Carbon emissions caused by electricity consumers on the north coast are down for the second year in a row, according to new data from the North Coast Energy Forum.
But the group warns that some of the factors such as milder weather haven’t so far been repeated this year and we may see a rise in consumption in 2014.
‘Our emissions have now reduced by about eight per cent over the two years from 2010–11 to 2012–13, from about 2.6 to 2.4 million tonnes of CO2 in the region from Port Macquarie to Tweed Heads,’ said Forum convenor Mark Byrne.
‘The electricity sector accounts for over one-third of Australia’s greenhouse emissions, so the decline in both peak demand and total consumption is good news. It’s in line with the seven per cent reduction in national electricity sector emissions after the introduction of the carbon price in 2012,’ he added.
Mr Byrne attributes the change to a particularly high uptake of rooftop solar systems on the north coast, plus households and businesses being more energy efficient in response to substantial jumps in electricity prices.
But he adds that ‘mild summers and winters over the last few years have also played a part, and this summer’s heat waves are creating a surge in consumption as people switch on their air conditioners’.
He is also concerned that federal government plans to scrap the carbon price this year, and there is question mark about the future of the Renewable Energy Target – it’s possible the trend towards more renewable energy in the national grid will stall, or even go backwards.
‘It is therefore critical that we do whatever we can as individuals, communities and businesses to reduce our emissions to help reduce the severity of climate change,’ he said.
‘Most of our electricity still comes from outside the region, but there’s still a lot more scope for us to meet our own energy needs with solar energy, along with the emerging bioenergy industry.
‘This year, keep an eye out for small, affordable battery systems to store solar energy for evening and overnight usage, as well as innovative ways to buy local energy without being completely tied to a major retailer, such as community solar farms.’