RSS Entries ATOM Entries

Posts Tagged ‘distributed systems’

Cost-Effective Distributed Energy Systems in Australia

Posted in Opinion, Research by Kate Archdeacon on December 15th, 2011

Source: Climate Spectator

Photo by twicepix via flickr CC

From It’s time for a smarter grid by Giles Parkinson:

Imagine for a moment that you are the head of a large group of network operators, faced with a decision about what to do about rising peak electricity demand. And you are presented with a choice: invest $2.6 billion over five years on upgrading your network – the route you would normally take; or spend a comparable amount on solar power and energy storage, distributed throughout the network.  This was the question posed by Professor John Bell, of the Queensland University of Technology, and Warwick Johnston, a leading solar analyst with Sunwiz, when they sought to find out if there was a better way than the traditional response of building more poles and wires to cope with rising peak demand.

Using Queensland network operator Energex as an example, and its forecast peak demand growth of 1.25GW over the five years to 2014/15, the study analysed the existing approach of spending $2.6 billion augmenting the grid, or investing a comparable amount in either 25GWh of storage, or 1.25GW of solar PV and 10GWh of storage.  The study concluded that a combination of battery and solar PV produced a far better outcome, because of the ability to generate revenue from the energy produced, and the use of battery storage to resell energy. Over a five year period, the net present value (NPV) of the poles and wires solution was negative $2 billion, while the NPV of the solar/storage solution was negative $750 million. But because these could produce revenue over a 20-year period, the solar/storage had a positive NPV of $2 billion over a 20 year period.

Bell and Johnston say the main take-home messages from this are that the integration of distributed PV and battery storage into the existing energy system has the potential to be cost effective now, and it underpins the case for reform of the National Electricity Market, to ensure that distributed generation is fairly treated and that network providers are encouraged to opt for the solutions that have greater market benefit, rather than simply being least upfront cost.


>>Read the full article by Giles Parkinson on Climate Spectator.

>>Read about VEIL’s work on Distributed Systems.

Dr Alex Wonhas: CSIRO

Posted in Events by Mark Ogge on July 30th, 2010

Image: CSIRO

A monthly discussion group hosted by Beyond Zero Emissions focusing on energy solutions to climate change.

August guest speaker: Dr Alex Wonhas, Director, Energy Transformed Flagship CSIRO.

Dr Alex Wonhas joined CSIRO directly from McKinsey & Company where he was one of the co-authors of McKinsey’s Carbon Abatement Cost Curve for Australia. He took up the role as CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship Director in August 2009. The Flagship aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions by providing sustainable, efficient, cost-effective energy solutions. Dr Wonhas will present an overview of his work including:

- Australia’s first Zero Emissions House (Aus ZEH),
– Energy efficiency for commercial buildings,
– Web-based smart metering system,
– Ultra batteries (super capacitor + lead acid battery hybrid),
– Distributed energy systems (using microturbines, PV, wind, demand mangement, etc),
Solar Brayton Cycle demonstration system.

Come prepared with lots of questions as it is rare that we have a guest speaker with the breadth of knowledge as Dr Wonhas. He will appear via Skype video link.
Further reading:

Event location: 2nd Floor, Kindness House, 288 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Time: 6.30 – 8 pm, Monday 2nd August 2010
Cost: Gold coin donation

Wheelchair access available via lift; 2 flights of stairs. Happy to assist with access. Please call 0421 272 884 to arrange.

All welcome

Distributed rainwater tank system: viable for new houses

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on April 16th, 2010

Source: Smart Water Fund

CERES has demonstrated the viability of a distributed rainwater tank system for small buildings with surrounding gardens.  CERES received a Smart Water Fund grant in 2006 to install a water catchment and retrieval system using rainwater tanks.  The project aimed to educate people on water tank systems that could be applied to a community of houses, such as a housing estate.  “Our system consists of a number of small above ground tanks located next to buildings, with one central underground tank,” said project manager Stephen Mushin. “Rainwater is collected in the local tanks from each roof onsite and stored for irrigation of surrounding gardens.”

“Overflow from the localised tanks is collected in a 50,000 litre central underground tank, from which water can be retrieved using a solar pump to a header tank,” he said.  According to Mr Mushin, the system may work well when applied to a community of houses, such as housing subdivisions where there are several roofs in close proximity.  “The system is suitable for sites with multiple buildings that have localised watering needs,” he said.

“There is potential for this kind of system to be applied to community housing in a cost effective way. This kind of water installation will save residents money and reduce their impact on the environment.”

CERES is a public park on a nine acre, government-owned site. About 150 staff are involved in education, organic farming and other environment and sustainability projects to encourage a sustainable society.

For more information on CERES and its sustainable projects, visit:

Are we on the edge of a ‘re-localisation’ revolution?

Posted in Events by CBiggs on November 3rd, 2009

VEIL and the McCaughey Centre are holding a one-day conference in Melbourne.

Localised Solutions: Building capacity and resilience with distributed production systems

This conference will explore the value, diversity and implications of a localised and networked approach to creating more sustainable and resilient critical services.

The past few years has seen an explosion of innovative responses to high oil prices, climate change and resource scarcity.  Many represent a fundamentally different approach to the traditional centralised systems we currently rely on. Energy, water and food are being delivered via networked, localised production and consumption systems that lower carbon, increase efficiency, build resilience and strengthen local economies. These ‘distributed’ systems offer an alternative infrastructure model that over-turns old ideas of how services can and ‘should’ be delivered. The evolution of this approach is just beginning but is already shaping our image of the future. Communities are adopting solar panels, wind generation, rainwater tanks and neighbourhood gardens – changing the built environment into a more diverse landscape where resources are generated. The concept of the individual as either isolated producer or passive end-user is also changing. People are redefining themselves as part-producers of critical resources, integral to a wider network of exchange.

The Localised Solutions conference is the first of many events to build interest and linkages between those pursuing new solutions for energy, water, food, transport and local economies. For a full list of speakers across a diverse range of topics click here.

Date: Monday 30th November, 2009
Time: 8:30 am  – 18:00 pm
Venue: Flagstaff Bowls Club, Flagstaff Gardens, Dudley St. West Melbourne
Cost: $99.00 (Incl GST) / Student Concession: $66 (Incl GST)
Registration: Download the application form or contact Sharnee Chislett on 03 9810 3146 or
VEIL Contact: Che Biggs 03 8344 0626

Water at WestWyck – An integration of small and large scale water systems

Posted in RDAG by CBiggs on July 13th, 2009

This ‘eco-village’ project is the brainchild of the WestWyck developers and originated from a community effort to preserve a historic local school building in Brunswick. Resource efficiency has played a major role in shaping the site’s design and construction. The village consists of 5 townhouses and seven apartments with a second stage planned. VEIL has been particularly interested in how water is managed there.

Water is handled on the site using a series of different methods to harvest, minimise use, treat, recycle and manage discharge from the site. Drinking water is supplied via the mains distribution system but unlike most residences in Melbourne, demand for mains water is substantially reduced through the integration of multiple on-site water technologies.

Read the rest of this entry »

Desalination and water tank wars

Posted in Research by Ferne Edwards on September 3rd, 2008

A very interesting article was published in The Age recently about solutions to Melbourne’s water crisis. It discusses the big solutions versus the smaller (possibly distributed) ones. I’ve included some sections from the article below. To read the original article visit:

Desal and water tank wars
Royce Millar
The Age
August 25, 2008

DESALINATION and other big-ticket solutions to Melbourne’s water woes threaten to sideline alternatives, as a proposal to drop rainwater tanks is the subject of a row at the highest levels of State Government. “There are water tank wars going on,” a senior Government figure said, describing a debate being viewed as pivotal to the future of Victoria’s water planning. “With desalination plants and other water initiatives coming in, the rainwater tank has been singled out as something that may not be warranted in the future,” the figure said. …. The Age has obtained two confidential reports by University of Melbourne systems scientist and microbiologist Peter Coombes, which appear to challenge the Government’s big-project direction. Although his reports do not say it, their implication is that an alternative water strategy across Victoria could save taxpayers and home buyers billions of dollars by reducing reliance on expensive public water facilities. In one report he argues that previous simplistic estimates for water volumes generated by tanks in Melbourne are wrong, and badly misjudge the capability of tanks to supplement water supply. Although he refused to comment on the reports, Professor Coombes confirmed his work showed a tank in each Melbourne household could deliver a city-wide 120 gigalitres a year, more than twice previous estimates by water supplier Melbourne Water.