Everyone is going green these days. With increased concerns about climate change and global warming, the drive to move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources continues to gain momentum. Efforts by governments to pass laws that help expedite the move to green energy has seen the proliferation of solar panels and wind farms in recent years.
Countries are looking to capitalize on their climates when choosing what sources of green energy to promote. The Netherlands, for example, traditionally have used wind power and now uses wind turbines to produce nearly 20% of its energy needs and now powers all its trains solely on wind power. On high wind days, Denmark can produce as much as 140% of its energy needs allowing it to export the surplus to places like Germany and Switzerland. Many other countries worldwide are following Denmark’s example toward energy independence.
With its subtropical climate nearly guaranteeing an average of three hundred sunny days a year, Australia is an ideal location for harnessing the power of the sun. It sees the highest concentrations of solar radiation anywhere in the world and Australia is making the move to use this incredible resource to its best advantage.
Australia receives enough sunlight to produce 10,000 times more power than it actually needs. Solar power on the Gold Coast and in the central regions of Australia, having the highest solar radiation levels in the country, could easily become some of the most productive sources of solar power in the world, capable of providing all of Australia’s energy needs. However, this renewable energy resource is currently very underutilized by Australia with a pathetic 0.1 per cent of Australia’s total energy consumption coming from solar power.
New government policies are aimed at overcoming this serious deficiency in using hat could be Australia’s greatest renewable energy resource. The Department of Resources Energy and Tourism has budgeted $1.5 billion to support the construction of four large solar power plants in Australia in addition to the seven new plants that became operational in 2016. And Australia is making great progress toward energy independence with 17.3 per cent of Australia’s energy coming from renewable energy in 2016, up nearly 5% from the previous year.
Making use of Australia’s solar radiation has led to huge amounts of money being designated for research into improving solar energy technologies. There are two types of these: solar thermal and solar photovoltaic. Solar thermal, which converts solar radiation to thermal or heat energy, is most commonly used for water heating systems, but can also be used to create electricity using turbines or steam. Photovoltaic (PV) converts solar energy directly to electricity, as with the solar panels you see on the roofs of houses. For Australians living off-grid in the more remote areas of the continent, PV has long been the primary source of electric power.
The government is spending big money on research and development of solar energy projects, with $5.2 billion committed and thirty-five new projects slated to begin in 2017, hoping to hit the renewable energy targets in 2020. Unsurprisingly, while the government works to implement new laws and policies, the Australian people are taking their own measures toward energy independence. Rooftop solar panel installations are becoming increasingly popular with more than 130,000 new systems installed in 2016. And the momentum of solar power on the Gold Coast has only increased in 2017. The first quarter postings of industry earnings were the highest ever first quarter earnings ever. Australia and her people are showing their usual gumption in moving toward green energy.