Thursday 31 December 2009

Almost a quarter of Scotland’s electricity need met by renewables
24 December 2009

Statistics published yesterday (December 23) showed that in 2008 Scotland generated the equivalent of 22% of its electricity needs from renewables, just 9% off its 2011 target. Energy Trends, a quarterly bulletin of UK energy statistics prepared by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), also revealed that there was a 9% increase in the amount of electricity from renewables (8.900 GWh) in 2008. The wind, wave and solar element of this increased by 26%, although this was mainly attributed to wind. The Scottish Government's target is to meet 31% of electricity demand from renewables by 2011 and 50% by 2020, so a 22% figure in 2008 suggests it is on target.

In all, renewables from Scotland accounted for 42% of UK renewable output. The amount of Renewable Obligation (Scotland) eligible electricity generated in Scotland in 2008 was 11% greater than in 2007, while the amount of Renewables Obligation (RO) eligible electricity generated in Wales in 2008 was 18% more than in 2007. In England, the increase was 8% and in Northern Ireland 52%. In the UK as a whole, RO eligible electricity production increased by 11%. UK wide, hydro sources of electricity rose by 39.3% on the third quarter of 2008, while wind rose by 38.9%.

The Scottish Government said that there was now 6.5GW of renewables capacity installed, consented or under construction around Scotland. It added that its Energy Consents and Deployment Unit was currently processing 36 applications (24 onshore wind, 11 hydro and one thermal), amounting to 2.7GW. In 2009, Whitelee, Europe's largest onshore windfarm, was officially switched on and the pioneering Orkney-based Oyster wave energy generator connected to the National Grid.

Energy Minister Jim Mather said that renewables was now a vibrant energy sector that made a significant contribution to sustainable economic growth. "Scotland's energy advantage is in developing the full range of renewable energy sources to create thousands of long term jobs, reduce emissions and meet our energy needs many times over," Mr Mather said.

He added: "The rapid development of renewables is a tangible example of our fight against climate change and we are working to become an international leader in turning alternative energy technologies into the main energy technologies of the future. "We are already on track to exceed our target of 31% of electricity demand from renewables by 2011. "While we witness continued progress in electricity, we are working to boost the use of renewables in heating through our Renewable Heat Action Plan and a new grant scheme for biomass heating."

Environmental body WWF Scotland said that Scotland was showing the way in terms of renewable energy. Lang Banks, head of communications at WWF Scotland said, "2009 has been another good year for renewable energy. With almost six Gigawatts of renewables capacity installed, consented or under construction, Scotland is on course to smash its interim target of meeting 31% of electricity demand from renewables by 2011.

"Green energy has a critical role to play in helping us achieve the 42% reduction in greenhouse gases set out in the world-leading Scottish Climate Change Act. "On and offshore wind, wave, tidal power, hydro, biomass and solar are all going to be important in Scotland's future mix of clean, green energy." Mr Lang added that WWF's own analysis has found that Scotland could meet all its electricity needs by 2030 without the requirement for either nuclear or fossil fuel powered installations.

Dong rides the wind
23 December, 2009

Denmark's DONG Energy has teamed up with German company Siemens to buy half of the Lincs windfarm project in the North Sea from UK utility Centrica. DONG Energy and Siemens Project Ventures will pay 50% of the project's development costs, seen at £50 million ($80.1 million), the state-controlled utility said in a statement. "DONG Energy's and SPV's aggregated 50% share of the project represents a capital investment of approximately £375 million," it said. "Construction of the project is expected to commence in the late summer of 2010, with commissioning scheduled for 2012."

Centrica will keep the remaining stake in the project, which has a permitted capacity of up to 270 MWs (MW). In a separate statement DONG Energy said Siemens would deliver 75 3.6 MW turbines to Lincs. "DONG Energy and Siemens have agreed to further utilise and expand the off take under the supply agreement signed in March 2009." Meanwhile, DONG Energy also said it had sealed a deal to sell 25.1% of its 367 MW Walney windfarm in the Irish Sea to Scottish and Southern Energy for up to around £39 million.

Iceland wants to be independent from fossil fuel
December 26, 2009

Iceland is among the countries hardest hit by the financial crisis. While trying to recover from the crisis, it plans to move the nation to use renewable energy completely. Iceland plans to move the nation to use renewable energy completely since 80% of the nation's total energy use already stems from renewable sources which boasts the world number one in this aspect. Its unique combination of political will, a concentrated population of just 310,000 people and abundant, low-cost geothermal electricity could, in fact, lead to the first national charging network in the world.

Mitsubishi will be one of Iceland's first partners. The company's relationship to Iceland goes back to the early 1970s, when it began supplying turbines to the country's emerging geothermal industry. Two years ago, Mitsubishi came to the table to talk about bringing its i-MiEV electric car to Iceland. Examples were brought over last year, their first visit outside Japan. Iceland's financial crisis hasn't derailed the Mitsubishi agreement.

Iceland has also flirted with a hydrogen energy economy, and Shell operates a filling station for fuel-cell cars. Jon-Bjorn Skulason of Iceland New Energy said that there are now 10 hydrogen cars in the country, including eight Toyota Priuses modified to burn hydrogen and Ford Focus and Explorer fuel-cell vehicles.

But Grímsson and many other Icelanders have become skeptical about hydrogen for Iceland, largely because fuel-cell vehicles remain in short supply. Meanwhile, plug-in electric cars are scheduled to hit the world's roads in significant numbers next year. "There seems to be a slowdown in the development of hydrogen cars from the big players," Grímsson said. "We believe that electric cars may be better suited to transform our transportation fleet in a short time than hydrogen."

Northern Lights Energy (NLE), provider of infrastructure and services for Electric Vehicles (EV) in Iceland, has signed an agreement with the Reva Electric Car Company (REVA) to jointly develop the electric vehicle market in Iceland. NLE will have exclusive distribution rights for the NXR, the new model premiered by REVA at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, and consequent follow-up models, such as the sports coupé NXG, which will be launched in 2011. The sales and marketing of the electric car will commence in the second half of 2010 and customer deliveries at the end of 2010.

NLE is working on developing a recharging infrastructure system for Electric Vehicles and vehicle exchange service to support the adoption of electric vehicles in Iceland. "Iceland is an island and with its advanced electric grid technology using 100% renewable energy in electricity production is a perfect location for zero emission electric vehicles" says Gisli Gislason, the Chairman of NLE. In addition to importing new EV models to Iceland, NLE is also working on developing systems to convert the current internal combustion engine (ICE) car fleet into Electric Cars.

According to a feature report from the Iceland Review, by replacing the remaining oil and gas imports for the fishing fleet and transport sector with renewable energy, Iceland could well become the first country to be 100% energy independent. While the country is still reeling in the aftermath of last fall's banking collapse, some see the economic crisis as an opportunity for change towards heightened sustainability. According to experts, by the time the economy recovers and car sales start to roll, the cost of electric cars, currently not competitive, will have fallen-paving the way for the electrification of the island's land transport, according to the report.

'We could use the opportunity now to modify the tax system to encourage a transition to using locally produced energy for transport," says Pétur Albert Haraldsson, chairperson of Framtídarorka (FTO) Sustainable Solutions-a consultancy focusing on sustainable transport-and co-founder of the Driving Sustainability conference.

The 1970s oil crises spurred discoveries and increased harnessing of geothermal energy. Though the process of transitioning from coal to geothermal energy in Reykjavík began in the 1930s, the change was accelerated in the 70s when more and more houses were connected to the district heating grid in an effort to wean dependence on expensive oil imports. The switch to geothermal also means that CO² levels today are 45% lower than they would otherwise be, said the report.

The next step towards decarbonization and energy independence for Iceland is the transition towards clean transport and electric vehicles. "One of our greatest challenges is the transition from imported fossil fuels to fuels from renewable energy for the mobile parts of our energy system," said Minister for Energy, Industry and Tourism, Katrín Júlíusdóttir recently.

Plans are well underway. Northern Lights Energy (NLE), an investment company focusing on environmentally friendly ventures, runs the 2012–New Beginning project that aims to enable the public to replace their conventional cars with electric vehicles by 2012, according to the report.

Sweden finances Tanzania's rural solar power transformation

DAR ES SALAAM, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) - - Tanzania has received over three billion Tanzanian shillings (about 2.2 million U.S, dollars)from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency to implement rural solar energy project in the eastern African country, the local media reported on Friday. After the inauguration of the project, Tanzania Assistant Commissioner of Energy and Minerals Hosea Mbise said that the project was aimed to remove impediments in the development of solar energy sector in Tanzania as it is geared at ensuring that rural-based communities in Tanzania are supplied with reliable power.

Mbise named other impediments as high installation charges of the solar energy facilities as well as low level of awareness amongst the people. Limited numbers of technicians in solar energy equipment installation and low participation of the private businesses in the investment were among of the major challenges facing the sector. "This project is very important for people living in rural areas," Mbise said.

Since the project started in 2005, more than 150 businesspersons had been trained in business related to solar energy investment, while about 152 technicians had been trained on better ways of connecting solar energy and service provision after selling equipment to customers, according to Mbise. He added that more efforts were being made to ensure that the training spread all-over the country so that villagers can enjoy power service.

For his part, project consultant Jeff Michael Felten said some customers have been failing to purchase equipment needed for solar energy installation. "For instance, expenses to install solar energy in the homes starts at 200,000 shillings (about 150 dollars) and goes up depending on the needs, though after installation life span for the facility is about 20 years," he observed. Marketing Manager for Sollatek Power Control, Mrisho Ramadhani urged suppliers of solar energy equipment to refrain from doubling the prices of the items, saying the move discouraged people to opt for the service.

Indonesia province offers $1.4bn geothermal projects
Dec 23, 2009

JAKARTA, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Indonesia's West Java province is offering three geothermal projects requiring $1.4 billion of investment to be financed under a public and private partnership scheme, an official at the planning ministry said on Wednesday. The government has launched two crash programmes to increase power generation because Southeast Asia's biggest economy faces chronic power shortages after years of under investment.

The first 10,000 MW programme relies on coal-fired power plants, while nearly half of a second 10,000 MW programme, due to start next year, will come from geothermal sources. "The IFC (International Finance Corporation) may help with the feasibility studies as long as the terms are clear," said Bastary Pandji Indra, a director at the ministry in charge of projects under public-private partnership. The IFC, the private arm of multilateral lender the World Bank, could also provide further financing for investors who win tenders, Indra added.

The geothermal projects being offered are Gede Pangrango with a potential capacity of 210 MW, Sangkan Hurip with 100 MW and Papandayan with 160 MW. The government has in recent years sought to attract more investment by partnering with private firms, usually with authorities freeing up land and private firms financing most of the construction. A second director at the planning ministry, Monty Girianna, who is in charge of mineral and natural resources, said investors were likely to be interested in the projects provided locations were free of any land disputes and it was clear how much state power firm PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) would pay for the electricity.

An official at the mines and energy ministry said earlier this month that PLN would open tenders to buy the electricity from geothermal developers using a ceiling price of 9.7 U.S, cents per kW hour, more than double the 4 U.S, cents per kWh currently, in a bid to lure investors. [ID:nJAK413274] Indonesia, with hundreds of active and extinct volcanoes, has the potential to produce an estimated 27,000 MW of electricity from geothermal sources.

However, most of the potential remains largely untapped because the high cost of geothermal energy makes the price of electricity generated this way expensive. Nonetheless, local energy firms Medco Energi Internasional (MEDC.JK) and Star Energy, are looking at making new investments, while Chevron (CVX.N), the world's largest private producer of geothermal energy, has previously said it plans to double its geothermal business in Indonesia and the Philippines by 2020.

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Carnegie Wave Energy signs agreement with EDF EN
December 24, 2009

Wave Energy Developer Carnegie Corporation Energy (ASX:CWE) has penned a formal CETO Collaboration and Licensing Agreement with Northern Hemisphere Development partner EDF EN. The signing of the license is the final step in the purchase process of the CETO intellectual property and global development rights by Carnegie Corporation paving the way for joint development of commercial CETO projects throughout the Northern Hemisphere and Reunion Island. Carnegie Corporation retains the right to own up to 49% of each project and each project will pay the company a license fee for the use of the CETO technology.

Carnegie Corporation's Managing Director Dr Michael Ottaviano said "I'm delighted to have completed the CETO purchase transaction and to be formally collaborating with EDF EN on developing CETO projects internationally". "We expect to have further news on international developments in the New Year." The signing of this Agreement allows the issue of the Carnegie Corporation shares to Renewable Energy and its nominees as consideration for the purchase of the CETO intellectual property and development rights and results in REH becoming a 29% shareholder in Carnegie Corporation.

SunEdison, Xcel announce solar project
December 23, 2009

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - North America's largest solar energy services provider and a Western utility are planning to install five photovoltaic solar facilities in southeastern New Mexico. SunEdison and Xcel Energy's Southwestern Public Service Company say the 50 MW project will be one of the largest in North America. The five installations will be capable of generating enough electricity to power more than 10,000 homes.

The solar arrays will be located in Lea and Eddy counties. Xcel says the project will bolster rural economies and help the company meet renewable energy standards in New Mexico. The project will be built, financed and maintained by SunEdison under a 20-year agreement with Xcel, which will then buy the power. Officials expect the project to be fully operational by the end of 2011.

Unchristmas Me Without Merriment

Christopher Nagle
December 26, 2009

I am trying to avoid Christmas. No, it is more than that. I am boycotting it. I no longer want to continue to allow myself to be dragged into a shopping festival that celebrates pointless excess spending and gormandizing. It would be nice to celebrate the Christian Christmas, but I am not a Christian, so that isn't open to me either.

Therefore, I am doing New Year. This is a day of resolutions and commitments for the coming year and actively doing something about them on day one. It is a day to re-affirm one' s values, beliefs, familial ties and friendships; to extol the virtues that make life sustainable and worth living.

Of course Christmas has traditionally been about that too, but my concern is that it is being drowned in increasingly grotesque propaganda and frenzied marketing pressure. By adopting the New Year one is at least for the time being, disconnecting from that framework and establishing other kinds of values.

The final straw for this was the Copenhagen failure. It suddenly became crystal clear that there is virtually nothing we can do to stop a generalised and worsening pattern of environmental catastrophe progressively hitting us until it puts us out of action. I can no longer fend off the fear of what is going to happen to my children and grand-children.

I think we all going to be forced to rethink the way we live our lives. I don't suggest that this will necessarily ameliorate what is coming, but it may teach us to become more resilient and frugal within ourselves and less demanding of others and the precious, wounded and now terribly fragile world we occupy.

I know this sounds unseasonably dismal and we should be sharing warm fuzzies, but I am afraid I am just not seeing much to be warmly fuzzy about. Some might say that in those circumstances, perhaps silence would be better, because of the risk of being seen as a humorless killjoy and party pooper. Well, I'll wear that. I have been putting off saying this and taking the plunge for too long. I have had Christmas in my sights for at least a decade, kept silent, went along with it and I have had enough.

So I am not wishing you or anyone else a Merry Christmas. All I can offer is a very sober and low key hope that 2010 will not be yet another year that the locusts ate. I am not holding my breath, but hope, even a poor sort of hope, is a lifebuoy to love and laughter, and a sticking point for one's courage to do what must be done in the year ahead.

And as to Father Christmas: I hope his elves go and get real jobs planting forests on the now receding snow lines of the arctic; that his reindeer get their real job back by replacing snowmobiles; and the fat slob himself gets stuck in one of his own industrial chimneys and chokes on the soot!

India confesses it helped derail Copenhagen deal

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 24/12/2009 Page: 7

INDIA has lauded the lack of carbon cuts in the non-binding Copenhagen Accord, boosting claims by rich countries that developing nations derailed the deal. On his return from Copenhagen, the Indian Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, told Parliament his mandate had been to protect India's right to fast economic growth, and listed killing off binding targets to reducing emissions as a key victory for his country. We can be satisfied that we were able to get our way on this issue [targets]," Mr Ramesh said. Later he told a news conference that a bloc of key emerging economies - Brazil, South Africa, India and China - had worked to protect the rights of the developing world.

India is one of the world's top five greenhouse gas polluters, but one of the smallest emitters per person. The Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, was reluctant to be drawn by the Indian Minister's comments, but admitted Australia had wanted more from the Copenhagen summit. "There are a lot of things that are frustrating about negotiations and obviously people have a range of different positions," Senator Wong said.

We believe the Copenhagen Accord is a step forward. It is not as big a step as we would have liked, but it is certainly better than when we went to Copenhagen." Senator Wong said under the accord, China and India had agreed for the first time to take some action to reduce emissions and be accountable for commitments. The non-binding accord contains no targets or date to end global emissions growth, and has been widely criticised by environmentalists.

Mr Ramesh's comments came after accusations from the British Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, that China had torpedoed a legally binding agreement to a 50% cut in global emissions on 1990 levels by 2050. That deal would have included an 80% cut on 1990 levels by 2050 from developed countries. A spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry has rejected the claims, saying it amounted to the developed world shirking their responsibility to tackle climate change. But writing in The Guardian yesterday the climate change activist Mark Lynas Corporation, who was in the room during the final negotiations, said China had insisted that binding targets be stripped from the agreement.

According to Mr Lynas Corporation, China even requested the 80% target by 2050 for rich nations be taken out of the agreement. That request so angered Mr Rudd he reportedly struck his microphone, while the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, asked angrily: "Why can't we even mention our own targets?" Mr Lynas Corporation said the representatives of Brazil and South Africa were eager to sign up to the legally binding agreement on the table. A spokesman for Senator Wong told the Herald yesterday the Government's position had not changed and it would seek a higher 2050 target at the polls if there was an ambitious global agreement. Australia has committed itself to a 60% cut in emissions by 2050 on 2000 levels.

State blasts Canberra over energy policies - Projects, jobs `under threat

Thursday 24/12/2009 Page: 3

VICTORIA has attacked Canberra's policies on renewable energy, saying it is putting at risk the state's efforts to "clean up its energy generation". In a sharp rebuke to the Rudd Government, state Energy Minister Peter Batchelor said its policies had delayed investment in renewable energy projects, such as wind farms, and had undermined job creation. "We in Victoria want to move away from our overwhelming dependence on brown coal, but to do that we need to encourage investment in new wind farms," he said.

His comments came after The Age revealed that AGL Energy had serious doubts over the future of its proposed $800 million windfarm in western Victoria because of a collapse in renewable energy certificate prices. The certificates are given to energy companies for producing green power, but their value has fallen dramatically since the Federal Government awarded them to people who install solar hot water systems, even though they do not generate power. "We've seen the value of renewable energy certificates fall from over $50 in May this year to less than $35 now," Mr Batchelor said. "We are very concerned about the inability of the national renewable energy scheme to stimulate jobs and investment in Victoria."

He said he was fearful investment could be delayed for years. "So we're saying to the Federal Government, they must change the way they have structured their renewable energy scheme to put some confidence back into the renewable energy certificates and thereby bring on important investment in wind and other renewable energies."

James Purcell, Mayor of Moyne Shire - the home of the proposed 150 wind turbines in Macarthur - said the community supported the windfarm and that Macarthur was the "ideal location". "It affects very few people; it is in a large agricultural area with very few houses around it," he said. The 350-MW windfarm, with turbines 90 metres tall, was expected to be the biggest in the southern hemisphere. Cr Purcell said it would be disappointing for the shire if it were cancelled, but other renewable energy projects would continue. "I think we have got 19 wind farms on the go in the shire at the moment, plus a number of gas-fired power stations," he said. "Something like over 50% of all windfarm applications are within the shire."

A spokesman for Climate Change Minister Penny Wong acknowledged that the fall in price for certificates partly reflected the higher uptake of solar water heaters as a result of state incentives and the federal stimulus package. Uncertainty over an emissions trading scheme was also putting downward pressure on the price. He said a joint federal-state review of the certificates was nearly finished. Australia's renewable energy target is to have 20% of power from renewable sources by 2020.

Winds of change - Things are greening up at the grassroots level.

Adelaide Advertiser
Thursday 24/12/2009 Page: 21

While climate change is debated on the world stage, local councils in South Australia are directing change. They've trained residents to drag three different rubbish bins to the kerb and it's time to move on to the next challenge: the power game. The same authority that hands out library cards and dog tags has its eye on capturing the sun and wind.

Onkaparinga City Council, which spans Adelaide's southern fringe, proposes something for everyone, from household solar panels to miniature "sun farms" and a larger commercial power plant. There are already about 1200 photovoltaic (solar panel) systems installed across the south - mostly on houses. Last week, the council agreed to investigate a scheme whereby preferred suppliers would be appointed to sell solar systems to ratepayers at a bulk-purchase rate.

The smaller sun farms would involve the installation of up to 30kW solar panel systems on public buildings or vacant land. Community members could buy a stake and receive dividends from profits. The 5mW commercial scheme planned for Lonsdale would power about 2000 homes. Onkaparinga chief executive Jeff Tate says while the council will not own and run power companies, it has the vision and ability to bring investors together. "This links in to us trying to build a new economic base in the south; we're now targeting different industry sectors," he says. "Residents and businesses of the city, if they'd like to become involved, we'd find a way for that to happen as well. "It could be a co-operative. It could be a company is formed and people become shareholders."

The green energy plans depend on the willingness of residents and business to invest, and the council now will begin to gauge interest. Solar Energy Society president Monica Oliphant says the Federal Government should provide incentives for larger renewable energy projects to encourage investment. At the individual level, householders are paid a "feed-in tariff' for any unused power they generate, which goes back into the grid. However, larger renewable power schemes do not attract the tariff. "Renewables are still quite expensive," Professor Oliphant says. "A lot of people might not want one on their roof but wouldn't mind putting a bit into a community project. "But the Government does not want to go to a feed-in tariff for larger systems because they're afraid of what it might do to electricity prices."

She also says it is important to look beyond solar energy, to wind turbines and waste gases, to allow for times and places the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine. Professor Oliphant says most local council projects are "small stuff' but Onkaparinga's proposed 5mW system is impressive and would involve more than one source of power. "That's not small-scale stuff - that's good," she says. "They're probably a leader in what they're thinking."

With scientists and politicians still divided on climate change, Professor Oliphant believes it can be tough to persuade homeowners to change the world at their own expense. Associate Professor John Boland, who works in environmental mathematics at UniSA, says local government is doing great work in a range of green directions. "To be honest, some of the best initiatives in many different areas are at the local government level," he says. "I find it quite happily surprising that they seem to be driving these projects.

"There's no feed-in tariffs for big installations like that, only for domestic dwellings, and yet they're pushing it without the best economic drivers there could be." In the Campbelltown City Council area, the State Government is working with the council on developing Lochiel Park - a green village with just 100 sustainable houses. The other two-thirds of the project is parklands. The project will serve as a model for other urban developments and help educate the public and the property development industry about sustainable housing and land development.

Professor Boland says even small projects, such as a solar panel on a council library, can be used to educate the community. Salisbury City Council's stormwater project is another standout scheme and a national and international leader. A series of wetlands created to hold and clean stormwater now is home to more than 100 bird species, including 50 migratory types that visit from as far away as Korea and Japan. Frogs, fish, yabbies and turtles all live in the waters which 20 years ago would have been allowed to run out to sea. Now, much of the water is stored in an underground aquifer for later re-use. Next year, all of Salisbury's parks and reserves will be irrigated with recycled stormwater.

Local Government Association environment and development director Michael Barry says people may be divided on climate change, so such schemes will not motivate everyone. "Everyone's got the right to their own opinion about climate change, but the things that are facts are the cost of energy, the cost of water - the shortage of water is not in dispute in SA," he says. "We'll encourage communities to respond because it's in their interests financially, even if they're not won over philosophically." Mr Barry says councils from Victor Harbor to the South-East and Eyre Peninsula are looking to the sun, wind, rain and methane to make environmental and financial savings. "We do think it's local government's job to help their communities contribute in whatever way they can on these issues," he says.

Thursday 24 December 2009

Geothermal power plant gets funds
21 December 2009

Plans to develop the UK's first commercial-scale geothermal power station in Cornwall have secured nearly £1.5m of government funding. The power plant - using "hot rocks" technology - is to be based at Redruth and would provide electricity and heat for homes and businesses. Geothermal Engineering Ltd (GEL) has gained the grant from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The total cost of building the plant will be about £40m.

The power plant will work by pumping water deep underground to be warmed by the earth's natural heat and then returned to the surface. The heated water would power turbines, generating electricity and heat. GEL, based at Gwennap, is hoping to work with Cornwall Council to deliver some of this heat back to the local community. The sustainable energy plant would provide 55MW annually for local use and 10MW for the national grid. A similar project has also been put forward by the Eden Project. Ryan Law, Managing Director of GEL, said: "We are delighted to receive this initial funding which, subject to planning, we will use to start the drilling process in 2010.

He said: "DECC's investment is certainly a step in the right direction but the UK must be more ambitious in funding renewable energy projects." The £1.475m grant is from the first tranche of the government's Deep Geothermal Challenge Fund of £6m, which was launched in October. Wells 5km (3.1 miles) deep would be drilled into the ground where temperatures reach 170C (338F). If the plans are approved by Cornwall Council, it is estimated the plant would be operational by 2013. Geothermal energy is already used in Australia, Iceland and America as an alternative to fossil fuel.

Threat to $800m wind project

Wednesday 23/12/2009 Page: 1

AGL Energy says its plans to build the $800 million Macarthur windfarm in western Victoria are under "enormous pressure" because of a collapse in the price of renewable energy certificates, which is threatening the entire industry. AGL Energy managing director Michael Fraser warned yesterday that the project was just one of many wind farms that might not go ahead if the Federal Government could not tackle the level of uncertainty facing renewable energy investors. The threat highlights the risk to $30 billion of expected investment in renewable energy needed to reach a Federal Government target of 20% of Australia's power from renewable sources by 2020.

To encourage green investment in the absence of a price on carbon, energy companies receive renewable energy certificates in return for producing green power. But the value of the certificates has almost halved, from near $60 to about $30, since the Government issued them to people who install solar hot water systems and other products that do not generate power. Those certificates are issued because the home owner is not using "dirty" power - and the solar energy used instead is counted in the 20% renewable energy target.

Mr Fraser yesterday launched a sweeping attack on the policy, calling the Government's approach a "fraud" that threatened the industry's ability to meet the 2020 target. The oversupply of certificates had caused investment in renewable energy to stop, he said. "The reality is that you've seen virtually no new announcements around largescale investments in the renewable sector from anybody for months now," he said. In September, Solar Systems, the company that planned to build the world's biggest solar energy station, near Mildura, was placed in receivership, a victim of the difficulty raising loans in the global financial crisis. Its 154-MW solar farm would have powered 45,000 homes.

The 350-MW Macarthur windfarm, about 50 kilometres from Hamilton, with a planned 150 turbines 90 metres tall - making it the southern hemisphere's biggest - was expected to create 500 jobs during its three-year construction and power 150,000 homes. Mr Fraser said up to seven other wind farms being considered by the company were under threat. The only new wind farms AGL Energy would definitely build were those required under contracts to the Victorian and South Australian governments to supply power to desalination plants. "Beyond that, you simply won't see us invest until this issue gets resolved," he said.

Mr Fraser's continents cone after the Council of Australian Governments last month launched an inquiry into the fall in the certificates' price. Its report is expected soon. The renewable energy industry has called for a regulator - a "carbon bank" - to act like the Reserve Bank, intervening and buying up certificates when the price is threatened by market fluctuations. Mr Fraser cast strong doubt on Australia's capacity to sleet the target of 20% renewables by 2020, saying the volatility of the market in certificates would create a "boom and bust cycle" in renewable investment. "By definition we are not going to see investment in renewable electricity generation when we are creating renewable certificates from technologies that don't produce electricity," he said. AGL Energy is the country's largest renewable energy operator and developer.

ActewAGL looks to new place in sun

Canberra Times
Tuesday 22/12/2009 Page: 5

ActewAGL and three partners have sold their interests in a proposed $120 million windfarm near Tarago with ActewAGL to focus on its bid to build a solar farm in the ACT. The windfarm received NSW Government development approval in October 2005 but with no purchaser for electricity from the windfarm, construction has not begun. Rights to the windfarm, on the Woodlawn and Pylara properties near Tarago, have been sold to Infigen Energy, which owns the nearby $400 million Capital Wind Farm near Bungendore, officially opened on November 18 by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

The company expects to lodge an amended development application for the Tarago project in the first quarter of next year but has not said when construction of a 42 MW capacity windfarm would begin. It is one of four NSW sites on which the company proposes to build wind farms, probably within five years. Two other sites considered by ActewAGL, Mt Spring near Hall but in NSW and Collector, were soon abandoned. But in August 2004, ActewAGL predicted construction of the first windfarm to supply electricity direct to it would begin in about nine months. Its partners in the proposed Tarago project were Acciona Energy, Collex and ANZ Infrastructure Services.

ActewAGL general manager business development aid strategy Dianne O'Hara said yesterday the proposed windfarm near Tarago had not progressed since it had obtained development approval in 2005. "In the end we decided to sell it. The new owners are better placed to develop it," she said. The four parties ownership structure had made it hard to find a mutually acceptable way forward. Each party had its own priorities. Much of the delay had occurred while waiting for market conditions to be right. "We had discussions with the new owners and believe the farm will progress under them."

ActewAGL still wanted to do what it could with renewable generation and had made no secret of its keenness to be involved in the proposed ACT solar farm. "Our efforts are concentrating on that." ActewAGL is one of 10 proponents invited by the ACT Government to develop detailed proposals for a solar farm. Ms O'Hara said producing renewable energy in the ACT was quite restricted, "which is why we are keen to participate in the solar farm". Without wanting to disclose too much to its nine competitors, she said ActewAGL was confident it could produce enough electricity from a solar farm to power 10,000 homes. The development approval for the proposed windfarm near Tarago provided for 140 MW hours a year - enough to power 22,000 homes. Industry sources believe a mandatory renewable energy target of 20% by 2020 will improve prospects.

Capital push to green up the grid

Canberra Times
Tuesday 22/12/2009 Page: 1

smart meters could be fast-tracked for ACT homes and drivers of electric vehicles could be rewarded with lower registration and parking costs under an ACT Government plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 10% in the next decade. Minister for Energy and the Environment Simon Corbell issued a draft energy policy yesterday that aims at more than doubling the amount of renewable energy used in the ACT to 25% by 2020 through proliferation of solar energy locally and sourcing more green power through the National Energy Market.

Mr Corbell acknowledged some of the measures to reduce emissions could add to the cost of electricity for the ACT but said they would also increase security of supply. The Draft Sustainable Energy Policy 2010-2020 raises the possibility of extending concessions to low income earners to allow them to take part in the push to reduce emissions by increasing the current energy concession and indexing it to electricity price rises. Currently 22,000 ACT households receive a concession under the scheme.

Transport would be targeted as part of the plan, with the ACT Government to consider introducing electric vehicles in the government fleet that would be compatible with the trial electric vehicle charging network proposed for Canberra by Better Place. Rail freight would be encouraged over other transport options and the Government will continue its push to see paid parking introduced in the parliamentary triangle to encourage workers in the area to consider public transport or alternatives such as cycling and walking. The ACT currently purchases virtually all of its electricity from generators outside its borders through its connection to the National Energy Market.

The draft plan recognises the vulnerability of having a single link to that network and proposes constructing a second link to the national grid to secure against blackouts and other threats to supply. Mr Corbell said the purpose of releasing the draft in its current form was to encourage debate and feedback from the Canberra community.

"The intention of the policy is to make sure more of our electricity is sourced here, we won't just be sourcing from the national market," he said. "More and more will be coming from local generation so that individual buildings become more and more self-sufficient. And while there's still a cost associated with that, it improves the security and reliability of supply and hopefully it can also maintain a competitive price for consumers," Mr Corbell said.

Mr Corbell said that moves such as extending the ACT's generous feed-in tariff from households to larger businesses would send the sort of investment signal required to trigger companies to build smaller scale renewable generation capacity. ACT Greens spokesman Shane Rattenbury said he was pleased to see an energy policy taking shape, as it was a vital policy tool for reducing the ACT's environmental footprint. Independent modelling had estimated that the cost of increasing the proportion of the ACT's electricity that cane from renewable sources showed it was within reach.

"We're looking at $200-$300 a year per capita would see 50% of ACT's electricity coming from green sources. That's about $4 a week for the average household. There is a willingness and a desire here to snake our energy supply cleaner and greener," he said. ACT Opposition Leader Zed Seselja said there were a number of promising initiatives in the draft, but little detail on how the Government would achieve its objectives at a reasonable cost to ACT taxpayers. "We agree with the aspirations and acknowledge there will be costs, but what we need to achieve is the best bang for our buck. We do support large-scale solar, energy efficiency in homes is also essential. But there has been a lot of money wasted on less cost-effective ways of reducing emissions through the feed-in tariff," Mr Seselja said.

Israeli firm uses giant buoy for wave energy
December 22, 2009

HAIFA, Israel, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Harnessing the energy of a giant buoy locked underwater may be the key to generating electricity efficiently from waves, an Israeli company says. While there are around 100 companies around the world working on marine energy, including wave and tidal power, only a handful have installed their devices at sea. Others are running tests in tanks or on computers [nLS254204]. Three-year-old firm Seanergy threw its hat in the ring this month with its first installation - - a 20-metre (66-ft)-high metal column with an internal water reservoir that holds a four-metre (13-ft)-wide buoy - - in the port of Haifa in northern Israel.

Much like how a ball held underwater rises to the surface when released, the buoy, locked in place by hydraulics until a wave comes to fill the reservoir, shoots up with 20 tonnes of force - - enough to power a generator or desalinate seawater. "Currently, we need about four months to manufacture a cluster of five buoys. But eventually, we see them in farms and clusters along the coast in every part of the world," said Seanergy founder Shlomo Gilboa.

Ocean power is the smallest sector in environmentally-friendly renewable energy. The British renewable energy association BWEA said marine technologies are in the early stages of development and are about 10 years behind wind technologies. "The costs associated with these technologies are currently significantly greater than those of wind generation, although they should be expected to fall rapidly through a 'learning curve' effect once large scale deployment begins," the group said. Depending on the waves, Seanergy's buoy can rise and fall six to ten times every minute, each time shooting a stream of water at more than 70 atmospheres of pressure.

That is powerful enough for the system in Haifa, which out of water looks like an elevator shaft, to desalinate seawater through reverse-osmosis. It dumps the brine water back to sea. Each column costs about $125,000, Gilboa said, and with four metre-high waves, a cluster of five can generate about one MW of electricity, or can desalinate up to a 850,000 cubic metres (225 million gallons) of fresh water annually. The system is more efficient than any other wave energy systems on the market today, Gilboa said. The port of Haifa plans on using Seanergy's system to power its cranes and lighting in the future, said the port's vice-president of engineering and development, Zohar Rubin.

Solar thermal plant to come up at Shive
21 December 2009

PUNE: A power generation unit, using solar thermal technology, will soon come up at Shive, a village in Khedtaluka, some 45 km from Pune. If the experimental project succeeds, the village will be the first in the country to have its own electricity generation plant. What's more, the Shive model will likely be replicated across the country with public-private partnership.

The project is being set up as a joint venture by the Union government and city-based Thermax Ltd. Unlike the conventional system of power generation, this plant will use solar energy to heat water and the steam will rotate the turbine to generate 250 kW power for the village. The power generation plant will not be connected to the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd grid. Of the total project cost of Rs 15 crore, the Union government will invest Rs 13 crore and the rest will be borne by Thermax.

According to Prithviraj Chavan, Union minister of state for Science and Technology, who laid the foundation stone of the project along with Meher Pudumjee, chairperson of Thermax on Sunday, this project could soon be a model for other such projects in the country. Shive is located on the backWaters of the Bhama-Askhed dam, now under construction, It has a population of 1,000 and receives power only for few hours in a day. The village is a few kilometres from the Talegaon MIDC where multinational companies have their huge set-ups.

Although many farmers use diesel engines to pump water to their farms, it is not feasible for every farmer to follow such a costly way of farming. Chavan said, "Of the total number of families in the country, 56 per cent of them are deprived of an electricity connection. The Union government wants to explore all the available ways of power generation and the solar thermal power generation project is a first step towards this."

The project will begin in the next 18 months, during which time Thermax will set up aluminium mirrors that will track the sunlight for higher heat generation. Of the three acres of land donated by the villagers, 80 per cent of it will be utilised to set up aluminium mirrors. Thermax will also set up a boiler, which will use bio-waste sourced from the village to produce electricity for a maximum two hours. It will work as a power back-up for the village. The total project will supply a minimum of 10 hours of electricity to the village, company officials said.

After commencement of the project, Thermax will maintain and run the project for five years. The government will bear the maintenance cost. A team of 20 people from the company will be deployed at the village for completion of the project.

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Exxon finalises Japan deal for PNG gas project
Wed, 23 Dec 09

SYDNEY - Energy giant Exxon-Mobil Tuesday said it had finalised an agreement to supply Japan's Osaka Gas from its 15 billion US dollar liquefied natural gas project (LNG) in Papua New Guinea. United States-based Exxon-Mobil said the contract was for the supply of about 1.5 million metric tonnes of LNG a year from the development for 20 years, bringing the conditionally approved project closer to realisation.

"We are pleased to have entered into this important agreement with a leading LNG customer in Japan and to have started a new relationship with Osaka Gas," said LNG marketing vice president Ron Billings, in a statement to investors. "The PNG LNG project will provide a clean-burning supply of natural gas to help meet growing energy demand in Japan." Exxon-Mobil said Osaka was a major energy supplier in Japan, servicing 6.9 million customers and purchasing 7.4 million tonnes of LNG in 2008.

Exxon-Mobil and partners - - Australia's Santos and Oil Search, Japan's Nippon Oil and Eda Oil, owned by PNG's government - - approved the project on December 8, conditional on securing two more sales contracts, including with Osaka. Oil Search told Australian investors the partners expected to sign the final sales agreement, with Taiwan's state-owned CPC Corp, in early 2010. Potentially the largest-ever such deal for PNG, analysts have said the Exxon-Mobil development could double the impoverished Pacific country's income. Binding contracts have already been signed for the sale of a combined 3.8 million tonnes per year from the project to China's Sinopec and Tokyo Electric Power Co in Japan.

Lots of land needed for solar thermal power

The company behind one of the first major gas- solar thermal projects in Australia says the technology is largely based on farming the sun. ERM Power plans to build a 500 MW hybrid gas - solar thermal power plant in remote Australia by the end of next year. solar thermal power is produced by using mirrors to concentrate the sun onto troughs containing a solution which then becomes hot enough to generate steam to drive turbines.

Director of ERM Power, Phillip Saint Baker, says there's no getting away from the heavy land use component of solar thermal. "When you're talking about solar capture you're talking about m²," he says. "It's surface area driven technology, so for about 100 MWs of solar capture you need well over a thousand acres." "So you need to pick a site that's also compatible with that land use."

Brown coal's role in clean energy

Tuesday 22/12/2009 Page: 12

VICTORIA'S beleaguered brown coal could, ironically, be the answer to providing clean, renewable base-load power. Academics at the University of Melbourne assessing the potential of geothermal energy in Victoria have pinpointed the Latrobe Valley as an exciting hot spot. They are leading a project to provide an independent report to answer whether geothermal - the process of using the heat in the earths core to generate electricity at the surface - will play a significant role in supplying Victoria's future energy needs or whether it will remain a niche concept.

Professor Mike Sandiford, a geologist at the university, said research had found that temperatures beneath the Latrobe Valley were higher at a depth of 700 metres than anywhere else in Australia. "Southern Victoria has very insulating rocks and there ares no more insulating rocks than coal," he said. "Rather than producing heat, they act as a thermal blanket and trap it underneath. "We estimate it could be 200 degrees Celsius at four kilometres down, but it is hard to see through coal so we need to drill some test holes to make an assessment."

A steering committee, including the public policy- focused Grattan Institute, will meet the Victorian Government today to ask for about $200,000 to complete their study. About $50 million will later be sought to drill slim-line holes to test the heat source at depth. That could set them on a collision course, though, with Greenearth Energy, which has received the licence to drill in the Latrobe Valley. The Victorian Government recently handed $25 million to Greenearth Energy, which is planning to drill around Geelong and develop a 12-MW geothermal demonstration plant.

China considers compulsory green energy purchases

BEIJING, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) - - China's top legislature Tuesday discussed a legal amendment to require electricity grid companies to buy all the power produced by renewable energy generators. The State Council energy department and the state power regulatory agency should supervise the purchases, said the draft amendment to the Renewable Energy Law, which was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) for its second reading.

It is an important official measure to support the country's fledgling renewable energy sector, experts say. According to the draft, the State Council energy department, in conjunction with the state power regulatory agency and the State Council finance departments, should "determine the proportion of renewable energy power generation to the overall generating capacity for a certain period."

A national plan on renewable energy development issued in 2007 set a target to increase renewable resources to supply 15% of its total energy consumption by 2020, in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainable economic growth. Power enterprises refusing to buy power produced by renewable energy generators will be fined up to an amount double that of the economic loss of the renewable energy company, the draft said.

However, some lawmakers said the development of renewable energy in China faced many problems such as difficulties in connecting with the grid, over-production of wind energy and solar cell material, and a lack of innovative key technologies. They suggested that revision of the law should focus on prevention of blind development of renewable energy. Industry experts estimated that one third of the country's installed capacity of wind energy could not be well connected to the grid.

Of various types of renewable energy in China, lawmakers said, hydropower's quality and technology was the best. They suggested to further standardize hydropower development. Other lawmakers said the country should support the development of biomass energy using crop straw so as to improve ecological environment and farmers' income. Lawmaker Wang Shucheng, a former Minister of Water Resources, supported the proposal of grid companies buying all the power produced from renewable energy.

Wang opposed a previous idea of setting a minimum purchase quota for electric power generated by renewable energy, which would be "a hit to the fledgling wind energy industry" and was unfeasible. Grid companies said a quota was hard to determine as generation of solar and wind energy was subject to "natural factors" such as wind force and light. Industry insiders were cited in an NPC report as saying that if grid operators completed the minimum purchase quota for renewable energy, they would have no incentive to buy more renewable energy power, "which is not in line with the principle of promoting renewable energy development."

Wang suggested the use of "smart grids" as a solution to the blind development of wind energy. The smart grid includes an intelligent monitoring system that can integrate alternative sources of electricity, such as solar and wind. Renewable energy includes non-fossil fuels such as wind and solar energy, hydropower, biomass, geothermal and ocean energy. The law, which took effect in January 2006, was aimed at promoting the use of renewable energy, increasing energy supply, safeguarding energy security and protecting the environment.

It covered pricing management and supervision measures. Premier Wen Jiabao told the Copenhagen Climate Change conference on Friday that between 2005 and 2008, renewable energy increased by 51% in China, representing an annual growth rate of 14.7%. Wen said in 2008, the use of renewable energy reached an equivalent of 250 million tons of standard coal. "A total of 30.5 million rural households gained access to bio-gas, equivalent to a reduction of 49 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions," he said.

Signaling an official effort to shore up clean energy development and fight climate change, the law required the government set up a special fund to support renewable energy scientific research, finance rural clean energy projects, build independent power systems in remote areas and islands, and build information networks to exploit renewable energy. The fund will be managed by finance, energy and pricing sectors of the State Council. The draft amendment stated that the government should make national development plans for renewable energy, involving grid construction, services and supporting measures.

China made a national plan on renewable energy in 2007. The draft also said grid companies should sign agreements with certified renewable energy power generation enterprises, and buy all the power up to the standard. The renewable energy power generation enterprises were obliged to assist the grid companies to ensure network security, it said. In 2008, China used more hydro and solar energy than any other country and its use of wind energy ranked fourth.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Commercial-scale solar developers pocket funding
December 18, 2009

Two solar project developers this week raised funds to install commercial and utility scale projects from a somewhat unlikely source: venture capital firms. On Friday, Tioga Energy said it has raised $20 million to build out its business of providing project financing for commercial and municipal solar installations, such as schools and businesses. Investors included solar wafer manufacturer MEMC and venture capital companies NGEN Partners, Nth Power, and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

SunBorne Energy Holdings on Wednesday disclosed that it has secured $5.2 million in funding from venture-capital company General Catalyst. It plans to develop utility-scale solar projects in India, including a planned solar thermal project in the state of Gujarat. Although they are addressing different customers, both companies are in the business of renewable energy project development, where they build, own, and then maintain solar installations.That model is typically used for non-residential solar because third-party financing makes investment far more attractive to prospective customers such as businesses and utilities.

Tioga Energy provides power purchase agreements in which the customer doesn't have to pay the upfront cost of the solar panels. Instead, it purchases the electricity generated by the panels from Tioga, which finances the installation and manages ongoing operation. Financing renewable energy projects is typically done by banks or companies specialised in project financing, but that source of money has dried up in the economic downturn. Venture capitalists, meanwhile, have typically stayed clear of project finance because they seek bigger financial returns by investing in technology or business model innovations.

But General Catalyst is starting to look at project development companies as part of its mix of investments, said investor Bilal Zuberi in his blog. "Strong execution, plus control over a scarce resource, allows a developer to not just create value from projects on the ground but also from future pipeline of projects," he said. The series B round for Tioga Energy will serve to finance construction and development of new projects. NGEN Partner Steve Parry in a statement said it invested in Tioga's series B round with MEMC to accelerate the adoption of green technology and renewable energy.

Household solar rebates burn through extra $500m

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 21/12/2009 Page: 6

THE household solar rebate scheme has blown a $500 million hole in the federal Environment Department's budget. The massive bill for the scheme is the result of a high demand for rebates and a last-minute rush to sign tip after the Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, announced its cancellation, with just 24 hours notice, on June 9.

The revelation is contained in department budget estimates prepared for Senate estimates hearings, which begin in the first week of Parliament next year. The document states that an additional $534 million over two years has been provided to pay for the short gap in funding for the rebate. A spokesman for Mr Garrett said yesterday that the scheme was on track to deliver 120,000 solar panels to homes since November 2007.

"This program will deliver the installation of eight times the number of systems in our original election commitment," the spokesman said. "Just three years ago this program had an annual budget of just $6 million. We have spent close to $1 billion." In the last 14 days of the scheme, 55,000 people - up to 90% of all those who applied - were granted rebates of up to $8000. The scheme has been replaced with a "solar credits" program that grants households additional renewable energy credits for their solar panels, which can be sold on the market.

The Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, has since announced a Council of Australian Governments investigation into the renewable energy market after the price of credits crashed earlier this year - meaning households are getting less rebate for buying solar panels. The Government has also closed or scaled down a number of renewable-energy and water saving measures for schools, businesses and households as cost-saving measures to offset the massive rebate bill.

The blowout to the Environment Department's budget comes as the Government seeks $2 billion in funding for departments on top of the money allocated in the 2009-10 federal budget, the result of budget blowouts, additional government announcements, and the drop in value of government assets due to the surging Australian dollar. The Environment Department's request for additional funding is the second highest after the Defence Department, which is requesting $690 million.

Solar plan leaves $534m shortfall - Other energy-saving programs cut to cover shortfall

Monday 21/12/2009 Page: 9

THE cancelled household solar rebate scheme has blown a $534 million hole in the Federal Environment Department's budget. The huge bill for the $8000 rebate scheme is the result of a high demand for the popular scheme and a last-minute rush to sign up after it was abruptly cancelled by Environment Minister Peter Garrett in June. The revelation is contained in an additional department budget report prepared for Senate estimates hearings, which start in the first week of Parliament next year.

The document states that an additional $534 million over two years has been provided to pay for the now-cancelled rebate. A spokesman for Mr Garrett said yesterday the program was on track to deliver 120,000 solar panels to homes since November 2007. "This program will deliver the installation of eight times the number of systems in our original election commitment," Mr Garrett's spokesman said. "Just three years ago this program had an annual budget of just $6 million. We have spent close to $1 billion."

On June 9, Mr Garrett closed the scheme with less than 24 hours' notice, causing mayhem at solar panel stores as home owners rushed to sign up. In the last 14 days of the scheme 55,000 people were granted rebates of up to $8000, up to 90% of all those who applied. The scheme has been replaced with the "solar credits" program, which grants households additional renewable energy certificates for their solar panels, which can be sold on the market.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has since announced a Council of Australian Governments investigation into the renewable energy market after the price of credits crashed earlier this year - meaning that households are getting less and less rebate for buying solar panels. The Government has also noted the closure or scaling down of a number of energy efficiency and water-saving measures for schools, businesses and households as cost saving measures to offset the huge rebate bill.

That includes cuts to the $2.45 billion household insulation program, and the closure of the National Solar Schools Program, saving $53.1 million over two years. About $64.4 million has also been cut from programs designed to improve water efficiency. The blow-out to the Environment Department's budget comes as the Government seeks $2 billion on top of the 2009-10 federal budget in funding for departments.

The Environment Department has asked for the second most additional funding after the Department of Defence, which is seeking $690 million. The $2 billion in additional funding is the result of budget blow-outs, additional Government announcements, and the drop in value of Government assets due to the surging Australian dollar.

SA: Save energy, save tax

Independent Weekly
Friday 18/12/2009 Page: 26

New renewable energy projects in South Australia will get big tax breaks, says the State Government. From July, next year, investors in large-scale renewable energy projects will get payroll tax rebates for the labour associated with direct, on-site construction. Rebates will be set at a maximum of $5 million for each solar project and $1 million for every wind energy project and will remain in place for the next four years.

"I expect the effect of this rebate will be to provide a payroll tax holiday for most, if not all, new wind farms over the four-year period." Premier Mike Rann said in a statement released from the Copenhagen climate change summit. "It will also provide significant relief for investors in large-scale solar energy projects."

The premier said the investment incentives would help SA reach its target of having 20% of all electricity generated from renewable energy by 2014 and 33% by 2020. "The Government recognises that these goals will not be achieved by only the attractiveness for investors of our excellent renewable energy resources alone," he said. "An important part of our success has been implementing regulatory regimes that provide efficient and certain processes for investors."

Rise and fall of the gas provinces

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 17/12/2009 Page: 4

THE gas market will see a fundamental shift over the next two decades as gas-fired electricity generation expands under the Federal Government's carbon reduction scheme. Victoria's gas reserves will plunge and Queensland will become the dominant gas supplier on the east coast.

The forecast is contained in the first so-called "Statement of Opportunities" for gas released today by the Australian Energy Market Operator, which took over the running of the electricity market from the National Electricity Market Management Company earlier this year, and also took responsibility for the gas market. By the end of the two decades Victoria could be down to 10 years of gas reserves - or less - forcing it to consider sourcing gas from other states for the first time, which will boost its gas price significantly.

NSW is likely to be forced to turn increasingly to Queensland for gas, although the wild card is locally sourced gas, as the exploration push for coal-seam methane gas gets under way in earnest in this state. According to the AEMO, NSW will experience a doubling in gas reserves from 2025, largely thanks to an anticipated rise in gas reserves around Camden, to Sydney's south-west, as less gas is available from Victoria. Reserves from other regions such as Narrabri and Casino, in the state's north, are not yet significant.

The forecast suggests Queensland's domestic annual gas demand will treble to 458 petajoules by 2029 from 166PJ, and export demand for liquefied natural gas will reach 1302PJ by 2029. Victoria's annual demand will almost double to 403PJ by 2024. But the big change will come from an expected 55% drop in Victoria's gas reserves to 4344PJ by 2029, equal to just 10 years of production. But strong economic growth between now and then could reduce it to just seven years of reserves by then.

This anticipated decline will result from a rise in demand in Victoria, and elsewhere, coupled with falling reserves as Bass Strait's large oil and gasfields near the end of their life. At the same time, South Australia's reserves are expected to fall by a quarter to 1075PJ, equal to 14 years of production. Under these forecasts, NSW will need extra pipeline capacity from 2012, as well as Victoria, marginally at first but more significantly from 2017. "All of the pipelines in Queensland.., will be exceeded from between 2010 and 2013," the AEMO said.

NSW will need additional gas pipelines linking to Queensland, which may result in the long-mooted Hunter to Queensland pipeline proceeding. In total, domestic gas demand in the eastern states will double to 1205PJ a year by 2029 from 626PJ now. Over this period the NSW annual gas demand will reach 199PJ, up from 130PJ now, but well below Queensland and Victoria, largely due to the lack of sizeable gas reserves in NSW, coupled with its higher price relative to other states.

Electricity market needs capital boost

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Thursday 17/12/2009 Page: 11

According to new research due to be released by the federal Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, Australia's $11 billion national electricity market will require significant extensions due to the Rudd governments greenhouse policy. Mr Ferguson said the enforceable renewable energy target and proposed emissions trading scheme could increase wind energy by 450% in five years and gas power tenfold in 20 years.

Geothermal power will take 15 years to become profitable under the current technologies. The report find that the NEM will need address short falls in the grid and be able to connect renewable power to them, which are often set in distant locations unlike coal and hydro. The Australian Energy Market Operator believes that there will be greater congestion in the networks as the renewable energy comes online. Projects that will be looked at are the existing electricity interconnector between Queensland and NSW.

Industry sources believe that there will an expenditure of $1.2 billion a year in capital investments on transmission infrastructure. The report was produced by the AEMO under the reforms agreed by the Council of Australian Governments. NSW pricing regulator believes electricity charges should rise by 42% and 62% over the next three years commencing June 2010.

The Coalition and the Greens defeated the Governments emissions trading legislation in parliament. Mr Ferguson will also release a report into the viability of gas and how it will grow, exports and domestic use will grow by threefold in Queensland over the next 20 years, while in Victoria growth has been set to double in the next 15 years.

Syngas raises $850,000

Adelaide Advertiser
Thursday 17/12/2009 Page: 51

Syngas has raised more than $850,000 in capital for its proposed $3 billion coal-biomass-to-diesel Clinton project, 120km northwest of Adelaide. The company placed more than 26.5 million shares at 3.2c each with sophisticated investors following shareholder approval for the move. The $850,184 raised will be used in the continued development of the Clinton project, which is expected to produce 15,800 barrels a day of ultra-clean diesel throughout its expected 40-year lifespan.

The Perth-based company, which will relocate to Adelaide in March, has appointed the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility to provide stakeholder engagement services during the project's development. Managing director Merrill Gray said gaining local community approval was part of a key stakeholder outcome.

Science park focuses on green energy and biomedical tech development

The Hsinchu Science Park, known as Taiwan's "silicon valley," has targeted the green energy and biomedical sectors as key industries that will propel the park's development over the next 10 years and complement its strength in semiconductors and flat panels. In an interview with the Central News Agency, Park Director-General Yen Tzong-ming expressed confidence in Taiwan's ability to maintain its edge in the global semiconductor and flat panel markets, which he said "will continue to be the park's two major industrial pillars."

Yen attributed that success to the park's ability over its 29-year history to build a complete industrial cluster and cultivate specialised technologies in the semiconductor sector, and now it hopes to do the same in the green energy field as concerns over climate change mount. In the solar energy sector, for example, upstream producers of solar cell wafer materials and midstream manufacturers of solar cells have already moved into the park, Yen said.

As to light-emitting diode (LED) technologies, seen as having huge potential in saving energy used in lighting, production lines in the park have been upgraded from simply making LED chips to the production of ultra bright LED epitaxial wafers. Efforts are now being made to develop technologies related to long wavelength communication and advanced laser diodes, Yen noted. He revealed that the park administration plans to position its Tongluo park as an environmental science zone for the planned green energy cluster.

Turning to the biomedical industry, Yen said the administration is planning to develop the Hsinchu Biomedical Science Park, located in Jhubei in northern Hsinchu County, into a cradle of knowledge innovation and cultivation featuring an international-standard medical center and biotech businesses. It will host factories, a medical center, a center for the development and testing of medical equipment and devices, and an industrial innovation center. Yen said the facilities should be completed by 2015.