Australia could nearly double energy productivity by 2030

Australia could double its energy productivity by 2030, increasing economic productivity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions,
according to a report released by ClimateWorks Australia.

The Australia’s Energy Productivity Potential report found Australia could increase its economic output from 24.3 cents of GDP per megajoule of energy in 2010 to 47.9 cents of GDP in 2030 – a 97 per cent improvement.

The potential of energy supply is predicted to improve by 36 per cent, primarily through energy conversion (switching from old fossil fuel generation to more efficient technologies such as gas co-generation, nuclear and renewables) and energy distribution (reducing energy losses from distribution, including through decentralisation of energy generation).

Energy consumption is predicted to improve by a significant 64 per cent through energy efficiency, electrification, and optimisation and structural change.

Specifically, the report found more than half of the potential increase in energy productivity can be achieved through energy-efficiency activities in homes, offices, buildings, vehicles and industries. This ranges from simple measures, like using LED lighting and more efficient heating and cooling systems, to the automation of some industrial processes and improving energy data systems.

“Energy, like labour and capital, is a significant and growing input cost to Australia’s economy,” the report said, acknowledging $714 billion was spent on labour between 2011 and 2012, with $419 billion invested in the same period.

Energy costs currently account for almost one-tenth of Australia’s GDP. In 2011-12, Australians spent $120 billion on energy across the economy – 8.2 per cent of Australia’s GDP in that year.

The report’s release comes as the Australian government finalises its Energy White Paper, including a proposed Energy Productivity Plan, which offers an opportunity to set an ambitious national energy productivity target.

At the 2014 G20 summit in Brisbane, countries agreed to collaborate to improve energy efficiency as a way to drive economic activity and productivity, strengthen energy security and improve environmental outcomes.