Thursday 29 April 2010

Pensioners slugged for selling solar power
April 26, 2010

Pensioners will have their payments cut if they sell excess electricity from their solar electricity systems, the federal government has confirmed. Former policeman Rod Campbell, 63, collects a carer's pension while looking after his wife, and spent $11,000 to install solar panels on his home in the NSW town of Port Macquarie. He said he discovered the government's rules would lead his pension to be cut. ''The government preaches that it wants you to cut your carbon footprint and as soon as you do it they punish you for it,'' Mr Campbell told News Ltd papers.

Mr Campbell said the issue was confirmed in a letter from the office of Families Minister Jenny Macklin, which said the social security test applied to any money from an electricity company ''either as a direct payment or as a credit or rebate on a person's electricity bill''. ''We could suffer a loss of pension for trying to do a good thing,'' Mr Campbell said.

A spokeswoman for Ms Macklin said: ''If a pensioner sells power back to the grid and receives cash payments or a rebate on their power bill that is counted as income for social security purposes.'' Family First Senator Steve Fielding said the situation was "penny pinching by a stingy government'' at a time when pensioners faced rising electricity prices. ''People have done the right thing and signed up to help the environment like the PM wanted them to and now they're being penalised for it. It's just disgusting,'' he said.

DuPont and Oerlikon Launch New Photovoltaic Encapsulant
April 25, 2010

(Nanowerk News) In the drive for more cost-effective solar energy, Dupont and Oerlikon Solar have collaborated on a new, ultra-thin white reflective solar photovoltaic encapsulant sheet that is part of the Dupont(TM) PV5200 Series. The new Dupont(TM) PV5223 white reflective polyvinyl butyral (PVB) encapsulant enables easier manufacturing of next-generation thin film photovoltaic modules that not only capture sunlight coming in, but also reflect more sunlight back through the module - - delivering more power. Encapsulants are among the most important materials to solar module manufacturers for high-volume module sealing and integration. Choosing or creating the right material not only speeds module production, but can significantly improve long-term power output and module durability.

"In the rapidly evolving and growing solar power market, equipment and materials leaders often innovate faster and more effectively by increasing collaboration," said Steve Cluff, global business director - Dupont Photovoltaic Encapsulants. "Dupont's market-driven science is supporting the solar industry's race for lower cost per watt. Dupont values the partnership with Oerlikon Solar, as we both view encapsulant technology playing an increasingly multi-functional role in next-generation photovoltaic modules." "The PV5200 Series enables more power from our modules, lower material use, a smaller environmental footprint and easier lamination. It all adds up to a bright outlook for our module manufacturing customers," said Ivan Sinicco, senior manager, Module Development - Oerlikon Solar.

Eden feels the heat over wood-fired power plant

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 26/4/2010 Page: 5

Eden, on the state's south coast, is set to be the first Australian town to be powered by a woodfired electricity plant, despite concerns that burning trees could generate more greenhouse gas emissions than burning coal. The woodchip company behind the plant, which is being considered by the NSW government, describes it as a renewable energy project that will make practical use of offcuts and sawdust from its existing mill. But it faces fierce opposition from sections of the local community which believe the plan will entrench logging in native forests and promote demand for woodchips.

Although the plant's developer, South East Fibre Exports, plans to phase in plantation wood, the majority of the 51,000 tonnes of fuel will still come from logging in native forests. When the role of the living trees as carbon sinks is factored in, emissions from the plant soar to up to four times that of a coal plant, campaigners argue. "There is a huge amount of lies and misinformation floating around about the emissions." said a South East Fibre Exports spokesman, Vince Phillips. "If the government wants figures on all emissions, we will supply them."

Mr Phillips said the proposal had been beset by "manic hatred" from the environment movement, including the creation of a prominent fake website twisting the company's line. "They've just got a mindset that says there shouldn't be logging in native forests at all, but were confident the government will see through that." Yet the power station plans suffered a serious blow last year when electricity retailers decided not to recognise it as an accredited supplier of renewable power.

"Setting aside the issue of carbon emissions, the more we log the forests, the more it affects the hydrology of our region, the less rainfall we have, which leads to fewer trees." said Prue Acton, a spokeswoman for South East Region Conservation Alliance, one of several groups campaigning against the plant. The NSW Greens MP John Kaye said the power station was simply a way to sustain the south coast logging industry, which sometimes operates at a loss.

"Even after allowing for the forests to regrow to capture some of this CO2, the power station has a carbon footprint that is four times the size of a coal powered generator," he said. "When the entire fuel cycle is considered, this is a carbon dirty proposal. The applicant has neatly sidestepped the real greenhouse implications of burning forestry materials." The campaigners delivered 2000 letters from residents opposing the plan to the NSW Premier, Kristina Keneally, last week.

Solar Projects To See The Light Of Day

Monday 26/4/2010 Page: 23

IT could be a big fortnight for the Australian solar industry. The shortlist for the first two projects in the $1.5 billion Solar Flagships program is expected to be announced soon, and so will the much awaited but long-delayed winners of the solar component of the Renewable Energy Demonstration Program. The announcements will be a major boost to the solar industry, which has enjoyed something of a mini-boom in small-scale rooftop installations, but has made no progress on larger, utility-scale installations and those in between.

The federal government is expected to announce half a dozen candidates to build Australia's first large-scale photovoltaic project and its first large-scale solar thermal project. There have been some 52 applications, attracting most of the world's leading solar energy developers, equipment suppliers, engineering groups and financiers. The winners are expected to be announced later this year, although there is some concern this timetable may be derailed by the election.

The REDP grant allocations had been expected last year and were feared lost in a bureaucratic reshuffling of funds but, according to a spokesman for Energy Minister Martin Ferguson, they will be announced "in the very near future". These grants, possibly as much as $130 million, will focus on funding demonstration projects for emerging solar technologies. The local industry is rich in natural resources and R&D but has been forced to watch as European countries and China forge ahead with strong government incentive schemes.

Australia is expected to install around 50MW of solar PV this year, mostly the result of sate-based incentive schemes. But according to a survey by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, it trails behind less well solar-endowed countries by a wide margin. Its survey found 7300MW of solar PV was installed worldwide in 2009, with nearly half of this coming from Germany, followed by Italy at 580MW, Japan and the US with nearly 500MW each, the Czech Republic with 397MW and Belgium with 233MW. A further 11,000 may be installed this year.

And solar thermal, which differs from solar PV because it uses the sun's heat to create steam and drive conventional generators, is also making solid progress. Areva, the French nuclear giant which recently completed the purchase of Australian) founded solar thermal group Ausra, is in talks in India with a view to building several 50MW solar thermal plants as part of that country's stated goal to build 1000MW of solar thermal capacity by 2013 and another 3000MW by 2017.

Germany's Solar Millennium, one of the applicants for the Solar Flagships, reportedly said last week it was on track to complete a 150MW solar thermal plant in Egypt this year, which will be boosted by gas turbines and is being touted as a template for a series of solar farms and other renewable energy installations that will form part of the proposed $700bn Desertec Foundation project that will supply up to 25% of Europe's energy needs.

Thousands protest against nuclear power plants
April 24, 2010

Thousands of protesters across Germany have formed a human chain to demonstrate against the government's policy on nuclear power plants. The environmental group BUND said in a statement Saturday that some 120,000 protesters formed a 120 kilometre-long (74-mile-long) human chain through Hamburg and along the Elbe river in northern Germany rejecting government plans to extend the operation time of nuclear power plants. BUND spokesman Thorben Becker said that the demonstrations are a signal to the government that "it is high time to shut down the country's nuclear plants." Protests also took place at a nuclear power plant in Biblis in central Germany and at the nuclear waste storage facility in Ahaus in the west of the country.

U.K. Offshore Wind Power Reaches 1 Gigawatt on E.ON, Dong Farms
April 23, 2010

April 23 (Bloomberg) - - U.K, offshore wind power now has 1GW of generating capacity after projects by E.ON AG and DONG Energy A/S began producing electricity, the industry group RenewableUK said. The "landmark" figure - - enough to power 653,000 homes - - was reached this week when E.ON's Robin Rigg and DONG Energy's Gunfleet Sands wind parks started operating, the group said today in an e-mailed statement. "In the first quarter of this year alone, $500 million pounds ($768 million) of private investment has been invested directly into offshore wind in the U.K.," RenewableUK Chief Executive Officer Maria McCaffery said in the statement.

The U.K, in 2008 overtook Denmark to become the leading nation in terms of installed offshore wind power. Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government, facing an election on May 6, is betting on the technology to cut emissions of CO2 and meet European Union renewable energy targets. Brown's ruling Labour Party and the two main opposition groups, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, have all pledged measures to boost offshore wind production should they win the general election.

General Electric Co, last month said it would build a new plant in Britain to make offshore wind turbines, and Clipper Windpower Plc in February began building a factory to make offshore turbine blames. Siemens AG is also studying whether to build a new wind-power equipment facility in the U.K. Farms with a further 4GWs of capacity have planning permission or are being built, RenewableUK said. In January, the government awarded licenses for 32,200 MWs of projects to companies including Centrica Plc, RWE AG and Statoil ASA.

eHydrogen Solutions expands its real-time hydrogen and energy production design scope with Stirling Engine technology
April 22, 2010

eHydrogen Solutions, Inc. (eHS) announced today the expansion of its Combined Heat & Power (CHP) development projects for residential, commercial and industrial use. The CHP systems design scope now includes the optional addition of a Stirling Engine for efficient electrical energy production or refrigeration capability.

Through the integration of the very high energy content of hydrogen with the high efficiency of Stirling Engine technologies as the power generation module of its CHP systems, eHS significantly increases the efficiencies, production capabilities and power output, with virtually no CO2 or other emissions.

Unlike internal combustion engines where combustion takes place inside the cylinder at low efficiencies, Stirling Engines are external combustion engines operating at high efficiencies. The utilisation of eHS' proprietary On Demand Hydrogen Production (ODHP) technologies as the heat source of a Stirling Engine powered CHP system, increases the overall effectiveness of the CHP system and broaden the developmental scope of the project. The systems will produce both electrical and thermal energy, making this appliance suitable for both the domestic and SME markets.

Stirling Engine technologies are noted for their high efficiency, quiet operation, and the ease with which it can use almost any heat source. This compatibility with alternative and renewable energy sources has become increasingly significant as the price of conventional fuels rises, and also in light of concerns such as peak oil and climate change. This has important implications, since hydrogen can be economically produced on-site and does not need to be transported. The Company recently announced it had increased its focus and resources to the critical Technology Development & Demonstration phase of the Innovative Cycle, which includes Prototype, Demonstration and Market Analysis.

The Company's recent acquisition of key On Demand Hydrogen Production (ODHP) technologies (such as: Photoelectrolysis and artificial Photosynthesis, water and reactive metal alloys) enabled the company to expand its operations to the critical Technology Development & Demonstration phase of the Innovative Cycle, which includes Prototype, Demonstration and Market Analysis. The Company has assembled experienced cross-functional teams to guide each innovation acquisition, technological adaptation and system integration through the required steps to successful commercialisation.

The operational and strategic expansion will be accompanied by new marketing and corporate branding initiatives supported by an upgraded website reflecting the Company's core holdings and technologies. Shareholders can expect frequent updates on the company's expansion and new operations. The Company believes its acquisition and growth-oriented business plan will provide stockholders with consistent equity growth and access to the multi-billion dollar alternative energy industry through its licensing and distribution of hydrogen-powered energy systems and solutions.

The Company continues to develop and license a variety of technologies and power systems founded on its core ODHP holdings and will make further announcements on the progress of each of these new initiatives as the various technologies are integrated into its development and partnership programs.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Australia Will Allow Exports of Uranium to Russia
April 22, 2010

April 23 (Bloomberg) - - Australia, the world's third-largest uranium producer behind Kazakhstan and Canada, will ratify a nuclear agreement allowing exports to Russia for energy purposes, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said. "This will enable Australian uranium to be exported to the Russian Federation for civil, peaceful nuclear purposes," Smith said, according to an e-mailed transcript of a news conference yesterday in Moscow with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The agreement will strengthen cooperation on safeguards to protect exports as Australia and Russia "both stand firmly against terrorism and violent extremism," Smith said.

Australia, which does not generate any nuclear power, has the world's biggest known uranium reserves, according to estimates from the World Nuclear Association. While exports to Russia will go ahead, Australia doesn't allow uranium to be sent to India for energy use because the Asian country hasn't signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Russia hopes ratification of "agreements on the peaceful use of nuclear energy" will be completed "soon," Lavrov said. Australia and Russia signed up to President Barack Obama's plan to secure all vulnerable nuclear material in four years outlined at a two-day summit in Washington earlier this month that involved 47 countries. "Together with other colleagues we will work in such a way that the conference on non-proliferation in May will be concluded with important results," Lavrov said, referring to the NPT Review Conference in New York from May 3-28.

Deep Reserves
As much as 10 % of Australia's uranium is found in the state of Western Australia and is valued at about A$40 billion ($37 billion), according to a government estimate. BHP Billiton Ltd.'s Olympic Dam mine in South Australia contains the world's biggest uranium deposit.

Energy Resources of Australia Ltd., a uranium producer controlled by Rio Tinto Group, provides about a 10th of the world's mined uranium. It operates the Ranger Uranium Mine in the Northern Territory and sells uranium to utilities in Asia, Europe and North America. It began shipments to China in 2008. The Premier of Western Australia Colin Barnett lifted a ban on new mining of uranium, which is processed into nuclear fuel, when his Liberal party won office in September 2008.

World’s Largest Land Wind Project Planned in Romania
April 19th, 2010

While the debate goes on whether to move forward on the Cape Wind energy project in this country, the Europeans seem poised to leave those efforts in the wind-swept dust. reports Spain-based Iberdrola SA will build the world's largest onshore wind-energy project in Romania, a $2-billion project that will produce 1,500 MWs of capacity … five times bigger than Europe's largest wind complex and three times bigger than the Massachusetts offshore wind project:

Iberdrola, which became the world's biggest wind-farm owner by using government incentives and charging above-market electricity rates for clean energy, now operates in 10 markets including the US and U.K. The Romanian mega-park, near its operations in neighbouring Hungary, may extend the Spanish company's lead over second-ranked wind producer FPL Group Inc, of Florida.

Romania generates much of its electricity by burning oil and gas, which can be easily scaled back during a windy day to allow for surges of power from windmills, said Will Young, a wind energy analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in London. "That makes Romania an attractive market," Young said today in an interview. "Romania has relatively high power prices and flexible energy generation that allows power producers to feed in electricity easily." Iberdrola plans to build 50 wind farms in Romania, able to light up almost one million homes.

Newest Pew Report Strong on Clean Energy Investment, Jobs
April 19, 2010

The newest clean energy report from the Pew Research Center Research Center shows China taking the lead over the United States for overall clean energy finance and investment in 2009, although the U.S, still led, by almost a full percentage point, in renewable energy capacity. Called Who's Winning the Clean Energy Race? [pdf], the report focuses largely on green energy funding across the entire G20 spectrum. The G20 is a consortium of developed or developing nations which include 20 individual countries plus the European Union, or EU, and whose economies comprise 80% of world trade and 85% of the world's gross national product (GNP).

Because of the funding focus, information on renewable energy jobs is slim, and the report – while highlighting the fact that the clean energy economy is one of the "great global economic opportunities of the 21st century" – emphasizes only that stronger U.S, policy is needed to prevent the nation slipping even further behind the world in this particular market segment. In fact, the June 2009 Pew Research Center Report was more specific to jobs, noting that – from 1998 to 2007 – jobs in the renewable energy sector grew 2.5 times faster than elsewhere.

This resulted in the creation of 770,000 jobs, which the newer report says are "poised for even greater growth", given the restored enthusiasm of consumers recovering from a recession and venture capitalists like Lord Drayson and Hermes Private Equity emerging from their recessionary strongholds to evaluate emerging, cleantech IPOs.

The 770,000 clean tech jobs stand favourably alongside 1.3 million energy jobs (utilities, coal mining, and oil and gas extraction), and compete strongly with 989,000 telecommunications jobs, according to a 2009 Clean Edge report (which draws its material from a number of sources, including the 2009 Pew Research Center report). This report also demonstrated the strength of the solar photovoltaic energy industry, where 200,000 direct and indirect global jobs compete with 400,000 global wind power jobs.

In spite of the number of wind-related jobs, however, solar PV stands at the top of a list of five clean tech industry categories (solar, biofuels, conservation, smart grid and wind), while wind now occupies a bottom slot. Furthermore, says the Clean Edge report - Clean Energy Trends 2010, by 2019 the global solar PV and wind power sectors will push job creation to 3.3 million. According to David Prend, director of the National Venture Capital Association: "Clean tech is where [information technology] was 30 years ago and biotech was 20 years ago…"

In 2010, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (the group that compiled the statistics for the newest Pew Research Center Research Center report), US$200 billion worldwide will be invested in clean energy, climate and environmental programs, and associated jobs. This is supported, if more modestly, by figures from which shows investment in 1Q 2010 at US$1.9 billion, up almost 30% from the previous quarter and 83% higher than a year ago. In addition to venture capital and private investment, governments around the world earmarked $184 billion for clean energy in 2008-2009, most of it in the U.S, and China.

Unfortunately, only 9% ever reached the clean tech industries themselves, or about $8 billion in the U.S., and this translated into a dismal clean tech jobs report for 2009 that had even industry experts asking how so much money had failed to produce jobs – a situation not much improved by President Barack Obama's Jan. 2010 announcement of US$2.3 billion more to create clean tech manufacturing jobs.

The jobs will certainly be needed. A March report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, or LBNL, estimates clean tech jobs growth from now to 2020 could reach as high as 1.3 million. The problem, notes LBNL (an energy research arm of the U.S, government), is that these jobs may not emerge, or may not provide individuals adequately trained for clean tech sectors, most notably smart grid upgrades.

According to the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) third quarterly report on ARRA economic impacts, 1Q 2010 jobs rose by between 2.2 and 2.8 million, with the tax relief and income support provisions accounting for half of that amount. Thus one could extrapolate, in the very worst case, that ARRA stimulus funding for solar, wind, biomass and other clean tech energy sources accounted for about a million clean tech jobs. Clearly, naysayers and skeptical traditional energy industry executives aside, clean tech is the sector college students should be investigating.

Some of the hottest jobs in this sector, according to Clean Tech, include: solar energy systems designer; "green" (LEED-certified) building energy auditor; mechanical engineer; civil engineer; IT power system control craftsman; control system engineer; electrical systems inspector; and energy management solutions logistics analyst.

The hottest cities? San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Newark, Boston, Baltimore, Denver, Seattle and Portland. But should your car break down in Detroit or Wichita, you will likely be the most qualified clean energy individual for a hundred miles, and that might be nice, too.

Insulation sector shake-up

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Friday 23/4/2010 Page: 11

The Federal Government is looking to introduce greater regulation of the home insulation industry in a move to restore consumer confidence, after a review of its retro-fitting program showed long-standing problems in the industry and an inadequate regulatory framework. Energy Efficiency Minister Greg Combet announced on Thursday that the government had shelved its pledge to restart the home insulation program (HIP) after the author of the report, Allan Hawke, indicated he held "grave concerns about the wisdom" of proceeding with it.

Dr Hawke's review revealed it was difficult to predict the high level of unscrupulous behaviour that took place and that Environment Minister Peter Garrett had responded in a timely manner when issues arose. Dr Hawke has recommended a new and nationally consistent regime for the industry based on a South Australian licensing system. Fletcher Building announced on Thursday it would close a production line at its Dandenong plant with the loss of 68 jobs, adding to the 52 jobs lost at its Sydney plant earlier this year. The February decision to stop the program has resulted in job losses and stockpiling of products by installers. Mr Combet said about 200,000 homes will be inspected, based on a risk profile of those most likely to need work, while 8% of homes were found to be noncompliant.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Time to bust some myths about renewable energy
Wednesday 21/4/2010 Page: 1

Opinion: Dr Mark Diesendorf, Deputy Director of the Institute of Environmental Studies

The myths and assumed wisdom around renewable energy and its capabilities have been refuted, time and time again, by renewable energy scientists and engineers, but despite this, incorrect and misleading assertions are repeated, as if repetition of a falsehood somehow makes it true.

And who are the people peddling these inaccuracies? They come mainly from the coal and nuclear industries, electricity generators, other big greenhouse polluters such as the aluminium industry, and the supporters of these industries. And with the exception of some nuclear power proponents, renewable energy deniers are generally also climate change deniers.

If they cannot refute a particular observation by rational argument, they try to cast doubt on the result by introducing irrelevant material. They look for molehills in renewable energy systems and blow them up to mountains. They are masters of the 10% truths: taking a few facts and then spinning them into stories that convey the opposite impression from the logical implications of those facts. They insinuate arguments rather than state them clearly and unambiguously. Then, when questioned incisively about their insinuations, they back off and shift ground.

To follow is an attempt to test some of the claims trotted out by renewable energy deniers while demonstrating their tactics:
  • Claim 1. Renewable energy cannot provide base-load (24-hour) power.
A detailed refutation, based on a large body of international research carried out over the past 30 years, is given in my article The Base-Load Fallacy. Very briefly, both bioelectricity, based for example on the combustion of crop and plantation forest residues, concentrated solar thermal power with thermal storage, and geothermal power can be operated as base-load. Wind power from geographically distributed sites, with a little intermittent back-up from gas turbines, can also replace some base-load coal or nuclear. Energy efficiency and solar hot water can reduce the demand for base-load.
  • Claim 2: Renewable energy cannot provide sufficient power to run an industrial society.
A simple calculation shows that in Australia a square 30km by 30km, filled with solar collectors and installed on marginal land, could provide all of current electricity. Of course, in practice there would be a mix of different renewable electricity sources - wind, sun, biomass, etc - and part of the solar contribution would be installed on existing roofs rather than in the Outback. In the long term, Australia could export vast quantities of solar energy stored as hydrogen, methanol or ammonia.

Similarly, a tiny percentage of US land area could generated all its electricity. Although Europe doesn't have sufficient land to provide all its projected energy demand from local renewable energy (see Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air), there is now a proposal, backed by major corporations, to feed solar and wind power from North Africa to Europe by underwater transmission lines.

Globally, there is ample renewable energy available for demands projected to 2050 (Sorensen & Meibom, International Journal of Global Energy Issues 13 (1/2/3) 2000, DOI: 10.1504/IJGEI.2000.000869; Jacobson & Delucchi, Scientific American 301 (5): 58-65, November 2009). However, like fossil fuels and uranium, renewable energy is not distributed equitably across the earth and so trade will be necessary, by transmission line, pipeline and ship.
  • Claim 3: Renewable energy will be too expensive to provide most of our energy.
Only demand reduction from energy efficiency, energy conservation and solar hot water can compete in price with conventional coal power, which is cheap and nasty. In the absence of a carbon price, all low-carbon supply side alternatives are going to be substantially more expensive than dirty coal power. However, the present costs of wind and bioelectricity from residues are already less that those of new nuclear and the estimated future costs of coal with CCS.

The prices of more expensive forms of renewable electricity, solar photovoltaics and concentrated solar thermal, are declining steadily as their markets expand, and are likely to become competitive with nuclear (whose capital cost has been escalating rapidly) by 2020. It should also be borne in mind that renewable energy and energy efficiency are being implemented together and the economic savings from energy efficiency can pay for a large part of the additional costs of renewable energy, as shown by McKinsey & Co. In contrast, nuclear power and coal with CCS are being promoted on the basis that they will need no reductions in demand growth.
  • Claim 4: Denmark's success in generating 20% of its electricity generation from wind power is actually a failure.
Much Danish wind power is wasted, because it is not used in Denmark, although it is supported by "crippling subsidies". These and other fallacies have been published by a Danish "think tank" called CEPOS (Center for Politiske Studier), funded by fossil fuel interests. The fallacies have been disseminated by many renewable energy deniers, including advocates of the non-existent Integral Fast Reactor.

A detailed refutation has been published by group of 14 Danish energy experts writing on behalf of CEESA (Coherent Energy and Environmental System Analysis). These authors show that: Only about 1% of Danish wind power is exported and so wind power does indeed provide about 20% of Danish electricity consumption. From a market perspective, it is generally electricity from power stations with the highest operating cost that is exported, rather than wind, which has the lowest operating cost. No taxes are recycled to support established wind turbines.The price of Danish residential electricity, excluding taxes and VAT, is only the 10th highest of the 27 EU countries. The high total price of Danish residential electricity is actually the result of high taxes and VAT which are not used to support existing wind power.

The price of Danish industrial electricity, excluding taxes and VAT, is actually the 7th lowest of the 27 EU countries. On average Danish electricity consumers pay an additional 0.54 €C/kWh for feed-in tariffs for CO2-free electricity. On the other hand, with its very low operating costs, wind power reduces electricity prices in the Nord Pool market by 0.27 €c/kWh on average. Therefore, the net price impact of wind power is the (0.54 - 0.27) €c/kWh = 0.27 €c/kWh, which is negligible, considering that wind supplies 20% of Danish electricity.

A further exchange of arguments, available for download from the CEESA website, does not change the above refutation of the CEPOS report. Since Danish wind power has been a great success, it is not surprising that it is a focus for renewable energy deniers.

The above four incorrect and misleading claims show how renewable energy deniers try to undermine the only zero-emission energy supply technologies that can make substantial reductions in CO2 emissions before 2025. Many of these technologies are either commercially available or semicommercial now. They can be rolled out very quickly, because they are manufactured in small modules in factories.

Globally wind power has been growing at about 25% per year for the past 20 years; in China it has been growing at 100% per year for each of the past five years; in Denmark, the official energy plan will expand wind power from 20% to 50% of Danish electricity by 2025. Such high rates of growth are impossible for coal with CCS and nuclear power stations, which are gigantic construction projects.

*Dr Mark Diesendorf is Deputy Director of the Institute of Environmental Studies at University of New South Wales. He is author of 'Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy' and 'Climate Action: A campaign manual for greenhouse solutions'.

Brazil rushes ahead with giant dam

Canberra Times
Thursday 2214/2010 Page: 13

Brazil has speedily awarded the tender for a controversial hydroelectric dam projected to be the world's third-largest, despite fierce opposition from environmentalists. The Government pushed ahead with the bidding process to begin construction of the giant Belo Monte dam after beating back a last-minute suspension order with a rushed appeal. The tender was awarded to Norte Energia yesterday, a consortium led by a subsidiary of state electricity company Electrobras, after a series of court injunctions that had blocked and unblocked the auction process.

Indigenous groups and environmental activists had earlier staged demonstrations decrying the dam as ecologically irresponsible and a threat to the livelihood of 12,000 families, most of them Brazilian Indians living on the banks of the Xingu River that would feed the facility. "We, the indigenous, demand justice and respect," read one placard brandished by protesters in front of the National Electric Energy Agency in Brasilia, where the tender process was held.

About 500 activists with Greenpeace dumped three tonnes of manure in front of the building. A Greenpeace spokesman said, "There are other possible energy sources, such as wind power, biomass or solar. Opponents of the construction said they would not be defeated by the awarding of the tender. Greenpeace has said the construction would also divert some 100km of the Xlngu River in an area that is home to between 20,000 and 30,000 families.

The dam has become spectacularly controversial with even Avatar director James Cameron and star Sigourney Weaver wading in recently to give their backing to opponents and drawing parallels with the natives-versus-exploiters storyline of their blockbuster Hollywood movie. The regional Justice ministry in the state of Para tried to stall tenders for the $US10 billion-plus ($A10.7 billion) Belo Monte project in a ruling, calling the dam "an affront to environmental laws".

The Government, though, appears determined to push through with the dam, calling it essential to its plan to boost energy production in Brazil nearly threefold over the next two decades. For construction costs of: $A12 billion, Belo Monte is expected to be able to produce 11,000 MWs, which could supply 20 million homes with power.

$20bn emissions compo a waste

Thursday 2214/2010 Page: 9

MORE than $20 billion would be wasted on unwarranted compensation to polluting sectors under the Rudd government's proposed emissions trading scheme, a damning analysis has found.

The analysis by think tank the Grattan Institute - the first to examine the financial reports of major businesses in line for compensation - found only the steel and cement sectors could make a case for taxpayer help. Others that compete overseas, including alumina refining, LNG production and coal mining would be marginally less profitable, but not forced to close.

Aluminium smelting is in another category - it would become unprofitable, but the analysis found the government should let it move offshore. Many overseas aluminium plants run on comparatively environmentally friendly fuel and emit less greenhouse gas than an Australian smelter. Help would go directly to the communities and workers that would feel the brunt of the closure such as Portland in Victoria, and not companies such as Alcoa.

Despite opposition resistance to the emissions scheme in Canberra, the analysis assumes a carbon price is inevitable, reflecting international trends. Grattan Institute chief executive John Daley said fears about big job losses and cost increases were not supported by evidence and led to irrational policy. Mr Daley said emissions trading would have a smaller impact on lives than predicted. It involved less structural adjustment than the end of tariff protection and would increase the cost of living less than the GST.

The trade-exposed sectors examined bring in 8% of the gross domestic product and are responsible for about 30% of emissions. They employ 70,000 people. The analysis found most of these jobs would be viable under a carbon price without compensation. By comparison, 55,000 jobs were lost in the vehicle sector between 1973 and 1995 and 64,000 in textiles, clothing and footwear manufacturing in the two decades to 2005.

The analysis noted that 176,000 jobs 'had been lost in the power sector due to privatisation and competition reforms. About 9000 people are employed in electricity generation - the only part of the sector that would be affected by the scheme. The institute found the free permits cost the taxpayer $65,000 per employee working in trade-exposed sectors. In aluminium smelting, it is $160,000 an employee.

Mr Daley said free permits were an exemption from a tax paid by the rest of the community, he preferred a carbon border tax for imports in the few sectors under threat to bring their carbon price into line with the national figure. The analysis said giving free carbon permits would delay reform. Given as proposed, no polluting, internationally trading facility would close. It assumes a target of cutting emissions 5% below 2000 levels by 2020. A more ambitious target in the government's 5-to-25% range would require more countries to take on a carbon price, making the impact on trade-exposed sectors less of a concern.