Friday 13 March 2009

Town sets sun power benchmark

NT Business Review
March, 2009 Page: 105

THE largest roof mounted solar energyed system in Australia has been switched on in Alice Springs. The ground-breaking $3.3 million solar photovoltaic installation will reduce the hotel's energy consumption by 40 to 80% , dependent on the time of year. In addition, its energy efficiency program will further reduce consumption by 18% .

The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and Arts provided financial backing for the project as part of Federal Government's $94 million Solar Cities program. SunPower Corporation, based in Western Australia, manufactured the high efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems and completed the construction.

Sunpower managing director Bob Blakiston said: This installation is a testament to the growing adoption of solar energy on commercial and public buildings. "Through the support of the Government.

projects such as this are setting a clear standard for what is expected of Australian companies when reducing their environmental impact," SunPower entered the emerging Australian solar market in 2008. with the acquisition of Solar Sales Pty Ltd. Solar Sales had partnered with SunPower for several years as a leading systems integrator and product distribution organisation.

Timing, level of protection slated

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Wednesday 11/3/2009 Page: 9

Heavy industries have called on the Federal Government to delay its emissions trading scheme due to the rapidly weakening economy. Yesterday, draft legislation into the ETS was released and although no further details anent compensation for coal-fired power stations and emissions-intensive trade-exposed (EITE) industries were given, a trading date of mid-2010 was divulged. However, the Australian Industry Group's Heather Ridout described the timetable as 'too onerous.'

Elsewhere, the Minerals Council of Australia's Mitch Hooke and the Australian Coal Association's Ralph Hillman have both criticised the scheme, while support was given from Origin Energy's Carl McCamish. Environment groups such as WWF-Australia have condemned the draft legislation. According to Blake Dawson Waldron's Tony Hill, the draft legislation indicated that legal disputes were expected over whether the ETS would be construed as a tax.

Carbon hopes push case for charcoal

Wednesday 11/3/2009 Page: 35

Biochar Researchers Network Scientists are optimistic about the potential of biochar, writes Jill Rowbotham

Malcolm Turnbull's name will be blessed forever by many scientists and bio-business people after he thrust into the spotlight the technology that produces charcoal based fertiliser. As the Government battles to find acceptance for its emissions trading scheme, the Opposition Leader argues the Government's climate change effort came to a dead halt when it signed the Kyoto Protocol.

Prominent among his initiatives to cut Australia's annual 570 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions is revisiting the merits of carbon sequestration's poor relative, charcoal, also called biochar. Turnbull's most prominent pronouncements, which began in late January, have been greeted with jubilation by English geologist and naturalised Australian Chris Turney, who holds the chair of physical geography at the University of Exeter.

"We are seeing quite significant climate change already and the longer we wait [to act] the worse it will be," Turney says. We need to get something out there that will suck carbon out of the atmosphere. Now is the time." biochar is plant material or waste that has been smouldered; that is, reduced to ash by cooking at low heat, a process called slow Pyrolysis.

The method minimises carbon emissions (those produced can be used to fuel the plant), and maximises the all-important carbon capture; that is, retention of carbon within the material being treated. Applied to soil, biochar takes a staggeringly long time to degrade and release the carbon conservative estimates are hundreds of years and run to thousands and it enhances the ability of the soil to hang on to fertilisers applied with it.

In a world where biochar manufacture was widespread, for example, waste land would be reforested and the trees would suck in carbon as they grew. Forests reach a point where they emit as much carbon as they draw out, so to forestall that the trees would be felled as soon as mature and converted to biochar. The waste land would be replanted, establishing a virtuous cycle.

A giant leap forward for fast tracking the technology would be its inclusion on the list of carbon offsets recognised under Kyoto. Micronesia has requested the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change consider biochar as a fast-start strategy for mitigation. That puts it on the draft agenda for December's UNFCCC talks in Copenhagen.

Similarly, at home, there is not yet official recognition of biochar's potential. This is because bio-carbons are included in the federal Government's carbon pollution reduction scheme regime under agriculture, which is not going to be considered until 2015, so there is no incentive to manufacture it now.

Nevertheless, research in universities and at CSIRO continues apace and in 2006 the International Biochar Initiative was formed to support the cause. Its first international conference was held in Australia a year later. In October the Australian and New Zealand Biochar Researchers Network was launched and its website came online in January. The group's first get together, the Asia-Pacific Regional conference, will be held at Queensland Gold Coast in May.

Turney is a biochar booster, courtesy of his work on climate change. His credentials in that debate are well-established. His latest book, Ice, Mud and Blood: Lessons from Climates Past, published last year, boasts good reviews as well as a catchy title. In an era when good communicators are highly prized, he is run off his feet.

He is also a director of a new company called Carbonscape, which set up a microwave-powered kiln in Blenheim, in New Zealand's South Island, in October last year and has begun producing biochar commercially. Scientist and global warming activist Tim Flannery has just joined the board.

Turney's beef about the carbon sequestration debate is that while some technologies offer the promise of reducing new emissions, biochar use would take back from the atmosphere some of the 200 billion tonnes of carbon that have been accumulating there since the start of the industrial revolution. The stove the Carbonscape directors call the Black Phantom can fix up to one tonne of carbon a day.

Other local companies working to establish and popularise biochar include Best Energies, at Somersby on the Central Coast of NSW, and Crucible Carbon, in Newcastle, but you don't have to be on the commercial side to be a proponent.

James Cook University's Michael Bird, an environmental geochemist and Federation fellow, is a vocal proponent. "Imagine a simple, scaleable technology based on natural materials that can generate energy, sequester carbon, increase soil fertility and decrease nutrient run-off and that's the potential of biochar," Bird says.

When Bird talks about scaleability, he means the technology can be engineered for any size operation, from that of a single farmer to a large industrial plant. This ease of adaptability for multiple users and purposes is a great strength. Best Energies began operating its pilot plant at Somersby at the end of 2006, producing its version of biochar, Agrichar, and has collaborated on trials with the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Bird is impressed with this progress.

"A few months ago I wrote to the Queensland Premier saying NSW is way ahead of the game in biochar, and we should be doing something too," he says. Already demand for the company's product from university laboratories outstrips supply. Technical manager Adriana Downie says the company is ready for large-scale commercial trials but lacks a backer. Despite being owned by a US-based

consortium, it needs new sources of finance. "We have done a lot in proving the technology," Downie says. "Now we need a commercial scale Pyrolysis plant to demonstrate the technology on that level." There is plenty more to know about biochar, including that it is not a homogenous product and not all biochars will benefit all soils.

Results will vary depending on feedstocks and the soils into which they are tilled. "biochar is a broad term, ranging from stuff that's mainly still plants to the fine stuff," Bird says. There is range of Agrichars. For example, one is made from council green waste and a healthy dollop of what is politely called biosolids, sewerage sludge.

Other research, being undertaken by University of New South Wales visiting professor Stephen Joseph with Paul Munroe funded by Joseph's US backed company Anthroterra, is looking for a way to produce a mix of biomass, such as green waste and manure, with clay and minerals. This is heated at low temperatures via a process called torrefaction. "I had a gut feeling I could do it at even lower temperatures than Pyrolysis, and if you can do it at low temperatures with waste heat all the costs come down," Joseph says.

Joseph founded the forerunner to Best Energies and sold out 3 1/2 years ago. He is also vice-chairman of the IBI. He and eminent soil biogeochemist Johannes Lehmann, of Cornell University, have co-edited a new book, biochar for Environmental Management, which will be published next month.

Lehmann is a world leader in the study of the highly fertile soils found in sites of pre-Columbian Indian occupation in the Amazon. Called terra preta, dark earth, they contain much more carbon than the soils around them. They are partly composed of a charcoal-like substance, giving rise to the theory the ancients were engaged in deliberately fertilising the ground.

Now scientists hope to work out how they did it. "It's not just the fact that we are fixing carbon at one level you could take carbon and put it back in the coalmines but you can put it back into the soil," Turney says. "All over the world soils are relatively impoverished, so that's what's rather nice, that you can get these other benefits as well." But the main game is saving the atmosphere. Turney hammers the urgent theme: "We have have to buy ourselves some time and get carbon levels down."

PM sells out the national interest

Canberra Times
Thursday 12/3/2009 Page: 19

As world economies stumble down recession's rocky slopes, humanity walks the cliff edge of catastrophic climate change. Never has the need to find new approaches, new vehicles and new purpose to move in new directions been more urgent. We need a double-dividend approach whereby domestic investment in climate change action also promotes an effective global climate agreement. It's an approach that Australians, if not all their political and business leaders, understand.

Tuesday's release of "exposure draft" legislation for the carbon pollution reduction scheme reveals a Government still well short of such an approach, selling out on its own test of the national interest.

The Government's white paper last December stated that a global atmospheric greenhouse-gas level of 450 parts per million or lower was in our national interest. The Government then set carbon pollution reduction targets of 5% to 15% by 2020. But it failed to acknowledge that Treasury and the Garnaut Review had said stronger targets than this range would be needed if we were to make a fair contribution towards a global effort in achieving the desired level.

These inadequate targets and the draft emissions trading scheme now join a half-formed energy efficiency strategy, a deficient diplomatic effort and a welcome, but still flawed, renewable-energy incentives approach. All these tools and more are necessary but the job is only half done. We urgently need our political leaders to remedy weaknesses across the whole package.

Australia's pollution levels are the highest per capita in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and among the highest in the world. Globally, jobs in renewable energy have overtaken those directly employed in oil and gas. Many studies have shown tens of thousands of job opportunities are available now in making our homes and workplaces more efficient, in clean renewable energy production and in giving us modern cleaner transport and transmission infrastructure.

The Government's treatment of our biggest polluters went backwards in the white paper reflected in this exposure draft. They softened energy efficiency conditions and withdrew limits on the potential growth of already massive hand-outs of free permits. If the Coalition's approach reflects the comments of shadow spokesman Andrew Robb on Four Corners, with an even bigger increase in free permits for our biggest polluters, then it would rust on more of the polluting parts of our economy and restrict the growth of cleaner industries.

The Government, Coalition and Senate need to strengthen our national pollution reduction targets to at least 25% below 2000 levels by 2020 and redirect the assistance for big polluters to ensure investment in energy efficiency improvements and clean technology development. Fixing up the legislative and policy engines can also help drive dividends in the global negotiations in this critical year.

Australia's contributions to the global effort are measured not just in tonnes. Australia chairs the influential Umbrella Group of Nations which includes the US, Canada, Norway and New Zealand, and these and other nations watch our actions closely. Through decisive climate policy we can build trust and momentum and help construct a framework for an effective global agreement. Topping the list will be both the targets we set and our support for investments in pollution reduction and climate change adaptation in developing countries.

The target range for reducing carbon pollution not only falls short of constituting our fair share of action towards achieving greenhouse gas levels the Government says are in our national interest: it weakens the ambition of others. How can we expect members of the Umbrella Group or China and others to do more? It's time to strengthen, not weaken, our approach.

Australians back this sort of action. Recent polling showed only 35% thought we should delay action because of the state of the global economy. Only 24% of swinging voters backed delay. And 75% of voters believed tackling climate change created opportunities for new jobs and investment in clean forms of energy. Our political leaders seem yet to get the point.

By retooling, reshaping and recharging our economic and climate policies, Australia can help reach an effective global climate deal as well as boost investment in clean jobs and a clean economic recovery.

John Connor is chief executive of the independent Climate Institute Australia.

Scare on Darwin natural gas plant

Thursday 12/3/2009 Page: 12

AN OPPOSITION senator has said a $24 billion natural gas plant will not be built in Darwin because of the company's fear of an emissions trading scheme. Speaking on ABC Radio, Country Liberal Party senator Nigel Scullion said he had spoken to the managing director of Japanese company Inpex, which plans to build the giant gas plant know as the Ichthys Project.

"He said to me with the existing arrangements they most likely wouldn't be coming to Darwin, and most likely (not to) Australia." But a company spokeswoman said yesterday Inpex "remained committed to advancing the project (in Darwin) ". However, she said the company was "currently evaluating the proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme legislation to understand its potential impact".

NT Chief Minister Paul Henderson said the company had not indicated to him it was prepared to move the project and accused Senator Scullion of "political scaremongering".

Victoria to get $100m solar energy plant Solar subsidy scheme to proceed

Wednesday 11/3/2009 Page: 7

THE State Government will go ahead with a solar subsidy scheme condemned by some of its own experts as likely to do nothing to boost the take-up of solar panels. But the Government will promote renewable energy by spending $100 million to establish a new regional solar energy station, subject to the Federal Government matching its commitment.

Premier John Brumby announced both initiatives yesterday, focusing on the plan for a 330-gigawatt solar plant with the capacity to power the equivalent of 50,000 hones. The location of the plant will be decided through a tender process. The Government claimed that, combined with an existing proposal for a solar plant near Mildura, the new plant would make Victoria the most "solar friendly" state in Australia.

"Solar has huge potential in Victoria and large-scale solar is the most economical form of solar energy generation which is why we are providing this funding," he said. Mr Brumby confirmed that the Government would proceed with a subsidy for electricity generated by domestic photovoltaic solar panels, known as a net feed in tariff. Under the system, households will be paid a premium of 60 cents per kW hour for surplus power fed back into the electricity grid.

A more ambitious scheme known as a gross feed-in tariff involves premium payments to households, businesses and community groups for all the solar energy they produce. In January, The Age reported on confidential advice to Environment Minister Gavin Jennings from Department of Sustainability and Environmental policy executive director Fiona Williams, warning that the net scheme favoured by the Government would do nothing to encourage solar use.

Last year Energy Minister Peter Batchelor argued against the gross scheme, claiming it would add $100 a year to household power bills. But the leaked memo rejected this, saying the real impost would be $7 a year. The tariff has been altered to lift the subsidy cap from a mooted 2 kWs to 3.2 kWs an hour, making the scheme marginally more generous than the one flagged by the Government last year.

Environment Victoria welcomed the plan for a large scale solar plant but slammed the feed-in tariff plan. "Unfortunately this announcement seems designed to disguise that the Brumby Government has made only very minor amendments to its flawed solar feed-in tariff," campaign director Mark Wakeham said.

The tariff plan looks set for hostility in the state upper house, with Greens spokesman Greg Barber saying his party would seek to "green it up". Mr Brumby said his Government had brought forward the solar plant proposal to tap into funding under the Federal Government's renewable energy demonstration program.

Key points
  • New plant will produce enough electricity to power equivalent of 50,000 homes.
  • Location is subject to tender.
  • Green groups welcome plant, but slam "flawed" subsidies.

Wong vows 2010 ETS start

Adelaide Advertiser
Wednesday 11/3/2009 Page: 15

CLIMATE Change Minister Penny Wong has unveiled the Government's long-awaited legislation for an emissions trading scheme, vowing to stick to the ambitious 2010 start date despite the economic downturn.

She said the draft Bill - nearly two weeks overdue - faithfully reflected the carbon pollution reduction scheme as already laid out. "This legislation ... gives effect to the policy position set out in the White Paper," she said. "This is a whole-of-economy reform, which will for the first time put a price on carbon. "It will encourage major polluting businesses to lower their emissions, and it will encourage investment in the new clean, low-pollution technology."

The release of the Bill sets the stage for the parliamentary battle to begin over the highly charged reform. The 490-page "exposure draft" will now be referred to at least one and possibly two Senate inquiries before facing what looks like a torrid negotiation period in the Senate. In a thinly veiled entreaty to the Greens and independents, Ms Wong said her colleagues should not be tempted to throw something away just because they would rather have everything.

The Government needs their support or the Opposition's, but neither can be assumed at present. Yesterday the Opposition, which thinks the CPRS goes too far, clubbed together with the Greens, who think its targets are far too mild, to set up their own two-month inquiry.

Opposition spokesman Andrew Robb said the scheme was plain wrong. "I don't know anybody who supports the scheme ... it will cost jobs, it will kill investment, and will not do anything of any consequence about CO2 emissions," he said in a joint press conference with the Greens' Christine Milne. "The Government has said that their legislation is as big as a Canberra phonebook; but what we know is that it's full of wrong numbers." Ms Milne said.

Renewables trading could save EU €17 billion a year – Eurelectric
London, 5 March:

Allowing EU member states full flexibility to meet their renewable energy targets by trading certificates could save €17 billion ($21 billion) a year by 2020, according to a study commissioned by electricity industry association Eurelectric. But, without any trading, at least six member states will struggle to meet their targets.

In December 2008, the EU signed off on targets to source 20% of energy supplies from renewable sources by 2020. According to Eurelectric, renewable electricity generation will need to reach 30-35% by 2020, if the target is to be reached. The burden for meeting this target is shared out across the member states and governments can use co-operation mechanisms, for example carrying out joint projects, to meet the targets.

However, the ability to trade between countries is limited. But reaching EU RES Southern Cross Targets in an Efficient Manner - Benefits of Trade, carried out for Eurelectric by the consultancy Poeyry, says that savings of €17 billion a year by 2020 would be possible, compared to the effort required for each member state to meet its own target.

Allowing member states to meet 20% of their targets through trade, with 80% through domestic action, would cut costs by €14 billion a year, but some countries will still struggle to meet their targets, the report says. But if no trading is allowed, six countries will face very high costs, of more than €500 per MW hour (MWh) to meet their targets, compared to costs under €200/MWh for the other member states.

Romania, Belgium and the Netherlands would face costs of more than €1,000/MWh if they are forced to meet their targets domestically, as they would be forced to install more expensive technologies, such as solar photovoltaics (PV). According to Poeyry, if member states rely on domestic action alone, they will need to produce 12.1 terrawatt hours (TWh) of electricity from solar PV, 2.9TWh from solar thermal, 3.6TWh from tidal stream technologies and 1.4TWh from wave power.

In a partial trading scenario, these figures would be greatly reduced and, if full trading was instituted, member states would be able to avoid adopting them entirely. The report also says that meeting the 20% renewables target will put a "significant downward pressure" on carbon prices within the EU emissions trading scheme, as the electricity generation portfolio shifts away from fossil fuelled generation.

The EU has set a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020, but has said it will increase its target to 30% if an ambitious global climate change deal is signed. Poeyry calculates that meeting the renewable energy target will effectively cut prices for EU allowances by €8/tonne in the 20% scenario, or €10-11/t if the 30% target is adopted.

First Solar expands solar project pipeline
London, 5 March:

First Solar is to acquire the 1,850MW solar project pipeline of developer OptiSolar for approximately $400 million. The Arizona-based solar panel company saw a bump in its share price after it announced the acquisition, and following the news it says it is now able to manufacture solar panels for less than $1 per watt. The firm's share price rose from a close of $103.97 on 2 March to $110.44 on 3 March, rising again to $113.25 on 4 March.

Analysts at Cowen & Co changed its rating to 'outperform' on 3 March. The acquisition will see First Solar take over a 550MW solar project already under development. Utility PG&E has signed a power purchase agreement to buy electricity produced by the project. The firm will also take over OptiSolar's 1,300MW project pipeline and 136,000 acres of strategic land rights, on which there is the potential to build up to 19GW of utility-scale projects.

Mike Ahearn, First Solar chief executive officer, said: "OptiSolar has created an impressive and well-designed development pipeline. Adding these resources, along with their development team, to First Solar is our next logical step to delivering multi-GW of solar energy to US utilities over the next several years." Although characterised by the firm as a "significant" expansion of its capacity in North America, the OptiSolar acquisition is not First Solar's first foray into project construction.

In November 2007, the firm bought Turner Renewable Energy to access its engineering, procurement and construction expertise, following which it has built a 10MW plant in El Dorado, Nevada, and signed a strategic agreement with Edison Mission Energy, including plans to build three "utility scale" plants in California. The acquisition is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2009, and will involve an all-stock transaction.

Thursday 12 March 2009

Climate guru rubbishes emission targets

Courier Mail
Tuesday 10/3/2009 Page: 14

Ross GarnautTHE economist paid by Labor to help craft its climate change policies has attacked the Rudd Government for weak emissions targets and for pandering to big business. Professor Ross Garnaut, commissioned by Kevin Rudd in Opposition to put forward the best model to combat climate change, last night joined a growing queue of critics.

But while many, including big business and some politicians, have argued that the Government's emissions trading scheme (ETS) should be delayed and goes too far, Professor Garnaut said Australia's low targets would impact on the rest of the world.

"Vested interest seeking to influence the process is not illegitimate in our democracy, but it can lead to poor policy outcomes," Professor Garnaut told ABC's Four Corners. "We've made it very difficult for Australia to play a positive role in moving the world towards an ambitious outcome." The Government will release its draft legislation today but its targets will remain: 5 to 15% cut on 2000 levels by 2020, with an ETS start date of July 2010.

The Climate Institute Australia's chief executive officer John Connor said there was no doubt that the "dirty" end of town had won. "They were successful in dampening the ambition on Australia's emission reduction targets and in watering down the conditions requiring the major polluters to clean up their act," Mr Connor said.

Senator Barnaby Joyce said the Nationals would cross the floor even if Liberal Party MPs changed their mind and voted for the scheme in the Senate. "Professor Garnaut has the same belief as me that the ETS is a load of rubbish but for different reasons." he said.

Oswal goes cold on solar plant

Tuesday 10/3/2009 Page: 18

Pankaj OswalFERTILISER baron Pankaj Oswal has reportedly scrapped plans to build a $1.5 billion solar energy plant in Western Australia's Pilbara region after being unable to find suitable land. The renewable energy project, which appears to only be in its nascent stages, will instead be shifted to South Australia's Coorong shire, 100km southeast of Adelaide.

Reports of the move came as the federal Government put the finishing touches on the draft legislation for its emissions trading scheme, which is slated for release today. Mr Oswal, who is best known for his failed attempts to float his Burrup fertiliser company, first raised the prospect of constructing a large-scale solar plant in the Pilbara in the middle of 2008.

Local government sources in the region however said that apart from preliminary discussions, very little work on the idea had progressed since that time. Mr Oswal had been seeking land which was close to existing transmission infrastructure, but not vulnerable to the cyclones which annually lash the West Australian coastline.

Horizon Power Energy, the government utility which supplies electricity to regional areas including the Pilbara, had entered a non binding memorandum of understanding with Mr Oswal to conduct a feasibility study into the development of a 100MW solar thermal power station in the Pilbara hinterland.

Horizon Power had also agreed to consider a potential off-take arrangement to underwrite the project. The relationship between the parties described was not a partnership, nor did it limit Horizon Power to deal exclusively with Oswal Power," a spokeswoman said yesterday.

"Horizon Power will continue to work with any proponent to investigate the commercial and technical feasibility of large-scale renewable generation in its service area." Pilbara Regional Council executive officer Adrian Ellson said the decision to proceed with the project in South Australia was a letdown.

"The PRC is disappointed ... we would have much preferred to have it here," Mr Ellson said. Spokespeople for Mr Oswal and the Coorong District Council were not available yesterday.

Southern Ocean acid a threat to marine life

West Australian
Monday 9/3/2009 Page: 13

Rising concentrations of acid in the Southern Ocean caused by greenhouse gases are damaging the ability of some sea creatures to form shells, posing a serious threat to marine life, a study by Australian scientists has found. One of the study's authors, Will Howard, said the findings were the first evidence from nature, rather than a laboratory, that the acidification of the Southern Ocean was having an impact on marine life.

"The potential knock-on effects pose significant implications for the oceanic food chain and the findings are a worrying signal of what we can expect to see elsewhere in the future," Dr Howard, whose study was funded by the Federal Government's Department of Climate Change, said.

The study, to be published today in the journal Nature Geoscience, compared the shells of microscopic marine animals, called forams, taken from the Southern Ocean with shells from similar animals preserved in sediments dating back to pre-industrial times. The scientists found the modern creatures had shell weights 30-35% lower than their pre-industrial forebears.

The study has implications for a wide range of sea life whose shells or skeletons could be damaged or deformed by rising acid levels, including krill, the main food source for whales. Scientists have been raising the alarm for several years about the increasing amounts of carbon dioxide being absorbed by the oceans as greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, soar.

The growing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere come mainly from the burning of fossil fuels and land clearing. As more and more carbon dioxide dissolves in the ocean it forms a weak acid, a process called acidification. Dr Howard and his fellow Australian marine scientists last year issued a warning about ocean acidification, saying its impact would be observed first in the Southern Ocean, which surrounds Antarctica.

They warned ocean acidification could have "significant ramifications for human communities dependent on coastal resources in Australia, the Indian Ocean and South Pacific region". The problem has since received global attention.

The release of the study comes as the campaign to overhaul the Federal Government's key climate change policy escalates this week as big greenhouse polluting companies and their lobbyists target politicians representing voters in coal mining, steel and aluminium towns. The campaign will warn MPs and senators of job losses and risks to regional economies.

Yesterday, 24 environmental and community groups, including the Australian Conservation Foundation and Greenpeace, sent a letter to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd urging him to send the carbon pollution reduction scheme "back to the drawing board for urgent redesign".

Big polluters lobby politicians over jobs

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 9/3/2009 Page: 4

THE campaign to overhaul the Federal Government's climate change policy will escalate this week as big greenhouse polluting companies and their lobbyists target politicians representing voters in coal-mining, steel and aluminium towns. MPs and senators will be warned of job losses, risks to regional economies and a fall in investment unless the scheme gives more help to industry.

Lobbyists and MPs said Labor and Coalition backbenchers would be targeted by companies including Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton-Billiton and Xstrata when the Minister for Climate Change, Penny Wong, makes public the new draft laws for the carbon pollution reduction scheme tomorrow.

The Australian Coal Association will take a slide-show campaign to backbenchers pressing its case for compensation under the scheme. The head of the Association, Ralph Hillman, said coal companies had been unfairly treated under the scheme because of the political sensitivity of giving compensation to the industry. We want the same rules that apply to the rest of industry to apply to coal," his presentation argues.

The executives of many companies will take part in the campaign, but a search of the Federal Government's new lobbying register reveals that nearly all the key players have also engaged some of Canberra's leading lobby firms. Listed on the register are Gavin Anderson and Company, representing BHP Billiton-Billiton and BlueScope Steel, and Business certainty representing Woodside Petroleum Energy.

John Daley, of Business certainty, is Canberra's most experienced lobbyist on the carbon emissions trading scheme and previously worked closely with the Howard government on drafting a scheme that was more generous to industry. Woodside Petroleum has already been successful in getting a better deal for the liquid natural gas business from the Rudd Government but wants more changes to the new scheme.

Environmental groups have harshly criticised the Government's scheme, saying it gives away too many free permits to pollute to industry and too much compensation. In the ABC TV program Four Corners tonight the Government's former climate change adviser Ross Garnaut says there has been "a huge investment in seeking to influence the political process" over the scheme.

That lobbying has intensified with the global economic crisis and the sharp fall in profits of the big polluting companies. Senator Wong said she would refer the scheme to a senate committee this week and wanted it to report by the middle of next month. However, as the scheme faces heavy criticism from both business and environmentalists, the Coalition and the Greens will meet today to set up a new senate inquiry.

The Opposition spokesman on the environment, Greg Hunt, and a Greens senator, Christine Milne, said yesterday that they hoped the talks would result in a senate inquiry that would cover a broad range of issues, from the impact of the scheme to the Government's targets.

Polling published yesterday by the Climate Institute Australia indicates that while Labor is still seen as stronger among all voters on handling climate change, 56% of swinging voters are undecided about the Government's performance.

Extra cost of renewable energy may be wasted

West Australian
Tuesday 10/3/2009 Page: 13

Thousands of people who have chosen to pay extra for renewable green electricity will not help to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions if the new carbon reduction Bill becomes law, according to consumer advocacy group Choice.

Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn said that under the proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS), due to be introduced in Federal Parliament today, voluntary action by consumers, such as buying GreenPower, would make it cheaper and easier for industry to pollute. "Under the scheme, Australia's biggest polluting businesses are required to achieve a certain emissions reduction target," he said. "When households buy accredited GreenPower or domestic carbon offsets it doesn't help exceed this target.

It simply makes it cheaper for business to achieve what they are required to do anyway." Mr Zinn said that since Australia signed the Kyoto Protocol in 2007, voluntary efforts to reduce the nation's carbon footprint were not "additional" to the greenhouse emission reductions that Australia was required to meet.

"The CPRS undermines consumer choice," he said. "Carbon pollution avoided as a result of voluntary consumer action should be counted as additional to the mandatory emissions reductions required of polluting industry. "Unless this legislation can be improved, consumers' financial sacrifices will be wasted as it will make no difference to Australia's emissions."

More than 878,000 households have chosen to pay more for renewable energy nation-wide. According to electricity retailer Synergy Energy, almost 7500 WA households had signed up to renewable energy program GreenPower by last December. Their average bi-monthly electricity bill is $40 more than a household not using GreenPower.

Synergy Energy corporate affairs chief Andrew Gaspar said an extra 6725 households had signed up to GreenPower since December 2004. "It is important customers' actions are appropriately recognised under the CPRS," he said. Opposition climate change spokesman Greg Hunt said there was a "significant design flaw" in the CPRS. "We would like to see a system which ensures that where householders take additional action, that has an impact on Australia's overall emissions," Mr Hunt said.

A spokeswoman for Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said caps on carbon pollution to be set in the future would take into account the emissions reductions being made by households today.

Steady flow of new jobs eases pain of downturn

Weekend Australian
Saturday 7/3/2009 Page: 5

A STEADY flow of jobs in the sustainable water sector is likely to help bolster an employment market that is feeling the effects of the international financial crisis. A new report commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the ACTU, entitled Green Gold Rush, suggests Australia's sustainable water sector has the potential to generate 66,000 jobs and an annual market approaching $40 billion within the next two decades.

The report identifies six sectors in which growth in green-collar jobs is expected: renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable water systems, biomaterials, green buildings. and waste and recycling. A total of 850,000 jobs could be generated across those areas by 2030, along with a multi-billion-dollar export industry as Australia sells its environmental technology and services to the world.

Given Australia's status as the driest inhabited continent on earth, water systems that focus on efficiency improvements and alternative treatment technologies in urban and rural areas shape as a potential strength for the nation. Kate Noble, sustainable cities campaigner for the ACF, says Australia is well-placed to service environmentally sustainable sectors here and overseas.

"I think having had the drought that we've just come through, we're in a position to export some of our know-how on this," she says. "That's the big opportunity for us: the distribution and installation of systems that promote healthy water use."

The ACF cites companies such as AquaSpy and Sentek, which manufacture and distribute moisture-sensor technology that helps control irrigation for agricultural and horticultural operations, as examples of innovative businesses that could thrive. To take advantage of skill-sets that have already been developed courtesy of nationwide water saving schemes, Noble says government must act quickly.

"We've got the opportunity, but it's going to depend on what policies the state and federal governments put in place. By committing to policies that deliver a sustainable economy, the market for green-collar jobs will be stimulated." State and federal rebate schemes for rainwater tanks illustrate the importance of government-driven momentum. Demand for backyard tanks has burgeoned.

'A lot of the rainwater tank manufacturers are still Australian-based. So there are a lot of small to medium enterprises there with skills [that] should not be forgotten in the wake of changing climate conditions," Noble says. "I really think that's where we should be focusing, not just for our domestic economy but also in terms of skills to export."

To take advantage of this expertise, Noble says government will have to promote and fund training programs to improve the skills of the workforce. An urban water reform process being undertaken by the Council of Australian Governments is considering the need to address a skills shortage in the water industry resulting from an ageing workforce.

Noble believes universities and trainee schemes must be encouraged to ensure Australia's sustainable water market prospers. "It's really a whole range of skills that you're going to need: engineering and design and those kind of skills[are critical] for our water infrastructure, but also basic plumbing installation and maintenance skills."

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Lighten up on carbon fears

Weekend Australian
Saturday 7/3/2009 Page: 1

EINZ Schandl has a job to do: convince decision-makers that employment will not be affected by a green revolution.

The CSIRO senior scientist, who last year co-wrote an employment modelling report titled Growing the Green Collar Economy, is keen to allay fears about the future of work if a carbon pollution reduction scheme is adopted. As many jobs will be created as will be lost, the economic modelling in his report shows. "Well-designed policies can substantially decouple economic growth from environmental pressure, so that living standards continue to increase at current rates (avoiding blockages that might otherwise occur), while our national environmental footprint reduces overtime," says the CSIRO report to the Dusseldorp Skills Forum, an independent, not-for-profit organisation.

"Achieving a rapid transition to sustainability would have little or no impact on national employment, with projected increases in employment of 2.5 [million] to 3.3 million jobs over the next two decades." The progression to a more carbon-neutral economy will result in some jobs being lost, but there will be proportionate employment gains elsewhere, Schandl says. "It might be that the aluminium smelter might close down, but at the same time you will have new employment," he says.

"If you introduce carbon trading, there will be considerable jobs growth in those sectors that are very environment-intensive, like transport, construction, manufacturing and mining." Schandl says the CSIRO report addresses fears about a trade-off between efforts to address climate change and employment. There is a notion, particularly among some business leaders, that climate change action spells bad news for jobs growth, that one will advance at the expense of the other. This is not the case, Schandl says.

The Business Council of Australia is very clear that growth takes precedence, particularly when the economic indicators are pointing downward. The drafting of legislation and the development of an implementation framework for the Government's emissions trading scheme, that is, the carbon pollution reduction scheme, is occurring at a time of a sudden and severe downturn in the global economy, which in turn has brought significant uncertainty about Australia's short-term economic outlook," last month's BCA submission to the Centre for International Economics Review of the carbon pollution reduction scheme white paper says.

"In light of this, the finalisation of the scheme details and the implementation, especially in the early years, will require a tailored approach that is aligned to global and national economic conditions and designed to ensure Australia's industry and employment opportunities are not adversely [affected]. "This does not mean Australia should walk away from the ongoing international negotiations, nor does it mean work on the details of the CPRS should be stalled. What it does mean is making sure the introduction of the CPRS does not lead to further economic, environmental and social uncertainty."

The underlying fear of losing what we have an aspiration for economic growth in the traditional sense for what is an imaginary world that exists only in modelling scenarios is clearly a reflection of a widely held view. The transition from model to reality involves considerable work as well as political will. We are talking about a skills revolution, says Schandl.

It's a revolution "that will fundamentally change how you are doing things, and it will change how we get used to doing things in major sectors of the economy where in the first place we would not assume to find the same skills". In his view, the change will be at systemic and individual levels, at macro and micro Stages, and in established and new sectors.

"When you think about people who operate windfarms or new energy or alternative energy kind of businesses, but actually green skills will occur in very traditional sectors," he says. The best example is the construction sector. This will require people in the workplace at the construction site to do things very differently in order to have more energy efficient buildings. That will have an effect on [town] planners, councils, on building standards and on the supply chain."

How we think about transport also will change. "The whole idea of transport and mobility is organised in a very individualised way," Schandl says. "Everyone drives his own car. We need to think of cities [that] have a very different urban mix and are much more walkable than our cities are today. Public transport is the preferred option." Skills change in turn will make demands on training needs.

"Restructuring of the energy system to decentralised and renewable systems will require know-how and skills not yet available," the CSIRO report says. The future, in other words, is looking green as soon as the policy decision in that direction is made. But decision-making is not the metier of a scientist, Schandl says. As a scientist, you need to provide information, which is impartial. And that's where it stands now."

Power to save if you have time to be smart about it

Sun Herald
Sunday 8/3/2009 Page: 32

AUSTRALIAN families will soon be able to track their energy use via home computer while potentially having the power to switch household electrical appliances on and off with a mobile phone. A free internet-based gadget will allow people with "smart" meters to monitor electricity use as it happens instead of having to wait every three months for a bill.

Electricity providers and the software developers say the combined technology will cut hundreds of dollars from annual household energy costs. A Google spokesman said the PowerMeter software, which measures the electricity used by appliances, would be available as an add-on to internet homepages before year's end.

We think consumers have a right to access detailed information about their home electricity usage throughout the day, to help save money and make smart energy decisions," he said. Google claims consumers will save up to 15% on bills by using PowerMeter to analyse their energy usage.

NSW Government-owned electricity provider EnergyAustralia has installed about 400,000 "smart" meters as part of a five year national rollout. These meters charge a higher tariff in peak periods, and lower amounts for shoulder and off peak periods.

EnergyAustralia spokesman Anthony O'Brien said a two-year trial of 1200 home monitors found 20 to 25% of consumers switched to off-peak use for certain appliances, with families saving an average of 20% on energy bills. But products such as PowerMeter needed an upgraded "intelligent" electricity grid and a second generation of smart meters to be truly effective.

About 10,000 such advanced smart meters had so far been installed in NSW, allowing remote meter-reading and online access to household electricity use. Providers will also be able to respond to "brownouts" by shutting off power to certain areas.

"The potential applications are huge," Mr O'Brien said. "smart meters enable a whole range of interesting possibilities. "What will be interesting from the consumer point of view will be the access to real-time information in the home." A $170 million intelligent network program is expected to be rolled out within a decade.

"You can picture what it will be like," Mr O'Brien said. "Your electric car can be plugged in and charged at a time when the price is cheaper. You can log onto the network from work through a remote-controlled device [online phone or computer] to control your home air-conditioner and set the dishwasher to run." Stakeholders have praised smart meters, but others are viewing them with more caution.

Indeed, some early take-up customers have reported bills rising as they are unable to adjust their energy habits outside peak hours, while others with smart meters have complained of problems trying to swap providers. Clean Energy Council chief Matthew Warren said smart metering would be "pivotal in driving energy efficiency".

NSW Department of Water and Energy executive director Peter Leihn said the challenge for Google would be making the software simple enough for most energy consumers to use. "The real-time feedback is going to be a positive thing," he said.

CSIRO researcher Glen Platt said PowerMeter was restricted to customers who can use and access the internet. The CSIRO has been developing in-house monitors - due in five years - that provide real-time information without requiring computer know-how. "We're working on ways to get benefits like 16% savings without having to be technologically savvy and it won't affect lifestyle and comfort," Dr Platt said.

The Answer Is Blowin' In The Wind
Mar 02 2009

Wind energy today costs California utilities about twice what it did in 2003, due to rising prices for turbines, concrete and labor, but it's still a good value for clean energy, PG&E's top buyer of renewable power told a group of visiting experts from the Asia-Pacific region today.

Fong Wan, the utility's senior vice president for energy procurement, kicked off a five-day meeting of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which is focusing on wind energy generation. The event is being hosted by PG&E.

The partnership, supported by the U.S. Departments of Energy and State, promotes technical collaboration among utilities and other private-sector energy partners in Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States to improve energy efficiency, reduce pollution and address the threat of climate change.

The member countries together have more than half the world's population and consume over half the world's energy--so finding common ground among them will go a long way toward enabling true global cooperation on energy issues and climate change.

Read more:

Tuesday 10 March 2009

Salisbury to tame wind for big decal project

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 7/3/2009 Page: 22

AUSTRALIA'S largest wind energyed desalination plant is planned for Adelaide's north this year. Litre for litre, the City of Salisbury's plant should far outperform the State Government's $1.5 billion desalination project at Port Stanvac, because it uses brackish groundwater rather than seawater. The plant will be located near the Greenfields wetlands and powered by one or more wind turbines, Salisbury city projects director Colin Pitman said.

"One of these wind desalinators can produce 1.5 gigalitres per annum," Mr Pitman said. "So two of them is three gigalitres. Adelaide's consumption though the Murray in a normal year is 80 gigalitres a year, so we are producing 4% of Adelaide's needs from the Murray River." Every litre extracted from the aquifer will be replaced with cleaned stormwater, so the aquifer volume will remain constant.

Mr Pitman said the wind desalination of brackish groundwater had cost and environmental benefits. "It compares with seawater desalination, where you have to put a lot of energy into it because you have got very high salinities and you produce lots of brine," he said. The brackish water has a salinity of about 2000 parts per million, compared with about 500ppm in drinking water and 37,000ppm in seawater.

"It's our intention to pump discharge brine into a very saline aquifer at a depth of about 300m - so it does not pollute that aquifer but just puts in similar salty water," Mr Pitman said. The system will plug into Salisbury Council's 30-year pioneering development of wetlands that clean stormwater for reuse. Pilot trials preparing for the desalination plant are due to commence on April 2.

Barrie Harrop, executive director of SA's Windesal which will build the plant, said it would demonstrate the possibilities of green energy desalination. "It is a showcase that will establish a new industry in SA, which we believe will employ upwards of 1000 people," he said.

Neat FIT a big saver

Daily Telegraph
Friday 6/3/2009 Page: 42

RECEIVING credits, rather than bills, from their electricity provider is one of the rewards for those who install solar panels on their homes. In NSW, most households with solar energy systems are paid by their electricity provider for the surplus energy they release back into the grid. But, as most solar energy is produced in the middle of the clay, payment for this energy is usually calculated on the lower offpeak rates.

Industry and environmental groups are now pushing the NSW Government to introduce a gross solar feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme, which would see households and businesses compensated for all the renewable energy they produce, rather than just what's surplus to their needs.

Campaigners say FIT rates should be higher than the market value of electricity by taking into account the savings represented by reducing electricity loss through transmission. Consumers would then buy back the electricity they require at market rates.

According to a recent Access Economics study commissioned by the Clean Energy Council, an average of 5.9% of electricity is lost during electricity generation within Australian networks. "A greater reliance on solar PV systems could reduce this lost capacity from having the source of production closer to the final point of use," the study reads.

"By siting a generator near a load, the amount of energy required to be imported from the network is reduced." If solar energy systems are more widely adopted by households and businesses, they would also reduce the need for costly system upgrades - something which would also be factored into gross FIT rates. It would also provide protection against power outages during times of high demand.

In a submission on the introduction of a solar FIT in NSW, released earlier this year, The Clean Energy Council argued that a gross FIT with a fair set price would avoid discriminating between those who use electricity during peak electricity production periods, such as small businesses and retirees, and workers who are away from the home when their system is producing the most electricity: "If a price is set for the buy back of energy at a point in network, it should be applicable to all energy produced at the site, regardless of whether it is used on site or exported, for small generation sites; the impact on energy flows in the grid is the same."

The ACT and Western Australia have saver already introduced a gross FIT scheme, while Queensland and Victoria have opted for a net version - the FIT rates apply to surplus, rather than all electricity produced. While the Federal Government's Solar Credits scheme, to be introduced in July, will make installing renewable energy systems a more affordable option for a wider proportion of the population, a gross FIT would ensure they're paid off sooner.

"If the scheme is long enough and the rate is high enough, it should be sufficient to provide a return on capital investment of less than 10 years," the submission states. "The scheme should be in place for no less than 15 years to provide investor confidence." The Clean Energy Council's general manager of policy, Rob Jackson, says a gross FIT would also make it easier for people to do a cost-benefit analysis when considering investing in solar technology.

It makes it much easier for those who are trying to value what they're getting, and how quickly they will be able to pay it off," he says. "It would help to attract a wider crowd, not just people with a keen environmental interest. It will move to a point where a solar PV system is seen as adding additional value to the house."

Case Study
Bills slashed - and the air is cleaner

BORROWING over $30,000 for a solar energy system was a big move, but every time their electricity bill arrives, Bill and Chrissie Holland are reassured that they did the right thing.

Before fitting their six-bedroom northern beaches home with solar panels two years ago, their quarterly electricity bill often reached over $700. Now, the family of seven receives credit from their electricity company for their surplus energy that's fed into the grid. Their last bill, for example, was $8o in their favour. The 3.64 kW system on their roof cost close to $38,000, minus a rebate and renewable energy certificates worth $5000 combined.

At current rates, the Holland family's electricity savings will outweigh the expenditure on the system in 10 to 12 years. But if energy prices rise as expected, and a gross feed-in tariff is introduced to increase the value of the surplus power they produce, this will come down to between five and eight years.

With a 25-year warranty, and similar systems lasting up to 40 years, Mr Holland believes he'll end up well ahead. "We're already saving the better part of $3000 a year in energy we're not having to pay for," he says. "Before we got the system, we were using up to 5o kW hours a day, and between 20 and 30 in summer.

"When I got my last $700 quarterly bill, I thought: 'I don't want to do this again.' " But it's not just about the money. Mr Holland says it's satisfying to know his family's electricity use isn't having an adverse environmental impact. Every year, they save around five tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, and in just over two years, have fed 1750 surplus kW hours back into the grid.

"Every day when I get home, I go and see what the production of power has been during the day," Mr Holland says. "It's such a good feeling knowing you are producing more power than you're using every day. "We have a north-facing roof, so I really couldn't justify not doing it.

"I'm so glad I did it that I'm always trying to convert others. My dad and sister have now done theirs and my brother wants to get solar panels too." Having the system has also made the family more aware of their energy consumption. Mr Holland now offers his younger children a pocket money bonus if they diligently turn off lights and electrical equipment when not in use, switch appliances off from the powerpoint rather than leaving them on standby and stick to three minute showers.

Santos reviews carbon-capture project

Courier Mail
Friday 6/3/2009 Page: 40

SANTOS is considering halting its carbon capture and storage project in the Cooper Basin due to weak oil prices and as the initial carbon price under the planned emissions trading scheme is too low to make it economical.

The mining industry is generally baulking at imminent action to dramatically cut carbon emissions and meantime more Australian projects aimed at establishing a low-emissions future for coal and gas are biting the dust as developers cite cost pressures.

Projects have recently been abandoned in Australia by the likes of Shell, Anglo American, BP, Rio Tinto and General Electric. Santos spokesman Matt Doman said: "When CCS will be proven up remains unknown. Even if that could happen, 80% of the (emissions cut) benefit can be delivered reliably and affordably by using gas-fired stations with technology that exists today (and) has a certain cost and higher reliability."

We can keep jobs and save the planet

Friday 6/3/2009 Page: 15

AS DEBATE on emissions trading demonstrates, an enormous gulf still separates rhetoric from action on global warming; there is a macabre irony in government, opposition, industry groups and economists all being hoist with the petard of their own inconsistent policies.

Emissions trading is one essential building block of a national emissions reduction strategy if the transition to a lowcarbon economy is to be achieved. There is nothing wrong with the framework proposed in the Federal Government's carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS); it is essentially similar to various proposals under development since 1998. Where it falls down is that its key parameters are inconsistent with the task that, in theory, it is designed to undertake.

It is impossible to design a sensible emissions reduction strategy, and an emissions trading scheme (ETS), without first deciding on the targets to be achieved. The Government's stated objective is for strong action, but the targets, compensation and escape clauses in the CPRS imply exactly the opposite. Hence the avalanche of criticism.

Richard Denniss argues that individual incentives to reduce emissions is negated by the CPRS cap. John Humphreys and others maintain a carbon tax is preferable to emissions trading.

Geoff Carmody argues for a consumption, rather than a production-based, ETS. Most industry lobby groups want the whole process delayed until their members have weathered the financial crisis. The Greenhouse Mafia no doubt see a splendid opportunity to prevent any action at all for another decade.

The fatal flaw in the debate is that current mindsets and policy proposals are based on scientific information that is at least five years out of date. The latest information indicates that we now min a rapidly increasing risk of sudden and total failure of some part of the climatic system, from which recovery may be impossible.

Sensible risk management in this context requires emission reduction targets to be based on the latest, considered science, not on a political view of the art-of-the-possible. The target for stabilisation of atmospheric carbon to avoid catastrophic consequences and maintain a safe climate is now probably a concentration of less than 300 ppm carbon dioxide, not the outdated 450-550 ppm carbon dioxide in current proposals.

This means emission reductions by Australia must be in the range of 45 to 50% by 2020 and almost complete decarbonisation by 2050, rather than the 5 to 15% by 2020 and 60% by 2050 currently proposed.

Many will dismiss these targets as unattainable given that current concentrations are 385 ppm carbon dioxide; it will require not only the rapid curtailment of emissions, but the reabsorption of some carbon already in the atmosphere. We have the technology to achieve this and when real emergencies loons, as at present, then remarkable change is possible.

In this context, emissions trading alone is not enough. It must be complemented with regulatory initiatives and other incentives to accelerate energy efficiency, conservation and alternative energy supply, improve building codes, vehicle and aviation emission standards, personal carbon trading opportunities and carbon sequestration. This involves setting the right framework for rapid change. Compensation must be minimised - public funding should encourage a viable future, not prop up an unsustainable past, particularly when funding is going to be in short supply.

Looked at in the light of strong targets, the current bones of contention fall away. We will need every possible contribution to reduce emissions, with individual efforts encouraged by regulatory and personal trading initiatives. Carbon taxes make no sense as they do not deliver guaranteed emission reductions, the tax quantum required would have to be far higher than politically and commercially tenable, and the cost of meeting 11 targets would be higher than under an ETS.

As the world begins to understand the latest science, rapid global action is now probable, which takes away any justification for compensation to trade exposed industries. The world will be crying out for low carbon products, which will be a source of competitive advantage for those prepared to take up the challenge. There has never been any justification for compensation to domestic high emitters. Thus much of the argument for our consumption-based ETS falls away.

The current mantra is "the preservation of jobs" but this is a fallacy - at best it can only have a marginal impact on the devastation being wrought by the financial crisis. The real focus must be the creation of jobs in the new industries on which our low carbon future must be based, rather than the problems and costs of moving away from the old.

This is the right time to make the transition and it can be achieved at far less cost than the horror stories propagated by the fossil fuel lobby, in many cases with a net economic benefit. Employment is likely to rise because these new industries are far more labour intensive than the industry they replace.

A cautionary tale from the US car industry: GM and Ford lobbied very successfully in the late 1990s to prevent improvements in US vehicle emission standards. The net result is that they are facing bankruptcy while Toyota and Honda now lead the US car market. If the greenhouse mafia continue to get its way, the country will be condemned to penury for decades to come.

Ian Dunlop chaired the Australian Greenhouse Office Experts Group on Emissions Trading from 1998 - 2000, which developed the first Australian emissions trading concepts.

Petratherm will chase $100m hot rocks grant

Adelaide Advertiser
Friday 6/3/2009 Page: 70

SA GEOTHERMAL explorer Petratherm will apply for a Federal Government grant of up to $100 million to set up a 30 MW demonstration project at its Paralana joint venture project. On behalf of partners TRUEnergy and Beach Petroleum, it has registered interest for a share of the $435 million Renewable Energy Demonstration Program.

The project's financially strong partners, potential to provide large-scale base load power, technical strengths and strong management capability would make a "compelling and competitive application", managing director Terry Kallis said. The REDP program is designed to accelerate commercialisation and deployment of renewable energy technologies for power generation across Australia. Petratherm shares closed 2c higher at 32c last night, while Beach Petroleum closed 0.5c higher at 78.5c.

Monday 9 March 2009

$1 to pay for green power already in use

Northern Territory News
Thursday 5/3/2009 Page: 3

TERRITORY electricity users who sign up for the new Green Power scheme will not get any more power from renewable sources than they did beforehand. The Government and Power and Water have announced people will soon be able to pay an extra $1 per week for renewable energy. Essential Services Minister Rob Knight said it was a "fantastic opportunity" to help the environment. "Territorians can opt to buy some or all of their electricity from renewable energy sources for as little as $1 a week." he said.

But anyone who signs up will get the same power from the grid as they did last year - coming from the same sources as everyone who does not sign up. Power and Water general manager of retail Jim Bamber yesterday said this would be generated from a combination of gas, diesel generators and renewable energy from the Shoal Bay biomass generator. He said no one would be able to get all their power from renewable energy sources.

"The whole green power scheme is a voluntary scheme," he said. "But we've got to start somewhere." PWC figures show at peak periods 30% of Darwin's electricity comes from diesel generators at Channel Island power station. In cooler periods - during the monsoon - this dropped down to 15 % . Mr Bamber said the biomass power generator at Shoal Bay has been adding 9000 MW hours of power per year into the Darwin-Katherine grid for several years.

The biomass generator could provide 13,000 homes with 10% of their power. Mr Bamber said the extra $1 per week from customers was a way people could show their support for renewable energy and drive further Territory investment. Environment Centre co-ordinator Stuart Blanch said the NT had nowhere near the amount of green power production capacity to meet demand if users took up the option en masse.

Fossil fuel use will lead to 'climate storm'

Adelaide Advertiser
Thursday 5/3/2009 Page: 19

UNTIL now, most discussion of climate change has been about what scientific evidence shows is likely to happen between now and 2100. However, scientific research shows that the carbon dioxide gas released from burning fossil fuels lasts in the atmosphere much longer than mere decades. David Archer, a leading climate researcher who teaches at the University of Chicago, has written a new book that looks at carbon dioxide's "long tail" and what it means for changes on Earth in the future.

If the world continues its heavy use of coal over the next couple of hundred years until it is essentially used up, it will take several centuries more for the oceans to absorb about three-quarters of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. In those centuries, there would be a "climate storm" that Archer says would be significantly worse than the climate forecast from now to 2100.

The remaining carbon dioxide - the long tail - would stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years, leaving a warmer climate. About 10% of it would still be in the atmosphere in 100,000 years, Mr Archer writes in The Long Thaw. How Humans Are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth's Climate. "Ultimately, the amount of fossil fuel available could be enough to raise the atmospheric CO2, concentration higher than it has been in millions of years," Mr Archer writes.

Because of the long life of CO2, from fossil fuels, the climate impacts would last for many thousands of years. Ice sheets would melt, raising seas high enough to swamp 10% or more of the world's agricultural land.

Other climate impacts could include uncomfortable heat and drier continental interiors, Mr Archer writes. "In the long run, it could be a steep price to pay for a century or so of fossil fuel energy." Mr Archer studies the carbon cycle of Earth as it interacts with global climate. His slim book is a clear explanation of carbon dioxide and climate change for non-scientists. It also explains how the climate changed in the distant past and looks ahead to the deep future.

His work has been a part of what John Holdren, whom President Barack Obama named as his science adviser, has called the "tremendous effort" among scientists to reach a "centre of gravity" in the understanding of climate change. The results of this work are available in the reports of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The conclusion, as Mr Holdren summed up at his confirmation hearing recently: "Climate change is real, it's accelerating, it is caused in substantial part by human activity, it is dangerous and it is getting more so." Like Mr Holdren and other climate experts, Mr Archer concludes that there's still time to cut fossil fuel emissions enough to avoid disaster.

"The question may come down to ethics, rather than economics," he writes, much as the issue of slavery did more than a century ago. "Ultimately it didn't matter whether it was economically beneficial or costly to give up. It was simply wrong."