Monthly Archives: March 2011

Solar World Congress 2011

Scholarships

Kassel University, the host of the International Solar Energy Society (‘ISES’) Solar World Congress 2011, is offering scholarships to scientists from developing countries to participate in the Congress.

Leading researchers, engineers,architects, climatologists and students from around world are expected to participate in the next Solar World Congress (SWC 2011) from 28 August – 2 September 2011 in Kassel, Germany (www.swc2011.org).

The SWC 2011 is a perfect occasion to learn about the latest developments, exchange information and build networks with the international scientific community.

Financial Support

In order to facilitate participation from all around the globe, financial support is being offered to eligible applicants to cover the conference fee and expenses in Germany. Details on the financial support offered, countries included, eligibility criteria and the submission process are are available on application to Jennifer McIntosh  mcintosh@ises.org.

All applicants must submit at least one abstract to the Solar World Congress. Information on the deadline for abstract submissions is available on the SWC 2011 website.

Jennifer McIntosh – Interim Head of Secretariat
International Solar Energy Society (ISES)
Wiesentalstr. 50, 79115 Freiburg, Germany
Tel. +49 761 45906-91     Fax. +49 761 45906-99
Email: mcintosh@ises.org  WWW: http://www.ises.org/

ISES Solar World Congress 2011 – Kassel, Germany
28 August – 2 September, 2011, http://www.swc2011.org

Support Renewable Energy Today – http://join.ises.org

Supporters of Carbon Tax Australia

Action group GetUp reported on supporters of carbon tax Australia who joined a rally in Melbourne, Australia, mid-March where 8,000 supporters of the carbon tax Australia initiative demonstrated agreement with Julia Gillard’s government on the introduction of a carbon tax.

Check out the video showing supporters of carbon tax Australia to see what happened that Saturday and learn how your support can continue to win the fight for a price on pollution.

The 8,000 crowd supporters of carbon tax Australia was in response to and far outweighed, the 1,500 person crowd where representatives of the major energy companies joined an anti-carbon tax rally outside Parliament House, Canberra, to (according to GetUp) “convince polititians that they should be able to pollute for free and avoid responsibility for our kids’ future.”

Join supporters of carbon tax Australia.

 

 

 

Foxcliffe has it Right: A Land Development for the 21st Century

If most Australians were aware of what was going to happen to Planet Earth this century, they would be lining up to buy a house and land package from Mike Hulme. His Foxcliffe development at Witchcliffe, near Margaret River, Western Australia, has it all. Having worked with Mike for many years on many land subdivisions, I know he is fully aware of how to design a sustainable residential subdivision and set guidelines that work.  It is imperative that solid guidelines are attached to property developments to deliver outcomes that are a win for the residents, the community and the environment, by reducing energy and water and conserving the natural world.

Foxcliff Farm Ecovillage - Witchcliffe

Foxcliff Farm Ecovillage - Witchcliffe

Joining forces with a real estate development giant with such high ethics as the Perron Group is also a smart move for all involved. It gives the project the financial clout it needs to succeed. Whilst so many dream, very few successfully act and deliver. Mike Hulme is one of those people. Hulme always commences his developments in the right way. He starts by considering the needs and best interests of the community.  In Margaret River, not everyone is a retired real estate agent or doctor, or has a large bank account.  They may not be rich in financial resources but they are good, down-to-earth people who greatly appreciate nature and want to help co-exist with it. Unfortunately the huge explosion in the demand for large expensive houses by those mainly benefiting from the mining boom in Western Australia, has pushed up consumption, energy use and the sizes of houses. Refer to our article ‘Politics of Housing in the Western World’.

Affordability and the Environment

With building costs skyrocketing over the last few years, many people have had the dream of owning their own home all but destroyed.  Mike Hulme decided from the beginning when buying the land, to not only to do something for the environment, but to also tackle the issue of affordability.  By producing correctly designed, small blocks as part of a wider community, he has combined economies of scale and collective action to reduce the costs of a house and land to within the reach of the average person in the region, as well as to make it attractive for similar people in the city to opt for an alternative style of living. His timing is impeccable as usual, with energy use set to increase by 50% world wide just compounding the greenhouse effect, and producing huge increases in energy prices in the next couple of decades, as all known sources of energy are depleted. His planned lifestyle for the residents may be ‘alternative’ now, but won’t be  for much longer. If the world keeps going the way it is, then we are going to need more of this style of living.  The growth of energy use and the depletion of the world’s energy resources will ensure that conventional lifestyles will not be afforded by anyone except the ‘stupid’ rich, and those lacking public consciousness. Refer to our article on world energy and population trends for the rest of the century: ‘Energy Consumption Growth

Healthy food and fresh clean water is the key to a healthy life and through cutting-edge water technology and productive landscaping, Foxcliffe will deliver these  precious commodities to all of it’s residents and food and water bills will be kept to a minimum.  This will be a great environment to bring up children and create a generation of socially and scientifically, sustainable people.

Sustainable Community Living

Perron & Hulme Developments have had the good sense to enlist Josh Byrne, environmentalist and expert sustainable landscaper and gardener, to ensure that the gardens and landscape are designed in detail to complement Mike Hulme’s vision for the estate. Asked what was the vision for the development Mike Hulme answered as follows: “The vision for the Foxcliffe Farm Ecovillage is to create a world leading sustainable community in Witchcliffe.  The village will comprise 180 strata titled home sites with an extensive range of onsite infrastructure and services to create a world-leading example of sustainable development that achieves:

  • 100% net power generation on site with solar PV and wind turbines,
  • 100% self sufficiency in water through onsite rainwater harvesting,
  • 100% production of seasonal fresh produce on site,
  • Class A recycled water for household garden and toilets,
  • all homes to front expansive open space and community gardens,
  • high efficiency, solar passive homes,
  • affordable house and land packages,
  • onsite wind turbines to provide free charging for up to 100 electric vehicles,
  • a  local energy grid that employs smart grid technology.

Solar-e endorses Foxcliffe

We at solar-e.com are pleased with this initiative and wish Mike Hulme every success for the project.  Solar energy in the forms of passive solar design of the houses, photovoltaic panels and solar water heating will form a lynch pin to make this development a truly ‘micro solar’ economy, when combined with the organic approaches to water collection, grey water and waste recycling, and the generation of bio fuels courtesy of the greatest energy gift, the sun.

The consequences from this development will be far reaching.

Foxcliffe Hhas Iit Right A Land Development for the 21st Century

By Garry Baverstock AM

If most Australians were aware of what was going to happen to Pplanet Eearth this century, they would be lining up to buy a house and land package from Mike Hulme. His Foxcliffe development at Witchcliffe, near Margaret River, has it all.

Having worked with Mike for many years on many land subdivisions, I know he is fully aware of how to designlay out a sustainable residential subdivision and set guidelines that work. It is imperative that solid guidelines are attached to property developmentsto property buyers, d to deliver outcomes that are a win for the residents, the community and the environmentenvironment, their comfort and energy efficiency and the community in, by reducing energy and , water and conserving the natural world.

Joining forces with a real estate development giant with such high ethics aslike the Perron Group is also a smart move for all involved. It gives the project the financial clout it needs to succeed. Whilst sSo many dream, very few successfully act and deliver. Mike Hulme is one of those people.

Hulme always commences his developments in the right way. He starts by considering the needs and best interests of the community. In Margaret River, not everyone is a retired real estate agent or doctor, or hasve a large bank account. They may not be rich inhave much financial resources but they are good, down to earth people who greatly appreciate nature and want to help co-exist with it.

Unfortunatelytely the huge explosion in the demand foreconomy of large expensive houses byfor those mainly benefiting from the mining boom in Western Australia, has pushed up consumption, energy use and the sizes of houses. (rRefer to our article ‘Politics of Housing in the Western World’ http://solar-e.com/articles. ).

With building costs skyrocketing over the last few years, many people have had the dream of owning their own home all but destroyed. Mike Hulme decided from the beginning when buying the land, to not only to do something for the environment, but to also tackle thehe has decided to crack the issue of affordability once and for all. By producing correctly designed, small blocks as part of a wider community, he has combined economies of scale and collective action to reduce the costs of a house and land to within the reach of the average person in the region, as well as to make it attractive for similar people in the city to opt for an alternativee style of living.

His timing is impeccable as usual, with energy use set to increase by 50% world wide just compoundingexasperating the greenhouse effect, and producing huge increases in energy prices in the next couple of decades, as all known sources of energy are depleteds.

His planned lifestyle for the residents may be alternativee now, but won’t be not for much longer. If the world keeps going the way it is, then we are going to need more of this style of living. The growth of energy use and the depletion of the world’s energy resources will ensure that conventional lifestyles will not be afforded by anyone except the “stupid” rich, and those lacking public consciousness. (R refer to our article on world energy and population trends for the rest of the century (refer to: Energy Consumption Growth http://solar-e.com/articles ) ,for the projections for energy and population by the end of the 21st century)

Healthy food and fresh clean water is a the key to a healthy life and through cutting-edge water technology and productive landscaping, Foxcliffe with the help of Josh Byrne will deliver these precious commodities to all of it’s residents, every well and food and water bills will be kept to a minimum. This will be a great environment to bring up children and create a generation of socially and, scientifically, and sustainableility people.

Perron & Hulme Developments have had the good sense to enlist Josh Byrne, environmentalist and expert sustainable landscaper and gardener, to ensure that the gardens and landscape are designed in detail to complement Mike Hulme’s vision for the estate.

Asked what was the vision for the development Mike Hulme answered as follows:

The vision for the Foxcliffe Farm Ecovillage is to create a world leading sustainable community in Witchcliffe. The village will comprise 180 strata titled home sites with an extensive range of onsite infrastructure and services to create a world-leading example of sustainable development that achieves:

100% net power generation on site with solar PV and wind turbines,.

100% self sufficiency in water through onsite rainwater harvesting,.

100% production of seasonal fresh produce on site,.

Class A recycled water for household garden and toilets,

aAll homes to front expansive open space and community gardens,.

hHigh efficiency, solar passive homes,.

aAffordable house and land packages,.

oOnsite wind turbines to provide free charging for up to 100 electric vehicles,.

and Aa local energy grid that employs smart grid technology.

Solar-e endorses Foxcliffe

We at solar-e.com are pleased with this initiative and wish Mike Hulme every success for the project. Solar energy in the forms of passive solar design of the houses, photovoltaic panels and solar water heating will form a lynch pin to make this development a truly ‘micro solar’ economy, when combined withto the organic .

approaches to water collection, grey water and waste recycling, and the generation of bio fuels courtesy of the greatest energy gift, the sun.

The consequences from this development will be far reaching.

Governance and Solar Energy Interview

An informed opinion by Gary Burke to a basic question by Garry Baverstock AM

Gary Burke is a sustainability strategies consultant, specialising in sustainability-framed economics, and at the time of this article was in the process of finalising his PhD. Gary is also an accomplished musician. He has spent a lifetime thinking and investigating how our economy should be based to maximize true wealth and happiness.

Question by Garry Baverstock

What is stopping the mainstream use of solar and renewable energy?

After many discussions I asked Gary, why he thought governments have not supported a comprehensive switch back to a solar economy, when it is obvious for sometime now that this planet is in a dangerous position due to depleted of many energy resources and fossil fuels, and the huge looming disaster of Climate Change?

Here is Gary Burke’s eloquent response.

Key Issue

For me, the key governance issue is ‘why has solar and renewable

energy not already been implemented?’

 

The Political/Economic System

The answer is that the systemic parameters that establish the ‘viability’ are inherently non-sustainable. This is a legacy of the dominance of neoclassical economic theory in the policy world; neoclassical economists dominate treasuries and their way of thinking is about as realistic a medicine was in the 19th century when they would use leeches to bleed people as a cure for most illnesses.

 

What is Sustainable and Understanding the Terminology?

 

To help clarify the situation, I draw a conceptual distinction between ‘non-sustainable’ – which is system-based – and ‘unsustainable’ – which is behavioural. Using this distinction, we can differentiate between strategies that are needed to remediate behavioural unsustainability (e.g. dumping pollutants in rivers) and systemic non- sustainability (e.g. assessing renewable energy as unviable). Non- sustainability requires policy, institutional and epistemological change — i.e. changes in the way we think about things.

 

The Solution

 

The solution is to move towards sustainability, but the problem is that the notion of sustainability has been arrogated by economists, so that, even supporters like you, don’t like to use the word.

 

So governance for renewable energy means both creating a policy framework that can accommodate the complexities of the real world as we now know it (e.g. biophysical limits to the planet, peak oil, butterfly effect, etc), but also there needs to be a disarrogation of policy from the economists who believe everything has a bottom line measurable in dollars and cents. I argue in my dissertation that when sustainability is disarrogated from neoclassical economists (e.g. abolish meaningless and thought-corrupting concepts like natural capital as representations of nature, human capital as representation of human potential, and social capital as a representation of community development), then a sustainability-framed economics becomes possible.

 

In other words, with a sustainability concept designed to accommodate complex and dynamic systems, then we can ask ‘what sort of economics do we need to help us manage in this context?’ So, instead of saying ‘is sustainability economically viable’, we assess economic policy to see if provides sustainability.

 

Switch of Priorities

 

This ‘mental switch’ of priorities, then makes the governance of solar and renewable energy very viable because it stands up when considered in a sustainability context.

 

I detail such a sustainability policy framework in my dissertation: it is derived from biophysical parameters and limits, sustainability principles (e.g. precautionary principle, intergenerational equity, cultural respect, etc), processes that accommodate complexity and dynamic ‘learn as you go’ strategies, and perspectives that acknowledge that humans are able to, and need to live and work with nature in ways that enhance well-being on the planet.

 

This is not pipedream stuff; there is plenty of literature about theory and practice of these aspects: reflexive governance, adaptive management, transition management, community engagement, action research, green accounting, etc. The problem has been that sustainability has been approached with an economic interpretation, rather than as a multidimensional, multifaceted systems phenomenon. I call it the ‘Tragedy of Economism’ because policymakers have simplified the complexity of the issues, and they have arrogated the concept of sustainability, in ways that suit their simplistic, unrealistic, methodologically corrupt approaches to economic management.

 

Therefore, solar and renewable energy strategies are dismissed as being unworkable. I argue that neoclassical economics is non-sustainable and needs to be reconceptualised, and accounting systems recalibrated to accommodate what is really going on in the world. I detail how this may be done in my dissertation.

 

Change is Possible

 

For those who think it is impossible to change, consider the changes made in public health since the end of the 19th century when germ theory was finally accepted after decades of denial: disease was no longer thought of as ‘humours’ from air-borne spirits, but from bacteria in dirty water. The response was a massive investment in

public health and hygiene: engineering, education, social reform… Or consider the abandoment of phlogiston theory in the late 18th century which was still taught when Adam Smith wrote ‘The Wealth of Nations’. Not only did phlogiston theory provide a false account of how the world was constituted (phlogiston was an imagined substance absorbed from the sun and released in combustion as flame) but it also caused scientists to be wrongly focused on trying to understand fire – because it was one of the key elements of the Aristotlean paradigm. When oxygen was isolated (or de-phlogisticated air, as it was known), a group of aware chemists realised that a totally new language and

scientific paradigm was needed to accommodate the world as they now knew it. Hence, the elements of modern chemistry, the periodic table, etc.

 

This paradigm shift was not done easily, or without conflict. It required a group of dedicated scientists and practical realists to insist that chemistry needed integrity that matched current understanding.

 

The other example of paradigm change that is particularly relevant to renewable energy is the abolition of slavery. Although the argument for the abolition was essentially a moral and ethical one, the main argument against it (which is pretty well forgotten now) was an energy-based argument. A slave-based economy had become dependent on a source of ‘free’ energy (ie the slaves): surely the economy would crumble if slaves were freed and people had to pay for labour?! It didn’t because correct, moral and ethical decisions create stronger communities and hence, more confidence to engage in economic activity. The collective guilt is lifted and people lighten up.

 

The parallels with the renewable energy debate are obviously similar: if renewables became mainstream a whole lot of collective guilt would be lifted and people could get on celebrating life and helping to enhance the gifts that life brings.

Paradigm Shift

 

I argue that a similar paradigm shift is needed to countervail the dominance of the inadequate and iatrogenic neoclassical economic paradigm. I demonstrate in my dissertation how this is best done in a free enterprise economic framework, but one in which sustainability frames the viability of investments.

 

Without the paradigm shift, and the concomitant change in thought processes, the implementation of renewable energy will be considered unviable because the economic framework that is doing the viability assessment is itself non-viable. Without the shift towards a sustainability policy framework, platitudes and generalisations about more education, government support, etc will continue to be made. Arguing for renewable energy in the contemporary policy framework that is dominated by neoclassical economic arguments is to remain trapped in a cul de sac. The same arguments emerge time and again. Check out the history of renewable energy organisations and movements; pull out the ‘barriers to renewable energy’ research that was done 20 years

ago. It is all there. The problem is the implementation gap that exists because renewable energy cannot be deemed economically viable in an inherently non-sustainable framework.

 

The good news is that a paradigm shift can be done merely by changing our way of thinking. If we believe that we are homo sapiens, then surely thinking differently is one of the key survival strategies of our species.

 

The other example of paradigm change that is particularly relevant to renewable energy is the abolition of slavery. Although the argument for the abolition was essentially a moral and ethical one, the main argument against it (which is pretty well forgotten now) was an energy- based argument. A slave-based economy had become dependent on a source of ‘free’ energy (ie the slaves): surely the economy would crumble if slaves were freed and people had to pay for labour?! It didn’t because correct, moral and ethical decisions create stronger communities and hence, more confidence to engage in economic activity. The collective guilt is lifted and people lighten up.

The parallels with the renewable energy debate are obviously similar: if renewables became mainstream a whole lot of collective guilt would be lifted and people could get on celebrating life and helping to enhance the gifts that life brings.

 

Gary Burke presents his views in a talk entitled: ‘The Tragedy of Economism: How economists are thwarting effective sustainability policy’ in April, 2011 at Curtin University in Western Australia. Please email www.solar-e.com for further details.

Further reading of Gary’s work on this subject is available in the repository section of this web site.

http://www.solartec.iinet.net.au/solare/main/investment.htm