Friday, 10 October 2008

Top End snatches $24bn gas plant prize from under the West's nose

Weekend Australian
Saturday 27/9/2008 Page: 2

Browse BasinONE of the biggest private investments in Australian history was clinched yesterday when Japanese gas giant Inpex chose Darwin harbour as the site for a multi-billion dollar LNG plant that will process eight million tonnes of gas piped from the
Browse Basin off the northern West Australian coast.

The announcement that Inpex planned to pipe gas 850km across the Timor Sea in favour of processing the LNG at a hub in the Kimberley ended months of competition between the the NT and Western Australia. The deal cements Darwin's status as a major industrial and commercial centre, but WA's loss was greeted with bitter disappointment by the Kimberley's Aboriginal Land Council, which had pinned its hopes on the plant as a way of out of poverty for remote-living indigenous people.

Inpex's Japanese president Naoki Kuroda, announcing the deal in Darwin yesterday, said that at the expected gas processing rate of 1.6 million tonnes of LNG per annum, the plant would produce the equivalent of 50 per cent of Australia's current LPG production. Mr Kuroda said the NT Government had been able to provide certainty for the $24 billion investment, with the Japanese Government pushing to meet a tight deadline to guarantee the security of Japan's future gas supply.

Federal Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson said yesterday the investment was "potentially the biggest investment in Australia's history" and would cement Australia's world standing as an "energy superpower". "It will prove to be side by side with the expansion of the Olympic Dam in South Australia," he said. Chief Minister Paul Henderson who used the gas plant as the excuse to call an election 11 months early in the Territory said the project would deliver $50 billion to the NT economy over 20 years and would bring 2300 jobs. An eight-week public consultation process would begin after Inpex lodged an environmental impact statement, Mr Henderson said.

"We have today taken a giant step forward in terms of underpinning the future of the Territory's economic prosperity and diversifying our economy," he said. But a spokeswoman for the indigenous Larrakia Nation, Donna Jackson, said the gas plant development would threaten archaeological sites and an Aboriginal dreaming track. There had been no consultation with the community on the environmental and cultural ramifications of the plant, she said.

"I am really, really disappointed," Ms Jackson said. "I am astounded at how easily things are rubber-stamped in this town." West Australian Premier Colin Barnett said he was not surprised by Inpex's decision and labelled it an example of "appalling project management" by the former Labor government in WA. He said the project's greenhouse gas emissions would be increased by 20 per cent because the gas would have to be piped 850km from the Browse Basin to Darwin. "I find it quite extraordinary that the federal Government is supporting a project that significantly increases greenhouse gas emissions." he said.

Solar subsidy comes under fire

Age
Saturday 27/9/2008 Page: 11

A CONTROVERSIAL subsidy for household solar panels that divided John Brumby's cabinet faces a potential fight in the upper house, with all opposition parties damning it as too weak to be effective. The attack from both ends of the political spectrum has been echoed by the state's environmental sustainability commissioner in a draft copy of a government report. Ian McPhail's draft State of the Environment report, seen in part by The Age, says the Government's solar policy does not offer enough incentive for people to install panels as it pays a premium only for surplus energy fed into the grid - not energy used at home.

"All we're saying is, because of the abundance of the solar energy available, there should be positive encouragement to get the latest technology in place," Dr McPhail said. A similar view is held by key members of the Liberal Party, Nationals, Greens and Democratic Labor Party MLC Peter Kavanagh, who together carry 21 of the 40 votes in the Legislative Council. Under the Government's policy announced in May, households generating energy using solar photovoltaic systems up to two kilowatts in size will be paid 60 cents a kilowatt-hour, nearly four times the standard retail rate of 17 cents.

The issue provoked heated clashes in cabinet, with Energy Minister Peter Batchelor winning backing for a net feed-in tariff - a scheme that offers the premium rate for surplus energy only. Environment Minister Gavin Jennings had pushed for a gross tariff based on a German model, under which the premium is paid for all solar energy, whether surplus or used at home. Liberal environment spokesman David Davis said the Government's proposal looked weak, and called for a national approach to promoting solar energy.

Nationals spokesman Peter Crisp said he saw huge advantages in following the German scheme. "solar panels are saving somebody capital infrastructure in a new power station, they are saving the environment, so we've got to find a way to reward people for that. A net feed-in tariff doesn't do that," he said.

Greens MLC Greg Barber said net tariff would have perverse effects, making it more viable to put solar panels on buildings that used hardly any power, such as a shed or holiday home. But Dr McPhail sounded a note of caution. He said there were also legitimate arguments in favour of the Government's model, including higher costs under a gross tariff due to the need to install an expensive metering system.

Government spokesman Dan Ward said Victoria's legislation, to be introduced before the end of the year, would be one of the most generous in Australia. Queensland and South Australia both pay 44 cents a kilowatt-hour for surplus energy only. The ACT pays 59 cents using a gross model.

Emissions cuts won't run deep: analyst

Sydney Morning Herald
Friday 26/9/2008 Page: 22

AN ENERGY analyst has contradicted dire warnings from the sector about the ramifications of a carbon emissions trading scheme and said it will pose little threat to Woodside's $29 billion liquefied natural gas project at Browse. Woodside, with the rest of the sector, has lobbied for Government assistance to cope with the introduction of any scheme and said earlier in the year that without compensation it would have to reduce spending on Browse. But an energy analyst for JPMorgan, Mark Greenwood, said even if LNG prices halved, the likely costs of carbon trading were not enough to stop the project.

"Based on our estimate of economics for Browse. we cannot fathom why the [emissions trading scheme] alone would prevent the Browse project from being pursued vigorously by Woodside," he said in a note to investors. Operating costs could more than double in a "bearish" scenario, with carbon priced at $50 a tonne and oil fetching $US50 a barrel, but the project's internal rate of return would still be economic at 13 per cent, he said.

LNG prices reflect movements in the oil price - which is now over $US100 a barrel - and $50 a tonne for carbon is at the upper end of the cuts suggested by the Federal Government's climate change adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut. Woodside's chief executive, Don Voelte, is one of the most vocal critics of the proposed scheme. After the publication of a green paper on the subject in July, which did not give the sector protective assistance, Mr Voelte said Woodside would "dramatically reduce the spending [on Browse] in 2009 and beyond".

Mr Greenwood estimated Woodside's earnings per share would decrease 0.5 per cent under Professor Garnaut's recommendation of a $20 a tonne carbon price from 2010. The company posted an 86 per cent increase in profits to $1 billion in the first half of the year. Mr Greenwood's estimates contrast with economic modelling commissioned by the industry. A study by Concept Economics that was published this week said a 10 per cent reduction in carbon emissions - which equates to a carbon price of $34.50 a tonne - would cut the LNG sector's output by 26 per cent in 2020.

The industry has argued that higher costs in Australia will take LNG projects offshore. But recent events suggest players are unperturbed by the prospect of cuts in emissions. This week Chevron lodged plans for an LNG project of up to 25 million tonnes a year on the Pilbara coast, and up to five projects are planned in Queensland's coal seam gas sector. The carbon dioxide at Browse is thought to be almost double that in Queensland's LNG fields.

Being green should be easy

Herald Sun
Friday 26/9/2008 Page: 36

FAMILIES who retro-fit homes to make them more energy efficient should get help from the Federal Government, a sustainable building group says. And developers should get tax breaks for boosting energy efficiency in new homes, the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council says. Its climate-change task group chairman, David Parken, said retro-fitting homes would save struggling families money on power bills and cut carbon emissions by about 10 per cent and the cost of carbon permits by 14 per cent.

He said there were still two million homes without proper insulation and it was time for the Federal Government to intervene. ASBEC's ideas could reduce emissions by 52 million tonnes a year by 2030 and help save about $38 billion a year by 2050, he said. The building sector accounts for about 23 per cent of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. ASBEC is also arguing for a scheme to make energy efficiency a tradeable asset.

Mr Parken said that ASBEC's ideas could complement the Government's promised $90 million green-building fund. Mr Parken, also the chief executive of the Australian Institute of Architects, said poor people could be first to get help retrofitting homes. The Housing Industry Association's Victorian executive director Robert Harding said encouraging people to make homes more efficient would dwarf savings from new housing. Also, tax breaks would encourage more efficiency in building design and planning, he said.

has been a tax bonanza for all levels of government for several decades. There's room to look at tax concessions," Mr Harding said. The CSIRO has said it would build and monitor a new zero-emissions four bedroom house as a prototype for other homes. The State Government will provide $12 million for new sustainable building programs, including giving $6 million to four Victorian communities to showcase low-emission housing.

Greenhouse emissions rise by 2pc a year

Canberra Times
Friday 26/9/2008 Page: 3

Greenhouse gas emissions are still rising by about 2 per cent a year, according to international research conducted partly by the CSIRO. A CSIRO carbon specialist who spearheaded the research, Pep Canadell, said Australia was unique as a developed country that had rapidly growing emission levels. "Every year of continuing growth makes the future reduction requirement even steeper," Dr Canadell said.

Climate change adviser Ross Garnaut has called for Australia to cut emissions by 10 per cent from 2000 levels within 12 years. Dr Canadell said Australia would have to start cutting emissions by 1.5 per cent a year to achieve that target. The research venture, titled the Global Carbon Project, found global emissions were growing at almost four times the rate they had been before 2000.

Paul Fraser, of the CSIRO's marine and atmospheric research division, said emissions were now growing by 3.5 per cent annually. Dr Fraser said that during the 1990s they rose by 1 per cent a year. He cited the Kyoto process as one factor in Australia's unique status as a developed country where emissions continued to rise. Other developed nations had been told to cut their emissions but Australia was allowed to increase emissions by 8 per cent.

Bank's energy plan

Age
Friday 26/9/2008 Page: 4

Investec, the South African investment bank, intends to develop more than $2 billion of wind-power projects in Australia to tap a government program encouraging increased use of renewable energy.

The bank won planning approval this week for a $700 million venture in Western Australia and is seeking clearance for a $210 million project in Victoria, said Mark Headland, responsible for renewable energy developments at the bank's Australian unit. Those would be followed by a larger project, costing at least $1.2 billion, in Queensland, he said.

The Federal Government has pledged to introduce a target to increase use of renewable energy to 20% of electricity supplies by 2020 to tackle global warming. Conergy AG, Origin Energy and Mitsui & Co are among companies seeking to gain from the clean-energy ruling, which should ensure revenue for wind and solar projects that otherwise may not be profitable.

The Government has set a timetable of having its renewable energy target legislated by the middle of next year. It proposes to aim for an extra 45,000 gigawatt-Hours of renewable energy supply by 2020, which, with existing supply of about 15,000 gigawatt-hours, will take 2020 use to 60,000 gigawatt-hours.

"We're very excited about the Government's impending 20% renewables target; it's what drives our interest in becoming involved in these projects," Mr Headland said. "The key to the process is obviously the market support implicit in the regulations that will underpin the target," he said. Investec would probably start detailed design work on the 270-megawatt Collgar project, about 295 kilometres east of Perth, in the first quarter of next year, Mr Headland said.

The project will produce enough electricity to power about 160,000 homes. Similar work should get under way on the 43-turbine Oaklands Hill wind farm south of Glenthompson in western Victoria about the same time, depending on approval. The two projects, Investec's first wind energy ventures in Australia, may start operating in late 2010, Mr Headland said. The Coopers Gap project, about 180 kilometres north west of Brisbane, will involve as many as 250 turbines and may start up in early to mid- 2011, Mr Headland said.

Missed opportunity: Renewable energy to provide financial bailout

Clean Energy Council
3 October 2008

NATIONAL: Industry today applauded the Council of Australian Government's (COAG) agreement to implement a national energy efficiency strategy by December 2008. The timetable is achievable and will clear the way for billions of dollars of investment in our transition to a low carbon economy.

However the Clean Energy Council noted that the lack of reported discussion on both the renewable energy target and a nationally consistent gross feed-in tariff signalled a missed opportunity to quickly secure Australia's clean energy future.

General Manager-Policy, Rob Jackson said: "Securing a robust renewable energy industry in Australia is the surest insurance for our economic security". "Industry is waiting for the sign off on policies to rapidly expand production throughout Australia's metropolitan and regional areas, providing jobs, growth and economic stimulation right when the country needs it most," Mr Jackson said.

A smooth transition to a low carbon economy will be achieved through ensuring a powerful policy framework that includes:
  • a substantial energy efficiency effort that will lower energy demand;
  • significant increases in renewable energy generation to 20% by 2020 through increasing the target and introducing nationally consistent gross feed in tariffs;
  • increased funding towards research and development of renewable energy solutions; and
  • reducing any barriers to transition.
"The carbon pollution reduction scheme is the cornerstone of our climate change policy; however it will only succeed with these complementary measures," Mr Jackson said.

The Clean Energy Council is looking forward to working with the Council of Australian Governments on the national climate change strategy and other key energy policies. COAG is due to hold its next meeting in Canberra on 17 November 2008.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Waste, so want not for energy

Sydney Morning Herald
Tuesday 23/9/2008 Page: 30

AN international "green energy" company is offering councils technology to turn solid waste or sewage sludge into pellets which, rather than burnt, can be used to produce a synthetic gas with similar properties to natural gas. Global Nrg Ltd will design, fund, build and run waste-to-energy plants, which it claims eliminate landfill and the resulting greenhouse gas, at no cost to councils apart from the normal tipping fees.

The company sorts rubbish mechanically, selling the plastics, metals and other recyclables, and turning the residue into fuel pellets, which are converted to gas to make electricity or used as fuel in kilns. The gas can be used in producing ethanol, biodiesel and jet fuel. "There is no commercial risk to a council doing away with landfill and eliminating greenhouse gas," the president of Global Nrg, Mike Bartlett, said.

The company also "mines" landfills. "As close as we can estimate there are some 500 active landfills and some 1200 closed landfills in Australia. These landfills contain literally millions of tonnes of potential feedstock for energy via pelletisation, which could be used to provide a minimum of 40 per cent of Australia's power needs with green electricity for years to come.

"The wind does not always blow, nor the sun shine and water does not always flow, but as long as there is mankind on Earth there will be waste, so unlike solar, wind and hydro power, waste-to-energy is the only renewable resource that can support base load to the power grid," Mr Bartlett said.

A Canadian pelletising plant has been built in Toronto and plants have been ordered for New York and other US cities. "In China we are building 1200 waste-to-energy plants for the Chinese Government to supply green electricity," he said. Another company is applying technology to capture greenhouse gases, at the Macarthur Resource Recovery Park at Narellan in southwest Sydney, "at minimal extra cost to the local community".

There, WSN Environmental Services handles waste from Camden, Campbelltown, Wollondilly and Wingecarribee councils. Its Ecolibrium facility sells the recyclables, captures some of the methane emissions to produce energy to power its operations, plus the equivalent of 1700 homes, and produces more water than it uses by extracting water from waste and harvesting stormwater.

"The cost-benefit scenario could improve even further for councils when the carbon pollution reduction scheme comes into play and a dollar figure is put on emissions from waste," a WSN spokesman, Aaron Findlay, said. WSN has opened another methane project at its Eastern Creek landfill, which will produce enough energy for 5000 homes.

Shadow over solar power removed

Canberra Times
Wednesday 24/9/2008 Page: 5

Researchers at Australian National University have devised a new technology that stops moving shadows "cannibalising" solar cells and eating into generated energy. But the breakthrough technology - which could cut the cost of solar energy by half - will be commercialised and manufactured offshore in the United States and China. Although it could cut the cost of solar energy for many Australian households, it may be years before the new system is available here.

The technology marks another world first for Professor Andrew Blakers and the ANU sustainable energy systems team that developed solar sliver-cell technology. As their name suggests, sliver cells are wafer-thin cells which dramatically cut the size and cost of photovoltaic panels by using less silicon to generate energy.

Professor Blakers said, "Moving shadows can be a serious problem with systems that use solar concentrator cells. If a shadow from a stick, a leaf or a bit of bird poop falls across one cell in a string of cells, it can reduce the energy generated by that string of cells to zero." The electricity voltage bands run along the string of cells, with the level of energy produced "set by the worst- or lowest-performing cell in the string."

If a shadow falls across one cell, others "can gang up on it", with the result being an expensive - and potentially dangerous - rooftop solar system blow-out. "You'd get a red glow, you'd see a puff of stroke coming out and you'd have to replace that whole string of cells." Improved shadow tolerance has been one of the holy grails of international solar research and the global solar market, and the ANU research team has already attracted interest - and financial support - from the US and China for its breakthrough technology.

The ANU system, described by Professor Blakers as "a simple but incredibly useful piece of technology", can maintain power even when shadows fall across a number of solar cells. The ANU has teamed tip with scientists from China's Tianjin University - which has the country's biggest engineering faculty - and Chromastui, a start-up company from California - to develop new and cheaper roof-mounted solar trough concentrator systems.

The Federal Government has contributed $1.8 million to the joint venture under its Asia-Pacific Partnership scheme to promote cleaner climate-adapted technology. A test array of eight solar concentrator troughs was installed on the roof of Bruce Hall at the ANU in 2005. The troughs are like long, curved mirrors that focus the sun's rays on to photovoltaic cells, producing solar electricity, hot water and air conditioning.

The new, smaller and cheaper, shadow-tolerant rooftop solar system will be manufactured in California and either China or India. The aim is to make solar energy more affordable and the system could eventually sell for under $1000 - but, according to Professor Blakers, not in Australia where the uptake of solar photovoltaic systems to date is "less than 1 per cent of the photovoltaics that went into Germany last year".

CSIRO battery to run world's cars

Canberra Times
Wednesday 24/9/2008 Page: 3

Cars across the United States, Japan and Thailand will soon be powered by a world-first CSIRO lowemissions technology that cuts the cost of hybrid-electric vehicles by 70 per cent. But Australia may have to wait until this home-grown green technology arrives in imported cars, unless local car manufacturers express an interest in buying the battery to power hybrid cars.

The UltraBattery, invented by a Melbourne-based CSIRO team led by engineer Lan Trieu Lam, is being hailed as a key breakthrough that will significantly reduce global greenhouse emissions by making electric cars and other vehicles more affordable. CSIRO's Energy Transformed Flagship director John Wright said, "It's really something special.

"It's quite a remarkable technology, and it's generating a lot of interest." Earlier this week, the world's biggest independent battery maker, the giant US manufacturer East Penn, signed an international commercialisation and distribution agreement with the Japanese company involved in building and testing the battery prototypes. The agreement will see the CSIRO UltraBattery distributed by East Penn across the US, Canada and Mexico, while Japan's Furukawa Battery Company will market the technology in Japan and Thailand.

Described by Dr Wright as "a lead-acid battery with a few interesting new tricks to it", the UltraBattery combines a conventional lead-acid car battery with high-power electrodes. The revolutionary design is 70 per cent cheaper than current batteries used to power hybrid vehicles and delivers 50 per cent more power than conventional batteries. It also lasts four times longer.

Recent tests at the Millbrook test circuit in Britain - Europe's top testing ground for new car innovations - used a Honda Insight as a test vehicle. with the CSIRO hybrid battery powering the car through 160,000km without a hitch. Dr Wright jumped in for the final 5km run, and described the experience as "a real buzz, I can tell you".

Also watching the battery go through its paces at the test track were several members of the US Congress who suggested to Dr Wright that "getting the battery out in the market should be high on the US government's agenda". But will it be used in Australia, where greenhouse emissions from transport are increasing by 27 percent. "Well, that would be nice wouldn't it?" Dr Wright said. "We'd like to see it used in all major brands of cars, and that's probably how it will eventually come to Australia.

"It's not licensed here yet for car manufacture, but could be here within a few years if we receive an expression of interest for manufacture and distribution of the technology in this region." The UltraBattery can also be used to improve the performance and energy storage capacity of wind farms, and has been successfully tested on turbines at CSIRO's Energy Transformed flagship headquarters in Newcastle.

"When you see the turbine blades turning smoothly, it's quite deceptive as they're not generating a steady output of electricity," he said. "There are a lot of fluctuations - what we call electrical noise - but by putting in a battery we can shave off the peaks and spikes and smooth out the current quite considerably."

A Danish lesson for Tasmanian communities

Hobart Mercury
Tuesday 23/9/2008 Page: 25

THERE'S this island, off the coast of a continent, where winters are bracing - some would say cold. There are some who believe the island, even with its small population. can be self-sufficient in renewable energy, producing enough not just to keep warm but also to export to the mainland. Does this sound vaguely familiar? Well, while Tasmania is often in my thoughts, this time I'm thinking of a much smaller island called Samso, whose 4000 inhabitants have achieved astonishing success in their quest to live within their means and give something back to their planet.

Samso, part of Denmark, is a low lying island (highest point less than 100m above sea level) some 20km off the coast of the peninsula of Jutland. It has no rushing streams for hydro power, but it has plenty of wind. In the raid-1990s the good citizens of Samso saw the potential for wind energy, supplemented by rooftop solar panels and locally-made biofuels, to give them the energy they needed to turn off their oil-fired plants.

Then they set about making their dream a reality, raising the equivalent of about $100 million to install the wind turbines and other plant and equipment they needed. They met all construction costs from their own resources. It has to be said that they enjoy some advantages over inhabitants of Tasmania. Denmark's per-capita income is about a third higher than Australia's, so the people of Samso had a much greater individual capacity than we would to snake a tidy contribution to the kitty.

They also had the benefit of a Danish government subsidy which meets up to half the cost to consumers of renewable energy such as wind and solar, plus some incentive from the European Union. But remember, we're talking about a mere 4000 people, a tiny fraction of Tasmania's population of over 495,000.

A US journalist commented to a Samso local that the island's success was a classic example of "thinking globally, acting locally". The resident responded that with the global picture so bleak, he found it more comforting to "think local, act local". Whatever our global perspective, Samso emphasises for us and the rest of the world the importance of local action. And this brings to mind the potential role of local and regional government - as yet far from realised in Australia - in preparing communities for a tougher future.

There is already plenty of evidence that Tasmania's local authorities are in for a big shake-up as rising global temperatures begin to affect our own weather and climate. With a likelihood that our populated areas will experience lower rainfall, water supply and wildfire control will become increasingly significant local issues. More severe weather events will mean more wind damage and higher stormwater flows, and rising sea levels will put coastal services at risk.

If these threats aren't currently a concern to local councils, it's high time they were. There's clearly much to be done to help communities adapt to a changed environment, in the process reducing the risk of potentially crippling legal action against authorities. But the biggest challenge remains to reduce our rising contribution to this gigantic mess. If we in this island community can take some lessons from the Samso experience - even if the world remains in a quagmire - we'll feel a whole lot better.

Peter Boyer is a Hobart-based science writer and a presenter for Al Gore's Climate Project.

peterboyer@southwind com.au

Google's smart power

Australian
Tuesday 23/9/2008 Page: 38

General Electric, the worlds third-largest company, is working with Google to develop a so-called smart electrical grid that can make better use of power derived from renewable energy. The companies will jointly lobby US lawmakers and collaborate on technologies to make alternative energy sources, such as wind, geothermal and solar, commercially successful.

The partnership was unveiled last week at a conference at Google's offices in Mountain View, California. With a "smart" grid, people would be able to monitor individual energy use, sell energy back to utilities from electric car batteries and program appliances to turn on at times when electricity is least expensive, Google spokeswoman Niki Fenwick says.

GE and Google will focus first on transmission capacity planning to enable a large-scale deployment of renewable energy generation in the US. They also plan to develop plug-in vehicle related technologies, including software and services that allow utilities to integrate the vehicles into the grid.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Landfill has power to quell controversy

Canberra Times
Monday 22/9/2008 Page: 7

Far from stirring tip controversy, a methane gas-fired power generator at Mugga Lane landfill is likely preventing it. Three powerful generators across the road from the proposed Tuggeranong power station burn 1800 cubic metres of methane gas an hour, 24 hours-a-day. Since 1999, the plant has been generating enough electricity to power 3000 homes, reducing greenhouse gases from the landfill by up to 87 per cent.

Plant operator Martin Janota said residents in surrounding suburbs might be unaware of its existence but would not miss the smell if the methane gas wasn't burnt. "The houses over the hill, they'd be whingeing for miles," he said. Operated by Energy Development Limited, the Mugga Lane power plant with 3.45MW capacity generated 23.8 gigawatt-hours of power last financial year. Spokesman for Canberrans for Power Station Relocation Simon Byrne said he was aware of the Mugga Lane generator, which was so small it was not an issue of community concern.

The group is opposed to the Canberra Technology City gas-fired generation plant, which was scaled down in May from 210MW to 28MW after an outcry from community groups. EDL, which operates landfill gas-generation sites around the world, also has a small plant at the West Belconnen tip. Gas from rotting garbage is collected from production wells drilled into the landfill.

Mugga Lane's plant employs two full-time staff and has three gas engine generators, each powered by V1G diesel engines converted for gas and three stacks. EDL spokesman Chris Murray said carbon dioxide emitted from Mugga Lane, equivalent to one car's emissions, was 20 times lower than the methane gas it was taking out of the atmosphere. The Federal Opposition is calling for an audit of all landfill sites across Australia after residents in an outer Melbourne suburb evacuated homes when dangerous methane gas leaked from a disused rubbish tip.

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said a national inquiry was needed to prevent a repeat of the Cranbourne housing estate planning debacle, but the Government says states and territories are responsible for landfill sites. ACT Territory and Municipal Services said numerous old landfill sites across the ACT were not required by the Environmental Protection Agency to be monitored for methane gas levels. None were near houses and if a housing development was proposed it would be referred to the agency.

Zen's peace of mind for Vic homes

Adelaide Advertiser
Tuesday 23/9/2008 Page: 36

Adelaide company Zen Home Energy Systems will provide an innovative sustainable energy system in regional Victoria, and hopes to replicate the project across the rest of the state and South Australia. Zen Home Energy Systems will fit 300 homes in the Towong Shire with the company's fully integrated solar grid connect home energy system and solar hot-water system. Chief executive Richard Turner said the initiative would also get the local community involved.

"We're not just installing solar energy systems in homes and walking away; we're creating a new industry and education program within the community," he said. "Regional centres constantly battle against lowering population levels through losing youth and skilled workers to large cities.

"This initiative will combat that trend by engaging local tradespeople and developing new expertise in the region." Zen is now training local electricians and plumbers to install and maintain the systems, while working with local builders to help them integrate the systems into construction plans.

The company is also running education programs at local schools about renewable energy. Mr Turner said he hoped the scheme would be adopted by other regional towns and plans to offer the program in the Barossa, the Riverland, the South-East and Port Lincoln. "We can see the potential for other shires to get involved with similar projects," he said. "I'm keen to meet with local community leaders to show how the Victorian program can be replicated here in South Australia."

Report's hard line on carbon

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 22/9/2008 Page: 5

THE softer start to a carbon trading scheme being considered by the Federal Government and its climate change adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut, would do little to cut the nation's greenhouse gas emissions and cost more over the long term, new research shows. A report commissioned by the Climate Institute Australia studied different trajectories for cutting Australia's emissions before 2050, and concluded that a massive energy efficiency program was required to help the energy sector avoid $40 billion in extra costs over the next 40 years.

"If you go down the path of a soft start to emissions trading you are not going to get the same emissions cuts and the cost over time is likely to be greater," said the institute's chief executive, John Connor. Energy efficiency and the Government's Mandatory Renewable Energy Target were central to keeping electricity prices at manageable levels, says the report, prepared for the institute by energy modellers McLennan Magasanik Associates and Associates.

The union movement called yesterday for a national energy efficiency campaign. A "green revolution" could equip 500,000 homes with smart appliances, insulation and double glazing, saving an average household $429 a year in electricity bills, said the president of the ACTU, Sharan Burrow.

The program would create 7000 full-time "green collar" jobs at a cost of $2.75 billion, while slashing emissions by the equivalent of 1.5 million tonnes. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry asked the Government yesterday to consider including nuclear energy in the nation's energy mix.

Gas firms warn of big losses from ETS

Australian
Monday 22/9/2008 Page: 6

AUSTRALIA'S $15 billion gas industry could shrink by more than a quarter by 2020 unless it is protected from the economic effects of the proposed emissions trading scheme. The industry will use new analysis to reinforce its concerns to the Rudd Government that excluding LNG from compensation under the proposed ETS will stall up to $60 billion of new investment, and will worsen climate change by forcing developing economies, including China, to build more coal-fired power stations.

The new modelling, by Frontier Economics, estimates the 10 per cent cut in greenhouse emissions by 2020 proposed by the Government's chief climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, will require a $54 a tonne price for carbon and will slow the economy by nearly 2 per cent over the next 12 years. Victoria's brown coal industry will be forced to halve its output, while the nation's natural gas and LNG projects would be cut by about 25 per cent because they are not eligible for compensation under the scheme outlined in the Rudd Government's green paper in July.

The Frontier report says LNG and natural gas will suffer from a shrinking electricity market and the perverse effects of downstream industries such as copper and gold processing not receiving compensation under the scheme, while rival sectors such as coal mining will be eligible. The gas industry's warning of ''carbon leakage" the flight of investment to economies with no carbon price, resulting in no net benefit to the environment is in direct retaliation to claims made last week that the $15 billion LNG industry should not be protected from a carbon price.

A report commissioned by the Climate Institute Australia questioned the effectiveness of any scheme to compensate trade-exposed industries such as LNG without detailed cost-benefit analysis. The analysis by economists McLennan Magasanik Associates said all global LNG resources were already being exploited, so any reduction in Australian production as a result of increased costs under an emissions trading scheme would have no impact on global investment.

But the chief executive of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, Belinda Robinson, said yesterday less LNG production in Australia meant the emissions of Asia- Pacific countries would worsen as they used coal instead.

"If the carbon pollution reduction scheme has the perverse outcome of penalising Australian LNG to the benefit of the Chinese coal industry, there will be massive carbon leakage and the Australian economy and the global environment will suffer for no good reason," she said. "We will be faced with a situation of leakage-plus, where lost Australian LNG production is replaced by coal production.

"For every tonne of greenhouse gases emitted in Australia through the production of LNG, between 5.5 and 9.5 tonnes are saved in China." Energy analysts Wood Mackenzie say Australia is substantially "underweight" as an LNG producer accounting for only 8 per cent of the global market and already supplies the most expensive LNG in the Asia-Pacific region. "There has been no substantial growth in Australian LNG plants despite our massive resources there are still only two, the North West Shelf and Darwin," Ms Robinson said.

Bail-out bill raises US renewable energy hopes

http://www.environmental-finance.com
New York, 2 October:

Renewable energy groups are increasingly optimistic that Congress will extend production and investment tax credits, after the US Senate voted in favour of a revised economic bailout plan to which the provisions had been attached.

Following Senate approval, the House of Representatives must vote on the combined package and some members still oppose extending tax credits without finding alternate revenue sources. But major stock market declines this week could rally House support for the bill – which it rejected on Monday – during the expected debate and vote Friday.

"House members are hearing from constituents that it should pass," said Solar Energy Industries Association president Rhone Resch. "That's encouraging and it's a big difference from what they were hearing on Monday." Since the vote on Monday, the Senate modified the bill to include provisions such as an expansion of the federal guarantee on bank deposits up to $250,000 in hope of garnering more support in the House.

A major lobbying effort by renewable energy groups has gained the support of a few more Democrats and about 20 Republicans, Resch said. "At this point, we're very optimistic that this will get passed," he said. "I think we are very close." In a research note, New York-based Collins Stewart analyst Dan Ries described the developments in the Senate as a "ray of hope" and gave the legislation a 50-50 chance of passing. If the House decides not to amend the Senate bill, that probability rises to 75%, but it declines if the House makes any changes.

Renewable energy groups said the latest bill's provisions are identical to those overwhelmingly passed by the Senate about two weeks ago. The bill would extend the PTC until the end of 2009 for wind and up to 2010 for other renewable energy sources, as well as extend credits for biodiesel production. The 30% investment tax credit would be extended for solar energy and some fuel-cells through 2016.

"Our members are very pleased by the Senate's overwhelming vote of support for the renewable energy tax credits," Randall Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association, said in a statement. "We look forward to favourable consideration in the House of Representatives."

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Make ETS permits free for farmers, says NFF

Age
Monday 22/9/2008 Page: 3

MOST permits under the Federal Government's proposed emissions trading scheme (ETS) should be allocated free, especially for agriculture, says Australia's peak farming body. The National Farmers' Federation said free permits for agriculture would be justified as action by farmers had cut greenhouse emissions from agriculture, forestry and fishing by 41.7% between 1990 and 2005. More than 90% of carbon permits should be free.

"Free allocation with an efficiently working secondary market will deliver the same outcome and efficient price discovery as an auction system," the NFF said in its submission on the Government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) green paper. This would minimise the revenue shock from implementing the CPRS. "This process has been adopted in Europe and New Zealand," the NFF said. The green paper ruled out bringing agriculture into the CPRS until at least 2015, with a decision likely to be made in 2013.

The NFF disagreed with the green paper's assertion that companies could pass on the cost of carbon. "Agriculture's capacity to pass on costs is notoriously poor, meaning that many farmers will be forced to absorb the vast majority of the cost of these permits," the NFF said. The sector would also be hit by other price increases caused by the CPRS, such as fuel and energy, which would hurt farmers' global competitiveness from 2010.

"It would be perverse if agriculture was more adversely treated in the Australian CPRS than in any other ETS in the world," the federation said. The NFF said forestry could make a valuable contribution, but had the potential for perverse outcomes. These included less water run-off, affecting ground-water hydrology on neighbouring farms, biodiversity losses and reductions in land available for food.

The CPRS should also not bolster managed investment schemes, which "do not promote sound investment decisions in rural Australia". The NFF said it supported small-scale, on-farm forestry as a complement to agriculture while helping to sequester carbon. But the provision requiring trees on continuous land of 0.2 hectares or more should be abolished.

$40bn costing

Adelaide Advertiser
Monday 22/9/2008 Page: 2

AN EMISSIONS trading scheme introduced without energy efficiency measures or renewable energy targets would cost the electricity sector more than $40 billion, new modelling will show today. The modelling, commissioned by the Climate Institute Australia, says energy efficiency improvements ... will reduce the longterm cost of reducing emissions. Chief executive John Connor said: "The modelling shows that the most cost effective way to clean up Australia's electricity generating sector is by tapping into huge energy efficiency opportunities."

Rudd promises $100m for clean coal

Canberra Times
Saturday 20/9/2008 Page: 2

The Federal Government hopes to seize the lead on the world stage over the contentious issue of clean-coal technology, pledging $100 million to establish a global institute on carbon capture. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced the funding yesterday with Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, who said Australia, as a resources "superpower", was perfectly placed to be the frontrunner among 20 nations working in the area. Mr Rudd said that all major models of how the world could achieve lower greenhouse gas emissions expected a significant part of the reduction to be achieved through the use of carbon dioxide capture and storage, known as CCS.

However, only small-scale trials of the technology had been conducted, with no industrial-scale integrated CCS power stations yet built. Government funding was critical to achieve this breakthrough and Mr Rudd said it would be good for Australia to "get some skin into the game". "The clarion call from industry has been] let's get this going," he said. The institute was needed to "close the information gap, identify projects and organise finance - and to turn all these aspirational statements into reality", putting an end to the "litany of good intentions".

The Opposition attacked the announcement as the latest of Mr Rudd's "desperate attempts to make a splash on the global stage". Mr Rudd, a former diplomat and for five years Labor's foreign-affairs spokesman in opposition, is to address the United Nations next week. Shadow climate minister Greg Hunt and shadow resources minister David Johnston said Mr Rudd had only rebadged various Howard government initiatives, some of them seven years old.

The previous government committed $400 million to help develop clean-coal technology, including $100 million for a $750 million, 400 megawatt power plant in Victoria's Latrobe Valley. Senator Johnston said "with Australia's reliance on coal for 80 to 90 per cent of our base load power, we need to be concentrating our efforts on clean coal carbon capture and sequestration at home - not junketing around the globe lecturing other nations on their responsibilities".

Coal is Australia's largest source of export earnings, bringing in an estimated $43 billion in 2008-09. Industry and training unions welcomed the Government move to establish the institute. The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union's national president, Tony Maher, said that the institute would put Australia in "the driving seat". "Today's announcement ... is good news for Australia's environment and good news for the future of Australian jobs," he said. The Greens called on the Government to fund each major renewable energy technology by at least as much as it assisted the coal industry.

Senator Christine Milne asked: "Where is the $100 trillion fund to make Australia's world-leading solar researchers a global knowledge hub? "Where are the half-a-billion dollar funds to roll out solar thermal power stations, ocean power stations and geothermal demonstration plants? "All of these are ready and able to provide vast quantities of base-load power well before a single coal power plant using geosequestration [carbon capture] can be built."

Blow-ins leave mark as old country turns land of the giants

Canberra Times
Saturday 20/9/2008 Page: 1

On farms that were settled more than 100 years ago, massive 21st century technology is rising tip alongside the stockyards, rusted gates and old cottages. Just north of Bungendore, the $370 million Capital Wind Farm is taking shape in a huge logistical and engineering exercise. Twelve half-towers have so far been installed on a ridge overlooking Lake George, all of them to be eventually twice their current height. But that's just the start.

There will eventually be 67 turbines across the landscape. The towers will be 80m tall, each blade 44m across. The half-towers are already visible across Lake George from the Federal Highway. Once the wind turbines are completed, the top of the blade sweep will be about 124m above the ground. Even the nose cones and hubs which will sit in the centre of the blades are huge, construction workers scurrying through them in a surreal sight above Lake George.

The project also includes an electrical substation and 45km of underground cables. Escorted trucks arrive almost daily to the wind farm site, about 10km north of Bungendore, carrying the fibreglass blades from Port Kembla (via India) and the steel tower sections from Dalby in Queensland and Portland in Victoria. There are 102 workers on the site. Construction started in March and won't finish until next July or August.

NSW Planning Minister Frank Sartor approved the Capital Wind Farm in November 2006, with 80 conditions of consent. Renewable Power Ventures, a subsidiary of Babcock and Brown Wind Partners, is the proponent. The NSW Planning Department says the wind farm will generate more than 400,000 megawatt hours of electricity each year, "which is equivalent to the electricity consumed by approximately 52,000 homes each year". The wind farm will supply the national grid.

The NSW Government will power the Kurnell desalination plant from the Capital Wind Farm. Company spokesman David Griffin said the Bungendore site was chosen because it had predictable winds at times of high demand for electricity, was close to a transmission line with spare capacity and had vast tracts of cleared land. "Without doubt, it's the best wind resource in NSW," he said.

Seven properties are being leased by the company to accommodate the wind farm, including three historic Bungendore holdings owned by the Osborne family which has been farming in the area since 1886. The farms are running as usual while the wind farm is under construction and the Osbornes expect the properties to continue working when it operates. Brian Osborne, who has 5000 sheep on his property, said his lease with the wind farm was for 25 years. It was a more palatable option than carving up and selling off the family holdings as farming became more difficult.

Mr Osborne said he would be able to live with the wind farm. "I think I could live with that rather than live without it, otherwise we'd have to be gone," he said. The consent conditions included noise limits, a requirement for the company to identify and monitor at risk bird and bat groups and once decommissioned, the site must be "returned, as far as practicable, to its condition prior to the commencement of construction". If any turbine is not used for 12 months "it must be decommissioned unless otherwise agreed to by the director-general" of NSW Planning.

The company is to give $2.6 million to Palerang Council to seal and realign Taylors Creek Road. Mr Griffin said fewer than nine megalitres of water would be used on the site over the 18-month construction period. Bungendore Motel owner Greg Nye supports the wind farm, saying it could even be a tourist attraction. "They're like beautiful, big rural sculptures and it's part of the worldwide trend for more green energy, so it's a win-win really," he said but Dianne Douch, whose horse stud backs the wind farm, said the project was a scar on the landscape. "We never wanted them, but we've got them. From memory, I think we're going to see 27 of them from our place," she said.

Coming clean on coal scheme

Sunday Mail Brisbane
Sunday 21/9/2008 Page: 24

STATE Mines and Energy Minister Geoff Wilson admits a propaganda campaign being put together to boost support for clean coal technology is deceptive. The Clean Coal Council has developed a communications strategy to target key groups, starting with secondary school children, with the message that clean coal technologies are vital to the state's long-term economic stability and climate change response.

The council is made up of government and industry representatives and chaired by Premier Anna Bligh. A confidential government document, obtained by The Sunday Mail, says renewable energies such as wind, wave, geothermal and solar are also being explored but claims they are efficient only in "certain niche markets" and are still in the "development stages".

Simon Roz, a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace, says that is untrue. Renewables were an important and proven source of power in many countries, he said. "The Queensland Government is spending taxpayer money to fund a campaign to deceive the next generation of voters," he said. The Sunday Mail in July revealed that the Government received a CSIRO report last year that said renewable sources could provide all of the state's electricity needs.

Mr Wilson said the communications strategy was "only a draft at this stage" and "there are differing opinions about some of the content". "For instance, f don't agree with the description of renewable energy," he said. "To me, renewable energy is absolutely vital in tackling climate change. I've got to say I agree with Greenpeace on that score." The Government has committed $300 million for clean coal technology. The secret document says clean coal technology is seen as being in competition with renewables.

Windy sites sought

Sunday Mail Brisbane
Sunday 21/9/2008 Page: 22

THE State Government is searching for the windiest places in Queensland. In a bid to encourage alternative energy generation, the Environmental Protection Agency is working on a map showing the most promising locations to set up wind farms. "This initiative will provide useful research information free to anyone interested in developing wind energy," Climate Change Minister Andrew McNamara said. The EPA will produce the maps using its own data and information from the CSIRO.

Within a week or so, it will have information on winds at a height of 3000m. Data on wind at ground level should be available by the end of November. Early indications are that areas of north Queensland are promising, as well as an arc stretching from Kingaroy to Toowoomba in the southeast. The State Government recently called for expressions of interest from companies to develop a wind farm on state owned land at Archer Point, near Cooktown. The Federal Government is expected to order that 20 per cent of the country's electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020.

Wind farms a stormy issue in the shire

Sunday Canberra Times
Sunday 21/9/2008 Page: 29

A TURBULENT issue is buffeting the Upper Lachlan Shire. It's dividing once tight communities and setting neighbour against neighbour. When it comes to the stormy subject of wind farms, Shire residents aren't content to blithely shoot the breeze. Last Saturday's election gave the local council the opportunity to definitively canvass public opinion. A poll asked whether voters supported "the continuing development and construction of wind farm turbines in the Upper Lachlan Council area".

An overwhelming majority of the Shire's 5468 voters - 70 per cent - said yes. Every polling place came out in favour of turbines, which surprised Mayor John Shaw. The anti-wind farm lobby had mounted a strong and vocal campaign. Asked if it was just another case of Not In My Back Yard, Mr Shaw begged to differ.

"People aren't against the introduction of wind farms because they know we have to do something about not expanding out coal use ... We're quite happy to share the burden if the rest of NSW does," he said. "My argument is you try to put them on North Head or South Head in Sydney, and you can imagine the outcry. Maybe Newcastle and Sydney are the NIMBY areas of our state." The Upper Lachlan Shire already has one small wind farm at Cullerin, near Gunning. Four more have been approved and another is being assessed by the NSW Department of Planning.

The anti-wind farm folks say the turbines intrude on otherwise serene vistas, that the blades can kill hapless birds, that they don't generate employment and that they may bring down the value of adjacent properties. Supporters of wind farms cite the considerable ethical and practical benefits of sustainable energy and the income landowners can generate for every turbine they host. The anti-turbine lobby insists the poll result will not take the wind out of their sails.

Watchdog rates the greenies

Daily Telegraph
Friday 19/9/2008 Page: 91

THE Macquarie Bank-funded carbon offset group, Climate Friendly, has been named the best provider of offset products by a new watchdog for the $44 million sector. Climate Friendly's market is the small to medium-sized business sector. More than 50 companies were invited by the Total Environment Centre (TEC) to let its Carbon Offset Watch team scrutinise and compare their greenhouse gas abatement schemes, but fewer than half agreed.

Melbourne-based Climate Positive was ranked the most impressive provider from the not-for-profit groups in the survey, which was jointly conducted with consumer group Choice and the Institute of Sustainable Futures, at the University of Technology Sydney. The ranking system outlines the best carbon offsets available and will increase consumer confidence about whether the offsets they buy will be effective for reducing emissions, TEC spokeswoman Jane Castle said.

The offsets are created through the financing of projects that reduce greenhouse emissions, thus producing credits that are sold on for between $6 and $52 a carbon tonne to businesses and individuals. TEC examined the quality of the available products with those selling credits generated by the Kyoto Protocol compatible Clean Development Mechanism judged to have the highest standards, and the original Mandatory Renewable Energy Target the lowest.

Among those that declined to be surveyed were Greenfleet, ANZ and Bendigo Bank, Easy Being Green, Hydro Tasmania and Veolia Environmental Services. TEC said it was reasonable to expect that companies selling carbon offsets in the voluntary market should be willing to have their products assessed. This was particularly the case given the absence of specific legislation standards for the market, the group said. Cleaner Climate and the Southern Metropolitan Regional Council offsets scored outstanding ratings.

Power companies AGL and Origin Energy achieved good results, but missed the top ranking because some of the offsets they sold were accredited under lower scoring schemes than those offered by higher-ranked companies. Climate Positive chairman Brendan Condon said the Carbon Offset Watch site provided a transparent guide to quality offsets. "We are thrilled to be in the top band of offsetters," Mr Condon said. Choice policy officer Kate Norris said the new offset watchdog would put on notice those organisations that exploit consumers' environmental concerns. Until emissions trading is introduced, buying offsets is voluntary, via one of the 50 retailers selling carbon credits.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Green spells growth in WA market

West Australian
Thursday 18/9/2008 Page: 46

Almost half of WA's fastest-growing companies are in the green sector, cashing in on consumer demand for clean technology in areas such as waste water treatment, wind energy and aquaculture, according to a new report. The Ernst & Young report on the State's 10 fastest-growing small-to-medium industrial companies found that four focused on environmental areas, including green cleaning technologies and alternative waste management.

"People are getting more environmentally friendly," E&Y partner Peter McIver said. "People are concerned about the environment and companies are starting to focus on that as an area of opportunity." He said investors could also be turning to the environmental sector to spread the risk in their portfolio in uncertain times. The E&Y report, published yesterday, identified the 10 fastest moving small-to-medium capitalisation industrials in the WA market. The companies all achieved growth of more than 20 per cent in the June quarter.

Mr McIver said the 10 leaders relied on common growth strategies including retaining key talent, collaborating with blue chips and technology partners, sustaining research and development momentum, as well as building a brand by delivering beyond client expectations. He said the fast movers also operated in a global market and reduced risk through diversifying their products and clients.

All of the 10 chief executives interviewed for the report said the skills shortage was a considerable barrier to growth. "Many were focused on succession planning, with strategies to retain key people and develop their skills," Mr McIver said. Environmental companies said the cost of materials and fuel in WA was an additional obstacle to growth, while mining services suppliers said they were concerned about a lack of social and physical infrastructure in regional towns.

Riots and a ruined China inspire green revolution

West Australian
Thursday 18/9/2008 Page: 32

China is about to become the biggest investor in green energy to try to reverse the catastrophic effects of its industry on the environment. Last year, it spent $13.5 billion on renewable energy projects, slightly less than world leader Germany, and the Communist Party vowed to double it this year. Energy expert Li Junfeng, of the National Development and Reform Commission, said China already led in "overall scale of renewable energy development".

"The task is tough and our time is limited," Chinese President Hu Jintao said this year. "Government at all levels must give priority to emission reduction and bring the idea deep into people's hearts." Wu Changhua, from pro-business environmental organisation the Climate Group, said Beijing suddenly realised China needed a "new path" to prevent environmental disaster.

When she began lobbying 18 months ago, people asked what it was about but now there was "intense mainstream attention". "There are daily articles in the state media," she said. China's economic rise has blackened its cities, poisoned its water and ravaged the countryside. Last year, it overtook the US for carbon dioxide emissions and it has 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities.

Tens of thousands of pollution inspired riots every year drill home the message and the Ministry of Public Security listed pollution among the top five threats to China's peace and stability. Its solution combines tough environmental laws, severe penalties for provincial governors who fail to clean up the mess and a thriving renewable energy market.

Its Goldwind wind turbine maker, the world's biggest, has had 100 per cent growth in each of the past eight years. China makes more solar panels that any other country and has pioneered a solar hot-water system used nationwide. Mr Li expects wind energy to compete with coal as early as 2015 for energy production. Presently, coal supplies 70 per cent of China's power but the target for wind energy was raised to 10GW by 2010 when the 5GW target was met three years early.

However, critics say China is not likely to produce more than 3 per cent of its power from wind in that time. Still, the Government has pledged that 15 per cent of its energy will be from renewable sources by 2020 with dire threats for state corporations chiefs who will be judged 60 per cent on environmental goals instead of growth.

Environment Minister Zhou Shengxian also warned 21 governors they would be accountable if major lakes and rivers were not cleaned up. In rural areas, surveyors measure precisely fertilisers, pesticides, animal excrement and sewage while more than 1000 "clean" villages are being developed which dispose of 90 per cent of waste sustainably. Critics say the initiatives fall well behind China's booming, power hungry industries.

Emissions trading handouts cost earth

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 18/9/2008 Page: 5

INDUSTRY handouts to help cope with the introduction of an emissions trading scheme would cost half the Federal Government budget for infrastructure and transport, modelling submitted to Canberra shows. In a submission to be published today the Climate Institute Australia criticises work done by the Business Council of Australia warning that companies would move overseas because of a trading system.

"We need a laser-like focus on driving clean investment and opportunities in the low-carbon economy, not 'loser-lite' strategies that shield polluters with unjustified claims and inaction," the chief executive of the Climate Institute Australia, John Connor, said. A report by McLennan Magasanik Associates on behalf of the institute found the number of free permits the Government was proposing to give away would deprive it of between $3 billion and $6 billion in revenue.

That is roughly half the amount the Government spends on big ticket areas such as transport and about a third of what it spends on education. The Government has said it wants to use the money it earns from the sale of carbon permits to help householders cope with higher power prices. The institute wants the Government to commit to a 2020 target for reducing greenhouse gas pollution and argues it must be at least 25 per cent if Australia is to play a leading role in international negotiations.

Its modelling, done with the help of a former climate change adviser to the Government, shows Australia would be better off including petrol in the trading scheme and investing money raised in public transport or subsidies for more efficient cars. Last month the business council published modelling that predicted heavy polluting companies in such industries as minerals processing, manufacturing, oil refining, coalmining and sugar milling would shut down or move overseas as a result of emissions trading.

Moving overseas to escape the trading system is referred to as "carbon leakage" because it effectively moves the emissions created by those companies from Australia to another country. Lobbying on the emissions trading system has been hard and fast since the Government launched its green paper in July. Environmentalists argue the scheme as it has been foreshadowed does not go far enough but business is largely claiming it will be badly affected.

The institute's modelling is the latest in a string of submissions to the Federal Government. It follows a public campaign waged by the liquified natural gas industry over the past two months. Woodside Petroleum is arguing for more Government assistance and says every tonne of gas it exports to China and elsewhere results in less coal being burnt. It wants recognition for the work it does to lower greenhouse pollution overseas. The Government is more concerned about lowering Australia's high rate of greenhouse pollution.

The Australian Conservation Foundation criticised Woodside's argument, saying the company was ignoring the dangers of unchecked climate change. "Woodside is trying to make a molehill into a mountain," a foundation campaigner, Tony Mohr, said. "The stronger Aussie dollar last financial year had three times the impact that a carbon price would. This grab for cash from the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme makes Woodside look like an irresponsible climate cowboy."

$2m grant for energy research

Canberra Times
Thursday 18/9/2008 Page: 9

The Federal Government has announced more than $2 million in funding for research into climate change and alternative energy. Science Minister Kim Carr announced the funding yesterday as part of the $5.37 million international science linkages competitive grants scheme. A total of $2.1 million will go towards international research projects into alternative energy sources such as biofuels, solar energy, fuel-cell technology and nuclear fusion.

Other climate change-related projects include several international collaborations with the European Union and the United States to improve the way climate data is collected worldwide. Senator Carr said the projects would enhance Australia's high standing in the scientific community. "I look forward to the positive contribution that our investment in them will bring to our continued ... wellbeing," he said. Also included in the scheme was more than $1.8 million for medical research, including research into gene therapy, new cancer treatments and new diagnostic equipment.