Saturday 23 February 2008

SA: Coober Pedy to get solar power station

AAP Newswire
Tuesday 19/2/2008

Australia's largest solar power station is to be built at Coober Pedy in South Australia's mid-north. It'll provide more than 10 per cent of the city's electricity. Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett says the seven million dollar project will produce nearly two thousand megawatt hours of power each year. It'll feature 26 solar dishes, each one 14 metres high.

Coober Pedy was chosen because it's not connected to the electricity grid, and gets all its power from diesel generators. The solar power station will cut diesel use in the town by more than half a million litres, and save one and a half thousand tonnes of greenhouse gases. The federal government will provide three and a half million dollars for the station with other funding coming from the state government and private industry.

Premier Mike Rann says the project will consolidate the state's reputation as a leader in renewable energy initiatives. He says South Australia already provides nearly half of the nation's wind power, more than 45 per cent of the nation's grid-connected solar power, and is home to more than 80 per cent of all geothermal exploration activity in Australia. The new Coober Pedy power station is expected to begin generating electricity by the end of 2009.

Big business moves early on carbon offsets

Herald Sun
Wednesday 20/2/2008 Page: 49

A NATIONAL emissions trading scheme is due to become mandatory next year, with about 1500 companies poised to be hit with liabilities for emissions. But big business isn't waiting for the carbon axe to fall - a large number of companies are already dipping their toes into the water, a carbon offset provider says. "The market for voluntary participation has been growing at a surprisingly rapid rate," CO2 Australia chief executive Andrew Grant said.

"Whether it's brand consciousness, consumer demand or initiated by companies to attract employees, involvement has taken off in the past 12 months." While some of these companies may not attract a liability next year under the Federal Government's proposed scheme, others certainly will and are engaging in pilot investments for the purpose of learning and discovery. "For us, the sky is the limit, really," Mr Grant said.

Set up in 2004, CO2 Australia focuses on carbon sequestration, scoring credits by establishing commercial-scale Mallee Eucalypt plantings that draw carbon from the air. While tree planting is the best known form of carbon offsetting, offsets such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and methane capture projects are growing in scale and popularity.

But tree planting is still typically the cheapest way to create a carbon credit, delivering businesses such as CO2 Australia a commercial advantage, Mr Grant said. "All roads lead to Rome and if we can deliver the offset more cheaply, the market will reward that." The company's clients include Origin Energy and Qantas. In November, CO2 Australia announced its biggest deal to date, to provide Woodside with up to $100 million of carbon offsets. Mr Grant says the deal confirms the scale of the business opportunities in the Australian carbon market.

While tree planting can easily be tailored to the scale of a client's needs, it is the offset category most heavily criticised by environmentalists. Critics such as Total Environment Centre executive director Jeff Angel say tree plantations are ultimately reversible, the trees take a long time to grow and might die prematurely. He prefers energy efficiency and renewable energy offsets, such as building wind farms, which provide new energy and prevent coal power stations being built.

Mr Angel is also concerned about the varying quality of offsets available. "You need to ask questions about accreditation, auditing, transparency and monitoring results," he said. Monitoring is important to ensure the offset purchased has done what it promised to do. TEC is evaluating carbon offsets provided by a host of providers and will prepare a report on its findings. Ultimately, said Mr Angel, reducing emissions is preferable to offsets. CO2 Australia, nevertheless, stands by its product, saying carbon sequestration is the only way to rid the atmosphere of carbon already existing in it.

Mr Grant said the company - through the administration arrangements of individual schemes- guaranteed the sinks were permanent, not temporary. The company has to prove carbon sequestration annually, taking account of tree loss, and the government carries out independent audits, he said. The Department of Sustainability and Environment is seeking offers for the supply of accredited and verified carbon offset products to account for Victorian Government fleet emissions for 2006-07 and 2007-08. The tender closes tomorrow.

Friday 22 February 2008

Smoke and Mirrors

Time Australia
Monday 25/2/2008 Page: 44

No country except the U.S. is crawling with more venture capitalists looking to fund green-energy deals these days than China. The rush has not yet reached dotcom-boom proportions, but VCs and entrepreneurs see big opportunities in helping the country cope with its horrendous pollution problems through alternative energy development. Deals are getting done. China is applying green principles to the construction of entirely new cities such as Dongtan, an area outside of Shanghai the size of Manhattan, which will use recycled water only and generate electricity using biomass. Last year, 3.4 gigawatts (GW) of wind energy were added to China's electrical grid, making the country the fastest growing market for wind power in the world. And by 2020, China will quadruple its nuclear capacity from 10GW to 40, again the fastest rate of growth globally.

But to anyone laboring under the impression that China is well on its way to a carbon neutral future, reality can be sobering. Despite progress on the alternative-energy front, demand for power is expanding at such an extraordinary rate that it can only be satisfied by the combustion of vast additional quantities of coal, oil and natural gas. For example, between 2008 and 2030, the incremental increase in China's consumption of oil alone is expected to equal India's total annual oil consumption today, according to the International Energy Agency. "The government is being very aggressive in its pursuit of hydro, nuclear and renewables," says Jone-Lin Wang, a senior director at Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), a U.S. energy consultancy. "But overall you're not really moving the dial that much over the next 10 to 20 years.

These things take time." Time is not on China's side. The government has announced plans to add an astonishing 1300 GW to its electrical generation capacity by 2020. (The U.S. is currently capable of generating 1000 GW.) The goal is for 25-30% of this to come from clean and renewable technologies. But even if these ambitious targets are achieved, some 70% of China's electricity will still come from coal-fired plants in 2020. That's down from about 78% today.

One reason China is so power-hungry: beginning in 2002, the country began dramatically expanding its heavy industries such as steel and aluminum production and auto manufacturing-capital-intensive businesses that are huge energy hogs. Five years ago, the ratio of heavy industry output to GDP in China was 55%; that rose to a staggering 120% last year. Today, light and heavy industry accounts for nearly three quarters of the country's energy use. As a result, China is not a particularly efficient consumer of power, lagging well behind Japan, the U.S. and other developed countries in the amount of economic output it generates for every gigawatt consumed. Hoping to become 20% more energy-efficient over the next 12 years, Beijing in 20o6 ordered heavy industries and local officials to develop more judicious consumption strategies.

The government also increased pressure on provincial governments to enact strict building codes to make new office buildings and shopping centers less wasteful. Laudable moves, but there's another reason why China is becoming as addicted to hydrocarbons as the U.S.: the middle-class dream is coming true for tens of millions of mainlanders, who are buying their first cars, computers, clothes dryers and other electrical appliances. Some estimate that China last year surpassed the U.S. as the largest producer of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, yet the impact of the country's growing consumerism has barely started to spread across the world's energy and environmental landscape.

To put matters into perspective, consider China's massive Three Gorges Dam, a $29 billion project that displaced millions of peasants in return for a big jolt of clean, affordable hydropower. According to a forecast by policymakers at Beijing's Sustainable Energy Program, electricity demand from air-conditioners purchased by Chinese in 20o8 alone will exceed the total capacity of Three Gorges Dam.

Air-conditioners? What if 300 million Chinese decide to buy SUVs? "The Chinese are sort of like the Americans," says CERA's Wang. "They like big cars and houses." That's an observation likely to darken the outlook of even the sunniest of solar power advocates, and knock the wind right out of the sails of wind-power fans. No matter how much China invests in green technologies, it looks like it won't be enough.

Power boost: State pledge fuels wave energy hope

Border Watch
Wednesday 20/2/2008 Page: 1

THE State Government's pledge to be carbon neutral by 2020 has boosted the South East's chances of securing a multi-million dollar wave energy plant. It may also lead to the development of additional wind farms in the region which is already home to a significant proportion of the state's wind energy.

Carnegie Corporation managing director Michael Ottaviano said the announcement would definitely have an impact when it came to selecting an appropriate site for the world first $450m wave energy plant. "It can certainly only be a positive when we're looking at prospective sites for any sort of carbon neutral energy plant or desalination facility," Dr Ottaviano said. Dr Ottaviano said the Carnegie Corporation "applauded" the initiative announced by Premier Mike Rann on Monday. "I think it's the way the whole world is going and the South Australian Government is at the forefront of that," he said.

Wattle Range Council chief executive officer Frank Brennan also welcomed the announcement and said it may result in further renewable energy developments for the region. "We will look to take advantage of that with expansion in wind farm development in the Limestone Coast region," Mr Brennan said. "I think that we will see a raft of other renewable energy projects get up throughout the state. "When you look around in the Limestone Coast there has been a number of additional wind farm projects that have been mooted in the past four or five years and I think they will be brought back, reviewed and implemented." Mr Brennan said South Australia was a national leader in terms of renewable energy. "I would agree that South Australia probably leads the rest of the nation in terms of embracing renewable energy targets and taking on those initiatives," he said.

He said wind farms had been extremely important for the Wattle Range Council in terms of the economic activity and employment generated as a result. Premier Mike Rann vowed on Monday that South Australia would be home to the first carbon neutral government. He said the State Government was one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the state. "The State Government will now work towards becoming carbon neutral for its own operations by accelerated purchases of accredited Green Power and other carbon offsets," Mr Rann said.

He said the aim was to offset all greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to achieve carbon neutrality by purchasing an equal amount of Green Power and other carbon offsets. "We hope that our determination to reduce our carbon footprint will in turn inspire and encourage industries and other governments to follow our lead - thereby further increasing demand for green energy," Mr Rann said. "By ramping up its purchase of Green Power, the Government will encourage demand for renewable energy which should lead to greater installation of sustainable energy generators." Mr Rann said South Australia was currently home to almost half the nation's wind power, 45pc of the nation's grid-connected solar power and more than 80pc of all geothermal exploration activity in Australia.

For more information on climate change in South Australia, visit

Thursday 21 February 2008

NSW deflects calls for solar subsidies

Sydney Morning Herald
Tuesday 19/2/2008 Page: 3

THE Sun King has had a vision, but the NSW Government has its own ideas. Zhengrong Shi, the Australian trained solar energy scientist who has in seven years gone from an academic position at the University of New South Wales to become the richest person in mainland China, yesterday called on the Government to intervene in the state's energy market and subsidise solar panels on houses.

Dr Shi urged the Premier, Morris Iemma, to adopt a system of "feed-in tariffs", in which people who generate solar energy at home can sell it back to the state grid at more than the market rate. Variations of the system work successfully in most European nations, Canada, Japan and China, leading to large increases in the number of people using solar power.

"We want to see them do that, and I think they need to do that soon," Dr Shi told the Herald. "It is the way to develop the industry to the level it needs to be at." The South Australian Government announced yesterday that it would-be following Dr Shi's advice, and introducing feed-in tariffs from July 1, but NSW will not be joining in. A spokesman for the Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald, said NSW was not considering feed-in tariffs. Instead, NSW is seeking national consistency on this matter.

For the same reasons we strongly support a single expanded renewable energy target rather than separate state-based schemes, thereby providing the lowest cost to consumers and reducing compliance costs to industry while achieving the same environmental outcomes." The legislation passed in the South Australian Parliament yesterday covers small businesses, schools and churches, as well as private homes, all of which will soon be able to sell energy back to the grid at twice the market rate.

The South Australian Premier, Mike Rann, also committed to making his government completely carbon neutral by 2020, by a combination of energy savings, renewable power generation and the purchase of carbon offsets. The state's gas and electricity retailers would also be forced to offer customers partial rebates for getting their homes insulated and draught-proofed, and for using more efficient appliances. "We've got less than 8 per cent of Australia's population but we have about 50 per cent of the nation's wind power and nearly 50 per cent of the nation's solar power," Mr Rann said.

He is hosting the third International Solar Cities Congress, a meeting of experts on renewable energy and climate change, which concludes tomorrow. A national feed-in tariff system in Australia would mean up to 1 million homes becoming self-sufficient in energy by 2015 - and it would likely reap further healthy profits for Dr Shi's SunTech Holdings, which dominates the solar market in China. The call for feed-in tariffs was backed by green groups, which said a national tariff would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4 million tonnes each year, stimulate jobs growth and enhance local industry.

Praying for calm at the cape

Portland Observer
Friday 15/2/2008 Page: 5

Pacific Hydro management was yesterday praying the wind stopped blowing at Cape Bridgewater for the next few months to allow contractors to perform the delicate task of installing towers and turbines at the wind farm. The first of 29 towers is up at the project's Amos Rd site, but yesterday morning contractors were playing a waiting game as strong winds prevented the lifting and installation of the 39 tonne wind blades to the top of the 69 metre high tower.

The blades had also remained on the ground during Wednesday because of strong winds. Pacific Hydro site manager Danny Halstead said the company was hoping to progress at the rate of installing two towers and generators a week - weather conditions pending. "We chose autumn to do this work because it is traditionally the calmest time of year, so fingers crossed," he said. "The third shipment of blades from Europe is expected to arrive at the Port of Portland next month we are doing Amos Rd first and then will proceed to the sites at Blowholes Rd." The Cape Bridgewater wind farm is the second stage of the company's Portland Wind Energy Project.

The second stage will have a generating capacity of 58 megawatts. Meanwhile, one of the companies working at the project, crane company Windhoist. has confirmed its intentions to use Portland as a base to seek opportunities in the region. UK-based McNally Crane-Windhoist director Hugh McNally said the company had established an office in Portland and recruited local employees and subcontractors. "It is the intention to build relationships and skills and use them as a basis for opportunities in the general region," he said. "All is at a very early stage."

SA aims to be carbon neutral

Ballarat Courier
Tuesday 19/2/2008 Page: 10

EVERYTHING the South Australian Government does, from running buses and trains to its office lighting, will have to become carbon neutral by 2020. Opening the third international Solar Cities Congress in Adelaide, South Australian Premier Mike Mr Rann outlined a timetable to offset all the greenhouse gas emissions produced by government activities.

The government also has announced a new scheme to have energy retailers help households reduce their overall energy use and has established an independent council to advise on reducing greenhouse emissions and adapting to climate change. We hope that our determination to reduce our carbon footprint will, in turn, inspire and encourage industries and other governments to follow our lead, thereby increasing demand for green energy," the premier said.

Wednesday 20 February 2008

Wallaby gets second wind in energy renewal

Monday 18/2/2008 Page: 29

IN Bill Calcraft's first international career the term "renewable energy" meant training hard enough to put in a powerful second-half for the Wallabies. The premiership-winning flanker for Sydney club Manly had enough energy to play 21 games for the national rugby union team and be in the Grand Slam tour of the UK in 1984. Today an Australian Test cap sits on a sideboard in Calcraft's office in London beneath a few photos of Wallaby line-ups, but next to it is another trophy, a "Renewable Energy Award" sponsored by Euromoney and Ernst & Young.

Calcraft, 48, is now a private equity investor specialising in operating renewable energy assets, mostly wind power in Europe, and he believes the industry in Australia is underperforming badly. "It is really quite sad to see Australia trailing behind other developed countries in something as important as this," Calcraft says. "Australia is in a very lucky position with all the coal and other resources it has, but it also has fantastic wind resources and we can take advantage of the fact that the Europeans have already done much of the trial and error work (in developing the industry)."

We have been well behind global thinking and there still seems to be this old-fashioned attitude that getting serious about this is some sort of greenie thing. That is rubbish. This is about a serious engineering industry and sophisticated investors. There is over $100 billion invested in it and that is not play money or just charity. That is serious investment by global institutional investors and all these new wind farms are not being built by accident. A hell of a lot of research and financial muscle goes into it. Renewable energy, especially wind power is not a 'future industry' it is a 'now industry' and a very, very commercially driven one.

"I'm deadly serious about it and I'm not exactly what you would call a greenie or a hippie." If you did want to call Calcraft a hippie you probably would not do it to his face. With the broken nose, twisted fingers and pop-out teeth of a rugby veteran, he has conservative political views and is adamant that his interest in the industry `'is commercially driven rather than climate driven."

As a managing director in the renewable energy fund of the German insurer and investor Allianz he has helped build a portfolio of more than 350 million ($566 million) in wind farms in Germany and Italy, with more expansion planned. Much of his time is spent travelling across Europe to seek new investments and stay in touch with his fund's 250-megawatt portfolio, which includes some of the biggest onshore turbines in the world. With `wing spans' of more than 100m, they could comfortably reach from goal line to goal line on any rugby field in the world.

A law and commerce graduate before his Wallaby career, Calcraft played the last of his three Tests against Argentina in 1986 and then spent two years at Oxford studying politics, philosophy and economics and captaining the university rugby team. He returned to Sydney to work briefly for the controversial stockbroker Rene Rivkin before going back to the UK to take up investment banking. His wife Una is English they first met during the Grand Slam tour and their children Darcy, 16, and Kit, 11, have English accents and dual passports.

Calcraft's first contact with the wind industry came in 2001 when he became a director of a Belgian engineering company that had been bought by Allianz. Since then he has helped to build Allianz's own collection of renewable energy assets. "A lot of institutional money is trying to invest in renewables so people have often struggled to find vehicles for doing that. The best way is often to directly buy and manage your own assets," he says. "We are watching solar, wave power, geothermal... all of that but at the moment wind is the one that is up and running and can give you commercial scale.

"The early industry in Germany and Denmark was driven by retail investors buying into a small farm, maybe even a single turbine at a time, and some of that early investment did not perform well because they hadn't done the right research on things like wind conditions. "Now it's institutional investors and the whole thing is a lot more professional with better analytics. The attraction for investors is that these are low-yielding infrastructure assets with extremely steady returns.

No matter how volatile the debt and equity markets might get, these assets will keep giving you project returns of something like 7 per cent and that stability is very, very attractive to pension funds and superannuation funds. "The beauty for Australia is that it has much better wind conditions than a place like Germany and we can learn from the mistakes they have already made. They have developed much more efficient turbines and systems for predicting the wind... they have also found the ideal is to have about 20 per cent of your total electricity production coming from wind," Calcraft says.

"In Denmark and northern Germany they have gone much higher than that and it can create problems on your grid. Stick to about 20 per cent and it works fantastically as part of the overall mix. "The critics in Australia are still going on about wind turbines being inefficient and needing subsidies and higher costs.

But the price of wind power has already got to the stage where it is competitive and on good projects it can be cheaper than most other sources. "The wind doesn't blow all the time, of course, but it's just a matter of managing that variability as you plan your overall balance of energy sources. "And people seem to forget the tens of billions of dollars in tax breaks and other subsidies that have gone into coal and nuclear energy taxpayers in Europe are still going to spend decades paying massive amounts to clean up nuclear energy plants. "The big issue is to get the balance right between different sources of power and wind just have to have a big part in that."

Silverton residents to vote on wind farm

Barrier Daily Truth
Saturday 16/2/2008 Page: 3

A secret ballot by Silverton residents will help determine whether the Silverton Village Committee supports or opposes the proposed $2 billion wind farm. The ballot simply asks whether residents are for or against the wind farm, said Silverton Village Committee chairman, Ines McLeod, yesterday. "When the votes are counted, whatever the majority is, the village committee will have to try to help out. "We'll do our best to represent whoever the majority Renewable-energy company Epuron is working on plans to build 500 wind turbines on the ranges near the township. The proposal so far has attracted its share of support and opposition.

Mrs McLeod said a secret ballot was chosen so everyone at Silverton - about 45 residents - could have their say without recriminations. "It's a small community and people do not always come forward with their views; they might be frightened of upsetting their neighbors," said Mrs McLeod. The votes will be collected on March 1 and counted by independent scrutineer Brian Nicholls. The result will be presented at the committee's March 11 meeting.

The committee has not declared its stance on the wind farm. "It (the vote result) might give us some idea where to go," said Mrs McLeod. And if the ballot gets a poor response? "We'll give up, I suppose," said Mrs McLeod. "And if people oppose it, they'll have to fight it themselves."

Intelligent Power Module

Energy Source & Distribution
Friday 1/2/2008 Page: 23

For the dynamically growing wind power market Semikron offers the ready for use SKiiP, an intelligent power module (IPM) with perfectly matched cooling, gate driver, current sensors and protective functions already integrated. High load and temperature cycling capability is ensured with the patented SKiiP pressure contact technology.

With a power range into the MW range, this IGBT subsystem is the most powerful IPM available in the market. The total wind power capacity installed since 1993 worldwide is
72.6 gigawatt.

Energy storage system completes trials

Energy Source & Distribution
Friday 1/2/2008 Page: 18

Energy solutions company, CBD Energy Limited (CBD), is ready to commercialise its energy storage system following successful completion of internal trials.

The system has exceeded expectations in internal trials, producing superheated steam of sufficient quality to verify its design concept and drive a steam turbine/ generator. The first application of this technology will be in CBD's joint venture with Hydro Tasmania on King Island. Installation on King Island of six storage modules, in conjunction with additional wind turbines and a control system, will enable King Island to be powered mainly by renewable energy, replacing annual diesel use of approximately 1.25 ML.

Successful completion of the internal trials is a breakthrough since lack of economical and long lasting energy storage has been a barrier for the wider use of renewable energy world wide. According to CBD executive chairman, Mr Gerry McGowan, installation of a workable energy storage system will attract global interest as its application has far reaching consequences for both grid connected power systems and remote area power systems. "By enabling a bigger take up of renewable energy, energy storage will also enable substantial progress towards reductions in greenhouse gases," Mr McGowan said.

CBD's energy storage system has the following features:
  • each unit contains 19 tonnes of graphite blocks in the size of a standard transport container;
  • each block has 420 kW of silicon carbide
  • heating elements and heating of the block with electricity enables it to reach temperatures of 800°C and above, with heat energy then released in various forms depending on the required application.

A job well done

Bay Post
Wednesday 13/2/2008 Page: 47

ON February 10 the first of the LifeSaving Energy Big Swim series was held on Lake Jindabyne. Held in near perfect conditions, an impressive $16,000 was raised on the day. The seven-kilometre swim from Kalkite to the town of Jindabyne had 20 competitors. Well done to Terry Casey who swam the longest swim of his life and would have put most people half his age to shame. Colby Rook swam the lake in a blistering one hour 35 minutes, and won the mountain bike donated for the swimmer who gained the most sponsorship.

There was a fine showing from the South Coast Anglican College, and there was a huge turnout from Tathra Surf Club members who came in force to make sure that all went smoothly. Thanks also to Doctor Cath Newman and Doctor Gabe Khouri who were on the lake for medical backup. In particular I would like to thank all the sponsors in the mountains and on the coast who supported this event. We had gold coin donations, and major individual sponsors, businesses and swimmers all got behind this event.

It was an heroic feat to raise $16,000, almost the sum necessary to install a two kilowatt photovoltaic system and a 400-watt wind turbine on the roof of Jindabyne Surf Club. I am sure that the additional $5000 necessary for the installation will come, and as soon as we can get the plan through council we will have the system installed. The next LifeSaving Energy Big Swim will be in Narooma on the weekend of April 19 and 20, to raise money for renewable energy for the Narooma and Bermagui surf clubs. This will be a seven kilometre swim in the Wagonga Inlet. Where to next? Clean Energy for Eternity aims to get all seven surf clubs in south-eastern NSW set up with renewable energy by the end of the year.

Turbines spinning at first wind farm site of Barunga Ranges

Flinders News
Wednesday 13/2/2008 Page: 1

As Clement's Gap residents await the Pacific Hydro wind farm, the first of about 130 TrustPower Australia Holdings wind-turbines is already in motion further south on the Barunga Ranges. A 110-metre high wind turbine 110m-high is visible to the northwest of National Highway One from Snowtown. According to the State Goverment's Trade and Economic Development Department, a whopping 360MW/h of electricity will be jolted into the national power grid on completion of the two-stage Snowtown Wind Farm.

This wind farm project is expected to cost about $600 million and is set to become the largest project of its kind in the southern hemisphere. With the $200 million first-stage of the project already underway, it is anticipated that the initial 42 wind-turbines of this stage alone will produce enough energy to supply 60,000 South Australian homes.

Further generator infrastructure may be required between the completion of stage one and two due to the thermal constraints of the project's considerably larger second stage. Meanwhile, a purpose-built ElectraNet collector substation and the current Hummocks to Bungama 132kV power transmission lines will assist in delivering the electricity. The wind-farm projects in the Barunga Ranges continue to receive strong community support from the surrounding communities of Snowtown, Redhill, Lochiel, Bute, Mundoora, and Crystal Brook.

Farewell wind farm

Port Lincoln Times
Thursday 14/2/2008 Page: 9

FROM 47-degree days to below zero Scotland weather - that's the change Cathedral Rocks Wind Farm facilities manager John Fannin will be making next week. Mr Fannin is leaving on February 15, to take on a new role managing the construction of wind farms as installation manager with new German company REpower in Edinburgh, Scotland. "I'll be responsible for the construction of wind farms based around the whole of the United Kingdom," he said. "There's six projects lined up already, including a major one with over 100 turbines.

"REpower is one of the major players in the wind industry, and they're also starting to build projects in Australia - in fact there's a Scottish guy coming over here as an installation manager to build wind farms, at about the same time I'm going over there. "They make the biggest commercially available turbines in the world - at five megawatts, they're two-and-a-half times the size of these (at Cathedral Rocks)." In the past six years Mr Fannin has worked in the wind industry in Denmark, Germany, Spain and France.

"I enjoy meeting new people and experiencing different cultures, and I need to be challenged or else I get bored - moving to Scotland will be another valuable life building experience for me and my family." Mr Fannin said he had enjoyed his time in Port Lincoln and working with his team at the farm, and he hoped to return for holidays to the city where his daughter Lina was born and he and his wife Annie married.

"I got married here on the Tunarama weekend, 2006 - it was 47 degrees. "We had our daughter on the 18th of June 2007, and I would like to bring her back one day to see where she was born. "I've made a good network of friends here, being a member of the Port Lincoln Yacht Club and Flinders Hockey Club. "I really enjoy the town, the environment - Port Lincoln is a great place to live. "Things I'll miss are the weather, the people, the sailing and the relaxed nature of the whole community. "Port Lincoln's definitely going to move forward in the future with new mines and schools, and stage three of the marina - we just need people on the council that move with the times and allow the town to develop to its full potential."

Tuesday 19 February 2008

Empowered, Castlemaine takes bold step into unknown

Saturday 16/2/2008 Page: 9

With CSIRO help, an entire town is turning green to ensure its future.

Castlemaine has a problem. A quarter of its population of 8300 is employed by some of the town's biggest polluters. With climate change snapping at their heels, the townsfolk are on an urgent quest to work out how to stop wrecking the environment without hurting the companies that employ them. It is a prickly conundrum but not one faced by Castlemaine alone. Towns and cities around Australia, if not the world, are in the same bind.

Castlemaine is uncomfortably close to crunch point. Like many others, the town and its industries rely on coal-fired electricity from the Latrobe Valley - itself home to one of the biggest polluting power stations in Australia. Energy bills are rising and the system that delivers the power is overstretched.

To top it all, 11% of electricity is simply lost in transmission before it even gets to Castlemaine - a cost the locals have to bear. They cannot go on like that. And they will not. The community, including its schools, industries, local hospital, the Mount Alexander Shire Council and others have agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on 2000 levels by 30% by 2010. It is part of an eight-month CSIRO project, officially launched yesterday, to cut energy use and explore new technologies to provide power. If they achieve their aim, Castlemaine could be a model for the nation.

But it is all very well making commitments - what are they actually doing? Behavioural change to cut energy use is already under way. At Castlemaine North Primary School, electricity bills have been slashed by 33% in the past three years. Lights, computers, printers, heaters, the hot water urn and water cooler are all turned off when they are not needed. Simple measures over three years that have amounted to eight fewer tonnes of coal being burnt. And that is just the school.

Buoyed by enthusiasm to go green, a mind-set change is taking place. Householders are vigilant about electricity use. Castlemaine Secondary College and Newstead Kindergarten, using government grants, have installed solar panels. The football club in nearby Maldon is doing the same. In two years, half the club's power needs are expected to be met by solar power. Targets achievable through little effort are, as green experts call it,"low-hanging fruit." But deeper energy efficiencies require greater effort and complex technological solutions.

That is where industries come in. Smallgoods manufacturer KR Castlemaine is the town's biggest employer. Its plant is almost entirely refrigerated, using 22 million kilowatts/ hour of electricity each year to cook and cool 50,000 tonnes of frankfurts, bacon, salami and sausages. Its yearly greenhouse gas emissions are equivalent to those produced by about 8000 cars in a year.

Cutting emissions and securing future energy supply while maintaining productivity, jobs and the bottom line is no small task. Research and development manager Bill Voul says the "smart cookies" at CSIRO are helping the company explore areas where it might get the best bang for its buck." Beyond the gains made by efficient energy use through behavioural change, solar panels, local wind farms and cogeneration might provide answers. CSIRO's Sean Rooney explains cogeneration involves capturing heat generated as a byproduct of a process and reusing it by converting it back into energy for other purposes.

So, using cogeneration technology, it might be possible to capture heat produced as a byproduct of KR Castlemaine's processes, convert it to energy and transfer it to, say, the local hospital for laundering linen, he says. Not so much an innovation in technology, he says, more an innovation in organisations, businesses and the community working together. The challenge is how do you go about working together to do this stuff? How do you implement cogeneration technology? Who funds that? Is it an asset owned by companies or does the council own it? Who operates it? It's the devil in the detail," he says.

The collaborative approach to turn Castlemaine green is one of 12 CSIRO projects under way around the country. So far, Castlemaine has laid out its target, got all the players in the same room and embarked on energy audits. CSIRO social scientist Peta Ashworth estimates possible solutions for Castlemaine's energy problems could be on the table by August. Castlemaine's future depends on the health of its businesses. Mount Alexander Shire Council chief executive Adrian Robb says energy security is critical for the livelihood of the shire. "This community's success and enthusiasm comes about from embracing a whole-of-community approach to sustainability," he says.

Lessons to be learnt from the Castlemaine experiment are yet to be revealed. But it is already apparent any town or city that hopes to have a sustainable future will almost certainly need to adopt a collaborative approach among its businesses, households, governments and local councils. On that front, Castlemaine is one step ahead.

Low-cost answer to emission targets

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 16/2/2008 Page: 42

AUSTRALIA could make a 30 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 at a cost to households of less than $300 a year, says a report released yesterday. The report, from management consultants McKinsey and Company, found a 60 per cent reduction - using existing technologies - was also possible by 2030. It says Australia could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020 at a cost of $2.9 billion.

By using existing or evolving technologies, such as solar and wind power and geothermal but not geosequestration or nuclear energy, the government's 2050 reduction target could be reached 20 years earlier. Dr Stephan Gorner, a co-author of the report, estimated reductions could be achieved at a cost to each household of less than 80c a day - or just $290 a year. "We are recommending a set of actions which have to be taken by the government, by businesses and by the consumers," he said. "First of all we have to set a reduction target for 2020 and we have to fast-track the commercialisation of promising technologies." Dr Gorner said we must be motivated nationally to adopt carbon-reducing behaviour patterns.

Time to plan for greener future

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 16/2/2008 Page: 24

DIGNITARIES from around the globe will converge on Adelaide in the next five days to plan for a greener future as part of the third International Solar Cities Congress. More than 90 experts on sustainable urban development, solar technology and the built environment will talk about options for the future. Aspiring solar cities, such as Adelaide, have made a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and switch to renewable energy sources.

International Solar Energy Society president and Adjunct Professor at the University of South Australia Monica Oliphant said sustainability was the right path but not an easy one. She said the congress was about sharing experiences of 700 delegates and finding ways to improve the transition to a green future.

"The mayors are getting together, talking about how they've done it, learning from each other and taking these initiatives back home," she said. "What we're aiming for is to get the per capita emissions down. "In order to do that we must have a big transition to renewable energy so at the congress there will be a bit on the new technologies that are available, including solar thermal and geothermal plus PV (photovoltaics or solar panels).

"We will hear from cities that have long had programs in reducing emissions, like Copenhagen and even South Korean cities. "It's easier if you start from scratch but older cities have to retrofit and learn from others that are doing it right." Premier Mike Rann says SA is one of the leaders. "With less than 1 per cent of Australia's population, SA has an estimated 48 per cent of the nation's wind power capacity and about 45 per cent of the nation's grid-connected solar energy," he said.

Adelaide is one of the Australian solar cities. Among the others are Townsville, Blacktown and Alice Springs. The program involves all levels of government, the private sector and local communities. Sessions include a workshop on carbon reporting.