Friday 2 March 2007

Solar system powers up classroom and students

Townsville Bulletin
Friday 2/3/2007 Page: 3

TOWNSVILLE State High School practises what it preaches when it comes to teaching kids how to save the environment.

A remote power system installed at the front of the school is now powering the lights in nearby classrooms The hybrid Remote Area Powers System (RAPS) comprises a solar array pyramid to capture the sun's energy, a 6m tower supporting a wind turbine, a generator and a fully automated wireless weather station.

Science department head Dale Collins said the electrical energy produced from the sun and wind powered the lighting and appliances in a nearby classroom. "On a sunny day in Townsville, the solar arrays and turbine produce about 16 kilowatts of electrical energy which equates to the daily energy usage of a small non-airconditioned unit," Mr Collins said.

"That is 16kg of carbon dioxide that we have saved by using alternative energy instead of fossil fuels." Mr Collins said the school hoped to educate students on the use of solar and wind as alternatives and how this helped reduce global warming.

"Students are inspired by the fact that they can now watch a video or Powerpoint presentation on renewable energy sources from machines that are themselves powered by the sun and wind." He said the school was indebted to the support of the Barrier Reef TAFE, Xstrata and the other organisations which sponsored the project.

Minister gives the nod

Colac Herald
Wednesday 28/2/2007 Page: 6

The Federal Government has given the go ahead for a wind farm near Port Campbell. Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull has cleared the way for a planning application with Corangamite Shire Council. Mr Turnbull said the windfarm would not impact on matters of national environment significance.

Acciona Energy's Newfield project manager Julien Gaschignard said environmental work started in May 2006. "Studies and surveys of flora and fauna, including native vegetation, birds and bats have now been completed," he said.

The consultants identified orangebellied parrot habitat in the area. Acciona Energy will lodge a planning application with Corangamite Shire Council next month.

Turbine proposal for Stoney Rises

Hepburn Shire Advocate
Wednesday 28/2/2007 Page: 2

A 19-turbine wind farm could be built near Smeaton following an investigation of the local area. Melbourne based company Wind Power Pty Ltd is proposing to build a wind farm at Stoney Rises on property at the Tuki Trout Farm. Called Tuki Wind Farm, it will have the capacity to provide electricity to 16,000 homes.

A preliminary design has been prepared and Wind Power will hold a community meeting at the Smeaton Bowling Club next Wednesday at 7pm about the project. Wind Power director Vaughan Hulme said the area was excellent for a wind farm. He said the closest house was more than one kilometre from the wind farm. "We need to work with the community so they can consider what it is like to live near," he said.

Mr Hulme said the approval of a community owned wind farm at Leonards Hill demonstrated the commitment by many in the community to renewable energy. Mr Hulme said the company had received positive feedback from the landowner.

A spokesperson from the Tuki Trout Farm said it was only a proposal at this stage.

Wind Power has been involved in a number of wind farm projects across Victoria including six wind turbines at Wonthaggi and wind farms in Lexton and Waubra. It also gained approval for a wind farm at Bald Hills.

Build more wind farms

Great Southern Star
Tuesday 27/2/2007 Page: 5

Fifty-six per cent of surveyed South Gippslanders believe new wind farms should be built between Phillip Island and Lakes Entrance in the next 10 years, a survey conducted late last year found.

Only 21 per cent of people thought no more wind farms should be built in that area. All up, 227 people in Leongatha, Wonthaggi, Meeniyan, Foster, Toora and Grantville completed the Gippsland Friends of Future Generations (GFFG) survey.

"GFFG publicly surveyed pedestrians in seven towns near wind farms in an attempt to determine the general public's attitude," group member, Blair Donaldson, said, while 72 per cent thought South Gippsland shire should conduct a postal ballot to determine community attitudes to wind farms.

Sixty-seven per cent said wind energy is an effective source of energy, and 77 per cent had no opinion on wind farms in the region or thought they were appropriate.

The Toora wind farm was voted more visually appealing than the Wonthaggi farm; 80 per cent were neutral or higher versus 72 per cent for Wonthaggi.

And while 72 per cent of those surveyed thought fossil fuels were the greatest cause of climate change, the survey did not establish if this led them to turn off air conditioners, have cold showers or drive less. Also interestingly, 14 per cent of people did not think Australia should try to develop clean coal technology for electricity generation.

Solar was the most preferred renewable energy source and was supported by 81 per cent surveyed, wind was next with 56 per cent, tidal (42 per cent) and wave (37 per cent).

Thursday 1 March 2007

Calling all innovators

South Gippsland Sentinel Times
Tuesday 27/2/2007 Page: 24

Wonthaggi Energy Innovation Competition coordinators Jeanette Swain and John Flanders say the response to this year's Innovation Festival has been fantastic, with increasing awareness of global climate issues.

"We are now asking the community to tell us how they are living more efficiently - with both less energy and water," said John.

As part of the Festival we are seeking entries in an Energy Innovation Competition. The competition' is open to individuals, community groups and schools. "We're finding fantastic examples of home made windmills, rain water catching and storage and even biodiesel cars.

These are the types of innovation we'd like to see entered in the competition." Jeanette said: "We had quite some community entries in 2006. Our winner, Lou Arthur, of Wonthaggi, put together a poster with photographs on a passive solar house that he built. We'd like people with easy and great ideas to enter, and show them so that all the community can benefit.

"It is time to start getting serious about what you as an individual can do about energy conservation, and also what you can do for your community." John said the wind farm recently completed in Wonthaggi complements the festival, and focuses the need to look at our energy practices.

The Wonthaggi Energy Innovation Festival supports the Human Powered Vehicle Grand Prix and will run over March 24 and 25 at the Wonthaggi Recreation Reserve.

For entry forms to the innovation Competition visit the website or contact Jeanette or John for more information on (03) 87070772 or 0412 249 227.

"Ziggy" inquiry into renewables needed - ANU expert

AAP Newswire
Wednesday 28/2/2007

A leading environmental researcher has called for a government taskforce to look into renewable energy to balance up debate on Australia's response to climate change.

Barney Foran, a visiting fellow at the Australian National University's Centre for Research and Environmental Studies, says Australia is 10 or 20 years behind Europe in thinking on renewable energy. He says current incentives are so small that they produce no incentive for action. He was speaking at an Australian National University briefing at Parliament House called Climate Change and Australia.

"While I'm not here advocating the renewables transition, I do suggest that if we are to have a decent debate in Australia, then we need something the size and intensity of the Ziggy (Switkowski) report (into nuclear energy), to be done on a renewables transition so that we may have balance, if you like, in the national debate that ensues.

"We could have a very different economy here run by renewable electricity mainly, and also by vast areas of woodscapes supply our liquid fuels. "That's a physical reality that doesn't stack up as well economically as it could." Woodscapes involve purpose grown wood biomass, partly for bio-electricity, but mainly for liquid transport fuels.

Mr Foran spoke of a building at an institution in Austria which replaced its marble frontage with photovoltaic (PV) cells and managed to convert its energy usage to 50 per cent renewable, as an example of renewable energy innovation happening in Europe.

"The Europeans are 10 to 20 years in front of us," he said. "Step-change comes when we put a goal in national terms that say we're going to go for something like 50 per cent renewable electricity by 2050. "The current goals for renewable energies (in Australia) are so small that they produce no incentive for action."

Wind change

Warrnambool Standard
Thursday 1/3/2007 Page: 13

A SPANISH company proposing wind farms for Hawkesdale and Ryans Corner near Port Fairy is pulling out of Australia but the planning process necessary for both projects will continue. Gamesa yesterday handed control of the projects to its partner TME Australia and is set to concentrate of manufacturing blades. TME Australia's project manager Adam Proctor said Gamesa sold its 80 per cent interest in a portfolio of Australian wind farm development sites to TME in December.

"Gamesa is looking to continue its core business as a leading wind turbine manufacturer as the world demand for wind energy increase," Mr Proctor said yesterday. "TME will continue to increase its renewable energy portfolio and progress with the current wind farm development sites as planned, and Gamesa will continue to provide technical assistance and engineering support to TME for these projects," he said.

Wednesday 28 February 2007

10 turbines erected

South Eastern Times
Thursday 22/2/2007 Page: 6

THE first 10 of the 53 turbines comprising the second stage of the multimillion dollar Lake Bonney wind farm have been erected and are set to be connected to the national grid. The latest turbines will each generate three megawatts of power and this will be the equivalent of the needs of up to 3,000 households. The 46 turbines in Lake Bonney stage one only have a generating capacity of 1.75 megawatts.

Construction personnel engaged by Babcock and Brown Wind Partners have placed the latest turbines in close proximity to the existing structures on Poonada Road and Thiele Road, west of Tantanoola. The new turbines are distinctive as they are larger than their predecessors and are currently non-operational.

Other turbines are currently in the process of being erected nearby as their towers, nacelles and blades are on site, along with cranes and associated construction apparatus. There is no public access to the construction sites. The construction team erects an average of three turbines per fortnight.

In contrast to Lake Bonney stage one, the towers for stage two are not passing through Mt Burr, Millicent Agricultural Bureau Drive and Tantanoola en route to the wind farm. This is because the stage two towers have been manufactured in Portland.

Preliminary siteworks got underway in June. When completed later this year or early 2008, the first two stages will have 99 wind turbines, generating almost 240 megawatts, and will be the largest operational windfarm in the Southern Hemisphere. The nearby Canunda windfarm, with 23 wind turbines, is operated by a separate company, International Power.

Set sail for power

Moorabool Leader
Tuesday 27/2/2007 Page: 3

AN $8 million two-turbine wind park has been approved for land close to the Moorabool-Hepburn shire boundaries. The Leonards Hill development will generate enough electricity to power 2000 to 2500 homes in the Korweinguboora, Daylesford and Hepburn areas.

Hepburn councillors voted three two last week to grant a planning permit for Australia's first community-owned wind park, based on a Danish idea from the 1980s. Eighteen people lodged objections to the project, fearing more turbines would be added later.

Hepburn Renewable Energy Association spokesman Per Bernard said there was no more room on the site, which is south of Leonards Hill-Bullarto Rd and within one km of the Moorabool Shire.

"It's Australia's first wind park, and this is something every little community could be looking at," Mr Bernard said. "We don't need huge wind farms with dozens of turbines. We could have communities taking care of their own energy needs with just one or two." He said the size of the wind park meant the State Government was not involved in the decision, but there was a chance objectors could still appeal Hepburn Council's vote at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

In its application to the council, the association said the two 110m turbines would not be visible from Ballan-Daylesford Rd, apart from an area around Sailors Falls, which is close to the main Ballarat- Daylesford powerline.

A co-op will own the project, set up a prospectus and sell shares to the community and tourists. The project has been promised $972,000 from the State Government, including about $800,000 towards construction. The wind park has been almost two years in the planning.

For details, go to or 53481298.

Tuesday 27 February 2007

Bourke's energy future is blowing in the wind

Western Herald
Thursday 22/2/2007 Page: 1

A wind farm on Mount Oxley is close to becoming a reality. Babcock and Brown, the company proposing the $30 million wind farm, are expecting to begin' the development application process within months.

The company plans to place seven 3-megawatt turbines on top of Mount Oxley. These generators will supply more than enough power for the town, making Bourke one of the few places in the world powered entirely by renewable energy.

Adrian Rizza from Babcock and Brown said Mount Oxley is a very unique wind resource. Wind travels slowly along the flat plains, but accelerates as it rises up the sides of the mountain. Babcock and Brown are waiting for the final report on the impact the wind farm may have on telecommunications equipment on Mount Oxley. The study should be finalised within two to three weeks.

The next step is to build an 80 metre high tower to monitor wind speed at the same height they plan to build the turbines, then submit a development application for the whole project around six weeks later.

While building other wind farms, Mr Rizza said they found the construction phase provided a significant boost to the local economy. "There is a lot of work for local contractors - there's fencing work, there's survey work, concreting and transport work - we've found it is a huge boost," Mr Rizza said.

The wind farm will be operational around 15 months after construction begins.

Sign of the times for clean Broulee

Bay Post
Friday 23/2/2007 Page: 3

THE Eurobodalla branch of Clean Energy for Eternity is pushing ahead with plans to create a human sign on South Broulee beach on Saturday, March 17. This will be the third human sign for Clean Energy following the inaugural sign last year on Tathra Beach and the second sign in Canberra last October.

The aim of the human sign is to involve the community in raising awareness of global warming and climate change at a local level. "We are expecting a good turnout of people to join in on the day to create the human sign," organiser Leslie Braman said.

"As part of our climate awareness program, CEFE is working together with Far South Coast Surf Life Saving Clubs to install photovoltaic cells, solar hot water and a wind turbine onto club roofs. Any proceeds on the day will go directly to the four Eurobodalla surf clubs for this project." If you want to be part of the event, just turn up at South Broulee Beach on March 17 at about 12.30pm for the main photo at fpm.

"Please allow plenty of time to park your car and walk to the beach and remember to bring hats, sunscreen, umbrellas and water in case of hot weather," Ms Braman said. "Come and join us and make a statement and at the same time have a great fun day out." For more information, contact Ms Braman on 4471 8850.

Wind, solar power find favour in poll

Sydney Morning Herald
Tuesday 27/2/2007 Page: 5
Wendy Frew Environment Reporter

AUSTRALIANS want to see greater investment in renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, and cuts in the amount of coal used to generate electricity, an opinion poll suggests. Support for nuclear power came a distant last, with only 33 per cent of 1200 people polled by the Australian Research Group supporting uranium as a power source.

A greater reliance on clean energy was gaining support among Australians regardless of the positions taken by political parties, said the Climate Institute Australia's chief executive, John Connor, who commissioned the poll.

`Australians are saying they want to embrace new, clean renewable-energy technologies to deal with the challenge of climate change," Mr Connor said. "Our political leaders need to catch up with the Australian community on this issue and introduce effective policies which encourage significant clean energy investment." The poll results follow news at the weekend that the Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, said a Federal Labor government would create a billion-dollar fund to include clean-coal technology in the national electricity grid by 2020.

Mr Rudd pledged $500 million to kick-start a fund that would reward business investment in experimental technology such as "cleaning" coal before it was burnt, and capturing carbon dioxide generated when it was burnt and burying it underground. CO2 is one of several key greenhouse gases linked to climate change. The Federal Government has already granted money to experimental projects such as drying brown coal.

Environmentalists and energy experts said researching technologies that could improve combustion efficiency was worthwhile, but warned that the greenhouse gas emission reductions would be minimal and nowhere near enough to make much difference to climate change. Technology that could capture and store CO2 also remained commercially unproven, they said, and was unlikely to be ready in time to tackle the immediate challenge posed by rising global temperatures.

The Australian Research Group poll found 91 per cent support for installing more solar panels, 82 per cent for more wind farms, and 70 per cent support for investments in clean-coal technology. Reducing the amount of electricity used in the first place was supported by 78 per cent, while only 46 per cent of people supported a carbon trading scheme.

Energetic Debate
  • Japan has installed 13 times more, and Germany 10 times more solar systems on homes than Australia.
  • Australia has access to 817 megawatts of wind power, compared with 20,622 in Germany and 11,615 in Spain.
  • Australians surveyed were split on nuclear power, with 33 per cent supporting it, and 39 per cent against.

Monday 26 February 2007

Green energy is a hot item at last

Weekend Australian
Saturday 24/2/2007 Page: 2

IT'S no surprise that renewable and sustainable energy has finally earned its spot in the sun, bringing with it the promise of a whole new world of interesting and "feel-good" careers directed towards tackling climate change and guiding corporate social responsibility.

"It's going to be an industry absolutely driven by innovation," says Lisa Barry, national human capital partner with Deloitte: `There's buckets of room in this industry for more genuine commitment to the planet to the sustainablity issue, this (energy) industry is right in the heartland of that potential." Energy companies are now increasingly mandated to provide power derived from renewable sources such as wind, solar, hydro and biomass (which is the process of converting into power gases such as methane from green waste collected at land fill.

According to Deloitte, there were 220,000 "green power customers" by the end of 2005, representing a 50 percent jump over the preceding nine months. There are now almost 350,000 customers, which is around 15 percent growth per quarter.

David Newhouse heads the environmental and sustainability practice for Deloitte as part of the company's climate change and sustainable resources team. He predicts, that there will be whole new professional classifications concerned with helping energy and other companies understand and manage environmental risk. Graduates with both accountancy and science/ environmental skills will be highly sought after here.

Carbon trading is, of course, expected to garner much attention, especially following the federal government's decision recently to look into a national emissions trading (NET) scheme.

Carbon, or emissions, trading falls into two main categories. The first concerns the awarding of carbon certificates according to a company's use of green or renewable technologies such as wind, biomas, solar and hydro. The second relates to company schemes to reduce their CO2 emissions, something which Deloitte and other firms are increasingly asked to audit.

Importantly for would-be traders to note, however, there is currently no degree as such in this area But candidates should have a solid understanding of the science around energy and possess good technical skills to undertake research and modelling. And just as important Newhouse believes: "You really need to have a passion and drive to help corporates look at sustainability and its benefits; to help drive change." Newhouse says that banks have been especially proactive in encouraging sustainable practices and are therefore expected to offer rewarding career paths for people looking at this area.

Major resources companies like BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto (themselves major contributors of greenhouse gases) have acknowledged the need to increase their sustainability efforts and the wider sector should offer more fertile ground for careers in renewable and sustainable energy moving forward.

Governments have also demonstrated strong interest in sustainable practices in Australia. In 2003, NSW operated one of the first trade caps in the world limiting CO2 produced by electricity generators and high energy users. It was loosely based on trading models used in Europe. Victoria is leading the country in developing wind farms.

Newhouse estimates that there are currently between 100 and 150 "greenhouse auditors" in Australia at the moment but that the number will likely rise significantly over the next few years.

The Business Council for Sustainable Energy, based in Melbourne, has been working closely with government and industry for years in its efforts to develop better awareness and training for sustainable and renewable energy practices.

Jenny Gregory, BCSE industry development manager, says one of the major impediments to growth in the sector is lack of awareness among students and teachers, be they at school, TAFE or University about streams covering sustainability. Because renewable and sustainable energy promises such career potential, she strongly urges all students with an interest in the area to seek them out.

The BCSE is the largest group in Australia representing the renewable and sustainable industries and has small right up to massive firms among its members. It is currently working with plumbing and electricity trades associations to improve the understanding of solar hot water. It reports a trend amongst Victorian electricians towards gaining industry accreditation for sustainability.

"We need people knowledgeable about why it's important to have a solar water heater not just for reducing your power bill but also your greenhouse emissions," Gregory says.

Governments, companies and individuals all need to lift their level of understanding. "In a post-Kyoto world, we need to know about carbon trading, installing renewables (and different types of renewable), energy performance contracting and how to put in energy efficient lighting controls and refrigeration systems," she adds.

Gregory stresses that, unlike the past, renewable energy can lead to big money these days: Sydney University graduate and founder, CEO and chairman of photovoltaic (PV) solar panel manufacturer SunTech Power, Dr Zhengrong Shi, is now the sixth wealthiest man in China.

Australian National University (ANU) boasts that it offers some of the best grounding in renewable energy for its engineering students. Its 400 square metre solar dish prototype is believed to be the biggest in the world. It has also succeeded in commercialising renewable energy companies, most notably solar company Wizard Power.

Now firmly established as a growth sector in its own right, renewable energy has become part of the everyday work and training within the mainstream energy sector. For instance, all three trade courses at EnergyAustralia have both practical and theoretical renewable energy components.

The challenge of climate change is inspiring greater cooperation between the leading energy companies, in turn leading to more uniform approaches to training and education on renewable energy.

"Apprentices are now all doing standard qualifications with cooperation on training and safety and including renewable energy modules," says. the company's head of training, Tom Emeleus.

Affirming the value its places on being seen to be green, SP AusNet boasts that all of the paper, toner and batteries consumed by the company is recycled and it is currently in the process of installing water saving devices - including water tanks - with the aim of reducing water usage by 60 percent.

While Gregory naturally wishes that more was being done for sustainability, she concedes that things are certainly in motion: "We're feeling a groundswell already."

Opinions sought about wind farm

Warrnambool Standard
Saturday 24/2/2007 Page: 18

Moyne Shire is asking for the community's opinion on a 69-turbine wind farm proposed near Port Fairy before it makes a submission to the Victorian Government about the project.

Gamesa Energy Australia and TME's 136-megawatt project needs approval from Planning Minister Justin Madden due to its size and position. The wind farm on freehold farming land is bounded by the Hamilton-Port Fairy Road, Fingerboard Road and the Shaw River.

Moyne Shire's development approval manager Russell Guest yesterday said council had opened the community consultation process about the project before forming a submission to send to the minister. He said information including maps and brochures on the project were available at the council's Port Fairy office.

People can make submissions to council until March 5 and a hearing before councillors is set to be held at the Port Fairy Yacht Club on March 13.

Wind farms fan B&B

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 24/2/2007 Page: 82

Babcock and Brown Wind Partners is doing more than tilting at windmills in Spain where further acquisitions of wind farms helped almost double interim revenue. The specialist investment fund yesterday reported a 90 per cent lift in first-half revenue to $48.6 million compared with $25.6 million in the previous corresponding six months to December 31.

Operating cash flow jumped to $41.5 million from $5.3 million and net loss was cut to $900,000 from $18.2 million previously.

Acting chief executive Miles George said the improvement in revenue could be attributed to the acquisition of more wind farms in Spain and from the Alinta wind-farm completion in Western Australia.

Mr George said the outlook for the global wind energy industry, the installed capacity of which increased by 25 per cent in 2006, was good with long-term support for renewable energy continuing to strengthen. Babcock and Brown Wind has six wind farms in Spain.

Clean energy boost

Sunday Telegraph
Sunday 25/2/2007 Page: 15

ENOUGH renewable energy to power a city bigger than Brisbane was generated in Australia last year, most sourced from wind and hydro.

Figures released to The Sunday Telegraph show Australia generated enough clean energy last year to supply residential power for a city of 2.3 million people for 12 months.

The generation of renewable energy has increased nine-fold since national industry targets were set six years ago. More than 5432 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity was generated from clean sources in 2006 - up from 620GWh in 2001.

The federal Government's Mandatory Renewable Energy Target aims to produce 9500GWh by 2010. The target represents extra electricity needed to boost the total proportion of renewable energy in the national grid from 10.5 percent in 1997 to 12.5 percent in 2010.

Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator figures show new renewable energy generation has risen from 0.32 per cent to 2.62 per cent over the past six years. Of this, about a third was sourced from wind power, under a third from hydro, and 18 per cent from solar hot-water heaters.

Opposition environment spokesman Peter Garrett accused the federal Government of "strangling" the renewable energy industry by setting the MRET target too low. "There is $13 billion worth of projects sitting on the books in wind energy alone," his spokeswoman said.

Wind winner

Launceston Examiner
Monday 26/2/2007 Page: 20

Babcock and Brown Wind Partners is doing more than tilting at windmills in Spain where further acquisitions of wind farms helped almost double interim revenue.

The specialist investment fund yesterday reported a 90 per cent lift in first half revenue to $48.6 million compared with $25.6 million in the previous corresponding six months to December 31.

Coal plants cut in TXU buy-out plan

Australian Financial
Monday 26/2/2007 Page: 10

Under a proposed billion-dollar buy-out by a team of private equity firms, TXU Corp will abandon plans to build eight of 11 coal plants and commit to a range of environmental measures, after the equity firms asked two prominent environmental groups what could be done to secure their support. Goldman Sachs, an adviser and lender to the group, helped negotiate peace with environmental groups and sought their support for the deal.

Goldman Sachs has been one of Wall Street's most progressive firms on climate changes, sending its bankers home in hybrid-powered limousines. Bringing the environmental groups into the process could help avoid years of litigation over emissions, but may also spur questions about how the energy needs originally to be met by the coal plants will be addressed.