ClimateWorks Australia launched a series of reports last week, based on its major research project, ‘Tracking Progress Towards a Low Carbon Economy’.

The research represents the first detailed stocktake of emissions abatement in Australia. It highlights successful measures in emissions abatement across the power, industry, buildings, land-use and waste sectors.

The research shows that over the past decade, there has been no growth in greenhouse gas emissions, despite an increase in gross domestic product of more than 31 per cent between 2002–03 and 2011–12. There are a number of factors that contributed to this, including increased use of renewable energy, reduction in electricity demand and increased energy efficiency activity within industry.

Industry has shown energy efficiency improvements of around 1.3 per cent, which compares with the best rates of improvement internationally (based on International Energy Agency analysis). The emissions intensity of industrial energy consumption declined three per cent. In particular, the aluminium, cement and chemicals industries showed a ten per cent reduction in emissions intensity.

ClimateWorks’ findings show that if these current trends are sustained; Australia could reach 40 per cent of the current minimum five per cent bipartisan national target. The reports suggest that even greater reductions are possible—up to a 25 per cent reduction on 2000 levels.

For more information on the overarching findings of the research, see the National Progress Report.

Case studies highlight effective energy efficiency strategies

The types of energy efficiency activities delivered in recent years include actions such as upgrading boilers, installing cogeneration plants and improving cooling tower operation control.

The reports include numerous case studies across different sectors, many featuring companies in the Energy Efficiency Opportunities (EEO) Program.

For example, Boral, one of Australia’s largest manufacturers of construction materials, has reduced its carbon emissions intensity by 40 per cent by replacing a small portion of clinker (the main ingredient used in cement) with a less emissions-intensive material. This process has reduced production costs in a sector that has seen a growth in sales and enabling emissions to stay stable.

For more information, see the Industry – Full Report.

Factors influencing energy efficiency in industry

Forty-seven companies participating in the EEO Program participated in more detailed industry research for the ClimateWorks report. A special report details these findings. It looks at why companies have implemented some energy savings opportunities and what may have prevented them from implementing others. It includes more stories from companies, such as Toyota, Murray Goulburn, CSR and Simplot.

CSR, a building products manufacturer, recognised energy efficiency was a priority for its customers. It adopted energy efficiency and energy management as a key growth strategy. CSR looked to the Clean Technology Investment Program to support its increased focus on energy management. It received several grants, supporting an investment of more than $6 million in carbon abatement projects. Projects included a co-generation plant, improvements to kilns and driers and upgrades to lighting and process equipment.

Vehicle manufacturer Toyota Australia already had a good understanding of energy use due to requirements to report to its head office in Japan. However, it realised that with better data collection and management, its employees could improve the accuracy of their analysis, and find more opportunities to reduce energy waste. Toyota Australia has decreased the intensity of CO2e emissions per vehicle produced by more than 20 per cent.

For more information, see the Special report on factors influencing large industrial energy efficiency.

Accessing the Tracking Progress Reports

Further details of these and other case studies may be of interest to your sector and company. The research findings are presented as summary and detailed reports and are available on the Climate Works Australia website

Over the coming weeks, the Energy Efficiency Opportunities Program website, and the Energy Efficiency Exchange website will feature further articles based on the research, highlighting more information and case studies of interest.