Death and Destruction

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No, it was not Nepal, Fiji or any of the other natural disasters that have happened all around the globe.  This was in our own little corner of south-east Queensland.

For a couple of hours last Friday a small area, including where I live was hit by torrential rain and significant flooding.  5 people lost their lives as they tried to drive through flooded roads.  Cars were washed away, people were stranded and public transport was disrupted.  Our road was almost impassable in places due to driveways that had washed away leaving large rocks and piles of gravel on the road.

2015-05-05 01A retaining wall collapsed and at least one residence was inundated with mud and water that cascaded down the mountain with unprecedented speed and force.  The lake which forms in our backyard formed and reached capacity within 2 hours whereas it usually takes a couple of days of steady rain to fill.  The force of the water moved large concrete blocks several metres and washed our recycle bin from its regular position.

The next morning was perfect – blue sky and not a breath of wind.  So strange.

2012-08-05 01

Prepared

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Just a quick post this evening as I have doing some preparations since arriving home from work.  Yet again, there is a tropical cyclone (hurricane) heading south-west towards the central Queensland coast.  It is not particularly severe as cyclones go and is expected to cross the coast well north of where we are, however, we are already experiencing steady rain and gusty wind.

Storm surgeStorm surges are just one of the risks that we are being warned about.

I have cleared things off the verandah, boiled lots of water, charged the phones, know that the car has a full tank of fuel and know where the wind-up torches and radio are.  I have 9 ice-cream containers of boiled water which will be frozen in the camp fridge once it has cooled.  We have plenty of food and a gas cooktop which can be used for cooking.

We are not at risk of being flooded.  The most likely problem is the loss of power.  We could also suffer damage from falling branches or other debris, although this is not as likely.

Are you in central or southern Queensland?  Are you prepared?  Do you have any tips or advice?

Stay safe and if there are a lack of posts in the coming days it may mean that I am offline.

No Thanks, Mr Newman

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Yesterday was a clear, sunny day with not a hint of the political storm clouds gathering on the horizon.

2012-08-05 02Our household has now been identified as one of the 180,000 households in Queensland who are the culprits responsible for soaring electricity costs.

“Roughly 180,000 households are benefiting with low power prices or getting cheques and well over 1.5 million are paying for that benefit to those people.”  The Courier-Mail understands 92,600 Queensland households pay nothing for power or get money back as a result of the generous solar feed-in tariff introduced by the previous Labor government.

Our house has a perfectly angled, north-facing roof with virtually no obstructions (trees, buildings) to the sunlight.

We have 20 solar panels (3.7kW system) which were installed in November 2010.  We chose this system because our research and modelling indicated that this would be more than enough to cover our current and future electricity requirements.  It also means that by being judicious in our power usage, we are able to export a significant portion of the power generated by our system back to the grid.

According to Mr Newman and his government, we are making money at the expense of others.  Rich greenies are wreaking havoc on the budgets of the poor people who are struggling to make ends meet.

  1. I believe that climate change is real and acknowledge that we all need to make an active contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. I have a long-standing commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and do so by a variety of means.  Installing solar panels is just one of them.
  3. We funded the purchase of the grid-connected solar panels through a bank loan.
  4. The feed-in tariff was set by government to encourage people to invest in renewable energy sources.
  5. We chose a grid-connected system and pay all of the associated service charges to enable us to access power at any time of the day or night from the electricity grid.
  6. The feed-in tariff is contracted for 20 years (ending in 2028).

We will reconsider our position if any attempt is made to penalise those who have chosen to install grid-connected solar panels.  Our preferred option will be to move off-grid and we will invest in batteries to enable us to do this.  Therefore, the power generated by our solar panels will be used only by our household and none will be exported to the grid, resulting in a net loss to the electricity grid.

I do not deny that we do receive a monetary gain from the excess power that is generated and exported to the grid, however, all of the households who do this are providing a net gain of green power to the grid.  This is then ‘sold’ to other consumers who choose ‘green power’ with a premium cost, so it is only reasonable that we (the producers) should be paid a premium price (feed-in tariff) for our product.

The following information has been taken from here.  I cannot articulate these thoughts any more succinctly.

The market fails to take into account the true value and many benefits to the electricity network which arise from the adoption of renewable energy technologies embedded within the electricity grid. 

Solar PV, like other renewable energy sources, provide environmental benefits through reduced atmospheric pollution, and social benefits through industry development and job creation – for example through the installation of grid-connected solar systems, each with related economic benefit. 

When electricity is transmitted over a distance, some is lost through what is known as line loss. By installing rooftop solar arrays on houses, the electricity can supply not only the house on which it’s installed, but the surplus can feed other houses close by. 

Centralised power generation facilities also provide a relatively easy target for hostile parties and can be destroyed in natural disasters such as cyclones or fires. A decentralised network or grid connected systems allows for better energy security as it’s much cheaper and faster to repair a sub-station than it is to replace an entire plant.

It’s in the interests of our national security to decentralise power generation. 

During the summer months, it’s becoming increasingly common for blackouts to occur due to an overload of the mains grid.  It’s during these months that solar power installations can make their greatest contribution. 

A feed-in tariff for grid connected systems redresses these systemic market failures and threats and rewards solar electricity generation for its true value to the electricity market and wider society, by providing a financial incentive for the adoption of renewable energy.

So, to sum up I would like to say “Thanks, but no thanks” to Mr Newman.  Try to penalise me for choosing to make a positive contribution to the environmental footprint of this state and I will take my bat and ball (and solar panels) and go off-grid.  I am sure I will not be the only one.