Saturday, 5 June 2010

Czech Republic, Taiwan Building Massive Solar Plants
May 27, 2010

Taiwan and the Czech Republic are taking huge strides in the "green" world by building large-scale solar power plants in Tainan, Taiwan and the South Moravian farming village of Moravsky Zizkov in an effort to reduce CO2 emissions. Taiwan Power Co., a state-run power company, is building a 5MW solar plant to both decrease carbon emissions and reduce their dependence on imported energy needs, which is currently at 99 percent.

Lawmakers in Taiwan approved the Renewable Energy Development Act in June 2009. Since that time, Taiwan Power Co. has been building solar stations and wind turbines in order to reach the goal of having renewable energy account for 15 percent of the island's electricity capacity by 2025. As of April of this year, Taiwan has reached 5.7 percent of this goal.

No costs or figures for the solar plant are available yet, but according to Tu Yueh-yuan, a chief engineer of Taiwan's biggest electricity producer, the budget will not be a problem. While Taiwan's largest solar plant is in the making, the Czech Republic already has a solar station covering an area of more than 28,000 m and delivering an output of 1.2MWs that was completed in December of last year. Kyocera, a company with 35 years of experience in solar industry, has supplied 8,960 solar modules for the power plant. The plant can supply energy for 280 households per year from sunlight, which reduces 1,150 tons of carbon emissions.

This region of the Czech Republic receives many hours of sunlight, hence, a high annual electricity yield of 1.3 million kW hours is expected from this solar station. While Nelumbo is one of the most experienced companies in solar thermal power in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, they handed the production of this solar plant over to Kyocera because of their high performance installation and quality modules.

Energy efficiency push

Tuesday 1/6/2010 Page: 2

GOVERNMENTS at all levels waste $450 million of taxpayers' money a year on inflated energy bills due to inefficiencies in public buildings, an adviser to the Rudd government has found. The advice comes as the federal government looks to energy efficiencies to fill the void left by the delay of its emissions trading scheme. Its pre-election commitments are expected to include policies to improve industrial and building energy efficiency, based on options proposed by the Prime Minister's Task Group on Energy Efficiency this month.

Task group member Rob Murray-Leach found that improving public building stock could save hundreds of millions of dollars while cutting greenhouse gas emissions by about 1% a year. Mr Murray-Leach, the chief executive of industry group the Energy Efficiency Council, said governments had done little to improve energy efficiency despite advice it was the fastest and cheapest way to cut emissions without a carbon price. Mr Murray-Leach recommended investment of a quarter of the cost of government energy bills over five years to cut costs over time. The Energy Efficiency Council analysis, based on data collected by ClimateWorks Australia, found that 32% of potential efficiency savings in buildings were in public buildings - offices, schools, hospitals, post offices, libraries and museums.

Wind farm open

Adelaide Advertiser
Monday 31/5/2010 Page: 55

AGL Energy's Hallett 2 wind farm was officially opened yesterday, though its Hallett Hill turbines have been generating renewable energy for the national grid since last year. The $159 million, 71.4MW farm, located near Mt Bryan, was opened by Premier Mike Rann. AGL Energy said the wind farm had boosted local jobs and will produce enough energy to power 40,000 average homes.

Wind well and truly mapped

Thursday 27/5/2010 Page: 4

WHEN you think of great sites for a wind farm, the southern coastline with its Roaring 40s gales comes to mind. Not Hughenden in outback Queensland, 376km southwest of Townsville and 519km east of Mount Isa. Yet this is one of the locations that wind energy development company, Windlab Systems, sees as a potential game-changer in the quest for compelling renewable energy projects.

"It's in an area that no one really would have thought to investigate for a wind resource," admits chief executive officer Mark Sinclair, who estimates the company's Kennedy wind farm project near Hughenden could ultimately supply between 600 and 1000MWs of clean electricity into the national grid.

Central to his confidence is the company's flagship product Windscape, which uses CSIRO atmospheric modelling technology to map broad regions for their wind resources and, in turn, allow the rapid and cost-effective selection of wind farm sites. Sinclair says Kennedy, which has the potential to handle about 280 wind turbines, and sites like it are significant given that communities in scenic and popular coastal locales are reluctant to turn over land to turbines. "You do have to look harder for opportunities when you get inland and further north, but they are still there," he says.

Challenges exist at Hughenden: there is no existing transmission line to shift energy on to the grid. However, discussions about a clean energy corridor between Townsville and Mount Isa offer hope that a $1.5 billion farm at Kennedy could be part of a new power system in the region. "It's got the potential to be an extremely large contributor to not only Queensland's but also Australia's requirements for renewable energy," Sinclair says.

Windlab Systems, set up in 2003, is a CSIRO spin-off that now boasts a portfolio of projects in Australia, North America, South Africa and New Zealand. In Australia its interests include two farms that are now under construction: Collgar 250km east of Perth and Oaklands Hill in the Southern Grampians in western Victoria. To date, Windlab Systems has typically identified wind farm sites and then brought in joint-venture partners such as Investec Bank and power company AGL Energy to prepare them for the construction phase.

With wind power estimated to represent only about 1% of the total generation of energy in the world, it is clear that there is room for growth. "It's still a very small part of the mix at the moment," Sinclair says. "Conventional wisdom says you can take wind in any small isolated system up to about 20% of generation, and you can manage the variable nature of the supply quite easily at that level."

Although getting wind farms operational is "a hard road" with venture capital at a premium in the wake of the global financial crisis, Sinclair says wind power is a stand-out option compared with other renewable energy sources. "In Australia we are fortunate that we have a good broad-base wind resource, and wind energy has proven to be the most economic and will continue to be the most economic form of renewable energy generation in the foreseeable future."

Wind power is viewed as one of the means by which Australia can meet its commitments under the MRET, or mandatory renewable energy target, a key element of the government response to climate change. It commits Australia to achieving a 20% share of renewables in Australia's electricity supply in 2020.

While Sinclair is quick to highlight the sector's potential, he believes the Rudd government's decision to delay the introduction of an emissions trading scheme is a blow and adds to industry frustrations over regulatory uncertainty in the sector. "It is very disappointing to see the ETS being shelved. I think that is going to have an impact in the industry." Sinclair notes that a typical wind farm project can require about $200 million and has a life cycle of approximately 25 years. "In order for investors and debt providers to make decisions they really need to have certainty over what is the course of the market for the next two decades."

Offshore wind farms power across the globe

Weekend Australian
Saturday 29/5/2010 Page: 2

OFFSHORE wind energy developments will see a huge expansion in the next five years, but Australians won't see towering turbines on their seafront any time soon. While overseas electricity industry analysts are predicting 80,000MWs of marine wind farms will be developed across the world by 2015-16, the Rudd government's new energy resource assessment says they are unlikely to be pursued here.

The report, written by Geoscience Australia and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics, says offshore wind stations are more important to countries with land access limitations, particularly in western Europe. "Because Australia has sufficient onshore sites with high potential, offshore generation is unlikely to be developed in the short term and Australia's offshore sites are likely to be high-cost due to ocean depth," it says.

Except in the US, offshore wind generation is going gangbusters in the rest of the world. SBI Energy, a US market analysis company, says marine wind farming can be expected to increase at a rate of 92% a year this decade, exceeding onshore capacity by 2015.

China and India have announced plans for substantial investment in marine wind farming, but the world leader is Britain, which has installed 1000MW of sea arrays and is planning to meet one-third of national power needs from the sector by 2020, a target that will require installing 6000 turbines in the often stormy waters between Scotland's Moray Firth and England's Isle of Wight at a cost estimated to reach more than $100 billion. The British developments will be a big contribution to the Europe Union's plans to have 40,000MW of offshore capacity by the end of the decade.

Critics say the EU plan will lead to a consumer backlash against much higher power bills European householders already pay on average 150% more for electricity than their Australian equivalents because of the large subsidies needed to make the turbines viable, but wind power boosters say they will be cheaper to run than conventional power stations, will create thousands of jobs and won't have future fuel supply problems because "there is an infinity of wind."

The biggest international development could come on the US Atlantic coast, where the wind industry is arguing it could create a 3000km network of interlinked offshore turbines, overcoming the intermittency hurdle. However, they are confronted by a strong "not in my back yard" reaction, epitomised by the nine-year battle to develop a wind project in the waters of Massachusetts' Nantucket Sound that now depends on a decision by Barack Obama's Interior Secretary.

Geoscience Australia and ABARE say the greatest hurdle facing wind-farm development offshore is cost, including expensive offshore foundations and grid connections plus higher operation and maintenance costs comp are d with onshore installations. While the agencies see water depths as a problem for Australian marine wind developments, they also point to research into replacing turbines fixed to the seabed with large, floating facilities tied to the sea floor with cables. If successful, they say, this would enable offshore wind systems in water more than 100m deep.

One advantage of offshore wind farms in Australia could be their location nearer large load centres than onshore developments. Big demand across the world will also bring down the equipment costs in this decade, with China looking to grab a large share of the offshore wind manufacturing market.

Power bills will not bear cost of clean power boom

Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 27/5/2010 Page: 8

A RENEWABLE energy scheme before the Federal Parliament will drive $14 billion of clean power investment by 2020 according to new modelling, but the head of the Climate Change Department has warned that Australia still cannot meet its promised emission reduction targets without a broad price on carbon.

Modelling released by the government yesterday shows the new renewable energy target - which requires 20% of energy to be sourced from renewables by 2020 - will increase the average household power bill by $41 a year. The scheme amendments before the Parliament will be responsible for just $2 of that.

The modest price rises mean it is likely the changes will pass with bipartisan support, as the original renewable energy target legislation did, allowing billions of dollars of renewables investment to begin. National Party senators had raised concerns about much higher price rise estimates, but Coalition sources said yesterday the amended legislation was now likely to pass. But according to the secretary of the Department of Climate Change, Martin Parkinson, without a carbon price Australia still cannot meet the emission reduction targets of between 5 and 25% by 2020 that have been pledged by both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader.

Kevin Rudd has said he still wants to introduce his carbon pollution reduction scheme, but will not revisit it until 2012. The renewable energy target modelling uses two scenarios - one with the carbon pollution reduction scheme coming into effect in 2013 and one in 2014. Tony Abbott has said he would not have a "great big new tax on everything" but will review his "direct action" model in 2015 and has not ruled out some form of carbon price. Other senior Coalition figures, including the shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, have said a carbon price is inevitable.

"We face a choice between economically efficient, low-cost, market-based action or a recourse to high-cost policies that we know have been inadequate in the past. The gap here is not partisan politics; it's economics," Dr Parkinson said in a speech to the Property Council of Australia. "A carbon price must begin to be implemented by around the conclusion of the present Kyoto commitment period. No long-term solution is possible without the creation of market incentives."

He said Australia had to take other action: the renewable energy target to start the process of changing the way we generate electricity and new measures to promote energy efficiency, particularly in buildings, to reduce our energy consumption.

Dr Parkinson chairs a group that is preparing new energy efficiency policies that are likely to be the basis of the government's climate change policy for the next election. The renewable energy target legislation required amendment because the high take-up of small domestic energy-efficiency measures swamped the scheme. This meant its incentives were insufficient for the large-scale generation capacity it was originally intended to promote. According to the Clean Energy Council the scheme would reduce emissions by 380 million tonnes.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Wind energy companies attack Baillieu proposal - No consultation' on wind farm policy

Tuesday 25/5/2010 Page: 4

CLEAN energy companies have launched an advertising campaign attacking state Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu over his proposed wind farm policy, warning it could send thousands of jobs and more than $4 billion of investment interstate.

An advertisement in today's Age by six wind companies - Pacific Hydro, Acciona Energy, AGL Energy, Suzlon, Keppel Prince and REpower - says: "Mr Baillieu, please don't send clean energy jobs and investment interstate!" It conies ahead of a meeting and expected joint press conference today between representatives from the companies and Premier John Brumby.

Under Mr Baillieu's policy announced earlier this month, wind farms would be banned in national parks, tourist areas and growth corridors. No new turbines could be built within two kilometres of homes without the consent of the owners, and local councils would be given full control of the wind farm approval process. The policy was supported by the Victorian Landscape Guardians, and criticised by the clean energy industry and the Municipal Association of Victoria.

Pacific Hydro executive manager Andrew Richards said the opposition policy would create a 13-square-kilometre exclusion zone around all homes. He said the exclusion zone would not apply to other infrastructure, including coal-fired power stations. "Why is the wind industry singled out on this? We feel as though we need to make a strong public statement on this so people are under no illusion about what it means," he said.

Ken McAlpine, policy director with Vestas Australian Wind Technology, said the industry was forced to react after the opposition devised its policy without consulting wind farm companies. "We're very concerned about the opposition policy and its potential impact on Victoria's wind industry," he said. "Our industry has a track record of operating in a safe and environmentally responsible way, and this is the sort of thing that should be encouraged rather than blocked."

Mr Baillieu has rejected suggestions his policy would kill the wind farm industry. He declined to comment yesterday. Meanwhile, the opposition is considering suggesting amendments to proposed changes to Australia's 20% renewable energy target, which could stop households generating renewable energy over and above the 20% target. The government is seeking to divide the renewable energy target - which ensures 20% of Australia's energy comes from renewable sources by 2020 - between large and small-scale projects.

While the large-scale side of the target would be capped, the government has left energy generated from household solar panels uncapped, meaning Australia's renewable generation could exceed the 20% target in 2020. Opposition energy spokesman Ian MacFarlane and Nationals senator Ron Boswell have both previously expressed concerns about the divide, citing industry complaints that uncapped household renewable generation could cause higher electricity price rises than first thought.

It is understood the opposition will defer its final position on the changes to the renewable energy target until after a Senate inquiry reports on June 10, but possible amendments were discussed at shadow cabinet yesterday. Parliamentary debate on the changes is expected to begin tomorrow.

Taipower to Build Taiwan’s Biggest Solar Power Plant
May 26, 2010

May 26 (Bloomberg) -- Taiwan Power Co. plans to build the island's biggest solar power station in the southern county of Tainan as the government aims to reduce carbon emissions. The proposed 5MW plant will surpass a 4.6MW facility being constructed in the neighboring Kaohsiung County, Tu Yueh-yuan, chief engineer of Taiwan's biggest electricity producer, said by telephone in Taipei today. OneMW is enough to power 800 U.S. homes.

State-run Taiwan Power, known as Taipower, is building solar stations and wind turbines as the government aims to have renewable energy account for 15 percent of the island's electricity generation capacity by 2025 to help cut carbon emissions. The industrialised island releases about three times more heat-trapping gases per person than the world average, Bloomberg data show. "Budget for it won't be a problem" as the company plans to boost solar power capacity, Tu said. Details of the project, including costs, aren't yet available, she said.

The utility is negotiating with state-run Taiwan Sugar Corp., which owns the land for the proposed site, Tu said. Taipower plans to build another solar power station, with installed capacity of 4MWs, on Taiwan Sugar-owned land in Tainan, She said.

Energy Sources
Renewable source, including solar energy and wind turbines, accounted for 5.7 percent of Taiwan's installed capacity as of April, according to Taipower's website. Taiwan's government set minimum wholesale prices in December for electricity generated by solar panels and wind turbines at levels higher than for power from fossil fuels to spur renewable energy production.

Lawmakers approved the Renewable Energy Development Act in June, designed to help cut carbon emissions and reduce the island's dependence on imports, according to the Bureau of Energy. Taiwan relies on overseas shipments for about 99 percent of its energy needs. The 60MW Olmedilla plant in Spain is the world's biggest photovoltaic power station, according to, a website on solar technologies and applications. The government owns 97 percent of Taiwan Power, which generates about 75 percent of the electricity the island uses.

Victoria Supports Wind Energy And Green Jobs Investment
25th May 2010

Premier John Brumby and Environment and Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings today met with representatives from the wind farm industry to discuss the future of wind farms in Victoria and reaffirm the Government's support of the renewable energy sector. Mr Brumby said wind energy was one of the most cost effective forms of renewable energy and played an important role in reducing our level of greenhouse gas emissions.

"Our Government is working closely with the renewable energy industry and local communities to deliver economic and environmental benefits for all Victorians," Mr Brumby said. "Victoria is moving to a low carbon and greener economy and was the first state to establish a renewable energy target.

"To support this, the Government recently announced our $175 million Jobs for the Future Economy: Victoria's Action Plan for Green Jobs which supports renewable energy investment and the development of green industries. "Our Government is taking action to ensure Victoria's economic and environmental development for the long term and providing certainty for the wind farm industry was an integral part of this development.

Mr Brumby and Mr Jennings outlined the Government's support of wind farms and said that the Government's policy provided for new wind farm projects to be approved and operated within clear guidelines developed in consultation with the industry. They also said the Victorian Government supports sensible and sustainable development and has strong planning policies in place to balance the community views with the need for building cleaner energy sources.

Mr Jennings said the Victorian Government's support of the wind farm industry was in stark contrast to the Opposition who have announced a policy that would threaten the future of the wind farm industry. "Mr Baillieu's wind farm policy removes any investment certainty for the industry and would mean less wind farms and less renewable energy in Victoria," Mr Jennings said. "Mr Baillieu's new wind farm policy threatens up to $4 billion of investment in Victoria and hundreds of jobs.

"Under the opposition's plan to put a 2 km setback for wind turbines many of our existing wind farms couldn't exist. For example, the industry would have not have been able to install a single one of their turbines in Codrington, Yambuk, Cape Bridgewater or Cape Nelson South." Mr Jennings said the Opposition's wind farm policy had been widely criticised by Victoria's renewable energy sector which says the policy would cause them to move their developments to other states.

"Victoria could not afford a poorly thought-out policy that puts at risk the health of the environment as well as the health of our economy," Mr Brumby said. "At risk would be up to $4 billion investment in Victoria and potential greenhouse gas savings of up to 4.2 million tonnes per annum. "The renewable energy sector has already signalled that Mr Baillieu's policy would risk stalling investments in Victoria as companies move their developments to other states.

"Renewable energy companies have said that Mr Baillieu's announcement puts at risk billions of dollars of investment in wind farms and thousands of jobs and furthermore the industry wasn't even consulted by Mr Baillieu before the announcement. "EveryMW hour of wind energy cuts about one tonne of greenhouse gas emissions. Apart from bringing in vital investment to our state, the benefits of wind farms are significant for our environment. "Mr Baillieu's policy would mean Victoria misses out on its economic and environmental opportunities. "The Opposition's disappointing wind farm policy is the latest in a string of anti-renewable energy moves, voting down the renewable energy target in 2006."

Geothermal power station opens early
May 25, 2010

Contact Energy's $100 million geothermal power station Tauhara One, near Taupo, has been finished three weeks ahead of schedule. Contact managing director David Baldwin today said the 23MW (MW) station, which would provide enough baseload renewable energy for about 23,000 homes, was also finished under budget. It was the first part in a $600m investment programme by the company to be finished. Other parts of the programme are a $250m 200MW gas-fired fast-start peaking power station at Stratford, in Taranaki, and the $250m Ahuroa gas storage facility in the same region.

Construction of the Stratford station was due to be finished by the end of May, when commissioning would start, Baldwin said. The Ahuroa storage project was on track to be completed by the end of 2010. Contact is seeking consents for a 250MW Tauhara Two geothermal power station through a board of inquiry process and advancing development of its consented 220MW Te Mihi power station. It said it expected exploration of the Taheke geothermal resource to start soon, in conjunction with joint venture partner the Taheke 8C Incorporation.

Fusion reactor costs ballooning
May 24, 2010

BRUSSELS, May 24 (UPI) -- An international scheme to build a nuclear fusion reactor in France has come under fire due to ballooning funding concerns. Overall costs for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor have risen from an initial $6 billion estimate in 2006 to around $18 billion, German news magazine Der Spiegel reports.

The research reactor is to be built by 2015 in Cadarache in southern France by a consortium including the European Union, China Japan, Russia, India and the United States. It is then to operate for another 20 years. The aim of ITER is to show that atoms can be fused together inside a reactor to produce electricity. Conventional nuclear power reactors do the opposite, harnessing energy released from splitting atoms apart.

The EU, which at the start of the project pledged to shoulder 40 percent of the costs, said its share has grown by more than $1.7 billion to at least $9 billion. Der Spiegel reports that new technical and safety standards have caused the cost increase. The commission is now mulling to pass on the additional costs to member states, which are not amused.

The commission's proposals, which include demanding guarantees from member states to shoulder all additional costs until 2020, "are not acceptable," the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper quoted a German diplomat as saying. France and Germany have already suggested ways to cut costs by some $740 million, he said. Germany has said that it wants to support ITER but not at just any price. Brussels aims to secure the additional funds before June 18 talks with the additional partner countries. Observers hope that nuclear fusion can one day produce CO2-free base-load power on a large-scale.

Once the technical challenges -- and there are many -- are overcome, fusion power has potential advantages including the existence of abundant fuel, a relatively safe energy generation producing only low-level waste and no production of greenhouse gases. But critics say the international community is investing too much money into an energy source that might never, or at least not anytime soon, benefit the ordinary population in the form of large-scale energy generation. A 2006 editorial in New Scientist magazine said that, "If commercial fusion is viable, it may well be a century away."

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Nuclear waste storage facility one step closer
25 May 2010

Australia will soon have a national radioactive waste management facility at a selected site in the Northern Territory, as it looks likely that the National radioactive Waste Management Bill 2010 will soon be passed. This follows a recommendation by the Senate's Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee which has recommended that the Senate pass the Labor Government's Bill, which in turn follows the announcement by the federal coalition back in March this year of its intention to support the Bill.

Broadly, the Bill does two things:
It repeals the politically controversial Commonwealth radioactive Waste Management Act 2005 (CRWM Act), in keeping with the Labor Government's 2007 election promise to do so; and It makes provision for the selection of a single site for the establishment and operation of a national radioactive waste management facility to store low grade radioactive waste arising from medical, industrial and research uses.

Brief overview of the Bill - Specifically, the Bill does several things.
It sets out the process by which an Aboriginal Land Council may nominate Aboriginal land as a potential site on which a facility may be constructed. It also allows the Minister for Resources and Energy to provide an opportunity to other persons holding an interest in land to voluntarily nominate potential sites. It allows the Minister, once a site is nominated, to approve, in his or her absolute discretion, land nominated, as a site. The Minister may then declare the nominated site, as the site for a facility and also declare the area required to provide all-weather road access to the selected site.

The Bill provides for the acquisition or extinguishment of all rights or interests in the selected site and requires the Commonwealth to pay compensation to those persons whose rights or interest have been acquired or extinguished. In addition, the Bill allows the Minister to establish a regional consultative committee in relation to the selected site. The recommendation to the Senate proposes that this should be a mandatory obligation immediately following the selection of a site for the radioactive waste facility.

Relevant features of the Bill
One of the stated objectives of the Bill is to introduce a procedural fairness requirement in relation to decisions made about the nomination, approval and selection of the site. This procedural fairness requirement is denied by the current CRWM Act and is one of the reasons for its repeal. Unlike the current CRWM Act, decisions under the Bill are now reviewable under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977. The new Bill requires the Minister to invite and take into account comments from the public in relation to its decision to allow voluntary nominations of potential sites and also any decision to approve nominated land as a site. The Bill also requires the Minister to invite comments from persons with a right or interest in the land and the nominators of the land and take those comments into account when deciding to declare the site selected for the facility.

Excluded from the new procedural fairness requirement is the existing site at Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory, in so far as the nomination and approval of the site is concerned. However, the procedural fairness requirement will still apply to a decision to select the site as the site for the facility.

An interesting aspect of the Bill, which it shares with its predecessor (the CRWM Act), is that it deems ineffective any Commonwealth, State or Territory law to the extent that any law hinders or prevents the Commonwealth from doing anything necessary regarding the site, including: selecting a site, conducting activities in relation to the site and constructing, operating and maintaining a facility on the site. This includes overriding State and Territory laws relating to environmental land use, archaeological sites, aboriginal heritage and the control and transport of radioactive material or dangerous goods. The only exception to this is that the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation (Safeguards) Act 1987, continue to apply in relation to activities conducted in relation to the selected site.

Why is this significant for nuclear energy law in Australia?
It is significant because, like the CRWM Act, it is an example of how the Commonwealth can use its powers to override certain state and territory laws that would otherwise hinder or prevent the establishment and operation of a radioactive waste facility.

Importantly, laws relating to radiation protection and nuclear safety under the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation (Safeguards) Act 1987) must be complied with, as well as laws relating to the protection of the environment and protected species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Although the Bill does not specify the legislative power in the Constitution from which Parliament derives its authority to make such a law, it is possible that the scope of the external affairs power in section 51(xxix) of the Constitution and the power to make laws that are incidental to the exercise of the executive power in section 51 (xxxix) collectively allow a broad scope for the Commonwealth to make laws with respect to issues of nuclear safety. The South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty 1952 has been given effect to in Australia. The Commonwealth legislation giving effect to the treaty applies to all jurisdictions in Australia including the external Territories.

One example is the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1998 which provides for the making of Codes of Practice to control certain activities so as to protect the health and safety of people and to protect the environment from the harmful effects of radiation and applies to the exclusion of State and Territory legislation prescribed by the regulations that provide safeguards for the control of radiation. It is also possible that the Commonwealth is exercising its power to make laws incidental to the exercise of its external affairs power under section 51 (xxix) to introduce a law relating to the development of a radioactive waste facility which is incidental to the issue of nuclear safety.

Hydrogen Highway Starts In Wallingford

Proton Energy Systems in Wallingford broke ground last week on the first connection of its planned Hydrogen Highway, a network of nine stations stretching from Maine to Miami where hydrogen cars can be refueled. The Hydrogen Highway spearheads the company's effort to create an East Coast market for cars powered by hydrogen fuel-cells and, therefore, boosting the need for Proton Energy Systems's products that create hydrogen out of water.

Even though these SunHydro stations will operate at a loss for the conceivable future, the effort is vital to convincing automakers an American market exists for fuel-cell cars, particularly on the East Coast, said Rob Friedland, Proton president and CEO. "As people get more comfortable with this technology, they will realise it has all the benefits you want from an alternative energy," Friedland said. "It's not as daunting or complicated as some people make it out to be."

Founded in 1996 in Rocky Hill, Proton Energy Systems is a global leader in hydrogen energy, holding 68 patents related to hydrogen generation. The company, now located in Wallingford, has more than 75 employees. As of the 2008 report by the National Hydrogen Association, there were 210 hydrogen-powered cars on the road in the United States, although that number likely has grown to 300 vehicles, said Patrick Serfass, spokesman for the National Hydrogen Association.

The majority of those cars — as well as half of the operational hydrogen fueling stations — are in California, particularly Southern California. The vehicles range from SUVs such as the Chevy Fuel Cell EV, Hyundai Tucson FCEV and the Toyota FCHV-adv to smaller, sportier rides such as the Mazda RX-8, Honda FCX Clarity and the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL.

All of the fuel-cell cars in the field are pre-production vehicles and are not available for purchase in the United States. Some are available for lease, such as the Honda FCX Clarity for $600 month with insurance included. Auto manufacturers are targeting 2015 as the year most of the models will go on sale, Serfass said, but that depends on whether they believe a market exists for the cars. "The auto manufacturers don't want to roll out 100 vehicles; they want to roll out several hundred or thousands," Serfass said.

The joint effort by SunHydro and Proton Energy Systems - both companies are owned by entrepreneur Tom Sullivan - to build these stations on the East Coast could drastically change automakers' opinion of this as a viable market for fuel-cell cars, Serfass said. With the nine SunHydro stations and other hydrogen stations scattered in New York and Washington, D.C., owning these alternative-energy cars would be much more convenient. "The auto manufacturers don't want to roll out a vehicle that will be entirely inconvenient for the owner to maintain," Serfass said.

fuel-cell cars are zero emission vehicles that run an electric motor using compressed hydrogen gas. The only by-product of the systems is water vapour. The only time CO2 is emitted into the environment is during the creation of the hydrogen, which typically is accomplished with natural gas.

All the SunHydro stations would use Proton Energy Systems equipment that creates hydrogen out of water using solar power, so there are no CO2 emissions. "Our goal would be to be 100 percent off the grid," said Michael Grey, president of SunHydro. Proton Energy Systems expects to be completed with its nine stations by 2012. After the first in Wallingford, next will be one in Braintree, Mass. followed by stations in Maine and Delaware, or perhaps New Jersey.

fuel-cell cars have a range of 200-450 miles, so with the hydrogen highway stations strategically placed, owners can drive the entire East Coast using the alternative fuel. The cost to fill a fuel-cell car with hydrogen is roughly equivalent to filling a car with gasoline, Friedland said. Hydrogen may cost as much as $5 per kilogram, but a kilogram of hydrogen gets more than twice the mileage of a gallon of gas, so a 5-kilogram hydrogen car can drive as far as a 12-gallon gasoline vehicle.

The Mercedes Benz B-Class F-CELL gets the equivalent of 71.3 miles per gallon out of its hydrogen system, according to the Mercedes Benz marketing materials. Central Connecticut already has one hydrogen fueling station on UTC Power's campus in South Windsor. The station serves the campus' fuel-cell vehicles and the CTTransit fuel-cell bus that has served Greater Hartford since 2007. Since opening in 2007 with the help of a $2.9-million Federal Transit Administration grant, the only time the UTC Power station sold fuel to a private customer was in 2008 when the Hydrogen Road Tour drove the East Coast. "CTTransit is expecting to get more (fuel-cell) buses this year, so the station will continue to be used," said Peg Hashem, spokeswoman for UTC Power.

The automakers plan to roll out their hydrogen fuel-cell revolves around locations where stations already exist, Serfass said. The first place will be Southern California followed by Northern California. Next will be Washington, D.C. and the greater New York City metropolitan area, which will include Connecticut. fuel-cell vehicles will be competing in the Connecticut alternative energy car market with the more visible electric vehicles, those cars running on a battery that is recharged by plugging it into an energy source, such as an outlet.

A group of utility companies including Northeast Utilities and United Illuminating have been working with Gov. M. Jodi Rell's Electric Vehicles Infrastructure Council to be prepared for companies such as General Motors, Ford and Nissan to introduce their electric cars into Connecticut next year. Northeast Utilities, which owns Connecticut Light & Power, already has three charging stations in place for electric cars and has been in talks with dozens of communities and customers about installing more, said Watson Collins, Northeast Utilities manager of business development.

An electric car charging station takes as little as a week to get up and running, so infrastructure can balloon quickly and prove to the automakers that Connecticut is a place to sell their cars, Collins said. "We are trying to say the infrastructure is here, and the consumers are here," Collins said. As for the hydrogen car, the majority of the market so far is outside the United States. More than 60 percent of hydrogen units sold by Proton Energy Systems are for foreign use, Friedland said. The company believes this country can have a viable hydrogen car market, but the manufacturers and the consumers have to be convinced of that.

"Removing hydrogen as a viable alternative energy option is already a mistake," Friedland said. The Wallingford hydrogen fueling station is expected to be finished in June, and Proton Energy Systems will have a showcase at the grand opening with fuel-cell cars. "The other key to this is education and outreach," Friedland said. "As people see it, they fear it less."

Snowy Hydro refit is powering ahead

Canberra Times
Monday 24/5/2010 Page: 2

By any measure, judgment day is an ambitious timeline. Sixty years ago men blasting tunnels through the Snowy Mountains set themselves such a towering goal, singing, "Roll on your way until judgment day, Snowy River roll." Long after the echoes had died away and the dust cleared, seven major power stations, 16 dams, and 145km of interconnected tunnels still fill the country with pride and generate about 70% of Australia's renewable energy.

In the midst of a $400 million upgrade of the post-war project, Snowy Hydro's modernisation engineer-in-charge Darren Davis likens the overhaul to a brain and heart transplant. He said his predecessors designed the Snowy's machinery to be dismantled and upgraded so it could be renewed and would last until judgment day. Smaller and smarter components are replacing ageing circuit breakers, high voltage transformers and cables. New turbine runners are optimising generation capabilities and improving efficiency. "Digging back through records we've found strip down procedures, diagrams, drawings and designs of jigs and fixtures," Mr Davis said.

The highest of all the Snowy's power stations is a run-of-the-river power station at Guthega. The scheme's first and smallest power station built in the 1950s, Guthega's floor is littered with history. An English Electric Co, engine sits at the foot of a turbine displaying a sign saying it was made in Britain. Two turbines and ancillary equipment have been working away for 60 years at the foot of a 246.9m drop from Guthega Dam, generating as much power as the wind farm at Lake George.

Now 40 specialist engineers, tradespeople and contractors are overhauling 1920s-designed machines and pulling out poor-quality post-war steel showing signs of fatigue. "It was well and truly due for a birthday," Mr Davis said. "We have a fairly robust condition assessment process before we make the decision to go into overhauls, some of the conditions we can't find until we strip down machines." A mix of national and international hydro companies, suppliers and skilled workers in electricity generation will take about seven years to complete the work.

Replacing turbine runners is straightforward but time consuming. Only one of the two units at Guthega will be out of service at any time. "It takes its about 18 months to two years from the time we decide to upgrade a unit, get the runner ready to install.There's a long, long process of computation fluid dynamics and scale models before we get full-size units." Each generating unit rated at 30MW will produce at least 34MW after the upgrade and will be up to 5% more efficient.

While wind and solar energy are attracting much investment in renewable energy, hydro power's role remains critical, according to Mr Davis. "I don't quite understand why hydro does not get the same kudos as wind or solar, you get far more power out of hydro than wind or solar. "With wind you are talking one or twoMWs per machine, we have machines that have 300MWs per machine - you have to build a lot of wind machines to get the same output. "We have a limited fuel supply, we can't run all the time because we run out of water, but we can torn it on and off. Wind has an unlimited but uncertain supply."

While Snowy Hydro's power would come on in two minutes, gas-fired stations could take up to 30 minutes and coal-fired stations could take ]tours. "Peaking is our forte, that fits neatly with a limited fuel supply, we don't have a lot of water, we are best using it at the peak." Guthega's upgrade is being commissioned this month and will be returned to service in June.

Hiccups in capturing Wave Power

Monday 24/5/2010 Page: 26

THERE are so many prototypes being built or planned to capture wave energy that there seem to be as many shapes and sizes as you might find in a children's play box.

But there's one fundamental choice that distinguishes the offering: should it float on the water or be installed on the sea floor? Noone's done quite enough research and testing to discover which will be the most effective, and there seems good argument for both. One thing you don't want, however, is for your floating machine to sink to the bottom, or vice-versa.

The developers and financial backers of Oceanlinx's wave generation unit would have been mortified last week when its third-generation prototype, the Mk3PC, broke its moorings just off the industrial city of Port Kembla, and crashed into a nearby breakWater and sank, less than two months after the country's first grid-connected wave plant was officially launched.

The company is putting on a brave face, saying that enough data had been gleaned from the unit during its short period of operations, when it had performed at and even beyond expectations, for them to move ahead with a full-size model. It says the one-third-scale prototype, at 30m by 10m, and 170 tonnes, was only built to withstand 4m waves and this was easily exceeded last weekend. The full-scale model will be built to withstand 30m waves, the company says.

Oceanlinx is not the only wave energy developer to suffer such a misfortune. Finnevera lost its Aquaboy wave energy device in October 2007 because of a bilge pump failure. OPT, which has been chosen by the federal government to build Australia's first large-scale wave energy plant in Victoria, lost a device in 2002 it snapped when being towed into place.

Such mishaps can only be expected while new technologies are being developed, particularly in the harsh marine environment. Which is why Britain, in contrast to Australia, has gone for multiple projects, and its programs include Crown Estate's £4 billion ($6.9bn) investment to foster 10 different wave and tidal technologies and nursery sites at the marine energy centre in Scotland, and a new wave hub in Cornwall.

Two new-generation technologies have been unveiled in the past week, including a 230m-long, 1500-tonne "sea snake" developed by Pelamis Wave Power and energy firm E.ON. The extraordinary machine, which lies semi-submerged, is to be towed from London to Scotland next month. Just imagine 300 of those lying off the coast in a single array.

The other model was Aquamarine's "sea oyster," a 26m x 16m device that is attached to the ocean floor and has a large hinged flap that acts like a pump driven by ocean energy. Britain's fascination with offshore power can be partly explained by a report released last week that says the country has offshore energy resources, including wave, tidal, offshore wind and floating wind, equivalent to its North Sea oil and gas reserves.

The report, prepared by Boston Consulting and backed by the Offshore Valuation Group, a coalition of industrial and government organisations, paints three different scenarios: one where enough is developed to satisfy one half of Britain's energy needs; a second where it becomes a net electricity exporter via a European super grid; and the third where it becomes a net energy producer.

Wave and tidal energy sources would contribute a small but critical amount of this energy of up to 45GWs comparable to Australia's total current energy capacity with most coming from floating offshore wind turbines. "The UK is now most of the way through its first great offshore energy asset, our stock of hydrocarbon reserves," the report says. "The central finding of this report is that our second offshore asset, of renewable energy, could be just as valuable. Britain's extensive offshore experience could now unlock an energy flow that will never nun out."

RET generates industry response

Weekend Australian
Saturday 22/5/2010 Page: 5

THE enlarged renewable energy target has seen an eight-fold increase in plans to build green generation in Australia, according to AGL Energy, with the dominant technology being wind power.

Speaking to a utilities conference, Jeff Dimery, AGL Energy's group general manager for merchant energy, said the small scale RET program implemented by the Howard government was estimated four years ago to lead to just 1200MWs of new renewable generation being developed this decade.

AGL Energy now expected 9500MW of renewable generation to be constructed by 2020 as a result of the Rudd government scheme requiring 20% of consumption to be zero emission by the end of the decade. This will see a $30 billion investment in new power production. However, Dimery said, the future of renewable development is critically dependent on the government winning passage of amending RET legislation to rectify flaws in the initial scheme before federal parliament rises for the winter recess. The improved RET has also changed the outlook for gas generation, according to Dimery.

Four years ago, AGL Energy expected 5500MW of close-cycle (baseload) gas turbines to be built this decade plus 4500MW of open cycle (peaking) plant. The outlook now is for 5500MW of peaking plant to be constructed by 2020 with new baseload gas capacity falling back to 2800MW.

Australia has a world-class wind resource, said Dimery, with especially good opportunities for the eastern seaboard, where more than 85% of demand is located, in Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria, but the best sites for wind farms in Tasmania and South Australia are already taken. AGL Energy has commissioned 71MW of wind power at Hallett in SA, with two other systems totalling 164MW under construction there and a further 54MW farm possible at the site. It is also looking at building a 130MW wind farm at Redhill in SA. The company has 69MW of wind generation under construction in Victoria and has made a conditional "under review."

At the same conference Karen Moses, executive director finance and strategy at Origin Energy, said the company's modelling suggests that more than 6000MW of new wind capacity will be built by 2020 in the absence of a competitive alternative renewable technology. Longterm, development of emerging geothermal technology could provide a further large-scale renewable energy source.

In the absence of a price on carbon, direct action maybe needed to provide an incentive for coal-fired generation to close, Moses said, but this approach needs to be "market-based, nondiscriminatory and non distortionary." With a delay to the emissions trading scheme, she also expects attention to shift to energy efficiency as a means to cut carbon emissions, but Origin Energy sees the "plethora" of state-based schemes as a barrier to progress. "Although introduced with good intentions in Victoria, SA and NSW, these schemes are inefficient and costly for consumers."

Monday, 31 May 2010

IP's ruthless inefficiency maintains balance of power

Saturday 22/5/2010 Page: 2

IN TERMS of emissions per unit of energy produced it is the most polluting power station in the country, pumping out 3% of Australia's greenhouse gasses all by itself. Everybody wants the brown coal-fired Hazelwood power station closed down, the questions are: how soon, how much will it cost and what precedent will it set? Hazelwood, which supplies a quarter of Victoria's electricity, was one of the oldest, dirtiest, coal-fired power stations in the OECD in 2005 and is becoming an embarrassment.

Built between 1959 and 1971, the plant is however, making its owners - UK-listed utility International Power (92% ) and the Commonwealth Bank (8% ) - an embarrassing amount of money. Australia was the most profitable of IP's holdings last year, delivering 27% profit growth, without counting the boost from our strong currency One manifestation of global warming here is demand for more air-conditioning - a virtuous circle if you're a coalfired power generator.

IP CEO Philip Cox told investors in March that periods of "exceptionally high temperature" in Victoria and South Australia had helped boost power prices in 2009. Hazelwood got special mention for delivering "substantially improved availability compared to 2008." The plant's load factor - how much time it spent On - jumped from 75 to 85% and electricity prices rose from $43 to $45 perMW hour.

In the UK, IP's shares have, climbed steadily since the financial crisis and its credit rating is stable. Its AGM in London this week went smoothly. Hazelwood's bankers in Australia refinanced $742 million in loans in January (a short-term reprieve until June 2012 and at an interest rate 1% higher, which IP attributed to uncertainty about emissions trading).

In IP Australia's accounts, filed at the end of April, directors said they were unable to determine any financial impact of proposed climate policy on its Australian assets. (IP's Australian directors must be getting edgy about climate risk though; the company gave them extra indemnification this year.) IP subsidiary Hazelwood Power Finance reported that the carrying amount of assets whose value could be affected by the abandoned carbon pollution reduction scheme was $2 billion as at December 31 - up $26 million on a year ago. But an IP spokesman said this could not be taken as a direct valuation of Hazelwood, which is owned in partnership with a number of other IP subsidiaries.

During the CPRS negotiations, IP Australia offered early retirement of Hazelwood and 70% - owned stablemate Loy Yang B, if an amount was paid to keep equity and debt investors "commercially whole to a pre - CPRS valuation." Which meant, buy us out at book value - certainly not market value, because who would buy Hazelwood in 2010? Blurring the figures, IP said the enterprise value of the two stations was more than $4 billion combined.

Under the Electricity Sector Adjustment Scheme negotiated with then opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull, the government buckled to threats from coal-fired power generators to run down maintenance of the electricity supply, or even "hand back the keys" to plants. Hazelwood alone stood to receive permits worth almost $1 billion, analysts at Innovest calculated - and this was before the compensation in the scheme doubled, jumping by $4 billion to $7.3 billion. ESAS flouted the principles in the Garnaut report, which rejected "inadequate" arguments for compensation based on the loss of value of emissions-intensive assets, unanticipated regulatory change or sovereign risk.

The review agreed the Latrobe Valley was a special case, but said public financial assistance should be directed first to low-emissions coal technologies (matched by industry) and, second, to the workers and communities affected by a transition away from brown coal. The Government's ESAS, in contrast, was a straight allocation to electricity generators conditional only on their agreement to maintain a reliable supply of coal-fired power for another decade.

Even sceptical opposition leader Tony Abbott could do better than that. His Emissions Reduction Fund - to rise from $300 million to $1.2 billion a year by 2020 - would buy abatement projects volunteered by business. There is a wide expectation the fund would start spending in the Latrobe Valley. The Australia Institute estimates retiring brown-coal-fired power stations could create deep and early emissions cuts for as little as $6 per tonne. IP estimated the cost at $20-30 a tonne - still relatively cheap for the volume of abatement on offer.

IP's original offer remains on the table, but a spokesman said no negotiations were under way. As Hazelwood becomes a green cause celebre, everyone wants to throw money at IP. This month Environment Victoria stepped tip its campaign to close the plant by 2012. A report by Green Energy Markets said Hazelwood could be shut down and replaced with a combination of gas, renewables and improved energy efficiency for around $320 million a year - multiplying the plant's emissions (16.2 million tonnes a year) by a presumed carbon price of $20 a tonne. That would add $36 a year to their electricity bills.

But does IP deserve the money? The company was pushing its barrow again this week. Website CE Daily revealed a confidential IP submission that found its way to the Department of Climate Change and its website. It attacked a crazy idea from the PM's Energy Efficiency Taskforce to reform the National Electricity Market Management Company so that it promotes, rather than impedes, energy efficiency.

"(IP) rejects any proposal to introduce climate change policy, under the guise of energy efficiency measures, which has the potential to destroy the value of existing investments in the generator sector." IP says its quote was taken out of context and the company supports both energy efficiency and action on climate change. They didn't say: as long as it costs us nothing.

Ripping profits from power lines

Business Spectator
Thursday 20/5/2010 Page: 1

There's a pretty big reason why most energy utilities don't want to provide their consumers with greater access to energy usage data: they don't want to lose their business.

The global energy sector - a dull, regulated, protected and predictable industry - is facing its greatest upheaval, not from the threat of an emissions trading scheme or a carbon price, but from information hungry technology companies that want to turn the industry on its head by offering electricity to consumers for free, bundled in a package that could include home entertainment systems, household appliances or software management systems.

It has been estimated by management consulting firm McKinsey & Co that an investment of $US520 billion over the next 10 years could reduce national energy demand in the US by 23% and result in $US1.2 trillion in savings. Little wonder that the utilities sector - which has based its business model in selling as many electrons as it can - is stonewalling. International Power's rear-guard action to resist any government energy efficiency measures - it argues that any regulation that requires its heavy emitting Hazelwood and Loy Yang B power stations would destroy their value - reflects the fear in the sector.

But they are under attack, not just from environmentalists or government climate change policy, but other businesses that see an opportunity presenting itself as smart grid technology matures and the industry grapples with a potential lack of capacity. Last month, a group of 45 major US companies and organisations - including Google, Intel, GE, Whirlpool, and AT&T - asked President Obama in an open letter to promote greater consumer access to energy usage data. "By giving people the ability to monitor and manage their energy consumption, for instance, via their computers, phones or other devices, we can unleash the forces of innovation in homes and businesses," they said. And what they didn't say was that these companies could emerge to dominate the energy industry in ways that the utilities sector could never have imagined.

A report by Ernst & Young this week entitled Seeing Energy Differently underlines what's at stake for the utilities sector. It says about $US200 billion will be spent world-wide on smart grids in the next five years in response to the need to incorporate renewable energy sources, meet increased demand and improve efficiency and replace outdated infrastructure. How they manage that transformation could decide their future and how much third party corporates such as Google, Intel and others come to dominate the industry. EY defines the options as one of evolution or revolution.

In the former, EY sees the simple business of energy supply evolving into a new, sophisticated form of energy service, in which utilities form partnerships with third parties help consumers manage their energy use and react to prices to find the best deals. That way, they (the utilities) retain the power, so to speak.

Under the revolution scenario, the power and utilities companies come under competitive attack all along the value chain. New interactive customer relationships and new competitive models will allow third parties to enter the market. "This creates a revolution," EY notes. "Market rationalities and business strategies change completely." It could be exciting for the consumer, if less so for the utility. Which is why the likes of Google, GE, Intel, AT&T and Whirlpool are so keen on bypassing the utilities to get access to more information about energy usage.

By packaging offerings such as appliances, home entertainment and communications systems with an energy service, the likes of these companies don't lose business if the customer uses less energy, as they will be encouraged to do. Power utilities, however, have a business model that means less energy consumption equals less profit. That will have to change, and may need to do so quickly.

"The power utilities industry has no interest in revolution," says Helmut Edelmann, the German-based head of the global power and utilities smart program at Ernst & Young. But if a Microsoft, Apple or a Google can come up with a 'killer application' then there will certainly be a revolution. "They have got strong brands and could emerge as dominant players, at least on the consumer end of the business," Edelmann says.

Indeed, the EY report identifies exactly where the utilities are vulnerable. In home services, they are under threat from automotive, real estate, consumer product, media, entertainment companies that can provide home automation, electric vehicles and energy management services.

In billing and information, the threat comes from telecommunication, technology and retail companies specialising in monthly billing and energy consumption information, specialist metering companies will muscle in to the utilities market, telecommunication and technology companies will grab the communication and IT side of the business, industrial service companies will emerge to deliver electricity to the consumer, and clean-tech automotive and retail groups will provide decentralised and or renewable generation.

And then there is the prospect that the likes of Google, which has investment all along the value chain, will celebrate in the creation of a new 'energy internet' and try to put it all back together again under a single brand name. Their own, of course.

$300m Downer deals

Adelaide Advertiser
Friday 21/5/2010 Page: 66

INFRASTRUCTURE company Downer EDI has won new contracts, worth $300 million, across its engineering, rail and road divisions. Downer's engineering division has been awarded a $100 million contract for the design of 111 wind turbine generators at Collgar Wind Farms in central Western Australia, the company said. The company also has been given a contract by the Queensland Government's electricity network Powerlink to construct a transmission line from Yabulu South to Ingham in the state's north. The Downer Works division has secured a $50 million road surfacing and traffic control contract on Brisbane's Airport Link. In New Zealand, Downer announced it has secured a three-year contract to maintain emergency winter services on State Highway 5.

More dirty power, more dirty politics
Wednesday 19/5/2010 Page: 1

Why was it important for Australia to put a price-ANY price-on carbon? The Australian has a compelling answer today: The head of one of Australia's leading power companies has argued that the collapse of an emissions trading scheme and the subsequent lack of a carbon price means that Australia's next baseload power stations are likely to be coal-fired.

Origin Energy chief Grant King told the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association meeting in Brisbane that having a renewable energy target of 20% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2020 "made no sense" without putting a price on carbon. He said a carbon price of $20-$40 a tonne would be required to start making a gas-fired power station more economically viable than one fired by coal. More dirty power generation - when Australia wants to lead the world in cleaning up its act.

Labor's emissions trading scheme was a deeply flawed mechanism. But it was a start. And as Malcolm Turnbull - burnt and bitter by the ETS experience-pointed out last night, while both parties can achieve short term emissions reduction targets they fail to "indicate a pathway to longer term emission reductions beyond 2020." Like Turnbull's prime ministerial ambitions, on climate change, we are nowhere.

No proof wind turbines are bad for health: report
May 20, 2010

TORONTO - There is no proof that wind turbines are hazardous to your health, according to a report released Thursday by Ontario's top doctor. The report, titled "The Potential Health Impact of Wind Turbines," examined academic literature, government reports and studies in scientific journals on the green energy source dating back to the 1970s.

The studies - which came from Canada, the UK, Ireland, Italy and the United States - found no evidence that wind turbines led to negative health effects. "According to the scientific evidence, there isn't any direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects," said Dr. Arlene King, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer.

King notes in the report that research from 42 sources does not support claims by people near wind turbines who report dizziness, headaches and sleep deprivation. Furthermore, the study said, the noise coming from the turbines isn't loud enough to cause hearing impairment or any other health effect.

In the last few years, the Ontario government has supported wind-turbine use as a viable alternative to other energy sources in its effort to phase out Ontario's dependency on coal. "We do know that other technologies that enable us to have energy like coal fire plants, does have a known negative impact on human health, particularly on respiratory and cardiovascular disease," said King. The province currently has 690 wind turbines. Wind-turbine developments also figure in the energy plans of most provinces and territories in Canada.

Wind energy has been controversial from the offset, with much of the criticism coming from residents who complain of high noise levels, potential exposure to electromagnetic fields, shadow flicker that may cause seizures in epileptic patients, safety concerns about dislodged ice thrown from the blades and possible structural hazards if the turbine were to break down.

The report - which began in January - pointed out that guidelines set by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment ensure that these concerns pose little public risk because the turbines are installed a mandatory distance of at least 550 metres from a residence. Noise levels also do not exceed 40 decibels, which is the average sound level of a quiet office or a library.

Last month, a protest with 250 participants was held at the Ontario legislature to support a moratorium on industrial wind-energy projects. The motion put forth by Tory MPP John Yakabuski was aimed at trying to give municipalities the power to determine where such projects will be placed, and a delay in future projects until possible health effects could be fully investigated. It was later defeated in the Ontario legislature.

John Laforet, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, representing 43 citizen groups across the province, dismissed the report. "I think it's ridiculous," he said. "It's another rehashing of science everyone recognises as incomplete." Laforet said his group continues to call for a large-scale, long-term study done on wind energy before any more turbines are constructed in the province. But Robert Hornung, the president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, said the "best available scientific research" shows no need for further study.

In fact, he said, Canada lags behind other developed countries, including the United States and those in Europe, in the number of wind-energy projects, which have been credited in those regions with improving economic growth, rural development and addressing environmental concerns.

Hornung's association estimates that wind turbines power up to a million homes and businesses across Canada, including a third of that figure in Ontario alone.

Yet more evidence exposing the vacuous claims made by wind energy opponents.