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Australian Energy Management

Energy consumption underpins all aspects of contemporary society. Recent supply disruptions and price increases have brought attention to a commodity that’s often taken for granted. Our power system is more complicated and varied now than at any previous time in human history.

The energy industry in Australia makes a substantial contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product, export earnings, and employment. A secure supply of cheap, reliable and environmentally sustainable energy is essential to Australia’s future economic growth and wealth.

Australia has an abundance and diversity of energy sources that support domestic consumption and significant fossil fuel energy exports around the world. Australia continues to have the world’s largest known economic uranium resources, the fourth largest coal (black and brown) sources and considerable conventional and unconventional gas resources. There is very good potential for further growth of the non-renewable resource base through new discoveries. Identified sources of crude oil, condensate and liquefied petroleum gas are more limited and Australia is increasingly reliant on imports for transportation fuels.

Australia also has abundant and widely distributed wind, solar, geothermal, wave and tidal energy resources. Energy resources derived from water is currently undergoing extensive research, and others such as wind, solar and geothermal energy have been used to generate electricity for many years. Although adoption of counter technologies (e.g. geothermal heat pumps, solar hot water) has slowly improved, other renewable energy resources remain largely untapped for electricity generation. The utilisation of renewable energy will continue to grow significantly to approximately 2020, representing government policies (e.g. that the Renewable Energy Goal) and decreasing installation expenses. Advances in renewable energy production and storage technology and better mapping of resource potential will likely be important for continuing uptake, and so will technologies and policies for grid integration.

Domestic and global demand for Australia’s energy sources continues to rise, even though the energy mix is shifting. At the same time, the intensity of this demand towards the Australian economy is predicted to gradually drop over the next few years due to advancements in energy efficiency and the changing industrial landscape. Increasing use of renewable energy sources will need energy infrastructure to become more flexible and possibly decentralised as time passes. As this transition occurs, understanding Australia’s energy resources and the factors likely to affect their development has never been more significant.

Geoscience Australia and the Economics Branch of the Department of the Environment and Energy, with support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, have produced this integrated scientific and economic evaluation of Australia’s non-renewable and renewable energy resources. The purpose of this article is to show the changes from time to time in order to provide a comparison between the different types of energy resources.

Key messages

  • Australia includes a large, varied base of energy resources that support domestic intake and substantial fossil gas and gas energy exports across the world.
  • Australia has ample and broadly dispersed wind, solar, geothermal, ocean and bioenergy resources. Wind and solar power sources in Australia are being increasingly exploited, and hydro energy sources are largely developed nonetheless, the renewable energy resources remain largely undeveloped.
  • Australia’s energy resource base could increase during the next two years as more resources are found, and the technologies to harness and economically use energy improves.
  • In 2014–15, more than three-quarters (79 per cent) of Australia’s total energy production was exported, consisting mostly of coal, natural gas and gas. However, Australia has limited crude oil sources and is increasingly reliant on imports for its transport fuels.
  • National and global demand for Australia’s energy resources continues to grow, although the energy mix is changing. However, the energy intensity of the Australian economy is forecast to continue to fall during the upcoming few decades through energy efficiency gains.
  • The future domestic energy mix will be formed by government policy and decreasing technology and installation costs. Advances in renewable energy technologies and much better mapping of resource possible will likely be important for continuing uptake. Technologies and policies for grid integration will also be significant.
  • Energy safety, cost and dependability of supply are all significant areas of creating energy policy, especially in response to the electricity supply and/or community failures happening in South Australia and Victoria throughout 2016—18. Policies like the Renewable Energy Target are predicted to induce investment into 2020.
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