Thursday 16 November 2006

Third wind turbine maker sets up HQ in Melbourne

AAP Newswire
Wednesday 15/11/2006

MELBOURNE, Nov 15 AAP -A third wind turbine manufacturer will setup its headquarters in Melbourne.

Victorian Energy Minister Theo Theophanous told an energy conference today that European company REpower would move its Australasian headquarters to Melbourne by the end of the year, creating 15 local jobs.

The government's Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) of 10 per cent of energy to be supplied from renewable sources by 2016 had made REpower's decision possible, Mr Theophanous said.

"REpower is now the third major wind turbine manufacturer that's made Melbourne home," he said.

The other wind turbine companies that have set up in Melbourne are Vestas and Suzlon Energy. Mr Theophanous made the announcement during a debate on the merits of renewable energy with Liberal Party energy spokesman Phil Davis ahead of the November 25 state election.

The minister said the VRET was modest by world standards and had been remarkably successful, but a future Liberal government would kill renewable energy in Victoria. But Mr Davis said his party was unconvinced by the merits of the VRET and saw it as nothing more than a vehicle to raise energy costs to consumers and implement new taxes.

He said the VRET largely relied on wind energy, which was unreliable and a poor vehicle for achieving the targets. Mr Davis said energy was one of the keys to the Victorian economy and the state had a unique energy resource in the Hazelwood brown coal mine.

He said Hazelwood was the world's second largest brown coal supply in the world that was equivalent to or greater than the gas reserves in the north-west shelf and it must be preserved.

`Thaggi on nuclear power short-list

South Gippsland Sentinel Times
Tuesday 7/11/2006, Page: 1

Wonthaggi has been short-listed as one of five potential sites for a nuclear power station in Victoria.

By Anna Erbrederis

Wonthaggi was named along with the Latrobe Valley, Avalon, Hastings, and Portland, in a secret report to the Federal Government compiled by nuclear experts. Dr Martin Sevior, a nuclear specialist at Melbourne University, believes Wonthaggi would be an ideal location.

"Criteria for possible locations include access to shipping, access to water, low population density, and access to high voltage transmission lines." Dr Sevior said. "Wonthaggi is very close to the sea, so sea water could be used for cooling at a plant.

"It also has access to shipping, enabling fuel to be moved in, and waste taken out." Dr Sevior said that Wonthaggi's low population density also made it an attractive site. "It is much easier to move a smaller number of people than a larger population in the event of any problems at a station," he said.

"As Wonthaggi has a low population density in comparison to Melbourne and other state centres, it would be simpler to administer an evacuation." Another decisive factor in location scouting is proximity to high voltage transmission lines. "It costs a lot to build these, and Wonthaggi is quite close the Latrobe Valley and to Melbourne. so I guess that's why South Gippsland makes sense," Dr Sevior stated.

The associate professor believes there would be a number of advantages in housing a nuclear power station at Wonthaggi.

"It would be a major employer for the town, with very well-paid positions," he said. "Nuclear power stations don't have to have a big visual impact on the town, they can hide on the other side of a hill." Dr Sevior said that he would support Wonthaggi as a promising location.

"For these types of projects, it is integral to have local interest and backing." he said. "I would only support Wonthaggi as a site if locals thought it was in their interest."

Broadbent not happy

While Dr Sevior painted a positive nuclear picture, Federal Member for McMillan, Russell Broadbent, was less than impressed to have his electorate pinned on the bullseye.

"Not while I'm the Member for McMillan," Mr Broadbent said last week. "South Gippsland is not the place for a nuclear power station, nor is it the place for an industrial wind farm. "It's a pristine environmental area." These comments were made in the face of a statement from Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane last week, claiming that nuclear power would be competitive within 15 years.

Mr Broadbent said that while the South Gippsland area was certainly mentioned in the report to government, he did not believe Wonthaggi was necessarily targeted. The Liberal MP stated that he was opposed to nuclear power.

"Why would we even be considering nuclear power when we have an abundance of cheap, green coal." he said. "Nuclear power is still 20 years away, but we don't want it. "Hands off South Gippsland."


Equally outraged was Greens state candidate for Bass, Tully Fletcher. "I am horrified at the idea my home town could be the site of such an illconceived venture." Mr Fletcher said.

"The Greens, and especially myself, are opposed to nuclear power. "We have no way to safely dispose of waste. "Nuclear power is not the solution to climate change, it will take far too long for nuclear energy to have any effect on carbon emissions." Mr Fletcher said that he would prefer to see the government invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

"We have to ask ourselves what's worse . . . wind farms, or a towering nuclear plant rotting our landscape," he said.

Shire Bass Coast Shire CEO. Allan Bawden, said he did not believe Wonthaggi was being considered as a possible location. "Council hasn't seen any reports detailing these kinds of suggestions," Mr Bawden said.

"I would be surprised if the Bass Coast was being considered as a potential site, given that we don't have the requirements that a nuclear power plant would need. "Such as access to a high voltage electrical grid and adequate water for cooling purposes." Mr Bawden also commented that he did not see nuclear power becoming viable in the near future.

"The nuclear industry has a long way to go, in terms of declaring that nuclear power is environmentally safer that other forms of power generation."

Global warming: setting an example

The Westerner
Thursday 9/11/2006 Page: 31

By Mal McClure

The Federal Government has at long last become interested in what is happening to our environment. One could be cynical and suggest that global warming will be the major issue in the next election but let us be charitable and assume higher motives for the moment.

A couple of weeks ago the government announced plans to fund projects to clean up the horrendous CO2 emissions from the coal-fuelled power generators in Victoria's Latrobe Valley, plus a large-scale solar energy project in the same state. Last week they announced more funding for a whole raft of further initiatives.

And not before time. Anyone who has driven past the huge smoke stacks near Morwell in Victoria could not help but be aghast at the dense pollution belching forth to the heavens. We may not be the world's heaviest polluters overall - USA has that distinction with China rapidly catching up to them - but Australia's per capita contribution to the current global warming disaster is higher than any other western country.

As I write this column, the positive talk now is mainly centred around a carboncatching technique, being developed by CSIRO, whereby CO2 emissions are trapped at the source before they have a chance of entering the atmosphere.

The Victorian solar-powered project is to be welcomed and the sooner it is in production the better for all of us. More mystifying is the Prime Minister's reluctance to embrace wind-powered electricity generation on a large scale. There are wind farms in Victoria that have been operating successfully for many years now and, in Europe, for many decades.

There is still some debate about wind farms and the main objection is primarily on aesthetic grounds. Personally, when driving around Europe almost 10 years ago, I found the sight of wind farms, particularly in Denmark where they were already in abundance, to be rather comforting when compared with the coal-fired turbines to be seen spewing out their pollution elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the drought continues here. Our south-east Queensland dam levels have dropped from 40 per cent of capacity, when Level 1 water restrictions were introduced just 17 months ago, to around 26 per cent today, where we are now under Level 4 restrictions. The odd shower still comes our way but I wouldn't count on seeing the reliable rainfall patterns that we enjoyed until recently. Nowadays we don't hear many pundits expounding the opinion that the drought is cyclic and good times will return.

But this is small discomfort compared with the news last week that, because of rising sea levels, the inhabitants of a small group of six low-lying islands just north of Papua New Guinea are to become the world's first environmental refugees. They are to be relocated next year to Bougainville and, predictably, are none too happy about it. A spokesman for the group complained bitterly that they had enjoyed none of the benefits of civilisation but were suffering the consequences of it.

Last week's report to the British government by the eminent economist Sir Nicholas Stern spelled out, in the most dire terms, that the ultimate cost of global warming would affect the economies of every country to a much greater extent than any previous disaster if we didn't get our collective act together now and plan to avert it.

The Kyoto Protocol, supported by 165 countries, introduced the concept of carbon- trading as a first step, but we need to go much further than that to save our planetary home in the long term. Two western countries, USA and Australia, did not sign up to Kyoto and it is to their everlasting shame that our governments still do not choose to see global warming as the greatest crisis in the world's history.

Only last week, I heard Peter Costello on radio saying there was no point in Australia trying to meet Kyoto targets when major developing countries, particularly China and India, were polluting to a far greater extent than us.

There is a point, Mr Costello. Be positive. Join the 165 countries already Kyoto committed and work with them to save the planet. Be the leader you aspire to be, not a follower, by setting this example. And note last-week's News poll finding that 86 per cent of Australians think the government is not doing enough about climate change.

Mal McClure is the editor/publisher of Being Now, a non-profit magazine which explores and offers innovative, non-doctrinal solutions to problems of humanity.

To subscribe phone: 3289 9392 or email:

Albany wins top tourism spot

Albany Advertiser
Tuesday 14/11/2006 Page: 3

ALBANY has scooped the competition to win the GWN Top Tourism Town award. With less than two points separating the final five towns, Albany inched over the line to win the accolade on Friday night. "We're ecstatic," City of Albany Tourism Development officer Krysta Guille said.

Judge Gabrielle Ausden said the Albany Visitor Centre did a fantastic job of showing the judges the best Albany had to offer.

"They used every minute to show us an amazing experience: the locally made coffee, a bit of a wonky scooter ride, the wind farm, a whale watching boat tour and also the chance to meet some of the local producers from the markets and Mt Romance," she said.

"We were even greeted by someone dressed up in an old solider's uniform to talk about Albany's heritage." The award is particularly exciting for the City of Albany, which took over the running of the visitor centre 18 months ago.

The launch of the Amazing Albany brand earlier this year and the refurbishment of the centre, completed five months ago, has formed the cornerstone of the new approach toward tourism. "The operators in town really got on board when we launched the brand," Ms Guille said.

"When we hold functions there's such a good turn out. Everyone has really come together for tourism in Albany." The award brings promotional benefits. "We're going to use it as a marketing tactic - we are WA's top tourism town," the City's Economic Development manager Jon Berry said.

"We'll get some TV ads because GWN is one of the major sponsors. "People in the caravans and motor homes, they might be coming here from up north and hopefully this will encourage them to stay a little longer. "People still don't realise how much there is to do down here." Chair of the awards judging panel, Ray Bird, said the standard of entrants was extremely high.

Albany also won the heritage award in the special category section.

Renewable energy comes to Myocum

Northern Star
Wednesday 15/11/2006 Page: 7

12-month trial period first hurdle to overcome for wind-powered turbine.

WHILE the Federal Government considers alternative energy, Myocum's Danielle Leonard is making it happen. As managing director of the ReGenesis Farm, she has organised the erection of a $140,000, 20kw wind turbine to power irrigation pumps and run the cool room.

In terms we all understand, the windmill can provide enough electricity to power four family homes. As one of only three of these Westwind-manufactured turbines installed in NSW, it has attracted some interest. As a result, it will be officially commissioned by Byron Shire Council mayor Jan Barham at 3pm today.

According to Ms Leonard, the five-year-old farm - owned by art investor and environmentalist Elaine Seiler - is creating a model for sustainable agriculture.

At the moment it turns over $6000 worth of market garden produce each week, supplying organic herbs and vegetables to local restaurants and wholesalers. To help `close the loop' the farm employs people to cart green waste back to the farm in its biodiesel-powered truck to make compost, which in turn enriches the soil.

The turbine will help make the farm even more ecologically viable, saving the atmosphere 1000 tonnes of greenhouse gases in its lifetime. But environmentally friendly is not necessarily neighbour friendly.

Plans to erect the wind turbine met with a community concerned about noise, looks and its impact on birdlife. As a result, the turbine has approval for a 12-month trial, during which time impacts will be measured.

Ms Leonard says the turbine sounds about as loud as a household fan.

ALTERNATIVE energy from wind and solar needs to be coupled with efficient home design. According to Peter 'Peddles' van der Wyk, of Rainbow Power at Nimbin, a single air-conditioner may use much more than can be produced by small-scale solar, wind or hydro power.

Tidal' energy' wave of future

Bendigo Advertiser
Wednesday 15/11/2006 Page: 25

In the quest for oil-free power, American companies are staking claims on the boundless energy of the sea.

THE technology that would draw energy from ocean tides to keep light bulbs and laptops aglow is largely untested, but several newly minted companies are reserving tracts of water from Alaska's Cook Inlet to Manhattan's East River in the belief that such sites could become profitable sources of electricity.

Tidal power proponents liken the technology to little wind turbines on steroids, turning like windmills in the current. Water's greater density means fewer and smaller turbines are needed to produce the same amount of electricity as wind turbines.

After more than two decades of experimenting, the technology has advanced enough to make business sense. In the past four years, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved nearly a dozen permits to study tidal sites. While applications for about 40 others are under review, no one has applied for a development licence.

The site that is furthest along in testing lies in New York's East River, between the boroughs of Manhattan and Queens, where Verdant Power plans to install two underwater turbines this month as part of a small pilot project. Power from the turbines will be routed to a supermarket and parking garage on nearby Roosevelt Island.

The six-year-old company will spend 18 months studying the effects on fish before putting in another four turbines. The project will cost more than $US10 million (about $A13 million), including' $U82 million ($A2.6 million) on monitoring equipment.

If all goes well, New York-based Verdant could have up to 300 turbines in the river by 2008 which would produce as much as 10 megawatts of power, or enough electricity for 8000 homes.

With 19,919km of coastline, the US may seem like a wide-open frontier for the fledgling industry, but experts believe only a few will prove profitable, like those beneath San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and in Knik Arm near Anchorage. These ideal sites are close to a power grid and have large amounts or fast-moving water with enough room to build on the sea floor while staying clear of boat traffic.

But Europe, Canada and Asia have moved faster than their US counterparts to support tidal eneyrgy with small facilities in Russia, Canada and China, as well as a 30-year-old plant in France.

In the United States, wave energy technology is less advanced than tidal and will need more government subsidies, however, the number of good wave sites far exceeds that of tidal. Wave power collection involves cork or serpent-like devices that absorb energy from swells on the ocean's surface, whereas tidal machines sit on the sea floor.

Tidal energy technology has been able to build on lessons learned from wind power development, while wave engineers have had to start virtually from scratch, but a few companies are working aggressively to usher wave power into the energy industry.

One of these is Aqua Energy who could start building a wave energy plant at Makah Bay in Washington state within two years. Another wave plant is under construction off the coast of Portugal.

Home Eco: Catch The Wind

Wednesday 15/11/2006 Page: 17

We are used to the idea of solar I panels to generate power, but having your own wind powered generator is something else. Neco, an online store for eco-friendly products has wind-turbine generators for $499.The cast steel and aluminium generator is 4.5 metres high with a 2.1 metre diameter, three-blade rotor. It can generate 200 watts at wind speeds as low as eight metres a second and has a 28V output, which wil I charge a 24V battery bank. The generator is supplied with base, guy wires and mounting hardware.

Green power ratings guide consumers

Adelaide Advertiser
Wednesday 15/11/2006 Page: 26

SOLAR and wind power offered by Origin and TRUenergy has been rated the best electricity Australian consumers can buy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a new report shows.

Green Electricity Watch 2006 was launched by the Australian Conservation Foundation, WWF-Australia and the Total Environment Centre yesterday to encourage consumers to switch to power retailers that produce the least amount of pollution.

It states at least 25 per cent of electricity will need to be sourced from renewable energy by 2020 to help avoid climate change. The report claims this would only be achieved if more people bought green power provided by retailers.

The three environment groups rated 14 electricity retailers on how environmentally friendly the power is and how much the company had increased the uptake of green power.

Origin's GreenEarth Solar and GreenEarth Wind, along with TRUenergy Wind Power Pty Ltd, were given the maximum rating of four stars. AGL's Green Energy program rated fourth and was given a three-star rating.

Australian Conservation Foundation sustainability program manager Monica Richter said electricity consumption was the biggest cause of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 35 per cent of emissions.

"By buying electricity with the highest amount of green power, we help boost the demand for clean, renewable energy, which immediately cuts our own greenhouse gas emissions," she said. "It is the best way individuals can contribute to reducing Australia's greenhouse pollution." Australians source 92 per cent of electricity from fossil fuels, such as burning coal.

A website,, has been launched to help consumers choose which green energy plan is available to them and how it compares to other companies.

Tuesday 14 November 2006

Renewable sources could power 25% of U.S. energy needs by 2025
November 13, 2006

Renewable energy sources could supply one quarter of America's electricity and motor vehicle fuel needs by 2025 according to a new study from RAND, a nonprofit research organisation. Currently six percent is energy used in the United Stats comes from renewable sources like solar, biomass, hydroelectric, tidal, wind, and geothermal.

RAND found that meeting the 25 percent renewable energy target for electricity and motor fuels would not increase total national energy spending assuming that renewable energy production costs continue to drop as expected and that long-term oil prices do not fall out of the range currently projected by the Energy Information Administration.

RAND says that wind power, solar power, and cellulosic ethanol produced from farm waste hold the most potential for generating clean electricity, while biomass converted into ethanol could be used to fuel motor vehicles.

If the 25 percent goal is met, RAND calculates that U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide will be 15 percent lower than projected, while expected demand for oil would fall by 2.5 million barrels.

Mark Bernstein was lead author of the study.
Report: Impacts on U.S. Energy Expenditures of Increasing Renewable Energy Use

How to save a mountain

Colorado Voices: Louisville
Article Last Updated:11/11/2006

In the Appalachians, mountains that have stood for thousands of years are being blasted away to provide electricity for televisions, computers and light bulbs. I've been in an ecovillage that uses only solar, water and wind power, and I can say first-person that there's no need whatsoever for this massive destruction.

Two recent documentaries, Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" and Jeff Barrie's "Kilowatt Ours," have brought some solutions into the foreground of thought in the Southeast. It's time for the Mountain West to start working to save our softer sisters, the Appalachians, from certain death.

The first and easiest change that any American can make would be to replace all incandescent light bulbs with compact bulbs, those curly looking ones that cost a little more upfront. Each one saves $55 during the life of the bulb, along with hundreds of pounds of coal.

Wind and solar power destroy nothing, and it's easy to create a solar-powered life, even for a nightbird like me. I'm a night reader, and I love to write at night. Instead of brightening a whole room, I can turn on my curly light-bulb lamp, using a little bit of coal instead of a lot, or I can wear my hiker's light, which has an LED bulb. The hiker's light actually supplies exactly the right amount of illumination for writing and reading, and it costs almost nothing to run. Plus, it uses no coal at all.

There's no real sacrifice to living this way. In ecovillages, solar panels store up energy, and each house in the community has a unique style. The Earthship is insulated with recycled tires. The community building has straw bale insulation in the walls and a gorgeous floor of recycled marble.

It doesn't take living in an ecovillage to make a significant difference. Cities, counties and school districts can make sweeping changes and save millions of dollars while saving the mountains. In traffic lighting, LED lights will last seven years instead of 90 days. Exit signs, too, can use LED for power.

Any new buildings in the city, be they schools or other new construction, could use daylighting as a means of conserving energy usage. Schoolchildren would benefit most, since use of daylight instead of artificial light increases test scores and improves student attitudes. Instead of those annoying, buzzing overhead fluorescents that actually can cause headaches and anxiety, the kids sit in rooms awash with sunshine.

I propose that cities in Colorado make sweeping changes to save our sister mountains to the East. We can insist that no new developments be built anywhere in the area unless they are completely self-sufficient, net-zero-energy homes, passive solar and utilising only renewable power sources.

By using a geothermal system, passive solar construction and integrated photovoltaic panels, a home can be made completely self-sufficient. The geothermal system pumps water and recirculates it, keeping houses cool in summer and warmer in winter. In Boulder, Xcel Energy offers the option of green, clean wind energy for people who simply check a box on their energy bill, so there's no reason for every citizen not to do exactly that. Energy companies can take it a step farther, too, by offering rebates and incentives for homeowners to add solar panels to existing homes.

In my ecovillage, nobody cares about television, but many of us use computers. We also don't use aluminium cans much; instead, we drink fresh spring water and make our own tea, wines and juices in this fertile land. The irony is that the mountains being destroyed by the energy companies to feed those TV needs are ecologically diverse beauties that provide the real resources that human beings actually need to be self-sustaining - fresh spring water, daylight, clean streams, green plants, fresh air.

People with modest incomes often are the first ones to begin to make a significant difference, knowing that every penny counts, motivated by saving money as well as saving nature. Some people can afford to waste their money, but humanity as a whole can't afford to waste the mountains.

The results of our efforts will have one huge, tangible result: Our children's grandchildren will be able to enjoy the birdsong and beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. A simple visit to the Southeast shows mighty mountains falling down - and for what? Lights and computers left on for no reason; televisions blaring in the dark.

I'd like for schoolchildren across America to rally their all-too-complacent elders. Their grandchildren will be the ones choking with asthma, in an ecosystem devoid of soft mountains and fresh air. Then again, why make the children carry our conscience and the consequences? We can start now to save the country's softest mountains.

Green building materials conserve scarce resources

Record Online
November 12, 2006

Imagine if we could have entire neighbourhoods designed green, with solar and wind power, geothermal heating and cooling and energy-efficient green buildings that make us feel good and breathe easier.

This would be a better world.

As it is, traditional buildings drain the world's natural resources by 3 billion tons each year, or roughly 40 percent of the world's total use, according to the World Watch Institute's 1995 report.

By using green building materials and products, we conserve dwindling non-renewable resources. By integrating green building materials into new building projects, we reduce the environmental impact of extraction, transportation, processing, fabrication, installation, reuse, recycling and disposal of these building materials.

And, we enjoy reduced maintenance costs over the life of the building, energy efficiency and improved health and productivity from a better working and living environment. As homeowners and consumers, we are the ones who determine whether green building materials are used in our homes and who installs them.

Many architects will not automatically include passive solar or green building ideas unless their clients press them for those things. Most builders will opt for the cheapest material to get the job done quickly, not the best materials to do the job right for the next generation. We can't wait for government initiatives to reduce the costs, or mandates to start the green ball rolling. We have to do it ourselves.

What makes a material "green" is not always clearly defined. In 1998, the U.S. Green Building Council in Washington, D.C., came up with a checklist for a green building certificate, called LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

What most of these products have in common is that they come from renewable sources and don't contain toxic chemicals that leach into the home environment. Here are a few green materials and suppliers that you might be able to find locally.

Recycled-plastic lumber or decking — like Trex, for instance — is a highly durable material that won't deteriorate or fall prey to pests. You can find it on occasion at the Hudson Valley Materials Exchange or order it through your local hardware or home-supply store.

Bamboo and cork floorings are 100 percent natural, as well as being renewable wood sources. We have both in our home, and they look beautiful.

Bamboo flooring is as hard as maple, more stable than oak and usually comes with a lifetime structural warranty. Cork is softer, bacteria-resistant and has interesting burled wood grains. Cork flooring is actually made from the waste of the cork wine-stopper manufacturing process.

Green Courage in Cold Spring has an assortment of floor coverings that qualify as green building materials.

Marmoleum floor coverings are a natural alternative to linoleum. They are available in sheets or tiles, are made from natural flax, rosins, wood flour and are backed with jute.

Green Courage offers wool rugs and carpets produced in North America made with natural jute, rubber and hemp. None of these floor covering contains pesticides or solvents, and they don't leak terrible things into your home. Many can also be ordered through your independent flooring stores and installers.

Bio-boards are a light, strong, moisture-resistant and cost-effective engineered core that binds agricultural waste products like wheat straw fibre, sunflower hulls, palm or sorghum stalks into boards that come in a variety of widths, lengths and thicknesses.

Most of these boards will outperform particleboard, are lighter and are easier to cut and use. All are produced with formaldehyde-free resin binders and off-gassing, which is a boon for asthmatics and small children. You can find them at Green Courage as well as wholesale to builders at Bettencourt Building Supply in Brooklyn.

Victoria’s energy policy needs clear thinking

Media Release, Rob Clancy, Manager - Media & Community Relations
Tuesday 14th November 2006:

Claims by the Victorian Opposition Leader, Ted Baillieu, that a proposed desalination plant could be powered by renewable energy highlight a major conflict in his own energy, climate change and water policies.

The Australian Wind Energy Association (Auswind) welcomes the concept of powering desalination plants with wind energy but warns that no new renewable energy facilities will be built in Victoria, regardless of any desalination plant, if the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) scheme is repealed, as the State Opposition has pledged to do.

“The Opposition Leader plans to repeal the VRET. The fact is that without VRET or some other mechanism that recognises the real cost of carbon emissions, there will be no new wind farms in Victoria. It’s as simple as that,” said Auswind CEO, Dominique La Fontaine.

“A desalination plant uses an enormous amount of electricity, which could be either sourced from the national power grid or direct from a purpose-built renewable energy facility such as a wind farm. Either way, to power a desalination plant with wind energy will require new wind farms and that won’t happen without VRET.”

“Mr. Baillieu is trying to have two bob each way if he believes he could build a wind farm specifically to power the desalination plant but then pulls the plug on existing legislation that supports renewable energy development.”

It is only forward-thinking schemes like VRET and the new NRET in NSW that are keeping renewable energy alive in Australia, because of the huge competitive advantages enjoyed by the coal industry.

Auswind is calling on all governments, state and federal, to follow the lead of much of Europe, the USA, Canada, China and India and legislate for significant proportions of their electricity production to be from renewable sources.

“We have some of the best wind resources in the world and investors just waiting for the right signals to make us a leader in renewable energy. Australia needs forward thinking and a cohesive set of energy, climate change and water policies not short-term responses to serious issues,” said Ms. La Fontaine.

Turbine construction underway at Woolnorth

Circular Head Chronicle
Wednesday 1/11/2006 Page: 12

A NUMBER of 90 metre turbines have been built at the new Studland Bay windfarm at Woolnorth. The giant tower sections and blades are transported to the site by truck to be assembled using a crane with a 115 metre jib, the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

In suitable weather, it takes a day to erect a turbine. "We're always watching the weather, we look at all the forecasts. We're lucky here because we've got Cape Grim [monitoring station]," said Roaring 40s senior project manager Michael Gilmore. "It's very important the wind is as calm as we can predict.

Obviously because we're on a windfarm it's usually quite windy out here." The crane also has inbuilt wind-monitoring technology. If wind speed exceeds 15 metres per second, the crane will automatically stop.

Before turbine building began, tower sites were determined by a process called "micro-siting". "It's quite an exact science to do with the topography of the land and prevailing wind conditions," Mr Gilmore said.

Turbines must be a distance of three times the diameter of the rotor away from each other to avoid "wake loss", or receiving disturbed air from a nearby turbine. The Vestas V90 turbines represent the latest in Danish wind technology. Standing 90 metres tall and weighing 270 tonnes, each turbine has three hollow carbon fibre blades.

"[Each blade] acts as a sail, it either catches the wind or shed the wind. Each of the blades can feather individually, Mr Gilmore said. "It's quite a big move forward that. It's a big help with energy, it's a big help with noise reduction." Mr Gilmore has worked on windfarm projects around the world, and has extensive knowledge of how farms are configured in other parts of the world.

Wind turbines are now a familiar feature of the landscape of a number of European countries. "It's common to have one or two turbines on your land, it's called `the farmer's pension', some farmers find [the noise] quite hypnotic," Mr Gilmore said. "Germany last year put in something like 400 turbines.

"Europe is very committed to wind." The United Kingdom's wind energy regime includes off-shore windfarms. The turbines are bolted into the bedrock on the sea floor. Advantages of offshore windfarms include access to undisturbed wind and minimal disruption to humans. "They actually stick out of the water," Mr Gilmore said. "The North Sea is like Bass Strait, it's very shallow. "If you see that on a misty day, it's surreal."

Wind could meet the shortfall in fossil fuels

Denmark Bulletin
Thursday 9/11/2006 Page: 3

BRUSSELS: The world's wind industry could install 120OGW of turbines by 2030 to meet the shortfall in oil and gas supplies, according to the Global Wind Energy Council and Renewable Energy Systems.

'The world's energy resources are not sufficient to sustain expected growth trends," said the joint survey of world fuel resources and their impact on the development of wind energy.

A growing gap between energy demand and the available supply of oil and gas meant that high energy prices were here to stay.

The report shows that many forecasts have overestimated global reserves of oil and gas, and rebuts predictions by the International Energy Agency that 60% of global energy could still be provided by oil and gas by 2030. It estimates that production of oil could peak in eight years and gas in 25, with prices first rising steeply.

While coal could last until the end of the century and increase its share of energy supply, coal for large-scale power generation would only be acceptable if clean coal technologies were developed, which currently have cost and technological barriers. A serious shortfall between demand and supply could become evident by 2010, with a 10% shortfall by 2020 and an 18% shortfall by 2030.

Wind energy had been the fastest-growing energy source of the last decade, driven by increasing environmental and energy security concerns.

Natural gas could support only a quarter of the new gas-fired power additions planned until 2030, leaving a gap of 1200GW for other power sources.

That gap offered enormous potential for wind power that was unforeseen by the GWEC's wind capacity forecasts.

Wind power was clearly one of the most cost-effective and environmentally-acceptable energy technologies, the report concluded. (Refocus Weekly)

1. A recent study by Australia's CSIRO has concluded that carbon sequestration (the pumping of C02 back into the ground) is not cost-effective when applied to existing coal-fired power stations. To be successful it would require new, high-tech facilities built in geologically suitable areas - which may be a long way from existing transmission infrastructure, thus adding to the high cost of building new power stations.

When only the best will do

Denmark Bulletin
Thursday 9/11/2006 Page: 2

The Denmark Community Windfarm got some unexpected world-class support recently, from renowned ecologist Dr David Suzuki, during his visit to Perth as part of a world tour to talk about sustainability and environmental challenges.

Denmark resident and DCW member Joanne Carter, who is currently studying at UWA, managed to collar Dr Suzuki after his talk and ask him about wind energy. He said the proposed windfarm was an opportunity for action on behalf of future generations.

Though debate was healthy, opposition was sometimes misguided and polarised communities unnecessarily. It was worth remembering that "if we lose the Earth, we lose everything".

It was a tragedy that Australia was not capitalising on its abundant renewable resources,such as wind and solar energy. In much of Europe significant steps have been taken for years to reduce reliance of fossil fuels, with wind now a major contributor to the energy mix - and reaping profits.

Dr Suzuki said the Australian government's position on the Kyoto Protocol was embarrassing and a "bogus argument": If the biosphere is wrecked, it will not be done by those who couldn't give a damn about it - they now belong to a diminishing minority. It will be destroyed by nice, well meaning, cosmopolitan people who accept the case for cutting emissions, but who won't change the way they live

... Politicians won't jump until the rest of us do, (so) do you really want to stop climate chaos, or do you just want to feel better about yourself? - George Monbiot, The Guardian, 21/9/06

The future ain't what it used to be

Denmark Bulletin
Thursday 9/11/2006 Page: 1

How could I look my grandchildren in the eye and say `I knew about this, and did nothing'? - Sir David Attenborough, on global warming.

No matter what you do for a living, where you live, or how much money you make, everything you do has an impact on the planet. Whether large or small, every action is important.

The factors contributing to global warming can seem overwhelmingly complex - big corporations, the government, special interest groups, and our own daily lives are all tangled together in a web of interconnecting needs, wants, and plain old habits.

Unless you're a power player on the world stage, you might feel powerless to disentangle the "big" stuff. That's why we arranged with the Australian Conservation Foundation to include their booklet, "Australia's Inconvenient Truth", in this newsletter.

It, outlines some of the things you can do at home and at work to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions - and the best part is, it really isn't difficult to make a difference! The Denmark Community Windfarm will make a difference by saving about 7500 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year entering the atmosphere.

In doing so it will supply clean, green power equal to about 60% of Denmark's annual consumption, and boost the local economy, by keeping some of the $1- million we pay for electricity each year in the district.

It is a community-owned project, so by investing in it you will have a say in how it is run and how its profits are used - and your electricity bills will be lower, through the annual dividend paid to shareholders.

Feasibility study proves the point The project's final feasibility study, delivered on September 20, confines that the windfarm is technically and financially viable.

DCW chairman Craig Chappelle said "it vindicates the community's desire, clearly stated in public workshops three years ago, for Denmark to have a sustainable-energy future. "The study shows that, on the best site, a small scale, community-owned windfarm can deliver environmental and social benefits, and still turn a profit."

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Because of the inherent limitations of the existing Western Power grid the windfarm will be smaller than originally planned - 1.6 megawatts (MW) instead of 2.4 - and comprise only two turbines.

"However, with local support growing steadily and the state government committed to seeing the project succeed, it is just a matter of time until the windfarm is pumping pollution free electricity into Denmark homes," Craig said.

The completion date is currently expected to be 2009, due mainly to a worldwide backlog of orders for wind turbines. In the meantime, planning and connection approvals will be obtained, further site studies completed and investment sought.

"The key goal remains that Denmark people own the windfarm, so we encourage local individuals and businesses to consider investing. We would hope that at least half the project could be financed this way," Craig said.

DCW has also applied for a regional assistance grant available to renewable-energy generators that would cover the other half of the $2.6m project. A prospectus will be issued in due course, offering shares in Denmark Power Company, the legal entity that will manage the windfarm's operation.

63-turbine windfarm for Tarago

Goulburn Post
Friday 10/11/2006 Page: 3

Mandatory renewable energy figure to rise to 15% by 2020

PLANNING approval for a new $220 million wind farm south of Tarago in the Southern Tablelands was announced yesterday. The 63-turbine Capital Wind Farm will generate enough electricity to provide power for 52,000 homes, eliminating 300,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year.

The wind farm is located 12km south-west of Tarago and east of Lake George. It is proposed for a ridge between Tarago and Bungendore.

The announcement, by NSW Premier Morris lemma, coincided with an increase in the Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets (MRET) for NSW, which he said would slash greenhouse gas emissions and provide a major boost to the renewable energy sector.

The new targets meant that by law, 10 per cent of electricity consumed in NSW by 2010 would have to come from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

'The mandatory figure will rise to 15 per cent by 2020;' he said. Current renewable energy use in NSW was 6.1 per cent. "The need to act on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions is clear," Mr lemma said.

"NSW has a proud track record of leading the nation in the climate change debate and we will continue to do so, we've achieved a lot but there is more work to do." "The cost to the average household of reaching a 15 per cent mandatory renewable target will be approximately $1 per week in the year 2020 but the cost of doing nothing is more frightening." Mr lemma said this initiative would send a strong signal to the renewable energy sector (wind, solar and biomass) that NSW was a place it could do business.

"Under this scheme, renewable generators will be able to create certificates for new generation," Mr lemma said.

"These certificates will be sold to electricity retailers which must surrender sufficient certificates to prove they have met the new targets." Retailers who do not reach the mandatory targets will face fines set at a level higher than the cost of purchasing renewable energy certificates in order to create an incentive to use renewable energy.

Clean energy pledge

Warrnambool Standard
Tuesday 14/11/2006 Page: 8

SOUTH West Coast candidate Roy Reekie believes Portland could become the alternative energy hub of Australia after Labor committed further support to renewables yesterday.

Premier Steve Bracks announced that under Labor, 20 per cent of the state's electricity would have to come from low emission sources by 2020.

While this includes natural gas and "clean coal", Mr Reekie said it would continue to encourage investment in the wind industry, much to the benefit of Portland businesses. "It is a huge vote of confidence in the wind power industry and a real vote of confidence in Portland," he said.

The goal is on top of the Victorian Renewable Energy Scheme (VRET), which requires energy retailers to buy 10 per cent of their electricity from renewable energy suppliers. Speaking at his official campaign launch in Ballarat, Mr Bracks said Labor would legislate to cut greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

The move has accentuated a political wedge between the two major parties. The Liberals are set to abolish the VRET scheme. They believe greater greenhouse gas cuts can be made by improving the brown coal sector.

"The choice is absolutely clear. The Bracks Government is offering a set of initiatives to support industry to reach the Victorian renewable energy target of 20 per cent," Mr Reekie said.

"Compare that with the Liberal Party, which is scrapping VRET and still questioning whether climate change is a reality." The Portland wind industry and the State Government slammed the Liberals' plan last week, claiming hundreds of wind energy positions would be lost and major projects cancelled.

Keppel Prince general manager Stephen Garner warned his 450 staff that an elected Liberal government would "effectively kill the wind industry in this town". Pacific Hydro said it would scrap its Portland wind project if the Opposition won.

Liberal member Denis Napthine said last week that VRET's abolition wouldn't affect major south-west wind farms because they had been proposed well before the introduction of the scheme this year. He said he supported the introduction of a national scheme.

PM thaws on carbon trading

Sydney Morning Herald
Tuesday 14/11/2006 Page: 1
Wendy Frew: Environment Reporter

Business calls for climate action, Nuclear option firms

JOHN HOWARD has yielded to pressure to consider a global carbon trading scheme, while business leaders say they are ready to take action against climate change.

In a carefully co-ordinated announcement last night, the Prime Minister told members of the Business Council of Australia that the Government would establish a working group with business to examine a carbon trading scheme.

His remarks followed a declaration by the council's president, Michael Chaney, that a market based, global agreement was the only valid, long-term solution to climate change.

"It has to be global because climate does not acknowledge national boundaries and because all nations must participate to minimise the impact on individual economies," Mr Chaney told a council dinner in Sydney.

"It has to be market-driven because only a clear and unambiguous link between carbon emissions and market value can provide both business and the community with a consistent and long-term motivation to reduce emissions." The Government has been reluctant to move on setting a price on greenhouse gas pollutants such as carbon, arguing the inevitable increase in the cost of energy would erode Australia's competitive advantage. Australia generates some of the world's cheapest - but dirtiest - electricity from its large reserves of black coal.

A price on carbon would make coal-fired power more expensive and renewable energy from wind turbines and solar panels more competitive. It would have the same effect on nuclear power, currently one of the most expensive ways of generating electricity.

Mr Howard continued to push nuclear power as an option yesterday, despite widespread public concern about the dangers and disposing of radioactive waste. The Prime Minister sees it as a solution to climate change because, once in operation, nuclear reactors generate relatively little greenhouse gas.

The Treasurer, Peter Costello, is also warming to carbon trading and yesterday he said Australia would have to be part of a global trading scheme. `Australia won't be able to stand outside a global agreement. What is wrong with the current situation is ... you don't have agreement from large economies such as China and India. If it is part of a comprehensive carbon-trading agreement, then Australia should be in there working to make sure that that is the best one available and one that is suited to Australians." A Lowy institute poll in October found 68 per cent of Australians believed climate change was a "critical threat" needing immediate government action, even if it involved significant costs.

Mr Chaney said Australia should take advantage of the strong relationships it had built with the world's biggest greenhouse gas polluters, the US, China and India, to set guiding principals for a global agreement.

In the face of international condemnation for refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, Australia and the US last year formed the Asia Pacific Clean Development and Climate Partnership with China, India, South Korea and Japan, to develop technology to cut emissions from traditional forms of energy such as coal and gas.

Some business council members, such as Westpac and Insurance Australia Group, have long lobbied for carbon trading but companies involved in energy intensive industries, such as aluminium and cement, have resisted, fearing the costs.

The Kyoto Protocol set country by country emission reduction targets and the groundwork for a carbon trading scheme. Those initiatives have already generated billions of dollars worth of trade in investment in carbon offsets - such as the planting of trees - although most countries have failed to meet their emission targets.

Firms find it easier being green

Herald Sun
Tuesday 14/11/2006 Page: 13

Origin Energy and TRUenergy have topped a list of the country's best GreenPower providers.

Origin's GreenEarth Solar and Green- Earth Wind and TRUenergy Wind Power Pty Ltd were found to make the biggest contribution to reducing the effects of global warming in the annual Green Electricity Watch report, released today.

The report reviewed the environmental benefits of 25 GreenPower-accredited electricity schemes on the market. It scored the schemes on a range of environmentally friendly criteria.

Fund gets wind of cheaper alternative

Australian Financial Review
Tuesday 14/11/2006 Page: 5

Wind is plentiful and cost effective, reckons B&B Wind.

Adam Courtenay reports.

Global demand for electricity is expected to double in the next 25 years and about one-third of present energy-producing operations must be replaced. But the question is, which renewable energy sources will be capable of filling the gap? In Australia, given the announcement by the government that it will invest $75 million in a massive solar energy undertaking in Mildura, many would think solar energy is the obvious candidate.

But Babcock & Brown Wind Partners, a specialised fund focused on the global wind energy industry, thinks differently. Wind, it says, is extremely cost-effective and Australia has copious supplies of it.

The company says the cost of wind energy production is less than the cost of producing electricity by new gas power stations - at least in Europe, the US and in Australia, its chief areas of investment. It also says wind can compete with traditional fossil fuels such as coal, particularly if you include the cost of carbon itself.

B&B Wind has been nominated for a 2006 Australian corporate sustainability special award for the environment, presented by online magazine Ethical Investor. The company has been nominated for the award of sustainable company of the year among the S&P/ASX 200 companies.

In Australia, the mechanics of organising large scale investment in energy sources such as wind power depend almost entirely on a government scheme, the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target .

So far, there are 41 wind farms providing 2200 gigawatt hours of electricity annually, which is about 0.5 per cent of the country's present energy requirements. This is the equivalent of powering 30,000 homes.

European wind farms, led by the large German and Spanish markets, produce about 20 times Australia's output. Wind farms in the US produce about five times. This may be minuscule compared with other, mostly carbon-related forms of energy, but B&BWP believes strongly in both the investment and environmental rationale for wind power.

Globally, the sector grew by 24 per cent in terms of cumulative installed capacity in the year to March 2006.

B&BWP was spun off and floated by investment group Babcock & Brown last year, and reported a net loss of $16.2 million in the 2005-06 fiscal year, just eight months after listing.

However, the fund remains sanguine about its prospects, recently increasing its projected unit payouts for fiscal year 2007 from 11.24 per stapled security to 12.54 per stapled security. This suggests that some of its acquisitions will be reaping returns for shareholders in the near future.

In May, it raised about $119 million from institutional investors for wind farm acquisitions in the United States. It has grown its portfolio from four wind farms to 19 since listing, with assets spread across Australia, Europe and the US. In all, B&BWP's farms produce over 1300 gigawatts hours a year.

The company believes the investment rationale for wind energy continues to improve as world demand for electricity increases and concerns about global warming deepen.

"We enter a market with a more mature and diverse portfolio and with a balance sheet which is undergeared," chief executive Peter O'Connell said in September.

Air flow
  • There are 41 wind farms providing 2200 gigawatt hours of electricity annually.
  • European wind farms produce about 20 times Australia's output.