Saturday, March 11, 2017

Keppel Prince expands wind tower production with 50 new jobs at Portland



The focus on boosting renewables in Victoria through the VRET by the Andrews Labor Government is already boosting regional jobs in Portland at the Keppel Prince Engineering wind tower fabrication plant.

The Andrews Labor Government is assisting Portland engineering and manufacturing firm Keppel Prince Engineering with a $1.97 million expansion of the company's wind tower fabrication facility. This will create 50 new jobs to add to the 80 local wind tower manufacturing jobs.

Keppel Prince is Australia’s largest, and Victoria’s only, wind tower manufacturer. The wind tower division currently manufactures 110 wind towers per year, supplying them for wind farm projects across the country.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Victoria pioneering climate just transition package for Hazelwood coal workers



A special $20 million worker transfer package was announced today for workers affected by the closure of Engie's Hazelwood Power Station. This will allow early retirement for workers at other LaTrobe Power stations creating places for Hazelwood workers that want to continue their careers in power generation.

This transfer package is an important component of a suite of support mechanisms being put into place for the community, a part of a just transition being pioneered by the Victorian government driven by the necessity to move to zero carbon emissions by climate change.

“We will always stand up for the Latrobe Valley and with the worker transfer scheme for Hazelwood workers, we are doing just that. This is great news for jobs and for Hazelwood workers and their families.” said the Premier Daniel Andrews.

This particular scheme will cost $20 million to assist around 150 retrenched Hazelwood workers to remain in the power industry. In the first instance, employment transfer to AGL Energy’s Loy Yang A will be facilitated, but later transfers to Engie's Loy Yang B may be available.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Community campaign wins permanent #fracking ban in Victoria


Article first published at nofibs.com.au

To ensure it's clean green reputation of it's agricultural sector, and to guarantee the health of rural farming communities Victoria became the first Australian state officially banning fracking. It was motivated by a strong community lead campaign for a ban on gas exploration from 2011.

Legislation was passed in the Victorian Legislative Council, the upper house of the Victorian parliament, for a permanent legislative ban on fracking. Victoria’s agriculture sector employs more than 190,000 people and relies on it's clean and green reputation.

The legislation was passed without amendment. The Coalition parties and Shooters and Farmers Party sought to amend the legislation regarding the onshore conventional gas exploration moratorium, but were defeated 20 votes to 18. Sex Party MLC Fiona Pattern and Western Region independent MLC James Purcell gave crucial support, along with the Greens, for passage of the bill.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Solar Feed-in minimum tariff to double for Victorian Solar citizens



The minimum Feed-in tariff for solar PV owners in Victoria will more than double due to changes the Dan Andrews Labor Government has made to the regulation of pricing for solar PV owners.

Current minimum feed-in rate is 5 cents per kilowatt hour. Victoria’s independent regulator, the Essential Services Commission (ESC), has determined the new feed-in rate will be 11.3 cents per kilowatt hour and will apply from 1st July.

About 130,000 solar citizens will reap the benefit of this increased Feed-in tarriff.

“With this new feed-in tariff, the Andrews Labor Government is ensuring that households with solar panels are more fairly compensated for the power they send back into the grid.” said Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Community Energy Congress 2017 in Melbourne



Great energy and vibrancy at the Community Energy Congress in Melbourne.

Community Energy Congress is in Melbourne talking about the community role in transition to renewable energy. Check out the program.


Keep up with the twitter gossip and commentary from the Community Energy Congress in Melbourne Day 1, Monday 27 February 2017 below:

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Great Barrier Reef facing back to back coral bleaching from elevated sea surface temperatures



Record sea surface temperatures in the coral sea are again threatening massive coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef for the second year in a row. If sea surface temperatures don't cool in the next few weeks, this will be the first time there has been back to back bleaching on this scale.

“In the last week, divers and scientists have reported bleached corals on popular tourist reefs around Cairns and on reefs near Townsville.” said Imogen Zethoven Australian Marine Conservation Society Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director.

Vast swathes of the Great Barrier Reef have also been placed on red alert (Alert Level 1) for the next four weeks, as an indicator that coral bleaching is likely. Parts of the Far Northern, Northern and Central Reef are on the even higher Alert Level 2, indicating mortality is likely.

Corals south of Cairns, in the Whitsundays and in parts of the Far Northern Reef, that were badly hit last year, are at mortal risk.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Public Opinion Polls: Australians want climate action, renewables expansion



Two sets of opinion surveys highlighted how far ahead the Australian population is on climate and energy policy than the Federal Government and Liberal and National party policy.

The opinion polling by Essential Vision provides a national snapshot in areas such as belief in climate change, Labor's 50 per cent by 2030 renewables target, cause of the recent electricity blackouts in South Australia, whether renewables are a solution for our future energy needs, whether the Federal Government is doing enough on clean energy, and attitude to building more coal fired power stations.

The Victorian survey was larger and more nuanced by a private survey consultancy done for Sustainability Victoria. It showed much greater degree of support for climate action, renewables, the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET), and the Victorian zero emissions by 2050 target. There was a high self-efficacy that everyone: individuals, businesses, environment groups, and the 3 levels of government, need to be taking considerable climate action, and that this should preferably be lead by the Federal Government.

It is notable that just last week the Coalition parties in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia all decided to abolish any state imposed renewable energy targets. This action would seems to be at odds with national opinion, but especially so in Victoria where there is much greater awareness and sense of urgency in tackling climate change. Opposition to the VRET appears to be a major backflip for Shadow minister for Renewables David Southwick.

The results should bolster the Federal Labor leadership under Bill Shorten to stick with their 50 per cent renewable energy target and ambitious climate policy that includes introduction of an Energy Intensity Scheme for the electricity generation industry.

For Turnbull, the results show his governments attacks on renewables and talking up 'clean coal' are not cutting through. In fact arguing against public opinion is probably making things worse in lowering public esteem for the Liberal Party.

The Victorian survey was released on the same day the Victorian Climate Change Act passed the Legislative Council (Upper house) and augers well for introduction of a Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) through legislation later in the year.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Open Letter to David Southwick, Victorian Shadow Minister for Renewables



Dear David Southwick
State MP for Caulfield, Parliament of Victoria.
Shadow Minister for Innovation, Energy and Resources, and Renewables.

In February 2016 you said that Liberals really do care and that you will work to get the best outcome on energy and renewables. "Renewables are absolutely crucial to the future of Victoria and Australia." you said. Fast forward by a year and you are playing vicious partisan politics with Victorian climate and energy policy.

On Friday Victoria's Minister for Energy Lily D'Ambrosio announced a public tender for building a 20MW battery as part of the Victorian electricity grid. The grid-scale battery will be constructed either in north-west or south-west Victoria, at a location where the energy market operator has identified it could improve grid reliability.

This is something to be applauded.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Thermal, wind and demand forecasting failed in South Australian Heatwave: AEMO

AEMO have released their preliminary report into the loadshedding and blackout of 90,000 south Australian residents and businesses during the extreme heatwave on 8 February.

In their summary of the event AEMO outline three main causes for the failure to match generation to demand. They specify that supply was rapidly changing in the period prior to the peak at 18:00, but the problem came down to:

  • Demand was higher than forecast
  • Wind generation was lower than forecast, and
  • Thermal generation capacity was reduced due to forced outages

When you analyse the report it becomes clear there was available capacity (Pelican Point 2) that could have been brought on line to meet the demand, but the market based processes of AEMO failed.

It is important to emphasise here that Adelaide and most of South Australia on Wednesday 8 February was experiencing extreme temperatures in the middle of an exceptional heatwave. Climate scientists have been predicting that heatwaves would get more intense. This sort of extreme heat event is in line with their predictions.

Adding to the extent of the issue, AEMO ordered at the evening peak at 18:03 100MW of load shedding to balance supply versus demand, but it appears SA Power Network shed 300MW, much more than was required.

I reported initially on this event the day after, on February 9: AEMO orders South Australian #heatwave blackout while Gas turbine remains idle.

Victorian Liberals declare war on renewable targets, jobs, investment



The Liberal party in three states - Victoria, South Australia and Queensland - vowed to drop state based renewable energy targets if elected. This follows Federal Liberal Party war on renewables and climate policy conducted since Abbott took power in 2013, continued under Prime Minister Turnbull.

While climate action at the Federal level has followed a rollercoast ride in the past two decades, states are increasingly taking more action to protect their citizens.

In the latest round of attacks at the Federal level, Manchester University climate change PhD student Marc Hudson argues that what we are seeing is not actually a policy battle, but a politics battle, and one that has been going on since at least 2000.

With reduction of the federal Renewable Energy Target and no plan as yet to extend it, the Labor states of South Australia, Victoria and Queensland, and the ACT, have all set in motion state renewable energy targets.