Training & Events

Training & Events

The 2022 Energy Management Zone wrap

By EEC Senior Project Officer Victoria Townsend

If the inaugural Energy Management Zone (EMZ) at All-Energy Australia proved anything, it's that the the time is right for conversations about how smart energy management can improve business’ productivity, slash bills, and further corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals by reducing emissions. Hosted by the Energy Efficiency Council, the EMZ was abuzz for the full two days of All-Energy. The zone comprised a dedicated area of the All-Energy showroom floor where EEC members ABB Australia, Green Energy Trading, Energy Smart Water, Epson Australia, Simble, Northmore Gordon and other organisations showcased their expertise through technology demonstrations and deep-dive discussions into the support they provide businesses looking to take control of their energy management journey.

The EMZ was also home to a stage hosted by EEC Head of Projects Holly Taylor. Featuring 21 speakers across six sessions led by EEC staff Julianne Tice, Rachael Wilkinson and me, panels featured energy end users and the service providers who supported them to take control of their energy use. End users included a diverse mix including farms, governments, not-for-profits, multi-billion-dollar businesses, and SMEs – all who have explored innovative energy management solutions to reduce emissions, cut costs, and improve resilience. Together, the service providers and business owners were able to discuss tailored business solutions while providing key takeaways for businesses at any stage of their own energy efficiency journeys.

Wednesday’s panels featured leading businesses in energy-intensive industry sectors – agriculture, food and beverage manufacturing, and materials manufacturing – sharing energy management steps.

First industry on stage was the agriculture sector.  For traditional farms, adoption of on-site generation is crucial to build resilience to blackouts, ensuring consistent supply of energy at a reasonable price (rather than turning to expensive diesel-powered backup generators), while a key concern for urban farms is ensuring energy use is automated to provide the most efficiency, due to the reputation for indoor vertical farms being energy intensive.

Food and beverage manufacturers then took the stage to share their energy upgrades, emphasising the importance of comprehensive metering and submetering to understand where energy is being used and where it can be cut or optimised.

A materials manufacturing panel then turned the conversation to demand response – also known as demand flexibility – as an opportunity for manufacturers to reduce their energy bills by being rewarded for changing when they run their most energy-intensive operations.

On Thursday, we heard from representatives responsible for Australia’s building assets across residential, commercial, and government sectors, and how they incorporate smart energy management into their building management to reduce costs and emissions.  The residential panel covered the need for policy and regulatory settings to make Australia’s housing stock more comfortable through measures like insulation, resident education, and energy-saving automation. In the discussion about upgrading commercial buildings, it was noted that barriers to implementing energy upgrades extend beyond the financial: a large struggle is finding workers with the necessary skills and training in retrofitting and installing new equipment in old buildings.

The day wrapped up with representatives from government continuing the conversation about how to make the business case for energy upgrades and the need to look at other measures of success beyond the simple payback period – and the importance of measurement and verification to track against those non-financial success metrics.

The panels on the EMZ stage, the conversations at the EEC both, and the plenary presentations at All-Energy all echoed the same message: Australia is going through a massive transition in our energy system, and businesses need to take proactive steps to manage their energy usage to avoid exposure to price hikes and international volatility, reduce pressure on the electricity grid, and drive down Australia’s emissions.

Make sure you stay posted to EEC in coming weeks as we make audio available from the EMZ sessions.

Additional resources:

The EEC’s Energy Briefing platform provides businesses a one-stop-shop to learn what is going on in energy markets and policy, what energy upgrades they should consider, and, importantly, what grants and incentives are available for them. A common thread through the conversations at the Energy Management Zone was that business struggle to get the support they need for these upgrades, including being connected with the government incentives available for them. Leveraging tax incentives to improve energy performanceis a guide for businesses looking to invest in smart energy management and outlines one of the best – and soon-to-expire – incentives they can leverage to do so. Before 30 June 2023, any investment a business makes in an eligible depreciating asset (such as an upgrade to old equipment, or the purchase of a new asset like solar panels, batteries, or lighting) can be completely written off in the that year’s taxes. This Covid recovery stimulus measure has been used by farmers to upgrade their tractors and sole traders to invest in new computers, but many businesses are not aware of the benefits that come from using the incentive to invest in energy upgrades. In addition to the ongoing savings from lower energy bills and improved operational performance, the temporary full expensing tax write-off means the payback period for an energy upgrade is slashed even further. To learn more, watch this animation for an explainer of the incentive, and download the guide here.  

To learn how to navigate Australia’s energy transition and net zero transformation, sign up to the Energy Briefing mailing list and follow us on twitter (@_energybriefing).