November Energy Snapshots

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With climate change well and truly on the public agenda, energy use is being put under the spotlight in a wide variety of ways.

Go Australia~!
The BBC reported recently that when it comes to power stations, Australia’s emit more CO2 per capita than any other nation. Australian power stations emit 10 tonnes per person, China’s 1.8, the U.S. 8.2 and India 0.5.

Australia’s Sunshine coast however, made it to the news by becoming an official ‘Transition Town’ which means they have adopted measures to deal with the inevitable peaking of oil supplies, and the resultant transition needed to shift from fossil fuels.

Elsewhere in Australian, a town by the name of Cloncurry which boasts Australia’s hottest recorded temperature ( 53C in the shade ), will be the recipient of a large solar thermal power plant, which should mean the town is entirely powered by solar power by 2010. The project will use 8,000 mirrors to reflect sunlight onto graphite blocks, water gets pumped through the blocks to generate steam for electricity generation in turbines.

Artists & Energy
milkwood
And on the micro-scale, long time video artists Cicada, have been busily documenting their transition from city to country via their milkwood blog ( with regular videos ), and recently installed a solar panel which they figure should give them “15 years of light”. Plenty of linkalicious at the milkwood site, as they’re quite productive little kittens, and keen to share this type of knowledge.

With a bit more cash behind him, Damien Hirst has apparently ordered Britains second largest solar panel system at a cost of £1.5M for a 310w solar power system to power his warehouses. While commendable, the article quoting this also mentioned that this was enough to power 150 houses, and somewhere later that this solar system was equivalent to 2% of the country’s solar power. Given that the population of Britain is 60 million people, this suggests that British solar power has a long way to go. (2%= 150, 100% = 7500 )

Rethinking Automobiles
Shai Agassi has a novel idea – free cars! Based on the idea that ‘the cost of the average used car in Europe is now cheaper than the cost of gasoline to drive it for a year’, his company is investigating plans to provide electric cars that are very cheap or even free – and sold the way mobile phones are – the money being spent on a monthly contract rather than the device itself.

Which reminds of a conversation with a long time ago with Marcus Westbury ( who recently had that 3part TV show on the ABC, ‘Not Quite Art’ ), where he argued that the car registration fee ( then around $500 ) should be abolished – or rather that it should instead be shifted into fuel prices. The thinking being, that it should be as cheap or as easy as possible for the average person to acquire a car – but the burden of cost should be in the driving, so that energy use and pollution are minimised. Going another step, we really need to rethink the whole energy pragmatism of having one tonne vehicles to individually transport us around in. Do we really need, and can we really sustain a planet where we need to give vehicles enough fuel to carry around a tonne of metal on top of our body weight? Not so clever. And commented on nicely by UK artists Wilson and Radcliffe, who recently made a bicycle powered lamborghini – actually two bicycles within a thin, frame outline of a lamborghini. Also in the UK news, recent tax concessions which allow 50% off the price of a new bike, if you are riding it to work.

Take an energy vacation, or if stuck in the cubicle? Try google.com/search?q=facebook+carbon+app

Mmmmm playing Tesla Coils ( think giant lightning creating devices ) to make Super Mario soundtracks… ( check Tesla’s long list of exploits @ wikipedia )

tesla mario

Autobot Roulette:

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3 Comments

  1. Hey Jean Poole,
    Check out my blog article here: http://samhoffmann.wordpress.com/2007/07/15/do-humans-dream-of-electric-cars/

    Lots more links on electric cars. Making a doco about it at the moment.
    Sam H

  2. Hey Sean… are you back in Melbourne yet?

    Just for what it’s worth i think the point was not about it being easy for everyone to own a car (i actually don’t drive and never have or own a car meself) but about progressive v. regressive taxation. I was probably making some kind of point about any tax that puts the same amount of burden on a billionaire as a pensioner is kinda problematic….

    marcus.

  3. hiya marcus… aye aye, back in melbs…
    i do remember u owning a car long ago that seemed to have a habit of acquiring a long list of parking fines ( mostly when other people’d borrow it, true ; ) ) … but yes, taxation point noted ; )

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