Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Australian Electricity Demand in the Future

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Dr Hugh Saddler is speaking on "Electricity demand and Australia’s renewable energy targets: where to?". He showed a graph which showed that the feared "peak demand" for electricity in Australia did not happen. Also he emphasized that not only is demand for electricity in Australia decreasing, but the decrease is accelerating. Dr Saddler points out that some electricity use is not measured (for example power from a roof top solar system which is used in the household). Dr Saddler pointed out this would increase as companies such as Ikea installed their own PV. Residential use of electricity is about at the same level as large industries, both of these are less than general business. All three categories of electricity use are decreasing, residential most rapidly. The largest factor in reduction in electricity use is energy efficiency, not from PV panels. Detached houses use about 50% more electricity than other forms of housing. Dr Saddler concluded that the worst case would be that electricity consumption would remain constant, not increase. Gas consumption for homes is decreasing due to efficient reverse cycle air-conditioning, but this will not significantly increase electricity consumption. There is less scope for reduction for electricity use in business. Interestingly, the Queensland coal seam gas industry is expected to cause an increase in electricity use, associated with the extraction.

Tristan Edis then talked on "50% Renewables: Have We Gone Mad?". He mentioned "Learning the hard way: Australia’s policies to reduce emissions". He argues that regulatory measures have been more effective and less politically contentious than measures such as a carbon price. He argues that emissions need to be reduced by 80% soon and the cost of solar panels and wind turbines have reduced with volume of production. I am not sure I believed Tristan Edis' analysis, but by considering the political palatability of emissions policy he introduced a more useful way to discuss the issues than previously at ANU.

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