Archive for October, 2010

An Unsustainable Winning Streak

Posted by admin on October 15, 2010
Posted under Express 130

An Unsustainable Winning Streak

As Australia claims the most medals at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games, it gets a far less illustrious global ranking among the 10 most unsustainable countries on the planet. The study, commissioned by WWF, measures the amount of natural resources needed to sustain a person’s lifestyle, including energy, transport, food and infrastructure. Australia ranked eighth in the study and those with a worse footprint are the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Denmark, Belgium, the United States, Estonia and Canada. In contrast, we heard positive things from Climate Change Minister Greg Combet at the Carbon Expo in Melbourne, which we attended this week and also heard from China’s eloquent carbon supremo Dr Hu Tao. We also picked up good news from Climate Friendly, the Energy Efficiency Council, ACF, Intelligent Pathways & Carbon Conscious. Off to a promising start is the Carbon Market Institute, MBD with its algae bio-sequestration and the Biofuels Association of Australia. Greenroofs tops off things in style with its national conference coming up, Portugal shows its plans for an eco-city and Singapore – where we have also just visited again – offers some good advice on planning sustainable urban centres, even with butterflies rampant in Orchard Road. And back to the top theme: The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) say we’re paying for it with the earth. Conservation is an investment, not a cost! – Ken Hickson

Profile: Dr Hu Tao

Posted by admin on October 15, 2010
Posted under Express 130

Profile: Dr Hu Tao

One of China’s experts on the low carbon economy says the reason for China’s success is that the country’s leadership has a clear concept – to lead the next industrial revolution. “If the leadership says it’s good to be green, then the country will be green.” Dr Hu Tao told delegates at the Carbon Expo in Melbourne during the week that China’s next five year plan will demonstrate the country’s ongoing commitment to significantly reduce all greenhouse gas emissions, as well as other pollutants and attain (or exceed) the target of 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2010.

Ken Hickson had the pleasure of listening to the very eloquent and well informed Dr Hu Tao as he spoke at the Carbon Expo in Melbourne and also met him personally, however briefly.

Dr Hu told delegates that even if the global agreement on climate change action falters at Cancun, Mexico in coming weeks, he knows that China will maintain its commitment to reducing emissions significantly and moving rapidly to a low carbon economy.

He spent some time at the conference going over the achievements on the current five year plan when China has met most of its targets for pollution reduction.

 He was also keen to point out that China is making a major contribution internationally to a switch to renewable energy. At this stage, he says, China has 77.5% of the global market for solar thermal. Its wind power investment – at home and abroad – is also growing very fast.

An important meeting is taking place in Beijing in the next week to finalise the next five year plan. Although he could not be so presumptuous as predicting what was in the plan, he went on to say China was still committed to have 15% of the energy coming from renewable sources by 2020. It was well on the way.

China would continue to address pollution problems from other pollutants, as well as “the carbon intensity” issue. He considered it likely that there would be a carbon and resources tax at some stage, but considered it advisable to put the “tax on at the beginning” to thereby keep costs down.

China has already established three carbon exchanges to deal with the voluntary market and the country was willing to work in with other exchanges around the world.

China would continue to have a mix of policies which incorporate both the “carrot and the stick”.

He said that China is not going to miss out on the green economic revolution. It was determined to create a strong domestic market, for renewable energy for example, as well as continue to grow production of products for the global market.

Dr Hu also pointed out that China and Australia must continue to explore opportunities to work together. He noted some areas where China was ready, willing and able to gain from the expertise and innovations from Australia: clean coal technology, water and sewage treatment, natural gas production and higher education.


China ploughs ahead

This from Giles Parkinson reporting from the Melbourne conference in the Climate Spectator (13 October 2010):

Underlying that sense of urgency were comments from Dr Hu Tao, senior economist at the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, who noted that his country has set a 15 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, but may actually achieve it as early as 2014.

“The reason for this success is that the leadership has a clear concept – to lead the next industrial revolution,” Hu Tao said. “Autocracy is another competitive advantage of China. We don’t have too much debates … if the leadership says it’s good to be green, then the country will be green.”

Tao found it deeply ironic that China was facing a complaint instigated by the US steelworkers union, which filed a 5,800 page petition calling on the Obama Administration to go to the World Trade Organisation alleging China has ignored international trade agreements to help its clean energy sector.

As Hu Tao noted, the country the US once accused of not doing enough to combat climate change may now be sued because it is investing too much in the low-carbon economy.

Hu Tao also noted that China was likely to place a price on carbon in the next five years, it was just a matter of finding the right mechanism. The country did not oppose a price set by a trading mechanism, but the difficulty lay in defining a cap – should it be on absolute emissions, or per capita emissions. “Trading itself poses no problems,” he said. “China looks like the seller of an emissions quota, but in the future it might be a buyer.”


Hu Tao, China Carbon Forum special adviser, supported Greg Combet’s view on a carbon price, saying it would help to increase Australia ‘s energy efficiency.

China has pledged to cut energy intensity by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels and has made great efforts to achieve the target, Hu told Xinhua in an interview.

“China has dedicated one third of its stimulus package to the development of a high speed rail-network, irrigation systems and renewable energy. China became the world’s second largest producer of wind power last year and is gradually becoming a major supplier of renewable energy technology.”

Hu believes China and Australia can work together in a bid to help reduce global emissions.

“Australia is actively involved in a range of initiatives on technology and policy to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Australia and China can play a constructive role to work together with other countries for climate change global solution,” he said.



His business card says he’s special advisor to the China Carbon Forum, but Dr Hu Tao is much more than that. He is Senior Environmental Economist of Policy Research Center, Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) of China.

He is also the Chief Expert of the Trade and Environment Expert Group for the WTO New Round Negotiation for the MEP. He is also the member of UN Steering Committee of Sustainable Production and Consumption and provides environmental policy consulting services for World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the Global Environmental Facility.

Dr. Hu also serves as Visiting Professor for the Chinese Flagship programme at the University of Oregon, USA. His research topics cover environmental economics, policies and governance, environmental and natural resources economics, globalization, trade and environment issue, and climate change issue.

Earlier in October there was a report from the Xinhua news services, particularly noting China’s advances in wind energy:

By Wu Qi

BEIJING, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) — Wang Wenqi was mocked as a fantasist when he set out plans to create China’s wind power capital in Dabancheng, a small and nondescript town in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

That was the 1980s. Almost 30 years on, the town, planted between the regional capital, Urumqi, and the Turpan Basin, is a vast expanse of “white forests.”

More than 300 howling wind turbines stretch for some 80 kilometers, feeding Urumqi with constant clean electricity.

Wang, 80, recalls the early 1980s, when, as director of the Xinjiang Irrigation Works and Hydropower Research Institute, he had to remain steadfast in the face of overwhelming doubt.

Some of Wang’ s colleagues said he was out of his mind, regarding what he was doing was mission impossible, and “only creatures on the moon could think of.”

Wang was unfazed and in November 1986, he was heading the newly established Xinjiang Wind Energy Institute with two turbines transported from Denmark to a pilot field near Chaiwobao Lake in Dabancheng.

In October 1989, Wang bought another 13 wind turbines from Denmark with a donation of 3.2 million U.S. dollars from the Danish government, and set out to make Dabancheng a landmark in China’ s wind power industry.

“This project is the seed in a sense,” says Yu Wuming, Wang’s successor. “In China, almost everyone developing wind power has visited Dabancheng, and almost every place developing wind power has been supervised by Xinjiang engineers.”

Dabancheng Wind Farm now has a combined generating capacity of 500MW. Though not the largest in installed capacity, it is home to most of China’s complete range of turbines, from the earliest and smallest 20kW to the latest 3MW turbines, produced by enterprises at home and abroad.


However, no turbines have been installed at Dabancheng for eight years.

Though one of the earliest to tap wind power, Xinjiang has failed to raise significantly the proportion of wind power in its total energy mix. The region has been overtaken by latecomers Inner Mongolia, and Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces, which have more local consumers.

“This is exceptional, compared with the wind power boom across the country,” says Yu.

Despite official support, the expansion of clean energy is still plagued with problems.

Few wind farms are commercially viable, and most rely on government subsidies. The China Electricity Council says more than a quarter of the country’s wind turbines were still not connected to the grid at the end of last year.

But the government is moving to rectify this blockage in order to meet far-sighted goals to reduce pollution and expand clean and sustainable energy forms.

In early 2005,the government promulgated the Renewable Energy Law, which offered support for wind power projects through electricity tariffs.

Since then, the generating capacity of China’s wind farms has more than doubled each year. According to the China Wind Energy Association (CWEA), China overtook Germany as a country with the second largest installed wind power capacity, after the United States, last year.


In September 2009, Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged at the UN Climate Change Summit in New York to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 15 percent by 2020. And in November, Premier Wen Jiabao said at a meeting of the State Council that China would reduce the intensity of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP in 2020 by 40 to 45 percent, compared with the level of 2005.

Qin Haiyan, secretary general of the CWEA, says the government plans to build seven 10GW-level wind farms by 2020, totaling 90GW, to account for 78 percent of the country’s installed wind power capacity.

Development of other clean energy sources, including solar, bio-mass and nuclear energy, has also accelerated.

Zhang Guobao, director of National Energy Bureau (NEB), cites, as an example, the government’s approval for a pilot solar-powered town in Turpan basin.

In June, China decided to build its first low carbon emission pilot town in the Yujiabao financial quarter of north China’ s Tianjin City.

“Developing clean energy, including wind, solar and nuclear power, will be a new growth point in our economy,” says Zhang. “They are the main direction to adjust our energy structure, cope with global climate change, and ensure energy security.”


Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, China’s energy supply has been dominated by coal, followed by oil, natural gas and renewable energies.

China is the world’s second largest energy consumer after the United States. In 2009, it consumed 2.146 billion tonnes of standard oil, averaging 1.61 tonnes per person, a fifth of the average level of the United States.

China is also a leading energy producer, supplying over 90 percent of its consumed energy.

Although it is developing faster than anywhere else in the world, China’s clean energy accounts for only about 8 percent of its primary energy consumption. Fossil fuels will dominate for a long time to come.

Coal constitutes more than 70 percent of China’s energy mix, far higher than the world average of 29.2 percent. China’s coal consumption per unit of GDP is 15 times that of Japan and 8.7 times that of the United States.

The heavy reliance on coal is attributed to its price. Coal-generated electricity generally costs about half the price of wind power, industry officials say.

The use of coal means more carbon dioxide emissions, seriously challenging China’s ability to cope with climate change, though its per capita greenhouse gas emissions were only 5.5 tonnes last year, less than one third those of the United States.


In July, the NEB submitted a draft of the Emerging Energy Industrial Development Program (2011-2020) to the State Council for approval. It lays out plans for the next decade, including an investment of 5 trillion yuan in new and clean traditional energies.

“This program is about utilizing clean energy sources such as nuclear, wind, solar and bio-mass energy,” says Jiang Bing, director of programming and development at the NEB.

“It also covers upgrading traditional energy sources, like clean coal, smart grids, distributed power consumption, and vehicle-based new energies,” he says.

“Our priority rests with three types of non-fossil fuels — nuclear, hydropower; and wind, solar and bio-mass energy.

By 2015, Jiang says, hydropower and nuclear power will account for almost 9 percent of the primary energy consumption. Wind power, solar energy and bio-mass energy will make up about 2.6 percent. Natural gas will compose 8.3 percent.”

“In contrast, coal consumption will drop from the present 70 percent to about 63 percent.”

On Sept.8, the State Council approved the Decision to Speed up Cultivating and Developing Strategic Emerging Industries. It listed seven industrial sectors for policy support, including energy conservation and new energies.

Tao Gang, vice-president of Sinovel, China’s largest wind turbine producer, says it, like other businesses in the wind, nuclear, solar and bio-mass energy sectors, will enjoy greater opportunities under the policy.

“The State Council has defined the strategic position of clean energy industries,” says Tao. “This will ensure long-term stability of policies essential to clean energy businesses.”

In Dabangcheng, Wang Wenqi’s long stalled dream is about to be re-energized, when it becomes home to four of the five new wind farms planned for Xinjiang this year.

Xinjiang will have 165 units of 1.5MW turbines installed, capable of feeding clean electric power to 625,000 households a year.


Garnaut Lifts the Lead Veil of Ignorance

Posted by admin on October 15, 2010
Posted under Express 130

Garnaut Lifts the Lead Veil of Ignorance

Professor Ross Garnaut, author of the impressive Garnaut Report two years ago, is back on deck as a key Australian Government advisor on setting a price on carbon. He told the Carbon Expo audience he was “frankly shocked” at how persistent the ignorance in Australia is of developments in other Asia Pacific countries, particularly China, in moving towards a low carbon economy and renewable energy. “It is as if a lead veil had been inserted around the brains of most Australians and made them impervious to information – that’s not secret information – about what is going on other countries.”

From Climate Spectator (13 October 2010):

After delivering a speech at the conclusion of Carbon Expo in Melbourne on Wednesday, Professor Ross Garnaut answered questions from the audience and then from Climate Spectator editor Giles Parkinson. This is an edited transcript, in which Garnaut says:

– That the update of his 2008 review of climate change will include looking at the changes in the “international regime”, as well as what individual countries – especially China, India and Indonesia – are doing to adapt;

– That it’s as if Australians have been considering climate change from behind a “lead veil”, making them impervious to what is going on other countries;

– That the atmosphere in the parliamentary committee is a very positive one and has a strong commitment to getting a good result;

– That the policy focus of the parliamentary committee is on a carbon price, and then looking at what the rest of the world is doing on emissions reductions and the implication of that on Australia’s effort.

Moderator: Could you say something about how you unlock institutional investment here in Australia. This morning we had some presentations from China, Indonesia and India and it looked like there was a real risk that Australia had been left behind by its major trading partners in Asia, and particularly China where the speaker Dr Hu Tao said that they lost the industrial revolution, they’ve missed out on the IT boom, but China has decided it’s definitely not going to miss out on the Green Revolution.

Ross Garnaut: Yes. One of the updated papers that I’ll be doing will be looking at what’s been happening to the international regime – and we do have an international regime, but it’s not exactly the regime that we would have anticipated a few years ago. And then what individual countries, the major ones, are doing. And the primary focus will be on China, India and Indonesia and especially on China.

It is impressive how quickly things are changing in each of those countries, but especially in China and I am frankly shocked at how persistent the ignorance in Australia is of that. It is as if a lead veil had been inserted around the brains of most Australians and made them impervious to information that’s not secret information about what is going on other countries. And I think a very important part of the Australian discussion over the next year has to be directed at corroding that lead shield.

M: You mentioned among the papers that you will be touching on are agricultural land use opportunities. Will you be looking at opportunities to actually support the development of bio-sequestration and unlocking them to be included in market mechanisms? There is quite a lot happening internationally and it really matches some of the land management profiles here in Australia. So, have you been looking at that or are you still looking at compliance, type and emissions trading activities?

RG: Yes. Well, at this stage I can’t say very much about the exact approach I’ll take to some of those things because I’m still thinking it through, but for Australia and for a number of the developing countries in particular, certainly for Indonesia and Brazil, the opportunities … through bio sequestration are very large and mitigation that does not efficiently have those opportunities obviously will be inadequate, so we’ll give it a lot of thought both to the results of work that’s been done in the last couple of years on the nature and extent of the opportunity and on how to unlock that.

M: I would just wonder about the mode of communication. You produced an extraordinarily elegant overview of the need and the importance of the challenge, but the sad reality is the people who make decisions didn’t read it and grubby politics with half truths blocked the passage of the carbon price. So, given that, presenting more of the same isn’t going to effect the necessary change and I just wonder whether you reflect on the mode of communication of delivery and whether we need alternative tactics.

RG: I don’t think I would have saddled up for another ride if I had thought it would be exactly the same as last time. I think the atmosphere in the parliamentary committee is a very positive one. Obviously everyone’s got different perspectives, but my assessment is a quite strong commitment to getting a good result and… that’s one that’s changed. Another thing that changes is the composition of the parliament. If it does turn out that that multi party committee comes to a view, that something’s desirable, then the group that’s represented in that committee can carry both houses of parliament and that is a new situation. It’s a new reality that all the other political actors in Australia have to take into account.

I think that the political economy of the last episode, the CPRS discussion was gruesome, … and I think a lot of the participants in that process have reflected on the process, so I’ve got a lot of links into business and I know that some important participants in the business discussion feel that they didn’t do justice to the interests even of their companies let alone of the national economy in the last discussion and so I think that a lot of elements of business will start with a greater sensitivity to … what’s desirable in the longer term and for the national economy rather than seeking to influence things in terms of very short term objectives of their own enterprises. So I think that a fair bit of learning has gone on as a result of well frankly the failure of the last effort. I hope that that learning will be influential.

M: One of the themes that we’ve seen through the conference has been the notion that any uncertainty about policy or a regulatory market would be significantly magnified in the investment community. Given this new political world, are you able to comment on that?

RG: Well, I don’t think you ever have complete certainty about policy, especially in advance of policy being implemented. My own view is, and actually has always been, that difficult policy changes are bound to be controversial while they’re being debated. What you have to hope for is that they’re especially well designed, so that once they’re in place most people accept that they achieve very good purposes and so I’d like to see the focus on stability after something’s legislated rather than to have excessive ambitions for consensus, comprehensive consensus before legislation. These are big changes that are necessary in Australia. They’re bound to have elements of controversy. If we design things well and they’re legislated, the reasonable expectation is that there’ll be such strong support for the last of the event that it won’t be in anyone’s political interest to disrupt them.

M: Professor, one of the great obstacles in the CPRS debate was the support of industry and one of the biggest qualms that many affected industries had was in the level of compensation and I note that a number of parties have referred to the… your recommendations of compensation only to the level of lost competitiveness. Is that something that you’re planning to look at, the level of compensation to affect the party?

RG: Oh, what I would hope is that we can have a good discussion about the principles that should apply, so that questions of compensation can be based on application of principles rather than crude political bargaining and I think if that’s the approach, there’s a much better chance of a sound result.

Giles Parkinson: What is the deadline for report, your update?

RG: Well, I’ll be seeking to bring out papers on particular issues in a timely way as the work goes on and including having a couple done by the December meeting of the multi party committee, but I would expect to have all of the basic work done by March and then in the couple of months after that pull it all together in a final report, but the new material should be all in the public arena by March.

GP: Ok, then and the ones that are coming out by December, which ones are you starting on first?

RG: Oh, I’m still working through the work program.

GP: You talked about the shield of lead that has descended over Australia. What do you think has been the cause of that?

RG: It is a puzzle. It’s more severe within Australia than even in the United States, which is the other country that finds itself looking inward rather than outward at what the rest of the world is doing. Maybe it’s the result of the emissions intensive industries playing a particularly large role in this economy and that by osmosis and by influence is affecting perceptions, information. I can’t think of other explanations because generally Australians are reasonably well informed about the rest of the world.

GP: The inference from your comments about the absence of inaction in the world stage… we heard about what’s happening in China and India and Indonesia. That suggests that one of your main justifications for recommending a 5 per cent target last time in the international context …..

RG: Well, the 5 per cent is what we would do if there was no international agreement and no international action, yes.

GP: But there is obviously international action, so I guess the inference would be that Australia probably should be aiming higher than 5 per cent.

RG: Yes, probably. But that’s a separate question from the carbon price that is necessary and I don’t want to get two separate issues mixed up. The policy focus of the parliamentary committee is on a carbon price. Separately I will be forming views on what the rest of the world is doing and the implication of that for a comparable and proportionate emissions reduction effort from Australia.

GP: But they are related anyway because I think the committee is looking at how to create a carbon price and I guess if a market price was to be the recommendation, then you need to have a cap and the cap has to reflect a target.

RG: Oh, we haven’t gone that far at this stage.


Carbon Price Cheapest Way to Reduce Pollution

Posted by admin on October 15, 2010
Posted under Express 130

Carbon Price Cheapest Way to Reduce Pollution

Australia’s Climate Change Minister Greg Combet admitted that “the carbon intensity of our national electricity supply is one of the highest in the world. To deliver one kilowatt of electricity to a household, we emit about 1kg of carbon pollution”. He says the responsible path is to take measured steps towards reduced dependence on carbon pollution and putting a price on carbon pollution tilts the economic balance in favour of low pollution options. “A carbon price mechanism is the cheapest way to reduce carbon pollution”.

Speech by Australian Minister of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet at Carbon Expo in Melbourne, as published in The Australian (13 October 2010):

LABOR has a proud record of initiating tough reforms, whether it was the Fisher government’s battle to set up the Commonwealth Bank, Curtin’s introduction of uniform taxation or the visionary reforms of the Hawke-Keating governments.

The government accepts that climate change is real and that human activity is contributing significantly to it through carbon pollution, and that if emissions continue to grow without restraint, our climate could change in ways that present grave risks to our economy, environment and way of life. The only responsible course is to reduce the risks of climate change by cutting carbon pollution.

We do not need to make this change overnight – indeed this economic transformation will take decades – but it is necessary that we get started. The Australian economy is deeply dependent on energy sources that generate carbon pollution. The carbon intensity of our national electricity supply is one of the highest in the world. To deliver one kilowatt of electricity to a household, we emit about 1kg of carbon pollution. The responsible path is to take measured steps towards reduced dependence on carbon pollution.

Last Friday, the government released the report of the Prime Minister’s Task Group on Energy Efficiency. The report reinforced the government’s strategy and the need for a price on carbon.

In its last term, the government introduced legislation that would have put a price on carbon. However, the Greens and the Coalition blocked this legislation three times in the Senate.

We know, of course, of the division within the Coalition over the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. But the fact that the Greens blocked the CPRS three times has received surprisingly little attention. The CPRS was a cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme that would have delivered quantifiable and significant reductions in pollution. If the CPRS had been legislated, in the year 2020 our carbon pollution would have been at least 144 million tonnes lower than it is at present projected to be. By way of comparison, this is roughly two-thirds of Australia’s emissions from electricity generation, or roughly twice our road transport emissions.

The Greens wanted stronger targets and deeper cuts in pollution and less transitional support for industry. Now that their focus on the primacy of their targets appears to have been set aside and they have joined the government’s multi-party climate change committee, I look forward to their involvement in consideration of the real economic effects of public policy in this area.

Passing legislation on carbon pricing was never going to be easy. Big economic reforms never are. But change we must. If we are to remain internationally competitive in the long term, our industries must become less carbon intensive. Putting a price on carbon pollution tilts the economic balance in favour of low pollution options.

The repeated finding of independent analysis is that a carbon price mechanism is the cheapest way to reduce carbon pollution.

Decentralising the signal to abate, through a carbon price, means the government does not have to prescribe to individual firms or sectors how they are to reduce their emissions. A carbon price therefore encourages ingenuity and innovation. It does this through the everyday decisions of investors and businesses.

Alternatives to a market-based mechanism, such as regulatory or subsidy-based approaches, cannot alone operate on the scale required to meet the government’s targets and would be extremely costly. Put simply, other approaches, such as that proposed by the opposition, will cost Australians more and will not be able to deliver the emissions reductions of the scale required to meet our targets. It is an odd time in Australian politics when an apparently market-friendly Liberal Party advocates old-school Soviet-style command and control measures rather than supporting a market-based solution to such a great challenge.

The impracticality of these alternative approaches was confirmed in the advice provided by the Treasury to the government and opposition. The advice was that: “Direct action measures alone cannot do the job without imposing significant economic and budget costs . . . Moreover, many of the direct action measures cannot be scaled up to achieve significant levels of abatement, and for those that can be scaled up, the cost per tonne of abatement would rise rapidly.” In the long term, if global carbon pollution emissions are not reduced, the risks to our economy, country and way of life are too great. Both Nicholas Stern and Ross Garnaut have made it clear that the costs of this transition will be much greater if we don’t start now.

The absence of a carbon price is already having significant effects. Without a carbon price, business must build more risk into investment calculations, with the result that investment will be more expensive than it needs to be, leading to less investment taking place.

This is occurring already.

The chief executive of the Energy Supply Association of Australia, Brad Page, has stated that the uncertainty related to domestic climate change policy will result in a rash of smaller capacity, open-cycle gas turbine generators being built to meet incremental rises in energy demand, rather than fewer but more cost and emission-efficient baseload combined cycle gas plants. This is supported by analysis undertaken by AGL and the Climate Institute. They estimate that uncertainty caused by a delay in a carbon price, could cost the economy and consumers up to $2 billion a year in higher electricity prices or about $60 a household in 2020. Let me make this clear, opposition to a carbon price will force up electricity prices.

As previous big economic reforms have taught us, we sometimes need to do difficult things for the sake of our long-term national prosperity.

Our priority now is to agree on carbon pricing arrangements that are achievable, economically responsible and fair. This reform will create jobs, strengthen the economy and build a sustainable environment. Combined with the great strides we are already making on renewable energy and energy efficiency, a carbon price is a structural reform that will ensure Australia begins its transformation towards the low-pollution economy of the future.


Finally, a Wake Up Call on Energy Efficiency

Posted by admin on October 15, 2010
Posted under Express 130

Finally, a Wake Up Call on Energy Efficiency

In welcoming the Government’s energy efficiency task force report, the Australian Conservation Foundation says improving efficiency 30% by 2020 will help Australia catch up with countries like China, while Rob Murray-Leach, CEO of the Energy Efficiency Council and an advisor to the Task Group says this is a wake-up call for Australia. “It shows that energy efficiency programs would strengthen the economy, cut energy bills and slash carbon emissions.”

From the Australian Conservation Foundation (8 October 2010):

Energy efficiency and price on pollution both needed

The recommendations of the Prime Minister’s taskforce on energy efficiency will help reduce electricity bills for Australian households and businesses and should be implemented immediately, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

“This report on energy efficiency joins the chorus of voices in Australia calling for a price on pollution to help us make the switch to a cleaner economy,” ACF executive director Don Henry said.

“A target to improve the energy efficiency of the Australian economy by 30 per cent by 2020 will help Australia catch up with countries like China, which has improved its efficiency by 20 per cent over the last five years.

“Under current Government policy, Australia’s fuel efficiency standards for new vehicles will be a quarter of a century behind China’s by the time they are made law in 2024.

“We urge the Government to fast track this report’s recommendations for mandatory fuel efficiency standards for light vehicles.

“The recommendation to implement the proposed Henry Tax Review reform of the fringe benefits tax benefits for vehicles is welcome.

“Further reforms could save the government $222 million dollars a year and further cut pollution.

“The recommendation for a national energy savings initiative to replace existing state schemes is welcome and should be swiftly put into practice.

“ACF urges the government to begin implementing these reforms now in parallel with the necessary introduction of a price on pollution.”


Media Release from the Energy Efficiency Council (8 October 2010):

Task Group report a wake-up call

The energy efficiency industry welcomed the Prime Minister’s Task Group on Energy Efficiency report as a serious start to making Australia a competitive, low-carbon economy.

“This report is a wake-up call for Australia. It shows that energy efficiency programs would strengthen the economy, cut energy bills and slash carbon emissions. This is a win-win-win,” said Rob Murray-Leach, CEO of the Energy Efficiency Council and an advisor to the Task Group.

Energy efficiency saves money simply because it uses less of a valuable resource. Modelling on just one measure, the National Energy Savings Initiative, found that it would save households up to $296 a year. This means that Australia has a huge opportunity to cut its carbon emissions and save money.

ClimateWorks Australia estimates that improving Australia’s energy efficiency would save homes and businesses $5 billion a year and cut emissions by 50 million tonnes a year.

Energy efficiency is the single biggest opportunity to cut global carbon emissions. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) estimates that 55 per cent of emission cuts in Australia to 2050 will need to come from energy efficiency.

“The rest of the world worked out that energy efficiency would boost their global competitiveness some time ago, and have been steaming ahead. In the meantime, we’ve been pouring money down the drain. Australia has a fantastic opportunity to turn this around,” said Rob Murray-Leach.

The report identifies a range of barriers that there are a range of barriers to energy efficiency. The report states that this means that we need multiple policies to drive energy efficiency, including a price on carbon price and dedicated energy efficiency policies.

“We have to have a price on carbon to meet Australia’s 2020 emission reduction targets. However, a price on carbon needs to be accompanied by energy efficiency policies – this will dramatically lower the cost of meeting our targets,” said Rob Murray-Leach.

“The five key policies recommended by the Task Group are smart. In particular, we urge all parties to adopt the recommendations for a national energy efficiency goal and a national energy savings initiative,” said Rob Murray-leach.

“The Energy Saving Initiative is mainly about making sure that we invest in energy efficiency when it’s cheaper than investing in new energy supply. This helps lower energy prices. It’s nothing new – California and the UK have been this for years,” said Rob Murray-Leach.

“The Coalition and Greens have previously proposed energy efficiency schemes, so we anticipate cross-party support for this initiative,” said Rob Murray-Leach.

“However, the report is much bigger than just the big five recommendations. There are important ideas throughout the report, particularly for industry, buildings, cogeneration and the energy market. The community really needs to have a serious discussion about these ideas,” said Rob Murray-Leach.

“This report has drawn a line in the sand. We can either continue to bury our head in the sand, or take up the challenge to make Australia a competitive, low-carbon economy.” Said Rob Murray-Leach.


Biosequestration the MBD way: from Coal through Algae to Clean Fuel

Posted by admin on October 15, 2010
Posted under Express 130

Biosequestration the MBD way: from Coal through Algae to Clean Fuel

Queensland Government has committed A$1 million for a groundbreaking trial which uses algae to soak up carbon emissions from the Tarong Power Station, the first coal-fired power station in Australia to use the technology as part of the $5 million MBD Energy Limited trial. MBD’s Tony St Clair will be speaking about his company’s progress in biosequestration in Australia at next week’s 3rd Algae World Asia 2010 conference in Singapore.

Ken Hickson reports from the Carbon Expo in Melbourne where MBD CEO Andrew Lawson provided an update on the company’s plans to capture CO2 to feed its algae plants to produce clean energy in Australia.

Next week, on 19/20 October the 3rd Algae World Asia 2010 will be held in Singapore. MBD’s Tony St Clair is not only one of the keynote speakers, but also session chairman on day two. For the full programme of the conference go to

Here we provide just a glimpse or an overview of the MBD presentation by Tony St Clair on the subject:

Algal capture and conversion of CO2emissions for the sustainable production of biomass, oil and other algae products

MBD is the Australian leader in large scale, algae based bio-fuel and food production, and CO2bio-sequestration

•Strong and experienced Board and Executive Management Team

•Compelling sustainable solution to 3 significant world issues: oil, food and CO2

•Modular , scalable, fully integrated and automated low cost algae based “CO2to energy” system

•Signed Formal Agreements with 3 major Australian CO2emitters -Binding Contracts (Tarong) /MOUs (Loy Yang & Eraring)

•Staged Deployment of 1 Hectare (ha) “proof-of-concept” underway -insituat Tarong PowerStation over 12 months to 3Q11

•3 Stage Commercialisation Plan: (1) Display, 2011; (2) Commercial, 2013; (3) Large Scale Expansion, 2015

•2 Patent Applications submitted: (1) International “PCT” (2009); and (2) Expanded “Provisional”(2010)

•Exclusive relationship, and access to proprietary algae libraries (both micro and macro), with world leading algae Research expertise at James Cook University (JCU), Queensland

•Existing large scale Research and Development Facility (5000m2) at JCU

•Cornerstone Investor -Anglo American, 2009

•Secured (thus far) in-excess of A$6.4M in Federal and State Government Grants

•Established Partnerships with Key Tier-1 services and technology suppliers

Joint Statement by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Minister for Main Roads, Hon. Craig Wallace

(11 October 2010):

Government invests $1 million in algae carbon capture project

The State Government has committed $1 million for a groundbreaking trial which uses algae to soak up carbon emissions from a coal fire power station.

Premier Anna Bligh said Tarong Power Station near Kingaroy will be the first coal-fired power station in Australia to try the technology as part of the $5 million MBD Energy Limited Tarong trial.

Premier Anna Bligh said the technology would not only capture CO2 from the plant but it would also produce a range of valuable products.

“In simple terms the algae eats the carbon and then produces material that can be used in things like bio-diesel, stockfeed and bio-plastics,” she said.

“This technology has enormous potential to make a positive impact in our battle against climate change,” she said.

“But the products it can produce means it could also be worth many millions of dollars to the Queensland economy.”

Ms Bligh said that as part of the trial MBD Energy would start construction on a one hectare algal biomass display plant beside Tarong Power Station, 180km north-west of Brisbane, in December.

“The research and development for this landmark project has been undertaken at a purpose made facility at James Cook University in Townsville,” she said.

“This is a wonderful example of the sort of smart and green industry that can see Townsville become a globally recognised city.”

Premier Bligh said MBD Energy had also agreed to build facilities next to power stations in Victoria (Loy Yang A) and New South Wales (Eraring Energy), with construction underway first at Tarong.

The Tarong Power Station test plant, once fully built, is expected to capture about 700 tonnes per annum of CO2, the equivalent of taking 170 cars off the road for a year.

It is also expected to produce one tonne of algal biomass per day, 120 tonnes per annum of algal oil and 240 tonnes per annum of algal meal by 2012.

The Algal Synthesis process involves the injection of carbon gases into waste water contained in large plastic tubes to produce oil-rich algal biomass every 24 hours.

Member for Thuringowa Craig Wallace said: “It can be harvested every day to produce algal meal suitable for animal feed and oils that can be used to make plastics and transport fuels.

“It’s a clever concept and I take my hat off to the local team at JCU for their ingenuity,” he said.

Member for Townsville Mandy Johnstone said that the sale of the products could offset the cost of building and operating the carbon capture technology.

“For technology such as this to be developed in Townsville shows the great potential our city has to become a global leader in tropical technology,” she said.

Member for Mundingburra Lindy Nelson-Carr said there had already been successful trials of the technology at JCU’s Townsville campus.

“This new trial is about testing the technology on an industrial scale and this Townsville developed technology has a real chance of making a difference in the battle against climate change,” she said.

MBD Energy Limited’s Managing Director Andrew Lawson welcomed the Queensland Government funding, saying it would directly assist MBD and JCU establish the proven technology at the company’s Algal Synthesiser at Tarong.

“If successful we expect to commercialise the Tarong project by expanding to approximately 80 hectares, thereby producing 11 million litres per annum of algal oil and 25,000 tonnes of algal meal and abating approximately 70,000 tonnes of CO2 during 2013,” Mr Lawson said.

Director of JCU’s North Queensland Algal Identification and Culturing Facility Associate Professor Kirsten Heimann said the Tarong project would confirm selection of the best strain of microalgae.

“Strain selection and management is a vital component to the success of large scale algae biomass production,” she said.


Attaining Sustainable Urban Development Singapore-style

Posted by admin on October 15, 2010
Posted under Express 130

Attaining Sustainable Urban Development Singapore-style

The next 15 to 20 years would be of immense challenge to Asia, because of the magnitude of urbanisation that is going to take place in South-east Asia, India and China, Singapore’s Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam told a forum in Washington, under the auspices of the World Bank and International Enterprise Singapore. To reinforce sustainability in Singapore, nature enthusiasts last week planted 2,570 plants, shrubs and trees in Orchard Road (pictured is Lend Lease’s 313 Somerset building) to entice butterflies to breed there. Meanwhile Finland’s Neste Oil will soon begin making low-emissions diesel at a 550 million-euro ($762 million) plant in Singapore.

Planning ‘vital’ for Asia’s growing cities:
Tharman warns breakneck pace of development could go awry without a long-term overview

Chua Chin Hon in Singapore’s Straits Times (10 October 2010):

Washington – The rapid urbanisation of Asia and the developing world could easily go awry if the breakneck pace of development is not integrated with long-term planning and best practices from around the world, Singapore’s Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has said.

Speaking at a forum here last Thursday on how Singapore’s experience in sustainable development could be replicated or customised for developing countries, he added that the challenge for Asian policymakers would be particularly pronounced, given that the urbanisation process is taking place within a relatively shorter time frame.

‘The next 15 to 20 years would be of immense challenge to Asia, because of the magnitude of urbanisation that is going to take place in South-east Asia, India and China,’ Mr Tharman said at the forum, which was jointly held by the World Bank and International Enterprise Singapore, the agency spearheading the development of Singapore’s external economic wing.

‘The task of providing reasonably high-quality, high-density living, and organising cities so as to allow for economic innovation and growth, is an immense challenge,’ he added.

Experts believe that the world will have 26 mega-cities by 2025, each with a population of more than 10 million. Many of them will be in booming Asian countries like China and India, which are undergoing rapid development.

It has been estimated that 70 per cent of the Chinese population and 46 per cent of the Indian population will live in an urban environment in the next two decades, leading to heightened pressure on resources and the need for better ways to control congestion and pollution.

Touching on Singapore’s experience in managing urbanisation over the years, Mr Tharman said the chief lesson learnt was the importance of long-term, integrated planning.

Without thorough planning, it would be hard to find a good balance between the competing and often conflicting needs for housing, transportation, industrial activity and a clean environment.

‘Planning ahead before the need becomes urgent is written into the culture of every government agency (in Singapore),’ said Mr Tharman. ‘If you don’t plan ahead, it is hard to find the right trade-offs.’

Another key feature of Singapore’s approach towards urbanisation is in letting the market decide how best to allocate scarce resources, like land and water, whenever possible.

But in areas where market forces are inadequate, such as public housing or pension funds, policymakers have to intervene in order to maintain greater societal balance, he noted.

Added Mr Tharman: ‘We are not a model of something that has reached perfection, but merely a model of constant learning and adaptation that tries to use the best ideas from around the world.’

Officials from Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and Public Utilities Board also shared their experience with about 100 World Bank officers from Asia and Africa at the conference.

More plants in Orchard Rd to attract butterfly breeding

By Lynda Hong in Channel News Asia (12 October 2010):

SINGAPORE: Nature enthusiasts on Tuesday planted 2,570 plants, shrubs and trees at Orchard Road to entice butterflies to breed there.

The patch of lush green at Penang Road Open Space, along with the 280 square metre garden on the top two floors of Orchard Central are the 14th designated butterfly sites of Singapore’s Nature Society.

The 14th designated butterfly sites of the Butterfly Trail Project is a strategic partnership project among Nature Society (Singapore), National Parks Board, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Orchard Road Business Association.

But enthusiasts said growing a butterfly population at 12 storeys high was a challenge.

Nature Society Singapore’s Butterfly Interest Group chairperson Gan Cheong Weei said: “They will not fly up in (an) open area because there is no shelter; no protection.

“But if there are tall trees, they will fly up. (Or) if there is enough population (there) and (if) there are host plants and flowering plants up there.

“But of course this is all nature and we try our best to bring it there and we cross our fingers (that) they will do what we want them to do”.


By Alex Morales and Todd White for Business Week/Bloomberg (6 October 2010):

Neste Oil Oyj will soon begin making low-emissions diesel at a 550 million-euro ($762 million) plant in Singapore, ramping up production of renewable fuels that may provide a third of earnings after 2012, a company official said.

“We’re very close to start-up,” Jarmo Honkamaa, deputy chief executive officer of Neste Oil, Finland’s only petroleum refiner, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “We’re well on time and within the budget” for the project, which uses plant and animal products as feedstock.

Neste is investing more than 1 billion euros together in the Singapore plant and a second one to open in Rotterdam next year as it banks on government mandates in Europe and North America to boost sales of “clean” diesel, which pollutes less than petroleum-based diesel fuel.

After 2012, biofuels may contribute a third of Espoo-based Neste’s earnings before interest and tax, or Ebit, Honkamaa said. “The renewable fuels business has this year not contributed anything to the bottom line, because it has been negative numbers,” he said.

Honkamaa’s estimate is reasonable and represents a return on investment of about 15 percent in 2013, Antti Koskivuori, an analyst at Evli Bank in Helsinki with a “reduce” rating on the stock, said in an interview.

“They’re expecting the difference in price between renewable diesel and palm oil to be similar on average to where it´s been in the past three to five years,” Koskivuori said.

Most of the raw materials for the Singapore plant — initially palm oil and later also animal fats — have been contracted already, with a mixture of 2- to 3-year, 1-year and 3-month agreements reached, the executive said, declining to name the providers. A similar mix of sales agreements for the finished product is set, he said.

‘Gradual Ramp-Up’

“It will be a gradual ramp-up of production,” Honkamaa said. “In the first month we’ll get to around half of maximum capacity, and in the second month we will be getting close to the full capacity” of 800,000 metric tons a year. Honkamaa declined to say what date production will begin.

The plant in Rotterdam, which will have the same volume as the Singapore refinery, is on course to open “by next summer” and will come in “some tens of millions of euros below” its original price tag of 670 million euros, he said.

The markets first will be mainly in Europe and then in North America, Honkamaa said. “We may have some deliveries this year but significant volumes will come next year.”

Going forward, Honkamaa said he expects markets in Asia to grow as well as California.

“We are talking with some of the players in the Asian market. Japan is an interesting market, maybe South Korea,” he said. “We’d love to see some volume staying in Singapore, and in the longer term China is interesting.”


Carbon Expo Launch for SpectrumCredit and Carbon Market Institute

Posted by admin on October 15, 2010
Posted under Express 130

Carbon Expo Launch for SpectrumCredit and Carbon Market Institute

Climate Friendly announced at the Carbon Expo that it has established SpectrumCredit, which  makes it easy to support multiple offset projects overseas, including a biomass project in Thailand, a fuel-switching project in Brazil, an energy efficiency initiative in Cambodia, landfill gas recovery in China and renewable energy in India. Meanwhile, the Victorian Government is supporting the establishment of the new Carbon Market Institute in Melbourne.

Reports from Carbon Expo, Melbourne (13 October 2010):


Victoria will become home to the national Carbon Market Institute thanks to a $3.5 million contribution from the Brumby Labor Government.

Financial Services Minister John Lenders said the new initiative would give Melbourne the advantage to become a major centre for carbon market business in the Asia-Pacific region.

Speaking at Carbon Expo Australasia 2010 today, Mr Lenders said the funding would be used to establish a national Carbon Market Institute to help Australian businesses with the implementation of climate-related markets.

“The Brumby Labor Government is leading Australia in tackling climate change and helping businesses prepare for a carbon constrained future,” Mr Lenders said.

“The new institute will help businesses develop and implement new ways to cut their carbon emissions effectively.

“By taking action now we are positioning Victorian industry to capitalise on the sustainable opportunities being created as the world prepares for the realities of climate change. While we support an emissions trading scheme we recognise that it is just one of a number of mechanisms that Australia may eventually adopt to facilitate carbon reduction.

“Accordingly the Institute will stand ready to help industry capture the opportunities and manage the liabilities, whatever climate change policies are eventually passed by the Commonwealth Parliament.”

The Institute will be an independent, not for profit organisation established in partnership with the Asia-Pacific Emissions Trading Forum. It will be located in VECCI’s East Melbourne headquarters.

It will provide Australian industry with business networking, research and market analysis, education and training, professional standards and accreditation and international engagement. It will also boost local jobs.

“We are home to the majority of Australian companies that will need to comply with a price on carbon and we are also home of the Australian Energy Market Operator and a centre for Australian energy markets,” Mr Lenders said.

Mr Lenders said the new Institute would build further on Victoria’s leadership in climate change action.

“The Victorian Climate Change White Paper launched earlier this year puts us at the forefront of Australian action to combat global warming and sets a new target to cut greenhouse emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2020,” he said.

The new Institute is expected to be operational by January 2011, but is already taking expressions of interest in memberships through the Asia-Pacific Emissions Trading Forum.


Climate Friendly Release (14 October 2010):

Climate change: Australians aren’t waiting for government action

As our government flounders and the carbon scheme debate goes round in circles, more and more companies and individuals in Australia are taking voluntary action to combat climate change.

From 2003 to 2009 the global voluntary market grew at 58% compound annually – making it one of the fastest growing industries in the world.

“The point is people want to get started, and they are. Our government is stagnating on plans for a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) and cannot agree on a carbon price, meanwhile climate change is happening today.” says Freddy Sharpe, CEO of Climate FriendlyTM.

The truth is that the market is right out in front of government. Whilst some people are still debating whether human created climate change is real, a rapidly growing number of businesses and individuals have already worked out their carbon footprint, started making reductions and offset the rest.

For these people, the conversation is no longer about whether it’s real, or if carbon offsetting is a means to achieving a genuine emissions reduction, the question has become: ‘Which offsetting project should I choose?’

There is a growing demand for choice of carbon offset projects. Businesses want to connect with the projects and to be able to tell their customers and staff the story of how they are helping. It’s equally meaningful to individuals.

SpectrumCredit, launched at Carbon Expo Australasia yesterday, is a world first offering that meets this demand. SpectrumCredit was developed by Sydney based company Climate FriendlyTM and allows anyone to offset their carbon footprint with a combination of clean energy technologies from five best-practice projects sourced from five countries, with purchases as small as a single tonne of C02 equivalent.

“Our clients want to support a range of technologies that collectively have the potential to address global warming,” says Sharpe. “No one technology or country can address global warming single-handedly. It’s going to take a combination of technologies in place around the world.”

SpectrumCredit makes it easy to support a biomass project in Thailand, a fuel-switching project in Brazil, an energy efficiency initiative in Cambodia, landfill gas recovery in China and renewable energy in India – all at the same time.


Insight, Conscious, Capture & Trade: No Longer Business as Usual

Posted by admin on October 15, 2010
Posted under Express 130

Insight, Conscious, Capture & Trade: No Longer Business as Usual

Perth-based tree planting business Carbon Conscious has struck a deal to supply 10,000 carbon offset units to Perenia and Intelligent Pathways has been chosen by the Victorian Government to deliver an end-to-end Environmental Data Management System (EDMS). Meanwhile, the Australian government has announced the first round of grants from the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, with two Australian projects to share $4.3 million in funds and Westpac has signed a deal to provide transactional banking services and the financial infrastructure to the newly established Carbon TradeXchange.

From Intelligent Pathways:

 Intelligent Pathways has been chosen by the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) to deliver an end-to-end Environmental Data Management System (EDMS) for the whole of Victorian government operations.

Due to the complexity of collecting and interpreting environmental data from multiple suppliers, the DSE is experiencing challenges in the following areas:

 Data management effort

 Data timeliness

 Data availability

 Level of detail of data

 Data completeness

 Reporting consistency

The EDMS will provide visibility of emissions of all departments and agencies, accuracy of data and standardised reporting. The EDMS will help relieve the burden of data management and reporting and redirect resources to analysis and action.

Intelligent Pathways is delivering an integrated solution for DSE’s EDMS that tailors our existing environmental products:

Carbon Insight – GHG inventory which is used to manage the environmental reporting structures and convert raw emissions data into the various reporting formats.

EDEN (Environmental Data Exchange Network) – Our Exchange Network which is used to capture and validate usage data from the complete network of suppliers.

Carbon Insight is a conversion, planning and reporting platform that draws data from various channels including data entry, scanned images and electronic data feeds. Reports can be generated in various formats as required for regulatory reporting and other stakeholder engagement. For DSE, this will include reporting for NGER, EREP, Watermap and FRD 24.

EDEN is an innovative and efficient way of managing the movement of data between suppliers and consumers. For DSE, this Exchange will manage data in the Energy, Waste, Water & Transport channels. EDEN provides the mechanisms through which the completeness and timeliness of the data is managed, and allows for rapid participation in the network by all participants in the supply chain. Ultimately, it drives the adoption of standards in both the transfer and the definition of environmental data.

Intelligent Pathways is an Australian owned technology company specialising in enterprise systems integration and software engineering in the areas of environmental management, fleet and logistics. We have a successful track record in the delivery of large scale, mission critical systems for government and medium-to-large organisations.


In Climate Spectator (13 October 2010):

The Australian government has announced the first round of grants from the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, with two Australian projects to share $4.3 million in funds, but the bulk of money to go to projects in the US and Europe. The $100 million institute is almost entirely funded by Australian government money, although it did receive its first $500,000 from the US government earlier this month.

Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson sees CCS as critical for the long-term future of coal, and believes that Australia, with more than 80 per cent of its stationary energy coming from coal and as the world’s largest exporter of the commodity, has a special interest in seeing CCS brought to the market. There is, however, great debate about the ability of CCS to compete with other lower-cost technologies – such as algae and other biosequestration – that could achieve an equal amount of abatement in an international market.

The six winners were chosen from more than 50 applications, with two projects selected from Australia, two in the US and two in Europe (Holland and Romania). The Australian winners included CarbonNet in the Latrobe Valley, which will receive a total of $2.5 million for work on developing a “hub concept” and on a technical framework for the measurement, monitoring and validation of stored CO2.

In Queensland, the Callide Oxyfuel Project may receive $1.83 million in funding to support an injection test of CO2 into a potential storage site in various locations in south east Queensland, although terms have not been finalised. The other overseas projects include research into transport options for CO2, transporting captured CO2 via existing natural gas pipelines and storing it in saline aquifers, a concept study into a new 600MW coal-fired power station in the US with 85-90 per cent capture, and on a US power plant retrofit.

Westpac supports CTX

Westpac has signed a deal to provide transactional banking services and the financial infrastructure to the newly established Carbon TradeXchange, the first carbon trading exchange for companies or individuals looking to participate in the voluntary carbon market. CTX is being launched in Australia by Wayne Sharpe, the Gold Coast-based founder of Bartercard, and is looking to tap into what Sharpe believes will be a multi-billion dollar global voluntary carbon market and bigger than the compliance market.

Sharpe’s team has developed the software for the exchange, which he says will be the first in the world to specialise in voluntary markets, and will rely on Westpac to provide the financial infrastructure to facilitate the trading. Westpac’s head of forex, commodities and carbon and energy trading, Paul Verschuer, says the deal forms a key part of the bank’s suite of offerings in the low-carbon sector, including financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency investments.


Reported in The West Australian (12 October 2010):

Perth-based tree planting business Carbon Conscious has struck a deal to supply 10,000 carbon offset units to international carbon solution provider Perenia.

Carbon Conscious will plant 50,000 to 70,000 mallee eucalypt trees on marginal WA farming land to deliver the units, known as Assigned Amount Units (AAU), to Perenia.

The units will be priced at $16 each, valuing the deal at $160,000

Perenia is owned by Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co, Pacific Hydro and Snowy Mountains Engineering.

Trees planted under the scheme store carbon for a 30 year period.

At 11.35am Carbon Conscious shares were flat at 11.5¢.


New Eco City Takes Cues From Human Nervous System

Posted by admin on October 15, 2010
Posted under Express 130

New Eco City Takes Cues From Human Nervous System 

A green city that has a brain and will thrive by eating its trash. That’s the story in the latest issue of the New Scientist about the new eco city of PlanIT Valley in Northern Portugal. The central computer of the city will act like a brain, regulating water use and energy consumption. Various eco-cities are in the pipeline, but this could be the first to be fully built – by 2015 – and could open its doors as early as next year.

By Helen Knight in New Scientist (11 October 2010):

An eco-city in Portugal that its makers are aiming to build by 2015 takes its cues from the nervous system

IF TODAY’S cities were living things, they would be monsters, guilty of guzzling 75 per cent of the world’s natural resources consumed each year.

Now a more benign urban creature is set to emerge. The planned city of PlanIT Valley, on the outskirts of Paredes in northern Portugal (see map), is aiming to be an environmentally sustainable city. And, just like an organism, it will have a brain: a central computer that regulates everything from its water use to energy consumption.

The central computer of the city will act like a brain, regulating water use and energy consumption

Various eco-cities are in the pipeline, but this could be the first to be fully built – by 2015 – and could open its doors as early as next year. While Masdar City in Abu Dhabi welcomed its first inhabitants this month, it will not be completed until at least 2020. And the development of Dongtan near Shanghai in China has not even got off the ground yet, following financial and political difficulties.

Like other sustainable cities, PlanIT Valley will treat its own water and tap renewable energy. Buildings will also have plant-covered roofs, which will reduce local temperature through evapotranspiration, as well as absorbing rainwater and pollutants.

Yet that is where the similarities with other eco-cities end, according to its makers Living PlanIT based in Paredes. For a start, PlanIT Valley will be built closer to existing transport links than the likes of Masdar. More significantly, its “brain” will use data collected from a network of sensors akin to a nervous system to control the city’s power generation, water and waste treatment (see “Brains and nervous system”). It’s a kind of “urban metabolism”, says Steven Lewis, chief executive of Living PlanIT.

While this network of sensors sounds expensive, the cost of installing it will be offset by using more efficient building techniques. “Because we have reduced the cost of the building, we can spend a bit more on the technology,” says Lewis. For example, software used to design cars and aircraft was used to create the architectural plans.

What’s more, the buildings are being prefabricated so that when construction begins at the end of 2010 it should be cheaper and quicker. The hexagonal shape of the buildings was chosen to make efficient use of space.

The city’s technologies could be retrofitted to existing towns. This would be a good idea, says Simon Joss of the University of Westminster in London. Still, he adds that the 2015 completion date may be optimistic, and that the project’s success cannot be determined until people move in. “It’s about developing a community,” he says.

Brain and nervous system

PlanIT Valley will have its own artificial nervous system to control its water and energy consumption.

Sensors in every building will measure occupancy, temperature, humidity and energy use. This information will be fed to a central “brain”, along with information on energy production from photovoltaic devices and wind turbines, as well as water used and waste produced.

The brain can then use this information to control each aspect of the city. For example, if sensors show that the water level in one building’s storage tank is low, the system will move water from another building where there is an excess.

It will also use weather forecasts to predict when days will be cloudy, which will reduce the amount of energy generated by the city’s photovoltaic devices. It would then switch to using stored energy, in the form of ice produced by excess electricity on sunnier days, to provide chilled water for the building’s air conditioning systems, for example.

An urban data centre will process all the information gathered by the system’s sensors – around 5 petabytes each day. To prevent a problem hitting the data centre and knocking out the control of the entire city, each building will also have sufficient computing power to function on its own.

To save on heating bills, the hot air produced by the data centre will be used to heat other buildings.


Only 3 per cent of the water consumed in a city is used for drinking and cooking, so buildings in PlanIT Valley will re-use as much water as possible.

Cooking water can be collected and reused for flushing toilets. Similarly, rainwater will be collected by tanks on the “green roofs” of buildings and then filtered by the plants to remove pollutants. A series of lagoons in the city’s central park will use reeds, bamboo and other plants to filter waste water, making it suitable for reuse as “grey” water in toilets and irrigation.

Once these plants have grown, consuming carbon dioxide as they do so, they will be cut down and used to produce biofuel, with a new batch planted to replace them.

Eyes and ears

If a child goes missing, its parents could turn to the city’s eyes: a network of cameras connected to software.

An application called “Find my Kid” will allow parents to locate children who wander off at the shopping centre, for example. Software first checks if the person asking for the information has a right to know the answer – a father, say – and then automatically searches footage from security cameras to identify the child based on a description of their clothing and appearance.

Find my Kid is one example of the “Place Apps”, which Living PlanIT hopes to develop by collaborating with software firms. They could be available at computer terminals dotted around the city or in smartphones. Other possible apps could help inhabitants find a parking space, for example.

The apps could also use microphones to listen for sounds. A Place App designed to run in the meeting room of an office building could identify the topic of the meeting from the use of certain spoken keywords. Then it could suggest potential collaborators within or outside the company, Lewis proposes.


This city will thrive by eating its trash.

On average, cities divert only 5 per cent of trash for recycling or energy production. That figure will be 80 per cent for PlanIT Valley.

Human and organic waste will be used to generate electricity. An anaerobic digester will use enzymes to stimulate microbes to digest such waste, producing chemicals that can be fermented and distilled into biofuels to run the city’s cars or to generate electricity. The process also generates by-products such as amino acids and vitamin B12, which can be sold to the pharmaceutical industry.

Dishwasher-sized digesters are also being developed for homes. Fed by a tablet containing enzymes, these would process food and human waste to generate biofuel, which can then be burned to generate electricity.

Of the remaining landfill waste, any aluminium will be extracted and used in industrial chemical reactions to generate hydrogen, which could be used as a fuel to power vehicles.

Finally, a biomass reactor will heat whatever waste cannot be recycled to 400 °C without oxygen, a process known as pyrolysis, to generate energy and biochar, which can be used as a fertiliser.

Residents will not be asked to separate plastic and glass in their trash. All waste is fed through the central digester, which cleanses materials of organic contamination, before they are separated. That means more can be recycled.