Renewable energy is electricity sourced from solar, wind, biomass (when grown sustainably), hydro and other sources which are not finite resources (that is, they are naturally replenished). When electricity is produced from renewable sources there are no greenhouse gas emissions, though there may be other associated emissions in the design and production of the technologies used in renewable energy production.
In the NT, with the most abundant sunshine of all, only 4% of our energy is from renewable energy sources. COOLmob and the Environment Centre NT advocate that the NT Government push for a renewables driven economy and that they aim for a 100% renewable energy by 2030 not 50%. More information can be found through our Repower NT campaign.
For more information on renewable energy in Australia, check out the Clean Energy Council.
Generating your own electricity
Households can set up their own renewable energy system. In August 2009, the Government implemented the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme, which is designed to deliver on the Government’s commitment to ensure that 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity supply will come from renewable sources by 2020. The scheme is designed to assist households, small business and community groups with installation of eligible renewable energy systems.
For information go to the Climate Change Renewable Target webpage.
Solar power is energy which comes from the sun, which is a clean and renewable source of energy. Solar power is very common for households and is one of the most appropriate energy sources for Top End residents because we have a lot of sunlight. The average number of hours of direct sunlight in Darwin is around 6.5 hours in the dry season per day, and 4.5 hours in the wet season per day.
If you’re interested in installing solar panels on your home, read our guide here!
Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into electricity using wind turbines, windmills, wind pumps or other means. Wind generators or turbines use the wind to turn a propeller that drives a generator. They come in many shapes and sizes. The most common is the ‘horizontal axis’ turbine with blades like an aircraft propeller and a tail or vane to direct it into the wind. Wind generators are more suited to non-urban areas as the turbine needs to be mounted on a tower and makes some noise in operation. Turbines have a range from 300Watt to 20Kw.
Geothermal power is energy generated by heat stored in the earth, or the collection of absorbed heat derived from underground in the atmosphere and oceans. In 2007, geothermal power supplied less than 1% of the world’s energy, however this is increasing. Many countries generate significant amounts of electricity from geothermal energy. Iceland sources 25% of its total electricity generation from geothermal sources. Hot Dry Rock Geothermal Energy (HDR) is a type of geothermal power production that uses the very high temperatures (approx 200°C) that can be found in rocks a few kilometers below ground. Electricity is generated by pumping high pressure water down a borehole (injection well) into the heat zone. The water travels through fractures in the rock, capturing the heat of the rock until it is forced out of a second borehole as very hot water, which is converted into electricity using either a steam turbine or a binary power plant system. All of the water, now cooler, is injected back into the ground to heat up again in a closed loop.
Hydro uses flowing water to spin a turbine connected to a generator that produces electricity. The amount of electricity generated depends on the volume of water and the height of the water above the turbine. Large hydroelectric power stations need dams to store the water required to produce electricity. These dams are often built to hold irrigation or drinking water, and the power station is included in the project to ensure maximum value is extracted from the water. Hydroelectricity does not actually consume any water, as all the water is returned to the river after use. There are some negatives to hydro power including it impacts on surrounding environment including the need to dam the river and can alter river flows, contributes to loss of wetlands and habitat, and effects of stopping nutrient flows downstream.
Algae fuel, also called algal fuel, oilgae, algaeoleum or third generation biofuel, is a biofuel from algae. Compared with second generation biofuels, algae are a high-yield highcost (30 times more energy per acre than terrestrial crops) feedstock for producing biofuels. Since the whole organism converts sunlight into oil, algae can produce more oil in an area the size of a two-car garage than an entire football field of soybeans.