Friday 3 August 2007

Wind sector powers on

Manufacturers’ Monthly
August, 2007 Page: 8

THE drive towards alternative energy sources is opening new opportunities for manufacturing firms, with manufacturers of equipment for electricity generation from wind turbines recording solid growth. "The wind energy industry has established itself as a stable business, with a strong base of manufacturing companies," Dominique La Fontaine, CEO of the Australian Wind Energy Association (Auswind) told Manufacturers' Monthly.

Several years ago, we were seeing that most turbine components were imported, but now the greater share of fabrication is done in Australia. "There are now major factories in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia that manufacture a wide range of components, plus many smaller firms that produce specialist parts," she said.

According to Auswind, there is currently 817MW of installed wind energy capacity in Australia, which translates roughly to about 600 turbines. A further 6755MW of capacity is proposed, with the biggest growth areas being the coastal regions of Victoria and South Australia. But, says La Fontaine, industry growth has shown signs of stalling since 2006, when the Commonwealth's government's Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET), which required energy retailers to purchase a small proportion of electricity from non-traditional sources, was met.

There has been no national successor to the MRET, although the state government in Victoria has set a target, NSW is developing legislation, and several other states have announced their intention to introduce targets or other schemes to encourage the development of alternative energy sources. The projects of the state governments, either in place or planned, are positive, La Fontaine says. "But for purposes of consistency and breadth, there really needs to be a national scheme.

"Auswind has recently been engaged in discussions on this - with representatives from both sides of the political fence - and we are hopeful that something will be done." Steve Garner, MD of Keppel Prince Engineering, a firm which manufactures wind turbine towers, agrees that a target scheme from Canberra would be welcome. "A measure of government support is needed if wind is going to be competitive with coal, especially here in Victoria," Garner said. "Already, there is a good manufacturing side developing. The only places where towers and components are imported are where there are no local manufacturers with the required know-how.

"But the expertise base is growing, and a lot of metal fabrication firms are starting to look at the diversification opportunities presented by the wind energy industry." Keppel Prince Engineering has, Garner estimates, built about 250 towers in the past six years. When the company saw opportunities in the wind energy sector, it began by building tower shells and internal components, and diversified into the construction of tower foundations.

The company is now moving into tower erection and, increasingly, ongoing maintenance. Keppel Prince Engineering has also entered into a contract arrangement with global wind energy firm Vestas to manufacture blades. A thriving export market for blades is also developing: Garner notes that about 300 blades were sent overseas by the company last year, mainly to NZ.

At present, there is no formal training in manufacturing or maintenance relating to wind energy. Keppel Prince Engineering initially obtained expertise through a German partner, but now its staff training in the area is conducted internally, with experienced people training newcomers. "We see wind energy as a growth area for this company," Garner told Manufacturers' Monthly. "In fact, I think that Portland, here in western Victoria, could become a real hub for renewable energy, both on the manufacturing and research side, not only for wind but for other alternative energy sources as well. There is a lot of hands-on knowledge being developed here," Garner said.

La Fontaine also points to the longterm possibilities offered by the industry's development, noting that Australia's good base of technology raises the prospect of exports to energy- hungry Asian markets. She acknowledges that some wind farm proposals have met with strong community opposition, mainly based on the visual impact of turbines on the landscape.

"People who oppose a turbine in their area are, of course, entitled to their views. For their part, wind farm developers have to be willing to take account of community concerns, and engage in proper consultation," she said. "Auswind is currently developing a compliance plan for the industry, and we hope that that will go a long way in dealing with these issues. "But there are many communities that have been very supportive of the wind energy industry. For example, the Ararat Rural City council, in western Victoria, is currently developing a Renewable Energy Park, and they are actively seeking manufacturers working in the wind energy sector, to supply both Victoria and South Australia."

Renewable energy for regions

Ballarat News
Wednesday 1/8/2007 Page: 28

Renewable energy will underpin sustainability in-regional Australia in the future, a La Trobe University regional development specialist says. Professor John Martin, who heads La Trobe University's Centre for Sustainable Regional Communities, said the rising price of coal generated electricity and petrol would drive regional communities to look towards solar, wind, biomass and other renewable energy sources in the future.

Prof Martin was speaking ahead of a conference, Renewable Energy and Regional Australia: Creating Local Economic Development Opportunities, to be held in Bendigo September 17-18. The conference will examine what's viable in solar, wind, wave, timber, biomass, gasification and hydrogen fuel-cell energy production for regions and the business opportunities likely to follow. The conference is the brainchild of the City of Greater Bendigo and La Trobe University.

Prof Martin said businesses were already emerging in country areas to supply renewable energy at a regional level. "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," Prof Martin said. City of Greater Bendigo Cr Keith Reynard said: "This conference is all about showing how companies and communities are doing this and carving a future that will help sustain them in terms of energy and income.

"This is a great opportunity for business developers, planners and regional leaders to hear about the opportunities, challenges and scenario ahead including how renewable energy will be created, distributed and regulated." Speakers include a central Victorian man who has invented a regulator for hybrid solar and wind energy generating systems and who is now building a plant to make them, a company that's building a factory to create biofuel out of tallow to another that's creating large scale solar systems big enough to power entire towns.

For details and to register, check or phone (03) 5434 6001.

Save money courtesy of Hobart City Council: Solar power rebate

Hobart Mercury
Friday 3/8/2007 Page: 29

HOBART residents installing solar hot water systems will qualify for a $500 rebate on their council rates. Combined with Federal Government incentives. the rebate will cut the cost of a typical family-sized system in half. Hobart City Council yesterday announced the rebate for new installations regardless of their size or cost.

Lord Mayor Rob Valentine said the move was intended to help fight climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. "Tasmania receives as much sun as northern Italy or southern France," he said. "If we can successfully foster the mass takeup of solar technology in the future, it would be a very viable proposition both to heat water and generate household electricity." Local Solahart dealer CGA Tas director Aaron Sommerville said there was growing interest in solar hot water heating.

"For a lot of people it is for environmental reasons that they're going solar - but I've been flat out on the phone with people today and yesterday since the Hydro announced the increase in power prices. "Your hot water bill consists of about 30 per cent of your power bill and you can save 75 per cent on that in Tassie." The Hobart City Council rebate, the Federal Government's $1000 rebate and the sale of renewable energy certificates for $650 cut the cost of installing a family-sized system in half, he said.

A typical 300-litre system with two solar panels sells for about $2200. plus installation. Sustainable Living Tasmania executive officer Margaret Steadman said she was delighted to hear about the new rebate. "We think that incentives for a wide range of energy efficiencies are great - we'd especially like to see one which encourages people to insulate their roof space," she said. Ms Steadman said there was a need for more incentives from state and local governments, which were currently lacking.

Dalwallinu hosts energy meeting

Central Midlands & Coastal Advocate
Thursday 2/8/2007 Page: 3

RURAL WA took a step closer towards generating its own high quality, reliable, renewable electricity this week, when Dalwallinu Shire hosted the Energising Regional WA Group meeting. The group met to discuss its strategic plan that could result in every Wheatbelt shire setting up locally-based, renewable energy generation plants.

South West MLC Paul Llewellyn, who established the Denmark Community Wind Farm project on the South Coast and who has put forward the Western Australian Renewable Energy Target Bill in State Parliament, was the keynote speaker at the meeting. Mr Llewellyn outlined a strategy for establishing locally-based, clean-green energy generators to service local needs and to feed excess power into the South West Integrated System electricity grid. He emphasised the need to assess electricity use at the local level and to ascertain the capacity of existing electricity lines.

Each project can then be matched to work out the practicalities of building the electricity plants and running a business to supply power." At the meeting it was also recognised that while the project being undertaken would determine costs and benefits, and evaluate which combination of power production would best suit each location, active support from State and Federal Governments was needed to encourage development. "Other developed country have set clean energy targets and provided financial incentives to renewable power generators which has driven multi billion dollar investment in a clean, safe, job-rich industries," Mr Llewellyn said.

The next step for the Energising Regional WA Group is to source funding to employ a project coordinator who will assess the potential for renewable energy projects in the Shires of Dalwallinu, Morawa and Wongan-Ballidu to local needs and local grid capacity. Mr Llewellyn said less than 40 years ago every local community produced their own electricity for local use.

"Using modern wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and gas-fired power generation technologies we can re-power regional areas with clean, safe, modern and reliable electricity supplies," he said. "Regional WA could become the power supplier for the State feeding electricity back to homes, business and industry." Dalwallinu Shire president Robert Nixon said the details from the Denmark experience halved the work. "We already have access to the latest in wind, solar, biomass, geothermal technology, and qualified personnel so we don't have to be scientists or engineers ourselves," Cr Nixon said. "What we now have with Paul Llewellyn and the Denmark experience is a partnering which expands the ability of both groups.

SA's green energy credentials under fire

Adelaide Advertiser
Friday 3/8/2007 Page: 31

THE State Government has been attacked by the nation's leading advocate for sustainable energy over a lack of Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets in South Australia. The 280-member Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) has poured scorn on Premier Mike Rann, accusing him of claiming credit for renewable energy investment in SA, despite other states and the Federal Government being responsible. This is because other states, notably Victoria and NSW, and the Commonwealth require electricity retailers to buy a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources, such as wind farms, and surrender certificates they get when they buy the electricity.

SA has no such system in place, the council argues. But Mr Rann said mandatory targets would increase prices by about 10 per cent for South Australians and were unnecessary because other policy initiatives were in place. "We are achieving market penetrations for renewable energy that are already better than those being aimed for in the jurisdictions with mandatory targets," he said. "No other state comes within cooee, which shows how hopelessly out of touch the BCSE and eastern seaboard focus is." However, BCSE executive director Ric Brazzale said the structure of the renewable energy market meant an interstate retailer could use an SA wind farm to get its renewable energy certificate, without having to invest in more wind farms.

If SA had mandatory targets, there would have to be more investment in renewable energy, he said. While SA's Climate Change and Greenhouse Emissions Reduction Act (2007) includes renewable energy targets of 20 per cent by 2014, the council said the targets were not mandatory. ".... none of the investment in renewable power projects in SA can be attributed to the renewable energy target of the Rann Government," Mr Brazzale said. "The SA Government runs the risk of being seen as free-riding on the policies of other governments." But Mr Rann said the BCSE was "taking a very narrow view of SA's achievements in this area".

Wednesday 1 August 2007

Family overpowered by a legal loophole

Herald Sun
Monday 30/7/2007 Page: 14

A VICTORIAN family is being forced to give away enough electricity to power 34 homes a day. Grant and Sue Taresch spent $300,000 setting up a wind turbine at the Elgo Estate vineyard and winery in Strathbogie. The 150kW turbine supplies all the winery's needs and the other half of its output - hundreds of thousands of kilowatt hours - goes into the power grid each year. Energy companies sell the power but don't pay the winery.

Mr Taresch said the power companies were taking advantage of a loophole in the law. "The Act says the power companies have to deal with small producers who generate up to 100kW of electricity," he said. "Because we have a 150kW turbine they don't have to deal with us the same way they have to deal with other small producers. "They only want to deal with the really big suppliers, but are happy enough to take our power for nothing and on-sell it."

The turbine at Elgo Estate was switched on in January and has been pumping power back into the grid since then. It has an estimated life of 30 years and Mr Taresch said he hoped it would pay for itself in power bill savings in 10 years. "It definitely would if we were getting some sort of rebate for the excess power we're producing," he said. Mr Taresch said the Elgo Estate turbine saves more than 400 tonnes of greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere every year.

Greens Senate candidate Richard Di Natale said Mr Taresch should be supported, not ripped off. "Retailers should be forced through regulation to purchase the power back off someone who takes this sort of leadership," Mr Di Natale said. "How are we going to stop climate change when we can't get something this simple off the ground. "He's being lumped in with businesses whose core job is to generate power. "In Victoria there's no incentive for these guys. "They're giving their excess power away."

Labor backs wind power

Launceston Examiner
Monday 30/7/2007 Page: 4

TASMANIA'S wind energy industry look set for a major boost if Labor wins power in this year's federal election. Roaring 40s, Hydro Tasmania's renewable energy arm, was forced to scrap plans for the $300 million Heemskirk and $230 Musselroe wind projects after the Howard Government decided against an extension of Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets last year. But speaking in Launceston yesterday, Opposition trade and regional development spokesman Simon Crean said Labor was committed to developing greater incentives for the renewable energy industry. "We have to invest more in renewables, and I think there's great economic opportunity for this State," Mr Crean said.

Mr Crean met Dorset Council representatives on Saturday, discussing the economic benefits to the North-East of the Musselroe wind project. Roaring 40s has revived the Musselroe development after the Victorian and NSW governments flagged the introduction of their own renewable energy targets. "They (the council) are very excited about the prospects at Musselroe," Mr Crean said. "What it highlights is the importance of committing to a MRET." Mr Crean said that a Labor Government would extend the MRET programme, breathing new life into Roaring 40s wind energy programme. "We haven't formally announced that, but we will," Mr Crean said. "And its important to do it, and if that announcement is made, Roaring 40s will make significant commitments beyond the Musselroe project."

In addition to its Australian wind farms, Roaring 40s has been successful in contracting to develop wind farms in China, where the Government is aiming for 15 per cent of all power generation to be from renewable technologies by the year 2020. The Howard Government has repeatedly refused to extend the MRET programme, preferring to investigate nuclear and clean coal technologies to meet the nation's energy needs. Less than 2 per cent of Australia's electricity comes from renewable sources.

$200m plan in the wind

Newcastle Herald
Tuesday 31/7/2007 Page: 11

DEVELOPERS behind the biggest renewable energy centre in NSW hope to receive State Government approval for the $200 million Upper Hunter project in six months. Pamada spokesman Mark Dixon has confirmed Government officials are considering a masterplan for the Kyoto Energy Park on agricultural land west of Scone. The proposal includes 47 wind turbines, a solar thermal generator and closed-loop hydro power station, with a total renewable energy output of up to 200 million watts, enough electricity to run 90,000 homes.

The Herald reported in January a first stage application for the wind turbines had been lodged with the Government that month. Mr Dixon last week said the application had been amended to cover the entire proposal. He said the project would employ 2500 construction workers for up to 12 months, and 15 workers permanently. By replacing coal-fired electricity, the centre will reduce climate changing greenhouse gas pollution by 800,000 tonnes a year.

Upper Hunter Shire Council environment committee chairman Peter Hodges believed the vast majority of Upper Hunter residents supported the plan. "I think the concept has tremendous merit and I live about three or four kilometres from where it will be built," he said. "I know there has been some criticism of the idea, but I think wind turbines are more aesthetically pleasing than any open-cut coalmine mullock heap. "It's a matter of perspective, I have a friend in Germany who says nobody notices the 17,000 wind turbines in his area and everyone appreciates and benefits from the clean enemy they produce."

Mr Dixon said developers were working on a series of environmental assessments including noise, flora and fauna, and traffic, and were also involved in community consultation. We want to explain the details so people of this area understand exactly what is planned," he said.

$600m wind farm financial checks proceeding

Hamilton Spectator
Saturday 28/7/2007 Page: 5

FINANCIAL investigations into the largest wind farm announced so far in Australia - the 183 turbines planned to be built between Macarthur and Hawkesdale - are still proceeding. When the State Government gave planning approval to the project last October, the then developer, Pacific Hydro, said it would take up to 12 months to investigate the financing of the $600 million wind farm.

AGL Energy's public affairs adviser, Andrew Scammell, confirmed on Wednesday that investigations into how to finance the massive scheme were still continuing. "It's still within that 12 months timeframe." Mr Scammell added. Pacific Hydro claimed there would be 600 to 900 jobs created in construction and manufacturing over its two-year construction period.

The turbines will create a total capacity of 329 megawatts and be spread across 55 square kilometres of predominantly cleared farmland mid-way between Macarthur and Hawkesdale. The $600 million project will generate will generate enough electricity to power almost 190,000 homes a year - three times the number of houses in Geelong. A three-member panel sat for five weeks in Hamilton in February and March last year to hear submissions for and against the wind farm. It received 1295 submissions with 1148 (88 per cent) in support. Moyne Shire is expected to gain about $400,000 in rates annually from the project.

Wind-hydrogen link hope

Warrnambool Standard
Tuesday 31/7/2007 Page: 5

A COMPANY with the technology to convert wind energy into hydrogen and create more clean, green electricity is planning to buy the proposed Woolsthorpe wind farm. However, the technology's use in Australia is years away, according to the company's managing director Richard Pritchard who told The Standard there were no plans or planning applications to build the hydrogen balancing plant in Woolsthorpe.

A deal to give Australian owned Wind Hydrogen Limited the first option to buy Wind Farm Developments' proposed $68 trillion farm was revealed yesterday. The 20-turbine wind farm is waiting for State Government approval, with a decision expected later this year. Wind Hydrogen's revolutionary hydrogen technology being explored in the United Kingdom ensures wind energy lost during high winds is stored and released in calm periods into the electricity grid.

This would end criticism of wind farms not making full use of windy conditions, with farms currently not able to capture and then transfer excess power into the system. The company is raising $12 million for wind farm proposals in Woolsthorpe and the United Kingdom and plans to be listed on the stock exchange on August 10.

Mr Pritchard yesterday said the company negotiated the Woolsthorpe deal years ago and had looked at greenfield sites in New South Wales and Victoria to develop wind farm projects. A planning application for a wind project in Scotland to use the company's technology to build a five megawatt balancing plant capable of powering 2700-3000 homes was lodged last Thursday. "We have no intention for any application for development like in Scotland but there is a potential in the future For it to be used at sites the company owns," Mr Pritchard said.

Of the funds raised $2,085,000 is proposed to be spent on the company's only Australian project in Woolsthorpe, $4,135,000 for UK projects, corporate costs of $3,280,000 and $2.5 million on hydrogen research and development. Wind Farm Developments director Alistair Wilson said the application before a planning panel dealt solely with his company's design for the wind farm and the company was doing all it could to progress the project.

Waubra wind farm underway

Ballarat Courier
Monday 30/7/2007 Page: 6

THE Waubra Wind Farm's first stage works are almost complete. The 128-turbine wind farm is Victoria's second biggest, involving a total investment of about $400 million. It is being developed by Spanish company Acciona Energy, with Leighton Contractors. Under the first stage, construction of access tracks to turbine locations is complete. All foundations and hardstands are expected to be finished by the end of August.

The second stage, the electrical works, is expected to begin in September, with the first turbines scheduled for erection later this year. Managing director Brett Thomas said the wind farm had benefited Waubra and district's employment and its community. During the peak of the civil works stage, 70 per cent of onsite workers were local. During the electrical works and turbine erection, 100 jobs are expected to be created early next year. The company is also planning for 25 permanent on-site jobs to maintain the wind farm when it begins operating late next year.

We are working with the local community to create real employment benefits and an active local economy," Mr Thomas said. Meanwhile, Acciona has created a Sustainable Community Fund of $64,000 a year, to support Waubra and district. Waubra Football and Netball Club has received sponsorship, while Waubra Kindergarten's playground was refurbished on Saturday. Mr Thomas said the fund would see community projects supported during the wind farm's operation, with the aim of sharing the wind farm's benefits.

Tuesday 31 July 2007

Wave Power visit by NZ's Energy Minister

Energy Source & Distribution
Wednesday 1/8/2007 Page: 4

The New Zealand government is committed to making New Zealand the first country in the world to be truly sustainable and carbon neutral. "We're going to achieve this by promoting investment in renewable energy, cutting emissions and offsetting emissions that can't be practically avoided. New Zealand is already a world leader in clean power, with 70 per cent of its electricity generation coming from renewable sources. A key enabler for this strategy is that New Zealand will devolve the cost of greenhouse gas emissions in electricity production to those that produce them.

"This sends a clear message to investors, cleaner technologies will cost less, and is a strategy that is already producing results. A number of major energy companies have set aside plans for new fossil fuel fired power stations to spend billions on renewable energy such as wind and geothermal projects. We want to extend the mix to include marine energy," said David Parker.

Marine energy is an emerging technology and developers commonly point to limited funding for new technologies as a barrier to their wider deployment. The Marine Energy Fund seeks to address this.

"The government used Kyoto Protocol mechanisms to advance the development of wind energy in New Zealand. The marine energy fund is designed to achieve similar results in marine electricity." Officials at the Ministry of Economic Development and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) are currently developing criteria to assess applications for the Fund. Further information on how to apply will be available from the EECA website later this year.

Wind farmer roaring ahead

Hobart Mercury
Saturday 28/7/2007 Page: 13

A START on the $250 million Musselroe Bay wind farm could be made early next year, Roaring 40s managing director Mark Kelleher said yesterday. The enacting of legislation in NSW by October would enable the company to sell renewable energy certificates to NSW retailers. The renewable energy company has a number of new projects in the pipeline.

Mr Kelleher said. Roaring 40s, a joint venture between Hydro Tasmania and China Light and Power, opened an office in Launceston yesterday. Energy Minister David Llewellyn said the Roaring 40s workforce would double in coming months.

Mr Llewellyn is to travel to China on Sunday to open an $80 million wind farm in Shandong province. "Our partners are major government-owned companies with Datang and they expect government involvement," he said. "That is one of the positives of our relationship and I don't want to do anything that would diminish it." Roaring 40s has gone from one windfarm at Woolnorth to more than 10 within a couple of years. "The growth of the company is exponential and we're pleased about that," Mr Llewellyn said. The company would return a dividend to the State Government once the growth phase was over, he said.

Thinking 'Sustainability' Every Step Of The Way.

Energy Source & Distribution
Wednesday 1/8/2007 Page: 42

Roaring 40s are at the forefront of creating sustainable energy projects. But their belief of sustainability extends much further than generating power from the wind. Following on from strategic agreements signed between Roaring 40s and its business partners, over 350mw of energy is now being developed through seven projects across China alone.

In undertaking these important partnerships, Roaring 40s has ensured that every project is developed in a sustainable and responsible way. Before any wind farm development project can proceed, community consultation and appropriate statutory approvals are sought. Each project site also takes into account the development goals of the particular country. And prior to the commencement of any construction, extensive field surveys are undertaken including the collation of data on flora and fauna, noise levels, as well as heritage, social, economic and visual values.

Roaring 40s then develops management plans for each site to ensure that the on-going re-assessment of environmental factors will continue throughout the full life cycle of each project. Roaring 40s also carefully considers the benefits to each community. For example, the Datong Wind Farm site, located in the north-eastern province of Jilin, is being developed on unpopulated wasteland. The development of this wind farm project will see areas such as this turned into a valuable asset with positive economic flow-on benefits for nearby communities. Short to medium term jobs will be created by the construction phase. Additional opportunities should also arise through the implementation of local tourism initiatives, with a flow-on of economic and social benefits.

When completed, the Datong Wind Farm alone will produce enough clean energy to power at least 100,000 homes and save around 110,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year. Through 13 projects across Oceania, including these seven projects in China, Roaring 40s is thinking sustainability every step of the way. This is the key to more than 'just' energy generation. This is the key to creating a long-term and responsible future.

Wind farm in the air

The Land
Thursday 26/7/2007 Page: 5

RENEWABLE energy company, Epuron, will investigate the feasibility of a wind farm at the Gullen Range, south of Crookwell. The company already has development approval for 15 turbine wind farms on the Cullerin Range near Goulburn, Conroy's Gap near Yass and Snowy Plains near Berridale.

Project director, Simon Davey, said investigations included background noise measurement, flora and fauna studies, and assessment of heritage and visual impact. The Southern Tablelands is a hot spot for wind farm proposals, with a section of landholders strongly opposed to their development mainly because of perceived visual and noise impacts.