Declining electricity consumption is evidence of energy efficiency and renewable energy policies working.
In Australia consumption in the two most populous states of NSW and Victoria continued to decrease in 2014, as shown in the graphs below.
Consumption in NSW is down 12% vs 2008. In Victoria consumption is down 11% compared with 2008.
In Victoria the drop in consumption has been greatest in Autumn (September to November), down 16%. Winter consumption is down 12%, spring consumption down 10% and summer consumption down 9%. January has had the smallest drop in consumption – down 4%, and November the greatest – down 17% – compared with the maximums, as shown in the graph below.
November is a great solar month, not far away from the longest day in December, yet the weather is mild so not much air conditioning is used. With over 10% of households with solar PV systems solar is clearly impacting on state wide electricity usage in November. January is also a good solar month, but it is hot, January average temperatures have been increasing, and air conditioning ownership has been rising. In Melbourne January 2014 had the highest average monthly temperature for the period 2005 to 2014, at 28.5 degrees, vs the 2005 to 2013 average of 27.6 degrees. (based on Bureau of Meteorology data).
Whilst consumption is reducing, peak demand is more variable, as graphed below.
In NSW the overall trend appears to be one of declining demand. In Victoria however demand is now increasing. The summer of 2014 in Victoria was notable for having more heat waves (days where the maximum was above 40 degrees) than usual.
In Victoria the ratio of demand to consumption is going up. Demand has risen in the last 2 years, consumption has dropped. This reflects hotter summer weather pushing up demand, and that solar PV (pushing down consumption) has a pretty low demand to production ratio at the time of peak demand (late afternoon).
From a policy perspective the implication is that investment to reduce peak demand at the time of peak demand, will provide the greatest benefit in avoiding the need to invest in additional peaking generation and poles and wires. Such policy could be focussed on load shifting, as is being done well in King Island, where both grid level storage and demand response (switching off electric hot water heaters) have been implemented. This is not a new argument, but the data as shown above from Victoria very clearly shows the importance of this.
Declining electricity use – will this continue?
Policies that have lowered Australia’s electricity consumption – part 1
Policies that have lowered Australia’s electricity consumption – part 2
Policies that have lowered Australia’s electricity consumption – part 3