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The latest industry news in Cleantech both in Australia and globally.



Australian Government Media Releases

Powercor signs agreement with China's Goldwind wind turbines for Australian wind farm (Morton's Lane).

November 15, 2011
Source: José Santamarta,

Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., Ltd. has signed agreements with Powercor Australia to connect 13 Goldwind 1.5 MW wind turbines to the Australian grid.

China's Goldwind wind turbines approved for Australian wind farm Goldwind's first wind energy project in Australia. Mortons Lane is Goldwind's first wind power project in Australia. The wind turbines will be located at Mortons Lane Wind Farm in Victoria's western district.

Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., Ltd. ("Goldwind" or the "Group", SZ Stock Code: 002202, HK Stock Code: 2208), a leading manufacturer of wind turbines and major provider of comprehensive wind energy solutions in China, has signed connection agreements with Powercor Australia to connect 13 Goldwind 1.5 MW wind turbines to the Australian grid. The wind turbines will be located at Mortons Lane Wind Farm in Victoria's western district. This significant step demonstrates that Goldwind's state of the art Permanent Magnet Direct Drive (PMDD) technology satisfies strict Australian grid codes.

Local network operator Powercor Australia performed the assessments required for grid connection.

"Mortons Lane is Goldwind's first wind power project in Australia. We're looking forward to providing more Australian customers with Goldwind's grid-friendly PMDD wind turbines that feature high reliability and power generation efficiency," said John Titchen, Managing Director of Goldwind Australia.

The Goldwind's PMDD wind turbine has a full power converter that provides continuous, stable performance allowing the turbine to operate in a variety of network conditions including the low capacity networks of western Victoria. Goldwind's low voltage ride through (LVRT) capability ensures connectivity to the grid despite grid disturbances.

Construction commenced at Mortons Lane Wind Farm in October 2011. The project will include 13 Goldwind GW82/1500 wind turbines (82 m rotor diameter and rated capacity of 1500 kW), with an annual generating capacity of up to 66.7GWh of renewably generated electricity. The turbines are scheduled for installation in February 2012.

Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., Ltd. (Goldwind) is the second largest manufacturer of wind turbines in China, and the 4th largest globally. With strong R&D capabilities, the company is the world's largest manufacturer of Permanent Magnet Direct Drive (PMDD) wind turbines, the industry's next generation technology. Goldwind is listed on both the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (stock code: 002202) and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (stock code: 2208).

As of September 30, 2011, Goldwind's accumulated sales capacity of wind turbine reached over 10 GW, equivalent to 8 million tons of coal saved per year, 19.95 million tons of carbon emissions reduced per year, or 10.93 million cubic meters of newly planted forest.

CitiPower & Powercor Australia is a combined electricity distribution services company. The group comprises of two electricity distribution networks, Citipower and Powercor Australia, which are operated under a single corporate structure.

Powercor Australia is Victoria's largest electricity distributor, which supplies electricity to regional and rural centres in central and western Victoria, and Melbourne's outer western suburbs. Powercor services approximately 700,000 distribution customers, and operates successful non-regulated businesses. CitiPower supplies electricity to more than 310,000 distribution customers in Melbourne's CBD and inner suburbs.

Clean Energy Bill
Australian Clean Energy Bill 2011
Source: Dept of Climate Change
September 13, 2011

Enhanced Renewable Energy Target Announcement
Source: Department of Climate Change
February 26, 2010

Source: CSIRO
December 22, 2009
Desalination in Australia report

Source: Austrade
May 12, 2009
Export Market Development Grants - Extra $50 Million to Guarantee 100 Per Cent Payouts in 2008-09

Source: Ausindustry
March 18, 2009

Boost for Start-up Companies and Jobs - Securing the Future Beyond the Financial Storm

March 6, 2009
Banks to Maintain Funding to Small Business Sector


February 18, 2009
Power turned on at largest solar system in Australia

December 10, 2008
Green light for Central Victoria Solar City

October 1, 2008
Solar knowledge shines in the desert

Coal is not so cheap

4 Oct 2011
By: Giles Parkinson

A new economic analysis published in the highly prestigious American Economic Review has made a damming assessment of the costs of pollution from fossil fuel industries, and concludes that coal is doing more harm to the US economy than good – and that doesn't take into account its climate impact.

The paper by respected economists Nicholas Muller, Robert Mendelsohn (Yale) and William Nordhaus (Yale), models the physical and economic consequences of emissions of six major pollutants (sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, ammonia, fine particulate matter, and coarse particulate matter) from the country's 10,000 pollution sources. It is an update of a previous study concluded in 2009.

It concludes that the "gross external damages" (GED) from the sickness and death caused by the pollution, is larger than their value add in several key industries – coal- and oil-fired electricity plants, solid waste combustion, sewage treatment, stone quarrying, and marinas!

The most damning assessment is of coal, which is fingered for about $53 billion in damages a year. This estimate does not include climate change and uses a conservative estimate of health risks. The authors say that coal's damages bill ranges from 0.8 to 5.6 times value added.

Instead of being cheap and affordable, the study finds coal is likely the costliest source of electricity. Which is not to suggest that it immediately be shut down, they say, but that it should be understood that for every one-unit increase in output, the additional costs are higher than the revenues.

The paper is timely in the context of the US political debate, where the Republican right and business groups have been attacking the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate those emissions – which in the absence of a cap-and-trade scheme or a carbon tax is about the only method available to reduce greenhouse emissions. The EPA, and the White House, reasons that if you cut back on major pollutants, you can cut back on greenhouse emissions by default.

And it also puts an interesting perspective on any cost/benefit analysis. As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman noted in a column this week:

“At one level, this is all textbook economics. Externalities like pollution are one of the classic forms of market failure, and Econ 101 says that this failure should be remedied through pollution taxes or tradable emissions permits that get the price right.

“What Muller et al are doing is putting numbers to this basic proposition – and the numbers turn out to be big. So if you really believed in the logic of free markets, you'd be all in favour of pollution taxes, right?"

And then Krugman laughs, noting that today's American right "doesn't believe in externalities, or correcting market failures; it believes that there are no market failures, that capitalism unregulated is always right. Faced with evidence that market prices are in fact wrong, they simply attack the science."

Interestingly, the lobby groups seeking to limit the scope of the EPA's power are now questioning the EPA's assumptions on electricity reliability – a common theme in the debate about the future of coal-fired generation in Australia. The coalition's petition contends the EPA is rushing to judgment and questions the EPA's assumptions on electric reliability.

As another aside, Bloomberg's monthly Markets Magazine, has an interesting and detailed insight into Koch Industries, the secretive US conglomerate controlled by the wealthy Koch brothers (each worth around $US20 billion), which has been underwriting the Tea Party campaigns, the fights against government regulation, as well as the work of many climate sceptics, denialists and delayists.

Here's the conclusion of the Bloomberg article: “For six decades around the world, Koch Industries has blazed a path to riches – in part, by making illicit payments to win contracts, trading with a terrorist state, fixing prices, neglecting safety and ignoring environmental regulations. At the same time, Charles and David Koch have promoted a form of government that interferes less with company actions.” Bloomberg, remember, is a staid publication. It's worth a read.

Eastern Europe the new field of dreams

September 19, 2011
By: Barry FitzGerald
Source: Sydney Morning Herald

THE mining boom means that competition for prospective ground is tighter than ever. Add in soaring labour costs and the increasing difficulty explorers experience in passing through native title and environmental clearance hoops, and it is a wonder that anyone explores here at all.

There is an alternative - go overseas. That's just what an ever-increasing band of ASX-listed explorers have been doing in recent years. The Australian industry's presence across Africa, and to a lesser extent south-east Asia and Latin America, reflects just how tough the competition here has become.

The next exodus could well be to eastern Europe. Apart from there being much less competition there for prospective ground, an operator at a mine over there driving a truck or working in the treatment plant thinks himself lucky if he gets take-home pay of $500 a month.
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Compare that to the Pilbara and the Queensland coal fields where a broom pusher can score a pay packet of $6000 a month. Good luck to them, too. Working as much as two weeks on before having a week off is a job description that can convince most people that there is more to life than money.

But back to eastern Europe where the race to live like the rest of us is on in earnest. And when it comes to opportunities waiting for some Aussie know-how in exploration and mining, the place is ripe for the picking.

A little Perth-based thing called Sultan Corporation (ASX: SSC) found that out during the week when it struck a deal to pick up an exploration project in south-west Poland, hard up gainst the world-class copper mining operations of the 30 per cent state-owned KGHM.

Sultan's Bogdan exploration project covers an area of 42 square kilometres. Despite its location near the KGHM operations and their current annual copper output of more than 500,000 tonnes, the Bogdan tenements have seen precious little exploration - one hole in fact.

The previous owner was more interested in its coal potential. But the single hole that was drilled did punch through the coal seam to hit some promising KGHM-type mineralisation from about 300 metres depth.

It is early days but expect Sultan to be moving quickly to firstly twin that hole and then to punch in some more to confirm that Bogdan is worth pursuing.

What is known as this stage is that Bogdan has been picked up for a song compared to what would have been required had it been sitting in Australia.

Bogdan follows Sultan's earlier eastern Europe push with the acquisition of the Monty polymetallic deposit in Montenegro, again at a knockdown price and in a country where the corporate tax rate is all of 9 per cent. Expect more moves by the company into eastern Europe.

Sultan last traded at the princely price of 1.9¢ a share. It has 1.73 billion shares on issue, so its market cap is not as small as you might think at $33 million.

The tongues were wagging on Friday about what might be going on at Tiger Resources (ASX: TGS), the Perth-based group that recently became a copper producer from its high-grade Kipoi project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Unlike the rest of the copper stocks, which have been retreating in response to the red metal's fall to less than $US4 a pound, Tiger put on 3.5¢ or 7.7 per cent to close off Friday at 48.5¢ a share, giving it a market capitalisation of $325 million.

What's more, volume in the stock was unusually strong at more than 13 million shares. No need for a ''please explain'' from the ASX just yet, but you can bet the stock is going to be closely watched in the days ahead.

Now Tiger did earn a new stripe recently by being added to the S&P/ASX 300 index, making it a stock that the index-hugging fund managers out there can now buy. But the bet is that there is more to the sudden interest.

Tiger last updated the market on Kipoi's performance in August when it said that in the month of July the operation did pretty much as was expected, renewing confidence that there would be a super quick payback of its $US33 million capital cost.

That's all well and good, but again does not explain the sudden burst of interest in the stock. A more likely explanation is the expectation that Tiger's major shareholder, the commodities trader Trafigura with 28 per cent (fully diluted), could look to exit its position, putting Tiger into takeover mode.

Trafigura has already done much the same at ASX-listed Anvil Mining (ASX: AVM), the long-time DRC copper producer/developer that has a market capitalisation of $1 billion. While Trafigura has not said anything on its Tiger stake, it has told Anvil that it no longer considers its 39 per cent stake (fully diluted) in the company to be a core asset, which sort of means it is for sale at the right price. The potential to put Anvil/Tiger together is clearly on. Such a combination would create a powerhouse in the DRC copper belt, if that's your fancy. If not, it is bound to attract the interest of any number of Chinese groups and the more adventurous of the Western world miners looking for some immediate growth ahead of copper, which - according to just about any analyst you speak to - is going into supply shortage for the next five years or so.

IT WAS a pity that the shakedown in copper equities in response to the metal's price retreat came when it did for David Sargeant's Empire Resources (ASX: ERL).

Its release of some impressive hits from its A Zone prospect near its flagship Just Desserts deposit some 80 kilometres south-west of Sandstone in Western Australia were ignored by the market. Its shares remained in a holding pattern around 9.1¢ a share for a market cap of about $12 million.

That is despite the four metres grading 4.68 per cent copper and 0.5 grams a tonne gold from A Zone, confirming the company is on to a region with the potential to host a number of decent-sized volcanogenic massive sulphide ore deposits, decent sized for a company of its size at any rate.

As it is, A Zone and Just Desserts (1.07 million tonnes grading 1.82 per cent copper and 0.78 g/tonne gold) VMS form part of the group's Yuinmery project, which sits in the middle of the Golden Grove and Jaguar VMS operations owned by others. More assay results are on the way for A Zone.

Is Abbott starting to feel the heat?

September 15, 2011
By:Rob Burgess
Source: Climate Spectator

Now that the 18 bills constituting the government's Clean Energy Futures package have entered the gladiatorial pit we call the House of Representatives, the frailty of Tony Abbott's political future is becoming more clear.

While he stands with shield and sword ready in that sandy arena, Malcolm Turnbull sits high in the Emperor's box eating grapes and wondering, "shall I speak or shan't I?" His late scratching from the parliamentary debate yesterday was a delay in any open hostility against the man who deposed him, but it does not rule it out.

Turnbull will, at some point, stretch out one arm, his thumb hovering in a horizontal position, before surveying the chanting crowd and turning said appendage up or down. Whether or not he speaks on the carbon package, he is not a man to be silenced outside the chamber. A Turnbull verdict could come at any time.

In this battle there is both symbolism and the cold, hard steel of political action. Turnbull possesses the popular appeal to wield both weapons – the symbolic attack would involve voting with the Coalition against the bills, while heaping praise on the package inside or outside the chamber.

But the more concrete assistance would come if the Coalition's tireless campaign to crack any Labor backbencher, or independent crossbencher (Wilkie, Oakeshott or Windsor, since Adam Bandt's position could never be shifted) succeeded. There would be a kind of poetry to the scorned former leader crossing the floor, or defecting to the crossbenches if either the bills were about to be defeated, or the government was set to fall before the bills were passed.

What happened after either of these scenarios would surely be less important. The bipartisan deal struck between Turnbull and PM Rudd in 2009 would, in large part, have been honoured. Turnbull could retire from public life knowing that his moral commitment to mitigating the risk of global human and ecological disaster had been fulfilled.

And where would either scenario leave Tony Abbott? With the carbon package made law before Christmas, and taking effect from July 2012, there would still be just enough time for the costs of the package to be measured by econometricians, debated by economists and twisted into political messages by both Labor and the Coalition. The theoretical cost, as we discovered in July, is small – adding a one-off CPI increase of 0.7 percentage points and, according to Treasury modelling, having very little impact on the rate of GDP growth or job creation over time.

In short, the modelling expects the 'impact' of the tax to be a political fizzer. Nothing to see here folks.

That is not to argue that Labor's fortunes will rise after the legislation is enacted, so much as Abbott's personal fortunes will fall. He has staked his political life on defeating or repealing the 'great big new tax' but the second part of that promise is less stirring than the first. Voters will be forgiven for wondering why Abbott should maintain the carbon rage from the start of 2012 to whenever an election is called in 2013, when much more pressing issues will cover the front pages of newspapers.

The obvious distraction will be boat arrivals. We have witnessed an astonishing outflanking of the Coalition on this highly emotive issue – Abbott, day by day, is making himself more firmly the opponent of the legislation that will 'stop the boats', one of his key 2010 election promises.

As boat numbers rise through 2012, Labor will have an almost water-tight case to prosecute – that had the Malaysian solution been allowed to operate, via bipartisan support for legislation to overturn the recent High Court ruling on deportation of asylum seekers, the boats would have stopped.

The 'virtual turnaround' of the boats promoted by Julia Gillard would, says the Department of Immigration, likely be as effective as the ugly and inhuman 'at sea turnaround where safe to do so' that worked so well under the Howard government. Indeed the virtual turnaround is all that is left, since Indonesia stopped accepting the boats Australia sent back.

So boats will dominate many of the 2012 news cycles. But that will not be the only emotive issue filling pages; the mineral resources rent tax now looks set to get its moment in the arena in early 2012, with a constitutional challenge from the likes of Andrew Forrest following not long after. With the latest polls putting support for increased tax/excise payments for miners running at around two-thirds in favour, there will be plenty of mining-tax front pages.

Strange twists in political history, though never expected, seem always to arrive. So I will not forecast any certainty to the carbon tax passing, and the inexorable decline of the Abbott leadership.

However, like climate change itself, the facts point to a very high probability of these things coming to pass. If I were Tony Abbott, I'd be casting about for risk mitigation strategies before the real heat arrives.

Why wind is cutting energy costs

September 5, 2011
Source: Giles Parkinson

The most common critique of wind energy, and renewables in general, in the mainstream media and anywhere the issue is discussed is that it is expensive.

The problem is, this is only half true. Or at least, it only tells half the story. While the levelised cost of energy from wind farms is higher than that of baseload coal and gas, the deployment of wind energy here and overseas is having a surprising impact on energy market prices: it is causing them to fall.

And it's not the only myth that a new analysis of the South Australian market has busted: wind is succeeding in displacing coal, it is also having a dramatic impact on the state's energy emissions, and it doesn't need anywhere near as much back-up generation as some like to claim.

The International Energy Agency wrote on the price impact earlier this year – and we reported on it – when it cited the case of Ireland, where wind energy is causing wholesale prices to fall by around €74 million; the same as the cost of feed-in tariffs to support the financing of wind power and the associated balancing costs.

Now Windlab Systems, the CSIRO spin-off that has developed the world's leading wind mapping technology and is now in the business of developing wind farms – including some in places in inland Australia where you wouldn't expect them – has produced a similar assessment of how its proposed 700MW Kennedy wind farm in north Queensland would impact pool prices in the state. But it says the cost benefits could be even greater.

According to modeling presented at a seminar in Sydney last week, a 700MW wind farm – which would be the largest in the country – would cost consumers $120 million a year from 2013/14 from the amount of renewable energy certificates that are used to subsidise green energy under the renewable energy target. (That figure is based on a REC price of $55/MWh, compared to around $40 now).

But the modeling also suggests that the amount of electricity generated by the wind farm would cause pool prices to fall by up to 9 per cent, reducing the average price in 2013/14 from around $67/MWh (a carbon price would be included by then) to around $61/MWh. The savings in costs to consumers would be $330 million, nearly three times the cost of the subsidy. There is a further cost benefit from a reduction in transmission losses, because the wind farm would be situated far closer to customers than current generators. Windlab estimates these savings to be around 5 per cent from the cost of energy.

So how does “expensive” wind deliver cheaper energy prices? By a mechanism known as the merit order effect, which has successfully delivered cheap electricity prices to Australia (and other countries) by allowing those generators with the lowest variable marginal cost (mostly, the cost of fuel) to get priority. The final price is set by the last generator needed to meet demand – the higher the demand, the higher the price paid by all.

What the MRET and other subsidies do is allow the wind farms to jump to the top of the queue, meaning less of the expensive generators are needed, and so the marginal cost that sets the pool price is cheaper. “It is actually a very efficient mechanism to capture those benefits,” says Richard Mackie, Windlab's general manager in Australia.

(It should be noted that some funny things do happen at night, when demand is low and coal generators, which don't like to be switched off, bid negative prices. The introduction of large amount of wind in SA has made this a more regular event, and this has added to the lower pool prices. Some wind farms have chosen instead to switch off capacity).

Unsurprisingly, the fossil fuel industry hates this. For decades, they have enjoyed a system where rising demand pushed prices up until a strong enough signal was given for more capacity to be built. Once it was, prices eased back again and so the process renewed itself.

The arrival of wind in the last decade, and the MRET, threw a spanner in these works. Apart from cutting their margins, it also means that significant baseload gas generation is less likely to occur unless coal capacity is removed, which is why some call for the MRET to be scrapped or reduced.

But doesn't this mean that wind is simply displacing gas, rather than coal, and not achieving so much in the reduction of emissions – two other accusations (other than price) that are often thrown at the wind industry?

Not according to another analysis conduct by Windlab, using data from the Australian Energy Market Operator of the South Australian market, which has the biggest penetration of wind anywhere in the world apart from Denmark.

There are more than 1150MW of wind turbines in SA, accounting for 21 per cent of nameplate capacity. Normally, that might be translated into around 5-10 per cent of overall electricity produced, depending on the wind conditions, because wind doesn't blow all the time.

But in SA, wind also accounts for 21 per cent of energy production – mostly because it has been displacing brown coal energy that is imported from Victoria. The brown coal generators know this, which is why they fought so hard to water down Victoria's renewable energy target and to argue against an upgrade for the interconnector linking the two markets – too much wind power is bad for fossil fuel profits.

The increased penetration of wind also helped the state record a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions. In 2005/06, when wind contributed just 5 per cent of the electricity produced, SA's emissions from electricity were 9.8 million tonnes of co2e. In 2010/11, when wind contributed 21 per cent, the emissions had dropped to 8mt/C02e, even though overall electricity production had increased around 6 per cent over the period. Windlab says most of this reduction, which translates into a 23 per cent cut in emissions intensity from from 0.72 to 0.55 tonnes of CO2e, can be attributed to wind.

But don't wind farms need massive amounts of back-up power from expensive and comparatively heavy-emitting open cycle gas turbine (OCGT) plants, also known as peakers?

Not in the case of SA. Windlab says 200MW of OCGT has been added to the state's grid over the last five years, compared to 763MW of wind, but much of that new peaking capacity is designed to cope with rising peak demand – driven by the increased use of air conditioners – which has risen by 370MW, or 23 per cent, over that period.

And here's another surprising statistic: the amount of electricity produced from peaking plants has actually fallen in the past five years, from 501GWh to 325GWh, despite the increased capacity and the rising peak demand. Not only has wind reduced imports of brown-coal generation from Victoria, it has also, counter-intuitively, reduced the need for peaking plants for much of the year – although not, it should be noted, at times of the highest peaks caused by extreme heat waves, when wind has mostly absented itself.

Wind has not needed anything near like-for-like backup, as some of the more absurd analyses from the anti-wind brigade pretend. Indeed, some of the peaking plants last year were used less than 1 per cent of the time – little changed from before wind's arrival.

There is no doubt, that a high penetration of wind energy like that which has occurred in SA is challenging to manage. But it can be done. In SA this is helped because there is a large amount of gas, baseload and otherwise, which offers more flexibility; and because there has been accurate wind forecasting (thanks to Windlab), which helps manage wind's variability. And the wind industry says there are demonstrable benefits: wind energy does reduce emissions, it cuts the pool price (sometimes by more than the cost of the original subsidy), it reduces transmission loss factors, and, of course, it brings in investment and jobs.

With the roll-out of wind poised to intensify, state governments are facing interesting choices. SA, with a vibrant wind energy sector, has proved to be a leader, but there is a question about how much it can grow, particularly without an upgraded interconnector. Queensland appears disposed to the creation of transmission links like the CopperString, from Townsville to Mount Isa, although the final decision will rest with the mining community. Victoria – which under the Labor government was credited with keeping the wind industry alive in Australia when it introduced a state-based renewable energy target after the Howard government refused to extend the national scheme – has now changed tack completely.

NSW is currently weighing its options – pulled in one direction by the prospect of $10 billion in new development, and heavily influenced in another by anti-wind groups such as the Landscape Guardians, who are apparently gaining extraordinary access to state ministers and are emboldened by their success in Victoria. Judging by the recent remarks of the state's premier and the energy minister, the latter group may be winning the debate. But the experience of SA should be instructive. Wind is not impossible to manage, and there are easier solutions to dealing with summer peaks than building new coal-fired power stations.

The true productivity of solar PV

28 Jun 2011
By: Dan Cass
Source: Climate Spectator

A review has found that the government’s carbon price negotiations are founded on emissions data for solar PV that may underestimate its cost effectiveness by up to a factor of 10.

The Australian PV Association (APVA) has done analysis of the recent Productivity Commission report being used by the government, Greens and independents in negotiations about a carbon price. The APVA findings show that solar PV could be between four and 11 times more effective as a way to cut greenhouse pollution than the Commission has calculated.

The Commission claims that the cost of emissions reduction achieved via solar PV is $432-$1043/tonne CO2. According to the APVA, the true figure is $90-$95/t CO2, depending on the installation location. This discrepancy is explained by the following errors in the Commission report:

1. The Commission has failed to note the rapidly declining costs of PV over the past four years. The cost of solar modules averaged $3.20/Wp (Watts peak) in 2010 and total prices for small systems averaged $6.50/Wp. Total costs have fallen from $9 in 2009, and $14 in 2001. The Commission overstates the true costs of PV by about 100 per cent.

2. The Commission assumes solar systems are an average size of 1.5kW. This is completely incorrect. Using more accurate figures from the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator (ORER), solar generates 453GWh, 32 per cent higher than the 344GWh estimated by the Commission.

3. Solar’s contribution to emissions reduction is calculated by the Commission is 317kt. Using the ORER corrections, the true figure is calculated to be 415kt.

4. The Commission fails to include extra value that solar electricity has by virtue of being produced at the point of consumption, which negates losses in transmission and distribution (and, where relevant, sse-of-system charges).

5. The Commission wrongly assumes that 50 per cent of solar electricity is exported to the grid and is thus subsidised by net feed-in tariffs (in the relevant states). In fact, the amount of power exported from 1.5kW systems typically ranges between 17-28 per cent. Households that use more power, export less. Bigger systems export more.

6. The Commission counts all the subsidies to solar but fails to count all the electricity generated. It appears to assume that the electricity is only being generated for as long as the subsidy lasts! In NSW the subsidy lasts for seven years, meanwhile the International Energy Agency uses 30 years for its life cycle analyses.

The fact is that solar PV electricity will almost certainly reach cost crossover in four years. At this point, it will be cheaper than grid electricity for the consumer, in major population centres. Crossover could reach Sydney as early as 2018 and Brisbane by 2015, depending on how quickly grid power costs continue to rise. Once this happens, the cost of abatement will be negative. Cutting emissions will save on electricity and thus become a positive stream of income for households.

Other independent studies around the world have come to the same conclusion about solar cost crossover. The race is on to get solar cheaper for the consumer than coal and gas in the case of Australia and in Europe and cheaper than both coal and nuclear for the USA and Japan.

Bloomberg reported on June 15 that James Prendergast, chair of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, says solar is already cheaper that grid power in Southern California and this will be widespread across the USA by 2015.

On May 26, Mark M. Little, the global research director for General Electric, told Bloomberg that solar should be cheaper than both fossil fuel and nuclear electricity as soon as 2014 in the USA.

On May 24, Reuters reported on a KPMG study that predicts solar will be cheaper than grid electricity for much of India by 2017.

Solarcentury told the Guardian on May 12 that solar will be cheaper than grid power in the UK as early as 2013.

On March 16, John Denniston, a partner at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Byers, said that within three years solar will be cheaper than grid power in Spain, Japan and major US states including New York, Florida and Texas.

What is even more disruptive for the dominant energy paradigm is the crossover point for baseload solar; the technologies that can dispatch electricity after the sun has gone down.

President Barack Obama’s Energy Secretary Steven Chu is in charge of the government's "SunShot" Initiative – named in homage to President Kennedy’s ultimately successful dream of landing astronauts on the moon within a 10-year timeframe. Obama’s SunShot aims to get baseload solar cheaper than grid electricity, by 2020.

The technology for this is not solar PV, but concentrating solar power (CSP) plus thermal storage, that will give it the ability to dispatch 12 to 17 hours of “baseload” power, when the sun is not shining and the plant is not generating.

Solar electricity is becoming cheaper so quickly that it will soon be cheaper than black electricity around the world. Australia’s international competitors are racing toward cheap solar but unfortunately our country is stuck in a time warp of misconceptions which say that solar is expensive and inefficient. The recent Productivity Commission Report used out of date data on solar, which makes its conclusions incorrect about that technology.

I look forward to the Productivity Commission urgently revising its figures and presenting that update to the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee. When that happens, we can have confidence that the Committee has all the information it needs to make the right decisions about solar’s role under Australia's carbon price package.

Renewable energy targets in doubt as expensive wind power runs out of puff

December 06, 2010
Source: The Australian

ABOUT $18 billion is needed for wind farm construction in Australia to meet government renewable energy targets.

But weak electricity prices and a troubled subsidy scheme threaten to jeopardise returns on projects.

According to Origin chief executive Grant King, about 7000 megawatts of new wind farm energy capacity will need to be built by 2020 to satisfy the government's objective to source 20 per cent of the nation's electricity from renewable means.

That represents a fivefold increase on current capacity levels.

King has plans for about half that himself, but the company appears only willing to proceed with these plans if conditions become more attractive.


Busting the baseload power myth

Baseload power is not a fundamental requirement of modern energy production, argues Dr David Mills.

December 2, 2010
Source: ABC News

For years, opponents of renewable energy have argued that traditional energy technologies — coal, gas and nuclear — are essential because they provide continuous baseload power.
Baseload sources of power operate day and night for most of the year, and this efficient use of turbines and generators reduces the cost of energy production.
Many traditional engineers insist that baseload is an absolute requirement for a comprehensive and cheap system, complemented by intermediate peaking and fast peaking plants to meet demand throughout the day.


Australia won't be waiting for the Government over the price of carbon!

November 23, 2010
From: Boyd Dale (

Whilst the Australian Government and its multi-party climate change committee continue to pontificate over the introduction of a price on carbon, it seems the private sector is making up its own mind.

In the last week several reports have made the news indicating that a clean energy model adds value to the corporate bottom line. WME this week reported that PriceWaterhouseCoopers stated that the number of sustainability reports has continued to increase despite the global financial crisis. It adds: “such reports have become critical to a company's credibility, transparency and endurance, with most companies now posting CSR information on their websites."

It has been over seven years since the initial 10 international banks signed the agreement that is now known as the Equator Principles and it's interesting to note that Westpac, ANZ and NAB are now signatories. The Equator Principles (EPs) are a voluntary set of standards for determining, assessing and managing social and environmental risk in project financing.

The Westpac Banking Corp has now demonstrated its commitment to these principles by becoming the first major Australian bank to publicly state that it will avoid emissions-intensive projects until some form of carbon pricing structure has been implemented. Westpac's statement, contained in its sustainability report, came almost immediately after a call for national and international policies to spur private investment into low-carbon technologies was issued by 259 of the world's largest global investors from North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa plus 33 Australian institutions which, collectively, have assets totaling over $15 trillion – more than one-quarter of global capitalisation.

The 33 Australian investors are members of the Investor Group on Climate Change and its chairman, Frank Pegan of Catholic Super, said: “Australia should implement a carbon price as soon as possible to attract investment and avoid being last in the low carbon race.”

An idea of just how close Australia is to being last came in a study published last month by Vivid Economics commissioned by the Climate Institute which stated that China had an effective carbon price eight times higher than Australia's and that the price in the US was three times higher.

Clearly, there is significant momentum building up in the private sector for certainty in the area of carbon emissions. That, together with the review recently undertaken on behalf of the Clean Energy Council that stated the strong dollar is a greater threat to the economy than any carbon pricing mechanism, serves to show that the real question is: How much longer will the government take to get through due process to convince itself, and the electorate, that it is jeopardising the prospects of Australia participating in the enormous economic opportunities offered by the low carbon economy?

2009 carbon emissions fall smaller than expected

November 21, 2010
By Richard Black Environment correspondent
BBC News

Carbon emissions fell in 2009 due to the recession - but not by as much as predicted, suggesting the fast upward trend will soon be resumed.

Those are the key findings from an analysis of 2009 emissions data issued in the journal Nature Geoscience a week before the UN climate summit opens.

Industrialised nations saw big falls in emissions - but major developing countries saw a continued rise.

The report suggests emissions will begin rising by 3% per year again.


Moss Capital launches Australia's first $100m Solar Fund

November 21, 2010
By Giles Parkinson

Moss Capital, the newly launched funds manager and advisory group founded by the former head of Macquarie Group's real estate business Bill Moss, is moving into the solar energy business and has announced the launch of Australia's first solar energy fund. Moss Capital says the $100 million Australian Solar Fund will invest in commercial and industrial scale solar projects which have long-term sales agreements for their power.

“Australia is already riding the wave of mineral, coal and gas sales, but there is one natural resource which in terms of raw energy puts them all in the shade – our sunshine,” Moss says in a statement. “The Australian Solar Fund takes advantage of positive market conditions and captures this resource of clean, emission-free energy to generate saleable power and returns for investors.”

The fund will provide fixed-term, fixed-rate loans and preferred equity to solar energy projects which have guaranteed power sales agreements with buyers such as local councils, blue chip property owners and electricity retailers. The head of energy and resources at Moss Capital, Martin Rushe, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker, said local councils and corporations recognise that commercial-scale solar power installations are a hedge against rising electricity prices. Moss Capital was founded in August last year by Bill Moss and Glenn Willis, the founder of Grange Securities and the former country head of Lehman Bros.

Sunny centre

Australian solar energy company Ingenero has completed the installation of the largest concentrated solar PV array in the country, a 450kW capacity plant at Alice Springs airport. The array features technology developed for the NASA space program, and will comprise 28 solar arrays that will track the sun across the sky, and magnify and concentrate the sun's rays by 650 times and focus the energy on triple-junction solar PV cells, which capture different frequencies of light and so are highly efficient, but are also extremely expensive (100 times more than normal cells).

Ingenero's general manager of generation Roger Whitby says this is the first time the technology has been used in Australia, and although they are paying more in capital, the company is getting a significantly higher yield. “It is one of the only CPV technologies in the world that is … able to be funded into medium and large scale projects by banks,” he said.

Whitby says CPV is highly sensitive to cloud cover and is best used in desert areas such as Alice Springs. “The costs could better solar PV in coming years, so it could be the technology of choice in deserts, although not on the coast,” he says. Ingenero will be using panels manufactured by California-based SolFocus, which was con-founded by their Australian chief technology officer Steve Horne. The array will provide more than a quarter of the airports electricity needs.

Australia Steps Up Renewable Energy Efforts

August 22, 2010

Australia has plans to build the biggest wind farm in the southern hemisphere by 2013, part of its scramble to fight climate change and harness its abundance of clean energy sources — wind, solar, waves, geothermal energy and bioenergy.

Renewable energy now supplies just 6 percent of power in Australia because the country has historically lacked the political and commercial will to pursue big renewable energy projects. And the very sources of Australia's clean energy — its vast outback and nearly 60,000 kilometers, or 37,000 miles, of coast — are major obstacles to linking new, remote power sources into the grid.

“It's a blessing and a curse,” said Matthew Warren, head of the Clean Energy Council, which represents more than 350 companies in renewable energy and energy efficiency fields.

“Australia is really at the top of the list, in the scale of the economy and the quality and scale of renewable resources,” Mr. Warren said. “But the grid issues are significant because we run a very, very large, long and thin grid,” he said.


Victoria to get wind farm worth $1 billion

August 12, 2010
Source: AAP

The largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere is to be built in Victoria's southwest.

The $1 billion Macarthur wind farm, which will produce enough energy to power more than 220,000 homes, is slated for completion by early 2013.

It will abate more than 1.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gases annually, the equivalent of taking more than 420,000 cars off the road every year.

Federal Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said the project would not have been possible were it not for the federal government's target of 20 per cent of the nation's electricity coming from renewable energy sources by 2020.


Latest tests clear bore water at Cougar Energy gas plant

August 3, 2010
Source: AAP

New tests have cleared bore water near a Queensland underground gas project of dangerous levels of cancer-causing chemicals.

But more tests will be needed before residents around the Cougar energy plant near Kingaroy, northwest of Brisbane, are allowed to resume use of bore water.

Cougar was forced to shut down its pilot project last month after the Queensland government learnt traces of benzene and toluene had been found in ground water at the site and a neighbouring property.

The Department of Environment and Resource Management says the latest underground water quality tests found levels of the two substances remain within Australian drinking water guidelines.


Victorian Government to close a quarter of Hazelwood power station

July 26, 2010
Source: AAP

The Victorian government will seek to shut down the state's largest brown coal power station under a plan to tackle climate change.

The proposal for the staged closure of the Hazelwood Power Station in the Latrobe Valley, in eastern Victoria, is part of a strategy to reduce carbon emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2020.

In its climate change white paper, released on Monday, the government proposes closing a quarter of the plant to slash emissions.


Underground coal gasification plant near Kingaroy shut down after cancer-causing chemical found in bores

July 16, 2010
Source: Ursula Heger and AAP

A QUEENSLAND underground gas project has been shut down and a government worker has been stood aside over underground water contamination.

Queensland's Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) has ordered Cougar Energy to stop its underground coal gasification (UCG) trial near Kingaroy after toxic chemicals were found in water from nearby bores.

An officer from DERM has also been stood aside for not acting sooner over the discovery.

Bores on up to 19 properties near Kingaroy are being tested for potentially dangerous chemicals after contaminated water was found near the site of the plant.

Testing of water bores at the Cougar Energy's underground coal gasification plant found traces of benzene, a known carcinogen, and the toxic chemical toluene.


Wong negotiates renewable energy plans

June 23, 2010
Sydney Morning Herald

The Rudd government is preparing to unveil a new climate action policy ahead of the next federal election, likely in a few months.

The government is under pressure from some of its own MPs to come up with an alternative to the carbon pollution reduction scheme which has been put on hold until at least 2013.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, when asked whether a major carbon reduction policy would be released before the election, told ABC Radio on Wednesday: "You'll see more on climate change from us."


Push for Hazelwood power station to close early

May 17, 2010

A BLUEPRINT on closure and replacement of Australia's most polluting power station by the end of 2012 has found it could be achieved for $320 million a year.

A report commissioned by Environment Victoria found the early closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station would cut the state's greenhouse gas emissions by 12 per cent and create hundreds of jobs.


BP could face $US8bn in damages from Louisiana oil spill

May 01, 2010
By Guy Chazan
The Wall Street Journal

BP said yesterday that it would honour all "legitimate claims" for damages stemming from the Louisiana oil spill, as the company's stock continued to fall amid investors' concerns about potential litigation and a total clean-up bill that could run well into the billions of dollars.

BP's share price has fallen by about 12 per cent on the London Stock Exchange since the crisis began, wiping some $US23 billion ($24.9bn) off its market value. Most analysts say the sell-off has been an over reaction, but it reflects deep uncertainty about the eventual costs of the disaster and its political fallout.


Rudd delays carbon scheme until end of 2012

April 27, 2010
The Age

Kevin Rudd has blamed an opposition backflip and slow progress of globalaction on climate climate government the change for the delay of the federal government's carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS).

But the prime minister says the said the government is till committed to meeting greenhouse emissions targets.

Mr Rudd on Tuesday said the government would now wait until the on end of 2012, when the current Kyoto commitment period ends, before implementing the CPRS.


Windmill Boom Curbs Electric Power Prices for RWE

April 23, 2010
By Jeremy van Loon (Bloomberg)

On windy nights in northern Germany, consumers are paid to keep the lights on.

Twice this year the nation's 21,000 wind turbines pumped out so much power that utilities lowered customer bills for using the surplus electricity. Since the first rebate came with little fanfare at 5 a.m. one October day in 2008, payments have risen as high as 500.02 euros ($665) a megawatt-hour, about as much as a small factory or 1,000 homes uses in 60 minutes.


New green projects slow to get started, despite surging REC market

April 19, 2010
By Giles Parkinson- The Australian

AUSTRALIA'S environmental markets may well have surged in recent months, but this is yet to translate into many of the new projects they are designed to finance.

The price of renewable energy certificates has jumped to a recent high of $48, and closed last week around $46, nearly 60 per cent above the lows reached last year as RECs from solar hot water heaters flooded the market.

The price has recovered after the federal government flagged changes to the renewable energy target (RET), fixing the price of RECs for small-scale installations, but keeping them separate from the main market for utility-scale projects.

But developers are still unwilling to commit themselves to projects until the final legislation is seen and passed, and analysts are now concerned that the legislation may be held up by a packed budget session, the healthcare package, possible Henry tax review legislation, and the election.


Energy prices will triple without a carbon price

April 14, 2010
Source: Giles Parkinson (Business Spectator)

Australians are being prepped for steep rises in energy costs — partly the result of the proposed emissions trading scheme. But that is not quite the whole story, according to Grant King, the CEO of Origin Energy.

He thinks the price of energy to consumers might be three times the current tariff by 2020 — a situation not inflated because we might have a carbon price, but because of the real possibility that we won’t have one.

King is one of the most refreshing of speakers about Australia’s energy future because he has a broader vision of the energy challenge than most and can explain it in layman’s terms. Granted, he does have a strong interest in pushing the case for gas, and his company has got a lot of it to sell from the coal seam gas reserves in Queensland.


Ministers tour biodiesel plant

Fiji Islands
April 13, 2010
Source: Fiji Sun

Fiji will soon benefit from biodiesel produced locally, says business tycoon, Hari Punja. It is a new company producing biodiesel.

“Our factory utilises state of the art American technology, “says Mr Punja who is the chairman of the Biodiesel Group (Fiji) Limited.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and his Cabinet ministers visited the biodiesel plant yesterday.

Mr Punja said usage of biodiesel keeps the environment clean, reduces fuel imports, grows the copra industry in Fiji and creates employment in coconut and bio diesel industries.

Managing director Ajay Punja, said over 300 vehicles were already using biodiesel.


Brightsource Energy Shoots For Australian Solar Flagships Project

March 28, 2010
by Energy Matters

The Australian is reporting this morning that US based BrightSource Energy has its sights set on building a large-scale solar thermal plant in Australia; to be partly funded by the Australian Government's Solar Flagships program.

BrightSource is no stranger to big ticket solar projects. The company, whose backers include Google, BP and Morgan Stanley, is actively developing more than 4GW of solar power projects in the USA's southwest, enough to power 1.4 million homes.

BrightSource states it now has more than 2.6 gigawatts of power under contract in the USA, including the two largest solar power agreements ever – a 1.3 gigawatt deal inked with Southern California Edison in 2009 and the same with Pacific Gas & Electric Company.


New ray of sunshine for solar power plant dream

March 17, 2010
Source: Rick Wallace- The Australian Newspaper

A COLLAPSED venture to build one of the world's largest solar plants in Victoria could be revived.

ASX-listed solar panel manufacturer Silex Systems yesterday finalised the purchase of the company behind the original plan, Solar Systems, and said it would proceed with the plant.

Solar Systems won approval in 2006 to build a $420 million, 154 megawatt photovoltaic solar plant near Mildura in the state's far northwest.

The venture folded when Solar Systems went into voluntary administration last September.

Federal and state governments had pledged $125m towards the plant, but almost none of the money had changed hands when Solar Systems collapsed.

Chief executive Michael Goldsworthy confirmed Silex had finalised the purchase of Solar Systems for $2m in cash and $18m in Silex shares.


Coconut power on Koro Island, Fiji

Fiji Islands
March 14, 2010
Source: Fiji Sun

A local company, the Taveuni Development Company (TDC), is commercially producing coconut biodiesel and other coconut products starting this month in Koro Island..

This was an initiative of the government and the Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, was the chief guest at the opening at Nacamaki village.

The opening on March 10 was a momentous occasion for the people of Koro. People from the 14 villages gathered at Nacamaki Village to witness the opening. They knew the biodiesel plant will bring about changes to the villages.


Breath of life for wind power after Rudd backflip

March 01, 2010
Source: Rick Wallace- The Australian

THE Rudd government's wind energy backflip will unlock billions of dollars worth of investment in new windfarms, the wind power industry says.

Wind energy companies Pacific Hydro and AGL nominated more than $6 billion worth of stalled projects in five states that could be revived after the federal government's decision to rejig its renewable energy scheme.

Proposed windfarms across the country had been put on hold amid an investment strike caused by the commonwealth's controversial inclusion of solar panels in the scheme.

The price of the certificates issued under the scheme has since crashed from $60 per MWh to about $35 because the heavily subsidised solar panels and heaters have distorted the market.


AGL Says Revised Clean Energy Plan May Spur Projects

February 26, 2010
Source: BusinessWeek

AGL Energy Ltd. may develop projects such as the proposed A$800 million Macarthur wind farm “much sooner rather than later” after the Australian government revised a plan to spur renewable energy investment.

Australia's largest electricity retailer has put more than A$1 billion of planned wind-power investments on hold because of uncertainty surrounding renewable energy certificates, Michael Fraser, managing director of Sydney-based AGL, said by phone today.


Wong splits renewable energy scheme

Feb 26, 2010
Source: ABC News

The Federal Government says it is making changes to its renewable energy target scheme to give industry groups more certainty.

The scheme will be split into two to separate large-scale renewable energy projects such as commercial solar plants, wind farms and geothermal from small-scale projects such as solar panels and solar hot water systems.

The Government says the changes mean the scheme is likely to exceed its target of 20 per cent of energy coming from renewable sources by 2020.

Small-scale projects will have a fixed price of $40 per megawatt hour for produced electricity.


Cities Prepare for Life With the Electric Car

February 14, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO — If electric cars have any future in the United States, this may be the city where they arrive first.

The San Francisco building code will soon be revised to require that new structures be wired for car chargers. Across the street from City Hall, some drivers are already plugging converted hybrids into a row of charging stations.


Algal power not so green after all, yet

January 28, 2010
Source: New Scientist

ALGAE have been touted as a solution to environmental worries over biofuels, but they may be a long way from providing a truly green option.

Unlike maize, soya beans and oilseed rape (canola), algal farms don't take up valuable farmland, so algae-based biofuels don't threaten food supplies.


$30 Oil? New analysis predicts oil price crash based on natural gas pricing

December 20, 2009
Source: Biofuels Digest

$30 Oil? Natural gas analyst says oil price crash may be in sight. An analysis published in Ground Report suggests that oil prices are ready to crash to as low as $30 – undercutting the floor of first-generation biofuels pricing and putting advanced biofuels parity pricing in jeopardy.

True? Not true? The analytic framework is compelling, by focusing on the differential between oil and gas prices.


Weak Copenhagen deal not enough: repeat the class

December 19 2009
Source: Australian Conservation Foundation

The Copenhagen deal is disappointingly weak, falls well short of a treaty that would avoid dangerous climate change and still needs serious work.

“This is a ‘wing and a prayer' deal. While it does commit to keep warming below 2 degrees, it leaves all the hard decisions on how to get there to the fate of ongoing negotiations next year,” said Don Henry, Executive Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation.


Australian-Built Toyota Hybrid Camry

December 14, 2009
Source: Green Pages Australia

Toyota Australia has launched the first ready-for-sale hybrid vehicle to be built in Australia.

The Hybrid Camry increases consumer choice by giving motorists the option of buying an Australian-made hybrid.

It expands Australia's manufacturing capacity today, and provides a platform for future growth


Daewoo wins German order for wind turbine vessels

South Korea
December 4, 2009
Source: The Motorship

South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering has won a $300 million order from a unit of German utility firm RWE Innogy to build two wind turbine installation vessels. The two vessels are slated for delivery at the end of 2011.


At a glance: guide to climate change and ETS

November 26, 2009

Climate change, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, Copenhagen and the Coalition. It's been a few weeks of Cs in Canberra.

But what is the CPRS about? What is the science that underpins the necessity for such an action? Why does Australia need a carbon trading deal in place before going to the global climate summit in Denmark? Should we care about what happens in some wintry Scandinavian capital far away from sunny Sydney?

Emissions trading aka the CPRS - what's it all about?

The Federal Government has proposed a "cap and trade" system. It means greenhouse gas emissions would be limited to a particular amount: the cap. So if there is a cap of 400 million tonnes to be allowed to be emitted for a certain year, then 400 million emissions units will be issued that year. These units can be traded, with their price determined by the market.
Each year, there will be fewer permits, meaning that greenhouse gas pollution is slowly reduced.


New South Wales To Have Australia's Largest Feed-In Tariff

November 13, 2009
by Warwick Johnston, SunWiz

The Premier of Australia's largest state, New South Wales, recently announced a gross feed-in tariff (FIT) of AU $0.60/kWh for seven years. This tariff is approximately four times the rate residential customers pay for electricity, and is available for all small consumers of electricity (below 160 MWh/year consumption). This gross FIT, which will pay on the entire amount of solar generation from systems up to 10 kWp, modifies the initially proposed net Feed-in Tariff, which would have run for 20 years.

The Australian states of Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland all have net FITs, which pay a premium only for power export to the grid. This incentivises PV owners to install large solar power systems and to minimise daytime power consumption in order to maximise revenue from power exports.

read more..

Solar Bonus Scheme for NSW

November 10, 2009
Source: NSW Government- Industry and Investment

The NSW Government has recently announced new details for the design of the Solar Bonus Scheme set to commence on 1 January 2010.

The Solar Bonus Scheme will credit participating customers with a "gross" feed-in tariff rate of 60 cents per kilowatt hour for all the electricity that their eligible solar photovoltaic (PV) system or wind turbine generates. The Scheme will operate for seven years.

read more..

Renewable Energy Feed In Tariffs Vs. Emissions Trading

November 2, 2009
Source: Energy Matters

According to a study by Deutsche Bank’s Asset Management (DeAM) division, emissions trading hasn't stimulated renewable energy investment and energy efficiency and governments should instead focus on introducing feed-in tariffs.

A feed-in tariff is a premium price paid to an electricity generator (which can be a commercial enterprise or the owner of a residential solar power system) to feed renewable energy onto the grid.

Quotes from Deutsche Bank’s Global Climate Change Policy Tracker report:

"While feed-in tariffs have been criticized for their cost in some geographies, they have a track record of successfully scaling up renewable generating capacity."

read more..

Soros to invest AU$1.1bn in green technology

October 12, 2009
Source: The Australian

BILLIONAIRE George Soros, looking to address the "political problem" of climate change, says he will invest $US1 billion ($1.1bn) in clean-energy technology and create an organisation to advise policymakers on environmental issues.

read more..

Australia - World's 2nd best financial centre

October 9, 2009
By John Shovelan

Australia has overtaken the US as a top global financial centre, according to the World Economic Forum survey released today. Australia has come in second behind the UK, with the US losing its top perch and placed third.

Australia's position in the World Economic Forum's rankings as a global financial centre jumped from 11th to 2nd finishing just behind the UK. The forum's rankings are based on over 120 variables including institutional and business environments, financial stability, and size and depth of capital markets.

read more..

U.S. primed for largest deployment of green cars

October 2, 2009
Source: Ecoseed

The 4,700 Leaf cars for deployment, dubbed as the world's first affordable and zero-emission cars, are lithium-ion battery powered.

The Electric Transportation Engineering Corporation and the Energy Department finally sealed a $99.8 million deal on Thursday that would herald the largest deployment of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure networks in the United States.

Collaboration between Nissan Motors and smart grid software company GridPoint Inc. was announced as early as April and August.

Nissan is set to release 4,700 of its Leaf electric vehicle, as well as install over 10,000 220-volt chargers and 260 fast-chargers.

read more..

E.P.A. Moves to Curtail Greenhouse Gas Emissions

September 30, 2009

Unwilling to wait for Congress to act, the Obama administration announced on Wednesday that it was moving forward on new rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from hundreds of power plants and large industrial facilities.

President Obama has said that he prefers a comprehensive legislative approach to regulating emissions and stemming global warming, not a piecemeal application of rules, and that he is deeply committed to passage of a climate bill this year.

But he has authorized the Environmental Protection Agency to begin moving toward regulation, which could goad lawmakers into reaching an agreement. It could also provide evidence of the United States' seriousness as negotiators prepare for United Nations talks in Copenhagen in December intended to produce an international agreement to combat global warming.

read more..

World's largest solar power station in doubt

September 08, 2009
Source: AAP

A BID to build the world's largest solar power station in Victoria's northwest is in doubt after the company involved was placed in receivership.

The $420 million project, planned by Solar Systems, was to have produced power for about 45,000 houses and has provided work for 150 people, The Age newspaper said.

Administrator Stephen Longley of PricewaterhouseCoopers said he hoped to have news for the workers by the end of the week.

read more..

Power plant takes shape

August 29, 2009
Source: Fiji Times

INDEPENDENT power plant company Iviti Renewable Disenergy Power Plant (IRD) hopes to secure the land lease for a reserved area in Cuvu, Fiji where ground work is expected to commence in December this year.

This follows a power purchase agreement that was signed on Wednesday between the IRD and the Fiji Electricity Authority that will result in IRD generating 10 megawatts of electricity or 87 million units every year from rubbish and waste.

read more..

DSME Seeks to Enter Wind Power Business

August 27, 2009
Source: DSME

South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) publicly announced that the shipbuilding company has acquired 40,000 shares of DeWind Turbine, a U.S.-based wind power company, for 49.8 billion won (roughly $40 million) to advance into the wind power business.

DeWind Turbine specializes in design and technology development of wind power turbines. The company successfully developed 750 kilowatt, 1.5 megawatt and 2 megawatt turbines to provide 710 turbines (760 megawatt) in China, Europe and South America.

DSME has previously unveiled its plan to make a full-fledged entry into the wind power turbine business, following its acquisition of DeWind Turbine for $50 million on August 12. DSME made a belated entry into the business compared with other companies such as Hyundai Heavy Industries and Samsung Heavy Industries; however, the latest acquisition enabled the shipbuilder to save the time needed for technology development and confirming its marketability.

“By combining DSME’s know-hows in design and DeWind Turbine’s wind power technology, we are confident to make the leap to the top in no time,” and added, “Starting from North America, our plan is to become the tenth largest company by 2015 and third by 2020 from securing 15 percent of the global market by 2020,” said the chairman of DSME.

To develop a new model, DSME plans to make an investment of $70 million. Furthermore, DSME will build a production plant in North America. The company’s blue print of the new business calls for creating a wind power station with 20 units of 2 megawatt turbines in Texas in the short term and expanding it into a huge wind power station composed of 420 turbines.

JatOil inks MOU with PT Waterland over biofuel feedstock in Java

August 19, 2009
Source: Proactive

Renewable energy company Jatoil (ASX code: JAT) has signed a key Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a leading European-backed jatropha biofuel producer, PT Waterland International.

The MOU outlines a potential transaction that would involve Jatoil buying a controlling interest in 1000-2000 hectares of established jatropha farming ventures in central Java, with plans for considerable expansion and short-term revenue generation.

read more..

US$ 2.9 billion Melbourne desalination contract goes to Degremont group

July 30, 2009
Source: The International Desalination & Water Reuse Quarterly

The Suez/Degremont-led consortium Aquasure has been awarded the contract to build the 150 million m³/year seawater desalination plant for Melbourne, Australia.

The Aus$ 3.5 billion (US$ 2.88 million) contract guarantees to deliver desalinated water by the end of 2011.


US DOE announces $40 million to be awarded for three CHP R&D, demonstration projects

July 9, 2009
By Jim Lane

In Washington, the US Department of Energy announced a Funding Opportunity for up to $40 million in research, development and demonstration of combined heat and power (CHP) systems. Combined Heat and Power technologies—those that co-produce heat and electricity - and District Energy Systems can achieve efficiencies of 80% or better compared to roughly 45% for conventional heat and power production.


Green Power Takes Root in the Chinese Desert

July 2, 2009
By Keith Bradsher

DUNHUANG, China — As the United States takes its first steps toward mandating that power companies generate more electricity from renewable sources, China already has a similar requirement and is investing billions to remake itself into a green energy superpower.

Through a combination of carrots and sticks, Beijing is starting to change how this country generates energy. Although coal remains the biggest energy source and is almost certain to stay that way, the rise of renewable energy, especially wind power, is helping to slow China's steep growth in emissions of global warming gases.


From the Sewage Plant,The Promise of Biofuel

July 1, 2009
by Greg Breining

Researchers throughout the world are working to produce biofuel from algae. But a few are trying a decidedly novel approach: Using an abundant and freely available source — human waste — to make the fuel of the future while also treating sewage.n his quest for a fuel of the future, Roger Ruan has found a valuable resource in something nobody else wants — the wastewater from Minneapolis' largest sewage treatment plant.


Alternative fuels move nearer to full commercial aviation use as an important specification hurdle is cleared

June 26, 2009
Source: GreenAir Online

A new aviation fuel specification, provisionally labelled DXXXX, has been passed by the ASTM International Aviation Fuels subcommittee that will enable the use of synthetic fuels in aviation. This new specification constructs a framework to facilitate the use of multiple alternative fuels (including both non-renewable and renewable blends), and targets complete interchangeability with conventional fuels produced to the standard aviation jet fuel specification D1655. The Air Transport Association of America (ATA) described the step, which is anticipated to receive full ASTM approval later this year, as a “watershed event”.


One billion gallons by 2014: algal fuel price, capacity projections

June 22, 2009
Source: Biofuels Digest

Biofuels Digest is projecting that algal biofuels capacity will reach 1 billion gallons by 2014, based on analysis of price and capacity projections for 2009-14 from leading companies in the field.

Algae producers are targeting to reach a $1.30 wholesale cost and 1.62 billion gallons in capacity by 2014.


Oil companies, execs taking over biofuels business?

June 19, 2009

In New York, the closing of the Sunoco purchase of the former Northeastern Biofuels plant in Volney for $8.5 million, continues a trend whereby oil companies are moving into the ethanol production busines…on the cheap. Earlier this year, Valero acquired seven ethanol plants in the Midwest from the bankruptcy of VeraSun Energy, for $477 million.

“We also view this as a first step into an area of possible growth for the company,” Sunoco spokesman Thomas Golembeski said of the recent Northeast Biofuels acquisition. But industry analysts noted that acquisitions of first generation plants have focused on those plants that are grandfathered under the Energy Security and Independence Act from meeting tough proposed new standards on indirect land use change for corn ethanol.


Mitsubishi plans Australian coal plant

June 12 2009
Source: News Nine MSN

Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is close to signing a deal with Queensland to build the world's first large low-emission coal power plant, a company official said on Friday.

The firm will likely sign a deal with an entity affiliated with the state government and make an announcement as early as this month, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the talks were still ongoing.

The power plant would feature both coal gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology and carbon-capture-and-storage (CCS) capability, promising to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 90 per cent, he said.

While plants using either technology already exist around the world, a plant combining both would be a world-first, the official said.

IGCC turns coal into gas to burn to generate electricity, resulting in lower emissions. CCS is a technology that solidifies carbon dioxide so it can be stored deep underground rather than enter the atmosphere.

The plant is projected to cost at least Y200 billion ($A2.5 billion), the company official said.


For Greening Aviation, Are Biofuels The Right Stuff?

Biofuels – made from algae and non-food plants – are emerging as a potentially viable alternative to conventional jet fuels. Although big challenges remain, the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions could be major.

June 11, 2009
By David Biello

Earlier this year, a Continental jet accelerated down the runway at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Nothing out of the ordinary for Capt. Rich Jankowski, who countless times in his 38-year career had eased such two-engine Boeing 737-800s into the sky. Except on this experimental flight, one of the engines Jankowski relied on was burning fuel derived from microscopic algae to push the 45-ton aircraft into the air and keep it aloft — a first in aviation history.


Air New Zealand claims findings from biofuel test flight show significant reductions in fuel burn and emissions

New Zealand
May 28, 2009
Source: GreenAir Online

Scientific testing following the biofuel flight conducted by Air New Zealand in December last year suggests that up to 1.4 tonnes of fuel and 4.5 tonnes of CO2 can be saved on 12-hour, 5,800-nautical mile long-haul flight powered by a 50/50 blend of second generation jatropha sustainable jet biofuel and traditional Jet A1. This represents a 1.2% cut in fuel burn, and at shorter ranges fuel burn would improve by 1% using the same blend. Overall savings from bio-derived jet fuels are estimated to be a 60-65% reduction in GHG emissions relative to petroleum-derived jet fuel.

The Rolls-Royce RB211-powered Boeing 747-400 test flight using a 50/50 jatropha biofuel blend in one of the four engines was a joint initiative between Air New Zealand, Boeing, Rolls-Royce and Honeywell's UOP


Australia Introduces Plan To Build World's Largest Solar Plant

May 18, 2009

Source: Yale Environment

The Australian government plans to build the world's largest solar power station, a 1,000-megawatt plant that would generate three times as much electricity as the world's largest solar electric plant, now located in California, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced.


Battery swapping technology set for electric cars

New technology to swap batteries to extend the range of electric cars will be available overseas by 2011.

May 14, 2009
By Richard Blackburn

Australian drivers could soon be swapping the batteries in their electric cars in the same way they swap gas bottles for their barbecues.

California-based firm Better Place today held the first public demonstration of new technology that can swap over an electric car battery in less time than it takes to fill a car with petrol.

And the company plans to have a recharging network available in Australia within three years.

read more..

Algae could help green up a brown-coal plant

May 14, 2009
By Philip Hopkins

A PLANT that will not only sequester carbon dioxide, but create biodiesel, livestock feed and other byproducts, is to be built at Loy Yang power station in the Latrobe Valley.

Loy Yang Power has signed a memorandum of understanding with MBD Energy, a private Melbourne company whose algae-based technology will potentially allow the brown-coal power station to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide.

The technology provides an alternative to carbon capture and sequestration for all coal-fired power stations in Australia, and can also be used by other big emitters such as mining plants or cement factories.

Under the deal, a $2.1 million display plant will be built next to Loy Yang by the end of the year. If successful, the second phase would involve a $23 million pilot plant in 2011, leading to the construction of a $300 million demonstration plant in 2013.

read more..

Climate czar concedes that aviation CO2 emissions could form a quarter of total UK output by 2050

United Kingdom
May 8, 2009
Source: GreenAir Online

The UK Government’s policies on aviation and climate change came under scrutiny this week at an evidence session of the House of Commons Transport Committee. Lord Adair Turner, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), said that if aviation CO2 emissions remained flat they could make up a quarter of the UK’s total under the Government’s pledge to reduce overall CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2050. At the same hearing, Lord Chris Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency, said he did not believe passengers and airlines were paying enough to cover their environmental impact.

Lord Turner said that as part of the UK Government’s case for a third runway and increased capacity at Heathrow, aviation CO2 emissions should not exceed in 2050 what they were in 2005 – which was 37 million tonnes.

Since the Government had set a legally binding target of reducing overall UK CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 compared to 2005, so that total UK CO2 emissions in 2050 were to be around 150 million tonnes, Lord Turner was asked whether the Government’s policy on aviation was credible given that around a quarter of all UK emissions could come from the industry by 2050.

read more..

Hailed as a Miracle Biofuel, Jatropha Falls Short of Hype

May 4, 2009
By Jon R. Luoma

The scrubby jatropha tree has been touted as a wonder biofuel with unlimited potential. But questions are now emerging as to whether widespread jatropha cultivation is really feasible or whether it will simply displace badly-needed food crops in the developing world.

read more..

Sapphire Energy says it aims to deploy commercial-ready algae-based jet fuel in three years time

May 1, 2009
Source: GreenAir Online

California-based Sapphire Energy, which supplied algae-based jet fuel for the recent Continental Airlines and Japan Airlines biofuel test flights, has doubled its initial estimates on production of diesel and jet fuel. It claims it will be in a position to supply one million gallons of fuel by 2011, increasing to more than 100 million gallons annually by 2018. By 2025, the company predicts it will be producing one billion gallons by 2025, enough to meet around three percent of the United States’ 36 billion gallon renewable fuel standard.

read more..

Soladiesel algae fuel reduces direct greenhouse gas emissions by up to 93 percent compared to conventional diesel

April 23, 2009
By Jim Lane

In California, Life Cycle Associates, the same consultant that performed lifecycle greenhouse gas calculations for the California Air Resources Board, completed a field-to-wheels assessment of Soladiesel, the company's algae-based biodiesel using the Argonne National Laboratories GREET model. LCA found that Soladiesel's full lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are 85 to 93 percent lower than standard petroleum based ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD).

read more..

Boeing Backs Algae to Fuel Airplanes

April 15, 2009,
By Christoph Seidler

Airlines' largest outlay is for fuel, and algae may provide a promising biofuel to protect carriers from future oil-price hikes. Labs are making encouraging progress in developing algae cultures.

read more..

Carnegie signs $250m deal with Investec

April 14, 2009
Source: The Age

Shares in Carnegie Corporation Ltd soared after the wave power hopeful signed a $250 million project financing deal with banking giant Investec.

Carnegie's shares were up four cents, or 19.51 per cent, at 24.5 cents at 1154 AEDT after reaching a high of 26 cents in earlier trade.

Perth-based Carnegie said Investec intended to provide up to $250 million to fund its Commercial Demonstration Wave Power project, using its CETO technology, in southern Australia.

The project will be developed by a special purpose company jointly owned by Carnegie, Investec and other investors, so the financing is non-dilutionary for Carnegie's shareholders.

The financing agreement is subject to certain milestones and conditions being met.

A final decision on the site for the project is expected mid this year.

Worldwide aviation is one of the most rapidly growing sources of CO2 emissions, claims new research study

April 8, 2009
Source: GreenAir Online

The total influence of aviation on climate is considerably greater than has been suggested solely on the basis of its current 2.8% share of current anthropogenic fossil CO2 emissions, says two leading European climate researchers. Their analysis shows that from its beginnings in 1940 through to 2005, civil aviation has been responsible for a rise in global mean temperatures of around 0.028 degrees C, representing approximately 4.7% of the total anthropogenic change.

read more..

Swinburne University of Technology and Suntech Team to Develop Next Gen Solar Cells

April 6, 2009
Source: Solarbuzz

Swinburne University of Technology has teamed up with Suntech Power to develop solar cells that are twice as efficient and run at half the cost of those currently available. Swinburne will contribute $3 million dollars to the venture, with Suntech pledging a further $3 million over the course of the collaboration.

The project is also seeking funding from the Victorian Government. Leading the group will be Swinburne Centre for Micro-Photonics Director, Professor Min Gu and Suntech CEO Dr Shi Zhengrong. Dr. Shi, who is also an Australian citizen, founded Suntech in 2001 and built it into a leading solar company. According to Professor Gu, the group's combination of research and business expertise will allow them to develop and manufacture the revolutionary solar cells within five years.

"The project will be based around the development of nanoplasmonic solar cells," said Professor Gu. This new technology allows for the efficient collection of solar energy in a wider colour range than those currently being developed in other laboratories. "These will be twice as efficient as the current generation of cells, and will also cost significantly less to run."

While Swinburne will lead the R&D and Suntech will manage the manufacturing, according to Professor Gu the project will be collaborative throughout each stage.

"By working with Suntech in the development phase, we can ensure the technology can be transferred to the production line. This should allow us to have the cells ready for manufacture within five years," added Professor Gu. Dr. Shi said, "This relationship will combine Swinburne's high quality research with Suntech's ability to rapidly commercialize new technologies into cost effective applications. Nanoplasmonic technology has the potential to take solar to the next level."

According to Swinburne Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young the agreement will not only be significant for the university, but it could also have a positive impact on Australia's manufacturing industry.

"This partnership will result in major research and development in solar energy," said Professor Young. "It could lead to significant industrial benefits for the state of Victoria, and even be a precursor to Suntech manufacturing in Australia."

The collaborative research group will be housed in Swinburne's new Advanced Technology Centre, which is a $130 million dollar development due to be completed by early 2011.

read more..

Green tech investment plummets

April 1, 2009

By Todd Woody

Along with the rest of the economy, venture capital investment in green technology has fallen off the proverbial cliff, according to a survey released Wednesday by market research firm the Cleantech Group.

Global investment in renewable energy, electric cars and other green tech dropped 48% to $1 billion in the first quarter of 2009 from the previous year and fell 41% from the previous quarter. (Global here being defined as North America, Europe, China and India.)


China Vies to Be World's Leader in Electric Cars

April 1, 2009

By Keith Bradsher

TIANJIN, China — Chinese leaders have adopted a plan aimed at turning the country into one of the leading producers of hybrid and all-electric vehicles within three years, and making it the world leader in electric cars and buses after that.

Chinese leaders have adopted a plan aimed at turning the country into one of the leading producers of hybrid and all-electric vehicles within three years.


Boeing, Airbus: downturn won't slow biofuel plans

March 31, 2009
By Frank Jordans

The world's two biggest aircraft makers said Tuesday they were pushing ahead with the development of planes that run on eco-friendly biofuels despite the economic downturn.

Boeing Co. and Airbus say they are not planing on making their own alternative fuels, but are working with ethanol and other biofuel producers to make planes ready for the new technologies in the coming decades.

The sharp drop in oil prices since the start of the global recession has raised concern that the development of fuel-efficient jets may stall. The airline industry is also being squeezed by plummeting passenger numbers.


The smart grid is coming…to Australia

March 31, 2009
By Todd Woody

IBM on Tuesday said it has signed a deal to help build a smart grid for utility EnergyAustralia. Some 12,000 sensors will be installed on the Australian utility’s transmission network around Sydney to monitor electricity distribution and detect outages and other problems. It’s IBM’s largest smart grid project of its type to date.

Big Blue will build the software systems to integrate the sensor data into the operations of EnergyAustralia, which runs the country’s biggest electricity distribution network. In dollar terms, the deal is small - just A$3.2 million (U.S. $2.2 million) - but significant in showing the viability of transforming analog electricity distribution systems into an intelligent network, according to Michael Valocchi, an executive with IBM’s (IBM) global energy and utilities unit.


Tata Nano launched in India

March 30, 2009

By Hasnain Zaheer

TATA NANO is dubbed ‘the people’s car’ by its manufacturer Tata Motors and its visionary chairman Ratan Tata, Tata Nano was built from ground up with a particular price target - Rs. 100,000. Or just around US$2000 or AU$3000.

Nano is the cheapest car in the world and has half the price-tag of Maruti 800, also a people’s car and the cheapest car until now. Incidentally, Maruti 800 was my first car when I was living in India. I bought it in 2000 and it is still faithfully serving my brother back in Delhi. Although I have no love lost for ‘the 800.


Shortage of sufficient quantities of suitable biofuels halts Rolls-Royce engine testing programme

March 17, 2009
Source: GreenAir Online

The biofuel programme initiated by Rolls-Royce and British Airways has been temporarily suspended after failing to find a supplier who could deliver the required 60,000 litres of alternative fuel for intensive ground testing. Rolls-Royce aimed to test up to four alternative fuels on a RB211 engine taken from one of BA’s Boeing 747 aircraft, but only three responses were forthcoming from a worldwide tender issued last July.


Australia's New South Wales aims for E10, B5 mandates

March 15, 2009
By Jim Lane

The state of New South Wales has proposed an increase in its new 2 percent ethanol mandate to six percent, with an increase to ten percent effective in 2011. Legislation has also been introduced to establish a 2 percent biodiesel mandate that would increase to five percent as local biodiesel capacity expanded . State officials said that the mandates would reduce reliance on fossil fuels.


CPRS: a suicide note for the planet

March 13, 2009
Source: Green Left Online

Last year, the Rudd government said it would reduce Australia’s carbon emissions by a minimum of 5% by 2020 (compared to 2000 levels). The Rudd government also ruled out emissions reductions of more than 15% by 2020. The world’s best scientists say emissions reductions should be around 70%-90% by 2020.

Chris Field, from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, now says the panel seriously underestimated global warming and that we need to take radical action within the next 12 months to reduce carbon emissions. If countries like Australia don’t act appropriately, the world will face a global disaster within a few decades.


Engines for Hybrids Take a Supporting Role

The Opel Ampera, a hybrid concept introduced at the Geneva auto show, uses a gas engine to charge its battery.

March 12, 2009

By Don Sherman

ELECTRIC cars, in one form or another, are taking an increasingly important role in the future of personal transportation. That does not mean the internal combustion engine, our faithful power source for more than a century, is on its way to the scrap heap anytime soon.

But the familiar petroleum-fueled engine is being reconfigured for a considerably different role in the electric propulsion era.
This change will be especially evident in cars like the Chevrolet Volt, a hybrid whose gasoline engine only powers a generator to charge the battery pack — the engine has no mechanical connection to the wheels. The engine is tuned to operate over a narrow speed range, using the least gas and producing the smallest amount of pollutants.


Qantas calls for biofuel support

QANTAS has urged the federal Government to help establish an aviation biofuels industry in Australia.

March 11, 2009
By Steve Creedy

The airline claims the Government's aviation green paper overlooked the development of a local jet biofuel industry that will be critical for the airline to reduce emissions, reports The Australian.

"In Qantas's view, Australia is uniquely positioned to drive this development, given its large areas of non-arable land," Qantas said in a submission into the National Aviation policy.

"Building an economically sustainable `biojet' supply chain is not possible for an individual airline, given the huge capital cost requirement and supply chain challenges. Government support and partnership with industry will be critical to accelerate development."

Qantas is not the first airline to identify Australia as a potential source of aviation biofuel.


Aussies reckon tequila plant's worth a shot in biofuel search

March 3, 2009
By Nic MacBean

It's most well-known for being the main ingredient in the production of the Mexican spirit tequila, but a drought-resistant succulent plant is being touted as the next generation in biofuels.

Central Americans have used the sap of the agave plant to distil their potent brew for centuries, but an Australian company wants to harness its high sugar content to make ethanol for energy.

Sugar cane is already used in Australia to make sugar for ethanol production, especially in Queensland where there is a long-established cane industry and 10 per cent ethanol petrol is widespread.

Proponents of agave say they are not trying to replace sugar cane as a source of ethanol, but their plant is an ideal fit for climates where cane does not flourish.


Need Venture Capital? Try Europe

The VC community overseas is smaller than the U.S., but it is looking for U.S.-based companies.

March 3, 2009
By Carol Tice

If you're expanding your business to European markets, you might consider looking overseas for the capital you need. Many European VC firms are funding U.S.-based companies: A 2007 Deloitte survey found that 58 percent of the non-U.S. VC firms surveyed reported they were investing abroad.


Top 20 venture capital deals of 2008

March 2, 2009

By Maureen Martino

2008 was not the year investors were eager to take risks. As the recession deepened, lack of funding caused an increasing number of small biotechs laid off workers and closed their doors. By the fourth quarter, VC investments had plunged 33 percent and biotech investing dropped 31 percent.


VC funding drops

March 2, 2009

Source: Thomson Reuters

PALM DESERT, California (Reuters) - Investment in U.S. start-ups dropped 71 percent in January from a year earlier, preliminary figures by Thomson Reuters showed on Monday.

Venture capital funding dropped to $1.3 billion in January from $4.5 billion in January 2008, and the number of companies which received funds dropped by more than half, to 203 from 466.


Where the smart money is all going

March 1 2009
By Roisin Burke

VENTURE capital (VC) cash is drying up in the US, and British VC firms plan to hit up the government there for a £1bn bailout as investments fail to yield revenues -- or worse. Here in Ireland the picture is less bleak for now.

"While VC funds in the UK and US are struggling, the Irish funds have all made money," says Regina Breheny of the Irish Venture Capital Association (IVCA).


Battling global meltdown

March 1, 2009

By Noel Adlai O. Velasco
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

BANGKOK, Thailand—Barely eight months ago, Asian governments were too preoccupied with curbing double-digit inflation, as oil and commodity prices surged to levels not seen in decades.

Central banks across Asia had to implement a series of interest-rate increases to rein in inflation.

Now, Asia’s economies are fighting a different kind of battle: recession.

In an effort to stimulate their economies, Asian central banks have been cutting key interest rates, with some rates already reaching zero levels, a sharp reversal from the tight monetary policies they adopted just months ago.


Venture Capital and Startups Feel More Pain, Study Says

Startup valuations are falling and venture capitalists are driving harder bargains, according to a survey by California law firm Fenwick & West

February 26,2009
By Spencer E. Ante

Like the rest of the economy, the world of venture capital and startups is starting to feel more pain from the deepening global financial crisis.

That's the main takeaway from a new survey detailing trends in venture capital investments during the fourth quarter of 2008 by the California law firm Fenwick & West.


Venture capitalists invest $13 bn in emerging firms in 2008

February 25, 2009

Source: Press Trust Of India/New Delhi

Venture capitalists (VCs) invested over $13 billion in emerging economies, including India and China, in 2008, even as the global econoimc situation continued to deteriorate fast.

VCs continued to seek out investment opportunities outside the US in 2008, as they put more than $13.4 billion to work in 1,416 deals for emerging countries such as India, China and Israel last year, as per global data provider Dow Jones VentureSource.

VCs, who invest in start-ups and small businesses, raised investments by nearly five per cent from over $12.8 billion in 1,711 deals outside the US in 2007.


Our venture capital industry must be saved

February 25, 2009

By Katherine Woodthorpe

The Australian venture capital industry currently manages over $2 billion in capital.

In 2007, the industry raised $398 million - the largest amount since 1999 - and followed up last year with $175 million.

However in light of the global financial crisis and the resulting shortage in liquidity, these figures are under risk of further substantial decline.


Silicon Valley green tech jobs on the rise

February 25, 2009

By Lisa Sibley

If there is any silver lining to the job layoffs in Silicon Valley, it’s the uptick in green tech hiring.

That’s good news for Tram Tran, a principal of Purifi Recruiters, a Mountain View company that specializes in cleantech recruiting and staffing specialists for green companies.

“Cleantech is on the high rise,” she said. “It’s the one area everyone is trying to learn about quickly.”


Venture capital investments rise in China, India, and Israel

February 24, 2009

Source: Topnews

Dow Jones VentureSource data released on Wednesday indicated that the financial meltdown notwithstanding, venture capital investment in China, India and Israel still registered a rise last year, even though the figures plunged in the US!

With a 5 percent increase over the 2007 figures, the venture capitalists' investments in start-ups in Europe, Israel and India rose to $13.4 billion; while the 8 percent drop in the investments in US, the figures fell to $28.8 billion.


New 'greenprint' could map way for next boom

Regional plan for Silicon Valley economy unveiled at 'State of the Valley' conference Friday

February 23, 2009
by Sue Dremann

A new leadership group is poised to steer Silicon Valley into a "green-tech revolution" that could keep the valley from being displaced by other regions around the world, speakers said at the 2009 State of the Valley conference at San Jose's Parkside Hall Friday.

Energy is the only field offering the same range of opportunities as information technology, speakers said at a conference of several hundred business and government leaders, co-sponsored by Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.


Venture capital investment outside the US up five per cent in 2008

February 18, 2009

Source: AltAssets

Venture capital investment outside the US was up five per cent to $13.4bn in 2008 as more money went to energy and new regions, according to data from Dow Jones VentureSource.

Venture capitalists invested more than $13.4bn in 1,416 deals for emerging companies in Europe, Israel, Mainland China and India last year.

This is nearly a five per cent increase over the $12.8bn that venture capitalists invested in 1,711 deals outside the US in 2007 and comes despite a 15 per cent drop in annual venture investment in Europe. Still, the US remains the world's leading destination for venture capital, accounting for 2,550 deals and $28.8bn in investment in 2008.


Solution for the world's water woes

Rising populations and growing demand is making the world a thirsty planet, says David Molden. In this week's Green Room, he says the solution lies in people reducing the size of their "water footprints".

February 10, 2009
By David Molden- BBC News

Today, one-third of the world's population has to contend with water scarcity, and there are ominous signs that this proportion could quickly increase.

Up to twice as much water will be required to provide enough food to eliminate hunger and feed the additional 2.5 billion people that will soon join our ranks.

The demands will be particularly overwhelming as a wealthier, urbanised population demands a richer diet of more meat, fish, and milk.

The water required for a meat-eating diet is twice as much needed for a 2,000-litre-a-day vegetarian diet.


Airlines prepare to enter Europe's Emissions Trading Scheme as aviation directive comes into force

February 10, 2009
Source: GreenAir Online

The directive incorporating aviation into the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) entered into force last week, obliging EU Member States to pass appropriate legislation and make administrative provisions before 2 February 2010.


Venture Alert: CleanTech is the word

February 3, 2009

In the US, venture capital investments in “cleantech” reached record levels in 2008 with $4.7 billion raised in 186 financing rounds. They posted a 68 percent increase in annual capital invested and a 5 percent increase in annual financing activity, according to a study released Tuesday. The analysis by Ernst & Young LLP , based on data from Dow Jones Venture Source, showed that cleantech companies received $954 million from venture capitalists in the fourth quarter of 2008, significantly surpassing the $681 million invested in the same period in 2007 but lagging behind the record $1.7 billion invested in the third quarter of 2008.

In 2008, the top four cleantech segments -- electricity/electricity generation, alternative fuels, energy efficiency and energy storage -- experienced strong growth compared to 2007.

Energy/electricity generation raised $2.7 billion in 2008, increasing 215%. The alternative fuels segment grew 50% to $703 million. Energy efficiency raised $427 million, growing 6%, and energy storage raised $320 million, increasing 9%.


China: The new wind superpower

February 3, 2009

By Todd Woody

The numbers are in, and as expected 2008 set a record year for the worldwide wind industry as new wind farms generating a total of 27,000 megawatts of greenhouse gas-free electricity came online, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.

The quick-click headline was that the United States overtook the world’s green superpower, Germany, by installing 8,358 megawatts in 2008 - a 50% jump from the previous year and enough wind energy to power two million American homes. But the big story this year will be China’s rapid emergence as the next global wind power.


Alternative energy's banner year ends with a clang

February 3, 2009

By Sandy Shore

As the United States became the world leader in wind power, venture capitalists poured money into alternative energy projects until the recession hit in October, drying up investments and stalling projects.

The quick turnaround shows how rapidly the global economy deteriorated and how fast money for alternative energy dried up.

read more..

Victoria to get a new biodiesel storage and blending facility

February 1, 2009

by Luke Hallam

According to the Victorian Government their citizens will soon have better access to biodiesel. The Government has given a $2 million grant for a new Melbourne-based blending and storage facility to Biodiesel Producers Limited (BPL) for the construction of a $4.3 million BPL biodiesel facility in Melbourne. The new facility will be based at a major fuel distribution terminal.

read more..

JAL Flight Brings Aviation One Step Closer to Using Biofuel

Jan 30, 2009
JCN Newswire

Japan Airlines (JAL) became the first airline to conduct a demonstration flight using a sustainable biofuel primarily refined from the energy crop, camelina. It was also the first demo flight using a combination of three sustainable biofuel feedstocks, as well as the first one using Pratt & Whitney engines. The results of the flight are expected to conclusively confirm the second-generation biofuel's operational performance capabilities and potential commercial viability.

The approximately one and half-hour demo flight using a JAL-owned Boeing 747-300 aircraft, carrying no passengers or payload, took off from Haneda Airport, Tokyo at 11:50am (JST). A blend of 50% biofuel and 50% traditional Jet-A jet (kerosene) fuel was tested in the No.3 engine (middle right), one of the aircraft's four Pratt & Whitney JT9D engines. No modifications to the aircraft or engine were required for biofuel, which is a 'drop-in' replacement for petroleum-based fuel.

read more..

Fraunhofer Institute Achieves 41.1% Solar Cell Efficiency

January 16, 2009
Source: Solarbuzz

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE have achieved a record efficiency of 41.1% for the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Sunlight is concentrated by a factor of 454 and focused onto a small 5mm� multi-junction solar cell made out of GaInP/GaInAs/ Ge (gallium indium phosphide, gallium indium arsenide on a germanium substrate).

read more..

From noxious weed to jet fuel

January 05, 2009
By Steve Creedy

AUSTRALIA may be ideal for growing a 'noxious weed' that can be made into green biofuels capable of replacing airlines jet fuel.
Air New Zealand boss Rob Fyfe is the latest to suggest northern Australia would be a good place to cultivate jatropha curcas, a hardy plant that can grow in arid lands not suitable for forests or food crops and is a good source of bio-oil.

European group Airbus recently expressed similar sentiments, and even produced rough calculations on how much land would be needed to supply Australia's jet fuel requirements.

Air New Zealand kicked off new biofuel tests last week with a historic 2-hour Boeing 747-400 flight using a 50:50 blend of conventional Jet A1 and biofuel derived from jatropha, with no obvious problems. Air New Zealand hopes to be using 10 per cent biofuel in its domestic fleet by 2010.

Airlines know the fast-growing jatropha plant is considered a noxious weed by the Australian states most suitable for growing it.

read more..

South Australia boosts research into algal biodiesel

January 1, 2009

by Luke Hallam

Research into the production of biodiesel from algae in South Australia has been boosted by the granting of $1.2 million to Flinders University and South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) from the Premier’s Science and Research Fund. The grant is being matched by Sancon Resources Recovery, the SARDI and Flinders University to total a $4 million investment. The goal is to develop a proof-of-concept facility to explore production of algal biodiesel feedstock and high value co-products.

read more..

AirNZ aircraft to fly on biofuel by 2012

New Zealand
December 31, 2008
By Steve Creedy

AIR New Zealand plans to use 10 per cent biofuel in its domestic fleet by 2012. The airline says the move will lead to a long-term reduction in its carbon footprint and cut costs under an emission trading scheme.

The Kiwi carrier yesterday successfully concluded a world-first test of a second-generation biofuel in a commercial airliner, using a 50:50 mix of conventional Jet A1 and fuel derived from the seeds of the jatropha tree.

The test -- conducted in conjunction with plane maker Boeing, engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce and refining technology firm UOP -- was hailed by participants as a significant first step on the road to developing second-generation aviation biofuels.

Data from this and other tests to be conducted next year will be used to argue that aviation biofuels should be certified for use in existing planes and fuel storage systems, a goal dismissed as highly unlikely a few years ago.

read more..

JAL Biofuel Demo Flight First to Use Energy Crop Camelina

December 16, 2008
JAL Press Release

Japan Airlines (JAL) announced today that it will be the first airline to conduct a demonstration flight using a sustainable biofuel refined from the energy crop, camelina. The airline also announced that the demo flight is planned for January 30, 2009 out of Haneda Airport, Tokyo.

A blend of 50% biofuel and 50% traditional Jet-A jet (kerosene) fuel will be tested in one of the four Pratt & Whitney JT9D engines of a JAL-owned Boeing 747-300 aircraft. The biofuel component to be used will be a mixture of three second-generation biofuel feedstocks: camelina (84%), jatropha (under 16%), and algae (under 1%). This will make the JAL biofuel demonstration flight the first one to be powered by camelina, and the first
using a combination of three sustainable feedstocks. It will also be the first biofuel demo by an Asian carrier, as well as the first one using Pratt & Whitney engines.

read more..

Green Car Innovation Fund (GCIF)

Funding for the Green Car Innovation Fund will commence from 1 July 2009.

November 10, 2008

On 10 November the Government announced the Green Car Innovation Fund (GCIF) as part of its A New Car Plan for a Greener Future. The $1.3 billion Green Car Innovation Fund will provide assistance over ten years to design, develop and manufacture low-emission, fuel-efficient cars and components in Australia.

Funding for the Green Car Innovation Fund will commence from 1 July 2009. Assistance will be in the form of grants, allocated through a competitive selection process that considers the innovative, technological, commercial and environmental merits of each proposal.

A Framework Paper outlining the proposed implementation and operation of the Green Car Innovation Fund was released in December 2008. Public Consultations were held to communicate and gain feedback on the Green Car Innovation Fund in the first week of February.

Contact: To find out more information, please contact the AusIndustry hotline on 13 28 46 or

Dyesol’s electric blue sky

October 30, 2008
By Brad Howarth

Technology that allows iron roofing or glass windows to generate electricity – it sounds like futuristic pipe dreams, but Dyesol’s power-generating innovation is turning the dream into revenue-generating reality.

On 30 October in the northern Welsh town of Shotton, Australian solar technology innovators Founders Sylvia and Gavin Tulloch proudly attended the ribbon-cutting at a multi-million dollar steel production facility that could redefine the way we think both about building design and energy consumption.


Ethanol ruling 'to force up food'

September 22, 2008
By Greg Roberts

ANALYSTS have warned that further food price rises are inevitable after the Queensland Government revealed almost half the ethanol to be blended in petrol used in motor vehicles in the state would come from grain.
Queensland will become the national leader in biofuel use after the Bligh Government yesterday pledged to press ahead with plans to require petrol to contain 5 per cent ethanol by 2010.

The Weekend Australian reported that Premier Nathan Rees had ditched the commitment by NSW to introduce the nation's first mandated level of biodiesel and to boost the ethanol mandate from 2 to 10 per cent.
NSW was the first state to introduce a biofuels mandate last October.

Victoria and other states have gone cold on biofuels amid mounting evidence that taxpayer-subsidised mandates have contributed to growing world food shortages and rising prices. Up to 50,000 tonnes of grain a year are used for ethanol in NSW.


Brisbane fund investing in clean tech commercialisation

August 11, 2008

Brisbane's Springfield, in the city's southwest, is set to play a key role in developing Australian companies that supply environmentally friendly technology and products to Australians and the world, investors say.

Springfield-based fund manager Bakers Investment Group, Springfield Land Corp, Sydney-based Financial and Energy Exchange, and a major foreign bank are creating the Australian Cleantech Marketplace (ACM).


Biofuel From Algae

July 28, 2008

Source: Valcent Products

Valcent Products are developing the technology to produce biofuel from algae. The speaker concludes by saying that if we utilized only 10% of the state of New Mexico, we could produce enough biofuel to satisfy the needs of the entire United States.

Production of 20,000 gallons per acre is possible in a pond. They are developing the technology to produce it in a closed system that retains the water and prevents contamination by other species of algae. By going vertical, greater production per acre is possible.


Japanese company invents car that runs on water

June 13, 2008
Source: Reuters

Tired of gasoline prices rising daily at the pump? A Japanese company has invented an electric-powered, and environmentally friendly, car that it says runs solely on water.

Genepax unveiled the car in the western city of Osaka on Thursday, saying that a liter (2.1 pints) of any kind of water -- rain, river or sea -- was all you needed to get the engine going for about an hour at a speed of 80 km (50 miles).

"The car will continue to run as long as you have a bottle of water to top up from time to time," Genepax CEO Kiyoshi Hirasawa told local broadcaster TV Tokyo.


Venture Capital Investment In China Up Over 8% To 3.24 Billion, The Highest Since 2001

Hawkins and Doyle Inc.’s Analysis have found Record Investments in Business/Venture capital/Consumer/Environment/, Health Care Sectors; Cooling Interest in Energy, Web Companies

April 30, 2008
Source: PRLog Press Release- Beijing and Shanghai

Billboards, hotels, taxi services and similar businesses were favorites of investors in Mainland China in 2007, as annual venture capital investment in the region reached its highest level in six years with $2.49 billion invested in 241 deals, according to Hawkins and Doyle Inc.’s Quarterly Venture Capital Report released recently. This represents a 5% increase in investment over 2007 despite 14 fewer deals in 2008.


Hey, Australia’s cheap for doing business

March 30, 2008
By Amanda Gome

Annoyed at the cost of doing business in Australia? Think again. Australia is one of the least costly countries in the industrialised world to base a business, according to KPMG’s 2008 Competitive Alternatives Survey.

The survey which compared business costs in 136 cities in ten countries found that Australia ranked fourth in terms of competitiveness after Mexico, Canada and the US. But there was less than one per cent seperating Australia from second place.

Australia ranked highly for competitiveness in transport, web and multimedia. It ranked number one in terms of energy self sufficiency at a time when access to energy has become critical to business operations. And in terms of R&D, Australia had one of the highest proportions of researchers to percentage of total employment among the countries studied.


British company to build world's largest tidal power scheme

March 16, 2008
By Charles Clover

A British firm has agreed to build a giant tidal power scheme - the world's largest - in South Korea, using underwater turbines that experts say could make the proposed £15 billion Severn Barrage obsolete.

The £500 million scheme proposed off the South Korean coast will use power from fast-moving tidal streams, caused by rising and falling tides, to turn a field of 300 60ft-high tidal turbines on the sea floor.


Will biofuels power tomorrow's planes?

24 February 2008
By Stephen Dowling

On Sunday, a Virgin Airlines Boeing 747 took off from London's Heathrow Airport en route to Amsterdam. This short flight may prove to be a giant leap forward for the aviation industry.

The aircraft did not carry passengers - but it was the first commercial aircraft to fly partly under the power of biofuels.

One of the aircraft's four engines ran on fuel comprising a 20% biofuel mix of coconut and babassu oil and 80% of the normal Jet A aviation fuel.

Biofuels - principally ethanol and diesel made from plants - are one of the few viable options for replacing the liquid fuels derived from petroleum used in transport, the source of about one quarter of the human race's greenhouse gas emissions.


Queensland Biodiesel to build Australia’s largest biodiesel plant in Mackay

October 2, 2007
by Luke Hallam

The Queensland Government has given in-principle agreement to Queensland Biodiesel to build a $50 million biodiesel plant in Mackay. When completed the plant will be Australia’s largest with a production capacity of 180 million litres of biodiesel a year.

The plant would be built on land owned by the Mackay Port Authority, subject to environmental approvals. Once approved, the plant will use feedstock from imported and local resources such as soybean, sunflower and canola. The plant’s location in the Port of Mackay enables ready access to distribution by road, rail and sea. The biodiesel and by-products will be distributed Australia wide, as well as exported to international markets.


Biofuel trial flight set for 747

New Zealand
September 28, 2007
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Air New Zealand says it plans to mount the first test flight of a commercial airliner partially powered by biofuel.
The 747 flight is one part of a deal signed by the airline, engine producer Rolls-Royce and aircraft manufacturer Boeing to research "greener" flying.

One of the four engines will run on a mixture of kerosene and a biofuel, and is set for late 2008 or early 2009.
But Virgin Atlantic is planning to beat Air New Zealand to the punch by having its own biofuel flight early next year.
Air New Zealand's chief executive Rob Fyfe said that advances in technology had made biofuels a viable possibility for use in aviation sooner than anticipated.


Jatropha strengthens as future source of bio-diesel

August 06, 2007

Hot on the heels of the announcement of Australia’s first bio-diesel export by Natural Fuel, the company says it is looking at other potential raw materials for its product.

Dan Wallwork, Natural’s Treasury and Risk Manager, says the company is investigating using fruit of the Jatropha bush, as it offers a number of benefits over other feedstocks.

"We have looked at Jatropha, and it seems quite attractive, when compared to some of the edible oils," Wallwork says.

"We are looking at it because it is non-edible, because it only has that industrial use, the price will always be cheaper than edible oils, which have more than one use."


BP backs Jatropha as a biodiesel feedstock

July 7, 2007
by Luke Hallam

BP and D1 Oils have announced that they are to form a 50/50 joint venture, to be called D1-BP Fuel Crops Limited, to accelerate the planting of jatropha curcas. The joint venture has been established in order to make more sustainable biodiesel feedstock available on a larger scale.

Jatropha is a drought resistant, inedible oilseed bearing tree which does not require the good quality soil that would normally be used for food crops. As such it will not promote the rainforest deforestation that has resulted from palm oil plantations being used to supply biodiesel plants.


Pond-Powered Biofuels: Turning Algae into America's New Energy

March 29, 2007

By Amanda Leigh Haag

Using a complex (and still expensive) photosynthetic process, breakthrough innovators have developed biodiesel and ethanol from an unlikely source that can double its output overnight and just might help give alternative energy the bump it needs: little green goo. (Click here for PM's special report on the truth about biofuels)
Colorado's Solix Biofuels tackles the difficult task of harvesting algae the right way with a field of bioreactors that take a kind of painter's dropcloth (inset) to bubble CO through its system.

Just three years ago, Colorado-based inventor Jim Sears shuttered himself in his garage and began tinkering with a design to mass-produce biofuel. His reactor (plastic bags) and his feedstock (algae) may have struck soybean farmers as a laughable gamble. But the experiment worked, and today, Sears’ company, Solix Biofuels in Fort Collins, is among several startups betting their futures on the photosynthetic powers of unicellular green goo.


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