A pioneering new initiative to create Australia’s first “Zero Net Energy Town” (ZNET) was launched today. The first stage of work will be creating a blueprint and business case for the concept.
The ZNET idea is to create a distributed ‘mini’ electricity and energy system for a rural town in the New England region of NSW, utilising the cutting edge of energy network technologies and solutions. The model utilises local renewable energy resources, energy management and storage technologies. Local involvement is key and is woven throughout all aspects of energy supply and usage as well for investment, governance, employment and financial returns.
“The key outcomes of a Zero Net Energy Town will be regional jobs, a stronger regional economy and more affordable energy prices,” said Adam Blakester, Project Director and Executive Director of Starfish Initiatives. “We are seeing hundreds of rural towns realise these objectives elsewhere in the world. The potential value of this model for Australia is quite significant, particularly given how abundant its renewable energy resources are and how distributed our energy needs are.”
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10 minutes to spare? An animated Australian sustainability video, from the City of Canning, WA sent in by Cameron Love from a green light*.
Starfish’s Farming the Sun community solar energy collaboration has passed a major milestone ~ with the successful completion of the Feasibility Study for a Lismore Community Solarfarm.
Lismore City Council is developing a 100% Renewable Energy Master Plan (REMP) and aims to meet all of it’s electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2023. Council has already achieved significant energy efficiency savings ~ the first priority for energy sustainability ~ with total energy usage declining for the last three years at the same time as growing Council’s infrastructure services.
The Lismore Community Solarfarm will now form one of a series of options to be incorporated into the REMP.
This achievement comes on the back of Embark Australia’s recent announcement of the first fully committed community solarfarm in Australia ~ Sydney Community Solar ~ which will form part of the forthcoming Sydney International Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct at Darling Harbour. Embark is a partner in the Farming the Sun collaboration.
The Farming the Sun Collaboration has invested some $50-60,000 in the Feasibility Study ~ with significant contributions by Juno Energy, Starfish, Embark, Lismore City Council and seed funding from NSW Office of Environment and Heritage as well as The Earth Welfare Foundation.
Community solarfarms are a relatively new concept and have been made possible particulalry due to the dramatic decline in the cost of solar Pv. This model of community energy builds on the international community windfarm movement.
Lismore City Council Renewable Energy Master Plan
Lismore City Council aims for 100 per cent renewables by 2023 | REnew Economy
Lismore set to ‘farm’ its own electricity | Echo net daily
Community solar for Darling Harbour
The rise of solar co-ops | Business Spectator
Ballina has been identified through the NSW Government’s Far North Coast Regional Strategy as an emerging regional centre, indicating that Ballina can expect significant growth and change over the next 20 years ~ with its population anticipated to double during this period of time.
The Ballina Major Regional Centre Strategy is being prepared to guide the developing of Ballina through this period of significant growth and change.
The Strategy will be founded on engagement with the community, consistent with the intent associated with community involvement in strategic planning evident in the NSW planning reform process.
Starfish’s work will involve two key parts of the Strategy development, namely:
Read more about this initiative here.
Current efforts to reduce greenhouse gases through demand management, energy efficiency and switching to renewable energy and low-carbon energy have not been enough.
Energy supply contributed the most emissions (35%) followed by agriculture, forestry and other land use changes (24%).
At the very same time, a new study conducted by Drexel University’s environmental sociologist Robert J. Brulle, PhD, exposes the organisational underpinnings and funding behind the powerful climate change countermovement. This study marks the first peer-reviewed, comprehensive analysis ever conducted of the sources of funding that maintain the denial effort. Brulle found that, while the largest and most consistent funders behind the countermovement are a number of well-known conservative foundations, the majority of donations are “dark money,” or concealed funding.
Yolo has a population of 200,000 and now produces 152 percent more energy from solar panels than it uses!
Their work began by working with SunPower and the installation of a 1-megawatt solar power system at the Yolo County Justice Campus. The system produced $162,000 the first year of operation, and is predicted to earn the County $10 million over the first 25 years.
With the success of that project in place, the County installed three arrays totaling 5.8 MW of power as part of its County Wide Solar Project.
All of these projects all installed with no upfront capital investment. In partnership with the Yolo County Office of Education, the county secured $23 million in qualified zone academy bonds (QZAB).
The projects not only eliminated the County’s electric bill, but also earned just under $500,000 the first year. The County sells electricity to PG&E for 10-cents/kilowatt hour.
The County conservatively predicts it will generate $60 million over the next 35 years and avoid 12,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
Re-post of How a small county in California went grid positive from REnewEconomy.
This is a very powerful yet simple perspective on the entwined relationship of human health with nature. It’s well worth the nine minutes, to learn from some ancient Indian American wisdom. This is wisdom which remains very relevant to our contemporary context.