Focus on energy efficiency to achieve savings and drive carbon mitigation

22 Jul 2009Archived News Energetics in the News

PUBLISHED: Green Capital Newsletter by Jonathan Jutsen, Executive Director and Founder, Energetics Pty Ltd, writes about energy efficiency.

The International Energy Agency expects that 53% of all carbon mitigation required to 2050 can be delivered through energy efficiency. This may seem large until you consider the current energy efficiency of the economy.

Consider the thermal efficiency of the entire electricity supply industry from coal to consumer: barely 20% of the energy in coal can be found in its end use application.

For carbon emissions’ efficiency it is even worse, as coal produces high emissions compared to gas. The out-come is further worsened by low thermal efficiency across the supply chain and the emission of methane in coal mining. Given that Australia may have to decarbonise by 80-90% by 2050, there is clearly no place for this supply chain, except where carbon capture and storage can be made to work economically. There is a critical role for distributed generation using renewables, or high efficiency natural gas co-generation where the waste energy from generation can be usefully applied for heating and cooling.

The traditional energy supply model needs to be turned around. We need to start by focusing on the end use service required and then match the energy supply to the service.

Energy efficiency also needs to be applied to the end use, and while there is plenty of ‘low hanging fruit’ with improved operations and maintenance procedures, major gains can be made through better monitoring and controls, process optimization, and the application of more efficient process routes.

For the successful operation of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, energy efficiency is a cost effective way for liable parties to reduce their need to buy pollution permits. It also delivers significant cost savings to the business at a time of economic downturn.

Energy efficiency needs to have a much higher priority in government carbon mitigation policy, though there are signs that this is now being recognised in Canberra with the release of the National Energy Efficiency Strategy. This is a welcomed first step through far from adequate to meet the increasing demands for rapid, economy wide carbon mitigation.

Further action is required urgently on demand management regulation incentives for business to accelerate efficiency investments, funding for improved metering and monitoring, a best practice technology demonstration and information transfer program, and regulations to require businesses to evaluate best practice energy/carbon technologies in the development/expansion of new facilities.

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