Australian news, and some related international items

Distributed energy, small scale solar, has taken off in Australia

Solar insights – Australia big in small solar REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson  28 May 2012 Germany may set most of the records for the amount of solar PV installed – 27GW and growing quickly – but it seems that Australia can claim a record of its own – it’s really big in small solar.

According to data drawn to our attention by Warwick Johnston of Sunwiz Consulting, Australia installed more small-scale solar than Germany in calendar 2011 – 795MW of rooftop systems of 10kW or less (the average size in Australia ranges from 1.5kW to 2.2kW) compared to 759MW in Germany….

June 1, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

Barefoot Power wins global award for bringing distributed solar energy to the world’s [poor

Barefoot Power’s products are brightening up the lives of those with limited or no access to grid power.  Products range from single desk lamps to complete kits for use by homes, clinics and schools. With good links to microfinance organisations and exceptional customer care, Barefoot has sold more than 400,000 lanterns and lighting kits to two million rural poor in Africa,Asia Pacific, India and the Americas. 

Solar power pioneer wins global green energy award, PR Wire 1 June 12,  A company specialising in providing affordable solar power products to remote rural communities has won a coveted Ashden Award for its work in Africa.

Barefoot Power was awarded some £20,000 in prize money at a prestigious ceremony in London this evening after joining other Award winners at a meeting with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at Clarence House in the morning.

The Ashden judges said: “With its astonishing sales figures, Barefoot is a fantastic example of a market-led solution to bringing renewable electricity to Africa’s rural poor. Through its network of micro-entrepreneurs it is overcoming the barriers of how to access remote communities and how to make solar power affordable.” Continue reading

June 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Get rid of nuclear power plants, advises Japan’s former Prime Minister

In his testimony, Mr Kan said Japan’s plant safety was inadequate because the energy policy had been hijacked by the ”nuclear village” – the power companies and pro-nuclear regulators and researchers that worked to promote the industry. 

”Experiencing the accident convinced me that the best way to make nuclear plants safe is not to rely on them, but rather, to get rid of them.”

Nuclear plants ‘far too risky’ for Japan Tokyo May 30, 2012 IN AN unusually stark warning during last year’s nuclear crisis, Japan’s then prime minister told a parliamentary inquiry the country should discard nuclear power as being too dangerous, saying the Fukushima accident had pushed the country to the brink of ”national collapse”.

In testimony to a panel investigating the government’s handling of the nuclear disaster, Naoto Kan also warned that the powerful nuclear industry was trying to push Japan back towards nuclear power, despite ”showing no remorse” for the accident.
Mr Kan’s testimony was the most closely watched of the six-month inquiry, which was launched by lawmakers who felt an earlier investigation by the government had papered over problems.

Mr Kan used his appearance to criticise the relatively pro-nuclear stance of the current prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, who replaced him in August. Mr Noda has called for the restarting of Japan’s undamaged nuclear plants Continue reading

June 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jeffrey Lee saved Koongarra land from uranium mining

Kakadu victory as uranium mining battle ends  By Emma Masters | ABC 30 May 12, – Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory is set to be expanded, with the inclusion of land previously earmarked for uranium mining. The Northern Land Council (NLC) has agreed for a 1,200 hectare parcel of land containing rich reserves of uranium to be incorporated in to the park.

It is considered the final step in a long battle that Aboriginal traditional owner Jeffrey Lee has waged to protect his land from mining.

The uranium-rich mining lease Koongarra was excised from Kakadu when the conservation area was established in the late 1970s. The lease is held by French company Areva, which wanted to mine the area for uranium.
Two years ago, Mr Lee, the sole traditional owner of the land, called on the Federal Government to incorporate it in to Kakadu. The Government accepted the offer and referred the matter to the NLC. The NLC conducted consultations and its full council has agreed to endorse Mr Lee’s wishes.

The council and land trust will now move to enter an agreement with national parks to incorporate Koongarra into Kakadu. It is not known if Areva will attempt to take any action over the decisions. The existing Ranger uranium mine is located within the boundaries of Kakadu, about 180 kilometres south-east of Darwin.

June 1, 2012 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Images of Manuwangku – a community fights against nuclear waste dumping

The words of Dr Nelson that the place constitutes ”the middle of nowhere” echo the old doctrine of terra nullius. If land is bare, then it is open. The land was not bare at Captain Cook’s discovery of Australia, it was not bare at the start of British colonisation, and it isn’t bare now.

Photographer Jagath Dheerasekara reminds us of this in a recent exhibition at Customs House in Sydney, curated by Sandy Edwards.

A community maintains its spirit in confronting ignorance, SMH, Erin Stewart May 31, 2012
Images of Manuwangku show the human face of the waste dump plan. IN 2005, then education minister Dr Brendan Nelson told Australians there would be no harm in putting a nuclear waste plant ”in the middle of nowhere”.

In 2007, the exact ”middle of nowhere” was identified as Muckaty, or Manuwangku, as the Aboriginal owners of this remote Northern Territory community call it. Despite local fear, dismay, and rejection of the proposal to dump nuclear waste there, the battle is ongoing. The residents fear for the future.

This Sunday it will be 20 years since the High Court’s landmark Mabo decision, which led to the passing of the Native Title Act. Moreover, Article 29 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples holds that ”no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous
peoples without their free, prior and informed consent”.

A Federal Court case continues over whether adequate consultation was conducted by the Northern Land Council prior to nominating the site. Regardless of common law, statute and international law that protects indigenous land rights, Manuwangku is still under threat. Continue reading

June 1, 2012 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Toro Energy’s uranium mining plans under attack

Locals, NGOs take aim at uranium hopeful, SMH, May 28, 2012, Toro Energy has rejected claims it did not consult widely enough about its planned uranium mine in Western Australia, but concedes it has sponsored a scientist who argues low level radiation is beneficial to health…

… On Monday, Wiluna local and indigenous elder Glen Cooke said he was critical of the community consultation process undertaken by Toro and now sought consultation from the environment ministers. Mr Cooke said he was supported by other locals. “Marmion and Burke will be making a big decision that will affect our community, our dreaming and our health,” Mr Cooke said in a statemen issued by the WA Nuclear Free Alliance. Continue reading

June 1, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Distributed solar energy’s success in Germany

the really meaningful story starts with a different number: 189.24 GWh. That’s the amount of electrical energy generated from more than a million PV solar systems spread all over the country on that record day. Not only was this almost 14% of Friday’s total electricity consumption in Germany, it was also, actually, not that unusual.

For the last couple of weeks, the output of PV solar peaked within an inch of the 20 GW line several times, and it never peaked very low throughout the month. The lowest peak load was 8 GW, while the average peak load of PV solar was 16 GW. So, it seems that solar is not as unreliable as conventional wisdom and media outlets often lead people to believe. Because I can tell you that we didn’t have 4 weeks straight of sunshine here in Germany, that’s for sure.

In-Depth: Germany’s 22 GW Solar Energy Record Clean Technica, MAY 31, 2012 BY THOMAS Last Friday, on the 25th of May 2012, Germany set a new world solar energy record in photovoltaic solar energy: 22.4 GW of photovoltaic energy on the grid covering over 30% of all energy demand! That’s the equivalent of 20 huge conventional fossil or nuclear power plants. This is clearly amazing news that made headlines around the world and was accompanied by either praise or the typical anti-solar bickering that is rather dominant in big media outlets even today (or especially today). Continue reading

June 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Investors not happy with giant uranium mine project, Olympic Dam’s future is questionable

 BHP’s chairman Jacques Nasser said the company would not proceed with all of its previously planned $80 billion worth of expansion plans.

Platypus Asset Management portfolio manager Prasad Patkar says Olympic Dam is not the company’s top expansion priority…..  When asked if Olympic Dam project’s future was more questionable, Mr Patkar summed it up in one word: “yeah”.

Olympic Dam expansion may fall at last hurdle ABC News, By business reporter Michael Janda May 31, 2012  Analysts estimate the cost of BHP Billiton’s proposed Olympic Dam mine expansion at $30 billion, making it one of the biggest corporate investment commitments in history.

But the latest global economic wobbles appear to have given the world’s largest miner a severe case of commitment-phobia. Continue reading

June 1, 2012 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment

As BHP reins in spending, Olympic Dam uranium mine the most likely project to drop

BHP’s investment plans and faltering share price have been a concern for investors, …… Analysts and government ministers have estimated the investment in expanding Olympic Dam could top $30 billion ….

BHP’s New Mine Projects Look Less Assured, WSJ,May 31, 2012, BHP Billiton’s more cautious approach to investment may mean approval for several $10 billion-plus “mega” projects won’t come this year, setting the stage for heightened friction with governments and increased calls for cash to be returned to shareholders if development spending is reined in. Continue reading

June 1, 2012 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment

BHP’s decision on Olympic Damn megamine delayed till late 2013?

BHP keeps South Australia waiting on Olympic Dam board decision , BY: MICHAEL OWEN The Australian May 31, 2012 BHP uranium president Dean Dalla Valle says the company “would deal with it then” if a board decision on the expansion of Olympic Dam could not be made by the government’s deadline of December 8.

“There will be a decision at the end of the year and that’s all we can say for now,” Mr Dalla Valle said yesterday….. company analysts now expect that Olympic Dam and other “mega” projects under consideration by the company will not be given the go-ahead until the December half of next year in response to rising economic uncertainty…

June 1, 2012 Posted by | politics, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment

BHP likley to drop plan for Yeelirrie uranium mine

BHP has in recent weeks backed away from a target set last year to invest roughly $80 billion over five years in its mining

BHP to decide on uranium deposit, THE AUSTRALIAN,  ROBB M. STEWART,   June 01, 2012  BHP Billiton, under pressure from state officials in Western Australia to sell the country’s second-largest undeveloped uranium deposit, said it intends to update investors on its plans for the Yeelirrie project later this year…..

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett and another member of the state parliament have said that BHP should sell
Yeelirrie, which lies hundreds of kilometers northeast of Perth, if it does not intend to develop a mine there. Continue reading

June 1, 2012 Posted by | General News, uranium | Leave a comment