Friday, 6 November 2009

CBD Energy banks on graphite blocks

Monday 2/11/2009 Page: 30

CBD Energy has signed a deal with a leading Chinese group, Boading Tianwei, to provide its energy storage technology to a proposed $500m,100MW solar thermal plant being built as part of an earthquake reconstruction program in Liangshan. CBD Energy's technology involves layers of graphite blocks, which have heat exchangers embedded. The modular 423kW modular system is the size of a shipping container and can be easily scaled.

Chief executive Gerry McGowan says graphite could prove to be a cost-effective storage system for renewable energy, considering the major alternative, molten salt, has experienced a threefold rise in price in the past six months. CBD Energy's technology has been developed at Silverwater in Sydney and will be tested on King Islandand next year in a joint venture with Hydro Tasmania. "We believe we will be the cheapest thermal storage on the market. No one else is using graphite," McGowan says.

He expects the technology will also be used to supply off-peak power in Europe and the US, and could be particularly effective in district heating systems and for industrial use. "We can release the energy at a predictable rate. It loses up to 3% in storage, depending on the amount of insulation, but that's not much as, typically, customers want to store energy for a 24-48 hour time frame." CBD Energy has not released details of the amount of storage required for the China project, or the financials of the agreement, which will be under negotiation this week.

Australia's efforts to create its own carbon market may be stalled by political deadlock, but Australians have been playing a prominent role in the rapidly expanding international carbon market. These include Ken Newcombe, who established the first carbon fund while at the World Bank and now runs C-Quest Capital, and James Cameron, the head of Climate Change International.

Other prominent Australian expats who attended the Carbon Markets Expo on the Gold Coast last week included Standard Bank carbon trading head Geoff Sinclair, Macquarie London carbon trading activities head John Marlow, Mina Guli executive director of project developer Peony Capital, and Bridget McIntosh the founder and head of carbon company Carbon Bridge. Guli says Australian businesses seem preoccupied with the structure of an Australian emissions trading scheme, but the real opportunities for abatement and investment are in China, which boasts rapid economic growth and a green economy that will be worth up to $1 trillion by 2013.