Rooftop solar and energy efficiency accounted for nearly 90% of national electricity demand reduction in 2014

Gone are the days where the conventional, fossil fuel driven electricity industry were thought to be unstoppable.

Green Energy Markets annual review of the National Electricity Market states that solar and energy efficiency resulted in 89 per cent of the reduction in demand from the national grid in 2014. In fact, grid demand has been falling substantially since 2008.

Though 2008 might have been the year that new gas peaking plants were being invested in along with tens of billions of dollars in network upgrades and extensions. It was also the first big year of rooftop solar investments.

Even after most subsidies have been brought to an end, around 700MW of rooftop solar was installed in Australia in each of 2013 and 2014.This accounts for 26 per cent of the reduction in overall consumption, and generated an additional 963GWh of electricity recorded in 2014, according to GEM.

A new report says the growth of rooftop solar and the increased uptake of energy efficiency account for nearly all of the reduced demand in the Australian electricity grid in the last year.

The energy efficiency schemes operating in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT accounted for more than 824GWh of demand reduction in 2014. The closure of Pt Henry aluminium smelter in Victoria accounted for 1,210GWh, but this was nearly offset by rises in industrial usage, predominately in Queensland.

Hydro saw a production fall by 25 per cent over the year, along with black and brown coal, which felt the loss with the closure of the Wallerawang plant in NSW.

The growth of rooftop solar and the increased uptake of energy efficiency have forced many in office utilities to fight for policies that encourage solar and energy efficiency measures to be overturned.

This the outcome of networks, generators, retailers and regulators framing business models and tariff policies in the last five years around the belief that demand growth would be unstoppable.

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson