Australian news, and some related international items

Whether or not Trump is sane, Australia will follow him into nuclear war

Australia is being dragged into US wars, Green Left  TONY ILTIS, September 9, 2017The threat of nuclear annihilation is closer than at any time since the end of the Cold War as two heads of state use nuclear weapons as props in what looks like a fight between two adolescent boys.

On one side is a narcissistic bully, born to inherit great power and with credible reports that his personal life includes indulging in acts of sadism, whose policies in government are driven by a combination of xenophobia, ego and whim and who is threatening nuclear Armageddon if he doesn’t get his way.

On the other side is North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

In a situation where Russia’s belligerent President Vladimir Putin is able to play the role of a level-headed voice of sanity, some Western countries are distancing themselves from US President Donald Trump, or at least urging caution. But not Australia……

Since the 1940s, Australian governments of both parties have been keen to promote Australia as Washington’s most loyal ally, regardless of the sanity of the incumbent US president. The policy is based on the premise that if Australia unquestioningly follows the US into any war, the US, the world’s most powerful imperialist state, will look after Australian capitalists’ global interests.

This policy has led to Australian involvement in numerous wars, from Korea in the 1950s, and Vietnam in the ’60s and ’70s, to more recent conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. This policy has also allowed Australian mining companies to operate across the globe, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, to Romania and Chile, making huge profits at a horrific cost to the environment, workers and local communities.

The devastation wrought by the Korean War is the reason for the North Korean regime’s xenophobic paranoia. While the media generally portrays Kim Jong-un as mad, and provides no further explanation for North Korea’s nuclear program, the fact that Iran continues to suffer sanctions despite abandoning its nuclear weapons program and Iraq was invaded after getting rid of its weapons of mass destruction, points to some rationality in North Korea’s approach.

It also points to grotesque hypocrisy on the part of the West: the largest nuclear powers declaring that it is unacceptable for other countries to have nuclear weapons. North Korea was not responsible for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and it has not used the populations of any Pacific Island nations as guinea pigs in nuclear tests.

On July 8, when the UN General Assembly supported a resolution to ban nuclear weapons, Australia joined the nuclear powers in boycotting the session.

On July 21, Trump announced an escalation of the US presence in Afghanistan. Attempting to portray his policy as distinct from his predecessors’, he said the US role in Afghanistan would now be “killing terrorists” not nation building……..

September 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

11 nuclear power plants lie in the path of Hurricane Irma

What Lies In Irma’s Path, Five Thirty Eight, By Rachael DottleRitchie King and Ella Koeze, what lies in that path? We can’t say for sure, but within the so-called cone of uncertainty for Irma, there are 11 nuclear power plants, hundreds of hospitals and a slew of hazardous waste containment sites that could become sources of environmental contamination.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment



The Federal Government has released the shortlist of six sites for the location of a national radioactive waste dump.  Three of these sites are in South Australia.

Friends of the Earth Adelaide is cautious about the Federal Governments genuine commitment to a voluntary site nomination and selection process.

“The test will be how the government handles community opposition, how inclusive and transparent the site selection process will be, and how it will handle the issue of existing South Australian legislation banning the establishment of a nuclear waste dump,” said Nectaria Calan of Friends of the Earth Adelaide.

The National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012, the Act governing the site selection process, over-rides existing state legislation prohibiting the establishment of a nuclear waste dump.

“Will the Federal Government impose a nuclear waste dump on states that have legislated against it, or communities that do not want it?” asked Ms Calan.

“The location of a waste dump cannot simply be decided through individual nominations,” said Ms Calan.  “It affects the wider community, particularly those in close proximity to the site.  Radioactive contamination knows no property boundaries.  The principle of voluntarism extends beyond the individual where an action has wider ramifications,” continued Ms Calan.

“There is yet to be an independent inquiry into all our radioactive waste management options, so the nominations process is premature,” said Ms Calan.

Additionally, here in South Australia the Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle is considering the feasibility of an international nuclear waste dump.

“Will a national nuclear waste repository in SA be the trojan horse for an international high level nuclear waste dump down the track?” asked Ms Calan.

“Rather than considering existing nuclear waste in Australia as an intractable problem, the SA government and some proponents of the nuclear industry seem to consider radioactive waste a business opportunity and want to import it, astounding given that so far globally there has been no success in establishing even one facility for the long term storage of high level waste.”

“ The one deep underground repository for intermediate level waste that does exist, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico, saw an incident in February last year where a waste barrel exploded, leading to an aboveground release of airborne radiation, after only 15 years in operation,” said Ms Calan. “According to the US Department of Energy, twenty-two workers tested positive to low-level radiation exposure.”

Friends of the Earth Adelaide has serious concerns regarding the regulatory framework that may be applied to a nuclear waste dump in South Australia, whether national or international.

“BHP Billiton, operator of the Olympic dam mine, is exempt from key regulating legislation in SA, including the Freedom of Information Act, and parts of the Radiation Protection and Control Act and the Environmental Protection Act. With such a precedent here in SA for the regulation of the nuclear industry, where is the guarantee that other nuclear projects such as a nuclear waste dump would not also be exempt from laws regulating radiation, environmental protection, and transparency?” asked Ms. Calan.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Nationals rally against Clean Energy Target plan

Nationals rally against energy plan
The Nationals have fired a warning shot across Malcolm Turnbull’s bow by passing a motion opposing the proposed Clean Energy Target…. (subscribers only)

September 11, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian politicians’ mindless backing of Trump

Australian politicians back Trump’s unhinged nuclear threats, Red Flag, MICK ARMSTRONG, 11 SEPT 17, We are facing the greatest threat of nuclear war since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis: a nuclear war that would make the terrible destruction the US wreaked on the defenceless populations of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki seem like a kindergarten affair.

What is the response of the Australian government? It has gone out of its way to declare its full-blooded support for a warmongering US president who has promised “fire and fury” against North Korea.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull announced he was “absolutely of one mind” with Donald Trump over North Korea after a “very warm” 30 minute phone conversation with the US president on 6 September.

Previously, Turnbull had proclaimed that “we are joined at the hip” with the US.:……

This belligerent rhetoric is simply egging on Trump, who tweeted that the US “is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea”. If this threat were carried out, it would devastate US trade with China and plunge the world economy into depression, throwing tens of millions of workers across the globe out of their jobs……

Meanwhile, in an attempt to outdo Turnbull’s warmongering, former PM Tony Abbott has called for Australia urgently to consider a missile defence system. If adopted, this proposal would provoke a regional arms race and divert billions of dollars away from vitally needed public services.

Labor’s stance has been virtually indistinguishable from the Liberals’. Bill Shorten said, “Australians should be reassured that on this matter of North Korea and our national security, the politics of Labor and Liberal are working absolutely together……

The Greens reacted angrily to Turnbull’s comments – accusing him of inflaming tensions in the region.

“What we’ve got is two dangerous, paranoid and unhinged world leaders goading each other into a conflict which puts the very survival of each and every person on the planet at risk”, Greens leader Richard Di Natale said. “If there was ever a clearer example of why Australia needs to ditch the US alliance and develop an independent, non-aligned foreign policy, this is it.”……

September 11, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

A Hiroshima nuclear bombing survivor remembers

A Hiroshima survivor’s apocalyptic tale underscores Japanese abhorrence for the Bomb, Straits Times, Ravi Velloor, Associate Editor, 9 Sept 17  “……Mrs Yoshiko Kajimoto, now a sprightly 86, experienced the blast first-hand. She knows something of wars: She had just entered secondary school when the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out and in the sixth grade when the Pacific War, as Japanese call World War II, broke out. And she was in the 9th grade when the bomb arrived.

Middle school kids were mobilised for the war effort. For this reason, she was in a factory making propeller parts, 2.5km from the blast centre when the moment came.

“It was a clear day without the trace of a cloud,” she said, hands and voice steady as she recounted the trauma. “It had been warm since early morning and there were no warnings of an air raid.”

Then, a flash of light.

“The faces of my parents and my grandfather passed before my eyes and I thought I was dead. It was as though Earth had exploded.”

As she had been trained to do, Mrs Kajimoto pressed her fingers to her eyes to prevent them from falling out of their sockets, as the shock wave arrived moments later, meanwhile trying to scramble to safety under the machines.

“My body was lifted up and I passed out of consciousness. When I came to, my friend, stuck under a machine was whimpering: ‘Help me, Mother. Help me, Teacher!’ My shoulders and legs were trapped. I shook my head and the ash fell from my mouth. The flesh had been ripped off my bones. The factory roof had collapsed. I knew I was alive only because of the pain. People had gone insane. In the distance, I heard someone wail: ‘Hiroshima is gone’.”

Mrs Kajimoto tore off her blouse to put a tourniquet on her bleeding friend, and used her school headband to fasten it further. Around her was a scene so ghoulish that it was worse than the worst nightmares.

People had their nails ripped out, faces had puffed up like balloons, lips had turned inside out. A fellow student approached her, one hand holding a nearly torn-off arm. Suddenly, she knelt before her, and slumped to the ground, dead.

Fires raged everywhere. A mother holding a dead baby was spinning around, insanely.

Then, incredibly, the 14-year-old felt fear leave her as she stepped over bodies and on shiny skin as she helped carry friends to nearby Oshiba Park.

Then, the cremations started and a foul smell spread through the city. There were maggots everywhere, including on her own body.

On the third day, she heard her own neighbourhood was safe, and she staggered towards her home, meeting her father along the way. He had gone to the factory and turned over each body as he looked for her. Seeing her, he broke down and extracted a ball of rice he had been carrying in his pocket as a good luck charm.

For the next few weeks, she was bed-ridden, her grandmother removing maggots from her body with chopsticks.

Two months later, a doctor arrived to remove glass shards from her body. A year and a half later, the father died vomiting blood.

“He had probably been affected by the radiation from walking three days in the city,” she said. “Those days there was no concept of radiation, because it is colourless and odourless.”

Mrs Kajimoto herself suffered gastric cancer in later years and had two-thirds of her stomach removed.

Then peace arrived, and so did poverty. She had to provide for three brothers and food was frequently short.

“For the dead it was hell. For the survivors it was hell too.”

Mrs Kajimoto’s husband died 17 years ago, and she has two daughters, eight grandkids and two great grandchildren. Her fortunes have improved but for five decades, she said, she didn’t want to talk about her experience, until a grandson convinced her she must tell her story. That’s how I got to hear of it.

“I do not ask for disarmament, but I demand abolition of nuclear weapons,” she told me. “Nuclear weapons are an absolute evil and cannot exist with human beings. I do not want Hiroshima, or Nagasaki, to be repeated anywhere.”

“Am I concerned over the North Korean situation? Of course, I am. And I believe, that is the sentiment with the young as well. I say that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should visit North Korea (for talks) even at the risk of his life.”

Is this point of view limited to the few thousands still around who saw the curse of Hiroshima? Not hardly. After a week in Japan, I’d say that there are millions who share the same view.

Japan has all the technology in place to build a nuclear arsenal. From the moment a decision is taken to having ready bombs will probably take a few weeks, no more. But it will be a brave Japanese prime minister who orders those final turns of the screws for Japan’s first atomic bomb.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South Australia’s naval defence interests aiming for nuclear submarines, eventually?

Dan Monceaux Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia, 8 September 2017.

Naval defence interests (including ADF, ASC, DCNS, Thales) in the Port Adelaide area are expanding their presences as Australia’s Future Submarine Program advances. DCNS was awarded the contract in April 2016. The Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A was the chosen design.

The French fleet of Barracuda class submarines is being fitted with nuclear propulsion, provided by Areva. The Australian build is expected to use diesel propulsion, but the prospect of a hybrid (some diesel propelled, some nuclear) has been speculated upon.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Giles Parkinson on Australia’s Energy Comedy Show

Nationals demand “coal target” as energy politics spirals into loony fog, REneweconomy By Giles Parkinson on 11 September 2017 It barely seems believable, but the politics of energy has just gotten worse. A week that began with a bizarre push to extend the life of a decrepit, 50-year-old power plant in the hope of keeping the lights on, finished with the Nationals demanding that no further subsidies be given to renewable energy.

Instead, they said, they should be given to last century’s technology: coal. At their annual conference on the weekend, the National voted, in effect, for a coal energy target. It wants the federal government to give out loans to support the coal industry.

Nationals leader and deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce continued his bizarre riff about people being stuck in lifts, desperate to go to the loo, if the energy system had too much wind and solar. He seemed to think that closing Liddell in 2022 would cause the lights to go out in 2017.

Former resources minister, and Joyce’s ex chief of staff Matt Canavan, joined in, describing renewables as a “short term sugar hit” for jobs….

One sane voice at The Australian is Alan Kohler, who points out that despite the bluster of the Nationals and the conservatives within the Liberal Party, everybody knows coal-fired power stations must close if Australia is to meet the 2 degree commitment that everybody agreed to in 2015.

“The task of leadership is to prepare for that, not yearn for coal,” he writes.

“The Australian Energy Market Operator has made it clear the closures can be handled through demand management and some NEM redesign, with even more renewables and batteries, which is what’s happening anyway because that’s what businesses and investors want to invest in.

“There won’t be any new coal power stations, and the lives of existing ones won’t be extended unless the government, bizarrely and unnecessarily, pays for it.

“If that happened, it would bring about the final divorce of business and the Coalition, and the final retreat by Malcolm Turnbull into the loony fog inhabited by Donald Trump and the coal dancers on the Coalition’s right.”

September 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Devastating” Climate Change-Linked Floods Submerge Parts of South Asia

1,200 Die as “Devastating” Climate Change-Linked Floods Submerge Parts of South Asia      8 September 2017  Indian floods: Families devastated after unprecedented monsoon season    ITV News Some of the victims of India’s worst ever flooding have shown the extent of the devastation as authorities face accusations they have abandoned families caught up in the disaster.
1,200 Die as “Devastating” Climate Change-Linked Floods Submerge Parts of South Asia

India is one of several South Indian countries to suffer huge floods in the this year’s unprecedented monsoon season.

More than 1,400 are thought to have died across four countries. Many more saw their homes washed away, families split up, and crops on which they depended to survive ruined.

The crisis has had relatively little worldwide coverage, with news organisations more focused on hurricanes on the other side of the world.

But both are linked to changing weather patterns due to climate change that are expected to drive more extreme weather in the years to come.

In India, the poverty-stricken northern state of Bihar was among the worst affected……

 weeks after the flood first struck, there has been virtually no Government aid to help victims.

Instead, local charities have been left to deliver emergency supplies.

There were also questions over why there had no been warnings to evacuate or prepare ahead of the floods.

Ashish Ranjan, a volunteer flood relief coordinator, said deaths could have been prevented.

Imagine the misery people went through. If we had an early warning system, a lot of lives could have been saved.

People could have moved to safer places and they could save their belongings.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Nuclear power – the least viable alternative to fossil fuels

Why Nuclear Energy May Not Be Our Best Alternative Option To Fossil Fuel, Forbes, 9 Sept 17 , Michael Barnard, low-carbon innovation analyst, on Quora“…..Nuclear ….environmentalists aren’t nuclear power’s problem.

Its first problem is that it keeps getting more expensive while alternatives keep getting cheaper. It was in global decline in terms of absolute and relative generation since 2005, with a small uptick last year due to China’s deployment. That’s because it’s expensive compared to alternatives. Until recently it was fiscally challenged by natural gas generation. A handful of years ago it stopped being competitive with onshore wind. Now it’s not cost competitive with utility scale solar. Depending on the forecast, it’s either not competitive with offshore wind today or in the next two years.

Efforts to make nuclear cheaper, like CCS, have failed. The Toshiba Westinghouse AP1000 was supposed to be a standard, easy to build, cheaper option. It’s turned out to be incredibly expensive in reality and Toshiba Westinghouse has entered bankruptcy. A recent US report on next generation fission technologies found that roughly $2 billion had been spent with no progress. Fusion’s best hope is the ITER Tokamak which is expected to go live in prototype with no generation in 2040, meaning that if it works, some commercializable technology might be contributing by 2070.

The second problem is that nuclear is an inflexible form of generation. Some of that is the technology, but regardless of that, the business case requires about 90% capacity factor for nuclear in order to make money due to the extraordinary capital cost of the technology. That’s just the reality. And inflexible generation doesn’t work with intermittent renewables. If you can’t scale the various technologies up and down cost effectively, then there’s a problem. Ontario has been a bellwether in this regard with its surplus baseload generation problems of the past few years. While people tried to blame this on wind energy, what’s really happening is that the nuclear fleet is too big and can’t be turned off, so Ontario has been paying neighbouring jurisdictions to take the excess electricity. California built a lot of pumped storage to give nuclear something to do at night. France built expensive follow-the-load nuclear which basically wastes all of the generated heat without generating electricity. As France’s new President Macron has said, he used to run that ministry and even he doesn’t know how much they spent on nuclear or how much it costs.

The third problem is that nuclear is a geographically limited solution to a global problem. There are only 30 countries with nuclear today and we mostly don’t want to expand that number for reasonable geopolitical concerns related to radioactive material supply chain security, nuclear waste security and expansion of uranium enrichment technologies which happen in many cases to be useful directly for creating nuclear weapon’s grade uranium or masking the purchase of that enrichment technology. Dirty bombs anyone? A new nuclear bomb owning dictator anyone?……

Nuclear power is a 1970’s solution and hasn’t aged well. It hasn’t become cheaper, more flexible or more ubiquitous and it won’t. It’s failing in the marketplace, not due to environmentalists. …… Should we pay much attention to expanding nuclear? No. Why bother wasting breath on something that doesn’t have a business case…….

Renewables are the answer because they are massively scalable, cheap and solving the problems of renewables is easier than solving the problems of nuclear that is down the road.

The big kerfuffle recently about whether we can get to 100% renewables by 2050 or not was very interesting for one reason. Everyone involved agreed we could easily get to 80%. The question was how hard the last 20% would be.

But getting to 80% globally is a huge advance and is much cheaper to achieve than trying to ride the dead horses of nuclear and carbon capture on fossil fuels. We have to find ways to take carbon out of the atmosphere, likely soil carbon capture with global transformation of agricultural approaches, but it can’t be considered a successful part of the solution to get our emissions to zero.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Carbon capture shown to be uneconomic and impractical

Why Nuclear Energy May Not Be Our Best Alternative Option To Fossil Fuel, Forbes, 9 Sept 17 , Michael Barnard, low-carbon innovation analyst, on Quora: “… From a carbon capture and sequestration perspective, there’s exactly one sequestration project associated with a coal generation plant which is actually sequestering any reasonable amount of carbon. It’s in Saskatchewan, Canada. It was operating at 40% of targets for months and nobody noticed. It’s very expensive.

I did an assessment of all sequestration efforts in Australia over the past 19 years recently and found that they had spent $4,300 AUD per ton to sequester a vanishingly tiny fraction of Australia’s emissions.

The US CCS projects have gone vastly over forecasts and are abandoned and no new ones are projected. The UK government has stopped funding them………

Are environmentalists saying that CCS doesn’t make sense? Yes, because 20 years of work has shown that CCS related to fossil fuel generation has failed to progress, deliver to milestones or show that it is capable of providing any useful contribution. It’s just not economically or practically possible. …….

September 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Turnbull government grossly misuses report by Australian Energy Market Operator

The Turnbull-Frydenberg investment bank: Bullying, cronyism and Captain’s picks By David Leitch on 11 September 2017 Bullying, cronyism and Captain’s picks instead of policyThere is almost universal agreement that carbon policy is or should be a Federal issue.

That is clearly something that the Federal Government should be involved in as it involves Australia’s international status and obligations. But that is the one area that the Federal Government is not touching.

Despite Finkel, despite our COP 21 obligations, the Federal Government does nothing. No electricity policy, no vehicle emission standards, no policy in other areas of the economy responsible for half of Australia’s emissions.

Gross misuse of AEMO report for political purposes

Perhaps the very worst thing, of the many to choose from, about the Liddell negotiation is the gross misuse of the AEMO report. This is only possible because the media is too busy, to put it kindly, to do its homework.

The definition of a “problem” is when forecast “Unserved Energy (blackouts)” exceeds the desired reliability standard. That is not the whole story, but if you want one metric, it’s that.

Unfortunately, AEMO didn’t draw its graph relating to NSW all that clearly. We have attempted to do better, [graph on original] using the .xls data that AEMO provides. AEMO does not forecast a problem and if more renewables are built, the standard will be easily met.

Liddell move emboldens the pro coal, pro socialization, anti private enterprise groups – i.e. the National party and right of the Liberals

Turnbull’s naked interference, partly symbolic, has emboldened the anti-climate change cheer lobby. Examples include:

Over the weekend we saw The National Party has passed a motion that is essentially anti a Clean Energy Target.

In NSW energy minister Don Harwin’s public statements about the need for more renewables, see this article and the NSW Government’s “aspirational” zero carbon policy by 2050 have been shown up in their true light by Premier Gladys Berijiklian’s statement  that NSW is “not ruling out a new coal fired power station”

“Asked if the state government will pay to keep Liddell open beyond 2022, Mr Berejiklian said: “We’ve not come to any conclusions regarding that. Obviously we are interested in the federal government’s announcements.”

Ms Berejiklian lashed South Australia for going rogue and piling into renewables, despite their inability to cope with peak demands.

A third option, which many believe is the only viable alternative, is for NSW to build its own new coal-fired power station.

I’m not going to rule it out,” the Premier said yesterday.” Source: Daily Telegraph, Sep 10

Interference in the market using Federal money instead of policy development

Despite the virtually universal endorsement of the “Finkel Report”, despite the electricity industry, including the large coal generators, and also the growing band of renewable investors and consumers, in coalition with many but not all energy consumers the Federal Govt has been unable to progress industry policy in a way that provides an investment confidence.

It has been unable to form policy consistent with our international obligations.

So what is the alternative? It’s to be populist and interfere in the market – similar to say Venezuala’s recent policy developments – or as if Turnbull had Russian Presidential powers.

It’s not as if Turnbull has a great record on micro managing public investment, you can find plenty of critics of the NBN for instance. Let’s look at some of the “Captain’s picks” that are just announced on the floor of parliament as “done deals”

Snowy 2.0: $8-$10 billion 

The Federal Govt’s only historic investment in electricity was its 13% investment in Snowy Hydro. Now in order to subsidize a minimum $2 bn, and likely more, investment in pumped hydro, the Federal Govt is proposing to spend $5bn-$6bn buying the NSW Govt and Vic Govt out of Snowy.

The Federal Govt has no experience in electricity generation. Snowy is also the 4th largest retailer by customer numbers and the Federal Govt has no experience in electricity retailing.

The pumped hydro project has not gone through any competitive process for funding in the way that say CSP or nearly anything has to.

Our studies of pumped hydro show that it needs about $90 MWh differential between peak and offpeak to be profitable. How can anyone really know whether that will be on offer when this plant is built?

No private sector operator would do it now. This purchase and the subsequent investment should be open to far more public scrutiny. At least $2 bn of transmission will be needed to support the investment.

However, as large as that investment is, and as risky as it is, a case can be made that in a world of high renewables where there was lots of zero marginal cost PV in the middle of the day a pumped hydro investment could be of use.

We are not in that world today and there is no plan to get to that world in the future. Pumped hydro, like batteries, consume about 25% more electricity than they produce. If that electricity is being produced by coal there is little more that can be said.

Snowy is a gamble with taxpayer funds, Liddell is a gift of taxpayer funds to one private sector operator

Snowy 2.0 is an $8 billion plus  gamble with Federal money, but subsidizing Liddell using Federal money to enrich one private sector operator as an effective massive bonus to entice them to buy and take over a coal fired station is basically disgraceful. We list some of the issues below.

All we can say though is it leaves a bad smell. If Turnbull thinks these investments are such a good idea, raise some private capital and do it yourself. Or at least get the States to do it. It is just not a Federal issue to be running State power stations and interfering in the market.

Meddling in business because you can’t do politics

The proposed Federal subsidy to one private sector operator to keep  a coal fired generator open in NSW is open to criticism on many grounds. The list includes.

  • It’s totally incompatible with Australia’s international COP 21 commitment to reduce emissions by 28% by 2030. How can keeping a coal station power station going from 2022-2027 or 2032 do anything other than harm that goal.
  • It potentially hands say West Australian GST proceeds to one private sector operator to build a bigger position in the Australian electricity market. Kerry Packer RIP, once famously said on selling Channel 9, that you only get one Alan Bond. Trevor St Baker must be thinking you only get one Malcolm Turnbull. Turnbull and St Baker do share one thing in common. They both live in houses with lots of PV and batteries. And yet exploit everyone else to sell them coal fired electricity.
  • It potentially changes the sale of Loy Yang B. According to press reports one of about 2 bidders left for LYB was Delta’s owner, Sunset Power. Press reports state Sunset was having some difficulty getting bank finance. This could play out as Sunset finding it easier to get bank finance if its backed by the Federal Government Turnbull/Fydenberg investment bank, or it could lead Sunset to say, we won’t bother with LYB and the private sector we’ll just take the Government money and run Liddell.
  • Maybe the Federal Govt could buy LYB as well? If you are going to nationalize the electricity industry why stop with just Snowy and Liddell, surely you need a position in Victoria? After all there are endless free taxpayer dollars to be used.
  • It will make new generation investment in NSW less likely. If the Government is prepared to do all the work and increase private sector risk why invest. High prices at present, and the expected closure of Liddell are creating a strong investment incentive in NSW.
  • Ditto, it makes the job of getting the 1 GW capacity reserve built
  • There is no identified need to keep Liddell open. AEMO does not forecast an energy supply issue in NSW.
    In any case forecasting the post 2022 electricity market is just a guess. We all know that.
  • It totally hands all the cards to AGL. AGL has been a good steward of the Macgen and LYA coal assets. Its worked hard on their costs and reliability, it’s come to the party on bailing out Portland smelter and it is doing a bit, albeit not a big bit, to get some new renewables built. Its also potentially helping with gas by getting Cribb Point on the agenda.
    • AGL will not want to sell Liddell to a competitor. Never mind the potential increase in competition, it will also complicated the coal position. AGL’s coal supply is set up on the assumption Liddell will close. Its and everyone else’s coal prices will be higher if Liddell stays open. How much higher, hard to say, but we think there are escalators in some of the Macgen contracts which would drive conservation of coal all else being equal.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

An American story that could be a forecast for an Australian nuclear dump town,perhaps Kimba

“Every house. Every tree. Everything was dug up, shredded and buried in a big hole on top of the hill,” Thompson said. Decades and decades of mining left Uravan contaminated with radioactive chemicals and heavy metals. The EPA declared it a superfund site in the 1980s and ordered the mining company, Umetco, to start clearing away the entire town.

You’d never know the empty picnic area was once a community of about 1000 people. Today, you just see the bottom of a crumbling sandstone river valley

she wants to keep having these annual reunion picnics, where the real star of the show is the desert: an actual yellow cake, with yellow frosting and black radioactive signs on top.

Uravan residents may have lost their town, but not their sense of humor.

Uravan: The Uranium Town That Was,  • SEP 8, 2017 Superfund cleanups are a priority for Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He wants to cut through red tape that has left more than a thousand sites still contaminated with everything from radioactive waste to lead.

He also wants to remove sites that have already been cleaned up from the so-called National Priority List, which has more than 1300 sites. One of those sites is the town of Uravan.

After hours in the dark main room of the Rimrocker Historical Society,  Jane Thompson showed off what put this part of Western Colorado on the map. She turned on a geiger counter, which began wildly clicking due to the radioactive yellow rock in a nearby antique jar.

Thompson also helps spearhead an annual picnic some 15 minutes up the road, as she did last weekend. She calls it a reunion picnic at the site of her hometown of Uravan.

“The things that happened here were very important,” Thompson said.

A few dozen people gathered under trees and canopies in the otherwise hot empty field on that late August day. Uravan, a tiny mining company town, provided uranium for nuclear weapons developed during the Manhattan Project.

“Even though the town is gone, we feel like that the history of those people need(s) to be kept,” she said.

Uravan — it is gone. Not just the mill where those yellow rocks were processed into so-called yellowcake uranium ore; everything is gone.

“Every house. Every tree. Everything was dug up, shredded and buried in a big hole on top of the hill,” Thompson said. Decades and decades of mining left Uravan contaminated with radioactive chemicals and heavy metals. The EPA declared it a superfund site in the 1980s and ordered the mining company, Umetco, to start clearing away the entire town.

You’d never know the empty picnic area was once a community of about 1000 people. Today, you just see the bottom of a crumbling sandstone river valley. Larry Cooper, 91, sat in a camping chair, wearing suspenders and breathing with the help of an oxygen tank.

“I didn’t know it was dangerous,” he said. “I didn’t know it would hurt ya.”

He worked in the mills and mines around Uravan, starting in the 1950s. His health suffered.

“I got cancer. I lost half of my lung on the right side,” he said.

Registered Nurse Joanna Godwin said it’s very common for former Uravan workers. She attended the picnic with a non-profit called Nuclear Care Partners. They provide free health care through the Department of Labor for medical issues that can be traced back to the mining of radioactive materials.

“We’ve had people with skin cancers. Pulmonary things are very prevalent. It’s a whole array of things,” she said, referring to conditions in former Uravan employees.

After two decades of cleanup, the EPA declared the remediation of Uravan wrapped up in 2008. But, this empty-field-that-used-to-be-a-town was never taken off the list. The agency says it needs further investigation and study before giving it a clean bill of health.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recently submitted comments to the EPA, saying the agency’s continued work in Uravan is duplicative, costly and causing delay. That seems to be the kind of thing Administrator Pruitt is looking to streamline.

Still, Jane Thompson doesn’t hold out any hope the Uravan site will ever totally be out of the hands of the federal government.

“Well, I think it will remain forever,” she said.

But, she wants to keep having these annual reunion picnics, where the real star of the show is the desert: an actual yellow cake, with yellow frosting and black radioactive signs on top.

Uravan residents may have lost their town, but not their sense of humor.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Time for the Australian government to plan sensibly for the electricity market

Time for pragmatism, not panic, for the electricity market,, By David Blowers on 11 September 2017   The Conversation

There was a familiar kneejerk reaction to last week’s announcement by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) that there are risks to our electricity supply after the scheduled closure of the Liddell coal-fired power station in New South Wales in 2022.

The sight of the Prime Minister looking for options to keep Liddell open raises the spectre of further reflexive government intervention that can’t end well.

Governments, understandably, want to make sure the lights stay on. But now is the time for perspective, not panic.

 Because, as the latest Grattan Institute report – Next Generation: the long-term future of the National Electricity Market – shows, there are emerging challenges to the NEM that need dealing with. Make the right decisions now and a return to affordable and reliable electricity supply is on the cards.

The NEM is an energy-only market. This means that generators only get revenue when they sell their electricity into the market.

All costs – including the capital costs of building the plant – need to be covered by the revenue they make when they sell electricity. Anyone who wants to build new generation capacity wants to be pretty certain that the market is going to deliver the revenue they need to cover their costs.

But right now no one is building any generation, unless it is government-backed renewables. This is despite a ripe environment for investment: high current and future prices in the wholesale market and the closure of old power stations.

The result, as AEMO pointed out last week, is potential shortfalls in generation and potential blackouts in South Australia, Victoria and NSW over the next few years.

Much of the blame for this investment hiatus can be placed on politicians and the climate change policy mess that is creating so much uncertainty for potential investors.

But the rise of wind and solar power is also causing problems. Wind and solar energy have zero marginal cost: once the facility is built, the energy produced is essentially free. And they are intermittent suppliers: they don’t produce energy unless the wind is blowing or the sun is shining.

So when wind and solar plants are operating, the wholesale price of electricity is forced down. This means there needs to be high prices – sometimes very high – when wind and solar are not operating. This price volatility makes investors nervous that they will not be able to cover the costs of building new generation.

Governments may be tempted to conclude that the market has failed. But intervention may be premature.

There are still five years until Liddell is scheduled to close. Just because a new coal-fired power station will not be built in time to fill the gap doesn’t mean the market cannot respond.

Coal was never going to be the market response, given climate change risks. But new gas-fired generators, or batteries to store electricity, could be built in this time frame.

Or the market could finally get its act together on what is called demand-response: that is, paying consumers to reduce their electricity consumption during periods of peak demand, so that less new generation is required.

There are no guarantees for government, however. The risks that the market won’t deliver the new generation that is needed are increasing. If nothing changes, Australia will need, in the words of AEMO, “a longer-term approach to retain existing investment and incentivise new investment in flexible dispatchable capability in the NEM”.

Many countries have responded to these same pressures by introducing a capacity mechanism. A capacity mechanism pays generators for being available, regardless of whether they actually sell electricity.

Payments for capacity provide extra income for generators, giving them greater assurance that they will make enough revenue to cover their costs.

Any new market-based mechanism in Australia is likely to be better than the scattergun approach of various governments in recent years.

Building Snowy 2.0, extending Liddell’s life, or providing state-based backing for new renewable generation might deliver the results needed. But the lack of coordination, planning and strategic thought that sits behind these policies means they probably won’t.

Getting it right  Continue reading

September 11, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

South Australia’s energy security target deferred

S.A. put energy security target on back-burner after AEMO steps in, REneweconomy By Giles Parkinson on 11 September 2017 South Australia has abandoned plans to have its state-based energy security target in place this summer after conceding is could have little impact given the new initiatives by the Australian Energy Market Operator and the lack of competition in the local grid.

Officially, South Australia has decided to “defer” the start date of the EST until 2020, having already deferred it from a July 1 start to a January 1, 2018 start. But given the state poll in 2018, and the new initiatives taking place in the broader market, it seems unlikely to ever see the light of day.

The EST was a key component of the $550 million Energy Security Plan the S.A, government unveiled earlier this year following its dismay at the forced load shedding in February and other incidents.

But it seems likely that the only two components to have a lasting impact will be the Tesla big battery, which is due to come into service on December 1, and the 150MW solar tower and molten salt storage facility in Port Augusta, which will contract to supply the government’s own electricity needs……..

September 11, 2017 Posted by | energy, South Australia | Leave a comment