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Local EV conversion: building knowledge and negotiating hurdles

Posted in Movements by Jessica Bird on January 31st, 2013

Source: The Age

Photo courtesy the Age article.
Photo from
The Age article.

From “Hey, charger – an electric Capri that’s full of spark” by Deborah Gough.

MARIO Giannattilio’s dream to convert a petrol car with his son Michael has become an electric reality. The pair set themselves a goal to convert a clapped-out, petrol-thirsty Ford Capri into a silent, emission-free electric car. In its infancy, the project was featured by Fairfax Media last year, as the Giannattilios worked on the conversion in their home garage at Glen Iris. They are part of a small but growing number of backyard technology and environment enthusiasts who are converting petrol cars to electric power in their sheds and garages.

Armed with advice on potential pitfalls from the Alternative Technology Association’s electric vehicles interest group, the Giannattilios set themselves a deadline of 100 weekends to complete their project. The car itself was ready in 96 weekends and, after a few bureaucratic hurdles, it is now registered for the road. ”I think it’s because authorities are used to dealing with petrol cars and used to dealing with hybrid cars, but not with fully electric cars,” Mr Giannattilio said. ”There was a lot of head scratching because it is unusual to have a fully electric car.” When new cars are built, manufacturers place a serial number on a combustion engine, but replacing the original motor with an electric motor poses challenges with the number. ”We were aware that it would come up as an issue and kept the [electric] engine’s serial number, which was accepted as part of the registration,” Mr Giannattilio said.

The last hurdle was at a VicRoads office, where Mr Giannattilio tried to claim $100 off the registration cost, a benefit hybrid car owners enjoy. ”They weren’t going to give me the $100 off, which is ridiculous because my car uses no petrol and a hybrid still uses some petrol,” Mr Giannattilio said. He eventually got the discount, but only after registering the car as a hybrid.

Michael, 13, hopes to be an engineer and will study physics at high school next year. Mr Giannattilio said the project gave his son hands-on experience of how physics is applied in the real world. Michael will already know about LED refracted light, used in newer BMWs, after the pair put it into their Ford Capri’s bumper bar. ”Michael can’t wait to drive it, but he is only 13, so it will have to be on a track,” Mr Giannattilio said. He said he was close to his son and the joint project gave them an opportunity to talk about much more than electricity and mechanics. ”When you are working together and talking about the work you are doing, you get to talk about things that happen in life outside the garage. The bond obviously becomes stronger,” he said.

>>> You can read the original article on The Age website.
>>> You can learn more about the Alternative Technology Association’s electric vehicles interest group on their website.


Posted in Events, Sustainable Cities Round Tables by Ferne Edwards on May 20th, 2009

When: 6-8pm, Wednesday 20 May 2009
Where: Village Roadshow Theatrette, Entry 3, La Trobe Street, State Library of Victoria

In this Sustainable Cities Round Table we will consider energy – such as renewable energy types, their distribution and systems alternatives. Well also take it further to consider how we can mitigate energy losses, implement greater uptake of more sustainable options and ultimately conserve the energy within ourselves to make sure that these changes take place!

Speakers are:
Brad Shone, Moreland Energy Foundation Ltd – The Solar Cities project
Ralph Horne, RMIT University – Home energy efficiency – why havent we fixed it yet?
Faye Adams, Manningham City Council – Harnessing community passion
Michael Ambrose, CSIRO – The Zero Emissions Home project
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Beyond Zero Emissions discussion night presents Rebecca Dunn: Solar thermal storage engineer

Posted in Events by Mark Ogge on March 17th, 2009

The need for global reductions in greenhouse gas emission has continually led to debates surrounding the extent to which renewable energies should be included within future energy mixes. In Australia such discussion is dominated by solar energy and its potential to provide baseload power.

Rebecca Dunn, a solar storage thermal engineer, is currently completing her phd at ANU under solar energy expert Keith Lovegrove. Her research into ammonia based solar thermal energy critically informs this debate.

Come along to participate and discuss the potential role for solar power within Australias environment.

Event location: 2nd Floor, Kindness House, 288 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Time: 6.30 – 7.30 pm, Monday 6th April.

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Eco Minds Youth Forum

Posted in Seeking by Ferne Edwards on March 10th, 2009

Bayer Australia, in partnership with United Nations Environmental Program, is offering three Australian students the opportunity to represent Australia at an Asia Pacific forum on Sustainable Energy Systems: Challenges and Opportunities.

The successful students will win a week long all-expenses-paid trip to the Eco-Minds Youth Forum in New Zealand in May 2009 and will have the opportunity to be part of a high profile international team solving real world problems.

To apply, students have to be Australian citizens (or have permanent residency), be between the ages of 18-24 and complete an application form which includes an essay of 1000 words. Read the rest of this entry »

Research into Urban Wind Turbines

Posted in Models by Ferne Edwards on March 6th, 2009

Please see message below from Mathew Trigg, Sustainable Design Officer, City of Port Phillip.

Produced in collaboration with stakeholders, the following presents the key considerations that the City of Port Phillip considers to be important regarding urban wind turbines within the municipality.

URBAN WIND TURBINES | A General Guide for Residents and Industry (see link below)

This fact sheet is intended for residents and industry representatives interested in installing one or more urban wind turbines within the City of Port Phillip. More detailed considerations apply for Council-initiated projects.

This information will also soon be included on Port Phillip Online under Sustainable Urban Design.


Sustainable Energy Seminar: 21st Nov ’08

Posted in Events by Enhar on November 11th, 2008

Enhar Sustainable Energy Seminar Image

This is an event for Melbourne professionals who wish to increase their knowledge and contacts in the field of sustainable energy.

Speakers at the event include:

  • Michael Williamson, Sustainability Victoria: “Repowering Victoria for the 21st century”
  • Craig Memery: Embedded Wind Energy: “The Time is Right”
  • Bruce Thompson, MEFL: “Decentralised Energy in the Victorian Context”
  • Demian Natakhan, Enhar: “Wind energy trends in Victoria, part II

Event registrations are invited at

Time: 11:30am, Friday 21st November 2008

Cost: $20 Attendance fee includes Lunch ($15 limited student places)

Location: 420 Victoria Street, Brunswick

Transport: Tram via Sydney Road, Train via Brunswick Station on Upfield line, on street parking

For Event information, contact: 0403883696 or

To register, go to

Enhar is a Melbourne based consultancy in the renewable energy and energy conservation sector:

Could carbon become a new currency?

Posted in Events by Ferne Edwards on August 27th, 2008

Alternative Technology Association Seminar: Could carbon become a new currency? – Are personal carbon allowances, reminiscent of wartime rations, the way forward?

When: Thursday, 4th September, 2008
Time: 6:15pm onwards for a 6:30pm start
Where: The Banking Chamber theatrette, Ground Floor, KPMG, 147 Collins St, Melbourne. Disabled access via 161 Collins St.
Costs: $15, $10 for ATA members (ATA couples $15). Refreshments provided after the presentation
RSVPs required: Email Wendy Clarke on or ph:(03) 9631 5407

ATAs seminar will explore carbon rationing, which has been examined by the UK Government in their report “A Rough Guide to Individual Carbon Trading” and also supported by George Monbiot in “Heat”. David Spratt, co-author of Climate Code Red, advocates personal carbon allowances as the most fair and equitable means of rapidly reducing carbon emissions. David will look at the science relating to global warming and why greenhouse emissions would be best controlled by personal carbon allowances.
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