Australia is one of the first countries, in an age of environmental awareness and consideration, to realize the valuable and sustainable resources of solar and wind energy that their geographic location provides in abundance. Australia has the highest average solar radiation per square meter of any continent worldwide. Renewable energy has been a highly valued subject of study for countries since the push for clean energy came to recognition after the Clean Air Act of 1956. Australia naturally has accessibility to a variety of renewable energy sources including solar (thermal and photovoltaic), hydro-electric, geothermal, biofuels, and mechanical energy from ocean tides.
Like most countries, Australia witnessed a technological boom that made life more comfortable and affordable. However, Australians also recognized that alongside this technological boom came a risk to their health and the environment which they love dearly. It’s a love-hate relationship with industry and business that has established roots in communities that value more traditional and “cheap and easy” means of energy. Fossil fuels historically comprise the largest energy source used to meet Australia’s energy needs. Low cost and highly abundant coal resources have been used to generate over half of Australia’s domestic energy at relatively low expense. It takes a considerable push in the right direction with overwhelming political and international support to make an impression on industries to see the low risk and high reward. Australia is not about to fall behind and has successfully pushed for renewable energy, showing the world how accessible and manageable it is.
The recent emphasis on improved quality of life and overall sustainable long-term resource management has driven homeowners, farmers, business owners, and industrial companies to reconsider their resistance to change. Australia knows well the effects of climate change brought on by fossil fuel consumption. The effects, such as decreased rainfall, have raised concerns on how to protect the delicate balance of natural systems for both their people and abundant wildlife. Renewable energy has an important role to play in reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and the goal of reaching 20 percent renewable energy by 2020. A goal such as that provides Australians a sense of personal responsibility and consideration for the future. Working together, Australians will continue to move forward on a new path of renewable energy.