the latest in solar energy news

 Australia, Facts, International, Technology  Comments Off on the latest in solar energy news
Jun 212013

Solar panels have gone through somewhat of a craze over the last 5 years. From just 20,000 rooftops in 2008 to more than 1,000,000 rooftops in April 2013, that is an increase of 4,900%. But even with this massive growth, it still only accounts for 1.2% of Australia’s electricity needs. This increase will naturally slow down since NSW has scrapped its overly generous Feed-In-Tarrif scheme.

Still, there are approximately 10% of all houses fitted with the panels according to the Clean Energy Council. This equates to enough electricity being generated by renewable sources during this period to power the equivalent of more than 4 million Australian homes.

Solar Map of Australia

Solar Map of Australia

The price of panels has also been going down, though we could wish they went down as fast as the increase in number of installations. This was due to the price drop from the Chinese manufacturers who flooded the market.

In New South Wales, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) was investigating the controversial solar feed-in tariffs, and are now reviewing submissions in the determination of a fair and reasonable value for electricity generated by small scale PV systems for 2013-2014. According to IPART the fair and reasonable value determined by IPART must not result in any increase in electricity prices in New South Wales, and must not be funded from the New South Wales Government budget.

Energy Matters has calculated that if all 400 of available roofing were to be used for solar panels the amount of energy produced would supply around 135% of Australia’s residential electricity needs. They said this would lead to a decrease in electricity prices – the cost being just 7 cents per KWh. Currently the cost is around 40 cents per KWh (depending on location and provider).

Australia has just one manufacturer of solar panels left – Tindo Solar, based in South Australia.  Although small by world standards – they employ just 16 people – they have capacity to manufacture 200,00 panels a year.

So let us know about your experience with solar panels – are they everything your though they would be?

china to demolish 700 mountains

 General, Green, International  Comments Off on china to demolish 700 mountains
Jun 172013

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, or more precisely prior to its translation “Yu Gong moves the mountains“. So it was said of a peasant named Yu Gong after he struggled to move two mountains that were blocking entrance to his home. 2 mountains – that’s nothing. Now China is planning to flatten 700 mountains and spend  AU$3.6 billion in the process, to be orchestrated by the government of Lanzhou, a provincial capital in China’s arid northwest.

China intends to flatten 700 mountains for new metropolis

China intends to flatten 700 mountains

The development, named the Lanzhou New Area of around 130,000 hectares, will house a new metropolis and in doing so is planning to increase the region’s GDP by AU$44 billion by 2030 according to the China Daily. The development was approved by China’s state council and will be its fifth state-level development zone and the first in its interior.

The first stage of mountain demolition commenced already in October 2012. China’s home grown “Donald Trump” – Yan Jiehe heads one of China’s largest private companies – the Nanjing-based China Pacific Construction Group. He is known as an ultra-ambitious and talented pilot through the country’s “guanxi”, or personal connections. In 2006 the respected Hu Run report named Yan – then worth about AU$1.3 billion – as China’s second-richest man.



This latest plan has received plenty of criticism as the site sits on the Yellow River, threatening more environmental concern and increasing its deadly silt level. Lanzhou is also home to 3.6 million people and they dubiously enjoy what the WHO regards as the worst air pollution in China. We guess metallurgy, chemical and fertilising production will do that. In fact experts have raised concerns about whether the project is environmentally viable. Gansu is an arid province, scoured by sandstorms and surrounded by deserts. The criticisms also includes the lack of water in the area and the financial risk of building a city in a desert – have we heard this before (Las Vegas)? The China Pacific Construction Group naturally dismiss these concerns and promise that their “protective style of development” will make things better than before.

The new area “will lead to an environmentally sustainable economy based on energy-saving industries” including advanced equipment manufacturing, petrochemical industries and modern agriculture, wrote Chinese Central Television on its website.

What do you think – incredible foresight, a waste of money, or needed development in an impoverished area? Let us know below.

Jun 062013

I stumbled over this artist some time ago – he is Robert Rickhoff who seems to be an incredible photo manipulist. Some misplaced items appear where they should not so to draw your attention to the absurd. It appears that this is yet another modern art form gaining in popularity and acceptance and is becoming more pervasive through common photo software.

Caution Sign




Slide Bench


Photo Manipulation by Robert Rickhoff





Let us know what you think below.

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