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Victorian Labor offers half-priced solar panels for homeowners in $1.24bn pledge

Sun, 08/19/2018 - 02:24

Daniel Andrews says owner-occupiers will have access to more than $4,000 each to install panels

Victorian owner-occupiers will get half-priced solar panels for their homes with no upfront cost under a $1.24bn election promise by the state Labor government.

The premier, Daniel Andrews, unveiled the plan in suburban Moorabbin on Sunday, promising that 650,000 homeowners over 10 years will get access to more than $4,000 each to install panels, paying back half over four years with their savings.

Related: Labor to support price caps on power bills as Coalition's Neg woes continue

Related: All eyes on Dutton as conservatives fuel Coalition's crisis of confidence | Katharine Murphy

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Sanjeev Gupta: $1bn South Australia renewable energy plan will mean cheaper power

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 05:21

UK industrialist’s plan features 780,000 solar panels, generating enough electricity for 96,000 homes

Billionaire UK industrialist Sanjeev Gupta has launched a $1bn, one-gigawatt renewable energy plan based in South Australia’s mid-north that he says will lead Australian industry’s transition to more competitive power.

In the first of a number of projects slated for the upper Spencer Gulf region, which will also include a lithium-ion battery bigger than Elon Musk’s, Gupta’s energy company Simec Zen has released details of its Cultana Solar Farm.

Related: Sanjeev Gupta: Coal power is no longer cheaper – and we'll prove it

Related: South Australia announces grants worth $8.7m for pumped hydro storage

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Most Australians want more renewables to help lower power prices – poll

Sun, 08/05/2018 - 18:00

Survey comes as Victoria and Queensland urged to block national energy guarantee and business groups call for deal to be approved

More than 70% of Australians want the government to set a high renewable energy target to put downward pressure on power prices, according to a new poll.

The ReachTel poll, commissioned by Greenpeace, was released on Monday as progressive campaign group GetUp and environmentalists stepped up pressure on the Victorian and Queensland governments to block the national energy guarantee and business groups called for it to be approved.

Related: What is the national energy guarantee and why is it taking so long?

Related: A virus of odious ignorance has infected conservative thinking - and politics | Greg Jericho

Related: ACT under pressure to 'succumb to politics' of energy guarantee, minister says

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Categories: Sustainable Living

5,500 UK churches switch to renewable energy

Thu, 08/02/2018 - 23:01

Churches estimated to have diverted £5m from fossil fuels to clean energy providers

More than 5,500 churches including some of the UK’s most famous cathedrals have converted to renewable power to help tackle climate change.

Church of England places of worship, along with Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Quaker and Salvation Army congregations, have made the switch to 100% renewable electricity, and faith leaders are urging more to follow suit.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Our scorched Earth needs voters to put more heat on their politicians | Andrew Rawnsley

Sun, 07/29/2018 - 07:00

Britain won’t be unscathed by global warming. You can’t run from climate change and you can’t hide

Over the course of Britain’s sweltering summer, the landlord of the building inhabited by the Observer periodically informs us that our air conditioning is undergoing an “automated controlled shutdown” because the weather has become so hot and humid that the system is at risk of damaging itself. So just when you really need cooling air, you can’t have it. One to be filed under: you couldn’t make it up.

This is not uncommon. The offices, factories, homes, roads and railways of Britain were designed on the assumption that it is a country of blessedly temperate conditions, immune to extremes of heat and cold. When people say that Britain is not built to withstand a sizzling summer, this is more literally true than they may know.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

South Australia on track to meet 75% renewables target Liberals promised to scrap

Wed, 07/25/2018 - 01:38

Liberal energy minister, who inherited policy criticised as a mix of ‘ideology and idiocy’, says he’ll ensure it does not come at too high a price

South Australia’s energy minister says the state is on track to have 75% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025 – the target set by the former Labor premier Jay Weatherill and once rejected by his Liberal government.

And Dan van Holst Pellekaan pledged to ensure it does not come at too high a price.

Related: Sanjeev Gupta: Coal power is no longer cheaper – and we'll prove it

We must transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy ... And we need to do it sensibly.

Related: Life after coal: the South Australian city leading the way

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Renewables jobs at risk unless emissions reduction target ramped up

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 18:00

Analysis suggests 15,000 jobs at risk because of lack of new renewable projects under national energy guarantee

Activist groups are intensifying efforts to persuade Australia’s states and territories to demand the 26% emissions reduction target in the national energy guarantee be ramped up, with new analysis suggesting jobs in renewable energy will be lost.

A new projection from Green Energy Markets, funded by GetUp, says up to 15,000 jobs in large scale renewables projects in Queensland and Victoria are at risk unless the Neg’s emissions reduction targets are increased.

Related: Architects of energy policy tell states they can sign up even if they don't agree with emissions targets

Related: Sanjeev Gupta: Coal power is no longer cheaper – and we'll prove it

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Categories: Sustainable Living

'The US government has checked out on renewables': can cities fill the gap?

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 11:00

Burlington, the first US city to run entirely on clean power, is inspiring other cities to make progress on climate change

Burlington in Vermont has already given the world Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and provided the political launchpad for Bernie Sanders. Now the city’s successful switch to 100% renewable electricity is spurring US mayors to fill the gaping void on climate change action left by the Trump administration.

Burlington didn’t make a fuss when it switched on a new hydropower plant in late 2014 and became the first US city to run entirely on clean power. “We didn’t have parades. I don’t know why in retrospect we didn’t make more of it,” says Miro Weinberger, the wire-haired mayor of Burlington.

The job of every elected official in this country changed the day Donald Trump was elected

Related: More than 100 cities now mostly powered by renewable energy, data shows

The city council began to shift to reflect a progressive point of view and they brought along the private sector

Related: Plight of Phoenix: how long can the world’s 'least sustainable' city survive?

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Rich countries pushing 'dirty energy' in Africa, report claims

Mon, 07/23/2018 - 05:00

Study finds that while wealthy nations advocate renewables at home, 60% of aid to African energy projects went on fossil fuels

Wealthy governments have been accused of promoting fossil fuel development in Africa at the expense of clean energy.

Analysis showed 60% of public aid for energy projects was spent on fossil fuels, compared with just 18% on renewables.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

'We have become guardians': Turkey's accidental forest protectors

Sat, 07/21/2018 - 05:15

Birhan Erkutlu and Tuğba Günal wanted to ‘get away from it all’ but are now leading a campaign to protect rivers and trees from hydropower plants

Birhan Erkutlu and Tuğba Günal moved into the forests of Antalya to get away from it all. They wanted a natural, peaceful life free of capitalism, consumer culture, social media, the internet, even electricity. Fate had other plans.

Fourteen years on, the two artists are now figureheads of a campaign to protect rivers and trees from a cascade of hydropower plants. Their tweets and Facebook posts attract hundreds of thousands of followers. They use drones to expose wrongdoing. And they have overcome threats, warning shots and a hostile political culture to lobby successfully for the creation of a new protected area.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Subsidies for new household solar panels to end next year

Thu, 07/19/2018 - 16:23

Renewable energy installations will no longer benefit from feed-in tariff, ministers confirm

The renewables industry and green groups have accused ministers of striking a major blow against household solar power after the government said a green energy subsidy scheme would end next year without a replacement.

The closure of the feed-in tariff (FIT) to new applicants from next April marks the final chapter for the scheme, which has encouraged more than 800,000 households to install solar panels since it was launched in 2010.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Coalition's national energy guarantee described as having 'no benefit' to emissions

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 18:00

Former head of Clean Energy Finance Corporation says governments should not support Neg in current state

Oliver Yates, the former head of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, says state and territory governments should not sign on to the Turnbull government’s national energy guarantee until such time as it contains meaningful emissions reductions.

Yates, a respected industry player now active in the renewables sector, and a board member of the Smart Energy Council – a solar group critical of the Neg – told Guardian Australia the Turnbull government’s policy “doesn’t do anything other than create a stable emissions profile for existing coal-fired power stations.”

Related: Malcolm Turnbull joins political brawl over 'gangs' but is he fair dinkum? | Katharine Murphy

Related: Matt Canavan says Nationals are not 'mandating' new investment in coal

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Categories: Sustainable Living

IEA warns of 'worrying trend' as global investment in renewables falls

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 07:00

Fossil fuels increased share of energy supply investment last year – the first time since 2014

The world’s energy watchdog has sounded the alarm over a “worrying” pause in the shift to clean energy after global investment in renewables fell 7% to $318bn (£240bn) last year.

The International Energy Agency said the decline is set to continue into 2018, threatening energy security, climate change and air pollution goals.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Our phones and gadgets are now endangering the planet | John Harris

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 05:00

The energy used in our digital consumption is set to have a bigger impact on global warming than the entire aviation industry

It was just another moment in this long, increasingly strange summer. I was on a train home from Paddington station, and the carriage’s air-conditioning was just about fighting off the heat outside. Most people seemed to be staring at their phones – in many cases, they were trying to stream a World Cup match, as the 4G signal came and went, and Great Western Railway’s onboard wifi proved to be maddeningly erratic. The trebly chatter of headphone leakage was constant. And thousands of miles and a few time zones away in Loudoun County, Virginia, one of the world’s largest concentrations of computing power was playing its part in keeping everything I saw ticking over, as data from around the world passed back and forth from its vast buildings.

Most of us communicate with this small and wealthy corner of the US every day. Thanks to a combination of factors – its proximity to Washington DC, competitive electricity prices, and its low susceptibility to natural disasters – the county is the home of data centres used by about 3,000 tech companies: huge agglomerations of circuitry, cables and cooling systems that sit in corners of the world most of us rarely see, but that are now at the core of how we live. About 70% of the world’s online traffic is reckoned to pass through Loudoun County.

Related: ‘Tsunami of data’ could consume one fifth of global electricity by 2025

Related: Bitcoin’s energy usage is huge – we can't afford to ignore it

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Renewables will replace ageing coal plants at lowest cost, Aemo says

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 18:00

Forecast by energy market operator is a blow to Coalition MPs campaigning for new coal-fired generation

Australia’s energy market operator says the future of power generation in Australia will be renewables with storage, and gas, with those technologies able to replace the power currently supplied by coal generators at least cost.

A new forecast by the Australian Energy Market Operator (Aemo) notes 30% of Australia’s coal generators will approach the end of their technical life over the next two decades, and it says it is important to avoid premature departures if the looming transition in the national energy market is to be orderly.

Related: How Tesla's big battery is bringing Australia’s gas cartel to heel

Related: Energy policy would not be that hard if the government wasn’t hamstrung by ideologues | Simon Holmes à Court

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Categories: Sustainable Living

UK passes 1,000 hours without coal as energy shift accelerates

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 08:00

Revival of last eight coal plants when ‘beast from the east’ hit Britain proved to be brief

Britain has been powered for more than a thousand hours without coal this year, in a new milestone underscoring how the polluting fuel’s decline is accelerating.

The UK’s last eight coal power plants staged a brief revival when the “beast from the east” pushed up gas prices earlier this year, causing coal plants to fire up.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Rising ocean waters from global warming could cost trillions of dollars | John Abraham

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 10:00

We’ll need to mitigate and adapt to global warming to avoid massive costs from sea level rise

Ocean waters are rising because of global warming. They are rising for two reasons. First, and perhaps most obvious, ice is melting. There is a tremendous amount of ice locked away in Greenland, Antarctica, and in glaciers. As the world warms, that ice melts and the liquid water flows to the oceans.

The other reason why water is rising is that warmer water is less dense – it expands. This expansion causes the surface of the water to rise.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Energy inquiry explainer: how ACCC plans to cut your power bills

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 06:54

Competition watchdog offers governments a reform blueprint. Here’s our breakdown of its proposals

According to the competition watchdog, the national energy market is broken and needs drastic change – from consumer rebates for network costs to simpler discounts for customers, new powers to stop “market manipulation” and even government support for new generation.

After an inquiry spanning more than 12 months, in a report released on Wednesday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission made 56 recommendations. The watchdog said its suite of reforms could save average residential customers up to $419 in south-east Queensland and $409 in New South Wales by 2020.

Related: Electricity comparison websites may inflate prices, energy adviser says

Related: Abbott is angry about energy but there are bigger fish to fry | Katharine Murphy

Related: Fancy seeing you: energy foes Abbott, Frydenberg and Credlin to face off in US

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Cool down nuclear plan because renewables are better bet, ministers told

Mon, 07/09/2018 - 23:01

Government advisers say UK should back just one more new nuclear power station in the next few years

Government advisers have told ministers to back only a single new nuclear power station after Hinkley Point C in the next few years, because renewable energy sources could prove a safer investment.

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) said the government should cool down plans for a nuclear new build programme that envisage as many as six plants being built.

Related: Government needs U-turn over mania for nuclear plants

Related: Nuclear plans 'should be rethought after fall in offshore windfarm costs'

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Government needs U-turn over mania for nuclear plants

Mon, 07/09/2018 - 23:01

Its own infrastructure adviser says more renewables is the low-cost option

Here’s a report that must not be lost in the noise of Brexit. The National Infrastructure Assessment is a once-a-parliament affair from a body that was created to save us from the deadly combination of politicians’ machismo and the electoral cycle.

More prosaically, the National Infrastructure Commission’s job is to inject long-term strategic thinking into the critical business of building important stuff. Its first report contains a devastating conclusion: the government should drop its obsession with building more and more nuclear power stations.

Related: Banks court buyers for 49% stake in UK nuclear power stations

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Categories: Sustainable Living