Blog Post Wednesday 12 September 2018
We use energy every day in our hot showers, to power our smartphones, and to get around in our cars. But have you stopped to think about the miracle that's the energy powering our lives? Whether you’re wondering where our energy comes from or how it’s used in Australia, these facts will likely amaze you.
1. Electricity travels fast
Electricity travels rapidly, near the speed of light. The dimensions of the wire and other factors will affect its exact speed, but it's usually around 90% of the speed of light or 270,000 km per second.
2. We use electricity in our body
We think about electricity as something external we use to power our devices, but our bodies also use a form of electricity. Bioelectricity is used to pass signals from cells to muscles, and we need adequate voltage, about -50 millivolts, to heal. Other biological entities like electric eels can produce up to 500 volts for hunting and self-defense.
3. We generate more energy than we consume
Australia produces around three times more energy than we consume. Most of the energy we produce (88%) is from non-renewable sources, including coal, natural gas, and petroleum products. Of the remaining 12%, hydroelectricity provided 5% and wind accounted for 4%. We export two thirds of the energy we produce, and 90% of our black coal production is exported.
4. Oil, coal, and gas are Australia’s biggest sources for energy
Of the energy we consume in Australia, oil, coal, and gas remain the biggest sources. Oil accounts for around 38% of energy consumed, while coal takes second place with around 32%. Gas accounts for approximately 24% of the energy we consume.
5. The biggest consumers of energy are electricity supply and transport
Surprisingly, households aren't the biggest consumers of energy. The biggest consumer of energy by sector is the electricity supply industry, which takes up around 28% of the country's total energy consumption. Transport ranks second at around 27%. Next are manufacturing (19.4%), mining (8.8%), and finally residential (7.7%).
6. Solar power capacity is expected to double
Australia's total solar power capacity is expected to double over the next few years, with households investing in rooftop panels and the commercial solar sector taking off.
7. 5.3 gigawatts of new power will come online in the coming years
Our capacity is increasing and around 5.3 gigawatts of new power will come online by 2020, with 4.9 gigawatts of this from renewable sources.
8. New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland are the biggest consumers
It's no surprise that by state, the most populous states of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland are the top energy consumers in the country. New South Wales accounts for nearly 25% of total energy consumption, while Queensland follows closely at 24.4%. Victoria at 23.8% is followed by Western Australia at 18.1%.
9. Australia ranks 15th in clean energy rankings
The World Bank ranked Australia number 15 in a sustainable-ranking study that looked at renewable energy, energy efficiency, and access to modern energy. While we ranked high overall, we lagged behind countries like Denmark, the US, Canada, and the Netherlands.
10. Total energy consumption by commercial buildings will rise by 24%
While commercial building accounted for only 3.5% of our total gross final energy consumption in 2009, this is expected to grow by 24% by 2020. Electricity will continue to dominate for the energy mix in this segment, accounting for over 80%, and natural gas 17.5%. The biggest end use for electricity in our commercial buildings is heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, followed by lighting and equipment. For natural gas, space heating is the biggest use.
11. Bioenergy accounts for only 1% of Australia's electricity production
Bioenergy accounts for 1% of our electricity production and 7% of our renewables production. Biofuels power up to 3% of our fuel consumption, and we currently use technologies like bagasse (from sugarcane), landfill gas, wood waste, and black liquor. We also use energy crops, agricultural products, and municipal solid waste for bioenergy generation. Bagasse is currently the dominant source of Australia's bioenergy capacity.
As a net exporter of energy, Australia generates a lot more power than it uses, and we enjoy a high degree of energy security in this regard. While we're still reliant on non-renewable sources for power, as a country we're investing in alternative sources like bioenergy and solar, so the future looks promising as we continue shifting towards more clean energy.