ReNew Issue 128


Issue 128 July-September 2014 is our off-grid special showing households and communities how to do it! This issue includes our energy storage buyers guide, the economics of going off-grid, off-grid in the tropics, the how and why of going off-grid, sourcing a green builder, composting toilets, DIY worm farm, a really cool electric tractor, backyard chickens, an Adelaide household’s rainwater system and much more.

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Issue Contents:

Issue 128 July-September 2014 is out now! As always, ReNew comes overflowing with articles to satisfy both the technically and the not-so-technically minded. Regardless of whether your interest is photovoltaic cells, recycling, or even environmentally responsible building techniques, there is something for you in this issue.

ReNew 128 has ‘going off-grid’ as its focus. Inside you’ll find:

  • Sourcing a green builder

    Elizabeth Wheeler explains how to find a ‘deep green builder’ who can deliver a quality, environmentally sensitive home.

  • Farming renewably, without diesel

    ATA’s branch manager Doug Rolfe test drives an electric tractor conversion in Tasmania.

  • The underrated pet: backyard chickens

    Keeping chickens in your backyard can have many advantages, and not just for you, as Justin Brasier explains.

  • Oversizing PV arrays

    Oversizing your PV array compared to your inverter size can increase system output, but Global Sustainable Energy Solution asks how much PV is too much?

  • The economics of going off-grid

    Recent ATA research explores Australia’s ‘unplugged’ potential, and just how financially viable it is to go off-grid. By Mischa Vickas.

  • The power of microgrids

    Mitchell Lennard explains why there’s so much research and commercial interest in microgrids right now.

  • Local energy is reliable energy

    The need for reliable energy is driving microgrid development in the USA and paving the way for smarter, cleaner, community-based energy here, writes Kristian Handberg.

  • Know your renewables: off-grid basics

    There’s been renewed interest in giving energy companies the flick. Lance Turner takes a look at the how and why of going off-grid.

  • Off-grid in the tropics

    Andrew Spiers’s tropical off-grid home exists to look after this conservation block, writes Robyn Deed.

  • Not flushed away: water independence

    Flush good quality rainwater down the toilet? Not in this Adelaide house, where flushing rainwater is only done in times of plenty. By Melissa Crawford.

  • Composting toilets in an urban setting

    Jeff Knowles had reservations about putting in a ‘long drop’ in his urban home, but was pleasantly surprised.

  • Taking advantage of low PV prices

    This battery-based solar system reliably provides daily energy needs, even on an overcast day. John Inglis from Positronic Solar in Brisbane explains.

  • No wires and too much power!

    Kevin White describes his off-grid home in Queensland as a renewable energy ‘power station’, with more energy than they can use!

  • Off-grid round up: the power of many

    Read the stories of people going off-grid around Australia, highlighting some more of the pros and cons. Compiled by Robyn Deed.

  • Energy storage buyers guide

    There has been a steady increase in the number of ready-to-use energy storage systems available. In this mini-guide, we take a look at the options so far.

  • Remote pumping buyers guide

    Moving water is a requirement on nearly every remote and rural property. We take a look at the different types of pumping systems and what pumps are available.

  • Home-grown shelving

    Victoria’s recent drought had a devastating effect on trees in many Ballarat gardens, but John Petheram found a silver (or amber-coloured) lining.

  • DIY no-care worm farm

    Discarded plaster or paint cans get put to good use in Valerie Yule’s simple and cheap worm farm.

  • Integrated hot water and heating

    Chris Ogilvie has integrated his solar hot water and hydronic heating systems, even taking advantage of the excess heat in summer.

  • The Pears Report

    With neighbouring Asian countries investing millions or billions of dollars in renewable energy and energy efficiency, Alan Pears reflects on Australian policy in 2014.

  • Salvage It: Using old thermostats

    Julian Edgar shows us how to make good use of an often overlooked but useful component–the thermostat.

  • Member profile: the environmental advocate

    Household solar installer Aaron Lewtas talks to Jacinta Cleary about persuading households and government to a more sustainable way.