Our electricity in Alice Springs is produced by generators run on Natural Gas drawn from the Mereenie gas fields, over 200kms west of town. This natural gas is piped to the Ron Goodin Power Station and the Brewer Estate Power Station. Between these two facilities, our generation capacity is around 70 Megawatts, or 70 000 000 watts.
One of the benefits of Natural gas is the ability of turbines to quickly increase and decrease output, according to demand. The power demand is monitored closely by Power and Water and the amount generated is adjusted accordingly.
Now, 70Megawatts may seem like a massive amount of power, but peak loads (especially on hot days) have recently been regularly climbing over 50Megawatts. This is over 70% of capacity and it is steadily increasing each year. As there isn’t a huge amount of industrial power usage in Alice Springs, a majority of the power is generated for residential usage. If we continue to grow as a town and increase our energy demands, more turbines will be required to meet that demand and ultimately those costs will be handed on to us, the consumers.
Natural gas is one of the “cleaner” forms of fossil fuels used for energy production in Australia, but it still has significant greenhouse gas emissions. The greenhouse emissions of natural gas is stated as 0.55kg of Carbon dioxide(cO²) per kilowatt hour (kWh). The average house in Alice Springs uses around 8000kWh per year (or around $1120/yr), this has a profile of 4400kg /yr (or 4.4tonnes). As we reduce our demand, we reduce the amount of generation required and, by default, our greenhouse gas emissions.
(Note- The figure of 0.55kg cO²/kWh is the instant reading at point of generation. It doesn’t include the “embedded” energy of the associated processes of gas extraction, transport and operation of the power stations.)
Reducing Greenhouse Emissions:
The good news is – there is much that we can do as individuals and much of it is simple and cheap. Quite often changes you can make, with a bit of forethought and planning will benefit your house in both summer and winter.
Standby power is the energy used by appliances when they plugged in but switched off, usually by a remote control. Look for an LED light remaining on after the appliance has been turned off. There is only a small energy demand from each appliance, but it certainly adds up over a year. Combined costs can add up to $50 – $70 a year. The best way to overcome this issue is to turn appliances off at the point or powerboard.
- Install insulation into your ceiling. This will help keep your house cooler in summer and warmer in winter, meaning you will require less heating/cooling to be comfortable.
- Paint your roof a light colour to reduce the heat penetrating into your house in summer.
- Make sure your external walls and windows are shaded in summer.
- Reduce the hours you have the Air conditioner running.
- Also, running your evaporative cooler on Low rather than High, or increasing the temperature of the cooling cycle on a split system will save energy (10% for each 1ºC)
- Lower your hot water system thermostat to 60ºC to lower it’s energy demand
- Turn off the booster on your solar hot water system
- Install a low-flow showerhead to reduce demand for hot water
- Replace “normal” incandescent bulbs with energy saving Compact Fluoros (CFL’s)
- Check the seals of the fridge & freezer. If the seals can hold a $5 note firmly, they are OK. If not, replace with new seals.
- Turn off at the point any appliances that use Standby Power. The main culprits are: TV, DVD player, Computer screen, Stereo, Microwave.
Energy Efficiency Ratings
When choosing a new appliance is often the best opportunity to work toward saving energy. By reading and using the labels mandatory on new appliances, you can make an informed decision about the long term power demand and cost (both to you and the environment). Quite often cheaper appliances will ultimately cost you more through the electricity and water demands over their life span.
Energy Rating Labels:
Energy Rating is the basic star rating labelling scheme to gauge how efficient an electrical appliance is. It applies to fridges and freezers, washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers and some air conditioners.
All new appliances should have a label like the one located to the right.
Reading these labels can save you money in the long term, as an inefficient appliance will cost significantly more to run over it’s lifespan. Go to http://energyrating.gov.au for more info and product specifications
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