News in brief: Solar chimneys, green steel and a win for active transport in NSW

Photo by Karan Bhatia on Unsplash

Researchers in Melbourne are testing a new solar chimney that could cut energy use in half and possibly save lives in the event of a building fire.

The chimney, developed by RMIT University and the City of Kingston, is designed to bring in fresh air while expelling smoke, extending building evacuation time from two to fourteen minutes.

Fire safety measures are just the latest addition to the already proven solar chimneys, which heat and cool buildings using clean energy.

“Delivering on two important functions could boost the already strong cost-effectiveness of this sustainable technology,” RMIT researcher Dr Long Shi said.

“We hope our findings will inspire more investment and development of solar chimneys in Australia, and around the world.”

The chimney will be tested at the new Mentone Reserve Pavilion in Kingston, a southeast Melbourne suburb.

Green steel’s massive potential

A new report from the Grattan Institute highlights the job creating, emissions reducing potential of using Australia’s plentiful wind and solar resources to manufacture energy-intensive commodities, such as steel.

This eco-friendly steel is manufactured using renewably generated hydrogen instead of metallurgical coal, reducing the amount of iron required. With its abundant sun and wind, Australia is a prime spot for renewably generated hydrogen at a fraction of the price.

According to the researchers, capturing about 6.5 per cent of the global steel market would generate about $65 billion in annual export revenue and could create 25,000 manufacturing jobs in Queensland and NSW.

4D model outlines sustainable urbanisation

A four-dimensional model of Braddon, a suburb of Canberra, could hold the key to assessing environmental impacts and sustainable development across the city.

CSIRO researchers developed the model depicting Braddon’s “urban metabolism,” showing the suburb’s land use over time and the environmental impacts created by urbanisation, both through development and demolition.

According to CSIRO’s study, large scale refurbishment or demolition of Braddon’s historic buildings would release 9000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions, a social cost of $445,000.

By expanding the model across the city, researchers hope to better inform planning decisions that minimise carbon emissions from refurbishment and recover previously wasted materials from demolition.

More cycles and walkways in post-COVID NSW

Following calls to provide more space to pedestrians and cyclists to allow people to safetly social distance, the NSW government unveiled its new $15 million scheme to expand public spaces as part of its COVID-19 strategy.

Local councils can apply for up to $100,000 on immediate projects such as creating new cycle paths and widening walkways, and up to $1 million on long term plans.

With activities sorely limited due to the pandemic, urban design has proven ill-equipped to deal with the demand for safe, accessible public spaces.

By investing in these small-scale projects, the government hopes to encourage outdoor exercise and essential travel while maintaining social distance.

Australian IT company joins RE100

Interactive, Australia’s largest privately-owned IT services company, announced its acceptance into RE100, a group of international companies committed to reaching 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025.

This marks a significant leap for Interactive Australia, a company that uses large amounts of power for its cloud management, hardware maintenance, business continuity and data centre services.

“By joining RE100, Interactive is aligned with 230 major companies globally who are leading the way on corporate climate action,” RE100’s Australian coordinator Jon Dee said.

“This decision by Interactive sends a strong signal to the market that Australian businesses back clean energy.”

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Comments

3 Responses to “News in brief: Solar chimneys, green steel and a win for active transport in NSW”

  • Albert Ratcliffe says:

    By calling it “green steel” we are doing the steel manufacturers job of re-branding steel as environmentally friendly – it’s green-wash. Just because it uses a less polluting energy source doesn’t mean it isn’t still highly environmentally damaging.

  • Rick Walters says:

    Not wanting to be a party-pooper but green steel is VERY challenging for Australia for many reasons, but it offers immense potential so it certainly should be considered. Amongst the reasons (and there are many more):
    – Australia (fortunately) has high wages and manufacturing typically has a substantial labour component (otherwise we wouldn’t be plugging the jobs potential would we)?
    – Australia has been historically abismal at R&D both by government and even more so by the private sector. This requires a massive injection to even get near what the Germans and Swedes are doing. Without this we would never be competitive.
    – Australian manufacturing companies are small (on a global scale), lack talent and budget capacity. They can’t compete with the multi-national steel companies.
    – Australia’s best minds have been captured by other industries like mining and finance. The salaries and lack of prestige on offer in manufacturing are not going to change this any time soon.
    – Steel making innovation in Australia is littered with expensive and difficult failures (google HBI and Hismelt)
    All of these barriers can be overcome but there needs to be a coordinated and consistent long term effort!

  • Peter says:

    Green steel, love it!!
    I have been talking about this for years and years, it’s a no brainer. The potential for this country in this form of steel manufacturing would make us very wealthy and some what a power house. I am sure that country’s like China, Japan or Korea would be already doing this.

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