Demand growing for ‘green’ energy

GREEN power generation is becoming a major issue for power generators and retailers.

The Federal Government has introduced legislation making it mandatory for electricity retailers to have 2 per cent of their product mix drawn from ‘green’ generators from January 1.

WA Consolidated Power CEO John Cochrane said one problem retailers of ‘green’ power had was access.

“WACP is a member of the Office of Energy Committee that is trying to form an open access policy,” Mr Cochrane said.

“We want to be able to sell green energy through the system to whoever wants to use it.

“There are some difficulties with selling green energy. For example, when we sell green energy to someone it does not mean it has been generated at that minute.”

Mr Cochrane said there was a “significant” demand for green energy.

“By 2010, the market for green energy will be between 150 megawatts and 200MW,” he said.

“However, while people are interested, they are reluctant to pay anymore than they pay for ‘black’ energy.”

Mr Cochrane said the Government’s 2 per cent target could make it awkward for some WA generators such as Alcoa.

Furthermore, he said some generators were also retailers and would also be hit by the 2 per cent target.

Australia’s east coast-based electricity retailers have banded together to form the Green Electricity Market project, designed to help track and trade rights in ‘green’ electricity.

Companies that reach the mandatory 2 per cent target will be able to trade in renewable energy certificates.

Western Power is showing interest in the GEM project.

A spokesman for the utility said Western Power had entered into discussions with M-Co, the administrator of the GEM project.

He said Western Power was assessing the proposal and M-Co’s offer that the utility joins as a charter member.

“GEM has considerable merit, especially given Western Power’s active role in renewable energy, particularly in the wind energy sector,” the spokesman said.

Western Power has two windfarms operating – one at Denham and one at Esperance.

The utility has entered into a joint venture with Powercorp and German turbine producer Enercon to create wind power generating farms.

The first of these windfarms is being built in Albany and should be finished by 2001.

The installation should service up to 75 per cent of Albany’s power needs.

Mr Eiszele said the joint venture partners believed there were opportunities to supply to WA’s South West grid.

However, to meet the Federal Government’s 2 per cent quota, Western Power will need five Albany windfarms by 2010.

Mr Eiszele said there were currently only two viable green power options – wind generation and biomass.

Besides wind generation, there are two other ‘green’ electricity generation projects under development.

The Blair Fox project aims to use methane derived from chicken litter to generate power. The project is expected to generate 10MW.

WACP has an understanding to distribute any power generated by Blair Fox.

It is also showing strong interest in a wood waste generation plant. This plant would gasify wood waste and could be capable of generating up to 30MW.

Despite setbacks, Derby’s tidal power project also refuses to sink.

Even though a review chaired by Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy managing director Frank Reid reported the project was not economically viable, the WA Government has deferred a final decision.

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