Aussie’s Renewable Revolution
By Will Sandford
As the climate changes and fossil fuels become scarcer, renewable energy is becoming an important link in our current and future lives. In fact, industries that focus on green technology, renewable energy, energy storage and all things “green” are some of the fastest growing industries in the world. Due to many factors, Australia has the potential to become the leader in green energy, especially solar and wind. Let’s see what Australia is doing to stay at the top and how.
What seems to be the problem?
In a couple of years, almost half of the Australia’s coal plants will be 40 years old, which means they will be ready for replacement and retirement. The age of these plants is not the problem in itself, it’s their inefficiency. This means that Australia will produce more and more pollution in order to get energy. Right now, Australia is one of the 20 biggest emitters in the world from electricity and heat production.
On the other hand, Australia’s weather is affecting the grid. In 2016, the country was hit with a strong storm that damaged electricity transmission infrastructure and left 1.7 million people in the dark. And frequent heatwaves are putting incredible pressure on the network causing power outages. So, while Australia has potential to become an energy superpower, right now, its grid is not in the best shape.
How can solar help in a crisis?
Solar panels on rooftops actually helped people get power back on sooner during the 2017 blackouts. Statistics show that around 2.8 percent of Australia’s total electricity comes from small-scale solar, which doesn’t sound like much, but it actually greatly affects the grid. Thanks to solar, the peak of demand was about 7% lower thanks to solar power, which reduced the number of people who had to be cut off for load shedding.
Queensland – the leader in the green revolution
Why are people going green?
Many people in Australia see solar as an opportunity to manage their energy use and control their constantly-rising energy bills. For instance, the people of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide are paying almost double the price for power than ten years ago. This is just one of the reasons people opt for rooftop solar. The other is the fact that the cost of installing such a system has never been lower. The price plummeted from $9-per-watt installation to as low as $1.60! That’s about 80% decrease in installation costs only in the last decade. Additionally, with the development of batteries such as Tesla Powerwall 2 with a capacity of 13.5KW, you can collect the power during the day and use it later. These batteries are especially attractive to Australian people who have frequent problems with the ageing and overloaded utility infrastructure, since battery backup can save enough energy for you to use in a day-long crisis.
There are options for you to sell the electricity you generate at home back to the energy market. This attractive deal is now a thing of the past, which is what might be causing the current hold in solar rooftop technologies. However, energy prices from the supplier are still very high, and solar manages to pay off. People who have solar panels on their homes still profit, even if the generated energy is just for their personal use. However, experts predict that Australia could experience a boom in solar panels for businesses.
All in all, Australia and the whole world could strongly benefit from renewable energy and energy storage solutions in multiple ways. Green energy means less pollution, lower utility bills and less dependence on energy providers. All countries could look up to Australia and invest in sustainable energy for the benefit of its people and environment.
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