The Terrors of Fracking and CSG Click here for a blog on methane escape
Rather than debating whether we should move to 15% or 19% or 30% by 20XX, we believe that we are determined to move to 100% renewable energy and all our efforts should be dedicated to obtaining this as soon as possible. All fossil fuel subsidies should be removed. (see exciting breakthrough in storing solar energy below)
Natural Gas of any form is not an option. We now know that this will lead to methane emissions that in the long term will be even worse the carbon dioxide. Wood heating is also very bad as wood burning stoves also create methane and methane is estimated to be at least 30 times worse that CO2 as a green house gas.
Australia quite naturally has moved a long way already in respect to solar power, especially at the domestic house roof variety and, to our surprise, Blacktown is the postcode with the highest proportion of solar powered households.
Interestingly the consumption of energy has declined quite strongly as a result of increased efficiencies and a weak economy but we need to do more. Electric energy from renewable systems is now less costly that electricity from the old coal, oil or gas power stations. Many of the power stations are old and inefficient and need substantial investment to continue but in the current climate this is unlikely to happen and so many will be phased out. The cost of wind and solar power is constantly falling such that the past economic driver towards fossil fuels is fast disappearing. Tidal/wave power is another option often overlooked (read more). But we can still do more.
What can we do, at the community level? (NB Most of the following will save your hip pocket)
Produce our own power in renewable ways - solar, wind
Reduce our power consumption -
a) Insulation - improve our homes' insulation such that we use less oil/gas/coal/electricity to heat the home in winter
and to cool the home in summer.
- Install roof bats.
- Make sure doors and windows are well fitting; use draft excluders.
- Hang up good solid curtains in winter.
- Ensure your fridge seals are closing properly - see if it holds a little piece of paper when you close the door
- Install double glazing - not necessarily the expensive type but cover windows in relatively unused rooms
with bubble wrap or wooden frames with stretched see-through plastic across them.
b) Leave less electrical goods on standby - mobile phone chargers and laptop/tv power adaptors still consume energy
when not connected to the mobile/laptop/tv. You can see this by just how hot these power adaptors can be.
c) Turn things off when not really in use -
- Turn off lights not really needed.
- Shut bedroom or other doors to rooms that do not need heating all day
- Turn off the heating during the day and in the middle of the night if possible.
- Turn off your hot water/immersion heater when you do not need constantly hot water; use a system
that heats the water only when you need it. Off-peak power may be cheaper but it is still mostly burning
d) Use more power efficient systems -
- Use a microwave for cooking small items in preference to heating up an over
- Turn down the brightness of your computer/tv screens
- Use lcd screens in preference to plasma screens (the more modern screens are far more energy efficient)
- Use one of the more energy efficient fridges
- Put the freezer/large fridge in the laundry or garage, i.e. a cold room, and transfer items to a smaller
fridge in the kitchen when needed
A good page on "Energy Efficiency in the Home and Office" can be found on the World Wildlife Fund site here.
Why Burning Wood is actually NOT a Sustainable Solution
Some facts about solar energy:
It is estimated that the earth receives about 175 petawatts of incoming solar radiation. About 30% is reflected away. This lead to a situation where the average temperature of the earth was 14 degrees C. If we had no greenhouse gases at all, it is estimated that the temperature would be 32 degrees less, i.e. -18 degrees C. This shows the importance of GHG and how effective they are. The amount of solar energy in one year is more than will ever be obtained from using up all our non-renewable fossil fuel and uranium. The amount of solar energy arriving on the earth in one hour is more than the we use in one year. Wikipaedia - Solar Energy
Big Breakthrough - Solar power 24 hours - Gemasolar Thermosolar Plant
" INNOVATIVE SOLAR STORAGE SYSTEM GUARANTEES RELIABLE POWER EVEN AFTER SUN SETS. A Spanish solar energy plant has received an international award for developing a system for thermal heat storage which allows it to operate at full capacity after nightfall." Climate Group. Read More See also Wikipaedia page on technology