Friday 25 August 2006

Texas to bid for wind research facility

Associated Press
Friday, 25 August 2006

AUSTIN, Texas - Texas will bid for a proposed Department of Energy wind turbine research and development facility, the state's land commissioner said Thursday.

The facility would be able to test wind turbine blades reaching 230 feet. Applications for the site are due Oct. 2.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates the project to cost approximately $5 million, assuming the building is leased rather than bought.

"This test facility will be a magnet for research and manufacturing," Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said. "It will establish Texas as a worldwide leader in wind power for the next 100 years."

Patterson said the state is well-suited for the facility with its ports, strong Gulf Coast winds and industrial know-how.

Long known as a top oil- and natural gas-producing state, Texas recently gained acclaim as the nation's top producer of wind energy.

Texas capacity stands at 2,370 megawatts, enough to power 600,000 average-sized homes a year, according to a midyear report released Tuesday by the American Wind Energy Association.

Farmers to harvest energy with mini wind turbines

Farmers to harvest energy with mini wind turbines
(24 August 2006)

Farmers could be 'planting' rows of mini-wind turbines in hedgerows soon, as part of an innovative project to harness the countryside's wind energy while avoiding the usual objections over 'unsightliness.'

The mini-turbines are a tenth the size of the traditional white giants and much less obtrusive, perhaps providing a way around one of the biggest obstacles to the development of wind power in the UK.

"We already have nearly 1000 machines across the country and people in general don't object to them because they're so small. By the time you've got a hundred yards or so away they disappear," Gordon Proven of Proven Energy, the Scottish renewables company behind the project, told edie.

"What we are trying to do is produce the same sort of power of a big wind farm but with smaller machines, and plant them most usually in hedges on farms," he said.

Proven Energy is asking farmers to join a scheme under which they hire out some of their land to 'plant' the 15-metre wind turbines in rows, with the power generated sold onto the electricity grid. Farmers will also benefit from lower energy prices under the concept, which the company has christened "windcrofting."

Additionally, farmers will not lose productive farmland as the turbines can be planted in hedgerows.

The company has already signed up about 30 farmers to the scheme - and that's even before starting to actively publicise it. Farmers have come forward spontaneously after hearing about the scheme from media reports.

"The farmers we have talked to have been very enthusiastic, particularly because it costs them nothing - they actually get money out of it," Gordon Proven said. "And we are not taking up their land - only hedges, set-aside land or any wasteland they might have."

His company initially hopes to start up seven such projects and recruit 3000 farmers, with clusters of five wind turbines per farm. The UK-wide scheme will be generating energy "equivalent to a nuclear power station," the company calculates.

"We seem to have stirred up quite a lot of interest in particular in Cornwall and Devon for some reason," Gordon Proven said.

"This has never been done before," he continued. "We've been trying to do this since 1998 and the market and the general feeling in the country is probably better now. But it helped when we came up with the name of "windcrofting" which seems to appeal to people," he continued.

The technology has an enormous potential, he believes: "If we had a turbine like this on every farm in Britain we would provide about 50 per cent of Britain's electricity, so that is the ultimate potential."

Solar World: S. Africa utility mulls solar

United Press International
Aug. 24, 2006

Everyone agrees that solar power is too expensive, but when the consumers in question have high unemployment and poverty rates coupled with access to the cheapest electricity in the world, the question of price becomes essential.

South Africa's only utility, Eskom, is considering building a 100-megawatt concentrator solar thermal power station in the Northern Cape province on South Africa's west coast. It would be the country's first solar energy project, as well as its first project in the field of renewable energy.

But the rise in price that would come with adding solar has the potential to harm poor South Africans.

"It really is a conundrum," John Ledger, the chairman of the Sustainable Energy Society of South Africa, told United Press International in a telephone interview.

South Africa's abundant supply of coal means customers pay 2 cents per kilowatt hour for its electricity. Since Eskom developed technology to use even low-grade coal with a high ash content, a low price has been virtually guaranteed.

By comparison, the average price for electricity in the United States is 11 cents per kilowatt hour.

Ninety percent of the electricity comes from coal burning, and there is one 1,800-megawatt nuclear plant as well, Ledger said. One half of 1 percent of the total energy produced is from renewable sources, according to Louis van Heerden, an Eskom corporate specialist on renewable energy.

"In 1994, after a democratic government was elected (for the first time), the government took on a massive rollout of electrification," Ledger said.

Many black South Africans living in rural regions or in the shanty townships around cities had been living unconnected to the grid under apartheid.

Now, Ledger said, the poor "enjoy the benefits of light, television and radio, but they don't use electricity for cooking because it's too expensive."

Instead, many families cook over coal fires inside their homes, Ledger said. The resulting smoke is highly toxic and causes "serious health problems and respiratory diseases, especially in children," Ledger said.

Of course, "we don't include environmental costs in the price of electricity," he said.

Solar energy proponents worldwide say that if environmental costs were factored, solar would come out to be the less expensive power source by far -- but this is usually a measure of costs to society rather than costs to individual consumers.

South Africa, the Sahara Desert, Saudi Arabia, central Australia, Peru and Bolivia have higher daily averages of effective sunshine than other places in the world that have succeeded with solar, such as the southwestern United States.

Professor Thomas Harms, of the University of Stellenbosch's department of mechanical engineering, did an electricity generation cost comparison for South Africa's Engineering News. He concluded that competing with a coal-fired power station is virtually impossible.

However, looking at morning and evening peak loads changes the whole picture, Harms said in the report.

"A shortage of peak power-generating plant capacity in South Africa means that base-load plants have to run intermittently at, say, 12 cents per kilowatt hour. This is an arbitrary figure and depends on the load factors, such as during which part of the day the coal plant feeds power into the grid -- the shorter the period, the more expensive it is."

Therefore, a solar power station in South Africa would have to incorporate energy storage to deliver at these peak load times, Harms told the newspaper.

The solar thermal tower design Eskom is considering is particularly good at energy storage, Harms said. In this design, an array of mirrors reflect sunlight onto a central tower several dozen meters tall. The resulting heat powers turbines, usually by creating steam.

Eskom's van Heerden told UPI in an e-mail that the utility would most likely act as a project manager in building the facility, but that the project would be subject to an open tender, with an emphasis placed on using the local workforce.

Ledger said he's optimistic the project will go through, and added that there is also a "big interest" in solar water heating.

Van Heerden said that it was not possible at the moment to speculate about the project's chances for success. "The current project phase concludes at the end of 2007, (and) the final investment decision will most likely be taken to the Eskom Board by February 2008," van Heerden wrote.

"It is estimated that the construction lead time will be three years," van Heerden said.

Why air con is ruining our environment

The Independant
24 August 2006

Our love of air con is making the world even hotter

During this summer's record-breaking heatwave judges removed their wigs in court, Buckingham Palace guards headed for the shade and the lions at Colchester Zoo were given blood-flavoured ice blocks to lick. It's no wonder we've been snapping up portable air-conditioning systems in a big way to cool down. Currys says it was selling two air-conditioning units every minute during the hottest periods. Other retailers say they have been selling 10 times as many units as usual.

And it's not just about comfort. In the heatwave of 2003, 30,000 people died across Europe, the continent's biggest ever natural disaster. Since then, governments have put measures in place to prevent heat-related deaths, including the installation of portable air-conditioning systems in care homes, older hospitals and schools.

We can hardly be blamed for cocooning ourselves in air-conditioned offices, cars, shops and increasingly our homes - especially with temperatures last month averaging 7C higher than usual across southern England and Scotland. Global warming forecasts predict that, within 40 years, every summer will be as sweltering as the 2003 heatwave. But the irony is, as we run away from the effects of global warming, we only add to the problem.

Air-conditioning to control heat and humidity was first developed in the US, and has been around for more than 100 years, but did not become popular until after the Second World War. It works by ducting air across the colder, heat-absorbing side of a thermostatically controlled refrigeration system and directing it back into the living environment. In water-cooled air-conditioning units the waste heat is carried away by the flow of water. In portable units, the heat is generally fed away via a flexible hose that has to be put out of a window. While this might stop us sweating on stifling summer days, it also adds around 50 per cent to the energy costs of a building and in cars increases fuel consumption by 10 to 14 per cent - a major concern when it comes to the environment.

Up until now, this hasn't been a big issue in Britain - unlike in the US, where roughly one-sixth of all electricity generated is used to cool buildings. But with record sales of air-conditioning systems, and 75 per cent of new cars in the UK coming with air-con (reducing fuel efficiency by up to four miles per gallon), it's a different story. For the first time the power-grid operator, National Grid, is reporting noticeable surges in power consumption on hot summer days - a situation previously confined to cold winter days when heating systems are turned to full.

But the fact is, as the world heats up, so does our reliance on cooling systems that consume large amounts of energy and result in further pollution of the planet. "Air-conditioning puts enormous demands on the electrical system," says Marsha Ackermann, author of Cool Comfort: America's Romance with Air-Conditioning. "In the US most electricity is produced by burning coal. So, like winter heating, cars and other forms of transit, air-conditioning contributes to dirty air, acid rain and global warming."

Based on government data, Stan Cox, a scientist at the Land Institute, Kansas, calculated that more than 1,500kg of carbon dioxide is emitted each year air-conditioning the average US home. The effects of this are particularly bad at night, he says. Over the past five summers, very high minimum daily temperatures (scoring in the top 10 per cent historically) have been far more widespread in the US than during any other five-year period. In the past, outdoor air used to cool at night, giving people a chance to recover. Now it doesn't, which, says Cox, is one reason why more people are dying.

While air-conditioning clearly isn't the sole culprit responsible for global warming, its use looks set to increase, not decrease. Experts agree that the best long-term plan is to make sure that new housing takes climate change into account. The Government's chief scientific adviser, Professor Sir David King, is considering setting up a Government-backed project that will map out better ways of designing buildings for the future. "There are ways of doing passive air-conditioning that don't use energy, and you can build that into the design," he says.

Such systems are known as geothermal pumps, which use the ground as a kind of battery. In winter the pump uses heat from the ground to heat the building, and in summer discharges heat from the building to the ground.

In the UK there are more than 1,000 geothermal systems installed - most are domestic or in small buildings. The UK's largest geothermal system was built into the Gloucestershire Constabulary's new headquarters. It provides 646 kilowatts of heating and 756 kilowatts of cooling for the 400 staff working in the building.

The new Environment Centre for Wales building will be heated and cooled using geothermal technology. "There are many benefits [to geothermal energy]," says Professor John Farrar, director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at Bangor University. "As well as cutting our use of non-renewable energy sources it also reduces carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere." The system has a 50-year life span, is virtually maintenance free and does not need cooling towers.

Specialists say that geothermal systems are well within the reach of middle-class householders. Patrick Sherriff, of geothermal Heating Installations, says it can cost as little as £5,000 to drill a bore hole hundreds of feet into the water-bearing chalk escarpment of the Chiltern hills that runs under London.

Greener attitudes to the way we cool down in summer are even changing in the US. "Just the other day, I was on the radio in Wisconsin during a heatwave - it was almost 32C at 6am," says Marsha Ackermann. "Yet virtually all of the callers were proud to say they found a way to minimise their use of air-conditioning by seeking shade, drinking cold liquid and taking hot baths."

Chilling the eco-friendly way:

Geothermal systems can be used to provide eco-friendly air-conditioning, heat and hot water in domestic or commercial environments.

In 2002, the Queen had contractors drill 400 feet into the chalk aquifer below the grounds to run a geothermal air-con system for the art gallery, built at Buckingham Palace to mark her Golden Jubilee.

She is planning on using the system to replace conventional heating sources for part of the palace.

The move inspired a trend among the super-rich to follow suit - Sir Elton John, Sir Richard Branson, and Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, have all got in on the geothermal act.

In 2004, Cornwall's Penwith Housing Association became the first in Britain to install geothermal systems for its tenants to heat and cool their homes.

President George W. Bush took the green heating and air-conditioning option when he installed a geothermal heat pump at his Texas ranch during the 2000 election campaign.

Study: Wind to blow $251M off energy bills

The Denver Business Journal
3:18 PM MDT Wednesday

A study released Wednesday by a trade association representing companies invested in the wind energy industry says Colorado customers of Xcel Energy Inc. are expected to save about $251 million in energy costs over the next 20 years through the use of wind energy vs. natural gas-fired power plants.

"It's a great hedge against natural gas and coal prices; it's a stable energy source," said Craig Cox, spokesman for the Interwest Energy Alliance, which paid $4,500 for the study.

The study also said that consumers could have saved an additional $186 million if all the wind projects Xcel pursued had come to fruition.

Several wind projects have fallen by the wayside in recent years due to a number of factors, ranging from higher costs of steel poles to support the turbines to difficulties negotiating agreements between developers and the utility.

But Xcel (NYSE: XEL), based in Minneapolis and Colorado's largest provider of electricity and natural gas, is among the nation's leaders in wind energy.

Colorado has about 282 megawatts of wind-generated power on its system today and another 775
megawatts of wind power are expected to be online by Dec. 31, 2007.

"We're very proud of what we've added to our system in terms of wind," said Xcel spokesman Tom Henley. "We're the No. 1 utility in the country in terms of wind, and we'll continue to grow our lead with the addition of the 775
megawatts slated for Colorado."

One megawatt of power, generated from coal or natural gas, typically serves up to 1,000 homes. A megawatt of power generated from wind serves less than that because the wind doesn't always blow at a steady pace.

Authors of the study were Jane Pater, who has worked on energy and environmental issues, and Ron Binz, former head of the Colorado Consumer Counsel's office.

The study also repeated the need for additional transmission lines, essentially highways for shipping electricity from rural and remote power plants to urban consumers.

"More transmission from Colorado's eastern plains wind resources would help struggling rural communities reap economic benefits from investment and jobs in wind plants, while Front Range consumers would have access to cleaner, more secure and lower cost electricity," said Ron Lehr, attorney and a former chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, in a statement. Lehr now represents the wind industry.

"It's time to 'connect the dots,' get transmission planned and built, and bring wind power benefits to the whole state," Lehr said in the statement.

Katrina, global warming and peak oil

When Hurricane Katrina struck the city of New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, it led to more than 1,000 deaths and $200 billion in damages and set off the largest, most costly disaster-relief operation in American history.

But was global warming to blame?

Scientists still don't agree, but there's plenty of evidence that global warming may have increased sea surface temperatures, which, in turn, would load the dice for bigger hurricanes.

Mike Tidwell thinks that this possibility should get more credit in Washington, where the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has tended to point the finger at natural cycles and away from global warming. Whatever the scientific basis for NOAA's position, it has been politically convenient for the Bush administration, which has finally accepted that global warming exists and is caused by humans, but continues to resist serious action to reduce greenhouse-gas pollution, saying it would hurt the economy and cost 4 million jobs.


Monday 21 August 2006

Issue raises ire for different reasons

The Star
Tuesday 15/8/2006, Page: 7

NATIONALS leader Peter Ryan, has spoken out in state parliament against wind farms.

Addressing his opposition to the government's Victorian Renewable Energy Bill, Mr Ryan said the wind energy industry was of "doubtful benefit" to Victoria. Mr Ryan is the Member for Gippsland South.

"The thing that really annoys me about this is that the government is absolutely consumed by these things (turbines) for sheer and utter political expediency," Mr Ryan thundered.

He's not the only one who has been angry about the subject of wind farms in recent days. At the last South Gippsland Shire Council meeting, Leongatha resident Wilma Western, was so cross, she said she was shaking.

What raised her ire was the council's apparent willingness to adopt what Mrs Western described as "the political platform of one section of the community". At issue was a council motion to support a submission to the Federal environment Minister by Prom Coast Guardians, calling for a national code for wind farms.

Speaking during public question time at the start of the meeting. Mrs Western made the following points:
  • How does council justify adopting the political platform of one section of the community without giving all members of the community a chance to make submissions?
  • The guardians groups have conducted a bitter and high-profile campaign against wind farm proposals and anyone who supports them, not only in South Gippsland but also in the western and central districts;
  • The guardians are a self appointed group and there is no evidence that they represent the majority view. Many people believe that wind farms properly sited in South Gippsland, would be a good thing but because of the bitterness of the local campaign, have kept a low profile;
  • How well informed are councillors about wind farms and their contribution to renewable non-polluting energy generation?
  • Have all councillors read information from both sides of the debate?
  • Has council ever invited wind farm proponents to put their case to the council?
  • How much time have councillors spent studying the views of experts on renewable energy generation and climate change?
  • Finally, how can council claim that it respects and welcomes community consultation when the only notice the community was given of this outrageous attempt to bulldoze a sectional political agenda into council policy was "two lines last night" in one of the local papers;
  • The people of Foster and Welshpool areas got no notice at all as their paper "only comes out today".
Mrs Western's questions were not answered, but she was told by the mayor Cr Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks. that the council agenda was available well ahead of its meetings.

After lengthy debate which was reported in last week's Star, councillors voted to call for the national code, but not to support the Prom Coast Guardians' submission.

In his parliamentary speech, Peter Ryan said there was "no economic modelling to support the assertions that the government makes". "It makes outrageous claims as to the benefits on a number of fronts. There will inevitably be costs to consumers," Mr Ryan said. He said wind turbines could only operate at about 30 per cent efficiency which was in stark contrast to other rural industries.

"What is an affront in country communities is that these communities are constantly being asked to be efficient, to be more productive, to be world's best practice and to be able to operate without any subsidies:' Mr Ryan said.

He also highlighted the social issues of significant concern in regional areas where the construction of turbines has divided residents. "The greatest cost is one that the government would have no knowledge of or regard for at all and it is this: the cost to the community," Mr Ryan said.

"In an age when country Victoria in particular needs its communities working as one towards common goals, these things are calculated to achieve precisely and exactly the opposite. "That is the tragedy of it."

Only minority against windfarms, says Newton

South Gippsland Sentinel Times
Tuesday 15/8/2006, Page: 43

South Gippsland Shire Councillor Bob Newton has renewed calls for a local referendum on wind farms, claiming only a vocal minority opposed them.

Cr Newton let fly at the most recent council meeting in Port Welshpool. He cheekily suggested the now famous orangebellied parrot did not exist in South Gippsland, and said cornplaints that windiarms reduced land values were unfounded.

He also said the windfarm issue had taken up far too much of the council's time, and believed water shortages were the biggest issue facing South Gippsland. His comments came in response to Cr David Lewis's move to write to Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell supporting his National Wind Farm Cede.

Cr Lewis said the shire should back the Prom Coast Guardians' submission to Senator Campbell on the code. But Cr Newton said Senator Campbell had egg on his face after it was revealed he went against his own department to block the Bald Hills windfarm.

"We should not be developing a policy based on the Prom Coast Guardians. "A referendum would get a true reading of the whole shire. When that's done. I'll back what the people say." Cr Newton did not hide from the fact that his property had been identified as an ideal site for a windfarm.

Cr Clyde Paterson supported the calls for a referendum,"The South Gippsland Shire must speak for the majority, or stay silent. "We can't endorse a lobby group, which has a very strong point of view, when there are many other views on the issue... If we conducted a poll, perhaps we'd get a very different result,

"I believe there are other more important issues that we should be looking at, such as the water shortages. "Why isn't the council spending more time writing to the government looking for expansions to the catchments?"

Leongatha resident Wilma Western attended the meeting and said the council should not back the Guardians without consulting the community first. "This is a self appointed group. There's no evidence to suggest they represent the local view." Mrs Western said there were many people who backed renewable energy projects who were not being heard.

Cr Lewis said the council was not opposed to windfarms, provided they were appropriately located. He said the State Government now had complete control over where they were situated. regardless of the problems they created for neighbors. "Every aspect is now under the control of the state. "The Federal Government has recognised this and formulated a code to stop these projects going ahead in areas where there is community opposition. "It would re-empower the local community and councils to make these decisions."

Mayor, Cr Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks, said he was in favor of any project that reduced greenhouse gas emissions. but was concerned that the State Government was too focussed on windfarms. "The problem is that the people who have the turbines on their property do quite well (through compensation), but it's the people living 500 metres away who suffer,"The noise travels downwind. These are the same principles at an airport, yet no-one in government is taking these concerns seriously.

"The neighbor gets nothing and the community gets nothing. They are built out of the area and installed by contractors who are from outside." He said a windfarm he inspected in the Western District was well located, as only the two landowners were effected,"You look at the number of people who'd be affected by the (proposed) Dollar wind farm, and it's huge, yet that doesn't carry any weight."

Steve Garito, whose Slilcock's Hill road property lies beneath the Toora windfarm, refuted Cr Newton's claim that land values were not affected. "Our property went down 27 percent in value as soon as the windfarm was approved in 2000, then it dropped another three percent when they were built, at a time when properties rose 25 percent in value across the shire," He said in real terms, his property had dropped in price by 50 percent.

Roaring 40s in boost from China

Launceston Examiner
Saturday 19/8/2006, Page: 22

Roaring 40s looks set to increase its interests in China after Premier Paul Lennon held highlevel talks with major energy companies in Beijing.

Roaring 40s, a joint venture between Hydro Tasmania and China Light and Power, already has partnerships with Guohua Energy Investment Corporation and China Datang Corporation, the largest power company in the country.

Mr Lennon met representatives of both companies during a day of talks yesterday. Mr Lennon said that Roaring 40s was set to extend its arrangement with Guohua for the Rongcheng wind farm, currently a 50MW project.

"There are plans to install a further 100MW over the medium term in a deal worth $300 million and I am hopeful that Roaring 40s will be able to play a crucial role in that development," he said.

Mr Lennon said that talks with China Datang Corporation were "extremely positive" and further developments with Roaring 40s were likely.

The Premier also held bilateral discussions with Madame Jiang, an influential member of the Chinese Government, over sustainable forestry.

Lies & Statistics

Australian Financial Review
Saturday 19/8/2006, Page: 63

Wind power can be relied on, argues Mark Diesendorf.

Prime Minister John Howard's energy initiative this week allocated $124 million for renewable energy projects in remote Australia. Howard cited Bremer Bay in WA, which gets 40 per cent of its electricity from a wind turbine.

Ironically, it's fashionable to label wind power as an intermittent energy source, making it unsuitable for replacing coal power.

Superficially this sounds plausible. Everyone knows a single wind turbine may start and stop many times in a day. Fallacies in the intermittency notion were originally refuted by a CSIRO/Australian National University research group I led in the 1980s.

The term intermittency is misleading when applied to several dispersed wind farms, because their total power output varies smoothly and very rarely drops to zero. Graham Sinden of Oxford University analysed over 30 years of wind data from 66 sites spread out over the UK. He found low wind speed events affecting more than 90 per cent of the UK had an average recurrence rate of only one hour per year.

Large-scale wind power is more appropriately described as "variable". The variability associated with breakdowns of conventional power stations is better described as "intermittent".

There is no such thing as totally reliable power. Because electricity cannot be stored cost effectively on a large scale, the electricity system is a continuous balancing act between two fluctuating variables, demand and supply. Integration of wind power merely adds a third fluctuating variable, which can be predicted quite well on an hour-to-hour and day-to-day basis.

The better models of the integration of wind power into electricity grids find that the additional system costs incurred by quite large penetrations of wind energy are small.

Even these studies overestimate the net costs, because they do not take into account the economic benefits of optimising the mix of conventional base, intermediate and peak load plant in the presence of wind power. Brian Martin and I showed that wind power can replace base-load power stations with the same annual energy generation.

For example, 2600 megawatts of wind turbines, with an annual average power output of about 850
megawatts, can replace a 1000 megawatt coal-fired power station with the same annual average power.

To maintain reliability of the generating system at the pre-wind level, a little additional peak-load plant (for example, gas turbine) has to be installed.

In at least three isolated small Australian grids (Denham, Hopetoun and Mawson Antarctic base), wind power supplies more than 40 per cent of annual electricity generation.

Technically, it is easier to integrate wind power into a large electricity grid, which offers both dispersed sites for wind farms and a mix of conventional base, intermediate and peak load plant for balancing supply and demand. The issue is economics: as the wind penetration increases beyond about 20 per cent, the additional costs of balancing and of lost wind energy during off-peak periods start to become significant.

Nevertheless, Denmark already generates 20 per cent of its electricity from the wind and so could Australia.

Chinese plans

Burnie Advocate
Monday 21/8/2006, Page: 9

PREMIER Paul Lennon says Tasmania's wind energy company Roaring 40s may be set to expand its operations in China. Mr Lennon, who is holding business talks in China, said Roaring 40s, a joint venture between Hydro Tasmania and China Light and Power, may be able to bolster its contracts in China.

The existing joint venture arrangement for the Rongcheng Wind Farm, in the Shandong Province, is for a 50MW wind energy project," Mr Lennon said. There are plans to install a further 100MW over the medium-term in a deal worth $300,000 and I am hopeful that Roaring 40s will be able to play a crucial role in that development."

Wind farm go-ahead

Herald Sun
Monday, 21 August 2006

AUSTRALIA'S most powerful wind farm will be built near Colac at a cost of $380 million.

The 116-turbine project has been approved for Mt Gellibrand on land leased from local farmers. Planning Minister Rob Hulls said it would generate enough capacity to power more than 133,000 Victorian homes a year.

"This is great news for the environment and great news for Victoria. . . and the Colac region," Mr Hulls said yesterday. He said the wind farm was approved after advice from an independent planning panel.

Victoria's ninth wind farm will create up to 120 construction jobs and 20-25 full-time jobs.

Mr Hulls said he did not believe federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell had any authority to block the project as he did with the $220 million Bald Hills wind farm in South Gippsland.

Bald Hills was initially rejected over fears it could harm endangered orange-bellied parrots. Developers said there was no evidence the farm would affect the parrots, but dropped court action in return for the Government reconsidering plans.

Mr Hulls said Bald Hills was a controlled action that required approval by the Federal Government under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

"This is not a controlled action. . . so it doesn't have to go through the Federal Government," he said. Mr Hulls said endangered birds would not be at risk by the Mt Gellibrand operation, due for completion in 2009.

"The issue of brolgas was taken into account and the panel recommended any amelioration of the impact of brolgas can certainly be done by the proponent," he said. "The proponent is prepared to do that."

Mr Hulls said only nine objections had been lodged after widespread community consultation.

"This is the most substantial announcement yet in Victoria in terms of wind farms. . . and I hope to be in a position to announce further wind farms in the not too distant future," he said.

German company Pro Ventum International won the contract for the Mt Gellibrand site and will start work early next year. The turbines will be 125m high and visible from the Princes Highway. Local landowner Tim Gore, who plans to have 32 turbines on his property, said he was not concerned about turbine noise.

Wind farms are shaping as a key point of difference between the Bracks Government and Opposition before the November 25 state poll. Liberal leader Ted Baillieu has promised a moratorium on any new developments, saying they are too heavily subsidised and inappropriately placed.

Wind farm closer

Cairns Post
Friday 18th, August 2006

A WIND farm big enough to power Cairns and to be built at Archer Point south of Cooktown will move a step closer today. Large chunks of seaward land will be set aside for Queensland's largest windfarm - expected to cost about $220 million to build over the next two years. Reserves would also be declared for Cook Shire Council parks and a future sea port, government sources revealed.

The land grab, which has the blessing of indigenous leaders, includes hundreds of hectares of prime bushland to be converted to national park and still more to he given to traditional land owners.

Windpower Queensland managing director Lloyd Stumer said today's handover of land was the first step towards a clean, independent power supply for the Far North. "It should generate more than enough power to supply Cairns," Mr Stumer said. "It's certainly the best site in Queensland for a wind farm. "A lot of Cairns's power comes from near Rockhainpton and that's a long way to send power. "North Queensland does need a new power supply because demand is growing. "There are no new sites for hydro-generation, there are no coal-powered stations and other than going to some silly idea like building a nuclear power station then wind is the answer."

The wind farm 30km south of Cooktown would initially generate about 120 mega-watts from up to 60 towers, with the possibility to expand to 250 megawatts if demand was high enough, Mr Stumer said.

Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation executive director Gerhardt Pearson described the wind farm as an economic lifeline for the Cooktown region. "I think that the establishment of a wind farm in that area would he a huge benefit to the whole community and while the construction of this is done primarily by technologically qualified people, certainly our intention is to engage the company in the recruitment of local people," Mr Pearson said.

Liberals plan to scrap green energy targets

The Age
Friday 18th, 2006

PLANS for a Mandatory Renewable Energy Target for electricity retailers would be scrapped by a state Liberal government. Last night Opposition energy spokesman Philip Davis said that, if elected, his party would repeal legislation for a Victorian Renewable Energy Target scheme announced by the Government.

The scheme would require electricity retailers to meet 10 per cent of their power from renewable sources by 2016. Speaking at the Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry's energy forum, Mr Davis said a Liberal Government would turn its attention towards cleaner ways of burning brown coal.

'Any significant greenhouse gas abatement produced in Victoria will come as a consequence of adopting new technologies in the brown coal sector," Mr Davis said. "The only way Victoria can maintain its low-cost-power competitive advantage is to invest in that sector." He rejected suggestions that the Liberals were walking away from renewable energy, but said any role it would play in meeting Victoria's energy needs in the future would be "marginal".

With the Government having the majority in both houses, the legislation is set to pass, possibly as early as next week. But Mr Davis said companies thinking of investing in renewable sources needed to know the risks. "I do this to ensure that industry has no uncertainty and will make no investment decision based on this flawed policy," he said.

Energy Minister Theo Theophanous said the decision was "appalling" and compared it to the Liberals previous plan to reverse tolls on EastLink. Mr Theophanous said he did not believe that the Liberals would break promises to companies that had already announced their intention to invest in wind farms: For the legislation to be repealed, a Liberal government would almost certainly need to rely on the support of the minor parties, which are likely to hold the balance of power in the upper house after the next election.

Greens energy spokesman Louis Delacretaz said his party would not vote to dismantle the legislation. But Nationals energy spokesman Peter Hall said his party would vote to repeal the renewable energy scheme. VECCI chief executive Neil Coulson said he welcomed debate on the scheme, but business needed certainty if it were to invest in the sector.

Green group backs emissions scheme

News Limited
August 16, 2006 11:38am

THE Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has backed plans for a state-based national emissions trading system. The cap and trade scheme would allow large amounts of emissions to be traded between companies for money.

It sets a national target of emissions for the three main polluting gases - carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Economic modelling for the scheme estimates it would add between $1 and $3.20 to weekly household electricity bills.

"An emissions trading scheme is an important plank of any serious response to global warming," ACF spokeswoman Monica Richter said in a statement. "At the moment it's cheaper to pollute than not damage the environment. Financial penalties to ensure polluters clean up their act can change this."

Ms Richter said placing a price on carbon would provide the right price signal to industry to invest in cleaner technologies other than dirty coal fired power stations. "It will help our economy become more efficient and drive investment in renewable energy," she said.

"While there might be a modest rise in electricity prices when we put a price on greenhouse pollution, we can more than offset these costs by adopting more energy efficient practices which will mean that our overall energy bills will go down, not up.

"Efficient appliances, lighting and insulation can dramatically cut energy bills and make homes more liveable," Ms Richter said. "In any case, no one thinks saving the planet will cost nothing."