Sustainable energy, specifically renewable energy or green energy, is an energy source which can be replenished, that is essentially inexhaustible.
Sustainable sources of energy include solar, wind, water, biomass and geothermal. Non renewable energy sources include coal, oil and natural gas.
Sustainable electricity production plays an increasing role in reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Wind energy is one of the fastest growing sustainable energy source in the world. The number of countries using wind energy is growing rapidly.
Wind energy involves the generation of electricity from the kinetic energy of moving air. Wind turbines capture energy in the wind passing through the area swept by their blades. The rotating blades in turn drive an electrical generator to produce electrical energy.
Western Australia has an excellent wind resource and wind is one of the cheapest renewable energy options in the state.
The growth of the market for wind energy is being driven by a number of factors, including the desire to reduce our dependence on depleting fossil fuels and so reduce their impact on our climate, and the cost and improvements in the technology itself.
Wind power generation costs have fallen dramatically over the past 15 years and wind turbines have improved enormously in their capacity, efficiency and reliability since the first commercial wind turbines were installed in the 1980s.
Sites where there is strong, consistent wind are the best for wind farms. An excellent wind site is generally considered to provide average wind speeds greater than 8 metres per second (29 kilometres per hour) at 80m above ground level.
Australia has some of the world’s best wind resources.
See Sustainable portfolio.
Solar energy is energy that is sourced from the light or heat radiation coming from the sun.
Electricity can be produced directly from solar, or photovoltaic cells (photo = light and voltaic = electricity). These cells are made from discs of silicon, or other material, which are mounted in panels. When sunshine hits the PV cell, the photons of light excite the electrons in the cell and cause them to flow, generating electricity.
Solar energy produces electricity when it is in high demand – during the day, particularly hot days when air-conditioners drive up electricity demand.
In use, solar power produces no emissions. One megawatt hour of solar electricity offsets about one tonne of CO2.
PV panels are being used increasingly, both in the city and in remote locations, to produce electricity for households, schools and communities, and to supply power for equipment such as telecommunication and water pumps. The majority of solar PV installations in Australia are grid-connected systems.
Also, electricity for remote and regional Australian communities have been supplied by solar power for many years.
Australia is one of the sunniest countries in the world and there is huge potential for solar PV to make a significant contribution to electricity generation.
The top solar energy producers are Germany, Spain, Japan, Italy and the US with the Czech Republic also rapidly installing capacity.
Synergy installed Australia’s biggest solar farm, the 10MW Greenough River Solar Farm, near Geraldton, in 2012. We also have a small photovoltaic system at Kalbarri, which was the first grid-connected solar farm in Australia.
See our Sustainable portfolio.
Bioenergy is sustainable energy produced from biomass, which is a general term for the material remains of once living organisms. Biomass includes agricultural crops, wood and wood by-products, fast-growing trees and plants, and industrial wastes. Burning this biomass creates the heat and steam that spins electricity-making turbines. Alternatively, biomass can be gasified and the gas used to power a gas turbine.
Bioenergy is a clean energy source that creates little or no net greenhouse emissions depending on the type of biomass and conversion technology used.
Synergy built a trial bioenergy plant in Narrogin in 1998. This innovative demonstration plant produced three products from locally grown mallees: renewable electricity, activated carbon and eucalyptus oil. It addressed global warming and farmland salinity; two of Australia’s environmental concerns.