Monday, 31 December 2007

Never mind the weatherman

Sydney Morning Herald
Wednesday 19/12/2007 Page: 12

WHEN it comes to renewable energy it has long been a case of use it or lose it - until now. Two companies - one using solar energy, the other using wind energy - are deploying new technology to crack the problem of how to preserve excess energy and make what has been a feelgood exercise for individuals into a viable power source for entire communities.

Storage for renewable energy has largely been limited to compressing air underground, where it can later be released under pressure, or pumping water high above ground and capturing the energy in turbines when gravity pulls the water back down. Both techniques are effective, but they require suitable locations and much infrastructure.

The new solution, developed over the past six years by an Australian scientist, Robert Lloyd, overcomes the obstacles by harnessing energy that would be wasted. It uses graphite - as in graphite pencils - to absorb and retain heat for extended periods. The energy can then be redeployed as superheated steam that spins a turbine on demand rather than merely when the wind blows or the sun shines. "By using this energy storage system... we can add significant value to solar or wind energy so it is worth more in the market... " says the chief executive of Lloyd Energy Storage, Steve Hollis.

His company is designing renewable energy sites for Cloncurry in north-western Queensland, and Lake Cargelligo in western NSW. The Queensland project is set to make Cloncurry, population 4828, the first town in Australia to depend exclusively on solar power. Nearly 7200 mirrors will aim sunlight into holes in the bottoms of 54 elevated graphite cubes and heat them to up to 1800 degrees for steam turbines.

Similarly, CBD Energy, which has licensed the Lloyd technology, will build a windpowered version of the graphite system on King Island. The island, 85 kilometres north-west of Tasmania, relies primarily on diesel to generate power for its 1800 residents. The $15 million joint venture between CBD Energy and Hydro Tasmania will not make the island wholly powered by renewable energy, but it aims to eliminate the need for 1.25 megalitres of diesel fuel a year, says CBD's chief engineer, John Giannasca.

To achieve this, CBD will install two megawatts of wind turbines to supplement an existing system as well as six graphite blocks, each one the size of a standard shipping container. A few solar panels will be also be available for periods when the island is without wind. All of these would feed a 250-kilowatt steam turbine for power, Giannasca says. CBD Energy would heat its graphite blocks to 800 degrees.

Pacific Hydro fund donates $46,000

Moyne Gazette
Thursday 20/12/2007 Page: 2

Pacific Hydro's Sustainable Communities Fund has donated almost $46,000 to nine groups and organisations that serve the communities around the company's wind farms at Codrington and Yambuk. Local sporting clubs were rewarded, receiving the largest individual grants.

Pacific Hydro executive manager Andrew Richards said the company's sustainable communities fund allowed the company to provide practical support to groups which were working to achieve positive outcomes in their communities. "Our sustainable communities fund aims to support programs that encourage sustainability at a social level, so we are very proud to see sporting clubs, who play a pivotal role in encouraging community participation, feature strongly this year," Mr Richards said.

The groups to receive large grants included the Port Fairy Amateur Basketball Association that received $8615 to upgrade a scoreboard and shot clocks. Moyne Health Services received $5000 to support an outdoor recreation program for the elderly and the Yambuk Recreation Reserve was granted $8000 to fund a commnunity fitness project.

Other grants included: Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail Committee, supporting the development of the project, $3350; Ex Libris Port Fairy Book Fair, support for book fair, $1000; Port Fairy Agricultural, Pastoral and Horticultural Society, supporting installation of water tank, $5000; Moyneyana Festival, supporting CBD Live at the festival, $5000; Port Fairy Cycling Club, supporting the 100km Cycling Championships, $5000 and the Belfast Aquatic Centre, purchase of fitness equipment for the centre's studio, $5000.

This year is the third year of Pacific Hydro's Sustainable Community Fund. The prograin provides a portion of revenue from the company's wind farms at Codrington and Yambuk to the local community through support for education, sporting, cultural and environmental projects. The program will run for the life of the wind farms and has already provided in excess of $100,000 to local groups and organisations within the local area. "We always receive very large numbers of applications for a range of very worthwhile projects," Mr Richards said. "While it is never possible to fund everything, we aim to support a range of projects that are in line with the fund guidelines." he said.

Third wind farm

Ararat Advertiser
Tuesday 18/12/2007 Page: 1

RES Australia Pty Ltd has announced its intention to move forward with preparing a Planning Permit Application for a wind farm seven kilometres northeast of Ararat. Residents of the area will soon get the chance to learn more about plans to build a wind farm on the ridges of farmland adjacent to the Pyrenees Highway. RES Australia has commenced detailed site investigations into a wind farm of around 50 turbines and associated wind farm infrastructure.

If the project goes ahead, it will unlock a $250 million investment within Ararat Rural City Council and Northern Grampians Shire Council areas. The project will produce clean green electricity without pollution, for about 40,000 homes and will contribute to Victoria's renewable energy target. "RES Australia has assessed many potential sites in Victoria and after extensive feasibility studies we identified that the Ararat ridges are likely to be a suitable location for a windfarm." Sedat Erol, wind farm developer with RES Australia and responsible for preparing the permit application, said.

In addition our research indicates that there is broad support among the local community for a windfarm in the area. RES Australia commissioned a study of community perceptions and we found that more than 90 per cent of people are in favour of windfarms being developed in the region and more than 80 per cent of people would be in favour of a windfarm within 10 kilometres of their home.

"We will conduct a rigorous environmental assessment to ensure this is a world class project from all points of view. When the environmental assessment is complete. it will go on public exhibition and anyone who is interested will have an opportunity to comment. "As our plans progress, we will keep the community up to date with newsletters, open days and our website. Details of our first open day will be made public in the New Year.

RES Australia commissioned Environmental Resources Management Pty Ltd and Reark Pty Ltd to prepare the Report on Community Perceptions towards Wind Farms in the Ararat Region, Victoria in October, 2007. The report found amongst other things that:
  • 94 per cent of respondents are in favour of wind farm projects being developed in southwestern Victoria.
  • 82 per cent of respondents are in favour of a wind farm within 10 kilometres from their home.
  • 71 per cent of respondents are in favour of a wind farm within one kilometre of their home.
Mr Erol also expressed the company's commitment to maximising the local economic benefit to the Ararat and the Northern Grampians regions. "We are committed to making sure that wherever possible we will use local people, business and expertise," he said. As we commence our detailed investigations, we are also launching a register of local tradespeople. We expect 40 - 50 jobs to be created during the construction phase and several ongoing jobs during the life of the wind farm for operations and maintenance. "Local people and businesses who believe they can provide services in fields such as earthworks, roads, concreting, electrical services, carpentry, steel fixing, fencing and accommodation may contact me to register.

On November 22 RES Australia submitted a Referral with the Victorian Minister for Planning requesting a decision on whether an Environmental Effects Statement will be required. A decision is expected around March. 2008. The Referral documentation, the community perceptions survey report and other project information are available on the RES Australia website

More details for the project will be published as detailed environmental, planning, engineering and consultation activities are conducted during next year. RES Australia hopes to have a Permit Application ready for submission by around mid- 2008. "Ararat Rural City Council welcomes responsible economic development investment into our community and the wider region," Ararat Rural City CEO Steve Chapple said. "Council has recently commenced discussions with RES Australia representatives seeking to investigate the establishment of a new 50 turbine wind farm in our municipality. Council looks forward to working with the proponents over the next few months as the application process evolves.

"The community will be provided ample opportunities to be consulted on the proposal. Our council and community are committed to clean renewable energy initiatives. As with all such wind farm applications of this size and scale, the Minister for Planning has final approval responsibility." Glen Davis, Chief Executive Officer of Northern Grampians Shire Council said the Northern Grampians Shire Council is supportive of low emission power generation.

"With two national parks and large areas of crops, pasture, shrubs and forests, Northern Grampians is proud of its ecological contribution in burying carbon, creating carbon credits," he said. "The Federal Government has emphasised Australia's need to reduce greenhouse gas emission.

The substitution of wind energy for coal-fired power generation (a source of much of Australia's carbon debits) is a major opportunity. The proposed carbon trading regime will be a market in which both low emissions and carbon credits will be economically rewarded. And the Victorian Government seeks to use wind energy for water desalination plants.

"Northern Grampians Shire supports these government initiatives. We also welcome investments that will create new jobs and enhance local employment opportunities. "The Shire looks forward to receiving and reviewing the planning application from RES for a wind farm in the Shire."

RES Australia is an independent wind farm operator in the local market. It is a subsidiary of the Renewable Energy Systems group of companies based in the United Kingdom.

Macedon Ranges urged to act

Midland Express
Tuesday 18/12/2007 Page: 5

The question of Wind Farms will be reconsidered for Macedon Ranges if a motion to go before tomorrow night's Council meeting finds support. Cr John Letchford intends to put up a motion to return the Wind Farm Policy to the next meeting of the Shire's Environment Advisory Committee for review, with any recommendations to come back to council by April 2008.

He attended a recent Australian Local Government Association conference on Climate Change and said the message from that gathering is loud and clear. "Councils were advised that the situation is worse than is generally thought to be," he said. "A key point which emerged from the conference is the need to act now. The cost of inaction, the 'do nothing' approach,' is that the situation will get worse," he said.

Cr Letchford is disappointed with what he describes as a 'softening' of emission targets last week at the Climate Change conference in Bali. He believes local government can show leadership on this issue and would like to see a co-operative effort between Macedon Ranges, Mount Alexander and Greater Bendigo councils to work for efficiencies between themselves and to push for action (and seek funding) from other levels of government.

"It would be really nice to have all of us driving this issue. We are close to Melbourne, we could have a working partnership along the Calder corridor - an active alliance between Macedon Ranges, Mount Alexander and Bendigo." Co-operation about waste management already has taken place. "There is an existing partnership which can grow," Cr Letchford said.

Cr Letchford said Macedon Ranges once held a leading position in dealing with climate change, but believes it has now fallen behind others in this aspect of government. "My determination is to make Macedon Ranges a leader again," he said. Cr Letchford sees wind farms as one renewable energy and cost efficient option which should be explored for Macedon Ranges.

Re believes that while there is a real sense of urgency for change, and in part thinks this can be achieved through education about what individuals can do. Re wants council to revisit the shire's environmental policies of the past and introduce a higher education component for the community. Establishment of an Innovation Committee early next year to identify problems and find solutions, is another initiative he would like to see happen.

"Macedon Ranges is ideally located to be a showcase of what can be done," he said. "Our community is environmentally aware and is really demanding we do something proactive. They have always supported our initiatives and have a really positive enthusiasm about this area." A further initiative Cr Letchford would like to implement relates to the demise of the present CDMA mobile phone system at the end of January. This aim is for council to establish recycling points where people can dispose of their old phones, parts of which can be reused.

Roaring 40s sticks to land operations

Hobart Mercury
Wednesday 19/12/2007 Page: 17

WIND-POWER generator Roaring 40s says it has no plans for any offshore wind-based energy, either in Australia or overseas. Roaring 40s spokesman Josh Bradshaw said all the company's interests were land-based, but it would monitor overseas developments on offshore wind farms. He was commenting on plans in Britain to generate enough electricity through offshore wind farms to power every home in the country by 2020. The British Government has said the extra turbines would change the coastline, but the need for energy self sufficiency left it no choice.

Roaring 40s was formed in 2005 through a partnership between Hydro Tasmania and China Light and Power Group. The company now has wind energy generation at more than 13 sites in Australia and overseas. In Tasmania, it has a wind farm at Woolnorth in the far North-West and pre-construction is beginning at Musselroe at Cape Portland in the state's North-East. Mr Bradshaw said Roaring 40s would like to start construction at Musselroe Wind Farm in the first three to six months of next year.

Local scenery proves picture-perfect

Albany & Great Southern Weekender
Thursday 13/12/2007 Page: 71

A LOCAL amateur photographer is turning his love of Albany's scenery into a potential business. Twenty-one-year-old Sam Piggott has already produced a postcard from a photo he took one day at the windfarm and has since been inspired to continue the venture. Having sold over 600 with only a few left to sell, Mr Piggott said he was surprised at the response he has received since he began selling them.

"I went out there one day with a friend and used his camera. It wasn't until I got it printed that I thought I should make it into a postcard," Mr Piggott said. "It's sort of a hobby of mine, producing postcards. "I've only got one from the windfarm at the moment, but somewhere down the track, I may take photos of other scenic places." The postcards, on sale at local news agencies and general stores in Albany, have been received positively by visitors and locals.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

New contract creating local jobs

Dalby Herald
Friday 14/12/2007 Page: 1

Major Metals is growing, thanks to a new contract to create wind towers. They are hiring 45 new staff, spending $20 million to expand their workshops, and will start creating pipes as long as football fields. The increased number of staff, from their current 30 workshop workers and six office staff, will include at least 35 new workshop workers with skills ranging from welding, crane operation, blasting and coating, rolling steel plates and cable connection. Six or seven senior staff will be appointed by Major Metals parent company RPG Australia, an integrated steel solutions company.

RPG Australia managing director Barry Cox said the lucrative contract to manufacture 43 wind towers for the Capital Wind Farm in New South Wales was a project that will provide a major boost to Dalby's economy, as well as increase Major Metals' percentage of output for RPG Australia, which has offices in Brisbane and Adelaide, to one-third of all national production.

Mr Cox said the expansion was set to begin in January next year,"be in fully fledged major production" by mid-year, and was progressing quickly, thanks in part to a very supportive Dalby Town Council. Mayor Cr Warwick Geisel, who was onsite for the official media announcement on Wednesday, was full of praise for the massive project. The wind towers being created will be made in four 65 tonne sections, and when assembled will be as long as football field, 80 metres high and 4.5 metres in diameter.

Each tower will be fully blasted, painted, coated, fitted with platforms, cables and ladders before they are transported to New South Wales. Addressing the skills shortage has been identified as potentially challenged and Major Metals have asked interested workers to call Ina Hirovanaa on 4662 5561 to find out more about possible positions. "We encourage anyone from experienced tradesmen to young locals looking to establish a career in an exciting new industry to make contact with us now." Mr Cox said.

Council signs green power deal: Clare and Gilbert Valleys the only Mid North council to join contract

Northern Argus
Wednesday 12/12/2007 Page: 17

The Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council is one of 24 local government bodies to enter into a three year $8 million contract for the supply of black and green energy. Clare and Gilbert Valleys is the only Mid North council to take up the offer from power supplier Powerdirect. The contract will start on January 1, 2008 and is for power supply to buildings and facilities which use more than 160 kilowatt hours of power annually.

The cost effective electricity supply includes 20 percent "Green Power" and has been made possible through bulk purchasing by participating councils through the Local Government Association. "While GreenPower is slightly more costly than traditional power supply the cost has been offset by the overall savings in the bulk purchase of power by Councils," Local Government Corporate Services chief executive officer, Paul Slater said.

"The new contract which has been carefully stitched together by Local Government Corporate Services, working with the various power retailers to achieve the best deal at the best price for the 24 Councils and their communities,"he said. "Councils are committed to achieving the target of 20 percent renewable energy before the 2014 deadline and with this contract more than one-third of councils will be energy compliant by 2008. In October, Premier Rann challenged councils to meet this target and I must say councils have risen magnificently to his challenge.

"One of the recommendations from the LGA's 2005 Independent Inquiry into the Financial Sustainability of Local Government was for Councils to look at ways of minimising operating costs by entering into collaborative approaches to service provision," Mr Slater said. "This new power supply contract with Power Direct meets this recommendation and will deliver cost and service advantages to communities."

In January this year 38 Councils opted to buy 20 percent of their electricity as GreenPower which represents 80 percent of Local Government electricity purchase in the State and is the environmental equivalent of taking 3900 cars off the road. Mr Slater said the new contract is in addition to the one signed in January. Greenpower is generated by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, water or biomass. In SA it is mostly wind energy.

Light safety bid for wind turbines

Warrnambool Standard
Saturday 15/12/2007 Page: 10

WIND turbines planned for near Port Fairy could be fitted with lights after a safety request from Australia's aviation authority. The safety measure was suggested last month by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority only days before an independent panel report regarding the 68-turbine development was expected to given to the Victorian Government for consideration. The wind development spans 3600ha of farmland bounded by the Port Fairy-Hamilton Road, Fingerboard Road and the Shaw River.

Strobe lights on the towers would point skyward to improve the wind farm's visibility for pilots approaching Warrnambool airport. The Australia project manager Adam Proctor this week said it was disappointing a decision on the project was going to be delayed because the authority changed its stance. The cost of the lighting was negligible but delays in planning approval would be costly, he said. A Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman said the request was not unusual and often lights were fitted to towers, buildings and structures in flight paths.

Uh-oh, we picked the wrong cure for coal

Australian Financial Review
Saturday 15/12/2007 Page: 25

There are three ways the coal industry will survive in an era calling for clean technologies. First, the CO2 could be converted into something valuable. Secondly, the burning of coal could be made much more efficient, resulting in less burning of coal. The third way involves somehow separating the CO2 from other exhaust gases, capturing it and transferring it to faraway locations to be pumped underground and left there indefinitely. It is thought to prove technically feasible, but whether it will be economically viable is another question.

The latest estimates suggest Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) would reduce the efficiency of coal-fired plants by as much as 25 per cent, meaning more coal would have to be burned. The CSIRO says CCS would double the cost of producing electricity. This is on top of the doubling in capital costs for building coal-fired plants that Rio Tinto says has occurred in just the last four years. Against the alternatives of wind, hot rock technology, and wave and solar power, it begins to look like the end of the road for coal is approaching.

There are coal alternatives such as carbon fuel-cell technology which dramatically increase efficiency, but these have received little attention and no funding. The other alternative, turning the CO2 into something valuable, has been looked at by Japanese researchers who have turned it into propane and butane and are aiming to make petrol. There is also a process using solar energy to create methanol. In Victoria Smorgon is ducting flue gases into bioreactors to feed algae, which can be either turned into biodiesel or used as biomass to generate electricity.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

High winds harnessed to cut emissions on the high seas

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 17/12/2007 Page: 4

THE world's first commercial merchant ship pulled by a giant kite that helps its engines to cut greenhouse gas emissions has been launched in Hamburg. The SkySails kite is designed to catch strong winds up to 300 metres above the surface of the sea. It is worth 500,000 ($840,000) and projected to cut fuel costs by about 20 per cent, or $US1600 ($1800) a day. Its designers say that it will reduce output of CO2 by a similar proportion.

Niels Stolberg, the chief executive of Beluga Shipping, which helped develop the system, said the shipping industry emitted 800 million tonnes of CO2, and this would rise above 1 billion tonnes in five years. "Playing a role in reducing emissions is important for us," he said. "It's important to look at the commercial side of this but also the CO2 aspect. In a few years shipping companies will have to cut emissions or pay a price." MV Beluga SkySails will make its maiden voyage across the Atlantic to Venezuela in January.

Its kite can use offshore winds with the help of its high-tech control pod but would be useless in head-on winds. The system would not benefit ships traveling faster than 16 knots. Mr Stolberg, who plans to install the kite system on two vessels twice as large as MV Beluga SkySails by 2009, said the fuel savings would cover the costs of the investment in three to five years.

More than 450 people crowded into the harbour and onto the ship on Saturday to witness the launch and watch the giant white sail tethered to a 15-metre mast near its bow unfold just above the deck in a gentle breeze. Stephan Wrage, the managing director of SkySails, got the idea to harness the wind years ago as a kite and sailing enthusiast. "Our goal is to have 1500 equipped by 2015," he said. "That would save a tremendous amount of CO2."

Big Oil talks clean but spends dirty: Petrol giants going brown

Sunday Age
Sunday 16/12/2007 Page: 21

Shell, the oil company that recently trumpeted its commitment to a low-carbon future by signing a pre-Bali conference communique, has quietly sold off most of its solar business. The move, taken with rival BP's decision a fortnight ago to invest in the world's dirtiest oil production, in Canada's tar sands, indicates that Big Oil might be giving up its flirtation with renewables and going back to its roots.

Shell and BP are among the biggest producers of greenhouse gases in the world, but both have been keen to paint themselves green through a series of clean fuel initiatives. BP, under its former chief executive, John Browne, promised to go "beyond petroleum" while Shell has spent millions advertising its serious interest in the future of the environment.

But at a time when interest in solar power is greater than ever, with the world's first "solar city" being built at Phoenix, Arizona, a small announcement from Environ Energy Global of Singapore revealed that it had bought Shell's photovoltaic operations in India and Sri Lanka, with more than 260 staff and 28 offices, for an undisclosed sum.

The sell-off, to be followed by similar ones in the Philippines and Indonesia, comes after another major disposal executed in a low key way last year, when Shell hived off its solar module production business. The division, with 600 staff and manufacturing plants in the US, Canada and Germany, went to Munich-based SolarWorld. Shell has, however, promised to build one solar plant in Germany. The Anglo-Dutch oil group confirmed last week that it had pulled out of its rural business in India and Sri Lanka, saying it was not making enough money. It was not bringing in any profit for us there, so we transferred it to another operator," said a spokeswoman at Shell headquarters in London.

The oil group said it was continuing to move its renewables interests into a mainstream business and hoped to find one new power source that would "achieve materiality" for it. It continues to invest in wind farm schemes, such as the London Array offshore scheme, which has British Government approval. Shell has also been concentrating on biofuels but declined to say whether it had given up on solar power even though many smaller rivals continue to believe the technology has a bright future.

Environmental groups have always accused Shell of using clean energy initiatives as "greenwash" to deflect criticism from its core carbon operations, especially tar sands. The latest pull-out has annoyed rival business leaders at London-based Solar Century and local Indian operation Orb Energy, who fear the impact of a high-profile company selling off solar business. Jeremy Leggett, chief executive of Solar Century and a leading voice in renewable energy circles, said Shell was undermining the credibility of the business world in its fight against global warming.

"Shell and Solar Century were among the 150 companies that recently signed up to the hard hitting Bali Declaration. It is vital that companies act consistently with the rhetoric in such declarations, and... an all-out assault on the Canadian tar sands and extracting oil from coal is completely inconsistent with climate protection. "This latest evidence of halfheartedness or worse in Shell's renewables activities leaves me even more disappointed. Unless fossil fuel energy companies evolve their core activities meaningfully, we are in deep trouble," he said.

Damian Miller, former director of Shell Solar's rural operations and now chief executive of Orb Energy, said Shell was missing an opportunity by pulling out at a time renewables markets were starting to mature in the developing world. He said some customers were complaining of being abandoned by Shell and were worried about what servicing of equipment they could expect from Environ. "We see former Shell customers who are highly disappointed not to be receiving proper service for the solar systems they have invested in," Mr Miller said. "These customers have often invested 20-30% of their annual income in a system to ensure they have some minimum amount of lighting and access to radio, TV, or a fan." He added that the oil majors, including Shell, had invested time and energy in promoting their plans for renewable energy in the media, but were not able to lead the transformation the world needed towards renewable energy and energy efficient solutions.

Shell declined to comment on the criticisms. But chief executive Jeroen van der Veer did make a number of comments a few months ago that could have paved the way for a change in policy. Alternative energy sources such as renewables would not fill the gap, he said in June, forecasting that even with technological breakthroughs they could supply only 30% of global energy by the middle of the century. "Contrary to public perceptions, renewable energy is not the silver bullet that will soon solve all our problems," he said.

BP has been accused by Greenpeace Canada of lining itself up to help commit "the biggest environmental crime in history." This follows its decision to swap assets with Husky Oil, giving it an entrance ticket to the Alberta tar sands, which are said to be five times more energy-intensive to extract than traditional oil. Former BP chief John Browne had said BP would not follow Shell into tar sands as he pledged to take the group "beyond petroleum." New boss Tony Hayward has pointed the corporate supertanker in a new direction, although his minders insist BP remains committed to exploring the potential of renewables.

"Tony Hayward... has endorsed the low-carbon strategy that involved BP creating its alternative energy business late in 2005," said a spokesman. "We are spending $US8 billion ($A9.2 billion) over 10 years and are pressing ahead with 450 megawatts of wind production capacity in the US. The tar sands deal in Canada does not represent a change in direction, it was just a very good opportunity." Greenpeace climate campaigner Joss Garman, commenting on Shell's solar exit, said Shell needed to become not just an oil company but an energy company. "One wonders if Shell's executives have noticed what's happening in Bali," he said.

Windmill will power college

Wimmera Mail Times
Monday 17/12/2007 Page: 5

MURTOA College will generate its own power with a windmill next year. Principal Ian Martin said the 37-metre turbine would generate enough power to meet the school's needs. Mr Martin said the tower and the blades for the windmill arrived at the school on Thursday.

"The next step is to build the concrete slab to specification. Then the tower goes up and is bolted onto the slab. We will have to get a crane in to do that just like we did to get it off the truck yesterday," Mr Martin said on Friday. "Then we dig all the holes to put the copper wiring in and then hook it up." Mr Martin said a representative from Rotterdam-based company Wind Energy Solutions would travel to Murtoa to oversee the building of the windmill and explain how it should be serviced.

He said the school expected the windmill to be operational in March or April next year. "We first talked about the project four years ago, when we asked the state Education Minister for money for capital works projects," Mr Martin said. "We asked for money for this project, not really expecting anything, and sure enough we got the money." Mr Martin said the school tried to purchase a windmill in Australia, but the only suitable company went bankrupt, forcing it to look overseas.

The turbine has a blade span of eight metres. "We decided to put the turbine on the southern boundary of the school property, because we have done tests and found that is where it is most windy," he said. Mr Martin said the environmentally- friendly project was part of a $3.5-million redevelopment of the school. which included new science and home economics wings and the wind turbine.

"The kids think it is fantastic. We are developing facilities that are second-to-none in the Wimmera. We started the process of building the classroom in 2004, when we got a capital works grant. We called for tenders in 2005 and were not successful in attracting one, but one builder took on the job and began work in April this year," he said. Mr Martin said straw bales were used to build new classrooms as they were a renewable resource good for heating, cooling and acoustics.

AGL signs on for wind farm

Portland Observer
Wednesday 12/12/2007 Page: 14

THE proposed 450-megawatt Macarthur Wind Farm has taken a further step forward with AGL Energy signing a heads of agreement with Meridian Energy. The agreement will allow both parties to explore the potential joint development of the wind farm. AGL managing director Michael Fraser said the agreement would bring together the key skills of both parties to determine the most favourable final generating capacity of the project.

"If the Macarthur Wind Farm goes ahead, it will make a significant contribution to AGL's requirement to meet the Federal Government's expanded Mandatory Renewable Energy Target which will require retailers to purchase 45,000 GWh of renewable energy by 2020," he said. "AGL has put considerable work into building a renewable generation portfolio that will deliver substantial environmental and financial benefits in a future carbon constrained world.

"If the Macarthur Wind Farm is built, AGL's renewable generation portfolio will extend to well in excess of 1000MW - Australia's largest privately owned and operated renewable portfolio." Meridian Energy is New Zealand's largest generator of electricity and is committed to using only renewable resources to generate electricity. It develops, owns and operates wind farms throughout New Zealand and also operates nine hydro power stations.

First turbine 'up by Christmas'

Plains Producer
Wednesday 12/12/2007 Page: 7

The first turbine will be erected at the Snowtown windfarm before Christmas. The 124 metre tall structure will be the first of 42 turbines to be built before September next year. TrustPower major projects group manager, Deion Campbell, said putting the turbines together was something of a logistical nightmare, although roads in Adelaide and South Australia made the project a little easier.

In preparation for the arrival of the first turbine, the largest crane on wheels in the world has been transported to the site - with the help of 32 trucks. The 1200 tonne crane has been moved to Snowtown from the Hallett Wind Farm. The turbine will also be a challenge to construct. Each tower (sourced in Adelaide) will arrive in four parts, while the main shaft, weighing 70 to 80 tonnes, is shipped from India, and is expected to arrive at Port Adelaide on Monday, December 19.

Blades arrive two to a truckload, and are 40 metres long. The hub will arrive on another truck, while another container of "bits and pieces" will also arrive over the coming two weeks. Mr Campbell said if there was a good run with the wind, the turbine was likely to be erected in two days, but they could not be put up in high wind. He said other parts of the project were ahead of schedule. "We're probably about 80 per cent through the civil construction work," Mr Campbell said.

Electrical infrastructure is now being put in the ground, and the substation is almost ready to go live. "All the operations and maintenance buildings are in place now, and a couple of months ahead of schedule," Mr Campbell said. "The weather's been quite kind to us and now we're heading into summer, we're unlikely to get rain to hold us up." About 80 people are employed on the site.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Heat is on for serious greenhouse reduction

Newcastle Herald
Wednesday 12/12/2007 Page: 9

Australia needs to make a major commitment on emissions targets for the post-Kyoto framework, argues Glenn Albrecht.

THE time for delay in reversing global warming is over. There must be action at every level, from the personal and the local, to the international discussions under way in Bali on a post-Kyoto framework for emissions reductions. The sceptics must now admit that they were wrong. They must also admit that their scepticism has contributed significantly to the delay in action to tackle rising carbon dioxide emissions. If we had started a collective effort (globally, nationally, regionally and personally) to reduce greenhouse gas pollution a decade ago, the urgency of the problem we face right now would have been avoided.

The latest climate science is now telling us that even the IPCC's Fourth Report published only this year is out of date. The world is warming faster than anticipated and the primary cause, greenhouse gas emissions, are escalating faster than all had thought possible. The net result is that our world is rapidly changing right now and is at foreseeable risk of irreversible and dangerous change to all life and life support systems. The simple reason for this risk is that science is saying that global warming beyond an extra two degrees (Celsius) above the pre industrial level is likely to trigger catastrophic changes to the world's climate.

To keep this risk under control scientists say that we need the global CO2 concentration in the atmosphere below 450 parts per million. It is now (2006 data) at a record high of 381.2 ppm and is rising at about 2 per cent per annum on business-as-usual and economic growth scenarios. The global mean temperature is rising at about 0.2 degrees per decade on top of the 0.8 degrees of warming already delivered in the past 100 years.

It is for this reason that in Bali the Rudd Government must commit Australia to a tougher and more short-term target for reducing CO2 emissions than the pre-election proposed 60 per cent reduction by 2050. Economic imperatives should not be driving our new greenhouse targets. It is science that should determine the speed and depth of the cuts and the latest advice is that no matter what the cost in the short term, the developed world must cut emissions by at least 85 per cent on 2000 levels by 2050.

In the Hunter Region, given our coal-based power generation and exports, a positive response to the reality of global warming must be particularly strong. For at least a decade a growing number of citizens have been engaging in the vital task of warning people about the risks of a coal-based economy in the face of climate chaos.

It has been groups like Rising Tide, Climate Action Newcastle, Climate Change Coalition and The Greens that have had their positions vindicated. It is now time for all of us, all generations, to join forces with them and co-operate in a change process to build a genuinely sustainable future. What kind of future can the Hunter have in the face of such imperatives to change? A future based on clean, safe, renewable energy is technologically possible and it is now urgent that we create such a future.

The coal industry does not have a long-term future in the valley anyway, so we may as well start its phased withdrawal now. Such a conclusion means there can be no new coalmines, no extensions of existing mines, no new coal transport infrastructure and definitely no new coal-fired power plants. A single new coal-fired power station will wipe out the benefits from all past energy saving and greenhouse gas emission reductions undertaken by people of goodwill.

Our region is in a great position to harness all forms of solar energy (sun and wind in particular) and is already a world leader in new technologies that take us away from coal and oil dependency. I can see it now: hundreds of solar arrays and grid-connected wind turbines in the valley. Most could be located on the 500 square kilometres that have already been degraded by coalmines. solar power stations would hunt under the sun as would the solar chimneys as they generated base-load power around the clock.

Every house in the Hunter could be a net power generator with photovoltaic panels. There are jobs, jobs, jobs in such a future as the workforce retrains for the solar economy. And we would all live in a valley and on a planet that was no longer at risk of meltdown.

Dr Glenn Albrecht is an associate professor in environmental studies at the University of Newcastle.

Allco, super funds spend $1.68b: Australian power grab in US

Sydney Morning Herald
Wednesday 12/12/2007 Page: 25

THE growing tussle among Australian investment funds to acquire North American power generating businesses has been joined by the ASX-listed infrastructure manager Allco Finance and a 40-strong group of not-for-profit superannuation funds. Allco and Industry Funds Management have followed the most recent aggressive players in the sector, Macquarie Group and Babcock and Brown, in grabbing assets in the expanding US energy sector.

The latest deal will result in Allco and IFM spending $US1.48 billion ($1.68 billion) on 29 power generation plants at 12 locations in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maryland from Con Edison. Allco will pay $US287 million for a stake of almost 38 per cent in the power projects, with IFM providing the remaining 62 per cent. Allco plans to sell down its interests to a number of its managed funds, including the unlisted Energy Infrastructure Fund, to start operating next year. Allco's shares rose 42c, to $7.78, in reaction to the deal.

IFM, the manager of $14.5 billion and the holding company for the Members Equity superannuation group, will inject its portion into a $3 billion international infrastructure operation. The intervention of Allco and IFM has increased the already fierce competition among fund and asset managers who have targeted regulated utilities such as electricity, gas and water businesses as long-term investments to provide steady and reliable cash flows.

Yesterday's move comes six weeks after Macquarie snapped up Puget Energy, the owner of the largest power company in the state of Washington, for $US7.4 billion. Macquarie put together a consortium of investors including the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board and the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation to acquire Puget, which supplies electricity to more than 1 million customers and natural gas to 720,000 consumers. That deal put Macquarie ahead of Babcock and Brown in a race for assets.

In July B&B missed out on a previously agreed acquisition of the Montana energy provider NorthWestern. The company had accepted B&B's $2.7 billion bid but it was blocked by local regulators, who were concerned about the possibility of a huge increase in energy costs for NorthWestern's customers. B&B is still scouring the continent for similar deals. Its listed power fund subsequently bought wind farms in Texas and Colorado. Yesterday B&B announced it had sold 70 per cent of a retail portfolio of 53 properties in Switzerland, raising 233 million ($389 million).

Climate drive backed

Adelaide Advertiser
Friday 14/12/2007 Page: 7

THE vast majority of Australians say the Federal Government should move swiftly to cut the nation's greenhouse emissions, a poll shows. The Greenpeace-commissioned Newspoll of 1202 adults this month also found strong support for replacing Australia's coal-fired power stations with renewable-energy sources by 2010. "Australians clearly understand the link between burning coal and climate change," Greenpeace's Steve Campbell said. The survey found 86 per cent of Australians supported Prime Minister Kevin Rudd introducing new policies to ensure greenhouse gas emissions begin to decrease in the next three years.

Eco plan a $1bn windfall for BBW

The Australian
December 17, 2007

BABCOCK and Brown could bring $1 billion worth of new wind energy projects on stream in Australia following the Rudd Government's commitment to having 20 per cent of energy use in the form of renewable energy by 2020. The chief executive of Babcock and Brown Wind Partners, Miles George, said this could involve 500 megawatts of new wind energy projects around Australia, where development had been put on hold because of uncertainties about the federal Government's energy policies.

"Babcock and Brown has developments in Australia which have effectively been put on hold because of the hiatus in federal government policy over renewable energy," Mr George said in an interview with The Australian. "The company has leased sites all around Australia which are likely to be revisited now there has been a change of government." At the moment, wind energy represents only about 1 per cent of Australian energy use.

Mr George said the Rudd Government's renewable energy targets could see a tenfold expansion of the wind energy industry in Australia by 2020. He said Babcock and Brown Wind Partners, Australia's largest wind farm operator and the fourth-largest in the world, was expecting to double the size of its business over the next few years. "We are adding around 1000 megawatts a year to our total portfolio and would expect to double the size of the business over the next two or three years," he said.

BBW has 68 wind farms around the world - in Australia, the US, Spain, Portugal, Germany and France. In Australia, it has wind farms in Mount Gambier in South Australia and Geraldton, in the West Australian midwest, with plans for another near Canberra. Mr George said the company's expansion would be stimulated by the fact that Australia was finally catching up with the rest of the world in terms of its policy in encouraging renewable energy.

Wind energy is considered the most economically viable of all the renewable energy options: it is several times cheaper than solar power and environmentally more acceptable than hydro projects. BBW, which listed on the ASX in October 2005, has failed to excite much interest among Australian institutions. Listing at $1.40 a share, it was trading above $1.80 a share this week but its growth has been less than other resource and energy stocks.

However, Mr George said he hoped the change in federal government policy and the evolution of the wind energy business around the world would lead to an increased interest in the company by Australian fund managers. He said the listing of the Spanish-owned Iberdrola Renewables, the world's largest owner of wind energy plants, on the Madrid Stock Exchange this week should help build more institutional interest in the industry.

"It's a good thing for us as it will be the first time we have had a major wind energy business in the listed sector which is comparable for our stock," he said. "The wind industry here is relatively small. In Europe and the US it is much larger and better understood." The $22 billion Iberdrola Renewables has a capacity of 7000 megawatts of installed capacity of wind energy, compared with the total 2400 megawatt capacity operated by BBW.

Mr George said Australia represented only about 15 per cent of the company's installed capacity because of the Howard government's on-again, off-again policy towards renewable energy. It set a target of 9500 gigawatt hours of renewable energy with a scheme announced in 1999, stimulating the development of the wind energy industry in Australia but it stalled when the government failed to renew the targets in 2004.

The Rudd Government's target of 20 per cent by 2020 amounts to a range of 45,000 gigawatt hours of energy - much of which will be supplied by wind energy. BBW has about 40 per cent of the 800 megawatts of installed capacity of wind energy in Australia. "The Rudd Government's target has the potential to increase installed capacity by about tenfold to about 8000 megawatts by 2020," Mr George said.

He said the introduction of a carbon emissions trading scheme next year would further boost the cost attraction of wind energy. Moves towards cleaner coal would also make wind energy more relatively economic. The Australian wind energy industry only has a small number of players, including Babcock and Brown, Pacific Hydro and Hydro Tasmania. The Transfield Services Infrastructure Fund entered the industry when it spent $460 million last month to buy the wind energy assets of the Queensland Government.

Babcock and Brown, which had its origins in San Francisco, has been in the wind energy business for more than 20 years, stimulated by tax incentives for wind energy in the 1980s given by the government of California. It expanded its operations into Australia following the Howard government's initial renewable energy incentive scheme in 1999. Mr George said BBW had a strong pipeline of wind farms under development for it by Babcock and Brown as well as two companies in Europe.

He said this meant it did not have to pay high prices in expensive bidding wars for new capacity. While there would be further expansion in Australia, he said, the US was the fastest growing market for wind energy and would soon become the biggest in the world, overtaking current leader Germany. "It's a great thing that the Labor Government is now introducing policies to encourage renewable energy," he said. "The industry will be reinvigorated. "We are the fourth largest (wind energy) company in the world and we are sitting in a country which doesn't support renewable energy. The last couple of years have been a difficult period for us but, going forward, it will be much more positive."

Support for wind farm

Ballarat Courier
Friday 14/12/2007 Page: 4

A SURVEY has shown more than 450 people would be prepared to pledge more than $3 million to the proposed community-owned Leonards Hill wind farm. The survey was carried out by the Hepburn Renewable Energy Association, which has set up a co-operative called Hepburn Wind to build and operate the $8 million wind farm. Chairman of Hepburn Wind is Simon Holmes a Court, son of prominent businesswoman and philanthropist, Janet Holmes a Court.

"Naturally were very excited by these results," Mr Holmes a Court said. "They've confirmed that this project is supported by the majority of people in this community, and is truly set to become Australia's first community-owned wind farm. "There is no doubt that the tremendous response to the survey is a direct result of the hard work and sheer volume of hours that many volunteers have committed to the project.

It's a fantastic feeling to have this hard work rewarded with such a good result." Hepburn Renewable Energy Association president Per Bernard said the survey was required by Sustainability Victoria, which will provide a grant of $1 million to the project. The wind farm proposed for the Ballan-Daylesford Rd includes two 68m turbines with 41m blades.

Hepburn Shire Council approved the project in February by, but an appeal saw the natter referred to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The tribunal approved the farm in July by after a four-day hearing. Tribunal members Margaret Baird and Ian Potts found that 16 homes would be between 519 metres and 895 metres from a turbine.

Australia gets behind emission cuts: poll

Canberra Times
Friday 14/12/2007 Page: 5

An overwhelming 86 per cent of Australians say the new Rudd Government should move swiftly to cut the nation's greenhouse gas emissions, a new poll shows. The Greenpeace-commissioned Newspoll survey, which polled 1202 adults this month, also found strong support for phasing out and replacing coal-fired power stations with renewable energy sources by 2010. "Australians clearly understand the link between burning coal and climate change," Greenpeace spokesman Steve Campbell said yesterday.

"They want to see the nation end its reliance on coal by beginning to phase out coal-fired power and move to renewable energy technologies." The survey found 86 per cent of Australians supported new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd introducing policies that would ensure Australia's greenhouse gas emissions began to decrease within the next three years. And 77 per cent also said the Government should begin phasing out existing coal-fired power stations and replacing their with renewable energy generation by 2010.

When asked about Australia's export coal industry, 73 per cent of respondents said coal exports should be capped or reduced. "Reducing our emissions matters to the Australian public but the results show they also want to see Mr Rudd take global responsibility by adopting policies that will see coal exports stay at current levels or decrease," Mr Campbell said.

Labor's existing climate policies would see total emissions increase to 15 per cent over 1990 levels by 2020, but cuts of 25 to 40 per cent were needed to stop global warming "topping the danger threshold." "This week Mr Rudd has the opportunity to show leadership at the Bali climate talks and help gain consensus on the 25-40 per cent range of reductions. "This poll shows that such a move would be extremely popular with the people of Australia, who delivered Mr Rudd a firm mandate at the last election, and want him to take even stronger action by reducing Australia's emissions within his first term."

Monday, 17 December 2007

Winds of change blow

Bendigo Advertiser
Wednesday 12/12/2007 Page: 25

BRITAIN unveiled plans yesterday to generate enough electricity through offshore wind farms to power every home in the country by 2020, increasing production more than 60-fold and changing the look of the country's coasts. Britain's business secretary John Hutton yesterday said the government planned to reach the target through a fourfold increase in the amount of space off Britain's coast allocated for wind farms.

The move would change Britain's coasts. Hutton acknowledged, but said the need for energy self-sufficiency left the country no choice. He said the plans would depend on environmental impact studies. "But if we could manage to achieve this, by 2020, enough electricity could be generated off our shores to power the equivalent of all of the United Kingdom's homes," Hutton said in a statement.

The British Wind Energy Association, a trade body which represents the country's wind and marine energy industries, welcomed plans for more offshore wind farm sites, but it said it would be difficult to raise Britain's wind energy production to 33 gigawatts by 2020 from half a gigawatt presently.

Eight gigawatts' worth of wind generation projects are already planned, but the group said the limited supply of turbines meant the amount of wind energy produced by 2020 would likely be closer to 20 gigawatts. "We'd really be struggling from a 'Where can we get the turbines?' point of view," the association's economics director Gordon Edge said. Environmental campaigners and opposition MPs welcomed the plan, but some noted that wind generated power is expensive.

Wind energy-generated electricity is presently more expensive to generate than its coal or gas-generated counterpart. Although Britain's wind-swept coasts and shallow waters are ideal for offshore turbines, wind generated power accounts for less than two per cent of its energy generation. However, massive new offshore wind farms, such as the one gigawatt London project planned for the Thames estuary in the country's south-east, are to go online by 2014. According to the BWEA, the country is on track to overtake Denmark as the world's largest generator of offshore wind energy next year.

High price of a green reality

Australian Financial Review
Wednesday 12/12/2007 Page: 55

The reality of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by the targets that are being suggested in Bali will be hard for politicians and diplomats to swallow as they are likely to be far more costly in terms of GDP and jobs than most people realise. These are the sorts of issues that can make or break governments. Of course the sooner we accept these hard decisions and start to plan for them, the easier they will be to implement. Absorbing the costs over years or decades will be much easier than getting stung with a huge bill at the last minute.

The problem is that many people in the developed world think it is just a matter of erecting more windmills or down-grading to a smaller car. It is actually likely to require a lot more sacrifice than that for many people and the political will to force significant lifestyle changes onto voting populations is a rare commodity.

Chile Power: $570m project

Adelaide Advertiser
Wednesday 12/12/2007 Page: 49

Pacific Hydro said yesterday it planned to invest about $570 million to develop renewable energy projects in Chile once the South American country passes new legislation for the sector. Pacific Hydro and BHP Billiton said last month they signed an agreement to develop wind energy in excess of 100 megawatts in Chile's northern mining region.

Changes may buoy Cape Wind project: Patrick seeks to alter state law
December 11, 2007

Governor Deval Patrick's administration proposed several changes to state environmental-protection laws yesterday that could help speed construction of offshore wind energy farms, including the controversy-plagued Cape Wind project that Patrick strongly backs. The Department of Environmental Protection formally unveiled several changes to the state's Chapter 91 waterways protection laws, which could take effect as soon as April after a public comment period that ends Jan. 17.

One major change would be to declare cables conveying power from offshore renewable-energy projects - including wind farms and hydroelectric generating units - to be water-dependent. That designation would get those projects speedier, more favourable consideration by department regulators, who are required by Chapter 91 to apply heavier scrutiny to non water-dependent projects in protected waterfront and river areas.

"The governor has made it an environmental priority to increase renewable energy, and the most important piece of these changes would make the regulations consistent with the administration's support for renewable energy, by allowing renewable energy from offshore to connect to the grid onshore," said Ed Coletta, a department spokesman.

Besides the 130-turbine Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, other proposals the changes could help include construction mogul Jay Cashman's plan for a 120-turbine wind farm in Buzzards Bay off Dartmouth and Fairhaven, and the Hull Municipal Light Department's proposed wind farm. The announcement was made a month after Patrick's administration supported House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi's inclusion of a measure in the House's green-energy bill. The measure exempts Cape Wind and the Cashman project from regulatory hurdles in the state's Ocean Sanctuaries Act, which limits or bans development in most coastal waters.

Though former governor Mitt Romney relentlessly opposed Cape Wind, Patrick and his energy and environmental affairs secretary, Ian A. Bowles, have called the project crucial to meeting state goals for renewable energy and helping to market Massachusetts worldwide as being friendly to renewable energy companies.

Mark Rodgers, a Cape Wind Associates spokesman, said yesterday that his company had not yet seen the proposed changes but said they sounded like "a step in the right direction from our viewpoint." The current designation of offshore wind farms as non water-dependent projects, Rodgers said,"doesn't make it impossible, but it adds another layer, and it never struck us as a policy that makes sense." Rodgers said offshore wind farms are clearly water-dependent because it is their location in the open ocean - where winds are much steadier and stronger than on land - that makes them feasible for generating electricity.

Officials from the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, which has been battling Cape Wind for six years, and the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental group backing Cape Wind, declined to comment.

Last month, Cape Wind angered its foes by asking the state Energy Facilities Siting Board to use its unique authority to approve the project by preempting eight different state and local permits - including the DEP waterways permit. This move came after the Cape Cod Commission voted against approving transmission lines connecting Cape Wind to the regional power grid in Yarmouth.

Peter J. Howe can be reached at

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Winds of change begin to blow

Herald Sun
Tuesday 11/12/2007 Page: 33

INSTALLATION of the first renewable energy power plant since Australia moved to ratify the Kyoto Protocol last week gets under way on Friday at a site near Ballarat leased to a joint venture of Spanish energy giant Acciona Energy and an ANZ Bank investment trust. Acciona managing director Brett Thomas said yesterday the $450 million wind farm would contribute green certificates to help Australia meet its Kyoto obligations from the end of next year.

The earthworks at the Waubra site have already been completed for the 128 turbines that will have the capacity to generate 192 megawatts of electricity, making it the biggest wind farm in the southern hemisphere. Singapore-owned Keppell Prince Engineering will deliver the first section of a steel tower from its Portland factory to Waubra later this week by road. Acciona announced yesterday it had awarded a $50 million contract to Keppell Prince to supply and install half of the turbines, with the balance of the project going to a Tasmanian company.

Ratifying Kyoto means the momentum created by the Victorian Renewable Energy Target to stimulate investment in wind energy will now carry over into the future," Mr Thomas said. The Waubra Wind Farm project was initiated under VRET, but in a broader sense it will help fulfil federal Labor's ability and commitment to meet its ultimate Kyoto target." The project is expected to displace about 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Mr Thomas estimated that if carbon is still trading around $40 a tonne when the wind farm is finished, revenue of about $24 million will be generated through carbon emissions trading alone. Half of that revenue would go to the energy infrastructure trust managed by ANZ Bank that owns 50 per cent of the Waubra Wind Farm project. Acciona said the new federal government policy requiring electricity retailers to buy 20 per cent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2020 would boost the company's confidence in rolling out up to four new wind farms it was considering, in addition to the three it already has approval to start.

Keppell Prince general manager Steve Garner said his company had also received a boost from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's commitment to carbon emission and renewable energy targets. Keppell Prince expects 60 per cent of its business next year will come from the renewable energy sector as it turns out three towers a week for Acciona. It plans to employ another 40 to 50 people to add to its 100-strong wind tower workforce in February.

Mr Garner said the wind industry had experienced long gaps between projects as government policies on renewable energy had waxed and waned. "It's been tumultuous for a long time and we have had to carry a lot of employees while we waited for the next order, because it was cheaper than firing and hiring again." He said about 8000 tonnes of steel from Bluescope Steel would be used to build the towers which will be up to 80 metres tall.

Acciona is the largest developer, owner and operator of wind farms in the world, with 164 wind farms in nine countries representing over 4500 megawatts of wind energy installed or under construction. In Australia, it operates a 66MW wind farm jointly with Roaring 40s at Cathedral Rocks in South Australia, and has approval to build a 50MW wind farm at Woodlawn, NSW, and a 24MW wind farm at Berrimal, Victoria.

$85m bonanza

Portland Observer
Friday 7/12/2007 Page: 1

Portland-based Keppel Prince Engineering is set to pounce on the growing renewable energy market with contracts worth $85 million in the pipeline for 2008. It will provide work for an extra 40 to 50 workers in Portland giving the company an early Christmas present. The company has secured a $50 million supply and installation contract of wind turbine towers for Acciona Energy's 192 megawatt Waubra Wind Farm. It has also secured an $11 million contract with REpower for 22 towers at the Cape Nelson section of Pacific Hydro's Portland Wind Energy Project.

Keppel Prince general manager Steve Garner said the company was also in the final stages of negotiations and hoping to secure contracts for other projects including:
  • An $11 million contract to supply of 20 towers for Suzlon's Canberra wind farm, with delivery earmarked to start in June.
  • A $6.5 million contract to manufacture of 600 metres of steel line for the Bogong hydro power project in the Victorian Alps.
  • An $8 million contract to supply towers to a New South Wales wind farm project. Mr Garner said the first tower for the Waubra project would leave Portland next Friday.
The company will manufacture 64 towers for Waubra at its Portland base, with the other 64 towers for the project being manufactured by Tasmanian engineering firm Haywards. Mr Garner said Keppel Prince was pleased to work on the Waubra Wind Farm project. "We have had a difficult time keeping our skilled workers busy because of a slow down in the demand for wind turbine towers in the past couple of years," he said. "This contract helps us maintain our skills and build a business for the future.

"The steel towers for Waubra are being made in the fabrication and assembly workshops in Portland, keeping investment flowing into the region." Mr Garner said the additional employment being generated in Portland from the various renewable energy projects gave some hope of work for Vestas wind blade employees, given the pending closure of the blade factory on December 19.

"We will also be installing new equipment at Keppel Prince to cater for the increased work," he said. "We are currently producing two towers a week. .. hopefully from February that will increase to three towers a week." He said the Rudd Government's policy of increasing the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target to 20 per cent by 2020 would generate more renewable energy projects and work for Keppel Prince.

"We are also looking at opportunities stemming from various wave energy projects," he said. At least three wave energy proponents are eying Portland as an ideal site for wave energy projects. Mr Garner said while it was great to secure work for the various renewable energy projects, the company's core base and number one priority remained its ongoing relationship and work with Portland Aluminium.

Full wind ahead New Zealand giant joins in Macarthur project

Hamilton Spectator
Saturday 8/12/2007 Page: 5

THE largest proposed wind farm in Australia - the 183-turbine, $600 million behemoth between Macarthur and Hawkesdale - has sprung into life. Since the wind farm was given State Government planning approval last October, news about its progress had been virtually non-existent. The then developer, Southern Hydro (later bought out by AGL Energy), said it would take up to 12 months to investigate the financing of the huge project.

On Thursday, AGL told the Australian Stock Exchange that New Zealand's largest generator of electricity, Meridan Energy, had joined its Macarthur project. "The heads of agreement with Meridan Energy will bring together the key skills of both parties to determine the most favourable final generating capacity of the project," AGL managing director, Michael Fraser, said. He said the Macarthur site was one of the 'premier wind generation sites in Australia'. The wind farm would generate up to 450 megawatts - enough clean energy capacity to power about 250,000 average homes.
Mr Fraser said if the Macarthur Wind Farm proceeded, it would make a significant contribution to the company's requirements to meet the Federal Government's renewable energy target. "AGL has put considerable work into building a renewable generation portfolio that will deliver substantial environmental and financial benefits in a future carbon-constrained world," he added.

"If the Macarthur Wind Farm is built, AGL's renewable generation portfolio will extend to well in excess of 1000MW - Australia's largest privately owned and operated renewable portfolio." Mr Fraser said Australia had a strong emerging retail demand for clean and low carbon emission energy and AGL was strategically positioned as a cost competitive supplier to this market.

If the wind farm proceeds it's expected to create 600- 900 jobs in construction and manufacturing over its two-year construction period. The turbines would be spread across 55 square kilometres of predominantly cleared farm land mid-way between Macarthur and Hawkesdale. A three-member panel sat for five weeks in Hamilton last February- March to hear submissions for and against the wind farm. There were 1295 submissions - with 88 per cent in support.