Friday 29 August 2008

Wind power blows into town

Northern Guardian
Wednesday 13/8/2008 Page: 3

Carnarvon is now officially part of the sustainable energy industry. The wind turbine started churning last Thursday at Solex Solar Farm. Solar farm owner and operator Lex Fullarton, who pioneered the solar industry in Carnarvon and largely responsible for an increasing number of Carnarvonites installing solar panels at their homes, said he believes the Gascoyne has the best natural environment in the world for generating sustainable energy.

"With the amount of sunshine and we receive here, the potential for us becoming a hub of solar and wind energy production is enormous," Mr Fullarton said. After only 12 hours in operation, Mr Fullarton said the turbine wasn't producing as much energy as he'd hoped, but said he would wait before making a true assessment.

"After a few months I should be able to provide a more accurate picture of the potential for further development," Mr Fullarton said. The State government has allocated $68 million for a new power station in the Gascoyne, and a percentage of energy produced at the new station must come from renewable sources. Installation of wind turbines at Coral Bay a year ago means the town is powered in large part by wind energy.

Giant wind farms for South Burnett Residents support 1.2b proposal

Courier Mail
Thursday 14/8/2008 Page: 21

THE South Burnett is poised to become home to the biggest wind farm in the southern hemisphere with developers ramping up plans for the $1.2 billion facility following successful tests and community consultation. The Coopers Gap Wind Farm, proposed for the Bilboa and Cooranga North region almost midway between Kingaroy and Dalby will consist of up to 252 wind turbine generators spread over 10 large grazing properties, producing enough power for 320,000 homes.

The developers international specialist banking group Investec Bank (Australia) working in conjunction with CSIRO-established Windlab Systems will lodge a development application for the project with both Dalby and South Burnett regional councils by the end of this month. This follows the finalisation of feasibility studies and positive feedback from stakeholder and community consultation.

Unlike other parts of Australia where wind farms have generated ongoing protests, the South Burnett community is welcoming the Coopers Gap project with open arms. Richard Castellari from Investec's project development team said yesterday that about 200 locals attended an open day last weekend to showcase the scheme. "In general there was overwhelming support for the project and no real negative comments," he said. Dalby Mayor Ray Brown said he spotted only one protester at last weekend's open day "and it was a woman who wanted a wind turbine on her property too".

Cr Brown said that with landholders getting tax deductible compensation to the tune of $10,000 per turbine annually, some farmers with up to 50 towers on their farm could be boosting their bottom lines by about $500,000 a year. Cr Brown said because of the isolated nature of the site, noise was not a big issue, with the closest homes to a turbine still being 750-900m away.

He said the two councils' assessment of the project would centre on excising 40m x 40m square separate titles from the overall wind farm footprint on rural properties and ensuring legislation was in place for the titles to revert back to their origins if the project did not proceed or it closed down in the future.

Ian Sinnamon, who expects to have about a third of the turbines on his 4050ha Niagara Road property, said a wind farm was "the most basic common sense thing you could think of'. The turbines will be about 135m high to the tip of the 52m blades with a rotor diameter of 104m. Electricity generated from each turbine will be transmitted to a central substation next to major power lines that run through the site and connect to the grid.

Investec has said the wind farm would reduce green house gas emissions by up to 2.2 million tonnes a year. Pending development approval, work could start on the wind farm late next year with turbine installation in mid to late 2010 and commissioning by 2011.

Solar power retail windfall

Adelaide Advertiser
Thursday 14/8/2008 Page: 30

ENVIRONMENT REPORTER TWO electricity retailers are reaping a $350,000 annual windfall after they stopped paying households for power generated by rooftop solar panel systems. Greens MLC Mark Parnell has launched an online petition to force Origin Energy and AGL to continue paying for electricity produced by South Australian households. If unsuccessful, he has vowed to introduce legislation to ensure residents who install solar panels are rewarded for their environmental efforts.

Before July 1, the two power companies paid between 16c and 24c per kilowatt hour to customers for the excess power they fed into the grid from their solar panels. Since then, their customers only receive a new 44c kW/h tariff paid by ETSA Utilities. TRUEnergy passes on the 44c tariff as well as its 20c for each kW/h of electricity, totalling 64c.

Mr Parnell said retailers were saving at least $350,000 a year in payments to customers by not purchasing the estimated 2.2 gigawatts of electricity produced by domestic solar panel systems in SA. He said the more electricity companies source from solar panels, the less they have to source on the wholesale market. "Households doing the right thing by investing in solar cells are being dudded, and ordinary South Australians, who are paying extra to fund the feed-in scheme, have every right to be angry," Mr Parnell said.

"The feed-in incentive should be on top of, not replace, what the electricity retailers were already paying. Otherwise, SA electricity consumers are effectively paying almost half of the feed-in benefit directly to the big end of town, not to the householder with panels." He it was unfair that customers who bought GreenPower from retailers paid extra for the emission- free electricity, yet retailers paid nothing for household solar energy. He has written to the Essential Services Commission to ask them to investigate the issue.

Cue the sun: polluters back a solar system

Sydney Morning Herald
Wednesday 13/8/2008 Page: 6

A PROPOSAL to build the world's biggest solar energy station in the outback within three years has been backed by some of the nation's biggest polluters, including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Woodside Petroleum. The solar thermal plant would generate 250 megawatts of electricity at peak times, enough to power about 100,000 households, at a start-up cost of almost $1 billion.

Despite the ambitious timeline, a site for the giant plant is yet to be selected. The consultancy group WorleyParsons is looking at desert areas in western NSW, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland as part of a feasability study, with a firm decision expected by the end of the year. "When you take into account carbon permits and future energy needs, it really makes sense," said Peter Meurs, managing director of the sustainability branch of WorleyParsons.

"There's a lot of tangible activity going on in terms of the study and the interest coming from all the parties. With that interest we're confident that things will go ahead. We've got two players that very much want to move into bankable feasibility immediately and we've been encouraged by that." High temperatures and near cloudless skies at Geraldton in Western Australia make it the most likely site, but Mr Meurs insisted there had been strong interest from other states, including NSW.

Along with BHP Woodside and Rio, the study is being funded by Delta Energy, Fortescue Metals, Wesfarmers Resources, Verve Energy, Western Power and the Water Corporation of WA. WorleyParsons said a string of up to 33 plants of comparable size could be built around the country by 2020, the date by which the Federal Government plans to source one-fifth of Australia's electricity from renewable sources. On that scale, solar energy would provide 10 per cent of Australia's energy needs. At the moment, less than 1 per cent is generated by solar means.

The optimism is based on the use of solar thermal technology in other countries. Parabolic troughs, or curved mirrors, concentrate sunlight to heat oil pipes to 400 degrees. The heated oil is used to boil water, generating steam that would spin turbines.

Energy can be saved for a rainy day by storing heat in molten salt, though WorleyParsons is planning for stations that mainly supply power at peak daylight times and rely on coal for baseload power. The first plant would cover a field two kilometres by three (600 hectares) with mirrors. A range of industry experts and stakeholders said the proposal was achievable but its profitability would rely on the Federal Government's commitment to a renewable energy target and the introduction of carbon trading by 2010.

"Three years does sound very ambitious, and it will depend on the renewable energy target," said Irena Bukhshtaber, a spokeswoman for the Clean Energy Council. "It's actually a reflection of the fact that there has been such a long stagnation of these issues that there are so many new competitors suddenly coming in now." The Greens said the plans showed "Australia can be the Saudi Arabia of solar". They also renewed their calls for government funding to be directed towards renewable energy rather than "clean coal," or carbon sequestration.

Thursday 28 August 2008

WorleyParsons warms to sun power

Wednesday 13/8/2008 Page: 3

AUSTRALIA could house 34 solar thermal power stations by 2020, according to the country's largest engineering company, Wesfarmers, which plans to build the world's largest solar thermal power plant by 2011. Wesfarmers' news and the release of its profit result - a 53% jump in full-year profit, in line with market expectations - lifted its shares $1.23, or almost 4%, to $34.68. Net profit rose to $343.9 million in the year to June 30 from $224.8 million previously.

Peter Meurs, managing director of Wesfarmers' EcoNomics unit, said the company was undertaking a study, funded by resources giants including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Woodside Energy, Wesfarmers Resources and Fortescue Metals, to find potential sites for its first 250-megawatt solar thermal power station, theoretically enough to power 100,000 houses. Mr Meurs said the company wanted to deliver 40% of Australia's renewable energy needs via solar thermal power by 2020.

Solar thermal energy harnesses solar energy to heat oil or water to produce steam, which is then converted into electricity. It differs from solar photovoltaics, the technology being used by Solar Systems for its $420 million, 154-megawatt power station near Mildura, which uses solar radiation to generate electricity directly.

"Photovoltaics have their place but it doesn't make commercial sense on a utility scale," Mr Meurs said. "Ours is a much lower cost per megawatt with thermal solar and because thermal solar allows heat storage... we can produce power into the evening and in the early morning." Mr Meurs said he felt there was no need to wait until the study was completed before announcing the company's plans, saying Australia was ideal for setting up solar energy.

"The desert-type conditions, almost no cloud cover and a large amount of solar radiation make a strong case for solar in Australia," he said. Mr Meurs said South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland were in the running to be the manufacturing base for the technology. Emissions trading had been factored into the business case for the solar energy stations. It would be viable with the current price of carbon at about 23 ($A39) a tonne on the European futures market.


GM expert calls for fuel rethink - Oil imports `must end'

Adelaide Advertiser
Wednesday 13/8/2008 Page: 59

AUSTRALIA must move to end its dependence on imported oil for transport to capitalise on the country's massive bank of alternative energy sources, according to one of General Motors' energy experts. The car giant's vice president for planning, Larry Burns, said in Melbourne yesterday that LPG should be the first step, followed by everything from compressed natural gas to hydrogen and even solar energy for plug-in electric cars.

"If I did have that magic wand in Australia I would definitely focus on energy diversity," he said. "I would ask myself 'Do I need to be importing any petroleum at all into this country?'. Why would you want to not import petroleum, with all the money that flows out of your economy? Why wouldn't you want to control your own destiny." Mr Burns said GM was keeping its options open on whether to bring the Volt plug-in electric car to Australia - which is to be introduced into the U.S. market by 2010.

"Our immediate focus is to get this car developed and get it in the market in the United States," he said. "We're not getting preoccupied with other possibilities," he said. Mr Burns is responsible for long-term research and planning at GM, a role which sees him deeply involved in future transport choices and a world beyond petroleum. He talked about everything from petrol-electric hybrid cars to high-tech diesel engines, electric cars with onboard generators and, eventually, fuel-cell cars which generate their own power using hydrogen as the fuel.

Major firms fund solar power study

Adelaide Advertiser
Wednesday 13/8/2008 Page: 26

SOME of Australia's biggest corporations are eager to join a solar energy project that could produce half the country's renewable energy by 2020, the company behind the project study says. A WorleyParsons study, launched yesterday in Sydney, claims Australia is set to host the world's largest advanced solar thermal energy plant within three years. A total of 34 250MW solar energy stations would be built by 2020, capable of producing almost half of Australia's renewable energy target. Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Woodside Petroleum, Wesfarmers and others are all funding the study.

Vic drive to turn waste into energy

Tuesday 12/8/2008 Page: 4

TURNING household waste into energy and $35 million to improve broadband service are key parts of the Victorian Government's $300 million science and technology strategy. The Government will spend $10 million on the Victorian Advanced Resource Recovery Initiative to create two facilities to turn organic waste into clean energy and products such as compost by 2010, helping to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The strategy, launched by Premier John Brumby yesterday, also includes $145 million to develop research facilities and fund research, as well as $40 million to help businesses commercialise their technology. Mr Brumby said the strategy would focus on biotechnology, which was crucial in generating jobs and investment. Projects such as a solar energy plant in the state's north-west and the national stem cell centre showed that Victorian biotechnology and research was up there with the best in the world, he said.

Alice laps up solar status

Northern Territory News
Monday 11/8/2008 Page: 7

CENTRAL Australians are lapping up the sun as the national leaders of using solar hot water systems. A recent study into the Alice Solar City project revealed 49 per cent of residents used solar systems. The national average is just 10 per cent. Alice Solar City general manager Brian Elmer says the town still has a long way to go. "The interest and drive is there, but we need to look at why residents don't follow through with making behaviour changes in their energy use," he said.

Wednesday 27 August 2008

Hydro plant goes to waste

Courier Mail
Saturday 9/8/2008 Page: 34

A MULTIMILLION-dollar hydroelectric power station at Somerset Dam has sat idle for six months because of a wrangle over who should run it. SEQWater refused to renew the contract with previous operator, Hydro Power, a company owned by former Snowy Mountains Authority engineer Jim Ryan, who had run the station for 20 years. The station is large enough to power a town of about 1000 homes and has previously been used to light up Kilcoy and an export abattoir.

In the six months since it has been closed about 10,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases have been pumped into the atmosphere because Energex has had to replace its clean hydroelectric power with a conventional generator. SEQWater operations manager Rob Drury said yesterday Mr Ryan's contract was let go because the plant had to be closed for refurbishment. The plant was commissioned in 1954 and operated until 1978 when it was closed by the Brisbane City Council as uneconomic. It was refurbished at Hydro's expense and restarted in 1988.

With its contract drawing to a close, Hydro Power started talks with SEQWater for a new agreement two years ago. Mr Ryan said SEQWater never once put up a constructive proposal to keep the station going, nor offered to buy critical plant or suggested a smooth transition to a new operator. In November last year SEQWater started a Supreme Court action, claiming ownership of all station assets, including items that had been bought by Hydro such as the transformer connecting the station to the grid.

Mr Ryan said a draft settlement was drawn up the night before the hearing in December last year but in mid-January SEQWater reneged. Hydro then removed its transformer and other gear. Mr Drury said SEQWater was yet to decide whether it would run the station itself or advertise for an outside operator. "We've got a heap of safety issues that need addressing as well as upgrading," Mr Drury said.

Mr Ryan said the equipment was in excellent condition and evidence of this was that Energex had asked for an extension of his contract to 2010 but this was ignored by SEQWater. Mr Ryan said that since it closed, SEQWater had contacted Hydro staff to work out how to run the station. Mr Drury said that after refurbishment the station would be online about the end of this year. "We also wanted more control over the situation, particularly in regards to how much water we let out and when," Mr Drury said.

Power plants in state of decay

Herald Sun
Monday 11/8/2008 Page: 87

ENGINEERS at the decaying Yallourn Power Station built a barrier of shipping containers in front of a giant turbine in case its cracked blades flew off. And at the equally old Hazelwood Power Station, a wall has been put around a corroded boiler to keep workers out of danger. Industry sources say years of under-investment in Victoria's electricity infrastructure has left the state under threat from sudden power shortages. And the sources, speaking to the Herald Sun on condition of anonymity, warn the situation is getting worse by the day, with plant operators cutting costs amid uncertainty over their future under the Federal Government's carbon pollution trading scheme.

Yallourn and Hazelwood, which sit side by side in the Latrobe Valley, are vital to Victoria's power supply. Together they produce about 50 per cent of the power for the state's households and industry. Yet parts of them are more than 40 years old. Carl Kitchen, a spokesperson for Yallourn's owner TRUEnergy, which is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based energy group CLP Power, said cracks in the turbine blades had appeared "earlier than expected" given their age and that a "physical barrier" was put in place to shield staff "as a precaution."

The problem had been fixed in a $100 million overhaul of the plant's four generating units completed two months ago. Mr Kitchen said Yallourn's maintenance budget had since been scaled back. A spokesman for the Hazelwood Power Station - owned by British based International Power - Jim Kouts, denied a wall-like barrier had been built around a corroded boiler at the plant. "There is no fence around any of our boilers," he said.

However, the existence of a "walled off area" was confirmed by Luke van der Meulen, Victorian district president for the Latrobe Valley's dominant trade union, the CFMEU, and WorkSafe Victoria spokesman, Michael Birt. Mr van der Meulen said a wall with doors had been erected around the second unit at Hazelwood after corrosion was found in the boiler walls.

"It's bad, it needs to be fixed, and it could blow - but if it did there's going to be nobody within a bull's roar of the place," he said. He added: "These power stations are old and, if things were normal, there would be new stations built if the place wasn't privatised." WorkSafe Victoria's Mr Birt said the wall around unit two had been up "for some months." "We're aware of that issue," he said.

However, International Power's Mr Kouts said the problem in the second unit was limited and all that was required was for 15 metres of corroded tubing in the boiler to be replaced. All units at Hazelwood were operating as normal, he said. Both Yallourn and Hazelwood were privatised by the Kennett Government in 1996. Industry sources told the Herald Sun that TRUEnergy and International Power paid a premium for the stations and had been forced to manage costs tightly at the operations to remain profitable.

When told of the problems at Yallourn and Hazelwood, Matthew Wright, a policy adviser at non-profit organisation Climate Positive, said they were signs of broader maintenance problems at the plants. "Given the whole emissions trading scheme and the uncertainty around that, those companies don't want to spend money on maintenance that isn't going to be worth much," he said.

Victoria's other two power stations, Loy Yang A and B, also in the Latrobe Valley, were operating smoothly, industry sources said.

SA power plant plan faces axe

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 9/8/2008 Page: 46

A $350 MILLION power station planned to ease stress on the state's electricity network in peak periods is at risk of being scrapped. The Advertiser has learned the proposed 450 megawatt gas-fired peaking power station near Mallala, north of Adelaide, has been put on hold until more is known about the Federal Government emissions trading scheme.

Babcock and Brown Power, the financial backer of the project, also is reeling from bad debts and has sold equity in three power stations in the past month. The Mallala power station, which received Development Assessment Commission approval last year, would be SA's second largest after Torrens Island's 800MW generator. In an emailed statement to The Advertiser, the company stated: "Any final decision (on the Mallala power station) is dependent on - and part of - Babcock and Brown Power's broader evaluation of the emission trading scheme."

It said preliminary work was continuing "... although there are no specific end dates associated with the plan which focuses on a 12-to-18-month time frame." The company on July 4 announced it had sold its Uranquinty Power Station in NSW to Origin Energy for $700 million. Two weeks later, it sold 73 per cent of its equity interest in the Newport and Jeeralang Power Stations in Victoria for $87 million.

In the past 12 months, Babcock and Brown Power's share price has dropped from $3.24 to 67.5c. The company also owns power stations in Port Augusta and Leigh Creek. Construction of the Mallala station was originally to start in July last year on 10ha of land, about 55km north of Adelaide. The project would be carried out in three stages with each stage capable of producing 150MW of power. On average, SA uses 1400MW each day. That can double in peak times.

The station is described as "peaking" as it only would operate at times of peak demand. It would use open-cycle gas turbine engines, fuelled by natural gas, supplied through the Moomba-to- Adelaide pipeline which intersects the development site. The Federal Government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, due to start in 2010, aims to minimise greenhouse gas emissions and limit the carbon pollution industry emits.

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Paper maker takes up the greenhouse challenge

Friday 8/8/2008 Page: 2

Australian Paper has taken the greenhouse challenge to heart with a new product - carbon-neutral paper. Called ENVI, the paper is produced at the Wesley Vale mill in Tasmania. Its "carbon neutral" status is recognised under the Department of Climate Change Greenhouse Friendly program. This means users of the paper can display the Greenhouse Friendly logo.

Australian Paper executive general manager Jim Henneberry said carbon-neutral status had been obtained in two main ways: by making huge energy efficiency gains and cutting greenhouse emissions at the Wesley Vale mill, and through participating in approved Greenhouse Friendly offset projects. "A key thing was converting our oil-based boilers to gas-fired boilers," he said. The company estimates the conversion will reduce Wesley Vale's emissions by about 22%, or about 16,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually.

Australian Paper has an added advantage: its two Tasmanian mills, Wesley Vale and Burnie, source their mainstream electricity from renewable hydro power, which produces fewer emissions than coal-fired electricity. The types of abatement activities approved under the Greenhouse Friendly program are energy efficiency measures, waste diversion and recycling, capturing and flaring landfill gas and other fugitive emissions, generating renewable energy, tree planting and avoiding deforestation projects.

Mr Henneberry said the carbon-neutral concept had taken a lot of time to get to fruition. "Our credentials are bulletproof," he said. Australian Paper, the manufacturing arm of PaperlinX, Australia's biggest paper producer, undertook a thorough life-cycle analysis of its Wesley Vale mill. The project was led by employees John Ryder, Karen Pascoe and Bob Bright, with advice from the Australian Greenhouse Office. which has been folded into the Department of Climate Change. Wesley Vale produces about 60,000 tonnes annually of ENVI.


Suppliers plan to pass buck on carbon

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 7/8/2008 Page: 3

THE electricity industry is planning to pass on most of the costs of carbon trading to the public, even though it is set to receive taxpayer compensation from the Federal Government, documents seen by the Herald show. The move to fix a carbon price into some future energy contracts signals the industry intends to do what many opponents of compensation feared: accept any cash compensation and free carbon permits, but raise prices anyway.

A clause saying a "carbon adjustment" would be added to fixed prices in new energy contracts was discussed at a meeting of the Australian Financial Markets Association, minutes of a meeting held in December show. A business customer negotiating a contract for future electricity supply, who asked to remain anonymous, said the electricity supplier had insisted on a "pass through" clause, which would send carbon costs directly down the line to consumers.

'A large amount of cash is going to be given to the coal-fired sector under the Rudd Government's green paper, yet there will be no discount to consumers," said Jeff Angel, the director of the Total Environment Centre, which obtained the documents.

"There's a simple way out of this - don't give the coal-fired generators any subsidies." In the discussion paper it released last month, the Federal Government proposed providing financial help to some power generators once carbon trading comes into force, to lower the risk of scaring off investors. "In addition, every cent raised from the carbon pollution reduction scheme will be used to help Australians - households and businesses - adjust to the scheme and to invest in clean energy options," said a spokeswoman for the Minister for Climate Change, Penny Wong.

"The point of the green paper is to generate discussion. .. and we welcome feedback on it from business and the community." Some economists have joined environmental groups to argue that compensating high polluting power generators could undermine an emissions trading scheme, by removing incentives to invest in renewable energy.

Most household electricity bills are protected from huge rises by price caps set by state governments, though the energy industry is lobbying to remove the caps. The main NSW power generators, Delta Energy, Eraring Energy and Macquarie Generation, referred inquiries about passing on carbon costs to the industry body, the Energy Supply Association of Australia. It said the costs of carbon trading would inevitably be passed on to some extent, but that a competitive marketplace would protect consumers.

"It wouldn't surprise me if it was being written into contracts now," said the association's chief executive, Brad Page. 'At the moment there's a period of extreme uncertainty until we have a sense of what the carbon price will be." The compensation proposed in the discussion paper was aimed at helping generators survive the introduction of carbon trading, but they would still have to buy emission permits to cover their generation, the cost of which they were unlikely to fully pass on to consumers, Mr Page said.

"The issue is not about how you keep these generators operating by sheltering them from the carbon price. The issue is how you financially support their transition so that Australia protects its reputation as a safe investment destination."

Gas-powered Origin `would have edge'

Adelaide Advertiser
Thursday 7/8/2008 Page: 61

Origin Energy said it would be a winner when an emissions trading scheme is introduced in 2010, because it uses gas to generate electricity, which is cleaner than coal. Australia's second-largest energy retailer has supported moves by Woodside Petroleum, urging the Federal Government to give free carbon trading permits to the liquefied natural gas sector.

Origin Energy chairman Kevin McCann also called on the Government to create an independent body similar to the Reserve Bank of Australia to regulate carbon trading. Sydney-based Origin Energy is defending a hostile $13.7 billion takeover attempt by Britain's BG Group. BG is partly interested in Origin Energy's coal seam gas reserves, which Origin Energy wants to convert into LNG for export - with a joint venture partner.

"We're generally supportive of the need for government to recognise that trade-exposed sectors should include LNG because it's a good fuel," Mr McCann said in Sydney. Woodside chief executive Don Volte recently warned the proposed emissions trading scheme (ETS) could threaten Australia's LNG industry, which competes internationally. Origin Energy is a supporter of the Government's plan to introduce an ETS by 2010, which is set to lift household electricity bills by 16 per cent on a carbon price of $20 a tonne.

One man's vision saves more than energy

Hobart Mercury
Tuesday 5/8/2008 Page: 49

Amid the gloom about climate are beacons of hope - individuals quietly going about their business of improving the environment. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these beacons are to be found more in local settings than on national and international stages. An information session about the Rudd Government's carbon pollution reduction scheme last week was a dispiriting experience - not because the scheme is without merit but because the discussion was several stages removed from the physical reality of carbon pollution.

It's that disjunct that so bothers me and I'm sure many others. Reducing the climate risk demands swift, direct, decisive and physical action, most importantly to use energy more efficiently. So far there's precious little sign that this is understood in higher political circles. At a local level it's possible to feel more hopeful. Not that local government doesn't have its share of climate contrarians - it does - but because some of its people have found real ways to address their personal concerns about how we generate and use energy.

Hobart City Council engineers, for example, have managed to find new sources of energy in landfill and sewage systems, significantly reducing the council's carbon emissions and electricity bills. This is quite an achievement considering the pace of reforms in state and federal spheres.

An enlightened local authority in Britain has gone several steps beyond the Hobart experience, with remarkable success. In 1990. a city engineer named Allan Jones began a push by the city of Woking, southwest of London, that by 2005 had achieved emission cuts of nearly 80 per cent and virtual independence from the national electricity grid.

Woking's innovations came to the attention of nearby London, and in 2005 Allan Jones began applying his vision there. on a scale 80 threes that of Woking. Eventually the Sydney City Council carne to hear of him, and last month borrowed him and his ideas to explore such possibilities for itself. Allan Jones sees today's largescale fossil fuel generating systems, distributing electricity from central power stations over long distances to factories, offices and households, as the biggest threat of all to the planet's sustainable future.

Woking overcame legal and administrative obstacles to generate its own power while saving millions of pounds. Its energy comes from a "combined heat and power" system that draws on locally generated gas and solar energy to distribute heating and cooling as well as electricity, while also saving heat energy lost in transmission.

Woking's population is a little more than Launceston's and about half that of Greater Hobart. Unlike Tasmanian centres, it is close to a world-scale metropolis, so its experience is unlikely to be directly transferable to our own situations.

But equally, there's much that this truly pioneering effort can teach any community. Tasmanian local councils have shown they can apply imaginative solutions to climate challenges. Perhaps one day our own pioneering civic innovators will, like Allan Jones, tread a world stage to pass on their knowledge and experience. But before they do, they'll need some more runs on the board, and for that they'll need bold, visionary political leadership, at all levels of government. Is that asking too much?

Call to act by pioneer on climate

Courier Mail
Tuesday 5/8/2008 Page: 11

THE scientist who coined the term acid rain says the world is close to a climate change tipping point and Australia must show leadership in dealing with the problem. American scientist Professor Gene Likens, who in the early '60s was among the first to link the increasing acidity in rain with the burning of fossil fuels, said Australia had to act now.

"Does the climate change problem exist? Yes," Professor Likens said. "The scientific consensus is so strong and so universal there are just a handful of doubters on this. "Yet (those doubters) get such high media attention and a lot of support." He argued Australia needed to provide leadership now rather than waiting for other countries such as China, Russia and the US to move first. "You are sticking your head in the sand if you think you should just wait for the US and Russia to do their bit," he said.

"There has to be leadership so I applaud Australia for its attempts to provide leadership." Professor Likens will be speaking today to policy makers and politicians at the Australian Rivers Institute, based at Griffith University's Nathan campus, on the problems being faced around the globe with drought and climate change.

Expected at the invitation-only talk were Queensland Minister for Climate Change Andrew McNamara, National Water Commissioner Chloe Munro and water commissioners from Queensland and NSW. Professor Likens said climate change was causing a change in rainfall patterns and while Australia appeared to have plenty of rain, water was not falling "where people are living and extracting it through irrigation."

He said he had researched the effects of acid rain in 1963 but it took almost 30 years for politicians to act. "I think we are approaching from a scientific point of view a tipping point on climate change and we are going to have to take action sooner rather than later," Professor Likens said. The Australian Government has so far pledged to cut national emissions by 60 per cent compared with 2000 levels by 2050.

The Government has also set a target of a national greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme by 2010, although ministers have hinted that timeframe could slip. "We certainly can't wait until 2050 to cut emissions." Professor Likens warned.

Farmers reap the wind - and profits

Canberra Times
Tuesday 5/8/2008 Page: 3

Contentious wind farms worth hundreds of millions of dollars are offering farmers and drought stricken rural communities a fresh income stream. Work has started on a$ 100 million wind farm near Crookwell, and a planning application has been lodged for a $300 million installation nearby. The two projects are in Upper Lachlan Shire Council, which is holding a plebiscite coinciding with council elections next month on whether people support more wind farms.

Crookwell farmer Charlie Prell sees wind farms as the way to drought-proof his property and with two neighbours is negotiating leasing land for turbines. In a separate development, work on Origin Energy's $100 million wind farm on the Cullerin Range, 12km east of Gunning, is tender way, providing business for electricians and fencing and concrete contractors.

Construction manager Paul Bultitude said they would pour 400 tonnes of concrete and use 40 tonnes of reinforcement steel in each one of the 15 foundations of the 80m-high turbines. The wind farm should be running by June 2009, providing enough electricity to power almost 15,000 homes. Origin Energy has 360,000 "green" customers and says it is the largest buyer of wind farm energy from other wind farms in Australia.

Public relations manager Yvette Reade said Cullerin Range farm was Origin Energy's first farm. It had acquired rights from Epuron to develop wind farms at Conroy's Gap, west of Yass, and the Snowy Plains near Cooma. Epuron, a multi-national project developer and financier which has several NSW wind farts projects, sold Cullerin Range to Origin Energy, and has lodged plans with NSW Planning for a $300 million wind farm, on four ridges 25km north-west of Goulburn, near Crookwell.

Epuron owns and operates one of the largest wind monitoring networks in NSW. Executive director Martin Poole said the combination of high wind speeds and proximity to large transmission lines gave the Southern Tablelands an advantage over windier areas in western Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

The proposed Gullen Range project would comprise up to 84 wind turbines, substation and transmission connections linked to the TransGrid 330kV line, an on-site control room and maintenance facilities. The turbines would generate enough power for 70,000 to 100,000 homes.

Mr Poole said,"We are definitely looking at other sites in the area. It has good combination of characteristics." Mr Prell and two neighbours have signed with TME Australia, a Spanish backed wind farm consortium, to develop 46 turbines on their properties between CrookWell and Goulburn.

While some neighbours are opposed to wind farms, Mr Prell said the Southern Tablelands between the Brindabella Mountains and Oberon rated highly in the renewable energy industry.

Geothermal deal steams ahead

Tuesday 5/8/2008 Page: 2

TRUENERGY has joined local rivals by entering the burgeoning geothermal energy market, announcing a $57 million joint venture with Petratherm. Under the partnership, TRUEnergy acquires up to 30% of Petratherm's Paralana project in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia.

TRUEnergy managing director Richard Mclndoe said the investment, combined with almost $1 billion of committed capital into clean-energy projects, meant the company was on track to achieve its 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. Australia's energy giants have been rushing to grab a slice of the country's geothermal prospects.

Origin Energy has committed $150 million to GeoDynamics' Habanero hot rock project in the Cooper Basin in South Australia. AGL has paid $2.2 million for a 10% stake in Torrens Energy, which is also looking at geothermal projects in South Australia.

geothermal energy is achieved by drilling deep wells into the earth. Water is then poured down the wells, spilling over "hot rocks." The water then returns to the surface in the form of steam and is converted into electricity. Mr Mclndoe said the attraction of geothermal was its abundance, its zero emissions and its potential to produce base-load power.

Under the Petratherm deal, TRUEnergy can:
*Earn 10% equity for $6 million to be spent drilling the first and second wells.
*Earn a further 5% equity for $7 million to be spent establishing a 7.5-megawatt pilot plant in Paralana.
*Add a final 15% stake worth $44 million to develop the 30-megawatt demonstration plant.

Petratherm managing director Terry Kallis said while the project was 280 kilometres away from the national electricity grid, the project had a customer off-grid 10 kilometres away who was prepared to buy the output.

He said the energy could start feeding into the national electricity market by 2011, with 260 megawatts expected to be commercially available to Port Augusta by 2020. "I think over the next two to five years you are going to see a huge amount of development in the geothermal sector," he said. Petratherm's share price rose almost 30% after the announcement, finishing the day up 8C, or 12%. at 73¢.

Petratherm gets $57m incentive

Adelaide Advertiser
Tuesday 5/8/2008 Page: 31

Petratherm has received a large boost with TRUEnergy committing to invest $57 million for a 30 per cent stake in its Paralana geothermal project. Its shares jumped 12.3 per cent to 73c cent on the news. Adelaide-based Petratherm yesterday said Chinese-owned TRUEnergy would initially contribute $6 million towards the drilling of two geothermal energy wells, for a 10 per cent stake in the project in the northern Flinders Ranges.

It would have the option to earn another 5 per cent by contributing $7 million towards the development of a 7.5 megawatt pilot plant. This would be able to supply power to the nearby Beverley uranium mine as early as mid-2010. The final 15 per cent would be earned through the contribution of $44 million towards a 30MW demonstration plant.

TRUEnergy supplies gas and electricity to 1.3 million homes and businesses in Victoria, SA and NSW and also generates electricity in SA and Victoria. TRUEnergy managing director Richard Mclndoe said the company had committed close to $1 billion to expand its renewable and clean energy generation portfolio. This included a $292 million development agreement with photovoltaic cell maker Solar Systems to develop a 154 MW solar electricity plant in Victoria.

"The strategy has been to look at what we consider to be the leading renewables companies in the marketplace to try and bring TRUEnergy's marketing capability and other capabilities as a major energy generator and retailer to the table," Mr Mclndoe said.

Petratherm managing director Terry Kallis said the company had been looking for complementary business partners. Last year Beach Petroleum committed up to $30 million to the Paralana project in return for a stake of up to 36 per cent. The TRUEnergy deal is dependent on Foreign Investment Review Board approval.

Monday 25 August 2008

Perth team buoyed by new wave energy

West Australian
Monday 4/8/2008 Page: 25

Desalination plants use between six and 10 times the energy used in sourcing ground water to produce a kilolitre of water - which is a downside with an upside for WA's renewable energy buffs. The upside is the potential for the State's next desalination plant to become working proof for the viability of previously neglected renewable energy technology in WA, such as wave power.

The Southern Desalination Plant, to be built outside Binningup in the South-West, will deliver 50G1 of water a year, about 16 per cent of WA's total supply, with the ability to be expanded up to 100G1 a year. Project director Nick Churchill said the total amount of energy that would be used to run the first stage of the plant (producing 50Gl a year) was about 200 gigawatts a year.

"Of this 80 per cent will be a commercially proven (renewable) energy source, like wind or biomass, while the other 20 per cent will be from commercially unproven sources such as wave power," Mr Churchill said. Seven energy companies have been short listed by the Water Corporation to tender for the supply of 80 per cent of the renewable energy required.

Four groups have been selected out of 18 that applied to pre-qualify to supply the 20 per cent - or 40GW a year - unproven portion, with final submissions due in September. A decision will be made by the Water Corporation on which is most viable in November and there is potential for more than one source to be used. Mr Churchill said several aspects would impact on the choice of power, including cost and ability to get it off the ground by 2011.

"Each company would have to address any issues related to the generation source so that the plant would not be impacted on variables such as wind, or waves," Mr Churchill said. Carnegie Corporation's CETO wave power technology is one of those on the short list and the oil and gas engineering expertise in WA was crucial to its development. Carnegie managing director Michael Ottaviano said the ocean was the most obvious source of sustainable, renewable power.

Tides are created by the relationship between the Earth's rotation and the gravitational attraction of the ocean to the sun and the moon. "It is a very, very concentrated form of energy," Dr Ottaviano said. "Solar and wind are relatively diffuse forms of energy and particularly with solar you have to concentrate it with mirrors to produce dense enough energy to be able to economically exploit it - wave is in fact an already concentrated form of solar energy." The CETO technology, invented by Carnegie chairman Alan Burns, involves buoys tethered underwater, which take the swell in the ocean's wave and create electricity by pumping high-pressure sea water ashore to spin the turbines.

"The CETO units replace the pumps that would otherwise be required for a desalination plant and the ocean's energy replaces the power station that would usually be required to power those pumps," Dr Ottaviano said. "It's the only way that exists to produce zero-emission desalinated water, which is obviously a challenge for the desalination industry currently." Dr Ottaviano said the main challenge associated with CETO was the massive amount of energy generated during a storm.

Fortunately, Perth's big population of offshore oil and gas engineers has provided insight into storm survivability, as has the science originating in that industry, such as computational fluid dynamics, which enables the company to use computer generated conditions to in tests. "Effectively what we have got is a full-scale virtual ocean where we do all our initial testing before we move into the real ocean," Dr Ottaviano said.

Carnegie has about 35 employees ranging from oil and gas engineers through to divers and oceanographers. "It doesn't happen through a single individual working on it, it requires all of those different facets to come together to produce a solution," Dr Ottaviano said. "When you've got 35 different smart people with a whole bunch of different skills, the challenge is making sure you are making use of all of those skills." Regular design sessions are held at Carnegie to bring the subsets of the team together and an internal wiki system - a collection of web pages that can be moderated by users - helps to store ideas.

"It's kind of like your old fashioned ideas log if you like, but it's a wiki, so the ideas stay alive and dynamic and develop," Dr Ottaviano said. People looking at a career in ocean engineering should get out and do some fishing or surfing. "That gives you a really good appreciation of the forces involved in the ocean, but a mechanical engineering degree is also a pretty good start," Dr Ottaviano said. "We've got a disproportionately high number of divers and surfers in the team. You can do research by sitting on a surfboard."

Entrepreneur runs like wind as utilities back renewables

West Australian
Monday 4/8/2008 Page: 28

The lights snap off in the five-story, grey concrete building in Pune, India, where Suzlon Energy - the fastest growing of the world's top five wind turbine makers - has its headquarters. After 30 seconds of darkness, the fluorescent bulbs flicker on as back-up generators kick in.

"For us, it's routine," Tulsi Tanti, Suzlon's billionaire founder, says. "You have to understand the country's limitation and, within that, develop your business." Mr Tanti, 50, made his fortune in a decade by supplying wind energy to Indian companies struggling with blackouts and soaring energy costs.

The entrepreneur got his start in 1993, when he bought two turbines to reduce the electricity bills at his textile company in the western state of Gujarat. Mr Tanti's employees dug the foundations, installed the towers and connected the turbines to India's overburdened power grid - taking advantage of government incentives that let the company swap the wind energy it generated for the electricity. it used.

"Within two years, we understood the economics and dynamics of the industry and realised wind is a good source," Mr Tanti says. "Why not focus on that industry?" Suzlon started in 1995 and now ranks as the No. 5 turbine maker worldwide. These are heady days for wind energy producers.

Companies can't keep pace with demand. With oil soaring above $US 147 a barrel in July and concern mounting about global warming, governments are enacting mandates to promote the use of alternatives such as solar and wind.

Last year, utilities and other companies installed a record 20,000 megawatts of wind energy, and the renewable energy source will make up 3 per cent of the world's electricity production in 2012, up from one per cent in 2007, according to the Brussels-based industry group Global Wind Energy Council. "Suzlon came out of nowhere," says Daniel McClure, a fund manager with IG Investment Management, in Toronto.

"They've executed very well under Tanti." Like the entire wind industry, Suzlon is hooked on a growing number of incentives pushed by governments around the globe. In 1997, Massachusetts was the first of 21 US states to begin mandating that utilities buy as much as 20 per cent of their power from renewable sources. US wind energy companies get a US2¢ tax credit for each kilowatt-hour of power they produce. Starting in 2004, Indian states enacted similar mandates as high as 10 per cent for utilities, and companies can claim 80 per cent depreciation on equipment costs in the first year.

China rolled out a plan last year requiring that 15 per cent of the country's energy consumption be met with power from renewable sources by 2020. And in January, the European Union agreed that the region would get 20 per cent of its power consumption from carbon-free sources by 2020 compared with about 6 per cent in 2005. To meet these clean energy rules, utilities are mostly buying wind energy because it's cheaper than other renewable sources such as solar.

"The main driver for wind energy is regulation coming in place in Europe and North America to obtain a greater amount of energy from clean sources," says Geneva-based Philippe De Weck, who helps manage the Clean Energy Fund.

"Solar is still very expensive today. Wind is really left as the only option to fulfil that goal." Mr Tanti, the son of a wheat and peanut farmer, attended small regional colleges after leaving high school, earning a business degree from the P.D. Malaviya Commerce College and electrical and mechanical engineering diplomas from a government polytechnic institute. Although Mr Tanti and his family's net worth rocketed to $US2.2 billion ($2.29 billion) after Suzlon's initial public offering in 2005, he shuns the luxurious lifestyle.

From his small office in Pune, 160km south-east of Bombay in the state of Maharashtra in western India, Mr Tanti says he's pushing his company to grow faster partly to reduce the threat of global warming. Suzlon, which has 13,000 employees worldwide and markets its products in North and South America, Europe, Australia and China, aims to control 25 per cent of the market by 2013, making it the No. 3 wind turbine company. Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems is No. 1 globally, followed by GE Energy.

"With the climate change crisis looming, we have to work faster against it," Mr Tanti says. "That is why high growth is the priority, not just the bottom line." As the company expands, it adds turbines to India's grid that produce more power than Suzlon uses to make the machines, which eliminates its carbon footprint, Mr Tanti says. Suzlon's new, 4.5-hectare campus just 10km from its headquarters will be lit mostly by sunlight to reduce power consumption. The campus will also collect rainwater for use on lawns among the low-rise buildings.

wind energy's main drawback - turbines don't work without a strong breeze - has kept it from becoming a major source of energy for more than a century. In 1887, American Charles F. Brush became the first person to produce power from wind. He built a windmill and used it for 20 years to charge batteries in the cellar of his mansion in Cleveland.

For decades, use of the renewable energy source remained limited because even in the best locations, where winds consistently blow at speeds greater than seven metres per second, turbines operate at only 30-40 per cent of their capacity.

"The issue with wind energy is that it's a variable source of electricity," Keith Hays, a Barcelona, Spain-based research director at Emerging Energy Research, says. "You just can't turn it off and on." Mr Tanti's interest in wind energy was first nurtured at a business owned by his father who quit farming and started a business to distribute potatoes that required a freezer to store them.

Mr Tanti returned from college in 1978 and joined his father's company, which had high energy costs. He installed fins on cooling coils inside the freezer to increase efficiency and moved the condenser to the top of the building, where wind flow helped cool it. Within a year, he'd cut energy consumption by 30 per cent.

Suzlon's sales did not take off until about 1999, when it began developing and operating big wind farms for companies such as Tata Finance and Bajaj Auto, India's second-biggest motorcycle maker. Suzlon has invested in manufacturing, opening nine plants in India, China and the US to support soaring global sales. By March last year, it had installed 3768 megawatts of wind energy, a sixfold increase over 2004. Suzlon's revenue has almost doubled each year since 2004, topping out at $US3.4 billion in the 12 months to March 31.

China sets its own powerful agenda

Daily Telegraph
Monday 4/8/2008 Page: 72

WHILE many bemoan the fact China has not signed the Kyoto Protocol, the country has its own agenda when it comes to tackling climate change. China is the second largest consumer of energy in the world so its government has mandated that by 2010 10 per cent of the nation's total energy consumption must be renewable energy, rising to 15 per cent by 2020. With that in mind, the Minister for Trade, Simon Crean, is leading a Clean Energy Mission to China this week to showcase Australian products and techniques that can help the Chinese achieve this aim.

Participants range from a company making products which cut emissions from furnaces burning fossil fuels, to one generating power from landfill gases, to one making large-scale wind farms. One participant is Dr Richard Corkish from the world-renowned University of New South Wales School of photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering. The university has been working with Chinese companies for some time now, notably SunTech, founded by former University of New South Wales student Zhengrong Shi, now the richest man in mainland China.

We are investing and developing new technologies: They are manufactured in China, but at the moment the market is in Europe," Dr Corkish said. But he does see a time when China will embrace renewable forms of energy on a much larger scale than now. "They are already embracing cheaper alternatives, for example, wind generated energy," he said. "But you can't have wind energy in the cities. That's where the big strength of photovoltaic solar cells lies.

In the cities you can generate electricity right where it's needed. "China's demand for power is outstanding. And it's aware of its impact on the world, of the global warming issues. "But they're also conscious that the problem wasn't created by China but by the developed countries that have had the free ride with cheap fuel and energy." Dr Corkish said that photovoltaic solar cells won't be the first cab off the rank in China. "It's too expensive compared to other options, for example, geothermal power, wind energy, biomass.

"It will get cheaper, and quite soon. But in the past few years the decline in the price of them has dropped because supply can't keep up with demand. "The growth in the world over the past year has been 69 per cent, and we expect 100 per cent growth next year. It's very exciting."

Power Play: Queenslanders face shock electricity bills

Courier Mail
Monday 4/8/2008 Page: 1

QUEENSLANDERS could be stuck with the highest electricity prices in the nation because the State Government is refusing to dump a controversial gas scheme. Premier Anna Bligh has ignored warnings to ditch the Queensland Gas Scheme amid concerns it will significantly drive up consumer power costs.

The Federal Government feared the scheme - which forced electricity retailers to source at least 13 per cent of electricity from gas-fired generation - could pose an "unnecessary cost on the economy" when a greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme starts in 2010. Consumers are already facing price hikes of 16 per cent, or up to $200 a year, under the ETS. NSW will abandon a similar program when the ETS starts.

The standoff came as new modelling revealed the ETS could drain $1.4 billion from state and territory coffers, severely undermining their ability to deliver health and other essential services and sparking fears of job cuts and tax increases. Economic modelling by the Canberra-based Australia Institute showed Queensland could be left with an ETS "hangover" of $289 million a year based on a modest carbon price of $20 a tonne.

The states have been holding talks with the Federal Government after a report showed millions of dollars would be sucked out of state budgets by an emissions trading scheme. But federal Climate Change Minister Penny Wong refused to reveal if the states were eligible for compensation and would not speculate on the viability of the Queensland Gas Scheme.

Senator Wong's green paper said the rationale for the gas scheme would diminish once an ETS started. "While the Queensland Gas Scheme is not necessarily incompatible with a national cap & trade scheme, both schemes are likely to promote the use of gas," the report said. "Therefore, its interaction with the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme needs careful consideration to avoid the imposition of unnecessary cost.

"State and territory governments are encouraged to discontinue their market-based program once the carbon pollution reduction scheme commences." A spokesman for Ms Bligh failed to confirm whether the gas scheme, which has promoted significant investment of gas-fired power stations, would be ditched.

"The Queensland Gas Scheme. .. is providing a more environmentally friendly alternative source of energy and we will be working with the Federal Government to make sure any new arrangements continue to involve the development of our gas industry," the spokesman said.

Under the scheme the quota of gas that must be sourced for electricity will increase from 13 per cent to 15 per cent in 2010, rising to 18 per cent by 2020. But stakeholders warned it would theoretically drive up prices in Queensland. The Australian Industry Greenhouse Network said Queensland's scheme added another layer of administration and cost that would be passed on to consumers.