Friday 10 July 2009

Time's up for old industry

Tuesday 7/7/2009 Page: 11

The talks in Italy are a chance to pave the way for low-carbon economies, writes Erwin Jackson.

OVER the past decade, investments and jobs in clean energy have been leaving Australia for countries such as Germany and China, which have strong policies to drive low-carbon growth. And further delay is costing jobs at home, as a friend of mine has just discovered.,Au adviser to business on how to make the most of low-carbon industry growth, she sent nee an email the other day saying that she had lost her job. She had been laid off because of political wrangling in Canberra over climate action.

The stalled carbon pollution reduction scheme and renewable energy legislation is discouraging investment in Australian clean-energy and low-carbon growth industries, while in other parts of the world the low-carbon industry train is leaving the station with a clear destination in sight - new clean-energy jobs and industries.

In the US, President Barack Obama has committed about $US86 billion in his stimulus package to renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transportation and smart electricity grids. The lower house of Congress has also recently passed a clean energy and pollution reduction bill that - if passed by the Senate and alongside Obama's clean-energy stimulus package - will create more than $US150 billion per year in new clean-energy investments and generate a net increase of about 1.7 million jobs.

More than 70 countries including China and India have strong policies to encourage clean energy and last year, for the first time, clean-energy investments outstripped investments in traditional coal, oil and gas generation. The challenge for world leaders is how to underpin this investment surge with an ambitious global agreement to reduce greenhouse pollution.

This week in Italy, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd joins Obama and the heads of state from the world's largest economies for a meeting on how to build political momentum towards such an agreement in December in Copenhagen. The countries at this meeting account for 80% of the world's emissions and include not only rich nations, but rapidly industrialising countries such as China, India, South Africa and Brazil.

The political declaration from this meeting will be the first major litmus test of how ambitious the agreement in Copenhagen will be and what level of new low-carbon industrial growth it will deliver. Negotiators have been trying to break long-standing political deadlocks, including pollution reduction targets and, just as important, how to drive investment in lowcarbon growth of developing countries. Another crucial challenge will be how we prove and drive transformational technologies like concentrated solar energy at the scale required.

To date, the key sticking point in the negotiations has been whether industrialised countries such as Australia would agree to 80% reductions in emissions by 2050, and whether the world as a whole should peak emissions by 2020 and then more than halve pollution levels by midcentury. However, there are signs of hope that these countries may agree to a shared vision that would aim to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees. Such an agreement has been elusive in the past as it would require significant action from all major emitters and has been blocked by the US and the major emitting developing countries.

While Australia's international standing will be diminished by Senate squabbles that have stalled clean-energy and low-carbon economic legislation, the Prime Minister has a key role to play in this week's meeting. This year's federal budget allocated billions towards fast-tracking investments in building new industries and export opportunities in solar energy and cleaning up fossil fuels. Building on this foundation, Rudd could play an important international leadership role by helping develop a plan to drive these vital new technologies to markets in developed and developing countries.

This week the Global Climate Network - an alliance of influential think tanks including the Climate Institute Australia, the Centre for American Progress and the Research Centre for Sustainable Development at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences - will release a joint study examining how to achieve breakthroughs in low-carbon technology.

This report highlights that new focus on technology would tangibly help avert climate crisis and could also transform the debate from one of mutual mistrust into one of shared opportunities. The development and sale of low-carbon technologies is part of the profit and job-creating low- carbon growth economy of today and tomorrow and part of a shared vision we can embrace.

By working with other countries on technology and backing it up with a strategy to unlock private and public sector financing, Australia can build trust between countries that will be crucial to achieving an ambitious agreement in Copenhagen. A strong outcome in Copenhagen can be a key step towards protecting Australia from the worst impacts of the climate crisis. An ambitious outcome in Copenhagen can be an engine for low-carbon economic growth. This week we will see the first real test of whether the world's political leadership is up to that task.

Erwin Jackson is director of policy and research at the Climate Institute Australia (

South West England receives £10.3 million boost to marine energy
07 July 2009

South West England's hopes of becoming a hub for marine energy have received a boost with the announcement of £10.3 million in funding.

The Peninsula Research Institute for Marine Renewable Energy (PRIMaRE) will receive the funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) (£5.3 million), the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) (£4.3 million), the University of Plymouth (£200,000) and the University of Exeter (£466,000).

Set up two years ago by the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter with funds from SWRDA, the Institute will use the funds to support the work of its 15 academic staff and 60 researchers. It also plans to invest in new equipment - including wave and tidal power measuring devices, wave-making facilities.

The SWRDA also has plans to build a 'wave hub' for testing wave energy technology, which it claims will be one of the largest when its starts operations next year. "PRIMaRE and Wave Hub are central planks in [our] drive towards a low carbon economy in South West England," says Stephen Peacock of SWRDA. "We want our region to be one of the best places in the world to build a low carbon business and a global leader in the development of environmental and renewable energy technologies."
For further information:

Southern Gold awarded geothermal acreage

North Adelaide, South Australia: Southern Gold Ltd, has been granted a suite of 18 new geothermal exploration licenses (GELs) in South Australia, increasing Southern Gold's Roxby geothermal project (RGP) acreage by 500% and providing a "dominant hot rocks energy opportunity" in an area acknowledged as one of the state's main mining, mineral exploration and electricity grid corridors.

Southern Gold had previously held only four non-contiguous granted GELs in an area directly west of Lake Torrens. The additional licenses, which were awarded today, give the company a total of 22 granted GELs covering an area of 10,000 square kilometers (3,861 square miles).

The company recently established a large estimated inferred geothermal resource of 260,000 petajoules within GEL302, a tenement in the southeastern area of Southern Gold's RGP holdings and representing just five% of the total project's now granted geothermal footprint.

"With today's approvals securing an uninterrupted geothermal access opportunity and with a large inferred resource confirmed, the heat flows measured by Southern Gold on the Roxby Geothermal Project provide a strong basis to progress investigations towards the commercial development of an Engineering Geothermal System (EGS)," said Stephen Biggins, managing director.

KUTh completes geothermal estimation program

KUTh Energy Ltd, has completed a two-year surface heat flow estimation program across two of its three Tasmanian tenements, SEL 26/2005/ and SEL 45/2007. Reliable estimates of surface heat flow, which provide an indication of the heat energy that is emitted from the Earth, are now available from 35 localities on a 20 kilometers by 20 kilometers (12.4 miles by 12.4 miles) grid across the tenement area.

Surface heat flow data "clearly indicate the existence of a significant thermal anomaly in central Eastern Tasmania," the company said in a statement. "The size, distribution and location of this anomaly are consistent with the current geological model of buried high-heat-producing granite batholiths at depth in the location."

In total, an area of about 4,170 square kilometers (1,610 sq miles) is estimated to have anomalously high heat flow. This area, which remains open to the west, is the prime target area for future geothermal development in Tasmania.

Integration of the newly completed surface heat flow field with available geological and geophysical data has enabled the development of 3D geothermal models. These models will form the basis for future stored heat geothermal resource estimations in this area.

The completion of this comprehensive two-year heat flow program is a major milestone in the development of KUTh Energy's Tasmanian geothermal project. KUTh Energy has pursued this detailed and systematic approach to geothermal tenement exploration to provide high quality inputs for geothermal resource estimation, and to enable more accurate location targeting for initial production drilling.

Wave power the way of the future
06 Jul 09

THE first off-shore wave power generator was launched at Rivergate Marina and Shipyard at Murarrie by Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Stephen Robertson recently. The wave power generator, Nautilus, is a 30m prototype and the result of three years of conceptual development by Ivec managing director Ivan Voropaev.

The initial results show the technology is capable of producing power at 50 per cent of the cost of diesel power generation. Nautilus will be anchored in Moreton Bay for a six- month trial. "With all going well, after the trial the full commercial version could be up to 300m in length and width," Mr Voropaev said. The design is unique in allowing waves to pass underneath the structure, which forces air pockets through a funnel to drive a turbine, which is predicted to be able to support 30-40 homes with power.

Mr Robertson said the device was quick, consistent and had an efficient means of alternative power production. ''The amount of power produced depends on the size of the wave generator and the location,'' he said. Advanced Wave Power, the company developing the generators, has a strong market in the South Pacific Islands which are reliant on diesel generators for power.

Drilling commences on Petratherm geotherman energy project, SA
6 July 2009

Petratherm has announced it is on track to deliver Australia's first commercial geothermal energy project, following the start of major drilling at its Paralana site in South Australia. Petratherm spudded its Paralana 2 deep well using a AUS $40 million custom-made contract drilling rig which arrived on-site last month.

A specially trained team of workers and a 40-bed camp are now on-site as major drilling gets underway. According to the company, the Paralana project will use the rig to drill 4 kilometers below the earth's surface creating a deep injection well that will establish an underground "heat exchanger" capable of circulating super-heated water exceeding temperatures of 200°C.

Petratherm's joint venture partners Beach Petroleum and TRUEnergy Geothermal have announced will contribute AUS $10 million and $6 million respectively, plus their equity share of project costs, towards drilling and stimulating the first and second deep wells and the water circulation between the two wells.

The Paralana project covers over 500km² of known hot rock granite resources.

Clean coal plant set to go ahead - Project follows false starts

Wednesday 8/7/2009 Page: 6

VICTORIA is poised to receive a coal-to-liquids plant for the Latrobe Valley that promises to produce cleaner coal, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% and extract thousands of barrels of high-grade oil. The news is a relief for the Victorian Government, which has seen many of its supported "clean coal" projects either stalled or abandoned amid the global financial crisis and uncertainty around an emissions trading scheme.

The coal-to-liquids technology, which is known as supercritical water technology, adds water before using modular reactors to heat the coal and transform it into higher-grade coal and oil. The plant, which Ignite Energy Resources will begin to build within weeks subject to State Government approval, will process up to 60,000 tonnes of brown coal a year to produce 60,000 barrels of oil and 18,000 tonnes of cleaner dry coal.

TRUEnergy, which will supply the coal from its Yallourn power station, has agreed to take the initial resource, with Ignite hopeful increased production will lead to exports. Ignite chief executive Len Humphreys said the initial plant would begin operation in 2010. "The initial reactor will cost about $15 million - a hundredth of competitor technologies. The first module will be up in 2010 and then further modules can be added on every six months," he said. "This process produces twice the energy of brown coal, with almost half as much carbon and also releases oil."

Mr Humphreys said about 10 jobs would be created initially but that this number could grow significantly if it could attract interest from overseas. The project, if given final approval, comes after a number of false starts for the Government. In December, Royal Dutch Shell and Anglo American shelved their $5 billion coal-to-liquids project for the Latrobe Valley citing tight market conditions.

A further $1 billion in investment hangs in the balance with the Government still sitting on the release of coal reserves to move Exergens continuous hydrothermal de-watering technology ahead. The technology, an Australian invention, transforms brown coal into export quality coal for power generation. The project has a number of international backers but could head offshore unless coal supply is guaranteed in Victoria.

HRL's $750 million, 400- MW coal gasification project was also meant to be directing power into the electricity grid this year but has been delayed due to a lack of investment. Resources Minister Peter Batchelor said the Government had attracted record levels of leveraged investment for the Latrobe Valley's brown coal industry. "Projects such as this have the potential to help establish new non-power industries for coal development in the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland region."
  • Coal-to-liquids plant for state promises cleaner coal.
  • Construction to begin on plant within weeks, if approved.
  • Plant to process up to 60,000 tonnes of brown coal a year.

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Wave and tidal power surging towards viability and market

Canberra Times
Monday 6/7/2009 Page: 3

Technologies to capture the power of the ocean's waves and tides are on the brink of widespread uptake, the head of an Australian ocean energy technology company says. BioPower Systems founder and chief executive officer Tim Finnigan said ocean energy could be available on the market within two to three years and would equal wind energy in price in five years. Dr Finnigan will be in Canberra tomorrow to talk about ocean energy as a viable renewable energy resource and the last steps required to get the technology to market.

His company is building pilot devices, which it will deploy next year for grid testing in the Bass Strait just off the coast of Tasmania. It plans to build commercial-scale products within two to three years. "The technologies are here," Dr Finnigan said. "I believe we could see quite a significant high-tech industry attached to an engineering design and development industry and some specialised manufacturing as well."

Wave and tidal power are often overshadowed by their older cousins wind and solar in the renewable energy industry. But as scientists and engineers overcome technical barriers of creating devices to handle ocean elements, companies around the world are working to realise the ocean's potential. In February, renewable energy company Oceanlinx redeployed its wave energy conversion unit at Port Kembla as part of its development and commercialisation program.

The company has five projects under development: two in Australia, one in Namibia and two in the United States at Rhode Island and Hawaii. Dr Finnigan said Britain, which faced serious energy supply issues and did not have significant indigenous sources such as coal, was leading in development of ocean energy technologies. "If [government] financial mechanisms are in place, or are trade available to get a few projects up and running, then it's possible Australia could take it on," he said. "Alternatively, the best technologies in Australia will migrate as many others have before."

Recognised wave energy resources exist along much of Australia's east, west and south coast. Commercial sites for tidal power could exist in Tasmania, South Australia and West Australia where tidal power flows are strong enough. BioPower has two pilot projects - tidal power and wave - which will take place in the Bass Strait near Flinders Island and King Islandand. Both technologies mimic nature, either the way fish swim or the movement of sea plants with waves, to take power from movement and channel it to an electric generator.

Dr Finnigan said they designed the devices to minimise any environmental impact. There were no rotating turbines or suction of seawater and they installed the systems by floating out the units and sinking them into place. Pilot devices each have a capacity of 250kw and commercial units will have a capacity of 1 MW, similar to a standard wind turbine. Dr Finnigan will speak tomorrow in an Australian Academy of Science public lecture from 6pm at the Shine Dome, Gordon Street, Canberra.

For more information, visit

Solar thermal to heat up Canberra industry

Canberra Times
Monday 6/7/2009 Page: 3

Dish project has opened the way for a multimillion-dollar manufacturing industry for Canberra. Larger and stronger than any comparable solar technology in the world, the second generation big dish is completed. Four times the size of any other dish, its unique mirrors accurately focus the sun's heat while adding to the dish's overall structural strength, lessening the amount of steel needed for its frame.

The advantage over other dishes sets the stage for a new high-tech industry in Canberra. While the prototype has been developed Canberra's Wizard Power has been fielding calls from Europe, North America, China, India, the Middle East and Australia to buy the technology to build power stations generating from 50 MWs to two and a half GWs.

Wizard will sell the licensing for the intellectual property needed to build arrays of big dishes and so far governments, international corporates and potential business partners have shown strong interest, with some in contract negotiations. Wizard is proposing a high-tech factory in the ACT capable of turning out $20 million worth of mirrors a year in stage one of development.

Wizard executive chairman Tony Robey said the market for mirrors was enormous. "The world's biggest manufacturer is hitting about a billion dollars worth of mirrors a year and we're still in the embryonic stage of the concentrating solar industry, so we expect those figures to go a lot higher," he said. The Big Dish's mirrors concentrate sunlight and one dish with 380 mirror panels (500sq in of natural mirror) generates enough heat to power 100 energy-efficient homes.

ANU's solar thermal group leader Dr Keith Lovegrove said the latest Big Dish was aimed at the sun for the first time last week. Even with most of its mirrors left with their plastic covers on, it focused enough heat from the sun to burn a hole through a piece of aluminium. "You snake all these mirrors and stick them tip there, it is quite a precision thing and if we haven't done our job well, the focus will be very spread out and won't be able to achieve the high temperatures we want," he said. "No mirrors, no smoke."

Dr Lovegrove said building a prototype was an enormous challenge in resolving lots of issues, like working in roasting heat on sunny days, but having pioneered it, future production would be smoother. The Big Dish will continue research while Wizard deploys the technology on a 80MW demonstration plant in Whyalla. Mr Robey said as well as having focal accuracy, the mirrors were nearly unbreakable. "You could fire a bullet through them and all there would be was a hole. They would still mirror from 90% of the surface."

Wizard had applied for a patent and hoped to manufacture in Canberra. "We are talking about hi-tech manufacturing, a pretty sophisticated environment, lots of robots and automated facilities for actually laying the things tip and bonding them together," Mr Robey said. Specialised equipment was being prepared in Australia and overseas, and once up and running the factory's multiplier would generate about 150 jobs.

The truth about Spain's pain

Monday 6/7/2009 Page: 25

SPAIN'S government has been one of the most active supporters of renewable technologies in the world, but the decision has been controversial. Has it really been the disaster some suggest? The debate about government stimuli for clean energy in the US and Australia has been coloured by a study by Professor Gabriel Calzada Alvarez of the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Spain, which suggests Spain's generous feed-in tariffs had terrible results.

The essential findings of the study are that in the past 10 years only 52,200 direct and indirect jobs have been created by government aid for the renewable industry at a cost of 571,138 ($lm) each including lm for each wind job. What's more, the report contends the policy has caused the loss of 110,000 jobs elsewhere. On that basis, it says the US could expect to destroy 11 million jobs of its own if it goes ahead with its own green jobs program.

The Spanish government's response to the report has been less well reported. Spain's Climate Change Minister, Teresa Ribera Rodriguez, wrote to Henry Waxman, co-sponsor of the US bill, to express astonishment anyone in the US was taking Alvarez seriously.

She said Alvarez's figure of 52,200 direct and indirect jobs was less than a third of official figures. Data from the Ministry of Industry and Trade revealed 73,900 direct jobs, while ISRAS-CCOO, a labour union institute, estimated 89,000 direct jobs and 99,861 indirect jobs, and forecast 270,000 direct jobs by 2020.

She described Alvarez's thesis as based on a simplistic, reductionist and short-term view of the problem. It ignored the benefits of lowering carbon emissions and of boosting the energy security of a country that had few fossil fuel resources on its own and was dependent on foreign supplies.

She said the Spanish government saw its renewable energy policy, which was based mostly on generous feed-in tariffs, as a successful and essential part of its strategy to fight the economic recession. She noted that Spain's electricity prices were below the EU average.

Much has been made of Spain's unemployment rate of around 18%, but this fails to take into account that its jobless rate stood at 25% before the renewable energy policy was introduced, and that most economists in Spain point to the housing industry's spectacular boom and bust as the primary cause of the gyrations in the jobless queues.

Alvarez, it turns out, is an avowed free marketer who does not believe in human-caused climate change. He is the founder of Fundaeion Juan de Marana, which argues against taxes of all kinds and is also a founding member of the Prague Group, which argues against human-induced climate change. According to the US-based Media Matters, he was a speaker at the Heartland Institute, where Australia's Senator Steve Fielding recently formed his views on climate change.

T. Boone Pickens fueling dialogue on clean-energy efforts
July 5, 2009

In July of last year, Dallas billionaire T. Boone Pickens began a $60 million advertising campaign and speaking tour designed to persuade Americans to stop using foreign oil. The oilman-turned-environmentalist proposed a seemingly simple plan: Convert cars, especially big fleets operated by companies and municipalities, from gasoline to domestic natural gas. And start generating more electricity from wind.

By the end of this year, Pickens predicts, Congress will finish passing laws to implement his plan. And within two years, oil imports will drop. "We have gotten everything we went after," he said. "I have people say it didn't go very fast. Go back and compare it to other things. I think we've moved very fast." But oil import data don't yet show much direct impact from Pickens' campaign, and a key new natural gas law hasn't made it out of legislative committee. He's persuaded some companies and municipalities to buy natural gas-powered fleets, but the numbers remain tiny.

Still, Pickens' $60 million bought remarkable influence. Because of Pickens, the term "foreign oil" entered the presidential campaigns, executive speeches and everyday discussions. And he brought many of his conservative followers into the discussion about clean energy through his warning about energy security, allowing them to discuss alternative energy without stepping into the thorny debate about whether humans cause climate change.

"When you have a successful investor from Texas, someone from a state that, some people say, doesn't care about clean energy, to have him come out as the champion, caught a lot of people by surprise and brought a lot of attention to the incumbent [energy companies] in Texas being part of the solution," said Paul Dickerson, a former executive with the U.S. Department of Energy and head of Haynes and Boone's clean technology practice.

Pickens would probably also benefit from his plan. Pickens invests in companies that produce natural gas and sell natural gas vehicle fuel, and a company that builds windfarms. His retort: "If I'd wanted to make money, I would have kept my $60 million."

On a mission
Instead, Pickens said, he felt he was on a mission that only he could accomplish. "I felt like it was a mission that you had to tell the American people, you now knew something that affected their lives, their future, their children and grandchildren and everybody else, generations to come. And you had properly analyzed it, you knew what the problem was, and you had a solution for the problem," he said.

Pickens has presented his plan to Republicans and Democrats, to top executives and blue collar workers, to President Barack Obama and Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Arlington, a longtime supporter of more domestic drilling, credits Pickens with persuading House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to support natural gas vehicles. "Apparently natural gas is not a fossil fuel," Barton said, tongue in cheek. (Of course, natural gas is a fossil fuel.)

The Sierra Club doesn't oppose Pickens, a longtime Republican supporter who decorates his office with Ronald Reagan memorabilia. "We haven't given out a wholesale endorsement of the plan, but at the same time, we think that natural gas is a good bridge fuel as we transition to a full clean-energy economy," said Josh Dorner, a spokesman for the Sierra Club.

natural gas burns more cleanly than oil or coal. Used in a vehicle, natural gas emits 70% less carbon monoxide, 87% less nitrogen oxide and 20% less carbon dioxide than gasoline vehicles, according to lobby group NGV America. Electric cars might be cleaner than natural gas, but only if the power is generated with cleaner technology, such as wind or solar. Most power in Texas comes from natural gas-fired plants.

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson, appointed by Obama, said Pickens "points out some really important policy issues." For example, Pickens rightly talks about the importance of building transmission lines to carry wind-generated power from rural areas to population centers, she said.

Drop in imports
U.S, oil imports dropped 14% in June from the year before, according to the government's Energy Information Administration. But that probably is due to the ailing economy rather than a shift to alternative fuels.

The number of natural gas vehicles on U.S, roads has risen in the past two years by only about 8% to around 120,000, according to Rich Kolodziej, president of NGV America, a natural gas vehicle lobby group. That's hardly enough vehicles to account for the oil import drop.

However, Kolodziej said, demand for natural gas vehicle fuel rose about 25% last year as older models, which could use either natural gas or petroleum fuels, are replaced with new, natural gas-only vehicles.

natural gas costs less than gasoline or diesel. How much less changes constantly. But the vehicle technology can be costly, and stations to fill up aren't always convenient. With few refueling stations outside of major cities, natural gas vehicles aren't as attractive to regular drivers who expect to use their cars for road trips. But the nation's supply of natural gas is growing rapidly.

A study released last month from the Potential Gas Committee, associated with the Colorado School of Mines, estimates that the U.S, has 2,074 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, 35% more than in 2006. The committee said the amount grew partly because of new technology, like that developed for the Barnett Shale.

Pickens said once all of the planks of his energy policy become law, it will only take a couple of years for oil imports to decline for good. That's only if the tax incentives are sweet enough to offset the extra costs and, in some cases, the inconvenience of using the technology.

Congress has passed the wind portion of the Pickens Plan, and wind energy capacity has already risen 50% during the past year. The stimulus bill includes money to upgrade the power grid, and Congress has passed incentives for wind and solar energy. In Texas, new transmission lines to accommodate more wind energy will cost electricity consumers around $5 billion. Still, Pickens is missing incentives for natural gas vehicles themselves.

In April, two representatives from Pickens' home state of Oklahoma, Dan Boren and John Sullivan, introduced legislation to extend and create tax incentives for natural gas vehicles and fuel. The bill hasn't been voted out of House committee.

The bill would extend natural gas fuel, vehicle and infrastructure tax credits for 18 years. The credits are scheduled to expire this year and next. It would also provide incentives for auto manufacturers to produce natural gas vehicles, and require half of all new, federal government vehicles to be capable of operating on natural gas by 2014.

Pickens Army
While Pickens hasn't accomplished everything he wants in the halls of Congress, he has amassed a following of 1.6 million people, known as the Pickens Army, through his Web site. Members write letters to their legislators, encouraging them to adopt the Pickens Plan. He is also meeting with executives, including those at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., to stump for his favorite fuel.

Last week, AT&T Inc, said it would spend $350 million converting 8,000 of its vehicles to run on natural gas, the largest such fleet in the country. AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson chose to include natural gas in his alternative fuel fleet after an hourlong meeting with Pickens.

Pickens is indirectly connected to the company that will carry out the conversions, BAF Technologies. Pickens sits on the board of natural gas fuel supplier Clean Energy, which loaned BAF money, according to Clean Energy spokesman Bruce Russell. The loan is convertible into a 49% stake in BAF.

LG Chem's Clean Energy Project Registered in UN

LG Chem has become the first South Korean company to be approved by the United Nations (UN) for its clean development mechanism (CDM) project. Its fuel-switching project in Naju, South Jeolla Province, has been registered in the UN and the company secured some 5 billion won ($3.9 million) worth of carbon emission rights, the company said Sunday.

This means the company, for the next 10 years, can invest in projects in other countries that would emit up to 200,000 metric tons of carbon dioxides (CO2) or its equivalent, according to certified emission reductions (CERs) issued by an executive board of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The carbon credits are based on the emissions-reduction achievement of the project.

The project at its Naju Plant retrofits boilers producing steam for the production process of petrochemical products to allow switching from bunker fuel oil C to natural gas, and was approved by the government in 2007.

It is estimated that the project will lead to a reduction of 225,040 metric tons of emissions over a 10-year period. The project is also expected to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life in the local area once the natural gas station is established, as natural gas will be supplied to the Naju area for household fuel, according to LG Chem.

''This is a successful case proving that companies can contribute to sustainable development in the region, as well as pursue profits,'' LG Chem Vice Chairman Kim Bahn-suk said in a statement. Under the Kyoto Protocol, the UN-managed CDM allows countries that have reduced greenhouse emissions to invest in projects which reduce emissions in developing countries in an attempt to reduce costs to be used in the same projects in their own countries.

South Korea's CDM business is the world's fourth largest with 146 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. The country is currently not subject to the emissions-cutting obligation under the Kyoto Protocol, but is likely to join the protocol in 2013.

Green power takes root in Chinese desert
July 05, 2009

DUNHUN, China: As the United States takes its first steps toward mandating that power companies generate more electricity from renewable sources, China already has a similar requirement and is investing billions to remake itself into a green energy superpower, the New York Times reported the other day. Through a combination of carrots and sticks, Beijing is starting to change how this country generates energy. Although coal remains the biggest energy source and is almost certain to stay that way, the rise of renewable energy, especially wind energy, is helping to slow China's steep growth in emissions of global warming gases.

While the House of Representatives approved a requirement last week that American utilities generate more of their power from renewable sources of energy, and the Senate will consider similar proposals over the summer, China imposed such a requirement almost two years ago. This year China is on track to pass the United States as the world's largest market for wind turbines after doubling wind energy capacity in each of the last four years. State-owned power companies are competing to see which can build solar plants fastest, though these projects are much smaller than the wind projects.

And other green energy projects, like burning farm waste to generate electricity, are sprouting up. This oasis town deep in the Gobi Desert along the famed Silk Road and the surrounding wilderness of beige sand dunes and vast gravel wastelands has become a center of China's drive to lead the world in wind and solar energy. A series of projects is under construction on the nearly lifeless plateau to the southeast of Dunhuang, including one of six immense wind energy projects now being built around China, each with the capacity of more than 16 large coal-fired power plants.

Each of the six projects "totally dwarfs anything else, anywhere else in the world," said Steve Sawyer, the secretary general of the Global Wind Energy Council, an industry group in Brussels. Some top Chinese regulators even worry that Beijing's mandates are pushing companies too far too fast. The companies may be deliberately underbidding for the right to build new projects and then planning to go back to the government later and demand compensation once the projects lose money.

The problem is we have so many stupid enterprises, said Li Junfeng, who is the deputy director general for energy research at China's top economic planning agency and the secretary general of the government-run Renewable Energy Industries Association. HSBC predicts that China will invest more money in renewable energy and nuclear energy between now and 2020 than in coal-fired and oil-fired electricity. That does not mean that China will become a green giant overnight. For one thing, Chinese power consumption is expected to rise steadily over the next decade as 720 million rural Chinese begin acquiring the air-conditioners and other power-hungry amenities already common among China's 606 million city dwellers.

As recently as the start of last year, the Chinese government's target was to have 5,000 MWs of wind energy installed by the end of next year, or the equivalent of eight big coal-fired power plants, a tiny proportion of China's energy usage and a pittance at a time when China was building close to two coal-fired plants a week.

But in March of last year, as power companies began accelerating construction of wind turbines, the government issued a forecast that 10,000 MWs would actually be installed by the end of next year. And now, just 15 months later, with construction of coal-fired plants having slowed to one a week and still falling, it appears that China will have 30,000 MWs of wind energy by the end of next year which was previously the target for 2020, Mr. Li said.

A big impetus was the governments requirement, issued in September 2007, that large power companies generate at least 3% of their electricity by the end of 2010 from renewable sources. The calculation excludes hydroelectric power, which already accounts for 21% of Chinese power, and nuclear energy, which accounts for 1.1%. Chinese companies must generate 8% of their power from renewable sources other than hydroelectric by the end of 2020.

The House bill in the United States resembles China's approach in imposing a renewable energy standard on large electricity providers. But the details make it hard to compare standards. The House bill requires large electricity providers in the United States to derive at least 15% of their energy by 2020 from a combination of energy savings and renewable energy including hydroelectric dams built since 1992. Chinese power companies are eager to invest in renewable energy not just because of the government's mandates, but because they are flush with cash and state-owned banks are eager to lend them more money. And there are few regulatory hurdles.

At the same time, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has temporarily banned three of the country's five main power companies from building more coal-fired power plants, punishment for their failure to comply with environmental regulations at existing coal-fired plants. China's renewable energy frenzy has been accelerating recently, especially in solar energy.

Last winter, winning bidders for three projects agreed to sell power to the national power grid for about 59 cents a kW hour. But this spring, when the government solicited offers to build and operate the 10-MW photovoltaic solar energy plant here in Dunhuang, the lowest bid was just 10 cents a kW hour so low the government rejected it as likely to result in losses for whatever state-owned bank lent money to build it.

The winning bidder was China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company, an entirely state-owned business that bid 16 cents a kW hour. (That was still far below last winter's price, but a two-thirds drop in raw material costs because of the global financial crisis has started to drive down the cost of solar panels, the chief expense for the winning bidder.)

Zheng Shuangwei, the company's general manager for northwest China, said that 22 or 23 cents would be more fair. The bid of 16 cents "is not a proper price," he acknowledged. "It's a bidding rate that is the result of competition." By comparison, the grid buys electricity from coal-fired power plants for 4 to 5 cents a kW hour. Wind turbine rates have dropped to 7 cents from 10 cents over the last couple of years because of fierce competition and declining turbine costs. The solar project still must go ahead Zheng said, because China has limited coal reserves 41 years at current rates of production and the potential for hydroelectric power is leveling off as most eligible rivers have already been dammed.

But technical obstacles to renewable energy are popping up. Sandstorms in Dunhuang in the spring, for instance, will cover solar panels and render them useless until they are cleaned after each storm by squads of workers using feather brushes to avoid scratching the panels, a process expected to take two days. And wind turbines are being built faster here than the national grid can erect high-voltage power lines to carry the electricity to cities elsewhere.

On the windiest days, only half the power generated can be transmitted, said Min Deqing, a local renewable energy consultant. Nonetheless, city officials are pushing for more projects. "It is the Gobi Desert," said Wang Yu, the vice director of economic planning. "There is not much other use for it."

DARPA Joins Blue Energy and World Energy in Race to Harness Ocean Power
July 4th, 2009

Blue Energy Canada Inc, and World Energy Research are moving quickly in that direction. After signing a memorandum of understanding last month, the two companies just announced a formal agreement to build a 200 MW, half-billion dollar commercial tidal power project based on Blue Energy's Davis Tidal Turbine. Meanwhile, DARPA (the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has been quietly working the other end of the scale to develop buoy-sized ocean power generating equipment

Geothermal firm to tap Perth city centre hot rocks
03 Jul 2009

Hot water could provide cold air for offices, data centres and housing estates. Australian geothermal specialist Green Rock Energy has this week announced it is to tap extensive geothermal resources under the city of Perth in order to power air-conditioning facilities at the University of Western Australia (UWA).

Geothermal resources are often used to provide heating in Europe and elsewhere, as well as electricity, but Green Rock's project is thought to be the first in the world to provide energy for air-conditioning, the use of which places the heaviest demand on electricity resources during peak demand periods over the Australian summer.

The project will replace UWA's electricity powered compression chillers, which provide cold water for air conditioning, with absorption chillers powered using geothermal heat. Green Rock chief executive Adrian Larking said the project will replace about 5MW, or one third, of the grid-supplied energy used to power the University's air conditioning plants.

Unlike other major metropolitan centres in Australia, the city of Perth sits atop a 15km deep sedimentary basin with numerous heated aquifers that can be used for geothermal energy. Two geothermal wells will be drilled on the campus to a depth of three kilometres to source the hot water, which has an estimated temperature of 100C. The hot water will then be pumped through a heat exchanger before being returned to the aquifer.

The temperature of the Perth aquifer is considered sufficient to provide heating and cooling facilities, but not enough to generate base-load electricity. If the UWA project is successful, Green Rock also hopes to strike an agreement to provide geothermal-powered heating and cooling for a new housing estate called Alkimos to be built north of Perth. It said the project had the potential to replace 50MW of conventional electricity consumption.

The company is also investigating the provision of heating and cooling facilities for other industrial and commercial buildings in the city, including office buildings, data centres, and cold storage facilities. Larking hopes to begin drilling later this year or early in 2010, with the view to bringing the project into production by 2011. If so, it will likely be the first commercial-scale geothermal project in Australia.

Pressure is on in race for new solar batteries
July 6, 2009

LG affiliates compete with each other for a share of the fast-growing market.

LG Electronics and LG Display, two affiliates of LG Group, are competing with each other to develop the next generation of thin-film solar batteries. The battery's greatest strength is its price competitiveness against the more widely used crystalline silicon solar cell. The manufacturing cost for thin-film solar cells is half that for crystalline silicon cells. It is expected thin-film solar batteries, which took up 13% of the world's solar battery market last year, will account for 30% of the global market in 2015.

But the largest hurdle the thin-film solar battery faces is its complicated manufacturing process. The conversion of solar energy into electricity has been difficult as a result. The two Korean companies, neither of which have the basic technology to manufacture crystalline cells, are trying to raise their share of the global solar battery market with the development of thin-film solar cells. And they may have something of an edge there, given that the technology is similar to that of liquid-crystal displays and light-emitting diodes, markets in which Korea has succeeded in recent years.

LG announced Thursday that its latest thin-film solar cell has attained the world's best energy efficiency. The 1.1-by-1.3-meter battery has an energy efficiency rating of 11.1%. This means that when 100 degrees of solar energy are injected into the solar battery, 11.1% is converted into electricity The previous record was held by Oerlikon, a Swiss company, with a record of 11%.

Paik Woo-hyun, LG Electronics' chief technical officer, said the company will develop the thin-film solar cell and crystalline silicon solar cell, which will go into mass production in the first quarter of next year, as the two pillars of the company's energy business.

The statement was made a month after LG Display announced plans to set up a research team devoted to developing the thin-film solar cell and a thin-film solar cell trial production line worth 50 billion won ($39.4 million). Currently, LG Display's thin-film solar cell has an energy efficiency rating of 8%. "Although we got a late start we plan to utilize our LCD technology to achieve 14% energy efficiency by 2012," said Park Sang-dae, a public relations officer at LG Display.

Smaller businesses such as Telio Solar Korea are also challenging their bigger competitors with their technology development. Telio Solar Korea in May developed a thin-filmed solar cell with an energy efficiency of 10.1%. It plans to manufacture the battery in the third quarter.

Monday 6 July 2009

Bright idea puts paid to power bills

Sun Herald
Sunday 5/7/2009 Page: 15

AS ENERGY bills rise by 20%, meet the man who pays nothing for electricity to power his four bedroom house. Warren Yates even managed to score a $10 credit from EnergyAustralia for selling electricity back to the grid - he is believed to be the only person in NSW to have done so - after covering his roof with a three kW solar energy system.

While average households will spend an extra $182 a year on electricity bills after last Wednesday's price rise, the Yates family home in Mosman creates more energy than it consumes. When domestic solar feed-in tariff rates rise from 27 cents for every kW hour not used, to a predicted 60 cents next January, Mr Yates estimates he will earn more money from electricity providers.

"I have become an energy geek," the 65-year-old engineering academic said. "I bought an appliance that measures how much electricity each appliance consumes so we can work out the most effective things to do for the least cost. It's become a game to minimise energy use without sacrificing comfort."

Mr Yates spent $30,000 installing the 18 solar panels, but he managed to claim $8000 back through the Howard government's solar energy rebate scheme. At first, we weren't self sufficient; it took us a while to get our energy consumption down," he said. Turning off the family computers overnight, running the dishwasher every couple of days and refusing to turn on the heating "unless we have visitors" were some of the tactics the family used to reduce consumption.

Most domestic solar electricity systems are only one or 1.5 kWs, which Mr Yates believes is too small to generate enough power to sell back to the grid. He installed a larger - and more expensive - system to power the household and faced the roof panels west to capture the afternoon sun. Most households with solar energy face the panels north to catch the sun all day, but Mr Yates said west-facing panels caught more intense afternoon sunlight, helping to power peak energy consumption in the evening.

Renewable energy firm Green Project said that as government policies covering grid feed-in tariffs and solar incentives improved, there would be more "net winners". Solar electricity "can put you ahead of the game to make sure you don't have to pay high energy bills", said the fine's head of operations, Esther Bailey.

EnergyAustralia's energy efficiency expert, Paul Myors, said most households with solar panels would need to significantly reduce energy consumption before earning money back. If you only have a 1kW system, you will probably only generate around 20 to 30% of the electricity an average household would use," he said.

Energy consultant Bruce Taper, who created BASIX, the Building Sustainability Index, agreed households wanting to sell energy back to power companies needed to become frugal with their electricity consumption.

Grab for green votes to make us pay while sun shines

Sunday Age
Sunday 5/7/2009 Page: 17

Victoria's solar energy feed-in scheme is built on empty promises, says Mary Aldred.

Solar energy would be great if it actually worked. And while state governments are falling over themselves to put up renewable energy schemes, taxpayers aren't getting a return on their money.

While the Federal Government has lost support over an early exit from its solar rebate scheme and the Senate has delayed the emissions trading bill, state governments have shot off on their own strange climate tangents. Instead of slashing emissions and boosting a self-sufficient industry, the schemes are a costly grab for votes. Put simply, state governments are throwing your money at feel-good schemes and empty promises.

For instance, the Victorian premium solar feed-in tariff is the latest on a list of State-inspired climate measures mined at encouraging uptake of renewable energy This Government reckons customers will reduce their average yearly electricity bill by about $600 under the scheme.

So far it's just numbers on paper, as green groups and industry slog it out over two models. The first- a "net" scheme- would see householders paid for unused solar-generated electricity that is fed back into the grid. But green groups are demanding a second "gross" scheme, under which householders would be paid for the electricity they use.

Since when were governments in the business of paying people for what they consume? Where would the extra money needed to pay for a "gross" feed-ht scheme come front? You guessed it: taxpayers. Although the details might be hazy, throw in the "climate change" bogie and Victorians are expected to cough up the dough. It is fiscally negligent of any government to force already struggling families to subsidise the solar energy consumed by other people who can afford their own solar panels.

Solar is largely a lifestyle choice that makes people feel good about their environmental morals, and any emissions cuts are minimal compared to what will be achieved under an emissions trading scheme. Emissions trading will also create a market for new energy technologies such as solar.

Those that can produce low emissions energy at the cheapest price will thrive. But that's not how state governments across Australia are playing it. The current schemes artificially prop up weak industries by creating government subsidies they can fall back on. And small, state based climate schemes, such as solar feed-in tariffs, wont even make a dent in Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.

After decades of economic reform by both sides of politics to wean industry dependence, it beggars belief that some sections of renewable energy are considered a special case for rent-seeking by state governments. Not only do the economic arguments not stack up; it gives viable sections of the renewable energy industry a bad rap.

Since grabbing for green votes has become a popular sport, state governments have been unable to resist introducing a wide range of ad hoc, overlapping legislation that doesn't do much except cost taxpayers a lot of money. Putting the focus back on cost and what works, the question that needs to be asked is: do these schemes warrant the huge cost? The clear answer is no.

Recently, NSW announced it would go ahead with a near identical feed-in tariff to the one proposed for Victoria. Yet it will return nearly $300 more to its householders than the Victorian scheme. Victorians have a right to ask why they deserve less than people living in an economic rust-bucket north of the border.

A national solar feed-in scheme was recommended by the 2008 Council of Australian Governments meeting for its consistency and to give badly needed policy certainty to the industry. On that basis alone, state-based schemes should be abolished in favour of a national scheme from which every Australian can benefit equally.

The problems with state-based climate policies that overlap a national program are the extra level of regulatory and cost burdens on industry; no extra benefit for consumers; and zero extra emissions abatement.

Complementary climate measures that support emissions trading play a role - but not when they are two government layers thick and poorly designed. State governments need to look beyond drowning consumers in a quagmire of green tape that they are forced to bankroll. At the moment, it's just window dressing for votes, with no real value.

Mary Aldred is an energy industry consultant.

73-turbine wind farm given nod

Canberra Times
Saturday 4/7/2009 Page: 9

A $250 million windfarm at Gullen Range near Crookwell has received development approval from the NSW Government. Despite the approval, the project, by Epuron, will not progress until the Federal Government legislates for 20% mandatory renewable energy. Project director Simon Davey said this had been a pillar of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's election platform. For political reasons, it had been linked to the emissions trading scheme.

Epuron executive director Andrew Durran said it was up to the Federal Government to stop delaying the expansion of renewable energy in Australia and implement the renewable energy target legislation. The project's approval, announced yesterday by NSW Planning Minister Kristina Keneally, coincides with the imminent commissioning of a 63-turbine windfarm between Bungendore and Tarago. It is claimed most of the electricity from that $280 million project will power Sydney's desalination plant. The remainder will be sold into the national electricity grid. The 73-turbine Gullen Range windfarms will be about 25km west of Goulburn.

Mr Davey said it would generate electricity equivalent to the average consumption of 63,000 homes. He claims it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. The project would create about 150 jobs during construction and 15 operational jobs. Ms Keneally said conditions of approval included reducing from 84 to 73 the number of turbines to reduce possible impacts on the operations of nearby Crookwell airport.

Epuron would have to provide landscape screening and had agreed to operational restrictions when juvenile powerful owls began flying in the area. Mr Davey said construction of the wind farms would begin within two years of legislation setting the 20% mandatory renewable energy target. Construction was expected to take about another two years.

Meanwhile, Epuron was completing environmental studies for a 182-turbine windfarm about 25km west of Yass. As with the Gullen Range site, the mach larger project, to be built on three precincts, had excellent wind. Despite development approval in October 2005 for a $100 million windfarm on the Woodlawn and Pylara properties near Tarago, the project remains stalled with no purchaser for the electricity it would produce.

ActewAGL is one of four partners in that project, which would have about 25 turbines. ActewAGL general manager of business development and strategy Dianne O'Hara said yesterday dialogue continued between the four partners on how best to progress the project. Construction of a 60-turbine wind farms on the Molonglo Ridge, about 15km south east of Queanbeyan, was cancelled in May last year by Acciona Energy.

Renewable energy may cost less than coal power

Sydney Morning Herald
Friday 3/7/2009 Page: 6

USING more renewable power in Sydney would make electricity bills more affordable, according to a study prepared for the CSIRO that challenges assumptions about cheap coal-fired energy. More intelligent use of the existing energy grid could slash greenhouse gas emissions and cut household power bills by up to $60 a year, the report from the University of Technology Sydney shows.

On Wednesday the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal gave utilities permission to raise energy bills by a fifth, or up to $200 a year for some families. The study looked at five scenarios for NSW, ranging from building more coal-fired power stations, as recommended by the 2007 Owen review of the state's energy needs, to a large energy efficiency campaign combined with more renewable power.

It found building baseload power using coal was much more expensive than focusing on energy efficiency and tapping into a network of small "co-generation" power sources sprinkled in the suburbs. That conclusion was reached without factoring in the increased costs to fossil fuel generators that would be imposed if Australia brings in a carbon trading scheme. Carbon trading is expected to raise the costs of greenhouse-intensive power like coal even more.

"Even though we decided to be very conservative in our estimates of costs for coal, it still shows that there is no reason why we should see coal as cheap, and renewable power as expensive - it's more interesting than that," said Chris Dunstan, a researcher at the university s Institute for Sustainable Futures.

Cogeneration, or the similar tri generation, involves installing small, efficient low-emissions power plants in buildings and using them to power structures in nearby streets. The Owen inquiry found there would be a shortfall in the state's baseload power by 2014 and recommended that a new power station should be built to compensate. Yet energy demand in the past two years has not increased as fast as the 2007 inquiry forecast.

Building a new coal-fired power station to meet demand before 2020 would cumulatively cost up to $30 billion, while building the infrastructure to supply the grid from more local low-emissions sources plants would total about $27 billion over the next decade, the university report calculated. The study, released this week, is part of a wider project for which the CSIRO commissioned five universities to examine Australia's energy sector and look at ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The City of Sydney is the only council seriously planning for a network of small cogeneration plants. The Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, confirmed this week that the council intended to build a tri generation plant in the basement of Town Hall, with a view to supplying the QVB and possibly other surrounding buildings with energy.

"I have proposed a pilot project.., in partnership with a project by Frasers Property at the former Carlton United Brewery site," Cr Moore told business leaders on Wednesday. "Our restoration of Prince Alfred Park provides another opportunity for tri generation, and our consultants are now working on options for distributing lighting, heating and cooling for the project itself and parts of the surrounding neighbourhood."

Stress test for power generators

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Friday 3/7/2009 Page: 1

The Federal Government has asked Morgan Stanley to examine claims by the Energy Supply Association of Australia that the proposed emissions trading scheme could cause electricity generators financial distress and create disruptions to the national energy market.

The investment bank will study power stations such as International Power's Hazelwood, TRUEnergy's Yallourn, Babcock and Brown Power's Flinders and the Intergen-supported Millmerran and Callide C. Coal-fired generators have already held talks with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on concerns that they could breach licensing requirements following the introduction of an ETS.

A source at one major generator complaining 'we are being treated like polluters and terrorists,' while others have described the approach to the issue by the Minister for Climate Change, Penny Wong, as 'ideological.' The new study follows research commissioned by the industry from KPMG and Ernst & Young, which found asset write-downs would reach into multiple billions.

New standards on energy efficiency

Friday 3/7/2009 Page: 5

INEFFICIENT hot water systems will be phased out and all appliances will be properly labelled under new national energy efficiency standards as part of a 10-year energy efficiency plan adopted by the Council of Australian Governments yesterday. And state and territory leaders have also agreed to streamline and harmonise processes for building applications to reduce red tape and costs for developers.

While much of the focus at COAG was on indigenous affairs yesterday, the leaders continued with a rolling agenda of other reforms, including energy efficiency measures that they expect will make a significant impact on carbon emissions. Measures to improve the energy efficiency of appliances are expected to reduce emissions by the same amount as would be achieved by removing 4.8 million cars from the nations roads.

The changes will include national legislation for improved labelling and energy ratings as well as a major push to begin next year to phase inefficient electric hot water systems. From next year, all new homes and commercial buildings will have to meet energy rating standards. COAG also agreed to accelerate the phase-out of inefficient lighting, beginning with a ban on incandescent light globes to start in November.

Kevin Rudd said last night that energy efficiency was the "low hanging fruit" of greenhouse gas abatement, with analysis from the International Energy Agency indicating cost-effective energy efficiency improvements could provide savings equivalent to one fifth of projected global energy related emissions in 2030.

"Through the combination of incentives, consumer and business education and carefully targeted regulation, the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency will fundamentally change the policy settings for energy efficiency across Australia," the Prime Minister said.

Mr Rudd said the premiers had agreed to continue their program of micro-economic reforms designed to create a seamless economy in which it would be easier and cheaper for businesses to operate across the nation. The leaders agreed to create a single system of development assessment processes covering all three levels of government, with major nation-building programs to be dealt with by one coordinator who would address all approval requirements. Building codes will be harmonised, with the states agreeing to measure their performance to ensure better approval times.

In a further change to make shipping more efficient, the Australian Maritime Authority will become the single regulator for all maritime safety. At present, it is responsible only for interstate shipping movements. The leaders also agreed to improve efficiency in the trucking industry by creating a single national heavy vehicle regulator responsible for inspection standards, safe driving hours, mass limits and registration.

Altona Project - Evaluation pact

Adelaide Advertiser
Friday 3/7/2009 Page: 80

Altona has signed an agreement with Chinese company CNOOC New Energy Investment which could lead to the full funding of the evaluation of its Arckaringa project. Altona is doing a bankable feasibility study on the viability of a 10 million-barrel-a-year coal-to-liquids plant with a 560MW cogeneration power facility in South Australia's Far North.

Sun rises on a world-first

Adelaide Advertiser
Friday 3/7/2009 Page: 5

Whyalla's 301 days of annual sunshine will be driving the world's first solar energy station, producing electricity 24 hours a day by this time next year. The $15 million plant will again put South Australia's regional areas at the forefront of sustainable and emission-free energy production. It will also address the problem of finding an emission-free electricity source capable of providing a base-load, or 24-hour, power supply, which is a necessity for the world to combat climate change.

Construction of the solar thermal power plant, Whyalla Solar Oasis, began last week. It will initially comprise four "Big Dishes" while the technology is demonstrated, generating power for up to 1000 homes. The long-term plan is for 600 dishes to be built, each 500sq in in area, in a 2km by 1km area at the city's northern entrance.

The expanded plant is expected to generate about 130 GWs of power a year, enough for 19,000 average homes and preventing 129,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions being produced - equal to that generated by 36,000 cars each year. Whyalla Council deputy mayor Eddie Hughes said it was "incredibly exciting" for work to start after 12 years of planning and 30 years of research by the Australian National University.

UK could generate £70bn from wind, wave power – Carbon Trust
2 July

The UK offshore wind and wave power markets could be worth £70 billion ($115 billion) and provide at least 15% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reductions needed to meet the country's 2050 targets, said the Carbon Trust today.

At the launch of its 'Clean Tech Revolution' campaign, the company - set up by the UK government to aid the transition to a low-carbon economy - said that developing the offshore wind energy sector could have a net economic value of £65 billion and create 220,000 jobs by 2050, through developing the technology in the UK rather than importing it. To support this, up to £600 million is needed for R&D as well as the lifting of regulatory barriers and mechanisms to accelerate the deployment of offshore wind energy.

And with 25% of global wave power technology already being developed in the UK, the country is poised to be the "natural owner" of this market, said the Carbon Trust. This could generate £2 billion per year by 2050 and support 16,000 jobs directly, plus an unquantified number of secondary service jobs.

"These technologies are not green 'nice to haves', but are critical to the economic recovery of the UK," said Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust. "To reap the significant rewards from their successful development, we must prioritise and comprehensively back the technologies that offer the best chance of securing long-term carbon savings, jobs and revenue for Britain... The global race is clearly on and the clock is ticking." He added that the UK needs to focus on technology prioritisation, and channel public support to technologies that offer the maximum impact on cutting CO2 emissions and generating economic benefit for the country.

As part of the campaign, launched today, the Carbon Trust will be launching 15 R&D and technology acceleration projects this year, adding to the 40 already underway.

Renewables industry pushes for tougher targets
2 July

Renewable energy advocates have welcomed the momentum toward adoption of a US federal renewable electricity standard (RES), but vowed to keep pushing for a stronger mandate.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act, sponsored by Congressmen Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, was the first bill to pass a house of Congress that would cap greenhouse gas emissions. However, it also requires electric utilities to meet 20% of their electricity demand through renewable energy and improved energy efficiency by 2020. Although lower than the 25% target featured in the initial Waxman-Markey proposal, the bill passed on 26 June surpasses the 15% by 2021 requirement adopted by the Senate energy and natural resources committee last month.

"We need to strengthen the RES," said Tim Howell, commercial leader, power & renewable energy for GE Energy Financial Services in Stamford, Connecticut. "We're going to have to keep pressure on Washington." Utilities selling more than 4 million MW hours of electricity a year would be required to source 6% of their power from renewable sources or reduce demand through energy efficiency initiatives by 2012, increasing to 15% from renewable energy sources and 5% from energy efficiency improvements by 2020, according to the House bill.

Since about 20% of US electricity is produced by entities below the threshold, it makes the bill "less aggressive" in driving renewable energy production, said Jack Ihle, Washington-based associate director of climate change and clean energy for energy market information firm IHS Inc.

The momentum for a federal RES after years of stalled efforts in Congress bodes well for the renewable energy sector, said Gabriel Alonso, CEO of Horizon Power Wind Energy in Houston, Texas. "I'm confident we will have a RES that will make a difference in the near future," he said.

But the federal targets are seen by renewable energy developers as insufficient to spur significant demand beyond that which is already driven by state mandates. "Some states already have more aggressive goals than [the federal RES bills] so the higher the better," said Pat Agudow, vice-president of administration and policy management for solar product supplier Opel International in Shelton, Connecticut.

Congress should encourage renewable energy development in US regions without standards, specifically the south-east, while doing nothing to discourage the states that already have mandates, either through pre-emption or an adverse interaction with carbon legislation, said John Geesman, co-chairman of the board of directors of the American Council on Renewable Energy in Washington, DC.

"That's a difficult legal balance," he said. "But I think if you look at most of the states with aggressive [renewable portfolio standard] programmes, there's less interest in the positive side of federal legislation and more apprehension of the potential negative effect."

The House bill clarifies that US states can implement feed-in tariffs, a mechanism designed to encourage renewable energy development by requiring utilities to purchase energy generated by renewables at above-market rates set by the government. Since the House has adopted the RES with the feed-in tariff, the Senate will be lobbied heavily to include it in its bill, Agudow said. California adopted a feed-in tariff in 2008 to support the development of up to 480MW of renewable generating capacity from small facilities while other states are considering implementing tariffs.

The feed-in tariff provides guaranteed rates of return for long periods of time and requires the least amount of up-front capital from the government, but can be vulnerable to fraud if the programmes are improperly structured, said Frank Middleton, vice-president of marketing for Opel. "The feed-in tariff is the one we're favouring the most because we've seen how well it's worked in Europe," he said. "It's not the perfect model, but it's probably the best model we know of."