Friday, 30 March 2007

Novel run at wind farm

Esperance Express
Wednesday 28/3/2007 Page: 21

THE South East Runners' event last Thursday evening was held to help celebrate the Festival of the Wind.

Runners and walkers were set the task of making their way between the windmills at the 10-mile Lagoon Wind Farm in any course of their choosing. Each of the 15 windmills had a hole punch of a different decorative design, and competitors were required to punch a card as evidence that they had actually reached the correct number of windmills.

The shortest event required a visit to 4 windmills, the next being 9 windmills, and the longest event of course involved all 15, a distance of around 9km. The run and the scenery were superb, and this looks like being a regular event in the SER calendar.

There will not be a run next Thursday, with the next event being a cross-country run starting at 9am on Sunday morning at Lake Monjingup. BYO morning tea to share after the event.

Howard's punt is on the money

Sydney Morning Herald
Friday 30/3/2007 Page: 17

John Howard could not have chosen a more exquisitely churlish moment to truculently, almost exultantly, dismiss the idea of setting any targets for cutting Australia's output of the greenhouse gases thought to be responsible for global warming. It was on Wednesday afternoon during the Parliament's question time. Britain's Sir Nicholas Stern was in the building and waiting to meet the Prime Minister.

Stern is the author of the celebrated Stern report last year that said global warming "could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, later in this century and in the next, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century".

The front page of the Herald was reporting that Stern had arrived in Australia, asking that the country commit to mandatory targets to cut carbon emissions by 2020 to levels 30 per cent lower than those of 1990, and to cut by at least 60 per cent by 2050.

The Labor Party has supported a target of cuts of 60 per cent by 2050, although, crucially, it has failed to say how it proposes to achieve them. And Howard knew that Kevin Rudd is convening a so-called summit on climate change in Canberra tomorrow where Labor will parade its concern for the planetary future.

So with Howard under pressure from the rock star of climate change, Stern, and the rock star of Australian politics, Rudd, to commit to targets for cutting greenhouse emissions, what did he do? He told the Parliament: "I am not going to join the Australian Labor Party in destroying the jobs of Australian coalminers. I am not going to join the Labor Party in committing to targets which will do disproportionate damage to the Australian economy." Yesterday, at a press conference, he amplified this decision. It would be the easiest thing in the world, he said, for any politician to commit to anything by 2050, knowing he wouldn't be around to deliver.

A wag at the back of the press conference immediately shot back to Australia's second longest-serving prime minister: "Is that a commitment?" Howard, doing the mental arithmetic that puts him at the age of 111 in 2050, decided that this was one retirement deadline he could agree to, and said so.

Of course, Howard is right - it would be dead easy for him to match Labor's unsupported commitment to cut emissions by 60 per cent by the time the babies in the maternity wards today are buying their bright-red midlife-crisis hydrogen cell sports cars at the age of 43. So why won't he do it? Howard is no longer a sceptic about global warming. He now agrees it is a problem, and he has announced policies to try to address it. These include yesterday's decision to put $200 million towards an international fund to help poor countries better manage their forests, which are being stripped away at a rate that contributes 20 per cent of the world's annual carbon emissions.

But his chief aim is to frame this year's federal election as a referendum on economic management. He wants to be able to portray his Government as the reliable and trustworthy manager of a strong economy, and Labor as the party of dangerous neophytes, fiscal madmen and green fundamentalists. Of course, Howard is setting up a false dichotomy in the policy choices he portrays.

What sort of future does Howard think the Australian coal industry faces as the world gradually moves to an era of low emission energy? It will have no future at all.

It is stunning to see that the private equity consortium bidding for the big Texas power utility TXU has offered, as a condition of its $US45 billion bid, to cancel eight of the company's 11 planned coal-fired coal plants. Even to Wall Street raiders and Texan energy shareholders it is clear that coal has lost much of its legitimacy as a fuel.

How does Howard think he is helping the long-run growth of the economy by denying corporate Australia the certainty of a clear carbon policy? Every industry needs clarity on this. Even the leader of the global climate change sceptics, the US oil major Exxon Mobil, has abandoned scepticism, and is calling for the clarity of a framework of climate change policy.

Which sectors does Howard think will be the growth industries of the future? It's alternative fuels and energy-saving that will offer the great opportunities for growth, where the next century's BPs and Exxon Mobils will be found.

The Australian founder of a pioneering solar energy firm, Solar Heat and Power, has moved to California where the regulatory system encourages renewable energy.

So Howard's position is a policy nonsense. But he is putting his trust in cartoon-simple political caricatures for the election campaign. It's a big risk. We know from a Newspoll last month that 76 per cent of Australians think climate change is a major problem. And Labor is prepared to campaign on the issue - it is about to air a TV ad narrated by Peter Garrett pushing its global warming credentials.

Has Howard lost his fabled political nous? He is taking a calculated risk our concern about global warming is widespread but feebly felt. He is punting that it is not a vote-switching issue. The evidence is very sketchy, but it supports Howard's punt. Only 20 per cent of respondents to the Newspoll were prepared to "pay a lot more" for alternative energy sources.

And a poll by the market research firm Pollinate found a similar syndrome. Its director, Howard Parry-Husbands, says: "Seventy-five per cent of Australians are concerned, but understanding is very low at 40 per cent and the proportion prepared to change their behaviour over it is barely in double digits, 14 per cent." So Howard is talking global warming nonsense, but in the confident expectation that we don't care enough to call his bluff.

Solar flair sparks green revolution

Australian Financial Review
Friday 30/3/2007 Page: 60

In the 17 years since a popular uprising swept away the Soviet backed system, East Germany has turned its back on its mining past and become a centre for wind farms and alternative energy companies promoting solar power and biomass-based fuels. In the communist days there was never enough fuel so the easterners became resourceful. Now they're setting up the world's first factory to convert biomass to diesel, called SunDiesel.

Despite grey skies in winter Deutsche Solar is the world's biggest producer of solar wafers, exporting to Asia and Australia. By 2008 they plan to produce 12 percent of the world's solar wafers. The booming renewable energy sector has finally helped eastern Germany emerge from its post-communism economic gloom.

Upper House tightens Rann's greenhouse targets

Australian Financial Review
Friday 30/3/2007 Page: 57

The South Australian Government has been rebuffed by its opponents in the Upper House over its greenhouse gas emission targets. Premier Mike Rann says the 20 per cent cut by 2020 - which the Liberals had proposed last year - would be too hard to achieve, an opinion Opposition Leader Iain Evans does not share.

The Greens said the government had taken an 'extraordinary' position and a business as usual approach which would increase greenhouse pollution in SA over the next 10 to 15 years. Democrats member Sandra Kanck said there was no choice but to strengthen the bill and move to a low-carbon economy. She attacked the state's leading industry and commerce group, Business SA, as a 'greenhouse dinosaur' for opposing the interim target.

Tell PM: Kyoto only answer to climate woes

Adelaide Advertiser
Friday 30/3/2007 Page: 20

WE all know climate change is a global problem that needs global solutions. So the Federal Government's announcement of a $200 million fund for developing nations in the Asia-Pacific to reduce deforestation as a way to counter climate change should be just the ticket, right? Well, yes and no.

It is important to help our neighbours protect their forests, but it is also crucial that we ratify the Kyoto Protocol because that will do even more to help them tackle climate change. The remaining rainforests of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea are enormously important. They provide food, medicines and reliable clean water to thousands of forest-based communities. They are home to millions of unique birds, plants and animals.

Increasingly, these forests are also being valued by the developed world for the crucial part they play in regulating global carbon. The clearing and burning of tropical rainforests contributes about a quarter of annual global carbon dioxide emissions and this had been rising sharply in the Asia-Pacific region, identified as a "carbon hot spot" by the Global Carbon Project.

In Papua New Guinea, huge tracts of pristine rainforest are being cleared so single-species oil palm plantations can be established. In Indonesia, tropical peatlands are being drained and burned at such an alarming rate that it is adding two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year to our shared climate problem.

That's equivalent to nearly a tenth of the greenhouse gas emissions that are generated from burning coal, oil and natural gas. So, yes, a plan that promises to involve Australia in slowing the destruction of the world's forests and promoting sustainable forest management, as the Prime Minister's commits to, is worthy. But is it enough? No.

Another global effort exists to tackle global warming. It's called the Kyoto Protocol, which more than 150 countries have ratified. Only two developed countries have not: the U.S. and Australia. Through the Kyoto Protocol's "clean development mechanism", billions of dollars are being invested in renewable energy projects in nations such as Indonesia and China, helping them cut greenhouse pollution.

By not ratifying the protocol, we are missing out on huge investment opportunities helping countries that are struggling to meet their Kyoto targets. More than 500 projects, worth about $2.5 billion, are registered by developing counties under the mechanism. A further 1450 projects are in the pipeline between now and 2012.

This means Australian companies, many of which already have the expertise and the connections in these countries, are being denied access to more than $39 billion in investment opportunities simply because the Federal Government refuses to be part of the climate-change fight. Also, we should be ending logging in our own old-growth forests and making big cuts to Australia's greenhouse emissions.

And we could do much more to stop the scourge of illegal logging in countries to our north. To cut off the market that drives forest destruction, Australia should ban imports of illegally logged timber and support an effective timber certification scheme, so timber buyers can be confident the wood they buy comes from responsibly managed forests.

Former World Bank economist Sir Nicholas Stern said this week Australia should take up the challenge to cut greenhouse emissions by 30 per cent by 2020. This is a big challenge, but it is one Australia must address if we want to show the world we are serious about getting on top of climate change.

Don Henry is executive director of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

EU aims at big cuts
  • In early March, the 27 European Union countries committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU would increase this to 30 per cent if "international partners'' did likewise.
  • Days later, Tony Blair announced details of a new Climate Change Bill aimed at legally binding targets for the UK to cut CO2 emissions by 26 to 32 per cent by 2020.
  • Neither of the major federal parties in Australia has a target for reducing emissions by 2020.
  • Sir Nicholas Stern says the costs of acting worldwide on climate change are much less than the costs of inaction. "We don't start from a good place, but it's not too late," he says.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

BHP roll out desalination plans

Whyalla News
Monday 26/3/2007 Page: 3

BHP Billiton rolled out its plans for the Olympic Dam Expansion and a desalination plant at Point Lowly to residents at the Left Hand Club on Tuesday night. The plans were presented with an emphasis that it was a proposal and not a formal project.

But the need for a supply of fresh water for the expansion, the advanced nature of the plans and the imminent start up of a pilot plant run by Veolia, left little doubt that the project was full steam ahead. The expansion of Olympic Dam is dependent on a reliable supply of fresh water that is sustainable for the next 40 years. With the River Murray in trouble and the water in the Artesian Basin dropping, desalination seems the only viable alternative.

Point Lowly offers a number of unique features for a desalination plant, such as its proximity to Roxby Downs and a deep channel with good currents in the gulf to disperse the salty return water. The plan is to site the desalination plant opposite Santos at Point Lowly. Seawater would be gently drawn in from False Bay to minimise marine lire intake, filtered and put through a reverse-osmosis plant to create fresh water.

This water would be mineralised to make it useable and pumped north to Roxby Downs. For every three litres of water drawn in at False Bay (feedwater), one litre would be made into fresh water and the remaining saltier two litres (concentrate) would be oxygenated by passing it over waterfalls and discharged into the deep channel east of Point Lowly lighthouse.

If the plant works as projected, the oxygen rich concentrate should be rapidly dispersed in the deep channel reaching a concentration within 10 per cent of seawater 100 metres from the outlet, ensuring minimal impact on marine life. However, to be on the safe side, BHP Billiton is testing the effects of saltier water on various fish found in the gulf such as giant cuttlefish, Tiger and Western King Prawns, sardines, Yellow Tail Kingfish, sea urchin and Pacific oysters.

BHP Billiton also indicated that it intends to buy green energy from renewable sources such as solar or wind power to run the plant, thus reducing the carbon output into the atmosphere and minimising the global warming effects of this plant using renewable energy, this plant looks like a real environmental winner. It has a small environmental footprint and has the potential to reverse some of the environmental damage done by overuse of water in the past.

For Whyalla, this plant means a few more jobs but no water from the BHP Billiton side of the desalination plant. However, it was pointed out that, if SAWater were to join BHP Billiton and build a much larger desalination plant, then all of the water needs for Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Pirie could be supplied from this plant and water could be pumped in the reverse direction in the pipeline.

Using desalinated water in Whyalla is going to cost more but most people now realise that our ability to rely on the Murray River for cheap reliable water is far from certain and may be drawing to a close. This is an opportunity that our region should not let pass by and deserves community support. A reliable Water supply is the key to our future.

Festival has loads of energy

Great Southern Star
Tuesday 27/3/2007 Page: 14

THE Wonthaggi Energy Innovation Festival and Human Powered Vehicle Grand Prix is becoming one of those must-see events. In only its second year, the festival has quickly grown. Coordinator John Flanders said the weekend crowd was much bigger than last year. "It was a huge turnout:' Mr Flanders said.

He said the energy efficient house and Wonthaggi windfarm tours had been particular favourites. Among other innovative inventions were a bio-diesel car (which can run on vegetable oil), a wood-powered car and an electric car. Mr Flanders said the festival, like the environmental movement itself, can 'only grow'. The environment matters in people's lives. Business will follow. People want to do more and more. It was a really positive response;' Mr Flanders said.

The festival is seen to be part of a broader movement, where the environment has ceased to be merely a fringe issue. The Melbourne Sustainable Living Festival, which has similar themes, has continued to grow.

Also at the event were representatives from South Gippsland Water, who had water conservation displays and gave out free shower heads; environmental groups who were petitioning against genetically-modified crops; universities offering courses in environmental management; as well as a host of other groups interested in helping the Earth survive well into the next millennium.

Outside, in the streets near the Wonthaggi Recreation Reserve, 87 teams, most of them from schools, competed in the Human Powered Vehicle Grand Prix, in which there were thrills and spills aplenty.

Wonthaggi Secondary College maths teacher Glenn Sullivan said that aside from helping build the pedal-powered vehicle the school's team had used in the grand prix, working on the project had helped students with "team-building" skills. The school's vehicle was a sleek design, and it sped around the track in the 24 hour challenge.

The students were clearly excited by their invention and the engineering feat it represented. Some raced, while others preferred to help out in the pit stop. Former students, like Paul Forrest, had come back because it was 'fun' to help weld and design the cars.

Other competitors and designers, like Ben Goodall, manager of Tri Sled Human Powered Vehicles, had a sleeker design and better resourced vehicle. Some of the company's vehicles retail for $7000. Though, there is little doubt, Mr Goodall had much the same intention as the team from Wonthaggi Secondary College: to tear up the track and have fun.

Wind plan welcomed

Warrnambool Standard
Thursday 29/3/2007 Page: 12

PLANS for a 13 to 15-turbine wind farm near Purnim are expected to be lodged with Moyne Shire Council next month. At an information session held at the Purnim hall yesterday Wind Farm Developments revealed its plans for the proposed Drysdale Wind Farm.

The wind farm would be located on two separate properties, located between Purniin, Ballangeich and Cooramook. Each turbine would be up to 135 metres tall and the blades 50 metres long. The turbines would be placed about 400 to 600 metres apart. It was revealed the wind farm would produce electricity for as many as 17,000 households.

Managing director Alistair Wilson said a planning application for the wind farm would be lodged with the shire next month.

If the development was approved Mr Wilson said construction would take about six to nine months. He said energy generated by the turbines would be fed into the local transmission line and would supply electricity to local homes. Once the wind farm was built Mr Wilson said it would create two or three permanent jobs.

Between 40 and 50 people attended yesterday's information session. Mr Wilson said community members had been enthusiastic about the project. "The most common comment has been `Can I have some on my place?' he said. Framlingham resident John Drake, who also has a property at Ballangeich-Cooramook, said he wasn't worried about the project.

"I've got no real hassles with it," Mr Drake said. "I don't think there's any great objection. It's not as if there are hundreds of them." Nick Uleeson, of Ballangeich, said he had no objections to the wind farm. "I'm fairly open-minded. I don't see any disadvantages," he said.

Solar Roller

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 29/3/2007 Page: 18

Reducing your impact on the environment isn't so difficult at this one-stop shop.

When eco-converts start throwing around terms such as "carbon neutral", who can be blamed for switching off? But Sydneysiders who frequent Todae, a new store on Glebe Point Road, not only bypass confusing eco-buzzwords, they stumble on easy ways to reduce their impact on the planet.

Todae offers a team of eco-consultants who not only explain how solar- and wind-powered products work but also install them. "We test everything to see that it's not only planet- but user-friendly," explains the store's owner, Danin Kahn, whose own lifestyle appears ecologically pristine. The 30-year-old powers his laptop and mobile with a solar charger, drives a petrol/electric car, shuns a television set and powers both his house and business with 100 percent renewable wind energy. In other words, he's "carbon neutral".

But he doesn't ask customers, who range from "conscious city dwellers" to "retirees who want to give something back", to shun the trappings of 21st-century life: "Our aim is to make it simple for people to make a difference."

Shelves are stocked with organic cotton bedding, boots made from old tyres, textiles from the streets of Brazil, recycled paper, toxin-free paint and bestsellers such as shower timers and power-saving light bulbs.

A favourite with city dwellers is the handheld/portable Solio Universal Solar Charger, which can recharge a mobile or iPod or personal digital assistant without generating even a gram of CO2, or - for couch potatoes - a mains outlet with remote that allows you to turn off your TV or DVD at the power point by remote control.

Kahn, who also runs a website,, travelled to 43 countries on six continents - and, yes, offsetting his carbon emissions - before settling on the idea of an eco-store and website. "Australians as a whole are ecoconscious, although the Government is not very progressive. How many countries do you go to where so many people are using green bags in the supermarket?"

To have an immediate impact on the planet, he suggests switching to 100 percent renewable energy; using a shower timer to shave four minutes off the average eight-minute wash time and save up to 80 litres of water and one tonne of CO2 a year; driving smoothly to use 25 per cent less petrol; buying fresh foods rather than frozen to save up to 10 times the energy needed to produce the latter; and composting your food to reduce landfill and CO2.

Todae. 83 Glebe Point Road. Glebe. Phone: 9660 7166.

Future shock for farmers

Thursday 29/3/2007 Page: 6

Peak oil and climate change will change the face of agriculture for future generations of farmers. Both issues were high on the agenda at this year's WAFarmers young farmer conference.

Sustainable Transport Coalition deputy convenor David Worth told the conference that while the jury was out among different schools of thought on whether we had reached peak oil two years ago or were still 20 years away, as predicted by Shell, the gap between supply and demand would grow dramatically.

"The entire world assumes Saudi Arabia can carry everyone's energy needs on its back but there is no plan B," he said. Mr Worth said agriculture would be hit hard by surging oil prices, not only because of its dependency on diesel fuel but because of the use of crude oil in herbicides and fertilisers.

With operating oil wells in decline by five per cent annually, equating to four million barrels of oils a day, and new demand from China the outlook for oil prices and supply was bleak. "Discoveries of new oil areas peaked in 1960 and Australia peaked in 2000," he said. "We are growing two per cent per annum in terms of oil use, joining the list of about 60 other oil-producing countries.

"Last year Australia spent $25 billion on oil imports." Mr Worth said a pay-as-you-use car registration, biodiesel plants in regional communities and taxes on companies exporting Australian oil and gas to encourage them to sell gas locally would go some way to relieve the problem.

Badgingarra farmer Dale Park looked at ways for farmers to become part of the solution for global warming. "We in agriculture are often seen as part of the problem rather than part of the solution," he said.

"It's not good enough for us to say we are only a small part of the problem." Mr Park said Australian farmers needed to look at options such as wind power and to aspire to 40 per cent wind power generation. "As custodians of the land your permission is needed for wind power," he said. "Some farmers are getting two per cent of the gross of the power generated which is $10,000 to $15,000 per turbine in some cases."

British Land cuts carbon

Australian Financial Review
Thursday 29/3/2007 Page: 52

Europe's second-largest real estate investment trust, British Land, plans to invest 'millions of pounds' on energy-saving measures such as wind turbines and efficient windows. British Land will buy carbon offsets traded in energy markets to ensure it is carbon neutral within two years, the London-based company said. It is joining companies such as Marks & Spencer, the UK's largest clothing retailer, and UBS AG, Switzerland's biggest bank, in pledging to cut carbon usage.

Portugal buys into US energy

Thursday 29/3/2007 Page: 26

Energias de Portugal, the country's dominant electricity group, is to pay Goldman Sachs $US2.9 billion ($3.6 billion) in cash for 100 per cent of leading US utility Horizon Wind Energy in the world's biggest renewable energy deal to date.

EdP chief executive Antonio Mexia said the acquisition would transform it into the world's third largest wind power producer and a global leader in renewable energy, with 9 per cent of the rapidly growing US wind generation market.

Horizon, which will have 1324 megawatts of installed wind capacity in 15 US states by year's end, was acquired by Goldman Sachs in 2005, when called Zikha Renewable Energy, and has been put up for sale.

EdP said it won the bid against top international energy groups and infrastructure funds. The deal gives Horizon an equity value of $US2.3 billion and covers a net financial debt of $US180 million. Adjustments for capital expenditures amount to an additional $US600 million. EdP said it would raise $US2.5 billion of the total $US2.9 billion investment through debt. The remainder would be financed through tax equity, the selling on of tax credits due to Horizon.

The Portuguese group said the acquisition would lift average growth in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation from an estimated 11 per cent a year to 13 per cent from 2005 to 2010. Growth in earnings per share would be stable at 14 per cent a year.

Mr Mexia said investments planned by Horizon would lift the US company's current wind power capacity to more than 9000MW by 2020. EdP hoped to increase its share of the US market from 9 per cent to 12 per cent over the next four years. EdP plans to increase investment in wind energy over four years to 6.2 billion, up from a previous target of 2.7 billion.

Windfarm at the last hurdle

Albany Advertiser
Thursday 29/3/2007 Page: 5

MT Barker's windfarm is on track to start operations by the end of 2008. The Shire of Plantagenet recently approved amendments to the Town Planning Scheme to be forwarded to the WA Planning Commission for final approval of the windfarm's construction. Final approval now rests with Planning and Infrastructure minister Alannah MacTiernan. If it's given, SkyFarming will build a three-turbine farm on private property near the Mt Barker substation.

"This announcement means the project is still alive," SkyFarming technical director Andrew Woodroffe said. "The Council had 50 submissions from the public about the farm and they were all positive - a somewhat different experience to Denmark," he said.

The windfarm was expected to produce enough power to supply Mt Barker, he said. It was keenly supported by the community but most locals were indifferent to it because of its small size.

"It's not going to be quite visible with Mt Barker Hill probably hiding it," Mr Woodroffe said. "And there's a very important difference between Mt Barker and Albany - people won't be able to go up to the towers - they won't be a tourist attraction because they'll be on private land." He said the next step was waiting for confirmation of a grant from Rural Renewable Energy Program for medium projects, expected to cover 50 per cent of capital costs for the $5 million project.

SkyFarming will also need to finalise a connection offer with Western Power to connect into their grid.

State raises bills to lower greenhouse gases: Grants for alternative energy

Thursday 29/3/2007 Page: 6

VICTORIANS' energy bills are set to rise to fund a major new scheme to cut household greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent within three years.

But the State Government says that even with a "very, very small" price rise, it expects average households could save more than $100 a year on their energy bills by meeting the target, through proposed new subsidies for energy-saving appliances, insulation and heating systems. Details of the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target scheme are still being finalised.

The Government yesterday released an issues paper and called for public comments on its proposals, which could mean landlords will be offered incentives to upgrade insulation in rental properties, or householders offered free or cheap home energy audits. Households produce about a third of Victoria's greenhouse emissions, with businesses responsible for the remainder. The Government is considering extending the scheme to cover small and medium-sized businesses.

Minister for Climate Change John Thwaites said there were no plans to set a reductions target for major industrial energy users because the state's biggest 250 energy and water users were required to make energy efficiency savings with a payback of three years or less. Business Council for Sustainable Energy executive director Ric Brazzale applauded the scheme but said the lack of a target to reduce industrial energy use was "a key policy gap".

The Government also announced grants yesterday to support more affordable solar energy and development of hydrogen-fuelled cars. Melbourne University researchers who are hoping to replace costly silicon-based cells on solar panels with organic cells will receive $6 million towards a $12 million project, which would work by printing dyes and electronic components onto plastic films rather than using silicon. Ken Ghiggino, professor of chemistry at University of Melbourne, said households could be using the technology on their rooftops to generate solar power within 10 years.

"It is a new technology but in Victoria there are some groups that are probably world leaders in that area," he said. "The idea over the next three years is to really test the basic science and produce prototype devices which could then be scaled up." Fellow University of Melbourne researchers were awarded a $1.2 million grant to work with Ford in developing a car fuelled by hydrogen.

Professor Harry Watson said the project was "near term rather than long term" and that Victorians could be driving cars with lower greenhouse emissions in five years. "Ultimately we would like to see some demonstration of this technology in rural Victoria where there is wind at night and there is not a high demand for electricity at night, so that wind energy could go to producing hydrogen," he said.


Wednesday, 28 March 2007

As I see it

Yass Tribune
Friday 23/3/2007 Page: 3

Last night (Thursday night) saw Al Gore's climate change ideas presented in Yass Library. The Australian version of his slide show, made famous in his film `An Inconvenient Truth' and presented at the Library by Yass resident Brigita Bezjak, highlights the urgency of addressing climate change.

On Wednesday night (our time) Al Gore addressed the US congress and asked for a freeze on carbon dioxide emissions. Mr Gore has achieved almost rock-star status with his climate change warnings, especially as presented in his Oscar-winning documentary `An Inconvenient Truth' Some scientists have questions some of the facts portrayed in `An Inconvenient Truth'. Mr Gore has been accused of `gilding the lily': of exaggerating his case to prove his point.

However, there is no doubt `An Inconvenient Truth' has touched a nerve, and so it should. Climate change is real and is here now. United Nations scientists have concluded that it is very likely (ie 90 per cent likely) that climate change is caused by human activity.

The issue, previously on the fringe of politics, is now front and centre. Whether politicians are true climate change believers or not, they have been forced by public opinion to take note. Governments around the world are staging to take action.

In London on Wednesday night (our time) Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown brought in a raft of green measures when he brought down his budget. These include measures to encourage carbon trading, "zero-carbon homes", biofuels and fuel efficient cars. He said all households will be offered the means to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. He raised taxes on polluting cars (4 wheel drives).. The introduction of these measures shows just how mainstream environmental issues have become.

Various governments in Australia offer rebates for water tanks, solar hot water systems and petrol alternatives. Travellers can now buy carbon offsets, to reduce the environmental impact of air travel, one of the world's fastest growing greenhouse gas polluters. The trouble with buying carbon offsets is that is can give the impression that dealing with climate change is a relatively simple process of paying what amounts to loose change so we can continue behaving exactly as we did before. Instead, we need to change our behaviour.

From what I have read, the `congestion charge' in London, where people are encouraged to take public transport by a tax eight pounds per day to drive a car into the CBD, appears to have changed the way Londoners behave. To me, it sounds like a great way to reduce congestion in Sydney, although the NSW public transport system would require urgent attention to make it work- and not just city public transport.

The ABC's AM program on Thursday morning featured an interview with Donnachadh McCarthy, an eco-auditor with a zero-carbon house, who had London's first domestic wind turbine. The turbine, a 1.2 metre structure attached to the side of his London home, which supplements the energy generated by his solar panels. There are about 700 small wind turbines around Britain providing energy for domestic use and for community projects.

With all the publicity surrounding commercial windfarms, especially those opposed by nearby residents eg the Cullerin proposal (now approved) and Conroy's Gap (awaiting approval), I had not considered small structures being built on private homes.

But if a home in central London can do it, it can be done elsewhere (although Mr McCarthy believes he will never recoup his initial outlay costs.) Which is where governments come in. Research is likely to result in reduced cost of renewable energies, so it is important it be funded. Individuals are taking action, but we need our governments to provide leadership.

Solar power a hot topic: Harnessing the sun's power helps everyone

Border Mail
Wednesday 28/3/2007 Page: 31

Conergy is one of the largest renewable energy companies in the world, manufacturing components and systems for generating electricity, heat and cooling from renewable energy sources.

In addition to solar thermal, which uses the sun's warmth, and solar electric, which harnesses the sun's light, it is expanding into wind power and bioenergy and to that end it acquired an Australian wind farm developer Taurus last year but it is still probably best known in Australia for its solar hot water systems - the most widely and solidly established area of the renewable energy industry in this country.

Solarco co-owner Craig Martin said the community had embraced solar hot water and it also was being driven by tougher building guidelines in almost every state. "With the BASIX building system in place in NSW, it's unlikely you would achieve enough points to build a house without solar powered hot water these days," he said.

"And for many people it's a good alternative when their existing gas or electricity hot water unit dies. You can save up to 3.4 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year and there are very good rebates available but the best thing is that 90 per cent of your hot water is free." Conergy boasts two versions of its hot water solution, the thermosiphon system and the split system.

With the split system the storage tank is located on the ground and the collectors are located on the roof. Cold water is pumped from the tank to the solar collector. As the sun heats the water in the collector it is then pumped back into the storage tank. Hot water is then taken from the top of the tank for use in the household. With the thermosiphon system, both the collectors and the tank are on the roof. The tank is located above the collectors and cold water runs naturally from the tank to the bottom of the collector.

Through the law of density, water rises naturally from the bottom to the top of the collector as it heats up. Once it reaches the top of the collector it then continues into the tank for consumption in the household. The cycle continues as the water moves from tank to collector while the sun is shining. Both systems can be installed with an existing electric system or with an instantaneous gas boost system. This means that even on cold days you will still be able to produce hot water.

Hello sunshine

Border Mail
Wednesday 28/3/2007 Page: 30

Despite abundant sunshine, Australia lags decades behind Europe in the use of solar power, but there, is hope we will soon see change

GOVERNMENT reluctance to fully embrace renewable energy means Australians lag more than 17 years behind their German counterparts in recouping the cost of installing a feed-to-grid solar system. The system enables individuals to generate their own power and feed in excess power to the national grid, reducing demand for nonrenewable resources energy and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

A leading German renewable energy company with a subsidiary in Australia says Germans can recoup the cost of installing a grid connect solar system in eight years thanks to government incentives and electricity company premiums. But it will take Australians more than 25 years.

"It's only the very environmentally conscious people in the Australian community who can see the value," Conergy Australia managing director Rodger Meads said. "They're investing in their children's future and the future of the planet not for any financial gain they can see in the short term." But with improved incentives, Australian households could become part of the energy solution instead of the problem, he said.

Mr Meads said the company was working, all the time to bring the up-front cost of the system within reach of more consumers worldwide, but the current technology still cost the average consumer between $10,000 to $20,000 to install.

In Europe, this cost was largely offset by initiatives such as a "feed in tariff" which has encouraged thousands of families in places such as Germany, Austria and Spain to install solar power systems in their homes. Some of those countries receive as little as 60 per cent of Australia's sun. Yet, in Australia, solar power is not valued at an appropriate price to reflect its credentials as a clean energy source that produces the power right where it is needed without the need for poles and wires.

The feed in tariff works because solar electricity system owners are guaranteed a fair price for the clean electricity they generate. The fair price, which is higher than the average price for electricity, is reached by factoring in the predicted expense to the taxpayer of building and maintaining coal or nuclear power stations over a period of time.

Solar electricity system operators can still buy back any additional electricity they need, paying the same price as ordinary consumers. The owner of a solar energy system is therefore receiving a solid return for their investment in clean energy and the global community benefits from a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

The feed-to-grid system also more adequately matches periods of peak demand. "Peak demand is often the result of increased use of air-conditioners on extremely hot days and of course, this is when the solar system really comes into its own," Mr Meads said. He said other benefits of private investment in solar power were on a local community, national and global level.

Requirements for power stations and infrastructure such as high power lines and substations would be reduced; local economies would prosper from significant private investment which would create local jobs, there would be reduced climate change impact and a more reliable energy supply particularly in times of peak demand.

Green guru says cuts won't hurt

Australian Financial Review
Wednesday 28/3/2007 Page: 3

British economist Nicholas Stern said yesterday that Australian action on climate change will cost far less than inaction. Mr Stern, a former World Bank chief economist who wrote the Stern Review on the economics of climate change for the British Government, estimated that cutting greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 would cost around one per cent of gross domestic product, whereas taking no action could cost up to 20 per cent. He said that Australia needed to adopt an emissions trading scheme as soon as possible. The comments have undercut Prime Minister John Howard's reasons for his inaction - that it would cost jobs and hurt the economy - over the last decade.

Carbon Karma

Wednesday 28/3/2007 Page: 16

The dream of hosting an authentically green festival has struck fertile ground in the central Victorian town of Castlemaine, writes Genevieve Barlow.

WOMADELAIDE did it. The Commonwealth Games did it. Now Victoria's longest-running arts festival is getting in on the act. On Friday, The Castlemaine State Festival, a 10-day extravaganza of opera, theatre, cabaret, music, dance and visual arts, dawns as an agent of good in the fight against global warming. It's going carbon neutral.

Patrons have been urged to buy green tickets, to take the train when coming from Melbourne or Bendigo, to use bikes (provided free) to get around town and to think about walking instead of driving between venues. Special breakfasts and lunches will offer food grown within 100 kilometres of town to demonstrate the importance of lowering food miles. Local businesses, from the butcher to real estate agents to pubs, are going with the green flow and switching to green power energy for the 10 days as are all official festival venues. Plastic and paper plates are definitely out on the festival's big final day of music and wine in the Botanical Gardens. Teams of students will wash dishes instead.

Festival manager Greg Marginson is buying green airline tickets to fly from his home in Canberra to festival office headquarters in the central Victorian town, and artistic director Caroline Stacey says she'll definitely cycle between some events and venues. That's because this festival, unlike others that swear to carbon neutrality, is actually working on reducing energy use, rather than simply buying carbon offsets, which equate to permits to pollute.

So says the idea's creator, Heather Barrett, a retired businesswoman who, with her husband Neil, is a key player in a local charge to get the town of 7600 people to cut its energy use and switch to renewable energy sources. Their dream has struck fertile ground in this home of the artistically inclined that happens to also boast on its annual calendar of events a very popular truck show.

About 18 months ago, the Barretts and others with money behind them formed a sustainability group that's no working on educating householders to cut their power bills, establishing a local carbon offset bank, working with the local Mt Alexander Shire Council to reduce greenhouse gas output by 30 per cent by 2010 and on renewable energy projects involving the towns major energy users, including Castlemaine KR (formerly Castlemaine Bacon), affectionately known as The Baco, and the local hospital.

The group believes a carbon-neutral festival - one that didn't add to the Earth's warming gases total - is a good way to show others how to make a difference. After some argy-bargy about whether they should or shouldn't and some initial uncertainty from members of the local Rotary Club, which contributes $7500 to the festival, the festival's board, headed by chairman Michael Bottomley, supported the idea. We just needed someone to come and explain to us what carbon neutral is all about," said Rotary Club president Paul Malherbe, explaining their hesitation. "Seventy per cent of our members are over 55 or 60 years old and many don't know what it's about."

Carbon auditing companies Greenhouse Balanced and Evantech, based in Kyneton, were called in to assess how much greenhouse gas the festival was likely to produce. It looked at how many megajoules of energy were used in transporting patrons and artists to the previous festival, how much electricity visitors used while in Castlemaine for the festival, and how much electricity and gas the festival office and venues used. The result was 708.4 tonnes.

About 66 per cent of this came from cars used by people driving to events. This is small compared with the town's estimated annual 300,000 tonnes output of greenhouse gas. Despite this, the newly formed and highly energised band of volunteers at the Mt Alexander Sustainability Group considered the festival a key educational opportunity and has been working solidly to realise their carbon-dioxide cutting goal. "Most festivals start their greenhouse gas auditing at front of house, from when patrons arrive; but we've included their travel," says group spokesman Ian Lillington.

About 35,000 people are expected at the festival. Marginson expects ticket sales of 10,000. By 5pm yesterday, 5904 tickets had been sold, and only one in 50 ticket buyers had opted to pay $10 (for a single) or $20 (for a family) extra to buy green tickets. That money, says Marginson, will be used to buy wind energy from Origin Energy. He estimates that the cost of running the festival carbon neutral is about 1 per cent of its total budget. The amount of electricity consumed by the CSF office and venues (alone) on the Evantech audit was 9197 kilowatt/hours which would equate to a purchase of 10 megawatt/hours.

Origin will sell that (power) to the Castlemaine State Festival at $50 per Mwh. This would mean the festival will be offsetting 14.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the festival for a maximum outlay of $500." It's pathetically small when compared with the greenhouse gas output of a city or of an entire country like China but Victorian leisure management researcher Dr Ruth Rentschler says communities are recognising both sides of running festivals and are beginning to tackle the issues.

It used to be assumed that the impact of festivals and events would be positive but now there is an understanding that they are both positive and negative." Its effect on worldwide greenhouse gas output may be small, but butcher Mark Kemp is getting in on the act.

The monthly power bill at his place in Castlemaine's shopping heart tops $1000 and he can't really afford extra dollars for green power, but he's opted for it during the festival because it's "good to get on board". Like publican Daniel McDonald, whose power bill will increase $5 to $55 a day during the festival, he'd consider becoming a regular renewable energy user if it were cheaper.

Artists were also given a list of things they could do to cut their fossil fuel usage. But Sydney-based aerial artists Erth reckon they're already fairly conscientious about energy use. Alongside hotrods, their opening night extravaganza features giant puppets and 150 cyclists. We're a people-powered event," says Erth team member Scott Wright.

Caroline Stacey, who has directed three Castlemaine festivals, hints that this may be her last. This year she is overseeing 130 performing acts (there are 224 all up, including Fringe events) but this new aspect has added something that she says was impossible to resist "because this was what was happening in the community".

Plus, encouraging people to travel by train and walk to venues is a bonus, she says. "It's encouraging people to slow down, breathe in and really be in a place. You feel more open and more relaxed and ready to examine the question of revelation," says Stacey, who suggests this fits the festival's theme of rebirth and renewal.

Festival founder Berek Segan, who made part of his fortune as a timber miller, supports the idea. "Australia has to compromise somewhere in the future with our commercial and industrial output. But then, we don't want to lose our workforce," says the 89-year-old Toorak patron. It's doubtful he'll be cycling between venues but he's sworn to fit in as much as he can and will definitely be attending Melbourne Opera's opening night performance of The Barber of Seville.

Whatever happens, says Barrett, reducing greenhouse gas output is now "hugely on the agenda in Castlemaine". The Castlemaine State Festival runs from Friday to April 8.
Day return train tickets cost $30.60 peak and $21.40 off-peak.

Links: for the Melbourne-to-Castlemaine train schedule

Wind, sun and farm-based energy sources in the US

Australian Grain
Sunday 1/4/2007 Page: 50

What do Minnesota, Texas, and Alaska have in common? They all contain remote areas and get lots of wind.

Texas and Minnesota are striving to become leaders in renewable energy use - relying on everything from wind power to hydrogen fuel. USDA Agricultural Research Services (ARS) researchers have been working closely with university scientists, industry, and landowners in those states to develop renewable energy.

In just 20 years, companies have installed so many new wind turbines that the United States' ability to "farm the wind" for electricity increased more than 900-fold - from 10 megawatt hours annually in 1981 to 10,000 megawatt hours in 2006. Texas and Minnesota are among the top five states producing wind energy. Wind power today is generated by turbines that use only two or three very long, sleek blades, unlike the quaint, multibladed windmills that once symbolised the West.

A turbine's size depends on whether it is to be used for "wind farms" - clusters of 50 to 200 wind turbines producing power to sell to electric companies - or for individual farms and homes or entire remote communities far from a power grid.

Turbines in wind farms are set on towers 70 metres or more high, in areas with winds of 30 kph or more. These are huge machines, about the size of a Boeing 747 airplane, says Nolan Clark, director of the ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory in Bushland, Texas. Each can produce enough electricity to power more than 500 average homes. Wind farm companies pay farmers and landowners about $3000 per tower per year, and towers are spaced about every 400 hectares.

Lighting a cold place, far away

The ARS Renewable Energy and Manure Management Research Unit headquartered in Bushland has designed a wind-diesel hybrid control system for two remote Alaskan fishing villages to reduce their dependence on diesel-fueled generators for electricity. The generators are linked to wind turbines by a computerised system that seamlessly switches between diesel and wind without interruption. ARS scientists worked with manufacturers of wind turbines and of diesel engine controls. The computerised control system is commercially available.

Says Nolan, "We reduced energy costs from 48 cents to 28 cents a kilowatt hour for one village - saving both diesel fuel and storage costs. Last year, when diesel prices went up, some villages had to spend an extra $10,000 to buy a year's supply of fuel." The Bushland scientists worked with the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative and the Alaska Energy Authority to install these systems. Several more villages are interested in adopting the system, and still another adopted the scientists' suggestion to mix fish oil with diesel. Generators can run on biodiesel made from a variety of plant or animal fats and oils. In remote areas, local sources - such as fish oil in Alaska or palm oil in Hawaii - are generally the most economical.

Meanwhile, in sunny Texas

In Alaska, there isn't enough sunlight for solar power to be a part of hybrid systems. But in Texas there is. So the Bushland team designed their hybrid system with solar power included. They design and test wind/solar/biodiesel hybrid systems running an experimental electric grid.

They also use solar energy to power electric pumps for irrigation and for filling water troughs for cattle in remote locations on open range. These regular pumps can be run on solar power thanks to a computerised control device the team built.

They have also designed and tested pumps specifically made to run on solar power. One such pump has been commercialised, and Bushland researchers are working with three pump companies to design more. "We feel good when we drive down the road and see our pumps being used by farmers," says Nolan.

They also use wind turbines to operate water pumps and for wind-farm research with the US Department of Energy. To compare the cost-effectiveness of wind power versus solar power - or both - to operate water pumps, Nolan's team places a small wind turbine by each pump.

So far, it's not been cost-effective to have both wind and solar systems. Solar power has worked best for pumping up water from less than 30 metres deep, while wind power works better at pumping up deeper water. For both solar and wind-driven systems, pumps that use impellers to lift water worked better than those with pistons.

Mixing manure and coal

Nolan and colleagues are working with Texas A&M University on burning manure for energy. In one approach, they mix 10 per cent ground-up, dried manure with 90 per cent coal (by weight) and then inject it into a furnace. "This converts excess manure to energy while reducing use of nonrenewable coal," Nolan says. "We're helping a company build a boiler that uses a blend of 75 per cent manure and 25 per cent coal to heat water and steam for processing ethanol from corn," Nolan adds.

It appears to work well as long as the manure doesn't contain too much soil. Bushland scientists are cooperating with graduate students at West Texas A&M University to examine potential uses of the mixture, such as for fertiliser or plant bedding material.

A wind-powered 'green' campus

ARS scientists at the North Central Soil Conservation Laboratory in Morris, Minnesota, are working with the University of Minnesota at Morris on powering the campus with similarly diverse energy sources.

Says Abdullah Jaradat, an agronomist who leads the lab's research,"The University seeks to make itself truly a `green' campus that uses only renewable fuels and products. It gets about 60 per cent of its electricity from a wind turbine. "The campus currently heats with natural gas. In the near future, cornstalks will feed a gasifier system for heating and cooling.

There's a backup generator running on regular diesel, but scientists are planning to switch to either biodiesel or hydrogen fuel that produces electricity directly." ARS electrical engineer Steve Wagner thinks that biodiesel could one day be made from Cuphea, a crop that does particularly well in the Northern Plains. Its unique oil could be used as a fuel source without the chemical modification required of soybean oil.

Dave Archer, an ARS economist at Morris, is studying the economic impact of biofuels on farms and rural communities. "We want to see whether they bring new jobs by creating new industries, and we want to know the effects on agricultural production and rural landscapes," he says. "We also want to encourage community wind farms jointly owned by farmers."

Mapping best bets

Steve Wagner and colleagues have created maps that highlight areas of strong winds suitable for wind power generation. They used GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology to overlay a topographical map with roads, power lines, and land ownership for a few counties in western Minnesota. They noted power lines because wind farms must have access to a heavy-duty power line within about 15 km of their connection to a power grid. "The maps showed that we have more wind power than we knew," says Steve.

The Morris campus hopes to eventually transmit enough excess electricity to the main campus in the Twin Cities area to meet 20 per cent of the university's electricity needs. "That is," says Steve,"until technology is developed to turn wind power into shippable hydrogen fuel that potentially could be used in fuel-cells for transportation, to generate electricity, and to heat homes."

More benefits from biobased energy

The University of Minnesota plans to use biomass such as cornstalks, wood, or other plant materials for energy. ARS soil scientist Jane Johnson at Morris is analysing the resulting ash to check for heavy metals or other toxins that might render it unfit for use as fertiliser.

"Ag-based energy systems have the potential to help farm communities in many ways, providing renewable energy, an additional cash crop, and possibly new jobs," Jane says. She is conducting experiments to determine how much residue must stay on the field to prevent soil erosion and loss of soil carbon. A certain percentage may be removed from a field - depending on crop, soil type, and other factors - without harming the soil.

In fact, it can help farmers in areas like Minnesota and northern Iowa, where soils can be too wet and cold in the spring to plant. Farmers tend to avoid no-till in those areas, despite its erosion-reducing potential, because the crop residue can hold in moisture and coolness, delaying planting. Taking the right amount of residue off for energy generation could reduce this effect and help the spread of no-till, giving farmers yet one more benefit from using their farms to produce energy.

Nolan Clack is with the USDA-ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory, Bushland, Texas. Ph: (806) 356-5734, Fax: (806) 356-5750.

Abdullah A. Jaradat is with the USDA-ARS North Central Soil Conservation Laboratory, 803 Iowa Ave., Morris, MN 56267; phone (320) 589-3411, fax (320) 589-3787.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Moyne backs $300m wind farm

Hamilton Spectator
Saturday 24/3/2007 Page: 3

Moyne Shire Council has overwhelmingly supported a $300 million wind farm proposed at Ryan Corner, north west of Port Fairy. The wind farm is being developed by TME Australia, which also has a 31-turbine, $145 million wind farm earmarked for Hawkesdale. A special council meeting last week gave approval to the Ryan Corner wind farm with seven councillors supporting it and only Cr Jim Doukas opposed.

The State Government will make the final decision on the 68-turbine wind farm. The 68 turbines will cover 3600 hectares between the Hamilton-Port Fairy Rd and the Shaw River, about 12 kms north west of Port Fairy and three kilometres from Yambuk.

Moyne Shire agreed to support the wind farm but wanted the developers to provide detailed traffic and environmental plans, and a 365- metre 'buffer zone' to adjoining properties. There were just three submissions - one in support, one opposed and one that wanted assurances that water runoff and water quality wouldn't be changed as a result of the wind farm, and that fire hazard risk could be avoided.

TME Australia says there will be 120 people employed during construction of the towers over 18 months, and up to eight full-time jobs. About $1 million is expected to be directly injected into the local economy annually.

Shire to follow up on carbon-neutral plan

Lilydale & Yarra Valley Leader
Monday 26/3/2007 Page: 17

WORKING with schools, educating the community and pushing businesses to become sustainable is on the agenda for the Shire of Yarra Ranges' climate change action plan. The council has revealed more details about its plan to lead the way in addressing global warming, after passing a motion to become carbon neutral at its last council meeting on March 13.

Yarra Ranges chief executive Rob Hauser said the council could declare itself carbon neutral by the end of June 2008 once it had planted 60,000 trees in the shire and bought renewable energy certificates to offset its present carbon emissions. Mr Hauser said the council's progress would be measured in a regular "state of the environment" report, which would also include information such as water quality data and water usage statistics. He expected the first report to be released within six months.

Mr Hauser said the council was already working with 85 Yarra Ranges schools to help them develop environmental policies and create an "environmentally aware next generation". It would also hold a sustainable business forum to help local businesses reduce their carbon emissions.

Yarra Ranges Mayor Tim Heenan said everyone should "get ready" because the council would be calling on schools, friends' groups and private landholders to help plant trees across the shire. Mr Hauser said he was not aware of any other municipality in Australia that had made the commitment to become carbon neutral, and Yarra Ranges would encourage other councils to follow by working through the Municipal Association of Victoria and writing articles in journals.

Cr Heenan said before the next council election in November 2008, the present Yarra Ranges councillors wanted to ensure climate change measures were securely in place so an incoming council would not change them. Mr Hauser said the council would investigate converting methane gas from waste at shire tips into energy.

Forging ahead in China Tasmanian company leading the way

Burnie Advocate
Tuesday 27/3/2007 Page: 33

LEADING Tasmanian based renewable energy company Roaring 40s has signed a further joint venture agreement with one of China's leading renewable energy companies, the Guohua Energy Investment Company Ltd. The agreement builds on the existing relationship with Guohua which has seen the successful start of the 50mW Rongcheng Wind Farm and will see the construction of an additional three wind farms in China, valued at $240 million.

The three new wind farms - at Lijin, Zhanhua and Hekou - are situated in the Shandong Province, and will each have a 50mW capacity. Construction of the wind farms is expected to start in the second half of this year, with full commissioning by June 2008.

Guohua is a subsidiary company of the Stateowned Shenhua group, China's largest coal producer. Guohua has recently identified renewable energy development as its core business for the future and has secured a total of 16,000mW wind sites in China to date. The company has set a development target of 1000mW by 2010 and 4000mW by 3030.

Roaring 40s chairman Richard McIndoe said the agreement was a significant achievement for Roaring 40s and firmly established it as the leading foreign-owned renewable energy investor in China. "These three additional projects build on Roaring 40s and Guohua's existing portfolio of wind energy developments, and reinforces the relationship of strength and trust that the two companies have established," Mr McIndoe said.

Roaring 40s is a joint venture between Hydro Tasmania and CLP Group.

What a waste: company moves to greener pastures

Australian Financial Review
Tuesday 27/3/2007 Page: 5

One of Australia's fastest-growing clean-development companies, Global Renewables, has quit the country and taken its cutting-edge recycling technology to Europe, driven by the federal government's failure to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions. Global Renewables, a subsidiary of GRD Ltd, has moved its head office to Manchester and intends to list on the London Stock Exchange within two years, after winning a $5 billion contract in Britain to process all Lancashire County Council and Blackpool Council's waste for 25 years.

Global Renewables' move follows the closure by Danish company Vestas of its Tasmanian wind-turbine manufacturing plant, leading to the loss of 65 jobs, and world's first solar billionaire Zhengrong Shi leaving Australia due to lack of funding. The small local market also makes it unlikely Origin Energy will build its solar manufacturing plant here, and Tasmanian wind company Roaring 40s had abandoned two local projects to concentrate on China. Global Renewables chairman John White said his company had little future in Australia, and that this country was '10 to 15 years' behind Europe. He hoped to come back when Australia 'does get serious about renewables'. A recent Ernst & Young survey ranked Australia 14th in the world in attractiveness for renewable energy investment.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Wind industry hearing delayed

Yarram Standard News
Wednesday 21/3/2007 Page: 11

SYNERGY Wind has been granted extra time to prepare its submission for the proposed wind farm project at Devon North. The windfarm hearing was to commence next Wednesday, March 28 at the Wellington Shire Council in Sale.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) wrote to the residents of Devon North requesting a delay in the proceedings, after Synergy Wind advised them that it had new evidence to present. Public relations officer with the shire, Gaye Davies advised the Yarram Standard News the date for the new hearing has not yet been finalised.

Opponent to the Devon North Windfarm project, Peter Stone said they were advised a fortnight ago the hearing was to be postponed after they received a letter from VCAT stating Synergy Wind Pty Ltd, the company undertaking to establish a wind farm at Devon North, was seeking an adjournment on the grounds they had new planning proposals and needed time to prepare and present these.

Our barristers advised us to allow this adjournment, but it has caused everyone involved with this hearing great inconvenience," Mr Stone said. "One of our group members is an ambulance officer and he had to take annual leave to attend the hearing. I was planning an overseas trip but this is now in limbo as we wait on a new date to be set for the hearing," he said.

A directional meeting is planned for March 30 at which time a new date for the hearing will be recommended.

Archer wind farm 'next year', Turbines also proposed for private Walker Bay site

Cooktown Local News
Wednesday 21/3/2007 Page: 8

THE proposed Archer Point wind farm could be generating energy by the end of next year if proponents of the $250 million project can convince the State Government to develop renewable energy policies. And the Local News has learned of another wind farm being tipped for freehold land at Walker Bay, just a few kilometres south of Cooktown near the golf course.

After more than 17 years in the pipeline and three years of high-level government and indigenous stakeholder negotiations, the remaining obstacle for the Archer wind farm - which would be Queensland's second after Ravenshoe's and able to power Cairns - was the lack of a green energy market, said proponent Wind Power Pty Ltd Queensland.

"One of the biggest issues for us is the market for renewable energy in Queensland," said WPQ managing director Lloyd Stumer. "All the other states have a renewable energy policy (but) we've been talking to the all the relevant government departments and new Energy Minister Geoff Wilson and we're very hopeful of a positive outcome. Our intention is still to get the turbines up and going by the end of next year (but) that is a tight schedule." In August, during an indigenous land use agreement announcement at Archer for 8800ha of Annan River (Yuku Baja-Muliku) National Park and 1700ha of indigenous freehold, the State reserved a 2300ha seaward tract for two years of feasibility investigations.

Our intention is still to get the turbines no and going by the end of next year but that is a tight schedule' - Wind Power Pty Ltd Old managing director Lloyd Stumer into the wind farm. The Cook Shire Council also negotiated for two coastal parcels for recreation reserve and a former 1970s deep water port site, which would be needed to receive materials during wind farm construction. The proposed Archer farm would include 60 turbines - triple the number at Ravenshoe and each more than three times as powerful - with a capacity for 120 megawatts of energy, enough to power 60,000 homes.

Meanwhile, another Queensland company, Earth EnergyAustralia, has reported "encouraging results" from data obtained in the first stages of several years of wind monitoring on private property at Walker Bay. Earth Energy managing director Michael Sherington said he was unsure of the viability of two wind farms less than 30kms apart.

"Lloyd (Stumer) and I have discussed working them both together and we're still talking that out," he said. "My initial concept was for 10MW to 30MW, big enough to power Cooktown and some of the Cape." Mr Sherington said he only turned to Walker Bay after being warned about land tenure difficulties at Archer. "Earth Energy lodged the first official wind site application at Archer Point in 2001 and we were told to go elsewhere," he said.

A native title claim over 120sqkm at Archer was lodged with the National Native Title Tribunal in September, but it has not yet been decided if the claim meets registration standards. Mr Sherington said any wind farm in the Cooktown district would be a positive thing. "Cooktown's a bloody windy place and it would be great to harness that," he said.

Windfarm seeks to employ locals

Ararat Advertiser
Friday 23/3/2007 Page: 15

GLENTHOMPSON - Developers of the proposed Oaklands Hill Wind Farm have urged Glenthompson and district residents to register now for employment during construction of the facility. Joint developers Investec Bank (Australia) Ltd and Windlab Systems Pty Ltd expect more than 60 jobs to be created during the 12-18 month design and construction phase.

With the planning permit application expected to be lodged with the Department of Sustainability and Environment by April, the developers want to ensure local residents are given the first option when it comes to supplying skills and resources. Investec Bank and joint venture spokesman Mark Headland urged anyone with skills that might be useful during the design and construction stage and with relevant resources such as earth moving equipment, gravel etc, to register with the company.

"Anyone with pertinent skills should email us at with a brief summary of the services and skills they have to offer." Mr Headland said. "The names and skill base will be included in a database to be provided to the company that will eventually be selected to design and construct the wind farm."

The multi-million dollar wind farm, incorporating 43 turbines will make a major contribution to Victoria's green house gas reductions cutting carbon dioxide emissions by around 364,000 tonnes a year while producing enough power to service approximately 52,000 homes. The proposed wind farm, which will produce about 280,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually, will provide an economic boost for the Western District during the construction phase and through ongoing land access payments.

The developers have undertaken extensive wind, flora and fauna, noise and geographical studies of the area and an extensive consultation process ahead of applying for the planning permit with the hope that turbine construction will start in 2008 and the wind farm will be commissioned in the first quarter of 2009.

The winds of change blowing in

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin
Saturday 24/3/2007 Page: 69

ANOTHER rapid growth area in the field of renewable energy is wind farming, with construction of a wind farm 170km north of Adelaide due to begin next month. It's estimated that the energy from 42 turbines on the Hummock and Barunga ranges will produce power for 60,000 houses, adding to the 253Mv under construction and the 388Mv of wind power already produced in the state.

And for Queensland, the news gets even better. The contract to manufacture the wind turbines for the project has been secured by a Wacol-based company. Recognising some time ago that wind farming was the way of the future, the company decided to capitalise on the growing renewable energy market, and its foresight has been rewarded sooner than anticipated.

Australian involvement in the worldwide growth in wind farming projects is also evident, with a Sydney-based company recently investing $200 million in European and US wind farm projects. The new projects, with 11 farms in France and Germany alone, will go online by 2008 in the world's largest wind energy market. It would seem the generation and use of renewable energy - hardly a new concept - is rapidly becoming synonymous with modernity.

Hot rocks promise 800 years' power

Weekend Australian
Saturday 24/3/2007 Page: 11
Keith Orchison

THE potential of the hot rocks lying deep beneath the surface of central and eastern Australia, says Queensland Energy Minister Geoff Wilson, is big enough to meet all of Australia's power needs for 800 years - if they can be exploited. The effort to exploit this potential is now reaching substantial size: 14 companies have obtained government licences, mainly in South Australia, on commitments to spend $500 million by 2011 on exploration and initial development.

While the task of capturing energy from hot rocks three to five kilometres underground is still in its infancy, Australia is considered to have the best geology in the world for this concept, including temperatures in granites laid down more than 500 million years ago that are up to twice as hot as similar rocks in other parts of the world.

Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull believes geothermal energy can provide up to 10 per cent of Australia's future electricity needs and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector. Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane describes the hot rock energy resources as "vast" and potentially providing a new path to a new electricity source.

The Howard Government has given two grants under its Renewable Energy Development Initiative program $6 million to Geodynamics Limited, the first mover in the drive to develop hot rocks power in the Cooper Basin, and a further $5 million in February to Petratherm Limited, which is pursuing shallower geothermal opportunities in South Australia's Flinders Ranges.

"What we hope to see from this," says Macfarlane,"is commercialisation of the technology and then the sale of electricity in to the (national power) grid. It's baseload power and the only renewable energy that can supply power on that basis, so we are keen to see it develop." Adrian Williams, chief executive of Geodynamics, says the next step for his company, which includes big league petroleum players Woodside and Origin Energy among its major shareholders, is to bring a $32 million drilling rig in to Australia from the United States to continue its drilling program and produce the first formal proof of geothermal hot rock reserves.

Having done this, he says, the company intends to develop a 40 megawatt power production project that Geodynamics believes can be delivering electricity in to the grid serving southern and eastern Australia by 2010. "This will be the first step in a 500MW development that will be a flagship project for hot rock geothermal energy in the world and a prelude to Australia accessing thousands of megawatts from this source by 2030," he claims.

Success in commercialising hot rock power is expected to accentuate exploitation of other geothermal resources in South Australia, parts of Queensland, the Hunter Valley in New South Wales and western Victoria.

Geoff Wilson says the Queensland Government is offering 5400sq km of prospective land for geothermal exploration. "Electricity generation from geothermal energy is very environmentally friendly," he adds. " There are no greenhouse gas emissions and no waste materials. The industry will have a future in Queensland because it can produce more baseload power than any other renewable energy source and the land has the right geological environment to develop commercial projects." Notwithstanding the Queensland Government's enthusiasm, it is the Rann Government in Adelaide which has driven the geothermal quest hardest and furthest. The state's Primary Industries & Resources Department says the introduction of legislation in 2000 to facilitate hot rock exploration and development has attracted 12 companies to take up 109 exploration licences.

The firms include Green Rock Energy Limited, which says it aims to build 100MW of geothermal plants near the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine, and Pacific Hydro, which is exploring the Great Artesian Basin with the aim of establishing a 400MW project.

Adrian Williams says that, in theory, Australia has more thermal energy in hot rocks than it has in black and brown coal reserves put together: How much of this is exploitable and at what production price is the multi-billion dollar question: Williams believes that geothermal electricity can be generated for between $45 and $50 per megawatt hour - significantly lower, he points out, than present projections for clean coal technology with carbon dioxide capture and burial as well as for wind and solar thermal power. Prices at these levels, he adds, would make geothermal energy highly competitive with nuclear power while having none of the waste issues that bedevil the nuclear industry.

"When you look at the size of the prize and its cost, Australia has to invest in geothermal power," he argues.