Monday, May 27, 2013

Australia's Biggest Wind Farm

Recently Victoria's Macarthur 140-turbine wind farm was officially opened. Providing enough power for 220,000 homes that means each turbine makes enough power for a town of 1500 homes (around 4000 people).

Though it's a lot of area, the land can still be used for sheep and cattle grazing as before - and the farmers receive payment for the use of their land (about $5,000 per MW). By my maths, that would mean farmers of this region would be receiving about $2.1 million each year, from the 420 MW wind farm.

For me this sounds like such a great story. Producing sizeable amounts of renewable energy and providing a second source of income for the farming community. In fact, sometimes, during tough farming years, windpower can save the farm.

PS. While this is the biggest wind farm in Australia (hopefully a record that is soon beaten) the world's biggest is much larger - 1064 MW in India.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Chasing Ice

Chasing Ice is an extreme documentary, by a guy who decided to photograph climate change as it happens. In unbelievable locations, he sets up cameras to do time-lapse photography as the landscapes disappear.

In the trailer, he remarks that this landscape may never be seen again in human civilisation, but that it's captured "here" (as he holds up his camera memory card).

Even if the movie never makes it to Australia, the trailer alone has some stunning scenes.

See the Chasing Ice website for details on screenings and releases.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Most Ridiculous Thing At Work

We've all seen ridiculous things at work. One of them is energy wastage. It's funny when we see other things being as obviously wasted as energy is.

This ad is the sequel to the Most Ridiculous Thing (home version) in the Powersmart campaign in Canada. I love the tag line:

The most ridiculous thing about wasting power is that for some reason we don't think it is ridiculous.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Low-price Energy Meters at Aldi

One step to saving energy at home is to know where your electricity is going. From Saturday (while stocks last) Aldi have these energy meters for $14.99.

Energy meter available at Aldi

To me that sounds like a good price, I got mine for $30 a few years ago, and (from the picture) this one looks to have much the same functions.

If you get one, here's how to convert the reading (in Watts) into a more meaningful number, like financial cost.

Dollars per year = Watts x hours of use per week x 0.052 x 0.25378

The last number is the price of electricity in dollars, which may differ depending on where you live.

PS. The Aldi sale appears to be an energy theme - there are also LED bulbs available again.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Do The Math movie launches internationally

Tonight is the official international launch of the new documentary movie Do the Math. It will screen at a variety of venues around town. Find a screening near you. Here's the trailer for the film.

Next month, the star of the film, Bill KcKibben will be on tour in Australia.

UPDATE: The screenings are over, but the movie is still available online.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What 400 means

This is probably a more concise explanation (than my earlier one) of the effects of carbon dioxide levels reaching 400.

Thanks, Climate Reality Project.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Big Fuel Discount! (not for you)

You might be happy with the 4-cents-off-petrol voucher you get from the supermarket. But that's nothing compared to the discount mining companies get. While you pay full price for your fuel, mining companies can claim back 32 cents per litre from the government!

ACF graphic illustrating the taxpayer-funded fuel discount given to mining companies

Mining companies use a lot of fuel. That creates a lot of greenhouse emissions - and there's little incentive for them to be more efficient, because their fuel is so heavily subsidised.

To make things worse, the taxes on us have to be higher - to make up for the fuel tax not paid for by the mining companies.

This photo was going around facebook, as part of a campaign to get this perverse subsidy removed in this year's federal budget (announced tonight).

publicity photo demonstrating the 32 cent taxpayer funded subsidy for mining companies

Related Posts: 2 Billion Dollars - Why you pay more

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Sad First for Humanity.

This week the level of carbon dioxide in the air reached 400. [Check out the live charts]

How significant is that? Well it's never been this high in all of human history. In fact, it's only been in the last 50 years that it has got much above 300.

50 years of carbon dioxide levels

What does all this mean? What can we compare it to?

270-280 was the level before the industrialised age.

299 is the highest archeological (ice core) reading - this occured about 330,000 years ago. (Again, before humans)

350 is the upper limit of what is considered at all safe. (And the reason chose that name)

400 is where we are now, and that is predicted to be 450 by 2037.

So how bad is 400?

As I mentioned earlier, levels have been around 400 before. More than 3 million years ago. That world was 3-4°C warmer (almost 10 degrees warmer near the poles) and sea level was 5-40 metres higher than now.

I think it's time we got serious about eliminating carbon emissions.

[Related link: 400 vs 350 in one picture]

Thursday, May 02, 2013

How to Insulate Your Home

With winter coming on in Australia, many people are thinking about keeping warm and saving money. So the ATA has put together this webinar on insulation.

Sustainable building specialist Tony Isaacs discusses the different types of insulation, and give recommendations for different climates and house types. The ATA also has other webinars, such as lighting and energy efficiency.

The ATA also run an event called Speed Date a Sustainable Designer. It's for people building or renovating a home, and provides the chances to have some 15 minutes "dates" with some of Australia’s best green designers.