Friday 6 July 2007

Pipe's environmental cost causes concern

Shepparton News
Thursday 5/7/2007 Page: 4

Thirst for water savings should not distract from the environmental cost of a piped water system, says Goulburn Valley Environmental Group. Spokesman Terry Court said the current gravity irrigation system was relatively cheap in terms of carbon emissions, but the pumping of water savings to Melbourne would come at a cost to the environment.

Campaspe Shire Council Mayor John Elborough raised the issue of pollution from pumping earlier this week as a point that needed clarification from the Victorian Government. If diesel or electric pumps are going to be used to transport water to Melbourne, we want to know how the greenhouse gas is going to be dealt with," Cr Elborough said.

"Wind power could be used to power the pumps, like what they're talking about at the desalinisation plant." Mr Court said government needed to make sure a piped system could operate efficiently in the future. "I would think it would be appropriate to offset any carbon generated with renewable energy sources such as wind energy," he said. The council will be represented on the Foodbowl Modernisation Project steering committee by its chief executive Keith Baillie.

Virgin urges business to lead on warming

Friday 6/7/2007 Page: 40

AUSTRALIAN businesses have been urged to take advantage of technological breakthroughs arising from climate research. Virgin Blue chief executive Brett Godfrey said advances in technology to reduce greenhouse gasses could pay long-term dividends despite additional costs, in much the same way the costly space race between the US and the Soviet Union did.

Mr Godfrey this week challenged businesses to look beyond any short-term reductions in gross domestic product to the wider benefits. Recent figures in the The Economist showed global investment in renewable power generation, bio-fuels and low-carbon technologies rose to $US71 billion ($82.8 billion) in 2006, up 140 per cent in just two years, he said.

Mr Godfrey has become a vocal contributor to the environmental debate and has committed Virgin to a leadership role. He raised eyebrows last month by urging airlines to do more to address the issue, and warning that Australia's susceptibility to climate change meant that it could become unrecognisable if predictions of global warming were not addressed. Moves at Virgin to tackle the issue include the introduction of environmental programs aimed at reducing the airline's carbon footprint. In March it became the first airline to introduce what is believed to be the world's only government-certified airline carbon offset program.

Set up as part of an Australian Greenhouse Office initiative, it allows passengers to neutralise their emissions by donating money to approved greenhouse abatement projects such as reforestation, energy efficiency measures, recycling and renewable energy. It backed this with a board-approved financial commitment to address the greenhouse effect of crew, staff and other employees travelling on company business. It expects this to cost about $500,000 annually.

It last month introduced "waterless" aircraft cleaning by agreeing to coat its planes with a polymer that reduces drag and eliminates the need to wash the planes. Virgin has a fuel management group looking at strategies to further reduce fuel burn through more efficient flight planning and weight reduction and it is introducing waste, water and office recycling as well as green procurement. It has also joined 800 other businesses in the Greenhouse Challenge Plus program aimed at improving energy efficiencies, and will include its environmental impact in its statutory reporting from this year.

The Virgin chief likes to quote the Kermit the frog's famous it ain't easy being green" line when describing the transition. But, he says, the move is essential and soon, he believes, will be required of all businesses. Not surprisingly, he is opposed to suggestions that airlines should be subject to punitive taxes to offset environmental damage. He argues an across-the-board tax provides no incentive for people to innovate. But he strongly advocates carbon trading, even on a country-by-country basis. This puts him at odds with some of his international colleagues who argue carbon trading should not be introduced until there is a global system.

Godfrey believes business has been slow in acknowledging the sustainability issue but is now recognising that it is far better to be in the inner sanctum, participating in the design of future legislative change, than having it thrust upon them. This brings him back to his original point. "It is also likely that many companies are likely to be more inspired by the "carrot" of strategic and business opportunities than by the "stick" of regulation," he said.

The development of cleaner energy means new technology, and new technology to companies means money. "As crass as that sounds, nobody should be offended by it. In fact, it could be the profitability aims of business sector which become a key driver in rejuvenating our planet." To immediately address emissions in line with Kyoto expectations, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that a price of $25-$60 per tonne of carbon dioxide by 2020-30 should see CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere begin to stabilise at acceptable levels.

The Virgin boss called on all governments in Australia to take a lead on the issue. This included setting a long-term goal of reducing Australia's impact on the environment and, in conjunction with the world community, agreeing to safe and stable levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Business and the Australian government should also work together on a solution that offered tax credits and other fiscal incentives to unlock private enterprise in research and development.

Thursday 5 July 2007

Long wait for VCAT decision

Hepburn Shire Advocate
Wednesday 4/7/2007 Page: 7

A DECISION on the Leonards Hill wind farm proposal will not be released for at least a month. A Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing began on June 19, but it is expected to be months before a decision is handed down. Hepburn Shire Council approved the proposal in February despite receiving 18 objections. Objectors then went to VCAT to appeal the council's decision.

Melbourne-based company Future Energy and the Hepburn Renewable Energy Association are developing the wind farm. If passed, it will become Australia's first community owned wind farm, modelled on similar projects across Europe and the United States. The proposal consists of two two-megawatt wind turbines to be built on farmland at 2040 Ballan-Daylesford Rd, Leonards Hill. Future Energy managing director David Shapero said he hoped the group was granted a permit. "The project is a magnificent initiative by the community to take responsibility for their own energy needs," Mr Shapero said.

City hosts power event: Renewable energy in spotlight

Bendigo Advertiser
Thursday 5/7/2007 Page: 5

INNOVATIONS in renewable energy will be showcased when a conference in Bendigo brings together experts in the field in September. La Trobe University and the City of Greater Bendigo are hosting the conference, which will examine business opportunities for renewable energy in regional Australia. Organising committee chairman, councillor Keith Reynard, said the council had partnered with La Trobe University to formulate a diverse program. "The conference will focus Bendigo as a place for future research and development in renewable energy options," he said.

Mr Reynard said the conference had something for everyone, with a range of speakers likely to appeal to policy makers, property developers, community groups and other business groups. La Trobe University Centre for Sustainable Regional Communities director, Professor John Martin, said businesses involved in the production of renewable energy sources were already visible in regional areas. "We have the solar tower at Mildura, wind farms, biofuel plants, such as the one at Barnawartha now in construction, and feeder businesses, such as wind turbine and renewable energy regulator manufacturers, and others emerging," he said.

With a diverse program planned, attendees will be treated to topics such as the Hepburn Community Wind Farm story, the solar cities project in Townsville, wave energy, and small scale biomass gasification. Keynote speakers will include Minister John Brumby, Grant McVicar, director of the Office of Energy Conservation in Canada, and Bendigo Bank's chief executive officer Rob Hunt, with Rob Gell the Master of Ceremonies. The price tag of $590 for the full program includes dinner at Bendigo Town Hall on Monday, September 17.

Mr Reynard said the full program may appeal principally to government organisations and businesses, with different pricing structures available for single day attendances, or the dinner. "This is a great opportunity for business developers, planners and regional leaders to hear about the opportunities, challenges and scenarios ahead, including how renewable energy will be created, distributed and regulated." The conference will be held at the The Capital, Bendigo's Performing Arts Centre, from September 17 to 18.

For details and registration go to or phone 5434 6001.

Wednesday 4 July 2007

Power poles going up

Portland Observer
Friday 29/6/2007 Page: 3

Pacific Hydro's transmission line from the second stage of its Portland Wind Energy Project at Cape Bridgewater is nearly 50 per cent complete. Powercor and Alinta have been busy in the past few weeks putting up the power poles along various road easements in the district. The powerlines, their configuration and their routes across private land and on road easements were subject to controversy last year when several residents objected to them and the Pacific Hydro consultation process.

The wind energy company plans to have 43 kilometres of 66kv powerlines once the wind farms at capes Bridgewater, Grant and Nelson are completed. Work on the farms at capes Grant and Nelson will start once Cape Bridgewater is operating. Energy from the wind farms will link into the grid near the Portland Aluminium switchyard.

Clean energy plans

Bayside Bulletin
Tuesday 3/7/2007 Page: 3

CLEAN energy sources will hopefully supply at least half of Redland Shire's power needs in about five years, Mayor Don Seccombe has declared. He was speaking as Redland Shire Council unveiled a new green energy policy to encourage companies to invest locally in renewable energy technology such as solar, wind, wave and tidal power.

While specific projects were not spelt out in yesterday's Budget documents, the policy states the council will look at how it can support potential clean energy projects on a case-by-case basis. For example, financial grants and other support may be provided.

Cr Seccombe told the Bayside Bulletin he would like to get approvals in place for 50 per cent of the Shire's power to come from renewable sources by the end of the next council term in 3012. He said the Shire was blessed with numerous opportunities including North Stradbroke Island's strong winds, waves and tidal currents.

Cr Seccombe said the recently approved chicken-litter-fuelled biomass power plant at Mount Cotton would provide enough energy for up to 17 per cent of Redland Shire's needs. Ultimately, he wanted the see the Redlands become a "renewable energy shire" that was self-sufficient and could feed excess power into other areas. Cr Seccombe said he did not support nuclear power.

Winchelsea wind action

Colac Herald
Friday 29/6/2007 Page: 12

Plans to build a 14- turbine wind farm outside Winchelsea have cut through its first set of red tape. British company International Power plans to build the wind farm 10 kilometres north-east of Winchelsea.

The Department of Environment and Heritage has deemed the project is "not a controlled action", which means the wind farm does not breach federal environment laws. The decision this month followed a period for public submissions in May. International Power will need final approval from Surf Coast Shire Council before it can build the wind farm.

The project will not need the State Government's approval because it will produce only 28 megawatts of power. The State Government has planning control over wind farms which produce more than 30 megawatts of power. Winchelsea Wind Farm could produce enough electricity to power 14,000 homes.

Bioenergy preferred as `new' alternative

Lithgow Mercury
Tuesday 3/7/2007 Page: 12

Bioenergy is a greatly underutilised clean energy source that could help dramatically reduce greenhouse emissions, revive rural communities and strengthen energy security. The raw fuel for bioenergy comes from biological matter - `biomass' - such as the agricultural waste from wheat crops, cotton, rice, sugar cane and other crops; animal manure, wood and paper processing, and food scraps. Much of this biomass is in rural Australia.

Bioenergy offers the prospect of considerable employment and investment and a supplemental income stream to farming, while providing a clean, renewable and reliable source of baseload electricity. In contrast to some other energy technologies, bioenergy electricity plants are flexible as well as reliable: they can be turned on and off on demand, and can generate electricity all year round, 24 hours a day.

Together with natural gas and a mix of other renewable energy technologies like wind energy and solar power, bioenergy could form a large slice of Australia's clean energy pie, as part of the necessary transition away from polluting coal-fired electricity generation. "Analysis suggests that by the year 2030, bioenergy could account for 20 per cent of Australia's electricity generation capacity, potentially making it the largest renewable energy source," the Executive Director of the Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Ric Brazzale said.

"Bioenergy is a tried, true and tested technology. "There are already many plants successfully operating, in Australia and the rest of the world. "If implemented on the scale necessitated by the threat of global warming, the construction of bioenergy plants would create considerable employment and major investment stimulus in rural and regional areas in Australia," Mr Brazzale said.

Many rural communities in Australia have suffered economic hardship over the past 20 years. High unemployment, falling agricultural incomes, population decline and withdrawal of essential services like banks and schools have all impacted. If Australia were to fully develop the bioenergy sector and develop one-fifth of electricity from this source by 2030, it could lead to the creation of 50,000 job years in construction and manufacturing, and 7000 ongoing jobs in operation and maintenance, many of these jobs in rural and regional areas.

The generation of bioenergy creates many more jobs per unit of energy generation than fossil fuels. Jobs are diverse, ranging from extensions to existing agricultural and forestry activities, through to specialised engineering and electronic functions. It also offers rural communities a practical way to get active in the fight against climate change by making significant cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

Bioenergy currently supplies electricity to the needs of about 400,000 Australian households. But it could supply much more. "bioenergy is not a technology of the future; it is ready here and now and we can employ it to rapidly respond to the challenge created by climate change," Mr Brazzale said.

Benefits Of Bioenergy
  • Tried and tested.
  • Readily available fuel source
  • A stimulus for our farmers
  • Eases the unemployment rate
  • Reduces greenhouse emissions
  • Boost for investment

Future built on sustainable energy

Newcastle Herald
Wednesday 4/7/2007 Page: 18

Newcastle is perfectly positioned to be a world leader in renewable energy, the city's business leaders were told yesterday. CSIRO energy systems manager James McGregor said the city's links to "energy-hungry" sectors through coal export, as well as its research resources and skilled work force, made it ideal. "We have all of the right conditions to set Newcastle up as the next Silicon Valley of the sustainable energy industry," Mr McGregor told Newcastle Business Club.

Newcastle's CSIRO Energy Centre is researching and trialling a device that allows communication between homes and can predict peak power demand, possibly averting the kind of chaos experienced in the Hunter during the Queen's Birthday storms. Called smart agents, the devices can predict a spike in the electricity price that coincides with the network being under pressure.

"If in the storm the other week we'd had agents distributing power generation so everyone had solar power in the home and wind turbines or little fuel-cells in the backyard, we had agents controlling our airconditioning systems and they were all talking together on a network, these agents could actually make decisions on getting the grid up and running automatically based on little nodes that were still interconnected [after the storm]," Mr McGregor said.

He said that, in the age of climate change, the future lay in developing a mix of energy sources, including clean coal, solar and wind energy and technology not yet dreamt up. "Networks are at full capacity so we need to be bringing technologies to fill the gap that can also reduce our carbon footprints," Mr McGregor said.

Energy target a breeze at Crows Nest

Toowoomba Chronicle
Wednesday 4/7/2007 Page: 5

Crows Nest chief executive officer David McEvoy said recent changes to Queensland's renewable energy targets will help the Crows Nest wind farm take the next step. Over six months ago, the $270-million Crows Nest wind farm was approved by the Planning and Environment Court.

Mr McEvoy said the owner of the wind farm, Allco Wind Energy, has been negotiating a number of power supplies over the past couple of months. "All approvals are in place except for a Power Purchase Agreement," Mr McEvoy said. "Recently, the Government proposed setting a target for renewable energy of 6% by 2015 and 10% by 2020. "Now it will be much easier for Allco to get a Power Purchase Agreement with an electricity retailer in Queensland.

"The farm will provide 1% of the State total (renewable energy) effect requirement. The State so far only has 2% of renewable energy, so another 1% is a big step." The site, north-west of Crows Nest township, will have 72 turbines worth $2.75 million each and the project total will be $270 million.

"It is a big project and $100 million of that will be spent locally," Mr McEvoy said. "It will also bring workers to the area and another big plus is the considerable tourism. "When other wind farms were built, they created a lot of tourism." The 124-megawatt project will potentially avoid the emission of 265,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually and the electricity will supply the equivalent of 47,000 homes' annual energy requirements.

It is expected the Crows Nest wind farm will create 460 manufacturing and construction jobs and a further 15 full-time maintenance jobs.

Tuesday 3 July 2007

Water shortage has windy solution

North Eastern Advertiser
Wednesday 27/6/2007 Page: 4

A spokesman for Beyond Zero Emissions believes the current water shortage crisis, especially in Victoria, can be solved with a transition of electricity generation to zero emission renewable energy. Matthew Wright said that wind energy fully backed up by gas would use 91 per cent less water than the coal-fired power generators, and would be much more cost effective in an era of rising water and carbon costs. "The Victorian Government has conveniently ignored the cause of our water shortage: climate change induced drought," Mr Wright said.

He said the Danish government has announced it aims to generate 75 per cent of its electricity through wind energy by 2025. By 2010 Germany will have 30,000 Megawatts (MW) of wind energy potential installed into their grid, enough to generate 40 per cent of Australia's electricity needs. Recently Texan billionaire T. Boone Pickens announced he is going to build a 4000 MW wind farm; three of these would provide most of Victoria's energy needs. In comparison, Victoria's biggest, dirtiest coal power plant is a tiny 2000MW.

The output from the proposed Roaring 40s Musselroe Wind Farm will be sufficient to supply electricity to approximately 50,000 households in Tasmania. Roaring 40s spokesman Josh Bradshaw said it was only a matter of time before someone started to make the water/power generation link "The Government's push for nuclear energy also doesn't recognise that this type of generation requires massive amounts of water for cooling, and clean coal or carbon capture and storage, while cleaning up emissions, won't address the fact that these types of generation also require large amounts of water. "And all this on the driest continent on Earth," Mr Bradshaw said.

Committee selected

Ballarat Courier
Tuesday 3/7/2007 Page: 4

THE company behind a proposed wind farm development near Smeaton has selected the members of its Community Reference Group. Announced Sunday, the group of about 10 people will meet and and liaise with Wind Power about community attitudes towards the project. Wind Power is proposing to build 19 turbines near Smeaton and said the CRG would play an important part in its consultation process.

Company director Andrew Newbold said half of the people selected on the panel were members of the Spa Country Landscape Guardians Group. The SCLGG has been strongly opposed to the wind farm proposal. "What we are looking for them to do is give us feedback on our project... and what the issues of concern are to them and see if we can seek to compromise," Mr Newbold said.

We are approaching this with an open mind and as we have said in the past if the overwhelming majority are against it (the development) we won't proceed, but we don't believe that's the case. They (the CRG) will decide things like how often they should meet and we will be listening and responding." Mr Newbold said it was hoped the first meeting would be held on July 19 and that public relations company Socom had been employed to independently sit and control the meetings.

Spa Country Landscape Guardians Group spokesman Jim Elsworth said the selected members would play a constructive role in the process. Our people are always open and will make sure they are completely honest and forthright in representing our interests," he said. We all want the committee to look at the affects this proposal will have on the district and compensation for those who we know will be adversely affected." Mr Newbold said he anticipated the CRG to make final judgements after six months of meetings, and members would be notified by mail this week.

Monday 2 July 2007

Schools spell out need for action

Canberra Times
Saturday 30/6/2007 Page: 9

Mother Nature wasn't her usual extreme-weather self yesterday. Students from seven primary and secondary schools across the ACT left their wet-weather gear at home before taking part in the construction of several human signs to spell out their thoughts on climate change.

Clean Energy for Eternity local coordinator Jo Dodd said,"Young people don't get a say. .. it's mainly the adults talking about the calamities. .. we wanted to give the students a voice so their concerns could be heard." Stromlo and Melrose high schools both took part, with Maribyrnong, St Michael's, St Joseph's, Mt Rogers and Canberra Girls' Grammar primary schools. "Our Future" was the theme of the messages that centred on maintaining and sustaining the environment for future generations.

Stromlo High built an 80m-long human wind turbine to represent an alternative energy solution. A symbol for water was illustrated by Melrose High students in the home language of Canberra's sister city, Nara in Japan. Other schools constructed the words "reduce", "save" and "hope" to ask Australia to do more about the degradation of the environment.

Five schools from south-east NSW took part in the first human sign on Wednesday. Donning raincoats and positioning themselves on flooded ovals, the students spelt out a powerful message in 4m x 10m human letters: SCHOOLS 4 CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION NOW! The campaign will move to schools in Jindabyne, Berridale and Cooma before going north to the Eurobodalla region. Messages will include "SOS (Save Our Snow) " and "save our planet please".

Harnessing the wind

Newcastle Herald
Saturday 30/6/2007 Page: 27

ALLEN Dunlop sat on a hill on his Vacy property five years ago and toyed with the idea of having a wind turbine run his water pump. That moment of reflection has led him to commit more than $500,000 for two turbines that will generate enough electricity to power 185 average Australian homes.

Dungog Shire Council has approved an application by Mr Dunlop's company Green Power to erect twin turbines on his Lennoxton Road property, to supply 1100 megawatt hours of power to the national grid. By providing renewable energy, instead of coal-fired electricity, the turbines will reduce climate changing greenhouse gas pollution by 1160 tonnes at year.

When explaining the plan to The Herald this week, Mr Dunlop said he did not do it because he was a "greenie", the project was a straight forward business proposition. He will sell electricity to Country Energy and expects the turbines to pay for themselves within five years. The turbines will also be used to promote his Green Power business to provide turbines.

Mr Dunlop said he hoped to complete a power purchase agreement with Country Energy by the end of July, and have his turbines producing electricity before Christmas. The turbines, with a 45-metre blade tip height, will have the same output as EnergyAustralia's Kooragang turbine. Mr Dunlop said he had already spent about $380,000 on the project to buy secondhand towers and rotors from Holland, have then inspected, overhauled and shipped to Australia.

Dungog Shire Council environmental services manager Terry Kavanagh said approval required the turbines to comply with a multitude of guidelines, including visual and noise limits, shadow flicker, blade glint, bird strike and electromagnetic interference.

Plovers wing desal plant

Herald Sun
Saturday 30/6/2007 Page: 17

VICTORIA's $3.1 billion desalination plant may be subject to a rigourous federal environment assessment over its potential impact on the endangered hooded plovers. Birds Australia says it will push for a full assessment of the plant, to be built in the middle of nesting grounds on the coast between Kilcunda and Cape Paterson. Only 450 of the endangered birds are left in Victoria.

Government spokesman Geoff Fraser said a decision on such a study had not yet been made. The extremely rare orange-bellied parrot is unlikely to be at risk: none have been seen in the area, near Powlett River, for more than a decade. But the Department of Sustainability and Environment said it was possible they visited during annual migrations.

Last year, former federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell caused a scandal when he halted a wind farm proposal at Bald Hills over an almost non-existent risk to the rare orange-bellied parrot. This was overturned, but led to better state and federal processes dealing with big developments that could damage rare or endangered flora and fauna.

Birds Australia CEO Graeme Hamilton said hooded plovers' nests were very vulnerable to disturbance and the site's relatively pristine state made it unsuitable. "It's not a particularly sensible place to have it and it's bound to have some impact," he said.

Melbourne Water's feasibility study notes that there are records of sightings of significant species, including the growling grass frog, swamp skink and giant Gippsland earthworm. It says it should be possible to select a site that is not located in areas of suitable habitat for the orange-bellied parrot, one of Australia's rarest creatures. The study says a parrot management plan will be drawn up to ensure there is no risk to the bird.

Dungog joins windfarm club

Scone Advocate
Thursday 28/6/2007 Page: 3

Dungog Shire has joined the Upper Hunter on the green energy revolution, with their shire council approving the construction of two wind towers near Vacy. The decision of Dungog Shire is similar to a small wind farm development in Murrurundi where six turbines were approved for construction. Scone has also been earmarked as the site for wind farms with Pamada applying to construct the Kyoto Energy Park at two sites around the town.

Powers that be

Perth Voice
Saturday 30/6/2007 Page: 2

ONE quarter of the power to run all Vincent council's facilities is to come from renewable energy, the recent town budget revealed.

"Committing to clean, renewable energy is one of the strongest steps Vincent can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment for this and future generations," North Ward councillor Simon Chester, who in November 2006 asked that the costs and benefits of the move be assessed, said in a release. "A 25 per cent commitment by Vincent is the equivalent of taking 324 cars off the road and prevents 1,019 tonnes of carbon dioxide entering the earth's atmosphere".

Vincent will pay 6.75 per cent more to have a quarter of its energy supplied from renewable sources. Most of WA's renewable energy is produced by wind farms near Albany.

WIndfarm green light

Wimmera Mail Times
Friday 29/6/2007 Page: 12

A NORTHERN Wimmera mayor said his council would welcome any alternative energy projects. Buloke Shire Mayor Reid Mather said he was excited about a council-backed proposal to build 16 wind turbines at Berrimal, in the shire's east.

Cr Mather said it was the first type of proposal put before Buloke Shire and he would support a range of alternative energy projects, such as wind farming and solar power. "It was a unanimous decision. It generated some discussion, but everyone spoke in favour of it," he said. "We would be keen to look at more renewable energy projects, including wind and solar into the future." Cr Mather said the project was put forward for public continent with no objections.

"The public has been very receptive to the project. Probably because it will be situated in a area that is not densely populated," he said. "We are all for it. It will shore up our power supply into the future." Hindmarsh Shire chief executive John Hicks also threw his support behind using alternative energy sources. "We have not received any proposals at the moment, but we will have to look at everything case by case. We are for renewable energy projects, unless someone wanted to build wind turbines in the middle of Lake Hindmarsh," he said.

Horsham Rural City Council chief executive Kerryn Shade said his council had not received any requests for renewable energy projects, but would welcome anyone wanting to establish a project in the municipality. "We had someone look at wind farming 10 years ago, but Horsham was found to be too flat. We are definitely happy to talk to anyone about renewable energy projects," he said.