Energy Efficiency Employment in Australia Report, 8 Feb 2019

59,000 FTE current energy efficiency jobs

The first of its kind, an Energy efficiency employment in Australia report jointly commissioned and launched on 8 Feb 2019 by the Energy Efficiency Council (EEC) and the Energy Savings Industry Association (ESIA) and undertaken by Green Energy Markets (GEM), indicates that more Australians are employed in jobs that involve energy efficiency (59,000 full time equivalent) than any other part of the energy sector, including coal mining and electricity networks. (p6, Figure 1-1)

1/2 million people work in energy efficiency part of their work time

Australia has tens of millions of buildings and pieces of energy-using equipment, and a large workforce is required to build, use and maintain these assets. The report estimates that 500,000 people work part of the time in energy efficiency including architects, construction managers, engineers, electricians and technicians, facilities managers, and experts in air-conditioning, refrigeration, insulation and lighting. (p18, Table 3.2)

120,000 potential jobs

The report suggests that, if Australian governments were to adopt policies aimed at accelerating energy efficiency improvement of this large number of assets, it would generate significant levels of employment estimated at 120,000 job years. (That equates to 12,000 jobs a year for 10 years, or 24,000 jobs a year for five years.)

The report considers a suite of opportunities based on available data and mature technology. The total job-years opportunity considered is split across three sectors: residential (34,300), commercial (47,550) and industrial with short paybacks (38,550). (p21, Table 4-1)

Energy savings schemes could deliver one-third of the potential jobs - 43,000

The final section of the report (pp48-58), discusses Employment from enhancing market-based energy efficiency incentives and estimates that schemes would drive about one-third of the jobs. The section includes a detailed discussion of potential participation rates for 'low-hanging fruit' upgrade opportunities including:

  • Residential efficiency upgrades - water heating, thermal comfort upgrades including heating, cooling and weather sealing, and replacement of halogen downlights with LEDs
  • Commercial building efficiency upgrades - better lighting controls; building HVAC controls; higher efficiency fan, compressor and pump systems (used by HVAC systems); the roll-out of more advanced energy efficient commercial air conditioning equipment; and comprehensive commercial building retrofits
  • Industrial energy efficiency upgrades - mining, manufacturing and water and waste services efficiency upgrades with short paybacks (p50, Table 5-1)

While the upgrade opportunities considered in the report are in no way exhaustive, they indicate the significant magnitude of the opportunity and the importance of expanding and extending energy savings schemes across Australia as a primary driver.

$7.7 billion energy bill savings potential

The report estimates that energy bills could be cut by $7.7 billion a year.

Just upgrading homes with features like more efficient water heating, thermal comfort and lighting would create 34,312 job-years of employment (p21) and save households $2.5 billion each year (p24).

Improving energy efficiency of Australian homes and businesses is the largest opportunity we have to reduce energy bills.

Scope of the report

To date, very little work has been undertaken to estimate the number of people employed in energy efficiency in Australia. The EEC and the ESIA commissioned GEM to estimate:

  • Current jobs: Upper and lower bound estimates of the number of people currently working in energy efficiency activities in Australia. The estimates of current employment figures are based on a range of existing sources of information; and
  • Potential jobs: The employment that would be created by government policies that drive the adoption of a series of technologically mature energy efficiency upgrades to homes and businesses.

(Report - Executive Summary, 8p PDF)
(Report - Full, 60p PDF)
(Media release PDF)

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