200911

No Time Like The Present

There are a range of factors that influence the affordability of household renewable energy (such as solar photovoltaic cells and solar hot water). The rebates, solar credits and Renewable Energy Certificates (REC’s) are a complex blend of policy that interact to provide incentives for households to invest in renewable energy. The amount of benefit to an individual household varies depending on the size of the renewable energy system being installed, the amount of sun exposure, and the current market value of Renewable Energy Certificates. All these factors will vary, and I would suggest that household speak to local renewable energy suppliers about the cost of solar hot water and solar photovoltaic cells. The REC’s and solar credits affect the up-front capital cost of renewable energy. The other side of the equation is the value of the electricity generated from renewable sources, and this is dependent on a feed-in-tariff. This is where things start to get really exciting!

On 10/111/09 the NSW government announced a feed-in-tariff for the state which will take affect from January 2010. A feed-in-tariff is a premium purchase price for electricity generated from renewable sources, and provides further incentive for renewable investment. That tariff can be either net or gross. A net tariff is a price paid for electricity generated above what the household consumes. A gross tariff is a premium purchase price for all the renewable energy generated, irrespective of household consumption. A gross tariff is therefore worth significantly more to households, and is a stronger financial incentive to put solar panels on roof tops.

This week the NSW government announced a gross feed-in-tariff of 60 cents for every kilowatt hour of renewable energy generated, for all renewable energy installations up to a 10kW system. That means that a small household 1kW system of photovoltaic cells will make a household over $800 per year. A larger system, say 10kW, will make a household close to $10 000 per year. The reason why that is exciting is that solar panels will become a sound financial investment. No longer are solar panels the domain of people who have enough money to invest, or who are environmentally concerned. Solar panels are now a way to make money! The pay back period for solar panels will now be reduced to significantly less than 10 years, and over the 30 year life span of the panels, a 2kW system will make the household close to $50 000. That starts to sound like a pretty good investment.

The bottom line is the bottom dollar. If you can afford solar panels, then you can’t afford not to install them. There has never been a better time to invest in solar panels than right now.
Matthew Nott

Change

Many generations throughout history have witnessed rapid change. Look at the last 100 years. In 1900, NO-ONE had flown a heavier than air craft. In 1900, who could have predicted that humans would be able to fly in passenger aircraft, carrying nearly 500 people safely across the globe, non-stop from Sydney to London? Jumbo jets went commercial in the early 1970’s, 67 years after the Wright Flyer 1 flew for 3 seconds at Camp Kill Devil Hills. In 1900, who could have believed that man would walk on the moon later that century?
The last 100 years have seen incredibly rapid change. The next 100 years will bring even greater change.

Who could believe at the start of the 21st century that that the human race will rapidly transition to a world without fossil fuel. At the start of the 22nd century, humans will look back and marvel at how quickly we were able to transition away from a fossil fuel dependent economy. In 2100 the world will be powered by technology that we haven’t even thought of yet.

We are about to witness a rate of change that has no historical precedent. We are entering the most exciting of times.
Matthew Nott

HIGH NOON DEBATE

There was a very interesting photo on the front page of the Weekend Australian last Saturday. It was a photo of 80 year old Kevin Court emerging from the waves after a swim at Wollongong’s North Beach. The photo was headlined “Science Is In on Sea Level Rise: 1.7mm”.

Kevin has been swimming at North Beach for 50 years, and hasn’t noticed any change in sea-level over 5 decades. I think the point of the photo was to demonstrate to people that concern over sea-level rise is alarmist.

Since Kevin started swimming at North Beach, sea-level has risen by about 10 cm. No wonder he has been unable to detect change! The Australian Baseline Sea-Level Monitoring Project has been monitoring sea-level rise around Australia, and they have been able to detect changes in sea-level. It is well worth looking up their findings at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology web site. Their results indicate to me a rate of sea-level rise of significantly more than 1.7mm per year.

Sea-level rise is one of the impacts of climate change that is likely to significantly affect us in SE NSW. It is important that we as a region look seriously at the science of the problem. Rob High and I will be debating the science of climate change as part of the Bega Festival. The debate will be on the science of climate change, and the extent of the problem. This is the ‘High Noon’ debate, and will be held at the St Johns Church Hall on Saturday 21/11/09 at 12 midday. The debate will be chaired by Tim Holt from ABC radio and the purpose of the meeting will be to encourage community feedback and input.

We are hoping to have a dispassionate discussion, and I would like to invite anyone that has an interest in the subject to come along. There will be a diversity of people and opinions, and it promises to be a very interesting hour or so.
Matthew Nott

It’s all about risk

There has been a lot of media speculation about sea level rise over the past couple of weeks. The science of climate change suggests that sea level rise is a threat that should be taken seriously.

Last week, a senior Federal politician made a comment about the threat of sea level rise. He pointed out that sea level last century rose by 20 cms, and no-one noticed. He implied that concern over sea level rise is alarmist.

There are a few uncontroversial facts that need to be pointed out.

Sea level has been stable over the last 3000 years. It seems likely that sea level changed by no more than 20 cm over that time period. During the 18 century, sea level did not rise. The 19 century saw several centimetres of rise. The 20th century saw 20 cm of sea level rise, and a mid range prediction for the 21st century is half a metre. For thousands of years, sea level has been stable, but over the last 100 years, sea lvel has been rising, and it has been doing so at an accelerating rate. Over the last 100 years, sea level rose at a rate of 2mm/yr. Over the last 50 years, the rate is now over 3 mm/yr. This century will see warming temperatures, which will accelerate sea level rise.

To ignore sea level rise is short term thinking. The key question is how much sea level rise we should prepare for. The answer to that question lies in how much risk we are prepared to take. At least one of our Federal politicians is happy to accept a large risk by saying that sea level rise is alarmist.
Matthew Nott