Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear enthusiasm from Australia’s right-wing MPs – the triumph of quackery over substance

Minister Sussan Ley could open the door to overturning Australia’s nuclear power ban,, 27 June 19    There are some very good reasons why the push to reverse Australia’s ban on nuclear power is a bad idea. Malcolm Farr@farrm51

in numerology.   That pretty well sums up the new enthusiasm for nuclear power within Government ranks — a triumph of quackery over substance.  The nuclear proponents and their media cheer squad seem so determined to see Australian uranium dug up and used to light up the nation, they have diminished the scientific realities of the exercise.

Minister Ley has said she is open to a review of the ban on nuclear power plants.

This isn’t as easy as her turning Susan into Sussan because, as she explained in 2015, “if you add the numbers that match the letters in your name you can change your personality”.

It is a matter of introducing a power source which would be expensive to build, expensive to run, and expensive to turn off. Plus it would be dangerous.

Make that “very dangerous”.

We have a National Wind Farm Commissioner — created by Tony Abbott when PM — overseeing the largely mythical health hazards caused by turbines generating electricity.

If we do that for a few hundred windmills, imagine the huge bureaucracy monitoring the health effects of a nuclear power plant.

Little of which is being addressed by the new gushing tribe of nuclear fans.

It is unfair to load all of this on Ms Ley, but she does administer the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, which contains the nuclear ban.

It says, “Nuclear action will require approval if it has, will have, or is likely to have a significant impact on the environment. Nuclear actions should be referred to the Minister and undergo an environmental assessment and approval process.”

The pressure for change is coming from a wide range of political figures including One Nation’s new NSW Legislative Council member Mark Latham. And within the Government the pro nuclear voices have included that of Queensland Nationals federal MP Keith Pitt who told The Australian this month, “In our view, the technology has moved on and small modular reactors and thorium need to be investigated…….

If the pro-nuclear MPs are so confident of safety they would have to accept a reactor in their own neighbourhoods, assuring voters they would not become the next Chernobyl, Fukushima or Three Mile Island….

If not, maybe they would accept nuclear waste being buried in their patch, where it would contaminate for thousands of years.

Neither opportunity is likely to embraced by them.

June 27, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Energy Users Association of Australia opposes nuclear power: it’s ‘not the answer’

Nuclear energy ‘not the answer’ to Australia’s power price hikes Rod Myer 26 June 19, Nuclear energy is unlikely to fill the growing void in Australia’s energy system caused by the closure of old power stations and spiking electricity prices, industry insiders say.

Australians are paying about 120 per cent more for electricity than in 2008 after the closure of major coal-fired power stations and spikes in gas prices.

Fears that things could get worse were raised this week with news that Victoria’s Yallourn power station could close before the scheduled date of 2032, if market conditions changed.

Deja vu

Despite recent claims that nuclear could be the answer to power problems, major energy users say that is highly unlikely.

“We’ve been down the nuclear path before with Ziggy Switkowski’s report to the Howard government, which showed it would take at least 10 years to get a project up,” said Andrew Richards, CEO of the Energy Users Association of Australia.

Nuclear energy would not be suited to the developing Australian power system.

“We are getting a lot more increasingly variable, renewable energy coming into the system. To firm that, we need generation that can turn on and off quickly,” Mr Richards said.

“Nuclear power plants operate best when you turn the power on and let it run.”

Nuclear is also an increasingly expensive option, with research from the OECD finding that a high-cost nuclear plant would be 118 per cent more expensive than high-cost solar and 128 per cent dearer than high-cost wind.

That gap is opening up, with Dr Switkowski saying last year “the window for gigawatt-scale nuclear has closed” and that nuclear power is no longer cheaper than renewables, with costs rapidly shifting in favour of renewables.

Mr Richards said the costs of nuclear power are far greater than simply the design, construction and maintenance of power stations, and governments would need to back the technology financially.

“Governments would need to support insurance, dismantling and disposal costs for nuclear power stations, as the private sector won’t take on those risks,” Mr Richards said.

Nuclear costs skyrocket

While renewable-energy generation costs have been falling in recent years, nuclear power prices are skyrocketing.

In 2009, Dr Switkowski said that the construction cost of a 1000MW power reactor Australia would be $4 billion to $6 billion.

However, real-world experience has shown costs are four times that, Renew Economy reported last week.

Costs of plant construction in Europe and North America in recent years for similar generation capacity have been between $14 billion and $24 billion.

Nukes in the mix?

report from Industry Super Australia into the power sector released on Wednesday said nuclear energy should be considered as part of Australia’s energy mix.

“If you look at the output of the nuclear industry, and if you consider its future relative to other technologies, it looks awfully good, relative to some of the other potential technologies and, therefore, it shouldn’t be excluded from consideration,” ISA’s chief economist Stephen Anthony told ABC radio.

Mr Richards said the possibility of using nuclear power should not be totally discounted.

“Every generation technology should be considered. Maybe nuclear could play a role, but there are significant market and financial problems to overcome,” he said.

The best way to balance the growing renewable generation was likely to be gas generation if governments can set aside gas for the local market at a fair price.

“We need to have gas at below $8 per gigajoule to solve our problems in energy supply and manufacturing,” Mr Richards said.

Currently the price is $10 per gigajoule, he said.The New Daily is owned by Industry Super Holdings

June 27, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Industry Super Australia (ISA) hitches its wagon to the nuclear unicorn

Industry super urges Australia to consider the nuclear power option, The World Today By senior business correspondent Peter Ryan 26 June 19

Nuclear reactors should be considered as a realistic option to confront Australia’s deepening energy crisis, according to a study from industry superannuation’s chief lobby group.

Key points:

  • Industry Super says Australia should “build some capacity to operate a nuclear facility”
  • The report says nuclear is often dismissed as “even more immoral than burning coal”
  • It suggests a future energy mix including solar, wind, gas, coal and carbon capture

In a report that raises concerns about the ability of battery technology to maintain the baseload power, Industry Super Australia (ISA) argued that investment in nuclear energy should not be sidelined simply because of its controversial nature.

“If you look at the output of the nuclear industry, and if you consider its future relative to other technologies, it looks awfully good relative to some of the other potential technologies and therefore it shouldn’t be excluded from consideration,” ISA’s chief economist Stephen Anthony told The World Today.

Nuclear power the ‘ugly duckling’, batteries too costly

In addition to nuclear, the report argued technologies such as solar, wind, coal, gas generation and carbon capture and storage need to be considered.

The study also raised concerns about battery schemes, finding that using Tesla batteries to achieve 1.5 days power backup would cost $6.5 trillion, or the cost of building around 1,000 nuclear reactors.

It warned that generating power for a renewable energy system in the same period would require 100 Snowy Hyrdo 2.0 schemes at a cost of $700 billion.

In a discussion paper released today, Industry Super Australia acknowledged that investing in the nuclear option would raise concerns among environmental groups, particularly because of accidents in recent decades such as Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima.

The report refers to research saying “nuclear power is now the ugly duckling of the power generation industry. People somehow dismiss it as immoral, even more immoral than burning coal”.

‘Something has got to give’

ISA chief economist Stephen Anthony told The World Today there was a case for industry fund intervention given the energy policy stalemate from Canberra.

“While the climate debate rages on, Australia’s ageing infrastructure continues to fall further and further behind the rest of the world,” Mr Anthony said.

“If this policy inertia continues, regulatory uncertainty will continue to rise, allowing some investors to capitalise on price movements and maximise public subsidies to game the market.

“Something has to give and this is where industry super funds come in.”

The study found that cashed-up industry super funds are ready to invest in energy infrastructure but are waiting on policy direction from the Federal Government.

“The lack of a genuine, long-term, technology neutral energy policy is a major factor undermining fund investment,” the report concluded.

In the normal course, portfolio investors would be lining up to fund long-term solutions in this changing industry for Australia. But so far, the silence from investors is deafening.

“Right now, it seems the only politically acceptable investments appear to be relatively small scale, quickly deployed renewable wind or solar projects.”

The Australian Energy Market Operator estimates that about 60 per cent of current coal-fired generation capacity will be retired by 2040.

“The reality is that, even without climate change, the existing fleet of base load generators needs replacing,” the report noted.

The report excludes a range of technologies from the mix of energy options, including biomass because of its high emissions intensity, and it dismisses tidal and wave power as unrealistic because of the cost and scale required.

June 27, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment

We don’t need nuclear power – a message from UK

Tom Burke 25th June 2019 Tom Burke: We don’t need nuclear power to keep the lights on, which is fortunate as nuclear power stations are unplanned offline about 25% of the time. They are intermittent, as is all energy generation, so it is fortunate that we don’t actually need base load power.

It’s about five years since the then Chief Executive of Wood Mackenzie Steve Halliday, said baseload is an outmoded concept of how you manage an electricity grid, and that’s because we have modern sensors, we have deep data, deep analytics, we have much more sophisticated software, and we are able to manage our electricity system in a way that delivers affordable and reliable electricity, much more efficiently that we were able to do in the past, and
we simply don’t need very big base load power stations of any kind any more, and certainly not ones the size of the new Hinkley Station at 3.2 gigawatts.

The cost of renewables has gone down, the cost of storage has gone down, absolutely dramatically, far faster than anybody thought possible, and we are now in a position to deliver all of the electricity that people need over the coming decades, without reliance on nuclear power stations any more than we are reliant on big coal fired power stations. Toward the end of the coming decade we will be able to do it without reliance on gas either. We are moving into a very different kind of electricity system, and the idea that nuclear power, which is essentially a
20th Century technology, is what you need to solve a 21st Century problem is simply wrong.

June 27, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia’s escalatede defence spending, Christopher Pyne and his convenient advice to Ey defence consulting

Pay Day: Christopher Pyne’s Defence bonanza a fee fillip for EY, Jun 27, 2019  It dwarfs all other government spending. It is secretive. A huge chunk of it does not even go out to tender. The lion’s share goes to foreign multinationals who pay no tax in Australia. It is defence spending. Michael West reports on the explosion in defence spending which has tripled to more than $60 billion in one year since the Coalition took office, and since Christopher Pyne became Minister for Defence Industry on July 19, 2016.

June 27, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Trump is quietly leading us closer to nuclear disaster

Trump is quietly leading us closer to nuclear disaster, WP, By Steven Andreasen, June 26  2019    Steven Andreasen, director for defense policy and arms control on the National Security Council staff from 1993 to 2001, is a national security consultant who teaches at the University of Minnesota.

Quietly and under a shadow of unease at home and abroad, the Trump administration is opening the door to U.S. resumption of underground nuclear explosive testing. If the president follows his national security team into this dark room, it could shatter the 50-year international consensus behind preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and launch a new nuclear arms race that shakes both the Nevada desert and one of the last remaining pillars of arms control.

The 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT ) prohibits “any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion” in the atmosphere, in space, underwater or underground. During the negotiations, the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France also agreed on a “not all-inclusive, but illustrative” list of activities not prohibited by the CTBT, recorded by President Bill Clinton in a 1997 directive and given to the Senate. As the U.S. negotiator told the Senate in 1999, “the zero line, between what would be prohibited to all under the treaty and what would not be prohibited, would be precisely defined by the question of nuclear yield” — that is, whether the activity produced a self-sustaining nuclear reaction. “If what you did produced any yield whatsoever, it was not allowed. If it didn’t, it was allowed.”

The CTBT, unratified though it is by the United States, but with 184 signatories, created a near-universal norm against nuclear explosive testing. (Only North Korea has tested since 1998.) Beyond this benefit, the commitment by the five nuclear weapon states to conclude the treaty by 1996 was crucial to achieving the indefinite extension in 1995 of the existing nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Today, the Non-Proliferation Treaty remains central to limiting the spread of nuclear weapons. Any action that weakens the test-ban treaty weakens the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

So why would the Trump administration seek to restart nuclear testing? In March, four Republican senators wrote the president asking whether he would consider “unsigning” the CTBT, calling the pact a “deeply flawed treaty that purports to ban all nuclear weapons tests.” In late May, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency stated Russia “probably” is not adhering to its nuclear testing moratorium. The word “probably” prompted more queries and a new DIA statement: “The U.S. government, including the Intelligence Community, has assessed that Russia has conducted nuclear weapons tests that have created nuclear yield.”

Are the Russians cheating? Russia’s nuclear test site has been under close scrutiny for years. But in the absence of more public information — information that if it exists would probably be highly classified and unlikely to be made public — we have little choice but to assess the administration’s charge based on its motivations and methods.

National security adviser John Bolton and other administration officials are fervent test-ban treaty opponents. The seemingly out-of-the-blue letter from Republican senators and the DIA director’s public remarks had the look of an orchestrated campaign — significantly with no apparent effort to engage with Moscow. 

…… The move to “unsign” the CTBT could lead to more destructive nuclear capabilities in the hands of potential U.S. adversaries and be perceived by non-nuclear-weapon states as the ultimate “bait and switch” two decades after the Non-Proliferation Treaty was extended indefinitely. It would fuel uncertainty bordering on chaos for the future of nuclear nonproliferation. And it would generate controversy around our own weapons laboratories, which play a vital role in our security. It would be a high price to pay for fulfilling the dreams of those who seek to destroy another treaty.

June 27, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Christopher Pyne – Defence Minister in May – Defence Industry Lobbyist in July

The Fixer in a fix over EY move Edmund Tadros and Tom McIlroy  26 June 19 Former defence minister Christopher Pyne is under fire for taking a role at big four advisory firm EY that will see him consult to companies in the defence sector.

Despite the lion’s share of the defence sector stemming from federal procurement, EY said the former minister, who retired from politics at the election, would not be lobbying or meeting with MPs or the Defence Department.

The ministerial code of conduct requires cabinet members to wait for 18 months after leaving office before advocating or having business meetings with members of the government, Parliament, public service or defence force on any matters on which they have had official dealings.

Outgoing ministers cannot take personal advantage of information to which they have had access or which is not generally available to the public.

Mr Pyne’s two most recent ministerial roles were as minister for defence and minister for defence industry. He issued a short statement about the job on Wednesday after it was revealed by The Australian Financial Review: “I’m looking forward to providing strategic advice to EY, as the firm looks to expand its footprint in the defence industry.”

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Prime Minister, which administers the code of conduct, did not comment when asked if the role breached the code of conduct

“The rules for former ministers are clear and we refer you to the statements made by Mr Pyne and EY on his new position,” the spokeswoman said.

EY at first described Mr Pyne’s role in the context of “ramping up its defence capability”, but later clarified that Mr Pyne would only deal with the “private sector side of the business”.

“He will not be lobbying or meeting with public sector MPs, public service or defence force in his EY role. He is supporting the private sector side of the business,” the EY spokeswoman said.

Pyne to ‘lead conversations’

EY’s defence leader Mark Stewart said: “Christopher Pyne is also here to help lead conversations about what states need to do to meet the challenges and opportunities this huge defence investment will bring.”

He said EY was “ramping up its defence capability ahead of a surge in consolidation activity and the largest expansion of our military capability in our peacetime history … Large domestic defence players are actively looking for mergers to bulk up to deliver on the government’s $200 billion integrated investment program”.

June 27, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Australia’s religious leaders call on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to act on climate change

‘For the sake of generations to come’: Faith leaders unite on climate change   26 June 19, More than 150 religious leaders have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, urging him to show moral leadership on the issue of climate change.

Faith leaders from across the religious divide have gathered in Sydney to call on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to show moral leadership on climate change.

The joint press conference kicked off with Rabbi Johnathan Keren-Black blowing a ram’s horn to symbolise raising the alarm.

Environmental Advisor for the Council of Progressive Rabbis, Rabbi Keren-Black said the world is facing a “climate emergency”.

“We blow the horn to awake slumbers from their sleep and to sound the alarm, so we blow it to sound the alarm for the climate emergency, for the sake of the world, for the sake of generations to come,” he said.

Judaism believes that we have a responsibility to be caretakers for God’s world, and we’re not doing a very good job of it at the moment.”

More than 150 religious leaders – including the heads of the Uniting Church in Australia, the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils, Muslims Australia and the National Council of Churches – on Tuesday issued an open letter to Mr Morrison.

The letter calls on the Prime Minister to make addressing climate change his number one priority.

Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) President Thea Ormerod described climate change as a moral issue that needs to be urgently addressed.

“We have an urgent challenge which we all share, a moral challenge. It’s not just a political issue or an economic issue, it’s also a moral issue and all of us are standing together with one voice today,” she said.

Under the banner of Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, the group is calling for a stop to new coal and gas projects, stopping Adani’s controversial coal mine in central Queensland and moving to 100 per cent renewable energy by the year 2030.

Despite the differences in our faith, we all regard addressing the climate emergency as our shared moral challenge. We stand together for our common home, the Earth,” the letter says.

“Will you and your Government have the courage to agree to this simple threefold agenda? We pray that you will.”

Loreto Sister Libby Rogerson said there is a sacred responsibility to care for the earth and all living beings.

“We are concerned for the poorest and most vulnerable, and it is the poorest and most vulnerable of people and nations that are affected by Climate Change,” she said.

Federation of Australian Budhist Councils Spokesperson Gawaine Powell Davies also attended the press conference, and said climate change is driven by “human foolishness”.

“We have a very sharp analysis of human foolishness which has led us to put greed and short-term benefit ahead of the long-term interests of ourselves and our children, and our grandchildren,” Mr Powell Davies said.

The Grand Mufti of Australia, Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, along with senior Rabbis, bishops and theologians have also signed the letter.

June 27, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Australia a top G20 leader in subsidising the coal industry

Australia leads the G20 nations’ pack in aid for coal-fired power, SMH Peter Hannam, June 25, 2019 Subsidies for coal-fired power production almost tripled in the three years to 2016-17 among G20 nations, with Australia providing among the largest support, an international study has found.The report by UK think tank, the Overseas Development Institute, found aid for such power stations soared from US$17.2 billion ($24.7 billion) in 2013-14 to $US47 billion in the most recent year. It’s in contrast to pledges made by the 20 biggest economies in 2009 to phase out subsidies to reduce the risks of climate change……

The highest amounts of total support to coal consumption were identified in Indonesia at US$2.3 billion per year, Italy and Australia, both about US$870 million, the US at US$708 million, and the UK with US$682 million, it reported.

“These tens of billions of dollars a year of G20 support to coal are not just locking in the high-carbon
economy and leading to stranded assets, they are also a missed opportunity to support a clean energy transition and to achieve other sustainable development objectives,” the study said……

‘Ecological crisis’

Jamie Hanson, head of campaigns at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said Australia was in an “ecological crisis driven by climate change”.

“Coal is the primary cause of the climate damage that is causing extinctions all over the country, drought and fire that has torched ancient rainforests, and that has killed half the Great Barrier Reef in the last five years,” he said.

“Climate-destroying government handouts to the coal industry defy all logic – especially now, when we know that clean renewable energy is the cheapest form of new power.”

Separately, Australia’s climate ambassador Patrick Suckling has argued at a United Nations conference in Bonn, Germany that the country’s carbon reduction efforts were “having a positive effect”.

June 27, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | 1 Comment

Trump No Exit Strategy Iran — Mining Awareness +

US House Intel Chair “Adam Schiff @RepAdamSchiff The President says a war with Iran would be over very quickly. And he doesn’t need an exit strategy. The war in Afghanistan has been going on for eighteen years. How about putting an end to that war instead? 7:43 PM · Jun 26, 2019 %5B…%5D

via Trump No Exit Strategy Iran — Mining Awareness +

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June 26 Energy News — geoharvey

Science and Technology: ¶ “Swiss Scheme Demonstrates Successful Peer-To-Peer Trading Of Solar PV” • A project called Quartierstrom, “district power,” run by agroup at ETH Zurich, demonstrated a peer-to-peer system with a bottom-up grid tariff. Its traders, all downstream of a transformer, only pay a reasonable amount for using a local grid infrastructure but not […]

via June 26 Energy News — geoharvey

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Australia’s first unsubsidised big battery installed in South Australia — RenewEconomy

Lincoln Gap wind farm is now host to Australia’s first unsubsidised big battery system, in a major milestone for clean energy in Australia. The post Australia’s first unsubsidised big battery installed in South Australia appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Australia’s first unsubsidised big battery installed in South Australia — RenewEconomy

June 27, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First generation produced at Australia’s largest wind farm — RenewEconomy

First generation has been achieved at Australia’s largest wind farm, the 453MW Coopers Gap wind farm located outside north-west of Brisbane. The post First generation produced at Australia’s largest wind farm appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via First generation produced at Australia’s largest wind farm — RenewEconomy

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Sydney declares a climate emergency – what does that mean in practice? — RenewEconomy

Sydney councillors have unanimously supported a motion to mobilise city resources to reduce carbon emissions and minimise the impact of future change. The post Sydney declares a climate emergency – what does that mean in practice? appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Sydney declares a climate emergency – what does that mean in practice? — RenewEconomy

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June 26 Energy News — geoharvey

Science and Technology: ¶ “Swiss Scheme Demonstrates Successful Peer-To-Peer Trading Of Solar PV” • A project called Quartierstrom, “district power,” run by agroup at ETH Zurich, demonstrated a peer-to-peer system with a bottom-up grid tariff. Its traders, all downstream of a transformer, only pay a reasonable amount for using a local grid infrastructure but not […]

via June 26 Energy News — geoharvey

June 27, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment