My EV journey Continues Part 2 by Michael Nugent

Republished from Bass Coast Post* with permission.

What’s the best thing about owning an EV?

The answers were split between the “feel-good” factor on one hand: knowing you’ve organised your personal transport as best you can to minimise your contribution to the mounting climate crisis; and the “petrol head” answer on the other: it’s a simple fact that as far as acceleration goes, a standard EV beats a standard ICE hands down every time.

Also, not having to pay for petrol ever again rates pretty highly, particularly as petrol price rises make the economics of driving an EV more and more appealing, as did the option of single-pedal driving – Nissan call this the e-pedal, a “way of including a gentle but effective braking effect (regenerative braking) on the accelerator pedal.  You will very rarely need to use the brake pedal (which is why brakes pads last a very long time on EVs)”. 

But it’s not all beer and skittles, so I also asked what is the worst thing about owning an EV? The clear winner again was range anxiety (or range hesitancy or uncertainty). 

“It is important to calculate your day to day driving distance and make sure you buy a car that has twice that range”. The EV tells you the percentage charge you have left in your battery at any given time, and it also converts that into a guestimate of how many kilometres you have to go. But the actual distance you have left depends on a range of factors, as it does with an ICE, like whether you use the heater or the air conditioner, how many people in the car, tyre pressure, whether you are driving on the open road or stop-start, whether the terrain is hilly or flat, the battery’s temperature, etc.

So you are never quite sure exactly how much is left, thus the conventional wisdom of never running down to below about 10 or 15% of the battery’s capacity.  “Having driven the car for over 20,000kms, I’m still watching the Range figure constantly, even though I know I’ll have around 100kms of range left after driving to Melbourne or the Latrobe Valley and back to the Bass Coast”…

Fortunately, we have a several rapid charging options in Bass Coast and the council will soon be installing four more as part of their plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.  But another note of caution: if you will be reliant on a particular rapid charging station for a trip, it can pay to check beforehand that it is in working order (vandalism is a problem at some locations) and that the technology is compatible with your vehicle (it’s VHS versus Betamax all over again when it comes to the plugs – it’s not that hard to work out what you need but it does take a little doing at the start and you don’t want to be relying on a charger that doesn’t work with your particular vehicle).

*Full article here.

My EV journey Continues Part 1 by Michael Nugent

Republished from Bass Coast Post* with permission.

I’d like to share what some of the pioneer EV drivers in Bass Coast say they have discovered about going all-electric, which might help you fill in a few gaps if you are thinking of making the leap. I asked Cassie Wright and Rob Gray (Nissan Leaf), Donald Ellsmore and Cheryl Padgett (Volvo XC40), Werner and Ursula Theinert (Nissan Leaf), and our Mayor, Cr Michael Whelan (Hyundi Kona) about their experiences. This is what I learned.

Jumping straight in the deep end: what’s the most important thing anyone thinking about buying an EV needs to know? The consistent answer was to understand the difference between an EV and an ICE car (internal combustion engine) and remember to do a bit of planning before taking off.  Fuelling an EV is not a simple matter of stopping for a few minutes to buy petrol at one of the zillion petrol stations between where you are and where you want to go. 

​“Whilst it is nice to not have to study the big illuminated fuel price signs at service stations, it was comforting to know they were there when needed during the days of diesel car ownership.” If you’re just going into town and pottering around, which is what most people use their car for most of the time, then making sure you are sufficiently powered up is not hard.  Either use your own, free electricity to charge up at home on a sunny day, or plug in overnight to use off-peak electricity using the EV’s inbuilt timer to turn charging on and off.  You can charge slowly through a normal power point using a portable charger (a heavy duty cable with a box in the middle), or you can install a home charger (a dedicated unit on a wall near where you park your car, inside or outside) to speed up the process.  Either way, it’s not too difficult.

But if you are going on a longer trip, you’ll need to do a bit of planning: how far are you going, how big is your battery (some will make it to Melbourne and back without needing a charge; others not so), how “full” will your battery be when you take off, will you be able to charge up overnight if you are staying away, will you need to use rapid charging stations along the way. If so where are they and how long will you need to stay at each?  Sound hard?  Not really.  There are websites (like www.abetterrouteplanner.com) and phone apps (like www.chargefox.com/) that work much of it out for you, and if you do the same trip a few times (like Melbourne and back) you’ll learn the routine pretty quickly.

*Full article here.

Darren Doesn’t Care Part 2 by Tony Peck

It is actually impossible to plan to ensure a decent future for a community when your government and all its policies were spent denying there is a problem. They spent their time vehemently arguing that we should burn fossil fuels indefinitely. Chester has avoided planning for a decent future by his ‘I’m not as concerned as you’ attitude. To his credit Chester did have a moment where he bravely stood up to extremists in his own party and advocated the acceptance of the dangerously inadequate net zero by 2050 target eventually reluctantly accepted by his government. There are few places in Australia with a better infrastructure for a renewable future with a comprehensive distribution system already in place. However Chester’s government delayed until it belatedly updated legislation to allow offshore wind farms in Australian waters.

His government has long actively thwarted plans for wind, solar and other renewable energy solutions. His government made Australia an International pariah as they acted to delay uptake of renewables. The uncertain future for our regions workers is directly tied to this delay and uncertainty, and to Chester’s own government’s dedication to a fossil fuel future despite the harm this will cause to generations to come. Indeed we are seeing serious impacts already, with intense, widespread fires, frequent intense storms, rain events, floods. Scientists have long predicted these outcomes but Chester’s government has gone against recommended actions at every step.

Chester should acknowledge that as well as the employment of people in the Valley the future of our nation is at risk. We are the 13th largest economy in the world. We also have amongst the highest per capita emissions in the developed world. Our governments have committed us to ongoing mining of fossil fuels and indeed exploration which will feed even more emissions in future. Scientists are predicting that impacts of global heating on Australia will be severe.

This man wasted time when he could make a difference and has left every person not only in Gippsland, but the nation, in a worse place. To now express concern for employees disadvantaged by his government’s inaction is pathetic. There is no justification in delaying the transition to renewables. Those adversely affected by the change must be supported and given a real future as part of addressing the climate emergency. 

*there are a number of critical blogs of Darren’s position on climate. See here and here. The author is a member of EGCAN

Darren Doesn’t Care Part 1 by Tony Peck

Darren Chester* has published a long post on his Facebook page discussing the Integrated System Plan (ISP) recently released by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). Chester’s response includes a summary of the plan, but his focus quite rightly is Gippsland. One of the key points Chester advocates is a delay in closure of the remaining brown coal power stations as they ‘only’ contribute 7.5% of our national electricity grids emissions and Australia only emits 1.5% of global emissions. He justifies this due to his concern for the workers employed in the fossil fuel industry.

Chester’s argument has sparked my anger. I was one of the East Gippsland Climate Action Network members that met with Chester in 2019, not long before the unprecedented fires that engulfed much of the East coast of Australia. Chester’s response to our anxiety about the rate of global heating and his government’s poor response to action was that he was not as concerned as we were. Of course we probably already had low expectations as Chester has consistently and indeed always voted with his government as they have eliminated the price on carbon, eviscerated every policy that was designed to reduce emissions and stymied effective action by states and industry to tackle the global emergency.

So this man, who was an active opponent of change, is berating the lack of care for people in his electorate who will lose work when the power plants close. Where was his planning and care for a transition when he was in power? Where was his foresight in ensuring new industries were in place to ensure a viable future for the region? Where was his support for a just transition from fossil fuel to a renewable energy led future for our region? Where indeed is his care for the people of Australia as they increasingly suffer the devastating effects of climate change. (to be continued)

*there are a number of critical blogs of Darren’s position on climate. See here and here.

100 Phillip Island households to share renewables? by Zoë Geyer

Phillip Island Battery Site (Mondo)

Condensed version first published in the Bass Coast Post

WHAT is the future of renewable energy in the local community? How do we manage the transition to renewables without leaving any of our community behind? These questions are front of mind at Totally Renewable Phillip Island (TRPI) as we start recruiting 100 households on Phillip Island to take part in a 12-month tariff trial using a community battery for virtual storage. Indeed, topical questions of these times, as the Australian Energy Market Operator hit the headlines this month with the unprecedented suspension of the national electricity market.

Back on the Island, the last few months have been busy with great bounds forward in two projects. Both projects are based on Phillip Island and are funded by the Victorian Government under the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s Neighbourhood Battery Initiative. They explore neighbourhood batteries as a vehicle for community energy sharing, increased social equity and access to locally produced renewable energy.

TRPI and the Energy Innovation Co-operative has partnered with Mondo, a service provider in community mini-grids and regional energy, to lead an upcoming tariff trial using the Phillip Island Community Energy Storage System Big Battery at Wimbledon. The project is supported by Bass Coast Shire Council. The 5MW battery is currently under construction off site and will be commissioned later in 2022 at the council-owned Gap Road site near Wimbledon Heights.

The tariff trial will look at locally produced household renewable energy in a community-benefit sharing model for social equity. The participants will be involved in co-designing the trial structure with the project partners.

Who can participate? The trial is open to people with houses on Phillip Island (owners, renters, holiday home-owners), people without solar panels as well as people with solar panels, and people from all walks of life – we’re looking for diversity and to enhance social equity in the community’s access to renewable energy.

Earlier this year TRPI conducted a community survey where over 95 per cent of respondents said YES or MAYBE they would consider donating their excess solar to others in the community to increase social equity. Given the generosity shown by the community to date, we are very interested to see the results of the co-design process and outcomes of the trial.

The Phillip Island Community Energy Storage System (PICESS) will be a permanent installation on the island and will mainly address the need for peak supply during summer and improve the resilience of supply in summer while also being available at other times for other network, market, or community services. This can lead to an improvement in the consistency and reliability of the electricity on the Island. We also plan for this battery to enable new technologies and trials and increase the solar capacity on the island…

TRPI’s vision is for Phillip Island to be carbon neutral and 100 per cent renewable by 2030. These neighbourhood battery initiative projects are stepping stones to a thriving local renewable energy movement. This is an innovative project happening in our shire, with the community actively engaged to have a say in how this model will develop through the region.

Zoë Geyer is co-ordinator of Totally Renewable Phillip Island (TRPI)

10 years of Gippsland Climate Blogging

Your Carbon Footprint by Ray Dahlstrom

The first blog in this column was posted on the 28 November 2012 – nearly ten years ago. The early blogs were mainly part of my political campaigns – running for office and trying to form a ‘climate’ party. This mainly involved letters and press releases to the local media. Gradually news items, opinion pieces including those by guest bloggers, and images, were all added to the mix and by mid-2015 the blog had become a regular twice weekly affair. At 300 to 500 words per blog, I estimate that about 250,000 words have been written in 600 plus blogs.

The aims of blog have not changed. The subject matter has stayed local and restricted to wider Gippsland, and where wider commentary or news has been involved written by local authors. The latter especially applies to book reviews and general comment on climate change. My style has been deliberately folksy and personal where appropriate, accurate, and endeavouring to keep the science as simple as possible. It has attempted to remain positive and hopeful in the long process of combatting the forces of denial and vested interests, although occasionally negative pieces have slipped through, one of which, an early piece on wet bulb temperatures, has had quite a number of readers over the years.

The monthly readership has been between 800-1200 for the last five years with occasional peaks above. My most read blog remains a piece on the CSIRO bushfire predictions in 1987 published before the black summer bushfires took off in Gippsland at over 7000 reads.

Partly due to my workload, and partly relief at having the climate deniers and delayers booted out of Federal government I have decided to reduce the blogs from twice a week to weekly. It will also no longer be as regular with occasional missing weeks, but the struggle goes on. The vested interests, their acolytes and the deniers are still with us, holding positions of power and influence in parliaments, the media and various other organisations; they have not gone away.

The recent election of an ALP government in Canberra seems momentous but in reality it is a small step in the right direction. During World War II Winston Churchill said: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” So, hopefully, it is too with the struggle for real action on the climate emergency.

Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet – a review by Nola Kelly

David Attenborough is known all over the world for his studies of the natural world and amazing documentaries. He has had interest and employment in this area for close to 85 years and shares his observations over that period in this most informative book. The first half of the book is his “witness statement” where he outlines the clear deterioration of the planet as the population increases along with carbon in the atmosphere and biodiversity loss, while the remaining wilderness decreases.

To outline the clearly unsustainable rate at which the planet heads towards a point at which it becomes uninhabitable for humans, David commences his witness statement in 1937 and concludes in 2020. In 1937 the population is 2.3 billion people, atmospheric carbon 280ppm, and the remaining wilderness 66%. In just 83 years to 2020 the population has increased to 7.8 billion, atmospheric carbon to 415ppm, and the remaining wilderness has declined to just 35%. The key factors contributing to the changes are outlined.

David goes on to describe the loss of biodiversity and the critical state of the planet in 2020 where:

* we are cutting down 15 billion trees each year and the world’s rainforests have been reduced by half.

*river systems are degraded, reduced in size and polluted with chemicals, while mangroves disappear.

*nitrates, phosphates, and overgrazing continue to destroy topsoil while fertile land suitable for growing food reduces dramatically each year.

*insects and pollinators decline heavily due to our use of pesticides.

*plastics invade food chains and over 90% of seabirds have plastic fragments in their bodies.

*of all the mammals on the Earth 96% is made up of humans and the animals we raise to eat. Just 4% of mammals are wild animals.

He outlines what lies ahead, which without immediate change does not look pretty.  Then comes his vision for the future which focuses on rewilding the land and the sea, switching to clean energy, planning for peak human, and taking up less space. This would lead us to achieving more balanced lives and making us a species that is more in harmony with the natural world around us.

David concludes by saying “We can yet make amends, manage our impact, change the direction of our development and once again become a species in harmony with nature. All we require is the will. The next few decades represent a final opportunity to build a stable home for ourselves and restore the rich, healthy and wonderful world that we have inherited from our distant ancestors. Our future on the planet, the only place as far as we know where life of any kind exists, is at stake.”

This is not an easy book to read, the truth never is, but it highlights the Climate Emergency that we are currently in and our need to take immediate action. The humans living in this current decade are in a unique place in history and THE FUTURE IS IN OUR HANDS.

*the Author is from Metung

AGL and Loy Yang A’s future

Loy Yang open cut

The big news for the Latrobe Valley has been AGL’s decision not to go ahead with their planned demerger and hiving-off of their coal assets, due to the pressure mounted by the now largest shareholder and software billionaire Mike Cannon-Books. Cannon-Brookes, after having a takeover offer rejected by the AGL board, continued his opposition to the demerger and with his share purchase and getting other large shareholders onside, effectively blocked it. He is now in a position to direct the board along the lines of actions that are compatible with the limiting earth’s warming to the 1.5 degree target of the Paris Climate conference.

This effects Gippsland as AGL are the owners of the Loy Yang A power station and the Loy Yang brown coal mine. The latter provides fuel for both the Loy Yang power stations, covers about 6000 ha, and has a licence to operate until 2065. Recently the AGL board reduced the projected closing date of Loy Yang A from 2048 to 2043. Their website fails to account for the urgency in the climate crisis when stating “Loy Yang is committed to an orderly, respectful, and smooth transition for the Latrobe Valley away from coal-fired power generation” and will give 5 years notice of closure.

Currently Loy Yang A provides about 2 Gigawatts, or 30% of Victoria’s power. Renewables provide about the same and Yallourn and Loy Yang B the rest. 2 Gigawatts is about the size of Star of the South offshore wind, projected to come online in 2028. I have been unable to find out how many people Loy Yang A employs but the smaller “Loy Yang B employs up to 152 full-time staff and another 40 contractors. It is Victoria’s newest and most efficient brown coal-fired power station and can generate approximately 17% of Victoria’s power need”. Sudden closures, even with years notice will have a drastic effect on the Valley.

It is not clear what will eventuate from the Cannon Brooks ‘unofficial’ takeover. Certainly there will be a major expansion of activity in renewable energy – most likely solar and batteries. Planning will be paramount, aiming for a just transition for the workforce, and maximum efficient use of the Valley infrastructure. What is certain is that the closure date of Loy Yang will be brought forward at least to 2035 and possibly a lot earlier.

The ‘Teal’ Strategy

Election Day Kooyong

The astonishing success of the so-called ‘teal’ independents – in reality climate independents – has vindicated the ‘vote climate’ strategy, which I have been advocating for many years. The strategy involves running in ‘safe’ conservative seats and exploiting the ‘preferential’ voting system. To be successful the climate independent must draw a substantial number of votes from the incumbent conservative and reduce their primary vote to well below 50%. Ideally, they should come first or second in the primary vote, which will mean they have also taken a substantial number of primaries off the other parties, and they must then collect almost all of the second preferences of these parties to place them in an absolute two party majority.

My own efforts as a climate independent were puny, admittedly with the much smaller aim of publicising the issue (in which I was moderately successful) and in getting 4% of the vote to get my deposit returned and some funding (which I failed at each attempt). What stands out is that essentially I am a ‘loner’ – mostly I have pursued my economic and political life alone or with a small number of friends – and hardly likely to succeed in elections. A leader is someone who does things first, but also gathers supporters and followers.

The ‘teal’ successes were in urban inner city seats where tertiary educated voters were high, they had prominent, smart, women candidates and pushed policy over party loyalty, often supported by one of the many locally based ‘Voices’ groups. Generally, they had an army of volunteers and many received financial support from Climate 200. By contrast, both Gippsland electorates are large, stretching from the mountains to the sea, with voters correspondingly more dispersed. Only Monash has a ‘Voices’ group and had an independent candidate.

The campaign in Monash by Deb Leonard had some advantages and there was probably some spin-off from the publicity that the city ‘teal’ candidates were getting in the mainstream media. Besides the natural disadvantage of being a spread out electorate, other disadvantages included having a ‘young’ voices group and by comparison, a relatively small number of volunteers, and having the Greens preference against her. As far as I am aware, Deb received no funding from Climate 200. Even so, she managed to receive nearly 11% of the primary vote and came third followed closely by Greens Matt Morgan on just under 10%. The incumbent’s primary vote is now only 35% and the seat of Monash is now definitely marginal.

EV Charging in East Gippsland

The winter edition of Environment Connect has the latest on the roll-out of fast charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs). It noted that “Electric vehicle charging stations are being installed in public carparks across East Gippsland. Council has secured federal and state government funding to install seven fast chargers with the rollout to be completed by June 2023. The aim is to support the uptake of electric vehicles and encourage tourism across our region”. Also importantly it noted that all “electric vehicle charging stations installed by Council will source 100 per cent renewable electricity as part of VECO.”

Stage one has fast chargers being installed in Bairnsdale, Omeo, Orbost and Cann River and Stage two adds Lakes Entrance, Buchan and Mallacoota. The seven chargers will be installed progressively over the next year. Further the Shire is negotiating with private providers to set up further fast chargers Bruthen, Paynesville, Lakes Entrance, and Cann River.

The fast chargers will be 50kW direct current and charge a vehicle within an hour. They will be located in pairs in public car parks. Each charger will have dual plugs – CCS2 and CHAdeMO – that will fit most EVs. “Council has secured federal and state government funding to install seven fast chargers.”

No mention is made in the article of how customers will be charged or whether they will be free as they are in many locations. Using charging from commercial chargers via paypal is still a miniscule amount compared with the current price of petrol. For those not familiar with EVs (most of us?) it should also be noted that they can be trickle charged anywhere there is a 15 amp plug – every caravan park in Australia.