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Farewell to MEFL from Paul Murfitt

paulmMy time at MEFL has been nothing less than fantastic; book-ended by the challenge of the Solar Cities program back in 2008 and then the ‘Spark!’ conference held in Moreland just last week. During my tenure as CEO I have had the privilege of leading a remarkable range of staff – so many leaders in their own right – to deliver challenging projects that have improved our community’s sustainability.  I can think of so many examples where our work, with our partners and the community, has challenged the status quo and created more sustainable social and economic models that face up to the urgent challenge of climate change.

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Creating a Climate for Change

lucy-climate-for-changeOne of the great things about the Moreland Energy Foundation is that our staff are not only passionate about sustainability but are also a talented bunch! Two MEFL staffers were involved in a fantastic event at Northcote Town Hall on 11th August, put on by Darebin Climate Action Now and Melbourne Playback Theatre, entitled Creating a Climate for Change.

For the uninitiated, Playback Theatre is a type of improvisational theatre that uses stories from the audience or group and then interprets and enacts them on the spot. Melbourne Playback is one of the oldest Playback theatre groups in the world, having been in operation for over 30 years. Creating a Climate for Change was the fourth Melbourne Playback event to feature a Q&A panel to inspire discussion and stories on a particular topic. This event was sold out and had over 250 people in attendance.

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Holding onto power

Over recent months we’ve looked at various small-scale battery systems that are suitable for domestic use. This time we’re going large-scale and looking at Concentrated Solar Thermal power (CST) – a method of generating electricity that also enables solar energy to be stored in the form of heat. You’re not likely to have one of these systems on your roof any time soon, but CST has huge potential for large-scale generation and storage.

How it works

CSIRO_solar-thermal-newcastle A CST power station typically consists of an array of sun tracking mirrors (‘heliostats’) that concentrate sunlight by focusing it onto a target at the top of a tower. Some towers heat water directly to create steam to drive turbines, while others heat molten salt. Molten salt towers work by pumping ‘cold’ salt (about 280°C) up to the top of the tower where it is heated, and then it is pumped back down the tower for storage or immediate use. The advantage of molten salt is that the energy from the heat can be stored and used at a later time, or released immediately into a heat exchanger that produces steam to power a standard steam turbine. The molten salt has a 30+ year life span and can be repurposed as a high grade fertiliser.

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Want to win $1500 for your local sustainability project in Moreland?

MEFL is seeking applications from Moreland community groups, schools, early learning centres or other organisations that are leading projects that contribute maximum outcomes towards Moreland’s Zero Carbon Evolution goals. Moreland’s Zero Carbon Evolution strategy sets out our community’s ambitious goal to reduce emissions by 22% across the Moreland community by 2020. Each project must demonstrate how it will positively contribute to one or more of the ZCE goals. The winning project will receive a $1,500 prize to go towards the project. Applications must be emailed to helen@mefl.com.au by 9am on Monday 15th August.

The winner will be announced at the ZCE partner event on Thursday 18th August as part of MEFL’s inaugural Spark conference.

For more information, download the Zero Carbon Evolution Community Prize flyer.

 

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Sign up for a free home energy efficiency score AND the chance to win energy efficiency measures up to $1,500 for your home

Would you like to know more about the energy efficiency of your home, and how you could improve it?

Positive Charge is looking for households to take part in a home energy efficiency trial during August and early September.

On behalf of the Moreland energy Foundation Ltd (MEFL) Positive Charge is conducting a second round of trial testing of the Residential Efficiency Scorecard.

The Residential Efficiency Scorecard system is being developed by the Victorian Government to help Victorians better understand the energy performance of their homes, make informed choices about improving the quality of their living environment, while saving money on their gas and electricity bills.

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Vale Mike Hill

With deep sadness we note that Mike Hill passed away on 26 July 2016.

Mike leaves a huge legacy of achievements, including his vital role in the formation of MEFL.

Mike will be sadly missed, not only for his tireless work and campaigning for sustainability and social justice, also for his collaborative, friendly approach to getting things done and for his sense of humour.

We offer our sincere condolences to Mike’s partner Lorna and his family.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the Moreland Energy Foundation. Donations can be made online here or send cash or cheque to the MEFL Office.

MEFL Family

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Volunteer profile – Kate Mitchell

Kate Mitchell

I’ve been volunteering at MEFL since March, working on Moreland’s Zero Carbon Evolution program, helping with admin and community events. I’ve really enjoyed seeing how the tasks that I do fit into a bigger picture and are valuable to MEFL’s business strategy.

MEFL is a great place, full of down-to-earth people who enjoy having a laugh but are super-passionate about their jobs.

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Election issues

The federal Election is in a few weeks so we thought we’d have a look at the policies (if any) that the major parties have in place regarding climate change.

The Coalition on climate change

The 2016 Budget provides no vision to transition away from coal to the renewable economy of the future. Emphasised by the refusal of a price on carbon and the announcement last week that, more than half a billion dollars has been spent on planting trees under the Turnbull governments Direct Action Plan, while nothing has been done to tighten the relaxed laws on land clearing in NSW and QLD. The Sydney Morning Herald discusses how this policy is illogical and unable to achieve desired emissions reduction while safeguarding the big polluters.

The budget will see fuel tax credits cost Australians almost $26.5 billion over the next four years as they pay 40 cents in tax on every litre of fuel they buy while some of the world’s largest mining companies will not pay tax on the fuel they use, says the CEO of Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Kelly O’Shanassy in an interview with VICE.

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Solar for Community Groups

Community groups in the City of Moreland are saving money and carbon emissions through an innovative solar pilot program.

As part of the Zero Carbon Evolution strategy, Positive Charge has been working with Moreland City Council to pilot an innovative funding mechanism that enables community groups who rent their premises from Council to install solar panels. 

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How Does Your Home Rate?

Victorian householders now have the opportunity to understand the thermal performance of their home and the efficiency of their major electrical appliances, as well as where their energy is being used.

The Victorian Government has developed Australia’s first home energy efficiency rating tool, known as The Residential Efficiency Scorecard, which has been specifically designed to help Victorians save on their power bills, and improve the comfort of their homes.

How it works

The Scorecard is a cloud-based web app used on a tablet, such as an iPad, which gives households a star rating out of ten for their home’s energy costs. The higher the star rating, the more energy efficient a home is and the lower the energy costs.

Expert assessors use the Scorecard to enter information about the fixed features of a home such as heaters, air conditioners, hot water systems, wall and floor materials, insulation, windows and solar power systems. They can then generate an overall Energy Efficiency Star Rating and certificate on the spot.

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Making Energy Visible

 For low-income households, managing energy costs can be critical to avoiding severe financial hardship. In-home display units that show energy usage in detail can help these households improve their energy efficiency and lower their costs, according to new report from the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS).
The report is titled Making Energy Visible: Using smart meters and in-home display units to improve energy efficiency for people facing disadvantage.

Background

The report makes the following points about the current situation for low-income households:

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Feed-in tariffs review

Currently households with solar panels receive a flat rate of only 5c per kilowatt-hour for electricity they feed in to the grid. The Victorian Essential Services Commission is currently reviewing the feed-in tariff system. The Commission has proposed that feed-in tariffs should reflect the broader economic, environmental and social benefits of solar.

Proposals

Under the proposed new system, feed-in tariffs would no longer be a fixed flat rate but would vary depending on the time of day (i.e. peak, shoulder, and off-peak periods). Tariffs would include a Critical Peak Payment and a payment for Avoided Greenhouse Gas Emissions.  These changes could add up to a doubling of the feed-in tariff from next year, perhaps even more. Whether or not the proposed new tariff system is adopted next year will be a political decision.

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Supporting business

The independent experts at Positive Charge can help you save energy and money: that’s the message our team has recently been taking to Moreland businesses. We’ve already assisted many local businesses identify simple ways to save. Popular energy saving initiatives for Moreland businesses have included: switching off unused equipment and appliances; upgrading to efficient LED lighting; adjusting heating and cooling temperature set-points; maintaining/servicing equipment; and solar.

It’s never too late

Businesses want to save money on energy costs but are typically time-poor and don’t have time to look at their energy usage – electricity and gas – in detail. We’ve found that it’s easy to forget the benefits of lowering your energy bills, until the next bill arrives. It’s good to know that it’s never too late to start saving and that Positive Charge can help your business do just that.

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Sydney Rd Street Party

sunny-sydney-rd

 

Thanks to all those who came to our stall on Sunday – we had a fabulous day (as did Sunny the Solar Bear).

Actions and barriers

We put up a poster with lots of energy-saving actions and invited visitors to put a star on the ones they plan to do. It was great to see so many people signing up to take action to help Moreland get on track for its fair share of the carbon budget (see the poster below).

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News from Paris

MEFL’s CEO Paul Murfitt is currently in Paris at the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
He sent this report late in the evening on Monday 7 December (our time).

While the draft agreement reached in Paris over the last week has some promising elements, particularly the momentum for limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees, many big issues remain to be resolved in the upcoming second week of negotiations. Elements such as target review processes, the legal status of country commitments, paying for action and compensation for loss and damage, amongst other issues, will be exercising and testing our collective ability to reach a meaningful international agreement on climate action. For some great analysis and commentary on progress, have a look at this blog from the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at Melbourne University.

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The science of climate change

Academy of Science clears up any confusion

There’s no longer any excuse for anyone to be confused about climate change! The Australian Academy of Science has produced an excellent report titled The Science of Climate Change.

No, not another long obscure report with words and graphs you can’t understand. This report is written in everyday language and is broken down into nine “question and answer’ sections. There’s a choice of a downloadable PDF or an online version.This is a great resource to fill in the gaps in your knowledge of the issue, or to refer to if you find yourself debating the issue with ‘climate change sceptics’.

The introduction to the report reads: 

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MEFL in Malaysia

MEFL CEO Paul Murfitt was invited to Malaysia in September to share the MEFL story at the Penang International Green Carnival.
Paul reports on his experiences:

The Carnival was a smaller version of Melbourne’s Sustainable Living Festival; a showcase of local sustainable products, services, community groups and projects. Alongside the carnival, a conference program featured a diverse range of speakers from Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Japan and Australia (represented by MEFL).  It was great to interact with those working on local sustainability from the Asian region and to create links for future collaboration. 

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