Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Neighbour's Water Tank

September was dry - October is dry - the neighbours put in a water tank to save their garden. Well that should multiply their water supply times 4 - the garden is a small part of the site when you are in units. And they had a problem with access - the tank is too heavy to lift over the garage - so the best thing was to bring it in my back gate - before the studio is built - in the window of opportunity as it were. It all worked like a charm - in fact you couldn't tell that anyone had been through the place... and there's the water tank sitting under the eaves waiting for the heavens to open.
The sweet thing was they brought me some flowers to say thank you.... bless them - ephemeral beauty of the soul. I hope their garden prospers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The New Home

The new home is wonderful - Mary, the previous owner, is a great gardener and this spring every day brings new flowers. What with the water shortage there is a heavy investment in plastic pipes to take the water from the washing machine to the garden.
The next step is building a studio to work in. Not so easy if you need a planning permit.. but such is life - I have a home and the ideas keep flowing. It will all go on.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Not So Smart Meters?

I'm not so sure about the “smart” meters being installed to tell consumers what their power is costing at any given time of the day. This sounds like a perpetuation of night rates electricity; the aim of which was to increase power consumption at night. A time at which people wouldn't otherwise use it but so that the coal fired power stations had a more even load. This was needed because coal fired power stations aren't very responsive to fluctuations in demand - they need hours if not days of notice in order to vary their output.

If our aim is to increase the use of sustainable sources of electricity then we want to encourage hydro, wind, biomass and solar. Hydro electricity can be very responsive to fluctuations in demand and solar is mainly generated during the day - solar thermal of course being the most effective on hot days.

So instead of asking consumers to time their demands why not charge the consumers a flat rate for electricity - $ per kilowatt the same no matter what time of day - so people will use the power when it's convenient and they won't use any more than they have to because it all costs money.

But we should pay producers of electricity a variable rate depending on the level of demand they are serving - so they would get paid very little to produce electricity in the middle of the night when activity is minimal. And they would get paid heaps on a hot day when the air conditioners are running flat out.

A household with photovoltaic cells on the roof is both a consumer and a producer of electricity. This system automatically sets the feed in tariff at a better level than the rate customers pay when they are home and the wheels of industry have slowed for the night. It would be up to the government to set the differential rates of payment to encourage more flexible electricity supply.

Similarly any new building could have a cap set for its demand on peak power supplies – encouraging new buildings to approach energy neutrality and sustainability. So “smart” meters are smart if they operate “backwards” with a variable rate and “forwards” at a fixed rate.... are they that smart?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


What if we paid a tree tax in our petrol price and planted trees to make up for the fossil carbon put into the air when we drive? According to this article there isn't enough space.....
If each car needs 600 m
2 planted out as trees per year and there are 2 million cars in Victoria that's 1,200,000,000 square meters = 120,000 hectares or 12,000 square kilometres every year - if Victoria is a total of 237,629 square kilometres then in 19 years the whole of Victoria will be covered in trees and there will be no place to drive a car... pretty cool eh? I'm looking forward to my excursion to the bio fuel place.... turning green slime into diesel looks good.... short circuit the million year fossil process..... so trees as carbon offsets work if there are only a few people doing it. But if you actually want to solve the problem we need something that will work when we all do it.

The same with the green power that I would like to buy but I'm not - for one reason or another - at the moment. When I look at my fuel bill right now it says 100% of my energy consumption comes from fossil sources and causes greenhouse gas emissions. But all in all Victoria's power comes from coal, gas, hydro and wind and some people have grid interactive photovoltaics on their roofs - bless them. So all the people who pay the extra to do their bit for the environment are actually having all the existing sustainable sources of energy counted in their contribution - seems like their money isn't making as much of a difference as it should. Or as they intended - if I pay the extra I want to see sustainable energy over and above the government's MRET produced in this state. And reflected in the way my bill is presented.

Well this article on green power accreditation says it all works - the green is because it's all new sustainable generation - post 1997... well I'll breathe deep and buy up when I'm in the new home..... just hope they've got it right eh?