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NEM states record a drop in electricity consumption in 2012

11th Jan 2013

With a heatwave scorching parts of the country this week, an increase in electricity demand seems certain.

It's no surprise that the air conditioner becomes a very popular item as temperatures climb to 40 degrees and beyond.

However, what might raise a few eyebrows on the subject of electricity consumption is that it actually decreased last year in the National Electricity Market (NEM) states.

That's according to research just released by Green Energy Markets (GEM).

The data shows that, among the NEM states, only Queensland recorded an increase in consumption (0.15 per cent), while NSW, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania all recorded decreases when compared with 2011.

Sounds like the overall figure might be pretty good, right? You're absolutely correct.

Total consumption in the NEM states dropped by 2.5 per cent, or 4,818 GWh, in 2012.

GEM pointed directly to solar panel installations as a big factor in bringing electricity demand down.

It estimates that 2,000 GWh of the drop could be attributed to solar PV uptake and other strategies employed by Australian households and businesses to improve energy efficiency.

The mix of energy generation methods also continues to change.

GEM reports that renewables and scheduled gas grew their share of the market by 1.8 and 1.0 respectively, while coal-fired generation went from 80.9 per cent in 2011 to the reduced figure of 78 per cent in 2012.

As for the geographic spread of 2012's decrease, there was one clear winner.

Falling demand in NSW drove the national decrease, with electricity demand in the state dropping by 4,000 GWh (5.2 per cent).

Why such a big drop? GEM suggests that big factors could be the closure of the Kurri Kurri smelter and simply a milder winter.

The next biggest decrease was seen in Tasmania, where demand dropped by 3.7 per cent.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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