Friday 31 July 2009

Australia signs new trade agreement with Korea

Clean Energy Council
31 July 2009

CANBERRA: Australia's Clean Energy Council (CEC) today signed a new cooperative clean tech agreement with the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) – a first between the two countries. "This agreement strengthens Australia's ties with Korea and will drive investment and development in clean tech between both nations," said Matthew Warren Chief Executive Clean Energy Council. "It will also help to drive regional investment and clean tech development in Asia through education and training, the promotion of clean and renewable energy technologies and products and the sharing of information and networks," Mr Warren added.

Dr Ki-Sik Park, Executive Vice President for Strategic Business KOTRA said this agreement will expand the possibilities and opportunities to cooperate with the Australian renewable industry. This is the second international agreement the CEC has signed in the past week as it continues to build strategic opportunities for Australia's renewable energy industry in the lead up to Copenhagen.

For more information on the Clean Energy Council please visit

Humber tidal power rig opens
July 29, 2009

The Humber estuary has become a source of renewable electricity thanks to pioneering technology developed in Hull. The technology, which was created by Hull company Pulse Tidal, in association with the city's university, converts shallow wave power into energy. It works by employing horizontal blades which move in the tidal power stream and drive a generator. As reported by the Mail, a prototype rig was lowered into the Humber off Immingham in September last year.

After taking several months to install and commission, it became officially operational yesterday. Pulse Tidal commercial director, Dr Howard Nimmo, said he was absolutely delighted the power had finally been turned on. He said: "It is the culmination of five years of hard work, motivated by a strong belief it could be achieved." Working at full capacity, the rig produces a total of 100 kWs of electricity – enough to power about 70 homes.

The power is being fed directly to Immingham chemical company Millennium Inorganic Chemicals (MIC), making it the first business in the UK to take a direct electricity feed from tidal power. Now Pulse Tidal is working on extending the technology to product a rig capable of generating one MW of power, 10 times the size of the one located in the Humber. The machine will eventually operate in conjunction with other generators in a what has been described as an "off-shore power station".

The company believes wave power will surpass wind turbines as the most economic source of offshore, renewable, power. Chief executive, Bob Smith, said: "According to the latest figures, offshore wind energy costs between eight pence and 11p per kW-hour to produce. "We believe the Pulse system will be more cost-effective than offshore wind after only one 200 MW (generator) has been installed."

Desert Sun: Acciona Wants in on Desertec Solar Project
July 28, 2009

Europe's plan to tap the Sahara sun for clean electricity may still be just a notion—but it's an increasingly attractive one for some companies. Spain's Acciona, a big clean-energy player, said yesterday it wants to get into the Desertec Foundation Industrial Initiative, a $500 billion project to put solar- and wind-power plants in North Africa to brings lots of clean energy to Europe. Clean Tech Insight reports: "'We are holding the first talks in order to get on board as soon as possible,' Acciona Chairman Juan Manuel Entrecanales said Monday. 'It's an ambitious project, but possible in the mid- and long-term.'"

Most of the companies in the consortium are German, including Siemens, Munich Re, and RWE. Spain's Abengoa is a founding member of the group. But Acciona's interest is understandable: It has been plowing into concentrated solar energy lately, the centerpiece of the Desertec Foundation idea. On Monday, Acciona unveiled its first concentrated solar project in Spain; it has operated another solar plant in Nevada for two years.

The Sahara's appeal as a possible home for the new solar technology is easy to see: The desert is wide open, and concentrated solar thermal requires lots of space. Acciona's new Spanish plant, for instance, requires 321 acres for a 50 MW plant. In contrast, a 1,000 MW nuclear plant needs about 25 acres. Then there are the costs. concentrated solar energy has an advantage compared to other renewable energies, including wind energy, because the electricity can be stored. But it's not cheap: The World Resources Institute estimates that concentrated solar energy can compete with coal when carbon prices hit $115 a ton—an eight-fold increase over current prices for carbon permits in Europe.

Governments slow to come clean on coal

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Thursday 30/7/2009 Page: 60

'Clean coal' was described by Al Gore as being like a healthy cigarette, it does not exist.

Reserve Bank of Australia board member Warwick McKibbin is also sceptical about the Federal Government's decision to commit $2.8 billion to prove the controversial practice of capturing greenhouse gas emissions and storing them deep underground. Mr McKibbin, who is a professor of economics at the Australian National University, said it was a bizarre idea and that the technology has never worked in the past and will not work this time.

Early attempts at carbon capture storage (CCS) research have failed. This involves capturing carbon dioxide emissions produced during the production of power from coal and piping it into geological formations deep underground. Projects that failed or were abandoned include the Queensland government's ZeroGen project, Santos' Moomba carbon storage facility, and Rio and BHP Billiton's $2 billion plan to sequester carbon dioxide under the sea floor off Perth. Coal is a huge industry that grabs the attention of governments.

At the Major Economies Forum in Italy, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd won backing from United States President Barack Obama for the launch of an Australian institute that wants to coordinate the building of 20 CCS plants around the world by 2020. The latest BP Statistical Review of World Coal found coal is the world's fastest-growing fuel with an increase in consumption of 3.1%. A recent study by Manfred Lenzen of the Sydney University's Centre for Integrated Sustainability Analysis found that coal gained twice as much money worldwide in subsidies compared with nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydropower combined. The study was commissioned by the Australian Uranium Association.

According to the Australian Coal Association, minerals and energy companies are the largest source of Queensland-based revenue. The head of the Co-operative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies, Peter Cook, believes two to four CCS projects will be operating in Australia by 2020. Cook said that the view of the International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is more fossil fuels will be used in the future. Calling for an accelerated national strategy to develop low-emission coal technologies is Dick Wells, who chairs the National Low Emissions Coal Council.

Turbine refusal backed

Hobart Mercury
Thursday 30/7/2009 Page: 14

A HOBART alderman who objected to wind turbines on the roof of one of the city's tallest buildings says the proposal was refused on planning grounds, not because the council was "full of hicks". But the Hobart City Council was taking steps to prevent a similar development by building owner Robert Rockefeller at the Marine Board building. Ald Darlene Haigh's comments follow reports that the owner of the ANZ Centre in Elizabeth St is taking legal action over the council's decision on Monday to reject a proposal for four 11-metre high wind turbines that will ultimately generate up to 10% of the building's energy.

Designer Bruce Lipscombe is also considering altering the project to get it passed. Turbines on the Marine Board building are being considered by the Sullivans Cove Waterfront Authority. Ald Haigh, chairwoman of the council's development and environmental service committee, confirmed the concerns would be put to the SCWA. But she denied those who rejected the development were "anti-development".

"We're not full of hicks, we don't have closed minds. This decision has been made on the grounds of planning," she said. "There is no provision for a development such as this in the council's planning scheme and if we had given it the go ahead then we would be setting precedence." Premier David Bartlett has also criticised the council's rejection of the turbines. "I am not a professional planner but I am disappointed that the first innovative idea I have seen in a little while in renewable energy has been knocked back." he said.

Thursday 30 July 2009

Pluto has its moment in the sun

Sydney Morning Herald
Wednesday 29/7/2009 Page: 24

Solar innovator Stuart Wenham is this year's sustainability champion.
SOLAR cell technology is the world's fastest-growing energy source. Most of us know about it but not many know that an Australian has been responsible for helping to develop and grow the technology since its infancy.

The director of ARC Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence at the University of New South Wales, Professor Stuart Wenham, is one of the world's most influential researchers in the field of photovoltaics and has set the international benchmark for first-, second- and third generation solar cell performance.

His latest developed technologies - Semiconductor Finger and Pluto - are now entering full-scale commercial production and follow on from the success of the buried contact solar cell, which is the most successfully commercialised solar cell technology in the past 20 years, with sales exceeding $US500 million.

For the past 25 years, Wenham has been involved in both the scientific innovation of the technology as well as its application. He has taken silicon cell technology from the laboratory to the factory floor on a large scale, an achievement that has placed Australia at the focal point of renewable-energy research and commercialisation.

His work has won him accolades and international awards including joint winner of the Australia Prize in 1999 and winner of both the World Technology Award for Energy (2006) and Clunies Ross Award (2008). In 2001, the buried contact solar cell was named in the top 100 Australian inventions of the 20th century. His achievements have not just been in innovation and invention but in his capacity to implement these in commercial entities.

His work in making solar cell technology a commercial opportunity was responsible for the establishment of the largely Australian owned and controlled SunTech Power Co Ltd in 2001, the world's third-largest photovoltaic manufacturer. He has given his time, skill and expertise in ensuring that sustainable energy is recognised globally.

He also leads the team of academics responsible for developing and implementing the world's first degree in photovoltaic engineering and one of the first degrees internationally in renewable-energy engineering, with a combined enrollment of 445 students this year.

Coal exemption would cost $10 billion

Sydney Morning Herald
Wednesday 29/7/2009 Page: 3

EXEMPTING the coal industry from the emissions trading scheme would cost the scheme $10 billion in revenue over 10 years and force the Government to either cut compensation to households and other sectors or take money from the budget, Government experts say. Senior departmental officials are urging the Government to stand firm as the coal industry and the Opposition increase demands for more money, free permits or exemption for coal. The officials are also privately disputing claims by Mr Turnbull and the coal sector that the scheme being developed in the United States will treat polluting industries more favourably than the Australian scheme.

Today the coal sector is running more newspaper advertisements warning of job losses in NSW and Queensland. Yesterday Mr Turnbull used a business speech in Sydney to call again for the legislation to be delayed until early next year - after the international climate conference in Copenhagen and by which time the shape of the US scheme should be clearer.

But Mr Turnbull conceded that because the Government was determined to press ahead, it was likely the Coalition would crunch a deal before the end of the year, thus avoiding a trigger for a double dissolution. "We believe the scheme would be best legislated.., or finalised after Copenhagen, but we will participate constructively in the debate about the design of the scheme in the course of this year," he said.

The comment earned Mr Turnbull another broadside from the renegade Liberal backbencher Wilson Tuckey, who sent his Coalition colleagues another emailyesterday, blaming a drop in the polls on the attempts by Mr Turnbull and the Coalition to deal on the scheme this year. For those who wish to blame party division for their polling demise, just remember who broke ranks," Mr Tuckey wrote.

Is it just possible we could get on awinner and criticise the ETS as the wrong solution to climate change?" Last week, after an internal party brawl about when or if the Coalition should try and amend the bill, Mr Turnbull tried to unite the party behind a new position consisting of nine changes the Coalition would demand. One of these involved exemptions for coal.

Under the proposed scheme, the coal industry is not counted as a heavy polluter or entitled to free permits. Most coalmines are lowemitting, open-cut projects that would have to pay for permits, and officials say this would add between $1.50 and $2.50 to the price of each tonne of coal.

The worst affected are 23 gassy, methane-emitting mines in NSW and Queensland. They pollute so much that the cost of permits would increase the price per tonne of coal from these mines by $20 to $25. Rather than giving them free permits and allowing them to go on polluting, the Government wants to give them $750 million to implement measures to reduce emissions. Government officials argue this would lower the mines' emissions liability on a permanent basis, whereas exempting the coal sector, or giving it free permits, would cost $10 billion over a decade in lost revenue.

Siemens Sweden produces steam turbines for solar thermal power plants
July 28, 2009

Siemens Sweden produces steam turbines for solar thermal power plants which generate power without emission of carbon dioxide. The factory is located in Finspång in Norrköping, an hour by train from Stockholm. The factory began to manufacture steam turbines since 1913. Now the company can produce turbines to use nearly 100% solar energy to produce electricity. Lars-Göran Sjöberg, chief of the Steam Turbine's Division of Siemens Turbomachinery told us about the history of solar energy usage.

"The first solar energy collector was developed by a Philadelphia inventor, Frank Shuman and was established in Egypt in 1912. The collectors were installed in a small community 25 kilometer south of Cairo. The 70 meter long sun power collectors were used to produce steam which drove the large water pump. Together they produced an equivalent of 55 horsepower and was capable to deliver 23 cubic meter water per minute for irrigation of the dry land."

It is well known that the advantage of solar energy is that the fuel is free, abundant and inexhaustible. In the face of global warming, solar projects are proving increasingly valuable cutting the use of energy and greenhouse gas emission. Sjöberg said Siemens solar turbines are sold in the US, Spain, Algeria and Egypt and they are keen to open the market to more places that are suitable for solar energy development such as Asia, Africa and Latin America. Their products include SST-700 DRH, ISCCS or SST-900 and SST-600 steam turbine for solar energy plants.

Solar power technologies
One type of solar technique is to use mirror to focus the sunlight on to a tower and the heat will be transferred into a steam cycle or other kind of heat-receiving medium, such as liquid sodium. The linear Fresnel concept uses flat mirrors close to the ground to reflect and concentrate sunlight on water-refilled pipes that hang over the mirrors.

In a parabolic trough plant, sunlight is focused onto a receiver tube filled with thermal oil in the center of the parabolic mirror collectors, the heat being transferred via heat exchangers to the steam turbine, which generates electrical power. In all cycles, surplus heat can be stored in large storage tanks and used to extend the running hours of the steam turbine during times without sun radiation. Siemens turbine technology can fit all of these concentrated solar energy (CSP)concepts.

For a typical Spain solar steam turbine, investment can reach 260 to 300 million Euro. But steam turbine only accounts for 5-8% of total investment. The solar field can be approximately 80 football fields in size. Thermal storage can be up to 6-7 hours of full operation.

In order to justify the high investment cost for a CSP plant, which will not be run 24 hours per day, high demands for efficiency and increasing economic returns are imposed on the steam turbine used in the process. Siemens has cooperated closely with leading solar thermal EPC companies to develop and finetune the SST-700 DRH(dual-casing reheat) steam turbine, now optimized for solar steam cycles and capable of generating up to 175 MW in CSP applications.

This highly efficient turbine with its high-speed, high pressure module enables a smaller solar mirror collector field with associated reduction in investment cost for generation of the required electrical power output. Alternatively, the surplus heat can be put into thermal storage to extend the production time for the plant. The reheat solution improves efficiency and reduces problems with erosion/corrosion and moisture in the LP turbine, according to Mr. Sjöberg.

Excellent daily-cycling capacity
When focusing on annual power production, the short start-up times the turbine can provide are of great benefit to the CSP plant owner. Daily cycling and temperature variations require special attention. The SST-700 DRH, with its low-mass rotors and casings, is ideal for daily cycling and has a low minimum load, enabling maximum running hours per day for plants without heat storage. The cycle has also been optimized for stand-still at night and rapid restart in the mornings. The SST-700 DRH uses high quality materials specially chosen for long and trouble free operation in a solar plant, bearing in mind the potential wear and tear of the special cycle conditions.

In Southern Spain, due largely to government-granted price surplus for solar-produced power from units under 50 MW, the 50-MW size has proved to have the optimal fit and flexibility for single or multiple units. Advantages of the solution is flexibility, long lifetime, high availability and reliability, short start up time, fast and easy assembly, lower installation cost, high efficiency and savings on the solar field, Sjöberg claimed that Siemens' solar thermal experience is best in class and the solidity and reach of the Siemens global network is an advantage in terms of security of investment, supply and after-sales service. "Our experience shows that customers still want the best product even if the price is a bit higher," said Sjöberg confidently.

ISCCS-integrated Solar Combined-Cycle System
For excellent performance and attractive emission reduction, parabolic troughs can be effectively integrated with a conventional combined-cycle plant as well as a steam-cycle plant.

The Siemens ISCSS(integrated Solar Combined-Cycle System) is a single-casing high pressure non-reheat unit, suited to demands of the combined cycle. This SST-900 can be used with any gas turbine or in combination with one or more Siemens 47 MW SGT-800 gas turbines, as in a pioneering ISCCS in Morocco.

This configuration is doubly effective. It not only minimizes the investment associated with the solar field by sharing components with the combined cycle, it also reduces the CO2 emissions associated with a conventional plant. The integration maximizes operation efficiency even though solar energy intensity varies according to the weather and time of the day. Peak thermal-to-electric efficiency can exceed 70% for an ISCCS plant compared to 50/55% for a conventional gas-fired combined cycle plant.

Although the SST-700DRH turbine configuration is the most used on the market, all Siemens steam turbines have the potential for solar applications. Demonstration tests are currently underway with leading institutions in Spain and Germany to test both the lower end of the industrial turbine range-around 1.5 MW and also the mid-range around 20 MW-in solar tower applications. One commercial order has been placed for a 19 MW SST-600 steam turbine for the solar tower project Solar Tres in southern Spain.

Sjöberg said market trends indicate that solar energy will increase up to 20 fold in the midterm future. The benefits of solar energy are compelling: environmental protection, economic growth, job creation, diversity of fuel supply and rapid deployment technology transfer and innovation. solar thermal technology undoubtedly has a large global potential. Where there is sun there is heat, where there is heat, there is power-clean and renewable power. And the Siemens industrial turbine ensures that customer confidence is not misplaced, said Sjöberg.

Kenya to build Africa's biggest windfarm
27 July 2009

With surging demand for power and blackouts common across the continent, Africa is looking to solar, wind and geothermal technologies to meet its energy needs One of the hottest places in the world is set to become the site of Africa's most ambitious venture in the battle against global warming. Some 365 giant wind turbines are to be installed in desert around Lake Turkana in northern Kenya – used as a backdrop for the film The Constant Gardener – creating the biggest windfarm on the continent. When complete in 2012, the £533m project will have a capacity of 300MW, a quarter of Kenya's current installed power and one of the highest proportions of wind energy to be fed in a national grid anywhere in the world.

Until now, only north African countries such as Morocco and Egypt have harnessed wind energy for commercial purposes on any real scale on the continent. But projects are now beginning to bloom south of the Sahara as governments realise that harnessing the vast wind potential can efficiently meet a surging demand for electricity and ending blackouts.

Already Ethiopia has commissioned a £190m, 120MW farm in Tigray region, representing 15% of the current electricity capacity, and intends to build several more. Tanzania has announced plans to generate at least 100MW of power from two projects in the central Singida region, more than 10% of the country's current supply. In March, South Africa, whose heavy reliance on coal makes its electricity the second most greenhouse-gas intensive in the world, became the first African country to announce a feed-in tariff for wind energy, whereby customers generating electricity receive a cash payment for selling that power to the grid.

Kenya is trying to lead the way. Besides the Turkana project, which is being backed by the African Development Bank, private investors have proposed establishing a second windfarm near Naivasha, the well-known tourist town. And in the Ngong hills near Nairobi, the Maasai herders and elite long-distance athletes used to braving the frigid winds along the escarpment already have towering company: six 50m turbines from the Danish company Vestas that were erected last month and will add 5.1MW to the national grid from August. Another dozen turbines will be added at the site in the next few years.

Christopher Maende, an engineer from the state power company KenGen, which is running the Ngong farm and testing 14 other wind sites across the country, said local residents and herders were initially worried that noise from the turbines would scare the animals. "Now they are coming to admire the beauty of these machines," he said.

Kenya's electricity is already very green by global standards. Nearly three-quarters of KenGen's installed capacity comes from hydropower, and a further 11% from geothermal plants, which tap into the hot rocks a mile beneath the Rift Valley to release steam to power turbines.

Currently fewer than one-in-five Kenyans has access to electricity but demand is rising quickly, particularly in rural areas and from businesses. At the same time, increasingly erratic rainfall patterns and the destruction of key water catchment areas have affected hydroelectricity output. Low water levels caused the country's largest hydropower dam to be shut down last month. As a short-term measure KenGen is relying on imported fossil fuels, such as coal and diesel. But within five years the government wants to drastically reduce the reliance on hydro by adding 500MW of geothermal power and 800MW of wind energy to the grid.

Not only are they far greener options than coal or diesel, but the country's favourable geology and Meteorology make them cheaper alternatives over time. The possibility of selling carbon credits to companies in the industrialised world is an added financial advantage. "Kenya's natural fuel should come from the wind, hot underground rock and the sun, whose potential has barely even been considered," said Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the United Nations Environment Programme. "After the initial capital costs this energy is free."

The Dutch consortium behind the Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) project has leased 66,000 hectares of land on the eastern edge of the world's largest permanent desert lake. The volcanic soil is scoured by hot winds that blow consistently year round through the channel between the Kenyan and Ethiopian highlands.

According to LTWP, which has an agreement to sell its electricity to the Kenya Power & Lighting Company, the average wind speed is 11metres per second, akin to "proven reserves" in the oil sector, said Carlo Van Wageningen, chairman of the company. "We believe that this site is one of the best in the world for wind," he said. If the project succeeds, the company estimates that there is the potential for the farm to generate a further 2,700MW of power, some of which could be exported.

First, however, there are huge logistical obstacles to overcome. The remote site of Loiyangalani is nearly 300 miles north of Nairobi. Transporting the turbines will require several thousand truck journeys, as well as the improvement of bridges and roads along the way. Security is also an issue as the region is known bandit country, and many locals are armed with AK-47 assault rifles. LTWP also has to construct a 266-mile transmission line and several substations to connect the windfarm to the national grid. It has promised to provide electricity to the closest local towns, currently powered by generators.

The greening of Africa
At the end of 2008, Africa's installed wind energy capacity was only 593MW. But that is set to change fast. Egypt has declared plans to have 7,200MW of wind electricity by 2020, meeting 12% of the country's energy needs. Morocco has a 15% target over the same period. South Africa and Kenya have not announced such long-term goals, but with power shortages and wind potential of up to 60,000MW and 30,000MW respectively, local projects are expected to boom.

With the carbon credit market proving strong incentives for investment other types of renewable energy are also set to take off. Kenya is planning to quickly expanding its geothermal capacity, and neighbouring Rift Valley countries up to Djibouti are examining their own potential. As technology improves and costs fall, solar will also enter the mix. Germany has already publicised plans to develop a €400bn solar park in the Sahara.

"Ultimately for Africa solar is the answer, although [costs mean] we may still be decades away," said Herman Oelsner, president of the African Wind Energy Association.

Carbon capture doubt - Government silent on energy scheme `Plan B'

Courier Mail
Wednesday 29/7/2009 Page: 69

THE Federal Government is not saying what contingency plan it has if its first idea for cleaning up the coal and gas dominated energy sector fails. Federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson last week told a mining conference in Queensland the Government was planning for coal and gas to continue to provide the bulk of Australia's power and it expected worldwide use of coal for electricity to surge.

But Australia this month adopted the goal of helping to ensure global warming doesn't exceed 2C, a goal scientists say has just a 50% chance if global emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly from burning coal, oil and gas, peak by 2015, then fall fast. The Government is investing heavily to help Australia's coal export sales to surge by building new transport infrastructure. Its single biggest investment in clean energy is in carbon capture and storage technology, though these plants aren't going to be widely deployed until long after scientists say emissions must peak.

Chris Raine, the Australia- New Zealand managing director of Alstom, one of the world's biggest power infrastructure suppliers, told The Courier-Mail coal and gas-tired plants could need CCS technology because tight global regulation of greenhouse gases was unavoidable.

But there are doubts that private investors, who own power plants, will take up CCS technology because there are concerns about the costs of CCS-equipped coal and gas plants compared with the future costs of energy from clean sources such as the sun, sea, wind and underground heat. There are also concerns about whether enough CCS storage is available and whether emissions will remain stored forever, with no major leakage.

This week US-based GE Energy announced plans to develop a 400MW power station at Wandoan, 400km west of Brisbane, with partners Xstrata Coal and the state government owned Stanwell Corp. The project - if it gets the go ahead - would not be ready until late 2015 at the earliest. It would use CCS technology to capture and store 90% of its carbon, they said.

Last week Rio Tinto, one of the world's biggest coal and uranium suppliers, said the Government's $2 billion contribution to kick-start large-scale CCS trials in Australia won't be enough to convince private investors to put their cash on the line. It said the Government needed to bring nuclear energy into the energy mix.

Mr Ferguson's spokesman Michael Bradley told The Courier-Mail it was unreasonable to ask if the Government had a plan in the event of inadequate market support for CCS technology. Asked what would happen if CCS wasn't technically or commercially viable, Mr Bradley said: "I don't think it's a reasonable question. You're asking about something that could happen in 10 or 20 years time." He said the Government was also helping develop sun, wind, sea and geothermal power.

Laws were planned that would lift the contribution of these resources to 20% of Australia's energy by 2020. Power station manufacturer Alstom, the Paris-based firm with $48 billion in annual orders, says it will be ready by 2015 to sell plants that can capture greenhouse gas emissions. Others will have to supply equipment to transport and store gases underground. "The middle of the next decade, would be the beginning of the roll-out, with serious numbers from 2020 in terms of deployment," Mr Raine said. Alstom is also investing in its capacity to supply solar, wind, hydro and geothermal plants.

Some see affordable renewable energy as closer to being a reality than affordable CCS power. A US energy department report has said that while existing solar thermal power technology is capable now of providing utility scale power, it is too expensive. But it says by 2020, possibly earlier, improved solar technology will compete with old coal and gas-fired power stations. By then solar plants will be able to store 12 to 17 hours of energy, enabling reliable supply even when the sun doesn't shine.

Britain's Old Industries See Renewable Boost
July 28, 2009

Across the UK traditional industries are turning their hand to renewable energy, seeing the potential the booming sector offers for the future. Just over 100 years ago, the Harland and Wolff shipyards in Belfast produced some of the most famous and celebrated ships in the world, including of course the ill-fated Titanic. Now, after decades of decline, they are seeing a quiet renaissance, spurred on by the development of the offshore wind and marine energy industries around the UK.

Recent projects have included completing the steel foundations for 60 Vestas offshore wind turbines, which will be installed at Robin Rigg in Southern Scotland. They have also won the contract to provide "jackets" for an offshore transformer platform – to accompany an 80-turbine windfarm developed by German company Bard Engineering.

In addition, the shipyard is playing an important role in the development of tidal power energy, and has constructed the SeaGen turbine, a 1.2-MW (MW) tidal power generator developed by Marine Current Turbines (MCT) and installed in Strangford Lough. "The company embarked on a major diversification strategy five years ago and now we have opened up new markets for our services and products," said David McVeigh, Head of Sales and Marketing in a recent statement.

If the existing projects go well they could be just the start for Harland and Wolff; from Ireland to Germany, tens of thousands of MWs of offshore wind are planned for construction in the next decade, indicating massive room for expansion. It is not just Northern Ireland that is seeing a boost from renewable energy industries. All over the UK, traditional industrial cities are seeing the possibilities presented by this sector. On the North East coast of England, the industrial city of Newcastle Upon-Tyne is looking to position itself as the onshore base for renewable energy projects off the coast.

Chief among the new developments is the Renewable Energy Park, an initiative of Shepherd Offshore, a local marine services company that also runs the nearby Offshore Supply Base. Situated along the banks of the river Tyne on the site of the abandoned Neptune Shipyard and a disused AMEC plant, the initial plan is to create 500 new jobs with a wind turbine manufacturing plant.

Shepherd hopes that these developments will be a natural launch pad for the twenty or so wind farms planned for construction in the North Sea, with estimates suggesting as many as 6000 jobs could eventually be created in manufacturing in the Newcastle area alone. Speaking at the time of the planning application, company Director Charles Shepherd said: "We are very keen on renewable energy and we want the North-East to be the central hub for this industry. If we work hard we can make the Tyne the centre for that."

Competition will be fierce though, as Newcastle is far from the only area on the East coast to have realised the potential of offshore wind. Farther south at Lowestoft in Norfolk the local development agency is making efforts to capitalise on the planned offshore renewable developments in the Thames Estuary, including the 1000-MW London Array, due to begin operation around 2012. While a large part of the effort has revolved around building facilities to encourage small and medium enterprises, large established players are also getting involved.

At the onset, the local fishing fleets were opposed to offshore wind farms, fearing their livelihoods would be put in jeopardy. Since construction has begun however, many are now fully supportive, gaining profitable employment running maintenance crews and survey teams out to the construction sites.

In Fife, Central Scotland, a company called Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) has ambitious plans to capitalise on the offshore wind energy boom. Initially founded to provide major fabrications to the oil and gas industry, BiFab quickly recognised the need to diversify its business, and in 2003 it participated in the development of an "energy park" with the local government.

This initiative has already born fruit with BiFab producing turbine support structures for the demonstration phase of the Beatrice Wind Farm in the Moray Firth — a pioneering project to install 5-MW turbines in deep water. Building on this experience, BiFab is now positioning itself to become one of the leading suppliers of support structures for offshore wind turbines in Europe.

In Aberdeen, capital of the North Sea oil industry, this theme continues, with a large cluster of companies originally set up to provide services for the fossil fuel industry using their skills in renewables. More than a dozen companies now offer services ranging from under-sea cabling and specialist software, through to risk assessment and project design.

Large international engineering firms are also moving into renewables. Mutli-disciplinary engineering giant BMT, perhaps more known for its work on naval architecture and defence, is involved in developing wave power technology, and recently completed an environmental impact assessment for a proposed 200 MW offshore windfarm in Hong Kong.

While offshore renewables are getting the lion's share of the attention in the UK's former industrial strongholds, biofuels and solar energy are also attracting investment. Despite widespread criticism of the environmental credentials of some biofuels technologies, the last few years have seen a boom in production. Key players in the food and agricultural sectors such as British Sugar, Dupont, Cargill and Tescos (through biodiesel company Greenergy) are active, with British Sugar and Dupont having opened the UK's first commercial bioethanol plant in 2007.

The UK's solar sector is underdeveloped (thanks in part to its perception as a cloudy country), but even here traditional industries have found niches. Originally founded to produce bullet-proof glass, Romag has become an important player in Building-Integrated Photovoltaics, supplying panels for some of the most architecturally interesting solar projects in world, including the Eden Project in Cornwall, and BP's headquarters.

So it is not the interest of traditional industry to engage with renewables that is in question, but the amount of renewable energy business that is available. With the need to cut carbon emissions and invest in renewables ever more pressing, perhaps the message is finally being understood that if we are to change our economies and embark on a new industrial revolution, then those companies that are quickest to respond to this change will be the winners, not the losers.

Alasdair Cameron is a UK-based writer and campaigner on environmental issues, and is a former Assistant Editor of Renewable Energy World magazine. You can read his blog at

It's power to the people on climate change action

Canberra Times
Wednesday 29/7/2009 Page: 11

With government inaction, citizens will have to take the lead, Mark Diesendorf writes
Global climate change is accelerating. By failing to implement effective policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions, federal and state governments of both major parties have abrogated their responsibilities to the Australian people. This article snakes the case for citizen climate action. It also discusses the potential strategies and tactics of the climate action movement.

During the reign of the previous Coalition federal government, whistleblowers revealed how greenhouse and energy policies were actually written by the big greenhouse polluters, the so-called "Greenhouse Mafia". That government actually helped these vested interests to spread the myths and fallacies used to undermine effective action. Under Rudd Labor, the symbolism improved with the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and the rhetoric changed to one of apparent concern. But the outcomes remain much the same as under Howard. For instance, after 18 months in office, almost all of Labor's election promises to expand renewable energy are still awaiting implementation. Two of these promises have been broken.

Furthermore, Labor's misnamed carbon pollution reduction scheme appears to be designed to lock in and expand greenhouse pollution from coal, oil, aluminium, steel, cement, forestry and agriculture. Instead of making the polluters pay, it would make households and small businesses pay for billions of dollars' worth of free emission permits for the biggest polluters. Meanwhile, medium-scale polluters would be able to offset their emissions by purchasing cheap credits of dubious greenhouse credentials overseas. There is no guarantee that the scheme would reduce Australia's emissions by a single megatonne.

While more billions of dollars are poured into carbon capture and sequestration, which will take 15-20 years to become commercial, several states are planning to build new dirty coal-fired power stations and coal mines. The principal hope for stopping this lemming-like rush to the cliff are the hundreds of community groups springing tip around the country and pushing for climate action.

They are a diverse bunch of bright flowers in the desert of dull government inaction: grassroots local groups dedicated entirely to local action; the climate divisions of large environmental and social justice non-government organisations; and professional, business, trade union, service and faith groups. They present a convincing case that we already have most of the necessary technologies and proposed strategies for making a just transition to a greenhouse-friendly economy. We just have to act.

The climate action movement is developing, testing and beginning to implement a wide range of nonviolent tactics that go far beyond street marches. These span educational activities, media, lobbying, building coalitions and alliances, legal actions, building alternative energy systems, sit-ins, and pickets. Additional possible actions include boycotts, naming and shaming, shareholder actions and coordinated withdrawals of deposits from financial institutions that are funding greenhouse intensive developments.

The movement is challenging a very wealthy and politically powerful force that has most federal and state governments and even a few journalists in its pocket. The Greenhouse Mafia make large political donations to both major parties and frequently threaten governments with blackouts and the transfer of major projects to overseas locations. At first sight it might appear that the citizens of Australia are facing a hopeless challenge.

Deeper thought reveals that the movement has at least three strategic advantages that it has not yet developed to full potential. Firstly, it already has mach greater numbers than the Greenhouse Mafia and its front groups. These increasing numbers will be able to exert substantial countervailing political pressure against the lobbying and misinformation of vested interests as the climate action movement becomes more organised.

Secondly, the movement has a wide diversity of groups and so can communicate directly with most of society, from farmers to workers to professionals. Thirdly, the movement has integrity, because it is working for the good of all humankind instead of for the profits of a few very wealthy corporations and individuals. Its recommendations are based on the best available science, instead of the pseudo-science trotted out by deniers. It adopts the ethical principles of a just transition to a better future for the disadvantaged.

Thus it has firm foundations for further growth. I have no doubt that the climate action movement will assist its to make the long-overdue transition to an ecologically sustainable and socially just society. But, whether it can do this in time to avoid irreversible changes to Earth's climate is still an open question.

Dr Diesendorf is deputy director of the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales. This article is based on his new book Climate Action: A campaign manual for greenhouse solutions.

Power grid `will collapse'

Adelaide Advertiser
Wednesday 29/7/2009 Page: 4

THE proposed carbon-trading scheme will cause the collapse of the national electricity market, two of South Australia's major generators have predicted. International Power - which operates the Pelican Point power station and wind farms - has warned that to avoid blackouts governments would have to implement emergency plans to generate electricity. It said this was because investment in power plants would not meet supply under the planned Federal Government carbon trading scheme.

In its submission to the Government's ongoing inquiry into energy policy, International Power argues penalties imposed on coal-fired power plants will cause some to become unprofitable and prematurely close before greener replacements come online. International Power's Jim Kouts said the future of the national electricity market - in which generators sold electricity at fluctuating prices - was at stake.

He said it took two years to build a significant power station and if a large plant was forced to close it could not immediately be replaced. "If this (the market) failed (to keep electricity supplies on), governments would have to bring in emergency measures to keep generators operating," Mr Kouts said. The International Power view is partly backed by Origin Energy, which operates the Osborne power station.

Origin Energy says the reliability of electricity supply is being "compromised" by uncertainty and delays in the carbon pollution reduction scheme, which has not yet passed the Senate. "This is evidenced by the virtual non-existence of long-term contracts beyond 2010 and the relatively low level of reserve generation in Victoria and South Australia," Origin Energy's submission states. Business SA also warned of the dangers of electricity under-supply caused by the CPRS, which it states stretched the distribution system to breaking point in February this year.
July 27, 2009

Covanta Holding Corp, has signed a $450 million definitive agreement with Veolia Environmental Services to acquire seven municipal solid waste-to-energy facilities in North America, which collectively process approximately 3 million tons of waste each year. Covanta has 38 existing waste-to-energy facilities, which annually process an approximate total of 17 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW).

The facilities to be acquired employ about 500 people, and are located in Long Beach, Calif.; Dade, Fla.; Dutchess, N.Y.; Islip, N.Y.; Montgomery, Pa.; York, Pa.; and Vancouver, Canada. The company expects to complete the transaction with Veolia before the year's end. Covanta Energy also has a $500 million waste-to-energy project with Green Island Energy on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to serve the province's waste disposal challenges.

On the site of a former pulp and paper mill in the Gold River region of British Columbia, the Gold River Power Project transform between 500,000 and 750,000 tons of waste to produce refuse-derived fuel and direct 90 MWs of power to the BC Hydro grid. Construction of the project may begin end of the year.

Recently, subsidiary Covanta Energy's Mendota, Calif., biomass facility earned "STAR" status in the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health Voluntary Protection Program, the highest honor given to worksites with comprehensive, successful safety and health management systems.

Wednesday 29 July 2009

Renewable stacks up against carbon-capture regime

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 27/7/2009 Page: 23

CAPTURING carbon dioxide emissions from power generation will cost as much as generating electricity from renewable sources, according to recent research from Harvard University. A discussion paper by researchers from Harvard's Energy Technology Innovation Policy program titled Realistic costs of Carbon Capture found it would cost $US100-150 per tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions avoided, based on 2008 prices.

By 2030, they say, these costs would have fallen by 65% as the technology is developed and economies of scale take effect, to about $US30-50 per tonne of CO2 avoided. The cost estimates exclude the costs associated with transporting and storing captured CO2 so the paper takes $US20 per tonne as an illustrative additional cost - as well as any benefit from enhanced oil recovery when CO2 is injected into depleted oil reservoirs.

The paper finds the range of estimated costs is within the range of plausible future carbon prices, implying that mature technology would be competitive with conventional fossil fuel plants at prevailing carbon prices.

The cost premium for generating low-carbon electricity with carbon capture and storage is found to be broadly similar to the cost premiums for generating low-carbon electricity by other means, where mid-case estimates for cost premiums over conventional power generation at present are mainly in the range of about US10c-25c per kW hour.

Comparing carbon capture and storage with other forms of low-carbon electricity generation, the paper found onshore wind at a good site was the lowest cost option. carbon capture and storage costs were comparable with those of nuclear plants and offshore wind. The top end of carbon capture and storage's cost range was comparable with the cost of concentrated solar thermal, but had a likely cost below that of solar photovoltaics.

Rupert Posner, director at the non-profit Climate Group, said the Harvard findings were consistent with previous research but cost comparisons depended on the location and there was a large degree of uncertainty about long-range cost estimates. With [carbon capture and storage], as with a whole lot of other technologies, we don't really know what the costs are going to come down to in the years ahead, but what we have to do is invest in them and find out," he said. We actually have to get our hands dirty" to find out.

No time to lose as climate change turns for worse

Canberra Times
Monday 27/7/2009 Page: 9

Urgency is the key in the transformation to a low-carbon future, Will Steffen writes

The carbon pollution reduction scheme to control Australia's emissions of carbon dioxide continues its long and tortuous road towards approval and implementation. Even more challenges await in December in Copenhagen, when the global community gathers to come to grips with climate change in earnest. Meanwhile, science is painting a clearer picture of the risks that lie ahead if the Copenhagen negotiations fail and human-driven climate change is allowed to continue unabated over the coming decades. In a word, the message from science to the negotiators is "urgency".

In many ways the climate system is now moving faster than we had thought likely a decade ago, and faster than the middle-of-the-range climate model projections suggest. For example, the rate of accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased since 2000 because of growth in the global economy and the relative weakening of the natural processes that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Warming of the ocean, which absorbs the vast majority of the extra heat at the Earth's surface because of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, has also increased over the past few decades. Ocean heat content has risen particularly sharply since the late 1990s. Sea-level rise, in part caused by the thermal expansion of warming ocean water, has also increased in rate, from 1.6mm a year in the 1961-2003 period to 3.1mm a year in the 1993-2003 period. The higher rate has continued unabated through to the most recent measurements to 2008.

The world's ice realms are also changing rapidly. Arctic sea ice is being lost at a rate faster than any model has predicted. In the past 15 years the Greenland ice sheet has gone from being in balance - the rate of melting and disintegration being balanced by the accumulation of snow in the interior - to a net loss of about 200 cubic kilometres a year.

More recently, the Antarctic ice sheets have also shown net losses in mass. Global air temperature, too, is rising as expected. Despite considerable year-to-year and even decadal variability, the long-term trend is unmistakably upwards. Thirteen of the 14 warmest years ever recorded since the instrumental record began about 1850 have occurred since 1995.

The rate at which the world's climate is now shifting towards a warmer future carries significant risks for contemporary society, and especially for Australia. Of all of the world's industrialised countries, Australia is probably the most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change, or "climate disruption" as it is increasingly called.

The sea level is expected to rise by an additional 50cm to a metre by 2100 relative to 1990; levels somewhat more than lm high cannot be ruled out. A sea-level rise of "only" 50cm would already increase the frequency of flooding events associated with high tides and storm surges by 100-fold at many places along Australia's coastline.

Increasing absorption of carbon dioxide by the ocean is increasing its acidity, which, coupled with rising sea surface temperature, is stressing corals. The Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral-dominated ecosystem, may well be largely converted to algae beds by the second half of the century.

The health and wellbeing of Australians are directly threatened by global warming. Temperature related extreme events, such as the Melbourne heat wave earlier this year, have become more likely with global warming. So have "megafires" of the type that swept across Victoria in February and damaged Canberra in 2003.

With the Murray-Darling Basin in the grip of a severe, multi-year drought, the threat to water resources in south-east Australia looms large. As the evidence strengthens for a climate change drought link, so do the risks for the most agriculturally productive and populous parts of the country.

The severity of these doom-and-gloom projections, of course, assumes that human-driven emissions of greenhouse gases will continue unabated for several decades at least. Much has been written about the perceived high costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, thus contributing to inaction and to a possible realisation of these doom-and- gloom projections.

However, the prevailing economic thought globally has shifted strongly The costs of inaction far outweigh costs of abatement. Delaying action means more severe climate change with escalating adaptation and impacts costs. Delay also locks in carbon-emitting infrastructure such as coal-fired power plants and makes emission reductions in future mach more costly.

The news from the engineering community is even better. Society already has many technologies, such as a suite of renewable energy systems, that can quickly and effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Their costs are dropping rapidly and novel approaches such as "smart grids" are facilitating their deployment.

The challenge of climate change is indeed complex-spanning science, technology, economics, public policy, history, psychology, systems analysis and much more. The broad knowledge base required to meet the challenge is expanding rapidly, giving hope that society is approaching a turning point in the transformation to a low-carbon future. But there is no time to lose in getting to that turning point.

Professor Will Steffen is the director of the ANU Climate Institute Australia ( which is holding its first open day today.

Wind farm not worried by turbine maker's woes

Canberra Times
Monday 27/7/2009 Page: 5

The Bungendore windfarm has no qualms using the turbines of manufacturer Suzlon despite reports the company is in financial danger. An article published in the Australian Financial Review weekend edition raised questions over Suzlon Energy's finances and the quality of its turbines. The article reported lenders were uneasy supporting projects using the Indian firm's products because of concerns regarding the company's financial viability.

Suzlon was rated as the world's fifth-largest supplier of wind turbines last year. Suzlon S-88 turbines are used at Infigen Energy's Capital Wind Farm near Bungendore, as well as at farms in South Australia. Spokesman David Griffin said he thought the article was foolish. "[Wind farm operators] go through a very extensive process in selecting the technology, and we've all come to the conclusion they are a very solid company to do business with," he said.

He said the windfarm had taken all steps to secure itself from any potential fallout. "It doesn't matter what manufacturer we buy turbines from, we approach it in the same way," he said. "And that is we are going to have a longterm relationship, but we have to plan for the worst as well." He said Infigen Energy had financial safeguards in place and extensive access to spare parts. Capital Wind Farm has a five-year service and maintenance contract with Suzlon.

The Bungendore turbines are gradually coming on line. Some of the 67 turbines had begun turning and power was being generated but the commissioning process was not expected to be complete until September, Mr Griffin said. Sydney renewable energy firm Epuron received NSW Government approval this month for a $250 million windfarm in the Cooma region.

Executive director Martin Poole said it was too early to say whether Suzlon would supply turbines at the site, which is awaiting Federal Government legislation for a 20% mandatory renewable energy target. Mr Poole had not read the Australian Financial Review article, but said the Indian maker had a good reputation. "Suzlon's a well-known and reputable company that's installed a lot of turbines around the world." he said. "I know that plenty of people would consider them for projects.., in fact they've got a lot of turbines in South Australia already."

He would not comment on whether the damaging reports about Suzlon would affect business decisions regarding the Gullen Range development. The 73-turbine windfarm will be about 25km west of Goulburn. The project initially promised 84 turbines, but was scaled back to meet NSW Government approval conditions.

Last year an American firm pulled out of a 150-turbine deal with Suzlon after the Indian company was forced to recall some of its S-88 turbines when blades began cracking. Mr Poole said he was aware of the issue, was under the impression Suzlon had addressed the problem and the debacle could not be repeated in Australia. "The technology that was in the US doesn't exist in Australia, and it never will. There's no way that stuff would be installed in Australia by anybody."

Chinese energy is greener than ours

Monday 27/7/2009 Page: 8

China is setting more of an example on green power than Rudd and Wong, argues Keith Orchison

IT'S hard to comprehend, Martin Ferguson said last week. The federal Minister for Resources and Energy was referring to the fact that, in the next decade, China will bring on line about 1000 average-sized coalfired power stations, equivalent to 34 times Australia's present coal-burning generation capacity.

Ferguson's government and others in the developed world are being asked to comprehend even more than that, however. They have been repeatedly warned by the International Energy Agency that, even if the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries collectively reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2030, they cannot put the world on track to achieve stablisation of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere at 450 parts per million.

When the IEA delivers its new world energy outlook in September, ahead of the Copenhagen global warming treaty summit in December, this gobsmacking message can only be reinforced. Non-OECD countries are heading towards a collective volume of emissions of more than 25 billion tonnes a year by 2030, compared by then with less than 15 billion tonnes for the OECD nations. In the vanguard, of course, is China, but not because it is ignoring the issue. Ferguson could have also cited a set of startling Chinese green power statistics in his mid-July speech to the Queensland Resources Council.

By 2020 China aims to have installed 300,000MW of hydro power (equal to 80 Snowy Mountains schemes), 30,000MW of plants fuelled by agricultural waste, 1800MW of solar energy and more than 50,000MW of wind farms (about four times what will be needed here to meet the Rudd renewable energy target). This will involve spending $US33 billion ($40.3bn) a year on renewable energy.

Everything about the Chinese effort is mind boggling. For example, it now employs 600,000 people (twice the population of Canberra) installing solar hot-water heaters in a $US2bn a year business. Its electric bicycle business is worth more than $US6bn a year. Nor are its efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its coalburning generators to be underestimated.

Since 2005 China has required all new large power plants to use at least high-efficiency, super-critical technology and since 2007 it has shut down smaller, inefficient plants with a capacity of 14,380MW (more generation capacity than in NSW). This is allowing China to leapfrog the less efficient coal technology that is dominant in the developed world, including Australia.

At Yuhuan, it has commissioned 4000MW, almost as much capacity as the largest generating complex in Australia, Bayswater-Liddell, of ultra-super- critical generation, the largest operation of its kind in the world, providing power to 10 million households, with a thermal conversion efficiency of 45%, about one quarter better than conventional coalburning generators. What's more, the operator, Huaneng Group, the largest power company in China and rumoured to have an eye on NSW, built Yuhuan at a capital cost about 40% below equivalent installation charges in the West.

There is a considerable difference of opinion in China over carbon capture and storage opponents there, as here, point to the cost and concerns about environmental risks associated with storing massive amounts of carbon dioxide but that hasn't stopped Huaneng pursuing its Green-gen project at the head of a consortium of seven companies. The first stage, costing $US360 million, is scheduled to deliver a capture-ready 250MW integrated, gasified combined cycle plant in the near future, to be followed by a 400MW plant with a storage add-on in 2012 and hydrogen production capacity.

Stage 3 will be a commercial scale carbon capture and storage plant. What all this, and a great deal more, adds up to, the Chinese point out, is that they are taking targeted action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and that the transition to lower-carbon solutions is generating jobs and increased energy security. They are on track, the optimists claim, to peak emissions there by 2020, and then to reduce emissions to an average of two tonnes a head by 2050. It is about five tonnes a person today.

The problem is that, even if they do succeed in this, and other developing countries do as well, on the IEA numbers the 450ppm target is several bridges too far. But it does, at least, provide some perspective for the "example to the world" that Rudd, Wong and Co want to take to Copenhagen. Do you remember Paul Hogan's Crocodile Dundee line? "Call that a knife?"

Keith Orchison is editorial director of Powering Australia yearbook and writes PowerLine blog.

Hydrovolts, Inc. Fishes for New Energy in Old Canals
July 27th, 2009

The Seattle-based company Hydrovolts, Inc, has discovered an economical way to tap waterways for hydroelectricity. Rather than damming mighty rivers or installing turbines in unpredictable oceans, Hydrovolts has aimed its sights on a much smaller target: placid canals and other managed-flow water courses.

Even at low flows, a predictable and reliable current is more than enough to power the company's unique Flipwing Turbine. Though small in scale, the simple and relatively affordable turbine could go a long way toward meeting the electrical needs of local communities as well as farms, factories, and other facilities.

Tuesday 28 July 2009

CEC signs clean energy trade agreement with Singapore

Clean Energy Council
27 July 2009

NATIONAL: A new international agreement signed today will see clean energy companies in Australia working more closely with their counterparts in Singapore to help drive regional investment and clean tech development in Asia. Australia's Clean Energy Council (CEC) and the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (SEAS) have signed a new cooperative agreement in Singapore today, marking an important step forward in the strategic alliance of the two emerging industries.

CEC Chief Executive Matthew Warren said Australia and Singapore both share significant opportunities to expand their clean energy resources and this agreement will help stimulate new opportunities for both countries. "The endorsement of this agreement by the CEC will bring Australia another step closer towards developing the region's new green jobs market and reducing the impact of dangerous climate change," Mr Warren said.

"As the peak representative body for Australia's clean energy and energy efficiency technologies, it makes sense that we partner with our industry allies overseas to share information and networks," he said. This is the first international agreement signed by Australia's CEC.

For more information on the Clean Energy Council please visit

Europe's solar pipeline to reshape Middle East energy landscape
July 25. 2009

The €395 billion (Dh2.06 trillion) scheme is so massive in scale it could be the stuff of science fiction: huge solar energy plants across the Sahara sprouting power cables that supply a fifth of Europe's electricity by 2050. The concept's backers, a group of German utility companies that signed an agreement last week, say it is technologically feasible and would reduce Europe's carbon emissions while diversifying its sources of energy imports.

The Desertec Foundation plan, as it is known, has the potential to reshape the energy landscape of the Middle East as the world shifts from oil to renewables, experts say. It would generate annual revenues from electricity sales of US$90 billion (Dh330.3bn) for Middle East economies, just as oil production is forecast to decline, AT Kearny, the management consultancy, has calculated. "There's nothing comparable to this," said Christian von Tschirschky, a principal at the firm. "This is a real switch in the overall understanding of what is energy and where does energy come from."

Extensions in electricity links could also allow Gulf countries to export solar-generated power into the project, he said. But Desertec Foundation will remain little more than a fantasy unless backers can resolve important questions of cost and political stability. The project's price tag would equal €395bn over 40 years, comparable in size to the investments that built the modern oil industry. Transmission links and submarine cables to transport the energy would alone cost €45bn.

The German firms, led by Siemens, Munich Re, RWE, E.ON and Deutsche Bank, among others, committed to develop a financial model for the project with the signing of an agreement in Munich last week, but the rough concept has already emerged. Companies and governments in Europe would fund the grid and some of the power plants and offer guarantees to buy the electricity at profitable levels. Companies and governments in Arab countries would invest in power plants to receive guaranteed returns at the pre-arranged prices.

Assuming European countries can find the money – no easy feat in the current financial environment – they will also need to receive better guarantees from Arab governments that their investments will be safe over a century of operation. The proposal comes at a time when European confidence in North Africa as a source of energy is already growing. Algeria and Morocco export electricity to Spain, and Algeria has become a leading gas supplier.

Earlier this month, Algeria, Niger and Nigeria signed an agreement to build a cross-continent gas pipeline to bring Nigerian gas to Europe. But with a project of this scale, experts say North African countries will need to do more to assuage European investors. Some key players in the scheme have a mixed record for foreign investors: Algeria still grapples with an insurgency and fears over its political stability, while Libya, which recently opened its oil sector to western companies, has threatened to re-nationalise energy assets.

Both countries have recently seen an increase in official rhetoric against foreign investment, but such opposition has so far failed to have any direct impact on the business environment, said Sara Hassan, a North Africa analyst at IHS Global Insight. "It should be seen in the context," Ms Hassan said. "Generally both countries are open to large, lucrative business deals."

Some in the European power industry have said the scheme could create new doubts about the security of energy supplies. The chief executive of Vattenfall, a Swedish power company, has said Desertec Foundation would maintain Europe's reliance on imported energy when it should be trying to develop more dependable domestic sources.

The Desertec Foundation predicts that by 2050, 65 per cent of European energy will come from domestic renewables, 17 per cent will be imported from North Africa, and 18 per cent will still come from fossil fuels. To get around any difficult political challenges, the initial development stages could target other Middle Eastern countries that have proved more stable and predictable, such as the Gulf countries, Mr von Tschirschky said.

Political questions aside, Europeans have turned to the Middle East and North Africa to generate their power simply because it is the ideal setting for solar energy installations. Desertec Foundation would principally rely on solar thermal plants, large-scale installations of mirrors and lenses that focus sunlight to produce steam, which then powers a conventional generator.

The technology, which is well established in the US and Spain, has important advantages over solar photovoltaic panels, which generate electricity directly from sunlight. solar thermal is generally cheaper and can be paired with fossil fuels to maintain a steady output of electricity regardless of clouds or dust. Plants can be equipped with technology to store heat so power production continues well after the sun sets.

Masdar, the Abu Dhabi government-owned energy firm, is building a 100 MW solar thermal plant in Al Gharbia, with plans to build several more. The Desertec Foundation estimates it would cost between 10 US cents and 20 cents a kW-hour to generate solar thermal power in North Africa and transport it to Europe through high-voltage transmission lines.

Those estimates are far higher than average costs for energy generated by coal and other conventional sources, creating a need for a subsidy supplied by Europe. But the foundation says Desertec Foundation's electricity will eventually become competitive without subsidies as costs fall with greater economies of scale, and conventional energy becomes more expensive as power firms are forced to pay for their carbon emissions.

Ultimately, Middle Eastern countries could come to see the construction of solar plants as a way to bolster their own energy security, Mr von Tschirschky said. There is a high imbalance between supply and demand at different parts of the year in the Middle East, he said. "They can use these plants for their own consumption during the peak months, and they can sell the energy during all the other months. They can use this right away."