Thursday, May 20, 2010


I continue my crusade to learn as much as I can to do with permaculture NOW. And I'm not doing too badly. The other night, I sat in a very cold shed at CERES to learn about small scale wind power. I'm assessing how I can power a water pump at my plot or even power a building if I decide to build a house, classroom or storage for my produce.

Was the Australian landscape not covered with windmills at one time, slowly pumping up water?

Prices have dropped substantially for small scale solar power (due to a mix of technology improvements and government subsidies). Not so true for wind power. Quite expensive in comparison, now. Though the government has started cutting the small scale wind power sector some slack: I think they're eligible for the feed-in-tariff now.

A feed-in-tariff means when you connect your renewable energy system to the electricity grid, the energy retailer pays YOU for what electricity you produce. Technically, as Victoria has a net feed-in-tariff not a gross feed-in-tariff, they will pay for what you don't use. Eventually you'll have paid off the system and be earning money from your wind turbine or solar panel.
Not bad.

So I'll go away and ponder my options, weighing up the pros and cons of solar and wind. Or a hybrid. At least wind continues at night. And my plot is in a valley that runs north-south, which tends to be the predominant wind direction. Which makes sense when you're in Melbourne. I listen to the radio for both the temperature and wind direction in summer before deciding if it is really warm or cool: is there a cold southerly or a hot blast of northerly wind?

The tutor is writing a consumer's guide to small scale wind power for Sustainability Victoria, so keep your eye out for it. Very useful. He also recommended "Wind Power:Plan Your Own Wind Power System" published by Alternative Technology Association, for more information on windmills as opposed to wind turbines.

I was wanting to do a workshop on Australian bushfoods, which I plan to use on my plot and even connect with the local indigenous group, and a water wise gardening workshop. Unfortunately, they were both cancelled for lack of numbers. Very sad.
So if you're interested in learning, sign up to CERES workshops (so I can go to the workshops, too).

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