Renewable energy is energy that is not depleted when it is consumed. It includes solar, wind, wave, biomass, hydro, geothermal and tidal energy sources.
Solar is the most widely used renewable energy source in the Northern Territory because it is well-suited to the Territory’s climate and geography. Solar is reliable, environmentally sustainable and increasingly becoming more cost effective.
Hybrid Diesel-Solar power stations
In many remote locations of the Northern Territory, hybrid diesel-solar power plants are being established. These stations contain solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, which convert solar energy into electricity reducing the reliance on diesel for energy production. When insufficient solar is available, the diesel generator is used to provide a reliable supply of energy for the local community.
Rooftop PV systems
A solar PV power system converts energy from sunlight into electricity. Residential solar PV systems can offset some of your household's power needs, depending on the size of the system and your household's needs. Currently, residents with rooftop PV systems are connected to the grid. Any excess energy produced is returned to the grid for other users to benefit from. Where solar energy is insufficient due to cloud cover or weather conditions, these residents can source their energy from the grid system, which is supported by conventional energy sources (primarily gas).
Wind turbines are devices that convert the wind’s kinetic energy into electricity. These large-scale systems generate energy which is injected into the grid system for the benefit of all users. The Northern Territory climate is such that wind turbines are less effective, and therefore less commercially viable, than they are in southern jurisdictions.
Methane gas is continuously generated in landfill sites such as the Shoal Bay site in Darwin as a by-product of waste. This gas can be used as an energy source to generate electricity. Methane gas is twenty times more harmful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Therefore, by capturing the gas and converting it to electricity, it is possible to prevent it from entering the environment, therefore having a positive benefit on the environment. The small population of the Northern Territory is such that there isn’t enough waste to support large generation of methane gas from landfill, however this may prove a valuable and environmentally-beneficial source of electricity for small scale operations / production.
Flowing water creates energy that can be captured and turned into electricity. This is called hydroelectric power or hydropower.
The most common type of hydroelectric power plant uses a dam on a river to store water in a reservoir. Water released from the reservoir flows through a turbine, spinning it, which in turn activates a generator to produce electricity.