Energy trends 2016: Pricing, products and technology to look out for

Wednesday, 03 February 2016

Posted by Shubhda Khanna Nag

2015 was an important year for the energy industry. It was the hottest year on record globally. It was the year when about 200 countries struck a landmark deal on climate change in Paris showing their commitment towards sustainable energy. And it was the year when Tesla kicked off the sales for one of the most talked about energy game changers - the Tesla Powerwall.

But what will 2016 have in store for us? Will the renewables revolution and technology adaptation make energy cheaper and green power more accessible? Here’s a look at some of the energy trends for this coming year and a sneak peek of what we can look forward to.

ENERGY PRICING

Victoria

The Victorian energy price changes announced in January 2016 marked a shift towards a slight increase in overall prices. But does that mean all energy bills will go up? No. While some retailers changed their usage tiers, others have reduced the usage charge but increased the supply charge or vice versa. This means, depending on the kind of energy user you are, your household’s bill may go up or down based on your plan.

New South Wales

Competitive market costs in NSW are expected to see a marginal rise this year according to the AEMC. But with increased competition in the energy market, consumers now have a greater opportunity to switch and save on their annual energy bill.

South Australia

Electricity costs in South Australia are predicted to remain steady in 2016 thanks to low wholesale prices resulting from an oversupply of generation capacity as per the Residential Electricity Price Trends report. The state is also likely to see a rapid expansion of renewable energy generation. In fact, according to a Deloitte Access Economics study released by the Energy Supply Association of Australia, South Australia’s solar and wind generation capacity per head of population is already more than three times that of any other state or territory.

Queensland

Electricity prices in Queensland could see a slight increase in 2016 due to a corresponding rise in wholesale rates. If you live in the suburbs of Brisbane, the Gold Coast or other areas of South East Queensland where there is a degregulated market, you can change your energy retailer and find a more competitively priced plan to save money.

ACT

Electricity prices are expected to fall in the ACT this year mainly due to falling electricity demand and lower network prices.

Western Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania

The three Australian states with the regulated energy market, are all expected to see a slight rise in residential electricity prices in 2016. At the moment, residents don’t have the option to switch retailers and the energy prices are ultimately decided by the state governments.

ENERGY TECHNOLOGY

From energy retailers and distributors to car giants, everyone is using technology to get ahead of the power game. Here are three technologies that you should know about for the year ahead:

Home battery storage

January 2016 saw the first installation of a Tesla Powerwall battery in an Australian home. And according to Natural Solar, the company that installed it, hundreds of more installations are about to follow. Home battery storage is the new buzzword of the renewable energy industry, allowing residents to store energy from the solar panels in the day to be used at night and one day put an end to power bills altogether.

At the moment, there are a number of questions around the technology, for example: What are the advantages of battery storage? Is it cost efficient? What does it mean for feed in tariffs? Will it lead to an end of the power grid as we know it? While we wait for some of the answers to unfold in the coming months, you can read our detailed guide to home battery storage to understand the technology better.

Smart meters

Smart meters are designed to give you more control over your energy consumption and costs as they provide access to real-time data on your power usage and eliminate the risk of erroneous estimated bills. Depending on the state you live in, you can decide if you want to switch to a smart meter. For instance, Victoria has already completed the mandatory rollout of more than two million smart meters across the state, whereas New South Wales has given consumers the choice of whether they want to be with a retailer that offers smart meters. South Australia on the other hand will have all new and replacement meters installed in homes and small business to be advanced meters from 1 December 2017.

Smart meters could mean more choices in terms of flexible pricing and time-of-use plans where you will be charged different rates for using electricity during peak, shoulder and off peak time slots. But they may or may not mean cheaper tariffs for your home depending on your usage habits. If you want to know more about the advantages and disadvantages of smart meters to help you make a choice when it’s time to switch, head over to our smart meters guide.

Online energy price comparison

Also set to grow in 2016 are services like Mozo’s online energy comparison tool. The free tool cuts down the time it takes to compare hundreds of electricity and gas plans to just a few seconds. Simply enter your postcode, compare the best plans available in your area and find out how much you can save by switching to the cheapest tariff. All this, from the click of a button.

ENERGY COMPETITION

Competition in the Aussie power industry is heating up with the launch of new online energy retailers as well as a range of green energy providers entering the market. The good news is, while Victoria has traditionally been the most competitive energy market, many new retailers are now growing their base in other states as well. Here’s an overview of the different kinds of retailers entering the market:

Online power retailers

A number of 100% online power companies such as Powershop, Globird and Click Energy let you control your energy usage from the comfort of your phone or laptop. Remember that going digital doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to good customer service, there are many other ways to get in touch over the phone, email, or even social media via Twitter or Facebook.

Check out our article that gives a rundown on these new players heating up the market.

Community based energy solutions

The future also looks bright for community based power projects that would use a combination of solar power, battery storage and localised energy grids to create self-sustained communities. The first signs of this trend were seen at the launch of Zen Technologies, Australia’s first dedicated community renewable energy provider in Adelaide.

ENERGY PRODUCTS

Gone are the days when your only choice while picking an energy plan was between a pay-on-time and direct debit discount. Now, energy providers are redefining power products with different kinds of pricing options and products.

Prepaid power packs

Just as you can purchase mobile phone usage on a prepaid basis, some energy providers like Powershop enable to you pre-purchase your power to help you save money and budget better for the times when your home’s energy needs are greater.

2016 could be the year when other providers roll out similar products to help people budget better.

Wholesale energy prices

Another interesting option that consumers can look forward to is being able to tap into wholesale electricity prices. Mojo Power for example, is already giving its customers access to wholesale electricity rates with their monthly or annual EnergyPass.

Renewable energy products

With sustainable energy steadily climbing the priority order for most Australians, energy retailers too are taking serious action on providing easy access to renewable power. While retailers like Powershop and Momentum Energy are offering energy that is sourced for 100% renewable sources, bigger providers like AGL and Origin Energy are investing in home battery storage and renewables.

2016 promises to be a year of great changes and choices - stay tuned as Mozo continues to map Australia’s power trends.

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