Friday 11 December 2009

Nitrous oxide cloud over production of biofuels

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Thursday 10/12/2009 Page: 12

European Commission scientists doubt whether biofuels could ever be produced in large quantities, arguing that greenhouse gases emitted from producing biofuels might remove most of the carbon dioxide savings made from replacing fossil fuels. There are major concerns over emissions from a potent greenhouse gas called nitrous oxide. EC Institute of Energy's Heinz Ossenbrink says that research undertaken by European Union-funded scientists shows that nitrous oxide emissions are 270 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Robert Edwards of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change renewable energies unit says that emissions could double from one end of the field to the other.

New drive to harness wave power
9 December 2009

In a bleakly beautiful island landscape, some strange new sights are emerging.

In the turbulent waters off the shores of Orkney, in the far north of Scotland, an array of bizarre machines is being deployed in a drive to harness the power of the sea. The European Marine Energy Centre at Stromness is playing host to nearly a dozen experimental devices designed to capture the energy of the tides and the waves. It is too early to tell if any of them will work on a large scale or ever succeed commercially. But during lucky breaks in Orkney's fearsome winter weather, I got the chance to see two of the devices in action. There is the "Oyster", a giant flap twice the height of a double-decker bus which swings back and forth with the waves. Every time the flap moves, the action compresses hydraulic pumps which force water through a pipe to the shore where it drives a generator.

As we approach through a heavy swell, the bright yellow top of the flap rears up above the surface of the sea before being plunged back down by the next wave. The machine is the work of the Scottish firm Aquamarine Power. Operations manager Frances Tierney, on board with us, says that its first few weeks have proved it can work. "It was quite nerve-wracking installing it but we're really pleased with how the Oyster has performed so far." The company's hope is to set up "farms" of Oysters, with 2MW of electricity being generated for every three machines, according to company officials.

'Huge potential'
Matthias Haag, Aquamarine's chief operating officer, told me that, in theory, 1,500 Oysters could yield one GW (1GW) of electricity - about the output of a typical fossil fuel power station. "Our studies have identified sites where the waves mean we could generate 5GW of electricity - it's got huge potential." Another approach is to harness the power of the tides. Between Orkney and the Scottish mainland, the Pentland Firth sees high-speed currents surging from the Atlantic to the North Sea and back again.

These can reach more than eight knots - nearly 10 miles per hour - and the flows last six hours in each direction. In a notoriously fast-flowing channel known as the Fall of Warness, the Irish firm OpenHydro has deployed an enormous undersea turbine - a fan with a diameter of 6m. Fitted between black stilts, this huge device sits near the sea-bed right in the path of the currents. As the waters surge, the massive blades start spinning and drive a generating system fitted within the machine's frame. The electricity is then piped ashore.

During our visit, the turbine is lifted out of the sea so we can film it. Rising slowly from the choppy grey waters, it looks like something from a Bond film. Operations manager Sue Barr tells me that this is the company's fourth version of the turbine. The plan is for a 10m-diameter device which could generate 1MW of power. "We're great fans of all forms of renewable energy but tidal power is the only one that's predictable. We predict it with the sun and the moon - that's a very persuasive argument for investment."

Winners and losers
Other marine schemes involve systems of underwater propellers to spin in the tides or giant "snakes" whose joints move with the waves and generate power. There is no doubting the ambition. But this is a watery, green equivalent to the start of the steam age: lots of clever ideas but the inevitability that there will be winners and losers. The technologies are in their infancy, the costs at this stage are very high and still unknown are the practical implications of deploying hundreds or thousands of machines at sea.

And unresolved are the costly and controversial challenges of having to run new cables into the National Grid and then onto major population centres. Neil Kermode of the European Marine Energy Centre is keen to be realistic about the prospects and not to hype expectations. State funding, relatively meagre until now, is being increased and private funds are being raised too. "We're at the stage of needing to see which of these technologies works and whether they can be scaled up. That requires steady investment. "Look what the Danes did with wind: investments year after year paid off and now they earn billions in exports. "There is huge potential - absolutely huge amounts of energy out there - in fact we don't know how much but it is epic."

Mr Kermode's concern is that funding remains consistent so that the different systems can be developed - and given a chance to prove themselves - in the UK. "There is an absolute risk that we could fail to develop the technology that gets the energy out of the sea. "If we're not careful we could end up buying this technology from overseas later on, which would be silly." With its island heritage and experience of North Sea oil and gas, Britain should be ideally placed to pioneer marine energy. As we leave in the dark of mid-afternoon, a storm drives rain across the runway. I think of the waves pounding the brave new machines out at sea. Are they the first foot-soldiers of an impending energy revolution or costly forays into the deep that may never really succeed? The next few years will tell.

$5m for hot-rock renewable energy project at Anglesea
December 10th, 2009

Geelong is set to lead the country in renewable energy after the State Government yesterday granted $5 million towards a geothermal power plant. The plant, 9km north of Anglesea, has the potential to power 120,000 homes in the region with clean, renewable energy. Geothermal energy involves drilling a well down 4000m into hot sedimentary rock that contains water at 180C. The water drives the power plant, which creates electricity, the cooled water is then sent back down via a second well to be re-heated.

Mark Miller, the general manager of Greenearth Energy, the company that will oversee and run the plant, said the first stage was to determine if there was enough heat and flow. "If that's successful and we have no reason to believe it won't be, then the second stage, the demonstration stage, will be the building of a plant capable of producing 12MW of power. That could, potentially, power a few thousand homes," Mr Miller said. The first exploratory stage to which the Government has committed the $5 million will begin drilling in August 2010 and is estimated to take 18 months to complete. Thirty-six months later it is expected the second stage will be completed and connected to the national grid.

Stage three will take another five to seven years. "If it's all successful we'll roll out in a modular form multiple 12MW plants with the estimated capacity being 140MW of baseload generation," Mr Miller said. In comparison, the brown coal-fired plant at Anglesea has a capacity of about 150MW. "Geelong is faced with a significant challenge under the carbon-pollution reduction scheme being ring-fenced by industries and this geothermal project will help reach the 20 per cent target of renewable energy by the set time of 2020," he added. "There are also potential offtakers of that power in and around Geelong. Companies like Alcoa and Boral will be able to reduce their baseload emissions.

"We can generate that emissions-free power to the grid and industry and help maintain local jobs." Provided all tests deliver, the Brumby Government will kick in a further $20 million for the $64 million demonstration stage with Greenearth Energy also looking to the Federal Government to support both stage two and stage three. Yesterday Mark Wakeham of Environment Victoria welcomed the State Government's contribution.

"Obviously Victoria hasn't got any major geothermal projects so this is the first cab off the rank. It's expensive initially so we're pleased the State Government has committed," Mr Wakeham said. "It is only one step. Last year 94 per cent of Victoria's power came from burning coal. "We need to be doing a lot to transition away from coal so supporting different renewable energy projects is important. "We've got some wind energy projects going, there's wave power at Portland and if the wind is not blowing, we'll have geothermal power operating."

John Deere Breaks Ground on 16-MW Wind Farm
December 8, 2009

John Deere Renewables this week broke ground on a new wind energy project in Idaho. Located in Twin Falls County, the Tuana Springs Wind Farm will consist of eight 2-MW (MW) turbines. Idaho Power Company is purchasing energy from the project under a long-term power purchase agreement. Commercial operation of the windfarm is expected to begin as early as Spring 2010.

John Deere Renewables funded the Tuana Springs Wind Farm and will also serve as owner and operator of the project, which is the company's fifth mid-sized windfarm development in Idaho. The Tuana Springs project creates new economic opportunities in Idaho including jobs and tax revenue for the state and local governments.

"From our Project 60 economic growth initiative to creating the Office of Energy Resources, making Idaho more energy independent by realising the potential of alternative and renewable energy production in Idaho has been a cornerstone of my administration's efforts," said Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter. "The John Deere name brings with it a lot of public recognition and trust. I'm happy to have this exciting new business venture here in Idaho."

Geothermal power plant given Government nod in Geelong
09 Dec, 2009

A PROPOSAL to build a geothermal power plant in Geelong has been given state government approval today. The Government said it will provide up to $25 million for the Greenearth Energy project which would create Victoria's largest demonstration geothermal power plant. If successful, the Geelong Geothermal Power Project could eventually power more than 120,000 homes with clean, renewable energy. Greenearth Energy's proposal will be the first to take a slice of a $72 million pie for large-scale, pre-commercial, sustainable energy demonstration projects.

The project will be located about 11 kilometres north-west of Anglesea and will be planned in two phases. "We will provide $5 million immediately for stage one, which involves work to confirm the extent and quality of hot sedimentary aquifers at the project site," Energy and Resources Minister Peter Batchelor said. The company will drill to depths of up to 4000 metres to test temperatures.

"If the geothermal resource meets expectations, the Government will provide a further $20 million towards the construction and demonstration of a $64 million 12MW geothermal power plant that can feed renewable power into the local grid. "This would be Victoria's largest demonstration geothermal power plant connected to the grid. "Importantly, the location is close to crucial electricity grid infrastructure and heavy industry, which is important to the expansion and commercialisation of the project."

Geothermal energy is a clean and green renewable energy source generated from naturally occurring heat from hot rocks and water reservoirs deep beneath the earth's surface. Preliminary work by Greenearth Energy shows that the geothermal resource at the site is capable of supporting greater than 140MW of renewable base-load power generation.

Thursday 10 December 2009

Carbon storage identified

Wednesday 9/12/2009 Page: 4

AUSTRALIA'S eastern states have a greenhouse gas storage capacity of up to 450 years for clean coal technology, a geological survey by the Federal Government has found. The report, by the Government's Carbon Storage Taskforce, says most of the storage potential is in aquifers - bodies of rock saturated in water - while depleted gas and oil wells have little to no capacity. All up, the report estimates that storage capacity can capture 20% of Australia's overall carbon emissions, including 90% of coal-fired electricity emissions and 100% of greenhouse gases from natural gas.

But the taskforce's report, which was released by Energy Minister Martin Ferguson yesterday, warns about big hurdles for carbon capture and storage in NSW, which "on current data the majority of the basins have low storage capacity". The results mean NSW industry may be forced to pipe carbon dioxide up to 1700 kilometres to Queensland and Victoria to store carbon with the technology - greatly increasing costs.

Gippsland's offshore basin is regarded by the taskforce as the best site to immediately store carbon, given its proximity to the coal-rich Latrobe Valley. That proximity means costs per tonne of carbon emissions avoided will be limited to $10. Carbon dioxide transported from central east Queensland to the Eromanga basin will cost up to $60 a tonne. The Gippsland basin is estimated to have 25 years of storage capacity, with an injection of 50 megatons of carbon a year. The report also highlighted concerns about the availability of pipes to build necessary transport infrastructure.

About 5000 kilometres of pipeline will be needed for the eastern seaboard alone between 2020-2035. The taskforce report identified a shortlist of projects for the Government's $2.4 billion carbon capture and storage flagship programs. Successful projects include the Victorian Government's CarbonNet project in the Latrobe Valley, the ZeroGen gasification power plant in Gladstone, the Collie South West Hub project near Perth, and the GE Energy backed Wandoan gasification power plant near Brisbane. The projects will be granted $120 million in pre-feasibility funding to establish technical and economic constraints.

Ruling smooths path for Obama's US carbon cuts

Wednesday 9/12/2009 Page: 5

IN A move likely to be a boost to the climate change talks in Copenhagen, America's Environmental Protection Agency has formally declared that greenhouse gases endanger human health. The decision provides a potential alternative route for the US to curb greenhouse gases. It will give US President Barack Obama an avenue to regulate carbon dioxide emissions - with or without Congress. The EPA could regulate sectors such as cars, trucks, power stations and other heavy industry by passing rules that do not require a congressional vote. It also gives President Obama new moral authority to offer up cuts to US emissions despite Congress resistance, because the EPA could impose limits by regulation.

Two weeks ago the President said he wanted a 17% cut on 2005 levels by 2020 as a midterm goal for a cap-and-trade scheme that aims for an 83% cut by 2050. The mid-term figure is highly controversial. It has passed the House of Representatives but faces difficulties in the Senate. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said on Monday that Mr Obama "continues to strongly believe that the best way forward is through the passage of comprehensive energy legislation, the type of which previously passed the House and is being considered now on the Senate side".

But he added that the Supreme Court ruling in 2007 that greenhouse gas emissions could be considered a pollutant and should be regulated by the EPA if it deemed they were hazardous to health, meant that "some action' had to be taken. The thinly veiled threat of using the alternate path will focus the minds of the handful of Democrat Senators and most Republicans who have indicated that they will oppose the cap-and-trade legislation.

It also means that world leaders can be more confident that Mr Obama will implement any pledges to cut emissions made at Copenhagen. Mr Obama has now said he will attend at the end of the conference about December 18, when negotiations are expected to reach a conclusion.

Announcing that the EPA had made the finding that greenhouse gases pose a danger to human health and public welfare, administrator Lisa Jackson said: "The threat is real. The EPA is now authorised and obligated to make reasonable efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Energy Act."

The ruling has horrified US business groups. The conservative US Chamber of Commerce, which has been locked in a public war of words with the Obama Administration, said the EPA finding "could result in a topdown command and control regime that will choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project". The National Association of Manufacturers said the EPA action would do little to combat climate change and "is certain to come at a huge cost to the economy.

Mr Obama is due to meet industry groups supportive of cap-and-trade this week to urge them to support his plan. The US developments will also be studied closely by environmental groups in Australia. The NSW Land and Environment Court has ruled that CO2 is a pollutant that needs to be considered when major projects, such as power stations, are approved. If the cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme fails to pass Australia's Senate next year, the state development approvals processes could provide a new avenue to regulate CO2.

Mexican move a light bulb moment for the globe

Monday 7/12/2009 Page: 6

A cool initiative is a guiding light for Copenhagen, writes Mathew Murphy.

NIC Frances is preparing for a busy month. The executive chairman's Melbourne-based company Cool nrg has started replacing 30 million incandescent light bulbs in Mexico with compact fluorescents. The roll-out, to be done a million light bulbs at a time, has caught the attention of Mexican President Felipe Calderon who, despite the program already being under way, has asked to officially launch the initiative. Once complete, it will save 7 million tonnes of greenhouse gas each year, equivalent to taking all the cars in Mexico off the road for a year.

The excitement is also due to the replacement program being the world's first household energy efficiency project under the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism. The CDM, established under the Kyoto Protocol, allows developed countries to undertake emissions reductions programs in developing countries to meet its targeted obligations under the treaty. Its critics say the mechanism has failed to deliver the technology transfer to developing countries that was intended.

As delegates start arriving in Copenhagen this week to chart a post-Kyoto course, Mr Frances is being paraded as a shining example of what can be achieved. Mr Frances will present at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change event; for the world's peak trading body, the International Emissions Trading Association; at an Austrade meeting; for the major power company partnering the initiative; and finally, in front of the Dutch Government. But the limelight and fanfare has not come without hurdles for the former stockbroker and Brotherhood of St Laurence chief executive.

"We have really slugged it out for more than 2 years to get to this point," he said. "We couldn't find a power company in Australia that was interested, but we found a Dutch company that said, 'This is the future of Clean Development Mechanism. We will buy the first stage up front, at a price much higher than the carbon price, but only if you allow its the following 29.' "We then tried the Australian banks for funding. The Mexican Government put in $1 million, but we needed another $1.5 million, and we could not find a bank in Australia that could understand it so we went to ING and they lent us the money.

"So Australia has been slow off the mark. But when we replace the light globes this will produce a real saving every year for the 10-year life of the globe - that equals about two weeks' salary in Mexico. That is $165 million a year if you aggregate that over all those families, or $1.6 billion over 10 years." Next Mr Frances has his sights on China. He is in talks with a potential partner to increase the project by 10 times, aiming to replace 300 million light globes in China. "This is programmatic CDM, and it can work," he said. "It can provide positive environmental outcomes and at the same time help lift people out of poverty - it is very much a win-win."

Construction to start on wave energy project
December 7, 2009

REEDSPORT, Ore. - - Ocean Power Technologies has selected Oregon Iron Works of Clackamas to begin construction of it's first commercial wave energy powerbuoy system in North America, and it will be built on the Douglas County coastline near Reedsport. Construction of the first power-buoy system represents phase one of the Reedsport wave power station, which is the first commercial-scale facility of its type in North America.

The company says it's expected to generate about 1.5 MWs of electricity. The nine additional power-buoys will be constructed and installed under phase two of the project. PNGC Power, a regional generation and transmission public electric power cooperative, has provided partial funding for phase one of the Reedsport project. The Power-Buoy PB-150 uses the rise and fall of waves to move it up and down and drive and electric generator inside the buoy. The Reedsport wave power station about 2.5 miles off the coast, will connect to the Bonneville Power Administration's Gardiner substation.

Unconventional power plant now a prospect

Adelaide Advertiser
Wednesday 9/12/2009 Page: 63

A NEW gas-fired power plant for South Australia is on the cards following an agreement between Beach Petroleum and Canadian utilities company ATCO. Yesterday the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to explore Beach's unconventional gas reserves in the Cooper Basin, northeast of Moomba. Unconventional gas is natural gas trapped in rock formations below traditional reservoirs, and is now the dominant source of gas produced in the United States.

Technological advancements have made recovering the unconventional resource more viable, meaning the Cooper Basin's untapped gas reserves - believed to be as much as 90% of its total resource - can now be extracted. Adelaide-based Beach Petroleum, which will be renamed Beach Energy next week, said it suspected its unconventional gas reserves in the Cooper Basin had the potential for 50 to 100 years of supply.

The company's initial studies suggest the basin holds "tens of trillions" of cubic feet of gas, with the potential to rival some of the world's largest gas fields. Beach managing director Reg Nelson said the memorandum of understanding would look at the practicalities of developing an unconventional gas project from the Cooper, but the cost and details of the joint venture were yet to be determined. "We have some general parameters in terms of looking at distribution and the possibility of power generation," Mr Nelson said. "ATCO has experience in building gas processing plants and pipelines and we intend to use that experience."

He said he hoped Beach and ATCO would move to a binding heads of agreement within two years. "We would like to see something within the next two years, and by that time we should have a good handle on our ability to produce gas and the cost structure of that," he said. "What we would hope to do is build a plant that has the ability to capture any stray carbon dioxide that is in the gas and we could then look at using that for enhanced oil recovery or to grow algae for biodiesel."

ATCO managing director Geoff Walsh said the company hoped the Cooper gas resource could be used for power generation at Osborne, when that plant's gas supply contract expired in five years time. He also said the company was interested in establishing a new power plant, which could be located near existing electricity infrastructure. Mr Walsh said the gas power could be used to augment wind-generated power, which was unreliable.

€5m in EU funds for wave energy project
December 9, 2009

IRISH OCEAN energy company Wavebob is leading a consortium which has been given just over €5 million in EU funds to test a full-scale wave energy converter off the Portuguese coast. The six-company consortium, known as "Standpoint", will invest a further €3.4 million in the project, which involves testing technology initially developed by Wavebob in Galway Bay. Companies from four other EU member states, including Portugal, Spain, Germany Sweden, will work with Wavebob on the full-scale, grid-connected wave energy converter; it is expected that trials will last three years.

Portugal is regarded as an optimum Atlantic test site in the international race to develop resilient, efficient and cost-effective full-scale wave energy turbines. Last year, three wave energy converters capable of generating 750kW of power each were anchored off the Portuguese coast by Scottish company Pelamis Wave Power, but encountered technical problems.

Wavebob has been conducting sea trials since 2006, and generated electricity in 2007 from the Spiddal test site in Galway bay. It expects full testing of the Portuguese project will begin in a year's time. Dr Imelda Lambkin, Enterprise Ireland national director for the EU's seventh framework programme, said the EU support for Wavebob represented "a fantastic result for an Irish small and medium enterprise", against stiff competition across Europe.

"It proves that Irish research and development is highly regarded internationally," Dr Lambkin said. "Irish companies won €32.4 million in EU research funding in the first two years of this programme". Last week, the Oireachtas committee on climate change and energy security called for substantial financial support for research into ocean energy.

Serial emitter Indonesia goes for taxes, trees and hot rocks

Sydney Morning Herald
Tuesday 8/12/2009 Page: 4

AS AUSTRALIA equivocates on an emissions trading scheme, Indonesia is set to release its draft climate change policy which would establish a carbon tax, roll out geothermal energy and protect forests. The potential carbon tax, part of the Indonesia "green paper" on climate change, will apply to the combustion of fossil fuel and start at $9 a tonne of CO2 rising 5% annually until 2020. The tax could be coupled with reduced energy subsidies to coal- and oil-generated power to try to drive clean energy in the one of the world's fastest growing economies.

The policy paper, commissioned by the Indonesian Ministry of Finance and circulated last week, was to be formally released at climate change negotiations in Copenhagen which started yesterday. The World Bank estimates Indonesia is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, mainly the result of deforestation and burning of peatlands. Indonesia's climate change strategy aims to cut emissions by developing geothermal power, driving energy efficiency and reducing deforestation.

An Australian economist, Frank Jotzo, said the Indonesian Government would rely heavily on selling carbon credits to developed countries to offset their emissions to stop deforestation. Dr Jotzo, the deputy director of the Australian National University's climate change institute, helped prepare the policy paper. He said the proceeds from selling the offsets would be passed on to regional governments for climate change mitigation programs.

The Indonesian Government will develop a detailed plan to tap the country's massive geothermal potential - it has 40% of the world's hot rock resources. The geothermal strategy aims to partially offset a 7% increase in energy demand every year. The plan includes a geothermal tariff, with which the Government would subsidise the purchase of clean energy by electricity retailers. Dr Jotzo said geothermal had obvious potential in Indonesia, but just 3% of the resource had been tapped. Development stalled during the global financial crisis.

The green paper was commissioned by Indonesia's Finance Minister, Dr Sri Mulyani Indrawati, when he was in Australia last year. AusAid and the Australia Treasury helped to prepare it. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has committed Indonesia to emissions reduction targets of 26% on business-as-usual levels by 2020, rising to 41% if the international community commits to climate change funding for developing countries. These targets represent emissions cuts of 6% and 24% respectively on 2005 levels by 2020.

Energy answers are blowin' in the wind

Adelaide Advertiser
Tuesday 8/12/2009 Page: 31

FOR South Australian engineering consultancy company Cyclopic Energy, the answers are blowin' in the wind. A finalist in the inaugural CleverGreen Innovators to Watch service awards, Cyclopic Energy helps developers, architects, consultants and governments make informed investments in small-scale (less than 100 kW) wind energy installations. Cyclopic's "micro siting" service uses computer-based, advanced flow simulation software, to monitor and measure wind flows, identify optimum-use turbines and then help integrate the installations within the environment.

Because of their small size, the wind turbines are extremely sensitive to their environment, with trees and buildings dramatically reducing the available wind resource. Turbine placement is critical in such installations, which are found in large numbers in the US, Cyclopic Energy managing director Dr Damien Leclercq said. "Our service is unique in our ability to deliver it at a price that fits in with the cost of the project.

"In the US, you can find such installations in car parks, hospitals and even schools. In Australia, it's still a new concept," he said. While initial terrain data helps assess the potential of a site, it takes three to six months to obtain reliable wind measurements, technical director Dr Rick Morgans said. "We are already commercialising our services through jobs in the US," Dr Morgans said.

Renewable energy player on front foot

Sun Herald
Sunday 6/12/2009 Page: 63

CBD Energy has runs on the board but still faces some testing times, writes David Potts.

THERE'S a lot to be said for being a renewable energy supplier. Everybody's on side, an ETS can't hurt you and there are lots of federal and state solar subsidies and grants besides. Then there are other people's ETSs, too. China has $US350 billion ($379 billion) ready to be harnessed to meet its 2020 target of 15% of its electricity supplied by renewables. That will buy a lot of, er, wind or solar energy.

Australia's renewable energy target is 20% but this requires a more modest $25 billion-$30 billion investment. CBD Energy, which has antecedents in other fields stretching back before the tech wreck, has lost no energy in getting on the front foot. It has a $25 million deal with a Chinese state owned utility, Baoding Tianwei Wind, which will supply finance (at 4% a year) and turbine windmills for its renewable energy project at Adjungbilly in the Snowy Mountains.

As the project manager, CBD Energy will collect an unspecified fee for building and running the windfarm, its second in the Snowys. It's also bought 20% of Planet Power, paid entirely by scrip, which happens to be one of its biggest customers. Good to see they get on so well. Incidentally, the Hume Building Society in Albury has installed solar panels supplied by CBD Energy, which it says will reduce its electricity tariff by 14%, cut carbon dioxide emissions by 87 tonnes and even generate revenue if it sells surplus power back to the grid.

But the real breakthrough for CBD Energy was when it secured the licence for a method of storing renewable energy through graphite that, putting the resource shoe on the other foot, it imports from China. The trouble with renewable energy is it doesn't work when there's not enough wind for a windmill or the sun has set for solar energy. But CBD Energy's graphite battery can store some of the energy a windfarm can generate. In remote locations it could virtually replace expensive to run diesel generators. By all accounts, it works.

CBD Energy has a joint venture with Hydro Tasmania on King Island, supplying most of its electricity. And the cheese tastes just the same. CBD Energy will be supplying the batteries for its new best friend's huge solar thermal project at Liang Shan in China, its biggest installation yet. They're both looking at other renewable energy projects in Australia and China. Unfortunately, that's different to saying they're making money from them. CBD Energy does have two businesses that are profitable, CapTech and Parmac, but they don't have much to do with renewable energy - one installs air-conditioners.

All up, CBD Energy made a modest loss last year and Alto Capital, which underwrote its recent $5.4 million capital raising and so could be expected to be familiar with the innards of the company, is projecting after-tax losses of $2.5 million next year - down from this year's $3.7 million - and a $0.3 million loss in 2011. Alto Capital says: "It must be noted that if CBD Energy is to achieve its goals in the renewable energy sector, the comp any will be required to raise substantial capital going forward." This could be "at least $40 million in new equity over the next two years".

Atlantis follows funding

Monday 7/12/2009 Page: 30

MARINE energy company Atlantis Resources has deferred plans to build a tidal power energy system at Koolan Islandand in Western Australia, preferring a site in Scotland, where government incentives are greater.

Atlantis Resources, an Australian company that has moved its technological development centre to Singapore and its corporate headquarters to London, is to install its 1MW AK1000 turbine, which stand the height of a five-storey building, at the European Marine Energy Centre, which is being established as a showcase and nursery for marine energy.

Chief executive Tim Cornelius said Scotland was the most lucrative market for marine energy developers and the best place to prove the technology. "More European utilities are investing in the marine power space," says Cornelius, whose company is backed by Norway's Statkraft and Morgan Stanley. "We have to follow where the funding comes from and with so much uncertainty in Australia it's difficult to build a financial model."

Atlantis Resources is also planning to build a 30MW off grid facility near the Orkneys to power a data centre, and is looking for customers said to include Google. The ultimate goal is to build a 150MW installation. Atlantis Resources signed an agreement last week with the Indian state of Gujarat to conduct a feasibility study for installing up to 80 M W of its technology in the Gulfs of Kutch and Khambhat, both known for their large tidal power flows.

CSIRO accused of gagging scientist on emissions trading

Friday 4/12/2009 Page: 12

A quarrel between the CSIRO and one of its employees came to a messy conclusion yesterday with ecological economist Clive Spash resigning and calling for a Senate inquiry. Dr Spash said the inquiry should investigate claims of censorship at the science body. He lashed out at his former employer, saying he had been treated "extremely poorly" by the organisation, which he said had gagged his views on emissions trading schemes. The spat centres on a paper Dr Spash wrote, titled The Brave New World of Carbon Trading, which criticised cap-and-trade schemes, such as the one the Rudd Government is proposing.

The CSIRO refused permission for the paper to be published in the journal New Political Economy because it deemed it in breach of the CSIRO charter, which prevents staff from publicly debating the merits of government or opposition policies. CSIRO chief executive Megan Clark later agreed to publish the paper, subject to amendments she would negotiate with Dr Spash.

But last week, under pressure from Coalition and Greens senators, Science Minister Kim Carr tabled in the Senate an unamended version of the paper, which Dr Spash, 47, had released in a private capacity, in breach of CSIRO policy. Dr Spash said the CSIRO charter, introduced by the Rudd Government last year, was leading to self-censorship. "The way the publication policy and the charter are being interpreted will encourage self-censorship," he said.

The affair follows previous allegations of censorship by the CSIRO of its climate scientists, raised by the ABC in 2006. In April this year four CSIRO scientists were told they were not allowed to give evidence to a Senate inquiry into climate change in a CSIRO capacity. Dr Clark yesterday rejected claims that Dr Spash had been harassed or his work censored. "CSIRO staff are actively encouraged to debate publicly the latest science and its implications and to analyse policy options. However, under our charter we do not advocate for or against specific government or Opposition policies," she said in a statement.

"The CSIRO charter protects the independence of our science. It also protects CSIRO scientists from being exploited in the political process. "Since February 2009 we have attempted to work through these issues with Dr Spash in a respectful way. I absolutely do not accept that asking Dr Spash to meet standards which are met by all our other staff could be considered harassment," she said. Dr Spash, who is British born, is heading to Europe where he plans to stay indefinitely.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Denialists getting desperate with distortions

Blair Donaldson
Tue, Dec 8, 2009

By now most people will know that leaders from almost all nations are meeting in Copenhagen to try and find some practical methods to tackle climate change.

While it's unlikely any set protocol will be formalised, it will be one more step on the long path to genuine action in combating anthropogenic climate change.

So, we should not be surprised that denialists are working overtime to sow seeds of doubt in the minds of the ill informed and those who wish to pretend that climate change is a myth. Unfortunately they are being aided and abetted by the more irresponsible members of the fourth estate, particularly hacks from the Murdoch stable.

The latest "proof" of a world conspiracy on climate change is of course the much trumpeted stolen e-mails which have been selectively released and quote mined by breathless climate change denialists.

For a little background and a more reasoned explanation of what really happened and what the e-mails were actually discussing, please look at the following YouTube videos:

Smacking the Hack Attack
Climate Change -- Those hacked e-mails

Modernity and the climate change response

Christopher Nagle
09 Dec 2009

Jo Chandler, a Melbourne Age journalist, wrote an article in its June 13th 2009 issue about a climate scientist by the name of Graeme Pearman, who out of frustration at the widespread non response to the science of anthropogenic global warming, started to explore the psychology of this phenomenon.

Pearman grasps at this vexed problem by referring back to a long accumulation of economic practices, social norms and collective understandings that are forced to confront an overwhelming awful question about the sustainability of where they are leading us.

Pearman talks of Prof Ross Garnaut’s comment that the climate issue has ‘diabolical’ qualities that push the issue into the far too hard basket. What is surprising to me is that this is surprising, or even needs its own special investigation.

Denial, evasion, crabbing, delay and obstruction of unpalatable information and attempts to act on it, are normal human behaviors, at all levels, all the time.

And always, eventually, the unpalatable facts have their way, at a cost to the protagonists in direct proportion to the initial severity of the problems they raise and the compounding damage caused by the delays and obstructions in dealing with them. The reasons aren’t hard to find and historical precedent is instructive as to why various societies do or do not respond to powerful change vectors.

The Chinese and the Japanese in the middle nineteenth century were very similar in many ways, but when the Westerners smashed in their front doors, the Japanese soldier governors embraced the industrial package being rammed at them and rapidly built one of their own. The Chinese mandarins couldn’t bring themselves to do this and the country rapidly became a shambles that took over a century to fix.

The Chinese had been so large, so successful, so technologically advanced, so cultivated, and until the European Industrial Revolution, possessed of by far the most powerful state on earth since Egyptian times, as well as boasting a very secure existing dynasty to run it. They didn’t feel the need to change a thing or learn anything new, especially from smelly and hairy faced white barbarians.

The Chinese cities had long been ready to industrialize, but in 1432 the Imperial Government suppressed the emergence of capitalism. What self respecting society could possibly allow jumped up merchants and manufacturing artisans to get above their station?

When they eventually did start to westernize, the traditional political and cultural system of administration completely collapsed, descended into warlordism, became vulnerable to foreign interference and invasion, and nothing in the way of western innovation that they adopted seemed to work, except in isolated foreign dominated enclaves.

The Japanese on the other hand, could face the challenge, not because they were any less conservative, xenophobic, arrogant or isolationist than their neighbors, but because a significant part of the feudal ruling class of soldier intellectuals had long been seething with curiosity about The Westerners, even though this was forbidden by the government at the time.

Japan’s military dictatorship was firmly in control and had been for two hundred years, but fundamentally its political arrangements were unstable and depended on military mastery at the center, which was promptly punctured when the Westerners arrived.

Japan’s political outsiders in particular were impatient to get hold of world beating modern military toys, the arsenals that would make them, the modern economy that could support their development and the modern state that would organize the necessary large standing armed forces necessary to repel barbarians and build an empire of their own.

Japanese cities were ready to industrialize and chaffing at the restrictions placed on them. When they did westernize, only the business of producing goods and services changed. Everything else remained exactly as it was. Its institutions were imported but its ethos, capital base, command and major ownership structures were strictly samurai.

By embracing the threat and empowering themselves to act to meet it very decisively and rapidly, they were able to do it their way and stay in control of their fate.

Like the Chinese, we confront an epoch changing challenge every bit as formidable as the crisis of modernization itself, with the same sort of sunny assumptions about the superiority of the system we live under.

The Industrial Revolution, which marked the mature emergence of modern times on the world stage, made its way into history through the mining and conversion of buried carbon into mechanical mass production. This was and continues to be its enduring underpin and defining symbol.

More, every time this new system looked like it might run into a problem, whether it was the Malthusian population time bomb in the eighteenth century, or Erlich et al on the resource limits to growth in the later twentieth, it has always found a new seam of technological fixes and/or resources to mine, to confound the naysayers.

There is therefore an overwhelming and almost universally accepted cultural assumption about the ‘progress’ of the last two hundred and fifty years, that the industrial system is both irreversible and infallibly self correcting.

What couldn’t and still can’t be countenanced, was that Malthus’ and Erlich’s warnings might bide their time inside the system’s exponential growth, waiting to return to bite us on a vastly greater scale than the original critics could have ever imagined.

Still less to be countenanced, is that a gas that is as benign for plants as oxygen is for us, could suddenly come out of left field and not only trump them all, but leverage many of the other threats waiting in the wings.

Modern Times brought pre modern societies challenges that were as deadly and painful as they were inescapable. The ability to meet this challenge was not just a matter of material resources and know how, but on the fortuitous alignment of social forces engaged at the point of historical contact

In Japan, disruption of the status quo caused by outside intervention, triggered waiting and available forces of change. In China there weren’t any and it just triggered contempt, indifference, then grudging marginal accommodation, reactionary denial and finally, an uncontrolled plunge into the maelstrom.

We are doing ‘a China’ because there are painfully few social forces with any sort of clout, that see themselves as benefiting from changes towards a lean running society. It is going to take a lot more than a few Green Senators and some miserably small green industries to transform our situation, either rapidly or decisively.

If we were going to save ourselves from sailing past the critical two degree global temperature increase mark, powerful social forces for change should have already emerged to take us there.

The trouble is, nobody wants to lose any of their myriad technological servants and conveniences, or the physical ease of capital intensive work, or the bright lights and glitz of the cities, or the security of a nanny state, or the prospect of ever more and better toys, fixes and pleasures.

The consumer society has been phenomenally successful in meeting the needs we need and the needs we don’t. And even if the price of gaining this lifestyle has been ecologically and socially horrendous, who can now imagine ‘going back’ or giving anything up? Who really wants to completely restructure and downsize our economy to keep global warming from going over the critical tipping point of no return?

And the fact is we have built a whole world completely dependent on the ongoing success of this system. We have gone far too far and far too long with the industrial experiment now to contemplate the unthinkable possibility that it was all a fatally flawed mistake from the beginning and that the Chinese Imperial mandarins were quite right to throw it into the garbage bin of their history.

In the circumstances, might not retreat be every bit as fraught with danger as gambling on the next technological fix, breakthrough or discovery?

Only as a result of overwhelming scientific warnings (but still in the face of stiff industrial resistance and populist pseudo scientific denialism) are we glacially moving from contemptuous indifference to the threat of global warming, to wary tinkering at its edges in ways that maintain the status quo, just like the Chinese did.

And we will likely suffer the Chinese fate as dominant entrenched economic interest fight to the last gasp (just as the ‘Peking’ Imperial government did) to hold onto their past glories, or pull off one last gambit, while docile civil populations passively go along with them because they are not capable of or willing to shake them off.

China’s failure to modernize cost it a tragic century. Similar failure on the tail end of the modern period will be global, apocalyptic and last for many millennia. Ecological disturbance doesn’t fix itself within human historical time scales. I think that is what Pearson meant when he spoke of this problem as being ‘diabolical’.

An emergent counter force will only ever happen if it can redefine wealth sufficiently to keep us ‘rich’ and ‘growing’ even as the old consumer society is disassembled back to the basics, by replacing it with social and psychological software product, organized and delivered by a network marketing system to the poor at heart and the spiritually hungry.

The cultural landscape of the late consumer period is rapidly becoming a dysfunctional nightmare in the face of protracted social asset stripping by an increasingly totalitarian market system.

Thus any organization that can credibly deliver a program to reverse this will grow very quickly, because it will meet a primary need and have a very familiar ‘feel’, that uses the terms and understandings of a modern society to deliver what would in a previous age have been called salvation, or redemption.

It will in all likelihood emerge too late now to do anything but make the best of a bad situation, by building tougher, more stable, more resilient, more disciplined and socially attractive people, who at their best, will have an aura about them that will make them seem capable of thriving when all else seems lost.

This is not a gaunt hope, but a rich one for what will become a gaunt, wracked and dangerous time to live.

Pearman’s attempt to enquire into the psychological roots of our tardiness with regards to human induced climate change lacks the perspective of social and historical analysis, but it is nonetheless an important part of the process of understanding our predicament, even if right now there is very little we can do to change it in time to avoid substantial damage.

Meridian ready to flick the solar power switch
Dec 7, 2009

Power from Meridian Energy's foray into the United States solar generation market will come on stream next month.

The taxpayer-owned company bought a California solar utility company, Cleantech America, with the twin aims of gaining experience in the solar energy industry and taking advantage of generous state subsidies and tax breaks for renewable power producers. The plant near Fresno is one of the biggest in California in what is still a fledgling industry. With generating capacity of 5MW it is small compared to other power stations here but the sector is about to resume growth after being knocked back by the global financial crisis.

Meridian Energy's corporate ventures manager Guy Waipara said the US$25 million ($34.9 million) venture would end up costing his company around US$5 million after refunds and the ability to write down the cost of the project over a short period. California is providing incentives as part of its goal to have one-third of power from renewable sources by 2020. "It's somewhere where we can add solar to our portfolio of capabilities but do so while making a handsome return," said Waipara. "Everything we do has to be commercial otherwise we have no licence to do it. We don't want to spend New Zealanders' money if we're not making the right returns."

Solar energy initiatives have also been hit by the financial crisis - the Cleantech project was to be much larger - but this had allowed Meridian Energy to buy the company at a substantial discount. "Its been fortuitous for companies like us - it does allow us to move and get things done in an environment where surprisingly not many companies are doing anything," he said.

The solar farm is spread over 20ha with 50,000 semiconductors laminated behind glass sheets pointing south to capture maximum sun. Its life-span should be around 40 years. It has a 20-year supply agreement with one of California's biggest utilities, Pacific Gas and Electricity. The biggest solar farm in the US is a 14MW project in Nevada. There are bigger projects in Spain, Germany and Japan, said Waipara.

Meridian Energy was looking to use the technology in other countries, including New Zealand. However, the price of land and unreliable weather in many areas meant cost effective solar generation was some way off. There were some "sweet spots" in the upper North Island, Coromandel, Gisborne and the East Coast which were sunny but some have transmission constraints from other areas.

Oregon Iron Works To Make Wave Power Buoys
December 4, 2009

Oregon Iron Works announced Friday, that it will manufacture the buoys for a New Jersey company that hopes to build Oregon's first commercial wave power farm. Kristian Foden-Vencil reports. The first buoy will weigh about 200 tons and stand as tall as a three-story building. It's expected to be installed off Reedsport next year. If it's successful, another nine buoys will be added by 2012.

Mark Drape, the CEO of Ocean Power Technologies, says wave power maybe 10 years behind some other renewables, like wind, but it's a power source of the future. Mark Draper: "We intend to build the wave energy capital of the world with you right here in your state." The project is receiving tax credits from the state. But the hope is it'll create up to 150 jobs. Oregon Iron Works built another buoy a few years ago that sank during testing. It was recovered and engineers say a bilge pump failed.

Sapphire Energy of San Diego chosen by U.S. to participate in biorefinery project
December 4, 2009

Sapphire Energy Inc., a San Diego biofuels company that has developed an algae-based fuel used experimentally to power airplanes and drive a car cross country, has been selected to participate in a $564-million biorefinery project, the U.S. Energy and Agriculture Departments announced Friday.

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that Sapphire Energy would receive a federal loan guarantee of up to $54.5 million as part of the project. A total of $564 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be used for "pilot, demonstration, and commercial scale facilities" in a total of 15 states. The goal is to "lay the foundation for full commercial-scale development of a biomass industry in the United States," according to a press release. "Advanced biofuels are critical to building a cleaner, more sustainable transportation system in the U.S.," Chu said. "These projects will help establish a domestic industry that will create jobs here at home and open new markets across rural America."

Sapphire Energy's project will be built in Columbus, N.M. It will be used to demonstrate "an integrated algal biorefinery process" that will cultivate algae in ponds. Oil extraction technology will be used to produce "an intermediate product that will then be processed into drop-in green fuels such as jet fuel and diesel," the press release said. Tim Zenk, vice president for corporate affairs for Sapphire Energy, said that the company also received a $50-million grant from the Department of Energy. "We're extremely pleased. We couldn't be more happy about the opportunity," said Zenk, who added that the company considered it validation "that this is a technology that can address energy security and address the the problems of climate change."

Sapphire Energy's current plans include a goal of producing 1 million gallons of algae diesel and jet fuel each year in the next two years, and up to 1 billion gallons of fuel a year by 2025.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Act and protect the castle: science chief

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 3/12/2009 Page: 8

AUSTRALIA'S Chief Scientist has warned that a failure to act on climate change immediately will place the country at an economic disadvantage. On the same day the Government's emissions trading scheme failed to pass the Senate for the second time, Penny Sackett said the economy was dependent on the environment and that there were genuine opportunities for countries wanting to be leaders in "a new global green economy".

Professor Sackett said she had "serious concerns" that Australia would be at "an economic disadvantage if we don't act now". By acting now we are learning how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are learning the technologies that we need to do it.., by starting now we can be leaders in the global green economy," she said. "That's where I would like to see Australia." While stressing she was not a politician - Professor Sackett is a physicist by training and an astronomer by profession - she said Australia not having a legislated agreement before the Copenhagen climate talks would be "one of the challenges" at the global meeting.

Yesterday's defeat of Labor's emissions trading scheme means Australia will arrive in Denmark with a 2020 target for an emissions cut of between 5 and 25% below the country's 2000 levels. Like the world's leading climate scientists, Professor Sackett argues that there are about five years to avoid the dangerous damage generated if average global temperatures increased by more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. As it stands now, she said, a 1.3 degree temperature rise is all but "locked in". To meet the 2 degree target, we must halt increases in global emissions by about 2015, and then decrease them dramatically and steadily thereafter.

State spat on power reform

Thursday 3/12/2009 Page: 5

VICTORIA finds itself on the frontline of an emerging international effort to pursue energy efficiency and contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by changing its electricity supply grid. It is a complex, expensive and increasingly controversial venture. The state's auditor-general has reviewed the project, the forerunner of a potential national development, and reported the "smart meter" roll-out under way could cost 2.4 million residential and small business consumers two to three times more than estimated by the state government.

Victorian Premier John Brumby has reacted sharply to the criticism, saying 50 million smart meters would be installed across the world in the next year and Auditor-General Des Pearson was out of step with the international trend. The spat highlights the fact that surprisingly little is known by Australians about a radical move in the electricity industry to move the 60-year-old existing network system from a model of central control by producers to offering greater consumer interactivity.

There are two key drivers of this change the need to address feared climate change by making power consumption more efficient, and the need of network operators to slow the relentless expansion of grids to meet demand created by a growing population and economy. In Australia, the networks, half of them still owned by governments, will spend more than $35 billion on capital works in the next five years and, without a major change in demand trends, another $30bn or more in the following five years. With network charges responsible for half of end-user power bills, this represents a major increase in consumer prices over the next decade.

The need to devote billions of dollars to having networks ready to deal with peak power demand in extreme weather means as much as $10bn of the grid assets developed by 2015 will be in use for only about 100 hours a year. These problems confront utilities and governments across the developed world and, with the added impetus of the need to speed up carbon abatement, industry and policymakers are taking the first steps to transform the grid system.

Consultancy Port Jackson Partners, in a report on infrastructure published by the Business Council, predicted last month that the cumulative changes in train will double power prices for Australian end users by 2015. The Rudd Government has so far not disputed this claim. By the end of the next decade, it is forecast, consumers will no longer pay for electricity on the basis of the kW hours they have consumed. Instead, they will purchase a capped amount (with penalties for exceeding it) combined with features such as financial rewards for reducing consumption at peak periods.

Carnegie Wave Energy completes $3.5 million Share Placement
December 04, 2009

Carnegie Corporation Energy (ASX: CWE) is forging ahead with plans in the development of the Company's first full scale CETO Wave Energy unit in the waters off Garden Island in Western Australia after wrapping up a $3.5 million share placement. The placement, at an issue price of 12.5 cents per share, is part of a larger fundraising initiative which will see the Company also implement a Share Purchase Plan to raise up to a further $2.5 million.

The Placement received strong interest from potential participants with firm commitments having now been received for the entire amount. The new issue has been placed almost exclusively to a select group of European, American and Australian institutions with a small balance taken by sophisticated investors pursuant to Section 708 of the Corporations Act.

Funds raised from the Placement and the SPP will be applied towards deployment and commercial scale test work of the Company's first full scale CETO Wave Energy unit in the waters off Garden Island, Western Australia, as well as international site development activities and for general working capital requirements.

Carnegie Corporation Managing Director Michael Ottaviano, said the company took the decision to complete this placement prior to Christmas after having received interest from European institutions. "We will also complete a Share Purchase Plan before Christmas to extend the benefit of the capital raise pricing to our existing shareholder base," Dr Ottaviano said.

The CETO system distinguishes itself from other wave energy devices by operating out of sight and being anchored to the ocean floor. An array of submerged buoys is tethered to seabed pump units. The buoys move in harmony with the motion of the passing waves, driving the pumps which in turn pressurise water that is delivered ashore via a pipeline.

High-pressure water is used to drive hydroelectric turbines, generating zero-emission electricity. The high-pressure water can also be used to supply a reverse-osmosis desalination plant, replacing greenhouse gas emitting electrically driven pumps usually required for such plants.

President Obama Launches Secret Green Partnership With India
December 2, 2009

President Obama Launches Secret Green Partnership With India to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions Despite Senate Boycott In a move sure to anger the "Let's-do-nothing-about-climate-change-till-China-and-India-do crowd", President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India launched a secret Green Partnership to do something about climate change.

The secret arrangement was made while the President was on his failed Asian trip resulting in pre-Copenhagen announcements from China and India; of 40% cuts, and 20% cuts respectively, in carbon emissions. (His secret Red partnership with China is another story) India and the US will launch partly publicly funded joint R&D centers in both countries, to accelerate technologies in the renewable energy innovations needed to reduce carbon emissions in both greenhouse gas giants; India and the US.

All green tech will be covered: solar energy, smart grid, second-generation biofuel, non-mined coal technologies, carbon capture and storage, waste energy, energy-efficient building, wave power, sustainable transportation, energy efficiency, wind energy, micro-hydro power and advanced battery technologies.

Two examples: The EPA will help India establish the first Environmental Protection Agency for India. Colorado's National Renewable Energy Lab will do a full solar mapping of India to show investors there where India's solar potential is greatest for large-scale utility-based solar developments. The two countries agreed on a comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding to enhance cooperation on Energy Security, Energy Efficiency, Clean Energy, and Climate Change.

Through this Memorandum, both countries will work jointly to accelerate development and deployment of clean energy technologies and to strengthen cooperation on adaptation to climate change, climate science, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from forests and land use.
  • Prime Minister Singh and President Obama agreed to encourage the mobilisation of public and private funds that would invest in clean energy projects in India. This represents a major step forward in U.S. – India partnerships to strengthen their economic growth and energy security, while also addressing the threat of global climate change.
  • Prime Minister Singh and President Obama affirmed that the Copenhagen outcome must be comprehensive and cover mitigation, adaptation, finance, and technology. Moreover, it should reflect emission reduction targets for developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries. There should be scaled-up finance, technology, and capacity-building support. There should be full transparency as to the implementation of their mitigation commitments and appropriate processes for review. Both leaders resolved to take significant mitigation actions and to stand by these commitments.
  • In addition, the two leaders launched an Indo-U.S. Clean Energy Research and Deployment Initiative, supported by U.S, and Indian government funding and private sector contributions. This new Initiative will include a Joint Research Center operating in both the United States and India to foster innovation and joint efforts to accelerate deployment of clean energy technologies. The Initiative will allow the two governments to leverage expertise from both countries including government, private industry, and higher education to accelerate the development and deployment of new clean energy technologies. The Initiative will facilitate joint research, scientific exchanges, and sharing of proven innovation and deployment policies.
  • The Initiative's work will be complemented by two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) on Solar Energy and Wind Energy. Through the MOU on Solar Energy, the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) will partner with India's Solar Energy Centre to develop a comprehensive nation-wide map of solar energy potential. More than two dozen U.S, and Indian cities will partner to jointly advance solar energy deployment. The MOU on Wind Energy between NREL and India's Centre for Wind Energy Technology will focus in particular on supporting efforts to develop a low-wind speed turbine technology program.
  • The U.S, and India will increase cooperation on unconventional natural gas including on coal bed methane, natural gas hydrates, and shale gas The two countries will also work to reduce emissions from land use, including deforestation, forest degradation, enhanced sequestration, and sustainable management of forests.
  • Working with India's Ministry of Environment and Forests, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will provide technical support for Indian efforts to establish an National Environmental Protection Authority focused on creating a more effective system of environmental governance, regulation and enforcement.
  • In support of food security and climate change objectives, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will work with India's Ministry of Earth Sciences to more accurately forecast monsoons, and thereby reduce risks associated with climate change and to develop early warning systems to protect people and crops from the adverse effects of extreme weather.

China, India targets in ‘right ball-park’ for carbon budget – PwC
04 December 2009

Targets from China and India to reduce their carbon intensity "are in the right ball-park" for getting the world back in line with its 'carbon budget', according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). On Monday, the professional services firm unveiled its 'Low Carbon Economy Index', which aims to assess governments' progress towards bringing global carbon emissions down to levels likely to avoid catastrophic climate change.

The firm estimates that, globally, mankind can emit a total of 1,300 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) between 2000 and 2050 "to have a fair chance of limiting global warming to 2°C". It finds that, by the end of 2008, the world had overshot this carbon budget, pro rata, by the equivalent of the combined 2008 emissions of China and the US.

However, John Hawksworth, PwC's London-based head of macroeconomics, welcomed both China's target of reducing carbon intensity by 40-45% by 2020, against 2005 levels, and India's 20-25% carbon intensity pledge over the same period. China announced its target last Thursday, while India made its announcement today. "The model says that if China is at the top end of the range, it's in line with what they need to do," he told Environmental Finance. "We would have expected a lower number from India, given its lower level of carbon intensity, but it's in the right ball-park."

"It's welcome that they've come up with any kind of target," Hawksworth added. "Everyone in the 'big four' is talking concrete numbers, it's helpful," in the run-up to next week's Copenhagen climate talks, he said, referring to longstanding targets from the EU and the goal announced by President Barack Obama last week. The PwC index finds that the EU – which claims a leadership position on climate change – is 7% above the trend line that would see its carbon intensity reduced to safe levels.

PwC uses carbon intensity – rather than absolute emissions – to compare emission reduction efforts across countries with different GDP levels and as their GDP changes. However, the EU has pledged to a 20-30% absolute reduction against 1990 levels by 2020, while the US is aiming for a 17-20% reduction against 2005 emissions by the same date. The company plans to use the index to periodically assess governments' overall policies to reduce carbon emissions.

Cape Wind clears key hurdle
December 2, 2009

Eight years into his quest to build a 130-turbine windfarm in Nantucket Sound, Cape Wind CEO Jim Gordon has cleared a key hurdle: New England's biggest utility is agreeing to start negotiating a deal to buy Cape Wind's electricity. While many controversies remain, a deal with National Grid USA, which serves 1.7 million electric customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, could be a crucial step persuading bankers and investors to back what could be a $1 billion project.

"I think they understand the potential and the promise that offshore wind has in addressing climate change, in increasing our energy independence, and creating new green jobs and stabilising energy costs,'' Gordon said. "It moves renewable energy much closer for Massachusetts.'' Gordon said if he can land such a big paying customer for the 420-MW project, "a long-term power purchase agreement is critical for getting financing for a large renewable energy project.''

National Grid spokeswoman Jackie Barry said the utility is eager to support renewable energy, but only at the right price. The company's agreement to seek state regulatory approval to negotiate a deal with Cape Wind "doesn't necessarily mean that we will enter into a contract, although obviously that is our goal... One key piece of our negotiations will be to ensure that if we do come to an agreement with Cape Wind that it's an agreement that includes fair and reasonable price for our customers.''

The possible deal with National Grid comes as the Cape Wind project is being buffeted by all kinds of political crosswinds. Interim U.S. Senator Paul G. Kirk Jr., who like the late Ted Kennedy is a Cape Wind opponent, has been urging President Obama's administration not to approve the Nantucket Sound project until a federal interagency task force completes approval of comprehensive new ocean development rules, a process with no clear deadline. Kirk is in office only until soon after a Jan. 19 special election to permanently replace Kennedy.

On the other hand, Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick, who is facing a tough reelection fight and could be out as governor in a little over one year, is fighting just as hard to make sure it gets built before he potentially leaves office.

At the same time, the Federal Aviation Administration is continuing to weigh concerns about how the turbines could affect air-traffic-control radar. And the Mashpee and Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribes are urging the sound be protected as sacred submerged ancestral burial grounds and a place where they perform rituals of greeting the rising sun over the waters. Massachusetts historical preservation officials are so far supporting the Wampanoags' plea to have Nantucket Sound added to the National Register of Historic Places, which could further delay the project.

The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound says Cape Wind has drastically understated how ugly the project will be as seen from places like Centerville, Mass. Alliance leader Audra Parker predicted the National Grid negotiations will finally prove that unless it gets massive taxpayer subsidies, Cape Wind will be grossly and unsustainably expensive electricity compared to power generated from natural gas, coal, or nuclear energy. Proposals elsewhere for offshore wind projects, including one near Long Island, have collapsed in recent years after it became clear utilities and their ratepayers could not afford the premium price for their electricity.

But one national wind energy leader, Laurie Jodziewicz of the American Wind Energy Association, said at an AWEA conference meeting in Boston news of the Grid contract negotiations feels like a turning point. "Cape Wind is the leader, and this kind of continuing momentum is really exciting for us,'' she said. "This is one more step in making these offshore projects real.''

Energy tariff a turn-off - Eco-power pay pittance blurs vision, says installer

Hobart Mercury
Thursday 3/12/2009 Page: 24

PREMIER David Bartlett's vision of Tasmania as a capital of renewable energy has been eroded by the Government's policy on feed-in tariffs, power industry insiders warn. The renewable-energy industry has been campaigning for higher payments to those who feed energy back into the grid from household solar and wind installations. Energy Minister David Llewellyn said he had listened to the arguments for and against gross feed-in tariffs but had decided to legislate to maintain the status quo, by which Aurora Energy voluntarily paid around 19c a kW to household power generators.

The NSW Government has recently announced a gross feed-in tariff of 60c a kW to provide an incentive for householders and businesses to instal renewable energy systems. "We are satisfied that Aurora Energy's current policy of paying the full retail price for any electricity that is supplied back to the grid is fair and reasonable in the Tasmanian context." Mr Llewellyn said.

Renewable energy installer Rob Manson, of the company I Want Energy, said the decision would do nothing to realise the Premier's vision of Tasmania becoming the green energy capital of the southern hemisphere. "It is essentially an announcement about nothing." Mr Manson said. "It is a missed opportunity and hopefully they can right this wrong."

As late as last week. Government members were foreshadowing a major election pledge on feed-in tariffs. Greens leader Nick McKim said the move was a small step in the right direction. "Unless the Bartlett Government goes further, this will do little to drive distributed renewable energy generation in Tasmania." he said. Mr Bartlett said: "There are a whole lot of complexities and David Llewellyn is outlining a whole range of new plans for the energy industry."

The Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomed news that more small businesses will be able to choose who they buy power from. From 2011 about 2600 businesses that pay more than $10,000 a year for power can access full retail competition. "Expanding competition has the potential to lower prices and increase innovation in the energy market," TCCI chief executive Robert Wallace said. There were no plans to allow residential customers to choose retailers.