Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Explaining the Decline in Australian Electricity Use

Some interesting graphs in the Business Spectator that help explain the recent decline in electricity use in Australia. Uptake of rooftop solar by consumers is a big part of the story as official electricity use doesn't include self-generation. Here is the graph for South Australia, which is the most dramatic:

The decline in electricity closely matches the solar intensity curve over the day.


  1. The changing consumption patterns is to be welcomed...but:

    Examining averages in electricity consumption is often misleading. When looking at peak demand (one of the main investment challenges in electricity markets) the picture is quite different.

    And it turns out the base year matters.

    Taking calendar 2007 as the base year and comparing peak consumption for each month, than consumption was higher in every year except 2013 - where peak consumption is down 3-6% for the 10am-1pm slot - but it's also down in off-peak periods by 2-4% (reflecting changing industrial consumption patterns) - so the solar impact is not as big as suggested by averages - and indeed is missing for post 2pm consumption patterns.

    Taking 2008 - the pattern is more pronoucned - but then consumption in 2008 was higher..but and higher again in all months in 2009 and in 2011 again.

    Finally - the economist in me wonders at what cost that changing consumption pattern was achieved.

    We want to get the world onto a 2°C path - but we want to do it in a relatively efficient manner too (given current current knowledge).

  2. Thanks Chris for these interesting comments. A paper that disentangled all the effects would be really interesting. I've been following this story for a while now. Initially, people seemed really confused about what was happening. Now there are some stories....