Australian news, and some related international items

Clean Energy Seed Fund raises $26m – a “vote of confidence” in sector 

REneweconomy, By Sophie Vorrath on 24 May 2017 The Clean Energy Seed Fund established just under a year ago as the first investment of the Coalition government’s re-badged Clean Energy Innovation Fund, has this week completed a $26 million capital raising, easily surpassing its $20 million target.

The fund’s manager, Artesian Venture Partners, said on Wednesday that the bumper capital raising included $10 million commitments from cornerstone investor the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and Australian Ethical Investment, and further investments from Hostplus and Future Super.

Launched in September 2016 with a $10 million cornerstone commitment from the $1 billion CEIF, the fund was set up to focus on clean energy sub-sectors including the internet of things, battery storage, biofuels and metering and control.

It aims to provide “pull-model” venture capital support to encourage greater investment and participation in the early-stage cleantech sector and co-investment from a wide range of investors, including high net worth individuals, angel investors, venture capital firms, corporates and institutions.

In the short-term, its goal is to invest at seed, angel and later stage follow-on rounds in 30-50 startups over a four-year investment period.

The fund also draws on the finance and skills of both the CEFC and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the latter of which was, at the time of the fund’s establishment, facing steep budget cuts.

CEFC investment development director, Blair Pritchard said the $26 million of funds raised would be enough to see more dedicated clean energy accelerators popping up around the country…..

May 26, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, energy | Leave a comment

Uluru summit hears calls for a treaty

Video ft. Fred Hooper, Dubbo delegate
“But seven delegates & about a dozen of their supporters from NSW & Vic  derailed the meeting on its second day by staging a walkout and stating ‘we won’t sell out our mob’.

“The dissenters claim their calls for a treaty are being  diminished in favour of constitutional recognition. …
“Dubbo delegate Fred Hooper believes indigenous Australians should follow  their Canadian and New Zealand counterparts in negotiating a treaty for compensation and land reparations. … ”

May 26, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

New York’s revolutionary moves towards renewable energy grid

How New York Is Building the Renewable Energy Grid of the Future, This is a story of ripping up old incentives that encouraged selling as much electricity as possible, then unleashing the entrepreneurs. BY LESLIE KAUFMAN, INSIDE CLIMATE NEWS MAY 25, 2017 New York State is making a $5 billion bet that by making its power cleaner, it can become a magnet for the clean energy jobs of the future.

Its efforts stand out among the many states racing to integrate more renewables into their power grids—such as Massachusetts, Hawaii and California—not necessarily for the technology but because of what’s happening behind the scenes: New York has launched a Herculean effort to turn around an antiquated system that has deterred innovation for generations by rewarding utilities for selling more electricity.

To get utilities to embrace a changing electricity system, the state is establishing ways for the companies to be reimbursed for some of the savings from energy efficiency programs that are reducing demand for their services. It also is allowing them to reap more return on their investments in equipment needed to bring more renewable energy into the grid. And it is investing in entrepreneurs who are inventing the technology to make it all work.

The state is so gung-ho that its rules require utilities to come up with demonstration projects that test out a new business model, in partnership with at least one private sector company.

The result, say the state’s regulators, is that New York is already attracting hundreds of innovative companies of all stripes. The plum opportunities are not only in installing wind turbines and solar panels, which are generating new employment opportunities across the country, they are also in emerging technologies related to smart grid management and storage. These jobs are largely invisible to the public and, in some cases, didn’t even exist a few years ago……..

Incubating Clean Energy Innovation

Three years ago, New York announced that it would spend $5.3 billion toward meeting its goal of having 50 percent of its electricity come from renewable sources by 2030. (The state only had 24 percent renewable generation in state this year.) Mandates related to these standards have resulted in significant additions of wind and solar to the grid—but that is just the most readily visible part of the changes New York is undergoing.

According to Richard Kauffman, the state’s chairman of energy and finance, it didn’t take long to figure out that “New York cannot cost effectively make this transition just by bolting wind and solar onto the grid of Westinghouse and Tesla,” referring to two of the original creators of the grid, George Westinghouse and Nicola Tesla. Instead, New York wants a new “hybrid grid” that integrates intermittent and distributed resources like wind or solar or microgrids………

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stunning new lows in solar and battery storage costs

New Arizona contract reveals record low price for large scale solar in US, and stunning reduction in cost of battery storage. The new combined solar and storage deal of below 4.5c/kWh cuts previous prices by more than 60% – far cheaper than a peaking gas plant.

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

May 25 Energy News



¶ “Australian solar financing at ‘tipping point'” • A host of factors point to a boom in a recently beleaguered sector. The past 12 months have seen a deluge of debt finance pour into large-scale solar projects, enticed by falling costs and a favorable political environment. Experts claim that solar power can now compete with gas on price. [Global Trade Review]


Science and Technology:

¶ The Neo-Carbon Energy research project enables production of synthetic fuels straight from the air. The solution is built on carbon dioxide capture, water electrolysis, and subsequent synthesis to methane and liquid fuels. It depends on very low cost renewable electricity based on wind and solar. The process is carbon neutral. [Science Daily]


¶ Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers has approved plans to build a hybrid renewable energy park including 240 MW of wind and 800 MW of solar…

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May 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Even as Evacuation Orders are Lifted, Recovery Remains Distant Prospect for Many Fukushima Residents

Fukushima 311 Watchdogs


Six years after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the government has lifted evacuation orders on four municipalities around the plant, allowing residents to return home for the first time since the meltdowns. The author, who has been involved in reconstruction planning since the evacuation orders were first given, calls for a multiple-track plan to meet the complicated needs of those who return and evacuees who continue to live elsewhere as evacuees.

The Beginning of the End, or the Prelude to New Heartache?

The Japanese government on March 31 and April 1 of this year lifted evacuation orders for areas around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station it issued in the wake of the nuclear accident at the plant more than six years ago. The decision finally allowed some 32,000 residents of the four radiation-affected municipalities of Iidate, Kawamata, Namie, and Tomioka to return to their homes…

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May 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ex-Officials of Fukushima NPP Operator to Face Trial for 2011 Disaster in June

Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

Three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, are to face trial next month for the March 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Former TEPCO chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and former vice presidents Ichiro Takekuro and Sakae Muto are accused of failing to take appropriate safety measures despite having been able to foresee that the plant would be inundated by tsunami waves.
They have been charged with professional negligence resulting in death or injury.
In 2013, public prosecutors decided not to press charges against the 3.
But they were indicted in February last year by court-appointed lawyers, after a prosecution inquest panel of randomly selected citizens voted to do so.
Preparations for the trial are underway at the Tokyo District Court.
The 3 former executives are expected to plead not guilty at their first hearing on June 30th.

Former executives of the TEPCO company, which…

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May 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2 more nuclear reactors in Japan clear regulator’s safety review

Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

oi npp.jpg
The No. 3 (right) and 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi Nuclear Power Plant are seen in November 2016.
TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Nuclear Regulation Authority formally confirmed Wednesday that two reactors on the Sea of Japan have met the country’s post-Fukushima safety standards, paving the way for their restart possibly this fall.
The authority gave its final approval to a screening report submitted by Kansai Electric Power Co. on the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at Oi plant in Fukui Prefecture, bringing the number of reactors that have met the standards introduced after the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant to 12 at six power stations.
For the restart, Kansai Electric still has to pass on-site pre-operational checks by the authority and obtain approval from the Fukui prefectural government.
The utility said in a statement it will “make utmost effort for…

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May 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

TEPCO to look inside Fukushima reactor 3

Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. will probe the inside of the containment vessel of the No. 3 reactor at its disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant this summer, company officials said Monday.
The aim of the move is to confirm the expected presence of melted nuclear fuel debris in the containment vessel.
TEPCO explained the plan at a Nuclear Regulation Authority meeting on the decommissioning process of the Fukushima plant, which suffered a triple meltdown due to damage from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.


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May 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian government about to secretly sign up to developing Generation IV nuclear reactors?

Should Australia invest funds and resources in developing Generation IV nuclear reactors? Online opinion, 

By Noel Wauchope, 23 May 2017 Without any fanfare, with no media coverage, Australia’s Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) is presently considering Australia signing up to the International Framework for Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems (GIF), which will commit this nation to take part in developing new nuclear reactors.Dr Adi Paterson, CEO of the Australia Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, signed up to this GIF Framework last year. However, that does require confirmation by the Australian government. Hence there was the need for the JSCOT Committee to at least take a look at it, before the government completes the membership. Apparently there is no need for public discussion, or probably even Parliamentary discussion.

This Committee very quietly invited submissions, and very few were in the know about this. Now the received submissions have been published – at

Anyway, it looks as if ANSTO is the driving force behind this process, and judging by the submissions received, the nuclear lobby was in the know, even if the public was not. Fourteen submissions were received. Of these, eleven were strongly pro- nuclear, and three were opposed. The opposing submissions came from Friends of the Earth (FOE), (jointly with the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF ), Medical Association For The Prevention of War (MAPW), and myself, (I came upon the Parliamentary website just by chance).

In assessing these submissions, of course, I have to admit to bias on my part. Still, I think that any reader would find that there is one submission that stands out for clarity, and a detailed, factual discussion of the GIF plan. That is the one written by Jim Green and Dave Sweeney, for FOE and ACF.

Green and Sweeney respond to assertions made in ANSTO’s National Interest Analysis. They question claims that the new reactors reduce weapons proliferation risks, are economic, efficient, and solve waste problems. They rebuke the claim of ANSTO that “a significant expansion in nuclear power production is underway “, listing the overall decline in nuclear power growth, with the exception of China. They discuss at length the very long time frame expected even by nuclear industry experts, before any Generation IV reactors could be commercially viable.

They go on to discuss each of the six proposed new nuclear reactors, giving a detailed history of the attempts to develop each, and factual information that refutes those claims made by ANSTO. For all of their statements, Green and Sweeney provide evidence and references.

The Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW)’s submission questions the government’s high subsidising of ANSTO, and points out the poor prospects for private investment in new nuclear power. It refutes the argument that Gen IV reactors would solve the nuclear waste problem, quoting analysis by the US National Academy of Sciences. They discuss the history of attempts to develop Gen IV nuclear reactors: ” a track record of repeated failure and massive cost”. They discuss the direct and indirect costs, and ANSTO’s secrecy about nuclear costs. Safety and reliability issues, and proliferation risks, are examined. They also point out that the recent Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission (NFCRC) was not supportive of new nuclear technology. The Commission proposed:

…monitoring and reporting” of new designs, not participation in research and active subsidization. The Royal Commission also places emphasis on economic value for nuclear power generation, which is clearly entirely absent from fast reactor operations.

My own submission also discusses non-proliferation, nuclear waste, and claims about climate change, but it focuses on the lack of public information and discussion. In view of Australia’s laws prohibiting the development of nuclear power in Australia, I find it disturbing that the government is about to put money and resources into developing new nuclear reactors.

Now – to the eleven pro nuclear submissions. In general these faithfully repeat the claims made by ANSTO, stressing the value of Australia participating in an international forum. (e.g: submission from Australian Nuclear Association)

Now – to the eleven pro nuclear submissions. In general these faithfully repeat the claims made by ANSTO, stressing the value of Australia participating in an international forum. (e.g: submission from Australian Nuclear Association)

  • Most submissions praise ANSTO and universities ANU and UNSW for their expertise.
  • Then there’s the claim that nuclear power will decarbonise the economy. (submission by The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE)). (and from Barrie Murphy)
  • Joining GIF will increase the visibility of Australia’s cutting-edge research (from Nuclear Engineering Research Group, School of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, UNSW Sydney)
  • Would increase Australia’s ability to influence international policy – will increase the international status of ANSTO and Australia’s universities. (from Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering)
None of these submissions discussed the proposed reactors or provided any evidence for those claims…….

Continue reading

May 24, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, secrets and lies, technology | Leave a comment

Legal action against Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility directors if they fund Adani coal mine?

Australian Conservation Foundation vows to pursue all avenues to stop Adani loan
Environmental group warns it will take legal action against Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility directors if funding granted for rail line, Guardian, Katharine Murphy, 24 May 17, 
Infrastructure Australia produces a priority list of nationally significant investments which is supposed to guide government investment decisions.

Infrastructure Australia’s chief executive, Philip Davies, said he had not yet discussed the Adani project with the Naif, even though the rail project has completed a preliminary assessment and been referred for further consideration.

 Adani is seeking a $900m concessional loan from the Naif for the rail line which links the mine with Abbot point. Infrastructure Australia and the Naif are required to consult on projects worth more than $100m.

Cousins said the evidence given in Senate estimates this week indicated the loan was nowhere near being granted. “Clearly all the rumours that this loan is about to be granted are untrue,” he said.

“I cannot see from this evidence that there is any way this loan can be granted.”

Cousins contends the directors of the Naif could be in breach of their fiduciary duties if they approve a loan to the project…….

May 24, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Final investment decision postponed by Adani, regarding Carmichael coal mine

Adani indefinitely postpones final investment decision on Carmichael coal mine, ABC News, 23 May 17  Senior Queensland Government members were in meetings on Monday night, discussing how to urgently convince Indian company Adani to proceed with a board meeting to fund the proposed Carmichael coal mine.

The mining giant has postponed its final investment decision on the $16.5-billion project in central Queensland until the State Government gives “clarity” over lower or deferred royalties.

A company spokesman said they were waiting for the State Government to advise on whether it would offer a lower royalty rate or deferred royalties.

The Adani board was to meet in India next week for final approval but has postponed the meeting.

The State Cabinet on Monday discussed whether to give Adani a royalty discount or deferral, but no decision has been made…….

The proposed royalty deal is understood to have caused division among Labor factions.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and Roads Minister Mark Bailey, from the Left faction, have publicly opposed any government subsidy of the mine and said that had been Labor’s position since before the 2015 state election.

However earlier on Monday, Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne said royalty arrangements were being considered by the Government…….

Greens, activists accuse Adani of bullying

Queensland Greens senator Larissa Waters said the mining company was trying to bully the State Government into handing over $320 million in free coal.

“So far, Adani is in line for a $1 billion handout, unlimited free water, new legal loopholes, special changes to Native Title, a free pass on reef destruction,” she said.

She called on the Queensland and Federal Governments to abandon their support for the project.

Activist group Get Up said if Adani could not afford the project without a royalty holiday, it was not financially viable.

May 24, 2017 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

‘Dirty Deeds’ – The shady web behind potential Adani coal mine finance STOP ADANI 24 MAY 2017
An Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) investigation has discovered the publically funded Export Finance Investment Corporation (Efic) could be used as a backdoor option to finance Adani’s Carmichael coal mine.

An Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) investigation has discovered the publically funded Export Finance Investment Corporation (Efic) could be used as a backdoor option to finance Adani’s Carmichael coal mine.

Efic could provide loan insurance to private investors for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, leaving Australians exposed to billions of dollars being lost to a useless stranded asset.

These findings are part of a new report from ACF exposing the web of ties between the fossil fuels industry, the government, the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) and Efic.

  • Five of the seven NAIF directors have close connections to the fossil fuel industry.
  • NAIF Board has lack of experience with industries such as communications and renewable energy which are critical to the development from Northern Australia.
  • NAIF’s chief adviser, Efic, has a track record of investing in large fossil fuel projects, backing fossil fuels over renewables at a rate of more than 100:1.
  • Efic could insure private investment in Adani coal mine – Turnbull government has refused to rule it out.

Download the investigation, and watch a video below showing the web of NAIF and Efic coal interests.

“That public money could be put on the line to protect private profit from the Adani coal mine that will help destroy the Reef and Australian tourism jobs is a truly gobsmacking and outrageous idea.” said Kelly O’Shanassy, Australian Conservation Foundation CEO.

“Both NAIF and Efic must be prevented from supporting a mine that will end up being a stranded asset, potentially wasting billions in public money. The Turnbull government must take responsibility and rule it out immediately.

“When the Adani mine fails, the Australian public will be the very last people to get their money back and probably won’t.

“Public investment in coal is a losing proposition for public money, the Reef and the 70,000 tourism jobs that rely on it.”

May 24, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Draft treaty released by UN panel on banning possession and use of nuclear weapons

Australia, citing the deterrent effect of the US nuclear umbrella, has been the most outspoken of the non-nuclear states  [i.e in opposing the treaty] .

During months of negotiations, Australia has lobbied other countries, pressing the case for what it describes as a “building blocks” approach of engaging with nuclear powers to reduce the global stockpile of 15,000 weapons.

UN panel releases draft treaty banning possession and use of nuclear weapons

States would have to destroy any nuclear weapons they have and would be forbidden from transferring them, Guardian, Ben Doherty , 23 May 17, A United Nations-backed panel has publicly released a draft treaty banning the possession and use of all nuclear weapons.

The draft treaty is the culmination of a sustained campaign, supported by more than 130 non-nuclear states frustrated with the sclerotic pace of disarmament, to prohibit nuclear weapons and persuade nuclear-armed states to disarm.

Nine countries are known or believed to possess nuclear weapons: the US, UK, Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel. None has supported the draft plan.

The draft treaty obliges state parties to “never under any circumstances … develop, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices … use nuclear weapons … [or] carry out any nuclear weapon test”.

States would also be obliged to destroy any nuclear weapons they possess and would be forbidden from transferring nuclear weapons to any other recipient.

Costa Rica’s ambassador to the UN, Elayne Whyte Gómez, who chaired the treaty drafting conference, said she expected revisions and there was “a good level of convergence among the delegations, especially on the core prohibitions”.

Disarmament advocates say the draft treaty, supported by dozens of countries, is now on track to be discussed at a second session in New York in mid-June that could end with the document’s adoption as a UN treaty in July. Continue reading

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian Renewable Energy Association funding next generation solar PV

ARENA opens $20m funding round for next generation solar PV
ARENA switches focus of solar PV support back to R&D, in bid to achieve more cost savings and ensure solar can provide nearly one third

Spark’s bright on energy changes
Spark Infrastructure believes changes to the grid to accommodate renewable energy and batteries are an opportunity.

May 24, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment