domingo, agosto 12, 2007

OCEANIA: Australia eyes solar

Australian Prime Minister John Howard announced he will allot nearly $300 million in green vouchers for schools to improve energy and water efficiency.

'Every school in Australia will be eligible for a voucher of up (to approximately) $44,000 to help install solar hot water systems and rainwater tanks,' Howard said in a speech, according to his Web site.

'Not only will this help reduce energy and conserve water, but it will provide students and our school communities with a first-hand lesson in how we can act locally to preserve the environment,' he said Tuesday.

However, some said the money could be more wisely spent.

'Schools are being used 200 days a year. So, for half the year that hot water`s not going to be used,' Professor Tim Flannery told reporters in the capital, Canberra.

'If you want to maximize emission abatements, you put those solar hot-water units on houses where there is a demand 365 days a year for hot water,' Flannery said, according to a report by the Sydney Morning Herald.

'Instead of spending a dollar and getting 50 cents back, you`ll be spending a dollar and getting a dollar`s worth of value,' Flannery said.

And while he allowed that Howard`s hot-water project was also educational, according to the newspaper, he qualified that statement: 'Even so, you could still look at putting solar panels on schools where you generate electricity that would be used somewhere in the grid.'

According to Howard, his hot-water initiative for schools is just the latest step in a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The series of steps, dating back to 1990, 'will prevent about 87 million tons of climate-changing carbon a year entering the atmosphere by 2010.'

'That`s a massive reduction and a tangible example of (the Howard government`s) commitment to the climate change challenge,' he said.

New Zealand also saw an uptick in solar energy activity this week, when SunSeeker Energy (Australasia) went public on the New Zealand stock exchange, NZAX. The company 'said it was now a subsidiary of the New Zealand-listed entity and expected to begin production for Asia, Australia and New Zealand this month,' the New Zealand Herald reported.

'The Australian company said it chose the NZAX after research revealed `(a) pro-business attitude ... plus the cost-effective option of compliance listing,`' according to the report.

'The move was a good fit for us and our existing shareholders, as at this early stage in the company`s development we are not seeking to raise public capital,' the newspaper quoted SunSeeker`s chairman, Geoffrey Taylor, as saying.

The company said on its Web site its 'engineers have designed a solar energy unit that utilizes segments of trough concentrator optics to focus the energy from the sun on a photovoltaic array.'

This somewhat ambiguous description has led critics to question the decision to list the company so early: 'Frankly, there is hardly any information available and that makes any assessment of the company`s prospects, even at the most basic level, difficult,' Bruce McKay a director of niche banker Saffron Capital, wrote Wednesday in Wellington, New Zealand`s Dominion Post.

'Clearly, the plan is to raise capital to build manufacturing capacity, sales and marketing channels and the necessary company and administration facilities, but how much is an open question. The ... product is a new technology and there is no information as to how this might be received by potential purchasers,' McKay said.

He said: '(SunSeeker Energy`s) only asset is a 32 per cent shareholding in a company called Sun Seeker Energy (UK) Ltd, a British-based company that holds the rights for the marketing and manufacture of SunSeeker`s products in Australasia, and is negotiating to acquire the rights for the British market.'

According to the New Zealand Herald, the company`s technology is not yet patented.
Via: Monster & Critics

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