The pictures tell the story. In just a year, Zero Emissions Sydney North has held more than 20 Solar My House parties and webinars, two Electric Vehicle webinars and a Solar Open House day. Our volunteers have attended Mosman markets, delivered flyers and hosted parties. After lengthy research, we have partnered with two businesses with renewable energy at their core.
We’ve built a core group of volunteers and found friends and colleagues across local government and not-for-profit organisations. We’ve won two grants and helped people put more than $250,000 worth of solar panels on houses in the Northern region of Sydney. This is roughly equivalent to planting nearly 5000 trees, or saving of nearly 2 million kilometres of fossil-fuelled driving!
All that remains is to say thank you to all the brilliant people and organisations who have walked alongside, including:
Our Advisory Team and all the individuals and businesses who have said ‘yes, sure, what can I do?’ And last but definitely not least, a heartfelt thanks to all our amazing volunteers, many of whom star in the video.
We are a not-for-profit association of volunteers working across the Northern Beaches and the North Shore. We operate as part of the national Beyond Zero Emissions network. Our focus is on practical projects that will accelerate our transition to net zero emissions.
Community is an amazing thing! When Mosman Council decided to restart its arts and crafts market (after a COVID hiatus) a team of ZESN volunteers sprang into action by organising a low emissions market stall. We had three electric cars on display across the day, and electric bikes available to try out. Chris demonstrated how the variable speed pool pump can save money and Theo gave demonstrations of an energy audit kit. HUGE THANKS to everyone who worked so hard, especially Mosman Council. 10/10 would recommend!
For other low emissions market events please visit our events page. Or why not sign up to our newsletter and get regular updates! We are a not-for-profit association of volunteers operating as part of the national Beyond Zero Emissions network. Our focus is on practical projects designed to accelerate our transition to net zero emissions.
We offer webinars and information sessions so that you can reach your own low emissions goals.
We know we need to do things differently to reduce our emissions. We know we need to change. But how? Kid Power, that’s how.
“It’s really difficult to talk to adults and ask them to change,” says Jenni Hagland, leader of Zero Emissions Schools program. “I had this epiphany one day at the bakery. There was an adult in line with his bread bag. I said, ‘Oh, that’s amazing,’ and he said, ‘My kids make me do it, I don’t want to.’
“It made me think: get the kids doing it, then their parents will change. It’s so much easier to get adults to change when their kids are involved.”
Jenni Hagland is new to ZESN but no newcomer to change-making. She has worked on sustainability for more than a decade. In 2006 she began working for the Carbon Disclosure Project, a global NGO based in London, followed up by work for the CDP in Hong Kong. She moved to Sydney in 2016 and started the Mosman Public School Sustainability Club in 2018.
The club started small, fundraising for recycling bins, having ‘nude lunch’ challenges, turning off lights and installing LEDs. Then this April, after a year of planning and fund-raising, the school installed 50kW of solar panels on its roof. The system will provide 25% of the school’s electricity needs, saving $8,000 a year.
New to Zero Emissions Sydney North
Now Jenni has joined Zero Emissions Sydney North to work on sustainability in schools across the region, starting with a new range of resources available from the Zero Emissions website. There are practical, step-by-step guides to forming a school sustainability team, revving up your recycling and active transport, and making sustainability a part of the curriculum. Plus there are inspiring case studies from Mosman Public School and Manly Selective showing how young people are making change happen, and benefitting their schools and communities at the same time. Kid Power rocks!
“People overlook the impact kids have on their parents. You’re changing their behaviour at an early age, making them aware of the problem. These little people are going to turn into adults. I think it’s really important to make that not new or weird. It’s a part of their behaviour, and that will rub off at home, their parents will change, small business will respond to that, community will change.”
If you are inspired by these stories, if you want to help your school save money and carbon emissions, please get in touch.
A guest post from Robert Gavin and Di Elliffe, owners of Evie the Nissan Leaf, who recently took them all the way from Hobart to the Northern Beaches. Rob and Di participated in the Good Car Company‘s first community bulk buy.
We are not frequent car drivers. Our preference is for active transport – riding our electric bicycles and walking – around our hometown (Hobart) and when we are in Curl Curl we use our Brompton folding bicycles, and public transport for longer trips.
But, like most families, we occasionally find a car convenient … so when our existing fuel sipping car was due for a trade-in we took advantage of The Good Car Co bulk electric vehicle purchase of second hand imported Nissan Leaf sedans – and so Evie joined our household in May 2020.
The Good Car Co is a Tasmanian-based initiative giving Australians access to reliable, affordable second hand electric cars. Register here to find out how you could be part of their next bulk buy, or join us at ‘Accelerate your transition’,our free webinar on electric transport.
Evie is a 2017 Nissan Leaf with a 30kWh battery. When we bought her she had done 13,000 kilometres, and she cost $30,000 … effectively, almost a new car at just over half the price of a current model. Inside and out, she was in perfect condition, and The Good Car Co ensure the battery is at least 85% useable prior to purchase. The cost included purchase, shipping to Australia, conversion to Australian standards, and insurance while in transit – all handled by The Good Car Co.
Her first job was to help us move all our household goods into storage. The back seats fold down to provide a good volume of space (though a little odd in shape). Evie excelled at this task, quietly running to and from our store with countless loads of boxes. Around Hobart she averaged 7.2 kms per kilowatt hour (30 kWh battery, so a notional range of 210 kilometres, though in practice this was closer to 170 kms for us). We charged her at home where we had off street parking and access to a household power point and our own solar panels.
Her second job was to take us to Sydney in June. Being a city girl, a road trip was a bit of a stretch for a Nissan Leaf like Evie, but we quickly found that, as long as we were prepared to take it easy and enjoy the trip, the journey with Evie was a treat.
We stayed in a small B&B in Campbelltown, Tasmania, to break our journey to Devonport where we caught the ferry. This was because the distance between Hobart and Launceston was greater than Evie’s range, so she needed a slow (overnight) charge somewhere along the way. On our return, this will not be a problem because Campbelltown now has its own fast charger.
A fast charger will recharge a Nissan Leaf from low to full in 20-30 minutes. An overnight charge on a domestic power point (10 amp) will take about 12 hours.
In Melbourne we charged up in Coburg and headed North. Like Tasmania, Victoria does not have a well developed fast charging network yet. It was very frustrating driving past countless petrol stations along the way to the next fast charger. … When are we going to grasp the future?.
How to charge
Using the app “Plugshare”, we plotted our trip based on available charging stations. In Victoria we stopped at Seymour Park and then at a fast charger in Euroa. The Seymour Park stop was for three hours, and we had a great walk along the Goulburn river while waiting. An EV gets you fit as well!
Travelling at speed is a big drain on the battery, and we found our optimum cruising speed with Evie turns out to be between 85 to 95 kph. At that speed we could achieve a theoretical 150 km range comfortably. Given the slower travel speed, if an alternative route was available we would always choose it over the freeway. Fortunately, the old Melbourne to Sydney road is still running close by for much of the trip. It winds its way through the countryside and it is a pleasant, quiet and comfortable alternative road to use.
After spending the night in Wangaratta we headed off into NSW via Albury. Once in New South Wales we were pleased to find that the NRMA has a network of fast chargers to compliment commercial chargers already available. Plotting a route for an electric vehicle of a Nissan Leaf range all the way to Sydney is easily done. We stopped at Yass, ready to head into our destination the next day after an overnight slow charge.
On average we were charging Evie up three times a day to allow for contingencies. Just as well, actually, because we had a minor drama at Tarcutta where a fast charger was not working properly and we could not charge up at all … so we had to drive relatively slowly to the dog on the tuckerbox (Gundagai) for our next charge.
Slowly does it
While frequent fast charges are not a problem, doing four of them in one day sent the temperature of our batteries into the red zone. I learned to enjoy the slower pace the car is more comfortable with.
Entering Sydney, Evie came into her own and it was a pleasant drive from the South up to Curl Curl. By the time we reached our destination she had reached 6.9 kms per kWh, nearly the same result as suburban driving around Hobart. It cost us just over $20 for energy for the entire trip. Charging overnight at motels was included in the tariff, and NRMA fast chargers are free at the moment.
Living and driving around Curl Curl for three months, we have enjoyed having Evie there when we need her. In suburban Sydney she is achieving 7.6 km per kWh. We charge her up during the day, at home, taking advantage of home solar to get free energy from the sun. We charge up about once a fortnight. Best of all, it is really satisfying to know we are travelling in a Nissan Leaf without contributing anything towards global warming.
Our shopping centre has six priority spaces for electric vehicles (Stocklands, Balgowlah), so it is always easy to get a park. If we are going over 100km there is always a fast charger somewhere along the way.
Nissan Leaf: the verdict
In summary, a 30kWh Leaf is an ideal runabout for everyday suburban driving. It is easy to drive and has more than enough energy for a full day of commuting. Being 100% electric, the mechanics are simple and reliable. Nissan also produce a small electric van which can come configured with five or seven “fold away” seats. These are also imported by The Good Car Co at a good price. Although second hand, these cars look and feel like new. They will easily pay for themselves in fuel savings over their life.
The Good Car Co are a pleasure to deal with. Anthony, Anton and Sam are passionate about transitioning away from carbon based transport and they have worked out a successful business model that everyone (including the planet) benefits from.
Robert and Di are leaders in climate activism in Tasmania. They volunteer with Bicycle Network Tasmania and Coast Watchers. Their next big project is setting up Australia’s first community owned electric vehicle carshare for an apartment block in Hobart.
The Good Car Co is a Tasmanian-based initiative giving Australians access to reliable, affordable second hand electric cars. Register here to find out how you could be part of their next bulk buy.Or join us at our next EV webinar, where Anthony and Anton will be our guest speakers.
It was one of those lightbulb moments. Ursula Hogben, founding member of Zero Emissions Sydney North (ZESN) was filling up her car at the local petrol station when, chatting to her kids, she said, ‘it’ll seem really strange to you in the future that we all put petrol in our cars and all drove around burning fossil fuels.’ Her son’s reply pulled her up short.
“Mummy, it seems really strange now. Why wouldn’t you just have a battery and fill the battery up from the sun?”
Yes. Of course. Why wouldn’t you? It was the starting point for the next Zero Emissions Sydney North program, Zero Emissions Vehicles.
“If you’re trying to make a difference it feels really incongruous to then be filling your car up with fossil fuels each week and emitting greenhouse gases as you drive around,’ says Ursula. “We want to help people move away from fossil fuels and be part of industry level change. Supporting active transport, E bikes and EVs gives everyone low emissions choices.”
Electric cars in Australia
Electric cars — EVs, as they’re known in the business — are the exception in Australia, but that’s changing as manufacturers and consumers rush to catch-up with the worldwide shift to low-emissions transport. Elon Musk’s high performance Tesla has made electric cars desirable, and now other manufacturers, along with government incentives in some countries, are making them affordable. But what’s available? How do they work? Where do you get them? What do they cost?
ZESN’s Electric Transport working group has been doing the research and finding out answers to these and many more questions. Next week, Ursula will host the first of ZESN’s regular events to share what they have learnt. Accelerating your transition covers why people are buying EVs, how EVs perform, the financial savings (and the environmental benefits), and features guest speakers who will be more than happy to answer questions.
“We want to help make EVs more accessible. We looked at options and we’re glad to partner with Good Car Co a Tasmanian-based company pioneering the import of low mileage, reasonably priced (from $19,000!) second hand electric cars with a guarantee and user support. We’ve also done a research review of Councils installing EV chargers to help people who can’t charge at home. We’re very excited that Mosman Council is installing an ultra-fast charger soon!”
Webinar coming up
If you’re even slightly curious affordable about electric cars, don’t miss Accelerating your transition. Our events are informal with plenty of time for questions, and Covid-safe online for the moment, so you can join the conversation from home. EV owners will be there to share their stories, and we’ll be taking registrations from interested parties so we can make a Good Car Company bulk buy a reality.
Maybe you’ll be driving an electric car sooner than you think.
A shout out to Manly Food Co-op, who are our special guests at the next Solar My House session on October 27th at 6.30pm. The Co-op is a bit of an inspiration for me. It has survived many challenges. In March 2020, for example, it adapted the entire business to socially-distanced and online shopping on a week’s notice. You can now shop in person, or online, then pick up your goodies from their shop on Wentworth Street. It’s just down the street from Coles, next to one of the pedestrian entrances to the Wentworth Street Municipal carpark.
October’s Solar My House session is still on Covid-safe Zoom, but inspiration for my BYO drinks and nibbles comes from the yummy selection of locally-produced, organic, plastic-free produce stocked at the Co-op.
Sophisticated attendees could try Pickled cucumbers with seaweed and sesame. Or chocoholics (er, guilty as charged) might go straight for Chocolate popcorn. The great thing about all the Co-op recipes is that all ingredients are available in the shop. They’re packaging free and mostly organic, locally-sourced and competitively priced. For example, their certified organic milk is only $1.95 a litre. Although you do need to bring your own bottle or jug!
Non-MFC-members are welcome to join us for Solar My House on October 27 but places are limited, so book your spot. Or, even better, join MFC (it’s only $5 and you’ll get that back in your 10% discount) and grab some good things to eat while you find out about renewable energy, rooftop solar, rebates, batteries and more.
Since publishing this post, we’ve been able to confirm three electric cars and four electric bicycles will be at our first stall at Mosman Arts and Crafts Market on Saturday October 3. Come and see the Nissan Leaf and the Hyundai Kona (from 9.30am) and the Tesla (from 12.30pm) and chat to the owners about the driving experience.
For the curious, young and old, there will be hands-on exhibits, like a pool pump which could save you $100s of dollars, and a photovoltaic panel, converting the sun into power in real time. Plus have you seen the Tesla PowerWall battery in action? We’ve got an app for that, and you’re invited to come and play.
We’ll be there from 8am till 3pm, with information on ways to reduce your emissions ranging from rooftop solar to electric bikes to home efficiency tips. If you’re in the area, please drop by and say hello.
Many thanks to Mosman Council for their support, and don’t forget to sample the food, have a good coffee and browse the beautiful, hand-crafted jewellery, clothes and other treasures while you’re there.
I am a shameless early adopter, first in the queue for the new gadgets. Back in 2011 I installed solar panels. I paid around $6,000 for a 5.5 kW system, 20 panels. The system has more than met my expectations. It’s easily paid for itself, and I love knowing that I’m producing my own power.
But… You knew there was a but coming, didn’t you? I have no regrets, but I learnt a few lessons the hard way. Here they are:
You get what you pay for
Photovoltaic panels are well-established technology. They’re not hard to manufacture. That means there is a huge range on the market, some of them very cheap. Sadly, the usual rule applies: you get what you pay for. If they’re cheap, they’re cheap for a reason. (The same applies to the inverter, by the way. Finn Peacock does a handy summary of good brands at SolarQuotes.)
My panels were mid-range price. They’re doing ok. They’ve certainly paid for themselves. But there are cracks in the panels which suggest they might be on the way out.
2. Google maps is not enough
Most solar sales teams will look at your roof on Google maps and tell you instantly how many panels you can fit on your roof. However, Google can’t tell them the whole story. A reputable company will visit your house to check the access, the shading, the state of the roof etc., as well as to discuss with you, in person, how it works. If they don’t offer to do this, they might not be the company for you.
When my panels arrived, the installers discovered that they could not fit all the panels I had purchased on the north-facing side of my roof. They ended up putting 5 panels on the east-facing roof. It means I get a bit of power early in the morning, but it is heavily shaded in winter – not ideal.
3. Know your trade
Some companies do not have installers on staff. They make the sale, then use contractors to install. This model is common with the cheap cheap online deals you see. Because the price is so low, the contractor only gets a slim margin, with no incentive to ‘go the extra mile’ in service or quality. You’re generally better off with a company that has its own installation teams. In other words, actually solar technicians!
I got quotes from SolarQuotes and chose a company from the list. The panels were installed by contractors. I called up two weeks after installation because a circuit had tripped. “Someone will get back to you,” they said. Guess what? They didn’t.
4. Weasel words and warranties
A 25 year performance warranty is pretty standard for all solar panels. This means that after 25 years, your panels should still be pumping out the power. It’s not, however, a warranty against manufacturing faults on the panels or, more importantly, on the inverter. A reputable company should offer at least 15 years on panels (the best offer 25 years) and at least 10 years on the inverter, and give you a number to call if either fail. If they don’t offer this kind of follow-up, you could make an expensive mistake.
My panels are guaranteed for 25 years but it turns out I mistook the ‘performance warranty’ for the ‘product warranty’. Rooky error.
5. Solar panels really are a no-brainer
In spite of the various traps I fell into, I have nothing but love for my solar panels. They have been worth every penny. Two years ago we added a Tesla battery to the mix, meaning that some days we are running on 100% solar power. I’m proud of taking action, and my electricity bills have reduced by around 60%. I’d encourage anyone who has a suitable roof to install solar panels if at all possible, because both financially and environmentally they represent a no-brainer. And it is so satisfying when you look at the app and see you’re 91% self powered!
So… Do it, do it now, but do it smart. You can avoid my mistakes by coming to a Zero Emissions Solar My House info session to find out how solar works and how to make sure you get the best system for you.
Nearly 200 people joined Mosman Council’s online Climate Action Forum last night, where they listened to a stellar panel of guest speakers and government representatives discussing climate resilience.
The panel included:
The Hon. Matt Kean MP, NSW Minister for Energy & Environment and Member for Hornsby
Zali Steggall OAM MP, Federal Member for Warringah
Felicity Wilson MP, Member for North Shore
Mosman Mayor Carolyn Corrigan
Professor David Schlosberg, Professor of Environmental Politics at the University of Sydney and Director of the Sydney Environment Institute
Professor Ruth Irwin, Team Leader Sustainability, Mosman Council.
Dominic Johnson, General Manager of Mosman Council was Master of Ceremonies.
It was a lively forum with some insightful questions posed by audience members including representatives of Zero Emissions Sydney North. You can watch the complete forum here.
Zali Steggall MP explained how the proposed Climate Act will confirm a Federal net-zero-by-2050 target, which all States and Territories have already agreed to. Then she discussed how legislation has helped successful climate action in conservative-governed-UK.
Professor David Schlosberg talked about Australia’s potential to be a renewable energy superpower
Matt Kean MP and Felicity Wilson MP spoke about NSW State based actions including the new renewable energy zones
Professor Ruth Irwin presented climate facts and solutions. Both Ruth and Mayor Carolyn Corrigan spoke about Mosman Council’s actions so far. These include the 51 kW solar installation on the Marie Bashir Mosman Sports Centre, LED upgrades for all street lights, and informational videos on the Council’s website. They also offer discounted access to the Climate Clever app for all residents.
The panel spoke passionately about the need to support vulnerable people in our community who will be impacted by rising heat and unstable weather. They urged people to use their democratic power to vote for climate action.
The panel ended with a video of a Q & A with local school students talking to Matt Kean and Felicity Wilson. The video makes it clear that young people are well across the facts. They want to hear how we are switching to renewable energy, protecting our forests and animals. Creating renewable and sustainable jobs for their families and the students in the future matters to them.
Mosman Council’s three presentations from the recent workshops are available to view. To read more about Mosman Council’s climate action programs and initiatives, visit their website. And if you like what they’re doing, please tell them!
What rebates can I get on solar panels? How much does it cost to install rooftop solar? How do I choose a reputable company? Are batteries worth the money? And what’s with these Facebook ads for cheap deals?
Bring all your questions to our free Solar My House webinar at 6.30pm on September 16, 2020. Hosted by volunteers Ann-Charlott and Ursula, with the expert input of solar guru David Veal from Solarpro, this relaxed and friendly info session aims to get you up to speed on rooftop solar and show you how you could save money on power bills and help the environment.
We’ve already helped 100s of households start their solar journey. Here’s what some of them have said:
I thought the evening was honestly great. For me it removed any barriers to entry with making the switch, mostly around research, clarity and options. I thought the good, better, best approach was perfect. Thanks so much for starting this clever, helpful and powerful (no pun intended) initiative.
I love the fact that you guys are getting up and doing something when so many others just worry but never take action. It is exciting to have a target to work towards for our region. I love the fact that you have built in a ‘giving loop’ and plan to install solar for various charities to allow them to focus their funds on their core work, while simultaneously reducing emissions. Simply brilliant!