Thursday, 6 September 2007

Tumut applies for wind study funding

Daily Advertiser
Thursday 6/9/2007 Page: 4

TUMUT Council has applied for state and federal funding to install a monitoring system in Adelong to determine if there are sufficient air currents to install wind turbines and generate electricity. One year ago the Adelong Progress Association decided to investigate the possibilities of installing the alternative energy supply and yesterday member Norm Jones said slow but steady progress was being made. Mr Jones said $24,000 would be required to set up the initial monitors and a number of locations were in mind for the tests and subsequent turbine site.

No evil plot on report

Ballarat Courier
Thursday 6/9/2007 Page: 5

A LEAKED planning report recommending a controversial Victorian wind farm proceed was not worth releasing because the project was dumped, Planning Minister Justin Madden said yesterday. The 48-turbine Dollar Wind Farm, proposed for a site in southeast Victoria, was scrapped last month when the proponent AGL Energy Limited pulled out.

Opponents of the $140 million project were fighting for access to a planning panel's report into whether the project should proceed. They took their battle to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal but the project was withdrawn before their case was resolved.

ABC radio has obtained a leaked copy of the report which, contrary to speculation, endorsed the project going ahead. But Planning Minister Justin Madden defended the government's decision to withhold the draft report, saying it was meaningless when the project was not going to proceed. "There's no conspiracy here, it is a document which had no status once the project was withdrawn," Mr Madden told ABC radio.

Regional areas realise the power of renewable energy

Thursday 6/9/2007 Page: 3

SOLAR power earning twice the money on the grid. The number of consumers in Australia buying GreenPower from renewable sources doubling in a year. The first of these two events happened in South Australia, where new laws mean people feeding excess power from their solar panels into the grid will be paid twice the price of its fossil-fuel-generated equal.

It's also interesting to note the slow but inevitable rise in consumers turning to GreenPower - power generated from nationally accredited renewable energy sources. GreenPower's quarterly reports show that in the year to June 30, the number of residential customers buying GreenPower more than doubled, from 281,701 to 565, 977. It is not a big number but it is the growth rate that's worth noting. These developments are signalling a shift to renewable energy that is set to quicken from a gentle flow to a rush as Australia cuts its greenhouse gas emissions.

That's good news for regional communities. The shift to renewables has realised significant economic development opportunities for communities that can see the advantages renewable technologies hold. One example is the biodiesel plant being built at Barnawartha, just out of Wodonga, by a consortium called Biodiesel Producers Pty Ltd. This $50 million investment by ANZ is employing a workforce of about 100. Once completed, it will employ about 30 people in the collection, distillation and distribution of biodiesel made from tallow, waste oils and canola oil.

When La Trobe University's centre for sustainable regional communities and the City of Greater Bendigo began planning a conference to demonstrate the benefits of renewable energy for regional areas, we were inundated with good ideas and examples of projects. It is evident that options such as solar, wind, waste and geothermal-generated energy are creating significant economic development opportunities rather than cutting jobs and business as was once feared. Most importantly, they're helping cut greenhouse gas emissions.

One thing that characterises renewable energy generation is the level of manufacturing it requires for equipment, and the building of the plants. The economic multiplier for similar manufacturing industries is typically twice the initial investment during establishment. Renewable energy projects are especially good for regional Australia because they typically involve lots of smaller plants across the country rather than large, centralised fossil-fuel chewing power plants such as we now have. These smaller plants will help minimise local "brownouts" during high demand, which has happened in recent summers.

And as Australia moves to more cost-reflective pricing in the National Electricity Market, subsidies in place when Victoria's power industry was privatised will be wound back. That's likely to add, by 2020, a further 10 per cent to electricity distribution costs in regional areas. Central Victorian businesses already pay up to 30 per cent more for their electricity distribution costs compared with similar businesses in big metropolitan areas.

Then there are distribution losses. Bendigo, for example, loses 14 per cent of every unit of power generated from power plants in Gippsland. The losses are higher in places further afield such as Mildura. These line losses disadvantage regional businesses. But renewable energy plants such as the $420 million photovoltaic power station to be built near Mildura could reduce line losses and minimise electricity network cost differentials, giving regional areas equal footing when it comes to power costs.

At this stage, there's another economy-boosting component to regional renewable energy projects that should not be overlooked and that's the potential to attract tourists keen to see projects they might adopt in their regions. The proposed $8 million community-owned wind farm near Daylesford, which recently overcame objections, is likely to be a good example. A local community cooperative plans to sell shares to raise money to build the turbine.

After the initial investment and the wind fans is operational, the Hepburn Renewable Energy Association expects people will travel to the area to study its innovative approach. We shouldn't dismiss the tourism offshoot to renewables, for surely this is what happens with early adopters: others flock in to learn how they implemented good ideas. Professor John Martin is the director of La Trobe University's centre for sustainable regional communities and is a co-organiser of the Renewable Energy and Regional Australia Conference in Bendigo on September 16-18.

Putting the wind up nuclear

Waste Management & Environment
August, 2007 Page: 14

Some 15,200MW of new wind turbines were installed worldwide last year, lifting capacity almost 26 per cent to more than 74,200MW. The 39 million tonnes of CO2 displaced in 2006 is equivalent to the CO2 emissions of 23 average US coal-fired power plants. The Worldwatch Institute's new Vital Signs Update said Europe and North America last year added more capacity in wind than in coal and nuclear combined. It also revealed the global market for wind equipment has risen 74 per cent in the past two years.

Wind turbines get a lift

Waste Management & Environment
August, 2007 Page: 12

The Mecraro company from Japan has begun large-scale production of the world's first wind turbine based on the principle of the Magnus effect, enabling the turbine to turn using lift generated by spinning cylinders with spiral fins instead of the usual propeller-like blades. The lift of the Vortes-model is four times that of conventional propeller-type wind turbines, helping the turbine operate at any wind speed. Thanks to the greater lift, its rotational speed can be reduced to about 25 per cent of a conventional turbine, resulting in lower noise levels. Low rotational speed also reduces wear and vulnerability to damage from aerial objects. Japan for Sustainability reports the design reduces power-generating costs to 45 yen (about 44 cents) per kilowatt.


Labor's green scheme

Wednesday 5/9/2007 Page: 8

A LABOR government would spend about $40 million to help clean energy firms export their products, in a bid to convince sceptics that it can tackle climate change without damaging jobs. While the APEC Business Advisory Council issues a statement on climate change today, Opposition environment spokesman Peter Garrett will announce that Labor would establish a clean energy enterprise centre to help firms adopt the latest technology and find export markets. He will also tell the National Press Club that a Labor government would establish a unit within Austrade to promote clean energy exports.

Mr Garrett will use the announcement to try to differentiate Labor's policies on climate change from those of the Government. Mr Garrett will say there are two major barriers to a strong clean energy export industry, which includes solar energy, wind energy and geothermal technologies. These are the lack of a strong domestic industry and the absence of expertise within Austrade and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to promote clean energy companies. Labor's policy announcement comes after a Portland factory making blades for wind turbines last month blamed the Government's lack of support for renewable energy for its decision to close by the end of the year, with the loss of 130 jobs.

Mr Garrett will tell the press club: "We used to lead the world in solar energy technology. Now too many of our solar stars are overseas." Labor has also pledged an increase in the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, rebates for rooftop solar power systems, up to $10,000 in low-interest loans for families to undertake water and energy measures in their homes, and a $500 million clean coal fund.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

$450m energy project: Carnegie considers prospect of Port MacDonnell wave power

Border Watch
Tuesday 4/9/2007 Page: 1

PORT MacDonnell could soon become home to a $450m emission-free wave energy plant. The prospects of building a 50MW baseload, emission-free plant at Port MacDonnell will be investigated by Carnegie Corporation during a visit to the Limestone Coast this week. Senior executives will meet with the Regional Development Board and Member for Barker Patrick Seeker to discuss the viability of the project.

The Australian Stock Exchange listed clean energy company last month acquired the exclusive rights to operate CETO wave energy technology throughout the southern hemisphere and has earmarked Port MacDonnell as a possible location. After meeting the Limestone Coast Regional Development Board and Mr Seeker in Mount Gambier on Thursday, Carnegie Corporation senior executives will travel to Port MacDonnell to view the proposed location of the plant.

Although Mr Seeker was unaware of how many sites were being investigated for the power plant when contacted yesterday, he was excited the corporation was considering the Limestone Coast. "It is just preliminary at this stage, introducing the people to the region," a spokesperson for Mr Seeker said yesterday. "But they are looking to the area as a source of wave energy electricity and water." The Federal Government is believed to have thrown its support behind similar projects in the past, which could benefit any proposal to introduce such a plant in the region.

The CETO system distinguishes itself from other wave energy devices by resting on the ocean floor, where an array of submerged buoys are tethered to seabed pump units. The buoys move in harmony with the motion of passing waves, driving pumps that pressurise seawater, which is delivered ashore via a pipeline. High pressure seawater can then be used to supply a reverse-osmosis desalinisation plant, replacing greenhouse gas emitting pumps usually required for such infrastructure.

The high pressure seawater can also be used to drive hydro turbines, generating zero-emission electricity, one of the key components of the Port MacDonnell bid. Obtaining the $450m plant would further bolster the Limestone Coast as a hub of natural renewable energy, building on the success of windfarms. The 50MW baseload emission-free wave energy plant will be discussed on Thursday morning, before the group travels out to the proposed site.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Coral Bay powers up

Thursday 30/8/2007 Page: 10

Coral Bay's new $14 million wind-over-diesel power project has been switched on. The new Vergnet wind turbines, which can be lowered to the ground during extreme weather conditions are the first in WA. Horizon Power has now assumed responsibility for power supplies in Coral Bay. Previously, three privately owned and operated electricity generators serviced the area using a limited distribution network. The three wind turbines are part of Coral Bay's wind farm and power station, which was officially opened by Energy Minister Fran Logan last Sunday.

The opening signalled the normalisation of power supplies in the area. Horizon Power general manager generation and technical services Mike Laughton-Smith said the system was new and innovative. "There is nothing `normal' about this power station - it is absolutely unique," Mr Laughton-Smith said.

Excess wind energy is stored in a massive spinning three-tonne steel flywheel at the power plant, which rotates in a vacuum on a magnetic bearing. The flywheel has enough inertia to keep it spinning for 12 hours unpowered. The power plant is continuously switchable between seven 320kW low-load diesel generators, three 275kW wind turbines, and the flywheel 'battery'.

Mr Logan said Horizon Power teamed up with Verve Energy to build the wind farm and low-load diesel power station on the fringe of the town. He said the wind turbines could generate up to 45 per cent of Coral Bay's electricity requirements. "The fact that the turbines can be lowered and raised as required in extreme weather conditions provides Verve Energy with a tremendous opportunity to use similar turbines in cyclone-prone areas," he said.

Origin a big fan of wind

Monday 3/9/2007 Page: 33

ORIGIN Energy is considering buying wind farms, saying a shift to renewable energy sources could potentially push electricity bills up 20 per cent. Chief executive Grant King said on ABC television's Inside Business that the energy retailer would consider bidding for wind farms the Queensland Government was selling. At present, Origin offers wind and solar products to customers but has to buy the energy from other suppliers. Wind farms are generally much more highly geared than Origin's balance sheet, Mr King said. "So whether we put them on our balance sheet or let them sit on someone else's is a capital structure issue and an efficiency of capital issue," he said.

The federal Government plans to launch a carbon trading scheme in 2011 and is expected to set an emissions target and carbon price sometime next year. Mr King agreed that a carbon price of $20 to $30 a tonne would make coal expensive enough to trigger a shift to natural gas, but for a shift to renewables a carbon price of $50 to $60 would be needed, and that would imply a big price increase for customers. "Off the top of my head... you're talking perhaps around a 20 per cent increase in prices at a consumer level," Mr King said.

Whether or not such a high carbon price was needed would not be known until the Government set an emissions-reduction target, he said. And he warned that the Government risked making the pricing situation worse if it took too long to set a target. "It's always important to remember that every question about the price of carbon needs to also have answered: 'What is the target, what are we shooting for'," he said. "The deeper the cut, the greater the cost. And the clear economic consequence to that is to move sooner, because the sooner we move, the less deep we have to make future cuts."

Some prominent business leaders, including head of Origin's biggest rival AGL Energy, have criticised the federal Government for waiting until at least next year to set a carbon-trading price. Mr King does not think Australia should aim to get all its energy from renewable sources, but should use a combination of coal, natural gas, renewables and nuclear.

It's child's play to bring power to the people

City News
Thursday 30/8/2007 Page: 11

BLOCK by block, Brisbane residents last week helped build a two metre-high wind turbine out of Lego in one day. About 3000 Lego blocks were used to build an electricity producing wind turbine with metre-long blades near the Queen Street Mall as part of National Engineering Week.

Identical wind turbines were created in Melbourne and Sydney to raise funds for the construction of micro wind turbines in Nepal to power drinking water pumps and lighting.

The project was organised by Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB), a nonprofit organisation. Queensland chapter president Penny Prasad said the project showed how easy it was to generate power without creating pollution.

Origin may run its own wind farms

Adelaide Advertiser
Monday 3/9/2007 Page: 66

ORIGIN Energy is thinking of buying wind farms but says a shift to renewable energy potentially could push up electricity bills by 20 per cent. Chief executive Grant King said yesterday Origin, Australia's second-biggest energy retailer, might bid for wind farms put up for sale by the Queensland Government.

Origin currently offers wind and solar products to its customers but has to buy the energy from other suppliers. Wind farms were generally much more highly geared than Origin's balance sheet, Mr King told ABC-TV. "So whether we put them on our balance sheet or let them sit on someone else's balance sheet is a capital-structure issue and an efficiency-of-capital issue," he said.

The Federal Government plans to launch a carbon-trading scheme in 2011 and is expected to set an emissions target and a carbon price some time next year. Mr King agreed a carbon price of $20 to $30 a tonne would make coal expensive enough to trigger a shift to natural gas. However, for a shift to renewables, Mr King said a carbon price of $50 to $60 would be required and that would imply a hefty price increase for customers.

Energy giant backs 20% renewables

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 30/8/2007 Page: 7

WIND, solar and other renewable energy should make up 20 per cent of power needs within 12 years if Australia wants to seriously cut the carbon emissions causing climate change, the head of the energy giant AGL said. AGL's chief executive, Paul Anthony, is calling on the Prime Minister, John Howard, and the Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, to set a renewable energy target of 20 per cent by 2020, a far more ambitious goal than either side has agreed to so far.

"Look at the rest of the world," Mr Anthony told the Herald. "You can't effectively have a carbon abatement scheme without a very, very strong national obligation for renewable energy." Mr Anthony's comments come as the major parties are examining targets for renewable energy in the lead-up to the federal election.

For a decade, the Howard Government has resisted raising the mandatory national target for renewable energy above 2 per cent. Labor is expected to release its target soon. Mr Anthony has been appointed chairman of the sustainable energy pressure group which is about to become the Clean Energy Council. His company has one of the largest retail energy businesses in Australia, with 3.6 million customers. He also criticised the Howard Government approach to a carbon emissions trading scheme, which is supposed to set a price on carbon from fossil fuels that are causing pollution.

While committed to a trading scheme by 2012, neither Mr Howard nor Mr Rudd will set national targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions until after the election. Without targets, the emissions trading scheme cannot operate. Mr Anthony said business was concerned that there was still so much confusion over how the scheme would work. "The piecemeal disclosure of the Government's thinking worries us," he said. "We are finding it difficult to understand the logic." Most concerning, he said, was the plan by the Government to auction some permits to emit greenhouse gases but give permits or exemptions to particular industries.

Questions were raised about AGL's commitment to renewable energy recently when it dropped its plans to build the Dollar Wind Farm in Victoria. Mr Anthony insisted this was simply because there were better sites elsewhere. "We've got a strong appetite for wind," he said, pointing to plans to build a $600 million wind farm at Macarthur in Victoria. Mr Anthony said he believed Australia could economically make deep cuts in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Climate change plan faces federal threat

Adelaide Advertiser
Thursday 30/8/2007 Page: 14

KEY state plans to combat climate change, including controls on emissions and electricity generation, are now under threat from new federal laws. One of these is the Rann Government's world-first climate change law which sets emission and renewable energy targets. The State Government has told a Senate inquiry that one clause of a new federal Bill will have far-reaching consequences for at least five areas of SA law involving climate change.

Under the proposed federal law, introduced by the Howard Government on August 15, a single national framework for reporting greenhouse gas emissions would be established. One of the major clauses in the legislation denies the states the right to collect their own data on emissions. The federal legislation is being examined by a Senate committee before a final vote is taken.

A Government source said the state would not be able to set any targets for emissions because it would not have the information from companies about how much they were discharging into the atmosphere. "How can you set targets under those circumstances?" the source said. The contentious "clause 5" of the legislation prevents the states from forcing any companies to provide any information about greenhouse gas emissions or energy provisions. "This could result in much of the data now required for the operation of state legislation and programs simply not being collected," the submission says.

SA says in its submission that not being able to collect the data will make most of the core mechanisms of the SA climate change law, including the setting of targets, "unworkable". It says other state laws affected include the licensing of power generation, gas distribution, the role of the Essential Services Commission and greenhouse gas impact assessment processes. SA also questions the timing of the introduction of the federal law which does not come into effect until 2012. "It may result in the cessation of many state and territory greenhouse programs," the submission says. "So there will be very few greenhouse mitigation strategies operating for four years at a time when reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is critical. This legislation has far-reaching consequences."

Recycled water proposal for growing Gracetown

West Australian
Wednesday 29/8/2007 Page: 16

WA is the on the verge of having its first town plumbed with recycled water with the State Government today calling for expressions of interest to build and operate such a system in the South-West coastal hideaway of Gracetown. Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said a recycled water system was part of the Government's plan to allow a sustainable expansion of Gracetown.

A range of wind, wave and solar energy options were also being considered to accommodate LandCorp's proposed 140-lot development, which would nearly double the size of the town. "The proposed recycled water system will be the first large-scale residential water system in the State that provides A-plus class recycled water directly into toilets and laundries of individual homes," Ms MacTiernan said.

The proposed system would provide non-drinking water for both the expansion and existing homes, which currently rely on rainwater tanks given there are no reticulated water or sewerage systems in town. Potable supplies would continue to be provided through rainwater tanks. Ms MacTiernan said the plan also involved the provision of a reticulated sewerage system, which would lead to the decommissioning of septic tanks and help restore the quality of groundwater in the area.

It is proposed the planned wastewater treatment plant be powered by a wind turbine. LandCorp estimates the recycled water system and associated wastewater system could cost $11 million to $15 million. Expressions of interest close on October 2.

Augusta-Margaret River Shire president Steve Harrison said the local government was interested in building and operating such a system. Cr Harrison said he believed the water recycling system was the way of the future and it compared favourably economically with the major headworks charges for traditional water and wastewater systems. Cr Harrison said the shire was also working with developer Aspen to introduce a similar water recycling system in Witchcliffe, south-east of Gracetown, which is expected to grow from about 40 homes to 800 in coming years.

Gracetown Progress Association vice-president John James said while some residents were concerned about being wastewater guinea pigs, most were keen to be involved in sustainable technology, particularly given other water options for the town were limited.