Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear News This Week – Australia

a-cat-CANRenewable Energy –  yes the news is all about this area. The indomitable Giles Parkinson of REneweconomy just keeps on revealing interesting stuff  – like:

  • the growth in community renewable energy – community solar network Farming the Sun in NSW”s Northern rivers region, the first of several such groups in New South Wales. NSW government’s Office of Environment and Heritage has approved funding for up to 9 groups to develop similar proposals.   Community wind farms exist in Victoria (Hepburn Wind project) and in Albany, W.A.
  • Australian businesses are taking to solar energy, with 1,460 commercial solar installation in the first quarter of this year. This is causing financial distress to fossil fuel energy utilities. Australia needs to follow Germany’s lead in helping fossil fuel utilities to cope with the transition – they will still be needed as the renewable energy revolution progresses, for backup energy.
  • Meanwhile the Energy Supply Association of Australia (ESAA)  got  a bit desperate, blaming home solar owners for  ‘avoiding network charges’. As Parkinson pointed out,  the ESAA ignored the cross-subsidy paid by households with no air conditioning for those who do.
  • Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC)  launches  screen printing for solar energy – an Australian scientific first!

Federal politics. Greg Hunt Shadow Minister for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage reiterated the Liberal Coalition’s plans to repeal the Carbon Tax, remove the Clean Energy Act, and remove Federal powers over Environmental Law.  Christine Milne gave  a spirited stand for Australia’s environment.


  • Share prices for Australian uranium companies ERA, Paladin, Bannerman Resources, have fallen over 90% since 2007
  • A new study  ‘Economics at Large’ examines Toro Energy’s Wiluna uranium project., and finds that it is financially risky. It might just manage to be financially viable   if Toro can avoid clean-up and decommissioning costs.
  •  Paladin Energy is the news again, for all the wrong reasons. Very poor and unsafe working conditions in Paladin’s  Kayelekera uranium mine, in Malawi, having led to blindness in one worker. Paladin blamed all this on  a”sub-contractor”.  They couldn’t get away with this in Australia. Sadly, our mining companies can be “The Ugly Australian” in Africa.


May 22, 2013 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Community solar energy gathering pace in Australia

community solarCommunity solar may be next big thing in Australia renewables REneweconomy. By   22 May 2013  The momentum for a big push into community solar projects appears to be gathering pace, with several different organisations planning public launches in the next month, and suggestions that several dozen projects could be built on NSW rooftops in coming years.

Among plans revealed this week are the launch of a community solar network Farming the Sun in the northern Rivers region, to be followed soon by similar groups in New England and the Riverina. This is the work of community energy advocate Embark and Starfish Enterprises, which has identified 7 different projects of at least 80kW that could be commissioned in the next 18 months.

A Newcastle community group has also emerged with a plan to launch a “crowd-funding model – similar to that used successfully by Mosaic in the US – to develop projects in its region. Meanwhile, a new organisation known as the Community Power Agency was launched on Wednesday to help the development of community energy projects.

The announcements come as news circulates that the NSW government’s Office of Environment and Heritage has approved funding for up to 9 groups to either conduct feasibility studies into their business  models, or provide funds for the groundwork for particular projects.

Community ownership of renewable projects has yet to take off in Australia, even if in countries like Germany it accounts for around half of renewables investments.

Australia has two community-owned wind farms – the Hepburn Wind project near Daylesford in Victoria and in Denmark, near Albany in WA-  but community owned solar projects are tipped to be a compelling proposition because of plunging cost of solar and their ability to compete with retail prices rather than wholesale prices.

Farming the Sun Project director Adam Blakester, of Starfish Enterprises, said the  business model for the community projects his consortium is proposing is similar to that of the 400kW community solar project announced late last year for the Lend Lease development in Sydney’s Darling Harbour…..

May 22, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, solar, Victoria | Leave a comment

Hear this podcast from Western Australia’s anti uranium marathon walkers

podcastSmUNDERSTOREY – THE BEGINNING OF THE NIGHTMARE- PART 2 Understorey investigates the prospects of WA’s first uranium mine.  In the words of a Japanese woman, is this “the beginning of the nightmare?”  This week Adrian Glamorgan visited the anti-uranium walkers near Yeelirrie.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Audiovisual | Leave a comment

Scientists find high uranium levels, and high cancer, birth defects rates, in Iraq

Fallujah-babyhighly-recommendedScientists detect high levels of uranium contamination that increases cancers, birth defects in Iraq  May 21, 2013  Ten years after the Iraq war of 2003 a team of scientists based in Mosul, northern Iraq, have detected high levels of uranium contamination in soil samples at three sites in the province of Nineveh which, coupled with dramatically increasing rates of childhood cancers and birth defects at local hospitals, highlight the ongoing legacy of modern warfare to civilians in conflict zones. The radioactive element uranium is widely dispersed throughout the earth’s crust and is much sought after as a fuel for nuclear power plants and for use in weapons. Depleted uranium (DU), commonly used in modern munitions such as defensive armour plating and armour-piercing projectiles, is 40 per cent less radioactive than natural uranium, but remains a significant and controversial danger to human health.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) sets a maximum uranium exposure of 1 millisievert (mSv) per year for the general public, but environmental scientists at the University of Mosul and the Institute of Forest Ecology, Universitaet für Bodenkultur (BOKU), Vienna, Austria, led by Riyad Abdullah Fathi have measured significant levels of uranium in soil samples from three sites in the province of Nineveh in the north of Iraq. Writing in the journal Medicine, Conflict and Survival, Fathi and colleagues link their findings with dramatic increases in cancers reported to the Mosul Cancer Registry and the Iraqi national cancer registry (which began collecting data in 1975).

They conclude that:

“The Gulf Wars of 1991 and 2003 left a legacy of pollution with DU in many regions of Iraq. The effects of these munitions may be affecting the general health of Iraqi citizens, manifesting in an increase in cancers and birth defects.”

They also warn that, even though some of the contamination measured in this study is specifically linked to known sites, it can be easily spread widely in the air, soil and water, particularly as dust in windstorms.

Their report “Environmental pollution by depleted uranium in Iraq with special reference to Mosul and possible effects on cancer and birth defect rates” begins with a literature review that collates health-related data from a range of sources, including a report by the WHO (in 2003), which states that childhood cancers – particularly leukaemia – are ten times higher in Iraq than in other industrialised countries. Continue reading

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coal and gas energy providers losing out as Australian businesses go solar

Aust-sunCoal, gas profits suffer as business goes solar BY:MATT CHAMBERS  The Australian  May 22, 2013  SOLAR power systems are being installed by businesses at triple the rate they were a year ago as a glut of Chinese cells and rising Australian power prices combine to improve solar’s economics and threaten the profits of coal and gas-fired power providers.

Many of the photovoltaic cell systems used by businesses — which mostly need power during the day when solar cells work best — are being installed without major subsidies, the relative economics have improved so much…….(subscribers only)

May 22, 2013 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Yet another slide down for uranium price

Spot uranium price slides to near $40.50/lb: market sources  Washington (Platts Jasmin Melvin )–21May2013/231 pm EDT/1831 thumbs-downGMT  The uranium spot price has been pushed down slightly to $40.50/lb or lower in a market with ample supply but few buyers looking to make deals, market sources said Tuesday.

Three market sources said Tuesday that the spot uranium price could be stuck within a $40/lb to $41/lb range for the next couple of weeks.

“There’s a very limited number of buyers, and there seems to be more interest on the selling side — again not large numbers but enough that if someone comes in and says they want to sell, it’s pushing the price down a little,” one of the sources said.  Price publisher Ux Consulting said in its weekly report Monday that the market “can be characterized as rather quiet with a forward price curve that is about as flat as a pancake.” ….

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Germany a big exporter of renewable energy electricity

Germany Continues to Export Power Despite Nuclear Exit   Climate Denial Crock of the Week with Peter Sinclair May 21, 2013

They said it couldn’t happen. They keep trying to trash the EnergieWende – Germany’s planet-leading transformation to renewable energy. But the pesky Germans keep perking along.      Wall Street Journal:

FRANKFURT–Germany exported more electricity than it imported for the seventh consecutive year in 2012, despite an accelerated exit from nuclear-power generation that included the immediate and permanent shut-down of nearly half of the country’s atomic reactors in 2011.

Germany exported about 22.8 terrawatt-hours of electricity more than it imported in 2012, the Federal Statistics Office, Destatis, said Tuesday in a written statement.


The main destinations for German-produced electricity were the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria, said the statistics office, citing data supplied by Germany’s four power transmission grid operators. The main sources of power imports into Germany were France, Denmark and the Czech Republic, it said.

The statistics office didn’t provide any reasons for the continued power exports, despite the fact that Germany shut down eight of 17 nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan in March 2011.

The rapid expansion of solar- and wind-power installations are seen as the main reason for continued German electricity exports, as well as the erosion of wholesale power prices under which many of Europe’s utilities are presently suffering.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

China to set absolute cap on greenhouse emissions – moves to cease importing coal

Liberal-policy-1[Liberal Coalition] climate change spokesman Greg Hunt is still peddling nonsense that China plans to lift coal consumption to 7 billion tonnes, and suggests that Tony Abbott, armed with a fig leaf of a policy that includes its $300 million emissions reduction fund and a 15,000 strong, litter collecting “Green Army”, can somehow encourage China and the US to intensify their efforts.

The implications for Australian business in abandoning carbon pricing as its biggest trading partner embraces its own are enormous.

Deutsche Bank.. estimates that China will cease to be an importer of coal within a few years

China emissions cap proposal hailed as climate breakthrough REneweconomy, By    22 May 2013 China, the world’s biggest polluter, is proposing to set a cap on greenhouse gas emissions as early as 2016 in a move that is being hailed as a potentially transformative step in the fight against climate change.

According to news reports from China, the powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has proposed setting absolute caps that would divorce the growth on emissions from growth in the economy, and will also set a peak in its overall emissions in 2025, five years earlier than planned.

China has already pledged to cut its emissions intensity – the amount of Co2 it emits per economic unit – by up to 45 per cent by 2020. The significance of an absolute cap is that it promises to reign in emissions even if the economy grows faster than expected. Continue reading

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian businesses rapidly taking up solar energy

Aust-sunCommercial Solar Electricity ‘Cheaper Than Buying From The Grid’   22 May 13

According to an article on The Australian, the economics of solar have improved so much in recent years, commercial solar is being installed without major subsidies.

Quoting figures from AGL, The Australian states the number of commercial scale solar installations has jumped from 550 in the first four months in 2012 to 1,460 in the same period this year.  Continue reading

May 22, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Japan becoming a top solar energy market

sunflag-japanJapan emerges as solar beacon, SMH May 22, 2013 –  “……The country’s generous solar feed-in tariff continues to bolster demand: Japan Asia Group’s plans are moving ahead to develop 500 megawatts of solar projects over the next three years, Tetsuo Yamashita, chairman of the company, said at a meeting with analysts on 16 May. It has 24 solar plants already developed in Europe, but may trim its business in that region, Yamashita said. Japan Asia received a  1.6 billion yen loan for five solar projects in its home country from Shinsei Bank and Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance Company, it said in a statement in March. Continue reading

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment