Australian news, and some related international items

Tasmania may get cold, but sunburn is still very much a threat   

Tasmania may get cold, but sunburn is still very much a threat, By Glen Perrin  If you think you cannot get sunburnt in chilly old Tasmania, you are sorely mistaken — the island state has more than its fair share of dangerous ultraviolet rays.

What is sunburn? What is UV?

Sunburn occurs when skin exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is damaged.

The exposed skin becomes red, hot, and often painful.

If you think you cannot get sunburnt in chilly old Tasmania, you are sorely mistaken — the island state has more than its fair share of dangerous ultraviolet rays.

Additional melanin, the skin’s natural protector, is produced when the skin is exposed to UV radiation.However, when the levels of UV radiation exceed the protecting abilities of melanin, sunburn occurs.This can occur in less than 15 minutes depending on the time of year, the location and skin type.

Skin can turn red from sunburn within two to six hours of being burnt.Long-term excessive exposure to UV radiation may also cause skin damage, eye damage, premature ageing or even skin cancer, with Australia and New Zealand having the highest rates of melanoma in the world. UV radiation is a type of energy that we cannot feel (it does not make us feel hot) or see.Three bands of UV radiation are emitted by the sun: UVA, UVB and UVC.

UVB radiation is the main contributor to sunburn, despite the fact most UVB radiation (around 85 to 90 per cent) is absorbed by the ozone layer in the stratosphere about 15 to 30 kilometres above the surface of the earth.Australia has some of the highest UV levels in the world.

Why is sunburn a concern in Tasmania?

Many people relate getting sunburnt to temperature and incorrectly believe that in Tasmania, being generally cooler, means they won’t get sunburnt.Sunburn can occur on hot and cool days. It is intensity of the UV that is important.Such levels of UV are seen in Tasmania throughout most of the year, except for the winter months. It is also possible to burn in the morning and early evening, not just in the middle of the day.

Although cloud can decrease the amount of UV reaching the surface (with thick unbroken cloud reflecting and absorbing more UV than thin cloud), a break in or thinning of the cloud will still allow enough UV through to cause damage.Partly cloudy conditions can even increase the amount of UV at the surface by reflecting it towards the ground from the sides of the clouds.

Pollutants in the air can absorb some UV radiation or reflect it away from the surface.By comparison, air free from pollutants, such as in Tasmania, results in more UV radiation reaching the surface. Although the ozone hole occurs well to the south of Tasmania, ozone depletion can play a role in sunburn.

The ozone hole typically occurs between August and mid-December.When the ozone hole has broken down, it is possible for pockets of ozone-depleted air to mix with mid-latitude air.This air may then move over Tasmania, resulting in more UVB radiation reaching the surface.

What is the UV Index? How does it work?

The UV Index describes a daily UV radiation intensity and ranges from 1 (low) to 11+ (extreme).

A computer model generates the Index considering ozone concentrations, date, time of day, latitude and altitude and assumes a cloud-free and pollution-free sky.

Temperature is not considered.

Sun protection is recommended when the Index reaches 3 and above.

Sunburn occur any time of the year and at any location

UV levels, and therefore the UV Index, do change through the year, being lowest in winter (below 3 and in the low range in Tasmania) and highest in summer (mostly between 10 and 12 in Tasmania and in the very high to extreme range).

But exposure to excessive UV radiation can occur at any time of the year and can be enhanced by being at alpine locations (where the atmosphere is thinner, allowing more UV radiation to reach the surface), in the snow, swimming, or near other reflective surfaces such as concrete.

UV levels are higher towards the equator, as a result of having to travel though a smaller column of the atmosphere to reach the surface than at higher latitudes.

The UV Index is provided by the Bureau of Meteorology as part of city and town forecasts and through UV maps, tables and the BOM Weather App.

You can use the Cancer Council’s SunSmart app to view sun protection times and current UV levels.

The UV Index in city and town forecasts is also accompanied by a sun protection time when the UV Index is 3 or above.

This represents a time-period in which it is recommended that you slip, slop, slap, seek and slide to protect yourself from sunburn.

Remember you can still get burnt on cool or cloudy days – so think UV, not heat.

More information about UV and sun protection times can be found on the BOM website.

Glen Perrin is a senior meteorologist with the Bureau of Meteorology in Tasmania

February 14, 2022 Posted by | health, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Tasmania: Liberals vote down Greens climate emergency motion with Premier claiming it ‘frightens’ children


Liberals vote down Greens climate emergency motion with Premier claiming it ‘frightens’ children

Premier Peter Gutwein has accused the Greens of “frightening” children after the party attempted to move a motion declaring a climate emergency based on the findings of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.–

August 26, 2021 Posted by | climate change - global warming, politics, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Are The Greens taking over from Labor as Australia’s progressive party – Tasmanian election results suggest this.

Have the Greens taken over the progressive mantle from Labor? South Wind,  4 May 2021 by Peter Boyer

Peter Gutwein’s win on Saturday is only part of the story of a fascinating election. ”……….. Predictably, Peter Gutwein won the election on the back of his fine response to COVID-19, recording an exceptional personal vote. People appreciated that this leader, in response to expert scientific advice, could make tough, confronting decisions.

But as the Greens’ Cassy O’Connor pointed out on Saturday night, while the premier chose to follow the science around contagious disease, he has relegated to a secondary position the science that warns of an unfolding climate catastrophe.

In building the Greens as a political force, founding leader Bob Brown fostered the view – perhaps unintentionally – that his party was the only way to environmental salvation. In times past I’ve found myself irritated by what seemed to be the Greens’ uncompromising approach to wicked policy dilemmas. Kevin Rudd’s doomed carbon pricing scheme was one such case.

In 2010, for the first and still the only time in Australia, the Greens became an integral part of government in Tasmania. Leader Nick McKim and then Cassy O’Connor took on the climate challenge on the basis that this responsibility is shared by all jurisdictions, everywhere.

That work culminated in O’Connor’s 2013 strategic plan, which remains the standout among a plethora of such documents that have arrived with fanfare over the years before being quietly shelved. Eight years later, her election night speech showed that this was no accident.

The buzz of leadership doesn’t rest easily with complex, slow-burning issues like climate change. Perhaps taking a cue from Rudd’s unseemly demise in 2010, Australia’s major party leaders and MPs continue to avoid making climate a front-rank policy issue.

Nowhere was that better illustrated than in the last parliament, in a debate over whether Tasmania should declare itself to be in a climate emergency. The only MPs arguing cogently for this fully justified move were O’Connor and her deputy, Rosalie Woodruff, while the rest of the parliament played partisan games.

On Saturday night O’Connor spoke of the Greens’ proposal for a bill to mandate planning for sequestering carbon, adapting to climate change, and annual sectoral emission targets, contrasting that with the major parties’ failure to come up with any coherent climate policy: “a shameful indictment”.

“We hear some Liberals gloating about the state’s climate record while they accelerate native forest logging,” she said. “Tasmania’s status as a net carbon sink is the result of decades of commitment and heart from the broader conservation movement and civil society, and the Greens’ hard work to protect this island’s extraordinary carbon rich forests.”…….

It was a long speech, bringing to mind another politician inclined to go on a bit, Gough Whitlam. The point about both is that they covered a lot of ground and had things to say that mattered, about life, community and government. O’Connor is a leader of real substance……

A century ago another small progressive party was said to be a mere annoyance that would soon disappear. The Labor Party rose to power as a voice for the powerless. On Saturday night, the most effective voice for that noble cause was O’Connor’s…..

May 4, 2021 Posted by | politics, Tasmania | Leave a comment

How are Australian States progressing on renewable energy? South Australia way ahead

South Australia leading the nation in renewable energy,    Samantha Dick

South Australia is shifting to renewable energy faster than any other state or territory.

This is despite the federal government’s “lack of leadership” and continued support for major fossil fuel projects, says the Climate Council.

November 25, 2019 Posted by | energy, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia | Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ve always had floods and bushfires, but climate change is making them worse

Queensland floods: Townsville reels under record water levels as more rain arrives, There are several more days to go in this flood event, Bureau of Meteorology warns, Guardian, 2 Feb 2019

Queensland authorities have said the state’s north was entering “unprecedented territory” as monsoon rains battered the city of Townsville, setting record flood levels and destroying homes.

……..The worst of the conditions were expected over the next two days, and authorities described the next 48 hours as “crucial”. On Friday, Palaszczuk had described the incoming monsoon as a “once in a 100-year” event and Townsville was declared a disaster zone.
……..Schools and businesses in Townsville were to remain shut and thousands of residents had been evacuated to higher ground, AAP reported.

Homes and businesses have been destroyed as flash floods washed through streets, sweeping away cars, equipment and livestock……..

Bushfires threaten homes across Victoria , The Age, By Nicole Precel, 3 February 2019,Out-of-control bushfires threatened homes and lives on Sunday as more than 1000 firefighters battled major blazes across Victoria.Firefighters were stretched to the limit, fighting several large fires throughout the state.

A fire in Hepburn, in central Victoria was the major focus for the day with residents warned at daybreak to evacuate the town.

Two firefighters who were fighting the Hepburn fires were treated for heat exhaustion and over-exertion and were taken to hospital as a precaution.

Elsewhere, as almost 50 new fires sparked, emergency warnings were issued at various times for fires including days-old blazes in Timbarra in Gippsland and Grantville on the Bass Coast……..

As of Sunday afternoon, there were 69 aircraft working “very, very hard” and “effectively”.

The fires were fanned by soaring temperatures, hitting 43.3 degrees in the Mallee, 43.1 degrees in Hopetoun, 42.2 in Mildura, 41.1 at Melbourne Airport and 38.2 in Melbourne’s CBD.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s Richard Russell said high winds and thunderstorms were expected throughout the night………..

Tasmania’s fire disaster revealed in satellite images showing the extent of the damage

It’s easy to get warning fatigue, and, with only a handful or properties impacted so far, dismiss the fires as all bark and no bite.

But satellite images reveal the scale of the destruction so far.

The Gell River blaze, in the state’s south-west, was the first to start, ignited by a dry lightning strike in late December.

“It seems really like ancient history,” professor of pyrogeography and fire service at the University of Tasmania David Bowman said.

“It started at the end of last year and escalated in early January, so we’re looking at a fire situation that’s now gone for a full calendar month.”

Images taken by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellite on January 3 show what seems, relative to the lakes around it, like a small blackened patch of wilderness……..

“There are multiple major fire events occurring simultaneously, which is extremely challenging for firefighters and fire managers because of the requirement to spread resources and make very difficult prioritising decisions.” …….

“This is definitely a historic event, it’s unprecedented,” Professor Bowman said.

“The area burnt is very substantial, I can barely keep up with the numbers.”

This week the fire service did put a number on it — 187,000 hectares.

At the same time as the Central Plateau fire ramped up, the Tahune fire was also burning out of control.

Of all the fires burning across Tasmania, this one has caused the most displacement, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate from communities in the Huon Valley south of Hobart.

Since last week, firefighters have issued almost daily warnings to residents, cautioning that only those prepared to defend their properties should stay behind.

A satellite image taken on January 30 shows how the fire, having burnt through more than 56,000 hectares, was still sending smoke over towns to its east. …..

February 3, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria | Leave a comment

Hobart mayoral candidate Anna Reynolds offers a practical and economic solar plan

Climate right for solar plan: Reynolds, HOBART residents and businesses would be able to install solar energy systems with no upfront costs under an initiative proposed by mayoral candidate Anna Reynolds. HELEN KEMPTON,   Sunday Tasmanian  OCTOBER 14, 2018

HOBART residents and businesses would be able to install solar energy systems with no upfront costs under an initiative proposed by mayoral candidate Anna Reynolds.

Ald Reynolds says the city should strive to double solar installations over the next five years.

Hobart is a poor performer compared with other Tasmanian local government areas with Sustainable Living Tasmania figures placing it 16th in terms of solar installations per capita.

“Council has taken action to install solar panels on its own buildings but there is so much more we can do,” Ald Reynolds said.

“I will advocate for a solar saver program to help Hobart residents, businesses and organisations install solar panels.

“Council will pay the upfront cost for the system and you, or your landlord, pay it off over 10 years, interest free.

“The savings made on energy bills will more than outweigh the payments to council, leaving you better off.”

The independent candidate’s push is backed by the chief strategist of climate advocacy group 350 Australia……..

October 15, 2018 Posted by | solar, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Computer modelling is valuable for fire prevention: prescribed burning is inadequate

Unfortunately, due to climate change, we are going to see a lot more catastrophic days in the future in Tasmania and indeed globally.

To fight the catastrophic fires of the future, we need to look beyond prescribed burning California is burning – a sentence we’ve heard far too often this year. Sydney is currently on bushfire alert, as firefighters battle a fire in the Hunter Valley region and temperatures are set to top 40℃.

A cocktail of factors, from climate change to centuries of ignoring indigenous burning practises, means that catastrophic fires are likely to become more common.

One of Australia’s favourite fire prevention measures is prescribed burning – using carefully controlled fires to clear out flammable materials. We’re almost obsessed with it. Indeed, it seems the outcome of every major inquiry is that we need to do more of it.

The Royal Commission inquiry that followed Victoria’s 2009 Black Saturday fires recommended that 5% of all public land in Victoria be treated per year – a doctrine that was subsequently dropped due to impracticality.

Yet our research, published today in the International Journal of Wildland Fire, modelled thousands of fires in Tasmania and found that nearly a third of the state would have to be burned to effectively lower the risk of bushfires.

The question of how much to burn and where is a puzzle we must solve, especially given the inherent risk, issues caused by smoke smoke and shrinking weather windows for safe burning due to climate change.

Why use computer simulations?

The major problem fire science faces is gathering data. Landscape-scale experiments involving extreme fire are rare, for obvious reasons of risk and cost. When a major bushfire happens, all the resources go into putting it out and protecting people. Nobody has the time to painstakingly collect data on how fast it is moving and what it is burning. We are therefore restricted to a few limited data sources to reconstruct the behaviour and impact of fire: we can analyse the scar on the landscape after a fire, look at case studies, or run simulations of computer models. Continue reading

December 16, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Decentralised energy solutions looking better than centralised

Will Tasmania be the ‘battery of the nation’?  By Jack Gilding on 7 November 2017 Lately we have been subjected to Prime-ministerial statements on energy policy that jump from Snowy 2.0 to propping up aged coal-fired power stations in NSW, to government support for a new “clean” coal power station in Queensland and back to pumped hydro in Tasmania. Long term strategy seems to have gone missing.

The latest announcement is a feasibility study of pumped hydro in Tasmania supported by ARENA.

Is investing in Tasmania as the ‘battery of the nation’ likely to be a sensible idea?

Tasmania itself doesn’t need more centralised energy storage. At full capacity, our dams hold more than a year’s supply of electricity. Tasmania’s problem is lack of renewable generation, which leaves our energy security dependent on imports from Victoria and increasingly expensive gas fired electricity.

The mainland grid would certainly benefit from more large scale renewable generation backed by storage. Implementing this would require both a bipartisan consensus on closing down aged coal infrastructure and a long term policy in support of low emission renewable energy.

 Sensible, bipartisan, long term planning doesn’t appear likely to break out any time soon. Even if it did, the next questions are what is the best form of storage and where should it be located?

Pumped hydro is the most cost-effective form of large scale energy storage but it requires a stable investment climate, and in some locations, significant investment in transmission infrastructure.

Snowy 2.0 does have the advantage of being well connected to the NSW and Victorian grids. If the national battery is located in Tasmania it would require a billion dollar second interconnector to the mainland.

The sorts of big national project preferred by politicians are not the only solution. Our electricity system is rapidly moving from centralised energy generation to distributed generation and storage.

CSIRO and the Australian electricity network operators have developed one of the most credible scenarios for the future of the grid.

It anticipates that by 2050, 30-45% of our electricity would come from customer owned generators. The plan identifies the need for incentives to ensure that customer battery systems provide benefits to the network as well as to customers.

A recent ANU study has identified 22,000 potential sites for off-river pumped storage around Australia in a range of sizes. Only a few of these are likely to provide viable but they offer possible advantages in being smaller investments that can address local requirements and reduce rather than increase the need for network enhancements.

If there is a role for large scale pumped hydro storage, is Tasmania likely to be the most cost effective place to build it?

As Everett Dirksen never actually said, “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money”. At over $1bn for a second interconnector, $2bn for a 600 MW wind farm on King Island or over $1bn for the Robbins Island and Jim’s Plain wind farms, and Hydro Tasmania’s estimate of $5bn to build 2500 MW of pumped storage, we are talking ‘real money’.

And it is ultimately our money, whether the infrastructure is built as a regulated asset (added to our electricity bill), by government grant (our taxes) or by private investment (including our super).

Investments on this scale take the best part of a decade to plan, fund and build, and are paid for by users over a 40 year period or more.

We need to be very sure that this is the most cost effective way to meet our energy security in an electricity market where the significant trends are to increased energy efficiency, local generation and storage, and demand management.

The detailed analysis of pumped hydro funded by Hydro Tasmania and ARENA will be a welcome contribution to the public debate. But big schemes may well have had their day.

Hydro Tasmania dropped work on the King Island project and the Tamblyn report on the viability of a second interconnector was lukewarm on its viability to say the least.

My prediction is that the market will have provided decentralised solutions to the challenge of reliable, affordable clean electricity long before these big schemes see the light of day. The flurry of announcements and feasibility studies mainly serves to convince the public that the politicians are dealing with the problem.

Jack Gilding is the Executive Officer of the Tasmanian Renewable Energy Alliance but the views in this article are entirely personal. This article first appeared in The Mercury and is republished here with permission of the author,

November 8, 2017 Posted by | energy, storage, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull in Tasmania – praising wind and solar power!

Turnbull trumpets Tasmania’s ability to lead the country in renewable energy, ETHAN JAMES, AAP, Mercury, August 18, 2017  Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has trumpeted Tasmania’s ability to lead the nation in renewable energy at the state’s Liberal Party council meeting.Mr Turnbull today addressed 250 delegates at the annual conference in Launceston, the party’s final gathering before a state election in March. He praised Liberal Premier Will Hodgman’s economic management in a speech that touched on energy, terrorism and mental health.

August 21, 2017 Posted by | energy, politics, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Space for more wind farms in Tassie

TASMANIA has the capacity to support two or three more wind farms before it needs to invest in its electricity transmission infrastructure, energy analysts say.

June 9, 2017 Posted by | Tasmania, wind | Leave a comment

Tasmania’s energy efficiency loans scheme now open

Tasmanian households and small businesses can increase their energy efficiency through a new no-interest loan scheme, BLAIR RICHARDS, State Political Editor, Mercury

May 3, 2017 Posted by | efficiency, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Tasmania’s $3 billion hydro plans – some doubts, with Victoria’s renewable energy and batteries rising

Plunging battery costs raise doubts over Tasmania’s $3 billion hydro plans  By Giles Parkinson on 21 April 2017

Tasmania’s plans for a $3 billion investment in new pumped hydro schemes and a new link to the mainland may turn out to be little more than damp squib, given concerns raised by two new studies in the proposal.

The idea of adding 2,500MW of pumped hydro into Tasmania’s existing hydro system – and using this and its considerable wind resources as a “renewable energy battery” for the mainland – was unveiled with much fanfare by prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, premier Will Hodgman and Hydro Tasmania on Thursday.

But the crucial ingredient in the plan is the construction of a new $1 billion inter-connector to carry all that renewable power to the mainland. And a study by John Tamblyn released on the same day raises considerable doubts about the economic viability of such an investment.

In one “neutral” scenario, drawn up by the Australian Energy Market Operator, the benefits might outweigh costs over a 20 year period by just $20 million. And these benefits might be eroded if battery storage costs continue to fall and utility-scale batteries become widespread, as many predict.

Further complicating the matter is Victoria’s own renewable energy target, which will likely deliver 5,000MW of new capacity by 2025.

“That means that building new renewable generation in Tasmania (1,200MW of wind), timed to coincide with commissioning of the second Bass Strait inter-connector, would not increase projected market benefits,” the report says. Instead, it is likely to “lead to oversupply in the southern regions (Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia).” Continue reading

April 22, 2017 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Tasmania, with wind and hydro can be “energy battery” for Australia – says Turnbull

Turnbull says Tasmania wind, hydro can become “energy battery” for Australia, Reneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson on 20 April 2017 Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has extended his vision of large-scale pumped hydro and storage to Tasmania, outlining plans to expand the island’s existing hydropower system, and possibly add 2,500MW in pumped hydro, and describing the possibility that the state could become the “renewable energy battery” for Australia. Continue reading

April 21, 2017 Posted by | storage, Tasmania, wind | Leave a comment

Huge savings predicted from Tasmania’s largest solar rooftop farm.

Proponents predict big savings from 4000-panel solar farm NICK CLARK, Mercury March 23, 2017 A $2 million solar farm, Tasmania’s largest, will inject power into the state’s grid during summer and save thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases.

Proponent Nest Energy will place 4000 solar panels on the sawtooth roof of a former wool store in the Launceston suburb of Kings Meadows. Partner Mark Barnett said 15 people would be employed during construction with the project anticipated to be running by August. He said the privately funded project would produce about 1GWh of electricity a year – enough to fully power 200 homes.

It would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20,000 tonnes over the 35-year project life.

Mr Barnett said in winter the panels would produce enough for several businesses while in summer there would be 30 per cent excess electricity, which would be injected into the grid with the company receiving a feed-in tariff. “The building tenants will receive their power at a significant discount while the building owner will realise an improved building value so it’s a fabulous win/win” he said.

Mr Barnett said the project had been two years in the planning. He said a drop in the price of renewable components coinciding with a trend of rising power prices, meant there was plenty of opportunity for further projects, especially in agriculture. Treasurer Peter Gutwein said the project demonstrated an increased level of confidence in the northern Tasmanian economy.

March 23, 2017 Posted by | solar, Tasmania | Leave a comment