Friday 22 May 2009

It’s time for WA’s solar industry to shine

Clean Energy Council
22 May 2009

The Barnett Government's commitment to fund a gross feed-in tariff (GFiT) for households that generate energy from photovoltaic (PV) panels will deliver much-needed security to the state's growing solar industry. "We welcome the WA government's progress towards a GFiT that will see householders rewarded for all the energy produced by their solar panels," said Matthew Warren, chief executive, Clean Energy Council (CEC).

"We look forward to working with the government on the development of this important policy and urge them to publish the final details of the scheme as soon as is possible," he said. Mr Warren said this is a crucial time in policy development for Australia's clean energy industry with the Renewable Energy Target (RET) legislation set to pass through parliament in the coming weeks.

"It's important that the industry continues to remain focussed on ensuring governments deliver on driving accelerated development of this fast emerging industry as quickly as possible," he said. The CEC has more than 1000 accredited installers, both big and small, who will play a significant role in deploying these new solar systems across Western Australian households, developing the new green jobs market and reducing national greenhouse emissions.

Thursday 21 May 2009

Nth Qld vies for solar energy project
Thu, 21 May 09

North Queensland will be lobbying the Federal Government to become the site of the world's largest solar energy project. A study released by North Queensland economic agencies has highlighted the region's renewable energy credentials.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced plans to build up to four solar plants at a cost of $1.4 billion. However, a location for the plants have not been determined. Advance Cairns chief executive officer Ross Contarino says Queensland has a strong case, with several locations near the national grid that have high UV levels. He says the results of the study will be used to persuade the Commonwealth to base the project near Mount Isa in the west or Mareeba in the far north.

"The study highlighted the UV map of Australia. If you look at it, it's very concentrated over the northern part of Australia," he said. "Except for Queensland, it's a fairly unpopulated place and it's a long place away from the distribution grid. "In Queensland we're quite close to those distribution grids."

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Sunshine superpower bid

Hobart Mercury
Monday 18/5/2009 Page: 4

THE Federal Government's $1.4 billion investment in large solar energy farms would help make it a leader in solar energy, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said yesterday while visiting the Liddell solar energy-generation station in NSW's Hunter Valley.

In the next six months, tender specifications would be defined, then in the first half of next year the successful tenderers would be chosen, he said. Up to four solar energy plants, with a combined power output of one coal-fired power station, will be built. They will have to be built close to the electricity grid.

Mr Rudd warned that, if the Opposition blocked savings measures in the Budget, projects such as solar farms would be jeopardised. Earlier. Mr Rudd announced that Australia had joined the International Renewable Energy Agency, which now has more than 80 member countries after being established in January this year.

Biomass Power is way to go

Hobart Mercury
Saturday 16/5/2009 Page: 6

FOR two main reasons, we must seek alternatives to fossil fuels. First, by burning these carbon sources, which were generated millions of years ago, at a rate faster than the earth can reabsorb the carbon dioxide emitted, we are causing global warming. And, second, we will, sooner or later, run out of these amazing energy-dense fuels that have driven modern industrialisation and development.

One potential solution to both of these problems is biofuels. Although fossil fuels, loosely speaking, are biofuels in that they were produced by plants and algae a long time ago, when we talk about biofuels we really mean crops that are grown specifically to make fuel that can be used immediately.

The range of biofuels is enormous because virtually any kind of crop can be used and processed in several ways. Starches in grains, like corn, can be fermented into ethanol. Cellulose, the main component of wood or straw, can be converted by enzymes to ethanol. Oils, in grains such as canola, or in micro-algae, can be converted to biodiesel.

Ethanol and biodiesel can be burnt directly as fuel in specially designed or modified internal combustion engines. Another path to take is the burning of biofuels in simpler, unprocessed forms, such as wood or straw, to generate electricity, which could then be used to charge batteries in electric cars. Although biofuels were initially seen as a save-the-world technology, the reality seems somewhat less perfect.

The biggest problem with biofuels is that there simply is not enough arable land on this planet to grow enough food and fuel to satisfy our appetites. Given the way the global economy works, this might even lead to people starving in developing countries while grain is diverted to run cars to run kids to football matches in our part of the world.

So, for biofuels to be seriously considered as an alternative to fossil fuels, we need to know the most efficient way they can be used. That way, whatever land we do use to produce them, the negative effects can be minimised and the benefits, in terms of offsetting climate change, can be maximised. A new study, just published by a group of researchers from the United States and published in the latest issue of the journal Science, was designed to achieve this objective.

The researchers compared the production of ethanol from cellulose, probably the best way to make ethanol, with the production of electricity using biomass at the power plant. They took into account all the fossil fuels that went into the production of the biofuel, the production of the vehicles-either internal combustion or electric - and the efficiencies of all the steps.

Largely because an electric motor is about three times more efficient than a combustion engine per hectare of crop grown, the use of biomass-electricity and electric cars gives 80% more transportation kilometres than the liquid fuel-combustion engine system. The biomass-electric system also had twice as large an impact on reducing greenhouse gases per hectare of land cultivated.

Given the advances in battery technology that are being achieved, and that electric vehicles are quiet and clean, the study really suggests we should be developing our biofuels and transport system in this direction.

Take a shine to solar before July

West Australian
Saturday 16/5/2009 Page: 52

Households are being urged to make the shift to solar energy to take advantage of the Federal Government's energy rebates before they end on June 30. According to Avant Solar system designer Russell Green, more people will shift to solar energy because it is the most logical response to climate change. "Fitting a solar system will save the environment carbon dioxide emissions and you can become part of the solution to climate change," he said.

"It (solar energy) is free and clean energy. Why be reliant on coal-powered stations when this technology is available? Why not be self-sufficient?" The Federal Government's solar homes and communities plan rebate scheme ends on June 30 and is being replaced by the renewable energy certificate solar credit scheme.

Under the current scheme, households are eligible for up to $8000 in rebates for installing photovoltaic solar energy panels, but from 1 July solar energy users will be given credits for reimbursement based on their solar usage. Until June 2012, the number of solar credits received will be multiplied by five, giving householders an increased return from their generation.

From June 2012, the amount of credits will be reduced annually until 2016. The new system will apply to the first 1.5 kWs of system capacity. "The credit would represent the equivalent of up to $7500 in price reductions on a 1.5 kW solar energy system," Mr Green said. "As beneficial as electricity is to our lives, its production can have undesirable effects on the environment "On average, each West Australian household produces around seven tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

"Now is the time for people to consider a reliable pollution-free alternative for energy needs. "Rising power costs and the availability of government rebates make now a perfect opportunity to become part of the solution." The new scheme will also be open to small businesses and community groups. Solar credits will not be subject to means testing, while the Government's 50% renewable remote power generation program will remain in place for off-grid applications.

Funds freed up

Monday 18/5/2009 Page: 25

THE geothermal and ocean energy industries might crave flagship programs of their own, but at least the special-purpose solar fund frees up more money for geothermal and ocean under the REDP. About $135 million will be transferred to Solar Flagships, leaving $300 million for other technologies ready to move to the commercial stage.

The Government has this week begun weeding out ineligible applications for the REDP, with GeoDynamics and Petratherm, alongside at least a dozen or so others, making it through to the nest stage, while early-stage technologies such as Origin Energy's Sliver solar development will have to await another funding round.

However, the news elsewhere for GeoDynamics was not so good, with its stock slumping by up to 15% after it said the rollout of its hot fractured rock technology could be delayed by six to nine months by the dramatic incident at its Habanero 3 well last month.

Truth is, however, that until the company has regained control of the well which is still spurting steam and hot water it will not know the cause or be certain about the potential delay. The company had hoped to begin production this month at its 1MW geothermal pilot plant at Innamincka in the north of South Australia. CEO Gerry Grove-White says the delay will have a ricochet effect on this and future plans.

Riding the wave

Monday 18/5/2009 Page: 25

Carnegie Corporation concluded a major transaction last week, buying back the global intellectual property (IP) and development rights of its CETO wave energy technology, allowing it to be a full participant in projects planned for the key European markets. The sate and buyback of the CETO IP in many ways acts as a proxy for the development of renewable energy policy in this country.

CETO was conceived by oil and gas man Alan Burns in the 1970s after a wave washed him under a ledge while he was diving off Rottnest Island near Perth. But a lack of government support, and therefore investor interest, forced Burns in 2006 to list a new entity called Renewable Energy Holdings on the London-based AIM market, which held the IP rights. AIM's lack of liquidity makes it a difficult platform on which to raise funds, so Carnegie Corporation has seized this opportunity to buy back the rights in exchange for a 35% stake.

Carnegie Corporation hopes it will get government funding support to build a 50MW demonstration plant in Australia in the next few years, but the main game will be the European market. Scotland, which is fast running out of available windfarm locations, has no access to geothermal and little opportunity for solar, is offering huge subsidies for ocean power, which can gain feed-in tariffs worth five times that of wind, or around $650 per MW hour.

Ireland, England, Spain and Portugal also offer solid subsidies. "It's an incredibly attractive market, and where the action is," says Carnegie Corporation CEO Michael Ottaviano. Carnegie Corporation's joint venture partner in developing European projects is energy giant Electricite de France.

Betting billions on a carbon show pony

Monday 18/5/2009 Page: 8

THERE are some disturbing question marks hanging over carbon capture and storage as a reasonable technology bet. As tipped here a month ago, the Federal Government will spend $2 billion to build "industrial-scale" carbon capture and storage projects in Australia. You would be better off just burying the money from an environmental point of view because many doubt the CCS technology will work.

The best that proponents can say is, it has to work. But if it doesn't, the money is worse than wasted, because the spending will have exacerbated the climate problem by justifying construction of new coalfired power stations that burn for another 30 to 40 years. The public could bear the ultimate liability if the technology fails because the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act, the world's most comprehensive according to the Government, nicely shifts long-term liability (beyond 15 years) onto the Commonwealth.

There are loopholes anyway. For example, if a greenhouse gas storage licence holder has "ceased to exist" after a site closure certificate is issued by the resources minister, then liability reverts to the Commonwealth. We've seen what lengths James Hardie went to to avoid its long-tail asbestos liabilities. Insurance companies would not take on CCS risk at any price, which even the Government recognises. "Obtaining insurance (for CCS) is nigh on impossible because these are pilot schemes," a spokesman for Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson told The Age.

Ferguson's office says coal companies had no incentive to invest in CCS under the Howard government. "The reason the coal industry is now starting to make significant contributions towards CCS.., is because they now see the Federal Government is going to put a price on CO2 emissions, meaning they now have an economic incentive to invest in reducing emissions," the spokesman said.

Industry views the budget commitment to CCS as merely a "down payment" on the investment required - as National Low Emissions Coal Council chairman Dick Wells told one newspaper - or "a bit like peeing in the ocean", according to Keith Orchison, a columnist and former oil and gas industry lobbyist.

Tony Maher, national president of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, welcomed the Government's CCS commitment. But two years ago, he told a public meeting that unlike renewables, where there was a clear need for government funding for pilot projects, the coal mining industry was "a very wealthy global private sector industry and it does not need one dollar of public support".

So having prospered for decades under generous state-based royalty regimes, and having furtively lobbied against effective climate change policy, and having failed to manage the risk that climate change was actually occurring, and having demanded (and won) extensive concessions under the draft emissions trading scheme now that action is urgent, the coal lobby has the hide to demand that the public fund the very CCS technology they haven't been prepared to back themselves for the last 15 years.

And the money needed? Whatever it takes. It's a bottomless pit. What do we get for our initial outlay? The Government expects its investment of $2 billion, generating a total investment of $6 billion after 2-for-1 matched funding from industry and state governments, will pay for construction of between two and four new CCS-fitted coal-fired power stations generating between 250MW and 450MW each.

By comparison, the $1.2 billion investment in four flagship solar energy stations will generate Ref: 1000MW for about $3.6 billion after matched funds are invested, according to the Government's announcement. Simply put, CCS is hideously expensive. At Moomba, the biggest known onshore reservoir, it is technically feasible, I am told, and commercially attractive if the carbon price is about $80 a tonne.

Well, we're starting at $10, so don't hold your breath. WorleyParsons is big in CCS and solar. Last year Worley proposed Australia's largest solar energy project to date, the Advanced Solar Thermal initiative. Backed by Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Woodside Petroleum and others, the project would generate 250MW, for about $1 billion.

That project could qualify for funding under the Government's solar flagship program. Worley sustainable business unit managing director Peter Meurs told BusinessDay: "My feeling is the Government is doing the right thing in helping the first large-scale CCS and solar projects get going in Australia." My feeling? The solar spending better count because we'll never see that CCS money again.

Study seeks sustainability

West Australian
Saturday 16/5/2009 Page: 50

Increasing sustainability practices and reducing greenhouse emissions from Australian buildings are the aims of a new two-year study by two Curtin University academics. The project, titled Drivers and barriers to sustainability in residential and commercial buildings, started in February, with professor of sustainability Peter Newman and Dr Sandy Bond, senior lecturer in property studies at Curtin Business School, at the helm.

Dr Bond said the research would look at ways of increasing sustainability practices to improve building performance and reduce greenhouse emissions, and to identify proved examples of sustainable development practices and assess the costs, benefits and barriers involved.

"Legislation and government initiatives have been introduced to encourage sustainability in the built environment but it may be from our findings that more could be done," Dr Bond said. "If we find that there is evidence of the economic value of sustainable property development, that would provide an incentive for the development/building industry to build more sustainably."

The project also aims to provide a guiding framework to increase the application of sustainability practices, including selection of greenhouse-friendly products in new and existing buildings. New statistics from the Green Building Council of Australia show buildings are accountable for 23% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr Bond said there were many sustainable practices builders should use. In the residential sector they included passive solar design, ceiling insulation and photovoltaic roof panels to provide solar energyed renewable energy.

Despite Array, clouds on horizon for UK offshore wind
London, 14 May

The UK government will have to extend its additional subsidy for offshore wind, or the industry will have to cut its costs, if the UK's medium-term targets for renewable energy are to remain in sight, according to bankers and analysts. This warning comes despite the news on Tuesday that the first 630MW phase of the world's largest offshore windfarm, London Array, will go ahead, after months of uncertainty regarding its economic viability.

"In the medium term, there is a huge challenge for industry and government.., in delivery of offshore wind and how feasible it is," said Arnaud Bouille, an assistant director in consultancy Ernst & Young's renewable energy practice. "The costs of building and operating projects will have to come down - industry will have to deliver cost reductions," he added.

A London-based energy banker said: "I suspect that two years down the line, subject to power prices, capital costs and exchange rates, the government may have to extend its subsidy at the two-ROC level." He was referring to a change in the renewable energy support programme, announced in last month's UK government budget, that saw the number of 'Renewable Obligation Certificates' (ROCs) awarded to offshore windfarms rise from 1.5 to two per MW-hour of power produced, for those farms placing equipment orders this financial year. That figure drops to 1.75 next year, and back to 1.5 from 2011.

Each ROC is currently worth around £52 ($79), and electricity suppliers are required to surrender each year ROCs equivalent to a growing percentage of the total power they sell. ROCs are awarded to a range of renewable energy generating technologies, with onshore windfarms getting 1 ROCs per MWh, and co-firing of biomass with fossil fuels receiving 0.5.

It was this change to the subsidy regime that led the developers of the London Array - the UK arm of German utility E.ON, Denmark's DONG Energy and Abu Dhabi investment fund Masdar - to give the project the green light, the parties said earlier this week. They plan to invest €2.2 billion ($3.0 billion) in the project, which is expected to begin generating power in 2012.

Another five offshore projects are likely to quickly follow the London Array, said Colin Morgan, director of offshore wind at wind energy consultancy Garrad Hassan. These are Centrica's 200MW Lincs project, EDF's 90MW Teesside development, npower renewables' 750MW Gwynt y Mor farm, DONG Energy's 450MW Walney project, and the 500MW West of Duddon Sands project, under construction by DONG Energy's, ScottishPower and Eurus Energy.

"The two ROCs decision was specifically targeted at keeping these projects moving," he said. "It sends the signal that the government is prepared to intervene to keep offshore projects on track." The government has set a target of developing 25GW of offshore wind by 2020 - at the moment, less than 3GW is operational. Bouille at Ernst & Young said that his company has a medium-case scenario of 18-20MW, and a low-case scenario of 14-15GW.

"There are lots of challenges, including supply chain constraints. If the wind turbine market doesn't unlock new manufacturers, if the market remains an oligopoly, you'll find the UK government will have to decide if its prepared to re-increase the level of ROCs to make sure projects happen," he added.

EU, US renewables growth outstrips conventional sources
London, 14 May

More renewable energy than conventional power capacity was added in both the EU and the US for the first time in 2008, according to the annual report from stakeholder group REN21. Globally, power capacity of renewable energy sources rose 16% in 2008 to 280 GW, the report says, with the EU and US reaching 96 GW and 40 GW respectively. Investment in renewables capacity and biofuels refineries reached a record $120 billion, higher than the previous year's figure of $104 billion - though REN21 noted that its analysis methods had changed this year, so the figures were not directly comparable.

Wind energy took a 42% share of the investment, which led capacity to climb 29% to 121 GW. The report says China alone doubled its wind energy capacity - for the fourth year in a row - ending 2008 with 12 GW installed. But the US led the sector, with 8.36 GW added in 2008, bringing it up to 25.1 GW in total. Grid-connected solar photovoltaic systems were the fastest growing power generation technology, with a 70% increase in existing capacity to reach 13 GW, the report says. The majority of this capacity is located in Germany (5.4 GW), Spain (3.3 GW) and Japan (2.0 GW).

"The recent growth of the sector has surpassed all predictions, even those made by the industry itself," said Mohamed El-Ashry, chairman of REN21. He noted that favourable policies had driven much of this growth - today, at least 73 countries have renewable energy targets, up from 66 at the end of 2007. He urged governments to maintain and expand these policies to help fend off the effect of the financial crisis, which slowed renewables growth towards the end of 2008, and will impact in 2009.

"Now is not the time to relax policies.., society will reap substantial economic and environmental rewards when the economic rebound requires energy markets to meet rapidly increasing demand," he said. REN21's headline figure excludes large-scale hydro power projects. If these are included, the global total of installed renewables capacity is 1,140 GW.

Monday 18 May 2009

Resourceful use of energy

Weekend Australian
Saturday 16/5/2009 Page: 6

THINGS are not as crook in the engineering and mining sectors as some reports have suggested, and recruiters and university careers advisers say there are still more jobs in mining and engineering than top candidates to fill them. But it can't be gainsaid that there is also stress in the sectors.

According to the Hudson Report of employer expectations for the April-June quarter this year, "employer sentiment in construction-property-engineering sentiment fell 10.4 points to minus 4.6% , and overall a low net 0.8% of the 6337 employers surveyed reported an intention to increase their permanent staff levels during the April-June 2009 quarter".

This result is 4.6 points below the result recorded for the previous quarter and a considerable 24.5 points below October- December 2008," the report says. "Mining employment is set to fall sharply over the course of this year and is likely to continue falling for at least another two to three years. Workers in coal, zinc, lead and copper mines, as well as in the property and construction sectors, will be affected as mines are shut down and production cut back." But the news is not all grim.

Hudson found that sentiment in the utilities sector was robust at plus 28.9% , down 0.2 points from the previous quarter. In NSW, for instance, in the utilities sector, employer confidence rose nine points to plus 28.6% this quarter as several projects received increased funding.

Neville Andrews at Hudson says that, if you are looking only at the mining sector, things have been bad in the resource states of Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland, but the thermal coal sector in NSW is strong and goldminers throughout the country are doing well, so the entire mining sector is not under stress.

The ones most under pressure, he says, are contractors and operators in the resource states, but "there's robust opportunities in the utilities and energy sectors, and also in defence, especially in South Australia". Dawn White, the University of New South Wales's employer programs co-ordinator and president of the National Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (, says there has been a slight increase in graduate recruitment in engineering and there was a substantial increase in the number of engineering firms represented at UNSW's recent careers expo, "a very good sign".

Hays, another leading recruiter and researcher, sees strength particularly in the energy and infrastructure sectors. Infrastructure projects are already affecting some states, says Patrick Digby, head of operations and engineering at recruiter Randstad, formerly Tanner Menzies: "It's big in Brisbane, there's rail in the west, but it's fairly stable elsewhere yet."

Hays resources recruiter Simon Winfield also finds strength in infrastructure projects and says that even in mining there is still a shortage of good engineers, but he sees the real action as being in oil and gas, "where there are more jobs than candidates". He believes gas and oil will take over from mining as Australia's big employer during the next five years. "The Pluto project is picking up and Gorgon has already spent $1 billion in preliminary work. Gorgon will soak up 5000 jobs when it is at its peak," Winfield says.

As well as oil and gas, renewable energy projects also promise enduring engineering employment, says Michael Green, director at Bradman Recruitment. "It's so strong that universities such as [the University of Technology Sydney] have introduced specific courses to train people for the sector. wind energy is a particularly strong growth area," he says.

Darren Hill, at recruiter Bluefin resources, holds even more hope for the sector: "Environmental engineers will be the new IT. Every company will need to have one. And everyone is on tenterhooks about the new carbon economy and what that will do to employment patterns. Billions of dollars have been promised to the renewable energy sector and, although the money hasn't started filtering through yet, it is going to."

Hill has also seen an increased interest in engineering consultants to assess and implement performance-enhancement programs. Green says renewable energy and, notably, wind turbines demand a range of engineering skills from design and software through to mechanical and electrical, construction and civil engineering, and maintenance. "Employment in the sector is growing slowly but steadily and we can't know just yet what will happen," Green says.

The triggers, he says, would be the Australian Senate passing carbon trading legislation, what US President Barack Obama does next in terms of environmental policies and the decisions made at the next Kyoto round, which will be held in Copenhagen in late December. Hill's Bluefin colleague Duncan Amos also has noticed more demand for people with skills in developing and applying specialist mining and engineering software.

Hudson's Andrews says organisations are using the global crisis to streamline their businesses. Many haven't had a structured view of their talent capability and the crisis has led them to reassess their strengths. Unfortunately, he says, some companies have let go top people as well as ones who don't quite fit, and for those people the best advice is to examine their skills and assess which are transferable and align them with industries that can use them. He says salaries have not come rocketing down: "They've plateaued, but they haven't plummeted."

Subsidies for low-energy buildings

Sydney Morning Herald
Saturday 16/5/2009 Page: 18

MAKING buildings more efficient users of energy has become the priority for all developers and landlords and last week's federal budget allocation of funds has been welcomed by the property industry. The Green Building Council of Australia's chief executive, Romilly Madew, said the $3.3 million funding plan, spread over four years, to increase the energy efficiency requirements of commercial buildings would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"We've advocated changes to the Building Code of Australia for some time, and welcome the Australian Government's decision to increase the stringency of energy efficiency requirements for all classes of commercial buildings in the [code] from 2010," Ms Madew said. The council is also pleased with the commitment to spend $5.3 million over four years to accelerate and expand a national regime for the mandatory disclosure of commercial building energy efficiency at the point of sale or lease to improve awareness of building energy performance."

Ms Madew said the new national regime would start in 2010 for office buildings larger than 2000 sqms, and coverage would expand to a wider range of commercial buildings by 2012. In total, the country's commercial and residential buildings are responsible for 23% of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. Stephen Conry, Jones Lang LaSalle's head of Australia, said the Government had maintained it emphasis in providing financial support for environmental strategies.

The Government is pushing for greater transparency [in the] performance of office buildings and has announced measures to encourage greater take-up of [sustainable] practices in the commercial property industry," he said. "Initiatives like the new Energy Efficiency Trust in [this] budget and the $90 million Green Building Fund announced in last year's budget are an opportunity for owners to upgrade the sustainability of their buildings with government subsidies."

Mr Conry said owners should take advantage of these programs before the proposed mandatory disclosure of the energy efficiency of commercial buildings is introduced. The disclosure, he said, would produce increased transparency in the market.

Plantation sites in the running for solar farm

Canberra Times
Saturday 16/5/2009 Page: 3

A former pine plantation south of Tharwa and another block in the Kowen Forest have been earmarked as possible sites for the ACT Government's 30MW solar farm to be built by 2012. Opening the tender process, Environment Minister Simon Corbell said the two sites were the best options available from the Government's stock of unleased land. Clearing trees from the Kowen site was not an environmental issue as the pines had been planted for harvesting, he said.

"Naming two possible sites does not in any way preclude potential solar energy facility proponents coming forward with other suggestions, but the site must be located within the borders of the ACT," Mr Corbell said. More than 30 companies attended an industry consultation session about the ACT's solar plant in March. The plant is expected to provide power for 10,000 Canberra homes and the Government has pledged $30 million towards the project, although funding was not included in this year's budget.

Mr Corbell said funding was not allocated because it was not known if the money would be a cash payment, a land gift or a combination of the two. But Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury said it was important to secure the money so the project was not delayed. "That's something I'm looking to pursue in estimates, because I've not been able to see where the money's allocated in the budget," he said.

Mr Rattenbury said the project was already a little behind schedule. The ACT Opposition said the Government needed to consult thoroughly with the community before it decided on a site. Mr Corbell said consultation would start this month with letters to community user groups and local residents. Public meetings and site tours are planned next month.

Opposition leader Zed Seselja said energy companies proposing their own sites should also conduct rigorous public consultation and the Government should come clean about exactly what form the facility would take, as the procurement documents showed it could be a hybrid facility. The Government has said it is willing to consider a hybridised power plant with fossil fuels.

$1 deal will power Origin into the future

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 16/5/2009 Page: 72

Origin Energy has reached conditional agreement to buy the long-term power purchase, gas purchase and sales agreements associated with its Adelaide Osborne Power Plant from a Babcock and Brown Power subsidiary for $1. The Osborne power station is jointly owned by Origin Energy and Canada's ATCO. It is a cogeneration facility, with one gas turbine and one steam turbine that together can generate 180 MWs of electricity.

Flinders Osborne Trading, a wholly owned subsidiary of BBP, holds long-term agreements for the purchase of up to 180MW of electricity from Osborne and the sale of 13.5 petajoules of gas per annum to Osborne power station until 2018. FOT also holds a gas purchase agreement with AGL for gas that it sells to Osborne power station until the end of 2010. Origin Energy said yesterday it had reached conditional agreement with BBP to assume all of those contracts for a nominal $1.

"Assumption of the Osborne agreements will provide Origin Energy with flexible baseload and peaking cover for our current retail electricity portfolio until 2018 and complement Origin Energy's existing South Australian power stations at Quarantine and Ladbroke Grove," Origin Energy executive general manager of energy markets Frank Calabria said. On completion the transaction will provide competitive electricity for Origin Energy in South Australia, the company said. It is expected to be earnings accretive from the 2009/10 financial year.

Sunday 17 May 2009

MP trades up to a ratepayer saviour

Courier Mail
Friday 15/5/2009 Page: 10

ROOKIE MP Greg Combet has convinced his boss to change a contentious section of the emissions trading scheme, in a move that will save ratepayers thousands of dollars. Mr Combet who is the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change persuaded Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to exclude emissions from old landfill from the ETS.

In an interview with The Courier-Mail, Mr Combet said he lobbied the removal of "legacy emissions" because it would have been unfair for councils and ratepayers. "The removal of legacy waste emissions from the scheme will reduce administrative costs to small local councils and landfill operators and, therefore, their customers, while retaining a strong incentive for these operators to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

Emission liabilities for landfill facilities will now only apply to waste deposited after the scheme starts in July 2011. Mr Combet said he formed the view during a series of consultations with stakeholders, but warned the mining industry which has continued pressuring the Government for more financial compensation should not raise its hopes.

It was another win for the influential first-time parliamentarian, who yesterday was given the "great privilege" to introduce the 10 carbon pollution reduction scheme Bills in the Lower House. The Australian Local Government Association yesterday welcomed the changes for old landfill emissions and congratulated Mr Combet for listening to its concerns.

"The decision to exclude legacy waste addresses local government's concerns that the scheme would unfairly impose costs on ratepayers for actions that occurred before the CPRS began operating," it said. Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout said the shift by the Government was a "victory for common sense". "Some uncertainties remain over the measurement of emissions and estimation of the legacy emissions and Ai Group will continue to consult with members and discuss these issues with the Government," Ms Ridout said.

Mr Combet will meet the Australian Coal Association today after negotiations last week in NSW. The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union met Mr Combet yesterday to urge him not to give windfall gains to greedy mining companies. Climate Change Minister Penny Wong referred the ETS draft laws to a committee, which was to report back by June 15.

Coal chiefs' $10b compo claim 'greedy'

Canberra Times
Friday 15/5/2009 Page: 2

The Federal Government will meet coal industry representatives for the second time in a week today to try to hammer out an agreement on the proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme. The meeting conies as Labor introduced 10 Bills, that will establish the revised emissions trading scheme, through the House of Representatives yesterday. But the legislation remains unlikely to pass the Senate in its current form.

Parliamentary secretary for climate change Greg Combet has dismissed the "ambit" claims of the coal industry for $10 billion in compensation after the introduction of the scheme, saying the $750 million in assistance on the table for the industry was sufficient. Mr Combet's stance on compensation was backed by Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union boss Tony Maher, who urged the Government to push on with the emissions trading scheme, which would "protect over 100,000 jobs" in the coal industry.

Mr Maher said coal industry bosses had been greedy in calling for $10 billion in compensation. "Big mining companies are using the economic downturn as a smokescreen to argue for concessions from the Government and lay off workers to protect profits," he said. The emissions trading legislation will now be examined by the Senate Economics Committee, the fourth parliamentary committee to look at the proposed scheme, before reporting on June 15.

Mr Combet said the legislation was one of the most significant environmental and economic reforms in Australia's history. "If we don't act, average temperatures across Australia are expected to rise by just over five degrees [compared to 1990] by 2100. To put this in perspective, a one degree rise in temperature risks a 15% reduction in stream flow in the Murray - Darling Basin, Australia's biggest river system," he said.

"That is why the Government has said it will commit to a national target to reduce net greenhouse emissions 25% by 2020 over 2000 levels if there is an ambitious global agreement to achieve the 450 parts per million goal." Mr Combet highlighted the removal of "legacy emissions" produced by landfills from the scheme. The change means local councils and landfill operators will avoid paying for emission - producing waste dumped years earlier, and only cover the cost of new waste.

Australian Industry Group chief executive officer Heather Ridout welcomed the change as a "victory for common sense". The revised legislation also delays the start date of the scheme by one year to July 1, 2011, could raise the reduction target to as much as 25% of 2000 levels, subject to an international agreement, and establishes a carbon trust to help households reduce emissions.

But Labor still faces a fight to push the legislation through the Senate. Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce delivered a resounding "no" in the Senate yesterday, and the Greens have indicated they will not support the scheme in its current form. Greens climate change spokeswoman Christine Milne slammed the Government for continuing to invest in the coal industry.

"With the world inexorably turning away from coal, we risk a jobs crash in coal communities if we don't start now with plans to retrain workers for jobs in new sustainable industries seeded in their regions," she said. "In the face of the climate and economic crises, cosseting vulnerable industries is extremely shortsighted. "We need to put Australia on to a sustainable footing with the jobs and industries of the future." Labor is still negotiating over the scheme with the Liberals, who say they will reveal their plans about the scheme in June.

Councils off carbon hook

Friday 15/5/2009 Page: 4

HOUSEHOLDS have been spared hundreds of millions of dollars in additional council rates by Government changes to the emissions trading scheme's treatment of landfills. Legislation outlining the emissions trading scheme, which went before Parliament yesterday, removed a proposal to charge landfill operators retrospectively for carbon emissions from waste deposited before the scheme was announced.

The industry had calculated that including "legacy emissions" in the scheme would have cost local councils up to $200 million a year, which would have been passed on to ratepayers or borne by councils. The changes come after a month of negotiations between parliamentary secretary for Climate Change Greg Combet and industry representatives. Mr Combet said yesterday the industry would have been the only one charged for past actions, which "isn't equal or fair".

But he would not commit yesterday to additional compensation for the coal industry. He will meet representatives today to hear their concerns about having to buy carbon permits for methane emitted by mining operations. The Opposition responded to the tabling of the legislation with a three - line statement from emissions trading spokesman Andrew Robb, stating that it would now "consider the legislation in detail".

Hot rockers chase grants

Adelaide Advertiser
Friday 15/5/2009 Page: 79

TWO South Australian hot rocks explorers have met the Federal Government's eligibility criteria for grants under the Renewable Energy Demonstration Program. The applications by Petratherm and GeoDynamics will now undergo a merit assessment with outcomes to be announced by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism in August. The $435 - million REDP is part of the Federal Government's $500 million Renewable Energy Fund.

GeoDynamics has applied for a $90 million REDP grant for a commercial demonstration plant at Cooper Basin. Efforts are still underway to stem the flow of water and steam from its Habanero - 3 geothermal energy well following an incident on April 24, GeoDynamics commercial manager Alistair Webb said.

Explorer Petratherm - on behalf of joint venture partners Beach Petroleum and TRUEnergy Geothermal - has sought $62.8 million for a 30MW commercial demonstration project - expected to cost about $200 million - at Paralana. Petratherm also raised $7 million through a shareholder purchase plan and an institutional share placement.

Its SPP raised $4.3 million at 26 cents per share, while the placement with Taylor Collison clients brought in $3.1 million at 32 cents a share. The funds raised will be applied to fund ongoing exploration and development of the company's projects, in particular, at Paralana, Petratherm chairman Derek Carter said in a statement.

Carbon tax better than ETS: Clifford

Thursday 14/5/2009 Page: 21

Qantas chair Leigh Clifford has broken ranks with the Business Council of Australia by calling for a carbon tax, instead of an emissions trading scheme, once the economy settles down. In an interview to be published in The Deal tomorrow, Mr Clifford said he preferred a carbon tax because it was more targeted and could be modified along the way.

While the BCA supports the trading scheme, this comes with the caveat that the scheme is designed properly, and increasing numbers of business people are worried that it is not being done correctly. The Government is committed to a trading scheme but has delayed its introduction, allowing the debate to broaden.

There have been growing calls from big business for a tax rather than a poorly designed trading scheme. Mr Clifford's shift is important, given he has been the boss of a big coal producer, Rio Tinto, and chairman of a big polluter, Qantas. Unlike many other companies, Qantas at last has some market power, which means it can pass on the effects of a tax hike.

Former BHP Billiton boss Paul Anderson was an early supporter of a carbon tax, believing it to be the most efficient way of achieving the desired carbon reduction. In the interview with The Deal, Mr Clifford said: "I do recognise the community wants to cut CO2 emissions. But let's get some stability in the economy and then wait a little.

"Then we should have a carbon tax. (It) can be targeted and you can increase and decrease it, but once you put in an emissions trading system, you unleash something which has to be global... I am just not convinced the developed world will write cheques to buy dirty air out of the underdeveloped world."

Mr Clifford also urged the debate to be widened to include nuclear energy. "What amazes me, if we are talking 2050, (is) why shouldn't nuclear energy be at least part of the debate? The UK, US, China can have a program, but with a 50 - year timeframe it is unbelievable we can't even have it on the agenda."