Friday 4 September 2009

Solar credits add extra shine to birthday

Adelaide Advertiser
Thursday 3/9/2009 Page: 53

Adelaide-based Solar Shop Australia has celebrated its 10th anniversary - with extra cause to celebrate as the Federal Government resumed incentives for solar panels in the Renewable Energy Target. The company celebrated the milestone by opening its new $50,000 showroom redevelopment, which includes a 16sq in to-scale 1 kW solar system on an A-frame roof.

Solar Shop managing director Adrian Ferraretto said the government's solar credits under the RET scheme were a 'godsend' and would ensure the company continued its exponential growth. "We have always had rebates come and go over the past 10 years but, deep down, we know that solar panels will be on every Australian roof in the next 10 to 20 years," he said.

"It (the RET) gives us 21 years of solar rebate going forward, which is pretty exciting. It is also being ratcheted up over the next five years, which will fall in line with the panel price reduction we are expecting in the next few years."

Mr Ferraretto said the company's anniversary marked 10 years of domestic solar panel use, which was a milestone for the broader industry. "We have come a long way when you consider that in the 1960s it cost $2.5 million to install a 1 kW system and in 2009 dollars its costs about $4000 to $5000," he said.

"The first grid-connected system was installed only 10 years ago. It really only became domesticated in 1999 when our business started up, so it is not only a significant milestone for us but for the industry as a whole." In the past 10 years, Solar Shop has installed more than 10,000 solar systems on Australian homes, saving around 16,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and 2240 megalitres of water.

National solar tariff will create 22,000 jobs, report says

Canberra Times
Thursday 3/9/2009 Page: 6

More than 22,000 new green jobs can be created if the Rudd Government introduces a national gross feed-in tariff for solar energy, a new economic study says. The Access Economics report on green job creation, commissioned by the Electrical Trades Union, estimates more than 1600 jobs in Australia's fledgling solar energy industry were lost or put at risk when all production of photovoltaic panels moved offshore in March.

The report coincides with the announcement yesterday by federal Climate Change Minister Penny Wong of a $130 million assistance package for methane emitting industries in NSW - including coal mines and land-fill operations - affected by the switch from a state emissions reduction scheme to a national emissions trading scheme. Senator Wong said the cash handouts would "ensure these entities continue to remain viable and able to make a valuable economic and environmental contribution to Australia".

Greens energy spokeswoman Christine Milne has accused the minister of "giving with both hands" to polluters. Senator Milne said the Rudd Government had already compromised the integrity of the newly introduced Renewable Energy Target scheme by allowing waste coal mine gas generators to be included.

The Access Economics study estimates a national gross feed-in tariff - which pays renewable energy generators for all electricity produced, not just surplus energy - will dramatically boost uptake of solar energy. It estimates existing state and territory feed-in tariff schemes will create about 2000 jobs over the next five years in photovoltaic manufacturing and installation. By contrast, a national gross feed-in tariff will create 9500 solar jobs over the same period, building to 22,500 news jobs by 2020.

Fluor building solar-thermal blueprints for eSolar to license globally
September 1, 2009

California solar technology developer also expects to begin commercial operations within the next month at its 5-MW demonstration power plant under a PPA with Southern California Edison. Pasadena, Calif.-based eSolar has signed an agreement with Irving, Texas-based Fluor (NYSE:FLR) for the engineering firm to develop designs for a commercial, 46-MW power plant using solar thermal technology.

eSolar, with one demonstration plant under its belt, has tapped Fluor to optimize the cost and performance of its existing designs, said Rob Rogan, senior vice president for North American markets for eSolar. Then, eSolar plans to license out the instructions to speed the time to market for power plants based on its proprietary technology, built in multiples of 46 MW. "ESolar's bandwidth is not as great as any of the major energy developers," Rogan told the Cleantech Group. "This is effectively a blueprint that developers around the world can use for deploying eSolar technology."

Rogan declined to share financial terms of the agreement, or specify when the designs are expected to be complete. He said he expects the licensing agreements to make up the largest portion of the company's future revenue, but that eSolar still plans to develop its own power plants in the future.

eSolar developed a modular, scalable solar thermal power technology that focuses thousands of mirrors on a single point to efficiently harvest the sun's energy and reduce costs (see Cleantech Group picks winners and losers in concentrated solar thermal). The key element of eSolar's "secret sauce" lies in software that operates the solar field with the necessary degree of precision and reliability, Rogan said.

Fluor's engineers plan to study eSolar's existing designs, in addition to working with the startup's team and studying the 5-MW Sierra SunTower facility. ESolar commissioned Sierra in August, heralding it as the first to use power-tower technology in the United States (see eSolar completes 5-MW power-tower solar plant as NRG waits in wings).

"eSolar's focus has always been on the technology portion," Rogan said. "Our corporate-level goal is to have the most MWs of technology deployed worldwide, and we realized early on that, if we went to build the Sierra power plant and waited until it was up and running to have third-party developers begin building other plants based on our technology, we'd be waiting a long time."

Rogan said eSolar has connected the Sierra SunTower facility to the grid and is now delivering test energy. The company plans to start commercial operations "in the next month or so," he said, which would allow eSolar to begin fulfilling its power-purchase agreement with utility Southern California Edison (see SCE brings more solar thermal to California). Rogan said there are a few minor things to be done, such as installing sprinklers and paving the driveway. "The steam conditions out of the tower are very close to our design points, which we're thrilled about, and we essentially see the performance we expected to see," he said.

Rogan said eSolar plans to sell the licenses around the globe, with the exception of India. India's Acme Group paid $30 million for a 5-percent stake in eSolar, giving it the exclusive license to eSolar's technology in India, as well as the right to develop 1,000 MW of solar thermal projects in the next 10 years (see Solar sell-off accelerates). Acme said last month that it's on schedule to commission part of its first 10-MW solar thermal plant in Rajasthan in the first quarter of next year (see Acme plans to beat eSolar on cost of solar thermal in India). However, eSolar's deal with Princeton, N.J.-based NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG) does not include an exclusivity clause, leaving eSolar to develop its own power plants or sell licenses to developers in North America.

In February, NRG paid $10 million for an equity stake and the rights to develop three projects for which eSolar had PPAs: a 92-MW plant for El Paso Electric in New Mexico, a 92-MW plant for Northern California's PG&E, and a 245-MW plant under a PPA with Southern California Edison (see NRG Energy, eSolar sign 500 MW solar deal). NRG plans to begin construction on the New Mexico project next summer.

Rogan said part of the appeal of Fluor was the company's extensive experience in engineering, procurement and construction. In 2007, China's LDK Solar contracted Fluor to design and engineer a $1.2 billion polysilicon plant in Xinyu City (see LDK Solar building $1B polysilicon plant). In 2008, Fluor received the contract to build the plant, expected to be the world's largest polysilicon facility when it goes into production this year, according to Fluor.

Fluor and Airtricity, which has since been acquired by Scottish and Southern Energy, launched the 500-MW Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind project off the Suffolk coast of the United Kingdom (see UK approves Greater Gabbard windfarm). Fluor began offshore construction this summer, with the first turbines expected to be operational in 2009 and all turbines by late 2010. When complete, the project is expected to be the world's largest offshore windfarm (see Scottish and Southern signs $3B in wind contracts). "Our internal resources are limited compared to a company like Fluor," Rogan said. Last year, eSolar raised a $130 million round from Idealab, Google and Oak Investment Partners (see Going modular with eSolar). It has 135 employees.

New well tech cuts 2 MW German geothermal plant costs
September 1, 2009

$13M facility slated for the country's northwestern region is expected to save $21M in heating costs during its 25-year lifetime. Germany is planning building a 2 MW geothermal power plant, despite undesirable conditions of the slated site in Lower Saxony, in the country's northwestern region. The GeneSys-branded plant is expected to need a 2.5-mile-deep well that would be drilled near Hanover, also in northwestern Germany. The drilling process increases the costs associated with geothermal energy.

The GeneSys plant would benefit from a one-well pumping system that's been researched by German scientists at an unspecified government agency. The system is expected to help to cut drilling costs in half, for a total cost of about $13 million, because it uses one hole instead of two to pump water into the ground to be heated and then pump it back up to produce heat or electricity. The plant, which would benefit the government agency, is projected to save $21 million in heating costs during its 25-year lifetime. If the facility proves to be a success, it could be modeled in other European countries.

Germany currently has three large-scale geothermal power plants in operation. In 2007, Essen, Germany-based construction contractor Hochtief formed a joint venture with renewable energy services company Renerco to build and operate a 5 MW geothermal plant (see Germany's Hochtief enters geothermal market). Geothermal energy has also surpassed wind as the most efficient alternative energy technology, according to a recent New York University report (see Report says geothermal is leaving wind, solar in the dust).

Thursday 3 September 2009

Concerns raised over China's `rare earth' dominance

Sydney Morning Herald
Wednesday 2/9/2009 Page: 24

Deng Xiaoping likened it to oil in the Middle East, and China is ready to maximise returns from nature's gift, writes Keith Bradsher. A decision is looming in Canberra that could block plans by China to tighten its grip on the market for some of the world's most obscure but valuable minerals. China accounts for 93% of the production of so-called "rare earth" elements - and more than 99% of the output for two of them that are vital for a wide range of green energy technologies and military applications like missiles. Deng Xiaoping once observed that the Middle East had oil but China had rare earth elements. As OPEC has done with oil, China is now flexing its muscle.

Tighter limits on production and exports-part of a plan by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology-would ensure China had the supply for its own technological and economic needs and force more manufacturers to make their wares in China in order to have access to the minerals. In each of the past three years, China has reduced the amount of rare earths that can be exported. This year quotas are on track to be the smallest yet. But what is starting to alarm Western governments and multinationals is the possibility they will be further restricted.

Chinese officials will almost certainly be pressed to address the matter at a conference in Beijing tomorrow. What they say could influence whether Australian regulators next week approve a deal by a Chinese company to acquire a majority stake in Australia's main rare earth mine. Until spring it seemed that China's stranglehold on rare earths might weaken in the next three years- two Australian mines are opening with a combined production equal to a quarter of global output.

But the two companies developing mines - Lynas Corporation and its smaller rival, Arafura Resources - lost their financing last winter because of the global financial crisis. Buyers deserted Lynas Corporation's planned bond issue and Arafura Resources's initial public offering. Mining companies wholly owned by the Chinese Government swooped in last spring with the cash needed to finish the construction of relines and ore processing factories for both companies. The Chinese companies reached agreements to buy 51.7% of Lynas Corporation and 25% of Arafura Resources.

The Arafura Resources deal has already been approved by Australian regulators and is subject to final approval by shareholders on September 17. The regulators have twice postponed a decision on Lynas Corporation, and now face a deadline of Monday to act. Matthew James, a vice president at Lynas Corporation said its would-be acquirer had agreed not to direct day-to-day operations but would have four seats on an eight-member board.

China's move on Lynas Corporation's highly strategic Mount Weld rare earths project in Western Australia was first announced in May. Under the proposed deal, China Non- Ferrous Metal Mining Company (CNMC) is prepared to inject $US252 million ($300 million) in fresh equity into Lynas Corporation and secure Chinese bank finance for the development of the project.

But like the proposed bail-outs of OZ Minerals by Minmetals and Rio Tinto by Chinalco, the deal must first secure clearance from the Federal Government after it is scrutinised by the Foreign Investment Review Board. Lynas Corporation can argue that without Chinese investment the Mount Weld project would remain mothballed, as it has been since February when the global financial crisis squeezed its financing options. A feature of the deal and one that reflects the sensitivity of China's rare earths dominance is that while CNMC will hold four positions on Lynas Corporations expanded board of eight, the executive chairman, Nicholas Curtis, will hold the casting vote.

Expectations of tightening Chinese restrictions have produced in the past two weeks a surge in the share prices of the few non-Chinese producers that are publicly traded. In addition to the two Australian mines, Avalon Rare Metals of Toronto is trying to open a mine in northwest Australia and Molycorp Minerals is trying to reopen a mine in California.

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology drafted a six-year plan for rare earth production and submitted it to the State Council, the equivalent of federal cabinet, said four mining industry officials who have discussed it with Chinese officials. A few contradictory details of the plan have leaked out, but it appears to suggest tighter restrictions on exports and strict curbs on environmentally damaging mines.

Beijing officials are forcing global manufacturers to move factories to China by limiting the availability of rare earths outside China. "Rare earth usage in China will be increasingly greater than exports," said Zhang Peichen, deputy director of the government-linked Baotou Rare Earth Research Institute.

Some of the minerals crucial to green technologies are extracted in China using methods that inflict serious damage on the environment. China dominates rare earth production partly because of its willingness until now to tolerate polluting, low-cost mining. The ministry did not respond to repeated requests for comment in the last eight days. Jia linsong, a director-general at the ministry, is to speak about China's intentions tomorrow at the Minor Metals and Rare Earths 2009 conference in Beijing. A single mine in Baotou, in Inner Mongolia, produces half of the world's rare earths. Much of the rest - particularly some of the rarest needed for products from wind turbines to Prius cars - comes from often unlicensed relines in southern China.

China produces over 99% of dysprosium and terbium and 95% of neodymium ii. These are vital to many green energy technologies, including high-strength, lightweight magnets used in wind turbines, as well as military applications. General Motors and the United States Air Force played leading roles in the development of rare earth magnets. They are still used in the electric motors that control the guidance vanes on the sides of missiles, said Jack Lifton, a chemist who helped develop some of the early magnets.

But demand is surging now because of wind turbines and hybrid vehicles. The electric motor in a Prius requires one to two kilograms of neodymium, said Dudley Kingsnorth, a consultant in Perth, whose compilations of rare earth mining and trade are the benchmark.

ReVolt Technology Applies for $30 million in Government Research Grants
Sep 1, 2009

ReVolt Technology, LLC, a technology company which is developing innovative, rechargeable zinc-air batteries, today announced that it is applying for $30 million in grants from US Department of Energy (DOE) under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to accelerate the commercialization of its large format zinc-air batteries for energy storage and electric vehicle applications.

ReVolt Technology today also announced it has selected Portland, Oregon as the location for its US headquarters and manufacturing center. By locating in Oregon, the company will be eligible, and intends to apply for, Business Energy Tax Credits from the Oregon Department of Energy for battery research and production.

Securing government grants and tax credits will allow ReVolt Technology to significantly accelerate its operations in Portland and US expansion. ReVolt Technology's zinc-air batteries deliver more than twice the energy of conventional rechargeable designs such as lithium-ion. Made using naturally abundant zinc, the batteries have low manufacturing costs and reduce dependence on imported fuels and other energy materials. They degrade into environmentally-safe substances when exhausted, cutting pollution risks and the need for costly battery waste capture programs.

"In applying for government research funding, ReVolt Technology is answering these agencies' call for innovative technologies driving energy independence and US leadership in advanced battery designs underpinning the next generation of vehicles, networked devices and power grids," said James P. McDougall, CEO of ReVolt Technology. "There is a tremendous, mutually-beneficial opportunity in Portland's clean-tech sector and clean energy stimulus programs to fast-track our proven technology and production goals if we are among innovators selected for research funding." "For over 100 years zinc has been known as a good and safe source of energy.

Zinc's attributes of high energy and power and easy storage makes it suitable for a variety of battery, fuel and flow cell applications such as the well known button cell battery commonly found in hearing aids. Zinc batteries are now also used in computers and cell phones. Newer and bigger zinc energy storage systems include flow cell applications like the one developed by Revolt Technology,"said, Johan Van Wesemael, Manager of Technology & Market Development for the International Zinc Association (IZA).

"Through the Zinc Energy Storage Technology (ZESTec) consortium, the International Zinc Association promotes the use of zinc in batteries, fuel-cells and flow cells," Van Wesemael added. "Zinc is readily available and fully recyclable without loss of its properties. An increasing number of zinc batteries can be recharged, making it a truly sustainable source of energy."

ReVolt Technology's announcements received broad support from state and federal officials intent on fostering both innovative, clean energy technologies and US leadership in this emerging, fast-growing industry. "Oregon has shown again that supporting efforts to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions is an effective economic development strategy that delivers jobs to Oregonians," Governor Ted Kulongoski said. "We can attribute today's good news to our commitment to the next generation of lower and zero-emission vehicles - and the state's business incentives that foster innovation and grow Oregon's renewable energy sector."

"ReVolt Technology's revolutionary technology is a great addition to Oregon's clean energy community. With market leaders in solar, wind, bio mass and wave energy located here, Oregon has emerged as a clean energy hub," U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said. "It's thrilling to see innovative companies like ReVolt Technology reshape our technology industry, create jobs and lead Oregon's economic rebound."

"ReVolt Technology's decision to locate its North American headquarters in Portland confirms Oregon's position as a world leader in the alternative energy industry," said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). "Once brought to market, ReVolt Technology's batteries will be a key factor in developing the next generation of clean, green vehicles and in the future of renewable energy storage technology. That's good for business, good for the environment and good for bringing family-wage corporate and manufacturing jobs to Oregon."

"I'm very excited that ReVolt Technology Technologies plans to site its U.S, headquarters in Portland, Oregon," said Congressman David Wu (D-OR), who represents Oregon's 1st Congressional District. "This decision will generate scores of green, family-wage jobs and further cement our region as the sustainability capital of the world."

"ReVolt Technology's entry to the Portland innovation landscape couldn't be coming at a more critical time," said Portland Mayor Sam Adams. "Not only will ReVolt Technology's American headquarters and manufacturing operations bring jobs and investment to our region, their presence is further proof of our model - - that sustainability and economic prosperity go hand in hand here in Portland."

ReVolt Technology plans to employ up to 75 highly skilled employees at its Portland site during its battery development phase and up to 250 employees in subsequent pilot and production phases. After months of extensive site reviews and research throughout the US, ReVolt Technology determined Oregon offers the best ecosystem for developing a truly transformational energy storage solution for electric vehicles and renewable energy generation.

"Oregon's demonstrated commitment to the electrification of transportation, renewable energy generation and storage combined with its strategic plan and commitment to support related economic development made it a clear choice for ReVolt Technology," McDougall added. "We are impressed with Oregon's alignment with the current US Administration's leadership to support the development of transformational energy storage solutions that reduce the dependence on foreign sources of energy and related materials."

Initially developed in Norway, ReVolt Technology's patented zinc-air technology is based on research conducted at one of Scandinavia's top scientific institutes. The company's US expansion coincides with increasingly sophisticated energy storage demands from consumer electronics makers, vehicle designers and energy utilities. Offering a high-energy storage platform that is both durable and environmentally safe, ReVolt Technology's battery technology offers these industries a major leap forward.

Japan Plans $21 Billion Solar Space Post to Power 294,000 Homes
September 1, 2009

The concept of space-based solar energy was introduced way back in 1968, but it's only recently that the world has latched on to the idea. Japan is definitely getting in on the action with its latest spacey plan - a $21 billion solar energyed generator in the heavens to produce one GW of energy, or enough to power 294,000 homes. The Japanese government announced the plan back in June, but there has been an important new development - Mitsubishi Electric Corp, and industrial design company IHI Corp, are now teaming up in the race to develop new technology within four years that can beam electricity back to Earth without the use of cables.

Mitsubishi and IHI Corp are joining a research group containing 14 other countries to tackle the daunting task of getting Japan's four square kilometer solar space station up and running in the next three decades. By 2015, the Japanese government hopes to test a small satellite decked out with solar panels that beams power through space and back to Earth.

There are still a number of hurdles to work through before space-based solar energy becomes a reality though. Transportation of the solar panels into space is too expensive at the moment to be commercially viable, so Japan has to figure out a way to lower costs. Even if costs are lowered, solar stations will have to worry about damage from micrometeoroids and other flying objects. Still, space-based solar operates perfectly under all weather conditions, unlike Earth-based panels that are at the mercy of the clouds.

Japan isn't the only country in the race for space power. Solaren and California's Pacific Gas and Electric utility are working together on a project to deliver 200 MWs of power from space over a 15-year period that begins in 2015.

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Burning taxpayers to fuel a bad habit

Canberra Times
Tuesday 1/9/2009 Page: 1

The Federal Government is propping up a dying technology as electric cars' potential soars.

The South Australian Premier. Mike Rann, says he is "confident" that General Motors will agree to manufacture an electric car at the Holden plant in Elizabeth. After his discussions in Detroit with GM's chief executive, Fritz Henderson, Rann said the prototype battery powered Volt could be built on an existing production line at Elizabeth.

Sounds good. Perhaps Prime Minister Kevin Rudd or his Industry Minister, Kim Carr, should have taken themselves off to Detroit for similar discussions with Henderson before announcing the Federal Government's $500 million Green Car Innovation Fund to build-low emission vehicles in Australia. The Government is showering money on the Australian car industry, the latest example being a $200 million line of credit to Holden.

This is making no discernible difference to the business-as-usual mindset at the car maker, which has announced it will continue to produce the Commodore with a V6 engine. Although it will be 13% more fuel-efficient, it will not quality for green car funds. The Commodore will produce 221g of greenhouse gases per kilometre, compared with the 130g fleet average the Europeans will move to by 2012. (Reports suggest that this is also the target set in China.)

Meanwhile, Holden is sticking with petrol, despite having access to $150 million from the green car fund for its small cars. The Australian's motoring writer, Philip King, reports that $200 million of the scheme will be used to import General Motors-Holden's small-car engines, developed by foreign technology. While the Government insists that the money it is handing out is essential for the car industry, it lacks any clear vision of the future.

Sooner or later, petrol will no longer be used in cars. The world is starting to focus on electricity-powered vehicles, where the most recent developments are promising. Under the Better Place battery-swap concept, for example, a $500,000 machine at a service station will allow car owners to swap fresh, fully charged batteries faster than filling tip the tank. With larger production runs, the capital cost will come down, and the technology will improve as battery technology - being feverishly worked on overseas but not commercially in Australia - increases the power and life of batteries. Better Place also envisages charge spots at homes, shopping centres and workplace car parks.

Hamilton Island, the centre of the Whitsunday Islands' tourist industry, provides a glimpse into the future. Hamilton is about as big as a small suburb or a medium-sized country town. The locals all use electric buggies, rather than cars, to get around. Anyone who has driven an electric golf buggy knows they are much simpler and lighter than a car: no clutch, gears, cooling system, oil filters, etc. The lack of traffic noise is striking.

Electric cars of the future will not be much different from today's golf buggy, although they will have a car body shell, more comfortable seating, a boot and a much more powerful electric motor. Simply avoiding the production of bulky petrol or diesel engines and complex automatic gearboxes, wherever they are made, would significantly contribute to emission reductions. Electric cars will be so relatively simple to manufacture that existing car makers could find themselves competing with new players. The production of efficient electric cars will inevitably lead to the development of electric trucks and buses, the latter will make a key contribution to improved urban public transport and the reduction of not only carbon dioxide but also city smog. The Federal Government should be applying pressure to get real value out of its green car fund.

True, a battery car is not emission-free, as recharging the batteries uses the product of coal powered generators. Yet even with brown electricity, the contribution of battery cars to greenhouse gases is far lower than that of petrol or diesel vehicles. But coal-power generation will continue only if geosequestration is a goer. If it fails, power stations will be run by gas, in the medium term, on the way to 100% power production by renewable sources. In NSW, where the Hunter is the centre of coal power generation, geological conditions are unsuitable for holding liquid CO2 underground; nor is the outlook good for injecting CO2, into safe storage underground in all of NSW and Queensland.

The Nationals would be wise to rethink their present policy of mandating a 10% ethanol petrol mix. Like petrol, ethanol has a limited future. Further, as the world approaches a food shortage crisis, Australia is using its grain to produce ethanol. Nationals MPs, almost to a man - and perhaps a woman - are climatechange deniers or sceptics; the party's Senate leader, Barnaby Joyce, being the most vocal. Perversely, although Joyce and others ignorantly claim that the Government's emissions trading scheme will wreck the Australian economy, the Nationals' federal council voted narrowly last month in favour of gross feed-in tariffs for small-scale renewable energy systems.

Joyce and the party's dinosaur, Ron Boswell, opposed the policy and lost the vote. Boswell's astonishing reaction to this was to declare that he would work to ensure that feed-in tariffs do not become the party's policy at the next election. He said, accurately, that the feed-in policy was more like a Greens policy than a Nationals policy, which is hardly a sound basis for its rejection: it's either good policy or bad, irrespective of which party proposes it.

Like the Liberal Party, the Nationals are also split on climate change. Nevertheless, their highest policy body has now conceded that climate change is real and that it is at least in part caused by human activity. The council also urged the Federal Government to work with the states to introduce feed-in arrangements.

If feed-in policies operate, then sunny Queensland, represented in the Senate by Joyce and Boswell, would be ideally placed. Householders could gather all their energy needs from rooftop photovoltaic panels, with any excess power sold into the grid to help pay off the capital cost of their rooftop investment. Such households could also have cheap, plug-in facilities for their electric cars.

$7m loss despite revenue increase

Monday 31/8/2009 Page: 21

Jackgreen Energy executive chairman Greg Martin expects the renewable energy retailer to more than double profit and revenue in the next two years despite handing down a fullyear net loss of more than $7 million for 2008-09. The company announced late on Friday that its net loss had swollen to $7.08 million in the 12 months to June 30, in part due to a squeeze on margins from revised electricity prices in Queensland and a build-up of costs in its solar hot water business Easy Being Green. That loss compared with $32m in the previous financial year.

But the result showed strong revenue growth, up 50% to $65.7m, reflecting the increasing number of Jackgreen Energy customers, up 20,000 in the year to 70,000, and the development of the Easy Being Green business. According to management, the company is on the edge of a turnaround, promising a continuation of strong revenue growth in 2009-10 and the achievement of "a maiden profit and positive cashflow". "There are now over a million electricity consumers in the country who have chosen to buy all, or in part, their electricity from a renewable source," Mr Martin said.

Jackgreen Energy sells greenpower accredited electricity only. We know there is a strong market," Mr Martin said. "There is no reason why, that three years from now the company isn't serving more than 250,000 customers." Until now, Jackgreen Energy had been selling into the residential market only but over the next 12 months the company was planning to move into the commercial market, he said. "We think.., we can grow our revenue by 50%.., in each of the next two years and we think we can increase our profit by 50% in each of those two years as well," Mr Martin said.

Underlying earnings before interest, tax and depreciation were, however, crunched by higher significant items that led to earnings diving 45% to a loss of $2.1m. Significant items increased to $6.6m from an $876,000 loss in 2007-08 because of doubtful debt write offs, and the company's operating costs ballooned by 35% as staff numbers rose.

Mr Martin said on Friday that the latest result reflected the board's decision to deal with a number of legacy issues, the most notable of which related to bad and doubtful debts. He said the company remained committed to its Mark II growth blueprint, including its target of 100,000 signed customers in 2009-10 and an EBITDA of $10m for the year. Jackgreen Energy shares closed steady on Friday at 11.5c.

Tap solar power to harness hydrogen energy: Expert
1 September 2009

CHENNAI: The residents of Tamil Nadu who constantly fret over the harsh summer that lasts nearly throughout the year better think again. Energy experts say it is actually a blessing in disguise. Especially T Nejat Veziroglu, president of the international association for hydrogen energy. He feels the state's immense solar energy potential is ideal for harnessing hydrogen energy.

Nejat Veziroglu was in Chennai on Monday to address students of RMK engineering college on the hydrogen energy system the ultimate solution, according to him, to energy and environmental problems. He told TOI about the vast potential of hydrogen energy and about why India should adopt it. "Hydrogen is considered an ideal energy carrier in the foreseeable future. It can be produced from water using a variety of energy sources, such as solar, nuclear and fossils, and it can be converted into useful energy forms efficiently and without detrimental environmental effects," he said.

According to him, hydrogen can be used in any application in which fossil fuels are used. "It can be used as a fuel in furnaces, internal combustion engines, turbines and jet engines, even more efficiently than fossil fuels, that is, coal, petroleum and natural gas. Automobiles, trains, ships, submarines, planes and rockets can run on hydrogen." The good news for a power-starved country like India is that hydrogen can be converted directly to electricity. To generate 1 kWh of electrical energy using a fuel-cell, just 0.05 kg of hydrogen need be supplied.

"India has the knowhow to create hydrogen energy as many universities, including IITs, Benares Hindu University and RMK engineering college, are conducting research on this. The country's energy infrastructure must be based on hydrogen instead of petroleum," said Veziroglu. He said his organisation would be more than happy to help universities interested in research on hydrogen energy. "India also suffers from various environmental problems, mainly pollution. Using hydrogen energy can help reduce this," he said.

China's 1st Large Coal-to-Gas Project under Construction

Construction of China's first large coal-to-gas project started in northern China Sunday to ensure natural gas supply to Beijing and promote clean energy use.

Located in Chifeng city of the coal-rich Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, the project is designed to transmit four billion cubic meters of natural gas to the Chinese capital annually through a 381-kilometer-pipeline when the project is completed in 2012, according to the China Datang Corporation, the builder of the project. Prior to that, it is expected to supply 1.34 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2010, and 2.68 cubic meters in 2011.

Beijing needs seven to eight billion cubic meters of natural gas annually. The demand is growing by 20% every year. The new project could solve the deficiency of natural gas supply to Beijing and reduce the city's dependence on limited gas sources and transmission lines to ensure the capital's energy security, said Qin Jianming, deputy general manager of the Datang International Power Generation Co., Ltd.

Wu Guihui, chief engineer of the National Energy Administration under the National development and Reform Commission, said the coal-based clean energy project will massively reduce emission of pollutants, help facilitate energy development restructuring and improve Beijing's air quality.

Iceland's geothermal know-how to warm others
August 30, 2009

Hellisheidi, Iceland - - Steam thunders out of the black volcanic earth, screaming into the chill winter sky from a truck-size metal vent with the intensity of a jet engine at takeoff. A few hundred yards to the west, Iceland is being torn apart as the European and North American plates pull away from one another, drawing magma (molten rock) toward the nation's thin crust, building its mountains, and heating groundwater into steam.

In between, at the foot of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge - the longest mountain range in the world that rises from a tectonic boundary on the Atlantic seafloor - stands Iceland's newest geothermal power station. It's a chic edifice of glass and steel that attracts tens of thousands of visitors a year who come to see how Icelanders heat and power their nation largely without the use of fossil fuels.

"Most of the interest in geothermal has been sparked not by environmental considerations, but by oil prices," said Eirikur Hjalmarsson of Reykjavik Energy, the public utility that owns the plant. "We went from 95% of our energy coming from fossil fuels in the middle of the last century to about 20% today."

Fifty-mile-deep wells or boreholes have been drilled into these ancient lava fields east of the capital, Reykjavik, tapping enormous quantities of steam that are piped into the plant and forced through turbines to generate 213 MWs of power, enough to power 175,000 typical U.S, homes. After passing through turbines, the steam is harnessed to provide heat to Reykjavik's homes and businesses, fill its steam baths and heat its swimming pools, and even keep streets and sidewalks warm and ice-free through the sub-Arctic winter.

Even though Iceland's financial sector collapsed last fall, it has found creative ways to use sustainable geothermal power. And many of its innovations may be coming to Northern California and other geothermal-rich regions seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on oil, coal, and natural gas.

In Hveragerdi, 6 miles from Reykjavik, geothermal energy is used to heat rows of greenhouses. In the dead of winter, the shadows of banana trees can be seen against the frost-covered glass walls. In the far north, hot water from geothermal plants is used to farm fish at the edge of the Arctic Circle.

On another ancient lava field 40 miles southeast of here, tourists relax in the hot mineral-laden water of the Blue Lagoon, the country's most famous tourist site and the healthful effluent of the Svartsengi geothermal plant. Here at Hellisheidi, after the steam has been used by a tissue manufacturer and a pharmaceutical firm (which harvests enzymes from heat-loving microbes), the leftover hot water "waste" is pumped back into the ground, to be reheated by the magma.

"Icelanders approach geothermal the way the Indians approached the buffalo: They use every bit of it," said Tal Finney of Iceland America Energy, based in Los Angeles, which aims to bring Icelandic know-how to California's extensive geothermal resources. "America can truly benefit from what Icelanders have learned."

Northern California is home to the largest complex of geothermal power plants on Earth: 22 plants at The Geysers, 72 miles north of San Francisco, which generate 725 MWs. The United States remains the largest geothermal electricity producer, and California accounts for more than 85% of installed capacity, although few plants have been built in the past 30 years or utilize the resource as completely as Iceland does. But that may soon change.

The Geothermal Energy Association in Washington, D.C, estimates that geothermal projects now in development will increase U.S, production by more than 50% once they are completed in the next several years. In California, three new power plants are under way around the Salton Sea in Imperial County. And Iceland America Energy - a firm partly owned by Reykjavik Energy - is conducting a feasibility study to create a district heating plant in the resort town of Mammoth Lakes, 275 miles east of San Francisco.

"The whole western U.S, has a large geothermal potential," said Alexander Richter, a sustainable energy expert at Glitnir, an Icelandic bank that invested in geothermal technology until the financial crash. "This is an industry where Icelanders have advantages in knowledge and experience that can be used abroad."

Finney noted that his Icelandic colleagues have a leg up in negotiating with municipalities and other stakeholders, skills that are essential to building a district heating plant. "In Iceland they're used to doing everything by consensus," he said. "The want to succeed and have a bottom line, but they want to do it in such a way that allows them flexibility in working with communities. There's a whole bunch of low-hanging fruit waiting to be exploited in California." Reykjavik Energy sees such opportunities worldwide.

China already has centralized municipal heating networks, making it relatively easy to swap existing coal-fired plants for geothermal ones in places with the right underground resources. In Africa, people lack adequate supplies of electricity and drinking water: Geothermal plants can provide both.

Distilled water, too
"Instead of combined heat and power plants, you can have water and power plants, because distillation of water is an integral part of the process," said Hjalmarsson.

Iceland's government is committed to taking matters much further, eliminating fossil fuels altogether by midcentury to become the world's first hydrogen-based economy. The idea: to convert all the country's gas vehicles to hydrogen fuel-cells, which will be charged using electricity from geothermal and hydro plants.

"When the Vikings came here they were using only renewables - sun, wind, and some wood," said Bragi Arnason, the University of Iceland professor who came up with the plan in the 1970s. "We imported the first pieces of coal in the 18th century, and the first drops of oil in the 19th and soon all the energy consumed in Iceland came from imported fossil fuels. We are building the infrastructure that will let us again produce all of our energy from domestic, renewable sources." The project is still in its early stages.

Hydrogen fuel
The world's first commercial hydrogen fueling station opened in Reykjavik in 2003, and now serves a fleet of 14 hydrogen cars. Three hydrogen-powered buses ran on the streets of the capital for four years without problems, and a fuel-cell-equipped whale-watching boat operates from the harbor.

Iceland's financial crisis, however, has delayed plans to build 15 more filling stations to give nationwide coverage and the global recession has pushed back foreign automakers' delivery of commercial fuel-cell vehicles.

"The crisis in the auto industry is more serious than expected, so new car types will be delayed like everything else," said Jon Bjorn Skulason, general manager of Icelandic New Energy, the organization charged with managing the experiment. "They key issue for us is that other governments take the same attitudes, because we can never do this alone."

Iceland says no to fossil fuels
Iceland, a Kentucky-size country of 320,000 inhabitants with no domestic coal, oil or gas, receives virtually all of its electricity and home heating from geothermal and hydroelectric plants. Only 20% of the nation's energy comes from fossil fuels, which are typically used to power vehicles and ships.

Steam vents and geysers - the latter an Icelandic word - are a common sight in a country with 20 active volcanoes. Huge quantities of water pour down from the sky or from ice caps that cover a tenth of the country. Much of central Reykjavik, the capital, is dotted with stainless steel huts that cover geothermal bore holes that the state power utility company holds in reserve.

Iceland's cheap, clean energy also supports its extensive aluminum industry, whose smelters require enormous quantities of electricity. This process, which effectively exports renewable energy by converting it into metals, is controversial among some environmentalists since the smelters produce greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

Eco-resort turns to solar power
Aug 31, 2009

Queensland Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones says an eco-resort on the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef is leading the way in renewable energy. Ms Jones officially opened a hybrid solar energy station on Lady Elliot Island, off the central Queensland coast, on Saturday. She says the power station will supply the island's resort with most of its energy needs. "Their reliance on diesel fuel has now been cut by two-thirds, ultimately they want to move to being a clean energy facility," she said. "This is a great example of local businesses being innovative and reducing their carbon emissions."

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Fans of clean, green power - Electricity for 15.000 homes

Sun Herald
Sunday 30/8/2009 Page: 29

THE state's capacity to produce power from the air has leapt with the commissioning of its biggest - and smallest - wind farms. The power generator Origin Energy has spent $95 million building 15 wind turbines, each 80 metres tall, to produce 30 MWs of electricity on the Cullerin Range, 30 kilometres west of Goulburn. Erected on four farms, over a 10-kilometre stretch of countryside, the turbines can produce enough electricity to power 15,000 typical NSW homes.

On a dairy farm near the South Coast town of Gerringong, what may be Australia's smallest wind energy company, Rewind Energy, has switched on its first wind energy station - a single turbine, generating up to 10 kWs. While sufficient to power no more than three homes, "it's enough electricity for the farmer", Rewind Energy director Stuart Thomson said.

He estimated the turbine would "produce $3000 to $4000 worth of electricity a year". Any surplus power could be sold back into the electricity grid, earning the farmer money. With government rebates and other incentives, the turbine should pay for itself in about 10 years. "After that they have free electricity," Mr Thomson said.

He believed that despite their ability to churn out "green energy", the wind turbines' selling point for farmers was the economics of being largely independent from the commercial energy grid. "Farmers are running a business, and electricity prices are going up and up," he said. Mr Thomson conceded that wind energy was unlikely to replace solar energy as the main source of renewable power in urban areas.

"Putting up 12-metre towers in someone's backyard is going to cause issues," he said. "But in rural areas they make sense. Australia has some of the best wind resources in the world." An Origin Energy spokeswoman estimated that the Cullerin Range windfarm increased NSW's total operational commercial wind energy capacity from 16.6 MWs to 46.6 MWs - still a tiny fraction of the state's energy needs and way behind the capacity of all other states, except Queensland.

Crunching the numbers on nuclear energy versus renewables
Thursday 27/8/2009 Page: 1

Author : Research scientist Michael R James

The ignorance, either wilful or ideological, around nuclear energy that has reared its head in the media again this week does no one any good.

ABC's Insiders regular Andrew Bolt was doing it again Sunday. In a veritable cyclone of misinformation he claimed that to obtain 20% of power generation from renewable sources by 2020 was "impossible", and if it was attempted using wind generation it would be at "huge, huge cost", which would require a wind turbine spaced every 300 metres from Perth to Sydney. Oh, and nuclear energy was essential and inevitable for Australia.

Based on approximately 4500 kilometres of coastline, this implies that 15,000 turbines would be needed. Modern land-based turbines have a generation capacity of 2.5MW (sea-based can be 3.6MW), thus he is implying 37.5GW capacity, which is actually about 95% of the last published total power generation for all of Australia. But 20% of generation estimates for 2020 (arguable but approximately 50GW generated from about 65GW capacity, neglecting expected efficiency gains) is about 10GW.

No one is suggesting that all renewable energy should come from one source such as wind (though it is the only renewable that is proven to be cost competitive with coal-without-CCS, ie, with dirty coal) but let's even accept the implied 15,000 turbines, as wild as it is - - even if it doesn't strike one as impossible on our vast land and coastline, the longest of any country in the world.

At about $1 million each, it amounts to about $15 billion without considering grid costs (much of which will be required whatever new energy sources are built). A large amount of money to be sure, but is this sum really a "huge, huge cost"? Of course, sensibly one has to look at what the differential would be if the power was obtained by other means.

By comparison, the most recently completed and largest ever (750MW) Australian coal-fired plant at Kogan Creek in Queensland cost a reported A$1.1B. At these prices, without CCS or any provision for future CCS, 10GW capacity would cost $14.7 billion at 2005 prices. Allowing for the considerable inflation in the cost of building materials, particularly steel and cement, it doesn't seem that coal power is much cheaper than wind even if adopting the most pessimistic estimates re wind turbines.

Not to mention the likely doubling in the costs of coal power due to health and environmental impacts, according to an expert scientific report. Or the stupendous cost of CCS - - more than $2 billion for UK plants, which capture at most 25% of the carbon output.

Whichever way one does the sums, the nuclear option is more expensive and without factoring in insurance - - usually only from government - - and "stranded" end-of-life costs, also ultimately carried by government. While renewable energy costs are on a consistent downward trend, nuclear plants have a long-established history of "huge, huge" cost over-runs.

This might explain why private financing for new nuclear energy plants in the USA has proven almost impossible (though some states are trying hard; Missouri has recently suspended plans for its own Areva EPR) and why last year 42% of all new electrical generation capacity was in fact wind energy.

These financial facts kind of knock the wind out of certain arguments. One wonders how the "nuclear not solar or wind" champions such as Barnaby Joyce, an accountant no less, do their sums? Probably by total denial in the same way they do not want to be reminded that it was their government who lost the Australian expatriate Shi Zhengrong, CEO of China's SunTech, which has just taken over Germany with the No.2 solar company and is closing in on the world No.1, the American company FirstSolar.

Almost every single statement made by our Insiders' commentator contained errors of fact. An ill wind indeed. As argued previously and as the nuclear industry continues to prove in Finland and elsewhere, while "nuclear energy was worth trying. We tried it: its weakness proved to be economics, not safety. Now nuclear generation is just an impediment to sustainable electricity."

The author is an Australian research scientist. These are the author's personal opinions and do not represent the views of any organisation or institution with which he is affiliated.

Infigen hopes to get wind in its sales

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Friday 28/8/2009 Page: 47

Wind power generator Infigen Energy is continuing to shed assets overseas and may make $2.4 billion of potential United States asset sales in six months. The move will assist Infigen Energy to start up new projects in Australia faster as emissions trading targets become harder. The sale process was revealed last week, with most interest coming from US utilities and pension funds, according to managing director Miles George.

Additional capital could assist Infigen Energy to consolidate its position as Australia's largest wind energy generator. Net debt fell 50% during the year for the company formerly known as Babcock and Brown Wind Partners. Macquarie Private Portfolio Management fund manager Gareth Hulbert says if US assets gain a reasonable price then this would assist funding for Infigen Energy's local development. One analyst warned buyers may cherry pick the best assets.

Full-year profit lifted to $189.5 million, in the first annual results since management ties were broken with Babcock and Brown. Mr George indicated that 25% shareholder in Infigen Energy, Kairos, and The Children Investment Fund backed the plan to hold onto the Australian assets.

Turbines set to turn Wind of change for waterfront

Hobart Mercury
Friday 28/8/2009 Page: 3

WIND turbines will soon be turning on the roof of the Marine Board Building. The Sullivans Cove Waterfront Authority has approved the development application for the turbines, which will generate 14.4% of the building's annual energy needs. The decision conies after the Hobart City Council rejected an almost identical proposal late last month for the top of the ANZ Building in the CBD, which was put forward by the same developer. Robert Rockefeller.

Mr Rockefeller welcomed the approval and hoped it would pave the way for the ANZ Building decision to be overturned when it is appealed in the Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal next week. "It is a terrific result for the Marine Board Building and it is an opportunity for Tasmania to embrace new technology," Mr Rockefeller said. "We are working with the Hobart City Council to overcome many of the issues they have raised and hopefully we will be able to have a win-win solution to have turbines on the ANZ Building."

Lord Mayor Rob Valentine would not comment on the decision to avoid prejudicing next week's appeal but Alderman Darlene Haigh labelled it as "shocking". "I would ask the Government, can they guarantee the safety of Hobart and its population by having wind turbines constructed on the Marine Board Building?" she said. "Should a blade cone adrift from the top of the Marine Board Building, this would be a risk to everyone below."

The cove authority has imposed conditions on the project including the possible removal of the turbines if they cease to operate for more than 180 days, create noise or liars bird life. The appropriateness of the turbines and their effectiveness will be reviewed when the operating permit expires in 12 years. Minister Assisting the Premier on Climate Change Lisa Singh said there were opportunities for similar projects.

A proposal has been put forward for a medical centre at Lindisfarne on Hobart's Eastern Shore that will feature solar and possibly geothermal energy and wind turbines. "This is a day where we can celebrate moving another step closer to Hobart being a renewable energy city," Ms Singh said. "There is an amazing opportunity for us to become a leading renewable energy city in Australia and I would hope there will be many more proposals." The height of the four turbines has been reduced from 15m to 11m and each will have five blades rather than the original proposal of six, to reduce their visual impact.

Chinese glut hinders local solar cell trade

Friday 28/8/2009 Page: 7

LAVISHLY subsidised Chinese solar cells are flooding the world market and creating a glut that threatens to hamper the Rudd government's efforts to foster a solar cell industry in Australia. Under pressure from low priced Chinese solar cell exports, European and US producers are cutting production, sacking staff, reporting financial losses and looking to relocate manufacturing plants in Asia.

Some of the leading solar cell manufacturers in California have warned that low-priced Chinese cells could hurt US President Barack Obama's plans to promote the growth of renewable energy industries. This week, Zhengrong Shi, a graduate of the University of New South Wales and the head of what is becoming the world's biggest producer of solar cells, SunTech, was quoted in The New York Times as saying the company was selling solar cells into the US at below cost price to build its market share.

Last month, federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett announced that the government was providing $1.2 million towards installing a solar system at the Sydney Theatre Company as part of the "Greening the Wharf Program". Dr Shi, and his wife Vivienne, donated $2m from their family foundation towards the solar project at the STC, which utilises technology from the University of New South Wales.

In Australia, falling prices have meant federal government subsidies for solar panels have allowed customers to install solar systems virtually without cost. But solar retailers with higher priced European solar panels are running into difficulties as prices for Chinese products fall. The haste in installing before the end of the solar rebate has also led to claims that cheaper, poor-quality solar systems are being haphazardly put into place without proper connections.

Under the rebate scheme, homes, businesses and farms can install solar energy systems to offset their electricity bills and feed excess solar energyed electricity back into the national electricity grid at a premium. Canberra solar system supplier, Phil May, director of Solartec Renewables, told The Australian yesterday the solar industry had been hit by cut-price Chinese products and did not enough time to deal with demand.

"One of the problems is that the federal government was in such a hurry to create jobs for hundreds of installers, there's been a lot of substandard work done and some people have installed poor-quality systems," Mr May said. "I'm worried the solar industry in Australia is going to end up with a bloody nose and a bad name."

Mr May said some solar businesses had been "virtually railroaded into installing substandard systems just to stay in business". He said the prices of some solar panels imported from China had dropped from about $1600 to $1050 in the past few months and that some were of poor quality. Mr May said he was getting business from householders who had had solar systems installed but discovered the cheap system and installation had not covered connecting the systems to the electricity grid and the required permits had not been obtained.

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said the government had been warned about poor-quality installation of solar systems under the rebate scheme. "Reputable installers have been complaining to us about rushed jobs because of the rush to get into the scheme, when prices dropped so far you could get a solar system effectively for free," Mr Hunt said.

Renewables put focus on national grid

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Thursday 27/8/2009 Page: 11

Infrastructure Australia's chairman Rod Eddington has told an Australian Institute of Company Directors lunch in Melbourne that the key advisory body to the federal government plans to focus on linking renewable energy projects to the national grid. Sir Rod said 'we're going to have to invest in substantial new generation capacity, solar, wind and geothermal, but we're also going to have to invest in the grid so we can bring that power to the places where it is needed.' Sir Rod noted recent PPPs in Victoria, including its desalination plant, and the Peninsula Link highway.

Carbon tax better: Clinton official

Thursday 27/8/2009 Page: 3

TRADING of emission permits around the world will become a financial rort that fails to reduce carbon emissions - and will ultimately be scrapped in favour of a simple carbon tax, a former senior official in the Clinton administration has forecast. Robert Shapiro, former US undersecretary of commerce and author of Futurecast, predicted that the US Senate would reject the emissions trading scheme proposed by President Obama, which is now before it.

Speaking by video to the Trade 2020 conference convened by Austrade and the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Dr Shapiro said "cap-and-trade" systems as proposed by the US and the Australian governments to limit carbon dioxide emissions and allow trade in permits do not work as intended.

"Cap and trade has proved very vulnerable to vested interests, and therefore too weak to deliver the necessary emission reductions", he said. "Cap and trade creates trillions of dollars of new financial instruments to be traded, and subjected to the next financial fads. China and India will never accept a cap-and-trade regime."

A better solution is to impose a carbon tax on emissions and return the revenue from it to households so people are not made worse off, Dr Shapiro said. A similar approach in Sweden has cut emissions there by 8% since 1990 while GDP rose about 40%. CEDA research director Michael Porter strongly supported Dr Shapiro. CEDA today will release a report urging the Rudd Government to scrap its emissions trading scheme in favour of a carbon tax.

Dr Porter warned that a carbon market would not be trading carbon, "it'll be trading derivatives". International trade in permits will mean the integrity of a permit is only as good as the weakest supervisory regime. Economists are divided over which is the better way to fight climate change. Emissions trading has won widespread support because it is a market-based solution that, in theory, will deliver certain emission reductions at the lowest cost, as companies that can't reduce emissions cheaply instead buy permits from companies that can.

City drafts renewable energy policy

West Australian
Wednesday 26/8/2009 Page: 47

The City of Stirling has launched a draft of WA's first renewable energy system policy, which covers the planting of wind turbines in commercial and residential areas. The policy sets the framework for incorporating the new technology into homes, offices, shops and other commercial precincts. The aim is to ensure wind turbines can be used without adversely affecting the local amenity.

For example, they must be located to sides or rear of properties so as not to affect significantly the existing streetscape and will be subject to height restrictions and noise controls. And while wind turbines will require planning approval and a building licence, solar panels will remain exempt.

Stirling's acting chief executive, Ross Povey, said the council had received an increasing number of inquiries concerning wind energy systems. They would be addressed by the draft policy. "It is certainly a step in the right direction to ensure the city does all it can to encourage the incorporation of sustainable and renewable energy systems in the future," he said. The policy will be dynamic and will be modified over time as renewable energy technologies advance. The draft is being advertised for public comment.

Turbine for green energy

Daily Telegraph
Wednesday 26/8/2009 Page: 2

WATER flow from Warragamba Dam will be used to generate green energy through a 30-tonne turbine lifted into place at Prospect Reservoir yesterday. The turbine will convert flows ranging from 5000 to 12,000 litres per second into electricity. "This new hydro-electric plant will generate about 20,000 MW hours of green energy a year, which is enough to power more than 1500 average homes," Water Minister Phil Costa said. "The plant will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 20,000 tonnes a year the equivalent of taking 5000 cars off the road." It will pump clean drinking water to about 600,000 Sydney residents with excess power going back into the grid. The plant is the largest of Sydney Water's renewable energy projects.

Monday 31 August 2009

Solar coal: A near-term solution
August 27, 2009

Abengoa Solar, a utility-scale solar company building big solar thermal power plants in the deserts of Arizona, announced today that it's going to build a demonstration of its solar thermal power plant technology connecting to a coal plant near Grand Junction, Colo.

Solar thermal technology uses big arrays of mirrors to heat water that turns turbines and creates power. Abengoa says its technology can be used to increase the efficiency of coal plants and lower the greenhouse gas emissions of a coal-fired power that otherwise would be produced when coal is burned to make the steam. The Lakewood, Colo., company has partnered with Colorado utility Xcel Energy on the 4 MW demonstration project.

Solar thermal for coal plants and old combined cycle gas plants – the dirtiest electricity producers out there — is billed by the solar thermal industry as a way to lower the greenhouse gas emissions of coal plants quickly and cheaply. Much of the delay in getting solar thermal plants built can be attributed to problems getting building and land permits and long waiting lists for new steam turbines. However, it is much easier to get permits for installing solar thermal on existing coal fired power plant sites than it is to try to permit new land for stand-alone solar thermal plants. And, turbine delays are a non-issue since coal plants already have turbines.

Mountain View-based Ausra already demonstrated this solar-coal hybrid model at a coal plant in Australia and is pitching it to power plant owners and operators and manufacturing facilities as a near-term solution to increasing efficiency and lowering the environmental impact of coal plants in the U.S.

Katherine Potter, vice president of communications for Ausra, said the company can get a solar thermal plant installed at a coal plant in six to 18 months depending on a project's size. solar thermal power can raise output at peak sunlight by 5% in super sunny places like Phoenix, Ariz., and it can decrease a plant's CO2 emissions between 30,000 and 1.7 million tons per year. "I think there's certainly a way to address emissions earlier rather than later," Potter said.

Detractors might say that adding solar thermal doesn't do much to discourage the burning of coal to produce energy and that we should focus instead on new renewable energy solutions. But the fact is renewable energy is still far more expensive than that from coal-fired and natural gas power plants. And as many, many energy officials and industry executives will tell you: coal isn't going away anytime soon – not while America remains opposed to paying a whole lot more for electricity. Finding solutions that will at least lower the impact while renewable energy solutions continue to be developed, may be our best bet.