Energy emissions fall as carbon price bites coal | RenewEconomy

Energy emissions fall as carbon price bites coal

Australia’s latest energy emissions report shows a 2m tCO2e cut, mostly from reduced brown coal generation and ‘unprecedented’ changes in demand.


The impact of the carbon price is starting to emerge in the generation profiles of Australia’s electricity network, combining with the renewable energy target to achieve a reasonably significant reduction in emissions from the energy sector this past year.

That is the conclusion of energy research group Cedex, which released its updated report for November, noting that the reduction in demand from black coal generators, caused by the combined impact of the renewable energy target and falling demand, had now extended to brown coal generators.

“In the last few months the burden (of reduced output) has shifted to the more emissions intensive Victorian brown coal generators,” Cedex wrote in its latest report. “Moreover, the output reductions are happening at the three most emissions intensive power stations: Hazelwood, Yallourn and Morwell. Perhaps the carbon price is beginning to lend the RET a hand.”

cedex generation

The report found that annualised energy emissions in Australia had fallen by 2 million tonnes of CO2e lower than in September, a fall of 0.6 per cent in just three months – and these were driven almost entirely by emission reductions from electricity generation. The energy sector accounts for more than half of Australia’s total emissions, excluding land-use changes.

The report also notes a reduction in electricity demand, which to the end of November has fallen dramatically in some states, with Victoria 11 per cent below 2008/09 levels, and NSW was down 8 per cent. South Australia and Tasmania each fell 4 per cent, while Queensland was down 2 per cent.

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Cedex described these changes as “unprecedented” in the entire 120-year history of the electricity supply industry in Australia. “There can be little doubt that electricity consumers spurred by a combination of government energy efficiency measures, community awareness, and higher prices, are responding by taking up the many options available to increase the efficiency of electricity use and to change their energy using behaviour to reduce unnecessary consumption. “

It said that solar PV only had a minor role in the reduction in demand – accounting for 0.7TWh out of the total 4TWh reduction in NSW, for instance – quoting AEMO data from 2011. But the amount of installations has grown more than 50 per cent since then.

However, it was clear that gas, wind and hydro generation now made up more than 25 per cent of the country’s generation. “The result has been that coal-fired generators are supplying less electricity, with consequent reductions in emissions,” Cedex said.

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  1. Jonathan Prendergast 8 years ago

    So, the Price on Carbon works?

    • Ronald Brak 8 years ago

      Yep, it works. It now costs a generator about $70 or more to burn a tonne of coal when before July the first coal cost most generators only a few dollars a tonne. And that’s a big enough change to make a change.

  2. Gillian 8 years ago

    Does anyone know why the hydro contribution dropped in what looks like early 2012 and then rose again? Problems in Tassie?

    • Warwick 8 years ago

      Perhaps might have something to do with getting an $30/MWh for exports to Victoria after July 1….

    • Rob 8 years ago

      Hydro Tas deliberately built up its water storage levels in early 2012 both by reducing exports to Victoria and by importing power overnight at cheap rates from Victoria. By adding 10% to water storage levels prior to July 1 they could then sell that power back at post carbon tax prices. It was a temporary aberration.

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