North Coast leads the way in falling power consumption
OUR region continues to set the standard in renewable energies with Essential Energy figures showing big drops in mains energy consumption across the North Coast.
The Total Environment Centre says data from Essential Energy shows a decline in energy use on the NSW North Coast about three times that of the overall national energy market, despite a 5% population increase over the same period.
All up, the data shows a 20% decline in power usage from all major substations between Port Macquarie to the Tweed coast between 2010 and 2014.
The figures cement a trend that emerged in 2012 when several Northern Rivers communities emerged as having some of the highest take-up rates for solar power in NSW.
Total Environment Centre energy market advocate Mark Byrne said one factor in the falling electricity use from Essential Energy was people deliberately limiting their energy use in response to big jumps in the cost of electricity.
However, the main driver was the region's high uptake of rooftop solar power systems.
"In many postcodes more than a quarter of households have rooftop solar," Mr Byrnes was quoted saying in a statement from the Total Environment Centre.
"The system size is increasing, in spite of rebates being rolled back and there being no mandated feed-in tariff for energy exported to the grid."
Apart from the immediate impact of lower electricity bills, Mr Byrnes said the fall in power usage had a strong environmental impact.
"A 20 per cent drop equates to an annual saving of 219,000 tonnes of carbon pollution," he said.
"That is the equivalent of taking about 70,000 cars off the road.
"The people of the North Coast are showing they aren't waiting for the Federal Government to get serious about tackling climate change. They are taking the energy into their own hands - or houses."
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Mr Byrnes said further falls in mains power usage were likely with the development of the price of battery systems, which would allow people with solar systems to store up electricity rather than just feed it into the grid.
This may be particularly attractive to businesses, which had so far lagged behind households on the North Coast in their solar uptake.
"As battery systems become more affordable from this year, we are likely to see less solar energy being exported to the grid for little financial return," he said.
"Instead it will be stored during the day for use in the evenings, further reducing demand on the grid."