Renewable energy transition is Australia’s future, whether Prime Minister Turnbull likes it or not.
Fossil fuel industries tell the Turnbull government what to think, and what to do. That’s why the government plans to axe the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
However, renewable energy IS happening in Australia. Renewables with energy storage, are here. Australia can get to zero emissions, as rooftop solar booms. Report finds 100% renewable grid plan“reliable, robust and stable” Energy expert Giles Parkinson has exposed the misinformation on rooftop solar and battery storage
While the Federal govt dithers, some States develop their own Renewable Energy Targets. Australia’s electricity industry strongly calls for a carbon price, and switch to clean energy. General Electric supports State-based renewable energy targets. EnergyAustralia is investing $1.5 billion in new wind and solar projects
This website continues to follow developments – see the category Energy. Here are some of the latest items:
Victoria. A NEW wave of wind farm developments is sweeping this State. New 116-turbine wind farm for the Wimmera. Solar energy park is seeking co-operative venture with sheep farming! Solar cooling systems in Echuca and Ballarat.
South Australia. Port Augusta is attracting solar energy developers. South Australia’s home solar batteries provided electricity throughout recent blackout. Sundrop Farms – desert solar powered agriculture -now internationally applauded.
Western Australia. Western Australian town to host large renewable energy grid. Retirees trading solar power. Solar switch for one of Australia’s biggest companies funded by community. Carnegie Wave Energy to build its first commercial wave plant in ENGLAND
New South Wales. Sydney students pioneer a shared solar and battery system for apartment block.
Tasmania. Tidal energy – Australian Maritime College launches new turbine in Tamar River
Australia’s conservative government fiddles on climate policy while the country burns, Guardian, Lenore Taylor, 20 Jan 17 When Malcolm Turnbull deposed Tony Abbott as prime minister, serious action on global warming was hoped for – but almost nothing has changed.
Australia’s January news has been full of official reports of record-breaking extreme weather devastating our ecosystems on land and in the sea and government ministers suggesting we build new coal-fired power stations, provide billion-dollar subsidised loans to rail lines for new coal mega-mines,increase coal exports to reduce temperature rises and reduce our ambitions for renewable power.
The disconnect is glaring but perhaps dimmed in the eyes of some readers because Australian politicians have been dissembling on climate change for decades, pretending it will be possible to do what we must without any impact on our position as the world’s largest coal exporter or our domestic reliance on brown coal-fired power, or without incurring any costs.
The Coalition government – which boasts as one of its proudest achievements the repeal of the former government’s emissions trading scheme – has a particular need for doublespeak.
Having run two election campaigns on the pledge of “axing the tax” with hyperbolic assertions that it would strangle the economy and impoverish households, it found it convenient to claim the discovery of the climate policy equivalent of a free lunch.
The Coalition has never resolved the bitter internal divisions with conservative climate doubters that saw Malcolm Turnbull overthrown as leader in 2009 owing to his support for carbon pricing, to be replaced by Tony Abbott, who had declared the settled science of climate change to be “crap” and believed coal was “good for humanity”.
In September 2015 Turnbull overthrew Abbott but, since then, climate change has barely rated a mention and the new prime minister has surprised many by apparently falling into line with the mineral industry’s argument that our coal exports are really doing the world a big favour.
Trump’s victory has emboldened the doubters – the resources minister, Matt Canavan, for example, enthused that “Donald Trump is good for fossil fuels, good for steel and good for Australia”.
But it has also coincided with more conflicting responses from the government.
Less than a day after the US election, the Turnbull government ratified the Paris agreement – the same agreement the new US president has vowed to “tear up” and that calls for zero net emissions by the second half of the century – describing it was a “watershed … that has galvanised global action”.
With the world recording its third year in a row of record temperatures and the Great Barrier Reef bleaching, any objective assessment would suggest the time for prevarication and obfuscation is long since past.
We’ll soon see. On 1 February, in his first major speech for the year, Turnbull will stand before the National Press Club to explain his policy on energy and the greenhouse gases it produces.
Experts from business, industry and the environment movement are wondering what he can possibly say.
For years the former environment minister had privately reassured stakeholdersthat a 2017 review would quietly morph the Direct Action policy into a so-called emissions intensity trading scheme and business and environment groups alike were clinging to those promises as the last hope for a credible climate policy and an end to the investment drought caused by years of mindless “climate wars” and policy uncertainty.
But late last year, despite advice that such a scheme would lead to lower household power prices, despite having bipartisan support and just hours after the current environment minister said the review would look at it, the government ruled it out…….https://www.theguardian.com/environment/commentisfree/2017/jan/20/australias-conservative-government-fiddles-on-climate-policy-while-the-country-burns
Luke Pearson, Sophie Verass | NITV 20 January 2017:
‘Much more has happened on this date beyond Arthur Phillip claiming Aboriginal land under the British Empire. As January 26 encroaches, we reflect some of the important historical moments.’
“1. You should know that… The First Fleet didn’t actually land in Australia on the 26th of January …
“2. You should know that… The first sanctioned marriage between an Aboriginal person and a convict, Robert & Maria Lock, occurred on the 26th January 1824 …
“3. You should know… What Henry Parkes said about the 1888 Centenary celebrations …
“4. You should know that… A significant Aboriginal protest in 1938 rallied against Australia Day and was called the ‘Day of Mourning’ …
“5. You should know that… In 1938, the 150th Anniversary, Aboriginal people were forced to participate in a reenactment of the landing of the First Fleet …
“6. You should know that… The Aboriginal Tent Embassy was established on the 26th January 1972 …
“7. You should know that… On 26 January 1988, more than 40,000 people staged the largest march in Sydney since the early 1970s Vietnam Moratorium demonstrations …
“8. You should know about… Archie Roach’s 1988 protest song, ‘Keep your handouts, give us back our land” …
“9. You should know that… Australia Day was not consistently celebrated on the 26th of January as a public holiday in all states and territories until 1994 …
“10. You should that… The triple j Hottest 100 wasn’t always on the 26th of January …
“And here’s a bonus bit of info – You should know that…
It wasn’t until 2013 that the Aboriginal flag and the Australian flag were raised together on Sydney Harbour Bridge for Australia Day … “
Leonardo DiCaprio highlights Israeli solar tech http://www.israel21c.org/leonardo-dicaprio-highlights-israeli-solar-tech/ Actor and environmentalist puts international spotlight on Megalim Solar Power project. JANUARY 22, 2017,Hollywood actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio uses his instagram account to spotlight environmental challenges facing the world and environmental breakthroughs.
As such, his 13.8 million followers were sent a photo of Megalim Solar Power’s Ashalim power station now being built in the Negev desert.
“The arid landscape of Israel’s Negev Desert will look like a futuristic movie in the near future. The country is building the tallest solar thermal tower in the world above its dusty sands,” writes DiCaprio on his post alongside the photo.
The Ashalim project will comprise 55,000 mirrors which will feed solar heat into a 240-meter-tall solar tower — believed to be the highest in the world.
“The tower should be able to produce enough power for about 5% of Israel’s population when it’s concluded,” writes DiCaprio. “The sunlight will be reflected by the mirrors to a boiler at the top of the tower. The boiler will then be able to convert them and heat water to steam to turn the turbine in a conventional power plant.”
The Ashalim power station, scheduled to be up and running by the end of the year, will combine three types of energy: solar thermal, photovoltaic and natural gas.
Donald Trump will eliminate landmark climate protection plan, says first post on White House website http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-white-house-president-global-warming-climate-change-environment-a7538206.html
The Climate Action Plan was introduced four years ago as a national strategy for tackling climate change Andrew Griffin @_andrew_griffin 21 January 2017 Donald Trump’s first post on the White House website suggests destroying the US’s strategy to tackle climate change.
After President Trump took over the site, he posted six “Issues” to its home page. The first of those is an “America First Energy Plan”.
The first proposal in that document suggests getting rid of “burdensome regulations on our energy industry”. Those include getting rid of “harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the US rule”.
President Trump doesn’t suggest a replacement for any of those regulations, and goes on to suggest that getting rid of them will save money and keep America secure.The Climate Action Plan was landmark legislation introduced by Barack Obama in June 2013. It served as a “national plan for tackling climate change”, according to the government.
The key parts of the plan were divided into three sections. Those outlined plans to cut carbon pollution in the US, actions to get the country ready for the effects of climate change, and plans for how to lead international efforts to address global warming.No part of the Mr Trump’s environmental document makes any mention of climate change or global warming – something that President Trump has in the past said was just a Chinese hoax. The only mention of the environment calls for “responsible stewardship of the environment”, but that refers only to keeping water and air clean. “Lastly, our need for energy must go hand-in-hand with responsible stewardship of the environment,” the document reads. “Protecting clean air and clean water, conserving our natural habitats, and preserving our natural reserves and resources will remain a high priority.”It also says that Donald Trump will focus the Environmental Protection Agency onto “protecting our air and water”, and presumably away from climate policies.
President Trump says that his environmental policies will join up with his economic ones, by encouraging more spending in the US economy. The document says that he will encourage the burning of coal, and the use of shale oil and gas in the US.By doing so, he will be able to use the revenues to pay for the rebuilding of “roads, schools, bridges and public infrastructure” that he promised to his voters. It will also help stimulate the agriculture industry, he claimed. President Trump says that his environmental policies will join up with his economic ones, by encouraging more spending in the US economy. The document says that he will encourage the burning of coal, and the use of shale oil and gas in the US.That will also allow the US to achieve energy independence from the OPEC alliance of oil producing countries. But President Trump says he will continue to work with countries in the Gulf – many of which are in OPEC – “to develop a positive energy relationship as part of our anti-terrorism strategy”.The document also calls for a new focus on coal and a revival of the country’s coal industry. President Trump has claimed that he will do that by backing “clean coal” – but it’s not clear that such a thing would actually be possible and whether such thing as clean coal could actually exist.
estimates by Obama’s EPA and academics have concluded that the overall economy-wide benefits from the rules, called the Clean Power Plan, or CPP, would quickly climb into the tens of billions of dollars a year.
Among other things, those analyses consider savings from reduced future impacts of rising seas, worsening droughts, intensifying storms and other effects of climate change caused by fossil fuel pollution.
Trump White House Distorts Wages Figure on First Day, Climate Central By John Upton 20 Jan 17 Shortly after Donald Trump was sworn in as president on Friday, the White House said that eliminating power plant climate rules, a clean water rule and other environmental regulations would “greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years.”
CIA documents reveal Pine Gap fears http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/cia-documents-reveal-pine-gap-fears/news-story/78dd781a58fe89fd6b7d455a662c8596 22 Jan 17 TENSION over world wheat prices led to fears by the US Government that Australia could shut the secret spy facility at Pine Gap.
A memo prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of East Asian Analysis shows the Americans were nervous Australia could lash out and use US-Australian joint facilities as a “bargaining chip” during the wheat prices stand-off in 1986.
It is among more than 900,000 documents, some of which were previously top secret, released by the CIA this week.
The briefing document says then-prime minister Bob Hawke was under political pressure from “militant farmers” to stand up for their interests as the US prepared to extend its “export enhancement program” to include the Soviet Union and China, which was expected to drive down wheat prices worldwide.
According to the memorandum, the Americans did not take the threats to close joint facilities seriously “but if the Senate proposal becomes law, tensions will be high and thoughts of making such threats will remain just below the surface”. “Our worst case scenario, on the other hand, would have the Australians refusing to negotiate a new ten-year agreement for the Joint Defense Space Research Facility at Pine Gap near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory (thus the facility would be subject to closure after October 1987 with a year’s notice),” the document read.
It said wheat farmers were the most vocal primary producers “and protest most often in Canberra”.
“Hawke undoubtably believes he cannot afford to ignore wheat farmers’ pleas to use his claimed ‘special relationship’ with the US administration to win them relief,” the memorandum read.
With an election looming, domestic pressure was on the prime minister to prove he could exert influence with the Americans. “In our judgment, the current US Senate proposal, if it becomes law, would confirm Australian farmers’ suspicions that Hawke is powerless to win relief from the US government and that Australia’s faithfulness to its responsibilities in the ANZUS alliance is meaningless to the US administration,” the document said.
New Hope passes federal hurdle
Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg approving New Hope Group’s planned $900m New Acland coal mine expansion. (subscribers only)
Global warming never ‘paused’ and could soon accelerate, warns Nasa scientist
Dr Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, describes suggestions that climate change had slowed down or stopped as ‘delusional’ and ‘bunk’, The Independent, Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent 21 January 2017 The idea that global warming “paused” has been comprehensively refuted by the record warm temperatures over the last three years – and the rate of increase could soon start to accelerate, a leading Nasa scientist has warned.
Dr Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said some people had been “confused” by temperatures that were below the average rate of increase, mistaking what was simply a blip as the sign of a long-term trend.
This, Dr Schmidt said, was “almost certainly” just another blip as random factors take temperatures above the average rising trend, which remains virtually the same as it has since the late 1990s.
But he also said the rising amount of energy being put into the atmosphere and oceans as a result of greenhouse gas emissions had led scientists to believe the pace of global warming would get faster over the next decades…….http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/global-warming-never-paused-acclerate-climate-change-nasa-scientist-gavin-schmidt-environment-a7538116.html
Safety fears over EDF bid to permit doubling of nuclear reactor cracks The Herald, 22 Jan 17 THE nuclear industry is secretly bidding to relax safety standards to allow the doubling of the number of cracks in the radioactive cores of Scotland’s ageing reactors
EDF Energy is asking for the safety rules to be rewritten so that it can keep running its nuclear power stations at Hunterston in North Ayrshire and Torness in East Lothian until they are at least 47 and 42 years old. They were originally designed to last 30 years.
Prolonged radiation bombardment causes the thousands of graphite bricks that make up reactor cores to crack, threatening a safe shutdown. But EDF is asking the UK government’s watchdog, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), to permit an increase in the proportion of cracked bricks from 10 to 20 per cent.
The revelation has sparked alarm from politicians and campaigners, who say that the industry is “gambling with public safety” and the public must be consulted. One leading expert argues that Hunterston should be immediately shut down
Hunterston started generating electricity in 1976. EDF currently plans to keep it operating until 2023, and the ONR is due to conclude a safety review of its future operation at the end of January
On January 13 EDF closed down one of Hunterston’s two reactors for planned maintenance, including inspections of cracking in the graphite core. The reactor is due to be restarted on February 10.
Torness was started up in 1988 and is currently planned to operate until 2030. The company, however, has said that it is hoping that the lives of both nuclear stations can be extended by a few more years.
EDF’s bid to relax safety standards at Hunterston and Torness is highlighted in a new report today for the Scottish Greens. It concludes that the risks from graphite cracking are serious and argues that an international convention demands that environmental risks must be assessed, alternative energy sources considered and the public consulted.
According to the report’s author, Edinburgh-based anti-nuclear campaigner and consultant, Peter Roche, Scotland doesn’t need nuclear electricity. “Despite the fact cracks are beginning in the graphite core of these reactors, increasing the risk for us all, the public has still not been asked for its opinion once,” he said……..
John Large, a consulting nuclear engineer, pointed out that the integrity of the graphite bricks was vital to nuclear safety. If they failed, they could block channels that enable control rods to be inserted to close down reactors and prevent them from overheating.
“Ageing problems like this serious cracking of the graphite bricks at the heart of each reactor are deeply worrying, so much so that these nuclear plants should now be permanently shut down,” he said.
Large accused EDF and the ONR of “false confidence” in believing they fully understood graphite cracking, which was difficult to predict. “The Hunterston B nuclear reactors now in their forty-first year of operation, should be immediately shut down,” he stated….
The company also argued that environmental impact assessments – and, by implication – public consultations were not required for life extensions at Hunterston and Torness..
ONR’s deputy chief inspector Mark Foy confirmed that EDF had asked for the proportion of graphite bricks allowed to be cracked to rise from 10 to 20 per cent. “That is provided to us in the form of a comprehensive justification, which we will assess to see whether we’re satisfied it’s safe to operate,” he said…….. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/15039668.Safety_fears_over_EDF_bid_to_permit_doubling_of_nuclear_reactor_cracks/
UK government covered up ‘disastrous failure’ in nuclear missile test: report, DW 22 Jan 17 A British newspaper has alleged that an unarmed nuclear missile veered off course and headed toward the US in a 2016 test. The Trident system is the country’s only nuclear weapon system and aims to deter threats. The British government covered up a failed test of a nuclear missile system last year, just weeks before lawmakers voted to renew it, “The Sunday Times” newspaper alleged on Sunday.
The newspaper cited an anonymous senior naval source who claimed that the unarmed Trident II D5 missile failed after being launched from a British submarine off the coast of the US state of Florida in June.
The cause of the failure was top secret, but the source said the missile may have accidentally veered towards the mainland.
“There was a major panic at the highest level of government and the military after the first test of our nuclear deterrent in four years ended in disastrous failure,” the source told the paper.
“Ultimately, Downing Street decided to cover up the failed test. If the information was made public, they knew how damaging it would be to the credibility of our nuclear deterrent.”
The source said an upcoming parliamentary vote on the Trident system on July 18 had made the failure “all the more sensitive.”……http://www.dw.com/en/uk-government-covered-up-disastrous-failure-in-nuclear-missile-test-report/a-37230406
As I write, there’s a sort of an anxious lull in climate and nuclear news. Indeed, in other news, too. The media world seems to be waiting for the next event, on January 20, concerning a certain narcissistic American. I’ve decided to leave him out of this week’s newsletter, except, perhaps, for a picture (attached).
The exception in all this is Fukushima. Not that you find anything about this in the mainstream media. However, the news is getting out in alternative, and some Japanese media: workers’ cancers: Thyroid Cancer Patient Group : Designation of radioactive waste lifted: Fukushima ‘voluntary’ evacuees: Fukushima foodstuffs.
CLIMATE. 90% of rural Australians say their lives are already affected by climate change. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation picks climate sceptic for Western Australian election. Australian Resources Minister Matt Canavan’s fantasy about “low emission” coal.
RENEWABLE ENERGY. Some considerations about Australia’s clean transition to renewable energy. Tony Abbott calls for ditching Renewable Energy Target: PM Turnbull disagrees. Smarter, cheaper solar plants are halving Australian solar farm capital intensity. Utility scale investment marks the surge in wind and solar power in Australia. Potential of Queensland solar farm– to make this State the energy capital of Australia. Melbourne trams to be powered by solar energy by end of 2018.
Federal waste dump plan. Scrutiny on Hansard reveals the Australian government’s confusion about nuclear wastes.Australian government’s pro nuclear propaganda to South Australia’s Barndioota residents. Flinders Ranges Community survey – 79% do NOT want the Federal nuclear waste dump.
State nuclear waste import plan. Ben Heard and Barry Brook spruik for nuclear reprocessing at Port Augusta. Old nuclear spruikers never give up – Bob Hawke, Ron Walker, Hugh Morgan. South Australian Liberal leader stresses that the Royal Commission nuclear waste import plan was economically risky.Derek Abbott explodes the Royal Commission proposal for a nuclear waste dump.
Western Australia. In an act of ?religious faith, Western Australian govt backs uneconomic uranium industry. Aboriginal Traditional Owners speak out against Yeelirrie uranium mining approval.
Tasmania. Tasmania’s Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom speaks out for nuclear weapons ban.
Why the public is not buying Coalition attack on wind and solar, REneweconomy By Jonathan Gifford on 20 January 2017 What is it that the general public appears knows about renewables and electricity prices that much in the conservative side of politics, and the federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg, do not?
2017 has kicked off with another round of attacks on renewable energy targets, both state and federal. They display fundamental misunderstandings of renewable energy, its deployment capabilities, costs and impacts on electricity prices. The good news: the public isn’t buying it.
As working life, business and the public debate gets back into full swing after the holiday period, attacks on renewable energy and targets have, unfortunately, also resumed. The Australian, unsurprisingly, is leading the charge, and elected officials have added their voices to the unrelenting campaign of misinformation.
Most worryingly Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg is playing a prominent role. On Wednesday he penned an OpEd in the Australian Financial Review in which he got stuck into the Victorian and Queensland state governments’ RETs.
On Friday, The Australian gave him a platform to attack renewable energy by way of a rebuttal to the Labor opposition climate change spokesman Mark Butler’s arguments for a 50 per cent by 2030 RET.
While Frydenberg’s argumentation in today’s Australian specifically addresses the Labor 50% RET, it is riddled with direct attacks on renewable energy itself.
Frydenberg argues that RETs lead to higher power prices. To support this he says that power prices rose rapidly under Labor, that a 50% RET will drive out coal generation – implicitly increasing prices – and that it will require $48 billion in new investment in generation capacity.
The Energy Minister then cites AEMC findings that the RET will have “the highest cost of abatement,” that it does not encourage emissions reductions beyond renewable generation.
(RenewEconomy editor Giles Parkinson has already pointed out that the AEMC modelling actually shows the opposite, that the RET is actually a cheaper option, even given the AEMC modelling’s ridiculously expensive costing of wind and solar).
Despite this and other lines of argument, it appears that the Australian public is just not buying it. There continues to be evidence that renewable energy remains widely popular with Australians, to which their continued adoption of rooftop solar and increasingly battery storage attests. And polling continues to confirm this.
GetUp released the findings of a ReachTEL poll it conducted on January 12 today, in which it asked 2,126 householders what they believe are behind rising power prices.
The leading response, with 58%, was that “privatization and the lack of competition between the big energy companies” were behind the price hikes. The next response was “undecided,” with 24.2% and renewable energy in third place, with 17.7%.
“The owners of the poles and wires have been gold-plating the grid, spending billions of their customers’ money building far more grid infrastructure than we needed.”
Taking the RET in isolation, as a policy to drive the shift towards less emission intensive electricity generation as Frydenburg does, is also mischevious.
In combination with overdue electricity market reforms and the pricing of externalities, such as carbon pricing, in combination with renewable targets has repeatedly been shown to deliver a lower-cost energy transition……..
GetUp’s Miriam Lyons weighs in on the South Australia debate, saying that it is indeed “an example of what’s wrong with the current system” with its botched electric utility privatisation and the lack of competition.
“The Liberal Olsen government didn’t break up the generators when it privatized electricity – they chose to make as much from the sell-off as possible in the short term, rather than creating a genuinely competitive market,” says Lyons. “The price-gouging by gas companies that we saw in South Australia last year is a direct result of that.”
GetUp notes that it is encouraging to see public support for renewables and RETs hold fast, but that the battle against the demonization of renewables on the basis that they leads to higher electricity prices is far from over.
“This polling shows that the fossil fuel lobby’s campaign isn’t convincing most Australians – yet.” http://reneweconomy.com.au/public-not-buying-coalition-attack-wind-solar-36457/
In uranium market glut, Western Australia govt still approves Yeelirrie mine, against environmental and Aboriginal interests
“The Western Australian government has approved plans for a uranium mine at Yeelirrie on Aboriginal land 630 kilometres north-east of the state capital, Perth.
Aborigines have fought the plans as best they could, backed by non-indigenous and foreign activists.
Environmentalists warn the mine would wipe out species unique to the region.
Yeelirrie sits on one of the world’s most significant uranium deposits.
Approval of the mine, to be operated by Canadian mining giant Cameco, came despite a ruling by the government’s own Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) that a mine on the site posed a significant risk of extinction to species not known to exist anywhere else. …
“Anti-nuclear activist Mia Pepper writes that the government argued jobs and economics for its decision.
“Now we know that the project would employ a little over 200 fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers, but we also know that the uranium market is flooded and there is no economic justification for this mine to go ahead. … “