Reducing Energy Use

Reduce total energy use by 20 per cent by 2020.

Step 3) Reducing Energy Use by 20% by 2020

Action: The Tasmanian Government must initiate an economy-wide energy savings plan, encompassing all fuels and all sectors, with a target of reducing total energy use in Tasmania by at least 20% by 2020 over 1990 levels. To ensure the target is met with both equity and economic efficiency, a sectoral approach should be taken, informed by the technical and economic potential for different sectors to achieve reductions.

Immediate opportunities include:

  • moving to 6-star housing standards at the same time as the rest of Australia; that is, in May 2010;
  • immediately ending Tasmania’s self-imposed exemption from the National Hot Water Strategy (designed to promote solar and low carbon hot water heating);
  • as with other States and the Federal Government, the Tasmanian Government should require 5-star NABERS office accommodation for all government agencies;
  • training ‘energy services’ providers to facilitate the transition process;
  • ending power price subsidies to major electricity users in the State;
  • providing financial assistance for housing retrofits that lead to significant efficiency improvements (eg, a minimum of 2 stars improvement);
  • creating incentives through registration charges for fuel efficient vehicles, and disincentives for inefficient vehicles;
  • a ‘cash for clunkers’ program designed to remove older, inefficient and often unsafe vehicles from Tasmania’s roads.

Rationale: Energy use in Tasmania is increasing by around 2% a year and is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, with increasing reliance upon Basslink and gas-fired power generation for electricity and continued rises in fossil fuels in the transport sector and in industry. In terms of electricity, two thirds is used by industry and one third by households and smaller businesses. Reducing energy use is the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions, as energy savings pay back.

Tasmania has a history of low-cost energy - indeed of deliberately attracting energy-intensive industry to the State, or 'hydro-industrialisation'. Power is heavily subsidised to the largest energy users in the State and therefore they have not been under any pressure to reduce their energy use. Yet studies show that with the right pricing and regulations, industry can quickly make major reductions in energy use[1].

Tasmania has some of the lowest energy standards in its housing stock despite its colder climate. Too much energy is required to heat our houses in winter, risking the health and well-being of those on lower incomes and in lower quality housing. As energy costs will rise with carbon pricing, these issues will be aggravated unless action is taken to improve the energy performance of our houses. A major program to retrofit existing housing, including rented properties, would complement higher standards for new houses. Tasmania should adopt 6-star housing at the same time as the rest of Australia, (May 2010), with a plan to achieve zero energy housing by 2020.

Likewise, the stock of commercial buildings in Tasmania has largely been constructed in an era without any energy performance requirements, leading to wasteful energy use in almost all commercial buildings. A major retrofit and ‘tune up’ program is needed.

Tasmania's vehicle fleet is the oldest in the country and, as a result, relatively inefficient. The Tasmanian Government could improve incentives for energy efficiency new vehicles by rewarding purchasers of such vehicles with low registration charges, while imposing higher charges on inefficient vehicles. This initiative would require no investment by the Tasmanian Government. To address the legacy of inefficient cars on Tasmania’s roads, a ‘cash for clunkers’ program should be initiated to provide financial incentives for older, inefficient cars to be removed from road (and recycled). Other transport initiatives are set out below.

As part of this legacy, Tasmania has few energy service providers skilled in energy savings. Therefore, one part of a comprehensive energy savings plan for the State will involve training and skill enhancement, with the major benefit that it will lead to additional employment and investment in the energy conservation sector.

[1] See, for example, SEAV, Armstrong, G. and Saturn Corporate Resources, 2003, Preliminary Assessment of Demand-Side Energy Efficiency Improvement Potential and Costs.