Friday 4 April 2008

With an eye on the climate

Ballarat Courier
Saturday 29/3/2008 Page: 124

CLIMATE change in Ballarat will be put in to perspective at a forum next month. Four of Australia's leading scientists will share their knowledge on global warning, water biodiversity and energy issues at the forum.

Presented by Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions and University of Melbourne, School of Forest and Ecosystem Science in Creswick, the forum will challenge people to hear the facts about climate change and its impact on Ballarat and its residents, and discover local solutions that will play a pivotal role in creating a sustainable lifestyle for the region's children.

BREAZE spokeswoman Elise Constable said climate change could be tackled on a local and regional level. As the impacts of global warming on our region increase, such as reduced rain fall, increased temperatures and storm activity intensify, it will be local residents, business and government groups working in concert which will yield the most powerful, relevant and successful solutions, largely because we know our region and our needs," Ms Constable said.

The differences between our current lifestyle and the one our children will experience in just 40 years time will be many and varied, but solve of the obvious changes can be grouped into two of the four subjects we are covering in the climate change forum. These include water and energy which rust be used far more efficiently."

Speakers at the forum include Professor of Meteorology and University of Melbourne Federation Fellow Professor David Karoly; Monash University director of the Institute for Sustainable Water Resources Dr Tini Fletcher; Canberra Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU, Visiting Fellow Barney Foran; and University of Melbourne head of School of Forest and Ecosystem Science Professor Rod Keenan.

Ms Constable expected some interesting conclusions to cone out of the forum. She said the most important issues and solutions would be presented to the council, business groups and the community. The forum will be held at the Wendouree Centre for Performing Arts on April 12 between 12pm and 5.30pm. People can select and attend preferred sessions or attend all four sessions.

Admission is $12.50 for adults, $10 concession and $5 for students.

For more information visit or call 5338 0980 to book tickets.

Big-time swim for Narooma

Bay Post
Friday 21/3/2008 Page: 10

FOLLOWING the success of the Jindabyne Big Swim last month, the Narooma LifeSaving Energy Big Swim will be held in the Wagonga Inlet on April 20. The seven-kilometre swim will start at Taylor Bros on Riverside Drive in Narooma at 8am on the Sunday. Entrants will swim into the bay and around a clearly marked buoy before heading down the Wagonga Inlet (with the tide) to finish at Little Bar Beach.

Although there is no entry fee, swimmers will be asked to look for sponsorship to go towards funding renewable energy for the Narooma and Bermagui surf clubs. A two-kilometre swim will be held on the same day, starting from the bridge and finishing at Little Bar Beach. Clean Energy for Eternity founder Dr Matthew Nott said swimming with the tide would make the two kilometre swim a quick one, so an entry fee would be required.

"A surf boat race will follow the seven-kilometre swim," he said. "The day's water safety will be provided by the Narooma and Bermagui surf clubs and there will be live music in the afternoon." Dr Nott said the swim must raise at least $8000 to be a success. "We get an $8000 AGO (Australian Greenhouse Office) rebate," he said. "The Bega Valley and Eurobodalla Shire councils have agreed to fund LifeSaving Energy dollar for dollar with community donations. "Along with that the Narooma and Bermagui surf clubs have already started fundraising.

"If you put that all together, if we can raise about $8000 with this swim then we can get the Bermagui and Narooma surf clubs set up with renewable energy." Dr Nott said they would get solar panels and a wind turbine onto the roof of the Narooma surf club in June but wait for Bermagui to get a clubhouse. "We can install the renewable energy at Bermagui as a free standing set up on the site of the surf club so it can immediately start saving money for the Bermi club," he said.

Along with the renewable energy fund requirement, the swim is also looking to raise some much-needed funding for the Narooma swimming club. "The swim club is an integral part of this event," Dr Nott said. "The event is evolving into a strong partnership between Clean Energy for Eternity and the surf clubs of South East NSW." Dr Nott said the Jindabyne LifeSaving Energy Big Swim held earlier this year raised nearly $20,000 for the Jindabyne surf club.

"Renewable energy will be installed on the roof of the Jindabyne surf club on May 3," he said. The next Lifesaving Energy Big Swim will be in the Moruya River on May 11 for experienced swimmers only. "This will be to raise money for the Moruya and Broulee surf clubs," Dr Nott said. "Both surf clubs are well underway with fundraising."

Stuck in our cars on the highway to hell

Sunday Age
Sunday 30/3/2008 Page: 19

CLIMATE change, peak oil, mounting traffic congestion and planning inertia have given Melbourne a transport headache. For half a century, we have hitched our hopes to an impossible dream - the dream of automobility. The freedom to drive when, where and as often as we like has become almost a sacred right. Now our dream has become a nightmare.

As petrol prices rise and the environmental costs of maintaining a car based city hit home, we may wonder how we got ourselves into this jam. And whether we can get out of it. Australians have always been in love with mobility. A century ago, steam trains and cable trams helped to make Melbourne one of the most suburbanised cities in the world. We were even more likely to travel to work by train or tram than Londoners or New Yorkers.

The city might have continued to develop along these lines. In the early 1920s, rail and tramway officials planned to double the network, electrify the system and encircle the CBD with an underground rail loop. But these plans were stillborn. The Great Depression and the Second World War curbed public transport investment. In the late 1940s, patronage on Melbourne's over-strained public transport reached an all-time high. But the city of strap-hangers was growing tired of public transport.

In 1948, Labor PM Ben Chifley greeted the first Holden, Australia's Own Car, as it rolled off the assembly line at Fishermen's Bend. A year later, Liberal leader Robert Menzies won power with the promise of finally ending wartime petrol rationing. Melbourne had glimpsed a different future, a future based on the car. To its admirers, the car was a freedom machine. It symbolised the self-directed, mobile, status-conscious society emerging in the suburbs. Cars promised to liberate people from the tyranny of the timetable, and the crush and sweat of the crowd.

In those days, Labor championed public transport. Six of premier John Cain snr's cabinet were former transport unionists. Socialists believed there was something egalitarian and fraternal in a form of transport shared by the people as well as owned by them. A little of that ideal lingers in the outlook of present-day public transport advocates.

Melbourne embraced the car with astonishing speed. In 1951, only one Melbournian in 10 drove to work, but by 1974 two-thirds did so. In the late 1960s, the Bolte government hatched the Melbourne Transportation Plan, a blueprint that guided the city's transport development for the following three decades. It included only one major public transport project, the long-delayed underground rail loop. Its centrepiece was a 500-kilometre network of freeways extending along the Yarra and its tributaries, and criss-crossing the inner city from north to south.

Protests by inner-city activists killed off most of the north-south connections, leaving the radial connections along the creek and river valleys, such as the Monash and Eastern freeways. The outcome made political sense but left a truncated system that duplicated the radial pattern of the existing CBD-centred public transport system while doing little to accommodate the rapidly growing volume of cross-city movement.

The big transport projects of the Kennett era, such as Citylink, reinforced this pattern. Labor has improved rolling stock and tinkered with the ticketing system but has done little to extend public transport to the suburbs that lacked it. The further the metropolis has extended, the vaster have become the wedges of car-dependent suburbs between the thin ribbons of rail and tram.

Melbourne is now so dependent on the car that there may seem to be no way out. Yet if it took only 20 years for us to get hooked on the car, perhaps it's not too short a time to cure our addiction. Two fallacies bedevil thinking about our transport future. One is the belief that automobility, like the free market, is an irresistible force - that we must simply keep driving and hope that someone soon comes up with a petrol-less car.

Given the choice, most Melbournians would probably vote for an automobilised future. It's what our mobile society seems to require. Automobility, however, is not an end in itself, just one good among many. Not everything about it may even be good. In promoting individual freedom, for example, it may erode community ties.

The other fallacy is the nostalgic belief that the future lies in a return to the past. But the shortest distance between the present and a desirable future seldom detours through the past. The costs of retro-fitting a 21st century city with a 1920s-style fixed rail public transport system is likely to be prohibitive.

Too much recent debate has centred on bib ticket solutions to ease congestion in the inner city, through road tunnels or underground railways; too little on developing lower-cost public transport solutions for the car dependent outer suburbs. It's no longer good enough to release new residential land without a transport plan. And it's time someone looked again at our ossified suburban bus system. After all, it's in the outer suburbs that the poorest people now live and, as Ross Garnaut observed last week, that's where the high cost of our addiction to automobility is likely to be felt most acutely.

Graeme Davison is the author of Car Wars: How the Car Won our Hearts and Conquered our Cities, published by Allen and Unwin.

Council at vanguard of change

News Weekly
Wednesday 26/3/2008 Page: 17

Bega Valley Shire Council is a leader in combating climate change and was the first local government authority in NSW to buy renewable energy from Country Energy for 100 per cent of its sites. Over the next four years, the council will power all 197 of its sites - including water and sewerage facilities, sporting grounds, buildings, swimming pool and streetlights - with renewable energy.

"There are all sorts of pressures in the community, and worldwide, to do something about global warming, so as a council we have committed to making improvements. We decided to take charge," the Mayor, Cr Tony Allen said. Prior to the `green deal', council consumed almost seven million kilowatt hours of energy each year, emitting more than 7,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

By buying renewable energy for all its sites, council's operations will effectively he carbon neutral, having no impact on global warming. When the green energy deal was signed, Country Energy's regional general manager for the south east, David Bellew congratulated council on leading the way in environmental conservation and encouraged locals to follow council's lead by also buying renewable energy from Country Energy.

"Bega Valley Shire Council is really setting the benchmark for other councils," Mr Bellew said. "Their commitment to using 100 per cent renewable energy is helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 36,000 tonnes over the next four years. "Purchasing renewable energy is a simple way that we can all help protect the environment. "You cannot underestimate the difference just one home can make.

"Generally, 100 per cent renewable energy customers save eight tonnes of greenhouse gases annually, which is equivalent to taking just over two cars off the road." Bega Valley Shire Council has supported a community objective of reducing energy use by 50 per cent and the generation of 50 per cent clean renewable energy by the year 2020.

"It's a big challenge to meet the 50/50 by 2020 targets, but our council is committed to doing its part for the environment," Cr Allen said. Council joins a growing number of environmentally- aware homes and business that have already made the `switch' to electricity bought from renewable sources that cannot be depleted or can be replaced.

Zero carbon, zero waste

Weekend Australian
Saturday 29/3/2008 Page: 5

GROUND was broken last month in one of the world's most harsh environments - the initial step in spending $US22 billion on the first zero carbon, zero waste and car free city. But Masdar City --- the name means "the source" in Arabic - is more than a bid to turn 7 sq km of featureless desert into a sustainable urban area. It is also the core of an audacious attempt by oil-rich Abu Dhabi to become the silicon Valley of global renewable energy research.

Abu Dhabi, capital of the seven-state United Arab Emirates, is today the world's richest city. Its 4.2 million inhabitants are the collective owners of an estimated 100 billion barrels of oil - and, after 50 years of feeding the world's oil thirst, they are wealthy enough to also have the globe's largest per capita ecological footprint, the product of ubiquitous air conditioning, chilled water swimming pools and a transport system largely consisting of SUVs and Hummers.

Masdar, however, will be different. Ahmed al Jaber, the Californian-educated chief executive of the project, says Abu Dhabi is setting out to create a standard for re-engineering world urban planning. Using the services of renowned architect Lord (Norman) Foster and his London-based Foster and Partners design business, Al Jaber will supervise the construction from the ground up between 2009 and 2016 of a walled city to house 50,000 people and 1500 businesses.

Energy for Masdar will come from solar and wind power. The construction work will be fuelled by a 100MW solar power station and its output will be supplemented later by rooftop solar panels on city buildings and by a wind farm. Water will be supplied from a solar powered desalination plant. Energy will be efficiently used. "A city of this size would need 820 megawatts of electricity," says Al Jaber,"but Masdar is being, designed so that its load will be only 220MW."

Wind powered grid to drive Denmark's cars

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 29/3/2008 Page: 87

DENMARK'S DONG Energy and a silicon Valley-based start-up firm yesterday said they would install an electric car network in the Scandinavian nation with almost 20,000 recharging stations. The grid, set to be in place by 2011, will be operated by Project Better Place, an initiative by Israeli-American entrepreneur Shai Agassi, using power from DONG Energy's wind turbines. A similar network is being built in Israel.

A fleet of battery-driven electrical vehicles will be introduced in Denmark after the recharging stations are built at parking lots and outside homes, Mr Agassi said. French car maker Renault will provide the vehicles and Japan's Nissan will make the Lithium-ion batteries under a partnership with Project Better Place announced earlier this year. Mr Agassi said other car makers and battery producers would join the project later.

The battery would allow a car to drive a maximum of 150 km before recharging, he said, adding that he expects the network to expand to other European countries soon. "We're in discussion with 30 countries - Europe, America and Asian nations," he told a news conference in Copenhagen.

When Israel's network was endorsed by the government there in January, supporters hailed it as a bold step in the battle against global warming and energy dependency, but sceptics warned that much could still go wrong along the way. DONG Energy chief executive Anders Eldrup said yesterday the grid would run on excess energy that its wind turbines generate on windy days. Windmills make up around 20 per cent of Denmark's electricity production.

Across Atlantic by kite

Lloyds List DCN
Thursday 27/3/2008 Page: 20

THE KITE-propelled ship Beluga SkySails has completed her maiden transatlantic voyage, arriving in Norway with the owner and engineers happy. "I believe it to be the start of the renaissance of wind power in modern shipping," SkySails managing director Stephan Wrage said. However, the first kite in use exploded somewhere high in the sky above the ocean. "We are in a testing phase and therefore pushing the limits," he said.

On January 22, the 9,775 dwt new building Beluga SkySails sailed from Germany to Venezuela, the US and Norway. Her first voyage focussed on calibration work and adjustments to stabilise the towing kite propulsion. "The towing kite system could be tested extensively on the transatlantic routes for periods of between a few minutes and up to eight hours," Mr Wrage said.

"During that time, the kite system pulled the ship with up to five tonnes of power at force five to six winds, which is a reduction of the engine output of more than 20%. "Projected onto the entire day, this performance represents a saving of some 2.5 tonnes of fuel or about US$1,200 per operating day." The testing of the kite system onboard the Beluga SkySails is co-funded with E1.2m (US$945,000) from the European Union's LIFE program.

"By co-funding the project we want to set clear signals for climate-relevant technologies of the future and at the same time support the competitive ability of European shipping," Paul Nemitz, deputy head of the European Commission's Maritime Policy Task Force, said. After the pilot phase, the 160 sqm kite is to be replaced by one that is twice the size, delivering double the amount of energy and saving twice as much fuel.

By 2009, 10 kites with some 600 sqm should be available, which could then be operational with handymax vessels of 35,000 dwt-40,000 dwt. Mr Wrage said that with the success of the maiden voyage, shipowners would overcome their cautiousness and sign contracts. So far there were only three firm orders, including the one from Beluga Shipping. Mr Wrage said that SkySails was in final negotiations with five or six German shipowners and others.

Volharding Shipyards in the Netherlands built the Beluga SkySails. It cost about E500,000 to install the SkySails system - a 15 metre mast and the gondola containing the kite. Strengthening her bow cost about E150,000, taking the cost of the ship to E20m. It would pay off financially in three to five years depending on the routes, Mr Wrage said.

Thursday 3 April 2008

Wideform expansion puts wind in its sails

Illawarra Mercury
Friday 28/3/2008 Page: 7

THE Wideform Group of Companies is expanding into new territory in a move it says will create hundreds of jobs in Wollongong. Wideform has already come a long way from its humble beginnings as a small formwork company with three employees in 1974 and during the past decade the Unanderra-based business has expanded into building construction, development, seniors living, interior design and decorating.

Now it has announced three new joint ventures with a major European partner which will see Wideform move into renewable energy, the manufacture of aluminium and property development in East Timor. Wideform's new association with the Portugal-based Martifer Group could generate up to 300 jobs in Wollongong and inject many millions of dollars into the Illawarra economy.

Managing director Fred Ferreira said Wideform's expansion would involve the construction of an eight-storey national headquarters in Young St, Wollongong, the acquisition of Sassall Aluminium in Berkeley Rd, Unanderra and the creation of a new wind tower factory covering 12,000 sqm nearby. The renewable energy joint venture will result in a company called Eviva Energy committing billions of dollars to wind farm projects throughout Australia during the next decade.

A $2.5 billion project is being considered in Victoria with a flow-on of 100 new jobs in Wollongong. "Construction will be undertaken by Wideform," Mr Ferreira said. "We will be establishing a new factory for the manufacturing of towers." The turbine technology will be delivered by Martifer but the rest of the work will be done at Unanderra.

Another joint venture involves the acquisition of Sassall Aluminium, which makes aluminium windows and curtain walls. Sassall Aluminium is located across the road from the Wideform Group's existing head office. Mr Ferreira said the good news for the Illawarra was that the curtain wall manufacturing that was now taking place in Thailand, would be moved to Wollongong.

"We will be installing new technology (at the existing factory) to meet the demand of the market." Mr Ferreira said Wideform products would also be marketed more extensively in other states. The company was also exporting its skills and expertise overseas by investigating new initiatives in East Timor. Mr Ferreira's wife Estela is Australia's Goodwill Ambassador to East Timor and Wideform's goal is to foster economic and social development with construction and infrastructure development.

Through another joint venture with the Martifer Group, a company called Wideland has been created to develop offices, apartments, private condominiums, hotels and industrial business parks in East Timor. Horizon Living was also preparing to enter into a joint venture with the Martifer Group to build luxury seniors living communities in Portugal, Mr Ferreira said. A development application would soon be lodged for a new head office in Young St. Wideform will occupy five levels of the eight storey building.

Epuron sweetens wind farm deal

Barrier Daily Truth
Friday 28/3/2008 Page: 2

Epuron is moving forward with its plan to build the Silverton Wind Farm, and seems to be sweetening the deal for residents. The Silverton Village Committee met the company on Wednesday night at a community consultation. Committee secretary Albert Woodroffe said Epuron had raised the possibility of establishing a community fund if the project went ahead.

"Apparently this is one of the things power companies do when they move in to a new community," said Mr Woodroffe. Epuron would pay into the fund annually. Mr Woodroffe said it was not yet known what the money could be used for. He hopes it could be used to fund a water treatment plant, upgrade infrastructure at Penrose Park or restore an old bridge across Black Hill Creek to provide an emergency road out of the town in times of flood.

Epuron also offered to install and subsidise solar power and water systems for Silverton residents, Mr Woodroffe said. While this would score points with residents, Mr Woodroffe said the meeting got heated about placement of the wind farm, as some people felt it was going down "right on top of them."

Garnaut warns of political fixers

Friday 28/3/2008 Page: 1

AUSTRALIA'S risk in combating climate change lies in a revival of rent-seekers, political lobbyists and sectional manipulators who hurt our economy for most of the past century, government adviser Ross Garnaut warned last night. He said reducing greenhouse gas emissions was the next battle between economic reformers, who relied upon transparency and competition, and the old Australian impulse to political fixes.

In his dinner speech to The Australian - Melbourne Institute economic and social conference, Professor Garnaut took aim at critics of his proposed Emissions Trading Scheme, particularly those who want emissions permits issued for free. That approach would have government deciding which firms and which activities should be given permits to emit greenhouse gases," he said. We once handed out foreign exchange in this way firm by firm, activity by activity.

"If this course were to be followed, managers would find it more rewarding to put pressure on government to secure emissions rights than to find and to apply low-emissions ways of going about their business. "We wouldn't find enough new ways to reduce emissions at low cost." Professor Garnaut warned that some people saw climate change as the chance to "invite back into the centre of policy-making all of the rent-seeking interests that blighted our economic performance from the time of Federation to the 1980s."

His message was that nations could get their Emissions Trading Schemes right or wrong with grave consequences. An ETS was "a new market established by government decree" that relied upon government coercive powers. As a result, "the rich possibilities for corruption of an ETS" had led many economists to favour a direct carbon tax that was transparent and "much less amenable to manipulation by private interests." But Professor Garnaut said there was merit in a good ETS. Properly designed, it would minimise the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But he warned of the "stark" contrast between his own market based model and other proposals designed to "shelter some interests from the adjustment that must occur if the abatement goal is to be met." Professor Garnaut said the turning point for the ETS would be when people saw the returns were higher from investing in new markets than lobbying to get the best political fix from government.

He said he would be optimistic once a proper ETS were established. "Well-designed markets can unleash the ingenuity of Australians in reducing emissions at minimum cost to the standard of living," he said. He predicted this could be done without a noticeable effect on rising living standards. The Garnaut speech fused the two ideas of economic reform and climate change abatement. His theme was that Australia must bring an economic reform mindset to the ETS design and deny the old impulse for rent-seeking and political deals.

In a report issued last week, Professor Garnaut identified four pillars essential for an effective ETS: the auctioning of permits, firm long-term trajectories that define emission reduction paths, a mechanism to move between trajectories and careful linkage of an Australian ETS to international schemes.

Reviewing the challenge, Professor Garnaut said: "There are two things that could go wrong. We could dissipate resources in seeking to influence discretionary government decisions rather than get on with the job of efficiently reducing emissions. And if we get this wrong, then the resulting instability can itself require costly economic policy resources."

Market forces `will short-circuit power'

Friday 28/3/2008 Page: 22

AUSTRALIA'S major electricity generators will suggest to Ross Garnaut's emissions trading review today that the application of pure market forces will cause severe disruption to the nation's electricity supplies. Professor Garnaut has proposed that the dirtiest power stations, three in Victoria's Yallourn Valley and those in Western Australia based on the Collie coalfields should receive no assistance in meeting emissions caps when the system is introduced in 2010.

John Boshier, executive director of the National Generators Forum, which represents the generating companies, said yesterday that Professor Garnaut was so far ignoring the realities of the Australian electricity market, which was dominated by coal-fired operations. Unless there was a transitional system that catered for the fact that some of the baseload operations were operating on low quality coals and therefore had higher emissions per unit of electricity generated, there would be no balance sheet security for investors.

Security was necessary for the electricity industry faced an investment of about $130 billion between now and 2050 if the nation was to meet its government-backed emissions targets. Mr Boshier said Professor Garnaut had acknowledged that if generators closed down, electricity prices would go up. But what he had failed to take into account was that existing generation operations could not be replaced overnight.

"The National Electricity Market has been operating for only 10 years and it was not set up to take account of the closure of important baseload units," he said. "When the NEM was established, Australia had a generating surplus of around 25 per cent of capacity over demand. Now it is down to world's best practice of around 14 per cent. "Taking baseload units out of the system will create huge instability in supply," he added, noting that the current supply shortages in South Africa resulted from under-investment in generation.

Mr Boshier said it was inconceivable that state governments, having gone through the pain of accepting reform of the electricity system as part of national competition policy, would accept an emissions trading system that did not make some concessions to operations that currently ranked first in the electricity system's order of merit.

Liberals wary of `climate change' tag

Friday 28/3/2008 Page: 4

A MOTION to ban the term "climate change" when referring to man-made environmental impacts will be debated at next month's state Liberal council as the party wrestles over its position on global warming. The agenda for the Liberal state-council includes the proposition "that the party avoids using the term `climate change' when referring to man-made environmental impacts." The agenda says the term is favoured by green activists "as this implies man's responsibility for all change in the environment."

"Their aim is to dismantle the industrial economy," notes to the motion warn. "We can still have a debate on how we can reduce our impact on the global environment - but the Party needs to be wary of accepting the (green activists') premise in our policy." A separate motion calls for the Federal Government to instruct its climate change investigator Ross Garnaut to "provide evidence as to the extent of the contribution of human activity to global warming." State policy debates will include a motion for "land-based treatment and disposal" of toxic silt dredged from the Yarra river as part of the channel deepening project, and a motion to abolish stamp duty.

Denialists and dinosaurs still roam freely in the once proud and liberal Liberal party.

Wind farm briefing

Macedon Ranges Leader
Tuesday 25/3/2008 Page: 7

A TWO-PAGE newsletter on a proposed wind farm in Sidonia Hills has gone to more than 7000 homes in Kyneton, Newham and other houses near the proposed site. Tasmanian group Roaring 40s has applied to develop a farm with 34 turbines, 10km north east of Kyneton. The state planning department is assessing whether the 130m towers will need an Environmental Effects Statement.

Tuesday 1 April 2008

Primary schools going green

Esperance Express
Thursday 20/3/2008 Page: 4

Esperance primary schools are going green, with three primary schools in the district recently receiving grants to install solar power systems. Grass Patch, Munglinup and Esperance Primary Schools are all recipients of funding from the Solar Schools Program, which aims to have 350 solar schools across the state by 2010. Munglinup Primary principal Mark Rawlings said that the funding for the solar panels would help the school achieve its aim of becoming completely self-sufficient.

"The Solar Schools Program is about trying to get schools to recognise green and renewable energy," he said. "We are trying to encourage our students to be energy efficient because oil won't be around for ever." The school, which is also participating in Earth Hour, grows its own vegetables, collects rainwater and is currently looking at funding to purchase wind turbines.

Esperance Primary deputy principal Nola Smith said that the push to go green had come from the students themselves, who were concerned about climate change. "The school had an education program on climate change, and the push to be more energy efficient came from the kids. "The students undertook an energy audit, which included basic things that kids can do to reduce energy consumption, and a policy was produced that the school must adhere to." Ms Smith said that the students were in control of the program and that representatives met every week to brainstorm ideas.

According to Grass Patch Principal Jeff Brown, initiatives such as these are important to educate children about energy consumption and raise awareness about energy alternatives. "Human beings are part of one big ecosystem and kids need to learn how we fit into that ecosystem," Mr Brown said. "Through these initiatives we are planting the seed to help the kids recognise that we have an obligation to the people that come after us."

Solar Power for new Bellingen Library

Bellingen Courier Sun
Wednesday 26/3/2008 Page: 3

Photovoltaic cells will be used to generate power for the new library and this will be fed back into the electricity supply grid. Building Manager Bob Malone reported to Council on the various scenarios being considered to provide "Green energy" to the library. Mr Malone said the architect Steve Gorrell has designed the extensions with the objective of complying with the new energy efficiency requirements of Section J of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) 2007 in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He said: "The proposed office extensions are relatively conventional buildings, purposely designed in an attempt to keep costs within a limited budget and to fit in with a smaller country town and heritage context." Mr Malone said an Energy Simulation Model was undertaken and the building found to be 30% more efficient than the target level as required by the BCA. He said elements of the building which contribute to energy savings are sun louvres, deep overhangs, wind turbines, roof insulation, floor insulation and air conditioning.

Other items which Mr Malone describes as "modest energy measures" are provision of new generation T5 fluorescent lighting, perimeter lighting adjacent to windows switched separately to interior, turbine ventilators to roof spacing along with eaves vents to cool roof space and reduce air conditioning loads. Mr Malone also says there is a device that monitors and displays current and logged energy use and carbon emissions through a mounted LCD screen enabling both stall and the public to visually recognise the building's carbon outputs.

Two systems for solar energy have been proposed, a 5kW and a 6.6kW system. The two systems would have approximate payback periods of 33 years for a $36,000 and $47,000 investment respectively or 21 years if a 5% per annum increase in electricity fees is presumed. The savings then is rather in greenhouse gas saved. This equates to 132 tonnes of carbon dioxide for the 5kW system or 172 tonnes for the 6.6kW system over 20 years.

Mr Malone also suggested that Council switch their present power requirements for the Administration Building and Library to Greenpower. Even though it's not as cost efficient and doesn't generate as much positive publicity Council can immediately cut greenhouse gases by 60%. The cost increase over 20 years would probably be $12,000.

General Manager Mike Colreavy said the cost of the solar system had not been factored in to the original cost of the library and that was why it was being brought to Council now. Cr Child asked whether more trees would have to be removed to make way for the panels on the roof to be free of shade. Director of Engineering Mike Edsall said he would have to check. Council passed the resolution to install the solar system and to transfer their present power requirements to Greenpower leaving details of the proposed system and supplier to the administration.

Excluding petrol will make climate change pricier: Garnaut

AAP Newswire
Wednesday 26/3/2008

SYDNEY, March 26 AAP - Excluding petrol from an Australian Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) would only increase the overall cost of moving to a low emissions economy, the government's chief climate change adviser says. Professor Ross Garnaut was asked today about moves by the federal government to consider excluding petrol from an ETS. "I wouldn't want to say anything more than what we said in the discussion paper, and that is the broader the coverage the lower the overall cost to the economy," he told reporters in Sydney today.

Prof Garnaut says electricity and petrol prices will inevitably rise under the proposed Australian ETS due to start in 2010. He highlighted the rising cost of electricity and petrol under an ETS last week, when he released his climate change discussion paper. Labor won last year's federal election after promising, among other things, to combat rising petrol prices on behalf of working families struggling under increasing costs of living.

Opposition climate change spokesman Greg Hunt says Prof Garnaut had done what Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had refused to do - acknowledge the effect of an ETS on petrol prices. "Contrary to what he led Australians to believe, petrol will be going up rather than down under these proposals," Mr Hunt said on Thursday in response to Prof Garnaut's paper.

On Sunday, federal Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen said the government was thinking about excluding petrol companies from any ETS. Mr Bowen said excluding petrol companies was one issue under consideration in the government's forthcoming green paper on emissions trading. "We need to have a regime which cuts emissions but does not put an undue impact on those who can least afford it," he said.

"Petrol is a very important commodity for working families, for small business and for the economy as a whole and we need to be very careful about its impacts." Mr Bowen said the government still had a long way to go in developing its emissions trading scheme, which it has pledged to have up and running in 2010.

Garnaut has faith in market forces

Thursday 27/3/2008 Page: 8

LABOR'S chief adviser on climate change policy believes the market will resolve most problems arising from the introduction of an emissions trading scheme, while power companies claim market forces are likely to cause the greatest disruption. Presenting his blueprint for an emission trading scheme from 2010 to 800 business representatives yesterday, Ross Garnaut said he favoured a simple and transparent system with minimal intervention from government.

While acknowledging the damaging potential of volatility on energy costs driven by speculation in the new permits market, Professor Garnaut said applying price caps would just turn the scheme into a carbon tax. He admitted that the capacity for the Rudd Government to start the scheme gently with a lower price on emissions that increased over time could be disrupted by big emitters aggressively buying permits to use when they were more scarce.

"I would imagine the market would price in some probability of tightening, but nowhere near the whole potential," he said. "So there would be a bit of tendency in that direction, but that means the market is deciding that the lowest cost abatement over time would mean to do a bit more now, and a bit less later." National Generators Forum director John Boshier said Professor Garnaut displayed an "absolute faith" in the market to find the most efficient outcome, but warned that big power stations could close suddenly, sending prices skyrocketing as a result of market forces.

A high price on permits would mean some privately owned power stations in Victoria and South Australia would become commercially unviable and their owners would come under pressure to shut them to minimise their losses, Mr Boshier said. The implementers of an ETS needed to micro-manage the transition from existing power stations to new low-emission sources to avoid power shortages and price spikes that would arise, he said.

"If there's not enough power to take its place, then prices will go sky high," he said. Professor Garnaut reiterated his preference to include transport fuels in the scheme despite comments at the weekend by Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen that the Government was considering exempting them. In a speech to the Sydney Institute last night, Opposition Treasury spokesman Malcolm Turnbull warned the transition to a low-emission economy would not be simple and called for a reform of the tax system using revenue from auctioning emission permits.

Construction begins on Bungendore wind farm

Queanbeyan Age
Friday 21/3/2008 Page: 4

CONSTRUCTION has started on the $220 million Capital Wind Farm near Bungendore. Necessary surveying and geotechnical drills have been completed and workers are ready to build an access road and begin to construct the turbine foundations and meteorological towers. Wind farm owner, Renewable Power Ventures, an offshoot of investment and resources company Babcock and Brown, has asked for more staff to help with construction. They placed advertisements in local newspapers calling for workers to start as soon as possible.

The wind farm will span 10 kilometres from north to south and about six kilometres from east to west when it is complete. There will be 63 turbines at three separate locations - 17 at Groses Hill north-west of Lake George, 29 on Hammonds Hill near Tarago Road and 17 at Ellenden, on the western side of Lake George.

Let the symbolic step turn you greener

Newcastle Herald
Wednesday 26/3/2008 Page: 9

EARTH Hour is well on the way to capturing the hearts and minds of Australians. The action of turning off all unnecessary power for one dedicated hour is a powerful symbolic step towards a smart energy future for our region and our planet. And we can use it as a catalyst to make every hour energy smart. We already know about the simplest things that can be done around the house and at work; these will only begin to make a difference once we set them in motion.

These are the commonsense actions such as turning off the beer fridge, changing light globes, completely filling dishwashers and washing machines, limiting air conditioning use, turning off appliances at the wall, buying fewer packaged and imported goods, and using the car less. Community group Climate Action Newcastle has been urging local households and businesses to go further and make the switch to 100 per cent accredited GreenPower.

A 2007 Hunter Valley Research Foundation poll found that more than 90 per cent of people in the Hunter are willing to pay more for renewable energy. Significantly less have put their money on the line, although most energy retailers now provide accredited GreenPower. GreenPower comes from entirely renewable sources such as solar and wind energy; and the more of us who buy it, the cheaper it will be as investment flows into development of these exciting industries.

Renewable energy technologies currently receive 28 times fewer government subsidies than the fossil fuel industry; and a recent Newspoll found that 78 per cent of Australians were unaware of this, and 90 per cent want at least equal funding. Renewable energy will continue to be more expensive without a level playing field provided by state and federal governments.

More GreenPower also reduces the need for coal and gas-fired plants. In fact, climate change academic Dr Mark Diesendorf points out in his 2007 book Greenhouse Solutions With Sustainable Energy that if domestic off-peak electric hot water systems were replaced with solar or gas boosted solar in NSW, we would not need another baseload power plant for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, the terms of reference of last year's Owen inquiry into the future of NSW electricity precluded this. Instead, the NSW Government insists on selling off all responsibility for the state's electricity this year.

It's easy to use less energy from the grid. Government rebates are available for solar hot water (up to $1500), solar energy panels (more than $8000), and ceiling insulation (up to $300). Households should be jumping at these offers of substantial cash incentives to reduce their energy use, which will also reduce power bills. All of these actions will significantly reduce the contribution to climate change, while saving household dollars. Earth Hour is an important meeting of minds. We all need to recognise the urgency of addressing climate change every hour, every day.

Goals to go green

Diamond Valley Leader, Nillumbik
Wednesday 26/3/2008 Page: 3

Nillumbik Council will spend $170,000 on green power for its council buildings. It is estimated the green power, from South Australian wind farm CO zero, will reduce the council's greenhouse gas emissions by 53 per cent. Mayor Warwick Leeson said the new contract, in place until 2010, would contribute greatly to the council's environmental goals.

Monday 31 March 2008

Hopetoun Future Energy Group set to meet

Hopetoun Courier & Mallee Pioneer
Thursday 20/3/2008 Page: 1

A NEW group is being formed in Hopetoun to explore the area's renewable energy generation options and will meet at 7:30pm Monday March 31, at Gateway BEET. The group intends to discuss the renewable energy generation options outlined by the Hopetoun Community Sustainable Energy Initiative and will learn more about a Ballarat community group that has been successful in achieving community action on local renewable energy and climate change issues.

The Hopetoun Community Sustainable Energy Initiative, a research project undertaken by the University of Ballarat's National Centre for Sustainability (NCS: UB), reported that Hopetoun had some very good opportunities to generate renewable energy and recommended a community group be established to identify the community's interests and priorities, and to build on these opportunities.

This research, recently completed by NCS: UB researcher Lisa Kendal, found that Hopetoun had opportunities to access renewable energy at a number of levels. There are opportunities for individuals to use solar energy to heat their water in their homes, and to feed electricity back into the grid using photo-voltaic gridconnection systems. Community buildings have the opportunity to use geothermal energy (heat from under ground) for heating and there is also significant potential for the Hopetoun area to generate electricity from biomass (or organic) sources, such as cropping residues.

The results of this research were presented to the community at the Hopetoun Future Energy Day, and there was considerable interest from the participants in forming a local group to act on some of the options detailed in the report. To access an electronic copy of the Hopetoun Community Sustainable Energy Initiative report, please visit the NCS: UB website

If you are interested in being part of the Hopetoun Future Energy Group please come along!

Winds of change offshore: Plugging in to 'free' power

Gold Coast Bulletin
Thursday 20/3/2008 Page: 17

THE Queensland Conservation Council believes offshore wind farms could hold the key to powering the Tugun desalination plant and it is asking for state government money to prove it. On Sunday, Premier Anna Bligh invited the private sector to begin investigating ways to completely neutralise carbon emission from the $1 billion desalination plant, which is expected to use as much power as all the homes in Mount Isa, when it comes online later this year.

This week, the QCC announced plans to apply for up to $4 million from the Government's Queensland Renewable Energy Fund to investigate the feasibility of installing clusters of $4 million, giant wind turbines somewhere off the coast of Queensland. QCC executive director Toby Hutcheon said the government money could help to harness the untapped potential of wind-generated electricity.

"All we are wanting to do is to look at the feasibility and to see what the resources are, and to have a look at the area that you could potentially use for the facility," he said. "There is significant wind at Brisbane airport and global data suggests offshore wind resources are normally 30 to 50 per cent higher than costal wind resources." Mr Hutcheon said a precise site for the offshore wind farm had yet to be decided. "It's probably a little bit early to say," he said. "We're probably talking in that sort of area from 3km to 10km offshore.

"One of the key aesthetic issues is going to be, do you want to have wind farms off the beach? "It's possible that the notion would be, you would have them sufficiently out to sea so that you couldn't see them, but you can't necessarily guarantee that." Mr Hutcheon said the QCC would initially took at a 12-turbine offshore wind farm to fuel the Tugun site, which is expected to use about 200,000 megawatts of power each year.

AGL sells Chile gas outlet

Wednesday 26/3/2008 Page: 18

AGL Energy has sold its Chilean gas distribution business, GasValpo, for $US90 million ($98.4 million), which represents a small book loss. This is the third announcement as part of a plan by new chief executive Michael Fraser to restructure the company to concentrate on Australian assets. Mr Fraser has been keen to demonstrate that AGL Energy is pursuing a stable and coherent growth path following the removal of his predecessor, Paul Anthony, by the AGL Energy board last October.

GasValpo was always outside AGL Energy's core business, once AGL Energy decided to concentrate on its Australian retail energy operations. Since February, AGL Energy has announced it has acquired the rights for a third wind farm for its Hallet development in South Australia and confirmed it is considering options for disposing its PNG oil and gas assets once the front-end engineering and design decision for the ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG project is confirmed.

AGL Energy yesterday said it had sold GasValpo and associated assets and entities to a consortium of Australian superannuation funds. Under the sale terms, the buyers will refinance GasValpo's net bank debt of $US26 million. The remaining sale proceeds of $US64 million, together with about $US10 million in cash, will be applied to reduce AGL Energy's bank debt. Mr Fraser said the sale clearly demonstrated the company's "absolute focus" on capital management.

"It is the first in what should be a series of non-core asset divestments that will return our current credit rating of BBB to stable outlook and ultimately provide balance-sheet flexibility to participate in the significant new opportunities, both organic and greenfield, which are emerging in Australian energy markets," he said. AGL Energy is reportedly interested in acquiring NSW government-owned electricity assets, if they become available later this year.

Mr Fraser said yesterday Gas- Valpo was always going to be "the most challenging non-core asset to divest", so it was pleasing the divestment process had begun with its sale. GasValpo was in AGL Energy's books at $108 million, but the company expects that on a pre-tax basis it will record a loss of about $10 million on the deal, although the benefit of a "tax capital loss will result in a small post-tax gain." The transaction is not expected to affect AGL Energy's revised 2008 earnings guidance of $330-$360 million.

Zero building and the search for the Holy Grail of greenness

Wednesday 26/3/2008 Page: 11

UNTIL now, even the very best "sustainable" office buildings have managed only to reduce carbon emissions, not eliminate them. But a team of Melbourne architects say their design for a 19-storey building atop Richmond station will achieve the Holy Grail of greenness: zero emissions. Architectural director Paul Thatcher, of professional services company GHD, said the Zero project was hypothetical, but its environmental claims were real, and vetted by green ratings experts.

Mr Thatcher said the aim was to show that it was possible for a building to be emissions neutral, not because it was offsetting its emissions, but because it produced all its own energy on site. "It's not just about planting enough trees to offset carbon, it's about trying to stop polluting altogether," he said. The Zero building would create energy through massive solar panels and wind turbines on its roof. The narrow design and an atrium would give workers good natural light and ventilation, and water captured on the roof would be recycled.

The catch was the cost: about $165 million by GHD's estimates or about 20% more than a conventional office building of its size. It could take more than 25 years to get a return through rental on an investment of that size. Executive director of the Green Building Council David Craven said such an investment could be repaid more quickly once a carbon tax system was in place. This is really the next big challenge, to make building 'good' rather than just 'less bad'." Mr Craven said.

Wind and waves are the future of clean energy in Wales,

Weekend Australian
Saturday 22/3/2008 Page: 24

ENERGY security is essentially a matter of luck. The Arab tribes who made their home in the Middle East centuries ago had no idea of the wealth lying under the ground. And when James Cook sailed back to England in 1770 after landing at Botany Bay, and naming his discovery New South Wales, he was oblivious to the hidden irony of his chosen moniker. Both old south Wales and NSW sat atop billions of tonnes of black coal that would turn both places into global energy powerhouses.

The threat of climate change may require a radical and painful interruption to the exploitation of Australia's vast and still relatively untapped coal reserves. In Wales, coal seams are all but exhausted, put out of their misery by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1960s. And, as the North Sea gas fields also decline, in Britain the spectre of energy security has returned, forcing the Government to think hard and fast about life after coal.

The availability of new sources of more expensive but cleaner energy are proving to be just as serendipitous as fossil fuels. Australia looks as if it will again be a winner, blessed as it is with abundant sunshine, persistent winds and hot underground rocks. And so does Wales. The windswept principality plans to be energy self-sufficient by 2030, powered by an array of energy sources: nuclear, biomass, wind, waves and tides.

"There were a lot of ideas that were considered crazy in the 1970s that are becoming centre stage now," Welsh Environment Minister Jane Davidson says. Her government released a renewable energy route map in January and has combined known wind mapping with local planning conditions to prescribe seven regions in Wales suitable for large-scale wind farms. No onshore wind farms will be allowed near the coastline, as national parks and local planning issues are considered too contentious. Last year, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown set a target of developing 30,000MW of offshore wind energy by 2020, the same output as from 15 coal-fired power stations.

Davidson tells Inquirer: "If we are going to be safe and secure in energy, we need to have big, industrial-sized wind farms. But we are only going to have those in places that are not in national parks, that are not in areas of outstanding natural beauty and where the wind blows." Offshore wind is attractive because it has minimal effect on human settlements and can maximise the wind. But it also requires relatively shallow water to keep down installation costs. Even then, those costs are at least 30 per cent higher than conventional onshore wind electricity. This approach has not been without community opposition. There are more than 160 local groups across Britain trying to stop offshore wind farms from going ahead, even though most of them will operate kilometres off the coast.

Along the north coast of Wales is the Welsh Riviera": a line of picturesque seaside resort towns that have struggled to compete against the considerably sunnier holiday options offered in Spain and farther afield. It's also pretty windy and suitably shallow for offshore wind farms. In 2003, German energy company Npower built a small $200 million 30-turbine pilot wind farm, North Hoyle, about 10km off the north Wales coast.

Now the company plans to build a 200-turbine farm. The GWynt y Mor (Welsh for windy sea) farm will generate as much electricity as a coal-fired power station. It will be 13km from shore but still visible from the holiday resort of Llandudno, where residents are fighting to stop the proposal. Npower offshore development manager Mark Legerton admits the proposed farm will occupy more of the horizon than North Hoyle, whose distant turbines look like masts from the shore.

"There is an element within Llandudno who don't welcome the prospect of a wind farm on their part of the coastline," Legerton says. "It's human nature to resist change and it's an instinct that has served us well for thousands of years, but if we're not careful it will let us down at the vital moment when we are dealing with climate change." Local opposition group Save Our Scenery has been lobbying the local Conwy council, as well as parliament, to try to stop the wind farm. SOS secretary Janet Howorth says the turbines will be an eyesore even 13km away and claims wind energy is heavily subsidised.

"GWynt y Mor will make a massive impact on a very buoyant holiday resort," she says. "These turbines are going up everywhere and we are a small island and an overcrowded island and so our sensitive tourist areas shouldn't be exploited in this way." Boats are free to sail and fish around the North Hoyle site, and so far there have been no incidents, but the bigger site farther offshore will require full-time monitoring, according to Npower engineer Gareth Williams.

"You won't be able to get out there and back in a day, so it will need to have a service rig like an oil platform," he says. "You can see them (turbines), for sure. Whether they are prominent is in the eye of the beholder." Last month British Energy Secretary John Hutton announced the construction of the world's biggest power station, to be fuelled by wood chips. The $1 billion, 350MW power station in south Wales will source wood chips from forestry plantations in the US, Russia and Ukraine.

Britain also is progressing with a feasibility study into construction of the Severn barrage in southwest England. The $40 billion project has been the stuff of engineering dreams for more than 100 years. It would protect the Severn estuary from flooding, aid shipping and, importantly for energy, deliver up to 15,000MW of electricity by trapping tidal water and releasing it through turbines.

The barrage would meet 5 per cent of the British electricity demand. Opponents say it will harm marine ecosystems. On a more modest scale, Lunar Energy is developing technology to harness energy from tidal movement by building underwater tidal farms. The first 8MW plant will comprise four sturdy yellow turbines, 25m long and 15m high, rotating at about the same speed as a revolving door. The tidal farm will be constructed on the seabed off west Wales's Pembrokeshire coast by 2010.

Lunar Energy's Niels Nielsen says the technology is made economically viable by geography: the shape of the seabed forces tides to flow swift and constant. "If you have a very strong current, you tend to get rips and eddies, so that is more of a reason not to go there. You are looking for linear flows," he says. "The whole ocean energy thing has been a figment of scientists' and inventors' imaginations for many decades." The company expects the electricity generated will cost about the same as wind energy, providing it can resolve issues such as the safety of large sea mammals, that could be at risk of harm if they swim into the slowly rotating blades. "The first (turbines) going in will be very heavily monitored so somehow we will have to keep (animals) out of there," Nielsen says.

Taxpayers 'deserve carbon revenue'

Weekend Australian
Saturday 22/3/2008 Page: 7

EMISSIONS trading will trigger a new round of tax reform as the Rudd Government finds ways of refunding billions of carbon-tax dollars to the economy. The Government's adviser on climate change policy, Ross Garnaut, has signalled major restructuring of the tax system to return up to $20 billion a year in new income from the auctioning of emission permits from 2010. In his latest discussion paper on the reform, Professor Garnaut has flagged six candidates for direct compensation from the permit revenue.

Topping the list are low income households, followed by communities in hard-hit regions such as the Latrobe and Hunter valleys, where coal-fired power provides the economic lifeblood. Significantly, the Garnaut review says compensation cannot be justified, on environmental or economic grounds, for the companies behind Australia's $40 billion coal-tired power industry.

Professor Garnaut wants subsidies for the development of new energy technologies and for energy-intense and trade exposed industries such as aluminum and steel. However, the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network warned yesterday of rocketing electricity prices and blackouts if the review's recommendations are adopted, saying the recommendations reflect a lack of understanding of the domestic energy market and the international regimes.

Professor Garnaut said that, beyond specific sectors, the Government should determine the best way of equitably refunding carbon permit revenue to taxpayers, rather than spend it on new government programs. "There is no good reason why the size of government should become bigger as a result of this reform," Professor Garnaut said.

"I think the attitudes of ordinary Australians are going to be affected by how the revenue from the permits is spent. If a substantial part of the revenue is used in ways to ease the adjustment of the new scheme, then that will affect the acceptability of it." The review has recommended in-principle integration with other trading schemes, full banking and borrowing of permits, the inclusion of offset schemes from forestry, and the creation of four levels of increasingly aggressive cuts to greenhouse gases from 2012, with government shifting to tougher methods as international negotiations develop.

Professor Garnaut told The Weekend Australian he would recommend a comprehensive review at the end of 2011 to iron out any teething problems ahead of embarking on much deeper cuts to emissions after 2012. He warned that the Government's Mandatory Renewable Energy Target would push up the price of electricity and might need to be phased out quickly.

Climate Institute Australia Policy director Erwin Jackson said the potential to reform the tax system from emissions trading created a double dividend for the economy. "The revenues can be used not only to help communities through better public transport and energy efficiency but also through a review of the tax system, ensuring we blunt the cost of emissions trading on ordinary households," he said.