When you’re spending more time at home, your local streets, household routines and neighbourhood nuances may become more familiar than you like. If you’re looking for fresh ways to learn something new, we’ve put together a list of powerful facts about energy. Read carefully and you’ll be well-equipped once trivia nights come back onto your calendar.
Thunderbolts and lightning
Although it sounds a lot less impressive when it’s called an ‘electrical discharge’, that’s exactly what a strike of lightning is. At any one time, it’s expected that there are 2000 active thunderstorms across the globe and almost 10 million strikes every day1—plus a few extras if we count the regular artificial strikes at Questacon.
The average lightning bolt contains 5 billion joules of energy.1 The average kitchen kettle uses 200 watt-hours to boil one jug of water, which means one lightning strike is enough to power up your kettle almost 7000 times—enough for over 41,000 cups of tea.
Australia’s sunny disposition
Far and wide, Australia is known for its beaches, deserts, wildlife and heat. Not everyone is a surfer, but the heat of the ‘Australian sun’ is correct. Australia has the highest level of solar radiation per square metre of any continent.2 This is a reminder to wear your sunscreen, but it also makes for excellent solar energy generation, which may explain why 1 in 4 Australian households now have solar.3
We may not have hover boards or flying cars, but yes, gigawatts are real—and it’s a lot of energy. It goes like this:
1,000 watts = 1 kilowatt (kW)
1 million watts = 1 megawatt (MW)
1 billion watts = 1 gigawatt (GW)
To put that into perspective, 1 GW is equal to more than half of all the energy generated by large-scale solar farms in Australia in 2018.4
We’ve talked a lot about joules and watts. Just as a newton is named after Sir Isaac Newton and a saxophone is named after Adolphe Sax, joules and watts were named in honour of the people who developed them as well—both named James.
James Prescott Joule
Joule was an English physicist, known for his studies relating to heat and various forms of energy in the 1800s,5 which he referred to as ‘Joule’s law’. His work formed the basis for thermodynamics—the relationship between heat and other energy—which is the science behind how our cars, fridges and air conditioners work.
Watt was a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer in the 1700s and early-1800s. ‘Watt’, the name for one unit of power, was named after him to honour his contributions to the development of the steam engine.
An energised history
The word, energy, derives from two Greek words: ‘en-‘, meaning ‘in’ and ‘ergon’ meaning ‘work’.6 The word was first used in a lecture by Thomas Young, a British physicist, in 1802. This timeline reflects the increasing importance of energy and power as the Industrial Revolution was in full swing.
A not-so-new invention
The number of electric vehicles (EV) on Australian roads is skyrocketing. Between 2019–21, the number of EVs on ACT roads almost quadrupled.7 Australia-wide, more than half of consumers will consider an EV for their next car.8
Characterised by the high-tech vehicles of Tesla Inc., the worldwide leader of EV sales, you’re likely to expect that EVs are a new creation. In fact, the first electric car can be traced back to 1828—only five years after the invention of the rain coat.9 Albeit, this was a model car, but it laid the foundations for the electric car we know today. In 1884, the first production EV hit English roads—which makes EVs at least 137 years young.
So, do you now feel empowered by your newfound energy knowledge and facts? Taking the time to understand your energy is the key to better bills. Do you know what uses the most energy in your household? Learn what it is and how to reduce it.
Interested about the power of EVs for your home or business? Your own chargers, right there, right when you need them, mean you can make the most of your electric driving experience.
Are you one of the growing number of Australians with solar? Make sure you’re maximising your energy investment with a great feed-in tariff.