Tuesday 24 April 2007

Snowtown boost as wind farm gears up: First stage in $200 million construction program

Plains Producer
Wednesday 18/4/2007 Page: 9

Construction has begun on a $200 million wind farm west of Snowtown. The wind farm, which has been described as a "beachhead project" in Australia by New Zealand-based renewable power generator, and retailer TrustPower, comprises 42 wind turbines on the Hummocks and Barunga Ranges. The wind farm will have a capacity of 88MW, enough to power 60,000 average South Australian homes, and could expand to be three times the size.

The first stage of the wind farm will employ up to 170 people during peak construction times, and will require four full-time employees when completed. It is expected to return more than $1 million a year to the Snowtown community on an ongoing basis. "Stage one will use only about one third of the available wind farm site, leaving the opportunity for further stages in the future," said TrustPower chief executive, Keith Tempest.

A total of 130 turbines has been approved for the site, which will be developed progressively according to market demand. "Snowtown is ideally located on the transmission grid and has a superior wind resource," Mr Tempest said. He expects the wind farm to operate at about 45 per cent capacity, compared with the industry average of 30 per cent. Mr Tempest said long term energy and renewable credit agreements were in place which would secure the wind farm's revenue stream for at least the next 10 years. The company is now looking at further opportunities to invest in wind farms in SA and other parts of Australia.

Under an engineer/procure/construct turnkey agreement with Suzlon Energy Australia, 42 Suzlon S88 2.1 MW wind turbines will be located at the Snowtown site. Suzlon will also provide operations and maintenance services to TrustPower once the wind farm is fully commissioned, which will take place progressively from April to November next year. South Australian electricity transmission company ElectraNet will construct a high voltage substation and a short transmission line to connect the new wind farm with the existing ElectraNet state power grid. Final output is expected to be 350 GWh of electricity each year, saving more than 345,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

Geothermal to bring power to people: Hot future for rocks

Sunday Examiner
Sunday 22/4/2007 Page: 11

Tasmania looks to alternatives for its future energy needs.

DIRE warnings of the effects of global warming are focusing attention on renewable forms of energy. In Tasmania hydro-electricity water storages are at historic lows and gas supplies from Victoria have been restricted due to plant maintenance. Hydro Tasmania spent an additional $70 million in the past 12 months on imported power via Basslink and the gas pipeline.

Roaring 40s' Woolnorth wind farm is now complete and capable of producing 140MW, however full production is not expected until transmission line upgrades are completed at the end of the year. However, the State is poised to tap into another form of renewable energy - geothermal or hot rock energy.

In 2005 Hobart-based KUTh Exploration received the State's first special exploration licence to search for suitable sites in the North-East. Its first project is well under way. Unlike hydro-electricity generation, HRE does not create environmental problems with large-scale flooding and disruption to natural river flow systems. Nor does it compete with other users for water or create noise nuisance or visual pollution sometimes claimed of wind generation. It produces zero-emissions and provides base load electricity that does not depend on wind, sun or rain.

HRE research worldwide is being pushed by the ongoing fossil fuel supply squeeze, concern with global warming and political and social change towards sustainable energy practice. Some estimates indicate there is enough geothermal energy present in Australia to provide all of the country's electricity requirements for several thousand years.

Two companies have been at the forefront of Australian research: Queensland-based Geodynamics Ltd and South Australian company Petratherm. Geodynamics is confidant of putting its first power into the grid by 2010.

Climate change fires up Ballarat

Ballarat Courier
Monday 23/4/2007 Page: 3

A COMMUNITY action group met at the weekend to think of ways ordinary people can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of climate change. The Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions group met at the Ballarat Mining Exchange on Saturday to brainstorm the best ways ordinary people can make a difference.

Organisers said about 140 people attended the event, and BREAZE committee member Steve Burns said the group was not about playing politics, but adopting a policy of local solutions to climate change. "I have never seen an issue like this (climate change) fire-up the way it has in Ballarat," he said.

"Climate change goes across party lines and I think the feeling in the Ballarat community is a dry Lake Wendouree has been the catalyst for people to become involved in ways to try and reduce the impact we are having on the environment." Mr Burns said the key to the success of the group was providing practical and easy solutions that people could easily adopt to do their part for the environment.

"People want to do practical things and want to know how to snake their house more environmentally friendly, or lead a more sustainable lifestyle," he said. Mr Burns said smaller groups would now be formed after the brainstorm to think of ways the ideas can be implemented in Ballarat.

For more details visit: http://breig.baltree.info/portal/index.php?page=home.

Lake Bolac energy push Group calls for green power

Warrnambool Standard
Tuesday 24/4/2007 Page: 5

DROUGHT-STRICKEN Lake Bolac residents have joined forces to urge the Federal Government - and even Arnold Schwarzenegger -to embrace renewable energy in the fight against global warming. The Lake Bolac Eel Festival Committee yesterday sent a communique to the Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull urging him to consider the long-term benefits of green power. An environmental forum, held as part of the recent festival, heard from a leading New South Wales green energy activist, Howard Morrison, who emphasised the potential for consistent renewable sources such as wave energy.

The communique was also sent to environmentalist and Australian of the Year Tim Flannery, Opposition environment spokesman Peter Garrett as well as international sustainability leaders including, California Governor Mr Schwarzenegger and Canadian environmental scientist David Suzuki. "The drought is severely affecting our community. The lake is drying up and the eels are dead," the communique said.

"This drought, on balance, appears to be related to global warming." David Allen, chairman of the eel festival committee, who runs cattle and sheep on his Woorndoo property, said he has seen the effects of climate change first-hand. "Being a farmer and waiting for rain it's particularly relevant for me and it's hard to believe it's not related to global warming," Mr Allen said. "The main aim of the communique is to get the Government to open its eyes. .. coal is yesterday's energy form - it's ancient.

"We should be smart enough to use cleaner sources of energy." "One of the things (Howard Morrison) is saying is that wave energy is a lot more constant." A wave-powered generator currently operating in Port Campbell created enough energy to power 500 homes, Mr Allen said. Inland areas such as Lake Bolac could one day install local renewable sources to feed directly into its power grid, he said. Only 15 per cent of the power produced at Gippsland's Yallourn coal-fired plant reached consumers in the south-west, with much of it lost on its long journey, Mr Allen said.

ANZ $225m blow

Tuesday 24/4/2007 Page: 21

ANZ's Energy Infrastructure Trust has snapped up one of Australia's largest wind farms, the Wattle Point Wind Farm, in South Australia for $225 million from takeover target Alinta. Under a proposed scheme of arrangement with Babcock and Brown and Singapore Power, which plan to acquire Alinta for $7.4 billion, B&B Wind Partners will receive $211 million of the sale proceeds.

Clean coal as tricky as nuclear waste, says BHP board member

Mining Chronicle
April, 2007 Page: 38

A key BHP Billiton board member's doubts on the future of clean coal technology was a significant warning to the major parties about the coal industry's future, say the Greens. Both the government and Labor have either committed or promised to commit hundreds of millions of dollars on technologies to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal, one of the chief culprits in causing global warming.

But Paul Anderson, a board member with Australia's biggest company BHP Billiton, and a former head of BHP, told the Sydney Morning Herald that long-term storage of carbon waste - one of the key clean coal technologies - may be as difficult as dealing with nuclear waste. Mr Anderson, mindful of widespread community dislike of nuclear energy due to the problem of storing its waste, asked how people could warm to the idea of storing V02 underground, as has been proposed. "I think it's as big as the issue of nuclear waste. What are you going to do with millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide that is not nearly as compact as nuclear waste?" he told the paper.

Greens senator Christine Milne said Mr Anderson was the first person from the resource sector prepared to admit that clean coal was decades away, if ever attainable. "He also highlights the problems associated with trying to bury carbon dioxide for thousands of years into the future," she said. "What he's saying is that nuclear waste is a problem but so too is carbon dioxide.

"What it demonstrates is that we would be far better to put the money that is going into clean coal research right now into rolling out renewables, which can address greenhouse gases now that the government's enthusiasm for clean is a make work program for the coal industry." Senator Milne said clean coal technology was at least 15-20 years away and if the coal industry wanted to do research on clean coal it was the coal industry's prerogative, but public funding should go to the research on renewable energies. "It's the first shot across the bows of the prime minister and the opposition leader Kevin Rudd on clean coal," Senator Milne said.

Monday 23 April 2007

Wind and gas offshore energy project given green light

Oil & Gas Australia
March, 2007 Page: 58

A UNIQUE dual energy scheme to be sited off the Cumbrian coast was given the go-ahead recently by the UK Energy Minister, Lord Truscott. The Ormonde project from Eclipse Energy will be sited 10 km from Walney Island near Barrow in Furness. This innovative hybrid development has the potential to generate up to 200 MW of electricity with almost half coming from the wind farm comprising up to 30 turbines. This is enough clean energy for around 70,000 homes.

When the wind isn't sufficient, power will still come via conventional gas sources pumped from two fields in nearby Morecambe Bay for which UK DTI approval has also been sought. "The Ormonde scheme is unusual in that it will combine wind and gas power to produce continuous electricity for the region. It is an exciting and innovative technological first that will make a contribution to our renewable energy aims," said Lord Truscott.

Two sides to the wind farm debate

Oberon Review
Thursday 19/4/2007 Page: 3

While there has been plenty of opposition to the proposed wind turbines slated to be erected around the village of Black Springs, those who are in favour of the alternative energy source have jumped to the defence of the idea. The main source of concern for those against the development has been decreasing land values, noise, aesthetic drawbacks, as well as the likelihood of the power created being diverted to the Melbourne electricity grid.

Jonathan Slottje however sees the proposal as a positive for the area and disagrees with the anti-wind farm standpoint. "I think it (the wind farm) is a good thing because renewable energy is something that we desperately need," said Mr Slottje, a Black Springs-based businessman. "It is also a good passive income for farmers to be earning during what has been a terrible drought," he said.

"Renewable energy is a massive industry in the United States, especially in California, sadly we have people moving over there and taking renewable energy technology with them because they are not able to use it a lot of the time in Australia," he added in reference to solar power, which is struggling in Australia due to lack of sponsorship and funding.

Mr Slottje and his family have been in Black Springs for several years operating a manufacturing business, and despite all the talk during that time regarding the drawbacks of the wind turbines, he says he has not seen any evidence of land devaluation in that time despite the pending establishment of the structures.

"As far as property values go, I know one farmer who is selling his property - not because of the wind farm - and he has managed to have his property listed for a substantial amount with no effects at all from the turbines," he said. "I don't think aesthetically they look ugly. I'm also in favour of something that may create a number of jobs in Black Springs," he said.

Mr Slottje added that although Blayney has been cited by several people as one community that has been adversely affected by the turbines, during a recent visit to the town he observed that they had used their wind farm as a positive aspect and incorporated it into their town identity and tourism campaigns. - "In terms of noise also, we have trail bikes in the village all the time and they make a ridiculous amount of noise. The turbines will be out of the village so I can't see how it would be any worse than the bikes," he said.

Mark and Michelle Culley, who also live in the village, have both come out in favour of the wind farm due to the alternatives it offers to the usual sources of power. "I'm definitely in favour of renewable energy. We just can't keep tearing coal out of the ground, it's as simple as that," Mark Culley said. "I don't personally think they are the best looking things, but alternative sources of energy are very important," he said.

Michelle Culley was similarly positive about the proposal. "One of the positives will be that even though it is just our little eight or nine turbines here, if people stop arguing and other places got involved with renewable energy, it would ease the burden on water and coal usage," she said. "I'd rather not see a nuclear power plant in the area, and I would be interested to see what the opponents of the wind farm would say if they were told a nuclear plant was to be built," she said.

"As far as noise goes, trucks rumble past at 4 in the morning, and our bedroom rattles, and that happens a hundred times a day, so I can't see how the turbines would be worse." Mrs Culley added that she is concerned about the possible repercussions for some of the landholders who will be having the structures built on their property if the proposal is to be approved.

"People also have to remember that it is still just a proposal - nothing has been decided yet, and it is still being looked at to see if it is viable," Michelle said. "The bottom line for me is, I really have no problem with the idea. There will probably be a little bit of noise, but we have to make these sacrifices for the things we want, and I don't think a little bit of noise should matter." The debate about the development looks set to continue for some time to come.

Warming a big concern in marginals

Sydney Morning Herald
Saturday 21/4/2007 Page: 6

A MAJORITY of voters in key marginal seats believe that Australia should greatly boost its efforts to combat global warming even if it affects business profits and puts up the price of their own electricity bills, the chief coal mining union has found. The majority of those polled by the union on attitudes to climate change also believed the Federal Government "has done nothing about climate change".

And about 62 per cent said they agreed or strongly agreed that "the Liberal Government is too close to big business and won't take any serious steps to stop businesses polluting". The poll of 800 voters in marginal seats around the country was conducted last month for the national mining and energy branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, headed by its president, Tony Maher.

The research will help the leftwing union and the Labor Party steer a rocky course between supporting coal miners' jobs and policies to combat climate change in the election campaign due later this year. The polling shows climate change may already be a vote changing issue in the marginal seats, hurting the Government. Ninety-five per cent of the marginal voters polled wanted more government investment in renewable energy, such as solar and wind energy.

Renewable energy will create jobs and keep power bills low: report

West Australian
Monday 23/4/2007 Page: 4

Introducing a 25 per cent renewable energy target by 2020 would create 16,000 jobs and generate $33 billion in new investment, a report from three conservation groups has found. The report, to be released today, found that household electricity bills would rise just $1.25 a week and annual greenhouse emissions would be reduced by 69 million tonnes a year if a quarter of Australia's energy came from renewable sources.

The study, A Bright Future: 25 per cent Renewable Energy for Australia by 2020, also advocated a carbon pricing system and said fossil fuelled power stations needed to be made more efficient. It warned that Australia was missing out on the economic benefits of renewable energy and lagging behind European nations which had boosted their targets.

"Generating a quarter of our electricity from renewable energy and reversing electricity growth from 2010 onwards by ambitious energy efficiency measures would reduce overall electricity emissions to 160 million tonnes," it said. "The reduction of about 100 million tonnes, compared with business as usual, would be equivalent to removing all the road transport in Australia." About 8 per cent of Australia's energy comes from renewables such as wind, solar and hydro.

The report, from Greenpeace, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Climate Action Network, said a 25 per cent target would increase the number of energy jobs to 33,000 and add $64 a year to an average household's electricity bill. "In contrast, current projections for businesses usual electricity use could see average household electricity bills increase by $234 per year," the report said.

Greenpeace energy campaigner Mark Wakeham said Australia should be a world leader in renewable sources. "With our current policies, Australia's amount of renewable energy will only total 10 per cent by 2020.

Meanwhile, other countries and regions are leaving us behind with their smart targets, for example the EU is boosting its renewable energy to 21 per cent by 2010 and California has a target of 33 per cent by 2020." WA has a non-legislated 6 per cent renewable energy by 2010 target for the South-West grid.

The report comes amid growing pressure for targets to be introduced. In February, a report by the Government's Greenhouse and Energy Taskforce said WA should aim to derive 20 per cent of all electricity used in Perth and the South-West from renewable sources by 2020.

Wind farm hopes reborn

Launceston Examiner
Monday 23/4/2007 Page: 10

DORSET Mayor Peter Partridge has welcomed news of a potential revival of the stalled $230 million Musselroe Bay wind farm on the North-East coast. Renewable energy company Roaring 40s made the optimistic prediction earlier this month after a move by the Victorian Government to introduce its own Victorian Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets scheme. The NSW Government has also indicated it could introduce such a scheme. The MRET proposal allows viable electricity retailers in NSW to offset their renewable energy liability against projects outside NSW.

Cr Partridge said he was excited to see the project gaining momentum after Roaring 40s shelved it last year when the Federal Government refused to increase its MRETs. "We've done a fair bit of work on the Musselroe project and we think it's a very worthwhile project," Cr Partridge said. "It's a renewable energy. The wind is wonderful - you use it and it goes past and you can use it again if you want to. "To see it come to fruition, that would be wonderful.

"It would create employment and it's a non-polluting industry; that's the sort of industry that we'd like to see (in the Dorset municipality)." He said his council had been doing all it could behind the scenes to breathe life back into the project, such as lobbying federal politicians. He said he didn't have figures on how many people would be employed at the wind farm once it was operating, but said there would be employment opportunities during the initial construction phase.

Wind farm threat to rare orchid

Geraldton Guardian
Monday 23/4/2007 Page: 9

A RARE orchid found only in the Mid West is holding up the development of the Kalbarri wind farm. The Northern Dwarfed Spider Orchid is scattered around the Mid West from Northampton to north of Murchison and is so rare it's listed as a threatened species. The orchid is also located on the site where Verve Energy is planning to place its `mini' wind farm, to alleviate some of Kalbarri's power problems.

Verve is planning to install two 1.6 megawatt wind turbines to provide Kalbarri with additional power capabilities. Peter Winner from Verve Energy said the orchid grows 200 metres from the site where the turbines are planned to be built. "There are reported sightings 200 metres from the turbines, but they haven't been seen there for 30 years," he said.

Kelly Gillian from the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) said the orchids were scattered around the region and hard to locate. "They (the orchids) are hard to locate and are only found in a few places, most of them have been cleared out," Mr Gillian said. "We need to protect their habitat." Mr Winner said Verve Energy was working with DEC to ensure the development could go ahead as well as protecting the native species.

Mr Gillian said that Verve would now have to seek approval from the Minister's office to go ahead with the development. "Due to the flower's status as a threatened species the company will have to get approval from the Minister, which they are seeking now," he said.

"They have to get permission to clear the land where the orchids grow and permission will be granted if it is deemed that clearing that land will not have a detrimental effect on the species' chance of survival." The wind farm was originally scheduled to be completed by March of this year, however Mr Winner said due to setbacks the building was yet to start. Mr Winner said the latest setback had not lost the project any money, just time, and he expected the farm to be completed in `a couple of months'.

Going green for as little as $1.23 a week

Burnie Advocate
Monday 23/4/2007 Page: 12

CANBERRA - Household electricity bills would rise by just $1.23 a week if a quarter of Australia's energy came from renewable sources, a report has found. The report by three green groups says setting a renewable energy target of 25 per cent by the year 2020 would deliver more than 16,000 new jobs, slash greenhouse gas emissions by 69 million tonnes and generate $33 billion in investment.

Although the average power bill would rise by $64 a year, continuing to rely on current power sources would cause prices to jump by $234 a year. The study, A Bright Future, was released yesterday by the Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace and the Climate Action Network. It warns Australia is missing out on the economic benefits of renewable energy that are flowing to California and European nations which have boosted their renewable energy targets.

China cool on nuclear power

Australian Financial Review
Monday 23/4/2007 Page: 13

China's top planning agency says a shortage of uranium will ensure nuclear plants remain a 'supplementary' source of power, and that coal and oil will continue to be relied upon for energy. China National Nuclear, the nation's biggest nuclear company, plans to spend 400 billion yuan ($62 billion) to build reactors by 2020. China must add two reactors a year to meet a target of generating 4 per cent of its power from nuclear plants by that time, from about 2.3 per cent now. Meanwhile, China National Offshore Oil, the nation's third-biggest oil company, said it would develop renewable energy resources, including wind energy, to ensure energy security.

Renewable power likely to cut bills

Adelaide Advertiser
Monday 23/4/2007 Page: 6

A NEW report has called for the introduction of a 25 per cent renewable energy target for Australia by the year 2020. It says that will create almost 17,000 jobs and keep energy bills lower. The report, to be released today by the Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace and the Climate Action Network, says the 2020 target will help Australia to fight climate change.

The report says more than 17,000 Australians already are employed in the renewable energy or energy efficiency sectors. "A 25 per cent target would increase the number of clean energy jobs to over 33,000," the report says. The 2020 target also will see Australia's energy prices remain among the cheapest in the world, the report says. "A 25 per cent target, coupled with medium energy efficiency measures, would add about $64 to the average household annual electricity bill," it says.

"In contrast, current projections for business-as-usual electricity use could see average household electricity bills increase by $234 per year." Foundation executive director Don Henry said it would "cost Australia dearly" to allow electricity use to continue to climb.

"If we don't take action, the average household electricity bill could increase by hundreds of dollars," he said. Labor frontbencher and leading Left figure Anthony Albanese has said he will be seeking an amendment to the party's no new mines policy at the ALP national conference this weekend in Sydney. The party will vote to decide if it will scrap the policy.

Mr Albanese told the Nine Network yesterday he would be calling for two conditions to be met before any changes were made. "Until such time as we do have a nuclear nonproliferation regime which is effective and a resolution to the issue of nuclear waste, I don't believe that we should be expanding new uranium mines," Mr Albanese said.

The sun rises on alternative energy

Mining Chronicle
April, 2007 Page: 82

Australian industry is under pressure to embrace cleaner, more efficient methods of energy use. For businesses relying on wasteful, archaic technology to supply power, this may cause difficulties when the time for change approaches.

According to Jeremy Rich, the managing director of Energy Matters, the sun is beginning to shine on a new breed of energy alternatives. "By replacing coal or diesel powered machinery with renewable energy powered sources, companies can improve their image whilst saving money," he said.

"In Western Australia alone, over half the state's energy usage comes from pumping water. Right now, the majority of that water is pumped using traditional diesel or electric systems." Renewable energy pumps - such as solar pumps - can offer a user-friendly and cost-effective alternative to diesel powered pumps.

When once solar power was an extreme fringe technology, considered impractical for common use, it has now advanced to the point where it provides a realistic alternative to fuel powered systems that require constant maintenance and refueling - which put a drain on resources.

Solar systems are totally reliable. If designed and installed correctly, they require a minimum of upkeep and can utilise existing generators as backup. In WA, eligible companies making an investment in renewable power can obtain a 40 per cent tax credit rebate for off-grid systems.

The Federal Government will review its $11.4m subsidy scheme during the next budget cycle, but with the nation focused on the dangers of climate change, and with expectations of a new carbon trading and tax program when the Government releases its discussion paper in May, establishing a clean energy policy makes good business sense for companies seeking to enhance their image and save money.

To learn more about how clean energy can improve your business, contact Energy Matters, Australia's premier dealer of renewable energy products. Or visit www.energymatters.com.au