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Reducing greenhouse emissions from home water heating could be achieved at about ...

Reducing greenhouse emissions from home water heating could be achieved at about one-third the cost of current Federal, State and Territory government solar water heater incentive schemes, by encouraging the uptake of five-star (high efficiency) natural gas water heaters, according to new research by the Australian Gas Association (AGA). It is claimed that this would cost $2.7mn/y, a potential saving for taxpayers of $5mn/y on the current solar schemes. Most State and Territory governments have introduced subsidies to encourage householders to purchase solar water heaters. These taxpayer-funded subsidies have been estimated to cost $7.7mn in the past year. The Commonwealth’s Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) scheme, while not taxpayer funded, also provides a financial incentive to encourage a switch to renewable energy. The solar water heater component of this scheme has been estimated to cost $10.1mn in the past year. The AGA research paper also states that subsidies for ‘greenhouse friendly’ water heating should be ‘technology neutral’ and targeted according to the emissions performance of water heating systems rather than particular energy types. However, the preferred long-term sustainable solution is to develop an energy market that reflects the full cost of greenhouse emissions in energy prices. This would greatly benefit both solar and natural gas, comments AGA. According to the report, based on daily water use of 200 litres: · electric water heaters produce 4.8 ty of greenhouse gases; · electric-boosted solar water heaters (warm climate) - 1.2 t/y; · electric-boosted solar water heaters (cool climate) - 1.9 t/y; · two-star natural gas water heaters - 1.6 t/y; and · five-star natural gas water heaters - 1.3 t/y. The research also emphasises that a simple fossil fuels versus renewables approach to energy policy is now outdated. ‘Under a more sophisticated low emission energy versus high emission energy approach, technologies such as natural gas and solar have a key role to play, and there are clearly grounds for a productive alliance between the two.’

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