Thursday 28 February 2008

TRUenergy To Invest A$290M In Australia Solar Energy Project

Dow Jones Newswires
Monday 25/2/2008

CANBERRA (Dow Jones)--Electricity retailer and generator TRUEnergy said Monday it will spend around A$290 million developing a solar energy plant in the Australian state of Victoria. The investment comes as Australia's newly elected Labor government pushes for more of the country's power to come from renewable sources, with a target of 20% of power being generated by solar, wind, and other renewable technologies by 2020.

TRUEnergy, a unit of Hong Kong-based CLP Group Ltd. said in a statement that it has paid A$40 million for a 20% stake in privately held Melbourne company Solar Systems, which is planning to build a 154 megawatt solar plant in northwestern Victoria. TRUEnergy will also contribute A$7 million toward the development of a 2 megawatt pilot plant, and up to A$285 million to build the remaining stages of the project.

The project will begin generation in 2010 and be fully completed by 2013. Once fully operational, the Victorian power station will meet the needs of over 45,000 households, with zero greenhouse gas emissions. The project has already attracted A$129.5 million of funding from federal and state governments. TRUEnergy Managing Director Richard McIndoe said the partnership will allow Solar Systems to begin developing further solar energy projects across Australia and Asia at a "crucial time", as many countries look to adopt renewable energy technologies to meet large-scale emissions reductions targets.

TRUEnergy's parent company, CLP Group, has also entered a 10-year joint development agreement with Solar Systems to use its technology to develop up to 1 gigawatt of solar energy projects across Asia, McIndoe said. The center-left Labor government, elected to office in November last year due partly to its plans to address climate change, is committed to carbon emission cuts of 60% on year 2000 levels by 2050. Labor's environment policies are expected to push up costs for energy-intensive industries as they curtail the use of cheap fossil fuel based power.

Hot water hope

Camperdown Chronicle
Friday 22/2/2008 Page: 1

The Corangamite Shire is on track to be the first municipality in Victoria, possibly even Australia to provide geothermal energy on a commercial scale. Two sites have already been earmarked for appraisal wells to be sunk - one near Cobden, the other at Ross Creek near Timboon. Another two sites have been identified north of Port Fairy.

Hot Rock Ltd is behind the project, which managing director Mark Elliot said had "huge ramifications" for Victoria as a whole. "We're now envisaging a whole network of geothermal plants being set up all throughout the Otways," he said. "It's very exciting for us." Mr Elliot said the company planned to tap into what was known as the "Crayfish Substrata" located between 2700 and 3500 metres below the earth's surface. "It's much deeper and larger than the Dilwyn aquifer which supplies a lot of water for the area," he said. "The water temperature in the Crayfish Substrata is about 140°C - ideal for a geothermal plant." Once drilled the hot water would be used to heat a secondary fluid which produces steam at the much lower temperature of 30°C.

The steam would then drive a turbine, which in turn would drive a generator to produce electricity. The "closed loop" process is considered to be environmentally friendly., Mr Elliott said the four sites had been delineated from existing gas and oil drilling data. "We're looking at producing at least 1000 megawatts of energy in the next six to eight years," he said. "In fact, we should have a few megawatts up and running within the next three to four years. "This is revolutionary for Australia - its a fabulous energy source." Mr Elliott said wind farms could not provide enough energy for a "base load", producing just 30 percent of their full capacity.

"The problem with wind farms is that they can only produce energy when there is a breeze, they are also quite expensive. "We really have high hopes for geothermal energy and hope to be the first geothermal company operating at a commercial level in Australia." Hot Rock Ltd was awarded exploration rights in April last year for the area stretching from Lorne to the South Australian border and inland to Colac, Camperdown and Heywood. Mr Elliott said company representatives planned to meet with the Corangamite Shire and community stakeholders in the near future to discuss the project.

Natural changes blow hot and cold

Tuesday 26/2/2008 Page: 4

NATURAL variability in weather rather than climate change accounted for cooler February temperatures across most of Australia straight after record hot temperatures in January, a leading climate scientist said yesterday. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology estimates the nation is likely to record its coolest February since 2002 and 12th coolest since 1951 after recording the hottest January on record. While many commentators blamed the high temperatures on climate change, CSIRO research fellow in atmospheric science Barrie Hunt said the succession of hot days were "not unusual for January."

"It's just year-to-year variability," Dr Hunt said. "Underneath that variability is this insidious slow warming, which is the greenhouse effect, but it's not big enough to stop natural variability, and it's going to take a long time before it is." Dr Hunt said if the drought had been caused by climate change, as claimed by some in the media, then it would have indicated current modeling had grossly underestimated the impact of change on temperatures and rainfall.

Cooler temperatures and above-average rainfall across much of the heavily populated eastern seaboard of Australia are being driven by the La Nina effect, which has been operating since December. Neil Plummet- from the National Climate Centre said the weather this month was similar to previous La Ninas. "It's always very difficult to disentangle things on a monthly basis and we will always have natural climate variability operating and we have a climate change signal on top of that," he said.

Federal Climate Minister Penny Wong said Australia was back on track to meet its Kyoto target of 108 per cent of 1990 emissions only three months after taking office. A re-calculation of Australia's climate budget has incorporated Labor's 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, which is projected to shift the emissions trajectory back under the Kyoto target.

In the lead-up to the election, the Howard government came under attacks from environmentalists, who rejected its projections that Australia was on course to meet its Kyoto target. Yesterday, Australian Conservation Foundation climate spokesman Tony Mohr said the numbers were too close to call as there was "a little bit of up and down in the numbers depending which side of the election you are on."

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said the new estimates confirmed Australia was always on track to meet its Kyoto target as the Rudd Government had not made any new contribution to reducing emissions.

Wind farm a breath of good news

Launceston Examiner
Monday 25/2/2008 Page: 14

North-East Tasmania and the State generally should welcome news that a wind farm that has long been on the drawing board for the region will go ahead this year. The $350 million Musselroe project at Cape Portland was one of three major wind farm proposals put forward for Tasmania. The first, at Woolnorth in the State's far North-West, has been online for some time. Other proposals were put forward several years ago for Musselroe and Heemskirk, on the West Coast.

The Heemskirk proposal was scrapped and the North-East project put on the backburner because of concerns over the Howard Government's refusal to extend its renewable energy incentives. However, the new Government's commitment to a 20 per cent Mandatory Renewable Energy Target by 2020 has given new life to the proposal, which already has most of its approvals in place. Roaring 40s now says construction of the Musselroe Wind Farm should start later this year, with the first turbines to be shipped into the State next year.

Roaring 40s has approval for up to 80 turbines that would generate up to 140MW, which potentially makes it bigger than the Woolnorth project. Clearly last week's draft report on climate change from economist Ross Garnaut helps build the case for more renewable energy. Wind farms are likely to form only a small fraction of Tasmania's energy capacity, but this one will represent a huge economic boost for the North- East. It is expected that this project will take 2.5 years to complete with a peak workforce of 120.

That represents a huge boost for the North-East, which has taken major hits with the loss of Simplot processing and uncertainty over major sawmills. With the wind farm, a likely development of an eco-resort at Musselroe Bay and future infrastructure development that would expand its agricultural capacity, the area can now look forward with a great deal of confidence.

Here comes the sun: A Hawthorn company is at the forefront of solar energy

Monday 25/2/2008 Page: 13

THERE are only a handful of current uses for the metal gallium, mainly in things such as electronic semiconductors. It tends to be found as a byproduct of other metals such as zinc and, if not properly extracted, can make the other metal brittle.

But the future demand for gallium is likely to rise rapidly thanks to one Melbourne company. Solar Systems has developed a new way to produce relatively high amounts of electricity from sunlight, a high-demand product in this age of globally warmed concern. Just 18 months ago, Solar Systems, which has its headquarters in Hawthorn, was just another high technology development company clamouring for attention in a sceptical market. Then it had a staff of 40, now there are 100 with another 20 about to start in the next few weeks. Then the former federal government and the State Government announced funding to build a $450 million 154 megawatt power station at Mildura - the biggest and most efficient photovoltaic plant in the world.

On Friday, the Age revealed the company also held the key to producing the greenhouse-friendly hydrogen gas through a patented technique developed by one of its founders, John Lasich, in 1991. He discovered that the main means of producing hydrogen from water- a process called electrolysis - was twice as efficient if the water was heated to more than 1000 degrees.

As the new solar power station was faced with problems of how to cool the cells once the concentrated sun's rays were focused on them, taking off the excess heat to produce hydrogen as a byproduct seemed a solution. The hydrogen would then be burned to produce electricity when the sun was not shining or be sold as a fuel. The journey began in the 1970s when Mr Lasich, then finishing his university studies in physics and electronics, joined some colleagues in examining the possibilities of solar power.

In the 1990s they became serious about their research and development by forming a company. In 2000 they hired professional management and took on private shareholders. Managing director since has been Dave Holland. "Currently photovoltaic solar only accounts for 0.05% of the world's electricity generation;' he says. Wind power has been taken up by more as the renewable energy of choice, but it is harder to predict than solar. "We can see that clouds are coming and can tell a gas plant to get ready to come on stream;' he says.

Holland says one of the problems with solar to date had been that the normal silicon solar panels of the type people put on their roofs were expensive and had low efficiency. "Most silicon panels produce eight to 12 watts of electricity for every 100 watts of sunlight;' Holland says. "Our gallium cells, which we are producing in conjunction with Boeing in the US, produce 35 to 40 watts'. Today, the company will be making a public announcement on the progress of its Mildura project and on moves to market its technology internationally.

Wednesday 27 February 2008

$350m wind farm roaring

Launceston Examiner
Saturday 23/2/2008 Page: 1

THE future of the $350 million North-East Wind Farm at Cape Portland has finally been secured. The Labor Party's Mandatory Renewable Energy Target of 20 per cent by 2020 has given Roaring 40s the impetus to proceed with its Musselroe Project, and more projects across Tasmania are under investigation as the 12-year race to provide more environmentally sustainable power begins in earnest.

Roaring 40s Oceania construction manager David Mounter said yesterday that work should begin on the North-East project later this year, with Danish-made turbines to be shipped into the State later next year. Civil construction will begin first to prepare for the 80m towers, which are topped with blades that span 90m. Each tower is made up of 12 truckloads of material. Roaring 40s put in its development application to Dorset Council in 2004 and gained approval for up to 80 turbines, which will generate 140MW into the State's grid.

That is more than the Woolnorth project in the far North West, which generates 125MW. It will be more than enough power to provide electricity to 140,000 homes. Mr Mounter said the project would take two and a half years to finish and a peak workforce of 120 was anticipated. Mr Mounter said between $50 million and $80 million would be pumped into the Northern Tasmanian economy as a result of the project. "A few plans just need to be approved by State and federal environment regulators but we don't envisage any problems with them.," Mr Mounter said.

"We always had confidence that it would be built but we just didn't know when. The timing has been good with the federal target because our (council) permit hasn't expired." Confirmation of Roaring 40s dedication to Tasmania comes after the Labor Party promised during the federal election campaign that it would step-up the MRET after the previous Howard Government refused to extend it from the initial 2001 target of 9500 gigawatt-hours.

Kevin Rudd's plan will see that figure grow to 45,000 gigawatt-hours. The Musselroe project accounts for only 0.1 per cent of what is anticipated to be produced by 2020. No other development applications have been submitted for more wind farms across the State, but Roaring 40s staff were investigating a range of options.

"At the moment it's a case of `that's a windy hill' and `that's a windy hill'," Mr Mounter said. "Our wind data collection slowed down as the MRET scaled down and now that that is winding up again we are looking at our next reasonable option. "There would need to be a year's worth of wind monitoring, it would take a year to put together a DA, that can take a while to get approval with the comment phase and then it would take one year to get to construction, so any new farms are at least three years away." Victoria and South Australia were other states that the company would look into, Mr Mounter said.

Wind generation, the ability to connect to the electricity grid via Transend and environmental constrains would need to be taken into account for all new projects. Transend would need to upgrade its facilities at Woolnorth and Musselroe if those two wind farm projects were to expand any further. Roaring 40s also has two 50MW wind farms operating in China, with nine more under construction.

Making waste work harder

Canberra City News
Thursday 21/2/2008 Page: 10

THE word "sustainable" is boring, according to Professor Dr Michael Braungart. For example, if someone described her marriage as "sustainable", pity not admiration might be the appropriate response. Dr Braungart, a process engineer from Universitat Luneberg, in Germany, believes that to aim for "sustainable" solutions means to survive without doing great harm. It is a zero sum - a neutral result. Why not actually improve things instead? The professor was one of a number of experts speaking to the Property Council's 2008 Green Cities Conference at Darling Harbour.

He firmly believes that just getting by isn't good enough, especially when it comes to environmentally sustainable design. Thinking in terms of just achieving sustainability leads to just reducing those actions that harm the environment. "Less bad," he said,"is not good. It's less bad." So instead of aiming to "reduce, avoid, and minimise", our goal should be to "increase, support, and optimise."

Dr Braungart's proposal is to stop focusing exclusively on doing less harm and start focusing on doing good. So rather than using fewer products which damage the environment, we should be developing alternative products which enrich the environment. It just takes a little lateral thinking. His own design chemistry organisation provides intriguing examples. For instance, several fabrics are damaging to the environment, either because of the energy used to make them, or toxic by-products either created in their manufacture or emitted by the fabrics during their lifecycle.

In 1992, Braungart's team set about producing better fabrics. And their criteria for success? The fabric had to be "edible" - its components had to be nutritious rather than potentially harmful. The resulting product actually purifies water while being made, and is now used in the new Airbuses. He said today's green buildings don't need to be carbon neutral and environmentally inoffensive. We can now make them environmentally positive. We can design them to be beneficial. For example, Darling Harbour itself collects all its rainwater, getting more than it needs and sharing the surplus with its neighbours.

Large buildings with their own renewable energy collectors (such as mini-wind turbines and solar collectors) can now provide free, clean surplus power back to the local electricity grid. He said, to effectively enhance our environment, we have to treat everything as potentially good - as a nutrient. So, instead of spending time trying to find ways of harmlessly disposing of waste, we could be finding ways of positively using it to create something good.

For example, he said, you cannot make an energy-saving window without producing some toxic chemicals. So they should achieve more than energy savings to be worth the eco-price of their manufacture. They could be collecting energy for example, or supporting plants which use up carbon and produce oxygen. Other practices he considered silly included recycling paper, or indeed anything that was not specifically manufactured to be recycled in an environmentally effective way.

He also had doubts over certification systems designed to reduce and control incompetencies rather that fostering competencies. He said that doing environmental good is not only intelligent and positive, it is also do-able. "We don't need to apologise for being here," he said. "We need to learn to be natives," fully belonging and contributing positively to the ecology.

Windfarm may get six new turbines

The Extra
Friday 22/2/2008 Page: 2

Albany could get 90 per cent of its energy from the Albany Wind Farm by 2010 if plans for its expansion go ahead. Verve Energy plans to add six turbines to the farm, creating a total of 18. The project, Grasmere Wind Farm, would use new turbines that provide 28 per cent more power. Project manager Daniel Thompson said construction could start as early as mid 2008.

"It would be a great project for Verve Energy and for Albany, so we would very much like to see it go ahead," Mr Thompson said. "Obviously we are still in the feasibility stage and at the moment we are still in the process of gathering information to determine whether the project will go ahead. "But the financials are definitely looking more positive." Mr Thompson said the original wind farm had been designed to provide 75 per cent of Albany's energy needs, but with increased demand that had dropped to about 55 per cent.

"With the additional turbines the farm would be able to provide 90 per cent of the energy used in Albany," he said. Verve has submitted a development application to the City of Albany and detailed project plans are being compiled for Albany City Council. "We would expect to have all the information to the council by June," Mr Thompson said. "If by the middle of the year, we can sign off on the project and can show the project is commercial, then we would expect to commence construction soon after that.

"It would be good for Albany because the original farm has been particularly successful on a number of fronts. It has given the town a green image and it has also attracted a lot of tourists." Mr Thompson said provided all approvals were granted and the project was deemed feasible, it could be fully operational by mid 2010. A public display will be organised in May to assess community attitudes.

Desalination is suddenly a sweet solution

Weekend Australian
Saturday 23/2/2008 Page: 7

ONCE viewed as an option of last resort, desalination is being hailed as the saviour of Australia's ongoing water crisis. Until last year Australia had no large-scale desalination plants in operation and until very recently the idea of drinking desalinated water was viewed as outlandish, even outrageous. Today, 17 per cent of Perth's drinking water comes from the country's first desalination plant at Kwinana, south of the city - which will rise to more than 30 per cent when a second plant is opened in 2011. State governments are scrambling to jump on the desalination bandwagon.

Plans are in place for five new plants that will supply drinking water for most of Australia's capital cities by 2012. In Perth alone, Water Corporation boss Jim Gill has mooted the idea of building up to six desalination plants along the coast to combat the long-term decline in rainfall. And Queensland is toying with the idea of having two portable desalination facilities on the Brisbane River.

So how did the seismic shift in thinking about desalination come about? Why is desalination - famously described by former NSW Premier Bob Carr as "bottled electricity" - suddenly in vogue from the west coast to the east? The Australian Water Association, which represents water service providers, attributes the popularity of desalination to extreme drought and increasingly sophisticated technology. Deputy executive director Claude Piccinin says desalination has historically been an expensive, energy-intensive process.

"New technology has seen the price come right down, so suddenly it's become much more attractive," he says. "And more fundamentally, the drought we've had over so many consecutive years is like nothing previously experienced, and I think that's what has got desalination across the line." Western Australia's Water Corporation began thinking about desalination on a large scale in 2001 which CEO Jim Gill describes as the "wake-up" year, when rainfall reached record lows and dams were reduced to mud. Realising it could no longer rely on dams and groundwater, the corporation adopted a diversified approach including recycling, water restrictions and ultimately desalination, described by Gill as "the jewel in the diversity crown."

Designed, built and commissioned in less than two years, the plant was officially opened in April last year. Its energy requirements are substantial - 24 megawatts of electricity per annum, or enough to power 30,000 households - but the Water Corp has offset this by purchasing the equivalent amount of renewable energy from a purpose-built wind farm near Cervantes, north of Perth. The 45 gigalitres of water the plant produces each year reaches around 1.6 million people in the south of the state.

Water Corporation spokesman Phil Kneebone says desalination has meant the city's comparatively lenient water restrictions have not needed tightening and has allowed water to be transferred into the state's dams. "We've not had to go further than the two-day a week watering roster and we've been able to bank 10 billion litres of water into the Canning Dam for future use, he says. "This is the real bonus -- the water produced through desalination that is not needed immediately can be transferred elsewhere and called upon during times of heavy demand." Australian Water Association chief executive Tom Mollenkopf believes desalination has saved Perth. "If not for desalination, Perth's viability as a major urban centre would have been in question," he says.

Even the sceptics have been converted by the success of the new plant. Head of the University of Western Australia's Centre for Water Research Jorg Imberger has been a long-term-critic of the plant, but the centre's 2007 report into its environmental impact on Cockburn Sound found marine life had not been adversely affected. "I'm satisfied that the first one is running well and not doing any harm to the environment," Imberger says.

Perth's desalination plant is now viewed as the national blueprint - and Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and the Gold Coast have now committed to following WA's lead. Having done an astonishing policy backflip on desalination, the NSW Government is now planning a $1.9 billion facility at Kurnell in the city's south. Using the same reverse-osmosis technology as Perth's plant to remove salt and impurities from seawater, the Kurnell plant will also use renewable energy offsets from up to six wind farms across NSW. Water from the plant will be pumped through a pipeline into Sydney's water distribution system and will ultimately reach up to 1.5 million people.

The Victorian Government, also formerly opposed to desalination, is pushing ahead with plan to build Australia's biggest desalination plant, at Wonthaggi, by the end of 2011. The $3.1 billion project will provide up to a third of Melbourne's water supply and will also provide water to Geelong, Western Port and South Gippsland -150 gigalitres a year in total. It includes an 85km pipeline to connect to Melbourne's water system, and the Government hopes it will put an end to the city's water restrictions.

The Wonthaggi plant will consume around 90 megawatts of electricity per annum, also to be purchased from renewable sources. Detractors claim the greenhouse emissions from the plant will be the equivalent of an extra 240,000 cars on the road. Community concern about its impact on the environment have prompted the government to commission an environmental report, but it has warned the report would be unlikely to stop the plant proceeding.

In Adelaide, work has begun on a $10 million pilot desalination plant, the precursor to a $1.4 billion plant to be built at Port Stanvac that will provide about 25 per cent of the city's water needs. Due for completion by 2012, the plant will supply about 50 gigalitres of water per year with the potential for it to double in size, While the Government is still examining energy supply options, it has commissioned a $3 million environmental baseline report to look at the impact on the. Spencer Gulf marine environment. A second major desalination plant is also under serious consideration to service the Olympic Dam mine, Whyalla and the Eyre Peninsula.

Meanwhile, the Gold Coast's $1.2 billion desalination plant at Tugan is due to be completed by late November. It will supply 120 million litres of water a day. The Government has also mooted the idea of two temporary desalination facilities on the Brisbane River and has been examining options for a second permanent desalination plant north of Brisbane. One report, commissioned by the Government in 2006, recommended building the world's biggest desalination plant - capable of producing a staggering 400 million litres a day to service south-east Queensland.

Australia well behind on climate: Think tank

Canberra Times
Saturday 23/2/2008 Page: 4

Australia is falling well behind the United States, Germany and Japan in developing smart climate change policies and fast-tracking investment in critical renewable energy technologies, a leading business think-tank says. Environment Business Australia has called for the Rudd Government to commit to a 40 per cent cut in greenhouse emissions by 2020, with an early target of 20 per cent by 2015.

The call comes as federal Minister for Climate Change, Penny Wong, struggled to explain to a Senate Estimates hearing yesterday how the Government had arrived at its target to cut greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

Australian Greens climate change spokeswoman Christine Milne grilled Senator Wong over the scientific basis for the target. When asked what level of global warming, in degrees centigrade, should be avoided in order to prevent dangerous climate change, Senator Wong was unable to provide a figure. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the European Union have both been widely reported over the past year as estimating a two degree increase would cause global devastation.

"The Government has no scientific basis for its 60 per cent target, and it should be abandoned in favour of a target that will actually see Australia playing a constructive role in preventing dangerous climate change," Senator Milne said.

In a submission yesterday to the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, Environment Business Australia said the Government must accept the challenge of higher emissions reduction targets. It estimates the "rapid introduction of new policies and systems" could deliver a 20 per cent cut by 2020 from improved energy efficiency, with a 70 per cent cut in waste reduction delivering a 10 per cent emissions cut.

It also estimates a 138sqkm site with 20 per cent land coverage by solar thermal collectors working at 20 per cent overall efficiency would have the capacity to provide all of Australia's primary energy. "At least 25 per cent of new generation capacity could easily be provided by solar thermal energy by 2020," the submission says. By comparison, wind energy would provide only 5 per cent by 2020.

The think tank called for the Rudd Government to harness greater investment by establishing a climate bond, with underwritten guaranteed returns and a specialised index fund for investors to participate in technology and infrastructure overhauls. It argues Australia has high levels of renewable energy innovation but "a lumpy history" of commercial development of these new technologies for the domestic market, with many forced offshore.

The organisation says climate change can no longer be considered a long-term issue and the Government must rapidly put in place steps to avoid an average global temperature rise of two degrees. "The road map for action will not be a straight green line... It will be more like a zig-zag as initially we head right, and then left for five paces, but perhaps only two steps forward."

Tuesday 26 February 2008

Resort wins over guests

Townsville Bulletin
Thursday 21/2/2008 Page: 7

AWARD-WINNING Hidden Valley Cabins is a climate-neutral, eco-friendly resort at the top of the Paluma Ranges. Located one and half hours northwest of Townsville, near Running River, it has been one of our best kept secrets, but word is out and it's fast becoming a tourism hot spot for those seeking the ecotourism Australian bush experience. Apart from its innate charm, tucked away in the wilderness, Hidden Valley Cabins has earned recognition as the first Carbon Neutral Resort in Australia, now operating on 100 per cent solar power.

With the help of Climate Friendly, Hidden Valley Cabins has purchased carbon credits to offset the greenhouse gases produced, making it proudly carbon free. According to Bonnie McLennan, Hidden Valley was not on grid power, forcing the resort to be self-reliant The McLennan's over the years have tried to develop ideas to decrease their generator use, thereby saving on greenhouse gasses.

The challenge was to still giving their guests the best resort experience possible. In 1986 they installed 12 volt battery lighting in the cabins for guests to have lights once the generator was turned off. A battery charger charged these batteries while the generator was running but that was both noisy, expensive and carbon costly.

In 1988 12-volt lighting was installed in the shop and entertainment area. This then progressed to their house in 1997 and they decided to develop a small 12-volt system that would power only a few small appliances such as lighting and television. In time, the McLennans were able to, through the federally funded Renewable Remote Power Generation Scheme, install a stand-alone solar system to run the entire resort 24 hours per day.

Interpretive signage will be placed around the resort to help guests understand the system and its challenges, with guests input sought for further strategies to reduce greenhouse emissions. "This project alone saves 26000 L of diesel or 78 tonnes of CO2 emissions. The CO2 emissions produced by the LPG gas the resort uses for hot water and cooking, fuel used for transporting supplies, and fuel used in our tour bus which leaves Townsville twice a week are accounted for and we have purchased carbon credits from a Sydney- based company, Climate Friendly, to offset this.

Therefore the entire resort is carbon free." Committed to ongoing change, one of the McLennan's climate friendly's projects is involvement with the Hebei Wind Farm, in China. The Hebei wind farm in northern China is a 40-wind turbine project on Wolongtu Mountain, Kangbao County, near Zhangjiakou City in China's Hebei province. It is already in operation and is generating some 57,946 MWhs of clean energy a year, displacing the use of polluting coal-fired electricity in the region and reducing more than 55,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution.

The project meets Kyoto Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Project standards and has the additional benefit of providing much needed energy security to a remote region that previously suffered from unreliable energy sources. Hidden Valley recently won two NQ Tourism awards, one for Hosted Accommodation and the other for New Tourism Development in 2007 and were finalists in the Qld Tourism Awards for Hosted Accommodation in 2007.

Time running out on climate: Government non-committal as report urges drastic measures

Friday 22/2/2008 Page: 1

AUSTRALIA may need to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 90% by 2050 as part of a massive global effort to avert the most devastating effects of climate change, the Rudd Government has been warned. In an alarmingly pessimistic assessment of what is happening to the world, Canberra's chief adviser on climate change, Ross Garnaut, has declared that time is running out faster than almost anyone predicted.

Releasing his interim report, Professor Garnaut said existing targets for reducing greenhouse emissions may not be enough to save the situation. 'Australia should be ready to go beyond its stated 60% reduction target by 2050 in an effective global agreement that includes developing nations," Professor Garnaut said.

The veteran economist said inaction would be more costly than action, particularly for Australia, which would be "one of the most badly damaged of the developed countries if there is no effective mitigation." But the Government, which came to power in November naming climate change among its top priorities, gave a guarded response to the report - welcoming it but not endorsing it. Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said the economist's report would be an "important input" to government policy. We welcome Professor Garnaut's input... of course we will also be looking at other inputs, such as modeling from the Australian Treasury," she said.

Greens leader Bob Brown later lashed out at the Government's response, suggesting it may have fallen under the influence of the multibillion-dollar coal industry. "Penny Wong has reduced Ross Garnaut to an input. That sounds to me like the Rudd Government is subject to coal capture," he said.

The report increases pressure on the Government to set an ambitious emission reduction target this year for 2020, as well as for 2050. Professor Garnaut says that to have a 50-50 chance of limiting global temperature rises to two degrees - a target set by European countries - dramatic and immediate change would be required.

Global greenhouse gas emissions would need to peak in just two years' time and be less than half 2000 levels by 2050. If the world moved to a system based on per capita emissions - a system Professor Garnaut says would be most acceptable to developing countries like China - Australia would need to cut its emissions by 90% to achieve the two degree increase goal. That would be a difficult target to meet and there would be no point if it wasn't part of an international effort," he told the ABC's 7.30 Report last night.

If the world moved to a less ambitious three degrees target - which Professor Garnaut says would increase the risk of dangerous climate change - Australian cuts of 70% by 2050 would be required. While the interim report contains no specific recommendations, it suggests a three pronged strategy for developing emissions trading. It says Australia should quickly establish a domestic system, followed by a regional system including neighbours like Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Pacific island nations, as well as taking a leading role in developing a global system.

The report suggests that as a global negotiating position, Australia should adopt targets in keeping with those already established by other developed countries, while holding out the prospect of deeper cuts if global agreement can be reached. At the same time, a regional trading system would help Australia to achieve dramatic cuts by purchasing emission permits created by re-forestation projects in PNG and Indonesia. Within a domestic emission trading system, he also prefers that new permits be auctioned by the Government, and not given free to those industries most affected.

Energy suppliers would receive no special concessions, but low-income households should receive compensation for the increased energy costs this would entail. Professor Garnaut said industries facing export competition in the years before a comprehensive global trading system can be set up should receive some sort of interim protection or subsidies. Those industries included cement, steel and aluminum.

The report supports compulsory use of solar and wind energy through mandatory targets, because they would have a more immediate impact than emissions trading. Professor Garnaut says the mandatory targets would eventually be subsumed by an effective emissions trading system. Conservation groups welcomed the strength of the report. "I think what is interesting is that as an economist he's saying this issue is far more urgent than we realised and he's urging Australia to really strive towards deep cuts in greenhouse pollution," said Conservation Foundation chief Don Henry.

Business cautiously welcomed the report, with Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Heather Ridout saying it brought to bear some sensible thinking. The Australian Coal Association welcomed Professor Garnaut's acceptance of clean coal technologies. Professor Garnaut is scheduled to deliver a more substantial draft report in June and a final report, together with recommendations, by September.

Carnegie branches out

Adelaide Advertiser
Friday 22/2/2008 Page: 71

WAVE energy developer Carnegie Corporation has acquired two more clean technologies to diversify its investments in the growing clean technology sector. "The acquisitions allow us to meet our goal to own a diverse pipeline of technology development, the face of which is CETO, or Cylindrical Energy Transfer Oscillating," MD Michael Ottaviano said.

A new solar thermal technology, which is still in its early days, will collect energy from the sun and store it as heat in a low-cost storage solution to be used for subsequent power generation. The wind energy technology, when developed, will help improve wind-flow around the aerofoil or blade of the turbine for more efficient energy generation. Shares rose 5c to 31c.

Ocean powers new wave of technology

Bendigo Advertiser
Wednesday 20/2/2008 Page: 20

JUST 24 kilometres off Florida's coast, the world's most powerful sustained ocean current the mighty Gulf Stream rushes by at more than 32 billion litres per second. And it never stops. To scientists, it represents a tantalising possibility: a new, plentiful and uninterrupted source of clean energy. Florida Atlantic University researchers say the current could some day be used to drive thousands of underwater turbines, produce as much energy as perhaps 10 nuclear plants and supply one-third of Florida's electricity.

A small test turbine is expected to be installed within months. "We can produce power 24/7," said Frederick Driscoll, director of the university's Centre of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology. Using a $A5.55 million research grant from the state, the university is working to develop the technology in hopes that big energy and engineering companies will eventually build huge underwater arrays of turbines. From coast to coast in the United State, from Europe to Australia and beyond, researchers are looking to the sea currents, tides and waves for its infinite energy.

So far, there are no commercial-scale projects delivering electricity to the grid. Because the technology is still taking shape, it is too soon to say how much it might cost. But researchers hope to make it as cost-effective as fossil fuels. While the initial investment may be higher, the currents that drive the machinery are free. There are still many unknowns and risks. One fear is that spinning underwater blades could chop up fish and other creatures.

Researchers said the underwater turbines would pose little risk to passing ships. The equipment would be moored to the ocean floor, with the tops of the blades spinning 12 metres below the surface. because that is where the Gulf Stream flows fastest. But standard navigation equipment on ocean vessels could easily guide them around the turbine fields if their hulls reached that deep, researchers said.

And unlike offshore wind turbines the machinery would be invisible from the surface, with only a few buoys marking the fields. David White, of the Ocean Conservancy, said much of the technology was largely untested in the outdoors, so it was too soon to say what the environmental effects might be. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued 47 preliminary permits for ocean, wave and tidal energy projects, said spokeswoman Celeste Miller.

Most such permits grant rights just to study an area's energy-producing potential, not to build anything. The Gulf Stream is about 48 kilometres wide and shifts only slightly in its course, passing closer to Florida than to any other major land mass. "It's the best location in the world to harness ocean current power," Driscoll said.

Researchers on the West Coast, where the currents are not as powerful, are looking instead to waves to generate power. Canada-based Finavera Renewables has received a FERC license to test a wave energy project in Washington state. It will eventually include four buoys in a bay and generate enough power for up to 700 homes. The company hopes later to be the first in the US to operate a commercial-scale "wave farm," situated off Northern California.

Finavera spokesman Myke Clark said that wave energy was "definitely not the only answer" to the nation's power needs and was never going to be as cheap as coal. But it could be "part of the energy mix," and could be used to advantage for Third World countries, where entire towns have no connection to electrical grids.

Green energy powers Warnbro

Sound Telegraph
Wednesday 20/2/2008 Page: 12

GREENPOWER is being embraced in Warnbro, which according to figures released by Synergy has the most GreenPower customers in Rockingham and Kwinana. In total, 142 customers buy GreenPower in the suburbs of Safety Bay, Warnbro, Secret Harbour, Cooloongup, Karnup, Singleton, Parmelia, Bertram, Wellard, Waikiki, Port Kennedy, Hillman, Baldivis, Golden Bay, Orelia, Casuarina and Leda. At present no customers in Naval Base or Kwinana Bay GreenPower.

Synergy spokesman Andrew Gaspar said the overall number of customers using electricity generated from accredited renewable sources had more than doubled in 2007, up from 3343 in 2006 to 8013 by the end of 2007. "It shows there are many people prepared to pay more for cleaner energy and we commend those customers for their commitment to the environment," Mr Gaspar said.

He said climate change had increased interest in green energy, which was a significant factor contributing to the increase in the take up of accredited renewable energy during the year. In addition, the number of customers installing solar panels to generate their own electricity and sell excess to Synergy had more than tripled.

"An increase in the Photovoltaic Rebate Program has made the installation of solar cells on household roofs more affordable and more attractive, and the more customers who install these, the less reliant we are on conventional energy sources," Mr Gaspar said. "It means we have electricity generation occurring at houses and schools around our suburbs." For more- information about buying accredited renewable energy phone Synergy on 13 13 53 or visit

Monday 25 February 2008

A Kennedy in the environment's court

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 21/2/2008 Page: 6

WE ARE thinking about the environment in the wrong way, says Robert Kennedy Jnr, the US ecologist and son of presidential hopeful Bobby Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968. "There's this so-called divide between economics and the environment," Mr Kennedy said. "The thinking is not good enough.

Nature is the infrastructure of the economy, it's the best investment." Speaking for an hour without notes at a solar power conference in Adelaide yesterday, covering territory from the preservation of New York's Hudson River by a coalition of Vietnam veterans to why the theme of wilderness continues to emerge in the Bible and the Koran, Mr Kennedy held 600 delegates enthralled.

Mr Kennedy, a lawyer who has taken on and won dozens of major environmental lawsuits in the US, holds simultaneous, passionate beliefs on environmental protection and freemarket economics. "The problem we have in the US, and in Australia, is that markets are not free, not as free as they should be." A culture of protecting profits at the expense of public health was the most damaging thing standing against action on climate change, he said. "We need to go into the marketplace and catch the cheaters, the polluters. In 100 per cent of circumstances, good environmental policy is good economic policy," he said.

"The reason that we're protecting the environment is that we recognise that nature enriches us. The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. We're not doing it for the fishes and birds, we're doing it for our own sake." Mr Kennedy blames a lazy media for not bringing green issues into the public eye frequently enough, but said he is an optimist, and encouraged by what had seen during a flying visit to Australia. He urged other state governments to follow South Australia and introduce "feed-in tariffs" to allow people with solar power to sell it back to the energy grid at double the market rate.

"This is a great idea, because it turns every home into a power station. Think about it from a national security angle. A terrorist can attack a power station, but they can't attack a million separate homes." The NSW Government said this week that it would not be supporting a feed-in tariffs scheme, preferring to concentrate on other areas of renewable energy.

In contrast to the buoyant Mr Kennedy, the former NSW premier Bob Carr, who was also at the solar meeting, said he had become deeply pessimistic about human efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow global warming. "If you look at the technology, it's just paralysed by sheer slowness," Mr Carr said. "We're used to being told that the pace of technology is so rapid, but that's only with gadgets like mobile phones. The pace of renewable development is just glacial. So I'm a pessimist."

Make PNG an ally on emissions

Daily Telegraph
Thursday 21/2/2008 Page: 9

THE Federal Government's adviser on climate change says Australia should set up a greenhouse emissions trading scheme with Indonesia and PNG. Economist Professor Ross Garnaut, commissioned by Labor last year, will this afternoon release his interim report. Yesterday he told the Solar Cities Conference that PNG's cheap, renewable energy resources were a goldmine for reducing harmful carbon emissions and a bilateral agreement would be more cost-effective than if Australia acted alone.

"Given the scope for large cuts in emissions in PNG through rapid reductions in deforestation, it is highly likely that Australia could purchase freed-up emissions permits," Professor Garnaut said. He is understood to support short-term reduction targets, but is concerned about emissions ballooning immediately before and after the target date.

Tougher targets for the rich: Garnaut

Thursday 21/2/2008 Page: 6

AUSTRALIA may need to accept much deeper cuts in greenhouse emissions to compensate for developing countries such as China and India in a global climate deal, Labor's main climate change adviser says. Professor Ross Garnaut said he would suggest the future allocation of greenhouse emissions be distributed globally on a per capita basis when he provides his interim report to state premiers today, in advance of the final report from his climate policy review due in September.

This would significantly favour countries such as China and India at the expense of relatively small countries such as Australia with big per capita emissions. Professor Garnaut said it was the only way to get developing countries to agree on targets. In a speech to an international solar conference in Adelaide yesterday, Professor Garnaut warned there was "little prospect" that the international agreement hammered out in Bali in December was enough to address the risk of dangerous climate change.

In his most controversial speech yet, he said the global negotiations on a post-Kyoto deal must include targets on major developing as well as developed countries or the parties must "abandon hope of achieving climate stabilisation at moderate levels." "At the multilateral level, the world should instead aim for a post-Kyoto agreement in which all major emitters, developed and developing, are subject to emissions budgets," Professor Garnaut said.

He said Australia could encourage greater ambition in the current negotiations, due to be completed at the end of next year, and set up a regional emissions trading bloc with South Pacific nations, Papua New Guinea and possibly Indonesia. Indonesia and PNG have expressed co-operation with Australia on climate policy and Professor Garnaut said they could reach targets and deliver substantial emissions reductions quickly and easily through avoided deforestation, technology transfer and development of low-cost renewable energy.

This would require national emissions budgets for all countries to drive international permit trading which, if managed carefully, could accelerate development in poorer countries. "Developing countries will have to see it is as equitable that all countries have limits on their emissions, but that richer countries have much more stringent limits," he said. Climate Institute Australia policy director Erwin Jackson said the speech was "encouraging" in recognising it was in Australia's interests to have an ambitious global emissions regime.

Community BBQ

Pyrenees Advocate
Friday 15/2/2008 Page: 8

Wind Power Ply Ltd has rescheduled its Stockyard Hill Wind Farm BBQ until later this month. Wind Power Pty Ltd is inviting interested members of the community to attend the BBQ to discuss the proposed development and raise any concerns. A representative will also discuss the brolga study and other Fauna issues. The BBQ will be held at Lake Goldsmith Hall starting at 6.30pm on Friday the 29th of February.

Telephone 9819-0117 for further details.

Carbon cuts on shop list

MX Brisbane
Tuesday 19/2/2008 Page: 11

Half a kilo of salmon; 2kg of potatoes: a tonne of greenhouse gas reductions - shoppers at a Norwegian mall are buying cuts in their carbon footprint as they do the weekly grocery shop. The Stroemmen Storsenter shopping centre outside Oslo began selling UN-approved certificates on Sunday, at $33.50 a tonne, to people who feel bad about contributing to climate change.

On its second day of offering the Certified Emissions Reductions, the centre had sold more than a third of the 1000 on offer and was set to buy more, mall managers said. One CER corresponds to a tonne of carbon dioxide emissions reductions via the Kvoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism, which allows rich countries to invest in emissions-cutting projects in developing nations and count the cuts as their own.

Each Norwegian accounts for about 11 tonnes of greenhouse gas a year. "Many people want to buy reductions but haven't known where to get them. Now they are available to everybody," said Ole Herredsvela. the mall's technical manager. Until now. householders had only been able to obtain emissions credits when buying airline tickets.

The shopping centre. Norway's third-biggest, is not making money from the sales, selling them at cost plus a 10 per cent administration fee, which goes to Norwegian carbon management services firm CO2focus. Herredsvela said. CO2focus bought the CERs from EcoSecurities in Oxford. The British company obtained them from its involvement in a wind power project in Maharashtra, India.