Hot or not? Australia 2014

Welcome to 2014/ Australia's scary heatwave starts the New Year.

Welcome to 2014. Australia’s scary heatwave starts the New Year.

Australia’s new year has brought in sweltering conditions, with temperatures near 50°C in regional South Australia, and a heatwave predicted for Queensland.

According to the weather bureau, the mercury at Tarcoola in central South Australia hit 48.9°C (120°F) on Wednesday afternoon, while Oodnadatta reached 47.7C and Coober Pedy posted 47.4C.

The fire danger rating in South Australia reached catastrophic level, with gale force winds from former Tropical Cyclone Christine creating challenging conditions.

More here.

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‘World’s biggest solar plant’ for Australia

Worley Parsons, an Australian engineering firm, has announced plans to build what it says would be the world’s biggest solar plant in Australia within three years.

Backed by nine Australian companies, including miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, they have launched a study into finding possible sites to host the $1 billion plant.

The Managing Director of the Worley Parson’s sustainability arm, Peter Meurs, says the project is ambitious.

“Each power station could provide power for 300,000 homes — and our vision is that Australia’s a suitable place for this and we could build up to 34 of these power stations by 2020.

“The ideal location for a thermal solar power station is a desert type location, you want maximum solar with the least cloud cover or interference and our dry desert locations are ideal,” he said.

Green’s Climate Change spokeswoman, Christine Milne says it is a big boost for the renewable energy sector and should be supported by the Federal Government.

“This is really an acknowledgment that clean coal is never going to be achievable and the coal industry itself is leapfrogging clean coal and recognising the power of renewable energy and solar thermal in particular,” she said.

[From ABC News]