Friday 14 July 2006

Energy Crisis

Geelong Advertiser, Page: 17
Thursday, 13 July 2006

ENERGY is the basis of modem civilisation. We have easier lives than our grandparents did because we use much more energy: electricity, gas and transport fuels. Our energy use is equivalent to 40 human slaves working for us in shifts, doing what slaves used to do: it produces our food, transports us, washes our clothes, entertains us, fans us when we are hot and so on. Energy has also been used to ease other shortages.

Cities without water have processed seawater - using energy. We have increased food supply for our growing population by farming more intensively - using energy. As we exhausted rich metal ores, we moved on to poorer deposits - but that takes more energy. Without usable energy, our society would literally grind to a halt.

We now face two serious problems. We are near the end of the age of cheap petroleum fuels. The second problem is that present use of fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas - is seriously changing the global climate. Both problems are compounded by huge inequalities.

Australians use about half as much energy as US citizens, but about five times as much as Chinese and 50 times as much as people in the poorest parts of the world. We have known about the problems of peak oil and climate change for decades. Science was telling us in 1987 that climate change was a real threat to civilised society, demanding a new approach to energy supply and use. But we still have no overall energy policy to plan the transitions from cheap oil and large-scale coal use.

Petroleum fuels are becoming more expensive as increasing demand faces slowing production. We could be paying $2 by the end of the year and $5 by 2010. That will have a dramatic impact. The response should include both supply options, such as other transport fuels, as well as the demand side of the equation: how can we reduce our need for oil products? Some alternative transport fuels have been known and used for decades: alcohol from sugar cane and synthetic liquid fuel from gas.

There are new forms of transport energy on the horizon; hydrogen produced from water by renewable energy is the most likely to be sustainable. These alternatives will cost much more to move people and goods around. So we need to develop alternatives like better public transport, bikeways and footpaths, but we urgently need urban planning to make services more accessible. We also needto put much less carbon dioxide into the air.

There are two ways to do this. First, we must use cleaner fuels. It is much better to use gas than electricity. We can't afford to keep using old technologies that are changing the global climate - like coal-fired electricity.

Using electricity to heat water or cook, rather than burning gas, puts about four times as much carbon dioxide into the air. Renewable energies, such as solar or wind power, are cleaner still. These natural energy flows arc huge, far greater than human energy needs. As a specific example, the entire worlds energy use for a whole year is only about double the solar energy hitting Australia in one summer day.

We should get much more of our energy from sun, wind and other renewable sources. It will cost a bit more than burning coal but it won't impose the large and growing costs of climate change. The second part of the solution is turning energy more efficiently into the services we want. We don't actually want energy; we want hot showers and cold drinks, the ability to cook our food, wash our clothes and move around.

Most of the technology we use is very wasteful. Several European countries now have a target of cutting energy use to a quarter of the present level by efficiency improvements. Around the world, 1.2 billion people still need clean water, 800 million are hungry and hundreds of millions lack decent shelter.

To meet their basic needs within the limits of global systems, we must use cleaner energy and use it more efficiently. What you and I do every day makes a difference. We are all creating the future. It will only be sustainable if it is equitable, resourced and respects the limits of the Earth.

Professor lan Lowe is emeritus professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University.

Emu Downs energy milestone

Midwest Times, Page: 3
Thursday, 13 July 2006

THE Emu Downs Wind Farm installed its 48th and final turbine last week, marking its entry into the final stages of the $180million project. The 80 Megawatt wind farm is being constructed 30 kilometres east of Cervantes as part of a joint venture between Stanwell Corporation Limited (Stanwell) and Griffin Energy. Griffin Energy Power Generation executive general manager Wayne Trumble said the project had progressed successfully thanks to good weather conditions, thehard work of the project team and local Input and support." Local businesses have been responsible for much of the work carried out onsite and the project has created local opportunities for training, tradespeople, suppliers and other service providers," he said.

The project, which will power more than 50,000 homes each year, will now move into its commissioning phase and project manager Bruce Mitchell said it was on schedule to be completed later this year. Meanwhile, Energy Minister Francis Logan has called for expressions of interest from consumers to be part of a ministerial advisory committee on electricity supply. "We will want committee members to identify issues associated with standards of electricity supply, comment on the effectiveness of consumer protection mechanisms and advise on existing or emerging issueswith electricity supply standards," Mr Logan said.

"It will be invaluable to have the input of the end users who deal with the impact of electricity supply issues on a daily basis." Mr Logan said the committee would include residential electricity users from both metropolitan and regional areas, as well as owners and operators of small, medium and large businesses. The committee will be established and chaired by the Minister. Expressions of interest close on July 28.

For information call 9420 5600 or visit

Shire declares: We're up for job

Yarram Standard News, Page: 11
Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Wellington Shire Council has assured the community that council officers are well equipped to make the right decision on the community's behalf in regards to the Devon North wind farm. Council's development services manager Kirn Phillips said officers have the necessary skills to analyse the complex data submitted as part of the planning permit application for the wind farm."Council officers have all the necessary skills to assess the application against the relevant planning criteria," she said."Officers will consult with other authorities, such as the Environment Protection Authority and the Department of Sustainability and Environment, as required for expert comment or other technical advice on planning issues such as noise impacts.

"This is the first application for a wind farm development, so it is in some ways a first for us, but as with all planning applications, assessment is made of the individual planning merits of the application."

Geothermal energy permits offered

Discovery, Page: 5
Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Victoria's embrace of alternative energy resources has led to a call for applications to explore for deep underground geothermal energy resources which can be utilised for the greenhouse friendly generation of electricity. Geothermal energy utilises the power of hot, dry rocks and water reservoirs from deep beneath the earth's surface to operate electricity generation turbines. A total of 31 blocks across Victoria have been offered to explorers to locate the state's best geothermal resources. The permit areas were unveiled at a recent function led by Victorian Energy Industries and Resources Minister, Theo Theophanous, with more than 70 industry participants attending.

Mr Theophanous said that unlike New Zealand, Australia's geothermal potential was not obvious on the surface, but he said that vast reserves of hot rocks and water potentially existed below ground. "Like wind energy, geothermal energy has minimal impact on the environment. However, it has significant potential to provide us with a clean form of power," he said. "We expect that within six months there will be significant activity. Several companies have already expressed interest in this and have projects ready to go."

One company which has declared its interest in geothermal energy is Petratherm, which is already drilling for hot rocks in South Australia. Petratherm managing director Peter Reid said the Gippsland and Otway basins had the right geological features to host geothermal energy resources and added thai the areas were also well served with existing infrastructure which could aid the development of any resources discovered in the areas. Oil and gas exploration group, Lakes Oil Ltd is also keen to participate in the geothermal energy application process.

Chairman Rob Annells said the company's drilling activities in the Gippsland Basin area and in the Otway Basin west of Melbourne had already provided Lakes with a large amount of knowledge about potential geothermal energy resources in Victoria. "We've got a fair idea of where there are some good areas," Mr Annells said, adding that Lakes has advocated for geothermal energy for a number of years. New legislation to promote large-scale geothermal operations was adopted in Victoria last year to support investment in geothermal energy. The Geothermal Energy Resources Act 2005 (GER Act) puts in place a framework that gives secure title to the resource, provides efficient and effective allocation processes, and establishes transparent, fair and efficient land use, environment planning and land access processes.

The legislation ensures that health, safety and environmental issues are considered as part of geothermal operations. It is designed to apply only to major energy investment projects so it does not require exploration permits or extraction licences where the in situ temperature is less than 70°C or the heat source is less than 1 kilometre below the earth's surface. Small-scale commercial projects such as fish farms or the heating of municipal swimming pools are unlikely to be affectec by the GER Act. DPI's GeoScience Victoria group has produced a free geoscience data DVD for companies considering exploring Victoria for sites of likely geothermal power generation.

Groups interested in applying for one or more geothermal permit areas must submit an exploration work plan for the area of interest which will be assessed against set criteria. Closing date for applications is 11 October 2006 with new permits likely to be granted in late 2006 or early 2007.

For more information visit:
Contact: Roger Buckley, Manager Business Development Department of Primary Industries Phone: 03 9658 4402

Wednesday 12 July 2006

A blast of vital power

The Weekly Times, Page: 17
Wednesday, 12 July 2006

The Federal Government is ill-informed on the wind energy debate, says Dominique La Fontaine

THE time has come to set the record straight on wind energy, after a great deal of recent debate prompted by illinformed comments. Despite misleading claims to the contrary, the Australian wind energy industry does not exist because of taxpayer subsidies. An individual wind farm project may cost anywhere from $100 million to $400 million and the developer must carry the entire financial liability without government funding. The only guarantee the wind energy sector receives is guaranteed access to a share of half a per cent of the electricity market, through the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target scheme.

MRET was created in part to level the disparity between high carbon dioxide emitting and low carbon dioxide emitting generation systems. The MRET is now full, meaning under the current federal regulations there is no incentive for anyone to invest in renewable energy in Australia. Recent comments by Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran (The Weekly Times, July 5) that the wind energy industry was "exaggerating its energy credentials and using government subsidies to build massive wind farms" are illinformed on several levels. Apart from the technical facts, which I will touch on shortly, it was disappointing to see the Federal Minister reject out of hand a technology that provides regular guaranteed income to hundreds of farmers while also helping to tackle climate change, the greatest medium to long-term threat to their livelihoods.

The wind energy industry does not pretend to be the single answer to our future electricity needs. Instead it aims to be a significant part of the mix of technologies that will supply our power for years to come. The difference between wind and many other emission-free energy sources is that wind is available and working now, both here and overseas, with proven, reliable technology. There are 41 wind farms operating, with a total of 505 turbines.

Another two wind farms, with 98 more turbines, are under construction. On average, Australia has one single wind turbine for every 12,739 square km of land. Australia's present total installed capacity is 738 megawatts. In an average year that creates 2262 gigawatt-hours of electricity-enough to power 314,000 homes, or more than a quarter of Melbourne's domestic consumption.

At the same time, it is preventing the production of almost three million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, which is the equivalent of taking 680,000 cars off our roads or planting 4.39 million trees. Compared to other energy sources, wind uses a freely available, naturally occurring, unprocessed and inexhaustible fuel source, has zero security risk and produces no emissions. At least 98 per cent of the land used for wind turbines is also available for cropping or grazing, and at the end of its working life (20-25 years) a wind turbine can be easily and safely removed.

Now consider the cost. The best available modelling shows that if electricity from burning fossil fuels included the cost of pollution mitigation, be it geosequestration, so-called "clean" coal, or some other technology, wind power would be easily competitive. As for nuclear power, present cost estimates show it to be at a similar level to wind, but still with no long-term answer or guarantees about radioactive waste disposal. Wind is the fastest growing energy industry in the world.

China, India, the US, Canada and many European nations are leading the way in wind power. Australia is blessed with some of the best and most reliable winds on earth. The Federal Government can ensure it is ready to take advantage of this free natural resource by providing incentives for investment in wind. This would be a concrete step toward truly tackling our greenhouse gas emissions while also providing the power that modern society demands.

Dominique La Fontaine is the chief executive of Auswind, the Australian Wind Energy Association.

Wind power decision

Northern Guardian, Page: 1
Wednesday, 12 July 2006

The dunes at Coral Bay, a kilometre south of the settlement, are the likely site for three 55-metre wind turbines if the Environmental Protection Authority passes the Horizon Power assessment this month.

THE location of three giant wind turbines that will tower over Coral Bay is expected to be decided later this month. The two sites nominated for the 55-metre towers, capable of supplying 40 per cent of the town's electricity, are undergoing final assessment by the Environmental Protection Authority.

Horizon Power corporate affairs manager John Kitis said the preferred site, located a kilometre south of the settlement on top of sand dunes would be 15 per cent more efficient than the second nominated site. The efficiency meant 70,000 additional litres of diesel fuel would be needed to generate the difference each year. Mr Kitis said this would significantly increase the power station's ongoing costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Members of the community concerned about the visual impact of the new station requested the evaluation of the second site 500 metres east of the dune site.

Despite costs of infrastructure being more expensive at the dune site, Mr Kitis said these were outweighed by its improved performance and energy yield. "We investigated a number of sites and that was the best site from a range of criteria," he said. Mr Kitis said the visual impact created by wind turbines was not always negative. "They do become a drawcard for tourists," he said.

"People are intrigued by wind turbines." If the EPA deems the preferred dune site to be inappropriate, the proposal could be resubmitted with the alternative site being put forward for consideration. The proposal will be available for public comment after the assessment's completion.

Nuclear warning a sign of the times?

South Coast Register, Page: 2
Friday, 7 July 2006

DURING a holiday to Scotland in 2004, Nowra resident Ed Jolly and his family came across the disturbing image of a decommissioned nuclear power plant and a nearby beach polluted with radioactive particles. The sight revealed the end result of a nuclear reactor in an area similar to Murrays Beach and two years later an identical situation is threatening the Jervis Bay environment. Intrigued by the view of new wind farms functioning beside a decommissioned nuclear power plant near Thurso in Scotland, Mr Jolly and his family decided to take a closer look. On close observation they realised the huge infrastructure lay obsolete, about two kilometres away from the beach in a beautiful isolated area.

They continued to the beach only to be confronted with a warning sign. "Warning: Radioactive particles are being found on the beaches at Sandside. It is not advisable to take children or animals on to or dig or remove material from the beach or dune." After Murrays Beach at Jervis Bay was mentioned as a possible nuclear power plant site, Mr Jolly could not help but see the similarities between the two areas and does not want to see the same result.

"It was amazing to see the power plant in Scotland as their past and the wind farms as their future," he said. He said we have plenty of wind, sun and waves in Australia; we do not need nuclear power and what we saw in Scotland is the proof.

Port Augusta selected for wind farm project

ABC Online,
July 11, 2006. 9:30am (AEST)

South Australia's green energy targets have been given a boost with a decision to build a wind farm near Port Augusta. The company involved with the Lincoln Gap project, Wind Energy Solutions, says the project will create a up to 60 full-time jobs during construction. Company director Shane Darcy says the company chose South Australia because of the State Government's green energy policies. "We are quite happy to have been involved in windfarming in South Australia, South Australia is a very progressive state, forward looking, much more so than the Federal Government in that they themselves [are] setting targets for renewable energy in the state," he said.

Nearly 60 turbines will be built at the site, south-west of Port Augusta, sometime next year. Mr Darcy says it's not the only project it has planned in the state. "We are looking at several other sites at the moment; it'll just be a case of which one would come first, we have a list of certain criteria that will need to be fulfilled and we need to look at the wind farm for about 12 months before we can make any decision on the viability of the farm," he said. "At the moment, pole position is the Lincoln Gap farm.

Company re-applies for wind farm

ABC Ballarat | Local News | Story
Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Company re-applies for wind farm Pacific Hydro will re-lodge an application for a wind farm at Yaloak, near Ballan, east of Ballarat. The Victorian Government rejected the company's first bid a year ago, because of concerns about a population of wedge-tailed eagles. Pacific Hydro spokesman Andrew Richards says the plans for 70 turbines will be lodged in October or November. He says slight alterations to the position of some turbines, and favourable bird studies, have given the company confidence to re-apply.

In particular, he says they were focussing on the wedge-tailed eagle, which was the key issue at the time. "While we believed that there wasn't a significant impact, we have looked at what the Minister has required us to do - we've relocated a number of turbines away from wedge-tailed eagle high usage zones," Mr Richards said. "And with that re-defined windfarm we are doing additional modelling in relation to the wedge-tailed eagle."

Site work begins for another 53 turbines

The South Eastern Times, Page: 1
Thursday, 6 July 2006

The Woakwine Ranges overlooking Lake Bonney are again alive with the sound of heavy machinery with work having begun on stage two of the Babcock and Brown Lake Bonney Wind Farm. The stage involves the construction of another 53 turbines and the investment of another $400 million by the project proponents. Mt. Gambier Earthmovers have been in the area for the last two weeks constructing roads to the sites on 12 properties along a 10 kilometre corridor to the south of the existing wind mills.

The sites are all in the Wattle Range Council area. Work on the footings for the first towers began late last week, and these will begin arriving in over the coming months from Portland. The nacelles (turbines) and blades will once again come from the Danish company, Vestas Wind Systems, and will begin to arrive in Australia in October. The latest wind mills will be be larger than those of stage one and the nacelles will boast state-of-the art technology.

The blades will be 12 metres longer (45 metres) and the towers 13m. higher, increasing to 80m. Known as the V90 models, each turbine will be capable of producing three megawatts of electricity, compared to the 1.75MW of the present units.

Each will be hooked to the present Babcock and Brown sub-station sited in the middle of the stage one towers. To handle the extra power another transformer will have to be installed on the site. The first stage consisted of 46 wind mills and was opened in September, 2004, while the current project is expected to be completed in March, 2008. However, this will not be the conclusion of B&B's investment in the region as their spokesman, Miles George said his company was still considering a third stage involving five to 10 turbines to the north of the present mind mills.

"This is still a fair way down the track. We'll consider this when the second stage is finished," he said.

Footnote: International Power (Canunda Wind Farm) also has 23 turbines along the Woakwine Range.

Monday 10 July 2006

Texas Wind Energy

Wind is making electricity, cleaner air, and money in Texas...

There is plenty of wind out there and plenty of energy to be tapped. It's just like an oil field that doesn't run out. Tom Gray, AWEA

Wind is one of our nation’s greatest natural resources. Used by pioneers to pull water from underground aquifers, it was the principal energy source that made settlement of the Great Plains possible. In the 21st Century, wind has been harnessed to create electrical energy, powering an increasingly larger and larger percentage of the power grid.

Wind power is the fastest growing source of electricity generation in the world and continues to grow at record rates, more than quadrupling between 1999 and 2005. Global wind markets grew 47 percent to $11.8 billion in 2005, and are expected to reach $48.5 billion in 2015.

Recent advances in wind technology are helping to drive down the cost of wind to a level where it is cost competitive with more traditional sources of energy at close to five cents per kilowatt-hour. It is estimated that by 2010, new wind-driven power plants will generate energy much more cost-effectively than new coal or gas-fired power plants.

More than half of the United States has measurable wind resources that could support the development of utility-scale wind power plants. And with the developing technologies that have made it possible for turbines to get power from lower wind speeds, land that was previously unsuitable for wind turbines offers a new source of wind energy. Lower requisite wind speeds also allow for turbines to be placed closer to the homes and businesses that need to make use of them.


Wind farm energy OK

The Standard (Warrnambool), Page: 3
Monday, 10 July 2006

A STATE Government report has cleared the way for more wind farms to be built in the south-west. The report has found wind farms are successful in preventing greenhouse gas emissions, saving more than 250,000 tonnes of emissions each year, the same amount emitted by 60,000 cars. The report, prepared by McLennan Magasanik Associates for Sustainability Victoria, contradicts wind farm critics such as federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Peter McGauran. While in the south-west recently Mr McGauran said wind farms were a "complete fraud" that generate "next to no" electricity.

But State Environment Minister Theo Theophanous said the report proved wind farms in Victoria had generated enough energy to power 90,000 homes for a year. "This report shows critics of wind energy such as Mr McGauran are illinformed," Mr Theophanous said. The report found wind farms in Victoria produced 104 megawatts of energy a year. Mr Theophanous said this reinforced the Bracks Government's policy to support further wind energy development in Victoria.

This could mean more wind farm projects for the south-west. "This new report shows the greenhouse gas savings we can achieve as our wind energy industry grows in Victoria," Mr Theophanous said. "When our wind energy capacity approaches 1000 megawatts we are going to see some really big greenhouse savings, putting us on the path to avoiding dangerous climate change. "But Hawkesdale Macarthur Landscape Guardians president and neighbour to the proposed Macarthur Wind Farm, Roger Learmonth, was suspicious of the results and said he didn't believe they could have come from inland wind farms.

Wind farms cut emissions

The Canberra Times, Page: 6
Monday, 10 July 2006

Victoria's wind farms are saving more than 250,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year, a new report shows. The report, issued yesterday, found wind power was the best technology available to cut greenhouse gas emissions generated by electricity. Victorian Environment Minister John Thwaites said Victorian wind farms generated enough energy to power 90,000 homes for a year. They saved more than 250,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions - the equivalent of taking 60,000 cars off the state's roads.

"The research shows that the production of electricity from wind results in less burning of fossil fuels," Mr Thwaites said. "Each megawatt hour of wind energy generated in Victoria currently avoids producing, on average, one tonne of greenhouse emissions. "A typical 2 megawatt wind turbine in Victoria will reduce greenhouse emissions by about 6000 tonnes per year. "The independent study was carried out by McLennan Magasanik Associates for Sustainability Victoria.

The Victorian Government aims to produce 1000 megawatts of wind power by 2010, boosting the proportion of energy derived from renewable sources by 10 per cent. Energy, Industries and Resources Minister Theo Theophanous said the report supported this target. "This new report shows the huge greenhouse gas savings we can achieve as our wind energy industry grows in Victoria," Mr Theophanous said.

Wind farm study confounds critics, says Vic Govt
Sunday, 9 July 2006

There are claims today that Victoria's wind farms are saving more than 250,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

The Victorian Government says an independent study conducted for Sustainability Victoria shows the production of electricity from wind results in less burning of fossil fuels. State Energy Minister Theo Theophanus says the report also shows that critics of wind energy, including the Federal National Party MP Peter McGauran, are ill-informed. "In fact it shows that just one two-megawatt wind turbine can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum. It's a lot of CO2 to avoid going into the atmosphere," he said.

Mr Theophanus says the it is time for critics of wind farms to rethink their stance. He says a lot could be achieved if Victoria could reach its target of 1,000 megawatts of wind energy. "We would reduce greenhouse gases by up to 2.6 million tonnes every year," he said.

"That is a phenomenal figure, and really, Mr McGauran should just go back to school and try and learn a little bit more before he opens his mouth on these issues.".

State backs wind farms for beating gas crisis

The Sunday Age, Page: 3
Sunday, 9 July 2006

WIND farms are set to become more widespread across Victoria after a new report found turbines had a major impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The report is also a likely forerunner to the State Government's expected announcement of a mandatory renewable energy targets (MRET) scheme. "There has been this myth pushed around that wind farms don't displace fossil fuel greenhouse gas emissions," Environment Minister John Thwaites said. He said the report, released today, showed critics of wind energy were "ill-informed".

It found that Victoria's wind farms were saving more than 250,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year, the equivalent of taking 60,000 cars off the state's roads, he said. The report, commissioned by the State Government and produced by McLennan Magasanik Associates, found that for every 100 megawatts of wind energy produced, greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by between 240,000 and 290,000 tonnes. Victoria produces 104 megawatts of wind energy a year. Mr Thwaites said the report would push the case for an MRET scheme for Victoria.

Under the scheme, the economic competitiveness of wind power is increased compared with traditional fossil fuel energy sources. There was planning approval for new wind farms that could deliver an extra 511 megawatts of energy a year, the minister said. Building of new farms by industry had been delayed because the Federal Government's MRET scheme had effectively expired, he said. Energy Industries and Resources Minister Theo Theophanous said the market would take more wind-generated electricity if it were available.

Mr Thwaites said he was not concerned about orange-bellied parrots slowing down plans.

Kyoto in crisis

New Scientist, Page: 3
Saturday, 8 July 2006

FOR over a decade, Germany has been the poster-child of environmentalists demanding action to curb global warming. It has closed coal mines, pioneered wind power and dramatically improved energy efficiency. In the process, it has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 17 per cent from 1990 levels, the baseline year for emission targets set by the Kyoto Protocol. So there was horror this week when Angela Merkel's government called a halt to further cuts.

The country's environment ministry announced that it wanted to issue almost as many carbon dioxide emissions permits for industry for the 2008 to 2012 period, the first compliance period of the Kyoto Protocol, as it did for 2005 to 2007. This raises serious questions about whether Germany can meet its Kyoto promise of a 21 per cent cut in all greenhouse gas emissions. Is the Kyoto Protocol falling apart? Was the US right when it predicted that, when push came to shove, Europeans would ditch their green promises in favour of economic pragmatism?In truth, Germany was never that green. It has yet to do anything to curb climate change that is painful.

Its power stations switched from coal to natural gas to save money, not to cut emissions. And the biggest drop in emissions was in eastern Germany, where heavy industry collapsed after reunification. Now Merkel is under pressure from power companies, which refuse to invest in new generation capacity unless they are exempt from tough emissions caps. Meanwhile, the strong green lobby appears able and willing to veto new nuclear power plants.

The government is taking the easy way out. Germany can still meet its Kyoto target. Heavy industry is responsible for only around half of German emissions, and the government promises bigger cuts elsewhere, notably from vehicle emissions. This is optimistic.

A more likely scenario is that it will end up buying so-called "hot air" - spare Kyoto emissions permits from Russia and Ukraine. That would be a cop-out. It would keep the Kyoto show on the road, but it would severely undermine its credibility. It would also reduce the pressure on countries like the US and Australia to join Kyoto, at a time when the political pendulum on the issue appears to be swinging in the US.

The world will one day act with urgency to curb greenhouse gases: the likely violence of the atmosphere's reaction to our emissions makes that inevitable. Climate change awaits its 9/11.In the meantime, this is a critical moment for the Kyoto Protocol, the first serious effort to head off that crisis. Merkel should rethink; the European Commission and European governments should put pressure on her to do so.

Wind farm files to avoid scrutiny

The Australian,
July 08, 2006

RELEASING advice from federal bureaucrats about Environment Minister Ian Campbell's decision to block a multi-million-dollar wind farm is not in the public interest and could "promote ill-informed speculation about government decisions". The Department of Environment and Heritage made the ruling after the Bracks Government applied through Freedom of Information laws for documents relating to the decision to veto the wind farm.

Senator Campbell said the renewable energy proposal at Bald Hills, in the politically sensitive Victorian area of Gippsland, should not go ahead, on the grounds it posed an unacceptable risk to the endangered orange-bellied parrot.

However, The Australian reported that the chances of the rare parrot fatally colliding with wind farm turbines - as feared by Senator Campbell - was once every 1000 years.

When Senator Campbell blocked the $220 million project, in Victoria's southeast, he said it had the potential to kill one orange-bellied parrot a year.

Senator Campbell last night backed the decision of his department to not release key documents on the issue, saying it was being handled in an appropriate "procedural manner". "I've been completely open about the decision-making process for Bald Hills," he said.

His department granted full access to four documents and partial access to a further 30 documents. It denied access to six documents, saying "their disclosure would be contrary to the public interest in pursuing good governance". The documents included briefs, internal departmental supporting advice and correspondence.

Alex Rankin, assistant secretary of the department's environment assessment branch, said the information was necessary for the consideration and administration of decisions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

He said the information included possible options relating to the "deliberative processes involved in the function of the minister and the department". Release of the documents would harm the ability of officers to freely advise Senator Campbell and "present advice and options on sensitive issues".

He said release of the documents "may promote ill-informed speculation about the Government's decisions in relation to the environmental assessment and approval of proposals referred under the EPBC Act".

Victorian Planning Minister Rob Hulls said Senator Campbell should release the advice he received from his department over whether to approve the Bald Hills wind farm.

Windfarm project 'financially viable'

Albany Extra, Page: 3
Friday, 7 July 2006

The Denmark Community Windfarm group claims it will have a "bankable project," by October, after receiving the results of a draft study into the windfarm's feasibility. DCW chair Craig Chappelle, said that while some details still have to be resolved, the report has confirmed the project is technically possible and financially viable. "The report vindicates three years of hard slog, and demonstrates that renewable-energy generation is achievable at a community scale," Mr Chappelle said. Mr Chappelle said some technical issues still needed to be dealt with but were being worked through with Western Power and Perth based firm GHD Pty Ltd, who are overseeing the project.

South Coast Landscape Guardians chair Peter Mortimer, said he was wary of the DCW's claims that its report had justified its battle for a windfarm. 'They don't seem to have released much, they're keeping the facts very close to their chest. "Surely if they want to be open and accountable they have to be open with their reports," he said. "It's all a bit mysterious," Mr Mortimer said.

Mr Mortimer said DCW had to be more open to gain the community's trust, although Mr Chappelle said there is a growing acceptance in Denmark that wind power is a positive way to combat climate change. Mr Chappelle said the report showed two wind turbines could generate enough electricity for the project to run at a profit, within the limitations of Western Power's existing grid infrastructure.