Friday 23 February 2007

Turbines approved

Goulburn Town & Country
Monday 19/2/2007 Page: 14

CONSTRUCTION will start on a wind farm at Taralga early next year after the Land and Environment Court ruled that the $185 million project could proceed. Judge Preston last week upheld Minister for Planning Frank Sartor's January 2006 decision to approve what was then going to be a 54-turbine farm.

Locals concerned about impacts on noise, visual amenity and impact on flora and fauna appealed against the decision last year.

But in upholding Minister Sartor's decision, Judge Preston upped the number of turbines to 62, not 69 as otherwise stated. He ruled in favour of the development, claiming that the broader public good of increasing the supply of renewable energy would prevail over the "geographically narrower concerns of the Taralga Landscape Guardians".

"It is a widely recognised fact that the state of the global environment is in rapid decline, requiring an urgent response if the current quality of life enjoyed by Australians is to continue," he said.

Taralga Landscape Guardians spokesperson Martha Grahame said the group would continue to oppose the development by monitoring the noise of wind turbines to ensure they complied with 35dba requirements. It's understood the Guardians spent $130,000 in legal fees fighting Mr Sartor's decision.

"We are very disappointed, particularly after reading Sartor's comments in yesterday's Herald where he said: (in upping the number of turbines from 54 to 62) "that may be a lesson to people that appeal against wind farms'," Ms Grahame said.

"Him saying that is unbelievable for us because all we were doing was exercising our democratic right to appeal a decision in the Land and Environment Court:' RES Southern Cross commercial director Colin Liebmann said the company would now quickly move to secure the supply of the turbines but expected long delivery times (up to 18-months) because countries like China and the USA were soaking up all of the turbines being built.

Wind farm generates more than power

Plains Producer
Wednesday 21/2/2007 Page: 9

A wind farm stretching 17 kilometres along the Barunga Range is expected to generate $1 million each year back into the Snowtown community, and the world's biggest crane on rubber wheels will be needed to help construct it.

Rodney Ahern, business development manager of TrustPower, who will build the wind farm, confirmed the community could expect huge benefits.

More than 120 people attended a public meeting at Snowtown last Thursday to discuss the development, where they were told the community could expect to benefit from an additional $1 million within the community through increased employment, accommodation, and fees paid to land owners.

The turbines will be built by Suzlon Energy Australia, and Suzlon project manager Peter Reed explained to those attending the meeting where the wind farm would be located, with turbines about 500 metres apart.

He detailed how the wind farm would be constructed, and said the world's biggest crane on rubber wheels would be needed to lift the 75 tonne generator nacelle into position. When complete, each turbine will weight 270 tonnes, with 44 metre long blades each weighing seven tonnes.

Mr Reed expects 30 to 50 per cent of the wind farm workforce to be local, and employment during construction would peak at 90 and average 70. Construction will require plant operators, fencing and stock grids, concrete workers, carpenters and steel fixers. Accommodation will be required for 30 to 40 workers. When construction is complete by September 2008, ongoing maintenance will require four to six specialist technicians.

Following the meeting, a number of locals registered for work or as an accommodation provider, and Mr Reed said Suzlon would be happy to arrange training for equipment operators who may be experienced but not have the right formal qualifications.

Snowtown Community Management chairman Paul McCormack said he was thrilled with the turnout at the meeting, and the interest shown in the project.

"There were a number of interested bodies there hoping to tap into some part of the project," Mr McCormack said. He sees accommodation opportunities as being a big advantage for the community during construction, with workers likely to stay at hotels, motels and private rental accommodation.

Mr McCormack joked the only disappointing thing about the project was the average age of workers at the company's Hallett wind farm was 42.

"How the heck am I going to get a football team if the average age is 42," he said. "I was hoping for a couple of big ruckmen." The meeting was attended by people from Snowtown, Lochiel, Redhill, Bute, Mundoora and Crystal Brook.

Climate is right for change

East Gippsland News
Wednesday 21/2/2007 Page: 8

The lights have finally become bright on the Issue of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change sceptics have become less vocal and it now seems that everyone from industry, to State and Federal political leaders have become advocates for greenhouse gas reduction and are seeking action to address the impact of global warming. Finally, it seems, we have a logical scapegoat for many of the failures of our societies.

Our society has become more demanding, consumptive and mobile and we have become almost totally insulated from the impact that almost every action we take has on the environment. We save costs on our house construction and lot size by reducing the roof area and eves. This causes most houses to get full sun on most walls in summer, in turn requiring a good air conditioner to keep them cool.

The ability to turn on a tap and drink makes water seem like an infinite resource. It disappears down the sink and is carted away and we don't see the impact. The push for cheaper produce and imported products drives agricultural production costs and prices down, which impacts financially on how farmers can manage the land.

It is not until the impact of our actions starts to directly cost us personally that we, as a society, start to consider the impact of our actions, for example fuel prices start to rise due to production shortages; water starts running out because we have not managed our usage or planned for dry periods; all of the air conditioners are turned on in Victoria at once plunging most of the state into darkness.

During these times, it's good to have someone else to blame. Opposition political parties blame governments, governments blame industry (or other governments). The reality is we are all to blame for our consumption and usage of power and water and our natural resources. We must get wiser.

Politics being politics, change is slow and has lagged behind public opinion. We still have two political parties in Victoria opposing wind farms and other renewable power. The Federal Government is still reluctant to implement a market mechanism to put a value on emissions when most of the industries impacted are calling for it.

The leaders and developers of Australians solar technology have gone overseas because of the lack of support. Geothermal, tidal and other alternative technology power industries have almost come to a halt through lack of support and the size and low cost of our coal and other fossil fuel industries.

In the meantime, it's up to individuals to do their bit. Educate our children so that future generations become wiser... and hope our governments will catch up.

Clean energy policy is today's problem

Auswind Media Release
Thursday 22 February 2007

The Australian wind energy industry today called on political leaders and policy makers to focus on the clean energy solutions for today - and not be distracted by hoped-for solutions, which can't be proved for decades.

Auswind CEO, Dominique La Fontaine, said that the National Generator Forum report attempts to analyse what might happen to several technologies that are not yet even a technical reality, let alone able to be costed. Sadly the report has chosen to largely ignore the commercial reality of mature clean energy technologies like wind energy which can make real reductions in Australia's emissions immediately.

"To assert that nuclear energy and CCS* coal will need lesser price signals than wind energy implies that these technologies will be cheaper than wind energy in 2020. "Ziggy Switkowski's own report quotes US studies where estimates for nuclear power range from A$75 - 105/MWh." The Zwitkowski report goes on to explain that if the challenges of construction of so called 'First of a Kind' nuclear plants can be overcome, then it's possible that these costs could reduce to A$40- however these "settled down costs are yet to be proven in practice"

"Modelling the costs and subsequent investment incentives for energy technologies that even the Government's own report cannot be definitive about is not a firm basis for clean energy policy deliberations.

"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 $65/MWh or less by 2020.

"The NGF report assumes a steep learning curve for 'clean' coal and 'safe' nuclear but it is unclear whether the fact that wind energy has been installed for over 20 years and continues to make efficiency savings from technology improvement has been accounted for. This is not to mention the cost savings from larger more efficient turbines that can be installed on existing sites to increase energy output. Again, this is not just a possibility, it is happening around the world today and the costs are known.

"While the report says that the "availability of certain technologies was limited by the location of resources... for example wind was limited on a regional basis to levels provided by the industry', this was not referenced and Auswind was not consulted about the report."

Australia's energy policy should be focused on what we know Australia can do today to begin real emission reduction from the stationary energy sector, using wind and other zero emission technologies that are currently available and have transparent costs. Industry should also be consulted closely, rather than relying on external consultants who are not expert in these areas.

"Government should not pick technology winners. The decision about the most cost efficient clean energy technology should be left to the market. Wind power and many other renewable energy sources are ready to compete against these other potential solutions on a level playing field.

"The Australian economy must begin a sensible transition to internationally acceptable emission levels. The implications of hoping for the deployment of energy technologies that are not proven in either a technological, commercial or regulatory sense, are serious indeed.

"The greater deployment of existing, proven, clean, zero emission technologies like wind should commence right now, using any one of, or a combination of the policy mechanisms that are well understood and can be costed using real data.

Auswind maintains that the market should be left to decide which zero emission 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.

"The NGF report does show that an emissions trading approach requires a significant carbon price to drive technology change. Internationally, the countries that have become involved in emissions trading have also implemented specific targets for renewably energy technologies because they acknowledge that it will be some time before the price of carbon alone will stimulate deployment of mature clean energy technologies like wind. Australia can't afford to wait for emissions trading to bring about cleaner generation in 2030."

*CCS - Carbon Capture and Storage

Thursday 22 February 2007

LifeSaving Energy

Bega District News
Tuesday 20/2/2007, Page: 7
By Matthew Nott

THE wind turbine and solar panels on the roof of the Tathra Surf Club are functioning well and there has been a lot of positive feedback. We are hoping to help the Pambula and Bermagui (once it has a clubhouse) surf clubs set up with renewable energy in the near future.

What this project has done is show people how easy it is to install renewable energy onto a rooftop. The technology is ready to go, and the equipment was installed quickly and easily. Wind and solar energy are no longer the domain of environmentalists, or "alternative lifestylers".

In fact, the phrase "alternative energy" no longer applies to wind and solar energy. We are talking about renewable energy, energy that never runs out, energy that does not emit carbon dioxide and therefore does not wreck the planet. Renewable energy can provide a baseload power source and employs more people than conventional fossil fuel power.

The concept that are economy cannot cope without the dollars of export coal must be balanced against the cost to our economy of climate change. The CSIRO predicts that it will be 10 years before we know whether or not clean coal technology will work and a further 10 years before that technology becomes freely available (if it works).

In the meantime, the world's biggest exporter of dirty coal (Australia) will continue to increase its exports. Australia is one of the engine rooms of climate change.

Where does "LifeSaving Energy" go from here? At this stage we have one surf club running on renewable energy, which leaves 304 to go. A fundraising event will be held in Jindabyne on February 24 to help raise money to get the Jindabyne Surf Club set up with renewable energy.

A human sign, reading "LifeSaving Energy", will be formed at the surf carnival being held that day and donations towards the renewable energy package will be sought.

A further human sign will be formed at South Broulee Beach on March 17 at noon again to say "LifeSaving Energy". This event will help raise money to get all four surf clubs in Eurobodalla set up with renewable energy. The LifeSaving Energy project has the full support of Surf Lifesaving NSW and we have had interest from several big Sydney surf clubs.

We have also had interest from fire and ambulance stations who want to get involved with LifeSaving Energy and more recently there has been growing interest from religious groups that want to get involved.

Could this be the start of something big? Stay tuned.

Leading the way - desalination in Perth

Engineers Australia
February, 2007 Page: 32

Climate independent water sources are starting to be introduced to secure public water supplies in Australia. One such facility recently coming on stream is the Perth Seawater Desalination Plant commissioned by the Water Corporation of Western Australia. Gold Coast City, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Gosford- Wyong are among other coastal Australian cities that are considering seawater desalination as an option.

In the face of the driest winter on record, the Perth Seawater Desalination Plant is on track to deliver 45GL/a of drinking water into the Perth Integrated Water Supply Scheme (IWSS).

The plant at Cockburn Sound could be regarded as a world-leading model for future sustainable seawater desalination plants. A six month commissioning program commenced in October, with first water entering into the system in November 2006. At a peak capacity of 144ML/d, the $387 million plant, including the integration works, will be the largest seawater desalination plant outside the Middle East, and Australia's first large scale desalination facility.

It will also hold the title of the largest desalination plant in the southern hemisphere and be the biggest single water source feeding into the IWSS. The plant will provide 17% of Perth's water supplies which is significant given the vast reduction in rainfall over the last 30 years particularly in the southwest of the state and the resultant decline in run-off to the dams supplying the IWSS.

The plant was built by Multiplex-Degremont Joint Venture, in alliance with the Water Corporation and will be operated for 25 years by Degremont in alliance with the Water Corporation. It incorporates two separate streams each capable of producing 72ML/d of drinking water via a two pass seawater reverse-osmosis system. At peak production, the environmentally friendly submerged seawater intake, in about 10m of water 200m offshore, will gravitate 364ML/d of seawater via screens to a wet well. From this point two streams of feed water are pumped through the pretreatment facility, incorporating multimedia pressure filters and cartridge filters, by means of variable speed drive feed pumps.

The seawater is then pressurised to between 6MPa and 6.4MPa via six high pressure pumps and passes through 12 first pass seawater reverse-osmosis membrane racks. The permeate from the first pass system is then pumped through six second pass brackish water reverse-osmosis racks to produce high quality permeate. For every 10L of incoming seawater, the plant will produce 4L of drinking water and 6L of brine discharge at slightly less than twice the salinity of seawater. This fresh water is then passed through a post-treatment system, adding minerals to condition the water prior to being forwarded to a 12ML drinking water tank from which it is pumped into the IWSS.

The seawater concentrate is discharged 470m offshore via a 160m long, 40-port diffuser to ensure comprehensive mixing within 50m of the diffuser. Extensive modelling and monitoring has and will occur to ensure that there are no adverse affects resulting from this discharge.

An associated package of works includes 26km of large diameter pipelines and a 250ML/d pump station to transport water to the distribution network. The plant will also be greenhouse neutral as its energy requirements will be met from an 82MW wind farm north of Perth, from which the Water Corporation will purchase the 185GWh/a required to operate the plant.

The Emu Downs wind farm, developed by Griffin Energy and Stanwell Corporation, is Western Australia's second biggest wind farm and is located 30km east of Cervantes. It consists of 48 wind turbines and is part of the state program to meet the 6% renewable energy target for WA'S main electricity grid by 2010.

Sourcing the energy from the wind farm will make the Perth Seawater Desalination Plant the world's largest desalination plant using renewable energy. The Water Corporation said that coupling this energy with the low specific energy consumption achieved from the plant's novel design, incorporating isobaric energy recovery devices supplied by ERI, ensures that the plant is environmentally friendly.

The 10 processes of desalination:
  1. Seawater intake - An 8m-diameter cylindrical structure positioned on the seabed 11m below sea level, 220m offshore in Cockburn Sound.
  2. Chemical dosing - The seawater is shock-dosed at the intake with: sodium hypochlorite, sodium metabisulphite, ferric chloride and sulphuric acid coagulant aid.
  3. Pretreatment - The pretreatment uses 24 horizontal pressure filters. Each filter has a surface area of 52m2 and has a nominal flow rate of 15ML/d.
  4. Reverse-osmosis - first pass - The reverse-osmosis system consists of two passes, which means that all or some of the desalinated product from the first pass is relayed to a second pass for further desalination to ensure that the desired drinking water quality is achieved. The average total dissolved salts (TDs) achieved from the first pass is less than 300mg/L.
  5. Reverse-osmosis - second pass - The average TDS achieved from the second pass is less than 40mg/L.
  6. Remineralisation and disinfection - A stabilisation dosing system is essentially a chemical mixing system for lime water and carbon dioxide. Lime dosing involves 6t/d of lime while about 2t/d of CO will be injected into the system.
  7. Drinking water storage and water pumping - The drinking water storage tank holds 12.5ML of water and the associated pumping station contains systems to transfer water 11km to Thomson Reservoir.
  8. Process wastewater treatment - The seawater desalination plant has several wastewater streams handled through processes and disposal means that are environmentally acceptable.
  9. Liquid wastewater disposal - The plant discharges to the ocean through an 1800mm pipeline extending 470m into Cockburn Sound. The final 160m of the pipeline incorporate 40 diffuser nozzles.
  10. Integrated water supply - The drinking water is transferred 11km to Thomson Reservoir through a 1200mm-diameter mild steel concrete-lined pipeline.

Wednesday 21 February 2007

Let's do it again

Summit Sun
Thursday 15/2/2007 Page: 7

"IT'S given me the inspiration to do it again next year," said Rashida Nuridin after a wet but successful Renewable Energy Expo last Sunday. The Expo was part of the Flowing Festival and drew a lot of attention from visitors, who despite the rain, were keen to find out more about renewable energy and climate change issues.

Phillip May and Sophia Moody of Solartec Electrical Services have made renewable energy their passion after living on solar for almost 10 years on a property at Bredbo. They supply, design, install, and maintain remote area power and grid connect power systems utilising solar and wind energy.

Ms Moody said that they had been pleasantly surprised by the numbers of people and level of interest particularly in view of the weather. Solartec's system costs from $10,990 and allows solar electricity to be fed back into the grid.

Stan Reimer, Southern Area Account Manager for Country Energy said that there had been a great deal of interest shown in the green energy packages which allow customers to specify that 100 percent, 50 percent or 10 percent of their energy requirements are bought from renewable sources. Costs vary from about $4.40 to $1.50 per week extra. Anyone interested can call 13 23 56 to sign up.

Although numbers weren't high for the Al Gore presenters' talks on climate change, there was a lot of interest. Member for Monaro, Steve Whan attended one of the sessions and said: "I don't need a lot of convincing; I've read a lot about this." The talks were given by Bruce Beatson, a farmer from East Gippsland and Trish Harrup, Director of the Conservation Council, South East Region and Canberra.

Ms Harrup said that there were three factors affecting climate change, the population explosion, which has taken earth from 250 million people 2000 years ago to 6.5 billion people today. Other factors, Ms Harrup said, were the scientific and technological revolution, which allowed us to do more damage to the planet and our way of thinking which confused many people over the seriousness of the problem.

New wind farm for region

Ararat Advertiser
Tuesday 20/2/2007 Page: 4

GLENTHOMPSON - A multimillion dollar wind farm is being planned for the Glenthompson area.

The proposed Oaklands Hill Wind Farm, three kilometres south of Glenthompson, will provide up to 60 jobs with millions of dollars of potential opportunities for local employment and industry during the 12-18 month design and construction phase. More than 40 wind towers will be erected in the project.

Private investment bank Investec Bank (Australia) Ltd and Windlab Systems Pty Ltd, set up by former CSIRO Wind Energy Research Unit staff, have joined forces to develop the wind farm.

Research undertaken by Windlab Systems has identified the Oaklands Hill Wind Farm site as one of the best locations for a wind farm in inland Victoria, registering wind speeds usually associated with coastal areas.

With a one-to-one consultation process with all neighbouring property holders and municipal representatives starting mid-February, Investec Bank and joint venture spokesman Mark Headland said Victoria's electricity generation was responsible for more than 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Victoria.

"This wind farm will be a clean, emissions free source of generation which will reduce Victoria's carbon dioxide emissions," he said. "So, while the people of Glenthompson will feel the immediate economic benefits, Oaklands Hill Wind Farm will ultimately benefit all Victorians.

"In addition, during construction of the wind farm we will make available $50,000 to be spent on local projects. At this time we will work with the Shire council to identify opportunities to use this money to benefit the Glenthompson community.

"Detailed studies into impact on flora and fauna, the landscape, visual impact and noise have been undertaken as a part of initial planning. Once these studies and the consultation process have been completed a development application will be lodged for consideration by the Minister for Planning. It is intended that on-site construction will start in 2008 with the aim of commissioning the wind farm by the first quarter of 2009.

A public open day for the project will be held at the Glenthompson War Memorial Hall between 10am and 4pm on Saturday, March 3.

For more information about the proposal visit

Carnarvon Solar given little credit

Northern Guardian
Wednesday 21/2/2007 Page: 3

THE Carnarvon Solar Farm cannot trade its carbon credits overseas because of the Federal Government policy on the Kyoto Protocol.

Federal Member Barry Haase, who represents the Gascoyne in the Australian Parliament, said profitable industries and making money were more important to people than the "hype" of climate change. "People are not as concerned with buzz-words like "global warming" and "climate change" as they are with making a quid," Mr Haase said.

It was hardly surprising the Carnarvon Solar Farm was the largest privately owned electricity generator of its type in Australia, he said. "This suggests that without government subsidies, solar farms, like wind farms, would not be profitable," Mr Haase said. "They are being subsidised with tax-payers' money." Carnarvon Solar Farm founding owner Lex Fullarton said the primary source of income for the solar power station was selling its electricity to Horizon Power.

He said if the Government ratified the Kyoto Protocol and put in place the enabling legislation, Australia's carbon credits could be sold offshore. "Australia essentially has a carbon trading system though the Office of Renewable Energy," he said. "But we can only trade these certificates within Australia." The Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act was introduced in 2000 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the Renewable Energy Act, operators of fossil fuel power stations of 100mW capacity or more were required to hand up Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) or face fines. Renewable energy power stations received RECs for the power they produced from the Office of Renewable Energy. Non-renewable, or fossil fuel energy producers bought their RECs from renewable energy producers.

The Carnarvon Solar Farm was banking on the price of RECs going up, Mr Fullarton said. "We are taking the risk that Australia will sign Kyoto, and we will be able to sell these certificates to Japan," he said.

Prime Minister John Howard said last week he would not ratify the Protocol because it would damage Australian industry. He was responding in Parliament to a question from Mr Haase on the effect ratifying Kyoto would have on the mining industry in his electorate of Kalgoorlie. "In responding to climate change, no rational government would enter into an arrangement that reduced the competitiveness of Australian industry," Mr Howard said.

Australia and the U.S. were the only two countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol but refused to ratify it. Australia and the U.S. were also the highest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases in the world.

Emission cuts yes, at a price

Canberra Times
Wednesday 21/2/2007 Page: 1

A national emissions trading scheme is the only way to make deep cuts in Australia's escalating greenhouse emissions, but electricity costs will rise substantially as a result, according to Australia's major power generators.

The National Generators Forum - the industry body representing Australia's 21 major power generators - says it supports emissions trading in preference to a carbon tax, but a carbon permit price of around $40 per tonne would be needed to halve Australia's greenhouse emissions by 2050.

In a report issued yesterday, it warns emission cuts will come at a price, with wholesale electricity prices rising by 100 per cent and retail prices by 40 per cent over the next 12 years to meet projected greenhouse reduction targets.

The $40 billion industry body also wants coal-fired electricity generators to be "compensated fairly'' for any impact government-imposed greenhouse polluter penalties would have on the value of their assets. But the Australian Conservation Foundation has described the suggestion as outrageous and unthinkable.

"We wouldn't think of compensating James Hardie or Big Tobacco for lost revenue as a result of changes in government policy decisions. We wouldn't contemplate it for one minute with industries like asbestos or tobacco, so why should we think any differently about a big greenhouse polluter like the coal industry," the organisation's climate change spokesman Tony Mohr said.

Carbon dioxide emissions from Australia's electricity generation sector are about 190 million tonnes per year and expected to exceed 400 million tonnes by 2050.

The report claims halving present greenhouse emissions from the industry by 2050 can only be achieved by closing or rebuilding most existing coalfired power stations. This would require $128 billion capital expenditure compared to $78 billion for "business as usual".

The report says a "poorly managed transition to a lower carbon future" would incur major costs and devaluation of assets and compensating businesses affected by loss of asset value resulting from policy change is a key issue for electricity generators.

"There must be recognition that Australia's electricity generation sector, in particular coal-fired generators, face an uncertain future as the drive for emission reduction escalates." Brown coal generators - like the Loy Yang power plant in Victoria's industrial La Trobe Valley - would be substantially affected by government policy mandating deep cuts in carbon emissions, with revenue per megawatt of installed capacity falling by 91 per cent. Black coal generator revenue was likely to fall by 20 per cent.

National Generators Forum executive director John Boshier said to preserve the confidence of investors and "stop them losing boatloads of money", generators should be allocated sufficient free carbon emission permits by the Federal Government to preserve the value of their assets and prevent them being stranded.

"If an emissions trading scheme is introduced and a brown coal power plant can't lower its emissions to the required level, it would be unable to operate... The business would be almost immediately bankrupted because of government policy." Mr Boshier said if an emissions trading scheme was imposed and the Federal Government earned money from it, it should be required to compensate owners of assets who were left "stranded". This was a fair exchange considering electricity generators had already invested more than $2 billion in research and development for low emissions technologies in Australia, he said.

The report says "two key base-load technologies" - nuclear and advanced coal with carbon capture and storage - are essential to achieve cuts.

Chief executive of Renewable Energy Generators Australia Susan Jeanes has called for nationally consistent market based policies to "deliver an incentive between the cost of providing electricity generated by burning coal and the cost of delivering emissions-free electricity." She said economic modelling showed the cost of generating electricity from geothermal energy would reduce from a $50 per megawatt to $30 in 2050, and the cost of wind energy would drop from $70 to $45 over the same period.

Green light for new wind farm

Ballarat Courier
Wednesday 21/2/2007 Page: 5

Hepburn Shire Mayor David Smith used his casting vote to give the green light to a wind farm at Leonards Hill.

At a council meeting at Drummond last night, Cr Janine Booth also voted in favour, while councillors Heather Mutimer and Bill McClenaghan both voted against the Hepburn Renewable Energy Association application. Cr Tim Hayes did not attend the public meeting, where a vote was also taken to stop a videographer from filming.

The wind farm proposal consists of two wind turbines, with an overall height of 109 metres, to be built on farmland at 2040 Ballan-Daylesford Rd, Leonards Hill about 10km south of Daylesford.

A council report said there had been 18 objections to the wind farm including noise pollution, visual impact, a reduction in land values, close proximity to David Smith houses, problems with shadow flicker and glint and possible effects on flora and fauna. However, the report said on balance it is considered the wind farm will contribute positively to the environment of Leonards Hill".

The community shall be provided with a sustainable and environmental friendly renewable energy source which will meet a large part of its needs for at least 25 years," the report said.

After the meeting, objectors said they would appeal the councils decision at VCAT where they were "hopeful their objections would be heard". Speaking against the application, Cr Mutimer told the meeting the steel and concrete structures would be as high as two 30-storey buildings and the proposal was based on inadequate and questionable studies.

Cr McClenaghan said he could not support "a project like this and sleep at night if it is going to destroy a community". The application was deficient in a range of data, including its indigenous survey and current background noise study, he said.

Speaking in favour of the application, Cr Booth said wind farms were an emotive issue, but she needed to balance residents concerns with "research, reports and evidence provided". Cr Smith said placing two turbines in each of the shires towns would make them self-sufficient for domestic needs.

Tuesday 20 February 2007

New energy is the answer

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 17/2/2007 Page: 54

RENEWABLE energy on a large scale has been rejected by critics who claim that it can never supply more than 10 per cent of Australia's power needs.

They insist renewable energy can never supply base load power. They also claim that it is too expensive. But these assumptions are being challenged by new ways of using renewable energy and the new economy of carbon trading.

Because we have some of the hottest and most suitable rock formations accessible in the Earth's crust, we are natural leaders in geothermal energy through companies such as Petratherm at Paralana and Geodynamics near Moomba.

Geothermal energy - drilling 4km-deep shafts and preparing the 200C hot rocks to be massive steam generators - has the potential to supply abundant baseload energy.

Like many new technologies, it takes a certain amount of bravura to be involved. But the rewards, both natural and economic, could be huge for SA.

The more immediate sources of renewable energy are solar and wind. Solar is criticised for being diurnal, but this does have some natural advantages. For example, solar panels can be set to match late afternoon air-conditioner use, when summer power demand peaks.

Wind is also regarded as intermittent. But wind power is available in such abundance that if required, it can be matched to jobs that don't need continuous power - such as pumping water or running a desalination plant.

But the more we think about it, the more subtle the ways have become. For example, solar concentrators in NSW work alongside a coal-burning power station to produce steam to top up its power generation.

There are myriad developments: clever ways of storing energy, passive designs that radically cut power use and a new generation of tide and wave power generators. The point is SA is ideally situated to lead the field in generating renewable energy, and how best to use it. Economic benefits can far outweigh the extra cost, if any, of renewable energy.

Wind farm `can turn the tide'

Adelaide Advertiser
Tuesday 20/2/2007 Page: 39

ONE of New Zealand's largest public companies has proposed building a wind farm powered desalination plant to help solve South Australia's water shortage.

Energy retailer and generator TrustPower's business development manager, Rodney Ahern, said the company was pursuing the potential of using its proposed Myponga wind farm to power a desalination plant.

Mr Ahern said the uses of a wind farm-powered desalination plant could include filling the Myponga and Mt Bold reservoirs, helping solve South Australia's water problems. The proposal is similar to the 80 megawatt Emu Downs wind farm in Western Australia, which powers the $387 million Kwinana desalination plant.

Mr Ahern outlined the proposal in Adelaide following his company receiving the go-ahead for its $200 million, 42-turbine wind farm on the Hummocks and Barunga Ranges, west of Snowtown in the Mid North. Work on the 88MW capacity wind farm, enough to power 60,000 average-sized houses, is due to start in April.

Mr Ahern said the 42 wind turbines would be progressively commissioned on about 12 farms between April and November, 2008. "It will provide a significant economic boost by injecting more than $1 million into the Snowtown region annually through maintenance and royalties to the landowners," he said.

Further stages in the proposed 130-turbine site would rely on demand and federal or state renewable-energy schemes to allow it to compete, he said. The Snowtown wind farm will take SA's wind farm capacity to 476MW of wind power. Mr Ahern said SA should be aiming for a renewable energy target of a minimum of 10 per cent of total power sales within eight years.

TrustPower is among NZ's top 10 publicly listed companies with a market capitalisation of more then $2.4 billion.

Wind farm boost

Hamilton Spectator
Thursday 15/2/2007 Page: 1

A HUGE $180 million wind farm has been proposed for Glenthompson giving the drought hit district a timely boost.

If the wind farm goes ahead - which is highly likely given the State Government's enthusiastic support generally for wind farms - it will easily be the second largest development in Southern Grampians shire, only behind the $270 million lluka development in Hamilton and Balmoral.

It would also be the first wind farm totally sited in the shire - currently there is a proposed small wind farm at Woodhouse but Southern Grampians and Moyne Shires share the planning responsibility.

The proponents of the wind farm, which is 3- 5kms south of Glenthompson, are Investec Bank (Australia) and Windlab Systems. They say it will `revitalise the district providing numerous jobs and a huge economic boost at a time when the area is being hit hard by ongoing drought'. Called Oaklands Hill wind farm, they claim it will provide up to 60 jobs - mostly local - during the 12-18 month design and construction phase.

State Government decision
The wind towers will generate about 80 Mw, so the decision on a planning permit will be made by the State Government rather than Southern Grampians shire. Two layouts are being considered - one with 42 turbines, the other with 43. It's intended to begin construction onsite in 2008 with the aim of commissioning the wind farm by the first quarter of 2009.

Detailed studies into the impact on flora and fauna, landscape, visual impact and noise have already been undertaken as part of initial planning. "Once these studies and the consultation process have been completed, a development application will be lodged with the Minister for Planning (Justin Madden)," Investec Bank and joint venture spokesman, Mark Headland, said. Mr Madden ruled last month that an environmental effects statement for the wind farm wasn't needed.

An open day explaining the project will be held in the Glenthompson Memorial Hall on Saturday, March 3, from 10am-4pm.

Windlab Systems was established by staff from the former CSIRO wind energy research unit.

High winds recorded
Their research identified the Oaklands Hill site as one of the best locations for a wind farm in inland Victoria, registering wind speeds usually associated with coastal areas. Investec Bank and Windlab Systems say the proposed wind farm will: cut carbon dioxide emissions by 364,000 tonnes a year; produce enough power to service 52,000 homes; and produce 280,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually. The slashing of carbon dioxide emissions would be the equivalent of taking 84,000 cars off the road annually or by locking up the carbon of 543,000 trees.

Mr Headland said the proponents would visit neighbouring property owners and shire representatives, starting mid- February, to discuss the wind farm. "Victoria's electricity generation is responsible for more than 50 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Victoria.

"This wind farm will be a clean, emissions-free source of generation which will reduce carbon dioxide emissions," he said. "So while the people of Glenthompson will feel the immediate economic benefits. Oaklands Hill wind farm will ultimately benefit all Victorians."

$50,000 donation
The partners have also said they will donate $50,000 to be spent on local projects.

"At this time (during construction) we will work with the shire council to identify opportunities to use this money to benefit the Glenthompson community," Mr Headland added. Southern Grampians Shire mayor, Cr Mick Leeming, said it was a tremendous development for Glenthompson.

"Probably the good part about it is that magnificent view of the Grampians will be preserved," Cr Leeming said. "I hadn't heard about the $50,000 donation - that will be fantastic for the Glenthompson community. They always have projects on the go so no doubt they will find a good use for that," Cr Leeming added.

It's proposed to connect the wind farm to the 66KV line from Hamilton to Terang, which is located about 17.5 kms south of the site. The project has already been referred to the previous Federal Environment Minister. Ian Campbell, who ruled the project didn't have an impact on matters of national environmental significance.

Bega Valley Shire Council goes green

Eurobodalla Shire Independent
Thursday 15/2/2007 Page: 4

Bega Valley Shire Council has been recognised as the first NSW local council to purchase renewable energy from Country Energy for 100 per cent of their sites, taking a strong lead in combating climate change.

Over the next five years, the council will power all 197 of their sites - including water and sewerage facilities, sporting grounds, buildings, swimming pool and streetlights - with renewable energy.

"There are all sorts of pressures in the community, and worldwide, to do something about global warming, so as a council we have committed to making improvements. We decided to take charge," Mayor Tony Allen said.

Prior to the new 'green deal', council consumed almost seven million kilowatt hours of energy each year, emitting more than 7000 tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. By purchasing renewable energy for 100 per cent of their sites, their operations will effectively be carbon neutral, having no impact on global warming.

Country Energy's regional general manager south eastern David Bellew congratulated council on leading the way in environmental conservation, and encouraged locals to follow council's lead by also purchasing renewable energy from Country Energy.

Council sets renewable energy benchmark

Eden Imlay Magnet
Thursday 15/2/2007 Page: 10

Bega Valley Shire Council was recognised yesterday as the first New South Wales local council to purchase renewable energy from Country Energy for 100 per cent of its sites.

Believed to be the first in the state to undertake such a substantial environmental commitment, the council will power all 197 of its sites - including water and sewerage facilities, sporting grounds, buildings, swimming pool and streetlights - with renewable energy over the next five years.

"There are all sorts of pressures in the community, and worldwide, to do something about global warming, so as a council we have committed to making improvements. We decided to take charge," Mayor Tony Allen said.

Country Energy's regional general manager south eastern David Bellew presented council with a plaque in recognition of their efforts to combat climate change. Country Energy and council have also formed an environmental partnership that includes energy audits of all major sites.

The aim is to identify opportunities to reduce energy consumption and ultimately reduce council's operating costs, benefiting ratepayers through financial and environmental savings.

Decisions for the broader public good

Goulburn Post
Friday 16/2/2007 Page: 8

WHILE debate still rages as to what - or who - is responsible for causing it, there's no denying that the climate is changing. Even locally, according to research findings in the recently released 2004 State of the Environment Report for ACT region, there is strong evidence the district is warming and drying up.

Again, whether this is due to human activity or not, is not particularly the point we're trying to make in this column. Our point here is that by not acknowledging these ever increasing erratic and extreme patterns of weather - as purported by an overwhelming stream of evidence - we are taking a great risk.

Goulburn Mulwaree Council last week accepted the State of the Environment Report's findings without question and has agreed to place even greater emphasis on addressing climate change in its planning policies.

Even the courts - supposedly the last bastion of truth and justice in our society - acknowledge the existence of climate change and its potential threat to humanity. In allowing the Taralga wind farm to go ahead, Judge Preston in the Land and Environment Court this week adjudicated that the broader public good of increasing the supply of renewable energy would prevail over the "geographically narrower concerns of the Taralga Landscape Guardians" "It is a widely recognised fact that the state of the global environment is in rapid decline, requiring an urgent response if the current quality of life enjoyed by Australians is to continue," he said.

His Honour has set an unequivocal precedent, which many - the vast majority of Australians, we would argue - would subscribe to.

Energy from the sea

Adelaide Review
Friday 16/2/2007 Page: 29

A company behind the eco-village is planning to harness the waves in SA.

The company co-developing the visionary Aldinga Arts EcoVillage is planning to bring leading-edge wave technology to South Australia. The technology makes use of ocean waves to generate electricity, which is then sent to the mainland. Eventually there could be a series of wave farms located five to 10 kilometres offshore from Adelaide, according to Andrew Dickson, development manager for Wind Prospect, which spawned Sustainable Property Developments, the company co-developing Aldinga Arts EcoVillage.

"We've been closely monitoring the technology, it's emerging technology," he says.

"Ultimately, we're renewable energy developers, in the same way that we've developed wind energy projects, we're interested in developing wave and tidal energy in SA. There is significant energy available in waves. There's a higher energy density available in waves than wind and it's more predictable and consistent.

"At the moment the technology is still very expensive but obviously these costs would fall as the technology is further developed and implemented." Wind Prospect has developed and got planning approval for eight wind farms in SA, four of which have gone to construction. That represents almost 300 megawatts of renewable energy, which supplies the national electricity grid.

He says wave technology is environmentally friendly, produces no emissions, doesn't kill birds and is not harmful to sea creatures. The farms would not necessarily be visible from shore: they would be made up of a series of pelamis. A pelami is like a giant metal snake, 120 metres long in four cylindrical sections, which is anchored. Waves make the snake pitch and yaw. This drives hydraulic rams, which in turn drive high-pressure hydraulic fluid through a generator. Electricity is fed to shore via a submarine cable.

Dickson says much of the technology is from the UK, particularly Scotland. He says the wave farms will be vital to maintaining power supply to South Australian homes via the national electricity grid. "The more you distribute the generation sources and have different technologies, the more robust the electricity grid can be," Dickson says.

Dickson's company and its various offshoots are dedicated to environmentally friendly solutions to living including housing and energy supply.

The first commercial wave farm in the world was installed last year near Povoa de Varzim off northern Portugal. The first stage, consisting of three pelamis, costs over $A13 million and supplies the power for 1500 households. Portugal has already put in a preliminary order for another 28 pelamis, to supply more than 15,000 households.

Aldinga Arts EcoVillage is 16 hectares of residential development, all of which is architecturally designed to be environmentally friendly. The entire village, including a community farm, covers 35 hectares.

Features such as solar hot water and rainwater tanks are mandated into the development, which reserves 44 per cent of land as open space. Smoking is banned on community land at the development; however, you can smoke on your own property.

Sustainable Property Developments joined Aldinga Arts EcoVillage as co-developer last year to develop the final stage - 25 water- and energy efficient terrace houses. The village is not sold out: there still are opportunities to buy blocks of land.

Wind farm shire's call

Warrnambool Standard
Saturday 17/2/2007 Page: 15

A DECISION on a $63 million wind farm three kilometres north of Purnim might be made before the same company hears from the State Government about plans for a 25-turbine farm in Woolsthorpe. Wind Farm Developments is planning to construct a 13 to 15-turbine farm across 800 hectares of cleared land west of Ballangeich.

The company's development manager Jonathan Upson yesterday said the plans for the Drysdale Wind Farm, named after the creek on the project's eastern boundary, would produce electricity for up to 17,000 households each year.

Power generated would be transferred into a 66,000-volt line which runs between the Koroit substation and the Terang terminal station.

Tower locations and pictures of the 90-metre towers on the landscape will be displayed at the Purnim Hall next month at a date to be announced. Mr Upson said the western side of the project had rises of up to 40 metres over a creek, which captured the southerly ocean breezes.

The company is also planning a wind farm for Woolsthorpe and expected plans for that project to go on display within weeks.

Mr Upton said Moyne Shire was the planning authority to consider the Drysdale project because it fell under the 30-megawatt capacity that required the planning minister's consent. He said it was possible the council would determine the future of the Drysdale farm before the planning minister made an announcement on the Woolsthorpe farm.

The company hopes work on the Woolsthorpe farm will begin in 2008.

Brazilian buy

Sydney Morning Herald
Saturday 17/2/2007 Page: 41

RENEWABLE energy group Pacific Hydro plans to invest more than $500 million in "the coming years" to build plants in Brazil after acquiring that country's wind energy company, SES.

Chief executive Rob Grant said the Melbourne wind energy and hydropower producer intended to develop more than 300 megawatts of clean energy generation projects in Brazil, which is targeting 10 per cent renewable energy use by 2020.

Pacific, bought for $788 million in July 2005 by pension funds manager Industry Funds Management, is spending about $1.5 billion on projects between 2005 and 2010 to double the value of the company and take advantage of increasing demand for nonpolluting forms of electricity generation.

"While the Brazilian market is currently hydro dominated, it has excellent wind resources," Mr Grant said. Pacific Hydro did not say how much it paid for SES, a unit of Germany's renergys GmbH.

More wind power

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 17/2/2007 Page: 85

STAMFORD, Connecticut: GE Energy Financial Services intends investing $A344 million in six wind farms - in California, Illinois, New Mexico and Pennsylvania - owned by affiliates of global investment and advisory firm Babcock and Brown. All the farms have either been completed or will be this year.

The announcement is the latest in a series of deals to expand GE's foothold in wind power. On Thursday it said it would sell wind farms in Germany for shares in Theolia, a French wind power generator.

Clean energy more than an impulse

Monday 19/2/2007, Page: 29

GERRY McGowan reckons he added to the hole in the ozone layer as he ran Impulse Airlines.

Now, as executive chairman of the ASX-listed renewable energy company CBD Energy, the former airline chief is doing his best to fix the problem. McGowan's company is working with Hydro Tasmania to develop a storage technology for its five wind turbines on remote King Island.

He is also teaming up with German-based solar energy company Solon AG, which is buying 20 per cent of CBD, to develop solar energy projects in Australia. "These sorts of businesses are important for the country," McGowan says. "We are developing intellectual property. We are trying to produce clean energy. Australia has huge natural resources in solar and wind and it is our responsibility to make the most of them." McGowan signed a five-year non-compete agreement with Qantas when he sold it Impulse Airlines in 2001.

He spent nine years building the airline and believes it could have been viable if some of his backers had been able to hang in for the long haul. But while he still keeps in touch with some people he used to know at Impulse (which turned into Jetstar), he has no more interest in going back into airlines.

His new passion is for renewable energy, which he sees as being on a roll around the world particularly in Europe and California with Australia finally starting to catch up. McGowan says his interest in renewable energy started when he bought a bee farm in the NSW Hunter Valley a few years ago.

He wanted to develop it as a sustainable farm with its own power. Approached by many different people after being bought out of Impulse, McGowan chose to invest $3.5 million in CBD Energy in 2004, attracted by its work in developing storage technology for renewable energy.

Storing the power from wind or solar energy beyond the immediate generation has always been one of the big problems with renewable energy. King Island gets a lot of its wind during the day but needs power at night.

CBD is trying to commercialise a carbon block technology developed by Lloyd Energy Systems, working with Hydro Tasmania to use wind power to replace about a third of the diesel fuel used for the island's power station. The process involves converting the wind power into steam at 800C and storing it in graphite blocks which can be used to run steam turbines later.

"The technology stores heat for long periods of time," says McGowan, who was with transporters TNT and Mayne Nickless before starting Impulse in 1992.

While the wind energy experiment at King Island power station gets under way, McGowan is pressing ahead with plans for the company's first solar power operation in the northern NSW town of Moree. Solon, spending $5 million for a 20 per cent stake in CBD, is keen to use its solar power technology in Australia. "We are actively looking for solar sites," McGowan says.

He says there are several potential sites for solar power in NSW, including Cobar and Dubbo. The company will complete a feasibility study within months on the best site and plans to finance its first solar power operation with a rights issue. McGowan says he is looking forward to working with regional communities again, in the same way he did with his airline business.

He says development of a strong renewable energy industry will depend on more proactive government policies. "In countries where renewable energy has progressed fairly aggressively there has been government incentivisation of the industry." He argues that the cost of coalfired power in Australia has been understated because there is no costing of the long-term environmental damage caused by greenhouse gases it produces.

McGowan says Australia should be leading the world in the development of solar energy technology. He is worried that Australian-based solar energy experts such as Canadian-born David Mills are leaving the country attracted by better opportunities. Mills is going to California where Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has launched a $4 billion initiative providing generous incentives for people to install solar panels in their homes.

"It's tragic for the country," McGowan says. "I have always admired the Americans' ability to create their own industries. "They are leading the world in an area where we should be leading because we have so much natural resources here such as renewable energy." McGowan's last appearance in the headlines was when he gave evidence against the late stockbroker Rene Rivkin, who was accused of insider trading in Qantas shares.

Wanting to buy Rivkin's house in Sydney's eastern suburbs in 2001, McGowan told him that he was expecting funds to come through from his proposed sale of Impulse to Qantas. But the deal was confidential at that stage and McGowan warned Rivkin he should not trade on what was inside information about Qantas.

It was a brief telephone conversation that eventually resulted in an inquiry by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission looking for reasons behind the rise in Qantas shares before the announcement. McGowan was required by ASIC to testify against Rivkin, who was found guilty of insider trading and sentenced to weekend jail.

He says he is still deeply saddened that the process eventually led to Rivkin's death. "I had no idea he had traded (in Qantas shares as a result of the phone call)," McGowan says. "I found it very distressing. "Do I wish it had never occurred? Of course I do. It was a very sad episode. I never met the man. I only spoke to him for a couple of minutes over the phone." Looking back, McGowan is also disappointed that he was forced to sell Impulse to Qantas when some of his major investors got cold feet. "They were getting worried about the severity of the price war. They were taking a short-term view rather than a long-term view." He says the subsequent success of Virgin Blue shows that Impulse could have been a viable carrier.

"Virgin have proved it," he says. "We certainly had better market share than our main competitors had." McGowan still has some interests in the airline industry. He runs Pacific Aviation, which he founded in 1982. Its business includes delivering newspapers across regional Australia for the Fairfax group.

He also has an investment in a US light aircraft manufacturer in Texas which he and some others bought out of bankruptcy. But his major focus is the commercialisation of renewable energy in Australia.

"The momentum is building and it's going to continue to build," he says. "You are even seeing people like (US department store operator) Wal-Mart taking this seriously. "It's the biggest retailer in the world and every one of their stores has solar panels on the roof. "They have plasma displays in the stores saying how much green energy they are creating per hour. It's going to become mainstream," he says.

It's not a question of whether people want to. We are going to have to. Green energy is affordable now and it will become even more affordable in the future."