Snowy Hydro gets a boost, but ‘seawater hydro’ could help South Australia

The federal government has announced a A$2 billion plan to expand the iconic Snowy Hydro scheme. It will carry out a feasibility study into the idea of adding “pumped hydro” storage capacity, which it says could power up to 500,000 homes. The Conversation

Hydro is one of the oldest and most mature electricity generation technologies. And pumped hydro storage – in which water is pumped uphill for later use, rather than simply flowing downriver through a hydro power station – is the dominant form of energy storage globally.

But there are limitations to how much freshwater hydro can be accessed, so it’s worth looking at what alternate approaches are available. One promising prospect is to use seawater instead of rivers. This tactic could potentially help South Australia resolve its highly publicised energy problems. Continue reading

We need to talk about undies

Yes, your undies are a very private thing. Comfort and style are immensely important, and no doubt you’ll have a strong personal preference. But we do need to talk about undies.

Do you know what nasties are riding along with your favourite undies?

Residual chemicals in clothing

It’s a significant issue in clothing, particularly for people with sensitive skin, and especially in underwear that hugs our skin so closely. So much so that Choice recommends:

wash any new clothes twice before wearing, although washing won’t remove certain types of chemicals

Continue reading

A chat with Sir Tim Smit – co-founder of the Eden Project

Today I had a chat with Sir Tim Smit, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of the Eden Project, ahead of his forthcoming presentation for the Planet Talks at WOMADelaide 2017.

In the prologue to his book, Eden, two sentences stand out, and they sum up the spirit of our chat: “Neither do I make any apology for being optimistic about the future. I am.”

Continue reading

The government is right to fund energy storage: a 100% renewable grid is within reach

In a speech to the National Press Club, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared that the key requirements for Australia’s electricity system are that it should be affordable, reliable, and able to help meet national emissions-reduction targets. He also stressed that efforts to pursue these goals should be “technology agnostic” – that is, the best solutions should be chosen on merit, regardless of whether they are based on fossil fuels, renewable energy or other technologies.

As it happens, modern wind, solar photovoltaics (PV) and off-river pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) can meet these requirements without heroic assumptions, at a cost that is competitive with fossil fuel power stations.

Continue reading

Why we’re so enthusiastic about our Fair Trade partnerships

I want to share with you a few of the reasons we’re so enthusiastic about our Fair Trade partnerships, and why we’re eager to have your ongoing support. Continue reading

New plans for solar thermal at Port Augusta

On 7th June 2016 another important step was taken towards decarbonising the South Australian economy. Solastor Australia announced detailed plans to build a solar thermal power station at Port Augusta.
Continue reading

On wings of hope: Interfaith global call to action on climate change

I’m aboard QF11 from Australia to JFK Airport New York via Los Angeles.

For the past few weeks I have worked with a tireless and committed group of people to gather high level faith signatures for an Interfaith Climate Change Statement.

Thankfully, amazingly, over 250 senior faith leaders across the world have added their names to this combined call for urgent action on climate change. I’m flying to New York for 50 hours on the ground to witness the formal handover of this joint statement to the current President of the United Nations General Assembly.

Continue reading

Combat Climate Change? There’s an App for That.

Fed up of folks Instagramming their dinners?

A new app from Melbourne-based climate action group Less Meat Less Heat will have you craning your neck to see what’s on other people’s plates.

Used to having control at the swipe of a touchscreen, millenials are turning to their devices for everything from financial management to weight loss to language learning. Now there’s an app for monitoring the carbon footprint of our food choices.

The aptly named Climatarian Challenge app is scheduled for launch on 1st July, and will be free to download, thanks to a bold crowdfunding campaign to cover the cost of production.

Continue reading

Last stand: saving the world’s forests

One of my vivid boyhood memories is of scrambling amongst granite outcrops of the Canadian Shield in the shimmering heat of a July afternoon.

I emerged from the forest into mottled sunshine and stretched out on flat, lichen-covered rocks, high above the black waters of a quiet lake. Stately white pines touched the sky. Underfoot was a cushion of sharply perfumed pine needles. The air was calm.

Continue reading

Tigray, Ethiopia: a gift of water is a gift of life

Graham Romanes has had a deep connection with the people of Ethiopia over many decades and now leads the NGO WellWishers. He writes:

“I was very privileged to visit Tigray at the end of November to inspect 10 of the well sites in our 64 wells program for 2015.  The program is on target to finish construction of the 64 wells by the end of January 2016. The number of Ethiopian villagers who will now have fresh, clean, safe and accessible drinking water for the first time is over 17,800. A fabulous contribution made by WellWishers supporters to the lives of so many people.

Continue reading