Thursday 17 April 2008

Govt payment for solar power hailed as bright idea

Canberra Times
Thursday 10/4/2008 Page: 5

Canberra has been hailed as the new solar capital of the nation in the wake of proposed laws that would pay residents for producing solar power. But retired graphic designer Bill Gresham is already at the forefront of the movement. Mr Gresham has installed photovoltaic panels on his roof which allow him to generate his own solar electricity amounting to about 1.1 kW.

In the winter he only produces a quarter of the electricity he needs but in summer he breaks even. Mr Gresham said the new legislation would go a long way to promoting the take tip of solar electricity in Canberra. Because the tariff will pay for the gross amount of solar power he produced, Mr Gresham could turn a profit in summer, selling electricity back to the grid.

In winter, when his consumption outweighed his production, he said he would probably slash his power bills. "I probably would not make a profit in the winter but the main thing is it would reduce my payback time from well over 20 years to about 10 years," he said. "It would mean that I would get my money back before I die." The ACT will have the most generous solar feed-in tariff in the country under proposed legislation from Labor MLA Mick Gentleman.

Households which produce solar power will be paid a premium of 3.88 times the market rate for all the electricity they generate. They will be guaranteed payments for 20 years after signing tip to the scheme. In combination with the Federal Government's $8000 rebate on solar panel installation, Mr Gentleman says the scheme should allow Canberrans to recoup their solar power costs within 10 years. The proposed laws are twice as generous as a similar feed-in tariff which will be introduced in South Australia in June.

ACT Conservation Council climate campaigner Genevieve Wauchope said the scheme was the best on offer in Australia because the tariff applied to the gross amount of electricity produced by households - not just the net amount fed into the grid. The solar feed-in bill is likely to pass in the Assembly after Mr Gentleman won support for it in caucus. Mr Gentleman said the Federal Government could learn from the legislation.

"I trust that [Federal Climate Change Minister] Senator Penny Wong will look closely at the model contained in my bill when advocating for a nationalised approach to feed-in tariffs," he said. But for people like Bill Greshain, the bill is relevant for a more personal reason. "My reasoning is that it's a gift for my grandchildren's generation."

Shell warns Europe on emissions permits

Friday 11/4/2008 Page: 20

ROYAL Dutch Shell, the world's second-largest oil company, has threatened to stop investing in Europe if it is forced to pay for emissions permits that have previously been free. Christian Balme, a Shell France director, told the European Parliament that if the EU moved towards a system in which emission quotas were auctioned, it would destroy Shell's profitability in Europe. In January, the European Commission announced proposals aimed at slashing EU emissions of CO7 by 20 per cent of the 1990 levels by the year 2020.

One of the cornerstones of this plan is a proposed reform of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which allocates a fixed quota of emissions permits to heavy industry for free. The EC has proposed that from 2013, oil refineries and airlines, and possibly some other industrial sectors, will have to pay for 20 per cent of their emissions permits, rising to 100 per cent by 2020. Mr Balme argued that if the proposals became law they would have a devastating economic impact on Shell's European operations. These operations include some of the region's biggest oil refineries including Pernis near Rotterdam and its Heide, Godorf and Wesseling plants in Germany.

"It's impossible. "So! There will be no more investments by Shell in Europe," Mr Balme said. "I am talking about $US250 million ($272 million) of profits at the moment. "If we extrapolate the price of CO, by the tonne, we arrive at the same level, which is unacceptable," Mr Balme said. As an alternative, Shell says that it favours "cap and trade" trading systems for big polluters, including power generators and most industrial facilities. A spokeswoman for Shell said on Wednesday that allowances should be free.

"Shell does not favour auctioning allowances in the first phase of a system because the impacts on the industries and firms covered by the system are highly uncertain," she said. The EU's announcement in January was accompanied by warnings that it would be "economic suicide" to punish industry so heavily and risked simply pushing investment and emissions into regions where trading schemes did not exist. A decision on whether other industries should also have to pay for permits has been delayed.

Several big energy companies and utilities are trenchantly opposed to the auction plans and have threatened to withdraw investment from the EU. Member states are trying to reach agreement by the end of this year. A range of other proposals are included in the EU's package of reforms. Among these suggestions are that individual countries set their own national targets for power generation from renewable energy.

Sunshine powers up to flick Ergon's switches

Cairns Post
Thursday 10/4/2008 Page: 11

HERE comes the sun: straight into solar panels on top of Ergon Energy's Lake St headquarters and back onto the grid. The power company says the two kilowatt grid-connected solar power system, installed yesterday, is the first of its kind for a regional electricity distributor. "What happens is if we are producing more than we use, then we export the excess into the grid," Ergon's Gaylene Whenmouth said.

"Otherwise we're consuming the power ourselves." The solar panels generate up to 10 kilowatt hours of electricity a day and Ergon hopes to see more sprout on CBD roof tops. "We want to show people how easy it is to do it," Ms Whenmouth said. "Every kilowatt hour of electricity produced by solar is a kilowatt hour we don't have to produce through coal fired generation and one tonne of carbon dioxide less going into the atmosphere."

You can see carbon saving data from the panels online at

Click the link to Publicly Available Plants and search for the Lake St site by country and postcode.

Water heaters switch

Mount Barker Courier
Wednesday 9/4/2008 Page: 18

Electric water heaters will be phased out in SA under new State Government greenhouse gas emission standards. New greenhouse gas and flow-rate performance standards for residential water heaters will take effect from July 1, to boost the gas, solar and heat-pump markets. The move is in line with the Federal Government's commitment to phase out electric water heaters from 2010.

Residential water heating accounts for about one third of household energy related greenhouse gas emissions in SA and electric water heaters have a higher greenhouse impact than other alternatives such as solar or gas systems. Making the switch could save about 2t of greenhouse gas emissions per household per year. The new standards will apply to new or renovated homes at the time of development approval and for established homes at the time of water heater replacement.

Windows will make their own electricity

Courier Mail
Thursday 10/4/2008 Page: 19

WINDOWS could soon be energy generators while scientists are also trying to turn smokestack emissions into plastics. Queensland University of Technology is working with a Canberra-based company to develop transparent solar cells that act as both windows and energy generators in houses or commercial buildings. John Bell said the solar cell glass would make a significant difference to home and building owners energy costs and could, in fact, generate excess energy that could be stored or sold.

Professor Bell said the glass was one of a variety of practical technologies that would help combat global warming, which was a focus of research at the university's Institute for Sustainable Resources. "The transparent solar cells have a faint reddish hue but are completely see-through," Professor Bell said. "The solar cells contain titanium dioxide coated in a dye that increases light absorption. "The glass captures solar energy which can be used to power the house but can also reduce overheating of the house, reducing the need for cooling." Professor Bell said it would be possible to build houses made entirely of the transparent solar cells.

The glass would be on the market in a few years and QUT was trying to make the product more efficient, he said. Meanwhile, US research has found that the carbon dioxide from smokestack emissions can be used as a raw material for making plastics. The process creates polycarbonates, which can be used to make items like CDs and bottles. The research suggests the process could be up and running within a few years and significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Tuesday 15 April 2008

Glass houses may be stone's throw away

Burnie Advocate
Thursday 10/4/2008 Page: 18

BRISBANE - Australians could soon be living in solar powered glass houses as part of the battle against climate change, a researcher predicts Professor John Bell, from the University of Queensland of Technology's Institute for Sustainable Resources, yesterday said houses made almost entirely of glass solar cells could become a reality within three to five years as home owners looked for new ways to cut carbon emissions.

"They wouldn't quite (use the glass) around the bathroom... but I think people are beginning to look for ways to offset some of the issues of climate change," Professor Bell said. "We'll end up with some really interesting houses as a result." Prof Bell, the institute's program leader for energy,has been working with Canberra-based company Dyesol to develop transparent solar cells that act as both windows and energy generators.

New group supports clean energy in Scone

Scone Advocate
Thursday 3/4/2008 Page: 3

SCAP, or Scone Citizens Against Polluted Energy, are a new group formed with the aim of supporting clean energy in Scone. The group is relatively new and was initiated by former librarian aid researcher Gloria Muir. "We are not against the other groups, nor are we pro Pamada, but there has been a lot of misinformation given about the negative impact of wind turbines and we would like to be a community group that is primarily concerned with conservation and green energy," Mrs Muir said.

Local residents formed the group after concerns were raised in regard to what they called propaganda style distribution of anti wind farm messages. "I have rung every real estate and local council that has a windfarm in its area. I did not call any wind farm companies or government agencies that would have offered a biased opinion. After doing the research I discovered that information being passed around is entirely incorrect," Mrs Muir said.

Mrs Muir said research revealed other groups have been distributing pamphlets which confused, key aspects of wind technology, such as real estate valuation, noise pollution and impacts to both flora and fauna. "I called a real estate agent in Crookwell, NSW and they have no trouble selling properties around the windfarm there," she said.

Real estate agent for The Professionals in Goulburn told The Advocate, he had recently sold a number of properties for what he described as a good price, despite their proximity to the wind farm constructed in 1998. "We recently sold a 320 acre property for over $1.1 million which was within 800 metres of the turbines. There are some people who turn away when they find out a property is near the wind mills, but it doesn't worry most people," he said.

While Crookwell does not have the same number of turbines proposed for the Scone site, research shows the windfarm produces enough energy to power 3,500 homes and has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by up to 8,000 tonnes per year over coal based power. A similar construction does however exist in Ararat Victoria. The $76 million Pacific Hydro Challicum Hills Wind Farm, built 15 kilometres from the township of Ararat, was completed in August 2003, and is comprised of 35 turbines which stand 68 metres high with a rotor diameter of 64 metres.

Real estate manager for Elders Ararat Garry Todd, said there had been no reduction in property value since the construction. "I sold a property in January this year that was right alongside the windfarm and the price was unaffected. Since they've been here prices have not been affected at all, in fact they have actually grown in value. Aesthetically they look alright and make hardly any noise. A lot of what you hear is just crap," he said.

The newly formed Scone group has also voiced their opinion in regard to threats presented by wind turbines to local flora and fauna. "The impact to flora and fauna is far greater from B doubles that come through here, than from a wind farm," said SCAP member Joanne Van Hees. The group believes large vehicles which frequent the Bunnan Road are responsible for more bird deaths than any form of wind technology. "Research has shown that bird deaths are extremely low from wind turbines," Mrs Muir said.

Literature used by Mr Muir and published by the Australia Institute reports; `available evidence indicates that provided wind farms are located in appropriate areas the risks to biodiversity are likely to be small.' However, Hunter Landscape Guardians President Carmelle Lymbery, said the fact the turbines will be so close to a national park is definitely a threat to both flora and fauna.

"The national park is supposed to be there to preserve, not destroy, and one turbine will be on the very edge of the national park. When these towers go up, the two things they said at that meeting was yes the birds will be impacted upon, and yes we'll be impacted upon by the noise," she said. "Also there are the White Box woodlands out the back which are almost extinct within Australia, and a bulldozer has already been through to create a fence between Crown land, the Henderson's property, our place and the Towarri National Park," she said. Mrs Lymbery said although their group was called the Upper Hunter Landscape Guardians, they were a separate entity from the base group in Victoria.

"We had the Landscape Guardians from Victoria, who had been through it all, come to Scone to tell the people what was going on. They came to answer questions we couldn't answer ourselves, but as a group we are only concerned with issues in our own backyard. If you can't protect your own what can you protect? It's like looking after your children," she said. Mrs Lymbery also said any information provided in the Upper Hunter Landscape Guardians' literature came from sources such as National wind watch, ABC news on line, and newspapers. "All I'm out to do is save what we've got for our children and grandchildren. All we want to do is protect the environment, nothing more." she said.

University at the war front

Hills News
Tuesday 8/4/2008 Page: 28

THE University of Western Sydney is practicing what it preaches when it comes to bringing about change to combat global warming. Not only are UWS scientists busy carrying out groundbreaking research into the effects of climate change on the Australian environment, but the university itself is also treading lightly to reduce its Ecological Footprint. UWS is taking a wide-ranging approach to the climate change issue and is introducing many different strategies to minimise the amount of power and water that is used across its campuses.

These strategies include planting more trees to soak up greenhouse gases, recycling ink cartridges and mobile phones, and recycling about 13 tonnes of paper every month. Every tonne of paper that's recycled saves about 13 trees, 2.5 barrels of oil, 4100 kilowatts of energy, 4 cubic metres of landfill and 31,780 litres of water.

Add that up over the year and paper recycling at the university makes a huge difference to the environment, saving approximately 2000 trees a year and making significant carbon savings. UWS is also offsetting its water usage by installing water tanks to collect storm water run-off and recycle 500 mega-litres of water every year. This builds upon water recycling initiatives such as that on the Hawkesbury campus, where approximately 700 mega-litres of recycled water and storm water are used each year.

The university is testing the use of green power - electricity generated from environmentally friendly sources such as solar and wind power - as well as offering staff hybrid fleet cars for travel between UWS campuses. hybrid cars use a mix of electricity and petrol and emit only half the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air that normal cars do. The hybrid vehicle averages only five litres of petrol per 100km and has the best air pollution rating of any vehicle on Australian roads.

Every litre of fuel produces only 2.3 kilograms of CO2, so there's no doubt that the low fuel consumption of this car certainly contributes to a cleaner planet. Thermal insulation is being installed in some buildings, which means that heat is retained in winter and coolness in summer. Energy-efficient air-conditioning is also being investigated. All new buildings are being built to make most of the sun and shade throughout the day to cut heating and cooling costs.

Solar ascendancy could be eclipsed

Australian Financial Review
Wednesday 9/4/2008 Page: 68

About 160 institutions in Germany are doing research on solar technology and generous state subsidies for roof-mounted photo-voltaic systems mean this not particularly sunny nation has one of the highest rates of solar electricity generation in the world. Q-Cells, near Leipzig, became the world's largest maker of photovoltaic cells last year, surpassing Sharp of Japan. Sales are up 60 percent and profits are up 70 percent. Demand for high-grade silicon to make the cells has pushed prices from US$25 a kilogram to US$400 a kilogram over the last 5 years.

Electricity generated from renewable sources in Germany is now over 14 percent, surpassing the European Union's target of 12.5 percent. Some believe that renewable energy equipment could become as important to Germany's economy as machine tools and automobiles. The World Future Council says that Germany's EEG renewable energy law is the best in the world. Dieter Helm of the University of Oxford says that wind generation is more efficient than solar but Kurt Rohrig of solar research institute ISET at the University of Kassel believes wind power will reach saturation within the next three decades whereas solar is potentially limitless. New thin film technology is expected to overtake photovoltaic in the near future.

Monday 14 April 2008

New climate protocol needs long-term plan to reduce emissions

Canberra Times
Tuesday 8/4/2008 Page: 11

Four months ago in Bali, Australia was enthusiastically welcomed as the newest member of the Kyoto club. Having finally ratified the Kyoto Protocol, Australia, along with the rest of the international community, is now focusing its attention on what will happen when the Kyoto Protocol ceases to exist in 2012. The international community is now negotiating the next international climate change protocol and is currently meeting in Bangkok to continuing the work that was begun in Bali last year.

The importance of this new protocol cannot be understated. It is increasingly clear that the primary success of the Kyoto Protocol was in raising public awareness of climate change more so than actually reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Another "success" of this magnitude will have catastrophic consequences for Australia and the rest of the world.

As Professor Ross Garnaut, Sir Nicholas Stern and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have made clear in recent months, dramatic and radical reductions in greenhouse emissions are necessary immediately to minimise (not avoid - it is too late for that) the effects of climate change. But the post-Kyoto "road map" accepted at the Bali negotiations last December will not deliver such reductions. The international community must base the next climate change protocol on the following seven principles.

Firstly, the new binding targets must be based on science rather than political expediency. How many Australians are aware that Australia's Kyoto target actually allowed its to increase our emissions by 8 per cent over 1990 levels? To keep global warming to just 1-2 degrees in the coming decades, global emissions must be reduced in 2050 to just fifteen per cent of 2000 levels. Australia cannot be allowed to negotiate an emissions increase.

Secondly, both poor and wealthy countries must be bound by these new targets. Certain developing countries, such as China and India, are amongst the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases. The global targets can only be achieved if all countries reduce their emissions. It does not matter how much Australia cuts its emissions if China and India do not cut theirs.

Thirdly, requiring developing countries to reduce their emissions will have consequences for the poor of those countries. After all, economic growth is necessary to improve the lives of the poor, and so investing in technology that delivers economic growth without increasing greenhouse emissions is necessary. Wealthy countries must support emission reductions in poorer countries by technology transfer.

Fourthly, it is important to recognise that different countries have specific circumstances that largely determine their emissions in the short term. Therefore, the next international climate change protocol must be sufficiently longterm in its outlook - probably to 2050 - that new investments can be trade over the life-cycle of existing infrastructure. Having said that, global emissions trust peak no later than 2015.

Fifthly, some countries have the advantage of certain natural resources that also can reduce global emission levels. The majority of these carbon sinks exist in developing countries and these countries trust be encouraged and supported in both protecting and expanding these sinks. If a country can increase its carbon sink, this must supplement its overall emission rights.

Sixthly, the current focus on emissions from production must be replaced by a focus on emission consumption. Even though global production and consumption levels are necessarily equal, the focus on consumption of emissions is an important issue when allocating the rights to emit.

Finally, the market is a powerful tool in allocating scarce resources. Emission rights in the future will become increasingly scarce and so market-based or market-conforming instruments must be used to support the ultimate goal of global emission reductions. These seven principles are a radical departure from the Kyoto framework. If followed, they will support the reduction of emissions that is now necessary.

The international community must also determine how to best allocate the rights to emit greenhouse gases. Under the Kyoto Protocol, future emission targets were based on past emissions. This approach is incompatible with the six principles outlined above. The only ethical manner in which future emissions can be allocated is on a per capita basis. Certainly, I have no greater right than someone living in Thailand, Nigeria or Peru to emit greenhouse gases simply because I emitted more in the past.

Of course, the consequence for high per capita emission countries, such as Australia, will be more stringent reductions in emissions. However, there is no other ethical way in which to allocate such scarce resources. Indeed, such a per capita allocation may facilitate technology transfer as countries such as Australia trade emission rights with poor countries not "consuming" their fall allowance of emissions.

A change in the current post-Kyoto road map to an emissions per capita allocation based on the seven principles outlined above is urgently needed. Such a change will be dramatic, but not as dramatic as the climate change we will experience if this does not occur.

Dr Matthew Clarke teaches at Deakin University and has a book on the next climate change protocol out later this year.

Scientist "turns up the heat with new alert on warming

Tuesday 8/4/2008 Page: 10

A LEADING climate scientist says the European Union and international partners must urgently rethink targets for cutting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of fears they have grossly, underestimated the scale of the problem. Dr James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, calls for a sharp reduction in carbon dioxide limits.

Dr Hansen said the EU target of 550 parts per million of carbon dioxide the most stringent in the world - should be slashed to 350 ppm. He said the cut was, if "humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilisation developed." A final version of the paper Dr Hansen co-wrote with eight other climate scientists has been posted on the Archive website.

Instead of using theoretical models to estimate the sensitivity of the climate, the team used evidence from Earth's history, which they contend gives a much more accurate picture. They studied cores taken from the bottom of the ocean, which indicate carbon dioxide levels millions of years ago. They show that when the world began to glaciate at the start of the ice age around 35 million years ago, the concentration of carbon dioxide was about 450 ppm.

"If you leave us at 450 ppm for long enough, it will probably melt all the ice - that's a sea rise of 75 metres," Dr Hansen said. "What we have found "is that the target we have all been aiming for is a disaster a guaranteed disaster." At levels as high as 550 ppm the world would warm by 6 degrees, the scientists' paper said. Previous estimates had suggested warming would be just 3 degrees at that point.

Dr Hansen has long been a controversial figure in climate change science. He was one of the first to bring the crisis to the world attention in testimony to the US Congress in the 1980s. His relationship with the Bush Administration has been frosty. In 2005, he accused the White House and NASA administrators of trying to censor him.

He has steadily revised his analysis of the scale of the global warming problem and was one of the architects of a 450 ppm target. But he said: "I realise that was too high." The revised target is likely to prompt criticism that he is setting the bar unrealistically high. Dr Hansen said he now regarded as implausible the view of many climate scientists that the shrinking of the ice sheets will take thousands of years.

If we follow business as usual, I can't see how west Antarctica could survive a century," he said. "We are talking about a sea-level rise of at least a couple of metres this century." Dr Hansen said his findings were not a recipe for despair. The good news, he said, was that reserves of fossil fuels. had been greatly exaggerated, so an alternative source of energy would have to be put in place rapidly in any case.

He proposed a range of measures. A moratorium on coal power stations would bring carbon dioxide levels to below 400 ppm. Reforestation coupled with innovative agricultural methods such as the use of Biochar, a form of biomass charcoal that can store carbon in the soil, could then get closer to his new 350 ppm target.

Dr Hansen's new position will pile more pressure on the British Government over plans to build a new generation of coal power stations. Last year he wrote to Prime Minister Gordon Brown urging him to block the first such power station. The London-based Royal Society made similar protestations to Britain's Business Secretary, John Hutton, last week.

Wind foes in spin

Macedon Ranges Leader
Tuesday 8/4/2008 Page: 3

SIDONIA Hills is one step closer to wind energy after the State Government planning department rejected an Environmental Effects Statement on a 34-turbine wind farm. Tasmanian group Roaring 40s lodged an EES referral to the planning department in January this year for a 3700ha farm that could supply the Kyneton area with clean electricity for 25 years. Roaring 40s spokesman Josh Bradshaw said the group was notified last week, and would now lodge an Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act referral.

"This is to confirm the project does not present any federal issue and then Roaring 40s will engage the detailed technical and environment studies," he said. "This will form part of the planning application to be lodged mid this year to the Victorian Minister for Planning." Landscape Guardians president Bruce McGregor said he was "not surprised." "We're not happy. We will fight against wind farms tooth and nail," he said. The guardians planned to meet opposition planning spokesmen Matthew Guy to raise concerns.

Macedon Ranges Residents Association secretary Christine Pruneau said the area's significance had been ignored. "The chances of an EES being required here were slim anyway, but given the sensitivity of the area, you would think it would be more important," she said.

But south ward councillor John Letchford said he supported wind power. "Wind and solar energy are the best renewable forms we have, but solar panels are still expensive to make," he said. "Until we come up with a hydrogen-powered solution in a non-intrusive area, this is the best way to go." A newsletter was sent to neighbouring residents last month outlining the group's plans. Copies are available at the Macedon Ranges Shire Council offices.

Turbines code call

Moorabool Leader
Tuesday 8/4/2008 Page: 3

Moorabool Council will write to the Federal Government supporting a national wind-farm code. The decision came after WestWind Energy submitted a planning application for 40 wind turbines at Yendon and 24 at Elaine. The letter, to Environment Minister Peter Garrett, will aim to prevent wind farms being "constructed against the wishes of the community." The council could have little influence over approval for the Yendon/Elaine wind farm.

The application has gone directly to Planning Minister Justin Madden because its capacity would exceed 30 megawatts. Mr Madden will now decide whether to refer the decision to an independent panel, which would determine the fate of the application. A second planning application - for off site roadworks - is likely to be "called-in" by the minister to an independent panel. Mayor Di McAuliffe said the council would seek the community's views in its final submission.

"The major difficultly with applications such as this is that when the community, and particularly the community of interest, is distinctly divided, we need to ensure the studies and reports are up to date and have all of the information required," she said. WestWind community liaison manager Angela Sutcliffe said the company had originally planned 79 turbines but compromised on 64.

"The reduction in number and/or the relocation of turbines can be attributed to a number of key factors including the concerns of host landholders and neighboring landholders, as well as the results of specialist studies, for example, in relation to Aboriginal heritage and flora and fauna," she said.

Ballarat East state Labor MP Geoff Howard, who lives less than 3km from a wind farm near Waubra, backed an independent panel to provide the best outcome.

Push for hot rock funding

Adelaide Advertiser
Tuesday 8/4/2008 Page: 37

Geothermal energy should get a 10 per cent share of the Federal Government's $500 million renewable energy fund to help drive its development, an industry body says. In its submission to the Garnaut Climate Change Review, the Australian geothermal Energy Group said a $50 million share of the renewable energy fund would help the industry through its "proof-of-concept" stage. The AGEG is forecasting a 171 per cent increase in geothermal industry field spending this year to $89 million.

But the submission argued that government assistance was needed while the industry proves its viability. "Policies that underpin the learn-while-doing phases of hot rock resource delineation, demonstration, development and deployment have been, and will remain, particularly influential in attracting multiples of private funds into the pre-competitive phase of developing Australia's geothermal resources," the submission said.

Hot rock geothermal energy is produced, in theory, by drilling wells up to 5km into the earth's crust, pumping water down and harnessing steam which returns to the surface. As at the start of this month, 33 companies were exploring for geothermal energy resources on licence areas covering 219,000 sq km across Australia, the AGEG said. Geodynamics is the most advanced of these companies and is currently testing the flow rates between its wells in the Cooper Basin.

The AGEG argued its industry could provide up to 10 per cent of baseload power by 2050, but would need government help go achieve this. The AGEG would also like an Australian geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence set up, with $20 million of federal funding over 10 years. The Garnaut Review's final report on the impact of climate change on the Australian economy is due on September 30, with a draft by June 30.

Climate funds boost

Geelong Advertiser
Saturday 5/4/2008 Page: 18

THE Victorian Government will boost funding to sustainable energy projects and sign a memorandum of understanding with the US based Clinton Climate Initiative, under measures announced by Premier John Brumby yesterday. Speaking at a climate change summit in Melbourne, Mr Brumby said a new $72 million fund would "breathe new life" into large-scale renewable energy projects across the state, such as solar energy, wave power, geothermal and biomass conversion.

The money forms the next stage of the Energy Technology Innovation Strategy (ETIS) grants. The Clinton Climate Initiative was run by former US president Bill Clinton's William J. Clinton Foundation, Mr Brumby said. Victoria will use the foundation's purchasing consortium to deliver items such as hybrid buses, use new financing models to accelerate the transition to low energy street lighting and procure alternative waste treatment technologies.

Victoria is heavily reliant on brown coal but Mr Brumby denied the state was addicted to it. "Our challenge now is to make it a fuel of the future. Some people say you can never do that with coal, I don't believe that," he said. Mr Brumby said turning coal into gas and synthetic diesel, while capturing the carbon underground in natural gas wells would provide a carbon-neutral solution.

In a keynote address to the summit, the Federal Government's top climate change adviser Professor Ross Garnaut said commercial success of Carbon Capture and Storage would be the key to the future of the coal sector. "The very low cost of mining Victorian coal will give Victoria advantages, if we can get commercial Carbon Capture and Storage working well," he said. Mr Brumby also promised Parliament House would spend an extra $90,000 a year to pay for green power to supply the building. Victoria has set a target to reduce greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

Renewables get a second wind from Labor

Monday 7/4/2008 Page: 31

THE Rudd Government's embrace of renewable energy is expected to usher in a second wave of investment in wind power, despite a two-year waiting list for turbines. Paul Curnow, a partner at law firm Baker & McKenzie, said the outlook was "very good", with investors who had been lying in wait since 2004 now ready to "bring all that potential to market." The Government's national scheme will include a legislated target of 45,000 gigawatt hours of renewables-based electricity in
2020. This will ensure 20 per cent of Australia's electricity supply will be obtained from renewables by 2020.

The Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 currently requires the generation of 9500 gigawatt hours of extra renewable electricity per year by 2010 enough power to meet the residential electricity needs of 4 million people. There are about 40 wind farms in Australia, and at a clean energy conference in Sydney later this month, delegates will be told by AGL Energy Ltd carbon and government affairs national manager Tim Nelson that this could turn into 250 over the next decade. Mr Curnow expects the number to jump when the commonwealth and the states flesh out details relating to the target later this year.

He noted that when the Howard government introduced its Mandatory Renewable Energy Target in 2001, there was a burst of investment which dried up when it was clear the government was not going to extend the scheme. "All the wind farms you see in Australia came out of that," Mr Curnow said. He said the industry stalled after 2004 at a time when investors were still buying land and gaining approval for farms. Those who could ride out this period, such as infrastructure powerhouse Babcock and Brown, extended their portfolios and are now set to reap the dividends.

Many of the sites have been optioned or acquired and the relevant permission obtained but work has yet to start, because the developers want to make sure the economics of the farms stack up once the emissions trading regime is set up. They will quickly bring all that potential to market," said Mr Curnow. "I would expect some significant sales in the next five years as well as actual construction." However, the availability of turbines looms as a potential brake on growth. "The thing about wind is that it's ready to go and it's proven," Mr Curnow said. "You don't need a higher price to make it viable, so I think the wind sector will be able to get in there quickly and snap up most of the target.

The only restraint on wind, which is a big problem, is that you have a two-year waiting list to get a turbine at the moment. That's how tight the market is." He said German and Danish manufacturers had been interested in coming to Australia before 2004 but changed their minds because of concern about the problems of achieving the economies of scale in manufacturing that had been possible in Europe, where offshore farms of more than 100 turbines were becoming common.

"They haven't come back and probably won't, so we are going to have to rely on getting turbines from overseas." Mr Curnow said he expected the preferred model for bigger investors would be to establish the potential of the business before selling and perhaps retaining an equity share. He said geothermal energy was about "five years away before it gets to commercial grade" and that it was more likely to be useful in meeting future targets.