Australian news, and some related international items

Australian government urged to act on energy efficiency – Australian Council of Social Service

energy-efficiencyAustralian social service council urges government action on energy efficiency Renewable Energy Magazine 30 Aug 13   The Australian Council of Social Service is calling for urgent government action on affordable energy for low income households according to a new report.

The report, entitled Energy Efficiency and People on Low Incomes, identifies measures to empower households to become active participants in controlling their energy use as well as becoming more involved in the energy market and reducing energy costs.  

“Energy efficiency should be a key policy response to address the impacts of rising energy prices, yet we’ve heard little mention of it in the current political debates about cost of living pressures and energy affordability” said Andrea Pape, ACOSS Senior Policy Officer. “ACOSS advocates an energy efficiency policy agenda which includes direct investment in building and fixture upgrades as well as incentives to stimulate private landlord investment in energy efficiency measures.”

Ms Pape added that the policy proposals are designed to improve energy efficiency in low income households including both private rental and social housing. Investment will improve affordability, climate resilience and health outcomes for current and future occupants. 

People on low incomes in Australia, as in many other countries around the world, are especially prone to the burden of energy price rises but they lack the capital investment required to upgrade the energy efficiency of their homes and are also more likely to own inefficient appliances. This has resulted in a lower incidence of measures such as insulation in low income housing and tenanted properties. While government programmes have been beneficial, they also need to be complemented by measures that deliver energy efficiency over the long term, particularly with regard to building and fixture upgrades.  

“Targeted retrofits of the worst performing social housing where health, climate and hardship risks are greatest should be a high priority” continued Ms Pape. “We know that those most at risk from heatwaves are low income people, the elderly and people living with disabilities or health issues. We need to build the safety and resilience of our housing stock, and we need to start with the most vulnerable households first. This is a sensible approach in the current fiscal environment and we urge all sides of politics to commit to action on this important front.”

ACOSS proposals include the introduction of landlord tax incentives for energy efficiency measures in rental properties, the introduction of energy efficiency standards for rental properties along with mandatory disclosure of energy and water efficiency of all properties at point of sale, additional funding for targeted retrofits for the worst performing and highest risk social housing stock and financial support to help low income households afford the up-front costs of energy efficiency upgrades.  

Further information:  Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)


August 30, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment

Australian buildings can go gas free, AND halve their energy use

Aust buildings could halve energy use in decade – gas free   By  on 6 August 2013  A nationwide plan to transform Australia’s existing building stock into models of energy efficiency and renewable power generation has found that residential and commercial energy use could be cut in half, and could reach zero emissions from their operations, within 10 years.

Launched on Tuesday, the The Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan – a joint effort from climate think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions and The University of Melbourne Energy Institute – sets out a strategy to retrofit Australia’s buildings, to reduce energy bills, generate renewable energy, increase comfort levels, and make workplaces more productive.


The plan finds the residential building sector would be able to achieve a 53 per cent energy use reduction overall, with some typical home categories seeing over 70 per cent reduction. Commercial buildings are estimated to be able to reduce energy use by 44 per cent overall.

A key element of the plan involves buildings going gas-free, with gas appliances deemed “too inefficient and polluting” compared to modern electric appliances which can replace them – namely heat pumps, or split-system airconditioners, as they are more commonly known. Continue reading

August 7, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment

Energy Savings Agency – a practical proposal by The Greens

Milne,-Christine-1Australian Greens Propose Energy Savings Agency  27 May 13, Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne says an ‘Energy Savings Agency’ will make Australia’s energy system fairer, cheaper and cleaner.

Announcing the plan on Friday, Senator Milne saidFederal and State Governments had failed to prevent a blowout in spending on poles and wires; accusing some state governments on profiting from their electricity assets.

“Selling less electricity is not in their interest which is why reform of the energy market is too slow and why intervention is vital.”The Greens say the Federal Government had committed to fast-tracking establishment of a National Energy Savings Initiative to replace state-based energy
efficiency trading schemes, but three years on is yet to complete a Regulatory Impact Statement.

The proposed Energy Savings Agency would be an independent agency charged with disseminating information, analysis, advocacy and financial support to break down barriers to cheaper and cleaner energy options; such as solar power.

The Greens believe the Agency would also drive down power bills by achieving $1 billion in energy savings – energy efficiency is not only the low hanging fruit in slashing power bills; but also in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, a reduction of 3000 MW of peak demand would be achieved and 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions avoided.

The Energy Savings Agency would also ensure solar power system owners are paid a fair rate for the surplus electricity they export to the mains grid.

According to a paper (PDF) released to coincide with the announcement, “fair value” for solar electricity has been underestimated to date as benefits such as avoided electricity distribution costs and time of production were undervalued.

Targets set under the Agency would initially be ‘collaborative targets’; becoming mandatory targets if networks “do not respond adequately to the targets in this form within 18 months”.

Senator Milne said the proposal has been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office and will cost $405 million to run each year.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency, politics | Leave a comment

Home efficiency is having a major impact

Five things we learned this week …., REneweconomy, By    23 November 2012“…. It’s not just renewables the incumbents have to contend with, it’s also falling demand. And it seems much of it is to do with consumer choice. A press release from Mark Dreyfus, parliamentary secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency this week highlighted just how far we have reduced our consumption, even as we bulk up on household appliances.

An eight star (yes, 8) TV in the small to medium range now costs $21 to run, one sixth the running cost of a 3-star TV, and one-twentieth the cost of a 1-star TV. Even in the large category, a 7-star TV costs just $69 a year to run, compared with a 2 star TV currently which costs $250 a year to operate. Samsung got a gong for the 8-star, LG for the 7-star.

Dreyfus says 10-star TVs are now coming into the market, causing the government to upgrade its star rating scheme to remove the bottom three rungs. These and more efficient fridges and laptops are expected to save households and businesses $5.2 billion dollars in 2020 alone. The biggest consumer in the household in terms of kilowatts consumed is often the clothes dryer. That’s where solar comes in as a really useful energy source  – just hang them outside.

And don’t miss Sophie Vorrath’s The week in green numbers ….

November 23, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment

Solar panels, energy efficiency, high utility prices, are causing slump in demand for coal powered electricity

Power industry in the dark as demand wilts WA Today October 19, 2012 – “…… Demand slump The process itself is clear enough. Higher prices are prompting people to use less power, whether at home or at work. The higher dollar has forced some energy-intensive manufacturers to reduce output or shift abroad.

Solar panels sprouting on roofs at the pace of about 300,000 homes a year and more insulation batts underneath them are also curbing demand, particularly at peak times. Buildings are also much more energy efficient. Continue reading

October 19, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | 2 Comments

South Australian innovation in battery storage for solar and wind power

Energy firm claims battery storage breakthrough SMH, October 10, 2012 – Peter Hannam
Carbon economy editor A South Australian energy firm is claiming an international breakthrough in battery technology that will help generators of solar and wind power store their energy more cheaply.
ZEN Energy Systems today unveiled a computer-controlled storage system – with one model about the size of a bar fridge – which almost doubles the effectiveness of batteries.
“This technology is a game changer for the renewable energy industry and has the potential to change the way individuals and communities use electricity in the future,” ZEN’s chief executive officer, Richard Turner, said.
Mr Turner said as many as 10 Australian utilities are interested in trialling the system and the company has already begun shipping large-scale container-sized units to US clients…….. Continue reading

October 11, 2012 Posted by | efficiency, South Australia | Leave a comment

22 storeys up, Adelaide’s roof garden brings an ecosystem, and cools the building

Adelaide is leading the way in water-sensitive urban design and green roof technology.

Roof gardens proven to cool buildings ABC Radio The World Today Nicola Gage reported this story on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 ELEANOR HALL: Roof gardens are becoming more prevalent in the world’s major cities.

Now a study has found that not only are they building mini-ecosystems, they’re also cooling buildings significantly and reducing carbon emissions, as Nicola Gage reports.

NICOLA GAGE: Major cities have inherently been linked to pollution and rising carbon emissions, but 22 stories up on the roof of a building in Adelaide, there’s a micro-climate that’s returning wildlife to the city.

GRAEME HOPKINS: It’s had bees up here collecting honey, it’s got birds and we’ve identified two moth varieties and no doubt the birds have been chasing the moths. So there’s a whole ecosystem and this has
happened spontaneously on the 22nd floor, so it’s quite amazing. Continue reading

October 10, 2012 Posted by | efficiency, South Australia | Leave a comment

The role of the smart meter in Australia’s renewable energy future

Challenge 13: smart energy demand and renewable supply “….The Conversation, Mark Diesendorf argues that it is high time we got smart about power: how we generate it and how we deliver it. 26 June 12

Global challenge 13: How can growing energy demands be met safely and efficiently?
“……..Question 13 was posed by the Millennium Project in a global context. However, when applied to Australia and other rich countries, the assumption that energy demand should continue to grow must be challenged at the outset.

There is huge potential for increasing the efficiency of energy use through technological improvements (known as “energy efficiency”) and reducing the demand for energy services by fostering behavioural changes (known as “energy conservation”). These are the cheapest and fastest ways of cutting unnecessary energy demand. The key foci are buildings (including the appliances and equipment they contain) and industry.
In the near future, a new tool will become widely available for monitoring and reducing electricity demand: the smart meter as a component of the “smart grid”. Continue reading

June 26, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment

Australia using less ‘baseload’ energy – largely thanks to solar panels

more than half the cut in power use was due to photovoltaic solar panels, solar hot water systems and energy savings programs in Victoria and New South Wales that encourage use of more efficient lightbulbs and appliances.

 the cost of solar energy and energy-efficiency schemes was modest compared with other factors pushing up electricity prices……

Solar panels linked to lower power usageIllawarra Mercury, ADAM MORTON, 20 Jun, 2012  SCHEMES encouraging people to install solar panels and save energy have cut household power consumption and will restrict the pace at which electricity bills increase in coming years, a new analysis has found.

While solar incentive schemes have been criticised as an expensive way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, an industry analysis has found they have led to a reduction in the amount of fossil fuel electricity drawn from the national power grid.

It suggests it is likely no new baseload power plants will be needed over the next decade.

Electricity consumption fell 3.2 per cent over the three years to 2011, ending years of dramatic increases and bucking projections that it would continue to soar due to economic and population growth. Continue reading

June 20, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency, solar | | Leave a comment

The movement for Intelligent energy efficiency

This has special relevance in Australia where customers are witnessing a marked fall in the cost of technologies such as solar PV, as well as being subjected to rising electricity prices, a situation exacerbated by the utilities’ push for time-of-use pricing.

Intelligent efficiency could have a dramatic impact on the demand outlook for Australian utilities, and the sort of new generation needed in coming decades, plus whether or not the tens of billions of dollars being spent on transmission and distribution networks is money well spent.

Industry awaits dawn of federal solar project, BY  GILES PARKINSON   The Australian June 08, 2012 “……..Smart thinking HERE’S a new concept in reducing energy consumption: intelligent efficiency. Essentially it refers to a movement beyond energy-efficient light bulbs and other savings devices to a systems-based approach that combines the benefits of a suite of new technologies such as smart meters, renewables such as solar PV and electric vehicles. Continue reading

June 8, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment

Australian govt helping local councils, low income earners, to get solar hot water systems

Solar funds redirected to councils, poor, Business Spectator, 6 Jun 2012 The federal government has finally announced what it plans to do with the $45 million left over after the solar hot water rebate program was wound up earlier this year.

Climate change parliamentary secretary Mark Dreyfus said on Wednesday $24 million would be spent on a new program to help local councils install solar or heat pump hot water systems in community facilities. The remaining $20.7 million would be redirected to the existing home energy saver scheme (HESS), which helps poor Australians buy more efficient white goods and air-conditioning systems……

The Australian Greens claimed credit for forcing the government to spend the money on programs that would continue to support the solar hot water industry. “The Greens highlighted the scheme was underspent and insisted the funding allocation be maintained and not lost to general revenue,” leader Christine Milne said in a statement. “So directing this support to lower income householders and to community facilities is a great way to direct the benefits where they
are needed most.”

The Australian Council of Social Services praised Labor for pumping an extra $21 million into the HESS. “It will assist households to better understand and manage energy use,” council chief executive Cassandra Goldie said in a statement.
“New funds for investment in solar hot water systems are an excellent extension of the scheme that will allow households to take action to reduce energy costs.” Australian Manufacturing Workers Union NSW secretary Tim Ayres said the government had pledged the $45 million would be spent on locally-made products…

June 7, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | 1 Comment

Will Tony Abbott say “yes” to the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Bill (GEMS)

One hopes that Tony Abbott might expand his vocabulary from ‘no’ in this particular case. After all it was under the Coalition’s watch that the energy efficiency standards and labelling program started to make an impact. Minimum standards for the energy efficiency of residential and commercial buildings, refrigerators, water heaters, fluorescent tubes, air conditioners, electric motors, and transformers were put in place by the Howard government. Indeed, thanks to Malcolm Turnbull, we started a worldwide trend in phasing out conventional incandescent light globes that create 99 times more heat than light.

Abbott’s power bill ‘yes’ test, CLIMATE SPECTATOR, Tristan Edis, 5 Jun 2012  A little noticed piece of legislation was introduced into parliament last week which is likely to make a big difference to energy bills and carbon emissions – the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Bill (GEMS).
This bill aims to move the country toward a single national system for implementing and enforcing minimum standards of energy efficiency and energy rating labels, instead of the current state-based model we currently have.

What many people may not realise is that the measures which have made the greatest impact to date on reducing Australia’s energy emissions have nothing to do with renewable energy, or natural gas, or clean
coal. Instead it has been lots of little incremental improvements in the energy efficiency of mundane things like refrigerators, light bulbs, houses, office buildings, water heaters, air-conditioners, televisions, and electric motors driven by regulated minimum standards and mandatory energy rating labels. Continue reading

June 6, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment