry was entirely frozen. There was no new investment if the situation continued,” he said. Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, energy | Leave a comment

Senators out to sabotage wind energy industry

Senators could demand wind power restrictions in RET scheme, The Age,  May 19, 2015   National political reporter Crossbenchers are set to demand the government shut wind power out of a portion of Australia’s renewable energy target, in exchange for backing the inclusion of native timber burning.

Day, Bob nukesLiberal Democratic senator David Leyonhjelm, Family First senator Bob Day and independent John Madigan will support the government’s proposal to bring wood waste into the scheme, but could seek conditions that would reserve part of the 33,000 gigawatt-hour target for solar and hydro power only.

The three senators are vocal opponents of wind turbines and sit on a parliamentarywind-farm-evil-1 committee examining their health effects that held public hearings in Canberra on Tuesday……..

Leyonhjelm,-DavidHe [David Leyonhjelm] said the senators were also talking about conditions they could seek for wind power to “prevent people from getting sick”.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said he feared this could see the Senate debate being sidetracked by views that were anti-science.

“The first place to start is that there is not one medical scientific body anywhere in the world that accepts wind turbines cause physiological illness,” he said.

“What’s really most disappointing in this is that it’s the aggressive anti-wind stance adopted by politicians and some members of the community that spreads alarm … and is a potential cause for some of the symptoms people experience.”

Independent senator Nick Xenophon said he was concerned solar and hydro projects could be “crowded out” of the renewable energy scheme by wind power.

May 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, wind | 1 Comment

Australian breakthrough solar technology built in Cyprus in five weeks

Cyprus pins hopes on Australian solar technology To reform its oil-dependent economy and meet a European Union target. 18 May 2015

Australian scientists have designed and installed solar energy technology in Cyprus to help the island nation shift away from fossil fuels and also to tackle its chronic water shortages.

A team from the CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, took five weeks to construct a ‘solar thermal field’ containing 50 heliostats – large mirrors that reflect the power of the sun. The solar thermal field lies in Pentakomo, on the southern coast of Cyprus and places the country at the frontier of solar energy research in Europe.

solar thermal Aust Cyprus

The CSIRO won an international tender to provide its technology to Cyprus for a trial that could lead to broad solar take-up in the country and elsewhere. It is understood that several other countries in Europe and the Middle East are interested in adopting CSIRO solar technology.

Cyprus hopes to take on the technology so it can reform its oil-dependent economy and meet a European Union target of 13 per cent of energy coming from renewable sources by 2020. The Mediterranean country is also plagued by water shortages and may use solar energy to power desalination plants.

The CSIRO technology uses mirrors to track the sun and reflect it towards a single receiving point on top of a tower. This heat then warms a fluid, in this case molten salt.

The molten salt, heated to 250°C, is stored in a hot tank and the steam produced powers a turbine for electricity. Crucially, this storage method allows for energy to be produced long after the sun has disappeared.

“The question about solar is always about storage at night-time,” said Wes Stein, solar research leader at CSIRO.

“This liquid is cheaper and more efficient than batteries, such as those made by Elon Musk. We can generate steam for electricity on a cloudy day. Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | 1 Comment

Australia leads the world in percentage of homes with solar power

community solarAustralian households chase sun to lead world on solar adoption May 16, 2015  Northside Chronicle reporter Australian households are world leaders in solar power installation, according to new figures from Australia’s peak industry body representing the fossil fuel and renewable energy sector.

The Energy Supply Association of Australia, representing the fossil fuel and renewable energy sector, has sourced data from around the world revealing household solar photovoltaic (PV) penetration in Australia is way out in front of any other nation.

The report shows almost 15 per cent of Australian households have adopted the technology to power their homes.

This is more than triple that of Germans, who are second on the world stage and typically thought of as the most prolific solar adopters. Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Solar trams for Melbourne

Renewable energy group bids to turn Melbourne’s trams solar May 18, 2015 Tom Arup Environment editor, The Age 

solar tram

Melbourne’s entire tram network could be powered by solar if the state government gave a bold renewable energy proposal the green light.

While the pitch may conjure up images of trams with rooftop panels on them like the family home, the power would instead be generated at two new solar farms the project proponents plan to build near Swan Hill and Mildura.

The company behind the bid, the Australian Solar Group, have held quiet talks over four years with different arms of the government to try get the project off the ground, but has so far not got final backing.

The two solar farms would generate 80 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year, about the same amount used by Melbourne’s tram network, which is the world’s largest.

Under the proposal the government would back the project by signing Public Transport Victoria (PTV) up to a power purchase agreement with the solar farms, creating a reliable revenue source alongside the renewable energy target.

The proponents say the project has been designed to ensure the cost of tram tickets would not rise, nor would it add to PTV’s power bill. It would cut 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year from running trams and give the city an obvious global selling point (see the mock-up tram design above), according to the pitch…….

May 20, 2015 Posted by | solar, Victoria | Leave a comment

Tasmania keen to fast track electric vehicles – and become 100% renewable energy powered

Parkinson-Report-Tasmania looks to EVs as next step to 100% renewable energy, REneweconomy, By  on 19 May 2015 Tasmania looks to fast-track take-up of electric vehicles to boost its credentials as a green manufacturing hub to replace old industries, and export clean energy to the mainland. Tasmania could end up totally renewable – a Green Apple Isle – in both electricity and transport. Tasmania is looking closely at electric vehicles to take the next step towards 100 per cent renewable energy – both electricity and transport – and boost the state’s strategic advantage as a clean energy manufacturing hub. Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Australia has the most affordable solar systems in the developed world.

Thanks to solar, Australia has the cheapest electricity in the developed world Climate Spectator TRISTAN EDIS  15 MAY, 15
Solar system cost relative to capacity to pay metrics
chart solar costs 1
 Back in 2012, energy market and regulatory analyst Bruce Mountain broke the bad newsthat thanks largely to network business gold plating (not the carbon price), Australia was about to end up with the most expensive retail electricity prices in the developed world.

But while this was happening a revolution was unfolding in the affordability of solar power systems. Rather fortunately for Australia, we are one of the best positioned nations to take advantage of this revolution. Continue reading

May 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | 1 Comment

50% renewable energy by 2030 – Queensland government pledge

map-solar-QueenslandQueensland government pledges to reach 50% renewable energy by 2030 Australian states are finally taking action, Science Alert  MYLES GOUGH 15 MAY 2015 Queensland’s newly elected Labor government plans to generate 50 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable energy by 2030, and wants one million homes to have rooftop solar systems within five years.

The 50 percent renewable energy target was outlined in the party’s pre-election policy, and the new energy minister recently confirmed that the government is determined to make it happen, and will establish a productivity commission to come up with the right policy pathway to get them there. The government also has a plan to see the number of households with rooftop solar more than double by 2020, growing from 400,000 to one million.

“Renewable energy has long since stopped being a fringe issue, now is the time for Queensland to make this happen,” said energy minister Mark Bailey, before a speech at the Australian Solar Conference in Melbourne. As Giles Parkinson points out for RenewEconomy, there was some speculation that the ambitious target represented “the aspirations of a party that expected to remain in Opposition.”……..

the political tide has turned in Queensland, and with this commitment, all three Labor states – including Victoria and South Australia – are planning ambitious renewable energy targets. South Australia, which is already at 40 percent renewables, wants to make the jump to 50 percent by 2025. And Victoria is looking to sidestep recent legislation, which prevents it from having a state-based scheme, to try and install a similar target.

The federal government, by comparison, seems to be going in the wrong direction. It’s looking to cut the national target for large-scale renewables from a planned 41,000 GWh by 2020, to 33,000GWh. This has already caused the renewable energy industry a lot of grief, as investment in large-scale projects has virtually stalled over the uncertainty……

Still,several large-scale solar plants have been proposed in the state, along with a large wind farm in the north near Mount Emerald, Parkinson reports……

May 16, 2015 Posted by | energy, Queensland | Leave a comment

BY 2040 Australia could reach 100% renewables

Australia could reach 100% renewables by 2040 By  on 14 May 2015Australia could reach 100 per cent renewables as early as 2040 by adding 1.9GW of solar PV and 1.9GW of wind power capacity a year, according to one of Australia’s top renewable energy experts. Continue reading

May 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment


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