Hurricane-proof Homes and Australian Green Politics

A concrete house causes a stir in Denver whilst Energy investors swerve Australia…

A Washington-based college team has impressed at an American environmental competition this year by exhibiting their hurricane-proof, solar-powered home. 

The dubiously named, Solar Decathalon, kicked off this October with 9 teams from American colleges (and two from Europe) looking to impress with the their full-size constructions of their solar-powered house, which they have designed and built themselves. This is the fifteenth year of the biennial competition, which sees the competition wing its way to Denver Colorado from the 5th-15th October and this year plays host to teams from as far as the Netherlands and Switzerland.

CRETE house, the name given to the Washington University-St. Louis team have caused a stir by exhibiting their storm-ready house, a concrete built home built with sustainability and resilience in mind. Construction manager Ethan Miller said that “it’s going to be withstand any disaster, even up to tornado force winds.” With large parts of the US and Puerto Rico still reeling from the effects of the recent storms, this example of sturdier building could not have come at more poignant time.

The competition was originally conceived as not just a competition, but an opportunity for students to learn valuable lessons in the applications of clean-energy technologies, efficient design and sustainability. Each team is tasked with developing a completely original design from the ground up and forces young students to work at a highly professional level, providing them with valuable experience in project development. The Decathlon has so far impacted over 18,000 participants which has also been held in other parts of the world, such as Spain Colombia and Dubai – Solar Decathalon Africa is planned for 2019 in Morocco.

Australia faces uphill energy battle, as politics gets in the way of investment

Although many envy the famous ‘Australian lifestyle’ of glorious sunshine, beers on the beach and massive BBQs, the country is still struggling to keep up in one important area: energy.

The country is one that has survived for a long time on a small number of coal plants, however many of these industrial sites are reaching the end of their 50 year life spans. Despite the growing pressure to solve Australia’s impending energy problems, the current government has failed to push through any decisive policies regarding the support of new renewable energy builds.

At a time when Australia should be an ideal point of investment for some of the biggest power firms in the world, the country sits in a murky political quagmire which has made potential investors uneasy over dipping the initial toe. Reports from both the Climate Council and law firm Pinsent Masons have confirmed that 90% of energy companies internationally are seeking new projects with companies that use smart green tech, like advanced vehicle-to-grid technology and smart meters. The refusal to push through any affirmative legislation in the Australian government has lead to uncertainty which has led these companies to invest their money elsewhere: Nordic countries have proven to be the most attractive prospects, thanks to their clear open policy on energy

If Australia hope to keep the lights on for the next 50 years, then they will need to find a way of changing the political response to these issues and lure back investors that have been put off with their cloudy stance on renewables.