Govt hopes to drive smarter energy use

15th Feb 2012

The government is taking steps to promote the use of smarter energy across the nation, which may lead to a greater uptake of solar power systems.

A number of programs have been set up, including the Community Energy Efficiency Program that has $200 million allocated to help energy efficiency upgrades among local government, not-for-profit and community organisations.

Meanwhile, the Low Income Energy Efficiency Program supports groups of service providers who are responsible for showing how smarter energy use can be implemented in low-income households.

Small and medium-sized businesses, on the other hand, could seek assistance from the Energy Efficiency Information Grants program.

The government has set out to enable all Australians to take advantage of the initiatives, regardless of where they live or how much they earn.

Business, councils and community groups will all be involved in ensuring the programs are properly implemented and delivered in the best possible way.

It is anticipated that regional communities and small-scale councils will be able to easily access assistance and support to help them towards their goal of a low-carbon future.

One of the government's major energy efficiency schemes – Solar Flagship – was recently criticised by campaign group Beyond Zero Emissions.

It said that so far, investment has been made in the wrong types of technology and that the government had failed to take the lead of leading renewable energy economies.

Group director Matthew Wright said: "Germany, Spain, Italy and China, favour placing rooftop solar on your local supermarket or hardware store rooftop, or at home where very little needs to be spent on integrating the technology and paybacks are sooner."

He suggested that solar panels installed on rooftops make more economic sense than some other systems as they are able to compete in the retail electricity market.

Mr Wright questioned why a product that has competitive retail pricing would be required to compete in the wholesale market.

"It's like asking your local Woolworths to compete with Metcash or the Footscray Wholesale Fruitand Vegetable market," he commented.

The government has suggested that local authorities have so far played a big role in moving towards a low-carbon future.

Wagga Wagga City Council, for example, has joined forces with Low Carbon Australia to lower its energy costs by around $60,000 a year, making it a first for local government.

People need to realise that smarter energy use is the key to a cleaner future, rather than changing the way they live their lives, the government emphasised.

Posted by Bob Dawson

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