The Bullroarer - Tuesday 11 December 2007

NZ Herald - Power company fears tight winter

One of the country's biggest generators is worried about the risk of power shortages next winter. Genesis Energy chief executive Murray Jackson said there appeared to be very little room for mishaps given the projected demand. Peak supply to the North Island could be down as much as 8 per cent next year if a part of the interisland power link stays out of action and a power station at New Plymouth remains closed. National grid operator Transpower yesterday said supply should be "tight but manageable".

NZ Herald - Stewart Island looks at wind and sun

Stewart Island looks set to go greener, with a project that proposes to replace the diesel electricity system with renewable generation from wind, sun and biofuels. Peter Thompson, of the Stewart Island Electrical Supply Authority, said renewable energy was the best possible solution for the island and was in keeping with its natural heritage and native environment. The replacement generation would come from a combination of wind turbines, solar panels and bio fuels, Mr Thompson said. There would not be wind farms as such, but small wind turbines about 10m tall placed around the island and on buildings.

SMH - Consumers will be forced to get smart with energy use - smart meters for all

EVERY household and business in the state will be fitted with "smart meters" that tell people how much greenhouse gas they are using at half-hourly intervals, the State Government announced yesterday. In theory, people with smart meters can calculate how many lumps of coal or turns of a wind turbine it takes to run a load of washing, although the Government was unable yesterday to say when the promised "early roll-out" of the smart electricity meters would take place.

The acting Environment Minister, Nathan Rees, said specific timetable and costing details were yet to be developed. They would be worked out in consultation with industry and the Federal Government, he said. About 150,000 of the 25-centimetre-high electronic boxes, which look like large calculators, are already fitted to homes and businesses around the state, allowing people to use energy more efficiently.

About 83 per cent of people paid either the same or less for power after having them fitted, EnergyAustralia said. The cost of buying and installing the meters has been paid from general funds, meaning all customers have paid for them through energy bills, whether or not they have smart meters.

Electric hot water heaters would also be phased out under the NSW plan. "Again, the timetable and detail of the phasing out of old-style electricity hot water heaters will be worked out in negotiations with industry and the new Federal Government, which also has a commitment in this area," a spokesman for Mr Rees said. "Rebates is definitely one area that will be explored."

egoli - Torrens Energy acquires new geothermal exploration licence at Port Adelaide

Torrens Energy Limited (TEY) has continued its geothermal exploration strategy by acquiring an additional geothermal exploration licence (GEL 293) at Port Adelaide. The company said the prospectivity of the area coincides with the State Governments plans to development of a large scale desalination plant, bringing forward the possibility of direct geothermal desalination.

Chief executive Chris Matthews believes that the Adelaide Plains Region has great potential for Hot Rock geothermal energy. "The area is known for high heat flow, is likely to have the right insulating cover, and has several great advantages including being coastal and located in a relatively underdeveloped area close to a major city", he said.

The geothermal energy company said the successful exploration of the 'GEL' would establish the potential for geothermal "hot-rock" for power generation, which could be incorporated directly into the existing power infrastructure and networks.

SMH - Backing for Adelaide hot rock power plan - PM Helen Clark warns on power of first-world consumers. Roundup of NZ energy and environment news. - Launch Of Sustainable Transport

New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development - Guide to Australian Political Parties Energy and Climate Change Policies. I can't find it on the Clean Energy Council site itself.

Bloomberg - Indonesia Says Planning Climate Policy a `Challenge'

The potential for developing clean-energy in Indonesia is large. The Southeast Asian nation, sitting on the Pacific Ocean's so-called ``Ring of Fire'' zone of active volcanoes, has an estimated geothermal potential of 27,700 megawatts, according to the country's energy ministry. Current installed capacity is 852 megawatts. ``Indonesia has the largest source of geothermal in the world, but the development has been very minimal,'' Sri Mulyani said. ``The incentive is not adequate compared with when we're using fossil fuel.''

Geothermal plants cost about $1.4 million a megawatt to build, 40 percent more than coal-fired generators, said Nasri Sebayang, deputy director of independent power producers at state utility PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara.

The Indonesian government plans to set up 20,000 megawatts of mostly coal-fired plants by 2010 to cut dependence on oil. This may increase emissions from the country, which is already the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the U.S. and China, according to the World Bank.

Developing nations such as Indonesia, which is hosting the UNFCCC meeting in Bali until Dec. 14, are concerned the lack of a financing mechanism will slow economic growth, which is at risk as oil prices surge. Providing subsidies for renewable sources of energy may only widen Indonesia's budget deficit. The government may spend more than 100 trillion rupiah ($10.8 billion) next year to cap fuel and electricity prices in the country, where 37 million people live in poverty, if crude oil prices reach $100 a barrel, Sri Mulyani said.

SMH - Pacific Hydro plans to invest in wind power in Chile and Brazil

SMH - Power ranger Iemma ignites state with $15b

THE historic sale of NSW's power assets will raise as much as $15 billion and help pay for a "new vision" for urban transport, a European-style metro rail line, better country roads and improved water management.

In a coup for the Premier, Morris Iemma, cabinet and caucus voted to sell NSW's state-owned electricity retail companies and lease its power generation companies to the private sector - and use the money to launch big investment in ageing infrastructure. Mr Iemma stared down entrenched opposition in the Labor Party and the trade unions by promising "transfer payments" - worth as much as $40,000 - to all union employees who agreed to have their jobs moved to the private sector.

The sale will help fund the building of the M4 East, from the end of the M4 at Strathfield to near the western end of the Anzac Bridge. It could include a linking tunnel to Sydney Airport and Port Botany. The Premier also indicated that up to $7 billion would be spent on a metro-style subway. Details would be released early in the new year, he said, but it is understood the preferred route is from Malabar and West Ryde, running under congested Anzac Parade and Victoria Road.

SMH - A bribe by another name works wonders

The Australian - $150m fees for bankers tipped from NSW power sale

The Australian - Frenzy over BHP oil sale speculation

BANKING majors including Goldman Sachs, UBS and JP Morgan are sniffing around BHP Billiton, speculating that a merger with Rio Tinto might lead BHP to float or sell off its petroleum assets into a separate $80 billion company. Rio has no petroleum interests and its chief executive Tom Albanese is unimpressed with oil and gas.

Markets are speculating that BHP could combine its Australian petroleum assets with those of Woodside. With BHP's petroleum operations valued at about $50 billion and Woodside's market capitalisation of more than $30 billion, the combined company, at $80 billion, would be among Australia's largest. "The majors are just salivating that this could come off," said one Perth-based analyst who asked not to be named. "It would rank in the top 20 of global oil and gas businesses and give Australia real clout." ...

The next two years should see BHP Billiton benefit from several years of investment in projects coming on stream, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico and the North West Shelf. Even so, industry analysts believe a trade sale of the petroleum division would be difficult, given that most of BHP Billiton Petroleum's assets are in Australia, specifically half of the Bass Strait oil and gas fields and one sixth of the North West Shelf export LNG project, Australia's biggest single resources development.

BHP Billiton is also heavily involved in new oil projects on the North West Shelf which will offset the country's increasing costly dependence on imported oil and refined product. The previous federal government in 2001 blocked Shell gaining control of Woodside on the grounds of national interest. It is thought that with the greater global concern about national energy security that has emerged in the past six years, the new Rudd Labor Government will not favour ownership of these key assets being further diluted overseas.

SMH - Carbon trading scheme achievable by 2010: economist Ross Garnaut

SMH - Kyoto's 10th birthday marred by problems for new climate pact

SMH - War of words on emissions confronts PM Rudd

SMH - Decision on greenhouse targets to wait

THE Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has refused to speed up a decision on Australia's 2020 greenhouse target, despite it being one of the things organisers of international talks in Bali most want an agreement on.

SMH - Greenland ice melting at record rate

The extent of the melt area was 10 per cent greater than the last record year, 2005, the scientists found. Greenland is about the size of Queensland and NSW combined and about 80 per cent of it is covered by the ice sheet. One-twentieth of the world's ice is in Greenland; if it all melted it would be equivalent to a 6.4 metre global sea level rise, the scientists said.

The Australian - Woodside loses in $500m tax appeal

WOODSIDE has lost a Federal Court appeal against a tax office ruling that it is not entitled to claim more than $500 million in hedge loss transactions on the Laminaria/Corallina oil fields in the Timor Sea. The losses were claimed for 2000, 2001 and 2002 when the fields, closer to Timor than Darwin, were collectively Australia's biggest oil producer.

Energy Current - Unimar provides vessels for Maari platform installation. Another oil field offshore Taranaki.

SMH - Talks with rivals for 'alternative scenarios' for Sydney transport smartcards

The Australian - Regulator to take control of energy crises in WA

Solarhome - Energy Matters has cool wind and solar energy Google Map

Random thoughts..

Hot rocks for Adelaide: Rann is handing out the petty cash before saying 'we tried everything' and letting Ron Walker build a nuke.

Smart meters: I have a dumb import-export meter but I've configured my grid use (perhaps illegally) to limit certain appliances eg the small HWS can't use more than 1 kwh per day.

Prof Garnaut: I'm disappointed he buys the Price Waterhouse line because I'm sure meaningful coal cuts will erode GDP (as will lack of petrol). I'd like an early hint of his approach to grandfathering and cheap offsets in carbon trading.

Hi Boof - maybe you should change your handle to "First commenter".

SA could still do a lot more with wind, wave and solar before Rann should be allowed to get away with a nuke. Any news on that company that was looking at some wave power locations over there ?

The good things about smart meters are (1) just letting you know how much energy you are using and watching what happens when you switch stuff off, and (2) setting the scene for dynamic pricing and demand management. Both great ways of increasing our efficiency of use and reducing waste.

Trying to
a) break the ice
b) steer the debate

My SA informants help me on Olympic Dam and Cooper Basin. I heard their powerco (ETSA) changed their mind on remote control of ACs. I've heard nothing about wave power.

I'm not complaining - I'm glad you lead off the comments each night - hopefully more people get into it over time.

While I realise that NZ doesn't exactly have the answer to all the issues, there certainly does seem to be the perception that cutting carbon is actually possible- the moratorium on new fossil plants was a pretty strong step in that direction.

Without nukes, I don't think Aussie has a hope in hell, there are just too many entrenched interests in coal and business as usual. A solar breakthrough would be great, but unlikely. 30 years of intensive research and they are still expensive and toxic to manufacture.

Speaking of nukes, is there any support in urban australia for them? Was that the downfall of Howard (or was it the screw-the-workers bill?)

Support for nuclear power plants in Australia is non-existant.

Even mining uranium is dodgy territory with the voters.

Have you checked out what the solar industry has been up to over the past 30 years ?

CSP plants up to gigawatt size are being planned - see what Vinod Khosla is doing with Ausra for example...

Ditto for thin film - once the presses at Nanosolar and the like start rolling you'll see the beginning of a revolution in the building industry.

Unfortunately none of these have any political muscle locally - we'll be a laggard ditching coal...

I agree the public doesn't want nukes but they also want plasma TVs and aircon. Within a decade they will probably also want electric charging for cars. If the various forms of solar don't step up within that decade then maybe the public will decide nukes aren't so bad after all. Squeaky clean energy has got just a few years to prove itself.