Thursday 28 April 2011

Carnegie makes waves with renewable energy

West Australian
20 April 2011, Page: 4

Carnegie Corporation Wave Energy has notched up a major win in the race to commercialise new renewable energy technologies, after becoming the first company in the southern hemisphere to generate electricity from the ocean's waves. The WA company was expected to announce this morning that it had successfully activated its first commercial scale CETO unit off Garden Island at the weekend, ahead of schedule.

The milestone, which comes after five years of testing its technology at selected sites across the country, means Carnegie Corporation is a step closer to producing the promised 5 MW of grid connected power from the site. Carnegie Corporation's technology developed by company founder and inventor Alan Burns, relies on buoys anchored on the ocean floor that use the motion of passing waves to drive pumps which then deliver pressurised water to shore.

The company will monitor power produced at the Garden Island site over the next month and if all goes to plan, will eventually install up to 30 units, enough to produce power for 3500 homes. Carnegie Corporation managing director Michael Ottaviano said yesterday the unit was producing power "exactly as expected". "This is the most significant milestone in Carnegie Corporation's history", Dr Ottaviano said. The State Government has invested $12.5 million in Carnegie Corporation's efforts to bring its CETO technology to market.

But despite Australia's reliable wave source, the company has increasingly been forced to look overseas for development funds. In 2009, it scrapped plans to develop the world's biggest wave energy project near Albany after it was overlooked for a major Federal Government grant. The $300 million pilot project had aimed to produce 50 MW of power, enough electricity for 30,000 homes. WA gets about 5% of its power from renewable sources, predominantly wind power. The Federal Government has set a national target of 20% by 2020.

Wind farm split up set to cost jobs

Hobart Mercury
20 April 2011, Page: 23

THE Roaring 40s wind farm joint venture between Hydro Tasmania and China Light and Power is to be dissolved. Hydro chief executive Roy Adair said the partnership had become strained when the partners became competitors in the National Electricity Market Management Company, particularly after Hydro Tasmania developed its retail business Momentum Energy. The dissolution is expected to result in some redundancies among the 40 staff.

Roaring 40s' assets would be divided and no cash would change hands. Hydro Tasmania would take ownership of the 140 MW wind farm at Woolnorth, in Tasmania's North West. It would get a share of the 168 MW development opportunity at Musselroe Bay, in Tasmania's North East, and a further, unnamed. 80 MW opportunity. CLP Group subsidiary TRUEnergy would take over the 111MW Waterloo wind farm and assume a 50% share of the 66 MW Cathedral Rocks wind farm. Both are in South Australia.

Hydro Tasmania said CLP Group would get a share of three potential developments in Victoria and South Australia, totalling 213 MW. Formal execution of the deal is targeted for the end of June. Mr Adair said some staff would be offered positions while others would be offered redundancies. The joint venture was established in 2005 to pursue renewable energy developments in Australia and overseas, particularly in China.

Hydro Tasmania sold its share of Roaring 40s' Chinese and Indian portfolio to CLP Group in April 2009 to concentrate on Australian development opportunities. Opposition spokesman Matthew Groom said the split put the $450 million Musselroe development under a huge cloud. Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Robert Wallace said if the Musselroe wind farm did not go ahead it would be a severe blow to the state.

Focus on the premiums

20 April 2011, Page: 18

THE carbon tax debate has been seriously hijacked. Surely a carbon tax should be about disincentives to CO₂ producers and incentives to reducers. The incentives should flow to investments in renewable energy. Currently we pay a premium if we opt for renewal energy this should be changed so that we pay a premium if we do not opt for renewable energy, be it solar, wind, geothermal or hydropower. This gives an incentive to power suppliers to invest in renewable energy. Similarly, petrol prices should rise. The government should be subsidising electric, hydrogen powered and hybrid cars instead. The carbon tax should not produce a slush fund for politicians.

John Yeo, Glen Wayeriey

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Coal mines told to pay for emissions

20 April 2011, Page: 2

Change Minister Greg Combet has slapped down Australia's coal miners, telling them they will not win an exemption from paying a carbon tax. In a meeting with the six biggest coal miners Bill1, Rio Tinto, Xstrata, Peabody, Centennial Coal and Anglo American Mr Combet yesterday said the government would include coal mines under a carbon tax to drive changes in the industry.

Coal miners want their emissions exempted from any carbon price. Coal mines produce "fugitive" emissions mainly methane, a potent greenhouse gas during mining. During the meeting, the companies are understood lo have told Mr Combet that if those fugitive emissions are not excluded from a carbon tax, they are likely to invest more in countries where carbon is not taxed.

Under the now dumped emissions trading scheme, coal miners were to get SI.5 billion in compensation over five years. Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said last night that the government was willing to discuss "assistance for the most affected coal mines to support jobs and competitiveness", but that previous economic modelling had found that most mines would only face marginal costs due to methane emissions.

The Grattan Institute has found 95% of thermal coal mines (coal for producing power) and 70% of metallurgical coal (for producing iron and steel) mines will face only small impacts from a carbon price of even $35. Those left facing bigger impacts will be covered by soaring global coal prices, the institute concluded, increasing coal margins to at least $44.50 a tonne for thermal coal and $96.50 per tonne for metallurgical coal over the coming years.

The meeting with coal miners followed a separate meeting between Mr Combet and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson and a broader mix of trade exposed industries. The Age understands during that meeting, Shell, One Steel and Visy made vocal representations about the effect of a carbon tax on their industries. The Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group also put forward their members' views.

Yesterday the government set up another industry consultation group to discuss how a carbon price would affect farmers, other food producers and the forestry industry. Greens senator Christine Milne said some sectors such as steel had a case for compensation because they were trade exposed, but all companies should not simply be compensated for lost profits.

Garnaut pushes soil carbon scheme

15 April 2011, Page: 4

Julia Gillard's climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, will push the federal government to include agricultural carbon sequestration in its emissions reduction regime when he delivers his final paper next month. Professor Garnaut, who was visiting a sustainable farming operation near Armidale in northeast NSW yesterday, called on the federal government to provide additional funds from revenue raised by the carbon price to boost research into soil carbon sequestration techniques.

He was in Armidale, in the New England electorate of key independent Tony Windsor, to deliver a public lecture on his series of eight papers updating his 2008 climate change review. The final Garnaut report to the government on May 31 will include a budget on how to include the carbon offsets created by soil sequestration in the emissions trading scheme. He has previously said up to 14% of the carbon permits scheme could be used for agricultural offsets, creating the equivalent of a new wool industry for the agricultural sector.

The inclusion of agricultural offsets in the program would involve the government making a major departure from Kevin Rudd's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which did not include the measure. Professor Garnaut was visiting Lana, owned by Tim and Karen Wright, who have dramatically increased the yields from their property, including during severe droughts, by ceasing the use of phosphate fertilisers and using ecologically sustainable methods to manage their property.

The result has been a massive increase in the soil microbes, which has boosted the carbon content of the soil, increased its water holding capacity and made the property drought resistant and able to carry more sheep. Professor Garnaut told a small gathering at the Wrights' farm yesterday he wanted direct linking of land sequestration to the carbon pricing scheme. He said farmers should be allowed to derive the benefits of increasing the carbon content of soil even if they were doing so to boost their profits.

Professor Garnaut's trip, at the invitation of Mr Windsor, came as the rural independent MP warned the government yesterday he would not "vote for something that does nothing". "There is no carbon tax, there may not be a carbon tax", Mr Windsor told ABC radio. "The Prime Minister doesn't have the numbers, as I understand it at the moment. But Ms Gillard played down the significance of Mr Windsor's comments, saying the independent MP had consistently said he would not commit to anything until the legislation was finalised.

Energy answer blowing in wind as China chips in to $6b project

Courier Mail
14 April 2011, Page: 54

A PARTNERSHIP of Australian and Chinese companies plans to build $6 billion worth of wind and solar farms in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales and become a significant energy market player. Sydney based renewable energy company CBD Energy's managing director Gerry McGowan yesterday said a final agreement to be signed on monday would see CBD Energy in a joint venture with China Datang Renewable Power Co and Tianwei Baobian Electric Co.

They will create a JV company called AusChina Energy Development, which plans to develop and retain ownership of $6 billion worth of wind and solar power plants in Australia within eight years. CBD Energy's alliance will benefit its Queensland based solar subsidiary, eco-Kinetics, which separately is partnering with Tianwei to establish a solar panel manufacturing facility. Production of solar panels for export from the new factory will start in mid year, with output forecast at 60 MWs of solar modules a year.

Mr McGowan said the new JV company aimed to make wind and solar power stations which don't generate greenhouse gas emissions competitive with the coal and gasfired power plants that are a major cause of global warming. "We'll be accessing turbines made in China and debt from China, and we think we can significantly reduce the cost of renewable energy", Mr McGowan said. "We're hoping we can reach grid price parity in a short space of time".

He said AusChina Energy would be viable even without a carbon price being legislated here, but he said carbon pricing was important to provide long term certainty to help underpin investment in clean energy assets. Separately, the Federal Government yesterday committed $34.9 million to help construct a $105 million project to add 44 MW of solar power capacity to Queensland Government owned CS Energy's coal fired Kogan Creek power station near Chinchilla.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Government urged to link energy-saving program to carbon tax

Thursday 14/4/2011 Page: 2

A COALITION of clean energy groups and big companies will today urge the government to establish an extensive energy saving program alongside a carbon tax to help households lower their power bills. The group, which includes energy giant AGL Energy and the Clean Energy Council, says Labor should accept the findings of a government advisory group that last year recommended a scheme be set up requiring electricity retailers to ensure their industry and household customers used less energy.

The scheme could save households between $50 and $243 a year on their power bills and would complement a carbon tax, the business coalition says. Medium businesses could save between $10,608 and $23,712 a year. The government has yet to respond to the report from the Prime Minister's advisory group on energy efficiency, despite having received it more than six months ago. A spokeswoman for Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said there had been extensive consultation on the report and the government's response was being considered.

The task group's report also recommends setting a target to cut energy intensity the amount of energy used per dollar of gross domestic product by 30% over the next decade, requiring an average cut in power use of 16% for every Australian. A spokeswoman for AGL Energy said the company "has long been an advocate of the establishment of a national energy efficiency scheme which amalgamates the various state based schemes currently in operation". "We support the government in implementing this, as a complementary policy to a carbon price, as soon as possible".

Clean Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren said: "A national energy efficiency scheme needs to be complementary to the implementation of a carbon price it's the most effective way to help households and businesses save money on their power bills". "As Minister Combet said in his address to the National Press Club yesterday, any additional savings that households can make from energy efficiency will be extra money in the bank after compensation is allocated". The energy efficiency push comes as a group of 21 big companies, including AGL Energy, BP, IKEA GE, Linfox and Arup came out in support of a carbon price yesterday, following a week of complaints from the mining and manufacturing sectors about Labor's carbon tax plans.

A joint statement by the companies said that: "as the costs of action are outweighed by the costs of delay, the carbon price should be implemented as soon as possible. "A price should be accompanied by appropriate transitional assistance for households and trade exposed industry, as well as complementary measures that reduce emissions at least economic cost".

Panels glut clouds solar prospects

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
13 April 2011, Page: 10

The rush for households to have solar panels installed prior to a scaling back of government subsidies from July 1 has led to fears of a shakeout in the industry. Acil Tasman has provided modelling for the Office of Renewable Energy which suggests that 35 million Renewable Energy Certificates for solar panel installation will have been created by December.

While the opposition has raised comparisons with the failed home insulation scheme, the solar industry is concerned that installers will be left holding worthless certificates. They fear that the government has over regulated the industry, fearing a repeat of the botched insulation program. Warwick Johnston of Sunwiz consultancy warned of oversupply of certificates and Solar Shop retail general manager Daniel Edgecombe said it was important for consumers to have their site correctly assessed.

City of Sydney sheds light on saving energy

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
12 April 2011, Page: 4

The CitySwitch Green Office venture is being largely driven by the efforts of the City of Sydney council, which is going to tender at the end of April to install LED technology in 8500 street lights. "We could probably achieve across the city savings of about 40% compared with current technology", Garry Harding, director of city operations, says. Nine manufacturers have taken part in a trial of "smart control" lights since November, including Gerard Lighting Group division Sylvania Lighting Australasia, GE, iGuzzini, Philips Lighting and Osram.

According to Chris Derksema, sustainability director at the City of Sydney council, LED street lights have already reduced lighting consumption by 50%, an impressive result given building owners are required to disclose the energy performance of their properties whenever they sub lease, lease or sell the building under the Commercial Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Act. LED technology also helped Stockland secure a five star National Australian Built Environment Rating System rating.