Australian news, and some related international items

The week that was – nuclear news Australia

Can’t help it – I’ve had to go mostly for renewable energy news – so much more is really happening – world-wide – and on the brink in Australia.  It’s happening at the grassroots – with solar panels popping up on more and more houses , and with campaigners like the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. New survey shows that 94% of Australians want big solar power development.

Threat to unique Australian species – the beautiful GIANT CUTTLEFISH. Olympic Damn uranium mine and its associated desalination plant will almost certainly mean the extinction of this animal, as it requires exquisitely balanced salt/freshwater content in its breeding ground in North Spencer Gulf. Martin Ferguson lobbied successfully, on behalf of BHP, for weakening of environmental protection there

Airport scanners.  Australia is getting the non radiation “millimetre radio wave” type, not the radiation “backscatter” type. (as wrongly reported recently in Herald Sun)

Uranium sales to India – new survey shows that a whopping majority of Austtralians oppose this.

Julian Assange. PRIME Minister Julia Gillard, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon and Foreign Minister Bob Carr all  mouth a few platitudes about supporting Assange.  But in reality Gillard and the Australian government have been hand in glove with the USA in its plans to convict him of espionage.

Olympic Dam – massive proposed new uranium mine is in doubt. It’s the dream baby of Marius Kloppers, CEO of BHP Billiton, who is now having to back-pedal about this development.  Analysts are betting on Olympic Dam being the least likely to go ahead, out of of BHP’s $80 billion expansion plans .

Victoria and New South Wales Wind energy development being stalled , due to government policies designed to do exactly that.

South Australia. Wind power is powering ahead here., and providing “baseload” power. Despite the propaganda from  this State’s Nuclear enthusiast Barry Brook, Premier Jay Weatherill stated that nuclear power is not a viable option.

Queensland. Tony Abbott joins forces with Premier Campbell Newman is his campaign  to remove federal environmental safeguards on new projects, while the State’s Minister for Environment,  Andrew Powell  announces  his scepticism about climate change

June 7, 2012 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Promoting renewable energy from the grassroots – The Australian Youth Climate Coalition

Generation Y promote renewable energy BY CALLAN LAWRENCE, 07 Jun, 2012   IF climate change does pan out, with oceans rising, rivers drying and storms causing havoc, it will be Generation Y that lives it, so they are trying to stop it.
The Australian Youth Climate Coalition has small groups in Parramatta and Blacktown to help change how western Sydney is powered. Business by business, school by school, the group of youth wants to convert people to “green” power.
Granville resident and Parramatta climate coalition convener Amy Gordon, 22, said they wanted to raise money to reduce the community footprint.

“We go out in to the community and approach local businesses, whether it’s a cafe, a school or a not-for-profit organisation, and create some sort of event,” she said. “It could be a mufti day, or a band event or whatever, to try and
raise $1000 and help them switch to renewable energy. “It’s about raising an awareness in our own community . . . “it’s
really inspiring to see change from the grassroots up.”

The coalition has worked with inner-west Sydney businesses for two years but Parramatta High School was the first organisation in the region to take part. Deputy principal Paul Taylor said Ms Gordon spoke to students about the environment. “They came away very enthusiastic and empowered from the whole experience,” Mr Taylor said. Students have introduced water and energy saving measures to the school and plan a media campaign.

June 7, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

International Renewable Energy Agency dispels the myths of ‘expensive’ renewable energy

Renewable energy costs falling: Agency  7 June 12, Power from renewable energy sources is getting cheaper every year, according to a newly-released study, challenging long-standing myths that clean energy technology is too expensive to adopt.According to
the study by the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency and released on Wednesday, the costs associated with extracting power from solar panels has fallen as much as 60 per cent in just the past few years.

The price of generating power from other renewables, including wind, hydro power, concentrating solar power and biomass, was also falling.

“One of the (myths) out there perpetuated by industry lobby groups is that renewable energy is too expensive,” said Adnan Amin, IRENA’s director general. The numbers tell a different story, however, as “costs are falling
exponentially … and will continue (to do so) in the future,” said Amin arguing that electricity generation “is now cost-competitive with many traditional fossil fuel technologies”.

According to Dolf Gielen, director of IRENA’s innovation and technology centre, investment in renewables is no longer a niche but rather represents the “bulk of investments in global power generation,” accounting for half of the total annual capacity additions worldwide. “The markets are growing very fast… and further cost reductions are
very likely,” he said adding that in 2011, investments in the supply side of renewable energy sources reached about $US260 billion ($A267.70 billion).

A second IRENA study released on Wednesday estimates renewables will create a minimum of four million jobs just in the electricity sector in rural areas of the developing world. Today, there are five million jobs world-wide in the renewable energy sector and more than 1.3 billion people, mainly in Africa and Asia, who do not have access to electricity, according to IRENA. “There is considerable employment potential,” said Amin.

Founded in 2009, IRENA is an intergovernmental organisation established to promote the widespread use of renewable energy sources. It has more than 155 member states and is headquartered in Abu Dhabi.

June 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Marius Kloppers twists and turns as he hangs on to his baby – the big scheme – Olympic Damn uranium mine

Complicated messages from Marius Kloppers as he tries to promote his baby – the planned new giant open cut uranium mine at Olympic Dam:

  • Kloppers pays a little lip service to renewable energy – but he doesn’t want BHP Billiton to be involved in that.
  • Kloppers says that fossil fuels, especially gas are the go, for now, but nuclear power will come into its own, – later
  • Kloppers sees the Olympic Dam development as being 10 years or more away from completely functioning
  • Kloppers admits that BHP would withhold investment in Olympic Dam, if necessary
  • Kloppers wants a better deal on royalties and taxes – to make the big project work (even more concessions than BHP already has?)
  • Kloppers wants “flexibility” in the workforce –  I wonder what that flexibility would really mean (?crush the unions, fly-in workers, negotiating conditions – from BHP’s position of relative power)

Kloppers backing down on $80 billion expansion , talking to ABC  – talking about solar cells ‘we are going to stick to our knitting: He says that natural gas and nuclear power will have very big roles before renewable energy takes over  – quoted on ABC Business News 7 June 12

BHP poised to reveal ‘dramatic’ carbon plan SMH Peter Ker June 6, 2012  “… When asked about the world’s future energy choices this morning, Mr Kloppers said fossil fuels were likely to persist as the world’s preferred source of energy, with alternative forms of gas set to enjoy a period of strength……”Longer term the world is going to continue to work on nuclear products and that has to augment the energy mix at some time.”… Olympic Dam in South Australia – expected to be a decade or more away from full exploitation.

BHP vows to stay the course on major projects : By Christopher Russell  The Advertiser June 07, 2012 “… Analysts have raised questions about BHP’s ability to invest in three major projects due to go to the BHP board this year – Olympic Dam, expanding the Outer Harbor for iron ore exports from Port Hedland and the Jansen potash
project in Canada…….

BHP would stick to its strategy, but it also would be flexible and withhold investment if necessary. “We will only trigger development of these options (BHP’s pipeline of projects) when our measures of success can be sustainably achieved,”
he said.

To maximise opportunities for Australia, it was important for policy makers to lay a competitive environment. That meant caution on royalties and taxes and the creation of a labour market with high flexibility…

June 7, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Australian govt helping local councils, low income earners, to get solar hot water systems

Solar funds redirected to councils, poor, Business Spectator, 6 Jun 2012 The federal government has finally announced what it plans to do with the $45 million left over after the solar hot water rebate program was wound up earlier this year.

Climate change parliamentary secretary Mark Dreyfus said on Wednesday $24 million would be spent on a new program to help local councils install solar or heat pump hot water systems in community facilities. The remaining $20.7 million would be redirected to the existing home energy saver scheme (HESS), which helps poor Australians buy more efficient white goods and air-conditioning systems……

The Australian Greens claimed credit for forcing the government to spend the money on programs that would continue to support the solar hot water industry. “The Greens highlighted the scheme was underspent and insisted the funding allocation be maintained and not lost to general revenue,” leader Christine Milne said in a statement. “So directing this support to lower income householders and to community facilities is a great way to direct the benefits where they
are needed most.”

The Australian Council of Social Services praised Labor for pumping an extra $21 million into the HESS. “It will assist households to better understand and manage energy use,” council chief executive Cassandra Goldie said in a statement.
“New funds for investment in solar hot water systems are an excellent extension of the scheme that will allow households to take action to reduce energy costs.” Australian Manufacturing Workers Union NSW secretary Tim Ayres said the government had pledged the $45 million would be spent on locally-made products…

June 7, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | 1 Comment

Nuclear reactor makers offering prices below their costs, in desperate competition for sales

French Nuclear Watchdog Says Orders Won At Too-Low Prices Bloomberg, By Francois de Beaupuy – Jun 6, 2012  Nuclear-reactor makers are offering prices too low to cover costs to win orders abroad in a strategy that puts earnings at risk, the head of the industry’s watchdog in France said. “Export contracts for nuclear plants are being obtained at pure dumping-level prices,” Andre-Claude Lacoste, head of the Autorite de Surete Nucleaire regulator, said today at a conference organized by L’Usine Nouvelle magazine in Paris.

“Prices accepted by vendors and obtained by buyers are unsustainable,” Lacoste said. “There aren’t many tenders, which is why competitors are ripping each other off. It’s already a serious matter, and we need to make sure that there’s no dumping on safety on top of that.”
Areva SA (AREVA), the world’s largest provider of nuclear equipment and services, has booked more than 2.8 billion euros ($3.5 billion) of costs since 2005 because of delays and cost overruns at an atomic plant it’s building in Finland. The Paris-based company and General Electric Co. (GE) were beaten in 2009 on a four- reactor order in the United Arab Emirates by Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEP) in the Seoul-based company’s first export contract……. Areva is preparing
bids or in talks to sell reactors in countries including China, India, the U.K., the Czech Republic and Poland. In Finland, Areva faces GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (7011) and Toshiba Corp. (6502) in a tender next year.

June 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Organised anti nuclear program in China

many of the companies building nuclear power plants and the government have not held honest discussions with stakeholders and are unwilling to provide adequate information.  The Ministry of Environmental Protection rejected Caixin’s application for more information on documents related to the Pengze plant’s environmental assessment.

“Our actions are divided into three phases: official, media and litigation,” Wang said. Petitioning the government was the first step, and using the media to attract attention the second. “If this still doesn’t work, we can only move to litigation. In the next step, we’ll sue whichever departments approved construction of the Pengze nuclear plant, and we’ll sue to the end.”

Ex-officials battle China nuclear plant plan, Market watch,Retired officials vigorously battle China nuclear power plant plan By Cui Zheng BEIJING ( Caixin Online ) —”… the meltdown on March 11, 2011, is still fresh on the minds of four retired cadres in Wangjiang County.
They petitioned against the Pengze nuclear power project in neighboring Jiangxi Province and ultimately convinced their local government to oppose the plan. This kind of official opposition to a nuclear undertaking is almost unheard of in China. Continue reading

June 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Global nuclear lobby anxiously watches China, as China’s nuclear development in doubt

Public opinion could also pose an obstacle. In a poll carried out by research agency Ipsos MORI after Fukushima, 42% of those surveyed in China were supportive of nuclear power – but that 48% were opposed. It
is also reported that public opposition and environmental concerns have led to the delay in construction of three inland nuclear power sites.

China’s nuclear developments probably matter more to the rest of the world than they do to China. 

Chinese nuclear goes global? China dialogue Antony Froggatt June 06, 2012 From Parisian boardrooms to Kazakh uranium mines, the nuclear industry anxiously awaits news from Beijing. …….

“…… the Fukushima crisis in Japan has had a significant – and under reported – impact on Chinese nuclear developments, triggering a freeze on the start of new construction, a re-consideration of the safety standards of domestic designs and unprecedentedly visible opposition to the building of new, inland nuclear plants. Continue reading

June 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New South Wales government policies stifle wind energy development, promote coal and gas

Concern over State Government’s wind farm guidelines, ABC News June 06, 2012 The State Opposition says the O’Farrell Government’s planning guidelines for wind farms is putting potential investment in the Hunter at risk. The guidelines include a two-kilometre exclusion zone between homes and wind turbines.

Energy spokesman Luke Foley says planning charges are set to prohibit investment in the industry. He says developers could be paying more than $1 million in planning fees compared to $15,000 in Victoria.
Mr Foley says the planning guidelines for wind energy are much stronger than for the coal and gas industry.

“If a single landholder, one landholder out of hundreds objects to a wind farm proposal the proposal then has to go through all sorts of hoops, that doesn’t apply to coal seam gas or coal or our extractive industries,” he said.

Newcastle based, wind energy consultant Richard Finlay-Jones says the planning guidelines could put local projects at risk….

June 7, 2012 Posted by | New South Wales, wind | | Leave a comment

Wind farm development stalled in Bailleiu’s Victoria

the delay in construction and state government rules giving households right-of-veto over turbines planned within two kilometres of their homes could stop the country meeting the 20 per cent target…..

Country’s largest wind turbine maker sacks 24 workers, The Age, Adam Morton, June 7, 2012  AS AUSTRALIA prepares to launch into what is billed as a clean energy future, its largest wind turbine manufacturer has sacked 24 staff because of a lack of business…

… The market for renewable energy certificates created through clean projects has been flooded with credits from rooftop solar panels.
It has suppressed the certificate price, stymieing the development of
the cheapest large-scale clean energy – wind farms.
Parliament tackled the problem in 2010 by dividing the market into
large and small-scale renewable energy schemes, but the certificate
price is yet to fully recover. Continue reading

June 7, 2012 Posted by | Victoria, wind | | Leave a comment

Caution advised on CT scans for chidren due to cancer risk

X-rays triple cancer risk: study 9 News,  Jun 7 2012 By Michelle Henderson, AAP National Medical Writer The risk of children developing leukaemia and brain cancer later in life is tripled if they have multiple CT scans, an international study has found.

But Australian experts say the risk from ionising radiation is already well-documented and the recent study emphasises the importance of minimising patient exposure to computer tomography (CT) scans. Continue reading

June 7, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment