Thursday, 29 May 2008

Griffin in deal to test wave power

West Australian
Saturday 24/5/2008 Page: 16

Ric Stowe's Griffin Group wants to further expand its energy empire with a wave power station off Perth's northern suburbs. Griffin Energy has struck a joint development agreement with international expert Ocean Power Technologies to build a wave power station capable of producing 10 megawatts but with the potential for 100MW. It would use OPT's technology, which uses bobbing floats on buoys to generate power. To generate 10Mw, enough to power 10,000 homes, 40 buoys would be placed over 10ha about 5km offshore in water 50-60m deep.

Griffin energy boss, Wayne Trumble, refused to release costings or an exact location for what he said was only a potential research and development plant at this stage. However, OPT did a feasibility study near Yanchep and has published figures that by 2011 it hoped to bring the capital cost for its technology down to $2.2 million a megawatt. The [Vest Australian understands costs for a small, trial plant would be much higher.

Griffin and OPT were shortlisted to provide up to 5MW from unproved renewable energy technology for the Water Corporation's planned desalination plant near Binningup. The preferred tenderer should be announced by October. The partnership has also applied to the State Government's $36.5 million low emissions energy development fund and plans to apply for funding under the newly announced $500 million Federal renewable energy assistance plan.

Mr Trumble said the Binningup contract or another agreement with one of several potential industrial customers would be needed for the project to go ahead. OPT director Gilbert George said he did not expect environmental approvals to be a major hurdle given experience at the company's nine other projects around the world, including in the US, Spain and France. The EPA would be asked within months to set a level of assessment for any WA plant.

Griffin and OPT are not the only ones considering wave power off WA. The Carnegie Corporation hopes to announce a site for its first commercial wave power station within months after years of testing of its unique ocean-floor based technology off Fremantle. It is considering several sites overseas and in Australia, including Albany, for a $500 million station to produce 50MW of power plus 10- 15 gigalitres of desalinated water.

Carnegie boss Michael Ottaviano was not surprised other generators were interested in the WA coast because of the potential for wind farms from Geraldton to Eucla and its world class wave regime. Griffin plans to spend more than $1 billion on four 200MW coalfired stations near Collie and $250 million on a 130MW windfarm near its 80MW Cervantes complex.

Norwegian wind power

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 24/5/2008 Page: 81

NORWEGIAN state controlled oil firm StatoilHydro announced plans to build what it claims will be the world's first full-scale floating wind-powered electricity turbine. The company, based in Stavanger, is the key producer in the offshore oil industry that makes Norway a major petroleum exporter. It says the pilot project combines its offshore oil experience with advanced technology for wind power.

Solar panel sales crisis

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 24/5/2008 Page: 27

SOLAR panel retailers believe renewable energy sales will reduce by up to 80 per cent because of the Federal Government's move to means test the solar panel rebate. Solar shops across Adelaide have recorded a reduction in interest and sales since the Government announcement in this month's Budget. They say the move does not encourage households to use alternative energy to reduce their emissions or produce their own green power. Households with an income of more than $100,000 now are ineligible for the $8000 rebate.

Average solar panel systems can cost up to $15,000. Solar SA recorded a $150,000 reduction in sales in the three days following the announcement. That would equal greenhouse gas savings of taking seven cars off the road permanently. Director Rob Jung said means testing was an insult to the environment.

"Most ordinary South Australians who have a mortgage earn a combined income of more than $100,000," he said. "These are our customers and the Government has just scrapped the incentive for them to go green. This is about the environment, not cutting the cost of energy to poorer people's homes." The Solar Shop also has lost 200 orders in the past week and predicts losing up to $2 million in sales each month.

Director Adrian Ferraretto said 80 per cent of the company's customer base were from a higher socio-economic background and no longer would qualify for the rebate. "solar panels aren't cheap and they do need a rebate. However, slapping on a means test is the wrong approach and it will damage the industry," he said. "Many people feel ripped off.

Kevin Rudd presented himself as a greener option." A spokesman for Adelaide Solar City said it was still analysing whether the decision would affect the program. Among the program's initiatives is a discount when solar panels are purchased by residents who live in the Playford, Salisbury, Tea Tree Gully and Adelaide council areas. He said one of the program's solar panel offers had sold out before the threshold was introduced. Lower income earners were expected to fill any shortfall in the Solar City program.

HOT ROCKS Geothermal energy discovered in Yarram could generate a huge economic boost to the town

Yarram Standard News
Wednesday 14/5/2008 Page: 3

Yarram will be the centre of a search for geothermal energy, paving the way for a possible multi-million dollar investment. Victorian-based company Greenearth Energy is planning to explore the district for sources of water heated to steam by extreme temperatures in hydrothermal geothermal systems deep beneath the ground.

In ample supply, the steam could be powerful enough to turn turbines to produce electricity, with minimal greenhouse gases. Greenearth Energy last year received a permit from the Victorian Government to explore the Yarram district through to the Latrobe Valley and Sale. Company director Rob Annells said geothermal heat was found at Yarram by drillers searching for oil and gas on behalf of sister company, Lakes Oil.

"Lakes Oil drilled a well at Seaspray four years ago and they had hot water and steam come to the surface at 89 degrees. That was at 220m deep and we believe that if we go deeper, we could get hotter water," he said. "We have a cooperative arrangement with Lakes Oil and we collect samples from their oil wells and there are some in the Yarram area.."

Mr Annells said a viable geothermal system must have suitable temperature and volume of water. "If we get those two things, there is every reason that we could generate non-polluting power," he said. "But until we drill the holes, we are only surmising." The company will initially concentrate exploration efforts in the Latrobe Valley, close to existing electricity networks and major industry that could become customers.

"We are talking to a number of people in the region. We think we can lend a hand in the Latrobe Valley with coal drying, just as long as we can get hot water there," Mr Annells said. "As far as industry is concerned, they are big users of heat that at the moment use gas as well as electricity, so there is the possibility that we could generate environmentally friendly heat for them". Exploration efforts in the Yarram district will entail drilling up to three test holes, possibly up to 3km deep. "Until somebody does it, we don't know whether we're right or wrong. We need to step out and take that risk," Mr Annells said.

Another company, Sydney based Granite Power, has the licence to explore south and west Gippsland. Managing director Stephen de Belle said a 'clear target' has been identified five to 10km south of Warragul, towards Leongatha. "It's a properly delineated body of heat that we can develop. It could support two to three 250MW power stations, much smaller than those in the Latrobe Valley, but we're talking about greenhouse-free electricity," he said.

Another site south-west of Warragul has indicated heat between one and two kilometres below the surface. That heat could be used for power generation or by industry, Mr de Belle said. "We only have generalised data at this stage," he said. Underground heat can be harnessed via two systems: in hydrothermal geothermal systems, deep groundwater that has been naturally heated to steam temperatures is brought to the surface and used to turn turbines.

In dry rock systems. water is injected into hot rocks and returned to the surface once heated. In response to strong industry interest in exploration for geothermal energy, the Victorian Government recently released 19 new Victorian exploration areas. Energy and Resources Minister Peter Batchelor said the new exploration areas were located mostly in the Wimmera, in the north of the state, and also East Gippsland, and covered more than 154,000 square kilometres.

"The Brumby Government is taking action on climate change and with the rapid improvement of geothermal technology, now is the ideal time for exploration of and investment in Victoria's geothermal resources," Mr Batchelor said. He said the government, through the Victorian Renewable Energy Target scheme, aimed to increase energy generated from renewable sources to 10 per cent by 2016.

"Geothermal energy has the potential to provide clean and reliable energy, with close to zero greenhouse gas emissions, because it is generated from naturally occurring heat from hot rock and water reservoirs deep beneath the earth's surface," Mr Batchelor said. He said the close proximity of high voltage electricity transmission lines to potential geothermal energy sources made Victoria extremely attractive for geothermal investment because it reduced infrastructure costs.

The tender process follows 12 permits for geothermal exploration being granted in 2007 to five companies, which have committed to spending a total of $64 million over five years to explore for geothermal energy sources. People around the world use geothermal energy to produce electricity, to heat buildings and greenhouses, and for other purposes.

Electricity is now produced from geothermal energy in 21 countries and has been successfully used as a source of energy by the Romans, Chinese and native Americans for bathing, cooking, heating and spas. Water from hot springs is now used worldwide for heating buildings, for agriculture and industrial uses. Some visible features of geothermal energy are volcanoes, hot springs, geysers, and fumaroles. Usually geothermal energy is deep underground. There may be no clues above ground to what exists below ground.

Ancient Mt Bryan trees not under threat

Burra Broadcaster
Wednesday 21/5/2008 Page: 3

AGL Energy Limited (AGL) has reaffirmed that the proposed Hallett 3 wind farm east of Mount Bryan would not present any threat to the circle of ancient Eucalyptus bicostata trees in the area. AGL Group General Manager Gas and Power Development, Mike Moraza, said that AGL has been aware of the presence of the isolated community of trees at Mount Bryan for some time.

"AGL is already working with its own ecologists and the University of Tasmania to confirm the most suitable setback for future wind turbines. The company will be incorporating their feedback and any other appropriate measures in its planning application," Mr Moraza said.

"We are proceeding with the necessary studies and environment assessments for the proposed Hallett 3 wind farm on the ranges east of Mount Bryan. To support our application for planning approval, comprehensive environmental impact statement is being produced. "When it is completed, this document will include detailed studies from a range of specialists including ecologists.

AGL has a strong commitment to sustainable development and we will be including appropriate buffer zones and other measures to protect the Eucalyptus bicostata trees and any other significant trees or flora. These will be fully detailed in our environmental impact statement," Mr Moraza said. As part of the environmental impact statement process, we are also conducting consultation within the local community.

"We have invested significantly in South Australia and the company takes its responsibility as an active and contributing member of all local communities in which it has a presence very seriously.

"AGL is committed to a long-term sustainable presence in the midnorth of South Australia through the development and operation of our wind farms in the area. It is our considered view that on the whole the local community is supportive of our presence and the important role our wind assets being developed there will play in meeting Australia's future renewable energy requirements," Mr Moraza said. AGL plans to submit the planning application to the Regional Council of Goyder in June/July 2008.

Wind farm tender declared

St George & Sutherland Shire Leader
Tuesday 20/5/2008 Page: 20

THE Kurnell desalination plant will be powered by 63 turbines on a new wind farm being established at Bungendore near Queanbeyan. The State Opposition said the wind farm would become "a second white elephant," which would cost Sydney Water customers at least $9.67 million a year even when the desalination plant was idle. Premier Morris Iemma announced this week that Babcock and Brown Wind Partners and Babcock and Brown Power had been selected by Sydney Water as preferred tenderer.

Sydney Water chief executive Kerry Schott said 20-year contracts would provide for electricity to be purchased at a firm price, adjusted annually by the CPI. Dr Schott said the wind farm would continue to operate when the desalination plant was in stand-by mode. "During these periods, Babcock and Brown will sell the power to other customers," she said. "To ensure a new wind farm is built for the desalination plant, Sydney Water has committed to buying a minimum of 180,000 renewable energy certificates (RECs) a year.

"Sydney Water will buy extra RECs whenever the plant is operating to match the plants total energy use. Negotiations are proceeding with contracts expected to be signed soon." Opposition spokesman Chris Hartcher said that based on an average of $40 per REC which was expected to rise to $65-$75, and allowing for CPI increases, the wind farm would cost a further $9.67 million per year while the plant was idle. Mr Hartcher said the claim that the wind farm would increase wind power in NSW by 700 per cent showed how little had been done to increase renewable energy.

Wind farm powers the future: NACC

Farm Weekly
Thursday 22/5/2008 Page: 18

USING nature to provide energy is crucial to the future in a world where weather patterns and climate are unpredictable, the head of the Northern Agricultural Region's peak body for climate change adaptation says. Northern Agricultural Catchment Council (NACC) chairman Chris King said that more emphasis had to be placed on using wind. solar and other renewable resources to supply energy needs into the future.

Mr King was speaking after community meetings in Badgingarra and Cervantes at which the extension of the Emu Downs Wind Farm was discussed. Plans are underway effectively double the size of the existing wind farm from 80MW to 130MW, potentially providing power for another 80.000 homes. Mr King said given that the region was famous for the wind, and that the wind farms in Walkaway and Badgingarra had contributed to the State's energy grid very effectively, it made sense to continue the development.

"Not only that, the wind farms have become great tourist attractions in their own right," he said. "Not only are they generating green power, every time a tourist visits the interpretive centres they read about alternative power sources and learn a little about the importance of new thinking" He said the NACC was working with that new thinking. "While we acknowledge that many people are sceptical about climate change, or more specifically about what is causing it, there is no doubt that the weather patterns are changing from what we knew decades ago," he said. "It's critical that everyone in the region starts to think about how they can prepare for the changes ahead.

"The NACC has a primary role in assisting in doing that. "To do this, I'm keen on is ensuring that people understand what we can do as individuals, and supporting large scale initiatives such as the new wind farm" Nh King stressed that people who wanted information could contact NACC as the peak body in the region. "We don't profess to know all the answers;" he said. "No one does, but we'll certainly try and find someone who can talk knowledgeably and share this knowledge with everyone across the region."

A wait over windfarm

Albany Advertiser
Tuesday 20/5/2008 Page: 6

Mount Barker will have to wait at least another two years for its windfarm but preparations are still happening behind the scenes. SkyFarming technical director Andrew Woodroffe has been speaking with suppliers to determine which are the best turbines for the town and has been looking for investors for the project. At the moment, those involved are waiting for confirmation of a regional grant from the State government.

"Once we know that's happening and we get the go-ahead, we'll do a geotechnical investigation and hopefully start working with a major investor," Mr Woodroffe said.. "But we need that grant. Nothing can be done without it." There is a one and a half to two year wait for wind turbines worldwide due to high demand.

Mr Woodroffe said the wait will give his team the opportunity to have the civic and electric works in place by the time the parts are on the boat. "We'll now be looking at commissioning the windfarm at the end of 2009." Mr Woodroffe said.

Like it or not, windfarm is a goer

Albany Advertiser
Tuesday 20/5/2008 Page: 5

DENMARK'S controversial windfarm has been creating major turbulence ever since Ocean Beach was chosen as its location. But the project is set to go ahead regardless of community objections. Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan has confirmed a decision will be made about access to the proposed site within four to six weeks.

The Denmark Shire will vote at its meeting next Tuesday on whether it will support the department's request to allow access to the site through an 'A' class reserve. But the vote will have little effect on the Minister's decision. Ms MacTiernan said the Denmark Shire Council was asked to comment on the proposal and would take into consideration any arguments it had not already considered.

"Under the Land Administration Act we are required to consult with the local authorities, which is what we are doing," she said. But ultimately the decision will be made in Parliament because the site is on Crown land. Ms MacTiernan said Ocean Beach was chosen for "very good reasons" and acknowledged there was opposition to the location but likened it to the situation before the Albany windfarm was built.

"People were opposed to the Albany windfarm because of its picturesque location, but now they love it." Ms MacTiernan said. South Coast Landscape Guardians Incorporated representative Peter Mortimer remains opposed to the location. "The decision to put the windfarm at Ocean Beach shows contempt for the community," he said.

"They provided seven other sites but they always wanted the answer to be Ocean Beach." Denmark Shire chief executive Dale Stewart said the Council did not support the proposed site, but did support renewable energy and believed a windfarm would solve many of Denmark's electricity issues.

Denmark Community Wind Farm chairman Craig Chappelle said once funding and approvals were in place a connection agreement be signed with Western Power. "When all these are in place we can order the turbines," Mr Chappelle said. But there will still be up to a two year wait for the delivery of the turbines due to the manufacturers' difficulty in keeping up with a growing worldwide demand.

Business tackles Garrett on solar means test

AAP Newswire
Tuesday 20/5/2008

CANBERRA, May 20 AAP - Environment Minister Peter Garrett says the government won't back down on its decision to means test rebates for residential solar panels. Mr Garrett was confronted today by a large group of business executives voicing their disapproval of the budget measure. A National Business Leaders Forum on Sustainable Development, held in Parliament House, erupted into applause and cheers when a delegate tackled Mr Garrett over the issue.

"How about removing the means-testing regime on household solar?" the delegate asked Mr Garrett, who was chairing the session. "And instead, actually increasing the rebate so that every household, rich, poor, interested, disinterested, can convert to solar?" Mr Garrett waited for the applause to die down before responding. "I must admit I'm a little surprised to see business enthusiastically supporting the increase of a rebate of this size," he said.

Only households earning less than $100,000 will now qualify for the $8,000 rebate on solar panels. The business executives are not the only ones concerned about the means test. Supplier Conergy is to hold crisis talks with Mr Garrett tomorrow, warning 80 per cent of orders for solar panels have been cancelled. Mr Garrett gave no sign of backing down when asked if the means test was here to stay.

"Yes, that's right," he told AAP. "This is the right decision, given that the demand for this program was so strong." Mr Garrett played downs concerns about the decline of the solar industry and job losses. "I'm also confident that the industry, over time, will be able to continue on a sustainable path, it's important that it does," he said.

There had been "a problem" with the formerly non-means tested rebate program because it was too popular and would soon be fully subscribed. The means test would ensure the rebate went to those who most needed it. "We've addressed a problem with the existing program," Mr Garrett said. Conergy's managing director Roger Meads said the means test had led to job losses and he was deeply concerned.

"Following the government's solar means test announcement, Australian families have now cancelled 80 per cent of their solar system orders due to the cost being prohibitive, meaning less solar panels on roofs," he said. "It is unrealistic to suggest that families in Sydney, Melbourne or Perth on less than $100,000, with rising petrol and grocery prices, could actually afford to service a typical home loan - let alone pay to install solar panels.

"We understand this government needs to be vigilant when deciding how to spend taxpayers' money, but - to use the prime minister's own words - climate change is one of the greatest environmental, social and economic challenges of our time." Mr Meads has written to the prime minister and Mr Garrett, urging them to reconsider the means test.

Energy industry has demand for engineers

Daily News
Wednesday 21/5/2008 Page: 18

IT is estimated that Australia's burgeoning energy industry will need an additional 1500 to 2000 workers within the next five years to meet growth and retirements from the industry, according to the Australian Power Institute's chief executive Mike Griffin.

The Australian Power Institute is a not-for-profit national organisation established in 2004 by the electricity power industry to boost the quality and numbers of power engineering graduates with the skills and motivation for a career in the energy industry. Mr Griffin said there were some 5000 professionals that work in the energy sector including production, power generation, transmission, distribution, consultation and manufacturing. "In the professional engineering sector, the age group is skewered to the over-50s.

Couple that with the huge capital programs and infrastructure growth for most utilities in the energy sector, there will be a huge demand for power engineers," Mr Griffin said. "It is estimated that some $40 billion to $50 billion will be spent in the energy sector in the next decade.

"It's a tough ask to supply this skills gap, but the Australian Power Institute has developed a number of programs to encourage more people into a power engineering career." The institute is working hard to attract young graduates to the energy sector by awarding 40 bursaries for first-year engineering students across Australia that include valuable work experience in the industry.

"And we are close to launching a website aimed at Year 10 to 12 students to encourage them to pursue a career in power engineering," Mr Griffin said. "I asked a group of engineering graduates in Perth last week what was their motivating factor for joining the energy industry and more than 30% said it was because they were trying to make difference in regards to the renewable energy sector and our climate change concerns. "Young people can be part of the solution and this is an exciting time for the renewable energy industry and is a time when people can make an impact," he said.

"Graduates who have been in the energy sector for a couple of years overwhelmingly say that they initially had no idea of the breadth of experience they could gain in the industry sector." The institute invested $500,000 last year and $600,000 this year working with universities across Australia to improve the power engineering curriculum and provide laboratories and equipment to support young academics.

In addition, the Power Engineering Centre of Excellence has been launched with the help of a federal government Diversity Grant to specifically develop curriculum across seven universities for third and fourth-year power engineering students.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Gas problem could cause a rude shock

Wednesday 21/5/2008 Page: 2

AUSTRALIAN companies would probably have to cut greenhouse gas emissions "further and faster" than many anticipated, while compensation for the start of carbon trading might be less than they hoped for, Citigroup says.

Industries in competition with rivals in countries that did not place a cost on carbon would probably get less help from the free hand-out of permits than they would like, Citigroup said in the report. These were expected to include steel, cement, aluminium and liquefied natural gas, it said.

Australia is due this year to set targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, before a national emissions trading system starts in 2010. The Federal Government is due to release a discussion paper on the design of the emissions trading system in July, followed by draft legislation in December.

'Anecdotal evidence suggests that government will expect industry to play a meaningful role in emissions reduction," Sydney-based Citigroup analyst Elaine Prior said in the report.

"Shelter offered by free permits may be less than they had hoped or expected under the Coalition government, and allocation of free permits may be reduced faster." Woodside Petroleum, Exxon Mobil's Australian unit and Alcoa are among companies that have made submissions to a review of the proposed trading system, voicing support for the free allocation of carbon permits.

Engineering, construction and petroleum technology companies should benefit from investments in low-emissions power generation, carbon capture and disposal projects and modifications to industrial plant, Citigroup said.

"We expect engineering solutions to meet 2015, 2020, 2030 targets will require major spending into the next decade," Ms Prior said.

Westpac starts carbon trading at $19 a tonne

Canberra Times
Wednesday 21/5/2008 Page: 6

Australia's emissions trading market has been unofficially born and the all-important carbon price has started at $19 a tonne. Energy giant AGL has sold Westpac bank 10,000 tonnes of "permits to pollute." AGL said the sale to Westpac would take effect in 2012, and would create liquidity in energy markets beyond 2010.

The official Emissions Trading Scheme, which puts a cap and a price on greenhouse gas emissions to help ward off climate change, is scheduled to start in 2010. The Federal Government will not finalise the scheme - which is likely to see emissions permits auctioned - until the end of the year at the earliest.

The chairman of information and business networking firm Asia-Pacific Emissions Trading Forum, Tony Beck, said the first permit sales showed the market was already taking shape. "It really marks the beginning of trading directly linked to an Australian Emissions Trading Scheme," the emissions trading expert said.

"It's demonstrating confidence that the scheme will be established." He said most companies would wait to buy emissions permits, but some would pre-empt the scheme to minimise risk and establish prices. "There will be a growing trade in anticipation of the scheme being established," Dr Beck said.

Buying or selling permits in advance was a case of "learning by doing." The $19 a tonne paid by Westpac was a reasonable estimate of what the carbon price would be, Dr Beck said, although it was lower than the European price of about 20 euro a tonne. Meanwhile, draft federal laws allowing the burial of greenhouse gases deep beneath the seabed are being scrutinised by oil and coal companies.

The controversial process, called Carbon Capture and Storage, is held by some to be a central part of Australia's efforts to tackle climate change. The Commonwealth laws would only allow such storage at sea. Burying emissions underground on land would be covered by state laws.

CO2 Cooperative Research Centre chief executive Peter Cook said a key issue with undersea storage was that oil and petroleum companies wanted sites for exploration and extraction, while coal companies wanted sites to fill with greenhouse gases. The draft laws tried to strike a balance between the two competing interests, Dr Cook said.

The Australian Coal Association welcomed the draft laws and said it would examine the legislation to ensure transparent, competitive arrangements were in place for access to storage sites. But Greens climate change spokeswoman Christine Milne said the laws opened a "Pandora's box" around who would be liable for leakage of greenhouse gases from undersea storage sites. She said it was an issue that could never be satisfactorily resolved.

Rockefellers urge Exxon to greener future

Wednesday 21/5/2008 Page: 7

A SHAREHOLDER revolt at Exxon Mobil led by the billionaire Rockefeller family has won the support of some significant British institutional investors. F&C Asset Management, Morley Fund Management, the Co-operative Insurance Society, Universities Superannuation, Railpen Investments and the West Midlands Pension Fund are throwing their weight behind a resolution demanding that Exxon Mobil appoint an independent chairman.

The world's biggest oil company is facing a rebellion over its hardline approach to global warming. The company has refused to follow rival oil companies in committing largescale capital investment to environmentally friendly technology. Rockefeller ancestor John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil, the business at the core of Exxon Mobil.

His dynasty sponsored four shareholder resolutions. One of these calls on the chief executive, Rex Tillerson, to relinquish his role as chairman in favour of an outsider. The London based corporate governance advisory service Pirc will recommend that institutions support this proposal.

"Despite top-notch individual directors, the company's record over the last decade, particularly regarding climate change, demonstrates that debate has been lacking," said F&C Asset Management's Karina Litvack.

By bringing in an independent chairman, the company can better leverage that creativity and challenge, and avoid over dominance by management." Exxon maintains that green technologies are not viable. But critics fear that the company's reluctance to explore alternative energy will prove to be bad business judgement as rivals seek to capture public affection by rebranding themselves as environmentally sensitive enterprises.

The Rockefellers point out that Exxon has $US25 billion ($A26.2 billion) of capital investment planned in carbon-based fuel but its environmental commitment is centred on $US100 million to fund a Stanford University project on climate change. At last year's meeting, 40% of investors' votes were cast in favour of an independent chairman.

The result of this resolution is not binding on Exxon but the company has said that its board will reconsider any policy challenged by successful shareholder resolutions. Exxon says its board is better placed than investors to decide on the company's leadership structure.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Airport set for switch to the sun: Solar Project - troubled by delays - is close to completion.

Adelaide Advertiser
Wednesday 21/5/2008 Page: 24

It is the largest commercial solar installation contract in South Australia. BP Solar manufactured and supplied 760 solar panels that have been installed on the middle of the airport's Terminal 1 roof by contractor Solaris Technology. All solar modules and power equipment are in place, leaving only the final wiring and commissioning, Solaris managing director Sandy Pulsford said yesterday.

"This is a landmark project. As the second largest photovoltaic system in Australia, this project puts Adelaide on the solar map," he said. The panels will be visible from the air but will not be seen from the ground. The start of the project was reported by The Advertiser in March, after delays dogging the plan had been highlighted for months. The beginning of work ended months of secrecy about the project, which was funded with $1 million of taxpayers' money.

The project was announced on October 9, 2005, by Premier Mike Rann. Last November, The Advertiser reported a dispute between Mr Rann and Adelaide Airport Limited about the project's direction, after revealing in September axing of the original concept. Infrastructure Department deputy chief executive Rod Hook yesterday said the Government was pleased with the project's progress. "We now expect the panels will be connected and operating by the middle of the year, delivering a maximum system rating of 114kW," he said.

Mr Pulsford said one of the main challenges facing workers was getting all solar modules and steelwork on to the airport's roof. This involved a B-double semi-trailer and a 60-tonne crane with a boom long enough to reach the airport terminal roof from the car park, and lifting 14 tonnes of solar modules and frames in one day. Weight restrictions on the roof meant all equipment had to be carried to its final locations and secured against the wind by the end of the day. The array was 140m long and 8m wide, he said.

Countdown to solar go: Decision within months on whether Mildura gets nod

Sunraysia Daily
Tuesday 20/5/2008 Page: 3

THE north-west Victorian site of the largest solar power station in the world could be decided within months. Mildura, Swan Hill and Kerang are all in the running to host the $420 million large-scale solar powered plant with construction to begin next year. Solar Systems sustainability manager Julia Birch said the company was continuing to investigate a potential site or sites including negotiations with both Mildura Rural City Council and Sunraysia Mallee Economic Development Board.

Two sites around Mildura and single venues at both Swan Hill and Kerang are believed to be on the short list of preferred locations. "From a company perspective, work has already started in northwest Victoria, although it is not a visible presence yet," Ms Birch said. "Much work has gone into site selection and we would hope to make an announcement before the end of this year.

"Solar Systems representatives have visited the area many times to assess sites and while that investigation is ongoing, great strides are being made to identify preferred areas." Federal and Victorian governments have injected $130 million towards the project, while leading integrated energy company TRUEnergy has invested $40 million in return for a 20 per cent ownership interest.

The project is expected to generate 950 new jobs during construction, with a demonstration facility near Bendigo expected to be complete next year. Technology demonstrated at the $10 million Bridgewater facility will be utilised in the north-west Victoria project. Ms Birch said the low emission technology sector was a "very competitive market" with indications that "all is looking up" for the industry.

"We have firm government support and we are very serious to deliver on that support. "There has been much behind-the- scenes engineering design work and the completion of the Bendigo facility will open the way for the construction of the facility in northwest Victoria." The north-west Victorian solar power station project is planned to begin generation in 2010 and be fully completed by 2013.

Using high performance solar cells originally developed to power satellites, the full-sized photovoltaic solar plant will produce 154MW of electricity, enough clean energy to power 45,000 homes. Victorian Energy and Resources Minister Peter Batchelor this month endorsed the solar project for northwest Victoria. "When Solar Systems solar power station has been completed, we will see a 154 megawatt power station with sufficient plant to provide electricity to light up a city the size of Geelong," Mr Batchelor told State Parliament.

"This essentially will be through zero emissions energy generation," he said. "Through investment in projects such as these the government will continue to demonstrate its dedication to combating climate change and further position Victoria as a global leader in the development of renewable energy." Mr Batchelor and Premier John Brumby earlier announced the go-ahead for the Solar Systems and TRUEnergy partnership to build the world's largest solar power station.

He said the Victorian Labor Government contributed funding to the project through its energy technology innovation strategy. "As well as direct funding, the Victorian Government has provided the Victorian renewal energy target (VRET), the right regulatory framework, which has enabled this scheme to be secured for Victoria," Mr Batchelor said. "VRET has enabled this investment to be brought forward," he said.

"It is because of the regulatory framework that this investment will be made in clean energy." Mr Batchelor said it was clear the Brumby Government had put in place the right framework for the project. "It has provided the most appropriate grants and it has provided the most suitable economic and commercial climate for the development of these sorts of projects," he said. "That is why the Solar Systems project will go ahead."

AGL makes first trade in emissions scheme

Tuesday 20/5/2008 Page: 2

A MAJOR Australian energy company has decided not to wait for the start of a national emissions-trading scheme in 2010 and is offering to buy and sell future permits to its customers. Gas and electricity giant AGL has just completed the first future sale of permits in the yet-to-be-finalised trading scheme, promising to sell 10,000 tonnes worth of greenhouse gases to Westpac on February 1,2012, for $19 per tonne.

The trade is the result of months of research by AGL as it positions itself before the release of the federal Government's green paper on an Emissions Trading Scheme in July, leading to the framing of draft legislation by the end of this year. AGL chief executive Michael Fraser said the first trade was more of an introductory offer, and at such a small scale should not be interpreted as defining the expected future price. "We've been preparing for this for a number of years now," Mr Fraser told The Australian.

We formed a view of where that might be. This is really establishing that market. The sooner we can establish liquidity in that market, we will be looking to buy or sell to other parties so business can start to get some certainty about what the costs are going to be out there." A private carbon exchange was established last year, but only trades existing state-based offset schemes.

Archer wind farm gains govt support

Cooktown Local News
Wednesday 14/5/2008 Page: 5

CRITICAL state and local government support needed to kick-start a proposed $250 million wind farm near Cooktown has been reaffirmed to overseas investors. Government officials reaffirmed the State's support for the project at a meeting in Brisbane on Friday with the German consortium's representative, HE Engineering's Edwin Cywinski, and Brisbane - based Wind Power Queensland, said WPQ managing director Lloyd Stumer.

Cook Shire councillors also resolved last month to provide "strong support" for the massive development - on a 2300ha seaward tract near the largely protected scenic and popular recreation area - "due to the economic and environmental benefits that will accrue to the shire in the first instance, and the environment in the second instance."

The bureaucratic nods come almost two decades after Mr Stumer, a former Brisbane-based meteorologist, first singled out the coastal location 15km south of Cooktown as the best in Queensland for a wind farm. Last month, the Local News revealed that the powerful overseas consortium of wind farm developers, turbine manufacturers and bankers were in the final stages of negotiations with WPQ to fund and build the 50 to 60-turbine, 120 megawatt wind farm - enough to power Cairns and beyond.

The syndicate, which includes Germany's largest and the world's fifth-largest bank, the Deutsche Bank, as well as major European renewable energy sector investor, the Aktiva Group, has extensive experience in such developments in Germany - the world leader in wind power, with its 22,000MW capacity about double what Queensland's entire grid generates.

But in a nation where green power electricity levels feature low on the global stage, coal-rich Queensland still lags well behind other Australian states in wind power production, with just one 12MW wind farm on the Atherton Tableland.

Mr Stumer said it was the Rudd Government's pledge to legislate for 20 per cent of energy to be from renewable sources by 2020, and its signing of the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change, that provided a catalyst for the Archer project's investors.

"The whole process has taken longer than envisaged because the establishment of a large wind farm in Queensland is a new process for the Queensland Government," he said. "Despite government in-principle approval for the last few years, there has been an absence of operational state and national policies to support the sale of sufficient green energy for any wind farm development in Queensland.

"The Archer Point Wind Farm project will become the leading Queensland project using best already-proven technology to assist in the necessary global actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate the effects of climate change." Mr Stumer said a public information meeting with Cooktown residents would be organised as soon as possible once the German consortium finished its due diligence requirements, expected within a few months.

The stage one, 120MW wind farm was hoped to be running within two years, with plans for a stage two expansion still dependent on commercial and electricity grid capacity factors, he said.

Peak environment body welcomes wind farm news

Central Midlands & Coastal Advocate
Thursday 15/5/2008 Page: 14

USING nature to provide energy is crucial to the future in a world where weather patterns and climate are unpredictable says the head of the Northern Agricultural Region's peak body for the environment, sustainability, natural resource management and climate change adaptation. Chris King, chair of Northern Agricultural Catchment's Council said that more emphasis had to be placed on using wind, solar and other renewable resources to supply energy needs into the future.

He was speaking following community meetings in Badgingarra and Cervantes at which the extension of the Emu Downs Wind Farm was discussed. Plans are underway effectively double the size of the existing wind farm from 80MW to 130MW which could potentially provide power for an additional 80,000 homes. Mr King said given that the region was famous for the wind, and the fact that the wind farms in Wallaway and Badgingarra had contributed to the State's energy grid very effectively, it made sense to continue the development.

"Not only that, the wind farms have become great tourist attractions in their own right," he said. "Everytime a tourist visits the interpretive centres they read about the green power that is generated and learn about alternative power sources and the importance of new thinking." He stressed that new thinking was something that the NACC was working towards. "While we acknowledge that many people are sceptical about climate change, or more specifically about what is causing it, there is no doubt that the weather patterns are changing from what we knew decades ago," he said.

"It's critical that everyone in the region starts to think about how they can prepare for the changes ahead. NACC has a primary role in assisting in doing that. To do this, I'm keen on is ensuring that people understand what we can do as individuals, and supporting large scale initiatives such as the new wind farm."

Mr King stressed that people who wanted information could contact NACC as the peak body in the region.,. We don't profess to know all the answers," he said. "No-one does, but we'll certainly try and find someone who can talk knowledgeably and share this knowledge with everyone across the region."

Monday, 26 May 2008

Wave-to-grid by next year

Weekend Australian
Saturday 17/5/2008 Page: 24

THE first stage of a potentially large wave energy project is scheduled to start generating its first electricity as early as April next year at Portland, Victoria, according to Oceanlinx, the New South Wales-based company behind the project. The Portland operation initially will consist of two, 1.5 megawatt units which would feed up to 27MW of power into the local grid.

According to Oceanlinx's chief operating officer, Stuart Bensley, environmental surveys and approvals are underway, and it is expected the first of the company's 1.5MW floating wave energy conversion units will be on line in the second quarter of 2009. Bensley says the company is seeking approval to install two of its patented technology wave energy conversion units in the first instance, but that the project has the potential to expand to as many as 18 units.

The Victorian Government's clean energy arm, Sustainability Victoria, has backed the technology with a $1 million grant toward the $5 million first unit from its $80 million Renewable Energy Support Fund. Oceanlinx, based in Botany, has also been selected by the UK Government as one of four wave energy technology groups to plug into the government's new "wave hub" off the coast of Cornwall. The South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA) is setting up the world's first large-scale wave farm, where it is testing the world's leading wave energy technology for renewable power generation.

The RDA is investing 27 million pounds on the hub ($60 million), which will include an onshore substation connected to electrical equipment on the seabed, 16 kilometres offshore. One of the biggest issues for the renewable energy industry in Australia is the low renewable energy electricity tariff and the lack of clarity there has been on carbon pricing," Bensley said. "We're getting some clarity now with the new federal Government, but the electricity tariff for renewable energy in Australia is low by world standards," he said.

He says the tariff offshore is as much as three times the rate in Australia and that this is a legacy of Australia's heavy reliance on the coal industry but that is slowly changing. While the company is forging ahead to try to meet its 2009 scheduled start-up, Sustainability Victoria's project manager of renewable energy deployment, John Edgoose, says the environmental approvals process had been protracted because there is no precedent for a project of this type.

He says it is "difficult to predict" when the project will come on stream. "The first is always the hardest; the second and third and others are much easier. That's been the rationale for our funding to support pioneers with technology that's technically proven, but not yet reached the commercial stage. This is certainly one of the leading- edge wave technologies, there are a few of them emerging from R&D from around the world but deployment internationally is about getting the first commercial operation up and running," Edgoose said.

Oceanlinx has already successfully tested its technology with a 500 kilowatt wave energy project operating at Port Kembla, NSW. It is also developing a project in Hawaii after signing an agreement to install its floating wave energy converters off the coast of Maui. And it is investigating projects off Namibia and Rhode Island. The company's patented technology relies on wave action to create airflow within an overwater chamber, which then drives a turbine and generates electricity.

The Oceanlinx project is Australia's first hope of seeing commercially viable renewable energy from the ocean. In the early 2000s a proposal for a tidal energy harnessing project in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia was unsuccessful because the proposed project was of insufficient size to be commercially viable. But despite this early failure, federal Western Australian-based Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey is convinced that with enough research and support clean energy could be generated from the giant tidal movements in Western Australia's Kimberley region and fed into the eastern states power grid.

The power generated could also be used by major liquefied natural gas producers to lower emissions during the natural gas liquification process, says Tuckey. Tuckey has been a long-time advocate for the research, and says he has been disappointed as successive governments have failed to invest in research to advance the commercialisation of this natural resource. "I'd like to see the government have a tidal energy department to progress this," he said.

"As long as we continue to consume we have to turn to a resource that is predictable and of a magnitude that we can achieve something, and this is it. "In France they have generated 250 megawatts of tidal energy for nearly 50 years and we've got a better resource, with 11-metre tides twice daily. The coastline there is fiordic and there are hundreds of opportunities to harvest this energy," he said.

He says the French are successfully using tidal energy at the Rance River, and this has been running since 1966 with a capacity of 240 megawatts. Tuckey says he has urged Woodside Energy to become the first commercial customer for this type of energy and use the power in its gas liquification process for the new Browse Basin project.

According to Tuckey this would enable the company to preserve its natural gas for export rather than using it in power generation, and would reduce CO2, emissions. "The equivalent of 10 per cent of potential LNG exports are being burnt domestically to power the liquification process. If they used tidal energy they could export this gas instead of burning it here." Woodside's response is that variations in tidal power make it unsuitable. However the company says that s tidal power technology advances it will monitor its potential as a supplementary energy source.

The Clean Energy Council of Australia's manager of policy, Rob Jackson, says the potential in the Kimberley is enormous, although there are two issues in harnessing power in the region the location is remote and demand for power there is low. He also says the investment needed for suitable infrastructure to harness and transport the power is enormous, and probably outweighs the benefits to business and consumers.

Solar panel businesses cry foul

Hobart Mercury
Saturday 17/5/2008 Page: 5

THE solar industry has warned the Federal Government's means test for a rebate on solar panels will stifle the uptake of renewable energy. Orders with local installers have already been cancelled following Tuesday's Budget decision, in which households earning more than $100,000 will no longer be eligible for the $8000 rebate on photovoltaic systems. Environment Minister Peter Garrett defended the decision, saying it would ensure the subsidy went to people who really needed it.

But the industry said the policy appeared to be aimed at saving money and would put solar energy out of reach for everybody. "From my experience, it is people with spare income that can afford to install these systems," installer Brett Carter said. He said a homeowner earning less than $100,000 would struggle to afford even the subsidised cost of a typical $16,000 to $24,000 system.

"I would say at least 60 per cent of my business would be in the category that will no longer be eligible. "It will have a huge impact on the industry and it doesn't make sense because surely we should be encouraging people to be as energy efficient as possible." Kyocera, one of the country's largest solar cell manufacturers, predicted the decision would result in a catastrophic 65 to 90 per cent downturn in the industry.

Those fears were confirmed by Tasmanian installers and distributors contacted by the Mercury this week. Jessups Retravision in Launceston had two cancellations a day after the Budget. "We are talking $16,000 and $27,000 worth of orders we have already lost this morning as a direct result of this decision." solar cells manager Colin Mendoza said.

Richard Benjamin is building an energy efficient home on the Eastern Shore using solar passive principles, double glazed windows and internal and external insulation throughout. He had hoped to install solar panels to take the house almost entirely of the grid but lie was relying on government assistance to offset the significant up-front cost. "Solar was the final step but without the rebate I am much less likely to consider extending my mortgage even further to do what I wanted to do," Mr Benjamin said.

He said the Federal Government should be making it easier, not harder, for people to make their homes energy efficient. But Mr Garrett defended his Government's green credentials. "This Budget also includes other solar measures including a Green Loans Plan under which 200.000 Australian families will be able to access low interest loans to help with the up-front costs of installing solar technologies and other water and energy savings technologies," he said.

"And under the Solar Schools Plan more than 9000 Australian schools will be able to install solar technology as well as additional water and energy saving measures." The Budget decision prompted the Tasmanian Greens to call on the State Government to introduce their own subsidy for all householders.

Solar panel subsidies not smart, says German MP

Saturday 17/5/2008 Page: 9

AUSTRALIA is taking a wrong path by offering subsidies to install solar rooftop panels, instead of promising households high prices if they sell excess power to the grid, a leading German MP has warned. Hans Josef Fell, the Greens' energy spokesman and coauthor of Germany's pathbreaking Renewable Energies Act, said renewable energy now made up 14% of Germany's electricity generation, mainly due to good prices for selling excess power.

On a visit to lobby Australia to support a German move to set up an International Agency for Renewable Energy, Mr Fell said the Government's budget decision to end subsidies on solar panels for households earning more than $100,000 showed why subsidies did not work. "They're revised every year, and if companies are to invest in new technology, they need to know that the market will be there for 10 years," he said.

"Feed-in tariffs do that, so long as the tariffs are high enough, the grid is required to take the power, and the period of tariffs is long enough." In his state of Bavaria, in Germany's relatively sunny south, 2% of all power is produced by rooftop solar panels, Mr Fell said. By contrast, coal prices are rising so rapidly that to invest in coal for a 30-year power station is now risky as well as an environmental threat.

The solar industry in Australia has reported a collapse of orders after the decision to limit the $8000 rebate for solar electricity panels to households earning less than $100,000 a year.

Windfarm's £2bn contract signed
15 May 2008

The world's largest offshore windfarm is to be built off the Suffolk coast in a contract worth almost £2bn. The Greater Gabbard scheme, to be sited 23km (12 miles) off the coast, will have the potential to supply power to 415,000 homes, the government said.

Power from the 140 turbines would help cut carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5m tonnes a year - equivalent to taking 350,000 cars off the road. It is a joint venture between Airtricity and US firm Fluor. Sub-contracts, which could benefit local companies, are expected to be announced soon.

Climate change
The windfarm will be placed close to two shallow sandbanks - the Inner Gabbard and the Galloper. It will occupy 150 sq km within the outer Thames Estuary strategic wind farm area. The government granted approval for the Greater Gabbard scheme in February, last year. The decision to grant consent was taken after a thorough consideration of the possible impacts of the project on a range of environmental and other issues, a ministerial statement said.

Airtricity is the renewable energy development division of Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE). Ian Marchant, chief executive of SSE, said: "The UK wants to respond to climate change and become more self-sufficient in energy, so it makes sense to exploit the excellent resource that UK offshore wind represents." Mr Marchant said that on completion Greater Gabbard will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world.

Technology Advancements Allow Batteries To Store More Wind Energy
March 4, 2008

The gigantic wind turbines in Donegal on the west coast of Ireland are not only standing on the geographical limits of Europe -- they are also on the cutting edge of a revolutionary technology for storing large amounts of energy from wind power. The 32-megawatt (MW) wind park in Sorne Hill will be the first in Europe to integrate a big back-up battery system that will ensure a reliable supply of electricity no matter how big the fluctuations in the wind might be.

"The battery enables large amounts of energy from wind or solar power to be stored, managed, controlled and sent into the electricity grid when it is needed. It doesn't matter whether the wind is blowing or not, the battery makes the electricity output predictable and reliable," said Tim Hennessy, CEO of VRB Power Systems, the Canadian manufacturers of the battery. Analysts say the potential market for technology that can provide reliable storage for large amounts of energy from wind and solar power is huge.

Battery storage could be especially useful when wind power feeds into a grid that belongs to a so-called "island" such as in the UK and Ireland, but also in Spain on the Iberian Peninsula — in effect an electrical island with limited interconnections with France in the north and Morocco in North Africa. By contrast, the electricity grids of the big European wind nations of Germany and Denmark are interconnected with their northern neighbors. Excess wind power from these countries goes all over Europe with the grid effectively acting as a huge storage system.

Also, Germany is harnessing the full spectrum of renewable sources such as hydropower with dams and biomass to provide a back up to wind. It also has lots of salt mines to store energy in the form of compressed air. However, the "electrical islands" of Ireland and Great Britain with little hydropower and a scarcity of salt mines could need huge amounts of battery storage as they expand their use of wind power so that the ingress of wind power into the system doesn't lead to grid instability.

Wind parks on a colossal scale are being planned in the UK and Ireland. The UK is planning to install 33 GW of capacity of offshore wind power by 2020. Ireland has 1000 MW of wind power but is planning to install 2,400 MW of wind by 2016 and 4,300 MW by 2020 to reduce the country's reliance on imported fossil fuels and cut harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

That means the 2-MW battery in Sorne Hill, Buncara, due to be in operation in 2009, could be just the start. Hugh Sharman of Incoteco ApS, Denmark, a contractor with VRB, estimates that Ireland could need as much as 1000 MW of battery storage capacity by 2016. As oil and gas prices continue to rise, the battery storage system will become more cost effective. A Mwh of electricity generated by wind turbines in Ireland costs 70 euros [US $106], making it much cheaper than the equivalent electricity generated by natural gas, said Sharman. These prices offset the high initial investment costs of the battery.

The battery could also be used to capitalize on different tariffs for peak and off-peak electricity: electricity could be stored during off-peak hours when the cost is low and fed into the system in peak hours when the price is high. The UK would need up to 12,000 MW of battery storage to balance out the system if the country goes ahead with its plan to install 33 GW of wind capacity by 2020 and decides to use batteries as a back up, Sharman said.

Nuclear and clean coal will supply a base load of 20 GW, with wind power supplying 33 GW under the plans. However, the country's summer valley load is 20 GW and winter valley load is about 33 GW, and the base load will be difficult to operate with so much fluctuating wind load. The battery can be used to store not only wind but also solar energy, for example, in the million-roof program in California, Sharman said. Replacing the centralized electricity generation system with a million mini solar power plants on roofs might find a storage system useful, he said.

The Flow batteries was developed at the University of New South Wales in Australia in the early 1980s and developed by Vancouver-based VRB Power Systems. It generates a current by putting large amounts of oppositely charged electrolytes in a vanadium sulphate solution in motion between positively and negatively charged electrolytes.

The battery soaks up electricity when the wind turbines produce an excess amount for the system. It then feeds the electricity into the system almost instantaneously as soon as the wind speed drops. It can make electricity from wind 95 percent constant. The VRB battery can be deep-cycled 14,000 times, much more than a conventional lead-acid battery. It is also greener than other batteries and made without toxic metals as lead, cadmium, zinc, and nickel.

Ralf Bischof from the German Wind Energy Association (Bundesverband WindEnergie) said that any battery system would need to be more cost effective to be viable for storing wind power for Germany given the cheaper alternatives. "A wind back up system would be economical from about one euro cent per kWh in Germany. Wind electricity is 8 cents per kW/h. Right now we use all the wind power that wind parks can generate in Germany. There's none left over to store," he said.

He said that battery storage technology for cars had huge potential market in Germany. "Electrical cars will need to recharge their batteries from clean sources such as wind power, for example," he said. The huge market for batteries for electric cars that can be recharged using wind or solar power could be captured by EnerDel. The U.S. company has produced a lithium-ion battery that will be used by electric vehicles to be mass manufactured in Norway and rolled out in 2009.

EnerDel says its batteries made of lithium-ion are cheaper and lighter than the nickel metal hybrid batteries now used in hybrid electric cars. "It is vital to develop battery technology for storing energy from renewable energy sources," Bischof said.

Iberdrola to invest $8 billion in US renewable energy
Online News, London, 22 May:

Iberdrola Renewables is to invest $8 billion in renewable energy in the US by 2010, with the intention of attaining a 15% share of the US wind power market. Through its renewable energy subsidiary, the Spanish utility Iberdrola, which recently became the world's largest owner of wind power capacity, aims to more than double its US wind capacity, where it has already invested $9 billion in recent years.

A spokesman for Iberdrola said that the company currently has a 12% market share in US wind, so the 15% target "may not seem a big jump, but it takes into account the expectations of very rapid growth in this sector." At the end of the first quarter of this year, Iberdrola had nearly 2,400 MW of wind power in the US and it intends to finish the year with 3,600 MW. It is the second largest player in the US wind power market behind Florida-based FPL Energy.

"Iberdrola has had its own presence in the US largely on the eastern side of the country, Pennsylvania particularly, but when Iberdrola bought Scottish Power it inherited a company called PPM Energy in the States, which is a very large producer of wind power and has quite a considerable pipeline as well. That, added to Iberdrola's own pipeline, means that the growth is quite strong," the spokesman added.

Announcing the move, Iberdrola's president, Ignacio Galan, stressed that this commitment requires an improvement in the US regulatory framework, which must be predictable, sufficient and provide stability. The move comes after first quarter figures showed a large increase in US wind capacity, with 1,400 MW installed at a cost of $3 billion. A US energy department report released this month said that wind power could supply 20% of US electricity needs by 2030, with the number of annual installations needing to more than triple by 2017 to achieve that.

Renewable energy targets are world’s best practice policy, industry says.

Clean Energy Council
23 May 2008

The Clean Energy Council today offered its continued strong support for the federal government's 20% by 2020 renewable energy target in response to the Productivity Commission's submission to the Garnaut Review. Council CEO, Rosemary Warnock, said that it's right for Australia to adopt the global standard for climate change policy. A designated market for clean energy is an essential complement to an effective Emissions Trading Scheme.

"A renewable energy target is the proven best way to provide both investor certainty and a competitive market for clean energy – ensuring immediate deployment and a sustainable, cost effective climate change strategy for the long term," she said.

Stationary energy is responsible for 50% of Australia's emissions. Therefore any climate change solution must target the energy sector specifically. Estimates from the Clean Energy Council indicate that the 20% renewable energy target will create $20 billion worth of new investment and around 50,000 jobs from now until 2020, particularly in regional areas. The market-driven measure allows all zero-emission energy sources to compete including wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.

"Australia's clean energy industry is ready right now to meet the target and substantially reduce our greenhouse gas emissions", said Ms Warnock. The government has continued to support renewable energy targets since Prime Minister Rudd formally announced the policy during the UNFCCC talks in Bali last year. The industry will work closely with the Commonwealth to deliver this policy.

Australia heads towards a clean energy future one budget at a time

Clean Energy Council
13 May 2008

The Clean Energy Council, the peak national industry body for the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors, said the Rudd government delivered on its climate change election promises in their first federal budget. "Climate change requires a whole-of-government approach and the Rudd team have delivered," said Clean Energy Council CEO, Rosemary Warnock.

Ms Warnock continued,"the budget tackles climate change at its major source – stationary energy – through a number of substantial initiatives including:
  • An Emissions Trading Scheme,
  • a renewable energy target of 20% by 2020,
  • well over half a billion dollars on R&D and innovation funding and
  • a broad range of energy efficiency measures such as the Green Building Fund for commercial buildings, the Clean Business Australia program, the Climate Ready Fund, the Green Loans initiative for households and the 10-star rating program for appliances. "
"The government has taken the right steps toward a comprehensive framework of policies needed to successfully reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. With the Garnaut review coming up later in the year; we look forward to working with government on the all important detail of these key policies, required to meet our international obligations and reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions," Ms Warnock said.

The Council also said it will review the impact means testing of the solar photovoltaic (PV) rebate scheme will have on the solar industry; particularly without the introduction of a national gross metering feed-in tariff. Although the government is bringing funding forward for the scheme, its unknown the impact means testing will have.

The Clean Energy Council has a five point plan for transitioning Australia's energy sector towards a low carbon economy. The plan includes an Emissions Trading Scheme, a renewable energy target, an energy efficiency target, R&D funding and removing systemic and market barriers to the uptake of clean energy and energy efficiency.

Victorian solar scheme leads but industry seeks national approach

Clean Energy Council
7 May 2008

The Clean Energy Council, the peak industry body for clean energy including solar power, will continue lobbying for a national solar energy reward scheme paid on the total solar energy produced – known as a ‘gross metering feed-in tariff' – even with the Victorian government's announcement yesterday.

The Victorian government scheme will pay households 60 cents for every kilowatt hour of excess clean energy fed into the electricity grid. South Australia and Queensland are offering a 44 cent net price and the ACT will also announce a scheme. The Council said that the Victorian scheme was commendable for improving on both the South Australian and Queensland schemes.

However, the lack of national consistency, and state schemes only paying a premium on net generation, would not lead to the dramatic increase in domestic solar power needed to impact Australia's emissions from the stationary energy sector.

"Industry recognises that nationally consistent clean energy initiatives will drive the adoption of renewable energy across Australia. However it's about creating a tipping point in the market," said Clean Energy Council General Manager-Policy, Rob Jackson. "With gross metering your utility company pays you a premium for every kilowatt hour of zero-emission energy made by your solar system, whether it's used on site or fed back into the grid. So your system actually earns you money," he said.

Feed-in tariffs have proven to be a successful incentive to stimulate rapid uptake of solar energy in Europe, reducing the domestic and commercial demand for high-emission fossil fuel power. Some countries are now looking at feed-in laws for large scale clean energy infrastructure as well. Stationary energy is responsible for 50% of Australia's emissions. Clean energy like solar power provides electricity where and when it's needed and helps reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

Algae's potential for biofuels

Goulburn Town & Country
Monday 5/5/2008 Page: 5

THE potential of algae to become a viable future feedstock for biofuels came under the microscope at a forum in Canberra last month. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation general manager of new rural industries and chairman of bioenergy Australia, Dr Roslyn Prinsley, said micro algae had huge potential, especially given the current world-wide demand for biofuels and the impact this was having on food crops and commodity prices.

"It is clear that for further expansion of biofuels to take place, then alternative feedstocks that are not used for food will have to be developed," he said. "Microalgae are microscopic plants that can have very high oil content - up to 60 per cent in some cases - that is suitable for biodiesel production. "Microalgae are more efficient converters of solar energy into biomass than any other plant and are capable of producing over 30 times the amount of oil per year for a given area than oilseed crops such as canola.

"They are also capable of growing in saline ponds in areas that would otherwise be unproductive, potentially offering an alternative use for salt-affected land. "Algae production can also be linked with waste-treatment processes and value-adding to co-product for industrial and commercial use." Leading Australian and international researchers in the field spoke at the forum, organised by bioenergy Australia, a government industry alliance of 63 organisations.