Friday, April 27, 2007

Bill Day :)

It's not often that recieving a bill is a happy time - but it does happen occassionally.

Regular readers may remember my energy efficiency measures such as installing Energy Efficient Lights and adjusting the Hot Water System. I knew (in theory) that these would result in energy savings, but the bill would be the confirmation.

The hot water was down from 581kWh to 397kWh - a 32% reduction. Regular electricity was also down from 397kWh to 366Kwh - an 8% reduction. Some of this may be due to having shorter showers (due to the water shortage) but it's also due to the efficiency measures.

Of course, i also subscribe to Greenpower, so the other joy of getting my bill is reading the update of how many tonnes of carbon dioxide i have saved, by getting energy from renewable sources.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

More Jobs, Less Pollution

There has been a fair bit of talk, mainly from the PM, about how cutting greenhouse gases would cost jobs in the coal industry. This may not be a lie in itself, but what has been ignored is the thousands of jobs that would be created in the renewable energy...... until now!

A report released yesterday [download report] showed that if Australia set a renewable energy target of 25% by 2020, it would actually boost the Australian economy by creating 16,600 jobs and generating 33 billion dollars of new investment in Australia.

Of course, it would also reduce Australia's greehouse gases by 69 million tonnes - almost the equivalent of all of Australia's transport emissions.

Quotes from the news article:

Legislating a renewable energy target of 25%, coupled with energy efficiency measures, could actually save Australian households around $84 each year on their electricity bills.
- Don Henry, ACF’s Executive Director

Australia has unrivalled solar, wind, and geothermal resources and should be a leader in creating a vibrant and job-rich energy industry. Yet due to current Government policies, we’re throwing away our competitive advantage and renewable companies are moving offshore.
- Mark Wakeham, Energy Campaigner

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Hybrid Ships?

It may sound strange, but it's true. And a good thing too - with the shipping industry accounting for more than double the greenhouse gases of airlines.

According to a report on Lateline, a German engineer has invented a kite/sail that he calls Sky Sail, which uses wind power to reduce the fuel consumption of large ships. In optimal conditions, his invention can save up to 50% on fuel, though it is typically between 10 and 35%.

Meanwhile, back here in Australia, the people at Solar Sailor have designed ferries that use wind and solar power to reduce fuel consumption by up to 85%.

Friday, April 20, 2007

All Aboard!

Even when you try everything to reduce your own greenhouse emissions, sometimes you wonder if it makes that much difference. Well take heart - it does. Even small changes (made by a lot of poeple) make a big difference.

Take Greenpower for example. From info on the official Greenpower website, i made the following graph. It shows the increasing number of households that have chosen to get power from renewable sources.

I found it to be quite inspiring. I hope you do too. Hopefully this amazing growth rate continues as people realise that this is a better way to get their energy.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Future Brisbane

If you live in Brisbane, you may be aware that in August last year, the City Council set up the Climate Change and Energy Taskforce. The taskforce report "A Call for Action" can now be downloaded from the council website.

The report has recommendations for Brisbane’s future, and will be debated by council on Monday April 30. In the meantime "community feedback" (that's us) is encouraged via the forum or by emailing

Please do so! Even if you don't have time to read the whole report, you can still use the email address to let them know you want action.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Earth, Wind and Fire

The 4 Corners programme on ABC did a great piece this week about renewable energy. If you missed it, you can watch it online through the 4 Corners website.

The report is very informative, and I can thoroughly recommend it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

How Much Sun?

If you listen to coal companies etc, you might hear talk that renewable energy can never meet our energy needs. Clearly this is wrong. The map below shows how much area would be needed to power the whole world from solar power alone.

Obviously we have other sources of renewable power, so we wouldn't even need as much area as is shown on the map. But it still shows that there is plenty of solar power.

If you want more information about this check out the website of Mattias Loster.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

How to be Carbon Neutral

There's a lot of talk about being "Carbon Neutral". So what does that mean? And how does one do it?

Essentially there are two main ways of producing carbon dioxide...
(1) Using electricity that comes from coal-based power stations, and
(2) Driving vehicles that use petrol.
As most people (at least in Australia) do one or both of these, to be "Carbon Neutral" we have do something to neutralise these activities.

For electricity it is quite easy. Pretty much every energy company in Australia offers their own version of Greenpower. For a slight additional charge, your electricity company will get power from renewable sources, rather than from coal. Obviously if you set the amount to be the same amount that you use, you have cancelled out the greenhouse gases caused by your electricity use.

For cars it is slightly different - but equally as simple. Sites like Greenfleet have calculators that enable you to calculate the tonnes of carbon dioxide generated from your travel (you can include plane flights if you like). As trees breathe in carbon dioxide, Greenfleet will plant enough trees to cancel out the carbon dioxide produced. This is relatively cheap at around $40 per year for the average car user.

Well done! You are now carbon neutral (if you did those things).

Of course, if you want to go the extra mile, there are other things you can do. For instance, buying locally reduces the amount of fuel used to transport your food to the shops. Recycling glass, plastics and aluminium reduces the energy required to make your bottles and cans. Technically, this is "other people's" carbon, but it still helps save the planet.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Earth Hour Photos

If you live in Sydney, you may have heard of EarthHour - an hour of lights out. It got a little bit of publicity in other areas of Australia - but not much. In Sydney, tens of thousands of households and companies got behind it.

You've heard of "before and after" photos ... well these are more like "before and during"....

While the Earth Hour itself saved tonnes of greenhouse gases, the main idea is to create awareness of climate change, and how we can make a difference.