South Australia champions renewables, while other states lag behind
Wind energy exceeded local demand in South Australia for over 10 consecutive hours last weekend, beginning just before 2am Sunday morning. This comes on the heels of the closure of the state’s last coal-fired power station over two weeks ago.
More than half of electricity in South Australia is sourced through either solar or wind, with the remaining portion coming from energy efficient combined cycle gas plants.
However, Australia’s use of renewables varies widely from state-to state. A report by the Climate Council recently found that only six percent of energy in New South Wales was derived from sustainable sources in 2014, while a spokesperson for state Energy Minister Anthony Roberts placed the figure at 14 percent.
The government of New South Wales once vowed to be “Australia’s answer” to US renewable leader California, though the Climate Council’s report named the state the worst in the country for renewable energy use.
Now it appears South Australia is vying for the title of ‘greenest’ state, with leading electricity provider SA Power Networks set to undertake the country’s largest trial of storage batteries in solar-enabled homes.
Australia has established national renewable energy targets, with 33,000 gigawatt-hours of renewable electricity generation promised by 2020. Though recent doubts have been cast over whether or not this goal is achievable unless there is a “rapid acceleration” in the construction of renewable projects.
Read the May 2016 issue of Energy Digital magazine
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.