Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

The nuclear industry- economic disaster for Australia – theme for February 2016

cliff-money-nuclear

Any economic argument for the nuclear industry was blown out of the water by the absolute discrediting of South Australia’s shonky Nuclear Royal Commission (NFCRC)’s push for importing nuclear wastes.

Australia’s nuclear lobby knew that the industry is not healthy, nor safe, nor clean, and is a disaster for the Aboriginal people. But, they didn’t care – saying that importing nuclear waste would make $billions. All thorough economic research said otherwise. Far from saving South Australia’s struggling economy, expanding the nuclear industry would most likely bring that State to bankruptcy.

Now the nuclear lobbyists are at it again – touting “new nukes” – small thorium nuclear reactors, (which would require importing enriched uranium or plutonium to get them working.) Even the pro nuclear NFCRC concluded  that these would not be economic for South Australia.

cool-peopleThe push for “new nukes” is driven partly by the vanity of a few would-be-famous young men, partly by the nuclear enthusiasts within the defence lobby, and partly by the general desperation of the global nuclear industry to make it look as if they’re succeeding.

Whichever way it is, South Australia will be the loser if nuclear lobbyists win. South Australia has the opportunity to lead in 21st Century renewable energy technologies. With no help from the climate-denying, anti-renewables, Turnbull government, South Australia is up against it.

The uranium market is in continual gloom. Any expansion of the nuclear industry in Australia is a recipe for economic disaster –  and a ludicrous contrast to Australia’s wonderful opportunities in renewable energy and clean agriculture.

January 21, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, Christina themes | Leave a comment

Pine Gap protestors to be prosecuted: may be gaoled for 7 years

legal actionPine Gap protesters to be prosecuted after Attorney-General gives go-pine-gap-1ahead  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-21/pine-gap-protesters-to-be-prosecuted/8290624By Tom Maddocks,  The federal Attorney-General has approved the prosecution launched against protesters who broke into top-secret military base, Pine Gap.

In September last year, six anti-war activists were arrested after they breached the perimeter into the joint US-Australian defence facility outside Alice Springs.

However, they were freed and the charges laid against the group were thrown out of court because police failed to gain the consent of the federal Attorney-General before the prosecution began.

At the time, Judge Daynor Trigg described the legislation as “nonsense” and said the police prosecution was “flawed”.

In documents tendered to the Alice Springs Local Court today, Attorney-General George Brandis gave consent to prosecute.

The protesters, who live in Queensland, did not appear in court but their defence lawyer, Russell Goldflam, said they would contest the charges.

The Commonwealth offence of entering a prohibited area carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.  The case will return to court next month and is eventually expected to head to the Supreme Court for trial by jury.

It is only the second time there will be a prosecution made under this act.

In 2005, four activists broke into Pine Gap and the matter proceeded to trial.

The group was convicted and fined but they appealed and the conviction was quashed and they were acquitted.

February 22, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science avoids hard questions on nuclear waste

Paul Waldon Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, February 18 , 17 

The sad reality of the push for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science to promote a nuclear environment in South Australia, comes with NO regard for the future of a community and its residents.

We all know this is a inherently dangerous industry that nobody will insure, but they claim it is safe as long as it is not in their backyard.

buyer-beware-1However the radiation sales people are busy trying to sell their snake oil, with their program to have meetings and sway what the believe to be ignorant people. We do hear everything they tell us but not everyone of us has the questions to the answers that they don’t want to supply.

Is it just me or do others notice they are quick to shutdown a meeting or redirect issues that need to be addressed. I would rather have questions that can NOT be answered, that answers that can NOT be questioned, and remember they have a duty to convince us, not us to convince them, this may be a tough fight when your adversary manufactures their factoids which should be shown how they are achieved so to please people and show transparency. The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/

February 22, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear meltdown – a permanent, continuing, disaster

Caldicott,-Helen-4highly-recommendedHELEN CALDICOTT: The Fukushima nuclear meltdown continues unabated https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/helen-caldicott-the-fukushima-nuclear-meltdown-continues-unabated,10019  13 February 2017,  Dr Helen Caldicott, explains recent robot photos taken of Fukushima’s Daiichi nuclear reactors: radiation levels have not peaked, but have continued to spill toxic waste into the Pacific Ocean — but it’s only now the damage has been photographed.

RECENT reporting of a huge radiation measurement at Unit 2 in the Fukushima Daichi reactor complex does not signify that there is a peak in radiation in the reactor building.

All that it indicates is that, for the first time, the Japanese have been able to measure the intense radiation given off by the molten fuel, as each previous attempt has led to failure because the radiation is so intense the robotic parts were functionally destroyed.

The radiation measurement was 530 sieverts, or 53,000 rems (Roentgen Equivalent for Man). The dose at which half an exposed population would die is 250 to 500 rems, so this is a massive measurement. It is quite likely had the robot been able to penetrate deeper into the inner cavern containing the molten corium, the measurement would have been much greater.

These facts illustrate why it will be almost impossible to “decommission” units 1, 2 and 3 as no human could ever be exposed to such extreme radiation. This fact means that Fukushima Daichi will remain a diabolical blot upon Japan and the world for the rest of time, sitting as it does on active earthquake zones.

What the photos taken by the robot did reveal was that some of the structural supports of Unit 2 have been damaged. It is also true that all four buildings were structurally damaged by the original earthquake some five years ago and by the subsequent hydrogen explosions so, should there be an earthquake greater than seven on the Richter scale, it is very possible that one or more of these structures could collapse, leading to a massive release of radiation as the building fell on the molten core beneath. But units 1, 2 and 3 also contain cooling pools with very radioactive fuel rods — numbering 392 in Unit 1, 615 in Unit 2, and 566 in Unit 3; if an earthquake were to breach a pool, the gamma rays would be so intense that the site would have to be permanently evacuated. The fuel from Unit 4 and its cooling pool has been removed.

But there is more to fear.

The reactor complex was built adjacent to a mountain range and millions of gallons of water emanate from the mountains daily beneath the reactor complex, causing some of the earth below the reactor buildings to partially liquefy. As the water flows beneath the damaged reactors, it immerses the three molten cores and becomes extremely radioactive as it continues its journey into the adjacent Pacific Ocean.

Every day since the accident began, 300 to 400 tons of water has poured into the Pacific where numerous isotopes – including cesium 137, 134, strontium 90, tritium, plutonium, americium and up to 100 more – enter the ocean and bio-concentrate by orders of magnitude at each step of the food chain — algae, crustaceans, little fish, big fish then us.

Fish swim thousands of miles and tuna, salmon and other species found on the American west coast now contain some of these radioactive elements, which are tasteless, odourless and invisible. Entering the human body by ingestion they concentrate in various organs, irradiating adjacent cells for many years. The cancer cycle is initiated by a single mutation in a single regulatory gene in a single cell and the incubation time for cancer is any time from 2 to 90 years. And no cancer defines its origin.

We could be catching radioactive fish in Australia or the fish that are imported could contain radioactive isotopes, but unless they are consistently tested we will never know.

As well as the mountain water reaching the Pacific Ocean, since the accident, TEPCO has daily pumped over 300 tons of sea water into the damaged reactors to keep them cool. It becomes intensely radioactive and is pumped out again and stored in over 1,200 huge storage tanks scattered over the Daichi site. These tanks could not withstand a large earthquake and could rupture releasing their contents into the ocean.

But even if that does not happen, TEPCO is rapidly running out of storage space and is trying to convince the local fishermen that it would be okay to empty the tanks into the sea. The Bremsstrahlung radiation like x-rays given off by these tanks is quite high – measuring 10 milirems – presenting a danger to the workers. There are over 4,000 workers on site each day, many recruited by the Yakuza (the Japanese Mafia) and include men who are homeless, drug addicts and those who are mentally unstable.

There’s another problem. Because the molten cores are continuously generating hydrogen, which is explosive, TEPCO has been pumping nitrogen into the reactors to dilute the hydrogen dangers.

Vast areas of Japan are now contaminated, including some areas of Tokyo, which are so radioactive that roadside soil measuring 7,000 becquerels (bc) per kilo would qualify to be buried in a radioactive waste facility in the U.S..

As previously explained, these radioactive elements concentrate in the food chain. The Fukushima Prefecture has always been a food bowl for Japan and, although much of the rice, vegetables and fruit now grown here is radioactive, there is a big push to sell this food both in the Japanese market and overseas. Taiwan has banned the sale of Japanese food, but Australia and the U.S. have not.

Prime Minister Abe recently passed a law that any reporter who told the truth about the situation could be gaoled for ten years. In addition, doctors who tell their patients their disease could be radiation related will not be paid, so there is an immense cover-up in Japan as well as the global media.

The Prefectural Oversite Committee for Fukushima Health is only looking at thyroid cancer among the population and by June 2016, 172 people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the accident have developed, or have suspected, thyroid cancer; the normal incidence in this population is 1 to 2 per million.

However, other cancers and leukemia that are caused by radiation are not being routinely documented, nor are congenital malformations, which were, and are, still rife among the exposed Chernobyl population.

Bottom line, these reactors will never be cleaned up nor decommissioned because such a task is not humanly possible. Hence, they will continue to pour water into the Pacific for the rest of time and threaten Japan and the northern hemisphere with massive releases of radiation should there be another large earthquake.

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The nuclear industry’s financial crisis deepens

The four AP1000 reactors are the only ones under construction in the US. “There’s billions and billions of dollars at stake here,” said Gregory Jaczko, former head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “This could take down Toshiba and it certainly means the end of new nuclear construction in the US.”

Toshiba’s demise would not greatly concern the nuclear industry if it was an isolated case, but it is symptomatic of industry-wide problems. Nick Butler from Kings College London wrote in a Financial Times online post: “Toshiba is just one company in the global nuclear industry, but its current problems are symptomatic of the difficulties facing all the private enterprises in the sector.

nuclear-costs1

Nuclear power’s rapidly accelerating crisis, REneweconomy, By  on 22 February 2017   A fire-sale is underway as the punch-drunk nuclear power industry tries to stop the rot.

The French government is selling assets so it can prop up its heavily indebted nuclear utilities.  Électricité de France (EDF) announced in 2015 that it would sell A$13.8 billion of assets by 2020 to rein in its debt, which now stands at A$51.8 billion.

EDF is purchasing parts of its bankrupt sibling Areva, which has accumulated losses of over A$14 billion over the past five years. French EPR reactors under construction in France and Finland are three times over budget ‒ the combined cost overruns amount to about A$17.5 billion. Bloomberg noted in April 2015 that Areva’s EPR export ambitions are “in tatters“, and now Areva itself is in tatters.

Meanwhile, Japanese industrial giant Toshiba would like to sell indebted, US-based nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse, but there are no buyers so Toshiba must instead sell profitable assets to cover its nuclear debts and avoid bankruptcy.

Engie reportedly wants to sell its stake in the consortium, and the French government has already sold part of its stake in Engie … to help prop up EDF and Areva! Deck-chairs are being shuffled.

The latest dramas occur against a backdrop of deep industry malaise, with the receding hope of even the slightest growth resting squarely on the shoulders of China. Continue reading

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Public concern growing over transport of nuclear waste across borders

antnuke-relevantradiation-truckOpposition growing to cross-border nuclear shipments, http://news.wbfo.org/post/opposition-growing-cross-border-nuclear-shipments, Opposition is brewing on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border about plans to move dozens of shipments of nuclear waste from a plant in Chalk River, Ontario, to a plant in South Carolina.

Buffalo Congressman Brian Higgins has been very vocal in his opposition. He is being joined by opposition in Canada.   Dean Allison is the member of Parliament for Niagara West, which includes the QEW, a potential route for some shipments. The Conservative Allison says the shipments pose real problems for first responders because they are not being told anything about the shipments or how to prepare for the highly radioactive material.

“I’ve understood from talking to some of the people with the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility that it’s almost 17,000 times more toxic and more radioactive than when it first started and when it was first shipped, originally,” Allison says. “So our first responders need to have some kind of idea what it is because, more than likely, they will be the ones on the road, on the scene should anything happen.”

The material started in the United States and has been made far more radioactive in Canada because of research and developing nuclear materials for medical use. Higgins has long been demanding information about the shipments and their routes.

Beamsville resident Allison says he is trying to set up a meeting in his district to bring together residents, first responders and shipments officials to talk about what is going on.

“We’re going to try to get some of the key players down,” Allison says. “I don’t anticipate they’re going to give us more information but we’re going to certainly press and see if we can get anything that may be helpful to our first responders.”

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian Prudential Regulation Authority dropped a climate bombshell – ignored by Government!

exclamation-climate-changeThe climate bombshell the politicians didn’t touch, SMH, Business, Michael Pasco, 21 Feb 17 , Never mind the politicisation of energy and carbon policy – the market and legal system is moving rapidly to instil the discipline and punishment the government isn’t game to discuss.That was the core of the climate change bombshell dropped by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority on Friday. The policy vacuum will be filled by the personal liability of company directors and the disclosure requirements of financial regulators.

If the ABC’s Insiders program and the federal Environment and Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg, are any guide, Canberra hasn’t yet grasped the importance of the speech by APRA executive board member, Geoff Summerhayes, to the Insurance Council of Australia forum.In keeping with the Paris Agreement Australia has signed and the Financial Stability Board’s (FSB) policy development, APRA leaves no room for climate sceptics. Both the obvious physical and perhaps less obvious “transition” risks of climate change are real and present dangers to the financial system APRA is charged with safeguarding.

And it’s the transition risks of moving to a low-carbon economy that Summerhayes fingered as being particularly important for financial entities. APRA and its international counterparts fear the impact on banks, superannuation funds and asset managers of changes in policy, law, markets, technology and prices that are part of the agreed transition to a low-carbon economy.

Spare a thought here for the board of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) as it considers Adani’s application for a billion-dollar loan to build a railway from the Galilee Basin to the Queensland coast. While being lent on by pro-coal government members, NAIF directors would do well to consider why Australia’s banks seem to have no interest in financing the line. It’s not just a green PR issue – it’s the danger of being left with a stranded asset and directors being personally liable.

Summerhayes quoted legal opinion that it’s only a matter of time before directors who fail to properly consider and disclose foreseeable climate-related risks are held personally liable for breaching their statutory duty of care and diligence under the Corporations Act.The same consideration would weigh heavily on Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) directors if the government changes the legislation to allow CEFC to lend to new coal-powered electricity generators

Summerhayes noted that much of the early focus on climate change risks had been on insurance firms and their exposure to losses from increasingly frequent and severe natural disasters, but there were a variety of other potential issues.”These include the potential exposure of banks’ and insurers’ balance sheets to real estate impacted by climate change and to re-pricing or even ‘stranding’ of carbon-intensive assets in other parts of their loan books,” he said.

“They also include exposure of asset owners and managers – an important consideration given the size of Australia’s superannuation sector and its heavy weighting towards carbon-intensive equities and a relatively resource-intensive domestic economy.”

Frydenberg on Sunday gave the impression the government was determined to bet Australia’s energy future on the coal industry finding a way to make carbon capture and storage (CCS) economically viable.

Given the Coalition’s refusal to price carbon so as to give CCS here even a small chance of success, that looks as sensible as an individual betting their financial future on winning OzLotto. That sort of policy response, driven by the coalition’s internal ructions, climate sceptics and concentration on simplistic immediate “hip pocket” politics, contrasts with broader forces APRA comprehends.APRA’s view is that the Paris Agreement provided a very reliable signal that policy and regulatory efforts would intensify…….http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-climate-bombshell-the-politicians-didnt-touch-20170219-gugn0r.html

 

February 22, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Plans for massive pumped hydro energy storage project in South Australia

EnergyAustralia outlines plans for 100MW pumped hydro plant in SA http://reneweconomy.com.au/energyaustralia-outlines-plans-for-100mw-pumped-hydro-plant-in-sa-68973/ By  on 21 February 2017 Having chalked up three major solar power purchase agreements in as many months, EnergyAustralia is talking large-scale energy storage this week, in a briefing with the federal government on the potential for a massive pumped hydro project in the renewables rich state of South Australia.

hydro-pumped-hydro-plant

EnergyAustralia managing director Catherine Tanna, along with the company’s executive for energy, Mark Collette, were in Sydney on Tuesday updating the Cabinet Energy Committee on the progress they have made, along with their research partners Melbourne Energy Institute and Arup Group, investigating the viability of a pumped hydro energy storage plant using seawater.

In a statement on Tuesday, Arup Group said that the proposed South Australia project would have the capacity to produce around 100MW of electricity with six-to-eight hours of storage – the equivalent of 60,000 home battery systems, EnergyAustralia says, but at “one-third of the cost.”

Pumped hydro, one of the oldest and most basic and low-cost forms of energy storage, converts electrical energy into potential energy by pumping water up to the top of a hill, storing it there in a reservoir, and then using it when needed to generate electricity at very high efficiency.

Most recently in Australia, it has been linked with a ground-breaking project being developed by Genex Power, which proposes to convert an old gold mine into a 330MWh pumped hydro storage project, to go alongside a 150MW solar PV array.

But its potential for Australia has come into sharper focus in recent months, as governments and electricity market operators grapple with the problem of how to support the smooth transition of electricity networks to renewable energy generation. Continue reading

February 22, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, storage | Leave a comment

Plans for rare earths mine in Northern Territory

Arafura plans to mine, concentrate and chemically process rare earths at the Nolans site, 135km north-northwest of Alice Springs.The project is estimated to create up to 500 jobs in the two-to-three year construction phase, and employ a peak workforce of 300 in the operation phase, which is expected to exceed 40 years.

Construction is estimated to cost $866 million at Nolans, including an estimated $145 million in the Territory and $70 million in Central Australia. It is expected to cost $188 million a year to operate.

The draft EIS and associated specialist studies were on public exhibition for eight weeks last year and attracted 21 submissions, mostly from government departments.

Arafura’s NT general manager Brian Fowler said they were hoping to complete the environmental part of the project this year.

“All matters raised in these submissions were provided to Arafura for consideration and are responded to in the EIS supplement,” he said.

“We look forward to completing the approvals process for the environmental component of the project later this year.”

Rare earths are a collection of 15 elements in the periodic table that are relatively abundant in the earth’s crust, but uncommon to find in quantities that can be recovered economically, Mr Fowler said.

“They are essential to products with significant growth potential in markets associated with the electronics and technology industries, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction,” he said.

Until recently, rare earths were mostly mined, processed and refined in China and, along with Japan and the USA, China accounts for most of the world’s demand for rare earths. Continue reading

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Northern Territory, rare earths | Leave a comment

Poll shows that majority of Australians support Labor’s renewable energy goal

More than 70% believe Coalition not doing enough on energy – poll
Guardian Essential survey shows a clear majority supports Labor’s goal of sourcing 50% of energy from renewables by 2030, Guardian,
A majority of voters surveyed in the latest Guardian Essential poll supports Labor’s renewable goal, suggesting Coalition attacks are not working. Guardian, Katharine Murphy, 21 Feb 17, 
More than 70% of voters think the Turnbull government is not doing enough to ensure affordable, reliable and clean energy for Australian households and businesses – and a clear majority also supports Labor’s goal of sourcing 50% of energy from renewable sources by 2030.

The latest Guardian Essential poll suggests that the Turnbull government’s relentless partisan attacks on Labor’s 50% renewable energy policy, and its concerted efforts early in the new political year to position itself as the party of cheaper and more secure power, haven’t yielded the desired result.

The poll shows 71% of the sample think the federal government is not doing enough to ensure affordable, reliable and clean energy – and only 12% rate the current effort as satisfactory.

Even among their own constituency, Liberal and National voters, 62% of the sample said the government was not doing enough.

When asked about the ALP’s aspirational goal to source 50% of energy from renewable sources by 2030, 65% of voters registered their approval of the concept.

 The policy – which has been repeatedly branded reckless and ideological by the prime minister – won strong majority approval from both Labor and Green voters. Coalition voters were also more likely to approve of the target than disapprove.

The political campaign by the government hasn’t moved the dial in any significant way. Attitudes to the policy have changed little since it was unveiled by Bill Shorten in 2015.

Voters were also divided about whether or not Australia should build new coal-fired power stations but a clear majority opposed the idea. Forty-five per cent of the sample said it was a bad idea and 31% supported building new coal-fired power stations.

The people positive about the idea of building new coal-fired power stations were Liberal/National voters (47%),men (39%) and people aged 65 and over (53%)……

Most voters are also attributing power blackouts in South Australia to failures of the energy market in responding to extreme weather events (45%), rather than to problems with too many windfarms……https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/feb/21/more-than-70-believe-coalition-not-doing-enough-on-energy-poll

February 22, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

In sweltering heat, climate change denialists are proud of their stand

Climate scepticism is a far-right badge of honour – even in sweltering Australia, Guardian, Paul Mason It’s up to progressives to fight back against this idiocy-promoting rhetoric and save the Earth Tuesday 21 February 2017 

It hits you in the face and clings to you. It makes tall buildings whine as their air conditioning plants struggle to cope. It makes the streets deserted and the ice-cold salons of corner pubs get crowded with people who don’t like beer. It is the Aussie heatwave: and it is no joke.

maps-heatwaves-aust-cities

Temperatures in the western suburbs of Sydney, far from the upmarket beachside glamour, reached 47C (117F) last week, topping the 44C I experienced there the week before. For reference, if it reached 47C in the middle of the Sahara desert, that would be an unusually hot day.

For Sydney, 2017 was the hottest January on record. This after 2016 was declared the world’s hottest year on record. Climate change, even in some developed societies, is becoming climate disruption – and according to a UN report, one of the biggest disruptions may only now be getting under way.

El Niño, a temperature change in the Pacific ocean that happens cyclically, may have begun interacting with the long-term process of global warming, with catastrophic results…….

What cannot be disputed is that the most recent El Niño in 2015/16 contributed to the extreme weather patterns of the past 18 months, hiking global temperatures that were already setting records. (Although, such is the level of rising, both 2015 and 2016 would have still been the hottest ever without El Niño.) Sixty million people were “severely affected” according to the UN, while 23 countries – some of which no longer aid recipients – had to call for urgent humanitarian aid. The catastrophe prompted the head of the World Meteorological Association to warn: “This naturally occurring El Niño event and human-induced climate change may interact and modify each other in ways that we have never before experienced.”

The warning was enough to prompt the UN to issue a global action plan, with early warning systems, beefed-up aid networks and disaster relief preparation, and calls for developing countries to “climate proof” their economic plans.

Compare all this – the science, the modelling, the economic foresight and the attempt to design multilateral blueprint – with the actions of the jackass who runs Australia’s finance ministry.

Scott Morrison barged into the parliament chamber to wave a lump of coal at the Labor and Green opposition benches, taunting them: “Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared. It’s coal. It was dug up by men and women who work in the electorate of those who sit opposite.” Coal, argues the Australian conservative government, has given the economy “competitive energy advantage for more than 100 years”. Labor and the Greens had called, after the Paris climate accord, for an orderly shutdown of the coal-fired power stations that produce 60% of the country’s energy.

The Aussie culture war over coal is being fuelled by the resurgence of the white-supremacist One Nation party, led by Pauline Hanson, which is pressuring mainstream conservatives to drop commitments to the Paris accord and, instead, launch a “royal commission into the corruption of climate science”, which its members believe is a money-making scam.

All over the world, know-nothing xenophobes are claiming – without evidence – that climate science is rigged. Their goal is to defend coal-burning energy, promote fracking, suppress the development of renewable energies and shatter the multilateral Paris agreement of 2015.

Opposition to climate science has become not just the badge of honour for far-right politicians like Ukip’s Paul Nuttall. It has become the central tenet of their appeal to unreason…….https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/20/sweltering-aussies-rightwing-climate-of-fear

February 22, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Pope Francis speaks out on the rights of indigenous people to have final say about their land

Pope & St Francisantnuke-relevantPope says indigenous people must have final say about their land  Francis echoes growing body of international law and standards on the right to ‘prior and informed consent’, Guardian, , 21 Feb 17, In the 15th century papal bulls promoted and provided legal justification for the conquest and theft of indigenous peoples’ lands and resources worldwide – the consequences of which are still being felt today. The right to conquest in one such bull, the Romanus Pontifex, issued in the 1450s when Nicholas V was the Pope, was granted in perpetuity.

How times have changed. Last week, over 560 years later, Francis, the first Pope from Latin America, struck a rather different note – for indigenous peoples around the world, for land rights, for better environmental stewardship. He said publicly that indigenous peoples have the right to “prior and informed consent.” In other words, nothing should happen on – or impact – their land, territories and resources unless they agree to it.

“I believe that the central issue is how to reconcile the right to development, both social and cultural, with the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories,” said Francis, according to an English version of his speech released by the Vatican’s press office.

“This is especially clear when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth,” Francis went on. “In this regard, the right to prior and informed consent should always prevail, as foreseen in Article 32 of the [UN] Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Only then is it possible to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict.”

Francis was speaking to numerous indigenous representatives in Rome at the conclusion of the third Indigenous Peoples’ Forum held by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development…….. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/andes-to-the-amazon/2017/feb/20/pope-indigenous-people-final-say-land

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Growing opposition to nuclear power in China

As the plans circulated online, opposition to the plan appeared to be mounting in the wake of Chinese public reaction to rising radiation levels at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.

“Last year, 100,000 people took to the streets of Lianyungang in protest against a nuclear power plant there, and they successfully blocked [its] construction”

The growing concerns over China’s nuclear power program came as the Hong Kong-listed arm of a state-owned nuclear power company announced further delays to controversial reactors at Taishan in the southern province of Guangdong. 

flag-ChinaPlans to Build Four New Nuclear Power Plants in China’s Henan Spark Outcry, Radio Free Asia, 21  Feb 17  Reported by Ding Wenqi for RFA’s Mandarin Service, and by Goh Fung for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie. Plans by authorities in the central province of Henan to move ahead with four new nuclear power stations in the wake of the Fukushima disaster have sparked growing public fears in China.

In a directive dated Jan. 25, the provincial government was ordered to move ahead with the implementation of power generation plans that include new nuclear reactors at Nanyang, Xinyang, Luoyang and Pingdingshan, according to a statement on its official website. Continue reading

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Solar towers with storage beat coal on just about all fronts.

Parkinson-Report-Why new coal? Solar towers + storage beats it on all counts http://reneweconomy.com.au/why-new-coal-solar-towers-storage-beats-it-on-all-counts-16080/ By  on 21 February 2017

The US-based developers of the world’s leading solar tower and storage technologies has expressed surprise that Australia’s federal government is pursuing “new coal” plants, saying that solar towers with storage beats coal on just about all fronts.
solar-Seville

Tom Georgis, the head of international development for SolarReserve, says solar towers and storage can match and beat coal on capability – providing baseload and flexible generation – and match new coal on cost, and provide zero emissions output as a bonus.

“This is just not a direction that financial markets are heading in,” Georgis told RenewEconomy in an interview on Tuesday, during a visit to Australia, where the company is hoping to build a $700 million, 110MW solar tower and storage facility in Port Augusta, and in other states too.

“In our opinion it is almost backward looking,” Georgis said, adding that carbon capture and storage in electricity generation is unproven and not cost-effective, and coal generation needs to take account of the impact of mining, and of emissions.

The Australian energy industry, including fossil fuel generators, have reacted to the Coalition’s push for new coal plants with a mixture of surprise and disbelief, saying any such plant is “uninvestable”.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance has estimated costs at between $138/MWh and more than $200/MWh, and significantly higher with CCS. It and others say estimate emissions reductions are grossly over-estimated.

SolarReserve says its own technology costs are “well under ” coal, even without CCS. It has been coy about its costs in Australia, having never built a plant here before, although CEFC executive director Simon Brooker told a Senate inquiry this month that a cost of around $150/MWh was being talked about for a first of its kind plant. Costs would then fall quickly as others are built.

SolarReserve is believed to be participating in a South Australian government tender for 75 per cent of its electricity needs, competing mostly with new gas stations and existing mothballed ones. It has talked with both the CEFC and ARENA.

Interestingly, Engie, the owner of the mothballed Pelican Point gas station near Adelaide considered to be its biggest rival in the tender, reportedly told the same inquiry on Monday that running the generator would not be economic, even with a government contract, because of the cost and availability of gas.

This may have prompted S.A. energy minister Tom Koutsantonis to say some positive things about solar towers and storage last week. Both the federal Coalition and Labor have promised to help promote solar towers, but have done nothing since the election.

Georgis says SolarReserve has already beaten gas generators on price in a tender in Chile last year, and is confident it can beat new gas generation in Australia too. Its main issue lies in the length of a contract, which will be crucial in its ability to secure finance.

Georgis again underlined the capability of solar towers and storage, and its ability to provide baseload power, power on demand, bulk storage, and use its steam turbines to provide the ancillary services normally delivered by fossil fuel generation.

He says battery storage will make sense for short-period needs, and as a cheaper option to network upgrades and for accompanying solar in distributed generation, but battery storage could not deliver or compete on price for bulk storage.

Pumped hydro was also unlikely to provide a “baseload” option, and was reliant on arbitrage opportunities (pumping water up hill while prices were low, and generating power when prices were high) to make it economic. Solar towers, on the other hand, had zero fuel costs.

February 22, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Australia’s Energy Minister For Coal blackens the name of wind and solar power

Parkinson-Report-Frydenberg on blackouts: No mention of failing network, gas, software, REneweconomy, By  on 21 February 2017  Federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg has put the blame for recent blackouts in South Australia directly on the state’s high penetration of wind and solar, and attributed no blame to network faults, storms or failing gas plants.

In a speech on energy security to the right-leaning Sydney Institute on Monday night, Frydenberg listed four black-out events that had hit South Australia since and including the “unprecedented” state-wide outage on September 28.

Frydenberg, Josh climateHe made no mention of the fierce storms, the falling power lines, the network faults that caused outages in December and February, or the role of gas plants that sat idle, or had to shed capacity because of the heat and other technical faults.

Nor did he mention the software glitch that meant 90,000 households, rather than 30,000, suffered power cuts in South Australia earlier this month when demand hit record highs.

Instead, Frydenberg pointed only to the roles of wind and solar, both of which he said were producing at a fraction of their capacity when the rolling blackouts were implemented.

“This means that the days of easily forecastable supply are over,” he said. “Nowhere was this more clear than during the last South Australian blackout, when 90,000 consumers lost power.”

An Australian Energy Market Operator report last week said the cause of the problem was bad forecasting, not just of supply, but of demand. It was caught short when demand spiked and could not wake a gas generator from its slumber.

Another 300MW of gas capacity was unavailable because it was broken – with half of it failing in the hours before the blackout. Wind energy was producing twice as much power as had been forecast a day earlier. Solar was the only local generation that produced exactly as predicted.

As AEMO told the Senate inquiry last week: “It is going back to the unforced and unplanned outages that eroded our reserves at that time in such a short period of time.

“Yes, we knew the wind would drop-off and we knew the solar would drop-off at a particular time, but our reserves were fine up until the point when we had forced outages.” i.e. the gas plants.

Frydenberg also spoke of South Australia’s price spikes, but made no mention of similar price spikes in Queensland and South Australia.

Indeed, average wholesale electricity prices in coal-dependent Queensland so far this month have average $301/MWh, nearly 50 per cent more than South Australia last July ($201/MWh), when network supplies from Victoria were restricted by an upgrade and which helped trigger the Coalition’s anti-renewable campaign.

In February this year, NSW has averaged $214/MWh while South Australia has averaged $210/MWh. In January, average wholesale prices in Queensland were at $197/MWh, while in South Australia they averaged just $84/MWh.

AEMO, in its report, has insisted that it is not the nature of wind energy or solar that have contributed to the various blackouts. Frydenberg, however, is having none of it….http://reneweconomy.com.au/frydenberg-on-blackouts-no-mention-of-failing-network-gas-software-19688/

February 22, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

‘The EU, the US and Japan are busy committing nuclear suicide’

There is agreement that the nuclear industries in the US, Japan and the EU ‒ in particular their nuclear export industries ‒ are in deep trouble. A February 2017 EnergyPostWeekly article says “the EU, the US and Japan are busy committing nuclear suicide.” Michael Shellenberger from the pro-nuclear Breakthrough Institute notes that: “Nations are unlikely to buy nuclear from nations like the US, France and Japan that are closing (or not opening) their nuclear power plants.”

Shellenberger said: “From now on, there are only three major players in the global nuclear power plant market: Korea, China and Russia. The US, the EU and Japan are just out of the game. France could get back in, but they are not competitive today.”

That’s good news for the nuclear industries in South Korea, China and Russia. But they might end up squabbling over scraps ‒ there were just three reactor construction starts last year around the world. South Korean companies have failed to win a single contract since the contract to build four reactors in the UAE. Likewise, China has made no inroads into export markets other than projects in Pakistan and Argentina.

Russia’s Rosatom has countless non-binding agreements to supply reactors, mostly in developing countries. But Russia can’t afford the loan funding promised in these agreements, and most of the potential customer countries can’t afford to pay the capital costs for reactors. Former World Nuclear Association executive Steve Kidd says it is “highly unlikely that Russia will succeed in carrying out even half of the projects in which it claims to be closely involved”.

The pro-nuclear Breakthrough Institute’s Michael Shellenberger presents cataclysmic assessments of nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis” and a “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West“.

Likewise, pro-nuclear commentator Dan Yurman says that a “sense of panic is emerging globally” as Toshiba exits the reactor construction industry. He adds: “After nine years of writing about the global nuclear industry, these developments make for an unusually grim outlook. It’s a very big rock hitting the pond. Toshiba’s self-inflicted wounds will result in long lasting challenges to the future of the global nuclear energy industry. Worse, it comes on top of the French government having to restructure and recapitalize Areva …”

Yurman notes that Westinghouse may struggle to keep its nuclear workforce intact: “Layoffs and cost cutting could reduce the core competencies of the firm and its ability to meet the service needs of existing customers much less be a vendor of nuclear technologies for new projects.” Likewise, Will Davis, a consultant and writer for the American Nuclear Society, explains the failure of the Japanese/US AP1000 projects and the French EPR projects with reference to the “loss of institutional knowledge, industrial capability and construction capability” over the past generation.

As recent history has repeatedly shown, this loss of capability leads to reactor project delays and cost overruns, and that in turn leads one after another country to abandon plans for new reactors. Vast numbers of staff, skilled across a range of disciplines, need to be trained and employed if the nuclear power industry is to move ahead (or even survive). But utilities and companies are firing, not hiring, vast numbers of staff and making a perilous situation much worse … possibly irretrievable. EDF, for example, plans to cut 5,200 to 7,000 staff by 2019 (including 2,000 sacked last year) ‒ about 10% of its total workforce.

Ironically, Westinghouse, the villain in Toshiba’s demise, may have made the best strategic decision of all the nuclear utilities. In 2014, Westinghouse announced plans to expand and hopefully triple its nuclear decommissioning business. The global reactor fleet is ageing and the International Energy Agency anticipates an “unprecedented rate of decommissioning” ‒ almost 200 reactor shut-downs between 2014 and 2040. http://reneweconomy.com.au/nuclear-powers-rapidly-accelerating-crisis-26711/

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment