Time for an energy efficiency rethink, Energetics says

17 Nov 2011Archived News Energetics in the News

PUBLISHED: Carbon & Environment Daily. Energy efficiency projects that businesses dismissed as uneconomic even a few years back could now be well worthwhile – and not just because of the carbon price, says Energetics executive director Jon Jutsen.

Sharp rises in electricity prices, coupled with exchange rate changes that have slashed the cost of imported efficiency technologies and the establishment of various grants and incentives schemes have combined to deliver "quite a remarkable change in the landscape", Jutsen told today's Energy Efficiency Council conference in Melbourne.

When clients are shown the data on how the market dynamics have changed, in every case "the companies have been shocked", he told CE Daily on the conference sidelines.

"We are working with companies now and going right back to the beginning and saying 'OK, lets have a look at our investment opportunities from scratch'," he said.

However, Jutsen cautioned that this "window of opportunity" might not be wide-open for long - particularly given exchange rate fluctuations and inevitable uncertainty about the life of grants programs – and companies should act now.

Projects that might now make sense range up to cogeneration projects and major facility and process line upgrades, he said, adding that companies have too often focused their energy efficiency efforts on finding 'the low-hanging fruit'.

Jutsen said companies should instead be thinking in terms of boosting energy productivity, in the same way that they now look for improvements in labour productivity.

"People think of efficiency as something the energy guy does, whereas if it's a productivity issue then it's core business and it's a CFO issue," he said.

"And I think making that transition in people's minds - that it's actually a key issue for the company and there is a real productivity opportunity - that brings it to the CFO's desk."

Once companies implement continuous improvement programs and build in-house capacity they quickly identify a very deep pool of opportunities to improve their use of energy, Jutsen said.

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