May 11 News: Climate-ravaged Australia pares deficit by cutting funding for solar, low-carbon programs!

Constellation to build largest U.S. solar rooftop project

Australia Cuts Funding for Renewable Energy Programs to Reduce Spending

Australia’s government reduced its funding for solar-power plant projects to curtail spending.

Funding for the Solar Flagships program will be cut by A$220 million ($239 million) over the next two years, according to Treasurer Wayne Swan’s budget papers released yesterday.

Solar Flagships was announced in 2009 as a A$1.5 billion project to support the construction of as many as four large scale, grid-connected solar power stations in Australia.

The government is expected to announce the successful recipients of the funding in mid-2011. The program is intended to help meet a target of generating 20 percent of the country’s power from renewable energy by 2020.

“This is a disappointing federal budget for the solar industry,” John Grimes, chief executive of the Australian Solar Energy Society, said in a statement. “The Solar Flagships Program has been the subject of funding cuts, funding restorations and funding cuts. Another unnecessary solar policy roller-coaster.”

Funding for the Carbon Capture and Storage Flagships program will be cut by A$670.9 million over five years, according to the papers. The program aims to support the construction of as many as four projects with an electricity generating capacity of 1,000 megawatts.

The government has also pushed back a A$100 Renewable Energy Venture Capital Fund to 2023-2024 to assist early-stage renewable energy companies. It has increased funding for the Emerging Renewables program by A$60 million to A$100 million.

As I noted in an earlier post — Australia to cut, delay $500 million of clean-energy funding after record warming-driven floods — the government’s own Bureau of Meteorology released data showing that the warmest sea surface temperatures on record were fueling floods called ‘biblical’ “” floods covering an area “the size of France and Germany combined.” But in the most counterproductive decision imaginable, the government is cutting funding for clean energy programs “to help pay for reconstruction after the nation’s worst floods.”

Constellation to Build Largest U.S. Solar Rooftop Project in New Jersey

Constellation Energy Group Inc. (CEG), which agreed to be bought by Exelon Corp., is building the largest U.S. rooftop solar-energy project, at a Toys “R” Us Inc. distribution center in New Jersey.

Constellation will use 37,000 solar panels from Energy Conversion Devices Inc. (ENER) for the 5.38-megawatt project, Paramus, New Jersey-based Toys “R” Us said today in a statement. The system is expected to meet about 72 percent of the Flanders center’s power needs.

The rooftop system would be the largest at a single building when complete, overtaking SunPower Corp. (SPWRA)’s 4.8-megawatt array that’s being built on top of Glimcher Realty Trust (GRT)’s Jersey Gardens mall, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association.

NH Senate considers repealing cap-and-trade

Legislation to end New Hampshire’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is coming up for a vote in the state Senate.

New Hampshire is one of 10 Northeastern states participating in the program aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Under the program, generators must reduce pollution or bid at auction for allowances giving them the right to produce certain amounts of carbon dioxide.

The Senate is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a House bill that would end the state’s participation in the program. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 3-2 to recommend killing the bill.

Senate Republican Leader Jeb Bradley proposes changing the law instead. Bradley would narrow the energy efficiency programs qualifying for money under the law.

Gov. John Lynch opposes repealing the law.

US legislation would slash subsidies to oil companies

Democrats in the US Senate proposed on Tuesday eliminating billions of dollars in government subsidies to large oil companies, and using the money to reduce the budget deficit.

Their bill, which could come to a vote by next week, proposes to save $21 billion over 10 years in tax breaks to Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, Chevron and Conoco Phillips.

“We’re serious about reducing the deficit,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said a few hours after the bill was introduced by fellow Democrats Robert Menendez, Claire McCaskill and Sherrod Brown.

“It’s really a no-brainer,” Reid continued. “Let’s use these savings from the taxpayer giveaways to drive down the deficit, not drive up oil companies’ profits.”

Dems plot to get $21B from Big Oil

Senate Democrats announced a proposal Tuesday to repeal $21 billion in tax incentives over 10 years for the five biggest oil and gas companies and use that money to reduce the deficit.

The plan goes after some of the same industry tax incentives that Democrats and President Barack Obama have been targeting for years. The message is also largely the same as when gas prices hit $4 per gallon three years ago: Taxpayers don’t need to foot the bill to help companies earning tens of billions of dollars in profits annually.

“This bill “¦ presents some pretty simple questions for policymakers: Do you think working class families should be the only people sacrificing to lower the deficit?” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) told reporters. “It’s time that the big five do the right thing for a change and pay their fair share.”

Democrats are able to point to big profits earned by the five companies “” ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips and Chevron Texaco “” during the first quarter of fiscal year 2011.

US seeks cooperation in fast-changing Arctic

The Arctic could become the next great international battleground for resources, with melting icecaps opening new shipping routes, fishing grounds and, most significantly, some of the world’s richest and as yet unexplored oil and gas deposits.

So far, the United States, Russia and other nations near the North Pole are trying to work together. They’ll take a baby step in that direction this week by agreeing to the first international treaty covering the Arctic Sea, a coordinated search-and-rescue pact that will grow in importance as more cargo and cruise ships start navigating the cold waters.

“We want to send a message in a post-Cold War world that the Arctic is a region of cooperation, not conflict,” said Jim Steinberg, the deputy U.S. secretary of state.

The message will be a cautious one, however.

House drilling fight part deux

The House is expected to approve two offshore drilling bills Wednesday, part of a broader GOP effort to dramatically expand domestic oil-and-gas production.

Lawmakers began debate Tuesday night on a series of amendments to a bill to require that the Interior Department act on permit requests within 30 days. The bill includes two 15-day extensions, but a permit would be deemed approved if the department has not acted within 60 days.

A vote on final passage of the bill is expected Wednesday.

19 Responses to May 11 News: Climate-ravaged Australia pares deficit by cutting funding for solar, low-carbon programs!

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    Wow. Talk about penny wise and pound foolish.

    The human capacity for self deception is almost infinite.

  2. George Ennis says:

    This is why I think Paul Gilding was too optimistic about the human capacity to deal with the ever looming climate catastrophe. If the response to the extreme weather events in Australia push its government to reduce funding for solar and low-carbon programs, what will it take to move any government?

    If they had simply left the existing programs in intact then that might be some grounds (however flimsy) for hope but to slash them?????

    In the province of Ontario (where I live) the provincial Conservative party which is currently the official opposition is committed to slashing most of the provinces green technology programs if it is elected after the fall election this year. Currently they are way ahead in the polls.

  3. Solar Jim says:

    As regards economic policy in battered Australia, drilling for hydrocarbon materials in the Arctic, and proposed rapid offshore drilling approvals in the US it is repeatedly apparent that human capacity for arrogance, ignorance and greed is infinite.

    Maybe someday Hydrocarbon Man will be opposed by Ecological Woman.

  4. Prokaryotes says:

    Researchers calculate horrendous liability costs for nuclear power

    For the first time researchers have examined the financial sector, how much liability insurance for a nuclear power plant would be. The result: it is about tens of billions of € – and ultimately paid by the citizens.,1518,761826,00.html&usg=ALkJrhgBnlUUT-rT3vAkmTrpPnk-vipgYA

  5. George Ennis says:

    On a separate note this is an article from today’s Globe And Mail regarding flooding in the Canadian province of Manitoba. Understand that Manitoba has consistently invested in flood mitigation since the 1950s. Despite that it appears that in some places that was not enough. The flooding is being described as a once in 300 year event.

  6. paulm says:

    @5 I think we have reached some sort of threshold with extreme flooding. It looks like 1F is it.

    From now on in we are going to have these floods, worldwide, on a constant basis ie every 1 – 7 yrs.
    Are we prepared for this?

    And to boot, its going to get worse with each year now mostly.

    A few of my ‘denier’ ‘avoider’ friends (ie basically all friends) have suddenly started to realize just what GW is all about.

    I think everyone including us here (and the vatican) are startled at what is happening right now in terms of extreme weather and what it means.

  7. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I love your stuff Solar Jim #3 and while it is theoretically possible to get back to the ecologically harmonious way which was often associated with matriarchal and matrilineal cultures, or the Archetype of the Great Mother as Jung called it, I doubt that we still have the time to do anything more than make a dent in the current structural disaster.

    There are so many people who believe there is no alternative to our dominant form of organization and so many people who believe it is ‘human nature’ to behave like greedy idiots, we can work only with the courageous minority who know in their bones there is a different way. But you never know and hope is essential, ME

  8. CW says:

    A lot of people are assuming that we’ll eventually wake up and finally face climate change when the disasters start to hit harder and more often.

    Is that a reasonable assumption?

  9. paulm says:

    And the rain continues right across the world….

    looding Rain Threat in South China, Southeast Asia

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I’m relieved by the ‘Labor’ Party’s gutting of renewable energy. For a while, after her excellent Don Dunstan Oration, I had to face the possibility that Julia Gillard was, in fact, a knowledgeable and principled politician (and thus ‘one of a kind’ in these parts). Now I see that all’s right with the world, and that, in the fashion now de rigeur with all politicians in capitalist economies, she was just having us on. It was, Obama, Cameron and Rudd style, all pretense, fooling the suckers for an interval, while the real, the sole business of governance, serving the rich owners of society goes on, unhindered. The pathocrats do not want renewable energy-it lessens the return from their fossil fuel interests. End of discussion. The rest is ‘smoke and mirrors’, through which we can see, darkly, the approaching horror. Gillard will be long gone when it hits, because she stands for nothing but opportunism, couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery, and has all the charisma of a week old mullet. It’s what comes next that ought to frighten us.

  11. paulm says:

    It’s down to leadership…its the only reasonable path now….

    Lester Brown, author of “Plan B”, tells a story about US President Roosevelt one month after Pearl Harbour. After announcing that 45,000 tanks, 60,000 planes and 20,000 artillery guns would be needed for the war effort, Roosevelt called the captains of the car industry (who represented a large portion of the US industrial capacity at the time) to discuss how this would be achieved. The manufacturers said it would be difficult to achieve those numbers while still making their 2 or so million cars a year. Roosevelt explained: “You don’t understand. We’re going to ban the sale of private automobiles in the United States.” And so he did, and the arms goals were achieved. Speculate as you wish about the course of history had Roosevelt taken the path of least immediate resistance. While this demonstrates the power of leadership, one wonders what kind of media campaign would be brought out today by those industrialists, and how a political opponent would respond.

  12. Cassie says:

    Please help me by completing this solar energy system survey for University.
    Feel free to pass the link on too.

  13. Colorado Bob says:

    How nuclear disaster forced Japan to be frugal with energy

    The Fukushima nuclear disaster forces a re-think not just of the kind of energy we use, but how much

  14. Colorado Bob says:

    WINNIPEG, Manitoba, May 12 (UPI) — Canada’s central province of Manitoba braced Thursday for the worst seasonal flooding in 300 years, local officials said.

    Read more:

  15. Colorado Bob says:

    A reactor at Japan’s crippled nuclear plant has been more badly damaged than originally thought, operator Tepco has said.

    Water is leaking from the pressure vessel surrounding reactor 1 – probably because of damage caused by exposed fuel rods melting, a spokesman said.

    But a spokesman for the power giant said when a faulty gauge had been repaired, it showed water levels in the pressure vessel 5m (16ft) below the level needed to cover fuel rods.

    “All the fuel is unprotected at this point and the water levels are below that,” said Junichi Matsumoto.

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