Australian news, and some related international items

Germany’s practical negotiations with its closing nuclear industry companies

antnuke-relevant“The stickers with the picture of the sun laughing became a symbol for a successful energy policy,” Gabriel said, promising that Germany would safely dispose of nuclear waste rather than simply exporting it to other parts of the world

Bundestag approves nuclear waste deal with industry, DW, 15 Dec 16 An overwhelming majority in Germany’s parliament has given the go-ahead for a reponsibility-splitting deal to clean up nuclear waste. It’s the final chapter in a decades-long story. The deal will require four of Germany’s largest energy providers to pay more than 23 billion euros ($24.1 billion) into a state-administered fund to deal with the aftermath of nuclear power in return for legal immunity. The deal was passed with the votes of the ruling coalition of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Green Party by a margin of 581 to 58.

The agreement is the latest step in Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear energy, which was made after the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Addressing the Bundestag before the vote, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel harkened back to the beginnings of the “no-nukes” movement among private citizens in Denmark, Germany and other parts of Europe in the mid-1970s.

“The stickers with the picture of the sun laughing became a symbol for a successful energy policy,” Gabriel said, promising that Germany would safely dispose of nuclear waste rather than simply exporting it to other parts of the world……..

Under the terms of the deal, power companies will only bear part of the costs of the clean-up. The German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin (DIW) estimates that the bill for the decades-long nuclear phase-out could reach 170 billion euros ($178 billion).

“The actual costs will be a lot more than the estimates,” DIW Energy Division Director Claudia Kemfert told Deutsche Welle in October, when the details of the arrangement were hammered out. “So the deal only covers a fraction of the actual costs, and society will have to pick up the rest.”

Kemfert said that the power companies had gotten a “free pass,” a sentiment echoed in parliament by the Left Party, which voted against the deal.

“The companies are being released from responsibility with a golden handshake,” said Left Party energy spokeswoman Eva Bulling-Schröter.”The costs are going to go up.”

The issue of lawsuits filed by energy companies against the German government’s nuclear phase-out has yet to be fully resolved. The government will now begin negotiations aimed at ending the various legal actions in return for the clean-up compromise.

December 16, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

PM adds to renewable power anxiety 

Peter Boyer: Talking Point:
December 13, 2016. Feds take two steps backwards by ruling out carbon price…..(subscribers only)

December 16, 2016 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

A month ahead of schedule, Queensland’s huge new solar farm is up and running

solar _photovoltaic_cells-wideQueensland’s largest solar farm plugs into the grid a month early The 20 megawatt plant in Barcaldine is one of first in the country to be funded by Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Guardian, , 14 Dec 16, Queensland’s largest operating solar farm has plugged into the national electricity grid and is set to generate enough power for almost 10,000 households by the end of 2016.

The Barcaldine remote community solar farm, in the state’s central west outback, connected to the national electricity market on Wednesday, more than a month ahead of schedule.

The early delivery of the 20 megawatt plant, one of the first in the country to be funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, was evidence of the growing speed and proficiency of big solar developers, said Arena’s chief executive, Ivor Frischknecht.

It is to be followed by a dozen new large-scale solar farms to be built across Australia by the end of 2017, which would ramp up national solar capacity to enough power for 150,000 average homes.

Those plants – six in Queensland, five in New South Wales and one in Western Australia – would be the fruits of an Arena funding program expected to “unlock almost $1bn in commercial investment and boost regional economies”, Frischknecht said.

The Barcaldine plant developer, Elecnor – one of a number of Spanish companies invested in Australian solar – is a transnational corporation with interests from gas and rail to aerospace. Elecnor was backed by $22.8m in funding commitments by Arena and $20m in loans from the federal government’s “green bank”, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Barcaldine’s mayor, Rob Chandler said the project, which features 78,000 solar panels, had “enthusiastic supporters” in a local community that saw “the great benefits it can bring to outback communities like ours”.

“If it’s one thing we have a lot of it’s sun so it’s great to see it being harnessed to power the electricity grid.”

Frischknecht said: “As well as generating clean energy, the project is demonstrating how project developers can monetise network benefits and ultimately how solar farms can improve network efficiency and reliability at the edge of the grid.”……

December 16, 2016 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

Treaty discussions between Aboriginal nations and South Australian government

text TreatySouth Australian Government enters  historic discussions with Aboriginal nations  The World Today By Caroline Winter

“South Australia is making history, with the State Government entering treaty discussions with Aboriginal nations to help address past injustices.

“The Government has set aside $4.4 million over five years to support the treaty process and the appointment of an independent commissioner for treaty.

“At this stage it is unclear what the treaties will cover or whether compensation will be included,
but South Australian Indigenous leaders said the process would set a positive course for the future. … ”

SA set for Indigenous treaty talks 
‘South Australia could have up to 40 treaties after
an announcement was made in Adelaide on Tuesday morning
.’  Madeline Hayman-Reber Source: NITV News 14 December 2016:

““Treaty is an important step towards addressing the wrongs of the past.
The fact that so many Aboriginal people to this day face such significant disadvantage remains the greatest stain on our society,” Mr Maher said. “This marks the first time that a state has committed to individualised treaties for Aboriginal communities, and comes off the back of yesterday’s announcement in Victoria of plans for a statewide treaty. … “

December 16, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, South Australia | 2 Comments

$5.2 Trillion divested away from fossil fuels

Fossil Fuel Divestments Now Represent $5.2 Trillion, Climate Central : December 12th, 2016 Investing heavy weights are moving their assets and funds out of fossil fuels at a record pace.

A network of local governments, pension funds, faith organizations, philanthropies and wealthy individuals representing $5.2 trillion in assets have committed to — and in some cases already started — divesting from fossil fuel companies, according to a report released on Monday. That’s a huge sum of money for a movement that started just four years ago on U.S. college campuses and its growth is likely to continue as the world strives to reach its climate goals.

“It’s pretty clear that the growth trajectory is enormous,” said Ellen Dorsey, the executive director of the Wallace Global Fund. In the past 15 months alone, the assets represented by the fossil fuel divestment movement have doubled. As of December 2016, there are 688 institutions and 58,400 individuals across 76 countries who are on board with divesting from fossil fuels, according to the report. The analysis was completed by Arabella Advisors, a philanthropy services firm.

Those divesting include Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, Germany-based financial services giant Allianz, and Amalgamated Bank, which in September became the first U.S bank to divest. Private businesses represent $4.6 trillion in assets being divested, nearly 90 percent of the overall total……

December 16, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment