When it comes to the perfect energy source, like a lot of things in life – there often isn’t a simple answer.
We all want our energy to be cheap, environmentally friendly and instantly delivered to our fridge, dishwasher, light switch and TV whenever we want it.
Right now Australia runs mostly on coal; it’s reliable and affordable, but it’s mostly old technology and emits a lot of carbon.
On the other hand, there are renewable energy sources such as wind and solar – they’re carbon free, but not particularly reliable as they need Mother Nature to make the sun shine and the wind blow. They also tend to cost more than fossil fuels and often need subsidies in order to be a competitive option.
The energy industry invests in power generation facilities that often take five to ten years in the planning phase and have a lifespan of several decades. That’s a really long time when we think about advances in technology, climate change, lifestyle choices, and the ever changing nature of international and domestic politics.
For example, in 1970s who believed that today we’d be texting, tweeting, skyping, streaming, microwaving and downloading the latest Game of Thrones onto a mobile device to watch later?
For Australia, like most countries around the world, getting the best policy setting is difficult. We need to get the right balance between cost, reliability and the environment – in the short and long term.
We need to get the right balance between cost, reliability and the environment – in the short and long term.
Some have asked why Origin does not more strongly advocate for renewable energy sources. The fact is that we do support and continue to invest in renewables but we also focus on maintaining a reliable and cost effective electricity supply system, and this means continuing to invest in conventional generation such as coal and gas. We all want to progressively shift to lower emission energy, but in a way that ensures we continue to have reliable energy year round, and that the financial burden on households is not excessive.
Our history of investing in renewable energy is broad ranging including: thin film solar technologies, partnering with Geodynamics to investigate the geothermal potential of Central Australia, wind farms, household solar and a range of large scale renewable energy projects overseas.
We also use natural gas to produce electricity, with around half the carbon emissions of coal when used to generate electricity; it’s a good fuel for supporting more intermittent renewable energy sources. We see natural gas as an important part of the transition to a low carbon future for Australia and also in energy hungry developing countries in Asia.
Renewable energy sources could contribute more to Australia’s baseload power if their energy could be stored for times when the natural energy source is unavailable, but for now, commercial storage technologies are still a while off being a viable solution.
In the meantime, if you are interested in doing your bit for the environment and want to help reduce Australia’s carbon emissions, you can find out the benefits of installing solar panels on your roof or join thousands of our customers who have already chosen to buy green energy.