Australian news, and some related international items

Victoria – a world leader in energy efficiency

New case study shows how the Australian state is supporting businesses on energy and materials efficiency  by Virginia Bagnoli 
24 January 2017 LONDON: The Climate Group has published a new case study, showing how the Australian state of Victoria is engaging small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to support them in improving energy and materials efficiency.

The new study demonstrates how SMEs can significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while substantially improving energy efficiency by applying sustainable resource management and energy efficient production processes.

The state of Victoria identified these gaps and designed a new program tailored to SMEs to help them change inefficient practices, save money and increase productivity through energy and materials efficiency measures.


SMEs have historically been difficult to reach and engage with on environmental programs due to company priorities and a traditional focus on shorter-term business requirements. Victoria understood that the program needed to align with fundamental business needs and provide multiple points of entry to make participation accessible.

Victoria’s program is also being viewed as particularly innovative due to its multi-faceted approach to addressing the challenges of information, understanding the business case and accessing capital. This approach was delivered by assessing and understanding the barriers for SMEs, communicating effectively to channel the multiple benefits associated with energy and materials savings, and leveraging existing policies and programs.

The program components targeted businesses at different stages of ‘readiness’ – ranging from businesses at an exploratory stage wanting to determine how they could benefit from energy and/or materials efficiency, through to businesses ready to implement specific projects.

Eligible businesses could apply for a grant to partly cover the cost of a materials efficiency or energy efficiency assessment. A competitive, merit‑based application process provided three rounds of grants of up to A$50,000 to support businesses in managing the costs of implementing materials efficiency projects. Grants of up to A$25,000 were available for energy efficiency projects (with businesses contributing at least half the cost of the project).


The program ran from 2012 to 2016 and since its launch it has achieved tangible results: three rounds of grants over the past two years have provided A$3.8 million in funding to over 140 projects and these businesses are expected to save a combined A$4.74 million a year.

Recruiting businesses to the program was the greatest challenge encountered. According to the Victorian government, SMEs typically have little time to devote to what is not seen as a strategic priority for them. The key solution to this has been to convince businesses that energy and materials efficiency will help with business-critical issues and to provide financial support in order to create efficiency change and transform business performance.

Through the program, Victoria has implemented an effective method of approaching businesses and making the program attractive to them; a considerable challenge giving that materials efficiency in particular is a new concept to most businesses and service providers.

Using what was learned from the program, Victoria also recently embarked on a new initiative for SMEs, SV Business – Boosting Productivity, which will work with an additional 1,000 SMEs.

Download the Victoria case study here and find all the Policy Innovation program case studies here.

The Climate Group supports state and regional governments in developing effective climate change and clean energy policies through its Policy Innovation program. State and regional governments around the world are developing a new generation of innovative climate and energy policies and our Policy Innovation program showcases and explores these emerging models, working closely with governments for them to scale globally.


January 25, 2017 Posted by | efficiency, Victoria | Leave a comment

A new, intelligent renewable energy culture for Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) ?

renewable-energy-picturetext-relevantAEMO hires New York energy reformer as new CEO, REneweconomy  By  on 23 January 2017  The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has hired Audrey Zibelman, one of the leading players in New York’s ground-breaking “Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV), as its new chief executive. The appointment of Zibelman  follows the death last year of her predecessor Matt Zema, and could signal the biggest ever shift in culture and technology of the AEMO, which is responsible for the operation of Australia’s main grids, but which has been criticised in some quarters for its slow response to renewable energy and other new technologies.

The Reform the Energy Vision plan, launched by New York in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, in which thousands of New York State residents were left without power for weeks, is considered to be the most ground-breaking and progressive in the world.

The REV seeks to increase energy security, through a range of measures including smart grid technology, battery storage and distributed generation strategically placed throughout its network.

The New York REV has been a difficult process given its scale and ambition and has drawn some criticism from some participants. However, it has also taken an innovative approach to strengthening electricity networks in light of the new energy paradigm of smart grids, economically competitive distributed generation and battery storage.

That Zibelman, who headed up the New York REV efforts, will assume leadership at AEMO, could have a significant impact on Australia’s urgently needed electricity market reforms, particularly in the light of the reports by the CSIRO and the energy networks, which mapped out a path to a cheaper and cleaner energy grid, and the work being done by chief scientist Alan Finkel, which has sought to address some of the myth-making about renewable energy created by fossil fuel industry and conservatives.

AEMO Chair Tony Marxsen said that Zibelman has the vision to guide the body and energy industry through the reform process, “as we transition our energy markets and reform power systems planning and management.”

“Audrey’s vast experience in creating and managing new wholesale electricity markets, and transforming existing energy markets and large power systems will further strengthen the work that AEMO has undertaken to support Australia’s energy industry transformation,” said Marxen in a statement.

Before chairing the New York State Public Service Commission (NYPSC), Zibelman founded and commercial energy software provider Viridity Energy, and was an executive on U.S. utility Xcel Energy.

Zibelman will be relocating to Melbourne, and take over as AEMO CEO own March……..

January 25, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Under Trump, Nuclear lobby to dump the argument about climate change

Under Trump, INL pivots its nuclear message Post Register  January 24, 2017 By LUKE RAMSETH   Idaho National Laboratory officials are considering how to shift their message under a Trump administration that has sent mixed signals on energy research and the existence of climate change.

When discussing the lab’s nuclear research capabilities, officials plan to focus more on themes such as energy security, nonproliferation and job creation — and less on climate change.


“We’re actively talking right now, and working to pivot our strategy to reflect the new administration’s priorities,” INL Director Mark Peters said in an interview earlier this month. Continue reading

January 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dishonest spin from ANSTO and government, about Spain’s nuclear waste program

liar-nuclear1Paul Waldon Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 25 Jan 17  The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and ANSTO have been using Spain’s nuclear waste program as a poster child of approbation.  Well it’s not.

Portugal has made complaints to authorities in Brussels, regarding Spain’s plans to construct a nuclear waste site near Tigris, close to their border which could cross into Portugal. Reports the Portuguese people had no say, and have NOT even been consulted, they are calling for the existing treaty to be upheld. Basel Convention states the contamination should be kept within the boundaries and close to the place of production to palliate any issues.

I have heard both dichotomies say “we should be responsible for the waste that we produce”, but we should not unnerve our neighbours or fellow man. Nuclear waste shows no boundaries!

January 25, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Solar power prices fell 25% in only 5 months

antnuke-relevantsolar-panels-and-moneyThe Cost of Solar Power Has Fallen 25% in Only 5 Months, Futurism, Dom Galeon, Oct 2016 It seems that we have truly entered a new era in energy production—in renewable energy production, that is. Over the past new months, the cost of solar power has plummeted, and it seems that things are going to stay this way. Indeed, “there’s no reason why the cost of solar will ever increase again,” former Masdar Clean Energy director Frank Wouters noted in a recent interview with Electrek.The cost of building solar plants has declined by 25 percent in just five months, according to two recent bids in China and Dubai.

The reduction in price follows a broader trend of solar affordability brought on by cheaper solar panels.

If governments and innovators continue to invest in these energy sources in the way that they have been, Wouters statements are easy to believe.

In just 5 months, prices have dropped some 25%. This development is shown in the recent, and staggeringly low, construction bids on solar projects in China ($0.46/W for 500MW of solar power) and Dubai ($0.023/kWh for 1.2GW of solar power).

Several factors have driven these relatively inexpensive bids. In China, solar power is incentivized. To that end, decreasing hardware prices have largely fueled the drastic drop—solar panel costs, for instance, have declined remarkably since the first quarter of this year. And in Abu Dhabi, solar panels produce more power than usual because the city enjoys some of the best sunlight exposure in the world.

Still, Abu Dhabi isn’t the only location with ideal conditions.

Last year, Costa Rica powered itself purely with renewable energy for 299 days total. This year, they already surpassed 150 days. The success, as is true in the other recent successes, isn’t just due to the country’s size or location. The government is serious in its effort to eliminate the use of fossil fuels.

And other countries are also stepping up to the plate. Thus, this most recent drops herald a notable trend that is, at the present time, showing no sign of slowing…….

January 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Donald Trump now repressing scientists

civil-liberty-2smFlag-USATrump Just Ordered Government Scientists to Hide Facts From the Public He also immediately suspended all EPA contracts and grants.Mother Jones, JAN. 24, 2017 Throughout Donald Trump’s campaign, he and his proxies consistently expressed hostility to government regulation, particularly of the fossil fuel and agriculture industries. Within days of taking over, the Trump administration has already put a squeeze on the two agencies that most directly regulate Big Energy and Big Ag, the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Agriculture.

At the EPA, the administration has  ordered that “all contract and grant awards be temporarily suspended, effective immediately,” ProPublica writers Andrew Revkin and Jesse Eisinger report, quoting an internal EPA email they obtained. Myron Ebell, the climate change denier who led the Trump team’s EPA transition and directs the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, confirmed the suspension, Revkin and Eisenger report.

That’s potentially a massive blow to the agency’s core functions, says Patty Lovera, assistant director of the environmental watchdog group Food & Water Watch. “The EPA’s not necessarily out there running a bulldozer to clean up a toxic site,” she says. Superfund, an EPA program responsible for cleaning up the nation’s most contaminated land, is executed through contracts, she said. The EPA turns to contractors for “tons of water stuff, too”—from monitoring water quality downstream from polluters to helping municipalities update water infrastructure to avoid toxins.

“It’s one thing to put a pause on new contracts so they can be reviewed, but to reach back and stop existing ones is a whole other can of worms,” Lovera said.

in Flint, Michigan, where lead contamination has led to the nation’s most notorious drinking-water catastrophe in years, the announcement brought uncertainty and confusion. “State officials are seeking more information on a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency freeze on grants and contracts and what it could mean to $100 million in federal funds already appropriated for the Flint water crisis,” the news site reported Tuesday. In statement quoted by, the press secretary for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder noted that “we haven’t received any guidance from the federal government” about the EPA’s funding to address the Flint crisis.

Andrew Rosenberg, who directs the Center for Science and Democracy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, adds research to the list. The agency funds crucial environmental science through contracts with outside scientists, and interruptions to their funding can be devastating, he said. He likened the situation to the government shutdown of 2013, which temporarily blacked research funding throughout the federal government, including the EPA. In a blog post at the time, Rosenberg quoted an EPA scientist he interviewed on the effects of such interruptions:

A toxicologist who works for the Environmental Protection Agency expressed great frustration that the crucial work of testing chemicals on the market for toxicity has been interrupted. This work had been slow and complex, and short of manpower. Now, things are worse, the scientist writes. “The next time you reach under the sink to pull out a cleaning product, ask yourself if you’d really like to know if it was causing cancer, or if it was safe.” The shutdown, the toxicologist concludes, will keep toxic chemicals on the shelves “longer than they otherwise should have.”

Of course, it remains unclear exactly how far-ranging the contract suspension is—and that brings us to another move from the White House: a media blackout.  . TheHuffington Post‘s Kate Sheppard got hold of an internal EPA email sent to staff Monday blocking all press releases, social-media messages, and blog posts. As for answering queries from journalists, “Incoming media requests will be carefully screened,” the email stated. My own calls and emails to EPA spokespeople on Tuesday went unanswered.

Meanwhile, over at the USDA, a similar media blackout is afoot, reports BuzzFeed‘s Dino Grandoni:………

f the funding interruptions and media blackouts continue, she said, much of what the USDA and EPA do to study and protect the public from polluting industries will be negated. And that might be the point, she said: If you can prevent public agencies from conducting vital functions, “you can say they don’t do anything and justify cutting their funding.”

On a positive note, all the information that emerged Tuesday on the EPA and the USDA came from internal leaks. Trump may be determined to keep these crucial watchdog and research agencies tightly muzzled, but at least some career bureaucrats and scientists appear unwilling to keep the public in the dark

January 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Good riddance to the Trans Pacific Partnership: it could have furthered nuclear waste import plans

logo-anti-TPPPaul Waldon, Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 25 Jan 17 

RIP:…..Today Donald Trump signed the death certificate for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). this is the company that wanted to have a law passed to make it against the law to make a law against them.
Two of the big rainmakers in the TPP are General Electric and Westinghouse whom with others have a vested interest in nuclear generation and nuclear waste abandonment. The TPP has been strong arming communities and anyone else they can to accept nuclear waste, so they can promote their sales of more waste generating machines.
My view is, If we the people of Australia espoused to international nuclear waste abandonment, it would have been possible that the TPP would have been the big player sending nuclear waste here, or we will fight a losing legal battle at great cost in the courtroom if we refused their waste.

January 25, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Theresa May knew about nuclear missile test mishap, but kept it quiet

may-theresaNo.10 admits Theresa May did know about nuclear test where missile ‘veered towards America’ Downing Street describes the operation as ‘successful’ – because the submarine and crew returned to service – but refuses to say what happened to the missile, Independent, Rob Merrick  @Rob_Merrick  24 January 2017

Theresa May did know about last year’s controversial test firing of a Trident missile, but No.10 is refusing to confirm that it veered off course.

Instead, the Prime Minister’s spokeswoman insisted the operation had been “successful” – because both the submarine and the crew were able to return to service.

 Her spokeswoman described repeated questions about allegations that the unarmed missile went astray as “minutiae and specifics”.

The admission that Ms May was informed about the results of last June’s test comes 24 hours after she refused – four times – to say if she had been aware of it.

She has been accused of covering up the test, which came just weeks before MPs backed the £40bn renewal of Trident by 472 votes to 117…….

January 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

France’s nuclear corporation decides to close Fessenheim nuclear station

nuclear-dominoesflag-franceEDF board approves closure of oldest nuclear power station in France
Decision on Fessenheim plant comes after pressure from Berlin and need to comply with legal cap on atomic energy generation,
Guardian, , 25 Jan 17, EDF has voted to begin the process of closing France’s oldest nuclear power station after pressure from Germany and a law capping the country’s reliance on atomic power.

The French energy firm’s board approved plans on Tuesday to close the 39-year old Fessenheim plant in north-east France, near the German border, allaying fears that the company, which is 85%-state owned, would drag its heels until President François Hollande left office later this year.

Hollande had promised in his manifesto to shut the site in an effort to build an alliance with the Green party. Fessenheim has also been the subject of complaints about safety from the German and Swiss governments.

Under Hollande, France has pledged to reduce its reliance on nuclear from 78% of electricity generation to 50% by 2025 and increase its use of renewables, such as wind and solar. The country’s nuclear plants are ageing, with many expected to come to the end of their life in the 2030s.

France’s energy transition law caps the amount of nuclear power at 63.2 gigawatts, meaning the Fessenheim plant needs to close in 2018 to pave the way for a new one at Flamanville.

Under the deal agreed by EDF, the company will be paid €490m (£420m) in compensation for dismantling the plant and retraining its 850 workers.

“With this decision on the part of its board of directors, EDF is guaranteeing compliance with legislation imposing a ceiling for France’s installed nuclear electricity generation capacity, while at the same time safeguarding to the utmost the interests of the company and its customers,” said Jean-Bernard Lévy, its chief executive……..

January 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment