Whats contributing to rising energy prices anyway?

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My name is Salma Ahmed and I’m excited to say I’m the most recent addition to the CCIQ ecoBiz team! I am native to Ontario Canada and have been enjoying Australian culture and climate for just under a year now. My role is Program Coordinator – Analytics, so basically, I process A LOT of data including the bills that are submitted throughout the ecoBiz process.

I recently had the opportunity to attend Griffith University’s annual Energy Summit which focused on energy policy in Australia and where it is heading. Academia, policy makers and industry representatives held conversations on topics ranging from the necessary revision of Australia’s energy mix to re-examining energy conservation behaviors in OECD countries. Surrounded by ‘Big Picture Thinkers’ all day, had me asking how this valuable research and conversation will translates to the current business environment that SMEs operate under? 

A large focus of the summit was rising energy prices because when it comes to paying bills, no one wants to be first in line. Australian small businesses continue to feel the bite of rising energy costs and there may be gaps in understanding as to why prices are increasing so steeply.

So, let’s set the scene, Australia has been going through a transformative period with respect to energy generation. Driven by policy commitments to mitigate climate adaptation, changes in relative costs between energy sources and investor pressure to ‘decarbonise’ their operations, the Australian Energy Market is looking to renewables as the future of energy generation.

Presently, approximately 70 percent of Australian electricity is generated using coal. However, both domestically and internationally, the demand for coal has declined. This is attributed to several international and social drivers creating volatility in the coal mining sector. The decommissioning of 9 Australian coal fired power plants, (the Hazelwood Power station being the most recent closure), contributed to increases in retail energy costs and gaps in supply. With more closures on the horizon, businesses are asking themselves if coal is really worth its weight?

The cost associated with renewable energy has been steadily declining as technology advances (driving the cost down) and a larger number of households and business take back their independence through generating their own energy. unplugging from the grid has fundamentally changed the demand landscape, moving away from dependency of centralised energy generation and towards self-sufficiency building more capable, resilient communities.

The uptick in personal solar and wind energy generation has proven a successful example for promoting renewable energy generation, an example which is being looked upon to help shape the future of incentive programs for renewable energy sourcing. With a collective movement towards decentralised energy generation, fewer stakeholders are left relying on the grid. For those who are falling behind the movement, costs of this reliance can and will go up as the number of people sharing the ‘pie’ goes down.

Gaining the knowledge of personal energy demand puts the power back in the hands of the people. Households and businesses are seeking the help of professional auditing services to acquire the information they need to make informed energy decisions. This helps to create a usage profile which can be benchmarked against from year to year as the endeavor to gain energy independence trucks on.

Professional auditing services aren’t the only way for businesses to achieve this; ecoBiz is a free program that aids Queensland SMEs through their sustainability journey. The program offers a free 2-hour sustainability coaching session to identify areas of improvement in business operations and facilitates tracking energy, water and waste usage and generation to benchmark progress.

More on renewables in Australia can be found here

More on Coal Fired Power plant Closure can be found here!