Thursday 20 April 2006

Pacific Hydro Funds Sustfund

The Stawell Times-News, Page: 2
Tuesday, 18 April 2006

ARARAT -Pacific Hydro made the first payments to Ararat and district recipients under its ground breaking Sustainable Communities Fund at a reception held in Ararat. Launched in late 2005 the fund is a long term commitment by Pacific Hydro to make annual payments to organisations within the local communities in which it operates. In this inaugural round over $40.000 has been provided to 10 organisations supporting activities such as sporting club initiatives, health and community cohesion programs, education assistance and several cultural activities.

The organisations which will receive funding are the East Grampians Health Service Centre of Community Health and Ararat community group. St Andrew's Cricket Club. Ararat Community College. Ararat City Band, Ararat YMCA. St Mary's Parish Primary School. Lake Bolac Eel Festival. Buangor Primary School and Ararat Golden Gateway Festival. "We are delighted to make this money available to local organisations that are pursuing very worthwhile projects in their community."

Pacific Hydro executive manager corporate affairs and marketing Andrew Richards said. "This will be the first of many annual payments Pacific Hydro will make over the operational life of our Challicum Hills wind farm and we look forward to being a constructive member of the local community for many years to come." More than 60 organisations from the Ararat region applied for first round funding totalling in excess of $2.5 million dollars.

"We were quite overwhelmed with the response to the fund. All the applications put forward were worthy of funding and choosing these initial recipients was a difficult task. In this regard we would like to thank the Rural City of Ararat for their guidance, advice and support." Mr Richards said.

Requests for proposals for the 2006 round of funding will be released in the second half of this year. A similar fund has been set up for the Port Fairy region where Pacific Hydro has two operating wind farms at Codrington and Yambuk.

Coal Takes Heavy Human Toll:

Some 25,100 U.S. Deaths from Coal Use Largely Preventable
by Janet Larsen

Startling new research shows that one out of every six women of childbearing age in the United States may have blood mercury concentrations high enough to damage a developing fetus.

This means that 630,000 of the 4 million babies born in the country each year are at risk of neurological damage because of exposure to dangerous mercury levels in the womb.

Fetuses, infants, and young children are most at risk for mercury damage to their nervous systems. New studies show that mercury exposure may also damage cardiovascular, immune, and reproductive systems.

Chronic low-level exposure prenatally or in the early years of life can delay development and hamper performance in tests of attention, fine motor skills, language, visual spatial skills, and verbal memory. At high concentrations, mercury can cause mental retardation, cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness, and even death.

Read more..

Wednesday 19 April 2006

Record Year For Wind Energy:

Global Wind Power Market Increased By 43% In 2005

Continued political efforts can give even stronger impetus for 2006 The global wind energy sector experienced another record year in 2005. According to the figures released today by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the year saw the installation of 11,769 megawatts (MW), which represents a 43.4% increase in annual additions to the global market, up from 8,207 MW in the previous year. The total value of new generating equipment installed was over €12 billion, or US$14 billion.

The total installed wind power capacity now stands at 59,322 MW worldwide, an increase of 25% compared to 2004.

“The overall picture confirms that the right political framework is crucial to sustain the growth of wind power around the world and to open new markets. Some 48 governments have already introduced laws and regulations to support the development of renewable energies, but this effort needs to be increased if the benefits of wind energy are to be reaped around the world,” said Arthouros Zervos, Chairman of GWEC.

Read more..

Tuesday 18 April 2006

Pacific action urged on clean energy plan

The Australian
Amanda Hodge
April 18, 2006

THE Howard Government's Asia Pacific climate partnership must begin rolling out clean energy projects across the six-nation membership within 12 months or risk losing crucial industry support. The warning comes as all eight taskforces established under the AP6 - the name of the greenhouse technology alliance - prepare to meet for the first time in California today to flesh out action plans.

Australian industry representatives attending the meeting told The Australian they would be pushing to set genuine progress benchmarks that lead to pilot technology projects and greater access to new markets.

Asia Pacific climate partners Japan, the US, Australia, South Korea, China and India met for the first time in Sydney in January to set directions for the alliance, but this week's meeting will be the first time the taskforces meet. Each taskforce has been given six months to draw up plans identifying suitable markets across member nations for deploying low-emission technology and demonstration projects.

The eight groups - which operate under the banners of renewable and distributed energy, cleaner fossil energy, power generation and transmission, steel, coalmining, aluminium, cement and buildings and appliances - consist of four government and industry representatives from each country.

Solar Systems managing director Dave Holland, an Australian delegate on the renewable energy taskforce, said his priority this week would be to identify opportunities and barriers to establishing large-scale renewable energy projects in all six markets.

"For business to take technologies into markets you need real and specific opportunities, and that's different from a government just saying, 'We welcome people in', because all these markets are looking for low-cost technology."

He, however, warned that industry groups, whether in the renewable energy or low-emissions sectors, would not tolerate such demands on their time unless measurable progress was achieved. "What's important for industry is if we don't get real traction for real projects in 12 months it's going to be hard for industry to stay focused," he said. "So we have to target some things that are real."

A Future Without Oil?

By Elizabeth Douglass, L.A. Times Staff Writer
April 16, 2006

Proponents of alternative fuels are seeing a rare convergence of technology, money, political will and motivated motorists.

Jon Spallino drives a $1-million car to work. Banish any thought of a flashy red Ferrari. Since June, the Redondo Beach resident has been tooling around in a rather pedestrian-looking, two-door Honda FCX. What matters is on the inside: hope for a future without oil. The Honda runs on electricity from a hydrogen-powered fuel cell tucked under the seats.

"I was sure I would be giving up something in terms of utility or comfort or performance," Spallino said. "As it turns out, I haven't given up anything." Spallino is part of an accelerating push toward alternative forms of energy. Researchers and investors — and President Bush — are talking hopefully about powering cars and trucks with hydrogen and fuels made from corn, prairie grass, even French fry grease. Despite scientific advances, increased investment and unprecedented political backing, plenty of potholes remain.

The most daunting of those is the magnitude of the task. Cars, trucks, trains, planes and other vehicles account for 7 of every 10 barrels of oil consumed in the U.S. With such a deep reliance on oil, the transportation world has been nearly impervious to change. Electric-hybrid vehicles are barely a blip, alternative fuels have made only tiny inroads, and a push for more fuel-efficient cars has stalled under the Bush administration.

"In the transportation sector, we've essentially made no progress in the last 25 years," said Daniel Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis. Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative, which he promoted in a February tour of research sites, would inject badly needed money into alternative-fuel programs.

Critics say the commitment is paltry. Bush's fiscal 2007 budget seeks about $150 million for biofuels and $290 million for hydrogen-related research. By comparison, the government spends an estimated $150 million a day in Iraq. But proponents believe the decades of inertia could be broken by a rare convergence of technology, money, political will and motivated motorists.

"I see a broader base of interest and support now than ever before," said James Boyd, a member of the California Energy Commission. Even the president, a onetime oilman, shifted his stance by declaring in January's State of the Union speech that the country was "addicted to oil" and that it should "move beyond a petroleum-based economy."

Renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel hold the greatest promise of immediately reducing oil consumption because they are available today for use in existing vehicles. Ethanol is made from organic material such as grain crops, wood chips and agricultural waste. A distillation and fermentation process, similar to what goes on in a brewery, converts corn kernels and the like into ethanol.

The fuel is made from renewable sources, boosts octane levels and pollutes the air less than gasoline does. Regular vehicles can run on gasoline blends of as much as 10% ethanol without changing anything, and the nation's more than 5 million so-called flex-fuel vehicles can use gasoline blends with as much as 85% ethanol.

Government subsidies help keep the cost of ethanol close to that of gasoline, and last year, oil companies blended ethanol into about one-third of the nation's car fuel. In California, ethanol has been widely used as a component of cleaner-burning gasoline since 2004, when the state banned the use of methyl tertiary butyl ether because it contaminates groundwater.

About 4 billion gallons of ethanol were used last year, replacing 170 million barrels of oil. Under a federal mandate, ethanol consumption could almost double by 2012. "It is the only option we have today in terms of a liquid fuel alternative to gasoline that can be used in the existing distribution system," said Neil Koehler, who has spent half of his 48 years pushing ethanol as a way to loosen crude oil's hold on cars.

Fresno-based Pacific Ethanol Inc., where Koehler is chief executive, recently won an $84-million pledge from Microsoft chief Bill Gates' investment firm. The company plans to open the first of five ethanol plants this year in Madera County.

Sunday 16 April 2006

Bluff and bluster: The campaign against wind power

By Mark Diesendorf

Wind power is one of the fastest growing energy technologies in the world. Since the industry took off in Denmark the early 1980s, it has created tens of thousands of new jobs globally and the installed global capacity has passed 40,000 megawatts (MW), generating enough electricity to power over 10 million homes.

In Australia wind power capacity is over 250 MW and the industry is growing rapidly, at least until 2007 when the tiny Mandatory Renewable Energy Target is expected to be achieved. Yet Australia’s wind energy potential is large. The scenario study, A Clean Energy Future for Australia, proposes that 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity could be generated from wind power by 2040, the same percentage that was achieved in Denmark in 2003.

Wind turbines are best sited in prominent places such as on ridges, hill-tops and near the coast, where they can catch the wind. Although the numbers of people, identified in public surveys as being concerned about the visual effect of wind turbines is tiny, anti-wind groups are even being set up in areas of degraded farmland that are almost treeless and often extensively eroded. Anti-wind campaigners are succeeding in creating anxieties in rural communities by claiming that wind has major environmental impacts and technical limitations.