Heat pumps

Prof Andrew Blakers

From Stars to the Sun

Professor Andrew Blakers is a professor engineering at the Australian National University. He works in the area of photovoltaics. His original goal was to be an astronomer studying Maths and Physics but while bushwalking  he was struck by so many places under threat - and that was as far back as the 70s!

He believes Australia receives thousands of times more solar energy than all the fossil fuels combined so why not be involved in solar and wind? He is a member of ARENA but fears the organisation, with the present political situation may lose the capacity to award grants. 

An interesting account of Andrew's life and work can be accessed on the ABC's Conversation Hour (13/6) and more details on the usual BZE podcast which mentions sliver, PERC technologies and silicon with its non-toxic properties. 

He has no doubt that Australia could become 100% renewable before long - and that is not just "pie in the sky"!

(Summary written by Bev McIntyre)

Further reading:

The Conversation: Wind and solar PV have won the race – it’s too late for other clean energy technologies

More articels at The Conversation

Tim Forcey: 22 ways to cut your energy bills

How to save money on power bills

This is a headline which should be of interest to everyone!

Beyond Zero's Kay and Michael speaks to Tim Forcey, Energy Advisor, Melbourne Energy Institute, University of Melbourne talks about 22 things you can do to improve your home’s energy performance. And how to reach the ultimate goal of a home heated and powered by 100% renewable electricity. 

My Efficient Electric Home fb group - join us!

Tim has ideas on 22 ways of cutting power bills  and 38% off electricity and gas.  He said there is no economic reason for connection to the gas grid as gas has increased in price 75% over the last  5 years!  To make the production and usage of hot water  go further it is preferable to consider heat pumps and those with smart meters would find it simpler to trace one's usage regularly. It is possible to do this on line for the clever ones (my expression!)

But first on the list is to install LED lights  and thereby  using less power without heating and these are of course now being offered free of  charge. Next it is also a good idea  to ring retailers  to request what discounts are available ot to  threaten to switch if dissatisfied!

But before getting too technical adequate insulation is important  particularly hot water pipes and pressure release valves and a commonsense approach e.g. checking for draughts from old fireplaces and vents and the installatiom of old fashioned drapes and pelmets

Michael raised the question of showerheads which Tim said need not be either giving a satisfying shower or be saving hot water but could be both and if not satisfied could be returned! And that green power is provided by most retailers not only Powershop.

(Summary written by Bev McIntyre)

Further reading:

The Conversation: 22 ways to cut your energy bills (before spending on solar panels)

Presentation: Tim Forcey: How to cheaply and comfortably heat your home with renewable energy

Tim Forcey MEI - Economic fuel switching

Tim Forcey is Energy Advisor at the University of Melbourne Energy Institute (MEI). 

The University of Melbourne Energy Institute (MEI) has examined the future of domestic gas across the interconnected eastern-Australian gas market. 
Some of the numerous key findings of this important study include:

  • Gas demand peaked in 2012 and is forecast to decline in all sectors: electricity generation, the industrial/manufacturing sector, and in buildings.

  • Gas demand could fall to half of the 2012 peak by 2025.

  • Some householders can significantly reduce their energy bills by using efficient electrical appliances such as heat pumps (e.g. reverse cycle air conditioners) and induction cook tops instead of gas.

The MEI report says that large Victorian homes could save as much as $658 a year if they switched off gas heating and increasingly used air conditioners with "heat pump" technology in them. Tim Forcey, the report's author and energy adviser at the Melbourne Energy Institute will join us to present his key findings on why we should be fuel switching from gas to electricity. 

Download the MEI report here:

Switching off gas - An examination of declining gas demand in Eastern Australia.pdf

Tim's previous podcasts and presentations for BZE include:  

Tim Forcey Discussion Group Presentation: Switching off gas

Tim Forcey- NSW gas demand could halve in 10 years

Tim Forcey, Energy Advisor, The Melbourne Energy Institute

Do You Know What Your Home is Doing Right Now?

Tim Forcey has over 30 years of experience in industrial energy with ExxonMobil, BHP Billiton, and Jemena, including specific experience with assets such as the Bass Strait Joint Venture and the Queensland Gas Pipeline. During his time at the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), Tim led the publication of the 2011 Gas Statement of Opportunities, the 2012 South Australian Electricity Report, and the AEMO 100% Renewable Energy Study - Modelling Inputs and Assumptions.

With The University of Melbourne's Energy Institute (MEI), Tim has published reports and articles covering gas and electricity demand, gas-to-electricity fuel-switching, and pumped hydro energy storage technology and commercial applications. Tim has also worked part-time as a home energy consultant with the Moreland Energy Foundation – Positive Charge and has volunteered with the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) and Beyond Zero Emissions. 

Tim ran some experiments at his own house and found that is cost $4.8/ day to heat his well-insulated house using gas (it would be ~$10/day for an average Melbourne house). He found that it cost $1.5/day by heating his house using heat pumps or reverse cycle airconditioners. 

Tim speaks to expert interviewer Richard Keech who is an engineer, consultant and author with particular interest in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Erwin Boermans - ComfortID - district heating & cooling

Erwin Boermans, Director at ComfortID, joins Beyond Zero's Anthony Daniele to talk about district heating and cooling, demand management and energy storage. District heating and cooling (or District Energy) is common in Europe, Asia and North America. It involves the thermal demand for more than one building being served by a central energy centre. The greater economy of scale allows for innovative technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency and reduce long-term energy costs. Examples of such innovative technologies are Combined Heat and Power (CHP), absorption chillers, recovery of industrial waste heat, biomass and thermal storage to reduce peak demands.

Erwin specialises in technology solutions that go beyond a single site, potentially transforming whole districts and regions by using wasted energy sources to heat and cool other industries and neighborhoods. For residential customers, heat pumps can be the most efficient, cost effective and healthy way of meeting heating and cooling demands. 

Time to ditch the redundant gas network

By Ben Courtice. RenewEconomy

In the record-breaking heatwave that led up to the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, an estimated 374 people died due to the heat – before the fires even started. This is more than double the official figure of 173 deaths in the fires themselves.

Hot weather is a bugbear for many Australians. For the majority, living in temperate areas, summer heatwaves are a source of dread – and not just for the frail, or those in bushfire-prone areas.

It’s even become a topic of national debate – but not because of the early deaths of vulnerable people, or the sweaty discomfort. Rather, because so many people now have air-conditioners due to which electricity networks have implemented expensive network upgrades to cater to peak demand on a few hot days or weeks a year.

Retrofitting Bonanza

To coincide with the launch of the Zero Carbon Australia (ZCA) Buildings Plan in August 2013, Beyond Zero Radio looks at transforming our buildings to zero emissions.The ZCA Buildings Plan is the first comprehensive, nationwide retrofit plan for Australia's building sector. This plan demonstrates how all existing buildings can reach zero emissions within ten years.

Beth talks to Lucy Roberts, BZE Live Retrofit Productions Manager, about the Master Builders Association's Build & Renovating Expo held in July 2013. Lucy ran a set and live performance at the Expo, where an average Australian house was transformed into a zero-carbon, low-energy, high-performance home, showcasing the solutions of the ZCA Buildings Plan. We also talk to a range of exhibitors promoting energy efficient products at the expo.

Trent Hawkins, ZCA Buildings Plan Project Director, explains how retrofit existing buildings for higher comfort and lower running costs can halve Australia's building energy use. Then we talk to Lloyd Niccol, Project Manager Team UoW Australia, the first team from Australia to gain entrance into a Solar Decathlon 2013 in China and the first in the history of the competition to demonstrate how to retrofit an existing home! 

UPDATE since the interview with Lloyd, is Team UoW has won Solar Decathlon 2013 - congratulations!

Retro wins out in high-tech housing contest

Clean electricity makes fossil gas redundant

Climate solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions have today published a briefing paper on the use of gas as a fuel in buildings. The evidence shows that fossil gas' reputation as a clean, safe and cheap fuel needs to be re-considered.

Beyond Zero Emissions have criticised the fossil gas industry for increasingly using dirty and controversial coal-seam gas (CSG) for both export and domestic gas supply.

CSG has raised questions about leaks of the gas from and around the gas wells, as documented on Four Corners last week.

However, even traditional fossil gas mains and distribution networks leak.

CSG wells

The briefing paper was prepared by Richard Keech, who is working on the Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan for BZE.

Mr Keech explained that “In the production and distribution of gas there's leaks all along the way.

“There was some limited data out of South Australia that suggested it was in the order of 7%, but the official figures put it at around 1.5%. In reality it's probably somewhere in between.”

Fossil gas is methane. Mr Keech said “The 20-year climate effect of methane is currently understood to be about 105 times that of CO2. It only takes about 2.6% leakage to effectively double the net climate effect of gas.

“With any technology that carries some risk, we weigh the hazard against the benefits.

“That balance has now shifted, especially as fossil gas supply is now moving to CSG. We're seeing that the hazard is much greater than it was once seen as, and the benefit much less.

“Ceasing gas use in buildings is the low-hanging fruit of a larger fossil fuel phase out that is ultimately necessary if a climate catastrophe is to be avoided.

“BZE concludes that clean electricity now makes fossil gas redundant.”

BZE will release the Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan in mid 2013. The plan will outline how replacing buildings' gas appliances with renewable electricity powered heat pumps and induction cooktops can make a large reduction on carbon emissions and energy use.

This statement has been changed to correct the leakage rate to double the climate effect of methane, which is 2.6% not 1% as we had erroneously stated.

Download the briefing paper here (PDF) http://media.bze.org.au/nogas.pdf
Richard Keech interview on Radio Beyond Zero (podcast) http://bze.org.au/media/radio/richard-keech-130407

Richard Keech - Why no gas in buildings?

Anthony Daniele and Ben Courtice are joined by Richard Keech, BZE researcher for the Zero Carbon Australia (ZCA) Buildings Plan - a blueprint to transition buildings to zero emissions. Richard and the team have released briefing paper drawing on the available research into the various problems of using gas, and conclude that gas use should be phased out (in buildings in particular) – based primarily on its climate impact. Download the paper here: Why no gas in buildings?

Pooran Desai OBE, BioRegional & BedZED eco-village

Pooran Desai OBE is Co-founder of BioRegional and International Director of One Planet Communities, not-for-profit organisations creating an initiative of practical projects and partnerships that demonstrate how we can live within our fair share of the earth’s resources.

Pooran Desai and Sue Riddlestone also created BedZED (Beddington Zero Energy Development), the UK’s first and best-known large-scale mixed use sustainable community, with 100 homes, office space for around 100 workers and community facilities, which was completed in 2002 (in South London).

Gillard misses the real opportunities to reduce power bills and emissions

August 8, 2012

If Gillard wants to support households against price-gouging by electricity companies, she should look closer at renewable energy and energy efficiency, according to think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE).

Electricity retailers accused of over-investing in grid infrastructure (like poles and wires) would lose their justification if peak energy use spikes were reduced.  

One easy way would be to continue with programs such as the ill-fated roof insulation scheme of the Rudd government. Upgrading inefficient airconditioners would be another low-hanging fruit.

“We have estimated that subsidising half the cost of upgrading old, inefficient home aircon units could save the public about $2900 in avoided network upgrade costs per unit replaced,” says Matthew Wright, executive director of BZE.

“Solar panels and wind farms also keep prices down, because they displace the more expensive peak gas generators,” Mr Wright said. “This is known as the Merit Order Effect.

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