Working from home has increased the use of residential energy across Australia, leading experts to call for households to switch to renewable sources.
Through April, residential energy in New South Wales increased by 10 per cent, and in Victoria by 12 per cent. Ross Sharman, the founder of EnergyIQ and an integral member of the team behind Energy Switch NSW, has said the increase in energy use is not going to slow down soon.
“As the new normal means a significant percentage of the population will continue working from home for the longer term, we can expect sustained higher use of energy during the day which translates to higher power bills,” he says.
Electricity is one of the eight major sectors responsible for Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Of those eight, the electricity sector is the biggest polluter, accounting for 33 per cent of the country’s emissions.
Mr Sharman believes that many Australians are unaware that renewable energy is cheaper than other sources. Because of this he has created EnergyIQ, a renewable energy marketplace, to start normalising renewable energy in homes and help residents save money.
“We need to shift away from the big polluting three – AGL, Origin and Energy Australia – who own most of the coal generators in Australia,” he says. “We are trying to create more demand for renewable energy, and therefore increase the supply through EnergyIQ.”
The Federal Government energy plan
In the midst of the current gas industry expansion proposed by the Morrison government, critics are questioning the sustainability of gas for Australia’s future. While shifting from coal to gas will see a reduction in emissions, Mr Sharman says that making the move to renewables will reduce emissions much faster.
“The federal government now, after banging the drum for coal for many years, are now talking about gas and hydrogen,” says Mr Sharman. “If we’re going to make big investments, we should be making investments that are good for the future.”
Mr Sharman supports the work of Beyond Zero Emissions – a climate change advocacy group who have researched the impacts of switching to renewable energy. The group has found that if Australia were to replace fossil fuels with renewable electricity, the country would eliminate up to 8 per cent of emissions and create millions of jobs.
“We would get far more jobs created through a commitment to the new green economy,” he says. “Let’s look at ways that Australia can benefit from that, because we are blessed with so much sun and wind resources, as well as space that other countries don’t have.”
“If you’re going to make big investments, you might as well make investments that are good for the future.”
On Tuesday, Energy Minister Angus Taylor will release a Technology Investment Roadmap that will guide $18 billion of Commonwealth investments to reduce carbon emissions. They will be targeted towards five priority technologies: hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, soil carbon, storage options and ‘low-carbon’ steel and aluminium production.