Teacher ideas: rich task: future energy needs of Australia

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Teaching focus

Review Australia's energy needs and how they are currently being met. Provide advice on how to meet Australia's future energy needs.

What you need

Access to a computer and internet

What to do

Explain that students will work in small teams and take the role of a group of advisors to government. They will represent scientists and economists.

Introduce the table on the activity sheet Future energy needs of Australia that students will use to summarise their ideas. Use the first option as an example and discuss the problems, benefits and priority. Suggest to the students they should use a scale such as high, medium and low for the 'Priority' column.

Explain that they will have access to computers and the internet to use a search engine and key words to access information for each option.

Provide students with the activity sheet Future energy needs of Australia.

Compare each group's completed table. Look at what each group selected as the proposed priority.

Further inquiry

In the long term, production of greenhouse gases (ghgs) needs to be reduced by 60 per cent compared to today's levels. In the short term, it needs to be reduced by 20 per cent from 1988 levels.

Prompt students to think about energy needs by asking questions such as:

  • How effective and fair would it be if each family was allocated a greenhouse budget?

  • What would need to be changed in your household if you were to reduce your ghg emissions to an annual budget of 2 tonnes per person, that is, 8 tonnes for a family of four people?

  • How would you encourage people to work towards this goal?

  • How would such a policy be monitored? What problems might result from this process?

Teacher background

Coal, natural gas, various petroleum products derived from oil wells and hydro are used to meet the current energy needs of Australia. The use of wind energy is increasing, but is only a small part of the energy mix. Some biofuels are being produced. Solar hot water is becoming more common, but there is little use of solar cells to make electricity. In Australia nuclear reactors are not used to generate electricity.


Student activity sheet: Future energy needs of Australia (Word, 49 KB, pdf, 20 KB)