Energy efficiency

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Energy efficiency has driven the recent fall in electricity demand. Michael Smith/Flickr

Rising electricity demand could be here to stay

In June this year, forecasts revealed residential and business demand has risen for the first time in five years. The trend could be here to stay, according to a report released today from the Australia Institute.
While the higher gas mileage may lead people to drive a green car more often, its other attributes may be less appealing. Green car via www.shutterstock.com

Do greener cars lead consumers to hit the road more often?

Some worry that efforts to reduce energy consumption by increasing fuel efficiency cause a so-called rebound effect that eats into the expected savings. We tested the theory.
Conventional forecasts have consistently overestimated energy use, leading to increased investment in energy infrastructure.  Indigo Skies Photography /Flickr

Inaccurate energy forecasts are costing us the Earth: here’s why

Electricity forecasts just 4 years ago predicted strong, uninterrupted growth in electricity demand. In reality, demand has fallen for the past four years. Why?
Take that extra hour off work. Just don’t spend it burning coal or petrol. Rawpixel/Shutterstock.com

Want to help the environment? First fix your work-life balance

Being time-poor makes it harder to be green, says a study which shows that people who work long hours are more likely to fall short on taking real action to address their environmental concerns.
Batteries to store excess solar power will be a game-changer. But energy-efficient appliances will mean you can use a smaller battery. AAP Image/Raoul Wegat,file

Energy storage is crucial, but it’s not the only piece in the puzzle

The unveiling of Tesla's Powerwall home battery has been hailed as a huge moment in renewable energy. But don't forget the other innovations that can help you use that stored power more efficiently.
The long view: Australia is bidding to boost energy productivity by 40% by 2030, but other countries are already doing more. Mattingbn/Wikimedia Commons

Australia’s energy productivity plan: great idea, but is it ambitious enough?

Australia's federal government wants to boost 'energy productivity' by 40% by 2030. A good idea, but the plan needs to cut energy use, not just deliver more economic bang for the energy buck.
Car makers pay close attention to the emissions regulations in the countries they export to. Everett Kennedy Brown/EPA/AAP

Could Australia become a dumping ground for high-emission vehicles?

Unlike many countries, Australia does not have mandatory greenhouse emissions standards for cars - meaning that manufacturers are free to sell their least efficient, most polluting vehicles here.
Money spent on helping consumers reduce demand means less money spent on substations and other infrastructure. Bidgee/Wikimedia Commons

A simple rule change can save billions for power networks and their customers

Incentives for cutting peak power demand are cheaper than building ever more infrastructure and sending power bills ever higher. The industry has a chance to embrace this new approach - but will it?
Switching to alternative energy sources, such as renewables, and using more electric cars could double Australia’s energy productivity. NRMA Motoring and Services/Flickr

Australia could double its energy productivity by 2030: report

A new report shows Australia can and should double its energy productivity, increasing economic productivity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Rising gas prices, driven by the development of Queensland’s exports, could end up driving domestic customers away. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

A crash in gas use is more likely than the forecast ‘shortage’

Gas developers have been ominously warning of impending gas shortages in New South Wales, with official forecasts from planning authorities pointing to steady or rising demand. Yet our analysis suggests…
Monitoring energy is first step to saving energy. Shutterstock

Smart homes: consumers favor home security over efficiency

The message from the yearly CES consumer electronics extravaganza was clear: the list of gadgets that can be connected to the “internet of things” is growing rapidly. These smart-home technologies have…
Motorists in the United States and elsewhere have been treated to low prices. Whether they will bounce back is another question. EPA/CJ Gunther/AAP

Energy firms are waging a price war they might be unable to win

Late in 2014, we saw iron ore and coal prices fall. Now we are seeing oil prices tumble, dipping to less than US$50 a barrel, half the price of a year ago. In all cases, these price collapses reflect the…
The Gold Coast is one of Australia’s climate “hot spots” — vulnerable to rising seas, storms and erosion. Phalinn Ooi/Flickr

Cities could be the secret to fighting climate change

The world’s population could reach almost 10 billion by 2050. Most people will live in cities. To accommodate an additional 3 billion people, we’ll need to build the equivalent of one new city, that can…
In the 1970s, refineries in the Middle East controlled the world’s flow of oil. Not any more. National Iranian Oil Company/Wikimedia Commons

OPEC v oil prices: how the world’s biggest oil cartel lost its power

With oil prices on the slide, members of the once-dominant Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided last week not to attempt to rally them by cutting production, leaving the Brent…

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