Friday 11 January 2008

VCAT okays wind farm

Yarram Standard News
09/01/2008 Page: 4

THE Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) approved the Devon North Wind Farm on the basis that wind turbines were a suitable use for rural land. VCAT panel members Jeanette Rickards and Ian Potts stated that opponents' objections were centred around "amenity impacts to their rural lifestyle" and dismissed such an argument as weak, from a planning point of view.. .".the proposal is acceptable when having regard to the balance between the policy weighing toward the establishment of WEFs (Wind Energy Facilities) and the local amenity issues," the panel wrote.

"In arriving at this decision, and giving consideration to the policy support for WEFs, it strikes us that one must consider the opportunity for WEFs like many other natural resources. "WEFs utilise wind energy. As is set out in the policy and planning guidelines for development of wind energy facilities in Victoria, this resource is limited to specific coastline and inland locations. "Put another way, just like quarries or mines, WEFs cannot be located anywhere.

There are specific location requirements that must be met to gain the best wind supplies." The panel questioned residents' claims their community was a "hamlet" and as such, unsuitable for a wind farm.

"However we find it a stretch from a physical point of view to suggest the degree of settlement is intense enough to be considered a hamlet," the panel wrote. "The term hamlet more rightly applies to that of Devon North, a settlement area well removed to the north-east of the subject site. We acknowledge however that there exists a mix of farming and rural lifestyle use around the subject site and there appears to be a strong community bond."

The panel also added: "We dismiss the implication that the rural lifestyle use of the surrounding land enjoys planning priority or should be contemplated as a land use with a future legitimacy or primacy over the WEF purely on the basis of land use with no consideration as to the merits of those matters required under the relevant decision guidelines."

As for the risk of the land being on a faultline and therefore the towers were at risk of falling from an earthquake, the VCAT panel found this argument "not of such gravity as to warrant the refusal of a permit." The panel believed such matters could be "remedied by standard engineering means."

Twenty-two conditions have been placed on the planning permit, requiring Synergy Wind to minimise the impact of its seven turbine plant on surrounding property owners, to some extent.

The conditions are summarised as follows:
  • Before development starts, amended plans must be approved by Wellington Shire Council.
  • The plans must show the exact location of the turbines, so that no turbine is closer than 500m to any existing house, other than the Hellerens' residence.
  • If the turbines are re-positioned from the locations identified in the report submitted to VCAT, revised acoustic and shadow flicker reports must be approved by council;
  • The use of the site must always be in accordance with the plan;
  • All tower access points and electrical equipment must be locked and made inaccessible to the general public;
  • The wind farm must be limited to seven MM92 type turbines, mounted on towers no higher than 80m, powered by rotor blades no longer than 48m;
  • Construction work must stop at once if Aboriginal artifacts are found;
  • A traffic management plan must be prepared;
  • Council must receive a bird and bat management plan;
  • An environment management plan that covers the construction, operation, re-powering and decommissioning of the wind farm must be approved by council;
  • The Stone and Neist families must be offered tree planting to reduce the visual impact of the turbines;
  • The wind farm must comply with the New Zealand Standard Acoustics - The Assessment and Measurement of Sound from wind turbine Generators. That is 40 dBA or five dBA above background;
  • Within three months of any turbines being used, an independent post-construction noise monitoring program must be undertaken by the proponent in accordance with the New Zealand Standard to council's satisfaction. The program must monitor noise levels at any dwellings existing within a kilometre radius of any wind turbine;
  • Synergy Wind must conduct a pre and post construction survey of telecommunications receiver and transmitter stations with line of sight across the wind farm, including TV and radio reception for residences within a kilometre radius of each of the turbines;
  • Synergy Wind must ensure no residences experience unacceptable shadow flicker or blade glint. Shadow flicker must not exceed 30 hours per year;
  • As required by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), aviation obstacle lighting must be placed on the turbines to the satisfaction of the CASA; and
  • Once the wind farm is decommissioned, Synergy Wind must restore the site.
  • The planning permit will expire if the development is not started within four years and completed within six years of the date of the permit. Council may extend this period.

First tower on the way, now just 127 to go

Ballarat Courier
10/01/2008 Page: 3

Waubra Wind Farm's first turbine tower has been erected, with 127 more to go. Developer Acciona Energy awarded Portland's Keppel Prince Engineering the contract to supply and erect the towers, with the first sections delivered to the site last month. Yesterday, site crews installed a nacelle on the first tower, ready for the blades to be installed.

There are three tower bases already installed on the site, with a fourth currently being erected. The project's next stage will see substations built and underground and overhead cabling installed. Construction of its maintenance facility in Harrisons Rd will also begin on Monday.

The company plans to start generating electricity and pumping into the grid this year, with the wind farm able to generate power from one part of the site while the rest is being completed. The $450 million wind farm is the largest currently being built in the southern hemisphere, and will power 143,000 households.

Acciona Energy construction manager Bruce Payne said the project had gone well, considering its size, the area, the people and equipment involved. "It's all running on time, to budget and going quite smoothly, and we aim to keep it that way," he said. This is the start of the cycle and the cusp of the whole process to gradually set it up."

Thursday 10 January 2008

Race is on to power desalination plant

West Australian
09/01/2008 Page: 43

The State Government's decision to allow fledgling market technology to help fuel the Binningup plant will open doors.

Fremantle inventor Alan Burns' Carnegie Corp is squaring off with Ric Stowe's Griffin Energy in a contest among energy pioneers to provide new types of sustainable power for the Water Corporation's $1 billion Binningup desalination plant. Griffin Energy has lodged three expressions of interest for the plant, which is slated to come on stream in 2011, including commercially proven wind energy and a wave power joint venture with Anglo-American company Ocean Power Technology.

The Ocean Power Technology joint venture pits it against Carnegie, which is hoping to put its CETO Wave technology to work commercially in a year. Like Ocean Power, CETO Wave promises to convert wave power into emissions-free electricity. CETO's process also purifies sea water for drinking use.

Wayne Trumble, power generation executive manager for Griffin, said his company indirectly supplied energy for the existing desalination plant through its Emu Downs Wind Farm. "We see a strong future for renewable energy as part of WA's balanced energy mix," he said.

The Water Corporation confirmed it would begin discussions this month with 13 potential suppliers for the plant. A date for the expected short list has not been announced but estimates on the value of the power supply contract, based on costs from the Kwinana plant, place it in the area of $10 million a year. the plant is expected to require 200 gigawatt hours per year and will seek 40GWh in commercially unproven technology under a plan announced by Premier Alan Carpenter in September.

The estimated $2 million contract for the commercially unproven technology sector could prove a turning point for the company that provides it and for the sector itself. John Wright, director of CSIRO's energy transformed flagship program, said that nationwide wave power was in an embryonic stage, appropriate for a small demonstration plant. Dr Wright said the technology would be helped enormously by having an actual working operation.

Carnegie's stock has risen from 18¢ at the beginning of last month to as high as 47¢ last week on speculation its CETO Wave technology would ultimately snag part of the contract. But the race for potential energy providers to the plant remains wide open. Oswal Power, owned by Burrup Fertilisers entrepreneur Pankaj Oswal, has tossed its hat into the ring to provide commercially proven technology that needs only be scaled up to satisfy the requirements of the desalination plant.

A number of companies would like to provide the mix of energies themselves. Verve Energy is offering a wind-biomass mix that would fulfil both sides of the requirement. Verve Energy's biomass plans use plantation-grown mallee trees which can be harvested and used for eucalyptus oil, carbon and energy. Verve spokesman Peter Winner said planting mallees had the added advantage of combating ground salinity in WA. "There's heaps of interest," Mr Winner said. "It's just a matter of getting to the next step." Independent Offshore Solutions director Duncan Mitchell refused to discuss the unproven portion of its energy technology offering but said he expected it to account for 20 per cent of the mix the Nedlands company would offer.

The other 80 per cent would most likely come from wind farm energy which had been around for years. Mr Mitchell said his company was taking a "low-profile" approach. "Definitely there's investor sentiment out there if we have a technology near commercialisation," he said. "But we must prove it first before we begin soliciting funds." Another player is SpiritWest bioenergy, a joint venture 60 per cent owned by the listed Pacific Energy and 40 per cent owned by Perpetual Investments.

Pacific's chairman is former Clough managing director Brian Hewitt and prominent company promoter Ian Middlemas serves as his deputy. Pacific managing director Adam Boyd said the technology converted to fuel everything from a tree "you don't see on a logging truck." SpiritWest is starting construction on a plant later this year which will position it to deliver to the Water Corporation or two other potential clients it is in talks with. Of SpiritWest's chances, Mr Boyd said: "We have a great chance because we have a very advanced project."

Wiring Up The Water
  • Project: Southern Seawater desalination Plant, second plant in WA after Perth Seawater Desal Plant
  • Location: Binningup, WA
  • Drinking Water Per Year: 50 gigalitres, scalable to 100 gigalitres
  • Power Requirements: 200 gigawatt hours of renewable energy, 160 gigawatt hours to be sourced from commercially proven renewable energy, 40 gigawatt hours to be provided by commercially unproven renewable energy
  • Construction to begin in 2009
  • Project to be operational in 2011

Wednesday 9 January 2008

Victoria suffers emission surge

Bendigo Advertiser
08/01/2008 Page: 4

VICTORIA pumped 30 per cent more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere last year than in 1990, it was revealed yesterday. Coal-fired electricity contributed almost 60 per cent of the state's greenhouse emissions a report issued by non-profit organisation the Climate Group showed, while petrol was responsible for almost a quarter of the state's emissions last year.

The figures for the report were compiled from the group's Weekly Greenhouse Indicator, which tabulates Victoria's greenhouse emissions in real time. It shows the amount of greenhouse gases produced each week by petroleum, natural gas and electricity from coal. Last year, 61.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gases from coal-based electricity, 27.7 million tonnes from petroleum and 14.5 million from natural gas were propelled into the atmosphere.

The results have not surprised central Victoria's two leading climate change groups, who have attributed the pollution surge to the nation's continued reliance on coal. Mount Alexander Sustainability Group executive officer, Dean Bridgfoot said the report underlined an extremely worrying trend and all levels of government knew they needed to do something about climate change.

He said the figures should be a wake-up call to governments to introduce renewable energy as power sources to curb the rapidly rising energy usage and therefore higher greenhouse emissions. Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance executive officer, Bronwen Machin attributed the high figures to the State Government's continued use of the Yallourn power station in Gippsland, which is one of the worst polluting in the nation.

But, acting Environment Minister Tim Holding has blamed energy use in the early 1990s for driving up the figures, despite State Government promises to cut the amount of greenhouse emissions by the year 2050 by 60 per cent of 2000 levels and other government figures that show energy use across the state has doubled since 1973.

"Since 1999 when the government really started responding aggressively to the challenge of climate change, we've seen Victoria really punching above its weight," he said yesterday.

The Weekly Greenhouse Indicator can be found online at: www.theclimate

Wind farm go ahead: Synergy Wind gets nod from VCAT for Devon North project

Gippsland Times & Maffra Spectator
04/01/2008 Page: 1

SYNERGY Wind Pty Ltd has won its battle to erect wind turbines at Devon North. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal rejected residents' and landholders' objections and set aside Wellington Shire Council's decision to refuse a permit for the wind farm. In its December 21 decision VCAT argued the proposal was acceptable in regard to the balance between government policy weighting toward establishment of WEFs and local amenity issues.

It likened the need to place WEFs in specific locations as being the same as for quarries or mines, placement being dictated by the availability of the resource. It imposed 22 conditions on the permit, with work to commence within four years and project completion to be within six years. Wellington Shire Council acting chief executive Ralf Kastan said council would not appeal the decision.

"VCAT decisions are final, unless contested on a point of law in the Supreme Court and we won't be doing that," Mr Kastan said. "With all 22 conditions to comply with Synergy Wind has a fair bit of work to do. We issued the permit on December 21, the last working day before the Christmas break," he said. "It will now be up to Synergy Wind to demonstrate to the appropriate authorities they have complied with all 22 of the conditions." Mr Kastan emphasised due process had been carried out with numerous opportunities for interested parties to put their case.

Explaining its decision the tribunal, headed by Jeanette Rickards, commented proposals to construct and operate wind energy facilities are often hotly contested matters, raising issues of noise, and loss of landscape values by those surrounding the proposed site.

"This proposal is no different," the VCAT determination reads. "The grounds (for objection) were substantially centred around (sic) perceptions of amenity impacts to their rural lifestyle. "Issues relating to birds (wildlife), bushfire risks and other matters were also raise (sic) but not actively pursued in this hearing." Synergy Wind amended its original proposal from nine turbines to seven. Each tower would be 80 metres tall at the hub with a total height to blade tip of 128 metres.

The highest turbine would have a maximum blade elevation of 278 metres above sea level. The power generated would be linked by above-ground power lines from the WEF to a 66,000-volt line on the Yarram-Morwell Rd, five kilometres south of the project. Synergy Wind did not answer telephone calls or emails from the Gippsland Times.

Tourism turns a blind eye to need for action

Hobart Mercury
08/01/2008 Page: 25
BY Peter Boyer

INTERNATIONAL tourism, the darling of global free markets, is feeling the pressure.

The burgeoning travel industry estimates it is responsible for 5 per cent of global carbon emissions, and three months ago, at the International Conference on Climate Change and Tourism in Davos, Switzerland, it agreed urgent measures were needed to Blend its ways. Then a month ago carne the Bali UN Climate Change Conference.

Australia, noting scientific advice that by 2020 global emissions will need to be as much as 40 per cent below 1990 levels, agreed to toughen up its emissions targets. With this sort of build-up, you'd think the climate would feature in Tasmanian tourism's latest three-year business plan. But it gets no mention in either the plan's key strategies nor the December 17 media release by Tourism Minister Paula Wriedt. In 24 pages, climate change rates five lonely paragraphs.

Emissions trading and "carbon-efficient next-generation aircraft", the plan says, will provide tourism operators with "opportunities to offer measurable offsets and reassurance to travellers concerned about the carbon footprint created by their travel." "Carbon-efficient next-generation aircraft" are, as the words haply, a generation away. It is disingenuous to suggest that tinkering with current technologies and designs will yield significantly lower emissions.

Offsets - where travellers invest in tree-planting, renewable energy or efficiency improvements to offset their "carbon footprint" - are no substitute for reducing emissions. Even the most reputable schemes cannot deliver immediate benefit and the worst do little more than line the pockets of those running them.

Tourism Tasmania does undertake to develop a climate change strategy. But it would be unreasonable to expect a fully-formed strategy soon: the Garnaut study of climate change economics won't be finished for six months and an emissions trading scheme is at least two years away.

In the meantime, the plan has nothing to guide operators on reducing emissions and doesn't even advise that it would be prudent to start - or at least start thinking about it. The plan might have canvassed better public transport, or encouraging bicycle travel, or finding alternatives to "fly-drive" tourism, or other behaviour-modifying or energy efficiency measures. But it doesn't.

Premier Paul Lennon pledged in October that his Government would "significantly reduce" its carbon footprint, requiring "every public servant in Tasmania, as well as all Members of Parliament, to change the way we live our lives." He asked all Tasmanians to join the challenge. As I understand it. Tasmanian tourism industry leaders and policy-makers - including the minister - would be part of this process. Has nobody told them?

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.

UK energy firm to buy wind utility

08/01/2008 Page: 22

BRITISH utility Scottish & Southern Energy will acquire Airtricity Holdings in a deal that values the wind energy company at €1.08 billion ($1.8 billion), marking its first foray into continental Europe and Asian markets and a big push into renewable energy.

The Perth, Scotland, utility plans to use Dublin-based Airtricity as a platform to develop a pan-European renewable-power business. The purchase would boost Scottish & Southern's renewable-energy portfolio to just over 1900MW and increase its wind energy development portfolio to almost 10,000MW.

Airtricity has onshore and offshore wind farms in operation, construction and development in Britain, Ireland, continental Europe and Asia. The European Union and China say they want to generate about 20 per cent of their power from renewable energy by 2020.

Scottish & Southern said it would acquire Airtricity from the company's main shareholders, which include renewable-energy and waste-management company NTR, investment fund Ecofin Water & Power Opportunities and a group of Irish investors. The deal is the latest in a series of wind-portfolio acquisitions over the past year.

German utility E.ON bought Airtricity's North American business for $US1.4 billion ($1.6 billion) in October and Danish utility Dong Energy's Spanish and Portuguese wind energy assets for about €700 million in August. Scottish & Southern, which will assume €375 million in net debt from Airtricity, said the deal was expected to enhance earnings starting in 2011 and would be subject to regulatory approval in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

In addition to the 1.08 billion, S&S will pay Airtricity's shareholders €746.5 million to cover the net proceeds of the sale of the North American unit. As a result, the total payable to Airtricity's shareholders will be €1.83 billion.

Macquarie signs up for wind farm

08/01/2008 Page: 17

The project may end up supplying 4.5 per cent of NSW's energy requirements.

MACQUARIE Bank's investment arm has signed on as an equal partner in the development of Australia's biggest wind farm project. Sydney-based renewable energy company Epuron Pty Ltd has announced Macquarie Capital, a division of Australia's biggest investment bank, has agreed to join as an equal partner in the development of the project near Broken Hill in far western NSW.

The project will comprise 400 to 500 wind turbines and at full capacity will produce 1000MW or enough power for 400,000 homes, the largest in Australia. Epuron is a subsidiary of Conergy, one of the largest renewable energy companies in the world. Epuron executive director Andrew Durran said Macquarie's financial backing was an important endorsement. "What the Macquarie involvement confirms is the fundamental viability of the project," he said.

The project has had its critics, with some questioning the cost of building transmission lines to the main power grid, which Epuron acknowledged would be substantial, and NSW Energy Minister Ian Macdonald recently questioning whether the area was windy enough. Macquarie has $1.3 billion invested in renewable energy projects worldwide, much of that in wind generation in countries such as France, the US, Canada and Taiwan.

Mr Durran said Macquarie was a 50-50 partner in the development stage of the project, with its ultimate stake still to be negotiated. Macquarie confirmed its involvement but a spokesman said it was not in a position to comment on the specifics of the deal. The project is expected to cost $2.2 billion to $2.5 billion and take three to five years to build.

Epuron hopes to have planning approval by the end of the year, with construction to begin in 2009. The wind farm, which will cover 450sq km, could eventually supply 4.5 per cent of the state's energy needs, Epuron said. Mr Durran said the backers had spent five to six years looking for the best places in Australia to build wind farms and were confident it was in the right location. "We are very confident about the wind speeds in the area," he said.

The turbines will be located on permanent-leasehold country owned by graziers. Mr Durran acknowledged the project had a "significant power line requirement" to connect it to the grid but that had already been factored in to the costings. Essential to the viability of the project are government renewable energy targets. NSW has set a mandatory target for energy authorities to take at least 15 per cent of their power from renewable sources by 2020.

Mr Epuron said there was "a little bit of indecision for us" over the delay in the state Government putting its target into legislation but based on the federal Government's more ambitious 20 per cent target by 2020 and the general push towards renewable energy, it had decided to go ahead. Epuron has a total of 2000MW of wind farms on the drawing board with construction of its first project near Goulburn in NSW due to start soon.

Tuesday 8 January 2008

Concern at eagle deaths

Launceston Examiner
04/01/2008 Page: 5

RADAR and infra-red technology will be investigated as possible ways to reduce the number of endangered Wedge-Tailed Eagles being killed by turbines at the Woolnorth Wind Farm in the State's North-West. Birds Tasmania chairman Eric Woehler reported this week that up to 18 of the protected birds had been killed at the farm. Re said the eagles could not pick out the turbine blades, which can rotate at up to 300kmh. Roaring 40s, a partnership of Hydro Tasmania and China Light and Power, operates the Woolnorth farm, the largest of its type in Australia. Company public relations manager Josh Bradshaw said it shared the same concerns as Birds Tasmania "with regards to any collisions at Woolnorth."

He said there was a number of protection procedures already in place at the site and Roaring 40s also supported breeding and nest-protection programmes statewide in an aim to increase overall population numbers. "Currently, we have on-ground observers from dawn to dusk during periods of northeast weather patterns the most dangerous to the birds," he said. "We also have what's called a temporary turbine shutdown procedure, whereby the observers can get in contact with our control room and we can shut down certain turbines if there's a danger of a collision with a Wedge-Tailed Eagle."

Mr Bradshaw said that the wind farm's plan was approved by State and federal regulators with the knowledge that some collisions might be inevitable. "But obviously we would prefer it if there were none," he said. "We are planning on sending some personnel overseas to review some of the methods that have been trialled in Canada and the US, where some infra-red technology and radar technology has been looked into. "None of the technology is proven, so it's still very early days."

Sizzling highs set in southern states

Daily Advertiser
04/01/2008 Page: 10

MUCH of southern Australia experienced its hottest year on record in 2007, and scientists warn climate change will continue to deliver similar extreme temperatures. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology's Australian Climate Statement 2007, released yesterday, reveals last year was Australia's sixth warmest year on record - more than half a degree above the annual average temperature. But NSW, Victoria, South Australia, the ACT and the Murray-Darling Basin set new records.

Bureau climate scientist David Jones said the extreme temperatures in southern Australia surpassed expectations. `A very, very warm year, a year which has bumped up well ahead of all the previous warm years on our records, so I guess it really underscores the role that climate change and climate variability, linked together, are now playing," Dr Jones said.

"To have a significant number of our states set new records is remarkable, and Tasmania only missed out by the barest of margins, (there) it came in the second hottest year on record." Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the report confirmed an urgent need to act on climate change, and she promised the federal government would increase household water and energy saving measures this year.

"We know of course we've seen 11 years of inaction from the Howard government," Ms Gillard said. "The Rudd Labor government has already started acting on climate change. "We've ratified Kyoto, we provided leadership at the Bali summit and this year we will work on our national emissions-trading scheme and of course increase the uptake of renewable energy. We'll also be working in partnership with households to help households save water and energy..."

Allco launches transport and infrastructure fund

Lloyds List DCN
03/01/2008 Page: 3

SHIPS, aircraft and windfarms feature in Allco Finance Group's newly launched transport and infrastructure fund, the company said this week. Allco said that what it had described as "the first globally diversified transport and infrastructure fund", Allco GTI, was ahead of schedule. The first close was expected this month with a subsequent and final close expected to occur later in the year.

"Allco GTI is an unlisted, wholesale fund that will invest in aviation, shipping, rail and specialised infrastructure assets that will seek to provide reliable absolute returns with a long term cash flow component," the company said. "Allco is targeting total capital commitments of $350m-$450m from a limited number of investors. "The fund's seed assets include a share of five European wind farms, direct investments in three aircraft, and a share in a portfolio of 27 ships. "These assets were originally on Allco's balance sheet." The fund offered investors access to Allco's proven and proprietary deal flow in its core asset classes.

Allco's experience in transportation origination, financing and asset management has been built over almost 30 years, the company said. In transportation financing, Allco has financed over $601m of deals in transport and infrastructure assets since the company was founded in 1979. The team managing Allco GTI will be led by the designated fund manager, Tze Masters, as chief investment officer. Ms Masters has extensive experience in investing in transportation and infrastructure, having previously been in similar positions for Allco Finance Group and Record Investments.

Allco Finance: Institution backs fund

Australian Financial Review
03/01/2008 Page: 20

Allco Finance Group had a rocky 2007, but things are looking up for the company after it secured a $200 million investment in its new Global Transport and Infrastructure Fund. The fund will invest up to $450 million in infrastructure, and has already acquired stakes in some European wind farms. Allco Finance shares closed at $6.08 yesterday.

Monday 7 January 2008

Green shipping blowing in the wind

Thu, 3 Jan 08

ONE of the first large cargo ships in 100 years to cross the Atlantic Ocean with the help of the wind will set off from Europe this month on a voyage that is due to make maritime history.

When the 10,000-tonne Beluga SkySail is well clear of land, it will launch a giant kite, which wind tunnel tests and sea trials suggest will tug it along and save 10-15% of the heavy fuel oil it would normally burn. If the journey from Bremen in Germany to Venezuela and back is successful, it could become common to see some of the largest ships in the world towed by kites the size of soccer fields.

"This is a serious attempt to reduce bunker (fuel) costs and polluting emissions," said Christine Bornkessel, a spokeswoman for the Bremen-based Beluga shipping line, which has 52 merchant vessels. "The kite will be used whenever it is possible on the voyage, and we are convinced it will revolutionise cargo shipping. We would consider fitting them to all our ships."

The ship's maiden voyage will use a 160-square-metre kite which is expected to cut fuel consumption by 10-15%, but in time it will be fitted with much larger kites, saving up to 35% on fuel, she said. The largest kites could be as big as 5000 square metres and theoretically be capable of assisting giant container ships.

Shipping is now a booming global industry, with most manufacturing being concentrated thousands of miles from consumer centres in Europe and the United States. Nearly 100,000 cargo ships transport 95% of world trade by sea, and the world shipping industry is expanding rapidly as countries such as India and China become major players in the global economy. But the cost of shipping or "bunker" fuel has nearly doubled in the past two years, forcing the industry to consider alternatives. At the same time, concerns have grown about climate change and air pollution from shipping.

It is estimated that commercial shipping uses nearly 2 billion barrels of oil a year and emits as much as 800 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, or 4% of the world's man-made emissions. Shipping also releases more sulphur dioxide than all the world's cars and lorries. The industry has so far failed to harness renewable energy, either because conventional fuel has been cheap, or because modern cargoes, mostly carried in containers, need to remain stable on deck or in holds. Sails or spinnakers have been proposed for merchant ships, but these can take up storage space and cause vessels to keel.

The kite system, which has been developed over 10 years with help from the German Government, uses an automatic pilot, is controlled by computers and runs on a metal track around the ship. This allows the "sail" to move around to collect wind and also prevent tilting. But the kite is not designed to replace engines. There are still questions about how the system behaves in high winds and what would happen if the kite landed in the sea. The system could be applied to nearly two out of three boats registered at Lloyd's register of shipping in London.

Green thumbs up

Comment News
02/01/2008 Page: 1

A COLLABORATION between the cities of Armadale and Gosnells and the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale to tackle climate change is achieving positive results, with the three councils collectively saving 45,268 tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2006/07. The results are reported in the latest annual tracking survey of the Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) Australia program, which helps councils to implement greenhouse action.

The program, a joint initiative of the Federal Government and Local Governments for Sustainability, reports each year on the progress of councils in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and the initiatives they are putting in place to achieve their targets. The three councils are partners in the South East Regional Energy Group and established the award-winning regional environmental project Switch Your Thinking to educate the community about practical greenhouse action.

According to the latest report, the City of Gosnells saved 31,244 tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2006/07. Mayor Olwen Searle said initiatives such as the construction of energy efficient buildings like the Agonis, converting utility vehicles to LPG, purchasing a pool blanket for Leisure World and encouraging recycling had been the key to the result. The Switch Your Thinking program and an initiative to capture and flare methane at the old Kelvin Road tip site had also contributed to the greenhouse savings.

The City of Armadale saved 13,700 tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2006/07 through a range of corporate and community initiatives, including purchasing Green Power for council buildings, installing a new efficient air-conditioning system at the administration building and installing a pool blanket at the Armadale Aquatic Centre.

The council commissioned a solar hybrid wind turbine at the Serpentine-Jarrahdale Recreation Centre in Byford, purchased Green Power for the administration building, installed energy-efficient lighting and computers.

Solar energy advocates hit the road

Adelaide Advertiser
02/01/2008 Page: 19

IF you have ever blistered your bare feet on a hot road, you know how asphalt absorbs the sun's rays. Now, a Dutch company is siphoning the heat from roads and parking lots to heat homes and offices. As climate change rises on the international agenda, the system built by civil engineering firm Ooms Avenhorn Holding BV does not look as wacky as it might have 10 years ago when it was first conceived.

solar energy collected from a 180m stretch of road and a small parking lot helps heat a 70-unit, four-story apartment building in the northern village of Avenhorn. An industrial park of 14,864sq in in the nearby city of Hoorn is kept warm in winter with the help of heat stored during the summer from 3344sqm of pavement. The runways of a Dutch air force base in the south supply heat for its hangar. And all that under normally cloudy Dutch skies, with only a few days a year of truly sweltering temperatures.

The Road Energy System is one of the more unusual ways scientists and engineers are trying to harness the power of the sun, the single most plentiful, reliable, accessible and inexhaustible source of renewable energy - radiating to earth more watts in one hour than the world can use in a whole year.

But today, solar power provides just 0.04 per cent of global energy, held back by high production costs and low efficiency rates. Solar advocates say that will change within a few years. Other renewable sources have drawbacks. Not every place is breezy enough for wind turbines; waves and tides are good only for coastal regions; hydroelectricity requires rivers and increasingly objectionable dams; biofuels take up land needed for food crops. "But solar falls everywhere," says Patrick Mazza, of Climate Solutions, a consultancy group in Seattle, Washington.

Compared with other energy sources,"solar comes out as the one with the real heavy lift. It's the one we really need to get at." Ooms' thermal energy system is too expensive and inefficient to solve the world's energy problems. In fact, it was a spin-off of investigations into reducing road maintenance.

A latticework of flexible plastic pipes, held in place by a plastic grid, is covered over by asphalt, which magnifies the sun's thermal power. As cool water in the pipes is heated, it is pumped deep under the ground to natural aquifers where it maintains a fairly constant temperature of about 20C. The heated water can be retrieved months later to keep the road surface ice-free in winter. The same system pumps cold water from a separate subterranean reservoir to cool buildings on hot days.

Though it doubles the cost of construction, the system's first benefits are a longer life for roads and bridges, fewer ice-induced accidents and less need to repave worn surfaces. "We found we were gathering more energy in summer than we needed, so we asked a building contractor what we could do with the extra energy," says commercial manager Lex Van Zaane. The answer was to construct buildings near the tarmac and pipe hot water under the floor. The water usually is not hot enough on its own, and must go through an electricity-powered heat pump for an extra boost.

The installation cost is about twice as much as normal gas heating, but the energy required is about half of what would otherwise be needed. That translates into lower monthly heating bills and a 50 per cent saving in carbon emissions.

Welcome for wind farm

Wimmera Mail Times
02/01/2008 Page: 13

NORTHERN Grampians and Ararat councils have thrown their support behind a second wind farm in the district. RES Australia is preparing a planning permit application for a $250-million wind fans seven kilometres north-east of Ararat. It will partly be in both municipalities. The project will include 50 turbines and produce clean green energy for about 40,000 houses.

Northern Grampians Shire Council chief executive officer Glen Davis said the council supported low-emission power generation. "With two national parks and large areas of crops, pasture, shrubs and forests, Northern Grampians is proud of its ecological contribution in burying carbon, creating carbon credits," he said. Mr Davis said the council supported the Federal Government emphasis on Australia's need to reduce greenhouse emissions.

"The proposed carbon trading regime will be a market in which both low emissions and carbon credits will be economically rewarded," he said. "And the Victorian Government seeks to use wind energy for water desalination plants." Mr Davis said the council also welcomed investments that would create new jobs and enhance employment opportunities. "The shire looks forward to receiving and reviewing the planning application from RES for a wind fame in the shire," he said.

Ararat Rural City chief executive officer Steve Chapple said the council welcomed responsible economic development investment. "Council has recently commenced discussions with RES Australia representatives seeking to investigate the establishment of a new 50-turbine wind farm in our municipality," he said. "The community will be provided ample opportunities to be consulted on the proposal. Our council and community are committed to clean renewable energy initiatives. As with all such wind fans applications of this size and scale, the Minister for Planning has final approval responsibility."

Council to decide on wind farm

Cobden Times
02/01/2008 Page: 1

The fate of a $50 million Newfield wind farm will be decided at Corangamite Shire Council's January meeting. The proposed wind farm would be situated on 300 hectares, eight kilometres inland from Port Campbell. Spanish company Acciona Energy is behind the development, which when fully operational could power 28,000 homes.

The wind farm would have 15, 1.5 megawatt turbines, standing at 110 metres high and be located on a four kilometre ridge of farmland. Acciona Energy submitted a planning permit to council earlier this year. Shire building and statutory planning manager Michelle Grainger said locals were notified about the proposed development.

"The plans were publicly exhibited for five weeks in August and September and we had public meetings with members of the local community:" Council has received 15 submissions from the public about the development. Issues raised included noise, blade glint, landscape impact and the distance the wind farm would be from nearby homes. "We are currently considering issues raised by Acciona's application and the submissions and aim to make a recommendation to council at its January 22 meeting;" Mrs Grainger said.

Investors energised by wind power

Canberra Times
01/01/2008 Page: 13

China's emphasis on global warming and its encouragement of wind energy and other sources of renewable energy have finally made itself felt among Chinese investors.

This was confirmed last week by the spectacular opening of a stockmarket listing by China's biggest maker of wind energy generating equipment. Shares in Xinjiang province based Goldwind Science & Technology soared 264 per cent from their initial public offer price to close at 131 yuan ($A20.55 ) in their first day of trade on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, far exceeding analysts' forecasts of a range of $A14.10-$A15.65.

Smaller Chinese stocks routinely double in their debuts. Demand for Goldwind may have been boosted by a recent pull-back in the overall sharemarket, which has made Chinese investors see initial public offers as the safest path to quick profits. An energy analyst at United Securities in Shenzhen, Yang Jun, said,"The renewable energy theme is getting more popular." Mr Yang added that Goldwind's success and the support of China's Government for green energy could prompt more such firms to list.

The China-Belgium Direct Equity Investment Fund, run by Haitong-Fortis Private Equity Fund Management, a venture between China's Haitong Securities and Belgium's Fortis Fund Management, held 7.2 per cent of Goldwind before the offer, and has undertaken to hold its shares for at least three years. Goldwind, raised $A283 million by selling 10 per cent of its expanded share capital in the offer.

Oriental Securities estimated in a report that Goldwind's net profits might hit $A136 million this year, tip from an estimated $A98 trillion last year, though it also said the stock would start to look overvalued above $A18.80.

A spokesman for Haitong-Fortis said,"An increasing number of power firms in China are seeking to break out of the traditional generating methods into clean and green ways." Traders said Goldwind's debut helped to boost other power-related shares in China last week. Shares in Datang Power, a big generator which relies mainly on coal but is developing its wind energy capacity, surged 8.55 per cent to a two-month high of 18.79 yuan.

Experts from the Global Wind Energy Council said last year China was set to overshoot a 5 gigawatt target set for wind generation installed capacity in 2010 after it hit 2.6GW at the end of 2006. In the past, many of China's firths in high technology and clean energy have chosen to list overseas rather than in China in the hopes of finding more sympathetic investors abroad. Some analysts now feel that the strong demand for Goldwind's shares could encourage such firms to list domestically.

New Allco fund popular

Herald Sun
01/01/2008 Page: 24

ALLCO Finance Group says its new transport and infrastructure fund has proved popular with wholesale investors, attracting $200 million ahead of schedule. Allco General Transport and Infrastructure Fund got a $200 million commitment from a large, unnamed institutional investor, its parent company said. That meant the fund would launch in January - about three months earlier than expected.

Allco is targeting total contributions of up to $450 million for a fund that will invest in ships, aeroplanes, wind farms and other stable assets with reliable cash flow. "This is a fund investing in Allco's core asset classes," Allco said. Allco Finance Group shares were up 44c or 7.64 per cent to $6.20.

Wind farms add green touch to WA's energy mix

Prospect Magazine
01/01/2008 Page: 20

Western Australia's commitment to cleaner, greener energy has been boosted by the recent official opening of another wind farm project at Hopetoun, near the State's south coast, about 175 kilometres west of Esperance. The Hopetoun wind-diesel Project involved the construction of a new power station and a second 600 kilowatt wind turbine for the progressive town. The first turbine was commissioned in 2004.

Verve Energy undertook the $7.5 million project, with Horizon Power investing $1.5 million to connect the new power station to the local distribution network. The project was also supported by the Australian Government, through the Renewable Remote Power Generation Program. This program was funded from diesel excise paid in Western Australia.

The new power station will ensure that Hopetoun has a reliable power supply as it accommodates an increasing number of new houses, as well as commercial and industrial customers. Most of the town's growth stems from the development of BHP Billiton's nearby $2.8 billion Ravensthorpe nickel project. The Hopetoun project follows the commissioning of a $180 million wind farm at Emu Downs about 30 km inland from Cervantes in the State's Mid West region.

The wind farm is a joint venture between Griffin Energy and Stanwell Corporation Limited and comprises 48 turbines that are capable of producing 80 megawatts of electricity for the State's main power grid. That's enough to meet the power requirements of 50,000 WA homes.

There are now nine recognised wind farm sites in Western Australia which collectively produce 198 MW of electricity. Most of the energy is fed into Verve Energy's South West Interconnected System (SWIS) power grid. The State has a total electricity generating capacity of about 6700MW, including about 5300MW for the SWIS grid. Around 3 to 4 per cent of the State's electricity currently comes from renewable energy sources.

The Western Australian Government is on track to meet its renewable energy target of 6 per cent for the SWIS system by 2010, with the announcement of Synergy's decision to purchase power from a new bioenergy venture in Bridgetown. In addition, the State has set further targets for the SWIS of 15 per cent by 2020 and 20 per cent by 2025.

Victoria is currently the only State or Territory with a legislated renewable energy target scheme of 10 per cent by 2016, although the New South Wales parliament is considering a bill for a similar scheme.

China vow on clean energy

Adelaide Advertiser
27/12/2007 Page: 94

CHINA promised yesterday to develop renewable energy for its fast-growing economy. But it also warned coal consumption would grow dramatically and avoided setting binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions. In a report on its energy plans, the Chinese Government announced no new initiatives but said it wanted to curb reliance on oil and gas to drive an economy that is the world's second-biggest energy consumer after the United States.

"China gives top priority to developing renewable energy," said the 44-page report released by the Cabinet's press office. The report said Beijing would promote hydroelectric, nuclear, solar and wind energy, as well natural gas extracted from garbage dumps and coal mines. China's economic boom has sharply lifted its need for imported oil and gas, prompting complaints that Chinese demand is driving record-high world crude prices.

Cape Wind boss hopes for shift in attitudes
December 28, 2007

More than seven years have passed since Jim Gordon proposed a utility-scale wind farm for Nantucket Sound. In that time, Gordon, 54, and his company, Boston-based Cape Wind Associates LLC, have alternatively leapt forward and fallen back in the effort to build 130 wind turbines on Horseshoe Shoal, off Cape Cod's south coast.

In March, for example, the top environmental and energy official in Massachusetts, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles, gave Cape Wind the thumbs up. Then, in October, the Cape Cod Commission denied a permit for the turbines' transmission lines. The next 12 months promise even more regulatory wrangling.

First, there is an important federal review for Cape Wind to survive. The U.S. Minerals Management Service plans to release a long-awaited draft environmental report on Cape Wind early next year. The final version, issued after a public comment period on the draft report, could be out by the end of 2008. Gordon expects the federal report to closely parallel the state's positive environmental impact report issued by Bowles. But even if the federal report is favorable toward Cape Wind, it does not mean an end to the fight, something Gordon readily admits.

"I don't want to be naive about legal challenges," he said in a telephone interview yesterday while on a family vacation in Vermont. But with public opinion polls indicating majority support for the project statewide, he imagines a day when even his detractors will come around. "I'm hoping that even the opponents, diehard opponents, will hopefully have a shift in their attitude and hopefully stop trying to delay and obstruct a project that is needed and enjoys growing support," he said.

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to former Vice President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a sign of support for efforts to combat global warming, Gordon said. And, he sees Cape Wind as one reason for the federal government's efforts to formulate new permitting and leasing regulations for offshore renewable energy projects. The rules are expected to be released in 2008. "I think that our efforts have helped sow the seeds for an industry in the U.S.," he said.

There also will be action on Gordon's project at the state level. Cape Wind has appealed the Cape Cod Commission's denial to the state Energy Facilities Siting Board, which has set a hearing for April 22. The ruling of the siting board, which has previously approved Cape Wind's transmission lines, is of "key importance," said state Rep. Matthew Patrick, D-Falmouth, a proponent of renewable energy projects, including Gordon's turbines. "That will give you an indication of just how important this is to the administration and the state in terms of renewable energy and moving forward with the first offshore wind farm."

Cape Wind supporters see the project as inevitable and current events only propelling it forward. "I think its only a matter of time before it's approved," Patrick said. "Most of my colleagues — including the Senate — are in favor of it," he said. "I think the momentum has shifted already in terms of public opinion."

But Gordon's opponents, including the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, are also looking toward the new year. "The alliance is looking forward to deeper scrutiny of Cape Wind's project either at (the siting board) or in the court system," said Glenn Wattley, chief executive officer for the Hyannis-based group.

Between the appeal to the siting board and the draft report from Minerals Management, the next year could be the "perfect storm" of events in the Cape Wind debate, Wattley said. "The truth will be known in 2008."

Banks urged to invest in world's best interest

Canberra Times
26/12/2007 Page: 12

Carbon capture and underground storage of emissions is a "false solution" to climate change that the world's banks should refuse to finance, according to a new international report. The technology remained unproven, sanctioned the "continued lock in" of fossil fuel use and provided a disincentive to limit greenhouse emissions, financial sector watchdog BankTrack said.

Banks should also refuse to finance emission-intensive activities such as logging tropical forests and "industrial scale" cattle farming, as well as large dams, biofuels and nuclear energy stations. Instead, banks should "vigorously start to compete to become the bank of choice for the clean-teach, renewable energy, and energy efficiency industries", the global network said.

BankTrack's latest report estimates about 20 per cent of global GDP is now affected by "climate events" such as violent stories, floods and droughts, and climate risk is now more important than the risks posed by "interest rates or foreign exchange risk."

Banks must take a leading role in the fight against global warming by supporting investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, insisting commercial real estate clients meet rigorous energy efficiency standards, and offering lower mortgage rates on energy efficient homes, the report said.

Banks should develop climate policies to assess and report on all greenhouse gas emissions associated with their loans, investments and financial services, and establish strict portfolio and business-unit emissions reduction targets. Earlier this year, British economist Sir Nicholas Stern warned the global power sector must reduce its carbon emissions by 60 to 75 per cent by 2050. But banks were continuing to invest in new coal-fired electricity plants and oil and gas exploration, the BankTrack report said.

"Last year, global oil and gas companies spent approximately $US200 billion developing new energy projects, pushing the oil and gas frontier into every remote corner of the world in order to reach hitherto economically unviable reserves... Commercial banks are often key financiers of these highly lucrative undertakings.

"Yet, if banks are to play a positive role in facilitating a transition to a low carbon economy, they must gradually, based on clearly defined timelines and targets, terminate their support for new oil, coal and gas extraction and associated delivery projects such as pipelines and loading stations." Deutsche Bank recently claimed government efforts to tackle climate change were creating a "megatrend" investment opportunity, and has appointed a climate change planning strategist to investigate investment opportunities in renewable energy, water and agriculture.

The German bank has already attracted more than $US8.5 billion into climate change funds which target firms with products that cut greenhouse emissions. "We believe the shift away from a carbon-based economy is a megatrend that will shape the asset management industry for many years," the bank's global head of asset management, Kevin Parker, said.

BankTrack's recommendation that banks steer clear of financing Carbon Capture and Storage could have repercussions for the Federal Government's plans to set interim emissions cuts after Australian National University economist Professor Ross Garnaut delivers his review of climate change policies in June 2008.

During the recent United Nations climate summit in Bali, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said carbon capture had "a rich future" as a solution to curbing Australia's greenhouse emissions. Garnaut has also flagged Carbon Capture and Storage will feature prominently as a solution in the climate change policy review he will present to the Federal Government next year.

During a public lecture in Canberra earlier this month, Garnaut said Australia had "an exceptional endowment of favourable sites for Carbon Capture and Storage" and also suggested Australia's coal industry would benefit from global greenhouse mitigation schemes.

Last year, CSIRO scientists told a Federal Government inquiry that capture and storage of greenhouse emissions from Australia's coal-fired power stations would double the cost of producing electricity and could increase carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by about 30 per cent. They told the inquiry at least 3500 large-scale geosequestration sites across the world would be needed to cut global greenhouse emissions by one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. So far, Australia has only located 100 sites that could be suitable for underground storage of carbon dioxide.