Australian news, and some related international items

“Smart Houses” to save Australia’s farms from climate change?

climate-AustFarmers plant paddocks in smart houses to safeguard against climate change ABC 

March 5, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Renewable energy future for Tasmania

map-tasmania-wind.1“The absolute beauty of Tasmania’s situation is that anything you do with solar or wind, we don’t need to worry too much about the intermittent nature of it,” he said.

“We’ve got the hydro which can generate a lot of electricity but it can’t do it all the time.

“Any time of the day that you generate electricity with solar or wind is saving running water out of the dams and then that gives you energy security.” 

The expansion of renewable energy in Tasmania, text-relevantExaminer, Michelle Wisbey  @MichelleWisbey1 29 Jan 2017 Tasmania has the potential to become the envy of the world when it comes to renewable energy, according to our leaders. 

There is no doubt energy was a hot topic in 2016.  This time last year, Tasmania had a broken Basslink cable and it would not be fixed for another five months.  Hydro Tasmania’s water storage levels were down to 19 per cent, but had dipped lower in previous months.

Not long before the Basslink cable broke, the government had given approval for Hydro Tasmania to decommission and sell the combined cycle gas turbine at the Tamar Valley Power Station, which would later become an essential piece of infrastructure.

As the crisis unfolded, the importance of the power station became clear, it was not sold, and was eventually up and running again.

This crisis led to the establishment of an Energy Security Taskforce which, in its interim report, found the state had a deficit of renewable energy generation and that more on-island hydro-electric and wind generation was needed.

“A more secure setting would be created if this deficit was reduced or eliminated by new entrant renewable energy developments,” the report said.

Already, renewable energy is meeting an average of 80 per cent of Tasmania’s energy demands.

But questions have been raised over whether enough is being done to attract further renewable energy investment into the state.  Continue reading

January 29, 2017 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Senate inquiry into bushfires hears of climate change impacts

climate-AustClimate warning at bushfire inquiry, Examiner, Doug Dingwall@dougdingwall

November 3, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Tidal energy – Australian Maritime College launches new turbine in Tamar River

tidal-power-tasmaniaAustralian Maritime College launches new tidal turbine in Tamar River Michelle Wisbey   @MichelleWisbey1  16 Oct 2016 An emerging form of renewable energy has been met with overall positive reviews from the Tamar community. 

The Australian Maritime College and Sydney-based developers MAKO have come together to install and monitor a new tidal energy turbine in the Tamar estuary near Launceston. Field experiments at a site near Reid Rock, north of the Batman Bridge, of a 2.4 metre-wide prototype have already started.

The turbine is secured beneath a floating platform and will be connected to a mooring on the east side of the estuary.

AMC project lead Irene Penesis said tidal energy was particularly exciting as it was very predictable compared with solar and wind power because of its consistent and monitorable cycles. “Through the kinetic energy of the tidal flow, we generate mechanical power and we then convert that to electricity,” Associate Professor Penesis said.

“Because tides are extremely predictable and we can predict them two years in advance, we can predict how much power we’re going to get – when you transfer that power back into the grid you know how much you’re transferring back and you can monitor that.

“It’s absolutely essential to have the community behind these types of events because if there’s an opportunity to install tidal turbines in the Tamar River, we would want those community members to have access to that power being generated.”

Owner of the nearby Tamar River Retreat Ian Stewart said after a community meeting was held to discuss the turbines last week, there was positive interest from residents and businesses in the area.

“To use tidal power to generate electricity would be absolutely fantastic,” Mr Stewart said. “I spend about $5000 a year on electricity because of my business, it’s probably my single biggest business expense, and if I can get that down even lower that would be great. “I think that a lot of people in the community want to get behind this idea and want to support it.”

October 16, 2016 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | Leave a comment

For Tasmania, Renewables rapidly proving a cheaper option

map-tasmania-wind.1 Renewables rapidly proving a cheaper option JACK GILDING, Mercury

Bloomberg New Energy Finance says renewables are already cheaper than new fossil fuel plants in Australia. The conservative predictions of the Australian Government’s Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics say they will be within a decade.

Of particular interest for Tasmania is the relative costs of electricity from wind and solar. Solar is getting cheaper faster than wind. Again, opinions vary on when the crossover will be. Recent statements by major Australian players suggest it will not be long……

Tasmania rightly prides itself on its potential for renewable energy development, but the unfortunate reality is that no large projects have commenced since the opening of the Musselroe Wind Farm in 2014.

Tasmania may only have a limited time to garner its rightful share of the $280 billion being invested globally in renewable energy each year.

Right now windy Tasmania has an advantage, but as the cost of solar drops, investors will look to sunnier locations. Continue reading

October 1, 2016 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | Leave a comment

2016 Earth getting hotter. CO2 levels above 400 ppm

Confirmed: Southern hemisphere CO2 level rises above symbolic 400 ppm milestone, [Excellent pictures, graphs, diagrams]  The Age May 15, 2016 – Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald

NASA | A Year in the Life of Earth’s CO2

A significant marker of rising global greenhouse gas emissions has been passed, with a key monitoring site on Tasmania’s north-west tip recording atmospheric carbon-dioxide exceeding 400 parts per million for the first time.

As foreshadowed by Fairfax Media last week, a baseline reading at the Cape Grim station that exceeded the 400-ppm mark of the primary gas driving global warming was imminent.

As it turned out, “the unfortunate milestone” was reached on Tuesday May 10 at 8am, local time, said Peter Krummel, who heads the CSIRO team analysing data from the most important site in the southern hemisphere.

Atmospheric readings from Cape Grim, along with two stations in Hawaii and Alaska, are closely watched as they date back decades and closely track a range of pollutants from ozone-depleting chemicals to the various greenhouse gases resulting from burning fossil fuels and clearing forests.

Mr Krummel said that while mostly symbolic, the 400-ppm reading “highlights the problem of rising emissions, which are increasing more rapidly than they used to be”.

A report out earlier this year from the World Meteorological Organization noted atmospheric readings of CO2 at the Mauna Loa site in Hawaii rose 3.05 ppm in 2015 alone – the biggest increase in the 56 years of research……

Climate scientists, such as David Karoly at Melbourne University, note that when other greenhouse gases, such as methane, are included, the situation is even bleaker.

The so-called carbon dioxide-equivalent level that takes in the full global warming impact is now about 485 ppm.

Both 2014 and 2015 were record hot years globally in data going back about 130 years. With the effect of a strong El Nino overlaying long-term trends, this year is likely to be even hotter after a scorching start.

May 16, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Wind and hydro providing 100% renewable energy to Tasmania

Tasmania completely powered by renewable energy as rainfall boosts hydro dams  ABC News 12 May 16Tasmania is being completely powered by renewable energy for the first time this year, Hydro Tasmania says.

Key points:

  • Sustained rainfall fills dams by more than 3 per cent over 10 days
  • All diesel generators and gas power stations have been turned off
  • Rough weather hampers repairs to Basslink cable

The state has been in crisis for several months with dam levels at record lows after unprecedented dry weather…….

Hydro Tasmania CEO Stephen Davy said the state’s emergency diesel generators had been switched off through the week and the gas fired Tamar Valley Power Station was turned off yesterday.

“The past 10 days have been very positive,” he said.

“We’ve had more rain than predicted and our storages have risen strongly.

“There’s currently enough hydro and wind energy available to meet all Tasmanian demand.

“For the first time in months, our island is being powered solely by renewable energy.”…..

May 13, 2016 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | Leave a comment

More research needed into climate change – bushfire links

bushfireSenate inquiry told of need for more research into bushfire-climate change links   May 3, 2016  BLAIR RICHARDS State Political Reporter Mercury CALLS for more research into the links between climate change and bushfires and for greater national firefighting capacity have emerged from a Senate inquiry into the Tasmanian Wilderness fires.

The Senate’s environment and communications reference committee is examining the response to the fires that blazed through more than 20,000ha of the state’s Wilderness World Heritage Area in January and February.

The inquiry has received 24 submissions from stakeholders including scientific and conservation organisations, government agencies and individuals.

Some submissions called for more research into the impact of climate change on fire risk:…….

THE Australian Conservation Foundation said the fires should be a “wake-up call” for Australian governments to act on climate change.

 THE Department of Environment said 20,100ha (1.3 per cent) of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area was affected by fire……..

However, the Tasmanian Government’s submission said the forecast outlook for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area was classified as “normal”.

The Senate committee is due to report by May 30.

May 4, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Ocean temperatures on Tasmania’s East Coast are among the fastest-rising in the world

OCEAN temperatures on Tasmania’s East Coast are now among the most rapidly warming in the world, with oyster, salmon, rock lobster and abalone industries feeling the impact.

April 30, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Tasmania’s Bruny Island residents to sell solar power to the grid

Residents onmap-Tasmania-solarafter $2.9m renewable energy grant   April 14, 2016 RESIDENTS  of Bruny Island have the chance to turn their homes into mini-power ­stations and trade on the national electricity grid to boost the island’s energy security and offset their power costs at the same time.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency yesterday announced $2.9 million to help a project to help fund solar panels and batteries for up to 40 households on the island.

Harnessing the surplus power they generate is hoped to help take pressure off Bruny Island’s power system during peak times.

The systems will include software that allows homeowners to sell their power back to the grid during times of peak demand — and hence prices — on the National Electricity Market.

 Dean Spaccavento from Rep­osit Power, which created the software that underpins the system, said the project was a smart response to the power supply issues the island faces.

“The reason Bruny Island was chosen was because of the constraints they have from their undersea cables,” he said. “A battery with a solar panel can be converted into a remarkable power stat­ion. It’s fast and can both produce and consume power in an instant — it’s the type of power station the future needs.”

He said the benefit for households was they could sell their power into the market at a price of about $1 per kilowatt hour — compared to the much lower 5.5c per kilowatt hour feed-in tariffs available at present.

TasNetworks will begin consulting Bruny Island residents about the project over the coming months and seeking expressions of interest via public forums on the island this year.

April 15, 2016 Posted by | solar, Tasmania | Leave a comment

High Court challenge to Tasmania’s controversial anti-protester laws

here are environment ministers Groom and Hunt backing the arrest and punishment of Australians who make a modest stand for threatened species that they, the ministers, should be protecting.

In an age of the accelerating and irreversible destruction of our Earth’s biosphere, the untoward and often unseen influence of its exploiters is eroding Australia’s time-honoured rights to peaceful protest.

It was inevitable that somewhere, some time, some citizens would face the repressive Tasmanian laws. That stand has now been made among the stately ferns of Lapoinya and will move to the High Court of Australia where the consequences are enormous for every environmental, social, cultural and Indigenous issue in Australia’s future

Bob Brown’s arrest in Lapoinya under new anti-protestor laws, The Saturday Paper, BOB BROWN, 19 Mar 16  A Brown,Bob follows their use to arrest conservationists in the Lapoinya forest. “…….The logging at Lapoinya torpedoed any hope Forestry Tasmania had of winning Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, the internationally recognised green accreditation increasingly sought by global markets. FSC depends on respectful relationships with local communities………

Through all of this, the nation’s most powerful potential guardians of Australia’s forests and threatened species, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the federal minister for the environment, Greg Hunt, failed to lift a finger.

The right to protest under threat

In Australia, the option of choice for setting back conservation is the strangling of environmental protest. As the resource-extraction industries come under fire for increasing encroachments on farmland and places of high natural or cultural heritage value, a key strategy is to have governments outlaw effective political protest…….. Continue reading

March 19, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, Tasmania | Leave a comment

High Court challenge to Tasmania’s anti protest laws – by Bob Brown

Brown,BobBob Brown challenges Tasmania’s anti-protest laws in High Court ABC News 9 Mar 16 Former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown has issued a High Court challenge to the Tasmanian Government’s anti-protest laws.

The legislation which passed Parliament in 2014 allows for on-the-spot fines and tougher penatlities for repeat offenders.

Mr Brown and a number of others were arrested and charged in January, under the new laws, for protesting against the logging of Lapoinya Forest in Tasmania’s north west.

He issued the High Court challenge on the grounds the laws were contrary to the implied freedom of speech on government and political matters under the Australian constitution.

“I know that a challenge in the High Court can be a very expensive thing but I also know that a lot of people are worried about this legislation and the spread of it in other states,” he said.

“The laws will, if not challenged, trap everybody who wants to take a stand against something that’s manifestly wrong going on in our country.” Mr Brown said the Tasmanian Government promised the laws were not aimed at “mum and dad” protesters.

But he said “first up, they trapped a young mother and nurse who grew up in the Lapoinya area and a local grandfather”.

Hobart solicitor Roland Brown said the High Court challenge was a test case.

“This case is unusual because it’s seeking to have made invalid, or declared invalid, legislation that targets people’s political belief and their opinion in relation to environmental, social, cultural and economic factors,” he said………

March 11, 2016 Posted by | civil liberties, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Tasmania’s great opportunities in renewable energy

King Island is emblematic of the challenges and opportunities facing the state. It is blessed with natural resources, but punished by its relative remoteness and lack of economies of scale. It has been a perfect testing ground for renewable technology, and has led to the Hydro exporting novel approaches to overseas markets. The project has already avoided the use of 18 million litres of diesel, and saved more than $24 million.

map-tasmania-wind.1Tassie must look to future in renewables, February 29, 2016, ROSALIE WOODRUFF, Mercury “……… The Paris climate agreement sends a clear message to governments and investors that the age of fossil fuels is finished. There is a momentum around renewable energy generation, pushed by an urgency to respond to global warming and an explosion of new technology.

From crisis comes opportunity. The Greens are focused on the long-term task of transitioning Australia away from dependence on fossil fuels. The future is clearly in renewable energy generation, for pragmatism and prosperity.

We have released the Greens Energy Strategy, a blueprint for how the state can get started immediately on setting the business conditions we need to attract medium to large-scale renewable projects.

Our target is for Tasmania to be self-sufficient in clean electricity generation by 2022, and to be net exporters to the mainland. This is achievable. Continue reading

March 2, 2016 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | 1 Comment

Tasmanian Greens stick up for civil liberties, and the right to protest

greensSmProtest laws under fire as Greens to attempt to have legislation banished from statute books February 15, 2016 THE Greens will launch a bid to overturn the state’s anti-protest legislation, which they say is being used to stifle the democratic right to protest.

Acknowledging the attempt had little chance of success in the Liberal-dominated State Parliament, Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said the legislation needed to be overturned

Ms O’Connor said the legislation — which carries maximum fines of $10,000 and mandatory jail terms for repeat offenders — was being used against citizens protesting logging operations in the Lapoinya Forest — contrary to government promises about its intent.

“In recent weeks up at Lapoinya up in North West Tasmania, we’ve seen the Government’s draconian anti-protest legislation actually target the very people that Paul Harriss said it wouldn’t — mum and dad protesters.

“This Bill is not only highly political and draconian it is unnecessary — there is already legislation in Tasmania for trespass and public nuisance and we want to see this Bill banished from the statue books. “I believe this law will not remain on the statue books in Tasmania forever. It may be subject to a High Court challenge. It really has no place in a civil and democratic society like ours.”

Tasmanian spokesperson for Civil Liberties Australia. Rajan Venkataraman, said the Bill was a severe infringement on the right to peaceful protest. “The provisions in this Act are quite unique to Tasmania,” he said.

“Around most jurisdictions in Australia and indeed many countries around the world, they have provisions regarding trespass and public nuisance and certainly violent protest … but this kind of Act specifically targets protesters and specifically peaceful protesters. “The offences created by the Act and the penalties imposed are extreme and not in proportion to penalties imposed under other statutes, even for quite serious and violent offences.”

Resources Minister Paul Harriss dismissed opposition to the laws.

“It says a lot about the Greens that at a time when the state is a facing a number of serious challenges, they are most concerned about changing the law to allow their mates to try to stop others from lawfully harvesting a regrowth forest.”

February 15, 2016 Posted by | civil liberties, politics, Tasmania | Leave a comment

King Islands’s world first renewable energy success

Renewable energy a power coup for island THE use of renewable energy to power King Island’s electricity supply for 33 successive hours has been hailed as a significant milestone. The latest achievement of the Hydro Tasmania’s King Island Renewable Integration project was an unprecedented milestone, project director Simon Gamble said.

“What makes this significant is that we’ve used renewable energy to support the needs of an entire community, which includes residential and industrial loads, for a full day,” Mr Gamble said.

“Our system has successfully managed the peaks in energy consumption that occur over the course of a full day, including early evening when demand is at its highest and there’s no solar contribution.

“It’s the first time anywhere that this has been achieved at a megawatt scale for such an extended period of time.”

King Island hybrid power

King Island mayor Duncan McFie said the progression of the project helped to support the image of the island, and Tasmania, as clean and green.

“That King Island is leading the way on this is a highly significant achievement,” he said. Australian Renewable Energy Agency chief executive officer Ivor Frischknecht said the project was an example of how renewable energy and enabling technologies could work together to provide stable, reliable power.

“Hydro Tasmania is using a unique combination of technologies to reduce King Island’s reliance on expensive shipped-in diesel and provide residents with a more secure and reliable energy source,” he said.  “This innovative energy solution could benefit off-grid communities on islands and in regional mainland Australia. “I look forward to seeing Hydro Tasmania continue to refine and commercialise its approach in other locations

November 18, 2015 Posted by | energy, Tasmania | Leave a comment