SCHEMES encouraging people to install solar panels and save energy have cut household power consumption and will restrict the pace at which electricity bills increase in coming years, a new analysis has found.
While solar incentive schemes have been criticised as an expensive way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, an industry analysis has found they have led to a reduction in the amount of fossil fuel electricity drawn from the national power grid.
It suggests it is likely no new baseload power plants will be needed over the next decade.
Electricity consumption fell 3.2 per cent over the three years to 2011, ending years of dramatic increases and bucking projections that it would continue to soar due to economic and population growth.
The analysis, released by the Renewable Energy Certificate Agents Association, found more than half the cut in power use was due to photovoltaic solar panels, solar hot water systems and energy savings programs in Victoria and New South Wales that encourage use of more efficient lightbulbs and appliances.
The rest is likely to be due to reduced demand from manufacturing industries, milder weather over the past two years and personal energy savings made to limit the impact of escalating bills.