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April 2020 e-news

The sudden appearance of COVID-19 has impacted everyone in the global community.  Some words on this particular moment in time from Vicki Brooke, Chair of Zero Emissions Byron Limited:

For many here in Australia, it’s another huge blow, following the devastation of fires and floods over summer. To those who have lost their jobs and their businesses, to everyone whose regular life has been disrupted, I send my deepest sympathy. I wish I could wave a magic wand to ease the pain and heartbreak so many are suffering.

Protecting ourselves from the virus is pushing us to new levels of consideration for the world around us and for others. Growing community response is the change needed to deal with the even greater challenge of climate change.  People forced to stay at home are living simpler lives, from growing vegetables and doing home renovations to spending time with neighbours and friends (social contact reduced to 2 people).  Many are using the time for reflection, while others are developing an online presence. Change is in the air: recently the ZEB Board enjoyed a meeting by ZOOM.

When the virus finally leaves us, it’s my hope our community will feel the strength to stay connected, to value those things that mattered most to them, to live with less. Reduced travel by plane and car has had a huge impact on curbing rising emissions. An engaged, caring community is essential to help ZEB reach its ultimate aim of a renewable energy economy with positive benefits for people, plants and animals.

ZEB must stay active to achieve its emissions reduction goals.  As a small, not-for-profit, registered charity, we need your donation of $2 (click here) or more to keep us going and to help deliver more community engagement projects (such as Actions You Can Take, see further on).

With thanks and warm regards
Vicki Brooke

‘May you live in interesting times…’
These words are supposedly a Chinese curse. Whatever, they apply to the current situation. Good, bad or indifferent, things are still alive and kicking in the Byron Shire, even though live meetings have been replaced by Zoom, sitting rooms now converted to classrooms, and the gym is now online. (And no one can see you puffing.)

Here’s some of the good news…

Coolamon Energy scores massive grant
Zero Emissions Byron Advisory Board member, Craig Johnston, wearing his hat as Director of  Coolamon Energy, was delighted to be one of just seven companies awarded a grant from the NSW Government’s Regional Community Energy Fund. His company Byron Bay Solar Farm Holdings receives $3.5m for a 5MW Solar farm with battery storage.

The Coolamon Energy project falls within the small smart solar farm category, “incorporating 7.4MW DC/4.99MW AC PV of PV panels and a central inverter with DC coupled storage”.

Craig Johnston said the grant funding ensured the incorporation the 5MW/10MWh lithium-ion battery component of the project, which would in turn give the project greater flexibility to deliver “an on-demand element of locally generated renewable energy” in the Byron Shire.

“In terms of delivering value back to the community, we hope to be able to work with Enova Energy to be able to offer Byron Bay residents locally generated renewable energy from the sun from 2021 onwards,” Craig said. “We are super excited about this project as it should provide around 7% of the Byron Shire’s energy consumption from locally generated renewable energy.”

Another lucky winner: Enova Energy
Pictured above, from left: Coolamon Energy directors Dr Greg Wilding and Craig Johnston, MP Tamara Smith, Enova Energy CEO Felicity Stening, and Enova Evergy Chair, Alison Crook, at the award ceremony.
Our friends and colleagues at Enova, also scored well from the same fund, securing just under $1 million in funding for a 2MWh battery it plans to install to implement peer-to-peer trading between 500 of its Northern Rivers customers.

Enova applied for the grant alongside project partners Enosi and University of Newcastle, for the purpose of supporting local communities to generate, store, and share renewable energy.

“We’re thrilled to have succeeded in this NSW Government Regional Community Energy Fund grant,” said Enova CEO Felicity Stening. “It will enable Enova to make its debut into grid-scale energy storage and bring peer-to-peer energy trading to our customers. Enova is absolutely stepping into its role as a leader in helping communities build energy self-sufficiency.”

In Minister Kean’s words: “These grants will help regional communities right across NSW take control of their energy bills and benefit from the economic opportunities presented by changes in our energy system.”

For the complete list of successful applicants and projects, go to https://energy.nsw.gov.au/regional-community-energy.

Rescheduling RePlant Byron events
A new coordinator, Vanessa Smith, has been appointed by ZEB to take over from Sandi Middleton to manage the ZEB Replant Byron project. In her part-time role, Vanessa will liaise with bush regenerators and landowners to identify plantings from mid-2015 onwards to calculate carbon drawdown. Vanessa will also be working on fundraising, grants, forward planning of projects and community planting days – when we have the all-clear.

RePlant Byron has now planted 5,000 trees. Community planting days planned for 7 March, 4 April and 1 May were postponed until later in the year when the COVID-19 situation becomes clearer. The aim had been to plant 18,000 trees by mid-May but that target may not be feasible due to current restrictions. The situation will be reviewed with East Coast Bush Regeneration’s Rossco Faithful, and ZEB directors Vicki Brooke and John Taberner.

At Lindsay Murray’s Dingo Lane Farms, 1000 trees were planted recently (pictured above, some trees arriving). Together with 900 trees planted at the adjoining property, a shared corridor of remnant vegetation and koala trees mixed with rainforest was created. Both plantings were carried out by Dave Rawlins and his team. To watch it happen, check it out on youtube

EV2020 Postponed
It will be no surprise to learn that the ZEB Electric Vehicle Expo + Forum that was to have taken place at the Cavanbah Centre on 23 May, has been postponed. Tentatively, the new date is set for Saturday 26 September, though that will be confirmed closer to the date.

Whenever it does occur, we have an excellent selection of industry experts set to talk, curated by Bridie Schmidt of TheDriven fame, plus the latest e-vehicles of many descriptions, from EVs and e-bikes right through to a locally converted E-Kombi. (Alex Bosin’s converted Kombi pictured below. Details at EV Classic)

The NRMA’s Bright Futures tour
To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the NRMA came to Byron to kick off a road show which was originally destined to take place at six rural locations around the state. As it happened, only Byron and Tamworth were lucky enough to have the spectacular events staged before the effects of  COVID-19 nipped the tour in the bud (as it were).
Stalls from a number of local sustainability-related groups, from Save the Koala to Brunswick Valley Landcare, from Byron Bird Buddies to (of course) Zero Emissions Byron, spread the good word. The ZEB stall was staffed by Vicki Brooke, Muriel Watt, Jason Lasky, Sapoty Brook and Christobel Munson.
Very popular with the crowds was a collection of heritage vehicles, primarily the service vehicles used by the NRMA over the decades, the most recent being an electric Hyundai Kona. For hours on end, the NRMA’s EV Division Manager, Suzana Barbir and others from the NRMA hotline, fielded questions on the Kona and electric vehicles in general.
“Our EV display at the NRMA’s Northern Rivers Centenary event was a great opportunity for people to ask questions, share stories and get up close to an electric vehicle,” said Ms Barbir (pictured below, with the NRMA EV Kona).
Essentially, most people wanted to know how far EVs travel on a full battery, how much EVs cost, and how much it cost to charge an EV on the NRMA EV Fast Charging Network.
“For 100 years the NRMA has been keeping people moving and in our centenary year we are continuing our legacy of adapting to the rapidly changing world around us by building Australia’s largest electric vehicle fast charging network to better serve our members,” Ms Barbir added.
“Our aim is that 95 per cent of member journeys are within 150 kilometres of one of our charging stations, and with two-thirds of our network now built, we are paving the way for the next generation of motorists and helping to facilitate EV travel across regional NSW.”
The NRMA’s EV fast chargers, such as the one located at The Farm, in Ewingsdale, are free for members. They allow EV motorists to fully charge their cars in about 30 minutes, giving up to 400 kilometres of range. Currently the NRMA has installed EV Fast chargers in 29 locations across NSW and the ACT. More information at https://www.mynrma.com.au/centenary/local-events/northern-rivers

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