Archive for the ‘Express 128’ Category

Australia China Connections: Leading the Clean Tech Revolution

Posted by admin on September 30, 2010
Posted under Express 128


It might be the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and the global leader in energy consumption, but China is rapidly rising as an international leader in investment and manufacturing in the clean tech sector. It just goes from strength to strength, writes Ken Hickson in the latest issue of Australia China Connections, the Bilateral Business Bulletin. He also reports on the current trade mission to China by Australia’s solar city Townsville.

China has passed the US this year to become the world’s biggest energy consumer, according to new data from the International Energy Agency, which reflects both China’s decades-long burst of economic growth and its rapidly expanding clout as an industrial giant.

China is also rapidly rising as a world leader in investment and manufacturing in the clean tech sector.

While Australia might not figure large in global terms for investment in clean tech, it is seen as a place of innovation and inventiveness. The quality of its research and development in clean tech makes it ideally placed to both attract investment in this sector but also to contribute to developments in massive manufacturing and consuming markets like China. (Remember that the solar giant Suntech had its beginnings in Australia).

Global investment in clean technology will rise 35 percent this year, according to a report published by research firm Datamonitor. New Energy Finance predicted global clean tech investment in 2010 would reach US$160 billion, compared with $125 billion in 2009

The Cleantech Group says investment in this sector fell in 2009, but it fared better than many other industries and has overtaken biotech and IT as the largest venture capital investment categories.

While US dominance of the sector slipped to 62 percent of investments against 72 percent in 2009, China saw its share of global clean tech investment rise to 6 percent.

China also boasted the largest Merger and Acquisition deals (in clean tech/energy) over the past year, with 23 transactions worth a total of US$5.4 billion.

China has initiated new laws that require its power grids to buy power from renewable plants and wind farms, or face very stiff fines. This will result in even more investment in the renewable energy sector.

There is little doubt that China is rapidly becoming a leader in the new green industrial revolution, following the example of Germany, which has also managed to maintain a strong position in manufacturing (note its automobile industry leadership).

In the global Clean Tech Survey by Cleantech Investor and Norton Rose, the US, followed by China, are seen as the countries that will benefit most from private equity driven investment in clean tech. The same survey noted that energy efficiency is the sub-sector expected to attract the most money in the immediate short term, with wind generation and solar next on the list.

China will also find that it has increasing opportunities to invest in clean tech beyond its borders, and Australia is crying out for outside investment in a sector heavily represented by innovation and energy, but lacking sufficient Government recognition and incentives.

What do we mean by Cleantech?

Energy generation – solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydro, wave & tidal

Energy Efficiency – building efficiency, smart grids, waste heat recovery

Energy storage – transport & stationary applications

Waste recycling – organic matter, plastics & electronics

Emissions reduction – trading & offsetting, filter systems & technology, carbon emissions & foot-printing

Water – waste water filtration, desalination, water saving/efficiency

Clean tech materials – biodegradable materials & packaging

Clean tech enabling systems – clean combustion technology, measuring & control technology

Next generation biofuels – algae & cellulosic ethanol




From Townsville with Love and Clean Energy

Every day of every week there are trade missions from all parts of the world descending on China’s cities determined to exploit the opportunities to learn and do business. But few would be as determined as a Townsville group to get a sustainability business message across and see where its particular clean and green applications and innovations can find a home in China writes Ken Hickson.

Townsville in tropical north Queensland seems a long way – in more ways than one – from the bustling and booming cities of China, like Shanghai, Changshu and Dezhou. But there’s growing interest from a bunch of enthusiastic and innovative businesses from the small city of less than 200,000 to explore opportunities in China.

Twenty Townsvillians are braving language and cultural differences to embark on a business and life-changing experience, on a mission this month (September) to attend the Solar City Congress in Dezhou and visit the rapidly expanding solar city, as well as visit the World Expo in Shanghai and the “big-sister” city of Changshu.

Lying in the Yangtze Delta, which is the most economically developed area of China, Changshu enjoys the advantage of being adjacent to Shanghai, the economic center of China, and other big cities such as Suzhou, Wuxi and Nantong. With a mild climate and fertile land, it has a good harvest every year, thus got its name as Changshu, meaning “good harvest all the time”.

But the Townsville delegation to China is not only visiting its sister city – with a population of 1.2 million – but also focussing a lot of attention on Dezhou Solar City where 80 percent of the city has solar hot water. And that’s the venue for the Dezhou Solar City Congress.

Solar and the heat from the sun is important to Townsville, not only because it is in the tropics and has a thriving tourist industry due to its location close to the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef, but because it is one of Australian’s dedicated solar cities.

Its solar city status and commitment to a renewable energy future contrasts with its role as a major port for export of mineral concentrates and sugar, and its proximity to the rich North-West Minerals Province, which collectively contribute more than A$10 billion to the economy each year.

The solar project, which largely revolves around the off shore Magnetic Island, trials a range of initiatives that aim to reduce wasteful energy usage, increase solar energy usage and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50,000 tonnes.

The Townsville team’s visit to Changshu will include visits to nearby solar  technology plants, including one of the famous Suntech facilities in China, founded  in 2001 by leading solar scientist Dr. Zhengrong Shi, who, Australians  like to remind the world, was educated at the University of New South Wales where he developed his particular “brand” of solar technology.

Aside from the Dezhou Solar Congress, the trade mission will also visit several big companies in Dezhou related to renewable energies: Himin Group, Bright Air-conditioning Co., Ltd., Jupiter Wind Composites Co., Ltd., Zhongli New Energy Science Co., Ltd. and Century Wind Energy Equipment Co., Ltd. 

Dezhou is also home to the “One million solar roofs” and “solar bathrooms in thousand villages” project. Almost all downtown residential buildings have solar water heaters on their roofs – with an impressive view of one million solar roofs proof of Dezhou’s dedication towards being a world solar city.

Learning from China as well as exploring opportunities for trade in products and services in the clean tech sector will be the main purpose of the visit and the Townsville team includes some very innovative and enterprising tropical Queensland businesses, including Ergon Energy’s Solar City Manager Ian Cruickshank who will exchange experiences at the conference on Townsville’s Solar City.

Other Queensland businesses being represented through the Townsville mission to the Dezhou Solar conference include project management consultancy Revere Projects, Allsafe Energy Efficiencies Products, rock and solar geology exploration company Rocsol, VRM Biologic, Funnel shipping business, My Clean Sky (a carbon offset provider specialising in air travel), sustainability consulting firm SEA O2, Cafalo, boutique ecological design & project management firm Zingspace as well as representatives from the Townsville City Council.

For all the articles in the latest issue of Australia China Connections, go to the website:


How a Typical Family Can Cut Carbon Footprint by 85%

Posted by admin on September 30, 2010
Posted under Express 128


How a Typical Family Can Cut Carbon Footprint by 85%

Volvo Car Corporation has entered into a partnership to test whether a typical family can cut their carbon footprint by more than 85% by switching to more sustainable housing, transport and energy solutions.‘One Tonne Life’ is a joint project involving three Swedish companies – house builder A-hus, energy supplier Vattenfall and Volvo Cars.

The Auto Channel reports (27 September 2010):

Volvo Car Corporation has entered into a partnership to test whether a typical family can cut their carbon footprint by more than 85% by switching to more sustainable housing, transport and energy solutions.

‘One Tonne Life’ is a joint project involving three Swedish companies – house builder A-hus, energy supplier Vattenfall and Volvo Cars. It aims to show how households can cut their CO2 consumption from today’s global average rate of seven tonnes per person per year, to a more sustainable one tonne per person per year – the figure experts believe will minimise the human impact on long-term climate change.

The project will ‘recruit’ an ordinary Swedish family to live in an energy-efficient A-hus house and drive the electric C30 for six-months. Meanwhile experts from Chelmer University will track their energy usage to see how the new technology changes their habits and improves energy efficiency.

The house will feature state-of-the-art insulation and ventilation systems, plus solar power for hot water, heating and electric appliances. Meanwhile, energy supplier Vattenfall will contribute new technology to measure the family’s electricity consumption in real time.

The family’s Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric will, meanwhile, offer the same safety, comfort and interior space as a conventional petrol or diesel car, but emit no CO2 at all as it is charged using renewable electricity. Powered by a lithium-ion battery that is recharged via a regular wall socket, a full charge takes about eight hours and gives a range of up to 90 miles.

Participation in the ‘One Tonne Life’ project gives Volvo cars the opportunity to study how the electric car fits in with a modern family’s lifestyle.

Paul Gustavsson, manager of electrification strategy at Volvo Cars, said: “We will draw immense benefit from the project in our on-going development of electric cars. We will get clear information about what we need to deliver so that buyers feel that a battery-powered car is attractive and cost-effective to drive and own.”

“One Tonne Life will demonstrate in concrete terms what it means for a family to live with a far smaller carbon dioxide footprint. With the right know-how, the right technology and a consistent attitude, we believe it is possible to approach the one-tonne target already today – and without making any major sacrifices to one’s regular lifestyle,” says Torbjorn Wahlborg, Managing Director of energy provider Vattenfall Nordic Region.

“Much of the technology and the solutions we are giving the family are already available to the public or will be in the very near future. So in other words, this is no far-fetched science-fiction project but rather utilisation of what is ready, here and now,” he concluded.

The house is currently being constructed in Hasselby Villastad in the western parts of Stockholm and the hunt has begun for a family to move in from early 2011

Source: and

The Last Word – A Tribute to Don Norton

Posted by admin on September 30, 2010
Posted under Express 128

The Last Word – A Tribute to Don Norton

It’s is hard saying goodbye to a friend. I did a week ago and I did again this week at his funeral. Don Norton lived a good life and a full life. You would hardly call him an environmentalist, as he was someone who spent most of his career working in the resources industry. But in recent times – all the time I have known him – he has been selling the virtues of Envirofriendly, an innovative liquid waste solution, produced in Brisbane, which dramatically “saves water, saves money and eliminates waste problems” . Different people make an impression on you. Don is one such person. Here I’ve put together something of Don and his contribution, based on his words, those of his dear wife Maree and former work colleagues. Read More

Ian Dymock, in an eulogy at Don’s funeral on Wednesday 29 September 2010, had this to say:

“I met Don in the mid-1980’s when he was the PR manager of BHP Petroleum and I was PR manager of BHP Coal; although we lived in separate states for many years, we often caught up with each other over a beer or two, and quite often with our mutual friend and colleague John Devers, PR manager of BHP Steel, who also joins us here today.

“Don was a remarkable character, and it never failed to impress me how he was prepared to take on something new and challenging, both personally and professionally, without a backward glance. In fact, it was only earlier this year that he asked me to join him on a business venture that was to take him into unchartered new territory; when I questioned our mutual lack of expertise in this area, he merely said – “well, we’ll both learn from the experience, won’t we?

Since coming to realise he had a “death sentence” some months ago  - the terminal illness of leukemia – Don decided he would  put pen to paper in a document he called “My Life”. Part of it was read at his funeral and a full copy passed to me:

“Maree and I had a discussion about how the story of my life should be put together and we both felt it might be better if I wrote it myself as I had actually been through it all. I also had the time, and hopefully I can remember most of the major events in my life.

“The other great thing is that I can also edit it, if required, to make it sound better – or even more interesting, but I will try to keep it as I remember it and try to keep it short and not to put you all to sleep.

“I was born in Hartford Hospital on 1 July 1946, to Muriel, nee Lely, and William, [Bill], Norton and joined my brother David who is five and a half years older than me. Both families can proudly trace their family trees back many centuries and can count many luminaries on its branches. Gregory Norton, the governor of the tower of London, signed King Charles the First’s death warrant. When his son Charles the Second came to the throne from Holland, he brought Sir Peter Lely with him as his court painter. 

“Robert Peele, a prime minister and the inventor of the postage stamp and the policeman was also a member of the Lely family. My father Bill had been an accountant on tea plantations in China and Indonesia prior to World War II. During the war, he joined Mountbatten’s intelligence team and worked at Bletchley Park deciphering the Enigma code. After the war he went up to London as a Stockbroker.

“My early recollections are of a happy life living in a relatively big and comfortable house, and a range of Swiss girls who came to look after us over a number of the early years.

“My life as a Tonbridge public school boy was unremarkable and I certainly did not set any records for academic achievement. My exam results were such that it was felt by my parents that I might achieve the required levels in a couple of subjects at a more focused local College of Further Education rather than continue at an expensive public school. This proved to be a masterstroke as I passed my subjects in one term and was also able to live at home after eleven years or so at boarding school.

“This was followed by a period at Grenoble University in France – no historical English establishments for me – after my brother seemed to have had a wonderful time five years previously, and I think put in a good word with the parents. I did learn to speak French and gain a good early grounding in life as well.”

Don’s dear wife Maree, took up the pen and provided further insight into the man and his mission in life, particularly his career highlights:

“Don was a sailing instructor on the English west coast before he drifted into public affairs with the assistance of a friend’s father. But by 1967, at the age of 21, his feet became itchy and he wanted to move on.

“He set his sights on Canada, till he reached Canada House in London. Finding a very long queue, and being his adventurous self, he went across the road to Australia House and arranged his 10-pound fare to a new country and a new life.

“Don loved being around boats, and on arrival in Australia, he worked for P&O; the sailing bug bit again and he set off crewing a tall Ship, “The New Endeavour” around the Great Barrier Reef.  

“When he finally hit land he found himself in Capella, in Central Queensland, and spent a number of months working on a farm till he bought an old MG and made his way down the East coast until he reached Melbourne.

“During his time in New Zealand – working in Auckland and Christchurch – Don had returned to a career in Public relations. He eventually moved back to Australia and worked initially with BP and when he moved to Woodside Petroleum, and in 1984 to work with BHP Petroleum as their public affairs manager.

“Don left BHP in 1997 to work for himself as a consultant, working with Sedexo France, Hamiltons, Hancock Coal, Anaconda, Geo Dynamics, and Peabody Coal to name a few.”

Here’s a description Don gave me a few months ago which describes the work he was doing through his business, Norton Associates, and which also reflected his past work:

“Norton Associates provides advice to clients on Reputation Management, a vital, hard won, commercial asset and one which companies squander at their peril.

“We work with companies, organisations to develop the desired reputation and brand among all stakeholders using a wide range of appropriate communications strategies, practices and tools to achieve the results that meet with a company’s objectives.

“We can also assist established companies and organizations with recognised brands and reputations to determine if these are in line with stakeholder perception. We will work with the company’s management and staff to implement all or various aspects of the reputation audit and/or development program.

“We also work with companies, organisations and groups to develop plans and strategies to protect a hard won reputation. We conduct an initial audit process and report in the first instance to allow an organisation to understand its risks and determine the level of preparedness it may choose to deal with possible issues or emergencies.

“We can prepare appropriate plans, assist in implementing those plans, train staff and provide on site support to the company in the event of an incident, emergency or crisis. We also provide a social impact assessment and planning service for companies in the resource sector. Norton Associates has many years experience in this area gained through working for a range of national and international clients.”

Besides his work and his love of golf and sailing, Don has been a wonderful father to two boys – now strong young men – Jeremy, living in America and Mark, living in Perth.

Jeremy has already been doing some great work to help Don get the Envirofriendly product into North and South America.

Maree, his dear wife, is also committed to continue the work Don has started, and she will manage the product distribution for Envirofriendly here and overseas.

Here’s a more personal message from me (Ken Hickson), based on some of the things I said to Don in a personal note a week before he died. So often we say things about someone when they’re gone. I wanted him to hear it/read it from me while he was still very much alive:

“I felt bad yesterday discussing business with you both when doctors and nurses were coming and going and obviously you were having trouble even breathing, but I think you are both excited about the prospects for Singapore. 

“I want to say to you Don that I am determined to continue the good work that you have started for Envirofriendly, and I will do all I can to not only promote the product in Singapore, but to help get Maree into the scheme of things so she can not only enjoy it but also benefit from the business development work.

“You have done some wonderful work over the years and I am surprised that our pathways have not crossed before last year, even though we have had somewhat similar work experiences.

 “But I want you to know how much you will be missed by me. How much I have enjoyed our times together – the personal chats and the business planning – and I will do my best to follow your example: To communicate well. To deal in a firm but friendly fashion with all I do business with.

“I want you to know from me that you move on knowing you have made a great contribution to this world – through your work, through your personality, through your values and your commitment to the good things in life.  Your dear wife (and your sons) will also continue to follow your great example as well.

“Go quietly and go well. You have done your life’s work.”

If anyone would like to know more about Don Norton and his work, or make contact with his family, please let me know. – Ken Hickson