Archive for the ‘Express 105’ Category

Coming clean on emissions and energy

Posted by admin on April 21, 2010
Posted under Express 105

Coming clean on emissions and energy

A volcanic eruption in Iceland has forced airlines to come clean. To stay on the ground to avoid the disastrous consequences of having their jet engines bombarded with glass and dust particles. Is this nature’s way of showing us what power it has to even put down international aviation? Or is it a clue to why we have to seriously cut back our emissions anyway?  Either way, airlines are looking at the viability of biofuels to replace fossil fuels. Peter Beattie tells us there are opportunities here, as does Boeing. Once the sky clears, we can also see other innovations and opportunities: an advance for electric vehicles in France and a boost for solar power in Australia. Energy efficiency rears its welcome head with news from Siemens, Intel and Carbon View. Biosequestration and Carbon Conscious go together, as do bananas, sugar and beer, believe it or not, when it comes to bio fuels. The World Bank puts a price on Asia’s head for renewable energy, while the US military warns us about the oil crunch. The Rudd Government gets a blast for its Green Loans scheme handling and gets a chance to bring in a new carbon tax. Lucky last, Graham Readfearn gives us the low-down on population pressure at home and aboard.  People need people, don’t they?

Ken Hickson

Profile: Peter Beattie

Posted by admin on April 21, 2010
Posted under Express 105

Profile: Peter Beattie

Better known for his big air travel “footprint” and his regular media appearances, former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie is now highlighting the value of biofuels for the aviation sector and the opportunities this presents for Australia in research and development. He now has a regular column in The Australian which helps him spell out his role as Queensland’s promoter of trade and as Commissioner for The Americas.  

Peter Beattie in The Australian (19 April 2010):

AUSTRALIA needs to become increasingly creative, thinking outside the square and ticking new trade and research boxes if we are going to maintain our competitive advantage and standard of living by 2050.

This means being a world leader in research and, importantly, the commercialisation of research, as well as being aggressive in new markets like Latin America. We cannot just put all our eggs in the one basket of resource exports without a long-term strategy of value-adding. That’s why this week there were two good signs for Australia’s long-term future.

Firstly, Boeing hosted the second Aero Environment Summit in Sydney on Wednesday. The summit brought together airlines, engine manufacturers, academics and regulatory bodies to consider the next steps in the development and rollout of sustainable aviation biofuels.

On the face of it, this is not particularly compelling, but the facts tell a different story.

Boeing now believes that viable and environmentally sustainable biofuels can be a reality by 2015. Airbus is just as optimistic.

A number of test flights have shown that jet fuel derived from algae can be burned safely, reliably and efficiently and can even be done without having to make modifications to existing jet engines.

By all indications, the major aviation authorities are set to start certifying biofuels for jets this year.

Queensland is leading the way on this, through the creation of an aviation biofuels consortium out of the University of Queensland. The consortium includes Boeing, Mackay Sugar and IOR Energy and is working with a who’s who of the global aviation and energy industries: the likes of Airbus, Virgin Blue, Qantas, Air New Zealand, Honeywell, GE Engines, Pratt & Whitney, CFM, BP and Caltex, legendary US research institutions like Clemson University, Savannah River National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory working alongside the James Cook University at Townsville — they are all involved in one way or another. The Queensland government is directly funding researchers to work on it, and US companies like Amyris and Boeing are pumping big dollars into it.

This technology is well advanced. It is happening and Australia is well positioned to be a key player in an entirely new industry. It will be an industry underpinned by great research and innovation with enormous potential to commercialise the intellectual property and create new jobs.

This is exactly what I mean by thinking outside the square — it will be through these types of initiatives that Australia will be able to value-add to its traditional industries and ensure our long-term growth, as energy sources change and technology advances at an ever increasing rate.

Which brings me to the second good sign — a large number of Australian companies are here in Santiago, Chile, at one of the largest mining shows in the world, Expomin.

Neither Chile nor these companies have been deterred by the recent terrible earthquake, both adopting the view that “trade, not aid” is the way forward.

The companies don’t just turn up for the expo. It’s just a stepping stone to access one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, Latin America.

The importance of Australia’s presence in the region was emphasised by Trade Minister Simon Crean’s address to a packed business gathering at the ambassador’s residence this week. Queensland, Victoria, NSW and South Australia all had representatives here, and there is universal agreement that Latin America is a strategic market to be investing in — particularly the countries of Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Peru and Mexico. China is playing an investment role here as it seeks to diversify its markets.

Thankfully, Australia is doing the same.

Next week, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh will lead a trade delegation of Queensland companies to Chile, Peru, Colombia and Brazil to further open up this market for our companies.

A lot of work still needs to be done, but the long-term signs for Australia are getting better in terms of diversifying our access to new markets and energy research capacity.

Peter Beattie, the former Queensland premier, is Queensland commissioner for the Americas, based in Los Angeles.


The Good, The Bad & the Ugly of Iceland’s Volcano

Posted by admin on April 21, 2010
Posted under Express 105

The Good, The Bad & the Ugly of Iceland’s Volcano

As scientists said that there was no sign that the current eruption from below the Eyjafjallajokull glacier  was linked to global warming, they pointed to a  thaw of Iceland’s ice caps in coming decades caused by climate change which may trigger more volcanic eruptions by removing a vast weight and freeing magma from deep below ground. As the airline industry is counting the cost of the volcanic cloud keeping its jets grounded, at least aviation emissions are being saved until they fly again. But the volcano is doing enough damage on its own, emitting between 150,000 and 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per day.


Reported by AFP (20 April 2010):


Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano is emitting between 150,000 and 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per day, a figure placing it in the same emissions league as a small-to-medium European economy, experts said on Monday.

Assuming the composition of gas to be the same as in an earlier eruption on an adjacent volcano, “the CO2 flux of Eyjafjoell would be 150,000 tonnes per day,” Colin Macpherson, an Earth scientist at Britain’s University of Durham, said in an email.

Patrick Allard of the Paris Institute for Global Physics (IPGP) gave what he described as a “top range” estimate of 300,000 tonnes per day. Both insisted that these were only approximate estimates.

Extrapolated over a year, the emissions would place the volcano 47th to 75th in the world table of emitters on a country-by-country basis, according to a database at the World Resources Institute (WRI), which tracks environment and sustainable development.

A 47th ranking would place it above Austria, Belarus, Portugal, Ireland, Finland, Bulgaria, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland, according to this list, which relates to 2005.

Experts stressed that the volcano contributed just a tiny amount – less than a third of one percentage point – of global emissions of greenhouse gases.

Total emissions by six heat-trapping gases in 2005 were more than 36 thousand million tonnes (36 gigatonnes) as measured in CO2, according to the WRI index.

“It’s not of any significance compared to the anthropogenic [manmade] budget,” said Kjetil Toerseth, director of regional and global pollution at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research.

Specialists cautioned those who believe the eruption is good for climate change as carbon-emitting jetliners are unable to take to the skies.

According to the European Environment Agency (EAA), daily emissions from the aviation sector in the 27 nations of the European Union are around 440,000 tonnes per day.

Not all of this is saved because of the volcanic eruption, said the sources. Firstly, some airports in southern Europe have remained open for traffic.

In addition, carbon is emitted when passengers stranded by air travel use the train, bus, car or ferry as an alternative.

And many flights in, to and from Europe are merely being deferred until the crisis is over.

“Whether the emissions occur now or three weeks from now does not change things fundamentally,” said Herve Le Treut, a French climatologist.

“Another point is that these emissions are of long duration. CO2 is dangerous because it stays in the atmosphere for about a hundred years. Its short-term effect is not the big problem.”


Times, London ( 20 April 2010:


LONDON: The grounding of 63,000 flights over the past four days has saved 1.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, more than the annual emissions of many developing countries.

Aviation is responsible for about 2 per cent of global emissions of CO2, but accounts for a much higher proportion of emissions in European nations, which have many frequent flyers. Aircraft are responsible for more than 6 per cent of Britain’s CO2 emissions.

On a normal day, the 28,000 flights in European airspace emit about 560,000 tonnes of CO2, or a third of the world’s aviation emissions.

The Aviation Environment Federation calculated that the CO2 saving over four days had been greater than the annual emissions of Malawi, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and about 50 other developing countries.

Jeff Gazzard, the federation’s spokesman, said: “The use of trains, ferries and video conferencing has skyrocketed as planes have been grounded. While volcanic eruptions are not an everyday occurrence, surely the take-away message from the past few days is that the world has not stopped revolving and people can find alternatives to air travel. We hope that this will prompt people to stop and think about whether their flight is really necessary.”

The total environmental benefits of the grounding of aircraft may be far greater because millions of business travellers have had to find alternative ways of communicating – and some are likely to change their working habits permanently.


Alister Doyle for Reuters World Environment News (19 April 2010):

A thaw of Iceland’s ice caps in coming decades caused by climate change may trigger more volcanic eruptions by removing a vast weight and freeing magma from deep below ground, scientists said.

They said there was no sign that the current eruption from below the Eyjafjallajokull glacier that has paralysed flights over northern Europe was linked to global warming. The glacier is too small and light to affect local geology.

“Our work suggests that eventually there will be either somewhat larger eruptions or more frequent eruptions in Iceland in coming decades,” said Freysteinn Sigmundsson, a vulcanologist at the University of Iceland.

“Global warming melts ice and this can influence magmatic systems,” he told Reuters. The end of the Ice Age 10,000 years ago coincided with a surge in volcanic activity in Iceland, apparently because huge ice caps thinned and the land rose.

“We believe the reduction of ice has not been important in triggering this latest eruption,” he said of Eyjafjallajokull. “The eruption is happening under a relatively small ice cap.”

Carolina Pagli, a geophysicist at the University of Leeds in England, said there were risks that climate change could also trigger volcanic eruptions or earthquakes in places such as Mount Erebus in Antarctica, the Aleutian islands of Alaska or Patagonia in South America.


“The effects would be biggest with ice-capped volcanoes,” she said. “If you remove a load that is big enough you will also have an effect at depths on magma production.”

She and Sigmundsson wrote a 2008 paper in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters about possible links between global warming and Icelandic volcanoes.

That report said that about 10 percent of Iceland’s biggest ice cap, Vatnajokull, has melted since 1890 and the land nearby was rising about 25 millimetres (0.98 inch) a year, bringing shifts in geological stresses.

They estimated that the thaw had led to the formation of 1.4 cubic km (0.3 cubic mile) of magma deep below ground over the past century.

At high pressures such as under an ice cap, they reckon that rocks cannot expand to turn into liquid magma even if they are hot enough. “As the ice melts the rock can melt because the pressure decreases,” she said.

Sigmundsson said that monitoring of the Vatnajokull volcano since 2008 suggested that the 2008 estimate for magma generation was “probably a minimum estimate. It can be somewhat larger.”

He said that melting ice seemed the main way in which climate change, blamed mainly on use of fossil fuels, could have knock-on effects on geology. The U.N. climate panel says that global warming will cause more floods, droughts and rising seas.


World Bank Forecasts Winds of Change for East Asia

Posted by admin on April 21, 2010
Posted under Express 105

World Bank Forecasts Winds of Change for East Asia

Scaling up renewable energy requires putting a price on carbon and providing financial incentives to deploy renewable energy, so the World Bank said in a report this week that China, the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter, and five other East Asian nations, need a net additional investment of US$80 billion per year to get on to a sustainable energy path.

David Fogarty in Reuters World Environment News(20 April 2010):

China, the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter, and five other East Asian nations, need a net additional investment of US$80 billion per year to get on to a sustainable energy path, the World Bank said this week.

Such investment was crucial to curb an otherwise inevitable surge in planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions as regional economies grow to lift millions out of poverty and to meet the energy needs of rapid urbanization, the Bank said in a report.

The report, “Winds of change: East Asia’s sustainable energy future,” said it was possible for China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam to stabilize their greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 without compromising growth.

But the move would require major policy changes and investments in energy efficiency and a concerted switch to renewable sources of power.

Such a switch would also increase energy security while improving local environments.

Underscoring the region’s rapid rise, the bank said East Asia achieved a 10-fold increase in GDP over the past three decades, leading to a tripling of energy consumption, which was expected to double again in the next two decades.

“Countries need to act now to transform the energy sector toward much higher energy efficiency and widespread deployment of low-carbon technologies,” Jim Adams, World Bank Vice President for the East Asia & Pacific Region, said in a statement.

The report looked at two scenarios in which development continued according to current government policies and an alternative, low-carbon growth path.


Under the alternative sustainable energy development (SED) path, the report said renewable energy, including hydropower, wind, biomass, geothermal and solar, could meet a significant proportion of the region’s power needs by 2030.

And to achieve this sustainable energy path, net additional investment of $80 billion per year was needed over the next two decades, or an average of 0.8 percent of regional GDP. But mobilizing this financing was a major hurdle, the Bank said.

“Historically, financing has been a constraint in developing countries. The results have been under-investment in infrastructure and a bias toward energy choices with lower up-front capital costs,” it said.

It also estimated that approximately $25 billion per year would be required as concessional financing to cover the incremental costs and risks of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Under the reference (REF) scenario, emissions of local air pollutants and CO2 would double over the next two decades. Coal would also continue to be the dominant fuel.

This would lead to growing energy security concerns triggered by increased risks of price volatility and exposure to disruptions in energy supplies, the report says.

“Throughout the next two decades, imports of oil and gas will grow across the region. Under the REF scenario, by 2030 China is expected to import 75 percent of its oil and 50 percent of its gas demand and become the largest oil importer in the world. Malaysia and Vietnam are projected to switch from being net energy exporters to net importers,” it says.

Under the SED scenario, CO2 emissions of the six countries could peak at 2025 and decline slightly thereafter.

Local environmental damage costs by 2030 would drop to $66 billion versus $127 billion under the REF scenario.

The study said the share of coal in power generation was projected to decline from 70 percent under the REF scenario to 36 percent under the sustainable development scenario by 2030. This assumed that carbon capture and storage would play a key role.

This would also require a 3-fold increase in the share of low-carbon technologies such as renewable energy and nuclear in power generation from today’s 17 percent.

“Scaling up renewable energy requires putting a price on carbon and providing financial incentives to deploy renewable energy technologies,” the report says.


Switching on to Energy Savings & Emissions Reductions

Posted by admin on April 21, 2010
Posted under Express 105


Switching on to Energy Savings & Emissions Reductions

As Sustainable Victoria launches its CitySwitch programme to help offices save energy, Siemens and the Sustainable Melbourne Fund have joined together to make businesses run better with less energy without having to find the upfront capital. And as the Carbon Reduction Conference gets underway, listed Australian company Carbon Conscious shows that it pays for businesses to invest in offsetting their emissions even before the Governments gets its CPRS underway.

19 APRIL 2010

CitySwitch Green Office is an innovative, national program that can help your organisation reduce its energy usage and save money on energy costs. This free program offers support and advice to make your office more energy efficient, and can help enhance and promote your credentials in the sustainability area.

To celebrate the partnership between Sustainability Victoria and the Cities of Melbourne and Port Phillip, a launch event was held on 20 April as part of the first day of the Carbon Reduction Conference (visit).

The new action-focussed workbook will be presented at this free event, along with information on how CitySwitch can assist your organisation. Gavin Jennings, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, and the Mayor of Port Phillip, Frank O’Connor spoke at the launch.

CitySwitch Victoria also d the introduction of a rebate for NABERS Energy ratings.  The rebate will cover 50 percent of the cost of an assessment for CitySwitch Signatories, up to a maximum of $1000.

This rebate offer is available for organisations from the City of Melbourne or City of Port Phillip that sign-up to CitySwitch before 30 June 2010 (or until funding lasts).

To claim a rebate, a Signatory must provide CitySwitch with a copy of their NABERS Energy rating certificate, a copy of the rating invoice from their assessor and an invoice (addressed to the City of Melbourne) for the rebate amount they wish to claim for.

CitySwitch Green Office is a national tenant energy efficiency program run in partnership between the cities of Sydney, North Sydney, Parramatta, Willoughby, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth along with state government agencies, the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change & Water and Sustainability Victoria.  

With a geographical reach representing approximately 70 percent of Australia’s office space, the program works with tenants to improve office energy efficiency, thereby reducing the CO2 emissions attributed to global warming. One of the main reasons for choosing this way to bring about environmental action, is that tenants can influence up to 50 percent of total energy use in office buildings.

Source: and

Peter Balsarini, CEO of Carbon Conscious, one of the keynote speakers at the Carbon Reduction Conference in Melbourne, will be telling delegates of the advantages for companies if they act as soon as possible?

He should know as Carbon Conscious has been successful in getting major investment in offsets from the likes of Origin Energy and BP.

He says there is an early mover advantage, as there is a limited supply of Forestry AEU’s (Australian Emission Units). It also helps to secure a supply of forestry permits and develop relationships with the very limited number of major companies capable of producing large scale commercial .

And no doubt, as Origin and BP have discovered, there is an opportunity to gain competitive advantage.

Carbon Conscious Limited was one of the first to be awarded approved Abatement Provider

status under the Federal Government’s Greenhouse FriendlyTM Program (GFP) for its forest

sink Carbon Capture Program. This certifies Carbon Conscious’ business model of supplying low cost accredited carbon credits to Australian companies expected to have mandatory liabilities under the new Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS).

This is achieved via the development of native mallee eucalypt forest estates in the wheatbelt areas of Australia.

As Mr Balsarini said at the time of gaining accreditation:  “As Australia moves to include forestry offsets as a tradable permit under the CPRS, we anticipate compliance standards will be tightened. To ensure the integrity of the CPRS system it is crucial that a strong accreditation process is developed. The AGO accreditation is the obvious standard for the Federal Government to base this process upon”.

To gain accreditation under the Greenhouse FriendlyTM Program, Carbon Conscious was

required to demonstrate integrity and credibility in relation to carbon accounting. The process

required demonstration of verifiable measurement, monitoring procedures and systems. It

included significant input by industry expert’s URS Forestry and was independently reviewed by

government approved abatement system verifier GHD.

Source: and

19 April 2010:

Siemens and the Sustainable Melbourne Fund have joined together to give Melbourne businesses the opportunity to improve their energy efficiency, cut utility bills and reduce their environmental impact without having to find the upfront capital.

The combined offering from Siemens and the Sustainable Melbourne Fund will enable businesses to increase their energy efficiency and reduce their operating expenses, making them more competitive,” explained Siemens chairman and managing director, Albert Goller.

The Sustainable Melbourne Fund provides capital up to a total of $500,000 for existing buildings who meet the Fund criteria regarding sustainability.

For interested businesses, Siemens prepares an obligation-free preliminary analysis to evaluate potential energy savings. The Sustainable Melbourne Fund then reviews the report for appropriate eligibility, and subject to a favourable independent credit risk and due diligence assessment, approves the project for investment.

If the project is approved, Siemens conducts a detailed facility study and commences the implementation of the energy efficiency work. These works can be provided through a guaranteed savings arrangement under an Energy Performance Contract (EPC).

Siemens will now be able to provide businesses with guaranteed annual savings to recover project costs, along with measurement and verification of the project throughout the savings guarantee period.

Established by the Melbourne City Council in 2004, the Sustainable Melbourne Fund has already provided significant financial assistance for private projects that enhance the environment and deliver economic benefits to the City of Melbourne.

“Energy Performance Contracting is a growing trend for businesses wanting a smart and affordable building improvement solution that saves energy and money. Siemens looks forward to assisting businesses wanting to invest in environmental sustainability,” said Goller.

Any large building or group of buildings is an ideal candidate for performance contracting, including council, state and federal government sites, schools, hospitals, sporting facilities, commercial office buildings and light industrial facilities.

Siemens has already provided customised performance-based energy and environmental solutions to more than 2,000 businesses around the world.


About the Sustainable Melbourne Fund

The Sustainable Melbourne Fund was established by the Melbourne City Council as an innovative and forward-focused initiative to provide financial assistance and investment in specific projects that enhance the environment, community and economic benefits for the people of Melbourne. For more information, please go to


About Siemens in Australia and New Zealand

Commencing in Australia in 1872 and New Zealand in 1876, Siemens is now recognised as of one of the most reliable and trusted brands in the region. With well-established businesses in both Australia and New Zealand, Siemens is a diversified technology-based solutions provider specialising in the areas of water, energy, environment, healthcare, productivity, mobility, safety and security. In fiscal 2009 (September 2009), Siemens achieved AUD 1.089 billion in sales with 2,816 employees. Globally, revenue from the Environmental Portfolio totalled around EUR 23 billion (2009), making Siemens the world’s largest supplier of eco-friendly technologies. In the same period, the company’s products and solutions enabled customers to reduce their CO2 emissions by 210 million tonnes equalling the combined annual CO2 emissions of New York, Tokyo, London and Berlin. Siemens in Australia and New Zealand is part of the Siemens global network of innovation which operates in 190 countries throughout the world.

Source: and

Climate Champions: Bananas, Beer & Sugar in the Energy Mix

Posted by admin on April 21, 2010
Posted under Express 105

Climate Champions: Bananas, Beer & Sugar in the Energy Mix

While many Australian’s are happy consuming Queensland’s bananas, sugar and beer to help them power through their day, researchers at the University of Queensland are looking at ways to extract even more energy from these sources in the form of biofuels. And two sugar cane farmers in northern New South Wales been chosen to represent their industry in a national program to help other farmers manage Australia’s increasingly variable climate.

Queensland power: bananas, beer and sugarcane

While many Australian’s are happy consuming Queensland’s bananas, sugar and beer to help them power through their day, researchers at The University of Queensland are looking at ways to extract even more energy from these sources in the form of biofuels.

Over the last decade, biofuels have started to play an important role in the global energy arena, so much that they have become an increasingly viable alternative to fossil energy.

The UQ based Cooperative Research Centre for Sugar Industry Innovation through Biotechnology (CRC SIIB) is currently collaborating on a project that seeks to improve the viable production of fuel grade ethanol from Australian sugarcane, by sequencing the first sugarcane genome.

Head of the research project Professor Robert Henry said by sequencing the genome, the Australian sugarcane industry will have a fantastic platform from which to conduct all future research into enhanced cane that produce more sucrose and a vast array of environmentally friendly fuel and bio-based products.

“By understanding the biological makeup of a plant, we can be more exact in our research and also identify many more sustainable applications for sugarcane,” Professor Henry said.

While this project is seeking to enhance an already viable biofuel production method, Associate Professor Bill Clarke and his team at UQ’s Division of Environmental Engineering have turned their interest to an untapped potential energy crop – bananas.

Through his project Digestion of Waste Bananas to Generate Energy in Australia, Dr Clarke demonstrated that waste bananas and stalk material within the banana bunch are a great source of methane – a biogas product.

Given that Queensland’s banana industry produces around 60,000 tonnes of plant waste a year, it wasn’t long that Dr Clarke’s research was recognised as sustainably and economically important to the industry.

Growcom, a peak horticulture organisation transformed the research into a small commercial scale project which now process 2,500 tonnes of banana waste per year, producing over 80,000 cubic metres of methane gas – enough to run a truck and generator.

If the project becomes successful, its benefits for the Queensland banana industry will include waste mitigation, a reliable fuel source for on-farm vehicles and generators, improved greenhouse balance and an environmentally acceptable source of high quality fertiliser.

Working along the same lines as Dr Clarke, fellow UQ researcher Dr Korneel Rabaey has also been looking at new ways to produce sustainable fuels. His research with UQ’s Advanced Water Management Centre has demonstrated the viability of converting wastewater and biomass into energy-rich biofuels – among these, wastewater from breweries.

In 2007, Dr Rabaey was part of a joint project between UQ and brewing giant Foster’s to turn beer wastewater into electricity using a so-called microbial fuel cell.

“Wastewater contains nutrients (for agriculture), water (which can be purified) and organics. The latter represent both building blocks for value chemicals or can be used to generate electrical or thermal energy,” Dr Rabaey said.

Following this pilot trial, Dr Rabaey and his colleagues took the concept further, and modified the technology to produce caustic soda and hydrogen peroxide, two valuable chemicals that presently have a negative environmental – and economic – footprint. This technology is currently commercialised via a spin-off company, Bilexys Pty. Ltd.

In the long run, Dr Rabaey and colleagues aim to go even further, and use electrical current to produce biofuels and biochemicals. One example of such a fuel is butanol.

With oil becoming ever more expensive, coupled with an increased awareness of and social concern for environmental issues, the demand for biofuels, such as these, is expected to become even greater.


Robert Quirk reports on sugar farmers being recruited for Climate Champion program (announced last week):

Two sugar cane farmers have been chosen to represent their industry in a national program to help other farmers manage Australia’s increasingly variable climate.

Robert Quirk, of Tweed River, and Michael Waring, of Ingham, are participants in the Climate Champion program, which was initiated by the Managing Climate Variability Research and Development Corporation and in partnership with the Sugar Research and Development Corporation (SRDC), Grains Research & Development Corporation, Meat & Livestock Australia, Dairy Australia and Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation. 

 Mr Quirk and Mr Waring, who are sponsored by SRDC, are among 34 farmers from around Australia that have been selected for the program and were recognised for their interest in climate and weather and improving productivity on their farms. The farmers come from a wide background and represent most of Australia’s agricultural commodities including grains, livestock, wool, sugar, dairy, horticulture, grapes and wine, farm forestry and honey.

“We hope that by being part of the Climate Champion program we will help raise awareness and discussion within farming communities about new innovations for managing variable climatic conditions such as extreme heat and low rainfall,” Mr Quirk says.

“Ian McClelland, from the Birchip cropping group, will chair the group and Brisbane-based science communication firm Econnect will be the project coordinators, while Col Creighton who a lot of you would know is also helping keep us on the right track.”

Participants of the Climate Champion program met for the first time on 29 March 2010 for a two-day workshop in Canberra.

“We developed a plan that will direct our way forward and it was decided that we will be known as members of the Climate Champion program,” Mr Quirk said.

“All members have offered to host research that may help to reduce the effects of climate change.”

Mr Quirk will be doing a report on the Climate Champion program in this and other media on a regular basis.

Participants of the Climate Champion Program will have direct access to the latest climate research findings, the opportunity to run trials on their own farms, contribute to the development of new climate management tools and technologies and pass on their experiences with the changes they’ve made to their own farming systems.

The Climate Champion Program is aimed at getting research information out to farmers on new technologies and practices for dealing with climate variability and climate change. They will share the latest research findings with other farmers through various networks such as field days and farmer group meetings. Participants of the Climate Champion Program will also feed information back to researchers about what farmers need to better understand and manage climate on their properties.

Chair of the Managing Climate Variability program, Ian McClelland, says the strategy reflects that most farmers gain new knowledge and adopt new practices through interaction with their peers.

“Farmer’s value the knowledge and experience of other farmers more than from anyone else, including advice provided by agricultural consultants and researchers,” Mr McClelland says.

Productivity Gains, Flight Management & Clean Aviation Fuels

Posted by admin on April 21, 2010
Posted under Express 105

Productivity Gains, Flight Management & Clean Aviation Fuels

Research is ongoing into a number of alternative ways to produce jet biofuel, with algae remaining the great white hope, while Boeing – one of the aviation leaders driving the search for renewable energy for the industry – has found that by reducing its environmental footprint it is driving productivity improvements.  And air traffic management trials are now showing promising potential for airline fuel savings in real-world tests.

Steve Creedy, Aviation writer, for the Australian (16 April 2010):

Environmental strategies should be good business and can motivate staff, according to Boeing’s environmental program head Mary Armstrong.

Boeing ramped up its environmental strategy under chief executive Jim McInery about three years ago and has targeted a 25 per cent reduction in its environmental footprint by 2012.

It is focusing not only on its “four walls” internal processes but also on suppliers, its products in use and recycling products.

“We found that reducing the environmental footprint drives productivity improvements and the focus with our supply base is to look at the whole value stream and reduce together,” Ms Armstrong said at an aviation environmental conference held in Sydney last week.

“And every project and program we’ve looked at allows us to drive productivity and economics as well as an environmental footprint reduction so that’s really where our focus is.

“And you’ll see throughout this, our kind of action agenda and approach is (that) nothing can be environmentally sustainable if it’s not economically sustainable.”

Ms Armstrong said Boeing’s internal programs had environmental targets that included energy reductions coupled with green-house gas cuts, reducing hazardous waste and increasing the rate of recycling and reducing waste.

But it had found also that the value staff placed on the environment made them engage in a much more aggressive manner than business as usual.

“And each one of those reduction activities drives tremendous economic improvement,” she said.

“So we’ve been looking at reductions in our four walls for some time because it’s just plain good business.”

Ms Armstrong said another key element in its strategy was to become more transparent than it had been in the past.

Boeing was set to publish its third environment report and this would have the “good, the bad and the ugly”: what it was doing right, where it might not have met targets but was still moving forward, and where it had made “environmental missteps”.

“This notion of transparency, we feel, is extremely important as we build credibility in our environmental strategy,” she said.

Boeing announced this week that it was appointing Virginia Wheway to head its environmental program in Australia.

Ms Wheway, the first environmental health and safety director to be appointed outside the US, will develop Boeing’s local environmental strategy and will ensure it complies with local regulations.

To be based at Boeing Australia’s Sydney head office, she has been with the company’s advanced research and technology arm, Phantom Works, for eight years. Phantom Works has the US patent for an algorithm that monitors airborne aircraft and allows engineers to take action before a fault occurs.

Ms Wheway would report directly to her, Ms Armstrong said.


THE global financial crisis appears not to have slowed down research into biofuels but industry expectations about its growth and impact have become less certain.

Industry participants, at an environmental conference hosted by US manufacturer Boeing in Sydney this week, were split on how much of Australia’s aviation fuel would come from biofuel by 2020, with some opting for less than 5 per cent and others predicting 5 to 10 per cent.

Only one person thought it would be more than 10 per cent.

Boeing’s local operations are working on a figure of about 1 per cent local production by 2015 but the Boeing Commercial Airplanes managing director of environment strategy, Billy Glover, said it was too hard to predict what would happen.

“We’re at the beginning, the start of the slope,” he said. “No one knows what that slope will be over the next few years. We’re all aiming to push it higher in the right way.”

Mr Glover said a study early this year by E4Tech had laid out low, medium and high trajectories for the growth and availability of biofuel for aviation and had come up with a lowside projection of 5 to 10 per cent by 2020.

“They were apparently more bullish than a lot of people here,” he told the conference.

Research is ongoing into a number of alternative ways to produce biofuel, with algae remaining the great white hope.

Mr Glover, who is also chairman of the trade-based Algal Biomass Organisation, said algae researchers in the US had begun to scale-up production, facilitated by the US Defence Department’s interest in using biofuel in aircraft as well as ground and ocean-going assets. He said this had helped boost production and get people out of the laboratory into small-scale production.

“So obviously we’re seeing signs of getting to an answer. It’s still not clear, though, when and how much,” he said.

“People are protecting their intellectual property, their business opportunity until they’re pretty confident they’ll go ahead and move out.

“So I think the comments you hear are because no one’s quite showing their hand, not to the extent that you can really tell.”

Despite the uncertainty about algae, Mr Glover said he was more optimistic than he was a year ago.

He said there was some good work on cellulose waste materials and the use of animal fats.

“In the end, I think we’re just going to see a variety of things in a particular region or locality,” he said. “It’s going to be who’s there, what resources are available and what’s the local market.

“It will be really broad, and it will be changing over time as science matures and you have another option.”.

Fuel standards authorities are expected to approve biofuels for use in aircraft this year, but they will be subject to an extensive list of requirements about what process steps are required and what impurities it can contain.

Mr Glover did not believe the recession had slowed down research because most businesses were looking at a long-term plan and had investors that saw them through.

Qantas chief risk manager Rob Kella called on aircraft manufacturers to accelerate work on the next generation of improvements and predicted that setting up a supply chain for sustainable biofuels would be a long-term project critical for the industry between 2020 and 2050.

Mr Kella said the technical side of producing biofuels capable of being used in aircraft was not an issue but it was now a case of picking the right feedstock, considering different refining options and creating a supply chain that would deliver the fuel where it was needed for aircraft.

He also believed Australian airlines needed to put a more persuasive case for increased government attention on biofuels.

“I don’t think we’ve done that yet and we need to spend some more time with government about the benefits and looking at the Australian context in particular,” he said.

Improvements in air traffic management that were on the drawing board two years ago are now showing promising potential for airline fuel savings in real-world tests, according to Qantas chief risk officer Rob Kella.

The introduction of tailored arrivals and Required Navigation Performance approaches, as well as trials of the Asia and South Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions, had confirmed the airline’s preliminary view of reduced fuel usage, Mr Kella told The Australian during an environmental conference in Sydney this week. He said a call last year by Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce for greater government attention to the “infrastructure in the sky” had produced a positive response from Canberra.

“We’ve formed an air traffic management performance group, with senior levels within Qantas and Airservices Australia to really deal more strategically with how we can use this basket of different technologies and how we can roll those out effectively in an Australian context,” he said.

“I think we’re fortunate in many respects to have lots of room to manoeuvre in Australia; we’re not nearly as congested as, say, Europe and North America have been. So it’s great opportunity for Australian industry to really develop. But we’ve also got to listen to community concerns.”

Modern jets come equipped with advanced technologies that allow them to use more efficient flight paths and airport approaches. But the environmental gains from using these new approaches can put airlines at odds with local communities.

Mr Kella said the lower thrust levels needed using modern technology translated to a lower noise footprint, but it could also put planes over areas where they had not been seen before, creating a lot of angst. “So I think we’ve got to work strategically with the community, AirServices Australia, etc on how we can use this and create an open discussion . . . on how we can balance some of these competing forces, agendas if you will,” he said.

Mr Kella also warned of the “depressing” environmental regulatory situation as various governments introduced a variety of taxes, charges and emission trading schemes. He put the chances of the industry achieving a global industry approach to environmental measures at “probably no more than 50-50″.


Solar Energy Costs On a Par with Coal Fired Energy by 2015

Posted by admin on April 21, 2010
Posted under Express 105

Solar Energy Costs On a Par with Coal Fired Energy by 2015

A solar power plant developer, Silex Systems, which is investigating sites in Queensland, says solar electricity generating costs could be similar to coal-fired power costs within five years, while Brisbane-based Ingenero has helped 300 schools generate their own electricity and installed solar on the roofs of Woolworths petrol stations to feed energy into the grid.

Two stories on very significant solar developments appeared in the Courier Mail on 16 April 2010. Unfortunately these cannot be accessed online. So for the full story view a scanned copy of the articles, go to:

Think Global, Act Local: Planet Footprint, Carbon View & Intel

Posted by admin on April 21, 2010
Posted under Express 105

Think Global, Act Local: Planet Footprint, Carbon View & Intel

A new sensor and personal energy management panel made by Intel could help combat global warming by cutting electricity use by one-third, while the Premium Carbon Management Service offered by Planet Footprint and Carbon View will enable Councils to achieve full ownership and management of their carbon emissions, without spending unnecessary time collecting and managing the data needed to report those emissions.

Thursday 15 April 2010

Planet Footprint announces launch of its Premium Carbon Management Service

Planet Footprint, in partnership with CarbonView, have announced the launch of Australia’s only

carbon scorekeeping service for local government.

Planet Footprint Premium Carbon Management Service will be offered to all Australian Councils from today, and gives Councils access to a complete end-to-end service for carbon measurement, reporting and management.

The service builds upon Planet Footprint’s existing Scorekeeping Service which is currently

delivered to over 170 Councils nationally. Like the existing service, the new Premium Carbon

Management Service will deliver full management of the carbon data collection process by Planet

Footprint, detailed environmental and carbon reporting, and national and international

benchmarking and profiling.

The Premium Service will also give Councils access to CarbonView, an advanced software tool

for carbon reporting, modeling and management.

“The Premium Carbon Management Service will enable Councils to achieve full ownership and

management of their carbon emissions, without spending unnecessary time collecting and

managing the data needed to report those emissions” said Andrew Wales, Managing Director of

Planet Footprint.

Planet Footprint has selected CarbonView as its software partner for the Premium Service because

of CarbonView’s comprehensive and practical approach to carbon management.

“CarbonView understand the fundamentals of carbon scorekeeping, and have developed a

software tool that provides the exact functionality needed by Planet Footprint for delivery to

Australian local government” said Mr Wales.

Councils that subscribe to the Premium Carbon Management Service will also have access to a

team of sustainability, IT and engineering specialists to assist in applying the service within


“Because Planet Footprint works with Councils during the scorekeeping process, each Council

will retain full ownership of their data and build greater internal capacity for dealing with climate

change”, said Mr Wales.

Councils will be able to move quickly beyond talking about greenhouse action and be able to

focus more time and money on actions to improve their carbon performance. We are delighted to

support Planet Footprint with this strategic initiative” said Fadi Geha, Managing Director of

EcoView Technologies, CarbonView’s Master Distributor.

The Planet Footprint Premium Carbon Management System is available to Councils on an annual

subscription basis.

Source: and

By Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily  (17 April 2010):

A new sensor and personal energy management panel made by Intel could help combat global warming by cutting electricity use by one-third.

In an address this week during Intel’s Developer Forum in Beijing, China, Justin Rattner, chief technology officer, posed the question: What if we could make energy management personal? Just like computing was taken from the hands of big business and put into the pockets and purses of consumers. After all, computers and information technology (IT) equipment only account for two percent of the world’s power consumption.

“If we were to hugely succeed and cut IT power in half, we’d only improve things by one percent,” Rattner said. “On the other hand, there are 113 million households that represent 35 percent of total U.S. energy. Now that’s a huge number.”

Rattner says information can change behavior. He called it the “Wayne Gerdes Effect.” Gerdes, considered the father of hypermiling (the art of getting super high gas mileage at rates above 100 miles per gallon) and one of the world’s foremost experts in vehicle fuel efficiency said that if every vehicle on the road had an energy management screen, we would immediately save 20 percent of total fuel associated with vehicle operation.

“That literally could bring an end to global warming,” Rattner said. He said the same principle can be applied to household energy use.

During its presentation, Intel unveiled a single sensor that plugs into a wall outlet. The sensor is not much bigger than a night light.

Once connected, the sensor will wirelessly connect to all electrical devices in the house and self configure to record the voltages from each source in real time.

During the demonstration, the sensor detected the unique signal from three ordinary appliances: a toaster, a microwave and a refrigerator. The sensor sent the information to a PC, which displayed icons associated with the appliances and their energy consumption.

Intel says its research has revealed that consumers want to know more than how much energy they’re using and they want to know what they can do to reduce their energy consumption.

Intel engineer Mary Murphy-Hoye showed a touch screen “energy panel” that resembled Apple’s iPad tablet. The device could be used to suggest ways homeowners could further reduce their energy use. For instance, it could display a dynamic clock showing optimal times to run different appliances.

“We’re putting together a reference design right now,” Murphy-Hoye said. Intel expects to have the sensor and the personal energy management panel available before the end of the year.

Intel estimates the average U.S. household could reduce energy consumption by 15 to 31 percent and save up to $470 per year in electricity costs using its system.

Murphy-Hoye tested a prototype of the system in her own home, and used sensors to track and analyze her family’s energy use.

She reported the feedback had immediate effects on her family and led to the discovery of new ways to save energy. The first thing everyone did after seeing the energy graph on the family PC was to turn off the lights, she said.

The system also revealed that the water heater was automatically firing up even when she set the washing machine on cold, in order to heat the water to a less cold temperature before the washer filled. This revelation led Murphy-Hoye to find the “tap water” setting on her water heater, which proved to be more energy efficient.

Murphy-Hoye said her time with the system convinced her that it’s important for people to not only understand their energy use, but also make it really simple for them to use that information to change their behavior.


50,000 Electric Vehicles: France Commits to Infrastructure & Production

Posted by admin on April 21, 2010
Posted under Express 105

50,000 Electric Vehicles: France Commits to Infrastructure & Production

Deployment plan for hybrid and electric vehicles: commitment from 12 local governments to install charging infrastructures starting from 2010 and announced the legal creation of the consortium which will place the order of 50,000 electric vehicles with a range of at least 150km.

The French government presents the progress of its hybrid and electric vehicles deployment plan.

Special thanks to Philippe Reboul – organiser of Australia’s first Electric Vehicle Conference – for the translation of the announcement

13 APRIL 2010, PARIS:

Deployment plan for hybrid and electric vehicles: commitment from 12 local governments to install charging infrastructures starting from 2010 and launch of the first order for 50,000 electric vehicles.

Jean-Louis BORLOO, Minister for the Environment, Energy, Sustainability and the Sea, in charge of

Green Technology and Climate Change negotiations, and Christian ESTROSI, Minister for the Industry have signed on 13 April a charter with 12 “pilot” local governments and car manufacturers Renault and Peugeot, committing over the deployment from 2010 of public charging infrastructures for electric and hybrid vehicles.

Jean-Louis BORLOO presented on 1 October 2009, a national plan with 14 concrete actions to facilitate the development of rechargeable electric and hybrid vehicles.

Thanks to the mobilization of all stakeholders, this plan is showing major progress, especially in 3 areas: deployment of charging infrastructures, support toward demand and incentive toward vehicle purchase.

1. Commitment from regional councils toward the deployment of public charging infrastructures

for electric and hybrid vehicles

The massive and rapid market commercialization of low carbon vehicles in less than 9 months requires on the ground deployment of public charging infrastructures. The project of the « Grenelle 2 » law which will be examined by the National Assembly next month, planned to transfer this competency to regional councils and their departments or working groups.

Meanwhile, the charter signed today 13 April, allows anticipating the following:

• The French State commits to develop operational recommendations for the deployment of public

charging infrastructures, which will be gathered in a Green Book to be published in October 2010. It will also define the financing arrangements planned within the framework of the Great Loan set up to support local governments.

• These « pilot » local governments commit to implement from 2010 the deployment of public charging

infrastructures. These « pilot » councils are : Bordeaux, Grenoble, Rennes, Nice, Angoulême, Aix-en-

Provence region, Orléans, Paris, Rouen, Strasbourg, Le Havre and the greater Nancy.

• The car manufacturers Renault and PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) commit towards the commercialization of 60 000 electric vehicles in France in 2011-2012, targeting especially the councils which develop a sufficient charging infrastructure network.

2. Launch of the first large grouped order for 50,000 electric vehicles.

Jean-Louis BORLOO announced the legal creation of the consortium which will place the order of 50,000 electric vehicles with a range of at least 150km.

It is about guaranteeing French car manufacturers with a demand sufficient to allow them to launch the production of electric vehicles, safely and at industrial scale.

This consortium is lead by the French post, La Poste, and gathers 20 private and public organisations in transport, construction, water, environment and large fleet owners: ADP (Paris Airports), Air France, AREVA, Bouygues, EDF, ERDF, Eiffage, France Télécom, GDF-Suez, Suez Environnement, GRT Gaz, GRDF, La Poste, RATP (Paris transports), SAUR, SNCF, SPIE, UGAP (Public purchasing group), Vinci and Veolia.

The tender procedure will start on April 23 by a competitive dialog with car manufacturers in order to allow the emergence of the best proposals.

The Ministers have also confirmed today the super-bonus of 5000 euros for the purchase of electric vehicles until 2012.

This legislation will provide a 5000 euros incentive to anyone who purchases a vehicle with CO2 emission lower or equal to 60 g/km.

For consumers, this is the guarantee that electric vehicles will cost them the same as conventional vehicles.

It should be noted that hybrid vehicles with emissions lower or equal to 135 g/CO2/km benefit from a 2000 bonus as well as LPG or LNG vehicles.

Contact to purchase a copy of the complete translation of the signed Charter (6p) and the full Press file (16p) providing more details about the French government’s EV strategy and financial commitment, vehicle types, batteries plants, charging infrastructures, and stakeholders. Or visit his website.