Saturday 29 January 2011

WA well placed to 'grow' new fuel supplies

West Australian
26 January 2011, Page: 19

Biofuels have an important place in the mix of renewable and sustainable energy sources for the 21st century. Although other renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydro can be used to produce electricity, biofuels are essential for the production of the liquid fuels necessary for road transport, shipping, heavy mining machinery and aviation. Biofuels are basically the result of photosynthesis which captures the energy from sunlight and converts it to organic molecules rich in energy.

The oils from oil seed plants such as canola and oil palms are already being converted to biodiesel, and sugar and starches from sugar cane, corn and wheat are being fermented to produce ethanol, which is blended with petrol for motor vehicles. The cellulose from plants such as eucalypts, wheat straw and forestry waste also can be processed to make ethanol. The use of biofuels also results in much lower net carbon emissions compared with fossil fuels. There has been some debate on whether biofuels will compete with food crops or will lead to the destruction of rainforests to create palm oil plantations.

However, many new biofuel crops are being developed on marginal land unsuited for normal food crops. For example, mallee in WA can be grown between crops where it not only serves as wind breaks but also produces biomass for biofuel production. Other new eucalyptus varieties are being developed with superior properties for conversion to biofuel, especially bioethanol.

Among the most exciting future fuel crops are algae. Some species of these microscopic plants can contain up to 50% of oil suitable for conversion to biodiesel and aviation fuel. They can be grown using saline water, thus not competing for the very limited supply of fresh water and they require only about 10 to 20% of the land area compared with the best biofuel crops, to produce the same amount of fuel.

WA is uniquely placed to become a future biofuels hub. We have abundant sunshine, a key requirement for high productivity large areas of marginal land and, for algae production, abundant sources of saline water such as saline groundwater and sea water. The challenge to WA and to Australia will be to capitalise on the unique advantages for the production of biofuel crops which have the potential to replace a significant proportion of our liquid fuel imports.

Michael Borowitzka is a professor at Murdoch University's School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology.

Sandia sizes up wind turbine blade design
24 January 2011

Armed with HyperSizer optimization software and FEA, Sandia pursues innovations in large wind turbine blade design, aiming for a balance between low weight and structural integrity.

By many accounts, wind power, a relative veteran among alternative energy sources, is well-positioned for a perfect storm around growth: The political climate is favorable, a downtrodden economy is hungry for economical and efficient fossil fuel alternatives and more than 30 years of research and development has been poured into wind power innovations. Yet one of the remaining barriers to widespread adoption of wind power is honing that right mix of functionality for a wind turbine blade design that is large enough to support higher performance while retaimng a form factor that is economical, reliable and can be produced on a grander scale.

Sandia National Laboratories, and in particular, the Wind Energy Technologies Dept., finds itself at the epicenter of that design challenge. The group partners with universities and industry to conduct applied research in the area of wind turbines and blades to increase the viability of wind technology. Researchers at the lab are working on advancing knowledge around the areas of materials, structural dynamics, active-flow aerodynamic control and sensors along with pursuing innovations in the manufacturing processes and embedded controls associated with wind blade design.

"We're about developing innovation that's five years, maybe 10 years out", says Tom Ashwill, P.E., distinguished member of technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories' Wind Energy Technologies Dept. "The industry is risk-averse to innovation - they can only look two to three years out. We look to take risk off the table for them and try things we don't know will work". The Sandia lab makes the results of its innovation efforts available to industry via reports, partnerships and through regular conferences and workshops.

Large-Scale Blade Design
One of the department's primary areas of focus is innovation related to increasing the size of wind turbine blades. In the early 1980s, wind turbines averaged 100 kW, but the current average capacity is around 2MW - a factor of 15 to 20 times more performance than what existed 25 years ago, Ashwill explains. As demand for performance increases, so does blade size, since blade length has a direct correlation to the increased power generating capacity of a turbine. As far as economics go, the thinking is that fewer, higher-capacity wind turbines are more efficient and cost-effective than creating the infrastructure to support many smaller turbines, Ashwill says.

Current utility-scale turbines are equipped with blades that range from 40m (130 ft) to 90m (300 ft) in diameter. Sandia has a research project underway to advance that capacity to a 100m blade, which in a traditional three-bladed turbine design, would encompass a footprint in the order of two-and-a-half football fields in size. This massive blade design, aimed at turbines that would reside 15 miles offshore, creates significant design challenges around weight, structural integrity and manufacturability.

"As they get larger, the weight of these blades becomes an issue", says Craig Collier, president of Collier Research Corp., the maker of software used to optimize composite materials and structural sizing that came out of work done at NASA Langley Research Center and now employed as part of Sandia's research. "As they get larger, the question is: Can they withstand their own weight without breaking? It's a big issue for the design of new blades". In addition to structural strength, design engineering issues associated with the larger blades encompass things like fatigue performance, buckling stability, blade stiffness, twist limits and wing-tip deflection.

HyperSizer's legacy in aerospace has helped entities like NASA and companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Bombardier, trim at least 20% off the weight from wing structures. The software works with out-of-the-box FEA solvers in a feedback loop to identify solutions that minimize weight while maximizing structural integrity and manufacturability, Collier says. The software analyzes complex composite structures by evaluating designs in a ply-by-ply and finite element-by-element manner, helping engineers optimize all possible variations on a composite laminate design.

While FEA will give engineers insight into internal unit loads - for instance, how much air load goes into the skin of a blade or into the spar cap - it does not, for example, provide analysis on overstressed materials or if a bonded joint is going to have a failure. That's where HyperSizer comes in, Collier explains. "HyperSizer will not only identify the problem, but will go a step beyond and tell you what to do to fix the problem", he says. "It has built-in intelligence to make those recommendations".

Leveraging HyperSizer's built-in optimization and intelligence capabilities, Sandia plans to refine its baseline design for a 100m blade and optimize parts of the design to reduce weight. The software will be key in exploring how and when to add material variants such as carbon fiber, how to address active or passive load controls, and for experimenting with different air foils as part of the ongoing research effort. Ashwill says he expects industry to release wind turbines based on this blade research about seven to eight years in the future.

"We're just looking to apply innovation to larger blade design as we have in the past for smaller blades", Ashwill says. "HyperSizer will show us how to optimize those designs."

Toyota starts fuel cell vehicle trial
24 January 2011

Toyota's fuel-cell hybrid vehicle, the FCHV-adv, will be placed into a trial programme between Narita International Airport and other destinations starting on January 29. The Toyota FCHV-adv will be used in a car service operating from Narita Airport for the Welcome Home Limousine Taxi Service for passengers returning to Japan on flights from Europe or the US.

Its involvement is part of a request from the Research Association of Hydrogen Supply/Utilisation Technology, which is part of the Hydrogen Highway Project being run by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry within its Demonstration Program for Establishing a Hydrogen-based Social System.

As part of the same project, Toyota has also been supplying an FCHV-BUS fuel-cell hybrid bus that is used on a commercial route between Tokyo International Airport and central Tokyo. Toyota is expected to use data obtained from the car service trials and conduct ongoing research and development while co-operating with the government and energy industry to advance fuel-cell vehicles.

Wind turbine technician programs get nod
24 January 2011

A clean energy economy requires a skilled workforce, and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) would like to help ensure that such a workforce exists. Towards that end, the organization has awarded its first ever Seal of Approval to three college wind turbine service technician training programs in the West.

The three schools now recognized by the AWEA for their top-notch programs are Columbia Gorge Community College's Renewable Energy Technology 9 Month Certificate Program for Wind Turbine Service Technicians (The Dalles, Oregon), Iowa Lakes Community College's Associates of Applied Science in Wind Energy & Turbine Technology program (Estherville, Iowa), and Texas State Technical College's Associates of Applied Science in Wind Energy & Turbine Technology program (Sweetwater, Texas).

The AWEA Seal of Approval program called for applications last year and took a critical look at whether educational and training institutions with technician programs are teaching the skills that an entry-level service technician needs, as identified by experts among AWEA's 2,500 company members.

AWEA sees its Seal of Approval Program as a quality assurance mechanism that will help strong programs stand out and fortify the industry as a whole with a pool of qualified technicians fully prepared to enter the wind power work force.

Friday 28 January 2011

Green grows the oil rich Gulf

Weekend Australian
22 January 2011, Page: 2

United Arab Emirates is pointing the way to a future of cleaner technology

FROM the rooftop of Abu Dhabi's convention centre hotel, the night sky is floodlit in all directions so there can be no let-up in the frenetic construction that is transforming this desert city into a showcase of human ability to change the world.

There's a glass tower that leans precariously, plans for a replica Louvre, Ferrari World and a Palace Hotel that really is a marble palace complete with a gold vending machine in the lobby. None of it seems out of place in a city carpeted with eight-lane highways on which every second car is a V12 Mercedes-Benz, four-door Porsche or fortified Range Rover. It's difficult to fathom then that Abu Dhabi considers itself ground zero for negotiations to cement a low carbon emissions future for the world.

This week Abu Dhabi hosted its third annual World Future Energy Summit to honour the environmental vision of the founding father of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan. It was a post-Cancun summit for the moneyed, attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon and his climate change attache Rajendra Pachauri.

US President Barack Obama sent his regards, as did his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former British prime minister Tony Blair. European and Asian heads of state and royalty turned up to offer their support, including the presidents of Iceland and Pakistan, prime ministers of Portugal and Georgia, and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.

As technology companies in the alternative energy business showed their wares, there was everything from electric and compressed air motorcycles and battery operated cars to waste water filtration plants, new generation solar panels, giant offshore wind turbines and smaller nuclear power plants.

There was a big push for solar air-conditioning units that convert hot water to cold air. But the buzzword on everyone's lips was smart grid. This is the means through which electricity producers and sellers hope to be able to turn the dynamics of the electricity business on its head. Instead of electricity generators having to meet the fickle demands of users and build a system that can cope with peak demand, power users will be forced to meet the more erratic electricity supply characteristics of a grid made up of less predictable energy sources such as wind and solar.

Smart grids contain communication systems to allow electricity suppliers to load-shed (turn off) individual appliances such as air conditioners during peak demand or charge more to customers who want to keep the kettle boiling in times of scarce supply. Electricity demand management including even the public shaming of people who use more electricity than their neighbours underlies the model city that Abu Dhabi's state-owned energy company, Masdar, is building to pioneer alternative energy.

Abu Dhabi may be awash with oil and gas but it is willing to sponsor the creation of a post-oil world in the name of energy security and climate change. The Masdar Institute, a university and research facility linked to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is up and running and has entered industry-backed research projects with some of the world's big technology companies.

Agreements to date include research into breakthrough technologies in carbon capture, sequestration and the development of biofuel for the aviation industry from local salt-tolerant non-food vegetation. In contrast to motor vehicles, no one is expecting the development of a battery powered passenger aircraft soon.

Not constrained by elections or public opinion, the UAE has ordered four nuclear power plants, which it expects to be commissioned by 2020. Abu Dhabi's international nuclear co-operation ambassador Hamad al-Kaabi says nuclear has been chosen because it provides independence, energy security and an answer to global warming and environmental concerns.

Kaabi says the UAE's energy demand is growing at 9% a year and the country is a net importer of natural gas. Oil is expensive and a polluting form of power generation, he says. Coal is more polluting and renewable energies such as wind and solar can only meet 6% to 7% of peak demand, he says. But this has not stopped Abu Dhabi pioneering commercial scale solar power from both photovoltaic and concentrated solar sources. Kaabi says nuclear and renewable enterprises are "urgently needed as partners".

The Masdar Institute site has a 10MW solar array that in maintenance terms is the equivalent of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. A team of cleaners wipes the desert sand from the solar panels to keep them working. It takes two weeks to clean them all, and as soon as they are finished it is time to start again. The Masdar city site also has a concentrated solar plant that has so far demonstrated that because of dust particles, Abu Dhabi sunlight is less than ideal for concentrating solar heat.

Undaunted, Abu Dhabi has committed to developing the Shams One 100MW concentrated solar plant in the western region, which is claimed to be the world's largest of its type. To cover all bases, the winner of this year's Zayed Future Energy Prize was given to wind turbine maker Vestas, even though Abu Dhabi has little wind to harness.

Masdar chief executive Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber says research is urgent for all forms of energy including clean fossil fuels, peaceful nuclear power and renewables such as wind and solar. And rather than pick a winner, Jaber says it is better for the different energy forms to slug it out. "To ensure the emergence of the most commercially viable, scalable and efficient technology, we must create competition", he says. "Competition drives innovation".

Masdar City itself has been a case study in technological innovation that has not always borne fruit. Development of the city is now being co-ordinated by Australian businessman Alan Frost, who has worked previously for Babcock and Brown and Lend Lease. Frost insists the project isn't just a real estate development but is linked to Abu Dhabi's 2030 vision to develop a post-oil economy.

"The idea of this is to create a clean tech cluster, the regional Silicon Valley of renewable energy", he says. Frost says Silicon Valley started as Stanford University business park in the 1940s and 50s and built its success in several decades. "I don't think anyone is thinking Masdar City is going to be instant", he says. "The key is the government support and the fact the government really does want to diversify away from being a carbon-based economy and has set a target for 7% renewable energy by 2020".

When it was launched three years ago, the plan was to build the city in five to seven years, but that timetable has now been pushed out by nine years. In addition, a revolutionary concept to build the entire city on a podium 7.5m off the ground has been scrapped. So too has the concept of having a network of several thousand driverless electric cars, or PRTs, to shuttle people around the city.

Only the institute and Masdar headquarters building will now be constructed on a podium to give the site some elevation. A handful of PRTs will be restricted to an 800m shuttle route that replaces a 250m walk. The ambitious plan to elevate the entire city was considered wasteful in the wake of the global financial crisis.

The delay in construction was also seen as a sensible way of avoiding being locked into to one generation of technology. "When we looked at building everything in five years, it was obviously the wrong approach", Frost says. "If it is all about innovation and learning and incorporating what you have learned in one phase to the next, then building it all to one specification on one day doesn't make a lot of sense".

Buildings have been designed to shade each other during the day and the walls of the institute are a combination of louvres and plastic compartments filled with ergon gas to cut down on radiated heat in order to lower the temperature of the entire site. A cooling tower in the centre of the square between the resource centre, laboratories and residential apartments has a display system that shows how much electricity is being used relative to what is being produced from rooftop solar panels.

The individual energy use of students will be monitored and they will be encouraged to compete to lower demand. The city will be pedestrian friendly rather than car-free, and without the driverless cars city planners are looking how best to integrate the public transport systems with a light rail and a network of electric taxis.

Despite the flat terrain, no one seems daring enough to suggest the bicycle. "Four years ago the thinking was Masdar was an island and could do everything on its own. What we have come to realise is everything we put in the ground has to join up with what is outside", Frost says. "We have learned we can't be an island". It is the same thinking that is driving Abu Dhabi's push to help pioneer new low-carbon technologies that can be exported to developing countries.

Approval brings sunny outlook to pioneer solar farm

Canberra Times
22 January 2011, Page: 3

The NSW Government has given planning approval for the construction of a $150 million solar farm 6km north-east of Bungendore. The approval, announced yesterday, paves the way for Capital Solar Farm - a joint venture between Infigen Energy and Suntech Power Holdings - to potentially become the first operational solar farm in NSW.

However, construction of the solar farm remains contingent on Infigen Energy and Suntech Power receiving project funding from the Commonwealth and NSW governments. Infigen Energy already operates the 67-turbine Capital Wind Farm, also north-east of Bungendore, and is awaiting planning approval for a $180 million wind farm expansion into an adjacent site, potentially erecting a further 55 turbines.

The Capital Solar Farm project would involve the construction of up to 32 blocks of solar panels. Member for Monaro Steve Whan said yesterday the project was expected to create dozens of jobs. The NSW Department of Planning imposed 56 conditions on the project, including that Infigen Energy provide funding to help Palerang Council upgrade community infrastructure.

Palerang Council Mayor Walter Raynolds welcomed yesterday's developments. Mr Raynolds said the project would provide a "huge boost" during the construction phase. Bungendore Chamber of Commerce and Industry acting president Andrew Riley said he could not see a downside to the solar farm project. "If it's as successful in stimulating local business as when the wind farm was being constructed - and there's no reason to expect it wouldn't be - that's great news", he said.

Infigen Energy said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange that the consortium had one of four shortlisted proposals being assessed for Commonwealth funding under its Solar Flagships Program. It said the development of the Bungendore solar farm and two others contained in its proposal were subject to the consortium's funding bid being successful.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

China's rare earth exports slide, but still exceed quota

21 January 2011, Page: 22

CHINESE statistics showed a 03% slide in the country's rare earth metal exports last year, but also showed that overseas sales were a third higher than stipulated in the government's own quota allocation. China's export of rare earth ore, metals and compounds slipped to 39,813 tonnes last year, according to figures published by the quasi-official China Customs Statistics Information Centre in Hong Kong.

The figures underscored Beijing's tight grip on the specialised metals but also showed how the trade was sustained at levels well above a Commerce Ministry quota that was designed to slash exports by 40% last year to 27,449 tonnes. Pockets of global industry closely monitor China's policy on rare earths because more than 95% of world supply emerges from the nation's mines and processing centres.

The 17 chemically similar elements have unique properties that have paved the way for miniaturised electronics such as the iPhone and specialised magnets used in wind turbines, as well as advances in petroleum refining and glassmaking. Reflecting how fears of tightening supply sent global rare earth prices soaring last year, China's exports of the elements tripled in value, the data shows.

Just the same, even at the higher levels, the overseas market was worth only SUS939.72 million last year, about what China made exporting leather gloves. China's quotas, which have been tightened several years in a row but especially last year, have discomfited governments fearful that Beijing could use industry dominance as a trade weapon.

A US Department of Energy study recently warned of short term supply disruptions for elements such as dysprosium and neodymium needed to make wind turbines and electric cars. The Washington trade group Alliance for American Manufacturing is among those pressing US President Barack Obama to seek supply assurances from Chinese President Hu Jintao in their meetings this week.

But the fears have also sparked a rush of investment into rare earth miners such as Colorado based Molycorp that are seeking to challenge China's dominance. Toyota, a user of rare earths for its Prius vehicles, caused a stir last week when it revealed plans to develop an efficient engine that did not need the elements.

Beijing says its quotas, which are slated to reduce exports 35% for the first half of this year, are part of a strategy to restructure the heavily polluting rare earth industry, to conserve its reserves of about a third of the world total and combat widespread smuggling in the elements.

Traders in China say they have faced long delays in getting product through the country's ports. "China has taken significant steps in recent months to ensure its customs officers are well aware of what the quotas are", said Dudley Kingsnorth, a Perth-based analyst from Industrial Minerals Company. Mr Kingsnorth said he expected China to be tougher in enforcing quotas this year.

He said various factors could explain a mismatch between 2010 exports and the quota levels, including delays in booking sales in customs registries and how the tonnage of rare earth elements was measured by trade officials. Figures from Japan, the largest importer of rare earths, have also suggested China exported more rare earth last year than stipulated by its quotas.

According to the Finance Ministry in Tokyo, Japan imports in some cases soared. Japan's imports of lanthanum oxide, an important ingredient for making hybrid car batteries, more than tripled in the first 11 months of 2010 from the same period the previous year.

India uranium pressure - Australia urged to drop export ban

20 January 2011, Page: 1

INDIA hopes to persuade Australia to lift a ban on uranium sales to the energy-hungry south Asian giant, arguing a switch to nuclear power is needed to lower carbon emissions and tackle climate change.

India's External Affairs Minister, S. M. Krishna in Melbourne for talks with Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd today said that despite India's test of an atomic weapon, the country could be trusted as a responsible nuclear power. "Climate change demands we aim at clean energy", he told The Age last night. "It has been accepted by experts that nuclear power is the cleanest power, and India is committed to pursue its nuclear power expansion".

In a wide-ranging and exclusive interview, Mr Krishna also:

  • Backed the Victorian government and police response to violence against Indian students in the past year, despite a sharp drop in the number of Indians now studying in Australia.
  • Hit out at Pakistan, accusing it of supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan and providing a haven for extremists.
  • Declared India's growing economic, education and tourism ties with Australia were the "springboard" for a more mature and strategic partnership in the future.
  • Said it was still too early to say if India would back Australia's bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council in 2013-14 or whether India's leader, Manmohan Singh, would accept an invitation from Prime Minister Julia Gillard to visit Australia later this year.

Mr Krishna yesterday held talks with Resources Minister Martin Ferguson on uranium sales and said he accepted Australia's ban on uranium was not directed at India. Australia has one of the world's largest yellowcake deposits the fuel for nuclear reactors but refuses to export to countries that are not signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But Labor overturned a Howard-era promise in 2007 for an exception to allow exports to India, a decision that reportedly sparked widespread official anger in India.

But Mr Krishna yesterday insisted the issue had not disturbed bilateral ties. "I think it is necessary that we engage Australia in a continuing dialogue about this question. Here is a situation where you are endowed with enormous deposits of uranium and there is a whole world which is starving for energy especially the developing countries, and more specifically India", he said.

He said India hoped to reach a 10% economic growth rate in the coming year and the resulting explosion of energy needs would be met by moving away from coal-fired power stations. "India, with the best of intentions, we want energy, nuclear power", he said, noting the country had already struck nuclear technology agreements with the US, France, Canada and Argentina.

Mr Krishna said the sharp drop in the number of Indian students in Australia was undoubtedly partly a result of racial violence directed at Indians, which at its height last year become a thorn in ties between the two nations. But he said tighter Australian restrictions on visa entry, a crackdown on dubious education colleges and the stronger Australian dollar were also factors leading to the decline.

While the Australian figures report an 80% drop in the number of Indian students in Australia compared with this time last year, Mr Krishna said it was probably closer to half that number. "I think false promises were made to Indian students by education providers in Australia, and as a result of that the Indian student community got disenchanted", he said. "When such situations are created, it gets reflected back home and the media and the parents of the boys of girls who have come to Australia get worked up".

Mr Krishna was in Afghanistan 10 days ago and said India was under constant threat in the country, with its embassy regularly attacked. Pakistan continued to support the Taliban as its ally and a solution to the conflict could only be found once Pakistan abandoned its patronage of the insurgents. Mr Krishna also dismissed media speculation in India that he may soon be moved from the foreign affairs portfolio in a cabinet reshuffle. "I'll be around, don't worry about it" he said, pointing to travel plans to New York.

Lack of carbon price handicaps projects

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
18 January 2011, Page: 35

Spanish group Acciona Energy, which recently led a consortium to construct the Brisbane Northern Link Tunnel, has dropped out of the running for the Federal Government's $1.5 billion Solar Flagships program, intended to encourage investment in renewal energy. Acciona Energy's Brett Thomas said part of the reason for dropping out was a lack of certainty over carbon pricing.

The departure of Acciona Energy leaves seven other groups in the running to build solar projects, including AGL Energy, a consortium made up of Infigen Energy and Suntech Power, and consortium of Transfield Services and the Transfield Services Infrastructure Fund among others. Acciona Energy, which acquired renewable energy assets from Spain's Endesa in 2009, has previously looked at Australian acquisitions including Pacific Hydro - which was acquired by Industry Funds Management, United Utilities Australia and the Western Australia Emu Downs Wind Farm.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Keeping track of greenhouse emissions

Hobart Mercury
18 January 2011, Page: 28

THIS year, The Climate Group is teaming up with The Mercury to release regular weekly greenhouse gas emissions reports specifically for Tasmania.

Through a weekly graphic in this paper, Tasmanians will be able to keep track of how much greenhouse gas the state is emitting from energy use each and every week. The more competitive among us can also log on to see how were going in comparison with other states by going to

We know that tracking things often helps us get to grips with important issues and challenges. Much like regular monitoring of dam levels has helped many Australians become more aware of how precious water is, and more sparing in how they use it, tracking our greenhouse emissions can help us understand their causes and how we can reduce them.

The weekly greenhouse indicator monitors the emissions produced by our non-renewable sources of energy. Here in Tasmania, that means gas used for heating (domestic, commercial and industrial), electricity generation and cooking, as well as petroleum products such as petrol and diesel. It captures around two-thirds of the state's emissions from energy with no other country in the world receiving such up-to-date information.

So what does the indicator tell us about Tasmania? Overall, the story is positive. As today's graphic shows. Tasmania emitted 59 thousand tonnes of greenhouse gas from energy use last week. Around 69% of that was due to the use of petroleum-related products - essentially petrol and diesel. The remaining 31% came from natural gas use.

Compared with other states, both in Australia and around the world, these emissions are low. Per person, this is less than a third of Victoria's emissions. Tasmania is also the only state in Australia to have its weekly emissions from energy regularly come in lower than they were in 1990. The major reason for this is the large proportion of Tasmania's electricity that is generated by renewable sources - this week around 85%.

It is worth being aware that emissions from energy in Tasmania have risen in recent years. While this week's greenhouse indicator is similar to 1990 levels, it is 26% above 2000 levels. So Tasmania can and should look for opportunities to further reduce emissions through measures such as energy efficiency in homes and work places, which will reduce energy use as well as bills.

In many ways, the Tasmanian indicator is a snapshot of what is possible in other states around Australia. It demonstrates that role that renewables can play in providing our energy, and the impact that can have on emissions levels.

Rupert Posner, director, The Climate Group Australia

Joint venture in algae biofuels

Adelaide Advertiser
18 January 2011, Page: 31

PRODUCTION of clean and "green" fuels from algae is the focus of a new joint venture between the University of Adelaide, SA-based company SQC and Murdoch University. SQC, a technology development firm, has partnered with the universities to enable them to produce commercial quantities of biofuels from algae. University of Adelaide senior lecturer at the school of chemical engineering David Lewis and Murdoch University professor of marine phycology Michael Borowitzka are world leaders in the development of biofuels from micro-algae.

The work of Dr Lewis and Professor Borowitzka led to the establishment of a $3 3 million algae pilot plant in Karratha, Western Australia. "Our research team has proven that it is possible to grow large quantities of algae for commercial biofuel purposes", said Professor Borowitzka. "The establishment of Muradel is the next major step in Australia becoming a world leader in biofuel production".

Dr Lewis said SQC had contributed $1 million to the algal biofuels venture, despite the fact it was a "high-risk investment". "They were willing to invest because we developed credible data that could be substantiated and supported", he said. "They studied the business (and) felt confident to link with us". Murdoch University specialised in commercial production of algae and algal products, while the UoA contributed engineering expertise in algal processing. SQC's mission was to develop commercial processing of micro-algae biomass into renewable hydrocarbon products.