Renewable Energy in Australia:
Wind energy production generally consists of either small-scale individual wind turbines for individual use, or of larger-scale commercial ‘wind farms’. These wind farms are connected to the power grid. Wind power is the largest renewable energy form at present in Victoria.
Solar thermal power plants produce energy through reflected sunlight off specially designed mirrors which is then stored as heat in insulated molten-salt storage tanks. This allows the heat to be drawn out on command to boil water and drive a steam turbine. The ability to store this heat also means that these plants can produce energy perpetually, which leads to massive potential to replace ‘base load’ power (currently generated by gas and coal).
Solar Hot Water:
These are the traditional solar panels found on a growing number of houses and other buildings. Although SHW systems do not actually produce electricity, they can be used to reduce demand for electricity if they are used to displace gas or electric hot water systems.
Hydroelectric energy is generated by the kinetic motion of turbines propelled by water motion caused by a variety of natural and engineered occurrences. The most commonly used ones range from hydroelectric dams to tidal and wave forces.
In Victoria, most hydro power comes from the north east of the state. There is limited new potential for commercial scale hydro power.
This is energy produced from the combustion of organic matter such as plants. Biomass can be used to provide heat, electricity, transportation fuels, or as a chemical feedstock for bio-based products.
However, it must be noted that in Australia, there is substantial concern regarding the use of native forests as feedstock for bio mass operations. FoE does not endorse waste materials from native forests being used in this way.
Biofuels are fuels derived from a wide range of biomass (plant and animal waste matter). The two main types of biofuels produced in Australia are bioethanol and biodiesel. Bioethanol is used as a substitute for gasoline, whilst biodiesel can replace diesel.
Other benign energy sources:
Geothermal energy uses naturally stored heat in the Earth to generate electricity. It can be harnessed in several different ways depending on how the heat is stored. Most commonly, it is used to heat water from which the resulting steam rotates generator turbines to produce electricity. There is immense potential for this mode of energy production across Australia, particularly in Victoria.