Emissions expert Dr Hugh Saddler has called for mandatory energy efficiency standards for new building equipment to help reduce Australia’s rising electricity demand and related emissions.

Commenting on this month’s Carbon Emissions Index (CEDEX) report, Dr Saddler, who is pitt&sherry’s Principal Consultant of Energy Strategies, said January 2016 was the 11th successive month to record an increase in total demand for electricity.

“Total annual electricity demand is now 2 per cent higher than the minimum level recorded 11 months ago, a sustained rate of increase which has not seen for nearly seven years.

“Queensland is driving this increase, with demand being 4.5 per cent higher than in the year to February 2015, as it continues to use electric motors for the extraction of coal seam gas.”

Putting aside Queensland however, Dr Saddler said energy efficiency standards can significantly lower electricity demand and emissions, as well as reduce power bills for customers on very hot days.

“Unfortunately, national progress in this area has been at a standstill for some time and is now showing up in rising electricity demand and emissions.”

Dr Saddler also commented on Tasmania’s electricity supply, which has been severely impacted as a result of a shortage of run-off into hydro water storages and abnormally dry conditions.

He said the scenario could be avoided by increasing wind generation capacity in the state, with the added benefit of reducing electricity emissions long-term, as there would be limited need to rely on brown coal generation from Victoria.

“Wind generation is an ideal component to hydro with storage. In windy conditions, hydro can be turned back, allowing storage to replenish, and subsequently generate at higher levels when there is little or no wind.”

While emissions have decreased slightly in January 2016, Dr Saddler said he expected electricity emissions to continue their upward rise from March 2016 onwards, in line with their trajectory over the past 18 months.