Thursday 7 June 2007

Blown away by wind power

Cooma Monaro Express
Thursday 31/5/2007 Page: 5

THE information gained by the visit to Ararat was invaluable to get a greater understanding of turbines on the Monaro, according to some who went on the trip. Friends of Renewable Energy spokesperson Bev Allen said everyone who went gained a greater understanding of how wind farms could affect a community.

"Everybody on the bus found the trip very informative, like the contours of the land there is similar to here, and how pleasing the wind towers looked," said Mrs Allen. "There were several people who had their doubts, but while on the trip, the consensus was that the wind farms were pleasing to the eye. "I'd be prepared to help anyone who wants to visit a particular windfarm or to organise another windfarm bus trip," she said.

Councillor Roger Norton represented Cooma Monaro Shire Council and said wind farms in Ararat seemed to be successful. "They seem to have been a splendid success in Ararat, but that doesn't mean it's received the same acceptance in other places," said Mr Norton.

"I spoke to current councillors and the Ararat mayor and they indicated that the community had accepted them (wind farms) and supported them... and had provided an extensive economic benefit to the shire. "Apparently Pacific Hydro went through extensive community consultation beforehand and as result when proposed wind farms were put out for public discussion there wasn't a single written complaint or opposition," he said.

Big crowd at Clean Energy meeting

Bega District News
Tuesday 5/6/2007 Page: 5

THE Bermagui Country Club auditorium was packed to overflowing on Sunday afternoon for a Clean Air for Energy meeting.

President for Clean Energy for Eternity, Matthew Nott, said the Bega Valley and neighbouring shires should set themselves up as centres of excellence for renewable energy with their aims of 50 per cent reduction in energy use from renewable sources by 2020. He said the small town of Ararat in Victoria had embraced wind farming and now had a factory producing wind turbine blades that employed 700 people.

In Austria, the town of Guessing with a population of 4,000 in 1989 was now the home to the European Centre of Renewable Energy and 1,000 new jobs had come on line in 15 years in the renewable energy projects there.

Phillipa Rowland, Derek Povel and Bill Caldicott from the Clean Energy working group showed in graphs and pie charts how much power we use and the effects this consumption had on the atmosphere. On a positive note they then explained what people could do to change the situation that day, the next month and the next year.

That day they could contact their energy supplier and sign on to Greenpower; they could check their tyres to make sure that were pumped up properly; and then drive home at a slower pace. Once home they could be economical with lights, cooking and heating. They were told 20 per cent of their energy consumption was on hot water so they should have shorter showers, not only to save water but to save power.

Dr Nott asked those in the hall whether they had low energy lighting in their homes and a sea of hands went up. On a monthly basis people could check the design of their houses, their insulation and their curtains. Energy saving devices could be retro-fitted to make homes more sustainable, they were told.

What people could do in a year was think very carefully about the car they drove and whether it would be possible to switch to a hybrid. They could also look into installing gas hot water or have a solar hot water system backed by electricity or, ideally, have a complete solar system providing all needed electricity and returning some to the grid.

Sculptor Richard Moffatt said communication and education were a big part of the campaign and explained how this happened through the installation of the Cyclone Eternity sculpture.

Derek Povel said the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla Shire Councils were working toward the 50/50 by 2020 solution, subsidising the installation of solar and wind energy at the Bega and Pambula Surf Clubs. Council staff were also looking to use smaller cars and globes in council offices had been changed to light energy globes.

Bill Caldicott called in those in the hall to start using their influence at their schools, their churches or any other organisations to which they belonged to become carbon neutral.

A wind farm could be set up in the shire and this was being examined by those who could measure whether such a development would work. Dr Nott reiterated that going forward with renewable energy would be. a source of jobs and help the economy, not the opposite.

He said that Bermagui could spread the message by having a 50/50 by 2020 sign on its water tower but council said the community would have to agree so he was asking whether people were in favour of that move and they were unanimously.

Students from Bermagui Public School, Lumen Christi Christian College and Moruya High School spoke on what they doing to reduce energy use.

Wind power lights up district

Northern District Times
Wednesday 6/6/2007 Page: 5

WIND farms in rural areas produce a small part of the electricity used to light the streets, parks and council buildings of Ryde and Hornsby. Most electricity in NSW comes from coalfired power stations, making the power sector the biggest emitters of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

Councils are big users of electricity, with more than a third of their power bill going to street lighting. Both Ryde and Hornsby councils buy a modest 10 per cent of their electricity from a renewable GreenPower source.

Audited by the NSW Government, GreenPower electricity is produced mainly by wind turbines and solar power plants. The 10 per cent mix of GreenPower electricity falls short of the renewable energy targets needed to prevent runaway climate change.

Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 60 per cent by 2050, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. To meet the target, almost a third of our energy should come from renewable sources by 2030.

Both Ryde and Hornsby councils have been busy installing low-energy light bulbs and other energy-saving measures. Hornsby set itself the target of reducing Greenhouse emissions by 20 per cent by 2010, compared to 1996 levels. The council has already achieved a 23 per cent reduction in emissions across all its activities, saving 2344 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Ryde Council also gave itself a target of a 20 per cent reduction by 2010, but this was set against the more bloated baseline of the 2004 financial year. At the smaller Hunters Hill Council, a spokeswoman could not point to any GreenPower or energy-saving schemes.

Sustainable Energy Supply For Hopetoun: Unique power combination

Esperance Express
Wednesday 6/6/2007 Page: 1

POWER supply to the coastal town of Hopetoun was given a boost recently with the opening of a $7.5 million wind-diesel power project.

Built by Verve Energy, the second wind turbine and seven-diesel generator power station will provide the community with a sustainable energy supply based on renewable wind energy. Verve Energy is working alongside power company Horizon Power on the project, which was funded by the utility companies and aided by Federal Government grants.

Verve Energy Manager of Corporate Relations Peter Skinner said the decision to replace older generators in Hopetoun and construct a second wind turbine was made to accommodate the need for a reliable energy supply for the growing community. The first wind turbine was built in Hopetoun in 1993.

The project was officially opened by Minister for Energy Hon Francis Logan on May 30. The minister said he was impressed by the advanced technology utilised and the eco-friendly nature of the power source. "This will save 700,000 litres of diesel fuel and 1850 tonnes of greenhouse emissions each year, the equivalent of taking 50 cars off the road," he said.

Mr Skinner said between 40 and 90 per cent of Hopetoun's power will be supplied by the wind turbines, which are the same size as those in the Esperance windfarm. The diesel generators are designed to supply the remaining power demand and can run on as little as five per cent power generation, unlike older models that must generate at least 30 per cent of the total power needed.

Speaking at the project's official opening, Ravensthorpe Shire President Brenda Tilbrook praised the companies involved and said the station is vital to the continued growth of Hopetoun. Mr Skinner said the combination of wind and diesel power in Hopetoun is an innovative initiative and is not used anywhere else in the world.

He said there are opportunities for the power station to further reduce greenhouse emissions in the future and the company has had positive feedback from the Hopetoun community about the quality of power supply.

Capturing the wind

Herald Sun
Thursday 7/6/2007 Page: 73

ONE of only a handful of Australian listed renewable energy companies has managed to put its foot on some interesting technology. CBD Energy yesterday announced an equity swap deal with German giant I-Sol to buy out a system of renewable energy storage.

Using graphite blocks, the technology claims to overcome two of the biggest barriers to connecting wind farms to electricity grids. The storage units smooth out the big peaks and troughs that come from windmills and provide more of a baseload capacity that doesn't destabilise the electricity network.

Traditionally fickle wind energy needs to be backed up by alternative generators. German solar power company and technology partner Solon is spending about $5 million to buy a 19 per cent stake in CBD. CBD shares closed stable on 14.50.

Wednesday 6 June 2007

Wind farmers fight blow to their hopes

Courier Mail
Wednesday 6/6/2007 Page: 43

THRIVING wind and biomass energy businesses that pump billions of dollars into the economy would be killed off if the states were forced to abandon clean power schemes, an industry body warned yesterday. The Business Council for Sustainable Energy will meet government officials today to argue against a recommendation by Prime Minister John Howard's carbon emissions task group that effectively ends incentives for the industry.

The Task Group on Emissions Trading, headed by Peter Shergold, last week called for state Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) schemes to be abandoned. BCSE said yesterday it will present Mr Howard's advisers with a study that showed $11.9 billion of new investment and 12,000 additional jobs would be lost overseas if state schemes were unravelled. "To deliver objectives under the schemes, some companies have already committed substantial capital over 10 years because of the incentives," BCSE executive director Ric Brazzale said.

BCSE estimates the renewables sector, which employs 20,000 people, is worth $6 billion. "We will be reinforcing the importance of setting a mandatory target of 20 per cent of electricity to be produced from renewable energy sources by 2020," he said. "We will be advocating that a national renewable energy scheme along the lines of MRET be implemented." Melbourne-based wind farm operator Pacific Hydro said yesterday that if electricity companies were not encouraged to buy clean power the renewable energy industry would go into hibernation. "The only thing driving investment in new generation in the next five to 10 years are the state-based schemes of

Victoria, NSW and Queensland," Pacific Hydro chief executive Rob Grant said yesterday. "Under an increased clean energy target in conjunction with emissions trading, Pacific Hydro stands ready to invest more than $1 billion in renewable energy projects in southern Australia." Without a target, the company said it would take its investment capital to Chile and Brazil. "We have enormous wind resources along the southern coast because there is nothing between us and Antarctica," Mr Grant said. Mr Grant said that clean power targets that existed throughout the world now were largely being met by wind energy.

Positive signs for Musselroe Wind Farm

North Eastern Advertiser
Wednesday 30/5/2007 Page: 3

Musselroe Bay is a good wind resource, and Roaring 40s is in a food position.
RENEWABLE energy target legislation soon to be enacted by the NSW Labor state government may provide the necessary incentive to enable the Musselroe Bay wind farm to proceed.

The legislation allows NSW retailers to meet the target by buying renewable energy from other states. Renewable energy company Roaring 40s (Hydro Tasmania's joint venture initiative) has received all the necessary approvals for its $230 million project at Musselroe Bay, but after the Federal government decided against lifting is renewable energy targets, the company put the project on hold. But Roaring 40s spokesman Josh Bradshaw said the NSW legislation has given the company renewed hope that the Musselroe Bay scheme will become feasible.

State energy minister David Llewellyn has spoken to his NSW counterpart who is aware of the wind farm plan for Musselroe Bay, and Roaring 40s personnel have already had preliminary discussions with NSW retailers. "We are optimistic although there is no guarantee until we have seen the legislation," Mr Bradshaw said.

Meanwhile the Prime Minister's taskforce on Emissions Trading will be released this week. Hydro Tasmania made a submission to this taskforce. It is the largest renewable energy generator in Australia producing approximately 60 per cent of Australia's renewable energy.

Mr Bradshaw said big business had now recognised the significance of greenhouse gas emissions, and he believed that there was now a growing push for governments to become involved in the issue. "Musselroe Bay is a good wind resource, and Roaring 40s is in a good position to respond to any shift in government policies," Mr Bradshaw said. He was in Scottsdale last week and spoke to Dorset Mayor Peter Partridge to keep the council informed about the company's renewed enthusiasm for the local project.

Tuesday 5 June 2007

Jobs thrown on rubbish heap

Sunday Age
Sunday 3/6/2007 Page: 18

The Federal Government's lack of support for eco-technologies is forcing business off-shore.

THE long-awaited Prime Ministerial taskforce on emissions trading may have sounded the death knell for Australia's renewable energy sector. Backing a national emissions trading scheme, it recommended that it be "technology neutral", which means Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets would be abolished in favour of letting the market decide which energy source was most likely to cut carbon emissions. The lack of targets has already relegated Australia, once a global leader in renewable technology, into a "could have been".

As Prime Minister John Howard released the report, China's SunTech Power Holdings company was busily churning out shiny solar panels, ready to soak up all that free energy. Suntech has every reason to love the sunshine: it's said to be hoping for a $135 million profit for 2007 - a 70 per cent increase on last year.

And it might just have been an Australian success story. Suntech's chief executive, Zhengrong Shi, according to Forbes rich list, is Australia's fifth wealthiest man (and China's third) and he learnt the tricks of his solar trade in Sydney. A graduate of the University of New South Wales's School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering and worth a reported $2.8 billion, he lives in China but holds Australian citizenship.

With inadequate Federal Government support and a coal industry that, according to its growing chorus of opponents, is unfairly courted, there are many renewable energy enterprises with Suntech-style potential that have either given up or turned their attention overseas, according to the Greens' climate change spokeswoman, Senator Christine Milne.

She says it's an economic and environmental tragedy. Ms Milne launched her Re-energising Australia report last month and says scant Federal Government support for the renewable industry has also made Australians feel the onus is on them to make changes. "People are feeling guilt-tripped," Ms Milne says. "Wherever I go it's clear to me that the community are way ahead of the politics when it comes to climate change. They are really worried and they want to take whatever action they can." But she says shifting to solar electricity or a hybrid car is often prohibitively expensive.

Ms Milne says renewable energy enterprises frequently tell her they are ready to dive into the local market but the Government's refusal to increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) has dried up investment and to varying degrees forced businesses out. Because the Government won't increase the MRET (originally set at 9500 gigawatt hours, equivalent to about 2 per cent, of additional renewable energy generation per year by 2010), Victoria, NSW and South Australia have instead taken the lead with various targets of their own. Victoria is aiming to buy 10 per cent of power from renewable sources by 2016.

Another study, released recently by the Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace Asia-Pacific and Climate Action Network Australia, said a renewable energy target of 25 per cent by 2020 could deliver 17,000 new jobs and provide enough electricity to power every home in Australia. It said such a target would reduce emissions by about 15 per cent from 2004 levels and bring big savings for Australian households.

Tristan Edis, policy and research manager for the Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy, says there is now a global battle to develop renewable technologies and industries that can tackle greenhouse emissions and at the same time end dependence on "unreliable, volatile and often hostile regimes" that supply oil and gas.

Renewables are a $40 billion plus global industry; and while Australia used to be a leader in solar technology, Mr Edis says the world "has flown past us", with Germany now taking the lead, building a solar and wind turbine industry that exports globally and employs 157,000 people, closely followed by Spain. The rest of Europe is following, with the EU setting a 20 per cent renewable energy target for 2020. Even the US, which along with Australia has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse emissions, is in the ascendant, with populous states such as California setting a 33 per cent target for 2020.

Some renewable energy enterprises remain hopeful. After announcing in May last year that it was halting work on its big Australian wind farm projects and focusing overseas, the Roaring 40s company is now taking an optimistic line. Its spokesman, Josh Bradshaw, says he now sees a more buoyant market and, with an approaching federal election, the Howard Government is making "good movements" towards an emissions trading scheme, announcing on Friday that Australia will begin carbon emissions trading by 2012.

Melbourne-based Pacific Hydro, a renewable energy power plant development company owned mainly by an Australian super fund, has had a hard slog locally but is also having great success - overseas. Its director, Andrew Richards, says all its Australian wind projects were stalled for several years due to the Federal Government's refusal to expand MRET.

But in the meantime the company has been busy developing a number of hydro and wind projects in developing countries such as Chile and Brazil (both are $500 million investments). Because Victoria has instituted its own renewable energy target, Pacific Hydro has now revived its local wind projects at Portland (a $300 million investment) and South Australia. It is also investigating a geothermal project in central Australia.

While Mr Richards and others estimate that enormous investment opportunities have been lost while waiting for the Government to take a firm stand, a spokeswoman for the federal Environment and Water Resources Department says it is not true to say that current measures are focused disproportionately on fossil fuels. Renewables are important in Australia's "energy mix", she says. "The Government is supporting a range of low emissions technologies," she says.

This includes the $52 million it has spent on the photovoltaic rebate program, $25 million committed under the Asia- Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate program, plus $75 million on the Solar Cities program. In last month's budget, $741 million of extra funding over the next five years was committed for bigger rebates for solar panels and other climate change measures. "Making coal and coal mining less greenhouse intensive is perhaps the most important contribution Australia can make on climate change," she says.

But Senator Milne and the ACF remain sceptical about "clean" coal (removing the CO2 from its emissions), with few signs that effective technology will be online - or even feasible - within the next decade. The ACF's executive director, Don Henry, insists that the demand for renewables is there already, with people keen to live more sustainably.

Target too low

Colac & Corangamite Extra
Tuesday 5/6/2007 Page: 1

A HIGHER national renewable energy target would be more effective in prompting construction of wind farms in the south-west than the introduction of a carbon emissions trading scheme, the Australian Wind Energy Association said. Association chief executive officer Dominque La Fontaine was responding to a report by a Federal taskforce that called for a carbon emissions trading scheme to be set up by 2012.

Ms La Fontaine said a carbon emissions trading scheme would not trigger investment in wind farms such as the $380 million one planned for Mount Gellibrand, west of Colac, until decades after the scheme began. She said coal, oil and gas-fired power stations currently contributed about half of the nation's carbon emissions and prompt specific action was needed to quickly reduce their emissions. "We want a market for clean energy product," Ms La Fontaine said.

She said the market for clean energy created through existing national and Victorian renewable energy targets was already close to being met. State targets needed to rolled into a national target and the national clean energy target lifted to 20 per cent of electricity generation by 2020, Ms La Fontaine said. The current national target is 9500 gigawatt hours of clean energy by 2020, which will be less than 10 per cent.

Ms Fontaine said clean energy targets were necessary because clean energy could not compete against "dirty energy" on price alone. She said her association was happy to compete with other forms of clean energy for the 20 per cent target. The international experience was to implement strong renewable energy targets prior to an emissions trading scheme, she said. Wind farms such as the 116-turbine Mount Gellibrand wind farm, east of Colac, have been approved by the State Government but no construction has occurred while the projects wait for investors.

Wind Hydrogen Ltd earlier this year pulled out of the project because of difficulty in finding investors and returned the project to the hands of the initial project developer, German company Pro Ventum International GmbH. Wind Hydrogen had been unable to secure a purchasing agreement from an energy retailer for wind energy produced at Mount Gellibrand.

Residents angry over deSal plan

Harvey Leschenault Reporter
05/06/2007 Page: 1

MORE than 300 people attended a fiesty desalination plant information meeting at Binningup last Tuesday night. Residents were obviously angry that the project was announced as a "fait accompli" and concerned that the public consultation process would achieve little.

In the words of one resident: "how can we have input when the decisions have already been made?" But Binningup Community Association president Marie Dilley says the real issue is the siting of an industrial plant near a pristine beach and close to the backyards of residents. She believes it is not too late to change the decision. Mrs Dilley said she was pleased with the outcome of the meeting where residents were able to convey their concerns. She said it was well conducted and the Water Corporation representatives were forthcoming with information.

Issues of particular concern were noise pollution, the visual impact on future northwards residential development, beach access, chlorine storage, waste disposal and marine life degradation. Some residents were yet to be convinced that Kemerton was not a better option and were concerned that the future of the water treatment plant at Binningup was yet to be resolved.

Senior Water Corporation staff including South West manager Chris Elliott, executive projects manager John Wallis, project director Nick Churchill and environment branch manager David Luketina were there to give an overview of the project and answer questions. Mr Elliott told the gathering that the announcement by the Premier was a surprise to many people including some of his staff.

He said there was still a lot of work to be done but the corporation saw the need to start the consultation process as soon as possible and the senior project people at the meeting would endeavour to give informed answers. "This is the first step in a consultation process that will continue for the next four years," he said. "We will be targeting the communities of Binningup and Myalup and key stakeholders such as farmers along the linking pipeline route and the Harvey shire." Mr Elliott said Binningup was his "water spot" so he knew it well and had interests in common with residents of the area. "Our mission tonight is to listen and inform," he said.

Project director Nick Churchill gave a brief overview of the water resource dilemma facing the corporation and its integrated water system, which provides a linked water supply to most of the South West land division including Perth and the goldfields. He said sites from Lancelin south had been investigated and Binningup was the stand-out choice. Advantages were that it was on a 4Oha site owned by the Water Corporation, its proximity to open ocean, environmental aspects in relation to the site location, reasonable access to power and the integrated water system. It is planned to connect the plant via a pipe to the main near Harvey.

Mr Churchill said Kemerton had been ruled out because of limited space at the corporation's site and the huge cost of pumping water to and from the ocean. He said the Binningup plant would be gravity fed from the ocean. The plant will initially produce 45 gigalitres of water annually and it would be expanded to 100gL at a later date. Daily intake would equate to 140 Olympic size swimming pools and the equivalent of 70 salt loaded pools would be pumped back into the ocean. When at full capacity the plant would require 2Oha allowing a 2Oha buffer area.

Mr Churchill displayed an aerial view of the Kwinana plant to give the meeting an insight into the infrastructure requirements. The biggest structure is a "Bunnings" sized shed which would be screened from the residential areas about 1km to the south. There will be no big smokestacks or big tanks. Mr Churchill said beach access would be restricted during construction but after rehabilitation the dunes and beach areas would be back to their original condition. Pipes would be buried several metres under the sand and the ocean outfall and intake would be several hundred metres offshore with no impacts on coastal reefs or seagrass areas.

Mr Luketina assured the meeting that there would be no impact on marine life and the buffer would ensure that there was no impact on nearby residents. Evidence from 30 other similar plants worldwide had shown that there had been no impact on marine habitats and this was evident at Kwinana. Mr Luketina said there would be no emissions from the plant and residue from the treatment process would be trucked to the nearest suitable landfill site. This would amount to one truckload per day.

He said the project needed to go through a stringent EPA approval process and would be subject to exhaustive environmental monitoring during and after construction. Mr Elliott said the time frame for construction would be a start date of 2009 and completion by 2011. Preliminary design work had been done. The plant would use big amounts of power and the State Government's requirement was for this to come from renewable energy sources. However these would be remote and there were no plans to establish a wind farm locally.

Teetering on the climate cliff

Canberra Times
05/06/2007 Page: 11

A building in Bruce that has cut its C02 emissions by 75 per cent shows what can be done if there's the will.

LET ME get this right. Our Prime Minister now applauds the idea of a long-term goal to help its cut greenhouse gas emissions. He just doesn't like any of the goals he has heard of. They are all apparently too big. Labor wants a 60 per cent cut by 2050. Sir Nicholas Stern wants 0 to 90 per cent. Labor's Peter Garrett once wanted 20 per cent, but by 2020. It's the 20 per cent cut that worries John Howard the most. Apparently it would bring on a recession because 2020 is too soon. I'm not so sure.

There's a building in Bruce that has cut its CO2 emissions by 75 per cent. It took about a year to fit out. The headquarters of Australian Ethical Investment in the Fern Hill Technology Park looks pretty much the same as its neighbouring corporate headquarters. The strata rules don't allow it to look different. But when I visited at the end of summer it sounded different. The block next door had the air-conditioner churning. Australian Ethical's airconditioner was off and silent, yet inside everything was cool.

The trick was insulation 7.5cm thick, on the outside of the bricks rather than the inside, and an automated system for sucking out heat at night. The building waits until a Canberra summer night is at its coldest and then opens louvres and turns on a fan that sticks out all of the hot air, replaces it with cold air, and shuts the louvres again.

My tour guide, a director of the firm, Howard Pender, told me that the most surprising thing about the fit-out was that all of the emission saving technology was established. If it were possible for Australian ethical to cuts its emissions by 75 per cent, it should be possible for every office block in Canberra to do the same.

Australian Ethical spent $2.3 million on the building and another $1.7 million on the fit out. It has slashed its energy and water costs, its staff are happier because the building is pleasant to work in (nearly all of the light was natural the day I was there) and it has hugely increased the building's value. Now what was that about a cut in greenhouse gas emissions bringing on a recession?

Queensland is planning to cut emissions faster than Garrett ever proposed. When I last looked it still had its AAA credit rating. The Queensland proposal highlights one of what to me are the two weaknesses in the otherwise excellent report on emissions trading adopted by the Prime Minister on Sunday.

The state plans to reach its target using not only emissions trading (beloved of economists) but also by less fashionable regulation. All new commercial buildings in Queensland will be required to reach a four star energy efficiency rating by 2010, from March all new houses approved have been required to install greenhouse friendly hot wall systems and after 2O1O, when an existing electric hot water system dies, it will have to be replaced by a gas or greenhouse friendly alternative. And so on.

What alarms me about the report endorsed by the Prime Minister is that it suggests that Australia's existing Mandatory Renewable Energy Target abolished upon the introduction of emissions trading. Apparently by mandating that a certain proportion of' electricity sourced from renewable sources if is attempting to "pick winners''.

There is no doubt that the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target Scheme was successful until the Government wound back its scope. The Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, is reported to have told a meeting of fossil fuel executives in 2001 that it had worked too well. But economists aren't as much impressed by success as they are by Process. Rules requiring that a certain proportion of a retailers' energy be renewable are apparently a costly means of achieving greenhouse gas reductions. Even worse, the cost of the rules was "hidden in the electricity market, where consumers are forced to cross-subsidise renewable energy generators".

The economists from the Treasury who presumably put this sort of language in the report didn't seem too worried that they were hiding costs when they set up the GST. The whole idea of our goods and services tax was that it would be invisible. It is even illegal for retailers to display pre-GST prices on their counters. The GST was introduced this way because it would work. The Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets Scheme has worked as well.

The chief point I took away from Sir Nicholas Stern's address to the National Press Club in March was that the British economist and author of the Stern report on climate change wasn't too hung up on using only economically pure means to fix things up. As he talked of what would happen if the world got a lot hotter I imagined a human being clinging on to the edge of a cliff by her fingers. Even if she were an economist she would not want to rely on only economically pure tools to scamper back up - she would want to use every tool at her disposal. (And she probably wouldn't want to wait until 2012 as the Prime Minister proposed on Sunday.)

To me there is one other regrettable weakness in the landmark report presented to the Prime Minister on Thursday. The report is upfront about acknowledging who will be hurt most by the system it is proposing. The biggest victims will not be Australia's power companies; they will be able to pass on their increased costs. In the words of the report: "Regardless of how permits are allocated, much of the cost from imposing a constraint on emissions will ultimately be borne by Australian households.''

Australia's least-well off households will bear the biggest brunt. Unable to afford the sort of energy-saving measures that I saw in the office building at Bruce, their electricity bills may double. Yet the Prime Minister's taskforce advises that "the household sector should not be shielded from the price changes arising from a decision to impose a carbon constraint on the economy- this would act counter to price based incentives to change consumer behaviour".

The only compensation it suggests is that the Government ''may wish to consider helping households to constrain costs through better management of their consumption of carbon-intensive products''. An education campaign is no substitute for cash. Australia's least well off didn't cause climate change. They should not be the most heavily punished by our totally understandable attempt to ward it off.

Mt Oxley wind farm

Western Herald
01/06/2007 Page: 3

Wind farm development company, Babcock and Brown, says plans for a $30 million wind farm on Mount Oxley are progressing well. The company has proposed building a seven turbine wind farm, which will provide more than enough electricity to power Bourke.

Testing is still proceeding on what interference the wind farm may cause to existing telecommunication equipment, but the company expects to begin the development application process within weeks. "It's been a slow process, but it is progressing well," said Cohn Paterson from Babcock and Brown. "We're just basically tying up a few regulatory loose ends and then we'll start the official DA process."

Windy boom a boon for energy investors

Herald Sun
05/06/2007 Page: 31

A COUPLE of years ago Garry Weaven seemed to have made a brave call by paying $788 million to end a bidding war for listed company Pacific Hydro. Now the Industry Funds Management chair seems to have made an inspired choice in picking up the international wind and hydroelectric company. Around the world, renewable power sources in general and wind energy assets in particular are attracting premium prices.

As the world adjusts to the idea of reducing the use of carbon, wind energy has been backed by investors as the renewable energy of choice. Despite some misgivings about the fickle nature of wind energy and its potential to destabilise power grids, companies large and small are now backing the technology with some serious money.

European research group CLSA have estimated $180 billion will be spent on wind energy projects around the world in the next five years. "Wind has the biggest potential to meet renewable energy targets over the next decade compared with solar and biofuels," Philippe de Week told Bloomberg. Which is why the Pictet Clean Energy fund he manages for Pictet & Co is backing the technology.

The big beneficiaries of this wind boom are the windmill makers with shares in the biggest company in the field, Vestas Wind Systems, more than doubling in price over the past year. "Wind energy is cheaper than solar, it's a less risky form of investment," Michael McNamara told Bloomberg. "The demand for quality wind turbines is so high, we won't see supply meet demand for several years," said the London-based analyst at Jefferies International.

Behind this boom are major countries such as China and the US which are rapidly implementing wind energy. China plans to expand wind energy at an annual rate of about two gigawatts in the run-up to the Olympics. That is predicted to reach five gigawatts, enough to supply more than seven million homes, by 2010 and 30 gigawatts by 2020.

It is a similar story in the US which is rapidly installing wind energy. Some analysts have gone so far as describing the US as the "Saudi Arabia of wind" because the Midwest area is so windy and flat. Overall about one per cent of the world's power needs are generated by wind but that is much higher in some European countries such as Denmark (25 percent), Spain (nine percent) and Germany (seven per cent).

Moving ahead of the debate

Ballarat Courier
05/06/2007 Page: 18

AS Australia's politicians grapple with the best way to tackle climate change, companies like Pacific Hydro are already providing part of the solution. Working for more than seven years in western Victoria, Pacific Hydro has operating wind farms at Challicum Hills near Ararat and at Codrington. Combined, they produce enough energy each year to provide the equivalent power needs of about 60,000 Victorian homes, all without dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.

Pacific Hydro community relations manager Emily Wood said Australia had incredible wind resources. "It is cheaper and more efficient to have wind energy in Australia than in many other parts of the world yet it is still a fairly new form of energy here," she said. "The simple reason why Australia doesn't have much wind energy right now is that, on the surface, coal looks cheaper," Ms Wood said. "But while coal looks cheaper on the surface, in the long run it isn't.''

This is the essence of the debate: calculating the total impact of climate change. CSIRO figures indicate climate change will mean declining rainfall in south eastern Australia, more bushfires and rising temperatures. "When you look at the trite cost of burning fossil fuels for electricity and include the billions of tonnes of water they require and the millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas they produce, you can see why the trite cost of coal is far more than just cost of electricity," Ms Wood said.

Scientists warn that without deep cuts to emissions, our climate could change unpredictably. Pacific Hydro said that looking for a single, silver bullet solution is unrealistic. "Clean, zero emissions energy sources like wind and solar are ready to go, proven technologies and can provide 20 per cent by 2020 clean energy in Australia. Combine this with energy efficiency and emissions trading and we could begin reducing our greenhouse emissions today,'' Ms Wood said.

Wind's power too much for wires

Hobart Mercury
05/06/2007 Page: 10

AUSTRALIA'S biggest wind farm is unable to put the full amount of power generated back into the Tasmanian grid.

The final stage of the 140-megawatt Woolnorth wind farm on the coast west of Smithton is in the final stages of commissioning. But current transmission lines in the northwest are not capable of handling the farm's full capacity. Energy company Transend said yesterday the capacity of the northwest transmission system was being increased. Transend general manager connections and strategic development Stephen Clark said a $20-million augmentation of electricity transmission lines between Burnie, Port Latta and Smithton continues.

"This work will improve the reliability and security of Transend's electricity transmission service in northwest Tasmania." Mr Clark said. "Transend's investment will ensure that there is adequate transmission capacity in the northwest to meet the anticipated increase in demand for electricity in the area over the next 15 years." The work involves replacing copper conductors with aluminium conductors on the lines between Burnie and Port Latta.

Transend is also increasing the operating design temperatures on existing conductors between Port Latta and Smithton. "Transend is working cooperatively with Roaring 40s, the company that owns the Woolnorth Wind Faun," Mr Clark said. "Roaring 40s is planning its electricity generation program from Woolnorth in line with Transend's augmentation timetable."

Roaring 40s public relations manager Josh Bradshaw said yesterday the company was aware of the transmission restrictions. "We are working with Transend. who are doing some upgrading of their system, and it is our understanding they will have done the upgrades by the end of the year," Mr Bradshaw said. "This was always factored into our business case, so there are no surprises for us."

Wind fight turns ugly

Ballarat Courier
02/06/2007 Page: 1

SMEATON wind farm opponents could sue their neighbours if a proposal to build 19 turbines in the area goes ahead. The Spa Country Landscape Guardians group hired a Melbourne law firm, Terence F. Grundy, to send letters to landholders who have agreed or intend to have turbines on their properties. In the letter Mr Grundy stated: ''My client reserves its rights to pursue you personally for any economic loss and loss of enjoyment of property rights should you grant a lease to the proponent for the purposes of the proposal."

Wind Power, the company behind the Stoney Rises proposal north of Smeaton, has accused the group of hypocrisy. "I think it's extraordinary we get accused of intimidation,'' director Andrew Newbold said. We don't do that sort of thing, we don't write to people via registered post saying that sort of thing. We have written to the people who received it and assured them we are doing everything in compliance with state and federal regulations and if we are approved there is no legal recourse."

Spa Country Landscape Guardians group spokesman Will Elsworth said the letter was not threatening or intimidating and said objectors were only exercising their right. It's not threatening. It's only advising we are going to take action in the advent the proposal goes ahead," he said. Mr Grundy said he was following instructions and his clients were only sticking up for their rights.

They are fighting a corporation that has got a lot of money, they are in business and they are just putting people on notice," he said. We are putting people on notice that if they co-operate with these people and go ahead with it we will sue. There is a big difference at law between intimidating or harassing people... so they are aware of what may happen and the consequence of their action."

Robert Jones, owner of the Tuki Trout Farm, said he had received a letter and passed it onto Wind Power. Everybody is entitled to their opinions on the proposal," Mr Jones said. I am supportive and know the need for renewable energy. I think we have got to get our heads together and somebody has to bite the bullet and create these locations whether it's solar, wind or whatever else."

A consultation meeting will be held tomorrow, at the Smeaton Bowling Club from 10am to 3pm.

States defy call to wind up schemes

Weekend Australian
02/06/2007 Page: 8

AT least two states yesterday vowed to keep their Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets despite the Shergold report recommending the schemes be scrapped. The Prime Minister's Task Group Report on Emissions Trading strongly urged for state MRET schemes to be scrapped if a cap-and-trade scheme was introduced.

"All Australian schemes that set mandatory targets for deployment of particular technologies should be wound Victorian Climate Change Minister John Thwaites warned that a move by the federal Government to scrap Victoria's renewable energy targets would jeopardise $2 billion of investment in renewable energy projects and 2200 jobs. "The VRET has been specifically designed to co-exist with a national emissions trading scheme," he said.

A spokesman for NSW Premier Morris lemma said the state would keep its MRET of 15 per cent renewable energy by 2020.

Howard still dragging feet on climate change: Thwaites

AAP Newswire

MELBOURNE, June 3 AAP - Prime Minister John Howard is still dragging his heels on climate change, the Victorian government says. Mr Howard today announced that Australia would have a domestic carbon emissions trading scheme running by 2012, with an emissions reduction target to be set next year.

But Victorian Deputy Premier John Thwaites said Mr Howard was still delaying real action on tackling global warming. "John Howard has spent the last few years slamming the states for proposing an emissions trading scheme," he said. "Now John Howard has admitted he's wrong, but he's still proposing further delays on real action on climate change." Mr Thwaites said monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions needed to start immediately.

He said the states had now overruled the Howard government by introducing a scheme requiring big greenhouse gas emitters to report on their emissions from July 1, 2008. "This is a major step forward because it means for the first time we'll be able to properly monitor and manage greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

"John Howard tried to stop the states doing this yesterday but the states have gone ahead because we know that we've got to act and we have got to act now on climate change." Mr Thwaites said the scheme would be the first step in the establishment of an emissions trading scheme, which he believed could be in place by 2010.

Meanwhile, Victoria would press ahead with its clean energy schemes despite the Howard government's opposition, he said. "The Howard government is telling the states that they should abolish their schemes that are promoting wind energy and solar energy and yet at the same time he wants to promote nuclear energy," Mr Thwaites said. "(But) we will oppose the Howard government's attempts to wipe out these clean energy schemes and we will maintain those schemes."

Beattie targets hot water

Courier Mail
04/06/2007 Page: 5

ELECTRIC hot water systems will be phased out from 2010 under the State Government's new policy aimed at slashing greenhouse gas emissions. Homeowners will have to replace broken electric systems with gas or solar alternatives. The ban will not effect properties outside the reticulated gas network, but rebates on "green-friendly" systems will be offered to all owners.

In a controversial move, the Government has set targets to wean electricity generators off coal, including 18 per cent for gas and 10 per cent for renewable sources, such as wind and solar. Premier Peter Beattie said the policy would help Queensland reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 34 per cent by 2020.

"This is about a balanced approach," Mr Beattie said. "It is a package that will protect jobs, protect the Queensland economy but also save the environment." The policy, which is being put out for consultation, was given a luke warm response by the resources industry while it was slammed by green groups as grossly inadequate.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said his organisation would consider the targets during the consultation period. Queensland Conservation Council co-ordinator Toby Hutcheon said almost 10 per cent of the state's energy was already from renewable sources. In other measures, the Government will sell wind farms and gas pipelines for a $300 mil- lion climate change fund to develop new technologies. There also will be $55 million for business energy audits and $50 million to develop renewable energy alternatives.

All Queensland Government buildings will be carbon neutral by 2020 and commercial buildings will face new energy standards by 2010. The Government also will pay home solar system owners for producing additional power.

Beattie outlines climate strategy

Sunshine Coast Daily
04/06/2007 Page: 8

QUEENSLAND will cut its carbon emissions by over 30% by 2020 under a $414 million climate change strategy unveiled yesterday by premier Peter Beattie. Mr Beattie told a gathering of energy experts, environmentalists and business representatives in Brisbane the plan was to have 18% of the state's power generated by natural gas and 10% of energy coming from renewable sources by 2020.

The wide-ranging Climate Smart 2050 report is designed to reduce emissions by 34% by 2020 and by 60% by 2050, based on 2000 levels of emissions. The focus of the strategy is the creation of a $300 million Queensland Climate Change Fund, which will be used to develop new green technologies such as hydrogen fuel-cells.

The fund will be set up by the sale of the Queensland government's wind farm assets around Australia and the remaining gas assets of Enertrade, which include the Moranbah to Townsville gas pipeline. "This is about a balanced approach," Mr Beattie said. "This is a total package.

It is a package that will protect jobs, protect the Queensland economy but also save the environment." Mr Beattie said the interest from the climate change fund, expected to be about $20 million annually, will see ongoing investment in the future of climate change initiatives.