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Archive for September 14th, 2007

Australian Ministerial Council developing rules for Uptake of Renewable and Distributed Generation and Embedded Generation

Posted by gmarkets on 14 September, 2007

The NERA Economic Consulting (NERA) and Allen Consulting Group (ACG) paper (NERA/ACG) would be used as the basis to develop the national arrangements for electricity distribution network planning, connection and connection charge arrangements, according to the Ministerial Council on Energy Standing Committee of Officials. High level report considered: “This consultancy builds upon and complements other current and previous MCE and industry work streams,” the committee said. “The May 2005 NERA / Gilbert + Tobin report Public Consultation on a National Framework for Energy Distribution and Retail Regulation set out a ‘best practice’ approach to the regulation of energy distribution and retailing, including network expansion and connection and capital contributions. The report provided high level consideration of the national framework for distribution and retailing, having regard to the arrangements that existed in jurisdictions. Aspects of that report’s recommendations have been considered by NERA/ACG in providing advice on a national framework for electricity distribution network planning and connection arrangements.”

Renewable and Distributed Generation Working Group (RDGWG): “Work completed under the RDGWG initially focused on increasing clarity and consistency between the different jurisdictional regimes,” said the committee. “This work included the development of a discussion paper on impediments to the uptake of renewable and distributed generation and a draft Code of Practice for Embedded Generation (CoPEG) prepared for the Utility Regulators Forum (URF). Submissions to these papers were reviewed by CRA International.” The final CRA report titled Impediments to the Uptake of Renewable and Distributed Generation was attached to the committee’s report.

Distribution and retailing functions to be transferred: “Under the Energy Market Reform work program, the MCE has committed to transferring distribution and retailing functions to the national framework, the report continued. “These functions will be transferred in two packages:

• Package 1: transfer economic regulation of distribution electricity networks to the national framework; and

• Package 2: transfer non-economic distribution and retail regulation to the national framework.

As part of this commitment, the MCE is developing the initial national rules for these packages. Therefore, rather than reviewing the jurisdictional regimes to remove impediments to the uptake of renewable and distributed generation (DG) and demand side response (DSR), the initial electricity distribution revenue and pricing rules (part of the economic legislative package) and the NERA/ACG report consider removing the impediments to the uptake of DG and DSR from the perspective of the new rules being developed.”

Network losses and other issues debated: “The April 2007 NERA report Distribution Rules Review – Network Incentives for Demand Side Response and Distributed Generation provided a review of the proposed electricity distribution revenue and pricing rules, with the aim of removing impediments to the uptake of DSR and DG,” the committee noted. “The report raised several issues requiring further work including the treatment of network losses. In EMR Bulletin 95, SCO responded to the NERA report titled Distribution Rules Review – Network Incentives for Demand Side Response and Distributed Generation. Recommendations from that report which are relevant to the electricity distribution revenue and pricing electricity rules will be included as part of the economic legislative package. Recommendations or outstanding issues from that report which are relevant to the network planning and connection work stream have been considered further and addressed in the NERA/ACG paper.”

National Framework for Distribution and Retail Regulation: “In June 2007, the Retail Policy Working Group (RPWG) released the Allens Arthur Robinson (AAR) Composite Consultation Paper on options for the major components of distribution and retail regulation (items 6 to 15 of Annexure 2 of the Amended AEMA). The Composite Paper consolidates five earlier Working Papers, the second of which addressed distributor obligations to provide connection services and the interface with retailers and embedded generators. Stakeholders are invited to make submissions on recommendations presented in the NERA/ACG report by Friday 28 September 2007,” said the committee.

Reference: The Ministerial Council on Energy Standing Committee of Officials, INTRODUCTORY NOTE, National Frameworks for Electricity Distribution Networks, Network Planning and Connection Arrangements – August 2007.

Posted in Australia, Energy, Policy | Leave a Comment »

APEC not the main game: real deal is United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change, which next meets in Bali in December

Posted by gmarkets on 14 September, 2007

A Phillipines President Gloria Arroyo welcomed climate change discussions at APEC but said the key forum for final negotiations remained the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change, which next meets in Bali in December. Australian officials had drafted am APEC flexible deal that stopped short of setting long-term goals for emissions reductions, accommodating the concerns of developing APEC countries, reported The Australian (6/9/2007, p. 1). Draft rewritten: Instead, they wanted to put energy efficiency, which involved reducing fuel use to cut greenhouse emissions, as the centrepiece of prime minister John Howard’s APEC climate change initiative. The draft text on Howard’s Sydney Declaration on climate change, which was being debated by officials, had been significantly rewritten since an earlier version was leaked by Greenpeace two weeks ago.

The Australian, 6/9/2007, p. 1

Posted in ACT, Global, Policy | Leave a Comment »

Asian Brown Cloud blamed for warming in the Himalayas

Posted by gmarkets on 14 September, 2007

In a study released by the British journal Nature, the investigators said the so-called Asian Brown Cloud was as much to blame as greenhouse gases for the warming observed in the Himalayas over the past half century, reported The Canberra Times (2/8/2007, p.3).

Glaciers melt now, but droughts loom later: Rapid melting among the 46,000 glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau, the third-largest ice mass on the planet, was already causing downstream flooding. But long-term worries focus more on the danger of drought, as the glaciers shrink. The report triggered an appeal from UN Environment Program chief Achim Steiner, who urged the international community “to ever greater action” on tackling climate change.

UAVs monitor Cloud from above: Researchers led by Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, used an innovative technique to explore the Asian Brown Cloud. The plume sprawls across South Asia, parts of Southeast Asia and the northern Indian Ocean. It spews from tailpipes, factory chimneys and power plants, forests or fields that were being burned for agriculture, and wood and dung which are burned for fuel. Professor Ramanathan’s team used three unmanned aircraft fitted with 15 instruments to monitor temperature, clouds, humidity and aerosols. The remote-controlled craft carried out 18 missions in March 2006, flying in a vertical stack over the Indian Ocean. The planes flew simultaneously through the Brown Cloud at heights of 500m, 1500m and 3000m.

Cloud exacerbates solar heating, melts mountain ice: They discovered that the cloud boosted the effect of solar heating on the air around it by nearly 50 per cent because its particles are soot, which is black and thus absorbs sunlight. The simulation estimated that, since 1950, South Asia’s atmosphere has warmed by 0.25C per decade at altitudes ranging from 2000m to 5000m above sea level – the height where thousands of Himalayan glaciers are located. As much as half of this warming could be attributed to the effects of brown clouds, Professor Ramanathan said.

Biomass burning produces Cloud: Roughly 60 per cent of the soot in South Asia comes from biofuel cooking and biomass burning, which could be eased by helping the rural poor get bottled gas or solar cookers, he said.

Posted in Asia, Australia, Fire, Forest, Smoke, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Returning tropical farmland to forest would save about 175 tonnes per hectare

Posted by gmarkets on 14 September, 2007

British researchers had calculated how much in carbon emissions would be saved per hectare of land by 2030 if that land grew a range of biofuel crops, such as sugar cane for ethanol production and canola for diesel production, reported The Mercury (8/9/2007, p. M7).

Forest creates greater savings than plantations do: In all cases, they found that planting crops for biofuel would save carbon emissions, with sugar cane giving the biggest saving (about 60 tonnes of carbon per hectare) and canola the smallest (about 20 tonnes), the nespaper reported. The researchers addressed the question of what the carbon savings would be if, instead of planting biofuel crops, the land was returned to true forest, that is, not a plantation. Returning tropical farmland to forest would save about 175 tonnes per hectare, the study found; and returning temperate farmland (as in Tasmania) to forest would save about 100 tonnes.

Net release of carbon: In some countries, forest is actively being cleared to plant biofuel crops. In Malaysia and Indonesia, for example, tropical forest was being cleared to plant palm oil for biodiesel. The researchers calculated that clearing these forests resulted in an addition of around 200 tonnes of carbon per hectare. And when the amount of carbon saved by the planting of palm for biofuel was subtracted from this, there was still net release of carbon, not a saving. Based on this analysis, the researchers suggested this strategy:

• fossil fuel use should be minimised by aggressively promoting fuel efficiency until non-carbon fuels, such as hydrogen, become reality;

• clearfelling of forest should stop because this releases the large soil reserve of carbon to the atmosphere; and

• excess farmland should be returned to true forest rather than used for the production of biofuels.

The Mercury, 8/9/2007, p. M7

Posted in Emissions, Forest, Policy | Leave a Comment »

Positive environmental benefits from deployment of CO2 dumps, providing there is appropriate regulation, House of Representatives report claims

Posted by gmarkets on 14 September, 2007

Once CO2 had been stored underground, effective and accurate technologies to measure and monitor the CO2 were essential for the purposes of regulation, carbon accounting and public safety, noted the House of Representatives, Standing Committee on Science and Innovation report Between a rock and a hard place: The science of geosequestration.

CO2 leakage the big worry: The greatest environmental risk associated with CCS concerned the potential for CO2 leakage, which could have serious consequences for the environment and people’s health. These risks could be mitigated through further research, rigorous site selection and post-injection management.

“Substantial positive environmental benefits”: The extent of the environmental benefits of CCS continued to be debated. Some argued that CCS had the potential to reduce global CO2 emissions by 7.8 per cent with potentially greater benefits to be seen in the later half of the 21st century. Others contend that, given the environmental risks, there were more viable options. The Committee concluded that there were substantial positive environmental benefits to be gained from the deployment of CCS, providing there was also appropriate regulation and scrutiny of environmental risks. The Committee recommended the implementation of a rigorous regulatory environmental risk mitigation framework for CCS.

CO2 dumps may double coal gen cost: There was also the question of what impact CCS deployment would have on electricity costs. Clean energy came at a price but in the case of CCS, the size of a price increase was not clear. Available data suggested that CCS might double the cost of electricity generation from coal.

Cost may be lower overall: However, as CSIRO noted, the cost of implementing capture technology was ‘only a proportion of the costs consumers pay’. Conversely, Robert Socolow had predicted that as ‘the costs of distribution and transmission [of electricity] are hardly affected [by CCS] … the retail cost of electricity would increase by just 20 [per cent]’.

Reference: ‘Between a rock and a hard place: The science of geosequestration’. House of Representatives, Standing Committee on Science and Innovation, August 2007, Canberra. For Media comment: contact the Committee Chair, Mr Petro Georgiou MP, on (02) 6277 4419 or the Deputy Chair, Mr Harry Quick MP, (02) 6277 4304. For information: contact the Commettee Secretary on (02) 6277 4150. Issued by: Liaison and Projects Office, House of Representatives, Phone: (02) 6277 2392. Copies of the report can be obtained from the website:

Posted in Australia, CCS, CO2 Dumps, Geosequestration, Policy | Leave a Comment »