Climate Action 03

Climate action 03 includes saving water with a floating Solar plant, container housing, high speed rail and using “geothermally” assisted heating and cooling in Victoria.

Geits ANZ is proposing a solar power plant which is planned for South Australia would float on a wastewater treatment basin. Spokesperson Felicia Whiting said:

“It’s very much like a traditional solar array with the exception that it’s designed to float on the water,”

“The mass of water has a cooling effect on the panels and we also include a cooling system utilising the water body itself to be able to keep the water panels … at a constant temperature. When that happens, you get a longer life of the photovoltaic panels and you get a greater efficiency.”

The system is designed from a HDP (high-density polyethylene) pipe, which provides the buoyancy..” 

She says having the wastewater covered by a floating plant is expected to reduce water evaporation under the panels by about 90 %. In a dry climate like South Australia that’s about 2.5 metres of water evaporation a year.

2.  How concern about climate change varies between countries

Climate Progress  had this graph on the topic:

CC Poll

3. Container houses

When I googled “shipping container homes Australia” I got 290000 hits.  The concept is attractive because it is often uneconomic to return containers to a point where they can be reused. Containers by their very nature are easy to transport.  In addition, a properly bolted down container would be a good place to be in a class 5 cyclone.

 Standard container interior floor dimensions are 5.71×3.35 m, height 2.39 m.  Gives a footprint of 13.4m2 horizontal or 8m2 vertical. Weight is approx 2200 kg.  Higher, shorter and longer containers are available.

This weeks container house is a cross shaped home made from two containers called  the Skit.  The containers are arranged in a cross with, unsurprisingly, the top room acting as a prayer room. The actual design leaves a lot to be desired but the idea of having one of the containers vertical was interesting.  (More room would be available if the vertical container was at the end of the horizontal container with a garage/entertainment spaces under and/or above the horizontal container.)

I have a vision of quite liveable container houses on 5 metre wide blocks.

The Skit, by Georgia-based Dachi Papuashvili (Image: Dachi Papuashvili)

See here for more images of container homes.

4. Green roof reduces energy bill by 25%

Emilio Fuscaldo at home

However, building a green roof, in this case one that is covered with 200mm of soil that supports grass, ornamental plants and vegetables, is not cheap. Fuscaldo estimates that a conventional roof on his house would have cost around $10,000. His green roof, which is 60 square metres, cost $30,000.  The case for a rooftop garden would be a lot stronger if it is seen as an alternative to buying a larger block to give room for a garden

Fuscaldo’s green roof is ‘a sandwich basically, with lots of layers’.

 ‘There’s a waterproofing layer, which is like wetsuit material, which is very strong and robust,’ he explains. ‘On top of that is a horizontal flat sheet drain [as used under the Melbourne Cricket Ground], which drains the water into our water tank.’

My container house could start to look quite classy combined with a rooftop garden entertainment area.

4. High speed rail

BZE has released its High speed rail report.  Key findings include:

Journey times less than three hours from the centre of Sydney CBD, to the CBD of Melbourne or Brisbane
Both express and stopping trains are proposed for the High Speed Rail network. Express trains will take less than three hours to travel from Sydney to both Melbourne and Brisbane. To travel the full length of the corridor, from Melbourne to Brisbane, will take around 5 hours and 56 minutes.

60% of Australian population within 50km of a High Speed Rail station on proposed network
The proposed High Speed Rail network features a station less than one hour from 12.5 million Australian residents.

Three million fewer domestic passengers at Sydney Airport in 2030 than current levels
With the proposed High Speed Rail network operational in 2030, the reduced air travel demand would require 82 fewer daily aircraft movements than the current average of 850. The need for another airport to service Sydney will be greatly influenced by the proposed High Speed Rail network.

HSR becomes the dominant mode of transport for journeys between 350 and 1,300 kilometres in length
Once high-speed rail is operational it is estimated that it will account for 30% of passenger kilometres travelled. Most of this travel is estimated to be transferred from current air services, and longer car journeys. Journeys shorter than 350 km remain dominated by car travel, whilst those longer than 1,300 km remain mostly on air travel.

$84 billion total estimated construction cost including rolling stock, project management and contingency
Melbourne-Sydney is estimated to cost $40 billion, and Sydney-Brisbane $44 billion. Of this, $18 billion of the total estimated construction cost is required for entering the cities of Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Gold Coast and Brisbane. The economic case would be stronger if Melbourne Sydney was built as an alternative to the Abbott’s second Sydney airport.

High speed rail is attractive because it could provide zero emissions travel.  However, zero emissions travel could also be achieved by flying in planes using low impact renewable fuels.  There is also a question re how “changes to the way we work” may affect inter city travel

 Victorian sports club uses cold/heat from the ground to reduce heating and cooling costs

In an Australian first, AGL Energy has joined with a local Victorian sports club to install the state’s first  geothermal cooling and heating system in a building.

The “GeoAir” facility at the Maroondah Sport’s Club uses the earth’s constant temperature to heat and cool underground pipes.  The emerging technology uses a pump to send refrigerant underground through copper lines in a small well about forty metres deep.

geothermal aglThe crux of the technology is that the refrigerant assumes the same temperature of the surrounding earth; cooler than the air in summer and warmer in winter.

The refrigerant is then pumped back to the surfaces at the desired temperature and most of the cooling or heating has already taken place.

One of the key advantages of this technology is its low environmental impact. With energy derived from converting heat extracted from the earth, emissions are low to zero and no carbon dioxide is released.

Not exactly geothermal and some power is still required.  However,  the gains are real since the energy required to pump heat is proportional to the temperature difference over which the heat is being pumped.

5 thoughts on “Climate Action 03”

  1. I like the ‘green roof’ concept. A remarkable amount of food can be grown in a small area with appropriate cultural techniques. And in addition, if the building happens to be an apartment with a large roof area, a very pleasant recreational area can be created as well. In 2008, I was in Paris and visited the top of the Arch de Triomphe. Close by, there was a largish building of about 4 stories with an extensive landscaped garden on top of it. There was a hard surfaced BBQ area and a lovely area of palm trees. As well, as I averted my gaze from the (to me) traffic chaos around the humongous round-about that surrounds the monument, a chap got a lawnmower out of a garden shed and started mowing the lawn! So it seemed to be real grass rather than synthetic turf!

  2. Len: Sod roofs in places like Scandinavia need to have the vegetation trimmed from time to time. They are also very effective insulators so help keep a house cool in summer or warm in winter.
    The big problem I would have is deciding is how to divide the roof between solar panels, the garden, the edible insect farm and……..

  3. High speed rail looks cheap at the price of $84 billion. A pity about Abbott and public transport. If he went for a project like that he might deserve to be called the ‘infrastructure PM’.

    Re item 2 (concern for climate change) the US is a worry. It would be interesting to know what concern there is in China and India.

  4. It is not just in moving passengers that a high-speed train system would win but in moving compact goods. Economies of scale would be achieved with large numbers of trains using the lines and with 21st century goods module handling – it would supplement rather than displace air cargo (however, I doubt if any knuckle-walkers in the upper echelons of the airline industry would be able to comprehend that).

    The Infrastructure P.M. had better not touch it though – otherwise we mug taxpayers would pay top dollar to have it developed only to have it then flogged off at a give-away price.

  5. Graham: My problem is that my bullshit detector goes on high alert whenever I hear railroad tragics sprouting their latest plan. You may be right that it may make sense to use high speed rail for specialized freight but I doubt that the extra speed will justify much of a premium.

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