Coal generation hits 3-year high in Australia following carbon price repeal

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A two-year high in black coal output helped deliver a continued rise in emissions on Australia’s NEM, and pushed coal to 75.6% in the generation mix.

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More than a year after the repeal of the carbon tax and the coal sector continues to recover, with coal generation reaching a new three-year high of 75.6 per cent in October, despite notable increases in rooftop solar PV output.

The latest update from the Pitt & Sherry Cedex team says coal reached a low of 72.4 per cent in July 2014, the end of the carbon price which was then repealed by the Abbot government.

Brown coal was the initial beneficiary, with production rapidly increasing, and now black coal is also lifting its generation output. With the carbon price gone, the main federal initiative for reducing emissions is Direct Action, which places no restrictions on coal generation.

The report says total demand in the NEM has recovered from its lows early in 2015, but the rate of its recovery appears to have slowed recently. The headline result masks a continuing increase demand in Queensland counteracted by a flattening of demand in New South Wales and Victoria.

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Emissions from the NEM continue to rise, with an increase in the share of coal (black and brown) in the total generation portfolio and a corresponding drop in the share of both gas and renewables (Figures 3 ‐ 5).

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Black coal output is at its highest for two years. While at the same time, brown coal generation has decreased slightly over the last four months, following its post‐carbon‐pricing rally (Figure 3).

Rooftop solar output continues to grow, while wind output remains virtually unchanged recently, but is still on a longer term growth trend (Figure 3). Total generation from hydro plants continues at well below the level of the last few years.

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5 Comments
  1. onesecond 4 years ago

    Thanks Abott for destroying our earth. That blue marble is really annoying anyways, with its fresh air and sustenance providing ecosystems. It was really about time that somebody like the great Toxic Tony stood up against those pleasant living conditions once and for all.

  2. Ray Miller 4 years ago

    The uptick in Qld electricity is because of the Gas processing plants on Curtis Island, the gas industry should be required to fully offset their emissions with renewables. Also we need to embark on closing the most emissions intensive gen sets one every 3 months, end of story! Starting 1st December 2015 with the companies having the responsibility also of providing the necessary equivalent zero emission replacements. This should start to give a sense of urgency.

  3. Malcolm M 4 years ago

    While it’s a great story that is likely to get attention at the government level, it’s entirely predictable for the following reasons.
    1. The carbon tax artificially brought forward some renewable generation in Tasmania for export to the mainland, which resulted in them depleting their hydro dams. Their largest storage, the Gordon Dam, is now 37 m below full, and their entire system is only 28% full. Hydro Tasmania are now operating their hydro stations as conservatively as possible now by placing high bids, to ensure maximum import of brown coal power from Victoria.
    2. The increase in East Coast gas prices following completion of the gas export facilities at Gladstone would have led gas power generators to turn their plants into peaking capacity, except where low-priced long-term contracts had been secured.

    So the balance is supplied by coal. All wind and solar power produced has been used.

    Climate change would be expected to reduce hydro inflows, so to fulfill RET targets we will need to build renewable capacity to offset this reduction in hydro generation. The three big drivers of renewable investment over the next few years will be
    – reduced renewable certificates from Tasmanian hydro as they seek to gradually refill their dams
    – reduced gas power production as long-term low-cost gas contracts come up for renewal, leading to higher bid prices by gas power stations and reduced gas base load production
    – reduced costs of renewables

  4. trackdaze 4 years ago

    You see Abbott was a very smart man he knew that if he could goad the auto industry into leaving that this would in itself reduce our emissions in the forward years and we would ace our emimission reduction commitments. Always one move ahead he knew that that this would double down emission reductions as the economy tanks.

    Which is precisely why he and the liberals then Attacked wind and solar because we wouldn’t be needing any of these extra electricity anyway!

    Now it seems we have what amounts to a billion dollar chainsaw buy back masquarading as an emmission reduction fund.

  5. Porter 4 years ago

    It is quite difficult to understand our infatuation with coal when clean energy can be generated using wind and solar technologies.

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