Australian news, and some related international items

Australia using less ‘baseload’ energy – largely thanks to solar panels

more than half the cut in power use was due to photovoltaic solar panels, solar hot water systems and energy savings programs in Victoria and New South Wales that encourage use of more efficient lightbulbs and appliances.

 the cost of solar energy and energy-efficiency schemes was modest compared with other factors pushing up electricity prices……

Solar panels linked to lower power usageIllawarra Mercury, ADAM MORTON, 20 Jun, 2012  SCHEMES encouraging people to install solar panels and save energy have cut household power consumption and will restrict the pace at which electricity bills increase in coming years, a new analysis has found.

While solar incentive schemes have been criticised as an expensive way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, an industry analysis has found they have led to a reduction in the amount of fossil fuel electricity drawn from the national power grid.

It suggests it is likely no new baseload power plants will be needed over the next decade.

Electricity consumption fell 3.2 per cent over the three years to 2011, ending years of dramatic increases and bucking projections that it would continue to soar due to economic and population growth. Continue reading

June 20, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency, solar | | Leave a comment

Renewable energy powering up Europe

Renewable sources account for nearly 50 percent of energy consumption in Sweden, the overall EU leader in this field.
 Latvia, Finland and Austria each use energy that is more than 30 percent renewable, and Portugal’s share is nearly 25 percent,according to Eurostat.

EU Is Embracing Green Energy, Report Shows By WILLIAM DOTINGA (CN) – More than 12 percent of the energy consumed in the European Union comes from renewable sources, a new report shows.   The report from Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office, compiles data from 2006 to 2010, the latest year for which data is available.
Three of the EU’s 27 member states – Belgium, France and Hungary – did report 2010 data.   Lawmakers passed a directive in 2009 to derive 20 percent of final energy consumption in the EU from renewable sources by 2020. Each member state received a target to reach the aggregate 20 percent target. The individual goals take into account each country’s different
starting points, renewable energy potential and economic performance, according to Eurostat. Continue reading

June 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Aboriginal elder’s legal battle to stop giant uranium mine

Elder continues fight against SA mine  9 News, 19 June 12, Aboriginal elder Kevin Buzzacott is pushing ahead with his bid to block the giant expansion of the Olympic Dam copper, uranium and gold mine in South Australia after an initial court decision went against him.

The Federal Court ruled in April that the commonwealth had properly taken into account the long-term impact of the mine, rejecting Mr Buzzacott’s argument that federal Environment Minister Tony Burke had not given enough consideration to the risks posed by storage of radioactive tailings at the site in SA’s north.

Mr Buzzacott has appealed against the court’s decision and a hearing has been scheduled for Thursday. Grounds for the appeal include an argument that Justice Anthony Besanko was mistaken in ruling that the minister did not need to consider existing conditions imposed by the state government on water extraction for the mine from the Great Artesian Basin.

The Arabunna elder also argues the approval was uncertain because so much of the project was left to be defined by studies and plans that were yet to be completed.
Mr Buzzacott said he was hoping for a “better result this time round”. “We hope that the three judges that will hear the appeal will seriously reconsider Justice Besanko’s interpretation of our argument,” he said in a statement……

June 20, 2012 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

BHP funds a study to lead to nuclear power and nuclear submarines for Australia

Sub study to look at nuclear options BY: VERITY EDWARDS  The Australian June 20, 2012  UNIVERSITY College London will study whether the Australian navy could use nuclear propulsion in its next generation of submarines, despite the federal government ruling out its use in the immediate future.

UCL’s Adelaide-based International Energy Policy Institute, headed by Tim Stone, the senior adviser to the British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, began its academic program this year with $10 million in funding from BHP Billiton and other energy companies……

The Gillard government has committed to building 12 submarines in Adelaide, but has ruled out nuclear propulsion. ….
The university will look at a third generation of submarine capabilities, which would also involve research into how long it would take to enable a civil nuclear market to be up and running in Australia.

The IEPI will this week advertise internationally for a uranium and nuclear power researcher, whose work will tie in with the submarine project. The researcher will evaluate the nation’s role in the nuclear fuel cycle, uranium enrichment and opportunities for the Australian market, and the lifecycle and environmental footprint of nuclear power.

June 20, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, marketing for nuclear, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Lynas’s rare earths stockpile near Fremantle – call for transparency in its radiation monitoring

Rare earth stockpile radiation levels questioned ABC News, June 20, 2012  An MP is calling on the State Government to make radiation monitoring results public after revelations the Lynas Corporation has been stockpiling rare earth concentrate in Bibra Lake. The Member for Fremantle, Adele Carles, says the Government is yet to confirm whether
monitoring is being conducted.

The Environment Minister Bill Marmion has confirmed the containers have been held at Lynas’ holding yard since March…… Ms Carles says the Government is basically saying the material is perfectly safe. “I say to them, well, if it’s so safe, then release to us the radiation monitoring so that we can see that for ourselves,” she said.

Ms Carles says monitoring is required under a Radiation Management Plan. “That requires that if this material is stored anywhere for more than 24 hours, there must be radiation monitoring,” she said. “I’ve asked to get copies of this monitoring and the Minister has basically denied that information.”

June 20, 2012 Posted by | rare earths, safety, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

ERA’s Ranger uranium mine continues to be a money pit

Ranger uranium miner ERA predicts loss of up to $60m, BY: BARRY FITZGERALD   The Australian June 20, 2012 RANGER uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia has flagged a $50 million to $60m loss for the first half.

The forecast loss by the listed Rio Tinto subsidiary was made by the company in presentation notes filed with the ASX ahead of a two-day tour by analysts of the Northern Territory mine….

.. Earlier this month, ERA approved $57m for expenditure on a study into the potential of the Ranger 3 Deeps mine. A decision on its viability is due in late

June 20, 2012 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Solar panels the key to reducing electricity costs

Easing the pain: renewable energy a powerful solution, Origin Manly Daily, 20 JUN 12    RENEWABLE energy can ease the pain of rising electricity prices and the technology exists to power most of Australia, experts say.

Clean Energy for Eternity spokesman Warren Yates said households wanting to reduce power bills – predicted to rise by another 18 per cent in the next 12 months – should look at installing solar panels. Continue reading

June 20, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

More uncertainty over the future of BHP’s big new uranium mine plan

Global woes a worry for Olympic Dam, 9 News, 18 June 12,   Global economic uncertainty is casting more doubt over the expansion of South Australia’s Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine, Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond says…….”Given world economic circumstances, I think there is a much bigger question mark over it now than there was perhaps when the indenture was ratified by the parliament at the end of last year.”

Under the terms of the indenture, mining giant BHP Billiton has until the end of this year to give the $30 billion expansion final approval.

June 20, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

How to win the hearts and minds of climate change sceptics

How to convince climate sceptics to be pro-environment, New Scientist,   17 June 2012 by Michael Slezak
, Climate change might eventually cause millions of deaths and all kinds of natural disasters. But don’t tell that to a climate-change sceptic if you want them to do anything about it.

Instead, focus on how mitigation efforts can help people become more warm and caring towards others or how it can promote economic and technological development. That’s the advice psychologists give after confirming the strategy in an experiment. Continue reading

June 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

International Monetary Fund recommends Australia’s carbon tax

IMF backs carbon price Adam Morton June 19, 2012 A CLIMATE change policy guide by the International Monetary Fund has broadly backed the federal government’s starting point, recommending a minimum initial carbon price of about $20 a tonne. Continue reading

June 20, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Wind farms – $billions of value to the Australian economy

A study commissioned by the Clean Energy Council has shown found that wind farms alone could inject $17 billion into the Australian economy. This estimate relies on proposed future developments going ahead, but already $4.25 billion has been added to the economy due to the impact of wind power alone.

Wind Farms Offer $17 Billion Economic Boost, Design Build, By Tim Moore, 19 June 12 Renewable energy infrastructure in Australia is beginning to develop strong foundations. With the implementation of wind farms, solar farms and other large-scale green infrastructure projects taking root nationwide, it is possible to now monitor and understand the effects they are having on a multitude of levels. Continue reading

June 20, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | | Leave a comment

Challenge to USA’s Waste Confidence Rule – the idea that nuclear waste solution will be found later

The amount of spent fuel in storage might reach 150,000 metric tons by the year 2050, the appeals court noted in its ruling.

The court case challenged a “Waste Confidence Decision” — essentially the NRC’s estimate of how well issues of spent fuel will be handled in the future. 

The environmental groups are concerned because political and environmental concerns have prevented a solution to the issue of how to deal with spent fuel. “The continual, ‘We don’t know what we are going to do with it, but we know it will be all right’ is not sufficient,” said Ed Smith, safe energy director for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment…..

Group petitions for nuclear licensing halt, Columbia Daily Tribune By RUDI KELLER, June 19, 2012  A national coalition of environmental groups is asking that all nuclear licensing — including the Ameren Missouri request to extend the Callaway Nuclear Plant’s life for 20 years — be put on hold until a solution is found for storing nuclear waste. Continue reading

June 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment