Australian news, and some related international items

Great solar energy potential for Queensland, but Australia’s Minister For Coal denies this

text-relevantmap-solar-QueenslandSunny Brisbane rooftops well placed to capitalise on solar power, experts say, ABC 6 Jan 17, PM  By Katherine Gregory  Brisbane has the potential to capitalise on solar power’s more competitive pricing, according to experts.

New research by the not-for-profit solar energy company Australian PV Institute and the University of New South Wales has revealed solar panels in Brisbane’s CBD could generate significant savings.

“We’ve done this stocktake of the solar potential of Brisbane’s CBD and from that we’ve worked out that Brisbane could install 188 megawatts of solar on the rooftops of the CBD and produce enough power to meet 11 per cent of demand of the CBD,” the Institute’s chair Renate Egan said.

“This could be done with upfront investment of about $200 million and would payback in electricity repayments $30 million a year.”

To conduct the stocktake the institute used its new Solar Potential Map, which calculates how much electricity can be generated from any particular roof in Brisbane’s CBD.

Ms Egan said it had found close to 50 per cent of roofs could have solar panels.

“We’ve started with Brisbane CBD because Brisbane and Queensland are really proactive around solar,” she said.

“Queensland has got the largest update of solar in Australia, with 1.6 gigawatts of solar installed in Brisbane [and] in Queensland, and they have a target of getting to three gigawatts by 2020.”

Ms Egan said the institute had also engaged with the Queensland Government about it providing the initial upfront investment to install the panels on government buildings such as Suncorp Stadium and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC).

“Anything that helps achieve our renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030 is being considered,” a spokesman for Queensland’s Energy Minister Mark Bailey said in a statement.

Canavan, Matt climate‘Like trying to develop an alpine skiing industry in Queensland’

But the Federal Minister for Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, said Queensland’s renewable energy target was mad.

“It’s like trying to develop an alpine skiing industry in Queensland, it’s about as realistic as that,” he said.

“We don’t have the same renewable resources as say South Australia.

“It would cost an enormous amount of money to build in Queensland and put at risk huge amounts of jobs, particularly in the power sector.

“You’ve got a Labor state government more interested in the philosophy and ideology of power rather than the practicality and reality of it and providing jobs and a decent cost of living for people.”……


January 7, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

USA’s Environmental Protection Agency now protecting uranium miners from cleaning up groundwater

antnuke-relevantDan Monceaux Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia, 6 Jan 17   The USA’s EPA has reduced the long-term monitoring requirements for operators of in-situ leach uranium mines (sometimes referred to as in-situ recovery uranium mines).

This is relevant to South Australia, as this state has several ISL/ISR uranium mines at Beverley, Four Mile & Honeymoon.

text-epa-nuclear-protectionUS delays cleanup rule at uranium mines amid GOP criticism
Federal GOP legislators from Wyoming have said a rule was an unnecessary burden for the uranium industry
NBC5 Jan 5, 2017 CHEYENNE, Wyo. —

Federal officials withdrew a requirement for companies to clean up groundwater at uranium mines across the U.S. and will reconsider a rule that congressional Republicans criticized as too harsh on industry.

The plan that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency put on hold Wednesday involves in-situ mining, in which water containing chemicals is used to dissolve uranium out of underground sandstone deposits. Water laden with uranium, a toxic element used for nuclear power and weapons, is then pumped to the surface. No digging or tunneling takes place.

The metal occurs in the rock naturally but the process contaminates groundwater with uranium in concentrations much higher than natural levels. Mining companies take several measures to prevent tainted water from seeping out of the immediate mining area…….

Along with setting new cleanup standards, the rule would have required companies to monitor their former in-situ mines potentially for decades. The requirement was set for implementation but now will be opened up for a six-month public comment period.

EPA officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Environmentalists and others say uranium-mining companies have yet to show they can fully clean up groundwater at a former in-situ mine. Clean groundwater should not be taken for granted, they say, especially in the arid and increasingly populated U.S. West.


“We are, of course, disappointed that this final rule didn’t make it to a final stage,” said Shannon Anderson with the Powder River Basin Resource Council. “It was designed to address a very real and pressing problem regarding water protection at uranium mines.”

The EPA rule is scheduled for further consideration in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

In-situ uranium mining surged on record prices that preceded the 2011 Japanese tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster. Prices lately have sunk to decade lows, prompting layoffs.

January 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Canada’s government introducing carbon pricing in all jurisdictions

antnuke-relevantGovernment of Canada releases carbon pricing plan by IDEA Industry News

ReNew Canada reports that The Government of Canada has proposed its pan-Canadian approach to pricing carbon pollution. Under the new plan, all Canadian jurisdictions will have carbon pricing in place by 2018. In order to accomplish this, Canada will set a benchmark for pricing carbon emissions—set at a level that will help Canada meet its greenhouse gas emission targets, while providing greater certainty and predictability to Canadian businesses.

Provinces and territories will have flexibility in deciding how they implement carbon pricing: they can put a direct price on carbon pollution or they can adopt a cap-and-trade system.

Pricing carbon pollution will give Canada an edge in building a clean-growth economy; it will make Canadian businesses more competitive; it will bring new and exciting job prospects for middle class Canadians; and it will reduce the pollution that threatens our clean air and oceans.

“Pricing pollution is one of the most efficient ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to stimulate innovation,” said Catherine McKenna, minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Already 80 percent of Canadians live in a province where there is pollution pricing. We want to continue this trend and cover the final 20 per cent.”

Pricing will be based on greenhouse gas emissions and applied to a common and broad set of sources to ensure effectiveness. The price on carbon pollution should start at a minimum of $10 per tonne in 2018 and rise by $10 a year to reach $50 per tonne in 2022. Revenues from carbon pricing will remain with provinces and territories of origin.

Provinces and territories will use the revenues from this system as they see fit, whether it is to give it back to consumers, to support their workers and their families, to help vulnerable groups and communities in the North, or to support businesses that innovate and create good jobs for the future.

The overall approach will be reviewed in 2022 to ensure that it is effective and to confirm future price increases. The review will account for actions by other countries.

January 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Problems of Westinghouse – the Final Nail in America’s Nuclear Power Industry Coffin?

nuclear-costs1The Final Nail?
JANUARY 6, 2017 When first introduced, electricity from nuclear power was to be too cheap to meter.

Then, while the first nuclear power plants were being built, extensive delays and modifications resulted in large cost overruns. The utilities incurred these cost overruns, as the contracts were mostly cost-plus, where the construction companies were reimbursed for their costs.

By the end of the last century, 100 nuclear power plants providing 20% of America’s electricity had been built, but the sentiment in the industry was that nuclear power was too costly.

The constant changes and delays while building the first 100 nuclear power plants were attributed to construction being done on site where it was difficult to control events and costs.

It was thought that costs could be controlled by building major components in a factory and then shipping them to the site for installation.

It was believed that a factory environment would allow for the use of manufacturing disciplines and quality control that would keep costs under control.

At the start of this century, there was support for a nuclear renaissance, where new nuclear power plants of a new and safer design could be built at a reasonable cost, with major components being built in a factory.

The Fukushima disaster raised the specter of radiation danger once again, but the new generation of nuclear power plants would shut down safely and automatically if there was a problem.

As construction was started at the four new nuclear power plants, two in Georgia and two in South Carolina, there was great confidence that this time it would be different: Costs would be controlled and the plants would be built on schedule.

With last week’s announcement that Toshiba would take a multi-billion dollar charge against operations due to cost overruns, quality control problems and delays at the four nuclear power plants being built in the United States, it is now clear that nuclear power may be dead … at least for the foreseeable future.

Westinghouse, the Toshiba subsidiary building these new nuclear power plants, has experienced many of the same problems that occurred in the last century.

Toshiba’s stock fell 30% with the announcement confirming the problems at Westinghouse, and of problems with the construction of other nuclear power plants being built in other countries.

Whereas the utilities incurred the overrun costs in the last century, this time the contracts were written so that the construction companies and supplier of reactors incurred most of these extra costs.

Nuclear power was already dying a slow death in the United States as there was considerable doubt whether existing nuclear power plants would receive a second extension to their operating licenses. See Nothing to Fear for a description of why nuclear power is dying in the United States.

The problems at Westinghouse probably preclude any construction company or supplier of reactors from entering into contracts where they would be liable for cost overruns, and it’s doubtful that any utility regulator would allow any utility to assume such liabilities in the future.

This may have been the final nail in the coffin for nuclear power in the United States.

January 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment