Speaking during the launch of their ‘Top 10 Priority Actions' for state and federal governments, EEC CEO Luke Menzel says getting smarter about the way we use energy is crucial for solving Australia's energy crisis.
"Australia's energy debate is almost entirely focused on the merits of coal fired generation versus renewable energy like solar and wind," Menzel said.
"A transition to lower carbon forms of generation looks to be inevitable, and carefully managing that shift is important.
"However, there are also huge opportunities to change the way we use energy that would be quicker to implement and a lot cheaper than focusing solely on investments in new generation and storage technology."
Energy efficiency lowers the volume of energy consumed, cutting energy bills and acting as virtual baseload generation.
Smart energy management can also reduce demand during peak periods, helping to ensure security of supply and lowering the cost of electricity.
"If implemented, our ten priority actions would cut bills for households and businesses, and help secure the long-term security of our energy system," Menzel said.
The EEC's recommendations touch on every part of Australia's economy, and include:
- Urgent government support for manufacturers to manage skyrocketing gas prices through energy productivity improvements;
- Extending energy efficiency certificate schemes to additional states;
- Programs that transform the efficiency and comfort of commercial buildings;
- Ramping up government action to improve the energy efficiency of its own facilities;
- Bringing the benefits of energy performance disclosure to the residential market; and
- Energy market reform, including rapid implementation of the Finkel Review's recommendations on demand response.
"Australia's rate of energy efficiency improvement continues to fall behind other developed economies," Menzel said.
"Taking advantage of this opportunity will require strong government leadership, and new energy efficiency policies that remove barriers and correct market distortions."
The EEC's full suite of policy recommendations for promoting smart energy use across the Australian economy are set out in the Australian Energy Efficiency Policy Handbook.