Thursday 12 June 2008

Gas woes renew nuclear calls

West Australian
Saturday 7/6/2008 Page: 12

WA's gas supply crisis has resurrected the polarising nuclear energy debate, with the State's peak business group and experts urging an unwilling State Government to consider it to strengthen the vulnerable power market. nuclear energy is one of the energy alternatives preferred by the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry. CCI chief executive James Pearson said nuclear energy had to be on the table as a base-load power source in a carbon-constrained future, especially when the State was home to one of the world's richest sources of uranium.

"The two gas disruptions in the last six months are a call to action which we don't want the Government to ignore and the business community in WA would like to work with the Government to help develop an energy blueprint," Mr Pearson said. He said the CCI planned to lobby the Government on this "pressing" issue in the lead-up to the election. Alan Carpenter yesterday restated the Government's anti-nuclear stand, saying WA would never see domestic nuclear energy under his watch.

"What we have now is a fire at a gas plant which is a very significant issue. Can you imagine what would be happening now if we had a nuclear energy plant in Western Australia on fire?" he said. Opposition Leader Troy Buswell said yesterday nuclear energy was not an option for WA in the foreseeable future, despite the Liberals' support for uranium mining.

Nuclear energy expert Ziggy Switkowski, who headed a task force established by former prime minister John Howard into the use of nuclear energy, said the advance of nuclear energy was inevitable. Dr Switkowski, chairman of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and former Telstra boss, believed nuclear energy generation would be a reality in the mid-2020s and would start operating first on the eastern seaboard.

But in WA, smaller, compact reactors could supply power to provincial towns, mines or desalination plants before it was connected to the South- West grid. "In my opinion as we go farther down the path of understanding the severity of the emission reductions that are ahead of us and the vulnerability we have in existing gas and coalfired power stations which are pausing awaiting the new environmental rules... it may be years, but it's only a matter of time before we consider nuclear energy as a serious alternative," he said.

"As demonstrated in WA this week, the current alternatives are limited to coal and gas... if that's what you're dependent on and one of those platforms breaks down you're exposed." Dr Switkowski said the WA Government's main argument against uranium mining of accepting and storing radioactive waste would be solved with a "straightforward engineering task."

Australian National University dean of science Aiden Byrne said nuclear energy could not be discounted and greenhouse gas emissions were likely to be the catalyst for an eventual government backup. Professor Byrne said nuclear reactors, which if happened were at least 20 years away, should be built near coalfired power stations sites because the grid, cooling and heating infrastructure were all accessible. Greens MP Giz Watson said nuclear energy was not viable for WA and it was better to focus on expanding renewable energy sources.

Wind farm Bill 'best outcome': Leases to co-exist

Barrier Daily Truth
Friday 6/6/2008 Page: 1

The Silverton Wind Farm could go ahead on "parallel" leases that would guarantee security to both the developer and the graziers, according to the State Government. Minister for Lands, Tony Kelly, has introduced a Bill seeking amendments to the Western Lands and Crown Lands Act that would allow the Government to grant a Crown lease alongside the current leases held by four graziers affected by the Silverton wind farm development.

"In effect, this means that there will be parallel, or two leases, on the one piece of land," said the Minister yesterday. The Bill is the latest offer from the Government which had previously sought to resume land around Silverton where Epuron wants to build a $2 billion wind farm. It had argued resumption was necessary to ensure the wind farm had security of tenure. Mr Kelly said the Western Lands and Crown Lands Amendment (Special Purposes Leases) Bill 2008 introduced to parliament on Wednesday night was a "win-win for all involved."

"It provides long term security of tenure for providers of critical infrastructure, whilst preserving the tenure of existing leaseholders who will still have a say in the negotiations," he said. He said the parallel lease could not be granted without the express consent of the graziers in order that they benefit from the changes. Mr Kelly said the amendments proposed in the Bill provided flexibility and options for the community.

"This is a common sense solution which will satisfy the concerns of the graziers and ensure the proponent of the Silverton Wind Farm have secure Crown lease title over the land, if the project gets the green light:' The graziers are still working through the Bill and want some amendments. They met Department of Lands representatives last Friday. "We're working through the Bill with our legal representatives," said their spokesman, Nigel Lawrence. "There are some issues there that open up a can of worms in some areas," he told BDT yesterday.

He said these included compensation, liability and land care issues but he didn't want to elaborate on the detail. But he said the Bill was a step in the right direction. "If we retain our Western Lands rights and get adequate compensation for the wind farm, well then we'll start to see a light at the end of the tunnel:' Mr Lawrence said he still believed changing the purpose of the leases would be better. A sub-lease could have been granted to Epuron and an adjusted rental formula for compensation enforced, he said.

"That was the right way to go, a lot more simpler and not as complicated as what the Government is proposing.' He said the graziers were hoping they can get their amendments passed and the matter settled for good within the month. One issue the Graziers are adamant about is seeking a guarantee that compensation from Epuron be used in a Community Fund for this area, said Mr Lawrence.

"We want to see a structural guarantee that the money stays here in our community where it can do a lot of good" Silverton Wind Farm Developments issued a short statement welcoming the Bill. "We're pleased to see the Government continues to work constructively with Silverton Wind Farm Developments and the leaseholders in the interests of this vital long term project," said spokesman Martin Poole.

Island's sunny future State's first solar units

Burnie Advocate
Saturday 7/6/2008 Page: 6

King Island will have the first solar power monitors of their kind in the country by the end of the month. KI Solar, a subsidiary of CBD Energy, and Hydro Tasmania are working together to install solar monitors. CBD executive chairman Gerry McGowan said the monitors were about 80 per cent complete and should be finished by June 30. These are the first solar power units in Tasmania and the first for CBD in Australia. The set-up includes six dual axis tracking solar photovoltaic systems, which use German technology.

"It's state of the art, it doesn't get any better," Mr McGowan said. It should produce 190 megawatt hours a year and reduce diesel consumption by 30,000 litres a year. "We believe the future is going to be integrating many energy sources," Mr McGowan said. It will not only help the King Island economy by reducing electricity costs, but will boost the tourism potential. "We think it'll really help profile the island," Mr McGowan said. "What we're doing on King Island is going to impact the rest of the world."
*King Island has been using wind power for the past 10 years.

*The island is also looking into wave energy, with tests to be completed on the island shortly.

2050 emissions target to cost $47 trillion a year

Weekend Australian
Saturday 7/6/2008 Page: 17

Governments and industry need to invest at least US $45 trillion -- or at least 1.1% of world GDP annually, to half greenhouse gases by 2050, the International Energy Agency has warned.

That calls for a massive increase in nuclear energy output -- about 32 new nuclear plants a year for the next 40 years, compared with the 393 currently in commission -- and another form of non-carbon emitting power generation-- and average 60 new coal and gas-fired electricity plants around the world would need to be retrofitted each year with carbon dioxide capture and storage technology, at a cost of US 90 billion annually.

Massive investment would be needed to develop CO2 reduction technology, up to US 100 million annually for the next 15 years, IEA asserts in its energy technology perspective 2008 report. But the alternative under a continuation of current energy use, is 130% increase in emissions over that time and a 70% net increase in global demand for oil.

One benefit of achieving the target would be a significant lessening of oil dependence -- total world oil demand in 2050 would be 27% below 2005 levels, according to the study. Under current policies and practices, IEA executive director Nobuo Tanaka warned,"we are very far from sustainable development, despite the widespread recognition of the long-term problem. In fact, CO2 emissions growth has accelerated considerably in recent years." "We will require immediate policy action and the technological transition on an unprecedented scale." Mr Tanaka said yesterday in Tokyo.

At a summit in Hokkaido next month, G8 leaders are expected to adopt Japan's proposal to halve the current level of world CO2 emissions by 2050. The target was recently endorsed by G8 environmental ministers. The IEA membership includes all the G8 states - except Russia. In the US, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Canada and Italy -- plus most other significant developed economies, including Australia. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will attend the Hokkaido Summit at Japan's invitation as one of the G8 "outreach partners" to discuss emissions control and energy and food security.

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda hopes to produce the framework for a global warming agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol on emissions control, expiring in 2012. But IEA membership does not include the big developing economies such as China -- which has just surpassed the US as the world's biggest greenhouse emitter -- India and Brazil.

Wednesday 11 June 2008


Saturday 7/6/2008 Page: 2

Biofuels need not eat into food stocks Australia can develop biofuels that use crop residues, writes Glenn Tong.

DURING World War II, legendary BHP chief executive Essington Lewis was put in charge of all Australia's munitions production to meet the unique challenges of the war effort. It is arguable that business needs to be mobilised today to help combat global warming while not adversely affecting world food supplies.

Recent media reports have highlighted the problem of rising food prices around the world, especially in developing countries. Just like fossil fuels, arable land is a finite resource and competition between growing crops for food and for fuel presents ethical questions.

Developing countries assert that rich countries, in their hurry to respond to global warming, are driving up food prices by encouraging the use of crops to produce biofuels rather than feed people. In the US, most of the rise in global corn production from 2004 to 2007 was used for biofuels production.

According to the World Bank's 2008 World Development Report, about a quarter of a tonne of corn- enough to feed a person for a year - is needed to produce 100 litres of ethanol, enough to fill the tank of an SUV once. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently called for an investigation of biofuels as he fears that their proliferation will compromise world food stocks.

One of his officials went so far as to declare that biofuels were a "crime against humanity" The reality is that biofuels can be part of the response to the climate change challenge without reducing food production. And business can play a key role. The focus must be on second-generation biofuels that use crop residues like stalks and husks rather than the grain itself, leaving food stocks unaffected. But much more research is needed.

There are, of course, many advantages to biofuels. Transport fuels account for about 40% of Australia's energy use. All this is hydrocarbon based and most is imported, and subject to the uncertainty of international developments. Second generation biofuels produced locally, focusing on bioethanol sourced from cellulosic biomass like wheat straw and sugar cane bagasse could be a solution.

Globally, wheat straw is the most abundant cellulosic biomass derived from an agricultural crop. It just so happens that wheat straw is also the most abundant cellulosic biomass in Australia. The AgriEnergy has technologies that could make the use of wheat straw as a feedstock for bioethanol a reality. If ethanol can be produced from wheat straw cheaply and efficiently, it would be a plentiful and easy solution to our renewable energy challenges.

But a lot of investment over many years will be required to crystallise this opportunity. Demand for bioethanol will soon likely far exceed supply if the industry is confined to using only first-generation, starch based ethanol production. Business has had some involvement in this sector but it can play an even greater role.

The Queensland Government's recent $5 million investment in a sugar cane bioethanol research centre together with Syngenta and an Australian company, Farmacule, is a step in the right direction. The dream of having a viable and sustainable biofuels industry in Australia is not new. In the early 1980s Shell developed a pilot ethanol scheme in Far North Queensland. The difference is we now have the biotechnological tools to make it a reality.

Business, of course, is used to long lead times in investment. Manufacturing plants can take three to five years before they start production and many more years to achieve their maiden profit. The North West Shelf resources project had a lead time of a decade or more. The forerunner of Orica, ICI Australia, had a large research department at Ascot Vale and many new chemicals and industrial products that went on to benefit the community in several ways were developed there after long years of research.

The Rudd Government needs to encourage corporate Australia to further develop biofuels for the national good. This is already being done via substantial government financial assistance in the form of large subsidies for biofuels in the US and Europe. But support for the Australian biofuels sector is very meagre by comparison.

Like any other innovative technology, enormous start-up costs are associated with the development of biofuels. And, just as the Federal Government provides financial incentives and support to a range of other community and business areas, it is logical that greater incentives be provided to develop the all-important biofuels sector.

This low level of investment by the Australian Government, coupled with rising grain prices, has forced biofuel companies to shift their activities offshore. AgriEnergy has pulled out of its $100 million Swan Hill ethanol plant to focus on its overseas investments and Australian Renewable Fuels has halted production at its two plants. The rewards will be big for the companies that can find an economical way to produce second -generation biofuels. In Australia, a great opportunity presents itself in wheat straw as a potential feedstock.

Science has benefited humanity over thousands of years. biofuels, rather than being condemned, should be embraced for the potential they have to meet the unique challenges of climate change. For both the national and international good business needs to get behind the development of these second-generation biofuels.

Dr Glenn Tong is chief executive of the Molecular Plant Breeding CRC.

First wind farm in South Africa opened
May 23 2008

The first wind farm in South Africa, which produces electricity from wind power, was switched on by minerals and energy minister Buyelwa Sonjica, in Darling, Western Cape on Friday, the Central Energy Fund (CEF) said. The R75-million national demonstration project is the first "green energy" initiative in the country to produce electricity from wind power on a commercial basis - this coming against the backdrop of the national energy emergency, it said in a statement.

The wind farm, which has four wind turbines, can supply 5,2 megawatts of electricity. All the electricity produced will be sold to the City of Cape Town as part of a long-term power purchase agreement. "South Africa with its ample coastline has a potential for major electricity generation from wind," said Hermann Oelsner, CEO of Darling Wind Power.

He said support schemes for renewable energy being developed, could play a significant role in South Africa's power supply - while also reducing harmful emissions that contributed to global warming. "The country has the potential to generate electricity from wind, in excess of its current total national power consumption, and without the harmful effects of fossil fuel and nuclear-powered generation plants," Oelsner said.

The project was developed by a group consisting of private developers, including Darling Independent Power Producer (Darlipp), CEF and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). A portion of the funding was provided as a grant by the Danish International Development Assistance programme of the Danish government.

Gas power station announced

Hunter Valley News
Wednesday 28/5/2008 Page: 3

THE gas pipeline from Queensland to Newcastle, which will run through Murrurundi, Scone, Muswellbrook and Singleton,has taken a leap forward. The missing link in the east Australian gas network will be built after an agreement was reached for Queensland Hunter Gas Pipeline (QHGP) to transport gas for a proposed major new gas fired power station in NSW. QHGP managing director Garbis Simonian said the pipeline will transport 50 petajoules of gas a year for 20 years for the 400 to 600 megawatt power station, proposed by Queensland Gas Company, ANZ Infrastructure Services Ltd and Toyota Tsusho Corporation.

"This is approximately one-third of the pipeline's ultimate capacity," Mr Simonian said. The privately-funded QHGP will transport coal seam gas collected in the southern central Queensland fields to Newcastle, through an 820km underground natural gas pipeline. It will be the third major gas supply into NSW. "The $850 million QHGP will provide greater security of gas supply to NSW and deliver gas to some areas where it has not been available," Mr Simonian said. "The pipeline will provide additional gas supplies to the Newcastle and Hunter Valley region, helping to create more competitive pricing and choice for consumers in the NSW energy market.

"It will also limit the possibility of gas curtailment during weather extremes in NSW or when systems fail in the existing supply routes." The company said new power station development would supply electricity to between 320,000 and 500,000 homes and provide major environmental benefits, including producing fewer greenhouse gases and using 90 per cent less water than existing coal-fired power stations in NSW. The location of the new power station is the subject of further discussion between its proponents and government authorities.

Turn unwanted gas into electricity: Methane power called for desal

Gold Coast Sun
Wednesday 4/6/2008 Page: 10

Tallebudgera inventor Peter McKinlay says backers of a wind farm off the southern Gold Coast to help power the Tugun desalination plant have turned up their noses at a more effective power-generating wind' - methane. Mr McKinlav says the gas is so plentiful it presents a disposal problem for the Gold Coast City Council but the wind farm backer, the Queensland Conservation Council, is not interested.

He said the quantity of methane was growing with the booming population. "A friend of mine has had to design a special manhole cover to stop the methane smell," he said. "But that created another problem with the lids in danger of popping off because of the increased pressure in the pipes." After installing the sealed manhole covers, the council has had to build eight to 12-metre high vents to disperse the methane.

Mr McKinlay's backing company, DaS Energy Pty Ltd, wants the State Government to spend $4 million developing methane powered heat pump technology which it says could generate large quantities of electricity. "We are not asking for funds for a feasibility study like Queensland Conservation Council, but an actual working green-power generator needing no more wind speed than a fart," he said. "It's odd that when asked to back DaS, the Queensland Conservation Council said 'no that's not us'." Mr MCKinlay said Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke had done all he could to help his proposal and it was now up to the State Government to get on board.

Plan to turn trees to fuel

Weekly Times
Wednesday 4/6/2008 Page: 27

A LEADING academic has a grand plan to feed Australia's hunger for fuel, which could also revitalise regional areas. It involves planting 50 million hectares of private farmland to trees and shrubs by 2050, which would account for nearly 7 per cent of Australia's land mass. The biomass from the trees and shrubs would be used to produce carbon neutral biofuel, which could provide fuel security, reduce emissions and give rural communities a boost.

And the biomass could be processed locally, in regional community owned plants. The man with the idea is former CSIRO futures analyst, and now adjunct research fellow with Charles Sturt University, Barney Foran. He sees planting annual crops for biofuels as the wrong way to go, but said Australia needed to relook at how it used its land resources. Mr Foran said that to keep the Australian economy growing to 2050, the nation would need liquid fuels produced from wood biomass.

He said biofuels produced from wood had the advantage of being carbon neutral. Mr Foran said he was confident Australia could develop a system where farmers could grow the biomass, with regional plants all over Australia to produce the biofuel. The technology is there, it just needs further development," he said. "We've been submerged in petrol for so long it (new technology) hasn't had the chance." While Mr Forads idea is based on using existing farming land, he said he did not rule out using other areas, such as crown land.

"I'm not talking about old-growth forests or going into the middle of a national park, but there are large areas of state forests that could be considered - we need to look at all options if we are going to lower our greenhouse emissions." Mr Foran said revenue from potential carbon taxes on industry could be reinvested by government, to help farmers pay for the establishment costs of planting trees and shrubs.

'You could look at the managed investment schemes, which are rife all over the country, and those where farmers with plantations (leased) are paid annually," he said. "That is one way that farmers could get paid for planting the trees and have an annual income,'' he said.

Wind farm in pipeline

Weekly Times
Wednesday 4/6/2008 Page: 30

PLANS are afoot to build one of the world's biggest wind farms in Victoria's central highlands. If approved. Wind Power Pty Ltd's proposed Stockyard Hill Wind Farm, 45km west of Ballarat, could have up to 370 turbines and produce enough power for 20 per cent of Melbourne's homes. Wind Power engineer and community consultant Ross Richards said the company was waiting for the results of a study into the project's potential impact on local Brolga populations.

A spokesman for Energy and Resources Minister Peter Batchelor said the Victorian Government supported the project. "Victoria is well placed to help the Federal Government reach its renewable energy target and this project could feed into that mix." the spokesman said. Mr Richards said the project had gained good community support with more than 60 landowners signing on. The project would be the biggest in Australia and "would be good for everyone", he said.

He said the wind farm could produce up to 550-600 megawatts a year, equivalent to 20 per cent of Melbourne's domestic needs. However. Landscape Guardians national and Victorian president Randall Bell said the project had divided the community and opposition to it was solid. Mr Bell said windfarms were unreliable, uneconomic and inefficient and.. you should not sacrifice precious land for something so futile and useless''.

"It needs to be constantly backed up," he said. ''And this backup comes from massive greenhouse emitters.'' If the project gets through the feasibility stage it will be referred to the Planning Minister, who will determine whether the project requires an environmental effects statement.

Hydro power plan

Townsville Bulletin
Wednesday 4/6/2008 Page: 11

THE new man in charge of the Burdekin Falls Dam says a hydroelectric power station for the dam could soon be viable. Peter Boettcher is the new CEO of SunWater since the retirement of Peter Noonan last year. Sunwater has for several years been considering a proposal to construct a hydroelectric power station for the dam. The plan is for the station to be powered by dam water Sunwater releases for irrigation customers and by water flowing over the spillway.

About 986,000 megalitres of water a day poured over the spillway walls during heavy rain earlier this year. The proposed station would generate about 30MW of renewable energy and power 19,000 homes. Mr Boettcher said investigations were continuing into the feasibility and viability of such a station - and it could depend on whether the Burdekin Falls Dam wall can be raised to increase its capacity.

The State Government says a 2m increase in the height of the Burdekin wall would cost about $65 million. Our expectation is that with an ever increasing trend toward green energy, the construction of hydropower stations on dams will become more viable," Mr Boettcher said. The new CEO said he wanted SunWater to extend its services into the treatment of wastewater throughout regional Queensland. "As regional Queensland's leading bulk water supplier, it makes good sense for us to become more involved in this area of water management for regional and remote councils," Mr Boettcher said.

"I also see SunWater continuing to build its water supply relationship with the growing industrial community spread throughout regional Queensland." He saw a need to concentrate the corporation's efforts on the state's water shortage. "SunWater is actively investigating water supply solutions to overcome immediate water shortage and sustainability issues," he said. "We are heavily involved in water infrastructure investigation and development which will enable the future growth of regional Queensland."

Greenhouse cuts

Daily Mercury
Wednesday 4/6/2008 Page: 2

TOKYO: Japan's capital, Tokyo, is preparing to force industry to make big cuts in greenhouse gases, an official said yesterday, taking the lead in a country struggling to meet its Kyoto Protocol obligations. Tokyo's outspoken governor, Shintaro Ishihara, decided to go it alone and create Japan's first emissions cap system, an idea that has met resistance among some in industry and the central government.

"Tokyo will target reducing greenhouse gas emission by a total of 25% by 2020 from the 2000 level," Katsunori Yano, an official at Tokyo's environment bureau, said. Ishihara's administration informed the Tokyo assembly, which is dominated by the governor's supporters, about its plan. "The proposal will be submitted to the assembly on June 10, the day the next session opens," Yano said.

Under a "cap-and-trade" system starting in 2010, the Tokyo government would require major businesses to reduce carbon emissions while creating an economic incentive by allowing the trade of emissions credits, Yano said. Once approved, Ishihara wants Tokyo to join the International Carbon Action Partnership, a group of countries and regions with mandatory cap and trade systems. The move by Tokyo - which with 13 million people is one of the world's largest cities - is reminiscent of action taken by California.

Tuesday 10 June 2008

Sitting on a hot goldmine

Geelong Advertiser
Tuesday 3/6/2008 Page: 26

Geelong could top an international list of cities sitting on geothermal goldmines, backing up claims of a local exploration firm. Greenearth Energy has announced an independent consultant's report ranking the greater Melbourne area as the number one in the world for hot energy below its surface. And if early data is correct, the Geelong area could provide one sixth of the state's base load energy consumption.

Greenearth last year won the exploration rights to hunt for hot rocks hundreds of metres beneath the Geelong and Gippsland areas which could, hopefully, be harnessed for electricity generation. Yesterday the company announced to the Australian Securities Exchange that the Melbourne area ranked above Madrid, Sydney, Mexico City, Paris, Berlin and Beijing for hot rock potential. geothermal energy consultancy Hot Dry Rocks conducted the report, taking data from a 100km radius of 40 international cities that were part of the C40 climate change leadership group.

Greenearth said the study revealed data in the Geelong area as "some of the highest values publicly reported in Australia" and comparable to the red centre's Cooper Basin where many geothermal digs were being conducted. Company executive director Rob King said the technology could ultimately replace the need for coal burning which was as much as 1000 megawatts. "It is feasible that a clean geothermal plant south of Geelong could easily replace the electricity presently produced by the coalburning Anglesea power plant," he said.

"Although there's a long way to go yet, we are excited about the results of the study and we are looking forward to accessing drilling capital next year from the Renewable Energy Fund to further evaluate these resources." Greenearth said the study showed the Geelong area revealed "hot dry rock" energy potential from buried granite and "hot wet rock" from deep aquifers in sandstone.

The data showed buried granite under the central Geelong, Lara, Winchelsea, Fyansford and Werribee areas. Areas of potential geothermal interest lay beneath Anglesea, Breamlea and Moriac. The resources firm, which is a joint venture between Victoria Petroleum and Lakes Oil, no doubt welcomed the timely report amid a downwardly-mobile share price since its February float. Yesterday Greenearth Energy shares closed steady at 0.12 cents.

Santos pushes the gas envelope

Wednesday 4/6/2008 Page: 5

UNCONVENTIONAL sources of natural gas, such as coal seam and shale, are likely to increase their contribution to supplies of the fuel, according to oil and gas producer Santos. These forms of gas made up about a third of the US's annual gas consumption and would become more important in Asia, Santos acting chief executive David Knox said yesterday at an investor briefing. Santos could book its first unconventional gas resources this year, said Rick Wilkinson, vice-president of Santos' commercial operations.

Gas demand in eastern Australia might more than double in the next decade, driven by the introduction of carbon trading and the start-up of liquefied natural gas export projects in Queensland, Santos said. Rising consumption would boost prices, said the company, which operates the Cooper Basin project, Australia's biggest onshore source of gas.

This price increase will drive conventional reserves and unconventional resources growth in the Cooper Basin," Mr Wilkinson said at the investor briefing. "It's not just a coal seam gas story. We've got a fantastic footprint to take advantage of that." The Cooper Basin could hold up to 7 trillion cubic feet of unconventional gas, Mr Wilkinson said. Santos shares gained 0.9% to $21.92 yesterday but fell back to close unchanged for the day at $21.77.

The company said in a presentation lodged with the stock exchange that Santos could have stakes in four LNG ventures by 2020: at Gladstone, in Queensland; the Conoco-Phillips operated plant in Darwin; the Browse Basin off the north-west coast; and at the Exxon Mobil-operated Papua New Guinea project. The four ventures could provide Santos with net LNG output of as much as 10.3 million tonnes a year by the end of the next decade, it said.

Santos last week agreed to sell a 40% stake in coal seam gas assets and the proposed Gladstone LNG project to Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Bhd for $2.51 billion. The sale, assuming it takes effect on August 31, would reduce forecast 2008 output by about 500,000 barrels of oil equivalent, cutting the full-year production target to 55.5-57.5 million barrels, Santos said in the presentation. It would also trim Santos' forecast capital expenditure this year by $75 million to $1.425 billion it said.

Extra $8m for solar powered Wayville

Adelaide Advertiser
Wednesday 4/6/2008 Page: 12

AN $8 million State Government injection into a solar power project at the Wayville Showground will create the largest rooftop solar installation in Australia, Premier Mike Rann says. The new $42 million Goyder Pavilion at the showground is being built with $35 million of funding from the former Coalition federal government. The 26,000sq m pavilion replaces Centennial Hall, which was pulled down last year. Mr Rann and Royal Show chief executive John Rothwell yesterday said the $8 million of state funding would pay for 10,000sqm of solar panels, rather than the previously planned 100sgm.

The photovoltaic solar plant will power the new pavilion and a third of the showground, cutting its annual $200,000 power bill by about 40 per cent, Royal Show president Charlie Downer said. The rooftop solar installation will be five times larger than Australia's next biggest, at Melbourne's Victoria Markets. Adelaide Airport's rooftop solar plant would now be the third largest in Australia.

Mr Rann said once installed, the showgrounds' 1000 kilowatt system would generate 1400 megawatt hours of electricity a year, equivalent to the average electricity consumption of 200 houses. Mr Rann and Mr Downer said aside from the economic benefits, the solar project was about "making a big environmental statement." The Premier said SA was "leading the way" in green energy.

Next year, SA will "reach its target of 20 per cent of our power coming from either wind or solar power", Mr Rann said. "That's five years ahead of target and a target that critics said when we first announced it was unachievable." But Opposition Leader Martin Hamilton-Smith accused Mr Rann of "gross hypocrisy", pointing out that from July 1 the Government would cut solar hot water rebates.

Greens MP Mark Parnell called on the Premier to "stop his empty renewable energy spin", saying: "Virtually all the solar and wind power produced in SA is bought, paid for and consumed by people interstate."

Plan to keep wind farms 2km away from homes

Northern Daily Leader
Tuesday 3/6/2008 Page: 4

Glen Innes Severn Council has adopted a development control plan (DCP) for wind farms restricting the proximity of turbines to residences. The move was the result of a growing interest in the area for wind borne technologies, currently highlighted by two major wind farm projects in the Glen Innes Local Government Area lodged with the Department of Planning. The DCP was formally adopted at council's ordinary meeting on May 22 and will help ensure council has some policy to control or guide such developments now and in the future.

Mayor Steve Tours said the biggest issue the DCP set guidelines for was the setback distance for unrelated houses from turbines. "The two kilometres setback was a benchmark set up by other councils but certainly takes into account noise and aesthetic studies," he said. "Obviously there are rules in place but there is a certain amount of controversy with how noise affects residents. "The scale of these towers is rather higher than normal at 125 to 130 metres but we felt 2km to be a reasonable benchmark." However, Cr Toms pointed out the DCP would only apply to proposals that were not of State significance.

"Those projects currently with the department are deemed of State significance and the minister is the consent authority for them but certainly council is able to advise the minister and put forward any concerns of the community," he said. Cr Toms said attendance at the council meeting was up on usual. "I'm sure that was the result of the DCP being on the agenda and certainly people are pretty interested in this issue." he said.

"It is important to remember the DCP is supportive of renewable energy and we believe it is something that does need to happen but it must be balanced against the impacts it will have on the community." Dr Ashley Peake spoke at the meeting on behalf of concerned residents in the Furracabad and Matheson valleys - the proposed site for a 27-turbine wind farm - in favour of the DCP.

"We are gathered here to support the council's development of its DCP for wind power generation and to support council's adoption of the amended plan today," he said. "There were, I understand no public submissions opposing the DCP and in particular no opposition to the propose 2km turbine setback from neighbouring residences." Dr Peake's said the residents' only concern was that the wording of the DCP referred to "future" wind farms suggesting the policy would not apply to wind farms currently on the drawing board.

He suggested the removal of the word "future" from the DCP - an amendment that was made during the adoption of the plan. It was also moved a copy of the DCP be forwarded to the minister and director general of the Department of planning as well as Member for Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay. Mr Torbay said he would work with council and the community on their submission opposing the proposed development as it stood.

Govt backing down on renewable energy: academic

AAP Newswire
Sunday 1/6/2008

CANBERRA, June 1 AAP - The Rudd government has been accused of neglecting to set aside money for renewable energy. Treasurer Wayne Swan has been criticised for a budget decision to means test the $8,000 rebate for installing solar energy panels. But that's just one of several blows to the renewable energy sector, University of New South Wales (UNSW) senior lecturer Mark Diesendorf says.

"Even worse is the government's inexplicable refusal to allocate anything in 2008-09 from the much-vaunted Renewable Energy Fund ($500 million over six years)," Dr Diesendorf said in a statement. "Yet the Clean Coal Fund ($500 million over eight years) will pay out $35 million in 2008-09. "This suggests a bias against renewable energy compared with coal." Dr Diesendorf, from the university's Institute of Environmental Studies, said there were serious problems with the government's decision to match $1 for every $2 contributed by industry to both funds.

"It's straightforward for the coal industry to raise $1 billion by placing a small levy on each tonne of coal and so claim the full $500 million from the government," he said. "But it could be an impossible task for the fledgling renewable energy industries to raise $1 billion. "If so, the Renewable Energy Fund is a feel-good illusion that may never be fully spent. Voters may well conclude that the Rudd government has violated an implicit promise to them." Voters would be disappointed in the policy backdown when they preferred Labor's stance on renewable energy at the previous election, he said.

Big greenhouse gas emitting industries appeared to have gained the same level of influence over the Rudd government as they had over the former Howard government. geothermal drilling was the only renewable energy source to be allocated specific budget funding, Dr Diesendorf said. "Yet efficient energy use, solar power and second-generation biofuels all need urgent research funding to enable Australia to respond to the combined threats of global warming and peak oil with a broad mix of technologies," he said.

Monday 9 June 2008

Firms in a fog over emissions scheme

Canberra Times
Friday 30/5/2008 Page: 22

With just over a month to go until Australia's mandatory carbon emissions reporting scheme comes into force, heads of business remain confused about its requirements. From July 1, the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 requires business to begin collecting mandatory information about their output of greenhouse gas emissions and their production and consumption of energy. PriceWaterhouseCoopers director Sean Lucy said he expected many Australian business would be caught unaware by the mandatory reporting requirements.

Although business must begin collecting the information from July, the filing of data does not have to occur until August 2009. "Some people are going to play catch-up... because they won't have given it the attention it deserved," he said yesterday during the National Emissions Trading Summit in Sydney. A recent PriceWaterhouseCoopers study indicated that 67 per cent of business leaders were concerned about regulatory obligations regarding greenhouse emissions.

A separate survey conducted on behalf of carbon consultancy Carbon Planet found 76 per cent of chief financial officers had only a fair or poor understanding of carbon emissions reporting. About 700 Australian companies, such as electricity generators, coal mining companies and large manufacturers, and 1700 sites, such as power stations, coal mines and manufacturing plants, will have to report emissions under the Act or face prosecution.

The data collected under Act is a key plank of the Federal Government's emissions trading system, to begin in 2010. Mr Lucy said an emissions trading system would be one of the key drivers for business change, but many business leaders were slow to understand the opportunities and risks. Businesses must be prepared for higher costs as new products were introduced, as well as effects on share price and risk to brand and reputation.

"The financial impact for a business is not the price of carbon, it will be the extent to which it can pass the cost on to the consumer," he said. "A key thing any business has to do is understand what their emissions profile might be and what their costs associated with that might be." Although many details for Emissions Trading Scheme were yet to be developed, such as legislation and accounting and taxation requirements, businesses could still take action, he said.

In the 2008-09 financial year, businesses should set emissions reduction targets and forecast their carbon growth scenarios. He urged businesses and price carbon into their investment decisions. Some clarity on the emissions trading system design will be provided when a Government green paper is issued in July. Department of Climate Change assistant secretary Anthea Harris said the paper would include several preferred positions. Ms Harris said,". It will be one of the greatest economic reforms we have ever seen."

Funds flowing to geothermal

Monday 2/6/2008 Page: 6

THE Rudd Government has begun to improve its budget funding for clean energy technologies by redirecting up to $20 million from solar this year so it can kickstart Australia's fledgling geothermal industry. Resources Minister Martin Ferguson will borrow money from the Government's $150 million energy innovation fund to help fledgling hot rocks companies drill expensive pilot wells up to 5km deep to explore massive reservoirs of underground heat. A number of hot rocks companies are relying on the funding promised during last year's election campaign so they can begin work on drilling wells, which can cost up to $15 million each.

While last month's budget honoured the promised funding to come out of the Government's $400 million renewable energy fund, it did not kick off until the 2009-10 financial year. The industry quickly pointed out the oversight, and Australian geothermal Energy Association chief executive Susan Jeanes last night welcomed the decision. It would have been really disappointing, with all the emphasis on bringing large-scale technology, to have stalled the geothermal industry," she said.

Ms Jeanes said the geothermal industry had been tracking potential opposition from solar technology researchers, who will have some of their funding for this year delayed, but this did not appear to pose a problem. However, the solar panel industry is still lobbying for changes to the Government's budget announcement that the generous $8000 rebate for new photovoltaic cells would be means-tested at $100,000. Members of the solar industry met Environment Minister Peter Garrett and other representatives last Thursday, but are no closer to brokering a compromise to the changes they claim have caused their industry almost to collapse.

Mr Ferguson said the Government's decision would help bring large-scale geothermal energy a step closer to reality. "Following consultation with industry it has become clear there are a number of very promising geothermal projects now ready to move to the proof of- concept drilling stage, and this is very good news," he said. "With drilling assistance from the Australian Government, it is hoped these projects will advance and become part of the solution to climate change and Australia's long-term energy security."

Capturing gas makes good of a bad by-product

Weekend Australian
Saturday 31/5/2008 Page: 4

THIS month enough clean energy to power 5000 homes was commissioned at Sydney's Eastern Creek waste management facility. Five 1.1MW engines which convert greenhouse gases escaping from landfill at Eastern Creek into power that can be sold on to the national grid were switched on.

When we think clean energy, images of pristine Australian landscapes dotted, with glimmering solar cells, resplendent windmills or the dramatic beauty of a hydro-electric power station spring to mind. But a vital and significant contribution to clean energy production comes from reprocessing degradable household and commercial waste.

It is a vital contribution, because the landfill gas captured to make this electricity is up to 60 per cent methane. And methane gas has a global warming potential 25 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide, according to a report prepared for the Total Environment Centre in 2007. Left to leak unchecked into the atmosphere, landfill gases account for more than 3 per cent of Australia's carbon emissions. By 2050 when emissions targets have been introduced, landfill gas will account for 20 per cent of our national carbon budget - or up to 80 per cent, depending on the targets agreed.

What is more, every tonne of degradable waste material - food scraps, wood, paper, garden waste = sent to landfill today will still be producing harmful greenhouse gases in 2050. It is a significant contribution because, according to figures from the Clean Energy Council, energy production from methane gas collected at landfill sites around Australia currently has the capacity to provide baseload electricity to power as many as 128,000 Australian households.

The Eastern Creek initiative is a joint venture between LBS Generation Pty Ltd and WSN Environmental Services, a company owned by the "NSW State Government but incorporated in 2001. Phase two of the project, due to complete in 2014, will see. another 1.1MW engine brought online.

According to CEO Ken Kanofski, converting these gases into energy that can be sold at a profit is sound commercial practice and an appropriate response to a changing market in waste management. "Right now, energy and sales of anything else recoverable from the waste process accounts for up to 10 per cent of our income, but this is changing", says Kanofski, who believes that the industry will shift its dependence on the fee councils pay to have their waste removed, to earnings from the sale of whatever can be recovered, recycled or processed into something new.

Energy is one of these recoverables, and in a carbon restricted economy, clean energy is set to become an increasingly valuable. commodity. "Once, we sold the right to extract landfill gas to third parties. Now we are looking at taking a more direct and active role in energy. production as it becomes a more core part of our business", says Kanofski. The collection of methane gas from existing landfill is a commercial activity with limited timeframe, however.

International approaches to waste management include a complete banning of putrescible wastes (the ones that rot down and release methane) in landfill in Europe, and in Australia state governments are increasingly seeing landfill as a waste-management solution of last resort. The longer-term vision must be to decrease the amount of landfill and to process the waste in a different manner, says Kanofski.

With this in mind, WSN Environmental Services has developed two alternative-waste technology plants in the greater Sydney region, including the Macarthur Resource Recovery Park to open this year. This $50 million facility at Lacks Gully in Sydney's south-west will process the waste of four area councils: Campbelltown, Camden, Wollondilly and Wingecarribee under a 15-year contractual arrangement.

Gas capture and energy production will be part of the plant's remit The Macarthur Resource Recovery Park will use anaerobic digestion, which is the biological breakdown of carbon active materials in the absence of oxygen. The proprietary process selected by WSN has been developed by an Israeli company, ArrowBio. It includes the sorting of waste, the removal of recyclable materials, and then the anaerobic digestion of any carbon active material in an enclosed system.

WSN projects that within a year of operation the Macarthur Resource Recovery Park will be producing enough energy to power 2500 homes a year, and stop up to, 23,000 tonnes of greenhouse, gas emissions annually. Macarthur Resource Recovery Park will be WSN's second alternative waste management facility, and the second anaerobic digestor in operation in Australia..

The first, UR-3R (Urban Resources Reduction, Recovery and Recycling) a joint venture with Global Renewables at Eastern Creek also owned by WSN, was established in 2004. Anaerobic digestion of waste products to produce fuel is not unique to WSN facilities. Visy Pulp and Paper produces' biogas waste from its paper making plant at Gibson Island, Queensland. This is converted to clean energy and used directly to power part of its plant.

Solar rebate rule threatens project

Yarra Ranges Journal
Tuesday 27/5/2008 Page: 4

SEVERAL people have already withdrawn from a Dandenong Ranges solar panel project after the Federal Government announced an income cut-off for the rebate. The Federal Government's $8000 solar power rebate will be available to households earning less than $100,000 a year. Dandenong Ranges Renewable Energy Association president Peter Cook said the income cut-off would affect the DRREA's project to install solar panels in 150 households in three Yarra Ranges neighbourhoods.

"It's already meant several people have had to withdraw from the project. "We could have done three neighbourhoods; now we might be lucky to do two." Mr Cook said it was a big setback for renewable energy. "It's a disaster for the solar industry. "Most people who can afford to install the solar panels would have to have an income of more than $100,000 [and] now they won't be able to do it.

"People who wanted to do the right thing by the community and the environment won't be able to. If the Government wants to get its credibility back, it needs to increase the means test to $150,000 to stop copping flak from people like me." In media reports last week, Environment Minister Peter Garrett said the Government believed in solar power and wanted to see its use grow.

"We've got programs now, including this solar rebate program, which will ensure that there is enough demand in the Australian community in the long-term to get solar panels on the roof, to get solar hot water systems in houses and to make sure that we can continue to build a sustainable solar industry into the long-term." Mr Garrett rejected suggestions the decision to means test the solar panel rebate would destroy the industry.

Solar panel limit draws some heat

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Friday 30/5/2008 Page: 19

The solar panel industry has begun laying off staff because of widespread cancellations of orders following the Federal Government's decision to means test the $8000 rebate for residential panels. The rebate is now only available to households with a combined income of $100,000 or below. The industry estimates about three-quarters of the people who place orders for the systems earn above that amount.

The industry has appealed to Environment Minister Peter Garrett to scrap the means test or at least raise the income threshold. Meanwhile, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has denied claims by the Greens and the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) that the Government misinterpreted an ATA survey which was used to assist with its means-test decision.

Pulse racing ahead with Chinese energy projects

Courier Mail
Friday 30/5/2008 Page: 44

Pulse Energy has fewer than 10 full-time staff but that hasn't stopped it securing a contract for one of the biggest renewable energy projects in the world. The Brisbane-based company, owned by the Weis family, took part in a Queensland Leaders small business mentoring program last year where fast growing businesses get first-hand advice from big listed companies. It was paired with Macarthur Coal even though the two come from opposing ends of the environmental spectrum.

Pulse Energy is committed to projects that slash greenhouse gas emissions, while burning coal is a big cause of climate change that scientists say means worsened drought and more severe storms for Australia. However the two companies' growth aspirations are the same. "We see big similarities," says Pulse Energy business development director Damien Weis. "Up to about a year and a half ago, Macarthur was running with about 12 people and most operations were outsourced.

We've got about eight within the company and we outsource a lot but that's probably going to change especially given our growth in China." About 90 per cent of Pulse's activity is in China where, among about $3 billion of contracts, it is working on a 1000 megawatt wind farm in inner Mongolia. Mr Weis says it is "probably on a par with any of the largest renewable energy projects going on in the world at the moment."

"It's been hugely helpful to talk with Macarthur on issues they faced in turning from a small company into a billion-dollar company by developing some large projects. It's helped structure our thoughts about deals," Mr Weis said. Pulse Energy has set aside plans for a market listing and is instead working with some large financial investors. "As we get closer to 2009 we may look at a public listing as the markets pull themselves into gear and there are better opportunities," Mi Weis said.

For now the focus is China where it has contracts to build and run renewable energy plants including about 20 wind farms, three hydroelectric stations and four methane power plants. China had policies to push projects such as wind power whereas coal was so cheap in Australia it made it harder to make those decisions here, he said. Queensland Leaders 2008-09 program is looking for 15 "hungry, fast-growing companies" like Pulse Energy.