|May 13, 2013||Photograph by Megan Watson|
|Solar power: The Wauchope Solar team Heather and Stuart Watson, Scott and Louise Stevens, Gary and Sheridan Johnson, Nadine Rose and Neville Ramm prepare for the trip to Lord Howe Island.|
WORLD Heritage listed Lord Howe Island is starting its transformation from a dependence on diesel generators to sustainable solar power with help from Wauchope Solar.
The connections between the Hastings Valley and Lord Howe Island continue to grow.This began with direct flights and the supply ship, Island Trader, now operates between Port Macquarie and Lord Howe Island.
Port Macquarie's commercial wharf was officially opened in November 2009 and the business community of Port Macquarie has been encouraged to develop trading links with businesses on the island.
Wauchope Solar has done exactly that and is now on its third trip to the island for the next round of solar power installations.
The Lord Howe Island Board has been developing a plan with the help of CSIRO National Solar Energy Centre in Newcastle to minimise diesel consumption helping to make Lord Howe Island a showcase in environmental sustainability.
Wauchope Solar founder Stuart Watson said he had a great affinity with Lord Howe Island and had been impressing on the locals and the Lord Howe Island Board the benefits of renewable power on the island for the past 15 years.
"Now this dream is becoming a reality as the islanders embrace the opportunity to power their homes with solar," Mr Watson said.
Mr Watson hopes the Lord Howe Island example will inspire the mainland. He has been a long time supporter and proponent of the benefits of solar power and considers the future of solar generation to be huge.
|Photograph by Neville Ramm|
|A car fit for the Pope: Nadine Rose from Wauchope Solar and Lord Howe Island resident Rhonda Wilson enjoy driving on the island without the cost or fuel or engine noise.|
Lord Howe Island, the World Heritage Listed Island which lies 600kms directly east of Port Macquarie, has moved further towards a cleaner greener future with the arrival of a new electric vehicle. 'The pope mobile' as it has been nicknamed by locals is powered by sunshine!
Lord Howe Island residents Rhonda and Ed Wilsonare using the excess electricity which is being generated by their solar panels to charge their Neighbourhood Electric Vehicle(NEV). Rhonda and Ed said, "For a few years we got by without a car but there are times when you really do need a one on the island". They added, "Since purchasing the NEV last year we have had no fuel or mechanical bills, both of which are costly on the island".
Their car is a 4-door NEV manufactured by Ivtong, which is geared down to reach a maximum speed of 30km an hour. This is more than adequate for Lord Howe Island use as the speed limit on the island is is 25kmhr. There is 13kms of sealed roads and as fuel costs the islanders $ 2.80 a litre the car runs at a fraction of the cost of petrol or diesel powered vehicles.
Rhonda and Ed said "Though the initial outlay for solar panels and an E-car seemed expensive, we are pleased with the results and it is well worth the investment as we no longer have any costs associated with our power or car!" Despite this Rhonda notes that both she and her husband Ed, who is 80 years young, continue to ride their bikes when possible.
Rhonda and Ed purchased their solar installation from "Wauchope Solar" last year. "Wauchope solar" have recently completed their second round of solar installations on Lord Howe Island as part of an ongoing plan to introduce renewable energy on the Island and reduce its dependency on expensive and polluting fossil fuels.
Stuart Watson from Wauchope solar who also drives an electric commuter vehicle in and around Port Macquarie has congratulated Rhonda on her smart move. He said "I believe that appropriate low speed NEVs powered by the sun could eventually replace a lot of the fossil fuelled vehicles on the Island saving money and the environment. A special Island registration category to encourage lowspeed NEVs or converted electric utilityvehicles would be a great start!"
Rhonda's E-car is currently being processed on conditional registration .She noted that many other island residents have expressed their interest toward electric powered vehicles. Stuart Watson recognises the currentrange of electric cars available do not cater for all vehicle purposes on the island, such as guest transport, deliveries and waste depositing, and suggests the future of cars on the island may be one of conversion, "Vehicles presently on the island are able to be converted into electric powered vehicles and charged through solar generated power". Whilst it's still early days, the sound of an engine roar may soon be replaced with a much quieter hum of electric cars, enhancing the islands beauty once again.