Renewable Grids

Renewable Grids

Prof Tara P. Dhakal

Beyond Zero speaks to Professor Tara P. Dhakal of Binghamton University, State University of New York, about his research developing high efficiency solar cells. 

Advances in the manufacture of Solar Cells

Prof Tara Dhakal started off with study of Physics and Material Science, working in Kathmandu, Nepal and Japan and later joined the Uni. of Sth. Florida with the aim of making improved thin film solar. He is at present Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, at the State University of N.Y. and it seems he has always been interested in applied research.

Problems of course with solar is the need to access materials that are abundant, non toxic, reliable and not only cost efficient to manufacture but to install. Approximately 25% of silicon can be converted into electricity and it is fairly expensive to process into wafers.  The Professor discussed the possibility of transparent layers for windows and/or roll-out for roofs.

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre 29/7/16)

Further reading:

The Conversation: Getting more energy from the sun: how to make better solar cells

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 www.suncrowd.com.au

 

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)

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.

Dr Helena I. Gomes & Dr Helen Baxter

      

Dr Helena I. Gomes and Dr Helen Baxter from the University of Hull in the UK are researching Vanadium - "the beautiful metal that stores energy".  Vanadium is the key element used in redox flow batteries which can store large amounts of energy almost indefinitely, perfect for remote wind or solar farms. 

Glen Morris

Glen Morris talks about the recent Solar 2016 conference and release of the Battery installation guide by the Energy Storage Council.

Glen Morris is Vice President of Australian Solar Council and Energy Storage Council and well-known in the industry as an expert on solar systems and battery storage. Glen said he has been interested  in electronics and energy since aged 13, has been and still is a teacher of renewable energy courses throughout Australia. He mentioned that the Australian Solar Council is now unbelievably 55 years old and the oldest in the world. Listeners would be , as this writer was, amazed to hear this fact considering the state of play in this country for the last few decades. 

With the Energy Storage Council he said that because there are no installation standards for the large range of newer battery technologies (such as Lithium), there was a need for the Australian Battery Guide to fill in the gap. This battery guide is not only an installer guide, but also a consumer guide for householder (and they are seeking feedback on it). Of course with the cost of solar products falling and the subsequent rise in availability there is a need for prospective buyers to have information on risk factors and reliability available  - and naturally  concerning storage so that one does not have to find the time to wash the dishes and the washing at midday or, as the previous Prime Minister used to remind everyone that "the sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow"!

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre)

Check out Glen's other podcasts:

Glen Morris VP Australian Solar Council

Tom Quinn

Tom Quinn on the future of food 

Tom Quinn is Executive Director of the Future Business Council which represents innovative, sustainable and resilient businesses that will define our future economy. He has also worked in the Sustainability area at the  City of Melbourne. Tom joins the Beyond Zero radio team talking about his early upbringing on a farm which he attributes his interest in wildlife and his subsequent choice of occupation. His interests have broadened to include issues such as 'green' buildings, organic food production, health and nutrition, sustainable irrigation and afforestation, to mention a few.

Tom points out that Australia has a "unique opportunity" with the approach of the end of the mining boom in considering "what comes next". He stresses that there are numerous vested interests and lack of bipartisan support which result in "missed opportunities". However, "there are lots of smart people here" in Australia who are able to transform environmentally sustainable ideas into commercially viable projects. One of the important aims for the future is "carbon draw-down", i.e. taking carbon out of the atmosphere. There are many ways to do this, one of which is reforestation.

Tom announced an event on the future of food security in Hobart on 8th June in conjunction with the University of Tasmania Business School, and hopefully engaging with the Tasmanian community on issues of sustainability and productivity.

The Future Business Council has released The Next Boom report which has found compelling evidence that sustainability should not be seen as a cost, but a business opportunity. Tom also talks about the climate policies we would like to see for the upcoming federal election. 

BZE's Michael also mentioned the Coral, Coal and Climate Change forum on 16th June at Box Hill Town Hall which is sponsored by Lighter Footprints, an active local environmental organisation. Comedian Rod Quantock will be present, as well as local and other candidates, including Shadow Environment minister Mark Butler and local member Josh Frydenberg.

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre)

Dr Stephen Bygrave

Dr Stephen Bygrave

Dr Stephen Bygrave on "Empowering Local Communities" 

BZE radio's Laura, Kay and Michael talked to Dr Stephen Bygrave, CEO Beyond Zero Emissions, who described Australia as a "solar paradise" and rated as third globally on the availability of renewable resources but of course rated most extreme when it comes to emissions per capita. Yet as Stephen says the coal industry is "static" and the COALition is "stuck in the old ways". 

This writer is often inclined to feel depressed at the criminal lack of progress and disinterest displayed in the development of renewables so Stephen feels like a breath of fresh air - somewhat equivalent to that of Tasmanian air being sold to China in tins! Travelling widely it seems, Stephen's plans include developing blueprints for  change  across different states and sectors. Addressing the welcome drop in the cost of batteries he says not to forget the importance of agricultural emissions frequently not so recognised, but no less important than renewables (which he described as "more sexy"). The agricultural sector of course includes land use, land clearing, production and wastage of food, water, transport etc. all of which mainly driven by local communities as it seems are most such progressive movements.

On closing Michael mentioned the Newcastle demonstration. which was held the previous weekend where they were watching some of the coal ships depart and estimating each ship to be the equivalent to 100, 000 cars on the road!  So much for Adani v the Great Barrier Reef!

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre)

Trent Hawkins - Zero Net Energy Towns

Trent Hawkins is Senior Consultant at renewables and energy efficiency consultancy Enhar. He joins Beyond Zero to talk about his latest technical research on Zero Net Energy Towns. This project looks at supporting Australian towns and villages assess and design their own plan to achieve 100% renewable energy over a period of 5-10 years. Trent has completed a report about Uralla NSW which is a Z-NET Case Study Town. 

Trent was the Project Director of the recently published Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan at Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE). The report is a groundbreaking new pathway for Australia's existing buildings to respond to the challenges of climate change, dependence on fossil fuels, and rising energy prices. Trent was a research director with BZE, a climate change solutions think tank for over three years, including playing a role in senior management of the organization. He was a contributing author to the Banksia award-winning Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan. Trent is a Mechanical Engineer with a background in renewable energy and computational modelling.

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.

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