Thursday 18 September 2008

Senate Inquiry: Overwhelming support for gross national feed-in tariff

Clean Energy Council
10 September 2008

NATIONAL: The Clean Energy Council, Australia's peak renewable energy body, appeared before the Senate Environment Committee yesterday to provide evidence for the implementation of a gross national feed-in tariff (FIT) for solar PV – a scheme which pays households and businesses a premium rate for all the renewable electricity they produce.

The inquiry hearing took place across the last two days with the majority of speakers voicing their preference for a gross national feed-in tariff. Out of a total 127 submissions made to the Senate Inquiry,
  • 80% supported a gross FIT (pays for all electricity, including that used on-site);
  • 12% did not show preference;
  • 8% not in favour of FIT policy;
  • 1% favoured a net FIT (only pays for electricity sent back to the grid).
"There is clearly growing support for Australia to adopt a feed-in tariff scheme which is based on gross generation rather than net generation" said Clean Energy Council solar spokesperson Andrea Gaffney. "This sends a very strong message to the Committee and should serve to assist state and territory governments ahead of the upcoming COAG meeting" she added.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) will be discussing a nationally consistent feed-in tariff at their next meeting scheduled for 2 October 2008. "A gross national feed-in tariff is key policy for Australia's solar PV industry, as it pays peak demand prices when the solar PV system is generating electricity and this allows the technology to compete against and reduce demand for high-emission fossil fuel power" said Ms Gaffney.

More than 19 European Union countries have already introduced gross feed-in tariffs to encourage further take up and use of solar PV. "We're looking forward to receiving the conclusive findings of the Senate Inquiry and will continue to lobby for a nationally consistent gross feed-in tariff to ensure that every Australian can benefit from acting on climate change." The Clean Energy Council remains committed to ensuring renewable energy, like solar PV, plays a significant part in Australia's future energy mix and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Capital closer on 19 massive solar site

Canberra Times
Wednesday 3/9/2008 Page: 1

Canberra is a step closer to getting a $141 million solar energy station capable of generating enough electricity for more than 10,000 homes. It will be at least 120 ha in size, and probably significantly larger than that, and a new study warns the plant would be a "prominent visual feature" unless it is well shielded. ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, if re-elected, will call for expressions of interest from the private sector for the solar energy station after issuing a pre-feasibility study last night that "gave the project the nod".

The study, commissioned by the ACT Government and ActewAGL, looked at a 22MW-capacity plant using solar thermal trough technology, and suggests a gas-fired generator be added as an auxiliary system. It estimated that it would cost $141 million to build and about $2 million a year to run, while powering 10,000 homes with 80GWh a year. It could be operational by 2012.

The project will require a substantial level of subsidy from the ACT and federal governments. The report suggests tip to 57 per cent - or $80 million - would have to come from taxpayers to snake the project viable. ActewAGL chief executive Michael Costello indicated his company was interested, but said it would have to make economic sense. This would likely mean a larger plant.

Mr Costello said doubling the size of the plant would snake it 27 per cent cheaper, relatively. "And even that is not a particularly big one. So what we are going to look at is a number of models which could be more effective financially than a 22MW one," he said. The 22MW plant discussed in the study would require 120 ha of land and Mr Costello said a 44MW plant would be "much bigger".

The central basin of Lake Burley Griffin - between Commonwealth and Kings Avenue bridges - is 103 ha, and 120 ha is about the same size as the University of Canberra campus or almost four times the footprint of Parliament House. The study said the plant would "combine the physical features of the large solar field with a small thermal power station, possibly with a gas boiler or small gas turbine for back-tip.

"While the solar technology itself is considered to be relatively benign, it is likely to require consideration [of] environmental issues that are similar to those raised by a small gas-fired power station with the additional issues raised by the large land area and visual amenity." The report mentions three possible sites - two to the west of the Stromlo Treatment plant and one to the east of Tharwa.

But neither Mr Stanhope nor Mr Costello would say where the solar energy plant could be built. Mr Costello said there were two or three options, "but I am not going to speculate on it at the moment because it will just get everyone alarmed". He said, "Given its size, it is not going to be close to heavily settled areas like Tuggeranong and Belconnen or somewhere like that.

To the extent that the ACT has more remote regions, it will be in a more remote region." Mr Stanhope said there would be consultation on potential sites after the tender process. The study identifies a number of constraints, as well as the size of the land required, meaning options would be limited.

The site would have to be cleared, be away from hills or anything else that could cast shade, and be as close as possible to the power network and gas and water supplies. The study also foreshadows environmental, planning and community issues as highly probable and identifies them as posing a high risk to the project.

The Government and ActewAGL are also embroiled in controversy over a proposal to build a $1 billion gas-fired power station and data centre in Tuggeranong near the Mugga Lane tip. Residents are concerned about the potential health effects of the project, which they say will be built 600m from the nearest home.

ACT Opposition environment spokeswoman Vicki Dunne was unsure the Government would be able to make the solar energy station happen. "Given their track record in building power stations, I don't have any confidence that they will be able to pull this off if they are a major investor," she said.

Mr Stanhope said "a number of firms" were interested in the solar energy project but details on them were unavailable last night. The study said support from the ACT Government was not clearly defined, and Mr Stanhope's office said it would depend on the business cases presented by the private sector. The study said solar thermal generation systems collected solar energy as heat to power steam turbines.

Altona's long-term project

Adelaide Advertiser
Wednesday 3/9/2008 Page: 58

Altona Resources has found enough coal in South Australia's Arckaringa coalfield to run a proposed coal to liquids and power plant for 50-100 years. The London-based company yesterday announced a maiden resource of 1.29 billion tonnes of coal at its Wintinna deposit in Far North SA. The coal resource estimate, in declining order of confidence, comprises 187 million tonnes in the measured category, 650 million tonnes in the indicated category and 450 million tonnes in the inferred category.

Altona managing director Chris Schrape said the company could now confidently say there was enough coal of suitable quality to support a coal to liquids and co-generation power plant for 50 to 100 years or more. Altona, which plans to list on the Australian Securities Exchange later this year, has decided to progress the project to the bankable feasibility stage, which is the last stage before a decision to go ahead with a project.

Tassie wood to fire Japan power plants

Hobart Mercury
Tuesday 2/9/2008 Page: 7

TASMANIAN wood will be exported to Japan for use in wood-fired power plants, says Forestry Tasmania managing director Bob Gordon. Speaking at the launch of Forestry Tasmania's new vision and mission statement yesterday. Mr Gordon said there had already been several exports, mostly to Japan. Starting in October. Gunns Ltd will export native wood from Triabunna to the Japanese company Chubu Electric.

"There have been several exports of fuelwood in the last 12 months to a variety of customers in Japan," Mr Cordon said. "The Japanese are like everywhere else in the world, they are trying to replace fossil fuel-powered electricity with renewable electricity which conies from wood waste." Forestry Tasmania assistant general manager Michael Wood said fuelwood was of a lower standard than pulpwood and would normally be part of a forest regeneration burn.

Mr Wood said he was not aware of any studies into whether the export of fuelwood to Japan and subsequent generation of renewable energy was carbon-neutral. Gunns says a pulp mill would reduce greenhouse gases because fewer ships would be carrying woodchips to Japan. Mr Wood said the interest in fuelwood had increased renewable energy certificates. There could be up to a million tonnes a year of suitable wood spread across Tasmania, he said. Mr Gordon said wood-fired power stations might be the solution to reducing forestry regeneration burns in Tasmania.

"What we really want to work on is getting a couple of wood-fired power stations so that, instead of wood in forests being burnt to create a seedbed for the eucalypts, what we would be doing would be creating renewable energy as well," he said. "They are accepted modern technology and they are smart modern technology, what they do is use the solar energy that the trees have captured and release it in a renewable and sustainable energy form. "And when we do that the number and intensity of regeneration burns will reduce." He said Forestry Tasmania already had a waste-fed power station in the Huon and there were a couple of other boilers which could have small steam fired turbines added.

Wong firm on carbon

Herald Sun
Tuesday 2/9/2008 Page: 28

BHP Billiton chairman Don Argus has raised the temperature in the battle with the Federal Government over its planned emissions trading scheme. But Climate Change Minister Penny Wong yesterday refused to bow to business demands for any weakening in emissions that would allow a rise in carbon pollution. At an Australian Industry Group conference in Canberra yesterday, Mr Argus argued that a carbon tax system should be considered over the European Union-style cap-and-trade system currently favoured by the Government.

"Australia should consider and debate all the alternatives to a cap-and-trade system," he said. "That's mine, it's not a company view." Senator Wong flatly rejected the proposal and stuck to her guns on climate change policy that aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. "We have a national cap, and exceeding it comes at the price of international credibility," she said. Senator Wong said Australia could not ask other countries to cut their emissions while increasing its own. "If we are going to get the global action we need, we will have to act at home," she said.

Any industry-specific allowances for emissions to exceed the national cap would be "fundamentally inconsistent" with the United Nations process on climate change. Senator Wong asked business leaders to take that into account when lobbying the Government on emissions trading. Nor did she warm to giving more compensation to businesses, which some groups have asked for. She said offering more compensation to any industry, or firm, meant other industries would have to shoulder more of the burden of tackling climate change.

However, Senator Wong did say she was open to discussions about how the proposed compensation fund could be redesigned. Under the Government's proposed emissions trading scheme, due to start in 2010, a cap will be set on carbon emissions which will be reduced over time. The Government is preparing to release some economic modelling on the planned scheme in October before a final report is published by the end of the year.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Victorians running hot in green stakes

Tuesday 2/9/2008 Page: 3

VICTORIANS have cranked up their heaters more this winter, and when outside are more likely to jump in the car, according to a report on greenhouse gas emissions. With winter now technically behind us, figures from The Climate Group show that Victoria's greenhouse gas emissions increased by 0.7 million tonnes compared with winter last year. Queenslanders, despite their warmer climate, also increased their energy use over winter, with emissions rising by 0.9 million tonnes.

Both states were shown up by NSW, which reduced its emissions by 0.6 million tonnes. Victoria's emissions from petrol also increased slightly, up from 6.78 million tonnes last year to 7 million tonnes this winter. Queensland increased its reliance on petrol by 2.3%, up from 7.42 million tonnes to 7.59 million tonnes. Again, NSW was the standout of the eastern states, curbing petrol use by 4.2%, from 9.46 million tonnes last winter to 9.06 million tonnes.

The Australian director of The Climate Group, Rupert Posner, said that while the figures were not "awful", they served as a reminder that the Kyoto Protocol required Australia to lower its emissions to 108% of 1990 levels by 2012. "The good news is that electricity demand did not increase substantially, up just 1% overall, with Queensland increasing by more than 2% and Victoria and NSW increasing by less than 1%," Mr Posner said. Total emissions from energy in NSW and Victoria are about 30% above 1990 levels, and in Queensland they are 100% higher.


Green energy stocks set for clean sweep

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Monday 1/9/2008 Page: 23

Macquarie Research asserted in a recent report that 'the time is ripe for clean energy,' noting that the emergence of utility-scale projects in the solar energy sector provided a serious contender to fossil fuels. Included among Macquarie's preferred wind energy stocks are Greentech Energy Systems and Iberdrola Renewables, while US companies Evergreen Solar, First Solar, Energy Conversion Devices and SunPower are the solar energy stocks it likes. SunPower recently made its foray onto the Australian market with its acquisition of Sun Sales.

No easy fix for gases coming from landfill

Monday 1/9/2008 Page: 32

A HALF-EATEN hamburger discarded at the opening ceremony of the Brisbane Commonwealth Games in 1982 is as you read this still decomposing in the depths of the nearby Ferny Grove landfill. Which means it's still contributing to Australia's greenhouse inventory, more than 25 years after Matilda the giant winking kangaroo lurched around the stadium.

Debate over the design of a national greenhouse emissions trading scheme has focused mainly on the multi-billion-dollar consequences of the treatment of major facilities like power stations, aluminium smelters and LNG facilities. But the dark corners of the scheme, like how to include and ultimately reduce emissions from places like landfills, are proving just as much of a handful to iron out.

There are an estimated 500 active landfill sites around Australia and another 1000 that have already been filled up and closed. All of them contain decades of decomposing organic waste. The decomposition of these carbon-based materials deep underground without oxygen produces methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas that eventually finds its way to the surface and into the atmosphere.

Depending on the climate and moisture levels, organics can take up to 50 years to completely break down. As a result, most of these sites are believed to be releasing thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gas each year, totalling 20 million tonnes or nearly 3 per cent of total national emissions. Simply including all these emissions in the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme poses a number of problems. While power stations emit greenhouse gases only if they burn fossil fuels, the greenhouse footprint of a tonne of organic waste extends for a generation after its disposal.

Requiring permits for these emissions means making current landfill users pay for emissions generated by decades of previous users. Owners of the 1000 closed landfill sites will be hit with a carbon bill of a few hundred thousand dollars each year, without any revenue stream to pass on the costs. Many of these sites are still owned by local councils, which are strongly in favour of free allocation of permits for these historical emissions. Councils also make formidable political enemies, so Penny Wong will ignore their concerns at her peril.

Waste management companies like Veolia and SITA have flagged a compromise requiring all sites that emit more than 10,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year to be mandated by law to fit gas capture and flaring devices at a one-off cost of $300,000. Modern landfill design has been primarily concerned with stopping heavy metals and other potentially hazardous materials dissolving in moisture and leaching out into the surrounding soils and water table.

Only in the last decade or so have landfills been shaped and lined to maximise the recovery of methane gases, which can either be flared off to reduce their impact, or in larger-scale operations used as green energy. But that still won't stop between 30 and 70 per cent of the emissions. It's also not entirely clear which sites would quality for such a threshold test, because it's not entirely clear how much gas is coming from each landfill.

For obvious reasons, rubbish has tended to be a relatively inexact field of study. There are three different methodologies to estimate landfill greenhouse emissions. The easiest and most common is based on rates of decomposition according to temperature and rainfall as prescribed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But it's also the least accurate. Using this method, two similar, neighbouring landfills Mugga Lane in Canberra and Woodlawn in NSW are given wildly different rates because they sit either side of the ACT/NSW border.

The industry estimates it will take another five years to directly measure methane emissions from landfills with the same accuracy as power stations or other point sources. But perhaps the biggest problem lies with the effectiveness of a trading scheme to drive reductions in emissions. It's possible to pre-treat organic-rich rubbish from households, restaurants and cafes to accelerate their decomposition and reduce their greenhouse intensity. But it's expensive.

Ideally, if this flow of garden waste and food scraps can be managed carefully to prevent contamination from things like paints, car batteries and gas cylinders, then they can be converted into bulk composts and reapplied to Australia's carbon-starved soils.

Composts also reduce pathogens, reduce water consumption and accelerate plant growth. It's the ideal long-term solution, but it will need more than just a reasonably stiff carbon price to make it happen. Recyclers of other materials like steel, plastics, glass and aluminium are also crying foul, as they get no help from a trading scheme. Using recycled materials as part of the feedstock reduces energy demand saving on both power bills and carbon permits.

But most of these recycled commodities are now traded internationally, so suppliers like Visy Recycling and local councils are unable to bank any of the embodied greenhouse benefits. Only a global price on emissions will shift demand and with it the world price for recycled aluminium cans. All these debates, for just 3 per cent of emissions, are too big to ignore but difficult to fix.

Companies respond to energy efficiency challenge

Tuesday 2/9/2008 Page: 3

BIG business has started taking steps to improve energy efficiency, with a survey showing that 20% have already gone beyond the minimum requirements set by government. The survey of 55 of Australia's biggest power users by energy consultancy Energetics has found that the Howard government's Energy Efficiency Opportunities scheme, introduced in 2006, is affecting the way business uses energy.

The scheme requires 220 of Australia's biggest energy users, which each uses more than 500 terajoules of energy a year, to identify energy savings assessments by 2011. When the preliminary assessments were filed just over two months ago, the survey found that 40% of respondents intended to do more than required under the scheme. Energetic founder Jon Jutsen said business had found three major barriers to cutting energy use.

"Basically the survey shows that business believes that it has a lack of skilled labour to meet the EEO requirements; that it needs a carbon price to see what the impact of a trading scheme will be on the business; and that it would like a financial or tax incentive to cut energy use," Mr Jutsen said. He said the program seemed to be succeeding already in altering behaviour.

"What we can take out of this survey is that business is acting and that this is prompting business to go above and beyond what is required because they have been able to find savings across the business," he said. "It is a really important initiative because the trading scheme won't have impact over the next three or four years and then the Government has indicated there will be a low carbon price so you are into mid-2011 before you see a significant impact from the emissions trading scheme."


Climate institute flags billions in savings

Canberra Times
Monday 1/9/2008 Page: 1

Major investment in renewable energy and fuel-efficient transport could cut Australia's carbon pollution levels, saving billions of dollars, according to the Climate Institute Australia. Acting ahead of any global agreement on emissions reduction, Australia could cut 25 per cent cut in 1990-level carbon emissions by 2020 if it moved quickly to adopt smarter policies and investments, the institute says.

An analysis to be issued today also outlines the latest science on the impact of climate change, warning that if no action is taken to cut emissions, irrigated agricultural production in the Murray-Darling Basin will all but disappear. It warns that a 2 per cent global temperature increase would kill off coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, and cause the melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. That, it says, would raise the sea level by several metres.

The proposal for a 25 per cent cut in emissions comes ahead of Friday's issuing of the final Federal Government-commissioned Garnaut Report on climate change, which will set out reduction targets. The analysis, prepared for the institute by energy modellers McLennan Magasanik Associates, said Australia had a range of low-cost options it could use to reduce emissions, particularly in the area of energy efficiency.

Institute chief executive officer John Connor said the analysis showed that more than half the pollution reduction could be achieved at a net saving to the economy. "Significant reductions in our energy sector can be achieved with investments over the next decade of around half of 1 per cent of this year's gross domestic product - $46.6 billion," Mr Connor said. "With a target of at least 25 per cent carbon pollution reduction, Australia can be a positive player in global negotiations to help achieve global targets so clearly in our national interest.

"Anything less would return Australia to the climate laggard role we have just shrugged off." A failure by industrialised countries to reduce carbon emissions by 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 risked severe climate impacts, such as the collapse of the Amazon rainforest. The report said that a rise in temperatures of two or more degrees would lead to a 300 per cent increase in extreme fire danger days..

New solar incentive

Sunday Mail Brisbane
Sunday 31/8/2008 Page: 2

Brisbane ratepayers are being offered a $400 rebate to install solar hot water systems. People who also qualify for the Federal Government's means-tested rebate could save up to $1400. And qualifying for renewable energy certificates promises further savings.

"Hot water systems are the biggest energy users in most homes, which means a solar system can result in huge savings," Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said. The Brisbane City Council rebate, which is not means tested, can be used to buy a new solar system or convert a gas or electric system to solar. It will be available to 1500 applicants at first, although Cr Newman would consider extending it. More details are at

Tuesday 16 September 2008

$59m deal on the wind

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 30/8/2008 Page: 77

AGL Energy has sold its Hallett 2 wind farm, under construction near Burra, to Energy Infrastructure Trust for $59 million. EIT is managed by ANZ offshoot ANZ Infrastructure Services. The deal will allow AGL to retain all Renewable Energy Certificates, electricity output and asset naming rights until 2035. AGL managing director Michael Fraser said the sale allowed the energy retailer to book development profit of $59 million.

Dr Fraser said in a statement that between $35 million and $40 million of this amount would be recognised in fiscal 2009, with the balance in fiscal 2010. "The sale of the Hallett 2 wind farm is consistent with the company's integrated strategy," he said.

"We are pleased with this outcome, especially in light of the credit market environment. "The transaction certainly demonstrates there is a solid appetite for quality projects of this nature, which deliver benefits to both parties." The 71-megawatt Hallett 2 wind farm is being built at a total construction cost of $159 million.

Money is no object in battle to save planet

Sun Herald
Sunday 31/8/2008 Page: 29

A MAJOR survey of Australians' views on climate change has found an overwhelming majority think it is happening and they're prepared to pay to address it.

The study by University of Technology Sydney found Australians wanted to see cuts in the nation's greenhouse gas emissions irrespective of the actions of other countries. Researchers quizzed 768 people, who were chosen randomly but with a method to ensure the sample was reflective of the Australian population.

The key findings include that 83.7 per cent believed global warming was occurring and, of those, 84.9 per cent said Australia should proceed with an emissions trading scheme (ETS) regardless of the international response. "The bottom line from this study is that Australians think now is the time to adopt a climate change program that has some real teeth," visiting economics professor at UTS Richard Carson said.

"They believe that climate change will cause serious problems in Australia and elsewhere in the world, and they understand there will be sizeable cost going along with it." On the question of what to do with the billions of dollars that will be pumped into the Federal Government's coffers by an ETS, Professor Carson said Australians voted for self-interest and also an increase in spending on research and development.

"The lower income houses and seniors very strongly support Labor's plan to redistribute the income to those households, while the middle- to high-income households ... clearly support reducing the GST," he said.

Professor Carson said 58.7 per cent of participants supported spending 20 per cent of ETS revenues on R & D, in keeping with a recommendation of the Rudd Government commissioned Garnaut Review "The public clearly favours spending 20 per cent of the money on R & D ... even though we told them that if they did that they would redistribute less money to the public," he said.

"That shows the Australians are very forward-looking, they see it as a long-term problem and the R & D efforts will help them get over the hump." Survey participants' views were also sought on the different government plans and opposition policies to tackle climate change.

A majority (57.1 per cent) supported the government's plan to begin emissions trading from 2010 over the Liberals' later 2012 start date. Participants were quizzed on their political leanings and Professor Carson said Green and Labor voters were more likely to favour the government's plan. Interestingly, more than half (53 per cent) of Liberal-aligned survey participants also favoured the earlier 2010 ETS start date instead of official policy held by the Federal Opposition.

Views were split on whether transport should be exempt for the first three years of the ETS - with just over half (50.6 per cent) for the move to temporarily delay price increases at the petrol bowser. The study, entitled Survey on Controlling Greenhouse Gases, was conducted by the UTS Centre for the Study of Choice.

Professor Carson is a Professor of Economics at the University of California and is a Visiting Distinguished Professor at the UTS.

Toll rises as wedge-tailed eagles fall prey to turbines

Friday 29/8/2008 Page: 4

THE toll of endangered Wedge-Tailed Eagles is climbing at the southern hemisphere's largest wind farm, in north-west Tasmania. A breeding pair died at the 62-turbine Woolnorth Wind Farm earlier this month, its owner, Roaring 40s, confirmed yesterday. The Chinese-Australian company said this took to 16 the total of Wedge-Tailed Eagle collisions since 2002, but Greens leader Bob Brown said more had died and been taken by carrion eaters such as Tasmanian devils.

"What we need is an independent inquiry into this, to find out how many, and what resources can be put into stopping eagle deaths," Senator Brown said. When they become locked onto their prey they are oblivious of things like rotating blades, and this has been known for years." The latest pair are understood to have been cut down in flight several days apart.

The second died despite the presence of eagle monitors on the ground, and a decision to shut down some turbines. The Tasmanian sub-species of the wedge-tail was assessed as endangered by the Federal Environment Department, which said in 2000 that the bird was declining in numbers from around 440 adults. Eric Woehler, of Birds Tasmania, said the farm was killing eagles drawn in from adjacent areas. It is a black hole for them.

Already the species is being hammered by forestry and shooting. The wind farm is an additional threat that they just don't need," he said. Mr Woehler said the company had been able to model weather conditions likely to attract eagles to two areas of the three stage development, but not yet in the third stage, commissioned 15 months ago. It carries 25 of the farm's largest turbines.

Set on coastal hills in Tasmania's far north-west, Woolnorth's turbines can generate up to 140 megawatts of green power. The company said in addition to minimising the risk of collisions on the site, it was taking part in programs throughout Tasmania to protect eagle nest sites.

TV, videos hit in Libs' new energy game plan

Sun Herald
Sunday 31/8/2008 Page: 9

FLATSCREEN televisions, video game consoles and computers would be required to carry energy labels, and companies would receive tax rewards for cutting power use under a radical NSW Opposition plan to curb energy consumption. Liberals leader Barry O'Farrell revealed yesterday he would take a package of energy measures to the next election along with a still-to-be revealed power privatisation policy.

The strategy is clearly aimed at addressing concern the Opposition is playing little more than a blocking role in the power debate. "Energy policy shouldn't only be about how we make energy. It should also be about how we use it," Mr O'Farrell told The Sun-Herald.

"An integrated policy from government should be about encouraging and fostering smarter and sustainable low-energy lifestyle choices by households. We need to create incentives for people to reduce their energy footprints" Mr O'Farrell said while whitegoods such as refrigerators and dishwashers were sold with detailed energy-use labels, the same attention needed to be given to popular home electronic devices such as flatscreen televisions, video game consoles and personal computers.

"People are worried about climate change," he said. "They see all these big issues discussed and they want practical solutions' The O'Farrell package would promote the use of smart meters to give households up-to-date and precise information on their power usage. Incentives would encourage households and business to use solar and other energy-saving devices and to better insulate their properties.

"We need government to take leadership by making low-energy light bulbs and timers mandatory in government buildings," he said. "NSW agencies have blown their greenhouse gas reduction targets and they have now stopped reporting their progress" A controversial measure at a time of slumping state revenue is to give tax breaks - primarily through payroll tax deductions - to companies using "cutting-edge" approaches to cutting energy use.

"We will go to the next election with a policy that has two strands - one looking at supply and the other focusing on demand with incentives and rewards for good behaviour." Mr O'Farrell said the Opposition was still waiting to see details of the Government's "fallback" power plan which involves selling the state owned electricity retailers while leaving the generators in public hands.

Power Plan
  • Energy labels for TVs, game consoles and computers
  • Smart meters to provide household with detailed information on power use
  • Financial incentives for insulation and other energy conservation devices
  • Mandatory use of low energy bulbs and timers in government buildings
  • Training and education for business
  • Payroll tax deductions for cutting-edge companies

Our coal emissions are worst

Herald Sun
Friday 29/8/2008 Page: 7

AUSTRALIANS continue to lead the world on creating emissions from burning coal, pumping the equivalent of 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year per person, a global study has shown. The Centre for Global Development, a Washington think-tank, yesterday also revealed Australia is the planet's eighth biggest carbon polluter.

The study of emissions from 50,000 coal-tired power stations put China, the US, India, Russia, Germany, Japan and Britain ahead of Australia in total carbon dioxide output. But each Australian produced almost the same amount of emissions as Americans - 9.5 tonnes per person - and Indians - 0.6 tonnes - combined.

The Chinese produced just 2.4 tonnes per person a year, but this year outstripped the US as the biggest emitter. According to the study, which draws on the Carbon Monitoring for Action databank, Victoria's Loy Yang A, Hazelwood and Yallourn power stations are among Australia's dirtiest.

Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson yesterday told the first meeting of the National Low Emissions Coal Council that developing carbon capture and storage technology was a priority. "Clearly, no serious response to climate change can ignore the need to reduce emissions from Australia's coal-tired electricity generation sector," a spokesman for Mr Ferguson said.

Coal produced about 80 per cent of Australia's electricity and about a third of its greenhouse gas emissions, he said. Climate Positive research director Matthew Wright said: "We should ... move away from using coal by retrofitting as many generators as we can to make ... power from gas, as a first step, while we roll out renewable energy infrastructure."

Monday 15 September 2008

Woodside warns of risk from CO2 plan

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 28/8/2008 Page: 27

Woodside Petroleum has warned that the development of its $US25 billion-plus ($29 billion-plus) Browse liquefied natural gas project could be placed at risk by the Federal Government's proposed emissions trading scheme. The Browse fields contain higher levels of carbon dioxide than the fields feeding the North-West Shelf joint venture and Woodside's Pluto and Sunrise LNG projects, although lower levels than the Chevron-led Gorgon joint venture.

"Browse is big and it is costly and it is higher CO2 reservoir content," Woodside's chief executive, Don Voelte, said after reporting half-year earnings of $1 billion yesterday. "If the current discussion paper does not get it correct, we will need to dramatically reduce the spending on [Browse] in 2009 and beyond." Woodside signed provisional contracts with China's PetroChina and Taiwan's China Petroleum last year to supply gas from the Browse project but it has the option to supply gas from the second train at its Pluto project, or from its Sunrise project, if those are developed more quickly.

Mr Voelte said the preferred development concepts for Browse - a joint venture with BHP Billiton, BP Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell - had been narrowed to two options. It plans to either build a new LNG facility in the Kimberley or build a long pipeline to send gas to its North-West Shelf or Pluto sites in Karratha. The North-West Shelf has space for three production trains; Pluto can fit two more trains.

The Herald understands Woodside is examining carbon sequestration to help cut emissions at the project, possibly in a similar manner to a proposal for the Gorgon project on Barrow Island. Woodside has disappointed the market by being unable to discover enough gas to underpin the development of a second production train at its $12 billion Pluto project. Mr Voelte said Woodside was in talks with third parties with nearby gas discoveries. The market was pleased by Woodside's first-half underlying earnings, which were 86 per cent higher than the same period last year due to increased production and higher oil prices.

Woodside has maintained its annual production forecast of between 80 million and 86 million barrels of oil equivalent, although a Citigroup analyst, Di Brockman, warned the second half was heavily weighted with production start-ups and associated risk. Mr Voelte said the first oil production at its Vincent project was imminent and the fifth train at the North-West Shelf would start shipping cargoes in October. "Woodside is getting very near the point I have always dreamt it could be." he said.

Emissions trading a hard sell without renewables

Clean Energy Council
5 September 2008

In a report released today, Professor Garnaut has upped the ante on the Government's committed emission reduction targets but the clean energy sector says it can't be done without complementary measures.

Rob Jackson, Clean Energy Council's Policy Manager, said "We were hoping to see more details on the modelling so it is unclear exactly how Professor Garnaut proposes we achieve these cuts. What I can tell you is that an expanded renewable energy target (RET) and introduction of an Energy Efficiency Target is needed to immediately stabilise greenhouse gas emissions and take pressure off emissions trading."

With Garnaut's suggested price caps, the government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) won't be enough to turn the tide on energy investments, and we need complementary measures in place to cut energy waste and guarantee a growing portion of our power comes from renewable sources.

"Professor Garnaut has set a starting price of $20 but this just isn't high enough to deliver pollution reduction or to allow clean energy to compete against high emission fossil fuels. At that rate, we could see Australia end up with higher electricity prices, little abatement and no renewable energy infrastructure" warned Mr Jackson.

"Garnaut's proposal merely highlights the need for renewable energy and energy efficiency." "In order to achieve the necessary cuts to Australia's emissions, we must ensure long-term investor certainty. An expanded RET will deliver investments worth over $20 billion in zero-emission, renewable power while guaranteeing our ongoing energy security.

Many of the Council's members who are global renewable energy investors are preparing to invest under an expanded renewable energy target due to be implemented in the coming months, thereby committing to investment in Australia rather than overseas. "Australia's stationary energy sector is responsible for 50% of our greenhouse gas emissions, so any climate change solution must target the energy sector first."

Aussie carbon scheme to halt Indon logging

Thursday 28/8/2008 Page: 9

AN Australian not-for-profit company has joined Indonesia's carbon credits stampede with a project it claims will sidestep the 'snake-oil merchants and carpetbaggers" in the market. Australian forestry businessman Nigel Turvey is behind the scheme, which will be launched tomorrow with a 30,000ha project in Mamuju, West Sulawesi. Rather than targeting high volume illegal logging, the project is based on halting already approved logging by an Indonesian state-private joint enterprise forestry company.

"We're not calling this a carbon credits project," he said. "We're simply saying, this is the price of timber, this is what it will cost to stop cutting down forests. We're also not asking that the forests be locked up for 99 years, which is more how the carbon credits market operates." The Mamuju endeavour will cost $US6.5 million ($7.5 million) annually, with the money coming from Indonesian and foreign businesses, including, Dr Turvey hopes, Australian firms.

It is to be launched by Indonesia's forestry minister, MS Kaban, who has been implicated in corruption scandals. Three similar projects are expected to begin in Kalimantan, Sumatra and Papua under the supervision of Dr Turvey's Keep the Habitat company, for a commitment of 500,000ha. Australia has pledged about $240 million to greenhouse gas reduction projects in Southeast Asia, much of it to be spent in Indonesia. Little of that money has yet been allocated and Dr Turvey said his project would not be lobbying for any of it.

Under the terms of the UN's Kyoto Protocol, developed countries are allowed to buy so-called carbon credits by investing in developing countries, to discount against their own greenhouse gas productions. More and more companies have spotted the golden business opportunity this provides by buying and selling credits without any clear oversight on how the money is spent.

Dr Turvey, who said there were "snake oil merchants and carpetbaggers in any new market", said his project's strongest contribution was in the area of governance. "We have clear terms in our agreements about how we sub-contract, and if we need to sack contractors, we can," he said. Dr Turvey said he became interested in the Indonesian project after working in the country's plantation and reforestation industry in the 1990s.

Wind farm plan

Adelaide Advertiser
Friday 29/8/2008 Page: 85

THE Czech Republic's dominant power utility, CEZ, says it will invest US$1.6 billion in a 600-megawatt wind farm in Romania. CEZ said the farm - 17km from the Black Sea, north of the port of Constanta - is expected to become fully operational by the end of 2010. The farm will eventually become Europe's largest onshore wind farm, CEZ said yesterday.