Saturday 13 January 2007

EC looking back to the future: Push for a new industrial revolution

Wednesday 10/1/2007 Page: 10
By David Gow

THE European Commission will today call for "a new industrial revolution", promoting renewable energy and nuclear power to replace dwindling fossil fuels and combat climate change.

Its controversial proposals, outlined in a series of papers on energy policy and competition, are partly based on research published on Monday showing the price of oil and gas is likely to double to $US110 ($A145) a barrel as global reserves plateau. Coal, it says, will stage a comeback prompted by new carbon capture and storage systems.

The commission's white paper foresees European Union energy imports jumping to 65 per cent of consumption by 2030, when 84 per cent of gas and 93 per cent of oil will come from overseas, making the drive to increase the use of renewables, hydrogen and nuclear inexorable.

Its promotion of atomic energy, partly for use in producing hydrogen, is the most controversial aspect of its proposals, as nuclear power is banned in countries such as Austria and is being phased out in others such as Germany and Sweden. It is couched in implicit terms - not least because an EU-wide poll shows only 20 per cent backing for nuclear power.

With the commission setting a minimum target of a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020, nuclear power is seen in the research as providing 30 per cent of Europe's energy demand by 2050. Renewables such as wind power would provide slightly more than a fifth.

But, in a low-carbon scenario, these two would fuel threequarters of power generation, with half of the rest coming from plants with carbon dioxide capture and storage.

The commission's plans are accompanied by proposed measures to break up the monopolist stranglehold of huge energy groups such as France's EDF and Germany's Eon on the internal market and to introduce more competition. But the commission has not yet reached full agreement on the proposal among the 27 commissioners.

Most are said to favour forcing integrated energy groups, deemed to be colluding to prevent new entrants, to sell their electricity transmission and gaspipeline networks.

A minority, grouped around President Jose Manuel Barroso, would prefer to see these networks retained in their ownership but handed over to an independent systems operator.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was asked in an interview yesterday about energy issues, said the public should not be asked to adopt a "hair shirt" approach to tackling climate change. Mr Blair recycles his rubbish in Downing Street but says he will not give up his foreign holidays to save the planet.

The Prime Minister - who has just returned from a controversial winter break at the home of Bee Gees star Robin Gibb in Florida - was asked by Sky News if he had thought of setting an example by forgoing a longhaul flight to Barbados for his summer holiday. Mr Blair said he would be reluctant to give up his holidays abroad - and suggested it would not go down well with his family.

Farm site for energy centre

Newcastle Herald
Saturday 6/1/2007 Page: 2
By Frances Thompson

A MULTIMILLION dollar energy centre that is hoped will supply the Hunter Region with power from wind, sun and water is planned for a site near Scone. An application for the first stage of the Kyoto Energy Park proposal, for up to 37 turbines on two sites, has been lodged under the NSW Government's Part 3A, state significant planning provisions by Pamada Pty Ltd.

Upper Hunter Shire Council has amended its environmental planning laws to allow such developments and pamada says the area has long been considered ideal for renewable energy production.

As well as detailing the plan, Pamada challenges the coalmining and coalfired power generation industries to justify their continued "degradation" of the Hunter's environment. The park is an opportunity to support renewable energy rather than accept landscape degradation from mining activities, the documents state.

"This is a local initiative borne out of a desire to keep Scone green and clean... that the community values its healthy landscape, coupled with a strong desire not to have coal mining in its area," the documents state.

If approved, the park's first stage will consist of wind turbines on ridge tops with a likely generating capacity of up to 110 megawatts. The company's consultants have estimated a project capital investment of more than $200 million for the wind generation phase. Future stages include a solar thermal plant, a hydro-electric generator and a visitor and education centre.

The land is owned by farmer and tourism operator Allan Henderson, of Middlebrook Station, who has been negotiating on the project for several years.

The Herald tried unsuccessfully to contact Pamada representative Mark Sydney.

Hunter Environment Lobby spokeswoman and Greens candidate for Maitland Jan Davis welcomed the move.

According to the documents, Pamada is the proponent for the project and the Kyoto Energy Park Company Pty Ltd will act as the park developer.