Thursday 27 March 2008

Talks with GWU on shipyards
Wind farm project to be launched soon

Malta fully agrees with the renewable energy targets set for it by the European Commission and will be launching a multi-million euro initiative for the development of an offshore wind farm soon. Speaking at the end of a two-day EU summit in Brussels yesterday, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said the government had contacted foreign companies on the possibility of developing an offshore wind farm and will soon set out to better explain its electoral pledges regarding alternative energy.

"We promised that the environment is going to take centre stage in our agenda over the next five years and we are adamant to deliver even in the clean energy sector. We are evaluating the way forward for producing more energy from alternative resources and we should soon be in a position to announce an initiative in the wind energy sector." A few weeks ago, the European Commission proposed a set of energy targets to be met by Malta by 2020, intended to spur the island to produce more energy from renewables and reduce its dependency on oil. Malta will have to produce 10 per cent of all its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.

This target falls within the EU's ambitious plan to cut greenhouse gases by 20 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020 and produce 20 per cent of its members' energy needs from renewables. The EU leaders at the summit have committed themselves to finalising negotiations on the plan by the end of this year. Together with Cyprus, Malta is the most conventional-fuel dependent country in the EU. In 2006, Malta produced only 0.36 per cent of all its energy needs from renewables, the lowest level in the EU.

During the electoral campaign, Dr Gonzi pledged that, if elected, the government would invest in a wind farm 32 kilometres out at sea capable of producing between 75 and 100 MW of clean energy. This will amount to 20 per cent of Malta's energy needs.

Asked whether this initiative would be a government-sponsored project or a private initiative, Dr Gonzi said that at this stage the government was leaving all options open. "We are still studying the details of this initiative. It can be a private-public partnership or a private initiative on its own. However, we still have to decide the fine details." EU leaders also discussed the second phase of the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs, an EU-wide set of benchmarks aimed at putting the EU economy on the global cutting edge.

State aid is one of the areas on which the Commission is pressing Malta. Due to aid given to Malta Shipyards, the island is still considered to have a heavy load of subsidies when compared to the EU average. In 2002, Malta and the EU agreed on a seven-year restructuring programme aimed at making the shipyards viable. However, despite more than €800 million of subsidies, the shipyards are still in the red. At the end of the year, the subsidies will become illegal.

Asked by The Times what will happen to the shipyards if the company is still losing money by that time, as appears likely, Dr Gonzi said the government will be doing all it can to make sure the company survives. However, he warned that this must entail the full collaboration of all the workers and their union.

"Our intention is to make the restructuring programme work but this requires a massive effort from everyone, including the GWU. We intend to launch discussions with the union to take stock of the situation and work on a possible solution to the problems that are hampering the shipyards from progressing." In a recent interview to The Times, Minister Austin Gatt, who is responsible for Malta Shipyards, identified low productivity as the main problem afflicting the company.

Dr Gonzi's delegation at the two-day summit included Foreign Minister Tonio Borg and Finance Minister Tonio Fenech. Explaining the role of the new Parliamentary Secretary for Information and Public Dialogue Chris Said, Dr Gonzi said he will act as an interface between his office and civil society at large. In this context, Dr Gonzi announced the intention of reviving the Malta-EU Steering Action Committee (Meusac), a tripartite forum which had a key role in pre-accession negotiations. The Forum Malta fl-Ewropa, set up to replace Meusac and the Malta-EU Information Centre, will be re-integrated within the role of Meusac. Dr Gonzi returned to Malta last night.

Harness the power of eco-boffins
March 16, 2008

Green business: Technological skill and entrepreneurial instinct must work together to be a success
The green energy sector is booming. Concern over climate change, sustainability and energy prices has created the conditions for entrepreneurs to profit as investors jostle to fund green power generation and technologies that cut waste and boost efficiency. Entrepreneurs able to form an effective management team and put a solid business together have never had a better chance to create a successful green business, according to financier and entrepreneur Philip Holbeche.

"I am not a scientist and it is often the case that technology people don't know how to – and don't necessarily want to – build a business. The entrepreneur is the one that builds a good management team and who is the interlocutor between the technologists and the City."

Holbeche, former chairman of fuel-cell maker Ceres Power, which he took from university start-up stage to a listing on the Alternative Investment Market, sees plenty of scope for entrepreneurs to get into the sector. "solar energy generation, fuel-cells, biofuels such as algae, as well as things such as land remediation, are all promising areas for new processes and technologies."

The good news for entrepreneurs, according to Sam Richardson of e-synergy, which invests in clean and green technology businesses through its £30m Sustainable Technology Fund, is that building the right teams is getting easier as good managers and senior executives flock to the sector. "Environmental businesses are hot right now and senior people from big companies are interested in working in the sector," he says.

However, the challenges can be daunting, says Richardson. "The opportunities are high, but so are the hurdles. Bringing a new piece of technology to market can be a time-consuming and capital-intensive job." Choosing the right technology to back is fraught with risk, as is securing initial backing from investors, says Holbeche. "Finding the first-round funding for a new technology is the hardest part. If you succeed with that, things tend to get much easier."

Setting up a technology-led business is not the only way to profit from the sector, says Holbeche. "There's huge pressure on businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and to change the way they do business to be more sustainable, so there's great scope for consultancies that help them do this."

Such service-led opportunities are multiplying. There is a growing demand for specialists who can help businesses with carbon trading, auditing and offsetting, and help them to manage their energy consumption, waste and recycling activities, says Richardson. "In time, consultants in these areas will become as ubiquitous as IT consultants are today." Existing businesses can transform themselves to catch the wave of environmental sustainability as well, he says. Property management companies, for example, might position themselves as energy auditors and energy-efficiency consultants as well as maintaining and running business premises.

Speed is likely to be of the essence, however. Bigger, established players have woken up to the possibilities, too, says Richardson. "The likes of Shell and Dupont are looking at biofuels and renewable energy, and they have big budgets. On the service side, consultancies and service businesses such as McKinsey, Jones Lang LaSalle and Ernst & Young all have environmental arms already.

"The better opportunities will be for those able to identify niches, to specialise and to be fleet of foot. Opportunities on the service side will probably exist only for the next five years, while there's still no core of expertise in these areas."

Good Energy Group
THE Good Energy Group, based in Wiltshire, offers proof that helping consumers and firms to reduce their energy consumption and generate renewable energy offers significant growth opportunities. The firm provides electricity generated by renewable means to homes and businesses, helps customers to install their own renewable power generation facilities and fits energy-saving equipment. Last year, sales reached £13m, serving 1,600 businesses and 24,000 domestic customers.

"Technology that gives feedback on energy usage such as metering displays is one example of a growing market," says group chief executive Juliet Davenport, 40. "Solar is looking more promising, along with geothermal heat pumps, micro wind power and small biomass heaters for the home.

"We think there are also opportunities on the finance side. An early example is the green mortgage from Ulster Bank, but there's much further to go, such as being offered finance to install solar panels." "We want to become a new kind of utility that provides services other than electricity or gas. Our aim is to provide a complete solution for those seeking to move towards a low-carbon lifestyle."

Fossil fuel investment bias hurts renewable energy ambitions: ACF

Courier Mail
Thursday 20/3/2008 Page: 26

QUEENSLAND has nearly $1.6 billion invested in the nuclear and fossil fuel industries but just $33 million in renewables. The Federal Government is just as bad, with the booming coal industry receiving a taxpayer-funded $300 million annual discount on diesel fuel. A report by economist Alan Lazarus released yesterday shows that although the State Government campaigns on cutting greenhouse gases and adopting renewable energy sources, it mostly invests in fossil fuel and uranium mining through the Queensland Investment Corporation.

Queensland and other states and territories invested nearly 50 times as much in fossil fuel and uranium as they did in renewable energy. The report for the Australian Conservation Foundation shows many large government-run funds make investment decisions that directly conflict with stated ambitions to reduce emissions and tackle climate change. The QIC, which operates under the Treasury Department, manages about $70 billion for a range of organisations.

ACF executive director Don Henry said most people would be shocked to find the State Government invested $47 in fossil fuels and uranium for every dollar in renewable energy. "Rather than invest this public money in companies building new coal-fired power stations and mining uranium, it should be invested in companies developing renewable energy and finding innovative ways to use energy efficiently," Mr Henry said.

"Through their investment decision these big pools of government capital have significant impacts on the health of our environment and society." A spokesman for Sustainability Minister Andrew McNamara said the QIC made investments based on the best commercial return. The Government's ClimateSmart 2050 report included $300 million in state funds and $60() million from coal companies for research into clean coal technology and another $100 million was invested in renewable energy and energy efficiency research.

First council emissions trading scheme

Public Works and Engineering
01/03/2008 Page: 16

Eight councils have committed to participate in the trial of an Australian-first greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme for local government which is on track to begin in March this year. The New South Wales metropolitan councils of Randwick, Lane Cove, Auburn, Ashfield and Leichhardt have so far confirmed they will participate in the trial, along with the regional councils of Cootamundra, Cowra and Kiama.

The 'Local Government Emissions Trading Scheme', which is scheduled to commence operating on March 1, will be a five-year trial that aims to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of participating councils by 4% each year. Kiama Shire Council's Mayor, Sandra McCarthy, says the scheme will encourage new and innovative ways for regional and urban councils to work together to help reduce greenhouse gases.

It is also hoped the trial will promote the exchange of information about greenhouse gas-saving initiatives between councils from different regions. The administrator and manager of the trading scheme, Randwick City Council's Manager of Sustainability, Peter Maganov, has previously stated that under the trading scheme, the cost of carbon credit units could be around $10-15 per unit.

Councils will be able to earn carbon credits by investing in energy efficiency, solar and wind power, hybrid and LNG cars or tree planting. New South Wales councils are still able to join the trial and have until 1 March 2008 to register their participation in the scheme with Randwick City Council.

For mope information or to join the emissions trading trial, contact Randwick City Councils Manager of Sustainability, Peter Maganov, on (02) 9399 0554 or by email at Peter

Randwick looks to wind power

Public Works and Engineering
01/03/2008 Page: 23

Randwick City Council will trial renewable wind turbine technology as part of a multifaceted approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. During the 12 month trial, the metropolitan Sydney council will test one or two small-scale wind-powered turbines at sites across the city to test how much energy the turbines produce and how much they reduce the council's greenhouse gas emissions.

Randwick City Council Mayor, Bruce Notley-Smith, says the council will share the findings of the wind-power trial with other local governments across Australia.

The council is presently determining the best locations within the municipality to use for the wind-power trials and has not vet set a date for the trial to begin. Once the trial is complete, the council hopes to he better informed about how wind-powered energy can be used at a local level.

The trial will be part of Randwick City Council's `Sustaining Our City' initiative, which includes a program where the council provides subsidies of up to 40% to local residents to install energy-saving items such as solar hot water systems, thermal insulation and more efficient lighting systems in their homes.

Randwick City Council is also leading the development of a ground-breaking emissions trading scheme for councils in New South Wales. Randwick, Leichhardt, Kiama, Cootamundra, Lane Cove and Auburn councils have so far confirmed their participation in the trial of the smallscale trading scheme, which is scheduled to begin operating in March next year.

To contact Randwick City Council, phone (02) 9399 0999.

$100M for green energy solutions

Gold Coast Business News
March, 2008 Page: 8

Queensland companies are being encouraged to jump on board a State Government initiative that will result in cleaner, greener business practice. The State Government is urging Queenslanders to make the most of a $100 million green energy initiative. Available in two packages, business owners and researchers are encouraged to take a look at the $50 million Smart Energy Savings Fund and the $50 million Renewable Energy Fund.

Energy Minister Geoff Wilson says the Smart Energy Savings Fund will be available to businesses with applications to be sought twice a year - while the Renewable Energy Fund will offer financial incentives to help drive Queensland's commitment to climate change into the 21st Century "We'll provide loans for up to 100 per cent of the project's value or a grant that will cover up to half the project's capital value," says Wilson.

"Some projects may be big, some small. We'll not discriminate because together, they'll have the potential to save tens of thousands of tonnes of greenhouse emissions." Wilson says the renewable energy fund will assist innovative companies that want to turn ideas into sustainable solutions. "We want clever companies to come forward with their ideas so that we can help turn their vision into reality," he says.

"There are exciting possibilities for renewable energy and we've so much untapped potential." The Premier Anna Bligh says Queensland businesses need to use less energy, while finding more sources of energy. "These funds will encourage both," she says. "We're putting our money on the table, addressing the real threat to our environment.

Queensland's leading the way and we want businesses and researchers to climb on board. We've set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 60 per cent below our 2000 levels by 2050. Our efforts must focus on two fronts - cutting energy use and searching for new energy sources.

"It's a simple. We want businesses to boost their investment in energy saving projects and technologies, and we're putting up $50 million to help them." Wilson adds that the Renewable Energy Fund investment will help the state secure a share of the national 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020. "The Renewable Energy Fund will help industry come up with innovative energy conservation solutions in areas like geothermal, wind, solar, biomass, bagasse and other renewable energy sources," he says.

"We're looking at technologies that can generate at least 100 kilowatts, industrial power projects with a carbon-neutral emissions profile and innovations that can produce a reliable electricity supply and meet local energy supply needs. Ideally, we'd like to see projects with the potential for widescale commercial application. Funding can be in the form of a loan for up to 100 per cent project's value or as a grant for up to half of the project's capital cost."

Wednesday 26 March 2008

Green groups seek reversal of fuel subsidies

AAP Newswire
18/03/2008 National

CANBERRA, March 18 AAP - Environment groups have urged governments to spend more taxpayers' money on renewable energy than the fossil fuel industry. Greenpeace today released an opinion poll which found a majority of Australians think renewables should receive more subsidies than fossil fuels like coal. The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) issued a report showing federal and state governments are investing nearly 50 times as much on fossil fuels and uranium mining as they do on technologies like solar and wind power.

Both groups say the vast difference in funding contradicts governments' ambitions to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The Newspoll commissioned by Greenpeace found 60 per cent of respondents thought renewables should get the most funding. Another 30 per cent thought the subsidies should be equal for both sectors. Fifty-six per cent said more money should be ploughed into renewables immediately, and 28 per cent said over the next 12 months. The poll also showed that only 29 per cent knew fossil fuels received higher funding.

"The legacy of the Howard government is an abuse of taxpayers' money and out of step with public opinion," Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Julien (Julien) Vincent said. "Rather than adding to their profits, we should be penalising the use of fossil fuels and putting public money into renewable energy solutions." Greenpeace is seeking signatures for a petition asking federal Treasurer Wayne Swan to phase out subsidies for fossil fuel companies.

The ACF report, Responsible Public Investment in Australia, says government-controlled funds are putting $47 into fossil fuels and uranium for every dollar they invest in renewable energy. "With so much emphasis on climate change from federal, state and territory governments, many people would be shocked," ACF executive director Don Henry said.

"Government-controlled funds that do not manage environmental risks in their portfolios put at risk their financial returns and the world we will leave for our kids." Separately, a group of eminent climate scientists have called on the federal government to stabilise national emissions in two years' time. The report by the Australian Climate Group released today warns the extent of climate change is likely to be at the extreme end of predictions by the international scientific community.

The group was first convened by WWF-Australia and insurer IAG in 2004. "Any delay in achieving significant emission reductions could lead to a major disruptive shock to both our economy and our whole way of life," IAG chief risk officer Tony Coleman said. "If the extent of climate change continues to emerge faster than anticipated, Australia will quickly run out of options unless we have already made good progress down the path of reducing emissions," Mr Coleman said.

Surf clubs look to move into wind and solar age

Central Coast Express-Advocate
19/03/2008 Page: 46

WYONG shire surf clubs could soon be moving into the wind and solar age. Wyong Council is investigating the installation of solar cells on club roofs and wind turbines. Successful trial schemes have been completed in other NSW coastal areas including Tathra. A report to last week's council meeting said savings of about $450 could be made on annual energy bills while there would be less carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.

The cost of installing the system at each surf club would be about $35,000 which could be offset by a Federal Government grant and sponsorship. "While such a project is not financially viable, it does present the environmental benefits of a reduction of over three tonnes of green house gases a year," the report said. "It also provides an excellent example to the community of using alternative power sources." Wyong councillor Brenton Pavier supports the scheme and has asked if solar energy expert Matthew Nott could be invited to address the council in June.

Rebate plan for solar panel use

Townsville Sun
19/03/2008 Page: 4

The State Government has announced a new scheme to pay Queensland households for solar electricity they generate and contribute to the electricity grid. Premier Anna Bligh said from July 1 the Solar Bonus Scheme would pay households and businesses 44 cents for every kilowatt-hour generated from solar power systems at work and at home and fed into the grid. We want Queenslanders to cash in on our reputation as the Sunshine State," Ms Bligh said.

By providing this financial incentive we hope to encourage greater use of solar energy systems and boost our renewable energy market," she said. solar panel systems on a home often produce more power than a household requires. "Under our scheme consumers will receive credits on their electricity bills for any additional power they generate through their solar systems and are able to contribute to the grid," Ms Bligh said.

The Premier said it is estimated the Solar Credit Scheme or feed-in tariff could save consumers more than 25 per cent on their annual electricity bill depending on the energy efficiency of their home. "It will put money back in family pockets," Ms Bligh said. "It will also provide an opportunity for households to play a direct role in tackling climate change. We already know Queenslanders are keen to play their part." Ms Bligh said a staggering 5230 expressions of interest had been received in the government's new Solar Homes trial.

We had to close registrations due to the unprecedented demand," she said. "However anyone with a solar power system will be eligible to participate in the Solar Bonus Scheme," she added. The Minister for Mines and Energy, Geoff Wilson, said the scheme would commence on July 1 and be guaranteed for 20 years. "Currently different retailers pay different amounts for energy fed into the grid ranging from 14 cents per kilowatt-hour to 20 cents per kilowatt-hour," Mr Wilson said.

"We have set the tariff at a higher amount of 44 cents to stimulate the solar energy market and encourage greater uptake by residents and businesses." Mr Wilson, said participating homes would have either an upgraded or second meter installed to measure energy being produced. Ms Bligh said the Solar Homes and Solar Bonus Schemes would make solar energy systems more accessible and affordable.

Hundreds of turbines on way

Weekly Times
19/03/2008 Page: 24

SEVERAL large wind farms of more than 100 turbines each could be built in Western Victoria in the next few years. Information from the Department of Primary Industries shows that the largest wind farm. 183 turbines at Macarthur, has already been approved, along with a 128-turbine farm at Waubra and 116 turbines at Mount Gellibrand.

Large wind farms still awaiting approval include a 150-turbine farm at Darlington, 100 turbines at Mortlake and 100 at Berrybank. These wind farms have been referred to the Victorian Government for consideration for Environment Effects Statements. In the east of the state, only two more wind farms are proposed - one at Yarram and one near Welshpool. In Victoria, five wind farms are operational. 14 have been approved but are not yet operational and another 121 are awaiting state or council approval.

A change in plans

Weekly Times
19/03/2008 Page: 24

IT WILL soon be easier for rural property buyers to find out if a wind farm is planned for next door. The Victorian Government this week agreed to let buyers know where they can get information on current wind farm proposals. Until now, prospective buyers were in the dark over how to get the information.

A spokeswoman for Planning Minister Justin Madden said new guidelines would "state where information can be obtained regarding current wind-farm proposals, including planning permit applications Victoria's growing wind farms and decisions on the need for and Environment Effects Statement."

The move followed calls by Nationals MP Peter Hall for more transparency on windfarm proposals. Mr Hall said property buyers had little hope of of finding information about new wind farms, dozens of which are proposed for Victoria. "They (the buyers) should be able to find out if a planning permit or a wind farm is being proposed for an adjoining property," Mr Hall said. He said he was contacted by a couple from Rye, who put a deposit on a Western District property. only to discover just days later plans for a nearby wind farm.

The buyer, Allan Schafer, said a 100-turbine wind farm was awaiting approval for land near his Berrybank property and he had written to Mr Madden about the issue. The turbines could be installed only 300 metres from his house and would cast a shadow as the sun set. Mr Schafer said. He said the real estate agent council and vendors told him they were unaware of the proposal.

Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Neil Laws said if an agent was aware of an approved neighbouring wind farm and was asked, they would have the responsibility to tell. "However, in response to a question about a formal mechanism, the REIV would be interested in the view of the Minister as it is not aware of one." Mr Laws said. Information from the Clean Energy Council showed that local councils were often contacted early in the planning process to discuss policies and nearby landowners were often notified by developers once a site was selected.

Labor renewable energy plan `will cost economy $1.5bn'

19/03/2008 Page: 8

LABOR'S plan to dramatically increase the mandatory levels of renewable energy will cost the economy $1.5 billion and drive up power bills by 6 per cent. According to new economic analysis from the gas industry, Labor's Mandatory Renewable Energy Target of 20 per cent by 2020 is unnecessary and will crowd out cheaper ways to cut greenhouse emissions, making electricity more expensive.

The analysis conducted by consultants CRA International for the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association claims an emissions trading scheme due to start in 2010 could on its own deliver the same greenhouse gas cuts, but at a lower cost. This contradicts an economic analysis released last year by the renewable energy industry that claimed the MRET will stimulate growth and jobs and make electricity cheaper by creating an oversupply in the national energy market.

The Mandatory Renewable Energy Target promised by Labor during last year's federal election campaign has been criticised as populist and inefficient by the gas industry and major emitters, who argue it will quickly become redundant as emissions trading becomes fully operational. In the interim report released last month by the Government's key climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, he warned that the MRET would drive most abatement cuts in the early years of an emissions trading scheme. He is still to report on the interaction between the two systems.

Professor Garnaut will release a discussion paper on key design principles for a trading scheme tomorrow, ahead of the Government's green paper in July and the release of draft legislation in December. Treasury modelling on the full economic cost of different levels of abatement is also expected to be released in July. Climate Minister Penny Wong is already working to fold existing state renewable energy schemes into the national target, and a working group will report to the Council of Australian Governments meeting next week.

Department of Climate Change officials have been meeting power industry representatives in a push to map out a strategy to prevent price volatility and supply instability from the big shift to renewables. APPEA chief executive Belinda Robinson agreed there was a need for a range of strategies to complement a national carbon trading scheme, including accelerated development of clean energy technologies.

She said the mandatory targets threatened to undermine the Government's commitment to ensuring the lowest-cost greenhouse abatement for the economy. Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said the report endorsed the Coalition's call for a clean energy target that included gas and other technologies. We need all the low emissions measures to be on the table." he said.

Penola hot rocks power hope

Penola Pennant
19/03/2008 Page: 2

Penola could host the nation's biggest geothermal power plant within five years. Potential for the project is "building momentum", according to Osiris Energy. The company has released recent studies after drilling to depths of 3500 metres in the area. Resulting analysis has shown the area's "hot rocks" resource could be commercially harnessed.

Osiris is now seeking up to $115m in investment to secure the renewable energy project and with extensive research complete and suitable modular power plants available "off the shelf', it hopes to secure one of the first commercial geothermal power plants in the country. Steps are also underway to list the company on the stock exchange, building its financial capabilities. Directors are also hoping the Penola Pulp Mill will proceed to support the power plant.

Mill developer Protavia could be a customer for the potential 20MW power plant's waste hot water, which could be used to dry pulp and boost income for the costly investment. Osiris executive director Ian Reid said water was extracted from underground at 143C and was still 70C after being used to generate power and could have a secondary use before being returning beneath the earth's surface.

"The costings we have done suggest we can produce geothermal energy cheaper than wind power and when you combine that with selling the co-generated heat to make an extra income stream, it does become economic," Mr Reid said.

"Without the pulp mill we would have more trouble getting a second income stream from the co-generated heat - so having a potential purchaser on our doorstep is attractive for the whole project." He said other options could be investigated if the pulp mill did not proceed, such as using the waste heat for agriculture or aquaculture.

Osiris has reported conclusions from its reservoir modelling, which found energy could be commercially produced for $55 to $65 per megawatt, making it competitive with wind energy. Mr Reid said he was awaiting finalisation of carbon trading schemes and emission targets by the Federal Government to show where the project could "fit in" to national plans.

He said the Penola development would begin with a pilot plant, including drilling of two wells, which would take around a year, and a 20MW power plant could be built once the effectiveness of the concept was proven. "Upwards from that, the sky is the limit," he said. However, two and a half years of geological studies are required before work begins on the pilot plant.

Eight wells, each costing $4m, and at least half as many injection points to return hot water underground, would then be needed for the commercial power plant, requiring around a year of drilling work. It would then take another year to build the $64m power plant, according to Mr Reid, but drilling of the wells was likely to be the biggest employment generator, requiring around 30 people to operate a contracted rig.

"There is a lot of work involved in building wells, but once they are drilled and the plant is installed it would be a venture with low operating costs and could run for 50 years, providing cheap energy once it was installed, only needing low level staffing," Mr Reid said. "Getting the initial investment is the hardest thing with renewable energy in Australia, but once it is installed it generates income for a long time."

Council opposes sale of state electricity

News Weekly
Wednesday 12/3/2008 Page: 14

Bega Valley Shire Council has declared its opposition to State Government plans to sell off the State's electricity system. Councillors voted on Tuesday to call on the Government to better manage the State's future energy needs and to take urgent action in response to climate change by investing in energy efficiency and increasing its renewable energy targets. The motion to oppose privatisation of the State's electricity was put forward by Cr Keith Hughes.

He said privatising electricity would lead to higher power bills, poorer service and increased greenhouse gas emissions. "Privatising essential public utilities like electricity and water inevitably leads to increased prices and reduced services as the new private owners try to maximise their returns. "Private owners will try to increase power consumption to maximise profits, the exact opposite of what we should be trying to achieve.

"Increased consumption of electricity will lead to potential blackouts and will increase greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to dangerous climate change. "This decision makes good sense if the Bega Valley is serious about meeting its 50:50 by 2020 target for clean energy," Cr Hughes said. The mayor, Cr Tony Allen, said that selling off public assets for short term gain not good business.

He said privatisation would:
  • Weaken the ability of the people of NSW to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and urgently respond to climate change;
  • Increase financial hardship for consumers, particularly for low income households and pensioners;
  • Reduce State revenues by at least $1 billion per annum, as profits are shifted from the public purse to private corporations and;
  • Destroy public control over essential energy assets.
Cr Allen said council's position on privatisation was in line with the NSW Shires Association's stand. The Association's president, Cr Bruce Miller, had come out last December against the privatisation, saying selling off the State's electricity industry would raise prices and cut services in regional and rural NSW, he said. Details of council's motion will be sent to the Premier, the Treasurer, the NSW Local Government and Shires Association, the State Members for Bega and Monaro, and the Federal Member for Eden- Monaro.

Emissions trading plan to be outlined

Launceston Examiner
Tuesday 18/3/2008 Page: 16

CANBERRA - The Federal Government will offer a much awaited glimpse of its emissions trading plans when a green paper is released in July. A timetable released yesterday said the Government would by the end of the year give a "firm indication" of the scheme's trajectory, which would determine the initial price of carbon. Climate Change Minister Penny Wong reaffirmed the scheme - the centerpiece of efforts to curb greenhouse gases - would begin in 2010.

The timetable includes releasing draft laws by December on creating the system and introducing them to Parliament next March. The Government aims to enact the scheme by the third quarter of 2009 and establish a regulator, allowing the scheme to begin operating the following year. "The introduction of emissions trading will constitute the most significant economic and structural reform undertaken in Australia since the trade liberalisation of the 1980s," Senator Wong said.

She said consultations with stakeholders that began this month would drive the green paper coming out in July. "The green paper will canvass options and preferred approaches on a range of critical issues such as which sectors will be covered and how emissions caps will be set," she told Parliament. "It will also include ways to reduce the impacts of emissions trading on Australian households." Senator Wong said feedback from the green paper would influence the draft legislation to be released in December.

The design of the scheme would also be informed by Federal Treasury modelling and the climate change review being prepared for the Government by economist Ross Garnaut. Professor Garnaut is scheduled to release a discussion paper on emissions trading on Thursday. Senator Wong said while the Government would set a cap on emissions and have permits up to that level, the market would set the price of carbon. Federal Opposition climate change spokesman Greg Hunt said stakeholders were expecting a soft start to the trading scheme, with the Government's renewable energy target trying to pick up the slack.

State puts money where mouth isn't

Herald Sun
Tuesday 18/3/2008 Page: 28

THE Victorian Government is investing more than $1.2 billion in fossil fuels and the nuclear industry while pushing a policy of long-term emissions reductions and renewable energy targets. A report by the Australian Conservation Foundation into the investing habits of Australian governments shows just $26 million from five of Victoria's public investment funds is put into renewable energy companies.

The Victorian Government has legislated against uranium mining and exploration in the state, and has committed to reduce emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. And just $12 million of the $72 billion in five federal government investment funds is put into renewables. The Responsible Public Investment in Australia report, to be released today, looked at 36 federal, state and territory investment funds and whether environmental, social and governance issues affected investment decision making.

ACF executive director Don Henry said the report showed investment decisions were in direct conflict with commitments to tackle climate change. "Rather than invest this public money in companies building new coal-fired power stations and mining uranium, it should be invested in companies developing renewable energy and finding innovative ways to use energy efficiently," he said.

The report comes as a Newspoll survey commissioned by Greenpeace found 84 per cent of Australians believed the Federal Government should increase subsidies for renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, within the next year. The poll also found 90 per cent of Australians wanted renewable energy to be given the same or greater subsidies than fossil fuels receive. "Rather than adding to their profits, we should be penalising the use of fossil fuels and putting public money into renewable energy solutions, such as solar and wind," Greenpeace campaigner Julien Vincent said.

Govt investment funds not so green: study

Canberra Times
Tuesday 18/3/2008 Page: 3

Australian government investment funds - including employee superannuation - are being used to bankroll fossil fuels and the nuclear energy industry, contrary to climate change policies supporting green energy, a new report says. The Australian Conservation Foundation says governments invested almost 50 times as much in fossil fuels and uranium mining than in renewable energy, making investment decisions at odds with policy commitments to reduce greenhouse emissions and tackle climate change.

Examining how $206 billion is invested by all Australian governments through 36 government investment funds, the foundation found $5.3 billion was invested in fossil fuels, $559 million in nuclear energy or uranium mining, and $126 million in renewable energy. The funds include superannuation, portable long-service leave funds, public insurance funds, trustee funds and some general treasury funds. The report, to be issued today in Brisbane, reveals the ACT Government is investing $56 million of its superannuation funds in fossil fuels, $6 million in nuclear energy and only $1 million in renewable energy.

It found that while the ACT Government stood alone in conducting a whole-of-government review of responsible investment practices, no funds were invested under an environmental, social or governance process which examines the potential for investments to contribute to risks such climate change. Foundation executive director Don Henry said the Future Fund, worth $9.6 billion, did not appear to have made any commitment to consider environmental, social and good governance principles in its decision making.

"With so much emphasis on climate change from federal, state and territory governments, many people would be shocked to discover government-controlled funds are still investing $47 in fossil fuels and uranium for every dollar they invest in renewable energy." The report, Responsible Public Investment In Australia, says the NSW, Victorian and Western Australian governments all have significant holdings in "uranium-related equities, despite legislative or political bans on uranium mining."

All governments had very low investment holdings in the renewable energy sector, despite claiming to have strong commitments to renewable energy. A Newspoll commissioned by Greenpeace found 90 per cent of Australians wanted to see renewable energy given the same or more government subsidies than those received by fossil fuels. The poll also found that 78 per cent of Australians were unaware that fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, received more subsidies than renewable energy.

Greenpeace climate campaigner Julien Vincent said taxpayers were funding wealthy fossil fuel companies to the tune of $803 a taxpayer. "Rather than adding to their profits, we should be penalising the use of fossil fuels and putting public money into renewable energy solutions. such as solar and wind."

Calls grow for fossil fuel subsidy cuts

Tuesday 18/3/2008 Page: 2

GREEN groups have called on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to cut billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. And it appears most Australians would be in favour. A Newspoll survey to be released by Greenpeace today shows 90% of respondents want the Federal Government to provide the renewable energy industry with the same or more in subsidies.

A report by the Australian Conservation Foundation, also to be released today, shows that the Australian Government invests nearly 50 times more in fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, and uranium mining, as it does on renewable energy. The report, Responsible Public Investment in Australia, found that government controlled funds were investing $47 in fossil fuels and uranium for every dollar they invested in renewable energy.

The study of 36 federal, state and territory investment funds, controlling assets worth a combined $206 billion, found most did not consider environmental, social and governance risks in making their investment decisions. ACF executive director Don Henry said that while some governments, such as the ACT, were reviewing their investment practices, funds including the $60 billion Future Fund did not consider environmental factors.

"Government-controlled funds that do not manage environmental risks in their portfolios put at risk their financial returns and the world we will leave for our kids," he said. The ACF's call for a change of tack came as Greenpeace released a poll showing that 78% of Australians were unaware that fossil fuels received significantly more in subsidies than renewable energy. Of the 90% of people who wanted renewables to receive the same favourable treatment as fossil fuels, 84% said it should happen over the next 12 months.

Greenpeace energy campaigner Julien Vincent said renewable energy deserved a fair share of the $9 billion of taxpayer-funded subsidies that went to the fossil fuel industry each year. "The federal budget in May is a golden opportunity for the new Government to begin phasing out unnecessary and environmentally damaging handouts to fossil fuels, starting with the coal industry's $300 million diesel fuel discount." The budget will be a major test of Kevin Rudd's willingness to take real action on climate change and help develop Australia's renewable energy industry into a world leader."


Tuesday 25 March 2008

Green power comes at a high price

Courier Mail
Monday 17/3/2008 Page: 6

THE State Government wants to power the Gold Coast desalination plant with green energy, but consumers will be slugged twice the price of traditional electricity. The $1.2 billion Tugun plant will be one of Queensland's most energy hungry pieces of infrastructure when it comes on line in November, using 200,000 megawatts of power a year and emitting as much carbon as a city the size of Mount Isa.

Premier Anna Bligh yesterday announced plans to make the facility carbon-neutral. She said it would cost between $18 million and $19 million a year to power the plant using renewable energy, compared with up to $10 million for coal-fired electricity.

But Ms Bligh said the extra cost of using green power would add only $1 to $2 a year to every householders' water bill and believed it would be supported by southeast Queenslanders to help reduce climate change. "Green energy is close to double the cost of brown energy. But spread that across all water users and it becomes a very affordable, very realistic investment in the environment." she said.

Design for life man hour: It's not just about one event, it's about long-term change.

Canberra Times
Monday 17/3/2008 Page: 9

MORE THAN 2 MILLION Sydneysiders and 2200 businesses were involved in the first Earth Hour; this year, with the global involvement, the number of potential participants are in the multimillions. But why should anyone turn out the lights for an hour on March 29? No one pretends it's going to save the planet (although it will save a substantial amount of electricity). But what the big turn-off does is turn us on - to the need to change our wasteful ways.

This is the underlying ambition of Earth Hour. It's not about creating an hour of near darkness, it's to emphasise the link between energy use and climate change. We want to turn on our lights; we need power to do so; power has to be generated; the vast majority of power is generated from burning coal; burning coal produces greenhouses gases; increased greenhouse gases are overheating the atmosphere.

The end results are chaotic weather patterns, more severe and more frequent droughts and floods, bleached coral reefs, rising sea levels and a melting North Pole. Even worse, the changes that seem so small, say a degree or two warmer than a decade ago, can make an enormous difference. Animals are now emerging from hibernation before their food sources are available, plants are flowering before pollinators have become active, birds that breed to coincide with life cycles of certain insects find their timing askew.

It sounds bad, because it is, but there are plenty of reasons to be positive. Many governments and communities have already made big changes to reduce emissions. The use of solar and wind power is on the increase. Other renewable energy sources are being investigated. Millions of dollars are being spent exploring ways to bury carbon dioxide or to produce cleaner coal.

But more has to be done and politicians need to be brave enough to make tough decisions. If those politicians know that a couple of million people in their homeland have joined in Earth Hour, they can be confident that the people will support the hard decisions and will applaud leaders who have the will to act.

The beauty of Earth Hour is how easy it is to join in. You can register on the Earth Hour website ( and get emailed updates and tips - or you just turn off your lights for an hour at 8pm on March 29. You can also tell your friends and relatives, workmates and neighbours and encourage them to switch off their lights, as well as any unnecessary appliances. And then you can get the beeswax candles and, of course, an ice bucket for the wine and you're ready.

Last year, there were candlelit street parties, night picnics on the harbour foreshore and night dog walking. A number of restaurants served dinners by candlelight; at Glass Brasserie, in the Hilton Hotel, Sydney, diners were so entranced the effect was repeated for St Valentine's Day and will be done again on March 29.

Earth Hour is about more than 60 minutes. It's about reducing emissions 24 hours a day. Much has been said, and read, about changing light globes, turning off unused appliances and switching to green energy alternatives. There are other easy ways to save energy. In the kitchen, check the rubber seal on your fridge by putting a piece of paper in the door to see that it is held firmly. Cut vegetables into smaller pieces to speed up the cooking process.

Avoid gas flames spilling up the sides of pots - turn the burner down to keep flames on the bottom. If cooking in the oven, avoid opening the door unnecessarily. In the laundry, only wash with a full load, or reduce the water level settings. Wash in cold water. Use a clothes line rather than a dryer whenever possible. In the living room, buy a fan or, even better, install a ceiling fan (ditto for the bedroom).

Make use of natural light by moving furniture so you can read by the window. Lighter coloured walls will reflect light back into the room, rather than absorbing it. Outside, compost and/or get a worm farm. It's the perfect way to recycle kitchen scraps and nourish the garden. And on March 29, turn out the lights and enjoy being part of the growing awareness that we have to be nice to this planet of ours.

EU pushes leadership on climate

Border Mail
Saturday 15/3/2008 Page: 32

EUROPEAN Union leaders were set yesterday to agree to enact an ambitious global warming action plan by early next year, in order to set the tone for international climate talks in 2009. "It's a very good proposal and I believe that tomorrow we'll be able to support it by way of council (summit) conclusions. We must reach agreement in the first months of 2009 at the latest," Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, said after the first day of an EU summit.

Mr Jansa and other European leaders want the EU to be in a strong position for climate change negotiations with its global partners, particularly China, Brazil and the US. "The European Union will continue to lead in this area," he said. In written conclusions from their summit in Brussels, the leaders are expected to come up with a "coherent package" of laws that should be adopted "at the latest early in 2009", according to a draft.

The plan aims to meet the 27-country EU's over-arching goal to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide - the main gas held responsible for global warming - by 20 per cent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels. They have committed to go to 30 per cent if other countries would match them.

To achieve that figure, EU states are obliged to make renewable energies, such as solar and wind power, the source of 20 per cent of the total energy consumption across the bloc by 2020. The current level is just 6 to 7per cent. They have also given a political commitment that eco-friendly biofuels, made from plants, should make up 10 per cent of total vehicle fuel in Europe by 2020.

However, yesterday Mr Jansa cast some doubt on that initiative, telling a press conference that the biofuels target could be amended amid fears it will further hit soaring food prices as fuel crops such as colza take land from traditional food crops. The proposed plan, presented by the European Commission in January, set targets for individual nations to help achieve the bloc's goals, and would oblige industry to start paying for the gases emitted.

EU leaders argued a year ago that such targets would help put the bloc at the forefront of international efforts to fight climate change, but some countries fear they will struggle to meet them. Several ex-communist nations have criticised the EU executive arm's proposals, fearing the costs for their relatively poor, coal dependent economies.

Most want wind farm

Barrier Daily Truth
Saturday 15/3/2008 Page: 1

A majority of Silverton residents support the wind farm, according to a secret ballot conducted by the Silverton Village Committee. Thirty-six respondents voted in favour of the Epuron wind farm going ahead, while 20 opposed it. Two ballot papers were not returned. The ballot simply asked whether the resident was for or against the project and was designed to allow people to have their say without fear of recrimination. The Committee conducted the vote to gauge what the residents felt about the $2 billion wind farm proposal, said its Secretary, Albert Woodroffe, yesterday.

He said the Committee did not have an official opinion about the wind farm, but it can now move forward on behalf of the town. "We now know the mood of the town. We can move forward and work with whoever we need to work with for a positive outcome for Silverton." Mr Woodroffe said he was not against the wind farm, but did not like where the turbines would be erected. He said the Committee will "keep an eye" on developments.

Many residents were concerned about the environmental impact during construction, he said. "Up in the hills, for instance, once they start blasting up there and they break ground, silt will run down into Umberumberka reservoir... it will silt up the reservoir." He also said the Silverton Road will have up to 200 trips a day by 42m long, 5m wide low loaders. "What's that going to do to the road?" asked Mr Woodroffe.

He said Silverton was Broken Hill's biggest tourist attraction and this must be considered. The Committee has a meeting scheduled with Epuron on March 26. Various trusts in the township - such as Silverton Common Trust and Penrose Park Trust - will be invited to attend. "We decided they can address the whole community at once." Meanwhile, the Village Committee is working on a planning document for Silverton, in conjunction with the NSW Department of Lands and Western Lands Commissioner. "It will take us into the future, and state what we want and need as a town," said Mr Woodroffe.

He said he envisaged the plan would cover the wind farm or similar developments. "When the Epuron development application goes to the State Government, this planning document could go alongside it so the people making the decisions can see what Silverton is all about."

Third wind farm on the cards for Hallett Hill

Burra Broadcaster
Thursday 13/3/2008 Page: 3

AGL Energy Limited announced last week that it has acquired the development rights for a third wind farm to possibly be built near Mt Bryan. If construction goes ahead, the new site, located just 15 kilometres from the Brown Hill and Hallett Hill wind farms, is expected to have a total capacity of 90 megawatts. AGL managing director Michael Fraser said that if construction proceeds, the Hallett Three wind farm could take AGL's total number of wind turbines in the state up to 164, with a combined capacity of 345 megawatts by 2010.

"The proposed Hallett Three wind farm will comprise around 30 turbines, with an installed capacity of up to 90 megawatts," Mr Fraser said. "When fully operational we anticipate that it will generate enough renewable energy to power approximately 43,000 average Australian households and avoid up to 265,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year." The plans to develop a new wind farm come after the construction of Hallett Two at Hallett Hill, commenced late last year.

Currently in the initial stages, AGL has said the third wind farm would consist of wind generators, an underground electrical cable network, access tracks, hardstandings, wind monitoring masts, a switchgear building and yard, and a section of export powerline to a local connection point along the regional transmission system. The company plan to undergo an extensive consultation process with local residents, interest groups, cultural groups and natural resource management organisations before development gets the go-ahead.

`AGL's wind farm sites are all first-class wind resources," Mr Fraser said. `At an advantage of eight to nine metres per second, the Hallett Three site has an excellent wind speed compared with AGL's nearby sites at Hallett One and Two. "Considering the current and proposed projects, AGL will retain the flexibility to either fund the development balance sheet or pursue a structured sale similar to that undertaken for the original Hallett One wind farm." Member for Stuart, Graham Gunn, said the construction of a third wind farm for the region is a step forward.

"I think it is a very good thing for our region and our state," he said. "It will create local employment during the construction period, and then they'll also need people to maintain the wind farm once construction is complete." Mr Gunn also said having alternative energy sources is good for the state. "The wind farms provide another source of energy for South Australia," he said. "Obviously, they bring another element in our energy capacity.

"It is good because with the wind farms, we're not putting as much pressure on the power stations such as the ones in Port Augusta and Torrens Island." And while AGL do not anticipate a final decision on the outcome of the proposed Hallett Three wind farm project until later in the year, Mr Gunn said he is looking forward to hopefully adding to the regions' wind farms. "I'm looking forward to it being completed," he said.

Fair wind for project

Albany & Great Southern Weekender
Thursday 13/3/2008 Page: 7

Denmark's community wind farm project is on track for a 2010 construction start. Only the final approvals and completion of funding is required for the two-turbine wind farm at Wilson Head to add much-needed power to the local grid. Denmark Community Wind Farm (DCW) chairman Craig Chapelle said his group had been delayed by bureacracy despite rezoning approval of the Crown land (A-class reserve) being given by the State Government.

"The community project is still a goer. We are ready to start the wind farm construction in 2010," he said. "The Minister (Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan) approved general planning rezoning of the site in January 2006. "We are waiting for the final word on Federal Government funding and an agreement with Western Power." After that occurs, Mr Chappelle said DCW would then approach the community to fund the project.

This would be backed by a study proving its financial viability. DCW aims to create a trust to direct some or all of the wind farm profits to help finance local community projects. Mr Chappelle said one of the problems facing the project was the poor state of Denmark's power supply infrastructure. The wind farm would be able to provide enough power for the town but the infrastructure would not be able to handle the load.

"We would only be a part of the solution to the supply problem," he said. Although DCW initially applied for four turbines, it is now considering the two 800kW machines. The wind farm site was rejected by Denmark Shire Council in 2005 when it was asked to comment on rezoning. The Shire agreed with wider community objections that the wind farm would be an eyesore overlooking Ocean Beach.

At the time, Stirling MLA Terry Redman said the community gave a very clear indication that it did not want the wind farm at Wilson Head. "It is disappointing for them that they are being ignored by this government," Mr Redman said. Anti-wind farm campaigners claim the proposal for a similar wind farm inland at Mt Barker proved there was no need for it to be located on the coast.

Bay powered for Easter

Albany & Great Southern Weekender
Thursday 13/3/2008 Page: 5

WESTERN Power is taking a safe approach to meeting the increase in demand for electricity which occurs in Bremer Bay during Easter. To avoid interruptions to the electricity supply that comes from Albany, Western Power will rely on power generated by a combination of a wind turbine and diesel generator.

Country regional planning manager Dean Frost said the 30 per cent increase in demand during Easter required a flexible solution. "We believe creating an island network just for Easter that's powered by wind and diesel generators is a sensible solution to a complex problem and it will insulate Bremer Bay from power interruptions," he said.

Mr Frost said the 180km long Albany to Bremer Bay line was interrupted by a variety of problems including wind-borne debris, vehicles hitting poles, stubble burning, birds and animals, as well as equipment failure.

"Although running the wind-diesel generators is a more expensive option, we believe that during the high tourist season when many towns benefit from the increase in visitors it is best to rule out interruptions from those factors," he said. The town will be connected to the wind-diesel generators from March 18 to March 27. Mr Frost said a disruption of about 15 minutes could be experienced during the connection process.