Friday 17 March 2006

Blowing in the Wind

Now here is an enlightened community...

The Advocate

LOCAL support for a proposed community-owned windpark for Daylesford and Hepburn Springs continues to grow.

Hepburn Renewable Energy Association president Per Bernard said that the association had grown since it was formed last year to 150 members.

He said the association hoped to establish a two-turbine community-owned wind park near Daylesford. The energy from the turbines will flow to Daylesford and Hepburn Springs and be enough to power about 2500 homes.

"As everyone knows global warming is a major concern and this is an excellent way for us to make a real change,"Mr Bernard said. "The energy will be made and used locally which is absolutely fantastic."

The association is using local organisations to complete several expert studies for the planning application they hope to lodge with the council over the next few months. Based on extensive European research the wind park would be owned by a local co-operative with members receiving returns from the sale of energy.

The co-operative would make annual payments directly to the local community and help fund local initiatives. Mr Bernard encouraged people interested in the project to contact the association.

"We need to set up the co-operative soon and are asking anyone who thinks they’d like to be involved to get in touch," he said. "It’s a fantastic opportunity to be a founding member."

The association has created an information display about the project and wind power at the Harvest Cafe, Albert St, Daylesford. Membership forms are available there.

Thursday 16 March 2006

Wind farm on line

Eyre Peninsula Tribune

Wednesday, 8 March 2006

Power from the Mt Millar Wind Farm, between Cleve and Cowell, started being delivered into South Australia's homes and businesses last Tuesday, February 28.

The first of the 35 wind turbines at the farm began generating power on Tuesday morning and the remainder of the turbines will be gradually brought on line as commissioning progresses.

Tarong Energy project manager Nic Buckley said Tuesday represented a significant milestone in the short history of the wind farm.

He said Tarong Energy, as the parent company of the Mount Millar Wind Farm, was pleased that commissioning had begun.

"This is an important and exciting step, and once complete, the Mt Millar Wind Farm will complement Tarong's other wind farm in South Australia, the 34.5MW Starfish Hill wind farm, which was completed in December 2003," he said.

Construction work on the Mt Millar Wind Farm project by the German firm Enercon GmbH, began late in 2004 and was completed in December last year.

It is expected that, once fully operational, 70 megawatts of electricity will be generated from the wind turbines, enough for about 36,000 typical households.

The wind farm will reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by up to 4.2 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent during its expected 25-year life.

Electricity from the wind farm is exported into the South Australian transmission grid at the Yadnarie substation, 10 kilometres west of Cleve, via a new 132kV overhead transmission line, which is owned and operated by ElectraNet SA.

Tuesday 14 March 2006

"Saving" the Environment

Where are the anti wind farm people volunteering their land as a site for a nuclear power station or repository for radioactive waste?

Monday 13 March 2006

Wind powering ahead for Tasmania.

Sunday Examiner
Sunday, 12 March 2006

Wind power is set to be a big part of Tasmania’s future - Helen Kempton reports.

CONSTRUCTION of the third and final stage of what will be the biggest wind energy project in the Southern Hemisphere has begun on the buffeted plains of Tasmania’s far North-West tip.

By the end of the year Tasmania’s sole wind farm will boast 62 turbines and generate enough energy to power all the houses in a city the size of Launceston.

Roaring 40s a joint venture between Hydro Tasmania and ChinaLight and Power has taken over the $175 million Woolnorth Wind Farm project. And the man steering the development of its final stage regards the historic grazing property as "God’s own country in terms of both wind power and natural beauty.

"This is a Class A site one of the best in the world," Roaring 40s senior project manager Michael Gilmore said as he surveyed the Studland Bay construction site last week. "All we take from this beautiful place is the wind."

The hilly coastline of Woolnorth is the first land the prevailing westerly winds known as the Roaring 40s touch on their journey across the Southern Ocean from Cape Horn - 20,000km away. And the winds which power the turbines have been labelled the cleanest in the world by the nearby Cape Grim air monitoring station.

So how do companies exploring renewable energy projects pinpoint the best places to capture the power of the wind?

"There is a wind atlas of the world which can be used as a guide," Mr Gilmore said. "But you don’t have to be a genius to know there will be wind in the Roaring 40s pattern. A solar-powered wind monitoring tower also provides the company with data. A wind farm naturally needs wind to operate but not the gale force winds the public might imagine.

In ideal circumstances the turbine blades would rotate 21 times a minute and the turbines at Woolnorth are in full production about 50 per cent of the time. Wind speeds of between 8 and 50 knots (15-95kmh) are okay but winds above 60 knots will stop the blades rotating.

"What we need is a constant wind Mr Gilmore said. "And space between the turbines so they can shed wind if needed. There are also days when there is no wind. "Like the grand opening of stage two for instance when the blades were perfectly still," he said with a wry smile.

Roaring 40s was formed in October last year to explore renewable energy options in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. The company has wind farm developments in Australia, New Zealand, China - where it is constructing a 49MW wind farm at Shuangliao - and is moving into India.

Roaring 40s is worth $220 million and expected to grow to $1 billion by 2010 "Wind power is the current hot technology," managing director Mark Kelleher said. "And with the size of the market in India and China there is huge potential out of Australia.

"China has set a wind energy target of 30 gigawatts - that is the size of the total Australian energy market, but unfortunately while other parts of the world are embracing wind technology Australia’s initial strong support is plateauing out and there will be no more projects developed after 2008 unless this changes.

"In the meantime we decided to get out and build on other opportunities." To build the Woolnorth Wind Farm Roaring 40s bought 3000ha from Van Dieman Land Company in two lots. It now leases that land back to VDL for a peppercorn rent.

Woolnorth Wind Farm does not feel like an energy project in the traditional sense. There are no billowing smoke plumes, no concrete dams. Cows graze contentedly in what has become a construction village and trucks wait as the animals walk up the new access roads to water tanks or new pasture.

Wind farms are considered an eyesore in some parts of Australia. But there is something natural about their placement on these remote windswept hills. "Objections to wind farm developments usually revolve around the visual impact of the towers," Mr Gilmore said.

"You can’t hide them, you certainly can’t miss them. But out here they almost complement the landscape. About 35,000 other people a year agree with Mr Gilmore and tour the Woolnorth property.

Contractor Areva-Hazell Brothers has moved on-site and already 35 people are working as part of the early construction phase with numbers set to peak at 100 toward the end of the project.

Thirty-seven turbines are already paying a graceful choreographed tribute to the power of the prevailing westerly winds at Bluff Point. And by the end of the year they will be joined by another 25 bigger but more powerful dancers at nearby Studland Bay. Complete, the wind farm will generate 140MW.

The power of the turbines is impressive. The Vestas V66 blades on the turbines at Bluff Point are more powerful than those on a jumbo jet. The V90 blades which will be erected on top of the 80m high turbines at Studland Bay are bigger, slower and more powerful again in terms of electricity generation.

"The renewable energy sector is moving so quickly," Mr Gilmore said. "By the time we had erected the V66 turbines in stage one and two they had been superseded by the V90.

"Wind farms have a nominal life of 20 years - anything could happen in that time. Inside the nacelle on the top of the tower is the machinery which converts the energy of the wind into electricity. Cables carry the power underground to a switchyard which then feeds it into overhead lines which carry the electricity to Smithton, Port Latta and the wider Tasmanian power grid. Most is then used by the local domestic market.

The concrete foundations which will support the turbines are already under construction at Studland Bay and should be finished by July. Each foundation involves 450 cubic metres of concrete which will be all batched on site and will take 10 hours to pour.

Woolnorth is one of several staged windpower developments planned for Tasmania. King Island already has five turbines which supply power locally.

Work is scheduled to start on the Musselroe wind project in the North-East when Woolnorth is complete The proposed $230 million Musselroe wind farm has been given its final environmental approvals. When completed the wind farm will have a generating capacity of 129MW enough to supply up to 50,000 homes.

Roaring 40s will then turn its attention to Heemskirk near Granville Harbour on the West Coast where it is planning the construction of a 140MW wind farm.

Oil's well that ends well..

The Mercury
Feb 18, 2006

US President George W. Bush may have surprised international observers by pledging, in his State of the Union address, to break his country's addiction to foreignoil but Sweden was already a step ahead of him.

The environmentally progressive Scandinavian nation has set one of its most ambitious goals yet: to totally end dependence on fossil fuels and do it within the next 15 years. "Our dependency on oil should be broken by 2020, " says Mona Sahlin, the Minister of Sustainable Development.

The utopian ideal, proposed last September by Prime Minister Goran Persson, has met with applause from environmental organisations but also great scepticism from some experts who think the target unrealistic.

Officials in Sweden acknowledge that getting rid of oil completely in so short a time is close to impossible but the aim is to ensure Swedes will never be forced to use fossil fuels because a renewable energy source is not available.

"There will always be better alternatives to oil, which means no house should need oil for heating and no driver should need to turn solely to petrol, says Sahlin. The plan is a response to global climate change, rising prices for petroleum and warnings by some experts the world may soon run out of oil.

"We want to be both mentally and technically prepared [for a world without oil]," says Martin Larsson, a senior officer in the Ministry of Sustainable Development. "A lot of people think that in five to six years a litre of petrol may cost as much as 20 kronor ($A3.40). That would be a dramatic change and a hard hit on a lot of households." Today, the price is around 11 kronor ($Al. 95) a litre.

Persson has said the target will be reached by boosting research into alternative fuels, giving financial incentives for people switching to "green alternatives" and increasing the annual electricity production from renewable sources by 15 terawatt hours by 2016.

Some tax breaks have been introduced and Persson has formed a special commission with the task of finding other ways to make society independent of oil. The commission is to present its first proposals about midyear.

As with Bush's plan, no one is doubting Sweden's good intentions.

"I don't think this is realistic," says Kenneth Werling, chief executive of Agroetanol, which runs Sweden's largest ethanol factory, "but it is a good ambition.

"Maybe we can build a society that is less dependent on oil and that is good in itself."

Sahlin, however, is confident the country can succeed. "Honestly, what is the alternative?" she says. "To wait and see when oil gets even more expensive?"

Sahlin and other experts point to several factors that give Sweden a better chance than most nations to phase out oil.

The country of nine million people has coasts stretching hundreds of kilometres, which have given rise to a number of windpower and waterpower plants. A large new wind farm is being built off the southern coast and the government intends to raise electricity production from renewable resources by 15 terawatt hours in 10 years.

As well, Sweden has more forest per capita than any other EU country, enabling it to bum tonnes of biomass which has helped to make it one of the world leaders in renewable energy.

In 2003, 26 per cent of the energy consumed there was from renewable sources more than four times as much as the European Union average of 6 per cent, according to EU statistics. Only 32 per cent of its energy came from oil, down from 77 per cent in 1970, according to Sweden's own figures.

So while the EU is striving to double its average use of renewable energy to 12 per cent by 2010, Sweden is right in setting the bar much higher, says jacqueline McGIade, executive director of the European Environment Agency in Denmark.

"Many countries are setting renewable energy targets. The difference with Sweden is that the targets are achievable, rather than aspirational, " says McGIade. "This is because government departments have built renewable energy into their longterm policies. "

It's evident in the system for heating houses and apartment buildings a key function in a land where the harsh winter usually lasts up to five months. Many counties use district heating which distributes waterbased heat, often produced by burning garbage or timber.

Today only 8 per cent of Swedish houses are heated by oil, says Stefan Edman, an environmental adviser to the government. As of January 1, those households get tax rebates if they switch to renewable sources.

A far bigger challenge will be the transport sector: only 1 per cent of Swedish run on alternative fuels. However, sales of 1 environmental cars" which run on alternative fuel have almost doubled over the past year and the parliament passed a law in December making it mandatory for all major petrol stations to offer at least one alternative fuel at their pumps.

Sweden already uses more ethanol per head than any other EU country because of a pilot project in which about 5 per cent ethanol is mixed into petrol sold at service stations to reduce pollution, says Werling, of Agroetanol.