mfioretti: australia*

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  1. Developed in partnership with Law Professor Camilla Andersen from the University of Western Australia, Aurecon’s employment contracts are legally binding contracts in which Aurecon and its employees are represented by characters – free of legal jargon and akin to a comic strip format.

    "Aurecon is the first company in Australia to do anything like this, and globally this is the first time a visual employment contract has been focused at all levels of an organisation in a commercial context," said Professor Camilla Andersen.

    With workplace polls often indicating a lack of meaningful employee engagement and trust, according to Aurecon’s Global Chief People Officer Liam Hayes, “The issue of engaging our talent and building their trust is becoming one of the biggest competitive differentiators across many industries and companie
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  2. The difference in January was that there is a new player in the market: Tesla. The company’s big battery, officially known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve, bid into the market to ensure that prices stayed reasonable, as predicted last year.

    Rather than jumping up to prices of around $11,500 and $14,000/MW, the bidding of the Tesla big battery – and, in a major new development, the adjoining Hornsdale windfarm – helped (after an initial spike) to keep them at around $270/MW.

    This saved several million dollars in FCAS charges, which are paid by other generators and big energy users, in a single day.

    And that’s not the only impact. According to state government’s advisor, Frontier Economics, the average price of FCAS fell by around 75% in December from the same month the previous year. Market players are delighted, and consumers should be too, because they will ultimately benefit.

    Ed McManus, the CEO of Meridian Australia and Powershop Australia, which operates the Mt Millar windfarm in South Australia, says the Tesla big battery is already having a “phenomenal” impact.

    “If you look at FCAS … the costs traditionally in South Australia have been high …. and our costs in the last couple of years have gone from low five-figures annually to low six-figures annually. It’s a hell of a jump,” McManus said in this week’s RenewEconomy’s Energy Insiders podcast.

    “That plays into the thinking of new players looking to come in to South Australia to challenge the incumbents. FCAS charges are on their minds.

    “It’s a little early to tell, but it looks like from preliminary data that the Tesla big battery is having an impact on FCAS costs, bringing them down … that is a very, very significant development for generation investment and generation competition in South Australia,” McManus said.
    South Australia turns on Tesla's 100MW battery: 'History in the making'
    Read more

    There is no doubt that the actions of the Tesla big battery in the FCAS market will please the state government, which signed a contract with Tesla to address just this issue. And it may be able to repeat the dose with the newly announced 250MW “virtual power plant”, also to be built by Tesla.

    If it can keep a lid on FCAS prices like it did in January, then it will likely pay back the cost of the battery in a single year from this service alone, let alone the value of its trading in the wholesale market, and the value of its emergency backup capabilities.

    It’s just another string in the bow of the Tesla big battery, following its devastatingly fast response to trips of major coal-fired generators (it was in the market again on Saturday night after Vales Point in New South Wales tripped), its ability to go to capacity from a standing start in milliseconds, and its smoothing of wind output and trading in the wholesale market.

    These graphs below explain what has been happening in the FCAS market in the past year, and what happened on 14 January.
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  3. The TPP is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade agreement between 12 countries — the United States, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru — that has been coined by anti-TPP activists as NAFTA on steroids. NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) was a trade agreement signed in 1994 by the United States, Mexico and Canada that displaced over 2 million farmers and agricultural workers in Mexico. Family farmers in the United States and Canada also struggled and lost income while large-scale farmers and agricultural corporations thrived. The TPP is expected to have similar effects on a much larger scale.

    The government and mainstream media have reported that the TPP will benefit the agriculture sector. But what they are not saying is that the sector of the agriculture system that will benefit is the industrial system that harms people and the planet.

    The United States is highly reliant on industrial agriculture, which means those 12 countries going into the agreement will be pitting their small-scale farmers against our large-scale farming practices. This will force small-scale farmers out of business and off their lands strengthening the industrial agricultural machine. The industrial food system drives climate change; we cannot break our reliance on industrial food without first breaking our reliance on unjust free trade agreements. So it is not the organic, regenerative, biodiverse farmer who provides your CSA or morning coffee who will benefit.
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  4. Con il sistema manuale implementato ad oggi, inviare una notifica ad un utente che abusi del P2P costa come un DVD: per questo l'industria del copyright australiana preferisce puntare sulla repressione dei siti pirata
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2016-03-09)
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  5. all of the oil we use to power our modern lives comes from living creatures such as algae – albeit ones that lived 3.5 billion years ago, before gradually morphing into fossil fuel.

    But when we talk about algae biofuel, we mean the green, renewable and sustainable version, rather than traditional fossil crude oil. The main requirements for making algae biofuel are: lots of sunlight, plenty of space, and easy access to the sea. Australia is an algae gardener’s paradise.

    To scale up any new technology, we need to consider not just whether we can make it, but also whether it is worth doing. Unfortunately, this involves rather dry concepts like productivity, efficiency, energy balance, and supply chain dynamics. These are critical to the development of business models for new technologies, but sadly they don’t translate easily into language that politicians are interested in.

    In the absence of a benevolent billionaire, the private sector is unlikely to take on the risks involved in bringing these emerging technologies to scale. This means that some form of government support is critical. With renewable energy investment growing ever more politically contentious, what are the incentives for spending scarce taxpayer dollars on something like this?

    Commercial algae biofuel production is now a challenge of scale. The prize is phenomenal. Algae ponds covering an area the size of Sydney could satisfy the entire crude oil demand of Australia, which would do wonders for both sustainability and security of supply – currently, 82% of crude oil is imported (see table 2 here).

    Pink productivity: the world’s largest algae farm. Steve Back (used with permission)
    Click to enlarge

    We know that large-scale algae cultivation is achievable. The largest algae facility in the world is at Hutt Lagoon in Western Australia, where 740 hectares of algae ponds are used to produce the food supplement beta-carotene.

    Our analysis shows that algae biofuel facilities would create local rural jobs, while also activating sectors of the broader economy associated with equipment, trade and business services.

    Then there is the environmental benefit: our study shows that the combustion of 1 tonne of algae oil instead of traditional crude oil would prevent the emission of 1.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

    Investing in algae biofuel production is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable, and will provide a much-needed stimulus to the economy while creating much-needed quality jobs in rural areas. Surely every politician would be persuaded by at least something on this list.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-08-05)
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  6. Never before in the history of Catholicism has a papal document attracted as much attention, even before it has been released. The document, entitled Lautado Sii (Praised be), is to be released this Thursday, with a leaked draft already having appeared in the press.

    The reason for this interest is the strong indication that Pope Francis will be taking a definite stand on what for some remains a controversial issue, the question of human-induced climate change. On present indications, and consistent with previous papal comments, the document will place climate change within the larger framework of a global economic system that promotes overconsumption. Meanwhile, the poor not only lack the basics needed for life, but will carry the main burden of the effects of climate change.
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  7. About 20% of the Australian population speaks a language other than English. In fact, around 250 languages are spoken in homes around the country. This would seem to be cause for celebration. After all, successive governments have spent millions trying to increase the numbers of students studying languages in schools. However there is little connection between the languages taught in schools, and the languages spoken in homes.

    There is a clear hierarchy of languages in Australia. English is at the top. Next are the “classical” languages like French and German, particularly when learned at school. These are followed by languages deemed useful for Australia’s economic prosperity - e.g. Chinese, Indonesian and Japanese - but only if they are being learned as “foreign” languages. Because that is quite clever, learning a foreign language.

    But if they are languages already spoken in the home, they slip down the hierarchy of languages, into the community languages pile along with about 245 other languages. Somewhere towards the bottom of that community languages pile are the Indigenous languages of Australia, about which most Australians know nothing.

    The chances of those 245 community languages surviving in Australia are remote. Australia is remarkably adept at wiping out languages. Of the 250 Indigenous languages in existence at the time of British colonisation, only around 20 remain viable today. The languages immigrants bring with them are usually dead within two generations.
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  8. Ninety per cent of Australia’s current coal reserves will need to be left in the ground for Australia to play its role in limiting warming to no more than 2C. That’s according to a report released today by the Climate Council, “Unburnable Carbon: why we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground”.

    The new report uses a “carbon budget” approach. This figures out how much carbon can be let into the atmosphere while limiting warming to 2C, and is a different method to the “targets and timetables” method favoured by international climate negotiations. These are are highly complex and difficult to interpret and put into practice.

    Energy policies that continue to support substantial fossil fuel use are inconsistent with tackling climate change. A case in point is the proposed coal expansion in the Galilee Basin, which is not viable economically if the carbon budget is respected. The Galilee coal is lower quality and high cost to extract, meaning under a carbon budget limiting warming to 2C other reserves would be more viable, leaving other assets stranded like beached whales.

    But there is hope. Limiting global warming to no more than 2C – a goal Australia shares with 194 other countries – can open up opportunities for the Australian economy to prosper.

    For example, many of Australia’s coal-fired power plants are inefficient and nearing the end of their lifetimes, while concurrently the costs of renewable energy technologies such as rooftop solar and wind continue to fall. Work by ClimateWorks Australia and ANU shows Australia can decarbonise the economy with little or no cost through energy efficiency, low-carbon electricity (renewables, nuclear and carbon capture and storage), and electrification and fuel switching (from petrol to electricity or biofuel).
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  9. The emissions of a Tesla turn out to be a good indicator of the cleanliness of the Australian grid. Tasmania, with 70% hydro, and SA with its 30% wind power make Victoria stick out like a sore thumb with more than 50% brown coal electricity and emissions of 1.18 kg of CO2 per kilowatt hour (according to the federal Department of Environent and the Australian Energy Regulator).

    About 87% of Australia’s electricity is currently generated by burning fossil fuels, resulting in average emissions of 0.85 kgCO2 per kWh. This will have to come down for electric cars to have an impact on our emissions. It’s something that’s starting to happen with the massive expansion in rooftop solar. Indeed, if you charged your Tesla with your own solar panels you’d be cruising pretty cleanly.

    Of course, the fairer comparison for a Tesla isn’t a super-efficient small car, but something more like a luxury sedan with grunt.
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  10. focus needs to shift from the second 50 years of life to the first 50 years – that is, preventing the things that are preventable and preserving constrained resources for those which are not.”

    She gave the example of emerging research into the microbiome – 1.5 kilograms of flora predominately in the gut. This suggested “that the first 1000 days of life are even more determinant than we realised in terms of genetic expression, a robust immune system, and lifetime avoidance of conditions such as arthritis and obesity”.

    Scientific advances allowing prevention and protection could be applied in conjunction with technologies empowering consumers to take control of their health from early on.

    “This means we need to move the system from a transactional fee for service model to a fee for outcome model that offers providers the incentives to keep people well as part of a more shared responsibility model for health

    Livingstone said the discontinuity between education and work was perhaps more relevant when formal education for most ended at age 15, with only a small proportion of people going to university, and degrees being three years.

    “It is not helpful now, with over 30% of students at university and degrees of four and five years.

    “Given that the late teens and early twenties is a period of very high innovative thinking capacity, not to have these young people participating in the workplace in some way is a waste of intellectual capital and a loss of productive capacity.”

    She also pointed to the need to close the increasing gap between the digital literacy of young Australians and that of competitor nations - essential to tackling structural youth unemployment.

    To achieve the needed shifts “our national preoccupation with class sizes needs to be replaced with a national obsession with teacher quality, teaching standards, learning methods and curriculum”.

    Livingstone said the concept of retirement required rethinking
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