Household solar

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

Chris Cooper

SunCrowd - the home battery movement from SunCrowd on Vimeo.

SunCrowd is Australia’s first bulk-buy for solar storage solutions. Let’s use our bulk purchasing power to make batteries affordable!  Join the movement at


An entrepreneur in renewable energy

Chris Cooper is Chief Energy Officer and co-founder of SunCrowd, who are helping communities run local bulk-buy campaigns to make rooftop solar and storage easy and affordable. Chris Cooper became a keen clean energy student whilst at high school studying Economics and Geography and he was encouraged by gaining a Winston Churchill Fellowship scholarship which took him overseas to U.K., U.S. and Europe.  He favoured working for a practical change rather than joining academia and to concentrate in a local area.  To achieve this, he co-founded SunCrowd mainly situated in Shellharbour, Nowra and recently launched in SunCrowd Newcastle, NSW, although he has received calls from places as far afield as Alice Springs, Broken Hill and Melbourne. He finds people are keen for information on dispatch and storage of power.

Specialising on local communities seems to resonate with Germany where ownership of power has been returned to local communities. And of course in Australia with the development of rooftop solar despite the drop in feed-in tariffs. At the same time he has found problems in achieving grants and government funding and has found ARENA rather bureaucratic compared with the US which has provided millions in Government grants. ARENA seems to favour large organisations such as AGL.  Hopefully he says his submissions will change this but there is certainly room for that considering the present Prime Minister speaks regularly of "innovation"!

(Summary written by Bev McIntyre)

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

Clay Collier

Clay Collier is serial entrepenur and Co-Founder of Kisensum, a Californian start-up software company dedicated to enabling the integration of energy storage to the grid. Their project at Los Angeles Air Force Base uses software that enables them to integrate energy storage, both mobile (EV's) and stationary to support the grid. Managing the largest vehicle to grid fleet in the world has given Kisensum a unique insight into controlling mobile storage and working with many vendors to complete a complex storage integration project.

Fire safety in solar PV installations

BZE radio is joined by Alessandra Chiaramonte (Alex), Austin Smith & Zachary Hood  - an university student research team from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in the US. They have recently completed a report on the effectiveness of DC isolators for fire safety in solar PV installations in Australia, in collaboration with The Alternative Technology Association (ATA).

Nigel Morris & Solar Supercharge

Beyond Zero talks to Nigel Morris, who is celebrating 23 years in solar energy, about the upcoming Solar Citizens Solar Supercharge conference. He is a wonderful advocate for the solar industry and consumer, has worked with Solar Citizens on a number of projects, also a prolific blogger.  He is currently CEO of retail solar company RoofJuice

Leesa Blazley - Solmax

Leesa Blazley leads business development for Solmax and has also worked on renewable energy projects in both the public and private sectors. Solmax roofing is a product based on the established Aramax roofing system. Solmax is a large-span, steel roofing product for residential and commercial buildings with integrated solar cells. Leasa joins Dr Scott Watkins (formerly Stream Leader, Organic Photovoltaics, Materials Science and Engineering at CSIRO and now Technolgy Developer in a number of start-ups including this one!) to discuss the Solmax roofing products and how they are being used in Solar Energy Hubs for community-scale energy generation and storage in a low-cost, rapidly assembled building.

Alexander Diatlov - Ecoisme household energy monitoring with one sensor

TechCrunch has called Ecoisme, An Energy Consumption Device That Is Too Good To Be TrueEcoisme is an Indiegogo project that uses a single device to track the energy usage of each individual appliance or gadget throughout your home, by using spectrum analysis. Ecoisme Co-founder & Chief Marketing Officer, Alexander Diatlov joins Beyond Zero's Anthony Daniele to talk about this innovative energy saving device. 

In 2014, Alexander, Co-founder Ivan Pasichnyk and their team (from the Ukraine) built the first prototype of Ecoisme at a hackathon where they won a fierce 48-hr competition against many other software developers, inventors and start-ups. The Ecoisme product can single out your home appliances, check their energy efficiency and suggest the best ways for you to save energy (about 30% energy saving).  If you forget to switch off your iron or electric oven, Ecoisme will take care of it, and send you a friendly reminder. 

Ecoisme will be revealing more at CES, the next-generation innovations consumer technologies exhibition, in Las Vegas in January 2016.

A/Prof Frank Bruno wins Eureka Prize

Associate Professor Frank Bruno is the Leader of the Thermal Energy Storage Group within the Barbara Hardy Institute at The University of Adelaide. Frank and his team are 2015 ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology for melting salt to store solar power. They have developed this low-cost energy storage system using the phase-change system.

Frank's current focus is on phase change material (PCM) for thermal storage in applications of refrigeration and concentrating solar power. Funding has been secured from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to establish a state-of-the-art high temperature thermal storage testing facility and from the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI) to develop reliable low-cost phase change material thermal storage for solar power plants. 

A/Prof Alistair Sproul UNSW

Associate Professor Alistair Sproul is a Photovoltaics Lecturer and the Postgraduate Coordinator in the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering at the University of NSW (UNSW). He is the Program Leader (Integrated Building Systems) with the “Low Carbon Living” Cooperative Research Centre (LCLCRC) which works with industry partners and other research institutions such as the CSIRO to research and develop new and improved energy efficiency and renewable energy systems for a low carbon built environment.

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