The current and ongoing debate around renewable and alternative energy sources has led to the scientific examination of such energy sources. The result has been the continuous development of two energy sources, the wind and solar energy. The two have been subject to research into the ways through which they can be utilised to obtain the best results from them. Hence, the question of viability has arisen. Australia is one country where the impact of climate change is been felt. Thus, wind and solar energy could offer the best option for reduction of these effects. As a result, the viability of these energy sources is examined in this report and a verdict is given in the end. The report examines the varying aspects of the two energy sources, looking at their regulations, the advantages they offer, their usability on the content, and even the challenges brought about by their use.
Viability of Solar and Wind as alternative Energy Sources in Australia
The current debate on energy sources around the world is associated with the continuous production of greenhouse gases into the environment. As a result, scientists have been examining different sources for the production of energy that does not produce harmful and pollutant gases into the environment. The main aim is to do away with energy sources like coal, which produces a lot of the gases that are considered as greenhouse gases. Hence, this report seeks to evaluate if the two energy sources that are regarded as green energy, that is solar and wind, are viable alternative energy sources in Australia. The report evaluates their viability by looking at various resources that have touched on the two energy sources.
Solar energy is said to be produced when sunlight is changed into electricity. Globally, solar energy surpasses the requirement for energy. Hence, it can be said to be in excess. When considering Australia, as a continent and a country, it has some specific energy demands. The weather and environmental conditions in Australia provide excellent conditions for tapping solar energy. The reason being that much of Australia has desert like conditions, with sunny intervals dominating during most times of the year. However, it cannot be assumed so without the proper scientific documentation and evidence. The government of Australia reports that Australia has the biggest typical solar radiation per square metre in comparison to all the other continents. In Australia, it is said to account for only 0.1% of the sum consumption of energy. Statistics indicates that by the year 2030, the utilisation of solar energy in Australia will rise by over 5 %. Considering this future approximation, it is clear that solar energy has vast opportunities for use and application in Australia.
It is reported that through the necessary storage equipment, solar energy provides likely load elements of up to one hundred percent when solar thermal is considered. In fact, it has been stated that the amount of solar energy that falls on Australia in a single day matches half the whole quantity of energy that the world requires. Hence, if Australia is to utilise solar energy, then only 0.3% of Australian land is needed for sunlight, which is to be converted into solar energy for consumption.
Parkinson (2014) reports of a storage equipment that is available in Australia. Under an evaluation of the current household utilisation of energy, it is evident that households using solar energy in Australia are saving up to 10 % capital annually. The saving is estimated when a solar energy storage equipment is in use. Furthermore, it is reported that more households in major cities will prefer to use solar energy than incur the costs of electricity. Most importantly is that solar energy generation costs are invariant and the source, sunlight is normally available during consumption (Parkinson, 2014).
Moreover, the Greenpeace movement reports that solar energy is a cheaper energy source than gas or coal. The savings from the use of solar energy is approximated to be 50 dollars per year by the year 2020 . Parkinson (2014) reports that by 2018, solar energy may be economically viable. Not only to power small households, but to power major cities in Australia. He adds that the ability to generate electricity at the same place it is generated makes solar energy cost-efficient and reduces wastage. For example, it is noted that nearly 350,000 buildings in Queensland are using solar panels to generate solar energy that equals 1,100 mW (Parkinson, 2014). The effect, losses in coal energy source companies.
Campbell, et al. (2009) notes that the viability of wind energy is determined by one crucial factor, which is the capability to generate energy. Hence, in the case of Australia, the potential to generate wind energy could be assessed and determined to evaluate the viability of wind energy as an energy source. The assessment could be boosted by the news that what is commonly termed as green energy, especially wind energy is hastily growing.
In fact, it has been testified that Australia has an adequate wind resource. If it is utilised properly, the wind resource, could for one cut on the release of greenhouse gases into the environment. The continent has an extensive coastal area that is open to large amounts of winds. The reason for stating this is because the location of wind energy generators, that is, wind turbines is crucial for the efficacy of wind energy generation. The wind energy generators can be installed by a single entity or a company. In most cases, it has been reported that excess energy is produced. Hence, the wind energy generators can be connected to the national grid to add to the energy generated in Australia.
As indicated by the Australian Government (2015), Australia has some excellent wind resources. Most of them are located in the Southern areas of the continent. In the northern parts, the trade and monsoon winds avail the resource. However, the topography of the land in Australia has a significant influence on the wind generating capabilities of the continent. Hence, it is reported that the winds vary significantly from region to region; and from time to time. For example, in spring and winter, the winds are strongest in Southern and Western Australia. So does the variation in the speed of wind differ, from time to time.
These are just but some of the complications around wind energy production. However, the wind energy production in Australia has great potential in spite of the myths surrounding it. There has been an issue with the noise production by wind energy producing farms. However, as with other mechanical plants like hydroelectric and coal generating plants, noise is produced, but current and improved wind turbines designs have decreased levels of noise. Thus, proper planning allows for the decrease in the amount of noise wind generating farms produce. For example, the New South Wales government has the one of the strictest regulations on noise generated from wind farms .
However, in spite of these shortcomings and discontent associated with solar and wind energy, the evidence and discussion availed in this report indicate that they are truly viable alternative energy sources in Australia. Solutions exist to solve the shortcomings and discontent, but the merits that they offer are much more compared to the demerits. Moreover, their minimal negative impact on the environment during these times when climate change debate is at its highest adds to their usability. The opportunities that exist for wind and solar energy to be used in Australia are enormous; hence, their viability is high.
Australian Energy Resource Assessment, n.d.. Solar Energy. [Online] Available at: http://arena.gov.au/files/2013/08/Chapter-10-Solar-Energy.pdf[Accessed 26 April 2015].
Australian Government, 2015. Wind Energy. [Online] Available at: http://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/energy/resources/other-renewable-energy-resources/wind-energy[Accessed 26 April 2015].
Budd, A., Denniss, T., Finnigan, T. & Foger, K., 2009. Australia's Renewable Energy Future. [Online] Available at: https://www.science.org.au/sites/default/files/user-content/ausrenewableenergyfuture.pdf[Accessed 26 April 2015].
Campbell, N., Harries, A. & Stankovic, S., 2009. Urban Wind Energy. Abingdon: Routledge.
Greenpeace Movement, 2014. Renewable Energy Myths: 5 Myths Busted that Australian Energy Companies do not Want you to see. [Online] Available at: http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/en/what-we-do/climate/renewable-energy-myths1/[Accessed 26 April 2015].
NSW Government, n.d.. Wind Energy in NSW: Myths and Facts. [Online] Available at: http://masg.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/Wind-Energy-In-NSW-Myths-and-Facts.pdf[Accessed 26 April 2015].
Parkinson, G., 2014. Solar has won. Even if coal were free to burn, power stations couldn't compete. [Online] Available at: Solar has won. Even if coal were free to burn, power stations couldn't compete[Accessed 26 April 2015].
Parkinson, G., 2014. UBS analysis shows solar-plus-storage already viable in Australia. [Online] Available at: http://www.solarchoice.net.au/blog/news/UBS-analysis-solar-plus-storage-viable-in-australia-111114[Accessed 26 April 2015].
Stapleton, G. & Milne, G., 2013. Wind Systems. [Online] Available at: http://www.yourhome.gov.au/energy/wind-systems[Accessed 26 April 2015].