Pathways to carbon neutral communities
A carbon neutral community is one that makes no net contribution of C02 to the atmosphere. In this meeting we will take a broad look at what this might entail. The meeting will take the form of a panel discussion led by Sarah Dingle, well known journalist and ABC presenter.
Sarah Dingle is a dual Walkley Award-winning investigative reporter and presenter with the ABC, working across radio and TV current affairs, news and documentary.
Contributors to the discussion include Gavin Gilchrist, Project Manager, Inner West Community Energy; Kate Wild, Award-winning current affairs and investigative journalist; Michal Levy, Artist and Environmental activist, both with the Sydney Alliance, and Dr Margaret Vickers, Science Educator, and Inner West Community Energy/Community Batteries.
1. Australia’s electricity supply system is undergoing a revolution, as renewables (PV solar, wind, hydro etc) start to replace coal fired power plants.
A large proportion of our future power input will come from rooftop solar panels, but this is creating a challenge for those who manage the grid and the electricity supply system. Rooftop solar input is a ‘wild card’ and at present, on a sunny day, there may be more power entering the network than the system can manage. When this happens, the solar power is discarded, or ‘curtailed’. Community batteries can take up this otherwise wasted energy and store it, releasing it to the grid at night time.
This strategy provides the rationale for the Labor government’s plan to install 400 community batteries across the nation.
2. Energy efficiency- especially in relation to low-income rental properties
Many Australian homes are very poorly insulated, leading to a massive wastage of energy. We are just beginning to see the uptake of very efficient smart appliances such as fridges, washing machines, ovens, cook tops, reverse cycle water heaters and air conditioners, etc. However, approximately one-third of all Australians live in low-income rental or community or public housing. Their units are almost always poorly insulated and poorly maintained.
This represents both a significant equity issue. Without insulation, without approptiate maintenance and without efficient appliances, our poorest citizens are now paying the highest power bills. Recent research indicates that household income and power bills are inversely correlated! (The lower your income, the more you pay for gas and electricity).
This collection of problems also represents a serious gap in our overall emissions-reduction strategy.