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Becoming a prosumer as part of Australia’s journey to electrification

Eco Voice
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First published in 2003, Eco Voice is your go-to publication for sustainability news in Australia. Eco Voice prides itself as an independent news platform with a clear focus on sustainability, with articles coming from a diverse range of contributors – all levels of government, corporations, not-for-profits, community groups, small to medium sized businesses, universities, research organisations, together with input from international sources. Eco Voice values community, conservation and commerce. Eco Voice is a media partner of the prestigious Australian Banksia Sustainability Awards – The Peak Sustainability Awards.

Chris Kerr, Vice President Home & Distribution, Schneider Electric

By Chris Kerr, Vice President Home & Distribution, Schneider Electric

In the face of a worsening climate crisis and rising electricity prices, Australians are seeking ways to reduce their environmental impact and save money to combat the effects of these two important issues. They are turning to public and private enterprise for answers, hoping for solutions that address these challenges in a rapidly changing landscape.

Education is essential to be able to navigate the maze of facts, figures, options, and opinions. Being empowered by knowledge will equip Australians to determine their own journeys towards net zero and cost savings, especially the emerging generation of prosumers.

What is a prosumer? 

‘Prosumers’ are generally defined as people who both produce and consume resources, including energy – not dissimilar to people who grow their own vegetables. To achieve this from an energy perspective, prosumers choose solar, battery storage, and smart technology to reduce their bills, as well as electric vehicles (EVs) and electrical appliances that reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

While the concept of return on investment is familiar, there exists an untapped potential for reaping even greater benefits, ones that offer not only financial gain but also contribute positively to our environment. By embracing the role of an active prosumer, Australians stand to enjoy not just more financial stability amidst escalating bills but also the satisfaction of reducing their carbon footprints.

By actively engaging in energy production and consumption practices that prioritise environmental stewardship, we set an example for future generations: ‘return on environment’. Demonstrating our commitment to responsible energy usage within our homes not only fosters a sense of personal responsibility but also instils in our children a profound understanding of the collective impact on the environment.

And, of course, the convenience of stored renewable, free, energy means that lights and air conditioning can be left on. And smart technology can be installed and used to power a range of gadgets and automated appliances. This convenience, and freedom, is the ‘return on comfort’.

What challenges are we facing?

One of the biggest drivers when it comes to energy management and usage is bill shock. Day-to-day, consumers are unaware of the ongoing challenge of emission reductions; that is, until they scrutinise their electricity bills. Sustainability is often a secondary consideration. For Australians to take charge of their energy management, they need options that allow for visibility and understanding of their energy consumption, without compromising convenience.

The path to net zero isn’t always easy; it can be confusing and overwhelming. Information overload, lack of trust, heavy upfront costs, and cybersecurity risks all contribute to difficulty in navigating home energy management journeys.

For example, according to the Clean Energy Council (CEC), Australia’s solar users don’t fully understand how their solar consumption works. The CEC found that 46% of solar owners use their bill to notice a problem. Many solar owners never go near their inverter, though 20% of surveyed solar owners had experienced problems with it. Furthermore, 11% reported that their system was producing less energy than they were told it would and 21% had no idea if it was performing properly or not.

How can we reduce our carbon footprint? 

As we edge closer to 2030, Australia’s journey toward net zero emissions relies heavily on how we balance energy demand and supply. Achieving this goal needs us to change how we use energy: we need to reduce energy demand, use energy more efficiently, and increase electrification to help get us there, which demands that homeowners, as a major stakeholder, have a crystal-clear view of their energy use.

This is where prosumers are becoming increasingly important in society.

Through their energy production from renewables, e.g. solar, the strain on supply is significantly lessened. In Australia, homes contribute to 42 per cent of domestic emissions. This is through the way they are built, operated, and maintained. Of that 42 per cent, half of those emissions are generated by the cars that we own.

Alongside a host of other factors people are considering when it comes to their net zero journeys, convenience remains top of the list. There are so many benefits that come from switching to EVs and while there is some hesitation, there are clear benefits to making the switch. For example, it is far easier to charge at home than at a petrol station. Statistics show that 85 per cent of EV users prefer to charge at home. The rise in EVs is also decreasing battery prices, which will help to alleviate financial strain.

Beyond switching to an EV, homeowners are embracing solar power, with over three million Australians already switched to solar and exploring offset certificates that can further reduce energy consumption and costs.

The biggest energy consumption in the home comes from heating, ventilation, and air conditioning — collectively known as HVAC. If you don’t have solar panels on your roof, implementing energy-saving practices, such as using appliances during off-peak hours (10 pm-6 am), switching to LED lighting throughout your home and upgrading to smart devices where possible, can significantly reduce energy consumption.

The path to net zero and diffusing bill shock

Understanding your home and how it operates is key and this is where Clipsal™ by Schneider Electric’s Wiser home energy management comes in as a cost-effective convenient example. Clipsal has been part of homes for over 100 years and is continuing to work on simplifying the electrification and energy management process.

Evolution in technology is making it easier than ever before to manage home energy usage and navigate the energy transition.

We have the opportunity – and the technology – to create a legacy for our children for a greener, more sustainable future.

About Schneider Electric 

Schneider’s purpose is to empower all to make the most of our energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability for all. We call this Life Is On.

Our mission is to be your digital partner for Sustainability and Efficiency.

We drive digital transformation by integrating world-leading process and energy technologies, end-point to cloud connecting products, controls, software and services, across the entire lifecycle, enabling integrated company management, for homes, buildings, data centres, infrastructure and industries.

We are the most local of global companies. We are advocates of open standards and partnership ecosystems that are passionate about our shared Meaningful Purpose, Inclusive and Empowered values.

www.se.com  

Discover the newest perspectives shaping sustainability, electricity 4.0, and next generation automation on Schneider Electric Insights

 

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