Friday 13 October 2006

In Ontario, Making 'Clean Energy' Pay

Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, October 12, 2006; Page A16

Utilities Ordered to Compensate Homeowners For Power From Solar, Wind, Water Projects

TORONTO -- Leonard Allen, who runs a small solar panel company here, finally has something good to tell callers, he says. For the first time, he can promise it won't take 50 years to recoup the money they spend on a rooftop solar system.

Canada's Ontario province has ordered local utility companies to pay homeowners or businesses for any electricity they generate from small solar, wind, water or other renewable energy projects, beginning next month.

The plan is unique in North America, but it is modeled after similar schemes in Europe that have spawned a boom in small "clean energy" projects. Critics say paying for such electricity is not the cheapest source for utilities, but advocates say it is the cleanest and most environment-friendly.

In Ontario, the program has already brought a rush of activity. Homeowners in Toronto are climbing onto roofs to add solar panels. A cooperative of small investors is raising money to build five large wind turbines to harness Lake Huron winds.

Others are eyeing the locks of a St. Lawrence Seaway canal for small hydro-turbines. Farmers are looking at manure piles and figuring the profits of using organic decomposition to create methane gas that can make electricity.


Steam-powered plant a first for BP

The Daily News
October 12, 2006

The $100 million, 250-megawatt power plant BP broke ground on Wednesday was more than just a new addition to the 1,200-acre Texas City refinery. It will also be the first facility under construction in the United States as part of the company’s alternative energy arm.

Gavin McCallum, director of business development for BP's Alternative Energy Division, said while the company has struck deals to enter the wind power business and contracts for solar energy production, there hasn’t been an alternative energy facility built in this country.

Until now.

The power plant, which is expected to be online by April 2008, will use steam from the Texas City refinery’s system to generate electricity. While much of the electric power generated, along with its existing cogeneration plant, will be used to power the refinery, BP is hoping to sell excess electricity on the open market.

How much the company hopes to sell is not yet known, McCallum said. He said it will depend on how much fuel oil can be produced from the BP refinery plus market conditions.

Launched last November, BP's Alternative Energy division is focused on developing what it terms as low-carbon power generation including wind, solar, hydrogen and gas-fired power plants. Thus far, the company, which relies heavily on the clean energy image in its marketing campaigns, has announced plans to invest $8 billion in the next 10 years to fund alternative energy projects.

Ararat windfarms

Cooma Monaro Express
Tuesday 10/10/2006, Page: 3

COOMA Unlimited Chairman Dugald Mitchell has applauded the organisers of the upcoming bus trip to Ararat to gather more information on windfarms.

Mr Mitchell said the visit to Ararat - where windfarms are already in operation - will be a good way to further inform the community after the information night organised by former mayor Councillor Roger Norton.

"The organisation by locals of a bus trip to Ararat to look at windfarms in that district is to be highly commended," said Mr Mitchell.

"What is happening here is that the whole community is being involved in the decision making, and for an idea which if taken up will have an affect on the local visual landscape, this is surely the way to go...

The bus trip has been organised for November 17-19. For more details contact Beverley Allen on 6456 3336.

Renewable energy business in China 'phenomenal' - Campbell

AAP Newswire
Thursday 12/10/2006

CANBERRA, Oct 12 AAP - Phenomenal opportunities exist for Australian companies seeking renewable energy business in China, federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell says. Senator Campbell and Chinese ambassador Madame Fu Ying today released a guide for Australian companies seeking to undertake renewable energy business in China.

The booklet's release comes before the biggest yet Australian renewable energy business mission to China, next month. The mission comprises representatives from 30 Australian renewable energy companies.

China and Australia are members of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6), which emphasises finding and exchanging technological solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"(The potential) is phenomenal. We do have this phenomenal opportunity and we have built up a great renewable energy sector in Australia," Senator Campbell told reporters. We have about 11 per cent of our energy currently coming from renewables and we have a world-leading energy efficiency industry in this country. "They're all things that China is going to need in bucketloads over the (next) few years.

"My job as a minister is to use the environmental imperative that is the focus of my daily work to recognise that there are huge economic benefits from Australia using its environmental intellectual property and sharing it with China." Senator Campbell said the exchange would occur in the areas of hydro, solar and wind power, as well as the big-dollar area of developing the concept of burying greenhouse gas emissions underground.

They are going to be doing a lot of hydro, a lot of solar, a lot of wind ... and they are going to continue to use a lot of fossil fuel," he said.

That underscores the need to get a breakthrough to carbon capture and storage, the use of methane from coal mining - all of these things need to be done in great bucketloads in China." He described the initiative as practical international action to address climate change.

Madame Fu said China had included, for the first time, an environmental element to its next five-year plan. Also for the first time, having listed a target for economic growth, there is a listed target for reducing energy consumption," she said.

In the past two years, energy consumption in China has grown by 14 to 15 per cent a year and is expected to have doubled in the five years to 2007. The country's goal is to increase renewable energy to 15 per cent of China's total energy use by 2020.

WA desalination plant ready to come on line

Australian Financial Review
Friday 13/10/2006, Page: 19

Amid the national debate on Australia's water security, Sydney scrapped its $2 billion desalination plant and Toowoomba rejected a controversial plan to drink recycled sewage.

But south of Perth, work has been progressing rapidly on Australia's first major desalination plant, which authorities say will help solve drought-afflicted Western Australia's worsening water crisis.

Within a few weeks, the $400 million plant - the biggest in the world outside the Middle East - is expected to start producing about 17 per cent of Perth's water supply, or about 45 billion litres annually.

Significantly, the governmentfunded project looks likely to be completed on time and on budget - a rare feat in WA's overheated construction market.

"We actually fast-tracked it and we are fully expecting the plant to start supplying water into the integrated scheme early next month," said WA Water Corporation spokesman Phil Kneebone.

It could hardly come at a better time: Perth has recorded its driest year on record, and the city's dam storage levels are just over 30 per cent. Moreover, WA's population is growing rapidly, and water demand is rising in line with the state's economic boom.

Mr Kneebone said the commissioning of the desalination plant at Kwinana would avoid the need for tougher water restrictions in Perth and WA's southwest during summer.

The plant has been funded by the WA government and has been built by a joint venture between Multiplex and French water giant Degremont, which will also operate the plant for the next 25 years.

But the WA government has made it clear the plant will stay in public hands, after Water Corporation chief executive Jim Gill's controversial suggestion last month that water infrastructure could be privatised.

Water Resources Minister John Kobelke told parliament that Mr Gill's comments were wrong and the Water Corporation would not be selling any assets, including the new desalination plant. The WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry is in favour of privatising water infrastructure.

Electricity for the Kwinana plant will be produced from Griffin Energy's Emu Downs wind farm near Cervantes, north of Perth. WA Premier Alan Carpenter will open the wind farm on November 10 and is expected to officiate at the opening of the desalination plant soon after.

Mr Kneebone said WA was also seeking $300 million from the federal government to extract 45 billion litres of water annually from the Yaragadee aquifer in the south-west of the state.

Clean energy team in China

Australia's expertise in developing renewable energy is good enough for the Chinese but sadly the Australian government can't see the wisdom of encouraging renewable energy here....

Friday 13/10/2006, Page: 8

A DELEGATION of experts on renewable energy will leave for China next week to present their credentials in the hope of striking deals to help it develop alternative sources of power.

Environment Minister Ian Campbell will lead the 60-person delegation, which he believes will create "phenomenal" opportunities for Australian businesses and bolster Australia's international action to address climate change.

Population growth and industrialisation are driving demand for new energy in China, and it is already the world's secondlargest greenhouse gas emitter. China, home to one-fifth of the world's population, will spend about $20 billion on energy generation in the next 15 years, and energy consumption will have doubled in the five years to 2007.

The country plans to increase renewable energy to 15 per cent of total energy by 2020.

We know that the world is going to demand roughly twice the amount of energy it is consuming now in the next 35 to 40 years, and a very large proportion of that growth will come from China," Senator Campbell said yesterday.

"If that energy around the globe is not supplied with substantially lower greenhouse gas emissions, we have potentially an environmental and economic catastrophe on our hands.

"So we have to grow the energy demand but cap the greenhouse gases and try and get them coming down." Chinese ambassador to Australia Fu Ying said China had for the first time listed a target for reduced energy consumption.

We will be very interested in opportunities for co-operation with Australia, which is strong both in research and practice in this field," Ms Fu said. She said countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development had achieved industrialisation over more than 200 years, bringing high living standards to about 500 million people.

The energy consumption required to bring industrialisation to China's 1.3 billion people would require "tremendous" energy consumption and China did not have the luxury to use the same greenhouse-gas-hungry powergeneration techniques.

"With this in mind, we lay a very strong emphasis on cooperation with countries such as Australia," Ms Fu said.

By 2010, China expects to increase wind energy production capacity by 37 per cent, biomass capacity by 16 per cent and hydro by 9 per cent but it lacks the expertise and components to meet those goals.

Opportunities for Australia include investment in home solar hot water supply systems, the manufacture of solar cells, wind turbine and component manufacture, and wind farm development.

Cr Neville Goodwin: Mayor's Message

If only some of our Councillors at the Shire of South Gippsland would show the same leadership...

Great Southern Star
Tuesday 10/10/2006, Page: 26

I HAVE just returned from a trip to Western Australia, where I travelled to Albany to attend a Sea Change Taskforce Conference. The trip brought home strongly to me the importance of recognising and respecting our heritage.

With the centenary of Wonthaggi just around the corner (in 2009), we are all aware of the importance of recognising and celebrating our history.

During a tour of Albany, I was impressed by the work that had been done in preserving their heritage. This was both in terms of maintenance of the older buildings and the attention that was paid to preserving the distinct character of the area.

Preservation of our existing amenity is an issue right across our shire and it was inspiring to see how another shire is dealing with this. I was also impressed by the way development along the coastline was being approached and managed. It certainly showed that this can be handled sensitively and responsibly.

Albany's commitment to renewable energy also resonated for me. With 12 wind turbines located on their coastline, the community has set a goal of Cr Neville Goodwin supporting enough local renewable energy initiatives to cover their own energy needs.

Here at Bass Coast, we are also supportive of renewable energy and will continue to support discussion and investigation of viable alternative energy sources within our region.

Climate change was one of the key topics on the conference agenda. A presenter from the CSIRO talked to us about climate change, citing evidence from two studies - one in WA and one in Gippsland.

The message he delivered loud and clear was that there is a mountain of scientific evidence to support the theory of global warming. It is a very real and immediate challenge we all face. Two thirds of the current effects of climate change can be directly attributed to the impact of man - which is a compelling argument to change the way we behave.

As a council, we are dealing with this issue through initiatives such as our participation in the Cities for Climate Protection and the emission reduction targets that we have set under our Local Greenhouse Action Plan. With cooperation from all areas of the community, we can work together to preserve the natural beauty of our wonderful shire and ensure that future generations get to enjoy it as well.

Finally, I encourage everyone to get out into their gardens and take advantage of council's Weedbuster Week offer. Anyone who removes weeds from their garden between now and November 30, will receive a voucher to spend at native plant nurseries.

If you'd like more information on Weedbuster Week, visit our website or contact council on 5671 2211 or 5951 3311.

Origin spends a lot of energy talking to all stakeholders

Thursday 12/10/2006, Page: 5

The power company says it needs to lead by example to encourage use of renewable energy, writes Grant King.

Origin Energy has recognised the issues generally described as sustainability as critical to the survival and prosperity of our business. Origin Energy has operations in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, with more than 3000 employees, serving more than 2 million customers.

The company's business includes gas and oil exploration and production, power generation, LPG distribution, energy retailing and network management. Origin Energy interacts with a wide variety of stakeholders, including shareholders, customers, community members, employees, governments and regulators.

The sustainability of our activities depends on the trust and goodwill of our stakeholders.

We rely on them for access to land and resources; to buy our products and services; and to maintain a stable political and economic system that encourages investment in and development of resources. We also rely on the community to provide employees and, through them, the skills needed to conduct our business.

Community consultation is a critical part of our development projects and day-to-day operations. We conduct extensive consultation with stakeholders during the planning, development and construction of major projects, and then throughout the life of the assets.

Origin also consults stakeholders in the development of key products. For example, we engaged environment groups in the design of our "green power" products prior to their launch. This consultation partly led to 100 per cent wind product being ranked as a national market leader by a coalition of environmental groups.

Origin also purchases wind power for most of our premises, believing that if we are to encourage our customers to support renewable energy, we should lead by example.

During 2005-06, Origin assisted 15,691 customers with financial counselling and no-interest loans. To better understand customer concerns, Origin Energy established a national customer consultative council with representatives from industry and non-government community organisations. This group has helped us develop our "power on" program to address the inability of some customers to pay for their energy consumption.

Energy policy and regulation are priority issues for federal and state governments, and we seek to maintain effective relationships with government at all levels through participation in public debates where we can make a relevant and meaningful contribution.

Origin is a participant in the Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change. In April, the roundtable launched the report, Time Business Case for Early Action, which argues that Australia can deliver significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at an affordable cost.

Origin's involvement in the roundtable is consistent with the company's commitment to highlight the need for a clear national policy on carbon pricing so that future investors in the energy sector can include carbon risk in their decisions.

Other roundtable members included BP Australia, Insurance Australia Group, Swiss Re, Visy Industries, Westpac and the Australian Conservation Foundation.

We believe that to improve the sustainability of our activities, we must identify, implement and measure key indicators of sustainable performance. At the same time, we are working to ensure that these sustainability indicators, with appropriate objectives and targets, are fully integrated with other measures of management performance.

Grant King is managing director of Origin Energy.

The days of wine and song are almost gone

Liquor Watch
October, 2006, Page: 5

Imagine staring into the bottom of your empty wine glass and thinking that was the last drop of quality Hunter Valley wine that you will ever enjoy. This not so distant scenario is a very real eventuality for wine lovers in this country and it is as close as 2026 -just 20 years away.

An expert from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has warned that climate change will ruin the popular Hunter Valley region's wine industry in two decades. Major winemakers in the area agree and have expressed fears for the Hunter's vineyards stating that variations in temperature will eventually result in wine of cask quality. A two percent temperature increase with significantly less rain predicted by 2026 would ultimately see an end to grape growing in the Hunter Valley.

A direct cause of climate change and global warming is from coal mining and the burning of fossil fuels as an energy source. The Hunter Valley is home not only to exceptional wine-producing vineyards but to 30 coal mines covering 520 square kilometres of the valley floor. Currently, proposals for 11 more coal mines are being considered for the region. Of these, the largest is Anvil Hill, to be located in the largest area of woodlands in the central Hunter Valley.

Not only will this mine significantly contribute to global warming effects, it will see the destruction of wildlife habitats and plant species unique to the area.

Anvil Hill coal mine, if allowed to go ahead, will only be in production for 20 years so will not produce any long term employment or benefits for the region whereas vineyards, dairy and tourism does. Anvil Hill will produce up to 10.5 million tonnes of coal each year helping to maintain Australia's reputation as the world's largest exporter of coal. A new coal loader is also proposed for Newcastle, which would increase coal exports from 80 million tonnes to 130 million tonnes per year. This is twice Australia's domestic consumption so coal not burnt here contributes to greenhouse gases produced elsewhere in the world.

Climate change is the biggest challenge facing our planet. The burning of fossil fuels to produce energy to power our homes and cars is no longer a sustainable action for humankind as world weather becomes more volatile due to global warming. fossil fuels such as coal can be replaced with clean, renewable energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels that are viable, enduring, safe, and effective.

It may be an 'inconvenient truth' but global warming is a reality and it's happening now.

Desi Corbett, Freelance journalist associated with Greenpeace

Wednesday 11 October 2006

45 Ski Resorts in 14 States Currently Buying Green Energy

First Tracks!! Online Ski Magazine

Lakewood, CO - Ski resorts across the U.S. are purchasing green power to offset their electrical energy use. As part of the industry’s Keep Winter Cool program to combat global warming, the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) has encouraged all of its members to buy green power. Green power is generated from renewable and nonpolluting energy sources including wind power, geothermal power, small scale hydro-power, solar power or bio-mass power. The use of green power can help in the fight against global warming, help clean up the air and help decrease dependency on foreign energy sources.

To date, 45 ski and snowboard resorts in 14 states are buying green energy for their operations. Of these, 16 are powered 100 percent by green energy including California’s Sugar Bowl, Colorado’s Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Buttermilk, Crested Butte, Keystone, Snowmass, Vail Mountain and Wolf Creek as well as Maine’s Shawnee Peak, Mount Sunapee, N.H., Heavenly, Nev., Mt. Ashland, Ore., and Okemo Mountain Resort, Vt.

“These renewable energy investments speak volumes about industry’s commitment to environmental stewardship” said Michael Berry, NSAA president. “Greener energy means cleaner air and better views of the mountain landscapes that our guests come to enjoy.”

In total, these 16 resorts are purchasing 208,548,832 kWh of green energy and their purchases result in the avoidance of 299,767,044 pounds of CO2. This is the equivalent of planting nearly 12 million trees or avoiding over 115,000 round-trip flights between New York and San Francisco.

Ski resorts are not the only ones in the ski industry buying green power. NSAA, the National Ski Patrol (NSP), the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) are also offsetting 100 percent of their electricity use for their headquarters and warehouse building located in Lakewood, Colorado. Also, NSAA supplier member BEWI Productions Inc., Waltham, Mass., producer of consumer ski shows, recently announced that it is offsetting 100 percent of its in-office electrical energy use as well.

In addition to buying green energy for their operations, ski areas have also lobbied Congress to put solutions in place now to fight global warming. Last year, 71 resorts in 21 states have endorsed the McCain/Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act in Congress.

Also, NSAA recently released its sixth Sustainable Slopes Annual Report detailing the ski industry’s progress in implementing the principles of its Environmental Charter during the 2005/06 season. Together with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and energy bar maker Clif Bar & Co., this season the Sustainable Slopes program focused on furthering the Keep Winter Cool campaign to fight global warming.

It's The Consumption, Stupid

Energy Outlook 2007
10.09.06, 6:00 AM ET

Quiz question: How much of the world's energy supply does oil account for?

Four-fifths? Two-thirds? A half?

With all the attention that the seven-year bull run in oil prices (and the recent decline) has gotten, you could be forgiven for guessing a high number. In fact, the answer is barely one-third. What's more, oil's share of the global energy market is down from almost 50% at the time of the oil shock of 1973.

In Pictures
: What The World Pays For Energy

To be sure, some of the reason is price, though oil is still cheaper (after adjusting for inflation) than it was three decades ago (See " Real Vs. Nominal Price of Oil").

But much of the reason is that the world has learned to use oil more efficiently. Technology and the shifting patterns of global industrialization have helped the world and its largest oil consumer, the U.S., wring more economic growth from each barrel of oil consumed.

Despite all of this, however, demand continues to grow. Over the last 30 years, oil consumption has risen from 2.7 billion tons to 3.8 billion tons. And the overall energy pie has grown even faster, from 6 billion tons of oil equivalent (Btoe) to 11.1 Btoe. Even if the conservation measures now being considered are put in place, global energy consumption is still expected to top 14 Btoe by 2030, a 27% increase from where it is now.

A world in search of cheaper-priced energy has turned to natural gas, and, to a lesser extent, coal and nuclear power. It has not, for all the hype, taken in any great measure to alternatives such as ethanol and other biofuels or to renewables such as solar, wind and wave power. Their share of world energy supply has stayed barely changed over the past three decades, at around 11%.

The world is using less oil today to generate electric power than it did in 1973, despite output almost trebling to 17.5 billion watt hours of electricity, from 6.1 billion WH. Two countries alone generate 46% of the world's electricity--the U.S. and China.

The oil not being used for power generation has been diverted to moving people and goods. Transportation burns up 58% of oil supplies--1.9 billion tons--against 42%--905.6 million tons--three decades ago.

Natural gas has upped its share of world energy supply to one-fifth (2.3 Btoe), from one-sixth (1 Btoe) in 1973. Coal, too, has increased its market share, albeit slightly, to just above a quarter, from just under in 1973, with supply rising to 2.8 BToe from 1.5 Btoe.

In 1973, 13 years before the disaster at Chernobyl, nuclear power supplied less than 1% of the world's energy. More than 20 years on from Chernobyl, nuclear provides 6.5% of the world's energy--three times as much as hydro power.

The U.S., France and Japan are the world's three biggest nuclear producers, generating nearly two-thirds of the world's supply. France generates four-fifths of its electricity with nuclear energy, the most of any country; Sweden and the Ukraine both get half their electricity that way. Nuclear generates a fifth of the United States' domestic electricity.

Worldwide, nuclear energy has made great strides in electricity generation, accounting for 16% of global output, up from 3% three decades ago. Oil's share has dwindled from 25% to 7% during that time.

Nuclear power has grown faster over the past three decades than renewable alternative energy sources, such as solar, wave, wind and geothermal power. These have quadrupled their collective output since 1973, but they still only account for 0.4% of the world's energy supply--for all the promotion they are now getting.

Regardless of their environmental benefits, alternative energy supplies have not yet proved cheap or abundant enough to wean the rich countries from their oil addiction. These nations consume half the world's energy, with oil supplying two-fifths of that. (The U.S. and Canada account for half the rich countries' energy consumption; Europe, with a collectively larger gross domestic product, accounts for only a third.)

The U.S. is the world's third-biggest oil producer, but its seemingly unquenchable appetite for oil also makes it the world's largest oil importer by far. It imports almost two barrels of crude for every one it extracts. Constrained by a lack of refining capacity, it is also the world's largest importer of petroleum products.

The U.S. imports four and a half barrels for every one imported by China.

China Rises

Yet it is China, with its rapid growth, that has most transformed world energy markets, and particularly oil markets, over the past three decades. Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping's declaration in 1979 that it was glorious to get rich unleashed China's economic reform and set the country down a path to becoming both a voracious consumer of oil and a significant producer.

China now ranks as the world's sixth-largest oil producer. It produces 4.7% of the world's oil output, as much as the rest of Asia combined and a third as much as Russia, the world's second-largest producer after Saudi Arabia. It extracts a barrel and a half at home for every one it imports.

China is also the world's largest coal producer, with more than twice the output of the next largest miner, the U.S., which in turn produces more than twice the output of third-ranked India. Both China and the U.S. are net exporters of coal.

China is also the world's leading producer of hydro power, outstripping even Canada and Brazil. China is able to generate one-eighth of its domestic electricity with hydro. That is far short of the 99% generation rate in Norway, 83% in Brazil and 71% in Venezuela (freeing up its oil for use in international politics).

So far, China hasn't become a factor in the natural gas market in the same way. World production is dominated by Russia, the U.S. and Canada, which produce nearly half of the global supply among them. Neither is China a top-ten importer. That list is again topped by the U.S.

The world's increased use of energy has not been without a cost to the atmosphere. carbon dioxide emissions have increased to 26.5 billion tons, from 15.6 billion tons in 1973. The culprits: oil and coal almost equally (40%). Natural gas accounts for almost 20% of emissions, and all other fuels, 0.3%.

The rich industrialized countries emit almost half the world's carbon dioxide, with China accounting for a further fifth, and its emissions are growing rapidly as it industrializes. In the past three decades, the rich countries have pumped a further 2.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air; China, a further 3.9 million tons.

Transport and power generation in developing economies could drive carbon dioxide emissions to 40 billion tons by 2030 if current consumption habits continue, the International Energy Agency has forecast.

Environmental Expense

Those sorts of numbers have triggered a politicized debate about what damage greenhouse gases are doing to the planet and how to control their output. The G-8 group of the largest industrialized economies committed themselves at both their past two annual summits to combating global warming and to cleaner energy and sustainable development.

With a world seemingly unwilling to cut back its energy demand, it remains likely that the fossil fuels of today--oil, natural gas and coal--will remain the primary fuels of tomorrow.

Renewables like wave, wind and solar power will have a greater role to play, as will nuclear, but they will not be fueling the first half of the 21st century.

Instead, the world will have to deploy more energy-efficient and low-carbon technologies, especially for power generation, if it is to keep its greenhouse gases in check.

The good news is that technologies that exist or are in development have the capacity to reduce the growth of carbon dioxide emissions so that in 2050, those emissions will be just 6% above today’s levels, according to Claude Mandil, the IEA’s executive director.

But to get there, far-sighted businesses and informed consumers will have to show the will to use more efficiently the energy they buy, from smarter buildings to higher-mileage vehicles, while power generators will have to--or be made to--go about their business more cleanly.

Work begins near Glasgow on biggest windfarm in Europe

10 October 2006

After a five year-battle for planning approval, developers have started work on Europe's biggest onshore wind farm - a 140-turbine creation at the heart of Scotland's drive to become the "Saudi Arabia" of renewable energy.

The 140 turbines of the £300m Whitelee wind farm, which will be built in moorland and forest near East Kilbride, south of Glasgow, will provide enough electricity to power 200,000 homes. Though the prospect of generating 322 megawatts of energy - enough to power all of Glasgow - has seen off concerns about environmental impact, supporters of onshore wind energy in the UK admit that a project of its ilk may never secure planning permission again.

Whitelee will supply one-eighth of the capacity needed to meet the Scottish Executive's ambitious target of generating 40 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Westminster has been less ambitious about renewable targets, setting a 10 per cent UK target for 2020, towards which Whitelee will also contribute 2.4 per cent of the capacity. The station's developer, Scottish Power, estimates that it will also prevent the emission of 650,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

The Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling said Scotland had long been the UK's "powerhouse" and was establishing itself as the vanguard on renewables. Around 16 per cent of Scotland's electricity already comes from these sources, compared to 4 per cent for the UK as a whole.

Plans for Whitelee have not progressed smoothly. Officials at Glasgow Aiport initially opposed the project because of concerns that the spinning rotors might confuse the airport's radar. As a result of the objection, Scottish Power agreed to build a £5m radar installation 30 miles away in Kincardine, on the site of a former power station. Scottish National Heritage also expressed concerns about the potential impact on black grouse and liverwort populations. Other groups were unhappy about the site's visibility: it can be seen from a distance of 10 miles.

But the Scottish Executive's faith in such projects is enabling the nation's developers to succeed where English wind farm developers, in areas such as Cumbria where the 27-turbine Whinnash scheme was rejected seven months ago, have failed. Whitelee will take three years to complete and will be three times the size of the UK's current biggest wind farm, at Blacklaw in South Lanarkshire.

The start of work at Whitelee coincides with a new period of Government consultation over which renewable emergy forms should be used to enable the UK to hit its 20 per cent target. Mr Darling launched the consultation process at Whitelee, where he underlined the fact that more energy would have to come from wind, wave, tidal and biomass technologies.

Scottish Power has voiced fears that funding for onshore schemes, unpopular among some environmentalists, may be reduced at the expense of untested forms of renewable energy, such as marine or solar power. The British Wind Energy Association estimates that the UK's potential offshore resource amounts to three times the annual UK energy consumption.

Wind farms
  • Whitelee might be big but it's nothing compared with the next wind power giant Scotland is planning near Stornoway on the island of Lewis. This would be the world's largest farm with 200 wind turbines, each 120m tall. The electricity generated would be "exported" via a 350-mile under-sea cable.
  • There are also plans for a London Array farm in the Thames estuary: 1,000 megawatts of electricity from 270 turbines, powering 750,000 homes.
  • The Danes lead the European industry, though their farms are more modest than those in Scotland. The biggest is Horns Rev, near Jutland, with 80 turbines supplying enough power for 150,000 homes.
  • Britain's biggest wind farm before Whitelee is Hadyard Hill, in South Ayrshire, with enough output to supply 60,000 homes. England's largest is in Barrow (30 turbines) generating enough energy for 50,000 homes.

Turbines underway at new windfarm

Circular Head Chronicle
Wednesday 4/10/2006, Page: 11

THE TURBINE phase of the Studland Bay wind farm at Woolnorth is underway. Erection of the 25 wind turbines began last week. It is anticipated that the project will be fully commissioned in early 2007.

Each wind turbine tower has been manufactured locally by Haywards, and is 80 metres in height. The towers are fixed to concrete footings, each consisting of 410 cubic metres of concrete and 40 tonnes of steel reinforcement. The wind generators, including the nacelle and blades, attached to the top of the towers are the latest in technology from Danish manufacturer Vestas and each is capable of producing 3 megawatts of electricity.

The Studland Bay wind farm will have a generating capacity of 75mw, enough energy to power 30,000 homes.

"When completed, Roaring 40s Woolnorth Wind Farm will not only include the largest turbines in the southern hemisphere, but it will also be the largest wind farm in Australia," said Roaring 40s managing director Mark Kelleher.

Initial construction of the Studland Bay Wind Farm was undertaken by Tasmanian company, Hazell Brothers, in a joint venture with Areva, and was successfully delivered ahead of schedule.

Public forum at Crowlands

Pyrenees Advocate
Friday 6/10/2006, Page: 3

THE PROPONENT of the Crowlands Wind Farm, Pacific Hydro, will hold information sessions about the project on October 18 at the Crowlands Hall. Community Relations Manager at Pacific Hydro, Emily Wood, encouraged interested parties to come along and find out more about the proposed project.

"The information sessions will provide an informal environment for the community to find out more about the wind farm we are proposing for Crowlands. We hope they will take the opportunity ask questions, raise any concerns they may have and provide their perspective on the project", Ms Wood said.

"We are interested in what the community has to say about the wind farm and would like their input into the planning process," she said. Information on display will include an initial layout of the wind farm, details about wind energy and about the company.

Pacific Hydro will be available to share information about environmental studies it has been conducting, answer questions about the project and how wind energy works. The company says its keen to take advantage of the Victorian Government's Renewable Energy Legislation which requires energy retailers to purchase 10% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2016 in an effort to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.

"Our energy consumption in Victoria is one of the highest per capita in the world and the VRET legislation will ensure that some of our increasing energy needs will be provided by no-emission sources like wind energy. In terms of reducing our impact on climate change, this legislation provides a very positive step forward." Ms Wood said.

Around the world, wind energy is the fastest growing form of electricity due to its low impact on the environment, relatively easy installation and cheap electricity costs.

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

Information sessions about the Crowlands wind farm will be held from 12 to 8pm on October 18 at the Crowlands Hall.

The heat is on

Bulletin with Newsweek
Tuesday 17/10/2006, Page: 21

THE SUN IS A GOLDEN ORB beating unmercifully upon endless red earth. Black bushflies, clouds of them, torment the few men who venture into the open. A steel contraption, a drilling platform, sprouts from a bit of a basin in the vast flatness, and there is a scattering of demountable huts.

It seems an unpromising setting in which to imagine a great power plant generating most of the energy required to run all of Australia's streetlights, air- conditioners and its entire industrial complex.

Yet here, close to Cooper's Creek, just east of the spot where Burke and Wills perished and not far from the tree on which one of the explorers' companions carved that desolate word Dig, men are doing new digging. More correctly, they are drilling, seeking a treasure beyond price: natural heat.

More than 3km below the red dust slumbers fractured granite that would burn the flesh off a body in an instant. The rock maintains a constant temperature of 250°C. The reason is simple: ancient deposits of uranium and other radioactive elements release energy in the form of heat as they gradually decay.

The men doing the drilling are in the business of capturing that heat, bringing it to the surface in the form of superheated water and, in the future, using its energy to run power stations.

In short, they want to create Australia's first large-scale geothermal power plant - a sort of "green" nuclear energy factory.

One of those men out there on the desert swatting flies is federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell. He is a greenhouse convert - a man in search of alternatives to the clouds of carbon dioxide spewing into the Earth's atmosphere and threatening everything from the future of humanity to the ambitions of politicians like him.

The youthful Campbell has been Environment Minister for only two years. At 47, he has realised his early aspiration. Asked at the age of 18 by a lecturer in a business course at the West Australian Institute of Technology to list his life goals, he wrote: to become a cabinet minister. Ambition continues to burn within him.

Though he won't fall into the trap of declaring he wants to become prime minister, he is perfectly happy to reveal he would like to become treasurer some day. He would also like to move from the Senate to the House of Representatives, although he remains short of a seat because Liberal power players in his home state of WA continue to deny him the chance of pre-selection.

First, though, he has to prove himself in what is rapidly becoming one of the nation's most confronting political tasks.

When Prime Minister John Howard gave him his cabinet seat in 2004, Campbell was what he calls a "constructive sceptic" on climate change and global warming. "I was probably agnostic on the subject when I came to the portfolio," he says. "But once you start focusing all your attention on the science, it becomes pretty hard to ignore." Indeed, he now declares that climate change is by far the biggest challenge facing the world. If people like him don't get it right, he says, the Earth will fry.

He happily encourages people to see former US Democrat presidential candidate Al Gore's alarming film of a world facing environmental cataclysm because of global warning, An Inconvenient Truth. The film, Campbell says, defines clearly the problems facing the world, though it is short on solutions.

It depicts the Arctic gradually melting, sea levels rising and the Earth struggling to survive with a climate twisted by an overload of carbon dioxide. Campbell says the problems are so great that "you can get depressed and you can get forlorn" just contemplating them. But he is not of that bent: he wants to help save the planet.

Indeed, listen to him laying out what he believes Australia and the world must do over the next 50 years and you might reach the conclusion that he has become radicalised. Radical, however, sits uneasily and Campbell, a man of the right, calls himself a "compassionate conservative".

A couple of days after The Bulletin travelled to outback Australia with the minister to consider a future potentially powered by hot rocks, the Lowy Institute released research showing that Australians now ranked the environment - and its marquee topic, global warming - at the top of their worries.

Almost 90% declared that the preservation of the global environment should be Australia's most important foreign policy goal, ahead of terrorism. A remarkable 68% of respondents to the Lowy poll rated global warming as a "critical threat" to our vital interests over the next 10 years, and one on which they wanted action even if it causes economic pain.

Only international terrorism - at 73% - and the danger of hostile nations acquiring nuclear weapons (70%) were considered greater threats. Very few Australians shilly-shallied on their view: only 1% registered a "don't know" about climate change. On that ranking, Campbell ought to be one of the most powerful cabinet ministers, shaded only by the PM, the treasurer, the foreign affairs minister and the defence minister.

Few political observers would consider that to be the case, though - Campbell is seen around Canberra as something of a new boy, despite having spent almost 17 years in federal parliament and more than 10 on the frontbenches. He was a parliamentary secretary for seven years, and spent less than a year in the outer ministry, overseeing local government, territories and roads, before being catapulted in July 2004 to environment.

Since then, only two issues have brought him a significant public profile. He emerged quickly as a friend to whales, fighting for a world-wide ban on whaling, and he faced down the Victorian government and the windfarm industry, halting a wind project known as Bald Hills in the now-famous cause of the orange-bellied parrot.

On global warning, he inherited the Howard government's obstinate, years-old refusal to ratify the green movement's emblematic international agreement, the Kyoto Protocol.

Surrounding him are cabinet ministers with competing interests: Ian McFarlane in Industry and Resources, who is committed to seeing through Australia's minerals boom; Nick Minchin in Finance, whose job is to guard government money; Peter McGauran in Agriculture, who needs to keep energy burning farmers happy. And from the side, Malcolm Turnbull, building his political future as a quasi-minister for water.

Campbell declares himself onside with all these interests. The Kyoto Protocol, he says, is effectively coming to an end and even though Australia didn't sign up, it is one of the few countries that is meeting the target it set for carbon emissions: an increase of only 8% from 1990 to 2011, at a time when the economy has doubled.

Kyoto is no longer treated seriously by many countries "and the whole world is talking about what to do post-Kyoto", he claims. "Some people ask why don't we just sign up and get it over and done with, but I would see that as a huge moral hazard - it's a slogan, not a solution, and it doesn't reduce greenhouse gases. Signing Kyoto is a crock - it's an excuse for not having a proper debate." As to the criticism that Australia's absence from the Kyoto community means it has no seat at the world anti-greenhouse table, Campbell points to the international dialogue being conducted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Australia, he says, has two seats at that table, where the world is trying to agree to long-term greenhouse controls among both developed and developing nations.

Australia's Howard Bamsey - deputy of Campbell's department, Environment Australia
- is co-chair of the 189-member dialogue, representing the developed world. South Africa represents the developing world. Australia is also permanent leader of what is known as "the Umbrella Group", whose members include Japan, Russia, Canada, Norway, New Zealand and the United States.

At home, Campbell rejects pressure from many environmental groups to place a price, or a tax, on carbon emissions as a step towards forcing industry to clean up its own act. It would, he argues, act as a brake on economic growth. His core political belief, he says, starts from the proposition that "government is too big and taxes are too high". He's not about to propose any new taxes.

Instead, Campbell oversees about $2bn of federal government climate change funds available for investment in low-emission technologies. He boasts that on a per capita basis, this is more than any other country.

Critics point out that on a per capita basis, Australia emits more greenhouse gases than any other country, too. Renewable energy advocates also argue that lack of any penalty for carbon emitters is a positive disincentive to those who want to invest in low-emission technologies.

Any industry faces penalties for polluting waterways with toxic substances, but there remains no defined level for carbon pollution, which means no carbon cost is factored into the price of electricity. Renewable industries start from behind the coal base line.

The government's decision almost a decade ago to set a Mandatory Renewal Energy Target at 2% - supposed to effectively boost the share of renewable energy to 12.5% of all energy consumed in Australia by 2010 - has also come unstuck. The target was set at 9500 gigawatt-hours, which was the best estimate in 1997 of what an additional 2% would be in 2010 of total annual electricity sales. The estimate was wrong, because strong economic growth resulted in an increase in energy use and much of that energy growth is supplied from fossil fuels. The 2% target is now in effect a -2% target: the renewable energy industries' total share of the national electricity market now sits at about 8%.

Campbell, however, remains upbeat, pointing to a large number of projects receiving funding to reduce the nation's reliance on carbon-emitting energy.

Adelaide was recently declared the first "solar city" in Australia; a $52m program paying citizens to place photovoltaic cells on their roofs, linking households into a solar power station, has been over-subscribed; $100m was made available for research and development of greenhouse abatement technologies; grants have gone to dozens of renewable energy projects in remote communities.

The list is long, though few new projects are coming on-stream. Most of the money has already been earmarked. Which is why we are standing in the hot desert near Innamincka, the borders of South Australia, NSW and Queensland not far away.

Campbell wants - and needs - to demonstrate that his government's approach holds serious promise. The government provided $5m research and development seed money for a company called Geodynamics to set about proving it could tap the heat of ancient fractured rock far beneath the red earth in the quest of perfectly carbon-free electricity generation.

No electricity has yet been generated, but the company has successfully listed on the stock exchange, returned the government's money and is planning to build a small demonstration power plant soon. According to Geodynamics' founding director, Dr Doone Wyborn, the company could exploit the thermal anomaly that lies beneath 1000 sqkm in the Cooper Basin to generate enough electricity to power much of Australia.

The system is deceptively simple. Water is injected deep into the earth, squeezing open fractures in hot granite, which sits beneath an ancient "thermal blanket". This fluid, superheated after circulating through the fractures, returns to the surface through other drill holes and its heat is extracted through a conventional heat-exchange system. This in turn heats liquid with a lower boiling point, which is "flashed" into vapour to turn turbines. The fluid from the ground - kept under pressure so it never evaporates - is returned to the depths in a constant loop.

Wyborn says the heat within the rocks will eventually cool, and a geothermal plant relying on holes 5km deep would continue operating for 65 years. This could be doubled by drilling another kilometre.

Campbell is excited by the potential because he believes all the current projects to reduce greenhouse gases to acceptable levels while also producing enough electricity to maintain economic growth will not be enough unless Australia builds nuclear power plants. However, if the "hot rock" geothermal technology lives up to its promise, it might be possible to power the country and still remain nuclear-free.

"I'm not suggesting this is a single answer, because there is no single answer." Australia would still have to harness heat from the sun and store it; it would still need to store carbon from coal plants deep beneath the earth; it would still need to use more gas than coal, use energy from wind, ensure deforestation no longer occurred, plant billions of trees and ensure cars and buildings were much more energy efficient. "We need transformational stuff to solve this problem," he says.

After two years as environment minister, Campbell's heart appears to be in the right place. The same could be said of his predecessors, Robert Hill and David Kemp. Hill wore the opprobrium of refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol and went on to become defence minister, fighting a still un-won war against terrorism before taking a diplomatic posting to New York. Kemp left politics broken.

With an Australian voting public growing more restive about global warming and most climate scientists convinced the world is hurtling towards disaster, Campbell appears to be a lonely figure as he stands beneath the only shade anywhere around Innamincka - old gums along Cooper's Creek. Strong hearts and good intentions couldn't save Burke and Wills from the Australian heat. Not out here.

Call for Bald Hills to go ahead

Great Southern Star
Tuesday 3/10/2006, Page: 9

THE Leader of the Australian Democrats Senator Lyn Allison wants the Bald Hills wind farm to go ahead.

Stalled by the Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell over the fate of the endangered orange-bellied parrot, Ms Allison has called on the Minister to approve the wind farm proposal.

Ms Allison said she was "outraged" the Bald Hills wind farm was knocked back by Minister Campbell, after the State government had approved it.

"The Minister rejected Bald Hills on spurious grounds and he will admit to that. I want to see the project going through. I'm calling on the Minister to let this wind farm proceed" Now that the Minister has put $3.2 million towards the parrot's recovery and the wind farm proponent Wind Power Pty Ltd has added a total $1 million towards the parrot's survival and towards local community projects, she believed the Minister would be hard-pressed to ban construction of the $220 million energy park.

Ms Allison visited the Tarwin Lower farm of Lindsay Marriott last Tuesday. Also at the Marriott property was Stephen Buckle, managing director of Wind Power Pty Ltd Ply Ltd.

A sheep and beef farmer, Mr Marriott is one of a number of nearby farmers who have signed contracts with Wind Power Pty Ltd to have the turbines built on their properties. Others that joined the Marriott meeting were supporters of Gippsland Friends of Future Generations from Toora and Foster.

The Friends are pro-renewable energy on various types, including wind power.

The group is conducting a survey in the district, asking whether "wind energy is an effective energy source", and whether "wind farms are appropriate in this region"? It also wants to know what people think of the Toora and Wonthaggi wind parks, whether they are visually bad, good or indifferent.

Mr Buckle, who owns property near Bald Hills, said in a new submission to the Federal Government recently, his company had adjusted the positioning of five of the 52 turbines it proposed to construct.

Mr Marriott said bird studies had shown the wind farm would not be detrimental to the parrot. "This is a political game and it has driven a wedge in the community," Mr Marriott said. "It seems objectors (to the wind farm) are not representative of the general population in Tarwin Lower.

People in Tarwin Lower and beyond are keen to see progress is being made in reducing green house emissions" He also said he liked farming "and the wind farm will allow me to stay here and an opportunity to grow my farm." Mr Marriott said he did not believe the wind farm had a detrimental effect on land values.

"I can state that land values have not gone down at all" Mr Marriott said.

Democrats strong on renewable energy

Wednesday 4/10/2006, Page: 3

AUSTRALIAN Democrats Leader Lyn Allison took the opportunity of a visit to South Gippsland last week to present the Democrats' views on renewable energy. Senator Allison, who is the Democrats' Spokesperson for Resources, Energy and Infrastructure, paid her first visit to the site of the proposed Bald Hills wind farm at Tarwin.

She met with local members of Friends of Future Generations, including Blair Donaldson of Foster. Mr Donaldson said he had read the Democrats' policy on renewable energy and had been so impressed that he had written to Senator Allison, inviting her to meet with him and other members of Friends of Future Generations if ever she was in the area.

"If there were more politicians like her I'd be really rapt," said Mr Donaldson, after the Democrats leader gave a good nearing at Bald Hills to the views on renewable energy and wind power in particular of Friends of Future Generations Bruce Beatson, Charles Middleton and Mr Donaldson himself.

In an interview with The Mirror later that day, Senator Allison said the Democrats were great proponents of renewable energy. She had, she said, been very involved in the debate in federal parliament on the Mandatable Renewable Energy Target [under which renewable energy is heavily subsidised] and helped the legislation get through the Senate.

"We're well on the way to meeting that target already. The way it stands now it won't allow for any more wind farms to be constructed," said the senator, calling for the target to be extended.

Senator Allison said she was very disappointed when the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, had rejected Bald Hills Wind Farm on what she described as "spurious grounds." She was also disappointed not to receive an invitation to the recent roundtable discussion on national wind energy guidelines organised by Senator Campbell in Canberra.

Senator Allison maintained that if comprehensive surveys of public opinion were carried out, the findings would more than likely come down on the side of wind farms. as she believed it was only a "very vocal, very fanatical" minority who were against them.

Senator Allison said the proponents' offer in their latest submission to move the Bald Hills turbines further back from the coast was pleasing if that meant resolving the current impasse but "whether or not it makes any difference is debatable."

Asked whether she had any concerns about the proximity of the Bald Hills Wetland Reserve to the site proposed for the wind farm, Senator Allison said the reserve had only been established in recent years so was hardly of heritage value and it was her understanding that it was largely used by small birds that would not be troubled by massive wind turbines, especially since these turbines would be quite some distance apart.

On the State front, the Democrats, said Senator Allison. believe that the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) is a step in the right direction but should go further. The Democrats plan to stand four candidates in the forthcoming Victorian election and climate change is one of their key concerns.

For details about their election commitments see

Two wind turbines best: study

Albany Advertiser
Tuesday 10/10/2006, Page: 8

THE Denmark Community Windfarm group has announced that an independent feasibility study it commissioned confirms that two wind turbines would prove to be technically and financially possible at Wilson Head.

The study was done by civil engineering company GHD Pty Ltd, which recommended the windfarm would have to be downgraded from three to two wind turbines to be viable. DCW chairperson Craig Chappelle said his group would now seek planning approvals, investors and grid-connection agreements for the $2.6 million project.

"This study vindicates the local community's vision to move Denmark towards a sustainable energy future and do it profitably," Mr Chappelle said. But spokesperson for the South Coast Landscape Guardians group Peter Mortimer said most of the Denmark community was opposed to the windfarm's placement.

The group has been campaigning against putting it on Wilson Head. "I don't know why DCW are so blindingly ignorant in their planning," Mr Mortimer said. "If they did their research it could be win/win for everyone.

"Why not build a large windfarm in a large windy area? "I can't see why DCW won't consider an alternative," he said. "It doesn't get more bloody-minded than the way Craig Chappelle leads DCW down the path of no return in the face of community opinion," he said.

Mr Chappelle said there was increasing community support for the windfarm and compared community opposition to that which had surrounded the Albany windfarm before it was established.

"Albany's windfarm is on land similar to the Denmark proposal and attracted considerable criticism at first, but you would be hard pressed to find anyone opposed to it now," Mr Chappelle said.

Mr Chappelle said the two turbines could provide up to 60 per cent of Denmark's annual power consumption and prevent more than 7000 tonnes of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere each year.

"Our success will open the door for many other small rural communities to create similar projects," he said. Current worldwide demand for wind turbines means it is unlikely the Denmark windfarm will be operational before 2009.

Wind to lead green energy

Tuesday 10/10/2006, Page: 6

WIND farms will be the main winner from a state renewable energy scheme, with little benefit for most other "green" technologies, including solar power.

The Bracks Government has committed to making energy retailers source 10 per cent of their electricity from renewable generators by 2016, under the Victorian Renewable Energy Target scheme.

A cost analysis report prepared for the Government reveals that the scheme will cost consumers a net total of $692 million spread over 22 years, adding around 1 per cent to the average electricity bill.

Launching the scheme in July, the Government claimed there would be a small impact on households of less than $10 a year, but refused to release the consultant's report their estimates were based on.

The Department of Infrastructure has since released the report, by consultants McLennan Magasanik Associates. The report supports the Government's claim about household bills, estimating an average extra cost of $8.40 a year.

But the consultants also calculate previously unreported costs for business. Small businesses - those using roughly six times more power than a home - are expected to pay an average of $47 more a year, while big businesses could pay around $21,000 extra.

The consultants estimate that by 2030, the renewable scheme will save around 27 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, at a cost of $71 a tonne.

They also predict that wind farms are set to become "by far the most dominant renewable energy resource" in Victoria over the next decade, taking over from hydro-electricity and potentially generating well over half of the state's 10 per cent renewable target by 2016.

In contrast, all other renewable energy sources' share of electricity production will fall or stay steady at best. The State Opposition has vowed to scrap the renewable energy target, claiming it will prove more expensive than the Government says.

Pac Hydro pushing on

Portland Observer
Wednesday 4/10/2006, Page: 3

Pacific Hydro is pushing full steam ahead with the Cape Bridgewater stage of its $300 million-plus Portland Wind Energy Project, despite threats to drop the project completely if the Liberal Party wins the November 25 State election.

Company corporate affairs manager Andrew Richards said the Liberals' commitment to repeal the Bracks Government's Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) would make the project unviable.

"The differences between the policies of the two parties could not be any starker regarding the effects on the PWEP," he said.

"However, we will not be making any decision to change direction on the PWEP until the result of the election is known." The company currently has an application seeking a permit to remove vegetation on its proposed Cape Bridgewater powerline route before the Glenelg Shire Council.

In his letter to the council, Mr Holloway said the report lodged by the company provided a detailed analysis of the vegetation along line sections totalling 20.5km located outside the PWEP development envelopes.

He said the report's main findings included:
  • Proposed changes to native vegetation on road reserves managed by the council are referable to the Department of Sustainability and Environment - this affects 16.1km of line, comprising 0.315ha of removals, most of which is along the unconstructed section of the Thistle Rd reserve.
  • The council's permission is required under the Environmental Significance Overlay to remove pasture grasses and environmental weeds from around 107 poles on roadsides, comprising 0.011ha, and to prune or remove six mature trees at Bridgewater Lakes Rd opposite Bridgewater Fire Station Rd.
The report also mentions DSE biodiversity officers advice of an increased risk of predation of the nationally endangered southern brown bandicoot by foxes, dogs and cats along the unmade section of the Thistle Rd reserve if the proposed access track was constructed.

While the bandicoot is listed as being endangered nationally, it is not listed in Victoria, despite the Portland region known to be home to one of the important populations.

Public submissions to the permit application can be made to the council until Friday. If there are no objections lodged, it will go through the council's normal planning processes. However, if there is an objection, the application will be considered by the council's delegated planning committee.