Contaminated Land – Remediation challenges

Presently, for a majority of contaminates, there are no endorsed standards or guidelines within Australia that define, for each category of land use, safe levels of soil contamination. What we do have within the National Environment Protection Measures Act 1998 (NEPM Act) guidelines is an adopted remediation criteria recommending investigation levels. Our suggestion is this investigation criterion is far too conservative and not well adopted or able to properly adept to manage health and environmental risks.

Posted on January 6, 2013 by co2land, Contaminated Land – Obligations to manage – was written to help the reader to understand that managing the environment means many things and it is not necessarily so that moral decisions will be made. From that story it follows that a natural discussion point is to now look at the remediation challenges, or if you prefer to call it – appropriate actions, and the point is made that to manage contamination the issues may involve: risk management activities, including actions to limit exposure to contaminates; remediation, such as physical containment, capture and on-site treatment, or removal/offsite for disposal; or whatever combination of above. In today’s political climate it is unlikely a government officer would go along with addressing the challenges unless due diligence investigations and factoring the results into a cost-benefit analysis was done ‘appropriately’. As a Carbon Manager, we might say extensive due diligence investigations and cost-benefit analysis has cost and time implications that science clearly indicates we do not have the luxury to indulge into – the earth as we know is dependent on our actions.

Notwithstanding the urgency matter, ‘real’ remediation challenges include managing the uncertainty associated with the costs of remediation, remember it was said investigative sampling could only provide an estimate of the actual problem (the nature, extent and concentrations of what is the contaminant(s)). Therefore any property management decision can attract significant cost risk when considering changes to land use. To recant the start of this discussion it was said recommendations are part of the NEPM Act and the conservative responses that will be elicited are not strong. It may be that the data available is part of the problem and that needs to be addressed in a more robust or targeted way.

CO2Land org noted that the federal Department of Finance and Deregulation has a number of areas responsible or have responsibility pertinent to management of contaminated land and wonders if it might be data collection that is the greater weakness in terms of the abilities for adequate and timely responses. Stronger more targeted data collection could be better used to quantify the risk and might lessen the likelihood of ‘excessive’ or redundant analysis on a project-by-project basis. The potential is to save money too!

We will expect we will increasingly see this approach being implemented and would applaud where issues such as uncertainty is reduced; improved decision making processes are covered off; and more efficient funding approval processes are followed. We believe additional benefits could accrue and if it is transparent shared lessons learnt and reports could give improvement in practice and the moral and the legal be much the same outcome.

Contaminated Land – Obligations to manage

In conversation, we discussed an old tannery site, and it occurred ‘obligation’ to manage was not understood, or meant different things to different people. For instance, a Carbon Manager would say it is more than accounting and reporting, it is about bringing about a change in thinking of the moral and legal rights in terms of the strategic directions to exist in a carbon constrained world – that is to manage the objectives of the change.  A Commonwealth Officer might say the extent to which an obligation requires management is highly dependent on the existing or proposed future need, and the management need is to present a number of risk of that that will be decided, or in turn generate obligations as a strategy. The later could be a recommendation to do nothing.  It gets down to the officer can say as no legal obligation exists, regardless of the evidence, we can do nothing until it requires management and the risks can in turn generate obligations for funds. Sounds familiar does it not!

Why funding as the trigger? It is the means of executive power.  What about the moral need to save the planet? The current trend is evaluations and the measure is the cost – benefit and reactions that convert into immediate comforts. Another issue is that we no longer learn by experiences, we are swayed by opinions and the need for immediate comforts.

If we concentrate this post on contamination of land, the decision-making, and factors of risk management, capability and efficiency of expenditure we can see an interesting overture of what is management. It we think of the range of historical uses for land that has resulted in a wide range of contaminates we can note examples of nuclear activities, military training, radio transmission, fire fighting, printing, fuel storage and numerous infrastructure responsible for hazardous materials. Then there is another problem where pre-existing contaminated sites are then used to add other contaminates with the justification it is already contaminated, so the risk is lower.  It might surprise you but in 2011 the Australian government audit of its properties found approximately 30% to have known contamination issues, and the remaining have issues yet to be identified. That is not a typo, it was written – yet to be identified, and much of the concern is waste dumping. If you wonder how many properties of concern in the audit, the Department of Finance and Deregulation’s 2011 Land Audit reported 1197 properties of which 355 are known and 842 are potential issues.

Asking the question on what is the legal obligation to act on the site, it was clear the Carbon manger and the government officer had a different management view. Yet, both claim a long term view. The former is the actions will ensure a long term benefit, the later saying funds would address the risks in the long run!

To analyse the obligations of the Commonwealth, there is no legal obligation to remediate because contamination is present..  The more likely driver is the presence of risks which can generate obligations to fund remediation. These risks can include:

  • Workplace, health and safety risks and associated legislative obligations;
  • Public safety risks and associated liability exposure;
  • Potential degradation of Commonwealth assets;
  • Ecological impacts; and
  • Off-site impacts beyond the boundary of Commonwealth Land.

The key to all above is the extent to which contamination requires management is highly dependent on the existing or proposed future use of the land. It is not the moral obligation to make it right.

Synfuel – to a ‘waste-free’ world

The prediction is Synfuel is the best alternative to meet world energy demand, and it will help address the other big issue of a waste-free environment.  The differences are an improvement over Biofuel as it will not compete with food production or involve land clearing, and the processes of the waste will put it to good use.

We already know the prediction of peak oil, what has changed is the dates when we will reach that tipping point, and it will be driven by demand. The current prediction is that fuel demand will triple by 2025, that gas energy and petroleum price will rise within 2 years and be subject to more competitive tendering processes as governments seek more revenues and vested interests seek to retain margins. Ironically, government (take Queensland for instance is solely assessing energy as a financial cost benefit, and this encourages consumption as a take or pay exercise). There is no demand constraint or carbon consideration other than price.

It is therefore reasonable to assume the oil industry will not be able to sustain supply.

A curious part of the matter is that the technology to address the demand and supply equation exists, the source of the feedstock is abundant, and government has the power in the form of existing legislation and approval processes to make the need for power ‘responsible’ and be encouraged. As CO2Land org is told, all that is needed is the assistance of the stakeholders to the innovative and the refinement of the design to meet accreditation requirements as a mass project rollout. We understand, currently the environmental protection license requirement policy is assessment on a project by project basis. The other impediment is the economics that proponents of most alternative and or renewable energy have issues with and that relates to costs, and cost can be in the form of cash investment or embodied problems in the ‘producability’. Therefore what must be overcome is the difficulty of the sustainability of the programs, not the technology.

What can be assured of is the technology to convert all organic waste to proper Synfuel or Kerosene according to the EU regulations, and in Australia (we understand the NSW EPA could accredit the technology in Australia within months) it is likely “as surely as day, the best, most cost effective and environmentally friendly way one can choose to convert waste to fuel. And it is one investment and not two – first in incineration or similar and then later into Synfuel. We can do it both with one technology” – If you would like to hear from the source of the quote, contact – .

CO2Land org also notes the ability to use to see what is the opinion around the world and especially agrees with the opinions of JAMES FERGUSON. Directly quoting:” However, this was not where this blog post goes. I wanted to make a simpler point. If you want to fix ‘Planned Waste’ then you had best address ‘Thoughtless Waste’ first. Why – because the first can be bought but not bought well in the context of the other, and the other must be learned – and cannot be bought at any price.

If thoughtless waste is addressed, it comes at the princely price of a penny – as in ‘a penny for your thoughts’. So payback is immediate and it clears noise away so that investment in reducing ‘Planned Waste’ can be made in the context of a reasonable operation. Please remember that thoughtless waste includes, not turning down thermostats, not adjusting time-clocks and making unfounded assumptions about needs.

Regarding the last ‘Obligatory Waste’ – can only say that the obligations are rules made to be broken. Waste is always wanton. So preventing waste always allows the actor access to the higher ground.”

CO2Land org then ponders recent discussion with Real Power Systems and Congent over feedstock for cogneration projects and those conversations was typical in that whenever and wherever ones reads about converting waste, or zero waste aspirations, around 90% of these discussions go around creating electricity from waste. In fact, it soon becomes discussion on a multiplicity of products and that the industry has a place to exist in a sustainable way, and it can be done, and it’s not difficult at all and each of the products make use of the resources we already have consumed.

So what about the other numerous natural sources from which to harvest as much electricity as we need – for instance wind, sun, hydro, ocean currents, vents in the ocean, photovoltaic, etc. Simply the answer is there is a place for all if we consider we will consume and economics says we need to grow to prosper. Therefore we must consider the many possibilities we should use just to meet the demand and consider the ability to reduce the carbon footprint of doing so, and the science says our demands are growing faster and the impacts are accelerating. It follows that three times the amount being demanded is more than the oil industry can maintain, and whether it is 2030 or 2025 when that comes about does not remove the need to think now and encourage the technology that converts all organic waste to reuse products. Think about this waste as from agriculture, Metropolitan waste streams, sewage, medical, hazardous, old oil and/or tyres and more and it can all be converted to Synfuel – this is not biofuel from productive land or food production diversions or sources. It is a fuel that goes from the manufacture plant into the engine, motor, jet and needs no blending. A well designed and tested unit produces desulphurized, 100% environmentally friendly fuel and the numbers show it will comply fully to the EU EN590 regulations, even exceeding the Cetane up to 58 and sometimes even more and also exceeding ASTM requirements.  Some numbers we could quote suggest around 63% from green waste blends.

Quoting ‘helga’ again: “If you wish so the plant will also produce A1-type Kerosene. 
You want to create electricity – no problem, we just add a genset and you get your electricity. 
BUT you invest only one time because investing now in an incineration or combustion plant – how long do you think this will a viable business? In most areas maybe for 8 – 10 years”. The analogy follows that the Synfuel industry will have a significant lead on other technolgies that will inevitable be developed to meet the demand for electricity. For instance in Goulburn yesterday, it was suggest Thorium reactors will be viable in the near term and the issues of producability will constrain the introduction in similar timeframes.  In the mean time Synfuel will solve a number of problems in landfill, the need to consume and the need for energy. ‘Helga’ also suggest our transport needs will not be met by electrical cars, and they are wasteful of resources also, and we should consider environment impacts of the millions of trucks, heavy machinery, planes, train locomotives and similar that cannot drive with electrical batteries – they will run on waste when it is converted to fuel. A fuel that can be produced in minutes without electricity and a waste can produce beneficial bi-products for agriculture (for instance bio-char) in six minutes.

Don’t you all think that this is the better way to go?

Carbon Farming Initiative – approved two landfill gas projects in Canberra

Two landfill gas projects declared eligible in Canberra

The Clean Energy Regulator has approved two landfill gas projects in Canberra under the Carbon Farming Initiative.

The Belconnen Landfill Gas Project and the Mugga Lane Landfill Gas Project use the Capture and combustion of methane in landfill gas from legacy waste methodology, and are located in Belconnen and Hume respectively. There are now 11 landfill projects approved under the Carbon Farming Initiative. All projects that are declared eligible under the Act are published on Act are published on the Register of Offsets Projects.

For more information about applying for the Carbon Farming Initiative contact the Clean Energy Regulator:

issue of waste disposal – e-waste

An outer Sydney council kerb-side collection truck did pick-up and crush the e-waste with all else. The thought was then: In this digital era we’re all linked to e-waste and need to understand it, the problems and do more than puff about what to do to implement solutions. Why is it so difficult to get anyone to care?

World wide policy makers acknowledge the issue of waste disposal is complex and poses challenges that relate directly to cost ($), and the measures of cost are viewed as a high political point despite sustainability and environmental issues having longer-term effects that affect viability. It is notoriously complex, and we listen to the excuses and catch cries of our thought leaders along the lines it is the system that is the problem, and major corporations need to take more responsibility for their products. You might also hear that consumers are to blame and it is their needs that generate the e-waste.

CO2Land org was pondering the conundrum of responsibility and took note of a post from 6 Heads ( and the follow up links to their argument on responsibility.

They talk of an alumni event at Imperial College London. Centered on the politics of climate change and how we need to move discussions beyond responsibility to get the positive collaboration levels needed.

Critical to the issue of responsibility is the end of life processes and when e-waste needs to be treated appropriately. That is the need to appropriately dismantle it, organize the different components, and the process and policies of reuse and recycling.

6 Heads says responsibly for this e-waste end of life phase takes into account two key steps: storage and disposal.

“Storage influences the amount of electronic products entering the waste stream before they can be appropriately treated. Nokia published survey results on the end-of-life of mobile phones, which revealed the difficulty in collecting phones as nearly 50% were kept in home drawers, and merely 5% were collected for recycling. This delay caused by storage makes collection for recycling difficult, and minimises opportunities to substitute virgin materials through recycling.”

Then in discussing Disposal:

“Once an item is thrown away, it should hopefully enter the recycling system. The recycling system is made up the following processes and the effectiveness of recycling is determined the weakest link. Often, the weakest link is the disposal of e-goods, which is closely tied to our behaviour.”

CO2Land org notes they are saying the weakest link to processing e-waste is collection.  No, it is not that simple, and there is another problem, albeit the weakness is collection the business of e-waste exists and comparative advantage of lesser-developed countries is enticing illegal exportation of e-waste. 6 Heads write, “countries like India, Pakistan and China, as this is the cheaper option. In fact, over 80% of the world’s e-waste is either dumped, landfilled or illegally shipped to developing countries where it is dismantled.” So we can then conclude The complexity of this industry is that costs entice low recycling rates and collection and then disposal determines high recycling rates. Then to avoid costs the cycle, at this time, is mostly e-waste is produced by higher standard of living countries and processed most likely by developing countries.

When considering responsibility, consider the lack of strong incentives, lack of an easy disposal system and low awareness among consumers and that behaviour is shaped and limited by the systems that surround us. The evidence is that most consumers are not aware or able to determine whether their e-waste is safe and what is the appropriate disposal methods – then think of the truck driver and offsider in Sydney. Why did they not know what was the complexity of their work. It does not matter how easy or hard it is too understand, they at least should be given good information to know what is happening because of the work.

Following is a brief insight of the story ‘Beyond responsibility 2.0 – insights from Brazil’, the measure may hold the answers:

“So how to tackle this phenomenon? Ideally, we want a solution that makes returning defunct and undesired electronics easy and cheap.

The EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) is a flagship policy that holds producers responsible for the collection e-waste. The systems put in place for this to happen can take many shapes and form, from collection points to buy-back schemes, the opportunities for returning e-waste are improving. What’s more, the need to divert e-waste from landfill is giving rise to business opportunities as companies like Mazuma and Envirofone deliver services to individual consumers and entire organisations.

But ultimately consumers will also need to raise the bar and play the role of active environmentally responsible citizens. We bear a social responsibility; we also need to bear an environmental responsibility.

Innovatively, Brazil has made all stakeholders along the lifecycle of electronic goods responsible for ensuring that it is appropriately returned to the manufacturer. From the consumer, to the retailer, the distributor and manufacturer, by law all of these stakeholders are required to ensure that e-waste enters the recycling system and is diverted from landfill. The National Solid Waste Law is the first to hold all actors accountable, and is a huge step towards environmental citizenship and solving sustainability through holistic means.

Furthermore, Brazil has also introduced a national programme to driver greater environmental citizenship. The Plano Nacional para Produção e Consumo Sustentávebrings together the public, private and civil society sectors in a national effort to increase environmental awareness and responsibility. The effects of the policies remain to be seen, but one thing is clear: Brazil has moved towards a more holistic definition of responsibility and is making efforts to mobilise all affected parties in an effort to advance to more sustainable behaviour and technologies.”

Farm related posts – Production, Landcare, Investments

Farmers make up less than 1% of the Australian population today and feeds 600 people – in 1950, an Australian farmer fed 20 people – in 1970, the farmer fed 200 people. Source: Lynne Strong, Bega ABARES Regional Outlook Conference 30 Aug 2012.

Artificial fertilizer costs too much and the dairy industry is returning to the use of nitrogen fixing perennial clovers in its pasture mix to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint. Source: Joanne Bills, Bega ABARES Regional Outlook Conference 30 Aug 2012.

The global dairy trade is increasing every year by between 9-10 billion litres of milk – equivalent to the size of the entire Australian industry each year. Source: BRW 12 July 2012.

A Tasmanian dairy farm has Australia’s first rotation platform that milks 24 cows without human involvement – separate robots prepare and clean the teats, attach the suction cups and disinfect the teats after milking. Source: BRW 12 July 2012.

Warrnambool Cheese & Butter operates the largest and most efficient dairy processing site in Australia – Bega Cheese owns 17% of the company. Source: AFR 03 Nov 2012.

Research in the UK has found that organic farms are less energy intensive than conventional farming – but they are also less productive – that means organic livestock have higher greenhouse gas emissions per unit of milk or meat. Source: NRM on Farms 04 Sept 2012. 

Dr Carole Hungerford of Bathurst links the health of the population to the health of its food – she says that you can’t get healthy animals from unhealthy land – she relates disease and illness to deficiencies in soils – in turn creating deficiencies in foods – she notes that 1 Australian dies every 2 hours from bowel cancer. Source: National Landcare 04 Sept 2012.

Asa Walquist, writer on rural affairs, says that animal products supply one third of the world’s protein – if livestock were eliminated, half as much again of vegetable protein crops would have to be produced to replace meat – but the shift from pasture to cropping would lead to a reduction in soil carbon – increasing soil carbon will be critical to Australia’s future carbon balance – Walquist says that the most effective way to increase carbon levels in soil used for agriculture is to return some crop land to well-managed pasture, preferably native pasture. Source: NRM on Farms 04 Sept 2012.

In the Western Sydney Parklands of over 5,000 hectares, 500 hectares have been reserved for urban farming – small plots are being leased to farmers to keep a food basin close to the capital city. Source: SMH 27 Oct 2012.

Financial losses from events related to weather in Australia have risen 4 fold over the past 30 years according to reinsurance corporation Munich. Source: SMH 27 Oct 2012.

60% of Australia’s researchers work in universities – the highest percentage of any modern economy. Source: AFR 03 Nov 2012.

The driver of the growth will come from improvements in productivity – labour productivity per person in China is only 20% of that of the US – in India and Indonesia it is about 10%. Source: AFR 29 Oct 2012.

Over the next 20 years almost 9 out of 10 new middle-class consumers worldwide will emerge in the Asian region. Source: AFR 29 Oct 2012.

Asia will be home to 4 of the 10 biggest economies within 13 years according to the Asian Century White Paper – China, India, Japan and Indonesia. Source: AFR 29 Oct 2012.

Between 2005 and 2011, US-based corporations invested $550 billion in Australia compared with $20 billion from China-based companies. Source: The Australian 16 Aug 2012.

Chinese consumers have developed a liking for Starbucks, pizza, Haagen-Dazseven and even Santa – they prefer western brands to domestic competitors. Source: The Deal Aug 2012.

95% of Chinese investment in Australia over the past 6 years was made by state-owned enterprises – nearly $50 billion over the last 5 years and mainly in mining and energy. Source: SMH 25 Aug 2012.

Chinese investment in Australia dropped by 51% last year to $19 billion – Australian investment in China grew by 278% to $17 billion. Source: The Australian 26 Oct 2012.

Unilever’s CEO, Paul Polman, thinks that for the next few years the US will be more internally focused – and that China and India won’t be willing to step up and assume the responsibility that comes with size – he believes that this creates a major opportunity for responsible companies to step up to be a force for good. Source: AFR Boss July 2012.

Unilever’s targets for 2020 are: to help more than 1 billion people improve their hygiene habits and bring safe drinking water to 500 million people – and halve the greenhouse gas impact of the company’s products across their lifecycle, from sourcing to consumer use and disposal – also to halve the water consumption associated with the consumer, particularly in countries that are populous and water-scarce – plus halve the waste associated with the disposal of products. Source: AFR Boss July 2012.

Unilever currently sources 10% of agricultural raw materials sustainably – by the end of this year it aims to source 30% – by 2015 50% – and by 2020 100% – by 2020 it also aims to link 500,000 smallholder farmers and small-scale distributors into its supply chain. Source: AFR Boss July 2012.

The Indigenous Land Corporation has gained approval under the Carbon Farming Initiative to earn up to $500,000 a year by selling carbon credits from projects combating savannah wildfires on its Fish River property south of Darwin. Source: The Age 02 Nov 2012.

  • CO2Land org queries the Fish River story and asks where this number comes from as it is unlikely in free trade the price will be higher than $AU10 for some time, and the Government itself in a media release said the number of credits generated from the exercise is 20,000 per annum – simple arithmetic = $200,000. It is most likely the number of $500,000 is a Carbon Tax transitional number and not a continuing expectation.  You might notice we posted Unfinished business, The EU ETS continues (Posted on July 17, 2012 by co2land). The story is about the need of the managers to artificially prop up the price after falling values. “To counter this the European Commission proposes to withhold permits and boost prices by “backloading” auctioning. That is delaying sales due next year until later in the 2013-2020 trading phase. This strategy is designed to maintain the EU carbon prices at no lower than €8.” It follows that Australia has elected to follow the EU ETS and make a transition from the Carbon Price (Carbon Tax) to the market.

Co2Land org thanks Garry Reynolds Caring for our Country National Coordinator, Business and Industry – for the inputs.

Co/trigeneration sequel – Balancing Energy in your Business

In its draft report on Electricity Networks and the Regulatory Frameworks the Productivity Commission encourages a standard approach to Embedded generation (12.2) and puts a focus on minor distributed generation such as PVs, VAWTs etc (13), and the disparities in tariffs. The general theme is to push toward time based pricing to assist technologies where it can be incorporated within a strategy of load lopping.

On 4 November CO2Land ( posted “Balancing Energy in Your Business” and a quote from the story said “It might be time, if you have not already, consider curtailment opportunities, renewable generation, cogeneration or trigeneration (albeit some high profile projects may well prove to be an embarrassment for overblown claims), or combinations of technologies with emphasis on energy savings.” This sequel further explains the pros and cons of cogeneration and trigeneration. The message is fully understand it first!

Increasingly common, where gas connections are possible, is the embedding of co-generation and there is an increase trigeneration. A little 101 here:

  • Cogeneration: Also known as combined heat and power, cogeneration uses wasted heat from gas-fired engines to project into other processes such as generating more electricity or producing heating.
  • Trigeneration: Combined cooling, heat and power – goes a step further, simultaneously producing power, thermal energy and cooling. The cooling can be used for production processes or climate control.

Gas Today ( ) ran a story on Benefits of cogeneration and trigeneration where the authors said: “Cogeneration and trigeneration are already well established in Australia, with a growing clientele of property owners and developers incorporating them into their new or existing buildings or plants. Flexibility in design makes these applications easy to adapt to different customer demands, and thus cogeneration and trigeneration plants can be found in various different locations, including:

  • Urban areas with office buildings or retail complexes;
  • Residential areas;
  • Industrial or manufacturing facilities, such as breweries, abattoirs and dairies;
  • Hospitals;
  • Education facilities including universities and schools;
  • Airports;
  • Government sites such as state and federal agencies; and
  • Data centres.”

However, with all good marketing efforts should come the balancing with ‘real’ stories. After reading a post of Dru Spork (Manager at Grocon in Sydney), he made the comment  “those with experience should be able to chuckle along with this”, and what did he mean? Pitfalls we suspect and what to avoid when sizing. Some common mistakes and problems are:

  1. Design size for load lopping rather than operation. This can mean the unit is insufficient to handle the building load if isolated from grid connection.
  2. Total reliance on standards measures (AS3000) design ratings and not correctly sizing to match operation. That is not measuring correctly the actual equipment selections coupled with absorbed power/run power modelling.
  3. Not considering the ‘what if’ on the power requirements when other energy efficiency initiatives or technologies are introduced. Will there be a need to run the generator?
    The economics are very important for the business case and overblown estimates could mean a stranded asset. Consider:
  • The Capex investment for different load operations.
  • Modelling the generator operation modeled at say 100%, 75% and 50% load (to predict available electrical load) and match this to absorber performance at 100%, 75% and 50% – rather than checking the quality of the heat output and how this works with the absorbers.
  • Determine building heat load in the operational model.
  • Be prepared for battles with the electrical authorities over fault levels and approval procedures (project approvals can take around 18 months).
  • Empty buildings do not need power. The operations modelling of the generators assume occupation and operations of the building.

CO2Land org considers it is not uncommon that such projects fail and it tend to be because the introduction was not planned as well as it should have been. When talking to Ahmed Abdoh, he said “that is why we in Carbon Training International offer the only nationally recognised course in Cogeneration and Trigeneration that can help how to take the right decision on size and type. check out our course on . The primary material of the Course is the work of Winton Evers (Ecoprofit Management) and Ahmed Abdoh (CO2Planet) moderated by Bill McGhie (CO2Ti).

We also ask you to consider, you will get noise complaints from the adjacent buildings when operating, you will not get $120 per KWH value every day for generating, for these projects a ‘too analytical’ engineering report is a good report!

Balancing energy in your business

In previous arguments the Zero Waste community has been either instructed or advised that revenues from electricity generation using waste materials have no economic benefit, or are too little in the amount of return to be feasible. Other reported arguments are that the material products from the waste stream process have a significantly higher value than generation revenue. Those assumptions can be assumed to be no longer relevant if we approach the problems in a different light. Nor should we discount that technology will advance many techniques and the risk of each decision should be taken on a case by case and/or site by site basis.

If you consider the traditional energy procurement approach: You enter into a standard contract agreement, you concede the terms of your connection conditions and may actually be penalized if you fail to take the load assignment. The problem from this perspective is the supply side is assumed the only legitimate interest in providing energy security. The concept of energy is more legitimate if you refer to the supply and demand balance.

All community is affected by the rising cost of energy, and a number of specialist companies are offering products that approach the three essential considerations in the cost of energy: The energy price, the delivery cost and the carbon price. Something is being done and the “Power of Choice” is doing what it can to address the issues.

The reasons to accept that change is possible is the AEMC and the Senate are the essential bodies that will influence and inform how the implementation of an effective balancing of the National Electricity Market (NEM) and that Demand Participation is the result that is saving $billions for the community, and continuous saving thereafter. If you think this is a relatively new idea, the reality is under the term Demand Response (DR): Alan Fels, Chair of ACCC, on 19 November 2001 made a considerable issue the balancing equation; The Parer Review 2002 presented “Towards A Truly National And Efficient Energy Market”; The EUAA April 2004 presented “Trial of a Demand Side Response Facility for the National Electricity Market”; The ERIG Review November 2006 advocated “Review of Energy Related Financial Markets”; AEMC (formerly by NEMCO) carried Stages 1 & 2 of the Demand Side Participation Review and Stage 3 is in progress.

What does this means if you want to design or reengineer your process products under carbon constraints? On the 1st July 2012 some 250 Australian businesses became lawfully liable to pay $23 for every tonne of CO2e emitted from ‘operational controlled’ facilities emitting 25,000 tonnes or more of scope 1 Greenhouse Gas emissions. A recent survey by the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) revealed that only one third of the organisations surveyed agreed or strongly agreed with the question “My organisation is prepared for the implications of the carbon tax”. It follows that an organisations’ total carbon capabilities are critical to creating the transformational business response necessary to not only remain competitive in the short term, but to prosper in the long term. The process for creating this outcome is heavily dependent on having essential carbon management knowledge and skills in place, and an awareness of the commercial & competitive impacts under the carbon pricing mechanism. Small to medium enterprise (SME) are not a liable entity, at the time of writing and where you may not have as yet assessed the impact of the carbon price, you should be aware the large liable businesses pass the cost down through the supply chain.
The supply chain and operating costs will be having an impact on all consumers and suppliers. We know government assistance programs are available to help mitigate the cost pressures & fund critical investment in areas such as energy efficiency. What we do additionally can be our benefit in reducing all manner of waste including energy and energy products.

On 17 October 2012 the Clean Energy Regulator issued a report, and as a selective reference, said that the year ahead is focused on amongst other things ecological sustainable development and that will favour the innovators prepared to rethink business as usual. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) also provides R&D incentives offsets for those groups, and the Productivity Commission encourages rethinking.

It might be time, if you have not already, consider curtailment opportunities, renewable generation, cogeneration or trigeneration (albeit some high profile projects may well prove to be an embarrassment for overblown claims), or combinations of technologies with emphasis on energy savings.

CO2Land org is aware of licensed energy retailers that are operating where you will be rewarded for sharing risk in the energy price, similar companies also can offer demand incentives that you might also have though less than likely. In this scenario at least one retailer will individually profile the site and make an offer for the output or develop a hybrid contract to suit.

Some of the products developed or can be adaptive to your needs to be developed is:

  1. For generators:

Short term grid balancing, renewable and base load, hedging strategies, Greenpower.

  1. Auto load management with shed load or transfer to generator capability
  2. Price substitution, Load shed offers.
  3. Structured options according to risk tolerance and managed adjustments.

The message is you are no longer obliged with the status quo as a price taker, and you can start the discussion and work for what works for you.

If you are confused with the terminology, hopefully the following will help you better understand: The energy market has three components that affect the price we pay: Price response (PR), Demand Response (DR) and the Emergency response (ER).  Electricity price is proven to be largely inelastic, and as we are more reliant on alternative energy sources we notice the costs tend to be absorbed. Therefore our only real option to mitigate the price is a Demand Response (DR). DR is proving its ability to offset the most volatile price driver in the market. For the supply side the capex and opex growth on the distributed network is a large cost driver, generation is the marginal cost of capital to develop the projects. Demand Participation (DP) can help slow down the cost drivers and the supply side will welcome the cost reductions or the ability to reduce accelerated infrastructure build times. In this instance think build and increase capital required for infrastructure projects (pole and wires builds and maintenance needs to cater for the demand growth). Emergency Response (ER) is an energy security problem and is reactionary to large events with little warning.

CO2Land org also notes success with DP and that DR has been implemented in a number of electricity markets. This includes DR for Reserve Capacity in Western Australia’s Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM) which works very well.  In New Zealand, with a focus on frequency control being particularly important.

In hindsight, the lack of an effective DR mechanism in the NEM has cost electricity users an estimated Present Value (PV) of $15.8 Billion[1] (this is in the order of a 9% impost on their annual electricity bills).  The power to change is with you.

Previously CO2Land org posted, 7 Sept 2012, The Power of Choice – review by AEMC of DR and to recap the “Power of Choice” Review is an unfinished work, and CO2Land org has experience in the material of Demand Response (DR). DR is most effective as a formal aggregation of small amounts of demand reduction from a larger electricity users who are contracted to reduce this pre-agreed amount of their demand at times when their are extreme wholesale prices, extreme peaks in demand or in emergencies.  It is much cheaper way to address these short term events than our current outdated approach of spending billions of dollars on more generators and networks which are only needed for a total of about 40 hours per year.

References to support this view are:


  • Alan Fels, Chair of ACCC, speaking at the Inaugural EUAA Conference on 19 November 2001
  • The Parer Review 2002 “Towards A Truly National And Efficient Energy Market”
  • The EUAA April 2004 “Trial of a Demand Side Response Facility for the National Electricity Market”
  • The ERIG Review November 2006 “Review of Energy Related Financial Markets”
  • Stages 1 & 2 of the Demand Side Participation Review (Stage 3 still in progress)

Wellness for Cities – Greenings naturally

Adapting with climate change, rather than ‘to’ is proving to have multiple benefits. At the city levels the buildings can be our food sources, and can be improved to be more energy efficient, even the street can be better designed to help shield the needs for more energy.

Posted on 9 Sept 2012 was a story of innovation on using cities as part of our food production “Another way to design for food production” this story is also a must read for it also tackles the city problems and the innovation needed to prepare for the future. Featured: Stockolm’s purpose build highrise gardens and a Melbourne Hatch System enterprise.

The following is a post on Chicago and how the city is doing more to prepare for coping with climate change: The scene is set with the iconic CITY HALL building installing an impressive green roof in the city. The building has a 7010m2 (23,000 square foot) green roof and serves as a test bed for researching and measuring the impact of green roofs. This one innovation saves the city about $3600 a year in heating and cooling for the building and can reduce the external surface temperature of the building by as much as 80 degrees Fahrenheit! The roof features a spectacular rooftop garden and grows more than 100 plant species. A rainwater collection system irrigates the roof and several bee hives pollinate the many flower varieties. The plants on the rooftop soak up the sun’s heat to evaporate water, keeping both the buildings underneath and the air above it cooler. It is further claimed an expanded similar project for all roofs in Chicago could save $100 million in energy every year, and help absorb stormwater runoff.

Chicago is known for its climate extremes and residents can endure days of summer when the heat index reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit. “The city’s annual average temperature has increased by 2.5 degrees since 1945, according to this climate assessment created by a consortium of scientists and commissioned by the city”. Of even more worry is that it is no longer about peak heat, the problem extends as an increase in ambient temperature rises.

To do more the city is working to engineer that it can stay cooler using less energy even as temperatures rise by putting into place innovative ideas and concepts. The green roof is one, and another combating the ‘urban heat island effect’. Simply, concrete and pavement, which absorb and trap heat, make cities like Chicago hotter than surrounding rural areas. Buildings soak up the sun’s rays during the day and release that heat into the night. Additional research (Joseph Fernando of University of Notre Dame) shows that Chicago is about four to five degrees warmer than the neighbouring rural town because of this effect. It is also a worrying trend discovered in research that it is shown that urban sites and rural sites are warming at about the same rate (Thomas Peterson, chief climatologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). It does appear by the evidence all life styles are suffering because of climate change: You should also read: Global climate data shows the Earth has been warming increasingly over time.

Hat tip to that city’s officials for the $7 billion plan to build a “new Chicago” (source: Karen Weigert, the city’s chief sustainability officer).  That means renovating citywide infrastructure from sidewalk to rooftop. The additional innovation and steps taken by the city include:

  • Chicago already has 359 green roofs covering almost 5.5 million square feet — that’s more than any other city in North America. City planners are pushing for even more.
  • Chicago has mandated that all new buildings that require any public funds must be “LEED” Certified — designed with energy efficiency in mind — and that usually includes a green roof. Any project with a green roof in its plan gets a faster permitting process. That combined with energy savings is the kind of green that incentivizes developers.

But the city is looking beyond buildings — they’re hitting the streets too:

  • That’s why they’re designing new streetscapes that integrate technology and design elements from widened sidewalks for increased pedestrian traffic to tree and plant landscaping that provide shade. The pavements are made of a light reflecting material mix that includes recycled tire pieces and lanes coated with a microthin concrete layer that keep the street from absorbing so much heat.
  • Chicago’s 3058 klms (1,900 miles) of alleyways traditionally absorb heat and cast away potentially cooling rainwater. But new ‘green alleys’ use permeable pavement that absorb rainwater. As that underground water evaporates that also keeps the alley and air around it cool.

CO2Land org enjoys hearing these stories and in particular where cities consider they need to be looking beyond buildings and streets as just a place where we move vehicles and goods. They need to be places that integrate technology and design elements for a better place.

California’s ‘carbon market mandate’

Announced is California’s Bill for funding green industries, also known as the ‘carbon market mandate’. The headline “State’s Biggest Polluters to Become Funders of Sustainable Farms posted by  – Sun, Oct 7, 2012” and is an intriguing insight into what they are doing and what we are tackling here in Australia in terms of the Carbon Farming Initiative.  Have we got it wrong? Too many initiatives and not enough carrots, and CO2land org has previously published that the Nuffield Australian Farming Scholars say that the long-term capacity of Australian agriculture to compete and succeed internationally will be determined by the ability of Australian farmers to recognise changing consumer preferences, adopt new technologies and production practices and maintain the sustainability of their operations by protecting their production environment  (posted on July 6, 2012 by co2land  “The most innovative Australians are Farmers”).

Looking at what the Californian’s have done: They have taken the approach that big business can be encouraged from polluting the environment, and they can be simultaneously funding green industries through an auction permit system. The move is under the California state passed Assembly Bill 1532 (AB 1532), also known as the “carbon market mandate.” It is labeled as a boon for the state, environmentally and financially. Significant fees are levied to major corporate polluters, and those fees are invested into eco-friendly businesses that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The state aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050.

The official start for the purchase of permits at auction (called “carbon pollution allowances”) starts November 2012. It obliges the state’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters― like power plants and large manufacturers to participate and “the revenue from those auctions is expected to reach into the billions of dollars in the next year, pumping some desperately needed funds back into California’s economy”, Forbes reports.

CO2Land org has noted it is intended that auction revenues channel into green businesses, this includes sustainable farming, and to be encouraging corporate polluters to find more eco-friendly methods of conducting business. In their states ‘approved list’ a green business includes sustainable agriculture and this includes farms that “sequester carbon” with methods like reducing soil tillage, practicing water and energy conservation, and reducing synthetic fertilizer use through compost, cover crops, and crop rotation.

If you are thinking California is the first state in the US to try a carbon market mandate of some sort, you might be interested to know that Grist reports “that a group of northeastern states, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has been practicing a similar system since 2008. But in RGGI’s case, it charges carbon allowances exclusively to power plants, whereas California’s plan spans across all sectors of business, dependent on a company’s overall pollutants, not its category”.

As you would expect arguments are springing that the plan for the carbon market cap could be bad for business; it will put too high of a burden on companies, which in turn will either wither and close, or will force those costs onto their customers. It is an interesting experiment to follow and right or wrong CO2land org understands the motivation of the state of California: To not destroy its environment for the sake of boosting commerce. There is no time left to experiment with the future.