Hydro: Hydro energy makes up most of the pre-1997 renewable energy from large schemes in places such as the Snowy Mountains and Tasmania. There are limited opportunities for new, large hydro generators, but there are still some sites within the existing schemes for new generators. There are also opportunities for upgrading existing generators and numerous potential sites for mini hydro schemes on existing water infrastructure.
Wind: Australia has a world class wind energy resource, with many areas driven by the famous roaring 40s winds and achieving capacity factors greater than 30 per cent. The CSIRO has estimated 200,000 GWh per year could be exploited in Australia. Wind generation is one of the lowest cost sources of renewable generation and will make up a major proportion of new renewable generation.
Solar: Australia is the world’s sunniest continent with abundant solar resources and a track record in commercialising and developing photovoltaic technologies. The domestic potential for solar technologies is large, with millions of roof tops for small installations and large areas for potential large scale PV and solar thermal.
Geothermal (Hot Rocks): Australia has some of the hottest near surface rocks in the world which offer great potential for low cost electricity generation. Hot Rocks can produce continuous base load generation and while the technology is still in the development stage it is expected to be producing significant quantities of energy within the next ten years. Areas of high potential include the Hunter Valley near Newcastle and the Cooper/Eromanga Basin in South Australia
Bioenergy: Bioenergy provides reliable base load power. Biomass currently
contributes around 750 megawatts of electricity generation in Australia. The potential for further expansion in bagasse; left over materials from forest and other agriculture and municipal waste is very large.