by Steven Randall
Much has been said and written in recent years about the need to dispense with Fossil fuels - particularly coal and oil - and move our power generation to the Renewable Energy products such as wind and solar. While most people agree we need to take better care of our environment, the issues of conversation to renewable sources of energy are many and complex. How fast CAN WE change over, or is complete conversion even possible with the technology of the near future.
Coal is the key, low cost energy source most used by current generators for electric power generation. Australia currently is the largest coal exporter in the world, pushing out about 390 million tons of Thermal and Coking coal every year. Coking coal is used in steel production, so there is not much more to be said about that.
The coal industry employs approximately 200,000 people a year in Australia, and many more indirectly. So these workers and families have to be considered in the alternatives to coal useage.
Here are a few interesting facts on the development of Renewable Energy in this country...
2010 ... RE accounted for 12.5% of all power generated. Mostly Hydro-electric .
2012 ... RE accounted for 13.5% of generation. Slow but steady growth, and some wind power plus a little solar.
2015... RE has exploded, and accounts for 18% of Australia's power generated.
The leap forward in technology in this field has been profound, and so Australia is making very large movement forward in the field, enabling us to make a steady transition towards sustainable energy.
Plants such as the AGL Solar Farm at Nyngan will produce over 100 MW of electric power, and have been possible because of large advances in solar tech.
Also starting to move forward are the co-location of solar farms in conjunction with established wind farms; this is bringing in a whole new dimension of efficiency and reliability - some Renewable Energy has not been noted for in the past.
Kennedy Energy park in North Queensland is set to become one of the giants of Renewable Energy in Australia, with a combination of Wind farm, very large Solar plant,, and a very significant Lithium Battery storage system. This technology will ultimately provide over 1300 MW of power
Recent events in South Australia with the partial failure of the power grid, point not as some people suggest to the failure of Renewable Energy,, but perhaps to the need for more to be done to build our power grids to be able to cope with the combination of conventional power and Renewable Energy.
As we progress towards the ultimate phasing out of coal and other fossil fuels, the use of Liquified Natural Gas ( LNG ) is also coming into the mix as potentially a "Bridge fuel "" until RE can become more available. The issues of technology, ,social stability and costs are just a few of the things we will continue to grapple with...
But Australia is making steady progress towards a sustainable fuels and energy future.
Business Maps Australia invites you to watch this space for the publication of the unique new map that provides a comprehensive listing of Australian Renewable Energy projects, that contains the details of over 180 key projects currently planned or operational in the national power grid...
This new map will be available in late January...