As always, I am writing my column this week to explore an area of technology. As an added bonus today, I am acting as a marriage counsellor. I want to use technology to help, just ever so slightly, the plight of married couples everywhere.
One issue that can be the death of a marriage is disagreement over seemingly simple things. Who is taking the garbage out, who is doing the dishes and have you mowed the lawn yet.
Well that last one I can help you with – and help save the planet at the same time.
It was way back in 2011 that I bought my first robotic lawnmower. It was revolutionary! I have a wonderful wife but come the weekends, she was suddenly full of advice as to when I should mow the lawn. Once my robotic lawnmower arrived, I suddenly had my weekends back and my wife no longer had any reason to ask when the lawn would be mowed. Twice a week my robotic lawnmower would automatically mow the lawn and then dock itself when completed.
As an added bonus, it was also a further step down the path of decarbonisation of my home.
The terms decarbonisation and net zero were not in our vernacular last century but when I built our home in 1999, I was planning for a future that is our modern reality.
I had several arguments with our builder about my determination not to connect to the gas lines in our street. Natural gas had been run through our neighbourhood therefore I should connect and use that for cooking and heating my house and hot water. The idea of piping a flammable gas throughout my house and burning it was abhorrent to me so I instead used electricity for all those needs.
I am almost embarrassed to admit that it took until 2010 before a 10kW solar system was installed and then, after my robotic lawnmower, I set about replacing all my petrol appliances with battery equivalents. Line trimmer; garden blower; chainsaw; pressure washer. Then, after owning a variety of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles since 2006, the full EV replaced my plug-in hybrid vehicle in 2015.
Some friends of mine laugh at me when I tell them I am helping save the planet. “What good is replacing your petrol lawn mower going to do in helping climate change?” is a common question. I have always said that the combined effect, if we all took that approach, would be incredible.
Renewable electricity advocate Dr Saul Griffith has done the numbers.
100 million is the headline number. If we are going to electrify everything in our homes and decarbonise them completely, it will involve the replacement of 100 million devices. Wood and gas heating and gas hot water systems. Petrol garden appliances. And petrol cars, of course. And, being completely pragmatic about it, don’t replace all those appliances and devices immediately but as they wear out or you need to replace them. That is the time to choose carbon-friendly devices. If my household has been decarbonised for many years, there is no reason you can’t also be part of the solution. The challenge is simply one of a desire to change. On the production side, there are 10.9 million households in Australia with 7.6 million of those as separate houses. If all of those houses installed just a 5kW solar system, that is the equivalent of a 38GW power plant or a system 13 times larger than Australia’s largest coal-fired plant at Eraring.
Tell me if you are ready to electrify everything at firstname.lastname@example.org