Friday 23 September 2011

Renewable projects in limbo

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
20 Sep 2011, Page: 1

Billions of dollars in renewable energy investment could be stimulated by the introduction of the carbon pricing scheme. New investment in renewable energy is currently stalled by political uncertainty, according to BP Solar manager large commercial projects Tony Stocken. AGL Energy chief executive Michael Fraser is concerned about incentives for the private sector to invest in renewable energy.

A secure carbon pricing mechanism will immediately stimulate approximately $20 billion in new investment by super funds and banks, according to Industry Funds Management chairman Garry Weaven. There are currently an estimated 588 MWs of committed renewable energy targets, according to Pacific Hydro general manager Lane Crockett. Westpac head of infrastructure and utilities Didier Van Not claimed that investment certainty it necessary to attract the necessary capital to launch new renewable projects.

The current political risk would add a risk premium to investment in renewable energy, added Commonwealth Bank utilities, energy and renewable solutions head Nick Sankey. The Victorian government's changes to planning laws regarding wind farms have shaken investor confidence. Spanish company Acciona Energy is lobbying the federal government to change the National Electricity Market Management Company rules. Investment in transmission infrastructure should be a high priority for the government, according to Acciona Energy's Australian development director, Andrew Thomson.

The clean energy answer is blowing in the wind

Daily Telegraph
Tuesday 20/9/2011 Page: 21

THERE is obviously a healthy debate going about wind power in Australia, but some of the claims being made are about as far from reality as the Earth is from Uranus.

I was at the footy a couple of weeks ago when it was blowing a gale and the subject of wind farms came up. The thing everyone wanted to know was: Clean, green energy sounds great, but will it add to the pain when I get my power bill? Wind power is currently more expensive than either coal or gas, but you would barely notice it when your bill comes in.

Even with all the wind farms planned by the end of the decade under our renewable energy target, the projections are that renewable energy will make up between 4-7% of our bills by 2020. And wind power is coming down in price, while coal and gas are getting more expensive. The 21st century will be the clean energy century. Wind is the cheapest clean energy source that we can roll out on a large scale. And it works.

Over the first six months of this year, Australia's 1188 wind turbines generated enough electricity to power more than 725,000 homes. One week the wind was blowing so strongly it powered more than 1.5 million homes. What rusted on opponents of wind are most afraid of is the evidence that shows how well it works in producing our electricity and reducing emissions.

South Australia now gets over 20% of its electricity from wind power; one of the reasons the state's carbon emissions fell by 18% over the past five years. wind farms also provide jobs for local communities and contractors, as well as an economic boost for struggling regional areas. At the Capital wind farm near Canberra, about $10 million went straight into the pockets of locals during construction.

It went into the corner store the local restaurant, motels and more. Farming couple Brian and Marcia used the income from turbines on their property to pay for drought feed for their livestock. There are many other examples where wind power has saved the family farm. Wind power employed more than 2200 people in 2010. It is sometimes criticised by opponents for providing more jobs during construction than ongoing positions. They say these aren't "real" jobs, but I wouldn't tell any of my construction worker mates that their job isn't real.

Another criticism is that wind has to be "backed up" by gas power plants, which sit idling away waiting for the wind to stop blowing. In fact we can predict the wind with better than 90% accuracy and our electricity grid is flexible enough that it can be easily accommodated. No one is saying that all our electricity should come from the wind, but it is playing an increasing role in providing clean energy for Australians.

Kane Thornton is director of the Clean Energy Council

Life change to follow the sun

Adelaide Advertiser
20 Sep 2011, Page: 96

RICHARD Mintz has made a major career U-turn, moving from wine to solar. As managing director of Love Energy, Mr Mintz said he was able to work closer to home. As co-founder of Two Hands Wines, he was often away for three months of the year in the US. Renewable energy was the solution. "I think it's a very worthy industry and it's the way of the future", he said. "The price of solar has halved in the past few years. "People who are worried about missing out (because of government rebate cuts) shouldn't be because solar is not going anywhere".

Love Energy was now operating in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland, and is moving into commercial solar. "We have just signed an exclusive agreement with Kyocera, which is one of the oldest and most well-known solar companies in the world", Mr Mintz said. "They have been in solar for 36 years and they have selected Love Energy to be their solar partner in Australia. That brings an enormous amount of credibility to our brand".

Mr Mintz said Love Energy considered solar power to have moved beyond the climate change argument. "The early adopters were the tree-hugging greenies", he said. "We have developed some modelling that will show people what the return on their investment will be".

Opportunities in the carbon tax

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
14 September 2011, Page: 63

There are a number of positives to come out of the carbon tax legislation, including opportunities for businesses to become more efficient and more profitable. While energy bills may increase 10% to 15%, they have already increased 17% to 20% in the past three years without a carbon tax. The cost of raw materials such as cement and iron ore will not greatly increase. The $800 million Clean Technology Investment Program will provide opportunities for companies looking to develop innovative clean energy and energy efficient products. The National Energy Savings Initiative, which was recommended by the Prime Minister's Task Group on Energy Efficiency, should be pursued.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation will have $5 billion at hand for businesses with projects that will reduce carbon emissions and promote clean energy. Only 10% of the energy potential from a lump of coal ever makes it to your light bulb, and Energetics has had great success advising companies on how to reduce their consumption. Dow Chemicals, Nissan USA, Danone and 3M have all slashed their energy intensity by 50%, and Sydney Water has cut its emissions by 40%. Heavy rail and road transport should be equally exempted from diesel tax.

Jonathan Jutsen, executive director, Energetics.

Thursday 22 September 2011

ACCC warns on power costs

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
14 September 2011, Page: 8

Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, yesterday urged consumer groups and industry to support the Australian Energy Regulator's proposals to rewrite energy market legislation. Michael Fraser, chief executive of AGL Energy, also rebuffed remarks from Grant King, head of Origin Energy, by saying a reduction or postponement of the renewable energy target would create uncertainty for business investment in renewable energy. Any alterations to network investment would require the approval of the Australian Energy Market Commission.

Tassie may win via green Google

13 September 2011, Page: 32

Google will develop new data centres in locations with a high percentage of renewable energy use, which makes Tasmania the only viable option in Australia should that be the main criteria. The internet giant wants to hit a 100% renewable energy rate over time, an ambitious leap from the current 30%. It doesn't want to build data centres in areas that have a high reliance on traditional energy sources such as coal. Instead, renewable alternatives including wind, solar, hydropower and landfill methane would be welcomed.

"We definitely look for places that have the potential to provide us with a higher percentage of renewable energy.,, so over time almost certainly, as our business grows, well make more investments around the world, including Asia-Pacific", Google green energy "tsar" Bill Weihl said. "One of the important criteria is what's the mix of power that's available or that will be available in future".

Google was continuously evaluating the need to "build and own our own facilities". Google owns six data centres in the US, one in St Ghislain, Belgium, and a new site in Hamina, Finland, that uses sea water for cooling. It did not own any data centres in Asia-Pacific, but had lease arrangements, Mr Weihl said, declining to elaborate. Tasmania generates 86% of its energy from renewable sources, Queensland 8%, NSW 6%, Western Australia 5% and Victoria 3.9%. Overall, Australia generates about 5% of energy from renewable sources, with a 20% target by 2020. New Zealand stands at 74% and aims to hit 90% by 2025.

Asked if New Zealand was a viable location given its renewable energy rate, Mr Weihl said: "That's certainly a big plus and then we'd have to look at other factors". Consideration would be given to a range of costs including construction, power and labour, and proximity to large population centres, he said. "Basically, we want our data centres to be close to users, so the more users there are nearby the better", Mr Weihl said. He didn't rule out building a data centre in Australia to serve Asia-Pacific customers, but said it would depend on network connectivity performance.

"One of the issues going is that the network latency from Australia to Japan and other parts of Asia is relatively high,., we want to put our data centres relatively close to the users so we can provide users with very fast responses with our products", he said. About 85% of Google's carbon footprint comes from "purchased electricity" to power data centres and offices, equivalent to 1.23 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. In 2008, Google sent a team of data centre experts from the US to conduct a site feasibility study.

IDC Australia senior infrastructure analyst Trevor Clarke said he was surprised that data centre industry suppliers had yet to "really push" for renewable energy sources. "The ICT industry could start putting a lot more pressure on government and electricity providers on getting renewable energy into the mix to power ICT equipment and data centres", Mr Clarke said. He said the industry should request more renewables as part of its supply instead of relying on coal. But once the National Australian Built Environment rating System energy efficiency rating tool for data centres was developed later this year, things could change.

Sun 'will shine again on solar'

Adelaide Advertiser
13 September 2011, Page: 37

ENTREPRENEUR Adrian Ferraretto remains confident about the future of the solar power industry despite the failure of Solar Shop. The pendulum would swing back in favour of the industry as electricity prices rose and green issues became ever more important, he said. Mr Ferraretto founded Solar Shop in Adelaide 12 years ago and built it up to be Australia's biggest solar panel retailer. He resigned as managing director in July last year and has had no involvement in running the business since then.

He remains shocked that last week Ferrier Hodgson was appointed as receivers for the business on instructions from Westpac over bad debts. "There's this pendulum that's been swinging ever since the year 2000 when the rebates first came in", he said. "We've had 14 changes along the way". This lack of consistency in government policy was holding back investment in the industry but he was determined to press ahead because "it's the right thing to do".

Mr Ferraretto sold all but about a quarter of the shares in Solar Shop to private equity investors. He said he received "less than a third" of the $50 million previously reported for his stake. After tax, almost all of the money has been invested in his new business, Tindo Solar, which will manufacture solar panels in Adelaide. "I've been around the world looking at manufacturing plants for the past four years", he said.

Tindo Solar is recruiting retail companies to sell its panels which it aims to have in production before year's end. "The saving grace for us will be that the pendulum will swing around for us sometime next year", he said. Fellow industry pioneer Richard Turner, founder of Zen Home Energy Systems, said the collapse of Solar Shop was sad but it did not signal the end of the industry. "Companies such as Zen Home Energy remain in a very strong financial position despite the constantly changing legislative environment for solar power", he said.

There were different approaches to managing companies in the industry with Zen Home Energy among those that had been able to adapt to the changes, he said. "Our company has a pipeline of quite revolutionary product lines that are scheduled for release in 2012", he said. Ferrier Hodgson are in the early stages of assessing what went wrong for Solar Shop. However, its rapid expansion in NSW is expected to have been a contributing factor.

In addition to the Federal Government accelerating the reduction in value of Renewable Energy Certificates faster than expected from July, NSW has suspended its feed-in tariffs. Retailers pay nothing for electricity generated by NSW householders from solar panels. This is in contrast to an earlier gross feed-in tariff of 60¢ per kW in NSW-leading to a collapse of the industry. With a fair price-not necessarily a subsidised price-the industry would rebound, Mr Ferraretto said.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Lighting switch saves 11,000

Sunday Tasmanian
11 September 2011, Page: 62

Kingborough Council will soon save $11,000 a year on its power bill, simply by changing to LED lighting. Council recently announced the energy efficiency agreement with Low Carbon Australia that will see a 75% reduction in the civic centre and chambers lighting costs. The project involves replacing 648 technology fluorescent tubes with about 420 energy efficient LED tubes. The life of the LED tubes are expected to be 20 years compared with only four years for the old ones.

The installation of the LED lighting, plus the removal of unnecessary lights, will result in a 75% reduction in power for lighting and Council anticipates saving in excess of $11,000 per annum on their power bill, based on current power costs. Kingborough Mayor Dr Graham Bury said he supported Council's steps to reduce energy consumption and costs, and its carbon footprint.

"This project is one of several activities that council has committed to undertake to mitigate climate change and reduce council's energy consumption", Cr Bury said. "Through examining operations and seeking efficiency measures, Kingborough can be a best practice example to other councils or local businesses as to how simple it is to undertake energy efficiency measures".

Low Carbon Australia works with business and public sector organisations to develop, design and deliver energy efficiency solutions as well as provide the finance. Low Carbon Australia chief executive Meg McDonald said the project was a very important means of demonstrating to Australian local governments and businesses how to overcome barriers to implementing energy efficiency measures. "Low Carbon Australia's business methodology allows local governments and businesses to avoid lost energy saving opportunities through immediate upfront financial support.

I encourage local government and business in Tasmania to embrace innovative energy efficiency financing opportunities", he said. Assuming the project will run for 20 years, Low Carbon Australia forecasts $391,000 will be saved in total on the basis of annual energy savings at current prices plus the compound savings with energy price increase. Kingborough Council joins Wagga Wagga City Council as the second local government to receive finance from Low Carbon Australia.

Fukushima's wave of despair

Sun Herald
11 September 2011, Page: 32

As Japan prepares to mark six months since the March earthquake, tens of thousands remain in temporary housing, mourning loved ones, fearful of radiation and despairing over a marathon road to recovery. The wall of water unleashed by the record 9.0-magnitude March 11 earthquake left an indelible scar on Japan's north-eastern Pacific coast, killing 20,000 people and sparking the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl 25 years ago. Much rubble has been cleared, leaving vast, empty mud fields.

Makeshift shelters at schools and public halls have closed after temporary housing was hastily constructed. But mental scars will take longer to heal. "People talk about recovery but there is no such thing here", said fisherman Take Tachibana, 66, still searching for his sister's body after the tsunami took his house, his boat and 600 lives in his town of Yamada. "It is too early to think of the future. I don't know what to do".

Rebuilding the rnuddy wastelands of the north-eastern Tohoku region is expected to cost hundreds of billions of dollars and take up to a decade. Are as close to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station may be uninhabitable for longer. For many, faith in government has been eroded amid criticism over its response to the disaster and suspicions it underplayed the scale of the nuclear crisis, and as political infighting overshadows recovery efforts. Radiation fears are a daily fact of life after water, beef, vegetables, tea and seafood were contaminated by the Fukushima accident. "Since March 11, my life has changed completely", said Yuko Sugimoto, 56, from Namie, a village in the 20-kilometre no-go zone set up around the nuclear plant after it was crippled in the tsunami.

Sugimoto has been forced to give up plans to raise and sell organic vegetables. "All we have now is despair, stress and the worry that we will be discarded as time goes by", she said. Facing huge compensation costs, the plant operator, TEPCO, made initial payments of ¥1 million ($12,000) per family, but this has failed to soothe anger about lost homes, jobs and livelihoods and potential long-term health risks. Activists and scientists have called for a wider evacuation zone amid fears that it does not account for unpredictable radiation fallout patterns after the plant spewed radiation into the environment, including places more than 100 kilometres away. Some areas in the zone could be uninhabitable for decades.

Parents living nearby face a nightmare dilemma: evacuate their children or live with the fear that radiation will cause cancers. Tests have shown trace radioactive substances in urine samples of children in Fukushima. Japan's new Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, pledged to speed up recovery efforts. There are plans to set up anew nuclear regulator to replace the existing Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, seen as culpable in TEPCO's failure to foresee the threat to the Fukushima plant from a giant tsunami.

The disaster also triggered a wave of anti-nuclear sentiment in the resource-poor nation. Most reactors are currently offline for safety tests. Noda and other officials have signalled Japan may eventually phase out nuclear power. Parliament passed a law to promote renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal last month. The government estimates that at least 70,000 people in the three tsunami-hit prefectures-Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate - lost their jobs due to the disaster but analysts say the figure is far higher.

While life is getting back to normal in cities such as Tokyo-where supermarkets were stripped of supplies in the disaster's early aftermath-areas such as Fukushima face along road to recovery. "People in other affected areas still have hope, which we don't have in Fukushima", said Sugimoto. The nuclear accident did not only open Pandora's box, it destroyed it and took away the hope left inside".

Renewables at risk from cuts

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
12 September 2011, Page: 8

The renewable energy industry has questioned the West Australian government's commitment to renewable energy due to its proposal to halve incentives for some of WA's large wind-power projects. Substantial wind farm owners in WA, including projects supported by UBS, REST Superannuation fund and Macquarie Group are paid capacity credits to fuel investment in electricity generation in WA. The new rule changes are part of the government's attempts to lower the generosity of the scheme. In addition, it is to better account for the costs intermittent power supplies such as wind impose on the electricity grid and for emerging solar projects.

There are four main wind farms in WA, including mid-west Emu Downs wind farm (recently purchased by the APA Group) and the state-owned Grasmere farm. All except one unidentified plant will see their credits halved. The changes will be from next year (phasing in over six years)-this raises worries that investment in green projects in WA may take a hit and could affect the state's requirement to meet its share of the federal target to produce 20% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Synergy Energy, WA's electricity retailer, stated it would not have difficulties meeting its share of that target. State Energy Minister Peter Collier said, "The proposed changes are intended to ensure that sufficient electricity generation capacity is available and able to reliably meet peak demand". WA's opposition energy minister, Kate Doust, stated, "I think that comes back to the fact that the current Premier is so obsessed with natural gas powered plants. They keep saying they support renewables but then they keep putting up barriers to prevent proper entry into the market".

Tuesday 20 September 2011

More blackouts as big projects drain power

9 September 2011, Page: 5

QUEENSLANDERS face up to 143 minutes of blackouts in 2012-13 because of soaring demand for power and pressure on its electricity generation capacity, new modelling finds. New simulations conducted by the Australian Energy Market Operator, to be released today, conclude that the "unserved energy' in Queensland could rise from nine minutes in 2011-12 to 2.39 hours the next year. This is because while liquefied natural gas and coalmining projects are driving up power demand, the state is set to need extra power stations. This year, NSW can expect 29 minutes of blackouts, Victoria 21 minutes, and South Australia 23 minutes. For Victoria and SA, there will be more time lost in outages the next year as the balance between power demand and supplies tightens. The situation would be worse and the outages longer if power stations were to exit the market.

However, under the government's clean energy plan, the paid closure of big emissions intensive power plants in Victoria and SA is not expected to happen until later in the decade. But these figures which do not account for outages caused by events on the energy poles and wires and transmission infrastructure, such as faults at sub-stations still comply with the standards for the National Electricity Market Management Company that connects the southern and eastern states.

AEMO boss Matt Zema said the system would still have sufficient reserves. He also revealed that the AEMO was investigating how the NEM could deal with significant levels of wind farms and still be secure. He said the growing use of wind turbines could have an impact on the performance of the power system. By 2020, 20% of Australia's electricity will be sourced from wind, solar and other renewable sources under a mandatory federal target. According to the AEMO, the government's carbon tax plan would have a "limited" impact on power system operations to mid-2013. In part, that is because rising electricity prices could push down demand for power and power stations are set to receive financial assistance.

Large-scale solar the new clean energy frontier
9 September 2011

Australia has five years to get the foundations in place for a sustainable large-scale solar industry or it risks missing out on a huge economic opportunity, Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Matthew Warren said today. Launching the Clean Energy Council's Large-Scale Solar Policy Roadmap in Melbourne, Mr Warren said Australia needed to capitalise on the interest Solar Flagships had generated among international investors, who were sinking billions of dollars into projects in other countries.

In the second quarter of 2011 alone, the US Department of Energy ramped up its investment to $12 billion, divided among 12 solar projects. "Once again, we are not at risk of leading the pack, but of falling behind. We need to put an end to the brain drain and keep our brightest solar minds delivering local innovations," he said. "Australia has a proud history when it comes to scientific breakthroughs. We need to harness this and apply it to the new challenges facing us in the global effort to avert dangerous climate change."

The Large-Scale Solar Policy Roadmap provides a snapshot of current large-scale solar projects and policies across the globe, including Spain, Germany and the US, as well outlining actions for governments to help reduce current barriers to its introduction. It also calls for a dedication of funds in the next five years to improve Australia's solar resource data.

The document was launched at an event today which included presentations by Federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson, the CSIRO, the Australian Solar Institute and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Mr Warren said that although the Federal Government's $1.5 billion Solar Flagships program would help to put Australia on the map, it was critical that state and federal governments began working with the industry now to create a favourable policy and investment environment.

"There are solid funding commitments from state and federal governments, but very little money has made it into projects on the ground yet," he said. "The critical thing is to get projects built so that we can develop local skills and expertise. This will enable us to learn and innovate, identifying ways to bring the technology down in cost while increasing its effectiveness.

"Australian solar technologies are being rolled out across the world but locally we're not getting the jobs and other economic benefits that come with these major projects. Figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance show that around $41.7 billion was invested in clean energy in the second quarter of 2011 alone, but we haven't done enough to attract these investment dollars to Australia.

"We need to look at new industries beyond the mining sector that can increase our national productivity and help to power the slower half of our current two-speed economy. The next five years are crucial if Australia is to harness its most famous resource, the sun, and once again lay claim to the title of the clever country," Mr Warren said.

Key actions for governments in the next five years include:

  • Create a stable policy environment to facilitate investment in large-scale solar projects
  • Clearly plan a pipeline of large-scale solar projects required by 2020, 2030 and 2050 in order to achieve cost reductions and build local capacity.
  • Secure long-term sustainable funding for project deployment
  • Provide sufficient support for off-take agreements
  • Develop preconditions for program participation
  • State government support for land acquisition and licensing frameworks, streamlined planning processes and revenue subsidies
  • Facilitate grid connection
  • Improving the quality and quantity of solar resource data

More information can be found at

State blows its chance to generate clean energy

8 September 2011, Page: 33

I'VE written about some wacky government decisions in my time, but none so great as the Victorian brain explosion over wind farms. This policy is tantamount to banning wind farms from a state that seems to rejoice in the dirtiest forms of power generation while reviling the most viable form of clean energy. It may kill an industry that had promised to energise local economies and their property markets in the state's southwest. The policy has been inspired by small numbers of noisy NIMBYites who fantasise all kinds of horrors from wind turbines, including health issues and decimation of property values, the lack of evidence notwithstanding.

The measures originate from the state election campaign late last year, during which the Liberal Party promised to constrain the emerging wind farm industry. Some of the country folk, it seems, don't like the look of these newfangled gizmos. It's not uncommon for political parties to promise big pre-election and deliver small after the votes have been counted. The Liberals in Victoria have done something quite rare. They've gone even further than the election promises.

They've banned wind farms completely from some areas of the state, including the Macedon Ranges, the Mornington Peninsula and the Yarra Ranges. The state government has also prohibited wind turbines within 5km of specified regional towns. The kicker is the veto power it gives to property owners. Residents can scuttle wind farm developments close to their homes by refusing to give written permission. I've seen these restrictions described as the most stringent for wind farms in Australia. But they're more than that. They're the most stringent restrictions on anything in Australia. I'm not aware of residents having the right of veto over any other form of development, anywhere in the nation.

Why this extraordinary antagonism towards wind power? And why the lack of action on other facilities that really do pose a risk to communities? In Victoria's Latrobe Valley, residents of towns such as Morwell and Traralgon live under the permanent shroud created by the outpourings from coal-fired power stations. In suburban Melbourne, residents live in suburbs adjacent to a toxic waste dump and have been protesting for years without any government sympathy.

In Cranbourne in Melbourne's southeast, residents had to be evacuated because of the toxic fumes from another waste facility that sits next to family homes. At least they got some justice not from government, mind you, but from the Supreme Court of Victoria, which delivered a $23.5 million settlement in favour of residents who mounted a class action.

If a government wanted to give residents a power of veto, it might consider the plight of residents who live next to those kinds of toxic facilities. We live in a country where resources companies are allowed to drill for coal seam gas in inner-city suburbs, but something as inoffensive as a wind farm can be vetoed by a single disaffected resident. The cynic in me believes the real issue with the wind farm controversy in rural areas is that landowners who are well-paid to have turbines on their land are in favour and miraculously suffer no health consequences but those who miss out on the money develop grievances and illnesses.

The imagined horrors caused by wind farms have created a form of mass hysteria. Here's one comment from a resident in rural South Australia about a proposed development: "We are concerned about our health, how it could affect land values and noise". What health issues, given that no one has established any link between wind turbines and health problems? Does anyone have any evidence that wind farms affect land values? And, as for noise, I've stood beneath turbines with blades rotating in the breeze and haven't heard anything other than the sound of the wind.

The saddest thing is that wind farms offer a genuine alternative to the polluting power stations of Victoria during this time of climate change debate. At the same time, they can generate significant economic activity, creating income for landowners, jobs for local workers, spending in local businesses and demand for real estate. The Clean Energy Council says the policy will result in $3 billion in lost investment in Victoria. "The setback the government was talking about would reduce investment in wind power in Victoria by 50-70%", it says.

The billion-dollar Macarthur wind farm already under way in southwestern Victoria is boosting the economy of nearby Portland because the seaside town has an engineering business that manufactures the towers for the wind turbines. It employs hundreds of people and half of them specialise in making wind farm towers. Yes, they actually manufacture things at a time when Australian manufacturing is down. It's one of the reasons real estate values have remained strong in Portland at a time when we keep hearing about falling markets around Australia. It would be a shame if Victoria's ill-considered wind farm policy snuffed out one of Australia's good news stories.

Terry Ryder is the founder of

Monday 19 September 2011

'Power giants to hit out at renewables'

8 September 2011, Page: 2

THE electricity industry was planning a "massive assault" to undermine government policies to promote billions of dollars worth of investment in wind farms and other renewable energy technologies, Greens senator Christine Milne has warned. Senator Milne's comments to a renewable energy conference in Brisbane this week coincide with a fresh call by Origin Energy for the government to reconsider the timing of its target of 20% renewable energy by 2020. Meeting the mandatory renewable energy target is expected to drive a frenzy of investment in renewable energy between 2015 and 2020 but Origin Energy boss Grant King said it was unlikely to meet a key aim of promoting a range of technologies.

This was because development of geothermal energy had been slower than expected and wind turbines continued to enjoy a cost advantage over large-scale solar. New curbs of wind farm developments in Victoria and possibly NSW could make solar more attractive but they would raise the cost of meeting the 2020 renewable energy target, Mr King said. Calling on the renewable energy sector to speak out, Senator Milne said an electricity industry backlash threatened many of the so-called "complimentary measures" negotiated by the Greens to secure their support for the federal government's carbon tax that will be introduced into federal parliament next week.

This includes the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which is designed to kick start investment in alternative energy projects. Mr King told The Australian his firm did not object to the renewable energy target but said policy interventions needed to be well designed. "It's worth at least asking the question; is it the best thing to hit 20% by 2020?" Mr King said. "If all of the mandatory renewable energy target is going to be met by wind it is debatable whether the scheme is meeting one of its original objectives, which was to encourage a variety of technologies". Origin Energy covers the full spectrum of electricity generation with big investments planned for coal seam gas and wind power.

Mr King has upset many in the sector by likening community concerns of coal seam gas to those that have led to a crackdown on planning policies covering wind farm developments. He said some environmental groups that had campaigned heavily against other forms of energy development had "overlooked the concern" regarding wind and "not supported that concern in the same way as they had on other projects". Mr King has previously suggested the 2020 target be pushed out to 2025. But he said it was unlikely that any change would be considered while the carbon tax was making its way through federal parliament. Wind power is currently the lowest cost option for electricity companies to meet their obligations under the mandatory renewable energy target.

Beijing praises emissions plan: China to adopt Australian model for pilot scheme

8 September 2011, Page: 7

AUSTRALIA'S proposed emissions trading scheme has won praise from Beijing, where it will be the model for one of six Chinese pilot schemes to be introduced in 2013. Jiang Kejun, head of the Chinese government's energy and environmental policy agency, said pilot carbon trading schemes currently being researched would trial different designs based on schemes from Australia, Europe and California. "So far we don't have a good idea what kind of model for emissions trading to implement in China, so they will take the six provinces and try different ways", he told The Age in Melbourne yesterday. "Some say what is happening in Australia is even better [scheme design] than in Europe, so in that sense Australia is leading".

Dr Kejun spoke yesterday at a Victoria University climate change conference, having been brought to Australia by the government's Climate Commission as the first of six international guests to report on steps overseas to reduce emissions. His visit came as miner Rio Tinto intensified its opposition to Australia's carbon pricing scheme, urging Prime Minister Julia Gillard to start again on carbon policy. Rio Tinto's Australian general manager David Peever said the government had not adapted to international changes since the failed Copenhagen climate talks of 2009, saying, "There must be, and is, a better way for Australia to make its contribution". The government will introduce legislation on Tuesday for a fixed carbon tax to start next year, evolving into an emissions trading scheme in 2015.

Dr Kejun from the National Development and Reform Commission's Energy Research Institute and a lead author with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gave evidence that China's emissions were increasing at an extraordinary rate, and that Beijing's five year economic plan included a framework aimed at slowing and eventually halting the growth. China's emissions have nearly tripled since 2000 as the developing country experienced an unprecedented period of economic growth. Some estimates suggest China may emit up to 30-40% more CO₂ than the US, the world's second largest emitter.

In response it was piloting emissions trading schemes in six provinces and cities. Each area would test a different design, varying in the size of the emissions limit imposed on business and the way in which emissions levels were monitored and verified. Dr Kejun said it was unlikely China would move from pilot programs to a full national trading scheme by 2015 as some analysts had speculated. He said China's emissions level could peak by 2025 earlier than government modelling suggestions that it would continue to rise until 2030.

The five-year plan released this year includes a commitment to limit national energy consumption by 2015, and targets to cut national energy intensity and carbon intensity. Other targets include 11.4% of energy coming from non-fossil fuel sources and increasing forest area by 12.5 million hectares. A carbon tax is being considered. The wind power industry was projected to top 150 GWs capacity by 2020, up from earlier projections of 30 GWs. But China also continues to build dozens of coal plants a year, partly because it is replacing small, inefficient plants. Dr Kejun said the combination of an energy consumption cap and a renewable energy target added up to "almost a CO₂ cap".

Unilever's cold war on emissions

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
6 September 2011, Page: 9

Unilever is assessing the energy emissions of its 60,000 Streets freezers, as part of its obligations under the 10% Challenge. The idea of NSW Australian of the Year John Dee, the challenge-which is also being ratified by Intercontinental Hotel Group, Beacon Lighting, Bayer, News Limited, Sensis, Toshiba, Bunnings, Toyota, Visy, Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the City of Sydney-requires firms to lower their greenhouse gas emissions by 10%. The chief executive of Unilever's operations in Australasia, Sebastian Lazell, said, "it makes sense for cost reduction, for the bottom line and for our responsibility for the environment". Greg Medcraft, chairman of ASIC, said, "these sustainability projects offer direct costs savings through improved efficiency".