Solar energy can reduce gas reliance of Australian industry: CEFC

Australian industry can reduce gas reliance with solar energy.

Solar energy can help cut Australian industry energy costs by reducing our reliance on gas.

The new resource — ‘Australian Manufacturing: Gas Efficiency Guide’ — is a joint publication of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), the Energy Efficiency Council and the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group).

It claims major efficiency improvements are achievable by ‘fuel shifting’ from gas to solar thermal, solar PV and bioenergy, and using low emissions electricity.

How to cut Australian industry energy costs

According to CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth, Australian manufacturers are the most energy-intensive among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries.

Australian industry energy costs can be slashed with solar.

Australian manufacturers are the most energy intensive in the OECD. Image: Pixabay

This comes at a time when gas prices are soaring and the nation’s ageing coal-fired plants are gradually being decommissioned.

An up-front investment of $50,000 or less in renewable energy like solar installations can be recovered within five years, Learmonth says.

Cheaper renewable power and more efficient equipment can also help manufacturers cut costs, boost output and reduce carbon emissions.

Wind and solar energy storage to replace gas: Ai Group

A July 2018 report from the Ai Group, ‘Worse to Bad’, paints a bleak picture for industrial gas users in Australia.

Wind and solar energy have fallen dramatically in price, the data shows. Clean energy development is therefore surging, because renewables are now cheaper than new gas or coal-fired plants.

According to the Clean Energy Council (CEC), wind and solar projects under the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme are already bringing down industry costs despite high gas prices.

CEC head Kane Thornton says solar, wind and energy storage batteries will eventually replace gas power entirely. This will push prices down further.

Gas guide shows Australian industry the way forward

The gas efficiency guide is the result of studying the energy needs of a wide range of manufacturers. According to the guide,  proven technologies like solar energy can cut gas consumption by 25 per cent.

Other efficiency measures include smart meters, energy management systems and improved maintenance. Better steam and heat recovery systems can also reduce costs.

Concentrated solar thermal (CST) has not yet proved cost-effective; however a 150 MW CST plant is under construction in South Australia. The Aurora plant will be the largest of its kind in the world.