While climate tops the agenda - new plan gives solution for Government 24 June 2010

The Energy Efficiency Council today launched its 2010 policy platform, which they say will provide 50 Megatonnes of carbon emissions reductions, on top of business as usual.

Today’s sees legislation before senate for make large office buildings disclose their energy ratings at the point of sale. This is a vital important first step, but there is much more to be done.

Large scale efficiency is a ‘missing piece’ in Australia’s plans to curb greenhouse emissions. Australia’s electricity networks want to spend $42 billion dollars over the next 5 years. However, a third of this spending is just to cope with ever-increasing power demand - we desperately need measures to direct some of this towards smarter ways to cut electricity waste.

The EEC launch happened in a freshly refurbished office building that shows how smart technologies can cut energy bills and greenhouse emissions nearly in half compared to the market average.

“Our industry supports policies to make this kind of building the norm and not the exception, like the mandatory disclosure bill currently before the senate.” says Rob Murray-Leach, CEO of the Energy Efficiency Council.

The Council has developed an easy seven-point plan to slash waste in the energy system. These policies would cut emissions, save up to $5 billion a year and protect the community from electricity price increases by making the whole system work better.

The Council is calling for three major policies that will transform Australia and put it well on the way to meeting inevitable greenhouse targets. They are:

  • A national energy efficiency target
  • A requirement for investment in efficiency by the networks
  • A National Efficiency Scheme to replace the current state-by-state approach

These policies were developed by experts over a year-long process, and have been successfully run in other countries. For example, the European Union, US and China all have strong national efficiency targets for 2020.The Council also sets out recommendations that explain precisely how the government can deliver massive savings in four key areas: buildings, industry, cogeneration and government operations.

The Energy Efficiency Council president, Simon James, is the General Manager for Honeywell’s Energy and Environment Solutions business. Simon said “The Energy Efficiency Council’s members are already on the ground, delivering great energy efficiency projects in buildings and industry. We know that, with sensible targets and policies, we can unleash even greater energy and carbon savings.”

The launch took place at 260 Elizabeth Street, where smart chillers, lights and fittings will make this at least a 4.5 star NABERS-rated property once 12 months of energy data has been collected. The property’s owner and manager, Investa, supports the policies being promoted by the EEC. Craig Roussac, General Manager of Sustainability, Safety and Environment, says “Investa takes a leadership role in making our buildings as green as possible. But we would much prefer a level playing field, where all buildings have to prominently display their ratings. The tenants should have better information and access to buildings that don’t burden them with unnecessary costs.”

The energy efficiency solution for Australia is not just about buildings. Last year, Australia’s top 199 energy users identified ways to cut their energy use by 60 Petajoules and save $736 million – that’s enough energy to power over a million homes. The Council recommends required energy efficiency improvements of just one per cent per year for these companies, with fair financial support for companies to do more than just the minimum.

Rob Murray-Leach says “You would think that efficiency decisions would be automatic for the big end of town. Sadly that’s not the case, but with some well-thought-out incentives it is possible to switch over to better criteria for these choices.”

Rob Murray-Leach sums up the current state of play in simple terms. “Energy efficiency is nearly half the country’s greenhouse solution and it pays itself back. To take a World Cup metaphor, it should be our more like our lead striker, to implement solutions across the whole economy, but right now it is still warming up on sidelines.”

A Summary of the Policy Recommendations

The Energy Efficiency Council is the peak body for companies that provide energy efficiency services and products to business and government. Together, Australia’s top efficiency experts have developed a set of policies that would transform Australia into a competitive, low-carbon economy.

Three big policies to transform Australia:

1.    An energy efficiency target for Australia
We could meet all the growth in our energy needs over the next decade simply by using the energy we waste now. Australia should follow Europe, China and the US and set a serious energy efficiency target. The Council recommends that Australia cut energy demand by 20 per cent below business-as- usual by 2020.

2.    Targeted investment in efficiency by electricity distributors
Electricity bills are going to increase by as much as 42 per cent over the next three years simply because we’re investing too much in new and expanded electricity networks. If the network companies invest just 10 per cent of this planned spending in energy efficiency they could reduce the need for new infrastructure, reducing energy consumers’ bills.

3.    A National Efficiency Scheme (NES)
A National Efficiency Scheme (NES) would drive energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy. The scheme would also reduce red tape by replacing three existing state

Key sectors for action:

The top 200 companies in Australia use almost twice as much energy as all households put together. Requiring these companies to improve their efficiency by just one per cent each year and giving them targeted financial support to help them meet and exceed this target would save over $2 billion a year while slashing carbon emissions.

A feed-in tariff and changes to the electricity market could create 3000 Megawatts of low-emission cogeneration – that’s double the output of Victoria’s aging Hazelwood power station and around 75 per cent less greenhouse emissions per Megawatt.

Commercial Buildings
Millions of Australians work in aging, inefficient and uncomfortable offices. Combining a new National Efficiency Scheme with a sophisticated loan scheme for commercial buildings would drive a new wave of productivity improvement in our workplaces.

Government Operations
If governments set up specific policies for investing in energy efficiency they could cut their emissions by 30 per cent and save $450 million every year.