Australian news, and some related international items

Queensland govt calls for large scale renewables hub near near major coal port

Queensland wants “huge renewables hub” built near major coal port, REneweconomy, By Sophie Vorrath on 20 April 2017 The Queensland government has earmarked one of the state’s major coal centres as a future renewable energy hub, calling for expressions of interest to develop up to 450MW of large-scale solar, wind or biofuels on a 1,248 hectare patch near Gladstone.

In a document published on Thursday, Economic Development Queensland (EDQ) said it was seeking to enter into an agreement with an organisation or consortia that “will act quickly” to develop a large scale solar farm or other renewable energy facility on government-owned land at Aldoga, within the Gladstone State Development area.

Gladstone – which is home to a 1,680MW coal-fired power station, the state’s largest electricity generator – is also known for its shipping port, which is largely used to export Australian coal and, more recently, LNG.

The government’s proposal to build up to 450MW of renewable energy capacity at Aldoga – more than half of the total 719MW currently installed in the state – offers a neat illustration of the shifting momentum in global energy markets, while also supporting the Palaszczuk government’s target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030……..The Aldoga site will be EDQ’s flagship renewable energy project and is part of the government’s Advancing Our Cities and Regions Strategy, which aims to renew and repurpose underutilised state land to generate jobs, and drive economic growth.

April 21, 2017 Posted by | energy, Queensland | Leave a comment

Enormous solar farm planned for Gympie area, Queensland

Queensland company lodges plan to build Australia’s biggest solar farm near Gympie, ABC News, By Bruce Atkinson, 19 Apr 17, A company proposing to build Australia’s largest solar farm near Gympie says the $2 billion facility will eventually supply about 15 per cent of south-east Queensland’s power needs.

Queensland company Solar Q has lodged a development application with the Gympie Council to build a solar farm and battery storage facility 30 kilometres north-west of the city.

The project will be built in stages, with initial approval being sought for a 350-megawatt facility, but within four years it is proposed to increase this to 800 megawatts or enough electricity to power about 315,000 homes.

Managing director Scott Armstrong said the finished facility would be the biggest in Australia but “the way the market is going is that there will be bigger projects that will come on”……..

When completed, around 3 million solar panels will provide power to the network on the 17-square-kilometre site. During peak consumption at night, the battery storage facility, which is powered by the grid, will ease the load on power stations……..

The proponents are not expecting any hurdles to approval from the Gympie Council or State Government agencies, Mr Armstrong said.

“Solar and battery storages are a static generation facility so it will produce minimal noise, it doesn’t emit, it doesn’t have particulates from chimney stacks, it doesn’t have ash dams, so we are not expecting any impediments with regards to getting approvals,” he said.

Once the approvals are in place Mr Armstrong expects the connection agreement with the transmission company will be finalised.

He said the project would be funded by private investors, including superannuation management funds.Work is expected to start by the end of the year…….

April 21, 2017 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Adani coal mine just does not make economic sense

Coal glut, cheaper renewables, Adani makes no sense at all,   As public angst over the prospective A$1 billion subsidy to coal magnate Guatam Adani hits fever pitch, a small company is modestly beavering away on another – more worthy – energy project in Far North Queensland.

Genex Power has turned the abandoned Kidston gold mine into a solar farm and pumped-hydro power storage project. Kidston will deliver 145MWh of renewable energy per year. This is enough to power 26,484 homes. In terms of reducing emissions, this is equivalent to taking 33,000 cars off Australian roads.

Like Adani, the Kidston project also got a leg-up from government. It won a grant of nearly A$9 million from ARENA, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and struck a deal with the state of Queensland to sell electricity for 20 years.

Unlike Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, however, the Kidston solar project has bankers and investors. Unlike Adani, whose labyrinthine corporate structure wends its way to the Cayman Islands, Genex is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, has a market value of A$70 million and is owned by small investors. When it delivers its first power in the next three months, it’s likely to pay tax on its profits.

The furore over Adani has so far centred on the putative subsidy for the rail line to cart the coal from the Galilee Basin to the coast. There is no rail line without a mine, however, and so the bigger question is: who is going to tip in the A$10 billion in project finance to build the mine?

Adani’s bankers have long fled the scene – not just for environmental reasons, but because the business case for building this, the world’s biggest new thermal coal mine, is sketchy.

The global seaborne coal market is in structural decline. There is a glut. Thermal coal futures prices are well below the spot price – and even at present spot prices, this is hardly a viable financial proposition…….

April 19, 2017 Posted by | business, Queensland | Leave a comment

Adani coal mine could become a massive stranded asset, lawyers warn

Loaning $900m for Adani’s central Queensland coal railway too risky, environmental lawyers say   The World Today  By Katherine Gregory Environmental lawyers have warned directors of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to not fund Adani’s proposed coal railway in central Queensland because it is in breach of their duties.

Key points:

  • Environmental Justice Australia writes to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, calling for its directors to not fund Adani’s coal railway
  • Lawyer says taxpayers exposed to financial risk if $900 million is loaned
  • Minister for Northern Australia Matt Canavan calls letter a bullying tactic

Indian coal miner Adani has been seeking a $900-million loan to build the railway line from its proposed mine site in the Galilee Basin to the Abbot Point coal port.

Not-for-profit legal group Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) said the Federal Government’s NAIF directors need to consider the financial risks associated with climate change and he warned the investment was not commercially viable.

Environmental lawyer David Barnden said EJA sent a letter to NAIF’s directors on Tuesday outlining the duty.  “The risks to the Adani rail project in the Galilee basin are too great,” Mr Barnden said.

“And there is a massive risk of it being a stranded asset and we think that if NAIF officials are to comply with their duties, then they cannot fund it.”

Mr Barnden said the directors were bound by statutory duties, according to the public governance and performance accountability act, which all Commonwealth public officials need to comply with.He said if they do decide to use taxpayer funds for Adani’s project, then “it would be a breach of law and a breach of a legal standard”.

Mr Barnden also said the Australian taxpayer would also be exposed to financial risk if NAIF decided to fund the project. “If there is no market for this coal, there’ll be no payment to the rail project and project couldn’t replay any loan to it,” Mr Barnden said.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) commissioned the environmental lawyers’ advice on the issue.

The ACF has been using all avenues, including legal options, to stop Adani’s coal mine, fearing it will contribute to climate change and also further damage the Great Barrier Reef……say$900m-loan-too-risky/8439582  

April 14, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

The 10 most-absurd things about the Adani mine.

Australia’s climate bomb: the senselessness of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine   Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies, Monash University April 12, 2017 Veteran environmental campaigner and former Greens senator Bob Brown has previously pointed to Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine as the new Franklin River of environmental protest in Australia. Yet the future of this “climate bomb” hangs in the balance.

The ongoing contest over the mine’s approval is about to get very heated. Some of the final decisions are to be made very soon.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared that native title claims would not impede the approval process, and that Adani would press ahead with its plans to seek A$1 billion in funding for the rail line needed to transport coal to Abbot Point for export.

The consequences of going ahead with the mine are almost incalculable. This is not simply because of the emissions it will produce, but from the fact it promotes and normalises the insanity that coal can still be “good for humanity”.

Here’s my list of the ten most-absurd things about the Adani mine. Continue reading

April 14, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

The Parkinson Report: Rooftop solar now Queensland’s biggest power station

Rooftop solar now Queensland’s biggest power station  on 12 April 2017 One Step Off The Grid

The 1,805MW of solar PV capacity on the rooftops of Queensland homes and business now amount to be the biggest power station by capacity in the state, overtaking the 1,780MW of the Gladstone coal fired power station.

The milestone was reached after homeowners and business owners in Queensland added 25MW of rooftop solar capacity  in the month of March, the highest since the premium feed-in tariffs of 2012, when households were offered 46c/kWh for their solar power.

Now, they get around 6c/kWh (some smaller retailers offer 10c/kWh) for their exports back to the grid, but the falling costs of rooftop solar, the prospect of competitive battery storage, and the soaring costs of grid power appear to be driving another solar boom.

The likely passing of the milestone was flagged last month by energy minister Mark Bailey, who told a battery storage conference in Brisbane that:

“The combined solar rooftops are now the second largest power generator, just behind the 1680 MW Gladstone Power Station – which emits approximately 11.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gas each year, versus zero from the sun and our second biggest generator.

“So Queensland, as a significant renewables market, is on the transition path. We see our role as a state government as being a facilitator in that transition.”

Queensland is not actually the only state or territory where rooftop solar is the biggest power station. In the ACT, there is 59MW of rooftop solar, but the only competition within the boundaries of the ACT is the 20MW Royalla large-scale solar farm.

There are no gas or coal-fired generators within the boundaries of the national capital, and the ACT is now well on its way to sourcing the equivalent of 100 per cent of its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2020, after contracting a series of new solar and wind farms across South Australia, Victoria and NSW.

In Western Australia, there is 696MW of rooftop solar, but it falls short of the 854MW of the ageing Muja power station, while in South Australia there is 722MW of rooftop solar, still well short of the Torrens Island gas fired generator of 1280MW, although half of that capacity comes from the Torrens Island A, which is 50 years old and tipped for retirement some time soon.

This article was originally published on RenewEconomy’s sister site, One Step Off The Grid, which focuses on customer experience and ambitions with distributed generation. To sign up to One Step’s free weekly newsletter, please click here.

April 14, 2017 Posted by | Queensland, solar | Leave a comment

Adani faces strong Indigenous fight  despite court outcome ~ Members of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council 12 April 2017:

“Members of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council say there is nothing in today’s court decision on the Native Title Act Section 66B application that will stop them in their fight against Adani in the courts.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J)Traditional Owners Council, and member of the existing Applicant, Mr Adrian Burragubba said, “The decision today shows how vulnerable the rights of Traditional Owners are when they don’t agree to the destruction of their country by big miners like Adani.

““Adani has actively worked to divide our community, undermine our representatives,
and register a sham agreement with our people to pave the way for the destruction of our lands and waters. …

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, MsMurrawah Johnson, said,
“Adani are pretending this mine is inevitable but it still faces a series of other court cases we are running.
We are currently in the Federal Court, working to prove Adani does not in any event have our consent
and its land use ‘deal’ is a sham and a cover for the destruction of our country.

““Adani is also before the Queensland Court of Appeal in May, when we challenge the Queensland government’s issuing of mining leases to Adani”.

““This proposed mine project will wreck our land and  waters, and destroy our culture.
It will ride roughshod over our rights.  It will unleash enormous environmental damage and
drive dangerous climate change in the process. … “

April 14, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Queensland | Leave a comment

Satellite images showed black water flowing to wetlands from Abbot Point Coal Terminal

Abbot Point Coal Terminal under investigation after satellite images show water release, ABC News, By Andrew Kos, 10 Apr 17, Satellite imagery appearing to show sediment-laden water flowing into wetlands from the nearby Abbot Point Coal Terminal has prompted an investigation by Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

Adani was granted a temporary emissions licence (TEL) to help it manage water on the site during Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

A spokesman for Adani said the company had been in constant contact with the department prior to and since Cyclone Debbie.

But the department became aware of the satellite images last week and is looking into whether there had been any unauthorised releases of water from the terminal into the Caley Valley Wetlands…….

Peter McCallum from the Mackay Conservation Group said it had written to Environment Minister Steven Miles to request more information about the release.

“We have no confidence that Adani will be able to manage the environmental impacts of the port expansion or any other aspect of its massive coal mining operation,” Mr McCallum said.

The department will continue to monitor the situation.

The wetlands are important habitat for at least 22 migratory shore birds listed under the national environmental legislation.

April 12, 2017 Posted by | environment, Queensland | Leave a comment

Scientists despair at new data on Great Barrier Reef destruction

Great Barrier Reef at ‘terminal stage’: scientists despair at latest bleaching data ‘Last year was bad enough, this is a disaster,’ says one expert as Australia Research Council finds fresh damage across 8,000km

‘Australia’s politicians have betrayed the reef and only the people can save it, Guardian,  and , 10 Apr 17, Back-to-back severe bleaching events have affected two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, new aerial surveys have found.

The findings have caused alarm among scientists, who say the proximity of the 2016 and 2017 bleaching events is unprecedented for the reef, and will give damaged coral little chance to recover.

Scientists with the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies last week completed aerial surveys of the world’s largest living structure, scoring bleaching at 800 individual coral reefs across 8,000km.

The results show the two consecutive mass bleaching events have affected a 1,500km stretch, leaving only the reef’s southern third unscathed.

Where last year’s bleaching was concentrated in the reef’s northern third, the 2017 event spread further south, and was most intense in the middle section of the Great Barrier Reef. This year’s mass bleaching, second in severity only to 2016, has occurred even in the absence of an El Niño event.

Mass bleaching – a phenomenon caused by global warming-induced rises to sea surface temperatures – has occurred on the reef four times in recorded history.

Prof Terry Hughes, who led the surveys, said the length of time coral needed to recover – about 10 years for fast-growing types – raised serious concerns about the increasing frequency of mass bleaching events.

“The significance of bleaching this year is that it’s back to back, so there’s been zero time for recovery,” Hughes told the Guardian. “It’s too early yet to tell what the full death toll will be from this year’s bleaching, but clearly it will extend 500km south of last year’s bleaching.”

Last year, in the worst-affected areas to the reef’s north, roughly two-thirds of shallow-water corals were lost.

Hughes has warned Australia now faces a closing window to save the reef by taking decisive action on climate change.

The 2017 bleaching is likely to be compounded by other stresses on the reef, including the destructive crown-of-thorns starfish and poor water quality. The category-four tropical cyclone Debbie came too late and too far south for its cooling effect to alleviate bleaching……….

April 10, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, environment, Queensland | Leave a comment

Galilee Blockade grandparent activists occupied office of Qld Dep Premier Jackie Trad.

‘On Tues a large group of Galilee Blockade grandparent activists occupied office of Qld Dep Premier Jackie Trad. Cayman Islands was the theme, Gautam Adani holidaying with a billion dollars of public funds.’

Eleven Hour Occupation.
Three Arrests.

One Message.

Galilee Blockade campaign

“Prepared with food, bedding and a camp toilet, the grandparents vowed to occupy the office until Jackie Trad (as Minister for Infrastructure)  signed a legal letter stopping our money going to Adani.
NAIF’s own process is clear that the Queensland Labor Government can reject the applications of both Adani and Aurizon. …

“Bill Shorten says he is against taxpayer funds going to Adani.
Wayne Swan says it’s a slush fund for the Liberals and has asked the Auditor-General to investigate.
Jackie Trad has the power to actually stop our money going to Adani but refuses, despite 75% of Australians being against it. …

Direct action can be very fun. The grandparents engaged staff and the general public, often in song.

The grandparents stopped the office closing for the day, taking turns blocking the doorway for almost 5 hours. Again with music!

Anne, Richard and John were arrested but released without charge. We broadcast this live on Facebook.

P.S. Activist tip. What does a grandparent activist do when he’s about to be arrested.
Take a selfie and put it on Facebook!”

April 8, 2017 Posted by | ACTION, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

New Queensland homes can have Solar + Tesla battery storage

Solar + Tesla battery storage offered in new-build Queensland homes  By  on 5 April 2017 One Step Off The Grid

Another of Australia’s major housing developers, the Melbourne-Based group Metricon, will offer rooftop solar and storage as an optional extra in a range of its new-build homes in Queensland, via a new partnership with local installer and Tesla battery reseller CSR Bradford.

CSR Bradford – whose NSW-based company started in insulation more than 80 years ago, and has since expanded into energy efficiency and solar and storage through Bradford Solar – is an accredited Tesla Powerwall reseller, and has been watching the growth of the battery storage market closely over the past few years.

The deal with Metricon, announced this week, takes the company one step closer to its vision of solar and battery storage being included as a standard feature in all newly built houses in Australia – something the company’s managing director, Anthony Tannous has predicted will be the norm in just a few years’ time.

According to the Metricon website, Queensland customers who upgrade to the builder’s “luxury living” offer will get CSR Bradford’s a 5-6kW Solar ChargePack, which includes solar panels, a SolarEdge inverter and Tesla’s 14kWh Powerall 2 lihtiu-ion battery pack.

As Tesla has itself claimed, the Metricon 5kW offer promise to give the average house of four up to 90 per cent electricity self sufficiency on an average day, while the 6kW solar offer is said to give the average Australian family “little or no reliance on the grid.”

In financial terms, households choosing the Luxury Living” upgrade – which costs $1,999 for a single story home and $4,999 for a double story home – is expected to save the Metricon households $2,100 a year on energy costs.

CSR Bradford has similar packages being offered in Victoria, through Arden Homes, and in New South Wales with Mojo Homes.

“I have a vision that every house built in a few years time will have a battery installed, it just makes so much sense,” Tannous told One Step Off The Grid in an interview last month. “We’ve been working with most of the major builders across Australia and a lot of them are starting to include storage as standard… while others offer it as an upgrade,” he said. “And that will just gain more momentum.”

April 7, 2017 Posted by | Queensland, solar, storage | Leave a comment


‘Barbaric’: Farmers rattled as Adani coal mine granted unlimited water access, Brisbane Times, Peter Hannam, 6 Apr 17,  The proposed Adani coal mine has been granted unlimited access to groundwater by the Queensland government in a move farmers fear would allow it to drain huge amounts of water from the Great Artesian Basin.

According to a copy of Adani’s water licence obtained by Fairfax Media, the $16 billion Carmichael mine merely needs to monitor and report the amount of water it extracts with a permit that runs until 2077.

The mine, the biggest of nine proposed for the Galilee Basin west of Rockhampton, can conduct its own review of its groundwater model without independent or government oversight.

There are also no impact levels specified that would trigger a halt to mining, with the company able to offset any significant water loss elsewhere, the licence shows.

“It’s bloody-minded and barbaric,” said Bruce Currie, a grazier who lives in the region and has joined legal action against Galilee mines. “This is going to definitely impact on the integrity of [the Great Artesian Basin].”

According to a supplementary environmental impact statement, the mine will draw 26 million litres of water per day from its pits by 2029 as it ramps out annual production to as much as 60 million tonnes. Over its life, the mine’s water tally would reach an estimated 355 billion litres……….

The licence would not be subject to the new Water Act Referral Panel set up to ensure “the sustainable management of water in Queensland”……

Opponents, though, argue the coal is largely poor quality and the basin will require huge subsidies to become viable. Burning the fuel would also release a “carbon bomb” that would contribute to harming the Great Barrier Reef, which is already being hammered by unprecedented coral bleaching blamed on global warming.

Fairfax also sought comment from Adani Mining, the local subsidiary of the Indian company.

Without the water, their businesses are basically finished.

Limited scrutiny Unlike other controversial mines, such as the New Acland coal mine planned for the Darling Downs, Adani’s water usage is not subject to public submissions and appeals, said Jo Bragg, chief executive of Queensland’s Environmental Defenders Office.

Groundwater evidence is often the most controversial feature and public scrutiny is often the most significant aspect of any review, Ms Bragg said. “It’s a matter of grave concern that there’s not that opportunity.”…….

April 7, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, environment, Queensland | Leave a comment

Adani’s Carmichael coal mine is environmentally reckless and contrary to today’s energy markets
~ Julien Vincent executive director of Market Forces  6 April 2017:

“If at first you don’t stack up economically, make the public pay for it.”

“This could be the mantra that delivers Adani’s Carmichael mega coal mine in the Galilee Basin
at the expense of the environment, culture, our prospects of a stable climate and in defiance of sound economics. …

“Since buying the coal tenements from Linc Energy in 2010, Adani has failed to secure a single private backer for the Carmichael mine.

“In fact, since then, 17 banks have either publicly distanced themselves from Galilee Basin
coal export projects or introduced policies that prevent them lending to the Carmichael mine. …

“In an industry where sentiment and market signals have a huge impact, leadership from private banks like Westpac can do more than just prevent a project like Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, and its impacts on people, the environment and climate.  It can help prevent Australians for having to pay for the privilege.”

April 7, 2017 Posted by | business, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Climate change is pushing cyclones further South

Watch out, Gold Coast, climate change is pushing cyclones further South Cyclone the size of Debbie could be catastrophic for Gold Coast, modelling shows, The Age, Eryk Bagshaw, 2 Apr 17, 

A cyclone the size of Debbie could have catastrophic consequences on the Gold Coast, new modelling has shown, as climate change pushes cyclones further south and puts tens of billions of dollars worth of infrastructure at risk.

Actuaries, who predict and model scenarios for banks and insurers, have warned properties could become “uninsurable” as premiums rise to meet environmental challenges. Debbie devastated northern Queensland and swept floods into NSW which caused $1 billion in damage, forced 30,000 people to evacuate and took two lives.

Under modelling compiled by Deloitte’s principal actuary Sharanjit Paddam and James Cook University, a shift in the cyclone-prone region of just three degrees would cause winds in excess of 260km/h to hit the Gold Coast and stretch as far as Brisbane, where many homes and towers do not meet cyclonic safety standards.

The “sting in the tail” of ex-Cyclone Debbie battered the Gold Coast this week with winds half as strong as those that hit Bowen and Proserpine, along with torrential downpours.   Continue reading

April 3, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Coal industry affected by climate change: costs of Queensland Cyclone Debbie

Queensland Cyclone Debbie: Economic impact, Courier Mail, April 2, 2017  QUEENSLAND coal exports may have taken a $1.5 billion hit from Cyclone Debbie as more than 22 mines were forced to halt production while roads and ports were shut.

Economists also tip a hit to the state Budget, with a temporary loss of coal royalties and lost agricultural production. But they also warn that negative talk about the impact on resorts could hurt tourism operators unaffected by the weather.

Energy analysts IHS said about 10 million tonnes of coal production was lost as buyers went elsewhere.

Mines will also be affected by impassable roads and flooded pits, but the losses aren’t expected to be anywhere near those incurred by Cyclone Yasi, when about 40 million tonnes of production was lost.

Economist and former Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive Nick Behrens said the economic impact would be substantial for the State Government……

April 3, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment