Renewable energy: solar thermal power for Port Augusta

For the past five years we’ve been tracking the superb renewable energy activism of the Port Augusta community in South Australia in their quest for a solar thermal power station.

2016 marked the end of six decades of coal-fired power generation at Port Augusta and now we finally have the announcement of a replacement that will provide dispatchable renewable energy, using CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) technology.

It’s quite brave leadership from the South Australian State Government. They’ve had to put up with a year of denigration and ridicule from the Federal Government for an ambitious transition-to-renewables program. But they’ve pushed on relentlessly, culminating in the announcement of the world’s biggest battery storage last month and now the solar with storage plant announced this week.

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Finkel and the Australian climate deadlock: still not heading towards zero emissions

In their submission to the Finkel Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market, the Climate Council made it clear that a rapid transition to net zero emissions is the priority:

To protect Australians from worsening climate impacts (eg more destructive storms, intense heatwaves and worsening bushfire conditions) and in line with our Paris Agreement commitments and carbon budget constraints, Australia needs pathways to transition as rapidly as possible away from coal, oil and gas to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

But the Finkel review has little to say about our Paris Agreement commitments. Instead it focuses on ensuring a reliable electricity grid and reducing the price of electricity.

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24-hour solar on demand: an update on Solastor plans for Port Augusta

In June 2016 I reported on the launch of the Solastor 24-hour solar-on-demand project that was planned for Port Augusta in South Australia. At the time of the launch the plan was to have a pilot plant in operation by the end of the year. In November 2016 Solastor advised that they were likely to go ahead with the main project rather than doing the pilot first.

Today I checked in with Steve Hollis, CEO of Solastor, for an update on progress.

Brian:  Your Port Augusta plans outlined in your June 2016 launch were for 1,700 collector tower modules which were expected to generate 110MW in winter and 170MW in summer. Is that still the plan?

Steve:  The proposal is now to stage the project starting with a 100MW power station with 800 modules. This would do just under 50MW for 24 hours in winter and over 70MW in summer. More importantly, it will do 100MW for shorter times per day (peak hours) which is when the need is greatest.

This configuration could (would) be “cut and pasted” 5 times to give 500MW and completely replace the old to power station. Continue reading

Five paradoxes about the state of the media

We are living in a time full of threats – and unprecedented possibilities, especially when it comes to the state of the media. Let’s consider five paradoxes, in no particular order.

Is print dead or reviving?

Rumours of the death of print magazines and newspapers have been circulating for years – but many of us are still here. What’s more, we are seeing signs of a renaissance in independent, alternative print magazines and hyperlocal newspapers.

The internet, that great disrupting technology, has prompted print’s decline, cannibalizing the revenue of publishers. After all, why buy news in print when you get it all for free online? The proportion of readers actually prepared to pay for news online (nine per cent) cannot replace those who used to buy print.1

But the internet has also been amazing for media like ours. In the days before the worldwide web, we never imagined that two million people a year would be reading our content and getting our kind of journalism, rooted in social, economic, global and environmental justice. Continue reading

A new model for the future of independent media

It’s a huge day for our colleagues in the New Internationalist office in Oxford UK. That’s where the magazine’s editorial team is based and where New Internationalist books and the famous One World Calendar are produced.

Today they are launching their #factsandheart Community Share Offer. It’s a fascinating new model for the ownership of independent media, and a chance for supporters of the New Internationalist to become co-owners.
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We need to talk about undies

Yes, your undies are a very private thing. Comfort and style are immensely important, and no doubt you’ll have a strong personal preference. But we do need to talk about undies.

Do you know what nasties are riding along with your favourite undies?

Residual chemicals in clothing

It’s a significant issue in clothing, particularly for people with sensitive skin, and especially in underwear that hugs our skin so closely. So much so that Choice recommends:

wash any new clothes twice before wearing, although washing won’t remove certain types of chemicals

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A chat with Sir Tim Smit – co-founder of the Eden Project

Today I had a chat with Sir Tim Smit, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of the Eden Project, ahead of his forthcoming presentation for the Planet Talks at WOMADelaide 2017.

In the prologue to his book, Eden, two sentences stand out, and they sum up the spirit of our chat: “Neither do I make any apology for being optimistic about the future. I am.”

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Why we’re so enthusiastic about our Fair Trade partnerships

I want to share with you a few of the reasons we’re so enthusiastic about our Fair Trade partnerships, and why we’re eager to have your ongoing support. Continue reading

Ebola, as told by Sierra Leoneans

Our special edition of the New Internationalist magazine – Sierra Leone rebuilds post-Ebola – is something of a journalistic experiment. It’s the product of a collaboration with a remarkable group of Sierra Leonean citizen reporters. Trained by media advocates On Our Radar, they give us a privileged insight into the aftershocks of Ebola in this corner of West Africa.

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New plans for solar thermal at Port Augusta

On 7th June 2016 another important step was taken towards decarbonising the South Australian economy. Solastor Australia announced detailed plans to build a solar thermal power station at Port Augusta.
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