Australia’s electricity emissions jump 5.5% since Coalition dumps carbon price

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Australia’s electricity emissions up 5.5% since Coalition dumped carbon price. Jump in demand to support LNG exports. No new wind farms added to main grid for 1st time in decade. Meanwhile, govt to allow coal plants to continue emitting at highest levels, no penalty.

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Coalition ministers celebrate the repeal of the carbon price.
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Australia’s electricity emissions continue to rise and are now 5.5 per cent higher than they were before the carbon price was dumped, putting Australia against the global trend which is seeing energy emissions flat-lining even as the global economy expands.

Pitt & Sherry analyst Hugh Saddler says in his latest monthly survey that total emissions from electricity generation in the National Electricity Market (all but Western Australia and the Northern Territory) increased again in the year to March 2016.

carbon repeal

Annual emissions were 5.5 per cent higher than in the year to June 2014, when the Coalition killed the carbon price introduced by the Labor government, to much acclaim from the government (see picture above).

This startling jump in emissions comes despite the fact that Australia has signed up to the Paris climate agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to 2°C, and if possible 1.5°C. Energy emissions, according to the International Energy Agency, have flatlined for the past two years.

The rise in emissions also comes amid rising global CO2 levels, soaring temperatures, and the most serious coral bleaching event ever witnessed in the Great Barrier Reef.

Saddler blames the rise in emissions on a number of factors. One is the removal of the carbon price, which paved the way for more burning of coal, black coal in particular.

Another is the rise in coal generation in Queensland to support the exports of liquefied natural gas – which will contribute an extra 8 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year.

A third is the increase in demand, driven largely by LNG requirements in Queensland but also rebounds in peak demand in other states, particularly in response to the unusually hot summer worsened by the “El Niño” effect, which has exacerbated the rise in global temperatures.

cedex march 16 demand

“There can be little doubt that the period of falling demand for electricity across Australia has now ended,” Saddler writes. “In the year to March 2016, total NEM annual demand increased for the thirteenth successive month.”

Saddler says brown coal generation actually fell, but this was largely to do with the loss of the interconnector to Tasmania. This is expected to be quickly reversed when the cable is fixed, possibly in June, because Tasmania’s hydro levels are now down to record lows, and it has not invested enough in other renewable energy generation to compensate for this.

cedex emissions march 16In the year to March 2016, black coal generation supplied 53.1 per cent of NEM electricity and brown coal supplied 23.0 per cent. The total coal generation was 76.1 per cent, compared with a minimum of 72.3 per cent in the year to July 2014, the last year of the carbon price.

Gas supplied 10.7 per cent of NEM electricity in the year to March 2016, the lowest share since July 2010. Hydro generation increased slightly in all three states with major hydro capacity.

Saddler said wind generation fell slightly, probably because of the unusually hot, still weather across southern Australia throughout the first two weeks of March. “A year has now passed since a new wind farm came on-line in the NEM, the longest such period for over a decade,” Saddler noted.

Indeed, the only new wind farm to come on-line has been the small Coonooer wind farm in Victoria, courtesy of the ACT government’s reverse auction program. All other investment has come to a halt because of the Coalition’s fiddling with the renewable energy target.

Three new solar farms were added thanks to a grants program that the Coalition has announced it will now cease. These included the Nyngan, Broken Hill and Moree solar farms, all in NSW, with combined total capacity of 212MW.

“Being so new, they are as yet making only a small contribution to total annual generation. In the month of March, however, their output equalled 0.7 per cent of total NSW NEM generation, 2.2 per cent of total NEM renewable generation and 0.2 per cent of total NEM generation,” Saddler wrote in his report.

Total renewable generation in the year to March 2016 was 13.2 per cent of NEM generation, the highest level for several decades, outside the period affected by the carbon price.

Addendum: While the Coalition has dumped the grants mechanisms to renewable energy projects, so it can “protect” taxpayers’ money, it continues to use taxpayer funds to make handouts to polluters to reduce emissions under the Emissions Reduction Fund.

The ERF will be supported by something called the “safeguard mechanism”, which is supposedly designed to ensure that while emissions are cut in one sector that they do not rise in another.

However, under details released on Wednesday, polluters, including those in the electricity sector, will be allowed to emit as much as they have at any point in the five year period from 2009-2014 without penalty.

“A baseline will apply across the electricity sector, with individual baselines to apply in the event that the sectoral-baseline is exceeded. The sectoral baseline will be set at the high point of sectoral emissions over the period 2009-10 to 2013-14,” the government says in a preview of its legislation.

“Individual baselines will also be set at each facility’s highest annual emissions between 2009-10 and 2013-14. Generators will have access to the same emissions management options as facilities in other sectors, as well as similar baseline adjustments to accommodate economic growth.”

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22 Comments
  1. Rob G 4 years ago

    I just love that celebration photo. It’s going to be a historic marker for Australia’s political stupidity on climate change. The delight of “achievement” really jars against common sense and reason. This should serve as a reminder on exactly what the government thinks of CC and why they are not a viable option in government.

    • john 4 years ago

      It seems two of the Ministers were particularly happy one having something to do with education the other the environment apparently.

    • joono 4 years ago

      Caption : We told them that electricity prices will go down

    • john 4 years ago

      Rob i have saved it as a celebration to roll out to grand children for them to look on and just shake their heads in disbelief

    • Dispassionate 4 years ago

      Don’t really see how you can pile blame on the LNP when they were voted in with repealing the carbon tax as one of their big ticket items…maybe blame should be directed at the majority of Australians that used their vote at the polls to make this happen.
      And why would electricity prices go down when anyone who actually contributes to GHG emission reduction wants to try and squeeze every cent they can out of the system. It’s only a saving if we don’t have to pay, paying it to the fossil fuel energy producer or the guy down the road with a couple of solar panels on his roof doesn’t make an ounce of difference to the bill does it!

      • Ryan Law 4 years ago

        3 million people isnt the majority of australians stop drinking the kool aid and look at the actual number of votes that put the coalition in power it was only 15% of population so its hard to call that majority the majority dont vote because they are either unregistered or ineligible only 12 million are registered to vote and of those only 11 million or so voted last election of which liberals got about 25% of their primary vote

        this whole talk of mandate the LNP always bangs on about when it never gets more then a few million of the primary vote is complete rubbish its designed to make people not think abut why the votes of 15% of the population should be the sole voice in deciding the direction of a democracy

        • Dispassionate 4 years ago

          My error

          Don’t really see how you can pile blame on the Coalition when they were voted in with repealing the carbon tax as one of their big ticket items…maybe blame should be directed at the majority of Australians that used their vote at the polls to make this happen.

      • Rob G 4 years ago

        Don’t kid yourself on people voting LNP because of policies, this was about getting Labor out. And thanks to the Murdoch press scare campaigning it worked. I think we are at a point where we won’t be fooled again. LNP, be it state or federal have an appalling record on all things environment. At the top of the list is climate change. Labor controlled states are far more advanced on renewable buildup (SA, ACT are the best performers).

        As for claiming everyone wants to squeeze every cent out so prices won’t go down. Maybe you ought to look at reverse auctions. New York has a system where both fossil fuels and renewables compete for power slots in the day – best price wins. And more and more that best price are renewables (wind farms at sea being the most competitive). Here in OZ the odds are stacked in favour of the fossil fuelers and hurt the customer price.

        For solar owners a fair price should exist – power companies/grids are selling that power on at 4 times the best price a solar owner gets. That amounts to theft.

        At the end of the day, there simply will be more money made in positive action on climate change. Peabody, the largest coal company filed for bankruptcy last week

        • Dispassionate 4 years ago

          I have seen little evidence of solar PV owners not trying to squeeze out every cent they can deserved or undeserved ..eg the statement below which is completely incorrect.

          “For solar owners a fair price should exist – power companies/grids are selling that power on at 4 times the best price a solar owner gets. That amounts to theft.”
          So many people have got this wrong, there are costs involved that are part of every kWh transported about, those costs are not avoidable, only the wholesale costs and some line losses are avoidable and this is why the solar export price is what it is. Try reading any of the reports from IPART, QCA, QPC etc to get a grip on this.

  2. john 4 years ago

    Without private companies doing the research there will be no accounting.
    CSIRO will not be doing it.
    I suppose self reporting by companies can be relied upon, they would be strictly ensuring to give a honest and full account; what could possibly go wrong?

  3. howardpatr 4 years ago

    Yet another highlight of Cayman Turnbull’s administration – little wonder the tide is turning as he dances to the tune of the right wing religious fundamentalists in the Coalition.

    You might wonder if Cayman Turnbull is in the process of a conversion to beome a climate change denier – he certainly avoids any dialogue on this issue and the renewable energy future.

    • John Saint-Smith 4 years ago

      He’s been short of words on any subject, especially unfavourable polls (for LNP, and his leadership), for some time now. He hasn’t been able to sustain a conversation on any subject for more than 48 hours, which is the average life of his policies.
      I’m hoping that those innocent Liberal voters who genuinely believed that Turn-BS would reform the Abbott Government and create some positive momentum are suitably shocked and that this will be reflected in a more realistic assessment of his performance as Prime Minister.

  4. Macabre 4 years ago

    It is clear as daylight that Turnbull has no mandate from his party to shift to more environmentally sensible policies. in contrast to Abbott he seems to be on a very short leash. i can’t see anything changing during the next term. i profoundly hope the dip in polls is terminal for the Coalition. Shorten is hardly better, but we can hope the Labor party as a whole, given the chance, will inject some common sense into the process.

    • Dispassionate 4 years ago

      but at what price?

    • Ryan Law 4 years ago

      we passed the point of no return(400ppm) in 2014 from here on in the extra water in the ocean is changing the earths axis to have less tilt/less seasons and the perma frost is melting theres 1600ppm worth of carbon in perma frost.
      while theirs a certain satisfaction in arguing over who killed the horse no mater the outcome its still dead

  5. Chris Fraser 4 years ago

    Nice figures to display just how unique and … sort of … how different Australia is. Most of the developed world is decoupling economic growth with emissions but not us.The LNP is going to wake up in a cold cold sweat trying to remember why we tax things like tobacco and alcohol – which is of course to reduce their consumption.

    • Ryan Law 4 years ago

      lol according to LNP it dosnt reduce consumption that was their rational for not having a sugar tax that consumption taxes dont work, the libs are having some serious crisis’s of logic at the moment, taxes wont rise if the states start taking income tax we have plenty of money for health and education, if the states didnt want to raise taxes we aren’t going to we have no money for health and education. consumption taxes reduce consumption, consumption taxes dont reduce consumption, we have to fight corruption by creating a organisation that dosnt have a mandate to deal with corruption, the housing market is the bedrock of our economy, if we de-incentivized investors over owner occupiers the housing market would crash.
      the list is getting rather endless of were they have diametrically opposed stances on the same subject depending on which donors it effects

  6. Cooma Doug 4 years ago

    Votes leave ship when the voter can feel that the other choice is a better option. Logic and polls help to trigger the feeling as well as the diner table and the bank account.

    If the feeling is brought on by a loss of trust, empty words and constant excuses….game over.

  7. JustThink4Once 4 years ago

    The photo says it all as they sing …. “Ring a ring of Tony, climate change baloney. Trust issue will ensue, we all fall down……”

  8. Neville Bott 4 years ago

    The picture is not hanging on a wall in their prison cells, not yet but justice requires that this should happen.

Comments are closed.

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