Australians saw decrease in electricity demand in 2014

If you're interested in reducing your electricity bills, you may want to join the roughly 1.5 million Australian households that are currently using solar power to help offset consumption costs. New figures released by the research company Green Energy Markets has shown that overall electricity demand fell by 1.1 per cent between 2013 and 2014, largely as a result of increasing use of solar power.

Australia's electricity demand in 2013

According to the report, Australians' consumption of electricity fell by 2,098 gigawatt hours in 2013. Various states, however, had different outcomes, which Green Energy Markets attributed to the regions' renewable energy advances (or lack thereof) and the closing of various electricity-guzzling venues. 

Victoria, for example, saw the largest drop in electricity demand at 3.5 per cent. The organisation credits to the closing of the Point Henry aluminum smelter, which resulted in a decrease in demand of about 1,210 gigawatt hours.

The only state with an increase in electricity demand? Queensland, which needed almost 1 per cent more energy in 2014 than it did in 2013.

Why the drop in electricity demand?

The closing of the Point Henry smelter certainly contributed to the overall decrease in demand, but experts believe there are other factors at play as well. Renewables have taken an increasingly large role in the energy market, with 1 in 5 Australian households using some form of solar power, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Green Energy Markets stated that this increasing use of clean power may be attributable to Australia's Renewable Energy Target, which states the the country should source 41,000 gigawatt hours of energy from renewable sources by 2020. 

"We estimate that solar installations supported by the Renewable Energy Target and energy efficiency activities supported by the various state based schemes will have contributed 1,877 GWh in 2014, or 89 per cent of the observed reduction in demand," the organisation stated.

With the RET up for review, some consumers may be wondering how the target's outcome will affect electricity demand. If an increased use of renewables correlates with lower electricity needs overall, and the RET is to credit for the share of clean energy making its way into the market, that would seem to provide incentive to keep the RET the same - or make it even more ambitious - in the future.