Where Does Our Energy Come From?
James Bullen
at 15:19 PM Sep 26 2011

In Australia our energy comes from a range of different sources. When it's sunny, our solar panels soak up the rays and convert them into electricity. Weather turning bad? Gale whipping up? Not to worry, that chilling breeze isn't just giving us pneumonia - it's turning the blades of wind turbines across the nation. Just a little too chilly? Maybe the heat from that coal we're burning can keep us warm. And if all else fails, there's always the prospect of nuclear energy in the future.

  • The Power of Wind

    These are wind turbines from Cullerin Range Wind Farm. According to Origin Energy they provides 100 per cent renewable and emissions free energy. Sweet! Plus, they don't look too obtrusive amongst the Australian landscape - quite nice among the white clouds. Aesthetically and energetically pleasing. Delightful. 

  • Before Wind Power We Need A Generator

    Or else that sleek turbine will be spinning for nothing! This is a wind turbine generator in construction. It's basically the part that converts the mechanical energy of the spinning blades into electricity to warm our showers and cook our meals. You should really be thanking this lump of metal and concrete. 

  • Harnessing the Power of the Sun

    Wind isn't the only natural phenomenon that can be used as a means of energy production. There's also that big bright light in the sky. You're looking at Australia's very first solar power station in White Cliffs, NSW. When it first ran, each of those panels concentrated solar power to a specific point, which boiled water, which produced steam, which drove a steam engine, which intermittently powered a flickering 60 watt light bulb. Kidding. The set-up powered whole buildings until the station was converted to photovoltaic in 1996.

  • Solar Panels Are Built By Men In Vests

    As this photo will attest. These are, however, very special solar panels. They're heliostats - large, slightly concave mirrors that reflect the sun's rays to a specific point where they can create temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees celsius. As the sun moves throughout the day, these heliostats move also to continually beam the sun's rays towards one point. These particular panels are being installed at the CSIRO's Solar Energy Centre in Newcastle. 

  • Don't Forget About Coal

    Coal is another of our sources of energy. This is Bayswater Power Station, NSW. The gas you can see coming from those smokestacks is flue gas, a byproduct of the combustion of coal for energy. And in the foreground are piles of precious coal - ready for burning!

  • Your Coal Is Now Diamonds

    At least that's probably what this guy is wishing. Unfortunately, turning coal into diamonds takes millions of years, extreme temperatures as well as intense pressure. In the meantime, maybe this man, a miner from Peak Downs Coal Mine, can break that lump of coal into smaller pieces that can be used for fuel.

  • Turning On The Waterworks

    This is an image of Clyde Hydro Power Station in New Zealand. The manipulation of water is another way in which we generate energy. Generally, hydroelectric power stations work by storing water in a dam and having it run through turbines to generate electricity. Once they're constructed, hydro power stations are very green, producing almost no waste and negligible carbon emissions. 

  • But We Don't Use Nuclear Power!

    I know, I know. But there's a possibility we could turn to nuclear power in the future. Plus, how could I resist showing such a cool picture! This is Australia's ANSTO facility which hosts the country's only nuclear reactor. The reactor doesn't produce power but is used for research. 

comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for the Pop Sci newsletter
Australian Popular Science
PopSci Live