Archive for the ‘Express 92’ Category

Profile: Angus Forbes

Posted by admin on January 21, 2010
Posted under Express 92

Profile: Angus Forbes

When Angus Forbes saw the “green light” in 2007, he gave up his high powered London job to work for Prince Charles’ rainforest project, then decided to set up a green global equity fund in Australia to invest only in companies  which are dedicated to environmental principles and with a sustainable management commitment.

Last weekend Angus Forbes appeared on Sky Business Eco Report. This week saw him in Brisbane giving a lecture at the Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise, Griffith University.

Ken Hickson caught up with him to get a measure of the man on a mission.

Angus Forbes has turned green and he wants to encourage all business to do likewise.

As he said in an interview with the UK Sunday Times last month:

“Businesses that have a champion are what we are looking for — someone at the top who is passionate about the cause and is infecting the entire organisation with his passion. We want to invest in people who are thumping their desks trying to get their company to the top of the field on this issue.”

Green wasn’t always the colour of the money or the companies Angus was prepared to invest in.

Angus spent 20 years in London working with James Capel, Merrill Lynch and GLG Partners. At Merrill Lynch he led Scottish Institutional sales and then Hedge fund sales. Angus ran European research at GLG Partners before managing the Global Consumer fund 2003-07.

In early 2007, Angus launched the GLG Environment Fund and established the sustainability framework that has become the central approach of Natural Capital’s funds today.

In 2007, Angus was the inaugural Project Director of the Prince of Wales’ Rainforest Project at Clarence house in London. Angus was also Chairman of Burgopak, a packaging firm based in London, from 2002-07.

To get a good inside look at what Angus Forbes and his company Natural Capital is up to, we reprint here the full story by Kate Walsh in UK Sunday Times (13 December 2009):

IN his sharp suit, Angus Forbes looks every inch the archetypal hedge-fund manager, yet he is probably the closest the sector will get to a tree-hugger. The clue is in his green tie and cufflinks.

Forbes is co-founder of Natural Capital Funds Management, which invests in sustainable companies. The Australian-born 44-year-old has worked in the City for 20 years. He was at GLG, the hedge fund, until mid-2007 and at Merrill Lynch, the investment bank, before that. Married since 1997 to Darcey Bussell, the ballet dancer, Forbes led a charmed life, but in 2007 something changed.

“I started to get interested in the environment. It happened in the stereotypical way. I watched An Inconvenient Truth [the film by Al Gore], then I read Capitalism: As if the World Matters, by Jonathon Porritt, and works by the environmentalist James Lovelock and the activist George Monbiot. You don’t want to read these books after seven o’clock at night because you don’t sleep. I was having palpitations. I just couldn’t justify what I was doing any more.”

Forbes resigned from GLG in late June 2007, just three weeks after Bussell’s final performance at Covent Garden. As the prima ballerina danced to Kenneth MacMillan’s Song of the Earth in that final show, Forbes contemplated what he would do next.

His first port of call was Prince Charles’s Rainforest Project. A job there lasted for five months before he and Bussell and their two young children moved to Australia, where they settled in Sydney.

Six months later Marcus Burns, a former colleague who co-managed the global consumer fund with Forbes at GLG, also returned to his native Australia.

The pair started to discuss their next step and launched Natural Capital Funds Management with $10m of their own and friends’ money in August. They are still raising capital from family offices, wealth managers and small investment institutions.

“The foundation point of the fund is that we have gone from having a single fiduciary duty to a dual one. We want to make money for investors and act responsibly towards the environment,” said Forbes.

He acknowledged that there were plenty of other green funds but few fund-management firms focus exclusively on making sustainable investments.

Natural Capital has bought stakes in 25 companies, including Mastercard, China Shineway, a herbal medicine business, and Intertek, a London-listed product-testing company. Forbes and Burns liked Mastercard because it is at the forefront of the movement from cash to e-payment, which means less paper money floating around the world.

All the stocks in their portfolio must meet basic investment criteria. They must be under-valued and generate cashflow.

Before an investment is made, the managers examine a company’s environmental footprint, covering everything from its water and electricity consumption to the efficiency of its computer servers. This weeds out the pretenders.

After that Forbes and Burns are looking for a long-term commitment to creating a sustainable environment.

They do sector-specific tests on the company to ensure it is as green as it claims — a luxury handbag maker, for example, would have to prove that the chemicals used in the tanning process are not polluting the environment round the factory.

The key test, though, falls on management, according to Forbes. “Businesses that have a champion are what we are looking for — someone at the top who is passionate about the cause and is infecting the entire organisation with his passion. We want to invest in people who are thumping their desks trying to get their company to the top of the field on this issue.”

Source: and

“Glaciergate” or snow-job by the media?

Posted by admin on January 21, 2010
Posted under Express 92

“Glaciergate” or snow-job by the media?

Glaciers the world over are shrinking and climate change is seen the primary culprit. That’s clear from hundreds of cases scientifically studied, observed and photographed. But now it is emerging that some “evidence” from the Himalayas has not been as scientifically obtained as first thought. The New Scientist, WWF and the IPCC itself are accused of misleading us all. What’s the full story? We also refer you to “The ABC of Carbon” for glacier melting reports, as well as photographic evidence (including the image shown here) in the book by award-winning photographer Gary Braasch “Earth Under Fire”.

For more information on Gary Braasch, his books and photographs, visit and

His book, which surveys glaciers retreated through the world, is called “Earth Under Fire” and his published by the University of California Press. It is available on

The image shown on the first page of “Express” is a shot by Gary Braasch of Athabasca Glacier in Canada.

Letters to the Editor

An “abridged” version of this appeared in The Australian letters column on 19 January 2010 and its blog. Here’s the original version:

Your front page report questioning “scientific” reports of glaciers melting, failed to acknowledge personal and scientific observations, as well as photographic evidence of what has been happening with glaciers in the Himalayas and elsewhere in the world. In my book “The ABC of Carbon” and in my weekly e-newsletter abc carbon express, I have a number of accounts of severe glacier ice reduction from the Himalayas, European Alps, North America, and even New Zealand. Your reporters should have gone to the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Switzerland – – for its latest report: “Preliminary mass balance values for the observation period 2007/08 have been reported now from more than 90 glaciers worldwide. The average mass balance of the glaciers with available long-term observation series around the world continues to decrease, with tentative figures indicating a further thickness reduction of 0.5 metres water equivalent (m w.e.) during the hydrological year 2007/08. The new data continues the global trend in strong ice loss over the past few decades and brings the cumulative average thickness loss of the reference glaciers since 1980 at about 12 m w.e.”  There is also excellent evidence from photographer Graham Braasch which shows very distinct reduction in glaciers, when compared with photographs taken of the same glaciers years ago. You could also go to the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research – – which has scientifically monitored evidence of glacier melt in Alaska and elsewhere. It deserves a follow up story with more reliable information from the sources I quote and others.

Ken Hickson

Two “encouraging” letters appeared in The Australian on (20 January 2010):

Significant glacial decline is a reality

REPORTS that predictions about the rate of decline in the Himalayan-Tibetan glaciers may be unfounded should be treated with caution. While the claim that all the glaciers may disappear by 2035 now seems speculative (“UN glacier blunder a 300-year mix-up”, 19/1; “Climate science on thin ice”, Features, 19/1), there is substantial peer-reviewed science that points towards significant glacial decline this century and substantial warming across the region.

Warming across the greater Himalayas is two to four times the global average. Recent scientific studies have found that the average temperatures in the Himalayan ranges have been rising at the rate of 0.06C a year over the past three decades and temperatures on the Tibetan Plateau have risen by an average 0.16C per decade in the summer (and 0.32C in winter) over the past 40 years. This was up to three times the temperature increase in other regions of China.

Predictions about the exact timing of major climate impacts are difficult, especially when looking at the dynamics of melting ice. The Arctic sea ice, for example, is declining rapidly, 70 years ahead of the IPCC’s predictions. But given the catastrophic results of the glacial melt for hundreds of millions of people, we should not let a debate about its timing divert us from attempting to prevent it.

Damien Lawson, Fitzroy North, Vic

SO, in their desperation, climate change deniers have leapt on one mistake in a 3000-page IPCC report as definitive proof that the entire report can be discounted. This is roughly akin to a flat earther pointing to a spelling mistake in Galileo’s thesis as definitive proof that the earth does not revolve around the sun.

T. Nankivell, Barton, ACT

Here’s the full page article which appeared in The Australian on 19 January by Cameron Stewart, Associate editor. It followed the front page article of the day before which was entirely lifted from the UK Sunday Times:

THE prediction, if true, was an apocalyptic one. The “rapid melting” of thousands of glaciers across the Himalayas would lead to deadly floods, followed by severe long-term water shortages across the food bowl of central Asia.

The melting glaciers would cause havoc to water supplies feeding Asia’s nine largest rivers, including the Ganges, Mekong, Yangtze and Yellow rivers, affecting hundreds of millions of people.

The result, according to a 2005 report by environmental group WWF, would be “massive eco and environmental problems for people in western China, Nepal and northern India”.

The WWF’s claim the 2400km Himalayan range was experiencing a rapid retreat in its glaciers was supported in stronger terms only two years later by the peak UN body on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In its 2007 report, the IPCC concluded: “Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the earth keeps warming at the current rate.”

It was a sweeping, bold and alarmist prediction by the IPCC, and one that raised eyebrows among many of the small group of experts who study the behaviour of the world’s glaciers.

But the IPCC defended its glacier claims vigorously, with IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri recently describing those who cast doubt upon them as practitioners of “voodoo science”.

Yet today it is the powerful IPCC that stands accused of practising voodoo science in relation to its sweeping claims about the melting of Himalayan glaciers following revelations its apocalyptic predictions were based on little more than “speculation”.

At face value, the disclosures by Britain’s The Sunday Times (reprinted in The Australian yesterday) amount to one of the most serious failings yet seen in climate research.

They will further tarnish the IPCC’s reputation, coming less than two months after the emergence of leaked emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit that raised questions about the legitimacy of some data published by the IPCC about global warming.

As with the leaked email affair, dubbed Climategate, this new controversy of Glaciergate has energised climate change sceptics, who exploded into cyberspace yesterday, relishing the opportunity to accuse the IPCC of sloppy science. It is the same accusation sceptics have been accused of by the IPCC.

But how did such an important body like the IPCC make such a misjudgment? And where does this leave the issue of melting glaciers, which, ever since Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth, have been cited as prime evidence of global warming?

The original claim about most Himalayan glaciers vanishing by 2035 – which appeared in the IPCC report – was not based on hard science. It was based on a 1999 interview with little-known Indian glaciologist Syed Hasnain who told New Scientist that all the glaciers in the central and eastern Himalayas could disappear by 2035.

In 2005, the WWF published a report describing the predictions in New Scientist as “disturbing”. In 2007, the IPCC published a report that repeated the warning that Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035, citing WWF as its source.

Now Hasnain has admitted his predictions were nothing more than speculation and were not supported by any formal scientific research.

Experts say the claims amount to a gross misrepresentation of what is happening with glaciers in the Himalayas. If the glaciers are in retreat – and this is a matter on which scientists disagree – most experts do not believe they are retreating at anything like the pace suggested by the IPCC.

“The reality that the glaciers are wasting away is bad enough,” says Graham Cogley, a geographer from Trent University in Ontario, Canada, who played a lead role in uncovering the IPCC’s flawed claim.

“But they are not wasting away at the rate suggested by this speculative remark and the IPCC report. The problem is that nobody who studied this material bothered chasing the trail back to the original point when the claim first arose. It is ultimately a trail which leads back to a magazine article, and that is not the sort of thing you want to end up in an IPCC report.”

An Australian glacier expert, Cliff Ollier of the University of Western Australia, accuses the IPCC of being “deliberately alarmist” with its predictions about melting glaciers because he says the organisation has a vested interest in global warming. “Glaciers started to retreat in 1895 when there was no correlation to global warming,” Ollier says. “Now we are seeing a general retreat on glaciers because we are coming out of an ice age, but there is nothing alarming about it. These retreats are not caused only by temperatures.”

The IPCC’s claims about the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas appears to have been flawed on several levels.

First, it did not acknowledge that there has been only limited scientific research on Himalayan glaciers, with very little consistent research available on long term trends of ice-flows.

The remote location and inaccessibility of Himalayan glaciers means they are the least studied or understood glaciers in the world.

“There is no field data to corroborate that the glaciers will disappear in the next 20 to 30 years,” says R. K. Ganjoo, director of Jammu University’s regional centre on Himalayan glaciology.

“The range has thousands of glaciers and we study about 30. And whichever we have studied, we need more detailed data. If we want to study glacier behaviour, we need to monitor for eight to 10 years, but we only manage two years at most.”

The key agency for the study of glaciers, the World Glacier Monitoring Service, believes global warming is causing glaciers to shrink, but it freely admits it is difficult to be precise about the urgency of the threat.

“There is mounting evidence that climate change is triggering a shrinking and thinning of many glaciers worldwide, which may eventually put at risk water supplies for hundreds of millions of people,” the WGMS warned two years ago.

“But data gaps exist in some vulnerable parts of the globe (including central Asia), undermining the ability to provide precise early warning for countries and populations at risk.”

A 2008 report released jointly by the WGMS and the UN Environment Program concluded that the average annual melting rate for glaciers around the world appeared to have doubled after the turn of the millennium, with record losses recorded in 2006.

The majority of climate change scientists agree that Himalayan glaciers appear to be in retreat, but the rate of that retreat – and what is causing it – remains hotly contested. This fact was not acknowledged by the IPCC in its 2007 report.

In November last year, a report released by the Indian government found that – contrary to the IPCC’s claims – many Himalayan glaciers are stable and that the rate of retreat for others has slowed.

Written by a senior glaciologist and avid mountaineer Vijay Raina, the report concluded there was not enough evidence yet to support the claim that Himalayan glaciers are retreating because of global warming.

Raina found little consistency in the behaviour of Himalayan glaciers. Some are retreating, some expanding and others remain stable. If global warming were a factor, why are they not all retreating at the same time, he wants to know.

“A glacier . . . does not necessarily respond to the immediate climatic changes, for if it be so then all glaciers within the same climatic zone should have been advancing or retreating at the same time,” he wrote. The Indian government’s environment ministry endorsed Raina’s conclusions, leading India’s Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh to accuse the IPCC of being “alarmist”.

IPCC chairman Pachauri in turn accused the Indian government of “arrogance” for questioning the IPCC’s claims, and dismissed Raiba’s findings as “voodoo science”, stating that the IPCC had “a very clear idea of what is happening” in the Himalayas.

Part of the problem in making accurate judgments about glaciers is history shows they have a tendency to behave in random ways.

Glacier monitoring began in 1894, and the general pattern has been for them to retreat, but they have done so in a non-logical manner.

According to the UN, early measurements indicated strong melting of glaciers during the 1940s and 50s and yet there was only moderate melting of glaciers between 1966 and 1985, when global warming factors would have been stronger.

As a result, some of those scientists who accept that the Himalayan glaciers are now in retreat believe factors other than global warming are driving it.

A 2007 study by the British journal Nature claimed the haze of pollution in southern Asia was as much to blame as greenhouse gases in causing the glaciers of the Himalaya to retreat.

Either way, the revelations this week have opened a heated debate that goes beyond the science of glaciers and to the heart of the credibility of the IPCC.

As Benny Peiser of the Global Warming Policy Foundation told London’s Daily Mail: “The IPCC review process has been shown on numerous occasions to lack transparency and due diligence”.

At a time when governments are baulking at taking tough measures to combat climate change, this new blow to the credibility of the IPCC could not have come at a worse time.


No evidence of climate fraud found in AP’s review of hacked emails

Posted by admin on January 21, 2010
Posted under Express 92

No evidence of climate fraud found in AP’s review of hacked emails

None of the emails flagged by Associated Press and sent to three climate scientists, viewed as moderates in the field, changed their view that global warming is man-made and a threat. Nor did it alter their support of the conclusions of the UN IPCC, which some of the scientists helped write. Remember the emails were obtained in the first place by illegal hacking of computers. No one has been identified or convicted for this crime.

By Seth Borenstein, Raphael Satter and Malcolm Ritter  for Associated Press,  which first appeared in the US and Europe in 12/13 December 2009, but in The Australian (16 January 2010), with the headline:

 “Snippy and personal, yes…but a wholesale climate fraud? Not here

A news team has read 1073 of the so-called Climategate emails and reports its findings

EMAILS stolen from climate scientists show they stonewalled sceptics and discussed hiding data, but the messages don’t support claims that the science of global warming was faked, according to an exhaustive review by The Associated Press.

The 1073 emails examined by AP show that scientists harboured private doubts, however slight and fleeting, even as they told the world they were certain about climate change. However, the exchanges don’t undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

The scientists were keenly aware of how their work would be viewed and used, and, just like politicians, went to great pains to shape their message. Sometimes, they sounded more like schoolyard taunts than scientific tenets.

The scientists were so convinced by their own science and so driven by a cause “that unless you’re with them, you’re against them”, said Mark Frankel, director of scientific freedom, responsibility and law at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also reviewed the communications.

Frankel saw “no evidence of falsification or fabrication of data, although concerns could be raised about some instances of very `generous interpretations’.”

Some emails expressed doubts about the quality of individual temperature records or why models and data didn’t quite match. Part of this is the normal give and take of research, but sceptics challenged how reliable certain data was.

The emails were stolen from the computer network server of the climate research unit at the University of East Anglia in southeast England, an influential source of climate science, and were posted online late last year. The university shut down the server and contacted the police.

AP studied all the emails for context, with five reporters reading and rereading them, about 1 million words in total.

One of the most disturbing elements suggests an effort to avoid sharing scientific data with critics sceptical of global warming. It is not clear if any data was destroyed; two US researchers denied it.

The emails show that several mainstream scientists repeatedly suggested keeping their research materials away from opponents who sought it under US and British public records law. It raises a science ethics question because free access to data is important so others can repeat experiments as part of the scientific method. The University of East Anglia is investigating the blocking of information requests.

“I believe none of us should submit to these `requests’,” declared the university’s Keith Briffa. The centre’s chief, Phil Jones, wrote: “Data is covered by all the agreements we sign with people, so I will be hiding behind them.”

When one sceptic kept filing FOI requests, Jones, who didn’t return AP requests for comment, told another scientist, Michael Mann: “You can delete this attachment if you want. Keep this quiet also, but this is the person who is putting FOI requests for all emails Keith (Briffa) and Tim (Osborn) have written.”

Mann, a researcher at Penn

State University, says: “I didn’t delete any emails as Phil asked me to. I don’t believe anybody else did.”

The emails also show how professional attacks turned very personal. When former London financial trader Douglas J. Keenan combed through the data used in a 1990 research paper Jones had co-authored, Keenan claimed to have found evidence of fakery by Jones’s co-author. Keenan threatened to have the FBI arrest University at Albany scientist Wei-Chyung Wang for fraud. (A university investigation later cleared him of any wrongdoing.)

“I do now wish I’d never sent them the data after their FOI request!” Jones wrote in June 2007.

In another case, after initially baulking on releasing data to a sceptic because it was already public, Lawrence Livermore National Lab scientist Ben Santer wrote that he then opted to release everything the sceptic wanted — and more. Santer said in a telephone interview that he and others are inundated by frivolous requests from sceptics that are designed to “tie-up government-funded scientists”.

The emails also showed a stunning disdain for global warming sceptics. One scientist practically celebrates the news of the death of one critic, saying, “In an odd way this is cheering news!” Another bemoans that the only way to deal with sceptics is “continuing to publish quality work in quality journals (or calling in a Mafia hit)”. And a third scientist said the next time he sees a certain sceptic at a meeting, “I’ll be tempted to beat the crap out of him. Very tempted.”

Santer, who received death threats after his work on climate change in 1996, says now: “I’m not surprised that things are said in the heat of the moment between professional colleagues. These things are taken out of context.”

When the journal, Climate Research, published a sceptical study, Penn State scientist Mann discussed retribution this way: “Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal.” That sceptical study turned out to be partly funded by the American Petroleum Institute. The most provocative emails are usually about one aspect of climate science: research from a decade ago that studied how warm or cold it was centuries ago through analysis of tree rings, ice cores and glacial melt. The emails stretch from 1996 to last year and have been a key element in measuring climate change over long periods.

As part of the AP review, summaries of the emails that raised issues from the potential manipulation of data to intensely personal attacks were sent to seven experts in research ethics, climate science and science policy.

“This is normal science politics, but on the extreme end, though still within bounds,” says Dan Sarewitz, a science policy professor at Arizona State University. “We talk about science as this pure ideal and the scientific method as if it is something out of a cookbook, but research is a social and human activity full of all the failings of society and humans, and this reality gets totally magnified by the high political stakes here.”

In the three weeks after the emails were posted, longtime opponents of mainstream climate science repeatedly quoted excerpts of about a dozen emails. Republican congressmen and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin called for either independent investigations, a delay in US Environmental Protection Agency regulation of greenhouse gases or outright boycotts of the Copenhagen international climate talks. They alleged a “culture of corruption” existed.

That is not what AP found. There were signs of trying to present the data as convincingly as possible.

One email that sceptics have been citing often since the messages were posted online is from Jones. He says: “I’ve just completed Mike’s (Mann) trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (from 1981 onward) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” Jones was referring to tree ring data that indicated temperatures after the 1950s weren’t as warm as scientists had determined. The “trick” that Jones said he was borrowing from Mann was to add the real temperatures, not what the tree rings showed. And the decline he talked of hiding was not in real temperatures, but in the tree ring data which was misleading, Mann explains.

Sometimes the data didn’t line up as scientists wanted. David Rind told colleagues about inconsistent figures in the work for an international report: “As this continuing exchange has clarified, what’s in Chapter 6 is inconsistent with what is in Chapter 2 (and Chapter 9 is caught in the middle!). Worse yet, we’ve managed to make global warming go away! (Maybe it really is that easy.)”

But in the end, global warming didn’t go away.

None of the emails flagged by AP and sent to three climate scientists viewed as moderates in the field changed their view that global warming is man-made and a threat. Nor did it alter their support of the conclusions of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which some of the scientists helped write.

“My overall interpretation of the scientific basis for (man-made) global warming is unaltered by the contents of these emails,” says Gabriel Vecchi, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist.

Gerald North, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University, headed a National Academy of Sciences study that looked at — and upheld as valid — Mann’s earlier studies that found the 1990s were the hottest years in centuries.

“In my opinion the meaning is much more innocent than might be perceived by others taken out of context. Much of this is overblown,” North says.

Mann contends he always has been upfront about uncertainties, pointing to the title of his 1999 study: “Northern Hemisphere Temperatures During the Past Millennium: Inferences, Uncertainties and Limitations.”

One person singled out for criticism in the emails is Steve McIntyre, who maintains Climate Audit, a blog that focuses on statistical issues with scientists’ attempts to recreate the climate of ancient times.

“We find that the authors are overreaching in the conclusions that they’re trying to draw from the data that they have,” he says.

Some emails said McIntyre’s attempts to get original data from scientists are frivolous and meant more for harassment than doing good science. There are allegations that he would distort and misuse data given to him. McIntyre disagrees with how he is portrayed. “Everything that I’ve done in this, I’ve done in good faith,” he says. The sceptics started the name-calling, says Mann, who called McIntyre a “bozo”, a “fraud” and a “moron” in various emails. “We’re human,” Mann says. “We’ve been under attack unfairly by these people who have been attempting to dismiss us as frauds.”


Emissions decline as less coal burnt, but renewables struggle

Posted by admin on January 21, 2010
Posted under Express 92

Emissions decline as less coal burnt, but renewables struggle

Greenhouse gas emissions from energy production declined across eastern Australia last year because less coal was burnt, and NSW cut back more than the other states, while some of Australia’s big green energy players have called on the Federal Government to remove solar hot water heaters from a scheme that entices investment in renewable power.

Clancy Yeates in Business Day (18 January 2010):

SOME of Australia’s big green energy players have called on the Federal Government to remove solar hot water heaters from a scheme that entices investment in renewable power.

After last month’s failure at Copenhagen to secure a binding global accord on cutting carbon, the companies have taken aim at Australia’s renewable energy target (RET).

The target requires 20 per cent of Australia’s power to be renewable by 2020. But the scheme came under fire after a $1600 solar hot water subsidy flooded the market with renewable energy certificates from domestic water heaters, causing the certificates’ value almost to halve.

In a submission to a Council of Australian Governments inquiry, companies including AGL, Pacific Hydro and wind turbine makers Vestas and Suzlon call for hot water heaters to be removed from the scheme.

Industry estimates put the total value of RET-driven investment at up to $30 billion. The group called for state-based energy efficiency schemes to be joined in a single national scheme.


Ben Cubby In Sydney Morning Herald (18 January 2010):

Greenhouse gas emissions from energy production declined across eastern Australia last year because less coal was burnt, and NSW cut back more than the other states, research has shown.

The result reflects the first tangible hints of a switch to natural gas and away from coal as a source of baseload power. Wind and solar energy made little impact on the energy grid last year, and still contribute just a sliver of the state’s power mix.

Despite a rising population and economic growth, the state’s emissions dropped 3.1 per cent compared with 2008. But they are still 24 per cent above greenhouse levels in 1990, the baseline year used to calculate carbon cuts under the Kyoto Protocol.

Altogether, carbon emissions from energy production decreased 1.8 per cent across the eastern states from their 2008 level, sparing 5.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, according to the annual report of The Climate Group, which monitors weekly changes in power production.

“Any decrease in emissions is good news and 5.3 million tonnes is a substantial saving,” said the Australian director of The Climate Group, Rupert Posner. ”If we were to continue to cut by this much each year, emissions from energy would be almost 20 per cent lower by 2020.

“Unfortunately, this isn’t the whole story as low rates of growth have helped keep emissions down. As the economy returns to more robust levels of growth, continued reductions will be much harder to achieve unless we start to change the way we produce and use energy in a much more meaningful way.”

Economic growth in NSW slowed to 0.2 per cent last year because of the global economic crisis, but it is expected to grow faster this year.

The drop in emissions is mainly due to less surplus energy being produced by coal-fired plants and, in NSW, the commissioning of three small gas-powered plants at Colongra on the Central Coast, Uranquity near Wagga Wagga and Tallawarra in the Illawarra.

Gas is a fossil fuel that releases greenhouse gases, but emissions from gas are generally only 40 per cent of those from coal.

The NSW carbon cuts were boosted slightly because the state imported more energy which, in turn, spread some of its emissions among Queensland energy generators.

Petrol emissions from transport and generators, which include the figures for LPG, automotive fuels, aviation fuel, industrial diesel and fuel oil, dropped 0.2 per cent compared with the previous year.

As last year was the second-warmest on record in Australia, there was increased demand for air-conditioning in the summer, but this was offset by lower demand for electricity during a relatively warm winter.

The data means NSW is still pumping out between 1.8 and 2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas a week from energy production. The peak is in February.

“As the country with the highest per capita emissions in the world, we need to be doing much more to reduce our carbon footprint,” Mr Posner said.


Japan Technology beams down for Masdar’s solar sustainable city

Posted by admin on January 21, 2010
Posted under Express 92

Japan Technology beams down for Masdar’s solar sustainable city

Masdar has once again shown its commitment to establishing Abu Dhabi as a global renewable energy hub, consistently raising the bar in terms of our investment in new technologies that serve to create a better tomorrow for us all, says CEO Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, with the announcement of an  advanced concentrated solar power (CSP) central tower research and development project for the new Middle East sustainable city.

Masdar begins research and development phase for new solar tower ‘beam down’ facility.

From the United Arab Emirates (14 January 2010):

Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s multifaceted renewable energy initiative, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Japan’s Cosmo Oil Company and the Tokyo Institute of Technology have launched an advanced concentrated solar power (CSP) central tower research and development project at Masdar City.

That’s not all that is happening in the United Arab Emirates with the Masdar project:

The Masdar Institute, Boeing, Etihad Airways and Honeywell to establish the UAE’s first sustainable Bioenergy research project

South Korea and Masdar sign a MoU to collaborate on renewable energy research and development and joint projects

Abu Dhabi emerging as hub for renewable energy and climate change

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology launches Young Future Energy Leaders at World Future Energy Summit 2010

London Array signs contracts worth almost €2bn for work on world’s largest offshore wind farm

Neutral Group becomes first carbon abatement consultancy licensed to operate from Masdar City

The state-of-the-art, collaborative research project will test an innovative ‘beam down’ technology, which has the potential to convert solar irradiation into electricity in a more efficient way than other technologies – producing a commercially viable ‘beam down’ process would represent a significant breakthrough in (CSP) technology.

The ‘beam down’ process inverts conventional tower solar tower technologies, which uses mirrors (heliostats) to direct the sun’s rays onto a receiver at the top of a central tower to heat a heat transfer fluid (molten salt, oil, or water) in order to generate steam, which is then used to drive a steam turbine.

By placing the receiver at the base of the tower (ground level), the research team believes that they can reduce energy losses resulting from pumping the fluid to an elevated receiver, raising operational efficiency and lowering electricity generation costs.

Talking on the importance of the project and the development of solar power technologies, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Chief Executive of Masdar, said:

“Solar thermal technology is a key research area for Masdar, and we are committed to working together with our partners to advance these technologies even further. Our strategic partnership with Cosmo Oil and the Tokyo Institute of Technology enables us to explore innovative procedures or the improvement and efficiency of solar thermal energy production. The initial project findings have been very positive and if the results continue to be successful, ‘beam down’ technology has the potential to revolutionise the way in which all solar towers are built in the future.”

“Masdar has once again shown its commitment to establishing Abu Dhabi as a global renewable energy hub, consistently raising the bar in terms of our investment in new technologies that serve to create a better tomorrow for us all,” he concluded.

The research agreement between Masdar, Cosmo Oil and the Tokyo Institute of Technology is the most recent component of an ongoing effort by the UAE to position itself as a global leader in the area of renewable energy technologies, which began with the establishment of the Masdar Initiative in 2006.

Earlier last year, the leadership of Abu Dhabi committed itself to a 7% renewable energy target by the year 2020 and Abu Dhabi was selected to host the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Masdar City.

For his part Hiroyuki WADA General Manager, Future Energy Division, International Ventures Dept. Cosmo Oil Co., Ltd. said, “We are proud to be working with Masdar and the Tokyo Institute of Technology on such a progressive project. The realities of global climate change has highlighted the importance for financially viable alternative sources of energy and the development of ‘beam down’ technology has the potential to be revolutionise the CSP sector.”


Green Jobs Revolution comes with UK’s Low Carbon Economy

Posted by admin on January 21, 2010
Posted under Express 92

Green Jobs Revolution comes with UK’s Low Carbon Economy

The recession will not deflect the UK Government’s efforts to cut carbon emissions and move to a low carbon economy, Energy and Climate Change Minister Ed Miliband said last week, as the Government formally responded to the Committee on Climate Change’s first annual report on carbon budgets. Britain stood to gain not only from a green jobs revolution, but from measures to help people cut the amount of energy they use.

14 January 2010 – Press Release – Miliband: UK Won’t Let Up On Climate Fight
The recession will not deflect the UK Government’s efforts to cut carbon emissions and move to a low carbon economy, Energy and Climate Change Minister Ed Miliband said today.

Speaking as the Government formally responded to the Committee on Climate Change’s first annual report on carbon budgets under the Climate Change Act, Mr Miliband said Britain stood to gain not only from a green jobs revolution, but from measures to help people cut the amount of energy they use.

The UK is on course to over-achieve on its carbon budgets – the emissions equivalent of fiscal budgets -  with an estimated 36% cut on 1990 levels projected by 2020.

Government will not rely on the reduction in emissions brought about by the economic downturn to meet its climate targets. To reinforce this, any over-achievement in the first carbon budget due to the recession will not be carried forward to allow for higher emissions in the future.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said:

“The recession will not deflect the Government’s efforts to cut emissions and move to a low carbon economy. We will not let up on the fight against climate change, instead we must redouble our efforts at home and internationally so the UK emerges from the global downturn building on the opportunities and benefits a low carbon future will bring.”

Significant progress has already been made since the Low Carbon Transition Plan was published in July 2009, including in the key sectors of power generation, buildings and industry, and transport that the CCC focused on its report. Some of the key measures include -

In the power sector:

  • We have set out the world’s most ambitious plans for clean coal. There will be no new coal without carbon capture and storage.
  • We published for consultation the draft energy National Policy Statements, a key element of a reformed planning system which will speed up decisions on low carbon energy infrastructure.
  • We are working to ensure that access to the electricity grid is not a barrier to low carbon generation. Measures include introducing new grid access arrangements, a new offshore electricity transmission regime and setting out plans for a smart grid in the UK.
  • We are acting to address constraints on finance for investment in the renewable energy industry as a result of the credit crunch, including a scheme operated by the European Investment Bank that is facilitating up to £9 billion of investment and establishing Infrastructure UK to support deployment of low-carbon infrastructure.
  • We are working to ensure that the energy market framework can deliver the low-carbon investment needed to meet our targets, and will report initial findings at Budget 2010.

In homes and industry:

  • Government programmes have supported the installation of insulation in around 2 million homes in the last 18 months, and we are trialling new community-based and whole-house approaches to increase take-up.
  • We will shortly be publishing a ‘Household Energy Management Strategy’ that will set out new plans to help reduce emissions from households by 29% from 2008 levels by 2020
  • We will shortly be setting out details of our ‘clean energy cash-back’ schemes for people and businesses that generate low carbon heat and electricity.
  • We are looking at policy options to realise the significant potential for emissions reductions from small businesses.
  • We are developing new ways to encourage and support local authorities to increase their role in the transition to the low carbon economy.

To reduce emissions from transport we are:

  • Providing an incentive from 2011 to stimulate early markets in ultra-low carbon cars
  • Helping cities and regions put the necessary recharging infrastructure in place
  • Continuing to encourage the uptake of sustainable travel initiatives
  • Investing significantly in public transport
  • Supporting cycling with £140m over three years

Government is also setting an example, it is on course for reducing emissions from central Government offices by over 17% by 2011, exceeding the original target of 12.5%. It aims to save up to £300 million through energy saving measures across the public sector.

We will also shortly publish our ‘2050 Pathways’ work, identifying routes to deliver our 80% reduction target in emissions by 2050, while meeting our energy security goals.

Notes to editors:
1. The UK was the first country in the world to set legally binding carbon budgets, with the first three budgets requiring a 34% cut by 2020.

2. The five-year budgets set the trajectory to the long-term target in the Climate Change Act 2008 to reduce emissions by at least 80% by 2050, relative to 1990 levels.

3. The carbon budgets for the first three periods (2008-2012, 2013-2017 and 2018-2022) were set in law in May 2009, and require reductions of 22%, 28% and 34% respectively. The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, published in July 2009, set out the policies and measures, in all sectors of the economy, through which the budgets will be met.

4. We aim to meet the carbon budgets through domestic action alone outside the EU Emissions Trading System and, consistent with this, have set a zero limit in the non-traded sector on offsetting through international credits for the first budget period.

5. The UK’s carbon budgets will be met through collective action across Government. All departments are involved in delivering the carbon budgets, through formulating policies to reduce emissions and through reducing emissions from the public sector estate and operations.

6. The Department of Energy and Climate Change is central to the UK Government’s leadership on climate change.  We are pushing hard internationally for ambitious effective and fair action to avert the most dangerous impacts.  Through our UK Low Carbon Transition Plan we are giving householders and businesses the incentives and advice they need to cut their emissions, we are enabling the energy sector’s shift to the trinity of renewables, new nuclear and clean coal, and we are stepping up the fight against fuel poverty.


Biofuels provide a painless route to cut transport emissions

Posted by admin on January 21, 2010
Posted under Express 92

Biofuels provide a painless route to cut transport emissions

Of all the energy used in the transportation industry, 98% is still derived from fossil fuels. Immediate reductions of emissions can be achieved through the use of alternative fuel sources such as ethanol and biodiesel blends, without impacting on any food products. The CEO of Biofuels Association of Australia Heather Brodie shrugged of recent claims that ethanol prices will skyrocket when regular unleaded is phased out due to the impending Queensland mandate.

Two announcements from the Biofuels Association of Australia (BAA) in the past week suddenly raised the profile of this normally quiet industry body. So Ken Hickson went along to meet BAA CEO Heather Brodie:

Heather Brodie was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Biofuels Association in October, 2009.  She has worked for more than fifteen years in commercial, business development and marketing roles in mines and energy, transport and logistics.

Most recently she was the GM Business Development & Corporate Affairs for ZeroGen, focusing on the world’s first CCS project at commercial scale, and was active in the establishment of the GCCSI in 2008.  Prior to this Heather was the National Marketing & Communications Manager for the VCVA looking after both Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks during the world-wide changing of diesel emissions legislation and regulations.

Heather has worked in gold, copper and coal mining in Australia, Asia, Africa and the Americas and has worked extensively with numerous government departments, industry associations, scientific bodies, OEMs and international organisations.

Armed with numerous tertiary qualifications, Heather points to her LLB (Hons), majoring in environmental law and sustainable development, as her most significant prize.

Here’s sizeable chunk from her speech to the 2009 BAA’s annual conference:

Biofuels have a terrific potential to efficiently and effectively replace a large percentage of the world’s fuel needs.  We can’t afford to be complacent though.   We need to galvanise investment into the industry and that is going to require a few things.   We must have a clear and well grounded regulatory and legislative environment to allow investment to take place for the long term. 

We must have certainty. We must bring about clear pricing signals and appropriate fiscal initiatives to encourage low carbon solutions.  The choice that companies and consumers make will depend on the convenience and the cost, including the capital costs and operating costs of using biofuels.  For individual consumers this might not be prohibitive, but the cost to the mining, interstate transport and airline sectors may significantly delay their uptake.

The challenge for Australia and for the biofuels industry is to manage the transition between the current environment and higher oil prices under any worldwide advances in emissions trading while at the same time retaining the skills and investment confidence in this sector.  The current support for first generation biofuels is an intermediate step, but an absolutely imperative step, to the establishment of a low carbon economy. 

As oil prices rise, as Australia’s energy security gets worse, as demand exceeds supply, the first generation products will require less support and will be replaced by newer, more advanced technologies and feedstocks. 

But in the meantime, it is absolutely imperative that the first generation market be strongly established in order to build confidence in the industry and to institute a market base from which next generation biofuels can learn and develop. 

And so that greenhouse gas emissions are reduced immediately.

Release from BAA (15 January 2010):

The Biofuels Association of Australia shrugged of recent claims that ethanol prices will skyrocket when regular unleaded is phased out due to the impending Queensland mandate. 

“The issue of pricing of ethanol and the upcoming mandate in Queensland of 5% are simply not going to affect pricing in that way” said Heather Brodie, CEO of the BAA. “Fuels and excise are a Federal Government issue in the main, and are influenced by international pricing, world supply and demand capacities, transport costs, wharfage and the like.”

“The only time that ethanol prices might change will be when the Federal Government’s currently legislated grants scheme changes in July 2011″ said Ms Brodie. “Doing something good for the environment by using biofuels might start to cost more as the Federal excise rate effectively increases over the next five years.”

“At that point in time prices may rise due to the fact that ethanol will cost more for the producer to produce – simple as that. The proof has already been seen in NSW – no price rises have been seen there just by the implementation of their mandate and as an industry we certainly expect the same to occur in Queensland.”

“At the moment transportation is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases and is responsible for more than a quarter of the world’s emissions” Ms Brodie said. “Ninety eight percent of the energy used in the transportation industry still derives from fossil fuels. Immediate reductions of emissions can be achieved through the use of alternative fuel sources such as ethanol and biodiesel blends, without impacting on any food products.”

“Australia has the opportunity to lead the world in the use of biofuels but at the moment we are well behind the mature positions being taken in Europe, America, Asia and Brazil.”

Release from BAA  (13 January 2010):   

The Biofuels Association of Australia today questioned a number of recent articles relating to the pricing of premium and unleaded ethanol blends in the lead up to increasing mandates in NSW and Queensland.

“It seems the general public is still being misled on a number of fronts” said Heather Brodie, CEO of the BAA. “Nearly all Australian-made cars are suitable for E10 fuels, and the vast majority of imported cars are also compatible with E5 or E10 ethanol blended fuels. Cars all over Europe, America, Brazil and Asia have been using blended fuels for decades, so it is a proven product that can go a long way to reducing our carbon emissions.”

Ethanol is an alcohol which is made by fermenting the sugar components of plant materials by using yeast. Ethanol can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually blended with gasoline so as to reduce vehicle emissions of carbon dioxide and particulates.

“We have the states of NSW and Queensland taking a positive step for the environment by introducing mandated ethanol blends at the bowser” Ms Brodie said. “With the price differential between premium unleaded and an ethanol blend we should see more people willing to give it a go. Most cars actually produce more power using an ethanol blend because there is a higher octane rating than petrol.”

“Remember how much we all hated unleaded petrol as compared to super when it first came in? We’re in the same boat now in getting used to a new product. Transportation is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases and is responsible for more than a quarter of the world’s emissions” Ms Brodie said. “Ninety eight percent of the energy used in the transportation industry still derives from fossil fuels. Immediate reductions of emissions can be achieved through the use of alternative fuel sources such as ethanol and biodiesel blends.”

“It’s time we all started recognising that locally produced, environmentally sustainable and economically viable transport fuels will actually be necessary in order to meet petroleum demands in the future. Australia has the opportunity to lead the world in the use of biofuels but at the moment we are well behind the mature positions being taken in Europe, America, Asia and Brazil.”


Aiming for 99.9% Cut in Telecoms Network Power Use by 2015

Posted by admin on January 21, 2010
Posted under Express 92

Aiming for 99.9% Cut in Telecoms Network Power Use by 2015

Bells Labs, where both the laser and the transistor were invented, has launched an international consortium of networking and computing firms called Green Touch, which is committed to developing new power-saving technologies. The initial goal is to cut power use in the global telecoms network by 99.9 per cent by 2015. The University of Melbourne’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES) is a member of the Green Touch consortium.

By Paul Marks for New Scientist(12 January 2010):

The internet and other communications networks could use one-ten-thousandth of the energy that they do today if smarter data-coding techniques were used to move information around. That’s the conclusion of Bell Labs, the research centre in Murray Hill, New Jersey, where both the laser and transistor were invented.

The lab has launched a consortium of networking and computing firms called Green Touch that is committed to developing new power-saving technologies. The initial goal is to cut power use in the global telecoms network by 99.9 per cent by 2015.

At issue, says Gee Rittenhouse, head of research at Bell Labs, is the 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide belched into the atmosphere to power today’s global telephone, internet and cellphone networks.

 ”That’s equivalent to the emissions from 50 million automobiles, or 20 per cent of the cars registered in the US,” he says. The explosion in internet traffic taking place as mobiles go online and video viewing grows, plus future changes such as the arrival of 3D TV, will push those emissions even higher.

Back to basics

One way Bell Labs plans to develop low-power networks is by harnessing the theories of its late alumnus Claude Shannon that underlie all electronic communication, wired or wireless.

Shannon worked out that in a low-power channel, where unwanted “noise” is loud compared with the intended signal, a code can always be devised to extract the messages being transmitted.

Today’s fibre-optic and cellphone networks avoid having to take that approach by using high power levels. “But by using smarter codes we can extract those signals and reconstruct them accurately even in the presence of high noise,” Rittenhouse says.

Other members of the Green Touch consortium include US mobile network AT&T, China Mobile – the world’s largest cellphone operator – European mobile operator Telefonica, hardware manufacturers Samsung and Freescale Semiconductor, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, California, the University of Melbourne, Australia and the French national computing lab INRIA.

Consolidated data

MIT engineer Muriel Médard says she will be looking for ways to bundle together internet data taking similar routes through the network to reduce the traffic on power-hungry trunk routes. “A lot of energy is dissipated in vain,” she says.

At the University of Melbourne, Rod Tucker will focus on the power consumed by broadband modems, phones and cellphones when not in use.

“If you have broadband your modem is probably switched on all the time, consuming a few watts,” he explains. “We’ll be looking at ways to make modems and phones go into a sleep mode when not in use – but from which they can wake up quickly.”

Samsung of South Korea is still firming up its ideas. “But memory and displays in communications systems are areas where we can particularly innovate,” says engineer Young Mo Kim.

It’s not just hardware that will be getting attention – changing user behaviour can also cut power use. For example, by making cellphone battery life indicators more accurate or power-saving settings easier to change, users could be encouraged to use their cellphone batteries more efficiently.

“The user aspects of communications energy-saving will be a clear focus,” says Bell Labs president Jeong Kim.


12 January 2010

The University of Melbourne’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES) today announced its membership in a new research consortium – the Green Touch™ Initiative – which brings together leading Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry players and researchers to fundamentally re-invent the network and reduce ICT energy consumption up to a factor of 1000.

 A team of researchers in IBES is investigating ways to reduce the energy consumption of the internet.  Like researchers in a number of other organisations, IBES has made progress in understanding how network energy consumption can be reduced.

Finding a comprehensive solution to the problem of growing energy consumption in the Internet will require strong collaboration and cooperation between researchers from different backgrounds and from different organizations.

“The Green Touch Initiative provides us with the best opportunity to make real and significant progress on this key research challenge,” said Professor Rod Tucker, Director of the Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society. 

“IBES is delighted to be part of the Green Touch Initiative, and stand with other members of the consortium on the threshold of a new era in information technology and telecommunications.   Outcomes from the Green Touch Initiative will be critical to the future of the entire industry.”

About the Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society

The Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES) is a cross-disciplinary research institute at the University of Melbourne dedicated to technologies products, services, and innovations that maximize the benefit of broadband technologies to society. The Institute’s activities cover a wide range of fields including advanced broadband technologies, energy-efficient networking and cloud computing, online engagement, content creation and delivery, delivery of remote health services and education, business and service transformation, social networking, and entertainment.

About the Green Touch Initiative

Green Touch Initiative, a consortium of leading industry players, research institutions and non-governmental organizations to define the challenge, identify solutions and develop solutions with the goal to deliver the architecture, specifications, roadmap, and demonstrations of key components needed to reduce ICT energy consumption per user by a factor of 1,000 from current levels within five years.

Source: and

Good Guide to Government Green Grants

Posted by admin on January 21, 2010
Posted under Express 92

Good Guide to Government Green Grants

Did you know there is more than $3 billion in federal and state government “green” grants and subsidies available in Australia? You’re not alone. Most companies don’t know they are available or how to access them, according to sustainability consultancy Equilibrium OMG. Now there is a Good Guide to Government Grants.

Release from Equilibrium OMG (14 January 2010):

How to tap into $3 billion in “green” government grants

There is more than $3 billion in federal and state government “green” grants and subsidies available that most companies do not know are available or how to access them, according to sustainability consultancy Equilibrium OMG.

To assist business access these grants and subsidies Equilibrium OMG has produced a comprehensive guide on the grants and general assistance available to business and how to access them.

Equilibrium OMG Managing Director Nicholas Harford said the Guide can help business access assistance for environmental improvement projects.

“Knowing what these grants are, who is eligible and how to apply for them often requires considerable time and resources that many businesses simply do not have,” he said.

“To date small and large businesses have not been able to easily access this information despite the fact that they may have legal and environmental obligations to fulfil.”

The Good Guide to Government Grants – Federal and State Government Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change Assistance for Business and Industry, provides information on $3.3 billion of grants and a range of general assistance in the one convenient reference source, giving details about funding programs, amounts and eligibility.

“Government grants enable a business to adopt new and innovative environmental technology such as water and energy saving devices, which not only results in improved productivity but also has real and practical benefits for the environment,” he said.

“Many businesses are also required to comply with more environmental laws and regulations, so government grants should be employed where appropriate to assist compliance, improve environmental performance and support business development.”

 The Guide is designed to help business make the most of government funding and become more sustainable. 


Wind Blows into the Energy Sector with Massive Jobs Boost

Posted by admin on January 21, 2010
Posted under Express 92


This decade Australia’s wind farm industry expects to increase its employment almost 500% as the national renewable energy target, legislated last year, drives rapid development. Meanwhile Texan oilman and clean energy booster T. Boone Pickens has shelved his massive wind-power project – but he’s still buying 333 wind turbines – as he stepped up his push to increase the use of natural gas for transportation.

Energy Sector feels the wind in its sails

By Keith Orchison in The Australian (16/17 January 2010):

This decade Australia’s wind farm industry expects to increase its employment almost 500 percent as the national renewable energy target, legislated last year, drives rapid development.

The escalation of wind power is one of three “waves of change” in electricity supply predicted by the Australian Energy Market Operator as it seeks to model national high voltage transmission needs.

According to AEMO, the renewable target will drive a 450 percent increase in wind power while the gas generators simultaneously will be entering a golden period that will last longer. The target scheme runs out of puff in 2020 – it has a cap of 45,000 gigawatt hours a year – but gas-fuelled combined cycle plants will become the preferred technology for meeting Australian power demand over the next two decades.  Combined cycle gas turbine baseload generation is predicted to increase nearly ten-fold over two decades.

The AEMO model suggests that it will be around 2024 before the third technology wave makes its mark with large-scale geothermal development and carbon capture and sequestration processes enabling the coal generators to arrest their decline in Australian power supply.

Meanwhile the ball is with the wind developers. Miles George, managing director of Infigen Energy, builders of the first large-scale wind farm in New South Wales, recently told a Senate committee that he expects 800 MW of wind power to be established each year of this decade.

George, whose Capital wind farm near Bungendore is contracted to sell its output to Sydney Water for the desalination plant due to be commissioned this summer, says a “reasonable target” long term for the wind sector would be to meet 15 to 20 percent of national electricity demand.

Meanwhile, the Rudd Government’s RET should drive the wind sector’s employment from 1,600 people today to 7,600 by the end of the decade, according to Clean Energy Council estimates. Overall, the council predicts that the renewable energy industry will increase its employment in Australia from 10,370 people today to more than 24,000 in 2020 on the back of climate change policies.

The CEC says that support for desalination projects – by putting zero-emission power in to the eastern seaboard grid to offset use of fossil fuels – will be an important early factor for the wind industry. Apart from the 141 MW committed by Infigen to support Sydney Water, AGL is developing 524 MW of wind farms at Oaklands Hill and Hallett between now and 2012 for the South Australian water scheme.

Australia now has 49 wind farms carrying 962 turbines with a capacity of 1,668 MW. The CEC says that there are 6,000 MW of wind energy projects proposed across Australia.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics sees an even more optimistic outlook for wind energy. In its latest review of electricity generation, ABARE records 10,672 MW of wind farms undergoing feasibility studies in addition to 734 MW of developments being built.

ABARE has 71 wind farms in its “less advanced projects” category.  Fourteen are proposed for New South Wales, including the giant Silverton project near Broken Hill with a planned capacity of 1,000 MW, and 30 for Victoria. A further 17 are proposed for SA.

Infigen’s George foresees a technology change further boosting Australia’s wind rush. He told the Senate committee on fuel and energy that a typical wind farm turbine today has a capacity of two megawatts and, while 3 MW units are already being brought in to operation, there are 6MW prototypes being tested.  This will enable another substantial decrease in wind power costs.

Keith Orchison, director of consultancy Coolibah Pty Ltd  – - and editor of Powering Australia yearbook, was chief executive of two national energy associations from 1980 to 2003. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the energy industry in 2004. His POWERLINE blog is on

By Keith Johnson in the Wall Street Journal (14 January 2010):

T. Boone Pickens, the oilman and clean-energy booster, shelved his massive wind-power project in Texas even as he stepped up his push to increase the use of natural gas for transportation.

Cheap natural gas, the lack of electricity-transmission lines and the lingering credit crunch have combined to take the shine off large-scale renewable-energy projects, and those factors led Mr. Pickens to halve his $2 billion wind-turbine order with General Electric Co., said a spokesman for Mr. Pickens’s Mesa Power LP.

Mr. Pickens in May 2008 announced plans for the biggest wind farm in the U.S., by amount of installed megawatts, to be located in the Texas panhandle. But Tuesday he said he would cut his order with GE to 333 turbines from 667 machines and use them for wind farms in Canada and Minnesota.

That means the Pampa Wind Farm slated for north Texas—and postponed last summer until at least 2013—won’t happen under current conditions.

“It’s off the table,” Mr. Pickens said Wednesday in a conference call. If Texas makes more investments in transmission lines to carry power from the remote wind farm to towns and cities, he said, “we’ll be back.”

A GE spokesman said the two parties mutually renegotiated the terms of the 2008 deal.

Natural-gas prices have fallen sharply since the summer of 2008, when Mr. Pickens announced the big wind farm and the “Pickens Plan,” which calls for using natural gas to power big rigs, buses and other large vehicles to lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Cheaper natural gas hurts wind farms, because cheaper gas makes gas-fired power plants a more attractive option for electricity generation. “You can’t finance wind farms very well when natural gas is under $6″ per million British thermal units, Mr. Pickens said. Natural-gas futures settled at $5.733 Wednesday afternoon on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The effects of the credit crunch and the economic slowdown also slowed growth in the wider U.S. wind-power industry in 2009, after a record year for wind-power installations in 2008.

But less expensive natural gas, due to a boom in U.S. production over the last two years, has given new impetus to Mr. Pickens’s transport plans. Mr. Pickens announced Wednesday a new national television ad calling on America to “wake up” to the cost of importing oil. He also called on Congress to pass pending legislation that would offer new incentives for greater use of natural gas in the heavy-duty transport fleet.