Thursday 3 May 2007

ANZ builds its own green house

Thursday 3/5/2007 Page: 19

ALMOST on cue, the wind picked up and the dust flew as ANZ boss John McFarlane turned the first sod yesterday for the nation's most environmentally sustainable office building, to be built on a barren stretch of Docklands real estate in Melbourne. In three years' time, the same kind of stiff breeze will be powering six wind turbines perched on top of the gleaming, 10-storey ANZ tower, helping the bank generate 10,000kW hours of electricity a year. The turbines are part of an expected capital outlay of about $250 million on a series of environmental measures designed, among other things, to make ANZ carbon-neutral through the purchase of enough renewable energy to offset its greenhouse gas emissions.

ANZ spent $16 million on electricity last year and emitted a total of 185,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. It is not, by any means, the first local corporate to promise carbon-neutrality. National Australia Bank said in March it would do the same by September 2010, following the lead of Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB operation in Britain. Then-Westpac chairman Leon Davis said at last year's annual meeting that the bank would become carbon-neutral, having already cut emissions by 45 per cent since 1996.

Mr McFarlane, who will retire before the end of the year, downplayed the competitive aspect. "Westpac has done some great things, and good luck to them," he said. "I don't think the environment is a competition; the right thing is that everyone does it." ANZ's plans for the nation's greenest office building come amid a gladiatorial, pre-election contest between John Howard and Kevin Rudd on climate change and sustainability.

Labor's policy is to slash greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent on 2000 levels by 2050. Mr Howard has said that any emissions target embraced by the federal Government would not "wreck the Australian economy and destroy jobs in the mining industry".

The ANZ building, coincidentally, will produce 60 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions compared to the average commercial building equivalent to the removal of 3600 cars from the nation's roads each year. Mr McFarlane was careful to steer a non-contentious path yesterday when asked if he thought Australia should aspire to such a target by 2050, in line with Labor policy. "It's easy to design a new building for such a massive reduction but Australia already exists, and therefore to change the whole country is much, much harder," he said. "It's more a government matter than for me, but certainly the world is heading in that sort of direction."

ANZ's estimated $250 million capital outlay includes $34 million of environmental features for the $512 million Docklands project, which will be home to 5500 staff from 2010. Apart from the wind turbines, the features include solar sliver cells, a landscaped roof, stormwater reuse, water recycling, air conditioning with 100 per cent fresh air and a trigeneration plant where natural gas will be used to simultaneously generate electricity, heat and cooling.

The purchase of renewable energy to offset ANZ's carbon emissions will cost a further $5 million a year, and Mr McFarlane announced plans yesterday to finance new capacity in the renewable energy sector. The cost was not disclosed, but the projects will be chosen through a competitive tender process to be unveiled in the coming months. The ANZ chief said his personal preference was to be a direct owner of the projects. "But we've got to do a negotiation, and giving away too many boundary conditions in the lead-up to that is probably not too smart," he said. As for the turbines, Mr McFarlane chuckled when it was suggested they could be painted in ANZ's signature sky-blue. "There's a nice sort of ring to that; that would be the coolest way of doing it." he said.

Turnbull promises $40m to tackle greenhouse gas threat

Thursday 3/5/2007 Page: 4

PROJECTS to reduce methane gas emissions from underground mines and store electricity from wind and solar sources will receive almost $40 million in the budget as the Federal Government continues to try to sell its green credentials in the lead-up to the election.

Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday Labor's pledge to cut emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 would "put lead in the saddlebags of Australian business". Mr Turnbull said Australia would meet its Kyoto targets "through our own actions within our own national borders".

But critics said figures released by the Australian Greenhouse Office that showed there had been no growth in greenhouse gas emissions between 2004 and 2005 were nothing to boast about. "Emissions from energy have continued to climb and the only reason for the drop in overall emissions is a decline in emissions from metal production and prescribed burning of savannas and an increase in forest sinks," the executive director of the left-leaning think-tank The Australia Institute, Clive Hamilton, said.

Mr Turnbull said the Government would spend $18.5 million to work with China, which produced more than 40 per cent of the world's coal, on projects to reduce methane emissions from underground mines. "This funding will support the safe capture of waste methane gas, which will then be used to generate electricity or be converted to less harmful gases," he said. Underground black-coal mines, which are mainly in NSW and Queensland, emit 12 million tonnes of greenhouse emissions each year.

Mr Tumbull said that where there were high concentrations of methane, the projects could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 900,000 tonnes annually. The Government will also spend $17.5 million on projects to trial more efficient ways of storing electricity from renewable energy sources. Mr Turnbull said more renewable energy could be used if the electricity generated from sources such as solar and wind was available continuously day and night.

Speaking at the National Press Club, he said that moving into a less carbon-intensive world would be costly for Australia, which would be disadvantaged compared with countries that had large supplies of nuclear power, such as France, or hydroelectric power, such as Brazil.

Labor said the Government's only answer to climate change was to gamble Australia's future on 25 nuclear reactors. Meanwhile, in an open letter in The Australian Financial Review, five economists, including ANZ chief economist Saul Eslake, warned that climate change made it crucial that the Government took urgent action to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.

Wednesday 2 May 2007

Mt Mercer Wind Farms

Golden Plains Miner
Thursday 26/4/2007 Page: 1

Westwind Energy Pty Ltd is very pleased that the Victorian Minister for Planning, the Hon. Justin Madden has approved the Mt Mercer Wind Farm project in Western Victoria. The Mt Mercer Wind Farm is Westwind Energy's first wind energy project in Australia and is located 30 km south of Ballarat in central Victoria.

The wind farm comprises up to 64 wind turbines of the 2 to 3 MW class and will produce over 390,000 MWh of clean electricity per year. This is equivalent to the annual consumption of more than 73,000 average Victorian households and is more than twice the number of households of the City of Ballarat.

Westwind Energy Pty Ltd is an Australian company and is part of the Germany based Westwind group of companies. The Westwind group has already developed and built 20 wind energy projects in Germany and also operates all of its projects. Australia, and in particular Victoria, is a key international market for Westwind's activities due to its abundant renewable energy resource and increasing State Government support for renewable energy projects. The Victorian Government's support for the wind energy industry has given Westwind Energy the confidence to establish its headquarters in Victoria and to develop wind energy projects here.

The Mt Mercer Wind Farm will also support the establishment of a major service and maintenance centre for wind turbines in the region. Not only will this bring new jobs and investment to provincial Victoria, the project will also contribute significantly towards the Victorian Governments initiatives to safeguard Victoria's energy future and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power generation sector.

The Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) scheme has stimulated a lot of interest in the Mt Mercer Wind Farm project from the electricity industry sector. The VRET scheme will require electricity retailers to purchase a minimum of 10 % of their power from renewable sources by 2016, up from the current level of around 4%. The scheme is designed to deliver substantial reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and is an important part of the Victorian Government's Environmental Sustainability Action Statement.

The company will continue to work with all stakeholders during the detailed planning, construction and operation phases and is hopeful to also earn the trust of those members of the community who still have some reservations about the project. Now that a decision has been made the whole community will be able to make the best out of a significant renewable energy project at Mt Mercer.

Westwind Energy will endeavour to become an integral part of this and other communities where the company plans to establish wind energy facilities. The Mt Mercer Wind Farm has been very carefully sited to comply with the Victorian guidelines for the development of wind energy facilities and is located in one of the windiest regions of Victoria that is close to existing major electricity grid infrastructure.

Westwind Energy is confident that, with the planning approval issued by Minister Madden, the project will soon reach financial closure. Subsequent to the preparation and endorsement of an Environmental Management Plan (and other documents referred to in the permit conditions) construction may commence in 2008.

The following is a response from the Golden Plains Shire. "Wind farms fall under the jurisdiction of the state government's planning process and Council has not played a direct role in the decision making associated with this project," CEO Rod Nicholls said. "In addition, the figures presented by the Planning Minister in his statement last Thursday highlight the significant environmental and economic benefits to be delivered by the project for the region."

Experts talk warming

Barrier Daily Truth
Tuesday 1/5/2007 Page: 12

BANGKOK - After two gloomy UN reports on global warming, scientists and governments yesterday began looking at how to fight climate change, with green groups saying the world has the means to cut emissions at little cost.

At least 400 scientists and experts from about 120 countries are attending the five-day, third session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN's leading authority on global warming. A raft of solutions will be issued on Friday after review by the delegates. The draft report warns that time for inexpensive fixes is running out because of a surge in greenhouse gas emissions. The survey is the third this year by the IPCC. "Science certainly provides a lot of compelling reasons for action," IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri told reporters.

When asked how the IPCC could convert the report into government action, he said: "The IPCC doesn't have any muscle, it has grey matter. The muscle will have to come from somewhere else." Major polluters such as United States, China and top oil producer Saudi Arabia are expected to seek to water down the report, wary of language that proscribes targets to cut emissions or threatens their oil and gas industries.

The UN climate panel issued its first report in February saying it was at least 90 per cent certain that mankind was to blame for warming. The second report on April 6 warned of more hunger, droughts, heatwaves and rising seas.

Green groups say the time for bickering by governments is over. "The key thing is whatever they decide here that it cannot be ignored anymore that climate change is happening in a big way. It's happening much faster. We have more solutions out there than before and it's not as costly as some people want us to believe it is," said Stephan Singer, head of the WWF's Climate Change Policy Unit.

The report estimates that stabilising greenhouse gas emissions will cost between 0.2 per cent and 3.0 per cent of world gross domestic product by 2030, depending on the stiffness of curbs on rising emissions of greenhouse gases. Under some scenarios, GDP growth might even get a tiny net spur from less pollution and health damage from burning fossil fuels, blamed as the main cause of warming.

The conclusions broadly back those by former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern, who estimated last year that costs of acting now to slow warming were about one per cent of global output - 5 to 20 per cent if the world delayed action. More than 1,000 amendments have been proposed to the draft 24-page summary for policymakers. Some countries complain it is hard to understand and too laden with scientific jargon.

The report lays out solutions such as capturing and burying emissions from coal-fired power plants, a shift to renewable energies such as solar and wind energy, more use of nuclear power, more efficient lighting and insulation of buildings. But it says that temperatures will rise by at least 2 to 2.4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels even under the most stringent curbs. The European Union says a 2-degree Celsius rise is a threshold for "dangerous" changes to the climate system.

The more deep and rapid the emissions cuts, the more costly to economies, says the draft report, which gives a range of stabilisation levels of greenhouse gases in the future. By 2030, the costs of letting greenhouse gas concentrations rise to 650 ppmv (parts per million volume) of CO2-equivalent are 0.2 per cent of global gross domestic product, it says. Greenhouse gas concentrations are now at about 430 ppmv of carbon dioxide and rising sharply.

South African delegate Peter Luckey said any talk of stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations at 650 ppmv "is quite disturbing to us". He worried that some governments will try to water down the draft recommendations. "Our major mandate is to defend the document as much as possible," said Luckey, chief director of air quality management in South Africa's Department of Environment Affairs and Tourism.


For all of us, going green means getting down, brown and dirty

Sydney Morning Herald
Wednesday 2/5/2007 Page: 11

When are we going to get over this saurian idea that eco-mindedness is leftwing? John Howard, green clad but still myopic, says he'll address climate change only when he's close enough to read the price tag.

Malcolm Turnbull, the Environment Minister, derides the Climate Institute Australia as a "left-wing think tank". Morris Iemma talks green but rather than simply fitting every house with a rain tank, relentlessly pursues a desal plant that will chug electricity and wreck Botany Bay. And Clover Moore, who rightly wants dedicated cycleways and water reservoirs in the great man-made caverns under Sydney, will find herself choker-deep in bureaucratic merde when she tries to make it happen. Meanwhile, the rest of Sydney's councils are still busy making it hard for people to recycle stormwater, purify on-site sewage or secede from the grid.

For most of us the problems of going green, as opposed to talking about it, are many-sided: aesthetic, economic, political. Aesthetically, the obstacles are mainly about the sheer, icky brownness of green: the lawn gone brown with drought, the bog paper that's brown when you buy it, the bath that stays brown after cleaning. Brown is the child's first heartbreak, having mixed all the colours in hope of yet greater glory. It's the colour of the swamp, of earth's reclaiming us as territory, of entropy. The colour of war, of dark ages and of old, nicotiney, communist Europe. Brown is what makes the hairshirt irredeemable fashion death. That's problem No. 1.

Problem two is economic: the sheer cost of water tanks, plumbing, photovoltaics, microturbines, smart cars and phosphate-free detergents. This, against the abject cheapness of energy and water, means that any technology you install will be obsolete well before it pays for itself, especially if you count interest. Lesli Berger, the developer of the new no-name green office building in Double Bay, says sustainability cost him half a million, in a $5 million building. And that's not counting the $1.2 million Woollahra Council is still trying to slug him for eschewing car parking, or the several thousand Sydney Water wanted for not connecting to the mains.

Problem three is the usual political googly, in reverse. It's not that sustainable buildings are unpopular, but that politicians think they are, or might be. This, it seems, deprives all pollies with power to change anything of the courage to do it.

As anyone with half an ear to the ground knows, Australia is well behind the world in developing renewable energy and distributed grids. As the Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy says, `Australia's global position has slipped over the last five years" because of our refusal to use either tax or pricing incentives to encourage renewables. And, in Australia, virtually everyone is ahead of the Government.

Some local weather makers, such as Tim Flannery, have argued that's the way of it; that sustainability, like charity, must start at home. Think global, act local. To some extent, as the amount of eco-guerilla action in Australia suggests, he's right. But where things need the power and abstraction of government is where our governments, in refusing to be part of the solution, are part of the problem.

In theory, anyone could do what Michael Mobbs did with his sustainable terrace house in Chippendale, or what Berger (with Mobbs's help) did in Double Bay - secede from the water and sewage grids and, in the case of the house, feed surplus electricity back in. Berger's four-storeyed Double Bay building, by Eeles Trelease Architects, collects its drinking water and recycles its sewage. It doesn't generate electricity, partly because EnergyAustralia insisted on taking about $700,000 worth of ground floor space for a substation.

But, as speculative office buildings go, it's distinctly green-hued. How green? As green as Melbourne City Council's CH2 overlooking Swanston Street, or 40 Albert Road, both six-star green buildings, both touted as "Australia's greenest"? The simple answer is: no one knows. This is partly because, as the Green Building Council of Australia's Romily Madew notes, the buildings' legendary six-star ratings relate only to design intent: their performance is still unmeasured. And partly because there are dozens of green rating systems, with more being produced every minute; all different, all incompatible.

In terms of renewable and distributed energy, it's the same. In 2001 the Howard Government set a renewables target so risible it was superseded within months. So now it's up to the states. Victoria has mandated 15 per cent by 2016 and NSW may follow. But the obvious accompaniments are tax breaks for renewables and a "smart grid" system, like those in trial across Europe and the US, to encourage local or distributed generation by offering "parity pricing", where consumers are paid for their excess or "feed-in" at the purchase rate.

Like 19th-century Britain, crisscrossed by a dozen private railroads with incompatible gauges, this needs intelligent government. Government that sees the stupidity of tailgating climate change. Clean your contacts, John; if you're close enough to read the price tag, you're already road kill.

Pentagon told it must give up oil

Sydney Morning Herald
Wednesday 2/5/2007 Page: 8

WASHINGTON A study ordered by the Pentagon warns that the rising cost and dwindling supply of oil - the lifeblood of fighter jets, warships, and tanks - will make the US military's ability to respond to crises around the world "unsustainable in the long term".

The study, produced by a consulting firm, concludes that all four branches of the military must "fundamentally transform" their assumptions about energy, including taking immediate steps towards fielding weapons systems and aircraft that run on alternative and renewable fuels.

The Pentagon must "apply new energy technologies that address alternative supply sources and efficient consumption across all aspects of military operations", the report says. However, weaning the US military from fossil fuels quickly would be a Herculean task - especially because the bulk of the US arsenal depends on fossil fuels, and many military systems have been designed to remain in service for at least several decades.

However, Pentagon advisers believe the growing consumption of fossil fuels leaves military leaders with little choice but to break with the past as soon as possible. The report says the military is using 16 times more fuel per soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan than in World War II. The Pentagon commissioned LMI, a government-consulting firm, to produce the report.

Transforming the way DoD Looks at Energy is intended as a potential blueprint for a new military energy strategy and includes a detailed survey of potential alternatives to oil - including synthetic fuels, renewable biofuels, ethanol and biodiesel fuel as well as solar and wind energy, among many others.

The Boston Globe

King Is switches on to solar

Hobart Mercury
Wednesday 2/5/2007 Page: 16

A SOLAR energy project on King Island could play a role in solving the island's power woes. A trial project could soon be under way after a deal was struck between Australian company CBD Energy Limited and German company Solon AG. CBD is already working with Hydro Tasmania on energy projects for King Island and the new deal could help expedite the process. A 100 kilowatt solar energy plant is to be built on the island, supplementing diesel and wind generation.

CBD executive chairman Gerry McGowan said the developments reflected productive business partnerships with Hydro Tasmania and Solon. The King Island projects will also include a remote area power system including CBD's energy storage technology. The technology involves storage in graphite blocks and Mr McGowan said that represented a breakthrough in energy markets where energy storage wasn't commercially available.

Hydro Tasmania's technology manager John Titchen said the storage project had been the focus of work with CBD. "The technology is of value to us because we have quite a bit of wind energy, but can't always use it at its peak," Mr Titchen said. "We have been looking at ways to capture it so it doesn't go to waste." He said the CBD proposal for a solar power installation was quite interesting for Hydro Tasmania.

"It is in keeping with King Island's role in renewables, as the first location in Tasmania using wind energy," he said. "It is a good place to try these new types of generation because of the high cost of supply." He said Hydro was aiming to do whatever it could to displace diesel with clean energy. "Working on this on King Island gives us an opportunity to try it, get a foothold and possibly go further in the future. "This would be our first solar project so it's quite exciting." Solon is a major producer of solar power modules in Europe. employing more than 500 people across Europe.

The deal means Solon becomes a major CBD shareholder, investing about $4.9 million.

Renewable focus

Daily News
Wednesday 2/5/2007 Page: 5

THE GECKO environment group has called for Australia's economic future to be based on renewable energies, not the nuclear fuel cycle or mining more uranium. Gecko nuclear free campaign spokesperson Irene Wareing said there had been no public debate on the pros and cons of expanding uranium mining or nuclear power in Australia.

Tuesday 1 May 2007

Matter of facts in green power play

Sydney Morning Herald
Tuesday 1/5/2007 Page: 12

John Howard says renewable energy can't meet Australia's electricity needs but scientists and other experts disagree.
The claim by the Prime Minister, John Howard, that only coal or nuclear energy can meet the nation's power needs has been condemned as "an outrageous furphy". Speaking at the weekend, Howard said: "There are only two ways that you can run power stations, generate base-load power in this country. You can do it on fossil fuel or... with nuclear power."

But advocates of renewable energy say the Prime Minister is wrong and that wind energy and bioenergy - the burning of waste from agricultural crops - could meet half Australia's electricity demand within 40 years. If all forms of promising renewable energy sources, including solar and geothermal power, were developed, all Australia's electricity demand could be met within 50 years.

Mark Diesendorf, from the University of New South Wales's Institute of Environmental Studies, says renewable energy experts "should be screaming from the rooftops" over Howard's comments. Ric Brazzale, the executive director of the Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy, describes Howard's remarks as "frustrating".

Diesendorf says no single renewable energy source offers the solution. However, a mix of different technologies, combined with curbs on energy waste, would work. He estimates that because of wind fluctuations at any particular site, a wind farm with 1300 turbines, each generating up to two megawatts - a total of 2600 megawatts - would reliably replace a 1000 megawatt coalfired plant.

"Although a single wind turbine is indeed intermittent," Diesendorf says, "this is generally not true of a system of several wind farms, separated by several hundred kilometres and experiencing different wind regimes." Wind power could meet 20 per cent of Australia's base-load demand by 2040. Another 30 per cent could be met by a network of small generators burning agricultural leftovers from sugar and wheat crops, and plantation forests.

"We could be 100 per cent renewable by the middle of the century" if other technologies, such as solar thermal and geothermal were also pursued, Diesendorf says. While using batteries to store electricity generated by solar cells remains expensive, solar energy could heat water, rocks or even salt during the day. The heat could be used at night to drive turbines. Geothermal technology, in which turbines are driven by water pumped through naturally hot rocks under the ground, also offered "a huge potential".

Diesendorf estimates that while three-quarters of Australian homes could use solar hot water systems, only 5 per cent have them. Peak afternoon energy demand for air-conditioners could be slashed by encouraging people to install solar panels facing the north-west. "What we cant do," he says,"is allow demand to double and redouble every few years. There is a huge amount of energy waste." Insulation and highly efficient electric motors could make significant cuts in demand.

Brazzale, who represents 300 companies with investments or interest in renewable power, estimates 17 per cent of South Australia's power will be wind-generated by the end of next year. "Why can't the rest of us do it?" he asks, calling for a national renewable energy target of 20 per cent by 2020 - more than double Australia's current capacity. Photovoltaic solar panels would have "no problem" eventually meeting 30 per cent of national demand.

$180,000 rates windfall

Border Watch
Tuesday 1/5/2007 Page: 10

Glenelg Shire Council and Pacific Hydro have completed the rate agreement for the Portland Wind Energy Project. Shire Mayor Gilbert Wilson said council had actively participated in the State Government's review process of the rating of electricity in Victoria, which was undertaken in 2004 and 2005. The review applied to all electricity generators located in about 15 Victorian municipalities, including coal, hydro, gas and wind generators.

"Together with the Moyne Shire and the Ararat Rural City, the Glenelg Shire took an active approach by advocating for an appropriate rating mechanism for electricity generators, especially given the proposed development of Pacific Hydro's Portland Wind Energy Project," Cr Wilson said. "The Review Panel received a diverse range of submissions from municipalities, electricity generators and industry groups and conducted public hearings.

"Unfortunately, the panel and the State Government did not accept the rating formula suggested by a number of councils." Following receipt of the panel's final report, the State Government amended the Electricity Industry Act (Section 94) to incorporate a formula for the consistent rating of all electricity generators in Victoria.

In summary, the formula specifies a base initial payment of $40,000 plus $900 per megawatt capacity indexed by CPI annually. "Unlike the rate agreements for other large industries, the proposed rate agreement with Pacific Hydro is a procedural document, as the financial formula is prescribed by legislation and cannot be negotiated," Cr Wilson said.

Based on the total number of wind generation towers indicated on the maps provided by Pacific Hydro for the Glenelg Shire section of the Portland Wind Energy Project and the proposed megawatt capacity of the project, the estimated payment in lieu of rates will be around $180,400 per annum with annual CPI increases. However, if the Portland Wind Energy project is built in stages over more than one financial year, the amount will be calculated on a pro rata basis based on the actual installed megawatt capacity.

Protest signs stolen

Ballarat Courier
Tuesday 1/5/2007 Page: 3

THE repeated thefts of protest signs against a proposed windfarm development near Smeaton has angered the Spa Country Landscape Guardians group. The group represents residents and landholders opposed to the proposal of 19 turbines to be constructed near their town. SCLG spokesman Will Elsworth said about 40 signs had either been pulled down or stolen and the thefts would be reported to police.

We are very concerned at the community cohesion and a potential breakdown," Mr Elsworth said. "Many people opposed to the development have been here for years and put a lot into the community and it's easy to tear the fabric of the community apart. We find it ironic proponents are happy to pull down a small sign, but are willing to host a turbine stretching into the sky."

However, one Smeaton resident has said he believed the Spa Country Landscape Guardians group was part of a noisy minority and opponents needed to look to the future of clean energy. Rob Talbot said he would be happy to host a turbine on his land and it made sense to have the turbines near Smeaton. "Wind power makes sense," he said. "I don't know whether the opposition is politically-based. I have been up close to them and you can hardly hear them. They look picturesque and when you see them you can see that something is actually being done to reduce our green house gases. I'd have one on my property."

Hepburn Shire councillor Tim Hayes said the council had not received a planning application from the developer, Wind Power, and until then residents needed to be patient.

Market key to climate change

Australian Financial Review
Tuesday 1/5/2007 Page: 8

Ross Garnaut, the head of the states' inquiry into the economics of climate change advocates a market-based approach to greenhouse gas abatement, and warns against governments favouring options such as carbon sequestration, nuclear energy or wind energy. The Australian National University professor says the cheapest solution to climate change would be a global 'cap and trade' regime in which a decision was made on total global emissions and quotas were allocated between countries and then traded internationally.

Mr Garnaut argues that although Australia could potentially be a big loser among rich countries from global warming, it has a strong interest in galvanising international support for a global effort to control greenhouse emissions and could benefit from the development of an efficient global regime, especially if energy-intensive exporters such as Alcoa are compensated so their international competitiveness is not adversely affected by differences in countries' greenhouse regimes. However, he expresses reservations about the Business Council of Australia's argument that industry should be given emission permits free of charge, preferring to see the money raised from auctioning permits directed to financing tax cuts or tax reform.

Mr Garnaut concedes nuclear power and sequestration of carbon dioxide in thermal power as well as renewable technologies such as wind energy potentially have a place in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but warns governments against trying to guess which technologies are going to be 'great winners' or granting public research funding to vested interests. He says with the right incentives and investment in research and development, industry will find cheaper and diverse ways of producing the same things with less emissions, while an eventual move towards targeting the emissions of energy users rather than energy exporters will see a more balanced quota distribution system based on population emerge.

Monday 30 April 2007

Wind farm decision deferred

Hamilton Spectator
Tuesday 24/4/2007 Page: 5

A DECISION by Moyne Shire Council to grant a permit for the $49 million Salt Creek Wind farm has been deferred at the request of the proponent. Moyne Shire Mayor, Gerald Madden, said it had been deferred until a later time on the basis that the proponent had only in recent days got feedback from the DSE and needed to confer with the DSE.

NewEn Australia project manager. Grant Flynn, said the company, which is the wind farm proponent, had only received the proposed planning permit conditions from the DSE on Good Friday and needed to respond by Easter Tuesday. "We'll have a meeting with the DSE and shire next week," Mr Flynn said.

The wind farm would consist of 13 to 15 wind turbines and would generate approximately 29.9 megawatts, which would be three per cent of Victoria's renewable energy target. With regards to the Woolsthorpe Wind Farm, the Council has rejected a recommendation from the planning department to forward a submission of the proposal to the planning minister.

The council sent a submission to the Minister for Planning, Justin Madden, that it does not support the wind farm in its current form. The decision was made on the basis that council felt there was an over proliferation of turbines for the site, they were concerned that three turbines located 60m from the Woolsthorpe-Heywood Rd could cause shadow flicker on the road which might be dangerous for motorists and the proximity of turbines to neighbouring boundaries caused concern. "We would hope the Minister will take note of our concerns." Cr Madden said.

Wind Farm Development project manager, Jonathan Upson, said he was certainly very disappointed that the council had taken its decision but they will take the concerns of council and the three objectors on board and try to at least partly address them. The decision to go-ahead with the wind farm will ultimately be made by the Victorian Government. The proposed $85 million development consists of 20 turbines and will generate 40 megawatts of energy and Mr Upson said on an open day a large number of people supported the project.

Wind Farm Developments have approached the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to review a separate permit application regarding the removal of native grasses which for the construction of a distribution line for the wind farm after no decision to grant the permit was made in 60 days.

Wind farm open

Port Lincoln Times
Thursday 26/4/2007 Page: 2

WIND energy may be the way of the future and the public is invited to come and see why at an open day at the region's first wind farm, Cathedral Rocks near Sleaford. With absolutely no emissions, wind farm energy is the way of the future, according to Cathedral Rocks Wind Farm facilities manager John Fannin.

Mr Fannin said wind farms in Australia had huge potential, with large areas of land earmarked for development, but these were currently in limbo because of a lack of support from the Federal Government for renewable energy and a low Mandatory Renewable Energy Target.

"There could be a big wind industry in Port Lincoln as a number of developers are waiting on the sideline for changes to government policy so they can build. "Australia is so far behind the rest of the world - Europe is doing it, America's doing it, China's doing it. "China is a developing country and they can see the future is in the wind and one day in the very near future they will be one of the superpowers in the wind industry - a lot of money is being invested on wind farms at the moment in China.

There are 17,000 people working in the wind farm industry in Australia, but there could be at least 33,000 and investment of over $30 billion if the Federal Government backed the wind industry and the renewable energy sector according to Mr Fannin. The push for clean energy was being helped along by public opinion, which is swaying strongly toward environmental awareness.

"I think people are concerned about global warming and our biggest threat is changes to the environment. "We need to do everything we can to stop this. "We can't keep producing the majority of Australia's energy from fossil fuels.

At maximum capacity the Cathedral Rocks Wind Farm generates 66 megawatts of green energy - more than enough green electricity to power Port Lincoln and surrounding districts. Mr Fannin said while some community and school groups had been taken on tours of the site, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held with State Government minister Patrick Conlon prior to construction in late 2005, an official open day had not yet been held.

"When the public gets off the bus at the wind turbine they will feel the strong wind coming off the southern ocean, they can stand under the rotating blades of a wind turbine and hear for themselves that these machines aren't at all noisy." Mr Fannin said he was hoping the community would show its support and turn up on the day. "I hope to see somewhere between 500 to 2500 people come through the gates - the more the better.

The Cathedral Rocks Wind Farm, about 30 kilometres south-west of Port Lincoln, is a joint venture project between Acciona Energy and Roaring 40s. It will be open to the general public on May 5 from 10am to 3pm, with guided bus tours of the wind farm leaving every 10 to 15 minutes from the site's car park.

Entry is free with a gold coin donation for parking going to the Port Lincoln State Emergency Service. Visitors are expected to wear enclosed shoes for safety reasons.

Council pockets $1m from wind

Warrnambool Standard
Saturday 28/4/2007 Page: 10

WIND turbines are set to generate a $1 million rates windfall for Moyne Shire each year, becoming its biggest industrial money spinner. With two up and running and as many as eight on the drawing board, wind farms are set to deliver a major boost to the shire's income. Pacific Hydro is the company behind Yambuk's 20-turbine facility and Codrington's 14-turbine project and the farms are the largest contributors to the council's coffers.

The Standard understands the company pays $123,380 in rates annually. The rates collected from Pacific Hydro are only the tip of the rate revenue iceberg. The shire expects to reap the benefits of unprecedented interest in wind energy in the area.

The State Government has approved the $600 million Macarthur wind development of 183-turbines. The project is expected to raise more than $300,000 annually for the shire if the company decides to proceed with the project. Other planned projects in the region include the controversial Woolsthorpe 20-turbine wind farm. This project if approved would contribute $76,000 in rates. A Hawkesdale development would inject $100,000. A 68-turbine development near Port Fairy would raise $165,000 a year in rates.

Sun and wind blow coaldust out of town

Sun Herald
Sunday 29/4/2007 Page: 7

BUSINESSES and residents in Scone hope a $45 million energy project planned for the Upper Hunter town will protect them from coalmining. Proponents of the Kyoto Energy Park say it will combine environmentally sustainable technologies to generate renewable energy for Scone and surrounding areas. The park will consist of up to 47 wind turbines and an experimental solar thermal system using a closed-loop hydroelectric generator, a scheme that uses elevation of natural water instead of catchment drops.

Scone Chamber of Business president Michael Johnsen said the park could protect the town from the threat of mining. "It's going to go a long way towards keeping coalmines off our doorsteps by creating a buffer on our west side that the mines can't encroach on," Mr Johnsen said. "It's going to help Scone maintain a generally green and clean image, and also for the surrounding areas. It should be a great tourist attraction for people to stop and have a look."

Kyoto project director Mark Sydney said the Scone community was excited by the proposal. "This is the Hunter Valley's chance to establish a symbol of their environmental values," Mr Sydney said. "I'm yet to meet someone who is against the idea. "We're providing the Upper Hunter with the opportunity to harness their unique geographical circumstances and do something positive in their backyard."

The park could produce "a significant power generation" of 200 megawatts "to support and supplement other energy". Mr Johnsen said the town's support would prove significant in the approval process, lodged under state significant planning provisions. "I think 97 per cent of the community think it's a great idea," Mr Johnsen said. "I live near where it's going to be built and I'm not concerned about the wind turbines because I think, would I rather look at this or a mine site? "The town is generally excited to be a part of it," he said.

Mr Sydney hopes the park will be one of many alternative energy projects in NSW as part of a more widespread cultural shift towards a clean energy future. "There's been a lot of positive progress towards renewable projects in the past six months," he said. "Overall the world is moving to embrace projects like this and it's a fabulous opportunity to have this in Scone?'

Kyoto Energy Park
  • The proposed park will have up to 47 turbines.
  • Australia's 27 wind farms contribute about 1 percent to our total electricity production.
  • The largest operations are in South Australia (Wattle Point, Lake Bonney, Cathedral Rocks) and Western Australia (Alinta, Emu Downs).
  • Wind power accounts for 20 per cent of electricity use in Denmark.

Nuclear energy on agenda

Maitland Mercury
Monday 30/4/2007 Page: 9

The United Nations Inte-rgovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is tipped to throw its weight behind nuclear energy as a means of mitigating global warming when it meets in Bangkok this week.

"In addition to renewable energy sources, nuclear power will be recommended by scientists as a lesser evil in terms of global warming," Wanum Permpibul of the Climate Action Group told The Nation newspaper.

From today until Friday, 80 of the world's leading experts on climate change will meet in Bangkok to debate the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report to 150 state representatives on policy recommendations to mitigate the impact of global warming, blamed primarily on consumption of carbon-based fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal.

The final report, after what is expected to be a heated debate among participants, will be made public on Friday. An IPCC endorsement for nuclear power would be controversial, given the strong opposition to the energy source by environmentalists and community-based organisations.

Thailand, for instance, currently relies heavily on natural gas for its electricity generation, but is moving towards coal power in the near future and nuclear within 13 years, according to government planners. "That (IPCC) recommendation will aid the pro-nuclear lobby:' Wanun said.

The IPCC conclusions in Bangkok will become an important reference for future negotiations on global warming such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The IPCC drew world attention to the reality of global warming in February at its Paris meeting and then highlighted the impact of the trend on populations, agriculture and species at a meeting in Brussels in early April.

At the Bangkok meeting, the IPCC report will focus on options for mitigating the trend.

Power void a real turn-off

Australian Financial Review
Tuesday 24/4/2007 Page: 62

Blackouts, higher energy prices and misallocated resources: that's the chilling scenario painted by a government taskforce on Australia's energy future if federal and state governments do not opt for policies to create an efficient energy sector.

The Energy Reform Implementation Group's warning is a far cry from the recent media debate on energy, which has focused on the greenhouse gas problem of Australia's polluting coalburning power generation. ERIG says that unless energy markets are made more efficient via a combination of privatisation of government electricity agencies, less regulation and a truly national energy market, investors may be far less willing to put their money into new generation capacity.

Blackouts and higher prices are just some of the possible outcomes. Investment uncertainty also feeds into the greenhouse debate. ERIG and consultant KPMG make it clear that another "important barrier" to investment lies in the confusing multiplicity of state and federal greenhouse policies, and-the uncertainty of future constraints. Canberra alone has 80 different greenhouse programs. "ERIG was struck by the significant concerns raised by market participants about market uncertainty in relation to possible future greenhouse abatement schemes," the group says.

KPMG cited one potential investor as labelling greenhouse policies a "shambles", while another said investing in such circumstances would be akin to "gambling". One investor with billions of dollars to put into new base-load capacity told KPMG it had pulled out because greenhouse policies - or lack of them - meant "we could not value the potential impact with any degree of certainty".

It is not just energy suppliers getting nervous. KPMG reports that major energy users may be more likely to invest offshore in the absence of greater certainty on greenhouse policy here. "The risk is that the federal government's efforts to avoid sending industries and jobs offshore by refusing to introduce some form of unilateral carbon pricing signal will be undermined by the very uncertainty created by a policy that energy sector investors believe is neither credible nor sustainable," KPMG says.

The vicious circle involved here is almost unbelievable: government inaction in creating a privatised, competitive and national electricity market threatens supply shortages, blackouts and higher prices. Moreover, jumbled greenhouse policies threaten a capital drought that could derail not only the generation investment needed to fix these problems but also the installation of the clean coal technology and perhaps nuclear plant necessary to combat harmful emissions.

ERIG's solution is to recommend to the Council of Australian Governments a more co-ordinated strategic approach to the energy sector", leading to full privatisation of all state-owned electricity assets and a reinvigorated push towards national markets. Where states do not fully privatise NSW is the worst offender - ERIG wants much stricter competitive neutrality, including the end of market distortions and price regulation.

So what did COAG do when it met on April 13? It picked up on many of ERIG's regulatory concerns, including the creation of a new national energy market operator, but it ignored a major thrust of ERIG's findings to encourage new investment - privatisation or enhanced competitive neutrality - and it argued over a climate-change agenda.

Momentum in energy market reforms has slowed: the nation needs an estimated $35 billion in new generation capacity by 2030 and markets are sending clear signals they are wary of investment, given market distortions between private and state operators, and the "shambles" of greenhouse policies. If anything, the problem will worsen as Prime Minister John Howard's coalition and the Labor states face off on rival emissions trading systems in the lead-up to the federal election.

COAG just doesn't see the links between on the one hand the jumble of state-based and largely state-owned electricity systems, the apprehension in the private sector to the free kicks afforded state ownership and the confused greenhouse signals, and on the other the potential impact on crucial new clean-power projects.

Business Council of Australia president Michael Chaney has tired of the "theatrics" of COAG, a politicians' club he says needs reform. When it comes to energy policy and COAG, Chaney hasn't seen the half of it.

Allan Fels is dean of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.
Fred Brenchley is a former editor of The Australian Financial Review.

Wind farm proponents to meet with Council this week

Tumut & Adelong Times
Tuesday 24/4/2007 Page: 6

PRIVATE environment consultant Richard Finley Jones has been invited to Tumut Shire Council on Wednesday to discuss an investigation into the feasibility of a wind farm around Adelong.

The first stage of the project would be to secure funds from the state government for a monitoring mast to test wind speeds in the area. The testing phase would run for 12 months and would determine suitability for a possible farm proposal.

Mr Jones said its still a long way off but there is support from the Adelong community and local land holders for the idea. Mr Jones said that unlike other wind farms that I've worked on for private entities, this is a community based project, which means the profits would end up going back into the community. Mr Jones who's background and experience is in renewable energy said this was a gratis project for the Adelong Project Association.

Energy on the wind

Moorabool Leader
Tuesday 24/4/2007 Page: 3

IF you want to know what the proposed wind farms at Elaine and Yendon will look like, keep your eye on Mt Mercer. WestWind Energy's first Australian project was given State Government approval this month, and the company said it would be on a similar scale to sites proposed at Elaine and Yendon.

Planning manager Tobi Geiger said the State Government preferred the two Moorabool sites be treated as one entity and this had been dubbed the "Lal Lal Project". The Fisken Hill section will have up to 50 turbines, while there will be 29 at Elaine.

"The plans could change a lot. We've gone public about this very early so we can let people know what's happening, but it is a catch22 because at the start of these projects, you don't have a lot of detail. "The turbine locations could be moved or removed - depending on studies and what the community wants." Under the current proposal, the maximum blade-tip height will be 150m or less. Turbines will be mounted on 80 to 100m towers.

WestWind began doorknocking homes within 3km of both sites in December and ran the first of several planned information days at Lal Lal hall last week.

The company has measured winds up to 120km/h at Mt Mercer - where 64 turbines will be installed - and Mr Geiger said Australia had windier sites, but an effective project had to be close to major manufacturing centres such as Ballarat. It also had to be close to existing electrical infrastructure and the Lal Lal project was not far from a major terminal at Warrenheip, a large line passing through Fisken Hill to power Lal Lal Reservoir and an easement it could share along the Midland Highway with the Geelong-Ballarat power line.

The two sites are expected to cost $250 million to $300 million. "With 70 to 80 turbines in the Lal Lal project, it could power something two or three times the size of Ballarat," Mr Geiger said.

Where are windfarms going?

Cooma Monaro Express
Tuesday 24/4/2007 Page: 9

AS the windfarm debate continues, there is much confusion over the actual placement of the turbines. Councillor Roger Norton confirmed that his view, is that both the for and against supporters agree that heritage issues are very significant and have to be considered with every, application.

It is not something that everyone may like, but every application will be considered on its practicality and merits," Cr Norton said. He also said it is a possibility that there may be multiple windfarms situated on multiple visible hills.

Beverley Allen from the Friends of Renewable Energy also said the Snowy Mountains could be a new home for windfarms.

"I would certainly prefer to have a windfarm in the Snowy Mountains than a coal plant. The area could work well for wind turbines and it would remain almost undamaged even if the wind turbines were taken down in years to come."

New wind farm in the works

Central Midlands & Coastal Advocate
Thursday 26/4/2007 Page: 9

DANDARAGAN Shire has granted planning approval to Stanwell Corporation to establish two wind monitoring towers north of Bibby Road for a future wind farm. Stanwell Corporation and WR Carpenter Agriculture embarked on a joint venture last year to develop the Emu Downs Wind Farm project.

As part of that project two wind farm monitoring towers were erected on the property and monitoring took place over number of years. Recordings are still being taken. The two towers for this new project will be 70 metres and 50 metres tall at the corner of Yerramullah Road and Cadda Road, and the corner of Yerramullah Road and Cowalla Road.

Climate change a vital issue for 90 per cent

AAP Newswire
Thursday 26/4/2007

CANBERRA, April 26 AAP - CSIRO surveys have found more than 90 per cent of people in two populous states believe climate change is a vital issue facing the nation. The findings in NSW and Queensland contrast with Prime Minister John Howard's declaration this week that global warming is not the overwhelming moral issue facing Australians.

Nearly 90 per cent of respondents in the survey conducted by CSIRO and the Centre for Low Emission Technology identified solar technology as their preferred low-emissions source of energy. Mr Howard has dismissed solar as unable to be a major provider of national power generation. His preferred alternative of nuclear power polarised opinion among the respondents. They supported investment in clean coal technology - a solution backed by the government and Labor - but not at the expense of research into renewable energy.

The surveys were conducted over a two-year period ending in 2006 as part of a project the centre says is one of the most detailed of its kind undertaken in the world. It found 90-93 per cent of respondents rate climate change "as an issue vital to the nation's future". In workshops conducted in towns and cities of the two states, participants "expressed a need to balance economic growth with environmental concerns and overall expressed a desire for power that had low emissions, was affordable but guaranteed security of supply".

The Queensland report found the attitudinal shift would have a "marked influence on the political and business landscape in Australia for some time to come". It also found the public was crying out for more information on what was being done to combat the problem and wanted more leadership on the issue, including financial incentives or penalties to bring rapid change.

Queensland State Development Minister John Mickel said Mr Howard should rethink his position as today's report showed Australians did not just want energy to be clean as well as affordable. "Such a public consensus is rare on any issue," Mr Mickel said. "This finding suggests a major shift in public thinking which is great because we need to get the community, along with governments and industry, involved in creating a cleaner and greener Queensland."

Queensland Conservation Council coordinator Toby Hutcheon said the results were not surprising and the real figure across the community could even be higher than 90 per cent. "In an election year, this is a message for all political parties seeking seats in Queensland ... to put forward solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions now," Mr Hutcheon said.

Helping China the way ahead

Australian Financial Review
Friday 27/4/2007 Page: 74

China has opted to delay indefinitely the release of its climate change action plan, maintaining that economic growth and development are its first priorities in a wake-up call to the world that says developing countries will not simply fall into line with Western governments' plans for a post-Kyoto emissions regime. China is key to any post-Kyoto Protocol agreement, with the country likely to surpass the US in the next two years as the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter. China is a signatory to Kyoto, but is not subject to any reduction targets because it is a developing country. It has also said it wants to be involved in the formulation of any new agreement.

This week's announcement from Beijing is a reality check for future negotiations. On this issue, China and Australia share interests, as they are respectively the world's biggest user and producer of coal, and the world's biggest exporter of coal. The Australian government is attempting to work with China to help it reduce emissions, and improve energy efficiency; China is one of the most inefficient energy users in the world.

China's massive economic growth means it is critical to any future planning; if it refuses to comply with emissions targets, those targets are meaningless. Australia's offer to help with efficiency and clean-coal programs is a good start, but more countries must be involved in the efforts.

Wind Partners plans buying spree

Australian Financial Review
Friday 27/4/2007 Page: 58

Babcock and Brown Wind Partners plans to sell shares to help fund the $1.45 billion purchase of three global wind farms, more than doubling the group's current wind farm holding and potentially raising as much as $150 million. Wind Partners is seeking a European wind farm valued at around $180 million and is also looking to spend around $885 million on half of the group that owns Enersis. Enersis was bought by Babcock and Brown, the wind fund's investment manager, in December 2005.

Wind Partners may also buy B&B's Class B interest in wind-farm projects within the so-called US07 portfolio, consisting of three assets in the US worth $390 million. The company will issue 87.1 million securities to institutional investors through UBS, Deutsche Bank and Tricom Equities.

Wind Partners chief executive Miles George said 'in addition to these acquisitions, we have excellent access to a high-quality pipeline'. B&B has agreed to take 10 per cent of the new stock and the fund will sell shares for between $1.72 and $1.80 each. The fund yesterday increased its forecast for net operating cash flow by at least 2.5 per cent for 2008-09 and reaffirmed distribution guidance for 2007 at 12.5¢ a share and 14¢ a share for 2008.

Windfarm trip

Summit Sun
Thursday 19/4/2007 Page: 19

A THREE-DAY trip to Ararat, Victoria, is planned to familiarise Cooma and district residents with the effects of windfarms. The trip is planned for late May and will cost local residents wanting to attend, but will hopefully answer any questions they may have.

Beverley Allen from the Friends of Renewable Energy, based in Berridale, is organising the event and encourages locals to come along. "We will be offering residents a trip to the Challicum Hills Wind Farm - which is a very successful windfarm. It is the perfect example of the community and the NSW Government working together well," Mrs Allen said.

Roaring tiger, smoking dragon

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 26/4/2007 Page: 10

AUSTRALIA should be rattled by news that China will soon be the world's biggest greenhouse gas polluter. It is playing a big part in helping China achieve this unhappy distinction. China is expected to overtake the United States as early as November, not in 2010 as previously forecast.

At the same time, China is prevaricating about previous pledges to slow carbon emissions; it wants instead to protect its roaring economic growth. Outpolluting the US is bad enough, but if China makes no effort to restrain emissions, it will within a quarter of a century be spewing out twice as much pollution as the world's 26 richest industrial nations combined. Without China, international climate change policy has no chance of success.

Rising smog levels in China have put Australia in an especially uncomfortable position, and not just because regional monsoons caused by Asian haze are affecting our north. Australia's recent prosperity owes much to being a key supplier of the iron ore, nickel, coal and aluminium fuelling China's economic growth and its soaring emissions. Then there is Australia's environmental standing.

The Federal Government's insistence that Australia cannot afford meaningful emission reduction targets - despite a new CSIRO report to the contrary - leaves Australia with no moral leverage. It is true - as the Prime Minister, John Howard, says - that without China and India, no global climate change plan will work. But it is also true that only nations which are cleaning up their act can exert useful moral influence beyond their borders.

Recent contradictory signals from China suggest an unresolved internal debate on how far to go in moderating economic growth to protect the environment. China's key foreign policy objective of peaceful growth and global economic integration means Beijing is no longer impervious to international pressure. Nor is it blind to the local impact of air pollution, which the World Bank blames for 427,000 Chinese deaths a year. Beijing recently introduced a progressive renewable energy policy. But at the same time, China's oil imports are rising by 30 per cent annually, while five new coal-fired power stations come on line each week. The official line this week is economic growth first - but that is not the last word.

China's experts predict climate change will cause severe droughts, the expansion of deserts, dwindling harvests and the spread of disease. Their conclusion: the terrible cost of doing nothing outweighs the short-term benefits of carbon-driven growth. Beijing - and Canberra - take note.