Since the Industrial Revolution energy consumption has risen dramatically, from under 20 gigajoules (GJ) per person per year in the pre-industrial era to over 75 GJ per person today (and more than 300 GJ per person in the United States). Australia’s consumption has fallen very slightly in the past few years, but still remains well over 200 GJ per person. We use that energy to heat our homes, cook our food, fuel our cars, run our flat-screen TVs and power the industries that fill our shopping baskets.
Due to its high per capita consumption of fossil fuels and massive exports of coal, Australia is one of the world’s worst carbon polluters relative to its population. Yet Australia also has massive potential for renewable energy development, particularly photovoltaic and wind energy which could soon be the cheapest forms of power in Australia.