Australian news, and some related international items

Mike Baird’s New South Wales government – more “creative accounting” on #climate change

Mike Baird is going rogue on climate change, The Age, Christine Milne , 3 Nov 16.In NSW the Baird government is set to give the green light to land clearing that will increase our greenhouse gas emissions just as the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees and pursue a more ambitious 1.5 degrees limit comes into effect on Thursday. Premier Baird is going rogue on climate.

As the world meets in Morocco for COP22, Australia will be under scrutiny as never before. Not only have we not ratified the Paris Agreement, we are increasingly being seen as cheating the process with rubbery figures. To meet the Paris Agreement objectives, negative emissions will be required. That is pulling CO2 from the atmosphere at the same time as reducing emissions from all sources. The Baird government is doing the opposite, increasing emissions from coal and coal seam gas at the same time as pushing up emissions from land clearing.

The rest of the world is sick of Australia’s creative accounting using land use, land use change and forestry, or LULUCF, as a “get out of jail free card” to “offset” its rising greenhouse gas emissions from industry. Australia has argued that while its emissions from coal-fired power stations, industries, cars and transport fleet vehicles and fugitive emissions from gas are rising, they are offset by our forests.

That is the basis of the Turnbull government’s Emission Reduction Fund. It has spent over $1 billion paying farmers not to clear or to regrow forests so polluters can keep on polluting. People think the fund must be invested in upgrading industry. Wrong, it has been overwhelmingly paid to farmers.

That is why the Baird government’s proposed changes are so bad. Not only will they destroy biodiversity and send species to extinction by destroying habitat, they will undermine efforts to meet our greenhouse gas reduction targets by cancelling out any reductions that may have been made through the ERF……….

In its reports to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Australia said that from 2005- 2013 land use emissions dropped by 10 per cent but admitted that they will increase by 8 per cent from 2013 to 2020. As part of a peer review process, other countries can ask questions and they have leapt at the chance.

The US asked: “Can you explain what caused this reversal from downward trend to upward trend?” Australia has not yet answered but it is obvious that the Liberal governments of Newman, Baird and Malcolm Turnbull are to blame.

The European Union has noted:”Australia updates some details on ‘avoided clearing of native regrowth’, stating that projected increases in land clearing will be offset by low rates of native forest harvesting. Noting that tree-clearing controls were instrumental in Australia meeting its Kyoto commitment, have the emissions projections been adjusted to account for the updates?”…..

This cannot go on. The offsetting, lies and rubbery figures must stop. Carbon in the landscape must be increased, not decreased. The Baird government’s new land clearing laws must be stopped and if NSW won’t act the federal government should step in to make it happen.

Christine Milne is the former leader of the Australian Greens.

November 3, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

New South Wales households lose feedin tariff benefits

Households face steep hike in power charges as solar subsidies end, The Age, 28 Oct 16 Brian Robins Tens of thousands of households are facing a surge in their electricity bills from the start of the new year as the NSW government’s subsidy for rooftop solar panels expires.

This could add more than $1600 to the annual electricity bill as the so-called ‘feed-in tariff’, the price received for surplus electricity sold into the electricity grid, is slashed by as much as 90 per cent in some cases.

Under the original government program, households which installed solar systems received as much as 60¢ a kilowatt hour for surplus electricity sold into the grid. This will fall to 6¢, or possibly less, depending on the deals done with your electricity retailer. The state government’s pricing regulator IPART, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, has recommended electricity companies pay 5.5-7.2¢ per kilowatt hour for electricity bought from households with solar systems…….

October 31, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

New South Wales govt push for electricity interconnector with South Australia

NSW push for electricity interconnector with South Australia, SMH, Kirsty Needham , 2 Oct 16  The Baird government will push for a high-voltage interconnector to be built between NSW and South Australia following South Australia’s blackout, convinced the incident has highlighted the need for national energy security.

NSW Minister for Energy Anthony Roberts will attend an emergency meeting of COAG’s Energy Council on Friday, where the South Australian government is expected to seek to speed up a proposal to build the new interconnector between South Australia and the east coast.


The $500 million proposal would involve South Australia’s ElectraNet and NSW’s Transgrid constructing a 300-kilometre transmission route, potentially between Buronga in NSW and Robertson in South Australia, that could supply surplus electricity from NSW.

NSW can already exchange power with Queensland and Victoria.

The project must first be approved by the Australian Energy Regulator because the construction cost will ultimately be passed on to electricity consumers.

But the Baird government argues the interconnector would not only ensure the lights stay on but also boost the growth of the NSW renewable energy sector, particularly solar farms in regional NSW, which would be able to access South Australian customers…….

The NSW Greens energy spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said: “NSW should adopt a state-based renewable energy target, otherwise all the investment and jobs in the clean energy sector will be attracted to other states that do have state-based targets and NSW will miss out.

“Mike Baird can either dance with the coal-loving dinosaurs or he can embrace the booming clean energy future.”

ElectraNet is expected to lodge an application for approval for the interconnector project by the end of the year. An analysis by PWC for Transgrid has estimated the cost to NSW households at $8 a year.

October 3, 2016 Posted by | energy, New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Community solar fund shares sold out in nine minutes!

solar-panels-and-money“Although this is only a particularly small project, what it is is it represents the first community solar lease product in Australia, it represents the first community solar cooperative fund and it represents the first crowdfunded equity community solar project,”

Community Solar Co-Op Shares Sells Out in Minutes Renewable energy organisation Pingala sold out of shares in nine minutes for its first community solar fund. Pingala partnered with the environmentally-conscious Young Henrys brewery in Newtown, Sydney to build a solar farm on its roof, which will save an estimated 127 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

The newly launched Pingala Cooperative, which sits alongside the Pingala Not for Profit, allows the organisation to raise funds from member investors to install solar panels on its partner businesses.

“We then lease the solar to the business, so they pay us a fee to be able to use the equipment as though it were their own, and through that we get a revenue stream that allows us to pay our costs and generate a small profit,” Pingala secretary Tom Nockolds told Pro Bono Australia News.

“So we’re offering our investors between 5 and 8 per cent… return on investment. But they’re investing in Pingala on an ongoing basis, so there’s no predetermined timeline for when investors get their money back, it’s totally up to the investors themselves to decide when they want to sell their shares, it’s much like buying shares in a company. Continue reading

August 24, 2016 Posted by | business, New South Wales, solar | 1 Comment

Safety concerns about Lucas Heights Nuclear Wastes repatriated from France

safety-symbolFight To Stop Nuclear Waste In The Flinders Ranges   Paul Levai  16 AugLucas-wastes 16 

Paul Levai Interesting trip to ANSTO. A few concerns that I will post as some stage soon but the main one is that the intermediate waste that they propose to store here is our spent fuel rod waste from the old Lucas Heights HIFAR reactor that has been sent to France for reprocessing and must be returned to us as intermediate waste.

 BUT the scary part is that rather than design and build a new container system for the ILW ( that would be easily identifiable) they decided to use an existing design container for HLW (high level waste) because its cheaper and easier and they think it will alleviate safety concerns (better and stronger).

BUT the problem is that NO ONE knows what the French could pack into these containers, we can’t open them and check…and the same container is used to store their high level waste from their Nuclear Power reactors… they could send us anything either deliberately or by mistake!

Australia completes first phase of its waste repatriation project ANSTO :The The shipment of repatriated waste left France on 15 October, arrived in Port Kembla on 5 December, and was safely transported to the interim storage facility at Lucas Heights the following day (6 December, 2015).

ANSTO thanks the State and Federal Government agenciesthat were involved in “Operation Cormorant”, particularly the NSW Police and Australian Federal Police who have worked tirelessly on the repatriation.
The repatriated material will be temporarily held at ANSTO’s interim waste facility, which has been approved by all relevant regulatory agencies, until it is moved to the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility……

August 17, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, safety | Leave a comment

Cutback in solar payments: smart meters might help

solar-panels-and-moneyFrom solar boom to bill shock: Australians face loss of rooftop payments
About 275,000 people across the country will have their solar energy payments reduced by up to 80% over the next six months,
Guardian,  31 July 16  “……. more than 275,000 people across Australia who will see the subsidised payments they receive for their solar energy disappear over the next six months, replaced with rates up to 80% lower.

The solar boom in Australia, which has led to 1.5m households generating their own electricity from the sun, was accelerated by subsidised payments for people who sell solar-generated electricity back to the grid.

In some cases, like Shaw’s, solar customers were able to receive more than twice the money for the electricity they put in the grid, compared with what they paid for electricity they took out of it.

But for a lot of homes and businesses, those schemes are coming to an end over the next six months and, if they’re not prepared, they will be heading towards some serious bill shock.

Customers in New South Wales, who got the most generous rate, will be in for the biggest hit and will need to do the most to adapt to the changes…….

While about 150,000 homes and business will be kicked off these schemes in NSW on 1 January 2017, the party is ending for about 130,000 customers inVictoria and South Australia too.

(Others are on schemes that will continue for years to come. So if people are confused about their own feed-in tariffs, they should ask their retailer what’s happening with them.)…….

Smart meters

The issue of what kind of meter to get is a minefield right now, with different issues affecting consumers depending on where they are, and options are changing rapidly.

One thing that can help anyone make the most of their solar electricity is a smart meter, says Claire O’Rourke, national director of Solar Citizens, a group that lobbies on behalf of solar customers.

A smart meter can be read remotely, and can tell when the most power is being drawn, helping maximise the benefits. They can also open up services such as time-of-use tariffs, providing savings for people who avoid using energy during periods of high demand.

“You’re probably better off with a smart meter but they do have an increased cost,” says O’Rourke.

Some retailers are offering discounts for smart meters in return for fixed-term contracts. “It is really in the interest of consumers to shop around,” she says.

For many people right now a smart meter could be overkill. The smart meter will either be paid upfront, or in the case of free meters offered by retailers, will be paid for through increased tariffs, says Moyse. Whether the meter will allow consumers to recoup that cost is unclear.

For people outside NSW, the lowest-cost option is to keep their current meter, at least until it’s clear a smart meter is worth it. Outside NSW, the current meter will work fine on the new deals.

Unfortunately, for most people on the NSW solar bonus scheme, their meters will need to be replaced……..

the loss of generous feed-in tariffs is driving interest in battery storage, says Chris Cooper, chief executive of Suncrowd, a company using group purchasing power to get cheaper prices for batteries.

“It’s a bit of a trigger point for people to look at new technology,” Cooper says. So far Suncrowd has run its first round in Newcastle, and had about 200 homes join together and buy batteries at discount rates.

He says lots of the customers who have been approaching Suncrowd have been people coming off the NSW solar bonus scheme. Having a battery added to an existing solar system can significantly increase “solar self-sufficiency”, Cooper says, a measure of how much the customer relies on solar rather than electricity from the grid. “With an appropriately sized battery you can boost it from 20% to about 60 or 70% self-sufficiency,” he says.  Cooper says Suncrowd is building an online tool to help people calculate their solar self-sufficiency and have been showing it to people at events they’ve been holding. “People are really motivated by seeing the numbers go up,” he says…….

August 1, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, solar | 1 Comment

Tough new guidelines for New South Wales wind farms

wind-farm-evil-1Tilting against windmills? Industry doubts NSW support for wind farms, SMH, Peter Hannam, 28 July 16  New wind farm guidelines are expected to impose tough requirements on developers to limit their visual impact in a move that proponents say will put NSW at a disadvantage to other states.

The proposed guidelines, requiring developers to prepare visual impact assessments according to the height of turbines, were disclosed by the planning department to a select group of prospective wind energy developers on the sidelines of a two-day clean energy summit in Sydney on Thursday. Continue reading

July 29, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, wind | Leave a comment

Victoria is beating New South Wales in the renewable energy race

Parkinson-Report-Climate change: how Victoria trumped New South Wales in the great renewable energy race
Wind and solar energy projects are set to be the big winners of the state’s ambitious renewable energy targets, Guardian,  6 July 16 
 Victoria’s ambitious renewable energy targets will see a doubling of the state’s wind energy capacity.

Two years ago Rob Stokes, the then environment minister for New South Wales, promised that his state could become Australia’s answer to California in the clean energy industry.

“We are making NSW No 1 in energy and environmental policy,” Stokes, a Liberal,told the Clean Energy Week gathering in Sydney in July 2014.“When it comes to clean energy, we can be Australia’s answer to California.”

It was a bold vision, and a laudable one, but it didn’t turn out that way.

Investment in large-scale renewable energy, apart from some federally funded large-scale solar projects, has all but dried up. In May, a report by the Climate Council rated NSW as the “worst place” for renewable energy investment in Australia.

It’s ironic because NSW has the biggest pipeline of undeveloped renewable energy projects in the country. But now other states are seeking to grab a bigger share of the renewable energy pie, particularly as traditional industries of car manufacturing and steel-making face an uncertain future.

Last month Victoria became the latest Labor government to announce renewable energy targets over and above the federal target, announcing it would aim to have 25% of its electricity served by renewable energy by 2020, and 40% by 2025.

That compares with a national target that translates to about a 23% by 2020, and the Australian Capital Territory’s 100% target by 2020, Queensland’s 50% target by 2030 and South Australia’s 50% target by 2025, a percentage it is likely to reach later this year.

ut Victoria’s target appears the most ambitious of the lot, simply for the sheer number of new wind and solar farms that will be needed to meet the target. And it also intends to have legislation in place from next year that will ensure the target is met.

The 40% by 2025 target translates into some 5,400MW of new renewable energy capacity to be installed within the next 10 years. That will be almost exclusively wind and solar farms and is three times as much renewable energy capacity as the state has installed up till now and nearly equal to the national target for 2020.

“This is an ambitious target but a very achievable target,” says the Victorian energy minister, Lily D’Ambrosio. She intends to adopt the system of “reverse auctions” pioneered successfully by the ACT, which will have some 600MW of large scale renewables in place by 2020 to meet its own 100% target.

Already, under a previously announced tender designed to support wind projects, the Victorian government has signed contracts that will help two windfarms be built over the next year – a 13-turbine windfarm at Kiata near Horsham and a 44-turbine windfarm at Mount Gellibrand near Colac………

July 8, 2016 Posted by | energy, New South Wales, Victoria | Leave a comment

New South Wales leading the nation with large scale solar farms

solar PV nyngan NSWNSW to double existing solar farm capacity with four new plants approved, SMH,  ENVIRONMENT EDITOR, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD  23 JUNE 16 The Baird government has granted planning approval for four new large-scale solar plants, potentially more than doubling the existing capacity in the state.

The four plants approved for construction have a combined capacity of 175 megawatts (MW), and would generate another electricity for 56,000 homes if built. “NSW is Australia’s large-scale solar leader, with the country’s three largest solar farms and hundreds of megawatts of solar electricity capacity online and in the pipeline,” planning minister Rob Stokes said. Continue reading

June 24, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Ever-growing boom in rooftop solar energy in New South Wales

community solarSolar usage through the roof in South West Daniel Mercer – The West Australian on June 16, 2016, 

Almost one-quarter of households in WA’s biggest power grid have rooftop solar panels, according to a report that predicts production from the systems will more than double within 10 years.

In its first snapshot of the South West electricity market since getting responsibility for it last year, the Australian Energy Market Operator will today report that the number of solar panels had trebled in six years.

AEMO said there were 180,000 customers with solar panels across the network from Kalbarri to Kalgoorlie and south to Albany, compared with 165,000 a year ago and just 60,000 in 2011.

Though the latest figure represents more than 18 per cent of State-owned power provider Synergy’s entire customer base, the percentage of households with solar cells is even bigger.

AEMO says 22.5 per cent of South West network households have a system, making WA third for solar panels behind Queensland and South Australia.

The Melbourne-based body also found households and businesses were using bigger systems with the average size of new installations doubling over five years to 4.5kW.

AEMO said the growth rate in solar panel installations in WA was unlikely to slow as prices fell, electricity tariffs rose and subsidies continued. It said the amount of electricity solar panels generated would almost treble between 2016-17 and 2025-26.

One consequence would be flatter demand from the grid as more people generated electricity. With battery storage developing rapidly, the shift from grid power could accelerate with cost implications for customers unable or unwilling to use solar.

June 17, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

New South Wales lags behind in renewable energy use

NSW last in class on Climate Council report card for renewable energy use
South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory take the green podium for their efforts and policies pushing renewable energy targets,
Guardian, , 26 May 16. New South Wales is the worst Australian state at driving renewable energy, and South Australia and the ACT lead the pack, a report produced by the Climate Council has found.

The results came just weeks after South Australia closed its last coal power station, and the ACT announced a target to source 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The report examined state and territory percentages of renewable electricity, the amount of large-scale renewable capacity per capita and the policy settings driving renewables.

NSW was bottom of the class in every category except rooftop solar. But it beat only Tasmania, which receives less solar radiation than any state or territory.

The Climate Council gave South Australia the highest score; 40% of its electricity comes from renewables, and it has a 50% renewable energy target for 2025 and a substantial large-scale renewable capacity.Tasmania was ranked second, with 95% of its electricity coming from renewables, but a low level of large-scale renewables besides hydro and a low uptake of rooftop solar.

The territories had no comparable data for the percentage of their electricity that came from renewables, so they were scored separately. But the ACT was singled out as a leader for its 100% renewable energy target, which it will achieve using reverse auctions for large-scale renewable energy.

In the middle of the pack were Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria, although Queensland recently overtook South Australia with rooftop solar, now at 29.6% of households.

NSW and Victoria were the only states to have decreased the percentage of their electricity sourced from renewables. Between 2013 and 2014, NSW’s share of renewable energy dropped from 7% to 6% and Victoria’s from 12% to 10%. The Northern Territory was highlighted as lagging, along with NSW, with no specific renewable energy targets or policies and a low uptake of rooftop solar……

May 27, 2016 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

University of New South Wales team sets new world record for converting sunlight to electricity

map-Sunshine-CoastNew world record set for converting sunlight to electricity   May 17, 2016 An Australian team has set a new record for squeezing as much electricity as possible out of direct, unfocused sunlight via a new solar cell configuration. Engineers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) achieved 34.5 percent sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiency, a new mark that also comes closer than ever to the theoretical limits of such a system.

UNSW’s Dr. Mark Keevers and Professor Martin Green set the record with a 28 centimeter-square (4.3 sq in), four-junction mini-module embedded in a prism. This new configuration allows the sun’s rays to be split into four bands so that a higher amount of energy can be extracted from each beam.

The same team reached an even higher level of efficiency a few years back using mirrored concentrators that were able to convert 40 percent of incoming sunlight to electricity. However, this new record is the highest level achieved without the use of concentrators.

“What’s remarkable is that this level of efficiency had not been expected for many years,” said Green, citing a German study that set a goal of 35 percent efficiency to be reached by 2050.

The team does not expect that its record-breaking cell configuration will find its way on to home or office rooftops anytime soon, as they are more costly to manufacture. The group is working to reduce the complexity to make them cheaper to produce and sees a future for them on solar towers that make use of concentrating mirrors.

Meanwhile, efficiency gains are also being made in the development of organic solar cells that are cheaper and more flexible. There’s still a long way to go though, as the most recent record for organic photovoltaics set in February was 13.2 percent efficiency.  Source: University of New South Wales

May 21, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, New South Wales, solar | Leave a comment

Environment groups slam NSW government attempts to generate interest in uranium trade.

logo Beyond NuclearThe future is renewable, not radioactive: Environment groups slam NSW government attempts to generate interest in uranium trade.

Environment groups have slammed attempts by the NSW government to talk up the potential for uranium exploration as well as coal seam gas to international investors.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday that at a conference held in Toronto in March, Department of NSW Trade and Investment spruiked NSW as a ‘greenfields’ opportunity for uranium, citing areas in the central west around Broken Hill and the New England region as possible hotspots.

Beyond Nuclear Initiative coordinator Natalie Wasley said “Minister Roberts is going head first down a radioactive rabbit hole. The uranium industry is outdated and unsafe and it is flat lining economically.”

“When the uranium exploration moratorium was overturned in 2012, environment groups were joined by trade unions and medical organisations, as well as the state ALP and Greens parties to launch the NSW Uranium Free Charter. There has historically been strong opposition to uranium exploration and mining in NSW and this has not waned over time.”

“Attempts to open a uranium mining industry here will be challenged head on.”

Kerry Laws from Uranium Free NSW added: “NSW has the potential to be a leader in renewables, but the government is instead trying to drag the state back into the dirty dark ages of the uranium trade.”

“Minister Roberts and Premier Baird could give some substance to Turnbull’s innovation bandwagon, by exploring and mapping out renewable options, rather than resorting to an industry that both damages our land and creates by-products that remain toxic for 100,000 years.”

“The future is in regional, renewable industries.”

May 13, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, opposition to nuclear, uranium | Leave a comment

Axe over controversial Shenhua coal mine in New England

China’s fossil fuel transformation places axe over controversial Shenhua coal mine in New England, The Age, March 29, 2016  Political reporter  China Shenhua, which owns the contentious Shenhua-Watermark project on the NSW Liverpool Plains, has warned of plunging demand for fossil fuels and slashed its global budget for investing in new coal projects.

The company has surprised analysts with the depth of its pessimism on the coal market in its annual report released on Good Friday.

The proposed mine at Gunnedah is now almost certainly “commercially unviable”, according to Tim Buckley, Australasian director of the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis and it is only a question of whether the Chinese government proceeds to development in an attempt to “save face”, he said.

“I have no doubt the project doesn’t make any commercial sense unless the coal price doubles,” he said.

There is gathering speculation the Turnbull government is working on a political solution whereby the Baird Government would return Shenhua’s original $300 million exploration licence and allow the company to retreat with dignity……

NSW Greens’ mining and agriculture spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said Mr Joyce should negotiate a “swift and fair exit” for Shenhua.

“Even the world’s biggest coal miner has recognised that there is no need for new coal and it’s up to Barnaby Joyce to create certainty for the farmers of the Liverpool Plains by negotiating an exit for Shenhua,” he said.

“It’s unacceptable for this coal mine proposal to hang over the Liverpool Plains, causing uncertainty and stress, and hindering investment in agriculture.”

The politically toxic proposed coal mine at the centre of the election battle between Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Tony Windsor appears doomed after its Chinese owner outlined an accelerated transformation plan away from mining into cleaner electricity generation.

March 30, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Senate tables over 6,000 signatures against Hill End nuclear waste dump

Protest-No!18 Mar 16 NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon today tabled 6,282 signatures calling on the government to drop plans for a nuclear waste dump at Hill End. “Over 6,000 people have signed three petitions saying no to a nuclear waste dump at Hill End,” Senator Rhiannon said.

“The Hill End community has voted at three separate community meetings to unanimously oppose a nuclear waste dump and are strongly supported by their neighbouring towns, local councils and business groups.

“The Minister and the Department keep repeating that the nuclear waste dump won’t be imposed on communities that don’t want it.

“Yet the government has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money sending glossy packages promoting the dump to residents in Bathurst and Mudgee, after promising the Hill End community meetings that they had heard the message it wasn’t wanted.

“They’re now following up their promotional package blitz with survey phone calls and face to face visits to Hill End , Bathurst and Mudgee residents fishing for support. “It’s time the Government acknowledges that no one wants nuclear waste at Hill End,” Senator Rhiannon said.

March 17, 2016 Posted by | New South Wales, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment