Monthly Discussion Group

The monthly BZE Discussion Group is an opportunity to hear from and question experts leading climate change solutions. Topics vary from renewable energy techincal innovations to social and political action. The event is generally held on the first Monday of every month at 6:30pm at the University of Melbourne.

Sunvertec Australian AC optimisers

In a world first, Perth engineering company Sunvertec has developed an AC optimser that is installed on each solar PV panel (like a microinverter). Sunvertec AC optimisers have broken the 99% efficiency barrier and now set its goal towards breaking the cost barrier of US$0.10/W before 2020. These records can be achieved because, unlike microinverters, each AC optimiser unit generates just a portion of the total AC waveform.

EXCLUSIVE! New video released TODAY on the inner workings of the Sunvertec system. See below.

After five years of R&D, founder Kevin Davies leads a family company of software developers and engineers who first revealed their technology at the Australian Solar Council's Solar 2015 conference in May. With many patents secured, Sunvertec is now planning commercial manufacturing in Perth. Kevin Davies is visiting Melbourne to speak at the All Energy Conference in the same week and BZE is very excited to welcome Kevin (electronics engineer) and son Alexander (software engineer) to present this Australian innovation in this discussion forum. Everyone welcome!  

 Below is a video recording of this event or you can click here      to view on the BZE YouTube channel

(Remember to <Subscribe> and also please <Share> and <Like> the video)

Tim Forcey: Switching off gas


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. 

The full report Switching off gas - An examination of declining gas demand in Eastern Australia can be downloaded from the MEI website here.

 Below is a video recording of this event or you view on the BZE YouTube channel

(Remember to <Subscribe> and also please <Share> and <Like> the video)

Further reading:
The Age: 'Heat pump' tech could save Victorian homes up to $658 a year on gas: report
BZE podcast: Tim Forcey MEI - Economic fuel switching
The Conversation: Get more out of your solar power system by using water as a battery
The Conversation: It’s cold in my house and the price of gas is going up – what can I do?
The Conversation: A crash in gas use is more likely than the forecast ‘shortage’
3AW: New report shows 'game changer' to bring down household gas prices
RenewEconomy: Household gas demand to fall 50% within 10 years

Dr David Whaley: Zero energy housing


Dr David M Whaley is an engineer and Research Associate at the University of South Australia who specialises in sustainable housing, energy monitoring, renewable energy systems design and integration. David will present the latest research findings of detailed energy demand data from a near zero energy housing development in Adelaide, called Adelaide Living Laboratory (ALL). This is an action based research project that will inform communities and the building, construction and development industries. It will provide an evidence base that can then be rolled out nationally to enable significant reduction of carbon emissions of the building and construction development sector and urban communities.

David's research publications include topics such as:

“Electricity demand profile in Low Energy Houses”

"The implications of mandating photovoltaics on all new homes"

"Do zero energy homes stay zero energy?"

"In-situ evaluation of water consumption and energy use in Australian domestic water heaters"

“Integrated Solar Thermal System for Water and Space Heating, Dehumidification and Cooling”

David will join us from UniSA via zero emissions video link.

 Below is a video recording of this event or you can click here    to view on the BZE YouTube channel

(Remember to <Subscribe> and also please <Share> and <Like> the video)

Further Reading:
Josh's House-Star Performers Series

Solar Thermal Storage

Robert Mierisch was Co-founder, CTO Emeritus and Key advisor for Terrajoule Corporation, California, whose energy storage solution will overcome the barrier of intermittency for solar energy in electricity generation in our 100% renewable energy future. He is now CTO of 3S Power Pty Ltd.

In 2009, Terrajoule’s CTO Robert Mierisch invented the practical breakthrough that yields thermal energy storage at less than 20% of the cost of any form of battery storage, per kWh electrical of storage capacity.Terrajoule storage does not degrade over time, has no limitation on charge-discharge cycles, lasts at least 25 years, and utilizes no toxic or rare materials.

Further, Terrajoule’s strategy is based on the conviction that distributed power generation will play a much larger role in electricity generation than it has before. Therefore Terrajoule power plants are modular from 100 kW to 10 MW and more. quickly and massively scalable to GW of distributed power generation with modest amounts of investment capital.  Therefore the system components are all established technologies built within existing automotive and industrial supply chains worldwide.  Ramping up production requires no new factories, no new materials, and no new manufacturing equipment or processes.Major problems are sometimes resolved with unexpected solutions. That is the case with Terrajoule.  Who expected that reciprocating steam piston engines would play a major role in 21st century energy growth?

Robert Mierisch was previously Research Director, Thermal Systems at Ausra Incorporated, California with Dr David Mills. He has also had a long career in academia. Robert has now returned to Australia to commercialise his solar thermal storage technology.
We're very excited to be one of the first audiences to hear the latest news.

Below is a video recording of this event or you can click here   to view on the BZE YouTube channel

(Remember to <Subscribe> and also please <Share> and <Like> the video)

Listen here to a previous BZE Radio Podcast Interview with Robert Mierisch

Gerard Drew: The Fossil Economy

Ross Garnaut quote

The Fossil Economy - a new report by Beyond Zero Emissions - investigates the revenue expectation of Australia’s emissions-intensive exports, comparing Australian Government projections with projections from the International Energy Agency. These projections include the business-as-usual New Policies Scenario, and the climate change mitigation 450 ppm Scenario. This indicates a potential shortfall in export revenue growing to AU$100 billion annually by 2030.

Beyond Zero Emissions Research Director Gerard Drew will be presenting the key findings from The Fossil Economy report. Gerard Drew is an aerospace engineer who has worked in automotive design and manufacture, vehicle testing and development, prior to joining BZE. Gerard is the lead author of the Fossil Economy and other BZE reports including the Zero Carbon Australia High Speed Rail plan released in 2014. This studies the feasibility of a high speed train linking the major cities and regional towns of the Australian east coast and was a collaboration with the Melbourne Energy Institute and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).


Electric vehicles and energy storage: what do they mean for the grid?

Electric vehicles and energy storage: what do they mean for the grid?

Dr Julian de Hoog
is a Research Staff Member at IBM Research - Australia, working on a variety of projects in the energy space, across renewables, storage, and electrified transport.
Julian was formerly a Research Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Melbourne and now continues to be involved with the University as an Honorary Research Fellow in graduate student supervision and joint research.

His research expertise covers electric vehicles, smart charging, management of distribution networks, and smart grid applications.


The Future of Solar & Storage

Time: 6:30 - 8pm Monday 13 April 2015


Peter McKernan presents The Future of Solar & Storage.Battery storage, particularly Lithium technologies, are predicted to see dramatic price reductions in the next couple of years due to economies of scale through Electric Vehicle (EV) production. Peter is a power systems and battery expert, specialising in commercial scale hybrid solar with storage. He has seen the economics become more favouarble as his clients - on both sides of the meter! - need energy storage to maximise the benefits of their solar power, and provide peak shaving, voltage stabilisation, self consumption, tariff optimisation and much more.

Below is a video recording of this event or you can click here  to view on the BZE YouTube channel

(Remember to <Subscribe> and also please <Share> and <Like> the video)

Peter McKernan completed a degree in Electronics Engineering at RMIT and an Electrical Apprenticeship at Box hill Technical College. He has completed training in environmental auditing and is a Clean Energy Council accredited designer and installer. He has successfully started, developed and sold three businesses. He has worked in professional audio, power rectifiers, television transmission, construction, mining, manufacturing, power generation and solar systems. 

Peter has been involved in the renewable energy industry since the early eighties. In the early nineties this interest took him to The Middle East, where he demonstrated solar autonomy to people who had no grid. He has worked on a 500KW solar hybrid power system in Kalabakan, Borneo and multiple remote area installations all over Australia. He spent six months at Casey Station in Antarctica where he commissioned the synchronisation system for two 500KW generators. Prior to this he spent ten years manufacturing houseboats at Lake Eildon, Victoria. During this time he developed a range of technologies that enabled these boats to become “five star floating motels” with total solar powered autonomy. He is passionate about science, the environment and renewable energy. 

6:30pm Monday 2 March 2015 - Energy Freedom

Energy Freedom is the new initiative from BZE. Its been up and running for over six months now and already over 1000 Australian householders have pledged to transform their homes. Energy Freedom aims to support and educate Australian households on how they can retrofit and install technologies to make their homes zero-net energy and remove fossil gas as an energy source.

Richard Keech, one of the Principal Researchers of the ZCA Buildings Plan, will recap the key findings of the Buildings Plan as they apply to retrofitting homes and talk about how the Buildings Plan has been translated into a new book for home owners. In the second half of the session, Manager of the Energy Freedom initiative James Bramwell will be facilitating an extended Q&A with you, discussing:

  • What steps you may have already taken with your home to reduce your energy use, install rooftop solar, and perhaps even get off gas.
  • What information or support would help you make changes at your home.
  • What materials can the Energy Freedom initiative provide that would help you promote the idea to your friends and networks.

Any knowledge and experience you can share will help us make Energy Freedom more effective and able to help others!

Below is a video recording of this event or you can click here  to view on the BZE YouTube channel

About the speakers

Richard Keech is an engineer working as an energy efficiency consultant.  He was a lead author of the BZE Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan and is a regular contributor to ReNew magazine, RenewEconomy , and to the recently released Efficient Hot Water Booklet  published by the Alternative Technology Association (ATA).

James Bramwell studied Mechanical Engineering at ANU, and completed his honours thesis on the Green Star Design Program. He worked in environmental assessments and energy efficiency consulting before joining BZE in 2010. As BZE's Public Engagement Director James lead the presenter training program and helped launched major reports. In September 2013 he created the Energy Freedom initiative and in his current role as Energy Freedom Manager James works with the member households, companies, industry bodies, and councils to grow the initiative.

Switching from Gas to Electric

We kick off the new year of BZE's monthly discussion group series with one of our favourite topics - Switching from Gas to Electric.
Craig Memery, Energy Specialist and Consumer Advocate at the Alternative Technology Association (ATA), will present findings of their new report, Are We Still Cooking with Gas?  Many households in Australia would be better off switching from gas to efficient electric appliances - for both financial and enviromental reasons.

The report found that the combination of increasing gas prices and improving electric appliance efficiency is making electricity a cheaper option for many traditionally gas-fuelled energy needs – including space heating, water heating and cooking. Efficient electric appliances include heat pump hot water systems, induction cook tops and split system reverse cycle air-conditioners. The analysis is the first piece of detailed research that considers the impact of future gas price rises on residential households in Australia.

This bolsters BZE's Zero Carbon Australia philosophy as well as our new Energy Freedom program which promotes switching from gas to electric for all households and businesses.  

Below is a video recording of this event or you can click here to view on the BZE YouTube channel

Click here to download the slide presentation (PDF)

Implementing BZE Plans at Emergency Speed

Beyond Zero Emissions is leading the way in developing a detailed, costed blueprint for the transition to a completely Zero Carbon Australian economy with publications of the Stationary Energy, Buildings, High Speed Rail and most recently, Land Use Plan. 
Within 3 years BZE is hoping to complete all the industry sector reports so now is the time to make them a reality!

Philip Sutton, co-author of Climate Code Red, will lead the discussion on:

Implementing BZE Plans at Emergency Speed

Philip will be joined by Adrian Whitehead and Luke Taylor. There are too many vital actions listed in the BZE reports for them to all be implemented in a reasonable time by being driven by single issue campaigns. So the only way to deliver them is by getting governments to adopt the whole package and implement all the major changes at the same time. Speakers will cover how could we build the breadth and intensity of community support so that the government of the day will be forced to commit to the wartime speed economic mobilisation to deliver the BZE package within 10 years.

We will discuss:
- How do you communicate the ZCA plans?
- What would it be like to live in a world where the plans take effect all at once?
- How do we change our mindset to see how it could be possible?

Join us to help build a strategy for 2015 that will see us build our 21st-century renewable energy powered clean-tech economy! 

Further Listening: Frid 14th Dec 2014 Technology Radio Show

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