Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Progress Report on a National Strategy for Energy Efficiency

The Renewables and Energy Efficiency Division of the Department of the Environment, Water Heritage and the Arts have sent me a report on consultations they have had with industry on energy efficiency. I was unable to convince the Department of the value of making this information public via their web site, so here is my own summary of it:

Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in October 2008, agreed to develop a National Strategy for Energy Efficiency. This was in preparation for the prepare for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS).A Senior Officers Group on Energy Efficiency (SOG-EE) of public servants is developing the National Strategy for COAG.

The National Strategy will focus on end-user energy efficiency in the stationary energy and transport sectors:
  • reducing the cost of greenhouse gas abatement;
  • ensuring consumers and businesses are ready to make energy efficiency decisions; and
  • removing other barriers to energy efficiency.
The SOG-EE consulted with stakeholders to seek suggestions from industry sectors:
  1. Residential and Commercial Buildings, Friday 30 January 2009, Sydney
  2. Industrial Measures, Monday 2nd February 2009, Canberra
  3. Appliances and Equipment, Tuesday 3rd February 2009, Canberra
Appliances and equipment meeting

28 stakeholders attended:
  1. Governments: Commonwealth, South Australia, Victorian, Queensland, New South Wales, and Australian Capital Territory
  2. Industry: Air Conditioning, Consumer Electronics, Information, Energy, Consumers Association, Unviersity, Consumer Electronics, Refrigeration.
A summary of the meeting were provided to the full SOG-EE at a meeting on 5 February 2009. Roundtable participants were also invited to provide written submissions.

Meeting Summary – Views raised by Stakeholders


  • Regulations (MEPS) should become more stringent over time as long as they align closely with international standards and do not get out in front (Australia is only a small part of the global market). Close collaboration between government & industry is essential to forecast longer term regulations.

  • Some stakeholders believed a MEPS roadmap which sets targets out into the future could be beneficial to industry as this allows for manufacturers to plan their product cycles.

  • Any changes to regulation should be articulated 2 years before being implemented and once standards and timeframes for regulation are agreed they should not be subsequently changed - particularly at short notice. 12-18 months can be required between placing a product design change request on an overseas manufacturer and receiving product into showrooms.

  • General dislike with the slow timeframes involved in the RIS process.

  • It was suggested that all appliances and equipment should be required to submit an energy performance statement before they are allowed to sell them in Australia. This should include measurement of consumption in all modes of operation, a statement from the designer about how energy efficiency was considered in the design process. Where standard tests exist, results using those methods should also be presented, and the statement should be publicly available.

  • Monitoring & investing in R&D may identify shifts in technology that impact on setting standards.

  • Effective enforcement of regulatory programmes is crucial to maintain credibility of standards.

National legislation

  • National legislation is preferred in order to provide consistency for industry. State-based variations to standards – particularly those brought in at short notice are very difficult for suppliers to manage.

  • National energy efficiency legislation should be consistent with (or at least cognisant of) water and safety requirements imposed on appliances/equipment to avoid unintended conflict.

  • Must be clear timeframes and processes for development and implementation. Should not be driven toward ‘lowest common denominator’ standards.


  • There would be value in some standardisation of various labelling schemes to make them even more intuitive and recognisable for consumers (ie energy, water, gas, building ratings).

  • More money should be invested by government in marketing the energy label as this has been shown to be a very effective tool to influence consumer product choice. Also, the product coverage should be broadened to include commercial equipment (eg refrigerated display cabinets).

  • Consumers are relying more on web based research and need access to trustworthy and centralised web sites. Government should promote industry tools to assist in the distribution and appropriate targeting of information (on its to-be-renamed One Stop Green Shop).

  • Information packages should be targeted to smaller firms. Family run businesses lack information on running and maintenance costs.

  • Worth considering mandating the publication of energy efficiency information when advertising products (as is WELS information).

  • Highlighted perverse outcomes in energy labelling – eg consumer focus groups revealed that consumers think TVs don’t use much energy because government has not seen fit to label them


  • Split incentives for retailers, suppliers, manufacturers and renters should be addressed to motivate better energy efficiency choices in the design, manufacture, maintenance and use of appliances.

  • Rebate schemes should be available for purchasing high efficiency products with the rebate level tied to energy rating.

  • Incentives should be developed for retiring old equipment, noting a problem exists with how to manage the retired appliance waste stream (including those that fall out of the market as MEPS are raised).

  • Consideration should be given to tax incentives for investment in energy efficiency measures/ equipment.

Government procurement

  • Procurement processes should (mandatorily) follow the principles of whole-of-life (not just up-front) costing.

Skills Development: Training and Accreditation

  • Training is needed for facilities officers in large companies & procurement officers generally to include energy efficiency requirements into requests for tenders.

  • More training is also needed for the key intermediaries who sell and install products in order for them to understand energy efficiency benefits and to communicate this message to purchasers.

  • The source of educational material must be authoritative and neutral.

  • Several industry groups noted that the skill level of their technicians is low in terms of energy efficiency understanding (re system design and installation).

  • Training initiatives should be delivered through existing training systems.

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