Friday 29 September 2006

Wind farm bus trip for locals

Cooma Monaro Express
Tuesday 26/9/2006, Page: 3

A BUS trip to Ararat has been organised for locals in a bid to show them the benefits wind farms provide to local communities. The November bus trip will give locals the opportunity to see the impacts wind turbines have on local communities.

Beverley Allen - who has been in the region for more than 50 years organised the bus trip and believes it will provide people with clarity on the controversial wind farm subject. "I think there has been a lot of misinformation on wind farms and I don't think the community should be divided over an issue they don't know much about," she said.

"I thought a lot of people had not seen a wind farm, and until you see one you don't know how it will impact on the community. A lot of people go on hearsay, when you see them they're quite majestic." The mayor of Ararat agrees and will give the people on the bus a civic reception.

"We will give everyone on the bus an opportunity to stand under a wind turbine," Cr Wilson said. "They're not as bad as some people make out and people will share that opinion once they're standing under one. In fact, I think wind farms enhance the landscape."

Cr Wilson said his community has never had a problem with wind farms. "We have never had one formal written complaint:' he said. "There was a few concerns but we had a consultation process so everyone was correctly informed about them." Mrs Allen believes everyone should support the trip.

"I think the community should get behind and support this, not only for Monaro but also for the wider community. If we are serious about reducing green house gases, we should look at wind farms because they will help fight the problem of climate change," she said. "As Ian Kiernan of Clean up Australia says: 'if you think wind farms are ugly, climate change is a lot more ugly'."

The bus will leave Cooma on Friday, November 17 and will return to Cooma Sunday, November 19. For more information on the Ararat bus trip contact Beverley Allen on 6456 3336.

Smorgasbord of surprises

Yarram Standard News
Wednesday 27/9/2006, Page: 10

BE immersed in a pantry of culture in the heart of Toora by simply following one's nose to the Windmill Café and Toora Bargain Centre. Danish pastries and German specialities offer a unique dining experience in the centre of town, created by Europeans Karen and Erwin Reschke.

Consider Bratwurst or bean schnitzel for lunch, and beautiful coffee, always. The café can seat up to 40 people, so is ideal for functions such as birthday parties, and is now open from Wednesday through to Sunday.

"We can make special meals to suit people's dietary requirements and allergies if we are informed beforehand," Karen said.

Community Internet facilities are available and a popular tourist attraction is the Toora Wind Farm information booth, featuring technical information about the benefit of the nearby wind turbines to the environment.

"All together, we like the idea of green, renewable, clean energy. We do have our own opinions but we accept people that are for or against wind farms:' Karen said.

Discover that each turbine stands 67m tall, plus three blades each spanning 33m. Together, the 12 turbines save 48,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year and power 6600 homes.

Wind turns the turbines that in turn spin a generator to produce electricity that travels through a transformer and into the local electricity network. The Toora Bargain Centre will entertain anyone with a fascination for all things old and intriguing.

"We've got a variety of antiques and collectibles, from old books to old china. It's always a worthwhile visit' Erwin said. A cabinet-maker by trade, Erwin has plans to set up a full sized display kitchen in a corner of the bargain centre.

"The kitchen will have two pack spray painted doors and panels, and granite benchtops," Erwin said. He also repairs antiques, no matter how tricky.

"We buy secondhand goods and items from deceased estates and pay cash when we pick the goods up' Karen said. The café and bargain centre are located in the former Great Southern Co-operative building, just on the top side of the central business district. Pop in and say 'g'day' or ring ahead on 5686 2417.

Potential in wind power

Ballarat News
Wednesday 27/9/2006 Page: 49

Wind power will be a major contributor to man's future energy needs. with the potential to provide more than a third of the world's electricity by 2050, a new report says. Launched by Greenpeace and the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the report said wind power was second only to solar power as the world's fastest growing energy source.

It could eliminate 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2020. But the report also warned that the industry was faltering in Australia, with the Federal Government persistently choosing dirty fossil fuels over clean, renewable energy.

"Australia has world-class wind resources," said Greenpeace Australia Pacific energy campaigner Mark Wakeham. "While states such as Victoria and South Australia have made some progressive steps in legislating renewable energy targets, the wind industry still lacks the long-term support it needs to match its prospects overseas.

"Federal and state governments should support wind power development via mandatory targets and by cutting back subsidies for fossil fuels."

Report author Sven Teske said Australia could be a global wind leader but needed an economically integrated industry with a manufacturing base, not just stand-alone projects.

"Wind is already cost competitive with gas in some locations and will become cheaper than coal in the future," he said. "If Australia fails to develop a wind industry, technology will have to be imported from overseas and our reliance on burning coal, the biggest contributor to climate change, will continue.

GWEC chairman Arthouros Zervos said wind energy was the most attractive solution to the world's energy challenges. "It is clean and fuel-free," he said. "Moreover, wind is indigenous and enough wind blows across the globe to cope with the ever-increasing electricity demand. "This report demonstrates that wind technology is not a dream for the future, it is real, it is mature and it can be developed on a large scale."

Democrats leader visits Bald Hill's

Great Southern Star
Tuesday 26/9/2006 Page: 5

THE Leader of the Australian Democrats Senator Lyn Allison visited the proposed site of the 52-turbine Bald Hills wind farm earlier today. Democrats spokesperson for resources, energy and infrastructure, Senator Allison is a strong advocate of renewable energy and a cautious supporter of wind power.

"I expect that wind farms will go ahead on the very windiest sites in Australia:' Senator Allison said recently. "There are some problems in that approach, because they tend to be also the most sensitive sites. "They'll be on coastal areas. They'll tend to be places which are environmentally sensitive and aesthetically sensitive.

"In a way it would be better if we had a scheme which allowed the wind farm to set up in places such as industrial sites alongside railway lines and freeways and the like. "We are running something of a risk that we'll see in Australia opposition to wind farms, because of that sensitivity to the sites."

Senator Allison attended a recent wind power roundtable in Canberra (September 11). Hosted by the Federal Minister for the environment Senator Ian Campbell, the conference called for a national wind farm code.

At the conference the Democrats called on the Federal Government to "not give precedence to people who oppose wind turbines purely because they don't like the look of them".

"While the Democrats support some sort of wind farm code or industry best practice guidelines to address site selection, environmental issues and community concerns, we would be concerned if individuals who lobby against wind farms because they don't like the look of them are given precedence over the broader need to address climate change."

Senator Allison said. "Climate change is a serious economic, social and environmental issue for Australia and wind farms play a key role in combating climate change."

Senator Allison also visited the property of Lindsay Marriott, of Tarwin Lower, who is one of several neighbouring farmers who have been contracted to have the turbines erected on their land. Accompanying the Senator was Wind Power Pty Ltd director Steve Buckle.

In a re-submission of his $220 million Bald Hills proposal to Minister Campbell earlier this month, Mr Buckle has offered to contribute almost $1 million towards a $3.2 million government fund to save the orangebellied parrot from extinction.

The tiny bird, of which few breeding pairs exist, became the centrepiece in the Bald Hills battle, when the Minister put a stop to the proposal by naming the endangered parrot as a potential turbine victim, even though the State Government had already approved the wind energy plant.

Wind Power took Federal court action, which was called off when the Minister agreed "to have another look" at the proposal by way of a revised submission. He received the submission a week ago.

It offers a contribution of $750,000 towards the parrot's recovery and breeding program and "set aside $25,000 per annum for the commercial life of the proposal (totalling $625,000) for a local community fund".

Pressure is coming from Victoria's Planning Minister Rob Hulls for Senator Campbell to improve the project. "This project has been through an exhaustive and independent public consultation process. Senator Campbell should just approve this wind farm and stop playing political games," Mr Hulls said.

Turbines moved plus parrot cash in new Bald Hills plans

South Gippsland Sentinel Times
Tuesday 26/9/2006, Page: 13

Wind Power Pty Ltd has made minor changes for its plans for the 52-turbine, $220 million wind farm at Bald Hills, to meet concerns about the threat to the endangered Orange-bellied parrot. A slight adjustment of the turbine configuration, extra funding for parrot conservation, and a new community fund were the main features of a new submission.

Wind Power hopes the changes will satisfy Federal environment minister Ian Campbell who blocked the wind farm in April. The Senator then agreed to accept a new submission from Wind Power in August under a deal that stopped court action from the proponent and the Victorian Government.

Andrew Newbold, representing Wind Power, said the revised plans focus on the Orange-bellied parrot (OPB). "The submission assumes, based on the Minister's previous decision, that the Orangebellied parrot is the only endangered or migratory species relevant to the decision in which the approval was not granted." he said.

"The proponent will contribute totals of $750,000 towards the orange bellied parrot conservation and recovery activities and $625,000 for a local community fund over the commercial life of the proposal."

Several turbines closest to the coast will also be shifted inland around 150 metres. "The site for the Bald Hills wind farm is not in the migratory path of the OBP because it does not encroach on the 2km coastal strip that is the OBP's usual potential migration zone."

While allowing the proponent to enter new plans. Senator Campbell also allowed objectors and supporters of the project t4 also enter new submissions. The move has infuriated state planning minister Rob Hulls, who claims Senator Campbell is stalling.

"Senator Ian Campbell has abandoned all pretence of One process with his latest political whim calling for public submissions." Mr Hulls said.

"This project has already been through an exhaustive and independent public consultation process, and now Senator Campbell wants people in a clandestine way to write to him without any public mechanism for testing those submissions," Mr Hulls said.

"This has been a debacle from the moment Ian Campbell laid eyes on it. He has become an orange-bellied embarrassment as he simply makes things up as he goes along without any respect for due process. "Senator Campbell should just approve this wind farm and stop playing his pathetic, childish political games that are putting renewable energy investment at risk."

Senator Campbell said the information would be assessed thoroughly and as promptly as possible. "I want all stakeholders to have the opportunity to have their say. Public submissions will be accepted until the close of business on Wednesday. October 11. "

The submission from Bald Hills Wind Farm Pty Ltd can be seen on my Department website" he said.

All comments must be provided in writing and addressed to:
Assistant Secretary,
Environment Assessment Branch,
Department of the Environment and Heritage.
GPO Box 787,
Canberra ACT 2601.

Italy 'rich' in renewable energy

September 26, 2006

Italy 'rich' in renewable energy: nation could lead way out of 'oil age'.

Italy is overflowing with renewable energy sources and could show the rest of the world how to live without oil, according to economist and philosopher Jeremy Rifkin .

In an interview with ANSA, Rifkin expressed the hope that the government of Romano Prodi will follow through on election pledges to develop alternative energy and put Italy on the road to a hydrogen-based economy .

Rifkin, the founder of the Foundation on Economic Trends, has written 17 books on the impact of scientific and technological change on the world. He says Italy, which consumes about six times the energy it produces, could greatly improve its position if it made full use of solar power, wind power, geothermal energy, hydro-electric power and biomasses .

"Italy could lead the world out of the age of oil and into the age of hydrogen. But I think that so far it hasn't even scraped the surface of its potential," he said .

One of Rifkin's books, published in 2002, outlines his vision of a future economy in which energy can no longer come from oil because deposits will have been exhausted. He suggests replacing oil with hydrogen fuel cells .

Rifkin, who advised Prodi on energy matters when he was EU president, praised him for introducing a 2 bln euro research programme aimed at the creation of an economy based on hydrogen. He noted that Prodi's centre-left coalition won Italian elections earlier this year on a platform which contained a commitment to a "future based on renewable energies" .

In line with his vision of a world on the cusp of a third industrial revolution, this one based on the Internet and energy from hydrogen, Rifkin suggested a route ahead for this and coming Italian governments .

The first step, and one that could be extended to any country, was to map out in detail the renewable energy sources available in Italy . Then, he said, the government should launch an energy- saving campaign so that the country could get by for the 25 or so years it would take to create the infrastructure of a hydrogen-based economy .

The next step would be to spend a large amount of public and private sector funds on developing the technology needed to exploit the country's renewable energy sources. Ultimately, there would be a system in which energy produced by solar panels or wind turbines would be used immediately and the excess used to create hydrogen. This would provide energy when natural sources could not .

The last stage of Rifkin's plan involves the creation of an energy network with the same universal access as the Internet. Everybody would be connected and could take energy from or put energy into the network just as Internet users today can upload or download information .

Energy from the network would cost more than that produced by individual users from their own hydrogen deposits. This would encourage people to be sparing with energy and self-sufficient .

"We need politicians, economic leaders and society in general to show a great deal of imagination," Rifkin said, calling for a nationwide debate on the future of energy in Italy .

Wind energy gathers speed in state
Posted on Tue, Sep. 26, 2006

Clean, renewable source gains fans...

The wind turbine outside the state Department of Environmental Protection's Moshannon Valley office spins enough to supply energy to about a third of the building.

In other parts of Pennsylvania, large-scale wind farms are popping up as companies and people look for energy that's clean and renewable. The state has even set a long-term goal: 18 percent of the energy companies sell to retail customers must be from alternative sources such as waste coal and wind power.

The growing interest in turning wind into energy has prompted the Penns Valley Conservation Association and Penns Valley Joint Planning Commission to host an informational forum starting at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Penns Valley Area High School.

Michael Arthur, an association board member who helped organize the event, said the idea behind the forum is to present the pros and cons of wind farms and information on small wind turbines. The area's ridge tops, Arthur noted, would be candidates for development of large wind fields.

At least one company looked into bringing wind turbines to the area. The forum will also have information for municipal governments, which might have to deal with regulating wind turbines.

Kerry Campbell, energy program specialist with the state Department of Environmental Protection, said that of the 18 percent alternative energy that has to be sold by 2021, almost half must come from true renewable sources including wind, solar and low-impact hydropower.

"Of that 18 percent, we expect wind to capture a really good portion," Campbell said.

Campbell will give one of the presentations at the forum, which will start with exhibits on solar hot water, green design and small wind turbines and systems. Bill Syrett, manager of the Penn State Weather Center, Pamela Denlinger, CEO of renewable energy company Solairenergy Inc., and Tim Schaeffer, executive director of Audubon Pennsylvania, will also speak.

Parts of Pennsylvania already have large wind turbines, which can be close to 400 feet tall and have blades about 260 feet across. Some view them as unsightly and have concerns about noise, wildlife and breaking up forested land.

The Pennsylvania Wind Working Group notes that some like the way wind farms look and they provide renewable energy without pollution. Ann Glaser, conservation association liaison to the Planning Commission, said the forum will also include information about small turbines, which can reduce pollution and bring economic savings.

Mike Smith, DEP Moshannon District mining manager, said in the past three months the wind turbine has produced 3,240 kilowatt hours of electricity and is expected to produce more in the windy, winter months.

It supplies energy to a third of the building and more on windy days. The turbine has the added appeal of charging a back-up battery that keeps the building operating during power outages. "It's worked great," he said. "It really generates a lot of power. We've been very happy with it."

Solar plant opening near Alamosa in 2007

Denver Post

SunEdison LLC announced Monday that it will build a $60 million solar energy generating station in southern Colorado that will be the largest of its type in the nation.

The 8-megawatt plant will be capable of powering 2,300 homes - small by utility-scale standards, but considered a pioneering effort by energy analysts.

Xcel Energy will buy the power output of the plant, helping the utility comply with 2004's Amendment 37 initiative that requires large utilities in Colorado to generate at least 10 percent of their electricity with renewable sources like wind and solar power by 2015.

The plant will employ conventional photovoltaic panels that convert sunlight to electricity, as well as solar concentrating panels, a newer technology that refocuses sunlight into beams of light 500 times more powerful than regular sunlight. The 80-acre plant, due to start operating by the end of 2007, will be built in Mosca, about 13 miles north of Alamosa in the San Luis Valley of south-central Colorado.

SunEdison, based in Baltimore, is one of North America's largest providers of solar energy services. Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy supplies electricity to 1.3 million customers in Colorado.

Thursday 28 September 2006

Efficient energy use

Sound Telegraph
Wednesday 27/9/2006 Page: 7

Naragebup Rockingham Regional Environment Centre is a finalist in the Community Energy Efficiency category of the awards. The Envirotech Building and the Renewable Energy Learning Centre are just part of Naragebup's energy efficiency project.

The Envirotech Building is a major component of Naragebup's operations and was designed to be as energy efficient as possible. Wind turbine energy helps power the building while solar energy is generated from 40 solar panels located on the north-facing roof.

While energy efficient lighting has been installed, natural daylight provides ample interior lighting on most days due to ideally placed big windows. More than 26 per cent of Naragebup's electrical energy consumption comes from renewable energy and compared with a standard commercial building, the centre uses less than 50 per cent of lighting energy.

Visitors can witness the amount of alternative energy being generated via the Renewable Energy Learning Centre, as all technology is on display. Naragebup is a non-profit environment centre that acts as a community resource, education and information hub. It provides energy efficient information, working demonstrations and practical advice to almost 25,000 visitors a year.

Wind farms up in the air

Portland Observer
Friday 22/9/2006, Page: 1

THE future of the Portland Wind Energy Project (PWEP) is up in the air following an announcement by Victorian Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu that he will scrap the Government's new Victorian Renewable Energy Targets (VRET) if elected in November.

The new VRET legislation, which increases the amount of renewable energy in Victoria from four per cent to 10 per cent by 2016, was passed through the Upper House of the Victorian Parliament last week, and was welcomed by Pacific Hydro.

Following an announcement by Mr Baillieu, Pacific Hydro has done a complete turn around, now claiming the scrapping of the VRET puts many projects in the firing line, including Portland.

In an article in The Age on Wednesday, Garry Weaven, executive chairman of Industry Funds Services, owner of Pacific Hydro, said "the company's Portland development faced shelving, and the Opposition's policy made contracts for wind farms impossible to find."

He said "Portland is under very serious consideration now ... Until that announcement by Ted Baillieu the answer was yes, it would be built ... the answer now is 'not necessarily' and we've got it under the microscope."

Member for South West Coast Denis Napthine said he was clearly disappointed Pacific Hydro looked like walking away from the PWEP. He said the PWEP offered enormous investment and job opportunities in the region and it was a project the community had been looking forward to for many years.

"It is simply unbelievable that given this project was approved several years ago and has been on the drawing board for a considerable amount of time, that Pac Hydro would now consider withdrawing from the project because of Liberal Party policies," Dr Napthine said.

"Clearly there are other, more substantial, reasons as to why Pac Hydro is now going cold on this project." Dr Napthine said there had been speculation for some years that the project was facing difficulties in raising finances and attracting a buyer for the electricity. "It would seem more likely these are the reasons for the delay or the stopping of the project."

Dr Napthine said it was also interesting that at the same time Pac Hydro was pouring cold water on the PWEP, other projects and a new hydro electricity project were going full steam ahead in Victoria. He has called on Pacific Hydro to be truthful and honest with the people of Portland and reveal what was really going on.

"The Portland community, including myself, have been very supportive of this project and we deserve to know the truth."

Pacific Hydro corporate affairs and marketing executive manager Andrew Richards denied Dr Napthine's claims. He said Stage 1 of the PWEP (Yambuk) was built based on the Federal Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET). He said due to a lengthy approval process for the remainder of the project, by the time Pacific Hydro were ready to go, the MRET scheme had started to wind down and had become fully subscribed.

Mr Richards said the VRET would provide another market for green energy and, if that was taken away, the financial viability of the PWEP would become questionable. He said wind energy projects needed VRET to provide a level playing field in terms of the costs of competing against coal industries. If the project went ahead without the VRET in place, the financial business case would not stack up, he said.

"We are still working to get the project ready to go, we have some contractors already but others are waiting to see what happens with the November election before signing on." Mr Richards said Pacific Hydro was still very much behind the project and wanted to do it.

"We understand people are frustrated that it hasn't started yet, so are we, but because of a lot of delays in the planning process we need VRET to give us a market for green power. If it is taken away we need to seriously reconsider not only the PWEP but all projects in Victoria."

Mr Richards said he hoped it would not come to this, but if VRET is repealed by an elected Liberal Party then the Pacific Hydro board of management would need to make some serious decisions.

An eco-friendly future

lllawarra Mercury
Tuesday 26/9/2006 Page: 34

Six hundred students from 10 Illawarra schools will investigate environmentally friendly technologies at Futureworld EcoTechnology Centre, Coniston.

BlueScope Steel sponsorship will provide transport and entry for Berkeley, Berkeley West, Cringila, Warrawong, Lake Heights, Coniston, Kemblawarra, Port Kembla, St Francis of Assisi, and St Patrick's primary schools.

Technology on display will include a solar-powered car and boat, wave energy, solar powered water pump and wind turbines.


Wind-generated education

Canberra Times
Tuesday 26/9/2006, Page: 7

Although most of the children knew how their family farms worked, none of them knew how turbines on a wind farm worked - until now. For the past six months children from six NSW schools have learnt about wind power as part of a $10,000 federally funded program, building their own wind turbines, which they put to the test yesterday.

The grant allowed schools from Collector, Gunning, Windellema, Tarago, Tirana and Breadalbane to work with Questacon developing the educational science program, Wind Gusters and Waste Busters.

The children met yesterday at Gunning Shire Hall and compared their own windturbine models to see which produced the most electricity. Collector Primary School principal Lindy Ross said the program was designed to stimulate an interest in science.

"It's important for the students to learn about how fun science can be so that we can produce more scientists for the future," she said. "They are learning that there is more to science than textbooks, it's about everyday things as well."

Wind farming is not a new issue for these communities, with debate about potential wind farms in the area occurring since 2003. Questacon's Patrick Helean said it was important to simplify larger issues such as renewable energy so children also understood. "It's important for kids to realise it's OK not to know everything, but to be able to make decisions based on what they do know," he said.

Ms Ross said the program took the big issue of wind farms and let students do their own indepth research. Students experimented to see what materials would conduct the most electricity.

Breadalbane Public School students used plastic water bottles for their blades, while Collector Public School found aluminium beer cans worked best. Breadalbane kindergarten student Joshua Hannan said making the blades was the best part, but for six-year-old Olivia Hannan it was testing the turbines. Questacon is evaluating the pilot program for possible future expansion.

Company to shift turbines

Border Mail
Tuesday 26/9/2006 Page: 12

THE company behind a proposed wind farm on Victoria's southeast coast hopes its latest planning submission will appease concerns about the endangered orange-bellied parrot.

Wind Power wants to build a 52-turbine wind farm at Bald Hills in South Gippsland.

Wind Power spokesman Andrew Newbold said yesterday the submission addressed the concerns of federal Minister for the Environment Ian Campbell, who knocked back the first application, saying the turbines threatened the endangered orange-bellied parrot.

"(The senator) agreed to reconsider the proposal according to the merits. Mr Newbold said. "The only physical changes are that we've moved six turbines a few metres back, and made it very clear there is a 150m buffer between the nearest turbine. "We're not losing any turbines and it's a concession we can feel comfortable making."

In April this year, Senator Campbell overturned State Government approval for the Bald Hills wind farm using his discretionary powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Despite a departmental report indicating there would be negligible effect on the bird species, an independent report found more serious concerns about potential parrot deaths.

The minister acted, blocking the $220 million project. But after Federal Court proceedings in August, Senator Campbell agreed to reconsider the decision and accept a revised submission.

It's clean and it's green, but Howard isn't interested in it

Tuesday 26/9/2006 Page: 15

We have lots of sun, but solar power is barely on the Government's radar.

IN MAY, John Howard called for a full-blooded debate" on nuclear power. When the Prime Minister asks for debate, we oblige, and the issue has attracted headlines since. But while nuclear, wind power and even carbon geosequestration are the subject of spirited discussion as we grapple with global warming, there's a clean, green power source that barely seems to rate a mention. It's solar power.

Australia is one of the world's sunniest countries and an innovator in solar research. We used to be a world leader in solar power," says the Australian Conservation Foundation's Erwin Jackson. Now we're falling abysmally behind countries like Japan."

For more than a decade, according to the New Internationalist, the Japanese Government has paid subsidies to householders who install photovoltaic panels on their roofs. The subsidies are being phased out but capacity is still expected to grow by 20 per cent a year.

Germany, meanwhile, has installed more than 100 times Australia's grid-connected solar capacity. Yet if you put the same panel on a roof in Australia (where it's sunnier) it would produce twice as much capacity," says Jackson.

But in Australia, the Federal Government is quietly phasing out the rebates available to homeowners who install panels. The rebate has been replaced by the $75 million Solar Cities project, in which four locations will be used to demonstrate and trial solar technology. In North Adelaide, the first "solar city", panels and "smart meters" will be installed in 1700 homes.

The project will run until 2011 - 13. While worthy, it will be limited to just a few locations and seems small fry compared with what's going on elsewhere. In Spain, the Government has legislated to require solar panels in all new and renovated shopping centres, offices, hotels or warehouses. Jackson says about 70 per cent of the panels made at BP Solar's Sydney manufacturing plant are sold overseas.

It costs about $10,000 to $15,000 to put panels on your roof. We have the technology. We just need to make it cheaper. Says Haydn Fletcher from Melbourne firm Going Solar: "We already know how to become solar cities. .. What we need is policy change." He says the past 10 months have been the quietest he's seen.

No single power source can replace our reliance on coal; we need diversity. Solar is not the panacea. But there's so much more we could do to foster an affordable, large-scale industry. Far from a fringe affair, the foundation says solar PV is the fastest-growing energy technology in the world, with growth rates of 60 per cent annually over the past five years.

One effective way to encourage investment in solar power is to reward panel owners for the unused power they can feed into the electricity grid. Many in the local solar industry are calling for the introduction of a feed-in tariff", where a small levy is added to all power bills. The money is then used to pay households or businesses for their excess solar power at a higher rate than that paid to dirtier sources.

Governments in Germany, Italy, China, Indonesia, Spain, South Korea and Switzerland have kick-started their industry with such a tariff. A draft proposal prepared by BP Solar and Conergy, says a feed-in tariff would cost the typical power consumer the equivalent of one cup of coffee a year (presumably about $3).

Things are happening slowly here. Melbourne firm Solar Systems has proposed a $420 million solar power station in north-western Victoria that could power 40,000 homes. Solar Systems and Boeing have developed the project using PV technology designed for satellites. They have applied for federal funding from the low emission technologies fund.

The State Government has legislated to require electricity retailers to meet 10 per cent of their energy needs through renewable sources by 2016. But the Victorian Opposition has pledged to scrap the scheme.

When the Prime Minister spoke in May, he described nuclear power, which produces radioactive waste, as cleaner and greener than other forms of power".

Whose debate do we want to have? The one framed by politicians in thrall to the mining lobby or a discussion about genuinely clean forms of power? Clearly the Government wants to boost our coal and uranium industries, but in 100 years' time will there even be an economy around to protect?

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Data collection a mast for wind project

Hepburn Shire Advocate
Wednesday 20/9/2006, Page: 3

A TEMPORARY monitoring mast has been erected on Leonards Hill to gather data about wind speed and direction. The 50-metre tower has two anemometers and wind vanes at different heights to gather information about the most appropriate turbines for the site.

The data will be used for the positioning and design of any turbines built in a proposed community wind farm. The proposed wind farm, worth $8 million, would include two wind turbines and be built on private farmland at Leonards Hill.

Penfold after more wind farms

Eyre Peninsula Tribune
Thursday 21/9/2006, Page: 2

Member for Flinders Liz Penfold will speak with a Western Australian company this week to try and secure a new wind farm on Eyre Peninsula.

Mrs Penfold said with the mining potential on the peninsula, and a desalination plant for Whyalla in the near future, there would be demand for more energy than ever before.

Sun on the stubble

Wimmera Mail Times
Friday 22/9/2006, Page: 20

Time to harvest solar energy...

THE possibility of the Wimmera tapping into a multi-million dollar solar energy power station excites me. Why wouldn't it? The Wimmera is well known for its flat plains and sunny skies and to miss the opportunity to take advantage of our situation would be to our detriment.

As our coal reserves start to dwindle and the ozone takes a battering, we have a duty to look forward as a region. Everyone in the Wimmera and southern Mallee would benefit. Remember when natural gas came to Horsham? That was a win for everyone.

Gas is cleaner, cheaper and I reckon better for cooking and heating- I'd have gas air-conditioning if I could! Can you imagine some big mirrors sitting out on the Kalkee plains generating power for the Wimmera? And imagine if we put up some wind turbines to generate wind power.

I'm sure there are plenty of farmers out there who would happily take the annual rent for having them in a paddock, which at the moment don't seem to be doing much except growing dust to swap with neighbours. Anyone standing outside on Tuesday will attest to the Wimmera's ability to generate wind - and I'm talking about the natural variety.

I can see a day when the Wimmera would be totally reliant on both solar and wind power. We could even cut the line to the east and therefore do our bit for the environment. I expect, though, that there will be people against such proposals but at the end of the day the sun and the wind are the only really environmentally-friendly power sources.

We've heard about the controversy of the Bald Hills and coastline wind turbines destroying birds and views, but out here in the Wimmera, even the stupidest bird could avoid a turbine, and if it doesn't, it's natural selection.

The turbines themselves would attract the odd tourist to the region too, not drive them away - who hasn't had a good look at the Challicum Hills towers east of Ararat on the way to Melbourne? Bring on solar and wind power.

Switching onto a sunrise industry

Wimmera Mail Times
Friday 22/9/2006, Page: 20

0n Wednesday we broke news that the Wimmera was in the running for a huge solar power station being planned by Melbourne company Solar Systems. The company confirmed it wants to build a solar station in north western Victoria, but is yet to settle on a site.

The station will be even bigger than groundbreaking stations already pumping 'environmentally friendly' power into thousands of homes in the Northern Territory. Solar Systems has built three solar stations in the territory, incorporating 30 dish-shaped mirrors which track the sun and focus and multiply its rays to create energy.

The company estimates the stations can save 420,000 litres of diesel a year and 1550 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. On the surface, solar energy is far more environmentally neutral than coal-fired power stations, it does not rely on damming waterways, it does not have the problems associated with nuclear power, and it does not chop up the occasional bird or make noise like wind farms.

As we said, a Victorian site is yet to be decided but it will be in northwestern Victoria and the Wimmera is in the running. If the Wimmera wants to be part of this - excuse the pun, sunrise industry, we must be on the front foot in putting our name forward to Solar Systems and the State Government. Wimmera Development Association has hit the ground running by launching an investigation into details of the project, and should be joined by a united bid from local government.

We have the sunshine, we have the space, we have the workforce. In these times of drought and gloom, it is good to see the possibility of a new, exciting and environmentally-beneficial industry.

Big Al's truth hurts, and our leaders can't handle the truth

Independent Weekly
Saturday 23/9/2006, Page: 11

One thing about terrorism: it's out there. We know about it. We are appalled that thugs could so pervert a religion that the inadequate are prepared to kill themselves as long as they please their indoctrinators and kill others as well.

So the threatened world instinctively decided to fight it at any level we can think of. We've rushed to an ill-considered war. We've made airline travel tedious. We've allowed our governments to eat away at the laws and rights we have developed over a couple of thousand years to help us live together. We've moved our borders. We've even tried to work out what our values are. And we have spent countless millions of dollars. We have, it is clear, taken terrorism very seriously indeed.

Yet terrorism is not the biggest danger we face. For much of the world, nothing has changed. More people die on our angry roads than from the bombs and hatred of terrorism.

Our greatest danger by far is the damage our way of life is inflicting on our now surprisingly fragile planet. It is global warming, climate change, call it what you like, but the way we are going we could blow the whole game away within a couple of generations.

Yet where is the fuss? Where is the steely-eyed determination to fight back? Where are the millions of dollars we should be spending? True, we talk about strange things like Ecologically Sustainable Development and washing machines and refrigerators in the stores have funny stars stuck on them.

Some odd people have cars that somehow partly work with electric motors, but they are probably as worried about the price of petrol as saving the world. A few wind farms are popping up, but many people complain about what they look like. They certainly look better than the tide sweeping in over the coastal suburbs.

Australia has a special status in this. Per head of population, we're one of the biggest polluters of all. We're addicted to our bountiful strata of coal - rich, black and ready to spew carbon dioxide into the air.

We've said: Blow the cost to the world, we're looking after our economy. A strong economy will not do us much good if droughts, floods and hurricanes make it impossible to live.

Go and see Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth. The "truth" is that the world is quickly being heated out of control. It is compelling stuff. There are one or two little American indulgences, but mainly this is a lecture with facts that no one has yet knocked down.

Most damning of all is a chart, courtesy of studies of layers of the Antarctic ice, of the world's temperatures going back more than 600,000 years. It shows behaviour in the past 10 years that has never happened before. It points to some 200 million people forced to be refugees within the lifetime of many of us.

Yet our Federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane offers the doltish view that he's not interested in the opinion of a failed candidate for the US presidency. And John Howard and Kim Beazley live in another, if temporary, world.

That failed candidacy is a monstrous loss.

Gore the man everyone thought was dull, has made this campaign a passion. It is inconceivable that he would not have stood up to Big Oil, Big Auto, Big Coal, Big Power Utilities and all the other entrenched Big lobbies that are leading our charge to oblivion.

Instead, the US and the world got George W Bush, who took America into war and helped it ratchet up to about a third of the world's contribution to global warming.

Gore is not defeated by this. He reckons we have the wit and resources to save ourselves. We've beaten the hole in the ozone and acid rain. But he thinks we have only about 10 years to steady things down.

It's a good feeling that South Australia seems to be the most determined state to fight for the future. Two-metre high wind turbines on government buildings is a great idea. It would be better if they were compulsory for every dwelling. They're only about $13,000 each and Australia has spent greater amounts on much more frivolous things.

But when the states tried to come together to shame John Howard's apathy, it was instructive to see how quickly the resource states, Queensland and Western Australia, slid away.

Alan Carpenter, Peter Beattie, Howard, Beazley and the economy ridden Minister Macfarlane should take an afternoon off and see An Inconvenient Truth. It might just break the drought.

Parrot safe from windmills

Herald Sun
Saturday 23/9/2006 Page: 11

A STUDY has discredited the Federal Government's claims that the rare orange-bellied parrot would be threatened by a Gippsland wind-farm development. The study confirmed fewer than one orange-bellied parrot would be killed every 1000 years by turbines at the Bald Hills wind farm.

"This is an overestimate of the likely collision rate," the report said.

Written by environment and bird experts, the report said the wind farm was not on the parrot's migratory route and its habitat was not found in the area. The study was prepared on behalf of Wind Power Pty Ltd, which has put in a revised proposal for the $220 million project.

When he rejected the initial proposal, Environment Minister Ian Campbell said the wind farm threatened a "serious and irreversible" impact on the bird. Opposition environment spokesman Anthony Albanese yesterday said the latest study proved the minister was wrong to intervene.

"The minister's dodgy science has been exposed, and the company's submission highlights that the minister's decision was only about marginal-seat politics," he said. Mr Campbell last month announced a $3.2 million grant to help the endangered parrot. That worked out to $32,000 for each of the 100 parrots in the wild.

Senator Campbell said at the time: "The orange-bellied parrot is considered to be one of the world's rarest and most endangered animals, with only 50 breeding pairs known to exist, which puts it in the same position as other iconic species such as the giant panda and siberian tiger," he said.

He described the migratory parrot as a real battler, saying it flew the equivalent of a Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race every year to breed in Tasmania. The money was to conserve habitat and control predators in Victoria. South Australia and Tasmania.

Cyclone Larry just 'midget', report claims

Cairns Post Saturday
23/9/2006 Page: 11

Cyclone Larry was only a "midget", according to Geoscience Australia.

Researchers who were on the ground within 48 hours of the category 5 storm have released a preliminary assessment of Cyclone Larry that categorises it as "midget because of the limited range of its destructive winds".

The report adds that coastal communities were not exposed to cyclonic winds and airborne debris for long periods as it moved relatively quickly at landfall.

"For a 'midget' cyclone, Larry packed a mean punch," it says.

Preliminary estimates of wind gusts at 10m high are between 200km/h and 235km/h, compared to 180-200km/h gusts during the longer lasting Cyclone Winifred that hit the district 20 years ago.

The report says a boat sheltering in the South Johnstone River just east of Innisfail recorded winds gusting to 225km/h, while gusts were as strong as 294km/h near Bellenden Ker's peak and weakened to 187km/h by Ravenshoe's wind farm.

Geoscience Australia has postponed a community forum planned for Innisfail this week, as a more comprehensive one would be provided in several weeks' time.

Wind and sun could already power state

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 23/9/2006 Page: 19

SOLAR power could meet the state's electricity needs, with panels to satisfy it requiring the space of 10,000 AAMI Stadiums.

Wind power would need 10 times that amount of land to provide the energy - at one-tenth of the cost. An investigation by The Advertiser has found it is feasible to power the state on renewable energy alone.

Infrastructure could be built within 10 years. Based on the average daily consumption of electricity this week, Adelaide's The Solar Shop has figured 80 million solar panels, in stalled on a 200 sq km area, could meet SA's needs.

Managing director Adrian Ferraretto said the panels easily could be installed on the roofs of 500,000 buildings. "We wouldn't even have to utilise land space, just using the stuff that's there anyway," he said.

"We are the sunniest continent in the world and we don't use it."

Planet Ark director Paul Klymenko said the infrastructure would cost $40 billion, which could by covered by the superannuation industry. It already is investing in renewable energy.

Mr Klymenko said in the past year, $50 billion was invested in super funds. "Over a 10-year period, we think it is do-able," he said. "It's a drop in the ocean for superannuation companies with money sitting in the bank and wanting to spend it."

Greenpeace clean energy campaigner Mark Wakeham said 2000 wind turbines would generate enough electricity for what SA uses on average each day. The turbines could take up between 980 and 2030 sq kms of space but would have to be installed in areas which record enough wind.

The total cost was predicted at $4 billion. "We wouldn't suggest we should rely on wind power to produce SA's needs but a combination of solar power, wind power and geothermal energy," Mr Wakeham said. "But we could provide 30 per cent of the state's electricity through wind power without too many troubles."

SA has 216 wind turbines installed or under construction. "SA has a particularly good wind resource and with some improvements, it could export the electricity to other states," Mr Wakeham said. " The Government does not have the mechanisms in place to promote new projects."

Saving fuel and the environment using wind and low load diesel technology

West Australian
Monday 25/9/2006, Page: 3

Remote communities can save fuel, cut costs and reduce greenhouse emissions as a result of advanced technology developed by Verve Energy and Powercor.

Verve Energy teamed up with Northern Territory company Powercor to apply multiple engineering disciplines in developing a world-leading system which combines wind energy with new low-load diesel generation technology and features innovative control systems.

Under the brand Diesel and Wind Systems (DAWS), Verve Energy has built an enviable reputation with this innovative technology which is being used successfully in remote locations such as Denham the World Heritage area, Bremer Bay and Hopetoun.

This technology allows diesel engines to operate at loads as low as 5%. allowing 95% wind input - a significant improvement on other systems where the ratio is 40/60 at best.

Verve Energy and Powercor's collaboration has married electrical and mechanical engineering to stretch the boundaries of diesel power station design and operation with great success.

People power to blow Lib over

Monday 25/9/2006 Page: 4

THE wind-power debate in Victoria has put a former Liberal leader under grave pressure to keep his seat, with a People Power candidate snapping at his heels.

Despite a horror week - with the withdrawal of their lead candidate and problems with party registration - People Power is a chance to topple Liberal frontbencher Denis Napthine at the November poll, according to strategists from several parties.

Wind power is central to the contest for the seat of South-West Coast, which Dr Napthine holds by just a few hundred votes, with turbine and tower manufacture in Warrnambool and Portland generating 250 vital local jobs.

There are several wind farms in the electorate, and another major one in the pipeline aided by the Government's VRET scheme, which forces retailers to buy 10 per cent of their energy from renewable sources.

Like Labor, People Power is a strong supporter of wind farms, while the Liberal Party and Dr Napthine voted against the renewable energy target, and favour coal power.

People Power candidate Mike Noske, a businessman and former mayor, had previously fought Dr Napthine for Liberal preselection for the seat.

Wednesday 27 September 2006

Winds of change

October, 2006 Page: 34

Babcock & Brown wind partners has harnessed a renewable source of profit.

Fostering a market for renewable energy in Australia is one of the challenges facing investors and financiers in a market in which coal is indisputably a cheaper source of energy than almost all other alternative sources.

So the financial mechanics of organising large-scale investment in energy sources such as wind power depend, controversially, on a government scheme, the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target .

Against this background, the sponsors of the Lake Bonney wind farm project in South Australia were able to mitigate the commercial risks to create a project that generated good economic returns. Babcock & Brown Wind Partners (BBW), a listed entity on the Australian Stock Exchange, sponsored and provided the equity investment in Lake Bonney Stage 2, a wind farm now under construction on the Woakwine Range between Millicent and Mount Gambier in South Australia. The second stage of the wind farm will provide 53 turbines over 10 kilometres of the range, and is expected to generate a net annual electricity output of about 500 gigawatt hours.

Stage 2 is adjacent to a slightly smaller number of turbines installed three years earlier during the first stage of the project. For stage 1, BBW's advisers negotiated a conventional off-take contract with NSW electricity retailer Country Energy to buy 100 per cent of the electricity generated. In this instance, for Lake Bonney 2 BBW elected to sell the electricity generated directly on the spot market, an approach motivated by the relatively small number of generators in SA as well as confidence in their analysis of the outlook' for electricity prices.

Peter O'Connell, chief executive of Babcock & Brown Wind Partners, says the attitude of investors also informed their approach. "More than 80 per cent of our output worldwide is sold under fixed contracts. We've had a lot of comment, from shareholders that they'd like to balance that out, we do see a strong market for this sort of power in the future,"

The financiers had to share the sponsor's comfort on the merits of the spot market as opposed to the traditional contracting of the electrical output. As with other renewable energy projects, the legal framework in Australia means that wind farms have two revenue sources: the electricity itself, and revenues from selling the renewable energy certificates. The sponsors also entered into relatively unusual construction arrangements, with local contractors taking responsibility for site works (including roadworks, turbine bases and connection to the electricity grid), with the supplier of wind turbines, Vestas, obliged to install the turbines on site. "This required a great deal of attention to the coordination arrangements between the different contractors to ensure that the contracts meshed together as seamlessly as possible, O'Connell says.

BBW's advisers approached banks during the last quarter of 2005 and produced an information memorandum in January 2006. B&B picked a club of four banks to provide $310 million in nine-year term debt: Dexia, KBC, Societe Generale and Suncorp. Rothschild Australia provided $20 million in mezzanine finance, repayable after 11 years. The financial package also included a take-out on $90 million in non-recourse debt provided by BNP Paribas, Commonwealth Bank, West LB and Dexia for stage one of the project, a finding line negotiated three years ago.

O'Connell says of the banks: "They have reached a level of maturity over the statistics and data about wind farms that allows them to asses the risks. The [key performance indicators] for Lake Bonney 1 were well-known by the time we did Lake Bonney 2, so the banks understood the area's potential as a centre for wind generation"