Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s nuclear fool cycle – regurgitating pro-nuclear submissions made to the SA Royal Commission

Dennis Matthews, 28 Apr 17 Recently, some organisations with impressive sounding names held a symposium at the Australian National University.

The symposium of engineers and scientists was on the nuclear fuel cycle comprised of “mining and fuel processing, nuclear power and waste storage”. The fact that this is a linear process rather than a cycle doesn’t seem to have bothered the participants. The nuclear spin cycle however is real.

The symposium appears to have regurgitated pro-nuclear submissions made to the SA Royal Commission on the nuclear industry and ended up generally agreeing, “that a social licence to operate will not be achieved quickly”. This is an understatement. It has been six decades since Australia got involved in the nuclear industry and sent uranium mined in South Australia and the Northern Territory to the UK for processing and for making nuclear weapons, which were then “tested” in South Australia.

The symposium ended up recommending, “that expertise in the humanities and social sciences be engaged to study the evolution and determining factors for public opinion on nuclear issues in Australia.” Hopefully, these experts will teach the scientists and engineers how to be objective and how to tell the difference between a cycle and spin.

April 28, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

To 28 April Nuclear and Climate news Australia

You wonder how long the world can teeter on the brink – Donald Trump says:  Chance of ‘major, major conflict’ with North KoreaUnprepared President Trump risks blundering into nuclear war. But Why so little public protest on the current threats of nuclear war?  Have we all got nuclear-war-fear fatigue? Or, in Australia, it is the football season.

Investigative journalism lives! – Time to pay attention to long term effects of low dose ionising radiation. The radioactive berry harvests of Chernobyl.


Pine Gap and Northwest Cape– Australia’s very obvious nuclear targets. America’s deployment of 1250 marines to Darwin rattles North Korea.  North Korea developing missiles in 3 years time, that could reach Australia, esp Pine Gap.

NUCLEAR. Today submissions closed for the secretive Parliamentary Inquiry into Australia joining the international Generation IV Nuclear Energy Framework (GIF) . I sent one in. It will probably  get lost in  a pile of pro nuclear submissions from nuclear companies and their shills.

USA preparing charges for the arrest of Julian Assange.

Protest occupies Downer EDI office: Don’t get into bed with Adani  Taxpayer loan for railway to Adani mine “not in the interests of NSW”: report

ENERGY. Dennis Mattews reviews Senate Committee report on Electricity Stability and Affordability. Obvious to all, except the Australian govt, that the nation needs a clear energy market policy. Australia’s rapidly increasing solar energy capacity. Turnbull’s dishonest spin about his Snowy Hydro energy plan.  Turnbull government wants to subsidise fossil fuel transport.

April 28, 2017 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear lobby never gives up

Despite the resounding defeat of the shonky South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission last year, a few zealous lobbyists continue to put across the incorrect story  that expansion of the nuclear industry in that State is  a viable option.

They organised a symposium.

Cambridge Dictionary describes a symposium as : an occasion at which people who have great knowledge of a particular subject meet in order to discuss a matter of interest

That’s interesting, as the communique from this symposium did not name the experts who were present.  I am suspecting that their “great knowledge” was on how to spin pro nuclear propaganda.

The meeting was co-ordinated by the pro nuclear physicist Professor Ken Baldwin. He apparently still believes in the goal of the NFCRC. He had this to say on the NFCRC goals

A further step could be to immediately establish a nuclear regulatory framework, in parallel with community consultation. This would reduce the lead time for nuclear to perhaps ten years if there is public acceptance

The symposium sounded so important, held at the ANU, hosted by The Australian National University (ANU) Energy Change Institute in collaboration with Engineers Australia, the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

It all sounds so awfully academic and gee-whiz important. Apart from Mr Baldwin, no other experts were named. Anyway, surprise surprise. They concluded that  Nuclear options need to be in the energy mix.  I’d just like to know –  how many scientists actually were present? Who put up the arguments for nuclear? What were those arguments?

April 28, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | 3 Comments

Its time to Call Out Canavan on nuclear waste!

  • The storage of radioactive waste remains illegal under the South Australian Radioactive Waste Transport and Storage (Prohibition) Act (2000)
  • The Federal Government’s consultation process is fundamentally flawed. Traditional Owners were made aware of the nomination by a media announcement. This complete disregard of the importance of community consultation is completely contradictory to the Federal Government’s commitment to a more open and transparent site selection process.
  • To find a practical and just solution to the management of Australia’s radioactive waste, there is a need for a public inquiry to explore all our options for the management of radioactive waste. Such an approach would provide enhanced community and procedural confidence and rigor and ensure greater stakeholder engagement.

Call Out Canavan!

Its time to Call Out Canavan on nuclear waste!

We are encouraging people to contact the Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan in the week leading up to the one year anniversary of the nomination at Wallerberdina to oppose the dumping of Australia’s radioactive waste on the Adnyamathanha people and support the local communities in opposition to a national radioactive waste dump in the Flinders Ranges.

South Australia is at risk of being turned into the nation’s nuclear waste dump.

The Turnbull Government is advancing plans to build a national nuclear waste dump in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges. The shortlisting in April 2016 resulted in one site at Wallerbidina in the Flinders Ranges to be pursued for further investigation.  This means the area is at extreme risk of being chosen to dump Australia’s nuclear waste.

We need your support to protect this region from nuclear waste.

The Wallerbidina site is of great cultural, historical and spiritual significance to Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners, who are calling this decision a desecration of their culture. Regina McKenzie, who lives at Yappala Station near the dump site, says: “The area is Adnyamathanha land. It is Arngurla Yarta (spiritual land). The proposed dump site has countless thousands of Aboriginal artifacts. Our ancestors are buried there. The nominated site is a significant women’s site. Throughout the area are registered cultural heritage sites and places of huge importance to our people.”

Friends of the Earth has been working closely with Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners and many concerned South Australians who are opposed to the proposed dump.

Regina McKenzie and her family are asking for support.
One way you can support the community is by contacting Minister Canavan between April 24th and April 28th and express concern about the national dump plans. In the lead up to the final decision, your voice can be a powerful support to the Adnyamathanha people and will be appreciated for generations to come.

So this April – Send a message to the Minister Continue reading

April 28, 2017 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

Judge rules South Africa’s nuclear deals unlawful: no parliamentary debate

How come that  Dr Adi Paterson, boss of ANSTO, was able to sign Australia up to the  Generation IV International Forum without any parliamentary debate.

South Africa’s nuclear deals unlawful, court rules 26 April 2017   A South African court has annulled initial agreements the government reached with three countries to help it build nuclear power stations.

The deals with Russia, the US and South Korea were unlawful, the court ruled. The government failed to hold public hearings and a parliamentary debate over its plans, it added.

Environmental groups said they welcomed the ruling, pointing out it came on the eve of the anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The government has not yet commented on the ruling, in a case brought by the Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI).

Its plan to build eight nuclear plants at an estimated cost of around 1tn rand ($76bn; £59bn) has been dogged by controversy. Critics fear the deal will be unaffordable and plagued by corruption, and suspect that Finance Minister Pravin Gordan was sacked by President Jacob Zuma last month because he had serious reservations about it.

“In the past few weeks citizens have demonstrated their willingness to mobilise against corruption and the capture of our state. The nuclear deal is at the centre of it all.” SAFCEI official Siphokazi Pangalele said in a statement.

Concerns about the affordability of the deal contributed to global rating agency Fitch’s decision on 7 April to downgrade South Africa to “junk status”.

The government says it needs new nuclear power stations to meet South Africa’s growing electricity demand, and to move away from relying on coal-fire plants. The country currently has one nuclear plant.

It had reached preliminary agreements with Russia, the US and South Korea to build eight more, AFP news agency reports.

Environmental groups say South Africa should rely more on renewable energy to meet its electricity needs.

April 28, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s solar rooftop hotspot – South Australia

South Australian households and businesses are installing solar panels as rising electricity prices and blackouts take their toll Gailberger, The Advertiser, 26 Apr 17

SOLAR uptake has reached new records across the nation, as South Australian households and businesses put in solar installations at almost double the rate of last year.

Solar analysts say the industry has experienced one of its strongest quarters, driven by increased knowledge, high electricity prices, and fear the Federal Government will cut incentives in the future.There is now six gigawatts of solar power installed across Australia — enough to meet the needs of 1.3 million average households — figures released today by the Australian Photovoltaic Institute show.“Solar power now makes up 11 per cent of our country’s total electricity generation capacity,” Australian Photovoltaic Institute chair Dr Renate Egan said.

South Australia has the highest penetration among dwellings at 32 per cent, with Aberfoyle Park identified as the state’s “solar rooftop hotspot”. More than 22,618 new solar installations have been made in SA as of April — 7000 more than the same time last year.

SunWiz managing director Warwick Johnston said small-scale residential and commercial solar installations will continue to grow because of an increased awareness of renewable energy.

“Particularly in SA given the context of all the blackouts that happened … people are moving towards being independent of the grid.”

He expects another 800MW will be installed across Australia this year, and said a boost from solar farm projects will equate to another gigawatt added to the grid. Continue reading

April 28, 2017 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

New South Wales wind farm to power 49,000 ACT homes

NSW’s Sapphire Wind Farm to power 49,000 ACT homes, Canberra Times, Georgina Connery, 27 Apr 17, It is a regional NSW project closer to the Queensland border than to Canberra, but within months the Sapphire Wind Farm will generate power for around 49,000 ACT homes. After a flight to Armidale and long car ride west of Glen Innes, climate change minster Shane Rattenbury toured the facility on Thursday.

The wind farm will be NSW’s largest once it is completed.

It is owned by CWP Renewables, a joint venture between two European renewable energy companies, and was one of two successful projects in the ACT’s 2015 second wind auction.

The farm entered into a 20 year contract to supply 100 megawatts of its 270 megawatt output to the ACT government and by mid next year 32 wind turbines will come online to supply energy for the territory.

“Construction commenced in January 2017 on the 100 megawatt Sapphire 1 wind farm, which is another significant step in progress towards the ACT’s 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020 target,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“The ACT supported part of the wind farm will generate 349,703 megawatt-hours per year.”

The ACT government’s reverse auctions have secured generating capacities of 40 megawatts from large-scale solar and 600 megawatts from wind farms over the past few years……

April 28, 2017 Posted by | ACT, New South Wales, wind | Leave a comment

Nuclear Power – a false promise

No2NuclearPower,  nuclear News No.95 May 17 Nuclear power was originally sold on a lie, writes Dave Elliott. While we were being told it would make electricity ‘too cheap to meter’, insiders already knew it cost at least 50% more than conventional generation. Since then nuclear costs have only risen, while renewable energy prices are on a steep decline. And now the nuclear behemoths are crumbling. Dave’s new book ‘Nuclear Power: past, present and future’ for the Institute of Physics looks at the long turgid nuclear story in detail and includes full references.

A classified internal US State Department Intelligence Report, circulated in January 1954, ‘Economic Implications of Nuclear Power in Foreign Countries’, warned that the introduction of nuclear power would ” … not usher in a new era of plenty and rapid economic development as is commonly believed. Nuclear power plants may cost twice as much to operate and as much as 50 percent more to build and equip than conventional thermal plants.”

It wasn’t just accidents that might be a problem. The poor economics of nuclear gradually became more apparent- as cheaper alternatives began to emerge. It turned out to be too expensive.

Given the problems some look to new ‘Generation IV’ designs. They are basically new versions of the old designs looked at in the 1950s, 60s and 70s in the USA and elsewhere – and abandoned as unviable, or after accidents. They include fast neutron plutonium breeders, High Temperature Reactors (HTRs) and Molten Salt Reactors (MSR) possibly using thorium as a fuel and possibly also in scaled down Small Modular Reactor (SMR) format. The message from the past is not promising.

April 28, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Protest occupies Downer EDI office: Don’t get into bed with #Adani   John Englart  Citizen journalist at No Fibs 27 April 2017: “Climate activists are this morning occupying the Melbourne offices of Downer EDI, a mining infrastructure company,
to protest participation in developing the Adani Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin of Queensland. The mine is widely seen as a climate carbon bomb with no social license.

“At about 11.20am police arrived on the scene. At 11.45am police left the offices. The occupation was peaceful and there was no threat, no harm in the occupation.

Protesters argue the much bigger threat comes from Downer’s willingness to build the Carmichael mine for Adani and the  damage that it will impose in Australia and globally through climate change.

“By 3.30pm the occupation protest was all over. There were no arrests. … “

April 28, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Dennis Mattews reviews Senate Committee report on Electricity Stability and Affordability

 Dennis Matthews April 2017 Comments on The Senate Select Committee into the Resilience of Electricity Infrastructure in a Warming World. Stability and Affordability: Forging a path to Australia’s renewable energy future.Senator Sarah Hanson-Young April 2017

The report by Sarah Hanson-Young is understandably critical of Liberal-National Coalition policy. It is no surprise that the committee’s Coalition Senators issued a dissenting report. It is also no surprise that the committee’s One Nation Senator, who has publically claimed that there is no evidence for global climate change, rejected the Hanson-Young report.

Both the Committee’s ALP Senators and Senator Xenophon issued dissenting reports, which however add very little to the Hanson-Young report.

The following comments will therefore concentrate on the Committee report by Senator Hanson-Young. Headings used are the same as those in the Committee report.

Executive summary   In the last two decades, natural gas was widely accepted as the obvious substitute for coal during the transition from fossil to renewable energy. In 2017 the validity of this assumption has been cast into doubt by the sudden increase in price of natural gas in Australia and “there are serious questions about whether gas can adequately fill this transitional role.”

In the sense that this problem has been induced by unregulated market forces dominated by the private, rather than the public, interest then the problem is in principle solvable. So far, however Federal Governments have shown very little appetite for regulating markets and it is therefore wise to assume that the gas shortage and resulting exorbitant prices will be a permanent fixture of energy supply and demand.

As with many energy issues, decades of inaction may well mean that we have missed the chance of a smooth transition from fossil to renewable energy and that a more abrupt transition is unavoidable. Continue reading

April 28, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Australia’s rapidly increasing solar energy capacity

Australian solar capacity now 6GW, to double again by 2020, REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson on 27 April 2017  Australia’s total solar power capacity has reached 6GW and is expected to double over the next few years as Australian households continue to invest in rooftop panels to reduce electricity bills, and the large-scale solar sector takes off after years of promise.

The latest industry analysis on installed capacity – released by the Australian Photovoltaic Institute – shows that rooftop solar capacity has now reached 5.6GW and large-scale solar capacity is now at 496MW, and growing fast.

The leading state in rooftop solar remains Queensland, with 1.72GW of rooftop solar – that makes it, as we reported here, bigger than the state’s largest coal generator. NSW and Victoria also have more than 1GW of rooftop solar capacity, with South Australia having the highest penetration (32 per cent) among residential dwellings.

As of April 2017, there was a total of 1.67 million PV installations in Australia, covering 21 per cent of suitable rooftops, which is the highest penetration of rooftop solar in the world. In total, these solar installations collectively generate 8,400 gigawatt hours of electricity each year, which meets approximately 3.3 per cent of Australian demand.

The data suggests that the rate of installation of rooftop solar is also accelerating. After establishing a record March quarter, the rate of installations for the year to date is up significantly in all the major states.

Interestingly, the biggest growth is coming from Western Australia, which has installed 43MW so far this year, outstripping Victoria, as locals prepare for the likely imminent removal of the state-based subsidy that has hidden the true cost of electricity from consumers……..

by 2040 the nature of the grid will have changed dramatically, and will have become more “distributed” – as predicted by the new head of the Australian Energy Market Operator Audrey Zibelman.

The key features will be localised and flexible generation. Batteries – and BNEF predicts there will be at least 15GW of them – will provide a large amount of flexibility, but so too will other forms of flexible generation, including demand response………

April 28, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Obvious to all, except the Australian govt, that the nation needs a clear energy market policy

A string of peak bodies have used the review to call for the adoption of a market mechanism, including the National Farmers’ Federationthe Investor Group on Climate Change and the Business Council of Australia, which explicitly called for an emissions intensity scheme.

Three years ago some of the same groups urged the parliament to get out of the way so that Tony Abbott could repeal the Gillard government’s “carbon tax”.

Australians could save $100bn on electricity ‘if government had clear policy’ Energy transmission industry ramps up call for market mechanism and says clear regulation could lead to zero net emissions by 2050, Guardian, Katharine Murphy, Australia’s electricity and gas transmission industry has intensified a call for a market mechanism to drive orderly transformation in the energy sector, warning a lack of clear regulation will result in higher prices for consumers and a less secure grid.

Energy Networks Australia (ENA) says clear policy settings could ultimately save Australian energy customers $100bn, and allow a smooth transition, where large-scale variable renewable energy can be integrated securely, creating the prospect of Australia’s electricity sector achieving zero net carbon emissions by 2050.

A new roadmap from the ENA to be released on Friday says the energy market is in the middle of a profound transformation that will only intensify over the next two decades.

Modelling produced for the report suggests that by 2050, up to 45% of Australia’s electricity supply could be provided by millions of distributed, privately owned generators, in homes and businesses.

The report notes the trend towards decentralisation of power generation creates “profound adaptation challenges for the system’s architecture, stability and efficiency given it was originally designed for almost 100% of generation at the transmission end of the system”.

The report’s estimated $100bn in cost savings is a function of governments rolling out nationally consistent policies that would encourage the two parts of the system to work harmoniously together – the current poles and wires of the national market, and the virtual grids in homes and businesses.

Allowing efficient co-optimisation would prevent overinvestment in poles and wires. Continue reading

April 28, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Victoria aims for two 20MW large scale batteries to be installed by January,

Victoria seeks two 20MW large scale batteries to be installed by January, REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson on 27 April 2017  Victoria has announced that it is seeking two 20MW battery storage installations – with a total of 100MWH of storage – to be located in the western part of the state where network strength is low.

The announcement came following an exceptionally strong market response to its call for expressions of interest – that attracted more than 100 enquiries – and as it prepares to ramp up its state-based target of reaching 40 per cent renewable energy by 2025.

Earlier this year the Andrews Labor Government announced $25 million to support large-scale energy storage, and a total of 100MW of battery storage, to enhance the reliability of its grid and unlock economic growth in areas experiencing network constraints.

It ran two expressions of interest processes – one specifically for a 20MW/80MWh facility in western Victoria and another more general one for up to 100MW of energy storage.

It has now refined its needs and is now formally looking for two large scale battery storage installations – both of 20MW, with a total of 100MWh – to be in place by January next year, when the summer peak is expected……..

Acting minister for energy, environment and climate change Lisa Neville said the government was looking to support projects that integrated both existing and new renewable energy generation, with storage, distribution and management technologies.

“Large scale energy battery storage will improve the reliability of Victoria’s energy grid and enhance energy security. We are encouraging significant local and international investment opportunities for businesses to work together in modernising our energy system.”

Full guidelines for applicants will be available on 1 May 2017 here.

April 28, 2017 Posted by | storage, Victoria | Leave a comment

Australia’s Minister for Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg, backs Port Augusta solar thermal plan

Frydenberg backs Negev-style solar thermal plant for Port Augusta AFR 27 Apr 17

……..Mr Frydenberg, who is on a trip to Israel and visited the 121 megawatt Ashalim solar thermal power project in the Negev desert, said Australia could learn from the collaboration between the Californian-based BrightSource Energy, General Electric and NOY Infrastructure and Energy Investment Fund.

“The Ashalim solar plant is impressive in scope and scale. When it is operational it will be the tallest and fifth largest solar thermal plant in the world,” Mr Frydenberg said from Israel.

“With the solar potential of Port Augusta being similar to that of the Negev Desert, this project can provide a number of valuable lessons for ARENA as they consider proposals for Australia’s first solar thermal plant.” ARENA is evaluating a solar thermal plant in Port Augusta in SA to replace the closure of two coal-fired power stations in recent years……….

April 28, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

Gas generators ordered on as South Australia’s wind production peaked

SA power: Gas generators ordered on as South Australia’s wind production peaked By political reporter Nick Harmsen The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) was forced to intervene in South Australia’s electricity market on Anzac Day to guarantee security of the grid as the state recorded record levels of wind energy production.

Wind power peaked at a new high of 1,540 megawatts close to midnight on Tuesday, more than meeting the state’s public holiday electricity demand.

The wind production was so high that earlier in the day AEMO took steps to ensure two gas generators remained on.

“A combination of high wind generation and low demand had resulted in the de-commitment of synchronous plants below the required levels,” an AEMO spokeswoman said.

AEMO would not confirm which gas generators were subject to AEMO’s directions, but the ABC understands they were AGL’s Hallett Power Station and one unit at Torrens Island.

A requirement for two large synchronous power stations to remain online at all times was put in place in the aftermath of the September 28 statewide blackout.

In that instance, when South Australia unexpectedly separated from the rest of the National Electricity Market, there were too few synchronous generators operating to keep the grid frequency in balance, forcing lights out across the state.

Synchronous generation is typically provided by gas, coal and hydro power plants. None of the wind farms currently operating in South Australia provide synchronous characteristics.

AEMO’s decision to order on two gas generators means their owners will be compensated under special rules, as opposed to taking the prevailing wholesale price for the electricity produced.

The direction for one of the generators remained in place until midday today.

The decision meant AEMO was also forced to constrain the output of two other generators to keep supply and demand in balance. The market operator would not reveal whether those constrained generators were wind farms.

April 28, 2017 Posted by | energy, South Australia | Leave a comment