With the coming of Australia Day, it is a time to reflect on our history and amongst other things how lucky we are to live in a country that is plentiful in renewable energy resources. Our national anthem highlights exactly this – “Our land abounds in nature’s gifts”.
The West Australian coastline is exposed to some of the highest energy wave environments in the world with the Southern Ocean delivering constant ocean swells.
The same can be said with Wind power with South Western Australia being positioned near to the consistent “roaring forties” (trade winds).
However, our largest energy resource is Solar power. Below is a map of the amount of Global Horizontal Irradiation (GHI) or the average solar energy received on the world’s surface. It can be seen from the map that Australia is a sunburnt country having the highest solar radiation per square metre of any continent.
If we use an average value of solar irradiation for Western Australia of 1800 kWh/m2 per year and multiply that by the area of Western Australia we can estimate a power potential of 4554 PWh each year for Western Australia. This is a gigantic amount of energy which is 15,000 times Western Australia’s total power usage for 2014-2015.
Of course, we can’t cover the whole of Western Australia with panels but it does show the rich amount of solar resource we have in WA. A similar calculation using the area of metropolitan Perth estimates a solar power potential that is 26 times the total power usage for Western Australia.
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