Australian news, and some related international items

New report rules out nuclear power for Australia, on economic grounds

nuclear-costs1Nuclear priced out of Australia’s future energy highly-recommendedequation in new report By  on 26 November 2015

Australia’s official economic forecaster has finally admitted that the cost of nuclear energy is more than double other clean energy alternatives, suggesting it would likely play no role in a decarbonised grid based around lowest costs.

The Australian Power Generation Technology Report – a 362-page collaborative effort from more than 40 organisations, including the CSIRO, ARENA, the federal government’s Department of Industry and Science and the Office of the Chief Economist – clearly shows that solar and wind will be the cheapest low carbon technologies in Australia.

It comes at a critical time, with the nuclear lobby, supported by existing coal generators, pushing nuclear generation heavily, on the basis of previous technology cost assessments that had unrealistically optimistic views of its costs.

But the APGT report has essentially ruled out nuclear power for the whole of Australia, revealing that the technology is becoming more and more prohibitively expensive, at around double the capital cost estimated three years ago – and double the cost of competing technologies. Continue reading

November 27, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics | Leave a comment

Economics stack up well for the Greens’ renewable energy plans

greensThe Greens’ plan for 90% renewables by 2030 sounds hard, but it stacks up, The Conversation,  Director of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSES) , Australian National University, November 24, 2015 The Australian Greens this weekend announced a target of 90% renewable electricity by 2030 – pledging to go further than Labor, which has already backed a target of 50%. How hard is it to reach these targets?

The Abbott government made plain its dislike of renewable energy by reducing the renewable electricity target (RET) for 2020 to 33 terawatt hours (TWh) of new renewable electricity.

Under this target, about 24% of electricity will come from renewable sources in 2020, comprising existing renewables (mostly hydro-electricity with some biomass) and new renewables (mostly wind energy and photovoltaic (PV) solar energy). It’s straightforward to calculate the annual additions (gigawatts, GW) of wind and PV required to hit a 50% or 90% RET in 2030……..

The corresponding figures for Labor’s target of 50% by 2030 are 1.2 GW of PV and 0.8 GW of wind per year.

An achievable prospect

Labor’s target is a straightforward prospect. In years gone by, Australia has installed this much PV and wind in a year, and can readily do so again. It is not much more than the installation rate needed to meet the 2020 RET.

The Greens’ target, meanwhile, is about 2.5 times more challenging than Labor’s, but still readily achievable. The Australian Capital Territory and South Australia have shown the way by adding new renewable electricity capacity equivalent to 90% and 40% respectively of their annual electricity consumption – mostly over a period of about 5 years. There are no practical constraints in terms of land because of Australia’s vast solar and wind resources.

Australia’s electricity system is becoming increasingly renewable. Continue reading

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

South Australian govt has already ruled out nuclear power

arclight-Smfrom “Adelaide Arclight”, 25 Nov 15 ,  There is barely  a mention of nuclear power in the 53 page  Panel’s final report  from the South Australia  Low Carbon Economy Experts Panel. You have to hunt to find:

on page 22:

“In the high-level analysis for South Australia undertaken for the Panel, the CCS and nuclear scenarios were not considered, and all data was derived from the 100% renewable scenario.”

“Given South Australia’s abundance of wind and high solar rating (DNI), South Australia has the capacity to move to 100% renewable energy more quickly than other States and has already made significant progress in decarbonising its electricity supply utilising these advantages.”

On page 24 it states:

“The modelling for the Panel did not include consideration of whether the nuclear and carbon capture and storage scenarios modelled at the national level are a cost-effective means to move to low carbon electricity for South Australia. The Deep Decarbonisation Pathways modelling found that nuclear power stations generally need to be of a certain size to be cost effective and thus precluded their consideration for use in smaller States such as South Australia.”

Can we take it from this that the nuclear scenario is already off the table entirely? The Premier’s and Minister Hunter’s joint press release is vague talking about “zero net emissions” and “low carbon economy”, but in context their endorsement of the report would seem to undercut any push for nuclear energy, leaving the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission with just an expansion of uranium mining and nuclear waste dumps to consider.

Given that the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission is in progress and that one of the report’s authors gave evidence at a public hearing, it can hardly be an oversight that nuclear was not considered.

Renewable  energy is the star – throughout the report:

map solar south-australia“…….South Australia can greatly expand its renewable energy generation, to theMap-South-Australia-wind point where on balance over the year all of the State’s electricity comes from renewables and a significant amount is exported interstate. According to the Panel’s preliminary analysis, this could occur relatively quickly. South Australia can therefore set an indicative goal of 100% renewable electricity with the timeframe to be decided. The timeframe will depend on expansion of interconnectors, costs of renewables and extent of support for renewable energy federally. The share of renewables in South Australia is expected to be double that in the National Electricity Market at any point in time up to 100%. Action….”

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

3 South Australian sites picked for nuclear trash toilet, but locals resist

The indigenous group Adnyamathanha Camp Law Mob says while the property is governed by a perpetual lease, meaning no native title claim can be lodged over the area, Aboriginal heritage legislation does apply.

“We demand that the Federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg publicly declare who he has consulted regarding these nominations, and who has the authority to nominate these si­tes,” spokeswoman Jillian Marsh said in a statement.

Cortlinye and Pinkawillinie KIMBA is known as “the Gateway to the Gawler Ranges”. But some residents fear the township would become known as “the Gateway to the National Nuclear Waste Facility” should it be selected as the future site to store radioactive waste. Local farmers Toni Scott, Sue Woolford, Helen Harris and their families have vowed to fight any move to build the facility in their district.

“They’re saying this is a voluntary process but how is this voluntary?,” Mrs Scott said.

“We’re not volunteering, we don’t want any money and we don’t want to live next to it.’’

The group vowed to be vocal during the Federal Government’s consultation in Kimba next week

Nuclear waste repository in SA: What do the locals think? The Advertiser, 22 Nov 2015 BRYAN LITTLELY, PAUL STARICK and MEAGAN DILLON   PICKING a site for a nuclear dump is as contentious a decision as you will find. Whichever of the six Australia-wide candidates that is chosen to be the nation’s nuclear repository will acquire a degree of notoriety.

South Australia nuclear toilet

South Australia is home to three potential dump locations. Continue reading

November 22, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, opposition to nuclear, politics, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Calare MP John Cobb blames local media for ‘sensationalism’ about nuclear waste dumping

radioactive trashMember for Calare John Cobb’s words to offer hope for Sallys Flat, Western Advocate, 22 Nov 15   Calare MP John Cobb has guaranteed no nuclear waste dump would be built in Sallys Flat if local residents remain “generally opposed” to it.

More than 100 residents turned out at a  community meeting last Tuesday to voice their anger about Sallys Flat being shortlisted as one of six sites to potentially host the new permanent waste dump.

Mr Cobb also came under fire at that meeting for saying he was not concerned about the prospect of a nuclear waste dump being established at Sallys Flat and claiming the waste that would be dumped in the region was so benign “you could sleep on it”.

But in a written statement issued on Friday, Mr Cobb blamed the local media for “sensationalising” the issue and failing to tell the people of Sallys Flat there would be no nuclear waste dump in their backyard without their support…….

November 22, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Greens spell out their policy for 90% renewable energy target

greensGreens unveil push for 90% target for renewable energy by 2030

Policy proposes new authority to oversee $5bn of construction in clean energy generation and a 15-year pipeline of projects through direct investment. The Greens will seek to build momentum for more ambitious action on climate change by calling for the creation of a new government authority to help Australia reach a 90% target for renewable energy by 2030.

The leader of the Greens, Richard Di Natale, said the policy to be released on Sunday showed the type of “real leadership” the country should display as world leaders prepared for climate negotiations in Paris next month.

The party has previously adopted a goal of ensuring Australia obtains 90% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, but the new policy document spells out how this could be achieved. Continue reading

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

Nuclear lobby hosts 5 Kimba officials in tour of Lucas Heights nuclear recator


Kimba officials take nuclear fact-finding mission to Lucas Heights after toxic dump short listing, ABC Radio 20 Nov 15  The World Today  By Tom Fedorowytsch Officials from Kimba, the tiny town home to two possible sites for a radioactive waste dump in South Australia, have visited Australia’s only nuclear reactor in Sydney.

Mayor Dean Johnson was among the small group of five people to be shown the reactor and waste facility at Lucas Heights, southwest of Sydney’s centre.

“We feel the tour has provided us now with a much more thorough overview and an understanding of what a repository would look like, and probably some of the keys to properly and safely handling and storing that waste,” the mayor said.

Two of the Federal Government’s six proposed sites — Pinkiwilinie and Cortlinye — fall within the Kimba council region. Other sites making up the Government’s shortlist include Barndioota in South Australia, Hale in the Northern Territory, Sallys Flat in New South Wales and Oman Ama in Queensland.

A $10 million sweetener for infrastructure and community development will be given to the local area that accepts the waste.


……..’Everyone has right to say no’: farmer  While Cr Johnson and the council weigh up whether to support a nuclear waste dump, some residents of Kimba — especially farmers — are deeply opposed to the idea.

As a farmer, the perception and stigma attached to a nuclear waste dump, could have ramifications on this clean and green reputation we have in agriculture.

Farmer Peter Woolford

“To be quite frank I think it’s totally irresponsible to be putting one of these in a food producing area,” Peter Woolford, a farmer who works land next door to one of the sites, said. “We obviously have the safety issue, but you know, we have things like land values,” he said.

“Who’s going to buy a property alongside a nuclear waste dump? I think we have to be real about that.”

Mr Woolford said he would not consider taking a tour of Lucas Heights.

“Well I don’t think I need to, at the end of the day surely everyone has the right to say no, and that’s what we’re doing. This has been forced upon us,” he said. “As a farmer, the perception and stigma attached to a nuclear waste dump, could have ramifications on this clean and green reputation we have in agriculture.”

Formal consultation will ramp up in Kimba in the next few weeks, and a decision to proceed will be made next year.

November 20, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Australia, spinbuster | 2 Comments

Queensland govt joins community in ‘major concerns’ over nuclear waste facility at Oman-ama

Queensland-nuclear-freeQueensland Government says it has ‘major concerns’ over nuclear wasteradioactive trash facility at Oman-ama RENEE VIELLARIS FEDERAL POLITICS THE COURIER-MAIL NOVEMBER 20, 2015

THE State Government could team up with a local com­munity to stop a proposed nuclear dump. A landholder at Oman Ama, 250km southwest of Brisbane, is competing against five other locations across Australia to become the nation’s first ­nuclear dump site.

The news shocked local residents throughout the Darling Downs, with some fearing terrorists attacks and worried for their long-term health.

The Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science sent repre­sentatives to meet with resi­dents at Inglewood this week.

Energy Minister Mark Bailey said the State Government was given limited information about the Turnbull Government’s recent announcement about its preferred sites.

“Queensland currently prohibits the construction of a facility to hold nuclear waste, under the Nuclear Facilities Prohibition Act. The Government has no plans to alter the legislation,” Mr Bailey told The Courier-Mail yesterday.

“The Queensland Government has major concerns that a nuclear waste dump could be located so close to a community.”…….

November 20, 2015 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull “browns down” OECD deal to limit coal subsidies

According to the Australian Greens, the Turnbull government’s deal could allow the development of up to 16,000MW of extra coal plants – already in the planning pipeline – to be financed.

Waters,-Larissa-Senator-1Greens Senator and climate spokesperson, Larissa Waters, said the Turnbull government’s “grubby gambit” had tipped the scales against clean energy in these developing countries, and towards coal – a situation that would benefit Australia’s resources sector.

Turnbull accused of “browning down” OECD coal subsidy fossil-fuel-industryTurnbull climate 2 facedcuts, By  on 18 November 2015 The Turnbull government has been accused of “browning down” the deal to limit global coal plant subsidies, struck this week by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, after the compromise it proposed alongside South Korea was worked into the agreement. Continue reading

November 19, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Nuclear Medicine – the Fig Leaf on the Nuclear industry

Lucas-wastes Medical radioactive wastes — the nuclear industry fig leaf, Independent Australia, 17 Nov 15  With modern developments in the non-nuclear production of medical isotopes, perhaps it’s also time to shut down the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor and stop producing dangerous radioactive trash, writes Noel Wauchope.

Watching the Australian media last week, you would be sure that the government’s hunt for a nuclear waste disposal site was solely to do with medical wastes. Rarely do they mention the real impetus for this hasty search, which is Australia’s current obligation to take back processed nuclear wastes from France. Later, we will have to receive similar wastes returning from UK. …..


the vast majority of medical radioisotopes have very short half-lives, so there’s no need for them to be moved beyond the site of use…. The real problem is the returning intermediate level wastes from Australia’s used nuclear fuel rods reprocessed overseas….

it must be acknowledged that the medical radioisotopes produced at Lucas Heights do have their valuable uses in diagnostics and in the treatment of cancers.

However, it also must be recognised that all these radioisotopes can be produced without use of a nuclear reactor. This is happening increasingly and, rather like the distributed renewable energy boom, the world could be on the brink of a distributed medical radioisotope boom.  Continue reading

November 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health, New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Australian Conservation Foundation wants wide-ranging public review into Australia’s nuclear materials

scrutiny-Nuclear waste: Review needed before permanent disposal site, say environmentalists, SMH  , Legal affairs, health and science reporter November 13, 2015
“……Environmentalists fear that a permanent site would pave the way for the nuclear waste of other countries to be stored in Australia, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last month remarking that Australia could expand its nuclear industry, including leasing local uranium overseas.

Dave Sweeney, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s national nuclear campaigner, said on Friday: “There is no public health or radiological imperative to rush the movement of material.”

He said there should be a wide-ranging public review into how, where, and why we produce nuclear material, with clear policies “best worked through when you’re not searching for a postcode”.

Mr Sweeney, a member of the government’s independent advisory panel on nuclear waste, insisted this was “not a stalling tactic”. Environmental groups were prepared to approach a review in good faith, he said: “We genuinely believe that getting a lasting, scientifically responsible solution that enjoys a high level of community consent is through an open review process, with a full range of management options.”

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s (ANSTO) existing facility in Lucas Heights in Sydney, was the “least worst” option for storing waste until a national independent review was completed, he said, with federal police and people with nuclear expertise already based there.

The site held most of Australia’s more-radioactive waste, and now included a national facility for extended interim storage, he said. It would also hold nuclear waste which is due to return to Australia next month, after being sent to France between 1996 and 2009. Continue reading

November 13, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australian govt: slap in the face for its own Standing Committee, on uranium sales to India

Australia Ignores Red Light On Uranium Exports To India, Huffington Post,  13/11/2015,  The federal government has delivered a stiff slap in the face to due process and evidence-based policy development by ignoring an unambiguous red light on planned uranium sales to India.


It was only two months ago that the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties delivered a well-considered report into the controversial plan to sell Australian uranium to India. The government-controlled Committee identified a number of practical steps needed to address safety, security and legal uncertainty around the deal.

Importantly the committee’s report clearly recommended against uranium sales at this time or under the current terms of the Australia-India Nuclear Co-operation Agreement, and outlined a series of pre-conditions required before any future sales to India.

These include the full separation of military and civil nuclear facilities, the establishment of an independent nuclear regulatory authority, a review of the adequacy and independence of the regulatory framework, IAEA verification that inspections of nuclear facilities are of best practice standard, improved decommissioning and radioactive waste planning and more.

But, earlier this week, the government chose to ignore these recommendations — emphatically stating that “the Government does not accept the Committee’s recommendation that exports of uranium to India should be deferred.” Continue reading

November 13, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull all tied up over Climate Change and Paris Conference

Turnbull straightjacketMalcolm Turnbull: Verbal acrobatics required for Paris climate logo Paris climate1talks, Independent Australia, 8 November 2015, Malcolm Turnbull will need to utilise his obvious talent for rhetoric to convince a global audience at the Paris climate talks in November, as there is no substance to the Government’s “Direct Action” climate policy, says Noel Wauchope.

Australia’s new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has an appealing and glib turn of phrase. He’s going to need that talent when he speaks at the United Nations Paris Climate Conference in late November.

The thing is, Malcolm has to sell to the conference Australia’s current policy on climate change. The Government’s “Direct Action” climate policy is unchanged, despite the departure of climate sceptic Tony Abbott. Its flagship is the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF).

The ERF boils down to tax-payer handouts to polluting companies that volunteer to cut their greenhouse emissions. There is no enforcement policy, meaning that the companies get the money, and for a year or more, do not need to show that they have reduced emissions.

After a year, the government proposes a ‘safeguards mechanism’, to be explained fully then, so allowing the companies plenty of leeway to lobby to make it meaningless. ……..

What happened to Turnbull? Mark Kenny & James Massola wrote in The Age in February:

‘Amid feverish speculation over the leadership, unconfirmed reports also claimed Mr Turnbull had moved to assuage fears in the conservative wing of the party that his return to the leadership would see a reprise of the carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme. It was claimed Mr Turnbull had promised, in a secret deal, that there would be no such reprise if elected.’

More recently, Kenny expressed it in this way:

‘Turnbull has his hands tied, having lost the leadership in 2009 to Abbott for supporting emissions trading, and then having regained it in 2015 on the express condition of opposing it. Release from such Houdini-esque chains will take some doing.’…….

Turnbull’s support for nuclear waste dumping in Australia might go down okay at the Paris talks. There will be a strong push there for nuclear power to be portrayed as cure for a climate change. At present, “new nuclear” is hamstrung in the U.S. because there has to be a waste solution before it can go ahead. ……

However, to persuade the world on Australia’s entire climate inaction package is a task that will demand Turnbull’s very best linguistic acrobatics.

Malcolm Turnbull faces an epic task to keep faith with Liberal Coalition climate denialists, while making Australia’s pathetic climate policy look at all reasonable to the global audience.,8356

November 9, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Christopher Pyne joins Australia’s pro nuclear dance troupe

Christopher Pyne signals turnaround on nuclear Fin Rev, by Primrose Riordan, Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said on Wednesday arguments against storing nuclear waste were “old fashioned” – nine months after refusing to support a nuclear industry in his home state of South Australia. (Pyne is last on the line-up below)
nuclear dance troupe  15 1A

In February Mr Pyne said he did not support either a nuclear enrichment industry or nuclear waste storage in South Australia. “I don’t support a nuclear waste dump in South Australia,” he told the ABC.

Now, he has softened his stance, saying he will have a look at proposals to start an industry.

“I’m looking forward to the royal commission’s findings and if Kevin Scarce can convince the Australian public through his Royal Commission that we should go down the track of investing in a nuclear industry, well I’m interested in having a look at it. I’m not convinced but I’m happy to look at it,” he said,……

Mr Pyne signalled he may be open to nuclear waste storage, a politically explosive issue in the state.

“There are countries around the world which have managed to solve the issue of the storage of nuclear waste, so I think that is a bit of an old-fashioned argument,” he said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last month said Australia should consider getting involved in the nuclear fuel cycle of production, export and storage and Assistant Science Minister Karen Andrews said that developing a nuclear waste disposal industry was an option…….

Earlier this year Mr Pyne had cautioned of the political dangers of dredging up the issue.

November 6, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Trans Pacific Partnership fails the environment, ignores climate change

Climate change missing from full Trans-Pacific Partnership text, The Age  November 5, 2015   “…….this is the first time Australians have had a chance to see what the federal government has been negotiating on their behalf for over five years.

Matthew Rimmer, Professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation Law at the Queensland University of Technology, told Fairfax Media it looks like US trade officials have been “green-washing” the agreement.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull,  last month called the deal “a gigantic foundation stone” for the economy. 

“The environment chapter confirms some of the worst nightmares of environmental groups and climate activists,” Dr Rimmer said.

“The agreement has poor coverage of environmental issues, and weak enforcement mechanisms. There is only limited coverage of biodiversity, conservation, marine capture fisheries, and trade in environmental services. The final text of the chapter does not even mention ‘climate change’ – the most pressing global environmental issue in the world.”

Controversially, the deal includes a clause giving foreign companies the right to sue Australian governments if they introduce laws they say have harmed their investments.

text TPP

Dr Patricia Ranald from the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network said the “safeguards” Mr Robb claimed he had won to prevent foreign tobacco companies suing Australian governments for pursuing anti-smoking policies do not appear strong enough.

“The general ‘safeguards’ in the text are similar to those in other recent agreements which have not prevented cases against health and environmental laws,” Dr Ranald said.

“Public health groups have influenced governments to include in the text the option of more clearly excluding future tobacco control laws from ISDS cases, which is important and has angered the tobacco lobby. But this also begs the question of how effective are the general ‘safeguards’ for other public health and environmental laws.”

Dr Rimmer also criticised the investment chapter, saying it was one of the most “labyrinthine” in the agreement……..

November 6, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment


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