In last week’s Newsletter I introduced readers to a wonderful community solar organisation called Repower Shoalhaven which is helping small-to-medium sized businesses and organisations obtain ‘better than free’ solar power systems with the help of local ethical investors. Repower was founded by an exceptional community solar activist named Chris Cooper. As I mentioned briefly last week, Chris has recently started another exciting community solar initiative called SunCrowd.
Unlike Repower, SunCrowd is aimed squarely at the household solar customer and the concept is a simple one… get enough customers together and use the increased buying power to get great prices for solar and battery systems.
SunCrowd had its initial launch in Newcastle in early July where 187 home-owners signed up for solar and energy storage systems. The next roll-out is slated for the SE region of NSW including the Illawarra, Shoalhaven, Goulburn, Southern Highlands and South Coast districts. As Chris put it in a recent email to potential participants, ‘This could potentially become one of the biggest bulk-buys in this country’s history!…
By participating you’ll join a local network of community organisations who are committed to a clean energy future, offering your members and community a valuable service – i.e. accessing solar and storage via a trusted community process at bulk prices.’
To start with, SunCrowd is focused on helping all the households who are soon to come off the high Feed-In-Tariffs work out their best options including adding more solar, adding battery storage, switching energy retailers and installing the right kind of meter. The program is open to everyone and anyone interested in the power of community bulk-buying can sign up for more information on the SunCrowd Website.
Making Fuel from Atmospheric CO2
Two of the big problems facing scientists today are 1) how to make renewable energy sources to replace global fossil fuel use and 2) how to reduce levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and the associated threat of catastrophic climate change. So it’s no surprise that scientists at Chicago’s University of Illinois are excited about the new solar cell they have invented which can turn CO2 directly into a synthetic hydrocarbon gas, ‘or syngas, which can be burned as is or turned into diesel and other hydrocarbon fuels’.
‘The new solar cell is not photovoltaic — it’s photosynthetic,’ says Salehi-Khojin. ‘Instead of producing energy in an unsustainable one-way route from fossil fuels to greenhouse gas, we can now reverse the process and recycle atmospheric carbon into fuel using sunlight.’