Thursday 29 October 2009

BWEA: Current funding for marine generation is not enough
26 October 2009

Without more funding from government, Britain is at risk of losing its position as the market leader of the marine industry, as well as the social and economic benefits that would follow, according to a report released this month by the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA). In its 'State of the Industry' report, the trade organisation, which has increasingly been concerned with the marine industry, said the level of UK support for marine energy was not yet of the magnitude required to develop a world-class industry and that Britain risked promising research and development moving overseas.

The BWEA said that revenue support of five Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) or equivalent would be an appropriate level to support marine energy projects after the initial 10MW of capacity has been installed. It claimed that at a support level of two ROCs, commercial-style projects were "unlikely" until each marine technology had deployed at least 100MW of cumulative installed capacity.

The report noted a belief in the marine industry that despite the opening of the Marine Renewable Proving Fund (MRPF) in September, there was a funding gap between the capital grants available for small prototype development and the revenue support for long-term operation of projects, making it difficult for small-scale developers to realise projects. Without "sufficient support in the early stages of development", the BWEA said that an installed capacity of 1GW of marine energy projects would be difficult to achieve, falling short of its members' estimated potential for UK waters of up to 2GW.

The BWEA added that grant support available for research and development was "disjointed" as it was provided by a range of different bodies - the Carbon Trust, Scottish Government, the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the Environmental Technology Institute (ETI) - which means applying for funding, and identifying the appropriate source, is complex. As well running the MRPF, the Carbon Trust makes funding available through the Marine Renewables Development Fund (MRDF) for projects closer to commercialisation. The report said that to date, no projects have met the MRDF's eligibility criteria of a three month full scale sea trial due to a lack of support for prototypes.

In addition, the significant costs of deployment due to factors such as competing with other offshore industries for specialist vessels and waiting for suitable weather windows are not being covered, it claimed. The MRPF is seen as filling some of this gap, and the BWEA said it expected a number of devices to achieve the criteria over the next few years. However, the BWEA urged the government to ensure that long term funding was available for testing at sea and to reflect the high costs of installing the initial projects.

Foreign shores
The report also expressed a fear that because of the more generous support given to marine technologies in Scotland, and abroad, developers will look to base projects outside England and Wales. Since 2006, the Scottish government has supported nine projects through its £13.5 million Wave and Tidal Energy Support Scheme (WATES) and plans to increase support available to three ROCs per MWh for electricity generated from tidal power devices and five ROCs per MWh for wave energy.

Portugal was cited as an attractive energy market with a support level of 23 cents/kWh, and Pelamis Wave Power has already installed the world's first multi-unit wave farm, amounting to 2.25MW of wave energy capacity, in Portuguese waters. The BWEA said that the five ROCs level would be appropriate to support marine energy projects after the initial 10MW of capacity has been installed. However, it added that the development of the first small-scale projects to achieve this installed capacity would require capital grant funding in addition to revenue support.

Hydro profits despite drought

Hobart Mercury
Wednesday 28/10/2009 Page: 13

ONE-third of Tasmania's electricity supply for the past year came from interstate, Hydro Tasmania said yesterday. The state-owned business recorded an operating profit of $38 million in the 2008-09 financial year, a turnaround on last year's loss of $58 million. Hydro said the good result was achieved despite below-average inflows and a decision to rebuild storages. The result was a net import of power across the Basslink cable.

Generation from Tasmania's hydro assets made up about 67% of local electricity consumption. No dividend was paid to the State Government after three years of drought. Winter rain has boosted storages to almost 47%, the best in six years, but Hydro chairman David Crean said challenges remained. He said there was some way to go before Hydro's returns matched those of its national competitors.

Dr Crean said Hydro was focused on trying to be competitive in an increasingly tough market, particularly with the entry of the gas-fired Tamar Valley Power Station. Chief executive officer Vince Hawksworth said the purchase of Momentum Energy, an independent retailer in Victoria, and the sale of Roaring 40s' Asian assets signalled the changing nature of the business. Hydro released only a summary yesterday with the full annual report expected today.

Handouts lease wind power at risk

Wednesday 28/10/2009 Page: 4

THE federal government has been urged to consider a buyback of certificates issued under the Renewable Energy Target to halt a plunge in prices that threatens billion of dollars of investment in the renewable energy sector. Peter Yates, the head of utilities and climate change at Macquarie Group, said the slump in the price of renewable energy certificates to below $30 from more than $50 two months ago meant many renewable energy projects would not go ahead. "$30 means stop," Mr Yates told The Australian at the Carbon Markets Expo on the Gold Coast yesterday. "The government should be intervening in the market, buying certificates and holding them for sale later (when the price goes up). They could do that at no cost."

renewable energy certificates each represent one MW-hour of electricity and have been introduced by the Rudd government to help achieve its target of 20% renewable energy by 2020. The price of the certificates has been pushed down nearly 50% in the past six months because of a massive public take-up of solar hotwater systems, fuelled by the increase in the federal subsidy for them from $1000 to $1600. Analysts fear certificates from solar hot water and from rooftop panels will continue to flood the market for several years and make planned investments in wind and other emerging energy sources such as geothermal unviable.

Manufacturers of wind energy towers have been hit hard, with Keppel Steel, which builds about 40% of wind towers in Australia from its base at Portland in western Victoria, having to consider how it can keep employing 150 people. Keppel Steel manager Steve Garner, said the company built 140 wind towers last year, but this year it had built only 54. "The global economic crisis has had a lot to do with it. We've geared up for an expansion in this area we've spent about $12 million on new equipment but instead of that it's going backWard quickly," he said. "I've just spoken to the workforce today and told them what the situation is. And when you talk to people on the other side the guys who invest in wind farms they tell you that they'd like to invest, but at the moment it's just not worth it."

But Climate Change and Water Minister Penny Wong has indicated there will be no change in government attitudes until a review of small-scale technologies in the renewable energy sector is completed by the Council of Australian Governments in December. The Greens have called on the government to remove solar hotwater and heat pumps from the scheme, a position largely supported by the renewable energy industry. The Gas Industry Alliance also called for hotwater systems and heat pumps to be removed from the scheme because they were standing in the way of jobs creation.

Rudd pushes plan for better, greener cities

Wednesday 28/10/2009 Page: 9

AUSTRALIAN cities need to be better planned and the Federal Government was willing to use its power over the purse to ensure they were, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said last night. The Commonwealth would consider linking future infrastructure funding to conditions imposed on projects, he said. "The goal is that our cities have strong, transparent and loner terns plans for growth and high-quality urban development, that our cities are productive, liveable and sustainable. "If the Commonwealth is to foot any significant part of the urban infrastructure bill", it would "expect to have confidence in the integrity of the strategic planning system in our major cities", lie told the Business Council of Australia in Sydney.

Mr Rudd outlined eight criteria for strategic urban planning to be based on:
  • There should be credible plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions through initiatives such as energy efficiency pleasures, changes in town planning, improvements in public transport infrastructure and reform of building codes and regulations.
  • The risks of climate change causing coastal flooding and other problems should be provided for.
  • Land release should be arranged to meet the housing needs of a growing population and keep homes affordable.
  • "In-fill" and greenfield developments should be balanced.
  • World-class design and architectural integrity should be emphasised.
  • Significant infrastructure such as transport corridors should be built and upgraded.
  • Governments should take into account independent advice.
  • An effective framework for private-sector investment should be provided.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

New power station will never run dry

Hobart Mercury
Tuesday 27/10/2009 Page: 14

THE new gas-fired Tamar Valley Power Station would give Tasmania energy security for the long term, Premier David Bartlett said yesterday at its official opening. Mr Bartlett said the Tasmanian energy system would have been in real trouble if it had not been for the $451 million power station, parts of which began operating six months ago, and recent good rainfall. The State Government bought the partly constructed power station from Babcock and Brown in August last year when that company was hit by debt problems.

The station is capable of generating a total 390 MWs of electricity, using gas imported across the Tasmanian Gas Pipeline from Victoria. Power will be sold into the national market over the Basslink undersea electricity cable. Mr Bartlett said the station would add to the competitive nature of Tasmanian electricity prices. "This provides for competition to the traditional Hydro generation and overall competition will minimise prices over tine," the Premier said. But he stopped short of saying it would result in cheaper prices for Tasmanian householders.

Aurora Energy chief executive Peter Davis said the station would supply 14% of the state's needs. Emissions would be lower than those of the former Bell Bay thermal station. Dr Davis said state-of-the-art technology would help the station produce competitively priced power. "At the end of the day it is the market which sets the price and we are working very hard to be competitive." he said. "By putting in place a gasfired power station, we can avoid some of the high prices that occurred when the Hydro ran out of water due to drought."

Making waves: the company you've never heard of
October 26, 2009

The most important small business you've never heard of before has recently inked another deal to set up a sea-based power station in Japan. US-based Ocean Power Technologies, founded by an Australian inventor, builds buoys that ride waves, converting their natural energy into electricity, promoting a technology that could ease carbon emissions while powering cities and industries. In Australia OPT is partnering with Leighton Contractors to build a 19-MW demonstration wave station near Portland, Victoria, which would create enough electricity to power about 7000 homes.

The Victorian project is "quite advanced", said OPT (Australasia) director Gilbert George. However, its biggest impact for the company and its technology would be its commercial significance once operational. Mr George said the company had made a "very detailed submissions to the Victorian Government", while the company is seeking debt and equity funding for the project. With the race between China, Europe and the US to dominate green-energy production heating up, OPT is angling to have its technology adapted by energy companies in Europe, Australia, Asia and North America.

Low profile
Proving its technology makes business sense is the next step for the company which is not well-known even within the emerging green power industry - another challenge for a company proposing an alternative not just to fossil fuels, but to the wind and solar energy producers. "Being very focused on technology, we haven't had a high profile," said Mr George. "We haven't really looked until recently at actively promoting what we're doing."

OPT's buoys use the ocean's rising and falling motion to move an internal piston, which in turn drives an on-board electrical generator. That power is then transmitted ashore through an underwater cable. Buoys requiring less than a tenth of a square kilometre of ocean could generate 10 MWs of electricity, more than a train locomotive. Expanding them into full wave farms could generate 100 MWs or more, enough to power about 40,000-50,000 homes. "OPT is really a technology development company," said Mr George, noting the company which generated $US4 million last year but has about $US80 million in the bank.

The revenues help offset the cost of employing the 60-odd engineers the company hires, slowing the company's cash burn rate. "Owning individual power stations is not our business," he said. "But we're well funded to develop and deliver technology into these projects." The company is building a 10 buoy wave farm near off the north coast of Spain in conjunction with Spanish energy company Iberdola and French energy company Total. Once the design and development stage ends, Iberdola said it plans to roll out wave farms generating 100s of MWs in the Bay of Biscay, Mr George said. OPT is focusing its sales in North America, Europe, Australia and the east coast of Japan.

Australian founder
The US Navy accounted for the bulk of OPT's revenues, for a small wave farm it is building off-shore from a military base in Oahu, Hawaii. Income from Iberdola and Total makes up the rest. However, this month the company inked an agreement with three Japanese companies, Idemitsu Kosan, Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding, and Japan Wind Development, for another demonstration wave power station in Japan. The company also signed a deal with defence manufacturer Lockheed to develop utility-scale power systems in the US.

Hailing originally from Perth company co-founder and executive chairman George W. Taylor first made his name developing liquid crystal displays and digital watch technology in the US in the 1970s and 1980s. The idea of harnessing the natural energy of ocean waves came to Dr Taylor and his business partner, the late Dr. Joseph R. Burns in the aftermath of the OPEC crisis of the 1970s.

The company was founded in 1994 and began ocean trials off the coast of New Jersey in 1997. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange's AIM market and the Nasdaq in the US. After attracting companies such as Lockheed, Leighton and Mitsui Shipbuilding in Japan, Mr George said OPT is now "identifying ways in which we can put projects together that minimise the risks for the companies prepared to take the first big step".

Green energy handouts backfire

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Tuesday 27/10/2009 Page: 1

The Federal Government's $1600 solar hot water subsidy has reduced prices for renewable energy credits. Victoria-based Keppel Prince Engineering's head today will warn staff of a possible 150 job cuts. Pacific Hydro managing director Rob Grant said, 'Unless there's a short-term fix by government, there won't be any investment [in large-scale renewable energy] for the next two or three years'.

Energy retailers like Origin Energy and AGL will be required under a renewable energy federal scheme to buy sufficient renewable energy certificates. AGL chief economist Paul Simshauser said AGL believes the subsidy level for solar hot water could potentially result in a boom-to-bust situation. Miles George, the chief executive for wind energy investor Infigen Energy, said that AGL recently announced its Hallett Windfarm, north of Adelaide, which would deliver electricity at $111 per MWh and long term traded prices were more important than the short term spot market.

Clean Energy Council represents renewable energy companies as well as rooftop solar hot water and photovoltaic sectors. The Minerals Council of Australia said yesterday that Australia's ETS would be among the world's most stringent but a poll released yesterday by Essential Media revealed that 30% of respondents considered the government's scheme biased towards business.

Make hay while the sun shines

Courier Mail
Monday 26/10/2009 Page: 7

THE $8000 solar energy rebate may have gone but with solar panel prices nosediving, it is cheaper to buy a 1.5kW system under the new, less-generous solar credit scheme than it was with the rebate. And with such a system sitting on your roof depending on usage patterns and location - you could almost halve your energy bills. Under the Government's new solar credits scheme, people who purchase a solar energy system up to 1.5kW in size receive bonus tradeable renewable energy certificates (RECS) - currently worth between $35 and $40 each.

Solar Shop Australia managing director Adrian Ferraretto says consumers could pay from about $6000 to $8000 for a 1.5kW system, depending on their location and the value of the RECS on the day of purchase. For many Australians, such a system would pay for itself in about eight years and provide you with at least another 17 years of cut-price power. But Ferraretto says the price of solar energy systems probably has even further to fall - perhaps another 10% in the next six months. "By 2014 I could see them being half the price they are today," he says.

The savings that can be made with solar energy depend on a household's usage patterns - how much power they need to draw from the grid when the sun's not shining - and the credit they receive back for the power they generate but do not use themselves. The credit, or feed-in tariff, is calculated differently in each state. Energy Matters marketing manager Max Sylvester says they are pushing for a national feed-in tariff system, with almost 20,000 signatories so far supporting an online petition. "If people know how much they're going to get from it before they put it in, it becomes an economic as well as an environmental move," he says.

Currently, a system large enough to supply the average household's total power needs is so expensive that it provides little or no economic advantage and is only generally done for environmental reasons, he says. Sylvester's tips for avoiding traps and scams include: Beware of fast-talking sales people and video presentations that are 99% hype and 1% information. The offer of a free system should be treated with much suspicion - the catch usually is the supplier will only install the system - not connect it. When offered a package, consumers should ask for the brand name for each component and research the brand history on the internet.

Obama tells US to end its fossil fuel fix

Sunday Age
Sunday 25/10/2009 Page: 15

PRESIDENT Barack Obama says "a consensus is growing" in the US that the nation must make the transition away from fossil fuels as he urged Congress to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation. Speaking to students and faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he said keeping the US a leader in alternative energy innovation will bolster economic growth and national security while also confronting the peril of climate change. "It is a transformation that will be made as swiftly and as carefully as possible to ensure that we are doing what it takes to grow this economy," Mr Obama said.

The US is the second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China. The House of Representatives has passed legislation to reduce emissions that many scientists say are contributing to global warming. It would reduce emissions 17% from 2005 levels by 2020 by limiting carbon-dioxide pollution and establishing a market for trading pollution permits. A Senate panel will begin hearings this week on a companion bill. "This should not be a partisan issue," Mr Obama said. "Everybody in America should have a stake in legislation that can transform our energy system." Mr Obama cited statements from US military leaders that dependence on fossil fuels from overseas is a security threat and agreement from businesses as well as environmental groups that steps must be taken to protect the economy and the planet.

To counter arguments that climate legislation would cost US jobs, Mr Obama has made creating so-called "green jobs" a part of his agenda. A portion of the $US787 billion ($A847 billion) stimulus package passed earlier this year is targeted to boost funding for research and development of alternative energy The US Chamber of Commerce is among the business groups opposing the legislation passed by the House. Without naming anyone, Mr Obama took a shot at critics. "We are seeing a convergence," Obama said. "The naysayers, the folks who would pretend that this is not an issue, they are being marginalised."

$4m in research grants announced

Hobart Mercury
Tuesday 27/10/2009 Page: 10

A WAY to protect Tasmania's electricity supply from climate change is one of 16 projects to benefit from $4 million in Australian Research Council grants to the University of Tasmania. Chief investigator Jane Sargison, of the School of Engineering and Centre for Renewable Energy and Power Systems, is leading the research. It alms to improve canals and pipelines by studying the effect of algae and bacterial growth, tipped to rise with changing rainfall patterns.

Hydro Tasmania is providing $150,000 and the research council $160,000 over three years. Journalism lecturer Libby Lester was granted $182,000 for her work on online media and politics in an age of environmental conflict and plant scientist Gregory Jordan won $355,000 for forest harvesting for biodiversity. Others include Rob White's environmental law enforcement project on hazardous waste disposal, Jeff Summer's age related changes in brain activation and Dirk Tomsa's development of government recommendations for eastern Indonesian conflict.

New Wave ‘Kite’ Could Revolutionise Wave Energy
October 26th, 2009

Wave energy, although touted as the most likely alternative for putting an end to fossil fuel dependence, has also proven to be difficult to harness effectively and efficiently. Minesto, however, a spin-off venture from a joint effort by the Swedish military and Saab, an aircraft developer, has developed a new scenario for harnessing wave energy. The design, a seven tonne turbine kite design, works similar to a kite flown in the wind. The Deep Green below sea turbine harness the wave energy and effectively stores it all in one system.

At first, Minesto designed the new device to be used as a wind turbine, but quickly realised that it would quite effectively harness wave power. Now, should the product be implemented and developed properly, the Deep Green wave kite will be capable of providing power to 4 million British residences. The kite swings in a rotating pattern beneath the ocean surface gradually increasing the flow speed to the turbine. When the wing is hit by the tide the lift motion creates energy. The kite is fastened to the seabed with a tether and a rudder controls the swinging movements. Minesto says that for every MW the kite outputs, there has to be 14 tonnes of equipment. The product would be able to work effectively right off the coast of Britain, and then energy could be sold back to the national grid for a profit.

Best solution? Buy Hazelwood and mothball it

Saturday 24/10/2009 Page: 2

Actually, for $2 billion, it makes sense for the Government to step in.
HELP me out here. Analysis by think tank the Australia Institute shows paying up to $2 billion for the world's dirtiest coal-fired power station - Hazelwood, in Victoria's Latrobe Valley - to shut it down is actually a pretty cost-effective carbon abatement strategy.

It would work out at between $6.72 and $16.81 per tonne of CO2 avoided - depending on whether the decommissioned power station would have continued to burn coal and emit 18 million tonnes of CO2 annually for another 25 years (in which case, we're avoiding a huge amount of pollution with the purchase, at an effectively cheaper rate per tonne) or for just another decade (which would be more expensive abatement per tonne).

That's well below the projected carbon price of $20 to $25 per tonne under the proposed emissions trading scheme and in line with world markets. On this basis, according to the institute's senior research fellow David Richardson, "it's a good deal to buy back Hazelwood and mothball it". Similar analysis might show it is worthwhile buying back a string of coal-fired power stations.

Richardson describes the prospect as "tempting". His first proviso is that, for the purchase to be useful, the cap on carbon emissions set by the proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme would have to be reduced by the amount that would otherwise have been emitted. "Otherwise it's pointless," he says. Richardson's other proviso is common sense. It's about price.

Hazelwood's owner, International Power - a cashed-up British utility, one of the world's biggest and most profitable - is pleading the difficulty of refinancing about $440 million in loans secured against the power station by February. It is scaremongering bluffing - about the security of Victories energy supply. IP has about £2.4 billion ($A4.3 billion) of assets in Australia including Hazelwood, Loy Yang B, Kwinana and other projects. The company has said the pre-CPRS value of the first two assets alone is $4 billion, but that includes debt.

Richardson describes his $2 billion Hazelwood valuation as an "upper limit". IP also has enough cash (about £1 billion) on its balance sheet to refinance Hazelwood itself, lie says, if it comes to it. Yet IP is what you might call a motivated vendor. They are talking about "handing back the keys". So why on Earth would the public buy Hazelwood? It is a depreciating asset, not because of the proposed (, missions trading scheme but because climate change is now actually occurring, most people don't like it, coal-fired power stations are causing it and they will soon be a thing of the past.

"No one I know actually believes that these power plants will still be going in 2035, assuming the CPRS comes in," says UBS utilities analyst David Leitch. Leitch has some sympathy for the buyback idea. He says the brown coal-fired power generators are less competitive once the carbon price exceeds $20 a tonne, and cannot simply pass on the cost of the CPRS. "I think the Government could minimise the carbon cost by buying Hazelwood, Loy Yang and Yallourn and closing them down," he says.

But minimising the carbon cost isn't the only relevant issue, Leitch sees several major problems, mainly around replacing the brown coal in the short to medium tern and the difficulties with government operation of generation assets. "Just closing down the power stations really isn't an option," he says. "It's useful to look to, say, the clothing industry and how tariff protection was reduced to see an example of how reduced government support works in practice."

brown coal will probably be replaced by combined-cycle gas turbines. Energy Strategies managing director Hugh Saddler says electricity costs would be a bit higher, depending on the capital cost of the gas plant. "Even so, the costs of abatement will come out at less than $20 a tonne," he says. But I can't see why IP should get a single dollar. Were tobacco companies compensated for the introduction of taxes on cigarettes? No. Did we bail them out? Buy their factories? Not a bit of it.

So, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, do we ban coal-fired power? No. Bring in a carbon tax? No. Plan a switch to renewables? No. What we do is try to put a cap on carbon emissions by only issuing a certain number of tradeable pollution permits to major polluters, then compensate them by giving them buckets of free permits and/or buy back their polluting assets (which we sold off years ago), so we can shut their down and then invest in clean energy. Go figure.

IPA is already sharing in $3.5 billion in free permits to help the dirtiest coal-fired power stations adjust to the CPRS under the transitional arrangements for the first five years. With Opposition backing, the industry is arguing for more like $10 billion and want that extended out to 15 years. Professor Ross Garnaut, remember, originally opposed any compensation for coal-fired power generators and said a carbon tax would be better than a heavily compromised emissions trading scheme. When the Government softened the CPRS he said it was "line ball" whether it was worth implementing. He now describes the whole thing as the worst major policy-making process he's seen.

Waste Connections Expands Landfill Energy Project
Oct 26, 2009

Waste Connections, Inc of Folsom, Calif., has entered into a long-term agreement to expand its landfill-gas-to-energy operations at the Potrero Hills Landfill in Northern California. Under the 25-year agreement with DTE Biomass Energy, landfill gas will be recovered and converted into renewable electric power. The project is expected to produce enough electricity to power approximately 7,000 homes per year.

"We currently have 17 renewable energy projects either operating or in development that are expected to produce almost 40 MWs of power and 10,000 cubic feet per minute of pipeline quality gas. We also have more than 15 additional landfills that either qualify or could qualify for carbon emission credits and potentially be developed into future renewable energy projects," said Jim Little, Waste Connections' senior vice president – Engineering and Disposal.

"We are proud to be partnering with Waste Connections at the Potrero Hills Landfill to produce a long-term supply of sustainable renewable energy from an otherwise unused resource," said Mark Cousino, DTE Biomass Energy president.

COWS have been getting a bad rap in the debate over climate change.
October 26, 2009

Cows burp and emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and quite a lot of it. But it turns out that a well-managed cow could an important friend and ally in the fight to reduce greenhouse emissions. A new theory has the potential to turn the current debate about whether to include or exclude agriculture from emissions trading schemes on its head.

A study by Mark Adams, the dean of agriculture at the Sydney University, looked into greenhouse emissions from bushfires and grazing in the high country. It found that while cows might emit 54kg of methane per head per year, oxidising bacteria in high country soils can oxidise methane at the rate of 8760kg for every hectare each year. In other words, high country grazing is easily methane-neutral and may even offset cow-methane from other parts of the landscape.

Tony Lovell is a co-founder and director of Soil Carbon, an advocate of improved grazing practices - and a reappraisal of the way carbon balance sheets are formulated, particularly regarding terrestrial carbon. He says the new research fits in with other research that found that methane emissions from landfills were significantly less when they were covered by less compacted and moister soils, because they could house more oxidising bacteria.

The significance is that carbon needs to be seen as part of a cycle, rather than a series of sources and sinks. Algae, which can absorb carbon dioxide from power stations and create a new fuel source, operates on a similar cycle, speeding up what happens naturally over several millennia to just a few days.

Lovell says cows are considered a farm liability because they emit methane. But research indicates the possibility of a different view of well-managed ruminants. This demands improved land management practices, which improves soil structure, decreases compaction and boosts moisture-holding capacity

From fast track to slow lane
IT is now almost a year since Kevin Rudd announced he would fast-track the Renewable Energy Demonstration Program so he could turbocharge the investment in the key emerging energy technologies. Last December, he promised $100 million would be spent in 2008-09 and a further $400m within the next 12 months. Apart from a handful of allocations to biofuel projects and $14m in geothermal drilling grants, not a cent has been allocated for the REDP, which is designed to support commercial demonstration facilities in geothermal, wave, biomass and energy storage.

So where is it? It's the burning question for the developers of emerging energy sources. Some have seen their programs - with a combined worth of more than $10 billion - come to a virtual standstill as they and their financiers await this and other funding initiatives. An accumulation of anecdotal evidence suggests the recipients have been decided and an announcement is ready, but now awaits a moment of political convenience.

Start-ups starved of funding
THE impact of confused and delayed government policy on the nascent carbon and renewable energy markets, not to mention mainstream energy contracts, has been quite visible. But in some parts of the unlisted emerging energy and emissions abatement technology sector, no one can hear you scream.

The Eco Investor conference in Sydney last week provided a fascinating snapshot into some of the funding needs of companies seeking to bring new technologies to market. Biodegradable pallet maker Biofiba is seeking $2m for product development and a further $5m for commercialisation, the Bob Hawke - chaired Solarsailor is seeking $5m, liquid solar developer Sunengy is looking for $600,000 for a Hunter Valley pilot plant and a further $5.4m for commercialisation, and fly ash recycler Vecor wants to raise $US5.5m.

But the lingering effects of the GFC have made fundraising a tough assignment. The talk on the sidelines of the conference was of the numerous groups finding their development stalled, and even looking for trade sales, because funding was so hard to obtain. Many had placed their faith in government programs such as the REDP. But because of the delays in this and other programs, potential investors are losing patience and walking away.

Rethink on geothermal risk
Geothermal energy is often characterised as unproven and therefore an over-the-horizon base-load technology - better, in that case, to consider available technologies such as coal, gas and nuclear, it is said. GeoDynamics last week presented a different take on the major economic risks affecting the long-run marginal cost of feeding energy into the national grid, breaking down the risk profiles of various technologies into high, medium and low uncertainty.

The key take-out was that the highest level of uncertainty over resource economics would be removed for geothermal, and possibly carbon prices, within the next two or three years. However, the high level of uncertainty would linger two or three times longer for carbon capture, another decade for public acceptance of nuclear, and ad infinitum for oil and gas prices.

The shorthand summary: by 2020, geothermal energy might not just be cheaper than oil and gas and other competing base-loads such as carbon capture and nuclear, it will also carry significantly less investment risk. And if that's not obvious now, taking into account the 10,000MW of geothermal energy currently produced across the globe, it will be crystal clear within the next two years.

Daring feat for heat exchange
ON the subject of geothermal, the soon-to-be-listed Granite Power is about to unveil the second pilot plant of its new heat exchange technology at the University of Newcastle, its development partner. CEO Stephen de Belle says testing at the first plant suggested a 40-50 per cent improvement in the power output from conventional systems used in the conversion of waste and geothermal heat into energy, for little additional cost. This could have profound implications for the geothermal industry, De Belle says. It could reduce geothermal costs from an average $87 per MW hour to around $60/mwh, and some lower cost geothermal producers would make a significant leap towards grid parity.

This has big implications for low-temperature power generation, de Belle says, and also for solar thermal plants, biogas and some waste heat recovery. The new 100kw plant to be unveiled next month will be succeeded in the next year by several plants testing its performance in the 500kW to 2MW range.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Largest solar plant in the US may go online in Florida on Tuesday
25 October 2009.

The largest solar plant in the United States may soon go live in Florida, being able to generate 25-MWs. Workers and engineers have worked for almost a year to build the biggest solar plant in the United States, where a bit earlier we could only see open land. The solar plant is already built and now they are testing it, but soon the tests will be complete and the entire facility will start producing energy.

The Desoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center will be able to convert sunlight into 25-MWs of power, being able to generate two times more the power of the second-largest solar plant in the US. It is scheduled to go live on Tuesday and President Barack Obama will visit the facility on the launch day. Fortunately, this facility won't be the largest for too long, because another projects in Nevada and California will be able to eclipse it.

"We took a chance at it and it worked out. There's a lot of backyard projects, there's a lot of rooftop projects, post offices and stores. Really this is one of the first times where we've taken a technology and upsized it," said Greg Bove, the DesotoNext Generation Solar Energy Center's construction manager. The plant is located 80 miles southeast from Tampa and it covers 180 acres of land. It cost $150 million to build and it can supply power to over 3,000 houses. It required over 400 employees to build it, though there will only be a few employees to run it.

Sparking up our electricity

Independent Weekly
Friday 23/10/2009 Page: 17

One way or another it appears Australia will have an emissions trading scheme (ETS) soon. The aim of such a scheme is to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions entering the atmosphere by charging organisations that are emitting CO2 for the right to do so. In turn that cost will be passed to consumers resulting in lower electricity usage. But this won't happen evenly for electricity, which is generated by a range of methods that emit different amounts of CO2, which means electricity charges vary under an ETS scheme.

SA remains heavily dependent on brown coal, which emits the most CO2. This is either from Leigh Creek coal burnt in the Northern and Playford power stations near Port Augusta or imported from Victorian generators by the interconnector power links. For this reason we need to re-engineer our electrical power generating system under an ETS.

Electricity companies, urged by the State and Federal governments, have started moving in this direction. The likeliest replacement option is wind energy. To bring our wind facilities up to the standard and size where they could cover the 780mW of power generated by coal would cost about $4 billion. So what else can be done? Being more efficient consumers is good but won't save 780mW. Leaving aside the politically controversial option of nuclear energy we have one major technology available. And we already have a working example right here in Adelaide at Pelican Point.

Combined cycle gas turbines offer a way to cut the cost of CO2 replacement. CCGT are really two power stations in one. The first half is just like one of the engines on the wing of a 747. It burns gas and the output turns a generator - this is the gas turbine part and it extracts about 40% of the available energy. The combined part comes from using the extremely hot exhaust gases from the gas turbine to heat water, create steam and use it to turn a second turbine where about 15% more energy is extracted.

Using this technology to replace coal electricity from the Leigh Creek stations would cost a bit less than $1 billion. Because the infrastructure is small when compared to wind farms they can be developed faster and located more conveniently to the main users. This would mean that instead of producing a kilogram of CO2 per kW/h we only produce 400g. But we still need to use a carbon-emitting fossil fuel, so we still need to buy a supply of gas and permits for the CCGT. The decision between wind turbines and CCGT will come down to the interest payments on the difference in the capital costs versus the running costs.

In householder terms, it's the interest payments on the extra $3 billion on the wind energy company mortgages versus the CCGT gas bill. We still don't really know the cost of the CO2 permits or the structure of the ETS so as a community we are working in the dark. Which way will we end up re-engineering our electricity system? It's still hard to predict. However the lower capital cost and concentrated simplicity of CCGT power plants when compared with the diffuse nature of wind turbines probably means most of the electricity supplied under the ETS will be from natural gas-fuelled CCGT for the next three decades.

Doug Gillott is President of the SA Division of Engineers Australia.

Clean energy test

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Saturday 24/10/2009 Page: 14

Industry Funds Management has utilised the government's renewable energy targets to introduce its Clean Energy Fund (CEF) and through this fund it will extend the sale of a stake in Pacific Hydro, IFM's renewable energy group. A majority stake in Pacific Hydro will be retained by IFM through its Australian Infrastructure Fund.

ENN, Duke Energy sign pact on solar energy
25 Oct 2009

Private solar cell producer, ENN Solar Energy Group, teamed up with American utility company Duke Energy Friday to build large-scale solar farms and distribute photovoltaic (PV) electricity throughout the US. The companies signed a partnership agreement in ENN Solar Energy's headquarters in Langfang, Hebei Province to build solar utility projects, which will start construction in 2010 in the US. Ownership will be split 50-50 by the two firms. "The volume of the projects will depend upon how many customers we are able to sign up," Keith Trent, president and group executive of Duke's Commercial Business, said at a media conference, without giving specific figures.

ENN Solar Energy is controlled by Wang Yusuo, chairman of Hong Kong-listed Xinao Gas Holdings. Financial details of the agreement have not been made available. Duke will not be investing money in developing the technology with ENN Solar Energy, but it will help identify clients, find projects and deploy the technology in the US, drawing on local experience in the wind energy sector. "The more you deploy, the more opportunities you have to improve the efficiency," Trent said. Duke will focus on the states which have renewable energy standards and specified solar amount requirements, such as Ohio and North Carolina, Trent said.

The size of the projects will be in the range of 5 to 50 MWs, and they expect to develop at least 25 MWs a year to start off, he added. "As the US economy recovers, I expect the scale of the solar energy market to be above 400 MWs in 2010," said Liu Wenping, solar energy analyst at JLM Pacific Epoch, an independent consultancy in Shanghai. Duke Energy Generation Services owns and operates more than 630 MWs of wind energy projects in the US, according to a company statement.

ENN Solar Energy, a subsidiary of ENN Solar Energy Group, aims to increase the conversion efficiency of its thin-film PV modules to 12% over the next two years from a rate of eight% realised on its Applied Materials (AM) production line, which produces 5.7 square meters modules, said to be the largest in the world. "It would be extremely difficult for ENN Solar Energy to achieve the 12% rate on such a large area, even with the support from AM," Liu of JLM said.

Since no company has achieved that high of a conversion rate at the moment, it is impossible to estimate how much it would cost for such enhancements, Liu added. Cai Hongqiu, chief executive of ENN Solar Energy, refused to reveal the amount they expect to invest in research and development, or comment on a South China Morning Post report of the company's potential listing in Hong Kong next year. The companies have no immediate plan to build commercial PV projects in China, according to the executives.

UK launches fund to explore deep geothermal energy
23 October 2009

The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has made available a GBP6 ($10m) fund for deep geothermal exploration. The fund, part of the DECC low carbon investment fund will help companies carry out exploratory work needed to find viable sites for this technology. Energy and Climate Change Minister, Lord Hunt said: "Deep geothermal energy is an exciting and innovative technology that could provide clean, low carbon and renewable power and heat for the UK.

"We want to make sure that this energy resource can play a part in the future low carbon energy mix. Deep geothermal power from the South West of England alone could meet two per cent of the UK's annual electricity demand, potentially creating thousands of jobs in the building and running of new power plants." There is currently one geothermal energy station in the UK - the Southampton District Energy Scheme. The station uses hot water pumped from 1800m below ground as part of the city's district heating network and has operated successfully for over 20 years, saving an estimated 11 000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Projects in England, Scotland and Wales are eligible to bid to the fund. There will be GBP4m available this year and GBP2m next financial year. Project bids will be assessed and managed by panel established by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The closing date for bids for the first round of the fund will be 20 November 2009 with the successful projects to be announced shortly after that.

Monday 26 October 2009

Palmdale parking lots to double as power plants
October 20, 2009

The city is allowing shopping centers and business parks to install small wind turbines atop light towers in parking lots. A 17-turbine plot is already in the works at Sam's Club. In an effort to tap one of the high desert's most abundant resources, Palmdale is allowing large shopping centers and business parks to install small wind turbines in their parking lots to save on electricity costs. Civic leaders in the Antelope Valley have taken a variety of steps in recent years to harness and adapt to the region's vast supplies of sun and wind. In Lancaster, hundreds of acres of desert landscape will be used for a huge bed of solar thermal panels. Both Palmdale and Lancaster have taken steps to ban new lawns to help conserve water.

The plan for urban wind turbines puts Palmdale in company with blustery cities such as Buffalo, N.Y., and Cleveland that have allowed small wind farms in commercial and business districts. Palmdale's plan clears the way for turbines no more than 60 feet high to be erected atop light standards in some parking lots. City officials are also studying turbines that could be compatible in neighborhoods. A Massachusetts-based firm is preparing to install what will probably be Palmdale's first windfarm - - a 17-turbine plot being developed in conjunction with Sam's Club, a members-only retail warehouse owned by Wal-Mart. "It's nice to have the advantage that we have, a supply of renewable energy," said Benjamin Lucha, a city administrative analyst. "We have an abundance of sunlight. We have a potential for wind energy.., and it's consistent."

Palmdale's interest in wind as a power source is part of an emerging trend in the American landscape. Last year, 10,000 small turbines were sold to homes, farms and businesses nationwide, said Ron Stimmel, who specialises in small wind systems at the American Wind Energy Assn, in Washington, D.C. The figure represents a 78% increase over the previous year, attributed in part to cheaper prices and federal tax credits. The systems are concentrated in states with the best rebate policies - - and a good supply of wind - - including California, Wisconsin, New York, Ohio and Vermont. "Small wind systems have a similar potential for growth as the solar industry," Stimmel said. "This is very well on its way to becoming mainstream."

Yet Palmdale officials are mindful of aesthetic concerns about wind turbines sprouting up in the city. That's why they would have to be mounted on existing light poles and be compatible in design and colour with the existing light fixtures at a given site, said Assistant City Manager Laurie Lile. For the time being, turbines are not permitted near residential properties, to avoid any disturbance from noise or vibration. The commercial turbines "are intended not to be stand-alone like a turbine farm," Lile recently told the City Council. "They would be an accessory."

In the past, the community has been apprehensive about large wind turbines. Several years ago, the city fought plans by the Palmdale Water District to build a turbine rising 315 feet above Lake Palmdale to power its treatment plant and booster-pump facility. Residents complained that the turbine would be a monstrous eyesore and the city filed a lawsuit citing environmental concerns. But the project ultimately moved forward, and today the water district operates the only commercial-scale turbine in the southern Antelope Valley.

The smaller turbines are getting a much warmer reception.
"I think it's an excellent idea," said Marsha Furman, 61, a Palmdale resident of 25 years and member of the Sam's Club where turbines are planned. "The wind is something we live without here. To have the opportunity to use this technology, oh my gosh.... It's outstanding. I'm thrilled." Furman said she wasn't worried about the aesthetics of the turbines because they were not expected to be "imposing, big and bulky." Patricia Shaw, 50, the retired owner of a real estate management company, said permitting small wind turbines would help attract new companies to Palmdale. "Any time you can reduce the cost of small businesses to operate, that just encourages more businesses to come," she said. "The cheaper you make it for a business to operate, the more people they can hire, and the better they can do."

Kory Lundberg, media manager for Wal-Mart, said the Sam's Club turbine project was embraced as part of the company's sustainability initiatives, which include zero waste and the goal to ultimately be supplied entirely by renewable energy. Wal-mart already has one wind turbine at a store in Arkansas, Lundberg said. The Sam's Club turbines are expected to generate 76,000 kWs of energy, enough "to power six single-family homes for a year," according to Lundberg. Under a power purchase agreement, the wind development firm Deerpath Energy would own the turbines and Wal-Mart would buy the power they produce, Lundberg said. Kellogg Warner, founder and chief executive of Deerpath Energy, said Sam's Club can expect to save 5% on energy bills, "depending on how the wind is blowing."

The Sam's Club project would be the Marblehead, Mass.-based firm's first full-scale deployment of wind turbines, according to Warner. The company has other projects in the works in Massachusetts and Texas, but considered Palmdale an ideal location to launch the venture. "We're providing them with the ability to generate renewable power directly on site, at a cost that is competitive with the local utility cost," Warner said. According to information published by the California Energy Commission, "wind energy is currently more expensive than that produced by natural gas-fired plants," but it is reliable because "the price of wind energy is not affected by fuel price increases or supply disruptions." Additionally, wind energy emits no pollution and turbines can be quickly installed. "We have to all embrace new ideas," said Lile. "The downside to turbines is basically aesthetic, but we can no longer choose to be so picky aesthetically at the expense of sustainable energy."

Ireland exiting peat power, faces hurdles
Oct 23, 2009

Ireland will stop using peat to produce electricity by about 2025 to 2030 as it moves toward renewable sources, although it faces infrastructure and financing hurdles, the state-owned peat energy company said. Production of peat, partially decayed plant matter which is also used in gardening and often called turf, has long been a traditional feature of the boggy Irish countryside, making the country one of the top industrial producers along with Finland. State-owned company Bord Na Mona, the only industrial-scale producer in Ireland, is not planning to open any new bogs however as it shifts its profile to renewable energy sources, and existing bogs will run out in about two decades.

"It's an important part of our history," Bord Na Mona Finance Director Michael Barry said in an interview. "It's not the cleanest fuel." Bord Na Mona, which operates a 128 MW peat-fired power plant in Edenderry, west of Dublin, is increasingly focusing on renewable sources of energy such as wind and biomass as it phases out peat. "We have one of the best wind regimes in Europe, the wind blows a lot here," Barry said. "One of the key obstacles is to do with the electricity grid and the resilience and ability of the grid to absorb new wind energy."

The best windfarm locations are often in remote areas where the grid is especially underdeveloped, he added. Getting financing is also a limiting factor for many would-be windfarm owners, especially smaller players, Barry said. "The credit conditions are difficult," he said. "The focus on banking is on shorter-term financing, they are maxing out at three years typically." Bord Na Mona, which is 95% owned by the state and 5% by employees, but whose debt is not guaranteed by the state, has recently raised $205 million through a private placement, with average maturities of eight years, to help fund its move into renewables.

Wave energy in Ireland has also got a boost from several deals in recent weeks but Barry said wave and tidal power would not be in focus for Bord Na Mona. "Within the timeframe of 2009-2020 wave and tidal power are not going to really deal with this issue, wind is hugely important," he said. Ireland, which has few domestic fossil fuel sources, has a target to source 40% of the country's electricity from renewable sources by 2020, which Barry said would be challenging." "The electricity grid is the key limiting factor," he said.

Dust a factor in best solar power option for emirate
October 22. 2009

Dust and haze in the coastal regions of Abu Dhabi emirate significantly reduce the efficiency of the world's cheapest solar energy technology, research from the Masdar Institute shows. That may give the more costly photovoltaic (PV) panels an edge in the race to find the country's renewable energy source to help generate the Government's target of 7 per cent of the emirate's electricity by 2012. Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Government's clean energy fund and the institute's parent company, is testing a number of options including solar and geothermal energy to decide which will take the lead role in powering Masdar City, the zero-emissions development at the edge of the capital.

Concentrated solar thermal power, in which mirrors focus the heat of the sun to boil water and turn a standard generator, should be the cheapest solar option. But computer modelling at the Masdar Institute shows that in Abu Dhabi, where dust and haze diffuse sunlight for many months, solar thermal is significantly less efficient, said Sgouris Sgouridis, an assistant professor at the Institute. "You don't get the efficiencies you expect out of the concentrated solar thermal," he told a gathering of green-energy experts, hosted by the Dubai-based Gulf Research Centre.

"They are around 15 to 20 per cent off [the ideal efficiency level] and that makes the consideration of photovoltaics much stronger in this region." The calculations were for areas around Masdar City, Dr Sgouridis said, and did not apply to inland regions with reduced humidity. solar thermal, he said, "is certainly cheaper but in some cases you might want to go with the PV. A dirty PV panel works; a dirty [concentrated solar energy] system doesn't work at all."

Solar thermal is vulnerable to haze because it relies on concentrating the direct radiation of the sun, while for PV, it matters far less how sunlight strikes the panel, said Francesco D'Avack, a solar analyst at New Energy Finance, which serves as a clearing house for data on renewables. "For solar thermal you need direct radiation, and if you have haze you don't have direct radiation," Mr D'Avack said. But in the right environment, solar thermal plants have a significant advantage over PV for utilities and other large power producers, because once the plant is heated and starts producing power, it is less susceptible to brief cloud cover or other slight disruptions to direct sunlight.

"For solar thermal the quality of the power is much higher and you have dispatchability," Mr D'Avack said. "They have much smoother power output." Dr Sgouridis stressed that the Masdar Institute's findings on conditions in Abu Dhabi were still under peer review and had no direct link with the parent company's investments in either type of technology. The firm is tendering a project to build a 100-MW solar thermal plant at Madinat Zayed in Al Gharbia, with a construction contract originally due to be awarded in the third quarter. It has recently been reported that the project site had been moved, delaying the tendering process. Masdar declined to comment on the project yesterday.

The firm is also investing significantly in PV solar panels, in which sunlight is directly transformed into a current of electricity. Masdar operates a 10mw solar array on the city site, and has opened a plant in Germany to begin producing its own panels. Construction on a second plant in Abu Dhabi will start next year. Dr Sgouridis said the latest model for Masdar City showed PV would supply between 50 and 60 per cent of the development's energy needs. About 26 per cent would come from solar thermal, he said, with the balance coming from a range of sources including geothermal, waste-to-energy, and thermal tube collectors, which use the sun to heat water and directly power cooling systems.

Hyundai and GE win Gorgon deals

Friday 23/10/2009 Page: 3

THE Gorgon juggernaut has awarded a collective $US2.46 billion ($A2.66 billion) worth of work for its liquefied natural gas project in Western Australia to Hyundai Heavy Industries and GE. GE (Al and Gas has been selected to provide technology to liquefy the gas and sequester the carbon emissions under the Barrow Island site. The $US400 million deal includes three refrigerant compression trains plus advanced liquefaction compressors that will help chill the gas to minus 160 degrees ready for shipping. Six additional compression trains will be supplied to inject the greenhouse gas emissions 1.3 kilometres underground.

Gorgon is the world's largest demonstration project for carbon capture and storage technology, which is unproven at a commercial scale. The GE contract will contain very little Australian content though, with the technology manufactured and tested in Italy before being shipped to Australia by 2012. Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world's largest shipbuilder, will construct 48 modules as part of the processing facility worth $US2.06 billion. The company outbid others including Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in snaring the contract. The two deals take the total value of contracts awarded so far to about $9.5 billion.

Argus targets foreign interests - BHP boss points the way to $18 billion boost in exports

Friday 23/10/2009 Page: 1

BHP Billiton chairman Don Argus has warned that changes need to be made in four key areas if Australia is to capitalise on its unique position to benefit from the "unprecedented" growth fuelled by demand by China and India.

His f plan - covering greater funding options for the $80 billion in minerals and energy projects, supportive policy setting, and improved labour market flexibility and regulatory reforms - is aimed at ensuring Australia captures an additional $18 billion in annual export revenue by 2015. In one of his last major speeches ahead of his retirement early next year, Mr Argus also suggested a radical "Australianisation" edict to deal with the encroachment of state owned Chinese enterprises in the local mining sector.

Mr Argus suggested at the Melbourne Mining Club luncheon that one response from the Federal Government could be to allow foreigners to acquire "green fields" or early stage resource projects, but only on the basis that half of the project is floated off to Australian investors, say, 15 years later. Mr Argus has long raised concerns about the lack of policy on the ability of state owned enterprises and sovereign wealth funds to buy up the resource endowment of a host nation without there being reciprocal investment rights.

His 50%, 15-year suggestion is his "lateral" response. "We can't get complacent from a competitive point of view because we have had a good run with China," Mr Argus said. "China is now going out and branching out to try and lock in resources themselves." He emphasised that he was not anti-Chinese investment or anti-foreign investment "because Australia does need foreign investment". But lie does not want Australia to end up like Canada, where foreigners have replaced local owners of the resources industry. "Canadian investors certainly don't have the same holdings in their endowment assets that they might have had 10 years ago," he said.

Mr Argus is also worried that volatility in the carbon pricing caused by opportunistic traders in the proposed emissions trading scheme could threaten investment in Australia and reduce international competitiveness. Mr Argus questioned the Federal Government's cap-and-trade policy, saying it might not take any carbon out of the atmosphere and had the potential to distort the market. "The price of carbon will depend on the relationship between the supply and demand of permits," he said.

"This may be good for market traders but it adds to the complexity of investment decisions for businesses generally. We should not discount that enterprising traders will be seduced to buy permits from nations where the pricing mechanism may vary." Mr Argus stopped short of endorsing a carbon tax over a cap-and-trade scheme, saying he was "still half and half"' on which provided the best emissions abatement strategy.

"We do not want to make carbon and energy prices increasingly volatile in a way that could negatively impact investment decisions," he said. "The degree of volatility and the extent to which it may compromise a cap-and-trade system will depend on whether there is a global commitment to this system and whether the operating regulations are consistent," he said.

‘Bipartisan support’ likely to underpin US Green Bank proposal
22 October

The prospects for a US federal bank to help finance renewable energy – as proposed in Congressional climate legislation – look rosy given bipartisan support and the ongoing difficulty of securing financing in the private markets, supporters have said. A bill passed by the US House of Representatives in June would establish the Clean Energy Deployment Administration, a government-owned, non-profit bank that would fill a market void by helping to finance clean energy projects. A Senate energy and natural resources committee bill adopted that month featured a similar proposal and is expected to be integrated into climate legislation emerging in the Senate environment and public works committee.

Legislators on both sides of Capitol Hill recognise the ongoing difficulties in securing financing for renewable energy, said Todd Filsinger, the Denver-based head of PA Consulting Group's energy capital markets division and co-chair of the Coalition for the Green Bank. "The green bank is probably the most bipartisan part of the bill," he told Environmental Finance on the sidelines of the coalition's "Financing our Renewable Energy Future" event on Tuesday, in New York. The exact nature of the bank – including its structure and funding, among other things – are still be worked out in Congressional negotiations.

The House bill envisions an agency separate from the Department of Energy (DOE) with a governance structure that includes the participation of members of the finance sector, said Reed Hundt, a principal at business consulting firm REH Advisors and co-chair of the coalition. But the Senate proposal would require the agency's head to report to the energy secretary, similar to how other DOE-affiliated entities currently function, he told Environmental Finance.

The aim of the green bank would be to lower the financing costs of promising renewable technologies to achieve grid parity more quickly, fund projects that cannot secure financing in the private markets and roll out and expedite clean energy projects on a broader scale. In the most simplistic model, the green bank would provide loan guarantees for projects that have debt and equity financing, Hundt said. "If the bank were to crowd out private debt, that would be a mistake," he said. "If it were to seek to make profits where they could be made by someone else, that would be a mistake."

US stimulus money boosts wind power
22 October

The US renewable energy grant programme has led to a surge in wind project development in recent months, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). But it warned that development in the fourth quarter of 2009 is unlikely to be as strong, because wind turbine manufacturing still lags below 2008 levels. The US wind energy industry installed 1,649MW of new generating capacity in the third quarter, up from 1,210MW in the second quarter and 1,389MW in third quarter 2008. More than 5,800MW of wind capacity has been added so far in 2009, bringing total US capacity to more than 31,100MW, according to the Washington, DC-based AWEA.

A change in the tax code by Congress allows wind, biomass and other renewable energy projects to temporarily elect to receive an investment tax credit (ITC) normally reserved for solar projects, instead of receiving tax credits against power production. In the economic stimulus package in February, the US also allowed project developers to receive cash payments in lieu of the tax credits. Since the early July announcement of the grant programme rules, the wind sector has seen more than 1,600MW of completed projects and more than 1,700MW of construction started.

These projects equate to about $6.5 billion in new investment, according to AWEA. "We have seen an almost instantaneous response from the project development side in wind in terms of new activity," said Elizabeth Salerno, director of industry data and analysis for AWEA. However, she added that: "We can't ignore the fact that we aren't out of the trenches yet. The grant programme is working, but we still don't have a long-term, stable policy in place." More than 5,000MW of wind capacity is now under construction for completion this year or next, but that is nearly 38% lower than the 8,000MW-plus under construction at this time in 2008.

The wind industry installed a record 8,358MW of new capacity in 2008, a number AWEA does not expect to exceed this year, Salerno said. "I don't think that should be a surprise to anyone given the hit of the financial crisis but, nevertheless, [this is] still a very strong year," she said. Texas added the most new wind capacity in the third quarter at 436MW, followed by Oregon at 251MW and Illinois at 201MW. Texas also has the highest total wind capacity at 8,797MW, with Iowa second at 3,053MW and California at 2,787MW.

BioPower Systems Collaborates With City of San Francisco on Wave Energy Project
Oct 22, 2009

SYDNEY, Oct. 22 /PRNewswire/ - - Australia's ocean energy company, BioPower Systems, today announced that it had entered into a collaborative agreement with the City of San Francisco to investigate the generation of wave energy from the Pacific Ocean. Under the agreement, BioPower will work with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to assess the feasibility of a project located eight kilometres (five miles) off San Francisco's western beaches with a generating capacity of between 10MW and 100MW. The proposed Oceanside Wave Energy Project would consider installation of a wave farm using BioPower's modular wave energy system, BioWAVET.

John Doyle, Acting Manager of Infrastructure at the SFPUC, said that the project has the potential to add yet another source of renewable energy to the City's power network. "The feasibility of ocean waves as an energy source is being considered and this could lead to further project development." Pending the results of a feasibility study, BioPower and the City of San Francisco will work together to develop the project aimed at supplying clean renewable electricity into the City's power grid by 2012. The BioWAVETM system is designed to supply utility-scale grid-connected renewable energy while being out of view, and without affecting marine life.

The unique system sways in tune with the forces of the ocean, and naturally streamlines when extreme conditions prevail, leading to cost-competitive lightweight designs. Multiple BioWAVETM devices, each with a capacity of 1MW, would be installed as an undersea wave energy farm, with the combined power output supplied to the on-land grid via subsea cable. BioPower's CEO, Dr Tim Finnigan, said the collaboration was further endorsement of the clear potential of the company's proprietary technology.

"Due in large part to Mayor Gavin Newsom's leadership, San Francisco is set to become the model for renewable-powered cities of the future. It comprises an environmentally aware populace that is supportive of renewable energy alternatives as long as they prove to be cost effective, reliable, and non-intrusive. "We have already assessed the potential for economic energy production using BioWAVETM at the proposed project site, and the results are very promising. We are confident that our collaboration with the City of San Francisco will translate into substantial economic and environmental benefits," Dr Finnigan added.

About The City and County of San Francisco
San Francisco was incorporated as a City on April 15th, 1850 by act of the Legislature. Although City Government has played a key role in San Francisco's development, the true wealth of this City resides with the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of its pioneering Citizens. The City today is governed by the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is a public agency of the City and County of San Francisco that provides water, sewage, and power services to 1.6 million customers within three San Francisco Bay Area counties.

About BioPower Systems
Australia's ocean energy company, BioPower Systems, is commercialising wave and tidal power energy systems that incorporate revolutionary designs based on the concept of biomimicry. BioPower is designing its systems to naturally avoid extreme ocean forces, using light-weight construction, resulting in anticipated cost savings. The proprietary BioWAVETM and BioSTREAMTM technologies are designed to have a combination of lighter, more resilient structures to deliver both lower capital costs and lower energy generation costs.