Australian news, and some related international items

Canberra’s renewable energy leadership at risk, as Federal govt demonises renewables.

The solar industry already employs more people than coal-fired generation across the country. In 2014 the solar industry employed more than 13,000 people and even with the uncertainty and watering down of the renewable energy target this is likely to have grown. By comparison, according to the 2011 census 8,000 people worked in fossil fuel electricity generation.

A clean energy transition is already happening, but it is at risk, Guardian, Alexander White, 11 Oct 16  The transition to a low carbon economy is already happening, but is at risk when residents of Australia’s capital go to the polls in local elections.

The transition to a low carbon economy is already happening … in theAustralian Capital Territory, where the local Labor government has legislated for a 100% renewable energy target by the year 2020.

But this major achievement is at risk on Saturday when residents of Canberra go to the polls for territory elections. Continue reading

October 11, 2016 Posted by | ACT, politics, solar | Leave a comment

Australia’s first sun-tracking solar farm opens at Majura, Canberra

Majura solar farm set to power more than 600 homes after four years of planning, The Age, Clare Sibthorpe, 6 Oct 16, Hundreds of Canberra homes are set to be powered by one of Australia’s first sun-tracking solar farms which opened in Majura on Thursday.The 2.3MW solar farm adjacent to the Mount Majura winery will generate 4,300 MW per hour within a year, which equals about 600 houses.

 Four years since planning began, the 5000 panels at the $6.5 million farm are finally helping the ACT reach its 100 per cent renewable energy target.

The farm has one of the first self-powered and single axis tracking technology to be used in Australia, which increases output by up to 40 per cent…..

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the completion of Canberra’s fourth solar farm – with the others in Mugga Lane, Williamsdale and Royalla – helped ensure Canberra’s future renewable power supply was guaranteed…….

He said the ACT government had contracted 640 megawatts of power which exceeded the amount needed to make the territory entirely renewable by 2020.

October 7, 2016 Posted by | ACT, solar | 1 Comment

Australian Capital Territory Liberals back ACT govt’s targets of 100 per cent renewables by 2020 and zero net emissions by 2050

text politicsrenewable-energy-pictureEnvironmental groups urge ACT to commit to carbon neutrality by 2040, Canberra Times, Christopher Knaus, 1 Sept 16 Environmental groups have urged the ACT government to reach zero net emissions a decade earlier than its current target, while praising the territory’s newly-realised bi-partisanship on climate change.

The ACT government’s targets of 100 per cent renewables by 2020 and zero net emissions by 2050 were backed by the Canberra Liberals at an election forum on Monday night. Liberal leader Jeremy Hanson confirmed his party would continue to pursue Labor’s climate change policies if elected.

The position has drawn praise from the ACT Conservation Council and climate change action group, which said the approach of the Canberra Liberals “sits in stark contrast to the federal party’s ongoing support for the coal, oil and gas expansion industry and paltry emissions reduction targets”.But both groups have urged the ACT to speed up its transition to a carbon-neutral economy.

Conservation Council ACT executive director Larry O’Loughlin said the ACT should seek to achieve zero net emissions by 2040 to maintain its status as a nation-leading jurisdiction on climate change. Mr O’Loughlin said the government should also set an interim target at some point between 2020 and 2040, to ensure it stays on track to the ultimate goal of carbon neutrality.

He said speeding up the transition to a carbon neutral economy, if adopted across the globe, would help limit global warming to two degrees. The emerging evidence, he said, may even prove that target to be inadequate. “It may be that [2040] is soon unambitious. We might need to do more,” Mr O’Loughlin said.

The Conservation Council has also recently released its election policy document, which sets out the priorities for both major parties ahead of the October election……..

Climate change action group,, issued a statement on Wednesday congratulating the Canberra Liberals on adopting the existing climate change and renewable energy targets. Canberra spokesperson Josh Creaser said the ACT had been a leader in fighting climate change, but said more must be done. “Whilst the ACT Liberals have taken an important step by matching the ACT Government’s policies it’s clear that a transition to net zero emissions must happen sooner than 2050,” he said.

“This should also include the ongoing divestment of ACT Government shares in fossil fuel companies.”

September 2, 2016 Posted by | ACT, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Canberra heads to 100% renewable energy, helped by wind power from South Australia

Wind turbines in Azerbaijan. Wind farms in Crookwell, South Australia ‘final piece’ in ACT’s renewable plan   Christopher Knaus, 23 Aug 16 A local wind farm has won a bid to supply 41,600 ACT homes with energy, while a third successful bid from a South Australian project means it will provide a major chunk of Canberra’s renewable power by 2020.

Environment Minister Simon Corbell on Tuesday announced what he described as the “final piece” in the government’s plan for 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020. A 91MW $200 million Crookwell wind farm, to be built by Spanish-owned company Union Fenosa Wind Australia, has won the right to be paid feed-in tariff grants under the government’s reverse auction process.

The project, due to be completed in September 2018, will build 28 turbines able to power 41,600 Canberra homes.

Mr Corbell said the Crookwell farm would be paid $86.60/MWh for the energy it feeds into the grid, which he said was a record low for a NSW wind farm. The other successful bidder was the Hornsdale Wind Farm, being built by Neoen International SAS and Megawatt Capital north of Adelaide.

The Hornsdale project has already been successful in the first and second rounds of ACT wind auctions, and is building the capacity for 309MW in total. That means the South Australian project will provide a large chunk of the ACT’s renewable energy by 2020. Continue reading

August 24, 2016 Posted by | ACT, South Australia, wind | Leave a comment

Secretive Pine Gap remains an integral part of USA’s nuclear ‘star wars’ plans

text-relevantStrategic US Military Intel Base in Pine Gap, Australia, By Richard Neville Global Research, April 30, 2008 PINE GAP MIND GAP: A TERROR CELL THAT NEVER SLEEPS. “…..This is Pine Gap, a US military base built on the traditional land of the indigenous Arrernte people, which started life in 1966. Australians were told the facility was to be a weather station. Later the official cover was a “Space Research Centre”. Our citizens remained in the dark until 1975, when Prime Minister Whitlam revealed that Pine Gap’s boss, Richard Stallings, was an agent of the CIA.

Up till then, according to former Minister Clyde Cameron, politicians had regarded the base as “a pretty harmless sort of operation”. Whitlam demanded a list of all CIA agents in the country. This infuriated US spy masters, who put pressure on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to shut him up. CIA fears over the leaking of Pine Gaps’ secret activities helped to trigger the murky events that toppled the Whitlam government.


Pine Gap’s first generation of satellites was designed to monitor Soviet missile developments and for espionage in South East Asia, especially Vietnam, and later to spy on China. Since then, both its mission and capabilities have expanded dramatically. The base is believed to have provided targeting information for Israel’s 2006 bombing of Lebanon.

Pine Gap is one of largest and most sophisticated satellite ground stations in the world. Its 26 antennas suck information from the sky and distribute it to US commanders in the field, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, where it is used to co-ordinate air strikes…….

If Australia wishes to regain its reputation as a fair minded nation, the government will need to take a closer look at this secretive installation, an integral part of the US National Missile Defense scheme, or Star Wars.

It aims to put satellite based weapons in space to shoot down any incoming missiles. New radomes (radar + dome) to accommodate the system have already been installed.

The majority of Pine Gap’s 1000 staff are Americans drawn from branches of the US military, including the National Security Agency, Army and Navy Information Operations Command, US Navy and Combined Support Group, Air Intelligence Agency, US Air Force, 704th Military Intelligence Brigade, 743rd Military Intelligence Battalion, Marine Cryptologic Support Command, etc. The base is described as a “joint facility”, although key areas are out of bounds to Australians. While visiting US lawmakers are taken on tours of Pine Gap, Federal MP’s are denied entry. (Members of Congress have collectively invested up to $US196 million in companies with Defense Department contracts, earning millions since the onset of the Iraq invasion. Until May 2007, Hillary Clinton held holdings in Honeywell, Boeing and – yes – Raytheon).

In 2000, the Howard Government rejected calls by Parliament’s Joint Committee on Treaties for a classified briefing on its operations. There is no public debate on the role of Pine Gap, despite its unbending support of all US military actions, regardless of legality or morality. As for the media, they’re asleep at the wheel……..

August 19, 2016 Posted by | ACT, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, secrets and lies, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Canberra solar project co-located with wind farm

solar-wind-turbineGullen Range Wind Farm adds solar project in Australian first, Canberra Times  John Thistleton 27 July 16

Australia’s first large-scale solar farm to be co-located with wind turbines will be built near Canberra, saving money and creating a more reliable, cheaper renewable energy model.

The 10 MW solar photovoltaic plant near the existing Gullen Range Wind Farm, 28 kilometres north west of Goulburn, will likely be followed by more co-located generators, says the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which is providing $9.9 million for the $26 million project.

ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said under the co-location model developers could save money on grid connection, approvals and site development costs including access tracks by co-locating wind and solar plants, while also reducing environmental impacts. Proponents expect savings of about $6 million.

Mr Frischknecht said solar and wind were complementary sources of renewable energy that produced power at different times of the day and year.

“Co-location provides more continuous energy generation, as wind farms tend to generate more energy overnight while solar only generates during the day. Gullen Wind Farm generates more power in winter and the new solar farm will generate more in summer,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“It could also unlock new markets for medium-scale solar PV projects, because scale isn’t as important for competitiveness when plants are co-located.”……

July 27, 2016 Posted by | ACT, solar, wind | Leave a comment

Canberra’s solar farms with sun- tracking technology

Mr Han says the ACT’s solar projects are small, but internationally the industry is indebted to Australia.

“In China scales are much bigger, ultimately the solar voltaic cell is actually Australian technology that was originally developed out of the University of NSW,” Mr Han said. “That technology was commercialised in China as well as Europe. A lot of the technology and breakthroughs we still owe to Australia research and development.”

The proponents say the ACT is Australia’s front -runner in solar projects.

“The long term off-take agreements, or power purchase agreements, mean it has a reliable and predictable revenue stream for owners and investors, ” Mr Crockett said.

diagram solar tracker“The ACT has proved how efficient, effective and cheap it is to transition your electricity sector, you are seeing now the Victorian Government is going to do something very similar,” Mr Crockett said.

Mugga Lane and Williamsdale solar farms to begin tracking sun by year’s end July 21 2016 John Thistleton
A GPS-guided pile-driver sinking steel posts into the ground is swiftly changing the landscape in South Canberra for a new solar farm. Continue reading

July 22, 2016 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

Canberra’s community- owned solar farm to be largest in Australia

text-community-energy‘Largest community-owned’ solar farm in Australia taking root in Canberra vineyard June 28, 2016  Canberra Times reporter There are two reasons Canberra’s David Osmond puts his money into solar panels rather than stockpiling it in the bank.

“The returns are better plus it’s going towards a cause I’m very passionate about,” he said.

The latest solar project Mr Osmond will invest in will be the largest community-owned solar farm in Australia – and it will be right here in Canberra.

Mr Osmond is one of the first investors in the SolarShare Community Energy Majura Solar Farm, a $3 million solar plant that, when built, will generate enough electricity to power 250 Canberra homes.

SolarShare project leader Lawrence McIntosh said more than 5000 solar panels will be mounted on three hectares leased from the Mount Majura Vineyard, producing 1.9GWh of electricity each year.

“Wine grapes are best grown on slopes, which leaves the flatter land at the bottom of the valley with not much interest for grape growing but great for a solar project,” he said.

While only 5 per cent of the size of the Royalla Solar Farm south of Canberra, this one will be owned by the community, investors pledging $50 to $10,000 each towards its construction and maintenance.

About 400 people have registered as investors so far and more are being welcomed, Mr McIntosh said.

The flagship farm is predicted to earn more than $360,000 a year in revenue from selling electricity to the energy networks, its profits shared among the project’s investors…….

June 29, 2016 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

Carbon Disclosure Project lists Canberra as a global climate change leader

Canberra ranked as a global climate change leader, Hall  Canberra’s ranking as a global climate change leader by the Carbon Disclosure Project is an “important acknowledgement”, Climate Council chief executive Amanda McKenzie says.

The CDP placed the capital among the top 10 cities in the world for its “quality and completeness” of environmental risk reporting.

“It’s not just that one area of the policy is doing well [to be ranked so highly],” Ms McKenzie said. “Reducing emissions, adequately reporting and disclosing internationally, a renewable energy policy, a risk assessment of what the climate change impact will be and have a plan to adapt to those consequences.”

Despite the ACT being significantly smaller than other states and territories and not having coastal environmental concerns, she said the city had substantial environmental elements affecting its climate.

She said Canberra’s recognition by the CDP is significant because its size is more common globally and it provides a more realistic comparison on how to implement sustainable technologies and processes. “Our view is that it is a very good example of how you transition a community that has previously been reliant on fossil fuels and moving towards more renewable energy,” Ms McKenzie said.

ACT Environment and Climate Change Minister Simon Corbell​ said the government had shown Canberrans and the world it was committed to tackling climate change. “In doing so we are also showing the world that moving to a low-carbon economy is not only achievable and affordable, but also can be a benefit to both the community and our economy,” he said. “By attracting renewable energy companies to Canberra and fostering a positive environment for renewable energy operation, research and development through our progressive policies we have positioned the territory to take advantage of growth in the renewable energy industry”.

Much of the sustainable energy being harnessed by the nation’s capital is being supplied by interstate facilities, but Ms McKenzie said it was the implementation of the energy being produced which is both environmentally responsible and economically innovative.

“It depends on why those projects have been built and if Canberra has played a significant role in making those projects get off the ground,” she said.  “And then if the electricity is then being used by Canberra, the ACT has then brought in the investment for plants.”

“That is also reflected in some of the local businesses that now exist in Canberra, like Reposit Power for instance, businesses are being attracted to Canberra because it is a better investment environment for renewable energy than other parts of the country.”

April 11, 2016 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming, energy | Leave a comment

Australian Capital Territory funding battery storage in homes

sunbattery storage in homes  A new ACT Government renewable energy auction will help pay for battery storage in thousands of Canberra homes.

The auction for 109 megawatts of renewable energy feed-in tariff capacity begins today.

Minister for the Environment and Climate Change Simon Corbell said it would complete the Territory’s investment to meet its commitment of using renewable sources to supply 90 per cent of Canberra’s electricity needs by 2020.

He said successful bidders would provide the money needed to establish a photovoltaic battery storage program in the ACT.

“We expect up to $25 million to be available to support about 26MW of battery storage to be rolled out in more than 5,000 Canberra homes and businesses over the next four years,” Mr Corbell said.

“This will represent the largest deployment outside of Germany.”

Mr Corbell said photovoltaic battery storage would put renewable energy on demand when it was needed and reduce the need for network investment.

“It is exciting to see the 90 per cent renewable energy target on track to be completed on time and with minimal flow-on cost for the Canberra community,” he said.

Mr Corbell said the request for proposals would close in May.

April 1, 2016 Posted by | ACT, storage | Leave a comment

Canberra’s renewable energy now paying dividends

Aust-sunACT government leads the way on renewable energy March 6 2016 The Canberra Times
The ACT government’s commendable commitment to renewable energy has the potential to deliver for this community on a number of levels.

The first, and most obvious, is that Canberrans have shifted further away from dependence on fossil fuel generated electricity than almost any other mainland state or territory.

The second is that while the ACT government’s 2015 commitment to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025 was initially mocked in some circles, the aspirational nature of that goal is now paying dividends.

The territory is expected to reach 60 per cent of power generation from renewables by the end of next year and 90 per cent by 2020. Both of these figures are impressive given the federal government’s much more modest target of 23.5 per cent from renewables by the end of the decade.

That Canberra’s commitment to this path occurred at the same time the federal government was openly hostile to investment in renewables and after former treasurer Joe Hockey said wind farms were a blight on the landscape makes it even more remarkable.

The announcement that, as a result of the “reverse auction” process initiated by the territory, Sapphire has been awarded a contract to build a local 100 megawatt hour windfarm​ for completion by April 2018, is the latest in a number of positive steps…….

With the Royalla 20 megawatt solar power plant in operation since September 2014 and the 13 megawatt Mugga Lane solar park expected to come on line this year, considerable expertise is already available on the solar power front as well……

It is remarkable that these achievements have been delivered while, at the same time, local power consumers continue to enjoyed the lowest electricity prices in the nation.

March 7, 2016 Posted by | ACT, energy | Leave a comment

Sapphire Wind Farm to bring huge benefits to Australian Capital Territory’s economy

Wind turbines in Azerbaijan. Latest wind auction winner promises millions in benefits to Canberra economy, SMH March 4, 2016 –  Legislative Assembly reporter at The Canberra Times The fifth and final winner of the ACT government’s large-scale wind reverse-auction will provide enough power for more than 48,000 Canberra homes.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Simon Corbell has announced Sapphire Wind Farm, 18 kilometres west of Glenn Innes in north-eastern New South Wales, as the latest successful proponent from the government’s second wind auction, promising an estimated $100 million dollars in economic benefits to the ACT

Sapphire has been awarded a feed-in-tariff of $89.10 per mW/h for 100mW capacity. The company will spend $34 million on development of an ACT-based asset and operations management centre, relocating operations from Newcastle.

“In a win for local companies, the developers will give preference to ACT based businesses when awarding contracts for the construction of the wind farm – worth at least $5 million,” Mr Corbell said.

A spokesman for Mr Corbell said the consortium behind the bid included companies Continental Wind Partners and Wind Energy Holdings.

“By the time Sapphire starts producing energy in 2018, the ACT will be sourcing 80 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources and well on the way to achieving 90 per cent by 2020,” Mr Corbell said.

In August last year, the government called for bids in its second wind auction to power up to 106,000 Canberra homes, seeking 200 megawatts in new capacity  to come online within three years.

It follows two previous auctions: in 2013, three solar farms won 20-year feed-in deals, delivering 40 megawatts capacity, and in a wind auction earlier this year three wind farms won similar deals, delivering 200 megawatts among  them.

CWP Renewables managing director Alex Hewitt said the auction result had allowed commencement of construction of what will be the largest wind farm in the NSW.

March 4, 2016 Posted by | ACT, wind | Leave a comment

Canberra’s Williamsdale Solar Farm approved

Green Light For Canberra’s Williamsdale Solar Farm February 1, 2016 Energy Matters

The ACT’s Minister for Planning and Land Management has approved a development proposal for a 11.18MW solar farm to be constructed south of Canberra, near Williamsdale.

The proposal was “called in”, meaning the Minister assumed the role of assessment manager for the development application. The Minister is able to call in a project if a development is considered a major policy issue, has a major effect on government objectives and provides a substantial benefit.

“Once completed, the solar farm will power more than 2500 homes, contributing to the Territory’s renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets,” said Minister Mick Gentleman.

“Under the Territory’s greenhouse gas reduction strategy, renewable energy will account for roughly 73 per cent of the emission reductions needed if the ACT is to reach its legislated 2020 target.”

The solar farm will be situated on farmland near the Monaro Highway and Angle Crossing Road in Tuggeranong, at a site just a couple of hundred metres from the ACT’s border with New South Wales. The new solar power station will be around 10 kilometres from the 24MW Royalla Solar Farm.

Minister Gentleman stated he has imposed strict conditions on the development as part of his decision, in order to address concerns raised in four submissions by members of the community. One of those conditions is that non-glare materials be used. Appropriate landscaping works will also be carried out and sufficient bushfire management measures put in place.

Even with the conditions imposed on the Williamsdale project, some still aren’t happy the project is going ahead and feel the consultation process was lacking.

The Williamsdale site wasn’t the first choice for the solar farm. It was originally proposed to be built adjacent to Uriarra Village. However, many Uriarra Village residents were strongly opposed to the project; primarily on the basis of aesthetics and what they stated was a lack of procedural fairness.

The ACT has a legislated target of 90% renewable energy by 2020; a goal it appears it will reach. In August, ACT Labor proposed an even more ambitious renewables target – 100% by 2025.

January 31, 2016 Posted by | ACT, solar | Leave a comment

Record low price for wind energy achieved in ACT deal with South Australia

Wind turbines in Azerbaijan. Record price for renewable energy achieved in new wind farm deal, ACT Government says

A record low in pricing for renewable energy has been set as part of a deal to buy power from a South Australian wind farm, the ACT Environment Minister says.

The French-developed Hornsdale wind farm has been selected to supply power to the ACT, at a cost of $77 per megawatt hour.

Located just north of Jamestown in South Australia, the wind farm will eventually power 56,000 Canberra houses, providing 13 per cent of the ACT’s projected electricity demand by 2020. Continue reading

December 30, 2015 Posted by | ACT, South Australia | 1 Comment

Solar farm for Parkes, could double as sheep farm

French company plans 240ha solar farm for Parkes Landholders adjoining a proposed solar farm near Parkes in central west New South Wales are being assured they will not be adversely affected by the development. The proponent Neoen is planning a 240-hectare plant west of the town that will include about 245,000 solar panels.

Cattle producer John Smeaton plans to lease his land to the company and says planting trees around the site will address any concerns about glare.

solar and sheepHe said he was confident the area would remain productive and become ideal for grazing sheep.”These panels, cattle would wreck them, the only thing they could run there could be sheep,” Mr Smeaton said.

“Some of the other neighbours might be interested in running sheep there.

“From a fire prevention point of view I think it’s necessary for something to take the grass down, because it’s fertile farm land and the grass can grow a metre or more high and it grows hot when it burns.”

The company plans to create 120 jobs during construction if it is successful in getting grant funding and planning approvals next year. Mr Smeaton said it would also have tourism potential.

December 21, 2015 Posted by | ACT, solar | 1 Comment