ReNew 139 editorial: Transporting ourselves – driving change at all levels

ReNew 139

IT’S probably fair to say that most of us who are committed to reducing our household greenhouse gas emissions have yet to completely address the area of transport. With transport emissions accounting for some 18% of Australia’s GHG emissions—6% due to urban car travel, according to BZE’s recent report—it is a sizeable problem that we need to consider.

Electric vehicles are part of the answer, with their emissions set to decrease even more as electricity grids get greener. But we also need coordinated public transport and town planning—who wants cities built to accommodate grid-locked cars rather than people? We asked several experts in the transport policy arena to give us their thoughts on where we’re heading transport-wise, and the responses range from a discussion of how our cities are driving a reduction in GHG emissions, to how driverless cars aren’t quite the answer, to a healthy upswing in e-bikes— the fastest growing segment of the transport market it seems.

When it comes to electric vehicles (EVs), there are promising lower-cost, longer-range developments from Tesla and GM, but it may be a while before we see them in Australia—our small market and lack of government incentives are really keeping us stuck in the past. Globally, though, there’s quite a bit of analysis to suggest that we’re on the brink of an electric vehicle revolution.

We look at where the EV market’s heading: which carmakers are leading the way, what’s changing in the world of charging and whether vehicle-to-grid is getting any traction. For EV owners or those thinking about buying one secondhand, we also take a look at EV maintenance and battery health.

We gain insights from several EV owners: one who’s maximising the use of solar PV to charge the car, another who’s got a home charging station on the publicly accessible PlugShare network, and another riding an e-bike into his 70s as a symbol of independence and community. They’re great stories that show ingenuity and a bit of (over)dedication to the cause—one EV owner describes a dash to the garage every time the sun came out or a cloud came over, to turn on/ off the charger, before he found an automated solution to maximise solar charging!

There’s much more, of course. We address a commonly asked question—what about using hydrogen fuel cells to power our vehicles? We also cover a solar + battery system overcoming barriers for apartment buildings, how to choose sustainable plants for your home garden, using thermal imaging to find leaks (so that you, like the article authors, can look forward to your next winter heating bill!) and much more besides.

Our buyers guide is on efficient hot water systems, potentially one of the biggest energy users in the home. We look at hot water heat pumps, solar hot water, PV diversion and instantaneous electric systems, and talk to a range of people with different systems to get some real-world feedback. We look forward to your thoughts!

Robyn Deed
ReNew Editor

ATA CEO’s Report

HERE at the ATA we are just getting our feet back on the ground after the inspirational Community Energy Congress. More than 500 people attended the two days of the congress in Melbourne, hearing international speakers, sharing Australian success stories and learning about the tools and resources available to community groups for their projects. There was time for groups to plan and network so that the congress was an opportunity to make connections and start putting projects into action. It even felt like there were partnerships and deals forming in the morning and afternoon tea breaks!

For me the highlight of the event was the formation of the First Nations Renewable Energy Alliance by the Aboriginal representatives at the congress. Fred Hooper, of the Murrawarri Nation, highlighted the massive change of direction: “This congress has opened our eyes.” The power of people to galvanise and make an immediate impact was clear. “What this congress has given us is a chance to get those people in one place and build something for us, in partnership with all of you in the audience today.”

Ghillar Michael Anderson, of the Euahylia Nation, said the group had already established a steering committee. “Taking ownership of energy security is a huge step forward for our First People. It is a big leap towards tackling poverty and disenchantment. The Alliance is the first step to changing the system.”

The ATA is proud to have helped bring the Australian and Canadian First Nation leaders to the congress and we look forward to working with the Alliance for climate justice.

Donna Luckman

You can purchase ReNew 139 from the ATA webshop.