Friday 18 August 2006

Wind farmers offer cash to save parrots

The Australian
Friday, 18 August 2006

THE Bald Hills wind farm developer has foreshadowed spending millions of dollars to protect the orange-bellied parrot and other threatened species in a bid to revive the $220 million project.
As police were called in to investigate $100,000 in damage to equipment on the wind farm site, developer Wind Power raised the prospect of committing a substantial sum to fund recovery programs for the parrot and other species.

The company is to submit a revamped proposal for the Victorian wind farm, which was blocked by Environment Minister Ian Campbell because of a perceived threat to the parrot. Senator Campbell has agreed to reconsider the project after the company took legal action.

Wind Power director Andrew Newbold told The Australian the company did not accept that the parrot was threatened by the wind farm, but was prepared to commit millions over the 25-year life of the project to manage all threatened species, including the parrot. "We would be prepared to commit large amounts of money which might add up to millions over 25 years to environmental recovery plans," he said.

"It's something we would believe in doing as part of good corporate behaviour."

Mr Newbold said police had been called in to investigate damage to two monitoring towers on the proposed wind farm site in Gippsland. He said he believed the towers, valued at $50,000 each, had been cut down using bolt cutters or a hacksaw.

'We're clearly disappointed about the property damage, but other than that, we'll let the police do their job," he said.

Rather than spending funds on a parrot breeding program, the company was considering using the money to revegetate bird habitat, he said. "If you spend money on revegetation of habitat, then not only can possibly the OBP benefit, then so can other species," he said.

Academic David Lindenmayer said approval of the wind farm could, contrary to Senator Campbell's belief, benefit the orange-bellied parrot.

Australian Democrats leader Lyn Allison welcomed the company's funding offer.

"The Government's own report said that preventing wind turbines would be of extremely limited beneficial value to conservation of the parrot without addressing very much greater cumulative effects that are currently operating," she said.

Wind farm planning equipment attacked

And they try to tell us they're rational people concerned about the environment. Here's proof, if ever it was needed, that morons and anti-windfarm extremists are indistinguishable...

Herald Sun
Friday, 18 August 2006

VANDALS have attacked equipment used to plan the controversial $220 million Bald Hills wind farm in South Gippsland.

Detectives are investigating the attack on two monitoring towers some time in the past week. Wires holding the equipment in place were cut on the two towers in the area southeast of Inverloch.

Wind Power director Andrew Newbold said the towers were worth $50,000 each.

Plan provides little reason to change

The Australian Financial Review, Page: 5
Wednesday, 16 August 2006

The Labor states' climate change plan will create a market price for emitting a tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (C02) but it will initially be so low that there will be little incentive to switch to renewable or clean-coal technologies. Under the most conservative scenario proposed by the states, emissions would be reduced by just 8 per cent between 2010 and 2030. While this compares to a 33 per cent increase if nothing is done, it's well below the cuts most believe are required to control global warming (60 per cent by 2050 is the position of many business leaders and environmentalists). Under this same scenario, wholesale electricity prices are forecast to increase by 45 per cent over that 20-year period.

And under the same scenario, a tonne of C02 would be valued at around $12 in 2010, rising to around $30 by 2030. This so called "price signal" is supposed to make up the cost difference between clean technology and coal-fired generation, which is the cheapest option. But until the price moves to around $30, solar, wind and even clean-coal technology would be priced out of the market. This means much of the action in the scheme's early years would be in switching from coal-fired power plants to gas-fired, which would require a price signal of between $10 and $14. Other measures such as energy efficient light bulbs and water saving shower heads (they use less hot water and therefore less electricity) would also come into play.

This is the low-hanging fruit, designed not to shock the economyin the scheme's early years. This gradual phase-in also gives clean and renewable technology time to become cheaper. This is a compromise for Peter Beattie. The Queensland Premier is sceptical about emissions trading, which is hardly surprising for a state leader with 300 years' worth of coal at his disposal.

He's said a trading scheme should not be introduced until clean-coal technology is cost competitive. Therefore the states look to havedeliberately kept the price of carbon low in the scheme's early years in order to give clean-coal technology time to develop. It should come into play around 2020. At present, so called "carbon sequestration", which stores CO, emission underground, would require a price signal of between $45 and $95, but this is likely to drop to around $30 over the next decade.

This price signal of around $30 is more in line with the European emissions trading scheme. The market, which comes under the Kyoto Protocol, has fluctuated wildly in recent months but looks to have settled around?16 ($27). The head of government affairs at Pacific Hydro, Andrew Richards, says the proposal by the states is a step in the right direction."The scheme can always be tinkered with at a later stage, but you need to get the early ground rules set for a carbon-constrained world," Richards says.

The chief executive of the Renewable Energy Generators of Australia, Susan Jeanes, says the plan is good for both sides in the climate debate."The discussion paper clearly shows that the costs of an emissions trading scheme is not going to bring the economy to its knees," she says. But for the scheme's detractors, and there will be many, a possible 45 per cent rise in the price of electricity is a burden the economy can't take when developing countries such as China and India are not making the same cuts.

Mini wind farm boon for Tennant Creek

Tennant Creek & District Times, Page: 3
Friday, 11 August 2006

A MINI wind farm is to be built at a Territory town. The two 30 metre-tall turbines will provide about 10 per cent of Tennant Creeks power. Single turbine generators will also be installed at other remote communities. Power and Waters said the Barkly Tableland was the only region in the Territory that consistently had enough wind to generate power.

The average wind speed at Tennant is five metres per second. Southern wind farms are powered by winds four times as strong. Power and Waters sustainable energy manager Trevor Horman said: "Wind power is marginal but feasible on the Barkly." The turbines would be installed on elevated ground.

Mr Horman said it was likely a turbine would be placed at either end of the town. The corporation yesterday called for expressions of interest from businesses to enter into an agreement to buy wind-powered electricity. The project has been made possible by the Australian Greenhouse Office recognising Tennant as eligible for its remote renewable power generation program.

This means investment in the wind turbines would qualify for rebates of about 50 per cent. Companies have until next month to submit expressions of interest. Mr Horman said he expected about six proposals. "The technology is well tested." he said.

Wind turbines have been praised for providing inexpensive, renewable energy but condemned for being blots on the landscape and killing birds. Mr Horman said Power and Water was proud of its rccord on renewable energy. He said corporation-backed projects included several large solar power stations, the use of biodiesel and a land gas generator. "We’re hoping a wind generator at Tennant Creek will add to these projects," said Mr Horman.

Roaring 40s' reply

Circular Head Chronicle, Page: 4
Thursday, 10 August 2006

Recent events at Roaring 40s Woolnorth Bluff Point Wind Farm, and the subsequent misinformation circulating in the wider community highlight the need for a balanced perspective when discussing any impact that wind farms may have on the local environment. Last week, an adult wedge-tailed eagle was found injured at the Woolnorth Wind Farm. The bird had a badly damaged wing, and was subsequently euthanased by a local vet. The incident was the fourth wedge-tailed eagle collision to have occurred at the farm since it commenced operating in 2002 (that’s an average of around one per year).

Despite what has been reported in some media outlets, the Woolnorth Wind Farm operates well inside permit conditions imposed as part of the environmental approval for the wind farm. As part of this approval process, a detailed risk assessment was conducted that suggested that the wind farm may contribute to up to 1.8 wedge-tailed eagle collisions per year. This risk was deemed acceptable under the Federal Act as part of the environmental approval of the wind farm.

While any impact on the local wedge-tailed eagle population is something that Roaring 40s is working hard to minimise, it must be recognised, as the regulatory authorities have done, that a very minor number of collisions are inevitable. What needs to be considered is the resultant effect of these collisions, which is extremely small, versus the alternative argument to disallow wind energy projects on environmental risk grounds. Wind energy like the energy produced at the Woolnorth Wind Farm, is clean, renewable energy It is entirely sustainable, and is contributing to Australia ’s overall attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (thanks to the electricity produced at Woolnorth, Australia reduces its carbon dioxide emissions by over half a million tonnes every year. That’s the same as taking 130,000 cars off the road).

As has been widely reported, climate change poses more of a risk to the preservation of all species on this planet than any other single factor. The Woolnorth Wind Farm is producing energy to help manage this risk, and this needs to be put in context when debating any minor impact that wind farms may have on the local environment. In addition to this, Roaring 40s undertakes a suite of measures aimed at having a positive effect on the overall wedge-tailed eagle population. These include nest protection, breeding programs, carrion removal, behavioural monitoring and the trialling of bird scarers.

When the sum of these measures is considered in context with the small impact the wind farm has on the overall wedge-tailed eagle population, the balance must be in support of the clean, renewable energy powering Tasmanian homes from the Woolnorth Wind Farm.

Josh Bradshaw Public Relations and Communications Manager Roaring 40s.

Solar Energy In A Tank

The Australian Financial Review, Page: 22
Monday, 14 August 2006

The first stage in developing a revolutionary new energy source for Australian industry is being trialled in Newcastle, one of the country's fossil fuel heartlands. The technology uses high temperature solar energy to chemically change any hydrocarbon containing gas, such as coal-seam methane or natural gas, to produce an enhanced synthetic gas - christened SolarGas by its CSIRO developers. SolarGas contains about 26 per cent more energy than the coal-seam methane or natural gas used to feed the process, produces 26 per cent less carbon dioxide during production and can be used not only for solar electricity generation but also as a feedstock for either SolarDiesel or for hydrogen extraction. Many people still regard hydrogen as one of the more likely alternative energy options in the future.

The significance of the hybrid solar/fossil process that produces SolarGas is that it uses a renewable energy source - the sun -to extract from existing fossil fuel resources a new, clean, energy source. It means Australia could become a producer and user of clean energy. SolarGas is useable as it is, or if a hydrogen economy does develop, then hydrogen extracted from SolarGas can be used in fuel cells, which are at an advanced stage of development and could be in motor vehicles in coming decades. Hydrogen is also the intended fuel for microscale gas turbines, which are seen as an opportunity to decentralise power generation by creating a network of small facilities powering townships, suburbs or even individual buildings.

SolarGas is now being tested at the National Solar Energy Centre (NSEC) in Newcastle as part of the Energy Transformed National Research Flagship program. The project is a collaboration led by CSIRO's Division of Energy Technology and includes the Department of Education, Science and Training, NSW's DEUS, Solar Heat and Power, DLR Germany and the Australian National University. The solar/fossil generator at the heart of the process comprises a solar array tower that uses 200 mirrors to concentrate more than 500kW of energy, capable of temperatures of more than 1200°C. Greater capacities are provided simply by replicating this single tower field with multiple fields.

The solar reforming process does not need such high temperatures and the subsequent new gas produced by this heat process becomes, in effect, a storable and transportable form of solar energy that has been created from a fossil fuel. It creates a way for Australia's vast reserves of fossil fuels, particularly coal, to become an integral part of the future, renewable energy matrix. CSIRO's Wes Stein, project leader of the NSEC, says the significant advance represented by SolarGas is that it represents solar energy that has been transformed into a chemical form that can be stored and transported. He believes this will go a long way to making the economics of solar energy comparable to existing energy sources, especially as fossil fuel industries increase their expenditure on zero-emission technology to meet increasingly stringent greenhouse gas emission targets.

Mr Stein believes the cost of zero-greenhouse gas energy sources, whether from renewables, fossil fuels or nuclear technology, will determine market share. Meanwhile, the country remains dependent on fossil fuels, particularly coal. Only about four per cent of electricity is generated from renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydro. The mirrors for the solar array tower at the Newcastle research facility were built by Solar Heat and Power Pty Limited, an Australian company specialising in the development and construction of large-scale solar concentrators.

Chairman Dr David Mills says the company is bidding for a 20,000 square metre scaled-up version of the Newcastle array in Germany. He points out the high temperatures produced by a solar tower array can be used to drive existing energy applications such as steam production, desalination, photovoltaic (PV) solar energy or for industrial process heat. Dr Christian Saltier, research area manager of Solar Materials Conversion with project partner DLR Germany, describes SolarGas as an opportunity for Australia to continue developing technology for a sustainable energy economy. "The hydrogen economy is being promoted worldwide and Australia is part of that movement," he says.

"There is the possibility of hydrogen becoming the energy carrier of the future and there is potential for Australia to become a major provider of that renewable energy." Dr Saltier says that the research being conducted by CSIRO, especially at the NSEC, is of vital importance to the global hydrogen movement. Electricity production from SolarGas has three stages. The first stage involves capturing the sun's heat with the solar tower array.

The tower comprises 200 closely packed mirrors that track he sun as it moves across the sky. Each mirror is concave to direct the sun's rays to a focal point on the tower which is positioned to accommodate seasonal changes without shadowing any mirrors, Mr Stein says the design has enabled the closest packing of mirrors anywhere in the world. The second stage is to apply the energy captured by the tower. The focal point for the mirrors concentrates the collected energy on;atalyst-packed receiver tubes through which water, vapour and natural gas flow.

The heated gases react to become SolarGas which can then be used to power a turbine - new efficiencies coming from the fact it can deliver 26 per cent more energy than natural gas. The third stage involves using the turbine to generate electricity. Mr Stein says the development comes as the world is clamouring for more energy, but at the same time must lower greenhouse gas emissions: "We can't afford not to develop solar energy, the world's largest sustainable energy source," he says. In 2003-04 Australia used 1,307,000 terajoules of black coal, 678,000 terajoules of brown coal and 343,000 terajoules of natural gas to generate 237,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity - producing more than 190 million tonnes of greenhouse gases (ABARE, Australian Greenhouse Office).

The significance of the issue is not lost on the fossil fuel industry, which in other energy projects is collaborating with CSIRO to develop Post-Combustion Capture technology. This involves the capture of carbon dioxide at power stations, then securely storing the gas deep underground. CSIRO Energy Technology is also providing technical expertise to support the use of Australian coal in advanced, low emission power generation technologies and to help optimise the processes of existing power stations. The SolarGas project was highly commended at the 2006 Engineers Australia Engineering Excellence Awards (Newcastle) and has been recognised by the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE) as one of the world's top 10 demonstration projects.

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