The sources of energy obtained from constantly replenished natural resources are:
- solar - from sunlight or heat from the sun
- wind - harnessed by a turbine
- hydropower - from moving water
Other types of renewable energy include:
- bioenergy - from organic waste products, such as manure or crop residue
- geothermal - from heat in the Earth’s crust
- ocean energy - which includes heat from the sun collected at the water surface and mechanical wave power
The Australian Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency supports research and programs to harness power from our non-fossil natural resources – some of which are abundantly available.
Australasia has the highest average solar radiation per square metre of any continent in the world. Hundreds of thousands of Australian households now have solar hot water systems or solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on their rooftops. Solar energy and solar hot water are saving environmentally aware homeowners heaps of money on power bills.
When wind turns a propeller or similar mechanism to drive a generator, it produces electricity that can be fed directly into the electricity grid or stored in a household battery bank. Location and consistency of wind speed are crucial considerations, and homes with a stand-alone turbine may require a back-up generator for times when the wind isn't blowing. Hybrid solar-wind systems are also available.
The NSW Small Wind Turbine Consumer Guide (PDF 1.5MB) provides information to consider before purchasing, including assessing your site, choosing a turbine, planning approval and installation. Also see the advice from the Clean Energy Regulator and the Australian Government’s Your Home guide to environmentally sustainable living.
The fastest growing renewable energy source for electricity in Australia, power from wind farms now supplies 3.4 per cent of our needs (more than 61,000 GWh was produced in 2012 – enough for around one million homes).
If you have a permanent stream, creek or river close to your home, a small (sometimes called micro) hydro energy system can be a very reliable and economic option for providing power to your home. Popular in rural areas, the water passes through the turbine of the systems and is returned to the watercourse, with no impact to the flow or ecosystem. For more information, see the Clean Energy Regulator.
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Page last updated: 10 December 2015