Solar Has Won

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In Australia the amount of energy being produced by sustainable systems caused the price to fall so low it went in to the negative. This will not be the last time we see this. As more places adopt renewable energy into their power grids the old models of industry will be forced to change – meaning a better world for consumers, producers, and the environment!

Last week, for the first time in memory, the wholesale price of electricity in Queensland fell into negative territory – in the middle of the day.

For several days the price, normally around $40-$50 a megawatt hour, hovered in and around zero. Prices were deflated throughout the week, largely because of the influence of one of the newest, biggest power stations in the state – rooftop solar.

“Negative pricing” moves, as they are known, are not uncommon. But they are only supposed to happen at night, when most of the population is mostly asleep, demand is down, and operators of coal fired generators are reluctant to switch off. So they pay others to pick up their output.

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Australia Can Make Easy Transition to Renewable Energy

Presently, 10% of Australia’s electricity is produced from a renewable resource, and that number can grow easily with minor adjustments to federal policy. By cutting back subsidies for the oil and gas sector (yes, most developed nations actually provide subsidies to that insanely profitable sector) and upping the cost of carbon the Australian economy can make an easy transition to more renewable energy. To top it all off, the country is looking at a feasibility study of 100% renewable energy use by 2030!

The researchers found currently available renewable energy technologies such as wind and concentrated solar thermal power could displace all fossil-fuelled power plants in the National Electricity Market, according to a peer-reviewed paper published in the international Energy Policy journal.

Running simulations based on power demand and supply data for 2010, the researchers found wind would contribute most in a switch to fully renewable energy. It would account for between 46 and 59 per cent, while solar PV and concentrated solar would supply 15-20 per cent each, and hydro and biofuel-based gas generators the remainder.

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Australia Starts Two-Year Super Trawler Ban

Commercial fishing is one of the most damaging things one can do to gather a food source. Trawlers are so inefficient they perform the equivalent task of cutting down an entire forest to get a couple cows. With this hugely negative impact that trawling can have on undersea life in mind Australia has decided to ban, for at least two years, trawling by large boats in some protected waters.

Conservationists have welcomed the Government’s decision, saying the trawler would have “plundered” domestic fish stocks.

“The Government is right to take a precautionary approach, because monster boats like the Abel Tasman have no place in our waters,” Greenpeace spokesman Ben Pearson said in a statement.

The Greens also welcomed the announcement, but Tasmanian senator Peter Whish-Wilson says he is concerned other fisheries may be open to the Abel Tasman.

“There are other fisheries, both in the state water such as the sardine fisheries that it could fish, and potentially in mackerel,” he said.

Read more at ABC.

Australia Gets World’s Toughest Law on Cigarette Branding

It is common knowledge that smoking kills people and, in democracies, providing health care for citizens is important and unquestioned. In Australia, they clearly care about each other as they now make it harder than ever for cigarette companies to shill their destructive product.

Starting in December, packs will instead come in a uniformly drab shade of olive and feature dire health warnings and graphic photographs of smoking’s health effects. The government, which has urged other countries to adopt similar rules, hopes the new packs will make smoking as unglamorous as possible.

Many countries mandate that packages display photos or text describing smoking’s health effects, and some limit the size of the branding or ban certain slogans, but Australia’s dual approach would be the strictest globally.

Read more here.

Australia Creates Largest Network of Marine Parks

Australia has taken a step in the right direction when it comes to protecting their natural environment. The country has announced that they’ll be creating the largest network of protected marine areas in the world. Fishing and drilling for non-renewable resources has been been banned inside the network.

The announcement of the network was made a week before more than 130 heads of state and government will gather in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations’ sustainable development conference as part of global efforts to curb climate change, one of the biggest conferences in U.N. history.

New reserves will be established from the Perth Canyon in the southwest to Kangaroo Island off the southern coast, but the “jewel in the crown” will be the protection of the Coral Sea area which surrounds the Great Barrier Reef in the northeast, Environment Minister Tony Burke said on Thursday.

“The Coral Sea marine national park … combined with the Great Barrier Reef area, becomes the largest marine protected area in the world,” Burke said.

Read more here.

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