Friday, 18 September 2009

Recognised sustainable projects leader

Canberra Times
Monday 14/9/2009 Page: 16

Windlab Systems is a growing Canberra business that prospects for and develops wind energy sites in Canada, USA, South Africa and Australia. The company was commercialised from the Black Mountain campus of CSIRO in 2003. For CSIRO, it was the first in a new model of commercialisation in which CSIRO-developed technology was teamed up with private capital.

Windlab Systems has since grown to have offices worldwide but retains a strong presence in Canberra with its Technical Services and R&D divisions based here. "Being in Canberra we've been able to recruit a number of talented graduates and scientists from the local universities and that has really helped Windlab Systems growth story," Dr Nathan Steggel, head of the local office, said.

A computer cluster based in their Barton office works day and night performing atmospheric calculations. The results of this modelling are wind maps that the company uses to locate viable wind sites all over the world. Teams in the local offices then undertake the stakeholder consultations and approvals necessary to build a renewable energy project.

The company recently announced that Lend Lease Ventures (the venture arm of Lend Lease) has taken a strategic stake in the firm, giving it the necessary financial strength to move its portfolio forward.

"Lend Lease is a recognised leader in sustainable buildings and urban regeneration projects and to have secured their support is a terrific endorsement of the progress we have made as well as an acknowledgement of the importance of our unique technology to the renewable energy sector," Windlab Systems chief executive Mark Sinclair said.

Although the company has consulted on many wind farms, their own developments are just starting to reach fruition. Windlab Systems initiated the Oaklands Hill Windfarm project in western Victoria in 2004, and their project partners AGL Energy recently announced that construction will commence soon.

Windlab Systems has ambitions of a public float in 2011.

Green groups aim at revitalising our homes

Age
Thursday 17/9/2009 Page: 4

ENVIRONMENTAL groups are looking beyond the carbon trading stoush to call for the next round of climate reform: cutting the 17.5% of greenhouse gas emissions that cone from homes. Emissions from houses are not directly dealt with by the two main federal climate planks - an emissions trading scheme and a renewable energy target.

A report to be launched today by five green and clean energy groups will call on governments to follow Britain's lead by introducing regulations to make all new hones emissions free by 2020. Proposals include minimum seven-star energy efficiency and 40% water efficiency for new homes by next year. Federal and state governments this year agreed to introduce minimum six-star ratings for new hones.

Australian Conservation Foundation spokeswoman Monica Richter said that, along with existing rebate programs, it was a good start, but not enough to deal with the poor current housing stock. "We really need to ensure that our homes that are going to be around for the next 50 years are comfortable and sustainable to live in," she said.

The report, also by Friends of the Earth, the Alternative Technology Association and the Moreland Energy Foundation, found emissions from the average home could be cut by more than 75% through improving efficiency of design and appliances.

Recommendations include the setting of minimum standards at the point of sale or lease and the banning of electric storage hot water installations. Environment Victoria campaigns director Mark Wakeham said new homes needed to be able to withstand what was ahead. "That is going to be some extreme weather conditions and the need to urgently slash emissions," he said.

Doctors Ken and Jenny Harvey recently upgraded their Hawthorn hone office to 6.5 stars. It includes double-glazing windows, 12 roof-top solar panels, solar hot water, insulation, a grey water system, three water tanks and blinds and sails to block out direct sun. The am was to be sustainable and reduce water and power bills.

Efficiency ratings are based on the amount of energy used per sqm. The average house has a rating of little more than two stars. Victoria was the first state to sign up to five stars for new homes in 2005. Details of the national six-star agreement are still to come. In June, Environment Minister Gavin Jennings gave $6 million towards Australia's first zero emissions communities, starting with Armstrong Creek, Geelong.

Nelson doctors cost of carbon trading reality

Herald Sun
Thursday 17/9/2009 Page: 63

GET on your bike once and for all Brendan and, while you're at it, prescribe yourself a dose of reality. The former Opposition Leader's parting shots about environmental policy as he exited Parliament yesterday hinged on such misinformation about the economic effects of a carbon price it was embarrassing. In his valedictory speech Dr Nelson said: "The interests of everyday Australians who want action on climate change, but are ignorant of the costs to be imposed on them by we who do must be placed ahead of political advantage by both sides of politics."

How utterly patronising. How utterly ignorant. Dr Nelson's perpetuation of the myth that a price on carbon is going to hurt business is unbelievable. He clearly has been very selective in his choice of sources, as have so many of the climate sceptics who rely on assumptions to model scenarios that provide hypothetical conclusions which may or may not be valid. Who knows?

Fortunately, there are analyses of how carbon prices affect business which are based on empirical evidence rather than guesswork. That's right, findings which depend on experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory, as the dictionary definition goes. As a doctor of medicine, Dr Nelson should know the value of empirical studies better than most.

Today, such a study is being released by The Climate Group. The group was commissioned by the respected German Marshall Fund of the US to do a survey of key businesses that have operated within the European Union Emissions Trading System since 2005. The objective of the study was to "inform the US congressional debate around the effects of a cap-and-trade system on business competitiveness".

In a nutshell, the conclusion is that European climate legislation has had a barely perceptible impact on balance sheets. Lobbyists for climate sceptic businesses, the Lavoisier Group, the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network and all others aligned with the greenhouse mafia who argue that our economy cannot afford a carbon price because it would destroy our competitiveness, have been made to look quite ridiculous following The Climate Group's analysis.

Included in the nine companies surveyed for the study that were happy to be named were Centrica, a major British-based utility, US healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson, British retailer Tesco and French cement producer Lafarge. Those who chose anonymity were a British glass manufacturer, a German engineering firm, a global steelmaker, a global aluminium company and a global financial services firm. With the exception of the glass maker, all are part of Fortune's Global 500 ranking of the world's biggest companies for 2009.

Representative of their respective sectors, they were selected on the basis that they were the biggest emitters whose products and services faced potential competition between $15 and $40. The selected companies have not had to pay for every tonne they have emitted, having gained free permits to cover some of their emissions, just like Australian industries are being offered.

They were asked by The Climate Group if the ETS had resulted in significant costs to business to date, especially when compared with the impact of other factors such as energy price fluctuations and the economic downturn. Analysis of the responses showed none of the companies were able to quantify any negative impact on their bottom lines. They have not relocated their operations, reduced their workforce or lost market share as a result of carbon pricing. They admitted that their concerns about loss of competitiveness have to date been unfulfilled.

Our economy can consider itself lucky that Dr Nelson's political aspirations have also remained unfulfilled.

The full report is available at http://www.theclimategroup.org

ogalacho@heraldsun.com.au

Ausra Plans Two Projects in Australia, One in Middle East

www.greentechmedia.com
September 15, 2009

The solar thermal equipment maker, which shifted its business model over the past year, plans to announce solar thermal projects in the next few months. Ausra plans to announce projects to build solar thermal plants in Australia, the Middle East and the United States by the end of the year, said CEO Bob Fishman Tuesday.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company, which shifted its business model from being a power producer to a steam generation plant builder, has deals to build plants in Queensland and New South Wales in Australia, Fishman said on the sideline at the AlwaysOn's GoingGreen conference in Sausalito, Calif.

Fishman declined to provide details of the new projects in Australia or elsewhere. One of projects in Australia could be a deal to sell its solar thermal equipment to a coalmine operator. Ausra has already built a steam generation plant to help run the turbines at a 2-GW coal-fired power plant in Liddell, Australia. The company also has a contract to build a 100-MW "solar-fossil fuel" project in the Middle East, he added Ausra is even talking to a potential customer in Chile, though the discussion is still in the early stage, Fishman said.

The company initially set out to be a power producer by owning power plants and selling electricity from them to utilities. The plant would use flat mirrors to concentrate and direct the sunlight onto water-filled tubes to heat up the fluid to generate steam, which would then be piped to a turbine for electricity generation.

After signing some contracts and trying to raise money to carry out the projects, Ausra realised that, as a startup, it didn't have the muscles to line up financing, secure permits and build and own power plants. In January this year, the company formally announced it would ditch that strategy and focus on using its equipment to build steam generation facilities (see Inside Ausra's Big Change).

This approach opens up a wide range of customers, from oil companies to food processors, as well as power producers, who could use the steam to run the turbines during the day when the sun shines and switch to natural gas when it's not. It is easier for industrial customers to secure permits and lineup financing for building projects because the projects tend to be smaller than stand-alone power plants, Fishman said. A power plant typically runs in the hundreds of MWs. "You don't need a turbine. You just need to build a solar field," Fishman said.

Since announcing the change in business model, Ausra has said very little about its pending projects. Meanwhile, its competitors are pursuing opportunities other than building and owning stand-alone power plants. Spain-based Abengoa Solar, for example, has built a 2.4-MW steam production plant with its solar thermal technology to make potato and corn chips at a Frito-Lay factory in Modesto, Calif.

Another solar thermal company, BrightSource Energy, is building a 29-MW solar steam plant in central California for Chevron, which would use the steam for loosening up petroleum underground to make it easier to recover.

Oakland, Calif.-based BrightSource Energy hasn't abandoned its plan to be a power plant developer. It plans to build 2.6 GWs of power projects in order to fulfill its power delivery contracts with the Pacific Gas and Electric Co, and Southern California Edison.

Fishman said previously that the company would still be interested in developing power plants down the road. The company began operating a 5-MW power plant last year to sell power to PG&E. It also has another power sales contract with PG&E that will require it to build a 177-MWs power plant.

Nuclear power needed if green options fail

Adelaide Advertiser
Thursday 17/9/2009 Page: 4

SOUTH Australia would need to rely on nuclear energy to meet its ambitious green energy target if predicted problems with solar, wind and geothermal alternatives come to pass, a report handed to the Government has found. The Government released its 33% green power target in the State Budget.

However, an independent report by consultants McLennan Magasanik Associates, commissioned to set the target, shows nuclear energy would be "likely" if geothermal could not deliver its promises, wind reached its limits, and solar stations proved too remote to be cost effective. "The adoption of nuclear energy as a solution seems a low-probability scenario that is only likely if geothermal power does not live up to its promise, wind energy reaches its limits and solar thermal power is constrained," the report states.

Geothermal Energy Association chief executive Susan Jeanes said the public should be aware that nuclear energy was an option for future electricity if the development of geothermal continued to be disadvantaged in Federal Government development funding. The State Government has rejected nuclear energy as not economically viable. However, the Liberal Party's annual convention last month voted in support of a debate on the topic.

And without increased interstate electricity connectors driven by geothermal or nuclear energy, a renewable target of only 30% would be reachable, the McLennan Magasanik Associates report has found. University of Adelaide climate change expert Professor Barry Brook said the report, given to the Department of Premier and Cabinet, made it clear nuclear energy would be necessary because wind, solar and geothermal energy would not live up to expectations in future decades.

"The opinion is significant because it reveals a high degree of uncertainty about energy planning and unless we look critically at that we don't know what are the best options," he said. He said his research suggested that the predicted problems with wind, solar and geothermal were "more likely than not to occur". "It is a dangerous and short-sighted strategy to plan ahead without having in mind nuclear energy as an alternative," he said.

Monster turbines gear up to harness Fundy tidal power - Fishermen wary as three firms get government nod for pilot projects

www.theglobeandmail.com
Sep. 16, 2009

The first of three turbines is expected to go into the Bay of Fundy next month in spite of concerns raised by some local fishermen after the government approved the initial phase of a tidal power energy project. Nova Scotia's Minister of the Environment, a long-time fisherman himself, acknowledged those concerns and acknowledged that the possible effects are unknown. But Sterling Belliveau said the only way to identify problems is to start installing turbines and closely monitor the result.

"These questions are only going to be addressed [if] you have a demonstration project," he said yesterday after approving the trial based on an environmental assessment. "I think you basically cannot sit in a conference room and get the answer to that, you have to go out in the real life, in the real world." A full-scale tidal power energy project, if viable, would involve hundreds of turbines and could produce about 100 MWs from the bay's huge tides. That would be 10 per cent of the province's energy needs, but such a system is years away.

The demonstration phase of the project, involving three turbines, is expected to cost $60-million to $70-million. Each of the three companies involved - which will co-operate on environmental monitoring and onshore development - intends to test a different type of turbine.

Minas Basin Pulp and Power will suspend its equipment between the bottom and the surface. The turbine will float until the best current is found and then be fixed to the bottom with anchors. Company vice-president John Woods said yesterday that his firm aims to have the turbine operational this time next year. The president of Clean Current, a British Columbia company, would not comment yesterday on the project. Earlier information from the company suggested it would use a turbine designed to rest on the seabed.

The model chosen by Nova Scotia Power is similar. About six storeys high, with a turbine 10 metres across, it will use gravity to stay still underwater. This design is expected to be in place first, with the turbine going into the water late next month. It will not initially feed power into the grid. "It's really a big science experiment," said David Rodenhiser, a spokesman for the utility.

He said more than 200 turbines could follow, but that the company must assess the first one's effect on its surroundings, and how well it stands up to the environment it is placed in. The unknowns are what worry some fisherman. Lobsterman Mark Taylor, president of the Heavy Current Fishing Association of Hall's Harbour, not far from the proposed sites, has expressed concerns about the effects on local catches. "Two hundred machines in that area could mean that fishery is lost to us," he said earlier this year.

Mr. Belliveau stressed that, under the terms of the environmental assessment approval, the companies must establish a monitoring body that includes stakeholders and keep close watch on the effects of the project. "There's a number of questions, anywhere from salmon to plankton to herring and migrating whales, all [these] questions will be addressed," Mr. Belliveau said, emphasising that he would revoke the project's approval if significant environmental damage is found.

"I have the authority to stop [it] as simply as walking over and turning off that light switch," he said. "And I would not hesitate if the science and adverse effects was there. I know that body of water and I understand the importance of getting this right."

China's LNG hunger grows

Age
Thursday 17/9/2009 Page: 3

CHINESE demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) is likely to continue as the world energy market shifts away from coal, according to a new report.

David Whittall, global equities manager with Security Global Investors and author of the report, Global Energy - the Rapidly Changing Landscape, to be released today, told Business-Day that countries would shift from simply looking to satisfy their energy needs to seeking to balance their portfolio with the use of alternative energy sources.

"In the first analysis, we try and assess how much energy China will require and will we have more LNG than is necessary?" he said. "You have to ask as well what quality of life do people want in China. Do they want to wear face masks forever and not be able to breathe their own air? I don't think so. "So gas is going to be used more and more beyond peak load service. It is almost incalculable the ultimate demand for LNG. These decisions have to be made not just in China but across the region."

The market capitalisation of the energy sector is $3.6 trillion, second behind the finance sector. Mr Whittall said energy markets were shifting and countries such as Australia were starting to demand respect in terns of production. "We have seen Russia surpass Saudi Arabia as the biggest oil producer in the world," he said. "Mexico has experienced a huge decline, Indonesia has experienced a decline, Norway is in decline, the UK is in decline. Australia is one of the up and coming countries, with LNG being a big theme here."

Mr Whittall said demand for drilling rigs was beginning to stabilise, with lots of players engaged in exploration and production. He said integrated oil companies, such as Exxon-Mobil, BP and Petrobras, which account for 57% of the total market capitalisation of the world energy sector, would start looking to swallow up smaller exploration and production companies as the market recovered.

New Ocean Energy Investment from Carbon Trust

www.renewableenergyworld.com
September 16, 2009

The Carbon Trust is to provide financial support for two marine energy devices through its Marine Energy Accelerator scheme.

Technology firms Pelamis Wave Power and Marine Current Turbines will pursue projects focusing on installation and maintenance, which currently account for up to 50% of project costs for wave and tidal power energy and could delay more widespread deployment if not reduced.

The Carbon Trust is providing £250,000 [US $375,000] for Pelamis Wave Power, which are investigating a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that will assist with manoeuvring the company's 180 metre long machines into position. They will also integrate remote control technology into existing systems which will enable deployment in rougher seas. These developments promise to significantly reduce vessel and equipment requirements and make installation and maintenance quicker, cheaper and safer, thereby reducing the overall cost of the energy generated.

Alongside work with Pelamis Wave Power, the Carbon Trust is providing a further £150,000 [US $225,000] for a feasibility study with Marine Current Turbines to develop an innovative way to deploy its SeaGen tidal power energy system. The new method will involve a remotely operated subsea drilling platform which will install foundation piles in advance of the main turbine support structure being deployed in a single unit. This would enable smaller and less expensive support vessels to be used for the offshore works, reducing the costs of turbine installation.

The MCT technology is likely to be tested in a disused quarry, and if it performs as expected will be used in SeaGen's next deployment off Anglesey where the company is working with RWE npower renewables to deploy a 10 MW tidal power farm, using seven SeaGens. Beth Dickens of Pelamis Wave Power said: "This project will allow more machines to be installed more often and more cheaply as we will not be as reliant on good weather conditions and specialist boats for the operation."

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Schwarzenegger orders more renewable energy -- his way

www.latimes.com
September 16, 2009

The governor says California electric utilities must get 33% of their power from renewable sources by 2020, but he plans to veto Democratic bills that push to produce it in state. The state's electric utilities will be required to get at least a third of their power from wind, solar and other renewable resources by 2020, under an executive order signed Tuesday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. "With this action, we will ensure that California remains the pioneer in clean energy and clean jobs," the governor said in issuing the order.

But his call for California to set the nation's toughest renewable energy standard didn't generate much enthusiasm from Democratic lawmakers and environmentalist activists, who have laboured for the last nine months to pass a pair of bills that they contended would boost the development of new "green" industries in the Golden State. Schwarzenegger said Tuesday that he would veto the Democratic bills, which were backed by some but not all of the state's utilities.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Pacific Gas and Electric Co, and Sempra Energy supported the bills, while Southern California Edison Co, and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District asked the governor for vetoes. The bills also drew support from labor unions and consumer advocates and opposition from manufacturers and independent energy-generating companies.

The two sides did not disagree about the need or the practicality of setting an ambitious 33% renewable energy target. Indeed, they concur that increasing consumption of renewable fuels would improve air quality, combat global warming and lessen dependence on foreign oil. Instead, the conflict was over what California should do to reach the goal and the cost of making it happen.

Schwarzenegger contended that the bills, approved early Saturday in the last hours of the legislative session and marked for vetoes, would unfairly discriminate against alternative power produced in other Western states. The legislation also would make it difficult, he argued, for electric utilities to get all the renewable power they need, when they want it. Opponents also said the bills would make electricity too expensive for residential, commercial and industrial ratepayers.

The governor objected particularly to a provision that would limit utilities from using credits purchased from out-of-state wind and solar projects to cover more than 30% of their renewable obligations. The proposed limit, labor unions and ratepayer advocates insist, is needed to ensure that the bulk of renewable projects are built and operated in California, providing high-paying jobs.

Instead of signing the bills into law, the governor - - for the second time in less than a year - - hosted a media event at a Sacramento solar energy facility to issue an executive order. Tuesday's decree ordered state pollution regulators to begin the complex process of drafting rules to more than triple the state's reliance on alternative power over the next decade. Executives from non-utility energy companies surrounded the governor at the sun-baked signing ceremony. Environmental advocates, who had been invited to attend, opted to stay away.

The proposed regulations are legally authorised under AB 32, California's landmark 2006 global warming law, said Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board. The regulations should be ready by the middle of next summer if sufficient staff and funding are available, she said. In the meantime, Democrats have raised questions about whether the rules would have the same binding legal effect as a law approved by the Legislature.

"An executive order does not have force of law," said Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), the author of SB 14, one of the two renewable energy bills marked for veto. An executive order and regulations could be challenged in court or overturned by Schwarzenegger's successor, Simitian added. Current law requires investor-owned utilities such as Edison to produce 20% of their power from wind, solar and geothermal energy by 2010, a target they are expected to miss.

Environmentalists, who had hailed passage of the Simitian bill and the related measure, AB 64 by Assemblyman Paul Krekorian (D-Burbank), urged Schwarzenegger to reconsider his veto plans. But even if that doesn't happen, they pledged to work with the governor to make sure the goal of 33% renewable energy is reached. "Ultimately," said Bernadette Del Chiaro of the advocacy group Environment California, "California's leaders will have to work together to accomplish this goal to help solve global warming and put America on a path to a clean-energy future."

`Green loan' scheme derailed as applicants wait and assessors go unpaid

Sydney Morning Herald
Wednesday 16/9/2009 Page: 2

THE Federal Government's $175 million "green loans" scheme is in disarray, with thousands of people waiting for their loans to be approved and many staff awaiting payment. The program is supposed to supply low-interest loans to households so they can reduce energy use and install solar panels and efficient lighting.

But staff employed as green loans assessors, contracted by the Government to make reports on individual households, said the software problems with carbon emissions calculators had derailed the scheme. Some householders had lost money waiting for loans to be approved. A flood of complaints from customers are laid out in an online forum for green loans assessors, some of whom said they were frustrated at the lack of government support.

"We don't want to harm the program; this is our living," one green loans assessor told the Herald. "We really believe in the program, we want this to succeed and we want to work with the Government to make it happen, but it just seems that the lines of communication are permanently shut off." Many staff say they are still waiting for their payments, because their contracts say they must approve household carbon assessments before they get paid.

The Greens senator Christine Milne, who questioned the Government about the scheme in the Senate yesterday, said it was becoming a shambles. "This important program has to be urgently fixed so that Australian householders can access green loans and small businesses can get off the ground." A spokesman for the Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, said applications for green loans had begun, and 10,000 assessments had been conducted on households.

Rich countries to foot climate change bill - 'Report calculates $550bn a year

Age
Wednesday 16/9/2009 Page: 3

RICH countries will have to spend about $550 billion a year to help developing countries tackle climate change, the World Bank has estimated before crucial international talks next week.

In a major report, the global financial organisation finds the developed world, including Australia, will have to increase significantly its climate aid to meet the figure - now just $10 billion annually - to keep global temperature rises to just 2 degrees. The World Development Report 2010 also outlines significant damage to developing countries from climate change, with up to 80% of all costs associated with global warming borne by poorer countries.

Global climate financing for poor countries has become a political issue in Australia this week, with Nationals senator Ron Boswell questioning whether taxpayers wanted to pay the costs associated with climate change in developing countries. He said: "It is a wake-up call for taxpayers in developed countries like Australia who will be asked to pay the bill."

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, who flies out today to a sleeting of climate change ministers in Washington, said financing would be a crucial part of reaching an ambitious global agreement on climate change. Developing countries, including China and India, are refusing to curb carbon emissions unless financing is provided.

Oxfam Australia executive director Andrew Hewett said the world had an obligation to help poorer nations prepare for climate change because they were the least responsible but the most affected. An Oxfam report yesterday also warned against the diversion of existing aid dollars into climate change programs. It found that if $US50 billion ($A58 billion) a year was drawn from existing aid dollars, crucial AIDS, education and health programs would be depleted, resulting in the deaths of millions more children a year.

The Australian Government has yet to nominate its preferred figure for international financing, but wants decisions on the size and management of a global fund to be made at the G20 heads of states meeting to be attended by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd next week.

The Government will also present a report - written with input from Indonesia and South Africa - which is expected to argue that private funds from carbon markets should comprise a substantial part of the financing effort, above direct government funding and aid programs.

Climate Institute Australia chief executive John Connor said that a meeting of G20 finance ministers, attended by Treasurer Wayne Swan earlier this month, was supposed to begin discussing financing mechanisms but had been a bust. He said that was in part because developing countries were questioning whether the G20, as opposed to the UN, was the right place to develop a financing position. Mr Swan wrote in The Wall Street Journal earlier this month the G20 was uniquely placed to create momentum on the issue.

"We can build momentum for the upcoming Copenhagen meeting by showing that we have a common understanding of the need to boost public funding to support adaptation and mitigation action in developing countries, both by facilitating private financing through international carbon markets and by providing additional public funding," he wrote.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Hawaii Tries Green Tools in Remaking Power Grids

www.nytimes.com
September 14, 2009

NAALEHU, Hawaii — Two miles or so from this tiny town in the southernmost corner of the United States, across ranches where cattle herds graze beneath the distant Mauna Loa volcano, the giant turbines of a new windfarm cut through the air. Sixty miles to the northeast, near a spot where golden-red lava streams meet the sea in clouds of steam, a small power plant extracts heat from the volcanic rock beneath it to generate electricity.

These projects are just a slice of the energy experiment unfolding across Hawaii's six main islands. With the most diverse array of alternative energy potential of any state in the nation, Hawaii has set out to become a living laboratory for the rest of the country, hoping it can slash its dependence on fossil fuels while keeping the lights on.

Every island has at least one energy accent: waves in Maui, wind in Lanai and Molokai, solar panels in Oahu and eventually, if all goes well, biomass energy from crops grown on Kauai. Here on the Big Island of Hawaii, seawater is also being converted to electricity.

Still, the state faces enormous challenges in delivering the power to the people who need it. While the urban sprawl around Honolulu consumes the bulk of the energy, most potential renewable sources are far from the city, 150 miles southeast or 100 miles to the northwest.

Each of the state's six electric grids belongs to its own island and is unconnected to the others. And according to state figures, Hawaii still relies on imported oil to generate 77% of its electricity, a level of dependency unique in the United States. Coal-fired power provides 14%, and 9% comes from renewable sources like the wind or the sun. Hawaii's governor, Linda Lingle, a Republican, has resolved to throw off the yoke of oil dependence and harness the state's potential.

Under an agreement reached last year with the federal government and the dominant local utility, the Hawaiian Electric Company, Hawaii plans to generate 40% of its power from renewable sources by 2030. The state's six grids will be connected by cables, and planners hope that conservation steps like reducing the air-conditioning load at high-rise hotels will cut Hawaii's energy consumption by nearly a third.

"The goals are very, very aggressive," said Debra Lew, a senior project leader for the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Three decades ago, Hawaii mapped out a similar vision, if in less detail, that came to nothing. But this time, planners say, failure is not an option. "We don't have anywhere else to go," said Ted Peck, the point man for the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, overseen by the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Even if the state were indifferent to the environmental costs of burning oil and gas, including carbon-dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming, it would have to embrace renewable energy sources, said Robert Alm, a vice president of the Hawaiian Electric Company. "Our hedge won't be buying oil futures, it will be buying wind," Mr. Alm said.

Heavy reliance on imported oil has proved economically perilous. When oil prices hit $147 a barrel a year ago, electricity rates approached or briefly exceeded 50 cents per kW hour on Maui and Kauai, about five times the national average. The spike in prices lent urgency to the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which Governor Lingle unveiled in January 2008. The technical and political obstacles have since become clearer. Hopscotching around this brightly coloured archipelago by plane, a visitor gets a vivid sense of Hawaii's essentially rural nature and the scope of the challenge.

The biggest priority is laying undersea cables between the outer islands and Oahu. Once those connections are made — first with cables stretching from Molokai and Lanai, the islands nearest Oahu — the capital will get power through them. Then there is the daunting challenge of feeding fluctuating wind and solar energy into the small electric grids on the individual islands while devising backup systems to keep the energy output smooth and reliable.

On Maui, for instance, General Electric is working on ways to modulate demand and store energy for later use either in electric batteries or by pump storage — filling an elevated reservoir in low-demand periods to produce hydropower when needed. "The whole trick is making the system work in the right way, like conducting an orchestra," said Bob Gilligan, G.E.'s vice president for transmission and distribution.

On the financial side, the state must attract developers with enough financing to help underwrite their own wind, solar, wave or other renewable projects, carry out the required environmental reviews and secure local approval. Addressing local concerns can be especially challenging. As in any state with a rural-urban divide, residents of Hawaii's less populous outlying areas are wary about being pushed around by planners in Honolulu.

The outer islands have higher concentrations of Native Hawaiians who are well versed in a local history of exploitation, from the American overthrow of their monarch in 1893 to environmental costs of sugar plantations and tourism.

Some have formed groups like the Pele Defense Fund, which sprang up here in the 1980s to protect religious gathering rights in the rain forest on the Big Island. The fund seeks to prevent desecration of Pele, the native goddess of fire and volcanoes, and finds geothermal energy projects sacrilegious.

One avenue for developers, utilities and state officials is to offer outlying communities support or financing for needs that the local population identifies, like fish conservation. "We're asking the small islands to be significantly burdened on behalf of Oahu, so Oahu needs to do well by them," said Mr. Alm, the utility's vice president.

For all the optimism, planners studiously remind themselves of the detritus of past failures, like the dismembered and rusting wind turbines of a defunct windfarm near the southern end of the Big Island. "This transformation is going to take a generation," said Ted Liu, director of the state economic development department. "There are no short-term easy solutions."

Business raises compo claim

Australian
Tuesday 15/9/2009 Page: 1

BIG business is demanding extra compensation under the Rudd government's carbon pollution reduction scheme, but has rejected Malcolm Turnbull's "hybrid" alternative, in a final effort to bridge the gap between the parties and get an amended scheme through parliament this year.

The Australian has obtained letters written by the Business Council of Australia to both major parties yesterday outlining significant amendments to increase and prolong the compensation for energy intensive industries in the legislation, which could become a double-dissolution trigger if rejected for a second time by the Senate in November.

The demands came as the government's climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, warned yesterday against more industry compensation under the "arbitrary" carbon reduction system devised by the government against his advice saying it had led to "ugly money politics" and unnecessary budgetary costs. Professor Garnaut said demands for more compensation for electricity generators to make up for lost asset value because of the carbon price was an "abominable" policy idea.

The BCA was part of the industry-green alliance that gave provisional backing to Kevin Rudd's revised and delayed ETS, unveiled in May, but it is now demanding higher compensation for emission intensive industries, guaranteed for at least 13 years after the start of the scheme. The demands, the result of extensive internal discussion in the business group, come despite the fact that senior government sources have indicated they believe there is limited room for amendments.

However, the BCA has rejected the centrepiece of the Opposition Leader's proposed "greener, cheaper, smarter" hybrid emissions trading scheme the Frontier Economics' proposal for a different treatment of the electricity industry saying it does not solve industry's problems. We sat down with Frontier Economics, but quite frankly you still end up with the same problems," BCA president Greig Gailey said.

Opposition emissions trading spokesman Andrew Robb is consulting with industry before finalising amendments to be put to the deeply divided opposition party room, but the BCA's rejection of the Frontier model undercuts the Coalition's assertion that its proposal presents a cheaper alternative for households and businesses. Mr Gailey said business hoped an amended CPRS could pass the Senate as soon as possible, with bipartisan support.

"We want the two parties to put their heads together. This is such a fundamental economic change, it is critical it has the support of both major parties," he said. "Our concern about a double dissolution election is that it means we would not have bipartisan support and that after the election the government is unlikely to be inclined to accept what we consider to be necessary amendments.., a lot depends now on the Coalition and the view they come to about what they are able to support. We hope they come to the view that they can support amended legislation."

Mr Gailey said a double-dissolution election fought on the issue would be a bad result for business. "Our concern about a double dissolution election is that it means we would not have bipartisan support and that after the election the government would be unlikely to be in the mood to accept what we consider to be necessary amendments.., a lot depends now on the Coalition and the view they come to about what they are able to support," he said. "We hope they come to the view that they can support amended legislation."

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said she would consider the BCA's proposals, but welcomed the fact that "business wants us to get moving, so that investors have certainty". Mr Robb said the BCA concerns "confirmed that the CPRS in its current form is far from being right". In the letters, the BCA said the compensation proposed by the government for emission-intensive industries and generators $5.8 billion over the first two years of the scheme should be increased further and left in place for longer.

It says the compensation scheme should operate until "at least 2020" and be varied after that date on an activity by activity basis and with five years' notice". It proposes that compensation be removed only when 80% of a particular industry's trade competitors also face a similar carbon price, even if those competitors are in developing nations a far tougher hurdle than proposed in the government's arrangements. The BCA also wants the so-called "decay rate", which erodes assistance by 1.3% a year to force industry to become more energy-efficient, abolished after five years.

The Rudd government has promised to reduce Australia's emissions by 5% by 2020 no matter what, but has said it could lift that goal to 15% depending on the ambition of any global deal struck at the UN conference in Copenhagen in December, and to 25%, if approved by a special expert review. Those targets and conditions have received bipartisan support from the opposition. But the BCA is now demanding a public review of any promise to take Australia's target above 5%.

Speaking before a speech in Canberra last night to mark the anniversary of the delivery of his climate change report, Professor Garnaut said many of his recommendations had been accepted, but he railed against the government's rejection of his proposed principles for offering industry assistance. He said the absence of principle had led to "arbitrary distribution.., and to the ugliest 'money politics' we have seen for a generation". He said more compensation for industries such as coal mining "within the current arbitrary mechanism.., would make the system more costly to the Australian economy".

"Once we have committed to targets, the main question is how costly it would be to reach those targets and for those who support handing out more permits to the coal generators, are they actually in favour of bigger budget deficits or lower expenditure on other things by government.., they have to answer where is the money coming from," Professor Garnaut said. And he said the idea of compensating electricity generators for asset value loss was an "abominable innovation in Australian public policy". "If we had worked other reforms on that principle we would not have had reform.., it is not a valid basis for making payments to someone affected by a change in economic policy or an economic reform." he said.

IFC suspends funding for palm oil sector after critical review

www.bioenergy-business.com
09 September, 2009

The World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) has stopped investing in palm oil projects pending the development of a new strategy to address environmental and social practices associated with the material. The IFC will conduct a six-month review of its involvement in the sector, which produces oil that is used as a biodiesel raw material and in many food and other sectors. The IFC will also review the environmental and social performance of all its existing investments in palm oil, said the World Bank president, Robert Zoellick.

Some countries and companies have in the past rejected the use of palm oil for biodiesel and other uses because of concerns about sustainability and associated social impacts. Zoellick announced the World Bank move in a letter to a group of environmental and other campaigning organisations, which had raised concerns about IFC investments in the Singapore-based company Wilmar and Indonesia's palm oil sector. Indonesia and Malaysia are believed to account for about four-fifths of global production of palm oil.

The Forest Peoples Programme, Save Our Borneo and the other complainants had claimed that the IFC's funding of Wilmar had violated its own procedures "and commercial concerns had been allowed to override the IFC's environmental and social standards". An audit by the IFC's independent Compliance Adviser/Ombudsman agreed: "IFC did not meet the intent or requirements of its own performance standards for its assessment of the Wilmar trade facility investment.

"Incorrect assumptions were made about the impact of certain types of financial products (trade facilities) without proper consideration of the sector and country context of the investment. As for the Wilmar refinery investment, IFC failed to assess the supply chain plantations or other companies and suppliers linked through the Wilmar Group, as required by its performance standards." Zoellick said that the IFC will make no further investments in the palm oil sector until a new strategy is in place. The IFC would also work with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, although Zoellick said that IFC's own performance standards would still be applied.

Other measures include: development of an advisory services programme; a revision of IFC's environmental and social review procedure to ensure that the categorisation of single-commodity, single-company investments in environmentally and socially sensitive sectors is based on potential impacts; and the strengthening of the existing prohibition against clearing critical habitat. Zoellick said that he did not believe that IFC staff had committed systematic policy violations in the case of Wilmar, but added: "Nonetheless, it is clear that we must have higher levels of due diligence and clearer guidance to staff."

EU reveals financing proposal for Copenhagen summit

www.environmental-finance.com
10 September

The EU is willing to pay an annual contribution of up to €15 billion ($22 billion) by 2020 to help developing countries fight climate change, according to a European Commission proposal. The paper published today states that by 2020, developing countries will need around €100 billion a year for climate change adaptation and mitigation measures. Much of the funding will come from domestic sources and an expanded international carbon market, said the Commission.

It estimated that an international carbon market could raise up to €38 billion a year for developing countries by 2020 if developed countries accept a 30% emission reduction target and advanced developing countries introduce a sectoral crediting mechanism, rather than the Clean Development Mechanism, for rewarding projects that reduce emissions.

In addition, international public financing of €22-50 billion a year will be needed, said the Commission. It proposed that industrialised nations and "economically more advanced developing countries" should contribute in line with their responsibility for emissions and ability to pay. This would mean an EU contribution of €2-15 billion a year by 2020 – or up to 30% of the global total.

The paper also called for €5-7 billion in public money a year between 2010 and 2012 to help developing countries tackle urgent climate change adaptation and for creating the necessary institutions and infrastructure. The EU would contribute €500 million-2.1 billion a year. The proposal forms part of the bloc's negotiating position for international talks on a post-2012 climate deal, intended to be agreed in Copenhagen this December. A lack of progress on financial support for developing countries has so far stalled the talks.

Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said: "The sums involved are potentially significant, both ambitious and fair. I am determined that Europe will continue to provide a lead, but developed and economically advanced developing countries must also make a contribution."

A spokeswoman for the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said it "welcomed the Commission's constructive contribution on how the world puts in place the finance that's needed to tackle climate change… the UK stands firm to the commitment to contribute our fair share".

Environmentalists were less enthusiastic about the proposals. Greenpeace said the proposed figures were "desperately inadequate". "With this money on the table we will hopefully break the deadlock in negotiations for a new climate deal in Copenhagen," said Joris den Blanken, Greenpeace EU climate and energy policy director. But he accused the EU of "trying to get away with leaving a tip, rather than paying its share of the bill to protect the planet's climate".

Greenpeace called on industrialised countries to pledge at least €110 billion annually and for the EU to commit €35 billion. The proposal will now be examined by the European Parliament and EU member states.

France unveils carbon dioxide tax

www.environmental-finance.com
10 September

The French government will next year introduce a carbon tax of €17 ($25) per tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced today. Private households and industry will be taxed on emissions from heating and transport, but not for electricity consumption. The tax will mean an increase of €0.045 per litre of diesel and €0.04 per litre of petrol.

The figure is considerably lower that the €32/t recommended by former Socialist prime minister Michel Rocard in a June report and marginally higher than the €14/t French Prime Minister Fran├žois Fillon suggested earlier this month. Sarkozy said Rocard's proposal made sense, but that €32/t was "too high in a time of [economic] crisis". However, he admitted that the tax will need to increase over time.

The electricity sector will be exempt from the tax because its production in France "emits very little CO2", thanks to the use of nuclear energy and renewables, said Sarkozy. The government will study ways of ensuring that the competitiveness of French industry is not compromised by the tax – Sarkozy cited fishing, agriculture and transport as the sectors most likely to be affected because of their significant use of fuel.

Private households will be compensated by tax reductions or a 'green cheque'. The tax is expected to raise around €4.3 billion a year. The sum will be placed in a fund and an independent commission will be set up to decide how the money should be spent.

Sarkozy had come under increasing pressure from consumer groups and prominent members of the opposition Socialist party to drop the idea of a carbon tax. Opponents claim the tax will put an extra burden on poorer households already struggling during the economic downturn. FNE, the French environmental organisation representing 3,000 associations, warned Sarkozy earlier this week that a minimum tax of €32/t CO2 is needed to make energy consumption decline.

France unveils carbon dioxide tax

www.environmental-finance.com
10 September

The French government will next year introduce a carbon tax of €17 ($25) per tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced today. Private households and industry will be taxed on emissions from heating and transport, but not for electricity consumption. The tax will mean an increase of €0.045 per litre of diesel and €0.04 per litre of petrol.

The figure is considerably lower that the €32/t recommended by former Socialist prime minister Michel Rocard in a June report and marginally higher than the €14/t French Prime Minister Fran├žois Fillon suggested earlier this month. Sarkozy said Rocard's proposal made sense, but that €32/t was "too high in a time of [economic] crisis". However, he admitted that the tax will need to increase over time.

The electricity sector will be exempt from the tax because its production in France "emits very little CO2", thanks to the use of nuclear energy and renewables, said Sarkozy. The government will study ways of ensuring that the competitiveness of French industry is not compromised by the tax – Sarkozy cited fishing, agriculture and transport as the sectors most likely to be affected because of their significant use of fuel.

Private households will be compensated by tax reductions or a 'green cheque'. The tax is expected to raise around €4.3 billion a year. The sum will be placed in a fund and an independent commission will be set up to decide how the money should be spent.

Sarkozy had come under increasing pressure from consumer groups and prominent members of the opposition Socialist party to drop the idea of a carbon tax. Opponents claim the tax will put an extra burden on poorer households already struggling during the economic downturn. FNE, the French environmental organisation representing 3,000 associations, warned Sarkozy earlier this week that a minimum tax of €32/t CO2 is needed to make energy consumption decline.

Panax Geothermal inching closer to drilling first geothermal Hot Sedimentary Aquifer in Australia

www.proactiveinvestors.com.au
September 15, 2009

Australian geothermal company Panax Geothermal (ASX: PAX) is inching closer to putting drill to hole at the Penola geothermal project in South Australia. While awaiting arrival of the drilling rig from another site, Panax Geothermal has advanced site construction works at Penola, as well as nearing completion of the well site and access roads.

The rig, owned by Weatherford Drilling International, will be mobilised to Penola to drill Salamander-1 in October 2009. Interestingly, a total of approximately 135 semi-trailer loads will be required to transport this 2,000 HP rig and the associated 45 man camp. Kerry Parker executive director of Panax Geothermal said procurement of all long lead items are either completed or sufficiently advanced. Casing shipments have arrived into stock.

Salamander-1 will be the first drill test of a geothermal, hot sedimentary aquifer in Australia, and as such drilling of this first production well, is keenly anticipated. Parker said Weatherford International had advised that the performance of the contracted rig is currently operating to specification and that no mechanical or associated issues have been encountered.

TAG and Langlee sign co-operation agreement

www.wave-tidal-energy.com
14 September 2009

A co-operation agreement to cover the development and construction of the LANGLEE E2 wave power system has been signed this week by Langlee Wave Power and TAG, the Project Management, engineering and construction company.

In announcing the deal this week (14th September)TAG's Managing Director, Alex Dawson, said "We are very impressed with the Langlee System and believe this to be the perfect product for the emerging worldwide wave energy market. We are very pleased to have been invited to join the team and look forward to working closely with Langlee to achieve their immediate goal of securing a sale of a full scale LANGLEE E2 for installation in 2010."

CEO Julius Espedal commented "We have a win-win-win agreement with TAG. Top-notch UK project management, engineering, and yard capacity are employed to build efficient wave power plants that help meet UK energy needs and 2020 climate goals."

"5 ROCS (Renewable Obligation Certificates) per MWh enhances the attractiveness of building wave power generation facilities off the coast of Scotland and other UK locations. Partnering with the TAG's Energy Solutions business makes Langlee's unique technology readily available for turnkey project deliveries in the UK."

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Investment experts burst `green bubble' fears

Age
Monday 14/9/2009 Page: 3

THE world's rising energy demand and proper reporting of performance is predicted to save clean technology investment from inhabiting the same bubble that claimed previous victims such as the dot-corn boom, according to risk management experts. As governments around the world legislate to assist renewable energy technologies to compete on price with traditional forms of power generation, which is typically carbon intensive, some commentators are warning of a "green bubble" around investment.

Last week Solar Systems, the Melbourne-based company that was to build the world's largest solar energy station, went into receivership with investors reluctant to back the new technology. The Victorian Government has also urged the Federal Government to scale back the $1.5 billion Solar Flagships program, a centrepiece of the May budget, because of a lack of financial appetite for such projects.

However, Nick Kidehalgh, a climate change partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said that meeting energy demand in a carbon-constrained world would require support of emerging technologies. "Remember those old black and white movies of planes trying to take off - that is the sort of level we are at. It is trial and error in some instances but it is all about finding out the right approach," he said.

"If population is going to double in the next 50 years or whatever, it is then the world's energy requirements will need to be met and that will need to happen while keeping our carbon footprint to a minimum." Mr Ridelialgh said companies would need to provide transparent reporting on their business strategy and performance over time in a bid to lower the perceived risks and encourage investment. "That will give the right information to the analysts and the capital markets to make a decision between two separate companies in a portfolio," he said.

Andre Abadie, director of Sustainable Finance in the UK, says that even if there are little bubble bursts along the way, the viable technologies will have been elevated, in much the same way that the dot-coin crash sent many companies under but paved the way for success stories such as Google and Facebook.

"You are going to have some unfortunate accidents along the way. You will have technologies that go bust," he said. "[But] because there may be an impending bubble burst or a couple of little bubbles burst doesn't mean we have to stop going down that route. You just test the technologies and see where we get to." Mark Eckstein, VWVF's managing director of international finance, said the outcome of the December climate change talks in Copenhagen would give a clear indication as to where the world was heading on reducing carbon, and consequently whether investment in products and solutions was inflated.

Move on climate now or pay later

Canberra Times
Monday 14/9/2009 Page: 11

The National Party's motives for blocking an emissions trading scheme in the Senate fail to recognise that unmitigated climate change threatens the future viability of Australia's agricultural sector. The social and economic costs of climate change pose a far more severe and long-lasting threat to Australian agriculture than any immediate financial hardship caused by an ETS. The Nationals need to recognise that climate change is more than a rise in global temperature and sea levels.

The increases, frequency, and severity of droughts accompanying climate change will cripple agricultural communities. Under a no-mitigation scenario, the Garnaut report projects the Murray-Darling Basin's agricultural productivity to be halved by 2050 and all but wiped out by 2100 - the Murray-Darling is responsible for about a third of Australia's agricultural production. Effective climate change mitigation is needed now because the next 20 to 30 years of climate change trends have already been programmed and cannot be reversed.

The Nationals' vocal opposition to the ETS is intended to shield agriculture economies in the short term. Unfortunately it's also jeopardising the long-term viability of Australian agriculture. If these climatic trends continue as expected, the environmental pressure on crops and livestock would make working the land increasingly difficult. Australia's massive beef industry, which stands to suffer much from unmitigated climate change, is a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Queensland holds about 45% of Australia's cattle herd, about 12 million head. In 2008, the methane produced from cattle in Queensland accounted for 14% of the state's total greenhouse gas emissions. Cutting greenhouse gas emissions should be at the front of mind for every industry wanting to stay viable in future, agriculture is no exception. CSIRO's climate change projections under moderate climate change conditions, most regions ofAustralia will be 1 to 2 degrees Celsius hotter by 2030.

The heat and moisture stress on crops and livestock will significantly increase, making it harder for farmers to remain viable in ever more challenging conditions. Brisbane has recently experienced record August temperatures of more than 35 degrees. By 2070, mean summer temperatures are likely to be 3-5 degrees hotter. This is beyond the capacity of agriculture to adapt and maintain economic viability. Most of inland regions will be beyond the level of human comfort.

Being a sector with the most to lose from climate change, the National Party and agricultural industry should be leading the charge in Australia's mitigation strategies, tackling the big polluters and the coal industry. A strong ETS may hurt now but it's in agriculture's long-term interests to strongly mitigate climate change now. Revegetation should be the first step. Our research has shown that historical land clearing has made the climate hotter and drier.

Restoring native vegetation on farms will allow farmers to offset on-farm CO2 emissions from land, livestock and machinery, as well as restoring valuable land micro-climate-atmosphere vegetation feedbacks which can help mitigate regional climate change. This should be done strategically to help retain water on farms and restore biodiversity, while providing a favourable micro-climate for crops and livestock. Then comes the challenge of an ETS. The bar needs to be set higher than the 5% emissions decrease by 2020 the Rudd Government is proposing.

Speaking to the ABC, Senator Bob Brown compared Australia's pledge to a 5% emissions to Britain's aim of 34%. For this reason, by blocking the ETS, the Nationals have made the right decision for the wrong reasons. To pass the Rudd Government's ETS in its current form would be allowing the Government to severely under-commit to climate change mitigation and emissions reduction.

The Nationals and the agricultural sector should be leading the charge on stronger actions to mitigate climate change. Farmers and graziers in inland regions will feel the effects of climate change long before those who live on the coast evidence says they already are. How many droughts will it take for the Nationals to realise that unless they begin getting serious about climate change mitigation, they'll quickly be running out of people to represent?

Dr Clive McAlpine and Tristan Tobin are at the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland.

Turbine solution heads offshore

Sun Herald
Sunday 13/9/2009 Page: 37

SOUTH AMERICA seems destined to benefit from home-grown sustainable technology that is being overlooked by Australian industry and government. Gold Coast company Tidal Energy has developed a turbine that can produce potentially limitless clean electricity from water currents. The company's chairman, Bill Meywes, said last week the company could sell the patents for the technology "for millions of dollars" but nobody in Australia seemed interested.

During the past 10 years the company has received grants worth $143,000 for research and development from federal and state government agencies. "That's just enough money to send you broke," Mr Meywes said. "I can understand why other companies take their inventions overseas because it's so hard to get backing here." Mr Meywes said the Davidson-Hill Venturi Turbine could be used in any waterway that flowed to help supply low-cost electricity for coastal and riverside communities worldwide, including islands off the Queensland mainland.

The design includes a submerged water-current turbine similar to a jet engine. It draws water through a hydro-foil system to turn an impeller that converts the kinetic energy of the water into mechanical energy that can power an electrical generator. He said the turbine worked "like a wind generator under water". "Wind generators can't operate without wind but the sea is the most reliable power source in the world because tides never stop going in and out," he said. He said the technology could add to existing power sources, not replace them "at this stage".

The turbine could be used to lift living standards of remote communities and Third World countries through cheap power, he said. Representatives from the South American "Latin Power Group" will visit on September 22 to inspect the $300,000 turbine. The President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe-Velez, is on the group's advisory board, Mr Meywes said. "They are looking at ordering three turbines," he said. "South America arguably leads the world in the adoption of alternative clean green power and we are seen by them as having the most effective system available for power generation from moving water."

During its formative years, Tidal Energy worked with Griffith University turbine experts.

Good luck shines on solar king

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 12/9/2009 Page: 52

THOSE who despair of ever building a career can take heart from Adrian Ferraretto, who couldn't find a full time job for four years after he left university in 1995. Armed with a degree in mechanical engineering, he eventually gained full-time work in the solar energy sector in 1999. It led to him buying a tiny solar business in 2001 and building it into Solar Shop Australia, now a national powerhouse and the largest solar electricity panel retailer in Australia.

Mr Ferraretto mortgaged his house to buy the business at a time when his wife wasn't working and he had an 18-month-old child. "It seemed like a crazy thing to do at the time," he recalls. "There is no better incentive to work as hard as you can than having the family home on the line."

Starting with just himself, an electrician and a part-time bookkeeper, the business earned a small income in its first year under his ownership. Six years later, he owns one of the fastest-growing companies in Australia. The St Peters-based Solar Shop Australia turned over $75 million in 2008-09 and is expected to reach $120 million this year. The rags-to-riches business grew from a home-based operation in its first year to a $6 million turnover in 2006-7 and $25 million the next year.

The business installed one in four solar systems in Australia in 2008 and employs 150 people full-time and another 50 contractors. With domestic power bills expected to double in the next five years, Mr Ferraretto believes the company will continue expanding rapidly for the foreseeable future. His confidence is based on the fact that home owners can install a solar system and cut their power bills to nil in a deal that pays for the system in 10 years. "With one of our systems, you have free power for the rest of your life," Mr Ferraretto said.

$1.25b clean coal power station for Qld gets nod

Canberra Times
Saturday 12/9/2009 Page: 10

Plans for a billion-dollar clean coal power station in central Queensland have been given the green light. The $1.25 billion proposed coalfired Galilee power station, which will incorporate carbon capture and storage technologies, will be in the Galilee Basin. Galilee Power is owned by Waratah Coal, which also announced Australia's largest thermal coal mine and infrastructure project, worth $7.5 billion, earlier this year.

Waratah Coal said the state Government had declared its proposed power station a "significant project for which an environmental impact statement is required". Waratah Coal chief executive Peter Lynch said proposed to construct and operate a 900 MW coalfired power station that incorporated carbon capture and storage and has launched a pre-feasibility study Into the project.

Mr Lynch said, pending approvals, construction could start within three years, generating about 1000 jobs and 60 permanent jobs once it was operating. Last month, Premier Anna Bligh unveiled the Government's new climate change strategy, ClimateQ: Towards a Greener Queensland. It updates the 2007 plan, ClimateSmart 2050, in light of the Federal Government's proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme and renewable energy targets, and the latest science and projections.

Ms Bligh said under ClimateQ, no new coal-fired power stations would be built in Queensland unless they used the world's best emissions technology and were ready to store and capture carbon. Mr Lynch said the company was prepared for emissions legislation. "It improves our green credentials and shows our commitment to working towards the goals that both the state and Federal Government are espousing," he said.

"We think this is a great opportunity. The community has clearly annunciated that clean coal power, or power which is compliant with low greenhouse emissions, is the energy source that the market will favour." The Waratah Coal Galilee thermal coal project, expected to create up to 6000 jobs and generate about $280 million in royalties a year, will fuel .

Waratah Coal is owned by mining magnate Clive Palmer's private company, Mineralogy.

Wind the solution to China's emissions

Adelaide Advertiser
Saturday 12/9/2009 Page: 69

CHINA could cut its greenhouse emissions by 30% in the next two decades if it switches to wind energy to meet about half of its electricity demands, a U.S, study says. China's energy needs are expected to double by 2030, but the study in the journal Science says that the country could reasonably meet half of those needs with wind. Using meteorological data to assess the potential for wind energy in China - the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide - the researchers also say wind could theoretically supply all of the giant's energy, though it only laid out the figures for meeting half its needs.

"The world is struggling with the question of how do you make the switch from carbon-rich fuels to something carbon-free," lead author Michael McElroy, a professor of environmental studies at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, said in a statement yesterday. "The real question for the globe is: What alternatives does China have?"

Coal currently supplies 80% of China's electricity, and hundreds of coal-fired power plants are built every year to keep pace with demand, but Beijing is also investing heavily in renewable energy. It plans to build seven large wind-power bases over the next decade, and already ranks fourth in the world in terms of installed capacity, at 12.2 GWs (12.2 billion watts) - about equal to the energy produced by two dozen average-sized coal-fired plants.

It trails only the U.S., Germany and Spain in installed capacity, but not all of those turbines are hooked up to the electricity grid. In fact, just 0.4% of China's electricity is currently supplied by wind - or around 3 GWs. Justin Wu, a wind analyst at New Energy Finance, a London based industry-research firm, said the gap between installed capacity and wind-generated power is more than just a footnote.

Connecting the wind farms to national electric grids is very difficult and expensive, he said, because the on-and-off blowing stresses the grids. He said the study does not take into account that to overcome this difficulty, power grids would need costly upgrades. Still, analysts note that China has shown a commitment to renewable energy and may be able to overcome the problems. It is now the fastest-growing market for such energy.

Tapping Geothermal Energy: New Drilling Method With Fire And Flame In The Depth

www.sciencedaily.com
Sep. 12, 2009

With increasing depth, geothermal energy offers an almost inexhaustible potential for renewable energy. The drilling costs however, rise exponentially with depth in the case of conventional rotary drilling. A thermal drilling method, which will allow for reaching greater drilling depths in a more efficient and more cost-effective way, is currently being developed at the ETH Zurich.

Tobias Rothenfluh, a doctoral student at the Institute for Process Engineering, climbs up a small ladder into the three-story pilot plant. Pipelines lead through metering and safety valves into the reactor, which is affectionately known as "Betsy". Inch-thick plates, made of heat-resistant steel, prevent the reactor from bursting, even at a pressure of 300 bars. "In our experimental reactor we are able to ignite a flame underwater at a pressure of around 250 bars and 450 degrees Celsius" says Rothenfluh. "Thus we are able to experimentally simulate the temperature and pressure conditions prevailing in a borehole, about three kilometers below the earth's surface." He has constructed a first burner prototype over the last few months together with his colleagues Martin Schuler and Panagiotis Stathopoulos.

Laboratory experiments at high pressure
Heated oxygen, ethanol and water are pumped into the reactor burner through various pipelines and valves and mix under temperature and pressure conditions, which correspond to the supercritical state of water (see box). The auto-ignition of the mixture is being observed through small sapphire-glass windows by means of a camera. A newly developed sensor plate measures the heat flux from the flame to the plate and records the temperature distribution on the surface for different distances between the burner outlet and the plate.

Based on these experimental results, conclusions are drawn concerning the heat transfer from the flame to the rock. "The heat flux is the crucial parameter for the characterisation of this alternative drilling method," explains Philipp Rudolf von Rohr, professor at the Institute of Process Engineering of the ETH Zurich and supervisor of the three PhD students.

Erosion in fast motion
During the experiment, the flame reaches a maximal temperature of about 2000°C. Rapid heating of the upper rock layer induces a steep temperature gradient in it. "The heat from the flame causes the rock to crack due to the induced temperature difference and the resulting linear thermal expansion," explains Tobias Rothenfluh. The expansion of the upper rock layer causes natural flaws, already existing in the rock, act as origin points for cracks. Disc - like rock fragments in the millimetre scale are formed in the spallation zone. These particles are transported upwards with the ascending fluid stream of the surrounding medium. "One of the main challenges of the spallation process is to prevent the rock from melting, whilst it's being rapidly heated," says Tobias Rothenfluh. "The lager the temperature gradient in the rock, the faster you can drill."

The method is particularly suitable for hard, dry rock, normally encountered at depths greater than three kilometers. In such depths conventional drilling bits wear out much faster, and their frequent replacement, renders the conventional drilling techniques uneconomic: a 10 km borehole costs around 60 million US dollars. In the case of the so-called "hydrothermal spallation drilling" method, however, the burner - drill bit wear is considerably less, because there is no mechanical contact with the rock. "It is expected that the drilling costs will rise linearly with depth in the case of spallation drilling, instead of exponentially, which is the case of the conventional methods," says Philipp Rudolf von Rohr.

Simulation and demonstration
In order to test the flame's behaviour under different conditions, the doctoral student Martin Schuler is developing a tool for the numerical simulation of the reaction and transport processes in cooperation with the master's student Karl Goossens. "The simulation enables us to change and optimise parameters like fuel mass flow rates, temperature and pressure, as well as the geometry of the burner," says Martin Schuler.

The experimental results from the current test set-up are being used to design a pilot plant, on which Panagiotis Stathopoulos is working. The 1.2 million-Swiss-franc plant should demonstrate that it is actually possible to drill through rock by means of hydrothermal flames. The project is funded by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, the industrial organization swisselectric research, ETH Zurich and the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Research in breadth and depth
The interest of federation and industry confirms the high potential of "hydrothermal spallation drilling". Some time will pass until the method is industrially applicable, but the feasibility is undoubted so far. "It is for sure possible to speed up the project towards the industrial application," Philipp Rudolf von Rohr realises, "but we still want to focus on basic research at a university like the ETH Zurich".

After all, the Institute of Process Engineering is currently worldwide the only group investigating the heat transfer characteristics of a flame in supercritical water. "We literally want to research in both depth and breadth," says Tobias Rothenfluh. In the future, the knowledge acquired might be useful not only for geothermal energy, but also for other applications.

Supercritical water
Above a temperature of 374.12°C and a pressure of 221.2 bars, water vapour and liquid water can no longer be distinguished from each other in terms of their density. In this supercritical state, water is less polar, has no phase boundaries any more and is a good solvent for non-polar gases like oxygen. Under these conditions fuel and oxygen can be mixed without any bubble formation and in the case of ethanol as fuel, auto-ignition occurs at approximately 450°C.