Friday 24 August 2007

Rural leaders plan for climate change

Bega District News
Tuesday 21/8/2007 Page: 5

SEVEN leading business and community organisations have formed the Agricultural Alliance on Climate Change to work towards securing the future of rural Australia and building the foundations of Australia's clean energy economy. Rural communities, and the businesses that support them, are at the frontline of climate change impacts like more severe droughts, floods and storms and regulatory impacts like carbon pricing. With a changing climate and uncertainty about future government responses to the challenge, the organisations have recognised that there are significant gains to be made from working collaboratively to take control of our legacy and build one that strengthens our communities.

The Alliance is commissioning research to investigate how rural communities can create climate change resilient communities, and prosper from harvesting clean energy and farming carbon. The organisations are: the Country Women's Association of Australia; Westpac; the South Australian Farmers' Federation; AgForce; Visy; the Australian Conservation Foundation; and The Climate Institute Australia. The group will focus on solutions for rural Australia that -
  • Prosper: Create effective and sustainable economic drivers from harvesting clean energy, carbon farming and bio-diversity stewardship, such as a clean renewable energy target.
  • Strengthen: Secure a viable, vital and productive future for rural Australia by forward planning and providing for social and physical infrastructure and services such as mental health facilities and workforce skills.
  • Adapt: Make information, tools and resources accessible to rural Australians with a view to adapting to and preparing for the unavoidable impacts of climate change. Recognise that farmers have an ageing profile and many operate small or medium scale enterprises. Working together and supported by government, rural Australia can prosper from a clean energy future.

Pupils visit wind farm

Portland Observer
Wednesday 22/8/2007 Page: 10

WHAT better way to study alternative sources of energy than by visiting the Codrington Wind Farm? Bundarra Primary School pupils have been studying renewable and non-renewable energy sources and their impact on the environment in class and it was all put into perspective last Monday when they visited the giant windmills at Codrington.

In class the pupils discussed how much energy they used and how they could help reduce their usage by becoming more conscious of using energy saver globes, switching of unneeded lights and even switching over to green energy. During their visit to the wind farm the pupils had an opportunity to look at the 34 wind towers up close and they discovered each wind turbine created enough electricity to power 800 homes. The pupils said they were surprised with how big yet how quiet the wind towers were when they were operating.

Government blamed for blade factory closure

Border Watch
Friday 24/8/2007 Page: 5

Wattle Range Council chief executive officer Frank Brennan has pointed the finger at the Federal Government for the closure of the Vestas blade manufacturing facility in Portland. Vestas claimed in a press release issued this week the wind energy market conditions in Australia was the reason for its shut down and Mr Brennan said the government's Mandatable Renewable Energy Target (MRET) was to blame.

The council CEO told The Border Watch yesterday the Vestas closure was "reflective of the current hiatus in the windfarm industry" and the Federal Government's "ongoing reluctance to increase MRET targets that would provide a much needed boost to the renewable energy industry". "The Limestone Coast region can certainly accommodate additional windfarm development along the coast from Lake Bonney to Cape Jaffa, however, there is a need for the Commonwealth Government to create the environment to facilitate this development," Mr Brennan said.

"Council certainly regrets the closure of the Vestas wind blade factory at Portland as it provided an economic advantage and benefit to the ongoing development of windfarms in our region. "The loss of employment in the Greater Green Triangle region is also regrettable." Wattle Range Council has been unwavering in its support for the windfarm projects at Lake Bonney, even offering to assist Vestas in facilitating its factory. Although council did not offer financial incentives, it offered to find suitable land for the site, making the closure of the factory even closer to heart for the Local Government body.

North America states, provinces announce GHG goal

New York, 23 August: The Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a group of eight US states and Canadian provinces, yesterday set a regional target to reduce greenhouse gases by 15% by 2020. They pledged to establish market mechanisms within a year to help them reach their target, which is measured against 2005 emissions. The WCI members did not set longer-term goals, but stated that "science suggests" that lowering the risk of dangerous climate change "will require worldwide reductions between 50% and 85% in carbon dioxide emissions from current levels by 2050".

The WCI members are the US states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba. Their efforts are being observed by four US states (Colorado, Kansas, Nevada and Wyoming), as well as three provinces (Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan) and one Mexican state (Sonora). They may look to join the WCI in the future. All WCI members have already set individual goals and the regional goal reflects their "combined impact", the states said. Other entities seeking to join must have economy-wide GHG goals "consistent with the regional goal", the WCI stated.

WCI members will participate in a regional GHG registry. By the end of August 2008, they will establish "multi-sector" market mechanisms, including power and industrial plants, energy supply, transportation, agriculture, forestry and waste management. In contrast to that economy-wide approach, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), involving 10 north-eastern US states, will focus only on power plants when it begins in 2009.

"Climate change is another important national and international issue where the US federal government is choosing to delay action," said Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. "It has been left up to the states and provinces of North America to recognise the critical need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide the solution not just rhetoric. WCI members are leading the fight against climate change."

Updated 24 August 2007

Vestas rides favourable wind to €1 billion sales

London, 23 August: Danish wind turbine giant Vestas Wind Systems has reported a 19% surge in revenues in the second quarter, to just over €1 billion ($1.4 billion), as demand for renewable energy continues to hot up. Gross profit jumped to €188 million for the quarter, compared to €86 million the year before.

Vestas shipped 629 turbines during the quarter, with a total output of 1,090MW – 8% up on the same period last year. At the end of June, the company had a backlog of 4,535MW of orders. Just over half of this backlog is destined for projects in Europe, with another 33% going to the Americas and 14% to the Asia/Pacific region.

The company warned that the log-jam is likely to continue some years into the future. "Vestas expects that it will take several years before supply will match demand given the present price and delivery conditions, because lifting quality and substantially expanding production output requires massive investments in facilities and training throughout the supply chain," it said. Other risk factors for the company include warranties being exercised because of sub-standard quality, increasing raw material and transport costs and fluctuations in the exchange rate between dollars and euros.

Vestas also told investors to expect "substantial" quarter-on-quarter fluctuations, because of the increasing number of contracts for simply supplying, rather than installing turbines, disruption to installations and a change in timing of customer payments. But the firm predicts revenues will rise to €4.5 billion over the year, with an increase in the margin of earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) from 5.2% in 2006 to 7-9% in 2007. In 2008, Vestas expects its margins to rise to between 10% and 12% and to increase market share to 35% from 28% in 2006.

The company said: "The improved EBIT margin will primarily be the result of a better flow in production and enhanced manufacturing quality." But despite its rapid expansion, Vestas also announced it will close a factory making turbine blades in Portland, Australia. It said: "The factory is not of a sufficient size to ensure satisfactory profitability, and the market outlook for Australia makes it impossible to expand the facility."

Updated 24 August 2007

Thursday 23 August 2007

LEGO Wind Turbine Day

Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB) is building LEGO wind turbines in capital cities across the nation for Engineering Week! The public's imagination will be captured by participating in the construction of over 3,500 LEGO bricks to form a fully functioning three-metre tall wind turbine!

For a gold coin donation, members of the public will add LEGO bricks to the construction. The remaining 3 metre high fully functioning lego wind turbines will be constructed simultaneously in popular public spaces across the nation this Friday 24th August 2007.

Through this event, EWB aims to...
  1. Raise public awareness of how climate change is affecting developing communities, what EWB is doing about it, and what you can do to help
  2. Raise funds to support EWB
  3. Have a whole lot of fun with LEGO!

Wind farm factory runs out of puff: Danish owner says Australia too `unprofitable'

Canberra Times
Thursday 23/8/2007 Page: 13

A large world supplier of wind farm technology is turning its back on Australia, saying the nation's green energy market is not viable. Vestas Australia Wind Technology will close its unprofitable Portland turbine blade factory at the end of the year. About 130 jobs will be lost, casting doubts over the viability of Australia's renewable energy industry. The Danish company says it could no longer justify keeping the plant open because the investment was not worthwhile in the Australian market. Vestas Asia-Pacific senior vice-president Jorn Hammer said,"It's definitely a fact that the current environment for the wind industry is not big enough to encourage these kinds of investments.

"We have the view that if the Government steps up to the plate and puts the necessary security for a long-term market in place we'll have another look at the market, but I guess we'll be a little more careful next time. [Not] just believing in what they've been telling us, we need to see some hard evidence to justify investment."

A spokeswoman for federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane said Vestas made its decision to invest in Portland after the Government told the company it would not extend its Mandatory Renewable Energy Target. She said Vestas' decision to close was linked to new technology. "The blades they are manufacturing have been superseded and they have decided not to invest in the area," she said. "The Australian Government has invested heavily in both the manufacturing and renewable energy sectors with [the mandatory target] stimulating investment of over $3.5 billion and increasing wind capacity by 8000 per cent. "It is two years ahead of schedule so it shows just how successful the scheme has been."

Mr Hammer said Vestas had hoped to invest in new technology to develop blades for the Australian market but could not justify the outlay. Labor spokesman for the environment and climate change Peter Garrett said the closure was a kick in the guts for the renewable energy industry. He blamed the Federal Government's refusal to increase mandatory targets for the closure.

Victorian Minister for Climate Change Gavin Jennings also laid the blame for the closure on the Howard Government's failure to respond to the challenges of climate change. "This regrettable decision is a direct result of a lack of Federal Government support for the renewable energy industry." Last year, Vestas closed a similar $15 million factory in Tasmania, laying off 65 staff.

The Portland operation opened two years ago and produces export turbine blades. The company will continue to employ about 200 people around Australia in technical and support roles but its manufacturing operations here will cease. Mr Hammer said the company would fulfil its employee obligations and was working with the union to help workers find new jobs.

Clean and green park a treat for all

Mount Barker Courier
Wednesday 22/8/2007 Page: 10

Much more than simply a coastal strip of land, the Canunda National Park is a veritable treasure chest of pristine wilderness, stunning scenery and outdoor adventures. Situated on South Australia's South East coastline, the 9358 hectare park stretches for 40km between Southend and Carpenters Rocks, with entry points from both these towns, as well as Millicent to the east.

Dominated by rugged sand dunes, brimming with local fauna and flora, and bounded by a magnificent and varied coastline to the west and Lake Bonney to the east, the park is welt known locally as a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. The park offers kilometres of marked four wheel drive tracks criss-crossing the length and breadth of the park. Each year thousands of four wheel drive adventurers frequent the region, along with those on trait bikes and dune buggies. Those without a four wheel drive vehicle need not despair however, as many parts of the park are also accessible by two wheel drive.

Once on foot, visitors can take advantage of the scenic walking traits which direct them to a myriad of attractions hidden deep within the park, including unique sandstone formations, aboriginal and historical relics and spectacular lookouts. With kilometres of coastline featuring beaches, rocky headlands and reef platforms, the fishing opportunities within Canunda are endless. From these waters recreation fishers yield good catches of mulloway, salmon, sharks and rays off the beach, while sweep, abalone and crayfish are regularly caught off the rocks. Because one day is simply not long enough to spend in this treasured place, the park also boasts several camping areas, so visitors can take their time exploring all the park has to offer.

The Canunda National Park also has a reputation as a terrific vantage point for viewing the internationally acclaimed Canunda and Lake Bonney Wind Farms. Combined, these two projects are the largest windfarm in the Southern Hemisphere, consisting of 98 wind turbine towers, with a further 24 still to be erected.

The windfarm is not only a world leader in the production of renewable energy, it has also been designed to be in synergy with its local environment. The second stage of the Lake Bonney Wind Farm recently won a state award for excellence in project management, construction and environmental management. The windfarms already produce plenty of clean, green energy, and once complete in February next year, will regularly produce enough energy to light up thousands of Australian homes.

With so much to see and do, the reputation of the Canunda National Park is growing every year. But despite the increased volume of traffic the park sees each year it has remained a pristine wilderness, thanks to a committed community of National Parks Rangers, Friends of the Park, four wheel drive clubs, service organisations, schools and conscientious tourists.

130 out as turbine plant closes

Herald Sun
Thursday 23/8/2007 Page: 20

A MAJOR international wind turbine manufacturer will close its Victorian plant at the end of the year, saying Australia's renewable energy sector was not a viable investment. About 130 jobs will go when Vestas Blades Australia closes its Portland factory in December, 21/ years after it opened.

Vestas Asia-Pacific senior vice-president Jorn Hammer said the Portland venture was no longer profitable. "It's not viable for us to make further investments in the Australian market. .. we don't see the market as big enough in Australia to justify the expense," he said. "When we committed to build the factory we believed there was support for the wind industry in Australia, and that has not come through to the extent we anticipated." The Danish company is one of the world's biggest makers of wind-power technology.

Environment groups said the Federal Government's 2 per cent Mandatory Renewable Energy Target was driving investment overseas. The target aims to generate 2 per cent of Australia's energy using green power. Greenpeace energy campaigner Mark Wakeham said the Government needed to legislate for 25 per cent renewable energy by 2020. "If we don't show we are serious about climate change and investing in clean energy, renewables companies will go where investors are serious about it," he said.

Environment Victoria climate change campaigner Louise Morris said: "It really does show that Australia is not giving the renewables industry the support they need to take off." Federal Opposition climate change spokesman Peter Garrett said the closure was "another kick in the guts for our renewable energy industry". He blamed the Federal Government's failure to increase the MRET for the closure.

But a spokeswoman for federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane said Vestas knew the Government would not be increasing the MRET when it decided to build in Portland. The MRET scheme had generated more than $3.5 billion in investment and increased wind energy capacity by 8000 per cent, she said. The factory makes wind turbine blades for export.

Mr Hammer said Vestas had hoped to upgrade technology to make blades for local wind farms, but that was not viable. The decision comes a year after the company shut down a similar $15 million factory in Tasmania, laying off 65 staff. Vestas would honour employees' annual leave entitlements and redundancy payouts. Mr Hammer said.

Prince in luck

Warrnambool Standard
Thursday 23/8/2007 Page: 5

DEMAND for bigger blades and wind turbines was a threat to Vestas' small-scale Portland operation, according to Keppel Prince's general manager. The Danish firm's focus on relatively small blades which were built to fit its own smaller turbines had slashed its market share, while Keppel Prince, which supplies a number of parts to fit various turbines, was surging ahead, its general manager Stephen Garner said.

"Their (Vestas) blades are made specifically for a Vestas turbine which has been somewhat superseded and Vestas are not wanting to put any more cash into that facility for another mould," said Mr Garner, who now employs 460 staff and plans to expand. He criticised the Federal Government but said the Brumby Government was doing a "great job" on renewable energy. "Our (federal) government needs to get off its arse and revise its MRET (Mandatory Renewable Energy Target)... that's the thing that drives this industry."

Wednesday 22 August 2007

On renewable energy trail in a day's work

Southern Gazette
Tuesday 21/8/2007 Page: 2

MANNING resident Daniel Thompson wants to make renewable energy more affordable and accessible to remote towns and communities. The Verve Energy project development manager has received a 2007 Churchill Fellowship for study into hybrid power systems, particularly wind energy.

"There are thousands of remote communities in the world that rely on diesel power generation," Mr Thompson said. "Diesel power is expensive and as a fossil fuel consumer it creates greenhouse gas emissions. "Putting wind turbines on those diesel stations has the ability to offset greenhouse gas emissions and bring the cost of distribution down." Mr Thompson will use the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust funding to spend two months studying in Alaska, the United States, France, Norway and the UK.

He said there were about 10,000 diesel power stations throughout the world releasing greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuel. "There's a lot of good reasons to put wind turbines on the systems and Verve Energy saw that back in 1997, and as a result now have about eight wind diesel systems," he said. "My project is about finding out what other people are doing throughout the world in wind diesel so that we can gauge whether what is happening in Australia is comparable. "It is also to bring back new ideas about where the future lies for that part of the industry." Mr Thompson (29) has been studying wind energy for almost 10 years.

He said he was confident renewable energy would continue to develop and integrate with contemporary fossil fuel-burning stations. He will leave for Alaska in October.

Portland bears brunt of wind turbine decision: 130 Jobs Go

Warrnambool Standard
Wednesday 22/8/2007 Page: 1

A PORTLAND factory which manufactures blades for wind turbines has blamed the Federal Government's lack of support for renewable energy for its decision to shut down by the end of the year with the loss of 130 jobs.

Danish company Vestas closed its Wynyard turbine assembly plant in northern Tasmania last year. Senior vice-president for Vestas Asia Pacific, Jorn Hammer, said market conditions in Australia did not support the wind energy industry. He said not enough wind farms were being built to make the factory viable. "It's a big disappointment to Vestas," Mr Hammer said. He said the wind industry was flourishing overseas but struggling in Australia despite the obvious potential.

Liberal member for Wannon and Speaker of the House of Representatives David Hawker last night said news of the company's plans came to him as a surprise. Mr Hawker said he would discuss the case with senior government ministers and would not continent further until he had learned all the facts. "I'm surprised the company hasn't contacted me and I'm very concerned about the employees that will lose their jobs," Mr Hawker said last night.

The decision came less than a week after AGL Energy confirmed it had dumped plans to build a $140 million wind farm in south-east Victoria because it no longer considered the project to be financially viable. "Our view is that the different market mechanisms in other parts of the world support investment in sustainable energy," Mr Hammer said.

The Victorian Government implemented its own Renewable Energy Target scheme after the Federal Government refused to extend the national scheme, which requires energy retailers to buy about two per cent of their energy from renewable sources. Under the Victorian target, power companies will be required to buy 10 per cent of their energy from renewable sources by 2016. Without this effective government subsidy, wind energy, which costs double the amount of coal-generated power, is not competitive.

Victorian Industry and Trade Minister Theo Theophanous said the closure was the direct result of a lack of federal government support for the renewable energy industry. "The Victorian Government has done everything in its power to support this company's operations in Portland," he said.

Opposition environment spokesman Peter Garrett said the Howard Government's consistent hostility to renewable energy showed its failure to take climate change seriously. "Whilst this sector booms across the world and plays an increasing role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the possibility of yet another company departing the Australian market points to the abysmal short-sightedness of the policy approach of the Howard Government," he said. Mr Garrett said Labor would significantly increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target.

Coral Bay powers up

Northern Guardian
Wednesday 22/8/2007 Page: 3

CORAL BAY'S new $14million wind-over-diesel power project was switched on last Friday. The new Vergnet wind turbines can be lowered to the ground during extreme weather conditions. It is the first time they have been built anywhere in Western Australia.

Horizon Power have now assumed responsibility for power supplies in Coral Bay. Previously three privately owned and operated electricity generators serviced the area using a limited distribution network. The three wind turbines are part of Coral Bay's wind farm and power station, which was officially opened by Energy Minister Francis Logan last Sunday. The opening signalled the normalisation of power supplies in the area.

Horizon Power general manager generation and technical services Mike Laughton-Smith said the system was new and innovative. "There is nothing `normal' about this power station - it is absolutely unique," Mr Laughton-Smith said. Excess wind energy is stored in a massive spinning three-tonne steel flywheel at the power plant, which rotates in a vacuum on a magnetic bearing. The flywheel has enough inertia to keep it spinning for 12 hours unpowered.

The new power plant is continuously switchable between seven 320kW low-load diesel generators, three 275kW wind turbines, and the flywheel "battery". Mr Logan said Horizon Power teamed up with Verve Energy to build the wind farm and low-load diesel power station on the fringe of the town.

He said the wind turbines could generate up to 45 per cent of Coral Bay's electricity requirements. "The fact that the turbines can be lowered and raised as required in extreme weather conditions provides Verve Energy with a tremendous opportunity to use similar turbines in cyclone-prone areas." Mr Logan said Horizon Power had also constructed a new 22,000-volt underground power network for the distribution of the electricity in Coral Bay, using nine kilometres of cable.

Local member Vincent Catania said that the power station would provide reliable energy to residents and businesses in Coral Bay at the same tariff rates as people in metropolitan Perth. "We are now seeing regional WA lead Australia in revolutionary technology," Mr Catania said. "More importantly, this infrastructure is part of a move toward a sustainable future, one in which we are less reliant on fossil fuels." The wind turbines are expected to save 440,000 litres of diesel each year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,160 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Mr Logan said the use of the wind to generate power in the area was a significant contribution to renewable energy in WA. "This section of the WA coast is earning an international reputation for its pristine environment," Mr Logan said. "The use of renewable generating equipment and the construction of an unobtrusive underground power network provides 21st Century amenity without impacting on what people flock here to experience.

"The result is low environmental and visual impact infrastructure that will help sustain Coral Bay as the natural wonder we have come to love." The Coral Bay power project was supported by with $2m from the Australian Government through its Renewable Remote Power Generation Program.

Tuesday 21 August 2007

Wind farms planned: Company proposes turbines for Geelong area

Geelong Advertiser
Tuesday 21/8/2007 Page: 8

A MELBOURNE energy company is scouring the region for wind farm sites, promising to pump profits back into the community. Future Energy Pty Ltd managing director David Shapero said yesterday the Surf Coast and Bellarine Peninsula would be ideal locations for community generated wind farms. His comments come after the state's planning tribunal backed a Future Energy plan to construct Australia's first community-owned wind farm in Hepburn last month.

Mr Shapero said small community-based wind farms would be suited to the region which could not accommodate large operations because of the growing population and lack of wide open spaces. "We have been down looking at that area a bit," he said. "We have been trying to find locations that are most appropriate but have minimal impact." Mr Shapero said community-based wind farms were operated like a business but funded by community investors or shareholders.

He said shareholders not only helped to save the environment but received a profit from the wind farm while funds were also directed back into the local economy through community projects. "I always thought it would be best if the money was used for energy savings programs. Overseas programs have included giving out low energy light globes which is fairly simple to putting retro fitters on local buses for low energy fuels," Mr Shapero said.

Wind farms are better suited to open farm land with high wind spots that are close to the energy grid, but Mr Shapero said, the Great Ocean Road would not be a target as the Government did not support wind farms in that area. He said he expected the region to host many wind farms in the future as the dire consequences of climate change became more pressing.

Individual wind turbines, Mr Shapero said had the capacity to supply 1000 homes while the energy used to construct them was made back within 12 months of being set-up. "Wind turbines have a lifespan of about 25 years and if they need to come down there's plenty of opportunity for the materials to be recycled," he said. Mr Shapero said Future Energy was also acting on behalf of International Power, one of the world's largest renewable energy companies, which had submitted early plans for a 14- turbine wind farm in Winchelsea. He said more than 40 Winchelsea residents had attended a meeting on the proposal.

Shhh, it's the silent majority

Geelong Advertiser
Tuesday 21/8/2007 Page: 15

IRRESPECTIVE of what is said in this paper, responses by and large come from the disaffected, disenchanted and dissatisfied minority only. With a rare degree of magnanimity and self-sacrifice I have decided to dedicate this column to the great unwashed and their hitherto unheard- of thoughts on what they really want. So here are the thoughts of John and Mary Smith or Tan, Wong, Cvijic or anyone else with a name ending in `Os' or a vowel. We are fed up with everyone pussyfooting around with politics and allegedly speaking on our behalf.

Let's start with a local issue, fluoridation. Quite simply, the minority, very vocal Nazi-like zealots who bombard the Addy with their selective quotes from dodgy sources are wrong. Even trades hall is questioning its position since it banned fluoridation some 20 years ago and is unlikely to ban it now. Our children deserve to have universally affordable dental care and old fuddy-duddies who scoop their dentures out of a glass each morning should butt out. `Whoopee Do' Michael Crutchfield has correctly assessed the feelings of the majority and the available reliable, authenticated research. Take no prisoners, Michael, and strike a blow for the rest of us.

To the people of the Wonthaggi region, get over it. We need to invest in alternative resources and you've scored a great start in being gifted a desalination plant. Would you rather one of the Federal Government's proposed nuclear plants? This argument also applies to all those who whinge and whine against wind farms, solar towers and everything else that will secure our future on this planet. We have a Tasmanian company called the Roaring 40s which has huge contracts in China, including building the largest wind farm in the world, yet can't get any work in their own country. Do you think China bothered to ask the peasants if they had any objections to a wind farm on their doorstep? We need to commit to renewable alternatives and the self-interested, touchy-feely sentiments of a few objectors should be taken for what they are; the inability of some to embrace change and people's innate propensity to say `no' if given the opportunity. We want to see desalination plants, recycled water from Werribee, wind farms up and down the coast and a solar tower at the back of Bannockburn. Anything other than dirty coal, a lack of water or nuclear power plants.

Councillors getting a pay rise? Not while our collective derrieres point to the ground. When they can fix potholes, get traffic across the city, stop increasing the rates by almost double the CPI, discuss things in open chamber and not their secret little meetings, develop a planning policy that doesn't require camping at VCAT on a weekly basis, then come back and ask again. However, it's a big ask, as part-time councillors are simply just not up to the job.

We need fewer of them and all should be full time and treat it as a career. They should also be required to demonstrate some sort of experience or expertise which might suggest they are vaguely capable of meeting the demands of the job.

We're on a roll here. Bring back nativity plays to school, return the troops as no-one gives a stuff about Iraq and let them kill each other, teach kids maths and English grammar by rote. Bring back the death penalty and implement the Pauline Hanson Muslim immigration policy i.e. none. Howard, don't say sorry on our behalf as we're not. Thank-you John, Mary, Mario, Petros, Agneta, Dragana, Wei and Yuen for your insightful comments. Trouble is, will anyone listen to the majority?

We'll end electric hot water, Labor tells green voters

Sydney Morning Herald
Tuesday 21/8/2007 Page: 7

LABOR says that if it wins power it will phase out the energy intensive electric hot water systems that use almost one-third of households' energy consumption. By 2010 electric hot water systems would no longer be installed in new homes, and by 2012 they would be replaced by solar, gas or heat-pump systems in existing dwellings, Labor's environment spokesman, Peter Garrett, said yesterday.

By 2012 the measures would be equivalent to taking 1.7 million cars off the road, or reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 7.5 million tonnes, he said. "We know Australians want to embrace climate-friendly solutions, and we think this policy will be well supported." If elected to government, Labor would keep the $1000 rebate that the Federal Government announced earlier this year, which helps householders cover the cost of switching from electric to solar and heat-pump hot water systems. But Labor would take the policy further, introducing energy efficiency standards for all water heaters and eventually replacing the use of electricity to run water systems with solar or high efficiency gas or heat pumps.

The Government announced the $1000 rebate earlier this year, which followed a policy by Labor that would offer low-interest loans to households of up to $10,000 to be spent on a variety of measures to make homes more energy and water efficient. Green groups yesterday welcomed Labor's announcement. A Greenpeace energy campaigner, Mark Wakeham, described it as "a positive and simple measure that will make a significant impact on household greenhouse pollution".

"Using electricity to heat water is like using a chainsaw to cut butter. It's completely over the top and excessive." Mr Wakeham said it was good to see both parties paying attention to climate change, but that relatively small measures such as the one announced yesterday needed to be matched by a plan on reducing emissions. `Australia needs to reduce its greenhouse pollution by 30 per cent by 2020 if we are to do our bit towards tackling climate change. Measures like phasing out electric hot water will make a contribution, but we also need legislated targets for reducing emissions, increasing the share of renewable energy, and a clear pathway to reduce our use of coal-fired power."

Monday 20 August 2007

Perth faces future of desalination plants and wastewater recycling.

West Australian
Monday 20/8/2007 Page: 24

It has already saved WA from stage six water restrictions and by 2020 desalination and wastewater recycling is expected to be the State's only new source of water. Forget dams, bores and rivers - up to six major desalination plants will be built along the coast, from Esperance to Cape Preston, to quench WA's increasing thirst. Countless smaller capacity plants will also be established in remote inland and coastal communities, including Coral Bay, Yalgoo and Hopetoun and up to 50 per cent of "wastewater" will be recycled and drunk.

Water Corporation desalination principal engineer Gary Crisp doesn't need a crystal ball to predict the important role desalination will play in the State's water future. "Only additional water, provided from seawater desalination and wastewater recycling using reverse-osmosis, can sustain WA's growth and save the State from the worst drought this country has ever seen," he said. "It will be our saving grace, without it we would be on full water restrictions only using water to drink, bathe and wash." In fact, Mr Crisp believes desalination technology could not only solve the nation's water crisis, but alleviate pressure in those global regions where water was scarce and populations were growing. "Seawater desalination is a water source of the future, new engineering," he said.

"I believe only cities with a high rainfall and a small population like Darwin and Hobart and countries with an abundance of water like Canada will resist the move. Even London is considering desalination of Thames estuary water. "If it is powered by renewable energy, seawater desalination will become the only renewable, sustainable water source and it will supplement our traditional reserves in coastal cities in and and semi-arid regions." Earlier this year, Premier Alan Carpenter announced a second $1 billion water desalination plant would be built in Binningup by 2011. The first major sea water desalination plant to be built in the southern hemisphere was commissioned at Kwinana, south of Perth, in November.

The $387 million plant will produce 45 billion litres of water annually, or almost 20 per cent of Perth's water needs. In Queensland, the Government recently started building a $1.2 billion desalination plant on the Gold Coast and work on another $2 billion plant in Sydney will start soon. And many Mediterranean countries, including Spain - which built one of the world's first reverse-osmosis plants almost four decades ago - are rapidly turning to the technology. Mr Crisp said WA's pristine coastline boasted "some of the best conditions in the world" for constructing successful desalination plants.

"Our sea water is very clean and is of a high quality - it is totally free of pollutants and its clarity is high," he said. "Perth isn't usually affected by cyclones, which stir up the water and the seawater temperature range is also good for optimal seawater reverse-osmosis plants. "We also have lots of wind to drive a wind farm which provides a renewable energy source to power the desalination plant. "These very favourable conditions have helped us build the world's most advanced desalination plant in Perth." Mr Crisp said water engineers had been coming to terms with the technology since the mid 1990s with the State's first desalination plants on Rottnest Island and in Shark Bay. "Like desalination, the provision of `environmentally-friendly' water and water services is a business of the future and water engineers will always be in demand," he said.