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FAQs

Where to from here? (3)

The ZNET process has been designed to ensure we arrive at a Blueprint that is feasible, viable and desirable. For the Blueprint to succeed it needs to be embraced by the community and practical to implement. The Blueprint/Business Plan will set out a long term vision along with some ‘quick wins’ to get started.

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For ZNET to be effective in it needs to be economically viable in the long term. To get started, the Blueprint may look to support from the community, government and industry through volunteer time, financial investment and technology partnerships. Developing a clear vision and demonstrating community and business action will attract broader support.

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To maximise the benefits of Z-NET for local suppliers ~ be they in the immediate region, NSW or elsewhere in Australia ~ an industry “match-making” program has been established in partnership with the Industry Capability Network ~a business network that connects companies to projects and is funded by the NSW Government through NSW Trade and Investment.

The free program enables suppliers to be added to the Z-NET supplier register:

  1. Register your organisation via the ICN online at gateway.icn.org.au
  2. Email Klaus Baumgartel | ICN and Adam Blakester | Starfish Initiatives that you are interested
  3. Once registered, suppliers will be notified of of Z-NET packages for supply as and when they come up.

ICN

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The Environment (2)

About 50% of Australia’s carbon pollution is from electricity generation, primarily from our use of coal. Uralla being 100% renewable takes a practical step for a community in reducing its pollution and demonstrates important leadership for other communities to follow.

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Firewood can be considered a renewable resource if certain criteria regarding replenishment of the wood stock are met, biodiversity is maintained and the carbon cycle is balanced.

There is a high use if wood heating in Uralla. The project team is investigating exactly what this would mean in view of a the high level of reliance on fallen trees for firewood and with the knowledge that this is a diminishing resource. The blueprint will investigate opportunities to improve sustainable management of firewood.

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The Cost (3)

It depends. How much we pay is driven by both the unit cost and how much we use. The current unit cost of electricity supply is made up of the cost to produce (generation), the cost to transport (network costs that cover transmission and distribution) and the cost to service (retail). While renewable energy may in cases have higher generation costs these are continuing to reduce dramatically and the global market grows. Renewable energy also has the potential to avoid transport and retail costs eg. solar on our roof means we offset the need to pay network costs for the energy we use onsite. How much we use is also key, increasing our efficiency means that we can use less and take control of our costs. ZNET is focusing investigation on options which are cost competitive with existing energy sources.

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Overall equity will be an important consideration in any business model explored. The cost of funding solar PV up front is prohibitive for some people. There are however funding mechanisms that exist and can be further explored through the development of the blue print and business case that can allow low income earners to participate, such as leasing to buy (where you lease out your roof and own the system after approximately 10 years).

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The question of whether there is cross subsidy of solar houses from those without is a complex one. Access to the electricity grid is a public good, in the same way that a road provides access to all (despite the fact that some drive more than others). There are many imbalances in how much reliance on the grid individual households have including air conditioning use at peak times, distance from infrastructure and in some cases whether or not you have solar.

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The Grid (2)

Not necessarily, being connected to the existing grid would allow Uralla to import energy at times when local supply did not meet demand or export surplus energy to other users. There are significant technical, financial and regulatory factors to consider when determining the best way to transport [and store] renewable electricity and Z-NET provides an important opportunity to bring together key stakeholders and consider solutions that are feasible, viable and desirable. The process will model a range of scenarios – one of which will explore the potential for going off-grid.

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Currently, the majority of our electricity is generated from large coal fired power stations and then transported across long distances through our transmission network (high voltage) and then delivered through a distribution network (low voltage) to where we use it in our homes and businesses. Over the last century this centralised energy approach has provided secure and affordable energy that has served our communities and economy well. However, the impact of climate change associated with burning fossil fuels and changes in technology mean that local renewable generation opportunities in combination with our existing network infrastructure are increasingly being looked to as part of the solution.

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How To (5)

There is an excellent resource here.

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Depending on the commercial tenancy status some energy efficiency upgrades will be difficult for renters of premises to undertake without landlord participation. Measures that relate to fittings (e.g. lights) however are generally the responsibility of tenants and behaviour change can provide opportunities for significant savings.

There are some alternative agreements or financing models that may help overcome these barriers, and these will be highlighted through the ZNET Blueprint and Business Case.

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There are many ways in which renters can undertake energy efficiency measures that do not require landlord input or permission, including light changeovers in most cases, appliance upgrades or renewals and behaviour changes. Any broad initiative that the business plan recommends will take into account the need to target landlords for building upgrades.

There are some alternative agreements or financing models that may help overcome these barriers, and these will be highlighted through the ZNET Blueprint and Business Case.

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There is a high degree of wood heating in Uralla, but this is being challenged by increasing cost and lack of a long term renewable and sustainable supply. Wood heating is a particular focus of the project. Depending on the cost of firewood to you (whether you have your own supply) and given the absence of reticulated gas in the town, the alternative is electricity where a high efficiency split system combined with well-insulated roofs and walls can be a very cost effective option. For some tips on heating and cooling visit the Positive Charge website – http://www.positivecharge.com.au/home-energy-savings/heating_cooling/

The Australian Government your home publication also has some excellent heating information. http://www.yourhome.gov.au/.

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There are many ways that people without access to the internet can access the project. The main community feedback mechanisms such as the community events are direct engagement and the energy survey and Uralla’s energy mix activity are available in hard copy on request in recognition of those without internet access – local ZURG members are available to assist. The project has also been referenced in print media and on local radio.

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