Friday, 19 May 2006

It's an ill wind ...

Sydney Morning Herald, Page: 14
Friday, 19 May 2006

Enemies in high places and activists with nuclear links have taken the puff out of clean energy, writes Wendy Frew.

IT WAS May 2004 and John Howard was looking for an exit clause. A Federal Government scheme to kick-start Australia's renewable energy industry had proved successful beyond anybody's expectations. Wind, the cheapest and most viable source of renewable energy,was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the mandatory renewable energy target. Giant wind turbines were sprouting all over the country, turbine blade and engine manufacturers were setting up shop, and cash was pouring in from foreign and domestic investors.

It seemed Australia was finally tackling its greenhouse gas emissions by getting some clean electricity. But not everyone was happy with the mandatory target. Leaked minutes from a meeting in the chilly confines of Canberra's political corridors show the Prime Minister had called on some of Australia's biggest contributors to global warming – including the coal and uranium miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton – to help the Government devise away to pull the rug from under the wind industry, but still be seen to be tackling climate change.

Two years on, it has become clear just how deadly that meeting was for windpower. The Government's refusal to extend the mandatory target has left hundreds of renewable energy projects unable to secure contracts. One developer last week cancelled two wind farm proposals worth $550 million, while the future of another $250 million project is in doubt. The Australian Wind Energy Association says as much as $12 billion worth of proposed wind farms is at risk. On top of that, the Government has tried to kill wind farm projects in Victoria and Western Australia and has called on state governments to sign a development code that would give local councils the power to veto wind projects because of community opposition – something that does not apply to new coalmining ventures.

The political bun fight over wind is matched by what appears to be a grassroots battle to stop giant wind turbines being built in rural areas. Resident groups are fighting their case in the media and on the internet. At a time of near unanimous scientific agreement that large greenhouse gas cuts must be made soon to avoid dangerous changes in world weather patterns, how is it that wind has become a dirty word? Environment groups say it is all tied up with Federal Government reluctance to impose any kind of cost on fossil fuel industries and its desire to sell more uranium to nuclear weapons states such as China and India. They say it is no coincidence that wind –which could in time be a strong, clean competitor to fossil fuels – is being demonised while nuclear power is being promoted as a solution to global warming.

But nuclear energy is no solution to climate change, says Greenpeace Australia Pacific's chief executive, Steve Shallhorn. "The Federal Government and nuclear industry are trying to force a false choice: polluting coal or expensive nuclear power. Yet safe, clean alternatives exist," Shallhorn says. "Even if there was a doubling of global nuclear energy output by 2050 it would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent."

In the increasingly politicised realm of energy policy, the decision by the federal Environment Minister, Ian Campbell, last month to scuttle a wind farm proposed for Bald Hills in Victoria's South Gippsland looks highly unusual. Campbell said a consultant's report on risks to the endangered orange-bellied parrot had forced him to reject the development. "I understand that this will be a disappointing outcome for the proponents of the wind farm but it is very clear tome from reading this report that every precaution should be taken to help prevent the extinction of this rare bird," he said.

But research by The Age found the bird had rarely flown near the Bald Hills site and the Government's consultant concluded banning the wind farm would do little to save it. Those who oppose the project are happy with Campbell's intervention. Among them is the discredited British environmentalist David Bellamy. In late 2004, at the height of the campaign against the Bald Hills project, Bellamy visited the area to support the antiwind cause. "It's the last place on earth you'd contemplate building them," he said during a visit to the South Gippsland town of Foster, paid for and organised by Channel Nine's 60 Minutes. "Think of the damage they are doing, and for no return at all," he said.

Not long before his visit to Australia, Bellamy said man-made global warming was a myth and wind power was not a renewable source of energy. It is misleading claims such as these and connections with anti-wind campaigners overseas that have raised suspicions about Australia's anti-wind activists. The Australia Institute's Clive Hamilton believes the sprouting of local opposition groups is not entirely spontaneous. "I believe there is a network of anti-wind activists associated with climate change sceptics who are fuelling the fires of local opposition," he says.

Research by the Herald shows that a loose association of anti-wind farm groups that goes by the names of Landscape Guardians or Coastal Guardians relies heavily for its information and campaign tactics on overseas groups that have been linked to the nuclear power industry. The forerunner of the anti-wind farm pressure group was Britain's Country Guardians, established by Sir Bernard Ingham, a spin doctor for former the British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

He is a director of Supporters of Nuclear Energy. He was also a paid consultant to the British nuclear group BNFL. Two British groups, Stop Windfarms in Moray and No Whinash Windfarm, have been caught out by Britain's Advertising Standards Authority for making misleading and unsubstantiated claims about wind power. Similar inaccurate statements can be found on Australian in NSW websites. The latest anti-wind hot spot in NSW is Lake George,where a company called Capital Wind wants to build 63 massive turbines. William Hoorweg and his partner, Julie Gray,who own a property about 2.1 kilometres from the nearest proposed turbine, are worried about the prospect of having Australia's biggest wind farm nearby. They will not be able to see the 125-metre turbines from their home but they do not accept the developer's assurances they will not be able to hear them, and they believe the turbines could cause bush fires.

They told the Herald the project was a "sham" because when the wind did not blow the developer would have to buy electricity from the grid. Gray also says the turbines will leak electricity. Neither statement is correct. Like many others, Hoorweg and Gray believed Bellamy's spin about wind energy. They also listened to Paul Miskelly, a member of Taralga Landscape Guardians, a group based near Goulburn. Miskelly says wind farms are inefficient and will destabilise the electricity grid because of fluctuations in wind. He is also upset by "the sure knowledge that wind turbines will do nothing for the environment". Miskelly,who says he is worried about what the proposed wind farm at Taralga will do to the value of the vineyard he owns nearby,worked for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation for 32 years and has given lectures to community groups about nuclear power.

The dubious scientific and environmental claims made by some anti-wind campaigners do not mean there are not valid reasons to object to wind farms. Towering at heights equivalent to 30-storey buildings, and requiring major roadworks and construction, it is no surprise they are not always welcome in scenic rural areas. The secrecy that often surrounds offers made by developers to some landowners has also caused deep rifts in some rural communities. The NSW Greens' renewable energy spokesman, John Kaye, says wind power can make significant cuts to Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. "But that doesn't mean every project is good or that every developer is good," he says. "These people are in it to make a buck, like everyone else, and sometimes they ride roughshod over community concerns." Kaye says the key is ensuring everyone in a community benefits, not just property owners who sell or lease land to wind farm operators.


MYTH: Wind power is inefficient and has to be backed by base load power.
TRUTH: Wind turbines convert as much as 45 per cent of the kinetic energy in wind into useable electricity. In contrast, coal-fired power stations convert only 30-40 per cent of the energy in coal into useable electricity. The electricity grid in Australia has back-up capacity. Wind power could supply as much as 20 per cent of the country’s electricity without the need to build additional back-up.
MYTH: Wind turbines are fans that dry the atmosphere, break up clouds and chase rain away.
TRUTH: There is no scientific evidence for this. Wind farms only capture energy from existing winds; they do not create wind like a fan.
MYTH: There is no point trying to replace fossil fuel energy with wind energy. Instead,we should cut our energy demand.
TRUTH: We should use less energy. But even with very large reductions in energy use to tackle climate change we would still need to replace some proportion of fossil fuel energy with renewable energy. It is not an either/or situation.
MYTH: Wind power is unreliable and can’t be stored. Fossil fuels must take up the slack.
TRUTH: There is no effective way to store large amounts of electricity, regardless of whether it comes from coal or wind. All energy technologies have periods when they are not available. These periods are built into the pricing for the technology. If we locate wind farms in different places and don’t see them as the total solution, we can manage fluctuations in wind.
MYTH: Wind power becomes less cost-effective the higher its contribution to overall energy demand. Beyond 10 per cent it is uneconomical.
TRUTH: Denmark gets 20 per cent of its electricity from wind power and doesn’t seem to have any problems.

Source: Dr Chris Riedy, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney.

Campaign to discredit wind blows to NSW

Sydney Morning Herald, Page: 3
Friday, 19 May 2006

A VICTORIAN campaign aimed at discrediting wind power that has links to prominent climate change deniers and the British nuclear industry, has spread to NSW. Tactics used by anti-wind farm activists in Victoria - including making misleading statements about wind energy - are being copied by some groups in NSW. Research by the Herald has found that a loose association of anti-wind farm groups in Victoria that goes by the name of Landscape Guardians, or Coastal Guardians, relies heavily for its information and tactics on the British anti-wind farm pressure group, Country Guardians. That group was set up by Sir Bernard Ingham, press secretary to Margaret Thatcher when she was prime minister.

Sir Bernard is now a director of Supporters of Nuclear Energy, and a former consultant to British Nuclear Fuels. Coastal Guardians Victoria has also worked closely with the now discredited British botanist, David Bellamy, who believes climate change is a myth. He visited Victoria's South Gippsland in 2004 to campaign against wind farms. The spokesman for Coastal Guardians of Victoria, Tim Le Roy, said he was not worried people would get the wrong idea about his group's connection with Mr Bellamy and Country Guardians and their links to the nuclear industry.

"I think the wind industry and its proponents have done the nuclear industry the greatest favour they could have asked for, " he said. He believed wind energy would not help cut greenhouse gas emissions generated by energy generation. Mr Le Roy said he had "a fairly open mind about climate change" and added people in Victoria were right to be angry about wind power because the Bracks Government had caved in to developers and ignored community concerns. "If these windmills were doing any good it would mitigate the concerns.

"Mr Le Roy said wind power would not work because it needed back-up power (the national electricity grid is, in fact, already served by back-up power); green groups were split over wind power (all of Australia's major environment groups support wind power); and that wind turbines did not work because they could not store electricity. However, there is no effective way to store large amounts of electricity, regardless of whether it comes from coal or wind, say energy experts. In NSW, one of the groups using the Landscape Guardians moniker is based in the village of Taralga. Its members are challenging a local wind farm project in the Land and Environment Court.

Their president, Paul Miskelly, worked for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation for 32 years and has given talks on nuclear power.

Acciona seeks Newfield wind farm group

The Cobden Times, Page: 6
Wednesday, 17 May 2006

Acciona Energy, the international renewable energy company behind the proposed Newfield wind farm, is calling on members of the community to be a part of a community reference group. The reference group would represent various viewpoints on the wind farm proposal and provide a focus for community input. The Spanish company confirmed two months ago it would lodge an application for a $45 million wind farm in Newfield to Corangamite Shire Council by August. Under current land use planning controls, a wind farm proposal under 30 megawatts means local councils are the responsible authority to approve the project rather than Planning Minister Rob Hulls.

Acciona Energy managing director Brett Thomas said community consultation would be undertaken throughout the planning process. "We are committed to working in partnership with the community to ensure everyone has an opportunity to find out about the project and provide comments," he said. The proposed site is located along Newfield Ridge, eight kilometres south east of Timboon and east of the Timboon-Port Campbell Road. The proposal includes about 15 turbines which Mr Thomas said would generate enough green electricity for 28,000 people.

He said the company had already been talking to members of the community and contracted independent consultants GHD to survey locals for the project's social impact assessment(SIA). Mr Thomas said a survey of 140 locals from Newfield, Timboon and Port Campbell was conducted recently and a full report on the SIA results would be made available to the public soon, The SIA has helped us to prepare a consultation strategy which incorporates suggestions from the community, such as setting up a Community Reference Group to provide direct input to the project," he said.

For more information on the Newfield wind farm, or to register your interest in the Community Reference Group, call the Project Information Desk on 1800 636 187 or email Expressions of Interest will be received until June 2.

Speaker addressed issues of energy alternatives

Lithgow Mercury, Page: 5
Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Forty Lithgow and Blue Mountains residents attended a workshop presented by the Lithgow Environment Group Greens at the Lithgow Workmens Club. Participants discussed ways of averting a climate catastrophe while also generating more jobs and making Australia a wealthier nation. Dr John Kaye, a university academic and energy and environment expert, led the workshop. He is also a Greens NSW Upper House candidate at the 2007 state election.

"Climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities is the greatest challenge facing Australia and the world," Dr Kaye said. "If we do not reduce our use of fossil fuels like the burning of coal to produce electrical energy, the planet risks a very grim future, including prolonged droughts, food shortages and the spread of disease. "Australia is the highest per capita producer of greenhouse gases." Burning coal and gas to generate electricity accounts for 35 per cent of Australia's emissions.

"The good news is that it is possible to halve those emissions by 2040 using a combination of renewable energy sources and improving energy efficiency."efficiency." Technologies such as wind energy, direct solar heating of water and bio-electricity using crop residues are already available and with small improvements would be highly competitive with coal. "These technologies are not only good for the climate but would generate more jobs and improve Australia's balance of payments." For example, investing in wind generation could generate four times the number of jobs as spending the same amount of money on coal generation.

"If the Lemma government goes ahead with a new 1500 MW coal fired power station at Mt Piper which would cost $2 billion, $1.5 billion would be spent overseas and only $0.5 billion in Australia." The same amount of money spent on wind generation could result in $1.6 billion being spent on Australian industry with only $0.4 billion going overseas.

"A clean green future would save the environment, generate jobs and help with our national balance of payments," Dr Kaye said. "Workshop participants left with a sense of needing to spread the message and put pressure on our local, state and federal representatives to make the big switch to a sustainable, jobs rich future," Ariel Elliott, coordinator of the Lithgow Environment Group, said.

Going green

Superfunds, Page: 5
Wednesday, 17 May 2006

Vision Super and Industry Funds Management (IFM) have announced their investment in Victoria's newest wind farm facility south-east of Melbourne. The 12-megawatt facility at Wonthaggi is expected to produce approximately 34,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually. This equates to annually cutting greenhouse gas emissions by around 45,000 tonnes compared to fossil fuel power generation. According to Vision Super's chair of investments Tony Tuohey the fund is very happy with its investment in green energy and expects it to produce solid returns over the long-term.

"It is definitely a bonus to us when our members' investment needs are also matched by a positive contribution in the fight against global climate changes," he says. Industry Funds Management, which is wholly owned by nine industry superannuation funds, made a dramatic advance in its investments in the renewable energy sector last year when it acquired Pacific Hydro. The firm is a leading provider of wind and hydro electric power with assets in Australia, Chile, the Philippines, Fiji and, most recently, North America.

Wind farms on agenda

The Examiner, Page: 6
Wednesday, 17 May 2006

Energy Minister David Llewellyn will meet Industry Minister lan Macfarlane on Friday to discuss the future of wind farms in Tasmania. The meeting comes less than a week after renewable energy company Roaring 40s decided to shelve a $300 million Heemskirk wind farm earmarked for the West Coast. All other wind farm developments in Australia by the company will also be put on hold because of the Federal Government's renewable energy policy. The renewable energy sector wants the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target bumped up from 2 per cent.

Mr Llewellyn will fly to Darwin for the energy ministers' conference on Friday and petition Mr Macfarlane about the incentives for wind farm development.

Wind farm training for East Timorese

The Advocate, Page: 14
Wednesday, 17 May 2006

SEVEN East Timorese construction workers will stay on the Coast and work on Circular Head's Studland Bay wind farm as part of a Hazell Bros training program. Managing director Geoffrey Hazell said the seven men would get to work with equipment and machinery that was not available in East Timor. "The opportunity for these workers to experience such a project in terms of size and complexity, including roads, concreting and electrical work, is currently unavailable in East Timor, and this experience will be invaluable, " he said. The men will work in Tasmania for up to six months.

Hazell Bros was involved in construction work in East Timor from 2000 to 2003 as part of the country's rehabilitation.

Power push burns Blair

Melbourne MX, Page: 10
Wednesday, 17 May 2006

Prime Minister Tony Blair has angered the environmental movement by pushing for new nuclear power plants in Britain to ensure energy supplies. Blair said nuclear energy and renewables were "back on the agenda with a vengeance" after he received the first draft of an energy review by the government, to be published in July. Renewables are constant sources of energy like wind, water and solar power. "Essentially the twin pressures of climate change and energy security are raising energy policy to the top of the agenda in the UK, " Blair said.

"The facts are stark. By 2025, if policy is unchanged, there will be a dramatic gap on targets to reduce CO2 emissions."

Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Push for green power

The Adelaide Advertiser, Page: 39
Tuesday, 16 May 2006

MORE incentives are needed to lift investment in green power despite a 229 per cent jump in clean energy projects last year, the Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy said. Its recently released Clean Energy Report 2006 says in 2005, 1008 megawatts of clean energy projects were begun, compared with 306MW in 2004. Council executive director Ric Brazzale said while this was a sign of growing confidence in putting money into the sector, last week's Federal Budget was a missed opportunity. "The delay in pricing greenhouse emissions is creating barriers to investment into cleaner energy and consigning our growing greenhouse liability to future generations to deal with when times may not be so buoyant, " he said.

One of the authors of the Clean Energy report, Sarah Morton, said regulatory changes were the key driver for change. "Government programs such as the (Federal Government's) Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, the NSW Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme and Queensland's Gas Energy Certificate Scheme have been instrumental in driving new investment, " Dr Morton said. "For example, wind power capacity is now on track to achieve nearly 1000MW. "Much of this has been confined to South Australian, which will soon have 15 per cent of its power from renewables when only five years ago it was virtually zero.

"Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell said last week the decision was made two years ago that MRET was achieving its objectives and the target should not be changed.

Wave power fuels prototype

The West Australian, Page: 51
Tuesday, 16 May 2006

London-listed Renewable Energy Holdings plans to spend up to $6 million building a commercial prototype wave power generator after successful trials of the groundbreaking invention off Fremantle. REH chief executive Mike Proffitt said the so-called CETO unit, invented by WA businessman Alan Burns, had produced both electricity and fresh water, proving that the concept worked. The company would now push ahead with design and engineering for a medium-scale trial using multiple units that it hoped would be in the water by the end of 2007, before moving on to a commercial-sized plant, he said. "People will then be able to get more comfortable with the technology, see it in action, and then that working unit will be the basis of the business and marketing plan going forward," he said.

Mr Proffitt said REH, which is listed on London's Alternative Investment Market and whose shareholders include Australian renewable energy group Pacific Hydro (14 per cent) and Perth-based venture capital company Carnegie Corporation (8 per cent), had funding already in place for the next stage of the CETO development. The CETO unit, which is the first wave power generator to sit on the seabed, unlike other floating or semi-submersible versions of the technology, is like a giant foot pump that uses the power and movement of waves to force highly pressurised sea water to shore through a small pipe. Once on shore the pressurised water can be used to drive a turbine generator, or it can be pushed through a reverse osmosis filter to produce fresh water. More than $5 million has been spent in the research and development phase since the wave power machine was invented by Mr Burns in 1999. Mr Burns, REH's technical director and chairman of Carnegie and oil and gas group Hardman Resources, said commercialising the technology would not require a super-sized unit but would rely on installing banks of units connected together.

Mr Burns said the company had already earmarked a possible site west of Garden Island where a bank of units could produce between 300MW and 1300MW of power and 330 megalitres a day of fresh water. "An array of converters out the back of Garden Island could produce all we need," he said. "The south-west coast of WA is one of the world's most active oceans for wave energy. "We have the Saudi Arabia of wave energy here in WA."

The energy in waves is estimated to be 100 times denser than other forms of renewable energy such as wind or solar and wave energy has become increasingly popular in the growing worldwide push for renewable energy projects. Wave energy development began in the 1970s and the market is now moving into pre-commercial trials. Seven companies globally have installed wave energy systems which are producing small amounts of electricity in Scotland, Portugal and Hawaii. Mr Burns said wave energy was more predictable than wind and even 10cm waves were enough to generate electricity.

Wind tower damage reward offered

Gippsland Times and Maffra Spectator, Page: 5
Friday, 12 May 2006

A REWARD of $5000 has been offered by Synergy Wind Pty Ltd for information regarding damage to a wind speed monitoring tower on a proposed wind farm site. Between January 2 and 5 someone entered the Devon North property and cut down a 30 metre wind tower, causing $35,000 worth of damage. Equipment belonging to Synergy Wind worth $10, 000 was also stolen. Sale Police have continued to investigate the crime and is appealing for anyone who has further information to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Sale CIU or, 5144 2244.

Booby in peril as laws ignored

The Australian, Page: 5
Monday, 15 May 2006

THE federal Government has sidestepped its own environmental laws to build a $336 million detention centre on Christmas Island, despite the facility being nestled between pristine rainforest and national parkland which is home to an endangered Australian bird. The local community has voiced concerns about the project's impact on the Abbott's booby, a bird that breeds only in the island's rainforest. There have also been claims that building work has cut off a red-crab migration route. It is believed some of the crabs, which are also found only on the island 2630km north of Perth, have been killed by heavy machinery.

The site of the 800-bed Immigration Reception and Processing Centre lies next to the prime habitat of the Abbott's booby, which is listed as critically endangered by Birds Australian. Also on the list is the orange-bellied parrot, which was used as justification for halting moves to build a wind farm in Victoria. Despite the centre's proximity to the birds, the Government has exempted itself from complying with the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. While the legislation was not being followed, a spokeswoman for Environment Minister Ian Campbell said the centre was being constructed in accordance with an environmental management plan that would ensure the Abbott's booby was not affected.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Finance and Administration, which is acting as project manager, said the department was not involved in the process that resulted in the exemption from the act. But the department refused to release an environmental study of the ecosystem to The Australian because it was "a work in progress". In a previous plan to boost numbers of the booby, the federal Environment and Heritage Department said all construction staff should be briefed before starting work to minimise the impact on the birds. "Construction of the facility and road upgrade may remove nesting trees and add to the wind turbulence caused by man-made forest openings, that causes nesting failure, " the report said.

Renewable energy is worthy of investment

The Examiner, Page: 14
Monday, 15 May 2006

t seems ironic that on one hand the Federal Government is pushing Australians to embrace new alternatives to petrol to ease the burden of rising fuel prices, yet when it comes to other energy areas it seems to stick its head in the sand. Acting Prime Minister Mark Vaile has talked up biofuels as a viable and cheaper alternative to petrol, with ethanol the most likely source of the fuels. He says consumers should be demanding it because of benefits in price, health and the environment. Fair enough.

Yet this is the same Federal Government that has been less enthusiastic in other aspects of renewable energy, refusing to extend its Mandatory Renewable Energy targets, which would underwrite the viability of several clean-energy projects. Tasmania's wind farm developments are particularly reliant on such support and the Heemskirk wind farm proposed has been shelved. The Federal Government has argued that subsidising renewable energy developments in this way would see costs passed on to consumers in a variety of ways. Again, it's a short-sighted argument.

Plenty of private and taxpayer money is being invested in schemes to try to reduce the impact of existing greenhouse polluters. We pay for it somewhere down the line. As attempts are being made to at least face up to the impact of climate change - even if little seems to actually be achieved - a country like Australian should be doing its utmost to encourage clean energy development. The Government has boasted of our sound financial position, and the recent Federal Budget confirmed it.

Rather than sticking our head in the sand and merely finding ways of making something like coal power a bit cleaner, we should be doing our utmost to encourage energy generation that is clean from the start.

Summoning the energy

Sydney Morning Herald, Page: 10
Monday, 15 May 2006

WE KNOW that coal-generated electricity is bad for the environment, but apparently we do not care. That is the conclusion to be drawn from the Federal Government's lack of enthusiasm for new wind farms. The Government, and particularly the Environment Minister, Ian Campbell, have already drawn criticism for caving in to local opposition, and using the ludicrous pretence of saving the endangered orange-bellied parrot to veto a proposed wind farm in Victoria. Now another developer has warned the Government's opposition extends wider: it is dragging its feet on helping new wind farms set up.

Australian is uniquely placed to lead the world in alternative energy. It has an abundance of sunlight for solar power, a large coastline for wave energy and the space for wind farms. More importantly, it has the proven scientific and technical know-how to innovate. Australian has, for example, been a leader in developing photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight to electricity.

Renewable energy costs more than energy from traditional sources, but the cost is looking increasingly modest when experts talk seriously of a $US100 a barrel oil price - and increasingly urgent in a world growing steadily warmer. Since 2001, the Federal Government has required electricity suppliers to obtain 2 per cent of power for the FBA 010 national grid from renewable sources. That created a market which encouraged private firms to develop wind farms. So successful has the scheme been that the 2 per cent target has been reached - and the Government is unwilling to raise it.

Other countries are not so tardy. Germany aims to produce 12 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2010, Britain 10 per cent by 2010 and 20 per cent by 2020. Of course those countries do not have Australian's huge reserves of cheap coal. And there is the rub.

Generating energy from wind, though the cheapest renewable energy source, is still more expensive than burning coal. As the Government's policy has worked, the renewable energy industry has moved from being the dream of idealists to an everyday reality. It is now an industry like any other, with private firms competing to make profits, and running up against other community interests, including those of neighbouring landholders. That is not an ideal turning sour - it is simply the future becoming the present.

Some projects will be well-designed and run, and will succeed. Others will fail. That is not an argument against renewable energy: it is here to stay. It is time for the Federal Government to get behind it, and raise the target.

MRET policy 'stills wind farm plans'

Friday, 12 May 2006

Industry stymied: Roaring 40s says unless the MRET is lifted, renewable energy will not be used.

Tasmanian wind energy company wants the Federal Government to urgently review its policy on the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET). Roaring 40s is blaming its decision to stop work on its $300 million Heemskirk wind farm on the Tasmanian west coast, on the Federal Government's decision not to extend the MRET. However, it will go ahead with its Musselroe project in Tasmania's north-east. In 2004, the Government retained the MRET at 2 per cent.

This requires industries and electricity retailers to buy 2 per cent of their energy needs from renewable sources. Roaring 40s had been hoping the MRET would be extended, but managing director Mark Kelleher says time has run out. Mr Kelleher says with the MRET remaining unchanged, there is no incentive for electricity retailers to buy wind energy, making Heemskirk non-viable. "That's it in the end.

Its disappointing that the potential for Tasmania to be a world class icon for renewable energy with its hydro power and three great world class wind farms. none of that can happen for the time being," he said. Australian Greens' Senator Bob Brown believes the Federal Government has no understanding of renewable energy. The Greens' policy requires an MRET of 10 per cent.

Senator Brown says Roaring 40s is being severely disadvantaged, and Tasmania is much the poorer for it. "This extraordinary mismanagement of renewable energy, including wind farms, by the Federal Government is heightened by the Budget we've just seen," he said. "Billions of dollars flowing all over the place but they're cutting the rug right from under both wind power and solar power in this country at a time when global warming is stalking the whole planet." Tasmanian Energy Minister David Llewellyn says the Federal Government is preventing the state from engaging in a full program of wind energy generation.

BBW to use funds for more wind energy assets

The Age, Page: 4
Saturday, 13 May 2006

JUST one day after Roaring 40s, a company owned by Hydro Tasmania and China Light and Power, abandoned $550 million in Australian wind power investments, Babcock & Brown Wind Partners has raised $118.6 million. The funds were raised at valuations 5¢ above BBW's $1.55 share price before it went into a trading halt on Wednesday to clear the decks for the equity raising.

The last trading price was just above the low point of a long slide from the end of March, when it announced a deal to buy 22 megawatts of wind generation in France. Babcock completed a bookbuild on Thursday night and announced yesterday morning that the offer had been well supported. BBW chief executive Peter O'Connell said there was strong support from a range of institutional investors "across the globe". The overseas support demonstrates the demand in US and European markets for wind assets.

Wind power as an energy source is gaining strong support in many countries, where governments mandate a growing component of renewable energy in national power grids. The Victorian Government is looking at introducing its own renewable energy scheme, which would underpin further development in this state.

Green group just keeps on growing

The Advocate - Daylesford Hepburn Shire Edition, Page: 7
Wednesday, 10 May 2006

THE Hepburn Renewable Energy Association has more than 200 members helping the environment. At its first annual general meeting recently, the association elected a committee of 10 people. Per Bernard, a Daylesford architect and president of the association said the 'group had been "blown away" by the support for the community effort. "This community is leading by example," Mr Bernard said.

"We're reducing our own greenhouse footprint and making our contribution to stopping climate change," he said. In a first for Australian, the new community wind park will be run as a co-operative with members of the community buying shares. Mr Bernard said as well as producing renewable energy, the association hoped to run energy saving programs in the local area. "There is so much work to do and the new committee members are all outstanding community people," he said.

Committee members Denise Dalton said the association was a wonderful idea from the start. "They've done a wonderful job so far and, after I went to see the wind turbines near Ararat, I thought I'd like to help as much as I can," she said. An information night is being planned for members of the local community to find out how the community wind park would be set up.

Major setback to West

The Examiner, Page: 10
Saturday, 13 May 2006

The West Coast community will miss out on millions of dollars worth of social and economic benefits now that the Heemskirk wind farm has been put on the backburner, according to West Coast Mayor Darryl Gerrity. Cr Gerrity said $30 million to $50 million was expected to be pumped into the regional economy, including about 120 jobs in construction. "It was going to give economic and social stability to the West Coast - it needs a bit of a boost," Cr Gerrity said yesterday. Renewable energy company Roaring 40s announced its decision to abandon the $300 million Heemskirk wind farm and a South Australian wind farm on Thursday.

The company blames the Federal Government's decision not to increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target from 2 per cent of total energy consumption. Company manager Mark Kelleher also cast doubt over the Musselroe wind development in the North-East and said this was the beginning of an industry cool-down. Cr Gerrity said most wind farms were in isolated regional areas where the community was struggling. Mr Kelleher said he was disappointed that the company had to pull out both in terms of the money it had invested and the community concerns.

"As well as being disappointing that Tasmania, with such wind resources, can't harness that, it's just disappointing that the jobs won't be there," he said. Australian Wind Energy Association chief executive Dominique La Fontaine said Roaring 40s' decision was unfortunately indicative of the challenges faced by the entire industry.

Wind taken out of State's renewable energy sails

The Examiner, Page: 15
Saturday, 13 May 2006

The warnings of the renewable energy industry have come true with the shelving of the $300 million Heemskirk wind farm proposal. Back in 2004 there was outrage at the federal government's refusal to increase its mandatory renewable energy targets, with industry warning that the decision would lead to millions of dollars of investment heading offshore. This week, Roaring 40s decided that without access to renewable energy certificates, its Heemskirk proposal and a similar proposal at Waterloo in South Australia would be unviable. The company also announced that it would wind back other developments around the country, putting the future of the $230 million musselroe bay wind farm on the east coast in doubt.

It comes as a devastating blow to Tasmania, which, of all states, prides itself on its use of clean, renewable energy. The loss of a $300 million development will also impact on the economy. Last month, leading economic forecaster bis shrapnel warned that engineering construction in Tasmania would slump sharply within three years as electricity generation projects wound up. Without Heemskirk, that slump could come much sooner.

Tasmanian economist Bruce Felmingham said the loss of just one wind farm meant the state would miss out on about 100-150 jobs and $200 million in gross state product."timing of this is now important as it is likely other investments will wind up, leaving the state with no replacements," he said. Suddenly, after what appeared to be a bright future for wind energy in Tasmania, the turbines of progress are grinding to a standstill. State energy minister David Llewellyn has every right to blame the federal government.

The Howard government's lack of support for renewable energy leaves a lot to be desired. It's an attitude born out of extreme short-sightedness and the considerable lobbying power of the coal industry."They (the federal government) have expressed a view they are effectively supporting the coal industry and they have chosen not to extend the MRET programme, which is a disappointment," Mr Llewellyn said. Environment minister lan campbell maintains that the federal government is supporting the industry with"hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars" over and above the $3 billion invested in the MRET scheme.

But it is clearly not making Australian attractive player on the world market. Demand for wind technology is booming in Asia, where Roaring 40s has significant investment opportunities."This isn't a tactical thing - we can't put more effort into this - we have got opportunities in other countries and we are going there," Roaring 40s managing director Mark Kelleher said."Obviously we would like to be doing more at our home base but we just can't get the projects up.

"The state government has said it will look into establishing its own subsidy for renewable energy developments, similar to that introduced in victoria. Any Tasmanian scheme would be second-rate to that offered nationally, and if companies can get better returns offshore, that's where they will go. The current MRET scheme costs about $3, or the cost of a cup of coffee, on an average domestic power bill. The federal government is quick to point out that increasing the target will cause a further increase, with large companies the hardest hit.

But with a $10.8 billion budget surplus, a further subsidy would be an investment in the environment and the future.

Monday, 15 May 2006

Pollution growing at a record rate

Herald Sun, 15may06

ATMOSPHERIC levels of carbon dioxide and some other greenhouse gases grew at record rates last year, a CSIRO scientist said today.

But some of the worst ozone-depleting gases in the atmosphere had showed a drop in the past eight years, Paul Fraser, from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, said. The results of the testing at the Cape Grim meteorological station in Tasmania will feature at a climate meeting in Sydney tomorrow.

Dr Fraser said carbon dioxide grew by two parts per million (0.54 per cent) in 2005, the fourth year in a row of above-average growth. "To have four years in a row of above-average carbon dioxide growth is unprecedented," Dr Fraser said.
"In addition, the trend over recent years suggests the growth rate is accelerating."

He said the 30-year record of air collected at the Cape Grim observation station showed growth rates of just over one part per million in the early 1980s but, in recent years, carbon dioxide had increased at almost twice this rate. "This is a clear signal that fossil fuels are having an impact on greenhouse gas concentrations in a way we haven't seen in the past," Dr Fraser said.

Synthetic greenhouse gases, including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), displayed a strong increasing trend.

Dr Fraser said the highest growth rate, a seven parts a 1000 billion or 5.3 per cent increase, was recorded in 2005. Nitrous oxide also showed an increasing growth rate, growing by about one part per billion, or 0.3 per cent, in 2005.
Dr Fraser said there was some good news for the atmosphere. "Concentrations of methane, the second most important gas responsible for the enhanced greenhouse effect, have not grown for six years," he said. "In fact, the past two years have shown slight decreases in methane, the first time we have seen this."

While the reason for decrease was not certain, Dr Fraser suggested it might be due to better management of the exploration and use of natural gas, leading to less leakage. There also was good news for the ozone hole. "Ozone depleting gases have been decreasing since 1997," Dr Fraser says. "The fall in concentrations has continued in 2005, so we have seen a decline in concentration of ozone-depleting gases for nine years now."