Sunday, 24 May 2009

WAITATI ENERGY PROJECT (column)

WAITATI ENERGY PROJECT

by Scott Willis

Photos: Geog380 students and Alice Bowden, MA student, at the proposed
test site (testing the wind velocity). Photo by Scott Willis.

Nick Cullen, with Geog380 students and Alice Bowden, constructing the
wind tower/weather station, and a fence to protect it from cattle and
goats, on Graeme and Marie Bennett's land, on the 21st of May (photo
supplied by Carl Scott of the WEP).

Renewable Generation is the theme this month, along with the wild
weather welcoming winter in, and energy efficiency through
retrofitting making its benefits felt.

On Thursday 21 May a small group took advantage of a
pause in the snowy deluge to put up the first weather tower. Nicolas
Cullen, from the University of Otago Geography Dept and his intrepid
GEOG380 students, (and Alice Bowden, a Master's student), were
supported by the WEP's Carl Scott. The site is on Marie and Graeme
Bennett's land, and wind, solar and temperature measurements will be
recorded for a year, with the information analysed firstly by the
GEOG380 students and then by Alice to develop a model for renewable
generation, and to appraise the suitability of the site for a wind
turbine. The second test site is still waiting for its wind monitor.

On the same day, Chris Young and I had a meeting with Terry Jones and
Lloyd Williamson of PowerNet, with an eye to working together to use
transmission lines to feed into the grid or distribute locally
generated electricity. We came away from that meeting fully charged
with enthusiasm.

We have a great deal of support for our community Micro-Hydro
generation model from the University of Otago and the
College of Engineering, University of Canterbury, with the DCC
holding the key and discussions with local landowners on the agenda.
Of all the generation projects, this is the on Scott Willise (with one
or two more
ingredients) that we could put a clear timeline on.

Generating is one thing, distributing it is another. Lindsay Graeme in
the Renewable Generation team is working on a model of a local
integrated grid, with each house having an import/export meter and an
inverter, and households charged for the energy they use and credited
for the energy they feed back. This is a variant of the
bulk-purchasing model proposed by Jeanette Fitzsimons at last year's
energy forum, and is actually quite technically simple, according to PowerNet.

Rhe new turbine, called 'Thin-air', at Hagen and Sabina's property is
working well, and it is a delight to see the asymmetrical whoop whoop
of the single blade from afar. We're aiming to log all this
fascinating story in time.

Retrofit Rollout

On 22 May around 210 homes had been scoped and insulation
retrofit measures installed on 115 of them. The WEP Retrofit Rollout
will end by 30 June, so the pace will increase throughout
the month. A local team of retrofitters is now on the EnergySmart
staff, so look out for Digby, Gerry and Tom if your house is being
retrofitted. Aotea Electrical Southern are now also contracted to
deliver some retrofits, to make sure we get as many done as possible
by the cut-off date, and it is great to have them on board. In terms
of green job creation, the WEP Retrofit Rollout example has been very
worthwhile, with about 30 new staff employed at EnergySmart.

If the informal reports coming back are any indication, the rollout
has been a huge success and WEP will be preparing a report for the
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority on our experience and
encouraging its continuation. By the time you read this, the Budget
will be out and rumours are circulating that the Greens have worked
with National to boost funding for insulation ('Green Jobs'). So don't
give up if somehow you missed hearing about it, or just missed out.
We'll be trying for more.

In other news, in May I gave two presentations on the WEP at the
University: a Geography Seminar and a lecture to Geography216
students. Rosemary Penwarden prepared for the WEP a thorough
submission to the Otago Regional Council (Transport Strategy) on
Transport, viewable at our website. Another meeting of the Otago
Energy Research Centre/Waitati community liaison group in anticipated
in coming weeks, date to be confirmed, and I'll be talking some more
about the WEP at the Dunedin Pecha Kucha 2 event on Wednesday 10th
June (doors open at 7.30pm, start 8.20pm) at the Otago Polytechnic.

Details at: http://www.pechakucha.co.nz/, or from Paul Smith, Dunedin
Fringe Director.

Please get in touch with the WEP at this address:
waitatienergy@gmail.com, visit the web-page:
http://www.transitiontowns.org.nz/waitati , or come to theWEP
events/meetings, advertised by subscription to the WEP list and on
the main notice board when in the hall, or call Scott Willis, 482 2048.

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