The Australian electricity grid has seen a reduction in demand due to an increase of rooftop solar installations as well as improved energy efficiency. This decrease has seen utility companies fighting hard trying to against policies in favour renewable energy as a means of industry preservation.
According to the Green Energy Market (GEM) 2014 annual review of the Australian National Electricity Market, there was an 89% drop in the demand for the Australian electricity grid. Solar and energy efficiency demand went down to 1,877 gigawatt per hour from 2013’s figure of 2,098 gigawatt per hour.
Australian electricity grid continues downward trend
In fact, based on the graph that was shown in their report, there has been a steady downward turn since 2010 with the Australian electricity grid demand showing a decrease since 2008. That being the year when all the networks were locked in upgrades and extensions that amounted to millions of dollars also spent on generators for new gas plants.
However, 2008 also saw a marked the boom in rooftop solar investment. In fact, for 2013 and 2014, there was a 700 megawatt installation of solar rooftop in Australia. According to GEM, this additional generated renewable energy explains the decrease of 46 percent in the 2014 annual consumption. In fact, the additional 936 gigawatt per hour is just an example of how the Australians are looking at increasing the energy efficiency demand.
Energy efficiency demand puts pressure on utility companies
The energy efficiency systems and associated plans that are being implemented across Australia right now in places including New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Australian Capital Territory are thought to have all contributed to the reduced demand in 2014. The downtward trend in demand has lead to the shutting down of Pt Henry, an aluminum smelter in Victoria. In fact, as Pt Henry closed, there was a furtehr decrease of 824 gigawatt per hour in the demand for electricity.
Over the past few years, households across Australia have been making an effort to lower their electricity output with the use of solar and energy efficiency measures – a shift in behaviour that has left the Australian electricity grid agitated. GEM includes in their account report that hydro renewable energy production, which actually benefitted from the removal of carbon price, decreased by 25%. The same trend goes for black coal, as the Wallerawang coal plant closed however, it seemed that during 2014, brown coal saw an increase.
There were five fossil fuel plants that closed in Australia for 2014 and this could also be seen as a potential reason for the decrease in the demand for electricity. While at the same time, there were three new wind farms that were completed during the year which totaled a 6% increase. This shift in electricity output marking a change in Australian consumption and inferring an preference toward renewable sources which experts in the field predict will continue.
Photo by: Anek Suwannaphoom on Flickr
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