Renewables, anyone?

A non-exhaustive list of what to consider for 'Appropriate Technology' design. Note that it's difficult to prioritise design principles as emphasis on each principle will vary depending on the technology. It's hard to imagine that any single technology would tick all the boxes:

The 12 Permaculture Principles

Pattern Dynamics

Ecological sustainability



'Small is beautiful' (big can be beautiful too...)





Cultural need/sensitivity

Commercial viability




STEM (?'Fact' eg. How long is a piece of string?)

Science-Art 'Philosophy'

Energy footprint
Carbon footprint
Water footprint
Chemical footprint
Ethics (?'Faith' eg. 1987 Brundtland Report definition for Sustainability)
Creates green collar jobs ('Green Economics')

Local supply chains, production and deployment
High standards eg.Solar Impulse Foundation

Ease of maintenance








Ease of operation


Cogeneration opportunities

Transparency (eg.political, corporate, dashboards for sensors et al)


Rugged (depending on the application)

Lightweight (good for mobile applications and also good for logistics)

'Green' materials (eg. 'Green steel', biochar-based biocomposites, bamboo, hemp et al)

High energy density (for energy carriers/fuels and storage)

Solid state (no moving parts...moving parts add to wear and tear and maintenance.  Also shortens life cycle eg. liquid electrolytes in batteries)

Minimal use of electronics (often difficult to analyse and fix - also need a power source. The Unpowered Measured Irrigation Controller (UMIC) is a great example of using no electronics to irrigate)

Recyclability/Reusability at the end of life cycle


We need to turn the 'possible' into the 'probable'...just need to commit to R&D, rebates, VC and many, if not all, of the principles mentioned above...

Using Permaculturist Tim Winton's 80/20 principle (The first 80% of work for 20% of the effort, the last 20% of work for 80% of the effort):
80% renewables by 2025 (the low hanging fruit)
100% renewables by 2030 (the hard stuff)

Overall 'average' mix at the 2030 'End Game', could look approximately like this:

NOTE: These percentages will vary when comparing 'Stationary Power' and mobile/'Non-Stationary' power


35% 'Green Hydrogen' (+ ideally 'Green Ammonia' combined with biochar for agronomy applications) - via Solar electrolysis/micro-electrolysis (or via Cyanobacteria, (synthetic) micro-algae, Microbial Electrolysis Cells (MECs))-> Hydrogen storage and Hydrogen fuel cells = stationary and mobile power.

Also see previous blogs 'An appropriate technology Renaissance?', 'A 'Green economics' for the future?' and 'Micro-electrolysis for Hydrogen fuel production'. Can also be produced from excess power on the grid.

30% solar PV with solid state batteries when they're commercially available eg. Samsung, ?Ozzie designed and manufactured (without needing precious elements such as Silver for the electrodes), for hybrid ('Virtual Power Plants') or standalone (for remote application/energy sovereignty/freedom). Stationary and mobile power.

15% wind (where available in abundance - we're almost up to 10% of total power supply in Australia - there's probably more sites out there but moving parts increase wear and tear and maintenance) - stationary power.
10% biomass (can use various sustainable feedstocks resulting in biochar production as cogeneration which can plug into the rest of the economy to de/re-carbonise it - see 'The biochar economy' page. Can be used for combined heat and power (CHAP or CHP) eg.Power Pallet PP30, ECHO2, primary power or backup generation. Stationary and mobile power. Possible cogen options with TLUD stoves and the Kon-Tiki 'Rolls' too. 50 million bucks seed funding for biomass technologies from ARENA maybe?
5% Concentrated Solar Thermal (CST) with Ammonia/Molten salt/other storage. Stationary power.

5% Other. The mind boggles. Some already commercialised eg.Stirling engines (external combustion engines), some at the prototype stage eg. micro-hydro HELLIOGREEN tech, Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs), some (maybe) at the lab stage of R&D eg.air batteries,  biophotovoltaics (eg.Cyanobacteria, micro-algae) and some completely unknown/undiscovered. In reality, this percentage could be much higher in the future. Maybe we'll discover an even 'greener' solar/? energy source that ticks all the boxes of Apptech.

What shouldn't have a future...'Faith' in the Principle of 'Technology Neutrality'...

choice of technology should at least be based on 'Faith' of the less politically biased principles outlined above for Apptech. Note also that choice of guiding design principles will always be a compromise...who said technology design was politically neutral? Reality should be a choice.
-Natural gas: Never going to be ecologically sustainable. We don't need new natural gas infrastructure eg. Fracking, large pipelines, backup generators
-Coal...brown coal H2 gasification, CCS (WTF!) Time wasting and expensive - don't even bother with microalgae. Rebranded coal is still ecologically unsustainable), metallurgical coal (can use Hydrogen for Iron Ore reduction)
-Oil (with the classic car and motorbike exemption - of course) - we're beyond 'Peak Oil' - get over it. Replacing the last remaining petrol or diesel combustion engines will probably fall in the last 10% of work.

Maybe use bio substitution with biodiesel made from seawater microalgae (lipids) fed with CO2 from cement factories in situ and the remaining microalgae biomass is biocharred (with CHP for the factory) and added to concrete along with the cement, (less) crushed stone and sand (See 'Burn: Using Fire to Cool the Earth' book for more info). Not sure about petrol other than ethanol addition made from, say, sugarcane bagasse or microalgae. The debate is still out about what is a safe level of ethanol in petrol that doesn't damage the engine.
-Large-scale hydroelectric dams eg. Snowy Hydro 2.0 (read the final 'World Commission on Dams' report - link provided below)

-Nuclear - small that will reduce the toxic waste and 'security' issue


Now what?
Goodbye 20th century Second Industrial Revolution!
Hello 21st Century Third (?Fourth) Green Industrial Revolution...distributed, decentralised and local peer-to-peer power production on demand...

This diagram was shamelessly poached from the Australian Fed Gov latest technology roadmap report on technologies for 'reducing' or 'Curbing' Carbon emissions in Australia. I'm also studying data science. It's easy to get lost in all the latest tech. Why bother making a fancy diagram that's difficult to read if you're going to place natural gas, nuclear and coal with CCS at the centre of 'future' energy transformation/transition policy anyway?

Another area to think about is to what extent should the Government have control over the renewables plugged into the grid. For example, if we're going to build a future grid based on (1/3?) Hydrogen production, consumption and exports, should there be minimum supply agreements/guarantees to ensure we have enough Hydrogen to meet Australian demand? Also, would there be priority demand areas that could produce and supply Hydrogen to consumers? Would companies in these priority areas get Government capital/subsidies - like we've done for fossil fuels for many years? OR...Micro-grids, which could plug into the Hydrogen supply chain or simply produce Hydrogen on site where the micro-grid is located via solar powered micro-electrolysis, which is only going to become more affordable as the technology improves and is deployed in more places.


Finally, any stimulus for the COVID-19 recovery should be 'Green'. The Brits are doing it, the European Union is doing it and so should we in Australia. It's a "once in a lifetime opportunity". Maybe check out the link to ARENA below. There is "Over $3 billion in total combined project value when you account for private sector investment in the EOIs" for Green Hydrogen projects in Australia. So far ARENA has $70 million bucks - enough to buy a few meat pies. Wouldn't it be a wasted opportunity considering the Fed Gov has committed approximately $1.5 billion to the trans-Australia natural gas pipeline - quite an expensive and backward-looking White Elephant. In other words, maybe it's time for Australia to become energy independent using renewable apptech?



The promising future of microalgae: current status, challenges, and optimization of a sustainable and renewable industry for biofuels, feed, and other products
The promising future of microalgae: curr
Adobe Acrobat Document 2.0 MB

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