Australia’s strong sun

Australia could become a renewable energy superpower.  One factor behind this is that Australia gets stronger sun than most developed countries.

Here is a strange map that demonstrates this.

It is two maps superimposed on one-another. The first is a normal map of the world.  The second map shows, for each point on the first map, where you would be if you drilled straight down through the centre of the Earth to the other side.

The closer a place is to the equator: (1) the more the sun is directly overhead, (2) the more sunshine it gets, (3) the more electricity is generated from each solar panel, and (4) the cheaper it is for that place to generate electricity from the sun.  This is ignoring other factors like how cloudy a place is.

From the map you can see that:

  • Australia is closer to the equator than the developed countries in northern Europe, northern Asia and northern America.
  • Northern Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Russia are as far from the equator as northern Antarctica
  • Melbourne is as far from the equator as southern Spain, so most of Australia gets stronger sun than Spain and most of Europe.
  • Northern Australia is as far from the equator as the border between the Sudan and Egypt.
  • The southern border of the USA is about the same distance from the equator as Port Macquarie (half way between Sydney and Brisbane). So northern Australia gets more sun than the south of the USA.

Here is another way of understanding how strong Australian sun is, compared to Europe.  People often think of Macquarie Island, which lies far south of New Zealand, as being in the Antarctic.  Well Manchester in England is as far north (latitude 54 degrees north) as Macquarie island is south (latitude 55 degrees south).  Northern Europe gets very weak sun and if it were not for the Gulf Stream, much of Europe would be very cold.

So, considering only the factor of sun strength (closeness to the equator), Australia has better solar resources than most developed countries – and we have other advantages too, which mean that Australia could become a renewable energy superpower.

Renewable Energy Superpower Report (2015)

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