Thursday, 17 July 2008

Oswald juggles $1.5B Pilbara Solar Plant

West Australian
Saturday 28/6/2008 Page: 72

Horizon Power joins preliminary study examining 1300-hectare array of panels linked to grid.

Undeterred by the struggle to float his $2.5 billion Burrup fertiliser empire, Indian tycoon Pankaj Oswal is considering plans to build Australia's biggest solar power plant on mining leases in the Pilbara. Mr Oswal's grand plan remains in the preliminary stages but focuses on a $1.5 billion operation stretching across 1300 hectares of flat, unused land in the Pilbara, far away enough from the coast to be shielded from cyclones but close enough to existing electricity transmission lines to minimise capital costs.

Mr Oswal, who says he can fund the project with family money and debt, hopes a pre-feasibility study into the project will produce positive results by the time it is finished in September or October, after which he will decide whether to formally launch the plan. His hopes have already received a boost following a support agreement with Horizon Energy, the Government- owned utility that provides electricity to the Pilbara, Kimberley, Gascoyne, Mid-West and southern Goldfields.

Horizon has pledged to look into ways to connect the proposed solar power plant to the Pilbara power grid - the region is served by various transmission lines owned by Horizon and miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton - and ways to structure an electricity off take agreement. There is one hook, however. solar power costs about four times as much to produce as gas-fired electricity.

For Oswal Power's project to be bankable, it either needs an off take arrangement at a price similar to its operating cost - industry figures suggest solar power costs 30¢ to 35¢ per kilowatt hour to generate, versus 7¢ to 8¢ for gas - or convince the State Government to subsidise the price on behalf of consumers.

Mr Oswal is yet to take his proposal to the Government, instead waiting for the results of the pre-feasibility study. "Then I will have a weapon that I can take to the Government," he said yesterday. Mr Oswal's timing could not be better, given the attention the Varanus Island gas crisis has focused on the State's exposure to coal in the South- West and gas from the North-West, and its resultant vulnerability.

Mr Oswal is also pinning his solar power hopes on the Federal Government's push into renewable energy as part of a wider carbon emissions reduction strategy. He claims his solar project would displace more than 800,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year. Although the cost of solar power is almost prohibitively expensive, a carbon tax on conventional hydrocarbon fuels could significantly narrow the margin while other incentives to encourage renewable energy could also help. Mr Oswal hopes Oswal Power will be operational by 2013. The biggest single cost will be the huge number of solar panels needed to produce about 100 megawatts.

Mr Oswal said Oswal Power would not be linked to Burrup Holdings, the gas-intensive fertiliser plant on the Burrup Peninsula in which his family owns 70 per cent. Plans by Mr Oswal and his 30 per cent partner, Yarra International, to float Burrup Holdings remain in limbo following the Varanus Island gas plant explosion, which cut its gas supply and forced the owners to bring forward a maintenance shutdown. The partners are working on a supplementary prospectus for potential float investors to address the impact of the gas crisis.

UK to pursue £100 billion renewables plan
London, 26 June:

The UK today proposed a £100 billion ($200 billion) blueprint for meeting its EU target of sourcing 15% of energy from renewables by 2020.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the proposals "a green revolution in the making." He said: "It will be a tenfold increase on our current deployment of renewables, and a 300% increase on our existing plans: the most dramatic change in our energy policy since the advent of nuclear energy." According to Business Secretary John Hutton, the UK's existing policies are set to increase renewable energy use from 1.5% of the total in 2006 (including heat, electricity and transport), to 5% in 2020 – leaving a large gap to the 15% target. To fill the gap, the latest proposals – open for comment until 26 September – would see renewables make up more than 30% of electricity generation, 14% of heat and 10% of transport fuels.

The package of measures includes ramping up the UK's Renewables Obligation – a trading scheme which requires power suppliers to source an annually-increasing amount of power from renewables or pay a 'buy-out' – increasing its target from 20% to 30-35% by 2020, and extended it out to 2040. A financial incentive scheme is also planned to encourage renewable heat, potentially through a feed-in tariff, which would be a move away from the market-based mechanisms employed to encourage renewable electricity in the UK.

The package also includes measures to ensure the sustainability of biofuels, proposals to encourage energy generation from waste, efforts to speed up grid connections for renewables (according to the Department of Business, around 10GW of capacity in development is queued up for grid connection), and efforts to smooth the planning process.

Predicting the package could create 160,000 jobs and could cut the UK's carbon dioxide emissions by 20 million tonnes in 2020, Hutton said: "We will also maximise the economic benefit for the UK by creating a new generation of green collar jobs and making the most of our strengths as one of the world's largest manufacturing economies; a world class centre of energy expertise and a leading location for inward investment."

The EU target is still provisional, and the specifics of the directive have yet to be agreed. One issue that has proved controversial is the degree to which member states will be able to trade between each other to meet their targets. The consultation document says: "We estimate that trading one percentage point of the target could save 15-20% of the costs of meeting the target domestically, with a correspondingly lower impact on energy prices." So far the proposals have received a mixed reaction. Friends of the Earth's energy campaigner, Robin Webster, said: "We really hope this consultation signals the start of a green energy revolution in the UK and an end to the piecemeal, negative approach taken so far.

We can meet our European targets and build a renewables industry that will bring millions of pounds, thousands of jobs and a clean and secure energy supply to the UK." Ben Warren, a director in the renewables, waste and clean energy group at Ernst & Young, said: "While the government should be applauded for taking a more holistic view on all forms of renewable energy, another period of policy review and consultation cannot be so warmly welcomed. The time for talking is surely over – as we get ever nearer to 2020, some tough decisions need to be made." David Green, chief executive of the UK Business Council for Sustainable Energy, called the proposals "highly significant."

He added: "Maintaining investor confidence will be vital. We particularly welcome the government's commitment strengthening the existing Renewables Obligation to drive investment in large-scale renewables." However, John Cridland, deputy director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, the UK employers' body, said: "Some of the proposals do make good sense, such as the focus on energy efficiency, but we are concerned over whether the very high level of renewables the document envisages, particularly for electricity, is feasible and cost effective."

Arming solar cells

Waste Management & Environment
June, 2008 Page: 14

Dyesol has demonstrated a flexible, camouflaged solar panel capable of recharging batteries in shady conditions. It was developed under Australia's Defence Capability and Technology Demonstrator Program. "This project demonstrates just how versatile DSC [Dye Solar Cell] technology is, to be able to outperform other solar technologies in the conditions soldiers operate in, combined with a range of low intensity colours that provide amazing camouflage," says Dyesol chief scientist Dr Hans Desilvestro. DSC is based on artificial photosynthesis. Mimicking chlorophyll in a leaf, it uses a dye to absorb the energy from light. Nanostructured titanium dioxide replicates the leaf tissue to accept and conduct the electrons.


Searching for stronger winds

Engineers Australia
June, 2008 Page: 80

GHD is using software to conduct wind prospecting for Melbourne based energy company Wind Power. This will determine the optimum locations, or hotspots, to build wind farms. Software called CalMet will model the wind speed within a 100km x 100km area identified as having potential wind farm sites. The software simulates the wind speeds and therefore the energy output for a year. GHD has completed its data collection of the area and is in the process of identifying hotspots. Prospecting towers will then be built at the hotspots to confirm the software's predictions.

Without software, the client would have to make a decision based on topographical features and historic meteorological data to decide on where to build the tower. This is difficult, as available meteorological data, usually from the Bureau of Metereology and private companies, are not suited for this purpose.

"Another problem is, in Australia there are big data gaps. The software modelling allows us to fill in the gaps by collecting wind data outside the area of interest and then interpolating it back into the grid," said Barry Cook, GHD's team leader for air and noise assessments based in Melbourne. "This gives us a more accurate picture on where a wind prospecting tower should be built." The information can be used to influence the design of the turbines. A coastal cliff for example, would demand a different design to a site at a ridge line on the western side of the Great Dividing Range.

In simulating the wind conditions, the software builds a topographical model by considering elevation, pressure, temperature, humidity, and the land use type (water body, forested area, etc) which determine how rough the surface is. The software splits the vertical space into 20 levels, one of which is at the turbine hub height, across the 100km x 100km area. It then performs a conservation of mass and momentum calculation as it steps through each hour of the data for a year. This takes about a week to compute. It is then able to work out where the highest energy return will be by converting the wind speed into an energy output using a standard turbine.

Other projects might call for prognostic software such as TAPM (The Air Pollution Model) which was developed by CSIRO. "One of the challenges in wind modelling is deciding on the correct tool and this depends on what data inputs are available. The client originally wanted to see a TAPM run but we convinced them to use CalMet as the situation had better data coverage," Cook said.

Hotspots are ranked with considerations like land tenure or proximity to the electricity grid. Following the modelling the next stage is verification, where the tower is built. Once a site has been chosen, software can further be used in the form of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to determine the best configuration for the turbines.

"When you find a hotspot, you're not going to put up one turbine, you're going to put up at least 15 to 20. These need to be built in lines at right angles to the prevailing wind so they don't interfere with each other," Cook said. "We use CFD models to find out the turbulence and wind speed calculated with greater accuracy as we can model factors such as backflows, eddies and turbulence dissipation."

Solar policy hit

Ranges Trader Mail
Tuesday 17/6/2008 Page: 7

A RENEWABLE energy group says changes to the Federal Government solar rebate scheme discourages residents from installing solar panels. Under the Federal Government's Solar Homes and Communities Plan, an applicant's household income must be less than $100,000 to qualify for a cash rebate of up to $8000. Dandenong Ranges Renewable Energy Association president Peter Cook said the rebate changes had forced some people to pull out of the group's solar energy project.

Mr Cook said many people would like to install solar panels but found the expense prohibitive. A spokesman for Environment Minister Peter Garrett said the rebate help those who could least afford to install solar panels. La Trobe MP Jason Wood said changes to the scheme let down the people of La Trobe and failed to address climate change. "solar power is not something that should only to be available to a certain section of the population," he said.

Mr Cook said another issue for people when considering solar panels was the lack of a 'genuine' feed-in tariff system. He said the smaller home systems eligible for the standard tariff would not produce enough electricity to power a home and feed excess power into the grid. A rebate would be unnecessary if the tariff system were improved, he said.

"A genuine system would cut payback time at least in half." But a spokesman for Victorian Energy and Resources Minister Peter Batchelor challenged Mr Cook's suggestions. Although a system may produce less energy over a whole day than what was used in the home, he said, the owner would be paid for any period when there was excess electricity going into the grid.

NZ intends biomass will supplement hydro

Weekend Australian
Saturday 28/6/2008 Page: 6

The New Zealand government is looking to wood, agricultural plants and municipal and industrial wastes to help-it achieve an ambition to be carbon neutral in electricity supply by 2025. At present the country obtains more than 70 per cent of its power from hydro-electric operations, but is reliant on coal and natural gas for most of the balance - not least when drought affects the rivers feeding its hydro turbines. Critics of the Government's ambitions argue that relying far more on renewable energy will undermine the country's economic competitiveness, creating problems for energy-intensive industry.

However, research commissioned by the Government suggests that policymakers should be looking beyond use of residual biomass from forestry and farming activities towards growing new forests on marginal lands specifically for harvesting for energy supply. The research claims that current energy production of 45 petajoules a year from biomass resources could be doubled by 2050 by increasing forest harvesting and better using wood processing residues.

Meeting the challenge, it is argued, would require more than three million hectares of plantation forest - New Zealand's current plantation estate stands at 1.7 million hectares. Much of the planting would need to take place in steep hill country.

Wind doing well, but not without hurdles

Weekend Australian
Saturday 28/6/2008 Page: 5

AFTER another banner year, the wind industry is becoming a major target for sustainable funds with analysts predicting a huge further increase in investment - but the level of growth is starting to create its own turbulence. After taking 15 years to inch its way into the power supply. mainstream -' growing from only 2000MW of global capacity in 1990 to 57,000MW in 2005 - wind projects have taken off in response to rising global warming fears, tougher emission laws and the rocketing crude oil price.

European consultants predict that, on present trends, wind power will have a million megawatts capacity in 2020, able to deliver up to 8 per cent of global electricity demand. A study undertaken by German consultants working with the German Wind Energy Institute claims that as much as 718,000MW of wind capacity could be installed worldwide by 2017, with the volume of annual new installations rising from 20,000MW last year to 107,000MW in 10 years' time.

Capacity worldwide is reported to have passed the 100,000MW mark in April and China now aims to drive up wind development 20-fold to reach 100,000MW in its own right by 2010. Meanwhile, the American power sector reports that 200,000MW of wind generation is being built in the US or is in various planning stages. The Americans are at present involved with the world's largest expansion of wind power. Boosted by federal subsidies and local state support; investors laid out $US9 billion for new wind farms with 5365MW capacity in 2007, accounting for 35 per cent of all new American electric power development last year.

The US, along with China, Spain, Germany and India, accounted for 78 per cent of new wind installations worldwide in 2007. For manufacturers, the surge in wind investment represents a river of gold. It is estimated that more than 15,000 turbines were sold in 2007, earning manufacturers about $US26 billion. This will increase fivefold in the next 10-12 years if growth predictions are borne out.

The wealth cascades from the big manufacturers to smaller suppliers, too. Each turbine contains about 8000 parts and a large amount of their production is outsourced. Turbine sales last year, for example, carried with them a market for more than 43,500 turbine blades and more than 22,500 tonnes of composite materials.

While sales have been dominated by a half dozen large manufacturers to date, the market expansion inevitably has attracted more players. It is estimated that there are now 40 turbine manufacturers around the world, 30 of them recent start-ups or diversifications by utilities and power equipment businesses.

The value proposition has been highlighted this month by the world's biggest contract for construction, installation and service of wind farms being inked in Spain between Gamesa, a Bilboa-based system supplier, and lberdrola Renewables, the subsidiary of the largest Spanish energy utility. Iberdrola is the world's biggest wind power producer.

In response to international demand and competition, the world's biggest turbine manufacturer, Denmark's Vestas, with plants in nine countries, has announced that it will spend $US2.5 billion on new factories, aiming to hold a quarter of the global market. German-based 'Siemens plans to triple its turbine capacity around the world by 2011 in response to bagging orders worth $US2.4 billion from America and $US1.2 billion from Britain. It can only offer new customers delivery in 2012 from its existing facilities.

GE Energy, which claims second place in turbine production, boasts a total of $US12 billion in orders at present and says its capacity is sold out: until end-2009. It, too, is expanding production in five countries: Vestas, GE Wind and Gamesa currently hold almost half the Chinese wind components market, but they are about to be confronted by tougher regulations and more competition: China's Government has ruled that 70 per cent of turbines erected in the country must be locally built and it is also supporting domestic manufacturers in making licensing agreements and joint ventures with western companies.

Goldwind, the biggest Chinese-owned manufacturer, has raised $US245 million this year through an initial public offer (IPO) to fund factory expansions. China High, the country's biggest fabricator of gearboxes, the most critical and: complex part of a wind turbine, is working on a four-fold increase in production over the next two years -- targeting both the local and export markets. Its goal is to become one of the world's top three manufacturers of gearboxes.

An illustration of the wind sector's potential and also the perils of rapid expansion is India's Suzlon Energy, which has rocketed up the turbine manufacturing global league in 12 years to hold the fourth place today. Two-thirds of the 70 to 80 new factories to produce the turbine blades required to meet projected wind capacity growth between now and 2020 are expected to be built in Asia, As with any business bubble, extraordinary expansion quickly throws up problems as well as opportunities.

Generators are confronted by fast-growing capital costs, increasing difficulty in locating good wind sites, demands from landowners for higher compensation and stiffer resistance from communities "invaded" by wind farms. Manufacturers are finding it hard to locate suitable workers at affordable wages European factory workers complain that their employers are migrating to China and India because labour costs there are so much lower - and are confronted by sharp rises in commodity and transport prices.

Energy market managers are having to deal with the need to rebuild the transmission system in some countries if wind development continues at this pace - existing networks are designed to deliver electricity from a few large power stations, not hundreds of turbines scattered across rural areas.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

`Alternative' now in the mainstream

Weekend Australian
Saturday 28/6/2008 Page: 5

THE hot news for alternative energy in 2008 is that, in an environment of record crude oil prices and accelerating policy measures to deal with global warming, it may not be "alternative" any longer. Many of the alternative energy options that emerged from the 1970s oil crisis soon lost their appeal when crude prices fell back to record low levels in the 1980s, keeping gas and coal prices in the cellar too.

Non-conventional energy - especially for power generation - is expensive and can't compete with fossil fuels in a low-price environment. What makes 2008 different - in Australia and most of the developed world as well as in fast-growing economies such as China and India - is the combination of cost penalties and regulation bearing down on fossil fuels on the one hand, and the flow-through of extra-high oil prices to gas and coal costs on the other.

While mainstream renewable energy options such as hydro-electricity, wind and solar will vie for the largest share of the new markets for green power, alternative energy proponents can see significant niche opportunities emerging for their products. Some, such as using banana and sugarcane wastes as fuel for electricity in northern Australia or capturing gas from big city landfill sites to burn in turbines, are not new at all - they have just languished in markets where cost made them non-viable.

Others, such as wave power, where several Australian designs are vying with overseas concepts to achieve a breakthrough, are starting to attract serious investor interest because subsidies can pull them through to profitability as their conventional competitors feel the heat of carbon restrictions.

The enlarged Mandatory Renewable Energy Target proposed by the Rudd Government is estimated to make a total of more than $11 billion available in subsidies between 2010 and 2020 as it is phased in and $1.8 billion a year thereafter. Even though a large part of this revenue is expected to fall to the wind sector, with geothermal power forecast to starting gaining market share from the middle of the next decade, there will be multi-million dollar "crumbs" available for energy alternatives.

The chances of wave power are expected to rise because developments can often also provide a desalination service. along with power supply. Concentrated solar power (CSP) - using heat to drive turbines rather than simply converting light to electricity through photovoltaics - is seen as enhancing its prospects when a CSP farm can be linked to a gas or biomass plant to provide round-the-clock electricity supply.

While the flame of investor interest burned brightly only briefly in the 1970s during the oil price shocks, this time investors around the world are tipping billions of dollars in to "green energy." More than $US70 billion was invested globally in 2006 in "clean tech" companies, 43 per cent more than in 2005 and more than treble the 2003 contribution, and the investment levels reportedly held steady in 2007 despite the initial impact of. the worldwide lending crisis.

Sun's power proves elusive

Weekend Australian
Saturday 28/6/2008 Page: 5

CAN solar do it this time? During the last major oil crisis in the 1970s governments and investors saw major potential in producing electricity from the sun and from wind. Three decades later wind power has soared to reach 100,000MW of global capacity, while the solar industry still lags in the "wannabe" category.

However,"cleantech" investors see the current record oil prices and the collateral rise in global gas prices opening strong new opportunities for the solar industry. As Portuguese economics minister Manuel Pinho, a strong supporter of solar development, says: "The perception that renewable energy is expensive is changing every day as the oil price goes up." The cost issue is critical for solar power as it is far more expensive than fossil-fuelled electricity. Swiss research centre CSEM estimates that, at best, current solar costs are five times higher than they need to be to achieve commercial viability in their own right without carbon penalties for conventional plant.

Nonetheless, many investor advisers are confident that solar has a big future. Sebastian Waldburg, managing partner of Barcelona based SI Capital, a private equity investment company specialising in renewable energy, has told a London seminar that he expects 16,000MW of concentrated solar power to be installed worldwide in the next six years. Existing CSP capacity is only 400MW.

Concentrated solar power uses mirrors to focus the sun's heat on to water-filled tubes, turning the liquid to steam to drive power turbines. Australia claims a leading role in the global development of CSP through the Solar Systems project in rural Victoria - a $420 million plant supported by $1295 million in subsidies from the Victorian Government and the Howard Government plus a $285 million investment by TRUEnergy, the Australian subsidiary of Hong Kong-based China Light & Power.

Solar Systems managing director:, Dave Holland, who says the northern Victorian project is scheduled to be fully completed in 2013, predicts that its success will lead to more than $10 billion being spent on 5,000MW of commercial CSP across Australia-by 2030. Solar Systems has been working on its concentrated sun power approach for 18 years, developing a concept initially designed by its technical director John Lasich while working on solar photovoltaic systems during the oil price crises of the 1970s.

TRUEnergy managing director Richard Mclndoe - whose parent company CLP has operations in Hong Kong, China, India, Taiwan and Thailand - says the Solar Systems project offers opportunities for sun power development across Asia at a time when many countries are looking to adopt renewable energy technologies to meet the need for large greenhouse gas emission reductions.

While concentrated solar power is seen as important because of its potential ability to contribute to mainstream electricity production, most of the current focus around the world is on distributed generation from photovoltaic systems on buildings. PVs differ from CSPs in that they directly convert sunlight in to electricity but at a much weaker conversion rate.

Countries as diverse as Germany and Japan, which has led the world's in promoting solar PVs through substantial subsidies despite a less-than-sunny climate, to China and the US, including Middle East nations and Australia, are supporting, photovoltaic development. US-based market research firm Clean Edge says the global consumption of solar power was worth $US20.7 billion last year and it predicts this will rise to $US74 billion in 2017.

This is a substantially higher current estimate than that offered by Deutsche Bank, which believes the current global PV market is worth $USI5 billion but the bank sees supply rising at 40 per cent a year. America - the world's fourth-largest solar power market after Germany, Japan and Spain brought 150MW of solar capacity on line last year, 45 per cent more than in 2006, to reach a total of 750MW, still a tiny fraction of its overall generation plant.

Analysts are predicting that, under the present subsidy arrangement, which the solar industry hopes to see boosted under either Barack Obama or John McCain as president, capacity will reach 2550 MW by 2012.

The latest global high point for photovoltaics is the announcement by Masdar PV, an arm of the Abu Dhabi government-backed clean energy initiative that will see the world's first zero emissions city built in the Middle East in the next decade, that it will invest $US2 billion in manufacturing capacity for PVs. Masdar PV plans to spend $US600 million on factories in Germany and Abu Dhabi to produce 210MW a year of initial supply and then to scale up production to 1,000MW a year by 2014.

Sultan al Jaber, Masdar CEO; claims the project as the biggest single investment in solar technology to date and a milestone in the small Arab state's plans to become a global "cleantech" hub.

Winfried Hoffmann, president of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, says the Masdar initiative is "a potential game changer for the global solar market." The worldwide PVs outlook is not entirely sunny: both Germany and Spain are on the brink of scaling back subsidies to the PVs industry and tight global supplies of silicon, the main element for solar panels, continues to constrain development. The price of polysilicon, also a key ingredient for the IT industry, has risen 900 per cent in five years to reach $US400/kg.

The solar industry hopes that new The price of polysilicon factories will ease the supply situation after 2010 and an increasing number of energy companies are seeking to get round the problem by resorting to "thin film" technology, which employs glass or steel and very little silicon. The "thin film" technology is designed for easy work with other rooftop materials.

Overall, the broad view in the industry and among many analysts is that, after a very long gestation period, solar power is about to cross energy supply's great divide between conventional and renewable resources to become a genuine player in the marketplace thanks to both crude oil prices and the move by governments around the developed world to place a price on carbon emissions.

Kalgoorlie to have first main grid solar station

AAP Newswire
Sunday 29/6/2008

PERTH, June 29 AAP - The Western Australian mining town of Kalgoorlie will house the nation's first solar power station connected to a main grid, Premier Alan Carpenter says. At the Australian Labor Party's state conference in Perth Mr Carpenter has used the backdrop of the energy supply crisis to announce new projects in renewable energy and public transport. The $13 million solar power station will supply 1.77 megawatts of electricity to around 500 homes in the Goldfields town.

The state will also fund research into a harvesting machine for oil mallee trees, a bioenergy source that can be grown alongside conventional cereal crops. A third plank of the government's announcement was an expanded public transport network, including a link from the Perth city centre to the airport, light rail and tram routes, and the extension of existing railway lines. Mr Carpenter also restated Labor's commitment not to mine WA uranium after the Australian Workers Union and former NSW premier Bob Carr said it was time for the ALP to drop its long standing opposition to nuclear energy.

"No nuclear energy, no nuclear waste, no uranium mining in Western Australia," Mr Carpenter said. With an election looming, the premier also used his speech to attack the state opposition for what he says has been an appalling lack of leadership over the energy crisis. Last week, the opposition accused the government of misleading voters over their efforts to reduce household power, claiming on 2.34 per cent of the state's gas supply was consumed by domestic users. The Liberals also called for greater accountability over public information, after the Office for Energy issued disclaimers on public facts sheets. "We don't want that sort of immature stupidity from our political opponents," Mr Carpenter said.

Mining town is going solar

Courier Mail
Monday 30/6/2008 Page: 13

THE Western Australian mining town of Kalgoorlie will house the nation's first solar power station connected to a main grid. Premier Alan Carpenter has used the backdrop of the energy supply crisis to announce new projects in renewable energy and public transport. The $13 million station will supply 1.77 megawatts of electricity to about 500 homes in the goldfields town. The state will also fund research into a harvesting machine for oil mallee trees, a potential bioenergy source. Mr Carpenter also restated Labor's commitment not to mine WA uranium after the Australian Workers Union and former NSW premier Bob Carr said it was time for the ALP to drop its long-standing opposition to nuclear energy.

GreenPower users face `double bills'

Adelaide Advertiser
Monday 30/6/2008 Page: 3

GREENPOWER users will be double billed if changes to the new greenhouse gas reporting system are not made, says University of Adelaide climate change Professor Barry Brook. This could cause the GreenPower national accreditation scheme to "implode" when an Emissions Trading Scheme is introduced in 2010.

Professor Brook said the almost 750,000 households and businesses using GreenPower nationally would be penalised once an Emissions Trading Scheme was introduced as they would be paying extra to buy power from renewable sources. They also would pay extra - with all other electricity users - to compensate for the cost of carbon once a trading scheme was introduced.

They effectively would be paying for the cost of emissions which they had paid extra to avoid by buying renewable energy. More than 71,000 South Australian homes and 1817 businesses use GreenPower. "People who buy Green - Power will be penalised under an Emissions Trading Scheme because they'll pay an extra cost to buy their power from renewable sources, and then also pay extra to compensate the grid for higher costs of carbon," Professor Brook said.

"Imagine the situation where struggling families committed to play their part to fix climate change spend hundreds of dollars extra per year for renewable energy and then are charged hundreds of dollars more to cover permits for the emissions that they have paid to avoid." Greenhouse accounting becomes legal tomorrow under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007. Professor Brook said GreenPower users should be given some sort of recognition, such as a renewable energy certificate.

"When the Emissions Trading Scheme comes in, energy retailers would have no cause to pass the costs of carbon permits to their GreenPower customers, preventing double payment that would otherwise occur," he said. Treasurer Wayne Swan said details of the Emissions Trading Scheme would be outlined in a green paper next month. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released guidelines for consumers. Avoiding Hot Air: a Consumer Guide to Carbon Claims is on its website.

20% Renewable Energy Target will take the heat off emissions trading

Clean Energy Council
2 July 08

NATIONAL: The Clean Energy Council has today welcomed the Federal Government's continued commitment to a 20% by 2020 renewable energy target (RET) for Australia's energy supply. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Working Group on Climate Change and Water has today released the RET Options Paper for comment.

Rob Jackson, Clean Energy Council's GM-Policy said: "The clean energy industry stands ready to invest up to $20 billion in zero-emission, renewable power required to meet the target and to ensure a diverse and secure energy supply for Australia; creating over 6,000 new job opportunities nationwide."

"A renewable energy target will ensure that the growth in Australia's energy demand will be met by clean sources – immediately stabilising greenhouse gas emissions in the stationary energy sector, taking pressure off the Emissions Trading Scheme, and building critical industry capacity to deliver even greater abatement into the future."

"It will take some time for the Emissions Trading Scheme alone to deliver a carbon price high enough to stimulate renewable energy investment. With a 20% renewable energy target in place now, the pressure is taken off the ETS (commencing in 2010) to reach a high carbon price quickly."

"The 20% RET will unlock the vast clean energy investment potential in Australia: the Clean Energy Council has identified over 14,000 megawatts or around 40,000 gigawatt hours per year of renewable energy projects – many of these in rural and regional Australia - that can begin development as soon as the target is legislated."

"The clean energy industry encourages the Working Group to deliver a RET that provides the greatest amount of investment incentive possible and to consider an early start to the scheme, 1 January 2009, for the immediate benefit of investment, industry development and carbon abatement."

"Renewable energy targets are a proven and effective policy measure to drive deployment of new renewable energy generation and complementing an Emissions Trading Scheme." "The COAG paper is a further step towards the introduction of a 20% RET and the renewable energy sector supports the Working Group in its deliberations prior to the final submission to COAG later this year."

Monday, 14 July 2008

Solar power struggle: Families angry at tariff system

Herald Sun
Friday 27/6/2008 Page: 44

HOUSEHOLDS with children have been cheated out of payments for electricity produced using solar panels, say a group of "climate-friendly" families. Childless professionals who use less energy will be the only winners under a state government proposal to limit the payments, known as feed-in tariffs, to small solar energy systems, says Brunswick mother of four Julie Butler. Ms Butler and husband Brendan Wright had hoped to add to their $7000 rooftop panels. "I have four kids at home aged two to 19 and we had been spending almost $1000 a year on electricity," Ms Butler said.

If you don't have children at home and you leave the house to go to work, you can easily limit how much electricity you use. "But if you are like us, a family that has to feed teenagers and has the washing machine going most days, we don't have the luxury of limiting our consumption." Conscious of the carbon emissions their household produced, they invested in climate friendly solar panels.

When the Government hinted it would allow solar panel owners to receive payments for the electricity they generated, the family spent an additional $2000 on an inverter, a device that would let them upgrade their system. In May, however, the State Government said the tariffs would be paid only for small 2kW systems and only for the excess electricity they contributed to the power grid, rather than the total generated. The Victorian tariffs would be the least generous of all the states that have them and a shadow of the world's best model in Germany, where owners are paid for all solar power generated, regardless of the size of systems.

Brad Shone, of the Alternative Technology Association, said a quarter of the grid-connected systems in Victoria had more than a 2kW output. The group, which helps homeowners interested in solar energy, believes extending the feed-in tariff to systems of 10kW would be more consistent with other states.

Mr Shone said: "People with 2.1kW systems would have to remove an entire bank of panels, worth several thousand dollars, and reduce their output by up to a third to be eligible for the payment the Government is proposing." Preston mother Sally Mendes has had solar panels on her roof for almost a decade and was hoping to be rewarded for "doing the right thing", but her family will also miss out on the tariffs because their system is above 2kW.

She said people who made sacrifices to reduce their carbon footprints had been discriminated against compared with those willing to make only a token gesture. "My husband and I could have bought a big four-wheel-drive car or taken our seven-year-old son for a holiday overseas, but instead we spent the money on solar panels and now we find out the Government doesn't recognise our efforts. It is very unfair," Ms Mendes said.

Ms Butler's family had thought that the tariffs would help pay for a larger system in less than seven years. Without them, she said, it would take decades to recover the cost. We have been forced to stick with a smaller system to qualify for the payments, but it will still take 15 or 17 years to get our money back and we are still going to have to pay power companies for the electricity the smaller system can't make. "It is disappointing people are willing to put their money up front to help the environment, but the Government doesn't offer any support for a decent, family-sized system," she said.

California boosts green credentials with ambitious energy plan

Friday 27/6/2008 Page: 11

CALIFORNIA has unveiled an ambitious plan for clean cars, renewable energy and stringent caps on big polluting industries. The plan, which aims to reduce pollutants by 10% from current levels by 2020 while driving investment in new energy technologies that will benefit the state's economy, is the most comprehensive by any US state. It could serve as a blueprint not only for the rest of the US, but also for other big polluting nations such as China and India, planners and environmental groups said.

By taking action here... we will be able to help motivate other states in our nation," said Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board. The initiatives include a cap-and-trade program on carbon dioxide emissions that will require buildings and appliances to use less energy, oil companies to make cleaner fuels, and utilities to provide a third of their energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

The program will encourage development of walkable cities with shorter commuting times and high-speed rail as an alternative to air travel. It will also require more hybrid and hydrogen-fuelled vehicles. CARB said the measures would benefit residents of the most populous US state by reducing pollution-related illnesses and by stimulating investment in new energy technologies that would create jobs. CARB estimated that more efficient appliances and homes would save households about $US200 ($A209) a year. Cleaner cars are expected to save drivers about $US30 a month in fuel.

Natural idea to save energy

Wynnum Herald
Wednesday 25/6/2008 Page: 21

A NEW solar energy shop at Murarrie, Solar Shop Australia, promises to meet the expected demand from residents in renewable energy. Managing director Adrian Ferraretto said the company had a dedicated team of consultants who would happily bring their expertise, knowledge and personal service to residents' homes to show how easy it was to go solar. "Expert designers and engineers ensure that a recommended solar system is designed around your roof area, around your budget, and your desired reduction in your current electricity bill," he said.

"The company also provides performance figures based on the system designed." Mr Ferraretto said grid connect solar systems were not only sympathetic to the environment, but reduced electricity overheads, insulating the building they are built on and increasing the value of property. Solar systems can also be transferred to another house or business after five years. Mr Ferraretto said having a solar system designed and installed correctly was critical for long term, efficient electricity production.

For more information, phone 1300 786 769 or visit

More cash for Uni

Adelaide Advertiser
Friday 27/6/2008 Page: 85

THE University of Adelaide has landed $250,000 from the State Government for more research and development of geothermal technology. Last year, $250,000 was provided to help develop an international research facility into "hot rock" energy at the university, working with Geoscience Australia, the CSIRO and university research members of the Australian Geothermal Energy Group. The new investment comes after an agreement this week between the university and the state to accelerate R&D of geothermal resources in South Australia. geothermal research will form a major part of University of Adelaide's Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources.

Silverton wind farm

Barrier Miner
Thursday 19/6/2008 Page: 1

Seeking to employ skilled locals up to 700 jobs on offer during construction.

DEVELOPERS of the proposed Silverton Wind Farm will be looking for local contractors to help get the project up and running, sending the message out last week at the launch of Business Broken Hill, formerly the Chamber of Commerce.

Silverton Wind Farm Developments, a joint venture between Epuron Pty Ltd and financiers Macquarie Capital, has the potential to provide up to 700 jobs during the construction phase, which company representatives say they expect to fill primarily from the Broken Hill region. Epuron executive director Andrew Durran, construction manager Andrew Wilson and project manager Donna Bolton were present at the launch held at the Musician's Club on June 10 and outlined opportunities for local businesses which wanted to participate in the $2.5 billion project.

Mr Wilson explained that a shortage of power was becoming a global problem. "Epuron is NSW's leading wind energy developer and with this project has the potential to meet 10 per cent of the government's proposed green target and supply four and a half per cent of the state's energy demand." Construction and operation of the wind farm will require a number of major contracts to be awarded in the field of turbine manufacture, on site civil and electrical works and the transmission line which will connect to Red Cliffs in Victoria.

Mr Wilson said it was possible that the tower section and blades could be locally fabricated. Local expertise will also be sought for services and supply of cable trenching and installation, design, transformer and switchgear, substation buildings and control room. The company anticipates that 120 jobs will be created at Silverton to operate and maintain the 500 plus wind turbines. There will also be ancillary services needed such as accommodation, catering, communications, office supplies, business support, freight and courier services, vehicle hire and painting.

Mr Wilson urged local businesses to register their interest and capabilities through Business Broken Hill. The development application has been lodged with the government and approval is expected by December 2008. Mr Wilson said that the wind farm would have an expected lifespan of about 20 years with an option after this time to review it. Epuron anticipates construction on the wind farm to start in July 2009 and take three to five years to complete.

Page: 3 Power to Braziers

Barrier Daily Truth
Wednesday 25/6/2008

Negotiations between Silverton landholders and a wind farm developer may proceed within weeks following amendments to land use passed by the State Government last week. "It's definitely heading in the right direction:' said Nigel Lawrence of Nine Mile Station, one of four graziers in negotiation with a developer which wants to build a $2 billion wind farm at Silverton. The Government last Friday passed the Western Lands and Crown Lands Amendment (Special Purpose Leases) Bill 2008, which will allow parallel leases to exist on the same land.

Minister for Lands, Tony Kelly, said the new Bill would allow graziers to keep their connection with the land, whilst giving security for major project investments. Mr Lawrence said yesterday the Bill would allow the graziers to negotiate from a position of strength for compensation under the Western Lands Act. He said the graziers won on two key areas in the amended Bill. The first was that if the wind farm was discontinued, then the special purpose lease arrangements would end and the land will revert back to its Western Lands Act lease origins.

"There's no reason why the land should be left as a parallel lease," said Mr Lawrence. Secondly, and most importantly, Mr Lawrence said the general purpose lessee, or landholder, gets to decide if they want to commit to any project. "If we don't want a wind farm, we can say no." He said this gave a measure of bargaining power to landholders in terms of compensation for land use. "It also takes some control away from the government" Mr Lawrence said the Bill means parallel lease arrangements will not kick in until compensation rights are negotiated.

The landholders, however, are still concerned about where the government revenue from the wind farm will go. Minister Tony Kelly said any money would go towards improved facilities and infrastructure across Western Division communities, to be determined by a committee. But Mr Lawrence said this may only occur on Crown Land. "Some sporting venues, for example, won't have access to that money unless they're on Crown Land" He said the landholders never had a problem with relinquishing money to a community fund, but wanted it kept in the far west.

"We want Broken Hill and surrounding communities to benefit" He said a committee was a good idea, as long as it represented a broad cross section of the community. Mr Lawrence said whilst they were seeking clarification on aspects of the amended Bill, negotiations would now probably start in earnest with Epuron, one part of the group behind the wind farm, and Department-of Lands. "That'll happen in the next couple of weeks." The Bill's passing provides tenure for the project to go ahead, said Epuron's Executive Director Martin Poole.

"This Bill provides a sustainable framework for land tenure for this project;' he told BDT yesterday. Mr Poole said he was pleased the milestone had been passed and that Epuron had been negotiating continuously with the landholders for over a year. "1 think the passing of these amendments provides a way to finalise the process," he said. Epuron is now waiting for the NSW Department of Planning to assess its Environmental Assessment for the project.

"When that's accepted, it will go on public display and the planning document will be the final proposition," said Mr Poole. Meanwhile, more wind monitoring masts (measuring 61 to 75m in height) are planned to gather more data on the wind farm site. One mast has already been erected and Mr Poole said the extra data will help better assess wind flow.

Transfield’s windy day has come

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Thursday 26/6/2008 Page: 18

Transfield Services Infrastructure Fund owns part of Victoria's coal-fired Loy Yang A power station and other generators and might soon be Australia's biggest owner of wind energy. Due to the Federal Government's increased interest in renewable energy sources, Transfield's investments in wind-farms could become very profitable for the Sydney-based company. Transfield owns Windy Hill in Queensland, Toora in Victoria, Starfish Hill, Mount Millar in South Australia and if approved, will own half of Emu Downs in Western Australia. Transfield contracted Hydro Tasmania for six months when Starfish Hill's renewable energy certificate curves (RECs) came out of contract in May. RECs are a tradeable currency that prove compliance with the government's targets for renewable energy.