Tag Archives: solar

Bound for South Australia – the Sun seems to Shine brighter?

Garry Baverstock AM, former President of the WA branch of the ISES and ANZSES, founder of solar-e.com.

The State of Western Australia has many attractions and in many ways provides a great lifestyle, though a little dull at times due mainly to a lack of population, business action and strategic placement of higher density living. 


It is changing for the better slowly in most cases, but in the non-mining sector many industries have gone to the wall, closed down or moved overseas. My father was a lead confectioner with Plaistowe and Co, a WA company which was renowned for their sugared almonds, chocolates and licorice products, many supplied to the East Coast as well as overseas. It didn’t survive the wage hikes of the 1970s and closed down in 1983 or so. Many other healthy WA industries in all fields seemed to have died on the vine since, due to wage costs, globalization, or a lack of WA government support for innovation.

WA Solar History

In the 1940s -1960s solar industry entrepreneurs such as Ron Brown of Sola-Ray, and Clarry Small of ‘Smalls Solaheeta’ were leaders establishing the industry concurrently with and eventual domination by Solahart, Edwards hot water systems. I was involved with copper systems for 2010 to 2012 an evolution of the Smalls systems. I started by investigating Sola-Kleen in detail and eventually involved as a joint owner before closing it down due to a lack of viability. It was an attempt to save the industry and keep solar water heaters being made in WA. Since then most WA based manufacturing for solar water heating has disappeared.

Federal Government Rebate Scheme

Thanks to the brilliant and very effective Commonwealth Tax rebate scheme we were able to reinvent the product for application to the PV industry. This was seen as the only way to keep the industry alive.  It meant greatly improving the performance and reducing manufacturing costs. While at this process we as a team invented a new solar air conditioning system that also runs on PV.

Due to a lack of interest in WA which I put down to an overly and unhealthy emphasis on mining innovation, I have had not been able to easily attract capital, nor any innovation grants for IP registration etc. Also there has been no obvious interest for manufacturing interest here. 


My colleague Em Prof Wasim Saman, head of R&D at the School of Engineering at UniSA saw merit in the inventions in built form and backed by physics, engineering calculations and data collected. In 2017 we contracted the university to do independent testing. Since then further improvements have followed. Since 2014 three peer reviewed papers were produced that analyzed the state of solar water heater industry in Australia. This information assisted with not only infirming the whole industry but help our R&D program with useful feedback on the state of the industry and consumer sentiment towards it.

Colleagues in SA including Prof Wasim Saman of UniSA centre, former world Solar energy Society President Monica Oliphant, plus Rick Carter of the Space centre and high ranking EPA officer Roscoe Shelton in May 2019 discussing Climate Change and solar energy

Patent Process

With Patent Cooperation Treaty approval for novelty, inventiveness and industrial applicability we have proceeded with registering our patents globally.

In January we will be meeting the UniSA again to progress with the commercialization phase for both products as well as meeting potential JV manufacturing partners in Adelaide and in Melbourne.

The use of thermal inertia storage is the key to both technologies and will avoid the current high costs of battery storage added to PV which will eventually come down to 15c/kWh once the long life Li – ion batteries come on stream and will be equal to of peak grid supply costs. Thermal inertia storage will be below 2 c/kWh so it will always be a precursor for determining when to use battery storage, even at the lowest life cycle cost as presented in my WREN Conference paper in 2016.

Turning Point for the Solar Industry

2020 looks like being a turning point or solar becoming more mainstream and more importantly much smarter.  There are issues such us quality which need to be addressed. But solar energy and wind has an unhindered path to be supplying 25 – 50% of global electrical energy.

We predict that the next generation of householders will finally adopt passive solar design principles for their houses and retrofitting existing plus use smart technologies such as ‘SolaTank’ hot water systems and ‘MassLinc’ air conditioning. This will save about 25% emissions in the total building sector by the end of the century, preferably sooner.  With adoption of solar powered cars and heavy transport it looks like another 15% could be added to possible emissions savings.

Climate Change Consequences

Prof. Ross Garnaut (in Australia) predicted 90% savings were needed by the end of this century, but the impacts of Climate Change is hitting harder and earlier than thought. Therefore we need to move much faster now. Achieving 40% savings for the total built environment is highly possible and easy actually (say by 2050). Of course so many other measures for farming, population growth, regenerating natural environments including the oceans should make the end of century target possible but much earlier.

Don’t blame the solar industries. We are the heavy hitters providing a clean energy future for the next generations. With entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk taking over it is time for old fogies, including, laggards, luddites, and Climate Action deniers to get out of the way and let smart industries take control and save life (including humanity) as we know it on planet earth. The Solar Council has a big job from hereon.

JV Vision

In 2020 a JV for manufacturing between WA and South Australia or Victoria is our goal. As they say 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing. I am happy to be able to contribute 25% of the global solution using our technologies.

Foxcliffe Farm Ecovillage

Mike Hulme recently sent this update on the Foxcliffe land development at Witchcliffe.

Foxcliffe Farm Ecovillage

Image retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/24/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/24farmli.html

Dear Friends of Foxcliffe Farm Ecovillage,

I am delighted to inform you that the Augusta Margaret River Shire Council unanimously passed the amendments to the Witchcliffe Village Strategy and Local Planning Strategy that are required to enable the Foxcliffe Farm Ecovillage project to proceed to WAPC for approval.

This is the first time in two and half years, since purchasing the property, that I can write to you with some confidence that the Foxcliffe Farm Ecovillage will proceed!

The approval will enable up to 180 homes to be built on the 160acre farm. This will enable around 80% of the Foxcliffe Farm Ecovillage to be utilized for public open space, community vege gardens, dam, orchards, vineyard, recreation, community centre, backpackers/tourist accommodation, etc…

We are confident that we can achieve all of this and 100% self sufficiency in energy and water at an affordable price point of around $400,000 for house and land.

For those of you that haven’t had the opportunity to visit the Foxcliffe Farm Ecovillage it is a magnificent property with an abundance of water and great soil, immediately abutting the wonderful little town of Witchcliffe (at the intersection of Redgate Rd and Bussell Hwy, 10k’s south of Margaret River & 6k’s east of Redgate Beach).

We are hoping to receive WAPC approval by around January 2013, after which we will still have to rezone the town planning scheme (TPS), which will take us the best part of 2013. However, once we have received WAPC approval the project will have the certainty required to complete the detailed planning during 2013, so that we are ready to lodge subdivision and development applications as soon as the TPS amendment is formally gazetted.

We are very excited to be moving forward and thank the Shire’s planning officers and Council for their solid support.

We now have over 200 people who have registered interest in the Foxcliffe Farm Ecovillage; I look forward to keeping you all informed of our progress.

Kind regards,

Mike Hulme

Solar Energy Optimism

The main message from the recent Australian Solar Energy Society [‘AuSES’] 2010 Conference in Canberra, Australia, was very optimistic about the widespread use of solar energy in all its forms.

Having been involved with International Solar Energy Society [‘ISES’]  since 1979, through the West Australian branch and then the Australia & New Zealand Solar Energy Society [“ANZSES’] as an incorporated body, when it came into being in 1984, one could understand my optimism to see something I have passionately believed in as the most sustainable way forward for mankind, has started to become a reality.

No longer will the use of solar energy in all its forms be considered a fringe, “thing of future” any more.   I have written a series of articles that distil my perceptions of the proceedings from a professional standpoint and the political implications of holding this landmark conference in our nation’s capital, Canberra.

Solar Energy - Watts installed

Graph: showing the explosion of installed PV in Australia in the last decade

The way forward from hereon is the encouragement of more focused research in the various fields of endeavour in the diverse world of solar energy applications.

AuSES is destined to have a pivotal role in the next 50 years to ensure that planet earth no longer lives on the edge of energy and environmental uncertainty.

A series of articles that covers what happened in Canberra will be published on solar-e over the next month or so.

Garry Baverstock AM, CEO of www.solar-e.com

2010 President of AuSES, WA

The following aspects will be discussed in articles posted from December 2010 onwards:

– The Week that Canberra Became a National Focus for AuSES in 2010

– The Role of the Built Environment in Using Solar Energy and Addressing Climate Change – A Viable Direction for AuSES

– Political Will and Systems Thinking for Climate Change Needed – How AuSES Can Help

– Nuclear Politics a Real Danger for Progress of Solar and Renewable Energy Progress – Collaboration Needed Not War

– Open Learning and Presentation of Facts – the Key for Greater Use of Solar Energy – AuSES Leading the Way

– New Solar-e.com Will Soon be Ranking Solar Societies and Associations Conference Papers – First Step AuSES

– The List of  ‘solar-e’ Best Papers at Solar 2010 – AuSES Conference in Canberra

Valuable solar-e links:

An Introduction


Solar Power



Self Realisation & Ethics