Australian news, and some related international items

CSIRO prints solar panels!

solar-panel-printer-CSIROThe Power Of The Press: CSIRO Installs Solar Panel Printer By Amy McQuire  Solar technology In Australia took a step forward recently, with the installation of a machine that can print solar panels. Amy McQuire reports.

Printable solar panels could power our laptops and rooftops – even our skyscrapers – sooner than we think after a new solar-cell printer, the nation’s largest, was recently installed at the CSIRO.

The printer, worth $200,000 and funded by the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VOSCC), is able to print organic solar cells ten times the size of what was previously possible, and straight onto paper-thin plastic or steel.

It’s a faster and more cost-effective method than solar panels using traditional silicon cells (used to power objects like our calculators) because it uses organic polymers (a bonding of different materials) that absorb sunlight , generate charges and produce electricity.

Because these organic solar panels are more related to materials like cling wrap they are thin, flexible and printable.

The cells produce 10-50 watts of power per square metre (50 watts is enough to power a small laptop computer) and they can be printed fast, at speeds of up to ten metres per minute.

But the printer is not entirely new technology, the CSIRO says. It’s similar to what you would use to screen-print T-shirts. CSIRO materials scientist Dr Scott Watkins said the aim was to make the technology as accessible as possible.

“We’re developing the technologies to work with existing printing processes, so the printers that we’ve got are the same sort of printers that you could use for paper, or even things like t-shirts, and we’re developing our processes to be able to use these existing printing technologies so that the barrier to entry for manufacturing these new printed solar cells is as low as possible,” Dr Watkins said.

The printer represents a significant step forward for the VOSCC team, which is made up of a consortium of the CSIRO and the Melbourne and Monash Universities, who have been working on printing solar cells since 2007.

The size of the solar cells were increased to an A3 size sheet of paper from the size of a coin in only three years.

The CSIRO says the possibilities are growing and there are companies interested in taking the technology commercial.

“Eventually we see these being laminated to windows that line skyscrapers,” VICOSC project coordinator Dr David Jones said.

“By printing directly to materials like steel, we’ll also be able to embed cells onto roofing materials.”

September 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Western Australia to lose 1000s of jobs if RET is scrapped – Senator Ludlam

Ludlam-in-SenateLudlam warns of job losses in wake of Renewable Energy Target review   WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has warned $800 million will be slashed from the WA renewable energy sector if the Abbott Government dumps the Renewable Energy Target.

The Warbuton Review into the RET, commissioned by the federal government in February, has recommended scrapping the target, which Senator Ludlam says will see up to $10.7 billion in renewable energy investment head overseas, threatening 21,000 jobs.

In WA, 16 per cent of households are solar-powered, and Mr Ludlam said the RET had benefited Perth’s poorer suburbs.

“A study by the Greens shows that WA’s poorer suburbs have the highest uptake in solar, which has collectively saved $87million a year or $560 per household,” he said. “WA is in a unique position to be the best investors in clean energy with our plentiful sunshine and independent energy market.

“WA now boasts 414 accredited solar installers and scrapping the RET would result in a loss of thousands of local jobs. The Greens has shown that if more investment into clean energy was supported, another 27,000 jobs could be created.”

A spokeswoman for State Environment minister Albert Jacob said the potential scrapping was federal government issue.

Comment is being sought from Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt.

September 15, 2014 Posted by | energy, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Fukushima Nuclear Plant manager envisioned catastrophe for eastern Japan

Top-Secret Fukushima Interview: All the melted nuclear fuel will escape from containment vessel … it’s completely exposed — Nuclear annihilation of entire eastern part of Japan envisioned

Asahi Shimbun
Sept 12, 2014 (emphasis added): Yoshida feared nuclear ‘annihilation’ of eastern Japan, testimony shows — Continue reading

September 15, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reports on solutions for electricity needs


In an accompanying media release, IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin said speeding up the adoption of renewable energy technologies is the most feasible way of reducing carbon emissions and avoiding catastrophic global warming.

Speeding Up Renewable Energy Access Critical for Climate, Health and Economy: Report Chris Rose, 14 Sep 14 Renewable energies are increasingly seen as the best solution to a growing global population demanding affordable access to electricity while reducing the need for toxic fossil fuels that are creating unsustainable levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

That’s the underlying message of a new report — REthinking Energy: Towards a New Power System — published this week by the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

“Rapid technological progress, combined with falling costs, a better understanding of financial risk and a growing appreciation of wider benefits, means that renewable energy is increasingly seen as the answer,” the 94-page report says. Continue reading

September 15, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Canberra protestors worried about wind farms disturbing their rural setting

wind-farm-evil-1Residents fighting Jupiter wind farm plan Canberra protest, Canberra Times September 15, 2014  Land owners in communities along the Goulburn-Braidwood Road are continuing their self-described “David and Goliath battle” to stop a $400 million wind farm development proposed for 12,000 hectares in the area.

The Residents Against Jupiter Wind Turbines group last week said progress was being made in the fight, after another community meeting at Tarago and contact with Goulburn MP and planning Minister Pru Goward.

Planning is underway for a demonstration outside the ACT Legislative Assembly on Tuesday as group members want territory residents to know the local impact of some renewable energy sources.

An Australian-Spanish joint venture is developing the 110 turbine wind farm on the properties of 25 landholders. The individual turbines are set to be more than 110 metres high, with three 63-metre rotor blades, near small towns at Lake Bathurst, Tarago, Mayfield, Boro, Mount Fairy and Manar.

Group spokesman Michael Crawford said many of the residents were current and former Commonwealth and state public servants who had migrated to the area, east of Goulburn, and were desperate to preserve their rural setting……..

The group believes the state’s wind farm development guidelines are inadequate, and fail to take full account of impacts including noise, visual changes, sleep and health effects and property values…..

The company has several proposed wind farm projects in New South Wales and Victoria.

Read more:

September 15, 2014 Posted by | ACT, wind | Leave a comment

Is Australia ready for the financial impacts of this warming world?

Can Australia prosper in a 2°C finance world? REneweconmy, By Giles Parkinson on 11 September 2014 “……HSBC: The path to a low-carbon economy means increasing energy efficiency, scaling up low-carbon energy provision and embedding resilience to the consequences of warmer temperatures. The idea is to lower the chances of the most catastrophic climate system effects (through reducing emissions) as well as prepare for some of the impacts.

RE: Australia lags the world on energy efficiency measures, particularly in relation to vehicles and transport. Coalition governments have dismantled basic housing requirements, and the federal government is yet to act on the national energy efficiency plan. Despite all this, consumption per household has fallen more than 10 per cent in the last few years, mostly because people have installed rooftop solar and have bought more efficient appliances.

HSBC: In a 2°C world, the development of energy would take into consideration both the benefits of energy access (e.g. education, economy, time saved and spent doing other things etc.) as well as the associated costs with certain types of energy (e.g. health, climate change, pollution).

RE: Australia is not doing too well on that. It has deliberately ignored climate change and health impacts in its consideration of the renewable energy target, and sought to dismantle the Climate Change Authority (which thinks about these things) and has already abolished the Climate Commission and cut funding to the CSIRO, the leading scientific body. The only criteria for the RET Review was the cost to coal generators.

HSBC: The concept of co-benefits has gained momentum in recent years. For example, tackling the sources of pollution in China helps tackle climate change at the same time. Alternatively, tackling climate change through policy and innovation could bring other co-benefits such as reduced health costs (since the sources of pollution and climate change are similar).

A recent study by MIT, published in Nature Climate Change, finds that the “co-benefits…. May offset some or all of the near-term costs of GHG mitigation.” For instance, the study finds that a cap-and-trade system might cost $US14 billion, but the associated air pollution health benefits from implementing this system could be of the order of $US139 billion. For reference, $US6.5 trillion was spent globally on health in 2010 (WHO).

RE: Co-benefits have not entered the vocabulary of the Coalition government, with climate change deniers advising it in four key industry areas – banking and finance, renewable energy, business, and budget measures.

HSBC: The three main reasons why capital has not been channeled in the right direction for a low-carbon economy, historically, are: unfavourable economics for low-carbon, weak policy signals and the uncertain timing of high CO22 impacts.

RE: Australia exemplifies this. Having attracted billions of dollars in low-carbon investments in recent years, thanks to the short-lived carbon price and the renewables target, that capital is now drying up, with major international companies leaving, or warning they will direct capital elsewhere. Only households, keen to offset rising electricity bills, are keeping up momentum, although this is largely confined to rooftop solar and LED lighting.

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

Abbott self-publicises on Aboriginal land: he cuts funding to Aboriginal Child and Family Centres

Aboriginal family and children’s centres in limbo SMH, September 14, 2014  The future of some of the most disadvantaged children across Australia is now in limbo, following the federal government’s withdrawal of funding from 38 Aboriginal Child and Family Centres.

“We are in no man’s land. No one wants to take ownership,” said Catherine Edwards-Bott, the executive director of the indigenous-run Brewarrina Business Co-operative. The co-op manages two Aboriginal Child and Family Centres in the poorest local government areas in NSW.

These centres were previously funded under the $300 million “closing the gap” partnership between the states and the federal government to provide early childhood services and health programs to Aboriginal children and their families……..

26 have no long-term guarantee of funding. Some had barely opened before funding was axed. Some had not moved into custom-built premises. Two out of the 38 have received nothing since the National Partnership Agreement, introduced three years ago, was cut in June 2014. Another 11 centres have been given some limited funding that will last between six months and two years.

“To say it is a mess is an understatement. To say that Aboriginal people feel betrayed is an understatement,” said Frank Hytten, the chief executive of the Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC). “This is yet another betrayal by white fellas of Aboriginal people. Promises made and promises broken.”

Many people were overlooking the centres’ role as community-managed hubs……

A Victorian centre, Bubup Wilam at Thomastown, has attracted 58 children since it opened, with many going on to the local primary school that did not even know these children lived in the area. Half of its 26 staff members are Aboriginal. Like many of the centres, Bubup Wilam runs an early learning program, health checks, nutrition and family support services.

In Fitzroy Crossing, the Baya Gawiy early childcare centre – with similar services to Bubup Wilam – will close in late December if no other funding is found.

Its manager, Sarah Cleaves, said the centre played a huge role in getting Aboriginal children ready for school. “Many of our children have early life trauma, some have foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or they are developmentally delayed. So the integrated service provision is designed to get them to start school on par with other Australian children.”

In addition to providing the children with 80 per cent of their nutritional needs, the centre’s program was designed to create an early love of learning and teach children about structure, show them how to sit down and listen to a teacher.

“If they haven’t been to a centre like ours, they hit school and they see it as alien,” Ms Cleaves said.

The centre’s closure will also mean many Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal professionals whose children attend the childcare centre may have to leave the remote town because there are no other childcare services in the Kimberleys.

“We have a manager of Centrelink [child], the [children of the] only permanent GP in town, health services … and other services who run BP roadhouse, their children all come to us,” she said.

September 15, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

While Abbott struts about in Arnhem Land, Aboriginal legal aid funds are cut

Abbott’s Top End trip: Indigenous legal aid agency seeks meeting with PM to discuss funding cuts, ABC News, 12 Sept 14 By political reporter Anna Henderson Tony Abbott will face fresh questions about the federal budget and spending on Indigenous affairs when he touches down in north-east Arnhem Land on Sunday at the start of a week-long trip to the Top End.

Some organisations are already taking action to find savings even before knowing the scope of their potential budget cuts.

For decades the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) has been providing legal aid in the remote town of Nhulunbuy, on the northern tip of Arnhem Land, as well as in the nearby community of Yirrkala and surrounding outstations.

But the agency is set to close its doors in Nhulunbuy at the end of the year, in anticipation of severe budget cuts, and is seeking a meeting with the Prime Minister during his visit…….

Eighty per cent of inmates in Territory jails are Aboriginal. In the juvenile justice system, it is 95 per cent.

The closure of the NAAJA office means those needing to see a lawyer face-to-face will have to fly or make the massive drive to Darwin, or wait for a fly-in fly-out lawyer to come to them.

The agency’s principal lawyer, Jonathon Hunyor, said the other option was a phone consultation with someone in Darwin.

“Often the issues that our clients bring to us are very complicated, they can be very sensitive and they can be very personal,” he said.

“So issues like child protection or issues like a medical complication where bad service was provided by the hospital, or a family law issue where someone is the victim of abuse.

“They are very difficult things to talk about and they don’t want to have to talk about them over the phone.”

He said ultimately Indigenous clients would not get the representation they deserved, “which means that Aboriginal people get second-rate justice”.  ………

Ms Yunupingu fears those seeking legal advice may travel to Darwin on their own, without family support……….

May’s federal budget included plans to strip half a billion dollars from Indigenous programs administered by the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Health portfolios.

September 15, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Australia’s situation on renewable energy targets

Coal and where Australia stands on renewable energy targets September 15, 2014   Colleen Ricci writes on Issues in the News for Education online“……..-What about Australia?

Despite a tentative global shift away from coal, Prime Minister Abbott says there would be “few things more damaging to our future” than leaving coal in the ground and insists that it will continue to “fuel human progress” as an “affordable energy source”. He says Australia should be an “energy superpower” and use “nature’s gifts” to supply the world’s energy. While agreeing that it is “prudent” to reduce carbon emissions where possible, Mr Abbott says that this should not be accomplished by “ostracising any particular fuel” or “harming economic growth”.

In providing the bulk of Australia’s electricity and billions of dollars to the economy through thriving exports, the fossil fuel industry continues to be supported by government policies with taxpayer funded subsidies, tax incentives and infrastructure approvals. However many argue that despite these benefits, there are public health and environmental issues that cannot be ignored. For example, the potential damage to the Great Barrier Reef as a result of the increased shipping of coal exports. Others say we can’t be “the world’s quarry” forever; suggesting that the nation’s future could be equally prosperous by further harnessing Australia’s other abundant “natural gifts” such as wind and sunshine and investing even more in clean energy.

What happened at Victoria’s Hazelwood Mine?

In Victoria, brown coal production occurs in the Latrobe Valley at the Hazelwood, Loy Yang and Yallourn power plants. Earlier this year, when embers from a nearby forest fire took hold in the Hazelwood mine, the public health costs associated with coalmining became apparent for many Australians. The fire burned for 45 days, releasing toxic smoke, carbon monoxide and ash across surrounding towns. Thousands of residents were affected and complained of blood noses, headaches and sore eyes. Others with existing health conditions experienced a worsening of symptoms.

Research indicates that the human impacts from coal emissions include lung cancer, bronchial and respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular disease: more than200,000 coal-related deaths occur around the world annually. In Australia, coal-emission related health impacts cost $2.6 billion each year. Many argue that it should be mandatory for all coalmines to regularly monitor air, soil and water quality and are alarmed that this isn’t common practice.

What is the Renewable Energy Target?

The Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme was designed to ensure that 20 per cent of Australia’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2020. At a cost of $22 billion, it is one of the measures intended to help Australia cut greenhouse emissions by 5 per cent (on 2000 levels) by 2020: a target both major political parties are ostensibly committed to. Current figures indicate that the RET will overtake its target and reach more than 25 per cent by 2020; partially due to falling electricity demand brought on by the decline in manufacturing and improved household efficiencies.

However, a recent review of the RET commissioned by the federal government has led to fears for the scheme’s future. Headed by self-professed climate sceptic Dick Warburton, the review makes numerous recommendations, including the option to scale back the target. It claims the RET is increasing the electricity supply at a time when demand is falling and consequently driving down wholesale electricity prices. The panellists further argue that renewable energy investment is not “justifiable” when “lower-cost alternatives” already exist in the economy.

Many are angered by this assessment, saying it misses the point of the RET entirely. They say that increasing the amount of renewable energy in the system should result in less dependence on fossil fuels; asserting that the scheme is therefore working exactly as intended and should be left alone.

Recent Headlines

“The RET may be a success, but that’s exactly why its on the Coalition hitlist” The Guardian, August 29

“Exporting dirty habit makes for a grubby future” The Age, August 9

“BHP chief Mackenzie defends coal industry despite leftist leanings” Sydney Morning Herald, August 4

“We must kill dirty coal before it kills us” The Age, September 3



September 15, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The Anthropocene Age and the role of nuclear power – theme for September 14

Great changes in the Earth’s history are marked in geological Ages, with great changes caused by events such as volcanoes, meteorite impacts, climate change and the movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates, and  occurring over millions of years.  Now geologists are seeing changes in the Earth that are occurring over merely  one hundred years.

These changes are caused by the activities of one species – human beings. They usher in a new Age – the Anthropocene (or human-caused ) Epoch.

The changes in the Anthropocene Age are already profound:

  • Landscape – Deforestation, desertification, mountains carved by mining, rivers dammed and rerouted, islands sinking under sea level rise.
  • Ecology – massive extinctions of species – loss of habitat, loss of biodiversity
  • Climate change – rise in greenhouse gases in atmosphere, heating of air and oceans, acidification of oceans, glaciers melting, sea level rise
  • Water - shortage of clean drinking water, pollution of groundwater and surface waters.

Those are just a few “headlines” for the changes that we have already wrought on the only liveable planet.

THE NUCLEAR CONTRIBUTION to the Anthropocene Epoch has already been great – with the landscape scarring effect of thousands of atmospheric and underground atomic bomb tests.

Radioactive pollution – from atomic bomb making, and testing, and from several parts of the nuclear power chain has affected soil, groundwater and air.

The nuclear lobby loves to talk about “background radiation” as if it’s all naturally caused and benign. However it includes radionuclides that never before existed on Earth – plutonium, strontium, cesium, carbon-14, and radioactive iodine from atomic bomb testing and other nuclear activities.

Diagram Radioactivity Releases

September 13, 2014 Posted by | Christina themes | Leave a comment

Australia’s Aboriginal Central Land Council suspicious of the government’s nuclear waste dump plans

CLC seeks more Red Centre nuclear waste dump answers By Robert Herrick Fri 12 Sep 2014,

Traditional owners in central Australia say they are frustrated by the Commonwealth’s process for nominating a site for a nuclear waste storage facility on Aboriginal land.

The Federal Government is seeking a new location for the facility, after a nominated site at Muckaty Station, near Tennant Creek, was abandoned.

The Government has given the Northern and Central land councils until the end of the month to put forward an uncontested site for a nuclear waste dump, before considering proposals from all landowners.


Traditional owners in the Tanami Desert are offering a site 540 kilometres west of Alice Springs.

However, the Central Land Council (CLC) said Commonwealth officials could not answer all the questions put to them at a meeting this week at the Tanami Mine, including how waste would be transported.

The CLC says it has a responsibility to ensure traditional owners are fully informed of the potential impacts of a nuclear waste dump before it can back any nomination.

September 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

Forget the hype – Australia’s uranium trade with India is of little economic benefit

Since the uranium policy was overturned in 2011, bilateral trade has gone backwards and now stands at A$15 billion. Expectations of direct and profitable investment by Indian companies in Australia’s uranium industry are likely to fall flat.
text-uranium-hypeThe future is renewable, not radioactive Jim Green 12 Sept 14 India and Australia have signed a nuclear cooperation agreement that may open the door for uranium sales. However, obstacles remain and claims of an economic bonanza for both countries ignore facts.
 A 2011 report in Australia’s Fairfax press claimed that uranium sales to India could generate A$1.7 billion in annual exports. But according to the World Nuclear Association, India’s uranium demand this year will amount to just 913 tonne — 1.4% of the world’s demand.

If Australia supplies 20% of that demand, uranium export revenue will increase by 3% — two orders of magnitude short of the figure in the Fairfax press.

Indian demand would have to grow ten-fold just to sustain one small uranium mine in Australia. Projections of exponential growth leading to hundreds of gigawatts (GW) of nuclear capacity in India should be disregarded. Continue reading

September 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

1984 Royal Commission concluded that Australian servicemen were nuclear guinea pigs

Maralinga signTODAY IN HISTORY - Bendigo Advertiser 12 Sept 14

1984 – Australian Royal Commission starts an investigation into whether servicemen were deliberately exposed to radiation in British nuclear tests at Maralinga in 1956-57. It will conclude that they were.

September 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Check on how the electricity utilities charge you big-time for solar hot water

a-cat-CANI think you could fix this excessive cost problem by switching to Powershiop

Dennis Matthews, 13 Sept 14 Matching supply and demand has always been a problem and is not unique to renewables.

An interesting thing about wind power in SA is that the % installed capacity (MW) is the same as the % delivered electricity (MWhr). In other words, wind power is no worse than non-renewables in terms of the amount of time that it is generating.

Sola-Kleen-Hot-waterConcerning off-peak electricity. This is very wasteful, you end up heating and reheating the same water because of heat losses, especially over night. In addition in some areas off-peak electricity is controlled centrally through a square wave distortion (SWD) system. This means that off-peak is no longer just overnight. It can be any time of the day that suits the electricity utilities. This has the effect of undercutting solar hot water systems. After sunrise, when solar starts to heat a solar hot water system, the electricity utility can, and does in my area, switch on the off-peak heater. In order to prevent this I have to physically switch off the off-peak hot water system at the meter box and turn it on again late in the day when solar is no longer effective.

I suspect this is happening to a lot of people in SA with solar hot water and they are wondering why their bills are still high. Look for the SWD box (grey in my case) in the meter box. If you have one then you may have to do the same as me.

September 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, solar | Leave a comment

Shadow Environment Minister Jackie Trad exposes foolish decision of Queensland govt on uranium mining

Queensland--antinukeLNP under fire as companies target Qld uranium  | 12th Sep 2014 THE ALP has slammed the Newman government decision to grant mineral development leases to two companies planning to mine uranium in Queensland.

Shadow Environment Minister Jackie Trad accused the LNP of lying before the last election when it gave what she described as a clear commitment not to endorse uranium mining.

“The Premier gave a clear election commitment but the granting of six exploration licences shows once again the value of an LNP promise,” she said.

“In breaking the promise, the Newman Government is ignoring the widespread objections of Queenslanders, ignoring the substantial environmental risks associated with uranium mining, ignoring the risks associated with the transportation ofradioactive material and ignoring the risks to public health and safety.

“It is a massive betrayal of trust.

“We are just a few steps away from having trucks and trains filled with uranium making their way through communities to ports and waterways.”

Ms Trad accused the Newman Government of arrogantly ignoring the wishes of the majority so it could pander to the demands of powerful vested interest groups.

She said there had been no uranium extraction in Queensland since 1982. Any future State Labor government would move swiftly to reinstate the ban. “It remains our view that the risks and hazards inherent in uranium mining far outweigh the economic benefits,” Ms Trad said.

“Even if all known deposits of uranium were mined the expected royalties would only be around 1% of the state’s current royalty revenue.”Uranium mining simply doesn’t stack up on either economic or environmental grounds.”

Ms Trad will be on the Sunshine Coast as special guest at her party’s Sunshine Coast Hinterland branch forum on the environment and the Newman Government’s track record on green policy.

It will be held at Maleny Neighbourhood Centre on Saturday, September 27 at 2pm.

September 13, 2014 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment


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