Friday 28 September 2007

Probus September meeting: wind farm talk

Cooma Monaro Express
20/09/2007 Page: 12

THE Probus Club of Cooma was recently treated to an interesting and challenging talk on wind energy by Beverley Allen, representing Friends of Renewable Energy (of Berridale) with input from John, her husband. Beverley and her group organised a three-day tour of the Ararat wind farm installation in May this year in order to determine what effect the installation was having on the region.

The wind farm is already providing almost 2 per cent of Victoria's power requirements, so any assessment of its impact on the region would provide reliable input into the local debate on the desirability of the proposed wind farm in the Snowy Plains area of Snowy River Shire. Mention was also made of the Crookwell Wind Farm, which is more of a tourist attraction than an eyesore. Opposition to wind farms is based on various claims of environmental damage, including unsightliness, noise, the killing of birds, the effects on land values (the "Not in my backyard" argument), television reception, and so on.

Beverley and John between them refuted all these adverse claims. They pointed out that while some people may think the towers and rotating blade an eyesore, many of those they spoke to said they found them soothing. No one who has stood beneath a wind tower in full flight should be able to complain about noise ("It sounds just like my washing machine" was one comment). Figures on bird damage show that far more birds are killed by power lines, glass windows, cars and cats than by wind farms. Indeed, swans in Canada were observed threading their way between the towers along one riverside installation.

Beverley gave details of land value movements in the Ararat area: "Four years ago land was worth $400-$600 per acre; today values are as high as $1,800 an acre." Some of this increase was possibly due to the movement of Melbourne commuters into the country life style, but obviously the wind farm had done nothing to depress values. The effect on radio and television reception is still being assessed, but with the move to digital the effects will diminish even further.

Wind monitors have been set up all along the high country of New South Wales to assess the potential of various districts to sustain wind farms. Wind forces were compared, and although Victoria, with its proximity to "the roaring forties" gets more wind than the Monaro, wind figures here are not too far behind. Some time was then spent on urging Probeans to get enthusiastic about addressing climate change, including the obvious changing over to energy efficient lights and appliances, purchasing "Greenpower", reducing consumption, and so on. All in all it was a very interesting talk, and well received by club members.

Talbingo's energy park attracts $70,000 in grants

Tumut & Adelong Times
18/09/2007 Page: 3

A $5,000 Visy Community Grant presented to Talbingo Public School will be used to establish solar panels at the school's green energy park by June of next year. This grant comes on the back of a $67,716 grant for the Talbingo Public School Energy Park Project from the Australian School innovation in Science, Technology and Mathematics (ASISTM) Program earlier this year. The program is part of the NSW Department of Education Science and Training (DEST) and the Australian Government's Community Water Grants.

Although only $6,000 of the grant can be used for green energy hardware Talbingo School has received industry and community support which has allowed the acquisition of two solar energy ovens worth over $900, a number of small $30 solar cars and a $160 hydrogen car. The park will eventually be an educational attraction for school and university students and feature a host of green energy alternatives including solar, hydro and wind.

Coordinator of the Project Sharon Rankmore said a wind turbine will be erected during the October school holidays and around $32,000 worth of solar panels should be laid down before Christmas. These solar panels will feed excess energy back into the local electricity grid during school holiday periods and Ms Rankmore hopes the project will enable the school to be energy self-sufficiency. The school has also sourced an old timber water wheel and will soon add it to the diverse range of green energy alternatives to be on display at the school. Ms Rankmore said the park aims to encourage a love of science and science teaching in school and university students.

The lion's share of the grant has been set aside for excursions and camps to alternative energy facilities as well as teaching workshops and programs designed to enhance understanding of the science and mathematics behind renewable energy. Students have already visited the Crookwell Wind Farm and will soon embark on a major camp involving around 100-students to Newcastle, Jindabyne and Cooma to view renewable energy development ranging from wind to geo-thermal. On completion in 2008 the park will be an educational tourist attraction planned, designed, constructed and run by students, teachers and partners of the project.

An innovative feature of the project is the collaboration between large energy companies, educational institutions, various levels of government and community organisations to create a resource that encourages science teaching and attitudes towards efficient energy use. Sharon Rankmore said after visiting the energy park patrons and students will be able to learn more about what they have seen through online teaching units. She said through the ASISTM program teachers have been preparing online units in energy for future park visitors so they can continue their educational experience when they get home or back to school or university. The energy park project aims to encourage school and university students to take up a science career as well as providing professional development for teachers and an example to other communities, Ms Rankmore said.

Cleaner, greener Cooma council

Cooma Monaro Express
18/09/2007 Page: 5

Cooma Monaro Shire Council has begun taking steps to create a cleaner greener future in the region. The council has showed interest in undertaking an energy audit and decided to investigate the pros and cons of doing this at council's monthly meeting last week. Mayor Roger Norton has indicated it could been done within the next six months. "The councillors seem to be enthusiastic that we can achieve a worthwhile reduction in our energy use," said Cr Norton. "We need to look at the costs and benefits first but it certainly could be done within a six month period, while the Cooma Monaro Climate Change Working Group (CMCCWG) is investigating solutions," he said.

Council has also elected two staff members, Cr Norton and town planner Mark Adams to join CMCCWG, which was established to address climate change at a local level. "This indicates that council is supporting the working party and the councillors look forward to the report in about six months to see how to reduce our energy use and greenhouse gas emissions," he said. Cr Les Sutcliffe is also attending a conference this week (Monday and Tuesday) in Bendigo aiming to identify climate change in regional Australia and look at solutions to the issue. "This conference has a great list of speakers, a lot of seminars and covers everything from biomass to alternate diesel fuels, and solar, wind and wave generation technologies," said Cr Sutcliffe. "This will give me a better knowledge of what alternative technologies are out there and I'll be able to advise council of the alternatives and which ones are feasible and economically viable," he said.

Global unity needed for climate change: UN

September 26, 2007

NATIONAL action will not be enough to halt climate change, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned, calling on all nations to join the UN process to find a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. "The time for doubt has passed," Mr Ban told the meeting in New York, the biggest-ever gathering of world leaders on climate change.

More than half of the 150 countries attending the one-day summit were represented by their head of state or government leader, with Australia represented by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. "What we do about it will define us, our era, and ultimately the global legacy we leave for future generations," Mr Ban said.

He said a breakthrough was needed at a key conference taking place in Indonesia in December to set a strategy for action against climate change after the first phase of the UN's Kyoto Protocol runs out at the end of 2012. "Given the nature and magnitude of the challenge, national action alone is insufficient," Mr Ban said. "That is why we need to confront climate change within a global framework, one that guarantees the highest level of international co-operation."

His comments seemed to be pointed at the US and other countries, including Australia, which are attending a separate US-convened climate-change meeting in Washington later this week. President George Bush said his meeting of 15 "major emitter" countries including China, Australia, the European Union and the UN, was designed to feed into the UN processes later this year, but environmental groups remain sceptical of his motives. The EU is calling for the Indonesia talks to agree to reduce global emissions to at least 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Green power could be a money spinner

South Coast Register
Monday 17/9/2007 Page: 7

A Bomaderry engineering firm is developing domestic-use wind turbines to generate sustainable energy. And the firm claims if products like its own take off, it would lessen the need to build expensive and dirty power stations. Private Parts Pty Ltd has been working closely with Shoalhaven City Council to develop commercially viable home-use wind energy generators.

Their tests have shown that on an average day the turbines can generate more than half the energy the standard household consumes each day. While the product is still in development, and trials throughout the Shoalhaven pending on council approval, Private Parts director Roly Dixon said one thing was certain. "It these domestic wind turbines were taken up by a good percentage of the population, it would make a massive difference to the need to build power stations," he said.

Mr Dixon said the turbines produce a renewable resource, are twice as efficient as solar power and could each reduce carbon emissions by 3.5 tonnes a year. "We're obviously doing it for commercial reasons, but I believe in it," he said. We know it will never totally replace the other methods of electricity generation, but it could form an important part of the Mr Dixon said the turbines have been designed to operate silently at all wind speeds, and he hoped to see the product used everywhere.

Turbine powers water system

Colac Herald
Monday 17/9/2007 Page: 9

A Colac district resident has won approval to install a single wind turbine to generate power for her property's irrigation system. Marianne Fountaine received Colac Otway Shire approval for her application to build a 5.5 kilowatt wind turbine for personal use on her rural property on the Great Ocean Road at Sugarloaf Creek, north east of Skene's Creek. Ms Fountaine addressed the shire's planning meeting on Wednesday and said the wind turbine would generate power for an irrigation system on her property. Excess power from the wind turbine will go into the national power grid.

The tower has a maximum height of 24 metres and is made from grey galvanised steel with supporting stainless steel guy wires. The proposed turbine and shed will be set back 200 metres from the Great Ocean Road. Ms Fountaine said the visual impact of the wind turbine was a major consideration when determining a site for the tower. "It will only be partially visible for three seconds when driving along the Great Ocean Road and its visibility is as minimal as I can possibly make it," Ms Fountaine told the planning meeting.

Ms Fountaine won praise from Colac Otway Shire councillors for her environmentally responsible approach to finding an energy solution for her rural property. Cr Peter Mercer said he applauded the applicant "on being environmentally responsible". Councillors passed the proposal unanimously and Cr Chris Smith said it was great when people thought outside the box. "It's great for the people involved to put forward this sort of proposal," Cr Smith said. Cr Jo Di Cecco said he congratulated Ms Fountaine on using sustainable energy.

Plans on ice

Sydney Morning Herald
Wednesday 19/9/2007 Page: 17

The Princess Elisabeth, a zero emissions building that will become Belgium's winter base in Antarctica, is on display in Brussels this month, reports Agence France-Presse. The 10 x 21-metre building can house up to 20 people and will be erected on a rocky cliff in "total isolation" in case of a leak. It will be powered by solar panels and wind turbines, recycles its water. Solid waste will be carted off the continent every second year. The building's engineers say if they can build a carbon neutral building in Antarctica, it's possible anywhere. American scientists living on the Greenland ice sheet, who do not have carbon-neutral digs, are pondering what to do about the pollution they emit as they study global warming, reports The Oregonian.

Thursday 27 September 2007

Clubs see sun, light

Manly Daily
Wednesday 19/9/2007 Page: 9

Manly's surf clubs are set to become solar power showcases under a new council plan. South Steyne, North Steyne and Queenscliff will be some of the first surf clubs in the state to be partially run on green power. The initiative will cost around $25,000 per surf club to install less any grants the clubs can secure. The solar power will cover the clubs' hot water needs. But according to Manly Mayor Peter Macdonald, who proposed the plan, it is money well spent. "It is a combination of showcasing environmental technology in positions between Queenscliff and South Steyne and it results in significant uptake by surrounding residents," Cr Macdonald said.

A similar project was recently piloted by south coast surf club Tathra and in addition to significant power savings 800 residents subsequently installed solar energy, Cr Macdonald said. Simon Fry, president of North Steyne Surf Club which turns 100 in November, was ecstatic with the prospect of going solar. "It is terrific. Really, it is going to help everyone out," he said. "The bills are going to be smaller, which helps any volunteer organisation out." Mr Fry said the club had tried to get solar panelling installed 10 years ago but the proposal was rejected due to heritage concerns. "It is good to see that this council is forward thinking enough to see these sorts of things come first." he said. Heritage concerns will be taken into account but will combine both the new technology and the historic buildings. The use of wind turbines will also be investigated in order to make the clubs run completely on green power.

Development in the wind

Emerald Hill Weekly
Wednesday 19/9/2007 Page: 9

Port Phillip Council has approved plans for a controversial Elwood development with a four-metre high rooftop wind turbine despite residents' concerns. At last week's meeting, councillors voted unanimously in favour of a four-story development of 25 units at 35 Ormond Road. Councillors praised the development's novel wind turbine, which will power building facilities such as the lift service and lighting in the foyer.

It will be the first residential building in Victoria to have its own wind turbine. "This a six-star building, and we want to encourage innovative ways of developing sustainable housing," councillor Janet Cribbes said. The building will also be designed to conserve water, including a system for treating grey water, stormwater filtration and a rainwater tank. However, some residents objected to the plans, saving the development would be unsightly and too tall for the neighbourhood.

Cr Cribbes said the development complied with council height restrictions for the area and met Victoria's residential development guidelines for buildings of its type. She said that the project would serve as a pilot for environmentally sustainable living, and if it proved to be successful, other developers might be encouraged to build similar developments. Developers Contour Consultants said local bird life would not be affected by the turbine and measures would be adopted to muffle traffic noise that could impact the building's residents. The proposal is now awaiting formal approval from Planning Minister Justin Madden.

Region now a leader on environment

Bendigo Advertiser
Wednesday 19/9/2007 Page: 10

Bendigo and the wider central Victorian region is fast emerging as a national leader in the debate and discussion about environmental issues. In July, Treasurer Peter Costello announced $15 million of federal funding for a solar energy project that will have its headquarters in Bendigo. The $35 million renewable energy model will see the creation of two 300 kilowatt solar power parks - one in Bendigo and another in Ballarat - to service 13 municipalities in the region.

Meanwhile, La Trobe University is still awaiting news of its bid to establish the Australian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation in Bendigo. Its proposal, developed with a number of other universities, is one of three in the running for Federal Government funds. The centre will examine the effects of climate change on Australian communities and how society should adapt to new weather patterns.

While a decision on this proposal is expected by the end of the month, the two-day Renewable Energy and Regional Australia conference, which closed in Bendigo yesterday, has helped keep the city's environmental credentials in the national spotlight. Like many cities and regions, Bendigo and central Victoria has been personally touched by climate change in recent years, and its residents are beginning to accept the enormity of the challenges that lie ahead. To their credit, these residents are emerging as leaders in the discussion about how to cope in this new environment.

The energy answer is blowin' in the wind

Australian Financial Review
Wednesday 19/9/2007 Page: 12

According to the Belgium-based Global Wind Energy Council, worldwide wind energy generation increased 25 percent last year but in Australia it only rose 15 percent. However, new incentives from federal and state governments look set to increase wind energy by 19 percent per year from now until 2010. The Australian Wind Energy Association (Auswind) says the sector has exciting growth opportunities, with South Australia leading the way.

Babcock and Brown Wind Partners is investing in Stage Two of the Lake Bonney Wind Farm which will make it the biggest facility of its kind in Australia. Towers will be up to 80 metres high, nearly as tall as the Adelaide Hyatt Regency Hotel. About half of SA's councils are using renewable energy for 20 percent of total usage. Even Marion Council has made the 20 percent commitment even though its area includes a Mitsubishi car plant and the largest Westfield shopping centre in SA. One of the great benefits of wind energy for a dry continent like Australia is that it is one of the few forms of electricity generation which requires no water.

Enviro-Social Research Compromised By Warmongering

Ethical Investor
September, 2007 Page: 11

A group of United Kingdom scientists has released figures showing what it believes is an imbalance of global research funding towards defence technology at the expense of the environment and social development. Flawed government thinking is driving a rapid expansion in the military influence over science and technology, says a new briefing from Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR).

It states that US government spending on military research and development (R&D) is soaring (up 57% since 2001). SGR's briefing argues that government policies, which emphasise the application of military technology in dealing with complex international crises, are driving the continued expansion of military R&D in the USA, UK and elsewhere, despite major shortcomings in current conflicts such as the Iraq war. Government funding for military R&D 'dwarfs' that spent on social and environmental programmes across the industrialised world, it says.

Quoting 2004 figures, it calculates that industrialised countries spent a total of $85 billion on military R&D, but only $50 billion on R&D for health and environmental protection, and less than $1 billion on R&D for renewable energy technologies essential for tackling climate change. SGR is a UK based organisation of approximately 900 scientists across the natural and social sciences, engineering, IT, architecture and design. Its main aim is to promote ethical science, design and technology - based on the principles of openness, accountability, peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability.

Wednesday 26 September 2007

David Clark appointed to wind farm advisory group

Pyrenees Advocate
Friday 14/9/2007 Page: 11

FORMER Pyrenees Mayor David Clark has been appointed to a new Federal Government body charged with developing a national code for wind farms. Mr Clark is a strong supporter of wind energy, and says the guidelines will establish a framework for community consultation, informing residents how and when to have their say.

The Minister for the Environment, Malcolm Turnbull, said that the national code will provide a consistent and transparent framework for community consultation about the siting and development of wind farms in Australia. "Wind power certainly has a role in securing Australia's energy future and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions," Mr Turnbull said. "It is therefore important that attention be given to finding sites that address both the wind availability requirements of wind developers and the concerns of local communities.

With the development of a wind code, we are seeking a sensible balance of the relevant economic, environmental and social factors." Mr Turnbull said. Mr Clark said he was looking forward to making a positive contribution. I'm strongly in favour of renewable energy and I believe with my local government and landcare background I can make a positive contribution," Mr Clark said.

"In Waubra, because there are a significant number of people benefiting from the wind farm development, the community is generally supportive. But at the end of the day, if this body is going to be effective, it has to be about planning. To me, the planning process is about people getting a fair say and feeling they have been treated fairly," Mr Clark said.

Establishment of the working group follows a discussion paper and roundtable with key stakeholders on developing the Australian Government's proposed national code for the location of wind farms. "While primary responsibility in these matters rests with state and territory governments, there should be a more consistent approach than currently exists across Australia," Mr Turnbull said. Members of the working group represent a balance of community, rural, local government and wind energy industry interests. The body will be chaired by Denis Smedley, a senior executive of the Department of the Environment and Water Resources.

Shire to have wind farm phone survey

Goulburn Post
Monday 17/9/2007 Page: 2

Upper Lachlan Shire councillors have rejected a move to conduct a public meeting on the massive Epuron wind farm planned for north west of Goulburn. Cr John Coombs urged colleagues at last Thursday's council meeting in Collector to call a public meeting so that the feeling of "majority" of residents could be ascertained as a guide to council's policy on wind farms. However, this was rejected in favour of a "professional telephone survey".

Cr Coombs said the shire should adopt a firm stance one way or another on wind farms particularly as no action has yet occurred on other approved sites, leaving many residents of the area in limbo. If the developer is successful in its bid, the wind farm will stretch over 25km from south of Pomeroy to a point 6km south west of Crookwell. More than 80 turbines are planned for sites in the Pomeroy, Gurrundah and Kialla districts.

The proposed turbine towers are so high - at more than 85m - the Defence Department at Canberra is concerned that they could interfere with radar lines. Turbine height has also drawn the interest of the Civil Aviation authorities. Because the projected cost of the wind farm will be well beyond $30 million, approval will be in the hands of State Planning, not Upper Lachlan Shire or Goulburn-Mulwaree councils. And because of the demands for approval from a variety of authorities, from environmental to defence, Epuron Pty Ltd cannot see construction beginning until late 2009 or 2010.

The Planning Department has sought the Upper Lachlan's input for consideration with the application. Last month, Epuron Pty Ltd began the long and winding path to approval with a meeting of interested parties and site inspection. At Thursday's council meeting, the shire's environment and planning director Robert Mowle said State Planning had been advised that the council would require compliance with its Development Control Plan on wind farms, which included a stipulation that turbines be located at least 2km from any non-involved residence.

Other concerns included impact on the Crookwell air strip, noise levels, impact on land values, and routes for transport of plant and materials to the site. Access to the Pomeroy sites will be via Goulburn, and to the Gurrundah - Kialla areas through Crookwell. A brief report on Epuron Pty Ltd's plan will be furnished to Goulburn-Mulwaree councillors at their meeting tomorrow night.

Tuesday 25 September 2007

Energy potential explained

Bendigo Advertiser
Tuesday 18/9/2007 Page: 6

THE potential for Australia to become a clean energy superpower is a challenge for governments and business to embrace, chief executive officer of the Clean Energy Council, Dominique La Fontaine told delegates yesterday. Wind energy was overwhelmingly endorsed as a reliable source of renewable energy in Australia by Ms Fontaine, who said adopting targets for renewables to provide at least 20 per cent of electricity generation by 2020 was possible. "We don't need to wait for technology to occur," she said. "We need to start deploying energies we know." She described the forthcoming federal election as a watershed for the renewable energy industry.

The CEC has a local government forum which encourages representatives to consult on clean energy initiatives. Dean Bridgfoot from the Mount Alexander Sustainability Group, who also addressed a session on marketing green power, said it was important to encourage communities to change their behaviour now, instead of waiting for advocacy and high-tech innovations to develop.

Mr Bridgfoot said the group was working to encourage energy retailers to support community groups such as schools or sporting clubs via a loyalty program, with incentives for clubs signing up to green power, such as being provided with solar panels. "With a strong political voice, in a dramatic and direct way, people can do it," he said.

The group, which has 480 members within a small geographic area, initially wanted to start up its own green power company but the infrastructure proved too onerous. Instead, the group is now encouraging its local community to sign up to green power and eventually oversubscribe. "The economics would be transformed," Mr Bridgfoot said.

Babcock & Brown wind farms switch

Tuesday 18/9/2007 Page: 2

A RESHUFFLING of assets in the Babcock and Brown group will see its stand-alone listed wind farm operation acquire control of more than 750 turbines across the US and Portugal from its parent company for just under $600 million. The deal substantially increases the size and power generation capability of Babcock and Brown Wind Partners (BBW) and prompted the ASX-quoted operator to upgrade the planned payouts over the next two years to its security holders. Investors - which include its parent with a 12 per cent stake - will see an increase of 16 per cent to 14.5 per security in 2008 and a 15.50 distribution in 2009, based on the revenue to be earnt from its existing portfolio of wind farms and three to be acquired in Texas and Colorado, and the 30 across Portugal. BBW's shares rose 2.25 0 to $1.68 yesterday.

Global demand for wind energy leads to turbine shortage

Mining Chronicle
September, 2007 Page: 25

The massive surge of interest in renewable and sustainable energy has created a worldwide shortage of wind turbines. Suppliers are being pushed to keep up with the demand for turbines as wind energy has become the world's fastest growing clean power technology - due to businesses and governments trying to meet emission targets.

The situation in Australia is no different according to Auswind, the national wind energy industry association. Auswind communications manager Irena Bukhstaber said wind energy was rapidly gaining significance in the Australian market. "For a while it was a boutique industry, worth about 1 per cent - now, in terms of large scale alternative energy production, it's the only game in town," Ms Bukhstaber said.

"In Australia, the drought, strange weather, Al Gore and even Arnold Schwarzenegger have all contributed to enormous amounts of growth in the industry. The demand for wind energy has exploded." Currently there are more than 40 operational wind farms in Australia - over 560 turbines - producing around 2,500 gigawatt hours of power annually.

Production of wind turbines has been slowed down as the worldwide demand has made the sourcing of key components problematic. "In Australia we make most of the components but there is one which has to be made overseas. It's this component which is creating the backlog internationally," Ms Bukhstaber said. "But we anticipate things will sort themselves out soon." In a newspaper interview British Wind Energy Association director of economics Dr Gordon Edge said the US market was buying a large proportion of available wind turbines. "The US industry is going hell for leather at the moment and relying on imports of wind turbines from Europe," Dr Edge said. "People are ordering turbines now for delivery in 2009 and smaller players are losing out.

Globally, it's going to take two or three years for us to catch up on demand." A US report from Emerging Energy Research said the country's wind energy industry has quickly responded to the growing demand for renewable energy. EER estimates wind projects capable of producing more than 125GW of power, are in various stages of development.

With more than US$65bn forecasted to be invested in additional wind capacity between 2007 and 2015, the US is projected to rank first in the world in cumulative installed wind capacity with approximately 19 per cent of global wind market share by the end of 2015; according to EER's most recent study.

Monday 24 September 2007

Desal drink at 0.03c a glass

Sunday Mail Adelaide
Sunday 16/9/2007 Page: 4

A GLASS of water from an Adelaide desalination plant would cost just 0.03c to produce, says one of Australia's top desalination experts. Former West Australian Water Corporation principal engineer desalination Gary Crisp said, if done right, desalination was cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

Mr Crisp worked on Perth's 144ML desalination plant and is now working on a 125ML plant in Queensland. He said the cost of producing 1kl of desalinated water was about $1.20, so a 250m1 glass of water would cost 0.03c. SA Water charges 50c/k1 up to 125k1, so a 250m1 glass of water costs 0.0125c. However, it then charges $1.16 for every kilolitre above 124k1.

Since Perth's desalination plant opened in November, water bills there have risen by $43 a year. A desalination plant in Adelaide is tipped to push water bills up by about $300. However, Mr Crisp said it was "absolutely" worth building a desalination plant here, which could be up and running in four years. "If you're using wind energy or renewable energy to produce seawater desalination, it's got the smallest environmental footprint of any water source," he said.

Desalination has been criticised for its high energy requirements, which Mr Crisp said were at least three times that of "conventional" water sources such as dams and ground water. He said a 100ML plant would run on 160,000 kilowatt hours a day - enough to power about 25 households for a year. Desalination plants draw water from the ocean, from between 200m and 400m offshore, at a depth of at least 10m.

Screens prevent animals and seaweed from being pulled into the plant and a filter removes smaller particles such as sand and plankton. A high-pressure pump pushes this water through a reverse-osmosis membrane where desalination occurs. "(The pump) is actually what uses all the energy," Mr Crisp said. "That's what puts all the pressure into the water so we get it through the membranes." During reverse-osmosis, about 40 per cent of the water passes through the membrane as fresh water while the remaining 60 per cent salt water flows over the top.

"The fresh water is literally pushed out of the salty water," Mr Crisp said. "The salt can't go through the membrane, the molecules are to big." Once the salt and fresh water are separated, minerals and chemicals including calcium, carbon dioxide, chlorine and fluoride are added to the fresh water, which can then be piped into the city's water supply ready to drink. The salty water is diverted through an energy recovery device to generate power which is put back into the plant.

The brine is returned to the ocean through a pipe, which extends at least 500m-600m from shore, and is dispersed by tides. It is this part of the process which scientists and the fishing industry have concerns with. Mr Crisp said brine was about 5.8 per cent salt while seawater was about 3.5 per cent salt.

More forests get the chop

MX (Melbourne)
Friday 14/9/2007 Page: 8

More wood was removed from forests in 2005 than ever before, the Worldwatch Institute's annual check of the planet's health reveals. Other analysts said while that was true on a global scale, parts of Europe and North America had experienced reforestation in recent decades.

The US think-tank's Vital Signs 2007-2008 report tracked 44 global trends linked to climate change, of which 28 were "pronouncedly bad" and six positive, wind energy among the few. Rapid expansion of soybean plantations in South America could displace 22 million hectares of tropical forest and savanna in the next 20 years.

Energy companies show interest in region

Milton Ulladulla Times
Wednesday 12/9/2007 Page: 13

THE Shoalhaven branch of Clean Energy for Eternity (CEFE) is committed to reducing energy consumption by 50 per cent and increasing use of renewable energy by 50 per cent by 2020. The Shoalhaven branch has adopted this 50/50 by 2020 target from the founding CEFE group in the BegaValley Shire. Clean Energy for Eternity is a voluntarily run, grass roots community organisation. These targets are a bold commitment. But it has started to pay off.

Clean Energy for Eternity has recently had discussions with three renewable energy companies that want to bring their business to the south-east region. They want to come because of the targets. CEFE is putting its hand up to say we want to be proactive in dealing with climate change'.

Exciting prospects include a solar farm funded by community investment. Thirty acres of solar photovoltaic cells could provide two megawatts of power and would be a tourist attraction. A French bioenergy company wants to set up in alia and is looking to start with a pilot project in the local region. They feel that the CEFE targets can be easily achieved. A wind company wants to start some wind monitoring to determine whether or not a community-owned wind farm would be feasible.

Business is coming to us, but making the much-needed change through community investment alone is going to be hard yards. What we would love is some government assistance in reaching our targets and we will be talking to all candidates before the election about what they can offer us. If you want to contact the Shoalhaven CEFE then call Kim on 4454 3696 or Julie on 4455 7194.

Did You Know?
You can now use the 'Greenpages' as well as the 'Yellowpages'. Green Pages Australia is a new national directory of environmentally sustainable products and services. Check it out at

Sunday 23 September 2007

State's power struggle: The forecast for Tasmania's electricity generating water storages is not optimistic.

Launceston Examiner
Monday 17/9/2007 Page: 6

THIS year Tasmania has seen record demand for electricity and record lows in its hydro power generating water storages. It is a situation that must be cause for concern for the State Government, Hydro Tasmania and consumers. Climate change has seen Hydro Tasmania's water storages drop by more than half over the past decade and there's not a lot of optimism that the situation will improve.

From a high of 79 per cent of capacity in 1997, Tasmania's 50 hydro storage lakes and dams dropped to a 40-year low of just 17 per cent in May this year. Despite record rainfall in some catchment areas last month, they are still only 27 per cent of their 17,100-gigalitre capacity. On Monday, June 18, Tasmanians used a record amount of electricity. The new generation peak during a chilling winter night saw 2420MW of electricity used. Hydro's total generating capacity is 2568MW.

In the past 12 months the company has spent more than $100 million on importing power from the mainland via Basslink and running the gas-powered Bell Bay power station, now owned by Alinta. The cost of electricity for domestic and commercial consumers is set to rise by around 15 per cent with Tasmanian energy regulator Andrew Reeves announcing his final determination next month.

Rainfall holds the key to Hydro Tasmania's fortunes and spokeswoman Helen Brain says predictions are for little change up to 2040. "Hydro Tasmania has been working with the CSIRO in modelling likely trends in Tasmania's climate due to global warming. The long-term prediction for rainfall is that it is likely to be less than in the past," she says. Hydro Tasmania's longterm intention is to operate Great Lake between 30 and 60 per cent of capacity. "The highest we have seen it (Great Lake) was in 1997 when it was 78 per cent full." In May this year it was at 12 per cent of capacity and it currently stands at around 20 per cent.

Work to improve inflow to storages, cloud seeding and alternative sources of electricity are all on the agenda for Hydro Tasmania. A $2 million upgrade of the Liawenee canal, which carries water from Lake Augusta to Great Lake, was completed earlier this year. It allows for higher flood flows and more water entering the struggling Great Lake.

"The value of stored water varies enormously depending on the season and on the catchment and how widespread the rainfall is," Ms Brain said. "As an indication, 10mm extra (rainfall) over the entire West Coast or Great Lake catchments is worth about $3 million. Over Lake Gordon it would be worth about half that amount. "The rainfall is worth more in winter over the big catchments as everything is already wet and that water runs off into the storages.

"It's worth almost nothing in summer if the catchment is dry, as it would be soaked into the soil with no runoff resulting in the catchment." The Hydro's annual cloud seeding programme has been expanded this year to help non-hydro storage regions as well. Already more than 20 flights have been made. "Cloud seeding is used to enhance inflows to a number of Hydro Tasmania's catchments," Ms Brain said. "The choice of catchment depends on the presence of favourable seeding conditions and generation demand. "Results from joint HEC-CSIRO trials conducted in the 1980s indicate that there is about a 4-5 per cent increase in annual rainfall. "Incremental run-off from seeded events varies considerably, depending on antecedent catchment conditions," she says.

But cloud seeding is not all silver lining, with the West Coast Council regularly complaining of its effect on tourism and other activities. A study is being conducted to ascertain any adverse effects. The use of the $1.2 billion Basslink cable to import power, the gas-fired Bell Bay power station and wind energy are all regularly contributing to the Tasmanian electricity grid.

In its first year of operation, Basslink was used to buy 1470MW of power from the mainland at a cost of $56 million although it was used to export less electricity to a similar value. In that period Hydro Tasmania also spent an extra $20 million on gas for Bell Bay to reduce the pressure on hydro storages. Wind power from associated company Roaring 40s contributed a handy 48MW during the cold snap in June.

August was a bright spot for hydro generation with rain boosting storages by 7.5 per cent to 27.1 per cent, but this was 4.5 per cent lower than at the same time last year. The rise was mostly a result of the heavy rains between August 8 and 11 that caused widespread flooding. The Pieman, Forth and Derwent rivers all experienced peak flows during the period that exceeded previously recorded maximum flows. It is a phenomenon that we may see repeated in the future.

An HEC-CSIRO-UTAS climate change report says that over the next 30 years expectations are that the North-East area of the State will trend towards lower rainfall (by 8 per cent) with higher maximum and minimum temperatures and higher evaporation. The remainder of the State will trend to higher rainfall (7 to 11 per cent) with higher minimum temperatures and, on the West Coast and highlands, a decrease in evaporation. The bottom line is that Tasmanians will have to get used to buying electricity from the mainland and gasfired power station operators like Alinta.

Smart buildings save cool $38bn

Australian Financial
Monday 17/9/2007

The Australian Conservation Foundation and the Property Council of Australia have welcomed a landmark study that reveals that the country's built environment has the potential to make a substantial difference to greenhouse gas emissions. The report, 'Capitalising on the building sector's potential to lessen the costs of a broad based GHG emissions cut', was commissioned by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council, prepared by the Centre for International Economics, and endorsed by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, among others. The study reveals that energy efficiencies in key parts of the built environment can its reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent to 35 per cent. The report says this could bring down the cost of recommended reductions in emissions by about $38 billion.