Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Turning the unused light off

Australia could produce all its electricity from solar power, and from what I understand, at not much extra or  cost, certainly in the medium term. We have the centre of our country almost empty and the sun shines a lot. It is a perfect place for solar panels. Vested interests in coal from power and gas miners prevent this happening and I suspect now there are even vested interests in wind farms that would not be happy about mass solar power. If we must, we can have wind, wave, methane from decomposing rubbish to supplement the solar. Now don't tell me that a combination of all won't supply base load power always.

Water; we can desalinate water using solar power for little cost. Once again, kiddies will be able to run under garden sprinklers on a hot day and our grass will be green. The only negatives I see with desalination is that it is power hungry, addressed by solar power, and brine outlets not dispersing the brine widely enough which could be easily fixed for some extra dollars. Full environmental flows for rivers is quite possible.

Gas for heating and cooking; the supply will see out your grandchildren and there seems to be no harm in taking gas from our gas fields. 

Recycling; There is nothing that can't be recycled. Our governments need to organise it much better and we throw out so much that could be reused, if not by ourselves, by others. Third world countries do recycling better, sadly because of poverty, and it is not done safely.

Freight; it is absurd that we move freight by trucks on roads between our major cities when we have rail lines between them.

Transport of the public; I drive my car to work as mega messy things happen if I am not at work on time. I could get a tram direct to work, but I don't as the service is not reliable enough. I could catch earlier trams to be sure, both ways, twice a day, adding an hour plus to my working day. No, and I live in a very good public transport oriented area, which we use all the time, but not when we have to be somewhere at a certain time. Our public transport needs to be more efficient and reliable.

Airport rail line; there aren't too many first world cities the size of Melbourne that don't have a rail line to their major international airport. While we don't want to waste money, and so it should be efficiently managed, who cares if it makes a loss. It is a service to the public.

Medical care; We need to pay more tax to pay for it. I would quite happily pay the equivalent of my private health insurance in extra tax, as long as I knew the money was not being wasted, just so that our medical system works for all. Think how much money is spent on private health insurance in Australia and how much money there would be be for medical care if that money was directed to public health. Mind though. I have quite a strong feeling that way too much money is being spent in health bureaucracy, in fact many bureaucracies.

How to pay for all of the above? The government borrows the money at a low rate of interest, which it can because it is the government, and invests money in our future and the future of subsequent generations.


  1. One of those soap boxes mornings?

    1. Michael, just my plan for when I rule the world.

  2. Yes, yes yes yes yes to everything :)

    1. If business leaders or politicians read the above, they would be saying, he doesn't understand the economics of it. I don't and I don't have to. What I can see is the bleeding obvious.

  3. Agreed 100%. Any large country with a ton of sunshine, wind or ocean currents would be insane not to set up massive power projects using these naturally occurring events. Digging up and burning coal, or worse uranium, is expensive, filthy and bound to run out.

    Citizens should pressure federal, state and local governments to get off their royal behinds, but in the interim, we can all put solar panels on our roofs. We can certainly recycle everything that comes out of our households.

    Re using methane from decomposing rubbish, I would start with what is under our adolescent sons' beds.

    1. Hels, a friend has had solar panels installed and while the figures don't make sense to me, it is incredible how much his system generates. Haha, at under sons' beds. Good argument for closed under be space.

  4. Hmmm, two interesting words those, "vested" and "interests".

    How many times a year do governments announce that in future, developers will have to provide infrastructure or pay an infrastructure levy when they develop? How often does all the hot air pay off? Perhaps we could do more with the hot air?

    Hels, we could all use solar panels, unless our houses are heritage listed or subject to some other such regulation.

    Would we need to pay more tax to look after priorities, or would it be enough for us to reassess our priorities putting the most socially beneficial and cost effective items before others which are not so cost-effective?
    One of the biggest wastes health wise is the so called "elective" surgery waiting list. Five years on Centrelink payments while waiting for elective surgery, or one year recovering and four years as a wage-earning taxpayer?

    You don't have to understand the economics of it. A leader's job is to lead, and delegate the how to someone behind the leader's vision.

    How does a politician become a leader or viceversa? The last "leader" I recall seeing was sacked in 75. Instead, our parties are headed by people who serve an apprenticeship from uni until they are much older, and able to muster numbers in a party-room, or toe the line so they don't get pushed down a preference list [Bonner, Wong, Crossin]. They become masters of politics, not visionaries.

    I'll vote for you.

    1. FC, at the end of the day, the levy will be paid by the home owners on new estates. I have thought through to it being a problem, but I've not come up with thoughts.

      'One of the biggest wastes health wise is the so called "elective" surgery waiting list. Five years on Centrelink payments while waiting for elective surgery, or one year recovering and four years as a wage-earning taxpayer?' There are many examples of false economy like this. Think of young people with rotting teeth who can't get them fixed and make them employable.

      Allow me to say something positive about politicians. They are quite good at politics.

  5. Yes to all points listed. Yes and yes again. I catch earlier buses to get to work on time, leaving home a full two hours before I need to be there, just in case there are holdups along the way.
    I REALLY miss having a gas stove.
    @FruitCake; from what I've heard, heritage listed houses are allowed solar panels as long as they are not visible form the street, in some cases this would mean putting them on the shady side which is just ridiculous. councils need to reconsider this as the panels are not changing the house structure in any way, not even the roof, they just sit on it.

    1. River, my mother had a gas stove years ago and hated it and is very happy with her electric hotplates. I find you have to think too far in advance when you have electric hotplates but she is used to them and twiddles the heat dials as we turn gas up or down.

      I don't want to see heritage houses with solar panels facing the street. It is all about streetscapes. Already if you live in a heritage house, you are probably paying a lot in council rates and upkeep of the house etc. I plan to write a post on our friend's solar panels. He generates more than he uses, so how about those in heritage houses contribute towards other people's solar panels and get an appropriate power bill discount?

  6. Hi Andrew

    You're elected! Now your task is to wake everyone else up.

    From decades ago and many holidays in the Greek Islands, I kept noticing that there were whole towns where every house and business had solar panels. The rest of the world is onto this already.

    However, when I was working in local government in regional Victoria just last year I attempted to convey the fact that there is such a thing as a 'solar power station' and was nearly burnt as a witch.

    In Australia, we do have a couple of small solar plants in development in this country of perpetual sun. Who knows about them?

    What we don't have is a national will to live decently and sustainably - and by that I mean to not expect to take more than we give. We may have it individually, but not collectively - and that's where it counts for future generations.

    Good luck with your quest.



    1. Wise words Pants. I recently listened to a balanced podcast about solar power in Germany, which for a country that receives snow, has quite a good record. The anti Germany solar argument just did not seem to stand up. The only argument they could muster was about money, and it was quite insignificant.

      I am not a public speaker type, but I can imagine a speech, Fellow Men and Women of Australia, I have a plan to address our unsustainable life style... And you know what, I think Australian people would go for it, even the office staff at Larrikans End.