Friday 8 February 2008

Solar power a whole lot bigger

City Chronicle
Tuesday 5/2/2008 Page: 10

CONSTRUCTION is about to start on a new solar power system at The Australian National University. The ANU's SG3 "Big Dish" is the largest solar power system of its kind, and they're about to build a new and bigger one. solar thermal group leader Keith Lovegrove has been researching project for 20 years. They're trying to create a solar power system that will produce solar power at a cost that's comparable to wind energy. The advantage solar power has over wind is it can be stored indefinitely. *

The existing SG3 Big Dish is a prototype for a solar power station. Once the new, more cost effective dish is complete, work will begin to look at building a solar power station prototype that can be connected to the power grid of a small town. "If this was part of a system you could power 100 houses on one dish," Mr Lovegrove said of the SG3 dish, which was built in 1994.

The current dish is 400 square metres and the new dish will be 500 square metres, made up of 400 square mirrors, and is due to be finished by August. Then a small power station of 10 dishes will be built at Wyalla, Queensland and the city will be hooked up to the grid. "Anyone can design a dish, the challenge is to design a cheaper one.

* I think most people involved with renewable energy and electricity storage would seriously question this assertion. Electrical storage is not necessarily determined by how the electricity is produced - Blair

Winds of change worth $135m

Port Pirie Recorder
Tuesday 5/2/2008 Page: 1

A $135 million wind farm is set to turn the rural setting of Clements Gap into a leader in the fight against climate change. National renewable energy company Pacific Hydro says the area southwest of Crystal Brook will be home to the landmark project. This comes after a long journey for both the company and landholders, with approval first granted in 2003. The project takes on special significance because it is the first wind farm since the new Federal Government increased the renewable energy target. It is also the company's first wind farm in South Australia.

The project, consisting of 27 wind generators, 17 kilometres of access tracks, 15 kilometres of power line and a transformer, is expected to generate enough power for at least 25,000 homes. Company spokeswoman Emily Wood expected the project to reap benefits comparable to a similarly sized wind farm in Portland, Victoria, which had 85 businesses and about 320 people working on site during construction. She hoped construction would start in six to eight weeks' time.

The first stage will involve building roads and foundations for the generators. The next stage will be putting the generators in place - not an easy task considering each measures 35 metres in length while the piece connecting these to the tower is the size of a mini-bus. A site manager will be appointed to manage the building work which is expected to take up to two years. Ms Wood said masts were installed on site to monitor the wind.

As a result, the project became a priority. "It is a fantastic site and we have a great community and a fantastic council that is really supportive," Ms Wood said. As well as hospitality, tourism and retail sectors benefiting, smaller community groups will also see spinoffs from the wind farm. The company offers a Sustainable Communities Fund with about $50,000 provided to local groups every year during the life of the project.

Past recipients have included kindergartens and sporting groups. "We want to support this activity and encourage a great environment for the community to live in," Ms Wood said. Mayor Geoff Brock said it was fantastic to see the project come to fruition. "I congratulate Pacific Hydro for not losing enthusiasm... I am looking forward to the first foundation going ahead," he said. "It is an opportunity for economic growth in the region."

The multi-million dollar Clements Gap wind farm has brought a dream to life for Brian and Jill Wilson. The couple is among eight landholders whose properties provide the site for the 27 wind generators that form the new farm. While renewable energy has only come into the spotlight in recent years with the advent of climate change, it is not a new concept for the Wilson family.

"My father had a wind generator to make power at home," Mr Wilson recalled. "Even when I went to school, there were wind farms in the United States." Mr Wilson said his father would have to turn off the generator at night because strong gully winds meant the battery would get too hot. "I always knew it was a windy place," he said. "I always pictured this would be a good site for a wind farm... it is a fairly unique spot." He was a driver in the project, contacting developer company Pacific Hydro after seeing an advertisement in the Stock Journal.

Company representatives door-knocked the area, discovering mostly positive feedback for the idea. "I think it is a real bonus having really good community support for it," Mr Wilson said. "The flow-on to the bigger community is huge. For Crystal Brook and Port Pirie, it is going to be great. Monitoring masts were put up on the Wilsons's property to check wind. Mr Wilson said as a farmer it was rewarding to be involved with a project tackling climate change. "If we can do our little bit to try to reverse it, that is great," he said. "We do not want the droughts and extremes of climates that we have had."

Hydro set to weather drought

Hobart Mercury
Thursday 7/2/2008 Page: 24

GIVEN the media focus on the effect of the drought on Tasmania and its effect on power supplies, Hydro Tasmania believes it is important the community is aware of the facts around our capacity to meet demand. The most important is that it is not raining. While parts of the eastern seaboard have been inundated of late, the past three months have been very dry with much of the state having just recorded its driest January on record.

This is on top of a decade of below average inflows into hydro storages. Hydro Tasmania historically met about 90 per cent of electricity demand through inflows into its storages. Over the past 10 years, these inflows have dropped by 5 to 10 per cent on average, with the lowest year (2006) being 65 per cent of average. Storages are presently 22.4 per cent, compared to 27.6 per cent at the same time a year ago. That is the lowest they have ever been at this tine of the year and highlights the serious effect of the continuing drought and the importance of Basslink in maintaining security of supply.

The state's power demands can presently be met through a combination of hydro generation from inflows and storages, Basslink, which is capable of supplying 25 per cent of the state's demand while being operated commercially, and Bell Bay power station, which can supply from 10 to 15 per cent depending on reliability. Existing wind supplies can meet about 3 per cent of demand.

Without Basslink, storages would be significantly lower. Basslink of late is being used almost entirely to support hydro storages through imports. As a result of recent poor rains, only 4.6 gigawatt hours (GWh) were exported in January 2008, compared to imports of 201.8GWh. In the 2007 calendar year. Tasmania imported 1902GWh across Basslink while exporting 618GWh.

Hydro Tasmania is able to export to the national market to take advantage of high prices and import when prices are lower without affecting the security of supply and our capacity to meet Tasmanian demand. Exports also minimise the degree of spillage of smaller storages, which can fill quickly after heavy local rains.

In 2006/07, Hydro Tasmania spent $100.6 million on power imported via Basslink and on gas to run Bell Bay Power Station to maintain security of supply. The ongoing reliance on Basslink imports to help combat the drought conditions will continue to have a significant financial effect on the business.

New wind energy opportunities are emerging with the change of federal government. Construction of the Musselroe Wind Farm in the state's North- East is expected to go ahead this year. The existence of Basslink helps the state's wind farms develop their full potential.

Hydro Tasmania therefore believes talk of power blackouts in 2009 is premature. While a continuation of the extreme conditions we have experienced over the past three months for a further 15 months could lead to shortfalls in autumn 2009, that is unlikely to happen. It would require several events to occur at the same time, including a prolonged unavailability of Basslink, for there to be a significant possibility of restrictions.

In the meantime, Hydro Tasmania is focused on doing all it can to protect storages, plan for all contingencies and take what action we can to get the best possible use out of our resources and assets to ensure we continue to meet state demand despite the downward trend in rainfall.

Proposed farm to be country's most powerful: Moyne hot wind target

Warrnambool Standard
Thursday 7/2/2008 Page: 4

THE country's most powerful wind farm is proposed to be built outside Mortlake. A 150-turbine site planned at Darlington, five kilometres east of Mortlake, will be capable of generating 450 megawatts of energy. Another new wind development is mooted in the south-west, with 100 turbines forecast on land at Berrybank, near Lismore. Both projects are yet to lodge planning applications but have not been found to require an environmental effects statement.

The Darlington Wind Farm - located south of the Hamilton Highway - would be Australia's most powerful wind energy development. The Macarthur proposal - the largest approved wind farm - could distribute 329 MW into the state electricity grid. Proponents TME Australia yesterday told The Standard that community consultation on the projects would begin within a few months.

Assistant project manager Jang Kim said site assessment work was in the early stages for both projects. The company is also behind proposed wind farms at Hawkesdale and Ryan's Corner. Acciona Energy has also proposed another site for 100 turbines at Mortlake. Moyne Mayor Ken Gale said the size of the two new projects meant they would be decided on by the State Government. "We can just make sure proper and due consultation takes place and certain conditions are met," he said. Moyne is a hot target for wind energy developers, with nine projects either approved or in planning. "We've just got so much wind." Cr Gale said.

Funds help school create its own energy: Pupils' powerful project

Moyne Gazette
Thursday 7/2/2008 Page: 3

A WIND turbine and solar panels installed at Port Fairy Consolidated School were fantastic ways to make the whole community aware of the benefits of renewable energy, school principal Lindy Sharp said. The wind turbine and solar panels generate electricity to help power the school buildings. Moyne environment and sustainability coordinator Keith Davis said the new turbine and other environmental initiatives were actively lowering the school's greenhouse gas emissions while saving energy.

Moyne Shire Council has worked in partnership with the school, helping it obtain a $55,000 grant from the Federal Government through the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Extra funding for the renewable energy project came from the Victorian Education Department, Pacific Hydro Limited and the school itself. The project was one of only 22 across Australia funded under the Government's Low Emissions Technology and Abatement program.

"This Australian Government program helps local governments, businesses, not-for-profit organisations and schools implement greenhouse gas emission reduction actions in their local communities," Mr Davis said. "This project provides school students with the opportunity to experience first-hand the benefits of renewable energy systems through the school networked monitoring equipment. "The project will share these learning benefits with other schools through specially developed curriculum materials that will be accessible on the school's website." Mr Davis said when the school buildings were not in use - such as school holidays and weekends - the surplus energy created was sold back to the electricity grid.

Visitors to the school will be able to see a large-screen display in the school's library showing the day-to-day system performance, energy and greenhouse gas emissions savings. Pupils will be able to monitor the energy savings and calculate emission reductions and learn how that relates to issues such as changing climate and weather patterns, energy use and environmental sustainability.

Consolidated school science teacher Tracey Gray said during 2007 the year four, five and six pupils studied global warming, carbon cycles, sustainability principles, energy footprints and food transport miles, and developed an energy saving plan for the classroom. "This year prep to grade six studies will include learning about solar and wind-powered energy systems," she said. An open day for the project will be held later in the year.

Thursday 7 February 2008

Clean energy expo

Summit Sun
Thursday 31/1/2008 Page: 4

DO you want to know what you or your business can do to help address climate change? If the answer is yes, then come to the 2008 Snowy Mountains Renewable Energy And Climate Change Expo, Banjo Paterson Park, Jindabyne, Sunday the February 10, from gam to 3pm. Last years event was a great success despite the rain. There will be lots of information stalls and displays.

People can attend to find out about Green Power, carbon offsets, solar power and hot water systems, wind and other forms of renewable energy, sustainable building, hybrid vehicles, energy saving devices and much more. This is a non profit event run by Friends Of Renewable Energy, a local community organisation. Admission is free, and the expo will run in conjunction with the Flowing Festival.

Macquarie's Clean Tech on shopping spree

Investor Weekly
February, 2008 Page: 8

The Macquarie Clean Technology Fund's first fund has invested in wind farms in the United Kingdom, a geothermal facility in California and biofuels in the UK, Canada and North America since it closed in October 2007. The fund closed with about $205 million to invest in renewable energy, wave power, wind energy, biofuels, geothermal energy, water and clean air technology.

Australian superannuation funds have been the biggest supporters of the fund, making up about 60 per cent of the investment. European pension funds comprise around 25 per cent of the fund and United States and Canadian endowment funds and family offices 15 percent. Macquarie Funds Management managing director and clean technology portfolio manager Peter Martenson said he believed many US pension funds had tried to enter the clean tech market on their own by investing in one fund in the space. "Our fund is smartly diversified and it's been seeded," Martenson said.

"People want clean energy and, just as we do with other investments, we look for where there's a strong consumer demand. "We see strong individual demand, company demand, regulatory demand and following all that is the regulators and politicians. "We still have 50 per cent to invest and that will take the next 12-18 months to work out our portfolio "We'll probably look at the area of water and waste water as well as clean air." The fund has been focused on buy-out funds investing in renewable energy and energy technology and to a smaller extent on venture capital and opportunistic funds.

$135m wind farm ready to go ahead

Adelaide Advertiser
Wednesday 6/2/2008 Page: 49

SOUTH Australia will play host to a new $135 million, 57-megawatt wind farm to be developed by Melbourne based renewable energy company Pacific Hydro. The wind farm at Clements Gap - 250km north of Adelaide, close to Port Pirie - will be equipped with 27 windmills supplied by India's largest wind generator manufacturer, Suzlon Energy, under a new agreement signed yesterday. By 2009, the wind farm is expected to power 25,000 households.

The wind farm is the first for Pacific Hydro and is also the first to start construction since the Federal Government committed to increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target to 20 per cent by 2020. "South Australia has got an excellent wind regime, streamlined approval process, good transmission lines and there is community support for the Clements Gap project," said Pacific Hydro's chief executive Rob Grant.

SA-based Consolidated Power Projects Australia will begin civil works at the wind farm this April. With construction tipped to take 18 months, the windmills are likely to arrive at Port Adelaide late this year or early next year. Mr Grant said the encouraging policy environment was behind the company's investment decision. "Labour's policy on MRET gave us and the retailers certainty to proceed with the project," Mr Grant said. The project had received planning approval in 2005, but the lack of a supportive policy environment had held back investment decisions. "A 20 per cent renewable energy target is expected to drive more than $20 billion in new investment across Australia." Mr Grant added.

Wednesday 6 February 2008

Renewable energy expo in Jindabyne

For details, email

India builds wind power for Australia

Tuesday 5/2/2008 Page: 2

RENEWABLE energy company Pacific Hydro has signed a deal with India's largest wind generator maker, Suzlon Energy, to equip the company's $140 million South Australian wind farm. For an undisclosed amount, Suzlon Energy will provide 27 turbines that will produce 2.1 megawatts of electricity at Pacific Hydro's Clements Gap wind farm, towards the north of Spencer Gulf.

Pacific Hydro chief executive Rob Grant said Australia should prepare for a renewable energy boom following the Federal Government's promise to increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target to 20% by 2020. Previously, Pacific Hydro had to look overseas to invest, particularly in Chile and Brazil, using the "clean development mechanism instrument" under the Kyoto Protocol.

"Business is already responding to the Australian Government's commitment," Mr Grant said. 'A 20% renewable energy target is expected to drive more than $20 billion in new investment across Australia so we are looking to the Federal Government to make the appropriate legislative amendments as quickly as possible to ensure investment momentum is maintained."


New design blowing in the wind

Adelaide Advertiser
Tuesday 5/2/2008 Page: 45

WIND farm developers are achieving significant construction cost savings as well as reducing the impact on the environment with a new-approach turbine footing designed by Built Environs. The design aims to save developers about $100,000 per footing - a savings which can run into millions of dollars where wind farms have multiple footings.

The Built Environs design anchors the footing in rock. It involves laying a concrete foundation 7m in diameter and up to 2m in depth - held in place by multi-strand steel anchors up to 20m. A more traditional footing design uses gravity and is made of reinforced concrete, sometimes up to 18m in diameter metres of concrete used for each turbine base.

The footprint is substantial, and adds costs for construction and time. "Two real benefits (from the new design) are shorter construction time and a reduction in the environmental impacts caused through construction," Built Environs civil engineering manager Phil Cornish says.

Taralga towers to be higher

Crookwell Gazette
Thursday 31/1/2008 Page: 4

THE developers are seeking to increase further increase the height of the turbine towers in the Taralga Wind Farm. Upper Lachlan Shire Council Director of Environment, Mr. Robert Mowle, reported this to last Council meeting. He said the developers had applied to modify the approved plan to allow for the change. The application will be displayed at the Taralga Post Office and at the Crookwell Library from January 30 to February 15. This will allow respondents to view the details and to lodge objections to the proposals if they desire.

Tuesday 5 February 2008

Blackout: Drought-hit Tassie faces power rationing

Hobart Mercury
Monday 4/2/2008 Page: 1

TASMANIA could be hit with power bans if the 10-year dry that has drained the state's Hydro lakes continues. Energy Minister David Llewellyn has warned of possible blackouts and urged Tasmanians to cut back to preserve "our precious energy resource" in the "record drought." "Notwithstanding the record low inflows in the past few months, there is no plausible circumstance in which Tasmanians will be faced with rationing this year," lie said. "That is, there would need to be an extraordinary convergence of events such as the concurrent and extended loss of Basslink and other generating capacity, before rationing would become an option. "However, if the current record dry continues, then Autumn 2009 may become a challenge." Power has not been rationed in Tasmania since 1967.

The State Opposition and Greens yesterday called for a long-term plan to protect Tasmania from blackouts. "The State Government's energy strategy cannot be pinned simply on praying for rain of biblical proportion," Opposition energy spokesman Peter Gutwein said. "The State Government needs to be taking iunmediate steps to ensure that power rationing does not occur in the short term and it must reveal what long-term steps it is taking to meet the energy needs of all Tasmanians as the impacts of climate change continue to place strain on our energy supplies into the future." Greens energy spokesman Kim Booth said the Government's energy strategy was in tatters and its claim Basslink and the Bell Bay gas power station would drought-proof Tasmania were hot air.

He said the $92 million annual fee to use Basslink would have been better spent developing wind energy. The undersea cable that plugs Tasmania into the national grid can, with the gas power station only provide a quarter to a third of Tasmania's energy load, which is increasing as households install powerhungry devices such as air conditioners and switch to electric heating. After 10 years of low rainfall and the driest November to January on record, Hydro storages are at 23 per cent - the lowest the current system has been at the end of January. Hydro warned that if drought continued, storages would decrease through autumn and would start winter very low - possibly lower than last year's 17 per cent.

Mr Gutwein said the Government must not prop up the Hydro's "parlous" finances by exporting power at high prices. "Are they going to use water that they have got to ensure the lights stay on in Tasmania or are they going to export at higher prices?" he said. "The short-term management of Basslink is absolutely critical. The State Government has now slugged Tasmanians with higher energy charges, it should also reveal if it has held any discussions with other energy companies with a view to establishing increased energy generation in Tasmania.

"There must also be a greater emphasis on better educating Tasmanians in both the commercial and domestic markets on how to better conserve energy." The last time Tasmania was warned blackouts were possible was July 2005, before Basslink giving the state access to Victorian coal power, when lake levels were below 23 per cent and Hydro was set to recommend power rationing to the Government.

It planned to rotate the blackouts geographically to share the pain. Blackouts were to be at peak times to reduce the system load. Tasmania has since endured another two years of drought.

Hearing to begin on plans for 75-turbine wind farm

Ballarat Courier
Monday 4/2/2008 Page: 3

THE planning application for the Crowlands Wind Farm will be considered tomorrow. The Pacific Hydro proposal received Pyrenees Shire Council's full support last year, after it announced plans to build the 75-turbine wind farm. The wind farm will be built about 25kin north-east of Ararat, along the ridge-top between Crowlands and Glenlofty, and would produce enough electricity to meet the annual power needs of 80,000 households.

The application will be considered in six days of panel hearings in Beaufort. The panel will hear from a range of stakeholders including the community, the Country Fire Authority and council, before making a recommendation to the State Government. Pacific Hydro executive manager Andrew Richards said the company had received overwhelming support since consultation began in 2004.

He said community feedback had been used with specialist study results to devise the wind farm design. "The panel hearings provide transparency in the planning process by ensuring all parties can have their say about the project before recommendations are made," Mr Richards said. After the hearings, a recommendation will be made to the planning minister with results expected in April.

Garnaut warned on green energy targets

Monday 4/2/2008 Page: 33

AUSTRALIA'S pipeline industry has warned climate change reviewer Ross Garnaut that the federal Government's commitment to an expanded renewable energy target could lead to higher not lower greenhouse emissions. Professor Garnaut, conducting a climate change review for the federal and state governments, has called for the market to determine the best and least expensive means of greenhouse gas reduction over four decades.

Cheryl Cartwright, chief executive of the Australian Pipeline Industry Association, last week said Professor Garnaut was missing an opportunity to encourage the best process for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. She said the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, which the Rudd Government is committed to lifting to 20 per cent by 2020, could, if set too high, lead to high carbon emissions in the short to medium term if the emissions trading system being investigated by the Garnaut review was not appropriate.

"While Professor Garnaut's proposal follows sound economic theory, it ignores political reality," Ms Cartwright said. "A scheme that can give the appearance that industry might not be doing enough to reduce carbon emissions provides the potential for government intervention in the future." Ms Cartwright has criticised the MRET scheme for its encouragement of wind energy ahead of other renewables as a replacement for coal-tired baseload electricity generation.

"The MRET is an example of the Government picking winners," she said. "It is a scheme that benefits the currently most developed green technology, regardless of the potential of other more innovative and efficient solutions." She said that if the price of carbon in an emissions trading system working in conjunction with MRET was too low, it could result in an increase in higher-emission coal-fired power generation. "A high MRET target will force the price of energy production too high the nonrenewable energy productions costs will need to be reduced as much as possible, hence a focus on coal-fired energy," she said.

Ms Cartwright said it was more appropriate to invest in natural gas as a transitional fuel for power generation. The Government should encourage renewable energy development without ignoring the benefits of moving to natural gas in the eventual transition to fully renewable power sources.

(Could it be the Australian Pipeline Industry Association and the fossil fuel lobby generally, are starting to realise profligate polluting, bankrolling anti clean energy groups and the exceptional hype and spin so beloved by the carbon cabal has passed its use-by date? Subsidies for the fossil fuel folks are OK but MRET's are unfair. Sorry, no points if you picked the contradictions above - Blair)

Renewables to raise power prices

Monday 4/2/2008 Page: 2

RUDD government plans for a 20 per cent Mandatory Renewable Energy Target by 2020 could push up power costs by at least 6 per cent more than the same emissions reductions achieved through carbon trading. New economic analysis commissioned by the gas industry is understood to warn that combining an aggressive renewable energy target with emissions trading could be significantly less efficient than relying on simpler market mechanisms.

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association commissioned economists Charles River and Associates last year to explore the various effects of mandating renewable energy promised during last year's election campaign. The analysis has not yet been released but is understood to estimate a 20 per cent Mandatory Renewable Energy Target would cost the economy $1.5 billion by 2020 and drive the installation of more than 10,000 wind turbines over the next decade.

Under a mandatory renewable target, most new energy investment would go into renewable technologies at the expense of expanding other lower-emission energy sources such as gas, which has about half the emissions of coalfired power and is cheaper than wind energy. Renewable energy currently accounts for about 10 per cent of total national electricity supply in Australia.

Monday 4 February 2008

Wind farm a money-spinner

Ballarat Courier
Saturday 2/2/2008 Page: 31

AN analysis of wind energy has shown the planned wind farm at Leonard's Hill would make money, according to the chairman of Hepburn Wind. Simon Holmes a Court said he was delighted with the findings by Garrad Hassan Pacific, which used information taken from a monitoring mast that had been at the Leonard's Hill site for more than a year. It's great news. It has really reiterated the strength of this project, and reminded us that renewable energy can power a town and help cut dangerous greenhouse emissions at the same time," Mr Holmes a Court Said. It's also reaffirmed what we've known for some time:this project's going to make money for our community."

The analysis took into account the turbine positions, wind, effects from topography, vegetation and long-term weather patterns. Board member and architect Per Bernard described the energy analysis as a very thorough scientific process that confidently predicts what the wind park is actually going to produce''. This energy analysis gives us long-term certainty about the wind park's production levels into the future. It enables the Hepburn Wind board to plan the wind park with real confidence."

Mr Bernard said the assessment showed the two turbines of the Hepburn Community Wind Park should produce enough energy for just under 2300 houses, almost the total number of houses in Hepburn and Daylesford. Hepburn Wind has estimated the renewable energy will cut more than 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the shire's greenhouse emissions. A prospectus for the project is close to completion and is expected to be launched in the first half of the year.

Fortune-hunters find gold in China

Sunday Mail Brisbane
Sunday 3/2/2008 Page: 12

THOUSANDS of Chinese immigrants converged on the Australian goldfields in the 1800s, hoping to make their fortune. Now a new breed of hopefuls are heading the other way Australian business professionals are going to China for a slice of the biggest economic explosion on the planet. China's economy grew by 11.4 per cent last year almost three times as fast as Australia's acclaimed "boom" and it is expected to continue charging upwards by almost 10 per cent this year.

An insatiable hunger for mineral resources means China is expected to overtake Japan as Australia's largest export market this year, worth more than $35 billion. Not just minerals are in demand: Australian expertise is commanding top dollars and adventurous professionals including engineers, lawyers, financial planners, retailers and hospitality specialists are answering the call.

Queensland entrepreneur Damien Weis is one of them. His family-owned business, Pulse Energy, based at Milton in Brisbane, has contracts worth nearly $3 billion to build and operate renewable energy plants in China. There will be 20 wind farms, three hydro-electric stations, four methane power plants and a string of bio-mass projects using material such as sugar cane to produce electricity.

"They need as much power generation as they can get from as many sources as they can," Mr Weis said. "we see unbelievable opportunities there and because of the scale, opportunities are now available to smaller companies that previously were only available to big companies." Australia's "foreign experts" as expats on working visas in China are known have joined Americans, Britons, Germans, French and others in selling their know-how to help develop Chinese businesses.

The expats get a front-row seat on the wild ride that is China's economic revolution. Last week, a group of Queensland professionals based in Shanghai toasted the new land of opportunity. Public relations manager Donna Campbell, Austrade officers Esther Sun, Julie-Anne Nichols and Karen Fowler, hotel manager John Roberts, and marketing professionals Jenny Soo and Maxine Howe, met for drinks at Shanghai's swanky Marriott Hotel, where Ms Campbell is communications director.

Austrade's senior trade commissioner in Shanghai, Christopher Wright, believes Australia's lucrative relationship with China could continue for at least another decade. "The scale of what's happening in China is overwhelming," he said. "I'm still very bullish when it comes to China because the program the Government has for investment is still being rolled out."

$6bn Empire of the Sun

Sunday Mail Adelaide
Sunday 3/2/2008 Page: 74

SOLAR power will be cheaper than coal or oil-powered electricity within five years, China's "Sun King" believes. Dr Zhengrong Shi, an Australian citizen who catapulted from suburban obscurity to become mainland China's richest man, will outline his glowing forecast for solar energy in Adelaide next month at the International Solar Cities Congress.

In a rare interview, Dr Shi told the Sunday Mail how solar power is poised to dramatically fall in cost, how the world will switch to sun power within a generation - and how he proudly flies an Australian flag outside the Chinese headquarters of his solar cell manufacturing plant. "By 2050 about 35 per cent of world electricity will be solar generated, and by the end of the century it will be more than. +' 75 per cent," he said. "I would say within three to five years the cost of generating solar powered electricity will fall to 15c per kilowatt hour." In Australia, electricity from fossil fuel powered sources now costs up to 20c per kilowatt hour, while solar photovoltaic costs around 50c.

The forecast of such a dramatic fall in cost comes amid growing pressure to switch to cleaner energy due to climate change, and as developing nations' appetite for power grows. Dr Shi, 44, is well placed to make predictions about the future of solar energy. He arrived in Australia from China with a master's degree in laser physics in 1988, then began work in a solar research laboratory at the University of New South Wales. He became an Australian citizen as the laboratory's work won international accolades - the lab's Professor Martin Green and Professor Stuart Wenham won the Australia Prize in 1999 for their research.

The high cost of silicon in photovoltaic solar cells, which convert sunlight to electricity, has been a major obstacle to the widespread use of solar power. Dr Shi was part of the team that developed a new generation of silicon wafer cells, significantly reducing the cost. The Chinese Government kept a close eye on its prodigal son, finally wooing him back to set up a solar company in Wuxi, near Shanghai, with a $6.7 million grant. The US Government also tried to lure him.

China's gain was Australia's loss. In 2001, Dr Shi set up solar manufacturing and research firm SunTech Power Holdings, picking up cheap equipment from a bankrupt US firm, and within a few years became China's largest manufacturer of electricity producing solar cells. (He did not use the technology he helped develop in Sydney, as that was protected by patent). He floated the company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005 - and a year later Forbes magazine named him as mainland China's richest man and Australia's fourth richest citizen, with a paper fortune of almost $3 billion.

While $3 billion sounds a lot, if his optimistic predictions for solar's future are correct he will soon be making some serious money. "I have been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time," he said in a telephone interview from his Wuxi headquarters. "The industry is booming; European nations in particular are switching to solar. In terms of sales, solar has surpassed wind-generated power. "We have pollution and greenhouse gases as a result of burning fossil fuels, leading to climate change, and this is driving the demand for solar energy." While European nations look for clean power, Dr Shi noted developing nations would be demanding massive amounts of energy in coming years.

"We are facing an energy resources crisis," he said. "I'll be telling the Solar Cities Congress that more than half the population on Earth are just starting to improve their lifestyles - where will all the energy they demand come from?" While demand rises, Dr Shi predicts the cost of solar energy is about to fall dramatically, likening it to the fall in computer costs. "Solar is within reach of parity of the cost of power generated from conventional sources," he said.

"In the past people have thought it was expensive but that is not the case at all. "In three to five years, based on crystalline silicon wafer technology, in places like Australia and California electricity prices from solar will be around 15c per kilowatt hour. "It is affordable. Most people don't really know about solar so it will be a new path for them. "The industry is moving very fast; it is very dynamic." Suntech's rapid expansion in China now sees it add the electricity capacity equivalent to a major power station every three years, powering military, commercial and domestic clients.

It has been boosted by a Chinese law that aims for 15 per cent of China's energy to be generated from renewable sources by 2020. As demand grows, Dr Shi is continuing his cutting edge research that now sees him hold a dozen patents for breakthroughs in photovoltaic technology. His rise has seen him dubbed the Sun King, but it has come at a price. Married with two sons, he now has a bodyguard and driver as well as the pressures of a workforce of about 5000 and thousands of shareholders in his $6 billion company.

While he misses the more relaxed Australian lifestyle - and his family miss the beach - Dr Shi is as enthusiastic as ever about the industry's future. "We are providing solutions, we have to have this attitude," he said. "And it is a good feeling to help create clean energy." That "good feeling" borders on a crusade - last year's annual office party, held in a sports stadium to accommodate the thousands of employees, included a viewing of Al Gore's environmental documentary An Inconvenient Truth. While the billionaire research scientist is keen to save the world, the fact is global warming is quite convenient for companies like Suntech, which can successfully manufacture renewable energy to wean the world off coal and oil.

Dr Shi's prediction of solar swiftly moving from the alternative fringe to the mainstream is not just based on technical innovations. silicon prices soared tenfold in recent years as a rush of demand took producers by surprise. Dr Shi believes the price of silicon will fall dramatically over the next two years as production increases, cutting costs at the same time as the efficiency of solar cells improves. These changes will see solar able to compete with traditional energy sources on the key factor of cost.

He also believes Australia can still take a leadership role in developing solar technology, pointing to the ground-breaking work that continues to be done at the University of New South Wales. However, he notes the incentives and support that lured him to China do not appear to be available for anyone wanting to create a solar kingdom in Australia.

THE Sun King's rise in turning $6 million in seed capital into a $6 billion company has not been driven by ambition or greed. When he first arrived in Australia he had no interest in photovoltaic research - he simply wanted to find a way to stay in Australia. Then, after discovering his knack for the field, he felt let down when the breakthrough technology he helped develop at the University of New South Wales failed to be commercialised. Indeed, not long before he received the offer from the Chinese Government he was considering quitting research to set up a restaurant in Sydney. Instead, he went back to China and started an empire of the sun.

As well as being a keynote speaker at the International Solar Cities Congress, Dr Shi intends to use the trip to build contacts with a view to developing business relationships with South Australia, where Suntech products are already sold. The billionaire scientist has the knowledge and technology; South Australia has the demand and the sunshine - it could be the start of a beautiful relationship.

It's all go for wind farms

Portland Observer
Wednesday 30/1/2008 Page: 1

PACIFIC Hydro is moving full steam ahead on two stages of the Portland Wind Energy Project, with generators expected to go up at Cape Bridgewater within weeks, and government approval of the Cape Nelson south (Stage Three) project given on Thursday. Pacific Hydro public relations officer Emily Wood said Stage Three would include 22 generators located on the east and west sides of Cape Nelson Rd/Scenic Rd, which would be the same size as those being built at Cape Bridgewater, 109 metres from the tip of the blade to the ground.

She said now that the stage had been approved, the next step would be to advise landholders in the area that Pacific Hydro had been given the final "tick" and construction would start shortly. "We usually contact landholders in writing, giving notice of our intention to begin work within 14 days, which also gives landholders an option to discuss any concerns with us." Ms Wood said she expected work would start within the next few weeks.

"Work will begin in the north-west area of the site (the top right hand section of the map) and initially, access tracks and the temporary compound will be built." After that, Pac Hydro would prepare the batching plant (so contractors can make concrete on site, reducing trucks on the roads), then the laying of foundations for the wind generators would begin.

She said the majority of work would be done by local contractors, with GR Can and Mibus Brothers having the main contracts for the civil works. "The Cape Bridgewater project has 60 per cent local employment and content, with the other 40 per cent from generators imported from overseas; we are hoping to continue that with the Cape Nelson project." Ms Wood said Pacific Hydro did not anticipate there would be any disturbance to residents because Stage Three was not a township area.

"It is hoped any disturbance will be kept to a minimum, and residents will be kept fully aware of what is happening." She said an existing quarry on the site would be used for road toppings on access tracks. "With the batching plant on site too, this should mean that there is not very much of an increase in trucks on the roads. It is likely that only one truck a day will be required to go to the site. "As soon as things become more finalised and movements are confirmed, the community will be made aware via a letterbox drop or a knock on the door." Ms Wood said it was really great to get the final approval for Stage Three and to be able to move forward. "This is really exciting and a great way to start 2008.

We would like to thank the community, which has been very patient. It is great that what we have been saying we would do, can now be done." In other news Stage Two of the PWEP (Cape Bridgewater) is progressing well with blades and cells starting to arrive. Pacific Hydro is now waiting for a specialised crane to arrive and be assembled on site. Ms Wood said it was hoped the transportation of blades and work on erecting the generators would begin in three weeks or so. "We will advise the community as soon as details are confirmed. The first section for work to begin will be the Amos Rd site." Approval is still pending for Stage Four of the project which is Cape Nelson north and Cape Sir William Grant.

Power on at last for remote isle

Border Mail
Saturday 2/2/2008 Page: 8

LONDON: Life on a remote Scottish island became much much brighter yesterday when islanders flicked on the electricity for the first time. The 87 residents on the Isle of Eigg were celebrating the fact they will no longer have to rely on old diesel generators as their main, but intermittent, power source. Instead they will be able to toast bread, flick on the lights and boil the kettle whenever they like.

The tiny Hebridean island is using a combination of five wind turbines, solar and hydroelectric energy hooked up to 6km of cables to deliver its new continuous power source. "I've just gone and bought a toaster for the first time," Sue Kirk, the island's shopkeeper, said. "I'm going to avoid going on a mad spending spree but with the weather the way it is, it's tempting to get a tumble dryer as well because it's been raining non-stop since Christmas." Islanders campaigned for two decades to get electricity on Eigg.