w00t! Solar Thermal in Port Augusta

w00t!

5+ years of campaigning and we finally have some great news. Solar Thermal is going to be build in Port Augusta!

Key Points

  • 150MW CST (Concentrating Solar Thermal) plant.
  • The South Australian state government is buying the power from it at a maximum of $78 per megawatt hour.
  • It’ll be build close to Port Augusta
  • Will cost $650 Million to create
  • Will be build by Solar Reserve
  • Starting construction in 2018, to be completed by 2020.
  • Will have 8-10 hours of storage (so about 10x the storage of the big Tesla battery)

 


Announcements

 

 

Today, we are taking another massive step forward in delivering our plan for reliable, affordable and clean power for all South Australians.

My Government is backing a world-leading renewable energy project – a solar thermal plant in Port Augusta – delivered by SolarReserve.

This 150MW plant, the biggest of its kind in the world, will supply the Government with its electricity needs and provide more competition to the energy market – delivering lower prices to households.

Construction of the $650 million project will begin in 2018, and is estimated to be completed in 2020.

Importantly, this project will deliver more than 700 jobs, with requirements for local workers, supporting our State’s regions.

The Port Augusta story is a shining example of the transition of the South Australian economy.

We’ve seen the closure of a dirty coal-fired power station. We’re now seeing the commissioning of this world-leading renewable energy project.

This shows just how far renewable technologies have come. Renewables have always been cleaner. Renewables are now cheaper. And importantly, renewables are providing certainty and stability to the market.

This, in addition to our State-owned gas plant, and the world’s largest lithium ion battery, will help to make our energy grid more secure.

It’s another key part of our energy plan, delivering South Australian power for South Australians.

 

 

Repower Port Augusta streamed some of the press release live:

BREAKING: Jay Weatherill announces the world's biggest solar thermal power plant to be built in Port Augusta! This is a huge win for our community, South Australia, and the whole country! #solar4ptaugusta

Posted by Repower Port Augusta on Sunday, 13 August 2017

 

The main reason the Repower Pt Augusta campaign exists is because of the group Beyond Zero Emissions.

They created the Stationary Energy plan, explaining how Australia can get to 100% renewables within 10 years. As part of that it explained how Solar Thermal with storage is needed to help counter the variability of wind. It also showed how Pt Augusta is a prime spot, has lots of power lines, is basically at the start of the desert so has lots of sun. As such they created a small publication about the specifics of Pt Augusta

http://bze.org.au/repowering-port-augusta/

The group CLEANSA (who I was actively a part of at the time) helped organise BZE to give presentations in Adelaide and Pt Augusta. This helped setup the Repower Pt Augusta community. AYCC, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition then got on board and especially with the help of Daniel Spencer the Pt Augusta community did a vote between gas and Solar Thermal, they overwhelmingly chose Solar Thermal.

Then came the big Walk for Solar. 100+ people (including myself who filmed most of it) walking from Pt Augusta to Adelaide over the course of 2 weeks, with a massive rally at the end. That was a really epic experience and very bonding. Many of the people involved have gone on to do amazing things.

With community support came political support. A Senate select committee was formed to investigate it. The commercial interest was there from very early on. However at the start Alinta energy was the owner of the Northern power station, the large coal power station that was due to be closed down. This however ended up being closed down early after a fire.

During the 5+ years there was an ever increasing amount of SA’s power being generated from wind, to the point that we were having days almost completely powered by wind, with over 30% of the generation on average.

Alinta had pulled out, the gas power plants weren’t being used much due to the gas contracts being on the International energy market and in September of 2016 there was a massive blackout in Adelaide which rattled everyone. A large Tesla battery was announced as part of the work to help counter such issues. But that’s mainly for stabilising the power with millisecond response times in case of an outage, it isn’t enough to help counter the variable wind and solar to smooth out issues over a larger time frame.

On the 14th of August the SA Government had announced it’s tender for 75% of the government’s long-term power supply. A power purchase agreement with Solar Reserve to supply the next 20 years of power, powered by Solar Thermal with molten salt storage. Success! Nearly 10x the storage of the Tesla battery. SA is on track to become mostly powered by renewables.

There’s a lot LOT more to the story, many actions, events, discussions, politics and technical points which I’ve glossed over.

 

News and Articles

  1. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-14/solar-thermal-power-plant-announcement-for-port-augusta/8804628 – Looks like Solar Reserve is the bidder they went with. Awesome :D
  2. http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/opinion/daniel-spencer-port-augusta-solar-power-plant-sends-a-message-that-renewable-energy-is-the-future/news-story/21166f3efa2a7373749861ca924b30c9 – A great article by Daniel Spencer, one of the most important, continous activists on this campaign.
  3. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sas-big-new-solar-plant-everything-you-need-know-ketan-joshi – Ketan Joshi shows some great stats and info.

 

ZDay presentation – Price of Zero Transition to an RBE

At both the Global ZDay event in Brisbane, Australia the New Zealand ZDay event in Auckland in 2017 and at the Global Zday event in Frankfurt, Germany in 2018 I gave this presentation about the Price of Zero transition to a Natural Law Resource Based Economy.

The slides are based on the presentation given on Sunday the 26th of March 2017 at the New Globe Theatre in Brisbane, Australia as part of the Zeitgeist Movement’s 9th annual ZDay event, but with some tweaks incorporated from the New Zealand presentation, although that was a shorter version.

The presentation video was based on audio which I recorded in a Karaoke bar in rural Vietnam as the original Frankfurt presentation had audio recording issues.

You can view the original Google Slides online or get the PDF version.

Slideshare version

Slides :

Afternoon everyone.

We’ve heard from plenty of speakers over the last day and a half about how screwed our current socio-economic system is.

It’s obvious that this shit’s got to go.

Thankfully there’s a variety of alternative economic systems we can choose from:

True Cost Economics – which values human well-being and the environment.

Steady State Economics – Which helps us live within the carrying capacity of the Earth.

Participatory Economics (Parecon) – Understands that there’s an issue with voting for people to represent you if they are meant to work in their own self interests.

So instead of representative democracy at the core of Parecon those most affected by a decision are the ones with the most influence in the decision.

Then there’s the Natural Law, Resource Based Economy which is based on

the application of the scientific method to social concerns.

access over ownership and

abundance through automation and a systems design approach

As you can see the current best option is to transition towards is an RBE.

If this is a journey then that’s our target.

It’s a combination of science, technology, and a mindset change which helps us reduce scarcity, waste and violence towards zero.


Before going on our journey we need to know where we are.
We are in a fiat based, fractional reserve lending system

With a culture who’s definition of success is how much financial and material wealth, power control and fame you can acquire.

The engine of this system is the cyclical consumption cycle, powered by people earning money and buying things

Due to the way supply and demand works with the priority of profit, and externalities, when you boil it down we currently consider the cost of things based on :

  • Human Labour
  • Property Rights and
  • Perceived Scarcity

We don’t really value human wellbeing, nor the environment.

Knowing the system, we can predict 3 main ways that it can collapse.

The Price of Infinity collapse is really just business as usual

Whereby the issues with Capitalism cause Environmental, Energy and Economic crises and would mean that nearly everything costs so much you can’t afford it.

In short, it’s not good.

The Phoenix Model is the price of infinity, but somehow as the monetary system is collapsing we transition to an RBE, despite there not being any Internet and barely enough food, water and electricity to survive.

This is the transition model I heard being advocated a lot when first joined the Zeitgeist Movement.

I think the thinking behind this is that no one will change to a new system if they are happy where they are.

It’s like being asked to cross a long thin plank to go from the roof of one building to another. It’s dangerous, very few people are going to do that.

As per http://kevinpojezny.com/the-compound-effect-part-2/

However, if the building is on fire you bet your ass you will.
You’ll walk, crawl or do whatever you can to get away from the burning building.

But the trick is to put the plank on the ground and make the trip easy and fun.

There could even be a party at the end which people want to go to.

NB: Photo by Michael Kubler

https://www.dropbox.com/s/992eq11j5hnx824/IMG_7864.JPG?dl=0

That’s why thankfully there’s a third option, the Price of Zero.

The aim is to at least have Food, Water, Electricity, Transport, Education, Entertainment, Health and all the necessities of life for free to everyone on the planet.

But it’s beyond that. The end game is to create such long term abundance there’s no longer a need for money, so we transition away from Capitalism.

So which is the best transition approach?
Well the Price of Zero is obviously the better option as we can :

Start it today and

we are heading towards the end goal.

The Price of Zero is also based on the Buckminster Fuller idea that

You Never Change Things By Fighting The Existing Reality.

To Change Something,

Build a New Model which

Makes the Existing Model Obsolete.

OK.
So you can’t build a global Resource Based Economy instantly. But we can start small and expand.

Like a plant spreading seeds all over the place

we would want at least a dozen or so RBE like sustainable communities

Which can develop into towns, cities and beyond.

Now, not all will succeed, but we can learn from those that fail.

Through systems based thinking plus automation they will be creating an excess of goods and services which can be sold off to the surrounding monetary system for cheaper and cheaper prices whilst also allowing the communities to expand, converting our current system into an RBE over time.

Just like it takes years for a tree to bear fruit it could take 10 or so years to go from a tribe of under 150 people, to a city of tens of thousands and producing a substantial amount of abundance.

I mentioned 150 people in a tribe as it is Dunbar’s number beyond which you can’t really know everyone in the group.
Adding more people means changing from a connected tribe to a large community,

In the process requiring more complex governance structures plus tools for management, trust and the like.

Thus it’s an important milestone.

After the cities get to around 10k or 100k people that’s when we hit a tipping point.

It’s also when we have to start worrying about crossing the chasm.

With the adoption of new disruptive or highly innovative trends, be it social media,LGBT rights or an RBE different stages of the uptake are done by different groups of people.

At the start the RBE concept is being developed by ourselves. The innovators and early adopters.

We can see the potential and are willing to work on making it a reality.

Even if not that many other people share our passion and aren’t ready to join us.

Then there’s the chasm, this is where a lot of ideas and trends die out. They don’t become mainstream if they can’t cross the chasm.

Often what is needed to cross the chasm is a whole new set of branding as a way of attracting the pragmatists.

These are the people who will join the RBE because it provides a tangible benefit, a better life for them than they currently have.

They are likely to be people who have a dream of something they want to do, but are too limited by capitalism.

After the pragmatists join the late majority will often tag along simply because it’s what everyone else is doing,

whilst the laggards are those still trying to use a rotary phone until they no longer work.


Not shown here are the Luddites, those who will actively try to suppress or attack the adoption of a Resource Based Economy.

The luddites are the main reason why we will need to defend our cities, ourselves and the core RBE concepts.

In saying that, we should treat violence like a contagious disease. We don’t want to inflict it or spread it.

There’s some broad structures we can use for the transition.

I would suggest starting with a Decentralised community of like minded geisters. They would be limited to what they can do whilst living within the monetary system.

But could be an initial support network that are donating their time and resources towards helping create a small village that can grow into a sustainable RBE like city.

These initial cities are for trying out new paradigms, such as being created around access abundance and designed to work without the need for fossil fuels nor money.

Being Distributed is the end goal whereby we have all the communities and cities physically linked together, hopefully by Maglev trains.

The communities should have lots of communication from early on so they can learn from each other.

We don’t want to keep making avoidable mistakes.

Note the structure of the movement should be as leaderless or starfish like as possible.

What I mean by that is that if you:

  • Cut head off spider, it can’t control itself, it dies.
  • Cut legs off spider, it can’t get food, it dies.

Many corporations and capitalist systems are spider like in nature, they have a central leader and will attack as if we are the same.

But if you cut the leg off a starfish, it contains everything needed to grow into a new starfish.

That’s the power of leaderless or leader full movements.

When attacked we can spread out and create more communities, fantasia broom style.

Reference :
The Starfish and the Spider – The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organisations 

When creating the RBE like cities they should be adapted to their local environment and resources.

Trying to live in the desert? Build a long thin city in the sand dunes

Living in Bali? You might want to learn from the green school about how to build with bamboo.

You might also want Earthship houses, tiny houses, Venus project style circular cities or massive million people plus buildings.

An important concept during infrastructure design for reducing waste is Access instead of ownership

An example of access over ownership is that not every house needs a vacuum cleaner. You could have one industrial grade long lasting vacuum that is shared among a block or apartment. Now you’ll be using a 20th of the resources.
Apply that thinking on a large scale for everything from kitchens to cars and you have reduced a lot of the resource requirements, allowing more access abundance.

Although in some cases we might be able to retrofit existing cities we will usually want to create new infrastructure which is designed with this mindset from the start.

To implement this all properly you need to use some systems design thinking which works best by zooming out your view on a problem until you see how the whole system works, and how it should actually work.

An example is Litter

The current thinking is around ensuring people put their trash in the bin.

A better option is to have signs saying Please litter here because the packaging is Bio-nutritional and good for the environment.

Supermarkets
When dealing with automation people might ask how for example you would replace checkout chicks at the supermarket. Self-serve checkouts is the current answer but that’s the wrong thinking. Zoom out and you realise what you want is to have Food in your fridge, or things in your cupboards.

Imagine taking some tomatoes out of the fridge, making a meal and by the time you are done a new set has already been picked from the local vertical farm and is already in your fridge.

Now you no longer have a need for supermarkets.

Cradle to Cradle Materials Flow

Just like there’s a water cycle and carbon cycle we should have a materials cycle. Instead of the cradle to grave system used where we throw things away we should be tracking the flow of say steel, titanium, glass and other materials and be creating things to be broken down into their component elements and reused.

Reference
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cradle-to-cradle_design

Mindset Change

It’s not just technical changes, one of the biggest changes is with the mindset.
There will be a much greater focus on Social and community relationships.

Ownership replaced with Responsibility
Another important change is that Instead of money we’ll have to have a culture of responsibility.

Think about it.

you don’t really own an apple.

When you eat an apple you use the life supporting nutrients which then get passed through into the ecosystem.

But, you now have a responsibility to the tree that bore the fruit, the people who helped tend the orchard and the ecosystem that enabled it.

So yes.

The Price of Zero means that Capitalism Collapses, Because there’s no longer a need for money.

But this isn’t the specifics of an actual transition plan, just a broad approach.

RBE Aspiring Communities

The great news is that there’s already at least 6 different RBE aspiring communities, 5 of which are still active.

Koto Coop –  https://kotocoop.org/                                               : Juuso Vilmunen – Will start in Finland

ASIMPAC https://www.facebook.com/ASIMPAC/                       : Léo Caussan – Aiming to run more like a corporation

Ubuntu Planet – One Small Town http://www.onesmalltown.org/ : Michael Tellinger – USA. Been raising funds.

RBE 10k projecthttp://en.rbem.org/wiki/RBE10K                      : Ziggy ( Ezequiel Tolnay ) – Queensland, Australia

Kadagaya –  http://www.kadagaya.org/index.php/en/                    : The most successful, has been running for years in Peru.

Earth Communitieshttps://www.facebook.com/earthcommunities.com.au/ : The failed attempt primarily started by Craig Cowling

There’s going to be a whole lot of different variations. There’s already been some attempts, here’s some of the learnings.

Earth Communities was a decentralised RBE like community started in Adelaide, South Australia.

It failed for a number of reasons:

  1. It tried to grow too quickly and purchased an organics food shop that had some crushing debt.
  2. That was a bad decision done in haste which showed how important it is to find the right balance of speed and quality when working out decision making processes.

I suggest trying to identify decisions which are important and lasting versus small and inconsequential and ensure that the lasting ones are made with quality and consensus (has buy in).

There’s a variety of decision making processes and often the important point isn’t the voting, but the discussions which stress test the options and can sometimes uncover new, better options.

Ideally we’ll use the scientific method to work out what the best decision making processes are for the variety of decisions.

Some examples of different decisions :

  1. Technical decisions with quantifiable metrics
  2. Things with quantitative and qualitative goals,
  3. People and their positions
  4. Ethics, morals and behaviours.

These likely all need to use different decision making processes which will also vary according to the number of people making or being affected by the decision.

Revolving funding model

For the continued creation of new communities we will need some starting resources.

A great method for this is the revolving funding model.

You get people to donate towards the pool of money and resources. This is used to create the first RBE aspiring communities. As those communities develop they pay back the interest free loan, which can be used to kick start new communities and fund larger projects.
I’ve been a part of a group in Australia called CORENA who’s applied this thinking to SolarPV installations and we’ve funded 14 projects so far. If someone put in some money at the start to buy a SolarPV panel then the money from that has have already gone on to fund multiple panels in other projects.

For those that are interested in the idea a crypto currency smart contract could be a great mechanism for orchestrating this.

Of course, the aim is to not need the fund in the future.

Blackbox Thinking

That said, I might be completely wrong about everything.

Failure is OK and expected. Failures provide an opportunity to develop better understandings and mental models.

But, you need to be willing to learn from the mistakes and failures.
The aviation industry is one such org which does that. They have black box flight recorders so that if something goes wrong they can investigate and learn from the problems.

We should learn from them and be open and transparent, recording everything we can. From meetings and decisions to the measurements tracked and outcomes of what was being done.

Whenever there is an issue we can do a 5 whys analysis. Asking why a problem occurred and then you ask why that was allowed to happen and keep asking why until you get to the core problem. You then work on fixes for each level of why.

There’s lots of other techniques, like randomised controlled trials, A/B testing, dealing with the cultural issues of blame, fear of failure.

Learning from failures and near misses is probably the most important part of my talk as I can be wrong about nearly everything else and with the right approach we can discover the best solutions.

This is also the core of what the Zeitgeist Movement advocates.

Check out the NZ Earthsong community for information about how they go about their consensus based decision making process which is great for up to 70 or so people.

We still have a lot we can learn from existing communities.

For example Christie’s Walk, the only sustainable community in a capital city in Australia (Adelaide) found that working on things together helps with conflict resolution so much they haven’t yet needed a formal conflict resolution process.

But when looking at the communities we have to realise that few communities are trying to be RBE like.

That’s why the Brisbane ZM chapter (which also hosted the Global ZDay) has started creating the RBE Aspiration Index. A way of rating the sustainable communities they have been visiting.

Currently the ratings are based upon :

  • Locality,
  • Construction
  • Economy
  • Society

It’s still in it’s infancy but ask me or Zac Syme if you’d like to learn more.

Because you’ll be limited to what the government requirements are, from building codes to use of money and paying of taxes, it will likely help if you can convert the RBE like city’s land into a micro-nation, a block of land that’s considered it’s own country.

There are 12 Micronations in Australia alone and 79 around the world.

Although few are still active or officially recognised as it’s hard to pull off.


The Hutt River Province is one of the most famous micronations in Australia and Sealand is more well known Internationally.

You likely have a number of questions and want every step of the transition explained in great detail. Unfortunately

This is a long journey currently without a good map.

We know the direction to head, but like the Fog of War concept used in computer games, we can only see a few steps ahead of us, not all 100,000 steps.
Thankfully as we walk along we can work out the next few steps ahead of us and in an iterative process make our way towards ->

A far more abundant, inter-connected and sustainable Future…

Thank You.

Other things I could have also mentioned if there was more time :

  • Inertia of decisions and what the first people do. Like a small water trickle turning into the Grand Canyon over time a lot of things are set early on and get harder to change over time.
  • The sheer amount of work needed. Expect something like 15hr days for 8+ years.
  • Likely costs AU$20 Million+ (of current day power purchasing equivalent), e.g as $1/mill yr in interest payments for a proper shot at a decent community and that’ll still be really hard..
  • The Rules for Rulers and how we need to work out what the actual values we want should be and what the structure should look like instead. Would love a deep discussion about this.

Disclaimer and other notes :

Whilst I’ve purchased or taken many of the stock photography used in these slides, there’s still plenty of images that I’ve used which comes from online and I’ve had for such a long time I’ve lost the references to. I’m sorry if I haven’t properly credited your imagery, please let me know if this is the case.

This was a repost from the ZInfo website. But I have kept this version more up to date, so this is now the canonical version.

Fixing SA’s power network

There’s a lot of buzz at the moment about a Twitter conversation between Elon Musk and Mike Cannon-Brookes about fixing South Australia’s power issues.

Elon says he can fix the issue in 100 days by providing 100+MW of battery storage. Mike Cannon-Brookes says he can find the money and deal with the politics.

As a member of both the Repower Pt Augusta alliance and also an avid Entrepreneur I’m torn.

The short of it is that battery storage is a decent but reasonably expensive short term fix, although Solar Thermal is a cheaper better long term option.

Backstory :
I was a part of the group who got Beyond Zero Emissions to come out to SA and helped with the historic meeting where we (well Mark Ogge who was the director of BZE) explained how Australia can get to 100% renewable energy within 10 years using a combination of Solar Thermal and wind power.

Solar Thermal being a large power plant that uses mirrors to concentrate the suns energy at a tower where it heats a molten salt to about 560°C the hot liquid is stored in an insulated tank and when you need power you put the molten salt near water, the water turns to steam and the steam turns turbines, just like a standard coal or gas power plant. What’s great is it’s renewable but also because of the storage it can work at night or ramp up/down do deal with the changes in demand and variable energy supply from wind and solar pv.

This was all many years ago. We did a big Walk for Solar back in 2012 and I filmed most of it. That’s over half a decade ago now that we’ve known that the Nothern power station was going to close down, that the domestic gas contracts were going to be linked to the International energy market and the blackout issues we are seeing today would come about if nothing was done.

5+ years of campaigning. The community is behind the idea and why shouldn’t they be, the creation of Solar Thermal power plant also means the creation of a new manufacturing industry and lots of jobs, plus stable electricity prices as well as stable power.

We wouldn’t be in this mess if even just 2 or so years ago the Government or energy companies took up the call and we’d started building. Solar Reserve and other such solar thermal companies have had people willing to provide the investment for years, but they need a buyer of the energy.
Unfortunately a lack of long term thinking and I suspect some wilful ignorance has lead us to the point that there’s been some very disruptive blackouts.

The entrepreneur in me wants to see Tesla battery storage happen here. even just the chance that Elon might visit SA gives me tingles and I remember walking past Atlassian and going to some startup drinks events in Sydney hoping to see Mike Cannon-Brookes who’s definitely the Aussie Entrepreneurial superstar. But I also recognise that there’s other options here in Australia like Zen Energy or RedFlow which has Simon Hackett behind it and even just the reduced transport would probably make it worth it.

I should note that CORENA, the Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia, of which I’m a board member currently doesn’t fund battery storage, only Solar PV installations and energy efficiency measures as those are what reduce CO2 emissions the most effectively.

Of course any of the battery options is going to be a better short term fix then one suggested option of building yet another Gas plant. South Australia already has enough gas generation to power all of SA but as I mentioned over the last few years the commercial gas contracts have been linked to the International energy market, especially Japan. As such the gas companies find it more profitable to sell the gas to Japan then burn it here and sell the Electricity.

If you follow the scent the gas option has the smell of lobbying from the fossil fuel industry. They are trying to get fracking to happen here in SA so they can sell even more gas, but will destroy large areas of land, especially farmland, in doing so.

To me it comes down to this :

  • We have enough variable wind and solar that we need storage.
  • Solar Thermal is awesome as the price of renewables goes down over time whilst also providing both energy generation and storage.
  • Batteries are a bit of a zero sum game. They help smooth things out, but don’t help us transition to cheaper, renewable energy. They can however be installed fairly fast.
  • Gas is a negative sum game. The prices go up over time as it’s harder to extract finite fossil fuels and the prices wildly fluctuate in the mean time.

This means that batteries could create a great one, two punch when followed up with Solar Thermal.

As a side note there’s another option that could be done with the battery storage. Microgrids. Instead of connecting the 100MW of power to a couple of substations you could setup a shipping container sized setup in each block or so that can have the energy of that block or even suburb connect to it, you’d have storage, but in a distributed way that would allow more community connection. SolarPV owners could be charging their local microgrid which with enough Solar PV could make it self-sufficient. But in our privatised energy market this seems like a pipe dream.

For more information check out :
http://www.repowerportaugusta.org/ – Repower Port Augusta. The campaign to get Solar Thermal built in South Australia.

http://corenafund.org.au/ – CORENA A revolving funding model applied to Solar PV and other renewables and energy efficiency. I’m on the board.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-10/tesla-boss-elon-musk-pledges-to-fix-sas-electricity-woes/8344084 – The first article I read about this.

Disclaimer: These are my own thoughts and are not necessarily representative of the organisations that I’m associated with.

Australia, the prissy boy

Australia is a prissy boy. It’s both sensitive to climate change and vulnerable to it.

Ohh and it just decided to get rid of it’s own bodyguards (despite the pleading of friends), walk into the lair of the mafia gang and call the boss a dickhead.
This prissy boy is in a fantasy land and is about to get the lights punched out of him and it is GOING TO HURT.

At least, that’s my interpretation of this article plus some of the recent events.

 

If the Renew Economy website is down the article is also available here as a PDF.

Rally for Solar – 30th Sept 2012, Adelaide, South Australia

Rally for Solar - 30th Sept 2012, Adelaide, South Australia
Rally for Solar – 30th Sept 2012, Adelaide, South Australia

If you live in South Australia, then I hope to see you at the rally for solar!

The rally is at Rundle Park, which is where the Garden of Unearthly Delights is usually setup.
The rally will be MC’d by Dr Karl, the ABC science guy and it will be some awesome fun!

Myself and nearly 100 other people will have done the Walk for Solar, a 325km, 2 week trek from Port Augusta to Adelaide to be there. I’ve already spent thousands and donated hundreds towards the cause and have helped with a number of trips to Pt Augusta as a part of the Repower Port Augusta campaign.

If we are to have cheaper, cleaner electricity then we need the community support which comes from people like yourself showing that we want Solar Thermal electricity for South Australia.

See you there!

 

Update :
I’ve put some photos from the walk on a Dropbox Gallery (anyone can access and download high res versions) and my Facebook Gallery.

South Australian Energy minister Tom Koutsantonis talking with the walkers for solar
South Australian Energy minister Tom Koutsantonis talking with the walkers for solar


Michael Kubler

Walk for Solar

I’m joining a walk from Port Augusta to Adelaide to promote Solar Thermal. The 300km+ walk will start on the 16th of Sept and take until the 30th. We will arrive in the city on the Sunday hopefully to a large group of supporters with the votes from the community vote which shows that Port Augusta wants to replace their old coal fire power stations (which are being shut down) with Solar Thermal.

Whilst I’ll be putting up $500 myself to support the event and my walk I’m looking for people to donate some money (doesn’t have to be much but most people have been donating $25-$50). My fundraising profile is at http://www.repowerportaugusta.org/michael.kubler

Michael’s fundraising profile

 

Lizard’s Revenge Fever 2012

I have the Lizard’s Revenge camp fever.

Symptoms include but are not limited to :

  • A deep sense of connectedness with the Earth and all life on the planet.
  • An increased caring for the environment
  • A desensitisation to first world problems
  • A strong aversion against politics and blatant profit making
  • A longing to create a better world
  • A loathing of consumerism and wastefull excess
  • A strong urge to hug people and fill them with happiness

Treatment generally consists of a hot shower which can help remove the dirt from under one’s fingernails.

Cure : There is no cure, just a hunger for saving mother nature from the growth for growths sake mentality of humanity. Whilst unfortunately not contagious enough to spread to the whole population, it has been shown that long term contact with infected people may increase your susceptibility…. Note, this is not a bad thing, it is similar to being infected with love.

 

Creepers Advert

Motor Accident Commission-Stop Creeping over the Speed Limit
Motor Accident Commission – Stop Creeping over the Speed Limit

This advert against going a little bit faster has been playing in South Australia for a little while now. I basically never watch TV and yet I’ve seen it my share of times. But is it really effective?

This post isn’t likely to have any good stats, because it isn’t about that it’s about how our society is trying to patch the symptom instead of cure the problem(s).

So the concept of creeping over the speed limit is that it’s then harder to stop and if you were going to only just hit someone when driving your car and barely give them a bruise because you have been doing 5-10kms faster than the sign posted speed limit you are now going to break their leg or snap their neck or kill the baby they were carrying. Scary stuff.

But the advert doesn’t seem to work to me. It doesn’t work because the campaign just asks people to stop and tries to associate it with creepiness. I can almost imagine a room full of marketers being told that the latest crash figures indicate that the current biggest issue is people going a little bit faster, they were then given 3mins to come up with a campaign and the person who could talk the most passionately won.

But what was needed is to work out WHY people are creeping over the speed limit and how to solve the problem at the core, not to just add more social fear and pressure and try to scare people.

Here’s some reasons why I myself have creeped over the speedlimit or I think others might :

  1. You are running late.
  2. You are going down a hill and the car naturally speeds up.
  3. You don’t know what the speed limit is. Which is especially bad when there’s no other cars around and you are driving somewhere new to you.
  4. The traffic is bad.
  5. The other cars around you are creeping over the speed limit and you are just following them (herd mentality).
  6. It is safer or easier to briefly speed up (e.g to make room for the bus which wants to cross 3 lanes of traffic).
  7. The music is blaring and making your heart race and maybe even causing your to adrenaline pump.
  8. You are distracted e.g by a phone
  9. You are distracted e.g rubber necking. Although most people slow down to perve on the girls, they might not notice the traffic lights and that they should be stopping.

 

So, looking at the above suggestions which are off the top of my head so probably somewhat inaccurate and very likely to be missing a whole heap of other reasons, lets target a couple of the reasons and work out how we would tackle them.

Running Late : This is usually a time management skill. You could probably subsidise the cost of smart phones with a calendar built-in and provide training on how to configure and use it properly and you would probably stop some of the lateness issues. The rest of people, like myself would probably need to go to some subsidised courses on time management. This would probably have a great net economic productivity increase and would be worth doing anyway, but YMMV.

 

Going Down a Hill : This is a law of physics, deal with it. Put up some signs along the footpath letting pedestrians know of the danger, although most who live near the bottom of a hill will likely know the problems. I shouldn’t need to say but putting a busy intersection at the bottom of a steep hill is probably a bad idea, what if someone’s brakes fail on the way down?
The other issue is speed cameras. Here in South Australia at least they don’t seem to put speed cameras where it is DANGEROUS to speed, instead they put them were you are LIKELY to speed. Two mostly different places, but the government gets a nice bundle of money through speeding fines so the bean counters are going to set higher and higher targets that the police have to reach. To get that many speeding fines in less and less time where are they going to have to spend their time? Certainly not where it does the public any good, but where it fills the coffers. NB : Please correct me if I’m wrong, I’d love to see some decent stats and analysis of this.


You Don’t Know what the Speed Limit Is
 :  A number of years ago the state government changed the default speed limit from 60km/hr to 50km/hr. The idea is that people will be travelling slower so there will be less speeding. I’d love to see some stats to see if this made an improvement that was worth the investment. Those people who do 80km/hr in the suburbs are going to do that no matter what the speed limit is. Like DRM and excessive computer game/application protection the main people it hurts is the general consumer (or in this case, driver).
But one of the biggest issues for me is trying to determine what the speed limit is. Most main roads are 60km/hr but aren’t sign posted with the speed very well and I can easily turn a corner onto a road which feels even safer but I forget is actually 50km/hr but there’s rarely any 50km/hr signs. However as you get into the city they sign post the change from 60km/hr to 50km/hr.

Here’s how I would have done it to save all the confusion :

One way = 40km/hr

1 lane = 50km/hr

2 lanes = 60km/hr

3 lanes = 70km/hr

This makes it much much easier to determine what the speed limit should be. If there is a single lane for your way of traffic and a lane on the right for traffic going the other way then that’s 1 lane (one lane for you) and you can go 50km/hr.
When you look at it, 90% of the speed changes and signs follow this basic principle and it is very easy to sign post the changes when this isn’t the case. e.g when it’s 2 lanes but on the highway and you can do 110km/hr.

50km/hr
50km/hr

The Traffic is Bad : If you go through bumper to bumper traffic because of bad traffic signals which prioritise an empty lane then you are probably going to speed when you get to the other side to make up the time. You’ll also be incredibly frustrated. You left home when you should have, Google Maps told you how long it expected to take but instead of being 2mins early you are now going to be 15mins late. *RAGE*
One great option to help with this could be to get more data about traffic. Most people have a smart phone in their car. A phone capable of tracking your position and speed using GPS (and other location services), capable of transmitting to servers online and those servers could aggregate the data and help the traffic services tweak the light sequences and also let your route be adjusted as you are driving to bypass the bottlenecks. Also, EVERY bus should have such a system which lets you track their position whilst they are on-route so I know if the bus is going to leave in 3mins or is broken down and the next bus is 45mins away.

 

Other Cars : I’m not sure what to do about this, but I do know of studies where peer pressure can cause this to happen, but if just one other person shows the correct answer then you are much more likely to also do the correct thing. But it could also be that you just aren’t paying too much attention to your speed and are thinking of other things, that’s what usually happens to me.

 

Safer to speed up : Changing lanes can be dangerous, especially if you need to either change lanes to go around a parked car or slam on the breaks. Imagine this scenario, which happens quite a lot for me. You are driving along on the right hand lane (this is Australia so we drive on the left side of the road). There is is plenty of space in front of you (e.g 4 car lengths), to your left and a little behind you is a car who’s front bumper bar is about level with your rear wheels. About 0.9 car lengths behind you (in your lane) is another car.
The car on your left is in a pickle, it turns out there’s a car parked in his lane and he starts indicating right. He now either has to shove his foot on the break, or you can speed up slightly and the car behind you can slow down a tiny bit and he can nicely slot in.
Note : Because of the other cars which will also have to merge from the left lane into the right the car behind you can’t slow down too much to get the most efficient traffic flow. This is probably something that should be taught when you get your drivers license, but I don’t think it ever will because the thought of letting people go above the speed limit for any reason seems too scary for the powers that be.

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Got any other ideas/solutions? Comment below!

4 Paradigm Changes

There’s 4 main things that I’d like to help usher paradigm changes in :

  • Entertainment – Using the Multipath, interactive online video concept.
  • Education – Using a combination of the flipped classroom model and child-driven self education.
  • Energy – From centralised Fossil Fuels, to decentralised renewables (although I’m helping push some large scale centralised renewable projects as a transition).
  • Economics – From our current Capitalist monetary system to the Resource Based Economy model, which is based on science, sustainability and automation.

Michael Kubler
Michael Kubler

They are all somewhat linked. The energy change requires a change in Economics because the price of renewable energy goes down over time, which directly affects the GDP of the country and also removes power from the oil monopolies. To change Energy and Economics you need to change the education and culture (entertainment).

The reason I came to these aims is because I realised I didn’t have a good enough direction in life, I knew that my long term aim is that I want to be remembered for my contributions to humanity and the environment, but I didn’t have enough details on how or what specific contributions. The 4 paradigms are ones that I’m passionate about and feel that I can actually help with, using the skills I have and the knowledge that I am often seeking.

I will also be making sure that if I do something I will  do it smart and with passion and purpose.

The paradigm changes may occur with 10 years, with my life time, or might take a few generations to occur, but given my understanding of current trends, these are things which need to occur, but certainly aren’t the only changes.

I’m not interesting in getting rich (unless that is an unfortunate requirement to making some of the changes required), my passion is around making the world a better place for everyone.
I want to see a world where we can provide food, water, electricity, transport, entertainment, education and all the necessities of life, for free to everyone on the planet.

Update : I’m 108% busy

In the theme of openness and transparency and just generally updating my blog :

  • I’m currently working 9-5 at the Adelaide Festival and the very busy Festival period is starting.
  • I’m developing a web platform for an education startup called Teacher Time.
  • I’m the founder of the South Australian Zeitgeist Movement chapter and would like more time to help organise ZDay and work on a presentation for it (but send an amazing amount of thanks to Kari and David for doing most of the work so far!)
  • I’m an active member of Occupy Adelaide and pretty much run the website.
  • I have recently started helping the Climate Emergency Action Network of South Australia (CLEANSA) run a campaign to convert some coal fired power stations to Concentrating Solar Thermal, which would be the first installed in Australia. An amazing opportunity. I’ll also need to help fix their website.
  • I occasionally do photography and a little film work for a local non-profit news media outfit called Our World Today which is helping re-define journalism.
  • As such I’m pretty much running at 108% capacity, at least until the 18th of March.
  • I’m also in about $9,500 Credit Card debt as I tried getting Films on the Fly off the ground last year and went to Sydney for about 10 weeks. Unfortunately I’m a social programmer, I need to bounce ideas off people and by the time I built the networks which could help me I ended up running out of money (hence the debt).
  • I worked at 2moro mobile when I got back to Adelaide. Was doing web development and Linux system admin, but they unexpectedly got liquidated and I lost $4k in wages I was owed.
  • My general aim for the future is to get out of debt, and when there is enough traction with Teacher Time (and hopefully some investment), go work full time with Michael Imsteph, Jesse Black, Silvio and the others on a full time basis to help scale the service up and out and add new features and pivot and everything else required.