ReNew Issue 128

Off-grid living

Issue 128 July-September 2014 is our off-grid special showing households and communities how to do it! This issue includes our energy storage buyers guide, the economics of going off-grid, off-grid in the tropics, the how and why of going off-grid, sourcing a green builder, composting toilets, DIY worm farm, a really cool electric tractor, backyard chickens, an Adelaide household’s rainwater system and much more.

Issue Contents:

Issue 128 July-September 2014 is out now! As always, ReNew comes overflowing with articles to satisfy both the technically and the not-so-technically minded. Regardless of whether your interest is photovoltaic cells, recycling, or even environmentally responsible building techniques, there is something for you in this issue.

ReNew 128 has ‘going off-grid’ as its focus. Inside you’ll find:

Sourcing a green builder

Elizabeth Wheeler explains how to find a ‘deep green builder’ who can deliver a quality, environmentally sensitive home.

Farming renewably, without diesel

ATA’s branch manager Doug Rolfe test drives an electric tractor conversion in Tasmania.

The underrated pet: backyard chickens

Keeping chickens in your backyard can have many advantages, and not just for you, as Justin Brasier explains.

Oversizing PV arrays

Oversizing your PV array compared to your inverter size can increase system output, but Global Sustainable Energy Solution asks how much PV is too much?

The economics of going off-grid

Recent ATA research explores Australia’s ‘unplugged’ potential, and just how financially viable it is to go off-grid. By Mischa Vickas.

The power of microgrids

Mitchell Lennard explains why there’s so much research and commercial interest in microgrids right now.

Local energy is reliable energy

The need for reliable energy is driving microgrid development in the USA and paving the way for smarter, cleaner, community-based energy here, writes Kristian Handberg.

Know your renewables: off-grid basics

There’s been renewed interest in giving energy companies the flick. Lance Turner takes a look at the how and why of going off-grid.

Off-grid in the tropics

Andrew Spiers’s tropical off-grid home exists to look after this conservation block, writes Robyn Deed.

Not flushed away: water independence

Flush good quality rainwater down the toilet? Not in this Adelaide house, where flushing rainwater is only done in times of plenty. By Melissa Crawford.

Composting toilets in an urban setting

Jeff Knowles had reservations about putting in a ‘long drop’ in his urban home, but was pleasantly surprised.

Taking advantage of low PV prices

This battery-based solar system reliably provides daily energy needs, even on an overcast day. John Inglis from Positronic Solar in Brisbane explains.

No wires and too much power!

Kevin White describes his off-grid home in Queensland as a renewable energy ‘power station’, with more energy than they can use!

Off-grid round up: the power of many

Read the stories of people going off-grid around Australia, highlighting some more of the pros and cons. Compiled by Robyn Deed.

Energy storage buyers guide

There has been a steady increase in the number of ready-to-use energy storage systems available. In this mini-guide, we take a look at the options so far.

Remote pumping buyers guide

Moving water is a requirement on nearly every remote and rural property. We take a look at the different types of pumping systems and what pumps are available.

Home-grown shelving

Victoria’s recent drought had a devastating effect on trees in many Ballarat gardens, but John Petheram found a silver (or amber-coloured) lining.

DIY no-care worm farm

Discarded plaster or paint cans get put to good use in Valerie Yule’s simple and cheap worm farm.

Integrated hot water and heating

Chris Ogilvie has integrated his solar hot water and hydronic heating systems, even taking advantage of the excess heat in summer.

The Pears Report

With neighbouring Asian countries investing millions or billions of dollars in renewable energy and energy efficiency, Alan Pears reflects on Australian policy in 2014.

Salvage It: Using old thermostats

Julian Edgar shows us how to make good use of an often overlooked but useful component–the thermostat.

Member profile: the environmental advocate

Household solar installer Aaron Lewtas talks to Jacinta Cleary about persuading households and government to a more sustainable way.