Archive for the ‘Express 83’ Category

Profile: Oliver Yates

Posted by admin on November 8, 2009
Posted under Express 83

Profile: Oliver Yates

Investment banker and Macquarie Capital’s avoided deforestation advisor says: “We’re creating national parks by storing carbon and giving it a proper value.” So forests in developing countries can act as offsets for developed countries, including Australia, to meet their emissions reduction targets.

Oliver Yates know this business better than most and he’s happy to share with all and sundry how it’s done and why we should be doing more of it.


He was up on stage at the Carbon Market Expo on the Gold Coast last month thanking Federal Government Minister Greg Combet for his speech. He was also in speaking in panel discussions and interviews providing insight into how he thinks avoided deforestation programs can best work.   


He was a key speaker and contributor last week to the Queensland climate summit (organised by the state government and The Climate Group). This everywhere-man is equally at home in the boardrooms and conference platforms, as he is in the jungles of Indonesia. 


Giles Parkinson had this article on Oliver Yates and his work in The Australian (7 November 2009):


IT may be a prototype of the modern investment banker: hiking shoes, fedora hat, a measuring stick and a readiness to trek through jungles. For much of the past year Oliver Yates, head of utilities and climate change at Macquarie Capital Advisers, has been scouring the rainforests and peat swamps of Cambodia, Indonesia and Mozambique with his partners from conservation group Fauna and Flora International.


But the booty he is hunting is not a pot of treasure marked by the letter X on a crumpled map. It’s the plot on a graph, the one that predicts the value of carbon credits that will be generated by agreements for the protection of the world’s rainforests in the coming decades. It’s a number measured by the tens of billions of dollars, possibly hundreds.

Due diligence in this game is not satisfied by the mere examination of a spreadsheet, it’s done by going deep into rainforests, hugging trees (to test their width and carbon storage) and the depth of the peat. “We can look at satellite images but you are not going to know until you go there,” says Yates. “It’s all about proof.”

Macquarie, part of the ubiquitous Australia-based financier and deal-maker Macquarie Group, and FFI have released few details about their work, but they are quietly accumulating a pipeline of projects in anticipation of a global agreement for verifiable forest protection and biodiversity to balance emissions, where credits will be generated by the nascent international framework of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). Under REDD, forests in developing countries can act as offsets for developed countries, including Australia, to meet their emissions reduction targets. Countries can sell credits for the carbon stored in their forests to other countries to help meet overall emissions reduction targets.

The Macquarie BioCarbon team led by Yates and FFI is expected to launch at least six projects in coming years, with more to come. The revenue will be shared between landowners, local communities and investors.

“I love it,” says Yates, former office-bound US country head for Macquarie. “We’re creating national parks by storing carbon and giving it a proper value. It’s amazing that people haven’t done it before.”

The reason for that is that carbon has yet to be priced. Europe has its own emissions trading scheme and other nations are in the process of defining theirs. The US and Australia are keen for an international agreement covering the protection of forests.

Macquarie is also heavily involved in the trading of carbon credits from its London-based office and is a big investor in renewable energy. It recently bought Climate Friendly, a carbon offset company, and has approached others to expand its expertise and footprint.

It’s not the only investment bank moving into the carbon market. JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs have bought companies directly involved in carbon markets and are involved in forest-based schemes.

Deforestation accounts for an estimated 18 per cent of annual human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, linked by many scientists to global warming, as carbon is released from vegetation through burning or decomposition. But the idea of ascribing a price to carbon, valuing forests for their environmental services and using a carbon price to halt deforestation, has created a polemic in the business and general community. Even some of those convinced by the science of human-caused climate change and the need to cut emissions have expressed concern about turning carbon into a market free-for-all, an environmental cause they say could be hijacked by the naked greed that has characterised so many booms and busts.

Critics of carbon trading say they find it ironic that what they see as a left-wing green movement should seek to solve an environmental problem through financial markets. Others find it just as ironic that business giants that made fortunes out of deregulated commodities markets should be calling so loudly for a highly regulated, tax-based system.

But Bridget McIntosh, an Australian who heads Carbon Bridge, a Singapore-based carbon company that acts as a negotiator between local project developers and investors, says the market approach is functioning well.

She specialises in projects such as small-scale wind farms, biogas, hydro and cement waste-heat products that generate credits under the UN-sponsored Clean Development Mechanism. She says virtually every cement kiln in Thailand and Cambodia has a waste-heat power generator.

McIntosh says she created her business to ensure that project developers and local communities get their fair share of the rewards from abatement. “Most bankers think I’m crazy,” she says. “I’m not a big business person, I’m a making-the-difference person.” But she cannot understand the fuss about the money-making properties of carbon abatement.

“You can’t get mitigation unless money is invested in projects, and if the project makes more money, why would anyone complain about that? We need to act now, talk is not getting us anywhere.”

Philippe Chauvancy, sales director of Paris-based BlueNext, which he says dominates the spot trade in carbon credits, says the carbon market and its financial rewards should be put into perspective. “The volume of carbon trading in one year is probably equivalent to what the oil markets do in one morning,” he says.

Chauvancy says most people involved in the carbon markets could earn higher salaries elsewhere and he estimates that most are true believers in what they are doing. “I think 80 per cent of the people trading in carbon are believers who think they will make a difference,” he says. “They know it’s just a little part of a much bigger picture. But we’re not the Salvation Army. We want to make money, of course.”

While the likes of Yates are lining up potential projects, most are holding off their announcements until the rules of the international forestry market are made clear. Though an agreement in principle is hoped for at Copenhagen next month, details of how the issues of certification and verification, ownership and governance could be some time in the making.

Wall Street banks can see an opportunity in environmental markets. So can a host of smaller and start-up investor and service providers, as their presence this week at the Carbon Market Expo on the Gold Coast testified. Many are involved in the voluntary market, also known as social carbon, which does not generate credits of high value but can prove lucrative to the developers.

As an example, last week Australian company Carbon Planet announced what it described as the largest rainforest carbon credit deal of its type, a contract for 10 million carbon credits – one credit is worth one tonne of carbon dioxide – valued at more than $US45 million ($50m).

Carbon Planet’s cut from this transaction is a fee of more than $US2.5m, plus other receipts for service fees and “reimbursement of advances”.

Still, the deal was shrouded in mystery. The company, in the process of listing on the Australian Securities Exchange through a reverse takeover of information technology company M2M, did not identify the source of the credits (believed to be in Papua New Guinea) or the buyer (described only as a large European carbon credit company).

In its original transaction documents, Carbon Planet said it had a pipeline of 25 REDD projects in PNG alone with carbon credits worth $1 billion. This is despite the fact REDD is yet to be agreed, let alone finalised. It estimated an average trading margin of 5 per cent on these projects, similar to the one announced last week.

Those pinning their faith in the ability of these markets to play their desired role in reducing emissions and meeting the ambitious abatement targets called for by the UN advisory panel recognise that the most important quality of these markets in their initial stages is their credibility, which requires a strong governance framework nationally and internationally. The European emissions trading scheme has been a crash test dummy for the sort of improprieties that can plague a nascent market, both from inflated emission estimates of EU nations and the recent rorting of value-added-tax credits from carbon trading.

It seems all sorts of people are attracted to these markets. One carbon fund executive was taken aback after getting into a taxi at Coolangatta airport on the way to the expo last week and explaining what he did. “Oh, I’ve got my own carbon fund,” the cabbie told him. “We’ve got a $500m line of credit and a fast-growing tree that reaches full maturity in five years.”

It seems that in carbon, until the rules are properly defined, anyone can play. Or joke about it.


Global Agreement on Targets Unlikely

Posted by admin on November 8, 2009
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Global Agreement on Targets Unlikely

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this week that world nations are unlikely to strike agreement on details of a new climate change pact at the Copenhagen summit next month. But a new research paper commissioned by the German Government has found that countries including China, India, Brazil and Mexico are on track to cut their emissions by 25% by 2020.

UN’s Ban Ki-moon says Copenhagen conference may not agree full details of new climate pact

By David Stringer for CP reported (4 November 2009):

LONDON — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that world nations are unlikely to strike agreement on details of a new climate change pact at a key U.N. summit next month.

Ban said he no longer expects nations to commit to firm emissions limits at the December summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“I’m reasonably optimistic that Copenhagen will be a very important milestone. At the same time, realistically speaking, we may not be able to agree all the words,” Ban told reporters after holding talks in London with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.


The new pact – which is being worked on at U.N. talks this week in Barcelona, Spain – is meant to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012. The Kyoto treaty committed 37 industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gases, while the new pact would apply to developing countries as well.

Years of negotiations over the new pact have been dogged by disputes between industrial and developing nations.

“We need at this time the political will – if there is a political will, there is a way we can come to a binding agreement in Copenhagen,” Ban said.

Ban said he would push leaders to conclude a pact in Copenhagen, but said it is more likely that only agreement on principles – rather than specific targets for cuts – would be reached.

He said industrialized countries must agree to make ambitious targets to reduce emissions, and to provide sufficient financial support to developing nations to allow them to limit their emissions. Ban also wants developed countries to offer technology to allow poorer nations to adapt to the impact of climate change, and an agreement on how the pact will be enforced.

“Every day we are fighting to get an agreement that will be binding,” Brown told reporters.

The European Union on Friday called for C5 billion to C7 billion ($7.5 billion to $10.3 billion) in climate change aid to poorer nations over the next three years, reaching C100 billion, or nearly $150 billion a year, by 2020.

But EU nations failed to agree on exactly how much the bloc itself would contribute to the aid fund.

Brown insisted the EU and other industrialized nations are making good progress on the fund, which he said was “absolutely crucial to persuading developing countries that we are serious about helping them tackle the problems that arise from climate change.”

He said that, if a legally binding pact cannot be reached immediately, the Copenhagen meeting should produce a detailed basis for such a treaty to be agreed on in 2010.

British officials believe a treaty won’t be agreed before U.S. commitments on emission reductions are settled. Legislation is making its way through Congress, but is unlikely to be completed before the Denmark summit.

Brown plans talks Wednesday with Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and on Friday with Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen.

Britain also plans to focus on climate funding at the Nov. 6-7 summit of finance ministers from the Group of 20 industrialized and developing nations.


On ABC’s AM programme, Sarah Clarke reported (7 November 2009):

Hopes of delivering a new climate treaty in Copenhagen next month have all but faded after a week of spats and little progress at the final round of United Nations talks in Barcelona.

Developing countries remain suspicious of richer nations, accusing them of failing to commit to deep emissions targets and industrial countries want greater commitments from the poorer nations.

But a new research paper commissioned by the German Government has found that countries including China, India, Brazil and Mexico are on track to cut their emissions by 25 per cent by 2020.

It’s the first major assessment that quantifies the progress of the developing nations’ efforts to cut emissions and climate groups say pressure is now on countries like Australia to come to the negotiating table.

Our environment reporter Sarah Clarke is talking to Erwin Jackson from the Climate Institute.

ERWIN JACKSON: What it really shows is that these countries are joining the clean energy economy superhighway and if countries like Australia don’t strengthen and pass their own domestic policies they’re going to be left in dirty pollution cul-de-sacs.

SARA CLARKE: And hasn’t this been the whole debacle or the whole dilemma where the developed countries like Australia and the US are saying we don’t want to commit to anything until we know what you can do from the developing side of things?

ERWIN JACKSON: Well we know China have got aggressive plans to improve energy efficiency and promote renewable energy. India are putting in plans and legislation. We’re seeing emissions trading systems emerge in Mexico and South Korea.

If you add these policies up, they are starting to get to the levels which are more than sufficient to trigger the developed country action in the order of 25 to 40 per cent reductions by 2020.

SARA CLARKE: And this is the figure that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has suggested what the developing countries need to achieve. Therefore are they on track?

ERWIN JACKSON: Based on this report the major economies in the developing world are on track to meet the conditions or for 450 parts per million stabilisation scenario.

The other important thing about this report is that it shows that with support through international financing to unlock additional public and private sector investments in clean energy, then the developing world can be put on a path which is very consistent with avoiding catastrophic climate change.

SARA CLARKE: So how do the figures compare to say what Australia and the United States can do? They’re actually almost suggesting that the developing world is doing a little bit better.

ERWIN JACKSON: Well it suggests that the developed world as a group needs to do some catch-up. The developing world’s, the major economies in the developing world are moving ahead with aggressive policies and with international support through financing they can do a lot more.

What this report shows is the condition, the developing world’s condition for Australia’s 25 per cent target; it looks on track to being met. The key test however for the developing countries will be whether they’re prepared to put these commitments into an international treaty.

SARA CLARKE: The Barcelona talks this week saw a walk-out by African nations and little progress on a 200-page document. Where to from here? What’s realistically going to be achieved in Copenhagen?

ERWIN JACKSON: Well I think that we can’t judge Copenhagen on whether it delivers a legally binding treaty at that particular point in time. We’ve got to judge Copenhagen whether it lays the foundations for the agreement of a binding treaty within six months of Copenhagen.

And the key to unlocking that will not only be the internationalising of countries’ targets, whether they be developing country actions or the United States’ own actions. It’s also going to be international financing: How do we help developing countries and the private sector invest at scale in new low carbon technologies in the developing world?

Erwin Jackson from the Climate Institute talking to our environment reporter Sarah Clarke.


What to Expect from Copenhagen

Posted by admin on November 8, 2009
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What to Expect from Copenhagen

It’s being billed as the meeting that will determine the future of humanity. We will be inundated with news in December from the Copenhagen summit. Can it really save us from climate catastrophe? Catherine Brahic and Fred Pearce for New Scientist sift through the mass of science and policy to pick out the key points to watch.


TWO-hundred-and-fifty billion tonnes. That’s the bottom line. If we are serious about avoiding dangerous climate change, 250,000 megatonnes is the maximum amount of carbon we can put into the atmosphere. Keep going at current rates and we will have used up that ration in 20 years.

The challenge for delegates at the week-long meeting in Denmark’s capital is to agree on ways of ensuring we do not exceed it – ever.

Why this year? Two years ago in Bali, member nations of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is convening the Copenhagen summit, agreed that they would accelerate their efforts and draft a long-term plan to avoid dangerous climate change. Their deadline for doing so is the close of this year’s summit, on 18 December.

Hasn’t the Kyoto protocol shown all this to be pointless? Not necessarily. The Kyoto protocol was always intended as a first step. There are a number of differences this time around, most notably that the US opted out of the Kyoto protocol but is very much engaged in the Copenhagen process.

Why 250,000 megatonnes? We have already emitted over 500,000 megatonnes of carbon – equivalent to about 1,800,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide – mostly by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests. This year, climate scientists calculated that if we emit no more than 750,000 megatonnes in total, we will have a 75 per cent chance of limiting global warming to 2 °C.

What is the significance of 2 °C? The objective of the UNFCCC is to prevent “dangerous” climate change. Although any amount of warming may have consequences – including biodiversity loss, changing weather patterns and disappearing coastlines – many climate scientists predict that some of those changes will be irreversible beyond 2 °C and others will pose a serious threat to millions of people. As a consequence, 2 °C has been adopted by politicians as the threshold for dangerous climate change.

Is 2 °C little enough? That all depends: little enough for what? No amount of warming is risk-free, and modelling studies indicate that at 2 °C an additional 1 billion people will suffer water shortages and most of the world’s corals will be bleached. The world’s poorest nations, which include a number of island states that are particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise, are campaigning to limit warming to 1.5 °C. Given the effort that is going to be required to reach the 2 °C target, this is unlikely to be achieved. Moreover, lags in climate systems, plus the removal from the atmosphere of the fine aerosol particles now cooling the world, mean past emissions are likely to result in a 1.9 °C warming.


There are no two ways about it: to have any chance of avoiding the disastrous consequences of exceeding our carbon budget, we must usher in a new era of low-carbon societies.

How this is done will depend on what deal can be reached between rich and developing nations. Both must agree to cut emissions according to their means and historical responsibility.

Developing nations will also need money and technology to green their industrialisation. Where this will come from will be a key preoccupation for the Copenhagen negotiators.


It could cost the poorest nations hundreds of billions of dollars a year to curb their emissions and adapt to inevitable climate change.

Rich nations are responsible for most of the gases that are already heating the planet, and have a duty to help foot this bill. Negotiators in Copenhagen will have to agree on how.

Funds could be raised through taxes on emissions permits, for instance, or on international airline tickets. Or there could be a levy on all carbon emissions above certain national thresholds – as proposed by Switzerland.

The European Union agreed last week to push for a fund worth €100 billion a year by 2020.


Around 15 per cent of emissions come from deforestation. WWF believes this could be cut by three-quarters by 2020, but that requires giving governments, landowners and forest communities incentives to stop destroying their forests.

Two years ago, climate negotiators promised to sign such a deal – dubbed Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) – in Copenhagen.

The cash could come from rich nations buying carbon offsets to meet their emissions targets.

Brazil and Indonesia – which account for 60 per cent of emissions from deforestation – are keen. But close monitoring is essential to ensure loggers claiming cash for a forest do not continue chopping down individual trees or move their operations elsewhere.

Also, countries such as Costa Rica that have protected their forests say it unfairly rewards those who got rich destroying theirs.


Two billion people worldwide do not have access to mains electricity.

To bridge that gap and power industry in developing countries, the International Energy Agency says $13 trillion must be invested in the developing world in the next 20 years.

In Copenhagen, negotiators must seal a deal to ensure this goes mostly into low-carbon technologies – but how?

Western engineering firms want an open door to developing markets, perhaps secured by a “green free trade” deal. Countries like India and China want deals with rich nations that would give their own companies free access to western know-how.


Who might thwart a deal?

The US may not be able to make credible promises if Congress has not passed a climate change bill in time.

If China and India think the US is not serious, they will hold back on pledges to green their own economic development.

Others might wield a veto, too. Some newly industrialised countries – Malaysia and South Korea for instance – now have emissions higher than many European countries. They may protest if asked to sign up to firm targets.

Malaysia’s emissions are four times what they were in 1990 and, per head of population, equal to the UK’s.

Saudi Arabia’s emissions have doubled and, per head, now beat all European countries except Luxembourg.

Qatar’s per-capita emissions are four times those of the US.

Gulf states tried to torpedo Kyoto because they felt it threatened oil exports. Copenhagen could threaten their internal industrialisation plans.


Sunshine State is Big Climate Sinner

Posted by admin on November 8, 2009
Posted under Express 83


 ”Queensland can be at the forefront of the green economic revolution” said Tony Blair in a video message to the state’s climate summit, as Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and The Climate Group CEO Steve Howard hosted more than 100 business, scientist, government and think tank leaders for a focused discussion on how the state can lead in the low carbon economy. 

Ken Hickson and ABC Carbon attended and participated in the Queensland Climate Summit, along with 100 representatives of business, Government agencies, Universities and think tanks.

AAP reports (4 November 2009):

FORMER British prime minister Tony Blair says economic growth can co-exist with climate change strategies.

A video message from Mr Blair was played at a climate change summit in Brisbane, at which about 100 delegates discussed issues in the lead-up to the December Copenhagen climate talks.

“Queensland can be at the forefront of the green economic revolution, so I believe climate change is and will remain a defining issue for our generation,” Mr Blair said in the message.

“But I also believe that we can ensure that progress towards a new low-carbon future means economic growth and prosperity as well as a safer climate.”

Mr Blair is heading an initiative called Breaking the Climate Deadlock, in league with international non-profit body The Climate Group.

Premier Anna Bligh told the summit it was vital that her state tackled climate change, as Queensland was responsible for 30 per cent of national carbon emissions, despite having only 20 per cent of Australia’s population.

“Queensland is the Australian state that is most vulnerable to climate change – which also means we have the most to gain from international action,” Ms Bligh said.

“For a state that has so much to lose, we’re also one of the big climate sinners.”

Ms Bligh said Queensland was one of the world’s highest per capita polluters.

The Climate Group chief executive Steve Howard said there was growth potential in Queensland for renewable energy.

“If we can solve the problem in Queensland, then I believe we can solve it anywhere,” Mr Howard said.

Mr Howard said the will and technology was available, but mobilising people to reduce emissions was slow.

“(To) make sure there is good control over energy use … you have to reach out to every home and that can’t be done overnight,” Mr Howard said.

“You need to engage every single business. This requires real investment, long-term Government programs to deliver on this, and the business community to step up to the plate.”

Queensland Environment Minister Kate Jones used the summit to announce a new scheme to encourage motorists to offset their carbon emissions.

Under the Reverse the Effect program, motorists will receive a flyer with their car registration renewal notice giving them the option to also pay a fee to offset their carbon emissions.

They can also register online at

Ms Jones said the State Government has allocated $4.5 million over the next five years to match motorists’ contributions dollar for dollar.

She said every vehicle was weighted differently in the amount of carbon they emitted each year.

Offsets included $8 a year for a moped, $59 for an average sedan and $120 for a light commercial vehicle.

Motorists’ contributions will be tax-deductible.

Ms Jones was the first to register her hybrid Government car this morning.

“Our ultimate goal is to help offset about 290,000 tonnes of CO2 by the time the program is complete,” she said.

The program’s funds will go towards reforestation projects.


Here’s how The Cimate Group reported the Queensland summit:

BRISBANE – Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and The Climate Group CEO Steve Howard hosted more than 100 business, scientist, government and think tank leaders for a focused discussion on how the state can lead in the low carbon economy. 

The Queensland Climate Summit focused on how the policies that will ensure continued economic competitiveness and growth as it strives to make long-term cuts in its greenhouse emission.  Topics covered inlcuded: how the state can make investment in the low carbon economy more attractive; planning for new low carbon cities and infrastructure; maximising green jobs growth; and exploring opportunities for mitigation and adaption in rural Queensland. 

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, in a video message, urged attendees to look at the economic opportunities in tackling climate change. 

Mr Blair said, “By focusing on practical solutions, Queensland can be at the forefront of the green economic revolution.

“We can ensure that progress towards a new low carbon future means economic growth and prosperity as well as a safer climate.”

The Climate Group’s CEO Steve Howard pointed to the state’s natural advantages in the low carbon economy: “Queensland has huge potential in areas such as renewable and solar energy and as these sectors develop, they will stimulate the creation of new jobs and economic growth.”

Speakers also emphasied the crucial importance of business and government working together to develop low carbon opportunities. Tim Flannery, former Australian of the Year and Australian Deputy Chair of The Climate Group, spoke of the ‘critical importance’ of public-private dialogue and partnerships on climate change. 

Premier Anna Bligh, who opened the conference, said that Queensland would continue to lead on the low carbon economy and called for private-public sector partnerships and collaborations. 

Premier Bligh said “If we are to get the best result for this state, government cannot just act on its own.  We need the help and support of businesses.“

At the end of the Summit, Rupert Posner, Australia Director of The Climate Group said the Summit offered a strong foundation for future such collaborations.

“The enthusiasm and support from so many government ministers and business leaders means that there are some exciting opportunities for Queensland.  And we look forward to working with them to help make them a reality.”

The Business Guide to the Low Carbon Economy: Queensland

Earlier in the day, the Queensland Government and The Climate Group launched the The Business Guide to the Low Carbon Economy: Queensland.

Commissioned by the Queensland Government, and prepared by The Climate Group in partnership with Arup, the new guide provides practical steps for businesses to get on top of measuring and curbing their emissions. It also provides an overview of Queensland’s climate change policies and programs, with a view to helping companies develop strategies that suit their individual situations.

In doing so, it will help businesses reduce costs and unlock new opportunities for growth.


RECs Wreck Sweet Energy Scheme

Posted by admin on November 8, 2009
Posted under Express 83

RECs Wreck Sweet Energy Scheme


Hundreds of jobs in the sugar industry are at risk because of a dramatic slump in the price of renewable energy credits, caused by a generous Rudd government scheme to encourage investment in solar energy.


Nicola Berkovic in The Australian (5 November 2009):


HUNDREDS of jobs in the sugar industry are at risk because of a dramatic slump in the price of renewable energy credits, caused by a generous Rudd government scheme to encourage investment in solar energy.


The sugar industry yesterday warned that a A$220 million project in northern NSW could close because of the drop in the price of renewable energy certificates from more than $50 at the start of the year to less than $30.

The NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative completed two energy generation plants at its Condong and Broadwater mills last year.

The project, which uses a by-product of sugar cane called ‘bagasse’ to generate energy, supports 120 direct jobs as well as 600 farmers and 300 transport and other workers.

The co-operative’s chief executive, Chris Connors, said the project was losing $10m a year as a result of the drop in REC prices. It invested in the project with the expectation that the price of RECs would rise to $75 in three to five years.

Under the Renewable Energy Target Scheme, electricity companies are required to buy enough RECs to meet the Rudd government’s target of 20 per cent energy from renewable sources by 2020.

But the price of RECs has almost halved in the past six months since the government raised the solar hot water rebate from $1000 to $1600.

Householders can claim 30 RECs when they install a solar hot water system, which represents the electricity saved from the grid over 10 years.

Green Energy Trading’s Ric Brazzale said the number of RECs from solar had increased from about 350,000 a month to more than 1 million since the start of the year.

The result had been a plunge in the price of the credits.

Urging the government to intervene to protect the sugar industry’s renewable energy investment and other projects, Mr Connors said: “It’s a ridiculous situation where our co-operative . . . has spent significant capital on a renewable energy project and it is being destroyed by ill-conceived and wrongly directed government funds.

“The government has got to fix this pretty quick.”

Mr Connors said solutions could include the government buying back RECs to support the price, putting a minimum floor under the price of RECs or bringing forward renewable energy targets.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said the government would continue to monitor the effectiveness of the program in driving investment in renewable energy.

Nationals senator Ron Boswell said the government could not stand by while farmers lost millions of dollars invested in renewable energy in good faith.

“If you think this is a stuff up, it’s nothing compared to what the ETS is going to be,” he said.

Greens deputy leader Christine Milne said Senator Wong had “blithely ignored” warnings that flaws in the RET scheme would kill jobs and investment in renewable energy.

“Now the chickens are coming home to roost,” she said. “It would be the simplest thing to fix this problem by making credits from solar hot water additional to the scheme, but when the Greens put that solution on the table last week, both Labor and Liberal voted it down,” she said.

Concerns about the RET scheme were raised as the Greens yesterday called for a national recycling scheme ahead of a meeting of environment ministers today in Perth.

Australian Council of Recyclers chief executive Rod Welford said such a scheme could create thousands of new green jobs and help the environment.


Powering the World with Sunlight

Posted by admin on November 8, 2009
Posted under Express 83

Powering the World with Sunlight

Scientists are making progress toward development of an “artificial leaf” that mimics a real leaf’s chemical magic with photosynthesis — but instead converts sunlight and water into a liquid fuel such as methanol for cars and trucks.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2009 — Scientists are making progress toward development of an “artificial leaf” that mimics a real leaf’s chemical magic with photosynthesis — but instead converts sunlight and water into a liquid fuel such as methanol for cars and trucks.

That is among the conclusions in a newly-available report from top authorities on solar energy who met at the 1st Annual Chemical Sciences and Society Symposium. The gathering launched a new effort to initiate international cooperation and innovative thinking on the global energy challenge.

The three-day symposium, which took place in Germany this past summer, included 30 chemists from China, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. It was organized through a joint effort of the science and technology funding agencies and chemical societies of each country, including the U. S. National Science Foundation and the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society.

The symposium series was initiated though the ACS Committee on International Activities in order to offer a unique forum whereby global challenges could be tackled in an open, discussion-based setting, fostering innovative solutions to some of the world’s most daunting challenges.

A “white paper” entitled “Powering the World with Sunlight,” describes highlights of the symposium and is available along with related materials here.

“The sun provides more energy to the Earth in an hour than the world consumes in a year,” the report states. “Compare that single hour to the one million years required for the Earth to accumulate the same amount of energy in the form of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are not a sustainable resource, and we must break our dependence on them. Solar power is among the most promising alternatives.”

The symposium focused on four main topics:

  • Mimicking photosynthesis using synthetic materials such as the “artificial leaf”
  • Production and use of biofuels as a form of stored solar energy
  • Developing innovative, more efficient solar cells
  • Storage and distribution of solar energy

The scientists pointed out during the meeting that plants use solar energy when they capture and convert sunlight into chemical fuel through photosynthesis. The process involves the conversion of water and carbon dioxide into sugars as well as oxygen and hydrogen. Scientists have been successful in mimicking this fuel-making process, termed artificial photosynthesis, but now must finds ways of doing so in ways that can be used commercially. Participants described progress toward this goal and the scientific challenges that must be met before solar can be a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

Highlights of the symposium include a talk by Kazunari Domen, Ph.D., of the University of Tokyo in Japan. Domen described current research on developing more efficient and affordable catalysts for producing hydrogen using a new water-splitting technology called “photocatalytic overall water splitting.” The technology uses light-activated nanoparticles, each 1/50,000 the width of a human hair, to convert water to hydrogen. This technique is more efficient and less expensive than current technologies, he said.

Domen noted that the ultimate goal of artificial photosynthesis is to produce a liquid fuel, such as methanol, or “wood alcohol.” Achieving this goal would fulfil the vision of creating an “artificial leaf” that not only splits water but uses the reaction products to create a more usable fuel, similar to what leaves do.

Among the “take-home messages” cited in the report:

  • There’s no single best solution to the energy problem. Scientists must seek more affordable, sustainable solutions to the global energy challenge by considering all the options.
  • Investing in chemistry is investing in the future. Strong basic research is fundamental to realizing the potential of solar energy and making it affordable for large-scale use.
  • Society needs a new generation of “energy scientists” to explore new ways to capture, convert, and store solar energy.

“The meeting was an experiment worth trying,” said Teruto Ohta, executive director of the Chemical Society of Japan.

Conference organizers expressed hope that the symposium will be the first of several to tackle “the global challenges of the 21st century and the indispensible role that the chemical sciences play in addressing these issues,” said Klaus Mullen, president of the German Chemistry Association.

“Building on the success of this first symposium, we’re now gearing up for the future, convening top chemical scientists to address other, equally pressing global challenges,” said Julie Callahan of the ACS Office of International Activities and principal investigator on the project. “It is an exciting time to be a chemist!”


The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 154,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.


Undesirable Criticism of Emissions Trading

Posted by admin on November 8, 2009
Posted under Express 83


CSIRO managers are narrowly interpreting the agency’s charter in Australia to effectively ban scientists from criticising the Government’s emissions trading scheme, while the man at the heart of this issue, economist Clive Spash, points to the potential of emissions trading to have “undesirable ethical and psychological impacts and to crowd out voluntary actions”.

Nicola Berkovic  in The Australian (5 November 2009):


CSIRO managers are narrowly interpreting the agency’s charter to effectively ban scientists from publishing any critique of emissions trading schemes, in a decision that has sparked alarm among the organisation’s climate change experts.

The move comes amid a crackdown by the CSIRO on public comments by scientists in their personal capacity.

The organisation began rolling out a new public comment policy three weeks ago that limits what scientists can say publicly about issues within their area of expertise.

The new policy forbids scientists from making comments, even in their private capacity, if the remarks might affect “public confidence in CSIRO as a trusted adviser”. If such a perception could arise, scientists are required to discuss the issue with their supervisor to “effectively manage risks”.

Scientists told The Australian yesterday the vague wording of the policy meant they would be forced to seek permission before making any public comments, even if the comments were not associated with the CSIRO.

The rollout of the new policy comes after CSIRO scientists gave evidence earlier this year to a Senate inquiry into climate change. Some managers were unhappy with the media coverage that followed.

And it follows a dispute with CSIRO economist Clive Spash, whose paper on emissions trading schemes has been banned from publication.

CSIRO spokesman Huw Morgan said the new document did not change existing policy, merely clarified it.

CSIRO staff association secretary Sam Popovski met officials yesterday to raise concerns about Dr Spash’s treatment by senior managers.

Dr Spash said this week he felt harassed after he received a strongly worded letter outlining a list of trivial breaches of CSIRO policies, such as not filling out a leave form properly. This was sent 24 hours after he received a letter regarding the decision to ban his paper.

CSIRO chief executive Megan Clark is reviewing the decision to ban Dr Spash’s paper, but reasons for the ban became clearer yesterday for the first time.

The head of the CSIRO’s sustainable ecosystems group, Daniel Walker, decided to block the publication of the paper because it commented on government policy.

Dr Walker told Dr Spash that any critique of emissions trading schemes in general breached the CSIRO’s charter, which states that scientists are not permitted to “debate the merits of government policy”.

The charter was praised by Science Minister Kim Carr last year as a means of protecting academic freedoms.

Senator Carr told The Australian scientists should be able to contribute their personal opinions to public debate.

“Individual opinions should be subject to debate, and as I’ve always said science is contestable,” he said.

“People have the right to be wrong.”


Here’s the abstract of the paper in question, presented at the 2009 Australia New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics (ANZSEE) Conference last month:

Clive Spash, Presenter, Independent Research for the Environment (IRE)

As human induced climate change has become a prominent political issue at the international level so the idea that emission trading can offer the solution has become more popular in government circles. Carbon permits are then fast becoming a serious financial instrument in markets turning over billions of dollars a year.

In this paper, I show how the reality of market operation is far removed from the assumptions of economic theory and the promise of saving resources by efficiently allocating emission reductions. The pervasiveness of Greenhouse Gas emissions, strong uncertainty and complexity prevent economists from substantiating their theoretical claims. Corporate power is shown to be a major force affecting emissions market operation and design.

The potential for manipulation to achieve financial gain, while showing little regard for environmental or social consequences, is evident as markets have extended internationally and via trading offsets. At the individual level, I explore the potential of emissions trading to have undesirable ethical and psychological impacts and to crowd out voluntary actions.

I conclude that the focus on such markets is creating a distraction from the need for changing human behaviour, institutions and infrastructure.


The Heat Is On For Electric Vehicles

Posted by admin on November 8, 2009
Posted under Express 83

The Heat Is On For Electric Vehicles   

The Renault-Nissan Alliance is involved in the French joint venture company to develop and manufacture batteries for electric vehicles, while a new zero emission car resembles a spa inside and out. CEO Renault Australia is one of the keynote speakers at the nation’s first Electric Vehicle Conference in Brisbane 11 November.


What role could electric vehicles play in making the transition to cleaner and greener transport?

That’s a question being asked and answered at Australia’s first annual conference on Electric Vehicles being held in Brisbane on Wednesday 11 November.


Conference speakers will not just focus on electric vehicles, but how they could impact the electricity infrastructure, says organiser Philippe Reboul, managing director of RBL Management Consulting. The event has the support of Brisbane City Council, Ergon Energy and other industry players.


It will be opened by Michael Choi, Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and Trade, and will feature speakers from leading universities, energy and automobile industries, including the CEO of Renault in Australia, Rudi Koenig. Renault-Nissan is one of the leading automobile groups committed to electric vehicles.


“Electric vehicles are really entering a new era and starting to have an impact worldwide,” says Mr Reboul.


“Now there is the opportunity for Australia to become a front runner. The industry and the government, including utilities, are working hard on developing the right infrastructures and policies, despite the considerable challenges a large penetration of electric vehicles would mean in the short term,” he says.


International players like Renault and Mitsubishi, as well as local entrepreneurs like Blade EV and DeepGreen Research will present their vehicles and talk about their products at the conference venue, the Novotel Hotel in the city.


Dr Andrew Simpson from Curtin University’s Sustainable Policy Institute will set the scene on electric vehicles; Conal Horgan from University of Technology Sydney will discuss the possibility to use electric vehicles to feed electricity back into the grid, and Dr Peter Pudney from the University of South Australia will talk about the planning required to introduce electric transport.


In addition to their role as policy makers, governments and councils play a crucial dual role as fleet and infrastructure owners and operators. They can greatly influence the speed of adoption of electric vehicles and the level of investment in the required infrastructure.

“Electric vehicles will reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels and decrease urban pollution. They could also be charged on green power and become a driver for more clean energy production in line with Australia’s renewable energy target,” Mr Reboul added.


Luke Grana, CEO of ChargePoint Australia will speak about “fueling the electric transportation industry”, while Glenn Walden, General Manager of Ergon Energy will look at the network requirements, and Dr David Finn, Managing Director of Tritium, will consider component technology and interaction with the grid.


Electric Vehicle policies adopted and proposed around the world will be explored and explained by Ken Hickson, author of “The ABC of Carbon”.



ZOE Z.E., a 100% electric, zero-emission city car, is for men and women who want to take care of

the environment while taking care of themselves – even behind the wheel.


The roof has been designed as an intelligent protective membrane that insulates against heat and cold, optimizes climate control, and recovers energy using honeycomb photovoltaic cells.


The car features a shield of polyurethane gel at the front and the back, acting as a second skin that protects vulnerable parts of the body in the event of mild urban impact.


ZOE Z.E. boasts the finest in air filtration and purification technology to fully protect the health of

passengers and keep their skin young-looking.


Drivers can “fill up” in one of three ways:

_ Standard charge: in 4 to 8 hours, using a recharge socket outside the car

_ Fast charge: in 20 minutes, using the same socket at special charge stations

_ The exclusive “Quickdrop” system, or rapid battery exchange: in 3 minutes at exchange stations


Biotherm research teams and Renault engineers and designers have combined their expertise in a

co-innovation partnership.


Since the brand was created in 1952, Biotherm research laboratories have developed in-depth knowledge on the cellular mechanisms of the skin, together with proven scientific know-how in the virtues of aromatherapy.


For more than 110 years, Renault has developed recognized expertise in the design and approval of equipment for comfort and well-being.


Thus, ZOE Z.E. presents all-new benefits for its occupants:


1- Hydrated skin: The air conditioning system, generally optimized to respect temperature settings, has been entirely redesigned to keep passengers’ skin hydrated. Occupants benefit from intelligent climate control that keeps the air in the cabin from drying out.


2- Pollution protection system: Thanks to a toxicity sensor and cabin-mounted particulate filters that

close air vents if required, ZOE Z.E. passengers travel in a clean atmosphere.


3- Active essential oils function: An electric system diffuses essential oils, exclusive active substances

adapted to the needs of the driver: dynamic in the morning, relaxing coming home from work, and

awakening vigilance while driving at night. Developed by Biotherm, they transform the cabin into a “spa” cocoon and contribute to passenger vigilance.


The electric vehicle is the breakthrough solution for bringing zero-emission mobility to all. It has

already received worldwide political support, in the shape of tax breaks on CO2 emissions and the

development of infrastructures necessary for electric mobility. As early as 2011, Renault will

launch volume production of a range of electric vehicles accessible to all.


Paris, November 5, 2009


The Renault-Nissan Alliance, the CEA and the FSI sign intent to create a joint venture to develop and manufacture batteries for electric vehicles in France


A letter of intent was signed today in Flins between the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the French Atomic

Energy Commission (CEA) and the French Strategic Investment Fund (FSI) to set-up a joint venture

company that would develop and manufacture batteries for electric vehicles, under the patronage of

Christian Estrosi, the French Minister for Industry.


Renault, Nissan and the CEA would bring technical expertise and infrastructure support in addition to

an equity investment. Consistent with its mission making long-term investments in companies in order

to boost French competitiveness, the FSI will contribute 125 million euros to the project.


In order to complete the financing of the project, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is considering a loan of up to 50% of the 280 million Euro debt financing.


The joint venture between Renault, Nissan, CEA and FSI would focus on advanced research,

manufacturing and the recycling of electric vehicle batteries.


The joint venture plans to produce batteries from mid 2012 at the Renault Flins plant, located 30km

from Paris. Production capacity is targeted at 100,000 batteries a year. The investment value of the first phase of the project is estimated at 600 millions Euros.


Batteries produced by the joint venture would be available for sale to any manufacturer. The Renault-

Nissan Alliance will use its European battery plants in France, the UK and Portugal to supply electric

vehicles built around Europe and Turkey. Renault intends to use the batteries produced at Flins primarily for the all-new electric car that will derive from the Zoe Ze Concept, also to be built at the Flins plant.

The joint venture will have a sustainable approach to its entire operations, including developing technologies to recycle batteries on site.

To date, the French government has created several initiatives towards zero emission mobility including public and private sector company bids on joint purchases of a 100 000 electric vehicles fleet by 2015, consumer incentives of up to €5,000 for the purchase of an electric vehicle (through 2012) and the development of infrastructure through a planned investment of 900 millions Euros financed by the French government.

“Realizing the potential of zero-emission mobility on a mass scale requires unique collaboration between public and private sectors”, said Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of Renault and Nissan. We welcome the vision and commitment made today by the French government, the CEA and the FSI to invest with the Renault Nissan Alliance in the future of clean transportation.”

Bernard Bigot, Chairman of CEA added, “Bringing its strong know-how in the field of CO2-free energy technologies for a sustainable development, the CEA will be a key contributor for the the R&D programs of the joint-venture. Our partners can count on the full support of the CEA research teams in its challenging ambition to lead the electric vehicle market”.

Gilles Michel, General Manager of FSI said “The FSI’s role is to help stabilize and strengthen the supplier network, in particular through the investment fund FMEA. By participating in a joint venture that holds great potential for the future of the auto industry, the FSI reaffirms its conviction that the industry still has much to contribute to France’s competitiveness.


Waste Not, Want Not

Posted by admin on November 8, 2009
Posted under Express 83

Waste Not, Want Not

Wasteful Australian households are being advised to avoid shopping when hungry after a study found least $5.2 billion worth of food is thrown out each year, while an Australia-wide program to keep computers, TVs and other electronic waste out of landfill will be underway by 2011.

By Karen Collier in the Herald Sun (5 November 2009):

WASTEFUL Australian households are being advised to avoid shopping when hungry after a study found we throw out at least $5.2 billion worth of food each year. 

Fruit and vegetables are turfed most, followed by unfinished restaurant and takeaway meals and fresh meat and fish. 

Consumers are being urged to think twice about bulk buy discounts, use plastic containers to store leftovers and write and stick to shopping lists to reduce the amount of food that winds up as rubbish, the Herald Sun reports.

Singles living alone buying over-sized items and territorial flatmates refusing to share their fridge’s contents are the biggest offenders, according to new research. 
The Australia Institute study for the environmental initiative, Do Something, warns that the mountain of discarded food is taking an environmental toll through millions of tonnes of waste left rotting in landfill and giving off methane gas. 

Victorians admitted wasting an average $560 a household and $214 a person – one of the lowest rates in the nation. 

While wealthy households in states outside Victoria were more likely to dump food, our rich were less wasteful. 

Environmental campaigners blame some retailers for feeding waste through two-for-one deals, clever store designs for impulse buys and free plastic bags. 

They want to see a government campaign to reduce the problem as incomes rise and household sizes shrink. 

The report, based on an online survey of 1603 consumers last month, says the dollars thrown down the drain are more than the Australian Army budget. 

Do Something founder Jon Dee said the annual waste was the equivalent of 150,000 truck loads of garbage. 


Karen Dearne in Australian IT News (5 November 2009):

AN Australia-wide program to keep computers, TVs and other electronic waste out of landfill will be underway by 2011, with the nation’s environment ministers today agreeing to fast-track a landmark product stewardship approach advocated by industry.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett said householders will be able to drop off outdated equipment for recycling free of charge, with the new scheme expected to put 80 per cent of all old TVs and computers into recycling facilities by 2021.

“Backed by new Commonwealth legislation, a new industry-run national collection and recycling scheme for the growing mountain of e-waste will be up and running in or before 2011,” Mr Garrett said.

“This is a major development which sees manufacturers taking responsibility for managing one of the fastest growing areas of waste, and it will be done at minimal cost to consumers.

“This is a fundamental shift in our approach to waste, complementing broader action on climate change and sustainability.”

Industry and consumer groups have been keenly awaiting the outcome of today’s meeting of the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) in Perth, reflecting the close co-operation that has developed under the broad leadership of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), the Total Environment Centre and the Boomerang Alliance.

In 2007-08, nearly 17 million old TVs, computers and related products reached the end of their useful lives, but the overwhelming majority – 84 per cent – were sent to the local dump. Only 10 per cent of this equipment was recycled, and the mountain of e-waste continues to grow.

Under the new national waste policy, manufacturers will have the option to join accredited, voluntary, industry-run schemes, although the government will ensure non-participants must comply with the same standards through mandatory or co-regulatory arrangements.

“This will ensure that free-riders are unable to gain a financial advantage over those companies that willingly contribute to recycling their own products,” Mr Garrett said.

AIIA chief executive Ian Birks said the decision put a strong emphasis on compliance, and there would be clear penalties for companies that refuse to participate.

“We’ve been working towards this result for many years, and we can now get on with the job,” Mr Birks said. “The EPHC has accepted our recommendations, based on our experience with the Byteback program in Victoria over the past four years.

“Byteback has provided essential data to support the creation of the co-regulatory framework, and demonstrated the detailed requirements for a successful working relationship between all parties.”


Algae For Bio-Sequestration

Posted by admin on November 8, 2009
Posted under Express 83

Algae Feeds Bio-Sequestration Project

Australia’s first large scale Algal Research and Development Facility at James Cook University, Douglas Campus, Townsville will open on 20 November 2009, while Anglo Coal has been named as the latest partner with MBD for its bio sequestration project. Eco Generation explains what this is all algae energy business is all about.

Article from EcoGeneration magazine:

Geo-sequestration, or storage of carbon dioxide underground, is the most commonly known carbon capture and storage solution; however, companies are developing alternative and more lucrative solutions to lower emissions and power the future.

Lucy Rochlin caught up with MBD Managing Director Andrew Lawson to discuss the potential for bio-sequestration in 2010 and beyond.

MBD Energy uses algae to recycle captured industrial flue-gas emissions, converting them into oils suitable for manufacture of high grade plastics, transport fuel and nutritious feed for livestock. The process also produces algae meal which can be used as biomass for electricity production or feed for livestock. The algae meal makes up 65 per cent of the end product, and has the potential to create over 10 MW of power from a small scale algal synthesiser plant. MBD is currently developing a business model for electricity generation using algae meal.


In the bio-sequestration process, also known as bio carbon capture and storage (bio CCS), carbon is treated as part of a carbon cycle.

The conversion of carbon into oil and meal draws emissions that would usually be emitted to the atmosphere. The process also creates other carbon based products that can be used as useful forms energy. The alternative geo-sequestration process uses 50 per cent more coal to extract and liquefy the CO2, before injecting it into the ground. Furthermore, no useful forms of energy are produced.

Mr Lawson sees a parallel between our storage of carbon and rubbish disposal in Australia.

“The last 200 years have seen landfill fill up with pollution and rubbish. This option is increasingly becoming more expensive and unsustainable. Recycling has started to reduce the quantity of landfill, by recycling rubbish into new, useful and sustainable products. Geo-sequestration is the landfill of the 21st century, while bio CCS seeks to provide a solution for the next millennia that is sustainable.”

The algal synthesiser

The algal synthesiser is an algae farm, in which greenhouse gas is cooled using cooling tower water, and then fed to the algae. Additional nutrients are added to the farm to complete the algae’s diet.

The algae selected are local strains that are high in oil and protein, and double their mass every 24 to 48 hours. Fifty per cent of the algae is harvested each day, dewatered and crushed to yield oil and nutritious meal. In this process, 100 per cent of the algae is used. The algae strain is also matched to the type of oil required.

MBD has focused on oil for fuel and plastic – however strains rich in Omega 3 and other high value oils have been identified for future investigation.  The remaining meal is 50 – 70 per cent protein, and when blended with carbohydrates, provides a drought proof feed for livestock and aquaculture, year round.


The algal synthesiser may be retrofitted to a majority of existing CO2 emitting industrial facilities provided there is sufficient space for installation of the modular and compact array of transparent tubing – the component at the heart of the process. The synthesiser can also be integrated into new emissions producing infrastructure and located on buffer land adjacent to the emitter.

MBD plans to harness the use of the greenhouse flue gas from an emitter’s smoke stack rather than the significantly more expensive and still-to-be-developed pure CO2 capture solution, geo-sequestration. MBD’s process is commercial, and reduces the complexity, risk, cost and timeframe of transforming an emitter to a low carbon footprint operator.

MBD’s projects

Full scale plants at Loy Yang, NSW and QLD

MBD has developed a fully operational research and development facility and is currently moving to develop full scale display plants at a number of Australia’s major coal-burning power stations at Loy Yang A in Victoria, Eraring Energy in New South Wales, and a large Queensland-based emitter.

The company has also completed additional works at the Townsville-based research and development facility, and is in the process of inoculating the growth systems. Originally launched in 2008 by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, the new facility will be re-launched by Ms Bligh on 20 November as the largest micro algae research and development facility in the world.

The bio-carbon capture and storage demonstration projects

MBD is also participating in a joint demonstration project that will aim to bio-sequester more than 25 per cent of emissions by 2020 in three high-emitting regions in Australia: Gippsland in Victoria; south Queensland; and Western Australia. The projects are privately funded, commercial projects. The other companies involved include Lawrie Co, Ignite Energy Resources, Plantstone Technology, CO2Australia, New Forests, Spectrum Renewable Energy, Soil Carbon Australia and Licella.

“Biology has provided nature with ready-made filters – MBD’s bio carbon capture and storage demonstration projects will harness these filters to demonstrate the commercial viability of speedily cleaning the air, improving water quality, and improving food outputs by ‘closing nature’s loops’,” says MBD Managing Director Andrew Lawson.

International Support

MBD’s discussions in China and India in October 2009 were expected to result in the finalisation of several sites to develop bio-sequestration commercial demonstration projects.

“Both of these countries have severely depleted soils and looming food security concerns and both are heavily dependent on coal for the near future. To a large extent, the battle against climate change will be won or lost in these countries,” says Mr Lawson.

Bio-sequestration – a viable climate change solution

Kyoto and the majority of subsequent investigation and world discussion have focused on transferring to a low carbon environment through geo-sequestration. However, policies that stabilise sequestrations through oceans and forests are also of key importance.

MBD considers that bio-sequestration has previously been marginalised as a solution to climate change in Australia.

Mr Lawson suggests that this is because bio-sequestration necessitates the difficult task of a comprehensive reassessment of the carbon cycle. While the geo-sequestration proposes to store carbon, it is far less simple to track a path from greenhouse gases to fixation in oils, cellulous and other derivatives.

However Mr Lawson says that regardless of their complexity, it is these processes that will provide commercial long term sustainable solutions and optimise the energy/resource balance.

Bio-sequestration – the benefits

Sustainable: Generation of fuel and feed from waste greenhouse gases

Clean: Lower emission fuel and feed

Green: Algae made all the oil on earth over millions of years – MBD is cutting this process down to one day. The process enables the mineral oil to be maintained in underground reservoirs and the CO2 in the atmosphere and from industry to be harnessed for fuel.

Bio-sequestration and the CPRS

MBD believes that the CPRS legislation needs to be built on a clear and definite central basis – where any technology that has a net reduction in atmospheric CO2 is supported.

“The legislation should recognise all forms of sequestration or reduction in the physical greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere,” says Mr Lawson.

The company considers that bio-sequestration has the potential to offer a commercially viable solution for large scale reduction of carbon emissions to the atmosphere.                      

Source: and