Australian news, and some related international items

Wind farm commissioner – the cons and pros of the position

wind-farm-evil-1Wind farm commissioner insists he’s good value for taxpayers at $200,000 a year, SMH March 25, 2016  Environment editor, The Age  Australia’s wind farm commissioner has insisted taxpayers are getting good value for money out of his $200,000 a year salary.

In an interview with Fairfax Media, Andrew Dyer, who was appointed to the wind energy watchdog post in October, said he believed there were genuine issues around wind farms to be solved and he was one of a handful of people with the skills to do it.

The national wind farm commissioner has been a highly contested position since it was first created by then Prime Minister Tony Abbott last year.

Critics say the position – established via a deal with anti-wind crossbench Senators – was another attempt to stymie the roll-out of clean energy under then Prime Minister Tony Abbott. There has also been a heavy focus from critics on Mr Dyer’s $205,000 a year remuneration and the job’s classification as part-time.

Mr Dyer said he could not claim to be full-time while holding other positions, including volunteer board spots, chairing a private company and involvement with Monash University’s sustainability unit, but added: “I can assure you it is a very big load.”……….

The most controversial element of the wind farm debate is claims infrasound (inaudible noise) from wind farms can make people sick. A long list of symptoms have been ascribed to so called “wind turbine syndrome”, including sleeplessness, headaches, nausea, memory loss and tinnitus.

But numerous health and government assessments – including by the National Health and Medical Research Council – have repeatedly found no link between wind farm infrasound and health problems.

Mr Dyer said this had also been his advice, though no health complaint, whatever the reason, should be ignored.

More research into the issue should be done, he said. This week $3.3 million in government research grants to study the health effects of wind farms were announced……..

Mr Dyer has worked in the energy industry for many years and in many roles. During that time he has been a notable champion of solar thermal technology.

He pointed to previous comment pieces he had written stressing a “balance of technologies” in the energy supply. He told Fairfax Media wind energy “will be a major part of that balance into the future.”

What impact might he have on the industry then?

Mr Dyer conceded he had no legal authority to order changes to projects, but he could personally work with complainants and companies to try reach workable solutions to disputes.

“Industry has been very supportive of my role and appointment because they know if complaints aren’t dealt with properly then it will continue to have a negative impact on them and raise the potential for further regulation,” Mr Dyer said.

March 25, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | Leave a comment

Big financial benefits in locating solar and wind power together

text-relevant The study’s key findings:
 – Cost savings: Major savings can be obtained in the grid connection equipment and installation, operation and maintenance and development costs (including land costs, development approvals and studies). These savings are estimated at 3% to 13% for CAPEX and 3 to 16 percent for OPEX.
 – Prospective regions: The greatest brownfield co-location opportunities are currently in Western Australia and South Australia, where there is good solar resource, a complementary generation profile and higher wholesale market prices. The best greenfield opportunities for wind-solar co-location are also found in South Australia and Western Australia, as well as parts (non-cyclonic) of Queensland and small parts of New South Wales.
 – Importance of network access; Many of the greenfield sites are not close to the network, or are adjacent to weak parts of the network. While this creates a challenge for developers, there may be an opportunity for NSPs and policy makers to intervene by opening up regions of high natural wind and solar resource through new network assets.

Co-location potential: The technical capacity of existing wind farms to accommodate co-located solar farms is estimated at over 1 GW. Growth in renewables driven by the Renewable Energy Target is expected to open up technical capacity for an additional 1.5 GW of solar PV to be co-located at new wind farms built by 2020. However, the relative financial competitiveness of these opportunities (combined with relevant policy) may limit the uptake of the full technical potential of co-location.

Firming effect: Given the intermittent nature of renewable technologies, pairing resources in regions dominated by one particularly technology will likely have a “firming” effect. This reduction in the overall facility’s degree of intermittency results in an improved capacity factor at the connection point and can mitigate associated network constraints in regions dominated by a single generation type.


ARENA: Solar and wind co-location can deliver significant cost savings–solar-and-wind-co-location-can-deliver-significant-cost-savings-_100023809/#axzz43rWPStli 21. MARCH 2016 SOPHIE VORRATH

A total of at least 1GW of large-scale solar could be added to existing Australian wind farms, boosting renewable energy development, generation, and and smoothing its delivery to the grid, according to a new report from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Based on data from 10 existing wind farms around Australia, the report – released on Monday and previewed last Thursday at the Wind Wind Industry Forum in Melbourne – found that major savings could be achieved for developers using co-location, particularly in the grid connection infrastructure. Continue reading

March 25, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, solar, wind | Leave a comment

Valdis Dunis – a caution on #NuclearCommissionSAust’s enthusiasm for nuclear waste importing

Valdis Dunis comments on important aspects of #NuclearCommissionSAust’s enthusiasm for importing nuclear wastes and storing them in South Australia – on soil behaviour, seismic risks, poor history of waste disposal world-wide, delays and cost overruns, and problems of financing and insurance.

“Limited Financing and Insurance Sources for Nuclear Projects: As nuclear programs in Europe, Japan, China and USA have shown, commercial banks usually decline funding nuclear programs due to the risk factors of repeated technical problems, delays and construction and maintenance cost rises seen in many projects involving nuclear fuel. Funding thus falls to government, government-linked banks and the companies building the projects themselves (such as EDF in China and Europe). This limits who funds can be sourced from.

Similarly, commercial insurance companies do not insure nuclear installations, with the risk falling on governments”

submission good


Valdis Dunis’ Response on NFCRC’s Tentative Findings, 17 Mar 16  “………My comments below apply to the one area where your initial findings found that our state has a chance to have a significant profitable business, namely storage of high-level nuclear waste from other countries. Continue reading

March 25, 2016 Posted by | Submissions to Royal Commission S.A. | Leave a comment

South Australian voters will not be taken in by nuclear lobby spin

if South Australia will commit to taking international nuclear waste, it will be easier to sell new nuclear programs to investors, and easier to renegotiate the debts of existing nuclear companies. The nuclear industry will make more sales and pay lower interest rates up front, if South Australia is willing to spend $145 billion and have nuclear waste stored in ‘temporary’ storage for the next hundred years

SA’s media and political elite think it’s a great idea. Fortunately, South Australia’s voters are not quite so easy to spin.

greed copyA Hundred Years Of Ineptitude And A Century Of Nuclear Spin B on March 24, 2016 The numbers around a nuclear waste economy don’t add up, writes Roderick Campbell. And then there’s the history….

The idea of a nuclear waste dump in South Australia is sold as a saviour for South Australia’s economy. SA’s former governor and Royal Commissioner Kevin Scarce has joined the chorus:

Financial assessments suggest that [a nuclear waste facility in SA]could generate total revenue of more than $257 billion, with total costs of $145 billion.

Wow, that means we’ll make over $100 billion! Break out the Banrock Station! Have a holiday in Hahndorf! Take trams to Mt Gambier!

But what if this was just a little too good to be true? What if the benefits of this proposal go not to ordinary South Australians, but to the big companies involved in the nuclear industry?

The Royal Commissioner’s numbers are based on a study by Jacobs MCM, a company:

With more than fifty years of experience across the complete nuclear asset lifecycle, we support client delivery and the associated infrastructure requirements at every stage of a project.

The SA Royal Commission unquestioningly repeating the findings of a consultant with a deep interest in the nuclear industry is just the latest in South Australia’s rich tradition of nuclear propaganda.

Guess what year this was written in the Adelaide Advertiser:

It must be seen by any moderate thinking person that the radium mining field of Olary [South Australia] must eventually become the greatest and richest mining centre of the globe, and the sooner news-nukethe Commonwealth Government awake to this fact the sooner will the positive prominence of Australia, be recognised by the nations of the world.

That was written in 1913. A century later, the ‘tizer is still glowing on about nukes:

BILLIONS of dollars from the nuclear industry could deliver free power to all South Australians and the abolition of state taxes, [SA Liberal Senator Sean Edwards] says.

Hardly anyone actually reads economic reports like the one Jacobs wrote, even commentators and ‘experts’ and probably not the Royal Commission. These reports are hundreds of pages long, full of impressive graphs, jargon and econobabble – they’re meant to be hard to read.

But if you can wade through the mud, you find gems/radioactive waste like this: Continue reading

March 25, 2016 Posted by | South Australia, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Terrorism’s next step – attacking a nuclear site?

Next Stop For ISIS: Nuclear Power Plant? Brussels Police Race Against Time, INQUSITR, Nancy Bailey,24 Mar 16  

Brussels terrorists were lining up plans to take over a nuclear power station, authorities said. During a December raid in the apartment of Mohammed Bakkali, a suspect in the ISIS terror cell, anti-terrorist police discovered 12 hours of video footage that revealed their next potential activity. Islamic State group members were watching the home of the research and development director of the Belgian Nuclear Program, tracking his movements and possibly planning a kidnapping, according to the Daily Mail.


Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui, the brothers who blew themselves up in Brussels attacks on Tuesday, were spying on the nuclear director. The footage was confusing at first, since it showed the entrance to the director’s home. It was documenting the activities of the top nuclear researcher and his family. But after watching the entire 12 hours, police determined that the group’s agenda was to get inside a nuclear plant.

Claude Moniquet, a French former intelligence official who was hired to investigate potential plots targeting Europe’s nuclear sector, told NBC News that the brothers had used a hidden camera to monitor the home.

Belgium has thus far refused to release the name of the director for security reasons and the protection of him and his family………

Armed troops have been dispatched to nuclear facilities in France and Belgium, and both countries are on high alert. All non essential staff have been sent home. ……..

March 25, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brussels bombing alerts the world to nuclear sites as targets for terrorism

Terror Cell Probe Puts Spotlight on Nuclear Concerns Belgium evacuated its nuclear Lucas H target
facilities after Brussels bombing; staffers returned to work under strict security  

BRUSSELS—The investigation into the Islamic State cell behind the Paris and Brussels attacks has renewed concerns about terrorists’ efforts to get their hands on radioactive material.


Belgium’s federal prosecutor said last month that police had discovered a 10-hour tape showing the home of a man working in Belgium’s “nuclear world” during a house search linked to the Paris attacks. The recording came from a surveillance camera installed in front of the man’s home, a spokesman for the prosecutor said at the time.

The same terrorist cell has been tied to Tuesday’s bloodshed at Brussels’ international airport and a subway station.

Authorities around the globe have long feared that terrorists could get nuclear material to build a “dirty bomb” or launch an attack on a nuclear power plant. ………Belgium is especially vulnerable as a target because of the high terrorism threat and the fact that its seven nuclear reactors are at least 30 years old, said Tom Sauer, a nuclear terrorism specialist at Belgium’s University of Antwerp…….

Germany and other countries bordering Belgium have raised concerns about general safety standards at Belgium’s nuclear plants and questioned a Belgian decision late last year to extend the lifetime of the country’s oldest reactors in Doel and Tihange to 2025 from 2015.

In 2014, 65,000 liters of lubricating oil spilled down an emergency evacuation pipe at Doel’s fourth reactor in just over 30 minutes, causing the reactor’s stoppage. FANC at the time said it had “strong evidence” that this had been caused by a “deliberate manual act.” The perpetrator hasn’t been apprehended………

A study by the U.S. organization Nuclear Threat Initiative in January showed Belgian nuclear plants aren’t protected against cyberattacks, receiving the lowest score in the survey along with China, Iran and North Korea…….. Write to Matthias Verbergt at and Gabriele Steinhauser at

March 25, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

France, (and everybody else) touting sales of nuclear submarines to Australia

France pitches nuclear submarine option Sky News, , Thursday, 24 March 2016 “………As part of its sales pitch, DCNS is touting a nuclear growth path.


‘If, in 2050, Australia wants a nuclear submarine, they can design a nuclear submarine,’ DCNS chief executive Herve Guillou told AAP this week in Cherbourg. The DCNS bid offers Australia the eventual capability to come up with our own submarine whether nuclear or conventionally powered. Deputy chief executive Marie-Pierre De Bailliencourt says the Shortfin Barracuda was conceived from a vessel designed to nuclear standards, especially safety. That’s all way down the track.

In the meantime DCNS has to convince the Australian competitive evaluation process panel its proposal is better than those of Germany or Japan. German firm TKMS is proposing its 4000-tonne Type 216, a new design based on its widely exported Type 214. The Japanese government is offering its 4200-tonne Soryu-class boat, manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation.

Of the three designs, only the Soryu actually exists and is in service with Japanese navy. However, it would still need substantial modifications to meet Australian requirements for range and endurance……….

This will be Australia’s biggest-ever defence procurement by a large distance, costing as much as $50 billion for acquisition and perhaps $150 billion through their life. Continue reading

March 25, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, marketing for nuclear, politics international | Leave a comment

Residential solar power is booming in America

text-relevantsolar-aghastThe Surprise New Boom Market for Residential Solar  Huffington Post, By Barbara Grady 24 Mar 16 As the price of solar powered electricity keeps falling and rooftop panels pop up in an increasing number of neighborhoods, an interesting thing is shaping up in the market.

Residential solar is no longer for just well-to-do homeowners. Indeed, the growth market in solar is median- and low-income neighborhoods in California and other locales, according to multiple recent reports.

In 2015, a full 65 percent of residential solar getting installed in California was in zip codes with median household incomes of $70,000 or less, while just 6 percent of installations in the state were happening in neighborhoods with median household incomes above $100,000, according to a report from Kevala Analytics.

A surge in solar adoption — as well as a shift in where that adoption is taking place — is driven by economics that make solar the money saving option for electricity rate payers and by policies that offer flexible ways for people to benefit from solar.

In California, Massachusetts, New York, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maryland and some other places, policies that extend the reach of solar to renters and residents without rooftops are widening the market for individual and community installations alike. Financing mechanisms prevalent in some markets but not in others have also made it possible for people to opt for solar without requiring they have money for big upfront costs.

Federal policies adopted in the last couple of years, such as Property Assessed Clean Energy loan funds, and National Community Solar programs have helped. …..

March 25, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Large anencephaly cluster next to US nuclear site

Cemetery full of dead babies missing brains next to US nuclear site — Funeral Director: Almost all infants we have died the same way… “that’s pretty much all I see on death certificates” — Few miles from “most contaminated place in hemisphere” — “One of largest documented anencephaly clusters in US history” (VIDEO)  March 23rd, 2016

Seattle Times, updated Jan 28, 2016 (emphasis added): How the state is missing chances to find deadly birth defect’s cause… at least 40 other mothers have lost babies to [anencephaly, which result in missing large parts of the brain] in Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties since 2010… one of the largest documented clusters of anencephaly in U.S. history… “Something’s going on and someone needs to tell us,” said [mother Sally] Garcia… Dr. Lisa Galbraith was one of the doctors… In Prosser, the obstetrician oversaw care of Garcia’s pregnancy and others affected by the disorder… “I had a total of four or five babies with anencephaly over the course of two years,” recalled Galbraith… the rate of anencephaly was much higher [than US averages]… Washington health officials… have collected no blood samples, performed no genetic tests and conducted no examination of water, soil… and have no plans to do so… In Texas, just three babies withanencephaly sparked enough outrage to overhaul the state’s birth-defects reporting system.

Seattle Times video transcript – Carlen Majnarich, funeral director: “It’s tragic… It just seems like that’s pretty much all I see on the death certificate is the same diagnosis. And nobody seems to know why. We average close to 100 families a year here in Prosser [a few miles from Hanford]. Almost all the infants that we have have died of anencephaly. It’s just what do you say?”… Sally Garcia (mother who lost her baby to anencephaly): “All these on this side [of the cemetery] are all babies… all babies, starting from right there.”

The Legal Examiner, Dec 31, 2015: [T]he strange eruption of anencephaly cases, which occurs in Washington at a rate almost 5 times as high as the national average, has highlighted a number of government policies that may actually conceal these sort of birth defect “clusters,” rather than help investigate them.

KVEW-TV, Mar 4, 2016: As of November 2015 cases of anencephaly have continued to increase with the current rate at 9.5 per 10,000 live births.

Sara Barron, MS, BSN – American Journal of Nursing, Mar 2016: In the spring of 2012 two babies without brains were born within weeks of each other at the rural hospital in Washington State where I was working… I was stunned when the delivering physician said another patient was expecting the same outcome. After speaking with colleagues at neighboring hospitals, I learned that two other babies with anencephaly had recently been born in the area. In over 30 years of nursing, I had seen only two cases of anencephaly prior to these. I called the Washington State Department of Health and reported a birth defect cluster… RISK FACTORS…Radiation exposure. Popular media and blogs have often linked the Washington State NTD cluster to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Benton County, Washington. Althoughleaks from nuclear power plants have been associated with a higher rate of anencephalyand other NTDs, Washington State Department of Health investigators point out that the three counties with the highest prevalence of NTDs were both upwind and upriver of the Hanford site, making the nuclear plant an unlikely cause of the 2012 cluster.

  • Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: “The Hanford Site… is widely considered to be the most contaminated place in the Western Hemisphere
  • KOIN: “The biggest, most toxic nuclear waste site in the Western hemisphere
  • Time: “The largest nuclear clean-up site in the western hemisphere
  • AFP: “The Western hemisphere’s most contaminated nuclear site“”

More infant deaths near Hanford: Cemetery blocks filled w/ babies downwind of US nuclear site — Mother: My newborns died in hours… tumors all over, brain disintegrated after massive stroke — “Body parts, cadavers, fetuses… nuke industry took in the dead of night”

Watch the Seattle Times video here

March 25, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chernobyl’s concrete tomb to block radiation for 100 years

Chernobyl-tomb-14$1.7B Giant Arch to Block Chernobyl Radiation For Next 100 Years by REUTERS, 24 Mar 16  In the middle of a vast exclusion zone in northern Ukraine, the world’s largest land-based moving structure has been built to prevent deadly radiation spewing from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site for the next 100 years.
On April 26, 1986, a botched test at the Soviet nuclear plant sent clouds of smouldering nuclear material across large swathes of Europe, forced over 50,000 people to evacuate and poisoned unknown numbers of workers involved in its clean-up.

A concrete sarcophagus was hastily built over the site of the stricken reactor to contain the worst of the radiation, but a more permanent solution has been in the works since late 2010.

Easily visible from miles away, the 30,000 tonne ‘New Safe Confinement’ arch will be pulled slowly over the site later this year to create a steel-clad casement to block radiation and allow the remains of the reactor to be dismantled safely……..

The EBRD has managed the funding of the arch, which has cost around 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) and involved donations from more than 40 governments. Even with the new structure, the surrounding zone, which at 1,000 square miles is roughly the size of Luxembourg, will remain largely uninhabitable and closed to unsanctioned visitors…….

The upcoming 30th anniversary of the disaster has shone a new light on the long-term human impact of the worst nuclear meltdown in history.

The official short-term death toll from the accident was 31 but many more people died of radiation-related illnesses such as cancer. The total death toll and long-term health effects remain a subject of intense debate.

On Wednesday, Ukrainians who were involved in the cleanup of Chernobyl – the so-called “liquidators” – protested in central Kiev to demand the government acknowledge their sacrifice with improved social benefits.

“Thirty years ago, when we were young, we were saving the whole earth from a nuclear explosion. And now no one needs us. Absolutely no one,” said one of the protesters, former liquidator Lidia Kerentseva.

March 25, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chernobyl nuclear disaster area to become a radioactive trash dump

Chernobyl 1986Area around Chernobyl plant to become a nuclear dump KYODO HTTP://WWW.JAPANTIMES.CO.JP/NEWS/2016/03/24/WORLD/AREA-AROUND-CHERNOBYL-PLANT-BECOME-NUCLEAR-DUMP/#.VVRVA9J97GH  KIEV – A heavily contaminated area within a 10-kilometer radius of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine will be used to store nuclear waste materials, the chief of a state agency managing the wider exclusion zone said in an interview.

“People cannot live in the land seriously contaminated for another 500 years, so we are planning to make it into an industrial complex,” said Vitalii Petruk, the head of the State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management. The zone is 30-km radius from the site of the 1986 nuclear accident — the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

“We are thinking of making land that is less contaminated a buffer zone to protect a residential area from radioactive materials,” he said.

Petruk said the agency does not plan to narrow down the exclusion zone because there is no privately owned land within the area and few people are wishing to return, unlike Fukushima, home to the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan.

The complex will be used to store and process nuclear waste including spent nuclear fuel sent from power plants in Ukraine, he said.

“We are considering building a facility for alternative energy such as solar panels” so as to utilize the remaining electricity infrastructure including power grids for the Chernobyl nuclear power plant there, he added.

Petruk said the agency also wants to invite foreign companies to the complex. “We will ensure the maximum safety” to help their activities in the complex, he said.

As for the future dismantlement of the Chernobyl plant, Petruk said his country has been in talks with France for some two years about possible cooperation and it also wants to consider talks with Japan.

March 25, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment