Thursday 5 October 2006

Ensuring the energy supply by Danny Cameron

Engineers Australia
September, 2006, Page: 39

The incumbent government of Germany is to consider the reversal of the phase-out of nuclear power in Germany next year. The energy policy set by the prior government of Gerhard Schroder's coalition between the Social Democratic Party and the Greens is to undergo review in an analysis of the country's energy use.

Germany currently receives one third of its energy from nuclear power. The previous government scheduled to phase out nuclear power with a law that put a restriction to 32 years on the residual operating life of a reactor. This law brought into effect the phasing-out of the 17 plants still in operation over the next 15 years. The law also placed a ban on the construction of new nuclear power plants.

The formation of the grand coalition between the Christian and Social Democrats in September 2005 has raised the possibility of extending reactor lifetimes. Utilities are hoping to extend all 17 reactor lifetimes initially to 40 years, and some will then individually seek extensions to 60 years to be in line with the life expectancy of US reactors.

Seventeen experimental and commercial reactors have been shut down and are currently being decommissioned. Eleven have involved full demolition and site clearance.

The decommissioning of these reactors is expected to create about 10,000m3 of waste. Decommissioning the currently operating reactors is expected to produce some 115,000m3 of such wastes.

Current policy requires a deep repository to be located by 2030. In the meantime, all spent fuel and radioactive material from the decommissioned plants is required to stay on site until the deep repository is open.

Energy in Germany is the most expensive in Europe. Around half of the country's energy is derived from coal fired power stations.

As the country has signed the Kyoto Protocol, the government supports the development of cleaner burning and more efficient power stations. Supercritical boilers, designed to operate in elevated temperature and pressure environments, are currently being developed to retrofit old stations and for construction of new ones.

Germany leads Europe as the greatest solar and wind electricity generator. Its energy sector is predicting up to 25% of the German energy market will be by renewable sources within 15 years. The country's emphasis on renewable energy sources has resulted in the founding of numerous high-tech companies developing such technologies.

Germany is also a major exporter of wind turbines. 157,000 people work in the renewable energy sector in Germany, with a 5% increase in exports last year.

Wind farm an opportunity for action: Suzuki

Denmark Bulletin
Thursday 28/9/2006, Page: 3

INTERNATIONALLY-renowned environmentalist Dr David Suzuki believes Denmark residents should view its wind farm project as a long-term vision of sustainable change. Dr Suzuki spoke recently at the Perth Convention Centre about the environmental challenges of the 21st century.

The 70-year-old environmentalist was on a world tour of educating and promoting a more sustainable society. University of WA social work adult student Joanne Carter of Denmark heard Dr Suzuki's address and spoke to him afterwards about the proposed Denmark windfarm.

Mrs Carter expressed concerns regarding the project and how it had divided community members. Dr Suzuki said it was a common global experience for communities to lock horns on environmental issues such as constructing wind farms.

The polarising of issues could lead to stalemates, or winners and losers, but he reminded the community that `if the Earth loses we all lose'.

In response to the concerns of constructing turbines on an aesthetically pleasing part Denmark's coast, Dr Suzuki responded emphatically that `aesthetics is all in your head'. "Would you rather have a smoke stack or a nuclear power plant?"

He called for communities to work together to achieve a more sustainable way of living. There was choice to act now to minimise the extremities of an uncertain future. The wind farm was an opportunity for the Denmark community to take positive action, for the sake of their children.

In his address, Dr Suzuki was emphatic that science was in no doubt that the world was on the edge of a global environmental catastrophe. He highlighted the embarrassing fact that Australia and America were the only two industrialised countries yet to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, despite it now being international law.

The Kyoto Protocol was an international treaty designed to limit global greenhouse emissions. "Economic growth and success seem to be the prevailing arguments from the Federal Government as to why Australia won't sign Kyoto and move away from fossil fuels," Dr Suzuki said.

He implored his listeners to `stop listening to bogus arguments such as these'.

"When you look at countries like Germany and Denmark, which have made significant decreases in their energy demands because of wind power, and are reaping billions of dollars in export of this resource, I think Australia is completely out to lunch in what should be your leading area of science and technology," he said. "It's a tragedy," he said.

Democrats boss backs Bald Hills and Dollar

South Gippsland Sentinel Times
Tuesday 3/10/2006, Page: 9

Leader of the Australian Democrats Lyn Allison says she supports the development of both the Bald Hills and Dollar wind farms.

After visiting the Bald Hills site last week, and meeting with landowners who have agreed to have turbines on their properties, Ms Allison said the Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell's handling of the project was an embarrassment.

She also attacked the objectors to the Bald Hills proposal, accusing them of spreading lies and creating hysteria within the community.

"I'm appalled by the tactics used by a small group of people." she said. "I'm a strong supporter of wind energy. It's a great pity that the issue is dividing towns around here," she said.

She said objector groups were a reason not to support Senator Campbell's National Code for windfarrn generation which would give local communities more power in the planning process.

"The only problem with the code is that it would give greater powers of responsibility to so-called community concern groups which have whipped up hysteria and told lies. "These groups will always be there to find arguments against such proposals. "The code would result in a worse position than what we have now."

"Yes, local government should be involved in the planning process, but we need to get rid of the 'not in my backyard mentality'. "It is up to everyone to accept the need for renewable energy." Ms Allison said she would like to see more local councils, including those in metropolitan areas, embrace renewable energy projects.

But she said restraints in technology had limited such facilities to only the windiest sites. "I'd love to see more contributions from Melbourne and in Port Melbourne where I live." She said she looked forward to the day when power generating facilities could be placed on the sides of freeways, or along train lines.

"Advances in renewable energy, solar and wind, will give us an opportunity to distribute the load. 'I'm sure the people of the Latrobe Valley who live with the coal-fired power generation facility would love to share the load with other parts of Victoria.

"I understand that people don't like the look of the turbines but I see them more as examples of elegance in engineering. ''If we don't embrace this form of power generation, we won't get the cuts in greenhouse emissions that we know are necessary.

"The evidence is that climate change is hitting us and is hitting hard." She said the Bald Hills windfarm project had attracted interest from all around the world. "I believe it should go ahead. The orange bellied parrot argument was laughable. The way it has been handled has been really embarrassing.

"I hope the offer (from proponent Wind Power Pty Ltd) to move back the turbines from the coast gets the outcome that is needed to go ahead. "The vast majority of people in South Gippsland want to do the right thing, which is to find an alternative to coal-based power.

"South Gippsland can then be proud of its contribution to green power generation. She said she would also support the 48 turbine proposal at Dollar. "We will need more windfarms. and it seems to be a good site. It's had its share of objectors and protesters, but I'd be happy to back it."

Govt thinks fuel-saving idea is fishy

Knox Journal
Wednesday 4/10/2006, Page: 9

AS oil prices increase, demand for alternative fuels such as ethanol intensifies
- but there is one alternative that has received little attention.

Colin Gillam of Mt Evelyn started making biodiesel about eight years ago. He collects cooking oil from fish and chip shops and restaurants and turns it into fuel that is clean, cheap and efficient. "It's identical to diesel, you can run any diesel car on it - all you have to do is pour it in," Mr Gillam said.

The cooking oil is filtered to remove any "burnt crunchy bits". The end product is biodegradable and non-toxic, and has fewer emissions than petroleum-based diesel when burned. Mr Gillam said Australia had been slow to catch on to the benefits of biodiesel, unlike Europe and America where it was big business.

He said the Federal Government was largely to blame. In 2003, the Government imposed a 38 cents per litre tax on biodiesel. After two years of lobbying, the excise was dropped to 19 cents. biodiesel users must report back to the tax office with details of where they pick up the oil and how they use it.

"We must account for every drop of oil. "In other words they [the Federal Government] don't want us using it. "Oil companies are putting too much money into Liberal coffers."

Mr Gillam said often many people felt helpless in the fight against global warming. "People don't realise that there are little things they can do.

"They can install compact fluoro lights which can reduce your lighting bill by 75 per cent." Mr Gillam's work as managing director of Alternative Fuels and Energy caught the eye of the United Nations earlier this year. He sent four solar heaters to Afghanistan, where people have limited access to energy sources such as gas.

"People freeze to death over there in winter," he said. "And yet no one is taking advantage of the sun's energy." He said solar power had fallen off the Government's radar, while spirited debate continued on nuclear and wind power.

Mr Gillam will talk about alternative fuels and energy at the Knox Heritage Festival, as part of the architecture and environment series.

He will speak on October 21 at Stamford Park, 1070 Stud Road, Rowville.
Bookings essential: 9729 7287.

Power plan: credits, where they are due

Thursday 5/10/2006, Page: 2

CLEAN energy retailers and brokers will tap into a new source of income from January 1, when renewable energy trading begins in Victoria.

Under the Victorian Renewable Energy Target scheme (VRET), companies generating environmentally friendly energy will earn credits, worth an estimated $35-$43 each, that electricity retailers must buy.

Clean-energy suppliers will earn credits for each megawatt hour of clean energy they generate. Once they have accumulated a quantity of certificates, they can them sell them to electricity retailers such as Australian Gas Light or Origin Energy.

The certificates provide renewable energy companies with a source of income in addition to what they gain from selling electricity. Under VRET, unless retailers buy 10 per cent of their electricity from clean suppliers they face a Government-imposed penalty, initially set at $43 for each missing certificate.

By 2016 the Government wants 10 per cent of the state's electricity consumption to be met by wind, hydro and other environmentally friendly power generation methods, reducing greenhouse emissions by about 27 million tonnes.

AGL emerging markets manager Marc Barrington said few consumers knew what VRET or the Federal Government's Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) schemes actually did. And Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) executive director Riccardo Brazzale said that - despite the relative success of existing carbon markets and the introduction of Victoria's renewable energy market - more had to be done to manage global warming.

"We need to be more ambitious because the schemes we have in place are a really good start, but they're not even stabilising greenhouse emissions yet - greenhouse emissions are still rising," he said.

In its 2006 Carbon Markets Report, the BCSE said the VRET legislation passed by the Victorian Government places an obligation on electricity retailers to buy electricity from renewable sources. "The legislation is largely a carbon copy of the federal MRET legislation,'' the report stated.

Marianne Lourey, of the Department of Infrastructure's energy and security division, said that since VRET was locked in there had been announcements about four wind farm projects planned for Waubra, Naroghid near Camperdown, Mount Gellibrand near Colac and a community project in Hepburn. An announcement has also been made about a hydroelectric power station at Bogong in the state's north-east.

Once completed, these projects will begin earning VRET credits, which can then be sold on to energy retailers.

The latest polling from the Lowy Institute shows Australians care about climate change. Two thirds of respondents said global warming was a "serious and pressing problem".

Windfarm bus

Summit Sun
Thursday 28/9/2006, Page: 15

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.

Scientist urges solar power use

Townsville Bulletin
Wednesday 4/10/2006, Page: 4

HE'S one of the rock stars of modern science, and his message to Australia? Get a new prime minister.

Dr David Suzuki, who landed in Townsville yesterday to present a public lecture on sustainable energy, praised the Federal Government on helping bring a $30 million solar power trial to the twin cities.

But for Prime Minister John Howard to still withhold signing the Kyoto Protocol, the famed environmentalist and author of 32 books said it was putting the nation's future in jeopardy.

"For Mr Howard to continue to deny Kyoto and all that, I think it is really missing a huge opportunity for Australians, and it shows no vision or sign of leadership at all," Dr Suzuki said.

The Canadian scientist, who is best known for his television series The Nature of Things, believed the protocol to reduce greenhouse emissions should have been signed years ago.

"I'm surprised at Australia," he said. "I thought that Australia, like Canada, would believe that we are part of an international community of nations, and that if this was international law, then Australia ought to be complying.

"As of today, Australia and the United States are the only two industrial countries that have not signed on to Kyoto." Where Denmark and Germany lead the world in wind power, Australia could be the world leader in solar Australia," he said.

Nuclear Energy: Still a Bad Idea

Solar power is a better investment than a dated technology that's too expensive and dangerous.
By Jeremy Rifkin, author of "The Hydrogen Economy: The Creation of the World Wide Energy Web and the Redistribution of Power on Earth."
September 29, 2006

SUDDENLY, NUCLEAR power is in vogue. At the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, President Bush and Russian President Vladimir V. Putin announced a far-reaching agreement to cooperate in the rapid expansion of nuclear energy worldwide and called on other countries to join them. It was the latest in a series of high-profile initiatives by the White House to promote nuclear power. Bush argues that the future energy security of the United States and the world will depend on increasing reliance on nuclear energy.

A technology that for years suffered ignominiously in scientific purgatory has been resurrected. Its virtues have been heralded by the likes of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the famed scientist Sir James Lovelock and even a few renegade environmental activists. The nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979 and the horrific meltdown at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union in 1986 have become distant memories. Now, facing rising costs of oil on world markets and real-time global warming, nuclear technology has been given a public relations face-lift and is touted, by some, as the energy of choice in a post-oil era. However, before we let our enthusiasm run away from us, we ought to take a sober look at the consequences of re-nuclearizing the world.

First, nuclear power is unaffordable. With a minimum price tag of $2 billion each, new-generation nuclear power plants are 50% more expensive than putting coal-fired power plants online, and they are far more expensive than new gas-fired power plants. The cost of doubling nuclear power's share of U.S. electricity generation — which currently produces 20% of our electricity — could exceed half a trillion dollars. In a country facing record consumer and government debt, where is the money going to come from? Consumers would pay the price in terms of higher taxes to support government subsidies and higher electricity bills.

Second, 60 years into the nuclear era, our scientists still don't know how to safely transport, dispose of or store nuclear waste. Spent nuclear rods are piling up all over the world. In the United States, the federal government spent more than $8 billion and 20 years building what was supposed to be an airtight, underground burial tomb dug deep into Yucca Mountain in Nevada to hold radioactive material. The vault was designed to be leak-free for 10,000 years. Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency concedes that the underground storage facility will leak.

Third, according to a study conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2001, known uranium resources could fail to meet demand, possibly as early as 2026. Of course, new deposits could be discovered, and it is possible that new technological breakthroughs could reduce uranium requirements, but that remains purely speculative.

Fourth, building hundreds of nuclear power plants in an era of spreading Islamic terrorism seems insane. On the one hand the United States, the European Union and much of the world is frightened by the mere possibility that just one country — Iran — might use enriched uranium from its nuclear power plants for a nuclear bomb. On the other hand, many of the same governments are eager to spread nuclear power plants around the world, placing them in every nook and cranny of the planet. This means uranium and spent nuclear waste in transit everywhere and piling up in makeshift facilities, often close to heavily populated urban areas.

Nuclear power plants are the ultimate soft target for terrorist attacks. On Nov. 8, 2005, the Australian government arrested 18 suspected Islamic terrorists who were allegedly plotting to blow up Australia's only nuclear power plant. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission found that more than half of the nuclear power plants in this country failed to prevent a simulated attack on their facilities. We should all be very worried.

Finally, nuclear power represents the kind of highly centralised, clunky technology of a bygone era. In an age when distributed technologies are undermining hierarchies, decentralising power and giving rise to networks and open-source economic models, nuclear power seems strangely old-fashioned and obsolete. To a great extent, nuclear power was a Cold War creation. It represented massive concentration of power and reflected the geopolitics of a post-World War II era. Today, however, new technologies are giving people the tools they need to become active participants in an interconnected world. Nuclear power, by contrast, is elite power, controlled by the few. Its resurrection would be a step backward.

Instead, we should pursue an aggressive effort to bring the full range of decentralised renewable technologies online: solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and biomass. And we should establish a hydrogen storage infrastructure to ensure a steady, uninterrupted supply of power for our electricity needs and for transportation.

Our common energy future lies with the sun, not with uranium.

Low-wattage thinking

New Scientist
Saturday 30/9/2006, Page: 24

Small-scale renewable power schemes may sound great, but this flawed idea could wreck our chances of stopping global warming, argues George Monbiot

TO PREVENT global temperatures rising by 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, the rich nations must cut their carbon emissions by 90 per cent by 2030.

In seeking to work out how this might be done, I have made many surprising findings, but none has shocked me as much as the discovery that renewable micro-generation - whereby people generate their own electricity with devices on their houses or in their gardens - has been grossly over-hyped. Those who say we can produce all the electricity we need and heat our homes from renewable sources have harmed the campaign to stop climate chaos, by sowing complacency and misdirecting our efforts.

Here's an example of how misleading the rhetoric over microgeneration can be. Last year, the environmental architect Bill Dunster, who designed the famous BedZed zero-carbon development outside London, published a brochure claiming that "up to half of your annual electric needs can be met by a near silent micro wind turbine". The turbine he specified has a diameter of 1.75 metres.

A few months later Building for a Future magazine, which supports renewable energy, published an analysis of micro wind machines. In winds of 4 metres per second - higher than average for most of the UK - a 1.75-metre turbine produces about 5 per cent of an average household's annual electricity. To provide the 50 per cent Dunster advertises, you would need a machine 4 metres in diameter, which would rip the side off your house.

What's more, turbulence makes wind generators even less efficient, and to avoid it you must place them at least 11 metres above any obstacle within 100 metres. On most houses, this means constructing a minor hazard to aircraft. And the higher the pole, the more likely you are to inflict serious damage on your house. In almost all circumstances, micro wind turbines are a waste of time and money.

What about micro solar power? In his book Half Gone (Portobello Books, 2006), Jeremy Leggett, who is chief executive of the solar energy company Solarcentury, claims that "even in the cloudy UK, more electricity than the nation currently uses could be generated by putting photovoltaic roof tiles on all suitable roofs". This is a big claim, so you would expect it to come from a good source - a peer-reviewed journal, perhaps. But the reference Leggett gives is "SolarEnergy: brilliantly simple, BP pamphlet, available on UK petrol forecourts".

The estimate is contradicted by the European consultancy firm Future Energy Solutions, formerly the Energy Technology Support Unit, which calculated that if solar electricity could somehow achieve an efficiency of 12 to 15 per cent at all points of the compass, the "maximum practicable resource" in the UK in 2025 would be 266 terawatt-hours per year. Total annual electricity demand in the UK is currently 407 TWh.

Leggett's claim is even more misleading than this suggests. For a start, solar panels facing north produce less power than solar panels facing south. Furthermore, seeking to generate all our electricity this way would be staggeringly and pointlessly expensive; there are far better ways of spending the money. The International Energy Agency's MARKAL model puts the cost of saving carbon using solar electricity in 2020 at between £2200 and £330o a tonne. Its estimate for onshore macro wind power, by contrast, ranges between a saving of £4o and a cost of E130 a tonne. A third problem is that solar electricity supply is poorly matched to demand. In the UK, demand peaks on winter evenings.

Even if we could produce 407 TWh a year from solar panels on our roofs, most of it would be wasted.

What about the argument from some campaigners that even though micro-generators can make only a small contribution, they still wake people up to green issues? It seems more likely these devices will have the opposite effect, as their owners discover how badly they have been ripped off and their neighbours are driven insane by the constant yawing and stalling of the ill-sited windmill.

What's the alternative? Far from replacing the national grid with more localised power supplies, as the Green MEP Caroline Lucas suggests, we should be greatly expanding it to carry renewable energy from places where it is most abundant. This means, above all, a massive investment in offshore wind farms. A recent UK government report suggests England and Wales have a potential offshore wind resource of 3200 TWh. High-voltage direct current cables would allow us to make use of a larger area of the continental shelf. This means we can generate more electricity more reliably avoid spoiling the view from the land and keep out of birds' migration routes

The electricity system cannot be run on wind alone. But surely it's clear that building giant offshore windmills is a far better use of our time and money than putting mini-turbines in places where they will generate more anger than power.

Tuesday 3 October 2006

Remember Woodstock?

..well this is the Woodstock rally of our time and you have the chance to tell your grandchildren that you were there for them.

Climate Change: Want to do something positive?
Come and help make the words of a human sign:
Clean Energy for Eternity

When: 11.00 am, Sunday 8th October
Where: Commonwealth Place Canberra

Next to questacon and in front of Old Parliament House

Fun, carnival atmosphere! Performances and activities for all ages.
Helicopters will be filming for television

See for more information.

The Power of One - Make our message even more powerful and join us in Canberra on Sunday 8 October, 2006


Can one man make a difference? Ever thought that someone should do something about climate change?

Well, Dr Matthew Nott, an orthopaedic surgeon from the NSW South Coast (with about 10,000 of his closest friends) plans to do just that in Canberra next week.

After deciding that he could be that someone, Matthew has set about drawing attention to climate change and putting the pressure on governments to do something about it.

He’s already organised 3,000 forming the words “clean energy” on the beach at Tathra (population 1,200), and he’s swum 6km across the nearly frozen Lake Jindabyne, all to get people thinking, talking and acting on the issue.

His latest venture will see 10,000 people forming a giant human sign on the lawns in front of Old Parliament House, to focus attention on Australia’s woeful efforts to combat climate change.

Dr. Nott said: “Australians are the biggest polluters in the world per head of population, and our governments are doing nowhere near enough to change that situation.”

“I don’t care about political parties or interest groups. What I care about, and what ordinary Australians want, is real action to reduce greenhouse gas production, and that means real encouragement for clean energy technology.”

So on Sunday October 8, people power will come to Canberra to demonstrate the strength of feeling on this issue.

For more information, contact Matthew Nott.

What? Giant human sign – “Clean Energy for Eternity
Where? Reconciliation Place - between Questacon & the High Court, Canberra
When? 10am, Sunday October 8, 2006

Wind farms in Moorabool? Fat chance!

Ballan News
Thursday 28/9/2006, Page: 12

Environmental Opinion By Jon Rivers

A recent media release by the Moorabool Shire Council discussed the recent visit of the Mayor, Cr Peter Russell, to Canberra to participate in the round table discussion on needs to a national code for wind energy farms.

Cr Russell was invited by Senator Ian Campbell, the minister against wind farms, based on his previous decision to not allow a wind farm development because of a 1 in 1000 year possibility that an Orange bellied parrot "may" be killed. Senator Ian Campbell should be called the minister against the environment.

Apparently, the Moorabool Shire was asked to attend because of its experience with Yaloak and Clarkes Hills wind farms, according to the shires press release, both of which never made it past the planning stage.

What a fantastic record to be asked to attend a planning session for wind farms. The round table was actually the modern day equivalent of the Emperors clothes.

Isn't it great to have a bureaucracy that ensure vocal minorities are pampered to while we all go about absolutely stuffing up the environment for our children.

The bureaucrats can go home each night, smug in the fact that they have done the right thing by their career, their standing in the community, the bureaucratic process and the planning laws, so "stuff the environment".

Meanwhile, the greenhouse effect worsens, rain will become less (and it will, just look around), the economy in Southern Australia will be put at jeopardy, town's will run out of water. But rest assured, the bureaucrats will have lived on for another day, and so the political process continues.

How pathetic.

Cr Russell first said in the press release of how the Moorabool Shire council was committed to protecting the environment, showing leadership and in building environmental awareness.

So far, so good. He then went on to say that "any national code to this industry regarding the location of a wind farm must talk of the proper consultation with the community in the planning process"

What I fear he really said was, " Although as individuals many of us would like to have wind farms we must listen to and obey the vocal minority, the planning process pushed upon us by the state and federal government and our own special local idiosyncrasies, so sorry, but not wind farms for Moorabool as it is all just way too hard."

I really wish I was wrong, and would love to be proved wrong in the future, but the Moorabool area has a 100% strike rate against wind farms, whatever the reason.

Australia has a fantastic opportunity to build sustainable energy based on solar, wind and nuclear, and yet the political process stops it at all levels. The State Labor government has done some good things in the area of wind farms and has to be acknowledged and applauded as doing so, but does fade away with nuclear and happily allows the brown coal fired power stations to spew out dirty greenhouse gases and toxins that will always be in the environment for out children "enjoy".

This current generation should collectively hang our heads in shame at the future we will leave out children. No wind farms for rural Victoria, no clean nuclear, no solar, just the same old same old brown fired coal polluting the atmosphere. And our excuse, we are just part of the political process. I know I feel better because of this.

What's your opinion?

Wind farm named environmental award finalist

Central Midlands & Coastal Advocate
Thursday 28/9/2006, Page: 3

EMU Downs wind farm has been named as an finalist in this year's WA Environment Awards.

The Department of Conservation and Environment (DEC) awards recognise the commitment to protecting and maintaining WA's environment by businesses and local groups. Emu Downs has been nominated in the `Corporate Business leading by example' category and is one of five finalists in the category.

DEC Director General Keiran McNamara said the department had received more than 70 high quality nominations from across the state.

"Selection as a finalist in these awards is an outstanding achievement and is a reflection of the commitment and dedication shown to protecting the WA environment," Mr McNamara said.

The finalists have developed and implemented excellent initiatives that are helping to promote and maintain high standards in environmental care "I comment their commitment to working towards a health environment for present and future generations," he said.

The finalist, comprising of individuals, community groups and organisations will be judged in one of 10 categories with an overall winner chosen from all categories.

Winners will be announced at a presentation celebration on Friday November 17 at the Hyatt Regency Perth.

Campbell aid bid for `barred' wind farm

West Australian
Saturday 30/9/2006, Page: 4

Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell will be asked to provide another $1.3 million funding for the Denmark wind farm project he has vowed would not get another cent out of the Commonwealth.

The community group behind the controversial plan to place two wind turbines on the south coast town's Wilson Head has applied for the funding through the Sustainable Energy Development Office, administered by Senator Campbell.

Denmark Community Windfarm chairman Craig Chappelle said he believed the project met the funding criteria and Senator Campbell should not deny finance on the basis of his personal views. Senator Campbell has previously written to his ministerial colleagues demanding no more Federal money go towards the project, claiming it did not have community support.

His decision to block a wind farm in Victoria's Gippsland, because of concerns endangered parrots would be killed, is currently being reviewed.

Twin plans over to community

Ballarat Courier
Monday 2/10/2006, Page: 5

A WIND farm which could generate enough electricity to power 70,000 homes will be at the centre of two public information sessions next month. Pacific Hydro will hold the meetings to canvass feedback to its $150 million to $200 million project earmarked for Crowlands, between Ararat and Avoca.

Pacific Hydro community relations manager Emily Wood said the company had two proposed layouts, one for less than 70 turbines and another for 70 turbines, to put to the community.

Ms Wood said both projeets would generate the same amount of energy but each would use different turbines. She said feedback to the wind farm project, first proposed several years ago had been positive.

"There are some landholders who we have spoken to, to see if they are interested in hosting turbines and some are interested." Pacific Hydro built the $76 million Challicum Hills wind farm, which began operating in 2003.

"The nearby Challicum Hills wind farm has been a great successs for the local community and provides enough no-emission electricity to supply 25,000 Victorian homes each year," she said. "We hope the Crowlands wind farm will see a similar outcome, to help us reduce our impact on climate change and support the local community."

The company hopes to take advantage of the State Governmeint's Renewable Energy Legislation which requires energy retailers to purchase 10 per cent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2016 in an effort to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.

Ms Wood said the company hoped to submit a planning permit for the wind farm to the State Government within the next few months. The latest wind farm project comes after an announcement that the state's first community-owned wind farm could be built near Daylesford.

*Information sessions about the Crowlands wind farm will be held on October 18, from noon to 8pm, at the Crowlands Hall and on October 19 at the Ararat Town Hall.

Powering Australia through wind

Mining Chronicle
October, 2006, Page: 34

IN THE last 20 years, wind energy has gone from an emerging source of fuel to a significant energy resource in many countries. Generation costs have fallen by 50 per cent during the last 15 years, moving progressively towards the cost of conventional energy sources.

As at April 2006 there were some 82,000 wind turbines in more than 60 countries, providing a total of 59,264MW of installed capacity. Wind energy now generates 0.7 per cent of the world's electricity supply and is expected to represent 2.9 per cent of global electricity production by 2015.

Europe dominates the wind energy industry globally, accounting for 69 per cent of total installed capacity (41,044MW). The Americas is the second largest market, accounting for 17 per cent (10,062MW) of global production. In comparison, Australia only represents one per cent (717MW) of installed capacity of the global market. This is soon about to change.

International companies such as Babcock & Brown Wind Partners (BBW) is recognising Australia's potential in the alternative electricity market.

BBW was established in June 2003 and has successfully grown from a single-asset private investment company to a listed fund with a portfolio of wind energy assets, including wind farms in Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific. In addition, BBW has framework agreements in place with a pipeline of future opportunities in the US, Spain and Germany.

At present, Stage 2 of the company's Lake Bonney Wind Farm is under construction in South Australia.

Wind tower fabricator - one of Australia's most experienced

Mining Chronicle
October, 2006, Page: 34

THE COMPANY selected to fabricate and supply 53 towers for the latest stage of the Lake Bonney project is one of Australia's most experienced suppliers to the growing wind energy industry.

Heavy engineering specialist Keppel Prince Engineering has fabricated major steel wind farm components at its Portland, Victoria workshops since 2001. The company's first wind power industry fabrication contract involved the supply of 14 towers made from XLERPLATE® steel from BlueScope Steel for the pioneering Codrington wind farm in Victoria.

It has since supplied towers and foundation sections for five separate clients operating wind farms elsewhere in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. Keppel Prince has progressively increased its capabilities since it became a major resource for the wind farm industry.

It can now provide a complete service from the ground up, including the assembly of rotors and the erection of towers and nacelles, electrical terminations, painting, and welding. The company is using 8,000 tonnes of 350 Grade XLERPLATE® steel from BlueScope Steel to fabricate the 78m-Lake Bonney towers. The largest section is 30m long and weighs 57t.

"We have built up a huge amount of expertise working with XLERPLATE® steel to fabricate tower sections," said Keppel Prince managing director Steve Garner.

"Each tower is constructed from 150t of 350 Grade XLERPLATE® steel. We get the plate, roll it and weld the sections together. The plate thickness varies from 31mm at the base to 14mm at the top. Sections are fabricated to fine tolerances and strict quality standards demanded by our customer. After that, we do the full surface treatment, as well as fitting the internal ladders, platforms and electrical equipment," said Mr Garner.

According to Mr Garner, a good supplier is critical to the success of Keppel Prince projects. "When it comes to steel supply, price and availability are the two key areas," he said. "Our success on a project is based on this. BlueScope Steel's commitment to this project has been first-class - they have been very supportive. We have a great relationship with them."

Taking power with Clean Energy
September 28th 2006

While Magnetic Islanders are eagerly anticipating the Solar City trial a very effective way of reducing our fossil fuel footprint has been available for several years. It is Ergon's renewable energy program, Clean Energy.

A Townsville-based mother, Tanya Korn, turned an environmental negative into a positive by signing her family up for the program seven years ago. Tanya is one of the company's longest subscibers for Clean Energy. She thinks it is electricity consumers - residents and businesses - who really hold the power.

“As consumers, we can make choices—sustainable choices—that have a positive effect on the environment,” Ms Korn said. “Cleaner air and a healthier environment are the results of using renewable energy.” “By subscribing to Clean Energy, I am not only helping to conserve resources but reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Ms Korn said the long-term environmental benefits for future generations are priceless.

“When I heard about Clean Energy, I felt socially and morally obligated to sign up.” “I don’t even notice the amount we pay for Clean Energy on our quarterly bill, so it is obviously not hurting my hip pocket!”

Ergon Energy's Manager Regional Service Paul Ryan said customers can purchase Clean Energy from as little as $10 extra on their quarterly bills, which equates to about 10 cents per day.

“Our Clean Energy customers are paying for cleaner and renewable energy resources such as wind, by-products of sugar cane, macadamia nut shells, solar power and hydro-electricity, instead of fossil fuels,” Mr Ryan said.

“With almost 8500 residential and business Clean Energy customers, one fifth of all regional Queensland customers, North Queensland is helping to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“As a nation, more than 75 per cent of the electricity we use comes from coal, compared to 14 per cent natural gas and one per cent oil. Only eight per cent comes from renewable sources, so we can all do more,” he said.

Ergon Energy customers can purchase Clean Energy from as little as $10 extra on their quarterly bills, which equates to about 10 cents per day.

“To date, Ergon Energy's renewable energy programs have saved over 500,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. This is equivalent to planting more than two million trees,” he said.

To subscribe to Clean Energy from Ergon Energy, call 13 10 46.

Manchester City seeking world first with wind energy plan for stadium


Wind turbine plan for City of Manchester Stadium
Manchester City's football stadium could become the first in the world to be solely powered by renewable energy if an application to install a wind turbine is approved.

City council planners are considering a proposal to fit a turbine to power the City of Manchester Stadium. The proposed 85-metre-high wind turbine would include a viewing platform and a "green energy" classroom.

The renewable energy scheme at the Sportcity site, which may also include water recycling and the use of solar power, could in addition power at least 4,000 homes in the area. If the scheme is approved, homes or businesses in the area could buy their power from the stadium's spare reserves.

Manchester City councillor Neil Swannick said if the project is approved, it will continue a long history of energy production at the site, which was once used as a coal pit. The football club took over the City of Manchester Stadium after it was used for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Coal said top enemy in fighting global warming
Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:21pm ET

OSLO (Reuters) - Cheap coal will be the main enemy in a fight against global warming in the 21st century because high oil prices are likely to encourage a shift to coal before wind or solar power, a top economist said on Thursday.

Coal emits far more greenhouse gases, blamed by most scientists for a rise in world temperatures, per unit of energy when burned in power plants or factories than oil or natural gas.

"The most important environmental problem in the 21st century is coal, or you could say coal is the most important enemy," Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, told Reuters. "Coal is cheap, it is plentiful and it is quite evenly distributed over the entire planet," he said, noting that oil was more concentrated in a few regions such as the Middle East.

Many countries, led by the United States, are trying to create "clean coal" technologies to strip heat-trapping gases from the exhausts of power plants or factories. The gases could then be buried below ground.

"Coal plays an important geopolitical role, and for the next 300 years it will be plentiful," he said. With oil prices above about $50-$60 a barrel "then it is competitive to go from liquids to coal".

Electricity can be generated more cheaply and easily from coal than from renewable energy sources. Without restraints on greenhouse gases from coal "the next substitution process is not from oil to wind power, or to solar power or to biomass," he said. "The next step would be liquids to coal," he said.

Switching to coal would be less attractive if there were a global penalty for emitting carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, he said.

Cut Emissions

Countries bound by the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol have agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. The European Union has set up a system for trading carbon dioxide from industry in a bid to cut emissions.

In the European market for carbon dioxide, prices for CO2 emissions are around 12.6 euros ($16.02) per tonne. Burning a tonne of coal typically releases more than 3 tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

The scientific panel that advises the United Nations says that rising temperatures are likely to disrupt the climate and trigger ever more floods, heatwaves, erosion and drive up world sea levels by 9-88 cm (3.5-34.6 inches) by 2100.

Coal represented 25.1 percent of total world energy supply in 2004, little changed from 24.8 percent in 1973, according to the International Energy Agency which advises governments in rich nations. It forecasts that coal's share of rising energy use will dip to 23.1 percent in 2010 and to 22.9 percent by 2030.

President George W. Bush pulled out of Kyoto in 2001, arguing that it would cost U.S. jobs and unfairly left out developing nations from the first set of targets for 2012.

Riding the Wave of the Future

Lisbon, Sep 27

Atlantic Ocean waves are to light up 1,500 homes in the north of Portugal. The first 2.25 megawatts of electricity produced from wave power will be brought ashore at Aguçadoura, on the northern coast, as of October.

A submarine cable will bring the electrical energy ashore, and will feed directly into the national distribution grid controlled by the state-run Energias de Portugal (EDP) company.

It is a modest quantity, but it is the first stage of "the first power plant in the world to use waves as a source of renewable energy," engineer Rui Barros explained to IPS. He is director in charge of new activities at Enersis, the leading Portuguese company in the renewable energy field, which has vast experience in the use of hydraulic, photovoltaic, wind, geothermal and biomass energy sources.

After 10 years of intensive research, funded by the European Union and based on two decades of studies by the Superior Technical Institute in Lisbon, "this project, begun in 2003, is now in the world vanguard," Barros said.

Barros is convinced that "of all the varieties of renewable energy, perhaps harnessing the waves is the only one where Portugal might have a real future, so long as it can keep ahead of competing countries in what is currently a real technological race."

"One of our goals at Enersis" is to remain at the forefront of developments in this sector "in the years to come, and not just in the national market," the engineer added.

According to official estimates by the State Secretariat for Industry and Innovation, revenues from energy produced by wave power could in the next 40 years be equivalent to up to 30 percent of the current gross domestic product (GDP), which stands at 130 billion euros (166.5 billion dollars at the present exchange rate).

These forecasts are in line with those announced last month by Antonio Sarmento, the director of the Wave Energy Centre, who said that Portugal could win a ten percent share of the world technology and equipment market for building this type of "wave farms", estimated at about 385 billion dollars.

The Aguçadoura project was launched last spring, with the announcement of a pilot phase for commercial production, using the ocean waves as a renewable energy source. This date coincided with the start of activities by the Italian National Electricity Company (ENEL), which was also beginning to generate energy from the sea.

The Portuguese are using Atlantic Ocean waves, which are larger and more powerful than those of the Mediterranean Sea, while the Italian project aims at capturing the energy of the strong currents in the straits of Messina, between the island of Sicily and the Italian mainland.

The Portuguese wave farm was planned and built offshore, eight kilometres from the beach at Aguçadoura, by Ocean Power Delivery (OPD), a Scottish firm which, Barros said, "has operated in this market since 1997, and has achieved a level of know-how that is unrivalled in the world."

The first assembly phase was carried out in naval shipyards at Peniche, 120 kilometres north of Lisbon. Three enormous "Pelamis" tubes were assembled, 142 metres long and 3.5 metres in diameter, which have been installed eight kilometres from the coast to capture wave energy, to be transmitted to the mainland via submarine cables.

There the semi-submerged tubes float, and rise, fall and rock. Each Pelamis cylinder is divided into three sections, and works as a wave energy converter module. Inside the modules there is a system of high-pressure hydraulic pumps, which are activated by the wave-generated movement of the tubular structure.

The hydraulic action starts the three generators, each of which can produce 750 kilowatts of electrical energy when operating optimally. This is first accumulated, and then transmitted by submarine cables to the mainland, where it is fed into the EDP grid..

Arguments in favour of developing wave energy are based on Portugal's geographical location and conditions. The powerful wave action on the Atlantic coast, and the ability to forecast the strength and size of the waves up to six days in advance, making it easy to plan levels of energy production, are the main advantages pointed out by supporters of the development of wave power.

Experts on renewable energy sources have calculated that because of these characteristics, a wave farm in Portugal could yield three times the electricity produced by a wind turbine park, for the same investment cost.

In spite of being an extremely sunny, windy country, solar and wind energy have only been used at very modest levels in Portugal, producing 1.6 megawatts, almost exclusively for households and small businesses.

But in April 2004, Portugal took its first steps towards a radical turnaround of this situation, and started building 100 hectares of solar panels, with a potential yield of 64 megawatts.

The project will produce 12 times more energy than what was previously the largest solar power generating station in the world, which is located in Germany and produces five megawatts. And until 2004, Portugal was rated among the last EU countries in terms of wind power, with little more than token production.

However, between 2004 and 2006, several wind farms were built in this country of 10 million people, which currently produces 500 megawatts from wind power. That puts it in third place among EU countries, behind Germany (1,808 megawatts) and Spain (1,764 megawatts), and ahead of Italy (452 megawatts).

Following the decision to install solar panels two years ago, and the marked increase in the generating potential of wind farms, this pilot project for the first wave farm has emerged as part of a new energy policy. "If the government does not delay the licensing process, we plan to proceed with another 28 tubular structures within a year, so as to reach a yield of 22.5 megawatts," Barros explained.

In order to complete the additional wave farms, an estimated investment of 90 to 98 million dollars is required. Fifteen percent of this will come from public funds, and the rest from bank loans and from the partnership established between Ocean Power Delivery and Enersis. Once this target is met, the electricity needs of 15,000 families could be covered, resulting in "a saving of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere equivalent to 60,000 tons a year," the engineer said.

The Portuguese energy authority agreed that EDP would back Enersis in developing wave energy, in compensation for the financial sacrifices involved in what is considered to be a high-risk investment, because according to Barros, "so far, nobody has ever managed to sell energy harvested from waves."

BP, John Deere, Goldman Sachs, and Allianz Among Renewable Energy Award Winners

September 27, 2006

The third annual award ceremony, sponsored by Euromoney and Ernst and Young, took place during the Renewable Energy Finance Forum. -- The third annual Euromoney and Ernst and Young Global Renewable Energy Awards were announced earlier this week at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum (REFF) in London. Winners included some household names not usually associated with renewable energy, such as Goldman Sachs (ticker: GS) and John Deere (DE). Also honored were the likes of BP (BP), whose Alternative Energy arm has helped define the field, and Allianz Group (ALVG), the global insurer.

"Climate change is the single most important issue facing business and government today," said Jonathan Johns, Global Head of Renewables at Ernst and Young. "The renewable industry is determined to play its part in financing a sustainable future for ourselves and our children."