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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Electricity Demand Falling in Eastern Australia according to CEDEX

New research on energy demand in the National Energy Market (NEM) by Pitt and Sherry's carbon emissions Index (CEDEX) shows demand for power for electricity has been falling since late 2010. Power generation from black coal (mainly in NSW) has been falling since the start of 2009, while there has been a fall in generation from (Victorian) brown coal since July 2012.

Almost certainly the Federal Governments Renewable Energy Target (RET) driving construction of wind farms, and now the Carbon Tax increasing the cost of coal fired power, as well as energy efficiency programs and drop in electricity demand from consumers, has been driving these trends.

The report comments: "Until recently most of the output reduction was being borne by the NSW black coal generators, but in the last few months the burden has shifted to the more emissions intensive Victorian brown coal generators. Moreover, the output reductions are happening at the three most emissions intensive power stations: Hazelwood, Yallourn and Morwell. Perhaps the carbon price is beginning to lend the RET a hand."

Power supplied to the National electricity market by Victoria and NSW has fallen markedly over the last 4 years, while Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania are very slightly falling.

According to the report:
"Expressed as a percentage of demand in 2008-09, the state by state reductions in annual demand to the end of November 2012 are as follows: NSW 8%, Victoria 11%, Queensland 2%, SA 4%, and Tasmania 4%. Changes in demand of electricity on this scale are unprecedented in the entire 120 year history of the electricity supply industry in Australia. There can be little doubt that electricity consumers spurred by a combination of government energy efficiency measures, community awareness, and higher prices, are responding by taking up the many options available to increase the efficiency of electricity use and to change their energy using behaviour to reduce unnecessary consumption."

So ordinary people like you and me are using more energy efficient light bulbs, turning off lights when not being used, installing better insulation to save on our power bills and to personally reduce our energy footprint and take action on climate change.

Even Installation of residential photovoltaic solar panels is having a small but growing effect on reducing electricity demand. The CEDEX report says "In NSW a report by AEMO on uptake of rooftop photovoltaics, published in May 2012, estimated that in 2011 they supplied 0.7 TWh, which is a small part of the total demand reduction of about 4 TWh. Corresponding figures for Victoria are 0.5 TWh from photovoltaics out of a total reduction in NEM demand of about 5 TWh."

That amounts to solar panels contributing to 17% of the reduction in demand in NSW and 10% in Victoria. Not to be sneezed at.

Petroleum use and emissions rising

The bad news in the report is that we appear to be using more petroleum products with their share of emissions consequently rising. "there is no obvious sign of any slowing of the rate of growth in consumption of either aviation fuels or light road vehicle fuels. Clearly, limiting emissions from use of petroleum fuels for transport remains a major challenge for Australian greenhouse gas emissions policy." says the report.

This is also a concern seeing that the world has passed peak oil during 2006. Increasingly demand is going to outstrip the falling production supply, increasing prices for fuel, transport costs, agricultural production costs. There seems to be a lack of concerted Government planning to reduce reliance on petroleum products in all facets of society.

Unfortunately, while you and I reduce our energy footprint and hope to save some money on our next electricity bill, the Baillieu State Government continues to heavily subsidise the brown coal industry in the La Trobe Valley and place impediments to action by reducing the solar feed-in tariff, and introducing drastic planning regulations to stifle wind farm development, driving wind farm investments to states like South Australia and Tasmania.

Victoria has been going backwards on climate and environmental protection since Baillieu was elected while many Victorians want the State Government to take action on climate change.


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