Saturday 2 February 2008

Free plug for a toaster that goes like the wind

Daily Telegraph
Friday 1/2/2008 Page: 15

IT will provide Australia's first petrol-free, guilt-free drive to work. But what's really exciting about the electric car parked in the basement of the University Technology Sydney (UTS) is it can also make toast. That's when it's not earning money by putting clean electricity back into our overstretched power grid. Like its doomed predecessors, the plug-in electric car project promises a lot.

Engineers at UTS say it will deliver, with plans to have the converted Toyota Prius on the road by March for its first trip to Melbourne. The project, headed by UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures researcher Josh Asher, pre-empts the first mass production fully-electric cars of Toyota and General Motors, due on the market by the end of 2010.

The UTS car will achieve up to 50km a day of fully-electric driving before the standard petrol-electric hybrid engine is called upon. If the car is powered overnight by wind energy, an average 40km commute will be totally carbon-neutral. For $15,000, Sydney electric expert Stan Baker will add the extra batteries to hybrid vehicles like the Prius.

With the financial backing of green power entrepreneur Peter Szental, Asher's team has pushed further into the future by modifying the battery pack to direct unused power into running household appliances. Excess power can also be fed back into the electricity grid.

New sites for geothermal energy explorers

Longreach Leader
Friday 18/1/2008 Page: 11

THE Queensland Government is calling for tenders for 13 geothermal exploration sites - one of which is southwest of Longreach and another three near Birdsville. The latest releases bring to 33 the number of sites considered promising for geothermal energy, a renewable, clean energy source supported by the government. "The geothermal industry is a sunrise industry for Queensland and the Bligh Government is backing it all the way," Minister for Mines and Energy, Geoff Wilson said.

"It faces a bright future because it has the potential to produce more base-load energy than any other renewable energy source." Areas with geothermal potential are identified by using temperature data obtained from petroleum wells and artesian bores, according to a Department of Mines and Energy spokesperson. "Potential geothermal targets are granites with high temperatures, and the best prospects have temperatures above 220 degree centigrade at five kilometres depth", he said.

Geothermal is considered a clean alternative to coal because its production does not emit harmful greenhouse gasses, which would help in the fight against climate change. Queensland is home to the majority of Australia's hot rocks and Mr Wilson believes it has the potential to provide one fifth of Australia's total electricity needs over the next 25 years. "Indeed, initial estimates indicate that the hot dry rocks beneath the Eromanga and Cooper basins could meet all of Australia's energy needs for many years into the future," he said.

Tenders close on February 18.

Climate change a council priority

Portland Observer
Friday 25/1/2008 Page: 1

CLIMATE change and its impact on the shire will become a key focus of Glenelg Shire Council policy through a new advisory committee. The committee includes mayor Geoff White and councillors Robert Halliday, Frank Zeigler and Tom Munro, as well as a council staff member, and will help council develop its responses to the phenomenon. Cr Munro proposed the establishment of the committee at the council's monthly meeting on Tuesday night after attending an annual Australian Local Government Association conference in Darwin last month, which featured numerous presentations about climate change.

The conference was held at the same time as Cr Munro was representing local government association Timber Towns Victoria nationally at the inaugural meeting of the National Timber Taskforce. He said climate change could cause sea level rises and severe weather. However, the shire could also benefit from the renewable energy sector, particularly if the council promotes the region as a centre of excellence for wind, wave and geothermal energy. "This should put council on the front foot in terms of climate change issues," he said. "The establishment of the Centre for Excellence would provide a strong impetus for the council to progress and complement its response to climate change and emission reduction targets," he added.

The committee will provide advice to council about climate change policies and strategies, emission reduction targets and how council could work with the community to deal with climate change. It is also expected to improve awareness of the potential positive and negative impacts of climate change on the Glenelg Shire. "I look forward to some great outcomes for the benefit of all of the shire," Cr Karen Stephens said after seconding the motion.

Draft terms of reference for the committee will be presented to council at its March 25 meeting. Meanwhile, the council considered its response to the latest Victorian Coastal Strategy draft, prepared by the Victorian Coastal Council following recommendations by planning consultant Scott Taylor, and adopted all of his suggestions. The VCC, in consultation with senior Victorian scientists reviewing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's latest report, anticipates that in 80 to 100 years' time the sea level along the state's coast is expected to rise by 40 to 80 centimetres at a minimum.

Mr Taylor said people, industries and major infrastructure could potentially be "displaced by coastal processes resulting from climate change," and this needed to be better recognised by the VCS. He said future coastal settlement policy should be "subject to the outcomes of climate change vulnerability assessments and the subsequent adoption strategy, rather than pre-empting it." Climate change forecasting therefore needed to be defined in terms of whether it was an assumption, probability or certainty.

He recommended that Victorian Planning Provisions be amended to introduce a coastal risk management zone "to allow for a consistent response to the issue in all coastal areas", and said benchmarks should be set that factored in sea level rises and allowed for consistent planning decision-making. He encouraged the VCC to adopt a stronger statement about "the prohibition of development in new areas subject to threat", and said they should acknowledge the potential legal liabilities resulting from inappropriate approvals for at-risk developments.

Increased ocean acidity could also have a "massive impact" on fishing, and this needed a bigger commitment so the issues could be better understood. Renewable energy generation facilities and their infrastructure should also receive encouragement under planning schemes, Mr Taylor said. The issue of the coordination of climate change responses across various levels of government and the community needs to be addressed, he added. Glenelg Shire's standing as a "centre of excellence for wind, wave and geothermal energy" could be boosted by the reconnection of the Henty Park bore and geothermal energy to Portland. Former Portland Water Board engineer, Neil Buckingham, is a strong proponent of that reconnection.

Power bills to double to pay carbon costs

Friday 1/2/2008 Page: 3

MAJOR Australian greenhouse gas emitters believe that emissions-trading costs of about $65 a tonne of carbon are inevitable, forcing household electricity bills to rise by almost 100 per cent.

The new director of the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network (AIGN), Mike Hitchens told The Australian business should look to evolving carbon markets in Europe to estimate the future cost of emissions trading. "We all need to understand that linking to other emissions-trading schemes outside of Australia is inevitable, whether done formally or informally," Mr Hitchens said. "That means that it's the world price of permits we need to incorporate into analysis about the impacts on the Australian economy, not simply the implications of setting our own targets.

The price of emissions in Australia will very likely be set in Europe. Australia is a price taker for commodities in all other global markets, and we will be a price taker in this global market as well." The European Commission has estimated a future price of about $65 per tonne of carbon, with European banks predicting a price of between $60 and $80.

The National Generators Forum said a price of more than $40 per tonne would eliminate the need for the Government's 20 per cent Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET), while a price at $80 per tonne would effectively double the price of retail electricity in Australia. Ross Garnaut, who is heading an independent review of emissions-trading schemes for the Rudd Government, declined to comment yesterday, although he will be addressing the issue of international integration of emissions-trading schemes later this month at a climate change conference in Adelaide.

Treasury has enlisted the assistance of Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics and Reserve Bank economist Warwick McKibbin in modelling the economic impacts of different carbon prices to guide price-setting when the design of a domestic scheme is finalised later this year. Professor McKibbin said he could not speculate on the potential price of emissions in Australia, but said the risk of being forced to adopt higher world prices for carbon would be addressed if the Rudd Government implemented his own hybrid trading model.

He said his model framed a national emissions-trading scheme more like a currency than a commodity, allowing countries to set and manage their own price for emissions just as currencies trade at different values rather than creating a single world price. "We argue you don't want to trade your permits internationally except in specific circumstances, for the same reason you want to have independent monetary policies," Professor McKibbin said.

It just seems to me better to have a series of national systems that are co-ordinated. You can always map it on to a global trading system by having the same price if you want to." Earlier this week, Professor Garnaut suggested the Government consider setting a budget for total greenhouse emissions until 2050 and then let the market determine the rate at which it wanted to make cuts. A working group to discuss how the NSW Government's Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme would be incorporated into a national regime will meet for the first time in Sydney today.

Friday 1 February 2008

Joint Shire Citizen of the Year

Bega District News
Friday 25/1/2008 Page: 15

MATTHEW Nott was well-known and respected in the Bega Valley Shire long before his climate change "Eureka" moment on Tathra beach two years ago. Dr Nott moved to the shire in 2000 to set up an orthopaedic practice, a dream he had held since he was 15 years old. He was born in Canberra and would have been the third generation Canberra doctor in his family had he remained there. His grandfather, Dr Lewis Nott, was the first Member for Canberra in the Federal Parliament.

Dr Matthew Nott trained at Sydney University and then moved to New Zealand to study orthopaedics and "very nearly stayed." What drew him back to Australia was the possibility of practising in the Bega Valley. He said it was very tough to start because the only contract Southern Area Health Service would offer required him to be on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a week and 12 to 16 joint replacements a year. This was later reduced to 12 joint replacements a year. "The only thing that kept us here was that we were in love with the area," he said. "It was very hard on our family life because I was always on call and working long hours" In very short time he had a 6 year waiting list for joint replacement surgery and a very sympathetic community that was worried about losing him.

Public meetings were held in centres across the shire demanding that Southern Area Health Service provide him with help and, eventually, Dr Gareth Long was offered an orthopaedic contract. This effectively halved the workload and Dr Nott settled in to enjoying life on the coast. Then, on New Year's Day 2006, came that "Eureka" moment. On duty at the Tathra Surf Club on the hottest day on record, he was reading one of his Christmas presents, Tim Flannery's "The Weather Makers" when it all fell into place. A few weeks later he was in the Canadian ski resort, Whistler, where there were real concerns that there would not be enough snow cover for the 2010 Winter Olympics. "They were furiously creating snow-making machines and I realised that they were adapting to the climate change problem, not fixing it," Dr Nott said.

He says the biggest problem in addressing global warming is "human inertia." "Human beings are individually brilliant but collectively stupid. "Our gut reaction is that if we can't see it then it's not a problem. "But the solution is so obvious - stop burning coal! " Over the next two years Dr Nott's life changed dramatically. He began with activities to draw attention to climate change - a human sign on Tathra beach spelling out the slogan that was to become the name of his organisation - "Clean Energy for Eternity" - and a swim in the freezing waters of Lake Jindabyne in midwinter.

He also began talking - and he hasn't stopped since. He has attended meetings and rallies around the Bega, Eurobodalla, Cooma Monaro and Snowy Mountains Shires, convincing communities to adopt the CEFE targets of 50/50 by 2020 - a 50 per cent reduction in use of fossil fuels and a 50 per cent increase in renewable energy by 2020. He also took his message to politicians in Sydney and Canberra. His next project was Life Saving Energy in which he hopes to get every surf lifesaving club converted to alternative power sources.

"We started at Tathra putting a small wind turbine and a few solar panels on the surf club roof and we hoped to duplicate that effort throughout the country but that hasn't happened yet so we will be redoubling our efforts this year." Dr Nott says 2008 is the year to get things going on the ground - starting with a 30-acre solar farm, which would be a first for Australia.

"It would be community- owned, in a partnership with government. "Once we get the first one up and running then we can start to export and just one a year would meet our 50/50 by 2020 target. "I have already had 15 farmers from around the region approach me to talk about land that may be suitable," he said. "Setting it up would only take about two months and just two megawatts would provide almost enough energy to power the whole of Bega" However, while solar power is effective it is not the cheapest option - that's wind energy.

Dr Nott says there are a lot of myths and rumours surrounding wind energy but he believes the biggest hurdle is that wind is a threat to the coal industry. He says CEFE has had some wind mapping done in the south east and has come up with a couple of sites suitable for wind farms. "Now we need to talk to the communities and help them overcome their fear of the unknown. "There are several issues such as bird strike, property values and noise levels. "Wind farm technology would provide enormous opportunities for the region, both employment and environmental.

Dr Nott believes the Bega Valley Shire has a great opportunity to lead Australia in coming up with solutions to climate change. He tries hard to practise what he preaches but realises he is an easy target. "I drive a hybrid car but there are limits to what it can do so we also have a four-wheel drive that tows a camping trailer. "We try to use only the hybrid car around town and limit the 4WD to camping trips." Dr Nott has also installed solar panels on his Tathra roof and says it was very satisfying to receive his first cheque - for $950 - from Country Energy for the power the system fed back into the grid over the past 12 months. "It's a great feeling to be producing more energy than you need," he said.

His next immediate project will be an endurance swim in Lake Jindabyne on February 10. He has already extracted commitments to participate from the Federal Member for Eden- Monaro, Mike Kelly, and the State Member for Monaro, Steve Whan. He also hopes to get the Korean Olympic triathlon team along. The aim is to raise $20,000, on the day, to install solar and windpower generators on the Lake Jindabyne Surf Club building so donations will be grateful received.

Dr Nott is married to solicitor Kylie Dummer who works for Legal Aid, specialising in family law, and they have three sons, Lewis (12), Henry (10) and Finley (8). He is joint Shire Citizen of the Year with Noel Watson.

Cape Nelson wind farm approved

Portland Observer
Friday 25/1/2008 Page: 1

THE third stage of Pacific Hydro's Portland Wind Energy Project has received State Government approval. The Cape Nelson South Wind Energy Facility will include 22 wind turbines that will generate 44 megawatts of power, according to Acting Planning Minister Peter Batchelor. The wind farm will be at Cape Nelson Rd, on both sides of Cape Nelson Rd. Mr Batchelor described the PWEP as "Australia's largest wind farm development," saying the Yambuk and Cape Bridgewater farms formed the first two stages of the program.

The four-stage project is expected to generate up to 195MW of power and cost $330 million to build. "Pacific Hydro undertook a comprehensive Environmental Effects Statement process which included extensive public consultation and assessment of the project's environmental, economic and social benefits," he said. Planning Minister Justin Madden formally signed off on the approval, according to the State Government.

Lessons take on renewed energy

Warrnambool Standard
Thursday 31/1/2008 Page: 1

THE answer to fixing climate change is blowing in the wind at Port Fairy Consolidated School where a $110,000 wind turbine and solar panels are helping to power classrooms.

When pupils returned to school yesterday they not only found new classrooms - part of the $3.8 million redevelopment of the school - but also discovered the renewable energy project was under way.

Principal Lindy Sharp said the wind turbine and solar panels would provide about 30 per cent of the school's power and any excess energy would be put into the electricity grid.

She said the solar panels produced up to 3000 watts of energy, depending on the weather, while the wind turbine generated up to 1200 watts. Pupils will be able to monitor power generation on new computers and lessons on renewable energy will be incorporated into the curriculum.

Grade 6 pupils Millie Kewley and Sophie Lewis said they were excited about the project. "You can't ignore what's happening with climate change. Animals are dying and the icecaps are melting and this is just a step closer," Millie said. Sophie said the project would use a big screen to let the community know how much power had been saved.

Thursday 31 January 2008

Council: we don't like the look of this

Colac & Corangamite Extra
Tuesday 29/1/2008 Page: 2

A PROPOSED $50 million windfarm development at Newfield was rejected last week due to landscape, visual issues and the impact the facility would have on neighbours, according to the Corangamite Shire. Council gave notice of its decision not to grant a permit to Acciona at its council meeting last Tuesday. The shire's Coastal Ward councillor Steve Cumming explained the grounds of refusal related to the landscape impact from Two Mile Bay in the Port Campbell National Park.

He also said it would have an impact from the Timboon-Port Campbell Road that provided inland links to the Great Ocean Road. "The cumulative impact of siting a windfarm adjacent to the existing gas plants on Waaree Road, Newfield, in a farming area and impacts of noise, blade glint and shadow flicker were also considered to create too great of an impact on adjoining residents and the 63 houses within three kilometres of the site," Cr Cumming said.

Shire building and statutory planning services manager Michelle Grainger said council received the application from Acciona for the windfarm facility early last year. "The plans were publicly exhibited for five weeks in August and September and we had public meetings with members of the local community," she said. Fifteen submissions from members of the public were received and councillors met with objectors last week to discuss any outstanding matters prior to the council's meeting.

Fifteen, 1.5 megawatt turbines, were proposed to be 110 metres high and situated on 300 hectares of farmland. Ms Granger said the applicant now had 60 days to launch an appeal against council's decision with the Victorian Civil and Appeals Tribunal.

Scientists strive for pinpoint climate change forecasts

Gympie Times
Wednesday 30/1/2008 Page: 8

OSLO (Reuters) - Moving on from the risk of global warming, scientists are now looking for ways to pinpoint the areas set to be affected by climate change, to help countries plan everything from new crops to hydropower dams. Billion-dollar investments, ranging from irrigation and flood defences to the site of wind farms or ski resorts, could hinge on assessments about how much drier, wetter, windier or warmer a particular area will become.

But scientists warn precision may never be possible. Climate is so chaotic and the variables so difficult to compute that even the best model will be far from perfect in estimating what the future holds. "We need to give indications which are at the scale countries can use to make decisions," said Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) which oversees the US's climate panel. "We need to come to a scale which is smaller than countries like Spain or France or the UK. You really need to come to smaller scales - 100, 200kms. "We are not yet there." The UN climate panel met in Valencia, Spain, late last year to issue a final report summing up more than 3000 pages of findings this year that blamed humans for climate change and outlined solutions.

It also looked at what a next report, perhaps in 2013 if governments agree on spending, might contain. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former US Vice President Al Gore. An IPCC report in April last year gave regional projections for a warmer climate such as a melting of the Himalayan glaciers or better growing conditions for Nordic forests, but the scale is often too vague to be of great use.

Farmers from Australia to Africa would like to know which areas are threatened by desertification. Ski operators from the Alps to the Rocky Mountains wonder how high the snow line will be before investing in new hotels or ski lifts. But forecasts may never be precise enough to estimate which of two neighbouring valleys in the Andes, for instance, might get wetter and be better suited to a hydroelectric dam. "To get down to the site-level would be a huge step," said Martin Parry, a British scientist who co-chairs the IPCC section devoted to regional impacts of climate change.

The impact of global warming depends largely on how many people keep burning fossil fuels, a main source of greenhouse gases, or develop cleaner energies such as wind or solar power. "I don't think that an assessment in 2013 would deliver that much more detail needed for planners on water issues," said Johan Kuylenstierna of the Stockholm International Water Institute. "The uncertainties will still be quite high." Planners already know enough to act in many cases. The smallest grids used for climate projections are 50x50 km.

London is looking into ways to confront projected regional risks such as more floods from North Sea surges up the Thames, more heatwaves and a drier climate. Painting houses white to protect against heatwaves makes sense, Parry said. Homeowners in areas at greater risk of floods could raise electrical goods such as fridges or washing machines off the ground floor. Parry said some farmers in eastern England were considering selling and moving north to Scotland because they reckoned they could soon grow the same crops on land that costs less now.

A rise in sea-levels is already factored in as a threat to all coasts. The IPCC projects that sea-levels will rise by 18-23 cross this century. "It would be pretty unwise to build a nuclear energy station at sea-level," Parry said. Kuylenstierna said there may well be stronger evidence by 2013 that climate change is under way, such as melting Arctic ice or a drier Mediterranean region. That would in turn give pointers to future change. "But to break that down to information to a level relevant to a city or a hydroelectric dam base is a different question. I think nature is much more complex," he said. "Even so, we can start making a lot of investments today."

Japan looks to sea winds

Ballarat Courier
Wednesday 30/1/2008 Page: 11

OVERLOOKING a mountain lake a few hours' drive from Tokyo, dozens of tall wind turbines spin in the breeze, creating carbon-free power for the world's fifth-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. A sudden change in breeze spins the turbines in a different direction, an apt symbol of Japan's efforts to shift away from fossil fuels for renewable energy such as wind energy to help cut its greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.

Wind farms such as the Nunobiki Plateau Wind Farm on a hill north of Tokyo, which generates enough electricity to power some 35,000 hones a year, have failed to make a dent in Japan's obligations to cut carbon gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.

But Japan is now looking towards the sea, following in the footsteps of Europe which is the world's leader in wind energy, by planning a network of offshore wind farms to tap into the gales of the Pacific. "It's worthwhile entering the sector now as offshore technology is at the cutting-edge," said Mitsutoshi Yamashita, a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official in charge of promoting wind energy. "Once we obtain the technology needed, the kilowatts are limitless," he added.

Japan hopes that wind energy will provide around 0.2 per cent of the country's primary energy supply by March 2011. That figure might rise dramatically if major electric companies follow through with plans to build offshore wind farms near coastal power stations.

The northern Japanese town of Hokkaido, which is the first offshore wind-for-power system outside of Europe, has since 2003 been harnessing the sea breeze with two 600-kilowatt turbines located inside a breakwater less than 1km off the coast. That's enough to power an average of 1000 hones per year. "Maintenance is tough," said Shinya Ono, a town official, explaining the waves were sometimes too high to reach the turbines by boat. He said that offshore wind energy was double in power to that harnessed on land, but the power it generated was unpredictable.

Nevertheless, sea breezes are seen as more reliable than solar power and wind turbines require less space and lower investment than nuclear and solar plants. In Europe it costs about 50 to 100 per cent more to build offshore wind farms to those based on land. In Japan, it could cost even more as the island nation is surrounded by deeper seas. Japan is set to study the feasibility of offshore wind energy this year. One option might be to follow the example of Scotland, which installed offshore turbines in deep water in 2006.

As part of the study, the government is expected to install an offshore wind turbine to determine best engineering practices for the widespread use of the technology. The domestic industry is expected to make a push towards offshore wind turbines by 2012. Japan, the world's third largest consumer of oil, is facing increasing pressure to raise its supply of energy from nonpolluting sources and reduce its dependence on oil, coal and natural gas, almost all of which are imported from abroad.

Its greenhouse gas emissions in the year to March, 2007 were still 13 per cent above the average level it must meet each year over the next five years under Kyoto. Japan's per capital emissions are among the lowest in the developed world, making it all the more difficult to make further cuts. fossil fuels produce two-thirds of Japan's electricity needs with other sources such as nuclear and hydropower making up most of the difference. Renewable energy sources contribution to Japan's electricity needs are almost negligible.

By law, electric power companies must more than double their use of renewable energy sources - wind, solar, small-sized hydro plants, terrestrial heat and biomass - to 1.35 per cent of Japan's total electricity supply by March 2011. The 1.35 per cent target is modest when compared with a 3.3 per cent share for wind energy in Europe already. Some analysts say this target may need to rise if Japan is to meet its Kyoto goals.

Wednesday 30 January 2008

Council airs windy plan

Warrnambool Standard
Tuesday 29/1/2008 Page: 5

Warrnambool has the potential to become an official windy city by developing renewable energy technologies, according to a proposed environmental sustainability policy. An extensive draft policy statement to be tabled at tonight's city council meeting says there is growing interest in using one of Warrnambool's greatest renewable energy attributes - wind.

The report says: "The project potentially may provide a working example of urban wind technology while providing financial incentives for community uptake." "The project may present greater benefits to other municipalities in the southern part of Australia that do not have the same ability to produce large amounts of energy from the sun." The city council developed the proposed priority policy as part of a commitment to the Victorian Local Sustainability Accord initiated by the State Government.

If the policy is adopted it will open access to a second round of Government funding for environmental projects next month. Other issues covered in the report include the impact of climate change on coastal areas, biodiversity, sustainable transport and planning needs. The report notes the slow community uptake of wind technology.

Other items listed for tonight's council meeting include: Planning for the November elections with postal voting recommended; The naming of a reserve in Merrivale Drive near Landmann Street; A proposed heritage overlay on significant avenues of trees; and A special rate or charge for infrastructure works in development projects.

Tuesday 29 January 2008

Fuel crisis looms by 2015

Courier Mail
28/01/2008 Page: 8

IT will take only seven years for world demand for oil and gas to outstrip supply, according to the chief executive of the world's second-biggest oil company. Adding to concerns long held by energy experts, Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer said that by 2015, supplies of easy-to-access oil and gas would not keep up with demand. "We are experiencing a step-change in the growth rate of energy demand due to population growth and energy development," Mr van der Veer said in an email to Shell employees.

Society would have no choice but to use nuclear energy and unconventional fossil fuels such as oil sands, as well as renewable energies, he said. Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas Brisbane spokesman Stuart McCarthy said yesterday it was time for governments to act, now that big businesses were speaking openly about the problem. Mr McCarthy wants the Queensland Government to move on a report by a committee chaired by the state's Minister for Sustainability, Andrew McNamara.

The McNamara report warns the peak oil crisis could hit the tourism industry hard, put pressure on inflation and dramatically increase demand for effective public transport "We need the Government to act, this will impact far sooner than climate change," Mr McCarthy said.

Shell has developed two scenarios for how it sees the energy crisis unfolding. The first, dubbed Scramble, envisages policymakers paying little attention to curbing consumption until supplies run short. When major shocks trigger political reactions, they would be severe and lead to energy price spikes and volatility. The other scenario, Blueprints - which Shell prefers - would see governments introduce regulatory mechanisms such as efficiency standards and taxes to improve environmental performance.

Monday 28 January 2008

Footing carbon bill hits home

Sunday Mail Adelaide
Sunday 27/1/2008 Page: 19

WOULD you pay $1000 to completely carbon neutralise your home? Mike Rann's doing it with State Cabinet, spending $60,000 to lead the world in green politics. Hundreds of Australian businesses are doing it too. Even the Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts and the Clipsal 500 are getting in on the act. Me? I'm not so sure.

Leading US environmental campaigner Robert Kennedy Jnr - here soon for the International Solar Cities Congress - says the blitz against household emissions is a furphy, designed to divert attention from big industrial polluters. Households account for just one fifth of Australia's emissions (agriculture and manufacturing, by comparison, make up more than 55 per cent).

In 2005, global emissions from the burning of fossil fuels totalled 7.9 billion tonnes. The average Aussie house generates just 14 tonnes, which makes you wonder if changing our halogen globes is really going to make one iota of difference. So I called in the experts - the "carbon cops" from SA's leading climate change company Carbon Planet - to put me in the picture. And I was pretty shocked by the result.

I've always thought our place was reasonably energy efficient. Our stone house in the hills rarely needs cooling; we've installed a system to heat our water by solar and wood; we have two worm farms and we recycle everything that's not nailed down. How wrong I was. According to the energy audit, in 2007 our two adults- two-toddler household emitted four times the national average in greenhouse gases - or 51 tonnes.

Amazingly, we coughed out the most carbon when we travelled by air: holiday flights to the US, Queensland and Melbourne accounted for 55 per cent of our emissions. Next came electricity (24 per cent) and petrol (14 per cent). Our electricity consumption was more than double the state household average, thanks to reverse cycle heating, old appliances, halogen down-lights and other high wattage lighting. Even more shocking was standby on appliances, which accounted for 7 per cent of all electricity use (even leaving the mobile phone on its charger adds up).

Upshot? It would cost $1173 to totally offset our emissions (by buying one carbon credit for every tonne emitted, or 51 credits at the going rate of $23 a tonne). The cash would then be used to fund things like wind farms, shower and light bulb replacement schemes and old-growth forests. (I secretly wonder where all the trees are going to fit if this thing keeps going - but that's another column.) carbon credits are a great thing for businesses and politicians. Global warming is the biggest corporate social responsibility issue of our time, so they have a huge incentive to demonstrate their green credentials to consumers and voters.

Personally, I'm way more inclined to cut my power use than simply offset it all - because that's where I'll save both cash and emissions. We've started to turn stuff off instead of leaving it all on standby. Our next car will be mega energy efficient. I'm looking into the cheapest option for 100 per cent green energy and, as our house is slowly renovated, we'll buy green appliances and lighting.

But that still leaves those dastardly flights, accounting for around half of our emissions and requiring a $500 offset. But hey, if I can afford to fly to the US, I suppose I can afford to clean the emissions slate too. What I'd like is a button to press on the airline's website, telling me how much it will cost and how to make it happen (I've no doubt that will come in the not-to-distant future). The most important lesson I've learnt from this process, though, is that we small-scale polluters have a double responsibility. Yes, we should all be doing what we can to cut our household emissions.

But Robert Kennedy Jnr is right. Our biggest job is to pressure political leaders to end large-scale industrial and environmental pollution. Mike Rann has shown pretty amazing leadership on climate change - both by offsetting his personal flights and also through government initiatives to massively increase solar power and wind generation. Now he's got to use his influence federally and, most importantly, abroad, to affect change that will really clear the air.

Climate change

Bega District News
Tuesday 22/1/2008 Page: 2

THE Clean Energy for Eternity campaign has been plugging away for 18 months, run by a group of committed volunteers who have devoted large chunks of time to organising meetings, setting targets, selling T-shirts, producing calendars, lobbying politicians, pushing new ideas, and trying to generate change. Why?

Since our campaign started, sea levels are three mm higher, atmospheric CO2 is two parts per million higher, the planet is hotter, arctic sea ice was 40 per cent smaller last summer than it was during the previous summer and NASA has started talking about catastrophic collapse of the Greenland ice shelf (resulting in a 6m sea level rise). No matter how you look at it, the planet is heating up quicker than most worst case scenario predictions.

We face an urgent problem. Why do we refuse to take serious action? Well, many people still believe that a nation cannot become wealthy without burning coal. The fossil fuel industry is well connected politically and has a huge vested interest in casting doubt on the science of climate change. The Lavoisier Group is a perfect example of how effectively the Australian fossil fuel industry can cast doubt on the science of human induced climate change, using dodgy logic while masquerading as a science-based organisation.

Too many politicians (at all levels of government) have been resistant to implementing proven strategies to reduce Although the theory of human induced climate change is supported by the overwhelming majority of scientists, they are having a hard time convincing people that urgent change is required.

Many people have a gut feeling that everything is going to be okay, that someone else is going to sort the problem out for us, or that if we don't think about the issue too much it will go away. Fortunately, CEFE has encountered a very different attitude in SE NSW. If you want to get a taste of that attitude, come to Jindabyne on the weekend of February 9 and 10. On the evening of February 8 there will be a meeting in Jindabyne to discuss a solar farm proposal for the Snowy Mountains.

On the evening of February 9 at 7.15 pm on the shore of Lake Jindabyne, there will be a human sign formed that will read "LifeSaving Energy." On the Sunday morning there will be a "LifeSaving Energy Big Swim" to raise money for renewable energy for the Jindabyne Surf Club. This will be 7 km swim, the length of Lake Jindabyne, that will finish at Jindabyne to coincide with the second annual Snowy River renewable energy and climate change expo.

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Goulburn project comes first

Barrier Daily Truth
Friday 25/1/2008 Page: 3

Epuron's partnership with Origin Energy to build a wind farm near Goulburn won't impact on the Silverton proposal except perhaps in construction lessons learned, said Epuron's executive director, Andrew Durran. "The big impact will be experience gained in the construction project, which will happen before Silverton," Mr Durran told BDT yesterday.

Epuron has gone into partnership with Origin Energy Ltd to develop wind farms in NSW. The first project will be the Cullerin Range 30 megawatt wind farm near Goulburn in NSW. Origin Energy expects to start commissioning the wind farm next year. Mr Durran said planning approval has been obtained and Origin Energy is financing construction. "The sooner we construct it, the sooner we learn tricks of the trade," he said. He said the last wind farm built in NSW was seven years ago at Hampton, near Lithgow. It consists of only two turbines generating 1.32 MW, enough to power 500 houses.

When fully operational, the Cullerin Range wind farm will save about 100,000 tonnes of carbon per year or provide enough renewable electricity to power nearly 15,000 average homes in NSW, Origin Energy said. The Cullerin Range wind farm is one of three permitted sites in NSW, including the Conory's Gap and Snowy Plains sites, where Origin Energy has also acquired the rights to develop 30MW projects.

Epuron's Silverton proposal is to build between 400 and 500 wind turbines on the ranges outside the township. The project cost is estimated at $2.5 billion and Macquarie Bank has signed a joint venture agreement with Epuron to develop and build the farm together. Mr Durran said Epuron was finalising a range of development studies for the project, assessing potential effects of the wind farm. "We're summarising them for the final development approval which will be lodged with the State Government end of March." The wind farm has attracted supporters and opponents, including concern for the environmental, social and aesthetic impact on Silverton that 500 turbines will have.

Mr Durran said a "small" level of local opposition still existed and hadn't changed from when the proposal was first announced. "Our position remains unchanged and we acknowledge some impact relatively close to town. "We can't put them underground...we try to understand their concerns and anything we haven't been told, we need to know about it" He said Epuron was investigating ways it can offer additional benefits to the township as part of the development.

Epuron has also planned to conduct more community consultation, including industry briefings to prepare local businesses for what they can provide during construction of the farm. But the State Government's commitment to renewable energy might be the final arbiter on the project. Mr Durran said the project hinges on the level of government support in terms of renewable energy legislation.

He said Epuron depended on the government passing legislation that required the state's electricity suppliers to buy a certain amount of renewable energy. "Without the legislation, it's not viable," said Mr Durran. He said the legislation has been introduced to parliament but that's as far as it has got. "They're stalling," said Mr Durran. He said Epuron was working on its development application on the basis the legislation will be in place. "The DA will be (lodged) parallel to that," he said. "There won't be construction until the legislation is passed by Parliament."

Planet Ark happy

Courier Mail
Saturday 26/1/2008 Page: 15

BMW's Hydrogen 7 has received a green thumb's up from Planet Ark chairman and founder John Dee. "It's very impressive," Dee said after a short drive around Melbourne city streets this week. "It doesn't feel any different to the normal 7 Series, but all that is coming out of the exhaust is water vapour. "What is interesting is that if they just tuned it for hydrogen it would be even better. It could be a whole lot faster. "The future of motoring will not be a compromise like this." The Hydrogen 7 has a limited top speed of 230km/h, but is a little slow off the line with about 9.5 seconds from 0-100km/h.

However, Lotus has produced a Tesla electric car capable of more than 0-100km/h in four seconds. "Most people think these alternative fuelled cars are a golf buggy on valium, but they can be better performers than petrol cars," Dee said. "The only thing holding them back is the lack of infrastructure and the fact that to create hydrogen uses more energy than it produces. However, there are a lot of ways to create hydrogen with minimal environmental impact." Hydrogen requires a lot of electricity to separate the gas from water.

However, Dee said solar and wind energy could be used in the process so that it was carbon neutral. "For it to come to fruition you need an alliance of car manufacturers, government and corporations to help with cars and the infrastructure. "The future of motoring will be a combination of electric and hydrogen cars."

Planet Ark was founded, with former tennis ace Pat Cash, to campaign governments, industry and the public for greener alternatives.

Some myths and facts about climate change

Sun City News
January, 2008 Page: 10

Currently Australia gets 80 percent of its electricity from coal and is the world's largest exporter of coal. So it is a fallacy to say the Australian economy will always depend on coal. Major world economies are setting ambitious renewable energy targets to deal responsibly with climate change. With increasing public demand for clean energy, the need for coal will be reduced in the next few decades, both in Australia and overseas. The Australian economy and livelihoods will be at risk if Australia does not phase out this outdated energy source.

The cost of not doing this will be greater according to the Stern Review, the biggest economic evaluation of the effects of climate change. The global cost is $9 trillion. Tourism and agriculture combined employ nine times more people than the entire coal industry. Yet places like the Great Barrier Reef are predicted to be 95 percent destroyed by climate change. Drought is crippling our agricultural industry and climate change will only make it worse.

Australia must make a transition from a coal-based economy to one based on the use, manufacture and export of safe and clean renewable energy. The so called 'clean coal' is not the solution to climate change. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is currently an experimental plan to capture and bury the toxic carbon pollution created by burning coal to make electricity so it doesn't enter the atmosphere.

CCS technology for coal doesn't capture the carbon pollution anywhere in the world and there is no telling if and when it might be operational. CCS cannot capture all emissions from a power station or be applied to all power stations, so even if it were widely used in Australia, greenhouse emissions would actually continue to increase. CCS is not necessarily safe or secure from leakage. Emissions must be kept for centuries, far longer than any of the companies promoting the technology have ever been in business.

Greenpeace Australia maintains that hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer's dollars should not be spent on developing this technology when a range of renewable energy and energy efficiency options are available.

Nuclear energy is not the solution to climate change. Australia needs to cut its emissions by at least 30 percent within about ten years. A report commissioned by the federal government states it would take about 40 years to build 25 nuclear energy stations which would only lower the emissions by 8 to 18 percent. Its too little, too late to tackle climate change. There is no known safe disposal of nuclear waste. nuclear energy plants use a lot of water, this is unsuitable for the many drought stricken or and areas of Australia.

Australia has several natural resources and the technology to create enough renewable clean energy to fuel the entire nation. wind energy could easily generate 20 percent of Australia's electricity by 2040. solar power has an unlimited potential in Australia. Using photovoltaic technology every home in Australia could generate sufficient power to produce the total electricity requirements of Australia. bioenergy from plants and animal waste could supply 25 percent of Australia's electricity by 2040 depending on how drought affects farming and forestry.

A study approved by all Australian governments states that we could slash our energy use by up to 30 percent just by using available energy efficiency technology. Greenpeace energy campaigner, Catherine Fitzpatrick, said: "We have the technology and we have the natural resources to bring about a clean energy revolution. Now we need to get the political will."

Wind farm green light: Third stage wins state support

Warrnambool Standard
Friday 25/1/2008 Page: 2

THE third stage of Portland's wind farm development has been given the green light. Pacific Hydro can build 22 wind turbines on Cape Nelson after the State Government confirmed its approval yesterday. The site is part of a $330 million four-site project, which is Australia's largest wind farm development. Stage one of the project at Yambuk is operational, with construction well under way at Cape Bridgewater.

Acting Planning Minister Peter Batchelor said Cape Nelson's generators would provide 44 megawatts to the state's electricity grid. He said the overall project would provide enough renewable energy to power a city the size of Geelong. The site brings the number of approved wind farms in Victoria to 13, in addition to the five currently operating.

"The next stage of this project is significant as the Portland Wind Energy Project will provide enough renewable energy to power more than 100,000 Victorian homes or a city the size of Geelong," Mr Batchelor said. "It will avoid production of around 750,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year - equivalent to taking more than 150,000 cars off the road or planting around three million hectares of plantation forest."

Answer blowin' in wind: New line to power

Newcastle Herald
Friday 25/1/2008 Page: 25

A BRIEFING on a proposed Upper Hunter wind farm has heard the Sydney-based developer believes its project is unlikely to have serious environmental effects, including noise and turbine flicker, on neighbouring properties. Pamada has proposed a $230 million renewable energy centre near Scone and director Mark Sydney and project director Mark Dixon briefed Upper Hunter Shire councillors on the site yesterday.

Mr Sydney said the company's environmental studies, which were unfinished, showed endangered species were present on the site, a 1900-hectare property 12 kilometres west of Scone. He said the project was not in a habitat corridor or a migratory site but it would require referral for consideration under federal environment laws. Investigations showed the impact of the project was "minimal and not unacceptable."

The company was considering organising a public information day late next month. Pamada wants to build the Kyoto Energy Park and generate enough electricity to supply 90,000 houses. The park includes 47 turbines, photovoltaic solar panels spread over a square kilometre and a closed-loop hydro power station. The project has been sent to Planning Minister Frank Sartor for approval.

Wind farm go-ahead

Geelong Advertiser
Friday 25/1/2008 Page: 7

THE third stage of Australia's largest wind farm development, at Portland has been given the go-ahead by the State Government. The third stage in Pacific Hydro's $330 million Portland Wind Energy Project will involve construction of 22 generators which will provide 44 megawatts to Victoria's electricity grid when completed. Stage three will provide enough renewable energy to power more than 100,000 Victorian homes or a city the size of Geelong.