As the years progress, the society lies at the center of an intense civilization evolution, a change that may be complicated to recognize when one becomes trapped in it. The regular use of energy is at the heart of the many revolutions that must be made in a manner that we control ourselves. Thus, the principal subject of electricity supply and security, as well as the viability of the energy industry, are fundamental in determining the environment's future. The challenge of sustainable development is clearer in the case of energy which is at the center of the interface between the environment, society, and the economy.
Electricity is perceived as the flow of electric charges in an uninterrupted manner to form energy that is used power electronic equipment including lighting, computers, and other related devices (Ausgrid, 2017). This is a form of energy that is widespread, and homes and companies use it to power their electronic devices and machines. For the past few years, new ways have been expressed and articulated to promote sustainable electricity (Strong, 2012). Sustainability is a term used to imply the capability of being maintained for an extended period of time (Herremans & Reid, 2002). This concept is used to depict the representation of environmental, social, and economic dimensions. Sustainable power refers to the form of energy that is utilized at normal rates without adversely affecting the environment and its inhabitants. It is consumed at a low level compared to its supply and implications.
The concept of sustainable power is one of the issues affecting today's productive world. Renewable energy looks at the capital and fiscal capabilities of the primary renewable sources. The physical and inventive standards behind trapping power from solar and non-solar sources are explained inside the boundaries of their environmental impacts, financial capabilities, and prospects (Strong, 2012). Sustainable power includes some environmental, economic, and social problems that demand to be properly managed with the efforts from the Australian government and its citizens in order to realize long-term sustainable objectives. With today’s increasingly advanced technology and changes, sustainable electricity will surely be easy to produce and supply to consumers.
Past and Present Source of Energy
Currently, most of the energy in Australia is generated at one place and heavily relies on traditional sources such as the fossil fuels. It is estimated that about 86% of the country’s electricity is generated from these types of fuels with more than 70% being generated from coal while 13% from natural gas (Ausgrid, 2017). Internationally it is pretty much the same as the fossil fuels being used to power electronic devices and machines both at home and in companies and in powering vehicles.
Australia is the fourth largest generator and exporter of coal globally (Australian Government, 2015). Most of the electricity consumed in Australia comes from power stations which burn fossil fuels to make steam. Coal is considered as the common type of fuel consumed in the country since it allows large quantities of electricity to be produced in just one place (Ausgrid, 2017). Electricity is made from coal-fired power plants. Since coal is perceived as a non-renewable source of energy, this implies that in future it will eventually run out. Therefore, it is crucial that the country establishes ways to preserve the coal resources and identify more environmentally friendly ways of generating electricity.
Natural gas is a type of a non-renewable source of fuel that is found in abundance in Australia. It is referred to as natural gas because it naturally forms the hydrocarbon. It is colorless and is made up of methane- the simplest form of hydrocarbon. For more than a century, natural gas has been produced and consumed in Australia and is increasingly being used globally. Natural gas helps to address the issue of climate change by discharging more of the carbon of coal when it is used to produce electricity. This gas is considered as a flexible fuel because it is easy to store, it is steady and reliable anytime, it comes in abundance, etc. Natural gas is an essential transition fuel as nations around the world seek for low-carbon, affordable, reliable and safe alternative to nuclear and coal and techniques of promoting intermitting renewable sources of energy.
Issues and Challenges affecting the Present Energy Power Generation
The main problem affecting the fossil fuel power generation industry in Australia is the heavy reliance on coal and natural gas as the primary resources. Australia promotes coal as its primary fuel source for its electricity generation. This has the capability of creating environmental disturbance due to mining as well as social implications. To secure a piece of land for mining where natural resources are in plenty requires the relocation of indigenous people and an environmental depletion and destruction of the wild animals, flora and fauna, the forests ecological unit, and the unique geological landscapes (Brueckner et.al, 2013). This presents a huge challenge for the energy sector’s sustainability concepts. In an attempt to free up the natural gas, the government has developed strategies to reduce the country's overdependence on natural gas. Sustainability and security in supplying the resources are vital to sustaining the economy and the energy consumption needs.
Australia has vast amounts of natural gas reserves; however, it can be noted that depletion of its supply is forecasted to happen in the near future which may pose a significant impact to the energy industry. The adverse effect that will be experienced will inevitably threaten the sustainability and security of energy production. The government of Australia in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy is considering on alternative techniques of sustaining energy production in the future through establishing new development programs and energy policies. The fossil fuel power stations undeniably release significant amounts of pollutants such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrogen oxide, into the environment. The government is committed to minimizing the carbon dioxide emissions to less than 40%. Hydroelectricity will indeed maintain the base and peak load plants as the start, and the cessations are quite easy and fast.
Future Sources of Energy
In the 18th century, people relied upon on the sun, water, and wind as the core sources of energy. In the 1900s, first coal-engineered power plants were built. In the 20th and the current era, the realization that burning fossil fuels for electricity is contributing to global climate change influenced the demand for renewable sources of energy. In future, the Australian government policy and the enhanced battery technology will make it possible to produce renewable energy on larger scales, more affordable and to help promote the consumption of natural gas as a clean burning fuel.
Renewable Energy Sources
These includes those energy sources that generate electricity using natural resources that can be replaced without degrading or causing destructions to the environment and the society. Currently, about 14 percent of the Australia’s electricity is obtained from renewable sources (AER, 2014). Out of these sources, hydro is the largest provider contribution around six percent of the total power. The remainder percentage comes from a blend of energy sources such as solar, wind, and biomass.
Hydro energy – This is a type of an energy source that utilizes rainwaterdeposited in dams and flowing rivers to produce electricity in power stations. In Australia, the largest hydropower producer is the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme (Ausgrid, 2017). Hydropower production relies on rain and varies annually. The rainier it is for the country, the more power will be produced through hydropower sources.
Wind energy – This is a type of renewable energy source that utilizes the airflow to produce power. Wind is the second provider of Australia's renewable energy supply. This technology makes about 4% of the country's electricity market, and it is predicted that its supply is likely to grow in years to come (Clean Energy Council, 2013). The costs associated with the production of wind power is said to be low. At the same time, it is the most suitable and reliable technology compared to other renewable sources. This makes it more likely to be the primary source of electricity development as reported by the Renewable Energy Target (Renewable Energy Target, n.d).
Solar power – Producing electricity from the sun helps to reduce the discharge of pollutants into the environment. Australian Government Department of Industry Geoscience Australia (2014) establishes that Australia has the highest solar radiation per m2 than any region in the world.
Biomass – This type of energy is obtained from living organic matter (NSW Government, n.d). In Australia, more than 60% of the biomass energy is obtained from sugarcane wastes (Clean Energy Council, 2015 & NSW Government, n.d).
While taking into account the future sources of energy, it is crucial to examine the issue of efficient energy (Zadek, 2015). Increasing power supply may not be the solution to a stable energy. The Australian government incorporating various agencies such as the Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Industry, etc has outlined strategies for supporting efficient energy. Strategies under this plan will be centered on commercial, industrial, and residential platforms. The goal of this scheme is to decrease the effects of energy on the environment and its inhabitant, enhance competitiveness in the foreign market, conserve fossil fuels, and to cut the requirements of establishing infrastructure. All in all electricity forms an important part in our daily lives. Most of the things we are used to see will eventually be evolved. These transformations may not be perceived well by most people. However, scientists and experts from various fields are collaborating to support the technology that will generate electricity using environmentally friendly sources.
Issues and Challenges Affecting Renewable Energy
There exist several barriers that may hinder the growth of renewable energy implementation process which includes financial, regulatory, technology, and information aspects which must be addressed for viable growth in Australia. Most of this technology is still new, and the market prices are high to compensate the costs incurred in research and development and grants given to their research. In relation to technological barriers, different climatic conditions and supply sources trends may require the employment of specific and appropriate equipment and systems to produce electricity efficiently. Also, lack of adequate expertise in handling the new technology and systems may be an obstacle to ensure sufficient renewable energy supply (Chu & Majumdar, 2012). Concerning regulatory hurdles, serious efforts towards the development of renewable energy are needed to provide pressing priorities to the fuel mix strategy. Special incentives, relieves and tax reduction should be granted to support the growth of the renewable energy sector. As for the information barriers, public awareness and relevant information on the environment and the energy crisis that may be experienced in future must be conveyed to help understand the direction of Australia energy situation.
An examination of the current and future power sources for electrical generation of power has been well presented in this paper. It is certain that the people are ready to see and consume the eco-friendly blends of sources of energy being converted into electrical energy: yet, at this moment fossil fuels remain to be the backbone of the source of electricity in Australia. For the past years, there have been serious considerations on the alternative energy sources that will solely rely on sustainable and leaner options. Australia is in the heart of implementing several initiatives with regards to the research and development and policy reviews. Significant focus has been placed on the development of renewable forms of energy which is centered on harnessing energy from numerous sources including the sun, the wind, hydro, biomass, etc. Necessary steps have been initiated towards developing the technology roadmap where the application of renewable energy sources serve a huge function in fulfilling the requirements of the country's energy security and the implications of climate change as a result of industrial emissions.
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