Renewable energy

Germany grabs renewable lead as Australia drops back

By Finn Peacock

 

In 2009, Germany sprinted past the European Union's 12 per cent Renewable Energy Target three years ahead of schedule.

 

Germany's response? Raise the bar.

 

Europe's biggest economy is now aiming for 35 per cent of energy to be derived from renewable sources by 2020, 50 per cent by 2030, 65 per cent by 2040 and 80 per cent by 2050.

Moore plan would foster fracking, say advocates

by Ben Cubby

ENVIRONMENT groups have attacked the trigeneration energy plan of the lord mayor, Clover Moore, saying it would entrench coal seam gas and stifle wind and solar power.

The City of Sydney council plans to slash the city's greenhouse gas emissions to 70 per cent below 2006 levels over the next 17 years, mainly by building a network of miniature gas-fired power plants around the inner city.

City of Sydney's Trigeneration Power Network Plan

THE City of Sydney plans to spend almost $5 billion building and operating a series of trigeneration power networks in the CBD and nearby suburbs.

by Christine Forster

This project will eventually involve digging up parts of the city centre, causing inestimable disruption and economic loss to the million people who live, work and visit here each day, and delivering only questionable environmental outcomes.

The council "trigen" project involves the development of 60mW of power capacity at four precincts in Green Square, Town Hall, Martin Place/George St and Pyrmont/Broadway. Ultimately, Council envisages installing 477mW of trigen capacity.

In Australia, Wind Power Is Already Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels, And Solar Is Right Behind

According to the latest research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, electricity from wind power can now be supplied more cheaply in Australia than power from either coal or natural gas — and solar and other forms of renewable energy aren’t far behind.

Can we halve the cost of solar thermal by 2020?

Solar thermal energy will halve in cost by 2020, the new director of CSIRO’s Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative said today.

Solar thermal energy uses the concentrated heat of the sun to create steam, which turns a turbine and creates a clean, renewable power source.

However, it remains expensive compared to other forms of energy due to fossil fuel subsidies and the limited operator hours of solar thermal energy power plants.

The CSIRO’s $87 million Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI), which brings together the country’s top researchers in the field, aims to make solar thermal energy cheaper by developing new, more efficient technology and finding ways to reduce capital costs.

Solar Augmentation Project at Liddell Power Station

 

Novatec’s solar boiler recently commenced operations at the Liddell Power Station in New South Wales, and in doing so, demonstrated that existing energy infrastructure can work with clean energy technology to significantly reduce carbon emissions from power generation.

Solar Funding Evokes Mixed Reactions

$83.5 million for solar research funding as part of the United States- Australia Solar Energy Collaboration (USASEC) was announced by Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson on Thursday.
 
$33 million will go to the US-Australia Institute for Advanced Photovoltaics led by the University of New South Wales. $35 million will be provided to the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative, led by CSIRO.
  
$15.5 million has been allocated to collaborative research projects under the Open Funding Round of the USASEC.
  
"Today's funding commitment supports the collaborative efforts being made by our governments to drive innovation, build research and technical capacity, and provide pathways to solar commercialisation," Minister Ferguson said. 

High praise for Port Augusta solar hub plan at Civic Trust's annual Awards and Brickbats

A PLAN to transform Port Augusta into a green energy hub has been lauded at the Civic Trust's annual Awards and Brickbats ceremony.

However, the State Government's axing of heritage advisory services in its May Budget is the stand-out among this year's brickbats.

The Civic Trust a public think tank that engages in social and environmental discussion said state heritage assets would suffer from longer response times, reduced access to advice for owners, a rise in inappropriate works and degradation of heritage significance.

"The decision to cease State Heritage Advisory Services disadvantages state heritage owners, puts additional pressure on local government and is likely to lead to a long-term devaluation of the state's history," said trust chairman Darian Hiles.

A blueprint to replace Alinta Energy's emissions-intensive Northern and Playford B brown coal power plants with renewable energy infrastructure was the inaugural winner of the opportunities category, endorsed as the state's most promising project.

It also took out the people's choice award. 

Mr Hiles said the benefits of the project, including the construction of six solar thermal plants and 95 wind turbines, would be wide-ranging. "It would create 1800 jobs, alleviate the health impacts of coal, save five million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year and provide stable electricity prices and energy security," he said.

"Unfortunately the Government has decided not to proceed with the subsidy that was anticipated, which appears to be very short-sighted and needs to be redressed."

Alinta had carried out initial studies on building a solar thermal plant at Port Augusta but a September decision by the Federal Government to scrap plans to buy out the Playford B station has made the project financially challenging.

The company is seeking $65 million from the Federal Government towards the expected $200 million cost of building a 40-50 megawatt solar thermal plant.

Alinta chief executive Jeff Dimery will appear before a State Parliament select committee this month to talk about the proposal. In other Civic Trust awards, the Colonel William Light Award for excellence in urban design was awarded to the Anglican Parish of Glenelg extension.

Transition towns in a post carbon world

As the USA faces a “Frankenstorm” following a record breaking drought, we look at the ideas and people  preparing a transition from the age of Carbon to the age of Zero Emissions. BZE radio, unlike the mainstream media, not only connects the dots but offers climate solutions.

Richard Heinberg, author of "The End of Growth" and “Powerdown” speaks with Vivien Langford from Beyond Zero Radio at his hotel in Sydney. Richard was visiting Australia on a speaking tour and spoke at the Festival of Dangerous ideas. Thanks to Peter Dowson for filming this interview (click YouTube video above).

Transition Towns is a global movement building resilient, sustainable, vibrant and happy communities. It is a community based response to the future challenges of climate change and peak oil. For more information on Transition Towns, go to www.transitionnetwork.org.

Lancer Lieber and Peter Dowson of Transitions Bondi talk  to Vivien about getting our food from local sources including urban gardens. They are helping groups of Bondi people install solar panels at a manageable price. We talk about understanding how to get the most help from  local councillors who are committed to lowering our carbon footprint. They are inspired by the Transition Towns Movement which is preparing people to be resilient and live sustainably as climate change affects all our lives.

Renewables: Australia's a land of plenty

By Peter Hannam

When feisty UN climate change chief Christiana Figueres swept into Sydney this week, she mocked suggestions Australia is alone in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

“Nothing could be further from reality,” Ms Figueres told the Lowy Institute.

Rather than excoriate the government for holding out on signing up for the second round of the Kyoto Protocol to set emission targets, the diminutive diplomat instead stressed how the country was “blessed” with renewable energy resources the envy of much of the world.

While many nations were keen to tap such resources in order to improve health and lower carbon emissions, the real appeal, she said, was economic: “None of them is trying to save the planet. They're doing it because it's in their national interest and that's the most important motivator.”

But for national interest to be rightly understood — and acted upon — it helps if the population is aware of what's possible.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the body charged with running the nation's energy supply, has modelled the feasibility of switching to 100 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2030 and 2050. This week, AEMO buried its findings in its monthly Energy Update.

The national electricity market is now about 200 terawatt-hours (or 200 million megawatt-hours), a total the AEMO modelling found within reach, and then some:

“The study shows there is potential to produce around 500 times that [total] if all possible sources of renewable energy available across eastern and south eastern Australia were tapped into.”

The huge multiple was derived even with conservative assumptions, such as excluding any land with a greater than 1 per cent slope from consideration for solar power, national parks and local planning rules which have tightened restrictions on wind farms in states such as Victoria. Much of South Australia and Queensland were also omitted from the study's range.

World insolation map from http://www.oynot.com/solar-insolation-map.html

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