Australian news, and some related international items

ACF welcomes waste dump dumping: Global radioactive waste dump plan is “dead”

The Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed the end of plans for an international high level radioactive waste dump in South Australia.

Earlier today Premier Jay Weatherill formally ruled out the controversial plan declaring it “dead” and “not something that will be progressed by the Labor Party in Government”.

“This is good news for South Australia and all Australians,” said ACF nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney. “The radioactive waste plan was ill-considered and the reality would have been permanent risk.”

The dump push came out of a state Royal Commission into the nuclear sector and attracted sustained opposition that included protest actions, rallies, tens of thousands of petitions and protest letters and widespread civil society and Aboriginal opposition.

The plan never enjoyed state or federal bi-partisan political support and was rejected by eighty percent of participants in a Citizens Jury process late last year.

“This plan has always lacked credibility and consent and today’s decision by the Premier is both overdue and welcome. “Above all it is a massive tribute to people power and the importance of speaking up and standing up and taking action for a cleaner and safer future,” said Sweeney.

In welcoming today’s reprieve on international waste plans ACF has reaffirmed its support for communities in regional South Australia currently facing the threat of a national radioactive waste facility.


June 7, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Delight as nuke dump plan buried for good

The state’s peak environment body has strongly welcomed today’s announcement from Premier Weatherill that he now considers the global nuclear waste dump is dead, vowing that Labor will not revisit if after the next state election.

In Victor Harbor at the Country Cabinet meeting on Monday the Premier said the plan was ‘dead’.  In today’s InDaily, the Premier went further confirming that  “It’s not something that will be progressed by the Labor Party in Government”.

“This is great news.  We are delighted the Premier has announced that he has no intention to re-visit the divisive debate on a global nuclear waste dump in SA if he is re-elected in March,” said Craig Wilkins, Conservation SA’s Chief Executive.

“The dump was a dead plan walking after last year’s huge and sustained community opposition which culminated in the Citizen’s Jury. With today’s commitment from the

Premier, the plan can now be buried for good.

“With the Marshall Liberal Opposition, along with Nick Xenophon and the Greens, also strongly opposed, this threat that South Australians have faced since the Royal Commission was announced two years ago is now over for the foreseeable future.

“This is a win for all the many South Australians who stood up and demanded a better option for our state than as a home for the world’s radioactive waste.

“Our state’s clean and green reputation is an enormous asset.  With our world-leadership in waste management and renewable energy, as well as our beautiful wild spaces under the seas and on land we have so much to celebrate.

“We now look forward to the Premier standing up for the people in Kimba and the Flinders Ranges fighting against the Turnbull Government’s push to impose radioactive waste from Sydney’s Lucas Height’s reactor onto their communities,” he said.

June 7, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill declares the nuclear waste importing plan “dead”

There’s no foreseeable opportunity for this”: Jay declares nuke dump “dead” INDaily,  Tom Richardson @tomrichardson, 7 June 17,

Premier Jay Weatherill has officially walked away from one of the major policy hallmarks of his term in Government, pronouncing the nuclear waste dump “dead” and vowing he will not revisit it if he wins another term in office.

The position appears a significant rhetorical shift from his stance last November, when he pledged to keep the debate alive ahead of a future referendum on the issue of nuclear waste storage, after his own Royal Commission found establishing a local industry could net a “$100 billion income in excess of expenditure”.

At the time, his position was seen by critics both inside the Labor Party and more broadly as a refusal to abandon the nuclear dream.

But asked about the future of the nuclear dump at a public forum in Victor Harbor this week, Weatherill declared the project “dead”.

“Yeah it is,” he reaffirmed to InDaily today……..

After the Victor Harbor forum, Conservation SA chief executive Craig Wilkins said the rhetorical shift should be enshrined in Labor policy, calling on Weatherill to “bury the nuke dump plan for good”.

“This dump plan has cost public funds and caused public concern… it’s now time for Premier Weatherill to formally and finally end it,” he said.


June 7, 2017 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Adani announces “green light” for expanded coal mine, but still hasn’t got the finance

Adani gives itself the green light, but that doesn’t change the economics of coal, The Conversation, Samantha Hepburn, 7 June 17  Director of the Centre for Energy and Natural Resources Law, Deakin Law School, Deakin University Indian mining firm Adani yesterday announced that its board had approved plans to proceed with the controversial Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.But it is still far from clear whether Adani has actually obtained the finance to proceed with the A$16.5 billion project, or whether it has secured the necessary A$1.1 billion loan from the government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility needed for the mine’s railway.

That hasn’t stopped the state government hailing the announcement as an economic win for Queensland, on the basis of job creation and for the signals it provides to potential investors in the region. But this amounts to little more than short-sighted politics. The government appears to be steadfastly ignoring the realities of the current energy landscape.

Let’s recap: coal mining is not economically viable within the constraints of a global carbon budget, while renewable energy production is rapidly expanding as the world moves to more sustainable investments. The result is that coal projects could become stranded assets, with price tags that may already exceed what would have been the costs of a timely implementation of climate action. Investors and lending institutions are shifting to sustainable projects that limit the risk of catastrophic environmental damage.

The people own the coal

The state government owns the coal resource, but it is a special type of ownership. This is “public resource” ownership, meaning that all decisions made by the state government to exploit it must be in the interest of the public as a whole.

Issuing resource titles that allow Adani to proceed with a vast coal mine – in defiance of the social, economic and environmental impacts of such a project within a carbon-constrained economy – arguably represents a dereliction of the state’s duty to act in the public interest.

It also ignores the fact that in order to have just a 50% chance of keeping global warming within 2℃, a key aim of the Paris climate agreement, 90% of Australia’s current coal reserves must stay in the ground. If the mine proceeds, it will contribute substantially to global warming and accelerate the destruction of one of the world’s greatest natural assets, the Great Barrier Reef. This could have huge knock-on effects for future tourism in the area, which generates A$6 billion a year.

The economics of the Adani coal mine simply do not make sense. While there may be limited short-term employment opportunities and royalty gains for the state should the project actually get financed, the longer-term projections are dire……..

In the end, the real question is whether any lending institution will seriously take a risk on this vast and irresponsible project, which ignores both the safety of the Great Barrier Reef and the fundamentals of carbon-constrained economics.

June 7, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Renewable energy now creating 13 times more jobs than nuclear power.

No2Nuclear  No 96 June 2017 According to the Office for National Statistics the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) direct jobs in the nuclear industry had declined to 12,400 by 2015, but about 9,400 of these workers do not produce electricity at all. They are engaged mostly in legacy nuclear waste management.

In 2015 ONS reported that the number of FTE direct jobs in the renewable forms of electricity generation had increased to 48,900 – about 16 times the number of jobs in nuclear electricity generation. (2) In 2015, 338 TWh of electricity was produced in the UK (DECC data). This comprised 70 TWh from nuclear, 85TWh from renewables and the rest from fossil fuels. (3) That amounts to about 43 jobs per TWh for nuclear and about 575 jobs per TWh for renewables. So not only are renewables cheaper than nuclear, but they also create around 13 times more jobs than nuclear power.

Offshore wind is becoming a double win for policymakers, according to Ray Thompson, Head of Business Development at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy. He says offshore wind is coming to represent a major challenge to competing technologies. The new Siemens blade manufacturing facility and project execution harbour in Hull which opened in December 2016 has already created 800 new jobs and the numbers on site will rise to over 1,000 when full production is reached. (4)

Renewable energy jobs could “offset” fossil-fuel job losses by 2030 according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017 presents the status of renewable energy employment, both by technology and in selected countries, over the past year. In this fourth edition, IRENA finds that renewable energy employed 9.8 million people around the world in 2016 – a 1.1% increase over 2015. Jobs in renewables, excluding large hydropower, increased by 2.8% to reach 8.3 million in 2016. China, No2NuclearPower nuClear news No.96, June 2017 8 Brazil, the United States, India, Japan and Germany accounted for most of the renewable energy jobs. The shift to Asia continued, with 62% of the global total located in the continent. (5) Nuclear Power and Jobs

A policy which promotes nuclear power significantly diminishes the prospects of creating new jobs in renewable energy industries – in establishing an offshore wind manufacturing base for instance.

Nuclear power is a capital intensive industry, which means it requires a much higher injection of money to produce its final product – it is not a very efficient way of creating jobs. If there were an alternative way of providing or saving the same amount of electricity, but at the same time creating more jobs, clearly that would be a strategy worth pursuing.

One way of comparing the number of jobs created by different energy sources is to calculate the number of jobs for each Terawatt hour (TWh–1 billion kilowatt hours) generated annually. This, of course, will depend on the performance of the generating station. So a new 1.6GW reactor employing 500 people which operates an average of 80% of the time will be providing 45 jobs per TWh. Goldemberg has estimated the number of jobs created per TWh of power generated and found that nuclear produces around 75 jobs per terawatt hour (TWh), whereas wind power produces 918 – 2,400 per TWh. Solar photovoltaics provides 29,580 – 107,000 jobs/TWh. (1)

June 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How renewable energy has become unstoppable

NuClear News No.96 June 2017,   What was remarkable about Donald Trump’s announcement on 1st June that the US would abandon the Paris climate agreement was not the almost universal condemnation of the move, but the number of stories about how successful renewable energy has become and how its advance has now become unstoppable.

Donald Trump is so wrong to be taking the US out of the Paris accord on climate change, says Jeremy Warner in the Daily Telegraph. The renewables train has already left the station and won’t now be stopped. Non binding targets for reducing greenhouse gases are no longer relevant and will almost certainly be naturally exceeded of their own accord without any help from inter-government actions. There is therefore absolutely no reason for the US to withdraw. (1)

Although President Donald Trump has presented his energy policy decisions as being focused on creating jobs, the solar and wind industries that could be threatened by leaving the Paris accord employ many more people than the coal industry that is likely to be the principal beneficiary. About 374,000 people spend at least some of their time working in the solar power industry in the US, with 260,000 of those working there more than half the time. A further 102,000 work in wind power. Together that is almost three times the 160,000 people employed in the coal industry, with about 86,000 of those at coal-fired power plants and 74,000 in coal mining and distribution. The number employed in coal mining has dropped from about 89,000 of those at coal-fired power plants and 74,000 in coal mining and distribution Continue reading

June 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South Australia reaches its renewable energy target 8 years in advance

South Australia already at 57% wind and solar in 2016/17 By Giles Parkinson on 6 June 2017 

The South Australian government’s official target for renewable energy is 50 per cent of local demand by 2025. According to the Australian Energy Regulator, it didn’t just reach that target in 2016/17, eight years early, it is literally blowing past it.

Data released in the AER’s state of the energy market report released last week suggests that the combined contribution of large scale wind power and rooftop solar PV has already reached 57 per cent in the first nine months of 2016/17.

The report showed that wind power accounted for 38 per of the state’s demand in 2015/16, jumped to about 43 per cent in calendar 2016, and then jumped even further in 2016/17 as new wind farms such as Snowtown and Hornsdale came on line.

“In the nine months to 31 March 2017, the contribution of wind generation was even greater, supplying 50 per cent of South Australia’s electricity,” the AER says.

Add in the at least 7.6 per cent contribution from rooftop solar – the AER report says that the 728MW of rooftop solar contributed 7.6 per cent of South Australia’s annual energy requirements in 2015–16 – that takes the state up to at leat 57 per cent for the nine months to the end of March.

That figure is expected to jump again as households and businesses continue to add rooftop solar, and as the third 109MW stage of the Hornsdale wind project comes on line.

Over the next year, the 220MW Bungala solar project and the 212MW Lincoln Gap wind farm, both near Port Augusta, will also come on line, taking the state up towards 65 per cent renewables, and there are numerous other projects said to be near the point of financial close.

As we reported in April, The Australian Energy Market Operator predicts that the state is heading towards 80 per cent renewable energy by 2021/22, saying that capacity of large scale renewables (wind and solar) will double to around 3,100MW over the next five years.

Those additions could be affected, however, by the structure of the state’s proposed energy security target, and whether it allows wind and solar farms to be paired with battery storage, or whether its insistence on “real inertia) (i.e. from spinning turbines) results in curtailment of wind and solar.

AEMO also expects the amount of rooftop solar capacity in South Australia to double and reach over 1500 MW by 2025, by which time the state’s minimum demand could on occasions be met entirely by rooftop solar, suggesting the need for something smarter to happen with battery storage.

Interestingly, the AER notes that the wild swings in prices often attributed to high renewable energy penetration are in fact being matched by states with rely almost exclusively on coal and gas.

This is because the prices are, in the end, set by the high price of gas-fired generation, and often manipulated when states have few major generators. Both South Australia and Queensland are dominated by just two or three major generation companies, and this is seen as a major cause of the problem

The AERs analysis shows that the most number of price spikes occurred in Tasmania in recent years, thanks to the failure of its Basslink cable, the drought that depleted its hydro resources and the subsequent reliance on fossil fuel generation.

The number of price spikes in South Australia and Queensland is roughly even, although the South Australia number is higher for the latest year after the work on the upgrade to the inter-connector to Victoria saw the gas generators in the state push prices to the maximum level on multiple occasions.

June 7, 2017 Posted by | energy, South Australia | Leave a comment

Religious leaders in active opposition to Adani coal mine project

NSW religious leaders join Adani protests, Herald Sun Dominica Sanda and Greta Stonehouse, Australian Associated Press, June 5, 2017 Ten Buddhist and Christian leaders rallied inside the Darling Harbour office on Monday holding signs with messages including “People of faith say rule out Adani” and “Grandpa what did you do about global warming?”

June 7, 2017 Posted by | New South Wales, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

From the doctors’ point of view, promoting Adani coal mine is just like promoting tobacco

Medical experts say lending to Adani is the same as supporting big tobacco High-profile doctors say Carmichael coalmine poses a ‘grave danger to public health’, including from air pollution and black lung disease, Guardian, Melissa Davey 6 June 2017, Lending money to Indian mining giant Adani to build a rail line for the Carmichael coal project is akin to supporting big tobacco to transport hundreds of tonnes of tobacco to market, an eminent former surgeon and the chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia, Prof Kingsley Faulkner, said.Faulkner made the comment in a letter to the chair of the government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (Naif), Sharon Warburton, in which he urged her and other board members to rule out an investment loan to build the rail line from the mine at the Galilee basin in Queensland to the Abbot Point port.

He wrote that the Carmichael mine posed a “grave danger to public health both in Australia and globally”, given coalmines leading to a resurgence among mine workers of a chronic, irreversible and previously eradicated lung condition known as black lung disease.

The pollution from coal also causes childhood asthma, heart and lung disease, and some cancers, he added.

“Going ahead with it will send a terrible message to the world – [that] we in Australia really don’t care about the planet, or its inhabitants,” Faulkner wrote.

“Additionally, it will create an infrastructure for the potential development of up to eight other coalmines in the region.”…….

A number of high-profile doctors and researchers were signatories to Faulkner’s letter, including leading child and public health researcher Prof Fiona Stanley and the former chair of the Western Sydney Local Health District Board, Prof Stephen Leeder. Both are members of Doctors for the Environment Australia’s scientific advisory committee…….

June 7, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

The “dark money” behind U.S.climate denial

Trump, the Paris Climate Agreement and Scrooge McDuck,,10369 Independent Australia,  Jim Pembroke 6 June 2017To understand Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord we only need to follow the money behind climate change denial, writes Jim Pembroke.THE WORLD’S collective jaw dropped the other day, when U.S President Donald Trump announced he was pulling the plug on the Paris Climate Accord.

Sure, we knew it was coming, but no one thought it would really happen. We figured the whole Russian thing would destroy Trump long before he got a chance to destroy the planet. But quicker than you can say, anthropogenic climate change, the Yanks were gone.

But who is really to blame for this mess? Angry white men, people who didn’t vote, Donald Trump and his troupe of bad impersonators?

For an answer to this we need to dip our toes – once again– into the murky waters of secret donations, clandestine organisations and fictional Disney characters. This is a tale about the unidentified rich who sit high on a stack of cash in their air-conditioned money vaults, while secretly bankrolling climate change denial. The Scrooge McDucks of this world.

An imaginary Disney character is about as close as we’ll get to the identity of these cloak and dagger contributors, because the hundreds of millions of dollars they donate to climate denial organisations are routed via third party payments.

This “dark money” is channelled anonymously through conservative organisations, like Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, whose stated mission is a commitment to “liberty”. Now that sounds fine until you realise that this includes the freedom to fund think tanks and activists who spread disinformation and confusion, scorning global warming and climate science.

Despite all the cloak and dagger stuff, the donations of some of these wealthy birds have been well documented. The fossil fuel industry and, in particular, ExxonMobil and the Koch family, have considerable history in the climate denial space. Exxon have been accused of covering up climate change research and American businessman Charles Koch has reportedly funded climate denial activity to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

But it’s not just the wealthy ducks from the fossil fuel sector feeding the mayhem. Even companies who publically declare their grand support for climate action have made political donations to climate deniers. Google, Microsoft, eBay have all contributed to politicians who oppose climate legislation, while at the same time spruiking their own climate credentials to the public. The subsequent self-serving rationalisation of these Scrooge McDucks is evidence: there’s at least one thing they want more than improving the environment, their huge bank balances.

Likely, there were many factors affecting the decision to pull out of the Paris Accord. But without the confusion sewn by secretly funded denialists, it’s likely that rational, scientific thought would have won the day and the U.S. might still be part of the Paris Accord. However, the Scrooge McDucks of this world could never allow their ideology of money to be threatened by regulations — whether climate change is real or not.

You see, failing crops, water shortages, or savage storm events may wreak havoc on the rest of us, but won’t really affect the billionaires and corporations.

Like Uncle Scrooge, they’ll be swimming high on their mountains of coins, always safe from the rising waters of global warming.

June 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Major commercial shopping sites in NSW and South Australia to go solar

Four shopping centres to go behind the meter in major commercial solar deal, REneweconomy, By Sophie Vorrath on 6 June 2017 One Step Off The GridOne of Australia’s biggest shopping centre owners, SCA Property Group, has joined the march to solar, after signing a deal to power four of its major commercial sites cross regional New South Wales and South Australia with a combined total of 2.9 MW of rooftop PV.

In an ASX announcement on late last week, Queensland-based solar supplier ReNu Energy said it had entered an agreement with SCA Property to own and operate solar PV and embedded network systems across four shopping centres, for a period of 10 years with an additional three, five year options……..

June 7, 2017 Posted by | New South Wales, solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel to report on Australia’s energy options

Finkel’s fine line through Australia’s testy power politics By Giles Parkinson on 5 June 2017  It now seems certain that chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel will deliver a range of options for government policy makers when presenting his review to the COAG ministers and leaders this Friday.

There will be mention of the emissions intensity scheme, but because a carbon price of any form is not on the menu of this Coalition government, other more “palatable” alternatives will be on offer, including a low emissions target, an option on pairing new renewables with storage or back-up and, possibly, a pathway for regulation.

All have their merits. But as in any policy, the devil will be in the detail and the way these schemes are designed – for the future or the past. And it is going to be interesting to see how Finkel presents his case. Will it be his view of what should be done? Or will it be focused on what can be managed in the current political environment?

Certainly, there is a growing chorus among politicians and the mainstream media that something should be done. But there is not a lot of thought into what these policies can actually achieve, even though they should obviously seek to meet climate targets and manage the energy transition efficiently and at lowest cost.

 And already we are running into problems. Two significant reports from three leading institutions were delivered to the Australian government last Friday that show that wind and solar is the cheapest avenue to a decarbonised grid.

The problem was that none of the institutions could bring themselves to actually say it: that wind and solar are by far cheaper than coal and gas and any “other low-carbon technologies”.

The Australian Energy Markets Commission and the Climate Change Authority reinforced their support for an emissions intensity scheme (EIS), and only saw a low emissions target (LET) as a second-best measure. Once again, those recommendations simply reinforce preconceived ideas, and lousy modelling.

Both institutions came out strongly in support of an EIS last year, but as we pointed out at the time,

here and here, these positions were based on hopelessly pessimistic modelling inputs on the cost of solar and wind.

The AEMC said, then, that an EIS would be $15 billion cheaper for consumers than other options, but this was based on ridiculous assumptions, on the cost of solar energy in particular, as we highlighted in this story: Australia’s energy rule-maker hasn’t a clue about renewable energy.

Even a minor adjustment to their absurdly high forecast of solar costs showed that a high renewable energy target would deliver $15 billion in cost savings to consumers. But that conclusion, included in their own report, wasn’t highlighted.

If realistic costs of renewables and gas had been used, then it is safe to assume that the results would have shown that a high renewables policy would deliver significantly more savings than a gas-focused policy.

The tragedy is that the AEMC and CCA have now released data that confirms that those modelling assumptions were completely out of whack, but they have done nothing about it.

The independent assessment from the Centre of International Economics confirms RenewEconomy‘s observations that their modelling for both the AEMC and the CCA report used renewable energy prices (way too high) and gas prices (way too low) that were well out of the ball park.

June 7, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Seven more Fukushima residents diagnosed with thyroid cancer

Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

7 new thyroid cancers in Fukushima but don’t worry: Hokuto Hoshi, head of the panel and vice chair of the prefectural medical association, called it “unlikely” that radiation was responsible for the increase.

more thyroid cancersJune 6  2017 .jpgA boy undergoes a thyroid cancer test at a hospital. The Fukushima Prefectural Government said seven more residents who were aged 18 or under at the time of the 2011 nuclear disaster have been found to have thyroid cancer.

FUKUSHIMA – Seven more Fukushima Prefecture residents who were aged 18 or under at the time of the 2011 nuclear accident have been found to have thyroid cancer, the prefectural government said Monday.

The number of Fukushima residents suffering from thyroid cancer now totals 152, the prefectural government said in a meeting of an expert panel.

Hokuto Hoshi, head of the panel and vice chair of the prefectural medical association, called it “unlikely” that radiation was responsible for…

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June 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Personal account of situation from Naoko Suzuki, “voluntary evacuee” from Fukushima

June 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tepco’s hopes rest on dubious reform plan, new 77-year-old chief

Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

Former Hitachi chairman to become troubled utility’s chairman in June

20170524-Tepco-77-year-old-chief_article_main_imageIncoming Tepco Chairman Takashi Kawamura, left, speaks at a press conference in Tokyo on April 3, alongside incoming President Tomoaki Kobayakawa and current President Naomi Hirose.

TOKYO — The incoming leadership team at Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings. faces an uphill battle. Turning around the struggling utility will require pushing ahead with badly needed reforms and overcoming deep internal divisions.

Takashi Kawamura, a 77-year-old former Hitachi chairman who currently serves as the industrial conglomerate’s chairman emeritus, will become chairman of Japan’s biggest utility, succeeding 76-year-old Fumio Sudo.

Tomoaki Kobayakawa, a 53-year-old Tepco director, will become president, taking over from 64-year-old Naomi Hirose, who will become a vice chairman with no representation rights.

The new team is set to be approved on June 23 at a shareholders meeting.

Difficult target

Tepco, still reeling from the 2011 meltdowns at one of its nuclear…

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June 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment