It was a packed house at the National Energy Efficiency conference that kicked off in Sydney on Tuesday at the Swissotel in the CBD.
Opening the event was NSW Environment Minsiter Rob Stokes who is fast turning into the poster boy for the environment thanks in large part to the abysmal record of his political compatriots in the fossil fuel governments elsewhere around the country, and as much as you can be when your state is still fossil fuel addicted.
Today Stokes said NSW would strengthen its Energy Savings Scheme. The scheme, which would to help homes and businesses in NSW shave $1.4 billion from energy bills over the next decade, will be extended to 2025.
According to acting chief executive of the EEC Luke Menzel, the news is welcome in an environment where gas prices are being forced up by global competition.
“The NSW Government has become Australia’s leader in energy policy,” Menzel said. “While other governments are making policy on the run, the NSW Government is making steady, sensible decisions to keep energy affordable.”
The conference comes just days before the global leaders meet for the G20 in Brisbane starting on Saturday and after a recent report by the International Energy Agency found that energy efficiency has become the world’s “first fuel”, Menzel said.
Among key issues discussed at one of the morning sessions was the fall in demand for electricity, though one speaker, quipped that the next lot of data would show that electricity demand was on the rise again.
According to principal consultant, energy strategies at pitt&sherry Hugh Saddler, while there might be debate about the quantity of electricity falls it was “the departure from trend is really significant”.
The falls in electricity consumption was also not so much due to a fall in manufacturing, as is often cited, Saddler said.
This was “misleading”. Apart from aluminium smelters the manufacturing businesses falling away were not particularly electricity intensive. “Of course some of them are very big so they are not so negligible but that’s not a very big factor in the decline of electricity use.”
Biggest falls though were in the residential sector. This was because it was easier for consumers to change behaviour than it was for businesses for which electricity consumption was closely linked to business processes, so was therefore more difficult to change.
For residential heating and cooling, Saddler predicted reverse cycle airconditioning would emerge as the superior option. In terms of both cost and emissions.
“It’s better in cost and in emissions with the new technologies. It might be displacing gas.”
The rise of electric vehicles was also an “interesting” trend to watch, he said.
Morning sessions included chair Clean Energy Finance Corporation Jillian Broadbent, who along with general manager, energy productivity branch, Department of Industry
Helen Bennett and national solution segment manager, Schneider Electric Stuart Macfarlane, discussed the global transition under way from subsidies used to overcome the barriers to energy efficiency to today’s trend towards a “market transformation” approach designed to create a “sustainable market” for efficiency.
Other conference speakers include chief executive of Australian Industry Group Innes Willox; manager for South Asia, International Energy Agency Dagmar Graczyk,Tom Grosskopf, director, Metro Branch, Regional Operations, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage; Carlos Flores, team leader development and innovation, NABERS; Bob Sharon, director, Green Global Solutions; executive general manager, asset management Energex Peter Price, director, projects and advisory services, Energy Action Dr Paul Bannister, and executive director, Energetics, Jonathan Jutsen.