Energy Efficiencies

Governments all over are actively looking at the issues of saving energy and reducing carbon omissions. Australia is not ignoring these calls and currently government, industry and the general public are seeking to also contribute to the savings in a variety of methods.

There is an ever-expanding regime of energy efficiency that is occurring, with electrical appliances and equipment gradually required to display the energy efficiency rating of the electrical appliances and equipment with the use of a label on the product. This indicates to the purchaser the electricity that is used and, based on the number of stars highlighted compared with the balance of the stars remaining, allows the purchaser to see that there may be more efficient units available; thus the purchaser can make an informed decision.

This process of energy efficiency labeling is overseen by the Federal government and administered by the rele-vant state regulators. The process is now being widened also to include water efficiency, as I am sure that you are aware of Australia’s water resource level.

The power generation industry is also greatly affected by these changes, as Australia is reliant on fossil fuel and nonrenewable forms of power generation. There are endeavors now to increase the amount of renewable forms of power generation that are to be made available; and, in Victoria, we are seeing an ever-increasing number of wind farms being established. To date the farms have been located in the southern regions of Victoria due to the close proximity to the southern oceans, which have reliable sources of wind.

There are plans for many more wind farms and to date these have added only a small contribution to the power grid that is also connected to the eastern parts of Australia.

In the past fifteen years, there was an increase in the use of waste gases, such as those from old disused tips; however, these systems have proved efficient and they have remained in action since their commissioning and have made a positive contribution to the power grid.

The home owner has not been forgotten either and many of these users have been establishing photovoltaic systems on their roofs and have used these systems to provide electricity for their own consumption. Many of these users have developed rather large systems that generate more than they can use and so they have installed systems that allow the excess electricity to be sent back into the power grid and, therefore, they see a rebate onto their electricity account. It would be true that you would not spend the money to install a system to make money from the return to the power grid, but it is a positive contribution to return to the system some of what you would normally be taking.

Australia has a variety of climates; depending upon the regions or states that you can live in, the possibilities are also endless as to the systems that you can use to ensure that you can reduce the energy used, or else use renewable systems.

Recently I was travelling to Central Australia and I visited a town called Hermanberg, which is west of Alice Springs, about 3,000 km from Melbourne. This town, which has approximately 100 homes and some commercial activity, was totally reliant on a diesel-powered generator for electricity. As they are in central Australia, they have now installed three large photovoltaic towers and it is believed that with what these dish-styled towers will collect and store in their large battery system, they will be able to cease using the diesel-powered generator. This is what can be achieved if we really look at the opportunities that may be available to us dependent upon where we live.

Until we can look at the savings that we can make let’s simply try wherever we can, even if it is to turn off some electrical appliances and equipment that are not in use or to replace some incandescent globes for energy saving bulbs.

Darren Margerison
Darren Margerison has been an electrical inspector for 29 years in Victoria and is currently working within the mining industry in Western Australia. Darren is the senior consultant at Audit National and the Senior Electrical Compliance Inspector for CITIC Pacific Mining. Darren is committed to the electrical inspection industry and is currently the chairman of the Australian Institute of Electrical Inspectors; he is also a strong advocate of ongoing continual professional development of electrical inspectors. He can be reached at +61 488 036 211 or