Thursday 24 April 2008

Volvo to plug market gap

Ballarat Courier
Friday 18/4/2008 Page: 36

Volvo is launching a broad based joint research venture to spearhead the development of plug-in hybrid cars. Working in conjunction with Swedish electricity provider Vattenfall, Saab Automobile, the ElectroTechnological Centre and the Swedish Government, the project aims to develop and demonstrate the next generation of hybrid cars. A fleet of 10 plug-in hybrids that can be recharged directly from a mains power point will be produced and field tests will be conducted in Sweden.

Volvo boss Fredrik Arp sees the project as a positive further development of sustainable personal transport. "We have a unique opportunity to take the lead when it conies to innovations for advanced greencar technology," he said. "We want to be involved in setting up the rules for the future and to help build up broad based competence in Sweden in this vital area," Arp added. Over a five year period, Volvo will invest more than $A2 billion in development aimed at reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

In Europe, Volvo already offers its customers one of the industry's widest ranges of Flexi-fuel engines and the company is also working to continue enhancing the efficiency of its petrol and diesel-powered cars and looking at hybrid technology. This year, the Swedish brand will launch vehicles that emit less than 120grams of CO2/km and in the medium term, petrol/electric hybrid variants will be launched. In the longer terns, plug-in hybrids will be introduced that are along the technical lines of the Volvo C30 ReCharge Concept that was revealed last year. Used in the most effective way, this concept car's carbon dioxide emissions are about 65 per cent lower than today's production hybrid cars. Volvo says that if the electricity conies from CO2 sustainable sources such as hydro-electric power and wind generated power, this figure improves still further.

Newhaven-construction for tidal trials

Phillip Island & San Remo Advertiser
Wednesday 9/4/2008 Page: 15

Construction is underway near the Newhaven Jetty as Atlantis Resources Corporation Operations (ARC Operations) prepare to conduct a new benchmarking trial of its tidal energy technology. It follows a previous trial of the technology at the same site in 2006 and 2007, Company spokesman, Cameron Hamilton, said the new trials required larger infrastructure to accommodate a bigger turbine unit,

"After the last trials we looked at the successes and improved the technology said Mr. Hamilton,"The new turbine will be used in the new round of testing," A platform, to be located off the wharf, will hold part of the turbine,"Construction started last week; we have finished most of the noisy aspects." "The installation will continue for the next few weeks." The tidal trials are expected to continue for an extended period of time,"We are looking at a longer period than the last trial; we want to make sure that the technology works consistently and accurately," said Mr. Hamilton,

"We hope to gather all the information by the end of the year," Mr Cameron said the previous tidal trial was judged a success,"We learnt from the last trial, we've improved the technology, now we are looking for testing in a real life environment," The company will be testing the generation of electricity as tidal movements flow through the underwater turbine, Newhaven is considered an ideal site to test the technology because of its higher than average tidal flows. Once the trial is up and running, the project is not expected to affect public access to the Jetty or have any adverse affect on the local natural environment,

The trial site, adjacent to the Newhaven Wharf, has been chosen to maximise public safety and mitigate risk to waterway users and water craft in the immediate area, The trial has been approved by relevant Victorian Government agencies, the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and Parks Victoria, as well as the Bass Coast Shire Council, The company will be working in close consultation with these groups throughout the trial to ensure maximum public safety and protection of the local natural environment. Approvals have been granted for five years.

They will pay commercial rental to DSE for use of the site during the trial to help fund ongoing management of the coast, ARC Operations completed a water quality monitoring program during the previous trial and found the technology to have no detectable impact on the parameters measured, Ongoing environmental monitoring will be a key feature of the new trial, Atlantis Chief Executive Tim Cornelius said the company has returned to Newhaven for the next phase of the project.

"In our earlier trial we received enormous cooperation from the Newhaven and San Remo community, who showed a great deal of Interest and support for the project,"' "We are looking forward to our partnership with the community continuing," said Mr Cornelius. He apologised for any inconvenience caused during the installation,"Once Installation is complete, we envisage the trial will proceed without causing Interruption to the day to day activities in the bay."

"ARC Operations has worked with the relevant government agencies and stakeholder groups to minimise 'disruption to the community and watercraft users during the trial." "Being in the renewable energy development business, the protection of the natural environment is paramount for us." "We have the strongest environmental protections in place and all the components of the technology are environmentally sound," "In our previous trial and preliminary testing for the new trial, we have not detected any impact of the technology on the natural environment and we will have environmental monitoring in place to ensure that continues to be the case."

Development extension for Vincent North Wind Farm

Yorke Peninsula Country Times - Kadina
Tuesday 15/4/2008 Page: 7

As Pacific Hydro considers its options in regard to the development of the Vincent North Wind Farm, District Council of Yorke Peninsula has granted the company a further two-year extension to the development authorisation originally approved in October 2003. Currently, the 132kV line serving Yorke Peninsula is at capacity and, until the capacity constraints are resolved and the electricity transmission infrastructure upgraded, this project and others like it are likely to remain on hold.

"While Pacific Hydro remains committed to the project, currently the company's resources are focused on their Clements Gap Wind Farm, with construction to begin shortly," Communications Manager Emily Wood said. Clements Gap will be the first wind farm to begin construction as a result of the Federal Government's commitment to increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) in Australia by 20% by 2020, and will be Pacific Hydro's first wind farm in South Australia.

Located in the Barunga Ranges, Clements Gap Wind Farm will have 27 turbines; while the generators will be supplied by Indian company Suzlon Energy, all other components have been sourced from South Australian suppliers. "We are excited about this project, which has had strong support from the local community," Ms Wood said.

Clean coal alliance seeks govt help to fast track CCS

AAP Newswire
Wednesday 16/4/2008

CANBERRA, April 16 AAP - An alliance of environmentalists and the coal industry has called for urgent government intervention to make Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) a commercial reality. The grouping wants the federal government to set a 2020 target for power produced using the low-emission technology and find ways to publicly and privately fund its development. It's proposing that a national task force oversee the work in order to bring commercial power plants using CCS on line a decade earlier than expected.

The alliance comprises WWF Australia, the Climate Institute Australia, the Australian Coal Association (ACA) and mining union the CFMEU. The proposals have come under fire from other green groups, who argue taxpayer funds should not be be used on behalf of polluters to fast track an unproven technology. CCS involves capturing CO2 emissions produced by fossil fuel-fired power plants and injecting them into geological cavities or saline aquifers for long-term storage. Key objectives proposed for the task force include setting up a national regime governing carbon storage by September, identifying storage sites, and planning pipelines and other infrastructure.

Suggested funding includes using revenue from emissions trading permits, tax incentives and accelerated depreciation, expanding public/private partnerships and feed-in tariffs. The alliance is also calling for the government to take on liabilities for demonstration projects and conduct an education campaign about CCS. "Ultimately, commercial deployment for low-emission coal technology, just as for geothermal or solar, will require a big investment by the government," ACA chief executive Ralph Hillman told reporters in Canberra.

The alliance's plan is aimed at achieving a target of 10,000 gigawatt/hour - the equivalent of energy produced by three power stations - from plants using CCS by 2020. "We have around about a 90 per cent chance of beating the challenge of climate change," WWF Australia chief executive Greg Bourne said. "If CCS dropped out it drops down to about a 30 per cent chance." National Generators Forum executive director John Boshier supported the alliance, saying that without additional funding, deployment of CCS would come too late.

Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson welcomed the groups' ideas along with those of other stakeholders, but was non-committal about whether any would be adopted. "We're coming up to budget time when all of those things will be laid on the table, so I'm sure that within the next little while the minister will have some more to say on (CCS)," a spokeswoman for Mr Ferguson said. The government has already committed $500 million to a clean coal initiative. Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett said CCS must be explored as one of the options in a strategy to cut emissions.

"There's no doubt that clean coal is a part of it and an expensive part of it. It's a part that's going to require a significant investment," Mr Garrett told ABC Radio. The Australian Greens said the alliance's proposals would undermine the coming Emissions Trading Scheme by contradicting its polluter-pays principle. "Calling for the government to take control of finding carbon dumping sites and carrying liability for leaks, let alone asking for tax incentives and accelerated depreciation for Australia's biggest and richest polluters, is simply untenable," climate change spokeswoman Christine Milne said.

Wind farm green light

Warrnambool Standard
Thursday 17/4/2008 Page: 1

LANDHOLDERS and councillors were left blowing in the wind yesterday after a controversial wind farm was approved but key recommendations not released. Planning Minister Justin Madden yesterday announced the approval of the $85 million Woolsthorpe Wind Farm despite widespread community objections. Mr Madden accepted the recommendations of an independent panel that assessed the application by Wind Farm Developments. The 40-megawatt project would produce enough green energy for 23,000 homes.

Preliminary work on the 20 turbine project, three kilometres west of Hawkesdale, may start within months. Early last year residents objected to the proximity of 135-metre-high turbines to their boundaries, overcrowding on the 750-hectare site and shadow flicker hazards for motorists on the Woolsthorpe-Heywood Road. Landholders and councillors had yesterday not been officially notified of the project's formal go-ahead.

Moyne Shire Mayor Ken Gale said councillors voted against the proposal last April due to a lack of buffer zones between it and neighbouring properties "but I would expect that the State Government would have taken that into consideration." Adjoining landholder Michael Bell said he was not against wind farms but was opposed to the way the project had been implemented. After yesterday's news he was more accepting.

"What more can you do?" he asked. "I'm a bit surprised we haven't been notified about it or anything." "We're very happy with the news that the project's been approved," project manager Laura Bassed said. She said high demand for turbines on the world market could delay construction for up to 18 months. The company hoped to employ "significant" numbers of local staff during the construction phase which would last between six and nine months once the turbines had arrived.

Mr Madden said the project was part of the Brumby Government's effort to meet its renewable energy target of at least 10 per cent by 2016. "The Brumby Government is committed to supporting renewable energy facilities in the right location in order to achieve a more sustainable future for Victoria." Australian company Wind Farm Developments began testing on the Woolsthorpe site in July 2002. It is awaiting approval on a 21-turbine farm at Naroghid, near Cobden, and a 15-turbine project at Drysdale, near Purnim.

Wind turbines to supply power to Antarctic bases

Radio New Zealand
20 Apr 2008

Wind power engineers are preparing for the challenging task of building a mini windfarm in Antarctica. Three turbines are to be put up in polar conditions to supply electricity to New Zealand's Scott Base and America's McMurdo Station. The joint Antarctica New Zealand and Meridian Energy project is due to get underway in November, with power starting to flow in early 2010. Meridian Energy says wind on the continent is reliable, and can reach speeds of up to 237 kilometres per hour. The wind power is predicted to reduce the fuel consumption on Ross Island by 11%, or 463,000 litres. Special turbines, which will have to cope with temperatures ranging from minus 40°C to 3°C, are being made in Germany and will be shipped to Antarctica. Plans for the wind farm started in 2005.

City looks at wave power motion

Albany Advertiser
Tuesday 15/4/2008 Page: 3

WAVE energy for Albany will be one step closer to reality if a feasibility study is given the nod by the Albany City Council tonight. And as an added bonus, desalinated water produced as a by-product of the technology could supply much-needed water to the region. Carnegie Corporation, the proponents of the CETO wave energy feasibility study, has sought the support of Council to conduct exclusive research into a site at Sand Patch in Albany.

CETO technology, named after a Greek ocean goddess, uses submerged buoys attached to seabed pump units to generate desalinated water and drive hydroelectricity turbines. Wave energy is a zero emission source of power, and can produce dramatically higher amounts of energy than wind turbines. The Council will vote on whether to provide Carnegie Corporation with a three-year exclusivity option at a fee of $1 a year. At the Council agenda briefing held last Tuesday, chief executive Andrew Hammond said the $1 fee would act as an incentive to bring the company to the region.

"On the issue of the option, they won't actually be using the land, but they need the land to be able to do some feasibility studies," Mr Hammond said. "This recommendation is because of the opportunities the project provides for Albany and as a gesture to say we welcome you (Carnegie) in good faith, and we want you to come to Albany," he said.

"The valuation of the option is not the valuation of the land, but my view is that because we aren't going to be providing any service, and the company will be spending a significant amount of money to develop the site, the $1 option is appropriate." At the end of the three-year lease, Carnegie Corporation would have the option to lease the land for a 20- year period through a commercial lease rental. Carnegie Corporation did not wish to comment on the project.

Mixed response to windfarm proposal

Western Advocate
Wednesday 16/4/2008 Page: 5

LESS than half of those who attended a public forum on Monday night to discuss the idea of a community windfarm came out in favour of the proposal. Seventy people attended the forum organised by the Bathurst Community Climate Action Network at the Bathurst RSL Club. Facilitator Chris Siegert said a survey of participants showed 28 favoured the community windfarm concept, 29 wished to be kept informed of progress and 15 were interested in participating in a working group to establish the windfarm.

Nine landowners said they would like a windfarm feasibility study to be conducted on their property. The public forum focused on the future of the electricity industry, particularly challenges in the face of climate change. Hugh Outhred, of the University of New South Wales Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets said oil prices were currently sitting at around $US110 per barrel, but this is expected to increase to $US200- $US250 per barrel within five years.

"As the price of oil goes up natural gas and coal prices will also rise," he said. "This means wind energy is looking more and more attractive." Mr Outhred said burning fossil fuels was the major contributor to climate change and added that we need to be more frugal with our energy in much the way people are becoming more careful in their use of water. Mr Outhred said wind energy was one of the fastest growing electricity generation technologies in the world.

"Windfarms can be an important part of responding to climate change," he said. "However, it will never be the full story but part of the process of getting the job done." Hugh Litchfield of the Hampton Wind Park and Gavin Douglas of the Black Springs project spoke about the challenges they had faced in developing their windfarms.

Both stressed the need to involve the community and keep the lines of communication open. Charles Sturt University lecturer Stuart McGill said he became involved with the project because he wanted to see how a community could make a windfarm happen. He pointed out Australia has the highest per capita emissions in the world. "On average each Australian produces 27 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year with 47 per cent coming from power stations," Mr McGill said. "In Denmark, 22 per cent of electricity comes from wind. In Australia it is one per cent." Mr McGill said six turbines can supply 7500 houses with power.

Each two megawatt turbine would cost $5 million. Turbines must be erected at least 300m apart, which means 400 hectares of land would be necessary to hold six turbines. The project would take at least three years. Over the next month all forum participants will be invited to a planning meeting with the aim of forming a working committee.

Wednesday 23 April 2008

Islands to get surge of wave power

Launceston Examiner
Tuesday 15/4/2008 Page: 3

A SHARK'S swimming motion has been harnessed for wave and tide power generators bound for Tasmania's islands. Australian Maritime College towing tank researchers at Newnham are finishing tests on the prototypes before final designs are decided this year. BioPower Systems chief executive Timothy Finnigan said yesterday the units could eventually replace diesel generators on Flinders Island and King island.

Dr Finnigan said the AMC towing tank was vital to development work of the NSW-based company because it accurately reproduced sea conditions for the islands. He said a wave-powered generator would be installed underwater at King and Flinders would get a tidal power system, in cooperation with Hydro Tasmania. Dr Finnigan said the company observed marine animals and plants for design clues and the tide generator copied a swimming shark.

A fin, like a shark fin, moved in the water to produce a swimming motion, which drove a turbine to produce power. He said the prototypes would be installed next year and commercial units should be ready in 2010, a $10.3 million project. Dr Finnigan said the generators would be cheaper than diesel and comparable to wind power and invisible from the sea surface. The test models are about a 20th the size of the 25m wave prototype and the 20m-long tide prototype to be installed off the islands.

Japan hot with anticipation after extracting Arctic `sorbet' of natural gas

Tuesday 15/4/2008 Page: 9

JAPAN is celebrating a groundbreaking science experiment in the Arctic permafrost that could eventually reshape the country's fragile economy and Tokyo's relationships with the outside world. For an unprecedented six straight days, a state-backed drilling company has managed to extract industrial quantities of natural gas from underground sources of methane hydrate a form of gas-rich ice once thought to exist only on the moons of Saturn.

In fact, the seabeds around the Japanese coast turn out to conceal massive deposits of the elusive sorbet-like compound in their depths, and a country that has long assumed it had virtually no fossil fuels could be sitting on energy reserves containing 100 years of fuel. Critically for Japan, which imports 99.7 per cent of the oil, gas and coal needed to run its vast economy, the lumps of energy filled ice offer the tantalising promise of a little energy independence.

Environmentalists, though, are horrified by the idea of releasing huge quantities of methane from under the seabeds. Although methane is a cleaner burning fossil fuel than coal or oil, the as yet untapped methane hydrates represent "captured" greenhouse gases that some believe should remain locked under the sea. The mining of methane ice could also wreak havoc on marine ecosystems. Japan is growing ever-more desperate to secure its energy, as once-reliable suppliers such as Indonesia and Australia have begun either to cut back exports of natural gas and coal or charge crippling prices.

Its direct interests in vital global energy projects, such as oil drilling in Sakhalin and Iran, have also been whittled away by pofitics and diplomatic rivalries. The potential of methane hydrates as a source of natural gas has been known scientifically for some time, though how much is lurking off the Japanese coast has been confirmed only in the past couple of years. Methane hydrates are believed to collect along geological fault lines, and Japan sits atop a nexus of three of the world's largest.

Last year, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry declared that there were more than 1.1 trillion cubic metres of <methane hydrates off the eastern coast equivalent to 14 years of natural gas use by Japan at current rates. Academic studies suggest total Japanese deposits of 7.4 trillion cubic metres. Realising how valuable the technology of unlocking the methane hydrates could be, Japan has invested frenziedly in the science of exploiting them. The Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (Jogmec) has been experimenting for more than a year with the methane hydrate reserves under the tundra of northwestern Canada.

Its six-day continuous extraction of methane from a deposit more than a kilometre below the earth's surface has been hailed as the breakthrough Japan had been waiting for. Undersea experiments in Japanese waters are to begin early next year. Commercial production would begin within the decade, a Jogmec spokesman said.

The Japanese Government is so excited at the prospect of even modest relief from its energy problems that it has drawn up a basic policy for ocean-related extractions. It may also licence the technology to allow China, South Korea and other nations thought to have large methane ice deposits off their coasts to unleash the potential of the flammable sorbet.

Experts look to the future

Ballarat Courier
Monday 14/4/2008 Page: 1

Ballarat needs to work hard to combat a changing climate which will bring lower rainfall and higher temperatures to the region. New water sources trust be found, forests maintained and all residents need to do their bit. That's the view of a panel of experts who addressed more than 500 participants at Saturday's Ballarat Regional Forum on Climate Change. The forum, hosted by Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions, addressed strategies to combat the effects of climate change on land, water and the atmosphere.

BREAZE president Nick Lanyon said the forum aimed to improve knowledge, provide a platform for questions and establish and promote positive ideas for change. Mr Lanyon said the future depended on the choices made by individuals, families, businesses and government. Ballarat MHR Catherine King opened the forum, commenting on the severe water shortages and the opportunity for Ballarat to be at the forefront of developing new strategies and products to help reduce emissions.

The impact of climate change will have the economic disturbance of the two world wars and the depression combined," she said. We have to combat climate change here, so we can be a voice for this global challenge." Four nationally renowned speakers discussed the different facets of climate change and provided positive strategies for moving forward. Mr Lanyon said BREAZE was exuberant over the response from the community and the questions asked after each speech and in the panel discussion at the end.

"There is such a critical growing interest and awareness about broader sustainability issues," he said. We were thrilled with the level of intelligence. "There were no negative questions, all were positively framed and forward looking." My Lanyon also said he was aware that there would be a carbon cost to holding the forum.

When we had this idea we knew there were going to be hundreds of people arrive, not necessarily on bicycles, and we would be creating emissions as a result of trying to reduce them," he said. We calculated the overall footprint of the event was 1.7 tonnes of CO2 just from people arriving. To offset this we raffled a solar hot water system and the emissions savings from the system will well and truly offset the emissions created by people travelling to the event."

Steep rise in power station 40 40 gas emissions

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 14/4/2008 Page: 3

THE state's greenhouse gas emissions from power stations have leapt sharply in the past three months, putting the lemma Government under further pressure to improve its environmental performance. The rising emission figures come as a report found the majority of Australians want to cut greenhouse gas emissions by using renewable energy, cutting their use of electricity through energy efficiency and spending more on public transport. NSW power stations and vehicles pumped out more than 24 million tonnes of greenhouse gas in the first quarter of this year, 8 per cent higher than during the same period last year, says a report produced by the Climate Group.

Coal-fired power stations, which the Government is moving to privatise, are the biggest greenhouse polluters in the energy sector, accounting for 61 per cent of emissions from energy generation.. "It's pretty clear that we can't have any more coal-fired power stations, and in fact we need to be closing down the ones we have," said Rupert Posner, the Australian director of the Climate Group. "The message from these figures is that emissions are still going up, when they really need to be going down." The emissions rise was partly due to a warm summer in the Snowy Mountains leading to less melting snow and less hydro power, Mr Posner said. NSW also generated more power locally because less was available from Victoria.

Vehicle emissions stayed roughly the same as in the first quarter of last year, at about 9.5 million tonnes, despite increases in petrol prices. The Climate Institute Australia will today release a poll showing 74 per cent believe that any new electricity generation should come from clean energy and want Australia to become a world leader in renewable energy. Eighty-nine per cent want the Government to subsidise solar panels for 1 million homes to help generate solar power, the Climate of the Nation report says.

The figures will provide a boost to the Clean Energy Conference, which opens today in Sydney, but it flags problems for the coal industry. The report found more than 60 per cent want to cut subsidies that encourage fossil fuel industries such as coal, gas and oil, while 45 per cent want to reduce the size of the coal industry. The figures, based on research from Auspoll, will be viewed with some alarm by some in the coal industry, which is ramping up its lobbying campaign to win government investment in clean coal technology.

While the report finds 50 per cent support investing in clean coal, it is unclear whether they will support government putting up the money. Overall, concern about climate change remains high, with nine out of 10 saying they are "concerned" about the issue and almost half saying they are "very" concerned or "extremely" concerned. "In the aftermath of the world's first `climate change' election, public concern and hunger for action remains high," said the head of the Climate Institute Australia, John Connor. Despite the ratification of Kyoto by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, eight out of 10 say more needs to be done.

Co-generation helps clear up the camphors

Daily News
Monday 14/4/2008 Page: 6

A TRIAL to harvest and chip 500 tonnes of the notorious weed camphor laurel for use as fuel at Condong and Broadwater (south of Ballina) sugar mill co-generation electricity plants has been a success. NSW Sugar CEO Greg Messiter praised the experiment for the renewable energy (electricity) it produces, while helping rid the area of the weed at the same time. "Camphor laurel is all over the Tweed valley, we can use it as a fuel because it has been accredited by the Australian Greenhouse Office as a renewable fuel," Mr Messiter said.

The NSW North Coast has been described as having the largest and worst invasion of camphor laurel in Australia. "The results were very pleasing because of the speed and ease in the way the material was chipped," Mr Messiter said. The chipped material has been stored adjacent the Condong mill at a fuel stockpile on the western side of Tweed Valley Way at Condong. More than 80 landholders and 20 contractors have expressed interest in providing camphor laurel to the Condong plant, which will generate 30 megawatts of renewable energy.

A demand for 30,000 to 40,000 tonnes of camphor laurel has been identified to supplement fuel from sugarcane fibre, a sugar-production by-product, during the first year of operation at the co-generation plant. State Forests estimates that within 50 kilometres of both the Condong and Broadwater mills, there is several million tonnes of camphor laurel. "We probably won't be able to use it all up, it's spreading too rapidly, but it's a way of cleaning it up a bit and getting renewable energy at the same time," Mr Messiter said.

Tuesday 22 April 2008

Solar bonus plan payments face cut

Sunday Mail Brisbane
Sunday 13/4/2008 Page: 17

THE State Government has been accused of undermining one of its own major initiatives to combat climate change. Environmentalists warn that a scheme designed to encourage Queenslanders to install solar panels to boost the amount of renewable energy flowing into the electricity grid is set to flop. Changes to the scheme mean it will be difficult, if not impossible, for most families to generate enough surplus power to qualify for the payments promised. In fact, people who install solar power will effectively be penalised financially, says Queensland Conservation coordinator Toby Hutcheon.

The Queensland Consumers Association, Property Council of Queensland and the country's biggest producer of solar panels, BP Solar, have also expressed concerns. When the Solar Bonus Scheme was announced last month, Premier Anna Bligh said households and businesses would be paid 44¢ for every kilowatt hour generated by solar panels and fed into the state grid. Electricity used would be charged at the normal 15¢ per kilowatt hour.

In the first week, more than 5000 people rushed to sign up for the scheme, which is due to start on July 1. But it has since been revealed that, unlike the current "gross tariff" scheme where people are paid for all the energy provided by their solar panels to the grid, the new "net tariff' model will deduct household usage first, so that people will only be paid the 44¢ rate for any extra power generated above their own consumption. "So in effect, they will be charged 44¢ for the electricity they consume, instead of the 15¢ everyone else pays," Mr Hutcheon said.

Modelling done for Queensland Conservation by sustainable energy experts at the Queensland University of Technology shows that using the 1kW solar systems that the Government is bulk-buying as part of the scheme, few households across the state will be able to generate more power from their solar panels than they consume. "What the graph shows is that even 400 of the most energy-efficient customers would use more than a 1kW system will generate, so it's very unlikely anyone will get the 44¢ tariff," Mr Hutcheon said.

Ian Jarrett from the Queensland Consumers Association said he had written to Energy Minister Geoff Wilson seeking further explanation about the scheme. "If some of the main features are not in the best interests of consumers, then the Government should be prepared to change it," he said.

Steve Greenwood, executive director of the Property Council, said the commercial sector was disappointed with the scheme's new direction. Sustainability and Climate Change Minister Andrew McNamara admitted some people would use more power than their solar panels generated but said: "It depends a lot on what other things they do. "I hope people do more than just put a solar panel on their roof and not do anything to save energy." Mr McNamara said he had reduced his own electricity power bill to $80 a quarter.

Solar Schools

Monday 14/4/2008 Page: 3

THE USE of solar power is set to have a major impact in maximising energy efficiency and reducing environmental impact within Australian schools during the next few years. Thanks to the Australian government's $489 million National Solar Schools Program, every school in Australia is now eligible to apply for grants of up to $50,000 for the installation of two-kilowatt solar panels, expected to provide an average annual greenhouse gas saving of up to 2.8 tonnes.

The initiative also allows for schools to apply for funding to install a range of other complementary energy efficient measures such as solar power systems, lighting upgrades, skylights, shade awnings, solar hotwater systems and rainwater tanks. The new program (expected to be in place by July i this year) represents an additional Australian Government investment of $153 million, which will allow schools to choose the most effective way to meet their energy and water efficiency targets.

With only 0.05% of Australia's energy needs currently being met via the use of solar energy, the program is aimed at transforming all of Australia's 9612 private and public schools into "Solar Schools" within eight years. Crucially, the package will also build on solar school initiatives already under way in states including NSW (where 121 schools have already installed solar technology), Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.

Meantime, the Green Vouchers for Schools initiative will remain open for claims until the Solar Schools program commences. Schools can choose to claim for eligible Green Voucher items, either purchased or contracted before July I, 2008, with amounts claimed under the system to be deducted from a schools entitlement under the new solar program.

New Wind Farm information day

Burra Broadcaster
Wednesday 9/4/2008 Page: 1

Last Wednesday representatives of AGL and Wind Prospects held a public exhibition at the Hallett Town Hall. The information day formed part of an on going consultation process with local Hallett residence and land holders within the Mount Bryan area. AGL's Major Projects Manager, Nigel Bean said the information day formed part of an extensive consultation process with local residents of Hallett and residents within a three kilometre radius of the proposed site.

In South Australia, AGL manages the Wattle Point Wind Farm and is currently constructing wind farms at Brown Hill near Jamestown and Hallett Hill adjacent to the Mount Bryan township. These wind farms together with Mount Bryan will all contribute to the Federal Government's target of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020. At this stage, between 30 and 40 turbines are proposed for the Mount Bryan project.

The wind farm development would consist of the wind generators themselves along with an underground electrical cable network within the wind farm area itself and down the hills. A Community Trust Fund will also be established using earnings from the wind farm, for access by local community groups to support local projects. Other benefits to the regional community include a potential injection of work for regional businesses during the construction and operation of the wind farm. Construction manager Mr Timothy Knill whose company Wind Prospect Pty. Ltd. is acting as planning consultants for the project said he expected that submissions covering all aspects of the project should be with the Regional Council of Goyder by June this year.

There are still a number of site assessments to be conducted for all areas proposed which will contain electrical infrastructure including stobbie poles to carry the power to transformer and substations. They will include an ecological study, particularly in relation to native vegetation and communities that may be living along the proposed line route. Some land owners have expressed concern that the proposed route to the substation via powerlines will change the look of the landscape forever and would prefer them under ground.

They have also expressed concern that the powerlines may have on current farming practices including movement of stock damage to the current road infrastructure and crop dusting. Others residents expressed concerns about the effect on television and radio reception. One concerned landowner who did not wish to be named at this stage said,"I am only a little person up against a very big corporation. My family has planted hundreds of trees along parts of the proposed powerline route over many years and we now fear not only for them but for the beauty of the natural landscape for future generations." Timothy Knill said all residents and landowners concerns will be part of the consultative process before final submission to Council in June.

Monday 21 April 2008

Renewable energy now more affordable

The Rural
Friday 11/4/2008 Page: 13

PEOPLE living away from the power grid will be able to get reliable solar power for half price thanks to a recent federal government initiative. Farms and households unable to connect to mains power are now eligible for a 50 per cent rebate on the setup cost of renewable energy systems up to $200,000. The move comes under a federal government scheme aimed at increasing the use of renewable generation in remote parts of Australia that presently rely on fossil fuel for electricity supply. Alex Manley from Solarco in Wagga said the rebate would help reduce the dependence on fossil fuels.

"With oil prices now at a record high of over $80 for a barrel more and more off grid power users which rely on diesel generators will consider going solar - due to this generous rebate," Mr Manley said. The Renewable Remote Power Generation Program (RRPGP) gives remote communities and industries access to clean, alternative energy sources like solar, wind and biomass. Applicants must prove that either the cost of connecting to the mains electricity grid exceeds $30.000, and/or that they reside more than one kilometre from the grid. Equipment used in installations must be brand new and must satisfy a minimum 450W peak output to obtain the rebate.

The RRPGP rebate is available for both new renewable generation systems and additions of new equipment to existing systems. Landowners already connected to mains grid power can apply for rebates on renewable energy systems under the Photovoltaic Rebate Program (PVRP) which provides up to $8000 on a new system and $5000 for additions to existing systems. Mr Manley said: "With such generous rebates the affordability and long-term financial benefits of our wide range of stand alone solar power systems is obvious. Our systems use specially designed coenergy components with some warranties lasting as long as 25 years."

They're both hot sun and rocks

Monitor Roxby Downs
Thursday 10/4/2008 Page: 5

The potential to combine geothermal energy with that of the sun to create "hybrid" energy solutions is being examined by one of Australia's foremost geothermal developers, Petratherm Limited. 'the ASX-listed Petratherm says combining geothermal and solar energy into a hybrid is a natural evolvement for Australia's renewable energy hungry economy and is ideally suited to the public expectations for climate-driven greener energy.

Petratherm owns the advanced Paralana geothermal project in South Australia's northern Flinders Ranges which is expected to provide Australia's first commercial hot rocks electricity supply when it enters production early in 2010. "We are examining how geothermal and solar energy technologies can be united to form a hybrid solution;' Petratherm's Managing Director, Mr Perry Kallis, said. Mr Kallis said few other countries were blessed with Australia's solar footprint nor the natural abundance of its hot radiogenic granites.

Mr Kallis who is also the Deputy Chairman of the new Australian geothermal Energy Association said the company is examining the potential of combining solar with geothermal to 'top up' the heat from the underground reservoir. "'this could reduce the capital costs of drilling and improve the overall efficiency of energy production. "It is still early days but there could be significant infrastructure savings in particular by providing large-scale, base load power for remote or offgrid applications - notably in the booming mining sector, he said.

Mr Kallis said independent energy analysts, including the Electricity Supply Industry Association of Australia (ESAA), were tipping geothermal energy to supply 8% of Australia's total energy consumption as early as 2030 - equivalent to around 4,000 megawatts per annum. He said the geothermal sector was, however, stepping rapidly up to the challenge, with more than 33 hot rock explorers now active in Australia and around 277 geothermal exploration licences granted - most of them in South Australia.

The critical project issues facing all players, however, were a sufficient revenue stream that would be influenced in future by the price of carbon and competition amongst various power technologies in the national electricity market. Others include the significant capital cost of drilling, plant and grid connections and identifying and developing a thermal resource which offered sustained performance in temperature differential, volumes and achieved commercial rates of flow.

Petratherm is progressing its flagship JV Paralana Project and is planning to drill its first deep well in the second half of 2008. the project is being developed in conjunction with leading Australian energy group, the listed Beach Petroleum Limited. Petratherm and Beach have already completed the major seismic study to determine where best to locate the 4 kilometre deep heat exchanger well. Initial commercialisation of Paralana will involve the deployment of a 7.5 MW power station and expanding to 30 MW over time, to supply the nearby Beverley Uranium Mine.

Wave energy

West Australian
Saturday 12/4/2008 Page: 78

WA wave energy technology developer Carnegie Corporation has finalised its licence agreement with AIM-listed Renewable Energy Holdings for the use of the London-based company's CETO technology. Carnegie said it had secured ownership of all CETO wave farms in the southern hemisphere in return for funding the technology to a maximum of $10.3 million and the payment of a licence fee and royalty.

Winds of change

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 12/4/2008 Page: 18

THE amount of wind power generated in South Australia is expected to more than double by the end of next year. More than $1.1 billion worth of investment has been committed to projects either under construction or slated to start this year. Four projects are expected to be completed, or ramp up to full electricity production, during this year. Once all projects were complete, South Australia's wind power generation capacity would increase from 387 megawatts to more than 850mW.

This follows a year in which Australia lagged the world in the installation of new wind generation capacity, with just 7mW of new generating capacity installed in 2007, the Global Wind Energy Council said in its annual report, released this month. This increase, of less than 1 per cent, lagged the 27 per cent increase in installed capacity worldwide. It follows six years of growth from just 32mW of wind power in Australia in 2000, to 824mW in 2007. The largest of the new South Australian projects, the 159mW Lake Bonney Stage Two project, owned by Babcock and Brown Wind Partners, is already generating power.

It was expected to be finished in the middle of the year. That project involves 53, 80m high turbines generating a maximum of 3mW each. The first turbine at TrustPower's 88mW wind farm at Snowtown was installed in December and all 47 turbines are expected to be up and running by September. Transfield Services's Mount Millar Wind Farm, which has been operating since February, 2006, will also reach its full capacity in the second half of this year.

Pacific Hydro has started building its 27 turbine Clement's Gap project close to Port Pirie, which is also expected to be operational next year. AGL is planning to build a 34 turbine, 71mW project at Hallett Hill, 170km north of Adelaide, which will be operational late next year. Hallett Hill 1, also known as Brown Hill, is nearing completion, and will contribute 95mW. The slowdown in investment last year was due to the Federal Government's Mandatory Renewable Energy Target scheme reaching capacity.

Under the scheme, electricity generators were committed to buying 9500 gigawatt hours of power (about 2 per cent of national demand in 2001) from renewable sources per year by 2010. As the scheme filled up, the viability of some new projects, such as a 39 turbine project 30km southeast of Clare, was called into question. Tasmanian company Roaring 40s put that $180 million project, the Waterloo Wind Farm, on hold in 2006. Clean Energy Council general manager, policy, Rob Jackson, said the policies of the previous Federal Government caused the slowdown in investment.

"As early as 2004, MRET was considered to be basically full and not a lot of new generation was needed," Mr Jackson said. "Schemes to spur investment in Victoria and New South Wales had been announced, but only Victoria had a legislated target, which had led to a lot of localised new investment and activity in 2007. "And while South Australia had a 20 per cent renewable energy target, there was no specific policy in place to deliver that. "Last year on the back of that, with the uncertainty leading up to the federal election investment slowed down quite quickly.

Mr Jackson said the Federal Labor Government's policies were expected to reinvigorate the sector "driven by the Federal Government's intention to increase MRET to 45,000 gigawatt hours (by 2020) and on top of that to bring in the Emissions Trading Scheme." "There's potential for billions of dollars in new investment that will create thousands of jobs in regional Australia, particularly in the manufacturing sector. Along with the environment, many regional communities will benefit from these policies." The GWEC report indicates the tide has already started to turn.

"While there were only three new project commitments during 2007 - amounting to $740 million of investment - the 2008 outlook is rosier. Significant wind capacity is moving through the project planning stage with over 400mW of projects receiving planning approval during 2007. State Energy Minister Patrick Conlon said the success of the wind energy sector was evidenced by the recent heatwave in March, when at times more than 10 per cent of the state's power was supplied by wind turbines.

New solar business launch

Forbes Advocate
Thursday 10/4/2008 Page: 4

In Forbes this morning Forbes Mayor, Rhonda Keane, will officially welcome a major new employer to Forbes this morning when Albury Consolidated Industries launches its solar technology company, Powered by Nature. Mayor Keane will launch the company at the Council Chambers at 10am. Powered by Nature has come about through the relocation of the solar energy division of Albury Consolidated Industries, prompted by the results of the Economic Development Strategy for Forbes Shire Council undertaken by Aurora Research.

The strategy identified opportunities for new businesses to operate in the Forbes district. Councillor Keane has welcomed the new business to town. She said it was an exciting development for Forbes as the potential for Powered by Nature is staggering. "Through the Economic Development Strategy produced by Aurora Research, Forbes has been trying to attract new businesses to town to boost its own economy and help create employment opportunities," Mayor Keane said.

Powered by Nature is at the forefront in solar technology with products developed for solar hot water and solar power. Operations manager, Tristan Black, said a building has been purchased in Forbes and is being converted for use in solar manufacturing and development. "Powered by Nature will be looking to expand its operations in Forbes over the next few years as new solar power products are developed," Mr Black said. "The recruitment of local staff will be a priority in seeing the project reach its hill potential," he said.

Carbon capture gas plant opened

Thursday 10/4/2008 Page: 10

The opening of Australia's first Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) demonstration plant in Victoria has been hailed as a major step towards making `clean coal' viable. The Otway Basin Project in southwest Victoria will see up to 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide captured from natural gas injected 2km underground in a depleted gas reservoir. During the two-year trial, CO2 will be compressed and transported to the basin near Nirranda, about 30km east of Warrnambool.

The project is part of research to learn if emissions can be successfully trapped in geological formations, as a way of curbing the greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuels. "The success of this program will confirm the CCS technology as a viable option to reduce the carbon footprint of coal," Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said at the plant opening. "The Australian Government recognises there is no single solution to reducing our carbon footprint, which is why we are supporting research and development of a range of options," Mr Ferguson said.

"I hope this project will encourage community acceptance of CCS and its potential role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. "The opening was attended by energy officials from major emitting nations including the US, Japan and India." The Otway Basin Project is being conducted by the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies - known as CO2CRC - using $40 million in funding from Federal and State governments, research organisations and industry.

"Using an innovative geotechnical monitoring program, the CO2CRC Otway project plays an important role in demonstrating the safety of geosequestration technology to communities, industry and governments worldwide," CO2CRC chief executive Peter Cook said. "It has a very important role to play in demonstrating the technical and environmental feasibility of geosequestration to Australia and the world, and preparing the way for its widespread application," Mr Cook said.

The Australian Greens said the project was tiny in comparison to similar efforts overseas and would do little to improve understanding of Carbon Capture and Storage. Greens energy spokeswoman Christine Milne said it would not prove if carbon can be effectively and affordably captured at coal-fired power stations. "The Otway Basin Project is government- funded PR for the coal sector and would be a perfect place to start for a government looking to find budget cuts," Senator Milne said.

The mining industry described the opening as significant in developing clean coal. "There simply cannot be a global solution to managing climate change without a clean-coal strategy as part of a suite of policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in an international response to managing climate change," Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Mitch Hooke said.