The Bullroarer - Wednesday 14 November 2007

SMH - CBD to be greener and taller

"The focus on greenhouse and energy efficiency has stepped up a gear in the last 12 months. The biggest sustainability challenge is what we do with our existing building stock ... Once you build the thing, it can be quite expensive to change."

The commercial property industry wants tax breaks to offset the cost of installing water-, energy- and light-efficient fittings in old buildings. "We have said to the Federal Government and the federal Opposition [that] they hold the best levers here. If we can have accelerated depreciation for investment in green-building plant equipment, that would be a powerful tool to drive sustainability."

The president-elect of the NSW Planning Institute of Australia, Julie Bindon, reckons there is a race to build the greenest building in the CBD. "Who is going to have the best-rated building? Who's going to be the first one to go carbon neutral? That's what people are talking about," she says. - Air NZ to hike international fares due to fuel costs

The Australian - Beijing reserves its resources

The Age - Tidal power turbines to generate a salty future for energy

TWO separate accidents — one a mishap and the other, a major project gone awry — are playing major roles in shaping the development of tidal power in South Korea. Korea had planned to be the first nation to trial commercial-sized power generation from ocean currents, with the first of its pilot turbines in place at Uldolmok, in the country's south-west by the second half of this year.

Researchers at the Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute (KORDI) chose the site because it has flows up to 12 knots, believed to be among the fastest in Asia. "The purpose of the power plant is to do some experiments under the most severe conditions," said Yum Ki-dai, president of KORDI.

The experiment was intended to study the structural stability and efficiency of helical turbines, which adjust automatically to the changes in tidal flows. Experiments in the use of such turbines are also under way in Australia, with the Government-backed EnGen Institute testing a unit that may be suitable for use in the Port Phillip Heads, near Point Nepean.

Unlike wind and solar energy, ocean currents are regular, offering the potential to supply base-load electricity. William Hollier, director of Melbourne's EnGen Institute, said while Korea offered a handful of sites suitable for ocean current power generation, Australia had many prospective locations, particularly in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. "There's sufficient energy there to generate enough hydrogen to meet all our transport needs and to generate enough electricity for the entire nation," Mr Hollier said.

The Australian - AGL blamed for June gas shortfall

The Australian - Rising costs hit resources projects

Larvatus Prodeo - Innovative rural energy policy from the Greens

Farming Renewable Energy proposes a three-stage process to help struggling farmers become renewable energy generators, supplementing their income, revitalising their communities with jobs and investment, and keeping regional Australia alive.

The first stage is overlaying maps of climate vulnerability with maps of renewable energy resources and identifying the areas where there is a strong overlap. For solar, in particular, this will be considerable. Once there is an indication of areas, a process of consultation would begin, drawing together the communities with the industry and the three levels of government. This is about identifying specific regions which want to take up the offer, and developing the vital relationships to make it happen.

Finally, Renewable Energy Development Zones would be declared, where large-scale investment would be attracted by the highly streamlined approvals process (because much of the work would already have been done), existing relationships and, importantly, government investment (using funds gathered via emissions trading permit sales) to support skills development and paying for high voltage interconnectors to the main electricity grid where necessary.

Howe Street - New Zealand Goes for the Green

New Zealand legislators are trying to completely ban dirty power plants in the small island nation in less than 20 years. The government is hard at work on a 10-year ban of the construction of any new coal or gas power plants.

The country is hoping to have 90% of the country's power generated by renewable sources by 2025. According to Bloomberg, state-owned power plants in New Zealand are already banned from building gas-fired plants. Soon, a decision will be made on whether to extend this ban to private companies. It's an ambitious plan. And a sign of the worldwide attitude changes on the future of fossil fuels and those pesky carbon emissions.

Of course, a plan like this would seem wacky in the U.S. — or impractical, in the least. After all, New Zealand already gets almost two-thirds of its electricity from wind, hydro and geothermal sources. Here in America, we not only consume more energy, but we produce most of our electricity in dirty coal plants.

If nothing else, the sheer expense — both economical and environmental — of fossil fuels will ultimately force our hand. Laws like those being pondered by New Zealand legislators will slowly make their way across the Pacific. Some are already washing up on the California coast…

The Age - Australia lags in green investment: report

NZ Herald - Transpower's 'bully tactics' outrage landowners

SMH - Imagine traffic taking a breather

"We should celebrate walking. All the great cities of the world are walkable," said Mr Scruby, adding that the retail sector stood to benefit from the extra pedestrian traffic. "What's the most valuable commercial real estate in the city? Pitt Street Mall. Why? Because it's walkable."

Crikey - Nats stick to the script, shameless pork handouts ensue

SMH - Danger zone dispute on road to nowhere fast - Oilseed on the way back

The Age - Vaile in $24m biofuel pledge

A RE-ELECTED Coalition would put $24 million towards expanding the ethanol industry and finding new plant materials from which to make biofuels. The announcement comes a week after the head of one of Australia's biggest biofuel manufacturers shut two plants, accusing the Government of "indifference" to the industry.

The Australian - ExxonMobil LNG plan in PNG rated tops

THE ExxonMobil-led plan for a liquefied natural gas development in Papua New Guinea is the most robust LNG project in the region and is facing the least barriers to success, JPMorgan says. Reporting on proposed LNG developments in and around Australia, JPMorgan yesterday said that not all of the projects racing to supply a tight market will be delivered on time. “We do not see the proposed new Australian LNG capacity coming online by 2015 as planned, given market and resource constraints," JPMorgan analysts reported.

The second phase of Woodside Petroleum’s (ASX: WPL: quote) Pluto project and its Sunrise development in the Timor Sea were both wildcards, JPMorgan said, that could be developed quickly if one major issue is resolved, but could otherwise remain stalled indefinitely. If Woodside’s current exploration program found about 4 trillion cubic feet of gas to feed Pluto 2, then the development could proceed very quickly. Otherwise gas from the Chevron Corp Wheatstone field could be used to drive the project.

JPMorgan said Sunrise is also a high quality project and would proceed quickly if the East Timor Government agrees that the processing plant is located in Australia rather than East Timor. Beyond these projects, JPMorgan said the most likely projects to be developed were Gorgon, Ichtchys and Browse, in that order.

Gorgon, a joint venture between Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, has been facing significant hurdles but is now overcoming some of these after securing environmental approvals. The Ichtchys project is owned by Japan’s Inpex Holdings and France’s Total SA, and JPMorgan said environmental approvals could still be a hurdle for the development. Browse is a joint venture between Woodside, BP, BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP: quote), Chevron and Shell. JPMorgan said it didn’t see Chevron or Shell supporting the development of Browse ahead of the Gorgon project, in which they have larger shares, and that the pair have veto rights over the Browse project.

Santos’ plans for an LNG project at Gladstone in Queensland that is fed by coal seam gas required a joint venture partner with LNG experience and could slip beyond 2015, JPMorgan said.

And BHP and Exxon’s Scarborough project has a good-sized gas resource but the gas is dry and in deep water, which affects project economics, JPMorgan said.

ABC - Robots deployed to measure climate change

Doctor Wijffels says the Argo data also allows Australian scientists to predict droughts, because cooling in the Indian Ocean stifles rainfall on the east coast.

"We know that rainfall in south-eastern Australia is affected by the Indian Ocean, and what we're hoping is that as our seasonal climate forecasting systems get better at exploiting Argo data, get better at incorporating it, that the accuracy of the predictions will go forward and get better," she said.

While weather forecasters have had to use what has happened in the past to predict the intesity of cyclones, Professor Roemmich says data from the Argo program will give a real time prediction of just how bad storms will be.

"We know that when a tropical cyclone rapidly intensifies, its heat source is the upper ocean, and so if we track the temperature structure of the upper ocean, then we know something about the potential of a tropical cyclone to become much stronger," he said.

"For example, people have done retrospective studies of cyclones like Katrina that devastated New Orleans in the US and have shown that it was the cyclone passing over a very warm water in the Gulf of Mexico that led to its very strong intensity."

The Age - People power and power failures - Aussie brewers save water as drought bites

The Australian - BHP's Kloppers denies thermal coal unit sale

Singapore Peak Oil - LNG Will Not Provide Energy Security For Singapore

Peak Energy - Tapping The Source

Peak Energy - Sharing The Joy Of The Green Economy

(Hat Tip Dave B)

I just got this email from Greenpeace:

Right now Greenpeace activists are occupying a coal-fired power plant on the NSW Central Coast to take action to shut it down. The occupation, which began before dawn, is to protest against John Howard and Kevin Rudd's dismal climate change policies.

Again blog readers again are picking up on something that has gone over the pollies heads. Namely what happens when China is rich and powerful and all we have is holes in the ground and a buggered climate.

Last weekend I noted not one, not two but three new mines on a dirt road in W. Tassie, all driven by Chinese demand. If it's good enough for China to have strategic reserves then maybe other countries should as well. West Australia's 10% gas set aside is a start. It could change if proven reserves increase. Having said that I'm not sure how to set the percentage, nor do I fully understand the point of Heinberg's oil depletion protocol, seemingly negative exponential thus tending to vanish. Investment funds also seem to miss the point if the resource is irreplaceable...think Nauru House.

1) export taxes or caps on coal and LNG so the
customer learns to live with less
2) percentage set-asides of proven ore reserves.