A round-up of recent energy-efficiency projects, reports and innovations.

Energy efficiency benefits greatly underestimated

‘It turns out that energy efficiency is a much bigger productivity resource than is generally understood’, notes US economist and energy consultant John Laitner. He has identified an increasing gap between past assumptions and current reality. Mr Laitner finds the US economy's productivity is more closely tied to efficiency improvements than new resource extraction.

Source: Greentech media

See: Energy efficiency benefits greatly underestimated

The untapped potential of energy efficiency

Significant progress has been made in the areas of lighting, cars, and space heating, and appliances, but there remains a big potential for improvement as 70% of global energy consumption is not subject to mandatory efficiency standards. Noé van Hulst, Ambassador of The Netherlands at the OECD, discusses EE activities on the global scale.  

Source: IEA

See: The untapped potential of energy efficiency

COAG tackles the energy-efficiency skills shortage

The Council of Australian Governments is getting serious about addressing the shortage of expertise in delivering energy-efficient buildings, with two new training initiatives for trades and designers recently receiving funding. AIRAH is a partner in the initiative, and the AIVA and members of the Special Technical Group on Building Physics are contributing to the development and peer review of the training materials.

Source: The Fifth Estate

See: COAG tackles the energy-efficiency skills shortage

More power to electric vehicles

Key policymakers and businesses have flagged measures to jumpstart Australia’s idling electric vehicle market, including a new national body to mainstream EVs, research grants, and private sector purchasing of electric fleets. The Electric Vehicle Council was launched at Parliament House in May.

Source: Eco-Business

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50 ways to boost your building

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has produced a guide detailing 50 initiatives that building owners can use to cut energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The report, Energy in Buildings: 50 Best Practice Initiatives, describes clean energy opportunities across a range of buildings, from offices, retail and hotels to industrial, healthcare, common living accommodations and education.

Source: CEFC

See: 50 ways to boost building performance

Old New Zealand office block gets energy-smart

The 47-year-old Aorangi House in Wellington has achieved a market-leading NABERSNZ base building rating, demonstrating an energy performance 50% better than the average New Zealand office. Assessor Ben Masters said ‘This shows sustainable refurbishment is a viable option to the carbon-hungry alternative of demolition and replacement.’

Source: Scoop

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A goldmine for hydroelectric project

ARENA is supporting a feasibility study into the construction of a pumped storage hydroelectric power plant at the disused Kidston goldmine in north Queensland. The project will be the first in the world to use two disused mine pits for the purpose of power generation.

Source: ARENA

See: A goldmine for hydroelectric project

Some buildings not as green as they seem

It’s been called the energy performance gap in green buildings — the difference between promised energy savings and the reality of what’s actually delivered. Builders need realistic modelling by people with a robust knowledge of building physics. ‘This isn’t rocket science – it’s harder,’ opined Evan Mills, a building technology specialist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Source: Yale Environment 360

See: Some buildings not as green as they seem

Harvard’s vision of the ultra-efficient building

The HouseZero Project is an initiative by the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities (CGBC). The goal is to retrofit older buildings to be ultra-efficient, requiring almost zero energy. ‘We want to show how this can be replicated almost anywhere, and solve one of the world’s biggest energy problems — inefficient existing buildings,’ said program leader Ali Malkaw.

Source: Curbed

See: Harvard’s vision of the ultra-efficient building

New reference guide to energy auditing

The Energy Efficiency Council and NSW Office of Environment and Heritage have developed a Quick Reference Guide to Energy Auditing, focused on commercial and industrial audits. The guide recommends that energy audits comply with AS/NZS 3598, and shows how to determine the right type of audit for your site.

Source: Energy Efficiency Council

See: Quick Reference Guide to Energy Auditing

Indonesian remote community off-grid PV

A 1.2 MW hybrid plant is under development in a remote area of Indonesia aiming to provide 24-hours access to electricity for about 400 households in three villages. The project will be owned by the local community, and will provide a model for a country in which 12,000 villages have little or no access to electricity.

Source: One Step Off the Grid

See: Indonesian remote community off-grid PV

Australia’s first P2P green loan platform launched

Australia's first peer-to-peer green lending platform has been enlivened with a $20 million investment from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. ‘This innovative facility offers the potential to improve the marketability of green assets, by bringing purchasers, installers and manufacturers closer together,’ said CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth.

Source: CEFC

See: Australia’s first P2P green loan platform launched

CEFC adds $180m to NAB Energy Efficient Bonus program

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is committing an additional $180 million to the NAB Energy Efficient Bonus program, following its success in helping Australian businesses improve their energy use. The program has been particularly well received by NAB's agribusiness customers, who have used the finance for a range of equipment upgrades, including in the Great Barrier Reef catchment area, bringing the benefits of clean energy to support the long-term health of the reef.

Source: CEFC

See: CEFC adds $180m to NAB Energy Efficient Bonus program

$20 million funding for solar PV’s next great leap forward

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has announced a $20 million funding round to accelerate solar PV research and development. ‘Australia has some of the best solar PV researchers in the world, and we want to build what we’ve already accomplished,’ said Ivor Frischknecht, CEO of ARENA. ‘We see a future where solar cells might be on every surface.’

Source: ARENA

See: $20 million funding for solar PV’s next great leap forward

Power sharing for homes and businesses

A new trial supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and using blockchain technology could enable households and businesses to trade or share power with one-another. The trial will help determine if there is value in peer-to-peer markets and how blockchain technology could facilitate this market in a cost-effective way.

Source: ARENA

See: Power sharing for homes and businesses

Biomass power to bridge gap between farmers and miners

Remote mining projects in farming areas could soon access baseload electricity from biomass plants powered by straw. Yorke Biomass Energy is building a demonstration plant in South Australia to demonstrate how a straw burning generator can provide miners with a competitively priced power source for the first 10-20MW of power.

Source: The Lead

See: Biomass power to bridge gap between farmers and miners

Saving two power stations’ worth of energy at peak times

ClimateWorks Australia’s research shows that initiatives to better manage energy use could reduce peak demand on the national grid by more than 3.8 gigawatts – the output of two Hazelwood power stations over peak times.

Source: The Conversation

See: Saving two power stations’ worth of energy at peak times

The Dubai Lamp is world’s most energy-efficient lightbulb

The Dubai Lamp was recently unveiled as part of a sustainability drive to reduce Dubai’s energy use for lighting by up to 90%. The bulb components in the new power-saving range consume only 1 to 3 watts, rather than the 25 to 60 watts of standard bulbs.

Source: What’s On

See: Dubai Lamp is world’s most energy-efficient lightbulb

Wi-Fi holography can be used to peer inside buildings

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich have come up with a process that generates a 3D image of a space from the microwave radiation of a Wi-Fi signal bouncing off people and objects. Many industrial applications for the tech are envisaged, such as such as tracking objects moving through an automated facility.

Source: TU Munich

See: Wi-Fi holography can be used to peer inside buildings

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