Renewable energy holds the key
Posted on 8 May 2014 by e-news
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This week we’re asking for a little gardening assistance, letting you know about the successful Day of Divestment we had in Castlemaine last week, and a host of other things.
And ‘renewable energy holds the key’? Keep reading for our first edition with a substantial section of news from MacR, our renewable energy arm!
Get pruning at MASG
At MASG we are keen to prepare our courtyard at our new home, 325 Barker St, for a spectacular spring and summer showing. That means getting busy with the pruning shears, compost and mulch now before the trees tuck themselves up for winter.
Co-tenant Deborah Lee Bakery is preparing to fire up her oven and run a cafe there – motivation enough to get raking and cleaning up – and we need your help!
Successful Divestment Day in Castlemaine
On a rainy Friday in Castlemaine, around 40 people turned out to protest outside the big Four banks, over their continued investment in fossil fuel projects. More than 10 customers locally closed their accounts, while hundreds more did the same across the country on Friday and Saturday.
And it’s never too late to divest, or send a letter of protest to your bank! Go to Castlemaine Divestment Action’s Facebook page, and you can download letters to personalise and send to your bank.
Car share Castlemaine?
A group of Castlemaine people are interested in a car share. Many choose not to own a car for environmental reasons, but do need to use one on occasion and city-based careshare companies don’t service this area.
People could register for using the vehicle then pay on an hourly rate (like the commercial carshares). Visitors to the area could also use it- ideal if you have come by train.
Perhaps the Shire could be interested in auspicing the project? Provide the management infrastructure and lease finance guarantee, but run it as a user pays enterprise with no net cost to the council? Ex council vehicles could also be used (like the i30 wagons)?
If you are interested in the idea, contact, Michael Gersch on 5472 3554.
Renewable energy holds the key
Dean Belfield went to Europe earlier this year for six weeks, and he visited renewable energy communities in Switzerland (Schoeftland), Germany (Schoenau in Black Forest, Freiburg, Marburg, Juehnde), Denmark (Saomso Is, Nordic Folk Centre) and the UK (London).
Community renewable energy projects are a major growth area with a great deal happening, particularly in the countries he visited but also in Spain and Sweden. He says it is about timing, finding the balance with existing energy infrastructure, regulatory adjustments and commercial pathways.
“Freiburg is an impressive story and what you see happening there will increasingly become mainstream,” he said.
“Siemens, one of the largest global companies with a turnover of over €75 billion, derives revenue from ‘green products and services’ to the tune of around €42 billion. They are seeing it as the way of the future and organising resources to increase it further. They are creating markets and renewing their economic model around this emerging paradigm – while we twiddle our thumbs.”
Neil said a diverse spectrum of people are involved, “from Mums concerned about nuclear energy to communities seizing the opportunity for community-owned energy that they can have some control over, especially rising prices and energy security. The government backs the market (assured price over 25 years) for buying renewable energy. Sometimes it has been a result of adversity hitting a community, and they simply had to find a new way forward. Energy held the key.
“The ‘father’ of the solar revolution in Germany was a social democrat politician and he used the political process to enable regulatory change to encourage solar PV, via a guaranteed feed-in tariff and requirement for all energy retailers to buy the solar energy at a set price; this provided certainty, while remaining obstacles and arguments against solar PV were removed one by one.
“Ideas were turned into actual projects through a combination of having a shared vision, persistence, widespread engagement showing how everyone could benefit, finding suitable financing partners and commercial models, and being prepared to tackle and overcome or change regulatory obstacles.
“Every country had significant regulatory and planning barriers to work through, and so some renewable projects have taken decades, and others are up and running within two years.”
Plug it on your window
All right. It’s built for European or North American plugs. It doesn’t hold that much charge. But The Window Socket is such a brilliant idea we had to draw it to your attention. It offers a neat way to harness solar energy and use it as a plug socket, as a direct plug-in. Simple in design, the plug just attaches to any window and does its job. Not available for Australian plugs – yet.
UK will install three times more solar than Australia in 2014
The United Kingdom – cloudy, drizzly, better-put-the-covers-on-the-pitch England – is forecast to become the largest market for solar PV in Europe in 2014.
Conservative estimates put the installation rate for the current year at around 2,500MW, which is about three times more than the average forecast (800MW) for Australia.
The UK already has more than 60 solar farms of 10MW or more. Sun-rich Australia has zero. Some industry forecasts expect more than 3,000MW to be installed in the UK in 2014. Poor Oz! You’d think we received no bright sunshine here!
Youth Leading the World Congress
A sustainability leadership congress will be held in Castlemaine from 3-5 June 2014, and it will bring about positive changes to the lives of young people in Mount Alexander Shire. Youth Leading the World (YLTW) is a three-day Congress held in over 100 locations around the world and streamed online.
YLTW aims to accelerate the shift to sustainable ideas by informing, inspiring and involving youth and communities worldwide. YLTW in the Mount Alexander Shire has been made possible through the Victorian Government Engage! Grants Program. For more information about YLTW, please visit www.ozgreen.org.
Residents in the shire are invited to attend a free Community Forum from 1-3pm on Thursday, 5 June at the former Tea Rooms, Castlemaine Botanical Gardens. Come and be inspired by the ideas of young people from the Shire, which will accelerate the transition to a more sustainable future. Refreshments provided.
Bookings are required as spaces are limited. For more information or to register for the Congress or Community Forum, please contact Jay Smith, Youth Leading the World Project Officer on 5471 1743 or email@example.com.
Extinction ‘locked in’?
The State Government promised to end native forest logging in 2010. In November 2011 they introduced plans to cut protection for native species to enable logging of their habitat, and the following month pur decisions about sustainable logging limits into the hands of loggers. In December 2012 they reintroduced logging in western Victoria’s native forests. In the words of Environment Victoria, this has ‘locked in’ the extinction of Leadbeater’s Possum.
God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.
– John Muir, Scottish-American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States