Companies that account for half of Australia’s total energy consumption have the potential to more than double their energy savings, reducing company energy costs by $3.2 billion a year and cutting emissions by 15 million tonnes a year, according to a series of reports released by ClimateWorks Australia today.
The research, based on 587 medium to large companies from the mining, manufacturing and transport sectors, found that these companies were already implementing energy efficiency projects that were cutting their energy use by nearly 4.8 per cent – energy savings that represented nearly a quarter of the total residential use in Australia and are worth $1.2 billion a year.
But the research also identified that this effort could be more than doubled through projects that had been identified but not implemented – projects mostly defined as operational improvements and equipment upgrades – with the potential to achieve up to 11 per cent of energy savings.
The report found that these energy savings, if all implemented, could reduce company energy costs by $3.2 billion a year and cut emissions by 15 million tonnes a year. The total energy savings identified by these projects amount to 225 petajoules in 2010-11, which is equivalent to around half the total residential energy use in Australia.
The report also included detailed information on 28 sub-sectors and how they could reduce their energy use, revealing potential for energy savings ranging from 3 per cent up to 21 per cent.
Some of the sub-sectors with high energy saving potential were identified as the food and beverage sector (16.7 per cent), oil and gas extraction (15.3 per cent) and other mineral products (15.2 per cent). While most of the manufacturing sub-sectors identified potential greater than 10 per cent.
“We used real company data from energy assessments reported through state and federal programs and looked at the energy saving opportunities, associated costs and benefits and an analysis of the factors that explain why some opportunities are not being taken up,” said ClimateWorks Australia’s head of research, Amandine Denis.
“Our analysis shows that corporations are planning to implement about 40 per cent of the energy savings opportunities identified.”
Denis said the report also identified a number of factors that were inhibiting companies from taking up all of their potential energy saving opportunities.
“Our research shows specific factors inhibiting action on energy efficiency include capital constraints, impact of payback period on company finances, cost of disrupting operational processes, information and skills gaps and decision processes involving large equipment upgrades,” she said.
But she said the large majority of these opportunities to reduce energy would have a payback period for business of less than two years.