Soap Box Saturday: Change

Notice the rooftops of these apartment buildings in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. They are covered in solar hot water units.

Kunming rooftops.
Kunming rooftops.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the ways in which the Chinese are embracing change: in fact, Kunming’s initiatives in the solar industry field made a huge impact on me. It removed all those stereotypical views one might hold about China, overcrowding and pollution. They are working on change at a rapid rate.

Australia is a land of plentiful sunshine whose political leaders are backward in accepting change. This happens at the Federal, State and local government level. All have their heads in the sand, even those who purport to be Green. Our local councils could be leaders in change, by insisting that all new inner city developments and apartment blocks include solar features.

Solar Power in Kunming
Solar Power in Kunming

In the photo below, the dedicated motorbike and bike lane is sectioned off from the other traffic. I wandered down these wide boulevards and was not aware of the any motorbike noise or pollution: I then observed that they were all electric.

Orderly traffic in the centre of the city: electrric bikes, buses
Orderly traffic in the centre of the city: electric bikes, buses

 Worth quoting from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunming#Solar_energy

In July 2008, Kunming began to implement a program to transform the city’s solar energy industry into a US$8.8 billion industrial base in China by 2013. Kunming receives an annual average sunshine of more than 2,400 hours. Each 1 kW PV system has the potential to generate 1500 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year from solar energy.

The government plans to put in place policies (low-interest loans, tax exemption and other concessions or subsidies) and a fund to encourage private sector participation in the city’s solar energy-based infrastructure development. The fund, which will be included in the municipal government’s annual budget, will particularly finance LED for public lighting, solar projects, and the propagation of energy saving projects.

As of 2007, the Kunming Economic Committee listed about 130 solar energy enterprises in the city. Of these, 118 enterprises produce solar lamps and solar water heaters, with a combined total production value of about US$43.8 million, and 10 enterprises are engaged in solar photovoltaic cells manufacturing, with a total production value of about US$51.2 million.

24 thoughts on “Soap Box Saturday: Change”

  1. “France just passed a trailblazing new law that requires that all new buildings constructed in commercial areas to be partially-covered by either solar panels or green roofs. Not only will this bring dramatic changes to the nation’s skylines and bolster the efficiency of all new commercial construction, but the law will help France pick up the pace the solar adoption—which has lagged behind other European nations in recent years.

    Read more: France requires all new buildings to have green roofs or solar panels | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building ”
    Green rooftops probably not a solution in Aus, due to fire risk, but solar panels, and solar hot water should be encouraged.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, there is one apartment development in Brunswick that has admirable green features. If one, why not more? Pressure should be applied to local government planning departments to put these practices into common usage.
      If China and France, why not Australia?

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  2. Funnily enough, I heard a report this morning on the BBC about the pollution in China and how it is reported on daily, just as we have the weather report. People cannot go outside some days, for fear of breathing in deadly micro particles. Same report talked about ‘the bubble’ that is the solar initiative in China… and how the Chinese dump cheap product in other countries. You might find the report I listened to on the BBC World Service web site, if you’re interested. x

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    1. I am sure things are really awful in some cities- especially Beijing and Shanghai. This story was about Kunming, a large city in the West of China, a city that is not really on the world radar. I guess any initiative is better than none, although Kunming’s green approach remains strong.
      I’ll have a listen to the report, sounds interesting. Air pollution it is a feature of Chinese life and their awareness of it might make them more ready to seek solutions.
      Cheap product dumping is a global phenonema.

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  3. Solar panels on the roof are a great initiative so long as there are not too many on the roof making them ugly. I think for your hot water they are essential for the future. Francisca, you should stand for Federal Parliament – you would do well. It’s still not too late.

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      1. Yes well I think wind turbines are ugly – he’s right – but maybe, just maybe, they might be necessary. I saw so many of them in Europe they were a blight on the landscape. I don’t mind a few solar panels on the roof though – no more than four. That’s how I honestly feel about them.

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        1. Can’t generate much power with four panels Chris. I personally don’t look at roofs much, but when I see them with solar panels, I am green with envy, especially if they have lots.
          I guess it comes down to understanding the urgency of the problem of global warming.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Granted, four won’t generate much power but it would heat the water up. One of Terry’s old colleagues from his work at Minenco was reported in the newspaper as having to tear his solar panels down last week by the Moonee Valley City Council as they were not approved because he lives in a Heritage Area. You have to be a bit careful about these things – not everyone likes the ambience of them. xx

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            1. I see them as an ‘attractive’ asset. Moreland Council, with its wealth of heritage buildings, has made by- laws concerning preservation: solar panels on the roofs of Victorian era houses fortunately are very acceptable. I am not sure about Terrry’s friend and the situation you refer to.

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  4. What concerns me about solar panels is their not their attractiveness (nor that lf wind turbines but they’re not yet in my backyard) but the business behind them. For solar panels to not have a negative environmental impact detracting from the positive the businesses need to factor sustainability into the profitability practices. Good article here http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/11/141111-solar-panel-manufacturing-sustainability-ranking/.
    Solar panels on the downside are yet another big appliance which will eventually have to be recycled. At the moment I’d consider Australian made for hot water, but there’s only one manufacturer, yet another good link http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2013/5/9/solar-energy/murky-side-australian-solar-panels. However, our primary aim is decreasing consumption through setting our house up energy efficiently. One aspect of is our garden which while not on the roof, surrounds the house.
    I love buildings with green roofs and walls, and they are becoming more and more evidenced in Sydney since “The City of Sydney has recently adopted the first ever green roof and walls policy for Australia under the Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan”.
    I believe many local councils have environmental requirements for new buildings but for existing there needs to be encouragement also like the govt’s roof insulation scheme which had good effect in some ways but was poorly executed in others.

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  5. The Building Industry here is full of people only interested in making the biggest profit possible on a house, not putting in quality inclusions which would make your house comfortable … shame on them. For instance, brick walls should be double brick – more like the houses in WA built to UK standards. In a country like Australia temperatures tend to be extreme at times as you know so why not build houses properly requiring less heating in winter and less airconditioning in summer? Cost will be the answer but it’s false economy because you spend more on energy bills than on a few more bricks. In Korea, most houses have hot water pipes running underneath their floors. This water could be heated with solar panels providing free heating to the house. Now I would be over the moon and wouldn’t mind solar panels then.

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    1. Thanks Julie. To think that Australia was an initiator of the power industry years ago, and let it all to, first to Germany, then China.
      When we camp, we take a small potable panel with us- it charges a fridge, our phone, the laptop and other gadgets. Too easy.
      Yes, New Zealand has enough sun in the North island to power some of he larger towns.
      Alice Springs is 50% solar now. Just to think of all those carpark roofs, factory roofs, supermarket roofs- all could be giant collectors to run their aircon and manufacturing.

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