Australian news, and some related international items

South Australian government says wind and solar power are sources of jobs

text-relevantWind and solar a source of jobs in SA
JULY 13, 2015 THE South Australian government says a commonwealth ban on supporting solar and wind energy scheme will make it harder to create jobs.

THE commonwealth has directed the Clean Energy Finance Corporation not to back any further wind energy projects as well as rooftop solar schemes.

But South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis says wind energy is a source of immediate and future jobs and putting barriers in the way of investment will make it more difficult to cut SA’s unemployment rate, which climbed to 8.2 per cent in June.

“South Australians are told by the commonwealth government that we are not allowed to build cars, we’re told we are not allowed to build submarines, now we are being told we shouldn’t build wind farms when we have investors ready to spend their money and create jobs now,” he said.


Climate Change Minister Ian Hunter will meet his interstate counterparts this week and says they will call on the federal government to end its ideological opposition to renewable energy.
“The message being sent to renewable energy investors by our federal government is `look elsewhere – don’t spend your money in Australia and don’t create jobs here’,” he said.

July 15, 2015 Posted by | politics, solar, South Australia, wind | 1 Comment

Australian uranium: digging itself into a hole

burial.uranium-industryDave Sweeney & Mia Pepper 15 July 15  Against a backdrop of fading social license, failing operations and falling value, Australia’s troubled uranium industry gathers today in Perth for its annual conference. “While nuclear true believers will no doubt be seeking to talk up the sector the reality is very different,” said Dave Sweeney, Nuclear Free Campaigner with the Australian Conservation Foundation.

“Energy Resources of Australia has abandoned its plans to move to underground mining at Ranger in Kakadu due to high operating costs and the continued low uranium price.”

These same poor market conditions have caused the Honeymoon project in SA and Paladin Energy’s Kayelekera mine in Malawi, Africa, to remain in ‘extended care and maintenance’.

“The sector’s social license has been actively contested for more than 40 years,” Dave Sweeney said.

“Uranium projects face community opposition across Australia, including Cameco’s Kintyre and Yeelirrie proposals and Toro’s Wiluna and Lake Maitland proposals in WA.”

The uranium industry provides less than .02 per cent of Australian jobs and .029 per cent of export revenue.  The uranium commodity price remains depressed with no credible prospects of any significant short to medium improvement in price.

“The vital signs of the industry are weak and losing political support, the Queensland Labor government has introduced a state wide prohibition on uranium mining and processing and we hope to see the same in WA in 2017,” Mia Pepper, Nuclear Free Campaigner with the Conservation Council of WA.

“Australian uranium miners continue to pin hopes on a nuclear renaissance, ignoring proliferation risks, global trends away from nuclear power, community opposition and the growth in the renewable energy sector. Our future is renewable not radioactive,” she said.

 The Australian Uranium Conference takes place on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

 For comment contact: Dave Sweeney 0408 317 812 or

Mia Pepper (attending the conference)  0415 380 808


July 15, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Yeelirrie uranium project suspended, but will it later ship uranium through Esperance?

uranium-oreWill uranium be shipped through Esperance?, Australian Mining 14 July, 2015 Ben Hagemann With the uranium industry gaining momentum in WA, Canadian miner Cameco has suggested Esperance as an export hub for products.

Cameco’s Yeeleerie project, billed as the largest in WA, is located near Wiluna some distance from Port Adelaide and Darwin, the only two ports in Australia approved for shipping uranium.

While the Yeeleerie project has been slowed to wait for commodity price recovery in the post-Fukushima uranium market, Cameco Australia managing director Brian Reilly said all options for shipping would be considered………

So far two uranium mines have been approved in WA since the 2008 lifting of the ban on uranium mining: Cameco’s Kintyre Project in the Pilbara, and Toro Energy’s Wiluna Project.

Toro Energy has already outlined plans to ship product through Port Adelaide, a 2700km journey by truck.

The issue of transporting radioactive rare earths materials came up in 2012 when Lynas Corporation rare earth shipping activities through the Port of Esperance were strenuously opposed by Greens member for Fremantle Adele Carles………

July 15, 2015 Posted by | uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Troubled history of Australia’s Ranger uranium mine – ABC Radio

‘So to Mirarr, I guess what they see is very, very large disturbance, they see mountains of waste rock and low-grade ore, and sometimes that does affect their views of important sites like Djidbidjidbi or just the landscape.

‘It will never look the same again and the site will have to be monitored for decades to come after it is finished being rehabilitated so that we can make sure that it is actually in a stable chemical condition, the biodiversity is doing okay and the ecosystem is functional and so on.’

Ranger 3

According to ERA figures, rehabilitation is expected to cost close to $500 million.

The long and controversial history of uranium mining in Australia, ABC Radio, Rear Vision, 14 July 2015 Keri Phillips Last month’s announcement that Energy Resources Australia will pull the plug on the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory signals the end of one of the most controversial chapters in Australian mining history. Keri Phillips traces the history of uranium mining in Australia and Ranger’s role in it……. Continue reading

July 15, 2015 Posted by | environment, history, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Concentrated Solar Power pre-feasibility study now being finalised at Port Augusta

text-relevantThe transition from fossil to renewable energy  The Fifth Estate, Graham Davies, Engineers Australia | 13 July 2015“…………It is encouraging that Alinta, with financial support from ARENA and the SA Government, is currently finalising a pre-feasibility study into concentrated solar thermal power at Port Augusta – a project that has the full support of the community. At present the capex of CSP is too high for a company to meet what is required for shareholder returns, but costs will decrease as the technology develops further. If government were to contribute an amount equivalent to saved externalities (such as adverse health effects associated with continuing the coal power station) it is probable that the project would be economically viable now.

concentrated solar Spain1

CSP is of particular value to a renewable grid, as it has the ability to efficiently store energy, be despatchable and provide synchronous generation and grid stability. These capabilities will circumvent the need for inflexible base load generators such as coal, CCGT and nuclear, with their many externalities. Port Augusta is an ideal location for CSP and presents a great opportunity for the future.

The closure of the Port Augusta Power Station may initially appear as bad news, but it may galvanise South Australia in becoming the iconic turning point for a new future – a future in which Australia again leads in solar development and export; where energy security is based on the sun and not the fossil reserves; where long-term thinking is built into economic analysis; and where prosperity is not measured by GDP but by net wealth and wellbeing.

Graham Davies is incoming chair of Engineers Australia’s Sustainable Engineering Society.

July 15, 2015 Posted by | solar, South Australia | 1 Comment

Tony Abbott now issuing rules to try to gut Australian Renewable Energy Agency

Abbott-destroys-renewablesSecond climate agency gets new rules A SECOND climate-related agency has has been issued new instructions by the Abbott government.

THE Australian Renewable Energy Agency has been given a five-point priority list – including more large-scale solar projects and thermal energy – to replace a broader scope of projects that it supports.

The change comes in the wake of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation being directed to stop funding wind farms and rooftop solar projects.

July 15, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Clean Energy Finance Corporation may be able to take legal action against Abbott government

justice“If there’s evidence that the Government’s just trying to frustrate the purpose of the Act, then the corporation would have the opportunity … to seek a legal remedy,”

Clean Energy Finance Corporation could have legal grounds to fight wind and solar ban, lawyer says By political reporters Anna Henderson and Eric Tlozek The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) could have an avenue to fight the Federal Government’s prohibition on investing in wind power and rooftop solar, according to a senior lawyer.

The Abbott Government has twice tried to abolish the taxpayer-funded $10 billion CEFC, known as the green bank, and has now issued a draft directive to stop the corporation investing in wind farms and small-scale solar.

The draft changes direct the authority to spend the money on large-scale solar projects and new and emerging technologies. Stephen Keim QC has previously provided advice to environmental groups about the Government’s ability to direct the CEFC. He said the Government had the power to put in place an investment mandate but it had to “tread a fairly thin line”.

“They can’t do anything or give a direction that’s inconsistent with the Act, including the purpose of the Act,” he told Radio National. “The purpose of the Act is spelled out. It is to get as much investment in clean energy technologies as you can, and that includes renewable technologies.”

What is the CEFC?  Continue reading

July 15, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Obama: diplomacy in Iran nuclear deal lowers the risk of war in Middle East

Obama,Barackdiplomacy-not-bombsflag-IranObama praises diplomacy of Iran nuclear deal, Sky News, , 15 July 2015 US President Barack Obama has lauded a landmark nuclear agreement with Iran as vindication of his diplomatic approach and a chance for a ‘new direction’ in decades of vexed relations with Tehran.

Obama said the deal – which would curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for substantial international sanctions relief – cut off ‘every pathway’ to an Iranian atomic weapon. ‘Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region,’ he said in a White House address on Tuesday.

Describing a ‘difficult history’ between Iran and the United States that ‘cannot be ignored,’ Obama shaped it as a diplomatic victory that showed ‘it is possible to change.’ ‘This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it,’ he said……..

Obama came to office vowing to talk directly to Tehran and to try to reach a negotiated deescalation – a marked shift from his predecessor, who rejected a similar deal struck by European countries. ‘This deal demonstrates that American diplomacy can bring real and meaningful change,’ he said.

But, he warned, if Iran steps back from measures agreed in the lengthy agreement, all sanctions ‘will snap back into place.’ Obama insisted the alternative to diplomacy was more violence in a region already beset by instability. ‘Put simply, no deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East,’ he said………

Obama said the deal was based on verification, not trust, and noted that differences between the two countries were ‘real.’

Analysts have also warned that Iran’s leaders may need to toughen anti-American rhetoric to ensure the backing of regime hardliners angered at the prospect of a deal with a power they view as the ‘Great Satan.’

July 15, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s Barnett goverment moving Aborigines off their land to benefit miners

handsoffIt is a trend that points to one thing — move indigenous people off their country so that the miners get a free hand and they can do as they will.

Michael Martinez: WA stance on indigenous Australia a worrying sign, MICHAEL MARTINEZ GEELONG ADVERTISER JULY 09, 2015 “…….. Mr Barnett and his pro-mining party members are trying to change the Aboriginal Heritage Act so that one bureaucrat can make a decision determining if a site is sacred or not.

There has already been a Supreme Court decision questioning the deregistering of a sacred site in Port Headland, and there are 22 other sites that the West Australian Government has removed during the past few years.

A government committee in Western Australia and the minister decided that the land and waters around parts of Port Hedland port should no longer be considered an Aboriginal sacred site because it had not been used for religious purposes.

Justice Chaney said in his judgment: “I conclude that the committee did not give consideration to the question of whether or not the Marapikurrinya Yintha was a place of importance or special significance because the question did not arise for consideration in light of the conclusion that it was not a sacred site.”  Continue reading

July 15, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Poorer Western Australians will lose out from Abbott’s solar turnoff – Senator Scott Ludlam


WA Greens senator says Abbott solar turn-off will hit battlers hardest, WA Today July 13, 2015   Reporter WA battlers will be hardest hit by the Abbott government’s decision to wind back investment into home solar, according to Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

He said the state’s solar-driven homes were now producing as much electricity as two conventional coal-fueled power stations.

And he believes it is too soon for the Abbott Government to pull the plug on investments into the solar industry. “Retirees, people on lower incomes and people in outer metro and rural areas of the state will be hardest hit by this.

The federal government has recently directed the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to exclude household and small scale solar from further investment funding. Senator Ludlam said the government still needed to support the solar industry.

Some 180,000 WA households have installed rooftop solars and Senator Ludlam said they were now generating the equivalent of two typical coal fire power stations. “Solar powered WA homes have increased 19 per cent in just one year – overwhelmingly in outer suburbs and households with lower incomes,” he said.

WA now has four postcodes in Australia’s top 20 solar suburbs including Mandurah at number two, North east Wanneroo at eight, Canning Vale/Willeton at 12 and Cockburn at 19.

Home owners benefit from trading in small scale technology certificates at the time of installation and feed-in tariffs (selling power back into the grid). “Householders are streaking ahead of the state and federal government as they use rooftop solar to dramatically reduce their power bills, but Tony Abbott’s crusade against renewable energy is set to have a devastating effect. Continue reading

July 15, 2015 Posted by | solar, Western Australia | 1 Comment

Queensland’s Mt Emerald Wind Farm will go ahead despite Abbott government

wind-Hepburn-community-farmTableland wind farm pushes ahead without Federal support DANIEL BATEMAN THE CAIRNS POST JULY 14, 2015   CONSTRUCTION on a wind farm on the Tableland is still likely to go ahead without funding assistance from the Federal Government.

The developers behind the Mt Emerald Wind Farm are confident they will receive environmental approval from the Department of Environment, with a decision expected before the end of September.

It comes as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has been ordered to focus on new technologies instead of wind farms under a revised mandate drafted by the government.

The $380 million wind farm, to be built at Walkamin, will potentially generate enough electricity to power 75,000 homes. The development is a joint venture between Ratch Australia and local property developer Port Bajool. Ratch owns several wind farms around Australia, including the Windy Hill wind farm near Ravenshoe which has been operating for more than a decade.

Kennedy MP Bob Katter, whose electorate covers Walkamin, said in the right location, wind farms could successfully generate additional incomes for small communities and landholders…..

He said without the CEFC investing in development, Australia would “go backwards”. “If this happens, the only independent development bank in Australia will cease to exist,’’ he said. “No real development will take place. “What the government calls investment is foreign takeovers of Australia assets.

“The only people in Australia who think this is a good thing are this current LNP and the last ALP government.”

July 15, 2015 Posted by | Queensland, wind | Leave a comment

Government’s attack on Clean Energy Finance Corporation threatens commercial solar projects in ACT

Federal directive on solar threatens commercial rooftop projects in the ACT, says Simon Corbell July 13, 2015  Chief Assembly reporter for The Canberra Times. The Abbott government’s directive against investment in small and medium-scale solar threatens commercial rooftop projects in Canberra, ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell said on Monday.

Mr Corbell attacked Prime Minister Tony Abbott as “public enemy No 1” on renewable energy.

“He’s putting jobs at risk, he’s putting investment at risk and he’s putting the industry at risk, an industry that will need to grow considerably over the next decade if Australia is to meet its international greenhouse gas reduction commitments,” Mr Corbell said.

He was responding to news of a draft directive from the Abbott government to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation not to invest in small and medium-scale solar projects. The corporation was also ordered not to invest in new wind projects.

He was responding to news of a draft directive from the Abbott government to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation not to invest in small and medium-scale solar projects. The corporation was also ordered not to invest in new wind projects.

Mr Corbell said there was potential for major growth in solar on office blocks, shopping centres and warehouses, but it needed the certainty provided by the corporation’s backing.
The ACT government has signed 20-year contracts with three wind farms and three solar farms, with a guaranteed price for the energy they produce over 20 years, as part of its ambitious target of meeting 90 per cent of the city’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020. One of the solar farms is operational to date. Still to come is funding for “next-generation” solar, and more wind projects.

Mr Corbell said the ACT’s large-scale projects were not threatened by the decision, with the ACT government’s funding providing the certainty that companies and financiers needed.

Queensland, South Australia and Victoria were already looking at the ACT’s model, he said.

July 15, 2015 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

USA Republicans pushing for economically non viable thorium nuclear trechnology

No private company wants to build or finance a reactor under anything resembling New England text-SMRspower market rules. Large subsidies will be essential to the development of new reactors, including thorium and small modular reactors.

antnuke-relevantFlag-USAWhy GOP support for subsidized nuclear energy is confounding Bangor daily News, By Peter Bradford, July 11, 2015, 

Two unusual bills promoting nuclear power were introduced in the Maine Legislature this session. One, from Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, would have fast tracked Maine’s path to a reactor using thorium to create a uranium isotope different from those that fuel nearly all of today’s power reactors. The other, from the office of Gov. Paul LePage, would have exempted “small modular reactors” from the referendum process Maine requires for other nuclear power plants.

Neither bill passed as proposed.

Still, what on earth is going on here? No license applications for these designs have ever been filed at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. No one knows what they would cost or how reliably they would operate. Continue reading

July 15, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey, Matthias Cormann placing bizarre restrictions on renewable energy development

By potentially restricting the CEFC’s mandate to “big solar” – particularly parabolic troughs and molten salt storage – and as yet undeveloped technologies such as wave and tidal energy, as suggested by environment minister Greg Hunt, the government is not just confusing the CEFC’s role with that of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, but also making its task of achieving double the government bond rate return impossible.

It is asking it to take on the riskiest technologies and put all its eggs in just a few baskets.

Parkinson-Report-The Coalition’s push against renewables is bizarre, contradictory, risky nonsense, Guardian Giles Parkinson, 13 July 15  With its directive to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Abbott government is also telling the banks to avoid financing renewables here Not content with putting the renewable energy industry on hold through an interminable review, and then cutting the large scale component by more than one third, and then declaring wind energy to be offensive,ugly and unwelcome, the Coalition government has now decided to try to nobble the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

Clean energy bank ‘seeks legal advice’ after Coalition pulls plug on wind and solar projects

Not for the first time, but the attempts by treasurer Joe Hockey and finance minister Matthias Cormann to impose bizarre, contradictory and mystifying restrictions on the $10bn institution are designed to prolong the drought in large scale renewable energy investment and extend it to small scale renewables as well.

Much of the uproar has focused on the apparent targeting of wind technology and household solar – the two most successful renewable energy sectors in Australia to date. Continue reading

July 15, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | 1 Comment

At last, a nuclear agreement is reached between Iran and the major powers

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-IranIran nuclear agreement: powerful diplomats reach a deal,  JULY 15, 2015 THE world’s major powers have struck a long-awaited nuclear deal with Iran after more than two weeks of intense talks in Vienna.

Iranian state television has broadcast US President Barack Obama’s statement on the deal live, only the second such occasion since the Islamic revolution of 1979.

The state broadcaster had also aired Obama’s comments on an April 2 framework accord that led to Tuesday’s historic agreement, paving the way for an easing of crippling Western sanctions and for Iran to come in from the cold…….Iranians have poured onto the streets of Tehran after the Ramadan fast ended at sundown to celebrate the historic nuclear deal…….

July 15, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment