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30 March 2004
5/2004
Commemorative Issue

Renewable Energy

Australia
This special issue of four stamps illustrates the diversity of renewable energy production in Australia today. Renewable energy is produced from sustainable sources such as the sun (solar), wind, water (hydro) and organic matter (biomass). Sustainable sources are those that are essentially inexhaustible or that are replenished quickly through natural processes.

Each of the renewable production methods featured on the stamps has been used in some form in Australia for some time. Yet renewable energy generation accounts for just nine per cent of our total power generation. More than 80 per cent of our energy comes from coal.

Energy production using sustainable sources generally is safer and cleaner than production using fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas. For example coal-fired power plants release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

The Federal Government

Solar  

Solar

:

Solar energy makes direct use of the sun

Wind  

Wind

:

Wind energy is one of the fastest growing technologies in the world. Global wind power capacity has quadrupled over the past five years.

Windmills have been used in Australia for nearly a century. The new way of harnessing wind energy is using

Hydro  

Hydro

:

Hydro power harnesses the energy produced by moving (often falling) water. The moving water turns the blades of a turbine and that mechanical energy is converted to electricity. Unlike solar or wind energy, which depend on daylight or minimum wind speeds respectively, hydro schemes can produce power continuously, or water can be stored in dams and released when required to produce energy on demand.

About eight per cent of our electricity is already produced from hydro schemes. The Snowy Mountains Scheme is Australia

Biomass  

Biomass

:

Biomass is organic matter that can be used to produce electricity and supply heat and fuel. Biomass comes in different forms such as bagasse (the waste plant fibre left after the juice is removed from sugarcane); greenwaste (the tree clippings from gardens, parks or plantations); food processing waste (such as nut shells and grain husks, fruit and vegetable peel and other waste from canneries); and vegetable oils.

Although carbon dioxide is released when biomass is burned, the continued growth of biomass takes an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. So unlike burning coal, using biomass to produce energy does not add to overall carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Biomass also has negligible levels of pollutants.

Another advantage of using biomass for energy production, is that it often recycles the waste products from other processes, such as sawmilling or food processing.

For example bagasse is used to fire boilers in sugar mills. The high-pressure steam produced by the boilers is used to turn turbine blades. The mechanical energy of the turning blades can be converted to electricity.

Much of the steam and electricity from bagasse is used directly by the mill in the sugar making process. The excess electricity is sold on the state

Technical Information

Issue date....................... 30 March 2004
Denominations................ Four x 50c
Designer ........................ Sean Pethick, Spark Studio
Stamp size...................... 37.5 x 26 mm
Perforations.................... 13.86 x 14.6
Printer (all) ..................... SNP Sprint
Paper (gummed) ............. Tullis Russell
Paper (self-adhesive)....... B90
Printing process .............. Lithography
Sheet layout.................... Modules of 50 in two panes of 25
National postmark ........... Green Valley NSW 2190
copyright notice: This material has been reproduced with permission of the Australian Postal Corporation. The original work is held in the National Philatelic Collection.
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