Sunday, April 8, 2012

Environmentality 4 April 2012

Dear Listeners,

Smokey and Bridget had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Cass, Director of Hepburn Wind, Australia's first community owned wind farm.  Dan talked about the wind farm, and gave listeners a snapshot about what is currently happening in the renewable energy sector.

The community of Daylesford originally opposed having a wind farm in their area.  Yet they were still concerned about climate change and wanted to see action.   The shift occurred when the locals realized they could be active in the planning of the wind farm and form a community owned initiative.  There are now 1900 members, the majority of whom are local.

The two wind turbines are situated at Leonards Hill, just south of Daylesford.  The farm produces 12,200 MWh of energy, enough for 2300 homes, which is actually more than the number of homes situated in Daylesford.  In fact, since Hepburn Wind has been so successful, there are currently more than 50 communities around the country starting to discuss similar projects, including in solar and hydropower.

The award winning Hepburn Wind is an example of how successful renewable projects can be.  This is very important given Australia is starting to lag behind poorer countries like Egypt and Brazil in investing in renewables.  This is despite 80-90% of Australians wanting to see more investment in solar and wind energy.   

Dan also explained to listeners that renewable energy is now cheaper than coal based energy.  ‘Smart money’ around the world is now being invested in renewables, and away from coal.  For example, Google and General Electric and others are investing billions into solar.

We also heard about the need to shift to a new energy ‘Smart Grid Model’, based on a mix of wind, solar and other energy sources, organized by technology and computers.   The new model will cut down on waste, lower costs and increase reliability.  This is in contrast to the current grossly inefficient coal-based model (where coal stations are not turned on or off at night for example).  

It certainly is an exciting time for the energy sector, especially in solar.  Solar has the advantage of being relatively straightforward to find sites for, and being made of units, can easily be scaled-up from small to large initiatives. 

Bridget commended Dan on being a courageous leader in renewable energy and the environmental movement.  Listeners were able to hear Dan's selection of music for the show, including songs by Otis Redding and The Smiths.  Thankyou Dan!

There are opportunities to be involved with Hepburn Wind in volunteering, investing or even simply visiting the farm.  You can visit their website on 

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