Assessing the impact of solar PV on domestic electricity consumption in Sydney: Exploring the prospect of rebound effects

17 Jun 2016

This study examines patterns of electricity use by Sydney households who have installed solar PV technology compared to those who have not in order to identify whether conservation or rebound effects are associated with domestic photovoltaics. A rebound effect exists when expected energy (and carbon) savings stimulate greater energy use. Currently this is an area where knowledge is lacking, compared to a larger body of studies which have measured the rebound effect from energy efficiency programs targeting buildings and appliances. Findings from this research have significance in determining whether a rebound effect needs to be factored into projected energy/carbon savings from solar PV installation. In scope here is the robustness of carbon mitigation estimates included in future rounds of international climate change agreements as well as local forecasts of future electricity demand affecting the national grid and its associated infrastructures. Analysis and modelling was undertaken on billing data for the period 2007-2014 provided by Ausgrid on a representative sample of households living in detached housing in Sydney. The sample comprised three groups: households who were early adopters and installed PV under a 60c/KWh feed-in tariff scheme, a group who installed under a 20c/KWh scheme and a control group with no PV. Econometric modelling undertaken for this study on energy consumption behaviour of households with vs without local renewable energy generation revealed that on a KWh basis, the rebound effect is estimated to erode up to one fifth of the benefit of renewable energy generated by solar PV.

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