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Energy

Clear skies, full breeze, can't lose: Oil state Texas' big bet on wind power

Texas is making major investments to make more of its wind power.

Matthew L. Wald 11:26am Texas, the US state most synonymous with oil, is conducting a vast “build it and they will come” experiment with wind power that’s being watched by the rest of America.

Japan lifts bar for green car aid with $30,000 off Toyotas

A Toyota hydrogen concept car.

Yuki Hagiwara and Craig Trudell 8:01am Japan is about to raise the bar for governments subsidizing zero-emission cars, as it pledges incentives that may exceed $30,000 a vehicle for Toyota Motor Corp.'s first hydrogen-powered sedan

Wind farm operator expels Maurice Newman from committee

Maurice Newman

PETER HANNAM Prominent businessman Maurice Newman said he had been “disinvited” from a community consultative committee for a proposed wind farm in the state’s southern highlands because of his objections to government support for the project.

Tread with care: networks face a solar dilemma

solar panels

PETER HANNAM The rapid spread of solar panels and the prospect of plunging costs of batteries pose unprecedented challenges for utilities, according to a report by Tim Nelson, AGL's head of economics, policy and sustainability.

US poll finds 60% back carbon tax - if used for renewables

US President Barack Obama has made climate change a priority in his second term.

Wendy Koch Most Americans oppose a carbon tax, considered by many economists a cost-effective way to fight climate change, but they are willing to support it if the money is returned to them or used to fund renewable energy, a poll has found.

UK sticks with target to halve carbon emissions by 2025

Deep carbon cuts planned for Britain.

Alex Morales The UK will keep a target to cut greenhouse gases by half through 2025, Energy Secretary Ed Davey said, foiling the Treasury's effort to weaken the target.

Markets

Green energy is the way forward, says economist Adrian Blundell-Wignall

“The [global] economic recovery has been based on low interest rates, then crisis and then bounce-back from the crisis ... none of that is sustainable.

Mark Mulligan Australia’s public and private sectors should be teaming up in renewable energy projects to drive the diversification away from mining exports, according to Australian economist Adrian Blundell-Wignall.

Renewable energy: NSW to be 'Australia's answer to California'

Time to get cracking on renewables and energy efficiency, the NSW government says.

PETER HANNAM Baird government plans to adorn its buildings with solar panels and ease the way for more wind farms.

Former solar giant Suntech rises from the ashes

Sunrise

PETER HANNAM Suntech - now rebadged as Wuxi Suntech Power - is rising from the ashes.

Who wins, who loses when the carbon tax goes?

Carbon crunch time for some industries.

PETER HANNAM Assuming the government can get the key parts of its changes through, who stands to win and who stands to lose?

Carbon price helped curb emissions, ANU study finds

All hot air? Carbon pricing was starting to work.

PETER HANNAM Australia cut carbon dioxide emissions from its electricity sector by as much as 17 million tonnes because of the carbon price and would have curbed more had industry expected the price to be permanent, according to an Australian National University study.

Comments 175

EU considers energy savings goal of less 30%, setting up clash

Power trip: how ambitious should the goal be?

The European Commission is considering an energy saving goal for 2030 of less than 30 per cent, according to a document seen by Reuters, setting it at odds with designated Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Annual investments in large-scale renewable energy in Australia

How the numbers stack up.

Tally of Australia's investment in large-scale renewable energy projects.

Australia's renewable energy industry grinds to a halt

Shadow looms over large-scale renewables in Australia.

PETER HANNAM Australia's investment in renewable energy all but dried up in the first half of 2014 amid uncertainty fuelled by the government's latest review of the mandatory target.

Comments 66

Offshore wind deal boosts clean energy investment to $A68 billion

Wind, solar investments surge

Louise Downing Global investment in clean energy increased to $US63.6 billion ($A68 billion) in the second quarter, boosted by the biggest deal in the industry's history, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

Deutsche Bank lends $US1 billion in Japan's solar gold rush

Solar's star is rising in Japan.

Chisaki Watanabe and Finbarr Flynn Deutsche Bank plans to lend about $US1 billion for Japanese solar projects, joining Goldman Sachs in funding cleaner energy as the government struggles to restart nuclear power plants after the Fukushima disaster.

US, China ink coal, clean energy deals in climate accord

Ties that bind.

The United States and China sign eight partnership agreements to cut greenhouse gases, bringing the world's two biggest carbon emitters closer together on climate policy.

Prominent US environmentalist Tom Steyer helped fund Maules Creek, other coal mines

Protesters near Leard State Forest earlier this year.

To environmentalists across Australia, it is a baffling anachronism in an era of climate change: the construction of a Whitehaven's 1600-hectare mine at Maules Creek in New South Wales that will churn out carbon-laden coal for the next 30 years.

Tech

Electronic devices waste $US80 billion of power a year, energy agency says

Time to switch off.

Mathew Carr The world's 14 billion television set-top boxes, printers, game consoles and other electronic devices waste $US80 billion of power a year due to inefficient technology, according to the International Energy Agency.

NASA's carbon dioxide-hunting telescope reaches orbit

An artist's impression of how NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory will look in space.

An unmanned Delta 2 rocket blasted off from California on Wednesday, carrying a NASA science satellite to survey where carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas tied to climate change, is moving into and out of Earth's atmosphere, a NASA Television broadcast showe

Big savings from renewable energy target but consumers miss out

Wind farms forced down wholesale prices but consumers may not have won.

PETER HANNAM Wind energy forced down wholesale power prices by more than $3.2 billion between 2007 and 2012 but consumers enjoyed little of the savings, according to researchers at the University of Queensland.

Comments 79

Carbon has best quarter in six years amid EU permit-supply curbs

European carbon market measures starting taking some effect.

Mathew Carr European Union carbon permits had the biggest quarterly gain in six years as lawmakers consider permanent measures to curb a surplus that helped push prices to a record low.

Clive Palmer denies division in Palmer United Party over renewable energy target

PM ' not an evil person': Palmer (Thumbnail)

LISA COX Clive Palmer has scotched claims of division in his party over ongoing support for Australia's renewable energy target, as a group of Coalition backbenchers also lobby ministers for a change in the scheme.

Green bonds blaze path to $US1 trillion a year for climate change

Bond markets propel climate response.

Christopher Martin Green bonds may help provide the $US1 trillion annual investments in clean energy that environmental groups say is necessary to limit the impact of climate change.

Clive Palmer's ETS: What he's saying, what he's thinking, and what he might actually mean

Three overlooked budget surprises (Thumbnail)

MICHAEL PASCOE One of the problems with Clive is working out what he’s saying, what he might think he’s saying and what he actually means.

Storm smashes wind energy records

Melbourne storm

PETER HANNAM Australia’s wind energy records have been blown away by the wintry storm that ripped through the country’s south-east, with turbines supplying almost one-fifth of the electricity at its peak.

Baird government delays final decision on Metgasco gas suspension

Protesters at the Bentley site.

PETER HANNAM The Baird government has put off making a final decision on whether to lift ts suspension of a controversial gas field development program in the state’s Northern Rivers region.

Bipartisan US climate report paints dark picture of future economic costs

Seaside Heights not high enough, after Hurricane Sandy hit north-eastern US in late 2012.

Don Lee Billions of dollars of property damage along the US Eastern Seaboard. Sharply reduced yields of corn, wheat and soy at Midwestern farms. Rising sea levels threatening military installations in Southern California.

Failed carbon farm company ignored expert's advice

Henbury Conservation Project.

Matthew Cranston, Rory Callinan A company part-owned by News Corp disregarded advice from a leading carbon trading expert and went ahead with a plan to establish the world's largest carbon farm which failed leaving taxpayers millions of dollars out of pocket.

Government modelling shows power prices will fall if RET stays

Lisa Cox, Peter Hannam The Abbott government’s case to scrap or weaken the Renewable Energy Target (RET) has been dealt a “killer blow”, with modelling it commissioned for the review showing consumers will be better off if the target is kept.

Carbon

Swapping picket lines for pinstripes: Meet the new face of anti-coal activism

Tim Buckley

Jamie Freed and Nassim Khadem Former Citigroup research head Tim Buckley is one of the new breed of financially-savvy anti-coal activists trying to convince the big end of town to make more sustainable investments.

King Coal's crown starts to slip amid rising investment backlash in Australia

Mounting concerns about coal.

A farmer's habit of rising before dawn finds Cliff Wallace alone most mornings while a rag-tag army of anti-coal activists camped in tents and tee-pees on his land catch a few more hours sleep.

Mining, energy sectors received $18b assistance over six years

mining

GARETH HUTCHENS State governments have spent nearly $18 billion supporting mining and energy companies over the past six years, The Australia Institute says.

Ken Cowley carbon farm company collapsed owing $100m

ken cowley

Rory Callinan and Matthew Cranston A taxpayer-funded company part-owned by News Corp and chaired by prominent businessman Ken Cowley collapsed owing nearly $100 million following boardroom allegations of dishonesty and secret share trading.

NSW state budget 2014 pays scant attention to climate change, coal seam gas

More resources set aside for fire fighting.

PETER HANNAM Two of the biggest environment issues – climate change and coal seam gas – are all but ignored in this year's state budget with neither terms appearing in the 511-page budget estimates 2014-15 tome.

Coal's share of world energy demand at highest since 1970

Insatiable appetite for the black stuff.

Nidaa Bakhsh Coal dominated world energy markets last year by supplying the biggest share of demand since 1970, making it the fastest growing fossil fuel, according to an annual review by BP.

UN climate talks stall over future of carbon markets

China floods: what will be next cab off the rank?

The use of carbon markets to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions was dealt a blow on Sunday after two weeks of United Nations talks on designing and reforming the mechanisms ended in deadlock.

Australia's power generators ill-equipped to cope with carbon limits, says ex-Origin executive

power generator

PETER HANNAM Australia’s electricity generators are largely obsolete and likely future curbs on carbon emissions mean they will probably be replaced by solar and wind energy plants, a former senior executive at one of the nation’s biggest fossil fuel-based power companies said.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt ducks questions over solar power plan 'assurances'

Environment Minister Greg Hunt

Fergus Hunter, Jonathan Swan Environment Minister Greg Hunt has deflected questions about whether he gave false assurances to the clean-energy industry over a now-dumped solar power policy.

Models 'grossly underestimate' costs of global warming, Nicholas Stern says

Nicholas Stern says climate change costs aren't properly captured by  models.

PETER HANNAM Existing economic models “grossly underestimate” the costs of global warming, undermining the urgency for deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new paper by leading UK climate change economist Lord Nicholas Stern.

Energy

Slump in demand for power likely to continue

Generic power lines.

BRIAN ROBINS The downturn in electricity demand is likely to slide a further 3.3 per cent over next three years.

Abbott government's climate policy may fall far short of goal, report claims

Australia's emissions reduction goals will be hard to reach, RepuTex says

PETER HANNAM The Abbott government’s main policy alternative to the carbon tax may fall as much as 300 million tonnes short of Australia’s 2020 emissions reduction goal, according to modelling by RepuTex.

Energy storage seen as next spark for 'green' power

Tesla has helped make batteries cool.

Dana Hull First, Randy Ross bought a Chevrolet Volt. Faced with the need to charge his car and eager to cut his utility bill, he installed solar panels on the roof of his Californian home.

Warren Buffett to boost clean energy wager 'as far as the eye can see'

Big wager: Billionaire Warren Buffett.

Berkshire Hathaway, which has struck deals to expand its utility business in Nevada and Western Canada, plans more investment in the industry, in part by betting on renewable power, Chairman Warren Buffett said.

Energy

Blackout on green projects if target for renewables is axed

Two tower technicians at the Waubra wind farm.

PETER HANNAM Billions of dollars in renewable energy investments could be facing the chop.

Energy

Sovereign risk fears if renewable energy targets change

Solar energy panels.

PETER HANNAM Tony Wood says the battle over the Renewable Energy Target comes down to sovereign risk.

China seeks to cap fossil-fuel emissions, envoy says

Pollution in north-east China - one spur for cleaning up emissions.

Alex Morales China is working on how to cap its greenhouse gas for the first time, an effort that would spur the worldwide effort hold back climate change.

G20

G20 not a place to discuss climate change, says BHP chief

Andrew Mackenzie

PHILIP WEN The chief executive of the world's largest miner, BHP Billiton, has backed Prime Minister Tony Abbott's decision to keep climate change off this year's G20 agenda, despite concerns Australia is increasingly viewed as being disengaged from the international climate debate.

Buffett's $28 billion winning bet on clean energy

Big bet: Billionaire Warren Buffett.

Billionaire US investor Warren Buffett is preparing a 'gamechanging' move for its renewable energy assets.

Climate change

$325b of energy could be left in ground

Concerned: International Energy Agency chief economist Fatih Birol.

PETER HANNAM About $US300 billion ($325 billion) in fossil-fuel assets, such as coal, could be left in the ground due to efforts to combat climate change, according to International Energy Agency chief economist Fatih Birol.

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