Thursday 5 April 2007

Green employment growth

Building Connection
Sunday 25/3/2007 Page: 84

Sustainability is already a job creation factor in Australia, with the renewable energy sector alone employing more than 6100 people. According to the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, the renewable energy sector has turnover of $2 billion. The employment breakdown for the sector is 1566 in hydro-electricity, 1200 in solar hot water, 1000 in wind power, 1335 in photovoltaics, 900 in biomass energy, and 120 in geothermal and wave power projects.

The number is expected to grow by at least 2000 with the help of Victoria's new renewable energy scheme, under which new renewable output will move to 10% of the State's generation capacity by 2016. The recently announced $420 million solar systems generator planned for the Mildura region will create 950 jobs during construction and provide 44 ongoing jobs when it becomes operational.

Shortages of turbines and polysilicon are holding back the clean-tech boom

Saturday 31/3/2007 Page: 68

THESE should be heady times for Vestas, a Danish firm that makes more than a quarter of the world's wind turbines. The wind business is booming, and the company said last week that it had swung into profit in 2006, thanks to an 8% rise in revenue.

But there is "significant unexploited production capacity", Vestas says, due to shortages of high-quality turbine components. Other companies grumble about a lack of gearboxes and bearings.

Wind firms' worries echo those in the solar-power business, which is also booming but where a shortage of polysilicon has hampered growth. Silicon is made from sand, which is abundant, but there are not enough refineries to turn it into solar-grade polysilicon. As a result, prices for silicon contracts have more than doubled, to $70 or $80 per kilogram, in the past three years, says Jesse Pichel, an analyst at Piper Jaffray.

In both industries demand has rocketed and supply cannot keep up. The wind business is growing by more than 30% a year worldwide, with America leading the way. (This week Energias de Portugal became the latest European utility to invest in American wind farms, with the $2.2 billion purchase of Horizon Wind Energy.) And when a solar incentive scheme took hold in Germany in 2004-05, demand in Europe roughly doubled, says Ron Kenedi of Sharp, the biggest solar-cell maker.

Supply shortages will not ease quickly in either case. Wind turbines are giant machines that require lots of parts. Several firms are building new factories: Vestas has just announced its first American plant, which will make blades in Colorado. But new factories will take several years to get up to speed. In the meantime, buyers are putting down deposits to reserve their turbines. GE Energy, the largest turbine installer in America, is already booked up until the end of next year.

Similarly, the big polysilicon producers, including Hemlock and MEMO, are expanding their capacity, says Rhone Resch of the Solar Energy Industries Association. But some of their additional output will go to chipmakers, which are still the biggest buyers of polysilicon (though the solar industry is about to take the lead). So polysilicon shortages and the associated high prices will not ease until at least 2009, Mr Pichel predicts.

Sharp opened a silicon refinery - its first, in Japan in January. Technological advances may help. As solar panels become thinner and more efficient, less silicon is needed to make each one. And new "thin film" solar cells, being promoted by Sharp and a host of start-ups, require little or no polysilicon and are thus not vulnerable to supply shortages.

The wind industry, meanwhile, is hoping that America's government will come to its aid. A federal tax credit for wind has been allowed to expire three times in recent years. Indeed, the recent spike in wind activity may be due, in part, to efforts by companies to take advantage of the current tax credit, which expires at the end of 2008, notes Vic Abate, head of renewables at GE Energy. Credits that expire every year or two cause sudden booms and busts, making it hard for turbine-makers to make longer-term plans and thus holding back the industry, say proponents of wind power. If the Democratic Congress would kindly extend the credit for ten years-and also pass a federal "renewable portfolio standard" mandating that, say, 15% of America's energy should come from solar, wind and other alternative sources-the lobbyists would be delighted.

EDP to buy Horizon Wind Energy

Saturday 31/3/2007 Page: 9

EDP, Portugal's biggest utility, said it would buy Horizon Wind Energy from Goldman Sachs. Based in Houston, Horizon operates wind farms throughout America, where wind power's generating capacity rose by 27% last year and is estimated to increase by a similar amount this year.

Hearings next week

Warrnambool Standard
Wednesday 4/4/2007 Page: 6

AN expert panel that will make a recommendation about the Hawkesdale wind farm to the Victorian Planning Minister will begin sitting next week. Plans for the $145 million wind farm include 31 turbines across 2280 hectares of farming land Hawkesdale.

Panel members Nick Wimbush. David Rae and Leon Colleett will listen to 11 submissions across four days starting at 10am next Wednesday at the Port Fairy Yacht Club. At the hearing proponent TME Australia will outline the project and call experts on shadow flicker, flora and fauna and noise issues. Two days of evidence will be given.

The following Tuesday the panel will sit at the yacht club and receive submissions from Moyne Shire, the Department of Sustainability and Environment and a neighbour to the proposed development.

On the final day, Wednesday, April 18, the panel will meet at the Hawkesdale Football Netball Club and be addressed by the Framlinghamn Aboriginal Trust and another neighbour of the project.

BCA backs emissions trade scheme

Wednesday 4/4/2007 Page: 25

AUSTRALIA'S blue chip business sector has backed the development of a comprehensive global greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme, with long-term fixed targets the cornerstone of domestic policy response to the threat of climate change. The Business Council of Australia's formal endorsement of emission trading follows six months of negotiations among its membership, which includes BHP, Rio Tinto, Alcoa and Exxon Mobil Australia.

BCA chairman Michael Chaney said a national emissions trading scheme would need to be integrated into international markets, while other strategies, including research and development of new energy technologies and energy efficiency, would also have a role to play. But the strategy fell short of formally proposing a low-emissions energy policy for Australia, focusing on setting a longterm emissions target and price curve to pull these technologies through.

The strategy is unambiguous on the importance of sustaining strong growth in the domestic and global economy as part of the solution to addressing climate change, and adamant that big emitting sectors such as metals processing and resources remain part of the domestic economy. It will be the strength of the Australian economy in the future not its diminution which will ensure Australia is able to address the potential risks associated with climate change," the BCA paper says.

Some have argued for an immediate start to phasing-out those sectors of the Australian economy which contribute most to emissions, without any apparent regard to how the livelihoods and lifestyles of all Australians are directly and indirectly linked to our current high-emission domestic and global economy." The BCA said managing the risk of climate change required a flexible policy response able to respond to the development of scientific understanding of the risk of climate change, as well as developments in energy technology.

Specifically, it proposes the use of a cap and trade scheme to meet both immediate and long-term global emission reduction targets, which can be differentiated by each country with international trading of emissions permits and credits as required. It proposes that the trading include all emissions beyond just stationary energy, including transport, deforestation, waste and industrial emissions.

The position paper will form part of the BCA's submissions to the Prime Minister's Task Group review of emissions trading in Australia, due to report at the end of May. BCA policy director Maria Tarrant said planning for such a scheme could begin now with an initial low level of targets and trading starting in a few years.

We would expect it is possible to consider development of a scheme in the short term and that you could be looking to introduce the scheme and get the systems ready sooner rather than later," Ms Tarrant said. "A framework that includes emissions trading will assist in bringing forward a range of different energy technologies over time, because you will have a forward price curve." Wind Energy chief executive Dominique La Fontaine said the renewable industry would be encouraged by the comprehensive review, but said just as important was a focus on strategies to accelerate deployment of zero and low emissions energy technologies.

"Getting emissions trading is crucial, but it's just as important to ensure you've got an organised approach to delivering the new wave of energy sources at the lowest possible cost, which a properly structured industry development policy will do," Ms La Fontaine said.

Emissions can be cut, we just need the will

Wednesday 4/4/2007 Page: 17

TOM Burke is an old hand on climate change. A veteran environmentalist, he has advised British governments on both sides of politics, and companies such as BP and now Rio Tinto. And he is one of those guys who makes his case with startling clarity. Amid the wealth of interesting and valuable points made at Labor's national climate change summit in Canberra on Saturday, one of his comments cut to the heart of the issue.

Noting that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have already risen close to the 400 parts per million seen as "the threshold of dangerous climate change", that the International Energy Agency forecasts that global emissions are on track to increase by a further 50 per cent by 2030, and that coal remains central to the world economy, he paused, then added with deliberate emphasis: "This is an issue on which we can't afford policy failure.

There is no rewind button. We won't get a second chance to fix it." You can have a million arguments about global warming, how serious it will be, and what we should do. As Graeme Pearman, formerly the CSIRO's top climate change scientist, declared frankly: "We don't know all the science. We don't know all the solutions. We have to deal with that, and manage the risk." But after you've had the million arguments, when all is said and done, the ultimate truth left is the one stated by Tom Burke: this is an issue on which we can't get afford to get it wrong. Burke drew a parallel with the 1930s, when the democracies failed to face up to what Churchill called "the gathering storm": the threat from Nazi Germany.

"Bad as climate change has become, it is still a manageable problem, within the envelope of our technical and economic competence," he said. "But it is clear that in the near future, it will become an unmanageable problem, unless we act decisively." In which direction? A recurring theme of the summit was that there is no one solution. We need a strong policy framework of economic incentives for clean energy sources and efficient energy use. And we need to accelerate research, development and take-up of a wide range of technologies, to maximise the chance of getting low-cost solutions that work.

Burke puts the goal simply: "We need to get carbon out of our energy system, and keep it out forever. We have to make our energy system carbon-neutral by the middle of the century." That's a heck of a challenge.

But Burke argues it's a feasible one, given the potential for cost-effective technologies in four areas:
  • Carbon capture and storage, with the goal of making coalfired generation carbon-free.
  • Hydrogen fuel-cells in transport, to phase out use of petrol.
  • Energy efficiency, which the IEA says could cut the world's energy demand in 2050 by half today's demand level.
  • Renewable energies such as wind, solar, biomass - and the surprise newcomer, geothermal energy.
How do we get there? Business leaders such as Charlie Lenegan, CEO of Rio Tinto Australia, and Tim Sims, managing director of Pacific Energy Partners, said the first step must be to put a price on carbon, through an emissions trading scheme (the global favourite) or a carbon tax. Change the prices enough, and you create incentives and disincentives that make business and households change their behaviour. Sims said government should "seize the initiative by acting early". Its initial focus should be on increasing energy efficiency, where easy gains can be made.

Thirty per cent of emissions make no sense, he said, because cutting energy waste would make consumers better off. "We need to regulate to ensure that people pick up the $100 notes lying on the street." The Government's emissions trading taskforce will report back next month. With Labor already committed to an emissions trading scheme, and business now strongly in favour, Prime Minister John Howard is expected to drop his longstanding opposition, and endorse a scheme before the election. But it will be the party winning the election that will decide its shape.

The design will be crucial. The states' own taskforce has proposed a good model for rolling 10-year target zones in setting carbon prices. It's a compromise that would give business a degree of certainty while preserving the Government's flexibility to shift tack gradually if the urgency of taking action changes. The states' model, however, proposes scoring an own goal by giving free allocations of emission permits not only to energy-intensive export industries such as aluminium (which makes sense) but also to electricity generators (which doesn't).

As CSIRO economist Steve Hatfield-Dodds pointed out, the generators have known for years that carbon pricing will come. Effectively exempting the electricity sector would be a brake on efficiency gains when we desperately need to accelerate them. The timing is crucial. It will be 15 to 20 years before the cleaner technologies we are looking to - carbon capture and storage, nuclear, geothermal and other renewables - will have any significant impact.

Making rapid gains in energy efficiency would allow us to put off new power stations until clean technologies are proven and economic. Picking up those $100 notes buys us time. The cost of halving emissions by 2050 is minor. Australia's GDP per head would still double. Annual growth in GDP would fall by about 0.2 per cent. This is not fanaticism, and it would not wreck the economy. The Howard Government should cut the hot air and get on board.

Renewable energy solutions

Coffs Coast Advocate
Wednesday 4/4/2007 Page: 39

WHILE it's never easy being green, environmentally friendly solar and wind power systems have become a mature and proven technology. The vast majority of public opinion now firmly advocates installing renewable energy solutions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Though the capital cost is high, the environmental costs of not doing so is now seen as being higher. Governments at all levels are now increasingly under pressure to show their green credentials. Many local governments are taking the plunge and installing landmark systems that are showing the way for the wider community.

Solar Inverters is a family-owned and operated company which has been a part of this ever-growing renewable energy industry for the past 17 years. The company supplies and installs renewable energy products for grid connect, stand-alone systems, motor homes and marine systems.

Their speciality is in servicing inverters, which is the heart of a solar system, converting the power from the sun or wind into a usable energy for domestic applications. Over the years the company has installed and maintained many systems around Australia and in the Asian and South Pacific regions.

Major companies such as Selectronic Australia, Xantrex America, Outback America and Victron Energy from Europe have shown their trust by appointing Solar Inverters as their service centre in Australia.

Tuesday 3 April 2007

Our Nuclear Temptation Fiddling while the globe warms

Adelaide Review
Friday 30/3/2007 Page: 6

John Howard should be positioning Australia to be a world leader in the manufacture and application of renewable energy technologies. He should underpin this by committing Australia to generating 50 per cent of our energy needs from renewable sources by 2015. Nuclear should not be part of the mix.

Risk-free and proven technologies like solar, wind, wave and hydroelectric technologies can provide the solutions that Australia needs. The renewable energy generation path in combination with energy efficiency measures offers the most environmentally sustainable, socially responsible and immediately available solution to greenhouse gas reduction.

Nuclear power generation on the other hand is extremely costly, inherently risky, controversial and extremely slow to bring on line - ten years minimum. While the latest generation of reactors might be low risk, the possibility of catastrophic failure remains.

This compels us to apply the precautionary principle - the risk is too high and the consequences too dire to adopt the technology. Equally, the problems of nuclear proliferation and the hazards associated with the movement and disposal of spent uranium presents future generations with unacceptably high risks.

Some proponents of nuclear power suggest that these risks are outweighed by the threats that global warming presents. They argue that we have no alternative but to include nuclear power in the energy generation mix. But does the end justify the means in this situation? The reality now is that nations around the world are jumping on the renewable energy bandwagon for just this reason. Recently the Portuguese Government announced investments in excess of US$10 billion in renewable energy projects over the next five years.

Sweden and Austria are leading the way while the unlikely Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of one of the world's largest economies, has committed California to an ambitious renewable energy plan. Meanwhile, John Howard prefers to play wedge politics with the nuclear issue, hoping to promote division within the Labor Party on the mining and export of uranium. Community concerns about the safety of nuclear power plants, disposal of radioactive waste and nuclear proliferation abound.

The government will find it difficult if not impossible to allay these fears. It will also find it very hard to convince Australians that nuclear power makes economic sense. At around twice the price of power generated from dirty, coal-fired power stations, nuclear power is very expensive.

The reality is that nuclear cannot compete with coal in the absence of a carbon tax or subsidies. This would force the cost of coal generated electricity up, making nuclear and other options like solar, wind and geothermal more competitive. Over a relatively rapid period of time these technologies can displace the use of fossil-fuel-powered generators, positioning Australia as a world leader in the manufacturing and application of safe and carbon free renewable energy sources.

The race is on internationally with China emerging as a potential solar generation technology giant. The problem for Australia is that we are exporting too much of our solar expertise and not enough finished solar product Take the example of Shi Zhengrong who left his position in Australia as a solar technology researcher at the University of New South Wales in the early 1990s to realise his goal of successfully commercialising solar technologies. He now leads the $40 billion dollar Suntech solar manufacturing company employing over 2500 people in China. The company is 30 per cent Australian owned. Shi Zhengrong is set to export his goods back to Australia.

Australia is a renewable energy laggard. The Swedish government has committed itself to being oil free by 2020 and has put in place a raft of policy carrots and sticks that put Sweden firmly on the path to a renewable energy future. This does not involve the expansion of its nuclear energy program. Portugal has set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets which includes generating 40 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2010.

John Howard appears to be fiddling while the globe warms.

Yale professor calls for carbon market

Tuesday 3/4/2007 Page: 2

THE president of Yale University says Australia is in danger of becoming a backwater if its government and leading institutions do not adequately respond to climate change. Richard Levin, who is in Australia to meet with the International Alliance of Research Universities, called on Australia to show leadership on emissions trading or risk being left behind.

Professor Levin, who has been president of Yale since 1993, said it was the responsibility of developed nations, such as Australia and the US, to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and help establish a market that would set a price on carbon.

"I certainly do think they need to step up," he said. `A global emissions trading systems is what we ultimately need. .. It is going to be hard to get Australia and the US in the boat, even harder to get some of the developing countries on board. "You really do need a cap, and that would set an accurate price on the cost of carbon.

"You need taxation for the retail users, you need to have high taxes, that is the only way you are going to reduce consumption." The International Alliance of Research Universities, which includes Cambridge, Oxford and the Australian National University, met in Canberra last week to discuss issues including the higher education sector's response to climate change.

Professor Levin said Yale had committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to about 150,000 tonnes by 2020, a 43 per cent decrease from 2005. He said it would cost almost $US10 million ($A12.3 million) a year towards the end of that period to achieve the goal.

Some Victorian universities said they had already set targets. Monash University's vicechancellor's group has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent on 2005 figures by 2010 while its Clayton campus uses 13 per cent green energy. The University of Melbourne said it believed it was the first institution to buy green energy five years ago, and was reviewing an audit of its Parkville campus.

Professor Levin's comments come as Australian companies such as Global Renewables look towards Europe for business growth. Casey Cahill, a spokesman for GRD Limited, parent company of Global Renewables, rejected suggestions the company was planning to quit Australia after winning a $5 billion recycling contract in Britain.

Renewable Energy Generators Australia chief executive Susan Jeanes, a former Howard Government MP, warned that jobs and money would continue to be lost overseas until the Government levelled the playing field.

"There are more jobs in providing a megawatt hour of renewable energy than fossil fuel energy, because they're hightech specialist jobs. "But the only way we'll get the investment in those jobs and in renewable energy is with a nationally consistent energy policy, which clearly we don't have," said Ms Jeanes.


Judge OKs global warming suit against government

Chicago Sun-Times
April 1, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal judge has advanced a lawsuit against the government over its funding of overseas projects that environmental groups say contribute to climate change.
The lawsuit, filed by environmental groups and four U.S. cities, claims the overseas projects will hurt the U.S. environment because the effects of global warming will be felt at home, and seeks to require the same environmental reviews that are required for domestic projects.

The Bush administration argued last year that the ''alleged impacts of global climate change are too remote and speculative'' to require the reviews.

In allowing the lawsuit to proceed, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White on Friday cast doubt on the administration's assertion that disagreements remain about the connection between human activity and climate change. He also cited increased attention on the issue in the media, including Al Gore's documentary, ''An Inconvenient Truth.''

The lawsuit names two agencies -- the Overseas Private Investment Corp. and the Export-Import Bank of the United States -- that insure billions of dollars of U.S. investors' money for foreign projects, including power plants that emit greenhouse gases.

Monday 2 April 2007

Economy drops as voter priority: Climate claims top of agenda

Herald Sun
Saturday 31/3/2007 Page: 16

FOUR out of five Australians want legal action on greenhouse emissions and would support legislation for more efficient homes and cars. They also believe Australia should be leading the world in clean energy technology such as solar and wind power, according to a report by the Climate Institute Australia.

The report, released today, shows climate change is a potential vote changer, with 66 per cent of people saying they would be more likely to vote for a political party with a strong, clear climate change plan. It includes the results of a poll of 1000 voters, taken this month, and draws on research conducted in the past five years to track Australia's changing attitude to climate change. The Climate of the Nation report comes as debate about climate change continues in Federal Parliament ahead of an election later this year.

While Prime Minister John Howard continues to highlight his Government's record on financial management and national security, the report found these issues now rank second to climate change among voter concerns. "Not only is concern at an all time high, but climate change now ranks as more important to people than a wide range of issues including housing affordability and national security." the report said.

"Many people are worried about the legacy they will be leaving for their children's futures. Some believe it may be too late to solve climate change." The report found: 81 per cent of voters believe governments should make Australia a world leader in finding solutions to climate change 71 per cent believe our politicians are failing to lead on climate change. 86 per cent of people support a quarter of Australia's electricity generation coming from clean energy like wind and solar by 2020.

The report comes as a leaked copy of the second UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report shows Australia will be hit with more frequent and intense droughts, floods, bushfires and heatwaves. The second IPCC report - Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability - will be released on Good Friday and contains a chapter on Australia and New Zealand. The draft report warns Australia's temperature could rise by between 0.3C and 3.4C by 2050.

Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday that the information was well known to the Government. "The IPCC report is based on peer-reviewed published science, everything in there is well known to us, we know that there is the possibility or the probability of a hotter and drier future in southern Australia," Mr Turnbull told ABC radio.

"We have a whole climate change adaptation framework under way." But Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd, who will host a national climate change summit in Canberra today, said the Government was out of touch claiming there was nothing new in the report. "It talks about the possible destruction of Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef, it talks about increased deaths arising from more intense heat waves in this country," Mr Rudd said.

"And Mr Howard's Environment Minister says there's nothing new in this. "Well, this underlies one core fact: when it comes to climate change, Mr Howard is radically out of touch with the challenge now and for the future." Mr Rudd said Labor set a target of 60 per cent emission cuts by 2050.

Wind farm to power homes by early 2009

Canberra Times
Saturday 31/3/2007 Page: 4

Construction of a 63-turbine wind farm near Bungendore is due to begin late this year, with electricity production expected by the first quarter of 2009. But another wind farm project at Hall has been cancelled and a 25-turbine farm near Tarago remains on hold. Development approval for the Bungendore project, to be the largest wind farm in NSW and estimated to produce enough electricity for 52,000 houses, was given last November.

Yesterday chief executive officer of Renewable Power Ventures David Griffin said the project, which would cost about $300 million, would certainly go ahead but would not say whether a purchaser for electricity from the wind farm had been confirmed.

Despite strong opposition to the project by residents, it was supported by the Palerang Council and by Conservation Council South East Region and Canberra director Trish Harrup. When the wind farm begins producing electricity, two of its strongest critics, Bill and Julie Gray, plan to be living elsewhere. They now live about 2km from the site of the nearest proposed turbine. Mr Gray's greatest concern was the lack of debate over wind farms.

He said the technology was unproven and there was no evidence to show how much electricity the farms produced, but people felt they had to do something to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"In Australia, we have the greatest solar source, but we want to go down the path of wind farms." Though other wind firms, including the Tarago project, are at best on hold, Mr Griffin said initiatives by the Victorian and NSW governments would ensure a large requirement for renewable electricity. Wind would take up a large proportion of that supply.

Though the Federal Government's Mandatory Renewable Energy Target has effectively been achieved, several jurisdictions have established their own targets. The NSW Government plans a renewable energy target of 10 per cent of the state's end use consumption by 2010 and 15 per cent by 2020.

Meanwhile, a 25-turbine wind farm on the Woodlawn and Pylara properties near Tarago remains stalled, despite having obtained development approval in October 2005. ActewAGL is a joint-venture partner in that project. ActewAGL general manager of business systems Carsten Larsen said its proposed wind farm at Mt Spring, near Hall, had been cancelled.

"We could not make the economics work," he said. There was still no purchaser for electricity from the Tarago project. Its immediate future would depend on the price at which NSW set mandatory renewable energy certificates. The Federal Government's certificates could be sold for about $44 per megawatt hour, which offset the extra cost of wind-generated electricity. "The Tarago site will go ahead when the economics are right," Mr Larsen said.

State Economy: $2.3bn projects to lift engineering sector

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 31/3/2007 Page: 15

INFRASTRUCTURE projects including new mines and wind farms are driving a 35 per cent leap this year in engineering construction in South Australia. Economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel says mining, energy and road infrastructure projects will see a strong rebound in engineering construction to around $2.3 billion this financial year.

The list of work includes the $300 million second stage of the Lake Bonney wind farm, $775 million Prominent Hill gold and copper project, and 60 per cent rise in electricity infrastructure spending to $600 million.

Offshore wind farm one step nearer

Australian Financial Review
Monday 2/4/2007 Page: 9

The state of Massachusetts on the weekend granted environmental approval to a proposal for the United States' first offshore wind farm at Cape Cod. The Cape Wind project is for 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, and would provide up to 79 per cent of electricity for the cape, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles said the environmental report for Cape Wind was satisfactory, despite critics, including residents, raising concerns about the impact on the fishing industry, tourism, bird habitat, ocean navigation, the marine environment and views from summer homes. A federal review is still required.

Geothermal power may play big part soon

Monday 2/4/2007 Page: 2

Geothermal energy could meet up to 10 per cent of Australia's electricity consumption by 2050, the Federal Government believes. And unlike other renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, geothermal sources have the potential to meet baseload power (24 hours) needs.

Canberra last week hosted the first meeting of the geothermal industry round table. Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane and Environment and Water Resources Minister Malcolm Turnbull hosted the meeting. Mr Macfarlane said the Government would work with industry on a geothermal industry development framework that would act as a guide for the long- term development of this emerging energy sector, dominated by potential hot-rock developments.

The Government has invested more than $27 million in research and development in geothermal energy projects since 2000. Mr Turnbull said a key benefit of geothermal energy was its ability to produce energy without greenhouse gas emissions. "Large-scale geothermal power plants have the potential to substantially reduce Australia's carbon dioxide emissions," he said. "The success of the sector will depend on the readiness of industry, research and government to work together," Mr Macfarlane said.

Renewed hope for renewables, but not business migrants

Monday 2/4/2007 Page: 1

HALF of Australia's electricity could be supplied through renewable energy by 2040, according to a report that also recommends limiting Australia's immigration in order to deal with our greenhouse gas emissions. The report, to be released today by Mark Diesendorf, director of the sustainability centre at the University of New South Wales, states that a combination of renewable energy sources could power all of Australia's grid electricity in about 40 years without having to resort to brown coal or nuclear power.

Dr Diesendorf hoped the report, The Base Load Fallacy, would "blow open the myth that renewables were unable to provide Australia's base load electricity needs", saying a mixture of bio-energy, solar thermal, geothermal and wind power could provide the answer. "Some opponents of renewable energy are claiming that renewable energy cannot provide base load electricity but it is a myth put out there by the coal and nuclear industries," he said. After 2050 there could be a situation where the vast majority if not all of Australia's electricity comes from renewable sources.

Maybe 20 per cent from wind, maybe 20 per cent from bioenergy, maybe 30 or 40 per cent from solar thermal electricity and solar photovoltaic as well as some from geothermal." Dr Diesendorf said the Federal Government should also look at implementing a population policy and cap the number of business migrants.

"Australia has the world's highest per capita emissions of greenhouse gases and everyone who comes to Australia as an immigrant is going to increase their greenhouse gas emissions on average - so population policy is part of the whole scheme of controlling greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "The issue is immigration, particularly immigration of business and professional people. We could have a situation where we increase our immigration of refugees. .. but we would have to put a limit on our professional and business immigrants, which are quite large." An increased population would also limit the amount of land needed for wind farms and bio-energy if they were to provide enough energy to be able to phase out coal-fired electricity.

He said the Federal Government should also look at providing more funding for better training and education instead of trying to solve the skills shortage by importing labour. Dr Diesendorf said Australia needed to move past the cost argument if it was to significantly cut its greenhouse gas emissions.