Australian news, and some related international items

Sunshine Coast glad that Australia rejects nuclear power

map-solar-QueenslandWE SAY: Right rein pulled on nuclear option   25th Sep 2014 Anthony Clausen

OUR VIEW: THE Coast has an abiding interest in the future of the energy industry in Australia.

Our pristine environment depends upon it, after all.

We were once the target of politically mischievous claims that the Coast was on a list of “possible future nuclear power plant sites”.

This week, however, lost in headlines about terrorism, terror laws and our continued reliance on coal this week, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane ruled out nuclear power plants in Australia, in line with government policy.

We are pleased to hear it.

The issue has bubbled up with the release of the government’s Energy Green Paper, which urges the establishment of a broad mix of energy sources, including nuclear power.

Mr Macfarlane said, how-ever, his focus was on keeping consumer costs down while forging an energy industry that provided investment and development opportunities.

“We are blessed in Australia with a broad set of energy sources, and not only in terms of coal and gas, but also renewable energy, and renewable energy will grow as part of our energy mix,” he said.

“So there is … no need to have a debate in regard to nuclear energy in Australia, but we should focus on the opportunities that nuclear energy presents in other countries and build our uranium industry to take advantage of that.”

That, of course, sets off a different chain-reaction debate.

September 26, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia’s ClimateWorks and Australian National University show the way to 50% renewable energy by 2050

Parkinson-Report-Australia Encouraged To Set 50% Renewable Energy Target By 2030 September 25th, 2014 by   RenewEconomy.

Imagine a world in 2050. Everyone drives an (electric) car, homes have all the gadgets, appliances and nick-nacks. The public transport system is emissions free. Mining work and transport is electrified, and diesel is dumped. Electrification has taken place in much of the steel industry. And it is all emissions free. It might be powered by 100 per cent renewables – the sun, wind, the sea, and geothermal, hydro and biomass. And the economy is still strong.

Welcome to the zero carbon world awaiting Australia and much of the rest of the world.

Major new analysis – Pathways to Deep Decarbonisation – produced by Australia’s ClimateWorks, along with ANU, shows that 15 of the world’s biggest economies can move to “net carbon zero” by 2050, and it need impose no extra costs over business as usual. In fact, electricity bills will be lower than what they are now. Economic growth will remain more or less the same, and the benefits, in terms of health and the environment, will be enormous.

The report is timed for the New York climate summit being hosted by the UN this week, and in the 12 months leading up to the Paris event that will hopefully result in a new climate treaty next year. It is designed to help change the political rhetoric around decarbonisaion. In Australia, only one party, the Greens, talks in terms of net carbon zero by 2050, and of higher renewable energy targets. Yet this report says not only is it necessary to meet climate goals, it is eminently doable.

Anna Skarbek, the executive director of ClimateWorks, says that Australia’s political rhetoric needs to change quickly. While the Abbott government is talking of the need to “cut” the renewable energy target down to a “real” 20 per cent, for “fear” that it might reach 25 or 26 per cent by 2020, Skarbek says that to achieve climate goals, Australia’s renewable energy target needs to be at least 50 per cent by 2030 – and then carbon free by 2050.

“There are many pathways for Australia to substantially reduce emissions, but all include greatly improved energy efficiency across the economy, a nearly carbon free power system and switching to low carbon energy sources in transport, buildings and industry,” Skarbek says.

“Taking the carbon out of our electricity system provides the largest reduction in emissions. Then we can use the carbon-free electricity to replace petrol in cars, and gas in buildings and some industrial processes.”

“The move to a low emissions electricity system can be developed with technologies that exist today. But we need to move faster – this report shows we’ll need at least 50 per cent renewable electricity by 2030 to achieve a decarbonised electricity system in the time we have left to stay within the carbon budget.”….in all scenarios, even those that hope for cost-competitive carbon capture and storage, renewable energy is the dominant technology, and solar provides at least 50 per cent of all generation.

By 2030, under the renewable scenario, coal is nearly eliminated, although it plays a greater role in the other scenarios because CCS will take a decade at least to bring into production (if it can ever deliver the costs, which many think it won’t), and nuclear will not have a presence before 2030.

Even then, it is assumed that nuclear would provide no more than one-quarter of generation  – and this is based on the rather generous cost estimates of past government reviews, and does not reflect the significant cost declines that can be expected of solar. Note however, that the emissions per MWh is the renewables scenario is nearly half of that entertained in the CCS or nuclear scenario – that’s because coal generators get to pollute for many years longer in those scenarios……..

The ClimateWorks report was one of 15 prepared for the UN Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project that involves modelling teams from 15 major emitters that also include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, the UK and the USA.

The findings are being presented to the UN this week by leading economist Jeffrey Sachs. It shows that these countries account for 70 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The interim results show that all 15 countries found ways to achieve near zero carbon electricity by 2050, while sustaining economic growth……

September 26, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

CSIRO breakthrough in solar thermal research

SUPERCRITICAL SOLAR: CSIRO’S SOLAR BREAKTHROUGH OFFERS NEW OPPORTUNITIES, Techly, by Bianca Wright  Thursday 25 September 2014 “…….In June, the CSIRO announced that it had managed to generate supercritical steam using solar energy. The CSIRO’s Energy Director Dr Alex Wonhas called it a game-changer.

“It’s like breaking the sound barrier; this step change proves solar has the potential to compete with the peak performance capabilities of fossil fuel sources.”

According to the CSIRO, supercritical solar steam is “water pressurised at enormous force and heated using solar radiation”. Wonhas noted, “Instead of relying on burning fossil fuels to produce supercritical steam, this breakthrough demonstrates that the power plants of the future could instead be using the free, zero emission energy of the sun to achieve the same result.”

Sarah Miller of CSIRO Energy Technology explained that thermal power stations produce steam that spins a turbine, which converts the steam’s thermal energy into mechanical energy to drive an electrical generator that ultimately produces electricity………

The CSIRO leads the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI) which believes the cost of generating concentrating solar thermal power could be reduced from 26.5 cents per kilowatt hour to around 12 cents by 2020.


“This reduction in costs would mean that concentrating solar thermal power station would be cost competitive with traditional power plants and will be able to provide near-zero emissions electricity without destabilising the grid,” Miller said. “Concentrating solar thermal power technologies have advantages over many other renewable energy technologies because thermal energy can be stored and converted to electricity when needed, allowing dispatchable power generation.

“Concentrating solar thermal technologies can also be used to produce high quality process heat and drive chemical reactions. A future concentrating solar thermal world achievement will be 24 hour production of supercritical steam from storage.”

But, Hoogesteger said, it’s also important to recognise that one of the advantages of solar power is that solar often works best by decentralising power generation………

“Solar means that we need to think differently. As a result of the kind of ongoing, gradual innovation that doesn’t always get the headlines, businesses and homes can be their own power plants right now. So it would be wrong to seize on this one innovation and overlook what solar is already doing for business, government and households.”

Despite this, the CSIRO’s breakthrough represents a step forward in terms of solar as a viable option at a larger scale than previously envisaged…….

September 26, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear waste is poisoning wildlife

“Groundbreaking” study reveals Fukushima nuclear waste is poisoning wildlife: Up to 99% of offspring died after eating ‘low-level’ contaminated food — “Very high” abnormality rates including “severe and rare” deformities (PHOTOS)

PhysOrg, Sep 23, 2014 (emphasis added): In a previous study, the group [of university researchers] suggested that eating leaves with high levels of radiation seriously affected the pale grass blue butterfly. Their new study investigated the effect of eating leaves with much lower levels of radiation… Joji Otaki, University of Rukyus, says… “Our study demonstrated that eating contaminated foods could cause serious negative effects on organisms. Suchnegative effects may be passed down the generations… eating non-contaminated food improves the negative effects”…

AAAS, Sep 22, 2014: Fukushima radiation still poisoning insects — Eating food contaminated with radioactive particlesFukushima-insects-14 may bemore perilous than thought… The findings from Otaki’s group are “groundbreaking,” says Timothy Mousseau, a biologist at the University of South Carolina… there have been “almost no studies” on how ingestion of radiation-tainted foods affect wildlife.

Study by University of the Ryukyus and Nagasaki University researchers, published Sep 23, 2014: [We] examined the effects oflow-level-contaminated diets… The mortality rate increased linearly in accordance with an increase of the caesium… Remarkably, the mortality rate of the Koriyama group [.04 Bq per larva] was 53% [in the first generation]… We discovered various morphological abnormalities in the surviving adults… severe and rare abnormalities shown in Figure 5might imply the effects of a contaminated diet. Only three [that ate] Okinawa leaves [1760 km from Fukushima Daiichi] showed very minor morphological abnormalities… As observed in the F1 [first] generation, various morphological abnormalities were detected in the surviving F2 [second generation] adults… very high mortality and abnormality rates [were] recorded…low-dose effects were clearly detected… results suggest that low-dose ingestion of approximately 100 Bq/kg may be seriously toxic to certain organisms… The biological effects of ingesting the contaminated diets were more severe in the F2 generation…

Mortality Rates

  • Koriyama [60 km from Fukushima Daiichi] F1 group and the Koriyama F2 group obtained from the Koriyama F1 adults were 53.0% and 79%, respectively
  • Motomiya [also 60 km] F1 group and the Motomiya F2 group obtained from the Motomiya F1 adults were 31.2% and 99%, respectively… “very small number of surviving adults”

Prof. Otaki: Many theoreticians and politicians have claimed [that Fukushima has caused] no harmful biological effects… Even worse, some biologists have claimed that there are no biological impacts… to our surprise, leaves contaminated at relatively low levels… resulted in a mortality rate of more than 50%… Moreover, the sensitivity of the offspring generation increased, resulting in very high mortality rates… it is widely believed among modern biologists that insights obtained from one biological system are largely applicable to other systems…

See also: Study: Deaths, mutations increased sharply from Fukushima exposure “especially at low doses” — ‘Small’ levels of cesium may be significantly toxic

September 26, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Technological breakdown and climate change make nuclear power increasingly dangerous

safety-symbolFukushima: Dispossession or Denuclearization?” — The Final Chapter, The Millennium Report 13 Sept 14

“……….Technospheric Breakdown is Accentuated by Earth Changes

The point of this part of the discussion is that as technospheric breakdown accelerates, and it is now accelerating at an ever-increasing rate because of old plants and infrastructure which are approaching the end of their lifetime, the technosphere is also exposed to the intensifying assaults that come with Global Climate Change and other major Earth changes. Because of this rapidly evolving worldwide predicament, the entire technosphere is now much more susceptible to both systemic breakdowns and isolated failures. Of course, a perfect storm of multiple isolated failures significantly increases the risks for systemic breakdown. As an example, the Fukushima nuclear disaster provides various instances in which the systemic breakdown produced emergency situations, and also of where different isolated failures worked their way into the system with tremendous consequences…….

The ultimate determination that one can draw from the facts on the ground at Fukushima is that the Daiichi Nuclear Power Station shouldn’t even be there. Nor should any other nuclear power plants which have been sited on any of the coastlines of Japan, so vulnerable as they are to earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons.

In this new era of unpredictable and cataclysmic Earth changes, this obvious conclusion cannot be overstated. It is also applicable to every other nuclear power plant in the world that is located on or very near a shoreline or fault line, large river bank or volcano. Clearly, the scientists and engineers, architects and designers, manufacturers and builders who drew up or contributed to the original plans for nuclear power generation infrastructure never anticipated these eventualities. Why they did not simply defies common sense. The result is this – the horrific devastation at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station……

September 26, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear Poisoning in Jharkand, India

Economy & Ecology: The Inconvenient Truths The Global Calcuttan September 21, 2014 “Capitalism, as it’s conceived and conducted today; capitalism that relies on globalization, unbridled consumerism, deregulation and perpetual economic expansion, is irreconcilable with a livable climate.” – Naomi Klein, Capitalism vs. The Climate

Economy and Ecology: Disclosing the Inconvenient Truths By SB Veda CALCUTTA – This week we feature two articles on the conflict between capitalism and the environment: One describes the mysterious set of illnesses affecting children in the village of Jadugora in Jharkand, India, the sight of India’s first major uranium mine (now closed); and the second is an interview with left-wing author and thinker, Naomi Klein on her new book, which was published, yesterday called Capitalism vs. The Climate……..

Nuclear Poisoning in Jharkand
It is already too late for many of the children of Jadugora, born with birth defects, destined to develop cancer. The story is one of ignorance, lack of adequate regulation, and finally a total breakdown of institutional responsibility within the Indian republic.

In fact, the owner of the Uranium mine situated in the village, The Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) is owned by the Government. UCIL, instead of acting in the people’s interests, systematically dumped nuclear waste, ending up in Jadugora’s water supply. This is water used to drink and wash, water that grows the vegetation consumed by the villagers and their livestock. They are literally consuming and bathing in nuclear poison.

It is no wonder that the defeated UPA government under Manmohan Singh, sought to export liabilities from nuclear mismanagement to potential foreign suppliers after India became a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). In India, the government seems to have abdicated its responsibility to effectively regulate the civil nuclear industry to safeguard the people.

The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) owns UCIL and its operations are covered under Atomic Energy Act, which makes accurate information about the mine extremely arduous to obtain. There is no requirement for public participation at any stage of the process of sighting, designing or building nuclear facilities. In an article for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (1999), T.S. Gopi Rethinaraj writes: “The department [of atomic energy] has happily exploited the ignorance of India’s judiciary and political establishment on nuclear issues. In the past, it has even used the Atomic Energy Act to prevent nuclear plant workers from accessing their own health records. While nuclear establishments everywhere have been notorious for suppressing information, nowhere is there an equivalent of India’s Atomic Energy Act in operation. Over the years, in the comfort of secrecy, India’s nuclear establishment has grown into a monolithic and autocratic entity that sets the nuclear agenda of the country and yet remains virtually unaccountable for its actions.” (Source:

Even lawyers at the legal aid society whose responsibility it was to advise the victims of the environmental calamity of their rights and recourse are named as defendants in the public interest suit brought on behalf of the afflicted. Everybody, it seems, was bought and paid for in the oligarchic legacy left by Jawaharlal Nehru that is The Republic of India.

Nehru’s views on the nuclear industry are revealing. The former Gandhian Satyagrahi, wrote to his defence minister shortly after independence that not only did the “future belong to those who produce atomic energy”, but “Defence (was) intimately connected with this.” He was at the ready to fund atomic research – the first Asian government to do so, and his surreptitious plan for a nuclear defence was carried to the next generation and revealed in the misuse of civilian nuclear technology imported from Canada by Indira Gandhi for purposes of defence. This caused all nuclear cooperation between the two nations to cease until recently.

The BJP may have taken the nuclear defence programme out of the darkness, making India a declared nuclear power but it also did little to clean up the civilian nuclear power industry.

Getting back to bribery – though more flagrant in India, is also present in Western democracies as Klein pointed out in her interview: ‘Both by . . . bribing politicians and serving as (an election-campaign) disciplinary force for politicians — you get the money if you do the right thing. But if you don’t do the right thing from the perspective of the oil companies then that same money is used to attack you in television ads and so on.’

September 26, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thorium promotion – nothing but a massive, well rehearsed sales pitch

Thorium-pie-in-skyThorium Trolls Hypnotise Environmentalists, October 26th, 2011 Kirk Sorensen is apparently a one-man propaganda machine. His personal energy must be immense. He keeps turning up everywhere.

Never since the days of Tesla versus Edison has there been such an energy-related public communications coup.

He is a social media god. He has to be – he’s running an enterprise start-up marketing an unproven energy process.It appears that Bryony Worthington has been scooped up. But then she backed carbon offsetting andCarbon Capture and Storage. Can we ask if her judgment has improved lately ? And Friends of the Earth have been hypnotised. Or maybe not. George Monbiot was taken in a while back.

From now on, I can predict British environmentalists from every sector of society to call for the development of the Thorium Fuel Cycle – although I think it’s a waste of time and resources, and in my view cannot be scaled up quickly enough to be of any use in dealing with the global energy crisis.

All we have so far is a massive, well-researched sales pitch. And Kirk Sorensen’s done his homework on networking the institutions. In fact, I think that’s all he’s capable of – talk. I sense he is a Master of Spinology.

Miracle energy sources are a never-ending source of humour and despair. Remember cold fusion ? Where’s that now ? Still in a test tube ? Burning seawater ? Are you serious ? Remember Carbon Capture and Storage ? Where’s that now – after all the hype ? And what about algae biodiesel ? Will theflow rates of output fuel ever be high enough ?

The Thorium Fuel Cycle is not all it’s cracked up to be.

The simplest solutions are the best. Ones that already exist and already work. We need to stop hoping for the future and live in the now. We already have all the technology we need to solve climate change and the energy crisis – gas and power. Renewable electricity. And renewable gas.

September 26, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment