Category Archives: Energy Working Group

How and why of fossil-fuel freedom

Two great events this weekend: Friday’s CANWin speaker forum shows us how to get to fossil-fuel freedom; on Saturday afternoon Robertson CTC showcases the at-risk wonders of icy Antarctica.

Flier for speaker night 27 Feb.

Antarctica: A photographic journey

Glenn Dawson is a freelance photographer specialising in wildlife and nature. He and his cameras have made four trips to the Arctic, Alaska and Canada. Penguins with chicks He has also travelled twice to Africa to work and photograph wildlife and landscape. Robertson is to be treated to a presentation by Glenn, sharing his love and knowledge of the Antarctic, and other lands he has visited with a focus on nature, wildlife and cultures. Suitable for all ages.

Saturday 28th February, 3pm – 5pm; tickets $10. For bookings, contact the CTC, tel. 02 4885 2665.

Let’s help CORENA beat the RET Review

Let's fully fund 2nd CORENA Quick Win Project before the RET ReviewCORENA, one of CANWin’s partner organisations, is calling for help to get a solar PV project fully funded before July 1.

CORENA (Citizens’ Own Renewable Energy Network Australia Inc.) lends donated funds to community groups so that they can generate their own renewable energy. The loans are interest free, and the repayments go to fund more projects.

It’s a brilliant way for individuals and small organisations to give a big lift to community groups and an ongoing cut to carbon pollution.

Now the Federal government’s Renewable Energy Target Review threatens to make these grassroots efforts that much harder. Well nuts to that!! Renewables are the future, and no government has a mandate, or ultimately the power, to stop them.

Less than $4000 will see the second CORENA Quick Win project powering ahead.

If you’d like to donate, go to the CORENA website or click on the picture above.

From the CORENA Facebook page:

Pls help us get this project fully funded BEFORE the RET Review outcome has a chance to cause dramatic increases in solar prices.

We don’t know what the RET Review outcome will be, or when it will take effect. We assume STCs (the government’s contribution to the cost of solar) will remain in place at least till July 1, but after that we’ll be getting nervous.

Electric Communities

A version of this article appeared in the Southern Highland News, 9 October 2013. More articles from the CANWin column.

Petition to fund community energy

Click the image for information about more Australian community energy projects

We’re used to thinking of electricity as big and centralised. It’s generated by a few big corporations that trade with each other through the big power network. We buy it from businesses that are so big they use computerised people to answer their phones.

But does electricity have to be big business? Not any more. Renewables can put power into the hands of communities.

Community power, or community energy, are general names for various ways that groups of people are pooling their resources (such as space, money, and skills) into shared renewable energy projects.

Hepburn Wind, near Daylesford in Victoria, is a high-profile Australian example, but community power doesn’t have to mean wind power. The new Sydney International Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct at Darling Harbour will include a rooftop community solar park. It will enable inner-city residents who are renters or who do not have the roof space to invest in the technology.

Community energy projects are under way in many Australian regions too. Close to home, Wagga Wagga City Council has agreed to provide their energy usage data and site access to establish whether there is a sound economic and environmental case for the Council to host a community-owned solar farm. Riverina Community Solar Farm aims to find up to five hosts for solar systems, and a group on the Central Coast is investigating solar and biogas options.

A clever way to help cash-strapped community groups go renewable is through CORENA, the Citizens Owned Renewable Energy Network. CORENA is a not-for-profit that uses donations from the public to fund practical renewable energy projects. Electricity sales and loan repayments from completed projects finance future projects, thus continuously recycling donated money. In their own words, CORENA “… is people power reaching far into the future”.

You can donate to small or large projects through the CORENA website at corenafund.org.au

Working out the financial and governance arrangements for community power takes significant effort. Most groups set themselves up as co-operatives, drawing on the century of experience developed by co-operatives in other fields. Information and help is also available from Embark Australia, a privately-funded not-for-profit that is “…working to shift the community energy sector into the mainstream, as a proven and financially viable model capable of attracting large-scale investment and growing to meet its full potential.”

For more information about community energy, see the websites of:
Embark
Climate Rescue of Wagga
Renew Economy

Burning Wood for Warmth

Wood fire and fluffy sleepersBurning wood for warmth is as old as yarning round a camp fire, but these days there’s more to think about than where the next log is coming from. Here are ten websites with information about broader aspects of wood fires.

1. Asthma Foundation. How asthma friendly is your winter heater?
[available at: www.asthmafoundation.org.au/wood_fire_heaters_addendum.aspx ]
Extract: “Consumers have a wide array of heating options to choose from, but people who live with asthma should consider their asthma triggers when deciding what type of heating to have in their homes.”

2. Australia. Department of Environment and Heritage. Wood Heater Particle Emissions and Operating Efficiency Standards: Cost benefit Analysis. 2006.
[available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/atmosphere/airquality/publications/pubs/wood- particle-emissions.pdf ]
Extract: “Currently, most Australian jurisdictions require new wood heaters to meet the 1999 emissions standard of 4 grams of particles per kilogram (g/kg) of fuel burnt as determined by the Australian / New Zealand Standards AS/NZS 4013 – Domestic solid fuel burning appliances – Method for determination of flue gas emission. Some jurisdictions have extra measures to curb particle emissions from wood heaters. However, no jurisdiction requires wood heaters to meet a minimum efficiency standard, as none is currently specified in the Standards.”

3. Australia. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Woodheaters and woodsmoke: Air quality fact sheet. 2005
[available at: www.environment.gov.au/atmosphere/airquality/publications/woodsmoke.html ]
Extract: “When wood is heated to a high enough temperature it breaks down into a complex mixture of gases. These gases burn in the presence of oxygen to give off heat. If there is not enough oxygen, or not enough heat, the gases will only partially burn and the un-burnt gases will go up the chimney into the air outside.
Once outside, these gases cool down and condense into tiny droplets of oils and tars. These are known as particles. A single particle is far too small to see with the naked eye, but a lot of particles together are seen as woodsmoke. Particles cause many of the environmental and health problems associated with woodsmoke. They are a major source of air pollution in wintertime, especially where many people use woodheaters for home heating.”

4. Australian Home Heating Association. Fact Sheet
[available at: www.homeheat.com.au/pdf/fact.pdf ]
Extract: “The AHHA is the peak industry body representing the manufacturing, retailing, installation, maintenance and firewood sectors of the wood heating industry. The AHHA is also committed to an ecologically sound supply of firewood through the support of Landcare programs, firewood plantations, and better integration of conventional logging operations. The AHHA supports the removal of polluting older style wood heaters and open brick fireplaces, but encourages the continuation of wood heating as a viable and environmentally friendly home heating option, through the use of clean-burn wood heaters.”

5. Canada. Natural Resources. A guide to residential woodheating. 2002. [available at: http://www.cleanairplan.ca/documents/woodguide.pdf ]
Extract: “This guide is part of a series of buyer’s guides on renewable energy systems for residential use. More documents on residential woodheating include:
a. All about Wood Fireplaces
b. An introduction to Home heating with with wood”

6. Consumers’ Federation of Australia. Does your wood heater conform to Australian Standards? 2013.
[available at: www.consumersfederation.org.au/does-your-wood-heater-conform-to-australian-standards/ ]
Extract: “The Standards Australia Technical Committee CS-062 is currently developing and amending AS/NZS 4012 Domestic solid fuel burning appliances – Method for determination of power output and efficiency and AS/NZS 4013 Domestic solid fuel burning appliances – Method for determination of flue gas emission.

7. D. Driscoll, G. Milkovits and D. Freudenberger. 2000. Impact and use of firewood in Australia.
[available at: www.environment.gov.au/land/publications/firewood-impacts.html ]
Extract: “The report provides a national perspective of the extent and impact of firewood collection. The report reviews existing information and provides new survey results from Australian households, firewood merchants, and state government agencies.”

8. New South Wales. Environment Protection Authority. Selecting, installing and domestic solid fuel heaters. 1999
[available at: www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/woodsmoke/woodguide.pdf ]
Extract: “This guideline is one of a range of actions to reduce pollution from solid fuel heaters. Overall, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) estimates that solid fuel heaters contribute 40% of air particle pollution in winter. This is an important issue for the community. Smoke from solid fuel heaters contains a mix of pollutants, including carbon monoxide, fine particles and other chemical compounds. These pollutants can affect human health, especially the health of older people, children and people with respiratory illnesses.”

9. Robinson, D. Australian wood heaters currently increase global warming and health costs [in] Atmospheric Pollution Research 2 (2011) 267-274
[available at: http://www.atmospolres.com/articles/Volume2/issue3/APR-11-033.pdf ] Extract: “Firewood production is often considered to be CO2–neutral, if the carbon dioxide emitted by burning the wood is absorbed by replacement trees. However, burning firewood in the domestic heaters that are currently available in Australia produces methane and black carbon particles that increase global warming. The aim of this study was to estimate the amount of global warming from wood heating in Australia and evaluate ways in which this might be reduced.”

10. Todd, John. Wood-Smoke handbook: Woodheaters, firewood and operator practice. 2003 [available at: www.environment.gov.au/atmosphere/airquality/publications/handbook/index.html ]
Extract: “This Handbook has been prepared to assist local government officers, and others, in identifying and dealing with localized wood-smoke nuisance and broad-scale wood-smoke pollution.”