Archive for ‘South Australia’

August 18, 2011

Sept 24 “Moving Planet” protests/advocacy

In an exciting development on the South Australian climate action scene, a range of groups have united to campaign for Australia’s first concentrated solar thermal power plants in Port Augusta, about four hours north of Adelaide….

The Moving Planet working group in Adelaide aims to put concentrated solar thermal at the forefront of the discussion with a series of banner drops, stalls, displays, doorknocks and speak outs in Adelaide and Port Augusta.

There will also be a Reclaim the Grid street parade through Adelaide on September 24, featuring a moving solar thermal tower and mirror array.

[For more information or to get involved in the Moving Planet campaign in South Australia phone Daniel on 0423 865 632.]

As reported in Green Left Weekly (cue tedious trolling from tedious trolls about ‘watermelons.’)

July 5, 2011

Event Weds July 13: “Mining the Sun”

From the Environment Institute website…

Experts from The University of Adelaide and industry will join Professor Aldo Steinfeld of ETH, Zurich, one of the world’s foremost researchers in the field of mining and resources, to discuss the emerging opportunities to integrate concentrated solar radiation into mining and minerals processing operations and find out how mining and mineral processing companies can lead the way with energy technologies that may eventually contribute to developing renewable energy sources for domestic consumption.

In association with the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Energy Technology, Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources and Environment Institute and the Royal Institution of Australia. Find out more.

Join us at this event.

Date: Wednesday 13 July

Time: 6pm-8pm


June 19, 2011

Youtube – South Australian Climate Impacts

Unofficial and unauthorised overview of the Climate Commission’s recent “South Australian Impacts” report, in a digital minute (100 seconds)

June 16, 2011

“Climate Smart Precincts” Initiative – Adelaide Workshops report

So this page on the Climate Group’s website (quoted below) has a link to the full report they’re talkin’ about.

Date: 14 June 2011

This report is the latest in a series produced as part of Australia’s Climate Smart Precincts Initiative, which involves a coalition of leading businesses and state governments working with flagship urban precincts to test the policies, technologies and new business models that will lead to an integrated, precinct-wide approach to urban growth and redesign becoming the norm.

In February 2011, The Climate Group facilitated two workshops as part of this program, hosted by the South Australian Government’s Land Management Corporation and The Department of Trade and Economic Development. Participants included Arup, Delfin Lend Lease, GE, IBM, Johnson Controls and Origin Energy, as well as the Green Building Council of Australia, the Monash Sustainability Institute, Sustainability Victoria and South Australia’s Integrated Design Commissioner. Other participants of the Climate Smart Precincts Initiative include Cisco, Better Place and Alstom power.

The workshops looked at two real-world development sites in Adelaide – Bowden Village and Tonsley Park – examining the ideas and opportunities for designing them as Climate Smart Precincts. The Report outlines the nature and extent of the discussions during the site visits and the workshops, recording participants’ observations, insights, relevant case studies and suggestions.

The nature of the workshops and discussions also mean that many of the observations and suggestions will hold broad applicability to future development, in Australia and around the world, as part of the Clean Revolution.

June 14, 2011

Impending events local and national

At a State Level, the Essential Services Commission of South Australia will present modelling on each of 4 solar feed-in tariff option, ahead of Parliament sitting again on June 21 to debate the State Government’s legislation to raise the tariff to 54c/kWh and close it off to new entrants from October.

See ‘Tiser story here.

At a federal level, this Friday sees a business round table discussion with the government on the issue. So expect to see all sorts of scare stories about the sky falling in the Murdoch “news”papers on Friday morning, and on Saturday. No change there then…

June 11, 2011

State Budget – Conservation Council SA nails the issue…

couldn’t be said better than this below… (from here)

The Conservation Council SA is once again disappointed to see the complete disregard for the environment in the 2011/12 State Budget.

In the Treasurer’s budget speech there was not a single mention of climate change, not a word about the environment, no reference to sustainability. As Australia’s climate policy chases its own tail and our emissions continue to grow, the legacy of this inaction will manifest in our ecosystems and our natural resources.

These systems are not invincible, they operate within fixed biological parameters. As the climate changes, we will see threats to many of the natural systems and services that underpin our state’s economy. Yet the budget that articulates our priorities for action conveys absolutely no sense of this. We’ve got great targets like Lose No Species, but how can we possibly expect to achieve these goals while environmental spending continues to decline?

Spending on the environment has been on a downward trajectory for the last four years, now accounting for only around 2.5% of our state’s total expenditure. Similarly, staffing in the environment and water portfolios continues to drop, with over 350 FTEs lost in the last three years.

This is a woeful undervaluing of our natural heritage, which provides the ecosystem products and services our primary industries and lifestyles depend on.

June 7, 2011

They Call Him Bruce*

The best daily paper published in Adelaide, the Advertiser, reports that “former Economic Development Board chairman Bruce Carter has been appointed to two climate-change bodies.”

Those two bodies are
a) The Premier’s Climate Change Council

The Premier’s Climate Change Council (PCCC) is a high-level independent council that advises the Premier of South Australia Open in new window on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change.
Members of the council come from South Australia’s public, private and not-for-profit sectors with backgrounds including business, natural resources, science and environmental management. PCCC members are appointed for a term of up to three years.
The PCCC was established under Division 2 of South Australia’s climate change legislation.

b) The board of RenewablesSA.

Its charter is to:
* Develop and oversee the implementation of a framework for attracting renewable energy investment to South Australia
* Provide strategic advice to the Government on renewable energy policy issues
* Develop pathways for investment for the various sectors of the renewable energy industry and for the various stages of the investment process, namely research and development; deployment; downstream manufacturing; services; and related industries such as transmission and distribution
* Recommend to the Premier disbursements from the Renewable Energy Fund.
The Board is expected to meet six times per year. Although it is not a statutory Board, it is required to provide the Premier with an annual report on its activities.

*I know, I know, titles of blog entries are supposed to be straightforward factual – “Bruce Carter appointed to two boards” or some such. But I thought maybe the reference to this film might be amusing…

June 5, 2011

Zero Carbon Challenge

This text below is cut and pasted from the website of the South Australian Land Management Corporation. (hat-tip to Tim Horton South Australian Commissioner for Integrated Design for the tweet)

LMC, in partnership with the Integrated Design Commission (IDC), is challenging the development industry to aim for zero carbon, in an exciting new competition that could offer a glimpse into the future of housing in South Australia.

The Zero Carbon Challenge aims to engage the architectural, development and construction industries to submit a design, and for the winning team to construct a ‘zero carbon’ house at Lot 61, Lochiel Park.

Submissions are sought from interested people, professionals and consortia, and each team must contain an architect, an engineer and a student. The brief is to design a three bedroom home, considering the embodied and operating energy that minimises the impact for the life of the building (50 years).

The project will consist of two entry stages.
1. Call for Expressions of Interest – click the link on the right of the page for further information.
2. From these, up to five teams will be selected to take the project to full design/documentation stage. Each of these teams will be given $10,000 to cover their costs of preparing design submissions.

An information session has been organised for anyone interested in participating in the Zero Carbon Challenge. The event will take place at the Sebel Playford Hotel on North Terrace, Adelaide from 2-4 pm on Wednesday, 15 June 2011. For further information or to book a place at the session please contact Cristina Guglielmini on (08) 8207 1352.

While this is great, I’m kinda hoping most time, money and intelligence is going into retrofitting technologies, since housing stock has a very very slow turn-over. Most of the houses people will be living in in the year 2050 have already been built…

May 31, 2011

Water and Climate Change and Adelaide…

On Monday 30th May four excellent speakers yesterday gave Adelaideans a free chance to learn more about water and climate change and even the nature of science itself. The event, part of the “4 in 40” series, took place at the Flinders Street Baptist Church, and was organised by the Water Research Centre at the University of Adelaide and the Department for Water. Under the banner “Four in Forty,” each of the ten minute presentations outlined current research and its implications.

Dr Graham Green of the Department of Water chose to focus on work done around changes in supply (run-off, ground water recharge).
He explained that small changes in climate could lead to large changes in the amount of water available for human use (there were lots of numbers, and charts and you’d best wait for the audio download rather than rely on my scrambled recollection). He explained how his team’s modelling was carefully constructed, looking at past variations in the amount of run-off and the ground-water replenishment during winter variations, showing there is indeed sensitivity to climate.
He then outlined work that had been done looking at rainfall and water availability in the Clare Valley using low and high emissions scenarios (based on humans either doing a lot or virtually nothing to control their carbon emissions). Potentially very scary times ahead, methinks…

Next up, Mark Thyer outlined the challenges in calibrating models of ecological systems, and why getting it right matters (simply put – if models give poor details, poor management decisions will result, and understanding and quantifying uncertainty will also allow scientists to figure out what is wrong with the model and fix it).
He showed how at any stage along the “inputs – processes – outputs” line error could creep in. He ran out of time before he could really explain his very Doctor Who-ish “BATEA” (Bayesian Total Error Analysis”) [7 page pdf here] , and although there was probably too much material for 10 minutes (my cerebro-spinal fluid was leaking out my ears by the end of it), I’m very grateful that he covered the ground he did. It’s important to realise that the caricature of climate models that denialists spread – that they’re simply computer models dreamed up and then left untouched – is totally false.

Next up was Brad Udall, of the University of Colorado and NOAA. He engaged the audience by asking how many knew of the concept of the Anthropocene (the word invented by Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen to describe the new geological age of human impact on the Earth). He also recommended the latest edition of the Economist, with the cover story “Welcome to the Anthropocene” (it’s the one with the 16 page slaggng off of Australian political discourse!)
He wanted us to realise that climate change is mostly about (changes to) the water cycle, and he wanted to get across the almost Buddhist notion of needing “the Right priorities, the right science and the right management.”
He got the first big laugh of the day by showing a cartoon of a scientist pointing at a pie chart and saying “the trouble is 56% can’t do the math and 54% won’t do the math.”
He pointed out that climate change will affect water cycles in “scary ways” and contrasted the 20th century water management (“demand has increased, we’d better go and get more supply”) with 21st century management, which would need to be much cleverer and iterative.
He threw in a very useable quote by one T Morris Longstreth quote “Of course we weren’t lost. We were merely where we shouldn’t have been without knowing where that was.” [see pdf of Udall’s here]
He also recommended a Policy Forum 2008 article “Stationarity is Dead.”
He (controversially) gave Australia an “A” for its water management, contrasting it with America (an F). The correct priorities, he said were a) the Environment, b) Critical Human Needs and c) Agriculture. The American system, he expounded during the questions, was based on a “first in line first in rights” system dating back to the 1850s, and not fit for purpose.

On the question of science he was at pains to pint out that models are not crystal balls, and that they don’t give policy makers the sorts of answers they are looking for (models don’t get variability right, or scales etc), and that there is a lure of false certainty to be resisted.
He cited the aphorism “model for insights, not outcomes” and President Eisenhower’s line “Plans are worthless, planning is everything.”
In the future, Prof Udall said “Group learning is mandatory.”
The right management, he felt, would have to be aimed at discovering robust, resilient and adaptive solutions. More important than “averages”, which hide more than they reveal, he felt that Probability Distribution Functions – giving ranges of likely outcomes – were crucial.
He warned also that “robust will not be cheap” and dismissed 2050 targets were any use, since reality will be “a moving target.”

Udall’s was a hard presentation to follow, but John Tibby acquitted himself very well. He was presenting Dr Jennie Fluin’s work on “A paleo perspective on the history of the Lower Murray and its relationship to past climate.”
He presented his conclusion first (since he was sure he’d run out of time) and it was that “Under climate ‘boundary conditions’ similar to present there have been periods of low flow longer than experienced [in the last 170 years].”
He then launched into a fascinating account of how scientists can be confident of that scientist, involving different diatoms that thrive in conditions of different salinity and pH and flow. There’s evidence for sustained periods of both higher and lower flow in the past….

There was time for some questions. I asked Graham Green about which emissions scenarios they’d used (B1 and A2, as per the wider work they were fitting into; he kindly explained afterwards why that was the case, pointing out that as far as the short-term [2030] goes, there’s not much difference between the A1F family and A2), and asked all the panellists if, since there is growing uncertainty in the modelling, should scientists be flagging to policy-makers that there’s a more-than-negligible chance of rapid/severe change.
Graham Green felt that it was up to the end users to decide what level of uncertainty they were tolerating, but mentioned that if the risk profile is such that you can’t change rapidly [desalination plants don’t get built overnight, as Mark Thyer pointed out in his answer to the same question] then policy makers may need to bet high. Mark Thyer broadly concurred, and pointed out that it was important to make sure systems were resilient, but that this wasn’t easy to do.

Brad Udall was then questioned on his rosy assessment of Australia’s response. He admitted that after being here for 2 months he was able to see warts, but asserted that relative to water reform worldwide, Australia was ahead of the game. He used the lovely aphorism “I’d rather be upstream with a ditch and a shovel than downstream with a decree.” Adelaide is downstream…

There was a further question on the modelling and the amount of sensitivity to variability.
Mark Thyer confessed that a lot of the end-users are still – understandably – very keen simply to be told what number to put into their models but that he nonetheless does not advocate a single number approach, but rather putting a range of scenarios (or inputs) into the models of the system to be tested to see how it will react to future changes…. Brad Udall pitched in, reiterating that the Anthropocene changes some of the base expectations, and advocating “get a lot of very smart people in a room and don’t assume anyone has the answers”.

The final question was on the ethical implications of this research, and the likelihood of massive die-off of humans, especially in poorer countries. You could see the panelists play “pass the parcel” until Brad Udall offered some observations that scientists are wary of entering such terrain, though some have (he gave the example of James Hansen), since it come with the risk of tarnishing a reputation for ‘objectivity’.

The session then concluded with tea and coffee and biscuits and the traditional flurry of exchanged business cards.

Kudos to the hosts, and the panelists – most informative…

Other links
Water Connect – The WaterConnect website is your link to the latest information about South Australia’s water resources and water activities. WaterConnect offers you direct access to water-related data, applications and publications.
Goyder Institute – The Goyder Institute supports water resource policy and management in South Australia through scientific research.

May 29, 2011

Sun setting on solar rebate?

There’s a v. good piece by Mike Smithson in the Sunday Mail (29/5/2011) on the issue of the soon-to-be-ended South Australian solar rebate.

DON’T rush out to purchase solar panels for your roof in the hope of saving big bucks courtesy of government kickbacks because you’ll be joining the end of a very long queue.

The Greens say new government measures to stop the stampede of householders cashing in on juicy rebates could have been better managed, and I agree.

The Rann Government has announced new legislation that will axe feed-in tariffs for new installations after September. That leaves the solar panel industry rushed off its feet for the next four months but then facing dark times.