10 Australian companies that could save the world

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Australia is spoilt with fine weather, an abundance of space and, as the world's ninth largest energy producer, accounting for around 2.4 percent of global energy production, has an enviable amount of natural resources.

A recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy estimated that Australia had approximately 437 trillion cubic feet of recoverable shale gas, while up to 233 billion barrels of shale oil were discovered in South Australia's Arckaringa Basin last January.

This could, in theory, make Australia one of the world's largest exporters of oil, putting it on a par with Saudi Arabia.

Yet for all its potential, the stark reality is that Australia came 57th in The Climate Change Performance Index for 2014. Only Canada, Iran, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia fared worse.

But the country is redoubling its efforts when it comes to clean tech. Here, we feature 10 Australian companies at the forefront of clean energy.

By Anmar Frangoul, Special to CNBC.com

Global Future Solutions

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Founded in 2009, Global Future Solutions beat 150 other companies to come first in the Australian CleanTECH Competition for 2013.

The Queensland based company produces sustainable and non-toxic enzyme, antibacterial and antibiotic products, from sanitisers and disinfectants that kill germs to portable, chemical free water purifiers and products that kill off latrine odour.

The company's GFS MEGR102 has won plaudits for being a green alternative to toxic biocides – chemicals used to suppress organisms harmful to humans, animals, and the natural world – used in coal seam gas fracking, the technique used to extract oil and gas from shale.

The company's work isn't confined to Australia. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that wreaked havoc in Haiti (pictured), Global Future Solutions visited the country, testing the disaster zone for bacteria and supplying camps there with the products to battle infections – including cholera – and improve sanitation.


Greensense

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Greensense provide companies with software that enables organisations to make their buildings more sustainable, by providing live data that allows users to monitor and manage energy use.

Software developed by Greensense has helped a wide range of companies and institutions reduce their energy consumption, including seven schools who saw an average weekly fall of 26 percent, and the identification of AUS$80,000 ($71,824) of savings at Patersons Stadium (pictured), a major sporting arena in Western Australia.


AquaGen

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With over 16,000 miles of coastline and more than 80 percent of the country living on the coast, Australia's potential for wave power is vast.

In a recent report Australia's national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization found that wave energy could supply approximately 11 percent of Australia's energy by 2050.

AquaGen, a Victoria based start-up, is one of many innovative companies looking to make the most of the ocean's potential energy. They have developed SurgeDrive, which captures the energy created by waves to produce both electricity and desalinated water.

As well as having two sites in Australia – one for research and development, the other a pilot site – AquaGen are operating as far afield as Israel, where they are taking part in research for a desalination project, and Brazil, where they are exploring opportunities for the development of wave farms along the huge Brazilian coastline.


Bombora Wavepower

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Based in Perth, Bombora Wavepower has developed cutting edge technology that will harness the ocean's power to generate clean, zero-emission, renewable energy.

The company's Wave Energy Converter Device, or WECD, is a V-shaped structure which sits on the sea bed at depths of between four and fifteen meters and is designed to capture waves' energy.

"[It's] all about creating a low capital solution with high conversion efficiencies to deliver the lowest cost of electricity. It's an untapped resource at the moment, but it's complementary to all the other renewable resources – wind, solar and geothermal," Glen Ryan, a director at the company, said in a film on the Bombora website.


Blue Diesel

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West Australian biodiesel company Blue Diesel has developed technology that uses a "high intensity reactor" to produce biodiesel at a much faster rate than conventional production techniques.

Biodiesel is a renewable, clean burning fuel that is created using anything from cooking oil to animal fat.

Coming from organic sources, biodiesel creates fewer CO2 emissions than conventional diesel, improves air quality and because it is non-toxic causes less damage than conventional diesel if spilled.

Austcane Energy

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Austcane Energy, based in Queensland, was founded in 2010. The company's goal is to build the country's "first dedicated Ethanol Distillery based on sugar cane". In order for this to happen, $220 million of investment is needed.

According to Canegrowers Australia – a body which represents 80 percent of the country's sugarcane producers – Australia is the third-largest supplier of raw sugar in the world, with the Australian cane industry producing over 30 million tonnes every year.

Once the plant is fully operational, Austcane hopes that 600,000 litres of biofuel and 49,000 megawatt hours of electricity will be produced annually.


Energy Matters

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Most of Australia receives over 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, with some parts of the country exceeding 3,500 hours. Australian summers are long, hot and dry – 2014's heat wave saw temperatures in Melbourne reach 41 degrees centigrade.

It's not surprising then, that Energy Matters – a Victoria based company founded in 2005 and dedicated to solar energy – has installed over 15,000 solar panel systems in just under 10 years on private houses, commercial buildings and schools .

Solar energy is seen as a cost-effective, low carbon alternative to fossil fuels. Once a homeowner or company has paid for installation, electricity costs are usually cheaper.

Solar is also renewable, and clean, with the UK's Energy Savings Trust reporting that a solar powered home could save more than a tonne of CO2 annually.

Renewable Energy Solutions Australia

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Wind power is perhaps one of the most controversial forms of renewable energy around.

Supporters believe that the clean energy produced by wind make expanding the number of turbines on the planet a no brainer. Detractors point to noise pollution, the destruction of picturesque views and disruption to local wildlife.

Based in Brisbane, Renewable Energy Solutions Australia (RESA) has sought to tackle the issue head on, developing the Eco Whisper Turbine, which can generate up to 20 kW of power.

According to RESA, the Eco Whisper generates up to 30 percent more power than standard turbines, and is 'virtually silent' thanks to a unique 30 blade design. The Eco Whisper can also generate power in all wind conditions.

In 2012, the design won a 2012 Queensland Premier's Sustainability Award in the Innovation in Technology category.

Katru Eco Inventions

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New South Wales based KATRU Eco Inventions is another Australian company leading the way in wind power.

While we are used to seeing wind turbines in the countryside (pictured) or on our coasts, where space is abundant, they have developed a wind turbine for the "urban built environment", where space is often at a premium.

In January 2014 the company was given an AUS$189,377 ($170,022) grant as part of the Australian government's Clean Technology Innovation Program.

The company's IMPLUX turbine is designed to sit on top of large urban buildings – from apartments to office blocks – and is, according to KATRU, "capable of extracting power at lower wind speeds and can produce power for longer periods of time".

In addition, IMPLUX has the ability to generate power even when the wind changes direction 'rapidly and repeatedly'.

Pollinate Energy

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Launched in 2012 by a group of young Australians, Pollinate Energy's focus is on "eliminating energy poverty". A social business, Pollinate Energy are currently working in the slums of Bangalore, where electricity is scarce.

The company provides members of the local community with training in how to replace dangerous kerosene lamps (pictured) by selling portable solar panels, a source of clean, renewable and safe energy.

So far, over 10,000 people in Bangalore have been provided with solar systems.