Friday 18 January 2008

The apostles of renewable energy

Western Suburbs Weekly
15/01/2008 Page: 17

WEST Perth engineer Steve Gates hopes to encourage the public and the WA Government to shift to using more renewable power via the Sustainable Energy Now (SEN) lobby group.

"The group came about because of a push for nuclear energy, and we felt that even if it was the last option on earth, you would still be cautious of it, especially when there are so many other options available," he said. "The best weapon against nuclear energy is to prove that you don't need it." Mr Gates, who serves as the SEN chairman, has worked with about 25 fellow volunteer professionals on the Conservation Council affiliated group since May in a bid to spread the word about alternative power resources.

The group draws expertise from engineers, physicists, geo-physicists and computer modellers who all offer their time to the project away from their regular working roles. "Things don't move quite as fast as you'd like them to but we already have a fair bit of research available to open people's eyes about the potential of renewable energy," he said. One of the ways that the group hopes to change public perception is an online simulation set to take shape on the SEN website later this year.

Visit for information about the group.

UK power firms hit as regulator proposes carbon windfall tax
Fri, 18 Jan 08

London, 17 January: Share prices of carbon-exposed UK power generators slipped yesterday, following proposals from the market regulator to claw back windfall profits from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Drax Group, which owns the biggest coal-fired power station in western Europe, fell 5.2%, while Scottish & Southern Energy shares dropped 2.2%. The FTSE 100 was down 1.4% on the day by comparison.

Ofgem has calculated that electricity companies could see windfall profits of £9 billion ($17.7 billion) from the EU ETS over 2008-12. The EU ETS has led to a cost of carbon being added to the price of electricity in Europe, which is currently borne by consumers. However, because generators receive a free allocation of emissions allowances, they are able to profit from the scheme. This windfall should be reclaimed by the government to help alleviate fuel poverty, Ofgem added.

"There's not necessarily any immediate threat of the government implementing Ofgem's proposal to redistribute free carbon benefits to the fuel impoverished, but we believe the general threat this raises of some degree of political intervention will likely weigh on sentiment in the UK utilities sector," said Colin Pollock, UK utilities research analyst at Credit Suisse in London.

"This is a genuine suggestion," said a spokesman for the regulator, adding that it had originally floated the idea in its response to the government's 2006 energy white paper. "We think it is an idea whose time has come." The government was lukewarm in its response, saying that this was just "an Ofgem proposal" and that "decisions on tax policy are a matter for the Chancellor in the context of the Budget and Pre-Budget cycles." A finance ministry spokesman added that increased auctioning of allowances in the EU ETS will help address this issue.

The UK is set to auction 7% of its allowances for Phase II of the EU ETS, and the European Commission is expected next week to propose 100% auctioning for the power sector in Phase III of the scheme, which will run 2013-20.

Ofgem estimates that the EU ETS adds £31 to consumers' electricity bills each year. The government's Renewables Obligation, which requires power suppliers to source an annually-increasing amount of power from renewables, adds a further £10 a year. The Carbon Emissions Reduction Target, which sets energy suppliers targets to reduce household emissions by increasing energy efficiency and microgeneration, is expected to add £38 a year once it comes into force this April.

US wind generating capacity leaps 45% in 2007
Fri, 18 Jan 08

London, 17 January: The US wind energy sector installed 5,244MW of new capacity last year – investing $9 billion, and accounting for a third of all new power-producing capacity in the country in 2007.

"This is the third consecutive year of record-setting growth, establishing wind energy as one of the largest sources of new electricity supply for the country," said Randall Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which compiled the figures released today. "This remarkable and accelerating growth is driven by strong demand, favourable economics and a period of welcome relief from the on-again, off-again, boom-and-bust cycle of the federal production tax credit [PTC] for wind energy," he added.

There is now 16,818MW of wind energy capacity in the US, up 45% across 34 states, on the end of 2006. American wind farms will generate an estimated 48 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy in 2008, just over 1% of US electricity supply, and powering the equivalent of more than 4.5 million homes. AWEA's initial estimates suggest that 2008 could see similar volumes of new capacity installed, but it warns that the PTC – which provides a tax break per-kWh of power from certain types of renewable energy capacity – is set to expire at the end of this year.

"The US wind industry calls on Congress and the president to quickly extend the PTC – the only existing US incentive for wind energy – in order to sustain this remarkable growth along with the manufacturing jobs, fresh economic opportunities, and reduction of global warming pollution that it provides," said Swisher. In terms of wind turbine sales, GE Energy continued to lead, accounting for 45% of new capacity installed. FPL Energy remained top of the list of wind project developers, with 956MW of new development in 2007 alone.

Time for more turbines

Yorke Peninsula Country Times - Kadina
15/01/2008 Page: 1

The first of 42 wind turbines which are to atop the Barunga Ranges is now up and operating. At 3pm on December 23, the massive turbine began generating power into the South Australian grid via the newly constructed sub station at its base, which was completed on December 17.

Eighty metres from the ground to the hub-its two blades having a rotor diameter of 88 metres (one blade is larger than the wing of a jumbo jet)-it now stands as a landmark, visible for kilometres. It is also a boon to farmers who want to discern wind direction. The mighty blades always yaw into the wind, the Suzlon turbines - manufactured in India - being upwind machines. All the foundations for the remaining turbines will be completed this week, and cabling between numbers one and 10 is in place.

The site is a hive of activity with trucks, cranes and utes, and between 50 and 100 personnel working at various times. Towers and blades are likely to be spotted being transported and arriving on-site over the next four months, with the Suzlon turbines expected to be up and fully commissioned by October this year. The 42 turbines will have an 88 megawatt capacity generating enough power for 60,000 homes. They form Stage One of a wind farm that could eventually see 132 turbines dotted across the Hummocks and Barunga Ranges.

Pacific Hydro to free up funds

Australian Financial Review
16/01/2008 Page: 42

Now that the Rudd government has ratified the Kyoto Protocol, committed to an emissions trading system and set a target of 20 percent renewable energy by 2020, Pacific Hydro is to move ahead with plans for developing 1000 megawatts of wind energy at a cost of about $2.5 billion.

Industry Funds Management, which bought Pacific Hydro for $925 million in 2005, is reviewing its capital structure to enable this accelerated expansion. Potentially interested parties include: AGL Energy, Origin Energy and CLP Holdings - owner of TRUEnergy. Germany's Conergy, Spain's Acciona and New Zealand's Meridian Energy are also potential partners.

Liberating the voices of science

16/01/2008 Page: 23

Researchers should be encouraged to share knowledge, not gagged by affiliation, writes Kim Carr

AUSTRALIANS look to our scientists and researchers to contribute to our economic, social and environmental wellbeing and to expand our horizons of knowledge. This inevitably involves controversial interpretations. It is through the contest of ideas that we expand our understanding.

The Labor Government looks to scientific debate as an essential means of resolving difference of opinion about our options as a society. Australia faces a growing number of social, economic and environmental issues marked by their intractability and the need for long-term, collaborative action to address them. The reality of climate change, environmental degradation, the need to boost productivity, address skill shortages and the impact of globalisation are just a few of the more important issues.

Governments are elected with the responsibility to govern: to develop and implement policies and programs that address the challenges we face. This means governments must continually make choices between competing policy options. The Rudd Government looks to its science and research agencies to provide cutting-edge scientific research from which policy can be formulated. The Government recognises that it carries the responsibility for such policy formulation and is accountable to parliament and the people.

In this context, it is essential to communicate new ideas and to infuse public debate with the best research and new knowledge. Public debate must be as well informed as possible and those who have expertise in the areas under debate must be able to contribute. This means that researchers working in our universities and public research agencies must be and must be allowed to be active participants in such debates. We need to reinvigorate the concept of the public intellectual. We need to ensure that public communication is as important as professional discourse. Public concern and questioning from the Labor Party at Senate Estimates hearings about the gagging of its scientists led the CSIRO in 2006 to review its then-restrictive policy on public comment by CSIRO staff.

The resulting revised policy restored some fundamental principles: CSIRO scientists "are encouraged to communicate the outcomes and implications of their scientific research and, where relevant, policy options and scenarios stemming from their scientific findings." And again: "In a world of rapidly evolving public debate and discourse, a national research agency such as CSIRO should discharge its public role by being readily and rapidly available to provide information on the most up-to-date science and technology and its implications for the nation." I support and commend this policy position, and believe we can do better.

It is not good enough to allow scientists and other researchers to comment on matters of public interest but then to quarantine them from contentious issues. As is often the case, it is in matters of contention and sharp debate that their knowledge and expertise is most valuable. Their right to speak out and to represent their research or discoveries must be protected. The Rudd Government has done away with the contractual constraints on the right of NGOs to criticise government policy without fear that they will lose public funding. In a parallel context, the same must hold true for our public sector researchers. Our public research agencies, by and large, lack any formal recognition of the rights of their research staff to legitimate freedom of expression.

In the absence of codification of those rights, is it any wonder that in recent years accusations of political interference by the former Howard government have involved organisations as disparate as the Australian Research Council, the CSIRO and the National Museum of Australia? The Rudd Government is committed to creating a charter (akin to that of the ABC) for public research agencies, including the CSIRO, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

These charters will identify and guarantee the responsibilities and obligations of each organisation. They will enshrine not only the right, but the obligation, of scientists and other researchers to participate in public research debates. As an initial step, I will be consulting with public research agencies on developing a policy addressing these issues. The principles guiding such a policy will include: Encouragement of debate on scientific and other research issues of public interest. Support for the independence and integrity of public research agencies.

Recognition that the Government remains responsible for the articulation, formulation and implementation of government policy. Support for the open communication, dissemination of information and debate about the results of scientific, technical and social research. Recognition that researchers are encouraged to engage in such communication and debate. The Rudd Government's commitment to the independence of all researchers as they share knowledge and participate in public debate is not an isolated commitment. The Government also has taken decisive action to restore the independence of the Australian Research Council.

The creation of' an independent advisory council for the ARC has been well received by the research sector, and I have further guaranteed the independence and integrity of the ARC through measures for greater transparency in decision-making and through my commitment to provide a public explanation should any grants he rejected. These actions, both taken and proposed reflect the principles of freedom of expression and the right of scientists and any other researchers to participate in public debate.

Senator Kim Carr is the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

Carbon land deal spur

North Queensland Register
17/01/2008 Page: 3

THE big-money future of carbon trading in rural Australia may be spelled out by the financial future of two of the smallest cattle stations in the Top End. Pastoralist Peter Camm has reportedly been offered $80 million for La Belle Downs and Welltree Stations on the coastal fringe of the Timor Sea, 120km south-west of Darwin. The adjoining properties cover a total of 916 square kilometres, and carry about 22,000 cattle.

The Murdoch-owned Northern Territory News has quoted Mr Camm, 58, as saying he had been offered $80 million for both stations, but that the sale had not yet gone through. The NT News reported its journalists had been told the stations were under offer at a premium price by an international investment company, with the 916 square kilometers to be used as carbon emission trade-offs for industrial projects.

Rumors circulating in Darwin's financial circles last week indicated that the likely buyer is the merchant bank, Babcock and Brown, which is already a player in the emerging carbon trading market. Mr Camm bought La Belle Downs from Territory cattle identity Henry Townsend in 2000 for $11 million, and the Camm family trust paid Wallco Cattle Company principle John Quintana $13.5 million for Welltree in 2005.

The NT News quoted cattle industry sources saying the two stations would normally sell for about $30 million, and that if the rumors are true, the carbon traders could distort the market if they are prepared to pay a $50 million premium for less than 1000sq km of cattle country. The news comes as merchant banks scrambled to acquire `green' property and investment portfolios to prepare for Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's plans to legislate new mandatory renewal energy targets within 400 days of the 2007 election, and develop a domestic carbon emissions trading scheme.

Last month, Transfield Services Infrastructure, which owns power stations, bought five wind farms from the Queensland Government for $470 million. Origin Energy has bought a 30 percent stake in a geothermal company in South Australia, and this month, Macquarie Bank joined forces with Germany company Epuron to build the largest wind farm in Australia at Broken Hill, NSW.

In talking to the NT News, Mr Camm emphasised that he had not sold his stations yet, and denied all knowledge of the carbon trade. "I don't even know what a carbon emission trade-off means," he said. In 2005, the NT Government compulsorily acquired land the build a road through La Belle Downs following confrontations between Mr Camm and people crossing his property.

Wednesday 16 January 2008

People line up to spell out clean energy target

Bega District News
11/01/2008 Page: 15

MORE than 200 people turned out on Sunday, December 30, at Potato Point in the Eurobodalla Shire to form a human sign spelling out the community targets of 50/50 by 2020.

50/50 by 2020 translates to a 50 per cent reduction in energy consumption and the use of 50 per cent renewable energy by the year 2020. The targets set firm goals for participating shire communities to create action on the most pressing issue of our time, climate change. The crowd was there to express their concerns about climate change and re-enforce that 50/50 by 2020 is a community target that requires every member of the community to participate.

The sign was organised by the Beachcomber Holiday Park at Potato Point. The owners not only organised the sign but are leaders themselves in climate change. The park is completely solar powered, drinking water for patrons is collected on site and the waste water system uses plant material to process the effluent. The park has three new cabins that are 5-star energy rated and include solar hot water. The rest of the park will have solar hot water in the very near future.

2020 is now just 12 years away and Clean Energy for Eternity, along with the community, intends to make great steps this year to meet the targets. 2008 is the year Clean Energy for Eternity intends to turn the first sod of the proposed 10ha solar farm. This local project will not only create significant local investment but jobs in construction and maintenance.

CEFE also has a local wind farm survey to follow up. These projects will be co-ordinated by a community-owned company with corporate partners. CEFE has a host of other projects in energy efficiency and renewable energy, including Lifesaving Energy.

Tuesday 15 January 2008

Rock-solid energy

Sunday Tasmanian
13/01/2008 Page: 67

POWER stations conjure up images of great hulking buildings belching out smoke and noise. But what if a power station could be the size of a shed, sitting alongside residential houses and releasing no emissions? The power it draws is at the mercy of neither sun nor wind and, unlike hydro electricity, it is drought-proof.

Experts say it could one day compete with coal-fired power stations and eliminate the need for nuclear reactors. It is not hard to see why geothermal or "hot rock" energy was for years considered the product of overactive imaginations. Technical director of Victorian-based consultancy Hot Dry Rocks Graeme Beardsmore first tried to rouse interest in Tasmania's promising geothermal resource four years ago.

"I am a bit of a fan for geothermal in Tasmania - the geology is good, the infrastructure is good and you have got Basslink across to the mainland so you can sell the power for a reasonable price," Mr Beardsmore said. "The government and industry people smiled and nodded, but at that stage they thought geothermal was pie in the sky and not serious at all." But late last year residents of the German city of Landau proved the elaborate promises of the technology were more than hot air when they became the first commercial users of hot rock energy.

In theory the concept is simple. Two holes are drilled up to 5km into rocks (usually granite) that hold heat from the earth's core. Water is injected down the first hole and becomes superheated to temperatures between 150 to 250 degrees as it passes through fractures in the hot rock before rising from the second hole as steam. The steam either drives a turbine directly or is used to boil a secondary liquid before being condensed and injected back underground to form a closed loop.

In a perfect system the water used can be recirculated indefinitely. Without careful management the heat reserves in the rocks can be temporarily exhausted. "But there is no risk of cooling the earth's core, which you hear from panic merchants occasionally," Mr Beardsmore said.

After a slow start, Australia isn't far behind Landau in proving hot rock energy is viable. Industry leader Geodynamics plans to start producing demonstration power in the Cooper Basin in outback South Australia by the middle of this year. In the past five years 32 companies (including three in Tasmania) have started looking for suitable geothermal resources. The Energy Supply Association of Australia estimates that by 2030 almost 7 per cent of Australia's electricity will be sourced from hot rocks.

But with massive resources available underground, experts have their sights set on the energy industry's big guns. "We don't see ourselves as competing with solar, wind or biofuels. Our competitors are clean coal and nuclear and natural gas - the other potential base load providers of clean energy," Mr Beardsmore said. geothermal is the only renewable energy source capable of supplying constant baseload power to keep cities and towns running 24 hours a day.

For Tasmanian-based KUTh Energy, the granite boulders at Bicheno and the iconic Hazards at Freycinet are monuments of promise to geothermal energy. It is that granite, buried deep underground in their nearby tenements, from which they hope to produce up to 200 megawatts of energy. KUTh general manager Malcolm Ward estimates it will take five years and cost at least $35 million to build a five megawatt pilot power station in Tasmania.

"Geothermal is more expensive than existing dirty coal and gas, but if a carbon tax is put on them, their costs will go up, and geothermal, over the long run, will be at least competitive and maybe even cheaper than fossil fuels." Tasmania's major advantage is that its high-voltage power network is easily accessible from anywhere in the state.

As the technology matures, state and federal governments are starting to take notice of the hot rock industry. But it is the enthusiastic stock market and environmentally conscious mum and dad investors that has secured the future for hot rock energy with $800 million in private investment. Hot Dry Rocks geologist Ben Waining said: "A lot of it is being driven by people's awareness of climate change and they are really willing to put their money where their beliefs are. You can see that in Tasmania."

Monday 14 January 2008

Winds of change sweep world

West Australian
11/01/2008 Page: 19

Climate change is rewriting dramatically the rules for business, investors and consumers worldwide, affecting more than $100 billion in annual capital flows, a new report says. Global spending on renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro and geothermal leapt 27 per cent to an estimated $66 billion last year, after a 33 per cent jump in 2006, according to the annual Worldwatch Institute State of the World report.

It says that investment in carbon trading is growing even faster, nearly tripling in 2006 to an estimated $30 billion. In Australia, a surge in corporate spending on energy technology is expected as the Labor Government promotes its target of 20 per cent of the nation's electricity coming from renewable sources by 2020. It has pledged a national carbon trading system from 2010, possibly requiring businesses to pay for emission permits.

Launching the report, which is in its 25th year, the president of Worldwatch, Chris Flavin, said that the world had woken up to the environmental challenges facing it and was moving towards a vibrant, sustainable economy. Yale University environmental law professor Daniel Esty said there was a sea change in business attitudes towards the environment. Global corporations such as General Electric, Toyota and Dow were embracing clean technology, not because they were "do-gooders" but because the bottom line was right, he said.

According to World Bank data, 39 countries experienced a drop in wealth of at least 5 per cent when taking environmental damage - unsustainable forestry, carbon emissions, depletion of non-renewable resources - into account. It coincided with clean technology growing rapidly, by 78 per cent to nearly $3 billion in 2006, to be the third-biggest area of venture capital investment behind the internet and biotechnology.

The report says more needs to be done, calling for a government policy overhaul to steer investment away from fossil fuels and towards sustainable practices. It was revealed this week that Victoria's annual energy-related greenhouse emissions had surged nearly 30 per cent since 1990 because of its reliance on brown-coal power stations.

"We have the tools today to steer the global economy on to a sustainable path," the report says. "The task now is to bring them together and scale them up so that they become the norm across today's economies." The report praises Australia for the Howard government policy of replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, which are four times as efficient.

Japan is expected to pledge $11.35 billion over the next five years to help developing countries such as China and India combat the effects of global warming. The move, reported in the Nikkei business daily, comes after Japan was criticised by environmentalists for arguing against compulsory greenhouse emission reduction targets at the climate change summit in Bali.

Manager for Solar Cities

Centralian Advocate
11/01/2008 Page: 5

A MANAGER has been found to take charge of Alice Springs' $40m Solar Cities project. Brian Elmer from Queensland's Environment Protection Agency was announced yesterday as the project's general manager. Alice Springs Solar Cities Consortium selected Mr Elmer because of his previous work developing and promoting renewable energies in Australia and Scotland.

Mr Elmer says he believes the project is a world first for measuring solar power use over an entire town. He said: "It's one of the best jobs to have in renewables at Australia at the moment. "On a concentrated city-wide basis we can measure supply and demand, emissions and build local awareness." Mr Elmer begins work in Alice Springs on January 28 organising next month's project launch.

He said: "Climate change is starting to be felt on the local level. "Australia is one of the sunniest countries in the world, but the uptake of solar power here is quite low compared to other countries. "But I'm surprised in Alice Springs every second house it seems has a solar hot water system." The consortium aims to have 225 photovoltaic systems and 1000 hot water systems installed across Alice Springs over the next six years. Plans for the project's solar power station - to be located beside Power and Water's sewerage ponds at Ilparpa - are now on exhibition at the Department of Planning and Infrastructure's Alice Plaza offices for public comment.

Heatwave cash bonanza: As temps rise, Hydro buys low, sells high

Hobart Mercury
12/01/2008 Page: 16

Tasmania capitalised on Victoria's new year heatwave yesterday exporting power at premium prices as electricity consumption surged to record levels because of the use of air conditioners. On Thursday when the mercury climbed to 40C in Melbourne, Hydro exported power at prices up to $1616 a megawatt hour. Hydro's trading of electricity via the undersea cable Basslink came despite Hydro storages being at their lowest January levels since 2002.

Energy storage is 3754 gigawatt hours: it was 6365GWh in January 2006. Hydro exported electricity between 11.30am and 7pm on Thursday and imported overnight between 7pm Thursday and 9am yesterday. Hydro also sold power into the National Electricity Grid between 9am and 1pm yesterday. When a cool change hit Melbourne about 1pm the switch was flicked and Tasmania imported power between 1pm and 4pm.

Basslink spokesman Matt Mahon said that the undersea connector had been operating at full capacity of 630 megawatts on Thursday afternoon. Hydro spokeswoman Helen Brain said that the flexibility allowed by Basslink was important to Hydro. "Hydro Tasmania is able to import energy during off-peak periods to sustain our storages and export when prices are very high as they have been over the past two days." she said. "It allows us to generate income back into the business and balance some of the cost of imports." The Hydro yesterday released figures for 2007 that show it generated income despite being a net importer of electricity.

While the import of 1887 gigawatt hours cost $78.7 million the export of 594 GWh brought revenue of $86.6 million. The cheaper average price of imported power ($41.68 per GWh compared with the average exported price of $145.76 per GWh) gave a profit of nearly $8 million. Hydro used Bell Bay gas-fired power station and wind turbines at Woolnorth to protect water storages. In 2006-07 electricity imports cost Hydro $65 million on top of the $92 million annual Basslink fee.

Denmark powers up, water down

Farm Weekly
10/01/2008 Page: 144

TWO significant issues facing communities in the Denmark-Walpole region are the adequate supplies of power and water. For some time the supply of these essential utilities has been under threat with power fluctuations and severe water restrictions becoming a regular inconvenience. The uniform supply of power to a community is of vital importance and the success of businesses and tourist ventures in the region are affected substantially by an irregular or insufficient power supply.

Denmark Shire president Kim Barrow said in April last year that the towns have the equivalent of a Third World power supply after prolonged blackouts cost local businesses thousands of dollars in lost trade during the Easter holiday weekend. Energy Minister Francis Logan refuted the claim but the State Government moved quickly to overcome the problem.

Western Power committed to spend $14 million in Denmark and Walpole in five years from May last year to improve electricity supply to the area starting with $2 million to install voltage regulators at Torbay and Tingledale and a new line section at the Albany end of the lines to Denmark and Walpole. Unless power demands rise greatly in five years another $10m will be spent on a new 22kV line to Denmark by 2012.

Other improvements from the Regional Power Improvement Scheme include replacing wood poles and pole top equipment coated with silicon to reduce pole top fires. Western Power and the Government were also criticised by the Denmark Chamber of Commerce in 2007 for a failure to develop a new policy on charges for new connections in outlying areas. The utility said the fault lay with the Government which was debating a subsidy for remote users.

After waiting for about eight months, Denmark and Walpole residents were finally able to apply for a new power connection in early September, with the approval process taking between four to six weeks. About 30 applications had been put on hold while the Government decision was being debated. But its planning for sustainable power to the area has identified the value of electricity generated by wind farms.

The success of the Albany wind farm which provides, on average, about 75pc of the city's power, encouraged the establishment of the Denmark Community Wind Farm Project. Considerable community debate has occurred but a chosen site at Wilson Head will minimise visual and noise impact for residents and limit environmental disturbance while also being a particularly effective site because of regular winds. Wilson Head's proximity to an existing high voltage power line will reduce the cost of supplying power to the grid.

Although the existing infrastructure's capacity has meant a reduction in the size of the original windfarm it is envisaged it could provide about 55pc of the current power consumption of the area while also enabling a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. "Land vesting agreements and contracts to supply power between the Denmark Community Wind Farm and the State Government are still to be finalised;" Denmark Community Wind Farm chairman Craig Chappelle said.

"We will then order the turbines from the European suppliers, which could take between 18 months and two years to be supplied, especially in light of the substantial increase of windfarms across Europe." The windfarm has the capacity to expand its power supply which is an advantage with the Denmark area developing at its current rate and the resulting construction of new community services.

"The building of a new hospital, due for completion in September 2008, will provide an increase in aged care beds and a larger facility for ancillary health services," Mr Barrow said. "Coupled with other independent aged care facilities being developed currently, the town will be able retain a greater proportion of elderly residents who previously were forced to move away." A number of subdivisions, both private and Government backed, will provide the opportunities for more people to move into the area.

These improvements, as well as a steady increase in tourism ventures such as cellar door sales and restaurant facilities at many of the region's wineries, will also result in an increase in employment. Although in a high rainfall region, Denmark has experienced several dry years and the water supply is reaching a crisis point with the town dam below 30pc capacity and level five water restrictions.

UK Government backs new N-power stations

West Australian
11/01/2008 Page: 24

Britain gave the green light to a new generation of nuclear energy stations yesterday, ending years of uncertainty over its energy plans and adding momentum to atomic energy's worldwide renaissance. "The Government believes that new nuclear energy stations should have a role to play in this country's future energy mix alongside other low-carbon sources," Business Secretary John Hutton told Parliament.

He also published an Energy Bill signalling greater deployment of renewable energy and increased investment in Carbon Capture and Storage as well as offshore gas infrastructure. "It would be in the public interest to allow energy companies the option of investing in new nuclear energy stations and that the Government should take active steps to open up the way to the construction of nuclear energy stations," he said.

"It will be for energy companies to fund, develop and build nuclear energy stations in the UK, including meeting the full costs of decommissioning and their full share of waste management costs," Mr Hutton said. The long-awaited but expected announcement was criticised by environmental campaigners, who are threatening legal action.

Nuclear energy stations produce about 20 per cent of the country's electricity but all but one are due to close by 2023. Nuclear energy has long been a controversial issue, unpopular with many in the governing Labour Party. In 2006, then-prime minister Tony Blair signalled his support for nuclear energy, saying it was crucial to guaranteeing Britain's energy supplies. The Government has promised to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 60 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050. It sees nuclear energy as part of a mix of clean and renewable energy sources that includes wave and wind energy.

Need to tackle climate change reinforced

Northern Times
11/01/2008 Page: 7

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology's Annual Australian Climate Statement, released last week, reinforces the need to tackle climate change, said the Minister for Climate Change and Water Penny Wong.

The statement revealed that:
  • 2007 was the sixth hottest year on record in Australia,
  • 2007 was the hottest year on record in the Murray Darling basin, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, and
  • South-east Australia has now missed out on the equivalent of an average year's rainfall over the past 11 years, and under the current drought, water storages have had record low inflows.
The statement also revealed that 16 of the last 18 years have been warmer than the long-term average in Australia. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology's picture of the Australian climate during 2007 was consistent with the trends outlined in the 2007 global climate change science assessment that was released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Ms Wong said the statement provided valuable evidence that would inform the Government's response to climate change.

"This statement reinforces the Rudd Government's approach in making climate change a top priority," said Ms Wong. "The first act of the Rudd Government was to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. "This new leadership continued at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, where Australia played a constructive role in negotiations on the `Bali Roadmap'. "This year the Government will be working on a National Emissions Trading Scheme and increasing the uptake of renewable energy. "All these efforts demonstrate the Rudd Government's determination to do its bit in the global challenge to tackle climate change.

Ms Wong congratulated the Australian Bureau of Meteorology for their work. "For 100 years, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has served Australians with important research and analysis on our climate, and providing weather forecasts. I thank the staff and volunteers of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology for their work and look forward to their ongoing contribution to the job of tackling climate change."