Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The End of Coal?

This graphic from AYCC sums up the great amount of coal shutdowns i wrote about recently. By using less energy, and moving to cleaner forms of energy, we've eliminated the need for 4000MW of coal-based power.

That's a huge amount of power. Lighting a major sports stadium uses just 2MW. So we're talking the equivalent of 2000 stadiums. Well done Australia!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

EzyGreen Challenge

Here in Brisbane, the EzyGreen group are running a 6-week energy challenge. Each week they send out an email challenge with 3 energy-saving tasks. As well as saving energy, there's also prizes to be won! :)

I guess in a way it's kind of like those 'bootcamps' that people do for a number of weeks. Except instead of improving your fitness or your waistline, it's you energy bill that benefits from the exercise.

You still have a few days to sign up before the challenges start. So sign up on the EzyGreen Challenge website.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Charging Up The Leaf

Last week i wrote about my ride in a Leaf. Today i'm writing about (or at least showing pictures of) the charging. First is the chargepoint installed in the garage for home charging.

No more visits to the petrol station. No more queueing for fuel. Just charge up from home. In fact, the car can be charged from Rob's phone. (Just like in the ad). The phone display shows the number of kilometres still available and how much charging time is needed for full charge.

Should the situation arise where Rob needs to charge away from home, the Leaf comes with this handy cable - with one very familiar-looking end, and the other end for the car.

I should also mention that Rob is signed up to 100% greenpower, so in addition to not having to buy petrol, his driving is also powered by renewable energy.

He also has the charger connect to an off-peak (economy) tariff which means he gets about a 30% discount for charging in off-peak times (another thing that wouldn't happen with petrol).

[Read Part 1 - Riding in the Leaf]

Friday, October 26, 2012

Recycle Your Batteries at Aldi

Got used batteries that you'd rather not put in landfill? The helpful website Recycling Near You tells me that Aldi now offer free battery recycling in every store in Australia.

Household batteries (AA, AAA, C, D and 9V) can be dropped off into one of the battery-style bins. (For other battery types, see

A battery holds only a few cents' worth of energy - most of the value is in the physical product, so it's a good idea not to waste that. Especially when we are throwing away millions of them each year - 8,000 tonnes according to Aldi.

Bonus tip: For uses where you go through a lot of batteries, rechargeable batteries are a good way of reducing waste, and saving money.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Smarter Washing

Found this handy advice on the side of a packet of laundry powder.

Apart from the great stat of saving 80% on power, it also linked to that brand's website. Among other things, it has a washing calculator which estimates how much you could save by taking on their tips - like air drying clothes (rather than in the dryer), selecting cold water and washing full loads.

This screenshot is from a pretty extreme case, but you can work out your own savings by entering your own figures.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The People's Review

As i've mentioned before, the Australian government is reviewing the nation's Renewable Energy Target (RET) of 20% by 2020. A couple of community groups have come together with a great initiative - The People's RET Review.

The idea is to enable the people some say in the outcome. We all know the big energy companies (including my energy biller) will be making their voices heard (to decrease the target). So this is the chance for the Australian people to have our say.

Apart from voicing your opinion, there are also some interesting facts to discover along the way. For instance Scotland has already committed to 100% renewable energy!

Have your say in the People's RET Review

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Ride In A Leaf

My friend Rob is the proud new owner of a Nissan Leaf electric car, and was nice enough to take me and some friends for a ride in it. It's hard to take photos of the quietness and the lack of emissions, but here's a quick summary.

One of the first things i noticed was the 'gearstick' - with just P,R,N and D. Nissan's CV transmission means having the convenience of an auto, but with an even better range of gears.

So one of the first things we did was test the gears (and the power). Dispelling any myth about electric cars not having enough power, we cruised up one of the steeper streets in Brisbane - and without the neighbourhood-shaking sound a petrol car would make.

Another major difference was the dashboard display, which calculates your driving efficiency, and (for those with range anxiety) how much distance you have remaining.

The circles across the top indicate the power flow. This photo shows the car at rest. The dot moves to the right to indicate how much power is being consumed, and to the left when you are braking - to show how much power is being recycled back into the battery.

Despite what i said earlier about the difficulty of photographing an absence of emissions, Rob had this sticker on his old car. Clever :)

[Read Part 2 - Charging the Leaf]

Thursday, October 18, 2012

More Coal Shut Downs

Recently i rejoiced about Munmorah closing down. Now Tarong (here in Queensland) and Yallourn have announced the shut-down of 700MW and 360MW of generation, respectively. This takes the count to five recent shut-down announcements by coal-fired power stations (totalling about 3000MW).

To put some scale to this news, my back-of-the-envelope maths has the 360MW generator putting out about 510 tonnes of pollution every hour it runs. Obviously the 700MW would be even more. Now that they're shutting down, that a lot of greenhouse gas not being produced.

As i mentioned yesterday, this is the positive outcome from years of being energy efficient and installing solar power. (Of course, the other benefit is paying lower electricity bills).

PS. I later discovered a graphic of the shut-down coal power stations.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Australia - Doing More With Less

Energy data for the 3rd quarter of this year is now available. The Conversation published this comparison of the same period for each year. The red dots show the average electricity use.

Not only did we stop increasing our energy use each year, but we actually turned it around to use less electricity - a big achievement especially considering the growth in population. Our power usage was on track to be 25 by this year, but we brought it down to 21.

Home solar power and energy efficiency are thought to be the main reasons behind this amazing achievement. Well done Australia - keep up the good work. :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bill and Tony in the news

I've written before about the flimsy and misleading attempts to portray a price on carbon polllution as being something bigger than it is. Another such incident happened in the Australian parliament this week. A supporter of the opposition party sent in her bill which was twice the amount of her previous bill.

Without too much checking of the facts, the opposition leader tabled the bill in parliament and attempted to blame the carbon price. Once the bill was tabled, and the government held it up, it was obvious even to the parliament cameras that the person's electricity usage had also doubled in the same period.

It should be fairly obvious that double the usage means double the bill.

The opposition leader was accused of misleading parliament

Surely when attacks on the carbon price have reached this level of desperation, it is time to realise that the impact is not as bad as all the huffing and puffing would have had us believe.

[Related Link: Beliefs vs Reality]
[Related Link: It's Really Not That Big - Part 1 and Part 2]

Friday, October 12, 2012

Well played, neighbour

A little while ago I mentioned how the new Queensland government
slashed the solar bonus. But they did give a couple of weeks for people to register under the old scheme (causing an accidental solar boom).

On the final day of the scheme i noticed this brand new system on my neighbours' roof - presumably registered under the old (more rewarding) scheme. A good financial decision, and a good environmental decision. That's what i call a convenient solution. Well played, neighbour - well played!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Save Money and Energy - the guide

The ATA have put out another helpful guide to help people save money and energy. It features a handful of tips for each area of the house (and one for transport) in an easy-to-read format.

It also has specific information and assistance for renters and for people struggling financially. Many of the tips can be done at low cost, or for free. To quote the last page of the guide, "Saving energy and saving money on your power bills can be easy. There are many easy and inexpensive things you can do to make your home cheaper to run and more comfortable."

They're what we call "Convenient Solutions"!

[Download the guide]
[Read more about it]

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

20 Days

A friend shared with me this great graphic about the abundance of renewable energy.

It's more readable at its original size, but points out that all of the fossil fuels the human race has ever discovered equate to the solar energy that hits the earth in 20 days. Wow!

Monday, October 08, 2012

Solar-powered Sport

This weekend was round 1 of Australia's basketball season, and it was a pleasant surprise to see the Adelaide 36ers with a solar company as their major sponsor.

As it turns out the same company also sponsors the soccer team Adelaide United.

I like it. As well as seeing more promotion of solar power, it's also good to see that solar is doing well enough to sponsor top-level Austalian teams.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Give and Take

Yes, there's now over 7 billion of us, but the message is still true.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

TV - Walk for Solar

Here's the video of last weekend's Walk for Solar.

One of my highlights was Dr Karl emphasising that solar is cheaper (in the long term) as well as being more planet-friendly. The hard part will be to get decision makers to think about the long term, not just the next few years.

PS. Apparently there was also cover on ABC News Breakfast, Channel 7 and Channel 9.