Australian news, and some related international items

Kauai Shows Solar + Storage is Starting to Become Cost Competitive With Fossil Fuels, Nuclear


It wasn’t too long ago that the cost of an average solar energy power plant was above 10 cents per kilowatt hour and the world was raving at the low prices for Middle East solar generation in the range of 6 cents per kilowatt hour. At that time, to the shock, awe, and dismay of many, solar began to become earnestly competitive with traditional power plants based on price of energy alone.

Base Wind + Solar Now Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels, Nuclear

But it’s amazing what a difference just two years can make. Now solar prices have fallen into a range of around 4-6 cents per kilowatt hour with the least expensive solar plants now hitting as low as 2-3 cents per kilowatt hour. These prices are now far less than diesel and nuclear based generation (in many cases 1/2 to 1/4 the price of these systems) and today…

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January 20, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The threat to species from climate change should provoke shame in our hearts

GarryRogers Nature Conservation

GR:  More about Australian wildlife decline due to climate change.

Climate change from unprecedented carbon emissions not only threaten the habitats of our unique animals and birds, but also challenges the very ability of them to survive.’ Photograph: Steve Bloom Images / Alamy

“While Australia bakes through another hot, angry summer, its precious wildlife is increasingly under threat, not just from the extreme weather of fires and floods but by the growing reality of a changing climate.

“It is getting hotter. Day by day, month by month, year by year – 2016 is confirmed as the hottest year on record globally, closely following the leads of 2015 and 2014 – and with summer in full swing in Australia we turn our minds and our national concerns to bushfires, ever more intense, and to extreme weather events, flash flooding, cyclonic winds, unexpected parching and flooding of our wide brown land.

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January 20, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Utility scale investment marks the surge in wind and solar power in Australia

solar-panels-and-moneyWind, solar investment surge “the start of bigger text-relevantthings to come” REneweconomy By  on 18 January 2017 The strong growth in large scale renewable project financing in Australia in 2016 could be just the beginning of a major wave of investment.

This is the prognosis of Bloomberg New Energy Finance associate Leonard Quong, who adds that if key policy settings remain in place the $2.5 billion in annual large scale project investment required for Australia to meet its Renewable Energy Target could be achieved through to 2020.

“We have seen a new sense of momentum and energy in the market,” Quong told RenewEconomy, speaking of the latter stages of 2016. “If some of the fundamentals looking forward are to be believed, this is the start of bigger things to come.”

Quong explains that the stage is set for a large number of utility scale wind and solar PV projects to attract financing and get off the ground in 2017.

This is due in a large part to the “paralysis” the large scale renewable market experienced in 2014 and 2015, itself brought on by the Abbott Government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) review. This paralysis is the primary cause of the large scale generation certificates (LGCs) shortfall likely to eventuate in 2018.

The BNEF analyst notes that the RET reduction agreed to by the major political parties, a position advocated by the Clean Energy Council aimed at breaking the paralyzing deadlock, laid the groundwork behind the recent growth in project financing.

The significant factor being that as it was achieved in a bipartisan fashion, investors gained confidence that the policy will be in place over the mid-to- long term.

As to whether Australia can achieve the reduced RET, Quong is quietly optimistic…….

A major trend set to emerge strongly in 2017, according to BNEF analysis, is the rise of utility scale solar. While wind project investments far exceeded utility scale solar in Australia in 2016, rapid price declines and solar PV’s inherent advantages in terms of project execution should see large scale solar take off.

“Given the shortfall in certificates now expected to happen in 2018, it gives quite an incentive for investors to look at solar,” says Quong. “With the shorter build times, potentially shorter development times, and with certificate prices now above $80/MWh, it certainly makes it quite attractive.”  ……

January 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, energy | Leave a comment

Renewables tide will leave Trump and Turnbull behind

text-relevantNeither Trump nor Turnbull can turn back the tide on renewables, Guardian, Blair renewable-energy-world-SmPalese, 18 Jan 17  The argument for renewable energy is now a purely economic one – and the move away from coal will only pick up speed The inauguration of President Trump this Saturday (Australian time) marks a radical change in the world as we know it. It ushers in the beginning of four years where progressive issues as far reaching as race equality, women’s health, nuclear and foreign policy, and of course climate change will be under sustained attack.

Less than a year after the world agreed a historic climate pact in Paris, the US – the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas polluter – elected a man who wants to revive the glory days of coal, oil and gas.

To less fanfare here at home, the Turnbull government is pursuing a similar trajectory. Ploughing through the headwinds is our resources minister, Matt Canavan, who is seeking a $100bn investment in coal and is the biggest campaigner for a new mega-coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee basin run by the Indian company Adani.

The truth is that try as they might, neither Trump nor the Australian government can turn the tide on renewable energy, nor resuscitate an ailing coal industry with a clear expiration date. This is not a moral or political case, but a purely economical one.

This is why I remain quietly optimistic about the continued global transition away from fossil fuels despite the hostile political climate.

Renewable energy is rapidly becoming the cheapest and easiest way of producing energy in countries around the world. Investors everywhere are watching these changes and the market is responding rapidly.

China has recently announced that it will invest US$361bn into renewable energy over the next four years, creating 13m jobs in the process. This is as much as the entire globe spent on renewables over the past four years. This makes good financial sense as well, since the cost of building large-scale solar has decreased by about 40% since 2010, making it cheaper than coal…….

While the Turnbull government’s bungling of federal energy policy is stifling some of the potential for clean energy developments, many Australian business leaders are steaming ahead regardless.

Australia is the best country on the planet for solar energy and the former BHP executive Phil Galloway is looking to capitalise on that.

He has plans to roll out 220,000 solar panels across the empty space on an almond farm in regional Victoria, generating enough electricity to power about 30,000 homes. Inspired by the model adopted in the US by companies such as Google and Apple, Galloway would look to negotiate power-supply agreements directly with large local companies rather than energy retailers.

This is just the sort of project that is not only becoming more viable but, with a bit of clever government incentivisation, could transform Australia’s energy future and create a clean energy transformation that would create countless new, sustainable jobs across the country.

A similar project is under way in the sleepy Victorian town of Yackandandah. Residents there have come together under the banner of 100% renewable energy and energy sovereignty to pursue a transformation of their own.

Working with AusNet, which runs the Victorian grid, the town will trial new storage technology along with setting up a renewable energy farm to power it, with profits from the energy generated being ploughed back into their community. This is one of dozens of community renewable energy projects that are quietly driving Australia away from polluting energy.

Likewise, in the northern rivers region of New South Wales, a community-owned energy company is seeking to offer a clean alternative to the dirty energy produced by Australia’s big three energy retailers: AGL, Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia.

Our governments may now be held hostage by visionless representatives more determined on prosecuting their narrow ideological agenda than helping Australia find solutions to its most pressing issues but, elsewhere, leaders in other fields are transforming the way we generate, share and manage our energy needs and addressing climate change.Enova Energy is making inroads not only to kickstart renewable energy but also to empower energy consumers. Headed by former executive heavyweights disillusioned by the government’s inaction on renewables, including Alison Crook, a former Monash University deputy chancellor and Qantas businesswoman of the year, Enova’s mission is to offer the country’s highest feed-in tariffs and lowest GreenPower price while working with social welfare groups to tackle energy poverty in the region.

Bellicose political rhetoric can’t hide the economic fact: renewable energy is the future. My advice for Donald Trump and Malcolm Turnbull is this: find an economic reason to justify being part of the clean energy revolution to the deniers around you or watch as investors, businesses and communities steamroll right over you.

January 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Potential of Queensland solar farm- to make this State the energy capital of Australia

text-relevantProject heralds ’energy capital of Australia’
ONE of Australia’s largest solar farms, with the potential to create 400 local construction jobs, has been approved by a regional Queensland council……. (subscribers only)

January 20, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The nuclear lobby’s spurious argument about the dangers of solar power

abbott-derekDerek Abbott No High Level International Nuclear Waste Dump in South Australia  Thought for the day: Nuke lobbyists love to state that more people die falling off roofs whist tinkering with their solar panels that people have died from nuclear power stations.

If we take the USA, for example, there are about 1 million (in 2016) domestic rooftops with panels. And yes, unqualified people do silly things on roofs when they shouldn’t be there.

By contrast there are about 60 commercial nuke power plants in the USA run under a strict set of guidelines. The waste from those plants is kept indefinitely above ground in dry casks that corrode and have a lifetime of ~50yrs. So when it comes time to start handling those dry casks and repackaging that fuel, on ever increasingly tight budgets, there is going to be a major safety problem.

The alpha particles emitted from the spent fuel in the casks create helium bubbles inside the fuel pellets. The fuel pellets crack. So repackaging the fuel is not simple, given one is dealing with fragments, dust, and particulate matter. This will lead to enormous escalating costs that have not been budgeted by governments. Repackaging runs into many tens of billions of dollars.

The dangers of falling off roofs are immediate, whereas the dangers of spent fuel management have been deferred into the future with dry cask storage that has not yet been taken to the next step. So the qualification of the danger of nuclear has not yet seen full practice.

Question to nuke advocates: given the choice would you ride a horse or a stroke a venomous spider? The statistics are zero deaths per year due to spiders, but 70-80 horse per year by horses. The facts are the raw statistics are not the whole story. Would you prefer to live in a world proliferated with horses, or would you prefer a proliferation of venomous spiders?

January 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, safety | Leave a comment

Aboriginal Traditional Owners speak out against Yeelirrie uranium mining approval

 logo WANFA
17 Jan 17  
The West Australia Nuclear Free Alliance and Traditional Owners of the Yeelirrie area have spoken out against the Environment Minister decision to approve the Yeelirrie uranium mine.

Kado Muir, Chairperson of the West Australia Nuclear Free Alliance said, “I’m disappointed, but it’s not over, we’ll keep fighting against the Yeelirrie uranium mine proposal. The project doesn’t add up and the risks for the environment as well cultural heritage are far too great.”

“The Ministers decision to make many species extinct against the advice of experts and the EPA shows how little our environmental laws mean to this Government.”

Richard Evan Koara Elder said “Cameco and the Government have no respect for our heritage or for life.”

“The Minister who gave approval to mine Yeelirrie, he does not own the land. He does not have the right to destroy our cultural heritage or the subterranean fauna. He’s supposed to protect the environment not approve its destruction.”

“This is our sovereign land and we do not want Cameco to mine here. We’ve fought against this mine for 40 years, our old people said not to touch that area, we have to listen to them. We will continue to say no to Yeelirrie. We will keep fighting, our country is too important.”

January 20, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Ben Heard and Barry Brook spruik for nuclear reprocessing at Port Augusta

These two nuclear spruikers have been at it for decades – promoting the nuclear industry under the cover of pretending to be environmentalists.

logo-bright-new-worldNow they’re at least ‘coming out’ about being nuclear lobbyists.   It is surprising that  the Australian National University is publishing  (in the Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies journal)  their claims about recycling nuclear waste as a multi $billion windfall for South Australia. They even claim that nuclear waste reprocessing for South Australia would have ‘significant environmental benefits’!

Ben Heard enthuses that South Australia can ‘commercialise leading technology’ Ben Heard worked on this with former Liberal Senator Sean Edwards.

They’re trying to make a mark on the international scene with their new project “Bright New [Nuclear] World”.   But this is their new project’s first foray into the Australian scene.


January 20, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Liberal hopeful Sean Edwards at odds with South Australian Liberals over nuclear policy

Liberal-nuclear-glowNuclear differences between Liberal hopeful Sean Edwards and state party noted, but not an issue ABC News 16 Jan 17  Nuclear power advocate and former Liberal senator Sean Edwards’ possible move into South Australian politics has not created a rift, the state party’s leader Steven Marshall has said. Mr Edwards lost his seat at last year’s federal election after being moved down the Liberal Party’s Senate ticket.

He signalled last week he would meet with party officials about possibly nominating for preselection for the next state election in March 2018 in the regional seat of Frome.

Mr Marshall told ABC Adelaide Mr Edwards was a “good friend” and had made a “great contribution to the people of South Australia in the Federal Parliament”.

“In recent years of course, he has been a strong advocate for nuclear energy here in Australia, more particularly here in South Australia,” Mr Marshall said.

“[His opinion] it differs from the parliamentary party. He’s mainly an advocate for nuclear energy. He sees it as clean and affordable.”

Mr Marshall also said the party had considered the Government’s proposal for a nuclear waste dump and decided it was too great of a risk.

“We believe the economic risk was too to high, we have a much greater ambitions for South Australia than becoming a nuclear waste dump.”

Mr Marshall said there was “no rift” between him and Mr Edwards and the difference of opinion was encouraged in partyroom debate……..

January 20, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Nuclear financial crisis causes Toshiba’s shares to crash

money-down-holeToshiba shares crash as nuclear writedown crisis deepens Shares in Toshiba have dived 16% on reports that the embattled Japanese conglomerate faces bigger losses at its US nuclear power business. BBC News 19 Jan 17 

It is feared Toshiba may have to write down the value of the unit by a larger-than-expected 700bn yen ($6.1bn; £5bn).

There are unconfirmed reports Toshiba is seeking aid from the government-backed Development Bank of Japan (DBJ).

Toshiba said the exact writedown figure was not finalised, and declined to comment on any DBJ approach.

The laptops-to-hydro power giant was plunged into crisis late last year when it emerged it faced huge cost overruns on projects handled by a newly-bought company that builds US nuclear power plants. ……. on 27 December Toshiba admitted that it faced writedowns of “several billion dollars”. The company later indicated that the size of the writedowns would be between $1bn and $4.5bn.

Toshiba’s nuclear services business brings in about one-third of the industrial giant’s revenue.

The share price, down 26% at one stage on Thursday, is now 50% lower than when the writedown revelations emerged amid fears that the company still has no firm grip on the final costs………

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s confused thoughts about nuclear weapons

Donald Trump’s very confusing thoughts on nuclear weapons, explained

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Melbourne trams to be powered by solar energy by end of 2018

text-relevantMelbourne tram network to use solar energy by end of 2018, Government says A new solar energy plant to be built in regional Victoria will run Melbourne’s entire tram network by the end of 2018, the State Government has said.

The Government said it would run a tender to build 75 megawatts of new solar farms — most likely in the state’s north-west — by the end of next year.

About half of the energy produced by the farms will offset the amount of electricity needed to run 401 trams on Melbourne’s network.

Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the plan was a world first.

“The world is moving to clean energy, we made a commitment as a Government, we continue to uphold that commitment to grow renewable energy,” she said.

“The world is moving to clean energy, we made a commitment as a Government, we continue to uphold that commitment to grow renewable energy,” she said.

But Ms D’Ambrosio would not say how much extra the solar energy would cost.

“We won’t be disclosing that figure,” she said.

“We know that [the] cost of solar plant is coming down every single day and we know that we will drive a very competitive process.”

The Government said the project would create 300 new jobs.

It last year approved a $650-million wind farm near Dundonnell, in south-west Victoria, the state’s largest.

January 20, 2017 Posted by | solar, Victoria | Leave a comment


State and national environment groups condemn yesterday’s decision by the Environment Minister to approve the Yeelirrie uranium mine, which the EPA recommended be rejected in August 2016.

Conservation Council of WA Director Piers Verstegen said, “The approval goes against the advice of the EPA, against the wishes of the local community, and against the economic reality that this project is not feasible.

“This decision sets a shocking new precedent for WA environmental law – a decision which clearly and knowingly breaches one of the core objectives of the Environmental Protection Act, the Precautionary Principle. This decision allows the extinction of multiple unique wildlife species which exist nowhere else on Earth, which raises some serious legal questions.

“The EPA has made it clear that this project threatens the extinction of unique wildlife. If the Minister allows wildlife of any sort to become extinct for the sake of an unwanted and uneconomic uranium mine, then all of our wildlife is at risk everywhere.

“Minister Jacob and the Barnett Government has long held an ideological position that uranium should be mined – against the wishes of the community, against market reality, and now against the recommendations of the State’s independent environment umpire and the future of unique species.

“In the last few months, the decision to go ahead with the Roe 8 project in known breach of environmental policy, and now to reject EPA advice for the sake of an unviable uranium mine, demonstrates that the Government is willing to put their ideology ahead of their responsibility to protect the environment, and ahead of public interest.”

CCWA Nuclear Free Campaigner Mia Pepper said, “Despite the Minister’s recent rush to see uranium mined in WA, and after two terms of a pro-uranium Government, not one of the WA uranium proposals will have final approvals granted before the State election in March – and none will be economically viable.

“This project and the Minister’s approval will continue to be strongly contested by state and national conservation groups and the local community, and will continue to struggle to attract investors.”

January 20, 2017 Posted by | environment, politics, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Australian Resources Minister Matt Canavan’s fantasy about “low emission” coal

Canavan, Matt climateNo Minister, Australia doesn’t need last century’s expensive, outdated energy By  on 17 January 2017Resources Minister Matt Canavan’s suggestion that Australia could meet its climate targets by replacing ageing power stations with emerging ‘low emission’ coal-fired technology is an unrealistic fantasy that would cost billions and set back genuine efforts to tackle global warming, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

The Australian reports today that research commissioned by Senator Canavan ­estimates Australia’s climate pollution could be cut by ‘up to 27 per cent’ if the country’s coal-based power stations ran on ‘ultra-super-critical’ coal technology.

There is not a single so-called ultra-super-critical coal fired power station in Australia. The vast majority of Australia’s coal fired power stations use old sub-critical technology and most are well past their use-by dates, being more than 30 years old, on average.

Senator Canavan is proposing that Australia builds a whole new fleet of coal-fired power stations at unknown cost (likely to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars) at a time when the rest of the world is moving away from coal fired power.

It is hard to imagine a company that would be prepared to build these huge white elephants, just waiting to become stranded assets.

French company Engie has pulled out of Hazelwood and two of Australia’s biggest electricity generators, AGL and Origin, have set timetables for the exit of their coal fired power stations and have been clear they won’t be making any more investments in coal.

Even if finance for these fantasy plants was found, the costs would never be recouped over the lifetime of the assets, considering Australia’s Paris climate commitments. 

In contrast, investments in new renewable energy, which has zero fuel cost, will still be useful and productive in decades to come.

Research released by ACF in December shows strong clean energy policies would generate an additional 90,700 jobs across Queensland by 2030.

If Senator Canavan cares about jobs and a healthy future he would stop spruiking last century’s dirty energy and start securingthe tens of thousands of new jobs that flow from strong clean energy policies.

Matthew Rose is an economist with the Australian Conservation Foundation.

January 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Solar Employs More Workers Than Coal, Oil and Natural Gas Combined

antnuke-relevantFlag-USA Lorraine Chow Jan. 17, 2017 U.S. solar employs more workers than any other energy industry, including coal, oil and natural gas combined, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s second annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

6.4 million Americans now work in the traditional energy and the energy efficiency sector, which added more than 300,000 net new jobs in 2016, or 14 percent of the nation’s job growth.

“This report verifies the dynamic role that our energy technologies and infrastructure play in a 21st century economy,” said DOE Senior Advisor on Industrial and Economic Policy David Foster. “Whether producing natural gas or solar power at increasingly lower prices or reducing our consumption of energy through smart grids and fuel efficient vehicles, energy innovation is proving itself as the important driver of economic growth in America, producing 14 percent of the new jobs in 2016.”

The solar industry is particularly shining bright.

“Proportionally, solar employment accounts for the largest share of workers in the Electric Power Generation sector,” the report, released on Jan. 13, states. “This is largely due to the construction related to the significant buildout of new solar generation capacity.” Overall, the U.S. solar workforce increased 25 percent in 2016.

According to the report, solar—both photovoltaic and concentrated—employed almost 374,000 workers in 2016, or 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation workforce. This is followed by fossil fuels, which accounts for 22 percent of total Electric Power Generation employment, or 187,117 workers across coal, oil and natural gas generation technologies.

Wind generation is seeing growth in employment with a 32 percent increase since 2015. The wind industry provides the third largest share of Electric Power Generation employment with 102,000 workers at wind firms across the nation.

The reason behind this growth in the solar sector is due to the high capacity additions in both distributed and utility-scale photovoltaic solar, the report said. In fact, construction and installation projects represented the largest share of solar jobs, with almost four in ten workers doing this kind of work, followed by workers in solar wholesale trade, manufacturing and professional services.

In a sign of promise for the booming industry, solar employers reported that they expect to increase employment by 7 percent this year.

Solar is becoming the cheapest form of electricity production in the world, according to statistics from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Last year was the first time that the renewable energy technology out-performed fossil fuels on a large scale.

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment