Global News

Coalition has launched a nationwide broadband survey

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Published on: September 23, 2012

 

Today the Coalition has launched a nationwide broadband survey which allows every Australian to see for themselves the speed of their existing fixed line and mobile broadband services.
The survey is available at www.fasterbroadband.com.au
The survey will provide important information to the Coalition about the speed of existing broadband in Australian cities, suburbs, towns and regions.
We want every Australian to have faster broadband sooner and more affordably.
Many suburbs and towns are inadequately served by existing fixed line and mobile broadband. But Labor’s NBN is not the answer. It reduces competition, will increase the monthly cost of broadband and is, for many Australian households, many years in the future.
The Government originally promised 511,000 households would be on the NBN fibre network by next June. But despite providing billions of dollars to the NBN, Labor now admits the real number will be just 54,000 – after almost six years in office!
So Australians have every reason to be suspicious about the Government’s promises of improved broadband. And it is households and businesses in those areas where broadband is poorest that have been hit hardest by Labor’s delays.
Our commitment is to fast-track upgrades in these areas and roll out the NBN according to need rather than politics.
In contrast, the Labor NBN has not prioritized better broadband for inadequately served areas. It will not reach some Australians until the 2020s. And it will increase prices: the NBN business plan states that the monthly revenues it earns from each customer will triple between now and 2021.
The Coalition has a better plan. We will encourage competition instead of stamping it out, and leverage existing infrastructure to complete upgrades sooner. We will ensure families have more choice and pay less for their monthly internet bill.
We urge all Australians to complete the broadband survey to help us ensure better broadband is available across the nation sooner, and those who need upgrades the most get it first.

The End of the Industrial Revolution …….

Aug 23, 2012

Reproduced with kind permission of Paul Gilding. www.paulgilding.com

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Paul is an independent writer, advisor and advocate for action on climate change and sustainability. An activist and social entrepreneur for 35 years, his personal mission and purpose is to lead, inspire and motivate action globally on the transition of society and the economy to sustainability. He pursues this purpose across all sectors, working around the world with individuals, businesses, NGOs, entrepreneurs, academia and government.

What a privilege it is to be alive in these times, in such a significant period in human history. It’s not always easy to see moments of great historical importance when you’re in the middle of them. Sometimes they’re dramatic, like the fall of the Berlin Wall or the landing on the moon. But more often the really big ones appear, from within them, to be unfolding in slow motion. Their actual drama and speed then only becomes clear in hindsight.

That’s how it will be with this. But in the end we’ll look back at this moment and say, yes, that’s when it was clear, that’s when the end game began. The end game of the industrial revolution.

Hang on, you’re thinking. The industrial revolution? With its belching smokestacks, dirty industry and steam engines? You thought we left that behind long ago, right? You look at your smart phone, robots on Mars, the rise of Facebook and Google and think ‘we’re well past all that’. Isn’t this the age of knowledge, when we’re all hyper-connected in a 24/7 information rich economy? Think again.

Hiding behind those entertaining devices, information overload and exciting new companies, the real bulk of the economy is still being driven by those dirty belching smokestacks and is still being shaped by those who inherited the economic momentum of 19th century England – the coal, oil and gas industries. Look at any list of the world’s 20 largest companies by turnover and you’ll see around three quarters are either producing fossil fuels, trading them or converting them into transport or energy. So I’m afraid the proverbial belching smokestacks still underpin our economy. But they are now in terminal decline. Yes, after 250 years, their time is coming to an end – and faster than you, or they, think.

For those of us focused on social change, it doesn’t get much more exciting than this. When I was writing my book The Great Disruption during 2010, and even when it was published just a year ago, the ideas in it were still fringe to the mainstream debate – a radical and provocative interpretation of what was happening. Most thought my argument – that a crisis driven economic transformation was inevitable – were, if correct, certainly not imminent and would not impact for decades. Just two years later, we only have to look around to see the disruption underway, as the old economy grinds to a halt, and the incredible opportunity for change that is now all around us.

It’s going to be a wild and exhilarating ride, with winners and losers, crises and breakthroughs. There’ll be a fair amount of chaos and we’ll teeter on the edge for a while, wondering if we’ll get through. But we will, and we’ll then look back to this time and say, yes, I was there.  I was there when the third great wave of human progress began. The first was the domestication of plants and animals, enabling what we today see as civilisation to form. The second was the industrial revolution with its great technological and human progress but inherent unsustainability because it depended on taking energy from the past and ecological capacity from the future.

Now we shift to the third great wave, the world post the industrial revolution. To an economy designed to last, that is built around the present and nurtures the future. This will be an era where we…… well, that’s the exciting bit. We get to decide what comes next. We get to decide what the third great phase of human progress looks like.

Like many, I feel a great impatience sitting here on the edge of it all. Waiting for it to be clear to everyone that it’s time to stop pretending the old models will somehow get back to normal. We lurch from crisis to crisis, but never seem to face up to the reality that old normal is gone, that step change is now our only option. I’m not alone in that impatience. The legendary investment manager Jeremy Grantham recently said “The economic environment seems to be stuck in a rather unpleasant perpetual loop. ……I, for one, wish that the world would get on with whatever is coming next.”

The world actually is getting on with it, at an incredible pace, but building the momentum of the new takes time. And perhaps of more immediate concern, the dismantling of the old economy and the decline of the fossil fuel industry is being fiercely resisted by those who own it. To be fair, you can’t really blame them. I can’t imagine I’d take kindly to everything I assumed about the world being proven wrong and all my success now being blamed for the potential collapse of civilization. Denial and delay would be quite appealing!

But none of that really matters because the end of their world is going to happen regardless of anything they do. You can buy your way to political influence but you can’t buy new laws of physics. So we will change, not because of any great moral battle between good and evil, but because people and economics will respond to physical limits – the limits of the climate’s capacity to absorb our waste, the limits of our food production to keep pace with our demand, the limits of living on one planet.

Thus the need to act is no longer just a moral imperative, it’s now a social and economic necessity.

I will over forthcoming Cockatoo Chronicles unpack this argument in more detail, explore how this is unfolding around us, and why we should be excited rather than fearful. I realise many people look at the world events and feel fear – I certainly have those days. After all, as was argued in a recent oped in the NYT by US scientists: “There can be little doubt that what was once thought to be a future threat is suddenly, catastrophically, upon us.”

But when we look at the current US drought, at what is looking like the third global food crunch in just 5 years, and the extraordinary increases in the melt rates of arctic sea ice, all happening along side debt overload and the endless, lurching economic crises that Jeremy Grantham refers to, you can respond in two ways.  Yes, these things are cause for great concern, reasons to worry about the suffering that is now and will keep unfolding around us.

But they also say, with clarity and finality, the old economic model is dead. This is not a crisis, there will be no “return to normal”. This is the old world, the world that started in 1750 with the industrial revolution and the assumption that more stuff was all we needed for progress, steadily grinding to a halt.  The great economic expansion that drove us through the 19th and 20th centuries, is all but over. Over because it’s physically impossible for it to keep going. This is not philosophy. When things are unsustainable, they stop.

This process is going to be very messy. The climate is becoming highly unstable. The fossil fuel industry is going to fight a ferocious rear guard battle to hold on to the old ways. There is an incredible consolidation of wealth and power by the rich. And the economy is facing intolerable debt and financial pressures.

With the earth full, we are now trapped between debt and growth. If we grow, then spiking prices of oil, food and other commodities, along with ecological constraints will bring down the economy as they did in 2007/8. Yet our impossible levels of debt can only be paid off if we grow. Given we can’t, the financial system will soon break again and this time even more dramatically.

But we can no longer prevent any of those things – they are todays’ reality.  What we can do, and what will have the most impact on that situation, is to accelerate the process of dismantling the old and building the new. It is true that all the changes we need to make happen, would occur by themselves over time. But because ecosystem breakdown is driven by lagging causes – the impact keeps happening long after the pollution that caused it – we don’t have time. This makes acceleration the key challenge.  Within that context there is much we can do

For a start, we can slow down the last gasp expansion of the coal, oil and gas industries. This is a significant question because the carbon budget is nearly all spent. As Bill McKibben recently argued, the science is now very clear that we have a choice – we either face an out of control climate that will decimate society and the economy or we can rapidly remove those industries from the economy. There is no middle path. And the later we start, the more pain there will be.

We can also drive even harder, the incredibly exciting growth in solar. We can encourage investors to shift from the old to the new. We can implore governments to tax stuff more and people less. We can build a new economy that is focused on creating jobs and good lives for people, rather than bonuses for investment bankers and profits for oil companies. We can drive down inequality, a cancer that is now eating away at democracy and social stability.

Just a decade ago, the call to invest in this new economy was driven by the moral imperative or long-term economic benefit. Today it’s up and running, and is looking more like a sprint than a marathon – a sprint any investors who don’t see it underway will lose.

Solar is perhaps the most immediate and exciting example, with enormous investment now flowing. As Giles Parkinson explains in a recent article at ReNewEconomy.com.au it’s hardly a surprise. In many countries, you can now get solar on your rooftop with payments 20% less than your current electricity bill, while still leaving enough for strong profits by those installing and financing the systems. It’s an easy business proposition to understand and as a result, investors are piling in to the space. They look at the risks in fossil fuels with the inevitability of tightening regulation on carbon, then compare it to solar and see annual growth rates there of around 40% and dramatic and ongoing cost reductions. (The total cost of a rooftop solar system has fallen over 20% in the last year and the cost of solar panels fell around 50%!) So it’s no surprise that last year we saw another new record for the amount invested in renewables – over $250 billion. It’s now up over 90% since the start of the financial crisis in 2007. (How much proof do we need that there’s a new world coming?)

There are many other examples of such progress – too many to cover here. So this longer piece is the first in a series of Cockatoo Chronicles that will explore the great economic transformation now underway. I’ll be discussing more about the solar boom, along with the inevitable crash of the carbon bubble – with its potentially dramatic consequences for fossil companies’ share prices and some national economies. Another area of focus will be the food supply crunch and its implications for conflict and national security but also the economic opportunity for sustainable food production. I’ll also write about the emerging battle between the fossil fuel industry on one side and scientists, environmentalists and the renewables industry on the other. Clear battle lines have been drawn in recent months suggesting a heavily ramped up and economically sophisticated conflict is now emerging.

Sure, there’s plenty to worry about in what’s coming and we should do all we can to smooth the way for 7 billion people to get through this transition. But we must remember, we’re now over the top of the mountain. It’s a long way down and it will certainly be a wild and bumpy ride, but history is on our side and the momentum will take us through. So let’s celebrate and remember – we are privileged to be here now, to be the ones who shape the future. And amidst the chaos and crises, let’s keep our eye on the prize – the third great wave of human progress.

 

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It’s board spilling season …….strike two and you’re out

21 August 2012, 6.11am AEST

Extract from: http://theconversation.edu.au/strike-two-and-youre-out-its-board-spilling-season 

Authors

Julie Walker Associate Professor in Accounting at University of Queensland

Stacey Beaumont  Lecturer at University of Queensland

Disclosure Statement
Stacey Beaumont does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
Julie Walker does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
The Conversation provides independent analysis and commentary from academics and researchers.
We are funded by CSIRO, Melbourne, Monash, RMIT, UTS, UWA, Deakin, Flinders, Griffith, La Trobe, Murdoch, QUT, Swinburne, UniSA, UTAS, UWS and VU.

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Blue Scope Steel’s Paul O’Malley has sought to sidestep shareholder anger with his decision to forgo a performance bonus. AAP

It’s reporting season and the interest in executive pay is heating up again. Alan Joyce is the latest CEO to forgo a bonus, joining a growing number of high profile business leaders including Rio Tinto’s Tom Albanese, BHP’s Marius Kloppers and BlueScope Steel’s Paul O’Malley.

Joyce has said it is “appropriate” that when company returns go down, that executive pay should also. O’Malley’s move pre-empted a $1 billion annual loss announced yesterday.

This is the second reporting year of the two-strikes legislation on executive pay. The law gives teeth to shareholder dissatisfaction about remuneration matters by providing that where there is a 25% or greater “no” vote on the remuneration report at any two consecutive annual general meetings, a resolution must be put to shareholders to spill the board.

Last year saw a number of corporate boards – including BlueScope – received their first “strike”, which if repeated could result in a costly and destabilising spill and subsequent re-election of a new board.

The trend for CEOs to decline their bonus this year is an effective response to a first strike or more generally, to forestall concerns about remuneration. The adverse media attention given to CEOs facing shareholder unrest about pay can have significant negative reputation effects for both the company and the executive. Pay issues can also dominate the AGM, at the expense of other important business.

Voluntarily declining the cash bonus effectively defuses the pay issue in the AGM without the adverse implications of a board imposed cut in bonus because of poor corporate performance.

It also sends a powerful message about the commitment of the CEO in these austere times – as Paul O’Malley said, it was “the right thing to do". And it seems that some Australian CEOs agree.

It seems too that the two-strikes rule is achieving greater accountability from company boards about executive pay. Australia has had a non-binding shareholder vote on remuneration since 2005.

Research indicates that the average “no” vote from 2005-2009 trended steadily upwards, with some companies receiving “no” votes well in excess of the 25% needed to invoke the two-strikes legislation. However, there is no evidence of similar “voluntary” pa cuts over the study period.

There is also the question of the sustainability of this strategy. Is it just a one-off to take the heat away from remuneration when corporate performance is poor and shareholders have previously dissented on the remuneration report?

Certainly in the longer term it won’t divert from a poorly designed incentive plan or poor governance more generally. Better disclosure around remuneration processes is more likely to reduce shareholder concern and minimise the probability of a no vote.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how many Australian executives decide that knocking back their bonus is “the right thing to do” this year. And how those corporate boards will deal with the longer term issues of fairness and disclosure of executive pay in the years to come.

Oceans could supply 10 percent power – in Australia

By Lieu Thi Pham | August 8, 2012, 2:30 AM PDT


MELBOURNE — A new study by the CSIRO (the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization), revealed that Australia’s oceans could supply 10 percent of the country’s electricity by 2050. This is the equivalent of powering a city the size of Melbourne, which has a population of around four million.
The Australian science agency study investigated the potential of harnessing the energy of the oceans — from waves, tides, currents and thermal energy — to power the country’s electricity from 2015 to 2050.
Their report, Ocean Renewable Energy: 2015-2050, showed that there are tremendous energy resources in Australia’s southern oceans, in particular near the west coast of Tasmania, the southern ocean in Victoria, and the south-west ocean of Western Australia.
This is the first time in Australia that ocean-based renewable energy has been assessed from resource to market development. Dr Susan Wijffels, a spokesperson for the CSIRO, said that the findings showed that wave power could be integral to Australia’s renewable energy plan.
“The idea [of ocean power] has been around for a very long time,” Dr Wijffels said. “It’s getting attention now because some countries are currently looking at how viable some of these technologies are. I suspect it has to do with the policy setting in an energy market.”
There are at least 200 wave energy converter (WEC) devices that extract the energy from either the surface motion of the waves or the pressure fluctuations below the surface. The range of this energy capture varies between devices and to differing degree of success.Some companies are currently conducting pilot tests and commercial demonstrations.
There are three main classes of WEC devices that can be loaded in various depths: Point absorber (a float that is free to follow the movement of the wave and gather wave energy from any direction); linear attenuator (a float aligned in the direction of the wave); and terminator (a device that faces the wave directly to collect the energy).
The fact that around 80 percent of Australia’s population live in coastal areas, suggests that wave power will play a very significant part in the country’s energy future.
Dr Wijffels claims that wave power holds many key advantages over solar and wind power, including its consistency (waves are generated both day and night), and predictability as an energy resource.
Solar and wind are subjected to sudden changes in weather, whereas wave power comes from the momentum of an ocean storm that can often take days to reach our shores.
“If you get a longer lead time, then you know that wave plant will give you power. The people that manage our electricity supply in the future will want to know when and how much renewable energy is coming in and how it will fit in to the grid,” she said.
“The other big challenge we have is getting the grid ready. How to shift power across the country very cheaply, quickly and in large volumes,” Dr Wijffels said.
She contends that the technology has the potential to be cost-effective, but this will largely be dependent on overcoming engineering challenges such as creating efficient energy farms and harvesters.
“Water is really heavy. When water is moving, it gets moved by either tidal forces or waves, and that’s a lot of momentum. The energy density, as a resource, is much higher than wind. If we can get the turbines to work efficiency, we’re using less real estate for more power. If we can build really efficient extractors that can be made cheap enough to maintain, then that advantage could be realised,” she says.
The CSIRO are careful to point out that there are many economic, technological, environmental and societal challenges that will determine wave energy’s place in Australia’s future energy mix. These include investigating the wider impacts of the technology as it relates to issues such as as marine life and aquaculture.
The CSIRO hopes that their report will encourage the renewable energy industry, government and the public to think seriously about the opportunities, as well as the challenges, for ocean technology in Australia.
Photo: WHL Travel/Flickr
Extract from: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/global-observer/in-australia-oceans-could-supply-10-percent-power/6680?tag=nl.e660

All energy and climate solutions are local

 The climate movement isn’t dead,  it’s just gone underground.


By Chris Nelder | June 27, 2012, 3:00 AM PDTFor full story:
http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/energy-futurist/all-energy-and-climate-solutions-are-local/516?tag=nl.e662

 
The United Nations climate summit in Rio de Janeiro ended with participants gnashing their teeth and issuing a long string of condemnations, calling the final report the “longest suicide note in history,” “a failure of epic proportions,” and “a colossal failure of leadership and vision from diplomats.”
 
The inability of world governments to come to any binding agreements after two decades of negotiations, wrote Mark McDonald for the New York Times, “shined the spotlight on global timidity.”
Color me unsurprised.
I have long maintained that creating policy around emissions gets the problem backward, by focusing on what comes out of the tailpipe instead of what goes into the engine.              We should be incentivizing solutions, not penalizing emissions, because carrots harness human desire and ingenuity, while sticks merely arouse resistance. Further, it makes no sense to simply clamp down on fossil-fuel emissions without replacing the displaced energy. This is why I have advocated a feed-in tariff as the best policy approach, over alternatives like cap-and-trade.
Now that some 50,000 people have flown home in disgust (generating an estimated 300 tons of CO2 in the process) after the Rio summit, perhaps we can put an end to this futile search to get a world of 6.8 billion people to agree on a single target. Perhaps we can finally start focusing our attentions on solutions that work, right now, at home.

The Lancaster example

One story that crossed my desk last week stood out as an excellent example of what we should be doing. Writing for The Fiscal Times, Adam Skolnick described how, under the leadership of mayor R. Rex Parris, the Mojave desert town of Lancaster, California—home of turkey farmers, Frank Zappa, Edwards Air Force Base, and about 157,000 red-blooded suburban middle-class right-wing Americans—is moving toward being the first city in the nation to produce zero net carbon emissions and to be 100 percent powered by renewables.
Their strategy is straightforward.
They started by hosting a few demonstration-scale solar farms, like a five megawatt project by eSolar. Then they contracted with third-party financier SolarCity to install solar systems on several large city buildings, including the city hall and a stadium, a move that will save the city $150,000 a year with no out-of-pocket expenses.
Then they went on to launch the Solar Lancaster program, to offer affordable financing and technical guidance. They also created a city utility so they could sell power directly, and floated a $27 million bond backed by the city sewer system and funded by private equity. Those funds were used to install solar on 26 schools, which now buy their power from the city at fixed rate about 35 percent lower what they used to pay to the regional utility, Southern California Edison.
With the first bond expected to yield $16.8 million over its life, Lancaster is now contemplating a second bond offering to fund a 50 megawatt solar farm on city property, and sell some of the energy to other local municipal utilities.
The solar projects are credited with helping to shave two percent off the city’s 17 percent unemployment rate and pulling the city back from the brink of ruin in a punishing recession that has hit that part of California particularly hard.
To enable the explosion of solar and wind farms in the Mojave, another key piece of the infrastructure puzzle is being created through a public-private partnership between Kern County, the cities of Lancaster and Pittsburg, and Critical Path Transmission, a power line provider. The joint High Desert Power Authority intends to build a 40-mile, high voltage underground transmission cable across the Antelope Valley from Edwards AFB to a nearby transmission line. When commissioned in January 2017, the connector will be able to carry 2,000 megawatts of power to residents on the eastern fringe of the Los Angeles megalopolis and pave the way for more renewable power generation in the desert.
To be sure, these projects probably wouldn’t be happening without the $0.15 per kWh PBI California state incentive for government projects, and the 30 percent federal investment tax credit for privately-owned projects. But they do show what communities can do, with their own resources, to transition to renewables. And the success of communities like Lancaster may make GOP representatives think twice about party-line opposition to federally subsidized renewable power.

Bottom-up solutions

Lancaster’s approach is precisely the sort of bottom-up, community approach to transition that I have advocated previously (see “The revolution will be bottom-up” and “Crowdsourcing the energy revolution“). At some point, the city will be able to back new bond offerings with its installed solar capacity. In this way, solar capacity can become self-funding and self-building over time—something that will never be possible with fossil fuels.
Once a town installs a substantial base of renewable power generation, it would be straightforward to run its public transportation on that power. Electric buses, electric light rail, and electric taxis or Zipcars could eventually displace the majority of their liquid fuel consumption at a far lower cost per mile traveled. The vehicles themselves could be likewise funded by a municipal bond, which could be retired fairly quickly, or perhaps by a tax assessment on merchants, like the free Emery Go-Round shuttle service in Emeryville, CA.
 
 
We can do this, partisan politics be damned. If all politics is local, as former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously said, then so are the solutions to our energy and climate challenges. We can kill the carbon monster and create real economic productivity at home using free fuel. And if a beleaguered town like Lancaster can aim to be net zero carbon and fully powered by renewables, any town can. We don’t need no stinking timid D.C. politicos to get the job done. All it takes it a little vision and local leadership, and a willingness to let go of the crumbling remnants of the past. So if you’re a community leader, get Rex Parris on the horn and find out how you too can git ‘er done.
Photo by Chris Nelder

Is Australia & The Bellarine ready for the electric car ?

Charging station reflected in Holden Volt

MELBOURNE — Early this year, Victoria’s first solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging station was opened for public use at the CERES Community Centre.
By Lieu Thi Pham | June 27, 2012, 3:00 AM PDT
Extract from: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/global-observer/is-australia-ready-for-the-electric-car/6038?tag=nl.e660
Charging station reflected in Holden Vault
The solar charging station, located in Melbourne’s north, is currently generating clean and renewable electricity to power the city’s EVs.
The initiative is a result of a collaboration between the Australian and Victorian governments, solar companies Q-CELLS Australia, who donated 12 Q.PROsolar photovoltaic (PV) modules, and Delta Energy Systems, who donated the solar inverter.
Over the past few years, the Australia Federal and Victorian governments have, to a degree, supported the renewable energy sector, particularly solar PV, through feed-in-tariffs and other rebates.
Given the importance of energy security, the launch of the solar charging station is a modest but significant milestone for Australia’s energy future.
“Australia is following a trend that has started in Europe”, Pfeiffer said. “The community is much more aware of the need to be more environmentally friendly. The Victorian Government is actively supporting this trend through its EV Trial of which the station at CERES forms part of.”
To date, EVs (and their hybrid cousins) have been met with some skepticism in Australia (despite the country’s abundance of solar energy). The nation’s slow adoption of EVs is centred on four sticking points; how efficient, expensive, capable (i.e. their range) and environmentally sustainable they are, in comparison to their petroleum-fuelled counterparts.
“Of course the idea of EVs is to curb our carbon footprint and to make our lives more sustainable,” Pfeiffer said. “Provided they run on electricity generated from renewables, electric cars do go some way toward addressing the issues of oil dependency and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as air and noise pollution from cars idling around densely populated cities.”
“But if they run on energy generated from coal-fired power, then they merely transfer pollution from Australia’s cities to rural locations and do nothing to reduce emissions. This is where solar PVs can greatly contribute,” Pfeiffer said.
Judy Glick, a CERES spokesperson, indicated that the CERES charging station is emission-free. “Our charge station is fitted with a 2.8KW PV system which is the size of a system needed to charge a standard vehicle. It is therefore possible to have no carbon emissions resulting from the use of an electric vehicle charged in this manner.
 

 
 
Solar modules donated by solar provider Q-Cells Australia capture energy from the sun to power greener electric vehicles.

Solar modules donated by solar provider Q-Cells Australia capture energy from the sun to power greener electric vehicles.

The CERES charge station is fitted with aChargePoint, which is the interface between the electricity source and the car charging apparatus.
The ChargePoint is compatible with all major electric vehicles on the market or about to come on the market.
According to research, electric cars have an average efficiency of 80%, which is much higher when compared to conventional gasoline engines that can effectively use only 15% of the fuel energy content, or diesel engines which can only achieve efficiencies of around 20% [Source: Shah, Saurin D. (2009). “2”. Plug-In Electric Vehicles: What Role for Washington? (1st ed.). The Brookings Institution. pp. 29, 37 and 43].
According to CERES, current electric vehicles will take around 5 hours to fully charge from a flat battery and costs about $3 compared to around $15-17 for petrol to get the equivalent distance of 100km. The ChargePoint is designed to deal with advances in vehicle and battery technology to enable faster charging in the future.
“To date, prices of EVs are still higher compared to conventional vehicles. However taking running and maintenance costs into consideration, EVs will become a viable option within the next few years,” Pfeiffer said.
“Sustainability and renewable energy in particular are still quite new concepts in Australia and have not yet received the same traction as in Europe and especially Germany. Public education about the benefits of sustainable transport options and its relative ease of implementation are issues that need to be tackled,” Pfeiffer said.
ChargePoint Chief Executive officer James Brown claimed that Australia’s late entry into the market has been an advantage. “Other countries have been ‘debugging’ the technology on our behalf and developing the appropriate charging solutions…” he said.
The high capital investment required to get EVs to market in an economically viable form has, to an extent, depended on the initial take up in larger markets such as the U.S., Europe and Japan.
In 2009 the global EV market was worth more than $26 billion. This market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.5% between 2010 and 2015, this will result in a $78 billion global market in 2015 [Source: the BCC].
 

The CERES charging station is part of the Victorian Electric Vehicle Trial, a government initiative that will help to roll out much more efficient transport options, to improve air quality in our cities and above all, to create new job opportunities for Australians.
Victoria is one of only 15 places worldwide where a car can be taken from design through to the showroom floor [Source: Victorian EV Trial website].
This Victorian EV Trial will run until mid-2014 with vehicle participants such as Holden, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Blade Electric Vehicles, and EDay, all on aboard. The general public can take part in the trial by registering their interest to drive an electric powered vehicle for three months.
In 2011, the top-selling EV (the Mitsubishi i-MiEV) in Australia sold only 30 vehicles [Source: Drive]. Despite this low figure, Brown remained positive about Australia’s uptake of the EV in the coming years. ”Ten years down the track the expectation is that up to 20% of all new vehicles sold in Australia will be EVs,” he said.
Of course, the big oil companies claim that electric cars will never outnumber gasoline and diesel models. [Source: Reuters].
However, the Australian Government is confident that EVs will make up 20% of new car sales in Australia by the end of the decade and 45% by 2030.
The public release of the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (soon to be followed by the Holden Volt and the Renault Fluence) in Australia, seems to suggest that the country is ready for the electric car — but it still remains unclear just how quickly and successful this uptake will be.
Photo: © GM, courtesy of Holden Australia (main), CERES (insert).

Renewable energy scorecard: How the G20 nations stack up

Renewable energy — once a mere blip on the world’s radar screen

— has finally gained a foothold, notably in the countries that compromise the Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Governors known as the G20.

By Kirsten Korosec | June 12, 2012, 4:15 AM PDT

Extract from: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/intelligent-energy/renewable-energy-scorecard-how-the-g20-nations-stack-up

 
Since 2002, the G20 countries have more than tripled the amount of their electricity produced from wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and wave power, according to a Natural Resources Defense Council report released Monday. Global investment in renewable energy also has boomed, growing 17 percent to hit a record $257 billion in 2011, according to a separate report released Monday by the UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainability Energy Finance.
Despite these advances, the share of electricity from renewable energy sources is still a small portion — just 2.6 percent for the G20 as a whole — of their overall electricity mix.

The NRDC’s Delivering on Renewable Energy Around the World: How Do Key Countries Stack Up? report ranks the G20 nations based on the share of electricity that comes from renewable energy. The report also aims to petition world leaders ahead of this month’s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to commit to increasing the amount of renewable energy to 15 percent of total electricity by 2020 — more than double what is predicted under current trends.
The United States increased its share of electricity produced by renewable sources by 341 percent over the past decade. And it ranked second in total energy produced from wind, solar, geothermal and tidal with 111.93 billion kilowatt hours in 2011. Still, only 2.7 percent of its total electricity production came from renewable energy, putting it in seventh place behind France, the UK and several other European countries.
Within the G20, Germany had the largest amount of its electricity produced from renewable energy in 2011. The European Union as a bloc was ranked second. Italy, Indonesia and the UK rounded out the top five. (Check out the graphic below for the complete scorecard.)
All of these countries trail Spain, Portugal, Iceland and New Zealand, which produce 15 percent of their electricity from solar, wind, geothermal, tidal and wave power, the NRDC said. For example, only 10.7 percent of Germany’s electricity comes from renewable energy sources.
South Korea experienced the largest growth since 2002, followed by China and then Brazil.

Clean energy investments also increased in the past decade, according to the NRDC and separate UNEP reports. since 2004, new clean energy investment in the G20 nations grew almost 600 percent, far outpacing the growth in the overall economy in those countries.
This year could produce more disappointing results. Global investment in clean energydropped to $27 billion in the first quarter of the year, the weakest posting since the depths of the financial crisis in early 2009, according to an April analysis by research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Resource recovery NOT waste

Mexico City launches massive composting project

By Lauren Villagran | May 23, 2012, 3:00 AM PDT

CIUDAD NEZAHUALCOYOTL, Mexico – An afternoon wind whips up small tornados of acrid dust across mounds of earth that resemble an ancient burial ground.
Only what’s buried here on 75 acres just outside Mexico City is the capital’s first large-scale compost plant. The city recently shuttered the last landfill it operated and on a piece of unused land at the site, started composting.
City officials tout the facility as the largest in Latin America and one of the largest of its kind in the world.
 
Each day, tractor trailers filled to the brim with organic garbage – the rinds, peels, pits, meat and bones and other natural materials that amount to the city’s leftovers – dump their cargo here, where the waste is buried, aerated, mixed with microorganisms, monitored for temperature and “cooked” into compost over a period of 40 days.
Mayor Marcelo Ebrard oversaw the closing of the sprawling landfill, the Bordo Poniente, in December. His administration has been working to find alternatives for disposing of the roughly 12,600 tons of trash the city generates daily.
Since the plant came online at the start of the year, the city is now composting roughly 80 percent of its organic waste, according to Ricardo Estrada, who directs the city’s recycling and composting programs.
That’s an important figure, he said, given that 40 percent of Mexico City’s trash is organic. In more developed countries, the trash mix includes far less organic matter and much more dry, inorganic material, such as plastics, aluminum, cardboard and other packaging, he said. Mexico’s trash is very “wet” by contrast.

The city has plans to eventually sell the compost to agricultural producers in and around the city, but so far it’s not up to farming quality. For now, the city is using the compost to fertilize green spaces including parks and medians.
“It’s going to be a resource that we didn’t have before,” Estrada said.
Mexico City dabbled with the idea of composting for nearly a decade before committing to developing a plan two years ago, Estrada said. One obstacle was that the powerful city sanitation workers union couldn’t see the benefit of separating out the organic trash – when they dedicated most of their time to separating out recyclables, which could be sold. Now, at the plant, the city pays each tractor-trailer 50 pesos, or about $3.60, per ton of organic material.
“People weren’t convinced that composting was an alternative,” said Estrada. “All the systems had been focused on recycling.”
Now the city just needs to work out what to do, long-term, with all the trash that remains after the compost and recyclables are weeded out. For now, it’s destined for dumps in nearby Mexico State – at least until those communities decide they no longer want the capital’s waste.
Photos: Lauren Villagran
Reproduced from http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/global-observer/mexico-city-launches-massive-composting-project/5590?tag=nl.e660

Edible landscapes – ideal for The Bellarine.

This article touches on the very essence of what is so very special here on The Bellarine …… green space.

Could planting trees be the next crime control strategy?

By Claire Lambrecht | May 20, 2012, 3:28 PM PDT
 
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Downtown Baltimore, Md., from a pagoda in Patterson Park. (Phil Gold/Flickr)
“Ugliness is so grim,” urban beautification advocate Lady Bird Johnson once said. “A little beauty, something that is lovely, I think, can help create harmony which will lessen tensions.”
Though criticized for her efforts (some suggested her projects were merely “cosmetic”), Lady Bird Johnson may have been on to something after all. Trees, according to a new study published in Landscape and Urban Planning, don’t just beautify neighborhoods; they also reduce crime.
The study, funded by the Forest Service and the National Science Foundation, compared crime data to tree cover in particular neighborhoods across Baltimore and Baltimore County, Md, between 2007 and 2010. The results, which could serve as a 21st century counterpart of the “Broken Windows“ theory introduced in 1982 by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, demonstrate a striking correlation between criminal activity and the number of trees in a neighborhood.
“In the tree world, we call it the ‘empty tree pit’ theory,” said J. Morgan Grove, one of the study’s co-authors in an interview with the Baltimore Sun. “If you have trees in the pits … they’re symbols of the fact that the neighborhood is cared about. … If they see you breaking into someone’s car, they’re going to call the cops.”
Having that tree cover, and the neighborhood presence that comes along with it, can mean striking changes from one neighborhood to the next. In one area, for example, a 10 percent increase in the density tree canopy went hand in hand with a 12 percent drop in reported crime. These statistics are a far cry from comprehensive crime-control strategy. They do, however, deliver welcome support for advocates, like the late Lady Bird Johnson, who saw the compound interest that could be derived from “something that is lovely.”
( Baltimore Sun)