There was an ‘electric atmosphere’ in the Avalon Rec Centre on Sunday 30th July when ZESN joined with some 12 other exhibitors and an estimated 300 participants at the Life Electric Expo. The ZESN team of Kate, Alan and Chris supported local ‘Go Solar Mackellar’ group with Solar Made Simple flyers and jointly discussed rooftop solar with the steady flow of interested visitors. It was great to see another local solar group mobilise an enthusiastic team of 7 volunteers. This showed the value of working together to share ideas and resources in the common goal of emissions reduction through rooftop solar. Other local community groups included Clean Energy for Eternity, and Electrify Mackellar, with stalls by local installers and equipment suppliers. Sophie Scamp interviewed Saul Griffith of Rewiring Australia, and John Grimes of the Smart Energy Council for a panel discussion. Both strongly promoted rooftop solar and batteries as the key contribution we can all make to decarbonising the grid, together with getting off fossil gas by fully electrifying our homes.

Zero Emissions Solutions teamed up with Take 3 for the SeaMosman Council and environment conservation community groups for the Balmoral Seaside Scavenge in September.  Take 3 is known all over Australia for its educational programs that teach people about the problem of plastic pollution and inspire them to take action to protect the ocean.  

The event showcased local waste-wise and environmentally conscious initiatives while entertaining with music, face painting and art, and nourishing us with pedal-powered smoothies! We were delighted to participate in this fun, family-friendly day to share information about how to reduce emissions and protect our beautiful local environment.  

Our ZESN volunteers set up an information stall, giving out our Net Zero Guides and answering questions on everything from switching to renewable energy to rooftop solar and ethical investing.

We had a great lineup of Electric Vehicles – Tesla and Hyundai – along with their enthusiastic owners who could talk till the cows come home to anyone who wanted to know about EVs. There was a lot of interest from young and old, the curious and the skeptical.  

If bicycles are more your thing Lug+Carrie had a selection of eBikes available to try out.  Whether it’s for your daily commute or getting the kids to school, these eBikes make cycling a breeze and are designed to carry your kids or your shopping or your laptop.

With sunshine and blue skies, Balmoral Beach was at its beautiful best.  A great day made possible with our brilliant team of volunteers.

Thank you to our largest volunteer crew ever: Louise, Michael, Fay, Tony, Narween, Jenni Chris, Gill, Alan, Adrienne, Milo, Leesa, Leon, Kate, Ann-Charlott, Ursula, Daryl, with Marieken organising us,  plus Neroli from Lug+Carrie doing Tern e-cargo bike test rides!

Engineer and ZESN solar leader Chris explains how virtual power plants work to harness renewable energy and reduce emissions. We are working with Clean Energy for Eternity and Clear Sky Solar Investments to help reach the Northern Beaches Council ambitious target of 50% of suitable premises in the LGA installing solar panels by 2030.

What is a Virtual Power Plant?

A Virtual Power Plant consists of a network of distributed solar power and battery systems co-ordinated by a central VPP operator that:

  • Releases some (or all) of the batteries’ stored energy into the grid during periods of peak demand when wholesale electricity prices are high.
  • May direct the batteries to charge from the grid when electricity demand is so low that grid stability is threatened.

How does it work

The provision of these grid services can be very lucrative for the VPP operator and they will share some of this benefit with their network members in different ways, including periodic fees, payment for battery energy used, and enhanced feed-in tariffs for exported energy, reduced consumption rates, etc.

By being part of a Virtual Power Plant you allow your battery to play an active role in the operation of the grid, supporting it in handling increasing levels of renewable energy – so it’s a good thing to do in principle. You’ll also get some financial reward.

But for this you’ll be giving up control of your battery to a third party, may find your battery has insufficient charge for your needs at times and will have your battery worked harder than if used by yourself alone.

A VPP operator will generally become your Retailer, or may operate through another designated Retailer.

Choose your VPP operator carefully

It’s really important to read the small print on any VPP offer, as the mix of rights (the operator’s) and benefits (yours) vary considerably and can be hard to understand and compare.

A couple of points to keep in mind: 

  • The VPP operator is focused on making money for themselves, not for you – and it’s your battery which is the asset they’re going to be using, so be sure you’re getting a fair slice of the benefits
  • The big ‘gentailers’ (Energy Australia, AGL, Origin) have a strong interest in maximising output and extending the life of their fossil fuel power stations, and excessive market power within the NEM, so consider if you want to give them control of your battery as well! Look instead for a VPP operator focused on renewable energy only.

In conclusion

If you do your research and decide you can put your battery to work in supporting the grid, and get more than enough benefit to compensate for the sacrifices, then go for it – but do so with an VPP operator that shares your commitment to renewable energy!

There are several sources comparing current VPP offers, including this one from Energy Matters.

Solarquotes  and Energy Matters have very good information about VPP on their websites, which we’ve drawn on substantially for this article.

Need assistance with solar for your business or home?

Chris Lee is happy to discuss solar for your business or house, you can email Chris here.

Australian clean energy challenges, innovations and solutions

Day 1 highlights

The first day focused on significant issues affecting the energy industry including Australia’s potential as a clean energy superpower, the politics of clean energy, and financing renewable energy development.

How do we position Australia as a global clean energy superpower? In his Plenary address, Kane Thornton, Clean Energy Council. set the stage for Australia’s clean energy future: “Our industry now stands ready to electrify Australia and establish us as a global clean energy superpower.”

Australia has faced recent energy challenges but there is a long-term pathway to provide clean, reliable, affordable energy for Australian homes and businesses explained Daniel Westerman, CEO, Australian Energy Market Operator.

On the scope and urgency of the clean energy transition, Chris Bowen, Australia’s new Energy Minister says “This is not a whole of government effort. This is a whole of society effort. We have 90 months to do it.”

In the panel discussion on Australia becoming a clean energy superpower. Angela Carl, QIC Global Infrastructure, explained the investment scale needed to transition to clean energy: “There is currently $1 trillion annually being invested in renewables globally, however we need to be investing $5 trillion annually to meet global emissions reduction targets by 2050!”

Finally, how will Australia decarbonise heavy industries? Australia’s decarbonisation efforts have been focused on electricity generation. With net zero targets to meet, Australia needs to accelerate its decarbonisation of heavy industry.

Day 2 highlights

Day two had several streams focusing on the key parts of Australia’s clean energy transition including renewable energy zones, integrating distributed energy resources into networks to enable the export of low-cost clean energy into adjacent networks, clean energy careers, and Australia’s hydrogen opportunity.

The breakfast briefing on the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap discussed the roles of government and corporates in providing clarity and on swiftly building new renewable energy generation.

Saul Griffith, author of The Big Switch for electrifying Australia, explained pathways for households and businesses to accelerate the clean energy transformation. It’s exciting to see how electrification reduces energy requirements. The blue line is the cost of solar and electric households with electric vehicles, and the black is the cost of a fossil fuel business-as-usual approach.

Energy Next 2022

Energy Next was a two day exhibition showcasing the latest solutions from clean energy and energy management companies, it was located next to the Australian Clean Energy Summit.

Energy Next also featured a Solar Masterclass from the Clean Energy Council, providing solar designers and installers with current expert advice on major design and installation issues currently facing the solar industry.

The Digital Trade Guide outlines the exhibitors: Energy Next Guide 2022

What is it like to own an electric motorcycle?


We’re talking with Nigel Morris, electric motorcycle aficionado of the first hour.

With a background in manufacturing, Nigel knew how to make things, but the world of electronics and batteries was all new to him. In the early 1990s, every single system had energy storage before grid-connected solar was a thing and Australia had a small but innovative off-grid solar industry.

A baptism of fire in how to make solar, electronics, and batteries reliable, combined with a passion for motorcycles was the perfect breeding ground for an electric motorcycle obsession.

In the early 2000’s Morris got his first ride on an electric motorcycle in the US and was instantly hooked “For the next ten years, every time I rode my motorcycle, I daydreamed of how to get all the fun without the emissions.”

No less than twelve years after his first taste of an electric motorbike, Nigel became the proud owner of a 2010 model Zero DS from California’s Zero motorcycles, a pioneer in electric motorcycling. Limited to a maximum range of around 40km the bikes were strictly inner-city commuters and short duration off-road, but renowned as fun and loaded with torque.

in 2015 he swapped his vintage Zero for a new 2014 model, a bike that could do almost 100mph, required virtually zero maintenance, and range had more than doubled to around 150km.

Long distance riding

Long-distance riding on a Zero was possible but it utilised a low voltage battery pack, with a nominal 120VDC battery, whereas DC Fast Charging has a minimum DC voltage of 300V, therefore rendering the few fast charging stations available, useless to electric motorcycle owners. From about 2017 onwards announcements and prototypes were starting to flow from well-known brands – KTM, Piaggio, Honda, BMW, and even Harley Davidson. In 2020, Morris got a phone call from a friend and fellow journalist, podcaster, and blogger Giles Parkinson who is the editor for The Driven, an EV-focused website. “Nige – Harley have invited us to go to the Australian launch of their new all-electric Harley Davidson Livewire. We assumed you might like to go and have RSVP’d for you?

And the rest as they say is history.

Nigel never thought of himself as a potential Harley Davidson rider, but the way the Livewire looks and handles, combined with its power – 0-100 km within 3 seconds- justified the fairly heft price tag for Nigel. He now can complete a 420km zero-emissions ride in a day, demonstrating the huge difference that DC fast charging makes. And needless to say, without having to spend a dollar on fuel.

Riding without the sound

The single most common question about riding an electric bike is if one doesn’t miss the sound that has been synonymous with motorbikes ever since they came into existence. Morris: “I have a deep and visceral emotional connection between the sound of a motorcycle and the thrills that it embodies. We emotionally interpret them to be one and the same. But I have utterly re-learned this. The conventional sound of a motorcycle remains evocative, but it’s become superfluous to how I get my kicks – along with heat, vibration, and maintenance.

We’re glad you asked.

Subscribing to our newsletter is a great way to be involved. Sharing it with your friends and joining us on social media helps even more as we’re build a community of like-minded locals passionate about sustainability and low carbon living.

Looking for something more, something meaningful and fun? We would love you join our volunteer team! ZESN Volunteers working group has grant funding to expand our impact and we’ve launched Our Big Switch to help 100 local homes, businesses and schools make low carbon switches. Anyone interested can contact Ursula, Fay or Narween.

Electric car and Electric bike owners and displays

If you are delighted by your EV, or you are enjoying your electric bike, come and show it off at one of our regular EV show-and-tells. We hold these at least once a quarter at the Mosman Markets, and are looking at larger events. Contact Ursula, Alan or Chris and we can tell you all about it.

Zero Emissions Info Stall market team

Our friendly volunteer team is at Mosman Markets four times this year, and plans to new areas. Would you be interested in doing a stall on the Northern Beaches or North Shore? We provide equipment, signs, training and back-up. Contact Louise or Marieken for more details.

Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Insta & LinkedIn!

Between them, Ursula and Marieken do most of Zero’s social media. It’s a great way to build community, but it takes time! If you love twitter, are nifty on instagram, or want to launch the Zero Emissions Solutions Tiktok account, we want to hear from you. Contact Marieken to find out more.

Council Reps

Working with our local councils can be a rewarding and have real impact. We have representatives working with Mosman, Northern Beaches and North Sydney but would welcome people who want to get involved with councils including Willoughby and Lane Cove. Contact Ursula to find out more.

Presentations and Events

We’ve presented over 70 free information sessions on rooftop solar, renewable energy, EVs and more. Over the last three years, thousands of households have come to our presentations. We welcome people getting involved, either in organising presentations and events, or on centre stage! Contact Ann-Charlott or Ursula to find out more.

Schools Network

Last year Jenni Hagland, working with ZESN and Mosman Council. brought all eight schools in Mosman together to form the Zero Emissions Schools Network! The program continues this year, with plans to hold an Expo and awards ceremony later in the year. There’s lots to do, and huge amounts of enthusiasm. Join the team or find out more by contacting Jenni.

Collaborations and new ZESN programs are welcome!

We have successful co-branded collaborations with SolarPro, Diamond Energy, The Good Car Company and Mosman Council. We’re happy to discuss further collaborations!

Do you have big ideas? Are you wanting to make a difference? We’d love to help YOU. If you have an idea for an action or an initiative in the Northern Beaches or North Shore, we can help, whether it’s sharing information or contacts, acting as a sounding board, or even supporting you to develop a new program under the Zero Emissions Solutions brand umbrella. Let’s talk!

We’re onboard with the Northern Beaches Council ambitious target of 50% of suitable premises in the LGA installing solar panels by 2030

Our volunteers are collaborating with Clean Energy for Eternity and Clear Sky Solar Investments to help reach the Northern Beaches Council ambitious target of 50% of suitable premises in the LGA installing solar panels by 2030!

What if businesses covered their roofs in panels? Could they store excess electricity in batteries or even in electric cars or delivery vans? How about if solar uptake spread across a whole industrial estate? Could it power the whole thing?

Six months down the track we’ve asked many more questions, done a great deal of research and come up with a vision for Brookvale.

Big if. But worth a try.

Read on for the full media release which has more details about the collaboration on Powerhouse Brookvale. If you work or live or play in Brookvale, please spread the word.

This is where it all began: Zero Emissions Info Days at the monthly Mosman Market on the Village Green. Back in October 2020 we put up our marquee, signs and posters and gave out free zero emissions information. We had a wonderful day talking to people about saving money and sustainability and made lots of new friends.

Since then, we’ve held ten info days at markets, learning as we go, introducing new ways to interact including our Sun Pledge board, and our transport group volunteers bringing E-cars and E-bikes. We’ve had help along the way from Mosman Council, Energy Electric Bikes, Eat My Dust E-scooters and our wonderful volunteer community.

We’ve had great feedback and we’d like to help provide our free info to more areas. Would you like to help us expand to other markets on the North Shore and Northern Beaches? We’d love to hear from you!

We have opportunities for a team leader in each local LGA, and volunteers to come along wherever it suits them best. We provide the marquee, Tshirts, signs and information guides. No experience required: we can bring you up to speed with what has become well-oiled machine. You just need a passion for sustainability and a willingness to engage with like-minded people.

If you’re interested in joining in with one of our most rewarding volunteer activities we’d love to have you. Please contact Marieken, Louise or Ursula or fill out our volunteer form.

 

After a nutty first six months of the year for Zero Emissions Solutions the idea was to slow things down a little in July and August.

Hmm. About that… Here’s how the diary ended up looking.

July 20: Solar My House Webinar, with David Veal of Solarpro (recording here)

July 19: Mosman Council delivers our Sustainable Living Guide to 30,000 households

August 3: Mosman Council Climate Action Community Committee

August 4: Zero Emissions Schools Network – Mosman, hosted by Beauty Point Public School

August 5: Solar My House Webinar, with Ruth Irwin of Mosman Council (recording here)

August 17: Ann-Charlott spoke with Nigel Howard and Joeline Hackman of War on Waste Northern Beaches, discussing what local residents can do to reduce emissions (recording here)

September 9: Ursula spoke with Jo Taranto at Good for the Hood‘s Communities Reducing Emissions webinar (recording here)

September 21: Our Switch to Renewable Energy program launched at another BZE community, WinZero, in Wingecarribee Shire.

Zero Emissions in the news

Sydney Observer, September edition

Zero Emissions Schools Network in Mosman Living

But wait there’s more

Representatives from Zero Emissions Solutions also attended seminars and meetings with (in no particular order) Vote Earth Now, Infinite Australia, AEVA, Groundswell, BZE Renewable Industrial Precincts, the Climate Council, 350.org, 1millionwomen and C4C. In particular, we recommend Professor Lesley Hughes briefing on the IPCC report, in conjunction with Australian Parents For Climate.

We worked with Arnies Recon to launch free EWaste Community Collection days for the Northern Beaches including Avalon 2 Sept, Dee Why 9 Sept, Manly 13 Sept, Mosman 16 Sept.

Finally, we continue to work with Clean Energy for Eternity on a major project to create an urban renewable energy zone – watch this space!

The New South Wales State Government has come up with two compelling reasons to make your next car electric. From September 1 this year there will be:

  • No stamp duty payable on EVs that cost under $78,000
  • $3000 rebate for the first 25,000 buyers of EVs that cost under $68,750

Book to find out more at our free EV webinar now

“Our transport sector currently makes up 20% of NSW emissions, with almost 50% from passenger vehicles. Electric vehicles are not only cheaper to run and quieter on our roads, but they also reduce both carbon emissions and air pollution which results in dramatically improved health outcomes for our communities.”

Andrew Constance, NSW Transport Minister

The NSW Government is investing half a billion dollars on tax cuts and incentives to make it easier to afford an EV over the next four years. It estimates the average NSW driver will save around $1000 a year in running costs by switching to an EV. Savings can be up to $7500 a year for businesses, taxis and freight. EVs buyers become eligible for the stamp duty waiver and rebate once the backdated legislation passes in parliament.*

“I’m excited by our area having cleaner air and quieter streets, with buses, cars, scooters and bikes being powered by the sun. These incentives plus the ongoing lower running costs of an EV will help many people to go electric”

Ursula Hogben, Co-founder, Zero Emissions Solutions
Porsche Taycan 2021 EV Reasons to go electric

With such great reasons to go electric, interest in electric cars continues to grow. The Australian Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA) keeps an up to date list here. Prices (for new cars) range from $45000 for a brand new MG EV to north of $200k for an electric Porsche. 

We’ll be talking with Michael Day, NSW Chair and National Treasurer of AEVA at our free community online event on Tuesday 19 Oct at 7pm. Join Ursula Hogben and Michael Day talking EVs, incentives, bidirectional charging and more. It’s free but spaces are limited so book here: https://events.humanitix.com/zero-emissions-transport-tue-19-oct

*Both incentives apply to battery and hydrogen fuel cell EVs, not plug-in hybrids.