Tilting 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
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, Giles Parkinson 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………https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/jul/06/climate-change-how-victoria-trumped-new-south-wales-in-the-great-renewable-energy-race
NSW to double existing solar farm capacity with four new plants approved, SMH, Peter Hannam 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
Solar usage through the roof in South West https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/31844405/solar-usage-through-the-roof-in-sw/ Daniel Mercer – The West Australian on June 16, 2016,
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.
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, Michael Slezak, 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 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 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……http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/25/nsw-last-in-class-on-climate-council-report-card-for-renewable-energy-use
New world record set for converting sunlight to electricity http://www.gizmag.com/solar-cell-electricity-efficiency-world-record-unsw/43384/ Eric Mack 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
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.”
China’s fossil fuel transformation places axe over controversial Shenhua coal mine in New England, The Age, March 29, 2016 Heath Aston 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.” http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/chinas-fossil-fuel-transformation-places-axe-over-controversial-shenhua-coal-mine-in-new-england-20160329-gnt98y.html
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.
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.
Anti-protest laws giving police greater powers pass NSW parliament http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/mar/16/anti-protest-laws-giving-police-greater-powers-pass-nsw-parliament
Anti-coal seam gas protesters could be jailed for seven years under laws described as a ‘crackdown on democratic rights’ Trespassing anti-coal seam gas advocates face heavier fines and greater jail sentences with tough new anti-protest laws passing through NSW parliament.
With the support of the Shooters and Fishers party and Christian Democrat Fred Nile, the controversial legislation was passed 20-16 in the upper house on Wednesday after minor amendments to the original proposal.
The bill gives police greater powers to search without a warrant, seize items and move protesters on, while fines for illegal entry to mining and CSG sites have increased tenfold from $550 to $5500.
Anti-CSG protesters who interfere with gas sites – including those who chain themselves to machinery – will also be exposed to a maximum jail sentence of seven years.
The Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham, who along with Labor voted against the legislation, condemned the changes as a “jackboot police crackdown on democratic rights”.
The Labor MP Adam Searle also spoke out against the bill’s “sinister” provisions.
“This legislation strikes at the heart of a fundamental aspect of our society – the right to peacefully protest,” he told parliament during hours of fierce debate.
But the premier, Mike Baird, defended the legislation, saying he didn’t believe it was too harsh.
“It’s quite simple, peaceful protests are fine,” Baird said. “Anyone that wants to disrupt a business or ultimately act illegally and puts the lives of themselves and others at risk, well we’ve put these measures in and I think it’s appropriate.”
About 500 protesters shut down a part of Sydney’s CBD to rally against the proposed changes on Tuesday.
A Reachtel poll commissioned by the NSW Nature Conservation Council this week also showed 61.4% of people opposed increasing police powers and fines for protest action.
The NSW Law Society said lawyers were concerned the legislation could seriously interfere with people’s human rights liberties.
Meanwhile, the NSW Unions movement says it’s considering launching a high court challenge against the laws.
The proposed protest laws would give police new powers to break up protests, to search and destroy private property. If police say just one person obstructs traffic, they can shut down an entire peaceful assembly.
This is a slippery slope that gives police discretion to silence dissent and could turn NSW into a police state. Far from being a moderate, Baird is taking NSW down the sad road of Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland.
The laws will allow police to arrest anyone carrying or operating anything the police think will be used in a protest. Police would be able to arrest you and confiscate and destroy your car, for example, if they think it will be used to disrupt business in a protest. What has happened to the presumption of innocence?
Protesters could be fined more for opposing illegal mining activity than miners could for operating illegally.
Mike Baird’s anti-protest laws risk turning NSW into Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/mike-bairds-anti-protest-laws-risk-turning-nsw-into-bjelke-petersens-queensland-20160315-gnj4to.html March 15 2016 Naomi Hodgson
*Poll: More than 60 per cent of voters opposed Mining protesters could face seven years’ jail
*Freedom of speech and freedom of association are cornerstones of democracy. Continue reading
The Government should scrap these sites, admit they got it wrong, and then apologise to the people this has affected. They should then start a responsible and correct process to decide what to do with the waste- not just pushing it on regional and rural communities with promises of financial gain. They need to find out a way to stop making more nuclear waste and research what we can do or use instead.
We’re under a nuclear cloud but we’re not backing down, Beyond Nuclear March 11, 2016/ By Robyn Rayner. Farmers contend regularly with fire, flood and drought, but fine wool producer Robyn Rayner never expected to be fighting off plans for a radioactive waste dump across the road from her property
How would you feel if you woke up one morning and was told via a media report that you could be living next door to a nuclear waste dump?
On November 13 last year the Federal Government announced a shortlist of six sites, from twenty eight volunteered properties around Australia, for a proposed national radioactive waste dump. A property at Hill End was named. Since then our lives have been turned upside down. My husband Geoff and I, along with our family, own and run Pomanara Merino Stud directly across the road from the proposed site. It is just 1.5km from our family home. We are second-generation woolgrowers and our son James would like to be the third. This may not be important to Government Departments, but it is to us. This nuclear waste will also be around for generations to come, wherever they put it.
We have worked long and hard to achieve the clean, green and sustainable label that we have today. Our region is renown for growing the best superfine wool in the world and we have won many major awards for the sheep we breed. At no time did the landowner who nominated his property consult with neighbours, nor did he take into consideration the environment or the village of Hill End, located nine kilometres away. Hill End is a historic precinct that host 5000 school children a year and over 100 000 other visitors. The nominated property backs onto the Turon River, a major waterway for the food bowl of Australia. Continue reading
By LOUISE EDDY March 9, 2016, The past three months have seen three unlikely environmental advocates embark on a journey that has taken them all the way to Canberra and the halls of power.
A very comprehensive 2010 OECD Nuclear Energy Agency report found reactor based isotope production requires significant taxpayer subsidies, as the cost of sale does not cover the cost of production.
The report concludes: “In many cases the full impact of Mo-99/Tc-99m provision was not transparent to or appreciated by governments… The full costs of waste management, reactor operations, fuel consumption, etc were not included in the price structure. This is a subsidisation by one country’s taxpayers of another country’s health care system. Many governments have indicated that they are no longer willing to provide such subsidisation.”
What is needed urgently is a debate about how much waste we make. We have a choice: whether we follow ANSTO’s expensive business model to ramp up reactor manufacture (and the long-lived radioactive waste that goes with it), or collaborate with Canada to develop cyclotron manufacture of isotopes that does not produce long-lived nuclear waste.
Debunking the myths around medicine and a nuclear waste dump
The Federal government is seeking a location for a nuclear waste facility. But the provision of information to communities has been problematic, with some major flaws.
Claims have been made that provision of nuclear medicine services is a key reason to build it, but existing medical waste makes up a very small proportion of the total waste requiring disposal.
In addition, little has been said about ANSTO’s business plan to greatly ramp up Australia’s reactor based production of isotopes from 1 per cent to over 25 per cent of the world’s market, which will massively increase the amount of long-lived radioactive waste produced in the future.
A new process may reduce the volume of the waste, but the actual quantity of radioactive material to store will be significantly greater, and will become most of the radioactive waste Australia produces.
In Australia nuclear medicine isotopes are indeed useful, but according to Medicare figures represent less than 3 per cent of medical imaging. They are most commonly used for bone scans and some specialised heart scans. They are not needed (as claimed by government) for normal X-rays, most heart scans and the vast majority of cancer treatments (surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy). Continue reading
Moree solar farm starts feeding energy into grid http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-29/moree-solar-farm-starts-feeding-the-grid/7207942 ABC New England By Kelly Fuller The largest single-axis tracking solar farm in the country is now feeding energy back into the grid from Moree in New South Wales.
The solar farm is led by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) and has been funded with assistance of a $102 million grant from Australian Renewable Energy Agency and $47 million in debt financing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
At full capacity the project is expected to generate 140,000 megawatt hours per annum, or the equivalent energy to supply the needs of 15,000 homes.
The company’s country manager Cameron Gamsworthy said feeding energy back into the grid was a significant step in the project’s development.
“It’s absolutely a major milestone. We’re now generating clean, renewable energy for the country,” he said. “[We are] looking forward to getting the project fully commissioned over the course of the next month.”
The farm’s 222,000 panels are expected to have a life of 30 years, and the company hopes the project will be at full capacity in a month’s time.
Mr Gamsworthy said FRV was considering other projects in the region.
Farm solar is the future
While the Moree project is unique, a University of New England academic said there was a growing demand for solar energy, particularly among rural communities.
“Farmers are getting more and more hungry for mobile technology that can be distributed around the farm,” said Professor David Lamb, from the university’s Smart Farm. “It could be a little water bore pump or some sort of gate alarm system or a trough monitor,” he said. “All of these technologies are going to need solar themselves because we obviously don’t want powerlines running around farms.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are literally thousands of little solar panels balancing on the back seat of old tractors that are used to keep the battery alive while it is left out in the weather for the next start.”At the end of the day the solar panel is becoming the set of pliers on a farm — you see them everywhere you look.”
Professor Lamb said the university was putting up ‘smart trees’ around the Smart Farm. “We literally have little sensors in the trees showing the amount of water these guys suck out of the ground, and each and every one of these trees has their own solar panel,” he said.
“[It] is quite ironic when you consider that trees are one of the most efficient harvesters of solar energy that we know.”