Friday 12 October 2007

Melbourne Water's big plans for its biggest fans

Monday 8/10/2007 Page: 4

Melbourne Water is looking at a plan to put wind turbines around its reservoirs and treatment plants. This could mean wind farms in protected water catchments, such as the Thomson, Upper Yarra and Sugarloaf. A tender document calls for "a high-level investigation", and names 23 potential sites on Melbourne Water land, which includes 157,000 hectares of protected catchments.

Melbourne Water spokesman Ben Pratt said the plan might help the organisation, one of the state's top 20 energy users, to reduce its carbon emissions. The water authority has an ambitious target to produce zero net greenhouse gas emissions and to use 100 per cent renewable energy by 2018. "Wind-powered energy is one of the more advanced alternative energy sources available to us," Mr Pratt said.

In 2005-06, Melbourne Water reduced its greenhouse emissions by 40 per cent on its 2000-01 levels. It uses biogases, produced through sewage treatment, to provide some power at its Eastern and Western treatment plants. The investigation will consider standard wind turbines and smaller wind technology, Mr Pratt said. Some new technology, such as vertical axis wind turbines, can be mounted on buildings and are less intrusive on the landscape.

The proposal comes after Maribyrnong Council last month revealed a controversial plan to place two wind turbines near the West Gate Bridge. Each turbine would cost $3 million and generate enough electricity to power 750 homes. The council wants public financial backing. The Melbourne Water tender briefing also names sensitive environmental sites such as Werribee's Western Treatment Plant as potential wind farm locations.

The Werribee site includes internationally recognised wetlands and Australia's second biggest bird sanctuary. Sensitive sites are likely to be ruled out early on, the tender document says. Of 23 proposed sites, eight are ranked as primary options, including seven reservoirs - Sugarloaf, Thomson, Upper Yarra, Greenvale, Yan Yean, Wallaby Creek, O'Shannassy - and the Eastern Treatment Plant. Mr Pratt said feasibility would be based on sustainability criteria, including social, environmental and economic factors. This initial investigation will, in the early stages, immediately rule out any option that does not meet social or environmental criteria," he said. Melbourne Water will appoint a consultant to report on potential sites by February.

Target misses energy point

Cooma Monaro Express
Thursday 27/9/2007 Page: 4

Friends of Renewable Energy has criticised the Federal Government's clean energy target, saying it is misleading and misses the point. The proposed target would see 30,000 gigawatt hours (GWH) of Australia's electricity produced from zero or low greenhouse emitting energy sources by 2020. This 15 per cent `clean' energy target, however, would also allow for the use of clean coal and nuclear power.

Friends of Renewable Energy spokesperson Rashida Nuridin said the target was misleading, could do more harm than good and needed to be more ambitious. "It's great having a target but it's not really the target we should be having, I just feel we could strive for a far more ambitious target," said Ms Nuridin. "Many countries overseas have a third of our renewable resource potential yet their targets are mammoth compared to what is being proposed by the Federal Government. "Also, the danger with calculating GWH into a percentage is that as consumption increases the target could be watered down to less than 15 per cent by 20201" she said.

Ms Nuridin said she was also concerned with the Liberal's `clean energy' target. "The clean energy target would include clean coal and nuclear, which would produce more emissions, rather than a renewable target, which doesn't produce greenhouse gases. "Also if this policy was implemented nationally it would supersede state targets and would also start from 2010, which would be far too late. "This superficial target shows that the government is not serious about addressing climate change," she said.

Greenchoice turns 10

City Chronicle
Tuesday 2/10/2007 Page: 21

ActewAGL has celebrated 10 years of environmentally friendly energy program Greenchoice. Through the Greenchoice program, ActewAGL purchases electricity from sources that do not harm the environment including wind energy, solar, mini-hydro and biomass. The costs of the purchase, from 27 cents to $1.10 a day, is subsidised by Greenchoice customers. The Greenchoice program is independently assessed by the National Green Power Accreditation Program to guarantee that the green energy that is sourced comes from government-approved renewable energy sources.

In celebration of the milestone, Fadden resident David Darcy was named the 10,000 Greenchoice customer at Floriade last week. Mr Darcy said he was thrilled to help Greenchoice mark its 10th anniversary. "I decided to join Greenchoice because I wanted to do more for the environment and to offset your own carbon emissions is a fantastic way to do it," he said.

Last financial year Greenchoice customers increased by 65 per cent. About seven per cent of Canberra homes have now signed up to the program. ActewAGL general manager of retail Ivan Slavich said he was excited that 10,000 people had taken the next step in reducing their carbon footprint. "Recently Greenchoice launched its new plans so now it's even easier for customers to tailor their plan to suit their personal needs and budget."

Saving money is a breeze

South Coast Register
Wednesday 3/10/2007 Page: 8

THE unusual piece of metal you will soon see on the roof of the Shoalhaven Arts Centre isn't the latest piece of contemporary art - but it will be worthy of inspection. Shoalhaven City Council has thrown its support behind the trial of domestic wind turbines in various locations throughout the region. Eight sites have been chosen to trial the turbines, each expected to generate around 7.5kW to 9kW per day, or about 50 per cent of the average daily household consumption. Each generator will reduce council's carbon dioxide emissions by three tonnes per year.

The approach to council for the trial came from Bomaderry company Private Parts Pty Ltd. Last week, council decided to proceed with the trial in eight varying locations. At Shoalhaven Heads turbines will be set at the tourist park and swimming pool. Locations in the Nowra- Bomaderry area include the Bomaderry Aquatic Centre, arts centre, tourist centre, Shoalhaven Water depot at South Nowra, the sewage treatment plant and West Nowra Waste Depot. The eight sites offer diversity in locality, wind exposure and visibility.

Council, which will retain ownership of the generators, will contribute $42,210 to the trial, with Private Parts Engineering contributing another $26,320. The unit has a 1.2m turbine fan and is approx 1.5m in length including the trim tail. The unit has been under development trial, without load, in Bomaderry since mid-July. Private Parts intends to manufacture these units in the Shoalhaven.

Cape Jervis idea for new desalination plant

Thursday 4/10/2007 Page: 5

Cape Jervis has been put forward as a possible location for SA's future desalination plant. The call for consideration of the Cape has come from the Member for Finniss, Michael Pengilly, who told State Parliament the deep flowing water in Backstairs Passage and the proximity to the Starfish Hill wind farm made Cape Jervis worthy of consideration. "Waters around the Cape are deep and fast flowing which will allow for the brine that is a by-product of the plant to be broken up, minimising harm to the environment," Mr Pengilly said.

As well as a green expansion of the Starfish Hill wind farm to generate power for the plant, he also advocated harnessing wave power. His speech to Parliament followed an announcement last week by the Premier, Mike Rann, that a 50-gigalitre desalination plant to serve Adelaide was among his government's plans to shore up water security for the state. Three weeks earlier the Liberal Party launched a 19-point plan to achieve the same water security. This included a pledge to build a desalination plant.

Since March a Desalination Working Group has investigated possible locations for the plant. According to a government spokeswoman, the group has looked at a number of possible locations, including Pelican Point, Point Stanvac and several spots along the South Coast. This is believed to include Cape Jervis. The group is expected to hand down its report next month and Cabinet should sign off on it in November. Mr Pengilly said building the plant at Cape Jervis would have a number of spinoffs for the region. "The distance from the Cape to the reservoir (at Myponga) is about 40km and building this pipeline would ensure the supply of water for smaller communities along the way, like Cape Jervis, Rapid Bay and Second Valley," he said.

He told Parliament it could also be used to sure up the water supply for the rapidly growing southern suburbs and south coast region. "If you put the desal plant at Cape Jervis in what is very deep water - 300 feet just off Cape Jervis - you do not have a problem with the brine because of the exceptional flow up and down Backstairs Passage," Mr Pengilly told Parliament. "It also has the environmental advantage of Starfish Hill Wind Farm, which could be used and which could be expanded to augment the power for the desalination plant. "The option of using wave power generated through Backstairs Passage may be an option." Mr Rann said the construction of a desalination plant was a complex undertaking. He indicated the government would look for a site that would enable the plant to be doubled in size if necessary in future years. He said there was concern about the impact the plant might have on the significant commercial fishery in Gulf St Vincent.

Thursday 11 October 2007

Banks targeted in campaign to kill coal
London, 4 October:

Bank of America and Citi are being asked to stop financing the coal industry, in a campaign launched this week by environmental activist group Rainforest Action Network (RAN). RAN wants to see banks investing in renewable energy rather than coal extraction and coal-fired electricity generation. Coal is the leading contributor to global warming in the US, the largest source of mercury and a top contributor to air pollution, the group said.

If the US goes ahead with current plans to build around 150 coal-fired power plants, it will make all other emissions reduction strategies pointless, said Bill McKibben, an environmentalist and author, at the launch of the campaign on Tuesday. McKibben said coal looks cheap at the moment, but impending legislation will put a cost on carbon and make coal-fired power much more expensive. “It may not be our goal, but our effect today will be to help these banks by keeping them out of the next big mess they’re heading for,” he said.

Leslie Lowe, energy and environment programme director at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, said: “As investors, when we look at the proposition of financing 50-year assets that are going to add to the GHG emissions of this country and of the companies sponsoring these plants, we must step back and say ‘what are they thinking?’”

She gave short shrift to ‘clean’ coal technologies such as Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). “While IGCC plants produce 20% less carbon dioxide (CO2) than conventional coal plants, they still emit more than twice as much CO2 as natural gas and cost 30% more than conventional coal plants. And that is without the cost of CCS technology, which has yet to be proven at utility scale,” Lowe said.

The decision to launch the campaign followed a dialogue between RAN and the banks it identified as leading financiers to the sector, Bank of America and Citi. But RAN’s global finance campaign director Rebecca Tarbotton said they were “keeping an eye” on other banks. She said that, as part of the campaign, the banks could expect to see street protests and shareholders actions. Neither bank would comment to Environmental Finance on whether they were stopping, or changing policy, on financing coal.

Bank of America spokesman Ernesto Anguilla said: "The reality is that, as a country, more than 50% of the electricity we all consume comes from coal. Bank of America is aggressively investing in and financing the development and use of cleaner renewable energies.” He added: “We will be issuing a report over the next several months detailing our efforts to reduce GHGs among our clients in our energy and utility portfolio.”

Citi said it is supportive of efforts to move forward on climate change and has committed $50 billion over the next 10 years for climate-friendly efforts. Citi was also recently recognised as number one among global banks by the Carbon Disclosure Project, a coalition of global investors with more than $41 trillion in assets, it added. RAN calculated that in 2006, Citi financed 200 times more money for fossil fuel energy than it did for alternative energy. At Bank of America, the figure was 100 times.

See green power in action

Summit Sun
Thursday 27/9/2007 Page: 8

IF you are building or renovating and thinking of introducing a cleaner form of energy into your home, then the visit to see four local environmentally friendly homes, is a must. Clean Energy for Eternity, Snowy Mountains is organising another day out to look at local homes on Sunday October 14.

The group will look at four homes, which use a variety of methods to heat, cool or power them, including solar hot water for underfloor heating, solar passive, solar onto the grid and mini wind turbine. It's a great opportunity to learn how someone else did it and ask questions. It's an all day event and visitors are asked to bring their own picnic lunch. Cost is $10 a head. Please contact Sue Edmondson on 6457 1350 for further information or to book. There is a limit of 20 people.

Happy to pay for more renewables

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 4/10/2007 Page: 7

MOST people would be willing to pay an extra $3 a week for electricity to ensure renewable energy was a large part of the power mix, a survey has found. The poll, which asked people if they would support a target for Australia to produce 25 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, comes as predictions of dangerous levels of climate change firmed at a conference in Sydney this week. It follows a survey of people living in the NSW wind farm district of Goulburn-Crookwell-Yass that found most welcomed the turbines because they were worried about climate change. Eighty-three per cent of the 300 people polled said they would be happy to see a wind farm built on land near where they lived.

Renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, has failed to attract as much Government support as projects that attempt to reduce the pollution from coal-fired power. However, news last week that two of the biggest power companies in the US were planning a multibillion-dollar expansion of solar power supply has strengthened the case that renewable energy could become a viable alternative to coal-fired power.

The Newspoll survey of 1200 people released yesterday by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian Medical Association showed two-thirds of respondents would pay an extra $3 a week, or $156 a year, for electricity to cover the cost of a strong renewable energy target of 25 per cent by 2020. "The future health of Australians depends to a large degree on having a healthy environment," a spokeswoman for the AMA's public health committee, Dr Alex Markwell, said. "Renewable energy is a key solution to the climate change problem and this survey shows the majority of Australians are prepared to pay for it," she said.

If greenhouse gas emissions were not cut, Australia would experience more droughts and heatwaves, a rise in heat-related illnesses and the spread southward of the dengue transmission zone, Don Henry, of the Conservation Foundation, said. "In contrast, early action to reduce greenhouse pollution, including a strong Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, would have major health benefits." The AMA and the Conservation Foundation are calling for all political parties to commit to a strong Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, improve the energy efficiency of appliances, vehicles and buildings, and ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

The Greens will announce a 10-year, $3-billion investment fund for renewable energy and energy-efficiency technologies at a solar power conference in Alice Springs today. The Greens' Sun Fund will transfer the $300 million in current annual Federal Government subsidies for fossil fuels to renewable energy. That would provide continuing investment to underpin research, development and commercialisation across the renewable and energy efficiency sectors, the party's climate change spokeswoman, Senator Christine Milne. said.

How we can save ourselves

Thursday 4/10/2007 Page: 15

Tim Flannery: Australia can do something about climate change, but we must act now.
THE release of the CSIRO's report on Australia's climate future brings a sharp focus on what is at stake as we evaluate Liberal and Labor policies on climate change. Among the most alarming projections is that just 60 years from now Australia could be up to five degrees hotter and 40 to 80 per cent drier. In the same week we learned that Australia's population will reach 33 million by 2050 - just 40 years from now. Put the projections together and you can see the future shape of our cities. By 2050, for example, Melbourne will have 6 million inhabitants (up from 3.6 million now), far greater heat-stress and bushfire threat, and far less water.

Even with our current level of population and water availability, much of Australia is struggling. Our lower Murray wine industry is facing collapse and Adelaide is our most water-stressed capital. If the water crisis continues into this summer the region faces a full-blown disaster. Never has the case for sustainability been more evident, or more ignored by our political leaders. Peter Costello is a great population booster, yet we have heard nothing from him about where the water will come from for our increased population. And it's now self-evident that the climate problem requires urgent action. We must remember that the CSIRO projections are not a fait accompli but a call to action.

Australia can do much to reduce its own emissions, and I believe it has enormous potential to impact on global emissions. Doing so could avoid the worse-case scenarios: our future need not be a train wreck of unsustainability, but the time left within which to act is limited indeed. After two decades of dithering, the conditions for developing a global treaty limiting greenhouse gas pollution has never looked more promising. Only Australia and the US - which remain adamantly opposed to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol - stand in the way of concerted global action. Even China has said that it will join the developed world in reducing emissions if we act in concert.

The governments of both Australia and the US are still trying to promote alternative approaches, by holding meetings outside the UN process that rely on voluntary measures. But as the CSIRO report makes clear, we are well and truly out of time to pursue such means. The reality is that the Kyoto negotiations are the only negotiations with a hope of creating a global treaty, and a global treaty is indispensable for combating a global pollution problem. If the CSIRO's report is not to become Australia's epitaph, our country must live up to its global climate responsibilities. The following actions are required - and this year, not next.

1. Immediate ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. In light of the building climate disaster, I respectfully ask our Prime Minister to recognise the true urgency of the climate situation and announce ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, and to talk to our American allies about the reason for that decision. Because President George Bush holds John Howard in such high regard, our Prime Minister is in a position to do far greater good for Earth's climate than the Labor Party could ever contemplate.

2. Swift and dramatic reduction of Australia's emissions. Australia must be set on a trajectory of emissions reduction that will see us play our part in keeping humanity safe from dangerous climate change. To achieve climate stability, actions taken at this late date will be arduous and difficult. In effect we will need to cease greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels altogether within the next 40 years. This means rapid development of alternative energy sources, mandated phase-outs of coal-fired power plants and mandated switching to biofuels. None of this will be achieved without a cost of carbon pollution less than $70 per tonne. But this will not be sufficient. In addition, stretch mandated renewable energy targets will be required, as will greatly enhanced funds to emerging renewable energy technologies.

3. Restore the world's tropical rainforests. Tropical rainforests play a uniquely important role in the Earth's climate system, yet half are already gone and the remainder under threat. Australia can play a leading role in restoring the world's tropical forests, but funding and planned action will have to be greatly enhanced. As the eighth richest country, Australia should lead a global initiative aimed at sequestering 10 gigatonnes of carbon in regrowing tropical forests, per year, by 2030. This could be done directly, at the village level using technologies such as Google Earth and eBay, if a computer were placed in each village school in the tropics.

4. Reform agriculture to store carbon. New advances in biomass-based technologies indicate that the potential to generate electricity and biofuel, and to sequester carbon in soils, is enormous. Brown-coal-fired power plants should be immediately converted to biomass combustion. Pyrolysis machines need to be subsidised and installed on all Australian farms, and the electricity and biofuel they generate become integrated into our energy systems.

Australia again could lead a global initiative here, with the aim of drawing down a further 10 gigatonnes of carbon, per year, by 2030. Were all of these initiatives successful, amazing things could be achieved. By 2030 Australia's emissions could stand at just 40 per cent of those of 1990, and globally we could be drawing down 20 gigatonnes of carbon pollution per year from our atmosphere. That's 10 per cent of the total burden of human-made carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere. Consequently, dangerous climate change could become a receding spectre. But only if we act fast.

Tim Flannery is Australian of the Year 2007, chairman of the Copenhagen Climate Council and a professor at Macquarie University.

Sustainability bank eyes Australia

Thursday 4/10/2007 Page: 3

DUTCH-BASED sustainability bank Triodos, which invests in projects offering social and environmental value, is targeting Australia as its next big market. Peter Blom, chairman and chief executive of the executive board of Triodos, and Bas Ruter, managing director of its funds management division, have been in Australia for the past week checking out banks as potential distribution and strategic alliance partners. Triodos' funds total 3 billion ($A4.8 billion) and its products include a European renewables fund, a large-cap equity fund, a bond fund and a thematic sustainability fund.

Its business banking division provides loans to charities, community groups, social businesses and environmental initiatives such as wind farms, and other businesses such as organic food and fair trade organisations. In its investment banking business, Triodos manages venture capital funds to invest in social and environmental enterprises across Europe. Its investments exclude companies associated with tobacco, animal testing, alcohol, nuclear power, gambling, fur, arms and genetic modification. Its investment portfolio has few mining and oil companies but plenty in the renewable energy sector.

Its returns have been in line with the Morgan Stanley Capital International World Index, which Mr Ruter puts down to selective stock picking. Mr Blom said sustainable investment, particularly in renewable energy, was now an enormous growth market, and he predicted it would become increasingly more mainstream. "What IT was 10 years ago, is now sustainability," he said. "

People are turning to it now because they feel things have become really serious. It's different from the past when they thought there would be a longterm solution. Now they hear the situation will create problems in 10 to 20 years so they know they have to do something now. And what we have been told here is that if people have access to a product with the risk-return profile in line with all the others, if this product can solve the water crisis and makes climate change less of an issue, then that is extra value that people as clients would value now."


Wednesday 10 October 2007

Wind farms are popular

Ballarat Courier
Tuesday 2/10/2007 Page: 7

MOST people in the Lal Lal, Elaine and Yendon areas support wind farms, a study conducted for WestWind Energy has shown. But a residents group has questioned the research, describing it as "totally flawed".

The independent study, which was done by environmental consultants ERM in November 2006, showed 80 per cent of people surveyed said they would be happy to see a wind farm built on farmland near their home. More than 90 per cent of people also said they would be happy to see more wind farms built in Australia. WestWind Energy plans to lodge an application in December to build between 60 and 70 turbines in the Lal Lal area. The company has already received approval to build 64 turbines near Mt Mercer.

The Lal Lal and Elaine Landscape Action Group has collected 1300 signatures opposing the Lal Lal project in a petition that will be presented to State Parliament this month. But WestWind Energy general manager Tobi Geiger said the company had strong support. "A petition is something where a group with very strong feelings in a community about something is trying to tell other people 'can you please sign here to support us?' " he said.

"The study we have done is really more scientifically based and it was run by an independent organisation - not by anyone with a particular interest in this proposal." LLELAG president Marcus O'Brien said the study's results were irrelevant as it was done before people knew about the plan. "When people find out more about the wind farms and the size and the impact of the whole thing they say 'we didn't know that'," he said. "I haven't met a lot of people who were against wind farms but are now for them, but I've not met a lot who were for then but are now against them."

Glimpse of the future reveals our water woes

Hobart Mercury
Tuesday 2/10/2007 Page: 17

HOBART climate scientist Dr Peter McIntosh knew he was taking on a tough assignment when Hydro Tasmania approached him a few years ago and asked him to find out what will happen to our climate over the next 35 years or so. For one thing, Tasmanian conditions are notoriously difficult to predict - even for days or weeks ahead - because of the state's varied topography and the many dynamic forces in play at any given time in Southern Ocean latitudes. Another problem was scale. The interactions of forces over time that make up our climate are so complex that long-tern climate modelling tends to work at a "big picture" scale, where Tasmania barely rates more than a glance.

Climate predictions using standard global models represent Tasmania as one or two grid cells. Hydro Tasmania needed to differentiate between various parts of the state down to a resolution of 10 or 20 kilometres. A solution came from within McIntosh's own CSIRO Division of Marine and Atmospheric Research, where scientists have developed a variable resolution climate model capable of providing fine resolution over a relatively small area like Tasmania.

Tasmanian data on temperature, rainfall and wind going back many decades were used to calibrate the model. Then, estimates of future greenhouse gas emissions were fed into the model to develop likely scenarios from the present time to 2040 to help Hydro Tasmania plan its future with more certainty. McIntosh is careful to point out that no modelling provides a perfect prediction, and that best results are obtained by using multiple models and emission estimates. But the predictions are a sobering reminder that we in Tasmania are far from immune from the impact of global climate change.
  • On average, we can expect higher temperatures - up to half a degree higher by 2040 - especially at night.
  • We should anticipate between 10 and 20 per cent less rainfall in all our major centres. On the other hand, rainfall in the South-West is likely to increase by about 10 per cent, taking in several important Hydro catchment areas.
  • ind speeds are likely to increase by up to 5 per cent everywhere, which is good for wind energy but not so good for evaporation and soil moisture.
One of the underlying messages of McIntosh's modelling is that with higher temperatures and wind speeds, we can expect decreasing water availability from catchments in Tasmania's eastern half. That's serious food for thought.

Peter Boyer, who began his career as a cadet journalist at the Mercury, has written extensively on science. He is now a freelance writer, publisher and illustrator- and one of a team of Tasmanians in Al Gore's Australian Climate Project team of volunteer presenters.

Nod to wind turbine

Port Phillip Leader
Tuesday 2/10/2007 Page: 3

A FOUR-STOREY development approved by Port Phillip Council at 35 Ormond Rd is set to include a 4m high wind turbine. Wind power will be used to power body corporate needs such as lighting. Mayor Janet Bolitho said the Elwood apartment block would have other environmental sustainable features including a grey water treatment system and stormwater filtration. "Ultimately, the apartments should reach a six-star environmental rating," she said. "In environmental terms, the building is streets ahead of others in the neighbourhood," Cr Bolitho said.

Study claims clean energy can cut bills

Wednesday 3/10/2007 Page: 8

A NATIONAL clean energy target on top of emissions trading could cut household electricity bills by up to 5 per cent next decade even though renewable technologies are more expensive, according to research to be released today. Economic analysis commissioned by the renewable energy industry claims a clean energy target (CET) would drive down the cost of renewable energy. The report backs the decision by the Howard Government last week to set a national clean energy target of 15 per cent but has been questioned by the gas industry, which says renewable energy remains a more expensive energy source. One senior industry source said the conclusions sounded "preposterous".

The two-year study by McLennan Magasanik Associates for the Renewable Energy Generators Australia (REGA) found that early action on installing clean energy would save $800 million by 2050, compared with relying solely on emissions trading. The report said the rapid deployment of clean energy under a CET would incur a slightly higher cost on the economy until 2020, but then deliver bigger savings through to 2050 as low-emission technologies became cheaper through regular use. The report argues more renewables would lower prices by increasing competition, driving down the cost of developing technologies and cutting fossil fuel costs. "Cost savings occur through the displacement of fossil fuel generation by renewable energy, which leads to a reduction in fuel costs and emissions, principally due to lower coal and natural gas use," the report says.

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association chief executive Belinda Robinson said the gas industry remained concerned that the objective of emissions trading to deliver the least cost abatement would be undermined by any renewable energy targets acting in parallel. "You will be prescribing at least half of the new energy required to the most expensive form of energy for the same environmental outcome," Ms Robinson said.

REGA chief executive Susan Jeanes said the research was commissioned following the release of the Government's energy white paper in 2004 to model a more comprehensive and independent future for the renewable energy industry. "The report clearly shows that the current debate about clean energy targets in Australia is the right one, and there are real longterm benefits from acting early in this sector," she said.

Labor environment spokesman Peter Garrett said the modelling highlighted the importance of a comprehensive approach to tackling climate change. "A strong renewable energy target is an extremely affordable proposition and combined with a carbon price under emissions trading, can achieve substantial emissions reductions," he said. Victorian Energy Minister Peter Bachelor said the report vindicated the Government's decision to implement a 10 per cent renewable energy target by 2016.

Most would pay for green power

Adelaide Advertiser
Thursday 4/10/2007 Page: 14

MORE than two-thirds of Australians would pay an extra $3 a week for electricity to help meet renewable energy targets. Newspoll research, released yesterday by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian Medical Association, found 64 per cent of people would spend the extra money to meet a renewable energy target of 25 per cent by 2020. That came as the association warned ignoring climate change posed serious public health risks, such as the spread of potentially deadly tropical diseases like dengue fever and malaria.

Foundation executive director Don Henry said $3 a week was equivalent to a cup of coffee and would pay for the uptake of solar and wind energy. He said about 9 per cent of the nation's electricity came from renewable sources. The survey was a "wake-up call" for politicians. "We're starting to fall behind Germany, California and China even in the proportion of renewable energy and yet we're the sunny country," Mr Henry said. He called on all political parties to commit to a strong Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, ratify the Kyoto Protocol and improve efficiency of appliances, vehicles and buildings.

Monday 8 October 2007

Nation faces a barren future

October 2, 200

Australians are facing a barren future, with rainfall to fall by as much as 10 per cent in the next 60 years and more frequent drought conditions predicted under climate change. Melbourne faces temperature rises of up to 3.8 degrees by 2070 and the number of days over 35 degrees may rise from 9 to 25 days if global greenhouse emissions are not slashed.

The most detailed and up-to-date predictions on how climate change will affect Australia, released today by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, provide a grim outlook for the nation's water supplies, which are already under severe stress. And the news is dire for farmers, with up to 40 per cent more drought days predicted in eastern Australia by 2070. The predictions point to decreased rainfall across Australia, CSIRO's climate change impact and risk group leader Penny Whetton said. "It is a slightly stronger message about drying than our last report in 2001 showed," Dr Whetton said.

About 50 leading Australian scientists are gathered in Sydney for Greenhouse 2007, to hear the forecasts, which localise models from this year's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Improvements in computer modelling of climate mean the new projections are more accurate than the 2001 figures. And the projections are bad news for vulnerable areas of Australia highlighted earlier this year by the intergovernmental panel. At-risk natural environments include the Great Barrier Reef, which may become extinct if temperatures rise by three degrees. Kakadu National Park's wetlands and southern Australia's ski fields were also identified by the IPCC as under threat. Coastal towns and cities also face the growing threat of sea level rises and areas such as East Gippsland in Victoria will be at risk of storm surges.

The new report, Climate Change in Australia, highlights the impact human activity will have, depending on how quickly greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. If low-emissions scenarios are followed, with carbon dioxide levels stabilised in the atmosphere, the temperature in Australia may rise about 1.8 degrees by 2070, and rainfall may decrease by about 7.5 per cent. But worst-case scenarios predict 5-degree warming and a 30 per cent reduction in annual rainfall by 2070. The Bureau's Scott Power said the report must be used to plan ahead. "We need to minimise risks and make the most of opportunities," Dr Power said. "This information is critical to that process."


Ararat sun goes to water

Monday 1/10/2007 Page: 2

SOLAR hot water systems, which can cut a household's energy usage by up to 30 per cent, are to become available with no upfront costs under a new business model. Earth Utility offers households a subscription-style service where the system is purchased and installed through the renewable energy company, which charges the customer a quarterly fee for it.

The new service is poised to take advantage of a large niche in the energy market, said the managing director of Earth Utility, Koovashni Reddy. "What we noticed is that solar hot water is a proven product: it reduces 30 per cent of your household energy usage. "There's over 7.5 million hot water systems in Australia, yet less than 5 per cent are solar and over 6 million are electric - the market seems totally under serviced and over-priced," Ms Reddy said.

Earth Utility is staging the first roll out of its service in the northern Victorian town of Ararat, due to a partnership forged with the Ararat Rural City Council. The council has also signed on with Earth Utility and is planning to install the systems in public buildings. The systems are also set to be used in a local property development, Ararat Hills Estate. The decision to install the units in the new homes was made on both environmental and economic grounds, said developer Max Perovich. The systems will be supplied, installed and maintained by Chromagen Solar Australia through Earth Utility at a standard cost of $88 a quarter per household.

The Earth Utility project is the latest in a range of environmentally sustainable projects to be pursued by the Ararat council. This has followed community concern about climate change, exacerbated by the drought, which has caused the region's water levels to drop to just 8 per cent, according to the council's manager of development, Mark Hogan. The region also hosts a 35-turbine wind farm and the council hopes to establish a renewable energy park.


Denmark blows away Howard's breezier goals

Weekend Australian
29/09/2007 Page: 38

On windy nights, western Denmark's wind farms produce so much electricity they can export it
IN the early hours of Saturday morning two weeks ago, Denmark achieved something that makes John Howard's goals for lifting the use of renewable energy in Australia look pretty modest. At 12.17am, as steady winds swept in from the North Sea and most Danes were in their beds, the nation's wind farms churned out 70 per cent of the electricity being consumed across the country. In fact, on windy nights the grid that serves the western half of the country occasionally receives from wind turbines more than its total power demand, leaving excess electricity to be sent by cable to east Denmark or neighbouring countries such as Germany and Sweden.

Denmark is not as windy as southern Australia or places such as Argentina, Morocco and Scotland, but it produces a world-leading 20 per cent of its electricity from wind energy and aims to increase that to 50 per cent by 2025. That is a huge advance on the Australian Prime Minister's goal for 2020 of drawing 15 per cent of the nation's electricity from all low-emission or no-emission sources, including hydro, solar and perhaps clean-coal technology as well as wind. Wind power will be the most important way to meet Howard's goal, so Australian policy-makers and investors will be hoping to learn from Denmark and other parts of Europe, such as the northern German state of Schleswig- Holstein and the mountainous Spanish province of Navarra, which use turbines to generate annual averages of 36 per cent and 44 per cent of their electricity respectively.

Driven by far more ambitious clean energy goals than Australia's, the major European nations have supported wind energy with mechanisms such as tax breaks and guaranteed above-market prices that have been passed on to consumers, allowing the industry and technology to develop to the point where 65 per cent of world wind generation is now in Europe. But even before the Australian engineers and money men arrive in Europe to look for tips, one shining lesson from Europe's experience with wind over the past three decades has been the need to work carefully on public attitudes to clear the way for an expansion of wind energy.

Denmark and the two other pioneers of Europe's wind energy industry Spain, which has the second highest dependence on wind energy at 9 per cent, and Germany, on 7 per cent stand out for their early and successful attempts to win over public opinion. Denmark, which went heavily into wind energy after the oil shocks of the 1970s, has encouraged 200,000 people to invest in turbines in order to give them a stake in the industry. "You have to get people directly involved and show them the benefits for their own communities, either by letting them be shareholders or perhaps insisting that a percentage of a turbine's revenue goes into local community activities," says Anders Dalegaard, a project manager at the Danish Wind Industry Association.

Navarra invested in public education programs and deliberately built its first wind farm in sight of its capital, Pamplona, so people would quickly get used to the industry. In contrast, the public relations performance of the Australian industry has been patchy. Tasmania has run strong community programs promoting wind but the Victorian industry has made things hard for itself with some unattractive early project applications. European industry analysts warn that Howard's late conversion to wind is now likely to unleash attacks from two sources.

"You will find that resistance and criticism will come from two groups," says Isabelle Valentiny, communications director of the European Wind Energy Association in Brussels. "There will be the people who don't like the effect on the landscape and think turbines are ugly, and there will be very serious, well-resourced campaigns run by competing power industries like coal and nuclear power." The first type of resistance has already been voiced by Tourism Minister Fran Bailey, who said this week that turbines were an ugly and loud "blot on the landscape".

Bailey said she believed that "wind technology as an alternate technology is far more suited to the northern hemisphere than the southern hemisphere", a view that is dismissed out of hand by European wind energy officials. "Australia has many of the absolutely best wind turbine sites in the world," said Stefan Gsaenger, secretary general of the World Wind Energy Association. "Tasmania has almost the perfect combination of wind and hydro power which work together very well and your other states have excellent conditions as well." The second type of resistance, driven by support for competing power industries, received an early airing this week when Melbourne-based business columnist Terry McCrann, in a report in the Herald Sun, quoted extensively from an annual report by Germany's largest power grid operator, E.On Netz.

Arguing against government promotion of the wind industry in Australia, McCrann noted that the wind turbines feeding into the German company's grid only produced an 18 per cent capacity factor the proportion of the electricity that they would have if they had operated at full capacity for the whole year. However, Gsaenger says: "The capacity factor on E.On Netz's grid is unusually low because many of those turbines are not located in particularly good areas and the company does its best to make it hard for turbine owners to connect to its grid." In any case, the relevant capacity figure for Australia is about twice the 18 per cent quoted by McCrann.

The Howard Government said in May last year that the average capacity factor in Australian conditions was 30-35 per cent, although industry spokesman Peter Rae says it is closer to 40 per cent. In the US, the average is 31 per cent for the whole industry or 33 per cent for newer turbines. Denmark claims an average of 30 per cent for its land-based turbines and 45 per cent for the large turbines that stand at sea a few kilometres off its coast.

Oil-fired plants typically have capacity factors of about 30 per cent, while coal plants operate at 70 per cent and nuclear plants 90 per cent. "But even at 18 per cent, the capacity factor is not that important in terms of economic viability or the stability of the grid," Gsaenger says. "You can just build more capacity to get the output you need. And you certainly don't have to have excess coal plants standing by in case the wind fails that is ridiculous. It is all about integrating the wind output into an overall system which combines other sources like hydro and gas, which can be quite flexible." The German Government now predicts that, by 2015 at the latest, wind energy will be cheaper on the power exchange than conventionally produced electricity.

The industry is investing heavily to try to develop ways to store power produced at peak periods. The possibilities include batteries, compressing air into underground storage areas to be released later, using electrolysis to make hydrogen, or pumping water back uphill into hydro systems. "Until then (when power can be efficiently stored) one of the most important things is to be connected to the power grids of other countries, so power can be imported when you need it and exported when you have an excess," said Dalegaard of the Danish Wind Association. "Having a large grid is important because the wind will always be blowing somewhere." All of Australia's grids are connected except for those of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, leaving the industry confident that fluctuations caused by wind variations can easily be smoothed out. "We have proven here in Denmark that you can integrate a large amount of wind energy into an electricity system, especially if you have a large grid," said Dalegaard. "You have to manage your grid system properly but we now know that it is possible."

India seizes the power of wind energy

Adelaide Advertiser
29/09/2007 Page: 70

THE wind farm is visible from kilometres away, a forest of looming turbines churning in the afternoon breeze, rising incongruously above fields of barley, corn and sunflowers. "This is the only future for the long-term," says Tulsi Tanti, 49, a one-time yarn manufacturer who turned a small wind energy sideline into the sprawling corporation Suzlon, and turned himself into a billionaire in the process.

If wind energy has a reputation of being on the fringes - an expensive technology that has more to do with environmentalist dreams than electricity production - India is also proving it to be a viable energy source, even in the developing world. India has the fourth-highest installed capacity for wind energy in the world, behind Germany, Spain and the U.S., according to the Global Wind Energy Council.

Wind, like solar and other renewable energy sources, still faces major hurdles. In India, it costs a wind farm about 8c to produce a kilowatt-hour of electricity - about 50 per cent more than coal, according to the New Delhi-based Energy and Resources Institute. As in most countries, wind energy is supported by tax breaks and subsidies that make it competitive.

Even Mr Tanti says wind isn't going to replace coal - which supplies about 65 per cent of India's electricity - anytime soon. But the cost of wind has dropped dramatically in the past decade, in some cases by more than half, and is expected to drop further as the technology advances. And coal could become more expensive if global warming forces countries to adopt costly methods to reduce the pollution it generates. About 2 per cent of India's power comes from wind but, as costs drop, that could reach 12 per cent, experts say.

Mahesh Vipradas, from the Energy and Resources Institute said: "It's a serious energy source, as far as India is concerned." One thing is certain: India needs more energy. With 1.1 billion people and an economy growing at close to 9 per cent per year, the country is fast becoming one of the world's largest energy consumers.

Experts estimate the country has 10-12 per cent less power than it needs. Blackouts are common, even in the largest cities, and hot nights can find millions of people sleeping outside because their fans and air conditioning won't go on. The Indian Government has pushed the wind business with tax breaks on windmills, which can cost upwards of $1.35 million each, and mandates that states get a percentage of their electricity from renewable sources.

THE climate change phenomenon is on the crest of a wave.

Courier Mail
29/09/2007 Page: 58

This week there have been several international gatherings to discuss the crisis, including forums hosted by former US president Bill Clinton and that office's incumbent, George W. Bush. In Australia, Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said climate change was a national security issue. But while politicians are acknowledging the need for renewable energy sources, what are they doing about it? And will the political willingness to embrace renewable energy be dumped if it all gets too hard? This week, a Queensland businessman revealed that State Government indecision about renewable electricity targets has put a wind farm project with the potential to power a city the size of Cairns on hold indefinitely.

Lloyd Stumer, head of Wind Power Queensland Pty Ltd, said he was frustrated by bureaucratic confusion about the difference between renewable electricity generation targets and renewable energy targets. Renewable energy includes non-electricity components such as solar hot water that does not contribute to the power grid. In its 2050 strategy, the State Government committed to a renewable, low emission energy target of 6 per cent by 2015 and 10 per cent by 2020.

A spokesman for Mines and Energy Minister Geoff Wilson said renewable energy and renewable electricity generation targets were the same thing, but Stumer said the difference - perceived or real - had become a sticking point with department officers. He said Ministers he had talked to, mainly Wilson, would support the project but departmental semantics was causing the delay. The State Government has set aside a 2300 ha site at Archer Point, south of Cooktown, for the wind farm but Stumer says financiers were reluctant to sign up until a specific renewable electricity target had been set.

"No one will build anything until that target is in place - there'll be no wind farm until there is a renewable electricity generation target," he said. "We can't turn a sod unless we know by (which) particular year they want us to start generating." The $250 million project had been slated to start next year but Mines and Energy Department delays mean it could be 2010, if not beyond, before it gets the green light. The farm could take up to a year to build but had the potential to produce the 120 megawatts of green power necessary to power Cairns within six months.

Stumer also criticised federal Tourism Minister Fran Bailey, who this week said wind energy was not suitable for Australia. She also said that in her view wind technology as an alternative technology was far more suited to the northern hemisphere than the southern. Sturner, who worked as a meteorologist for some 15 years, dismissed her claims as "absolute nonsense". "She says wind (power) is more suited to the northern hemisphere than the southern hemisphere, which is a very strange statement to make," he said. "Meteorologically speaking. there is no reason to make that comment... it's just a weird statement and unsubstantiated." A 10 per cent renewable energy target for Australia by 2010 would cost consumers about $3 a month extra on their electricity bills.

Queensland currently has two commercial-scale wind projects - one on Thursday Island off the tip of Cape York Peninsula and another at Windy Hill on the Atherton Tableland. The noise generated by 60 wind turbines, the number needed to provide the 120 megawatts to power Cairns, could also be a hurdle. Stumer said he would be complying with a boundary standard that would put 4km between a turbine and his nearest neighbours. Then there is the issue of visual pollution: Are wind farms ugly? Some say yes. Others disagree. Nationally, wind has been recognised as a viable contributor to renewable energy. In 1996 there were about 20 wind turbines in Australia. Now there are about 250.

In another attempt at catch-up, the State Government this week announced the establishment of a Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre to be based at the University of Queensland. Although no date was given in press releases from the Government or the University of Queensland. and relevant press secretaries were sent scurrying when the question of timing was raised, there was some re-assurance that it might be operating by the beginning of next year. Again, though, it's more a case of Queensland playing catch-up instead of leading the way.

As much as the centre has been touted as having the potential to be an Australian leader, the reality is that much of the research about generating electricity from hot rocks has already been done by a commercial organisation based in Brisbane - Geodynamics - which also has links to the University of Queensland through a partnership deal. Despite calling Queensland home, Geodynamics is doing the bulk of its trials in the Cooper Basin in northeast South Australia near the Queensland border, where a large mass of hot rock several kilometres under the ground merges with the same geothermal province in southwest Queensland.

The company was granted a licence to explore in South Australia in 2001, and the first holes were drilled in 2003. Last year, Geodynamics successfully bid for two geothermal exploration blocks in western Queensland - Tennaperra, about 60km southwest of Jackson on the Warrego Highway, and Nappa Merrie. north of Roma. The company's executive director and one of its founders, Dr Doone Wyborn, said they were now waiting for the licences from the Department of Natural Resources. Mines and Water (since split into Mines and Energy, and Natural Resources and Water).

Wyborn said that although final conditions were still to be negotiated, he was confident holes would be drilled in Queensland early next year. It has taken more than five years for the Government to get to this point, and its been a lot longer than that since the energy possibilities of hot rocks was recognised. Again, Queensland's potential has gone untapped because mining rights made it too much of a red-tape headache for the company. South Australia, on the other hand, was a little more obliging. These two developments at home come on the back of what has been a big week for climate change globally.

In the US. former president Bill Clinton lent his name to a New York gathering, the Clinton Global Initiative, where luminaries such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie gave their Hollywood powered support to the need to address global warming. The Clinton call to arms coincided with a United Nations forum on climate change, and yesterday 16 of the world's greatest greenhouse gas emitters, including Australia, met Bush at the White House.

Closer to home. AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty warned that climate change was the biggest threat to Australia's national security, a point not fully endorsed by Defence Minister Brendan Nelson. who said that terrorism and Islamic extremism were the major threats. Regardless, the climate-change tsunami is heading our way.

SA builder with clear direction

Adelaide Advertiser
29/09/2007 Page: 30

Built Environs, a construction company at the forefront of the mining and resources boom, is forging new pathways for its workforce, particularly in the fields of civil and mechanical engineering. South Australian-owned, Built Environs is a multi-disciplinary company, offering expertise across engineering, building, and specialised interior works.

From large-scale mining installations and major engineering ventures, Built Environs has set itself apart through its range of capabilities. "Engineers with Built Environs know the thrill of being part of a company that is often involved in pivotal, cutting-edge projects and developments across SA and interstate," says chief executive Bill Gill. "Since its inception in 1987, Built Environs has steadily built a portfolio of work that reads like a 'what's what' of SA infrastructure, design and lifeblood." Projects have ranged from complex industrial processes, roads, bridges and civil structures, to major high and low-rise buildings.

From the Hindmarsh Island Bridge to the Southern Expressway, Outer Harbour grain wharf, and redevelopments of the State Library and Adelaide Oval, Built Environs has been at the forefront of many state projects. The company's recent portfolio has included the BHP Billiton base at Olympic Dam and BHP Billiton Ravensthorpe Nickel in Western Australia. Windfarms is an arena Built Environs has become involved in, constructing windfarms at Hallett, Wattle Point and Snowtown.

In a coup for the company, Built Environs is the partner in a joint venture which has been awarded the $220 million maritime defence project known as the Common User Facility at Osborne - which will see Adelaide become home to a world-class shipbuilding hub supporting the Federal Government's $6 billion Air Warfare Destroyer program.

Built Environs is also behind the innovative, the interesting and the unique - Adelaide Zoo's South-East Asian rainforest orangutan and tiger enclosure, the University of SA's City West Campus Hawke Building, and the Botanic Gardens' Amazon waterlily pavilion. "We are a company with the benefit of clear direction and focus - which goes hand in hand with our reliable and progressive systems and excellent management team," Mr Gill says.