Wednesday 7 May 2008

NZ farmers have a cow of a time on emissions

Monday 28/4/2008 Page: 2

THE Kyoto Protocol will hit the pockets of New Zealand food producers for little environmental benefit, according to a NZ farm leader. The president of the Federated Farmers of New Zealand, Charlie Pedersen, said greenhouse costs were already accruing for NZ farmers, despite farming not being directly affected by an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) until 2013. Mr Pedersen said under the ETS now before the NZ parliament, different sectors of the economy would be phased in over five years. On the face of it, we as food producers get a break, but in actual fact, in nine months' time liquid fuel, which covers transport, will be included," he said.

This will have an immediate impact on us." He was addressing a conference on greenhouse, agriculture and emissions trading, organised by the Australian Farm Institute on the Gold Coast. Mr Pedersen said energy would be included the following year, which would have a big impact on fanning. The baseline year is 2005, effectively backdating the scheme. We will need to account for any development since then, come 2013. This just adds to the cost on us as the costs are already accruing," he said.

"Every time I drive my tractor out of the shed or turn on the machine at the dairy shed, I'm also trading in emissions. And, of course, whenever I see my cows performing a natural act of nature the same applies." Agriculture accounts for 48.5% of NZ greenhouse gas emissions, with energy and transport making up most of the rest. methane from ruminant animals, at 30%, is the biggest single source of emissions.

Mr Pedersen said one of the big unknowns about the bill was where the ETS would be transacted. "Will it be at on farm' or when the produce from the farm arrives at the processing facility?" he said. The Government was grappling with two essential prerogatives. First was the administrative efficiency of dealing with 40-odd companies as opposed to 30,000 farmers. Second was the way price signals could affect behavioural change at the farm level. Mr Pedersen said the Government's decision would have a huge impact on the workability of the ETS for farmers.

For farmers to be left facing a cost, with no means of reducing their exposure except to reduce production, simply isn't smart for a country that relies so heavily on food production to drive the economy," he said. Our preference is that the point of obligation should be at the farm level." Mr Pedersen said there was a real risk that farming for carbon credits would overtake farming to feed the world. The NZ legislation should be framed to allow for the flexible use of land. "Land use efficiency must be maximised to take into account land capability," he said.

The system NZ farmers faced, if adopted around the world, could not only force up the price of food dramatically, but also create food shortages. Our view is that the process in NZ is rushed and not properly thought through," he said. Mr Pedersen said $17.2 billion, or 47% of NZ export returns, came from agriculture, and about 40% of New Zealanders were employed in the food industry.

Funds make a difference

Ballarat Courier
Saturday 26/4/2008 Page: 34

THE visual effects of climate change and the drought are arguably best represented by Ballarat's dry Lake Wendouree. A grassroots community campaign to highlight how people can make a difference to the environment at home now has 400 members compared to the 40 who first joined 18 months ago. This week it was announced the Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions group had secured $152,767 in funding from the State Government to continue its work. Among some of its initiatives are discounts for members for solar hot water heating, and seminars on the benefits of becoming self-sufficient at home.

BREAZE president Nick Lanyon said the group had grown to the point where paid staff would soon be required. "As a volunteer organisation we have done a lot, given our really limited resources, but we are getting to the stage where we need people in paid positions to really bring forward some of the ideas and initiatives we are trying to get out in the community. "We are also getting inquiries from groups from Ararat, Hamilton and Portland. They are small start-up groups trying to pick our brains and part of the grant will be to sit down and look at what we have done, how we did it and how we can do more." Ballarat East MLA Geoff Howard said the grant would further help BREAZE continue its work. "Community climate change action groups are forming across Victoria as a way for local communities to take action on climate change," he said.

Wind farm swings into action as turbines go up

Plains Producer
Wednesday 23/4/2008 Page: 13

UP TO six turbines a week will be added to the Barunga Range skyline from the end of this month as construction of a 47 turbine wind farm gears up. However, a commitment to future expansion of the project is yet to be made. Developers Trust Power and Wind Prospect recently announced a decision to boost construction to 47 turbines, but have approval to construct up to 130 turbines on the Barunga Range site. Trust Power major project manager, Deion Campbell, assured stage two would be considered in due course.

However, he said the first stage was continuing to progress, with the second turbine lifted into place early last week, and a third last Friday. The lower half of 16 of the remaining towers are also in place. Mr Campbell said the wind farm was currently running to schedule, but would soon speed up. "We're expecting a second large crane to arrive on site sometime before the end of the month," he said. "From there, we should be able to put four to six machines up a week."

He expects all turbines to be erected and operational by September. Each machine is commissioned as it is completed, with the first commissioned last December. Individual turbines weigh 270 tonnes, and stand at 124 metres tall. The wind farm, which stretches across 17 kilometres of the Barunga Range near Snowtown, is expected to generate $1 million each year for the local community.

Rebates power solar uptake

The Land
Thursday 24/4/2008 Page: 32

WITH an abundance of sunshine and plenty of infrastructure to host solar panels, NSW primary producers have at their fingertips the perfect opportunity to set themselves up for cheaper power bills, a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas and even a long-term secondary income. However, solar energy equipment suppliers say the fast-growing take-up of green energy has so far been more widespread among environmentally-conscious urban dwellers than the agricultural sector.

Since the Federal Government last July brought in a range of rebates to increase the amount of electricity produced by renewable energy sources, solar equipment suppliers say business has boomed - but 95 per cent of it has come from householders looking to power hot water systems and other domestic appliances. The rebates include covering 50pc of the cost of renewable energy equipment and a $1000 offering for replacing electric water heaters with solar for household incomes under $100,000 per annum.

The sun's energy is Australia's largest potential power source and offers two types of energy - heat and light. Thermal collectors collect heat while photovoltaic (PV) cells collect light and convert it to electricity. Panels of PV cells are becoming more common across urban roofs, thanks largely to widespread attention to climate change, and households can now set up systems whereby solar electricity is stored in the mainstream grid until needed, giving people the security of the grid. A 1.5kW solar power system has an area of about 11 square metres and generates around 1800 kilowatt hours of electricity. It would typically cost about $20,000.

According to the NSW Department of Energy, Utilities and Sustainability, more than 2000 homes in NSW now use solar power and are therefore preventing the emission of nearly 2500 tonnes of greenhouse gas every year. That number is growing fast. NSW regional power authority Country Energy says since July, the number of systems it has brought online where power garnered from solar panels is fed back to the grid has more than doubled.

The company's environmental portfolio manager Catherine Gordon Bathurst, said interest from farmers was based on reducing input costs and protecting the environment. The potential for generating a secondary line of income was there, however it generally took many years for that to eventuate, she said. Country Energy has in fact set up its own solar farm in Queanbeyan, where 720 panels each have a 77 watt capacity with a total system capacity of 50 kilowatts. Electricity is fed directly into the Country Energy grid and each year the farm produces 60,000kW of electricity - enough to supply about eight to ten homes, Ms Gordon said.

"It produces no greenhouse gases and saves about 60t of greenhouse gas emissions, that would otherwise have been created by coal-fired power stations, annually," she said. Since July, more and more farmers looking to replace diesel pumps were also turning to green energy, according to one of Australia and New Zealand's larger suppliers of renewable energy products, Energy Matters. Company spokesman, Max Sylvester, Melbourne, said solar pumps capable of processing 100,000 litres of water a day were now being supplied to an average of two farmers a week. Most were going to beef producers in NSW and Victoria, he said.

Farmers' budget wishlist

The Land
Thursday 24/4/2008 Page: 3

THE State's largest farming organisation has gone to the NSW Government with a wishlist costing more than $1 billion. The NSW Farmers' Association wishlist was topped by a railway connecting NSW to Queensland and Victoria. Other items included a $2 million incinerator to get rid of sheep, cattle and pig carcasses; a climate change liaison officer with an annual salary of $180,000; and free rent for farmers in the Western Division. The State budget, due out next month, will reveal if the association's submission was successful.

Climate change was the biggest issue covered in the association's submission to the NSW Treasury. It asked for $5 million to fund partnerships between the waste and renewable energy sectors, such as small scale biofuel plants and solar energy projects. "Given the difficulties and transmission losses associated with providing bulk power to regional and remote communities, government ought to treat regional renewable power as a high strategic priority," the submission said.

The submission's main criticism targeted the Federal Government's Emissions Trading Scheme, which it said would have "disproportionately high impacts" on regional Australia and the cost of farming through supplies such as fertiliser and fuel. The association was looking to put carbon from the city into the soil, maybe even as a part of hybrid fertiliser. "We need rules under the new Kyoto and the AETS (Australian Emissions Trading Scheme) that allow farmers to create carbon credits in soil, grass and crops as part of productive farming systems," it said.

"Agriculture could achieve a significant reduction in the risk of climate change by taking CO2 back out of the atmosphere and storing it in the soil." This follows research that states about half of all soil carbon in farmed land has been lost because of cultivation. A $2 million incinerator to dispose of livestock at Charles Sturt University's veterinary laboratory in Wagga would reduce the risk of diseases spreading through the State, the submission stated.

Voices of change

Hepburn Shire Advocate
Wednesday 23/4/2008 Page: 13

THE Hepburn University of Third Age has launched a new sustainability program in a bid to unite people with similar interests. The program was launched on Friday with about 30 U3A members involved in the program. Committee member Margie Thomas said sustainability was a topical issue and there were many people around Central Victoria doing terrific things to help sustainability who needed to be linked. On Friday, the group heard from the Hepburn Renewable Energy Association, which lobbied for a wind farm at Leonards Hill.

They also heard from Mount Alexander Sustainability Group on the work it is doing with the CSIRO to reduce greenhouse emissions. Ms Thomas said the work of these smaller organisations showed that in country areas people were finally realising and coming to terms with the need to be environmentally responsible. The group is looking at getting the council on board its program, as well as enlisting the new chief executive officer. Its next fortnightly session will see the group work out its ecological footprint and look at retrofitting.

"Sustainability doesn't only occur with our physical surroundings, but it's also about emotional and spiritual surroundings," Ms Thomas said. "It's about a total concept; how you fit in and feel comfortable, and how to make a contribution." Ms Thomas said the group was also planning to open some sessions to the wider community, so other locals had an opportunity for input. Long term, the group will take on a number of local issues, such as plastic bag issues, and harness members' interests to make a change. Ms Thomas said the Hepburn Shire Council was a "powerful area" in the region, with a huge environmental focus.

Effluent power push to help save Warrnambool saleyards - Cattle waste `could subsidise' centre

Warrnambool Standard
Thursday 24/4/2008 Page: 1

Warrnambool's saleyards should remain on Caramut Road while the city council investigates producing green power from cattle effluent to cut waste management costs, the centre's supporters said this week. In about four weeks Warrnambool City Council will consider a consultant's report into the economic impact of closing the saleyards.

The report was commissioned after the Victorian Livestock Exchange proposed building a new saleyards complex at Garvoc if the Warrnambool and Camperdown yards closed. But former Warrnambool mayor Frank McCarthy said the council should maintain the saleyards and investigate a methane plant. "It's not anything new," he declared. "They should leave the yards where they are and investigate it." Former city councillor Jim Leahy and Mr McCarthy recently held a public meeting seeking support to retain the saleyards in or near the city.

Last month Mr McCarthy inspected the Charles piggery at Berrybank and its anaerobic digester that generates electricity from methane, conserving and recycling water and collecting waste for sale as fertiliser. Owner Melville Charles said from a $2 million investment in the waste management system 17 years ago he annually saved $100,000 in electricity, sold 6000 tonnes of organic garden products valued at $1.2 million and replaced fertiliser valued at $50,000. Mr McCarthy said he and current WCC mayor David Atkinson also inspected the piggery 17 years ago. "That's what I wanted them to put down here about 20 years ago but they didn't have the foresight to do it," he said.

"If we overcome the effluent problem the saleyards could stay there for another 50 years." The council has also indicated it had no money in its 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 budgets for rubber soft flooring needed in sale pens. But Mr McCarthy said processing the cattle waste could potentially fund the needed soft-flooring. Warrnambool Stock Agents Association president Jack Kelly said he supported the council investigating the beneficial use of the saleyards' effluent. "If the byproducts could be used it would be good for everyone." Warrong farmer and Warrnambool Stock Agents Association secretary Gerald Madden said effluent options should be vigorously investigated.

"The agents have been advised by city council that the disposal costs of effluent into the waste treatment system have escalated and were a big imposition on the financial operation of the yards." Bellwether Agriculture managing director Chris Davidson said production of the estimated 13 standard cubic feet per minute of methane gas generated from the Warrnambool saleyards' waste was equivalent to:
  • preventing the use of 3609 barrels of oil;
  • displacing the use of 642,036.16 litres of petrol;
  • removing emissions equivalent to 298 vehicles;
  • a reduction of 179 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year; or
  • planting 171.5 hectares of forest.
The estimated waste stream from the saleyards was very small "and therefore the viability from a capital cost point would be line-ball if relying on the production electricity at base load," Mr Davidson said. "Further details from the waste stream would need to be obtained and calculated to effect a more accurate cost model." But the "closed-loop" technology was aimed at returning revenue streams from electricity (green power) back to the national grid; solid and liquid organic fertiliser; carbon credits and recycled water.

"What they (the Warrnambool City Council) are doing is getting rid of a waste stream that could generate a net income and have environmental gains," he said. An IBR plant sufficient to handle the saleyards' waste would have a footprint equivalent to a normal house block of about 2000 square metres. Establishment cost recovery could be about four years, depending on the actual available organic waste tonnage, electricity and carbon credit prices.

Gloomy Hydro power forecast

Hobart Mercury
Thursday 24/4/2008 Page: 9

POWER supplies will be in a critical situation by next March if there is not a wet winter. Primary Industries and Water Minister David Llewellyn said yesterday. Hydro water storages are at 18.9 per cent, the third lowest monthly figure since 2002. Tasmania would have to rely on imports over Basslink, he said. "If it does not rain this winter we're going to... have problems on a number of fronts, quite frankly, but next year around March and April will be critical," he said.

He said lie did not expect a wet winter after a briefing from the chief of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne. "He believes that the La Nina phase is dissipating and we may be entering into another El Nino phase which is the dry phase for Australia," he said. "I think we can expect lower than normal rainfalls into the future." Mr Llewellyn said it was hoped a new 200 megawatt power station in the Tamar Valley would be commissioned by March 2009. He said other facilities with a capacity of 400 megawatts would be available by then. Government was looking at renewable energy options including geothermal, private investment in wind farms and the burning of forest waste.

Log-burner power push - Bid to fire up forests for electricity

Hobart Mercury
Thursday 24/4/2008 Page: 5

Forestry Tasmania wants an electricity investor to build a $70 million burner to put the debris from clearfell logging into energy, rather than smoke, generation. Forestry Tasmania managing director Bob Gordon said planning permits and approvals had been obtained to build the plant at its Southwood project in the Huon Valley. Mr Gordon said another plant could be built at its Southwood Smithton site, and Gunns Ltd's proposed pulp mill had a power boiler which could take log residue. Forestry Tasmania has come under fire this week over smoke from its burn-offs.

"It is the large pieces of wood which often smoulder over a number of days which have contributed most to the smoke haze around the state," Mr Gordon said. "Biomass energy is part of the solution. These bigger pieces should instead be going into biomass plants. It is a win-win. We can reduce the smoke going into the atmosphere and also generate renewable power." He said the company would still conduct forest burns to create ash beds but the burns would be less intense.

Wilderness Society campaigner Vica Bayley said power generated from such plants would be recognised as a manifestation of forest destruction. He said there would be little market for power from logging. "Forestry Tasmania roll out the biomass plant idea every year when they are under public pressure about burning in the forests," Mr Bayley said. "The majority of Tasmanians are upset about the smoke because of what it represents, not just the nuisance factor." Investment in renewable energy has slumped with uncertainty over Australia's renewable energy target scheme.

Mr Gordon said Forestry Tasmania had received interest in its plans. He said it would take 12 months from the time an investor put money on the table to get a plant up and running. A plant of the scale proposed would need 10,000 tonnes of wood to generate 10 megawatts of electricity. Mr Gordon said there was enough waste wood in Tasmania to fuel the plants without having to clearfell more forests. "Of course we would need to leave some large rotten logs for insect life. It wouldn't be financially viable to log simply to get waste wood product to put through a power plant," he said.

UN suspends Greece from carbon trading

Adelaide Advertiser
Thursday 24/4/2008 Page: 38

GREECE has been suspended from United Nations carbon trading in an unprecedented punishment for violating greenhouse gas reporting rules that underpin a fight against global warming. Legal experts enforcing compliance with the Kyoto Protocol said the UN also was opening proceedings against Canada for alleged violations of rules on accounting for heat-trapping gases.

"Greece is declared to be in noncompliance," the enforcement branch stated. Greek authorities had failed to maintain a proper national system for recording greenhouse gas emissions - the key to ensuring compliance with the protocol seeking to slow temperature rises that could bring more floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising seas. "Greece is not eligible to participate in the (trading) mechanisms... of the protocol pending the resolution of the question of implementation," the enforcement branch stated. It is the first such ruling since Kyoto came into force in 2005.

Submission of new data by Greece had not entirely convinced the compliance experts, who were seeking extra opinions, said a UN official. who declined to be named. Of the Greek ruling, spokesman John Hay of the Climate Change Secretariat said: "This case shows that the compliance committee of the Kyoto Protocol is up and running properly." The Kyoto Protocol imposes a cap on emissions of greenhouse gas by 37 industrialised countries but allows them to meet their targets by paying for emissions cuts elsewhere, such as in the developing world or former east bloc nations.

The ruling means Greece is barred from such offsetting, except under one track of emissions trading with former communist countries. Greek companies still will be able to take part in a European Union market for carbon dioxide. Greece's emissions were running 26 per cent above 1990 levels in 2006, slightly above the nation's Kyoto target of no more than 25 per cent above 1990 levels between 2008 and 20012. As a result it has little need to buy offsets. The enforcement branch also said Canada had failed to provide a proper registry for greenhouse gases and had missed a January 1 reporting deadline by more than two months. The Canadian finding was preliminary and needed further research before any rulings.

Tuesday 6 May 2008

Griffin steps up plans for more coal-fired power

West Australian
Tuesday 22/4/2008 Page: 11

Ric Stowe's Griffin Group hopes to have final environmental approvals by mid-2009 to build another two coal-fired power stations near Collie and will consider more in the future to meet the growing demand for electricity in WA. Griffin's two new 208 megawatt Bluewaters coal-fired units, which will cost up to $500 million each, will have to meet the highest level of environmental assessment after the Environmental Protection Authority ruled yesterday they would be subject to a full public environmental review.

The EPA released its assessment decision as Greens MLC Paul Llewellyn said he would introduce a Bill in State Parliament seeking to prevent any more conventional coal-fired power stations in WA. "We can't afford to approve more coal-fired power stations that will lock in high emissions for the next 30 years," Mr Llewellyn said. As The West Australian revealed last week, Griffin is seeking approval to build the two new coalfired power stations at its Coolangatta industrial estate near Collie, where the Stowe company is already building the first two Bluewaters units. Griffin hopes to sell that extra 416MW of power to State-owned retailer Synergy and big industrial customers.

The company also plans to build a second wind farm near Cervantes, capable of producing up to 130MW Griffin power generation chief Wayne Trumble said yesterday the two new Bluewaters units would include technology to remove sulfur dioxide and would be engineered to capture carbon when such technology became commercially viable. Mr Trumble said the new power stations would also be built so 15 per cent of the fuel could be provided by biomass.

He anticipated Griffin would have its environmental approvals in place by mid-2009, enabling construction of the third unit to begin by September next year. The public environmental review includes an eight-week public consultation period, which will help shape the recommendations the EPA will make to Environment Minister David Templeman. The process starts with a community meeting in Collie scheduled for May 7.

Mr Trumble claimed coal had a long-term future as a source of fuel for electricity generation in WA because as January's shutdown on North-West Shelf plant had illustrated, the State could not afford to be over-reliant on gas. He said while also pursuing plans for gasfired power generation and wind farms, Griffin would consider building more coal-fired power stations to keep pace with growing demand for energy.

Mr Llewellyn queried whether Griffin had complied with the conditions of its first two Bluewaters units, claiming it had not made public its greenhouse gas abatement program in the specified time. But Mr Trumble said Griffin's abatement plan was with the Department of Environment and Conservation awaiting approval.

Support renewables, says WISE

Midland Express
Tuesday 22/4/2008 Page: 4

Woodend Integrated Sustainable Energy (WISE), is supporting the uptake of all forms of renewable energy projects in Macedon Ranges Shire (MRS). WISE is a local community organisation which seeks to help the community take responsibility for its energy and carbon future. Spokesperson, Peter Hansford, said WISE support of renewable energy includes wind, solar and biofuels, be they large, medium or domestic, as well as sustainable building design with respect to energy and water conservation.

"In this day and age, we as a people need to think not only about impending climate change, but also the depletion, increasing expense and eventual disappearance of fossil fuels as an energy source." He points out that MRS is a wind-rich area (Victorian Wind Atlas, 2004), blessed due to its own topography with wind resources equal to coastal areas.

WISE asks, why not use this resource for our community's benefit? Mr Hansford said Denmark and the United States, among others, have embraced community-owned wind power generation for decades. "They have enjoyed the benefits flowing on from this, including a source of ongoing revenue for the community shareholders, and the proud feeling that comes from creating and using for themselves energy from a clean, renewable resource." Mr Hansford said WISE respects the opinions of local community members concerned about the potential impacts on landscape, flora and fauna, but simply asks that this be considered in the light of reason and current understanding.

WISE believes that bird strike, however, is one of many myths that needs exploding. The group points to detailed surveys conducted by various commercial and government agencies which have concluded bird strike by wind turbine is an extremely rare phenomenon, and that far more birds are killed by buildings and cars, not to mention the fate of these birds in an environment where climate and habitat changes continue unabated.

Mr Hansford said that with respect to flora, the footprint of wind turbines is small, so that the impact on vegetation is limited. "Further, productive agricultural land is being used right now in Victoria for wind farms, with the landholders enjoying annual annuities and leases on easements. This is at odds with the current Council position on using 'productive agricultural land' as an exclusion layer for siting wind turbines.

"In the MRS, this excludes a huge area which may otherwise be used for clean power production for community benefit. "WISE supports (councillor) John Letchford's comments on the positive benefits of wind power, and is heartened that the Council may be changing its current `hands off' attitude." Mr Hansford said WISE particularly supports community owned renewable energy production, in the form of initiatives such as small-scale wind `parks' (consisting of two to three wind turbines), which for example, could provide enough household energy for local towns and assist in achieving a carbon neutral future for the Shire.

He said the area would likewise benefit from other initiatives such as bulk purchasing of residential solar power systems, retrofitting of existing buildings for energy and water conservation, and introducing planning provisions for sustainable buildings. "The facts must be weighed with both reason and an appreciation of the bigger picture," Mr Hansford said.

Home to bright ideas

Moonee Valley Leader
Monday 21/4/2008 Page: 14

THE Building & Home Improvement Expo offers inspiration for every homeowner and builder. The focus this year is affordability in sustainability. Visitors to the expo can expect a one-stop destination for information and ideas on the latest renovation and building related materials and products. Organised with the Master Builders Association, the event will feature more than 250 companies showing the latest in their fields and highlight solutions to a range of topical issues such as affordable energy efficiency, water saving and sustainability in the home. Topics covered include smart technology, solar power, bathrooms, flooring, landscaping, heating, kitchens, roofing, skylights and security. There's also the latest in home automation and smart technology.

Visitors can take advantage of the many DIY demonstrations along with building and design seminars during the three-day event and get practical advice from the professionals. Given that market conditions in real estate have led many people to renovate and extend rather than buy, the expo should be the perfect destination for anyone looking to research and discover new ideas to improve their homes. The Building and Home Improvement Expo is on May 16-18 at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, Southbank.

Visit for more information.

Shell floats plan for offshore carbon capture

Tuesday 22/4/2008 Page: 25

ROYAL Dutch Shell is considering capturing and burying carbon dioxide at its planned Prelude floating liquefied natural gas operation off the coast of Western Australia, according to documents lodged with environmental regulators. Shell is looking to build a 3.5 million tonnes a year floating LNG plant to process gas from the Prelude field, about 450km northeast of Broome, according to an application lodged with the federal Environment Department earlier this month.

The project has "potential for carbon dioxide sequestration, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of the project", Shell says in the application. Floating LNG, in which gas is liquefied offshore on a floating plant rather than piping the fuel to shore, is an untested technology that large oil companies, including Shell, are trying to commercialise as LNG plant development costs spiral higher and as LNG prices make developing isolated gas fields more attractive.

The move to sequester, or capture and store underground, the carbon dioxide from the gas comes as the federal Government plans to bring in a carbon trading scheme by 2010 as part of a plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions. "A successful Prelude floating LNG development will provide the catalyst for the development of other stranded gas fields in Australia and elsewhere," Shell says in the application. Shell, along with partner Woodside Petroleum, is considering using floating LNG at the Sunrise project in the Timor Sea.

The floating LNG plant is expected to be 480m long with a width of between 70m and 80m and would be built outside Australia and towed to Prelude, Shell says. The plant is expected to run for 25 years to 2037, Shell says, indicating an expected start date of 2012. The planned unit, which would be anchored to the seabed, would not disconnect in bad weather and would be designed to survive a one in 10,000 years cyclone. Shell executive director of gas and power Linda Cook said earlier this month that an application had been lodged. She said preliminary estimates showed the Prelude field held between 2 trillion and 3 trillion cubic feet of gas.

White elephant fear for Congo hydro project

Tuesday 22/4/2008 Page: 10

SEVEN African governments and the world's largest banks and construction firms met in London yesterday to plan the most powerful dam ever conceived - an $85 billion hydropower project on the Congo River, which, its supporters say, could double the amount of electricity available on the continent. G8 and some African governments hope the Grand Inga dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo will generate twice as much electricity as the world's current largest dam, the Three Gorges in China, and jump-start industrial development on the continent, bringing electricity to hundreds of millions of people.

But while governments and banks expect it to export electricity as far away as South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and even to Europe and Israel, environment groups and local people warned that it could bypass the most needy and end up as Africa's most ruinous white elephant, consigning one of the poorest countries to mountainous debts. The dam is being planned to exploit one of the largest water flows on earth where the world's second-largest river drops nearly 100 metres in just 13 kilometres.

Two hydro-electric plants, known as Inga 1 and Inga 2, were constructed in the 1970s and a third is planned, but
Grand Inga would dwarf them all.
Grand Inga was proposed in the 1980s but never got beyond feasibility studies because of political turmoil in central Africa. But now it stands a chance, according to Gerald Doucet, secretary-general of the World Energy Council, which is convening the London meeting.

"It is the greatest sustainable development project, offering Africa a unique chance for interdependence and prosperity," Mr Doucet said. "It's much more feasible now than ever." Grand Inga's prospects of being completed by 2022 are said to have risen significantly in the past year as countries, banks and private companies have found they can earn high returns from the emerging global carbon offset market and UN climate change credits.

"The banks and the City of London see that Grand Inga is serious," Mr Doucet said. "The G8 countries are behind it because they can get UN clean development mechanism (CDM) credits to offset their emissions. Chinese, Brazilian and Canadian dam-building companies, as well as the World Bank, are all interested." But advocacy groups said the plans ignored local people and could leave Congo with massive debts rather than a sustainable industrial base.

The project would be a magnet for corruption in one of the world's least stable regions," said Terri Hathaway, Africa campaigner with the International Rivers, a watchdog group monitoring the project. "Its enormous budget and large contracts could devolve Inga into a corruption riddled white elephant.

"Inga will centralise a vast store of the region's electric and financial power, a development model that can foster tensions and civil wars." Ms Hathaway said the 94% of people in Congo DRC and the two-in-three Africans who have no electricity now were unlikely to benefit because the dam depends on exporting its electricity to existing centres of industry, especially in South Africa, where there have been power shortages. As it stands, the project's electricity won't reach even a fraction of the continent's 500 million people not yet connected to the grid," she said.

"Building a distribution network that would actually light up Africa would increase the project's cost exponentially. It would be very different if rural energy received the kind of commitment and attention now being lavished on Inga." Despite Congo having exported electricity for years from Inga 1 and Inga 2, access to electricity across the country is less than 6%, and in rural areas, where nearly 70% of people live, it is only 1%.

"My village is three kilometres from Inga's power lines. They built a line almost 2000 kilometres to the mines (in Katanga province) but in all of these years we have been left without electricity," said Simon Malanda, a community representative.

Collaboration announced

Daily Advertiser
Saturday 19/4/2008 Page: 7

AUSTRALIAs largest energy supply network, Country Energy, has announced its global collaboration with IBM aimed at developing and deploying an "Intelligent Network" in Australia. Country Energy is pursuing the Intelligent Network concept to improve reliability, support the growth of renewables like solar and wind and make energy efficiency simpler for customers.

"Climate change and cost of living fears have made families and businesses keener than ever to control their energy and water use," Country Energy's managing director Craig Murray said. "At the same time, Australia's power grids are beginning to show their age - we need a blueprint to renew those grids as more efficient and responsive `Intelligent Networks'. "We need to put the digital age to work for our network customers.

"By 2020, Intelligent Networks need to do for essential services what the internet has done for information." Through the development of an Intelligent Network, Country Energy can combat short-term carbon adjustment costs, and the long term costs of moving to a low-carbon future. In Australia, IBM and Country Energy are focusing on developing solutions specific to local conditions and electricity networks, which will enable small renewable generators to interact with the network.