Finkel recommends major new push on energy efficiency 09 June 2017

The Energy Efficiency Council has applauded a recommendation from Australia's Chief Scientist, Dr. Alan Finkel, that governments ramp up efforts on energy efficiency to cut demand, lower consumer bills and reduce the need for investment in new infrastructure.

The Finkel Review argues that households, commercial buildings and large industrial energy users can all benefit from cutting energy waste, with big benefits for the energy system overall.

Urgent support for gas efficiency needed

Dr. Finkel highlights the opportunities to improve gas efficiency in energy intensive industries, but also notes that energy users are likely to need support to make the transition.

"We have extraordinary circumstances in energy markets right now," said Luke Menzel, CEO of the Energy Efficiency Council, the peak body for energy efficiency and demand response experts. "Energy intensive industries are grappling with a new reality – a world of massive price hikes, reliability issues, and inherent volatility in gas and electricity markets."

“Much of the focus has been on freeing up new gas supplies, but this will take several years to have an effect. We believe there is an urgent need for transitional government support for gas efficiency to ensure the viability of manufacturing over the next five years."

Mechanisms for ramping up energy efficiency need to be expanded

Dr. Finkel has recommended a Clean Energy Target that will encourage emission reductions from power supply.

However similar measures to improve energy efficiency across the economy are also needed. Energy Efficiency Certificate Schemes in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia do exactly that, delivering cost effective emissions reductions while saving consumers money.

"Just last week, the Climate Change Authority and Australian Energy Market Commission recommended a National Energy Savings Scheme based on the schemes that operate in Victoria and NSW."

"We believe an expansion of these schemes to places like Queensland and Western Australia is well overdue, and would help deliver the benefits that Dr. Finkel highlights."

Comprehensive recommendations ready to go

The Energy Efficiency Council (EEC) has released a comprehensive plan to keep energy affordable, the Australian Energy Efficiency Policy Handbook.

“With a wave of new investment in renewable energy and storage on the horizon, it’s essential that we fix the flaws in our energy system,” said Luke Menzel. “If we just focus on addressing issues with our energy supply, we’ll only be tackling half the problem and bills will continue to rise.”

“Minister Frydenberg has recognised the importance of energy efficiency. In 2015, he set a target to improve Australia’s energy productivity (a measure of energy efficiency) by 40 per cent by 2030 and signed a new National Energy Productivity Plan. However, we won’t reach our target and the Plan will gather dust unless we invest in real action,” said Luke Menzel.

“It’s essential Australia's energy ministers work together to fix both the supply side and the demand side of the market. The release of the Finkel Review is our opportunity to do just that,” concluded Luke Menzel.