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Economist Steve Keen says the planet cannot sustain 8 billion people | The Business | ABC News

Coles, Woolworths recycling scheme collapses after secret stockpiles revealed

Australia’s largest plastic bag recycling program has collapsed amid revelations hundreds of millions of bags and other soft plastic items dropped off by customers at Coles and Woolworths are being secretly stockpiled in warehouses and not recycled.

Instead of being taken to companies that use the plastic to make other items, REDcycle has been transporting the plastic to warehouses for long-term storage in what some experts consider a potential environmental and fire safety risk.

Lucinda Moje-O’Brien routinely recycles her plastic bags at REDcycle supermarket collection points.
Lucinda Moje-O’Brien routinely recycles her plastic bags at REDcycle supermarket collection points.CREDIT:JASON SOUTH

The Melbourne-based company, which claims to collect up to 5 million plastic items a day from public drop-off points at nearly 2000 supermarkets across the country, did not publicly announce the suspension of the recycling component of its program, and has for months continued collecting large volumes of soft plastics including shopping bags, pet food bags, ice cream wrappers, bubble wrap and frozen food packaging.

The plastics collected are usually sent to other companies, where they are used as ingredients in concrete, asphalt, street furniture, bollards and shopping trolleys.

On Tuesday evening, after questions from this masthead, REDcycle announced it would suspend its collection program from Wednesday due to “untenable pressure” on its business model.

Woolworths apologised to customers on Tuesday. Coles declined to comment about when it became aware REDcycle was collecting plastic from its supermarkets that were not being recycled.

A spokeswoman for REDcycle said “several unforeseen challenges, exacerbated by the pandemic” meant that three companies that normally accepted the plastic for recycling were no longer doing so.

The processing problems are expected to continue until mid-2023, which could mean more than 1 billion plastic items – or thousands of tonnes – are stockpiled in warehouses. REDcycle would not reveal how much plastic is currently stockpiled in its facilities.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Massive Anti-Russian ‘Bot Army’ Exposed By Australian Researchers

An Australian university has unearthed millions of Tweets by fake ‘bot’ accounts pushing disinformation on the Ukraine war.
‘Bot armies’ are on the march in the Ukraine-Russia war, with automated ‘bot’ accounts sending up to 80% of tweets in the study sample size of over 5-million tweets, with anti-Russia accounts comprising 90.2% of all accounts. Here, shelves of confiscated GSM gateways, containing hundreds of sim cards using the mobile network to create thousands of fake bot accounts to distribute millions of fake tweets. (Photo: Ukraine Security Service, SBU)

Ateam of researchers at the University of Adelaide have found that as many as 80 percent of tweets about the 2022 Russia-Ukraine invasion in its early weeks were part of a covert propaganda campaign originating from automated fake ‘bot’ accounts.

An anti-Russia propaganda campaign originating from a ‘bot army’ of fake automated Twitter accounts flooded the internet at the start of the war. The research shows of the more than 5-million tweets studied, 90.2 percent of all tweets (both bot and non-bot) came from accounts that were pro-Ukraine, with fewer than 7 percent of the accounts being classed as pro-Russian.

The university researchers also found these automated tweets had been purposely used to drive up fear amongst people targeted by them, boosting a high level of statistically measurable ‘angst’ in the online discourse.

The research team analysed a massively unprecedented 5,203,746 tweets, sent with key hashtags, in the first two weeks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine from 24 February this year. The researchers considered predominately English-language accounts, with a calculated 1.8-million unique Twitter accounts in the dataset posting at least one English-language tweet.

The results were published in August in a research paper, titled “#IStandWithPutin versus #IStandWithUkraine: The interaction of bots and humans in discussion of the Russia/Ukraine war“, by the University of Adelaide’s School of Mathematical Science.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

NT’s Blacktip gas field production drops, forcing shutdown of Northern Gas Pipeline

photo from a height of a power station with the sea in the background
The Channel Island power station is the main provider of electricity to the Darwin-Katherine interconnected system.(Supplied: Territory Generation)

Production from the offshore field which supplies gas for the Top End’s electricity generation has decreased by nearly 50 per cent this year — raising concerns about the long-term security of the resource.

Power and Water Corporation (PWC) has an agreement with Italian company ENI to buy gas from its Blacktip field until 2031, using the gas to generate electricity for the Darwin to Katherine grid.

But over the past 12 months, gas output from the field has been steadily dropping.

Blacktip’s production has decreased so much that there is not enough gas to run the Tennant Creek to Mount Isa pipeline, where PWC normally sends its excess supply.

Wood Mackenzie energy research analyst Anne Forbes said it was common for gas fields to have production issues, but Blacktip’s problems seemed particularly bad.

“There’s been quite a significant [production] decline, much more severe than we would generally assume would happen for this type of gas field,” she said.

“It’s been quite unexpected.”

Aging electricity infrastructure in the Northern Territory
Most of the Northern Territory’s electricity is provided by gas-fired power stations.(ABC News)

The Blacktip field is made up of 12 separate stacked reservoirs across four different geological formations — meaning it is difficult to extract gas from.

“[A gas reservoir] will always not perform as you expect — it might be better or it might be worse,” Ms Forbes said.

“In this case it’s not been as good as [ENI] had hoped.”

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Most productive NSW agricultural shire counts hundreds of millions of dollars in crop losses

aerial farm flooding shot
Crops on the verge of harvest have been wiped out.(Supplied: Rabbit Hop Films)

New South Wales’s peak farming body says the damage bill for wheat losses alone in the state’s flood-hit north-west will surpass $150 million.

Parts of Moree, Gunnedah, Dubbo and Moama have been evacuated as more than 140 flood warnings remain across the state.

Agronomists say the grain-growing hub of the north-west is expected to have “conservatively” lost more than 120,000 hectares of wheat that was nearly ready to harvest.

The region also boasts large barley and canola outputs and is in the summer planting window for crops such as cotton and sorghum.

The NSW Farmers Association is calling on the federal government to bolster flood support payments in Labor’s first budget in this term of government.

The lobby group’s Grains Committee chair, Justin Everitt said the dollar value of the wheat damage is on top of approximately $42 million farmers spent to grow the crop, in a year where input costs have been extraordinarily high.

He said crops are “now drowning beneath floodwater” and may be a “complete write-off” if paddocks don’t dry out soon.

“You spend all this money preparing your paddocks, sowing your crops, fertilising and spraying them, only to see them wiped out a couple weeks before harvest. It’s heartbreaking,” Mr Everitt said.

“Farmers know they’re taking a bit of a gamble when they’re planting a crop, but this ongoing wet weather with flood after flood after flood is just unbelievable.”

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Most productive NSW agricultural shire counts hundreds of millions of dollars in crop losses

aerial farm flooding shot
Crops on the verge of harvest have been wiped out.(Supplied: Rabbit Hop Films)

New South Wales’s peak farming body says the damage bill for wheat losses alone in the state’s flood-hit north-west will surpass $150 million.

Parts of Moree, Gunnedah, Dubbo and Moama have been evacuated as more than 140 flood warnings remain across the state.

Agronomists say the grain-growing hub of the north-west is expected to have “conservatively” lost more than 120,000 hectares of wheat that was nearly ready to harvest.

The region also boasts large barley and canola outputs and is in the summer planting window for crops such as cotton and sorghum.

The NSW Farmers Association is calling on the federal government to bolster flood support payments in Labor’s first budget in this term of government.

The lobby group’s Grains Committee chair, Justin Everitt said the dollar value of the wheat damage is on top of approximately $42 million farmers spent to grow the crop, in a year where input costs have been extraordinarily high.

He said crops are “now drowning beneath floodwater” and may be a “complete write-off” if paddocks don’t dry out soon.

“You spend all this money preparing your paddocks, sowing your crops, fertilising and spraying them, only to see them wiped out a couple weeks before harvest. It’s heartbreaking,” Mr Everitt said.

“Farmers know they’re taking a bit of a gamble when they’re planting a crop, but this ongoing wet weather with flood after flood after flood is just unbelievable.”

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Simple answer is we can’t do renewable energy the way it is being ‘planned’

Simple answer is we can’t do renewable energy the way it is being ‘planned’

Grid renewal generates billion-dollar shock as costs of energy transition become clear

A woman looks up at a large transmission tower.
Consumers are looking at a major increase in spending on power networks across Australia.(ABC News: Hugh Hogan)

Australian consumers have been told to brace for big hikes in their power bills after a watchdog revealed the true costs of overhauling the grid to deal with the renewable energy transition.

In a decision heralded as a landmark, Western Australia’s economic regulator this month said the state’s major electricity network provider should be allowed to spend $9 billion over the next five years – $1 billion more than it requested.

Network— or poles and wires — costs typically account for up to half the average electricity bill, with the rest made up of costs associated with generation, retailing and environmental policies.

Economic Regulation Authority chairman Steve Edwell said the draft decision reflected the urgent need for upgrades to Western Power’s network to ensure it could handle the surge of renewable energy flooding onto the system.

But Mr Edwell, who was also the inaugural chairman of the Australian Energy Regulator, said it was also a sign of what was to come around the country, where poles-and-wires companies face a race against time and a huge increase in costs to make sure they can keep up with the energy transition.

“The period between now and 2027 is pivotal,” Mr Edwell said.

“We’ve got to get it right and we’ve got to make sure the grid is in as good a shape as it can be to enable this transformation to continue at pace.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Australia invokes emergency powers to block coal exports in energy crisis

Australia invokes emergency powers to block coal exports in energy crisis

Authorities permitted to keep supplies, if needed, after consumers told to turn off the lights

Australian authorities have given themselves the power to block coal exports if the resource is needed to ease the country’s crippling power crisis in the latest measure taken to avert the risk of blackouts.

Rising coal and gas prices, coupled with outages at ageing coal-fired power stations, have plunged the market into turmoil this week, forcing the Australian Energy Market Operator to take control of the wholesale market to ensure reliable supply of electricity to eastern states.

The government of New South Wales invoked emergency powers on Friday to oblige miners operating in the state to redirect coal heading overseas to local generators. The precautionary move was taken to strengthen energy security on the advice of AEMO.

“We’re just giving ourselves all the levers we need to give the community certainty that we’re doing everything we can to keep the system going,” said Matt Kean, the energy minister and treasurer for New South Wales, the country’s most populous state.

The energy crisis has highlighted the failure of Australia, one of the world’s largest producers of fossil fuels, to prepare for the transition to renewable energy sources by investing in modernising the country’s electricity infrastructure, analysts say.

“We are in an invidious position. It is a global story as there is a gas shortage and prices are skyrocketing but for Australia it is combined with coal-fired power stations going offline,” said Ben Oquist, executive director of the Australia Institute think-tank. The crisis has highlighted how a failure to prepare for renewable energy becoming a larger part of domestic supply was hitting the country’s consumers in the form of higher bills and potential blackouts, he added.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Australia’s Energy Crisis Worsens As Gov’t Ask People To Keep Lights Off To Avert Blackouts

Australia’s Energy Crisis Worsens As Gov’t Ask People To Keep Lights Off To Avert Blackouts

Australia’s energy minister asked Sydney and the New South Wales (eastern part of the country) residents to turn off lights and energy-intensive appliances in the evening to prevent power blackouts due to an ongoing energy crunch, The Independent reports.

The federal energy minister, Chris Bowen, asked residents in a televised address to turn off energy-intensive devices between “6 to 8 [pm]” to mitigate risks of a spike in power during peak hours. He pointed to several offline coal-fired plants because of maintenance and unexpected issues.

Reuters notes that 65% of eastern Australia’s power is generated by coal, but more than a quarter of that capacity is offline.

Wholesale electricity prices have soared and on Monday exceeded the capped price of A$300 per megawatt-hour. Above A$300, coal power generation plants lost money and forced some operators to shutter power generation units, thus removing energy capacity off the grid and sending prices even higher. The rise of power prices began when coal prices jumped following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Bowen snapped at a journalist when asked if more coal power is the answer the energy crunch.

“The situation in recent days has posed challenges to the entire energy industry, and suspending the market would simplify operations during the significant outages across the energy supply chain,” Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) chief executive Daniel Westerman said in a statement.

“It was understandable generators had held back supply in light of the price caps along with unplanned outages and supply challenges with coal and gas, but having to direct generators to provide supply had made it impossible to maintain normal market operations,” Westerman said. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Not Enough Renewables: Minister Blames Australian Electricity Shortage on Lack of Green Energy

Not Enough Renewables: Minister Blames Australian Electricity Shortage on Lack of Green Energy

Energy Minister Chris Bowen has blamed Australia’s current electricity shortage on a supposed lack of investment in renewable energy and storage facilities from the previous government.

The Labor minister was responding to questions on whether Australia should simply increase—or repair—coal-fired energy generators that already provide around 64.67 percent of the country’s total electricity, as of December 2021.

“The problem is there hasn’t been enough investment in renewable energy,” Bowen told reporters on June 16. “There hasn’t been enough investment in storage.”

“Yes, you can say the wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine. Well, the rain doesn’t always fall out there, but we managed to store the water,” he said.

“We can store the renewable energy if we have the investment, and that investment has been lacking for the last decade. That’s the problem.”

Outside of coal, the National Electricity Market is supported (pdf) by wind power (10.45 percent of total generation), hydro (7.21 percent), individual solar systems (7.09 percent), gas (6.57 percent), and grid-scale solar (3.85 percent) among others.

Incidentally, Australia has been one of the fastest nations to adopt rooftop solar technology installing over 380,000 systems in 2021, with the Clean Energy Regulator saying the combined amount of electricity generated was 3,200 megawatts.

Further, experts have noted that simply building more batteries to increase storage capacity was unfeasible. One of the world’s largest battery storage systems is FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center in Florida, which can power approximately 329,000 homes but for only a two hour period.

Another problem with increasing battery production would be an increased reliance on Chinese supply chains, which would be risky considering the willingness of the Chinese Communist Party to leverage trade relationships in geopolitical disputes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Thousands of Homes in Sydney Plunged Into Darkness As Energy Shortage Plagues Australia

Thousands of Homes in Sydney Plunged Into Darkness As Energy Shortage Plagues Australia

Thousands of homes on Australia’s east coast were plunged into darkness on Monday as electricity suppliers struggled to meet demand as the country teeters on the edge of an energy shortage.

On Monday night, multiple areas in Sydney’s north and along the affluent Northern Beaches were sent into darkness, after the energy market operator warned of power disruption across the states of New South Wales and Queensland.

Affected suburbs include Beacon Hill, Frenchs Forest, Narraweena, Cromer and Dee Why in New South Wales (NSW), according to Ausgrid—Australia’s largest electricity distributor on the east coast. Power was available later in the day.

Households were encouraged to use less power as leading energy provider Powerlink Queensland warned of an “unusual combination” of unexpected generator outages plus cool winter temperatures and high demand for electricity.

“Gas supplies are sufficient however very high gas prices means [the Australian Energy Market Operator] has already triggered its market generation response mechanisms,” Powerlink said in a statement on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) on Tuesday confirmed that some energy generators have “revised their market availability” in NSW and Queensland due to a new $300/MWh price cap, a result of increased wholesale electricity prices.

In the gas markets, gas prices remained capped at $40/GJ after reaching cumulative high price thresholds in Victoria and Sydney.

“As a consequence of the administered price cap in Queensland, AEMO has seen generation bids reduce,” AEMO said in a media release on Monday. “The price cap … will only remain in place if the cumulative price threshold is still exceeded.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why did gas prices go from $10 a gigajoule to $800 a gigajoule? An expert on the energy crisis engulfing Australia

Why did gas prices go from $10 a gigajoule to $800 a gigajoule? An expert on the energy crisis engulfing Australia

Australia’s east coast has been plunged into an energy crisis just as winter takes hold, which will see many people struggle to heat their homes due to soaring gas bills.

Meanwhile, Origin Energy this week confirmed it could not source enough black coal to power Australia’s largest coal plant at full capacity, deepening shocks to the energy market.

The electricity price surge is so dire, small energy retailers such as ReAmped Energy are advising customers to switch energy providers or be hit with much higher bills.

So what on Earth is going on? It has a lot to do with Russia’s war on Ukraine, which has disrupted the global energy market. Sanctions on Russian coal and gas exports mean there’s simply not enough supply to meet demand. As a consequence, the global price of gas and coal has soared.

Why are energy prices are getting so high?

Australia is a net exporter of gas and coal. This means we export most of our fossil fuels overseas. As the global price of coal increases, the cost of generating domestic electricity from coal is increasing.

What’s more, many of Australia’s coal generators are ageing, which means they fail more often. At present, nearly 30% of our coal generation is offline.

The price spike comes as coal plant owners look for the exit. Australia’s largest coal plant, Eraring, has been operating for 35 years. In February, Origin announced it would shut Eraring seven years ahead of schedule in 2025 because renewable energy was impacting profitability.

Origin’s new challenge is securing enough coal to run Eraring at its full 2.8 gigawatt capacity. The problem is set to persist into 2023.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Australian fuel import bill going sky-high

Australian fuel import bill going sky-high

In March 2022 Australia’s petroleum product imports have reached almost AU$ 4 bn per month, an increase of 70% compared to December 2019.

Fig 1: Petroleum product imports by volume (black lines) and value (brown line)

Fig 2: Australian dollar to US$ exchange rate

The Australian Dollar was also around 0.7 US$ in December 2019, just like in May 2022 so it was not the exchange rate which drove up the bill in that period. It is the closure of Australian refineries (caused by peak oil of international oil companies), the oil price and the competition for fuels on the Asian market.

The Morrison government’s election-opportunistic cut of fuel excise duty by 50% until Sep 2022 will of course not reduce this import burden on the balance of payments. Fuel imports are now 12% of goods and services imports:

Fig 3: Goods and services debits (imports)
https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/international-trade/international-trade-goods-and-services-australia/latest-release#goods-and-services-debits-imports-seasonally-adjusted

Fig 4: Diesel imports by volume and value

Fig 5: Diesel imports by country

Australia’s dependency on China and a brand-new Chinese refinery in Brunei in the last years is clearly visible.

Fig 6: Monthly diesel imports

Imports change from month to month depending on the arrival of tankers. Diesel from China has been replaced by Diesel from India.

Fig 7: Petrol imports by value and volume

Fig 8: Petrol imports by country. Singapore now dominates

Fig 9: Jet fuel imports by value and volume

If jet fuel imports go back to their pre-Covid levels of, say, 600 ML/month the jet fuel import bill will double to A$ 700/month.

Conclusion: Australia must reduce its thirst for transport fuels. No new projects should be started which increase fuel consumption.

Related posts:

Australian Oil Stocks Consumption Cover
22 Mar 2022
https://crudeoilpeak.info/australian-oil-stocks-consumption-cover

9/12/2021
Australia crude oil import vulnerabilities Sep 2021 data
http://crudeoilpeak.info/australia-crude-oil-import-vulnerabilities-sep-2021-data

15/2/2021
Exxon-Mobil’s refinery closure in Australia: peak oil context
https://crudeoilpeak.info/exxon-mobils-refinery-closure-in-australia-peak-oil-context

14/11/2020
Australia’s BP Kwinana refinery closure: peak oil context
https://crudeoilpeak.info/australias-bp-kwinana-refinery-closure-peak-oil-context

Digging In: Why powering a green future means more mines

Digging In: Why powering a green future means more mines

“It’s absolutely ironic. But to save the planet, we are going to need more mines.”  Government geoscientist

Around Australia new mining operations are being established and old sites, shuttered decades ago, are being brought back to life.  These miners aren’t digging for coal or gold, they’re hunting for other lucrative commodities – known as critical minerals.

“Critical minerals (are) everything you use for electric vehicles, for transport, for manufacturing.  We’re really at the start of what could be a new mining boom.”  Minerals lobbyist

If you own a mobile phone, if you power your home with renewable energy or drive an electric vehicle, then these minerals are already playing a key part in your life.

And they will play a vital role in all our futures.

But there is a hidden cost?

“We have to decide as a country. How valuable is a place and is it worth risking for mining?”  Research scientist

On Monday Four Corners investigates the new critical minerals mining boom and finds Australia is in the box seat to exploit a surge in worldwide demand.

“Australia is still the luckiest country. Last century we were the luckiest because we had all the coal and a huge amount of natural gas… what we know the future needs is things that Australia also has in spades.”  US energy policy adviser

From lithium mines in WA and the NT, to cobalt operations in NSW and tin mining in Tasmania, these critical minerals are not just making major profits, they’re playing a part in the super power rivalry between America and China.

“China has always known the value of critical minerals.  We are moving into a period now of geopolitical competition, everybody is looking for leverage. The Chinese are quite explicit about that.”  China analyst

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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