Sunny and share is go! It only took two days for a team of three Solarpro solar installers to add a 13.3 kW system to the roof of local charity Pioneer Clubhouse.

“We’re all thrilled to see the solar panels going on the roof,” says Megan Robert, recovery support worker at Pioneer Clubhouse. “It’s not just the financial benefit. Having up to $5000 extra a year will make a huge difference but we also love that we’re using clean, renewable energy to power our programs.”

Ann-Charlott Paduch of Zero Emissions Sydney North says, “the Community Giving Fund has always been an integral part of the Zero Emissions Sydney North mission, and it’s wonderful to be making our first installation after only 18 months of operation.

“Of course, we couldn’t have done this without the support of our hard-working management team, volunteers, donors, supporters and commercial partners. In particular, David Veal of Solarpro has been with us from the start, answering countless questions, giving us the benefit of his solar nerdiness, and pledging a percentage of every sale he makes through us to the Community Giving Fund.”

“The sun does it again,” says David Veal. “We’re proud to work with Zero Emissions Sydney North, helping people get on board with the renewable energy revolution. Our goal is to bring people’s energy bills as near to zero as possible.”

Zali Steggall MP will formally launch Pioneer Clubhouse’s new solar system at 1.30pm on Thursday June 10. Media are welcome: please get in touch via hello@zerosydneynorth.org.

The project is funded by our Community Giving Fund which receives contributions from our Solar My House partner, Solarpro, and our electricity retailer of choice, Diamond. You can also contribute to the project at Pioneer Clubhouse’s GoFundMe page.

Feed-in charges?! No way! The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) today released a draft determination on how to integrate more small-scale solar into the electricity grid. The paper addresses the problem of ‘traffic jams’ on the network, caused by small-scale solar feeding into a grid infrastructure which was designed when power only needed to flow one way.

Here’s the interview with AEMC chief executive Ben Barr on ABC News this morning.

The draft determination suggests rooftop solar owners might be charged to export the solar power they generate in excess of what they use to the grid. In other words, instead of a feed-in tariff, a feed-in charge. The Sydney Morning Herald calls the proposal ‘controversial’.

What does this mean for rooftop solar owners? Ann-Charlott, team leader of our Solar My House program (well-informed but, she notes, ‘not an expert’), has been following the developments. Here are her thoughts:

This issue is most relevant for states like SA that have a high penetration of solar.  It is less relevant to NSW and especially our Ausgrid area. As we know, the rate of rooftop solar installation for Mosman is 5 to 6% of houses, and around 14% on Northern Beaches, well below the national average and much below SA.
In the meantime, Ann-Charlott says, networks are exploring other ways to address the problem.

Traffic jam busters

  • The bottom line

    Meanwhile, the transition to renewable energy in Australia is happening, so the existing infrastructure – the poles and wires – will need to adapt to accommodate new technologies. The feed-in tariff is always liable to change — up, down, different pricings at different times — but the savings you get from all that free solar power from your roof remain.

    Shine on!

Jeremy and Kate live in a Pettit+Sevitt home, designed by Sydney architect Ken Woolley near the start of his career. Their house is on a steep block, surrounded by mature trees. The trees have grown over the years turning harbour views into harbour glimpses, but they like it that way. 

We believe that the fact there are trees increases the value of property in Mosman. In a climate change world it reduces temperatures and gives us oxygen and all sorts of good things.

The natural environment has always been important to Kate and Jeremy. They were both involved in the long campaign in the 80s and 90s to prevent Sydney Harbour’s foreshores from being developed, which led to the establishment of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust in 2001.

The family installed a small rooftop solar system back in 2009 to take advantage of the 60c feed-in tariff. But ten years on, their solar feed-in had dwindled to almost nothing and mature trees put the panels in partial shade for much of the day. Kate and Jeremy wanted a more efficient system but they were determined to keep the trees. After talking to Zero Emissions Sydney North they obtained quotes for a new system and chose Solarpro to install it.

A solution for shady sites

Solarpro recommended installing a 3.7 kW system comprising 10 LG Mono XL panels, using a Solaredge inverter, which could make the most of their tree-shaded, west-facing split level roof. The installation took half a day and cost $5,433, plus $650 for their old panels to be recycled. The new system generates nearly twice as much electricity.

The financial benefits of solar are not Jeremy and Kate’s key motivation, but their new system is already making an impact on their power bills.

Where does their motivation come from?

“From the soles of our boots”, says Kate, “to our heart and souls. We started bush regenerating and got gradually more and more concerned about the environment. We want to do what we can.”

Find out more about Mosman Parks and Bushland here, and investigate how you might benefit from rooftop solar here.

This is the first in a series of case studies carried out on behalf of Mosman Council as part of the Mosman Sustainable Living project. 

 

Announcing our first Sunny and Share charity installation.

It looks like just another warehouse backing onto busy Balgowlah Road, but go through the gate and down the path and you find yourself in a little oasis. There’s a community garden, a cafe, and an open space with comfy chairs, work stations and quiet zones. There are friendly smiles and a warm welcome.

Pioneer Clubhouse is a safe, supportive, respectful community of people with lived experience of mental illness, based in Balgowlah on the Northern Beaches. It has been around for 25 years.  Members work side by side with staff in the running of the Clubhouse, to complete daily tasks in the kitchen, café, creative hub, garden and office. Through participation, members can rejoin the worlds of friendships, family, employment and education and have access to the services and support they individually need to continue their recovery. Each member is valued, needed and wanted.

A key part of Zero Emission Sydney North’s mission is Sunny and Share, a Community Giving Fund which feeds back donations from individuals and our business partners to benefit local charities. Zero Emissions Sydney North is thrilled to be working with Pioneer Clubhouse for our very first Sunny and Share charity install. The idea is that by lowering the Pioneer Clubhouse power bills on an ongoing basis, they will have more resources for their core programs for the life of the system. The installation is planned for May 2021.

Ann-Charlott, program leader of Solar My House:

Right from the start, we felt rooftop solar could make a real, ongoing difference to charitable organisations in our area. I’m proud that our first installation is going ahead and I can’t wait to see their roof covered in solar panels!

The project is funded by our Community Giving Fund which receives contributions from our Solar My House partner, Solarpro, and our electricity retailer of choice, Diamond. You can also contribute to the project at Pioneer Clubhouse’s GoFundMe page.

L-R: Nuala Stewart, Ursula Hogben, Caroline Corrigan, Jenni Hagland, Ruth Irwin, Loani Tierney.

School Principals gathered for the first meeting of Zero Emissions Schools Network – Mosman on February 17. Eight schools from Mosman LGA were represented, plus Cammaray Public School (North Sydney LGA).

Mosman Mayor Carolyn Corrigan welcomed the schools, along with Jenni Hagland, team leader for Zero Emissions Schools, Ursula Hogben, co-founder of Zero Emissions Sydney North, and the Mosman Council environment team.
 
Jenni says:
 
The energy and enthusiasm was great to see. It was so interesting to hear what every school is doing and find out their motivation for joining the group. 
 
The next meeting of Zero Emissions Schools Network – Mosman will be hosted at Mosman Public School on 19th May. I hope to get a speaker in to talk to the group about school composting and worm farms. This ties in with Mosman Public School because they have just got their gardens going and are working on composting at the moment.
 
Jenni is launching a regular email newsletter to the group. It includes news of grants, events and other relevant information. She also plans to build on the existing how-to guides and resources at Zero Emissions Schools. Look out for how-to guides on reducing waste and installing solar.
 
If you are interested in creating a sustainability group at your school the Zero Emissions Sydney North Schools page has a great range of resources to get you started. Jenni is also available for one-on-one consultations and you can contact her via schools@zerosydneynorth.org.au.
 
 
 
 


Ausgrid have announced that the Northern Beaches will be one of three trial sites for community batteries. Solar My House program leader, Ann-Charlott Paduch, is very excited about the potential of this new initiative. As she says:

Installing solar panels on your roof already makes financial sense, in terms of savings on your power bills. A community battery makes the numbers even better, because you get some of the benefits of a home battery, but without the expense.

What is a community battery?

A community battery allows solar owners to share a large battery that is owned and maintained by Ausgrid. If you already have solar panels, Ausgrid claims you could make an additional $200-$300 a year by feeding excess power into the community battery, without the hassle or expense of installing your own battery.

“I think community batteries could be a real game-changer for renewable energy,” says Ann-Charlott. “As well as generating more savings for solar owners, they will encourage more people to install solar. And that will increase the amount of renewable energy in the grid and put downward pressure on prices. I’ll be watching developments closely.”

Find out more

Ann-Charlott presents our regular Solar My House webinar. The next webinar is on Wednesday 24 February, and she is expecting your questions on community batteries! Sign up for the one hour webinar, which outlines how solar works, how batteries fit in, rebates and other ways to make a difference.

For more information on community batteries, take a look at Ausgrid’s website. You can also sign up there to receive updates on the project.

https://www.ausgrid.com.au/In-your-community/Community-Batteries

 

Can solar panel systems cause rooftop fires? A front page article in the Sydney Morning Herald today suggests there has been an increase in rooftop fires in recent years. Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Graham Kingsland says fires start in the direct current (DC) isolator switch, usually because of water getting in. The cause of rooftop solar fire risk is faulty installation or manufacture.

We asked David Veal, owner of Clean Energy Council-accredited company Solarpro, whether solar panel owners should be worried.

David’s take:

There are two reasons these isolators catch fire. First, water gets through the fitting because it is badly glued or not glued at all. Second, the wiring is not done correctly and left loose, or the polarity has been crossed.

Take a look at these two roof top isolators.
Fire risk DC isolators

The isolator on the left is the cheaper of the two by almost $30. I have put some of the fittings below it. These are screwed and glued into the little glands above them. The cables are then fed into the fittings and manually wired into the isolator. This is fiddly and time-consuming. It is a perfect trap for human error.

All cheap companies use these isolators because they are scrimping and saving every dollar. Plus the contractor pays for the extra time wiring them up. 

Quality costs a little extra and the devil is in the detail!

The isolator on the right is factory pre-wired, so it is guaranteed to be wired correctly and will not leak. At Solarpro we use these as our standard rooftop isolator and have done since they became available in 2014. With pre-wired ones the installers cannot get it wrong.

The conclusion: a badly-installed, cut-price DC isolator could be a rooftop solar fire risk. But if you use an experienced CEC-accredited installation specialist you can rest assured it will be well-installed and of good quality.

Zero Emissions Sydney North runs regular information sessions, via Zoom and in person, hosted by volunteers. We design them to help people make the switch to using renewable energy and rooftop solar.

Our next Solar My House Info Session is on Wednesday, February 24, from 6.30-7.45pm. David from Solarpro will be our expert guest speaker. Attendance is free but places are limited, so sign up here as soon as possible. 

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:

Mosman Council, Northern Beaches Council

Diamond Energy, Solarpro, the Good Car Company

Beyond Zero Emissions, Manly Food Coop, Mosman Chamber of Commerce, Mosman Community Connect, Mosman Community Gardeners, Mosman Environment Group, Mosman IGA, Mosman Parks & Bushland Association, Mosman Rotary, Northern Beaches Climate Action Network, Our Blue Dot, Pioneer Clubhouse, Solar My School, Wingecarribee Net Zero Emissions, Zali Steggall OAM MP, Zero Emissions Byron, Zero Emissions Noosa, Northern Beaches Secondary College, Manly Selective Campus and Mosman Public School

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.

Have a fabulous break and we hope to see you in 2021.

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!

Three Zero Emissions Volunteers
The Sunglasses Team: Louise, Lesley and Fay
Young volunteer Mosman Market
Our youngest volunteer, Theo, demonstrates how to measure household energy consumption.

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.

Small beginnings

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.