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Cut emissions and save on household bills

From BEAM blog

 Seymour and surrounds can reduce their carbon emissions to zero with four simple steps.

Trent Hawkins, Project Director of the Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan, will talk about how this can be done at the Energy Futures Forum in Seymour on November 16.

Energy Futures Forum: Victorian Railways Institute Hall (near Seymour Station Bus Terminal), Seymour, Saturday 16 Nov, 2-5pm. Entry by gold coin.

The four steps are going gas free, fixing the building envelopes, installing energy efficient appliances and lighting, and rooftop solar to power every home.

Energy freedom on or off the grid?

By Ben Courtice. Chain Reaction #119, Nov 2013

It's long been a favoured wish of many environmentalists to go off the grid, to be self-sufficient in energy and other services, and avoid the corporate utilities and their coal-powered electricity. The ambition for freedom from energy bills and fossil-fuel electricity is understandable.

I was born and lived until the age of eight in an off-grid Queenslander farmhouse. We didn't even have a telephone. The most energy intensive technology we had was a kerosene-powered refrigerator which we ran some of the time. Of course, living far from the city, we were able to use wood for heating and cooking. Living off-grid was easy enough if you didn't mind the low-tech lifestyle.

And now in the age of relatively cheap solar panels (which weren't around in the 1970s), you can live off the grid and use a huge battery attached to a large array of solar PV (photovoltaic) panels, to maintain a hi-tech lifestyle on clean solar energy.

Cooking without gas

A zero carbon future means ditching gas for solar power.

By Michael Green. From The Age, November 3, 2013

Together, Australia's houses could produce more electricity than they use, according to think tank Beyond Zero Emissions. And the transition need not take long.

The analysis, released recently in its Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan, shows that comprehensively retrofitting our buildings with insulation, double-glazing and efficient lighting and appliances could more than halve their energy use.

On our rooftops, we have space to accommodate enough solar panels so that our homes would collectively produce more energy than they consume, averaged over a year.

Methane matters: Is the future electric?

Richard Keech critically examines the sustainability of gas.

From Renew, magazine of the Alternative Technology Association, issue 125

I’VE heard it said that 50% of what we’ve learnt is probably wrong; the trick is knowing which 50%. I submit that the received wisdom that gas is a clean fuel is probably wrong.

Consider more generally the burning of materials for their direct energy content. The use of wood, then coal, then oil and gas has underpinned the entire arc of human progress and achievement. But the advent of electricity meant much of that combustion no longer took place with the end user. At a time when renewable energy sources such as solar thermal, solar PV and wind can displace increasingly large amounts of that burning, why are we still persisting with policies that favour the burning of gas?

Fighting the fuel giants for a fully renewable future

Tackling the world’s most powerful corporations, whose interest it is to continue consuming fossil fuels, is a formidable but essential task

By Antony Loewenstein. From The Guardian, Friday 25 October 2013.

The viability of a fossil fuel future is rarely connected to the human rights abuses required to sustain it. How often do we think about where oil and gas is obtained? Are the Europeans or Americans any more aware? This deliberate depoliticisation of our energy present, by the vast majority of politicians, journalists and self-described public intellectuals, is leading to an environment that is both unsustainable and dangerous for the planet.

Abbott's action - direct hit or direct flop?

By Stephen Bygrave. Published in Climate Spectator, 21 Oct 2013

With the Abbott government pinning all its hopes on its 'direct action' scheme to meet its stated commitment to a 5 per cent emissions reduction by 2020, it is worth exploring the past failures and lessons arising from direct action approaches.

Because Australia has ratified the Kyoto Protocol, a failure by the government on direct action would not only be failure for the Australian people, but a national failure as well as a failure to meet our international emissions reduction commitments.

To put direct action in context, it is important to examine past approaches to direct action in Australia and internationally, and lessons from that experience.

Living Green: Power in Renewables

Dr. Jenny Riesz, Newcastle Herald, Sept. 8, 2013

THE Australian Energy Market Operator released a landmark study last month, showing that Australia could reliably supply 100 per cent of its power needs from renewable energy.

AEMO is the organisation responsible for "keeping the lights on" for the entire east coast of Australia, so its assessment is comprehensive and conservative. This means its determination that 100 per cent renewable energy is feasible carries a hefty credibility.

What does urban rail really cost to build?

The official estimate of the cost to build the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel is $9 billion but some advocates claim it’s only $3 billion. What explains the huge difference in these two claims?

By Alan Davies. From Crikey.com, Oct 2 2013.

Last week I discussed the worrying tendency of some involved in public discussion of urban issues to treat the facts as if they’re optional (Infrastructure: does getting the facts right matter anymore?). In particular, I pointed to a list of rail projects formulated by Trains Not Toll Roads where the claimed costs in some instances are, I believe, misleadingly low.

One of those projects is the proposed Melbourne Metro rail tunnel. Trains Not Toll Roads, acting on the basis of research by the transport team at Beyond Zero Emissions Inc (BZE), claims the cost of construction would be $3 billion. This is wildly at odds with the accepted estimate of at least $9 billion.

Energy efficiency ‘cheaper than renewables’

All fired up, l to r:  local energy expert Colin George from Cool Planet,  Qld GM of Beyond Zero Emissions Emma Bosworth, lead researcher and presenter Trent Hawkins and Transition Byron Shire’s Sapoty Brook at last night’s event.

Sapoty Brook, Transition Byron Shire -- Echonet Daily

Energy efficiency is a cheaper and easier way than renewables to get reductions in carbon emissions, a new report has found.

And reverse-cycle air-conditioning should replace gas heaters because it uses 80 per cent less energy.

Heat pumps also are better than solar hot water in winter in cooler climates, according to Trent Hawkins, project coordinator for the Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan.

These were some of the controversial findings of the report, sponsored by Beyond Zero Emissions, which Mr Hawkins presented to a full house at the Byron Sport and Cultural Complex last night.

Time to ditch the redundant gas network

By Ben Courtice. RenewEconomy

In the record-breaking heatwave that led up to the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, an estimated 374 people died due to the heat – before the fires even started. This is more than double the official figure of 173 deaths in the fires themselves.

Hot weather is a bugbear for many Australians. For the majority, living in temperate areas, summer heatwaves are a source of dread – and not just for the frail, or those in bushfire-prone areas.

It’s even become a topic of national debate – but not because of the early deaths of vulnerable people, or the sweaty discomfort. Rather, because so many people now have air-conditioners due to which electricity networks have implemented expensive network upgrades to cater to peak demand on a few hot days or weeks a year.

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