Fuel use down, solar panel sales up

HIGH petrol prices last year may have been hurting household budgets, but they are doing wonders for the environment.

Greenhouse gas emissions from energy use rose along the east coast last year, but NSW bucked the national trend, due in large part to lower fuel consumption.

“We have seen a shift in the sale of diesel instead of petrol, but we have seen an even bigger drop in petrol consumption in NSW than in other states,” Rupert Posner, director of The Climate Group, said.

Petrol sales fell 9 per cent in the State last year, and sales of the lower-polluting diesel fuel rose 2 per cent.

The group's Climate Change Indicator revealed that across NSW, Victoria and Queensland, annual emissions were 1.3 per cent higher compared with last year - and 19pc higher than in 2000.

Emissions in Victoria and Queensland rose 2.2 million and 2 million tonnes, respectively, while NSW recorded a fall of 500,000 tonnes.

Much of the rise was due to the generation of coal-fired electricity.

“The indicator clearly demonstrates that our reliance on coal for electricity is our biggest problem when it comes to cutting greenhouse gas emissions,” Mr Posner said.

“We need to change this pretty quickly if we want to cut greenhouse emissions.”

Lismore-based Nickel Renewable Energy director Nick Lake said there were more people across the Northern Rivers region installing solar power rather than relying on greenhouse emitting coal-based energy.

“There has been quite an increase in solar in the past year, which is somewhat depended on the government rebate,” he said.

“The industry is certainly having a good run at the moment.”

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