Australian news, and some related international items

Need to examine Australia’s electricity system – Victorian network fault

Parkinson-Report-Vic network fault causes outages in South Australia, conservatives blame renewables, REneweconomy By  on 1 December 2016 A major fault on the Victorian transmission network overnight caused power outages in South Australia for up to an hour, and forced the Portland smelter in Victoria to also go offline.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) said that at 01:33 AEDT on December 1, the South Australian power system separated from Victoria, due to an unknown issue on the  Victorian transmission network

“The root cause still under investigation,” AEMO said, but added “it is important to note that this event was not related to the Black System event in South Australia on September 28.”

It is believed that the fault lay in an Ausnet feeder line to the Heywood Interconnector in Western Victoria, when a transmission line conductor “hit the ground.”…….

questions have been raised about the decisions by the market operator, which chose to take no preventative measures, and for many underlined the fragility of a centralised grid, and the risks of storms, bushfires and other outages on an elongated network.

It has led to calls for a think about the design of electricity markets, and a push to localised grid and local renewable generation. AGL CEO Andrew Vesey, and many others, said the best security could be offered by more localised generation, and that meant renewable energy, and more storage.

December 1, 2016 Posted by | energy, Victoria | 1 Comment

Victoria to ban fracking

Victorian fracking ban legislation to be in introduced, ABC News By Stephanie Anderson, 22 Nov 16  The Victorian Government will introduce legislation today to permanently ban fracking following what the Premier described as “one of the most amazing community campaigns” in Australian history.

Fracking is used to extract so-called unconventional gases such as coal seam, tight and shale gas by pumping high-pressure water and chemicals into rock, fracturing it to release trapped gases.

There has been fears the chemicals could contaminate groundwater supplies and threaten agricultural industries.

The Victorian Government held a parliamentary inquiry into unconventional gas industries and announced earlier this year it would bring in a permanent ban.

Premier Daniel Andrews said there was a strong community campaign against fracking and unconventional gas.

“This is a triumph of one of the most amazing community campaigns that our state and indeed our nation has ever seen,” Mr Andrews said.

Local communities have put an elegant and articulate argument, and we have responded to that.”

Fracking occurs in all other states except the Northern Territory, with the most by far in Queensland.

Government to pay compensation to licence holders……

November 23, 2016 Posted by | politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

Victoria’s Point Lonsdale beach – just one example of rising sea levels

sea-level-rise-PortseaRising sea levels, stronger waves speeding up Victorian coastal erosion, CSIRO says, ABC News 30 Oct 16 By Joanna Crothers Rising sea levels and more frequent storms are increasing the rate of erosion across Australia’s southern coastline, the CSIRO has said, while locals at one Victorian beach are concerned it is not safe for summer holidaymakers.

Key points:

  • CSIRO warns of rising sea levels and a statewide trend of more storms
  • Since 2010, Government has spent $450,000 on maintenance at Point Lonsdale
  • In the past five years, erosion near Apollo Bay has increased from 8cm to one metre per year

Kathleen McInnes, a CSIRO sea level and coastal extremes expert, said more powerful waves were also contributing to the problem. “Sea levels have risen some 20 centimetres over the past 100 years, and are currently rising at about three millimetres per year,” she said. “There is also evidence that winds in the southern ocean are intensifying and this is driving a positive trend in wave energy reaching our coastline. “So this is creating a double whammy for coastal impacts.”

Individual storms have also become more frequent and intense, meaning beaches do not have as much time to recover after a harsh winter.”They’re driving higher waves which means a higher wave energy [is] reaching the shore,” Ms McInnes said.

Point Lonsdale beach ‘dangerous’, not ready for holidays The beachfront at Point Lonsdale, on the Bellarine Peninsula, has been badly eroded over the past decade and local residents said there was a risk children could slipping and cracking their heads open near the seawall…….

October 31, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Victoria | Leave a comment

A NEW wave of wind farm developments is sweeping Victoria

WIND-FARMWind farm developments crank up across VictoriaPETER HUNT, The Weekly Times

UK company RES, which has built 5000 turbines worldwide, is building its latest wind farm on 17 Murra Warra farmers’ land, including Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke’s property.

Mr Jochinke, who will have six turbines built on his property, said it was a great to have all landholders working together on the project.

RES Murra Warra project manager Kevin Garthwaite said the company had chosen Murra Warra on the flat Wimmera plain because it was on a major transmission line, had “good” wind and was capable of generating more than 400 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply about 220,000 homes.

He said the project would employ 250-300 people during construction, with ongoing employment for 10-15 workers once completed.

“We’ve been really pleased with the level of community support,” Mr Garthwaite said. “If it goes through (the planning process) without a hitch we’d hope to start construction towards the end of 2017.”……..

October 5, 2016 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Ignite Energy Resources pulls out of a $90 million clean coal project

clean-coal.Company withdraws from government-funded clean coal scheme in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley ABC Gippsland, 4 Oct 16  

The call comes as Ignite Energy Resources pulls out of a $90 million Advanced Lignite Demonstration Program to find cleaner uses for Victorian brown coal.

Chinese company Shanghai Electric last year also withdrew from the program, after being offered $25 million to develop a demonstration plant to convert coal into briquettes.

Environment Victoria campaigns manager Nicholas Aberle said there needed to be a focus on other ways of developing the Latrobe Valley economy, outside of coal………

Dr Aberle said the continued focus on coal was distracting from other efforts to develop the regional economy.

Greens energy spokeswoman Ellen Sandell said government grants for failed coal schemes should be redirected to renewable energy initiatives in the Latrobe Valley.

“This money should support the transition to clean, modern jobs, not prop up dead-end coal projects,” Ms Sandell said.

“The future will be powered by the sun and the wind. With support the Latrobe Valley could become a renewable energy powerhouse.”……..

State says ‘not one dollar’ went to Ignite

A spokeswoman for Victorian Resources Minister Wade Noonan said not one government dollar had gone to Ignite Energy Resources because the company had failed to meet the benchmarks for the Advanced Lignite Demonstration Program.

Ignite was offered $10 million from the State Government and $10 million from the Federal Government.

The Victorian Government said it was yet to allocate those unused funds.

A third company, Coal Energy Australia, remains in the Advanced Lignite Demonstration Program, with access to $30 million in government support.

October 5, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Victoria | Leave a comment

Community Power Agency urges Victorian govt to establish “clean energy community hubs”

text-community-energyEverybody needs good neighbours … to produce renewable energy, Benjamin Preiss  The Age, 12 Sept 16 Linda Parlane got more than energy from the sun when she installed solar panels on her roof. She harnessed the power of her community. Ms Parlane bought her solar panels back in 2009 through a bulk-buy community scheme in Coburg………

She is now a board member of the Moreland Community Solar co-operative and wants to see more local projects, including ventures established through community investment.  But she fears community energy projects have come unstuck in recent years after running into legal and administrative hurdles.

Moreland Community Solar is among a collection of environment, energy and lobby groups calling on the state government to ensure small to medium-scale community projects play a bigger role in reducing carbon emissions.

A submission to the government prepared by the Community Power Agency is urging it to establish “clean energy community hubs” that can provide advice to local groups and help them strike up relationships with renewable energy developers. It also recommends financial support for community-produced energy.

The state government has called for submissions as part of its plan to have 40 per cent renewable energy by 2025. NSW has a 20 per cent target by 2020-21. The government will use a “competitive auction process” in which renewable energy developers can bid for contracts to run their projects. The Community Power Agency wants community energy projects to account for up to 10 per cent of the overall renewable energy target.

Community energy projects take many different forms. Several years ago residents in Daylesford and Hepburn set up a community co-operative to establish a two-turbine wind farm that now produces enough energy to power more than 2000 homes.

In Bendigo a crowdfunding campaign was launched to buy solar panels for a local library.

Community Power Agency director Nicky Ison said many Victorians wanted to produce renewable energy at a local level. “Community groups have great ideas,” she said. “Once they’ve turned those ideas into something financially viable there are so many people who want to invest in these projects.”Ms Ison said community energy projects also resulted in stronger relationships within communities. “It’s bringing neighbours together.”

The groups supporting the submission include progressive lobby group Getup, Solar Citizens, Yarra Community Solar, Moreland Community Solar co-operative and the Central Victoria Greenhouse Alliance.–to-produce-renewable-energy-20160911-grdp6z.html

September 12, 2016 Posted by | energy, Victoria | Leave a comment

Victorian govt to ban unconventional gas exploration – fracking and CSG extraction

Victoria-sunny.psdVictorian unconventional gas exploration ban to end fracking and CSG extraction, ABC News, 30 Aug 16  The Victorian Government is introducing legislation to permanently ban exploration and development of unconventional gas in the state, including coal seam gas and fracking.

Key points:

  • Legislation will permanently ban development, production of all unconventional gas in Victoria
  • Moratorium on conventional gas extraction to be extended until 2020
  • Government says ban will protect Victoria’s agriculture sector

The legislation — the first of its kind in Australia — will be introduced into State Parliament later this year.

Premier Daniel Andrew said the ban would protect the reputation of Victoria’s agriculture sector and alleviate farmers’ concerns about environmental and health risks associated with hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking.

“We’ve listened to the community and we’re making a decision that puts farmers and our clean, green brand first,” he said.

The legislation will also extend the moratorium on conventional onshore gas until 2020, but offshore gas exploration and development will continue.

The Government said the decision, which responds to a parliamentary inquiry, acknowledged the risks involved outweighed any potential benefits……..

August 31, 2016 Posted by | environment, politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

Landmark solar powered apartment tower for Melbourne

sunFirst solar-powered apartment skyscraper to rise in Melbourne, The Age, Simon Johanson and Marc Pallisco , 24 Aug 16 

A landmark high-rise apartment tower in Southbank whose glass exterior is wrapped in solar cells will provide its residents with “off-the-grid” power stored in Tesla-like batteries, its designers say.

The 60-level building will be the first skyscraper in Australia environmentally engineered to include solar cells in the facade, creating a far greater surface area for catching the sun’s rays.

“We get an enormous area of solar panels by comparison to running them across the roof,” said Peter Brook from Peddle Thorp, the architects behind the design.

The curved exterior of the building has been orientated to deliberately capture the sun’s movement from east to west throughout the day, a feature that had created an “elegant tower”……..

August 24, 2016 Posted by | solar, Victoria | Leave a comment

Victorians, including Liberals, want urgent shift to renewable energy

Victoria-sunny.psdMajority of Victorians support urgent shift to renewable energy, poll finds

A ReachTEL poll commissioned by Friends of the Earth shows 68% of the state, including a majority of Liberal voters, want to see an end to reliance on coal, Guardian, , 18 Aug 16, The vast majority of people in Victoria – and even a majority of Liberal voters – support the state moving towards 100% renewable energy “as a matter of urgency,” a new poll has found.

The polling comes as the state government works to rewrite the Climate Change Act, including pre-2050 emissions reduction targets.

More than 68% of Victorians said they agreed or strongly agreed that “Victoria needs to transition its energy use from coal to 100% renewables as a matter of urgency”, according to the ReachTEL poll of 1,137 people conducted on 4 August and commissioned by Friends of the Earth.

That was in line with previous national polls. But when the researchers drilled down to the views of people who supported different political parties, they found consistent support for an ambitious state-based renewable energy target. Continue reading

August 19, 2016 Posted by | energy, politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

South Australia, Victoria – set up electricity trading scheme – says Xenophon

Xenophon, NickXenophon calls for SA and Victoria to set up their own electricity emissions trading scheme, ABC News, By Nick Harmsen , 18 Aug 16, The Victorian and South Australian governments should establish their own joint electricity emissions trading scheme if the Federal Government refuses to put a price on carbon, Senator Nick Xenophon says.

The South Australian senator told an industry conference in Port Pirie that such a scheme would drive down prices.

“The sooner that COAG acts, or alternatively the Victorian and South Australian governments, the sooner consumers and businesses will have real relief in power prices with enhanced reliability,” he said.

“It could and should happen this year.”

Senator Xenophon said he had discussed the proposal with South Australian Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis, and had written to the federal Minister Josh Frydenberg, urging the issue be discussed at a national meeting of energy ministers this Friday.

Proposal first discussed seven years ago

Rather than advocating a nationwide carbon pricing scheme, Senator Xenophon said the Federal Government should resurrect a scheme first put forward in 2009, during Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s time as opposition leader.

“We, as in Malcolm and me, jointly commissioned Frontier Economics to come up with an alternative emissions trading scheme to [then prime minister Kevin Rudd’s] carbon pollution reduction scheme,” he said.

That scheme would effectively see dirty power generators pay cleaner generators to run more……..

South Australian Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said Senator Xenophon’s proposal had already been considered by numerous bodies, including COAG. “I am sure this idea is one of the many things we will discuss on Friday at what is an incredibly important COAG meeting,” he said.

“The main point I agree with Mr Xenophon on is that this is an urgent issue that requires the ministers to take back power in decision making, form a consensus and agree to a reform of the energy market.”

August 19, 2016 Posted by | energy, politics, South Australia, Victoria | Leave a comment

Clean Energy Finance Corporation helps North Melbourne Football Club go solar

logo CEFCJoin in the solar chorus, says council, as North Melbourne gets on the ball,  Clay Lucas
  Councillor Arron Wood can understand why more businesses don’t put solar panels on their roof.
It’s not because they don’t want to save money. And it’s not because they don’t want to do the right thing. “The biggest barrier to wider uptake [of solar power] is the complexity of going through the process,” says Cr Wood, the chairman of Melbourne City Council’s environment committee.

Which is why, he says, opening North Melbourne Football Club’s new solar panel bank – 800 panels set across the club’s roof and that of the neighbouring council-run recreation centre – is a major breakthrough.

“There’s this sense that footy speaks to all parts of life in Melbourne, so partnering with … North Melbourne footy club might drive others to think ‘Maybe this is something we can do’,” he says.

The panels on the club’s roof will produce enough electricity per year to run 70 average Melbourne homes. North Melbourne’s chief executive Carl Dilena said the club expected to cut its energy use by almost a quarter as a result of installing the solar panels.

But as many Melbourne home owners know, solar does not always come cheap, at least initially. The system cost almost half a million dollars to install, and was partly financed by the council, via the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The club contributed about $67,000 of the funding, with the rest coming from the city council.

It is the first partnership the council has undertaken with an outside party – all other installations it has done have been on council-owned building rooftops.

The council is working with Sustainability Victoria to find businesses interested in reducing either emissions or energy bills that have previously considered going solar.

“The driver for a lot of businesses isn’t saving the environment, it’s to save dollars and that’s completely fine,” says Cr Wood.

August 8, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar, Victoria | Leave a comment

Josh Frydenberg, the Minister for Gas, er, I mean Environment

Josh Frydenberg ‘out of step’ on gas
NATALIE KOTSIOS, The Weekly TimesAugust 4, 2016 VICTORIA should end its moratorium on unconventional gas because Australia needs more energy capacity, not less, says Federal Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg.

The Victorian MP maintained his stance against the moratorium this week, leading environmental critics to say he was out of step with the rest of the state — and his Victorian Coalition colleagues.

The State Government is preparing to release its gas policy, expected before parliament resumes on August 16. The Victorian Coalition has ­already said it wants the moratorium extended until 2020.

Mr Frydenberg first flagged his concern about Victoria‘s moratorium in February when he was resources and energy minister.

This week he said the shift away from coal was not a bad thing, but the South Australian energy crisis proved there was a need for a reliable base power source, which should be gas.

“We shouldn’t have blanket moratoriums on unconventional gas like we have in Victoria and NSW because you need more gas and gas suppliers,” he told the Australian ­Financial Review.

Friends of the Earth’s Cam Walker said this was “profoundly out of step” with Victoria, where 73 communities have declared themselves gas field-free, many in Coalition-held seats. “The argument that gas is a bridging and back-up fuel is outdated,” he said.

August 5, 2016 Posted by | politics, Victoria | Leave a comment

Melbourne’s first Tesla-town to be built in mega Alphington development

The Age, Simon Johanson, 2 Aug 16, The first stage of the massive 2500-dwelling, mixed-use commercial redevelopment of the former Amcor paper mill site in Fairfield will be built with 60 homes fitted with Tesla battery packs, inverters and solar panels. The full-line energy installation will not be an optional extra for home buyers but a standard inclusion in all three- to five-bedroom homes, Glenvill development director Travers Nuttall said…….

August 3, 2016 Posted by | solar, Victoria | Leave a comment

Green bonds fast gaining popularity

Victoria-sunny.psdGreen bonds the new black in the market as environmental financing surges, ABC News, 26 July 16 By business reporter Stephen Letts The environmentally sensitive shoots developing in the global bonds market appear to be heading for a serious growth spurt with another record quarter of “green bonds” issuance.

In a research note on the sector, the credit ratings agency Moody’s found environmentally focused green bond issuance in the June quarter hit a record $US20.3 billion ($27 billion), well above the $US16.9 billion ($22.5 billion) recorded in the first quarter of the year.

Added together, the two quarters raised almost 90 per cent more capital than in the first half of 2015.

“The global green bond market is now poised to reach $US75 billion ($100 billion) in total volume for 2016 and so set a new record for the fifth consecutive year, given the strong issuance already observable in the first two weeks of Q3,” Moody’s senior vice president Henry Shilling said.

That fresh flow in the third quarter includes $300 million worth of bonds from Victoria put out to tender earlier this month, the first green issuance from an Australian state or federal government……

Clean energy projects dominate the market

The increasing demand has been supported by many big pension funds now carrying mandates that stipulate portfolios must hold required levels of environmentally friendly investments.

Around two-thirds of green bond proceeds in the quarter were directed to renewable energy and energy efficient projects, with clean transport accounting for a further 17 per cent of the money raised.

The US dominated issuance, with 23 per cent of the market, followed by the big development agencies such as the World Bank, with 17 per cent, although China is expected to bounce back to its dominant position in the market with $US3 billion worth of bonds in the pipeline for sale in coming months…….

July 27, 2016 Posted by | business, energy, Victoria | Leave a comment

Solar and battery mini grid hits the suburbs

solar city

Australian Mini-Suburb ‘Tesla Town’ Project with Powerwalls gives a glimpse into future sustainable communities, Electrek, Nathaniel Kobza, 15 July 16  Near Melbourne, Australia lies an incredible suburban project underway dubbed YarrabendThis development is currently home to 60 houses and is planned to eventually hit around 2500. What is unique about this venture is not only the art, food or shopping that will be near it, but that all of the houses will come standard with Tesla Powerwalls and solar panels. Via the Heidelberg Leader, Nick Marinakis, sales and marketing manager of the Glenvill development team for Yarrabend, states that the suburb…

will achieve the highest possible ESD rating under the UDIA (Urban Development Institute of Australia) Envirodevelopment scheme, a first for an infill development site in Melbourne.

UDIA’s chief executive, Danni Addison, said that a big reason that this will receive the highest rating is because it will “be one of the most environmentally sustainable developments in Australia.” Further, Ms. Addison goes on to explain:

Some areas that are a standout include water reduction of 43 per cent, landfill reduced by 80 per cent and the potential to reduce energy use by 34 per cent. The Powerwalls, combined with solar panels, will mean that future residents will be able to benefit in a variety of ways, including dramatically smaller power bills and knowing that the majority of their energy usage is coming from a clean and renewable source…….

July 25, 2016 Posted by | solar, storage, Victoria | Leave a comment