Australian news, and some related international items

Solar, storage to take over from Ranger uranium mine

February 18, 2021 Posted by | Northern Territory, solar, storage, uranium | Leave a comment

Businesses and State governments lead the transition to renewable energy

Guardian 26th Oct 2020, Future historians will no doubt remember 2020 as the year of Covid-19. But according to veteran climate campaigner Bill McKibben, they may also view it as a turning point, the year the world moved decisively towards “the transition everyone knew we needed to make”. McKibben told the recent Global Smart Energy Summit 2020 has been a year of “extraordinary convergence”, from the images of Australia’s bushfires, seen around the world on New Year’s Day – “like something out of Hieronymus Bosch” – to unprecedented developments such as China’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2060, the EU’s pledge to make its Green Deal and Є100bn Just Transition Fund the centrepiece of post-Covid recovery, and the US $15tn divested from fossil fuels.

Closer to home, there’s extraordinary convergence between business and state governments on the need to speed up Australia’s energy transition.

Tim Reed, president of the Business Council of Australia, wants a “national, bipartisan commitment to net zero emissions by 2050”. Most states have already made this commitment, and South Australia is leading the pack. The state’s energy and mining minister, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, says SA will aim for 100% net renewable generation by 2030. Rapidly expanding wind, solar and battery storage capacity in SA’s Upper Spencer Gulf region will play a key role in achieving that aim.

But energy transitions are not just about panels, turbines and targets. They’re processes of social as well as technological change. Unless local people see jobs and other benefits for their communities, there’s a danger support will falter, and the legitimacy of Australia’s energy transition will be undermined.

October 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

South Australia’s global milestone -100 per cent of energy demand met by solar panels alone

October 27, 2020 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

The pandemic and the prospect of zero interest present a massive opportunity for clean energy development.

October 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Energy giant Engie supercharges green city development with support for EVs, hydrogen transport

Renew Economy 21st Oct 2020, French energy giant Engie backs Greater Springfield development, aiming to be ‘world’s greenest city’, with zero emissions transport plan. The post Energy giant Engie supercharges green city development with support for EVs, hydrogen transport appeared first on RenewEconomy.

A new city being developed in south-east Queensland aiming to become one of
the world’s greenest is set to get a boost, with a new roadmap launched with the backing of one of the world’s largest energy companies.

Greater Springfield, which is located around 30km south-west of Brisbane and has
grown to a population of 45,000 has released a new master plan that will see electric vehicle charging infrastructure and a hydrogen fuelled bus network rolled out, in an effort to create the ‘world’s greenest city’ by 2038.

The city is one of Australia’s largest privately funded city developments, including a mix of residential and business districts, and has attracted a campus of the University of Southern Queensland.
Energy giant Engie supercharges green city development with support for EVs, hydrogen transport — RenewEconomy

October 22, 2020 Posted by | energy, Queensland | Leave a comment

Kevin Rudd’s vision for a green recovery out of the pandemic

New jobs, new industries, new wealth’: Kevin Rudd’s vision for a green recovery out of the pandemic

Former PM says Australia risks becoming ‘the complacent country’ and could suffer another recession if it remains tied to fossil fuels, Guardian,    Adam Morton Environment editor @adamlmorton, Tue 20 Oct 2020 Kevin Rudd has called for solar panels to be made compulsory on all new buildings and increased incentives to be offered to households that do not yet have them as part of a “genuinely green recovery” from recession.

Speaking at an Australian National University event on Monday, the former prime minister repeated his 2007 declaration that climate change was the “great moral challenge of our time” and accused the Morrison government of putting jobs and long-term living standards at risk by failing to deal with the issue as promised under the Paris agreement.

Rudd said the government could have used the coronavirus pandemic as a spur to accelerate the shift to becoming a zero emissions economy, but had instead used it as an excuse to delay action further. It was evidence Australia had become “the complacent country” on the issue despite the experience of last summer’s catastrophic bushfires, he said.

“Besides the United States under [Donald] Trump and Brazil under [Jair] Bolsonaro, we in Australia are the only major economy that does not take the need for action on climate change seriously. Nor do we recognise the economic opportunities that will come with that action. I would argue this is bad company to keep,” Rudd said as part of his keynote address at the Wilson Dialogue.

“I fear that seeking to untangle our carbon-intensive economy much later than the rest of the world could in fact be what causes the next recession in Australia as the global economy increasingly walks away from fossil fuel dependency.”

Rudd said his vision for a green recovery from the pandemic included large-scale investment in renewable energy to position as a clean energy superpower, saying there was evidence it could create “new jobs, new industries, new wealth” while providing clean energy at home and creating clean energy technology that could be exported……….

In his speech, Rudd urged people to “launch, collectively, a national fusillade against the Murdoch media”, which he said had been the “echo-chamber of climate change denialism for the best part of a decade”.

October 22, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy | Leave a comment

Net zero emissions target for Australia could launch $63bn investment boom

October 12, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Coalition to divert renewable energy funding away from wind and solar

September 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, solar, wind | Leave a comment

Labor leader Anthony Albanese says: Australia can be a ‘renewable energy superpower’

Australia can be a ‘renewable energy superpower’, Anthony Albanese declares
Labor leader sidesteps tension in his party around resources to call for embrace of clean energy,
Guardian, Katharine Murphy, political editor, 8 Sep 20 The federal Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, says the resources sector has been the backbone of the Australian economy for decades, but the nation’s “long-term future lies in renewable energy sources”.Stepping around tensions within his own ranks, Albanese will use a speech on Wednesday about regional development to note that resources exports will “continue to meet the demands of the rapidly growing nations of our region” even as the world transitions to a lower-carbon future.But the opposition leader says in the speech the task of the coming decades is to “position our nation to be a major player in the clean energy industries that continue to grow in importance over time”.

The Labor leader says if the policy settings are right “we can transform our nation into a renewable energy superpower”.

He says resources of lithium and other rare earths offer huge potential in a world that will become increasingly focused on the need for batteries to store energy. Albanese also identifies opportunities for regional development in bio-energy, including bio-mass generation and waste-to-energy.

n a speech to be delivered in the New South Wales coastal town of Coffs Harbour, Albanese will cite a report this week from the state’s chief scientist and engineer that envisages 17,000 jobs and $26bn would be added to annual growth from a domestic hydrogen industry.

The Labor leader will note that report was endorsed by the state’s environment minister, Matt Kean, but “the Morrison government appears to be blind to such opportunities”……..

Albanese’s speech on Wednesday lays out his thoughts on development opportunities for regional Australia. He insists the transition to renewable energy will create jobs in the regions.

He will argue the National party’s resistance to the energy transition is leaving them out of step with the communities they represent.

“The Nationals, who say they represent farmers, are now at odds with the National Farmers’ Federation, which recently embraced the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” the Labor leader says.

He says regional Australia and the investment sector are “moving beyond this do-nothing government”.

Albanese says only Labor can tackle energy policy “in a way that recognises the value of the current resources market while seeking out the massive opportunities in renewables”.

“The right plans will create hundreds of thousands of jobs in new industries, including in regional Australia whilst also reducing power prices”.

September 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Renewable energy can save the natural world – but if we’re not careful, it will also hurt it

Renewable energy can save the natural world – but if we’re not careful, it will also hurt it
 September 2, 2020    Laura Sonter, Lecturer in Environmental Management, The University of Queensland, James Watson, Professor, The University of Queensland, Richard K Valenta, Director – WH Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centre – The Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland

A vast transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is crucial to slowing climate change. But building solar panels, wind turbines and other renewable energy infrastructure requires mining for materials. If not done responsibly, this may damage species and ecosystems.

In our research, published today, we mapped the world’s potential mining areas and assessed how they overlap with biodiversity conservation sites.

We found renewable energy production will exacerbate the threat mining poses to biodiversity – the world’s variety of animals and plants. It’s fair to assume that in some places, the extraction of renewables minerals may cause more damage to nature than the climate change it averts.

Australia is well placed to become a leader in mining of renewable energy materials and drive the push to a low-carbon world. But we must act now to protect our biodiversity from being harmed in the process.

Mining to prevent climate change

Currently, about 17% of current global energy consumption is achieved through renewable energy. To further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this proportion must rapidly increase.

Building new renewable energy infrastructure will involve mining minerals and metals. Some of these include:

  • lithium, graphite and cobalt (mostly used in battery storage)
  • zinc and titanium (used mostly for wind and geothermal energy)
  • copper, nickle and aluminium (used in a range of renewable energy technologies).

The World Bank estimates the production of such materials could increase by 500% by 2050. It says more than 3 billion tonnes of minerals and metals will be needed to build the wind, solar and geothermal power, and energy storage, needed to keep global warming below 2℃ this century.

However, mining can seriously damage species and places. It destroys natural habitat, and surrounding environments can be harmed by the construction of transport infrastructure such as roads and railways.

What we found

We mapped areas around the world potentially affected by mining. Our analysis involved 62,381 pre-operational, operational, and closed mines targeting 40 different materials.

We found mining may influence about 50 million km² of Earth’s land surface (or 37%, excluding Antarctica). Some 82% of these areas contain materials needed for renewable energy production. Of this, 12% overlaps with protected areas, 7% with “key biodiversity areas”, and 14% with remaining wilderness.

Our results suggest mining of renewable energy materials may increase in currently untouched and “biodiverse” places. These areas are considered critical to helping species overcome the challenges of climate change.

Threats here and abroad

Australia is well positioned to become a leading supplier of materials for renewable energy. We are also one of only 17 nations considered ecologically “megadiverse”.

Yet, many of the minerals needed for renewable energy exist in important conservation areas.

For example, Australia is rich in lithium and already accounts for half of world productionHard-rock lithium mines operate in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

This area has also been identified as a national biodiversity hotspot and is home to many native species. These include small marsupials such as the little red antechinus and the pebble-mound mouse, and reptiles including gecko and goanna species.

Australia is also ranked sixth in the world for deposits of rare earth elements, many of which are needed to produce magnets for wind turbines. We also have large resources of other renewables materials such as cobalt, manganese, tantalum, tungsten and zirconium.

It’s critical that mining doesn’t damage Australia’s already vulnerable biodiversity, and harm the natural places valued by Indigenous people and other communities.

In many cases, renewables minerals are found in countries where the resource sector is not strongly regulated, posing an even greater environmental threat. For example, the world’s second-largest untouched lithium reserve exists in Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni salt pan. This naturally diverse area is mostly untouched by mining.

The renewables expansion will also require iron and steel. To date, mining for iron in Brazil has almost wiped out an entire plant community, and recent dam failures devastated the environment and communities.

We need proactive planning

Strong planning and conservation action is needed to avoid, manage and prevent the harm mining causes to the environment. However global conservation efforts are often naive to the threats posed by significant growth in renewable energies.

Some protected areas around the world prevent mining, but more than 14% contain metal mines in or near their boundaries. Consequences for biodiversity may extend many kilometres from mining sites.

Meanwhile, other areas increasingly important for conservation are focused on the needs of biodiversity, and don’t consider the distribution of mineral resources and pressures to extract them. Conservation plans for these sites must involve strategies to manage the mining threat.

There is some good news. Our analyses suggest many required materials occur outside protected areas and other conservation priorities. The challenge now is to identify which species are most at risk from current and future mining development, and develop strong policies to avoid their loss.

September 3, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Repower WA with Renewables: 90% by 2030

September 3, 2020 Posted by | energy, Western Australia | Leave a comment

GreenPower seeks to revive interest, launches refreshed brand

September 1, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Australian government could create 76,000 jobs within three years if it invests more in renewables

Climate Council unveils plan to create 76,000 jobs in three years, The New Daily, KellyReporterThe federal government could create 76,000 jobs within three years if it invests more in renewables, a new report has found.

After a second wave of infections dashed hopes of a rapid economic recovery, the Climate Council has urged the government to invest in sustainable projects that rebuild employment.

In conjunction with economic consultants AlphaBeta, the Climate Council has released a 12-point plan to create 76,000 jobs while slashing emissions – recommending everything from restoring ecosystems to retrofitting public buildings.

“The opportunities identified in our modelling work are shovel ready,” AlphaBeta director Andrew Charlton said.
One-third of the jobs would require less than 12 months of retraining, meaning that workers who lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 crisis could be rapidly employed.

“The job creation could start immediately and continue over three years. Federal, state and territory governments all have the opportunity to put these measures in train.”

Dr Charlton added: “Australia has seen steep job losses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But with the right policy measures, thousands of jobs could be created in large-scale renewable energy, ecosystem restoration and the collection and processing of organic waste.”

By targeting 12 policy areas, state and federal governments could create employment for communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 economic crisis.

The 12 areas include large-scale projects such as installing wind and solar and investing in pilot-scale green hydrogen, as well as more localised initiatives such as accelerating construction of public transport and increasing the amount of tree canopy cover in urban areas. ………

Ms McKenzie said the plan would create jobs, cut energy bills and reduce Australia’s emissions.

And she said taxpayers wouldn’t have to foot the entire bill, as private investors have a big appetite for investment in renewables.

“We know renewable energy is the cheapest source of power. It can attract the most private investment,”……..

July 21, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, energy | Leave a comment

In contradiction to Angus Taylor, Australia’s Minister On Behalf of Polluting Industries, the States are leading on clean energy

How Australia’s state energy ministers are turning the tables on Angus Taylor, Guardian Simon Holmes à Court  The state energy ministers still need to deliver on their promises, but imagine if any of them held the federal portfolio   @simonahac, Sat 11 Jul 202   Sometimes it just takes a bit of leadership.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull likes to say that we must choose “engineering and economics” over “idiocy and ideology”. The New South Wales energy minister, Matt Kean, has been making the right choices.

In December 2018 I singled out NSW for its reckless lack of energy policy. The state, reliant on an ageing coal fleet for 80% of its power, had been shunned by energy investors……..

NSW is blessed with high-quality wind and solar resources, but lacks transmission lines between the best wind and solar areas and the state’s major population and industrial centres. In 2018, only one-in-20 proposed renewable energy projects could be accommodated into the weak grids in the west of the state, and developers were forced to turn their attention to the other states.

In a landmark speech late last year, Kean, the newly minted energy minister, made it clear his government would respond to the climate science and embrace the opportunities presented by decarbonising the economy.

“To those vested interests and ideologues who want to stand in the way of this transition, I say enjoy your Kodak moment,” he said.

Undeterred by attacks from the Murdoch media and even the prime minister, Scott Morrison, over the following months, Kean set about turning the tables in NSW……….

What’s stunning is how much ambition has shifted, and how it’s being driven by the states. Just two years ago the modelling for Josh Frydenberg’s failed national energy guarantee predicted that NSW wouldn’t build a single wind or solar farm from 2021 to 2030. Now Kean has a plan to build as much large-scale renewable energy this decade in NSW as all of Australia built over the past 20 years. …….

The Australian Energy Market Operator and CSIRO have determined that the cheapest way to “firm” the huge amounts of renewable energy is a relatively modest mix of better interconnections with neighbouring states, batteries and pumped hydroelectricity – Snowy 2.0 project and multiple smaller projects. On economic grounds alone, fossil gas is unlikely to play an increased role.

The Rezs will also open up opportunities for energy intensive industry. Flexible demand, such as hydrogen production, can help balance the grid. Instead of fracking the Pilliga forest to produce fertiliser with a huge carbon footprint, business could build a zero-carbon factory in the New England region, making fertiliser from renewable energy.

Angus Taylor, the federal minister for energy and emissions reductions, is famously no fan of renewable energy or of setting meaningful emissions reduction targets. On electricity, the state energy ministers – right across the political spectrum – are charging ahead without him, which is perhaps as it should be, given that electricity is the states’ responsibility…….

Every state and territory has now formally signed on to a net-zero emissions target by no later than 2050, a target backed by business, unions and the opposition – yet the federal government and its donors stand in the way.

Australia has three Liberal state energy ministers. South Australia’s Dan van Holst Pellekaan wants to see his state hit 100% renewables by 2030. His Tasmanian counterpart, Guy Barnett, is gunning for 200% renewables and Kean has outlined a plan for NSW to be an energy superpower.

Sure, these energy ministers still need to deliver on their promises, but imagine if any one of them held the federal portfolio.

July 11, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Australia could create hundreds of thousands of jobs by accelerating shift to zero emissions – report

could create hundreds of thousands of jobs by accelerating shift to zero emissions – report

Decarbonising the economy by investing in renewable energy, clean buildings, clean transport and manufacturing could help fight the recession, Guardian, Adam Morton Environment editor @adamlmorton, Mon 29 Jun 2020 Hundreds of thousands of jobs could be created in Australia by hurrying the shift to zero greenhouse gas emissions, a study backed by business and investment leaders has found.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates 835,000 jobs have been lost since the coronavirus pandemic shutdown began in March. A report by Beyond Zero Emissions, an energy and climate change thinktank, says practical projects to decarbonise the economy could create 1.78m “job years” over the next five years – on average, 355,000 people in work each year – while modernising Australian industry.

Called the “million jobs plan”, it says further stimulus measures needed to fight the Covid-19 recession are “a unique opportunity to lay the foundations for a globally competitive Australian economy fit for 21st century challenges”.

The report focuses on proposals it says are already being planned and could create jobs by accelerating private and public investment in renewable energyclean buildings, clean transport, manufacturing and land use that will happen in the years ahead anyway. Benefits would include improved air quality and new employment in regional areas.

Eytan Lenko, Beyond Zero Emissions’ interim chief executive, said the group had brought together investment, business and industry leaders to scope the best clean solutions that would drive productivity and growth.

“No one thought 2020 would turn out the way it has. We now have a unique opportunity to seize this moment, to retool, reskill, and rebuild our battered economy to set us up for future generations,” he said.

The plan would require hundreds of billions of dollars in investment. It says clean energy investors have indicated their willingness to spend on this scale, pointing to the more than $100bn of existing renewable energy projects proposed but yet to be built.

The report says Australia risks missing out on some of these opportunities, and others in electric transport, zero-carbon manufacturing and green steel, unless governments deliver policy certainty and help create an environment that encourages large clean investment deals. Reserve Bank research found the number of large-scale renewable energy projects reaching commencement fell about 50% last year after a record-setting 2018.

Beyond Zero Emissions says governments also have a role to play in direct investment in, for example, urgent transmission line projects to new renewable energy zones, the construction of energy-efficient social housing, and the introduction and expansion of electric buses and trains……….

June 29, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment, energy | Leave a comment