Originally written by STEVE ROBERTSON
PORTLAND is near the front of the queue to share in billions of dollars to provide start-up cash for new renewable energy technologies.
That’s the view of leaders in wave, wind, solar and geothermal research, following announcement by Prime Minister Julia Gillard of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, paid for through revenue raised as part of the new carbon tax announced on Sunday.
The money, to be available over the next five years, is intended to encourage investment in quality proposals for such Portland-based projects as harnessing the limitless wave energy through a system of buoys connected to a generator on land, or drilling deep beneath the earth’s surface to tap into the energy stored in so-called hot rocks. Portland and surrounding district has been rated by experts as having exceptionally good prospects for such cheap, clean, renewable energy, surpassing the potential of nearly every other region of the nation.
The $10 billion fund, like the rest of the carbon reduction legislation, will not come into effect until July 1 of next year. The bill has yet to pass Parliament but supporters remain very optimistic it will get through, with support from the government, the Greens and the independents.
“This fund should kick-start investment in unproven but large scale clean energy technologies,” one commentator predicted. “The only question is whether there are enough really good proposals around Australia for it all to be spent.”
Both wave and geothermal/hot rocks energy could someday be counted on to provide base-load electricity, industry leaders said. But also standing to benefit from creation of the new fund would be the existing and proven technologies like wind and solar power. These energy sources strongly augment but do not replace power from Victoria’s traditional source, coal-fired electricity plants in the Latrobe Valley.
Pac Hydro ready to move
WORK on the final stage of Pacific Hydro’s Portland project could get underway before the end of this year, thanks to the Gillard government’s carbon pricing policy, a senior executive of Pacific Hydro has predicted.
“I am hopeful this decision will mean there is a stable investment platform and confidence for the final stage of the project to get underway before the end of the year,” Executive Manager Government and Corporate Affairs Andrew Richards said. “By then, with Parliamentary approval, companies will be moving forward aggressively with clean energy projects. We’re ready to go.”
He said the legislation provides the industry with confidence and clarity, encouraging those investors who had been “hanging back” to move ahead.
“There is a massive upside to this,” he said.
A senior wind industry executive predicted the workflow at Keppel Prince Engineering would “increase substantially,” thanks to the carbon price moves. KPE chief Steve Garner is overseas and could not be contacted for confirmation.
A leading Australian renewable energy company, Pacific Hydro has been participating in global carbon markets for a number of years through its international investments.
“To remain competitive in a global environment where carbon markets operate in many major economies, a price on carbon and a move to a cleaner future in Australia is essential,” Pacific Hydro general manager Lane Crockett said.
“Australia may not be leading the world in pricing carbon but we have world-leading clean energy resources which can power the country into the future and create a leading platform for the next generation.”
Mr Crockett noted that a report released by The Climate Institute in February indicated that at least 20,000 new jobs would be created in clean energy alone through policies such as a price on carbon.