Thursday 9 April 2009

US market welcomes Waxman-Markey climate bill
London, 2 April

Congressmen Henry Waxman and Ed Markey have received plaudits for a bill that would create an emissions trading system in the US. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, put forward on Tuesday, aims to establish a cap-and-trade programme for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as promote renewable energy, carbon capture and storage (CCS), energy efficiency and low-carbon fuels, among other things.

"It's important to remember that the bill is a comprehensive energy bill," said Joseph Stanko, a partner at Hunton & Williams in Washington, DC. "For the first time in our legislature, we're going to see climate change discussed in the context" of a complete energy debate. Stanko also hailed the bill's moves to "stop some of the Clean Air Act's duplicative regulation", such as removing carbon dioxide and other GHGs from the act's remit to regulate hazardous air pollutants.

If passed as is, the bill would require electricity suppliers to source an increasing share of power from renewable sources, starting at 6% in 2012 and rising to 25% by 2025 - similar to a target in a bill tabled by Markey in February. State governors can request to have this obligation reduced by 20% in favour of energy efficiency measures. These targets would be met by suppliers delivering tradable federal renewable energy certificates, awarded to renewable energy generators.

The emissions trading system would cap GHG emissions at 3% below 2005 levels in 2012, 20% in 2020, 42% in 2030, and 83% below 2005 levels in 2050 - mirroring targets proposed by a coalition of businesses and environmental groups in January. This is slightly less aggressive than previous proposals from the two congressmen, noted Manik Roy, director of congressional affairs atthe Virginia-based Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The bill would cap emissions from sectors that account for 85% of US emissions, including power generators, oil companies, and large industrial emitters. There is also a mention of allowance auctions, starting by 2011 and to be held four times a year at regular intervals. However, there is no explicit mention of the percentage of allowances to be auctioned nor specific allocations to covered sectors.

There are also proposals to speed up the commercial development of CCS, and to reduce regulatory hurdles for pilot projects. And, in a boost to car manufacturers, the bill has provisions to financially support companies that retool their plants to make electric cars. Waxman has pledged to pass cap-and-trade legislation out of the House energy and commerce committee, which he chairs, by Memorial Day, 25 May. Before that, the bill must go through the House subcommittee on energy and environment, chaired by Markey - "one of the toughest hurdles it will face", said Pew's Roy.

"It's a test of if the moderates, Waxman and Markey can work together to get a bill that leads to emissions reductions the environmentalists want with the economic protection the pro-business moderates want," he added. Passing mirroring legislation through the Senate will also be a challenge, as the Democrats fall short of the 60-seat majority required to guarantee a bill's passage.

"They have outlined a very aggressive scheduled for consideration of the bill," added Stanko from Hunton & Williams. "If they hold to the schedule ... we'll go straight into hearings" after a two-week Easter break which starts next week.

International task force to plan green stimulus strategy
London, 2 April:

The World Economic Forum has set up a task force to identify how to create millions of green jobs and put long-term economic growth on a sustainable, low-carbon path. Launched in London this week, 52 companies and 32 'thought leaders' have joined the forum's Task Force on Low-Carbon Economic Prosperity, which will develop ideas to feed into global policy.

The task force will, by the third quarter, produce 10-20 recommendations of "game-changing" policy activities or public-private collaborations that stand the best chance of catalysing investment in low-carbon solutions within the following 18 months. Its ideas will target both industrialised and developing countries.

"The international community faces the twin challenges of dealing with the most serious global economic crisis since the 1930s and negotiating an ambitious agreement on climate change. We suggest that the two agendas can and should be designed to be mutually reinforcing," said Richard Samans, managing director of the World Economic Forum.

Peter Mandelson, UK secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform, said a low-carbon future was an "environmental imperative and an economic opportunity". "Climate change and the mitigation effort will be a major [economic] driver. There's clear evidence that jobs can be created," said Caio Koch-Weser, vice-chairman of Deutsche Bank Group.

However, a recent study of Spanish support for renewable energy suggests there is no net job creation from renewable incentives. According to University of Rey Juan Carlos research director Gabriel Calzada, for every 'green' job created, 2.2 jobs are lost in other industries, mainly in the metallurgy, non-metallic mining, food processing, beverage and tobacco industries.

"Such 'green jobs' policy clearly hinders Spain's way out of the current economic crisis, even while US politicians insist that rushing into such a scheme will ease their own emergence from the turmoil," the study says.

Winds of change in Asia plan

Hobart Mercury
Wednesday 8/4/2009 Page: 17

HYDRO Tasmania's wind energy arm Roaring 40s has abandoned its plans to become Asia's leading renewable energy business with the sale of its overseas assets. The company, a joint venture between Hydro Tasmania and China Light and Power (CLP), yesterday announced it would sell its Chinese and Indian assets to CLP Group outright for $A163 million.

Hydro Tasmania invested $67.8 million in Roaring 40s' Asian projects. Its $81.5 million share of the expected total sale price represents a return of 1.2 tunes its investment. The company said it would focus on opportunities closer to home as prospects for renewable energy were better under the Rudd Government.

Roaring 40s will continue to operate in Australia as a 50-50 joint venture between Hydro Tasmania and CLP Group, operating windfarms at Woolnorth in Tasmania totalling 140MW, a 50% share in the 66MW Cathedral Rocks Windfarm in South Australia. and with further development projects planned. Hydro Tasmania chairman David Crean said the Federal Government's support for renewable energy options meant onshore developments were more attractive.

"The Roaring 40s joint venture was created in 2005 as a result of the previous federal government not extending the mandatory renewable energy target and significant investment opportunities in Asia," Dr Crean said. "The prospects for renewable energy in Australia have changed for the better.

"There is genuine support for the renewable energy sector and the time is right to focus the expertise built up overseas back in the Australian market. "Today's announcement represents the culmination of 12 months of work reviewing the joint venture. "From Hydro Tasmania's perspective, the sale price represents an excellent return on our investment of the past three years," Dr Crean said.

Families fear being burnt by solar scheme

Herald Sun
Wednesday 8/4/2009 Page: 8

HOUSEHOLDS with solar panels will be discouraged from being energy efficient under proposed legislation, environment groups warn. The Victorian Government's feed-in tariff scheme would see people who installed rooftop solar panels paid with power bill credits for energy they put back into the grid, rather than cash, as in other states.

If the credit is not used after 12 months, it expires. Andrew Rothfield, of Hawthorn, estimates he will produce at least $500 worth of power more than he'll use each year. "We are a pretty normal household so it seems the reality is that most households' credit will greatly exceed their power usage," Mr Rothfield said. "It cost $22,000 for us to install this system and we thought there would be some return on that investment."

Alternative Technology Association advocate Damien Moyse said there was no incentive for people to contribute extra power to the grid. "There is almost a perverse incentive to consume as much energy as you can so that you don't lose out," Mr Moyse said. But Energy and Resources Minister Peter Batchelor said most households would use all the power they produced.

He said providing credits rather than cash payments made Victoria's feed-in tariff scheme "more robust". "The Brumby Government is not prepared to support a scheme that allows people who can afford panels to make huge profits at the expense of more vulnerable members of the community, particularly in these times of global financial difficulties," Mr Bachelor said. "Our scheme promotes energy conservation and encourages people to be better managers of their energy use."

Wind farms fetch $133m

Wednesday 8/4/2009 Page: 2

HONG Kong power giant China Light and Power has bought the Chinese windfarm assets of renewable energy company Roaring 40s for $HK730 million ($A133 million).

The purchase will enable Roaring 40s to go on a renewable energy spending spree, buoyed by the Federal Government's 20% renewable energy target and the proposed emissions trading scheme which will increase demand for cleaner power sources.

CLP Group, which owns energy retailer TRUEnergy, has bought the wind assets from Hydro Tasmania, its 50-50 joint partner in Roaring 40s. The Hong Kong-based company has also flagged its intention to buy the Khandke windfarm in India from Hydro Tasmania for about $15.5 million.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Fast-track on solar vow after complaints

Courier Mail
Tuesday 7/4/2009 Page: 3

AN election promise to provide 200,000 Queensland households with cut-price solar hot water systems will be fast tracked by the Bligh Government following concerns further delays could threaten jobs. But the move failed to appease the solar industry which yesterday described the plan as "bad policy" and said they would be expected to cut their profits to the bone.

Premier Anna Bligh yesterday announced Queenslanders who wanted to apply for the systems would be able to register their interest from today, while the tender process will open next Wednesday to find local manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and installers. Up to 40,000 solar systems will be rolled out this year at a guaranteed price of $500 for households and $100 for pensioners.

Installations are scheduled to begin from July under a plan to cut household energy use by one-third. The tender was not expected to start until mid-year but the industry had expressed concerns that a decline in orders was hurting their businesses as consumers waited for the cheaper systems to become available.

"We know that when a government intervenes with a program like this it can have an affect on the industry and we want to resolve that as quickly as possible," Ms Bligh said. "What were doing by bringing the expression of interest and tender process forward, is giving industry some certainty sooner, so industry will know what slice of the pie they've got long before July."

Ms Bligh said she hoped Queensland businesses would get the lion's share of the work. "We're not looking for one single supplier ... we're looking to spread this business across the state and ensure that as many Queensland companies get a slice of this pie as possible." Industry representatives met with Energy Minister Stephen Robertson and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones on Friday to voice their concerns about the scheme and said their fears were not allayed yesterday.

Matthew Warren, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council which represents the renewable energy industry, said the plan relied on manufacturers and suppliers cutting their profit margins to close to nothing. "We certainly support the intention, but this is not the way to do it," he said.

Those interested in the program can call 1800 243 585 or visit

Obama pledges leading role in greenhouse cuts

Canberra Times
Tuesday 7/4/2009 Page: 8

President Barack Obama says the United States is ready to take the lead in tackling climate change, as European Union leaders push him to follow their ambitious targets to combat global warming. "To protect our planet, now is the time to change the way that we use energy," Mr Obama told a crowd gathered at Prague Castle yesterday.

"Together we must confront climate change by ending the world's dependency on fossil fuels by tapping the power from the sources of energy like the wind and the sun and calling upon all nations to do their part. And I pledge to you that in this global effort the US is now ready to lead."

Mr Obama's promise broke with his predecessor George W. Bush's stance, which had long frustrated European leaders. He was speaking before his first EU-US summit. The Europeans' frustration has been compounded by the fact that the US is the world's biggest polluter, leaving the impression in Europe that EU countries are doing all the heavy lifting in the fight against climate change.

But speaking after their talks, EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said he detected a genuine change under Mr Obama. The new Administration was ''much clearer and more ambitious" on climate change, he said. Mr Obama said climate change was only one of the major challenges on which he aimed to cooperate, along with the economic crisis and global conflicts.

"None of these challenges can be solved quickly or easily," he said, "but all of them demand that we listen to one another and work together ... "That is the work that we must carry on. That is the work that I have come to Europe to begin."

Europe has in particular been looking for new US leadership on fighting climate change before an international meeting in Copenhagen in December to devise a new pact for curbing greenhouse gases beyond 2012. EU nations have agreed to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020, rising to 30% if the rest of the developed world - mainly the US and Japan - agrees to do so.

The US House of Representatives recently received a draft Bill to cut emissions by 20% from their 2005 levels by 2020 and boost reliance on renewable energy. German environment minister Sigmar Gabriel said those cuts were not enough. Mr Obama arrived in Turkey yesterday for the last stop in his European tour.

Connex on track to cut carbon

Tuesday 7/4/2009 Page: 29

IN anticipation of the Government's proposed emissions trading scheme Melbourne-based rail operator Connex has installed carbon reporting software to track the environmental impact of the business. Connex switched on the Prima consulting carbon management platform last week and has started to collect data to establish a baseline figure for its carbon footprint.

Australian businesses are expected to splash out billions over the next couple of years to monitor and report their carbon usage to comply with the Government's proposed emissions trading scheme. The scheme is being debated but the Australian Industry Group claims the carbon pollution reduction scheme will add $8 billion to business costs in 2010-11. Connex environmental sustainability manager Richard Mason would not comment on how much it cost to install Prima's sustainability scorecard software.

Mr Mason was not sure of the return on investment that would be delivered by the software but said there would be cost savings extracted from reduced energy usage. "Any measurement or monitoring program has cost implications on the bottom line," Mr Mason said. "Any efficiencies you can create are always beneficial to the bottom line. Reducing your energy usage will mean you're paying less for that."

The software collects about 50 types of data relating to Connex's carbon portfolio, including electricity, water, gas fuel consumption and waste removal. It also collects more complex data relating to the operator's bio-sites. "Bio-sites are areas within our network that are of environmental significance", such as areas that need protection or weed management.

"There is a whole range of environmental indicators that can be managed through this database. 'I think that's the beauty of this system. There is a whole range of other non-utility and other environmental indicators that can go into a database like this and improve management as well," Mr Mason said.

Information and data collected from electronic or paper invoices are fed into the system, including utility bills and waste management contracts. The system has given Mr Mason confidence the company could fare well in an audit of its carbon use. "A system like this streamlines the process of environmental indicators and makes it a lot easier to track back and give you confidence in reporting information," he said.

The platform has improved Connex's recycling rate across its network of train stations. Recycling did not fall under the requirements of the emissions trading scheme, but it helped the company achieve its broader corporate sustainability goals, Mr Mason said. "We used information to say we have this much waste, this proportion isn't being recycled and if we put in recycling bins at these stations we could improve our environmental performance.

"Without that data we were unable to get down to the level of granularity we need or how many bins we need and how we can improve our recycling rates." Over the next six months Connex will collect data about environmental impact to create more meaningful goals around sustainability.

Airlines propose emissions target plan

Tuesday 7/4/2009 Page: 3

A GROUP of international airlines has issued a strong message to United Nations climate change negotiators - include us in your post-Kyoto deal. As many sectors of the economy try to talk down the impact of their operations on global warming, the aviation industry is taking the lead, proposing a "cap-and-trade" emissions scheme for all airlines to comply with.

The Aviation Global Deal Group - including British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air France/KLM, Virgin Atlantic and airport operator BAA - has handed a draft policy framework to UN climate change officials. The framework, obtained by BusinessDay, proposes a global agreement accounting for the emissions of all airlines and the establishment of a UN body to administer the cap-and-trade scheme.

Under the proposal, airlines would be required to meet a global emissions target. Revenue generated from the auctioning of carbon permits would be used for climate change adaptation and mitigation measures in developing countries and for research into greener aviation technology. A final framework is expected to be given to UN climate change negotiators in June ahead of the post-Kyoto discussions set to take place in Copenhagen in December.

Mark Kenber, policy director of The Climate Group, which has been involved in formulating the position paper, said the aviation sector should be commended for taking responsibility for its environmental impact. Emissions from aviation related activities contribute up to 2% of global emissions.


Tuesday 7 April 2009

First electric sports

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 4/4/2009 Page: 2

THE Tesla roadster is the only all-electric performance car in the world that people can walk into a showroom and buy. Because it is a left-hand-drive car, Mr Hackett - founder and owner of broadband provider Internode - is yet to begin the battle to get it registered.

The Tesla reportedly will top the 200km/h and has a range, with a mix of suburban and country driving, of about 380km. Mr Hackett, who has a maths-science degree, says electric, plug-in vehicles are the future, especially if solar or wind energy can be harnessed to charge the batteries.

Yudhoyono backs down on nuclear power plans

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 6/4/2009 Page: 9

INDONESIA'S President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, yesterday backed away from longstanding and highly controversial plans to build a nuclear reactor in one of the world's most seismically active countries, saying it would instead develop existing energy sources and explore renewable alternatives before pursuing the nuclear option.

Dr Yudhoyono made the comments in response to a question at a carefully stage-managed "town hall meeting" with voters in Central Java, where the proposed nuclear energy plant was to be built. The event - at which Dr Yudhoyono roamed the floor answering vetted questions from members of the audience - marked the last day of open campaigning before 171 million eligible Indonesians vote for almost 12,000 candidates for the national parliament on Thursday.

In 10 years to come, or 20 years or 30 years to come, Indonesia must really develop its existing resources and these should be environmentally friendly," he said, adding that water and wind energy options would also be explored. If there are still other alternatives, we will not take nuclear resources." Analysts such as Professor Richard Tanter, from RMIT University in Melbourne, had been expecting that Indonesia could move swiftly to approve as many as four nuclear energy plants on the Muria peninsula in the north of Central Java province once the country's election season had finished this year.

While Dr Yudhoyono - who is strongly favoured to win a second term as president on the most recent polling - did not entirely rule out building a nuclear plant to meet Indonesia's chronic electricity shortfall, he made it clear yesterday that it would not be happening any time in the forseeable future. Residents in Java-the world's most populous island, home to numerous volcanos and prone to earthquakes - have vehemently resisted the idea. Officials from Dr Yudhoyono's Partai Demokrat confirmed yesterday that all the questions at the town hall meeting had been planned.

Free as a breeze

Monday 6/4/2009 Page: 24

A SUDDEN fall in the level of international investment in windfarms has dramatically reversed the rising costs and supply chain delays that were affecting the industry, and placed cashed-up renewable energy developers in a strong negotiating position with suppliers now facing cancelled orders and distressed sales.

This was illustrated this week when AGL pressed the green button on the 132MW Hallett 4 windfarm in South Australia, with an estimated cost of about $340 million. At about $2.57 million/MW, this comes in nearly 10% cheaper than the Hallett 2 windfarm, which was approved just over a year ago.

AGL likes to sell the windfarms after completion, and analysts at Citi this week estimated AGL could probably make an $80 million development profit on the project, even with the higher cost of capital in the current environment.

AGL has also negotiated similar pricing for the wind turbines from Suzlon Energy for both the 80MW Hallett 3 and 63MW Oaklands project in Victoria, and could obtain a further volume discount if it commits to both windfarms. AGL has another 10 possible windfarm projects totalling some 1800MW under consideration.

Atlantis to tap tidal energy with WA plant

Monday 6/4/2009 Page: 24

MARINE energy company Atlantis Resources Corp hopes to achieve a world first later this year with the installation of a 1MW tidal energy plant to help power an iron ore project in Western Australia. Atlantis Resources, an Australian-founded company now based in Singapore, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Mt Gibson Iron to install a 16.5m turbine the world's biggest single rotor marine turbine to supply power to its operations at Koolan Island.

Atlantis Resources already has a smaller turbine installed at Phillip Island near Melbourne which has been feeding electricity into the grid for the past nine months. Chief executive Tim Cornelius says the Koolan Islandand facility will be the first time tidal power has been used to directly power an industrial facility.

Atlantis Resources last week completed a new round of funding $U514 million ($19.6 million) which brought in Norwegian utility Statkraft as a new investor. It joins Morgan Stanley (49% ) and its founding shareholders. Atlantis Resources was founded in Australia, but moved to Singapore in 2006 for reasons that included greater access to funding and better protection for its intellectual property.

Cornelius says Atlantis Resources hopes to have up to 800MW of installed capacity within five years, an ambitious goal that will make it by far the largest marine energy company in the world. It has signed an MOU with China Light and Power for up to 500MW of capacity, and has signed a deal for up to 150MW of capacity to help power a data centre in the north of Scotland. "We've got credibility and we've got a huge appetite," Cornelius says. "And now we have confluence of supporting mechanisms that is driving interest."

tidal power is not strictly base-load, but it is highly predictable, and therefore can be scheduled in lots of 25 minutes, 30 years in advance which makes it attractive to utilities. Cornelius will not reveal costings, but says tidal is more cost-competitive than offshore wind, but needs the support of a feed-in tariff, or some similar mechanism, to attract interest for the grid.

However, like solar thermal, tidal power is also attractive to remote, off-grid mining and industrial locations where the only alternative is expensive and heavy-emitting diesel generators. Cornelius says Western Australia has one of the best tidal resources in the world, with potential for up to 1000MW of capacity, and parts of Queensland, including areas around Gladstone, are also highly prospective.

Paper fit to print - Tassie maker achieves carbon-neutral first

Sunday Tasmanian
Sunday 5/4/2009 Page: 17

TASMANIA'S passion for pulp and paper making has resulted in Australia's first carbon neutral paper. Envi, a range of office and commercial papers, was recently launched by Australian Paper after a two-year project to track the paper making carbon footprint. Australian Paper general manager Jon Ryder said the idea had come from mill technical staff at the Wesley Vale and Burnie mills who wanted to demonstrate paper making was not bad.

"Tasmanians are very passionate about the production of pulp and paper and they wanted to improve our profile and reduce our industry's impact on global warming," Dr Ryder said. Since the $4 million project began, Australian Paper has reduced carbon emissions by more than 17,000 tonnes a year through initiatives such as replacing coal and oil boilers with gas technology, downsizing the vehicle fleet and rationalising computer services.

Dr Ryder said the first, and largest, step in the project had been calculating the carbon footprint of each step in the paper making process - from felling trees to distribution and disposal in landfill. Dr Ryder said the production of a ream of paper used to result in one kilogram of carbon, but Envi paper was completely carbon-neutral.

"We do have to buy some carbon offsets through greenhouse-friendly certified abatement schemes to achieve that, but we have also physically reduced our footprint though production changes." Dr Ryder said Envi, which at the moment is produced only at Australian Paper's two Tasmanian mills had been certified as greenhouse friendly by the Australian Government. Envi paper costs 5-7% more than standard paper.

ACT solar farm sparks interest - Industry in talks over $30m subsidised plant plan

Sunday Canberra Times
Sunday 5/4/2009 Page: 7

THE ACT Government will call for expressions of interest next month on a solar farm capable of providing energy for 10,000 households. The plant which will have a capacity of at least 22MW will receive an ACT Government subside of $30 million. The plant would be one of the largest renewable energy plants in Australia. Consultations with industry have already taken place on the proposed plant.

Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury said he was told there was a high level of interest in the consultations. It attracted significant attention from industry in and outside the ACT," he said. The establishment of a renewable energy plant and the $30 million subsidy were part of the ALP platform at the last election and was a key feature of the agreement with the Greens that allowed the ALP to continue in power. "It is now up to the Government to come up with terms that will attract industry to invest," Mr Rattenbury said.

He said many of the industry concerns related to questions such as the availability of land and planning issues. The decision to establish a solar farm was taken because other renewable energy sources such as wind energy and water were not practical in the ACT, Mr Rattenbury said. Energy Minister Simon Corbell confirmed the Government was proceeding with the project.

"The ACT Government will soon be calling for expressions of interest for an ACT solar farm following a recent successful industry consultation session. The Government has already pledged $30 million for the project, but how that will be spent has not yet been decided," he said. "This project will further the ACT's goal to become the solar capital of Australia," the minister said.

If the plant provides power for 10,000 homes then this will be 8% of homes in the ACT. Mr Rattenbury said so far the agreement with the ALP seemed to be working well with the five Green MLAs working with various ministers on its implementation. The agreement included specific recommendations on a range of subjects such as lifting the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources to 15% by 2012 and 25% by 2020.

Mr Rattenbury said the Greens were also seeking the development of an energy plan for the territory so proposals such as the ACTE'V AGL plan for a new gas generation plant could be discussed in the context of the need for energy security, costs and the need to reduce greenhouse gases. On the issue of transport the Greens are encouraging the Government to ensure a 30-minute bus frequency is maintained during shoulder periods (either side of peak times) to encourage those travelling to and from work to use buses. The agreement also includes policies in areas such as housing, education and waste.

The science in everything

Weekend Australian
Saturday 4/4/2009 Page: 7

To South Australia's chief scientist Ian Chessell, adversity is the proven driver of cutting-edge science. Whether in war or in drought, Chessell says, scientists are the ones who often come up with the breakthroughs, along the lines of necessity being the mother of invention. "Most science developments have been done in wartime where a situation demands them," he says. "Can we produce innovative answers if you've got the innovative infrastructure in place? That's the question governments have to face all the time, because they invest in that infrastructure."

Broadly speaking, the chief scientist's role is to provide independent advice to the South Australian Government on matters of science, research, technology and innovation. Chessell also co-chairs the Premier's Science and Research Council. After completing a PhD in physics at the University of Melbourne in 1970, he soon joined the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, retiring as Australia's chief defence scientist in 2003.

Appointed as SA's chief scientist in March 2008, he found himself in a state beset by different challenges: a prolonged drought and critical water shortages. "Water is the key to South Australia's future, in my opinion," he says. "It underpins the future of mining, of agriculture and obviously the critical human needs of the people of Adelaide and other communities in the region."

The water debate in South Australia is politically sensitive, from the condition of the Murray River to the construction of a $1.8 billion desalination plant in Adelaide. Charged with producing intelligent answers, Chessell sees a need to create a single source of accurate, unbiased, up-to-date knowledge on the water situation.

In a report shortly to go to the state Government, he proposes an institute for water research, a central database drawing on the research of the three South Australian universities, the CSIRO and the Government's principal research body, the South Australia Research and Development Institute. "We are looking at providing an environment where decision-makers, whether they be ministers or officials or industries, come in and actually see the data, explore the data and question the data," Chessell says. °i It will help to underpin the science basis of the decision making.

"It will help, I believe, in taking the left-field stuff that goes on all the time: you know, my grandmother knows a scientist who said such and such, that we could capture all the stormwater in Adelaide and live off it. Those sort of issues. It will at least provide a basis for examining those proposals and bringing in people to look at them.

It could have a community engagement role as well, where groups could come in, the Conservation Council or any other group that is proposing initiatives, and have them examined in the broader context of real data." According to Chessell, South Australia should be at the forefront in coming up with innovative solutions for climate change issues, from securing water supplies to reducing carbon emissions. In particular, he says, the state was ideally placed to become a "powerhouse for renewable energy".

"We've got the best resources in geothermal in the world. "We've got almost the best in solar. We've got great wind energy; and near world's best in terms of tidal energy, wave energy." He is also excited at the prospect of producing biodiesel fuel from micro-algae to totally replace petroleum-based products in our cars". The CSIRO, Flinders University and SARDI are involved in a test plant on Torrens Island, on the Port River, using different forms of micro-algae to tailor-make specific oil products.

The project is bidding for a round of federal funding to scale up the process. Another Chessell ambition is to increase the uptake of science at primary schools. He says educational research shows the key to producing future scientists is to enthuse children at the earliest possible age. "What we find is that kids, as they make up their minds about their own identity, they also form an impression or an understanding of what a scientist is," he says. "If there is not a match between the two by the time they are 11 to 14, then no matter what happens after that, the research suggests, they won't be scientists.

"They may have an interest in science but they perceive themselves as having a career somewhere else. But in primary school, kids love science if we can just give it to them in the right way. "It's exciting, it's interesting, it's connected to the world in the playground, the rivers, science is somewhere other than television all the time. We've got to help them recognise that science basically includes everything."

Suzuki boss plugs first car buyers' scheme

Northern Territory News
Saturday 4/4/2009 Page: 2

Suzuki Australia boss Tony Devers wants to kick start car sales with a first car buyers' scheme similar to the first homeowners' scheme. Devers said this week the scheme could to be tailored to "green" car purchases as part of an incentive package for more efficient cars.

"We've al I seen the benefits to the building industry as a result of the first homeowners' scheme, which contributes up to $21,000 to first home buyers," he said. "If the Federal Government was serious about making environmentally efficient cars more appealing, why don't they consider a similar scheme for first car owners?" Devers said the level of incentive would have to be worked out but $5000 would be manageable.

Vehicle sales this year are down 20% as buyers desert showrooms and all brands are feeling the heat. Devers wants to link a first buyers' scheme to cars that deliver low greenhouse emissions and economy under 6 litres/100km. "By linking a first buyers' scheme to cars that meet 130 g/km of CO2, it has enormous potential to not only lower our greenhouse gas emissions, but also help save the lives of hundreds of young Australians.

"Last year, drivers aged between 18 and 25 made up almost 30% of all fatal crashes, despite representing only 14% of all drivers," he said. "One of the acknowledged factors in many of these crashes is the fact young people traditionally drive older vehicles. most of them lacking advanced safety features such as side curtain airbags or electronic stability control. "Making fuel-efficient cars with high safety levels more financially attractive with a bonus - like the home owners' scheme - addresses two major issues."

Devers said he had not shopped the first-car concept with the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries but was seeking to put it out to the public. He admitted that Suzuki has a vested interest in low-emission cars because it will soon start selling its 1.0-litre Alto. The three-cylinder Alto emits just 113 g/km of CO2.

"But the issue of green cars and incentives is wider than just our interest," he said. "Every carmaker has similar cars in other markets with similar low emissions but there is little incentive to bring them here. "Customers shopping at this end of the market should not be rewarded for thinking with their conscience, as well as their wallet."

Report finds solar power policy flawed - Plan will not boost panel uptake

Saturday 4/4/2009 Page: 9

THE State Government has undermined its own solar energy policy, releasing expert advice that finds its proposed laws will do little to encourage households to install rooftop panels. An analysis by consultants McLennan Magasanik Associates found the Government's plan to pay a premium subsidy for home-generated electricity fed into the power grid would fail as an incentive, barely cutting greenhouse emissions over the next 15 years.

The report - simultaneously tabled in Parliament and released to The Age under Freedom of Information laws this week - says only a more generous subsidy scheme would significantly boost the solar industry. It also contradicts claims by Energy Minister Peter Batchelor that a more generous scheme would dramatically boost Victorians' electricity bills. The consultants found the Government's proposal, a net tariff that pays 60 cents per kW hour, would lead to about 3000 households installing solar panels in the next five years.

Conversely, a gross tariff that pays a premium for all energy generated at home - a model that led to the rapid expansion of the German solar industry, but was rejected by cabinet after heated debate - would prompt 60,000 households to sign on. Mr Batchelor has argued against a gross tariff on the grounds it would hurt the poor, citing advice from his office that some models would increase household power costs by $100 a year.

McLennan Magasanik Associates found otherwise: that a 60 cent gross tariff would add less than $8 to annual household bills. Their analysis from November last year mirrors a confidential memo from the Department of Sustainability and Environment to cabinet leaked to The Age in January. The memo said only a gross tariff would provide the momentum required to create a thriving solar industry.

Opposition environment spokesman David Davis said the consultants' analysis showed "Peter Batchelor's push for a net feed-in tariff would achieve next to nothing". "You can only conclude that Peter Batchelor has cooked up figures, which are not supported by analyses undertaken by his own department," he said. He said the Opposition would scrutinise the legislation in committee once it reached the upper house next month.

Mr Batchelor said the Government's policy aimed to give a return for those who installed solar panels while containing the costs for electricity customers. He pointed to other expert advice released by the Government that said a gross tariff was an expensive and inefficient way to cut greenhouse emissions. "We reviewed the economic, environment and social costs and benefits of a range of feed-in tariff models to create a scheme that was green and fair, but not greedy," he said.

Environment Victoria campaigns director Mark Wakeham said the report questioned the Government's will to act on climate change. "I can only assume that it comes down to solar and other renewable technologies becoming threats to the established operators such as the coal industry," he said. "The cost argument has been dismissed, and is no barrier." He said it gave the Opposition the chance to show some leadership on climate change. "They have all of the documentation they need now to dismiss the cost argument against a gross feed-in tariff," he said.

Monday 6 April 2009

Oozing Power

Sydney Morning Herald
Friday 3/4/2009 Page: 18

As fuel prices have continued to spike during the past year, the hunt for renewable energy sources has intensified. In the drive to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, the race to create a commercially viable biofuel continues. At the cutting edge of this research is a fuel derived from algae. Karne de Boer, who recently completed a PhD on biofuels at Murdoch University says algal biodiesel has received intense international interest.

"The reason why everyone is excited about algae is because you don't need good land for it," he says. "You can grow it in the desert or wherever there is salt water. That is why everyone in the world is trying to crack algae." biodiesels, which can be used as a direct replacement for normal diesel, can be made from any feed stocks that oil can be extracted from. "From beef feed and canola oil to tap grease in Chinese restaurants or coffee beans," he says.

Much biodiesel research has centred on feed stocks such as canola, palm and soya bean oils, but these crops need vast tracts of fertile land that compete with food sources. Monash University biology professor John Beardall has been involved in the science of alternative fuels and biodiesels for years.

"The Brazilians have been producing vast amounts of fuel from sugar cane and have been running a lot of cars on that for 20 years or so and they've been doing that quite successfully," he says. "I think with recent events and rising oil prices and so on people have got very much more interested in alternative fuel sources. "The real problem with these other biofuels ... is that if they are based on terrestrial plants - plants that grow on land - they are going to compete with crop plants.

We have to grow food for ourselves, we have to grow wheat, we have to grow rice - all of those types of crops - so we can't afford to use that valuable land to grow biofuels because ... you are going to restrict your capacity to produce enough food to keep the human race going. That is what has led a number of people to the potential for algae for biofuels.

"Algae can grow more or less anywhere there is enough light and enough water. You can grow them in anything from fresh water to sea water and even recycled sewage water," Beardall says. "There is a lot of hype floating around about algal biofuels. There was a flurry over the last five to 10 years of companies that set themselves up as venture capitalists.

People got really excited and put a lot of money in but they didn't really do it properly." Beardall says more research is needed to get systematic and consistent yields from the multiplication of al-al cells. "It probably needs another 10 years or so of good hard research where you've got to the stage where we've got a reliable and significant algal biodiesel industry," he says.

Beardall is overseeing the research of honours student Marcus O'Mullane at Monash University in a year-long project to test various algal species for their potential for biodiesel production. "I've collected water samples from five or six locations and from those samples I've isolated several algal species. All of these species are related to common seaweeds but in microscopic forms," O'Mullane says.

"I'm testing these species for their attributes for their suitability for large-scale oil production. I'm looking for things that grow quickly and produce oil." A significant environmental advantage of algal biodiesel is that algae consumes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis, so it not only reduces carbon dioxide by displacing the use of fossil fuel carbon, it also reduces carbon in the atmosphere, O'Mullane says. He is investigating two prototypes for how the algae might be reproduced on a large scale.

One cost-effective model involves propagating the algae in long, narrow open ponds up to 20 centimetres deep that have water flowing through them. The more expensive, but also more efficient, option is a photobioreactor, an enclosed and controllable environment, he says. But both models have promising potential for algae as the feed-stock source to produce algal biodiesel.

'Algae only needs about 2% to 3% of the ]and required by terrestrial-based crops to produce an equivalent amount of oil. People are really looking at it and excited about trying to make it work in Australia," O'Mullane says. Much of the infertile land in the Australian deserts could be used for algal biodiesel production. Researchers are racing to find a model that can be commercialised. "It's going to be very, very lucrative for whoever works this out," he says.

Biomax Fuels is one Australian comp any working with a Federal Government renewable development initiative grant with a view to the commercialisation of algal biodiesel. Ian Ohnstead is a project engineer with Biomax Fuels, working in the laboratory and out in the field to fine-tune production processes.

"We are working quite hard towards that. In terms of our current thinking we believe it's probably two to five years away," he says. "There are a lot of companies around the world now working on it." Biomax Fuels has established a prototype algal biodiesel plant at International Power in Hazelwood, in Victoria's Latrobe Valley. "Australia is quite well placed, particularly because of our geographical location but also that relates to available land mass and sunlight and meteorological conditions that are good for algae growth," he says.

Tide turns for renewable power

Herald Sun
Friday 3/4/2009 Page: 69

A STATE-owned Norwegian company this week poured $US14 million into Australian tidal power company Atlantis Resources Corporation. Statkraft, one of the world's largest renewable energy groups, has also signed upwith Atlantis Resources to develop tidal current electricity projects in Europe. The deal comes just days ahead of the release of an independent report by Black & Veitch on Atlantis Resources's deep-water Solon AG turbine, which was tested in Tasmania's Tamar River and will be installed northwest of Phillip Island.

Chief executive Tim Cornelius said early results suggested it was "potentially the most efficient tidal turbine of scale ever built". Another of the company's turbines, the shallow-water Nereus, has been connected to the electricity grid to the east of Phillip Island for nearly a year. Statkraft joins investment bank Morgan Stanley, which owns 49% of Atlantis Resources, in a growing group of enterprises recognising tidal power as the most reliable form of renewable energy, because of the predictability of its flows.

In December, Asian power giant CLP Group signed on in the biggest ever tidal energy deal, boosting Atlantis Resources's project pipeline to 800 MWs. "Over the next 12 months, once the markets improve, we may consider a liquidity event," said Mr Cornelius, a marine biologist and deep sea engineer. Originally from Albert Park, Mr Cornelius was headhunted by the inventors of the tidal technology, Greg Beaver and Nick Perry, to globalise the Australian start-up.

"We found no support, no funding in Australia so in 2006 we moved our IP operations to Singapore, where there were better tax incentives," said Mr Cornelius, who was in Melbourne yesterday for the Australasian Cleantech Forum. Atlantis Resources has been chosen to power a planned data centre in Scotland with a 150MW-tidal energy farm.

Creative and clean New centre way of future

Daily Telegraph
Thursday 2/4/2009 Page: 18

THE clean energy sector will be bolstered and expanded with an innovative centre created to boost productivity and tap into the sector's greater potential. The national Enterprise Connect Clean Energy Innovation Centre opened yesterday, flagging the beginning of a multi-million-dollar project aimed at supporting associated businesses and helping them to be more productive and dynamic.

The $20 million centre, located at the University of Newcastle's Callaghan campus, will offer a range of hands-on services for small and medium-sized businesses in the sector, including supporting grants to help boost productivity. The centre will capture businesses involved in the generation of energy from renewable and low-carbon sources such as solar, wind, wave, tidal, low-emission coal and biofuels, as well as cogeneration.

Federal Industry and Innovation Minister Kim Carr said the centre will operate by having expert business advisers talking to firms and delivering practical ways to improve their day-to-day processes. "Clean energy is an industry sector with enormous potential for growth," Senator Carr said. "By investing in this centre, we are investing in the future." Newcastle Innovation CEO Brent Jenkins said the centre would be critical to the commercialisation of clean energy technology both in the Hunter region and nationally.

He said University of Newcastle is a leader in clean energy research and the centre will leverage its expertise with other bodies across Australia. "It will provide access to specialist facilities and advice at the university to turn innovative ideas into new products, test products for new markets, help firms become export-ready and provide grants to address areas of weakness," Dr Jenkins said.

Federal Newcastle MP Sharon Grierson said the centre will build on the city's reputation as a great place to do business. "We know the future lies in innovation ... being selected as host city for this important centre positions Newcastle to lead the way in clean energy and provide jobs for the future." Ms Grierson said.

US to go further than Rudd over emissions Australia urged to set tougher targets

Thursday 2/4/2009 Page: 3

PROPOSED US climate change laws aim for much deeper cuts in greenhouse emissions than promised by the Rudd Government, reigniting calls for Australia to adopt tougher targets. Draft legislation released by the powerful US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee proposes a cap-and-trade scheme leading to cuts equivalent to 30% below 2005 levels by 2020.

The Australian Government proposes cuts of between 5 and 15% below 2000 levels, depending on the level of international co-operation to tackle climate change. While the proposed schemes differ in key ways, emissions trading experts said the US plan translated to a cut of up to 31% below 2000 levels. Andrew Macintosh, associate director of the Australian National University's Centre for Climate Law and Policy, said the US proposal was much more ambitious.

He said it would not be enough to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to 450 parts per million - the maximum level recommended by climate scientists - but was "about as much as you could expect the US to go for". "It is certainly well beyond what the Rudd Government is talking about," he said. "It is the sort of thing developed countries have to be talking about if they want to have a decent chance to avoid dangerous climate change."

Climate Institute Australia chief executive John Connor said the US bill was more likely to give momentum to negotiations towards a new global climate agreement, due to be signed in Denmark in December. "This is a smarter, stronger and more helpful package than the (Australian) Government currently has," he said.

The US proposal, put forward by Democrat Congressman Henry Waxman, would cut emissions to 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83% by mid-century. But unlike the Australian proposal, its headline target does not include credits for preventing logging in poor countries. This is listed separately - as a 10 per cent cut below its 2005 emissions. Also unlike Australia, the US would pay for these deforestation credits, with some of the revenue reaped from auctioning carbon permits to its polluting industries. The Rudd Government has promised to return all revenue to households and business.

The US bill gives the US President the power to impose carbon tariffs on goods imported from countries that do not take steps to tackle climate change. The draft clean energy and security bill is broadly consistent with US President Barack Obama's emissions targets. Climate scientists warn that rich countries must cut emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 to avert the worst impacts of climate change. Few countries have made commitments within this range.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, who is travelling in Washington, said: "The debate has a long way to go, but we welcome the release of this draft as a sign that Congress is treating it seriously and urgently." New parliamentary secretary for climate change Greg Combet said he was unable to offer additional compensation to industry. He said he would work to best distribute existing compensation measures.

Discounts for green shoppers

Herald Sun
Friday 3/4/2009 Page: 29

SAVING a couple of hundred dollars on a new fridge or washing machine just got easier for cash strapped battlers. A new State Government scheme can save Victorians hundreds of dollars off the price of electrical appliances if they go green.

The new Energy Saver Incentive offers discounts to anyone buying new energy-efficient fridges, heating and hot water systems from participating businesses. Anyone draught proofing a home, upgrading to gas or solar hot water systems or installing energy-efficient light globes also will qualify for a discount.

Businesses who use the scheme receive certificates for every ton of greenhouse gas they help householders save when they switch to less power hungry, more environmentally friendly products and appliances. The certificates are then sold to energy sup suppliers, who can use them to meet mandatory targets set by Government. Information about the scheme is available at

Consumers can also save a wad of cash if they know which appliances use less electricity or water. "More Victorians than ever search on the internet to find the best deal in town, but very few know where to look for energy and water ratings," said Sustainability Victoria spokeswoman Sara Philips.

The information is usually buried in manufacturers' brochures and written in jargon only a scientist understands. Shoppers know appliances that use less water and consume less power can make a big difference to the family's expenses. "While quality greener appliances can be a tad more expensive than cheap power-guzzling models, they end up being cheaper in the long run," Ms Philips said.

What shoppers often don't know is where to find this kind of moneysaving information. One resource is the 300 retailers around Victoria specially trained to explain energy-efficient appliances. Consumers can find out where they are by logging on to and selecting "shop smart" from the home page and keying in their postcode.

A third resource is an independent site,, which has charts showing the energy and water ratings of many appliances. But high energy efficiency and water ratings are not the final word on the reliability and quality of an appliance. "The ratings cannot be used as a guide to the product's level of after sales service or availability of spare parts," said Richard Falzon, head engineer at TCL Electronics.

Miners to cut more jobs as prices fall

Friday 3/4/2009 Page: 7

JOB losses are mounting in Australia's mining industry with 12,500 jobs lost in the past three months, marking a stark reversal from the middle of last year. Then employers expected to employ an extra 86,000 workers but now, due to the dramatic fall in commodity prices and the economic slowdown, mining employers are laying off staff in increasing numbers.

The reversal of fortune - contained in a Australian Mines and Metals Association's survey - also shows that more than 55% of the 134 miners and industry contractors surveyed expect to lay off staff this year. Chief executive Steve Knott said the AMMA had recently conducted a series of meetings and the message from the industry was getting worse. "What is even more worrying is that it has become clear the position in the survey is understated and the job situation is far worse than that currently being reported," he said.

Mr Knott said the loss of so many well-paying jobs, average salaries for the mining jobs are in excess of $100,000 a year, would have a dramatic effect on families and communities. Besides the high-profile job losses announced at BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto there has been a string of job cuts at smaller mining companies announced in recent months.

Mr Knott said the Federal Government should take the cost pressure off business through cutting taxes, red tape and deferring an emissions trading scheme. There should also be fast tracking of infrastructure projects, he said. He said it was not enough for government simply to "allude" to global forces for the deterioration in the economy.

Sunday 5 April 2009

Greenhouse gas conversion plant proposal - Plan to make NT a global warming hub

Northern Territory News
Wednesday 1/4/2009 Page: 19

A BILLION-DOLLAR operation to handle the most common greenhouse gas could be established in Darwin. The project would require at least one storage and conversion plant to compress carbon dioxide and a pipeline to carry the liquid out to sea for burial. Peter Cook, head of the federally-funded Co-operative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technology, said the conversion plant would have to be a "reasonable size". The initiative would put the Territory at the forefront of the battle against global warming.

There are few industrial producers of CO2 in the Territory. One of them is the ConocoPhillips LNG plant at Wickham Point. Inpex plans to build a second gas plant on nearby Blaydin Point. And the resources investment arm of the Japanese government is investigating a long-term proposal to build a gas-to-fuel operation in Darwin or near Alice Springs. An Australian company also foresees the possibility of building a $5 billion gas-to-fuel complex in Central Australia.

LNG is a much cleaner source of energy than coal but it still produces carbon dioxide in production and as a by-product. The Federal Government announced on Sunday that several zones off the Australian coast had been earmarked for carbon capture - burying liquid CO2 below the seabed. One of those zones, known as Petrel, is close to the NT's eastern coast.

Dr Cook said he did not know if ConocoPhillips and Inpex would "share" a conversion plant or install their own giant compressors next to each LNG complex. But he said a shared pipeline would make sense. "Those kind of economies of scale would lower costs," he said. Dr Cook said a conversion plant and pipeline would cost $1 billion. The gas off the north Australian coast is high in carbon dioxide but much of the seabed has the right geological formation for storing the gas as a liquid. Much of the liquid breaks down after reacting with subsea rock and the rest becomes more and more stable as time goes on.

More jobs? Answer's blowing in the wind

Adelaide Advertiser
Wednesday 1/4/2009 Page: 14

More than 100 jobs will be created when construction begins this year on a new $340 million windfarm north of Adelaide. Yesterday, AGL Energy Ltd announced it would develop the Hallett 4 windfarm at North Brown Hill, 220km north of Adelaide near Jamestown. The deal will be a boost to the midnorth region with spin-off spending expected to flow to restaurants, hotels and suppliers.

The North Brown Hill farm will be the third project developed by AGL Energy Ltd in the Hallett Ranges. It is located immediately to the north of AGL's Hallett 1 farm. AGL Energy managing director Michael Fraser said the company was also likely to commit to developing two more farms in the region. "The Hallett Range is world class as a wind resource area," he said. "After Hallett 4, we have got the Hallett 3 Mount Bryan project and then hopefully Hallett 5 - if we commit to those then that is another three to four years of construction in the region."

Mr Fraser said he hoped construction at the site would begin within four months. He said 120 jobs would be created during the construction phase and a further 10 permanent roles created for the farm's ongoing operations. "There is a huge flow-on effect to the local community - by the time we have finished in the Hallett region we will have invested over $1 billion in the community. That is a huge investment." Mr Fraser said $140 million would be spent on the project before the end of June this year, with the remaining $201 million spent over the next two years.

AGL signed the agreement with Dutch company Suzlon, which manufactures the wind turbines in India. The four approved windfarms in the Hallett region have a total of 153 turbines and a cost of $700 million. Hallett 4 will consist of 63 turbines and produce 132 MWs of power. When complete, the combined power output of the three farms will be 1300 MWs.

Green deal for energy customers

Canberra Times
Wednesday 1/4/2009 Page: 4

Canberrans connecting their electricity from today will be offered GreenPower first. ACT Energy Minister Simon Corbell announced yesterday electricity suppliers in the territory would have to first offer GreenPower renewable energy to all new or reconnecting customers. GreenPower is a national accreditation scheme which allows power companies to offer electricity from renewable resources such as waste and wind.

Most energy companies offer GreenPower electricity, which can cost an extra $10-$30 a month, and has been taken tip by about 8% of households in the ACT. Mr Corbell hoped the change would remind and encourage Canberrans to go green. "It can be quite an affordable choice for households," Mr Corbell said.

"I know that many Canberrans want to make a difference, and many Canberrans want to get involved in GreenPower, and we want to make sure that they have all the information available to theta, and that they're reminded of the choices that they can make. "At the end of the day it's up to consumers to decide, we're not forcing this upon them."

Firms told to prepare now for carbon trading scheme

Canberra Times
Wednesday 1/4/2009 Page: 4

Businesses have been told they are "dreaming" if they are hoping for a delay to Australia's emissions trading scheme because of the economic crisis or political wrangling. Australian Climate Exchange managing director Tim Hanlin said with a year to go before the first permits were due to be issued, businesses needed to prepare for the Federal Government's carbon pollution reduction scheme.

"I think anyone who is betting on a delay to the scheme is probably dreaming," Mr Hanlin said at the Carbon Reduction and Trading Conference in Melbourne yesterday. Australian Climate Exchange, or ACX, is a company that will provide a trading platform for emissions commodities, and Mr Hanlin has been lobbying politicians about the final make-up of the scheme.

The strong secondary market for trading emission permits the Government aims to create will result in winners and losers, and chief financial officers would be keeping this high on the agenda even in the current crisis. "A year ago I was saying this issue should be sitting with your CFO ... I don't say that any more because I take that as read," he said. "There has never been a perfect market created yet, for any commodity. "My view is here is an opportunity to set tip another competitive advantage. Even if it's going to cost you, if it costs less than your opposition then you are ahead." Climate Change Department assistant secretary Anthea Harris described the carbon scheme as the largest shake-up of the economy since deregulation in the 1980s.

Ms Harris said large emitters were already involved in preliminary reporting. While the scheme had been in the works for a decade, some emitters had shown a lack of willingness to invest in carbon reduction until the legislation was finalised. "A continuing lingering period of uncertainty is good for no one," she said. "This will have a significant impact. Having a price where there wasn't a price before will mean people will change their decisions ... " Jennifer Patterson, formerly ANZ's electricity, renewables and emissions director, said climate change had been pushed from the top of the business during the financial crisis. "Businesses are in survival mode and not thinking so mach about strategy," she said.

The National Australia Bank's head of carbon solutions, Sean Lucy, said companies he had dealt with had turned their attention from trying to influence policy to coping with the new reality. Submissions on the draft legislation, due to go before Parliament in the winter sitting, close on April 14.

AGL lifts wind gear

Wednesday 1/4/2009 Page: 20

AGL Energy, Australia's biggest electricity and gas retailer, has agreed to buy 63 turbines from India's Suzlon Energy for a $341 million wind-power project in South Australia. AGL also has an engineering and construction agreement with Suzlon's Australian unit for the 132-MW Hallett 4 project, the Sydney-based company told the Australian Securities Exchange yesterday.

Suzlon EnergyAustralia also has options to build two other projects for AGL, which may get a discount on the orders. Australia has a target to boost power generated from renewable energy to 45,000 gigawatthours in 2020, from the existing 9500 GWh target in 2010, to help reduce greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. AGL said last month it expected to approve about $1.1 billion in wind - and gas-fired generation projects this year for construction to tap rising demand for cleaner fuel.

About $140 million of the cost for developing Hallett 4 would be incurred by June 30, AGL said in the statement. The company may decide to sell the project, while retaining ownership of the electricity output and renewable energy credits generated by the venture, it said. "A final decision on longterm ownership structure is anticipated during calendar year 2009," AGL said. One MW can power about 1000 Australian homes. AGL shares closed yesterday at 14.960c, up 7c.

Combet in dispute with coal industry

Wednesday 1/4/2009 Page: 4

Greg Combet appears to be on a collision course with the coalmining industry, which the new Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change has been specifically charged with winning over to the Government's proposed emissions trading scheme. The coal-seat MP and former coalmining engineer confirmed in an interview with The Australian he would have "principal responsibility for consultations with the coal industry", which is incensed at its exclusion from the Government's plan to offer free permits to compensate trade-exposed companies.

Mr Combet said his discussions with the coal industry would be about allocating the five-year $750 million "transitional" fund offered to coalminers by the Government, not about the industry's demand that it should get 60% of its permits for free a demand that would boost the industry's five-year compensation to about $2.5 billion. "It is not the Government's position or intention to treat coal as an emissions-intensive, trade exposed industry because of particular characteristics of that industry," Mr Combet said.

He cited the fact that the amount of gas produced during coalmining varied greatly from mine to mine and even within the same mine, making an industry-wide compensation formula difficult. Mr Combet conceded that mines with geological characteristics that happened to make them gassy were particularly vulnerable to additional costs at a time when the coal price was falling. "I will be talking to those mines in particular about how we can use the already announced package to assist them," he said.

According to the Australian Coal Association, the $750 million package is unfair and inadequate and qualification for 60% free permits is "non-negotiable". "The coal industry believes it has been unfairly excluded from the emissions-intensive compensation even though it clearly qualifies under the Government's formula, and we are in talks with the Government and the Opposition and the other senators to make sure that we are included in that compensation scheme in any legislation that passes the Senate," ACA executive director Ralph Hillman said.

Opposition emissions trading spokesman Andrew Robb said coal should be treated "like any other trade-exposed industry". Mr Combet warned the business community that sinking the ETS in the Senate, where the Coalition, the Greens and the independents have all expressed grave reservations, could be worse for it than the costs the scheme could impose. In a speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia today, Business Council of Australia president Greg Gailey, calls for political bipartisanship on climate change.

Power-up for clean technology

Wednesday 1/4/2009 Page: 12

Australia is switched on but no longer leading the way, argues John Dyson.

AMID the gathering clouds of the global economic storm, clean technology innovation can offer Australia a ray of hope. Clean technology is more than energy solutions for a polluted planet. It is promoting innovation in all industry sectors, from water preservation and quality to housing, food supply and security.

Australia was behind the first wave of clean energy innovations now powering the world. Twenty years ago, solar photovoltaic cell technology left for Spain. Shortly after, evacuated tube technology went to China. Then evacuated glazing technology went to Japan. In 2001, Dr Shi and his solar cells developed at the University of New South Wales went to China - and his company SunTech is now the world's biggest producer of solar panels. In 2002, crystalline glass technology went to Germany. In 2007, the solar thermal compact linear Fresnel reflector from the University of New South Wales went to the US.

If we can develop the next wave of clean technology industries, we will be rewarded with hundreds of thousands of green infrastructure and manufacturing jobs, export industries, and investment and re-investment in Australian science and entrepreneurs. Australia has abundant resources when it conies to wind, solar, tidal and geothermal power generation. Despite past losses, we have a new crop of clean technology companies poised to become world leaders, capable of growing into huge export-earners and job-creators.

We are world class in developing solar thermal technology, concentrating photovoltaic systems, developing thin-wafer solar cells and harnessing wave and tidal energy, with companies such as Ausra, Solar Systems, Oceanlinx, BioPower and CETO garnering attention overseas, and geothermal companies such as GeoDynamics, Petratherm, Green Rock and Panax Geothermal leading the field. We need to invest in these industries to enable them to become competitors with wind technology - an important industry, with imported technology and equipment. As yet, however, most of the benefits are flowing to other countries.

But to create these new industries, we need the right national investment structure to nurture our scientific research, support on-shore commercialisation and establish standards. Globally, clean technologies have attracted serious investment. New Energy Finance found new investment in energy technologies expanded by 4.7% , from $US148.4 billion ($A216.5 billion) in 2007, to $US155.4 billion in 2008. This includes venture capital, project finance, public markets and research and development expenditure.

And some clean technology investments have already justified their early investment. Global revenues from the solar photovoltaics, wind energy and biofuels sectors increased 53% in 2008 - and are predicted to reach US$325 billion in the next decade, the latest Clean Energy Trends report shows.

Yesterday Australia's clean technology investment leaders met in Melbourne to review the return on investment potential and how governments and the private sector could support the growth of this national asset. Starfish Ventures, among other venture-capital firms, is investing in clean technology and searching for companies with the technology and leadership to ensure Australia develops the next crop of leaders.

In recent weeks, the Federal Government has committed itself to an $83 million Innovation Investment Follow-on Fund to help more than 20 venture-capital fund managers licensed by the Commonwealth under existing programs. This is a welcome move and a step in the right direction. Federal and state governments are also playing a key role in creating the right regulatory structure to attract investment for local and international firms. This so far includes the proposed emissions trading scheme and renewable energy target.

While it is important to get these policies right, the investment community urgently needs regulatory clarity so investors can plan funds allocations and nurture current investments for the years ahead. In the latter part of the last century, Australia developed strong manufacturing, construction and natural resources sectors. It is now time to seriously commit to a clean technology innovation and commercialisation program - and keep backing these companies until they grow into national brands.

By supporting research, innovation and entrepreneurship, Australians stand to reap the much needed financial and intellectual benefits for decades to come.

John Dyson is investment principal at Starfish Ventures.