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Innovative new project aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

29 February, 2008

In a major step towards becoming a green community, commercial energy users in Victoria’s Castlemaine district has officially began work on an innovative project to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The project is the first of its kind in Victoria and sees KR Castlemaine, Flowserve, Victoria Carpets and the Mount Alexander Hospital commit to collectively reduce 2006 greenhouse gas emissions levels by 30 per cent by 2010.

The partners, including CSIRO, has signed a Collaboration Agreement to mark the commencement of this innovative sustainable energy initiative, called the Maine’s Power project.

Dr John Wright, Director of CSIRO Energy Transformed National Research Flagship, applauded the early action and collaborative approach the community has embraced to tackle the complex issues of climate change and energy use.

“The success of this project relies on the strength of the partnerships, driven by a motivated and focused community,” Dr Wright said.

This agreement heralds the beginning of an eight month project which aims to assess current energy demand, reduce energy consumption and explore the introduction of innovative technology to provide low emission power generation to the Mount Alexander Shire.

“The businesses involved will reduce the energy they consume and, at the same time, look at introducing alternative power generation technology. This may involve embedded power generation technologies, including solar and wind power, to create a greener, more energy secure and sustainable future,” Dr Wright said.

The Maine’s Power project is one of several undertaken in communities around the country as part of CSIRO’s Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI). The SCI brings together expertise and resources from a range of organisations from across the public, private and NGO sectors, to work in partnership with communities, to develop and deliver solutions to local sustainability issues.

Rising energy costs and increasing energy demand threaten the vitality of local enterprise in the Mount Alexander Shire. Currently, most of the energy used in the shire is derived from high carbon emission brown coal power stations in the Latrobe Valley. The carbon cost per megawatt of electricity used in the shire is among the highest in Australia, due to the losses of transmission from this source.

Project Coordinator from the Mount Alexander Sustainability Group, Dean Bridgfoot, said local action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions remains an imperative for the continuing economic prosperity of businesses in the region.

“This is a community that understands we have to do something about climate change, because we are already seeing it affect our businesses, our cultural traditions and our economy,” Bridgfoot said.

“That’s why this project is so important. It gets our businesses, leading scientists and other government and non-government organisations together to work out how we will power our factories and houses in the twenty first century.

“We can be proud that we are part of the solution rather than worrying about how we will avoid dealing with the issue.”

The project, undertaken as part of CSIRO’s Sustainable Communities Initiative and the Energy Transformed Flagship, is supported by funding from Regional Development Victoria, Sustainability Victoria - Smart Zones, the Mount Alexander Shire Council, as well as contributions from the local partners.

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