Energy efficiency key to long-run living standards

03 Nov 2009Archived News Energetics in the News

PUBLISHED: WME Online - Rob Thomson, NSW Regional Manager, Energetics Pty Ltd talks about the need for a total rethink of energy generation and use.

A total rethink of energy generation and use will be required over the coming decade to meet our carbon reduction targets, said Rob Thomson, NSW regional manager of consultancy Energetics. He told last week’s Energy Users Association of Australia conference the country had to find another 115-225 million tonnes of abatement by 2020, depending on the final target adopted.

“If we want to maintain our standard of living we need to change our way of thinking and shift to newer ways of producing energy through either solar, renewables, cogeneration systems, and even the way we look at transport and building infrastructure. We have to re-invent ourselves across the board,” Thomson said.

“Companies will need to anticipate shifting customer and supplier expectations, to plan capital expenditure programs, and to track emerging technologies, goods and services.”

“Add to that the direct impact of climate change in terms of forecast water shortages, increased extreme weather events and food production shortfalls, and it is clear that every business will need to re-examine and re-shape its business model.”

Currently, to achieve a 5% reduction on 2005 levels by 2020 what is needed is a carbon emissions reduction of 140MT. If Australia accepts the challenge of 25% the reduction figure is scaled up to 250MT.

“So far what has been set is an abatement target of 140-250 mega tonnes (MT), with the Renewable Energy Target set to abate 45MT and an additional 25MT through Energy Efficiency Opportunities [program],” said Thomson.

“There is still a large gap of 115-225MT to fill in order to meet future carbon reduction targets and an increasing need to find ways to fill the gap.”

He said 54% of Australia’s carbon reduction by 2030 will need to come from energy efficiency; while the rest will be from renewables (23%), carbon capture and storage (14%) and finally from nuclear energy (9%).

Carbon is embedded across every facet of business, from direct energy use, transportation systems, business inventory, capital projects, to production inputs with varying degrees of carbon intensity.

In taking steps to tackle rising emissions, governments are demanding businesses assess and re-engineer business practices to achieve greater efficiencies and reduce overall emissions.

Furthermore, businesses are being impacted by escalating energy prices due to infrastructure constraints and global competition for cleaner energy forms, as well as the imposed cost of carbon through taxes or trading regimes.

Opportunities are to be found through improving energy efficiency and resource management. According to marginal abatement cost curves developed by Swedish utility Vattenfall, the main efficiency areas to focus on are insulation, fuel-efficient cars, air conditioning and lighting equipment, water heating and sugarcane biofuels.

Thomson also identified the possibility of improving energy efficiency that is currently wasted by electricity grids by roughly 80%, by focusing on two questions – how much energy is needed to deliver the service/application, and what are the optimum investments in fuel, conversion and supply?

Answering these would lead to:

  • Optimised energy use processes;
  • Energy efficient supply processes designed to meet the new demand;
  • Different management models and effort focused on end use technologies.

Finally, he said Australia should ramp up development of co-generation projects. Currently it generates 4% of energy from co-generation projects compared to the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland which generate over 30% of electricity that way.

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