Global leaders in innovative designs
THE Australian renewable energy industry has a demonstrated track record in the delivery of competitively priced clean energy, and in innovative technology development. We lead the world in: Large- scale solar technology development. Heat exploration and cost- efficient geothermal energy techniques.
The sustainable management of water for hydro- electricity production.
The use of wind forecasting techniques and project design to increase output and reliability from wind power.
The significance of this innovation and the opportunities they present to Australia cannot be overestimated in a world where energy demand is escalating and the emissions from our reliance on fossil fuels must be reduced by at least 50 per cent in the next 40 years.
Australia now has the most cost- efficient solar power stations in the world operating in off- grid communities in central Australia.
The technology, developed by Melbourne company Solar Systems, will soon be deployed in a 154MW plant in northern Victoria. Solar Systems is also working with Boeing to bring satellite technology to on- ground applications, reducing costs and increasing efficiency. It is increasingly being acknowledged around the world as the most likely technology to produce the large scale cost reductions and increased power outputs required to mainstream solar technology.
Australia has recently been described in a report produced by a team of geologists from across the US and Europe as the world’s laboratory for the development of geothermal energy. The report’s lead author, Professor Jefferson Tester, is in Australia later this month to promote its findings to Australian policy makers.
Australia’s ancient geology contains some of the world’s hottest rocks. Our geothermal industry is pulling together our mining expertise to find the best heat- producing rocks and the hydrological expertise to efficiently circulate water from the surface through hot rocks kilometres below and back up again — and the energy industry is providing the expertise to efficiently drive turbines and generate baseload power above ground.
According to a federal government report produced in 1994, there’s enough heat underlying Australia’s centre to meet our energy needs for 7500 years. Nearly 20 companies are at various stages of the exploration, drilling and water circulation process to ultimately produce power. In the lead are Geodynamics and Petratherm, both expecting to be generating within the next few years.
The only question is, why has it taken so long for this industry to get the recognition its potential deserves?
Hydro- electricity has been supplying cost competitive power to the Australian market for a century, and we’ve learnt a lot about the sustainable use of water.
Millions of people still live without clean water or energy, and as the world struggles to meet their needs organisations such as the United Nations and the World Bank demand higher standards for the sustainable use of water in power generation and storage projects.
Australia’s experience has proudly underwritten the global standards through Hydro Tasmania’s production of the sustainability guidelines for hydropower developments.
Over the coming years, while the race is on to fully develop the technologies that the world will need to provide clean energy from geothermal, solar and clean fossil fuels, emissions from Australia’s and the world’s production of electricity will continue to rise.
Technologies such as wind power can provide clean energy throughout this period to meet increasing demand as our economies and thirst for airconditioners grows. Australia’s wind industry has played a leading role in increasing reliability and output from wind energy including advanced wind forecasting techniques and optimised engineering solutions for localised geographical and high wind conditions.
Australian companies such as Roaring 40s are using this expertise to develop wind projects throughout our region, where significant targets for renewable energy have been established by national governments.
The economic, environmental and security challenges that the world will face throughout this century will require innovative ways of delivering the living standards that more and more people will come to expect.
Australia’s renewable energy industry has proven its capacity for innovation. With proactive policy frameworks, frameworks that are increasingly being put into place across the rest of the world, our industry will be able to continue its development, build at economies of scale and bring costs down to be a major supplier of clean, safe and secure renewable energy solutions to a world increasingly in need of them.