Friday 25 January 2008

Wind studies almost complete: Pamada

Hunter Valley News
16/01/2008 Page: 3

WINDFARM proponents, Pamada confirmed they were well into environmental investigations for the proposed Scone site yesterday afternoon. Pamada spokesperson, Mark Dixon said there had been delays due to the detailed nature of the requirements of the Department of Planning. "Pamada are currently finalising these studies for submission to the Department of Planning early this year," Mr Dixon said.

Once these studies have been submitted, the Department of Planning will seek comments from government departments and the community. Mr Dixon said the timeframe for completion of environmental studies had been extended to allow for further seasonal monitoring in the areas of flora, fauna and noise, along with additional research into some other areas worthy of investigation. He said the company was hopeful the project would still progress.

"Our studies to date show that the project is ideally sited for the type and mix of renewable energy technologies that are proposed, comprising wind, mini-hydro and solar," he said. In relation to concerns about noise, shadow flicker and loss of amenity, Mr Dixon said the company would address these issues in the report that will go to the department.

He refuted the Upper Hunter Landscape Guardian's claim that they had not been engaged. "We have been very active in engaging the community since a very early stage of the project (beginning in late 2006). We have received concerns from residents regarding impacts from the project and used these in the assessment process. "We understand the community is often concerned, especially when there is little information for them to fully appreciate the benefits and impacts of the project. "It doesn't help however when members of the community misrepresent the impacts of the project," he said.

He said Pamada would continue to consult the community, either through direct face-to face meetings, via telephone or email. Mr Dixon also confirmed Pamada had engaged Key Insights to undertake a social impact assessment and a community consultation review for the project. An information day will be held in February which will give residents a further opportunity to discuss the benefits and impacts of the project.

Wind Park members recognised

Hepburn Shire Advocate
23/01/2008 Page: 6

THE board of Hepburn Community Wind Park Co-operative Ltd has announced it will present 24 of its foundation members with a certificate. The certificates mark their role in the establishment of the body that is overseeing the construction and management of Australia's first community-owned wind farm at Leonard's Hill.

Director and deputy chairperson Koos Hulst said the certificates also recognised the foundation members for their longstanding commitment to the cooperative and the project. "We firmly believe that the foundation members deserve special recognition for putting up their hands so early in the process," Mr Hulst said. "We wanted to recognise the sheer volume of volunteer hours that these people have given, and continue to give, to this worthwhile project," he said.

Certificate recipient and board member Tracey O'Neill said she was delighted after receiving her certificate. "It's great to be recognised for what you're doing but the most important thing is to get what you set out to achieve," Ms O'Neill said. "It's great being part of this community project. We set out to achieve something that hadn't been done in this country and we've done it. Hepburn should be proud that we'll be the first town in Australia to have a community owned wind farm," she said.

Mr Hulst said said Ms O'Neill was a strong supporter of the community. "As president of the Daylesford Kindergarten in 2006, board member of the Mineral Springs Pre-School Association, the Daylesford Pre-school committee and the education board of St Michael's School in 2007, and secretary of the Daylesford and District Business Group, Tracey knows what community work means," Mr Hulst said.

The Hepburn Community Wind Park Co-operative Ltd is the official owner and manager of the Hepburn Wind Park, which has passed all approval and appeal processes and is about to embark on the capital raising stage of the project.

EU faces costs of emissions reduction

Canberra Times
23/01/2008 Page: 11

European Union plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions could cost at least 60 billion euros ($A100 billion) a year, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said yesterday. "Taking action is not cost-free, although we think we can limit the cost of our proposals to around 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product," he said, according to remarks prepared for delivery in London. Mr Barroso's total estimate, which will apply for the next 12 years, counts on the 27 EU nations undertaking all the commission's recommendations, in a package to be unveiled today, in an extremely cost-efficient manner.

The bill for reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, compared with 1990 levels - the baseline goal of EU leaders - was previously estimated to be 1 per cent of European gross domestic product, or $A200 billion a year. EU Leaders agreed in march last year that this target was the best way to contain global warming to less than two degrees above preindustrial levels, as recommended by UN climate experts.

On the positive side, Mr Barroso said,"Our proposals should reduce Europe's reliance on imported gas and oil by around 50 billion euros [$A83.2 billion] by 2020. These are figures with a real impact on our growth and prosperity." The cost of inaction, as calculated by one of his key climate advisers,"could even approach 20 per cent of GDP. The longer we delay, the higher the costs of adaptation and mitigation." The commission's package aims to strengthen the EU's emissions trading system, set targets for renewable energy use and review rules on national aid for environmental purposes.

When the bloc's leaders set their goals last year, they offered to go 10 per cent better than their own target, cutting emissions by 30 per cent over the same period it others were prepared to match it, as an incentive to big polluters. They also set a binding target for renewable energy to provide 20 per cent of Europe's needs by 2020, compared with 8.5 per cent currently, and agreed that this should be achieved by some countries doing more than others. But less than a year later, many EU countries have criticised the package they had asked the commission to draw tip to reach their goals as either being too costly or too damaging to certain sectors.

Mr Barroso said he hoped reaction today would be positive,"as we have worked closely with them in its formulation, and, I stress again, we are following the lines set unanimously by the EU's political leaders." "Europe must set the right policies in place to continue to set the pace on climate change," he said. "Procrastination is no longer an option for anyone."

States continue huge sale of energy assets

Courier Mail
23/01/2008 Page: 70

THE Queensland Government last year started privatising its energy assets by selling its retail assets for almost $3 billion. It has just sold its wind farms to Transfield Services Infrastructure Funds for $460 million and its Enertrade gas supply business to AGL and Arrow Energy for $268 million. There is speculation it will sell its generation assets, which include CS Energy, Stanwell and Tarong Energy.

The NSW Government has held talks with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission as it pushes ahead with a $15 billion-plus partial privatisation of the electricity industry. The privatisation will involve the sale of the retail arms of EnergyAustralia, Integral Energy and Country Energy, and the long-term lease of generators Macquarie Generation, Delta Electricity and Eraring Energy.

The ACCC has previously voiced concern about big conglomerates forming in the energy sector.

Origin adds wind power to supply portfolio

23/01/2008 Page: 35

AUSTRALIA'S second largest energy retailer, Origin Energy, is to build its first owned and operated wind energy electricity-generating station in response to rising demand for green energy. Origin Energy, which already buys about 180 megawatts of electricity generated by third-party wind energy operators, has decided to balance its supply portfolio by direct investment in wind energy.

In a deal with German renewables and wind generation facility developer Epuron Pty Ltd, Origin Energy will pay for a 30mW wind energy station at Cullerin Range about 30km from the NSW city of Goulburn. This will involve an initial investment of between $75 million and $90 million and will be Origin Energy's first generation investment of any type in NSW. Origin Energy has interests in a total of 870mW of installed capacity in Australia, virtually all of which is gas-fired peaking plant.

Origin Energy has also secured development rights to two more 30mW Epuron Pty Ltd projects in NSW, at Conroy's Gap near Yass and at Snowy Plains near Berridale. It has also entered a strategic relationship with Epuron Pty Ltd, with an option for another 500mW of Epuron Pty Ltd sites. The company's chief operating officer, Karen Moses, said yesterday Origin Energy now had an option over a strategic and economically competitive pipe line of wind projects that Epuron Pty Ltd had identified, mainly in NSW.

The Epuron Pty Ltd deal means Origin Energy will build its own wind facilities for the first time, deepening its integration in this area,'' she said. "It provides Origin Energy with greater flexibility in managing our carbon, retail and generation portfolios.'' In addition to meeting the regulatory requirements for renewable energy the new federal Government has a 2020 target of 20 per cent renewables the announcement supported Origin Energy's 270,000 customers who chose to buy green electricity, Ms Moses said. This is about 9 per cent of Origin Energy's customer base.

Epuron Pty Ltd Australia executive director Andrew Durran said the three sites Origin Energy had rights to were among the best in NSW, with excellent wind resources and access to existing powerlines. When fully operational next year, the Cullerin Range plant, involving 15 wind turbines generating up to 30mW, would save more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon annually and supply up to 15,000 homes, he said.

In January last year, Epuron Pty Ltd and Macquarie Capital signed an agreement to develop finance and construct Australia's biggest wind farm, a 1000mW peak capacity plant at Silverton near Broken Hill in western NSW. The Silverton project is not part of the new relationship between Origin Energy and Epuron Pty Ltd.

Wednesday 23 January 2008

Tassie's nous that roared

Sunday Tasmanian
20/01/2008 Page: 8

TASMANIAN organisation Roaring 40s took centre stage in Los Angeles at a renewable energy and climate change conference. Managing director Mark Kelleher was a guest speaker at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade-sponsored Road to Renewable Energy and Climate Change Symposium.

Mr Kelleher said the highly successful renewable energy initiatives of the company's hydro power-wind program were used as a case study to show how global pacesetters are using renewable technologies to replace fossil fuels. The state delegation, in the US as part of Australia Week 2008, was also able to network with symposium attendees, further exploring promotional and business opportunities.

Origin Energy To Buy Three Wind Power Projects From Epuron

Dow Jones Newswires
22/01/2008 Business & Finance

MELBOURNE (Dow Jones)--Origin Energy Ltd. (ORG.AU) said Tuesday it will buy the rights to develop three wind farms in the Australian state of New South Wales from wind generation developer Epuron for an undisclosed sum. Origin Energy said it will acquire the rights for three projects with up to 590 megawatts of generating capacity, including the Cullerin project west of Goulburn, which is expected to start commissioning in 2009.

The pair have also entered into a strategic relationship with an option for another 500 megawatts of Epuron wind generation sites. "Origin Energy now has the option over a strategic and economically competitive pipeline of wind projects, which Epuron has identified, mainly in NSW," Origin Energy Chief Operating Officer Karen Moses said in a statement.

High oil price puts wind back in a ship's sail

22/01/2008 Page: 22

THE global shipping industry will be watching closely this week as the MV Beluga SkySails becomes the first modern cargo ship to set sail on a journey across the Atlantic Ocean. The return of wind power to the shipping industry, albeit a hi-tech 21st-century version, was due, largely, to the near-doubling of the oil price to almost $US100 a barrel over the past year, eating into the profits of many shipping companies. But there was also growing pressure on the industry to reduce the pollution it had pumped into the atmosphere.

The first long voyage test of the system, called SkySails, would begin today, when the 10,000-tonne Beluga loaded its cargo of heavy manufacturing equipment in Bremen, Germany, and set out on a 14-day voyage to Venezuela. It was also planning to deploy SkySail on its return trip to Europe. Verena Frank, spokeswoman for German cargo-shipper Beluga Group, said she expected savings of between 10 and 20 per cent in fuel consumption, worth about $US2000 ($2280) per sailing day at current prices. The sail system, which costs about 500,0000 ($832,000), should pay for itself within three to five years, she said.

A SkySail looked very different from the sheets of canvas and tall wooden masts that propelled Christopher Columbus to the Americas across the Atlantic more than 500 years ago. It resembled the canopy of a paraglider and flew high above a ship at the end of a long cable. Where the pilot of a paraglider would sit is a hi-tech control pod connected to a computerised autopilot that could perform sophisticated manoeuvres to maximise the capture of wind power. SkySail's automatic launch system deployed the sail in less than 20 minutes.

While the great merchant clippers of the 19th century would have taken 40 crew members to unfurl and tend sails during a voyage, Stephan Wrage, chief executive of SkySails AG (and designer of the system), said it required no additional personnel and only a few days training for an existing crew. He said that because the SkySail flew between 100 and 300 metres above the surface, where winds were stronger and more stable, it was more effective at capturing wind power than a traditional sail.

A single 800sqm SkySail could achieve the same propulsion as a traditional four-malted ship with 3000sqm of sail. Mr Wrage said these factors should enable the SkySail, which operated in tandem with the ship's engines, to produce about 50 per cent of the thrust a ship needed. Even allowing for less-than-perfect wind conditions, annual fuel and emissions savings of between 10 per cent and 35 per cent should be achievable, he said. It was this combination of economic and environmental benefits that had brought Beluga Shipping into the project, Ms Frank said.

Rising crude-oil prices had driven the price of most marine fuels up fourfold since 2002, a cost some ship owners had struggled to pass on to customers. "High fuel prices aren't making running ships unprofitable, but yes, it's eating into profit margins," said Bill Box, spokesman for the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, or Intertanko. But despite this, SkySails was by no means a surefire winner.

"Ship owners are very conservative and unless something is put down as a rule or regulation they are unlikely to put any effort into being innovative," said Kamar Zaman, director of technical services at London based maritime consultancy Drewry. The SkySail system was not suitable for the biggest container ships or tankers, because they travelled too fast, but Mr Wrage said about 60,000 ships worldwide were suitable. "Our plans are to equip 1500 ships by 2015," he said.

Tuesday 22 January 2008

Renewed focus on clean energy

Burnie Advocate
17/01/2008 Page: 22

THE future is looking bright for the renewable energy sector. Climate change has been a dominant topic in national and international government and during the election campaign it was a highly talked about issue. The Labor party promised to promote renewable energy and, now elected, it is following through.

Roaring 40s general counsel Matthew Groom said a series of Federal Government initiatives were a direct response to a growing awareness in the public. Climate change has become an issue for people generally." he said. Mr Groom said the initiatives in place were the expansion of renewable energy schemes, emissions trading and the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. "That collection of initiatives will have an impact on climate change in Australia," he said.

Roaring 40s works nationally and internationally, including the Woolnorth Wind Farm in North-West Tasmania. Mr Groom said these initiatives did not affect Woolnorth specifically but assured the future for other projects. The next Tasmanian project for the company is Musselroe in the North East.

Mr Groom said the government's initiatives made the project more certain. It would have a similar effect on a project it was planning in South Australia. "The potential impact for a company like ours is really quite broad. "We're very confident for the future of renewable energy." Roaring 40s was not looking to expand the Woolnorth farm. Mr Groom said the farm was currently one of the most successful in the world. 'We're very proud of Woolnorth and are happy as is."

Power talks to continue

Eyre Peninsula Tribune
17/01/2008 Page: 3

The District Council of Franklin Harbour is calling for a long-term power solution for the Cowell region. Despite a $2.7 million powerline upgrade to the Cowell community late last year, consumers in Cowell and Lucky Bay were still plagued by power surges and breaks during the peak summer period. The council met last week to discuss the community's ongoing electricity deficiencies and is calling for a solid commitment from ETSA in 2008.

Plans are underway to complete Stage 2 of the Cowell major upgrade in 2009. This upgrade will involve either a new 33kV line form Yabmana to Mount Millar Wind Farm or conversion of the 11kV line form Yabmana to Cleve. An ETSA spokesman told council the Stage 2 project provides for existing and expected future demand as the Cowell township continues to grow. However, District Council of Franklin Harbour CEO Bruce Francis says Cowell is growing even faster than ETSA will admit.

Despite recent upgrades and planning in the lead-up to the 2007 peak summer period, Lucky Bay and Cowell were both left without power at different times over the summer break. Mr Francis said council would continue to lobby for improved infrastructure. However, as the wait continues, local businesses report they now risk losing their 'no claim' bonuses as insurance claims continue to grow. Mr Francis encouraged consumers to log onto the ETSA Utilities website and download claim forms, before going to their own insurance providers.

Autodom buys supplier

West Australian
17/01/2008 Page: 50

Autodom has bought Victoria's HPG Engineering & Associates Pty Ltd for $3.75 million, just days after it took a 50 per cent stake in Micro Wind Turbines Australia Pty Ltd. HPG is a first tier supplier to Holden and Ford and makes a range of components for use in the VE Holden Commodore, Ford BF and Orion series of vehicles, The deal will lift Autodom's automotive group annual revenue above $125 million.

Still waiting on starting dates

Ballarat Courier
18/01/2008 Page: 4

CONSTRUCTION of wind farms at Stockyard Hill and Mt Mercer is hoped to begin late this year. Wind Power, who is planning wind farms at Stockyard Hill, Smeaton and Lexton, will focus on its Stockyard Hill proposal this year. A scientific study is currently being carried out before the results are passed onto the community. Wind Power community consultation officer Ross Richards said the study's outcome was expected in a few months.

Plans for Tuki Wind Farm at Smeaton also caused a stir last year, and Mr Richards said Wind Power was still gathering data and seeking legal advice over the Significant Landscape Overlay currently in place. As with any project, there's supporters and opponents, but we expect to see something happening with that proposal within the next six months," he said. Mr Richards said developments on the Lexton Wind Farm would begin in the next few months, but it was not the company's top priority at present.

"We've got a few projects on the go, and we'll be concentrating on those... Stockyard Hill's going to be a sizeable project, one which will keep us busy." WestWind Energy hopes plans for its 64-turbine wind farm at Mount Mercer will see the first sod turned late this year.

Project manager Grant Flynn said Powercor Australia had been selected as the preferred contractor for the balance of the plant, and currently soil tests were being done as part of the analysis. "We're quite keen to formalise things at Mount Mercer, sign the contracts, see local businesses involved and turn the first sod before the end of the year," Mr Flynn said.

It will have been a long process to get to that point, it's been five or more years, so it will be a major milestone." Meanwhile, the company is yet to put in its planning application for the Lal Lal Wind Farm, and expects it to occur around April.