Australian news, and some related international items

New South Wales Green Groups challenge Deputy Premier John Barilaro on nuclear power

Green groups shut down nuclear NSW talk

Green groups have ridiculed talk of nuclear power being placed back on the agenda by NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro as a “nutty” idea.

Green groups have reacted swiftly to condemn an attempt by Deputy NSW Premier John Barilaro to place nuclear energy back on the agenda.

Mr Barilaro told the NSW Nationals Annual Conference in Broken Hill on Thursday nuclear energy could mean “guaranteed power to millions, lower bills and next to no emissions” in the face of a power crisis. He said energy costs were crushing businesses, farmers and families.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW called on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to declare nuclear options weren’t on the table.

“Renewables are by far the cheapest, cleanest and most sustainable way to meet our energy needs,” chief executive Kate Smolski said in a statement.

She said nuclear power was “dirty, dangerous and expensive” and could leave a “toxic legacy”.

Ms Smolski challenged Mr Barilaro to explain which electorate would house a nuclear reactor, uranium processing plant and radioactive waste dumps.

The NSW Greens energy spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said Mr Barilaro’s comments showed the party was out of touch with the community.

“This is just another nutty, extreme idea from the National Party who is stuck in the wrong century pushing coal and nuclear and ignoring the massive renewable energy potential of Australia,” he said.

May 20, 2017 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

New South Wales govt about to go all enthusiastic about nuclear power?

Nuclear power on the agenda in NSW as Deputy Premier claims ‘we’ve been led by fear and mistruths’ ABC News By state political reporter Lucy McNally, 19 May 17, New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro has put nuclear energy on the agenda, arguing it would help secure the state’s power supply in the future.

Mr Barilaro, the leader of the NSW Nationals, will address his party’s annual conference in Broken Hill today, where he will make the case for a nuclear debate.

“I’m challenging my members to look for exciting solutions and think about the generations to come,” he said.”We live in a resource-rich nation, where energy should be our competitive advantage, but we’ve had the settings wrong, we’ve been led by political correctness and unfortunately by fear and mistruths.”

Mr Barilaro said those “mistruths” had stifled debate……

“Look at France, they currently rely heavily on nuclear energy which they import from places next door like the Czech Republic and other European nations,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Yet they have made a commitment to build a plant in France. Places like the US and Korea have all decided to look at building nuclear plants.”….. [ed note – this is simply incorrect

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was not convinced of the merits of nuclear power.

“My view always is that science and safety have to stack up, on anything,” she said.

“So I’m in the camp of the jury’s still out.”

Ms Berejiklian said she was open to discussing the issue, including at the next Council of Australian Governments meeting in June…….

The State Opposition’s energy spokesman, Adam Searle, has dismissed the comments as a “thought bubble”. “The fact is nuclear energy is enormously expensive, consumes huge amounts of water — and of course Australia doesn’t have a lot of spare water — to say nothing of the environmental issues,” he said.

“Who’s going to build it? Who’s going to fund it? It’s just ridiculous.”

May 20, 2017 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) goes for smarter ways to deal with electricity supply and demand

The demand response proposal signals greater co-operation between AEMO and ARENA, particularly on the integration of renewables. A trial using wind energy to provide frequency control is to be held in South Australia next month.

AEMO looks at smarter ways to deal with extreme peaks and heatwaves By Giles Parkinson on 19 May 2017 The new direction of a rejuvenated Australian Energy Market Operator is starting to take shape, with the organisation announcing plans to have 100MW of demand response capacity in the Victorian and South Australian markets in time for the summer peaks and heatwaves.

The program, being run jointly with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, signals a tangible change in focus for AEMO, and the market in general, in finding smarter ways to manage supply and demand rather than simply building more fossil fuel plants and poles and wires.

AEMO’s new CEO Audrey Zibelman is already a champion of demand response and it was one of the major levers that she pulled when running New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision program that aims for more decentralised power, and 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

In the PJM market, one of the biggest in the US, demand response accounts for 10 per cent of total capacity, and Zibelman sees no reason why it cannot grow to be at least 30 per cent of the Australian market.

That’s because Australia has a ready-made investment in the technologies that are needed. More than 1.6 million homes and businesses have installed rooftop solar, and many of these will install battery storage as well.

“If you have solar on your roof and you are putting in storage, it is saying that during certain hours of the day you use solar to charge up the battery, and then, rather than relying on grid, you reduce demand on the grid. For us (the grid operator) that’s the same as increasing generation.”

Zibelman says it is an obvious solution to provide a price signal to use these resources, as well as rewarding others – such as manufacturers and large businesses – for cutting back on their power usage at critical moments, rather than spending more money on new plant.

“If we can reduce the amount of demand, that has the same benefit as the grid, and is a lot less expensive than building a new power plant that is only used for a few hours a year,” she says. Continue reading

May 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment

Australia should not throw away $1 billion on a destructive and doomed Adani coal project

The first stage currently being discussed involves a total investment of around $5 billion, of which the Australian public is supposed to contribute at least a $1 billion.

we may easily end up with the worst of all worlds: no royalties and few jobs for a project that will contribute massively to environmental destruction both locally and globally.

We shouldn’t throw it away on a doomed project that will leave us with, at best, a stranded asset and a legacy of massive environmental damage.

There are better things to spend $1 billion on than the Adani coal mine, Brisbane Times, John Quiggin, 18 May 17 

Ever since taking office, the Palaszczuk government has been walking a tightrope with respect to the Adani Group’s proposed Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin.

On the one hand, it’s obvious that the project is both environmentally disastrous and economically dubious. The government has been keen to avoid putting public money into this mess. On the other hand, if the project falls over, as still appears quite likely, the government is keen to avoid the blame.

The supposed benefits of 10,000 jobs and billions of dollars in royalties make an appealing case to voters at any time and particularly with the mining boom on the edge of failing. For most of the past 18 months, the government has managed the tightrope act successfully, but now it appears to be on the verge of falling. Adani is pushing for a ‘holiday’ from royalties, which might last as long as nine years. The project may go ahead if the government accepts, but the promised benefits to the Queensland public will disappear into the never-never.

The holiday is supposed to be temporary, but that’s unlikely.  Continue reading

May 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Australia isn’t trying to stop global warming. We’re subsidising it.

Palaszczuk and Turnbull governments are Adani mine’s lonely fans, Canberra Times, Ebony Bennett, 20 May 17 Australia isn’t trying to stop global warming. We’re subsidising it.

While the ACT is on track to source 100 per cent of our electricity from renewable energy by 2020, Queensland’s state government is doubling down on the No. 1 contributor to climate change: coal. Despite banks, economists and Australians in general showing little interest in handing Indian coal giant Adani billions of dollars to dig up a heap of carbon, many politicians just can’t seem to wait to throw your money at it. The Queensland government’s enthusiasm is exceeded only by that of Turnbull government ministers, who have taken to fondling lumps of coal on the floor of Parliament.

Ten days before the last Queensland election, then opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk blasted the Newman’s government for picking winners and losers, warning: “What we’re seeing at the moment is Campbell Newman throwing a bucket of taxpayers’ cash … at one particular company [Adani].”

She further promised that “Queenslander taxpayers’ money is not going to be used to fund commercial operations”. She then went on to win the election in one of Australia’s biggest political upsets.

Coal subsidies are unpopular

Despite being elected on a “no subsidies” platform, the Palaszczuk government has since offered Adani free water (in the form of an unlimited, unchallengeable water licence), free coal (in the form of a reported $320 million “royalty holiday”) and a possible 39-year raincheck on the clean-up bill. It’s also on track for a $1 billion subsidised loan for its rail line from the federal government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.

At this rate, we’ll soon be paying Adani to dig up our coal. And voters don’t appear to be impressed. Continue reading

May 20, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

UK election manifestoes: they are losing faith in nuclear power!

It now looks increasingly as if the Hinkley C project may be quietly shelved, or even cancelled, with the agreement of both UK and French governments.

And beyond that the prospects for new nuclear power in the UK have never been gloomier. The only way new nuclear power stations will ever be built in the UK is with massive political and financial commitment from government. That commitment is clearly absent.

So yes, this finally looks like the end of the UK’s ‘nuclear renaissance’. Not with a bang, nor even with a whimper, but with a deep and profoundly meaningful silence. Not a moment too soon.

Conservative election manifesto signals the end of new nuclear power, Ecologist, Oliver Tickell & Ian Fairlie, 18th May 2017  After years of pro-nuclear bombast from the Conservative Party, its 2017 manifesto hasn’t got a single word to say about nuclear power, write Oliver Tickell & Ian Fairlie. Instead it announces a renewed focus on cutting energy costs, and a big boost for increasingly low-cost wind power; while both Labour and Libdems offer only weak, highly qualified support for new nuclear build. And so the great British ‘nuclear renaissance’ reaches its timely end.

All of a sudden the UK’s political parties want to have nothing to do with nuclear power.

This much is clear from the party manifestos – notably that of the Conservative Party, published yesterday. Continue reading

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

France names ex Greens candidate and solar advocate as energy minister Emiliano Bellini on 19 May 2017 PV Magazine

Newly appointed energy minister Nicolas Hulot is a well-known journalist and environmentalist which has had a leading role in the French Green Party (Europe Écologie-Les Verts) in the past, and has always supported solar through his foundation.

Nicolas Hulot has been named new France’s new energy and environment minister in the cabinet led by the new prime minister Edouard Philippe. Hulot’s ministry, which under the previous government was named Ministry of Energy, Ecology and Sustainable Development (MEEM), has been renamed into Ministry of the Ecological and Solidarity-based Transition. Continue reading

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


Comments on “ELECTRICITY NETWORK TRANSFORMATION ROADMAP: FINAL REPORT Energy Networks Australia and CSIRO Dennis Matthews, April 2017”

INTRODUCTION This 100-page document is a composite of two distinctly different contributions. The smaller part, which appears to be the work of CSIRO, is technical, relatively free of jargon, to the point, objective and mostly about computer modelling studies.

The majority of the report is loaded with jargon, feel-good words and phrases, and gives the general impression of a sales document. For example, “network platforms”, “service platform”, “incentivise”, “new information platforms will be required to animate new distributed energy resources”, “intelligent networks and markets”, “empowered”,        . This latter part is presumably the work of Energy Networks Australia.

CSIRO is a well known and generally respected government organisation. Energy Networks Australia comprises electricity low voltage distribution and high voltage transmission network companies.

The report is best understood from the point of view of electricity distribution and transmission monopolies that are seeing a rapid erosion of their businesses because of the rapid uptake of rooftop solar electricity generators and associated battery storage. These (rooftop solar + battery) systems are an emerging competitive threat to monopolistic electricity network companies, which are seeking to short-circuit the threat by co-opting these small, distributed electricity suppliers with a variety of financial “rewards”.

The report emphasises the “customer” and is almost entirely about how the electricity consumer-cum-generator (gensumer) will benefit from working with the distributor. There is no mention of how the electricity distributor will benefit from this arrangement.

The following comments use the same headings as the report.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY  After acknowledging the customer-driven nature of changes in the electricity system (“transformation on an unprecedented scale”), the report concludes:

“By connecting millions of customer owned generators and energy storage systems to each other, networks can act as platforms which help match supply and demand and reduce the need for inefficient duplication of energy investments.”


Under the heading “customer oriented electricity” we are promised that “transformed electricity networks actively connect customers with a growing range of market actors and customized electricity solutions”.

Under “Incentives and network regulation” there will be “A fairer system through active implementation of network tariff and retail pricing reform and modernised regulation and competition frameworks.” In the past, privatised electricity distribution networks have opposed regulation and have resisted attempts to constrain network tariffs, the latter causing expense to the electricity consumer through court costs, which are recovered from the consumer.

Achieving “full development of a customer oriented network” will require “a network optimisation market (NOM) where distributed energy resources services can be procured”. This new electricity market would be in addition to the present, strongly criticized, national electricity market (NEM).

The Roadmap is divided into two phases, the Foundation Phase (2017-22) and the Implementation Phase (2023-27). The former may be considered a realistic timeframe but the latter is highly speculative. It is the latter phase that is claimed to “deliver enhanced customer choice and value”.

“Optimisation” means greater use of the electricity network, which will undoubtedly be financially beneficial to the owners of the electricity network, but no data is given on how much of this financial benefit is passed on to the consumer; presumably this is “commercial in confidence”.

At no stage in the Roadmap is the effect of privatisation (vs public ownership) of the electricity distribution system evaluated.

The Roadmap supports “advanced metering” but only gives a broad description of what an “advanced meter” will do. For decades, the electricity industry has resisted the simple idea of having a meter placed where customers can get instantaneous feedback on usage and cost in a way that will help customers manage their demand. This has clear benefits to customers but would probably lower revenue to the electricity industry. Continue reading

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

Sweden cancels investigation of Julian Assange, removes arrest warrant

Sweden shuts down Julian Assange rape investigation, TT/The Local 19 May 2017, Swedish prosecutors have decided to end the rape investigation into Julian Assange and lift the Europe-wide arrest warrant against him, but UK police say they will still arrest him.In a statement on its website, the Swedish prosecution authority said that the “Director of Public Prosecution, Ms Marianne Ny, has today decided to discontinue the investigation regarding suspected rape (lesser degree) by Julian Assange”.


May 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

NASA have released chilling details about how Cold War nuclear tests affected our planet.

BOMBSHELL FINDING  Cold War nuclear weapons warped Earth’s magnetosphere – revealing what the true fallout could be if World War 3 broke out

Chaos sparked by Cold War nuke tests is only just becoming apparent – and it’s a chilling prediction of what might be in store for our fragile planet, The Sun By Margi Murphy, 19th May 2017 

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

Western Australia’s large-scale Greenough River solar farm to quadruple in size

Australia’s first large-scale solar farm to quadruple in size By Giles Parkinson on 19 May 2017

The Greenough River solar farm in Western Australia, the first large-scale solar farm in the country, plans to quadruple in size from 10MW to 40MW.

The plans by co-owners Synergy, the government-owned generator and retailer, and US energy giant General Electric, were unveiled in a submission to WA’s Economic Regulation Authority, and reveal that two new 15MW arrays will be built either side of the existing facility, around 50km south-east of Geraldton.

The new arrays, will use First Solar modules, as did the first, but unlike the first installation these will deploy single axis tracking technology to improve the yield. More than 90 per cent of solar farms in Australia are now using tracking technology. SMA is providing the inverters.

Synergy and GE say that the solar farm will seek a power purchase agreement, but presumably that will come from Synergy itself, as it is it the biggest utility in the state and has yet to meet all its renewable energy target commitments.

Greenough River was built in 2012 and remains the only solar farm connected to the main grid in Western Australia, although several other projects have begun, or are about to begin, construction. These include the 30MW Byford solar farm south-east of Perth and a 10MWW solar farm planned near Northam by Carnegie Clean Energy.

Across Australia, however, the large-scale solar boom is accelerating. Eight grid-connected large-scale solar farms have now been completed and another 30 are under construction, or have reached financial closure and are about to begin.

The joint owners of Greenough River says the solar plant, located on a wheat farm, “has been extremely warmly welcomed by what is a very small remote community. No public complaints or opposition have been received.”

May 20, 2017 Posted by | solar, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Turnbull government budget ignores health impacts of climate change

Shortsighted Budget 2017 ignores health impacts of climate change, Independent Australia  Kristine Barnden 19 May 2017, The Turnbull Government has once again prioritised growing the economy over human lives, writes Dr Kris Barnden.

ACTION TO PROTECT AUSTRALIA from climate change was a policy free zone in the 2017 Budget. Despite strong scientific and economic consensus on the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels, our government has prioritized efforts to grow the economy using a business as usual approach.

Doctors have been speaking out about the adverse health effects of climate change, as well as the health co-benefits of policies aimed at mitigating and adapting to climate change. In Australia, air pollution from coal fired power stations contributes a significant proportion of the over 3000 deaths per annum from pollution and a plea has been made by doctors for a rapid transition away from coal fired power.

Agriculture is another area where actions to reduce green house gas emissions are likely to be associated with multiple benefits, including health. In last week’s Budget, agriculture and regional Australia are seen as winners only from expenditure on rail. However, we need to recognize that agriculture is an important contributor to greenhouse emissions and also extremely vulnerable to their effects as recognized by the farming industry. These factors are budgetary items and need to be built into national financial policy. Indeed as President Obama has noted, food security is a world issue and we carry responsibility as a food exporter……….

Agriculture, the environment, the economy and human health interact at many levels, and we face significant difficulties on all fronts. All will be affected by climate change, and we cannot afford to consider each in isolation. We need strong leadership, and the ability to look beyond short term political and ideological considerations to longer term gains.

Dr Kristine Barnden is a member of the management committee of Doctors for the Environment Australia,10314

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

A nuclear ‘renaissance’ turns into a financial disaster

Plant Vogtle: Georgia’s nuclear ‘renaissance’ now a financial quagmire By Russell Grantham and Johnny Edwards – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  May 19, 2017

Southern Company’s chief executive has said more than once that the giant utility’s project to build two more nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle would be history-making.

He may be right, but not in the way he meant.

Years behind schedule, billions over budget, and with a key contractor’s bankruptcy clouding its future, the troubled Vogtle project near Augusta is fast becoming Exhibit A for why no U.S. utility before Atlanta-based Southern had tried building a new reactor in 30-plus years.

Most Georgians who get electric bills could eventually pay for overruns on the project that are likely to grow. Customers of Southern subsidiary Georgia Power already pay a Vogtle-related surcharge that adds about $100 a year to the average residential bill, with the ultimate effect on ratepayers yet to be determined.

Also uncertain is how the project will get done.

On March 29, Westinghouse Electric, the company that designed the new Vogtle reactors and eventually became the primary contractor on the project, filed for bankruptcy. As part of its Chapter 11 restructuring, the company is expected to ditch the fixed-cost contracts that led to billions in losses on its work at Plant Vogtle and a similar nuclear project in South Carolina. Continue reading

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


COAL IS BLOCKING LABOR’S EARS! #STOPADANI #AUSPOL #QLDOL #CLIMATECHANGE Leader of a Sinking Island Admonishes Trump on Climate Change The Prime Minister of Tuvalu, an island nation in the Pacific, is calling out President Donald Trump for his myopic views on coal and climate change.

Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga told Motherboard no country is seriously interested in fossil fuel expansion anymore.

No one in the US financial community wants to invest in fossil fuels, gas and oil projects are shutting down in the middle East.
“The US is going to be left behind.

The guy in the White House doesn’t understand that,” Sopoaga said at the UN energy forum in Vienna this week. There are more than a thousand energy experts and political leaders embracing renewable energy at this moment.

Just one example: All of India’s lighting will be replaced by LEDs by 2019, saving millions of dollars and reducing CO2 emissions by 18 million tonnes a year, according to Piyush Goyal India’s Minister of Energy.

This is far ahead of the US and nearly every other country. Continue reading

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

How renewable energy became unstoppable.

FT 18th May 2017, After years of hype and false starts, the shift to clean power has begun to accelerate at a pace that has
taken the most experienced experts by surprise. Even leaders in the oil and gas sector have been forced to confront an existential question: will the 21st century be the last one for fossil fuels?

It is early, but the evidence is mounting. Wind and solar parks are being built at unprecedented rates, threatening the business models of established power companies. Electric cars that were hard to even buy eight years ago are selling at an exponential rate, in the process driving down the price of batteries that hold the key to unleashing new levels of green growth.

There is another reason some energy industry watchers expect the green power sector to accelerate: the more costs fall and technologies improve, the less it needsm conventional subsidies.

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