Australian news, and some related international items

How Prime Minister Robert Menzies, and Sir Ernest Titterton sold us all out for British nuclear testing

Australian tolerance of the British and their obsessive secrecy may be explained by the deference and loyalty to the ‘motherland’. Prime Minister Menzies identified so strongly with Britain that he considered British national interest as Australia’s national interest.

Another factor which underlay Australian deference during the course of the testing program was the role of Sir Ernest Titterton.

The full legal and political implications of the testing program would take decades to emerge. The secrecy which surrounded the British testing program and the remoteness of the tests from major population centres meant that public opposition to the tests and awareness of the risks involved grew very slowly.

Wayward governance : illegality and its control in the public sector / P N Grabosky
Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 1989 

“…..Admittedly, in the 1950s knowledge of radiation hazards was not as advanced as it is today. At the time it was not generally recognised that small doses of low level radiation might increase the risk of cancer years later. But even in the light of knowledge of the time, the information on which Menzies based his decisions was seriously deficient.

There seems little doubt that the secrecy in which the entire testing program was cloaked served British rather than Australian interests. Continue reading

April 12, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Huge 300MW solar farm begins construction near Port Augusta,

Isn’t this a brilliant outcome?   For the last few years, the nuclear lobby has been touting Port Augista as the place for a nuclear power station. Following the absolute defeat of the shonky South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, and thanks to all those who fought against it, so brilliantly –  South Australia now could become a world leader in modern clean energy.

REneweconomy, By  on 11 April 2017  The first two stage of a 300MW solar farm – Australia’s biggest – has begun construction near Port Augusta in South Australia after its developers last Friday reached financial close on the project, and agreed to sell it to two of Europe’s biggest investors in renewables, Italy’s Enel Green Energy and the Dutch Infrastructure Fund.

The first two stages, totalling 220MW, of the Bungala project is being built around 12kms from Port Augusta, where the state’s last coal fired generator closed last May. Ironically, project developer Reach Energy is headed by Tony Concannon, the former head of the owners of the Hazelwood brown coal generator in Victoria which closed late last month.

The two first stages of Bungala will be completed late in 2018, and will be built by Spanish company Elecnor, which recently completed the 57MW Moree project in NSW and the smaller 21MW Barcaldine project in Queensland.

Bungala will be built “battery storage ready”, and will also likely be the first major solar farm to participate in Australia’s FCAS market (frequency control and ancillary services), using SMA inverter technology to provide voltage control for the grid.

Concannon says the remaining 80MW of capacity could be built – along with battery storage – should the company win a South Australian government tender for 25 per cent of its electricity needs with “dispatchable” renewables.

Reach has submitted proposals for both 20MWh of battery storage and 100MWh, although it did not participate in the other tender for a separate 100MWh battery unit. If the tender is not successful, there are also discussions with other potential off-takers in train…….

The new plant, he says, will be designed to provide FCAS – even at night, after the sun has gone down. “What a number of people don’t realise is that you can design ancillary services for solar plants to operate at night time.

“We can draw in power from the grid at night, and use the inverter technologies to regulate voltage, and that helps stabilise the system, even when the sun is not shining.”

Unlike battery storage in households, which he describes as mostly “passive” and focused on converting the output of solar panels from DC power to AC power so it can be put into the grid, utility-scale inverter technologies are able to shape voltage and current very quickly and in a very flexible manner. Modern wind farms are also using the same technologies.

“The inverter changes phase between the voltage and current … inverters can pull the current in, and change the phase to what grid wants.”

Concannon, a power engineer, says it is a tricky subject to try and explain, but says a lot of the articles he has read in the media – about wind and solar not being able to provide grid services – are wrong……..

April 12, 2017 Posted by | solar, South Australia, storage | Leave a comment

Prime Minister Turnbull actively lobbying for Adani and the coal industry, not without attracting criticism

His idea of protecting the Reef is giving a coal billionaire a billion dollars to build a coal mine right on the Reef’s doorstep.

Turnbull slammed for “sucking up” to Adani, as business pushes 50-year life for coal plants, REneweconomy, By  on 11 April 2017 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has come under renewed criticism from Australian environmental groups after meeting with senior executives from Indian coal mining giant Adani Group as part of his three-day state visit to India.

The meeting with Adani chair Gautam Adani and other company executives in New Delhi on Monday coincides with deliberations on company’s final investment decision on the $21-billion Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee basin, which is set to be Australia’s largest coal mine, if built. Continue reading

April 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

How One Small Tribe Beat Coal and Built a Solar Plant

 The Moapa went from suffering at the hands of coal to benefiting from the profits of renewables

Color Lines, Yessenia Funes  APR 10, 2017 Tucked between scattered red desert rocks, the Moapa Band of Paiutes dwells on a little over 70,000 acres in southeastern Nevada. It’s a small tribe with a population of no more than 311, but those numbers haven’t stopped its members from shutting down a giant coal generating station to protect their health and land.

While President Donald Trump is attempting to revive the coal industry, the Moapa Band has proven how dangerous that industry can be to health. Tribal members suffer from high rates of asthma and heart disease, though the tribe’s small size makes it difficult to accurately quantify. The coal-fired Reid Gardner Generating Station sits outside the Moapa River Indian Reservation, just beyond a fence for some tribal members who have had to deal with the repercussions of its air pollution and toxic coal ash waste for 52 years.

“The whole tribe was suffering from it,” says Vernon Lee, a tribal member and former council member who worked at the plant 15 years ago. “It’s just bad stuff. We all knew that.”

Coincidentally, the day after the station last stopped operating (on March 17), the Moapa Band of Paiutes launched the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project, the first-ever solar project built on tribal land, in partnership with large-scale solar operator First Solar. Companies started approaching the tribe about leasing its land around the same time their organizing took off, and things essentially fell into place.  Continue reading

April 12, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Turnbull govt in for a shock, with new CEO of Australian Energy Market Operator, Audrey Zibelman.

Turnbull, ScoMo and coal-lovers look out: Here comes Audrey Zibelman, Independent Australia, Norm Sanders 10 April 2017, Once they work out that Audrey Zibelman is pro-renewables, her appointment as AEMO’s new CEO is bound to upset the Coalition, writes Dr Norm Sanders.

WHO IS Audrey Zibelman?

On 17 March 2017, she became the new CEO of AEMO, that’s who! And what is AEMO? It is the Australian Energy Market Operator.

Although few are aware of it, AEMO plays a major role in our lives. It manages the NEM(National Electricity Market) and the Victorian gas transmission network. It also oversees retail electricity and gas markets in eastern and southern Australia and is working on the establishment of a Short Term Trading Market (STTM) for gas.

AEMO is also responsible for national electricity transmission planning. It investigated the South Australian blackouts and had a brief moment of media fame when the results of the investigation were released. ……..

Since the Turnbull Government was too busy shooting itself in the foot to exert any leadership over the energy situation, the task was left to AEMO. That organisation surprised some observers and delighted others by recruiting Audrey Zibelman from New York to head the task of sorting out the mess.

Once they understand what this means, the Government will be appalled by the appointment. Not only is Ms Zibleman extremely knowledgeable in the field of electricity generation, she was a major force in New York State’s the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) plan, which has 50 per cent renewables by 2030 as one of its goals. (Hang in there, Bill!) REV’s other 2030 goals are to achieve a 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels and a 23 per cent decrease in energy consumption from buildings from 2012 levels. Ms Zibelman’s appointment is an indication of a new direction for AEMO’s culture and technology……. Continue reading

April 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Involvment in nuclear power may have dealt Toshiba corporation a mortal blow

The financial problems are mounting.

The auditors have refused to certify Toshiba’s accounts — a highly unusual signal of doubt about the company’s ability to recover its financial health

Toshiba casts doubt on ability to stay in business after nuclear power push falters, Tampa Bay Times, New York Times Tuesday, April 11, 2017  Toshiba, a pillar of the modern Japanese economy whose roots stretch back to the country’s industrial stirrings in the 19th century, warned on Tuesday that a disastrous foray into nuclear power may have crippled its business beyond repair. Continue reading

April 12, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Senate Committee Report recommends market-based carbon trading scheme, but shows idealogical divisions between political parties

Senate inquiry sparks ideological fight over Australia’s energy supply and climate change, ABC News, By political reporter Angelique Donnellan, 10 Apr 17, A Senate inquiry report into Australia’s electricity supplies has descended into a slanging match between members, prompting questions about its value for taxpayers.

The Select Committee into the Resilience of Australia’s Electricity Infrastructure in a Warming World heard from 60 witnesses in Adelaide, Canberra and Melbourne, including major energy generators, retailers and industry regulators.

But in the committee’s draft report released today, Federal Greens senator and chairwoman Sarah Hanson-Young took aim at the Coalition and its policies.

“The introduction of a market-based carbon trading scheme would effectively end the decades-long subsidy that coal has received in the electricity generation market,” she said.

“Yet like the proverbial ostrich, the Coalition Government has buried its collective head in the coalmine and refuses to address in any meaningful way the crisis facing the nation.”

The committee had seven other members, including three Labor senators, two Liberal, One Nation and Nick Xenophon.

All dissented to Senator Hanson-Young’s draft report, with Coalition senators calling it biased, false, misleading and dismissive of coal as a generator for electricity…….

Senator Hanson-Young questioned the use of gas as a transition fuel and the need for more gas mining.

“The misplaced notion that coal seam gas could provide a solution to the gas shortage on Australia’s east coast displays a profound ignorance of how the market works,” she said.

“Any unconventional gas will surely find its way onto the export market.”

April 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

As Trump abandon’s USA’s climate leadership, China’s President Xi takes over

China’s Xi Outshines Trump as the World’s Future Energy Leader, Failure by the two presidents to discuss climate change leaves China ahead, based on actions if not words, Scientific American By David Biello on April 11, 2017  “……Trump and China’s Pres. Xi Jinping apparently ignored climate change at their inaugural meeting last week. Although the two leaders apparently found time to discuss everything from North Korea’s nuclear capability to a potential reset of trade relations, climate change was never mentioned, even though Trump might have wanted to take the opportunity to directly fact check his Tweet from last year that China invented climate change to cripple U.S. manufacturing.

The silence was not a surprise, however, even if the focus of the summit was meant to be “global challenges around the world.” As Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the U.S. State Department, predicted, “I don’t think that [climate change is] going to be a major part of the discussion in Florida.”

That’s too bad, because China and the U.S. remain the two biggest polluters when it comes to greenhouse gases. Cooperation on climate change provided a rare area of agreement between China and the U.S. during the Obama administration. And it was in large part due to the efforts of China and the U.S. that the nations of the world agreed to combat climate change in Paris in 2015.

It is also too bad for the U.S.—because, ironically, the silence leaves China as the world’s future energy leader. Continue reading

April 12, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull, Marketing Man for Coal in India – despite the glut in India’s coal market

Malcolm Turnbull talks up coal in Delhi, despite India’s aim to stop imports Glut in Indian coal market, plans to phase out imports and lower than forecast energy demands cast doubt on future for exports from proposed Adani mine, Guardian,  , 11 Apr 17Malcolm Turnbull is adamant that Australian coal will play “a very big role” in powering India’s future despite a glut in the local market and clear signals from Delhi that it aims to eliminate imports of the fossil fuel as soon as possible. ………..On Monday Turnbull met Gautam Adani, the mining magnate whose company will soon decide whether to begin building the world’s largest coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee basin. Continue reading

April 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

People self-diagnosing “windfarm diseases” ?

People who blame sickness on windfarms ‘may be bypassing doctor’ Windfarm commissioner’s first report says complainants may fail to seek medical advice ‘due to the possibly incorrect assumption’ that nearby turbines are to blame,Guardian, , 10 Apr 17 The office of the national windfarm commissioner is concerned people are not going to the doctor because they are incorrectly attributing symptoms of illness to windfarms.

Commissioner Andrew Dyer published his first report to the Australian parliament on 31 March which revealed the office had received 90 complaint between November 2015 and 31 December 2016.

Complainants cited health conditions including “sleep disturbance, headaches, earaches, ‘pounding’ in the ears, tinnitus, tachycardia, high blood pressure, sight impairment, diabetes, chest-tightening, nausea and general fatigue”, which they blamed on both audible and low-frequency noise, “including infrasound, emanating from turbines”.

Because complainants gave only “anecdotal evidence” it was difficult to establish causality with the windfarm’s operations, the report noted. It expressed concern that complainants may fail to seek medical advice “due to the possibly incorrect assumption” that a nearby windfarm was to blame.

But the report also noted that the presence of a windfarm or concerns about a proposed one could cause stress, annoyance or anxiety that could, in turn, result in health conditions. When relating to a proposed windfarm, that pressure could extend for several years.

 “Debate continues around the world as to whether a windfarm causes physiological harm to residents living in its vicinity,” the report noted. It recommended that state and federal governments should continue to assess research, pointing to two studies funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council that were announced last year…..

In February last year, Dyer said half the complaints his office had received pertained to windfarms that had yet to be built.

April 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | Leave a comment

Telecommunications company joins Click energy to challenge coal electricity utilities

Telco, online energy retailer merge to take on coal-laden utilities, REneweconomy, By  on 10 April 2017

Junior telecommunications company amaysim has agreed to pay $120 million for online energy retailer Click Energy in a move designed to challenge the dominance of the big utilities in both the telco space and the energy sector.

The potential merger of telecommunications and energy offerings has long been mooted. But, despite Telstra snapping up PowerShop’s Ben Burge last year to head the newly created Telstra Energy and promising its own line of solar and storage, little has happened to date, although combined offerings have become common in the US and Europe.

“I think it will be standard here in the next few years time,” says Dominic Drenen, who will continue his role as CEO of Click Energy. “We think we can put together a bundled product that is quite compelling. For consumers, they will be dealing with one platform, so it’s just one less hassle.”

The two companies think there are significant opportunities for an “asset-light” retailer that is not burdened by legacy assets such as ageing coal-fired power stations.

“Retailing industry players are burdened with complex legacy systems and pricing structures, with most major providers also owning ageing coal-fired generating assets,” amaysim CEO Julian Ogrin said in a presentation. “Customers face large confusing bills, bill shock, no real online engagement or DIY experience and poor customer service is common.”

Ogrin sees a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity in the forced migration of around 8 million Australian homes changing their broadband service by 2020. He says the telco and energy sectors are typically “inert”, so the opportunity to increase market share in the forced migration of NBN is a unique opportunity.

It expects to have its first combined offers available in 2018, and sees major savings in “back-end” IT platforms and other synergies of around $5 million a year…….

April 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, energy | Leave a comment

New poll shows very high public support for renewable energy

Polling brief: renewable energy Swann, 10 April 2017

New polling shows that despite a concerted campaign from sectors of the federal government and coal and gas industries, public support remains very high for renewable energy, and for the strengthening of state and federal targets.

The poll, conducted by The Australia Institute through Research now, asked a representative sample of 1420 Australians about renewable energy policy.

  • 67% said Australia was moving into renewable energy too slowly. Only 9% said Australia was moving too fast.
  • 77% of Australians support a state renewable energy target to provide extra renewable energy in their state – virtually unchanged over the last 18 months.
  • 52% supported increasing the current federal Renewable Energy Target for 2020, only 9% wanted to reduce it.

April 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Young Nationals split from party policy, now to back emissions trading

The motion taken by the Young Nats brings them into line with the National Farmers’ Federation, the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group and much of the energy sector, including the electricity transmission and distribution businesses

Young Nationals reject federal party policy to back emissions trading, The Age, Heath Aston , 10 Apr 17,  The Young Nationals have split with the senior ranks of the party, voting to support the introduction of a carbon trading scheme.  Continue reading

April 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Liberal COALition’s answer to global warming – more coal is needed!!

The contents of the Coalition’s dissenting report, however, are quite extraordinary, and highlight the difficulties that prime minister Malcolm Turnbull would have if he ever chose to implement sensible energy policies, or sought to implement the inevitable conclusions of the Finkel Review.

In essence, the Coalition’s report was a collection of renewable energy myths that might have been collected from far-right anti-wind and climate denying websites

Coalition says wind turbines increase emissions, more coal needed, REneweconomy, By  on 11 April 2017 Coalition Senators say that wind turbines are likely to cause greenhouse gas emissions to increase, and insist that the best thing that Australia can do to combat climate change is to export more thermal coal.

The extraordinary conclusions – from Senators Chris Back and Jonathon Duniam – were included in the dissenting report to the Senate inquiry into the resilience of electricity infrastructure in a warming world. They also insist that coal and gas would remain the dominant sources for electricity around the world for “many generations to come.”

“Energy generated by wind turbines do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the electricity sector by the amount claimed. In fact, there is some evidence that the addition of wind energy onto the grid actually increases carbon emissions,” the Coalition Senators wrote.

It was one of four dissenting views on the report prepared by the Greens chair Sarah Hanson-Young, highlighting the impossible nature of Australia’s energy politics, and the apparent refusal of any parties to agree on anything, including facts.

One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts issued a dissenting report which simply claimed that there was no such thing as a warming world. Continue reading

April 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Labor not keen on Adani coal railway loan Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is not convinced taxpayers should provide a loan for a rail line to Adani’s Carmichael coal mine. Federal Labor has questioned the merit of granting a taxpayer-funded loan for a railway to the Adani Carmichael mine.

The Indian company has applied for a $900 million concessional loan from the government’s Northern Australia infrastructure fund to help build a rail line connecting the central Queensland mine and the Abbot Point port.

“If you want to have a good commercial operation in Australia, I am not convinced the taxpayer of Australia should underwrite the risk of the project through a billion dollar loan,” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told reporters in Brisbane.

Mr Shorten said other mining companies are not getting billion dollar railways built for them.

“We have to make sure it stacks up,” Mr Shorten said.

The company’s Carmichael coal mine project in Queensland was approved in December but has faced serious opposition from environmental and indigenous groups.

Senior executives of Adani, including founder and chairman Gautam Adani met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in India on Monday.

Mr Adani requested an early resolution of native title issues surrounding the mine, which was hit by a Federal Court ruling that invalidated deals with traditional owners across Australia.

Legislation dealing with the problem is before the Senate and Mr Turnbull is understood to have assured the company the issue would be fixed.

Mr Shorten said Attorney General George Brandis was to blame for the confusion over native title.

Anything he touches turns to “custard”, the Labor leader said.

“In an incompetent government, he is the gold medal of incompetence,” he said.

April 12, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment