Friday 23 November 2007

Climate Crunch

Yarram Standard News
Wednesday 14/11/2007 Page: 1

Toora farmer Bruce Beatson put climate change on the election agenda, delivering his message to some 50,000 people during the Walk Against Warming on Sunday. Mr Beatson, a farmer for more than 40 years and more recently an Al Gore trained climate change ambassador joined a celebrity line-up of speakers at the climate change protest rally and gave his message loud and clear.

With only nine days till the election, Mr Beatson is turning up the heat on the climate change issue and is putting the focus on climate change. "I can't help but be political. I want our politicians to stop telling us it will be all right and just vote for them. It's not going to be all right. It's going to be painful and difficult," Mr Beatson said. "People need to understand this.

I can't forgive politicians who have hoodwinked us when the logical conclusions are so obvious," he said. People turned out in their thousands across the nation for the walks to protest the government's inaction on climate change. Mr Beatson said the whole rally was just "awesome." "I drove up to Melbourne Sunday morning with my youngest daughter Hayley, 14, and at that time there were about 200 to 300 people around the stage area, erected in Swanston Street," Mr Beatson said. "We wet off and grabbed some lunch and hen we got back half an hour later there were thousands of people. It was just chock-a-block and a sea of people as far as the eye could see," he said.

Mr Beatson said he was a little nervous before he addressed the crowd. "Tim Costello (World Vision Chief Executive) spoke ahead of me and talked about the moral issues involved in climate change while I talked about where I came from and why I saw the environment as so important," he said. Triple M radio announcer Brigitte Duclos was another of the guest speakers on Sunday.

Mr Beatson told the huge crowd gathered for the rally " I started to get uneasy about the environment 20 years ago - it was dozens of little things, nothing specific. "You have children and your life just changes. I don't reckon I planted a tree on the farm up until then and since that time I have planted thousands and I know every one of those trees is important," he said.

Mr Beatson said he sees all biodiversity as critically important to the future. In 1966 Mr Beatson's family left Melbourne to start dairy farming in Gippsland. "I've been there ever since and now run cattle and alpaca on the farm," he said. "For most of my life I had a casual disregard for environmentalists and the environment. I was a rusted on Liberal/National supporter, handing out how-to-vote cards at election time. In the last 11 years I saw that issue after issue Australia turned its back on the world in terms of our responsibilities." When looking at how he changed, Mr Beatson said he "saw that it was less about what was good for me and instead what was good for my children and grandchildren." "There was no light bulb moment in terms of climate change. I just kept on watching what was going on on the farm", he said.

"They used to say Gippsland rains for nine months of the year and drips off the trees for the other three months. That it was green in summer and brown in winter because of the mud." Mr Beatson said the evidence for less rainfall is now clear. When you graph the rainfall figures at Foster Post Office and compare them to the CSIRO figures, they're exactly what the scientists predicted. There's been a fall off in annual rainfall of one inch every decade on average," he said.

If a surgeon sat John Howard down and said you've got a terminal illness and we can do something about it but it's going to cause pain and discomfort and you'll have to work hard at fighting it, John Howard would say yes, do something. "Just because it's the planet that has a terminal illness and it's going to take action and pain and discomfort, John Howard has not just wanted a second opinion, or a third, but he's looked for the scientist who says `no, everything is going to be all right.' "Would you do that with your own health or the health of your children? No.

Then why would you do it for the planet? "I'm 56 and probably home free. But I've got three children. Climate change is about our children and grandchildren. "On this Remembrance Day, a day when we think of our valiant forefathers who fought and died for a better world, let us walk with a new conviction, one that says we will convince all those that are not here today, that Australia must change direction for the benefit of future generations."

Monday saw Mr Beatson back on the job for Tumbull Toyota, Yarram, heading off for the launch of the new Landcruiser, and when asked where to from here he said as part of his job selling cars he is trying to push sales of the environmentally friendly Toyota Prius. "People want to drive cars so I am trying to promote a better, cleaner way of motoring," he said.

Back home on his Toora farm Mr Beatson said the country looks magnificent. "Spring is here and it seems our area is not too affected by climate change," he said. "We are lucky to be farming in one of the best regions in Australia, but that won't last if climate changes are not made." He said politicians have to judge what is important and make the big decisions for what is right not just for vote buying. "Sometimes it seems people would just like to ignore the climate change issue, but we just do not have a choice," he said.

"Sunday's walk was all about clearly letting governments know they have to start playing a leading role and leading the way." Mr Beatson said just as Winston Churchill told the people in 1937, two years before the outbreak of World War II that "we have done the talk and are now approaching the time of consequences."

Neither the Coalition nor the ALP has set a short term target to reduce emissions. "Until emissions targets are set, emissions will keep on increasing and we will be on a pathway to nothing," he said. Leading up to the Walk Against Warming, organisers Environment Victoria and Greenpeace issued the challenge to both major parties to address the crowd - a prime opportunity for an election-winning announcement - if they commit to a legislated target to make cuts of at least 30 per cent to Australia's greenhouse pollution by 2020.

Environment Victoria's Tricia Phelan said: "Irrespective of whether we get a Rudd Labor Government or a Howard Coalition Government on November 24, it's guaranteed our greenhouse pollution will continue to rise. This is simply not good enough, so we're inviting the leaders t speak at the Melbourne Walk - but only if they announce a commitment to cut Australia's emissions by at least 30 per cent by 2020," said the Climate Change Campain director.

"People understand climate change is too urgent and too big for solutions to be driven purely from the left or right of politics." With more than 50 walks held across Australia, Walk Against Warming is expected to be one of the world's biggest community protests on climate change, building on last year's national tally of 100,000.

The Melbourne walk began at the State Library, Swanston Street and attracted approximately 20,000 more people than last year's tally of 30,000. Greenpeace Energy campaigner Mark Wakeham said the party that wins Government on November 24 must act for the good of Australia and the planet. "It is clear Australia's political leaders are out of step with voters on this issue.

While the hot air and rhetoric on the issue have increased, so far the policies that would reduce greenhouse pollution are yet to materialise. To reduce our greenhouse pollution by at least 30 per cent we need to ensure all new energy production comes from renewable energy and not polluting coal.

Community survey on wind farm

Hepburn Shire Advocate
Wednesday 21/11/2007 Page: 5

HEPBURN Wind is on the verge of releasing an online survey to help it gauge community interest in the Leonard's Hill project. Results from the survey will be used to tailor the capital raising process to the community's needs. Hepburn Community Wind Park Cooperative chairman Simon Holmes a Court said the the survey was exciting.

"The fundraising process is well underway and we're very keen to understand how the community feels about the project so we can tailor it to the community's needs," Mr Holmes a Court said. "As well as providing an insight into the community's thoughts on the project, the survey marks a milestone in the progress of the project." Board member Per Bernard said the project had been years in the making, and was now starting to come together.

"With this survey we will be designing the fundraising process, which is what will make this dream a reality," Mr Bernard said. "We're looking forward to getting these results to confirm that this is truly going to be Australia's first community-owned wind farm." Mr Holmes a Court said the survey had five questions and offered respondents an opportunity to indicate whether they would invest in a project such as the Hepburn Community Wind Park.

To access the survey follow the links on the Hepburn Renewable Energy Association website at

Windfall in the offing

Sydney Morning Herald
Friday 23/11/2007 Page: 4

THE State Government has shortlisted six wind energy groups to supply power for the controversial Kurnell desalination plant, with most bidders flagging they would build their plant outside NSW. The initial 13 proposals have been reduced to six, with only two intending to establish in NSW: Epuron Pty Ltd, which is studying a proposal to build a wind farm near Broken Hill, and Renewable Power Ventures, which includes Babcock and Brown and National Power and is planning a wind farm at Bungendore, near Canberra. The other bidders are Origin Energy, International Power, Roaring 40s (a joint venture between Tasmania Hydro and the Hong Kong power utility China Light and Power), and Pacific Hydro.

All are touting wind farms either already operating or to be built elsewhere around the country. Unlike other states, NSW has refused to limit local electricity retailers to sourcing their renewable energy needs from projects operating in NSW. The Minister for Water Utilities, Nathan Rees, said the winning bidder for the desalination plant was expected to be finalised by March. The desalination plant will use about 400,000 megawatt hours of electricity a year to produce 250 million litres of fresh water. The proposal would involve as many as 75 wind turbines.

China's great leap backwards

Australian Financial Review
Friday 23/11/2007 Page: 9

China is facing a rapidly worsening environmental situation that threatens its economy, public health and international image. A senior Chinese government figure said in 2005 that the country's economic miracle 'will end soon because the environment can no longer keep pace.' Attempting to spruce up China's deteriorating environmental reputation in the lead up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, its leaders have been getting increasingly vocal about environmental targets and investments, and overseas investors are already evincing interest.

Part of China's problem is that it has a huge - and increasing - consumption of resources, mainly because of inefficiencies. According to a report in Der Spiegel last year, a Chinese official admitted: 'To produce goods worth $US10,000 we need seven times the resources used by Japan, almost six times the resources used by the US and - a particular source of embarrassment - almost three times the resources used by India.' Besides a rising demand for resources such as coal, the World Wildlife Fund estimates that China's demand for timber, pulp and paper will grow by 33 percent between 2005 and 2010.

Potential for new jobs

Bendigo Weekly
Friday 16/11/2007 Page: 11

AN expert in economic and social sustainability from the University of New South Wales told a meeting in Bendigo this week renewable energy has "huge" potential to create jobs in central Victoria. Addressing members of the Central Greenhouse Alliance Dr Mark Diesendorf said a combination of wind, bio-electricity, solar and geothermal power, plus energy efficiency measures, could supply 100 per cent of central Victoria's energy needs by 2050.

He said that would bring jobs with it, rejecting the view that any contraction of the coal industry would lead to higher unemployment. "There are more jobs in clean energy because they are smaller scale," he said. "We can manufacture most of the components in Australia, even wind turbine blades. Studies by my university colleagues, based on real data, have shown that there are between two and five more jobs in renewable energy for every one in coal, depending on the Australian content, with most of these jobs in rural areas where they are needed." Dr Diesendorf said each of the renewables would be an employment boon for the region.

"wind energy has huge potential, if you have a number of farms geographically dispersed it is very reliable, and it can be up and running while you are still planning a coal-fired power station," he said. "solar thermal generation is looking very exciting, will be commercially available before clean coal and nuclear, and is much cheaper than coal fired power and provides 24-hour base load power. "geothermal power from hot rocks is very promising and it's a dosed system, where you don't lose all that water that coal fired power stations lose.

"Biomass such as wheat stubble and plantation forest residues could generate large amounts of energy without any additional land taken. We are looking at lots of small power stations dotted around the country where the fuel is free." The meeting heard that science showed global warming was accelerating, energy demand was rising, global oil supplies were peaking and that both oil and electricity prices were going to go much higher. "An ever-increasing demand for energy is impossible in the long term and something has to give," Dr Diesendorf said. "Sustainable energy is the answer, and we could halve our current energy usage without reducing our standard of living.

"It's technically possible, and not that expensive if we combine renewable technology with energy efficiency design and standards for all residential, commercial and industrial buildings, equipment and appliances." Dr Diesendorf said the barriers to change were political, not economic or technical and that strong state and federal government policies were needed immediately to reach key targets of 30 per cent of 1990 emissions by 2020, and 80 per cent by 2050.

"Local action is important, and local governments can lead the state in some areas - for example local transport planning can have a very big impact," he said. "I am delighted to see the CVGA wants to act in the central Victorian region. "But strong state and federal government policies and actions are also needed right now. A strong community movement will help drive these actions."

New Nissan wind assisted

Gold Coast Bulletin
Wednesday 21/11/2007 Page: 2

NISSAN'S new compact crossover will land in Australia in the new year on the back of boosted green credentials that cuts the company's carbon footprint and adds to production efficiencies. The Dualis is being sourced from Nissan Motor Co's Sunderland plant in the UK where six wind energy turbines produce 5 per cent of the factory's total power needs. Another two turbines are being added to the on-site wind farm in Jamiaiy and take the power contribution up to 6 per cent. This will deliver a cost saving of nearly $2.5 million a year and offset rising energy costs.

In addition, carbon dioxide emissions will be cut by up to 4000 tonnes a year at power plants which supply the Sunderland factory with power. Nissan Motor Co's established the wind-farm technology on the site two years ago. "The wind farm reflects our ongoing commitment to environmental management and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from our operation," Nissan's David Swerdlow said. "Being able to source the new model from a plant partly powered by green energy reflects Nissan's ecological mindset, which is supported by all its employees." The Sunderland plant's wind farm is the first of its kind within Nissan globally and its expansion supports the company's global Nissan Green Program 2010.

Planning for the expansion of the wind farm, located within an industrial area just 5km from the coast, took into account the needs of local residents and ensured the farm met noise-level guidelines. Unlike most wind farms, Nissan's is enclosed entirely within an industrial area on low-lying ground thus minimising the impact on the local environment. The site is also home to a protected species - Great Crested Newts.

Nissan will relocate the newts to a temporary home on the site before installation. Once the extra two turbines are in place, the newts will be able to return to their habitat around the turbines. The wind farm's expansion supports the Nissan GreenProgram 2010, which focuses on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from Nissan's products and activities around the world; reducing other exhaust emissions; and accelerating recycling efforts.

Energy goes green

South Coast Register
Monday 12/11/2007 Page: 7

THE green energy program put together by ActewAGL, Greenchoice, has been rated number one for the best green energy program in Australia for both small to medium and large businesses. The results were based on its ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support growth in new renewable energy sources in Australia, according to Green Electricity Watch.

Green Electricity Watch, a group consisting of three leading Australian environment organisations: the Australian Conservation Foundation, Total Environment Centre and WWF-Australia, annually ranks GreenPower electricity products to help businesses in choosing the best green energy program.

In the small to medium business and large business categories, the Greenchoice 200 per cent and 100 per cent plans came in equal first, with the Greenchoice 50 per cent and 25 per cent plans achieving equal second. These percentage-based Greenchoice plans refer to the percentage of energy the customer will offset with green energy.

"I am absolutely thrilled with these results - this is a fantastic achievement for Greenchoice," said ActewAGL Retail General Manager, Ivan Slavich. "These results will give our business customers the peace of mind that they are truly reducing their carbon footprint by purchasing Greenchoice." Only electricity products independently assessed and fully endorsed by GreenPower, the government's national green power accreditation program, can participate in the survey.

ActewAGL purchases 100 per cent "new" renewable energy, which is defined as green energy sourced from generators built after January 1, 1997. This benefits the environment now, and also into the future, by encouraging a greater demand for more new renewable energy projects to be established. Greenchoice invests in energy sources that can't be depleted, such as wind energy, solar, mini-hydro and biomass.

Blades find a home

Portland Observer
Wednesday 14/11/2007 Page: 5

HEAVY haulage firm Rex Andrews Pty Ltd has secured a planning permit for a depot on land fronting the Portland-Nelson Rd on the outskirts of Portland. The firm plans to use the land for storing imported wind farm blades, initially for Pacific Hydro's Portland wind energy Project at Cape Bridgewater. Managing director Rex Andrews said late last week he was pleased the permit had been approved. Early last month he had said if a permit was not issued, the blades may have to be offloaded and stored in New South Wales.

Climate crisis responses help inform electorate

Hobart Mercury
Tuesday 20/11/2007 Page: 25

THIS 2007 federal election is truly historic. Never - not even in wartime - have we had an issue that demands such universal, immediate and sustained attention as global warming. On Saturday we must choose parties and candidates who understand this crisis, know what needs doing and are ready to act immediately. A few years ago scientists thought that getting greenhouse pollution 60 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050 would halt rising temperatures, but they now say we need a binding 2050 reduction target of at least 80 per cent and probably 90 per cent.

Using some rubbery land clearing data, our Government claims we're meeting our modest Kyoto emission targets - but we're actually going backWards, fast. Australia's 2005 emissions from electricity generation and transport were more than 42 per cent above 1990 levels. So how do the parties respond to the scientific advice? Neither the Greens nor the Australian Democrats can form a government, but they can influence what happens in the Senate.

Both make a big issue of climate change. The Greens have a 2050 target to reduce emissions by 80 per cent below the 1990 level (together with a short-term 30 per cent target for 2020): the Democrats' target is 60-90 per cent. Both emphasise energy efficiency, boosting renewable energy and ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. Neither party supports "clean coal" technology. The Greens want no more coal-fired power stations: the Democrats want coalmining countries to tax exports.

Labor will set a 60 per cent emissions reduction target for 2050, and has a 20 per cent renewable energy target for 2020 involving support for solar, wind and geothermal energy. It will immediately ratify the Kyoto Protocol, and will begin a carbon trading scheme (putting a price on carbon emissions) by 2010. It offers incentives to improve water and energy efficiencies including solar power and hot water rebates. Other policies include a clean energy export strategy, a green car push and support for clean coal technology.

The Coalition believes radical climate action may damage future prosperity. It won't ratify Kyoto, opting instead for a technology based agreement with "aspirational" targets. It won't set an emission target till after the election: it will be "flexible" to take account of future developments. It plans a carbon trading scheme by 2011. Present rebates for solar electricity and water heating will be continued alongside development of clean coal technology. The National Water Initiative aims to tackle chronic water supply issues in the Murray-Darling basin by taking over management from the states.

As electors we can help determine how the climate challenge, the toughest political assignment in history, plays out. Thinking before voting has never been more important.

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.

Thursday 22 November 2007

Warming puts heat on political leaders

Tuesday 20/11/2007 Page: 12

There is a false sense that the short-term costs of climate change will be small, writes Barrie Pittock.

A HOST of recent observations indicate that climate change is happening now, faster than expected by most scientists, and indeed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since its fourth assessment report was finalised this year.

Greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and sea level rise are all running at the very top of the range of uncertainty in IPCC estimates. Most spectacularly, Arctic sea ice reached a record low area in September some 1 million square kilometres less than the previous record. This is an area the size of NSW and Victoria combined, with less ice to reflect sunlight back into space, so more is being absorbed on Earth, leading to greater warming. These observation are not theory, but fact.

The IPCC estimates were low, largely due to a tendency to focus on the middle or "most likely" estimates of possibilities rather than on the more extreme possibilities that would have far worse effects. Moreover, the rapid economic growth in China and India has increased greenhouse gas emissions faster than most economists thought possible.

As a result we are suffering from a lack of a necessary sense of urgency regarding the needed reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Long-term solutions such as carbon capture and sequestration or nuclear energy are being promoted, to deal with a short term problem. By the time we implement such long-term "solutions", it will be too late. We will be committed to large sea-level rises that will cause great economic and social damage, and our water supplies will have gone from bad to worse, with huge impacts on food prices, rural populations and city water supplies.

Given this disconnect between the reality and political perceptions, I see several key obstacles and pointers to solving the problem of climate change: Obstacles include:
  1. Gross underestimates of the cost of no action. There is a false sense that the short-term costs of climate change and sea-level rise will be small. They are not. We are not merely in a "drought" but in the start of a drying trend that will get worse. Farmers are going broke, getting depressed and leaving the land. Failing appropriate action, food will get dearer and the countryside will be depopulated. Coastal areas are extremely vulnerable to quite small rises in sea level, and there are many examples of this. Coastal development in many areas is about to stop because of lack of insurance, falling property values and the need to retreat from the shoreline as it moves inland. Coastal and estuarine flooding and erosion are still too often seen as temporary, isolated storm events, not part of an accelerating trend. By 2100, sea-level rise could be as much as several metres (that is, an average of several centimetres each year), and shoreline retreat 100 times that.
  2. A lack of a sense of urgency. Most people now concede that climate change is a real issue, but still think we have decades to do something about it. They see those urging immediate drastic action as alarmist. There may well have been good reasons for the earlier scientific reluctance to emphasise the top of the range of uncertainty, but now that the evidence for rapid change is in, we need to take the risk management view and focus on what must be avoided, even at some cost. Policy must provide us with risk minimisation and insurance.
  3. There are major financial disincentives to individual action. Existing urban structures and widespread subsidies for energy-intensive industries are major obstacles to individuals doing the right thing. We need to level the playing field by providing tax incentives, start-up subsidies, and a price on carbon pollution. The polluter-pays principle must be applied to climate change, not in 2012 or even 2009, but now.

The awful reality is that to stabilise climate we need global emissions reductions of at least 60-80% by 2050, that is an average of 2-3% a year, starting now. Yet global and Australian emissions are in fact increasing at about 2-3% a year, and have been accelerating over the past decade.

Pointers to sensible action are:
  1. Urgent action. This means going first with already proven and feasible technology that can be installed in years, not decades. That does not apply in Australia to carbon capture and sequestration nor to nuclear energy, which are decades away on any large scale. Sure, argue about them for the distant future, but let's get on with large-scale renewables that we know can work now. Major and immediate expenditure initiatives are needed for renewable energy and energy efficiency, measured not in millions but billions of dollars. Both major parties evidently see this sort of expenditure as reasonable for tax cuts and road building, so why not for renewable energy?
  2. Renewable base-load power is realistic. The lie, repeated ad nauseam by certain politicians and their advisers, that renewables cannot provide base-load power must be dismissed. This can be demonstrated by building large baseload renewable power stations. Solar thermal with hot rock, molten salt or other energy storage systems is not only possible but proven in California and elsewhere. These could be on-line in five years, and backed up by wind farms, geothermal and tidal power stations.
  3. The not-in-my-backyard syndrome must be broken. The best way is probably to build major renewable power stations in remote areas where there are no "NIMBY" people but rather communities wanting development and jobs. It is ideal for many rural communities faced with water shortages that threaten their livelihoods. And it is perfectly possible and economic thanks to high-voltage direct-current cables that are economic over thousands of kilometres, with only small losses (10 or 15%). Basslink is the prime Australian example. You don't need a weatherman. See TREC at, for a major European version. Self-styled "coastal guardians" who oppose wind farms need to realise that the coastal environment they claim to value will be destroyed if we do not stop rapid sea-level rise and climate change.
  4. World agreement is necessary, but it starts with us, now. Developed countries have contributed most to climate change, but developing countries are rapidly catching up. Both will suffer the impacts of sea-level rise and climatic disasters such as floods and droughts. It is up to the rich countries that built their prosperity on burning fossil fuelss to lead the way by committing to urgent action.
It is time our politicians, backed by business and community groups, took serious action. For starters I suggest a price be put on greenhouse gas pollution within the next year or two, and that state and federal governments commit to an investment in major renewable energy installations at the rate of, say, a billion dollars a year per state, for the next five years. Then we may begin to see real results. Which of our politicians will make such commitments?

Dr Barrie Pittock is author of Climate Change: Turning Up the Heat, and former leader, CSIRO climate impact group.

Climate alliance calls for action
November 21, 2007

AN alliance of community, environmental and business groups has urged political leaders to tackle climate change urgently and effectively. The climate alliance of 15 groups, representing most sectors of society, aims to protect Australians from the potential catastrophes of climate change. The newly formed group ran prominent advertisements in newspapers across the country today, in a bid to generate support for action over the growing environmental problem.

The group wants Australia to become a world leader in clean and renewable energy. In a joint statement, the alliance said Australian scientists warned that urgent action was needed to avoid dangerous climate change. As an enterprising nation, Australians could create exciting new business opportunities and jobs by turning the threat into opportunity, the alliance said.

Australian Conservation Society executive director Don Henry said the unprecedented alliance represented millions of Australians. Mr Henry said "terrifying" UN climate change reports had triggered action to strengthen the voice for Australia's future. "Climate change is the moral issue of our times and it demands action now," Mr Henry said. "There is no more important issue for the future of our kids - it's goingto affect their health and our environment.

World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello said Asian and African communities had been "kicked in the guts" from a dramatic increase in natural disasters, particularly in South-East Asia, as a result of global warming.

Mr Costello said it was time Australia's experts and politicians became world leaders in climate change, rather than the country being "a follower and observer." "Global warming is the greatest example of market failure," Mr Costello said. "We need global leadership and we need Australians, that have have been leaders in so many areas. .. to take the lead - we have been playing way behind."

The alliance's signatories are AgForce, AngliCORD, the Australian Conservation Foundation, ACOSS, the CFMEU Mining Division, CHOICE, The Climate Institute Australia, Bishop George Browning, Doctors for the Environment Australia, Investa, the Property Council of Australia, Szencorp, the Uniting Church in Australia, Westpac and World Vision Australia.

Pinpointing the hot spots

Ballarat Courier
Saturday 17/11/2007 Page: 15

MOVING on from the risk of global warming, scientists are now looking for ways to pinpoint the areas set to be affected by climate change, to help countries plan everything from new crops to hydropower dams. Billion-dollar investments, ranging from irrigation and flood defences to the site of wind farms or ski resorts, could hinge on assessments about how much drier, wetter, windier or warmer a particular area will become. But scientists warn precision may never be possible. Climate is so chaotic and the variables so difficult to compute that even the best model will be far from perfect.

"We need to give indications which are at the scale countries can use to make decisions," said Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Organisation which oversees the US climate panel. We need to come to a scale which is smaller than countries like Spain or France or the UK. You really need to cone to smaller scales - 100km, 200km. We are not yet there. The UN climate panel was meeting in Valencia, Spain, this week to issue a final report summing up more than 3000 pages of findings this year that blamed humans for climate change and outlined solutions.

Farmers from Australia to Africa would like to know which areas are threatened by desertification. Ski operators from the Alps to the Rocky Mountains wonder how high the snow line will be before investing in new hotels or ski lifts. But forecasts may never be precise enough to estimate which of two neighbouring valleys in the Andes, for instance, might get wetter and be better suited to a hydroelectric dam. The impact of global warming depends largely on how many people keep burning fossil fuelss, a main source of greenhouse gases, or develop cleaner energies such as wind or solar power. Planners already know enough to act in many cases. The smallest grids used for climate projections are 50x50km.

London is looking into ways to confront projected regional risks such as more floods from North Sea surges up the Thames, more heatwaves and a drier climate. Painting houses white to protect against heatwaves makes sense, Parry said. Homeowners in areas at greater risk of floods could raise electrical goods such as fridges or washing machines off the ground floor.

Martin Parry, a British scientist who co-chairs the IPCC section devoted to regional impacts of climate change, said some farmers in eastern England were considering selling and moving north to Scotland because they reckoned they could soon grow the same crops on land that costs less now. A rise in sea-levels is already factored in as a threat to all coasts. The IPCC projects that sea-levels will rise by 18-23 cuts this century. It would be pretty unwise to build a nuclear energy station at sea-level." he said.

Kuylenstierna said there may well be stronger evidence by 2013 that climate change is under way, such as melting Arctic ice or a drier Mediterranean region. That would in turn give pointers to future change." But to break that down to information to a level relevant to a city or a hydroelectric dam base is a different question," he said.

"Even so, we can start making a lot of investments today." Glaciers are already melting in mountain ranges from the Andes to the Himalayas, so countries should invest in flood protection along vulnerable rivers and consider new irrigation needs if glaciers, a source of water in dry seasons, vanish. In Florida, the population has soared to about 18 million from below one million in 1920, with ever more people living near the coast. New construction codes should aim to help protect against hurricane damage and rising seas.

Renewable energy the way to go

District Reporter Camden
Friday 9/11/2007 Page: 5

A large gathering at the Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living this week given convincing evidence that the transition to renewable energy would provide, rather than cost jobs in Australia. Dr Mark Diesendorf from the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales explained why a target of 25 per cent energy from renewable sources by 2020 was realistic. He said that job losses in the coal industry could be absorbed by not replacing a small fraction of the workers who retired annually.

"There are around 24,000 jobs in Australia's coal industry, but as 80 per cent of our coal is shipped overseas only 4800 workers are employed directly in coal for use in Australia," Dr Diesendorf said. "These are the employees who would be affected by a domestic renewable energy target. "If renewable energy is increased from its current level of nine per cent to 25 per cent by 2020, the coal industry would lose only 44 jobs a year over 12 years.

"This is a very small number, especially when you consider that there are at least 600 people retiring from the coal industry each year anyway. And this totally ignores the job gains from renewable energy, which would be several times more than the job losses, "wind energy provides four to five times the number of jobs per unit of electricity generated than coal.

"Bio-electricity, which is the generation of electricity from burning crop residues, create three and a half times as many jobs per unit of electricity than coal, and most of these jobs would be located in rural areas where they are needed." Greens candidate for Macarthur, Ben Raue, who chaired the forum, explained that Dr Diesendorfs research made nonsense of repeated claims by the coal industry that The Greens 25 per cent renewable energy target by 2020 would be disastrous in terns of job losses. "Neither 'clean' coal technologies nor nuclear energy presents the necessary short-term solution to our climate change problem," Mr Raue said. "Renewable energy sources are the only realistic options."

BT to make massive wind farm investment
Tuesday, 20 November 2007

BT has unveiled plans to invest £250 million in wind farms that will generate up to 25 percent of its existing UK electricity requirements by 2016.

The project will bring together third party funding and renewable energy partners as part of the company's strategy to reduce carbon emissions. BT is one of Britain's biggest consumers of electricity: its annual requirement is around 0.7 percent of the UK's total consumption. It says the wind farms could generate a total of 250MW of electricity - enough to meet the power needs of 122,000 homes and prevent the release of 500,000 tonnes of CO2 each year compared with coal generation.

BT is currently identifying high wind-yield sites on or adjacent to BT-owned land for development with the aim of generating power from 2012 onwards. It has already applied for planning permission for test masts at Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station in Cornwall, Wideford Hill Radio Station in Orkney and Scousburgh Radio Station in Shetland.

Subject to planning consent and suitable sites being secured, BT's wind farms would have a total installed generating capacity of around 100MW by 2012, equivalent to around fifty wind turbines, with the remaining 150MW targeted by 2016.

Hallett Hill to create 150 jobs

Burra Broadcaster
Wednesday 14/11/2007 Page: 3

With the announcement of the new Hallett Hill Wind Farm, the mid north looks set to primarily benefit from the creation of approximately 150 new jobs during the construction period of the wind farm. Only 20 kilometres from the current wind farm at Brown Hill, construction on the Hallett Hill Wind Farm is expected to commence in January of next year. The 34 turbines will generate 71 megawatts of power, and will provide enough renewable energy to power 40,000 average Australian households.

Spread along the ridge line at Hallett Hill, this second wind farm for the region is expected to have a total development cost of $166 million. Although locals may not necessarily fill the 150 jobs, it is anticipated that the surrounding towns of Hallett will be positively impacted with the influx of workers coming to the area.

Michael Fraser, AGL managing director, said the wind farm is another step in "reinforcing the leadership position that AGL is taking in Australia's renewable energy sector." "AGL has put considerable work into building a renewable generation portfolio that will deliver substantial environmental and financial benefits in a future carbon constrained world," Mr Fraser said.

Local MP for Stuart, Graham Gunn, is enthused about another wind farm being constructed in the area. "It's going to provide employment as well as invest in the district, which is good for all concerned," Mr Gunn said. "In fact, I drove past the area on Sunday to see where the project will commence, and I think it's going to be great. "I'm very pleased they're building it in our area, as it is a good investment for the power industry and for the people of Hallett, Jamestown and Burra, and surrounding towns. "In regard to power, we have to go forwards and can't go backwards. Hallett Hill will enable us to do this." State Premier Mike Rann is another advocate for the new wind farm.

"This is an important step in tackling climate change and global warming," Mr Rann said. "It shows that South Australia continues to lead the nation in wind energy" Hallett Hill is renowned for having one of the best wind resources on mainland Australia, and its proximity to the Brown Hill wind farm is expected to provide significant opportunities for operating efficiency and synergy. "I think as far as wind farms go they won't get much more majestic than the ones we're building up at Hallett," Mr Fraser said.

Wednesday 21 November 2007

Hundreds learn about renewable energy at expo

Bega District News
Tuesday 13/11/2007 Page: 10

HUNDREDS of people visited the 2007 South East NSW Clean Energy Expo at the Bega RSL Club on Friday and Saturday to learn about renewable energy. The founder of Clean Energy for Eternity, the organisation behind the expo, Matthew Nott, said that much of the Eden-Monaro electorate has adopted a 50/50 by 2020 target, and this expo was used to showcase all the technology, people and expertise that will get us there.

A full suite of renewable energy was on show. Luke Osborne talked about the exciting potential of wind energy in the region. Tim Williams, a local dairy farmer talked about the extra income that dairy farmers could make by selling methane generated electricity. Mr Nott said that presentations about geothermal energy and solar thermal technology clearly demonstrated that renewable energy can provide abundant base load power.

Other speakers, apart from the politicians and school students were Mark Canaider on the Bega Valley Shire Council's strategy, Klaus Baumgartel on biofuels and their role in clean energy, Geoffrey Grigg on buying and growing food to reduce greenhouse emissions, Artur Zawadski on commercialising clean energy, Doug Reckord on the Bournda Environmental Education Centre, Gareth Johnson on climate risk and Julia Mayo-Ramsay on Al Gore's climate project

Act now or face global disaster: UN report

Adelaide Advertiser
Monday 19/11/2007 Page: 4

GLOBAL warming is an unavoidable reality and Australia faces water shortages, higher than expected sea level rises and extensive species extinction unless the world's greenhouse gases are severely curtailed. The warning is contained in the United Nation's final Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, prompting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to call on governments to unite.

Australian scientists said the next federal government needed to act urgently to address the dire situation, and urged voters to think of the environment. "Whichever party is elected next Saturday has to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, set strong 2020 targets to reduce emissions, boost renewable energy and dramatically improve the efficiency of turning energy into services," Professor Ian Lowe, president of the Australian Conservation Foundation said.

The fourth IPCC report, released in Spain, details what can and should be done to counter the climate change impacts detailed in its previous reports. It said temperatures had risen 0.74C in the last 100 years, sea levels have increased 1.8mm a year since 1961 and the past decade has been the warmest in recorded history. Without action, global warming will spread hunger and disease, put further stress on water resources, cause fiercer storms, more frequent droughts and kill or threaten up to 70 per cent of plant and animal species.

The report suggested a range of measures for avoiding the worst catastrophes - at a cost of less than 0.12 per cent of the global economy annually until 2050 if taken together. They ranged from switching to nuclear and gas-fired power stations, developing hybrid cars, using more efficient electrical appliances.

Labor leader Kevin Rudd says the Government had buried its heading the sand and had been "economically irresponsible" by failing to outline a future plan to deal with climate change. He said Labor had committed to the Kyoto Protocol, a carbon target and increased renewable energy. Prime Minister John Howard said climate change was a serious challenge, but "the world is not coming to an end tomorrow." "Like all of these things, we have to get a common sense, balanced approach," he said yesterday.

Under the toughest scenario considered by the IPCC, greenhouse gases would have to peak by 2015 to limit global temperature rises to 2-2.4C over pre-industrial times. This would entail cuts of 50-85 per cent in emissions, but there could still be 30 per cent species loss, major coastal flooding, most corals bleached and world-wide water problems, said Professor Barry Brook, director of the Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability at the University of Adelaide.

He said sea level rises would be much worse than the 18-59cm predicted by 2100 because of the difficulty of modelling the unexpectedly rapid degree of melting at the poles. "It is a damning indictment on our collective vacillation, inaction and deliberate stalling to date, in facing up to this problem that we are now facing the stark choice between a bad situation, a catastrophic situation, or a civilisation terminating situation," he said. "There is one bit of good news, if policy makers will just take heed."

Smart money follows environmental pioneers

Australian Financial Review
Monday 19/11/2007 Page: 23

As scientific evidence mounts that the global warming seen in recent years is a long-term trend fuelled by greenhouse gases produced by human activities, it is clear that there are going to be significant concomitant economic consequences. Considering this, companies that are seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or developing environmentally sound solutions will increasingly attract more attention. Firms early off the blocks will be the ones investors would do well to keep their eyes on. Some prominent companies - including ExxonMobil and Leighton Contractors, who were among the sponsors of last week's conference of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia - have recognised the trend, and have already unambiguously committed themselves to change.

There are investment opportunities across a range of business sectors involved in climate change-related activities, including water resources, biotechnology, disaster control, soil improvement, fertilisers and insecticides. Carbon emission-reduction activity is expected to be most intensive in the power, transport, building, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry and waste industries. The author is an investment specialist with DWS Investments, the global retail asset management arm of Deutsche Bank.

Wodonga backs green energy

Border Mail
Friday 16/11/2007 Page: 5

Wodonga is leading the way in renewable energy, making the top 10 of Victorian suburbs signing up for green power. More than 235,700 environment-savvy Victorians were GreenPower customers for the quarter ending June 30 this year - 2682 were Wodonga residents. GreenPower is a national renewable energy accreditation scheme which certifies renewable energy products to ensure they will help decrease greenhouse gases.

Sustainability Victoria business strategy manager Vikas Ahuja said the large number of customers joining the renewable electricity market showed people were conscious of reducing their greenhouse emissions. Country Energy spokeswoman Emma Ginnivan agreed. "More people are taking up the green option because of greater environmental awareness and a desire to take positive individual action against climate change," she said.

"People are looking more and more to their energy providers to actively encourage and invest in a sustainable, renewable energy industry which is why Country Energy looks for long term, sustainable power source alternatives to complement traditional types of energy generation." In Albury, 112 TRUEnergy customers signed up for green power in the past quarter, while Wodonga had a staggering 626 new customers.

Renewable energy packages start at $1 extra a week. GreenPower products are offered to both business and residential customers with more environmentally friendly energy options to suit individual budgets. An average Australian household that has subscribed to 100 per cent accredited Green-Power would save about seven tonnes of greenhouse pollution every year, which is equivalent to removing almost two cars from the road.

A TRUEnergy spokeswoman said customer uptake of Green-Power had doubled in the Border region in the past 10 months. "Nationally, TRUEnergy welcomes about 1300 new Green-Power customers every week," she said. "This level of customer interest in renewable energy is tremendous as it means more households and businesses now see switching to GreenPower as the single, most effective thing they can do to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions."

Gas body craves more hot air

Herald Sun
Thursday 15/11/2007 Page: 79

AS RENEWABLE energy companies yesterday lapped up the Opposition's $500 million funding boost, the gas industry hit out at politicians who were "neglecting" its sector. A peak gas group called on MPs to make public declarations of support for its sector, saying it was worried that incentives to low-emission technologies, including clean coal research, could freeze out investment in the nation's pipelines. Commenting on the Opposition's announcement yesterday that it would make $500 million available to develop alternative power generation, the Australian Pipeline Industry Association said it was "fed-up with being treated like the poorer cousin" in the energy sector.

"Although privately we are told that we matter, publicly we feel neglected," said APIA chief executive Cheryl Cartwright. "The gas industry does not need taxpayers' money to work within the private sector. But it does need a public indication from people who want to rule this country that we have an important place, otherwise future investment might not happen."

Opposition leader Kevin Rudd said Labor would deploy renewable technology across Australia if it won office. Labor plans a $500 million Renewable Energy Fund and a $240 million Clean Business fund to prepare industry for climate change and promote energy efficient buildings. "We need to harness our enormous potential in wind, solar, geothermal and wave technology to take renewables from the lab to the grid," Mr Rudd said.

The Clean Energy Council said the funding would secure jobs for Australians by encouraging research and development investments. "The industry has proven, mature technologies like wind, gas, solar and biomass that are ready right now to reduce Australia's carbon emissions from electricity," CEC chief executive Dominique La Fontaine said.

The Climate Institute Australia said the announcement more than balanced out the funding allocated to reduce emissions from fossil fuelss. "It will provide much-needed funding for Australian researchers to come up with more solutions to underpin our clean energy economy," institute chief John Connor said.

Tuesday 20 November 2007

Alternatives add up at $US100 for oil

Canberra Times
Saturday 10/11/2007 Page: 19

While motorists may be alarmed at the inexorable rise in the price of oil, which is setting new records almost daily, environmentalists and alert investors see a silver lining in the cloud. Not only should high prices for oil (and coal and gas, which have also jumped) prompt a reduction in usage, but they will encourage the use of renewable energy, the price of which is now falling relative to fossil fuels.

A decade ago greens were told a switch to sustainable energies was a pipe dream with oil trading at just $US10-$15 a barrel. But this week few traders are betting against the price of oil soon going through $US100 ($A107). "The game has changed now," green fund Low Carbon Accelerator's chief investment officer Steve Mahon said. "We have moved away from the world of cheap energy that existed 10 years ago.

There is an incredible transformation going on and it will drive its towards cleaner energy as fossil fuelss are finite and will be exhausted at some point." Calculations of the relative costs of different energies are difficult because they depend on whether the energy is used for transport, heating or electricity. The comparison between any renewable energy and fossil fuels is also difficult because the fuel - for example, sun or wind - is free and inexhaustible, so the costs involve the building and running of, say, a wind farm.

University of Birmingham sociologist David Toke, has calculated that onshore wind energy is viable at the equivalent oil price of $US50-60 a barrel and $US70-80 a barrel for offshore wind farms, assuming a guaranteed income flow for 15-20 years, but not counting any government subsidies. Researchers at the German Aerospace Centre have run calculations for desert based concentrated solar power, which use mirrors to concentrate the sun's power on to a fluid and drive turbines. This technology exists in California and Spain and is growing rapidly. The cost is around $US50 a barrel of oil equivalent for generating heat, falling to $US20 when the technology is scaled tip. For electricity production, the figure could be double that, close to the current oil price.

But that is expected to fall rapidly with scale and will be made even more attractive when fossil fuelss have to pay the cost of carbon they emit, either through carbon taxes or a carbon trading scheme. biofuels - often used as a direct alternative to petrol or diesel - are now selling for about $US40-70 a barrel so are clearly already competitive, Economic Research Council research director and founder of website Dan Lewis says. "Higher oil prices always get more publicity, but since 2003, the cost of other energy commodities like coal, uranium and gas have risen mach faster.

All of these are far more powerful investment signals for alternative energy than the price of carbon ever will be," he said. Mr Mahon agrees, saying that algae based biofuels, which are very rich in energy but take up very little land that could otherwise be used for food, are competitive at about $US54-64 a barrel of oil equivalent. They yield 30 times more energy per Hectare than palm oil. Even solar photovoltaic cells which generate electricity, traditionally the most expensive of renewables, are becoming more competitive. Mr Mahon thinks within a couple of years photovoltaic cells will produce electricity at about A11c/kW. "That's pretty competitive," he said.

Figures from energy consultants McKinnon & Clarke, show fossil fuelss typically produce electricity for between A5c and A10c a kilowatt hour in Britain, with wind about A12.5c/kWh. solar thermal, which heats water, costs A14c/kWh and photovoltaic cells are A32c/kWh. biofuels are less than A10c/kWh. Head of photovoltaic cell firm Solar Century and author of the book Hall Goite, which predicts that oil will soon run out, Jeremy Leggett, says cell prices are falling fast.

"With manufacturing costs falling 20 per cent every two years in solar PV photovoltaic cells, and the price of oil hooked to the cost of gas, and coal transportation, we can expect the falling cost of solar electricity to cross the retail price of polluting power in most industrialised markets within just a few years now. Huge as the investment into solar now is, it is going to rise further as the opportunity dawns on ever more people," Mr Leggett said. But the head of Impax Group, Britain's largest green investment fund, Ian Simm, said higher oil prices also gave an incentive to oil companies to explore and produce more of the stuff as well as processing coal into liquid fuel, something which was highly polluting.

Still seeking the right shade of green

Thursday 15/11/2007 Page: 14

THE world's most unlikely environmental pin-up boy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was celebrated two years ago for a range of world-leading climate change policies, pledging to slash greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century and encouraging the development of new technologies. Australia, by comparison, has avoided setting targets for as long as possible.

Does this matter? There are two views. One says Australia was right not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol; that cutting greenhouse gases is meaningless unless all major players, including China and India, are on board; that Australia is a minor emitter globally; and that given it is built on coal, it is a special case. The other view, largely supported by climate scientists, says nothing can be achieved unless developed countries lead the way; that targets can be self-fulfilling, triggering investment in areas that would help cut emissions; and that Australia is lagging badly.

Energy policy expert Hugh Saddler says Australia has recently improved its climate change performance, but not by enough. We are definitely ahead of where the US is at the national level, but behind California and behind the majority of European countries," he says. Others, such as Canberra economist Warwick McKibbin, say this may be justified given the "natural endowment" Australia is sitting on. We have to get emissions down, no doubt, but not necessarily by as much as people think if you take a global perspective," he says.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions
With its extraordinary supply of cheap coal, gas and aluminium, Australia pumps out greenhouse gases at a rate above its weight. According to a recent OECD report, it has the highest carbon intensity in the developed world. Per capita, Australia is second in emissions, behind tiny Luxembourg. Given the nation's resource wealth, the Howard Government was able to win a concession at the Kyoto negotiations to increase Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 8 per cent by 2012 compared with 1990 levels. But unlike 175 other countries, Australia refused to ratify the treaty, following the lead of the US.

The Government argues that Australia is on track to meet its target, while many significant emitters that did ratify Kyoto, such as Canada and Japan, have performed poorly. However, by mid-year, 25 of 37 regions or countries appeared set to meet their Kyoto target, mostly through a mix of domestic policies and international carbon-trading mechanisms.

In September, Prime Minister John Howard persuaded China and the US to agree in principle to setting "aspirational" targets. He says he intends to wait for Treasury modelling after the election before setting his own. Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd says he based Labor's long-term target - a 60 per cent cut on 2000 levels by 2050 - on UN recommendations and will set a 2020 target after receiving a report by economist Ross Garnaut next year.

The European Union has led the way in greenhouse emission reduction targets, setting a 20 per cent target for 2020 and pledging to lift it to 30 per cent if other countries come on board. In the US, states are setting the agenda, with California getting most of the attention since Schwarzenegger declared a 25 per cent cut in emissions by 2020 and signed an executive order demanding an 80 per cent reduction by 2050. As a developing nation, China does not have a binding emissions target under Kyoto.

Renewable Energy
Australia was among the first countries to set a Mandatory Renewable Energy Target - an enforceable goal for the proportion of electricity that must come from new sources. It was not particularly high, though. The Howard Government's target of about 2 per cent by 2010 has been met early, but the Government rejected a recommendation that it double it by 2020. In September, Howard settled on a goal of about 15 per cent of energy from clean sources, including "clean" coal and nuclear, by 2020. Labor set a higher target 20 per cent from renewables only by the same date.

Climate experts say that on a global scale the Coalition's goal is a start and Labor's goal is competitive but far from world beating. Europe leads in promoting new energy sources, and much local private investment in renewable technology goes offshore to Germany, Spain and Britain. Germany has encouraged renewables for the past 16 years by guaranteeing companies that charge a higher premium for energy generated by new technologies. Germany recently lifted its renewables target to 27 per cent by 2020.

Austria already produces an extraordinary 70 per cent of its energy from renewables and has a 2010 target of 78 per cent. Globally, 10 per cent of investment in clean energy last year was in China. While the large developing nations are often criticised for inaction, Climate Institute Australia policy and research director Erwin Jackson says the reverse should be true. "China and India are emerging as the new clean energy superpowers," he says.

Carbon Trading
The Coalition and Labor have committed to national emissions trading schemes, under which companies will be required to buy permits allowing them to emit a certain level of carbon dioxide. This sort of scheme, which allows companies to sell permits if their emissions are kept below the set limit, is already in place in Europe and is planned by some US states. Globally, emissions schemes have been favoured over carbon taxes as a means of forcing businesses to clean up.

Neither Australian party has set targets. Howard says the Coalition's scheme would be in place by 2012; Labor says it would bring its scheme in two years earlier. If a taskforce report into an Australian scheme from earlier this year were accepted, Australia would have the most comprehensive system in the world in terms of the sectors included.

David Pearse, director of consultancy the Centre for International Economics, says much of the groundwork has been laid, including an Australian Greenhouse Office inventory that estimates emissions. Carbon trading is a growing market. The World Bank estimated the value of traded carbon credits was $US10 billion in 2005; the figure grew to $US25 billion last year. Again, the EU led the way, but its initial scheme was widely seen as flawed, issuing credit permits too liberally.

In the US, the Western States Climate Initiative, including California, plans an emissions trading scheme by August next year. Japan launched a voluntary domestic scheme in 2005. It is also trading using the Kyoto clean development mechanism, which involves Kyoto signatories investing in emission-cutting projects in developing countries in return for credits.

Germany Could Raise Renewable Targets
October 26, 2007

According to a Greentech Media report, the country met its 2010 goal this year and its environmental ministry has proposed raising targets for 2020 and 2030 to a whopping 27% and 45%, respectively. The German Ministry for the Environment is proposing to increase its renewable-energy targets after surpassing its 2010 goal this year, according to a Greentech Media Research report scheduled to be released Monday. Germany's goal was to get 12.5 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, and the country exceeded that percentage this year, according to the report. The Ministry has proposed increasing its 2020 target to 27 percent, from 20 percent, and setting a 2030 target of more than 45 percent, according to the report.

"The Germany government is really committed to this and it's not just [to] reduce emissions; it's an economic decision," said Greentech Media analyst Oliver Guinness, who wrote the report. "They see opportunities for substantial job creation, exports and economic growth. I think they will remain one of the leaders globally." Germany ranks third -- behind France and Sweden -- in the total amount of renewable energy it uses, but that ranking is due mainly to hydro power in the two top countries, according to the report. When large hydro-power projects are excluded, Germany ties with the United States for first place in the total installed capacity of renewable energy.

According to the Ministry, Germany has 23 gigawatts of installed solar, geothermal, biomass, wind and small hydro capacity, while the rest of the EU25 -- made up of the first 25 countries to join the European Union -- has a total of 63 gigawatts of installed renewable capacity. That would mean most European countries average only 2.52 gigawatts of capacity.

Sean Brownlee, a cleantech consultant and former partner with European-based venture-capital firm 3i, said it's not surprising that Germany plans to continue to aggressively support renewable energy. "Germany's been having the most active [solar-electric] programs and is now a world leader in solar," he said. "My guess is Germany had a good experience and would consider doing it again."

Germany is by far the largest market for solar power today, with 2.54 gigawatts of peak capacity installed and €3.8 billion in revenue in 2006, and is expected to continue to grow, according to the report. The industry is seeing a rush to get projects up and running before 2009, when the price Germany pays solar-project owners for delivering solar electricity to the grid is expected to drop, Guinness said. Projects that are completed before the deadline are guaranteed a set price for 20 years.

Another reason for the rush? The European Union funds up to 50 percent of the capital expenses for companies in eastern Europe. That "enormous" incentive is scheduled to end in 2013, according to the report. "That eliminates one of the key incentives for operating here," Guinness said. Brownlee said the new Ministry proposal could be an indication the country wants to expand more into other renewables. "I could see the government wanting to increase its presence in other renewable energies," he said. "Solar is basically a manufacturing play, and now that China's got some of the biggest manufacturing facilities, I think Germany wants to remain strong on the R&D front and wants a toehold in other renewables." To that end, Germany seems to be turning to offshore wind.

According to Guinness' report, the government projects that electricity from wind energy will increase from 5 to 7 percent today to at least 25 percent by 2030. Fifteen percent of that will come from offshore projects, according to the report. That's a big expectation considering that none of the electricity comes from offshore wind energy now, Guinness said. "Germany's really ramping up its offshore market," he said. The country has created a pipeline that will help transmit power from offshore wind farms to the mainland, he added, and also is about to increase its feed-in tariff for offshore wind to stay competitive with other countries.

At the same time, the country is rejecting nuclear energy as a solution to its energy needs. While other countries, including France, Finland and China, have embraced nuclear energy -- and the United States has begun reconsidering the controversial source -- Germany is eliminating it, according to Guinness. The country has shut down six of its plants already and is phasing out its other 11, he said. It plans to replace the electricity from these plants with electricity from other renewables, according to the report.

CVGA calls for `hard targets'

Macedon Ranges Guardian
Friday 9/11/2007 Page: 5

The Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance (CVGA), of which Macedon Ranges Shire is a member, is calling on the next Australian Government to adopt hard targets for greenhouse gas emissions and energy from renewable sources, plus a range of measures to improve energy efficiency and speed the adoption of renewable energy.

CVGA chairman, Dr Ian MacBean, said the post-election government must set an emissions target which "matches the scale of the challenge." "With the current rate of increase in emissions, we have a maximum of 10 years to have even half a chance of maintaining a healthy environment for both humans and other species," said Dr MacBean. "CVGA believes the next government needs to adopt and enforce the targets of a 30 per cent reduction by 2010 and 100 per cent by 2020. We need to sign on to Kyoto and subsequent international agreements to enable Australia to benefit from global carbon trading.

"In addition, increasing renewable energy targets would provide certainty for renewable energy investors, and we need substantial changes to federal regulations, incentives, investment and information. These would support and generate development and uptake of renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives." The organisation's public comments follow the first of a series of CSIRO reports commissioned by the CVGA, which found that central Victoria has the capacity to supply all its energy needs from local sustainable energy sources.

The report says that the region has "vast resources for electricity from large scale solar thermal, solar photovoltaics, wind or biomass. .. (which could) individually or together. .. supply all required electricity generation. .." Dr MacBean said that while central Victoria's economy, especially rural industries, was already feeling the impact of climate change and water shortages, new industries generating, utilising and supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency had great potential to benefit the region and provide employment in the face of anticipated job losses.

"A target of supplying even just 25 per cent of Australia's energy needs with renewable energy by 2020 would deliver thousands of new jobs Australia-wide and provide enough electricity to power every home in Australia. Central Victoria's assets mean it could claim a large share of those industries and jobs," he said. "We have the commitment, the technology and the knowledge. What we need now is targets, measures, regulation and legislation which will enable businesses, communities and all levels of government to work towards this vital common goal," he said.

The Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance, established in 2000, is an incorporated association comprising 14 local governments, and nine business, government and community organisations.

Monday 19 November 2007

Energy importer Korea to invest billions in renewable power sources

Monday 12/11/2007 Page: 2

SOUTH Korea makes no secret that it has serious designs on the renewable energy industry. Its latest "Invest Korea" promotional material invites foreign investment in many sectors, but not alternative energy. The Government is not overly friendly" about attracting overseas companies to tap attractive feed-in electricity tariffs aimed at fostering long-term growth in the local renewable energy industry.

While barriers to entry are likely to remain steep", the Government says, conditions are much friendlier" for joint ventures that bring in advanced technology. 'All countries are trying to promote renewable energy," said Kim Pyung-hee, a director of the Korea Trade-Industry Promotion team. With an annual output of about $US1 trillion ($A1.1 trillion), Korea's is about the same size as Australia's. Already the world's biggest shipbuilder, second-largest steel producer and ranked fifth among car makers, the country is making a far bigger push into renewable energy. One reason is that it relies on energy imports for 97 per cent of its needs, while Australia is a net energy exporter.

At the end of 2005, renewable energy accounted for just 2.1 per cent of Korea's total supply, a figure the Government plans to raise to 5 per cent by 2011. To that end, it will provide a total of $US9 billion in grants and loans, with the private sector expected to kick in a further $US10.3 billion, says Lee Seongho, head of the New and Renewable Energy Centre. Mr Lee said the top four funding targets were hydrogen fuel, solar photovoltaic cells, wind energy and Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle power plants that are more efficient than conventional thermal plants.

The centre hands out 130 billion won ($A156 million) a year to support efforts aimed at tapping energy from sources ranging from ocean energy to biomass and geo-thermal sources. The first aim is to create a new industry: the second target is the deployment of more environmentally favourable technology," Mr Lee said. The second supports the first, since if we get more people using it, then the industry grows." By contrast, Australia's Government has earmarked $A800 million since 2004 to support low-emissions technology, particularly efforts to reduce carbon emitted from burning brown coal, says the Climate Institute Australia.


Mosman joins 50/50 by 2020

Bega District News
Tuesday 6/11/2007 Page: 8

ON OCTOBER 25, 170 Mosman residents gathered to listen to Clean Energy for Eternity members talk about a strategic community-based approach to climate change. The meeting was organised by the Mosman CEFE team in conjunction with the local council, and was a response to some critical media coverage about Mosman's high carbon footprint. The Mosman per capita carbon footprint is the highest in Australia.

The 50/50 by 2020 target was adopted with only one objection from a resident who thought that nuclear energy was a better solution. This is the first time an urban community has voted to adopt the 50/50 by 2020 target and it will bring new challenges. Large scale macro renewable energy is more difficult in an urban environment, with large scale solar photovoltaic installations and bulk purchasing of solar hot water probably two of the best options in the short term.

There are also quick gains to be made with energy efficiency measures. A high profile Sydney shire is a great boost for the CEFE campaign and opens up the possibility of other shires in Sydney coming on board. A CEFE group has just started up in Manly and, with their help, we plan a human sign on Manly Beach on December 2. The sign will form "LifeSaving Energy" and will be the launch of LifeSaving Energy at a national level.

We are hopeful that the three surf clubs in Manly will be fitted out with renewable energy by the launch date and on the South Coast we hope to get Moruya and Narooma surf clubs organised by December 07. Suddenly, we have interest from some big sponsors, and things are starting to happen. A growing CEFE presence in Sydney raises the possibility of some very useful partnerships.

Mosman, for example, is affluent but doesn't have any spare land. SE NSW has lots of land. There are exciting possibilities for community owned macro renewable energy projects in our part of the world, jointly funded by regional and urban populations. The opportunities are enormous for our region. There are many options for community owned macro renewable energy projects. One that we can get up and running quickly is a solar photovoltaic farm.

Ten hectares of photovoltaic cells would produce 2MW of electricity, enough to look after most of the energy needs of a town the size of Merimbula or Bega or Cooma or Moruya or Batemans Bay. CEFE is pushing hard to get a solar farm up and running by the middle of next year. Does anyone have a spare 10 hectares with a north facing aspect?

Matthew Nott, CEFE