RET under threat

I try not to get too political, but our federal government seem intent on giving the coal burners a free ride.  So, I thought I’d share this beautifully written piece in The Age by Peter Martin.

What do you think?  Have renewables been TOO successful??

Welcome RenewEconomy readers!

Thanks for coming through to have a look at the blog.  As mentioned in the RE piece, we’re an average family living off grid in Melbourne…still have a TV, microwave, washing machine, hairdryer etc etc

I’m also looking for other’s experiences of living off-grid, so if that’s your thing, please drop me a line to share the love.

Off Gridders – Lorna and Ken

OK, so maybe going off-grid does sometimes require small compromises – in Lorna & Ken’s case, a new (and not-as-nice-as-the-old-one) fridge!  The couple got in touch after reading about The Off Grid Solar House in the Sunday Age and have kindly shared their story and a couple of photos of their set up with us.

Tell us about your off-grid house.

“Our home is reliant on cross flow ventilation and over head fans in summer a wood heater and wood fired stove which produces hot water during winter. Our permanent residence is modest but has all the usual white goods plus water pumps for both the house and garden.  We sadly discarded a much beloved double door cafe fridge in preparation for going off grid as it was too energy inefficient.”

Why did you go off grid & how big is your system?

“We decided to go off-grid in April this year primarily because of the area power provider restrictions on inverter size. We were advised this would limit the use of heavy usage items such as large water pumps and electric hot water.  Our panels are ground mounted and through the winter months get shaded 11am to 1pm but the batteries are usually full or near full by then.  Even with overcast weather or heavy fog there have only been 3 days that it did not recharge fully, but not to the extent we needed to externally charge with the back up generator.”

“Our system is 20 SunTech STP250S-20/Wd, KAKP Powador 6002 inverter, Selectronic SPMC241 4.0kW 24V with 12 BAE 1220 Ah 2V battery. We use about 6 kwhr at present which is without the hot water and garden water pump which would double usage. These would be run during the daylight hours to maximise the suns generation so as not to rely solely on the batteries.”

Have you had to change your lifestyle to go off-grid?

“Apart from having to purchase a fridge with wretched plastic moulding going off-grid has in no way compromised our lifestyle. In fact it makes us more confident that we made the right decision. It is also seems a better choice for preparedness for the fire season and we have not gone without any electrical appliances.  After 3 months more than happy with our decision to go off grid just wish the technology was available 30 years ago!  We just find it sad that the excess power can’t be diverted to the local hospital or schools.”


Solar street lighting

photo-5Couldn’t help but notice this as I was out and about today. There are two of these on the back road between Little River and Geelong, plus a third one without the black counterweight.  I buzzed Geelong council to get the low-down, but they told me it was a Powercor installation.  I checked Powercor’s website for information, but came up empty handed.  So, I turned to the ever-faithful You Tube where I found a short video by a company that now seems to be out of business…but it did provide some explanation of the street light through a similar example elsewhere in Geelong.

Anyone know any more about these?


Baby it’s cold outside

Early afternoon sunshine on the panels

Early afternoon sunshine on the panels

Down to 5 degrees in fact, with a strong cold wind whipping through the open flat fields of Little River and trying to squeeze it’s way through the gaps in the windows.  The kids and I are home today because we all have throats as scratchy as the bottom of a budgie cage.  Plus, it’s nice to be home with the fires going with no need to go out into the rain, wind and traffic.

It’s been overcast all day, with intermittent rain.  By midday the battery bank was still around the 97% mark, up from 94.4% first thing this morning.  By 2pm we had about half an hour of sun, before the hail started at 3pm.  Yup, Melbourne truly is the ‘four seasons in one day’ kind of city everyone says it is.

Anyway, it’s now just after 3pm and the battery bank has floated (aka hit 100% power).  This despite the weather, one teenager playing x-box on the TV, me with the washing machine, fireplace fan, microwave and kettle going at regular intervals.  Oh and the other teenager plugged into three power points with various computers and screens.

Hail on the driveway an hour later

Hail on the driveway an hour later