Thursday 11 December 2008

Air of power in hydrogen bond

West Australian
Saturday 29/11/2008 Page: 6

Air of power in hydrogen bondA house powered partly by fresh air, producing no greenhouse gas emissions, could become a reality in WA if a trial in Queensland is successful. Electricity company Ergon Energy is researching it using a display home at the Satterley Property Group's Smithfield Village Estate in Cairns. Satterley chief executive Nigel Satterley said it involved the use of a small hydrogen fuel-cell where compressed hydrogen gas was mixed with oxygen from the air to generate electricity.

Ergon Energy is putting more than $1 million into the research and development of the system, which uses a commercial fuel-cell product. According to Mr Satterley, the fuel-cell system will run for about two hours a day to demonstrate the supply of electricity to the house during peak times and determine how well its generation capability integrates with the mains electricity network. This is the prototype of the system and it's housed in a small shed. However, the researchers are working on ways to reduce its size to suit today's smaller blocks.

Ergon Energy spokeswoman Jenny Gannon said the system's ability to start up instantly was one of its benefits. It did not depend on sun or wind to generate power and was available on demand 24 hours a day. "If mains electricity supply is lost, the fuel-cell system can isolate from the mains network and supply sufficient power to maintain basic services, such as running a fridge and lighting," she said. If successful, the system would have the potential to help support an electricity network by reducing demand on the grid at peak times and delaying the need to build costly bigger and better powerlines and infrastructure.

Mr Satterley said the trial had far-reaching implications in WA where big distances made electricity supplies to remote areas more difficult, particularly at times of peak demand. He said it could also be the next "quantum leap" for the company's estates such as Evermore Heights in Baldivis, where environmentally important measures such as photovoltaic power generation cells and rainwater tanks were provided at no extra cost for buyers. At the estate, the company had also built an environmentally friendly home which slashed about 40 per cent off household power and 60 per cent off potable water usage.

Polluters to `profit' from carbon trade

Canberra Times
Saturday 29/11/2008 Page: 15

Australia needs a carbon permit reduction scheme to ensure big polluters don't profit from well intentioned public efforts to cut greenhouse emissions, a leading economist says. Director of the Australia Institute policy think tank Richard Denniss claims a loophole in the Rudd Government's emissions trading scheme means energy savings would free tip carbon permits that could then be re-allocated at a cheaper price to polluters. The scheme does not reward energy efficiency, making it futile for ]tome owners or businesses to invest in tackling climate change, he said. "No one wants to hear this policy home truth - it's like farting in the elevator," Dr Denniss said.

'By saving energy, people will only increase the amount of pollution others can keep on emitting. Every tonne of carbon dioxide saved just frees tip a tonne that can be used by elsewhere." Dr Denniss said Australia needed to develop a "secondary market" to assign a market value for home energy savings and make them count as part of a national effort to cut greenhouse emissions. "Otherwise, people will feel cheated when they realise the money they've spent installing solar panels or energy-efficient lights will ultimately benefit the aluminium or cement industries, not the environment.

They may as well turn on all the lights and run the air-conditioning with all the windows open." The Rudd Government announced yesterday it would issue its white paper outlining the final design of its proposed emissions reduction scheme on December 15, after Climate Change Minister Penny Wong returns from a United Nations climate change conference in Poland. Senator Wong said the global financial situation had made it crucial to provide business certainty on how the scheme would work.

"The Rudd Government has heard the calls for certainty from business leaders and that is why we are proceeding to finalise scheme design and get on with the job of putting the scheme in place," she said. Dr Denniss said that under the Rudd Government's scheme a fixed cap on emissions would also "act as a floor", below which greenhouse emissions could not fall. "It reflects the demands of the polluters rather than scientific evidence. Australian households have been disempowered. There is virtually nothing they can do to reduce Australia's total emissions below the target set by the Government.

The irony is that the less we do to cut emissions, the more the big polluters are forced to do," he said. "If demand for electricity is reduced, coal-fired power stations need to buy fewer permits, which frees tip more permits to be brought at a cheaper rate by other industries." Dr Denniss said smart meters could be used to audit and verify home or business energy savings, "but there's no point in having smart meters if you've got a dumb policy".

University of Melbourne professor of geography and environmental studies Peter Christoff said the loophole was "a major contradiction that needed to be resolved" before a national emissions trading scheme was introduced. One solution was to develop an energy-savings credit system that reduces the total volume of emissions permits in relation to community effort, he said. "If the Government does that, people can see their efforts are being acknowledged and that they are making a difference. It also puts the polluters on notice, by progressively reducing the number of permits available to trade."

Energy security vital: Alcoa head

Saturday 29/11/2008 Page: 6

AUSTRALIA must implement a long-term energy strategy or risk dire environmental and economic consequences, Alcoa chairman Alan Cransberg has warned. Mr Cransberg yesterday called for a national security strategy to guarantee the nation's energy requirements for the next 50 to 100 years. "Energy security is absolutely critical in the issue of climate change and our capacity to meet the greenhouse challenge," he told yesterday's meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia.

"For too long we have been focused on expanding and maximising energy exports, without proper protection for our own future generations." Long-term energy contracts of more than 20 years were to the detriment of Australia's energy needs, Mr Cransberg said, because it meant the energy was no longer available for the local economy. "Those foreign-contract prices have been regularly spiralling upward with telling consequences for local users."

Securing sufficient energy stores was a key national security consideration, he said, because of the growing dependence on "supplies from politically unstable regions" and the growing demand for oil and gas. The chairman also emphasised that his company supported cutting greenhouse emissions but only if it did not adversely affect people's social and economic needs. "Any scheme must pass the basic test of firstly reducing global emissions and government must balance reduced emissions against social and economic consequences.

Climate-change regulation is pivotal to the energy challenges that now confront industry," Mr Cransberg said. But, he said, the Federal Government roust realise that penalising Australian companies through over-regulation of the carbon pollution reduction scheme would compound the world's economic decline and have a negative impact on reducing global greenhouse-gas emissions.

Renewable energy not an eyesore

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 29/11/2008 Page: 50

THE state's landscape vistas have been changed by the arrival of wind farms, and it would be fair to expect many more to join them. South Australia, with its big westerly airstreams and open landscapes, is ideal for wind generation. It is amazing to think the industry in the state has gone from a theoretical proposition to reality in such a short time. The investment of hundreds of millions of dollars, the farms earning money from their winds, the flow of energy into our electricity grids, and the towers dotting the landscape took less than five years.

We became the largest windpower producer in Australia. With output headed for 800MW, or about 17 per cent of the state's needs, SA has shown how quickly green energy can become reality. Most wind farms are in obscure corners of the state, and will not be seen by anyone but the locals and curious travellers. SA never had the rich coal deposits of the eastern states, but it has abundant renewable energy sources, so its role as an incubator of solar, geothermal, wind, tidal and wave power should be sung from the rooftops.

Advances in these technologies pose new challenges to our planning rules. Is a ridge bedecked with wind towers more disturbing than the towers of major powerlines? Personally, I don't think so. Than a major smokestack? I doubt it. Than a new freeway? Unlikely. We digest these big impositions on our landscape and try to learn to live with them. Last year, a national framework for assessing wind farms was funded by the Federal Government and drawn up by the National Trust and Auswind. NSW, Victoria and Western Australia are using the framework, but SA has yet to agree to it.

Greenhouse challenge

Courier Mail
Friday 28/11/2008 Page: 44

INVESTMENT and superannuation funds manager Australian Ethical Investment has challenged the Rudd Government to take effective action to combat climate change. Anne O'Donnell, chief executive of the listed Canberra-based fund manager, called for a legally binding target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 per cent by 2020. Next month the Federal Government is to set out its plans for medium-term emission targets.

Ms O'Donnell said decisions in the next few years would determine whether the worst of dangerous climate change could be avoided. "It is irresponsible to continue to base our economy and society on energy sources that are having such a devastating impact on our planet," Ms O'Donnell told shareholders this week.

Australian Ethical Investment, whose value of funds under management grew 2 per cent to $562 million as of June and had a 20 per cent return on equity, is urging the Rudd Government to introduce a target for renewable or limitless energy sources to generate a quarter of Australia's energy supplies by 2020. Separately, consulting firm Mercer yesterday said investing in carbon futures contracts would provide a hedge for investors wanting to protect themselves against climate change risk.

San Fran plans a greener future

Canberra Times
Friday 28/11/2008 Page: 17

Officials in California have unveiled ambitious plans to turn the San Francisco Bay area - home to 7.6 million people - into one of the world's leading centres for electric vehicles. If it succeeds, the strategy will see billions of dollars poured into a power infrastructure that will turn the region away from fossil fuels and persuade millions of people to switch to green transport technology. The plan, which will see the bay area become the first region of California to switch its transport systems entirely away from traditional fuels, is being supported by local government as well as the state's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"California is already a world leader in fighting global warming and promoting renewable energy," he said. "This partnership is proof that by working together we can achieve our goals of creating a healthier planet while boosting our economy." Globally, cars generate about 20 per cent of the world's output of carbon dioxide and California's cars account for 40 per cent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions.

Replacing around 1 million petrol cars with electric cars by 2015 will make a big difference. At least $US1 billion is expected to be spent on improving green transport infrastructure to make the bay area - encompassing the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, as well as Silicon Valley - the leading centre for electric vehicles in America, and potentially around the world.

The electric transportation company Better Place will build a network of kerbside charging points across cities in the area and create the equivalent of filling stations, where electric car owners will be able to replace their flat batteries for charged ones. With a charged Better Place battery, a typical car will be able to travel 160km.

The local government will also work to harmonise standards across the region so that drivers of electric vehicles can travel the length and breadth of the bay area without worrying about finding the right kind of charging station. Most users of the Better Place system would pay a monthly subscription for unlimited access to the company's services. Visitors could also use the charging points for a one-off fee.

"You can plug in any car," said Jason Wolf, the California business manager at Better Place. "In California, everyone who's bought Teslas, everyone who has bought plug-in hybrids or electric cars that are not in tight relationship with us, will be able to plug into our network." California, the world's eighth largest economy, has some of the most progressive climate-change legislation. The state aims to reduce greenhouse gas levels to 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The plans will put California on a footing with other countries leading the attempt to introduce electric cars, including Israel, Denmark and Australia. Last month, Britain pledged £100 million. Wolf said the first cars in the California scheme would be deployed in 2010.

Aussie exchange warms up offset market

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Wednesday 26/11/2008 Page: 8

The Federal Government's carbon pollution reduction scheme is set to be introduced in 2010 and Australia's voluntary carbon market is becoming more active in readiness. The price a tonne of carbon dioxide that is traded on the Australian Climate Exchange (ACX) is an indication of this momentum. The exchange is a joint venture between the ASX and Australian Pacific Exchange Limited.

The government's greenhouse watchdog Greenhouse Friendly approves abatements such as voluntary carbon units, which is then traded on the ACX. Sydney-based organisation Climate Friendly is another way for businesses to buy carbon offsets or credits, by purchasing an Australian GreenPower renewable energy certificate. Climate Friendly is a founding member of the International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance. Internet sites like Carbon Offset Guide Australia and Carbon Offset Watch. The Carbon Market Expo Australasia attracted carbon credit producers and businesses including Greenfleet, AGL, Landcare, Origin Energy and CO2 Group.

Note: The exchange is a joint venture between ACX Ltd, not ASX, and APX.

Wednesday 10 December 2008

B&B Wind wants to sever all family ties

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 27/11/2008 Page: 27

Babcock and BrownCOMPLETE independence from Babcock and Brown beckons for its ASX-listed wind energy offshoot, B&B Wind Partners, after a push by investors for the fund to sever the final remaining links between the two companies. Having agreed last week to loosen the ties through which B&B runs B&B Wind and employs the fund's senior executives, the renewable energy company is now seeking complete control over its own management. It is also planning to change its name to put even more distance between it and its debt-stricken mothership, which is facing the prospect of receivership.

The new proposals, presented to B&B on Monday, come less than a week after a joint announcement by the two companies on an initial plan to reduce the bigger group's governance, management and fee-charging hold on B&B Wind. But the changes did not go far enough for many of the fund's investors, including 10 per cent shareholder Kairos which voiced its concerns in a letter on Friday that B&B Wind needed autonomy from its one-time parent as well as a new name. That produced an immediate response from B&B Wind's recently empowered independent directors at yesterday's annual meeting of the fund.

A new plan could see the existing management agreements with B&B terminated and its senior executives taken directly onto its payroll. The fund is also looking to buy more wind assets, thought to be both existing generators and development projects, from B&B which has put several on the market as it desperately seeks to reduce its $3.1 billion of corporate debt. B&B Wind's lead independent director, Tony Battle, said B&B had expressed its willingness to negotiate over the revised plan and that these talks would go on irrespective of what happens to the asset management group.

"The intention would be, under all scenarios, we would assume that negotiations would continue," he said. Mr Battle's comments came as security holders gave overwhelming support to the board's move to raise the current on market buyback of 10 per cent of shares to 30 per cent, in an effort to boost the value of its stock. Yesterday's declarations resulted in B&B Wind's shares rising by nearly 17 per cent - or 10.5c - to 73.5c. However, that is against the backdrop of a fall from $1.60 over the past three months.

Eco-radical residents

Daily Telegraph
Thursday 27/11/2008 Page: 17

COUNCILS would be able to penalise polluters and build wind farms, while state and federal governments would cap Australia's population and ban all future coal mines. These are just a handful of inventive solutions to tackling climate change inspired by average Central Coast residents. Knowing most community workshops on environmental issues attract the same die-hard eco warriors or alternative energy pundits, the NSW Nature Conservation Council set about hosting a climate change summit with a difference.

Sixteen local councils across NSW took part in the summit, each holding a two-day forum. Two thousand Gosford and Wyong ratepayers were randomly invited to take part in the local forum at Erina with the group eventually narrowed down to 16. The forum involved a process called "deliberative democracy" in which participants listened to talks from a panel of experts on four areas of climate change before breaking up into small groups to reach a consensus on what actions should be taken.

Their recommendations will join those from the 16 other local council areas to form a statewide, community-based report to help shape the NSW Climate Change Action Plan. The climate plan is expected to be ratified by mid next year and replace the existing NSW Greenhouse Plan. The Coast residents' recommendations are broken down into three categories community or individual actions, local government actions and state/federal actions. Across all three categories, residents have called for a "sense of urgency" when it comes to dealing with climate change.

Individually they recommend families lead by example cutting water and power use in their homes, planting more trees and becoming more self sufficient by growing community gardens. Local councils are urged to factor "whole of life" carbon costs in all council activities while the state and federal governments are asked to replace coal power stations with renewable sources of energy and to change public transport from user-pays to a cost-versus-benefit model.

$10m for hot rocks

Adelaide Advertiser
Thursday 27/11/2008 Page: 62

HOT rocks explorer GeoDynamics has been given a $10 million grant by the New South Wales Government to develop a commercial geothermal project in Hunter Valley. The NSW Government will invest $27 million in seven renewable energy projects, with GeoDynamics the main player. The funding is for commissioning of a small geothermal power plant in the Hunter Valley in 2012.

China signs $20b LNG deal

West Australian
Wednesday 26/11/2008 Page: 7

Royal Dutch Shell and PetroChina have agreed to a deal likely to be worth at least $20 billion to supply liquefied natural gas to China from gasfields including theGorgon project, off WA's North-West. The agreement will see Shell sell up to two million tonnes of LNG annually for 20 years to PetroChina, China's biggest oil and gas producer. It supersedes a provisional deal signed a year ago under which Shell was to have supplied one million tonnes of LNG a year from the Gorgon project to PetroChina. That was tipped to be worth $10 billion.

Terms and timing of the upgraded agreement, which was announced yesterday but signed in Beijing on Monday, were not released and Shell did not specify where it would source the LNG. It remains unclear whether the extra million tonnes are due to come from Gorgon or from other Shell projects in the Asia-Pacific region. The Anglo-Dutch oil and gas giant has a 25 per cent stake in the Chevron operated Gorgon project, which after years of delays should get the partners' financial go-ahead by early 2010.

The partners, which include Exxon-MobilExxon-Mobil, are eying a 15-million tonne- a-year LNG operation on Barrow Island but are facing a massive development cost, likely to be more than $20 billion, big environmental concerns as well as technical challenges associated with Gorgon project gasfield's high carbon dioxide content. Chevron has already warned that extra costs faced by projects such as Gorgon project because of the Federal Government's proposed emissions trading scheme could potentially scupper the big-ticket development.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said LNG projects are unlikely to get preferential treatment under the ETS. Shell also has a one-sixth stake in the North West Shelf LNG venture and is pursuing a floating LNG plant for its Prelude gasfield in the Browse Basin. China has continued to lock in energy supplies to help meet longterm needs even as the global financial crisis crimps demand for resources.

"This is a significant step forward in the co-operation between Shell and PetroChina and highlights Shell's continued contribution to assist PetroChina in providing clean energy supplies to China," Shell's executive chairman in China, Lim Haw Kuang, said. China is building new LNG terminals in anticipation of increased imports in coming years, as it shifts away from reliance on heavily polluting coal to cleaner energy. PetroChina this year signed a 25- year deal with Shell and Qatargas to buy three million tonnes of LNG a year from Qatar, the world's biggest LNG exporter.

Atlantis goes with the flow to harness the tide

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Wednesday 26/11/2008 Page: 16

Before the advent of the financial crisis taking precedence, the issue of climate change was in the spotlight with Australia signing the Kyoto Protocol, green issues officially in vogue, carbon trading on its way to being established and alternative energy gaining popularity. However Atlantis Resource Corporation's Timothy Cornelius says the last six to 12 weeks has seen an 'unprecedented level of inquiry in our business.' The tidal energy specialist has two sub-sea turbines, the Nereus shallow water/river turbine, and the Solon AG deep water turbine.

The company already has a 150 kilowatt Nereus connected to the electricity grid at its Victorian San Remo site, and intends to install, early next year, two 500kW Solon AG turbines. According to Cornelius, in part it is to repay the faith which was shown by the Parks Victoria and the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment. Presently, Atlantis' most ambitious project is a 150 megawatt installation on Pentland Firth, which separates the Scottish mainland from the Orkney Isles. The project is to power a Morgan Stanley data centre.

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Clean sweep of the beaches

Sun Herald
Sunday 23/11/2008 Page: 63

Matthew NottLIVING in a coastal community and having young children has spurred Matthew Nott into action on climate change. The orthopedic surgeon from the tiny community of Tathra on the NSW Far South Coast is the driving force behind a move to introduce clean energy to the Bega Valley. The movement started out relatively small - raising $20,000 to install a wind turbine and solar panel on the roof of a surf club. But now, under the banner of Clean Energy for Eternity, the group's aims have grown and Nott says the next step is raising about $8 million to build a community-owned solar energy farm.

The Federal Government has committed $100,000 for a feasibility study into the project and has promised another $1 million. Nott wants to establish a model other communities can follow. "We want to set ourselves up as a centre of excellence for renewable energy," he says. The Tathra community has already won plaudits for caring for the environment. Last year, it beat more than 100 other entrants to win Keep Australia Beautiful's NSW Clean Beach Challenge.

When the award was announced, judges called Tathra Beach "the pearl of the South Coast", adding "Tathra has some fantastic community involvement in some great environmental outcomes, including the dune restoration and bush regeneration, which has taken place right along Tathra Beach". The median house price in Tathra is $375,000. Property available ranges from a basic three-bedroom house for $265,000 to a 19-hectare eco-getaway with an innovative, two-bedroom, corrugated iron home that runs on solar energy and has a separate studio with bathroom. The asking price is $1.38 million.

Real estate agent at Marshall and Tacheci, Robert Tacheci, says the stretch of coast between Bermagui and Tathra is attractive because it has a raw beauty and is home to a community that is environmentally conscious and has diverse cultural interests, including art and music. "I think the community goes with the area," he says. "That you'll find the people who'll go for the area tend to have that taste because it's one of the last little unspoilt bits [along the coast].

"If you were to follow the Princes Highway up and down the coast from Sydney to Melbourne, you've actually got this little bit that was somehow bypassed. That seems to have left an area that people are really drawn to for that reason." Further north, at Batemans Bay, the local Coastwatchers Association successfully pushed for the 85,000-hectare Batemans Marine Park, where the commercial fishing practices of trawling, long-lining and dredging are banned.

The group's next campaign is convincing government and landholders that the region's forests should not be wood chipped. In Batemans Bay, the median price of houses is $312,500 and as the economic downturn bites, many properties on the market are subject to substantial discounting. Coastwatchers president Mark Flemming says he is not opposed to development but would rather housing was built on already degraded farming land set hundreds of metres back from the water and off coastal dunes.

Flemming welcomes moves by developers to recognise better environmental principles in housing design. "There's no doubt that using intelligent design at subdivision stage is a really good idea," he says. "We think a subdivision should be designed so that those sort of issues can be taken into account, [including] north-facing blocks."

Push to take the wind out of B&B

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 24/11/2008 Page: 21

A MAJOR shareholder of the debt-distressed wind energy offshoot of Babcock and Brown is pushing for a complete separation of the fund from its onetime mothership because of the "contagion effect" caused by the group's dire financial troubles. The Kairos Fund, which owns more than 10 per cent of the alternative energy provider and developer, is pushing for B&B Wind to change its name and divorce itself totally from B&B. With B&B facing severe financial difficulties that could lead to its collapse, Kairos said the group's troubles and those of its other listed power and infrastructure funds required "urgent action" to try to ring-fence BBW from any further fallout.

Kairos, which first bought into BBW in May 2006 and is a Cayman Islands-based vehicle of a British investment company, is pushing the wind company's shareholders to consider three major measures to cut its remaining ties with B&B: buying out the management contract by which B&B runs the wind fund - Kairos claims a precedent has been set by a recently orchestrated deal between Babcock and Brown Capital and B&B; a new name with no mention of B&B in the title; and taking on the existing B&B managers, including the chief executive and finance director, as direct employees reporting to an independent BBW board.

The proposals were contained in a letter sent to BBW's security holders late on Friday and were attached to a forthcoming vote by investors on the appointment of Graham Kelly as the fund's new independent chairman. They represent a significant step further than a new management agreement outlined between BBW and B&B on Friday giving the fund more say in its own operations but with its mothership retaining a major role in the wind business.

Get paid for solar power on your roof

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 24/11/2008 Page: 3

HOUSEHOLDERS who put solar panels on their roofs and generate power that feeds back into the electricity grid will be paid a fee, but how much will not be decided until January. The move to introduce the "feed-in tariff" will be announced today by the NSW Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Carmel Tebbutt, at a solar energy conference in Sydney.

It marks an end to the State Government's opposition to the solar subsidies. The Energy Minister, Ian Macdonald, is backing it despite strong objections from one of the state's main energy retailers, EnergyAustralia. NSW is the last state to introduce the solar subsidy or feed-in tariff.

"We know the community want to act on climate change and this is one way the NSW Government can support people who want cleaner, greener energy," Ms Tebbutt told the Herald. 'A feed-in tariff makes solar panels more affordable because people are paid for the clean electricity they produce." But the minister and a state taskforce on the tariff, which will report in January, will face intense lobbying from the solar industry, which does not want NSW to follow the example of Victoria, South Australia and Queensland. Those states have announced only a minimal solar feed-in tariff that leaves most solar households with little or no fee after they pay their own electricity bills.

"We're pleased that NSW is looking at a feed-in tariff," said Muriel Watt, who chairs the main solar panel industry group. But Dr Watt said NSW should introduce a "gross" feed-in tariff where power companies pay households for all the electricity they generate, including their own, at a premium rate. The household would then be billed at the normal rate for their own power use. This would be an incentive to people who invest in solar panels to feed into to the electricity grid.

Dr Watt said states like Victoria paying "net" feed-in tariffs provided little incentive for households to install solar panels. "With normal electricity use on a normal [solar panel] system you're not going to earn anything, so it won't be driving any change much," she said. The debate over the feed-in tariff has been fraught in Australia.

Only two state governments, Western Australia and the ACT, are committed to the more generous "gross" feed-in tariff. A recent Senate inquiry heard evidence from the industry, here and overseas, that a "gross" tariff paid to businesses as well as households had proved successful in massively expanding solar energy in Germany and Spain. "We'll await the advice from the taskforce," Ms Tebbutt said. "It's got to be a fair and reasonable tariff for people who do return electricity to the grid and it shouldn't place a disproportionate burden on all electricity consumers".

The head of the International Energy Agency, Nobuo Tanaka, arrived in Australia yesterday to address the Clean Energy Council on the need for an "energy revolution" to prevent global greenhouse gas emissions triggering a rise in the world's temperature of 6 degrees by the end of the century.

"I think everyone thinks a 6-degree rise is not sustainable," Mr Tanaka told the Herald. "The issue is how we can achieve emissions reductions somehow without causing economic growth to slowdown." Mr Tanaka said to keep the temperature from rising above 2 degrees, which scientists say would avoid dangerous climate change, renewable energy, including hydro power, would have to rise to 40 per cent of all energy used by 2030. "It's possible, but very costly, very difficult and challenging."

Origin to pursue solar plan

Adelaide Advertiser
Tuesday 25/11/2008 Page: 41

Origin Energy will continue plans to expand its pilot solar cell-making plant in Adelaide despite rival BP Solar announcing the closure of its 200-worker Sydney solar cell factory in March. Funds for a commercial-scale plant at Regency Park to make sliver cell solar panels, a new panel using 90 per cent less silicon than conventional cells, were expected to be committed for construction to begin in March this year.

Larger volumes of product were expected to come on stream in 2010. However, Origin Energy spokesman Philip Mackey said there had been some "bumps in the road" in research and development. "We would like to have been further advanced than we are now," he said. Mr Mackey said Origin Energy's issues differed from BP Solar's reasons for closing Australian operations. BP Solar blamed high costs for the closure of its Sydney plant.

Fight to keep Babcock alive

Daily Telegraph
Tuesday 25/11/2008 Page: 44

Babcock and Brown wind farmLEADING Australian banks are trying to stitch together a rescue plan for Babcock and Brown as a group of German lenders to the troubled group agitate for a winding up of the company. B&B shares are due to resume trading on the ASX this morning, but uncertainty surrounding the group's ability to service its bulging bank debt is likely to result in the company seeking an extension to its current trading halt.

Yesterday, sources close to the company cast doubt on whether its scrip would trade again amid heightened concern that its lenders will pull the plug on the group. The depth of Babcock's woes are such that the company could be put in the hands of administrators before the end of the month. B&B bosses had emergency talks at the weekend with representatives of a 25-member banking syndicate to which the investment bank owes more than $3.1 billion.

It is understood that the Australian members of the syndicate NAB, Westpac, Commonwealth and ANZ are keen to find a way for the company to remain viable, but offshore lenders such as Germany's HypoVereinsBank (HVB) and West LB are losing confidence in the heavily leveraged group. Last week HVB took the extraordinary step of freezing B&B's ability to draw on $146 million of deposits it held with the Munich based bank. The HVB action prompted the trading halt and angered the local banks, which are collectively owed about $700 million.

"The talks are continuing between Babcock's advisers and the syndicate's representatives to see if there might be a way forward," a party close to the weekend talks said. "But I would say if Babcock doesn't get access to the cash at HypoVereinsBank, then they are probably history. On that basis, the outlook is grim." Westpac has the largest direct lending exposure to B&B, with more than $200 million at risk.

A collapse of B&B would have far-reaching impact on all of the banks' balance sheets and the Australian economy as a whole. The local banks would have to book losses on loans made to a string of B&B satellites if the parent group were to fail. "It would be a messy event for the Aussie banks and something they would no doubt prefer to avoid," one analyst said.

Hospitals turn to the sun for savings

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Wednesday 26/11/2008 Page: 14

The carbon management unit of Queensland Health has overseen the installation of solar parabolic panels at Ipswich and Nambour General Hospitals, which use solar energy to heat water, chill water, and power air conditioning. Queensland Health calls the initiative 'energy performance contracting', a strategy that so far has reduced greenhouse gas emissions the equivalent of taking 16,000 cars off the road per year.

Heavy emitters claim ETS will force them out

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Wednesday 26/11/2008 Page: 4

The lead and zinc smelter at Port Pirie in South Australia is the town's largest employer, however the smelter's owners, Belgium-based Nyrstar, says its future is under threat because of the national emissions trading scheme. According to chief operating officer, Greg McMillan, modelling undertaken by Nyrstar shows that $70 million a year would be lost at a carbon price of $40 per tonne, enough to force its smelters at Port Pirie and Hobart to be closed down.

A number of emissions intensive, trade-exposed (EITE) industries have warned that the Federal Government's proposed scheme could lead to 'carbon leakage' whereby companies will be unable to pass on a carbon price to their customers, thus putting them at a disadvantage to overseas competitors. According to government proposals, the most emission-intensive companies would receive 90 percent of their emissions permits for free, with less intensive companies receiving 60 percent. Companies such as Nyrstar and liquefied natural gas producer Woodside Petroleum will miss out on permits given they are not sufficiently emissions intensive.

The Business Council of Australia has proposed new EITE investments be exempted from Australia's cap; while the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network - who represents large emitters such as CSR, Alcoa and Rio Tinto - has proposed that the cap on limits be increased to 45 percent - from 20 percent. During September, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said a balance needed to be met between providing assistance and not putting Australian companies to a disadvantage. Recently, a report from the International Energy Agency noted that experience suggested carbon leakage was not as great a problem as was claimed.

Hot rocks policy no longer just hot air - Geothermal energy to be supported with new law

Northern Territory News
Wednesday 26/11/2008 Page: 19

Geothermal energy will be encouraged to set up in the Territory with a new law introduced to Parliament tomorrow. The Territory Government has announced its "hot rocks" policy five times in two years - but was never introduced as a law. Resources Minister Kon Vatskalis is expected to introduce the Bill on Thursday. "geothermal energy resources have the potential to provide clean, reliable and renewable energy, capable of a wide range of uses," he said.

It has the potential to deliver energy with very low or no greenhouse emissions." The Bill will create a framework to facilitate and regulate the exploration and extraction of geothermal energy. The regulations will be modelled on the rules for the petroleum and mining industries. Mr Vatskalis said natural heat energy had the capacity to provide base load power, equivalent to gas a coal fire power stations. Mr Vatskal is told Parliament in February 2006 that the geothermal BilI would be ready by the end of the year.

The Bill was then re announced in October 2006 by his successor Chris Natt. In February 2007, Mr Natt also promised parliament a geothermal energy bill, which was repeated in November. And in February this year, Chief Minister Paul Henderson also made reference to geothermal energy when he told parliament climate change was "one of the most critical issues facing the Northern Territory".

Methane power more than GE hot air

Herald Sun
Wednesday 26/11/2008 Page: 61

POWER titan GE Energy is champing at the bit for Australia's carbon policy to crystallise and ignite investor confidence in its eco-technologies. Announcing the commissioning of a methane power plant at AngloCoal's Moranbah North coal mine in Queensland, GE Energy Australia manager Tim Rourke said yesterday he was looking forward to many more business opportunities when carbon trading began.

The potential to capture fugitive methane emissions from existing Australian coal mines could produce 500 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 600,000 homes, Mr Rourke said. Methane has 21 times the greenhouse warming potential of carbon dioxide. Also yesterday, International Energy Agency chief Nobuo Tanaka told a Queensland forum energy efficiency and renewable energy needed to deliver more than three quarters of the world's greenhouse gas cuts by 2030 if global warming was to be kept to a 2 degree Celsius temperature rise.

"On current trends, energy related emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases could push average global temperatures up by as much as 6 degrees in the long term," Mr Tanaka told the Clean Energy Council conference. The energy sector would have to play the central role in curbing emissions through improvements in efficiency and rapid switching to renewables and other low carbon technologies, he said.

Mr Rourke said the AngloCoal project represented "a bold effort to help Australia curtail its emissions". At 45.6 megawatts, and with a capacity to power 60,000 homes, the Moranbah North gas-to-electricity plant is the largest coal-mine generator GE Energy has fitted out in Australia.

It began operating seven weeks ahead of schedule and Energy Developments, which manages the gas plant, will be selling any power not used by the mine into the electricity grid. It uses hi-tech Austrian Jenbacher engines instead of traditional turbines, the supply of which struggles to meet current global demand. "As soon as CPRS (carbon pollution reduction scheme) and ETS (emissions trading) policies are spelt out, people will begin investing," Mr Rourke said. "Twenty dollars a (carbon) tonne would be a good start to stimulate investment." he added.

Australia cries foul over climate rules on developing nations

Wednesday 26/11/2008 Page: 2

Canberra is pushing to change the rules for international climate change talks in Copenhagen next year to prevent rich developed countries, such as Singapore and South Korea, being required to do less because the Kyoto Protocol classifies them as developing.

Australia argues that the next global climate change deal should require binding economy-wide targets of developed countries, with unspecified binding "action" required of developing nations. But, in its submission to the UN ahead of next month's meeting in Poznan, Poland, to prepare for the Copenhagen talks, the Australian Government says the Kyoto delineation of developed and developing is unfair.

"Since the convention was adopted in 1992, no work has been done to better differentiate the responsibilities of parties beyond ... simple lists which no longer reflect current realities," the Australian submission says. It says the lists were based on which states were members of the OECD in 1992 and that they classify countries such as Singapore, South Korea and Malta as developing, while Ukraine is considered developed.

The lists will become critical if the negotiations lead to the adoption of Australia's preferred position on national commitments for the post-Kyoto period after 2012. Australia will announce a range for its 2020 emission reduction targets next month. Climate Change Minister Penny Wong will attend the talks in Poznan. International Energy Agency executive director Nobuo Tanaka told The Australian yesterday countries such as Australia should not delay greenhouse measures due to the global financial crisis.

"It is not the case that the global financial crisis should delay measures to mitigate climate change because the cost will only get higher in the future," Mr Tanaka said. He warned oil prices could soar after the financial crisis and urged governments to spend some of their fiscal stimulus on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Solar incentive scheme criticised

Sydney Morning Herald
Tuesday 25/11/2008 Page: 12

THE NSW Opposition and green groups have criticised the State Government's solar plans, saying the tariff it has promised to bring in next year will scarcely make a difference to the state's renewable energy performance. The scheme, announced yesterday by the Environment Minister, Carmel Tebbutt, will provide households and small businesses with some payment for generating solar energy, but it is expected to be less than that in some other states.

"The scheme will build the state's green-collar jobs sector by helping solar technology compete with non-renewable electricity," Ms Tebbutt said. A government-appointed task force will examine different types of tariffs and report in January. The debate hinges on whether NSW will adopt a net tariff, in which householders are paid above the market rate for electricity they feed back into the grid, or a gross tariff, in which the subsidy is paid for all power generated from their solar panels.

Ms Tebbutt said a net tariff could attract a payment of up to 60 cents a kilowatt hour, close to four times the cost of coal-fired electricity. The Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, urged the Government to adopt a gross tariff. The NSW Greens called on the Government to adopt gross tariffs, and so did the Property Council of Australia. which would like to see the scheme extended to cover cogeneration and tri-generation of renewable electricity.

Western Australia and the ACT are starting gross tariff schemes, while South Australia, Victoria and Queensland will go ahead with less generous net tariffs. The Federal Government has so far not committed to a national scheme, meaning that the nation will have a patchwork of different subsidies.

A household in the ACT would receive more for the same amount of solar electricity than a household just across the border in NSW, even though both are connected to a common power grid. Ms Tebbutt unveiled the plan at the Australia-Germany Solar and Bio Energy Industry Conference in Sydney.