Renewable Energy Can Power Efficient Homes
We’re lucky to live in a country with year-round sunshine, warm summers, and mild winters. All those warm days do come with a catch though – we consume an incredible amount of energy keeping our houses cool in summer and even warm on winter nights. On average, around 40 percent of an Australian home’s energy use consists of cooling and heating.
Keeping up with demand
Our electricity industry is struggling to keep up! We aren’t generating enough power to cope with future demand. South Australia’s recent state wide power outage is a warning to the rest of the country. South Australia was forced into a process called load shedding across the state which caused rolling blackouts. This is a result of the grid not being designed to handle the state’s energy demand.
SA has a high proportion of wind and solar energy, but almost no pumped hydro or power storage for on-demand power during peak times. This is an attempt to make smart energy choices, ensuring its future is scalable and affordable.
The Government’s solution is to build more coal power stations to support our tired infrastructure. They are calling this solution “clean coal”, which is quite humorous as it is really the same environmentally destructive method that we have been using for years. The core issue is, we require these methods to keep up with and power Australia’s energy-hungry houses.
Changing with the times (and tides)
There is plenty of research indicating coal is the way of the past and renewables can provide enough power for Australia. Just recently the Australian National University published a study which says a 100% renewable energy scenario is affordable and realistic for Australia. Using wind and solar with support from pumped hydro (water) stations, we can generate enough energy for the whole country.
There’s an abundance of political and social hoops to jump through so a zero-emissions power grid is a future scenario. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the on-demand availability of renewable energy, which could be solved in the near future by innovative energy storage systems.
Right now our challenge is to find a way to reduce energy use by making Australian homes more eco-friendly. Traditional double brick homes are unsustainable; they are more expensive to run as they use more energy than newer construction methods. As energy costs continue to rise in the coming year, old style brick homes will simply be too costly to maintain.
Smart power consumption is everyone’s responsibility
Electricity generation companies are talking about increasing the renewables mix in coming years. The scientific and academic sectors support the move but it won’t happen tomorrow. Until then Australians need to build homes to be more energy efficient when heating and cooling is such a huge drain on our limited power supplies. Otherwise we are heading toward a future where energy prices are through the roof and our tired infrastructure falls apart under high demand.