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.

Dr Hugh Saddler: Why is electricity consumption decreasing?

For more than a century the quantity of electricity consumed in Australia was more than the year before. That all changed in 2010 and electricity consumption has been falling for the past four years. Dr Hugh Saddler, Principal Consultant, Energy Strategies, at pitt&sherry is author of The Australia Institute report Power down: Why is electricity consumption decreasing?

Dr Saddler will talk about, the three largest factors contributing to the dramatic changes in demand for electricity:
1) the impact of energy efficiency programs,
2) structural change in the economy away from electricity intensive industries, and
3) the response of consumers to higher electricity prices.

Dr Saddler takes an in-depth look at each of these factors in his report, explaining what impact they’ve had on Australia’s falling use of electricity. He will join us via video link.

Slide Presentation here
Audio Capture here

Andrew Reddaway ATA - Sunulator's economic feasibility of a solar system

Andrew Reddaway is an Energy Analyst at the Alternative Technology Association (ATA).  He has expertise in modelling energy and business operations, including experience working with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). He was also a key contributor to the BZE Zero Carbon Australia (ZCA) Buildings Plan.

Andrew has created Sunulator - a free tool which estimates the economic feasibility of a solar system. Sunulator is a simulation tool that can help you plan a grid-connected solar project. Based on half-hourly consumption and generation data and electricity tariff information, it calculates the impact on your electricity bill and projects the savings over a 30-year time frame. Financial results include payback period, net present value and return on investment. Sunulator is designed to assist community organisations to install solar systems via additional investment options.

Slide Presentation here
Audio Capture here

Political campaigning for climate change and the Victorian state election

Politics for climate

Climate change & environmental issues have been constantly attacked by the Victorian
government. The upcoming state election in November is a critical campaign for our climate! Join us for practical solutions on how you can make a difference.

Ellen Sandell, Greens candidate for Melbourne, is campaigning on issues such as, investment in public transport - not the East-West toll road - and strong action on climate change. The Greens are proud of running grassroots campaigns that are driven by our volunteers. Learn how you can help Ellen become the Greens' first lower house MP in the Victorian Parliament.

Adrian Whitehead is a 25 year environmental campaigner, educator and public speaker and co-founder of Save the Planet and Beyond Zero Emissions. Adrian founded Save the Planet after he saw a need for a party to focus on global warming and call for solutions that actually have a chance of saving us.

Philip Sutton is Co-author of Climate Code Red and Manager of RSTI (Research and Strategy for Transition Initiation). Philip is also the Save the Planet team leader for the development of a Community Mobilisation Plan for the Emergency Restoration of a Safe Climate for the Darebin Municipality.

Prof David Karoly - Climate science and Australian impacts: What's new?

Time: 6:30 - 8pm Monday 4 August 2014

Fritz Loewe Theatre (entry via level 2)
McCoy Building
University of Melbourne
Cnr Elgin & Swanston Streets, Carlton


Climate science and Australian impacts: What's new?

In 2013 Australia experienced it's hottest year in the instrumental record, and this year dramatic new research on tipping points in Antarctica is being called a "game changer". Professor David Karoly will join us to talk about this research and its Australian impacts.

David Karoly is a Professor of Atmospheric Science in the School of Earth Sciences and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of Melbourne.
He is an internationally recognised expert in climate change and climate variability, including greenhouse climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion and interannual climate variations due to El Niño-Southern Oscillation.

Professor Karoly was heavily involved in preparation of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released in 2007, in several different roles.
Professor Karoly is a member of the new Climate Change Authority in Australia. He is also a member of the Science Advisory Panel to the Australian Climate Commission, the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, and the Joint Scientific Committee, which provides oversight of the World Climate Research Programme.
Professor Karoly joined the School of Earth Sciences in May 2007 as an ARC Federation Fellow funded by the Australian government. 

Further reading:

Explainer: how are IPCC reports written?

Australia’s hottest year was no freak event: humans caused it
The blame for rain is mainly done in vain

Richard Keech - How Heat Pumps work

Dave and Joe

Heat Pump domestic hot water was a key recommendation from the Zero Carbon Australia (ZCA) Buildings Plan which was released in 2013 to demonstrate how all existing buildings in Australia can reach zero emissions within ten years. Principal researcher Richard Keech will present:

How Heat Pumps work

Heat pump hot water systems use 80% less energy than gas and standard electric-based hot water systems. Richard's presentation will cover:

  • refrigeration cycle
  • thermal modeling, energy calculations and cost savings
  • Coefficient Of Performance (COP)
  • comparison with solar water heaters
  • taking gas out of the equation
  • choosing a heat pump water heater for your home
  • bust common myths

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).

Earthworker has recently introduced a heat pump retro-fit product designed by Siddons Solarstream,  - here represented by managing director Mr Chris Siddons - that can be added to an existing tank, called the Solar BOLT-ON heat pump. Earthworker founder Dave Kerin has just launched a crowdfunding & facebook campaign to install these BOLT-ON solar hot water heat pumps in low income households. Joe Caygill, Director at Everlast, will also join us to tell us about manufacturing Everlast Solar ready stainless steel Tanks with Earthworker. Follow Earthworker on Twitter with @Earthworkercoop.

2 June | Vicky Fysh — — Divestment and the Climate Wars

Led by Australia, Go Fossil Free Australia is a national divestment campaign to move public institutions’ and individuals’ money out of fossil fuels and into clean energy. 

Vicky Fysh is Australia's National Campus Divestment Coordinator and the Coordinator of Fossil Free Melbourne University. She mentors and trains 15 grassroots campus campaigns that are calling on their universities to stop investing in fossil fuels. Vicky will also talk about fossil fuel divestment for superannuation and banks and other activities by Pacific. 


Bruce Mountain and Paul Szuster CEM. Rising electricity prices - how rooftop solar helps

Bruce Mountain, Director at Carbon and Energy Markets Australia (CME), has just completed a study comparing power prices from around the world. Australia's electricity prices have doubled over the last five years, making it near the highest in the world.

The traditional model is under threat from consumers being able to produce their own electricity through (rooftop solar) PV systems and possibly increasingly through battery storage and other means to delink from the grid totally. And as they delink, the pool of customers left gets smaller, the total costs of the industry has to be recovered on a smaller customer base, and so prices rise, more consumers leave, and eventually the whole industry can die. This is known as the death spiral and has taken hold in Europe. Join us for a wide-ranging discussion covering solar, the Renewable Energy Target (RET), networks and related issues. CME consultant Paul Szuster will be co-presenting. Paul is an energy analyst with particular interest in the impact of energy policies on utility business models.

Further reading:

ABC Background briefing - The Price of Power
Is rooftop solar the beginning of a new order?

Gerard Wedderburn-Bisshop - Forestry & Agriculture emissions

Gerard Wedderburn-Bisshop is Executive Director of the World Preservation Foundation, an organisation whose aim is To assimilate, document and present scientific data relating torelating to climate change; including deforestation, disease, drought and global hunger. Gerard has had a distinguished career working as a Principal Scientist with the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Resources Management Remote Sensing Centre until 2010.

Gerard is a lead researcher for BZE's Zero Carbon Australia Land Use Plan which is to be released during the year. He will present tonight on Forestry & Agriculture emissions.

He was responsible for assessing and monitoring vegetation cover, structure and trend across the state. This involved leading a team of remote sensing scientists to develop satellite monitoring methods to cover an area of 1.7 million square km. each year.

Following 37 years with federal and state government, Gerard is now engaged in communicating environmental issues and pursuing his life interest in sustainable home design. Gerard joins us via Skype.


Presentation Audio

Time: 6:30 - 8pm Monday 7 April 2014 Fritz Loewe Theatre (entry via level 2)

McCoy Building
University of Melbourne
Cnr Elgin & Swanston Streets, Carlton

Public transport: Stop 111 Cnr  Elgin & Swanston Streets on tram routes 1 & 8. Entry to building is on south side of Elgin St up the ramp.Entry: Gold coin donation

Thank you to the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Energy Institute, our Zero Carbon Australia project partners for supporting us in bringing you this event.

Nigel Morris: The inevitable rise and rise of solar power in Australia

BZE's recently released Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan shows the potential for 33GW of roof top solar photovoltaics (PV) across Australia. Leading solar PV industry advisor & outspoken advocate, Nigel Morris, will speak on:

The inevitable rise and rise of solar power in Australia

- PVs growing and remarkable contribution
- The growth of underlying PV markets
- Why it’s getting harder to connect
- PV cost trajectory and rationalisation
- Why the RET is awesome and needs to be saved!

Nigel Morris is the Director of SolarBusinessServices. After almost 20 years working for other companies SbS Director Nigel Morris, established the company in 2009 with a view to providing other organisations with the benefits of his wide experience in the renewable energy industry. He is also an electric vehicle enthusiast and has appeared on Beyond Zero Radio's tech show. Nigel will join us via Skype.

 Presentation Slides

Further reading:

2014 – We may have a lot of coal, but we’ve got a lot more sun.

Australia’s astounding PV contribution – now live!

Government lobby’s Government for more gas, less solar

Sam La Rocca - Using Adam Bandt campaign win for climate action

Sam La Rocca, Chief of Staff to Adam Bandt federal Greens MP for Melbourne, is commencing 2014 with urgent climate action.

Despite the increasing extreme weather events, bushfires and record breaking temperatures, Tony Abbott is threatening to repeal clean energy and carbon pricing laws with the change in the senate later this year. It is critical that we actively support the people's movement for urgent climate action.

Sam La Rocca is an experienced strategist, activist and organiser. He led Adam Bandt to a record victory in the 2013 federal election using good old fashioned door knocking, phone calls and community organising. He will present learnings from the election campaign (including tips from the Obama campaign) and where to next for the Greens' climate action campaign.  Join us for this exciting opportunity to get active in one of the most successful community campaigns ever seen.

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