Renewable energy

Solar thermal briefing

State Parliament would this week be briefed on the benefits of replacing the coal-fired power stations in Port Augusta with solar thermal.

The meeting with driving organisation Beyond Zero Emissions, organised by member for Stuart Dan van Holst Pellekaan, is to take place tomorrow morning before parliament sits.

Mr van Holst Pellekaan said without the briefing the Liberal party does not have a position on the proposal.

“I can say that there will not be another coal-fired power station built in this country,” he said.

All members of parliament are invited to attend, as well as their staff.

See this week's Transcontinental for more.

Sydney trigen? Try again with renewables

Since the industrial revolution, when cities became dirty places, we have been removing pollution from their streets and neighbourhoods.

We’ve seen old central coal plants closed down and replacements built hundreds of kilometres away.

Stricter and stricter vehicle emissions standards have been enacted to reduce local pollution and improve the health, wellbeing and happiness of city dwellers.

So why would you choose to then bring a gas power plant back into the centre of the city, where it will release large quantities of health-damaging nitrogen oxide?

A subsidiary of Origin Energy and the City of Sydney have done a deal to start rolling out trigeneration (“trigen”) gas generators in the most heavily populated urban area of Australia.

Trigen is being touted as the new clean, decentralised system for generating power. You might hear about its fabulous efficiency, or the potential to burn renewable bio-gas in future, but when you remove the spin, it’s just re-packaged fossil gas.

But our concern is not just that it’s not renewable, or the nitrogen oxide gases, among other pollutants, that will damage respiratory health. As it turns out, trigen’s carbon emissions and energy efficiency aren’t that great either.

CEFC a distraction, not a solution: We need a comprehensive renewable energy policy

Renewable energy think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) has today released its response to the government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) legislation.

To download it click here.

BZE opposes the CEFC in its current form, as it will not secure any extra renewable energy over the already legislated target of 20% renewables by 2020.

Additionally, the government’s flawed definition of “renewable” and low-emissions technology means the CEFC may end up funding dirty, fossil-gas-burning projects.

BZE asks whether the policy is designed to obscure the difference between government-defined ‘clean energy’ and truly clean renewables.

BZE’s statement outlines what will really support renewable energy expansion, in particular a national Feed-in Tariff. This would support key renewable energy technologies such as baseload solar thermal power plants.

To download the statement click here.

For further comment, please contact Matthew Wright, Executive Director of Beyond Zero Emissions on 0421 616 733.

Top women talk about climate


BZE Radio bring you Ged Kearney President of the ACTU, Jenny McAllister National
President of the ALP and Lesley Hughes Climate Commissioner and head of Biological
Sciences at Macquarie University.

Jenny McAllister National President of the ALP will talk about Labor’s achievements so far, such as
the carbon tax and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. She asks whether we are prepared to fight to defend these and see them evolve over time or let them be dismantled? Jenny’s special interest is the Pacific region and our responsibility as neighbours.

Ged Kearney, formerly of the Australian Nurses Federation and now President of the ACTU will talk to us about how unions are preparing for a carbon constrained future.

Professor Lesley Hughes represents Australia at the United Nations on biodiversity. We will talk
to her about the findings of the Climate Commission. After a year of meeting community forums,
business and industry leaders and local and state governments how ready are we for action? Are
Australians hungry for information about what is happening on climate change here and overseas?
Do we have an appetite to reduce emissions? Are our trading partners moving to capitalise on clean energy opportunities?

Top women interview

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Australia's Renewable Energy Target Under Threat

A new study states electricity generation from renewable sources may fall well short of the Australian government’s mandatory target of 20% by 2020.
Results of a joint study by Standard & Poor's Ratings and clean energy/carbon analytics firm RepuTex are based on three gas and carbon price scenarios designed to show the impact on Australia's National Electricity Market (NEM) - and which sources are most likely to benefit from a shift away from coal.
The modelling suggests renewables-based generation could range from just 14% to 17%, depending on market pricing. 

Solar power would boost Port Augusta: BZE

Port Augusta's ageing brown coal power stations should be replaced with base-load solar thermal power to improve the town's health and create jobs, a think tank says.

Renewable energy researchers, Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), has released its Repowering Port Augusta report which it says presents compelling economic, health and environmental case for replacing the old power plants in the South Australian town.

BZE's Mark Ogge says that replacing the power stations with renewable energy would create 1800 jobs, improve the health of the local community, provide lower and more stable energy prices and save 100-200 million tonnes of CO2 emissions over the lifetime of the project.

Milne's ascension is good for electricity consumers

The rise of Senator Christine Milne to the leadership of the Australian Greens is good news for electricity consumers. Senator Milne has bravely challenged the big electricity companies over allegations that they are operating an energy oligopoly, driving our electricity prices up artificially to maximise profits.

Beyond Zero Emissions, a renewable energy think tank, has claimed that the relentless rise in the cost of electricity is partly due to 'price gaming' by the big polluters.

Solar power as foreign aid - Germany lights the way for the developing world

Germany now has over 30 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic panels on its rooftops. The sheer scale of deployment means that over 4 per cent of the nation's electricity will come from rooftop solar power this year.

This industrial-scale solar rollout, created by Germany's innovative policy support structure, has enabled a significant global research and development environment to thrive, not to mention a massive upscaling and subsequent cost reduction in technology. Not only has Germany gained real emissions reductions from rooftop solar, meaning the country is seriously eating into its carbon liabilities, it has installed enough solar on roofs that doing the same in Australia would be the equivalent of retiring the output of four large coal fired power plants – more than 15 per cent of Australia's total electricity generation.

Campaigning for wind and against coal


Ben Courtice Campaign Manager for Friends of the Earth Melbourne will tell us about how to put in a submission to the NSW government before March 14th. Don’t let the rich anti –wind lobby put in all the submissions. Fight for a renewable future.

John Kaye NSW Greens MP will talk about his private members bill and its relevance to wind farming in NSW. Sounds dry? Let John win you over with his enthusiasm for a clean energy future.

Neil Erenstrom works in the Solar industry but sees the need to stop investing in new coal mines and coal fired power stations. QUIT COAL is campaigning at Bacchus Marsh and Anglesea. Neil tells us about the tide of community support and what listeners can do to get on board. He’ll report on the launch of 100% Renewables BIG SOLAR campaign and his experience in that industry.

Listen here and then write a submission!

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Not dead yet: Flagship ‘collapse’ only part of Australia’s solar story

The “collapse” of the Solar Flagship Program has recently hit the news. With Minister Ferguson re-opening the bidding for the photovoltaic (PV) component of the program, and extending the deadline for the solar thermal, it is worth exploring some of the issues surrounding the collapse, and the current environment. Much has changed since the inception of the program, particularly the cost of PV.

It’s hard to get your hands on a Power Purchase Agreement

The failure of the projects to secure financing illustrates a key difficulty facing renewable energy project developers, namely obtaining Power Purchase Agreements (PPA). PPAs are contracts with an “off-taker”, generally a retailer, to purchase the electricity generated for a period of time at a certain price. They provide a degree of investor certainty to ensure the project’s “bankability”.

Without a PPA in place it is proving impossible for large-scale solar developers to secure financing from lending institutions.

For renewables, the cause of this difficulty is two-fold. There is a soft market for renewable energy certificates, and retailers are reluctant to enter into PPAs with third parties.

Under the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET), retailers are obliged to purchase what are now known as Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) produced by a renewable source. In a previous certificate scheme, a combination of factors resulted in solar PV creating an excess of certificates (ultimately collapsing the scheme). Retailers “banked” these excess certificates, and subsequently there has been little need for retailers to enter into new agreements with renewable energy generators.

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