As the world continues to transition from using fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources, the identification of untapped renewable resources is becoming an important factor in combating climate change.
Australian comparison website Compare the Market has analysed the renewable energy landscape of eight OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries to determine how much potential they have for harnessing untapped renewable energy sources.
The company examined four different types of green power within each country - hydroelectricity, wind power, geothermal energy and solar energy - and each was identified as having low, medium or high potential.
Of the countries analysed, Australia and the United States returned the best scores. Australia has high potential for all sources except geothermal, which was marked medium due to the geothermal basins sitting so deep underground.[i] Meanwhile in the US, wind power is the only source that has medium potential rather than high, primarily due to the remote location of some of the country's best wind farms.[ii]
Countries such as Canada, Turkey, Japan and Germany all contain resources that maintain high and medium levels of potential.
The United Kingdom and Sweden are the only two countries in the analysis that returned low scores - both of which were for geothermal energy. Much like Australia, the UK's geothermal energy is situated at depths that are difficult to access.[iii] Sweden is located over dense bedrock which makes it very difficult to access geothermal flows.[iv]
Spokesperson for Compare the Market, Simon Downes, emphasises the importance of utilising renewable energy sources as much as possible.
"At a time when environmental impacts are being scrutinised much more closely than ever before, consumers are in a great position to make informed choices when it comes to their energy consumption," said Simon.
"There are a lot of great ways to make more sustainable choices even in one's own home, such as installing solar panels and rainwater tanks. Reducing energy usage also has added financial benefits.
"Energy products with carbon offsetting contributions and GreenPower are worth considering for environmentally aware households within Australia, for example."
To see the full research that went into informing this piece and an infographic of results, visit: https://www.comparethemarket.com.au/energy/untapped-renewable-energy/
[i] Australian Renewable Energy Agency - Exploring Australia's geothermal potential: https://arena.gov.au/news/exploring-australias-geothermal-potential/
[ii] Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy - Advantages and Challenges of Wind Energy: https://www.energy.gov/eere/wind/advantages-and-challenges-wind-energy
[iii] House of Commons Library - Potential for geothermal energy resources in the UK: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cdp-2018-0146/
[iv] IVA's Electricity Crossroads project - Electricity production in Sweden: https://www.iva.se/globalassets/201604-iva-vagvalel-elproduktion-english-c.pdf