A comprehensive report by Energy Consumers Australia, drawing on modelling from CSIRO and Dynamic Analysis, underscores the significant financial benefits of transitioning to fully electrified and energy-efficient households. According to the report, a home equipped with solar panels, batteries, and electric vehicles (EVs) could potentially save its occupants up to $3500 a year by 2030 and a substantial $4320 annually by 2050 when compared to households relying on gas appliances and petrol cars.
The savings are calculated as average annual figures over the lifespan of the appliances, vehicles, and energy systems involved. These projected savings comprise around $500 a year from energy efficiency improvements such as enhanced insulation, $660 a year by 2030 (rising to $820 by 2050) from replacing gas appliances, and approximately $1420 to $1520 annually for adopting electric vehicles. Further savings range from $1250 to $1470 per year for homes equipped with solar panels and battery storage.
However, the report highlights that ensuring equitable access to these savings is crucial. The upfront costs associated with electrification might hinder low-income households, renters, and apartment dwellers from capitalizing on these financial advantages. Landlords' reluctance to invest in renewable technologies and energy efficiency, along with the challenges of obtaining consent from body corporates for electrification, could exacerbate the situation.
The report underscores that energy bills can account for as much as 12% of income for households earning under $20,000 annually, while the figure drops to around 1.5% for those earning over $150,000. Recognizing these disparities, the report recommends financial incentives for low-income households and educational initiatives for all segments of society. It also calls for a comprehensive approach to decarbonization, including the gradual reduction of the domestic gas sector.
The modelling is based on the assumption that by 2050, around 65% of households will be equipped with solar panels, batteries, and electric heating and cooking. This projection is based on the Australian Energy Market Operator's Step Change scenario outlined in its 2022 Integrated System Plan.
Furthermore, the report raises concerns about the future of gas bills for households that cannot afford electrification and continue relying on gas. As the costs of maintaining gas distribution networks are spread across fewer households, the prices are anticipated to rise. In this scenario, the report argues that these networks and their remaining customers could enter a detrimental cycle where rising costs deter even more customers, perpetuating the problem.
Although gas pipeline companies suggest alternatives like green biogas or hydrogen to sustain their networks, the report concludes that these options are unlikely to serve as comprehensive replacements for decarbonizing most Australian homes. It emphasizes the need for government intervention to ensure a fair transition that doesn't disproportionately burden those with fewer resources or access to alternative solutions.
In summary, the report sheds light on the substantial financial benefits of electrification and energy efficiency while highlighting the importance of inclusivity and government policies to create an equitable and sustainable transition.