Renewable Energy

Increasingly, governments around the world are turning to renewable energy to end our dependence on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels being coal, gas, and oil.

Rising temperatures and climate change will affects us all, and whether you believe this is being caused by human activities or not, the reality is that our dependency on fossil fuels for energy (and the depletion there of) is a major problem for our future, our economy, and future generations.

Sustainable and renewable energy sources are increasingly regarded as a necessary alternative to our current dependence on fossil fuels as a source of energy.

So what is renewable energy?

Renewable energy is clean energy, and non-polluting. It’s derived from natural resources that will never be exhausted. These include solar energy (from the sun), hydro power (water pressure, tidal power and wave power), wind energy, geothermal energy and bio energy or biomass (biological materials).

These types of renewable energy or “green energy” are becoming increasingly popular around the world as an alternative to fossil fuels which are in most cases harmful to our environment. The fact that fossil fuels will not sustain our rising population and increasing demand for energy indefinitely, and that the burning of these fossil fuels is leading to pollution and increased temperatures around the world, is forcing people to recognise the importance of renewable energy our future.

There are many sources of renewable energy and the list grows with continued innovation. The following ones used most widely in Australia are solar, wind, hydro and biomass. Currently, sustainable forms of energy provide only 8% of Australia's electricity supply, but are becoming increasingly popular with business and household consumers. Over 90% of electricity generated in Victoria is sourced from burning coal, contributing over 50% of the State's greenhouse gas emissions (source; Switchwise).

The challenge of using renewable energy

In Australia, traditional fossil fuels currently provide the cheapest source of power. The challenge facing Australia is to relinquish this dependence on non-sustainable forms of energy such as coal and gas and to look to a greener, cleaner, sustainable future using renewable energy sources.

Australians are encouraged to utilise renewable energy in a variety of ways. These include installing solar panels at home and in certain cases, individuals may even be eligible for federal government rebates on these solar panels. Other options include ensuring your electricity provider generates some of their power from renewable energy sources, such as is being done under the GreenPower accreditation scheme.

Government rebates for renewable energy initiatives

The Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, formerly named the Department of the Environment and Water Resources, operates a number of programs to protect and conserve Australia's environment, including the provision of rebates to encourage renewable energy use.

Electricity generation in Australia

Electricity generation in Australia is dominated by coal-powered power stations (83%), while around 8.5% is from gas. Hydro electric power makes the highest contribution to Australian electricity generation at 7.32% of total output (source; Switchwise). Electricity generation from renewable energy sources including solar, biomass and wind is low in Australia at present, but by choosing renewable energy to power your home, you will help increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable energy sources, thereby reducing carbon emissions and helping the environment.

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