Oranges: Winter sunshine!

27 07 2008

Yesterday was one of those gorgeous sunshiny days we get in winter—very little heat in the sun, but the light was glorious, and the air was clear. Time to prune the grapevine and the wild rose bush down the back…

And time to pick some more lemons (I’m giving nearly all of them to the pub at the moment—there’s way too many for me to deal with and I don’t want them rotting on the ground), and some oranges. Last year, the oranges were pretty pathetic—small, dry, sour and not worth peeling to eat. But something’s happened this year. They’re much bigger, sweeter, and juicy. Maybe it’s our natural ecosystem…

So I picked a bag full, then cut and juiced some 20 of them straight away. That fresh orange juice was like nectar from the gods! Talk about ‘low food miles’! These had come from less than 20 metres away and were juiced within about 15 minutes of being picked. I juiced a few too many and thought the juice would be nice this morning, but it was starting to go acidic and tart, just like the 100% orange juice you buy in containers, which I don’t like. So next time, I’ll just juice enough to have now, and juice more as I need them.

Photo-voltaic cells

27 07 2008

We’d like to incorporate photo-voltaic cells in our new house, if and when we ever build it (the stock market meltdown and the direct effect of that on our retirement funds have put all plans on hold…). Why? Well, the thought of not being 100% reliant on an external power supply is the main reason, then there are the carbon footprint/green reasons.

When we first saw these systems, we were impressed. But not impressed with the approximately $20,000 price at the time. Then we found that the Federal Government offered a substantial rebate to householders who decided to install them (somewhere between $8000 and $12000), making them much more affordable.

But since then we’ve had a change of federal government, to one that rode the coat tails of ‘being green’ to get into power. The same government that now wants to commit Australian companies to a draconian Emissions Trading Scheme (don’t get me started…). Anyhow, this new ‘green’ government has decided to apply a ‘means test’ to photo-voltaic cell systems for households, so you only get a partial rebate if your household earns less than $100,000 per year. Well, you only need two income earners on $51,000 a year each and you’re already over that mark.

My understanding is that the whole idea of these household systems is twofold:

  • to make homeowners partially self-sufficient for their electricity supply
  • to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions required to create and deliver electricity.

Now, if the federal government is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions created by producing and delivering electricity, then it should be doing everything in its power to get these solar cells on to every Australian rooftop. That doesn’t mean bringing in a means test for the rebate! It means subsidising the industry (gee, that’s a dirty word these days) to the point where the price is such that purchasing and installing such a product is as cheap as buying a new TV. It means making a serious difference in the way that we use the one unlimited and free resource we have plenty of—sunshine! It means looking at the small things (like photo-voltaic cells on rooftops) as well as the big ones (the proposed solar array installations that will cost billions of dollars, take up massive amounts of land, yet only service about 50,000 households).

Anyhow, if you live in Australia and feel as pissed off annoyed about this change to the rebate conditions as I do, then head on over and sign the petition organised by the Channel 7 “Sunrise” team. So far there are nearly 50,000 signatures. Maybe yours can make a difference.

You can add your name to the petition here: