It’s widely accepted that we cannot create usable energy from non-renewable sources indefinitely. Energy providers are aware of this and offer various plans and energy buy back services for those wanting to put their hand in their pockets and invest in renewable energy. So how can we generate energy from the earth’s renewable sources? Below is a quick round up of the types of renewable energy being created in Australia.
Bioenergy is generated from biomass by either creating heat, or directly producing fuel. Biomass is biological material from living, or recently living matter. This can include waste materials, such as wood, gases, and alcohol fuels. More recently the industry had grown around using plant sources such as sugar cane, corn and hemp.
To be considered biomass the waste product cannot have been removed from the carbon cycle for a long time, so coal and other fossil fuels are not considered biomass.
Most bioenergy production relies on burning biomass and releasing heat which is turned into electricity. In Australia, bioenergy accounts for 1% of total energy production, and 11% of renewable energy.
Everyone knows the earth is hot at its core, very hot, and heat holds energy. This heat can be harnessed by either extracting hot water from rocks under the surface, or pumping cold water down into hotter areas to return hot water. This generates steam, turning turbines and producing power – this is the basic principal behind geothermal energy.
It was originally thought that Australia was a poor candidate for Geothermal energy, however the last decade has shown there are many opportunities for utilising geothermal systems here.
This renewable energy source uses the power of moving water to generate power. In 2010, Australia had over 100 hydroelectric power stations, however due to the constraints in water availability, all opportunities have likely been realised.
Still in the early stages of development in Australia, ocean energy has potential for future power generation. There are three main ways to harness the power from the ocean, namely wave energy, tidal energy and ocean thermal energy.
Most of us have seen panels on a neighbour’s roof, or heard tales about making money from selling power back to the grid. Either generating power by converting the sun energy into useful heat, or using photovoltaic cells to directly generate electricity, solar power is set for future expansion. With the highest average solar radiation per square meter of any country, Australia is well placed to harness the power of the sun.
Wind energy accounts for only around 0.2% of Australian primary energy production. It therefore may be surprising to hear that Australia has some of the world’s best wind resources along the southern east and west regions.
A fast growing industry in Australia, wind energy has potential to provide renewable power to many Australian homes in years to come.