Energy Efficiency Opportunities

Energy savings are an important part of resource reduction, greenhouse gas reduction and cost reduction goals.

The Australian government may be seen as a laggard in the carbon and energy reduction programs in the world, but it is bringing in small changes slowly into the system. One such initiative is the “energy efficient opportunities” program launched in 2006.

The program encourages large energy-using businesses to improve their energy efficiency. It does this by requiring businesses to identify, evaluate and report publicly on cost effective energy savings opportunities.

Energy Efficiency Opportunities is designed to lead to:

  • improved identification and uptake of cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities
  • improved productivity and reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • greater scrutiny of energy use by large energy consumers

The program’s goals are to identify the 250 top corporate energy users in Australia “from the mining, resource processing, manufacturing, transport and commercial sectors. These corporations are together responsible for more than 60 per cent of the total amount of energy used by businesses in Australia, and around 40 per cent of all the energy used.”

In defining a large energy user, the industry guidelines (PDF) specify that the program is mandatory for corporations that use more than 0.5 petajoules (PJ) of energy per year and provides a rough guide to what this means.

0.5 PJ of energy per year is approximately equivalent to:

  • 139,000 megawatt hours of energy;
  • 9000 tonnes of LNG or 10,000 tonnes of LPG;
  • 13 megalitres of diesel; or
  • spending of approximately $5-10 million on electricity, $1.5-2.5 million on gas or $11-
  • 13 million on diesel (depending on prices).

There is a five step process for corporations in Australia. They need to determine their participation based on energy consumption (by Dec 2006), register with the Dept. for Industry, Tourism and Resources (by 31st March 2007), prepare and submit an assessment schedule (by 31st Dec 2007), conduct assessments (first assessments by 30th June 2008), and report their results publicly (first in 31st Dec 2008 and annual reports subsequently). This would run for a total of 5 years.

The website provides detailed guidelines, tools and other relevant information.

The important aspect of the program is the public reporting requirement. This will be helpful for various stakeholders (investors, customers, environmental groups, competitors, government, suppliers, consultants) to understand the current situation of the corporation. Even though the legislation does not set a specific target in terms of reduction but only aims at encouraging efficiency (which is the preferred policy of the current government) the mechanism used by the program ensures that efficient and competitive companies will reduce their energy and be ahead of the game.

For consultants working in this area this is a great opportunity to find new business and this program and its guidelines can be extended to companies consuming energy lower than 0.5 petajoules (PJ) per year but who want to have a competitive edge in the future. Rising energy prices will induce more companies to take up “energy efficiency opportunities”.

By using the Pareto Principle in prioritizing the energy reduction program, this initiative can make a difference in the energy use of Australia.

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