The Bullroarer - Friday 12th December 2008

Radio NZ - Production of power from coal gas considered

The use of gas from coalfields to commercially produce power is a step closer, after a successful pilot project in Waikato.

The Age - Ways and means don't necessarily mean new roads

In the planning frenzy, a few things have been forgotten:

¦ More roads produce more pollution and more congestion (contrary to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's environmental policies).


¦ Rail freight transport is three times more economic than truck freight and produces only a third of the pollution and emissions (a rubber tyre on a road creates seven times the friction of a steel wheel on rail).

¦ World oil supplies, according to the International Energy Agency, are running down at the rate of 9% a year.

The Age - Fuel blamed for Qantas fare rise

Qantas will raise domestic and international airfares by as much as 3.5 per cent early next month to offset the soaring cost of jet fuel prices.

Wall St Journal - Slowdown In China Gets Worse, Increasing Global Woes
Not strictly speaking an Australian story, but we will sure feel the effects:

China is the third-largest export market for the U.S., and has been a major buyer of commodities. But its imports of iron ore fell 7.9% in November. Crude oil imports were down 1.8% to their lowest level this year, contributing to weakening global oil demand.

"The most striking real economic fact of the past several months is not continued U.S. economic weakness, but that China's economy has slowed much more quickly than anyone had forecast," Australia's central bank Governor Glenn Stevens said this week.

Herald Sun - Public transport fares to rise by 5 per cent in 2009

Some commuters will have to find more than another $100 a year.

Courier Mail - Seeds of doubt over energy solution growing on trees

DOUBTS have emerged over a bold green initiative to fuel Brisbane's bus and ferry fleet with biodiesel made from the seeds of a common roadside tree.

Brisbane City Council's sustainability chairman Peter Matic boasted this week that "council has an estimated 20,000 pongamia trees across the city, which might hold the key to Brisbane's future fuel requirements".

Energy Matters - Shadow Over Solar Legislation In Australia

As Australia moves towards becoming a solar nation, a local renewable energy firm has identified a gaping hole in current legislation.

Energy Matters, a leading supplier of solar power equipment and installation services in Australia, identified the gap from a report on a legal battle currently occurring in the USA. A solar power system owner in California is taking action against a neighbour for blocking sunlight from falling on his solar array after the neighbour planted mature date palms.

ABC - Two-tiered emissions strategy likely

The Federal Government appears set to adopt a two-tiered strategy on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, leaving open the option of a 25 per cent reduction by 2020 if the world agrees to a tough climate change agreement next year.

The Government is being lobbied by several international players to stick to an ambitious 2020 target, and the Australian Greens want a stronger approach.

WA Today - Pipeline plan 'will do nothing for WA'
Echoing Big Gav's comments from yesterdays Bullroarer:

Premier Colin Barnett's renewed call for a trans-Australia gas pipeline has been slammed as a "grandiose plan" that will do nothing to secure WA's energy future.

NZ Herald - Govt gives definite yes to ETS

New Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee said unequivocally yesterday National would introduce an emissions trading scheme - the same day Parliament signed off a planned select committee review of such a scheme.

TV NZ - FACTBOX - Biofuels, NZ and abroad

- Biofuel is solid, liquid or gaseous fuel derived from recently dead plant and vegetable matter - as opposed to fossil fuels like oil and coal, which are formed from ancient biological material.

I get a wry smile from the thought of Brisbane having a nut-fuelled public transport system...

But this is not enough to assuage the shock of reading about where NSW's Federal Infrastructure grants are going to go...

NSW big winner in $4.7b spend

...Of the $4.7 billion, NSW will receive about $1.5 billion for road, rail and education projects, the largest of which will be an upgrade to the rail networks in the Hunter Valley.

Rail capacity to move coal and other commodities through the Hunter Valley will be doubled through six projects, with the aim of increasing coal to the port of Newcastle from 97 million tonnes a year to 200 million tonnes.

The upgrade would cost about $1 billion...

So our billion dollars of taxpayer money is going into allowing an extra 100 million tonnes of coal to be burnt per year. That's about 300 million tonnes of CO2, which is more than *double* the 25% CO2 reduction that the KRudd government has just announced for after 2020.

Gee, lucky that the extra coal doesn't represent "our" CO2...

Yes, we are "big winners". I predict lots of "job creation" in the frantic construction of dykes once the sea starts coming up.

Half a billion to upgrade the Hunter coal rail system is absurd. Add this to the 4 billion dollars Rudd is giving to the coal industry as part of the compensation for the GHG reduction strategy and coal's future is assured - the rest of Australia, notsomuch.

FYI - I figure it is costing about $2.4m to produce a MW of wind powered electricty these days. $4.5b could have produced 1800 MW of wind power. A drop in the ocean considering coal-fired power stations produce roughly 30,000 MW of our power but at least it would be a step in the right direction.

I get a wry smile from the thought of Brisbane having a nut-fuelled public transport system...

Well, they already run it... ;)