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Monday, 24 September 2012

BREE forecasts $189 billion and then some

The Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) has published its quarterly forecasting of the country’s resources and energy commodity export earnings for the 2012-13 year, which are now tipped to be in excess of $189 billion.

The Resources and Energy Quarterly September Quarter report shows increases across the majority of major minerals and energy commodities, with the largest increases in volumes projected for LNG (21 per cent), thermal coal (14 per cent) and metallurgical coal (12 per cent).

"The latest forecasts of volumes and prices show two distinct trends. First, the prices of many resources have moderated from historic highs in 2011 and further declines are expected over the medium term in US$ terms relative to these peaks. Second, Australian export volumes, especially in terms of bulk commodities, are growing rapidly and are expected to do so for several years to come" said Professor Quentin Grafton, BREE's Executive Director and Chief Economist.

Growth in exports volumes of iron ore are also forecast to remain robust, increasing by 8 per cent to over 500 million tonnes in 2012–13.

According to the report, the robust growth in LNG exports in the coming year reflects the start up of major projects, such as the Pluto LNG project, which will increase the country’s LNG capacity from around 20 million tonnes to over 24 million tonnes.

"This forecast, as emphasised in the macroeconomic outlook, is based on assumed improvements in world, OECD and Chinese economic growth in 2013 and the assumption that the Australian dollar will remain close to parity with the US dollar in 2013" said Professor Grafton.

The full report can be found here

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Energy market Reforms Argued

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) has argued that energy market reform is crucial to keeping power prices down.

In its submission to the Senate Select Committee on Electricity Prices, the CEC has argued that rules that underpin how the electricity industry delivers power to consumers do not reflect the need of consumers or the changing needs of the energy system.

“Australia, along with many other developed countries, is experiencing significant electricity price increases, with very real consequences for vulnerable households and businesses,” said CEC Chief Executive David Green.

“It’s great news that the cost of moving to a more equitable and cleaner future for Australia is set to fall to less than 4 per cent of bills by 2020. Getting the framework right to ensure network costs do not reach the forecast 55 per cent of an Australian household energy bill is now essential,” said Mr Green.

The CEC has also argued that the National Electricity Objective does not adequately represent the needs of electricity bill-payers, long-economic factors of the need for environmentally sustainable development.

Reform of the National Electricity Objective will allow the long-term interests of consumers to have far greater weight with regulatory decision makers,” Mr Green said.

“Now we need to get on with the job of making real changes to Australia’s energy market that will deliver actual benefits to consumers in the form of more money in their pockets.”

The CEC’s submission to the Senate Select Committee on Electricity Prices is available online at

Brought to you by.. Green Energy WA

Monday, 17 September 2012

WA In The News

Scientists have for the first time identified a number of WA sites capable of producing large quantities of commercial biofuel from microalgae.

They say the best sites for big-scale algal biofuel plants include stretches of land south of Geraldton, south-east of Exmouth and large areas near Karratha and Port Hedland.

Professor Michael Borowitzka from Murdoch University’s Algae Research and Development Centre and Assistant Professor Bryan Boruff from the School of Earth and Environment at The University of Western Australia used Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology to study more than 2250km of WA coastline from Lancelin to Broome and 170km inland.

Their report, Identification of the Optimum Sites for Industrial-scale Microalgae Biofuel Production in WA using a GIS Model, was prepared for the WA Government-funded Centre for Research into Energy for Sustainable Transport (CREST) and is the first WA-wide study of its kind.

Professor Borowitzka, a leading world authority on algal biofuel production, said WA had several key advantages for suitable sites: abundant sunshine, extensive land unsuitable for agriculture and plenty of water in the Indian Ocean.

“But not all of WA is ideal for such plants, so we examined sites scientifically by assessing land suitability, access to infrastructure and workforce, carbon dioxide availability − along with nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus − and climate,” Professor Borowitzka said.

Assistant Professor Boruff added: “Commercial success depends on economically viable, large-scale production, which is why this study is so important.”

Professor Borowitzka said more research and development was needed to find the most energy-efficient and economically feasible way to extract and convert algal biomass into renewable bioenergy.

Limited world fossil fuel resources and an ever-increasing global demand for energy have prompted substantial interest in renewable biofuels. Professor Borowitzka has been at the forefront of research into producing biofuels from algae.

Algal biofuels − especially liquid fuels produced from algae oils − are seen as an important component of a future clean biofuels mix, he said.

Its fast growth rate and high oil content appears to make microalgae particularly well-suited to renewable biodiesel production and offers an attractive sustainable alternative source to other compounds such as carotenoids, polyunsaturated fatty acids and polysaccharides.

WA already has the world’s biggest commercial microalgae production plant at Hutt Lagoon, north of Geraldton.

US biofuel producer Aurora Algae and Australian biofuel start-up company Muradel Pty Ltd − a joint venture between Murdoch University, Adelaide Research and Innovation Pty Ltd and SQC Pty Ltd − have also built pilot plants in Karratha.

Cheap Brands Under Fire

A new national framework to set common standards and energy efficiency ratings on appliances, machinery and other materials will come into effect on 1 October, following the passage of legislation through Federal Parliament.

The Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (GEMS) legislation will deliver consistent information and energy standards to consumers by combining all state and territory regulations into one framework, overseen by a single national regulator. The same standards will be adopted in New Zealand.

Mark Dreyfus, Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency said GEMS will provide a more comprehensive program covering gas, electricity and other types of energy, as well creating a legal basis to potentially cover products that can reduce energy consumption such as glazing for windows and insulation.

“GEMS also ensures the worst performing appliances can't be sold in Australia," he said.

The GEMS legislation has received support from industry associations, including the Australian Industry Group (AIG), Consumer Electronics Suppliers Association (CESA) and Airconditioning and Refrigeration Equipment Manufacturers Association of Australia (AREMA).

Further detail on GEMS is available at

Monday, 10 September 2012

NSW Renewable Energy Action Plan

The NSW Government has released its draft Renewable Energy Action Plan for public comment.

The draft Renewable Energy Action Plan outlines 28 actions to help NSW meet the Government’s target of 20% renewable energy by 2020, steer investment to NSW and build on the State’s expertise in renewable technology.

The draft plan, prepared with assistance from the joint industry-government Renewable Energy Taskforce chaired by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O’Kane, sets out the opportunities and actions underway for each of the renewable energy technologies in NSW.

It identifies wind energy as “one of the most commercially ready and cost effective technologies that can be deployed on a large-scale”, predicting that wind energy will deliver the bulk of new renewable generation up to 2020.

The Plan also details new proposals to most efficiently grow renewable energy generation in NSW, with new actions that aim to:
  • Attract renewable energy investment and projects
  • Build community support for renewable energy
  • Attract and grow expertise in renewable energy technology
  • Contain costs for energy customers through increased energy efficiency.

The plan is available here. Comments are due by 26 October.

Thanks to for this update

Thursday, 6 September 2012

8MW deal for Canadian Solar

Canadian Solar has supplied more than 8MW of solar modules to groSolar for three utility and commercial photovoltaic projects in the United States.

All three projects use Canadian Solar’s CS6p module. The largest project is a 6MW plant currently under construction in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Once completed, it will be the largest solar installation in the state, supplying around 7.5mn kilowatt hours of energy annually under a 15-year power purchase agreement.
The two other groSolar projects have already been completed: a 1.8MW solar project at Camden County Municipal Utility Authority’s (CCMUA) wastewater treatment plant in Camden, New Jersey, and a 1.5MW installation at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. groSolar serves the 1-20MW commercial and utility markets with complete EPC, financing, and development support.

Don't forget you can buy the latest from Canadian Solar At Green Energy WA. Your solar hot water and solar energy centre in Perth WA

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Who is Alex? The Solar Wave Glider

Alex is one of about 100 Wave Gliders built so far by the company Liquid Robotics. Solar panels on the top of the Wave Glider provide renewable energy to power its data collection equipment, which includes a standard weather station as well as a thermistor chain for measuring below-surface water temperatures up to seven meters deep (thermistor refers to an electrical device for sensing temperature).
Without the need for refueling or resupply, the Wave Glider can remain in continuous action for months at a time.
Solar power is just one part of the secret to the Wave Glider’s mobility. Its platform basically consists of two parts connected in a type of hinge, which enables it to harvest the energy from ocean waves and convert it into forward thrust.

Many Jobs for a Green Robot

Saving human life through more accurate storm and tsunami prediction is just part of the Wave Glider’s job. Earlier this month, CleanTechnica described the launch of Stanford University’s Wave Glider, which will integrate with a network of stationary buoys to improve ocean health monitoring.
Tracking fish populations, monitoring individual sea creatures and collecting data on unusual events such as algae and phytoplankton blooms are a few of the jobs under way for the Wave Glider.
As for durability, Wave Gliders have already encountered and survived hurricane conditions during a Pacific Ocean crossing this summer, which Liquid Robotics is chronicling on its PacX blog, so weathering a bit of bluster from our friend Rush should be a piece of cake.

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Clean Technica (

Solar-Powered Robot Tracks Hurricane Isaac

A solar-powered, wave-hopping robot named Alex was launched into the ocean by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) earlier this month to help improve hurricane tracking, and the boogie-board-sized craft has already had its first taste of action. It has been busily collecting ocean data on the fringes of Hurricane Isaac’s path north of Puerto Rico, and sooner or later this season it may find itself smack in the middle of a hurricane. As if that’s not a big enough job, Alex could also find itself in the crosshairs of Rush Limbaugh’s next rant about “weather dolts” at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center.

Wave Glider solar powered robot

Mobile Robots Improve Hurricane Tracking

According to a recent article by Tekla Perry for IEEE, one key goal is to gain a better understanding of the factors that propel a tropical storm into hurricane status, and from one category of intensity to another.
Water temperature plays a critical role in this progression, but data from satellites, manned ships, airplanes, and moored buoys are providing an incomplete picture. Alex is able to measure ocean temperatures below the surface, and as a simply designed and unmanned craft, it can brave conditions that would be far too risky for a human or a more complicated device.

Clean Technica (

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