SA power bills rose less in past decade than coal states, REneweconomy By Sophie Vorrath on 21 February 2017 A new report charting Australia’s rising power prices over the past decade has undermined claims that South Australia’s high electricity prices have been driven by the state’s uptake wind and solar, showing that its rises have been less than in coal dependent states.
The argument that South Australia’s high electricity prices are a result of its pursuit of wind and solar is an argument prosecuted by conservative media and politicians alike, but the new report from the Australian National University underlines the fact that its prices have always been high, but have moderated since its investment in renewable energy.
The ANU report, commissioned by News Limited, but available here, shows that average household electricity bills have increased less in the renewables-rich state of South Australia over the past 10 years than they have in Australia’s eastern states, which are predominantly powered by coal and gas-fired generation…….. http://reneweconomy.com.au/sa-power-bills-rose-less-past-decade-coal-states-95588/
Solar power battery storage would solve SA’s electricity problems, company says, ABC News, By Claire Campbell, 21 Feb 17, The company behind a $100-million solar plant with battery storage says its project could solve South Australia’s energy woes as the Federal Government announces a $445,000 investment into a pumped hydro-station for the state.
South Australia’s power supply has been scrutinised since the state was plunged into darkness last September, and was forced to “load shed” during a recent heatwave.
South Australian-based renewable energy company Zen Energy is working to build a $100-million solar power plant with 100 megawatts of battery storage in the region.
Chairman Professor Ross Garnaut said the battery would “solve most” of the state’s energy problems and if increased by a further 50MW it would solve “all” energy issues.
“The blackouts of the past year would not have happened if this was in place,” he said.
“We think that it can make a major contribution both to grid stability and also to provide a buffer for when peak demand for power exceeds supply from other sources.”…… http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-21/solar-power-battery-storage-could-have-prevented-sa-blackout/8290304
Pre-election coal advertising funded by money meant for clean coal research, ABC News, By Stephen Long 21 Feb 17 The coal industry’s multi-million-dollar advertising and lobbying campaign in the run-up to the last federal election was bankrolled by money deducted from state mining royalty payments and meant to fund research into “clean coal”.
- Coal21 fund launched in 2004, aiming to create $1 billion to research “clean coal technologies”
- Fund’s coal levy was suspended from mid-2012 to mid-2016
- In 2013 coal lobby changed mandate of Coal21 to allow its funds to be used for “coal promotion”
The mining industry spent $2.5 million pushing the case for lower-emissions, coal-fired power plants in the run-up to last year’s election — a cause the Federal Government has since taken up with gusto.
The source of the funds was a voluntary levy on coal companies, originally intended to fund research into “clean coal” technologies, which coal producers could deduct from state mining royalties.
Instead, some of the money raised paid for phone polling, literature and TV ads that declared “coal — it’s an amazing thing”.
The funds were channelled through the Australian Coal Association Low Emissions Technology Limited (ACALET), formerly owned by the Australian Coal Association and now part of the Minerals Council for Australia.
Queensland Government documents list “the COAL21 levy payable to Australian Coal Association Low Emissions Technologies Ltd (ACALET)” as an eligible deduction against royalty payments in the state.
A “coal research” levy in NSW is also deductible against coal mining royalty payments, under a deal signed off by the disgraced former NSW Labor minister Ian Macdonald, who was charged with criminal offences after an ICAC inquiry.
Coal21 was launched more than a decade ago, with the aim of creating a $1 billion fund for research into “clean coal” technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS), but only a fraction of the money was raised or spent.
With a lack of research projects to finance, the levy was suspended in 2012. In 2013, the coal lobby changed the mandate of Coal21 to downplay research and allow its funds to be used for “coal promotion”.
Critics ‘outraged’ by industry’s use of funding
Funding the industry campaign from money that otherwise would have been paid to state governments as mining royalties has outraged the Federal Opposition and the coal industry’s critics.
“It is a huge shame that Coal21 funding, which was mean to go into genuine CCS research, is now being used to finance advertising and political campaigns,” Labor’s environment spokesman Mark Butler said.
Australia Institute chief economist Richard Denniss said it was “scandalous”.
“Every dollar spent on advertising as part of the coal industry campaign was a dollar that should have gone into consolidated revenue,” he said.
“Citizens funded a propaganda campaign with money that would otherwise have gone into public revenue to fund schools and hospitals.”
GarryRogers Nature Conservation
GR: An update on the continuing bleaching disaster. It appears to me that the fossil-fuel industry has purchased the Australian government and directing the government to permit for-profit developments harmful to the reef.
“The embattled Great Barrier Reef could face yet more severe coral bleaching in the coming month, with areas badly hit by last year’s event at risk of death.
“Images taken by local divers last week and shared exclusively with the Guardian by the Australian Marine Conservation Society show newly bleached corals discovered near Palm Island.
“Most of the Great Barrier Reef has been placed on red alert for coral bleaching for the coming month by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Its satellite thermal maps have projected unusually warm waters off eastern Australia after an extreme heatwave just over a week ago saw land temperatures reach above 47C in parts of the country.
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We have now reached a time where an overwhelming majority of the world’s nations are ready to outlaw nuclear weapons, just as the world outlawed chemical and biological weapons and land mines.
There is no reason why we should not be providing leadership in the effort to ban nuclear weapons.
Australia must play our part. Malcolm Turnbull should commit to attending the 2017 negotiating conference. If Australia fails to participate, this will tarnish our international reputation as a disarmament supporter and, in doing so, fail to act to promote safety in our world.
AUSTRALIA MUST PLAY ITS PART IN ABOLISHING NUCLEAR WEAPONS , ANTHONY ALBANESE MP, SPEECH TO THE TOM UREN MEMORIAL FOUNDATION FOR THE INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS , 12 Feb 17
In 1961 John F Kennedy told the United Nations:
Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.
It is incredible to think that almost six decades on, this threat still exists. We must continue to dedicate ourselves to eliminating this threat. Every nation has a responsibility to work for a world free of nuclear weapons.
Australia is no exception.
That is why the work of ICAN in Australia and around the world, in helping to progress the disarmament agenda, is so important.
I come to this debate with the benefit of the testimony of a man who saw the horror of nuclear weapons first hand. Tom Uren was imprisoned in a POW camp on the island of Omuta on 9 August 1945. Just after 11am, the US detonated an atomic bomb over the city of Nagasaki about 80km away. Estimates of the death toll ranged between 40,000 and 80,000. That’s men, women and children. Nuclear weapons don’t discriminate.
Tim Wright, the Asia-Pacific director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said Australia was turning its back on the UN at a time when multilateral cooperation was more important than ever. He accused Australia of “taking orders from the Trump administration”.
“Every country in south-east Asia and nearly all countries in the Pacific have declared their strong support for the upcoming UN negotiations. Australia will be sitting in self-imposed exile from one of the biggest and most important international treaty-making initiatives in recent history.
“This will be the first time that Australia has ever boycotted disarmament negotiations.
Australia to boycott global summit on treaty to ban nuclear weapons https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/17/australia-to-boycott-global-summit-on-treaty-to-ban-nuclear-weapons
Anti-nuclear campaigners accuse Australia of turning its back on the UN and ‘taking orders from the Trump administration’, Ben Doherty, Australia will boycott global negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons at the United Nations next month.
The global summit, to be held in New York on 27 March, will go ahead with Australia out of the room. Continue reading
Melted Nuclear Fuel Search Proceeds One Dead Robot at a Time,Bloomberg, by Stephen Stapczynski and Emi Urabe February 17, 2017,
The Murky Future of Nuclear Power in the United States, FEB. 18, 2017 This was supposed to be America’s nuclear century.
Their letter prompted another, from Dr Allen Frances, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Duke University Medical College, who happens to be the expert psychiatrist who defined narcissistic personality disorder.
He rebuked the authors, arguing that to claim that Trump is mentally ill is an insult to those who truly are. But he also had this to say – Trump may be a “world-class narcissist”.
But the debate has taken off. Another psychologist weighed in last month, telling US News and World Report that Trump displays a malignant narcissism, characterised by grandiosity, sadism and anti-social behaviour.
Americans take an anxious journey to the centre of Donald Trump’s mind, The Age,Paul McGeough, 20 Feb 17 Washington: Flip references by reporters – mine included – to Donald Trump not taking his meds have been criticised as offensive to the mentally ill. But Trump’s unhinged behaviour, as in his erratic press conference on Thursday, ensures that the President’s mental state is the stuff of debate.
Rick Wilson, a Republican Party strategist and Trump critic, saw the Thursday press conference as a turning point – instead of a divide between left and right, the split he sees in America is between those who saw the spectacle as a “success” and those who are “terrified” for the future of the country.
“[His press conference] could have been evidence in a mental competency hearing,” he told The Washington Post. “It was really pretty disturbing and terrifying to watch this guy and think: ‘What happens when the stakes are higher?'”
On Saturday, The New York Times‘ conservative columnist David Brooks wrote in similar language about the press conference: “President Trump’s mental state is like a train that long ago left freewheeling and iconoclastic, has raced through indulgent, chaotic and unnerving, and is now careening past unhinged, unmoored and unglued.”
It’s not just the commentariat in the “fake press”, on which Trump has upped the ante, denouncing them as “the enemy of the American people”. Mental health professionals are weighing in. Continue reading
Tim Bickmore , Fight to stop Nuclear Waste Dump in South Australia There is also another elephant in the room which is yet to rate a mention. At Lucas heights there are 2 reactors – OPAL & HIFAR. OPAL is the working reactor, whilst HIFAR is the old one now undergoing de-commissioning – which includes dealing with more radioactive waste. Is the HIFAR waste (= old reactor parts) also destined for the dump? Considering the decommission schedule, this seems highly probable & where else would it go……
“HIFAR is currently being decommissioned and will be totally decommissioned by 2018.” HTTPS://WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/GROUPS/344452605899556/
Josh Frydenberg flags changes to allow CEFC to invest in carbon capture and storage, ABC News, AM By Eliza Borrello, 20 Feb 17, Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has revealed the Government is considering lifting a ban on allowing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to invest in carbon capture and storage……At the moment the CEFC, the Government’s green bank, is not allowed to invest in it.
But amid the Coalition’s renewed support for coal-fired power, Mr Frydenberg said that could change…..
Shadow Energy Minister Mark Butler said it would require the kind of legislation Labor would strongly oppose. “This would be an outrageous act of vandalism against a successful financing mechanism for renewable energy, for energy efficiency projects and for genuine low-carbon technology,” he said.”It’s no real surprise, I guess, because the Liberal Party has never really supported the CEFC. “It tried to abolish it for three years and now seems committed to making it a finance mechanism for the coal industry, which is unable to attract finance from the private sector.”
Government interested in low-emission coal-fired plants Mr Frydenberg said he was also interested in investment in high-efficiency, low-emission coal-fired plants.
Currently they are not green enough for the CEFC to invest in, but Mr Frydenberg has flagged changing the rules. “The Government could issue a new mandate to the CEFC which would then inform its guidelines and would make possible an investment in a high-efficiency low-emission power plant,” he said……
But Mr Butler said the market was not interested in the kind of plants Mr Frydenberg was suggesting.
“It doesn’t reflect the reality in the electricity industry. No-one in the industry is talking about the reality of building new coal-fired power stations,” he said. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-20/government-interested-in-carbon-capture-tech-frydenberg-says/8284682
Panhandle nuclear weapons assembly plant a hazardous workplace
Workers used to joke that they made soap at the facility
More than 1,300 workers and families have been awarded compensation since 2000
Meltdown of Toshiba’s Nuclear Business Dooms New Construction in the U.S. .MIT Technology Review-16 Feb. 2017 The collapse of the Tokyo company’s nuclear development arm puts a likely end to new U.S. plants. February 17, 2017 Toshiba’s dramatic exit from the business of building nuclear power plants lands another blow to a beleaguered sector, undermining new development and research on advanced reactor designs.
After acquiring a majority stake in Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric in 2006 for $5.4 billion, the Tokyo technology conglomerate had high hopes for rolling out a new generation of safer, smaller, cheaper power plants, as well as a series of streamlined full-scale reactors. Four of the latter are under construction in the United States, representing the only new reactors currently being built in the country. But the company was bedeviled by cost overruns, technical problems, conflicts with contractors, and regulatory challenges that set those projects back by years.
On Tuesday, Toshiba projected a $6.3 billion write-down for its nuclear unit and said it was looking to unload its stake. “It looked like a big deal at the time, but it’s turned into a mess,” says Michael Golay, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT. “And it’s likely to have a very chilling effect.”
Toshiba’s four massive nuclear plants now under construction in the southern United States are AP1000 pressurized-water reactors, which use a simplified design that was supposed to accelerate construction. But the Vogtle project in Georgia and the V.C. Summer project in South Carolina are both around three years behind schedule and, together, billions of dollars over budget.
The company said those projects will continue, but many energy experts believe Toshiba’s decision to cease building new reactors spells the end of any nuclear construction in the United States for the foreseeable future. Analysts doubt Toshiba will find a buyer for its Westinghouse stake, or any willing construction partners to move ahead with dozens of additional plants it had once planned.
Toshiba’s struggles reflect the slow demise of nuclear power in much of the world (see “Giant Holes in the Ground”). The industry has been plagued by the rising cost of construction, the low price of natural gas, the Fukushima disaster in 2011, and the stricter regulations and souring public perceptions that followed. Germany is scaling down its nuclear program, engineering powerhouses like GE and Siemens have pulled back from the market, and France recently engineered the takeover of the nuclear giant Areva to rescue it after a series of stumbles…..
Climate change could threaten entire financial system, APRA warns, ABC News, 17 Feb 17, By Stephen Long Climate change could threaten the stability of the entire financial system, the prudential regulator has warned, as it prepares to apply climate change “stress tests” to the nation’s financial institutions.
In its first major speech on climate change, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority chastised companies for a lack of action on the risks it poses.
“While climate risks have been broadly recognised, they have often been seen as a future problem or a non-financial problem,” APRA executive board member Geoff Summerhayes told an Insurance Council conference in Sydney.
“Many of these risks are foreseeable, material and actionable now.
The speech comes as the Government and the Opposition bicker about renewable energy targets amid dismay among industry leaders about a lack of certainty on climate change policy.
The Climate Institute’s CEO John Connor described the speech as a “huge” development.
“APRA has never gone out there like this before,” he said.
“It’s an antidote to the hyper partisan political culture war on climate policy; our regulator’s moved to the front foot in managing climate risks.”
The Climate Institute and the Investor Group on Climate Change wrote jointly to the Council of Financial Regulators two years calling for regulatory action on the financial risks from climate change.
Lack of policy ‘could greatly increase financial risks’
APRA warned in the speech that lack of policy and regulatory action could make the financial risks posed by climate change “greater and more abrupt”.
“There could be either sharper, more significant policy changes and market adjustments down the track, or the physical impacts of climate change could become more severe, more likely and more unpredictable,” Mr Summerhayes said.
“Like all risks, it is better they are explicitly considered and managed as appropriate, rather than simply ignored or neglected.
“So what can you expect to see from us? A greater emphasis on stress testing for organisational and systemic resilience in the face of adverse shocks.
“Just as we would expect to see more sophisticated scenario-based analysis of climate risks at the firm level, we look at these risks as part of our system-wide stress testing.”
APRA’s intervention follows a similar though more pointed warning two years ago by the head of the Bank of England about the threats climate change posed to financial stability…….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-17/climate-change-could-threaten-entire-financial-system-apra/8281436?pfmredir=sm
most of the Mineral Council’s biggest members are multinationals, listed on Australian and overseas stock exchanges. Could their membership fees or fighting fund donations be used for the MCA’s political campaigns if foreign donations were banned? Should their individual contributions be revealed?
Deep-pocketed miners don’t like it when those with different views wield clout, Guardian, Lenore Taylor @lenoretaylor 18 February 2017 In 2010 the mining industry’s $22m campaign against Kevin Rudd’s resources tax helped bring down a prime minister. For years it has spent huge sums on donations and advertising and lobbying to exert enormous political influence. But the deep-pocketed miners really don’t like it when those with different views find the cash and the smarts to wield some clout.