Friday 2 February 2007

Lifesaving energy to come to Narooma

Narooma News
Wednesday 31/1/2007 Page: 29

THE Clean Energy for Eternity group have been busy on the Far South Coast of NSW with the launch on Saturday, January 20 of the renewable energy project for the Tathra Surf Lifesaving Club, and are now planning to spread their energy across NSW and the entire country.

Bega Valley mayor Tony Allen officially launched the project, which includes a wind turbine and solar photovoltaic cells on the roof of Tathra Surf Club. This will be followed by a solar hot water service, which will see the Surf Club running with a negligible carbon footprint.

The benefit of renewable energy for the surf club is threefold. The installation will save the surf club about $1000 per year on electricity bills which can be better utilised on lifesaving equipment. More will be saved following the installation of solar hot water system. Increase education and awareness of global warming and climate change and demonstrate solutions by showing the community renewable energy at work.

This project will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about three tonnes of per year. Although this may appear to be a modest start, collectively every little bit counts and will create a flow on effect.

The Tathra installation was supported by funds raised by local businesses and community members. The Department of Energy & Utilities (NSW) and the Greenhouse Office provided $4,000 as a rebate which is available to anyone who installs solar photovoltaic cells before July 2007.

Bega Valley Shire Council also was a major contributor matching funds raised by the community dollar for dollar. Clean Energy for Eternity are planning to fit out all surf clubs in the BVSC and Eurobodalla Shire Council areas with renewable energy before moving on to other surf clubs in the state.

Eurobodalla residents are confident Eurobodalla Shire Council will show the same support and follow in the footsteps of Bega Valley Council by also funding the surf clubs dollar for dollar. The next Clubs to be fitted out with renewable energy are Narooma Surf Lifesaving Club, with Broulee, Moruya and Batemans Bay to follow.

Clean Energy for Eternity is looking for local businesses and community members to support this initiative. For information call Julia Mayo-Ramsay 0419 848 057 or email surfclubpmject@yalwo. com. au

It's time to dip a toe into-the rising water

Geelong Advertiser
Friday 2/2/2007 Page: 19

THE Queen Mary turns very slowly. In this case the old ship is the Federal Government and industry who, together, are still only making slight directional changes in their response to the heated issue of global warming and climate change.

The persistent, collective sitting on hands attitude was adopted as scientists, lobby groups and environmentalists continued to argue that the Earth's surface and atmosphere have been hotting up since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Today the world's leading body of climate scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will release its fourth report outlining the scientific view. It will forecast global temperature rises by 2100 of between 2C and 4.5C and a rising of sea levels by 43cm and up to 80cm over the next 300 years.

Prime Minister John Howard has, of late, indicated that he is aware that climate change is becoming the big ticket item but now his government needs to be far more decisive. Despite the enormous effect former presidential candidate Al Gore has had globally with his film warning of the damage climate change has already done, George W. Bush is in no hurry to react in any positive way.

Australia has to cease being a follower of the United States on this particular issue. The US and Australia are the only two countries which failed to sign the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse emissions. It seems the cringe factor is still within us and we run the risk of being left behind if more affirmative action isn't taken.

Other northern hemisphere countries, particularly Germany, are racing ahead with their research and development of the technology to counter climate change, to cut emissions by industry and to search for effective and cheaper power sources. Wind farm technology is high on the agenda.

It's time for Australia to knuckle down and do the same. An entirely new economy is there for the taking if the required effort is put in. If not, the best we'll be able to do is import new systems and an opportunity to contribute significantly to emission reduction and at the same time be at the forefront of the new wav will be lost.

Council reaches 20pc greenpower commitment

Border Watch
Friday 2/2/2007 Page: 1

THE City of Mount Gambier is leading the fight against gas emissions by being one of 38 councils across the state to purchase greenpower. Council - which has a massive power bill each year - three months ago signed up to access 20pc of its energy use from greenpower sources.

"Council moved quickly to sign up to greenpower to show we are committed to renewable energy," council operational services director Daryl Sexton said.

He said the cost of greenpower - which was traditionally higher - would not be felt by ratepayers because council's contract was part of a statewide Local Government buying group which meant prices would be lower than last year. Mr Sexton said council had substantial power commitments, which included public lighting and powering its buildings, sporting grounds and aquatic centre.

"A lot of the electricity we use is used for public lighting," he said.

Accredited greenpower is generated by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, water or biomass - in SA it is mostly wind power. The South East is home to some of the largest operational wind farms in Australia near Millicent.

Grant District Council has also signed up recently to access renewable energy. Council development manager Rod Storan said yesterday council had committed to accessing five percent of its energy needs from greenpower. But he said this figure would be renewed at budget time.

Meanwhile, Local Government president John Rich said 38 councils out of 66 on the national electricity grid (excluding Coober Pedy and Roxby Downs) were now using renewable energy.

Cr Rich said the additional cost of greenpower had turned out to be lower than expected and was partly offset by overall savings in the bulk purchasing of power by councils. He said with the State Government's Contract Service and Local Government bodies, SA councils had saved about $1.3m a year on electricity costs since 2003. "This is about community leadership and recognising the importance of climate change issues," Cr Rich said.

He estimated that if all SA councils achieved the 20pc target, it would reduce greenhouse gas output by some 24,600 tonnes per year - the equivalent to taking 4900 cars off the road. "I would join the Premier's challenge to business and domestic users to make the same switch to help SA become a leader in renewable energy use," Cr Rich said.

Bush has to tackle global warming, now

Friday 2/2/2007 Page: 15

The US President is under increasing pressure from his supporters.

PRESIDENT Bush is playing catch-up. His warning in last week's State of the Union address about the "serious challenge of global climate change" and his commitment to cut domestic petrol consumption by 20 per cent during the next decade was an attempt to seize back the initiative in a public debate that was running away from him.

But he is falling short. Constituencies that are important to him are demanding tougher action. Unless he makes further substantial adjustments to policy, support for the Administration on this important issue is likely to fall. Leaders representing an unusual coalition of interests - the evangelical movement, big business, the national security establishment and environmental groups - have united in their call for the President to outline a more aggressive response to global warming.

With leading Republicans such as Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and presidential aspirant Senator John McCain also publicly promoting their green credentials at every opportunity, Bush has been left with little room for political manoeuvre.

Perhaps most interesting of all has been the environmental advocacy of the religious groups. With white evangelicals making up nearly a quarter of the American electorate, Bush's victory in 2004 depended heavily on winning their votes - 78 per cent voted for him, according to the National Election Pool exit poll.

However, last year, 85 evangelical leaders co-signed a statement that called for greater use of renewable energy and more stringent legislation to curb carbon dioxide emissions, including a market-based cap and trade program that the President is yet to support.

Citing both the social justice implications of global warming on the world's poor and mankind's God-given responsibility to exercise "proper" stewardship over the Earth, the Christian leaders are running radio and television campaigns in states with influential legislators. The combination of this targeted advertising and an extensive educational campaign among the various congregations is having a discernible impact on the Republican voting base.

Attitudes to global warming are also shifting within another important Republican constituency, big business. Earlier this month 10 major companies among them General Electric, DuPont, Alcoa, Caterpillar and Duke Energy joined leading non-government organisations under the banner of the US Climate Action Partnership.

In a joint letter to Bush, these captains of American industry called on "lawmakers to enact a policy framework for mandatory reductions of greenhouse gas emissions" and in so doing issued a direct challenge to the President's approach that supports only voluntary reductions.

What gave this corporate initiative added significance was that a number of the companies themselves are either energy producers, distributors or highend users. This meant their policy proposals could mean additional costs for them.

Overlaying the domestic debate on global warming has been another important issue, that of energy security. Cognisant of America's over-reliance on imported oil, distinguished members of the national security establishment are also pushing for an increase in the use of renewables and better vehicle fuel economy programs.

Figures such as former CIA director James Woolsey and Ronald Reagan's national security adviser, Robert McFarlane, have been calling for a one-third reduction in American oil consumption and a one-third reduction in carbon dioxide emissions over the next 25 years.

With imports already comprising nearly 60 per cent of US oil consumption, they believe that America is increasingly vulnerable to foreign interests who may be willing to deploy the oil weapon. Woolsey has teamed up with senior environmentalists, labour and industry representatives in a group called the Energy Future Coalition.

Bush now has an opportunity to lead his country and the world in tackling climate change. It is to be hoped that his recent comments are the start of an ambitious new agenda of initiatives that seek to reduce carbon dioxide emissions using new technologies and market-based mechanisms.

With advocates of more stringent measures already prominent among his voting base and within the business and national security communities, he will find many fellow travellers. Climate change is not and has never been a partisan issue. Indeed, one of the strongest and early advocates of preventive measures was Margaret Thatcher, a doyen of conservatism.

In a speech in 1990 to the World Climate Conference in Geneva, she said: "But the threat to our world comes not only from tyrants and their tanks. It can be more insidious though less visible. The danger of global warming is as yet unseen but real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices so that we do not live at the expense of future generations. We must remember our duty to Nature before it's too late. That duty is constant. It is never complete." As Bush puts together the final details of his climate change policy in this, the last years of his term, one hopes he heeds Thatcher's warning.

Joshua Frydenberg is a former senior adviser to John Howard and a director of a leading international investment bank. He recently participated in the Australia- America Leadership Dialogue in California.

Energy needs to be the next priority

Adelaide Advertiser
Friday 2/2/2007 Page: 20

LAST week the Prime Minister delivered a landmark address on Australia's rural water crisis. Imagine the word "water" replaced with "energy" throughout the speech and you would have a framework for a bold national approach to another challenge - climate change.

The use of energy, particularly burning coal in electricity generation, is Australia's biggest source of greenhouse pollution. Like the leaky channels along the Murray, every day Australia wastes vast amounts of energy (and money) unnecessarily.

Improving energy productivity in businesses and households could save between 10 and 30 per cent on energy costs and reduce our energy bill by $5-$15 billion. More efficient homes, appliances, offices and industries could, over the next 20 years, avoid using as much energy as would be contained in nearly 300 Happy Valley Reservoirs filled with oil.

Like the Prime Minister's water plan, climate policy requires sensible pricing and long-term incentives for investment in major infrastructure projects. The energy industry says cutting emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 would need clean energy investment costing $70-80 billion over the coming decades. With decisive, effective policy this is achievable.

By world standards, Australia has a weak clean energy program and even this has recently generated about $1 billion in investment in the renewable energy sector alone. Much of this has been in SA where wind power now accounts for about 15 per cent of the state's electricity supply.

However, while industry can pollute the atmosphere for free we will never see large-scale investments in clean energy. Only through effective price signals will governments reward businesses for switching to clean energy alternatives. Economic analysis has shown this action on climate change is affordable for the economy and households.

This brings us to putting aside parochial interests. Like water, climate does not respect state or even national borders. Climate change may halve Murray- Darling basin river flows within the lifetime of this generation. This will be driven by the actions of people, business and governments across Australia and indeed the world. Australia should join the Kyoto Protocol and drive the global clean energy boom.

South Australian Premier Mike Rann has played a significant role in getting the issue of climate change on the national agenda. With SA having so much to lose, Premier Rann now has a crucial role to play in encouraging the Australian Government to commit to a clean energy plan to ensure new electricity generation is from clean energy sources.

Australia has abundant clean energy resources and could be a world leader in tackling climate change but not without the Australian Government introducing strong climate change laws, ratifying the Kyoto Protocol and rewarding business for investment in clean energy technologies.

As the Prime Minister has said: "with the resilience, adaptability and boldness Australians have shown in the past" Australia can overcome the challenges it faces. A bold, ambitious climate change policy framework could start to switch Australia to clean energy today. The health and well being of current and future generations of Australians demands nothing less.

Erwin Jackson works as independent adviser to the Climate Institute Australia and business and research organisations.

Aviva goes green on carbon

Financial Standard
Monday 29/1/2007 Page: 6

Aviva is aiming to be the first insurer to carbon neutralise its operations on a worldwide basis.

Aviva's carbon output stems from business travel and its use of non-renewable sourced electricity and gas in its offices. Aviva aims to neutralise its global carbon output through investments in projects that generate carbon credits.

The carbon credits will come from a combination of investment in carbon mitigation methods, such as tree planting, and renewable energy generation projects like solar and wind power.

Aviva Australia will also continue its targeted community education program, including sustainable agreements with suppliers, public reporting through its annual Corporate Social Responsibility Report and public presentations and papers on sound sustainable practice.

Renewable energy expo at Jindabyne

Bega District News
Tuesday 30/1/2007 Page: 3

A GREAT deal of interest is being generated in climate change, and the need to respond. In SE NSW that interest needs to be turned into action. 2007 needs to be the year that we start making changes that reduce our carbon footprint.

With the Tathra Surf Club, we have seen how quickly renewable energy can be installed. The speed at which renewable energy can be set up is one of its biggest selling points. We need to move fast. In the words of Arnold Scharzenegger "the debate is over. We see the threat. And we know the time for action is now" Arnie is in charge of the eight biggest economy in the world.

When it comes to clean energy, what are the practical options for us in SE NSW? What is going to make a difference and how much is it going to cost? A renewable energy expo in Jindabyne will showcase what is on offer. People from the South Coast are invited.

The first Snowy Mountains Renewable Energy And Climate Change Expo will be held in Banjo Paterson Park, Jindabyne, on Sunday, February 11, from gam to 3pm and there is no entrance fee. The park will be filled with a diversity of displays and information stalls.

Go along and see electric cars and an electric scooter, displays of solar panels and wind turbines. Find out about renewable fuels or how much a solar hot water system will cost you.

Gather information on climate change and what you can do to help. Attend the presentation of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" or find out about sustainable building and much more. This expo is a must for everyone.

Matthew Nott on behalf of Friends of Renewable Energy

Energy giant head visiting

Hobart Mercury
Thursday 1/2/2007 Page: 10

THE president of China's largest power-generation corporation is leading a high-powered delegation to Tasmania from today. China Datang Corporation president Zhai Ruoyu and nine others will spend three days touring and discussing Tasmania's renewable energy assets.

Energy Minister David Llewellyn said the CDT delegation's visit represented a great opportunity for Tasmania. "To put how important this visit is into perspective. CDT has a total controlled installed capacity of more than 50,000MW, which is more than Australia's entire generating capacity," Mr Llewellyn said.

Mr Llewellyn said CDT was active in developing renewable energy and had set up aggressive targets. which could only benefit Tasmania's energy businesses. "Roaring 40s already has a joint-venture arrangement with the Datang Jilin Resourceful Power Generation Company, a subsidiary of CDT, to build the Shuangliao Wind Farm, in the Jilin Province," he said.

"The wind farm is currently nearing completion, with 54 turbines out of 58 in total having been commissioned." Mr Llewellyn said projects such as the Shuangliao wind farm could just be the tip of the iceberg for Tasmania's involvement in China. "For wind energy alone, the CDT has plans to build 1700MW in renewable energy assets by 2010," he said.

"The potential of Roaring 40s to expand current activities with CDT is excellent, with negotiations under way for further joint-venture wind energy developments in China." The group's tour includes meetings with Hydro Tasmania and Roaring 40s and visits to the Gordon power station and Woolnorth wind farm.

Climate a chance to profit

Bendigo Advertiser
Thursday 1/2/2007 Page: 5

Bendigo City and LaTrobe University Bendigo will team up to host a conference on renewable energy in regional Australia in Bendigo in September. Organisers are looking for key business and community speakers to join national and international experts to tease out ideas on developing a renewable energy industry outside Australia's capital cities.

The driving force behind the conference is Cr Keith Reynard, who said yesterday he hoped that the ideas discussed would be able to reduce country Victoria's reliance on greenhouse gas-emitting coal. "It's going to be a cocktail of different technologies that will replace the reliance on coal," he said.

Cr Reynard sounded a dire warning for those who doubted the veracity of climate change. "We can't afford to sit on our hands on this issue any longer," he said. "We are at the tipping point, where if we do delay taking action it's going to be too late. "We will experience climate change over the next 50 years that is a result of what we are doing now, which will have major implications for rural Australia." Cr Reynard said the drought was but one effect of climate change.

Professor John Martin, from the Centre for Sustainable Regional Communities at La Trobe University, said the conference was a chance for rural communities to take advantage of the economic opportunities of a renewable energy industry.

"From manufacturing solar panels to developing materials and refitting houses and so on, there is a major economic opportunity for regional Australia to find out how to do this," he said. "In crisis there is both threat and opportunity. "You can say the world is getting hotter and we will all be doomed. "But we are thinking that the glass is half full and this is a great opportunity.

Speakers already booked for the conference, from September 16 to 18, include Bendigo Bank chief executive Rob Hunt, and the chief executive of the federal agency responsible for renewable energy policy, David Rossiter.

`Emissions trade vital

Thursday 1/2/2007 Page: 6
Matthew Warren Environment writer

THE future of Australia's energy supply will be decided by an emissions trading scheme, not technical reports trying to forecast the future, according to the renewable energy industry.

The industry is incredulous at the release of a report by the Energy Supply Association, revealed in The Australian yesterday, which predicts clean coal, nuclear and gas will be the cheapest sources of low emission energy by 2030, ahead of renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

Auswind chief executive Dominique La Fontaine said the study was based on flawed estimates for wind energy, which were lower than those used in the report.

While welcoming debate about how to deliver the cheapest greenhouse gas cuts possible, Ms La Fontaine said this would ultimately be decided by an emissions trading scheme, which she said should be introduced as quickly as possible.

"There is a lot that is uncertain about all these technologies, but the wind industry has a technology that we know works and it's the fastest-growing technology around the world because it's the most cost-efficient," she said.

"Let's not lose sight of what is reality under our noses today." Business Council for Sustainable Energy chief Ric Brazzale said renewable energy, as well as clean coal and gas, would play a role in addressing climate change.

Change clouds the commercial front: It's not just politics

Thursday 1/2/2007 Page: 8
Rachel Kleinman talks to a scientist who's taking climate change to business.

IT WAS the late 1980s, and a young man from Manchester was working through the night, cocooned in a nuclear physics complex that straddled the French-Swiss border. Fresh from Liverpool University, Karl Mallon had accepted a scholarship at Geneva's prestigious European Centre for Nuclear Research and his career path seemed assured. That is, until he became increasingly unsettled by a nagging question.

Should nuclear physicists take any responsibility for the future use of the technology? Or was it OK to develop knowledge for knowledge's sake and not worry about the consequences? Unconvinced, he swapped nuclear physics for a Melbourne University Phd on fluid dynamic energy, including wind power. "I worked with utility companies on how to manage alternative energy sources - it was the early days of green power, if you like," Dr Mallon says.

Dr Mallon completed his doctorate in the run-up to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol - and his career has since fused with the climate debate. Last year, he and business partner Gareth Johnson set up Climate Risk, advising the commercial sector on risk management measures to minimise the economic impact of climate change.

"The focus up till now has been is it affordable to fix it?' Dr Mallon says. "But there has been very little information about the cost of not fixing the problem. That came as quite a shock (to me) but also a startling opportunity.

"That was the impetus behind starting Climate Risk - to build the bridge between climate change science and the economy or commercial sector." Insurance companies, which operate exclusively on risk factors, are already standing to attention, Dr Mallon says.

People are buying homes, making life-long decisions, on the assumption that the world will be the same in 10 or 20 years. But scientists working in climate change are fully comfortable with the knowledge that it won't be the same, so there is a disconnect between the two," he says.

"Imagine you are going off to buy a great house on the coast and the mortgage lender wants you to get insurance.

You say: `I can get insurance but it is not covered for flood.' And the bank says: No way, it is a coastal area, we won't lend on that property.' " British research shows property drops about 80 per cent of its value when it is uninsurable, Dr Mallon says. Somewhere, not too far down the track, people are going to start suing over such issues.

"It is like when there was eventually sufficient proof to say smoking kills you or asbestos causes cancer," he says. "We are now at that point where we can say `climate change is actually happening'. "The climate debate has been so political - all about left versus right or business versus greens.

"But climate impacts are completely apolitical. They are coming, they are here and they are going to get worse." Dr Mallon says business is quickly realising it must set the politics aside and get on with managing the risks or risk being sued by investors for not being on top of the issue.

"This is straight business. It is about investment, risk, liability and accountability." But Dr Mallon, an acute combination of businessman and scientist, wants to focus on the opportunities as well as the risks.

"For example, where will we build retirement homes?" He says Queensland might not be such an appealing retirement playground if temperatures rise. "Heatwaves are killers for elderly people," he explains.

"So do we expect that will be a great place to retire in the future? Probably not. South-east Victoria and Tasmania might be better." Climate change would affect every business from coal-fired power stations to soft drink manufacturers, he said. "It is as grand and as mundane as that."

Councils beat target

Adelaide Advertiser
Thursday 1/2/2007 Page: 1

MOST local councils have already reached a statewide target for renewable energy use years before a 2014 deadline set by the State Government only months ago. Thirty-eight of the 66 local councils connected to the national electricity grid are obtaining 20 per cent of their power from renewable energy.

Local Government Association acting executive director Chris Russell said yesterday the remaining councils were expected to reach the target in the next year.

In October last year, Premier Mike Rann challenged all South Australians to increase their use of renewable energy to 20 per cent of total electricity consumption by 2014. The Climate Change and Greenhouse Emissions Reduction Bill 2006 also set a target to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60 per cent by 2050. Before the challenge, some councils were considering using only about 5 per cent to 10 per cent of green electricity.

Mr Russell said the cost of using more expensive renewable energy was offset by improving and consolidating council contracts. "On balance, it means the total bill (to ratepayers) is the same," he said.

"The reality is the councils have taken the SA Strategic Plan seriously, and we've been doing a lot of work on assessing those targets and where the councils fit in." SA Federation of Residents and Ratepayers Association president Kevin Kaeding said ratepayers would probably be happy to pay a small amount to help the environment, if that was required. Council facilities are now powered by Origin Energy Green Power and AGL, sourced from renewable resources including wind, hydro generation, solar, landfill and biomass gases.

Premier Mike Rann said he was ''absolutely thrilled" at the move. "We as a state are leading the nation in the push for renewable energy, and soon we will be only the third jurisdiction in the world to enshrine in law our greenhouse gas reduction and renewable energy targets," he said.

"It's through the initiatives like this that we.. . can continue to lead the nation in tackling climate change." Mr Rann said the Government was also on track to meet its environmental targets, and was giving South Australians incentives to use renewable energy in their homes.

Opposition Leader Iain Evans said the target was "arbitrary", and there were no programs in place to support it. "The state Liberal Party were the first to set a target on the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gas of 60 per cent by 2050," he said.

"If you want to reduce greenhouse gas, you have to reduce energy consumption or use energy that doesn't produce greenhouse gases. "There are no penalties in this Bill, so it really is just a Bill that sets an arbitrary target." Renewable energy experts agreed that the target was still not enough.

Renewable Energy Generators chief executive Susan Jeanes said she only expected renewable energy to get to about 14 or 15 per cent of total electricity supply by 2014.

"It's a nice target, but there are no new incentives for any further large-scale renewable energy development," she said. Business SA chief executive officer Peter Vaughan said the business community was realising that "good environmental practice equates to good business practice".

Energy report off target on wind

Auswind Media Release,
Wednesday 31 January 2007:

The wind energy industry is warning that the findings of the latest report on Australia's energy future are based on flawed cost estimates. Auswind CEO, Dominique La Fontaine, said wind energy is supplying significant quantities of electricity right now at a reasonable cost, with prices expected to fall by up to 30% in the coming years.

The Energy Supply Association of Australia report concludes that renewable energy technologies will have only a minor part to play in Australia's energy mix by 2030 because they will be unable to compete on price, but the figures quoted for wind energy paint a misleading picture.

"The report puts the price of wind energy above $85 per megawatt-hour (MWh) in 2030, which is simply ridiculous," said Ms La Fontaine. "Right now wind energy often sells at less than $80/MWh, and with the effect of economies of scale and technological advances, that figure could easily be $50/MWh or less by 2030.

"The wind energy industry worldwide has grown at more than 25% each year for the last decade, and those increased volumes can only lead to lower prices in the years to come. "When it comes to outputs, the average wind turbine now produces 180 times the power that its equivalent of 20 years ago did, at half the cost per unit of electricity. It is crazy to believe that wind energy technology will not continue to improve, lowering costs even further," she said.

But even if Australia is largely dependent on coal and nuclear in 2030, as the report predicts, there is no mention of any moves to clean up the stationary energy sector in the short term.

"Both nuclear and so-called ‘clean coal' are at least 15 years away and their prices are uncertain, but wind energy is here and now, creating power with zero fuel costs and zero emissions," said Ms La Fontaine.

Auswind maintains that the market should be left to decide which technologies will best serve the nation's needs, and that can only happen through the use of a market mechanism which creates a level playing field.

Tuesday 30 January 2007

Energy idea rock solid

Bendigo Advertiser
Tuesday 30/1/2007 Page: 8

THE PUSH to convert to or invest in alternative energy sources has intensified within the past 12 months from all tiers of government.

However, it is a little too late to tell ex-engineer Manfred Pruter of the benefits. His Harcourt North property is energy efficient, water smart and eyecatching.

About 15 years ago, Mr Pruter and his wife, Nita, moved from Melbourne to their North Harcourt property, and embarked on a mission to make their house somewhat different.

Disconnected from the main grid, Manfred and Nita's power and water supply is generated from their own property. The Pruters have two wind turbines, a restored windmill and two large solar panels. When the amount of sunlight decreases, solar panels are not as effective.

With town water not on the agenda, the Pruters have restored a rock face to catch water.

"We were lucky enough to find a rock we could clean up," Mr Pruter said. "The water rolled down the hill, so I installed a small rim of concrete to prevent wastage. "It then falls into a pit, and then a tank." Cleaning the rock initially to ensure it was safe to use as drinking water involved a bobcat and a backhoe, and a lot of elbow grease.

The process was completed by using a high pressure water gun to remove stubborn dirt and earth. Recent rain was, like for many others in region, a godsend of sorts for the Pruters.

"The tank was overflowing," Mr Pruter said. "About 20 mm equates to about one square metre for us, so we had about 18000 mm - 180 cm. "When the water overflows, it goes straight to the ground or the plants, so it doesn't go to waste."

The Pruters also have a collection facility for rainwater from the roof of their home. For such occurrences, and especially for the cooler seasons of winter and spring, Manfred and Nita have 60,000 litres of water kept underground.

The underground storing method keeps the water warm and means that the Pruters are never short of a warm shower in winter. Manfred said that problems that have plagued Coliban reservoirs and catchments have not affected their water collection facilities.

"We have no absorption or evaporation," he said. The dry times mean that water consciousness is a compulsory thought process for all Victorians. Manfred believes that some of his ideas should be adopted into the wider community.

"Harcourt is rocky," he said.

Delay due to turbine shortage

Ballarat Courier
Tuesday 30/1/2007 Page: 7

A WORLDWIDE shortage of wind turbines is likely to hold up the start of construction on the Lexton wind farm. Plans for the farm were approved by Pyrenees Shire Council earlier this month but work is not expected to begin until next year.

Wind Power managing director Stephen Buckle said there was a shortage of wind turbines across the world.

"We need to figure out what turbines we can buy and when we can get them - that will determine the long-term timing of the project," he said. "There is a worldwide shortage of turbines. New factories are popping up all the time all over the place as people to try to keep up the supply but there is still a shortage.

The wait at the moment is between eight months and two years, so that's slightly frustrating from our point of view." Mr Buckle said the company was also still looking to finalise a buyer for the wind power.

He said extensive wind monitoring on the site would continue until work could begin and a buyer could be found. Mr Buckle praised Pyrenees Shire Council for its decision to approve the plan.

"I think it's been a good experience for everyone involved in that decision," he said. "They've done a great job in proactively encouraging the industry in windy areas." The 19-turbine wind farm, believed to cost about $28 million, will provide enough power to supply 16,000 homes and will displace 113,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas each year, the equivalent of taking 26,000 cars off the road.

Pyrenees Shire Council mayor Gabriel Horvat said the council was very supportive of renewable energy projects.

Monday 29 January 2007

Gathering cold, hard facts on wind

Warrnambool Standard
Saturday 27/1/2007 Page: 16

AS temperatures soar across Australia, spare a thought for former Corangamite Mayor Brendan Ryan who is working in the United States during a massive winter storm.

"I left 40 degree Celsius weather in Australia and came over here to minus 20 degrees - a 60 degree temperature change," Mr Ryan said yesterday.

"We have noticed being out in some of the worst weather that our eyelashes freeze, including hair inside our nostrils, and if we don't continuously blink that the tears in our eyes start to freeze, hurting them." "When the Danish complain of the cold, you know it is bad," Mr Ryan admitted.

The chilly conditions through central America have left at least 25 people dead, cancelled hundreds of flights and destroyed an estimated $600 million in citrus crops.

Mr Ryan is in the United States as part of a fact-finding mission in his role as an occupational health and safety manager for the Suzlon wind turbine company.

The 33-year-old, formerly from Camperdown, is now based in South Australia's Clare Valley where Suzlon is constructing 45 turbines at Hallett and 42 at Snowtown. "This is Suzlon's first project in Australia, but they have put up many of these type (S88 turbines) in the USA mid-west," Mr Ryan explained.

The three-man team also includes an Australian wind technician and a Danish installation manager. They inspected projects in Iowa before heading to Oklahoma. "Our job is to mainly document what may go wrong and if we can do it better," he said.

Bid to jolt wind project

Sunday Tasmanian
Sunday 28/1/2007 Page: 7

WIND power firm Roaring 40s wants a proposed Tasmanian project to be eligible for a Victorian renewable energy scheme. Roaring 40s, a joint venture between Hydro Tasmania and Hong Kong firm China Light and Power, has held discussions with the Victorian and Tasmanian governments.

It wants a windfarm planned for Musselroe Bay. in Tasmania's far North-East, to be eligible for the Victorian Renewable Energy Target scheme (VRET). The Musselroe Bay project has been on hold since 2004, when the Federal Government refused to expand its Mandatory Renewable Energy Target s (MRET).

In 2001. the Federal Government set targets for expanding renewable energy, which brought major growth in windfarms across the country. The MRET aims for renewable energy to account for 2.5 per cent of energy use by 2010 and has almost been met already, four years ahead of schedule.

The wind power industry hoped the Government would expand its targets to promote further growth in the face of global warming and international pressure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The Victorian and NSW governments have moved to introduce their own energy targets and schemes, to promote the expansion of renewable energy. The Victorian scheme only covers projects within its state borders.

Roaring 40s spokesman Josh Bradshaw said the Victorian scheme was similar to the MRET, requiring retailers to purchase a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources.

"Unfortunately, at this stage, VRET is only considering renewable energy projects within Victorian borders." he said. "However, the Tasmanian State Government and Roaring 40s have been in discussion with the Victorian Government regarding the potential for the scheme to expand its borders whereby a project like Musselroe may be considered eligible.

"At this stage, nothing has been agreed but discussions are continuing." Mr Bradshaw said the Musselroe Bay project was approved. "It's an excellent wind resource location and has the support of the local community and the State Government," he said.

"Unfortunately, with the Federal Government's MRET almost fully subscribed, the ability to secure a long-terns contract for the project is challenging." Mr Bradshaw said the NSW Government indicated that, if re-elected this year, it would implement a state-based renewable energy measure similar to the MRET.

He said the NSW scheme would allow liable retailers to expunge their obligations through renewable energy projects outside NSW. "If this became the case, then Musselroe would be in a strong position to become eligible under such a scheme." He said.

Wind farm information centre opens

Warrnambool Standard
Monday 29/1/2007 Page: 8

FEATURES of the Cape Bridgewater wind farm can now be accessed through Pacific Hydro's information centre in Portland. Construction of the second stage of the Portland Wind Energy Project is well under way and the company has opened an office to help people understand the major development.

"This is a great opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions about the construction process," Pacific Hydro chief executive Rob Grant said. The centre will be open five days a week.

Cloudy future for solar innovators

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 29/1/2007 Page: 11

On Thursday, David Mills will board an airliner and fly to the United States to help build something that will exploit the clean and limitless energy source - solar power - that can replace our addiction to energy heroin, which is what oil and coal have become.

What is disturbing about this Australian success story is that Mills and his company, Solar Heat and Power Pty Ltd, are moving to America, where one US investor has just put $42 million into the company. "We are relocating the headquarters of our company in the USA," Mills told me.

"We will be a global company and are planning a number of large solar plants overseas. Some of the largest investors and power companies in the USA have realised that solar thermal power is a probable replacement for coal, nuclear and oil. They believe this will be very big business and power companies are willing to provide the large amount of initial equity to get the industry moving." His departure is the latest variation on a depressing local theme. "No one here is listening to him," Michael Mobbs told me. Mobbs is an environmental lawyer best known for building the most sustainable, energy-efficient urban home in Australia, his famous "Chippendale house".

Given Australia is the No. 1 nation in the world in terms of available land and available hours of sunlight to develop solar energy, given Australia once led the world in solar energy research, given our appalling level of greenhouse emissions, and given one of the most advanced companies in the field of solar thermal energy is Australian, you might think this would be the place to build an industrial-scale solar power plant. But no.

`Australian business does not offer the risk equity we need, especially under the current climate in which the Government clearly favours existing coal and nuclear options based around mineral resources," Mills told me.

"The Australian Federal Government refuses to put in place strict emissions targets, strict legislation to enforce those targets, and reliable long-term market valuations for carbon emissions avoided. We can find all of those things overseas." Don't be lulled by last week's announcement by the Prime Minister, John Howard, of the Federal Government's $10 billion, 10-year plan to attack Australia's water and soil degradation.

Howard has been in office for 11 years and his response to the greatest environmental threat in Australia's history has been, and remains, incremental, piecemeal, reactive and belated.

Even the Texas oil man and environmental reactionary, President George Bush, has come round to the importance of energy security and renewable energy. In his 2007 State of the Union address before both houses of Congress last week, he said: "For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable.. . We must continue changing the way America generates electric power, by even greater use of clean coal technology, solar and wind energy, and clean, safe nuclear power.. .

"Let us.. . reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 per cent in the next 10 years. When we do that, we will have cut our total imports by the equivalent of three-quarters of all the oil we now import from the Middle East.

To reach this goal, we must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory fuels standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 - and that is nearly five times the current target." Surely this is a straw in the wind.

Another straw in the wind last week was the honouring of Tim Flannery as 2007 Australian of the Year, the person who has done more than anyone to mobilise and develop public opinion on the dire fate the Australian environment faces. Since Flannery's book, The Future Eaters, first published in 1994, sounded the warning, climate change and global warming have mobilised opinion across the political spectrum.

For example, I first encountered David Mills at an energy symposium at Sydney Town Hall last year. It was organised by Michael Mobbs, hosted by the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, chaired by Alan Jones, addressed by Malcolm Turnbull, and Mills delivered the dinner address. An eclectic crew.

Mills explained that solar thermal power was very different from the solar panels we are familiar with, which use solar photovoltaic power but which "are far too expensive for large-scale use". Good for the home, but not for the main electricity grid. In contrast, solar thermal power creates steam, the engine of all power stations. While the retail price and initial plant construction costs of solar thermal energy are higher, once carbon emissions and energy inputs are accounted for, solar thermal power is cheaper and, obviously, incomparably cleaner over the long term.

As for supposedly clean nuclear power, once carbon emissions, longterm operational costs, and the removal and storage of radioactive waste are factored in, solar thermal power is far cheaper and cleaner. Yet the only politician championing Mills's technology is the Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney, Chris Harris, a member of the Greens.

"The lack of discussion in Australia about solar thermal power reminds me of the same lack of interest shown by the media, by experts and politicians 15 years ago when I was the consultant to the parliamentary inquiry into Sydney Water," Mobbs told me. "Most of them said we couldn't use rainwater in Sydney and we couldn't reuse sewage. So I built my house to show we can." We don't have another 15 years.

The metaphor for Australian policy is the imminent departure of Mills and Solar Heat and Power, having developed their technology at a plant in Singleton, in the Hunter Valley, the heart of big coal, with all its political connections and Labor Party strings.

Border talk on energy

Herald Sun
Monday 29/1/2007 Page: 12

THE Victorian Government is in secret talks with New South Wales to extend its compulsory clean energy scheme beyond state boundaries. The Government confirmed yesterday it was negotiating with NSW for the two states to buy and sell renewable power to help meet mandatory targets for clean energy use.

But it has denied it is in talks with the Tasmanian Government for a similar deal, despite claims from a Tasmanian wind farm proponent that trade talks are under way. Government spokeswoman Stacy Hume confirmed the discussions with NSW were to negotiate "a scheme with reciprocal rights between the particular states".

It's the first sign the Victorian Government planned to push its compulsory green energy scheme, known as the Victorian Renewable Energy Targets, beyond state boundaries. The scheme is based on laws requiring 10 per cent of all electricity sold in Victoria by 2010 to have come from a renewable energy supply such as wind or solar power.

The laws, designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by forcing retailers to buy clean energy, were introduced last year and applied to Victorian-based energy producers only. But NSW allows its energy retailers to buy clean energy from any power generators in Australia that sell into the national electricity market, or grid.

Australian Wind Energy Association CEO Dominique La Fontaine believed an expansion beyond the state's boundaries would encourage the industry. "If we are able to establish a Victoria, NSW and Tasmanian energy target scheme that would be of benefit to the industry," Ms La Fontaine said.

Victorian laws require that electricity retailers buy 10 per cent of their power from renewable energy generators by 2010. By comparison, the Federal Government's scheme is only for 2.5 per cent by 2010, and most retailers have already reached their targets so there is no incentive for clean energy.

NSW has the nation's most ambitions renewable energy targets. Its 10 per cent goal by 2010 has risen to 15 per cent by 2020.

Liberal Leader Ted Baillieu, opposed to the Victorian scheme, said he remained sceptical about its effectiveness. Mr Baillieu said the way to cut greenhouse emissions was to tackle polluting industry such as the coal-fired power stations in the Latrobe Valley.

Coast water plant boost

Geelong Advertiser
Monday 29/1/2007 Page: 7

Geelong's water woes are set to be solved forever with a desalination plant an the ocean coast.

State Water Minister John Thwaites said earlier this month that a $1 billion desalination plant was inevitable to boost Melbourne's shortage of water:, But Mr Thwaites virtually ruled out building such a plant in Port Phillip or Western Port bays, leaving open an ocean site either to the east or west of The Heads. Any site to the west of The Heads would see desalinated water pumped to Melbourne via Geelong.

Barwon Water said last week it supported a state government feasibility study into a desalination plant, and was doing its own work on what it described as a long term source of water for Geelong.

Geelong's surface water supplies have fallen to about 20 per cent full, and Barwon Water is increasingly relying on groundwater to augment supplies. But groundwater is also limited, - with Barwon Water's licence only allowing it to take 80,000 million litres over a 10-year period.

Barwon Water chief executive Dennis Brockenshire said the use of desalination would depend on its economic and environmental sustainability. The one drawback of a desalination plant, apart from the fact that it costs twice as much as surface storages to produce a litre of water, is the power needed, and the resultant effects on greenhouse emissions.

The West Australian Government recently commissioned a $378 million desalination plant at Kwinana which will supply Perth with 17 per cent of its water needs. To produce 45 billion litres of water the Kwinana plants requires 24 million watts of electricity - the amount needed to power 30,000 households.

The West Australian plant draws on the state's power grid for its energy requirement, but the state's water authority has argued that a new windfarm 200 kilometres away puts enough power into the grid to power the desalination plant.

There is one wind turbine on the Bellarine Peninsula near Barwon Water's Black Rock treatment plant. The Kwinana desalination plant would require 35 wind turbines to power it.

Mr Brockenshire said desalination was a technically proven and increasingly attractive strategy worldwide to extend urban water supply. Most desalination plants installed in Australia use reverse-osmosis, where energy drives water mechanically through a membrane filter.

Mr Brockenshire said the suitability of desalination will be evaluated on a sound business case, including capital and ongoing operational costs, environmental and social impacts, and comparison to other new water supply options.

"In order to be cost effective desalination plants need to be in close proximity to existing water distribution infrastructure," he said. "Perth's Kwinana desalination plant became operational in November, 2006, and is now Perth's largest, single source of water, supplying 17 per cent of the city's needs."

Acquasol engages support from Origin Energy

Port Augusta Transcontinental
Wednesday 24/1/2007 Page: 5

Acquasol has engaged the support of Origin Energy and Cheetham Salt Limited as strategic partners to help construct a $330 million solar powered desalination plant near Port Augusta. Renowned climatologist and 2006 Adelaide Thinker in Residence Stephen Schneider has also been appointed by the company as the non-executive director.

Port Augusta city manager John Stephens said these developments showed that Acquasol is presenting a convincing solution to climate change and providing alternate energy and water sources. Mr Stephens said that now, more than ever, with strict water restrictions in place and drastic measures such as closing off wetlands along the River Murray being considered, governments needed to be liberal thinking and look at alternative and sustainable ways of water and energy production.

"As a council we are doing what is within our capabilities to make Port Augusta a 'green city'," he said. "We have installed our own waste water recycling plant which waters many of our parks and gardens and have approved the development of a wind farm within our council area as well as lending our strong support to Acquasol for a project that makes a lot of good sense."

Acquasol plans to list on the stock exchange later this year to raise capital funds for the project which, once operation is expected to produce 50MW of concentrating solar power and up to 5.5 gigalitres per year of desalinated water. Salt from the brine by-product will be commercially harvested by Cheetham Salt.

Powered by wind

Northern Argus
Wednesday 24/1/2007 Page: 6

ElectraNet has been awarded the contract to connect South Australia's latest wind farm to the State's electricity network.

As part of Stage 1 of the new 88 megawatt TrustPower wind farm at Snowtown, ElectraNet is to construct and operate a new 132,000 volt substation and a 2.5km transmission line extending from the wind farm to the existing 132,000 Volt Bungama-Hummocks transmission line. The wind farm will produce sufficient electricity to power approximately 60,000 South Australian households.

Energy answer is blowing in the wind

Bay Post
Wednesday 24/1/2007 Page: 17
By Narelle Ryan

ALTHOUGH Prime Minister John Howard bravely announced he would have no objection to having a nuclear power station built next to his home in Sydney, he is in luck - there is not enough space next to Kirribilli House to build one of his planned 25 nuclear power stations or nuclear waste dumps.

So shires around the country will have to start lobbying the government for one - or lobbying the government not to have one in their area. Which streets in the Eurobodalla Shire would work best I wonder? My neighbours near Moruya Hospital have decided they definitely do not want a nuclear reactor anywhere near here, so you can take Moruya out of the equation!

I had coffee with Dr Helen Caldicott recently when she was enjoying a well earned rest on the South Coast from her work as president of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute based in Washington, DC.

The Smithsonian Institute has named Australian-born Dr Caldicott as one of the most influential women of the 20th century. She has inspired many people including actress Meryl Streep, who said: "Helen Caldicott has been my inspiration to speak out".

On the cover of her latest book, Nuclear power is not the answer to global warming or anything else, actor Martin Sheen says: "In a world where dark and dangerous forces are threatening our planet, Helen Caldicott shines a powerful light".

Dr Caldicott would like each of you to think long and hard on the following:
  • Australia produces 40 per cent of the world's uranium.
  • When our uranium is fissioned in a nuclear power plant, radioactive toxins are produced which enter and remain in the food chain for hundreds of thousands of years.
  • The nuclear industry spends millions of dollars annually in advertisements trying to establish that nuclear energy is cleaner, greener and cheaper than other forms of electricity production but, in reality, it is none of these things.
  • Fossil fuels are needed to mine the uranium, to create the concrete and steel for the reactors, to transport the waste through many towns and cities over long periods of time and to prepare adequate waste storage facilities.
  • Nuclear power plants are vulnerable to many events that could lead to meltdowns including human and mechanical errors, ageing reactors, tsunamis, earthquakes and terrorist attacks.
  • Nuclear waste sites will need to be supervised and guarded for periods of time beyond our comprehension - 240,000 years.
The good news is that there is no need to build new nuclear power plants to provide for the energy needs for our future. Indeed it would be possible, using other forms of electricity generation, to close down most of the existing nuclear reactors within a decade. There is enough wind between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River alone to supply three times the amount of electricity that America needs.

Closer to home we can tap into the safe, renewable energy sources of wind power and solar power. Wind power is cheap, fast to produce and attractive to farmers and rural communities.

"There is scope for Australia to lead the world in renewable energy developments," Dr Caldicott said. "The time is urgent and the time is now as global warming is upon us. The technology is available and cheap.

"For a country awash in sunlight, it should not seem a stretch for Australians to take the initiative to develop and install a massive solar-generating electricity network that will not only supply our country with most of its electricity needs, but will create employment opportunities while providing an export market to energy-hungry countries to our immediate north such as Indonesia, India and China."

In the last paragraph of Dr Caldicott's must-read book she says: "We live in an exciting time full of promise. All we need to do is to make personal and political commitments to save the earth from the ravages of global warming."

California dreaming to stop a nightmare

Sydney Morning Herald
Friday 26/1/2007 Page: 26

Climate change is the next big market opportunity and our best and brightest are being lured overseas as a result. Anne Davies reports.

Dr Tony Haymet was the chief of marine and atmospheric science at CSIRO until September when he received an offer to head San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, one of America's foremost research institutes. For Haymet it was a wrench. He loves his cricket, his footy and he is proud of CSIRO, which he says does "amazing things" given its budget.

But the Scripps board played to his weakness: he could be a scientist making a difference to policy in a state which is leading the way for the United States on climate change.

It was a Scripps scientist, Charles David Keeling, who had the foresight in the 1960s to begin measuring the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere 3.2 kilometres above sea level, at the observatory on the peak of Mauna Loa in Hawaii. The data Keeling collected over the next four decades led to the disturbing graphs that feature in Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth, and tipped the scales of public opinion on global warming in Australia and the US.

Scripps scientists have been involved in the preparation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. It is the next big scientific signpost on global warming. The executive summary will be released in Paris next Friday, and according to The New York Tines, will contain "compelling evidence" of global warming, and that it is happening faster than anticipated.

Climate science is one where Australian scientists had established a big reputation. But in the past few years, the attitude of the Australian Government towards global warming and its refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol has changed the way people think about Australians in the field, says Haymet.

"Scientists are social animals, so they tend to generalise about scientists from particular countries, just as we did about scientists from the former Soviet Union," he says. "Those of us who inherited this idea of Australia as a team player in the world have had to adjust over the last couple of years. We are no longer perceived as being supporters of the UN or the world scientific enterprise.

To meet someone for the first time and have them badmouth Australia, whether justified or not, is not easy." At CSIRO Haymet was responsible for reviewing the organisation's guidelines on scientists speaking out publicly, after several scientists said they had been gagged by the Government from speaking out about global warming issues.

As the director of Scripps, Haymet has found himself at the forefront of climate change research, and at the forefront of a political debate that is being fostered by government, not stifled. The Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is leading the world on climate-change reforms. "In my experience, it is unprecedented," Haymet says.

In 2005 the Republican governor, better known for his Hollywood role as the Terminator, signed an executive order establishing climate-change emission reduction targets for his state, declaring "the debate is over. We know the science. We see the threat. And we know the time for action is now." Since then, California, which would be the eighth-biggest economy in the world if it was a separate country, has been going it alone on climate change. "He's made it respectable to be a Republican and talk about climate change," says Haymet. "The members of Governor Schwarzenegger's cabinet are from all quarters of politics. I really have the sense we can do something here, that we can take Scripps science and bring it right up to the policy makers and convince them to make some profound changes." Schwarzenegger has convinced the California business community about the economic benefits of responding to climate change, rather than putting it off.

That was on display when prominent members of the Californian power, oil and gas industry, as well as Haymet, addressed the inaugural Australian-American Leadership Dialogue meetings on the West Coast earlier this month. The privately funded diplomatic exercise, led by a Melbourne businessman, Phil Scanlan, had made innovation and global warming two of its themes.

Repeatedly the Australian delegates were bowled over to hear business figures talk, not of opposing carbon limits, but of the opportunities the new carbon-constrained world would present. That means being first with the ideas, the innovations and the science - in renewables, in cleaner engines and in myriad smart technologies.

California is in the throes of implementing a comprehensive plan to meet those targets which commit the state to reducing its emissions to 2000 levels by 2010. By 2020 it plans to cut emissions to 1990 levels and by 2050 it plans to be 80 per cent below those levels.

Unlike NSW, which describes its 2050 target of a 60 per cent cut as "aspirational", Schwarzenegger seems deadly serious about achieving his. This week, the state's regulator's began public hearings on its plans to meet the targets.

There are recommendations from the Governor's Climate Action Team - in sufficient detail that it's possible to envisage how the targets might be met and who's responsible for implementing them. For example, the Air Resources Board will be expected to implement new vehicle climate-change standards which by 2020 are predicted to save 30 million metric tonnes of CO2 a year.

The Department of Forestry is expected to contribute savings equivalents of 12.5 million tonnes by reforestation projects. Efficiency programs at the municipal level are expected to save 5.9 million tonnes by 2020, and biofuels are expected to save 3.2 million tonnes. There are even recommendations about how much CO2 can be saved through farmers changing the way they handle their waste. "California has depoliticised the issue," says Haymet.

"The fatal mistake of the science community 15 or 20 years ago was we got wedged. We got drawn into a debate that was highly political and almost religious, and we weren't skilful enough to navigate our way to a place where we could patiently answer the questions on whether this effect was real. We got diverted and maybe we lost a decade in terms of response." Haymet contrasts this to the Montreal protocol on CFCs which was negotiated at the height of the Cold War and has largely stopped the production and emission of ozone-depleting CFCs.

It can be done on CO2, says Haymet. "I think we have five years to really make a plan globally and act locally," he says. "In Australia we can start thinking about our next generation of power stations, we can start thinking about our transportation needs.

"One unique thing about Australia is that the fraction of our energy used in transportation is much larger than other countries - we have special needs and we need to think through those ourselves and find our own solutions.

"I think there is an economic case that Australia should invest more in solar energy.

I have a hunch there will be some very successful solar technologies." Haymet also argues that it is a matter of doing everything. That might mean nuclear power, wind power, geothermal power, hydrogen and other renewables. " In the context of global warming, every 3 per cent counts," he says.

Greenhouse targets:
  • Cut emissions to 2000 levels by 2010
  • Cut emissions by 25 per cent by 2020
  • Cut emissions to 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050
  • State-based emissions trading scheme being set up by 2012
  • Interim measure to require new power plants and electricity supply contracts to meet a performance standard for greenhouse gas emissions. Will prevent the importation of electricity from old coalfired power stations interstate
  • World's toughest vehicle emissions standards being introduced in 2009 and fully implemented by 2016
  • Oil companies will be required to produce cleaner fuels
  • Companies must report all emissions by the end of this year
  • Reduction targets for all levels of government will be set as part of the plan
  • Funding for innovation in renewable technologies. Could come from philanthropic funds, from a charge on transportation and from power charges.
  • California's universities to work with private sector on new technologies
  • Other early steps include increasing recycling mandates, lowering methane emissions from landfills and requiring appliances to emit fewer hydrofluorocarbons