Electricity Demand is Declining and Solar Energy Use is Rising in Eastern Australia

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There is now evidence of a trend towards declining electricity consumption in eastern Australia and a significant increase in the use of solar energy.

According to a Green Energy Markets (GEM) report, issued in January 2013, electricity consumption in the National Electricity Market (which includes Queensland, NSW/ACT combined, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania) has decreased for the fourth consecutive year. In 2012, electricity demand in the National Electricity Market (NEM) decreased 2.5 percent (4,818 GWh), compared to 2011 consumption. This is the largest annual reduction since this trend began.

See the figure below, which is taken from the GEM report:

The largest reduction was in the NEM region encompassing New South Wales and the ACT, where consumption fell 5.2 percent on 2011 levels.

Coal fired generation lost market share from 80.9 percent in 2011 to 78.0 percent in 2012. Scheduled gas and renewables increased their market share by 1.0 percent and 1.8 percent respectively. According to consultancy firm Pitt and Sherry, in NSW coal fired power stations have now been operating between 60 per cent and 70 per cent of capacity, with Eraring down to 44 per cent and Bayswater 64 per cent last month. They concluded that this slide in coal-fired power generation means the federal Government should meet its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent from 2000 levels by 2020[1].

There has been a massive increase in the number of households with rooftop solar systems in Australia. The ABS found that between 2001 and 2011, the number of households installing solar energy units rose from 118 in 2001 to 85,550 in 2009, before sharply increasing to 639,803 in 2011[2], and now heading for 1 million.

Source: Renewable Energy Certificate Generation Data 2001-2011, Clean Energy Regulator

The households embracing solar power are not restricted to high-income suburbs as is often argued by opponents of rooftop solar. In fact, research commissioned by the Australian Solar Council found high uptake of rooftop solar systems in mortgage belt and regional areas. The appetite for solar panels also crossed the political divide, with strong uptake by constituents of Labor, Liberal and National Party held seats (see the breakdown of rooftop solar uptake by federal electorate here).

What’s the latest situation in Canberra?

It is difficult to find up-to-date statistics on electricity consumption in Canberra. However, the ACT Government’s Action Plan 2 includes the following figure that indicates a rise and then a declining trend from about 2006.

 

Like elsewhere in Australia, there has been an exponential increase in the number of rooftop solar systems connected in Canberra. According to ACT Government figures, at the end of December 2012 there were 12,108 rooftop solar systems connected, bringing total generation capacity to 30.18 Megawatts[3]. There is strong take-up even though the feed-in tariff scheme closed in July 2011.

Source: ACT Government, Action Plan 2

While there is still a long way to go in reducing Canberra’s and Australia’s greenhouse emissions, it is exciting to see this declining trend in electricity consumption and the rising trend in uptake of solar energy. There is much to celebrate.

Have your say in the climateXchange forum on renewable energy.

 


[1] The Canberra Times, Electricity Use Fall Cuts Emissions, 18 December 2012.

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics – 4102.0 – Australian Social Trends, Sep 2012: Household Energy Use and Costs.

[3] http://www.environment.act.gov.au/energy/fit downloaded on 22 January 2013.

 

 

There is now evidence of a trend towards declining electricity consumption in eastern Australia and a significant increase in the use of solar energy.

According to a Green Energy Markets (GEM) report, issued in January 2013, electricity consumption in the National Electricity Market (which includes Queensland, NSW/ACT combined, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania) has decreased for the fourth consecutive year. In 2012, electricity demand in the National Electricity Market (NEM) decreased 2.5 percent (4,818 GWh), compared to 2011 consumption. This is the largest annual reduction since this trend began.

See the figure below, which is taken from the GEM report:

There is now evidence of a trend towards declining electricity consumption in eastern Australia and a significant increase in the use of solar energy.

According to a Green Energy Markets (GEM) report, issued in January 2013, electricity consumption in the National Electricity Market (which includes Queensland, NSW/ACT combined, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania) has decreased for the fourth consecutive year. In 2012, electricity demand in the National Electricity Market (NEM) decreased 2.5 percent (4,818 GWh), compared to 2011 consumption. This is the largest annual reduction since this trend began.

See the figure below, which is taken from the GEM report:

 

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