By Mark Swartz
Last Month Bjorn and I spend a couple for days gallivanting around Kandos and the surrounding areas trying to grasp how solar power is being used in town and on farms. We made some exciting discoveries!
On arrival we immediately caught up with Ric Simshauser, solar designer and installer, and established that between a Simshauser a Sturmberg and a Swartz, we might have a good team. Ric showed us the bigger picture of what is possible for Solar around Kandos and Rylstone with his vision of a Solar farm on the highway that can power part of town and serve as an Electric vehicle charging station for tourists passing through. It’s an amazing idea and hopefully with all our talk of solar and its incredible possibilities we can help plant the seeds for this in the future.
We paid a visit to the Kandos Museum and Bjorn spent a lot of time with the octopus DC converter. Afterwards we caught up with Alex and Christine to find out how people in town are using solar in conventional ways and to float our ideas with them.
On Sunday we spent the day driving around town to get the vibe and after seeing the old ropeway and concrete 1 tonne blocks by the side of the road we became inspired. The idea was to mount a solar panel and a winch to the top of a 1 tonne block, hang it from one of the ropeway structures, and use the sun’s rays to lift it during the day and, at night, allow it to fall under its own weight to create power. While I set my energy to figuring out how to make a 1tonne block look great, Bjorn did the calculations on how to make the power work.
This idea was met with varying interest, but we got the sense that most farmers we spoke to were already thinking on a much larger scale about solar. We caught up with Buzz Sanderson on Sunday who gave us a good run down of how farmers access and use power on their properties. He set us off in new directions with his interests in electric vehicles and solar opportunities for replacing fuel on properties.
With these ideas in mind we drove back east to Hartley to meet Hayden and Erika of Epicurean Harvest (here’s a great recent video about them). The creativity and ingenuity these two incorporate into their farming practice was really inspiring. After a relaxed walk through their paddocks one thing became clear to us, that this is all about water and how power and water are two key challenges they were facing.
We’re now synthesising how these ideas of electric vehicles, mobility of water across the paddock, solar and sculpture can all come together to hopefully challenge some of the conventional thinking around how water and power are managed on a property. Some pretty adventurous concepts are being exchanged via email with Erika and Hayden… but we’ll save that for the next post!