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Economy

Energy

In 2003 some 91 percent of the electricity produced annually in Australia was generated in thermal facilities, the majority of which burned bituminous coal or lignite (brown coal). Perhaps because most of the huge coal reserves are located in or near the most densely populated regions, Australia has a heavy, well-established reliance on coal for energy production. Australia also has several hydroelectric plants, notably the major Snowy Mountains Scheme (primarily serving Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney) and a number of smaller facilities in Tasmania. Australia’s total annual generation of electricity was 216 billion kilowatt-hours in 2003. Natural gas is commonly used for domestic heating and cooking. Australian researchers are studying the prospects of increased efficiencies in fossil fuel usage and of solar and wind energy uses; several small pilot projects have been in operation for some time in various regions.

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