The federal government has announced its latest Carbon Farming Initiative methodology, with the announcement that Indigenous land managers and farmers in northern Australia will now be able to generate revenue for reducing emissions through savanna fire management. Using the savanna burning methodology, the timing of savanna burning would be moved to earlier in the dry season, and the area burnt would be reduced, thus reducing the amount of fuel burnt, which would reduce emissions of the potent greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide.
“The savanna burning methodology marks a significant milestone in the sustainable economic development of northern Australia and complements the work of the Northern Australia Ministerial Forum (NAMF),” Simon Crean, Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, said on Wednesday. “Carbon farming opens up a myriad of opportunities across the three northern jurisdictions, a matter discussed when the Forum met in Mount Isa last December,” he said.
While Joe Ludwig, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, said he was pleased to see that the savanna burning methodology had been approved, “providing another opportunity for those in northern Australia.” The savanna burning methodology was developed by government in close consultation with Indigenous groups and the CSIRO, and assessed by the independent Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee. Indigenous land managers using the savanna burning methodology will also be supported through the federal government’s $22 million Indigenous Carbon Farming Fund, which was set up to provide capacity building, business development support, and expert legal advice.
More mess and noise for the wind industry
A little over a month after a CSIRO study found that there was a strong level of support for wind farms in NSW, SA and Victoria ”from rural residents who do not seek media attention or political engagement to express their views,” the NSW government has commissioned an independent noise audit of three wind projects, citing complaints from locals. ReCharge News reports that the state’s planning and infrastructure minister, Brad Hazzard, says the checks are being carried out because the department is continuing to receive complaints from nearby residents – and despite previous investigations finding the plants to be complying with noise limits.
But Infigen Energy, whose 140MW Capital Wind Farm and 48MW Woodlawn projects are among those to be checked – has questioned the motives for another audit now. “Given that these wind farms have already passed the most stringent noise assessments, we can only assume that there must be some political motivation to undertake further testing,” an Infigen spokesman said. ReCharge reports that the checks come as the NSW government consults on its proposed state-wide wind farm guidelines, which Hazzard has described as the “toughest in the world.”
Origin Energy, owners of the 30MW Cullerin Range wind farm, the third project to be audited, have reportedly welcomed the audit and any objective view it might provide. “We take noise conditions very seriously and are pleased that the minister has reaffirmed that the Cullerin Range Wind Farm is compliant with noise limits,” an Origin spokesperson said.
Some other opinions, however, were not so diplomatic. Sky News reports that NSW Greens MP John Kaye described the move as a continuation of the state government’s “holy war against renewable energy.” Kaye said that the O’Farrell government was “victimising” wind farms “on behalf of the loudest voices,” and without proper consideration of their role as a “crucial component of the solution to the state’s 60 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.” And Opposition environment spokesman Luke Foley accused the government of “pandering to flat-earthers” opposed to wind energy: “All the signals the government is sending out are hostile to the development of wind energy in this state,” Foley said.
Apple’s solar plans revealed
We’ve known for a while now about Apple’s plans to build a solar array to power its massive data center in North Carolina, but the tech giant’s much talked about solar plans have been fairly lite on detail – until now. GigaOm reports that Apple’s latest environmental report has revealed that its solar project will be quite substantial, at 20MW; will be built on 100 acres and will supply the company with 42 million kWh of solar power per year. Apple has described the project as “the nation’s largest end user–owned, onsite solar array.” And, as GigaOm points out, as “user-owned, onsite solar” arrays go, it is pretty impressive; but then it’s nowhere near the size of the up-to 550MW utility-scale PV projects currently being built in the US.
Apple also plans to build a 5MW fuel cell farm at its data center, says GigaOm, that will use biogas (biomass-to-fuel), and which the company expects to go online later this year. On a roll, Apple calls this project “the largest non-utility fuel cell installation operating anywhere in the country.” Apple already has a 500kW biogas-powered fuel cell at its Cupertino facility.