Many electricity companies sell power from renewable sources, but depending on where you live, different options are available. Western Australia doesn’t have as many electricity companies as the eastern states of Australia because the industry was only recently deregulated and until a few years ago electricity was provided by a state government owned company.

Perth has only one company which provides electricity. Until I install my own solar panels to generate electricity, I have to use their electricity. I purchase it through their NaturalPower product, which provides energy generated from renewable sources. Synergy Energy says,

When you switch to NaturalPower you will still receive a mix of energy types [coal-fuelled, solar, wind, hydro,etc], as it is not practical to install additional power lines just to carry NaturalPower. However, we guarantee the amount of energy you use will be sourced from renewable sources and will increase the overall amount of renewable energy in the grid.

NaturalPower costs 3c per unit more than ordinary electricity. I’m a student and so I don’t have a lot of money, but the increase in my electricity bill after switching to NaturalPower hasn’t been onerous.

GreenPower NaturalPower is accredited by the National GreenPower Accreditation Program and Green Electricity Watch rates it as “good,” the highest rating for WA energy providers.

But NaturalPower isn’t all good. I don’t like the fact that if more people sign up for it, this doesn’t necessarily mean the electricity provider will buy more energy from renewable sources. I guess if enough people sign up, they will have to because they

guarantee the amount of energy you use will be sourced from renewable sources.

A quicker way to increase the amount of renewable energy would be to increase Australia’s Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, which is set at 9,500GWh by 2010. This current target will only increase Australia’s renewable energy market by about 1-2 percent. The Australian Conservation Foundation suggests a better target would be 25 percent.

Synergy Energy has another product called Earth Friendly where they offset the emissions created in the production of the coal generated electricity by contributing to greenhouse gas reduction programs. These include: sequestration (planting trees), methane flaring, landfill diversion, and fuel substitution (converting coal or oil to gas). Green Electricity Watch recommends this be avoided.


4 thoughts on “GreenPower

  1. Hi Clare

    There’s going to be a TV programme over here next Monday evening looking at the claims of ‘green’ products, including ‘green’ electricity tariffs. The TV channel has been controversial lately with its sweeping generalisations against CC scientists and the like, so I don’t know how reliable the programme will be.

    I can’t understand why Australia isn’t doing more to harness the sun’s energy. There’s so much of it down there!

    Gorgeous photos of the plants btw. :)

  2. Hi Matt

    Re: Australia’s use of solar power. You see a lot of houses in perth with solar hot water systems, although I don’t know if this is more than in other places. Remote areas which are off the grid have been receiving government rebates to install renewable systems eg. solar (great in the desert) to supplement diesel generators.

    The University of NSW and Australian National University are internationally recognised in solar technology development, but research ideas are often commercialised overseas because the venture capital can’t be found in Australia. eg. UNSW’s recent $1.7m licensing agreement with Taiwanese solar cell manufacturer E-Ton Solar Tech Co. Ltd.

    Channel 4’s previous effort “The Great Global Warming Swindle” was screened last night on Aust TV. Luckily my coat-hanger aerial doesn’t let me get the channel it was on, so I missed all the fun. I’ve read what Monbiot and a group of climate scientists from the Aust Bureau of Meteorology have said about it. I’m sure you know about Monbiot’s protracted argument with Alexander Cockburn, who also thinks that carbon dioxide doesn’t cause climate change. I used to regularly read CounterPunch. I guess I shouldn’t believe what they write anymore.

  3. Venture capital. Yes, well the Americans have pretty much had that sewn up for the last few decades. But I guess the Asians are there now, hence Taiwan’s move with the Aussie solar. Are there not any big solar building projects going on in Oz though?

  4. Hi Matt,
    When I’ve seen pics of solar panels going forever they always seem to be in the US desert. And recently I saw on TV a farmer in Germany who’s filling some of his fields with solar panels.
    But I did a search and found: Alice Springs’ successful bid to become a Solar City. (Alice Springs is in the middle of Aust, Uluru is nearby). This will put
    >Alice Springs on the map as Australia’s solar centre
    >and help the town become more economically and
    >environmentally sustainable.
    A conference in my profession is happening in Alice next year, I’ll have to make sure I go and check it out.

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