Saturday 26 February 2011

Green savings

21 February 2011, Page: 12

THE article "Climate cash up in smoke" (The Age, 15/2), showing the high cost of government greenhouse abatement programs, presented a picture of waste and expense. Unfortunately, it focused on the direct costs to government, and ignored benefits such as savings on energy costs.

The government's major industry energy efficiency program has been authoritatively costed at less than minus $100 a tonne of CO₂ avoided, while the appliance efficiency program has been costed at under minus $20. This means the community actually makes money: businesses are saving a lot of money on their energy bills. The amount of money saved far exceeds the cost of running the program and the businesses making the required investment.

Some programs reviewed are expensive but are seen as having other worthwhile objectives., , The renewable energy target aims to build a renewable energy industry. Its cost should be compared with subsidies to the car industry, not just the cost of reducing emissions.

Alan Pears, RMIT University

Energy prices set to climb

21 February 2011, Page: 8

ELECTRICITY and gas prices are set to soar with or without a carbon price a study has found. The Australian Industry Group says by 2015 electricity will be more than double its 2008 price and that eastern states' gas prices will eventually climb to international levels after an initial drop. "One of the factors keeping Australian gas prices relatively low has been our isolation from world gas markets", the report says.

"However once the infrastructure is in place to liquefy gas for export, domestic wholesale prices will increasingly converge with global prices as has already happened in Western Australia". The report said there would be a large supply of gas on the domestic market while four large LNG export projects were being built in Queensland. "Thus while in the medium term LNG exports will raise domestic gas prices, in the short term prices may be depressed substantially".

The report finds coal fired power will become more expensive whether or not Australia gets a carbon price as international prices for Australian coal climb. Paradoxically, weak international climate change policies could push Australian coal prices still higher. An "investment drought" has made new investment in generators urgent, but without clarity about when or how Australia will get a carbon price, investors are likely to err on the short run, more expensive and less carbon efficient solutions.

In what it says is a "sobering" finding, the study reports that two thirds of Australian Industry Group (AI Group) members surveyed have made no improvements in their energy efficiency over the past five years. A further 7% have gone backwards. More than half expect to make no improvement in the two years ahead, a finding the group says suggests energy efficiency "is not currently a high priority". "This is a worrying result", said AI Group chief executive Heather Ridout.

Power plant plan stalls over design
February 21, 2011

A PROPOSAL for a new coal fuelled power plant for the Latrobe Valley has stalled as the company behind the plan fails to answer Environment Protection Authority questions about its design. Melbourne coal technology company HRL last year submitted, withdrew and re submitted an application to build a plant at Morwell using new gasification technology said to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal fired electricity.

In early December the EPA asked for more information about the $750 million proposal's gasification technology, emissions and noise levels. A final response was expected in January but had not been received by Friday. EPA chief executive John Merritt told The Age the authority was doing everything it could to make the right decision. ''We know this is a contentious decision,'' he said. ''We have progressively been seeking information to help us [decide] and some of that is still outstanding.''

The proposal for the 600 MW demonstration plant sparked a debate over whether technology with emissions lower than brown coal but roughly equivalent to a modern black coal plant should be developed, given the state's target of a 20% emissions cut by 2020. The EPA received more than 4000 submissions on the proposal, most of them opposed to it.

If the plant is approved, green groups plan a legal challenge to test the EPA's interpretation of the emissions limit for new power plants 0.8 tonnes of CO₂ per MW of electricity generated introduced by the former Labor government. The challenge would also test whether the proposal qualifies as best practice.

Environment Victoria campaigns director Mark Wakeham said consideration of whether the project was best practice should compare it with all baseload power options, not just coal. ''The EPA is consistently talking about how it wants to be a regulator with muscle,'' he said. ''Here is an opportunity to demonstrate that it will only consider genuine best practice proposals.'' HRL spokeswoman Maria Brejcha said the company was going through the usual EPA process and directed questions about the application to the authority.

Announced in 2006, the HRL project won $100 million in federal funding and $50 million in state funding based on a 2009 start date. After several delays, it appeared to gain momentum in September with the announcement it had signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract with a Chinese company. Energy Minister Michael O'Brien said the government would maintain Labor's support of the HRL project. He said it was committed to backing ''clean coal'' technologies as a way to help the environment and support jobs in the Latrobe Valley.

Sunny Coast warms to solar farm plan

Courier Mail
18 February 2011, Page: 16

THE Sunshine Coast has been earmarked for Queensland's biggest solar farm and a bright future as a green energy producer. A development application has been lodged for a 50,000 panel solar park on former caneland at Valdora. The local firm behind the bid, Energy Parks Australia, is planning a roll out of similar facilities across the region that eventually will help cut electricity bills.

Energy Parks Australia director Jason Hague said the $40 million Valdora park would feed enough power into the grid for 2500 homes. Mr Hague, also a town planner, said the clean energy could be sold to energy providers, or retailed to individual businesses or residents. He said three or four large solar farms being established by other companies were being developed in New South Wales, while another was under construction in Western Australia. "This is the future. We are planning several more on the Sunshine Coast and believe the model could be used in other regional areas such as Ipswich, Hervey Bay and Gympie", he said.

Mr Hague said projections showed that in three or four years, green power would be the same price as "black power". From that point on, however, it would plateau while power from burning coal continued to soar. "If we want to change the way we operate and live up to the vision of being Australia's most sustainable region, we need to embrace the technology available and do so on a scale that has real impact", he said. The solar panels at Valdora will span 20ha of caneland with the surrounding 30ha rehabilitated as green space.

Sunshine Coast Council's manager of planning assessment, Michael Bismire, said the council had met with Energy Parks Australia to discuss the project and help ensure its submission was of a high quality. In another green investment coup, the State Government yesterday revealed it had attracted a leading solar manufacturing company to build a cutting edge facility on the Gold Coast.

Treasurer and Minister for Employment and Economic Development Andrew Fraser said that with the support of the Queensland Investment Incentive Scheme, Eco Kinetics would build a new plant to assemble photovoltaic modules and manufactured mounting kits at Stapylton. He said the facility, possibly the first of its kind in Australia, was set to create hundreds of jobs.

Solar and wind power crucial for climate future

Canberra Times
18 February 2011, Page: 19

A carbon price alone can't solve all the big energy needs, Mike Sandiford writes

Today at Parliament House, the Gillard Government's Multi Party Climate Change Committee will meet to continue its work developing a national carbon pricing policy. Given that Australia's carbon emissions are heading in the wrong direction, these efforts are of increased importance. Recently released analysis from the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency estimates that in 2020, our economy will emit 24% more carbon than in 2000.

Australia needs a coherent climate and energy policy to arrest its ballooning carbon emissions. It was encouraging to see the Gillard Government quickly assemble the Multi Party Climate Change Committee. Achieving a price on carbon is an important tool in the policy toolbox and should be implemented. But a carbon price alone can't solve the enormous challenge of decarbonising Australia.

Geology provides awesome testament to the scale of the globe's climate and energy challenges. Plate tectonics, the process that pushes continents around over geological timescales making mountains and earthquakes, releases a vast amount of energy 44 trillion Watts is the best estimate. While that figure is vast, it is only a few times the 16 trillion Watts humans use to power civilisation. With human energy use doubling every 34 years, our power consumption is on course to overtake the earth's by about 2060.

To decarbonise, Australia must shift from fossil fuel energy sources, such as coal, gas and oil, and move towards renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. With this in mind, the speed at which our energy system is transformed might be considered the key metric for assessing the effectiveness of national climate change and energy policies.

There is, in fact, no shortage of potential renewable energy sources. Effectively converting about 0.06% of the solar power that hits the global land surface would meet the entire global energy demand. Australia's geography and arid climate mean we would need to capture only a tenth of that. Wind is in shorter supply, but the land based resource still exceeds global energy demand by a factor of almost 10.

The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan, jointly published by the Melbourne Energy Institute and climate solutions think tank Beyond Zero Emissions, demonstrates the technical feasibility of powering Australia with 100% renewable energy. This study shows how off the shelf technologies could deliver a national renewable energy system, and that such a system could be built on a time scale of as little as 10 years. Newly appointed Climate Change Commissioner Tim Flannery said the work was "an ambitious, technically feasible plan that should be looked at seriously".

Concentrating solar thermal power with molten salt storage forms the backbone of this renewable energy system. Baseload electricity producing solar towers and wind farms would be built throughout Australia, using our nation's vast renewable resources to power homes and businesses. Geographically dispersed production spreading out renewable energy farms so as not to rely on weather conditions in one area can improve energy stability and security. And our nation continent, stretching across climate and time zones, appears ready made for such a system.

Currently, advanced solar thermal power with storage capable of providing a smooth supply over day and night is about four times more expensive than the cheapest coal fired power. But the cost for new technologies always reduces as the scale increases. A 2003 report by United States based power company Sargent & Lundy anticipated that solar costs would achieve parity with fossil fuels, assuming modest incentives to stimulate market expansion.

A price on carbon will narrow the price gap between fossil fuels and renewables, but any likely carbon price will not yet make large scale solar competitive. In the interim, additional incentives will be needed to achieve anticipated cost curve reductions (such as feed in tariffs). It is not clear that Prime Minister Julia Gillard is open to these measures given her latest policy shifts on green technology investments.

Australia has the potential to be the hub of a renewable energy export industry powering the homes, industry and electric car fleets of our region. Technologies already exist to move electricity thousands of kilometres over high voltage, direct current grids. An integrated southern Asian renewable energy system could secure an Australian energy export industry for centuries to come, much longer than the decades left in our export coal reserves. And then there are the potential benefits of exporting clean tech components and intellectual property.

With burgeoning electricity demand across southern Asia, there is growing interest from our neighbours in the renewable energy potential of our deserts. The Zero Carbon Australia plan provides a big vision for Australia as a renewable energy superpower. But a big vision is precisely what is needed. I hope today's discussions on climate policy start the conversation about how to make this vision a reality.

Professor Sandiford is director of the University of Melbourne's Energy Research Institute.

Thursday 24 February 2011

Ceres commences wall hung fuel cell boiler trial
19th February 2011

fuel-cell manufacturer, Ceres Power Holdings plc has commenced commercial field trials of its wall‐mounted Combined Heat and Power (CHP) boiler in occupied homes.

Following receipt of European type approval, an operating fuel-cell CHP product generating heat and power has now been installed in the family home of a British Gas customer in South East England. The field trials programme will continue throughout 2011 and into 2012 with Ceres Power' CHP products being deployed in a wide range of homes across the UK. In addition, there is an extensive on‐going testing programme of CHP products and components at the Ceres Power' test facilities.

The first wave of CHP products is being installed in consumers' homes during the first quarter of 2011, with the second wave of products incorporating valuable in‐field experience to follow six months later. The final wave of at least 150 field trial CHP products will take place in 2012 to test the Company's ability to scale‐up for initial product sales and volume launch with British Gas.

The Ceres Power fuel-cell CHP product operates on mains natural gas and can generate all of the heating and hot water and the majority of the electricity needs of a typical UK home. The CHP boilers for the field trials are being manufactured using volume‐capable processes, with the fuel-cells at the heart of the product being produced at the Ceres Power factory in Horsham, whilst CHP boiler assembly is taking place in Holland.

Peter Bance, Chief Executive Officer of Ceres Power, says "We have made enormous progress in the development of our product over the past few months and the start of commercial field trials is a major milestone in Ceres Power's development. I am delighted that our unique wall‐ mounted fuel-cell CHP product is now being installed in consumers' homes and look forward to selling the product in conjunction with British Gas."

The field trials are being conducted in partnership with British Gas. Under the contract with Ceres Power, British Gas is paying £5 million to the Company in staged milestone payments and has also placed a forward order to purchase in aggregate a minimum of 37,500 CHP products on an escalating basis. Ceres Power will give an update on its British Gas residential CHP programme at the Company's Interim Results to be presented next month.

Salpointe unveils 23.5-kilowatt solar power array
February 19, 2011

Salpointe Catholic High School flipped the switch Friday on the largest solar power array of any local high school. The 23.5 kW system comprises 150 photovoltaic panels mounted atop Salpointe's Alumni Hall, 1545 E. Copper St., and on the roof of the Corcoran Theater. The photovoltaic system, valued at $118,344, was donated by Solar Ventures LLC and installed by Tucson's Industrial Solar LLC. The system is the largest school based system connected to the electrical grid of Tucson Electric Power Co., TEP said.

Instead of flat solar panels, the Salpointe system uses a tubular design made by California based Solyndra Inc. The thin film photovoltaic cells are mounted inside long glass tubes to gather both direct and reflected sunlight, said Philip Lacovara, co owner of Industrial Solar and Solar Ventures.

The tubes lie flat on the roof, so they are unseen from the ground and don't compromise the aesthetics of the school's 1950s architecture, said Lacovara, who also is president of Salpointe's board of directors. The system is expected to meet about 2% of Salpointe's energy needs, saving the school about $170,000 over 30 years.

Wind energy resources potential at 350,000 MW
22 February 2011

Islamabad Pakistan can generate over 350,000 MW electricity through only wind power against the country's total demand of about 21,000 MW peak summer, necessitating solid steps to explore the potential.

Official sources in Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) told APP that the country has numerous resources to get energy and over 50,000 MW energy could be generated only in Gharo Keti Bandar corridor where average wind speed is more than seven meter per second. They said the corridor has potential twice of India and other sites in Balochistan, Punjab, and Northern Area which are being identified for power generation.

The sources said Pakistan has amongst the world highest and fastest rising urbanization and electricity is available to only 57% of the population while natural gas to 21%. Only 45% of rural population have access to grid electricity and there is extreme shortage of electricity and gas leading to load shedding.

The country's economic growth is also suffering due to load shedding of gas and power, leading to closures of industries, they added. They said the total installed and dependable capacity of the country's power sector is 20,231 MW. Giving breakup, they said 11,735 MW could be get from public sector while 8,496 MW from private sector. "By switching to alternative energy means, we can reduce dependence on imported oil, running into billions dollars and undermining economic development", they observed.

It is pertinent to mention that USA has wind power installed capacity of 25,170 MW, Japan 1,880 MW, India 9,645 MW, Greece 985 MW, Egypt 365 MW, Iran 85 and Pakistan 6 MW. The government had set up AEDB in 2003 for implementing policies programmes and projects through private sector in the field of alternative energy. APP

Wednesday 23 February 2011

New wind farm another Waterloo

Adelaide Advertiser
18 February 2011, Page: 7

Black Springs resident Kerry Heinrich is happy to have wind turbines in her backyard. At yesterday's launch of the Waterloo Wind Farm 30km from Clare. Ms Heinrich said the 37 wind turbines created only "background noise". "I think they are quite stunning", she said. "They are just part of the landscape now".

Wind farm developer Roaring 40s said the project would generate up to 111 MWs of power, enough to power 46,000 homes. About 10 protesters gathered at the entrance to the wind farm and held signs with messages such as "turbines kill rural communities" and "more research needed". Residents had raised concerns including turbine noise and health issues such as sleep deprivation.

In Waterloo for the launch, Premier Mike Rann said international studies had found no negative health impacts from wind farms. "If people are going to say that clean, green energy is wrong what are we going to do, go back to coal power?" he said.

Roaring 40s managing director Steve Symons said the company had worked with the community and the vast majority of it was in support. More wind farms were planned for nearby Stony Gap and Robertstown.

Tariff reprisals a possibility

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
17 February 2011, Page: 8

Federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet today warned that inaction with respect to carbon pricing could lead to other countries implementing protective tariffs to level the playing field. Meanwhile, Rob Oakeshott, who is on the government's Multi Party Climate Change Committee, said he wanted small business compensation and recognition of land management practices as a prerequisite for his support on any carbon pricing or trading policy.

At the Australian Workers Union conference, Combet said the economic costs of inaction would be severe. Paul Howes, AWU national secretary, said that Australia's relatively clean aluminium industry needed to be even more environmentally responsible. The federal Greens party demands a national feed in tariff, a government renewable energy loan scheme and a 'white certificate' scheme. Rob Oakeshott will convene a consultation group regarding land use practises and ways in which they could be rewarded in environmental schemes.

Wind power vehicle blows in after 5000km Aussie trip

Hobart Mercury
15 February 2011, Page: 12

MEET the men who make greenies in hybrid cars look like blowins.

Germans Stefan Simmerer and Dirk Gion arrived in Sydney after travelling more than 5000km from Perth in their "windmobile'. Driving through Sydney yesterday the pair who describe themselves as science journalists, inventors and extreme sports fanatics turned heads with their unconventional vehicle. The Wind Explorer is the world's first self sufficient wind powered vehicle. It weighs 200kg and can travel at more than 90km/h.

By powering state of the art lithium-ion battery technology charged at night by a wind turbine and kites to harness extra wind, the car is so energy efficient it can cover 100km using just half the electricity needed to power a washing machine. The two men are the first to cross a continent in a vehicle powered by wind power. Mr Gion said Australia was the perfect continent as it was both a challenge and provided the conditions they needed to succeed.

The large sections of open road meant the two drivers were free to put their car to the test, using a handheld kite to propel the car to the highest possible speeds. That is why they enjoyed crossing the Nullarbor Desert the most. "In the Nullarbor with just 80kg of battery and using the kite we were able to cross 400km [a day], which is amazing", Mr Gion said.

However, the trip did not go smoothly all the way. In their 80 day journey the pair burned out two motors, blew a tyre at speed and the kite became tangled in power lines more than once. But even with these few bumps along the Wind Explorer's very long road, Mr Gion said the trip proved there were viable alternatives to fuel powered cars. "All the technology needed for a project like this was already there", Mr Gion said. "Renewable electric technology is all there and we wanted to prove it works and we proved it works over a long distance".

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Green Power puts the power back in your hip pocket

The Saturday Age
12 February 2011, Page: 10

With more than 800,000 residential and nearly 40,000 business customers, the scheme is good value, writes Paddy Manning.

There wouldn't be too many green things that hundreds of thousands of people cough up extra for, year in, year out. GreenPower is one. That's probably because most people realise their greatest contribution to climate change is turning on the lights, aircon, TV and every other thingamajig at home.

If you choose, without waiting for the galling politics of a carbon price to play out, you can negate your own personal contribution to climate change and command the energy industry to invest in renewables simply by paying a bit more about 25%, or $500 a year for 100% GreenPower.

And many do. Established in 1997, by June last year GreenPower counted 802,628 residential customers and 39,300 commercial customers. Against the previous year, that represented a 15% fall at the household level but a 22% increase among business customers, who use more power.

There are good reasons why household interest might have waned: retail electricity prices are going up by half; uncertainty about how GreenPower fits in with the government's renewable energy target and proposed emissions trading scheme; and the competition regulator has censured some operators for misleading advertising. It's understandable there is a degree of confusion, even cynicism, about GreenPower. It's unwarranted. GreenPower is a robust scheme that is in limbo and needs some love. Is it good value for money, though?

As a customer I had no idea, until I began researching this article, whether the extra 5.5¢ per kW Origin Energy charges my family for 100% GreenPower at home on top of the 17.35¢ per kW base rate is a fair price. My 5.5¢ per kW is equivalent to $55 per MW well above the market price of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), which each represent 1 MW of green electricity and this week traded at about $35 each.

How is the GreenPower price set? Does it reflect the true cost of generating renewable energy? Is it highly profitable for Origin Energy? GreenPower reports on suppliers, customer numbers and the amount of renewable electricity generated. It does not track prices and GreenPower providers don't reveal how much money they're making on the scheme.

Origin Energy, with 396,000 electricity customers, has almost half the market to itself. Origin Energy's executive general manager (policy and sustainability), Carl McGarnish, admits customer interest in GreenPower has dropped but he still sees growth potential. While GreenPower customers are not especially lucrative, he says, they are more loyal they switch utilities less often. Most of Origin Energy's GreenPower customers pay $1 a week extra for 25% renewable energy effectively turning over about $20 million a year. It's still small potatoes.

On rough figures, you'd expect GreenPower to cost between $50-$70 extra per MW. On another calculation, it is twice as expensive as coalfired power. Generation represents half the retail cost (the other half is distribution) so you'd expect a 25% increase. GreenPower needs to be watched, but it doesn't look like they're gouging. For business and government agencies bulk purchasing there is a cheaper way to buy GreenPower from a third party such as Ark Climate, which simply sells RECs plus a margin.

All that is needed to restore confidence in this scheme is for the federal government to stick by its in principle commitment that all GreenPower purchases will be accounted as additional, voluntary abatement, on top of both the renewable energy target and Australia's Kyoto (and post Kyoto) commitments.

Then watch interest surge,

Fuel from a load of rubbish?

Sunday Canberra Times
13 February 2011, Page: 27

IS the stuff of sci fi movie legend vaporising household garbage and turning it into a power source? But now this concept is being investigated as a new frontier in dealing with the global load of household waste. Researchers in America have floated plans to tear rubbish into its constituent atoms with electricity, similar to a process which has been used in Australia for about 15 years to destroy hazardous waste including greenhouse gases.

Geoplasma, a firm based in Atlanta, Georgia, has said it believed there was a future in destroying garbage and, in the process, harnessing the mixture of chemicals released to create syngas that could then be used for energy creation. The syngas comes from a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Canberra CSIRO research scientist Andrew Warden said the development of the technology had great potential and could perhaps one day be used to create petrol for vehicles. "

The potential to use syngas for petrol is at a less mature stage of development", he said. However, the potential to use it to make ethanol, seems more easily within reach. GM Holden has teamed with Caltex and the American company Coskata and a consortium of others, with plans to build a biofuel plant in Victoria. It wants to use household waste to make syngas, which will then be transformed into ethanol. Coskata already has a pilot ethanol program in the US.

The consortium intends that the ethanol would be blended into an alternative fuel known as E85, a mixture of up to 85% ethanol and 15% petrol. Every year, Australian company SRL Plasma destroys hundreds of tonnes of hazardous waste, turning it into harmless liquid salt which can then be flushed into the sewer system. General manager of SRL Plasma Neville Taylor said it used technology developed by the CSIRO at the request of the Australian Government which was desperate in the late 1980s to safely dispose of hazardous materials and later in the 1990s for those which were harming the ozone layer.

What eventuated was a system that destroyed harmful gases with artificial lightning from electric plasma torches that heated matter to a temperature higher than the surface of the sun. "The first of the plascon systems was developed in Victoria in 1992, which destroyed waste from the manufacturing of agricultural chemicals and still does", Taylor said. "About the same time people were getting very concerned about the hole in the ozone layer and that's when the halon gases started to be stockpiled. "Halon gases are great at putting out fires and for putting holes in the ozone layer. There is a national halon bank now".

The technology has spread and SRL Plasma has sold four of its torches to plants in Japan which destroy organic waste, two in the US which destroy greenhouse gases and another two to Mexico. Taylor said that, in his opinion, Australia should not be in a rush to join the research push. "Just for starters, a plant like this [destroying garbage for energy production] would cost tens, probably hundreds, of millions of dollars", he said.

"With the knowledge of plasma, technology right now, it's not at that break even point. That system is a few years away". Taylor said he was "not privy to the numbers" held by a number of American companies carrying out such research, but knew the ones his company had done. "The cost of landfill in Europe for instance is high and the cost of electricity is high as well so there maybe you could break even but not here", he said.

"There are technologies being developed overseas about 20 companies in the US are working on it. If you wait for them to be finished you can cherry pick what you want. "It would be better [for Australian researchers] to do work on issues that are unique to Australia". SRL Plasma has a large plant in Tottenham. Victoria, which is dedicated to the destruction of greenhouse gases including CFCs, CFCs and PFCs.

Taylor said a lot of the hazardous wastes were refrigeration gases, extracted from from air conditioners, industrial coolers and household fridges. "The amount of gases we destroy is roughly equivalent to shutting down a small to medium sized coal fired power station", he said. However, there is no real benefit in destroying carbon gases created by power stations. "The process itself actually uses a lot of energy", he said. "So there's no real overall environmental benefit from that".

GM Holden's energy and environment director 's vision was to cut Australia's petrol consumption by up to 30% and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through syngas technology. GM Holden launched a car last year than can run on the E85 fuel, a Commodore VE series II. "It's about designing and engineering vehicles for Australians, built by Australians, using Australian fuel alternatives", Marshall said.

In the US, GM is a major producer of flex fuel vehicles and has more than 3.5 million E85 capable cars already on the road. It is intended that the Victorian plant, once built, would be capable of turning out more than 200 million litres of ethanol a year. Caltex _Australia's spokesman, Andy Walz, said the petrol giant was committed to installing E85 pumps in 100 metropolitan and regional service stations over the next 12 months.

"Caltex's expansion into this new fuel and participation in the consortium is part of our ongoing commitment to biofuels and tackling climate change, which fits well with a strategy of providing energy beyond the traditional fuel mix, he said. "Caltex already has about 400 service stations that sell E10 and a growing biodiesel market. "We believe the biofuels industry has a vital role in a sustainable transport fuels future and that biofuels are good business opportunity for Caltex". Chief marketing officer for Coskata Wes Bolsen said there not all biofuels were created equal.

"We don't make fuel from food crops, we use sources like municipal waste that have reached the end of their lifecycle and turn them into renewable energy, which leads to a net positive effect for the environment:" he said.

Deaf to progress

Sunday Herald Sun
13 February 2011, Page: 71

NOTHING makes my blood boil more than the attitude of people who say "not in my backyard" and state "health problems" are caused, in this case, by the rhythmic swoosh, swoosh" generated by wind turbines.

Did Peter Rolfe ask the farmers with tinnitus if there might be any other cause for their condition, such as the farmers driving their tractor without ear protection? I am familiar with tinnitus, having lived with a longterm suffer who would never drive a tractor without ear protection to protect his ears from further damage.

Wind power and other future developments have the potential to minimise the negative effects to the community from coal fired electricity stations. Progress and electricity production are important to how we all live invariably someone is inconvenienced for the betterment of the wider community.

Elizabeth Wright, Nicholson

Sunday 20 February 2011

Don’t repeat Rudd’s compensation mistakes

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
14 February 2011, Page: 55

Prime Minister Julia Gillard should not entertain the idea of compensating the industries responsible for major carbon emissions, and thus steer clear of the main problems with Kevin Rudd's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which would have cost the government $20 billion to give industries carbon permits. The idea of compensating polluters contradicts the reasoning behind establishing a carbon price in the first place, namely to create an incentive for businesses to shift away from high emitting practices.

Mr Rudd was hamstrung by the impending global financial crisis and the Liberal opposition, who's support he needed to pass the bill, but Ms Gillard has no such problems. The axing of the Cash for Clunkers scheme and the Green Car Innovation Fund are to be commended, because they would not have led to a change in behaviour, and for the same reason industry concessions on carbon emissions should be scrapped as well.

The Grattan Institute researched the impact of a carbon price of $35 per tonne last year, focusing on seven industries: steel, cement, coal, liquefied natural gas (LNG), aluminium smelting and refining and oil refining, which together produce 20% of Australia's carbon emissions. The research found that even with a carbon price, LNG and coal would continue to make profits and there was little risk to jobs, but would the incentive to move to low emission mines would be removed.

The aluminium and oil refining industries may be forced off shore, but this was likely to happen anyway, while a carbon rebate to exporters would possibly be necessary to protect the cement and steel industries. Ms Gillard has likened her reforms to those of Hawke and Keating, but to be as effective she must be prepared to make tough decisions that could result in the loss of 10,000 jobs in aluminium and oil.

Compensation for such industries would result in the cost falling on the consumer through higher transport and electricity prices. Ms Gillard needs to avoid falling into the traps implicit in the original Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which Ross Garnaut said was born out of the worst policymaking process on a big issue in Australian history.

A little breezy, but the view is sensational

Daily Telegraph
14 February 2011, Page: 7

THE view isn't bad from Phil Lewis's office but it gets a bit windy every now and then. It's just as well, really, or he'd probably be out of a job. As a technician on the largest wind farm in NSW, Mr Lewis regularly scales 80m wind turbines and dangles precariously over the edge to reach the front nose cone.

Luckily for him the giant 44m turbine blades don't move during his work, but there's not much he can do to stop the wind blowing as he goes about his work. Photographer Stephen Cooper, who snapped Mr Lewis on the job, said the view from the top was "awesome". "The day before had been 40C and really windy and the farm was running at capacity, but the wind dropped off before we went up", he said.

'At one stage I looked down and thought, 'Mental note don't look down again' but looking straight out was fine". Technicians check and service the turbines much like a mechanic would a car. Infigen Energy's Capital Wind Farm at Bungendore, near Canberra, comprises 67 turbines spread across 35km².

Coal gas industry goes back on trial

14 February 2011, Page: 23

THE shape of Queensland's fledgling underground coal gasification industry is becoming clearer, with one company allowed to continue a trial a week after the state government stopped a rival's test run. According to the government, Carbon Energy will be allowed to continue its trial at Kogan on the Darling Downs, suspended since July while the government investigated reports of an unauthorised discharge of process water from the mine.

The Bligh government banned Cougar Energy earlier this month from continuing its trial of underground coal gasification techniques at Kingaroy in southem Queensland, after reports of poisons leaking from the plant. Linc Energy's demonstration plant near Chinchilla is operating, but the company sees more of a future for its underground coal gasification technology at its holdings in South Australia.

The technique of burning coal while it is still underground to create energy has a long history overseas but has been controversial in Queensland. The Bligh government has been criticised in relation to the far bigger coal seam gas industry, which involves a different method of creating energy to underground coal gasification, but they are often lumped together. The government gave the three companies until the end of next year to prove the technology could work without damaging the environment. The state government came under extreme pressure last year to ban the Cougar plant at Kingaroy, after claims deadly chemicals were found on site.

Cougar strongly disputed this, but late last month, Queensland Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said the project could not resume "without an unacceptable risk of environmental harm". Carbon Energy has been allowed to proceed with its project at Kogan with several new conditions largely relating to better monitoring and infrastructure on site to prevent leaks. Ms Jones said the government would continue to closely monitor the activities of Carbon Energy and Linc Energy, which is continuing in the underground coal gasification trial.

"We take the protection of our environment very seriously and any company that wants to do business in Queensland must meet their environmental obligations", Ms Jones said. "When the contamination incident occurred at Cougar Energy's Kingaroy site last year, we said that if any company couldn't provide real evidence that it could operate safely, then it would not be allowed to continue.

"The decision last month to close down Cougar Energy's trial at Kingaroy demonstrates that we will not risk the environment or our communities if concerns cannot be addressed by a company". She said her department was "satisfied that Carbon Energy has demonstrated they will be able to operate within environmental requirements, after making changes to their operations and procedures".