In 2016 Australia's clean energy sector made some serious advancements with about 17% of the total energy being produced through renewable sources. Not only do Australia's hydroelectric plants make up for 42% of total renewable energy, but also the energy created by the wind makes about 31% of all clean energy. As for 2017, more than 35 projects were under construction which is worth well over $5 billion.
Australia is clearly shaping up to become one of the world leaders when it comes to clean energy and in this article, we'll take a look which are some of the best ways to avoid usage of already scarce fossil fuels.
The Potential of Solar Energy
Australia has one of the driest climates in the world. Extensive sunshine means that there's vast potential for Australia to produce solar powered energy. That said, currently, only about 2% of renewable energy comes from solar farms - which is why Australia is often criticized for not using the resource to its full potential. This is about to change in the future, as Australia is to build its largest solar plant in 2018 and plans on investing more in the solar energy department. South Australia leads the charge, as every fourth home in SA already has solar panels that power the house. If the trend continues, solar power is expected to grow by 11% every year for the next decade, which will significantly increase Australia's clean energy output.
While wind is already doing work for Australia's overall clean energy outcome, there's still room for growth. The current trend of creating offshore wind turbines, for example, can mean a lot for Australia and bring it closer to current renewable energy leaders like Germany. GE Renewable Energy has announced that they are developing the largest wind farm in Australia, consisting of 123 wind turbines that can power 260.000 average Australian homes. Wind farms in South Australia are contributing to 40% of the state's total clean energy outcome, while in Victoria the wind farms produce about 30%. Wind turbines are extremely cost-effective, as they only need 3 months to produce the energy that was spent on their construction, while their operational lifetime goes up to 25 years.
Almost half of Australia's total hydro output comes from Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme, with a capacity of about 3.800 MW. It was opened almost half a century ago, after being constructed for 23 years! Even though it's one of the largest hydro-electric schemes in the world, there are also over 100 operating hydropower plants in Australia - most of them located in areas with high elevation and rainfall. The potential of hydropower is recognized everywhere in the world and Australia's no exception, especially since it also holds great potential for storing energy through pumped hydro storages.
The states with most potential for further advancement in hydro-energy are Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales, which already create the most of Australia's hydro-energy.
Australia's had some difficulties in the past to become a recycling force like some European countries. But today, over 51% of all household waste is being recycled, which is more than majority of EU countries. This is quite an achievement, given that Australia has a dispersed population that needs to be navigated by waste services. Australian rubbish removal services state that plastic as the recycling resource of the future, and for a reason too - as plastic can be turned into fuel.
Some companies are even using landfill gas to further the Australian effort for clean energy. In fact, bioenergy makes up for about 1.5% of Australia's total energy production and there's still more room to grow in this area.
We've come to the point where fossil fuels are becoming scarce and every country that's looking after its industry is trying to switch to renewable energy sources. It's no longer possible to expect a large industrial boom with fossil fuels, which is why Australia has boarded the train and is currently investing heavily in clean energy production. Not only that, but the plastic waste in our oceans is threatening to completely change the ecosystem and change the world as we know it, which is why a joint effort is required to put a stop to it.
Climate change needs to be slowed down if we are to leave something behind us and the countries that are taking this problem seriously are the ones that stand the best chance at becoming world leaders in the future.