Institute for Sustainable Futures

Sydney, Australia

Institute for Sustainable Futures

Sydney, Australia
Time filter
Source Type

News Article | August 22, 2016

The new Global Wind Energy Outlook 2016 (GWEO) presents three visions of the future of the global wind energy industry out to 2020, 2030 and up to 2050. The scenarios compare the International Energy Agency’s central scenario from its World Energy Outlook with a Moderate and Advanced scenario developed especially for this report, detailing how the global wind industry might deliver in terms of global electricity supply, CO2 emission savings, employment, cost reductions, and investment. The Global Wind Energy Outlook will be published in October 2016. What you will learn: Steve Sawyer, has worked in the energy and environment field since 1978, with a particular focus on climate change and renewable energy since 1988. He spent many years working for Greenpeace International, representing the organization at intergovernmental and industry fora primarily on energy and climate issues. At GWEC he is focused on working with intergovernmental organisations such as the UNFCCC, IPCC, IRENA, IEA, IFC and ADB to ensure that wind power takes its rightful place in the energy options for the future; and with opening up new markets for the industry worldwide. Dr Sven Teske is a Research Principle at the Institute for Sustainable Futures. Dr Teske has 20 years experience in technical analysis of renewable energy systems and market integration concept. He has published over 50 special reports about renewable energies like the “Global Wind Energy Outlook” and “Solar Generation”. Dr Teske was the Renewable Energy Director at Greenpeace International for 10 years. Where, Sven was the project leader for five editions of the World Energy Scenario “Energy [R]evolution: A sustainable World Energy Outlook”. The energy [r]evolution is an independently produced report that provides a practical blueprint for a transition towards renewable energy supply by 2050. This research is a joined project of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), NGO’s and the Global Wind Energy Council. Sven represented the renewable energy program of Greenpeace International at the UNFCCC Climate Conferences from November 1994 (COP 1 in Berlin) until December 2014 (COP 20 in Lima / Peru). Sven was a lead author for the IPCC Special Report Renewables (Chapter 10: Scenario analysis), which was published in 2011. He was a member of the expert review committee for the IEA World Energy Outlook in 2010 and 2011 and is a member of the advisory panel of the Japanese Renewable Energy Foundation. Sven also has practical experience in small-scale utility development. He originally developed the concept for a green utility and founded in 1999 the “Greenpeace energy eG”– Germany’s first cooperative in the power sector. Greenpeace Energy eG today employs 70 people and supplies 120.000 customers in Germany with green electricity. He has been a member of the board since 2000 Sven has significant experience in applying technical concepts (infrastructure, power grids and solar photovoltaic equipment) for rural electrification projects such as the Bihar Cluster utility project. Sven also has a PhD in the Integration of solar photovoltaic and wind into power systems from the University of Flensburg in Germany.

Healey M.,GHD | Tyrrell S.,GHD | Retamal M.,Institute for Sustainable Futures | Mitchell C.,Institute for Sustainable Futures | Devi B.,City of Sydney Council
Water Practice and Technology | Year: 2012

The City of Sydney is working to realise its vision to be a GREEN, GLOBAL and CONNECTED city, a vision articulated in their strategy Sustainable Sydney 2030 by undertaking a bold and ambitious project. The project will showcase how inner suburban areas can be retrofitted with innovative water systems to achieve integrated, resilient and sustainable water cycle outcomes. The baselining process is a major step in the development of a suite of plans that constitute the Decentralised Water Master Plan, including: a Water Efficiency Plan, a Stormwater Infrastructure Improvement Plan, a Water Sensitive Urban Design Plan and a Decentralised Non-Potable Water Network Plan. Significant community consultation is being undertaken to ensure the community and stakeholders have opportunities to input into the project. The final plan will not be a fixed document but will be an evolving document to take into account changing contexts and additional data as it becomes available. © IWA Publishing 2012.

Carrard N.,University of Technology, Sydney | Crawford J.,Australian National University | Halcrow G.,Institute for Sustainable Futures | Willetts J.,University of Technology, Sydney
Waterlines | Year: 2013

This paper aims to assist practitioners and researchers in planning, identifying, and documenting gender outcomes associated with water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programmes by proposing a conceptual framework for classifying gender equality changes. Gender outcomes that have been attributed to WASH initiatives encompass those directly related to improved services as well as outcomes that move into areas of relationships, power, and status. There is a growing body of literature identifying WASH-related gender outcomes; however the types of outcomes described vary considerably and further work is needed to inform a comprehensive picture of WASH and gender links. The framework proposed in this paper is based on a synthesis of outcomes reported in WASH literature to date, empirical research in Fiji and Vanuatu, and insights from gender and development literature. It is hoped that the framework will support practitioners to engage with the inherent complexity of gender inquiry, contributing to sector knowledge about the potential for WASH initiatives to advance gender equality. © Practical Action Publishing, 2013.

Behirsch J.,University of Technology, Sydney | Ramirez M.,Institute for Sustainable Futures | Giurco D.,University of Technology, Sydney
ICED 11 - 18th International Conference on Engineering Design - Impacting Society Through Engineering Design | Year: 2011

This paper presents the results of an empirical study, investigating the uptake of ecodesign by industrial design consultancies (ID consultancies) in Australia, China, Germany and the USA. Designing products for a low environmental load, usually termed as ecodesign, offers high potential to reduce the environmental impact of our society, aiming for a sustainable development. However, there still appears to be no widespread uptake of ecodesign into product development praxis by industrial designers, with most ecodesign activity focusing on the engineering phase. Especially seldom are the necessary radical interventions to significantly improve the environmental performance of products. The literature review revealed that ID consultancies might be in a position to improve this situation. This paper presents the findings of a website content analysis, investigating the extent of ecodesign uptake by ID consultancies in Australia, China, Germany and the US. Those four countries were chosen to see if different, country specific frameworks impact on the attitude of ID consultancies towards ecodesign. The paper verifies that ID consultancies have a high potential to improve ecodesign uptake by using their influence especially on early phases of the product development process and by addressing also non engineering related issues for ecodesign. This potential does not appear to be fully embraced yet. The paper concludes by identifying the highest representation of ecodesign on websites of Australian ID consultancies and the lowest on websites of Chinese ID consultancies. The way ID consultancies practice ecodesign is very country specific. Understanding the differences and developing recommendations how ID consultancies can better unfold their ecodesign potential requires deeper investigations in the case specific factors. Copyright © 2002-2012 The Design Society. All rights reserved.

Retamal M.,Institute for Sustainable Futures | Turner A.,Institute for Sustainable Futures
Water Science and Technology: Water Supply | Year: 2010

Drought and concern over climate change has led to the increased use of distributed water systems in Australia to supplement centralised supply systems. A literature review carried out by the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) into the energy consumption of water infrastructure found that very little data on energy consumption exists, particularly for distributed systems. This paper reviews the findings of the literature review and presents results from a preliminary monitoring study on the energy implications of household rainwater systems. Typical household systems that are currently being installed in ouses cross Australia use approximately 1.5 kWh/kL. © IWA Publishing 2010.

Palmer J.,University of Newcastle | Palmer J.,Institute for Sustainable Futures | Instone L.,University of Newcastle | Mee K.J.,University of Newcastle | And 3 more authors.
Local Environment | Year: 2014

The shift towards social, government and corporate ethics which value environmental sustainability has also embraced householders in a plethora of educational guides, policies, regulations and consumer information about green home improvements, purchasing choices and household practices. In this paper, we make the claim that the rental housing sector, and in particular the private rental sector, has yet to participate, structurally, culturally and materially, in this shift to an ethics of sustainability. We argue, however, that even on such otherwise arid ground, an alternative ethic is developing, a sustainability ethic practiced by green tenants whose activities inside and outside their homes go beyond the considerable material constraints of their dwellings and incomes, and beyond the purely transactional utility of the rental contract. These activities, relational, interconnected and resilient, offer both glimpses of a greening rental housing sector, and a clearer picture of the areas where work remains to be done. Based on a research study, we conducted of the rental sector in regional Australia, and in particular of the everyday sustainability practices of tenants, we suggest that these activities are a practice-based form of care for the world, in many ways similar to Maria Puig de la Bellacasa's practice-based, human-decentred ethics which she suggests is exemplified in the permaculture movement. The stories of the tenants we interviewed for our study also point the way to other changes which are needed to enable a practice-based sustainability ethic to flourish across the rental housing sector as a whole. © 2014 © 2014 Taylor & Francis.

Retamal M.,Institute for Sustainable Futures | Willetts I.,Institute for Sustainable Futures
The Future of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Low-Income Countries: Innovation, Adaptation and Engagement in a Changing World - Proceedings of the 35th WEDC International Conference | Year: 2011

Cost effectiveness analysis is a useful tool for comparing water and sanitation infrasfructure options. This method was used to compare a range of sanitation options for the rapidly developing area of South Can Tho in Vietnam. The costs of cenfralised, semi-cenfralised and decenfralised sewer systems were analysed along with several different freatment and sfream separation technologies. The process of estimating and modelling costs can be challenging as considerable data is required, however, by using a variety of cost estimation methods it was possible to undertake a detailed costing assessment to compare very different infrasfructure options over their lifetimes and with reference to the service they provide. The results, which detail net present values and levelised costs in addition to a range of financial perspectives can provide a valuable basis for decision making.

News Article | April 22, 2016

A new report from the Institute for Sustainable Futures in Sydney says a rapid transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy system can save Australia money – with avoided fuel costs to quickly offset the extra capital expenditure of building wind, solar and other renewable energy installations. “The transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy system by 2050 is both technically possible and economically viable in the long term,” the report says. And by 100 per cent renewable, it means all energy use, including transport and heating. The report canvasses two renewable energy scenarios, one based on a high level of renewable energy in the electricity grid, but with transport largely reliant on fossil fuels. The second is the Advanced Renewables scenario, which canvasses a totally renewable electricity system by 2030 and a fully renewable energy system by 2050. This graph above shows the proposed fuel mix on the various scenarios, and how they compare to the “reference” rate of current policies, which continues to rely heavily on black and brown coal, and gas. Interestingly, the ‘advanced renewables” scenario includes a significant share of ocean energy and geothermal energy, which have yet to make their mark in Australia, along with solar thermal and storage and biomass, which will add to the “flexible” generation capacity that will fill the gaps between wind and solar. Another important component is hydrogen, which is introduced as a substitute for natural gas, and makes up a significant share of transport fuels after 2030. Hydrogen is assumed to be produced via electrolysis, via wind and solar PV – hence the large amounts of wind and PV “for transport” only in the advanced renewable scenario. Indeed, the report, commissioned by activist groups Get Up and Solar Citizens, says solar and wind will become the “main pillars” of electricity supply in Australia, in a reshaped market that is not built around the conventional “base load” concept, which the authors say is an economic construct rather than a technical one. The release of the report comes at the same time as the effective launch of an election campaign that features relatively modest policies from the mainstream parties, and highlights the yawning and growing gap between what is possible (and cost effective) and what the major parties propose. Labor is aiming for 50 per cent renewable energy in electricity by 2030, while the Coalition has no policy beyond its 33,00GWh (effectively 23 per cent) renewables target for 2020. Ironically, it was prime minister Malcolm Turnbull who helped launch an earlier 100 per cent renewables scenario by Beyond Zero Emissions, back in 2010. Get UP’s Miriam Lyons said investing in the shift to renewables would mean lower wholesale electricity prices as early as 2025. “Australia’s shambolic electricity system is not clean, cheap, modern, competitive or fair,” Lyons said. “The only people it suits are a handful of big coal-burning power companies along with network companies who spent $75 billion building far more energy infrastructure than we need. “That’s a racket, and the Homegrown Power Plan shows how we can fix it. It also shows how clean energy auctions can help deliver low prices on the way to 100% renewable power.” A 100 per cent renewable energy system has already been acknowledged as technically feasible by the likes of the Australian Energy Market Operator, despite the constant skepticism from the coal and nuclear lobbies, based around the idea that the system needs “base load”. The advanced renewables scenario suggests all coal-fired plants should be shut down by 2030, and to be combined by a doubling in energy productivity by the same date (rather than the current government target of 40 per cent increase). It also envisages renewable energy supplying 97 per cent of total electricity demand – including electrified transport – by 2035, and firm capacity remaining at today’s level of approximately 75 per cent throughout the entire scenario period. It suggests that the supply of energy is 41 per cent renewable by 2035, 64 per cent by 2040 and 100 per cent by 2050, enabling Australia to become independent from oil imports within one generation. The industry sector will be 50 per cent renewable by 2035 and 100 per cent by 2050. (Interestingly Alcoa is trialling solar technology that it says could reduce fossil fuel use by 50 per cent in various refining processes.) All of this leads to higher investment costs of $800 billion out to 2050, compared to $150 billion in the reference scenario, much of it spent switching transport and heating sectors over to electricity, and gearing it towards the use of synthetic fuels. But because renewable technologies have no ongoing fuel costs, there will be fuel savings in the power sector of $340 billion and in the transport sector of $400 billion. This will more than compensate for the higher investment costs. “The combined power and transport fuel cost savings would cover around 110 per cent of the capital investment cost,” the report says. “New renewable power generation needed for a 100 per cent renewable energy system can therefore be financed by fuel cost savings before 2050.” The report, does, however, envisage some ambitious installation rates – at well above current installation rates.   Drive an electric car? Complete one of our short surveys for our next electric car report.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  

News Article | October 10, 2016

With the highest penetration of residential rooftop solar in the world, Australia is a testing ground for the role that distributed generators can play on the grid. Despite this fact, energy production incentives for rooftop solar systems are currently minimal or nil, leaving homes to try to maximise their solar self-consumption despite the useful role they could potentially play on the grid. However, recent developments — including the introduction of a variable feed-in tariff based on the wholesale energy spot price — indicate that Australia is slowly but surely moving in the direction of an energy system that values the role of distributed generators. Generous solar feed-in tariffs were what spawned the country’s solar boom back in 2008–2011. Although these incentives have died off, solar system installation prices have fallen significantly. Rooftop solar is now affordable and makes financial sense for virtually anyone with an unshaded roof above their head and some daytime energy usage. However, the lack of state-sponsored energy production incentives also means that solar homes are effectively incentivised to keep their solar “behind the meter” (“solar self-consumption“). These days, most feed-in tariffs are voluntary and rates are about a third or a quarter of what homes pay for electricity from the grid. Many solar system owners think that this is unfair, but it has also grudgingly become accepted as the norm. (This could be a vision of things to come for the USA, as Americans will likely find themselves in a similar situation as state-based net metering programs wrap up.) But a growing interest in household energy independence isn’t necessarily in the best interests of the grid at large. Despite the growing affordability and appeal of going off the grid, the grid will not become obsolete anytime soon. Rather, Australia’s grid is already evolving into its next iteration (albeit slowly, a bit painfully, and without a cohesive, government-backed plan). The consensus is that the future of our energy infrastructure is a smart grid full of distributed consumer–generators (prosumers) who are active market participants — rather than a Mad Max–style, “everyone for themselves” off-grid free-for-all. Currently, there’s no official way to incorporate and effectively capture the value of distributed generation into Australia’s energy infrastructure or market. There have, however, been some major regulatory reforms – AEMC’s Power of Choice Review – that have opened the doors for the development of market-based approaches towards this goal. Although there have recently been suggestions for finding a way to put a value on the “local-ness” of distributed energy (e.g., because it doesn’t need to be transported from coal plants hundreds of miles away), it feels safe to wager that this kind of solution is still some time off (as government movement on such things can be glacial). Energy storage is widely seen as the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to enabling distributed renewable energy generators to partake meaningfully in the energy market. But despite the hype and incredible amount of noise around the topic, widespread adoption of distributed storage is still at least a year off, mainly due to high price points (which are falling quickly). The key functionality that battery storage promises to a distributed grid is the ability to dispatch power on demand, when it is needed most. People are excited about battery storage and all it entails. It’s understandable, therefore, that batteries are where the focus has been. Reposit Power is one company that has managed to make a name for itself as a developer of a technology that allows battery storage system owners to sell their energy on the grid at opportune times – taking advantage of high spot price events when they occur. Reposit’s GridCredits system has an app-based interface that makes it easy for users to understand and engage with the electricity market. In essence, a Reposit Power battery system owner is occasionally offered the opportunity to export stored energy to receive a premium rate. All the customer needs to do is opt in or out, and Reposit’s software takes care of the rest. Currently, there is only one retailer (Diamond Energy) that offers a package (Grid Credits 100) that incorporates GridCredits. Under this plan, battery storage system owners get paid $1 per kilowatt-hour of exported stored energy. There are other technology companies that have developed platforms that allow retailers to offer packages like this (including Germany’s sonnen and Australia’s own GreenSync and Redback Technologies), so the idea of market participation along these lines is already beginning to permeate the industry. Technologies like this have facilitated a number of pilot projects in Australia, including at least one virtual microgrid of record-breaking size by one of the ‘big three’ retailers. A much smaller retailer by the name of Urth Energy, however, has recently cracked open the idea of wholesale energy trading to the mass market with a plan called Urth Trader. Urth Trader allows anyone with a grid-connected solar PV system of any size in South Australia, New South Wales, or the Energex network in southeast Queensland to receive the wholesale spot market price for the solar energy that they send into the grid — effectively putting them in the same ring as the country’s large-scale power plants. The plan allows customers to take advantage of high wholesale rates when they occur, but stops short of promising overall higher feed-in rates on average. Instead, the company says that “engaged” solar system owners will be able to maximise their solar returns in a way that has hitherto been impossible – by keeping their solar behind the meter (as much as possible) when spot prices are low, and exporting when prices are high. Urth acknowledges that feeding solar into the grid is no longer the best way to maximise the value of a solar energy system – even with Urth Trader. Instead, it opens up a new stream of potential value for solar system owners that complements solar self-consumption behind the meter, which is the primary way that solar systems save their owners money these days. But at the same time, Urth Trader recognises solar system owners as the generators that they are and is willing to pay them as such (minus a 15% administration fee). And the door is always open – a customer could theoretically set their system up to export when conditions are most favourable – e.g. the spot price is about to rise about 30¢/kWh and there are no crucial loads running in the house. And in any case, customers will know that they’re getting an objectively fair rate for their solar. According to the company’s press release on the product launch: “In a world of declining state-sponsored feed-in tariff incentive programs and rising retail electricity prices, Australia’s solar homes and businesses have become more energy conscious than ever. Solar is worth the most when it is consumed ‘behind the meter’ (e.g. directly, in the building where the energy is produced), while solar exported to the grid ordinarily has little value, with most retailers offering only 6-8¢ per kWh of solar energy sent back to the grid. “In allowing customers direct access to the wholesale market, Urth Trader delivers a new level of transparency to solar feed-in valuation, which has long been a contentious issue in Australia. Furthermore, Urth Trader allows ordinary homes and businesses to proactively engage in the market as generators, putting them in a position to take advantage of high-price events when they occur by switching off devices (load shedding) to let their solar to flow into the grid. For those who do not wish to be proactively engaged, Urth Trader at a minimum ensures that they will be paid fair market value for their solar energy.” The people who will be best set up to take advantage of Urth Trader, therefore, are those with home energy management systems that allow for both monitoring and control — systems that can do this are becoming increasingly popular in Australia. The missing piece of puzzle for most of them, however, are algorithms to detect and respond to spot prices (although they could theoretically monitor it manually using apps like Red Dolphin Pocket NEM). On the other hand, there are technologies that can respond to spot prices (e.g., Reposit) but do not constitute a full-blown energy management system, as there is no interface for controlling devices in the home (at least not yet). Redback Technologies is the only company currently claiming that their platform can do it all, but their system is generally tied to batteries — and in any case, it is undoubtedly only a matter of time before others catch up. The valuation of solar on the grid under Urth Trader is based on the wholesale spot market, which means that it is honest but one-dimensional. Currently, there is no way to capture in monetary terms the environmental and social benefits of solar on the grid (such as with Minnesota’s Value of Solar Tariff). For those who argue that these are too nebulous to put a proper value on, we could also look to something more concrete: the value of solar as a local generation source. Currently, solar energy generated next door to your house is competing on a level playing field with generators that may be hundreds of kilometres away. Finding a way to effectively capture this value – as the Institute for Sustainable Futures has proposed – could further boost the case for solar system owners to actively engage in the market, especially if a savvy technology developer decides to step in and fill the gaps (which, as noted, a few are currently endeavouring to do). It will be interesting to see if other retailers follow suit and begin offering products similar to Urth Trader – after all, there is nothing stopping them. But the plan’s introduction is a pretty clear signal about the direction that Australia’s energy system is headed, and offers a unique and interesting opportunity for solar system owners where it is offered. Buy a cool T-shirt or mug in the CleanTechnica store!   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

News Article | November 17, 2015

This is a common response levelled at Sarina Kilham and her partner, Ednilson Santos, as they undertake early market research for RememberMe, a baby car-seat safety device that harnesses smartphone technology to ensure babies can't be left unintentionally in cars. The idea that you could forget your baby, leaving her in your car with potentially life-threatening results, is so abhorrent that this reaction is understandable. However, it flies against all the research into "forgotten baby syndrome", says Kilham, a PhD researcher at UTS. "The research says this can happen to anyone, anytime. It is not related to parenting ability, class, money or anything else." A small change in routine is all it takes for parents functioning on autopilot to forget they have their child with them. In Australia, even on a cool day, this mistake could cost the child's life as temperatures inside the car can be lethal within 20 minutes. "If it happens on a hot day, the situation can turn fatal in as little as 10 minutes," says paramedic Hamuera Kohu from the NSW Ambulance Service, which is frequently called out to rescue children from locked cars. "The particularly dangerous months are between now and April." For Kilham and Santos, the campaigns to raise awareness have not been enough to counteract the shocking statistics – as many as 4000 children and babies are rescued from locked cars in Australia each year. Nor have the media stories that follow a tragedy. But the birth of their second baby, during the summer months, triggered the idea for the safety device. "I could relate so much to doing things on autopilot, it just seemed crazy to me that something like this didn't already exist," says Kilham. Santos, a student nurse at UTS with a background in IT, quickly ascertained the feasibility of the device and started work on the design. RememberMe is designed to alert you via your smartphone if you leave the car while your child is still in the seat. It will also have the option of making an emergency call to someone else, giving location details via satellite navigation technology. As a researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, a chief concern for Kilham is that the device be environmentally friendly. The other essential element is reliability. "Previous inventions in the US haven't been able to cope with something as simple as an orange juice spill," she says. "As parents of two small children, we want to ensure it is 100 per cent reliable." Despite the vehement reaction of parents who swear they'd never forget their child, Kilham and Santos believe there is definitely a market for their device. This was given a boost in September when their team beat 100 other students to win $5000 seed funding in Project Pitch, an annual competition to support UTS students to develop the next big idea. They are using the funding to build the prototype. They are also applying for acceleration programs to get the idea off the ground. A device such as this can't come fast enough for Kohu who says he would welcome anything that prevents the needless anguish and trauma this type of incident can cause. Saving lives is the objective for Kilham and Santos. "We would be satisfied knowing that our device had saved just one baby's life," says Santos. Explore further: Voxx gadget aims to prevent infant deaths in sweltering cars

Loading Institute for Sustainable Futures collaborators
Loading Institute for Sustainable Futures collaborators