Improving energy efficiency for Victorian business
One of the main human activities that contributes to the enhanced greenhouse effect is the use of energy. This is because our energy is largely derived from the combustion of carbon-based fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, which results in the discharge of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. A number of government programs aim to improve the efficiency of energy use in various sectors, including the industrial, commercial, residential and transport sectors.
EPA is committed to working with businesses to use energy more efficiently and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The State Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality Management), with details contained in the Protocol for Environmental Management (Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Energy Efficiency in Industry), requires that generators of greenhouse gas emissions avoid and minimise emissions in accordance with the waste hierarchy, pursue continuous improvement and apply best practice to the management of their emissions.
Industry Greenhouse Program
The EPA Industry Greenhouse Program served as a key measure in Victoria's delivery of improved business energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Under the program, EPA licensees that are medium to large energy users were required to:
- review their energy bills (electricity, gas, LPG, diesel, briquettes, etc.) to calculate their energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions; greenhouse gases produced by an industrial process (such as chemical manufacture or water treatment) were also calculated
- conduct an energy audit to Australian standards
- identify best practice options and determine payback periods
- prepare an implementation plan for items with a payback of three years or less
- report on implementation and annual emissions as part of annual reporting to EPA.
Significantly, financial feasibility criteria for energy efficiency requirements meant that businesses will save money in the short to medium term, with an average payback period of 20 months achieved overall. In many instances projects are paying for themselves within months.
Businesses applying for an EPA works approval or a new EPA licence have been required to incorporate best practice measures for energy efficiency and greenhouse gas management, using the financial feasibility approach.
The Protocol for Environmental Management (Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Energy Efficiency in Industry) explained the requirements in more detail. The Energy and Greenhouse Management Toolkit was developed to provide guidance regarding compliance with the requirements, and also provides conversion factors and best practice information.
Achievements of the Program
In February 2006 the report EPA Industry Greenhouse Program – the story so far (Publication 1035), outlined the commitments made and the expected achievements of the program.
Following the completion of most program actions, a new report Delivering business benefits from energy efficiency – the achievements of EPA Victoria’s Industry Greenhouse Program (Publication 1165) issued in September 2007 showed that key program outcomes would include:
- an annual reduction in Victoria's greenhouse gas emissions of 1.23 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent
- annual energy cost savings to business of $38.2 million
- an average financial payback period of 20 months
- approximately 25 per cent of total greenhouse gas reductions coming from actions with financial payback of six months or less, with these delivering almost half of the total annual cost savings to industry
- overall energy use reductions equivalent to just over one year’s growth in demand for electricity in Victoria, and about three years for gas, demonstrating that energy efficiency measures can provide a real benefit to the State in helping to defer costs associated with energy demand growth
Under the program some 2436 energy efficiency actions will be undertaken, including:
- 280 industrial/manufacturing process modifications
- 330 plant drive upgrades and replacements
- 370 lighting modifications
- 300 compressed air system improvements
- 420 energy management systems (for example, metering and monitoring of energy).
The report also contained case studies with examples of energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reductions undertaken by companies participating in the program.
The outcomes of the EPA Industry Greenhouse Program showed there is significant potential to achieve environmental and economic outcomes simultaneously. The following case studies, taken from the report Delivering business benefits from energy efficiency – the achievements of EPA Victoria’s Industry Greenhouse Program (Publication 1165) published in September 2007, provide examples of actions that companies have undertaken to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions:
Ongoing energy and greenhouse requirements continue to apply to EPA licence holders and works approval applicants. As well as this, there are now requirements for all large energy and water-using sites under the Environment and Resource Efficiency Plan (EREP) program. The EREP program was introduced in 2008, building on the success of the Industry Greenhouse Program .