Grow Cook Eat 2016 Festival – All Welcome

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Guest Speaker Forum – Battery Energy storage: Technology options and economic considerations

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Plant to plate On the Grow for kids in the Highlands

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The On the Grow (OtG) team of coordinators is all set to take out the OtG veggie seedling kit to twelve local schools in the first two weeks of February, kicking off at Colo Vale Public School on the 1st February. They will offer an hour-long information/activity session for primary age children The session would involve a potting up activity, educating kids about the importance of backyard food to our health and what they need to know about growing on seedlings to have growing success at home and at school. They will also be providing them with three seedlings each to take home and nurture to maturity until they end up on the dinner plate. Our thanks go to Speedy Seedlings Leppington and Southern Phone Community Grant program for making this project possible.

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Railway Street Farmers Market

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‘Much excitement as the launch day approaches for the new weekly Railway Street Farmers Market on Thursday 28th January. Some of our anchor stalls include:
• Moonacres Farm (Fitzroy Falls) supplying a wide range of certified organic vegetables harvested that day.
• Tennessee Orchard (Yerrimbool) with fresh farm vegetables and their famous apples soon in season
• Flour Water Salt (featured on Food Safari Fire SBS 21st January 8pm) with artisan sourdough bread and pastries
• Snax on Trax – Simona’s organic fair trade coffee and yummy snacks to enjoy while you do the weekly food shopping
• Chiron Farm (Robertson) – Pi Wei’s delicious nashi pears(from February) and backyard treats
• Bare Greens (Canyonleigh) – pick your own salad greens and herbs from live produce towers – couldn’t be more fresh.
• Curly’s Compost to help your home garden grow productively
• Moss Vale and Bundanoon Community Gardens – with a range of produce, preserves, and live plants.
For more information on additional local growers you can meet at the Railway Street Farmers Market go to –
https://www.facebook.com/Railway-Street-Farmers-Market-Moss-Vale-187900588230499/

Community energy for the Highlands

CANWin Speaker, 21 August 2015
…renewable energy projects which are truly win-win projects for the environment, the economy and the local community

Sure beats a coal mine.

Come along and find out more. See you there.

Frackman: What CSG mining does for Australians

UPDATE: The movie Frackman is being screened in GOULBURN 29th May, 6-30 pm at the Soldiers Club, tickets must be bought in advance through http://frackmanthemovie.com/

Dayne Pratzky was chasing the great Australian dream when he upped sticks from the city and moved to Tara in south east Queensland. He bought a bush block to build a house and make a home.

One day a gas company man drove down Dayne’s driveway, “He told me we’re gunna sink a well down the back of your place and if you don’t like it, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Dayne shares his story in a gripping new film that has been five years in the making: Frackman. It’s the real life story of what happened when coal seam gas came to Australia. In Frackman we share Dayne’s trials and triumphs, as he and his neighbours work together to fight back against coal seam gas.
It’s the must-see cinema event of the year and the film that Bob Brown says no Australian should miss.

Click for cinema bookings, other viewing options, and more information

Local (more or less) cinemas coming up:

Wed. Mar 18, 6:30 PM – CAMDEN Civic Centre
Thur. Mar 19, 7:00 PM – CAMPBELLTOWN Event Cinemas
Sat. Mar 21, 7:00 PM – KANGAROO VALLEY Upper Kangaroo River Community Hall – SOLD OUT
Sun. Mar 22, 4:00 PM – WARRAWONG Gala Cinema
Wed. Mar 25, 7:00 PM – NEWTOWN Dendy Newtown

Click for cinema bookings, other viewing options, and more information

Nuclear Energy Forum: 4 April 2015

At its third forum, titled The Radiance of France, CANWin’s nuclear energy forum set itself the task of examining what has made the French so successful in achieving amongst the world’s lowest greenhouse gas emissions.

The attendance continues to grow and this time around we had presentations by 6 of its members with 25 attending. Rob Parker kicked off with a summary of the French system of 58 reactors built over 22 years. While they were built to provide energy self sufficiency, in this age of clean energy and greenhouse gas reductions the French generate electricity with only 71 gr CO2/kwh while across the border in Germany with its 48% renewable capacity they generate nearly 10 times the French emissions with 672 gr CO2/kwh.

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The reasons are clear in these two graphs and Germany sets an ominous precedent for Australia if we continue to implement wind and solar while burning coal.

Phillip Walker then outlined the political process under President Pompidou and Prime Minister Messmer. The decisions to proceed with the nuclear programme were unilateral with no public or parliamentary debate.

After the break we were treated to an excellent presentation by Cameron Esslemont. This dealt with both open and closed nuclear fuel cycles and the great potential for recycling of used nuclear fuel. Cameron also touched on the political difficulties of implementing nuclear power and the handling of used fuel. He spoke in detail about the shifting policies of the IPCC and the cost structure of nuclear energy. This excellent presentation really needs an encore with more time to get a better appreciation of all of Cameron’s work.

Paluel Nuclear Power Plant 550x244 Top 10 Nuclear Power Plants

Paluel Nuclear Power Plant 5,528 MWh: France

Mike Thorley spoke about the French political system and outlined how it addressed centralised planning to enable the reactor fleet to be constructed.

Peter Cunningham then presented more details of the French system, its generating costs and comparison with the German performance and Australia’s uranium and thorium reserves.

Lou Flower then completed the afternoon with his observations that the French reactors are reaching maturity and may run into political difficulties with their replacement. The motivation of post war France has changed. The current generation may not be as patriotic or motivated to repeat the successes of the past. This may jeopardise future nuclear decisions.

The forum members show their commitment to the study of nuclear energy through their full participation and involvement in the topics. They are prepared to do work as demonstrated by the range of speakers and the three hours of full involvement. There is not full agreement on the issues we address however with intelligence and good grace the level of debate is greatly improved.

Based on this last meeting the CANWin nuclear forum has an excellent future where some very good work on understanding how we can properly decarbonise our energy production can occur.

Energy from rail

David Tranter suggests that storing energy from a local rail line could help ensure cheap, reliable, renewable power.

David Tranter at the wheel of a Tesla Model 'S'

CANWin Life Member Dr David Tranter looking startled in a Tesla electric car at The Goulburn Group electric vehicle expo, November 2014

Coal-fired power stations are either on or off. When they run, they run at peak capacity to ensure that consumers get all the energy they want all the time, including those few heat wave days each year when the more affluent rely on air conditioning to keep cool. When the grid was privatised in the name of “energy security”, it was “gold-plated” at the expense of the consumer: the needy subsidising the greedy.

Australian coal-fired power stations have access to cheap coal, are heavily subsidised, and do not cover the environmental costs of their production. As a consequence, their production costs are very low by international standards (3-5c/k). They could easily sell electricity on the cheap. In practice, however, they sell their energy at up 10 times its production cost, making a killing at the expense of households and businesses.

To be fair, most energy suppliers offer discount rates of about 15c/kWh for off-peak (night-time) use. But that doesn’t suit most consumers, who continue to pay the peak-hour rate of 20-40c/kWh. Clearly, there is scope in the Australian Energy Market for a more efficient system, one that could guarantee consumers the electricity they need without overheating the atmosphere and de-stabilising the climate.

Renewable energy plays a useful role in stabilising the grid by ironing out its peaks and troughs, since much renewable energy is harvested by day. In practice, however, the grids and conventional energy providers depend more on each other than on potential renewable energy suppliers, which they see as unwanted competition. They deny renewables access to the grid — because they can. It is time, perhaps long past time, for a “smart grid” to provide people and industry with the energy they need, rather than the energy they want.

One way to smooth out peaks and troughs in demand is to store surplus night-time electricity for daytime use. Battery technologies are now evolving fast and costs are tumbling as fast as photovoltaic panels have done over the past 10 years. Lithium ion storage systems are already available on the Australian market for both household and business use, but it will probably be some time before they have the potential, on a grid-wide scale, to meet daytime demand by storing night-time excess.

That being so, NSW could follow the Californian lead and look to gravity storage options, which use off-peak electricity as a resource that can be bought on the cheap and sold at twice the price. Eraring Energy already does this on a small scale. By night they use cheap electricity to pump water from downhill Lake Yarranga into uphill Fitzroy Reservoir. By day they can release the water to generate hydro electricity, which they can sell to the grid for up to twice the price of pumping.

The generation efficiency of this option, however, is limited by the friction between water and pipe. A more efficient alternative to move heavy materials uphill is to use a railroad train, which loses much less energy in friction, an initiative of the Californian company ARES (Advanced Rail Energy Storage).

A variant of that principle is the “regenerative braking” that is being introduced on the new generation of NSW suburban trains which, by their nature, stop and start to pick up passengers. Regenerative braking recovers energy otherwise lost as heat and feeds it back to the source through their overhead power lines. Its limitation as a storage option is that such trains run mainly on gentle gradients by day, rather than by night, a limitation that does not apply to the ARES option.

ARES plans to use a purpose-built railroad up a mountain in Nevada to generate 50mWh of off-peak storage energy to meet peak energy demand. The dimensions of the Nevada railway track (distance 9.2km, grade 7.2%) are remarkably similar to that of the existing Illawarra Mountain Railway that is currently used on a daily basis by coal, limestone and (in season) grain trains that lose their braking energy in heat.

Perhaps there is a case for electrifying the Illawarra Mountain Railway to stabilise the grid by recovering the braking energy that is currently being wasted as heat until such time as NSW can afford to build the proposed electric railway line between Dombarton and Maldon?

David Tranter, D.Sc., OAM