Archive for the ‘Victoria’ Category

Victorian Parliament: Legislative Council Committee finds that nuclear ban should stay

November 27, 2020

convinced that thorium exploration and mining is economically or technologically viable.

Parliament of Victoria
Inquiry into nuclear prohibition
Legislative Council Environment and Planning Committee
November 2020

Findings
FINDING 1: Regardless of technology development, priority should be given to the security, stability and accessibility of energy supply and the need to lower carbon emissions due to climate change and to ensure affordable energy.

FINDING 2: Current estimates of the cost of nuclear energy in Australia are unreliable and accurately costing the full cost is not possible without a detailed business case being undertaken.

FINDING 3: Notwithstanding the ambiguities of the costings, the Committee received substantial evidence that nuclear power is significantly more expensive than other forms of power generation and it is recognised that, currently, nuclear is at the high end of the cost range across all technologies.

FINDING 4: A business case is unlikely to be undertaken, given its costs and resources required, while a prohibition of nuclear energy activities remains and there is not likelihood of a plant being able to be built.

FINDING 5: Without subsidisation a nuclear power industry will remain economically unviable in Australia for now.

FINDING 6: Discussion about Victorian participation in the nuclear fuel cycle is entirely theoretical while the Commonwealth prohibitions remain in place.

FINDING 7: Until there is a change in the Commonwealth position, detailed discussions about emerging technologies in Victoria related to the nuclear fuel cycle and power generation are unlikely to advance.

FINDING 8: The success of any radioactive waste strategy relies on a level of acceptance and confidence across government, industry and the broader community of its legitimacy, effectiveness and integrity in its ability to deal with all facets of waste management, storage and disposal, including the long-term health and safety of workers, affected communities, particularly First Nations Peoples, and the environment.

FINDING 9: Those who propose a policy shift have not presented any argument, data or proof in support of their position that cannot be nullified by those arguing against. Any advantages are speculative in nature, and do not outweigh the identified and proven risks.

FINDING 10: The nuclear medicine industry is not hindered significantly by the current prohibitions against uranium or thorium exploration and mining. Current legislative prohibitions only prohibit mining and the construction or operation of certain nuclear facilities, such as nuclear reactors. This does exclude Victoria from hosting a nuclear research reactor or other nuclear facilities which could be used to increase supply of radioisotopes for medical or industrial purposes. The Committee notes that if Victoria did seek to establish a research reactor, Victorian and Commonwealth prohibitions would need to be repealed to allow this to happen. Therefore, a repeal of just Victorian legislation would not be sufficient to expand
our involvement in nuclear medicine beyond what is currently permissible.

FINDING 11: The current market for this material is receiving enough supply from international import and the OPAL reactor at Lucas Heights. The Committee does not believe that fully repealing the Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act 1983 would have a material influence on the nuclear medicine sector, as it is unlikely Victoria’s involvement would increase beyond its current capacity.

FINDING 12: The Committee is not convinced that thorium exploration and mining is economically or technologically viable.

Contents……..  https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/epc-lc/article/4350

Australia: the goal of the nuclear lobby is to remove Victoria’s Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act

February 28, 2020

Nuclear lobby takes aim at Victoria to tackle prohibitions, Michael West Media, by Noel Wauchope | Feb 26, 2020 Having dithered on real action to tackle global warming, some in the Coalition are now taking a keen interest in solving it — by going nuclear. Noel Wauchope investigates what’s behind the sudden push to overturn legislation prohibiting the exploration and mining of thorium and uranium and puts a definitive case against a nuclear industry in Australia.

A batch of Coalition MP’s are pushing nuclear power as Australia’s answer to climate change. The group includes Katie Allen inner-city Melbourne Liberal, Ted O’Brien, Queensland LNP, Trent Zimmerman, North Sydney Liberal, Bridget Archer Tasmanian Liberal, David Gillespie Nationals NSW, Rick Wilson West Australian Liberal, and Keith Pitt, LNP from North Queensland, who was this week promoted to cabinet as Resources Minister. Former deputy prime minister and Nationals leader, Barnaby Joyce, is also a staunch proponent of nuclear power.

Arguing that nuclear power is the answer to bushfires and a heating climate when these are conversely nuclear’s greatest threat is akin to an argument by the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. The US National Academies Press compiled a lengthy and comprehensive report on risks of transporting nuclear wastes. They concluded that among various risks, the most serious and significant is fire. And indeed, climate change, in general, carries serious threats to nuclear reactors and the entire nuclear fuel chain.

But any port in a storm when you’re trying to sell a product that is expensive, unpopular, illegal in Australia and has the problem of long-lasting toxic wastes.

The Australian public’s renewed enthusiasm for action on climate change was timely. The nuclear lobby had, coincidentally already geared itself up for a campaign to overturn Australia’s State and Federal nuclear prohibition laws. The current Victorian inquiry is the latest in a spate of Parliamentary Inquiries aimed at removing these laws. Submissions are due by this Friday, 28 February.

The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference (TOR) are narrow:……..

It is clear the goal is to remove Victoria’s Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act 1983. The very first TOR makes the mining of uranium and thorium as the prime concern. Given Victoria could run a nuclear power station with uranium/thorium sourced from elsewhere, it is clear that, after years of pressure by thorium lobbyists, the underlying goal of this inquiry is to overturn the legislation prohibiting the exploration and mining of thorium and uranium in Victoria.

The Victorian legislation was brought in to protect this State’s precious agricultural land and iconic ocean coast from polluting mining industries. South Gippsland is particularly rich in thorium.

Nuclear lobby tries to water down Victorian prohibition

The Terms of Reference are overtly biased: with no qualification, they promote the nuclear industry as undoubtedly beneficial to Victoria. This is ludicrous, as the global nuclear industry is in a state of decline.

Meanwhile, the renewable energy technologies of wind, solar and storage are now recognised by CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator as, by far, the cheapest form of low carbon options for Australia, and are likely to dominate the global energy mix in coming  decades

This first Term of Reference assumes that the “exploration and production” will result in nuclear power plants for Victoria, otherwise why do it?  It also assumes that nuclear power will be effective in lowering C02 emissions.

However, there is no point in this “exploration and production” as it has been repeatedly demonstrated that nuclear power is no solution to climate change as in Dr. Paul Dorfman et al’s response to James Hansen on 20 December 2019 in the Financial Times.…….

The Terms of Reference are overtly biased: with no qualification, they promote the nuclear industry as undoubtedly beneficial to Victoria. This is ludicrous, as the global nuclear industry is in a state of decline.

Meanwhile, the renewable energy technologies of wind, solar and storage are now recognised by CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator as, by far, the cheapest form of low carbon options for Australia, and are likely to dominate the global energy mix in coming  decades

This first Term of Reference assumes that the “exploration and production” will result in nuclear power plants for Victoria, otherwise why do it?  It also assumes that nuclear power will be effective in lowering C02 emissions.

However, there is no point in this “exploration and production” as it has been repeatedly demonstrated that nuclear power is no solution to climate change as in Dr. Paul Dorfman et al’s response to James Hansen on 20 December 2019 in the Financial Times..

Nuclear power, climate change and water use

Nuclear power is vulnerable to climate change. Increasing temperatures can result in reduced nuclear reactor efficiency by directly impacting nuclear equipment. It is uniquely vulnerable to increasing temperatures because of its reliance on cooling water to ensure operational safety within the core and spent fuel storage. As the most water-intensive energy generation technology, nuclear reactors are located near a river or the ocean to accommodate hefty water usage, which averages between 1,101 gallons per megawatt of electricity produced to 44,350 gal/MWh depending on the cooling technology.

Inland reactors that use rivers as a source for cooling water are the most at risk during heat waves, which according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are “very likely” to occur more often and last longer in the coming decades.

In view of Australia’s growing bushfire threats, the introduction of nuclear power technology of any type is questionable. The safety of the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor was cause for concern when bushfires occurred in its vicinity. The transport of nuclear wastes would also be threatened by bushfires .

Whilst the operation of nuclear reactors themselves release few greenhouse emissions, nuclear power plants require huge amounts of water to prevent fission products in the core and spent nuclear fuel from overheating. Nuclear is the most water intensive energy source in terms of consumption and withdrawal per unit of energy delivered. Unlike thermal power plants, solar and wind power can help alleviate water stress.

How would nuclear benefit Victoria?

The Terms if Reference ask for the “economic, environmental, and social benefits to Victoria.” Victoria is moving towards a renewable energy revolution, with a significant uptake of renewable technology by the State Government. Victoria has set a renewable energy target of 50% by 2030 and Melbourne’s iconic tram network is to be powered by solar energy.

The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) revealed that thorium-based nuclear energy plants – once vaunted as a clean alternative type of nuclear energy – is not an environmentally safe alternative. Thorium leads to highly radioactive nuclear waste. Consequently, the risk of accidents will always be present the report said.

Uranium mining has widespread effects, contaminating the environment with radioactive dust, radon gas, water-borne toxins, and increased levels of background radiation.

As to the “social benefits”, the introduction of any part of the nuclear fuel chain into Victoria would particularly impact rural Victorians. The effect on tourism and farming industries has not yet been adequatley analysed, whereas solar and wind technologies can be developed alongside agriculture and tourism.

Economist John Quiggin told Michael West Media last week that he’d support the removal of Australia’s ban in exchange for the establishment of a carbon price. Quiggin believes that this would put the nuclear proponents on the spot and open up the subject of the poor economics of the nuclear industry. You can read Quiggin’s submission here.

This Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry may not succeed in promoting the thorium or the pro nuclear cause. However, it is part of what looks to be a co-ordinated national attack on nuclear prohibition laws. The mainstream media, particularly the Murdoch press, seems to toe the nuclear industry line that the way to fix global warming is to go nuclear.

This Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry may not succeed in promoting the thorium or the pro nuclear cause. However, it is part of what looks to be a co-ordinated national attack on nuclear prohibition laws. The mainstream media, particularly the Murdoch press, seems to toe the nuclear industry line that the way to fix global warming is to go nuclear.

Nuclear power is not supported by either Labor or the Greens.

https://www.michaelwest.com.au/nuclear-lobby-takes-aim-at-victoria-to-tackle-prohibitions/

Philip White shows folly of nuclear activities for Victoria: Submission No.112

February 12, 2020

Submission 112 Philip White to Victorian govt INQUIRY INTO NUCLEAR PROHIBITION

A very brief summary of conclusions that can be drawn from the attached submission with respect

to each of your  inquiry’s terms of reference are as follows:

(1)investigate the potential for Victoria to contribute to global low carbon  dioxide energy production through enabling exploration and production of uranium and thorium The notion that nuclear energy is low carbon is superficial. A deeper analysis shows that nuclear energy is an obstacle to realisation of a low carbon economy (refer “c. environmental

impacts” in the attached submission).  Hence the idea that uranium and thorium exploration and production could make a useful contribution to global low  carbon

dioxide energy production is mistaken.  

(2) identify economic, environmental and social benefits for Victoria, including those related to medicine, scientific research, exploration and mining.

Nuclear energy related facilities tend to create host communities which are economically dependent

on these  facilities and which are therefore under huge pressure to overlook the safety and environmental risks associated  with these facilities (refer “b. health and safety” in the attached submission). The safest approach is not to build  these facilities in the first place.  (I assume the phrase “including those related to medicine, scientific research, exploration and mining” is not meant to exclude nuclear power plants and other aspects of the  nuclear fuel cycle.)  It is doubtful whether exploration and mining could generate significant 

economic benefits given that the long‐term  prospects for nuclear energy are so uncertain. Refer

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2019:  https://www.worldnuclearreport.org/WNISR2019Assesses‐Climate‐Changeand‐the‐Nuclear‐Power‐Option.html  

(3) identify opportunities for Victoria to participate in the nuclear fuel cycle The attached submission provides many reasons why it would be unwise for

Victoria to participate in the nuclear  fuel cycle.

(4) identify any barriers to participation, including limitations caused by federal or local laws

 and regulations. 

There are many legitimate barriers to nuclear fuel cycle activities, including safety, environmental protection, non‐ proliferation concerns and lack of public acceptance, but ultimately the barrier that is most likely to

stick is that  nuclear energy is not economically viable (refer “d. energy affordability and reliability and  economic feasibility” in  the attached submission- below).

Submission to the Inquiry into the Prerequisites for Nuclear Energy in Australia …….

For reasons outlined below, nuclear energy is not and will not in the foreseeable future be a desirable option to supply Australia’s energy needs. The specific terms of reference are addressed below, with particular attention to issues and perspectives that proponents of nuclear energy are inclined to neglect or downplay:

a. waste management, transport and storage ………

b. health and safety ……

c. environmental impacts …….

d. energy affordability and reliability, and e. economic feasibility …….

f. community engagement and i. national consensus ……..

g. workforce capability …….

h. security implications ……

j. any other relevant matter

Based on the above analysis, it would be unwise for Australia to embark on a nuclear energy program and it is very sensible to declare this in the clearest possible terms. In this regard, I am encouraged to see in the Terms of Reference for this inquiry the statement that “Australia’s bipartisan moratorium on nuclear energy will remain in place.” https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/epc-lc/article/4348

    

Submission to INQUIRY INTO NUCLEAR PROHIBITION – mainly about thorium mining

February 8, 2020

Submission to INQUIRY INTO NUCLEAR PROHIBITION

Introduction

I read the very narrow Terms of Reference (TOR) with some amazement. It is certainly made clear that the goal is to remove Victoria’s  Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act 1983 (1)

The very first TOR makes the mining of uranium and thorium as the prime concern. After all, Victoria could presumably have nuclear power with these minerals sourced from elsewhere.  I conclude that the underlying goal of this Inquiry is, under the relentless pressure of thorium lobbyists such as John White, indeed to remove that legislation, which effectively prohibits the exploration and mining of thorium and uranium in Victoria. John White has a long history of promotion of the nuclear  industry (2), and has the massive 3,700 sq km mining exploration lease EL4416   [picture attached] right across  Southern Gippsland’s prime coastal and tourism region, and runs the entire length of the spectacular 90 Mile Beach.(3)

Clearly, the Victorian legislation was brought in to protect this State’s precious agricultural land, and iconic ocean coast from polluting mining industries.[picture attached]

The Terms of Reference are clearly biased: with no qualification they promote the nuclear industry as undoubtedly beneficial to Victoria. This is ludicrous, as the global nuclear industry is in a state of decline (4)

Meanwhile, renewable energy technologies, wind, solar and storage are now recognised by CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator as by far the cheapest form of low carbon options for Australia, and are likely to dominate the global energy mix in coming  decades. (5)

http://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/domino/Web_Notes/LDMS/LTObject_Store/LTObjSt7.nsf/DDE300B846EED9C7CA257616000A3571/7EBF53B3FDB4DA34CA257A89007A7B0A/$FILE/83-9923aa026%20authorised.pdf

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium_Council
  2. https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/ia-investigation-victoria-goes-dirty-brown,3788
  3. https://www.fool.ca/2020/01/31/the-death-knell-for-nuclear-and-the-end-of-cameco-tsxcco/
  4. https://reneweconomy.com.au/new-csiro-aemo-study-confirms-wind-solar-and-storage-beat-coal-gas-and-nuclear-57530/

 

on potential benefits to Victoria in removing prohibitions enacted by the Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act 1983

 Now, turning to each TOR

(1) investigate the potential for Victoria to contribute to global low carbon dioxide energy production enabling exploration and production of uranium and thorium;   through enabling exploration and production of uranium and thorium.

Nuclear power is no solution to climate change. This Term of Reference assumes that the “exploration and production” will result in nuclear power plants for Victoria, otherwise why do it?  It also assumes that nuclear power will be effective in lowering C02 emissions.

But there is no point in this “exploration and production” as it has been repeatedly demonstrated that nuclear power is no solution to climate change.

Even if nuclear power really could combat climate change, it would take decades to get enough reactors in operation. It would be too late, whereas renewable energy, solar and wind, and also energy effiiciency strategies, can be set up quickly. This means that to establish nuclear power would be counter-productive, as time, energy, and money would be diverted away from those genuine solutions.   Dr Paul Dorfman, et al (6)

Nuclear power is vulnerable to climate change. Increasing temperatures can result in reduced nuclear reactor efficiency by directly impacting nuclear equipment or warming the plant’s source of cooling water. (7)  Nuclear power is uniquely vulnerable to increasing temperatures because of its reliance on cooling water to ensure operational safety within the core and spent fuel storage.   As the most water-intensive energy generation technology, (8) nuclear reactors are located near a river or the ocean to accommodate hefty water usage, which averages between 1,101 gallons per megawatt of electricity produced to 44,350 gal/MWh depending on the cooling technology.

Inland reactors that use rivers as a source for cooling water are the most at risk during heat waves, which according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are “very likely” to occur more often and last longer in the coming decades. (9)

Especially Australian climate impacts on nuclear technology. In view of Australia’s bushfire crisis, it just seems ludicrous that anyone would contemplate introducing nuclear power technology of any type to this country. The Lucas Heights research nuclear reactor is already enough of a worry. Bushfires have occurred in its vicinity.(10) The transport of nuclear wastes would be threatened by bushfires (11)

Nuclear power would place an intolerable burden on Australia’s precious, but limited water supply. Nuclear power plants require huge amounts of water to prevent fission products in the core and spent nuclear fuel from overheating (incidentally making nuclear the most water intensive energy source in terms of consumption and withdrawal per unit of energy delivered).
Uranium mining and nuclear facilities are highly water intensive, while solar and  wind power can alleviate water stress. (12)

Why thorium exploration and production?  Thorium nuclear reactors do not exist yet, and quite possibly never will. Thorium itself is not a fissile material. It can only be transformed into fissile uranium-233 using breeder and reprocessing technology. Its development entails a complex processes, bringing risks of weapons proliferation and smaller but highly toxic, amounts of long-lasting radioactive wastes.  After reaction, the thorium blend leaves dangerous wastes like U-232, a potent high-energy gamma emitter that can penetrate one meter of concrete and will have to be kept safely out of our air, food, and water forever. (13)

In January, the Climate Council ‒ comprising Australia’s leading climate scientists and other policy experts ‒ issued a policy statement, noting that nuclear power plants “are not appropriate for Australia – and probably never will be” as they are “a more expensive source of power than renewable energy, and present significant challenges in terms of the storage and transport of nuclear waste, and use of water”.(14)

  1. https://medium.com/@albertbates/john-wayne-squares-off-against-jim-hansen-42a258b2260d
  2. The Effect of Rising Ambient Temperature on Nuclear Power Plants  http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2018/ph241/duboc1/
  3. https://theatlas.com/charts/H1scYH_H7
  4.  Future Climate Changes, Risks and Impacts  https://ar5-syr.ipcc.ch/topic_futurechanges.php
  5. https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/residents-warned-not-to-leave-sydney-fire-worsens-20180415-p4z9os.html
  6. https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/transporting-nuclear-wastes-across-australia-in-the-age-of-bushfires,13465
  7. https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/energy-commodities/solar-wind-power-can-alleviate-water-stress
  8. Thorium ‒ a better fuel for nuclear technology? Nuclear Monitor,   by Dr. Rainer Moormann
  9. https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/godfather-of-australian-science-warns-government/

 

(2) identify economic, environmental and social benefits for Victoria, including those related to medicine, scientific research, exploration and mining;  

Economic benefits?  Victoria is right now on the cusp of a renewable energy revolution, with all sorts of exciting developments, for example, Melbourne’s iconic tram network to be powered by solar energy. (15) Victoria has a renewable energy target of 50% by 2030. (16) Why imperil that progressive transition to clean energy, by the distraction of the expensive and dirty industry, with its connection to nuclear weapons development?

In 2017–18, the state’s temperate climate, high quality soil and clean water helped the industry produce $14.9 billion worth of agricultural product from 11 million hectares. This makes Victoria Australia’s largest agriculture producer.(17). In Gippsland, John White’s Ignite Energy Resources holds a huge mining license, in an area with exceptional  resources of monazite, a source of thorium.(18)  the same area that is renowned for both its tourist attractions and its agriculture.  Gippsland farms account for at least one quarter of Victoria’s milk, vegetable and beef production with a number of Gippsland’s businesses exporting food across the world (19)

Why would anyone in their right mind imperil Victoria’s successful and continuing agricultural and tourism industries for a gamble on a fantasy about thorium nuclear reactors? Those reactors are currently nonexistent, and likely to remain so.

The Australian nuclear hype focusses on “Generation IV” technologies, especially Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs – they leave out the unpopular word “nuclear”)

No-one wants to pay for SMRS

No company, utility, consortium or national government is seriously considering building the massive supply chain that is at the very essence of the concept of SMRs ‒ mass, modular factory construction. Yet without that supply chain, SMRs will be expensive curiosities.

Small nuclear reactors are not economically viable. The main priority preventing safe deployment [of small nuclear reactors] is economics. Most commercial proposals for SMRs involve cost-cutting measures, such as siting multiple reactors in close proximity. This increases the risk of accidents, or the impact of potential accidents on people nearby.    (20)

The world wide effort by the nuclear industry to hype up small nuclear reactors is not resulting in any sign of success, given their disastrous economics, among other problems. (21)

Thorium and uranium mining?  Given the decline in the nuclear power industry, and the glut in uranium, the uranium market is in permanent doldrums. (22)

Thorium nuclear reactors – there are many sources that detail the problems that make these reactors unlikely ever to become a commercial reality. They are in essence really uranium fuelled, as they require plutonium or enriched uranium to start the process. Their major problem is of course their very high cost. Other disadvantages, safety risks, toxic long-lasting wastes, weapons proliferation risks. (23)

Environmental benefits?   Are they kidding?   The environmental consequences of using thorium-based nuclear power will result in the same problems the world faces today with uranium bases reactors. (24)

Uranium mining has widespread effects, contaminating the environment with radioactive dust, radon gas, water-borne toxins, and increased levels of background radiation. (25)  The industry’s use of water is huge, making it a very unwise industry for for water -scarce Australia.

Social benefits?    What social benefits?  The introduction of any part of the nuclear fuel chain into clean, green Victoria would bring conflict, division and distress especially to rural Victorians.  All for the faint hope of riches for a few mining entrepreneurs, and the promise of jobs, jobs jobs in mining, an industry that is becoming increasingly and rapidly automated. The effect on the tourism and farming industry would be loss of jobs, whereas solar and wind technologies can be developed alongside agriculture, bringing many more jobs.

24,  https://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2008-10-thorium-is-not-an-environmentally-safe-alternative-type-of-nuclear-energy-norwegian-report-says

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3653646/

 

(3) identify opportunities for Victoria to participate in the nuclear fuel cycle; and  

If the well-being of the farming and tourist communities is ignored, well, some enthusiastic nuclear entrepreneurs might be able to get hold of tax-payers’ money , and get their almost certainly futile dream started.

(4) identify any barriers to participation, including limitations caused by federal or local laws and regulations.  

Apart from the barriers of extremely bad economic outlook for nuclear activities in Australia, apart from the environmental, health and safety risks, apart from damage to agriculture and tourism, -yes there are legal and regulatory hurdles for the nuclear lobby to overcome.

Victoria’s laws are not haphazard whims of a few latte-drinking tree huggers.

They have been developed to protect the public from the very sorts of dirty nuclear industries that are now being touted by the nuclear lobby

 

Critique of Preliminary Report SOUTH AUSTRALIAN SEPARATION EVENT, Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)

December 19, 2016

electricity-interconnector

Dennis Matthews, 18 Dec 16 , 1 DECEMBER 2016. 

The “separation event” was the disconnection of the Heywood interconnector into South Australia.

The following uses the same headings as the AEMO preliminary report.

1. Overview

A short-circuit in a Victorian 500 kV (kilovolt), alternating current (AC) transmission line connected to the Heywood Victorian-SA interconnector resulted in the SA electricity network being disconnected from the Heywood interconnector.

At the time of the “incident” the Victorian electricity network was highly vulnerable to disruption. One of the two circuits served by the Heywood interconnector had been taken out of operation for maintenance. To make matters worse, one of the circuits supplying the Alcoa aluminium smelter at Portland was also out of service. Like all aluminium smelters, the Portland smelter had a very heavy electricity demand (about 480 MW).

The vulnerability of the Victorian electricity network meant that the SA network was also vulnerable to an abrupt loss of 230 MW. Nevertheless, no measures had been put in place to immediately replace power supply from Victoria in the event of disconnection from the Haywood interconnector. As with the SA state-wide blackout two months earlier, there was more than sufficient generating capacity available in SA but it was not on standby.

A short circuit in the remaining transmission line in Victoria to the Heywood interconnector resulted in SA and the Portland smelter being disconnected and the shutdown of two wind farms in Victoria.

The “incident” in Victoria, together with inadequate contingency plans resulted in the loss of 230 MW to SA, BHP’s Olympic Dam project losing 100 of its 170 MW for 3 hours, Portland smelter being disconnected for 4½ hours and disconnection of two wind farms (Portland generating 3MW, and Macarthur generating 4MW) in Victoria.

2. Pre-event Conditions

“Immediately prior to the incident there were two planned outages.”

Use of terms such as “incident” and “event” is reminiscent of the nuclear industry’s avoidance of terms such as “failure” , “accident”, and “meltdown”.

“Planned outage” refers to deliberate disconnection of parts of the system for maintenance or repairs. Such deliberate disconnections should be permitted only if they do not expose the system to serious disruption and only if there is sufficient backup in case of a fault developing in the remaining parts of the system. For SA no backup was put on standby in the case of SA being disconnected to the Heywood interconnector.

One of the “outages” referred to was that one half of the Heywood supply to SA (a 500 kV busbar) was out of service. This left SA and Victoria vulnerable to a fault developing in the remaining half of the Heywood supply. The other “outage” was the Heywood to Portland 500 kV transmission line servicing the Alcoa aluminium smelter.

Both outages were given permission by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

These two decisions left the aluminium smelter vulnerable to a fault developing in the remaining half of the Heywood transmission line in Victoria. There was no backup plan for maintaining supply to the smelter in this contingency.

At the time, SA was importing about 240 MW from Heywood in Victoria.

3. Event

“A single phase to earth fault occurred on the Morabool-Tarrone 500 kV transmission line causing the line to trip out of service.” In other words, there was a short circuit in the only remaining transmission line in Victoria to the Heywood interconnector.

“It is believed that the line tripped as a normal response to this type of fault”. The short circuit caused the transmission line to Heywood to be disconnected (trip).

The short circuit was caused by the breaking of an electrical cable. The reason for the cable breaking was not known to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

The “trip” of the transmission line left the Portland smelter still connected to SA, the power flow reversed so that instead of 240 MW into SA from Victoria there was 480 MW from SA to Victoria to supply the Portland smelter. A control scheme then disconnected the smelter from SA.

5 Operation of SA when Islanded

Islanded means that SA was on its own as far as power supply was concerned, in particular, it means that it was not receiving power from Victoria. In fact, SA was still receiving about 220 MW through the high voltage, direct current (DC), Victoria-SA, Murraylink interconnector.

Solar farm in Victoria – independent of any tax-payer funding

March 26, 2015

what makes the Mildura plant so special is that it was built without a cent of government grants being tipped in.

helps illustrate how solar’s smaller, highly modular scale and fast construction time could allow it to play a far greater role in ensuring the target for the large-scale RET is met

Belectric have a developed a standardised 3MW solar power installation system they call the 3.0 MegaWattBlock (pictured below) which they roll-out across the globe.


Solar-installation-Belectri

Australia’s biggest solar farm powers-up but solar’s potential shines elsewhere, Business Spectator, TRISTAN EDIS  23 MAR 

Australia’s largest ever solar power plant, AGL’s 102 megawatt Nyngan – has begun feeding power into the grid. But there’s a far more interesting solar power plant no one is talking about in Mildura.

The Nyngan plant in Western NSW now has its first 25MW of capacity, involving 350,000 solar modules made by First Solar, generating power that is exporting power to the grid. Further generation will progressively be brought online over the next three months as the remaining three sections of the plant are individually commissioned.

It’s unambiguously good news, yet I’m far more excited about the solar power plant in Mildura even though it’s substantially smaller – 3MW of capacity versus Nyngan’s 102MW. In fact it’s quite astounding that the completion of the Mildura plant has received no press whatsoever, because when it started feeding power to the grid in April last year it was the second largest operational solar power plant in the country at the time, and remains comfortably the largest in Victoria.

Of course 3MW is nothing special; in the overall scheme of things it’s actually tiny. Over the last few years we’ve averaged over 800MW of solar installations per annum (mainly household installations of 5 kilowatts or smaller). Indeed the average coal power station is typically 200 times the size of the 3MW plant in Mildura.

But what makes the Mildura plant so special is that it was built without a cent of government grants being tipped in. Meanwhile AGL will receive $166.7 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and a further  $64.9 million from the NSW Government to build Nyngan and its associated 53MW plant in Broken Hill. In addition, other large-scale solar plants like FRV’s 56MW plant in Moree, the 10MW plant in Carnarvon and the 6.7MW Rio Tinto plant in Weipa are all recipients of significant government grants covering around half the capital cost. Other solar projects in the ACT benefit from government feed-in tariffs which pay a significant premium over the market price of the electricity and renewable energy certificates the projects create.

Yet the Mildura solar farm will operate based solely on the revenue it earns from the large-scale Renewable Energy Target and the electricity it produces, via a long-term power purchase agreement with Diamond Energy – an upstart power retailer focussed on renewable energy.

In this respect the Mildura project provides a vastly more convincing case that solar PV could be a significant player in not just competing at the retail level on rooftops, but also the wholesale electricity market. The project also helps illustrate how solar’s smaller, highly modular scale and fast construction time could allow it to play a far greater role in ensuring the target for the large-scale RET is met than many currently expect…..

Essentially, they [The Germany company that built the project – Belectric –] approach it as a simple electrical installation rather than a large customised construction project. Belectric have a developed a standardised 3MW solar power installation system they call the 3.0 MegaWattBlock (pictured above) which they roll-out across the globe.

By keeping projects at a moderate size and employing simple, standardised equipment and framing, the project becomes a cookie-cutter exercise – not unlike like a household solar installation – just repeated over and over again. This enables them to employ local, small electrical contractors, keeping competition high and pricing sharp, avoiding the union-dominated, high-cost labour typically involved in large-scale construction projects in Australia. It also means they’ve become very quick at rolling these projects out because they’ve done them several times before. It’s utility scale power as mass production rather than one-off construction project……..http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2015/3/23/solar-energy/australias-biggest-solar-farm-powers-solars-potential-shines

Premier Napthine of Victoria- not only anti-wind energy, but wants gas to be counted as “renewable” energy

June 4, 2014

hypocrisy-scaleNapthine government wants gas included in renewable energy target June 3, 201  Environment editor, The Age Australia’s renewable energy target would include gas-fired power – derived from fossil fuels – under a controversial proposal by the Victorian government.

The state also suggests the target should also be scaled back to reflect falling demand for power……….

Greens Leader Greg Barber said including gas in the target would be “a huge hit to the earth …….”If Premier Denis Napthine has convinced himself that gas is a renewable energy source, then he is confused,” he said. “Adding gas to the renewable energy target means it is no longer about renewable energy.”

The Victorian opposition said the government should be fighting to maintain the target in current form.

Labor energy spokeswoman Lily D’Ambrosio said: “As it stands, the [target] provides investment in new industries and will create thousands of jobs for Victorians. We wholeheartedly support that – Denis Napthine should too.”……..

The Victorian submission puts it at odds with renewable energy firms and NSW, which supports the target as it stands but wants the timeframe to achieve it pushed out…….

Environment Victoria campaigner Nick Aberle said keeping the target would allow Victoria to tap into billions of dollars of clean energy investment, creating skilled jobs in regional areas. “There is also good evidence that keeping the target will ultimately lead to lower electricity prices for consumers,” Dr Aberle said.

In a separate submission, the City of Melbourne strongly backs the retention of the target as it stands. It says the policy is pushing down wholesale electricity prices, benefiting consumers including manufacturers in the city.

The Melbourne City Council submission also says the advent of renewable energy technology, such as rooftop solar panels, has strengthened the resilience of the energy grid and both put curbs on demand and lowered prices during extreme heatwaves.http://www.theage.com.au/environment/energy-smart/napthine-government-wants-gas-included-in-renewable-energy-target-20140603-39gs0.html

Two 30MW solar farms up and running in Victoria in 2014

December 27, 2012

Another 30 MW Solar Farm For Victoria http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=3530, 27 Dec 12Gannawarra Shire Council last week approved plans for another 30MW solar farm to be constructed near Kerang, Victoria. The latest 30MW PV solar project will be situated on 36 hectares south of the town and is expected to produce 52 gigawatt hours of clean electricity annually; enough to power 14,300 homes and avoid 62,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

“Construction of the $38 million solar farm is expected to commence in mid 2013, with an expected construction timeframe of around 14 months. The project is likely to provide significant employment and service opportunities for Kerang,” Manager Economic Development Roger Griffiths said.

Gannawarra Shire Council Mayor Cr Neville Goulding said Council is actively encouraging utility scale renewables in the area.
“The development follows strategic work by Council’s Economic Development unit to facilitate and promote the option of large scale solar projects within the Shire, to Australian and overseas companies seeking to invest in the Australian green energy market. Council looks forward to further developments in the renewable energy sector.”

Albury based ECO for LIFE will be developing the project.

Another 30MW solar farm is already under construction in the Kerang region after being approved in August. The facility is being developed by AKK Consulting Group and is located off the Loddon Valley Highway, 4 kilometres south of the town centre.

Kerang is situated 279 kilometres north-west of Melbourne. In addition to substantial solar radiation resources, the town has access to a large capacity sub-station, a 220kV transmission line that runs from Bendigo to Broken Hill in NSW, two 66kV sub transmission lines running directly to Swan Hill and one 66kV sub transmission line to Cohuna.

Latrobe Valley coal power plants interested in plan to close down

October 27, 2011

Latrobe Valley plants’ carbon tax interest The Age, October 22, 2011  The owners of the Latrobe Valley’s Hazelwood and Yallourn power plants have registered their interest for a federal government scheme to pay generators to close under the carbon tax.

The government called for expressions of interest to close down 2000-megawatts of the nation’s dirtiest power generation by 2020.

The removal of the dirtiest power generation in the country is part of the government’s Clean Energy Future plan, which also includes a $23-a-tonne price on carbon from July next year, household assistance and funding for renewable energy projects.

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Expressions of interest were due by October 21 and contracts are expected to be finalised by June 30, 2012.

The owners of Hazelwood and Yallourn as well as HRL, the owner of smaller generator Energy Brix, have applied, Fairfax newspapers report.

There have also been applications by the owners of South Australia’s Playford and Queensland’s Collinsville plants…..

http://news.theage.com.au/breaking-news-national/latrobe-valley-plants-carbon-tax-interest-20111022-1md1g.html

Renewable energy takes a step forward in Victoria

October 8, 2011
CBD buys Victorian retailer, SMH. Brian Robins, October 8, 2011 Gerry McGowan’s company, CBD Energy, has taken its first step into retailing by acquiring Victoria-based Neighbourhood Energy, from Alinta Energy.

With 65,000 customers, CBD Energy is paying $24.9 million, or $383 a customer, funded by borrowings and an improving cash flow, following the start of its wholesale solar projects in Italy.

The purchase will make CBD Energy a vertically integrated retailer and generator of renewable energy, it said….

The acquisition follows the purchase of land and development approvals for a 100 megawatt wind farm near Goulburn, south-west of Sydney, which will cost $220 million to develop, although the capital commitment of CBD Energy, if any, to this venture has yet to be determined.

This purchase was through a recently launched joint venture with two Chinese renewable energy companies, Datang and Tianwei, which is targeting a third of Australia’s wind energy market over the next eight years.

Mr McGowan said CBD Energy’s revenues ”will grow aggressively again this year” after a fourfold increase to $160 million in the year to June.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/cbd-buys-victorian-retailer-20111007-1ldwu.html#ixzz1aDp6PqMV