Friday 16 March 2007

Grass roots are green

Cooma Monaro Express
Tuesday 13/3/2007 Page: 10

LAST Friday over 100 members of the Snowy River Shire community agreed unanimously to support the target of reducing energy use by 50 per cent and generating 50 per cent clean renewable energy by the year 2020, in order to tackle climate change.

Commenting after the event, Greens' candidate, Catherine Moore, said: "It's a really good example of grass roots action where governments can see communities responding even if they are not. ' The motion will be debated at the Snowy River Shire council meeting and already has the support of Mayor Richard Wallace but Ms Moore would also like to see Cooma Monaro council supporting the motion too.

She believes that it is a positive step for a local council to take and would ultimately provide a healthier lifestyle for local people. Ms Moore also believes that more sustainable agriculture would be better for local health too, while at the same time recognising that farming can be tough in the area.

"We need to support rural communities so that they can carry on the business of producing our food and fibre and we need to make sure that they can access the same health and educational facilities as people in the city."

Green Power: Warrnambool leads state on enviro-friendly choice

Warrnambool Standard
Friday 16/3/2007 Page: 1

ALMOST one in 10 Warrnambool residents are buying more expensive green power and preventing at least 587 tonnes of carbon emissions every year, according to Sustainability Victoria.

Nine per cent of Origin Energy consumers are opting to use the environmentally-friendly green power, which is more than the state average. Each year 537 Origin clients save 375 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, by choosing electricity from renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, biomass and hydro power.

TRU Energy green power users save about 212 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Sustainability Victoria program manager Kim Barnett said about eight per cent of the state's population had switched to green power. "Of the 5700 Origin customers in Warrnambool, 537 people and 12 businesses are using green power," Ms Barnett said.

Colac lags behind Warrnambool with only 6.7 per cent of users signing up to the renewable source. Colac is saving 121 tonnes per annum.

When choosing green power, customers allow the energy company to buy renewable energy from renewable sources rather than coal-fired power stations. Origin customers have the option of selecting 100 per cent wind or solar energy or a combination of 20 per cent wind and 80 per cent hydro power. For one dollar a week, Origin customers can opt to have 20 per cent of their energy supply come from renewable sources.

The south-west is home to two wind farms and 13 more have been proposed. Five of the 13 have received approval. State Government figures show twice as many Victorians are paying for the renewable source compared to all other states.

Minister for Energy and Resources Peter Batchelor said the number of Victorian users had doubled from 80,000 in December 2005 to more than 157,000 in December last year. In the past year, Victorians have cut greenhouse gas emissions by 188,489 tonnes, the equivalent of removing 43,520 cars from Victorian roads.

Thursday 15 March 2007

Cutting carbon emissions easier said than done

Thursday 15/3/2007 Page: 10

Switching to clean coal is an enormous commitment that neither the Government nor the Opposition should underestimate

THE Howard Government this week announced its largest grant yet for projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save the planet: $100 million for a clean coal plant in Victoria's Latrobe Valley.

There's one in the eye for those who say the Government is too infested with climate change sceptics to take the issue seriously. Even the Opposition welcomed the announcement, while berating the Government for dragging the chain. We're all greenhouse warriors in an election year.

The money will go into a demonstration project to build a 400 megawatt power generation plant at the Loy Yang coalmine. Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it would produce power more efficiently, at lower cost, with 30 per cent lower carbon dioxide emissions than conventional brown coal.

But let's get this into perspective. The new 400MW plant compares with the more than 30,000MW of capacity in coal-fired power stations in Australia. brown coal is the dirtiest coal, producing as much as twice the carbon dioxide of black coal. The aim of the demonstration project is to dry the brown coal to make it cleaner, but that would still leave it dirtier than black coal.

Moreover, generating electricity from black coal is itself a very dirty process when it comes to greenhouse gases. The grant does not cover developing the process to capture carbon dioxide from coal-fired plants, let alone transporting and storing it.

The Government has funded some projects for this purpose: $60 million for commercial scale demonstration of the capture and storage of carbon dioxide at Barrow Island in Western Australia and $50 million for a demonstration project of carbon capture on existing power stations. But these are very small and preliminary steps down the road of taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. From little things, big things grow: and they will need to, given the sheer scale of the challenge. The Barrow Island project aims to take up to 3.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere a year.

That sounds impressive until we learn the staggering overall quantities involved. Just one typical 1000MW coal-fired power station produces five to six million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. That adds up to 150 to 180 million tonnes a year from burning coal in Australia, a figure that is continuing to grow and which in turn is about one-third of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Clean coal trips off the tongue easily enough, but what is involved in capturing hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide? Politicians anxious to defend the coal industry make it sound easy but seldom go into the detail. Labor's resources and energy spokesman Chris Evans says most of the technology for the capture and storage of carbon dioxide "has been proven". Up to a point.

A 2005 paper by the International Energy Agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says: "Proven cost effective means for removing and sequestering [that is, burying] most of the CO2 emissions from coal-based power plants do not currently exist." But it adds that the prospects over the next two decades are promising.

As for Australia, the development of technologies "would require a significantly greater level of commitment on the part of industry and government than in the past". Although this does not take into account the projects announced since, it remains a valid point.

The widely used term of carbon capture and storage is shorthand for a very complex process, even without considering the sheer volumes involved. First the carbon dioxide has to be captured in the power generation process. There are three main methods being worked on and at least two of them require large amounts of energy in themselves.

Britain's Department of Trade and Industry argues that one of them, post-combustion capture, involves a well-established technology but that the largest operating unit, in California, captures less than 10 per cent of the gas put out by a small, 500MW coal-fired power station.

After the carbon dioxide has been separated, it has to be compressed to a liquid or dense gas form another energy intensive process that makes it suitable for transport through pipelines. Moving the carbon dioxide is proven technology, with the US using pipelines to take it to wells to help extract oil.

But it also is not cheap. Existing pipelines such as those used for natural gas are not suitable, meaning dedicated pipelines have to be built at a cost which a University of California study estimates at $US1 million ($1.3 million) per kilometre to move large volumes.

Huge amounts of storage are required and in theory they are available, including in Australia, in the form of depleted oil and gas fields, coal seams that cannot be mined and saline aquifers. But they often are a long way from power plants and, as the study by the IAE and OECD says,"considerable research and development effort is still required to clarify and confirm these options". Once stored, the carbon dioxide has to be monitored to ensure against leakage.

Perhaps all these hurdles can be overcome in time. They require sticks and carrots in the term of a carbon tax or a trading scheme with a cap on emissions. The Government is moving gradually towards the second option, which also is the one the Opposition supports.

The inevitable result of the investment required to clean up coal is that the cost of producing electricity increase greatly. The CSIRO estimates it will double, which would make other options, such as wind, solar and nuclear more competitive.

If we take the Stern report on the economics of climate change literally, we cannot wait 20 years to clean up coal, an argument that has led the Greens to propose phasing out the coal industry, including exports. With coal our biggest export earner no major party leader is going to agree to that. It would be a futile gesture, in any case, in the absence of an international agreement to prevent importing countries simply switching to other sources of supply.

But we should not pretend that the path to clean coal will be easy, or that we can continue living forever off our bounty of cheap coal.

Labor has committed to reducing greenhouse gases by 60 per cent by 2050 without saying how it will get there beyond an unspecified increase in the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target. Like the Government, it is in denial.

Britain moves to cut carbon emissions

Canberra Times
Thursday 15/3/2007 Page: 17

Britain's Government has proposed bold new environmental legislation that would set legally binding, longterm limits on carbon emissions - a move it hopes will prompt the United States, China and India to follow suit.

The draft climate change Bill would be the first legislation in an industrialised country to set such long-range goals, including a carbon budget set every five years that would cap CO2 levels and create an independent body to report on progress. It also set binding targets as far ahead as 2050 for reducing carbon emissions.

"This is a revolutionary step in confronting the threat of climate change," Prime Minister Tony Blair told reporters. "It sets an example to the rest of the world." Britain's political parties have jostled in recent weeks for the "green" vote, seeking to show their environmental credentials in hopes of securing a key battleground in the country's next national election.

Both Mr Blair's Labour Party and the opposition Conservatives have seized on the issue, devoting more media time to global warming than to British troops in Iraq. Stung by more bad news in Iraq, Mr Blair's camp has focused increasing attention on issues in which he can seize the initiative - such as the environment.

Mr Blair says he plans to step down by September, and success in brokering a global carbon pact could be seen as a significant closing achievement. He hopes Britain and Germany - which holds both the European Union and the Group of Eight presidencies - can lead work on a new global pact to curb emissions. The next step was getting the United States, China and India to make similar commitments, he said.

The Bill mast be approved by both houses of Parliament to become law. The Government hopes it will do so in the first half of next year. Under the plans, the Government would report annually to Parliament on work to meet the five-year carbon budget limits.

An independent advisory committee would check their progress and could compel government officials to appear before a judge to explain any failures. Judges would be able to issue public warnings to the Government, or force it to buy credits allowing greater emissions under international carbon trading schemes, Mr Blair's Downing Street office said. Governments would need to "count the carbon, just as they count the pennies", Treasury chief Gordon Brown, Mr Blair's likely successor, said.

EU leaders agreed last week that the bloc would produce 20 per cent of its power through renewable energy, as opposed to its current average of 6 per cent.

Wednesday 14 March 2007

Another Babcock and Brown project

South Eastern Times
Thursday 8/3/2007 Page: 6

IT WAS interesting to read in the daily press this week that Babcock and Brown plan to invest another $350 million in South Australia to build a new power station. The international bankers were responsible for the construction of the majority of the windfarms along the Woakwine Range overlooking Lake Bonney, and the project is now the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

Their local two stage project cost around $460 million and poured millions into the local economy through the of shoots during the construction stage, and the windfarms continue to assist the local farming community- There is also another two stages planned by Babcock and Brown, north of the present turbines - so there is more to come down the track for the local economy.

The Millicent area have a lot to thank Paul Hutchinson and the Babcock and Brown management for selecting the Woakwine Range for their project, and now it seems the Mallala region, just north of Adelaide, will benefit.

The company will later this month apply to the Development Assessment Commission (DAC) to build a 450MW gas-fired peaking power station. It has already been endorsed by the State Government as a "public infrastructure development" under section 49 of the Development Act.

If and when it is approved, along with another being planned for the Mid North, the two power stations will be the State's second and third biggest, behind the Torrens Island generator. When completed the Mallala site will be operated by Flinders Power - a subsidiary of B&B.

Babcock and Brown would have been happy to receive the government's quick endorsement of the project and having a direct line through to the DAC. Going back a number of years ago when the company first mooted the construction of the local windfarms to the government there were numerous holdups due to the bureaucrats "stalling" the venture. One would now hope it is pure sailing for B&B on their new venture, and the same occurs when the next stages of the Lake Bonney Windfarm begin.

Residents give strong support to Glenthompson wind farm plan

Hamilton Spectator
Saturday 10/3/2007 Page: 3

DEVELOPERS of a $180 million wind farm near Glenthompson are delighted with the strong support by Glenthompson and district residents for the project. More than 100 people attended a community open day regarding the proposed Oaklands Hill wind farm, a few kilometres south of Glenthompson.

Developers, Investec Bank and Windlab Systems, say most people who perused the displays and discussed the proposal in detail with the developers and the experts who had conducted many of the studies, were enthusiastic about the project, claiming it could be just the boost the town needs.

"From those that did attend, we generally received a very strong feeling of support for the project," the joint venture spokesman, Mark Headland, said. "Where concerns were raised these were discussed and a follow up action plan is being developed." The displays included an overall description of the planned wind farm, maps showing the location of the 43 turbines, flora, fauna, noise and shadow studies and photographs comparing the landscape as it is now and with the turbines installed.

Mr Headland was delighted that residents had learnt first-hand about the wind farm. "We were extremely grateful for the support of the Glenthompson Progress Association whose aid was instrumental in making the day a success." The wind farm, being proposed by Investec Bank (Australia) Limited and Windlab Systems Pty Ltd, will make a major contribution to Victoria's greenhouse gas reductions, cutting carbon dioxide by around 364,000 tonnes a year (the equivalent of planting around 540,000 trees) while producing enough power to service up to 52,000 homes.

Mr Headland said the farm would provide up to 60 jobs during the construction phase, with millions of dollars of potential opportunities for local employment and industry during the 12-18 month design and construction phase.

The developers plan to lodge a planning permit application with the Department of Sustainability and Environment by April with the hope that construction will start in 2008 and commissioning in the first quarter of 2009.

Wind farm revs up Port Fairy

Warrnambool Standard
Wednesday 14/3/2007 Page: 5

A 68-TURBINE wind farm proposed near Port Fairy will generate about one per cent of Victoria's power needs. Moyne Shire councillors were advised yesterday by developer TME Australia the 3600 ha wind farm at Ryans Corners would create between 12 and 16 jobs if approved along with the company's Hawkesdale project.

Project manager Adam Proctor said the company was investigating wind farms for Mortlake and Berrybank. He dismissed fears fire bombing aircraft would be unable to operate over the site. He said access roads across the 12 properties would be suitable for CFA trucks.

Mr Proctor said if the wind farm operated at 30 per cent capacity it would generate power for 67,000 homes or 1.1 per cent of the state's needs. The company expects to spend as much as $500 million on the project 12km north west of Port Fairy and estimates $2 million a year will be spent in the area to pay employees, landowner fees and rates.

Farmer Kieron Moore supported clean energy and no objections had been received from the Yambuk community. He said the proposed turbines were less visible than the 34 already in the area and it was important to reduce greenhouse gases to make a better planet for future generations.

The council will hold a special meeting at 4pm on March 20 to decide its position on the project before making a submission to Planning Minister Justin Madden who will decided the project's future.

Power project starts

Northern Guardian
Wednesday 14/3/2007 Page: 2

WORK has begun on the Coral Bay power project. Horizon Power, working with Verve Energy, has taken over responsibility for power supplies in the community and is creating a new underground distribution system, a new power station and a wind farm.

Installation of three wind turbines is scheduled for this month. Construction of the diesel generator power station will continue from March to May. The project is scheduled for completion in June this year.

A STAR is born

Waste Management & Environment
March, 2007 Page: 14

A new wind turbine blade, designed at the US Sandia National Laboratories, could significantly reduce the cost of wind power. Named 'STAR' for Sweep Twist Adaptive Rotor, its most distinctive characteristic is a gently curved tip specially designed for low wind speed regions. With plenty of sites with average speeds of 5.8 metres/second in the US, it would increase by 20-fold the area that can be economically developed for wind energy.

Sized at 27.1 metres and made of fibreglass and epoxy resin, the curvature of the blade allows it to twist more and respond to turbulent gusts in a way that lowers fatigue loads. "This then allows us to grow the blade length for the same rotor, providing for increased energy capture of 5-10 per cent and yet retaining the same expected fatigue life," said Tom Ashwill.

US waste specialist warns against nuclear energy

ABC Online

An American anti-nuclear watchdog warns nuclear energy would be too expensive and take too long to establish to play a genuine role in reducing Australia's carbon emissions. US nuclear waste specialist Kevin Kamps began a national tour yesterday with a forum in Mackay, in north Queensland, warning of the health risks and waste disposal obligations associated with nuclear energy.

Mr Kamps says in the the US the nuclear energy industry is propped up by billion-dollar government subsidies and renewable energy industries such as wind power are growing quickly. "Wind is the fastest growing new source of electricity in the United States," he said.

"You can put up wind turbines in a matter of months, where it takes years and years [for a nuclear reactor], the last built reactor in the United States cost $7 billion and took 23 years to build and we need to act in the near term to address the climate crisis - we can't wait for nuclear power."

Tuesday 13 March 2007

People power primed for Broulee

Bay Post
Wednesday 7/3/2007 Page: 16

THE Clean Energy for Eternity movement has swept up the coast from Bega and will hit Broulee's South Beach dunes on March 17. Organisers aim to attract thousands on the day, where a human sign will be formed to create awareness and raise funds for a green future.

Bega surgeon Matthew Nott created the Clean Energy for Eternity action group and has since raised awareness on clean, green, renewable energy use from the Far South Coast to the Snowy Mountains.

The group has teamed up with Surf Life Saving NSW to convert each and every clubhouse to use a renewable energy source, such as solar and wind. It's a big call but Mr Nott believes there is a dire need for big changes.

"People don't realise we're seeing climate change before our eyes," Mr Nott said. "We know we are heading for trouble and it's our fault." Broulee's human sign event will herald the fundraising campaign for the Eurobodalla's four surf clubs' energy change, which Mr Nott said would save each club $1000 a year.

Organisers encourage all Eurobodalla residents to be in the human sign, which starts at 12.30pm, and will read LifeSaving Energy. The aerial shot will be taken at 1pm. Volunteers will guide participants to a position on the beach on the day and, once formed, the sign will be photographed.

"It is a great opportunity to mix and mingle with other interested people and will be a lot of fun," organiser Leslie Braman said. "We will also have music, [and there will] hopefully even be some award-winning musicians." Broulee Surf Lifesaving Club will hold a barbecue, and Zippos Cafe will be open.

For more information call Ms Braman on 4471 8850.

"Let's get excited and united about our climate change choices, and have a fun day out. If you are interested in finding out more about Clean Energy for Eternity, go to," Ms Braman said.

Record power output

Port Lincoln Times
Thursday 8/3/2007 Page: 3

GALE force winds have helped the Cathedral Rocks Wind Farm reach a record power output this summer. Cathedral Rocks facilities manager John Fannin said record production was reached during several particularly windy days in January and February.

He said the windiest day was in January. "It was blowing a gale out here and we produced nearly maximum output all day," he said. Mr Fannin said currently wind turbines at the farm were generating "more than enough" clean green electricity to power Port Lincoln and the surrounding districts.

At maximum capacity, the wind farm generates 66 megawatts of energy - that's enough energy to power 50,000 homes, according to Mr Fannin. This clean energy was particularly important during this time of possible climate change and the onset of global warming.

`The Cathedral Rocks Wind Farm is displacing up to a quarter of a million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by generating electricity without further contributing greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere," he said.

The Cathedral Rocks Wind Farm continues to undergo routine testing and servicing of the turbines, and there are often times when some turbines are out of service while they are tested.

Mr Fannin said currently one of the turbines was out of service but it should be operating again soon. He said the farm was supporting the district's economy by using local contractors where possible, and the eight full-time staff members currently working at the wind farm were all Port Lincoln locals.

Turbine demand moves finish line

Denmark Bulletin
Thursday 8/3/2007 Page: 12
Craig Chappelle, chairman

THE community's windfarm project remains on target, even though progress has been slow recently. The DCW committee continues to meet regularly and put in many voluntary hours, but the finish-line has been pushed further out. Our application for $1.2million federal edge of grid' funding, to take the project into its implementation phase has to go to Canberra for final approval.

With a new federal environment minister we expect the project to be freshly viewed for the benefits it offers, and the community support it is attracting (we now have nearly 300 members). However, it could be May before we know the result. Our planning application, which went to the State Government in January, could take up to 12 months to process.

Another unforeseen event was the revelation in December that there is not enough electricity available to supply the growing demand in Denmark and Walpole. Western Power will implement a series of network upgrades over the next five years, which could affect the size of the windfarm project, so we are keeping a close eye on progress. Meanwhile, we expect to have an access agreement with Western Power signed off within the next couple of months.

We anticipate that the blades will begin turning early in 2009 - a year later than everyone had hoped, and due in no small part to an 18-24 month waiting list for turbines, thanks to the worldwide demand for wind energy.

There is a website well worth visiting that demolishes the arguments commonly put by climate-change sceptics:

To join DCW, or learn more about the project, phone DCW secretary Cheryl Reid on 9840 9002 or visit our website,

EU drafts renewable energy target

Canberra Times
Saturday 10/3/2007 Page: 17

A draft final statement at a European Union summit set a binding target of 20 per cent of renewable sources in EU energy consumption by 2020 in an ambitious strategy to fight climate change. The compromise circulated by EU president Germany offered flexibility on how the 27 member states contribute to the common pan- European goal for renewables such as solar, wind and hydro-electric power.

The wording appeared aimed to win over states reliant on nuclear energy, led by France, or coal, such as Poland, or small countries with few energy resources, such as Cyprus and Malta, by adding references to the national energy mix.

"Differentiated national overall targets" for renewables should be set "with due regard to a fair and adequate allocation, taking account of different national starting points", it said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hoped to clinch a deal on a long-term strategy integrating energy and climate change to pressure the United States and other nations to follow the EU lead in combating global warming. "This text is indeed a breakthrough as regards the environment and climate change policy of the European Union," she said.

"Once this is agreed this will indeed inject a truly new quality to this particular area of the EU and will establish our position in the vanguard of energy policy worldwide." The 27 leaders committed themselves to a target of reducing EU greenhouse gas emissions, blamed for heating the planet, by 20 per cent by 2020 and offered to go to 30 per cent if other nations followed suit.

The draft statement also set a 10 per cent minimum target for biofuels in transport to be introduced by 2020 in a cost-efficient way. In an attempt to balance pro- and anti-nuclear power states, the draft added wording on the contribution of nuclear energy "in meeting growing concerns about safety of energy supply and CO2 emissions reductions while ensuring that nuclear safety and security are paramount in the decision-making process".

Leaders came close to a deal on renewables but several countries sought assurances their special circumstances and financial limits would be taken into account when sharing the burden of meeting an EU-wide target. Polish President Lech Kaczynski said,"Poland is ready to accept binding targets as long as they are the European average and specific conditions of various countries are taken into account".

French President Jacques Chirac accepted a binding target but said nuclear power must play a role in Europe's drive to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Ms Merkel said nuclear power was not a renewable energy form but could help to reduce overall carbon dioxide emissions. Several EU states are opposed to using nuclear power or are in the process of phasing it out. The summit outcome will form the basis of the EU's position in talks to find a replacement to the UN Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Europe sets bold global warming targets

Sun Herald
Sunday 11/3/2007 Page: 45

EUROPEAN Union leaders have agreed on bold measures to fight global warming, pledging that, by 2020, a fifth of the bloc's energy will come from green-power sources such as wind turbines and solar panels and 10 per cent of European cars will run on biofuels.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel challenged other nations to follow suit, saying the world still had time to "avoid what could well be a human calamity" caused by climate change.

At French insistence, the deal noted the role atomic energy could play in replacing coal- or oil-fired power plants blamed for pumping out greenhouse gases. That caused unease for non-nuclear states such as Austria and Ireland and triggered complaints from environmental groups.

French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair both hailed the deal, which does not yet include an enforcement mechanism, as a turning point in the global warming fight. "This is part of the great moments of European history," Mr Chirac said.

The agreement makes three main promises to be fulfilled in the next 13 years.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions will be cut by at least 20 per cent from 1990 levels;
  • The EU will produce 20 per cent of its power through renewable energy, a massive increase from the current figure of about 6 per cent;
  • One-tenth of all cars and trucks in the 27 EU nations should be running on biofuels made from plants.
"These are a set of groundbreaking, bold, ambitious targets," Mr Blair said. "It gives Europe a clear leadership position on this crucial issue facing the world." European leaders hope their commitment will encourage leading polluters, such as the US, Russia, China and India, to agree on emissions cuts.

Ms Merkel intends to present the plans to US President George Bush and other leaders at a summit of the Group of Eight industrialised nations she will host in June.

Lawyers still have to draw up rules on how the deal will be enforced, but European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the legislation "will be subject to all instruments of community law". That implies the EUs executive arm would be able to launch legal action and fine countries that violate targets.

Project on track

Warrnambool Standard
Tuesday 13/3/2007 Page: 7

THE company that hopes to build a 15-turbine wind farm at Newfield has confirmed it will soon submit a planning application to Corangamite Shire Council A spokeswoman for Acciona Energy said the company planned to submit the application within the next three weeks. The proposed site for the wind farm is eight kilometres inland from Port Campbell on farming land.

Acciona claimed the wind farm would offset as much as 70,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and supply about 28,000 people with electricity. The company's project manager, Julien Gaschinard, said the State Government should not require an environmental effects statement for the project because it would not cause significant environmental problems.

The Federal Government agreed the project wouldn't impact on matters of national environmental significance. Ms Gaschinard said the company was consulting the Department of Sustainability and Environment and the shire to ensure all environmental issues were addressed within the projects environment and planning reports before the application was submitted to the council.

Council to go a la natural

The Capes Herald
Tuesday 13/3/2007 Page: 7

THE Augusta-Margaret River Shire Council has taken another step towards environmental sustainability in deciding to use electricity sourced from wind power at its administration buildings. Power supplied to the council's' Margaret River and Augusta buildings will soon be delivered by Synergy's Natural Power program and, in the 2007-08 Budget, council will consider converting all its energy use across the shire.

Natural Power is energy generated across Australia through renewable sources such as wind or solar power. WA's Natural Power is generated through a wind farm in Albany and added to the main Synergy grid. Natural Power customers pay a higher premium for their electricity, but are guaranteed their power did not come at a cost to the environment.

Head of Synergy's stakeholder relations Andrew Gaspar said Natural Power customer numbers increased by 63.75 per cent in the last quarter of 2006, after the Al Gore documentary An Inconvenient Truth was screened. Mr Gaspar said Busselton, Margaret River and Dunsborough made up less than one per cent of all Natural Power customers. "There are not a lot of Natural Power customers from those three locations," he said.

In promoting the move to green power, Cr Brian Middleton said the conversion was "an opportunity to demonstrate community leadership in contributing to the reduction of carbon emissions". Cr Middleton has used Natural Power in his own business for many years. An average household linked to Natural Power was expected to pay an extra $3.15 a week.

Cr Middleton was also behind the push to create the Sustainability Advisory Committee of community members and council representatives, to guide the council to make decisions that gave equal weight to economic, social and environmental issues.

"Our council is in a position to lead the way in demonstrating how to conserve natural resources and reduce impacts on the environment while ensuring adequate facilities and employment for a fast-growing population," Cr Middleton said.

Emissions panel funds fossil fuels over renewables: Members have mining backgrounds

Tuesday 13/3/2007 Page: 4

THE fossil-fuel industry has been the overwhelming beneficiary of the Federal Government's $500 million low-emission technology development fund, receiving $335 million of the $410 million already allocated.

The renewable-energy sector has received $75 million, with just one renewables project - a massive solar power station near Mildura - having its funding application approved by the panel appointed by the Government to distribute the $500 million fund, created in 2004. The majority of the panel members have links to the coal, mining and fossil-fuel industries.

Aside from two senior bureaucrats, the panel consists of Ken Humphreys, the technical support manager for a joint United States Government-private sector, clean-coal initiative called FutureGen; former National Australia Bank chief executive and Ashton Mining director Nobby Clark; and former CRA mining company chief executive, former BHP director and former Commonwealth Bank chairman John Ralph.

Mr Ralph made headlines last October when he questioned the link between human activity and climate change. Another panel member, Paul McClintock, was a former senior private secretary to Prime Minister John Howard and has served as chairman of Ashton Mining and Plutonic Resources and as a director of Homestake Mining.

Former Telstra chief executive Ziggy Switkowski is also on the panel. The Government last week appointed Dr Switkowski chairman of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, months after he headed a Government inquiry into the viability of nuclear power.

The Government yesterday announced $100 million from the low-emission fund for a new 400-megawatt coal-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley, which Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said would produce 30 per cent less greenhouse-gas emissions than conventional brown-coal generators.

But Australia Institute deputy director Andrew MacIntosh said the announcement was further evidence of a "one-sided process" for government funding that put coal projects far ahead of renewable energy initiatives. "The Government is being totally dictated to by the coal industry and is showing no regard for Australia's long-term interest," he said.

The low-emission technology fund also has provided $75 million to a project to extract methane from coal in Queensland, $60 million for a gas carbon storage project in Western Australia, $50 million for brown-coal drying and $50 million for a system that could be retro-fitted to Australian coal-fired power stations to make it cheaper to capture greenhouse gases.

The Age can also reveal that the Government has been receiving climate-change information from the same consultancy firm that produced a report for the Energy Supply Association of Australia in January that said cutting greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 would cost Australia $75 billion.

Documents from the Government's contract database show the Coalition has paid CRA International more than $100,000 for advice on climate-change and energy, including $11,000 for a one-day review of the British Government's Stern report on global warming.

Former Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics executive director Brian Fisher joined CRA International last October as a climate-change specialist. During his time as ABARE head, the Commonwealth Ombudsman criticised it for allowing fossil-fuel companies to fund its climate-change research.

EU sets carbon trade-off targets

The Australian
March 10, 2007
David Charter and Rory Watson, Brussels

EUROPEAN Union leaders last night agreed on a package of measures aimed at making the bloc the world leader in tackling climate change, including a binding 20 per cent target on the use of renewable fuels.

The landmark agreement - reached after two days of negotiations - commits Europe to taking the lead in fighting global warming by setting targets to cut greenhouse gases and ensures that a fifth of the bloc's energy comes from green power sources, such as wind turbines and solar panels.

"'It has been possible to, as it were, open the door to a new dimension of European co-operation for years to come in the area of energy and combating climate change," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said as she announced the plan, which also requires greenhouse gas emissions to be cut by at least 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020.

The 20 per cent target for use of renewable energy is a massive hike from the current figure of just over 6 per cent. Ms Merkel said there was still time to reduce the overall increase in global temperatures to below 2C. "We could avoid what could well be human calamity," Ms Merkel said.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the agreement showed that Europe was able to take important and firm steps on global warming. "We can say to the rest of the world: Europe is taking the lead - you should join us in fighting climate change," he said.

Ms Merkel, a former environment minister and the holder of the EU's revolving presidency, had implored her fellow European leaders to give her a strong hand at the next G8 meeting in June in Germany, when she will ask world leaders to join a post-Kyoto framework. British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that, in addition to the EU move, a G8 deal on a framework for a global agreement would create "the best chance" of getting the US, China and India to tackle climate change. "These are a set of groundbreaking, bold, ambitious targets for the European Union," Mr Blair said. "It gives Europe a clear leadership position on this crucial issue facing the world."

The deal is a compromise between nations that had demanded mandatory targets on clean energy, and eastern European nations led by Poland and Slovakia, which had said they did not have the money to meet such high targets for developing costly alternatives. Those nations said they preferred to stay with cheaper but more polluting options such as coal and oil.

While setting an overall 20per cent target for the bloc's use of renewable energy, the agreement also says individual targets will be allowed for each of the 27 EU members. Business leaders expressed disquiet at the new regulations and have warned that unilateral goals will hasten the international decline of European industry. Ernest-Antoine Seilliere, the head of the BusinessEurope employers' group, said: "In terms of binding obligations on renewables, nobody has the foggiest idea what the costs can be."