Australian news, and some related international items

Finkel Report recommends emissions trading, warns on Australian govt’s climate policy chaos

carbon-priceFinkel review criticises climate policy chaos and points to need for emissions trading Report warns investment in electricity has stalled, and existing policies won’t allow Australia to meet its Paris target, Guardian  , 8 Dec 16, Australia’s chief scientist, Alan Finkel, has said investment in the electricity sector has stalled because of “policy instability and uncertainty” – and he’s warned that current federal climate policy settings will not allow Australia to meet its emissions reduction targets under the Paris agreement.

In a 58-page report that has been circulated before Friday’s Council of Australian Governments meeting between the prime minister and the premiers, Finkel has also given implicit endorsement to an emissions intensity trading scheme for the electricity industry to help manage the transition to lower-emissions energy sources.

While there is no concrete recommendation to that effect, the report, obtained by Guardian Australia, references the evidence from energy regulators that such a scheme would integrate best “with the electricity market’s pricing and risk management framework” and “had the lowest economic costs and the lowest impact on electricity prices”.

Finkel also notes advice from the Climate Change Authority which says market mechanisms have the lowest average cost of abatement, and of the options modelled, an emissions intensity scheme “had the lowest impact on average residential electricity prices”.

The positive commentary from the chief scientist cuts directly across political arguments the Turnbull government has made since dumping its nascent attempt to use the review of the Direct Action policy to explore an intensity trading scheme for electricity – equating carbon pricing with higher power prices for consumers……… Continue reading

December 9, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Climate change exacerbates danger of nuclear war between India and Pakistan

climate-doomsdayKashmir, climate change, and nuclear war, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Zia Mian , 7 Dec 16 “……..The climate-water conflictAlong with the risks of war triggered by an escalation along the Line of Control in Kashmir or by attacks on Indian cities by Islamist militants backed by Pakistan, a new source of conflict between Pakistan and India has emerged, also centered on Kashmir. It is a struggle over access to and control over the water in the rivers that start as snow and glacial meltwater in the Himalayas and pass through Kashmir on their way to Pakistan as the Indus River Basin, ending in the Arabian Sea.

The Indus River and its tributaries are central to Pakistan’s water supply, food supply, and electricity production, and India relies on some of the same water. Under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, Pakistan has control over the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab Rivers, and India manages the Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi rivers until they cross into Pakistan and all merge into the Indus River. The treaty was established in part because of conflicts over water between the two countries following independence in 1947, including an Indian decision in 1948 to block some of the water flowing into Pakistan during the first India-Pakistan war over Kashmir.

As water demand in both countries has grown to meet the needs of rapidly growing populations and increased agriculture and industrial use, large hydroelectric dams have been constructed, and renewed disputes are testing the Indus Waters Treaty. A 2011 United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee report assessed that “water may prove to be a source of instability in South Asia [as] new demands for the use of the river flows from irrigation and hydroelectric power are fueling tensions between India and Pakistan. A breakdown in the [Indus Water] treaty’s utility in resolving water conflicts could have serious ramifications for regional stability.” The report concluded grimly that “the United States cannot expect this region to continue to avoid ‘water wars’ in perpetuity.”………

Pakistan’s government, nationalist and militant organizations, and right-wing media frequently now present India’s construction of dams in Kashmir as a pressing national security threat and one that may call for extreme responses. An editorial in one leading urdu-language Pakistani newspaper in 2011 declared “Pakistan should convey to India that a war is possible on the issue of water and this time war will be a nuclear one.” ………

December 9, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s electricity industry strongly calls for a carbon price, and switch to clean energy

Electricity industry pushes for carbon price to aid transition to clean energy system  By political reporter Naomi Woodley Australia’s electricity industry has issued a strongly worded plea to federal and state governments to quickly decide on ways to transform Australia’s ageing energy grid.

In a joint statement released ahead of tomorrow’s Council of Australian Governments meeting, the groups representing generators, distributors and retailers say a national, market-based carbon price is the best option to make the transition to a cleaner energy system.


The Australian Energy Council and Energy Networks Australia said without change, customers face higher prices and an increasingly unstable electricity supply. Continue reading

December 9, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, energy | Leave a comment

Australian Labor says No to Adani coal loan

Bill Shorten says no to Adani coal loan.. (subscribers only)

December 9, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

EnergyAustralia to invest $1.5 billion in new wind and solar projects

The electricity provider has committed to buying 500 megawatts of power from wind and solar plants, more than doubling the amount of energy it can source from renewables.

It said on Wednesday it had bought the output from a planned 42.6 megawatt solar farm at Manildra in central west NSW, which will be able to power 14,000 homes per year when completed in 2018.

Managing director Catherine Tanna said EnergyAustralia was looking to lead the development of cleaner energy even though it owns two of the biggest coal power stations in the country. “These are the projects which will come to underpin energy supply in Australia as coal-fired power plants are retired,” she said in a statement. EnergyAustralia plans to ink a 13-year agreement with the Manildra farm by the end of December.

The company already has the rights to more than 450 megawatts of electricity from wind farms in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.  EnergyAustralia’s pledge comes after Origin Energy inked a 15-year contract in March with the Moree Solar Farm in northern NSW, which can power 24,000 homes.

December 9, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

French prosecutors investigate suspected forgeries at Areva’s Le Creusot nuclear foundry

corruption textAREVA-Medusa1French court probes forged documents case at Areva nuclear foundry The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the suspected falsifying of documents at Areva’s Le Creusot foundry that manufactures parts for nuclear reactors, a judicial source said on Thursday.

The case, which alleges forgery, use of forged documents, endangerment of lives and aggravated deception, will be put in the hands of the police, the source said. French nuclear safety regulator ASN said in October that it had asked the courts to step in to investigate after nuclear group Areva sounded the alarm in May over documentation irregularities involving 6,000 nuclear component manufacturing files.

Thousands of such documents used in the French nuclear sector dating back to 1965 are being looked at

“We have not been informed (of the investigation) at this point,” a spokeswoman for Areva told Reuters, adding that the group would cooperate with the investigation and hand over all information at its disposal.

The discovery of weak spots in the reactor vessel of the EPR reactor under construction in Flamanville in 2014 led Areva to review manufacturing procedures at its Creusot steel forging plant.

ASN said in September that Areva had identified 87 irregularities related to reactors operated by state utility EDF, 20 concerning equipment for the Flamanville reactor, and one related to a steam generator for EDF’s 900 MW Gravelines 5 reactor on halt since April.

 Gravelines 5’s restart has been pushed back to June 2017 after an executive told parliament in October that something suspicious had been discovered.   (Reporting by Benjamin Mallet, Chine Labbé and Bate Felix; editing by Richard Balmforth/Mark Heinrich)

December 9, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sydney students pioneer a shared solar and battery system for apartment block

Stucco students install one of Australia’s first shared solar and battery systems for apartment block, 702 ABC Sydney ,By Amanda Hoh, 8 Dec 16, After 18 months of “bureaucracy” and jumping through regulatory hoops, the students of Sydney’s Stucco apartments have finally achieved their goal of spearheading a “solar revolution”.

The social housing apartment block in Newtown has become one of the first multi-dwelling buildings in Australia to install a shared solar and battery storage system.

Last week 30 kilowatts of solar panels were placed on the roofs and 36 batteries set up in the building totalling 42.3kW storage capacity. The solar system will now provide 80 per cent of the residents’ energy needs, with the remainder of electricity drawn from the grid. Each student is expected to save up to $35 a month on their electricity bill. “As poor uni students, that difference in a bill makes a huge difference,” Sarah King, Stucco committee president, resident and social work student, said.

“There’s also the great feeling of using green clean energy as opposed to dirty coal.


“As a cooperative, it’s quite empowering to have your own locally sourced power system, otherwise you’re quite vulnerable to what electricity companies are going to charge you. Stucco is a cooperative, not-for-profit housing complex for low-income students from Sydney University. There are 40 residents in the eight units who each pay about $90 in weekly rent. As a cooperative, the students self-manage the property, which is part-owned by the university and the Department of Housing.

How do students pay for solar?  A software system was put in place to manage and analyse the energy output from each unit, meaning the Stucco committee now acts as its own energy retailer and issues electricity bills to the residents. For the energy consumption that is provided by solar, the students are charged a maximum of 10 cents during off-peak times and up to 40 cents during peak use.

They are currently in pricing talks with various commercial energy retailers for when the building draws from the grid.

The cost of the project totalled $130,000, with the solar technology costing $97,000……..The students received an $80,000 grant from the City of Sydney.

The remainder of the cost was made up from 25 years’ worth of sinking funds and “grassroots community efforts” of voluntary contributions and pro-bono work……The solar and battery system is expected to take about six to seven years to pay for itself, although Mr Janse Van Rensburg said the long-term gain and savings far outweighed the cost of the system…..The students have started a crowdfunding campaignto help rebuild the administration and sinking funds.

Calls for more solar as household tariffs dumped There are 1.6 million solar systems installed across the country; mainly in free-standing owner-occupied homes and in lower to medium income suburbs.

According to Claire O’Rourke from community-based organisation Solar Citizens, Stucco is “a pioneering project”, particularly as it was conceived by a housing cooperative.

“We’ve had a lot of anecdotal reports from apartment owners who have tried to get this [a multi-apartment dwelling solar and battery system] in place but have failed,” Ms O’Rourke said……..

“The real opportunity is in cities where there are more apartments and renters…….

The Solar Bonus Scheme in New South Wales ends on December 31, which means solar households will no longer receive a feed-in tariff when they redirect energy back into the electricity network. Solar Citizens is lobbying the Government for a mandated minimum tariff to pay solar owners.”Going solar now is the best way to save for the long term, because solar panels will last 20 to 25 years, batteries will last for a decade,” Ms O’Rourke said.

“Landlords and renters everywhere should be inspired by this project [Stucco] and look at starting up similar projects that help them save money and spearhead that revolution we want to see.”

December 9, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, solar, storage | Leave a comment

New 116-turbine wind farm for the Wimmera, Victoria

WIND-FARMWind farm: 116-turbine farm gets tick of approval  KATH SULLIVAN, The Weekly Times December 7, 2016  ONE of Victoria’s most expensive wind farms will be built in the Wimmera, after the State Government approved its planning application.

The $650 million, 116-turbine farm at Murra Warra, north of Horsham, was approved by Planning Minister Richard Wynne after no objections were received.

“We are paving the way for more investment and jobs in the wind sector and it’s great to see Murra Warra come online and deliver a boost to the region,” Mr Wynne said.

Project operator RES said the farm would create more than 600 jobs during construction, 15 ongoing jobs and remove more than one million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year from Victoria’s energy sector.

It is expected to generate enough energy to power 252,000 homes. RES is working with 18 families, across more than 4250ha, who are expected to receive lease payments for the turbines.

RES also manages a 75-turbine wind farm under construction at Ararat.

December 9, 2016 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Not justified, not financially viable – Adani’s huge coal mine project

Adani’s mega mine neither financially viable nor justified, says energy analyst, ABC News,  By Casey Briggs, 8 Dec 16, Adani’s mega coal mine in north Queensland is neither “financially viable nor strategically required” an energy commentator claims.

coal CarmichaelMine2

The mining giant will begin construction on its $22 billion Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee basin in central Queensland next year.

This week, Adani announced the mine’s regional headquarters will be in Townsville, and the State Government is promoting an “ironclad” handshake deal with the company to source workers from regional Queensland.

Despite the announcements, energy analyst Tim Buckley from the anti-coal think tank The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said there is still doubt over whether the mine is even viable.

“All of my financial analysis over the last four years says the mine is neither financially viable nor strategically required or justified,” Mr Buckley said.

“Financial closure is going to be a major obstacle, I have absolutely no doubt.”

“As the company has admitted, they have not been talking to any financial institutions about this project”

Federal government should study India first

A number of Australian and international banks have reportedly ruled out financing the mine. Adani has also applied for public financing for a $1 billion rail link from the Commonwealth Government, but it’s unclear if the loan will be granted.

Mr Buckley said the Indian Government’s plans to reduce and potentially end coal imports threatens the justification for the project. “[The Australian Government should] go and study what’s happening in India … before they give a billion dollars in taxpayer subsidy to a foreign billionaire who made an investment decision at the height of the coal boom in 2011 and hasn’t progressed the project for six years,” said Mr Buckley.

At the Paris climate summit in November 2015 India’s prime minister Narendra Modi declared that in the 21st century “the world must turn to the sun to power the future”…….


December 9, 2016 Posted by | business, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Traditional landowners running legal challenges against Adani coal project

legal actionAdani faces more legal action as traditional owners vow to halt Carmichael coal mine Kathy McLeish, 7 Dec 16, Traditional owners are set to launch further legal action against Adani’s Carmichael coal mine slated for central Queensland.

The Wangan and Jagalingou people claimed the $22 billion project impinges on their native title rights, and would extinguish their interests over 28 square kilometres of land if it goes ahead.

Spokesman Adrian Burragubba said the group was running four separate legal challenges to the project, and vowed to continue fighting. Continue reading

December 9, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, Queensland | Leave a comment

Climate change making the work of insurers very difficult

Climate change threatens ability of insurers to manage risk Extreme weather is driving up uninsured losses and insurers must use investments to fund global warming resilience, says study, Guardian, , 7 Dec 1, The ability of the global insurance industry to manage society’s risks is being threatened by climate change, according to a new report. Continue reading

December 9, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment