Australian news, and some related international items

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young defending the right to peacefully protest

The right to peacefully protest is at the core of our democracy. Home affairs Minister Peter Dutton threat to cancel welfare payments of climate protesters is an attempt to silence their views and is completely inappropriate.

Rather than resort to serious threats and attempt to shut down community views, the Government should come up with a national plan for dealing with the climate crisis that we’re in.

Article: Peter Dutton opens door to cancelling welfare of climate protesters, The Australian:…/4907f2938e9099f2f7db1680…

October 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics | Leave a comment

Labor challenge to nuclear power fan MP Keith Pitt – where would you put nuclear reactors?

October 6, 2019 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Australia’s drought disaster a political disaster too, for its climate-sceptic Morrison govt?

Inadequate drought preparation may prove to be political disaster too, Brisbane Times, Tony Walker  4 Oct 19

Panicky. That’s a word to describe the Morrison government’s response to a national drought emergency. Lack of rain, arid conditions, scorching winds and higher temperatures are contributing to an evolving disaster against the background of a contentious climate change debate.

This is a challenge that will become increasingly difficult for the governments, federal and state, to ignore as water supplies run down in New South Wales towns such as Dubbo and Queensland towns such as Stanthorpe. Risks of bushfire will be further elevated.Judging by Bureau of Meteorology forecasts, drought over much of eastern Australia is set to surpass all others in living memory going back to the beginning of record keeping. In other words, things may get a lot worse before they get better. What is left unspoken by government officials and farm representatives is this aridity will prove to be the new normal. Let’s repeat these words in capitals: NATIONAL DROUGHT EMERGENCY.

It might also be observed that no less than a drought emergency, this is a POLITICAL EMERGENCY for the Morrison government. Governmental responses, both federal and state, to a catastrophic dry across central and northern New South Wales and southern Queensland have been unfocused, according to farm representatives. Tony Mahar, chief executive of the National Farmers’ Federation, the peak body for Australian farmers, awards federal and state governments a “fail” when it comes to developing a national drought strategy to deal with emergencies. “No government, red or blue, has successfully nailed drought policy,” Mahar tells me.

Government inattention may well reflect agriculture’s diminishing share of the national economy at just three per cent of Gross Domestic Product. On the other hand, 1.6 million jobs reside in the complete agricultural supply chain. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s dash – on his return to Australia from a state visit to the United States – to Dalby in the heart of drought-stricken southern Queensland to announce a $100-million relief package as part of an overall $7-billion allocation reflects government political concerns.

Morrison himself would not need reminding that the 2001-2010 millennium drought contributed to John Howard’s undoing, given he was perceived – rightly or wrongly – to be indifferent to climate change. At least six Coalition seats are at risk in the face of seething local anger over water mismanagement, or no management at all. In all of this, what tends to be overlooked is that the government has a wafer-thin majority of one after the Speaker is excluded……….
Finally, the latest Bureau of Meteorology bulletin provides little encouragement to believe that drought conditions will ease in the short term. The BOM reports the lowest rainfall on record extending from the Great Dividing Range as far as Dubbo and Walgett in central NSW. This is a huge swathe of the country under some of the most extreme drought conditions in the history of white settlement. Only the peak of the terrible 1900-02 “Federation Drought” was worse.
This is bad enough but meteorologists at the BOM are also reporting that a phenomenon known as sudden strategic warming above the South Pole risks contributing to a further deepening of the drought. The SSW effect would cause warmer westerly winds to track north, intensifying drought conditions in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. If those forecasts prove correct, distinctions between a natural disaster and a national emergency will certainly become moot. Regardless, in a cloudless sky, these weather conditions will constitute an accelerating political emergency.

October 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

With temperatures heading for 40C, New South Wales and Queensland at bushfire risk

Large swathes of NSW at bushfires risk as temperatures set to reach 40Cm 
Bourke and Brewarrina brace for 40C day as dust storms set to sweep western parts of state, Guardian,
Australian Associated Press, Sun 6 Oct 2019  The Bureau of Meteorology says an unseasonal heatwave hitting western and north-western New South Wales could demolish October heat records and place large swathes of the state at bushfire risk.While Sydney’s top temperature was expected to reach a mild 23C on Sunday, Bourke and Brewarrina braced for their first 40C day since March.

Wilcannia, Cobar and Dubbo were also set to exceed 37C while dust was forecast for most parts west of Griffith and Bourke.

The BoM warned the fire danger rating in almost every NSW/ACT region was high or very high for Sunday, prompted by heat, high winds and low humidity.

By early afternoon, no bushfires were rated higher than “advice” alert level.

Meteorologist Jake Phillips said the bureau was particularly concerned by conditions to the west of the Great Dividing Range. “It’s quite unusual to see temperatures this warm,” Phillips said.

“In large areas of the state we’re seeing daytime temperatures between 8C and 12C above average for this time of the year, and in some places more.

“As we move into tomorrow, it’s quite likely we will see some places getting pretty close to or maybe breaking October records, the most likely areas being the northern tablelands and north-west slopes.”

Very high fire danger was forecast in ACT and 10 NSW regions: greater Hunter, central ranges, southern ranges, Monaro alpine, lower central west plains, upper central west plains, far western, New England, northern slopes and north western. On Sunday afternoon none were yet subject to total fire bans.

All other regions except eastern Riverina had a high fire danger rating…..

The BoM said Queensland was also set to scorch through another heatwave this week, with hot, dry and windy conditions increasing fire danger, particularly in the south-east…..

October 6, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales, Queensland | Leave a comment

Tasmanian renewable energy projects tipped to pour $6.5 billion in state’s economy

Tasmanian renewable energy projects tipped to pour $6.5 billion in state’s economy, Examiner, Matt Maloney and Rob Inglis   6 Oct 19,

Premier Will Hodgman says the state will benefit from an economic injection of $6.5 billion through two key renewable energy projects.

The cash windfall was announced during Mr Hodgman’s keynote address to delegates at the Tasmanian Liberal Party state conference on Sunday.

Mr Hodgman said the business case for a second interconnector was stronger after new analysis from TasNetworks showed the Marinus Link project would be able to transport a higher amount of energy to the mainland as previously anticipated…….

October 6, 2019 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | Leave a comment

October 6 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Wexit: Why Some Albertans Want To Separate From Canada” • As talk about climate change heats up and construction on pipelines grows cold, frustrated Albertans have breathed new life into old regional grudges and the western separatist movement. People in a province that is a major oil producer, are thinking to “Wexit Alberta.” […]

via October 6 Energy News — geoharvey

October 6, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Energy Efficiency the FIRST FUEL – a top Submission from Brenda Hugget

Submission to the Inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia Brenda Huggett  Submission 235

My submission will mainly focus on these two terms of reference:

  1. energy affordability and reliability
  2. Economic feasibility

The invitation to make a submission to this inquiry is headed by this statement:

The Australian Government supports an energy system which delivers affordable and reliable energy to consumers while fulfilling Australia’s international emissions reduction obligations.

I thoroughly endorse this aim, but would like to ensure that the Committee of Inquiry draws into this‘energy system’ a serious effort towards ENERGY EFFICIENCY – what the international Energy Agency and the G7 Ministers at their 2016 Japan meeting called the ‘first fuel’ – with its massive potential to power industry and homes cheaply, incrementally and with zero risks or cost blowouts.

At the same time the National Electricity Market is seeing a significant increase in capacity in intermittent low emissions generation technologies…

I believe this sentence should have been followed with “However the dramatic developments in a range of options to store PV and wind energy for ‘when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow’ (the folksy way to refer to the ‘intermittency’ of renewables!) just may – over the coming decade or so – show Australia that it really can rely on renewables so we can truly phase out the last of our fossil fuel energy generation altogether, dodging nuclear power entirely.

Meanwhile our nuclear science academics and their grad students can keep a watching brief on nuclear developments overseas, in case we do find around 2030 that there is a real need for the nuclear option. A real need is totally different from a ‘niche’ where some industrialist (eg a Bill Gates, a Gina Rinehart or an Andrew Forrest) could build a nuclear power facility ‘just because they can’ (ie if there is no prohibition) because they have a passion to give it a go and a spare billion for the land, the plant, the phenomenally expensive insurance that presumably our Government would surely insist upon so that the venture can ‘stand on its own two feet’ (as PM Morrison wants!) and a workforce of eager nuclear engineering graduates.

The SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission

Although Commissioner Kevin Scarce recommended lifting the prohibition (which I strongly oppose at this time) the modelling for the Commission suggested that ‘a nuclear power plant would not be viable in South Australia even under carbon pricing policies consistent with achieving the ‘well below 2 °C’ target agreed in Paris because other low-carbon generation would be taken up before nuclear. p62

However Commissioner Scarce did recommend that the SA government collaborate with the Australian Government to ‘commission expert monitoring and reporting on the commercialisation of new nuclear reactor designs that may offer economic value for nuclear power generation.’ This sounds like a very sensible thing to do at this stage!

Small Modular Reactors

I appreciate that there must be no-one left in Australia who harbours a desire to see a huge ‘traditional’ nuclear power plant built anywhere. Rather the attention of nuclear enthusiasts has been diverted to SMR’s. There are many and varied types of Small Modular Reactors on drawing boards around the planet, reactors that can be factory-made, niftily deployed (only a couple of years, not decades, of work) and because they are small (producing only 300MW or less) the number of reactors at any plant can be scaled up or down according to demand. These drawing board SMR’s utilise a range of differing technologies some of which can be classified as ‘Generation IV’ initiatives and some which are just scaled down versions of earlier technology. Inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia

These developments can and undoubtedly are all being monitored by Australian nuclear scientists, who can be presumed to also be monitoring ongoing developments in the quest for fusion pow

Tony Irwin of Sydney-based SMR Nuclear Technology complains (p. 14 of his submission)

that ‘serious consideration of the merits of N-power generation in Australia is precluded by our legislative prohibitions’. This is spurious at best! Nuclear Engineering is taught in Australian universities ANU and UNSW and probably more. Yes of course students and graduates will be champing at the bit to apply their learning on their home turf. But they can easily make themselves useful by either monitoring what is happening overseas and/or gaining experience elsewhere. With PhD scholarships, they can like their professors, even be paid by Australian taxpayers to watch and learn.

  Mr Irwin goes on to complain ‘SMR vendors not treating Australia as a potential market while  prohibitions remain.’ Of course these vendors would be fools to do so! We are not a market for any further nuclear technology (except for OPAL at Lucas Heights) while our legislative prohibitions remain in place – which will be until we as the Australian community have come to a conclusion that this new eg NuScale SMR technology has been truly proven up, has overcome all the safety concerns directed at previous nuclear technology, and that the costs are less than renewables+ batteries and moreover that it really is NEEDED!!! (not just ‘wanted/desired/wished for’)

The NuScale SMR project

Mr Irwin refers several times to the NuScale SMR project, based in Oregon. A little Googling shows that the 3 year review by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commissions of this 12000 page proposal should conclude by Sept 2020. One big – and controversial – ask by the company is that the normal requirement for a 32 km wide emergency evacuation zone be waived, because the company is so confident that their SMR will be safe and they would like to promote their technology as suitable for installing on the sites of decommissioned coal-fired power plants. NuScale has indeed lined up its first customer, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, for a plant at Idaho Falls, aiming to open it in 2027.

There is, predictably, local opposition with opponents arguing that it is more expensive than renewables with batteries, it will still produce nuclear waste (for which the US still has no real solution!) and local authorities don’t have the resources to adequately vet a nuclear plant. NuScale may live up to its (admittedly impressive) promise re safety, use of less water, etc. Australia can wait and see!

During these Watch and Learn years, there should absolutely be no lifting of our moratorium on the development of nuclear energy – a moratorium that has no doubt frustrated some, but has clearly satisfied an overwhelming majority of Australians as poll after poll has shown.

If… around 2030 Australia still has a demonstrable shortfall in energy production from renewables + storage AND cutting edge nuclear developments with concomitant waste elimination have been truly proved up then the Australian government would have a much more realistic chance of gaining much-needed ‘social licence’.

However, it may be just too late….

“Solar PV and onshore wind have won the race to be the cheapest sources of new ‘bulk generation’ in most countries. But the encroachment of clean technologies is now going well beyond that, threatening the balancing role that gas-fired plant operators, in particular, have been hoping to play.” Tifenn Brandily, Energy Economics Analyst at BloombergNEF.


The Energy Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, the USA, and the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, met in Kitakyushu in May 2016, to discuss developments since the Hamburg meeting held in 2015, against the background of volatile energy prices and the COP21 Paris Agreement. They issued a joint statement for Leaders’ consideration including, under Improving Energy Efficiency:

  1. We affirm that improving energy efficiency is key to decarbonisation of our economies, enhancing energy security and fostering economic growth and should be regarded as the “first fuel.” We aim to strengthen our efforts to further improve energy efficiency and also call on other countries to follow suit.

 We emphasize the importance of the strong interconnection between, and simultaneous improvement of, energy efficiency and resource efficiency

 More to ‘Watch and Learn’ for Australia

In June this year, the International Energy Agency’s held its biggest ever Global Conference on Energy Efficiency in Dublin, attended by over 400 energy efficiency leaders from governments and corporations. The gathering aimed to identify how to unlock the vast potential of energy efficiency, bringing a wide range of important benefits, from greenhouse gas emissions reduction, to improved energy security and supporting economies to grow while delivering environmental and social benefits.

At this Conference a new Global Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency was launched, comprising government and industry leaders, chaired by Mr Richard Bruton, Ireland’s Minister of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

It notes that energy efficiency policy implementation has slowed and progress is weakening. Global energy-related CO2 emissions increased last year at their highest rate sin The Commission will produce a concise list of clear, actionable recommendations next year.

“No meaningful energy transition can take place without energy efficiency,” the CEO of the IEA, Dr F. Birol said. More than any single fuel, energy efficiency has a central role to play in meeting global sustainable energy goals.

As a keen exponent and part-time worker in the field of energy efficiency education, I am dismayed but not surprised by Australia’s performance vis a vis the regard paid to this ‘first fuel.’

The AEEEC The American Council for an Energy-efficient Economy rates 20+ nations for their efforts towards energy efficiency. Australia is currently ranked at 18th, between Indonesia and the Ukraine. I BELIEVE WE CAN DO SO MUCH BETTER THAN THIS!!!!!!!

 The point about Energy Efficiency, seen as a first fuel, and given commensurate support by Federal, state and local governments is that it could replace the 11% of world energy that is currently nucleargenerated and alongside renewables+storage can probably totally displace fossil-fuelled energy generation. I say probably because just maybe in 10 or 20 years we may have to consider whatever is then proved up to be the best nuclear option, to complement efficiency/renewables/storage in some locations in our wide brown land…

October 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment