An electric car may be more affordable than you think. Two events coming up in April offer the chance to find out more about affordable electric vehicles.
First, come to EV Me Now!, a free webinar presented by renew.org next Monday 12 April at 7pm. Clive Attwater, Vice-President of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association, will give an update on EVs in Australia. Then Anthony Broese van Groenou, co-founder of the Good Car Co, talks about affordable electric vehicles and bulk buys.
Second, Tesla Chatswood hosts an exclusive event for members and friends of Zero Emissions Sydney North on Tuesday 20 April, from 6 pm to 7 pm. The Tesla is the world’s favourite electric vehicle. Attend the free webinar then book your test drive.
Read more about electric cars, bikes and other clean alternatives here. The Zero Emissions Sydney North includes many EV owners and they are always happy to show off their vehicles. You can meet them at Mosman Markets on the first Saturday of the month. Have a crawl around a Nissan Leaf, a Tesla and a Hyundai Kona, plus check out the latest in affordable electric transport, the scooter! If you have a motorbike licence you can take it for a test drive. Otherwise, you can try out the electric bikes on display. See you soon!
Last Saturday we had electric cars, an electric motorbike, electric bicycles and electric scooters on display. Some were available to test drive as well (although only for those with a licence, sorry).
This Wednesday 17 February representatives from every school in Mosman come together to attend the inaugural meeting of the Zero Emission Schools Network – Mosman. The aim: to take action on sustainability. The Mayor of Mosman, Councillor Carolyn Corrigan, will launch this exciting initiative to help schools establish sustainability programs.
The aim, says Zero Emissions Schools leader, Jenni Hagland, is to motivate each other by sharing ideas and promoting best practice. Most importantly, the initiative aims to develop more schools sustainability action for communities and bring about broader awareness regarding the climate crisis.
Mayor Corrigan – Mosman Council Mayor, Loani Tierney – Environment Education Officer, Jenni – Zero Emissions Schools Network leader, and Ursula Hogben – Zero Emissions Sydney North Co-Founder, will be at the launch, along with all of the Mosman LGA schools.
Find out more
Watch this space to hear how the meeting goes and how the plans unfold. Meanwhile, you might want to visit Australian Parents for Climate Action. This national group campaigns for funding for solar on schools and childcare centres.
Harriet here, aka firstname.lastname@example.org. Do you want to volunteer for Zero Emissions? I’ll be setting up a jobs page on this website as soon as I get the time but, for now, a quick blogpost about some specific roles we’re looking to fill in our brilliant Zero Emissions Sydney North community.
I wish, I wish for…
1. Tent wrangler
What: Packing up our market stall and driving the kit to local storage.
How long: 1 hour
How often: Once a month
On the first Saturday of each month we have a stall at Mosman markets. We pack up around 2.30pm, and we are looking for someone to help. Ideally, you are handy, fit, don’t swear too much, and have the use of a car so that you can help our volunteers dismantle the tent, pack up the bits and pieces and drive them to our storage spot round the corner in Mosman.
What: Curate our instagram account with fun pictures, sassy comments and links to our events / programs
How long: A few minutes a day and a fortnightly meeting on zoom
How often: 4 or 5 times a week
Social media is central to how we keep in touch, network and promote our activities, and at the moment we use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Our brilliant insta curator, Camilla Tilly, has gone to Sweden to work with the groundbreaking agricultural cooperative Lantmannen. It’s a tough act to follow, but if you take good photos, want to make a difference, and don’t mind checking in with our comms manager (me) once a fortnight, please get in touch.
What: create video case studies to bring our solar stories to life
How long: Not gunna lie, I know this is very time-consuming. Every bit helps.
How often: completely up to you
Video case studies are incredibly useful for articulating how adding solar to your roof makes sense. We have some budget to pay for video services, but not nearly enough to create the five videos clips we are aiming in 2021. This is a big ask, but it also makes a big impact.
What: help out program leaders when they’re overwhelmed. Might be making cups of tea or picking up printing or sending some emails or walking a dog…
How long: how long is a piece of string?
How often: up to you, but a couple of hours a month would be great
If you’re between jobs, between uni studies, or just have a bit of time now and then and are happy to put your hand to anything, we’d love to hear from you. Volunteer with Zero Emissions.
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.
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.
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.
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 Sessionis 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.
Some things are hard to talk about. But that’s no reason to stay silent. That’s where Climate for Change comes in.
Climate for Change is the only organisation in Australia specifically focused on helping people to have better discussions with their peers on climate change. Social research now recognises this as key to building public support for the action we need.
C4C has identified Northern Sydney as an area which could have significant impact on public sentiment, so it is focussing efforts here early this year to test potential for growth.
C4C is inviting residents of Northern Sydney to host a Conversation or train as a facilitator. They held an information session last Saturday, 30 January. To catch their next one, subscribe to their newsletter.
This is a real opportunity to help build the climate movement in the North Sydney electorate. We can increase constituent pressure on our elected representatives, and help build the political will to act at scale and speed.
From a C4C participant:
I felt like I was taking a huge career risk, but it’s had a hugely positive effect on my career. Very senior people now know who I am and see me as a major thought leader within our organisation.
The C4C results are impressive: for every 10 people who attend a Climate Conversation, 7 change at least one behaviour. 8 talk more frequently about climate change with people around them and 3 divest. 2 change power companies, 4 make changes to their lives, such as eating less meat, and 5 contact politicians more frequently. Plus 5 increase their volunteering and donations to climate organisations.
Subscribe to their newsletter or explore their website to find out more. And look out for more news from us on how we are partnering with great organisations like C4C.
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.
When I drop by to talk about sustainability trends in real estate, the answers are clear. From the street, Matt and Georgi Bates’ house looks much like its neighbours: a weatherboard cottage with a picket fence and a bullnose verandah. But walk out the back and it’s all happening. There’s a new garage going up on the back boundary, complete with solar panels to heat the new pool. There’s an electric car charger, batteries and a green wall, ready to plant.
“We’re pretty much off the grid,” says Matt. “The oven’s running off the battery and we’re feeding to the grid. We have about 6kW [of panels] on the roof, providing about 5.5kW per hour. We realistically only need about 3kW per hour for our charging and usage.
“We’ve got a Tesla [car]. We’re putting in a pool. That’s going to have heating costs, but we’re not going to run it on gas. We’re putting more solar and another battery on. We will run it on the sun and the battery.”
Matt and Georgi’s top TV tips: Ewen McGregor’s Long Way Up, a rollicking adventure through South America on *electric* Harley-Davidsons!
A self-confessed sustainability nerd, Matt has driven the research and design of their renovation. Georgi, meanwhile, has driven the Tesla.
“I’m not a car person. But particularly during Covid, working from home, the Tesla is another office, another workspace. I recently got into a petrol car and it felt like a dinosaur. It was a nice car, but it’s amazing the difference of the sound and fuel compared to battery operated.”
Beyond their own home, Georgi is seeing interest in solar power, sustainable building and energy efficient housing growing.
“It starts with someone [putting on solar] in the street then everyone is curious. They all speak to Matt and ask about the benefits. And I’m starting to see more of a shift with people wanting to put green gardens on their garage roofs, or looking into rooftop gardens.”
New energy rating scheme
This trend is set to strengthen with recent developments in the building codes. At the moment the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme – aka NatHERS — requires new houses to score at least 6 out of 10 for energy efficiency. In 2021, NatHERS is set to be extended to existing homes, so that when you buy or sell, just like household appliances, each property will come with an energy efficiency star rating. At which point it’s not just about saving money on a power bill: it directly affects the value of your house. So Matt and Georgi are not just champions for sustainability: they’re smart investors. Does solar increase the value of my house? Yes.
“I think sustainability is the future of real estate. It will become one of the must haves.”
Georgi Bates is a partner at Cunninghams Real Estate. Whether you are looking to buy or sell, or just to find out more about the market, she’s happy to hear from you. And if you want to find out more about rooftop solar, explore our website or come to one of our free webinars.
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.