Tuesday 26 October 2010

Stimulus 'failing' energy projects

Thursday 21/10/2010 Page: 4

THE NSW sugar industry is demanding that the federal government's revamped renewable energy scheme be further amended to salvage jobs on a $220 million renewable energy project.

The New South Wales Sugar Milling Co-operative has set up two cogeneration plants at Condong and Broadwater, in the state's north, that are fuelled by a biomass material left over from crushed sugarcane stalks. But the project is struggling financially because of the low price of Renewable Energy Certificates designed to stimulate green projects, according to the co-operative's chief executive, Chris Connors.

The certificates were trading yesterday at $36.13 on the spot market, far below the $60-$70 price Mr Connors said was needed for his projects to stay viable. In February, the government announced its renewable energy target scheme would be split into two to stop household-level renewable technologies crowding out commercial-scale projects such as co-generation plants. But this split does not take effect until January 1.

Until then, RECs created from technologies such as household solar panels can be "banked" to be traded in the commercial-scale scheme next year. Mr Connors maintains the government's fix has not worked yet as there is still a surplus of RECs related to household solar panels pushing prices down. He wants changes such as bringing forward increases to the fixed yearly target for big-scale renewables production. Jobs are at stake, he said.

The manager of the Broadwater sugar mill, Bill Walker, said having viable co-generation projects was important to the organisation. But Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said the plan to split the scheme would deliver $16 billion in investment in large-scale projects by 2020. Clean Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren cautioned against making further changes to the government's scheme, arguing this could spook investors and saying short-term assistance was needed instead for projects that could prove viable at a later point.

Cancer scare rocks Qld gas projects

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Wednesday 20/10/2010 Page: 1

The detection of cancer causing chemical BTEX in water at Origin Energy's project near Miles in Queensland has caused concern in the coal seam gas sector. The site affected is owned by Australia Pacific LNG, a joint venture involving Origin Energy and ConocoPhillips.

The discovery of the chemical, which the Queensland government has taken steps to ban, coincides with a pending decision from Environment Minister Tony Burke over coal seam gas-fed liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects proposed by Santos and BG Group. Santos are also currently involved in negotiating the sale of a stake in its Gladstone LNG project to Korea Gas Corporation which was previously curtailed because of the planned resources super profits tax.

Major companies including Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Petronas and ConocoPhillips have been attracted to coal seam gas schemes investing approximately $20 billion in Queensland-based projects. Earlier this year Cougar Energy's Kingaroy underground coal gasification project was closed immediately by the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management after BTEX was discovered.

Kate Jones, Queensland Minister for Sustainability and Climate Change, said Origin Energy had briefed her on circumstances at the site. The Western Downs Regional Council Alliance has previously stated their concerns over the long-term effect of the coal seam gas industry on water quality and has maintained a campaign criticising the sector.

Projects, Gas

Sydney Morning Herald
Tuesday 19/10/2010 Page: 6

AUSTRALIA'S largest companies may rank third worldwide in terms of board and executive engagement with climate change, but they lag their global peers when it comes to setting emissions reduction targets, a report has found. A "great deal of activity, but little progress" was the verdict of the Carbon Disclosure Project's 2010 report yesterday. 94% of Australia's 100 largest companies had board or executive level responsibility for climate change, but only 47% had established emissions reduction targets.

This compared with 81% of Europe's 300 largest companies and 70% of the world's 500 largest companies all having established reduction targets. The Investor Group on Climate Change said the smaller percentage in Australia reflected the lack of policy certainty. "We believe this is directly influenced by uncertainty around climate change policy settings in Australia", the group's chief executive, Nathan Fabian, said.

In its 10th year, the Carbon Disclosure Project conducts a global climate change survey on behalf of 534 institutional investors with more than $64 trillion in assets under management. The project's new chief executive, Paul Simpson, called for Australia to take the lead on climate change.

"Clearly Australia needs to enact some kind of emissions reduction legislation and set a carbon price", he said. "It's often quoted that Australia has the highest emissions per capita. The world is looking for leadership; there is an absence of that and Australia has an opportunity to step up and do that".

Mr Simpson said there was a gulf between businesses leading on climate change and those taking a "wait and see approach". He said 19% of the world's 500 largest companies did not respond to the project. A senior analyst at AMP Capital Investors, Ian Woods, was critical of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act, saying investors were more interested in companies' equity exposure to greenhouse gas emissions than what their operational controls were like.

The manager of climate change and sustainability at Santos, Susie Smith, said large companies were increasingly burdened by a myriad of carbon disclosure requirements, both regulatory and voluntary. "Survey fatigue is real", she said.