The Bullroarer - Monday 7th September 2009

Brisbane Times - CCS: The planet-saver that's still just a pipe dream

CCS projects have a conspicuous history of failure - here and overseas. Put simply, nobody has yet integrated power generation with carbon capture and storage at scale to create clean electricity, anywhere in the world.

And many experts, including from within the energy industry, believe CCS will remain prohibitively expensive and risky compared with known baseload power sources such as nuclear, or renewable sources such as geothermal or concentrating solar thermal which do not leave vast underground stores of carbon dioxide for future generations to worry about.

Peak Energy - Supporting Better Place Australia

Better Place Australia is looking for supporters and is handing out bumper stickers promoting electric vehicles to those who want to take part - "imagine. be part of it.."

Energy Matters - Australian Researchers Help Break Solar Power Conversion Record

Researchers from the University of New South Wales have played the key role in attaining the highest conversion efficiency for solar power, setting a new world record of 43 per cent of sunlight converted into electricity.

Led by Scientia Professor Martin Green, Research Director of the UNSW ARC Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence, the University of New South Wales team with assistance of US groups have demonstrated a multi-cell combination which has set the new benchmark.

The Australian - Unseamly standoff over coal evolution at Newcastle

The increasingly controversial future of the Hunter Valley is inland, beyond even the reaches of the western coalfields. There coal's next generation is defined, as much as anything, by the Hoskisson Seam, a 10 metre strip of coal that runs for 23km at no more than 325m below one of the ridges that fringe the legendary pastoral runs of the Liverpool flood plains.

Hoskisson is one of five of the east-west coal seams that fuel BHP's determination to proceed with the Caroona coal project, about 35km southeast of Gunnedah.

And Caroona is one of two projects that will introduce large-scale underground coalmining to the Gunnedah Basin. The second big exploratory project is called Watermark and was acquired at extraordinary cost ($675 million) last year by the world's second biggest coalminer, Shenhua.

Business Spectator - ACCC probes Caltex-Mobil deal

Business Spectator - Adding fuel to Caltex's fire

It won’t have come as a shock to Caltex that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has some "issues" with its proposed $300 million acquisition of much of Mobil’s retail network.

Anything to do with petrol has historically tended to galvanise the commission and the prospect of further consolidation of the sector was always going to be scrutinised intensely and sceptically. That even Woolworths, Caltex’s largest wholesale customer, appears to have significant reservations about the deal will only have heightened the ACCC’s concerns.

SMH- 'Few checks' made on big projects

ONLY a small proportion of environmental conditions imposed on projects such as the Gorgon gas plant are monitored by authorities, a survey of Australia's biggest companies has found.

Only 24 per cent of respondents said representatives of the federal Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts had checked if they were meeting any environmental conditions after a project was approved. Sixty per cent of the 144 companies which responded to the monitoring question said there was no follow-up while 16 per cent did not know if it had occurred.

GasToday - Cougar raises capital to ignite UCG at Kingaroy

Cougar Energy has raised $8.29 million after the successful completion of a capital raising placement and will largely use the funds to complete the construction and operation of the Kingaroy Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) Project pre-production facility in Queensland.

Mongabay - Oil spill off Australia potential 'disaster' for marine wildlife

Oil is leaking from an offshore drilling rig in the Timor Sea near Australia's Northwest coast. Authorities say it will be weeks before the leak is plugged: they are awaiting the arrival of a drilling rig from Singapore to plug the leak. "This is a potential disaster for turtles, whales, dolphins, sea birds and sea snakes. The oil and gas spill is still not under control and is expected to continue leaking for two months.

Bloomberg - Timor Sea Oil Leak Repair Delayed as Rig’s Tow Ship Loses Power

PTT Exploration & Production Pcl, operator of a project that’s leaking oil and gas off Western Australia, said a rig sent to halt the spill will be delayed by two days after a tow ship lost power.

The West Triton rig is expected to reach the Montara field on Sept. 10, should conditions be favorable, the Bangkok-based company’s Australian unit said in a statement yesterday. The rig was initially expected to arrive at the Timor Sea site tomorrow.

The Age - Call for farmers to adapt dryland practices

n the Murray-Darling, MWH sees the future in various aspects of forestry, using native species, mainly different forms of Mallee eucalypt, for carbon-negative biomass, and even carbon sinks.

Mr Fagan's vision is to plant native vegetation - the Mallee eucalypt - in wind rows that still allow traditional farming, and eventually create a chain of 50 smaller biomass power stations that could be easily integrated into the electricity grid.

Farmers could also look at other product streams, such as eucalyptus oil, from the trees. ''You can take the oil out and still use the wood for biomass,'' he said.

Peak Energy - Mitsubishi, IHI to Join $21 Bln Space Solar Project

Peak Energy - Nuclear decline set to continue, says report

Peak Energy - Matt Simmons On "Oil Spin"

Peak Energy - Iraq aims to increase oil production by up to four times: minister

Peak Energy - Dirty Oil Sands

Peak Energy - Reconnecting with Nature Through Green Architecture

Peak Energy - Eric Giler demonstrates wireless electricity

Four Corners has a report on CCS tonight as well:

(Excerpt of footage of Kevin Rudd speaking at G8 summit)

KEVIN RUDD, PRIME MINISTER: its mission is clear, it's to get large scale carbon capture and storage projects done around the world, not just discussed.

(End of Excerpt)

LIZ JACKSON: But can that as yet unproven technology get us to the G8 target?

LIZ JACKSON (to Howard Herzog): Given the progress what do you rate our chances of getting there as?




Blind Freddy can see that Carbon Capture/Storage is not a goer at any sort of meaningful scale.

So, there is another agenda.One would have to be a fly on the wall during the discussions between the likes of Martin Ferguson and his mates in the resources industry to realize exactly what is going on.

A good account of these sorts of shenanigans is given by Guy Pearse in Issue 33,2009, of Quarterly Essay - "Quarry Vision".

Under this government,and any conceivable government formed by the opposition,we are,quite frankly,STUFFED.

Under this government,and any conceivable government formed by the opposition,we are,quite frankly,STUFFED.

Agreed. My viewpoint is increasingly hardening from one of "we can do it" several years ago, into a "we can do it, but we won/t. :(

Labour has no intention of alienating it's industry mates, and the Coalition couldn't organise a heart attack. The Greens are the only ones with a clue, and they don't have the numbers (even in the event of a Double-Dissolution election).

It could be done but is too expensive. The way it was explained on the TV program was for two separate processes of separating gases. 1) Extracting oxygen from air and 2)separating CO2 from hydrogen. I think separating hydrogen can be done through a palladium 'filter' but getting oxygen out of air would likely be done cryogenically (someone tell me another way?). To power even a 1000MW plant would require massive volumes of gases to be separated continuously.

I don't think it will ever work in practice. It is like El Dorado. Always over the next hill.

Re the "Age" article on planting mallee species for harvesting eucalyptus oil and biomass for fuel-
This has possibilities both on former irrigated land and on the vast area of degraded pasture land.

There are many things that can be done to rehabilitate the latter.The first is to get stock off these areas entirely and deal with the feral goat population.Many of the land owners and lessees will lose whatever livelihood they have and will need to be compensated and assisted to resettle.
When the land has recovered,and this will take many,many years,there may be a possibility of reintroducing livestock at low stocking rates.A better alternative would be controlled harvesting of kangaroos which are adapted to the conditions and cause less damage as long as numbers are controlled.

Anybody who doubts the extent of the damage caused to inland Australia by 200 years of European settlement needs to get out of the suburban trap and travel into the interior with their eyes open.They will need to get out of their comfort zone.

Agree Thirra, theres a critical need for revegetation, but am hesitant about impact on remaining rural human populations and modified landscapes of just closing current farms.
Wouldn't it'd be much better to reskill and even increase the rural workforce, in an ideal world to do reveg, really manage feral animals, stop soil erosion, stabilise watercourses, recreate wetlands, bury charcoal..

Barney Foran (exCSIRO now at Charles Sturt Uni, author of Aus's 1st & i think only natural resource Stocks and Flows study) was in Benalla NE.Vic this evening advocating, amongst other things, reveg with wood>methanol as promising income stream (see Its uneconomic currently but it'd be nice to have funding for rural demonstration projects, say contracting fuel supply for emergency & council vehicles. One for the pre-election wishlist, maybe: Mr Rudd, think of all the ribbon cutting photo ops with blokes in uniforms!

The SMH has an article on Chinese interest in acquiring stakes in Australian uranium mines - Chinese target uranium.

A BEIJING directive to its growing nuclear power industry to step up the acquisition of strategic uranium supplies has led to an agreed $85 million takeover bid for Energy Metals, the main partner in the Northern Territory Bigrlyi uranium deposit.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Chinas top-down autocratic Government allows it a measure of forward planning that can almost never be achieved by Representative Democracy. The Chinese Government is able to undertake long-term strategic planning without concern for the election cycle, while the Governments of the 'advanced' nations of the world are more concerned with making sure they get re-elected in the next few years (in Australia, that means 12 months of post-election laurel-sitting, 12 months of planning for the next election, and a maximum of 12 months of actual governance).

The Chinese Government may be opressive, ultra-conservative, and occasionally brutal, but they're not stupid.

While I prefer New Urbanism, TOD's, public transport and all that "more European than European" town planning stuff, I have to say the "Better Place" electric car business model is the one that seems to take today's technologies and solve the technical problems with an innovative business model.

They sell you the car, but maintain ownership of the battery which does a few things:
* Prevents EV buyers having to replace their $3000 battery every 3 or 4 years
* Offers customers an automated battery swap program which in turn:-
* gives customers a "quick charge" facility (the battery swap) giving them the security to sell electricity back to the grid, helping with 'grid smoothing' and encouraging the rise of intermittent renewable energy sources. EG: Instead of feeling you have to charge ALL the time just in case you suddenly need to make an emergency trip, you can now feel confident selling back to the grid because you've programmed the car not to sell the charge lower than the distance to the local battery swap.

Having said all that, I'm wondering if there are new nano-tech or chemical solutions to the approaching problem of rare earth's getting far "too rare"? It looks like a form of resource nationalism has already hit rare earth's in China.


"As hybrid cars gobble rare metals, shortage looms"

I'm not entirely sure the rare earths are as rare as claimed - there are deposits in the US, Canada and Australia that could be brought online if required (ie. the Chinese limit availability or prices rise further).