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Monday, January 18, 2010

Comment from Rob Wesley_Smith regarding heavy fuel power station in Hera

Response to Hera power station, and Fretilin comments‏

From: on behalf of robert wesley-smith (
Mon 1/18/10 12:07 PM
Ee spending nearly $400 m on massive old technology power stations, 
and a massive power grid
Kangaroo Valley late last year in conjunction with, and relying on the 
technological expertise of ATA (Australian Technology Association), 
installed 120 Solar power lighting systems for house in remote 
villages in Remexio. At $150 each installed, it gets power to places 
it is hard to imagine power lines reaching in the near future if 
ever. Each supplied house gets a solar panel, high tech battery, 2 
general lights and a brighter LED array to allow for reading and home 
work. Early experience indicates that neighbouring children are 
coming over to study. The installation was primarily done by village 
locals after some training, and similarly will be maintained. Plans 
are developing for beneficiaries to do some community work such as 
planting trees on the contour to improve water retention. The 
installations emit NO atmospheric pollution or global warming gases. 
Another brace of lights is planned for this year. Also, it is quite 
feasible to add in battery charging stations etc for little extra cost.
Lets look at costs per fitting 100,000 rural households, even at $150 
per house, though one imagines with bulk supplies this cost may come 
100,000 x $150 = $15 million.
200,000 homes X $150 = $30 million.
500,000 homes (are there that many?) x $150 is less than $100 million.
Then add in clay stoves like Haburas is making and selling for $6, 
with recycled cooking blocks:
or say $100 for american designed bigger 2 burner cooking plus clay 
100,000 x $6 = $600,000 100,000 x $100 = $10,000,000
200,000 x $6 = $1.2 million 200,000 x $100 = $20 million.
500,000 x $6 = $3 million
So, for $100 m, all homes in East Timor could be fitted with light and 
fuel efficient cooking, all built by locals, and easily maintained or 
replaced. The clay stoves have yet to be carefully experimented with 
to ensure maximum efficiency for various types of fuel, and minimal 
smoke, so there is improvement to come. They are 'cooked' over 
unsophisticated fairly open fires which also could be improved a great 
deal. In my experience few Timorese understand the concept of 
experimentation to improve design, to instill this concept will also 
result in more 'home' improvement. Also, of course, this is not for 
24 hour/day power, but hey, people sleep, and daylight is available 
most days for many hours.
If agreement had resulted in some Bayu Undan gas coming to its country 
of origin, then industry which relies on that might have been promoted 
for years. If agreements over Greater Sunrise results in some gas 
available for East Timor use, then again some industry will be possibe.
Bear in mind the East Timor government is talking about $400 million 
for a Chinese supplied power scheme which many do not believe will 
succeed as claimed. Well it may, I'm not claiming expertise in that 
matter. But East Timor is a very mountainous country. Will 
powerlines require clearing underneath? If so, how many trees will 
be lost, how much erosion will be caused? How many East Timorese have 
the skills or will gain the skills to build and maintain all this? 
(One could ask, as comparison, how many East Timorese are gaining 
skills in the oil and gas industry with Conoco Phillips?) How much 
global warming will be caused? Will remote villages get power? As 
against gaining credits for tree planting which can be sold as 
necessary. Just a few questions which spring to mind. Do the 
Ministries for Environment, and Social Security, have a say, and an 
informed say, in these massive decisions?
This contribution has been inspired by the Fretilin comment on the 
President's PR re doing environment assessment on an ongoing basis, 
something considered 'innovative' and illegal. But many have tried to 
make such points before, without success. Maybe it is too early in 
the self-government cycle for enough experience to have been gained. 
Does the ETG appreciate informed advice??
Rob Wesley-Smith
Ph in Darwin, Australia 08 89832113

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