Global lead­ers in in­no­va­tive de­signs

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Clean Energy - COM­MENT Susan Jeanes

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.

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