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«IMAGINING AUSTRALIA’S ENERGY SERVICES FUTURE Alan K Pearsa a Adjunct Professor, RMIT University, GPO Box 2476V Melbourne 3001 Australia email ...»

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• Widespread installation of inefficient low voltage halogen lighting (partly due to widespread belief that low voltage means low energy – when it is the Watts that matter, not the voltage) with higher lighting levels and in larger homes, as well as an increase in outdoor lighting for aesthetic and security purposes

• Dramatic increase in energy use for home entertainment systems, including larger televisions, more televisions per household, and increased use of stereos

• Increasing ownership and usage of appliances such as airconditioners, dishwashers, clothes dryers and home computers

• Increasing standby energy use by appliances and equipment ranging from home security systems, smoke alarms and remote control doors to DVD players and whitegoods with electronic features.

Estimates of standby energy use vary from 8-12% of household electricity usage [4,7].

Given present trends, it is likely that the number of items of electrical and electronic equipment in homes will continue to increase, and expectations of quality of service will increase. Home theatre, virtual reality systems, whole home airconditioning, intelligent home systems, etc can be expected to become almost universal. So the requirements for energy services will increase substantially. However, equipment efficiency can also be expected to improve, potentially faster than growth in energy service requirements, so that total electricity usage for appliances and equipment could decline. Even now, there is wide variation in energy efficiency of equipment and scope for efficiency improvement through careful consumer choice, as illustrated by Figure 4. This variation in performance has led the Australian government to consider introduction of energy labelling for televisions.

Potential developments include:

• Dramatic improvements in lighting energy efficiency: for example, Navigant [8] estimate that lighting efficiency could improve by a factor of ten by 2025 as new developments in solid state lighting occur.

• Emerging television technologies such as Organic Light Emitting Diodes will offer large screen TV using about as much energy as today’s 34 centimetre portable televisions, and less than half as much as typical existing family TVs [9]. Virtual reality systems could project images into people’s eyes using very little energy.

• Potential for virtual elimination of standby energy use through improved design combined with small solar cells and batteries

• Improving efficiency of computers, with laptops now consuming less than 20 watts, compared with conventional computers that use over 100 watts [10]

• Potential for ongoing efficiency improvements in whitegoods, such as clothes dryers that use domestic hot water (sourced mostly from solar) as a heat source or high efficiency heat pump technology combined with heat recovery. While today’s Australian refrigerators are 70% more efficient than those of the mid 1980s [11], best available technology such as a new Turkish Arcelik unit [12] uses less than half as much energy, and further efficiency improvements are certainly feasible.

• Airconditioning energy requirements will be contained by improving building thermal performance and cooling technology efficiency, despite climate change and increasing expectations regarding comfort

• Developments in intelligent systems for homes seem likely to provide the capacity to manage energy use of equipment, identify faults, and educate users. Flexible systems that can be easily retrofitted to homes and equipment are emerging [13].

Figure 4 Operating power consumption of different television types

Overall, if the above trends and efficiency improvements are considered, it could be expected that household energy use per capita could decline by two-thirds. If Australia’s population stabilises at around 25 million, total household energy use per person would decline by around 55 percent, but electricity use would decline by just under 50 percent. This would be equivalent to usage of around 1 000 kilowatt-hours per person per year of electricity and 3-5 Gigajoules of other forms of energy per person per year, ignoring on-site utilisation of solar energy for space and water heating. This allowance of 1 000 kWh per person is quite high compared with the level of usage of some efficient households today, however this allows for high usage of home entertainment equipment, use of some electric cooking, and growth in other services such as refrigeration. There is certainly potential for household electricity usage to be much lower than this estimate. Total household expenditure on energy would be likely to decline, as any increase in energy costs due to use of renewable energy would be offset by the reduction in the quantity of energy required. Further efficiency improvements and lifestyle changes offer potential for additional reductions in future energy requirements – for example development of cooling technologies that utilise solar heat could cut electricity requirements by up to 100 kWh per year per person in this scenario.

This energy for households could be supplied in quite different ways from today. For example, a typical household of, say, 2.3 people, would require a photovoltaic panel of around 1.5 to 2.5kW capacity to provide its electricity, which would cover less than 25 square metres of roof area and cost less than the kitchen appliances in a typical home. The annual heat requirement could be provided by around half a tonne of wood or 100 litres of biodiesel. Green waste generated within a typical Australian city could be converted into biogas, biodiesel or hydrogen to provide heat and back-up electricity for all household energy requirements. While there could still be some benefits from interconnection of clusters of homes, for example to share a back-up generator, the economics of large scale energy supply grids, which today comprise around half of the total cost of household electricity for residential areas, could come under serious question. Modular local storage of compressed gas, biodiesel or hydrogen may therefore become fairly normal. High density housing is likely to incorporate cogeneration (using fuel cells) as well as renewable energy systems.

4 Commercial Sector

The commercial sector provides services throughout the economy. Its greenhouse intensity is low, around a tenth that of industrial activity while, in 2000, it employed 82 percent of the Australian workforce, and comprised 74% of GDP [1] and 22.5% of export value [14]. Non-transport energy is a very small component of input costs for the commercial sector, about 0.5 percent of all input costs.

Figure 5 shows the strong growth in commercial sector energy use, and the increase in electricity’s share of energy for the sector over the past three decades. It also highlights the dominance of the retail/wholesale sector in relation to both growth and absolute significance. The communications sector has grown dramatically, but remains a very small user of energy: since this is a major area of future growth, its low energy use bodes well for future energy trends. The enormous growth in energy use of the retail/wholesale sector reflects growth of energy intensive retail facilities such as hot bread and fast food outlets and restaurants, as well as growth in energy intensive activities such as refrigeration and airconditioning, and increasing light levels.

Figure 5. Commercial sector energy and electricity use, 1973-74 and 1998-99

Figure 6 shows estimates of energy and electricity use by activity within the commercial sector [4]. It can be seen that almost 80% of energy used in the Australian commercial sector is used to provide a comfortable environment and light. This reflects the high priority applied to these activities in this sector, the appalling inefficiency with which these services are delivered, and the relatively low energy cost of providing services. Refrigeration comprises the next major activity and, again, there is ample evidence of extreme inefficiency in this area. It is of interest that the energy used for office equipment, which is a major contributor to productivity in this sector, is quite small, estimated at just 3.5% of the sector’s energy use.

There have been no energy efficiency regulations targeting commercial buildings in Australia, although the Australian Building Codes Board has announced that building energy performance standards will be introduced in 2006, with the intention of improving energy efficiency by 20% [15]. Since 1999, the Australian Building Greenhouse Rating Scheme (ABGR) has been applied to office buildings throughout Australia, with 14% of total office floor area covered by ratings by late 2004 [16]. This scheme applies to both tenancies and base building services, so it is presumably having some impact in the office subsector. ABGR is being incorporated into more comprehensive Australian building environmental rating schemes as the greenhouse/energy module: this minimises duplication.

Figure 6. Energy and electricity use in the commercial sector by activity, 1999.

The Australian Greenhouse Office [17] is progressively introducing a number of mandatory Minimum Energy Performance Standards for airconditioning equipment, fluorescent lamps, ballasts and other equipment. The Australian scheme stringency is set on the basis of an international review of existing Standards, with the Australian requirement being set at the most stringent level already in place in a major country. On one hand, this applies pressure to suppliers of equipment in Australia to meet the toughest international standards but, because of the time delay in implementation, it also means that Australia will always be several years behind the leading regulatory edge. In general, Standards set levels of performance well below best practice. At present there are no energy rating or labelling schemes for most commercial equipment and, indeed, it is generally very difficult to gain access to product-specific comparative information on energy performance.

The author has been involved in projects addressing energy efficiency in fast food restaurants, hot bread shops, supermarkets and office buildings. In all cases, energy savings of 15 to 70% have been relatively easily achieved. Much larger savings potential exists, but the lack of high efficiency equipment in the marketplace, combined with concerns about impacts of changes in equipment characteristics on sales from marketing staff, have hampered capture of the full potential. For example, around 60% of the energy used by Australian supermarkets is for refrigeration, but much of the refrigeration equipment is comprised of open vertical cabinets. One US study [18] showed that by installing glass doors, energy consumption could be reduced by 70%. Hot bread ovens have been found to be very inefficient, with one Australian example estimated by the author to lose nine times as much heat as it should if it were properly insulated and fitted with a heat recovery system. The 60L Green Building in Melbourne, a purpose-designed environmental building with which the author has been involved, consumes 77 kilowatt-hours per square metre per year compared with an average for Melbourne of around 275 kWh. Sub-metering data indicates potential to further reduce 60L’s energy consumption by 25 percent or more.

The potential for energy efficiency improvement in the activities shown in Figure 6 includes:

• In the short to medium term, 60 percent savings in heating, ventilation and cooling requirements of commercial buildings seems quite feasible by applying existing, cost-effective technologies. In the longer term, insulating glazing systems such as silica aerogels, daylighting systems, smarter control and fault detection systems, more efficient and flexible motors, fans and pumps and other technologies should allow 80 percent savings to be achieved.

• Increasing flexibility in working from home, online shopping and electronic communications technologies offer the potential to reduce the floor area required for a given commercial activity, thus reducing the energy overheads

• Already lighting energy efficiency improvements of 60 to 85 percent can be achieved with existing technologies. Further improvements in lighting efficiency, daylighting and controls will increase the savings potential, although it may be difficult to discourage sales people from using very bright lights in the belief that they will increase sales. Recent studies indicate that sales are actually increased where stores have daylighting, so experience may provide arguments to counter the ‘more light is better’ culture.

• Much of the energy used for water heating in the commercial sector is wasted as water is pumped through poorly insulated ring main systems in buildings, or is lost from long pipes, poorly insulated storage tanks and boilers, and water-wasteful taps and fittings. Large quantities of hot water are also commonly wasted, and water efficiency measures will reduce this factor. Waste heat (for example, from airconditioning systems), solar energy and electric heat pumps, as well as heat from cogeneration systems (on-site electricity generators that provide both electricity and useful heat) will be able to provide a significant proportion of the hot water required.

• Energy use by office equipment grew strongly through the 1980s and 1990s as computers, printers and other electronic equipment spread throughout the commercial sector. However, recent trends indicate that efficiency improvements are beginning to outstrip growth. Power management systems on office equipment are dramatically cutting unnecessary operation of equipment, while most equipment is becoming much more efficient. For example, a typical LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor halves power usage from 60 watts to around 30 watts [10] and adjusting the brightness to the minimum (but still satisfactory) level halves the LCD’s power usage. New types of displays, such as Organic Light Emitting Diodes, are expected to further reduce energy consumption. However, we may see more people using multiple screens in future, although this could be balanced by development of micro systems that project images into eyes or onto spectacle lenses using very little energy.

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