Renewables and business: cutting prices and pollution

14 May 2018

Australian businesses are experiencing high and rising gas and electricity prices, with gas prices tripling over the past five years (AIG 2017) and electricity prices for residential and small business users increasing by 80% to 90% in one decade (ACCC 2017a). These increases have been driven by increasing gas exports, overinvestment in poles and wires and uncertainty regarding national climate and energy policy.

Businesses can directly invest in renewable energy and storage to reduce their power bills and reduce emissions.

Over 40,000 businesses are already reaping the benefits of renewable energy. Agricultural organisations and food producers, wholesalers and warehouses, manufacturers and healthcare facilities have all installed rooftop solar and are now saving money on their power bills. These businesses are investing in renewable energy because it makes good business sense.

Australia must quickly reduce emissions from all sectors of the economy in order to combat climate change but particularly from the electricity sector, which is the biggest polluter and yet has readily available solutions.

Australia is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. The world has just experienced the hottest five-year period (2013-2017) ever recorded. This record is part of a sharp, long-term upswing in global temperatures, with 17 of the 18 hottest years on record all occurring in this century. This increasing global heat, driven primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, is exacerbating extreme weather events around the globe and in Australia. Heatwaves are now hotter, lasting longer and occurring more often. Rising ocean temperatures are triggering coral bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef. Climate change is also increasing extreme bushfire weather in southern and eastern Australia, while climate change is likely worsening drought conditions in southwest and southeast Australia. Across Australia, extreme weather events are projected to worsen as the climate warms further, increasing the vulnerability of Australia’s ageing energy infrastructure to blackouts.

This report outlines what factors are driving up power bills and how renewable energy can reduce business electricity bills. The report also highlights the actions local governments are taking to help businesses reduce power bills. The report concludes by profiling a range of businesses paying cheaper power bills or protecting themselves against future price rises by investing in new solar photovoltaics (PV), solar thermal, wind and storage projects.


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