Five energy facts

By world standards, Australians use a lot of energy, but we don’t often stop to think about what actually goes on behind the switch, where our energy comes from and how it’s made fresh, every day. 

However, at Origin, we think about energy a lot. It’s our job. And we’d love everyone else to get to know a bit more about it too.

So we’ve put together five quick energy facts that you might be able to pull out next time you’re short for small talk:

1

Every day, Australians use enough electricity to power eight billion TVs or to charge over 110 billion mobile phones.1 That’s about ten million households and businesses chewing through over half a million mega-watt hours of electricity every single day. We also use enough natural gas to boil water for 36 billion cups of tea. That’s three petajoules a day to be precise.2

2

Households and manufacturing are neck-and-neck for the title of biggest energy-using sector in Australia. They each consume around a quarter of Australia’s total energy every year. Producing metals like aluminium uses about half of the manufacturing sector’s share.3

3

Moving all this energy around our vast country takes some serious infrastructure. The poles and wires of Australia’s connected south-eastern system run to a total length of about 800,000 kilometres and the pipelines in the eastern gas system would measure around 90,000 kilometres if laid end to end.5

4

Agriculture is the smallest energy-using sector in Australia, consuming only two percent of Australia’s total consumption. This might be obvious when we think that most agricultural activity goes on outside, using equipment that might not need electricity or gas.4

5

On average, across the electricity system, Australians only experience power outages for a total of about three hours a year, which means the power is on for the other 8,757 hours a year—that’s a sophisticated and highly reliable system by world standards.6

These are some pretty interesting twists to Australia’s energy story, right? But it’s the future chapters that could prove the most fascinating. Climate change, energy demand, energy exports, and the growing role of gas, solar and smart technologies are all part of the unfolding plotline. And, as a consumer, so are you.

You can get the whole story here. It might not be book-club material, but we think it’s a great read.

References

  1. TVs calculated based on average consumption of 40-inch screen LED TVs 10 h/day test standard from energyrating.gov.au. Light bulbs calculated based on use of 60 W bulbs. Mobile phones calculated based on Electric Power Research Institute report, finding the annual use of an iPhone 4 is 3.3 kWh, assumed charging for two hours a day at a charging rate of 5 W.
  2. The gram calorie is the approximate amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1o Celsius. One cup of water is 250ml and assumed equivalent to 250g. It is assumed that water is at a room temperatire of 20oC and boiling point is at 100oC, which means that the temperature rise is 80oC. 250 g water x 80oC temperature rise = 20,000 cal. One gram calorie is approximately 4.2 Joules. Therefore, 20,000 cal multiplied by 4.2 = 84,000 J to boil a cup of water. 3 PJ (3 x 1015 J) of gas per day divided by 84,000 J to boil a cup of water = 36 billion cups of team. 
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013, Energy Account Australia 2011-2012.Agriculture data includes forestry and fishing, and electricity data includes gas supply, water supply and waste services.  
  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013, Energy Account Australia 2011-2012. Agriculture data includes forestry and fishing, and electricity data includes gas supply, water supply and waste services.  
  5. Australian Energy Regulator 2013 (AER), State of the energy market 2013, AER. 
  6. Reliability Panel Australian Energy Market Commission 2013, Draft Report: Annual market performance review: 20 December 2013, AMEC.

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