At the heart of our Energy Futures vision are people. We want to engage people with their energy services and promote energy efficient behaviours. We want to see more community ownership of power supply and we want to see an equitable system in which vulnerable people in Australia and overseas have access to clean energy services.
Empowering new energy market participants is a critical theme of research as Australia moves towards a more inclusive and decentralised (local) energy system. This area of work focuses on supporting individuals, communities and organisations to transition to more sustainable, adaptable and low carbon energy practices. Under this theme, ISF research covers: engaging communities; building energy strategies; developing new business models; and catalysing behaviour change.
National Community Energy Strategy and Congress
The Community Energy Congress was organised by ISF and seven other organisations keenly involved in the community energy sector as an opportunity to assist these pioneering projects with successful models, technical skills and training plus valuable networking with partners, regulators and suppliers. Delegates at the Congress were given the chance to provide input into a draft National Community Energy Strategy. Led by ISF and based on a significant body of research tapping into the status of 38 projects across Australia, the strategy proposes a series of objectives and priority initiatives to grow the community energy sector and ensure successful models are replicated in communities across Australia. The Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE) also launched at the Congress. ISF is a founding member of C4CE, which is an umbrella coalition for organisations with a common commitment to proactively collaborating to grow a vibrant community energy sector in Australia.
Renewable Energy Master Plan for Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils
The Our Energy Future Renewable Energy Master Plan was developed for eight SSROC member Councils to enable them to increase the proportion of energy consumed in the region that is derived from renewable sources. The implementation of the plan began with Our Solar Future, and continues with Councils installing solar on their own buildings. Future implementation actions include finding a way to make solar available to people who cannot afford the initial capital cost, and to people who rent their home.
Innovative New Distributed Generation Business Models
ISF in partnership with Moreland Energy Foundation undertook research for the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources into the barriers facing innovative new distributed generation (DG) business models. The research sets out the key value proposition and characteristics of DG business models. Four case-studies were examined including UTS’s purchase of off-site renewables (a similar model to urban-regional wind partnerships), solar gardens (a model that utilises local energy trading), precinct tri-generation and council-rates based financing for residential solar. A series of eleven material barriers to these and DG business models in general were identified including tariff structures, access to data and cost of business model administration. Nine interventions to address these barriers were subsequently recommended.
Parkes Sustainable Energy Plan
Institute researchers developed a series of options that Parkes Shire Council could undertake to both reduce their energy costs, already a significant proportion of their budget, and demonstrate leadership in the transition to low carbon energy supplies. To develop this plan, Institute researchers conducted a situation analysis, that reviewed existing energy spending, estimated prospective changes in electricity prices and the impacts of these on PSC’s future budget. The Plan identifies local energy options that could deliver significant financial and environmental benefits by reducing energy use and generating local energy from renewable or low carbon sources. An energy options assessment tool, including a 25 year cash flow analysis, was also developed to allow the Council to revisit the business case as conditions change or firmer information is available. View/Download project information sheet.
Rutovitz, J., Langham, E., Ison, N. & Dunstan, C.G. 2011, 'Parkes Shire Council: Distributed energy plan - report', [prepared for Parkes Shire Council], Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS, Sydney, pp. 1-64. View/Download
Solar PV Master Plan for Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils
This project identified the most effective ways in which the Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils might achieve a substantial increase in solar PV deployment to meet an increasing proportion of Council energy requirements. The focus of the Master Plan is on larger (>300kW) scale solar installations within the region, located on both council and non-council sites. The project investigated matching generation sites with council energy consumption using battery storage, private electrical wires, and local electricity trading approaches. It aimed to determine the most viable opportunities to unlock the next wave of council innovation in increasing solar PV penetration through a larger scale, collaborative approach.
Smart Grid, Smart City Customer Research
Smart Grid, Smart City was a $100 million trial of smart-grid technology conducted between 2010 and 2014. The trial, funded by the Australian Government and delivered by network operator Ausgrid and retailer EnergyAustralia, tested a range of smart-grid technologies. It tested electricity network infrastructure, home energy feedback and distributed generation and storage products, as well as dynamic time-based pricing to gather information about the benefits and costs of implementing smart grid technologies in an Australian setting. The Institute conducted research with 3,200 trial participants to understand their experience of the trialled home energy feedback technologies and dynamic pricing offers. This research found a high level of overall satisfaction with the products, particularly in financially vulnerable households that were engaged by the bill saving opportunities. When tariffs or incentives for time shifting energy use were combined with feedback technologies, the most powerful customer benefits were produced. These findings and more are available in ISF’s Customer Research Report.
Climate Clubs was a competition that encouraged students and their families to save power, reduce pollution and raise funds for their school. Climate Clubs was about saving energy at home while competing in teams (clubs) from local school and community networks and raising funds for local P&C Associations at the same time. Participants tracked their home electricity usage online, scored points for reducing it and worked with their club mates as a team to win the local Climate Clubs shield. Read more at: http://climateclubs.org.au/index.html
Carbon Offset Watch
Carbon Offset Watch was Australia’s first independent ranking of 20 voluntary carbon offset providers, giving consumers guidance on how to get real emission minimising value for money. Apart from looking at the usefulness of the emission reduction measures being supported, Carbon Offset Watch assessed each provider on whether they encouraged customers to reduce their carbon emissions before offsetting. ISF teamed up with the Total Environment Centre and consumer organisation CHOICE for this project which aimed to boost confidence in the value of buying carbon offsets.
World Wide Views on Global Warming
This global public consultation project was initiated by the Danish government to empower regular citizens to give their preferences for policy and action on climate change to negotiators at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in Copenhagen in 2009. More than 4,000 citizens in 38 countries around the world linked up on the day via the internet to tally up their opinions using a voting process. The Australian event was hosted by the University of Technology Sydney and managed by ISF. For more about the Australian event read the four page summary or go to http://wwviews.org.au/
Household behaviour change in Queensland
The Institute was commissioned to conduct research into the potential of behaviour change policies by the Premier's Council on Climate Change (PCCC) to help cut the state's carbon footprint by one third through reductions in electricity use, fuel consumption and waste to landfill. This advisory council, chaired by the Premier, provides high-level advice to the Queensland Government on climate change response. After examining contemporary theory and practice relating to effective behaviour change policy, Institute researchers made specific recommendations for behaviour change initiatives that can be implemented in Queensland. The report identifies key points of intervention in the activities that generate household greenhouse gas emissions. These include both new and revised actions that are supported by evidence from behaviour change theory and are applicable to Queensland. The PCCC prepared a working paper including recommendations based on the Institute's research.
NSW Government Community Energy Funding Review
The OEH Regional Clean Energy Program engaged ISF to undertake a review of its community renewable energy funding and to develop a longer-term funding and support framework and recommendations for community energy. This review included a literature review of best practice government support for community energy specifically and social enterprise more generally, as well as interviews with community energy groups funded in the last round, community energy experts and intermediaries. This strategic review informed the development of the Growing Community Energy program, which includes $700,000 in grants for community energy projects.