Friday, 3 July 2009

Flood of funds for clean alternatives

Australian
Thursday 2/7/2009 Page: 5

AUSTRALIA has said it will not pick winners in the shift towards clean energy technologies, but carbon capture and storage and solar energy will be by far the biggest recipients of direct government funding of the sector over the next 10 years. As part of the May budget, the Australian government announced $4.5 billion would be spent over the next decade on clean energy infrastructure, with nearly half of that going to CCS and a third to the development of large-scale solar energy plants.

The central components of the Clean Energy Initiative are the $2.45bn allocated to the CCS Flagships Program over nine years and $1.6bn to the Solar Flagships Program over six years. Both programs are designed to fund 1000 MWs of capacity in their respective technologies. The CCS Flagships Program is likely to comprise three installations representing various CCS options, such as coal gasification, post combustion capture and oxy-firing, which can be used to reduce emissions from coal-fired power stations.

The solar program is likely to comprise four installations testing two systems under the banner of solar photovoltaics, and two from solar thermal, as well as energy storage a critical component if the technology is going to meet more than just peak demand. Projects for both programs are expected to be chosen next year, and construction is expected to begin around 2012, with commissioning of the facilities in 2015.

The federal government also has a $300 million Renewable Energy Demonstration Program (REDP), which will allocate $1 for every $2 spent to fund commercial developments of new renewable technologies such as geothermal, ocean energy and biomass. Several dozen applications have made it to the final round of assessment, but only a handful of projects across the various technologies will be chosen.

Although these government allocations represent nearly the total of direct support, a far greater investment in clean energy infrastructure is likely to come from the government's proposed renewable energy target (RET), should it make its way through both houses of parliament.

The target of 20% renewable energy by 2020 is expected to generate more than $20bn worth of renewable energy infrastructure. Much of this, at least in the early years, will come from wind energy, which is the most mature of the clean energy technologies and can be quickly rolled out.

However, developers of geothermal and ocean energy technologies are also confident they will be in a position to build large facilities by 2020, with the geothermal industry predicting some $2bn of investment by 2020, and ocean energy producers more than $1bn. Indeed, many in the clean energy industry have argued that the RET could and should be expanded, possibly to 25%, to cater for the potential investment that could be made.

The same argument has been made for the REDP, with the government confirming that projects worth more than $15bn have been proposed. Developers have suggested that some projects, and their technologies, will move to more supportive jurisdictions overseas, particularly in Europe, if they fail to get REDP funding.

The power of government incentives was highlighted in the subsidy for solar rooftop installations, which was halted several weeks early last month after costing the government more than $700m some $500m more than forecast. The subsidy will be replaced by a solar credits program that will tie in with the RET.

Support for clean energy infrastructure as part of the separate nation-building stimulus packages was relatively limited, with the major item being $2.71-)n set aside for home insulation essentially the installation of pink batts. To put that in a global context, in a survey of 17 developed economies by HSBC, Australia ranked ninth in the allocation of economic stimulus funds to the green sector.

Australia's spending on green initiatives pales in comparison with the $US220bn ($275bn) announced in China, amounting to one third of its overall stimulus package, according to HSBC's definition of green and climate related projects. It estimated the Obama administration had announced $US94bn worth of green measures in its stimulus package and noted that more than 80% of South Korea's $US31bn stimulus went to green and climate-related initiatives and infrastructure.

Still, Australia's focus on green issues in its stimulus package was more generous than that of India, which directed none of its $13.7bn stimulus plan towards green ventures, according to HSBC, and Italy and Japan, which allocated just 1.3% and 2.6% of their packages respectively, making them the least green of the G7 member countries.

The Obama administration has gone further than its fiscal stimulus package and has pledged a strategic investment of $US150bn over 10 years in clean technologies and other green themes such as energy efficiency and building efficiency. US President Barack Obama has made energy security and reducing the reliance on imported oil a central policy.

China has also announced its intention to become the world leader in electric vehicle production, and the National Development & Reform Commission has said spending on renewable energy installations may top $US600bn by 2020. The commission said earlier this month it would soon release details of a long-term plan to develop renewable energy to replace coal and oil with cleaner burning fuels.

In Australia, various state governments are also providing incentives for renewable energy, with Victoria announcing in May it would commit up to $100m towards a large solar energy station for the state, subject to the receipt of matching funding from Canberra.

South Australia also has a renewable energy target of 20% by 2014, and announced in its budget for this year and next that it would increase that target to 33% by 2020 to stimulate additional investment in renewable energy and accelerate growth in green jobs. It allocated $20m over two years to its Renewable Energy Fund.

Queensland has set aside $9.3m for a new geothermal power station at Birdsville, and $7.5m for a solar gas project with the CSIRO. It has also committed $19m for the first year of a 3000 job Green Army, and its solar hot water program will offer solar and heat pump systems priced at $100 for pensioners and low-income home owners.

Beyond pathetic is BP's dumping of alternatives

Age
Thursday 2/7/2009 Page: 2

IS IT any wonder that people are cynical about marketing when a company like BP decides that after a decade of trying to be the nice guy it can now relax and just be itself? Yes, it no longer needs to pretend that it is anything but a producer of oil and gas-with a nice little sideline in alternative energy. It no longer has to bear the slings and arrows of environmentalists accusing it of greenwash for extensively promoting clean energy initiatives that were wholly disproportionate to its actual investment in those programs.

Now that it is closing its alternative energy headquarters in London - which follows last year's closure of its photovoltaic manufacturing plant at Homebush Bay - BP's army of spin doctors, branding consultants and ad agency executives can take a break.

But the only problem is that BP told its that it was more than just an oil and gas company with a patchy record in human rights. BP wanted to be regarded as "an energy company", to be part of the solution of climate change not the problem. In short, it wanted to be loved and spent a fortune wooing us.

After it bought Amoco in 2000, BP bought some small-cap solar energy companies and five years later committed $US8 billion to solar and wind energy programs and developed a biofuels program. It then hired image consultants Landor & Associates and ad agency Ogilvy & Mather to come up with an identity that reflected this conversion to renewable energy. Thus was born Beyond Petroleum.

Real people voicing their opinions about oil companies starred in their ads, making a refreshing change to the muscular commercials that typified the oil sector. The crisp clean yellow and green sunburst logo neatly encapsulated the changes, as any good brand identity should.

But this week all that washed up on BP's reputation like an oil slick on a pristine beach. "It's perhaps unfortunate for their that they came up with such a memorable line as now they appear to be hoist with their own petard," notes Wayde Bull, planning director of branding consultants Principals. BP spent nearly a decade and $US200 million persuading its it was all true. On the day it announced it was halving its clean energy investment its own public relations people trashed that bank of trust and goodwill in a matter of minutes.

"I'm not sure that it's been our branding," BP spokesman David Nicholas said. "It's a strapline that's been used in our corporate advertising." He had "no idea" if "Beyond Petroleum" would continue to be used. The sceptics who dismissed the branding as cosmetic fluff were right. BP insists its $US8 billion alternative energy investment remains but in light of this news that money seems more like a corporate social responsibility initiative than a game-changer.

So, the next time a company gushes about its new brand identity, forgive its if we stifle a yawn.

US government lending could support $250bn of renewables projects

www.environmental-finance.com
25 June

With the distressed capital markets currently reluctant to provide extensive funds for renewable energy projects, the US Department of Energy (DOE) is committed to temporarily providing financial support for mature technologies, officials said. Over the next 18 months, the federal government will make a series of loans to mature technologies because the capital markets are not providing such funding, said Matt Rogers, senior advisor overseeing DOE investments from the economic stimulus package.

But the government does not plan to serve in that capacity indefinitely because its long-term role is to underwrite advanced technologies and fill funding gaps for projects such as energy efficiency that the markets do not handle well, he said.

"Our intent is to step in specifically where market failures exist and to solve that particular problem," Rogers said at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum in New York this week. "But the federal government is not and should not be a long-term substitute for the capital markets." The government can potentially provide enough funds to support nearly $250 billion worth of renewable energy projects, a meaningful, but insufficient investment in the sector, he said. "This is about making a down payment," he said.

An upcoming report from the DOE will establish long-term renewable energy goals, such as fulfilling 15% of US electricity demand from wind, 6% from solar by 2030 and at least 9-12% from hydropower by 2030, said Kristina Johnson, undersecretary of energy at the DOE. While there are numerous barriers to expanding the US renewable energy sector, a sizeable amount of increased production can be achieved by improving efficiency and expanding capacity at existing sites, she said.

In 2008, the DOE's loan guarantee programme received 46 applications for renewable projects and provided $10 billion out of the $14.3 billion sought by developers. The programme will soon reopen with an additional $8.5 billion for renewable projects starting in July, said David Frantz, director of the DOE's loan programme. The stimulus package provides for an additional $48.6 billion for renewable energy projects through September 2011. The law requires the agency to set terms and conditions in a manner designed to ensure loan repayment and to be a self-supporting entity, DOE officials said.

"We are clearly senior lenders," Frantz said. "We behave as a senior lender as you would expect. We're very careful and diligent in all of our underwriting activities and I think this probably explains, in some part, the delay in getting specific projects out." The DOE is working quickly to issue guidance for its loan guarantee programme and streamline the process by taking steps such as enlisting lenders interested in participating to assist the agency in the underwriting process, he said.

The guidance, likely to be released in July, must answer critical questions about the interaction between loan guarantees and grants, including whether projects can be eligible to receive both sources of government funding, said Neil Auerbach, managing partner for Hudson Clean Energy Partners.

Bills currently being debated in the Senate and House of Representatives would reform the existing DOE loan guarantee programme, create a new clean energy investment fund to allow funds to be used to support technology deployment and a new administration within the DOE to implement the programme, called the Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA). The DOE does not have a formal policy on CEDA, but Rogers said there are several key issues to consider, namely that the bill establishes the programme without providing funds.

"Authorisation without appropriation is actually going to make all of us crazy," he said. "One of the challenges we had at the Department of Energy loan programme over a long period of time is that it was authorised but not appropriated. It's really hard to make a programme work if you don't have resources." In addition, Rogers expressed concern that the provisions of the current bill could allow for the bypassing of the Federal Credit Reform Act, which was established to better control and manage the government's direct and guaranteed loan programmes. "If we make a set of bad loans, this industry or whichever industry receives those bad loans will suffer from it for 20 years and we can't afford to do that because this is a long-term game," he said.

ADB’s energy policy draws fire, despite renewables boost

www.environmental-finance.com
25 June

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is to double its clean energy investments to $2 billion from 2013. However, it is to maintain its support for coal-fired generation and some large-scale hydro plants, drawing criticism from environmentalists.

"While $2 billion annually is a significant commitment, this represents only a fraction of the region's financing needs in the area of clean energy," said ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda last week, during its 'climate and clean energy week'. "But we expect that this contribution will catalyse significant additional resources from the private sector, carbon markets and other sources."

The commitment is part of the ADB's Energy Efficiency Initiative, which set a target of investing $1 billion annually by 2008 - a target which it says it has exceeded. However, the Manila-based multilateral bank's updated energy policy - approved by its board on Friday - will see the ADB continue to support environmentally controversial power sources.

"ADB will also selectively support large hydroelectric power plants," it said. "However, such financing will be based on the economic benefits and the projects will comply with ADB's social and environmental safeguards requirements." Large-scale hydro projects often involve the displacement of local populations and the destruction of valuable habitats - and, particularly in tropical countries, the creation of their reservoirs leads to significant greenhouse gas emissions, caused by decaying vegetation.

Also, ADB will continue to support coal-fired plants: "To meet the electricity needs of the region, large capacity additions will be required for which coal-based generation will grow. ADB will encourage DMCs [developing member countries] to adopt available cleaner technologies, such as fluidised bed combustion, supercritical and ultra-supercritical boilers, and flue gas desulfurisation.

"As new technologies - such as integrated gasification combined cycle and carbon capture and storage (or sequestration) - are shown to be technically feasible and economically viable, ADB will support their deployment in DMCs to increase their financial viability," the policy states. It also said it will "selectively support coal-based power projects if cleaner technologies are adopted and adequate mitigation equipment and measures are incorporated into the project design.

"For all the brave words uttered during the meeting on climate leadership, ADB's new energy policy is seriously flawed," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia climate and energy campaigner Amalie Obusan. "For the ADB, 'clean energy' are words that do not mean anything." Greenpeace slammed the energy policy as "business as usual, with no intention of removal of coal, oil or gas from its portfolio to make way for investments in tried, tested and real 'clean energy' technologies such as wind, solar and modern biomass.

"Instead it is shifting funds to clean coal, with dubious techniques such as fluidised bed combustion, supercritical and ultra-supercritical boilers, and flue gas desulphurisation." The ADB notes that "nearly a billion people still lack access to electricity and Asia's energy needs are expected to double by 2030, presenting major supply and energy security challenges as well as accelerating climate change." However, its energy policy does state, as its first principle, that "support for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy projects will be prioritised and broadened to reach as many sectors in as many ways as possible." It will also continue to eschew financing nuclear energy generation.

GE, Hitachi to Seek Guarantees for Nuclear Project

www.bloomberg.com
June 30

General Electric Co., Hitachi Ltd, and Cameco Corp, plan to seek U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantees to help finance a venture that would use lasers to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel. GE Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment said today it completed an application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build the world's first commercial uranium enrichment plant to use laser technology.

The proposed development in Wilmington, North Carolina, would create as many as 300 permanent engineering and support jobs, as well as employ more than 500 workers during construction, Tammy Orr, chief executive officer of Wilmington- based GE Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment, said today in a telephone interview.

"We are closely working with the government on the next round of loan guarantees and would be very interested in participating," Orr said. "We believe nuclear energy is a worthwhile energy to invest in from a stimulus perspective." She declined to disclose the project's estimated cost or the potential size of the Department of Energy guarantees. The guarantees allow energy-project developers to borrow at lower rates than they could without the government's backing, according to the Web site of the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group.

GE Energy, of which the nuclear venture is a part, provided $29.31 billion of the parent company's $183 billion in sales last year. The Fairfield, Connecticut-based parent company doesn't disclose sales figures for the GE-Hitachi venture. GE Energy is the world's biggest maker of power-plant turbines. GE fell 4 cents to $11.72 at 6:40 p.m, in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have fallen 28% this year.

Maryland commission OKs Areva-designed reactor

www.newsadvance.com
June 30, 2009

A nuclear energy project that would use Areva's U.S. Evolutionary Power Reactor design received a key approval on Monday. The Maryland Public Service Commission issued a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the proposed reactor at Constellation Energy's Calvert Cliffs power plant near Lusby, Md.

UniStar Nuclear Energy, a joint venture between Constellation and Electricite de France, is leading the project. The Maryland commission's approval was required before construction could begin. It was one factor for which Constellation and UniStar were waiting before making a final decision to build an EPR. Much of the design work on the U.S. Evolutionary Power Reactor was done in Lynchburg by Areva NP Inc.

Areva is in the process of expanding and hiring 500 new employees in Lynchburg to support the detailed design and construction of proposed projects like the one in Maryland. Areva employs more than 2,000 people in the Lynchburg region. The Calvert Cliffs project is one of four that are undergoing the final due diligence and negotiations with the U.S. Department of Energy in hopes of receiving a federal loan guarantee, which could be essential to get loans for the project.

If it receives a loan guarantee by the end of 2009, UniStar could move forward on the project, according to a news release from Constellation. The project also needs approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A new nuclear energy reactor has not been built in the U.S, since the 1970s, and several companies are racing to be the first to build one soon. The NRC has 20 construction license applications at various stages in the approval process, including four that cite Areva's design.

Scotland plans “big push” towards European grid connection

newenergyfocus.com
30-06-09

The Scottish Government is planning a "big push" to establish an offshore grid network in the North Sea, as part of its aim to export electricity directly to Europe.

Speaking at the Second International Wave Energy Summit in London today, Lynn Vallance, head of the offshore renewables team in the Scottish Government, explained that it saw its proposal for an underground network of cables between itself, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands as one of its main objectives for the country in the renewables sector.

Originally announced in November last year (see this New Energy Focus story), the 'super-grid' would potentially allow the easy transfer of renewable energy among northern European countries, however, plans for the proposed network preclude England despite its extensive North Sea coastline.

The announcement comes as part of plans by the Scottish Government, which possesses 25% of Europe's tidal power energy potential and 10% of Europe's wave energy potential, to establish itself as an exporter of renewable energy across the continent and not just to the UK.

Ms Vallance said: "We are doing lots and lots of work in terms of pushing this sector forward for Scotland. The big push is off shore supply grids, whereby we will not just act as an exporter of renewable energy to the UK markets but also be shipping it to Europe."

Addressing the delegates at the event, Ms Vallance gave an overview of the current status of Scottish work in the field of renewable energy and said that its Marine Renewable Energy Roadmap was set to be published next month, which will assess where the Government is in relation to its goals for 2020.

Saltire
In addition, Ms Vallance defended the timescale currently in place for companies and researches to win the Saltire Prize, which is a £10 million grant to anybody able to successfully engineer a project capable of producing 100GW of energy over a continuous period.

Simon Grey, chief executive of Alness Ross-shire-based AWS Ocean Energy, asked if the current timescales for the project, which sets a deadline of operation as April 2015, were "set in stone" as he said companies "just don't have the time" to be able to compete for the prize under these deadlines.

Ms Vallance said the timescales for the Prize, which was said to have attracted 100 registrations of interests in April of this year (see this New Energy Focus story), were currently being looked at but tight deadlines would help accelerate delivery of technology. Responding to Mr Grey, she said: "We are trying to come up with time scales that are challenging and ambitious but they have to be ultimately achievable."

Commitment
Also speaking at the event, Trevor Raggatt, deputy director of marine energy and operations innovation unit of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), explained the UK Government was very much committed to support for the renewable energy sector and wanted to capitalise on the opportunity for the UK to become a "genuine world leader" in the field.

He said: "Between the UK government and the Scottish Government we are genuinely committed to the renewables sector and the idea of getting from where we are - at about 1.5% renewable energy generation to 20% in five years. "It looks like a heck of a challenge but it is a challenge that we as a government are committed to and we are committed to doing right and going forward from 2020 to 2030/2050 to meet the challenging climate change and carbon targets. We are committed to renewable energy," added Mr Raggatt.

Mr Raggatt also took the opportunity to explain that the Marine Research Deployment Fund (MDRF) could soon look to help finance projects having yet to issue any money from its £50 million budget. The MDRF was established in 2004 to help fund to wave or tidal power energy generation projects that have completed their initial research and development and are ready to commercially deploy.

He said: "We haven't given any cash out yet but we are getting to a stage now where we are seeing real sector movements towards marine deployment and what I can see is when you are ready for commercial deployment and say we have got a viable technology here, the MRDF is there to begin funding for those projects and help these projects through the initial difficulties of getting up and running." In addition, Mr Raggatt said that the government had begun work on the Strategic Environment Assessment for English and Welsh waters and claimed that it would hopefully be published in the next few months.

First step to converting solar energy using 'artificial leaf'

www.eurekalert.org
29-Jun-2009

Structure of artificial light harvesting antenna determined.

An international team of researchers has modified chlorophyll from an alga so that it resembles the extremely efficient light antennae of bacteria. The team was then able to determine the structure of these light antennae. This is the first step to converting sunlight into energy using an artificial leaf. The researchers will be publishing an article on their research findings in the online Early Edition of the PNAS journal in the week starting 29 June. Leiden researcher Swapna Ganapathy has obtained her PhD based on this subject, under the supervision of Professor Huub de Groot, one of the initiators of the research.

Forests at nano scale
They are the subject of dreams: artificial forests at nano scale. Or pavements and motorways where gaps in the surface are filled with pigment molecules that collect sunlight and convert it into fuel and other forms of – clean – energy. But before this can happen, artificial photosynthesis systems first have to be developed that work both quickly and efficiently.

Two things are needed to generate fuel from sunlight: an antenna that harvests light, and a light-driven catalyst. The article in PNAS is about the first of these: the antenna.

Imitating light antennae of bacteria
The fastest light harvesters are to be found in nature: in green leaves, algae and bacteria. The light antennae of bacteria – chlorosomes – are the fastest of all. They have to be capable of harvesting minimal quantities of light particles in highly unfavourable light conditions, such as deep in the sea. These chlorosomes are made up of chlorophyll molecules. The art is to imitate these systems very precisely.

German colleagues from the University of W├╝rzburg in Huub de Groot's team modified chlorophylls from the alga Spirulina, such that they resembled the pigments of bacteria. De Groot's Leiden group then studied the structure of these semi-synthetic light antennae.

Nanotechnology
De Groot: ' Nanotechnology and supramolecular systems are becoming increasingly important, but it is very difficult to determine their structure. So-called cartoons are frequently made that give a schematic indication of what their structure could be.'

De Groot and his colleagues successfully determined the detailed molecular and supramolecular structure of their artificial self-assembled light antennae. They did this using a combination of solid state NMR and X-ray diffraction (see attachment). X-ray diffraction enabled them to determine the overall structure and NMR allowed them to penetrate deeply into the molecules.

Stacking of molecules
De Groot: 'We already knew that the light antennae in bacteria form a structure rather like the annual rings of a tree trunk. The molecules in these semi-synthetic antennae seem to stack in a different way; they are flat. But this, too, is one of four ways we had thought in advance were possible.

New approach
The researchers still have to determine how the light antennae of modified Spirulina chlorophylls work in practice. De Groot: 'This is a completely new approach in this field.'

The new insights are coming in quick succession. Last month, De Groot, with an international team made up partly of different members, also reported a breakthrough in PNAS. In that article he showed how – also with a combination of NMR and another technique, namely electron microscopy – he had resolved the structure of the light antennae of the bacteria themselves. This allowed the researchers to explain how the antennae were able to function so quickly and so efficiently.

Toll Group wins $180m gas project contract

www.news.com.au
June 29, 2009

Toll Group has landed a $180 million deal to manage the supply base and logistics services for a gas project off Western Australia. Toll said today its WA-based Toll Energy division would execute the three-year contract for the $50 billion Gorgon project on Barrow Island. Toll also said its resources business continued to be a strong performer, and it planned to examine further investments and organic growth in the resources sector both in Australia and overseas.

It said its work would begin on Barrow Island once all necessary government approvals for the Gorgon project were received and following the joint venture partners' final decision to proceed, which is expected later this year. Exxon-MobilExxon-Mobil and Shell both have 25 per cent stakes in the project, which will draw gas from Australia's largest-known gas resource, the 40 trillion cubic foot Greater Gorgon fields. Most of the gas will be exported as liquefied natural gas, while a small portion is expected to be sold into the state's domestic gas market. Asian customers are lined up for most of Gorgon's LNG. First production is slated for 2015.

Chevron has so far awarded more than $1 billion of contracts for the project, including a $500 million contract to a Decmil Australia, Thiess Pty Ltd and Kentz Pty Ltd joint venture to build a 3,300 person accommodation camp for the Gorgon construction team. Chevron has operated on the island - Australia's largest onshore oilfield - for the past 40 or so years. Gorgon is Australia's biggest energy project and includes an ambitious geosequestration component. Resources sector consulting group Wood Mackenzie said in a report last month that geosequestration appeared to be "a workable long-term, albeit expensive, solution" to managing Gorgon's carbon dioxide emissions.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Mobil deal to take Caltex to the top

Age
Wednesday 1/7/2009 Page: 3

DEPARTING Caltex boss Des King is confident the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will approve the company's bid for more than 300 Exxon-Mobil service stations, which would catapult the petrol retailer into market leadership in all areas of its operations.

In his last interview as Caltex chief executive before heading back to parent company Chevron in the US, Mr King told BusinessDay that one of his legacies would be devising a strategy to make Caltex the market leader in refining, wholesaling and retailing in Australia.

"Our refineries are the largest in Australia with 32% market share," he said. "With our wholesale distribution we are also No. 1, at about a third of market share. But when it gets to fuel retailing we are only No. 4. Coles and Woolworths are No. 1 at 22% each. BP is No. 3 at 19% and we are fourth at 16% and that includes our franchises. Taking that out we are at 5%.

"If this is approved we will get a 6% increase in market share so we would be up there equal No. 1 with Woolies and Coles," Mr King said. He said he believed the commission understood Caltex's relationship as the wholesaler to Woolworths' retail petrol stations and that approval for its $300 million Exxon-Mobil offer would only increase competition.

"I don't think the public appreciates that when there is a Caltex sib in lots of places Caltex is not necessarily the retailer and that has caused confusion," he said. "We actually compete with Woolies at a retail level. The ACCC knows that though and that gives us confidence that we will get this approved."

After a holiday, Mr King will become president of Chevron Technical Ventures, a venture capital arm focused on clean energy. He said the developing world should be given access to the lowest-emitting technologies to allow them to meet their energy needs and help strike a climate change deal in Copenhagen in December.

He applauded the Federal Government for delaying its emissions trading scheme rather than rushing it through but believes the best way to treat petrol is through a tax system rather than emissions trading. "When it comes to distributors having to buy those permits, it drives inefficiency in the system," he said. "I think when it comes to emissions, 'emitter pays' is more effective. I think the debate has moved away from a carbon tax on fuel but...

it would make far more sense to have a carbon price on fuel set by the Government and let the big emitters that are industries work on the trading scheme." Mr King hands over to former Incitec Pivot chief Julian Segal, having just delivered a record first-half profit for Caltex but with a weaker outlook for the second half and doubts about a potential dividend.

Drilling for hot rocks

Daily Telegraph
Wednesday 1/7/2009 Page: 16

DRILLING started for Australia's first "hot rocks" commercial energy project yesterday. The plan is to drill 4km below the earth's surface at Paralana in far northern South Australia to gain access to superheated rocks. The consortium headed by Adelaide's Petratherm will create an underground heat exchanger capable of circulating water of more than 2000C. By 2011 the consortium expects to be supplying geothermal energy on a commercial basis and by 2013 to be powering homes and businesses on a much larger scale.

Closure signals fading BP vision for clean energy

Sydney Morning Herald
Tuesday 30/6/2009 Page: 18

BP HAS turned its back on more than a decade of preparations for a carbon-constrained future, closing its alternative energy headquarters in London and ushering its boss of clean energy out the door.

A BP spokesman, David Nicholas, yesterday confirmed a report in London's Guardian that about 80 staff in the company's alternative energy division would relocate to the corporate head office, and that spending on alternative energy this year would fall to between $US500 million ($620 million) and $USI billion; last year it was about $US1.4 billion.

The resignation of Vivienne Cox, the division's chief and BP's most senior female executive, was announced internally weeks ago and is effective from today. The BP chief executive, Tony Hayward, is said to be courting market favour by refocusing BP as a pure oil play. BP shares were up almost 1% to £478 ($979) in London trade last night.

The chief executive officer of WWF Australia, Greg Bourne, formerly BP's Australasian regional president and who worked for more than 30 years in the oil industry, said BP's alternative energy division was the result of long-range thinking in the 1990s. The former BP chief executive Lord Browne of Madingley drove the strategy, which added the tagline 'Beyond Petroleum" to BP's corporate advertising in 2000.

"What was interesting and quite palpable was the pride and hope that it engendered in employees around the world," Mr Bourne said yesterday. "I am disappointed for the organisation that they've left this behind, and I think many other people within BP would be as well. You must wonder where BP's future now lies."

Alternative energy investment has been affected by recent lower oil prices and the difficulty of obtaining project finance in the financial crisis. Last November BP closed its solar photovoltaic manufacturing plant at Homebush Bay- the largest such plant in Australia - with the loss of 200 jobs. Mr Nicholas said the decision to shut the alternative energy office, located about two kilometres from BP's headquarters in London, was "a real estate thing".

Buildings to get energy rating like a car or fridge

Adelaide Advertiser
Tuesday 30/6/2009 Page: 40

THE clock is ticking for commercial property owners to obtain energy-efficiency ratings ahead of a mandatory disclosure scheme next year. Industry experts are saying owners may find it difficult to sell or lease assets unless they have met strict new criteria under the Federal Government's Mandatory Disclosure of Office Building Energy Initiative, expected to be in place from July 1 next year.

From then, any commercial property owner wanting to sell their premises or lease more than 2000sqm of office space will be required by law to disclose the building's energy-efficiency rating before any agreement can be made. Ratings will be determined by government-accredited National Australian Built Environment Rating System, or NABERS, assessors.

Only five Adelaide office buildings have published NABERS ratings, including the ANZ Building on Waymouth St, but not many realise the risk of not complying, says national auditor Big Switch Projects managing director Gavin Gilchrist. "Thousands of local businesses are putting themselves at risk of losing rental income and the ability to sell their premises - or risk breaking the law," Mr Gilchrist said. "Regrettably, Adelaide commercial building owners don't realise this is coming," he adds.

The new mandates will enable tenants shopping for office space to get accurate energy ratings information about a building before they sign a contract, just like with a new fridge or car. It can take from four to six months for assessors to collect data for analysis and determine the rating. The entire process costs between $3000 and $7000, depending on a number of factors including size and tenancy.

Jones Lang LaSalle head of sustainability Anita Mitchell said that combined with new regulatory requirements, current market conditions also would drive a flight to environmentally sound buildings. Investors were de-risking their portfolios and a yield spread between prime and secondary assets was becoming more apparent.

"In softer markets what we are starting to see is a differentiation between prime and second grade yields, which means the market is starting to value building quality," she said. "If you hold an asset in your portfolio that is unable to meet these new standards.., then the real risk is that property owners will be left holding assets that will be devalued by the market."

Ms Mitchell said a recent survey of Adelaide investor sentiment found 68% of investors rated sustainability as deal-breaking or a positive aspect to a deal. She also said tenants were becoming more astute and were increasingly looking for energy-efficient buildings to minimise outgoings, which would further add to the pressure on building owners. "There is a bit of a perfect storm happening at the moment in the building sector with regulation coming together with market dynamics." she said.

3900 villages in Karnataka to light up with solar power

steelguru.com
Sunday, 28 Jun 2009

Projects Today reported that Karnataka Renewable Energy Development has invited bids from solar technology providers to design, finance, build, operate and maintain solar and hybrid power plants. However, this step has been is in response to the state government's plan to launch a self sustaining solar technology program in 3,900 villages in 39 most backward blocks to cater to the energy needs of 5 million people.

As per report, solar energy is to be provided for street lights, household consumption, entertainment, educational purposes, water lifting for irrigation, drinking water supply, purification and desalination plants, deflourination, milk pasteurization and local cottage industrial applications. Meanwhile, the solar energy is expected to be metered and made available at a fee determined in advance. The provider who wins the contract can collect fees from users.

Public still supports emissions scheme

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 29/6/2009 Page: 4

TWO-THIRDS of voters support the Rudd Government's emissions trading scheme in a finding that will do little to ease pressure on the Opposition to deal with the scheme in the Senate before the end of the year. The latest Herald/Nielsen poll finds 65% support the scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and 25% oppose it. Support for the scheme was virtually unchanged since the question was last polled a year ago, but opposition to it has risen by 10%age points as arguments against the scheme in the midst of an economic crisis have mounted.

However, progress over the weekend in the United States towards establishing a scheme has been seized on by the Government to step up the pressure on Mr Turnbull and the Opposition leader hinted yesterday the Coalition may now move earlier. The Government wanted the Senate to vote on the scheme last week but the Coalition sided with the independent senator Nick Xenophon to delay a vote until August 13.

Keen to avoid an early election on climate change, the Coalition believes nothing should occur until the new year, by which time other nations will have stated their intentions at an international conference at Copenhagen and the US will have settled on a scheme. At the weekend the US House of Representatives passed legislation for an emissions scheme, prompting the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, to say yesterday that Mr Turnbull was running out of excuses for delay.

Look at what is happening in the United States," Mr Rudd said. "Rather than voting not to vote, which is what the Liberals have done here, let's get on with the business of acting and getting things done." Mr Turnbull hinted during an interview on Ten Network's Meet the Press of proposing amendments in August. One change the Coalition would demand would be to treat the coal industry as an emissions-intensive, trade exposed industry, thus entitling it to free permits.

If the scheme is blocked by the Senate in August, and again three months later, the Government would have a trigger for a double dissolution. The most likely date for an early poll would be March and Mr Turnbull has told his party room the Coalition would most likely lose an election then. The Minerals Council of Australia said the US bill proposed a less harsh transition for industry and its passage "highlights the need for substantial changes" to Australia's scheme.

Of the 25% which the poll found opposed the scheme, 29% felt Australia should not go it alone" but wait for other nations. Another 25% felt it would damage the economy, 24% felt climate change was not a product of human activity, and 17% thought the cuts were inadequate.

Ticket to ride

Summaries - Australian Financial Review
Monday 29/6/2009 Page: 4

Australia's first hybrid-electric bus trial, involving two Melbourne buses on suburban routes, was launched by the Victorian government yesterday. The $500,000 technology is expected to save 20% in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to diesel buses.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

A breath of fresh air

Herald Sun
Monday 29/6/2009 Page: 27

In these turbulent times few have remained standing as tall as former Babcock and Brown satellite fund Infigen, writes Olga Galacho

Infigen Energy, short for infinite generation, encapsulates the opportunism expressed in the old Chinese proverb: When the storm comes, some build walls, others build windmills. The $1 billion listed windfarm owner has risen from the ashes of its scorched, former parent company Babcock and Brown, which was burnt beyond recognition in the credit crisis fireball last year. It is the renamed, revamped B&B Wind Partners, which owned and operated the windfarms developed by Babcock and Brown.

This week, Infigen Energy will begin not just the new financial year, but a new life as an independent owner and developer of windfarms in its own right. "We now own a great pipeline of projects and are looking forward to capturing the development profits that we couldn't collect when we were associated with Babcock and Brown," managing director Miles George said. The company has worked hard to disassociate itself from its financially distressed former parent since December when its links were officially severed. "While there was a perception that we were part of Babcock and Brown, there was a negative sentiment towards us," Mr George said.

A chemical engineer by profession, Mr George worked at infrastructure investment company AIDC before joining Babcock and Brown's wind operations in 1999. With palpable relief, he adds that last Monday, Infigen Energy completed its move out of B&B's Sydney offices and tomorrow it will make a final payment of $5 million out of the $40 million in severance fees the parent company demanded. Since splitting away, Infigen Energy has streamlined its portfolio by selling windfarms in Spain and Portugal, and putting its French and German ones up for sale to focus on Australia and the US.

Mr George said these are the two markets that will produce most opportunities for Infigen Energy when renewable energy targets are mandated. "It is our aim to grow in the markets where we have an advantage, which we don't have in some European countries where local utilities have a greater competitive edge." In the US, windfarms accounted for 42% of the new power generation built last year. On Wednesday, the company signed off on a $23.8 million deal to buy out B&B's interest in its Australian and US wind assets.

In Australia, Infigen Energy is twice as large as its nearest rival with generation assets that have a total capacity of 508 MW, and it is the sixth biggest player in the US with 1069 MW of capacity. When fully developed, Infigen Energy's Australian pipeline of 12 windfarms will add about 1000 MW of capacity to its current portfolio. Victoria's largest power generator, the coal-fired Loy Yang A, has a capacity of 2100 MW. "We are quite confident the renewable energy target will be implemented by the Federal Government this year," Mr George said of the much anticipated but yet to be enacted legislation.

The target will require electricity retailers to progressively source 20% of their power from renewable energy generators from 2010 to 2030. He added he was pleased that the proposed legislation included an increased penalty price for retailers not complying with the target to $65 a MW hour from $40 previously, and that the fine will not be tax deductible. Mr George estimates the expanded target, when it finally comes into law, will help to create 30,000 jobs as windfarm operators develop their pipelines.

Infigen Energy expects to finish building a windfarm near Canberra and another in South Australia by this year and is likely to start the first of its pipeline projects in about 12 months. The company has been listed since 2005 and employs 40 staff in Australia. After soaring to $2.02 a share, the stock took a nose dive along with other Babcock and Brown satellites, languishing around the 800 mark until earlier this year, when the parent company sold its 10% stake in Infigen Energy. A buy-back for up to 30% of the shares is under way, with 7% of the stock already reclaimed. On Friday, Infigen Energy shares closed at $1.18.

Cement wisdom not set in stone

Australian
Monday 29/6/2009 Page: 24

A PRIVATELY owned Melbourne company about to bring lowcarbon cement into commercial production has taken issue with the government's proposed emissions trading scheme, saying it offers no incentive to the incumbent cement producers to lower emissions and might even allow them to collect windfall profits from gaming the system.

Zeobond, a company established and owned by the family of University of Melbourne professor Jannie van Deventer, has developed a product called E-crete. It claims 80% less emissions are produced than conventional cement.

E-crete is created by using geopolymers and a less emission intensive chemical reaction than conventional cement, which releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide one tonne of carbon for every tonne of cement mostly when limestone is broken down using extreme temperatures. It is estimated that three tonnes of cement are produced per person, per year. It is now estimated as the third-largest human contributor to greenhouse gas emissions after the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

Professor van Deventer's concern with the proposed ETS is that the cement industry has convinced the government there are no low emission alternatives, and because it is treated as an emissions intensive, trade-exposed industry, it will get 94.5% compensation through free permits. Professor van Deventer says using substitutes such as fly ash and slag can significantly reduce emissions. Australian cement producers do use such substitutes, but at a lower rate than many other countries.

Because of the way the ETS compensation is calculated based on the amount of clinker produced, rather than cement binder producers could add more substitutes earlier in the process, increasing the volume of free permits they could receive for the same volume of blended cement. Clinker is stuff that comes out of a kiln. "If you add ash you can get a totally perverse outcome, giving credits for material that didn't generate carbon in first instance," Professor van Deventer says.

Zeobond believes it is further disadvantaged because it is unlikely to enjoy the benefits enjoyed by emissions-intensive trade-exposed (EITE) industries for any energy emissions emitted in its own process, and so could be subject to the full carbon price. According to RiskMetrics, the cement industry would receive $190 million in free permits in the first full year of the ETS in 2012-13, and would have to buy only $14m of permits. Cement producers Boral ($64m), Adelaide Brighton ($54m) and Holcim ($35m) rank among the top 20 company recipients of EITE assistance.

Zeobond has proposed an alternative system, which would still provide compensation but would redefine the activity as the production of a concrete binder, rather than clinker. This would ensure that binders that do not use the conventional Portland Cement process such as its own are not disadvantaged. The incentive should not be placed in the hands of producers, but in the hands of users, Professor van Deventer says.

Zeobond already faces a hard enough task challenging the industry giants. Scale is the key, but this can only be achieved by having numerous plants in the big markets, as transport is a major cost. And Zeobond also needs to be able to access the fly ash and slag supplies, which are largely controlled by the cement industry. Our product is slightly more expensive (than the incumbents), mostly due to supply chain issues, but we don't buy enough quantities to push down the cost," Professor van Deventer says. "When you have scale, all that changes."

E-crete has been approved for use in footpaths and curb and guttering on main roads in Victoria, and Professor van Deventer says interest from local councils is very strong. "We don't need much penetration in the market to be very substantial." The key, though, is creating a network of plants. The company has one small demonstration plant that produces around 150 cubic metres a day a large concrete plant would produce that much in an hour but has signed licensing agreements with various groups.

The first commercial-scale plant should be ready within months. The company is currently raising money with the help of Macquarie Capital Advisors. Interestingly, the technology developed by Professor van Deventer is similar to that used by the ancient Romans, but the knowledge was lost. The production of conventional concrete has hardly changed in more than 100 years. "There has been very little innovation," he says. Now, he says, there is a strong desire in the Australian consumer market for change. "They really want to look at low-carbon products. There is a serious intent to do something."

US emissions Bill clears first hurdle

Sunday Canberra Times
Sunday 28/6/2009 Page: 16

THE US House of Representatives has narrowly passed legislation to limit pollution blamed for global warming, handing President Barack Obama an important, hard-fought victory. By a 219-212 margin, legislators voted for the first time to limit carbon emissions and shift the United States economy to cleaner energy in a move proponents said would create jobs and restore the US' shaky leadership on climate change before global talks in December.

Mr Obama said the vote amounted to a victory of the future over the past as well as "a bold and necessary step", and urged the US Senate to pass his clean energy bill. He expressed regret that for decades US politicians had complained about the country's dependence on foreign oil only to see that dependence grow. "We have seen our reliance on fossil fuels jeopardise our national security," he said. "We have seen it pollute the air we breathe and endanger our planet.

And most of all, we have seen other countries realise a critical truth: the nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy." The American Clean Energy and Security Act aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020, and 83% by 2050; create "green" jobs, and wean the US economy from oil imports.

The day-long debate pitted supporters who argued the Bill would put a shine back on the l S economy against foes who described the measure's more than 1200 pages as a grim recipe for long dole queues. Minutes before the vote, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi exhorted her colleagues, "Just remember these four words for what this legislation means - jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. Let's vote for jobs."

Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner warned the measure would send energy costs skyrocketing and denounced it as "the biggest job killing bill that has ever been on the floor of the House". The pitched political battle over a central plank of Mr Obama's platform now shifts to the Senate, where the prospects for action this year are uncertain. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid hailed the House's "courageous step" but warned the Bill was not perfect, while vowing to pass bipartisan and comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation in the northern autumn.

The Bill would create a cap-and- trade system limiting overall pollution from large industrial sources and then allocating and selling pollution permits. It would require utilities, by 2020, to get 15% of their electricity from renewable resources - solar, wind, geothermal and biomass - and show annual energy savings of 5%.

Dithering Australia leaves promising solar future in the dark

Age
Saturday 27/6/2009 Page: 2

Governments fail to get behind scientists who are leading the world.

AUSTRALIAN support for the solar industry is faltering just as the technology promises to deliver baseload power. Recent breakthroughs in concentrating solar energy technology allow heat energy to be stored almost indefinitely in molten salts - and dispatched as needed.

The Andasol parabolic trough solar thermal plant near Guadiz in Spain, developed and operated by German company Solar Millennium (which has an Australasian joint venture with Leighton Contractors), generates 50 MWs (MW) of clean electricity, with enough storage to run for 7.5 hours without sun and around the clock in summer.

There's plenty more coming, with Bloomberg reporting 14,000MW of solar thermal power stations are in the pipeline in Spain alone. That's enough clean power to run NSW, according to Matthew Wright, of Melbourne-based advocacy group Beyond Zero Emissions. In the US, SolarReserve and a division of giant defence contractor United Technologies plan a series of solar thermal "power towers" in the Californian desert - generating between 50MW and 300MW each - again using molten salts to store energy and able to run 15 hours without sun.

Even better solar technology is being developed here, at the Australian National University, using super-heated ammonia to store energy. A company called Wizard Power is in a joint venture with ANU to commercialise the process. John Grimes, chief executive of the Australian New Zealand Solar Energy Society, fears a bitter replay of earlier brain drains. "Australian scientists and research and development are at the leading edge of the world," he says. "What we lack is government support to commercialise and capitalise on that research. We will be the dumb consumers of the technology that we invented."

The Australian Government has shown this month that it is all over the place when it comes to solar energy policy. On a positive note, it surprised many when the May budget allocated $1.35 billion to part-fund construction of up to four solar energy stations generating up to 1000MW each. But Grimes is concerned that, amid continuing uncertainty over the Government's renewable energy target (RET) and emissions trading scheme-and in the wake of the financial crisis - it will be difficult to raise the snatching private capital needed to get those projects off the ground.

Investor confidence would not be helped by the latest triple whammy of abrupt decisions. The popular $8000 means tested solar rebate was unilaterally dumped by Environment Minister Peter Garrett on June 11, a fortnight ahead of schedule, leaving many suppliers, installers and home owners in the lurch. Then it was revealed that a replacement scheme, to provide solar credits under the new RET regime, in what was meant to be a smooth transition from July 1, would not be decided until August.

Finally this week, Garrett axed the Renewable Remote Power Generation program supporting installation of solar energy in remote areas. "At this point in time there is no Federal Government support for domestic-scale PV (photovoltaics) in this country," says Grimes, "which demonstrates the lack of longterm thinking for this really important industry. There is no road map. All the PV manufacturers have pulled out - they're all gone, it's all over."

Australia has the best solar resource in the world, but the domestic market has not had the scale needed to support the rapid commercialisation of our home-grown solar technologies.

Australian scientist David Mills had to go to California to find backing for his company, Ausra, to build his solar thermal power stations there. (Local venture capital outfit Starfish Ventures has a stake.) UNSW researcher Zhengrong Shi made a fortune taking Australian-developed PV technology to China, listing solar panel manufacturer SunTech on the NASDAQ technology stock exchange.

Brilliant Australian-listed Dyesol, which makes third generation photovoltaic cells, had to go to Wales and partner manufacturer Corus to commercialise its power generating Colourcoat steel panels. Australia's state governments could help promote a homegrown solar energy industry, but are pulling their most important policy lever in just the wrong way. More than 60 jurisdictions around the world have introduced a gross feed-in tariff, which pays home owners for every renewable kW they generate.

In Australia only the ACT Government has a gross tariff, brought in a year ago. Tasmania and the Northern Territory are yet to decide. The other states have a "net" tariff, which only pays the home owner for any surplus electricity they generate. The most common solar systems only generate a maximum of 1-1.5KW - not enough to power a typical home. One energy expert said our net feed-in tariffs were "completely stupid". NSW has become the latest to bring in a net tariff, through supposedly green Deputy Premier and Environment Minister Carmel Tebbutt.

Spanish detail plans for Mt Gambier wind farm

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 27/6/2009 Page: 85

A PROPOSAL to build a windfarm near Mt Gambier is about to be submitted to the State Government. Acciona Energy, co-owner with Roaring 40s of the Cathedral Rocks Windfarm outside Port Lincoln, wants to build a 75MW plant on pastoral land near Allendale East, 20km south of Mt Gambier. "We expect to submit that application very soon," Acciona group managing director for Asia Pacific Brett Thomas said yesterday.

Comprehensive studies had been completed and consultation work done with the local community, Mr Thomas said. He said there was plenty of demand for wind energy and he was optimistic government policies would encourage this further. "SA is well set up with the way it attracts wind energy projects and the way it ensures that while they are rigorous in design and rigorous in the planning and approval process at the same time they're very efficient at getting them through," he said.

The industry was collaborating with the Government to address challenges arising in infrastructure requirements as SA moved towards a greater role for renewables, he said. The Allendale East windfarm is expected to cost about $200 million. Mr Thomas acknowledged raising finance at the moment was difficult. "But Acciona is a very strong global company with a fantastic record," he said. Australian banking groups were keen to work with renewable projects such as Acciona's, he said. The Allendale project would employ about 100 people in the construction phase and 10 to 15 ongoing jobs would be created to run the farm.

Wind farm inquiry

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 27/6/2009 Page: 48

THE role of rural windfarms in reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be the subject of a NSW parliamentary inquiry. Greens MP Ian Cohen will chair the inquiry into how windfarms can reduce emissions created by electricity production, the impact they have on rural properties and the best locations for them. Of windfarming, Mr Cohen said: "It is forecast to deliver the state considerable growth in the renewable energy industry, increased regional job opportunities and reduced greenhouse gas emissions."

Wave power support

albany.yourguide.com.au
25/06/2009

THE Perth company planning to generate power from wave energy has received support from WWF-Australia (World Wildlife Fund).

Albany is being considered by Carnegie Corporation for the installation of its first CETO wave-energy demonstration plant in Western Australia. A WWF report released last week claims the clean, green, wave energy industry will create 3,210 jobs by 2020, including jobs in local manufacturing and maintenance.

WWF-Australia CEO Greg Bourne said the provision of clean, baseload renewable energy as well as thousands of jobs was important not only for Australia but the world. "Renewable technologies are the nuts and bolts of Australia's clean energy future," he said.

"What we are seeing here is the birth of a new industry that will provide tens of thousands of jobs and a technology and expertise that we can export around the world, as well as renewable energy to power Australia." The report claims that building 1,500Mw of wave energy power stations would generate enough clean, emissions-free electricity to power 1.2 million households, or 4 per cent of Australia's forecast electricity needs.

Solar cell company in race for energy deals

Canberra Times
Friday 26/6/2009 Page: 2

Applied to the non-transparent facade of a building such as Woden's Lovett Tower, Dyesol technology could provide between 50 and 100% of the building's electricity needs, according to its proponents. The dye solar cell technology, developed by a Swiss scientist who created artificial photosynthesis, is spreading around the world, with steel and glass manufacturers testing its capabilities for buildings.

The main focus is on powering huge warehouses and factories, but dye solar cells have numerous applications, from lighting marine buoys to powering car computer systems in low light. Its technology was seized upon by the Australian Government more than a decade ago, and its commercialisation is being managed from headquarters in Queanbeyan.

But, for now, it won't power the Lovett Tower or catapult Canberra to the forefront of the clean energy industry. Instead, Dyesol is spreading its wings overseas and wants to lead the solar industry with dye solar cell technology. On the brink of commercialising in the Britain, Dyesol has also signed a $1 million deal with a subsidiary of Asian oil and gas titan Petronas.

The company has raised $9.4 million in share placement and purchase schemes over the past six months to hasten commercialisation and establish in the United States. Scientists Sylvia and Gavin Tulloch founded Dyesol, which listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2005.

After spending $30 Trillion on research and development and commercialisation, the company is now in a race with rival solar technologies to sign leading energy partners. Mrs Tulloch said all progressive energy companies, such as Petronas, were looking for solar technologies. "Signing with one is like dancing with giants, except this one is easier because of its relationship with Australia."

Dyesol is yet to be proven commercially, is years away from paying a dividend and its stock holding is so insignificant sharemarket analysts won't comment on its performance. But the company is spreading swiftly with partnerships in Italy, Switzerland, Europe, Korea and representatives in Japan, Taiwan, Abu Dhabi and New Zealand. Its Australian chief executive is former head of Australian Capital Tourism Ross MacDiarmid.

Solar power scheme expands

Age
Friday 26/6/2009 Page: 9

A CONTROVERSIAL scheme that will pay a premium for rooftop solar energy has been expanded to include small businesses, schools and community buildings. The State Government's solar bill - which will pay 60 cents per kW hour of solar energy generated at home and fed into the electricity grid - previously applied only to homes.

The Government yesterday also agreed to increase the size of solar system that qualifies for the payment in order to win support in the upper house. But the most criticised part of the solar feed-in tariff legislation - that it is paid for energy fed into the grid only, and not energy generated and used at home - remained unchanged.

The Age revealed in January that the Government had received expert advice that its model would do little to encourage people to install solar energy. Consultants McLennan Magasanik Associates found that only a gross feed-in tariff - which paid a premium for all solar electricity - would significantly boost the industry.

Energy Minister Peter Batchelor dismissed the advice. He said the consultants had not modelled the exact details of the Government's scheme. The Greens yesterday tried to change the scheme to the more generous model, but the Government and Opposition voted the proposal down. Greens MP Greg Barber said it was a missed opportunity. "Multi-billions of dollars in subsidies have been thrown at the coal industry, but the Government is balking at.., a small solar program," he said.

Opposition energy spokesman Robert Clark said it had sought, and won, a compromise that was constructive and responsible. Mr Batchelor said it was the "fairest and best" solar scheme in the country. He said increasing the size included from 3.2 kWs to 5 kWs meant it would cover 99% of solar systems.

Energy use forces up emissions

Age
Friday 26/6/2009 Page: 9

ENERGY generation in Australia increased by 15% in the past six years - indicating that domestic greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. The Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday reported that the largest increases were in natural gas, black coal and uranium - a reflection of the buoyant resources sector. About 61% of all energy generated between 2001-02 and 2006-07 was exported.

Under one key measure, energy intensity, the mining sector's greenhouse performance has deteriorated over the past 30 years. It now uses far more energy for every extra dollar of economic activity than it did in the late 1970s, largely due to a shift towards more open-cut mining. The agriculture industry is also more energy intensive than it was three decades ago. Domestically, the largest users of energy were manufacturing (36% ) and electricity supply (31% ).

Authority warned on windfarm overload

Adelaide Advertiser
Friday 26/6/2009 Page: 3

SOUTH Australia must be careful about becoming too reliant on wind energy, the Essential Services Commission has warned. SA was already second only to Denmark in the proportion of electricity generated by wind, the commission said. By the end of next year capacity would exceed 1000MW - equivalent to nearly a third of peak demand. "The Commission remains concerned with the long-term safety and reliability of the electricity system in SA," it says in a paper setting out a draft decision on licensing windfarms.

Commission chairman Pat Walsh said the problem was manageable but SA had to impose tougher licensing conditions than applied in other states. "Wind generators are intermittent - output rises and falls depending on whether the wind is blowing," he said. "If you've got a large proportion of that type of generation in your overall system, that can have unintended consequences on security and reliability, unless precautions are taken."

The commission said SA had the highest installed capacity of wind generation and wind energy made a bigger contribution to meeting electricity demand in SA than in any other state. "(Therefore) the Commission considers a measured and cautious approach to licensing wind generators remains warranted," it said. This was why the commission had made a draft decision imposing a tougher licensing regime in SA, Mr Walsh said.

Licence conditions included technical standards so SA windfarms would be more robust and better able to withstand problems such as a spike or sudden drop-out in the system - called "fault ride through". Mr Walsh said while capacity was high, windfarms generally only delivered about a third of that on average over a year and could only be relied on for about 10% of their capacity to meet peak demand.

There was already 739MW of capacity and another 128MW under construction. Licence applications for a further 193MW were being considered - taking the total to more than 1000MW. This compares with the summer peak demand for electricity in SA in 2007-08 of 3172MW and in 2008-09 of 3450MW. The commission says it is possible capacity would increase to 2400MW or 2700MW by 2020.