Graph of the Day: Australia's top 20 greenhouse gas emitters | RenewEconomy

Graph of the Day: Australia’s top 20 greenhouse gas emitters

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Latest data shows electricity generation remains Australia’s biggest contributor, by far, of corporate and industrial greenhouse gas emissions.

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Fossil-fueled electricity generation remains Australia’s largest industrial and corporate source of greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for more than half of the carbon pollution emitted nationally last year, new data has shown. Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 11.21.36 AM

According to the 2013-14 National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) data, published by the federal government’s Clean Energy Regulator late last week, Australia’s power generation companies are still the country’s biggest producers of scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions, with the big three gentailers – EnergyAustralia, AGL Energy and Origin Energy – coming in at numbers 1, 3 and 6 respectively in the rankings for Australia’s most polluting companies.

The data represents the greenhouse gas emissions and net energy consumption for 420 of Australia’s heaviest corporate emitters, who in 2013-14 produced a combined 312 million tonnes of scope 1 emissions (CO2-e), 88 million tonnes of scope 2 emissions (CO2-e), and consumed a net energy equivalent of around 5,150 petajoules.

The below graph (you can click on the image to see a bigger version) narrows it down to the top 20 corporate emitters – most of which hail from the electricity generation, mining and manufacturing sectors –who together represent around 60 per cent of the emissions reported under the NGER Scheme.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 10.44.51 AM
Australia’s Top 20 Greenhouse Gas emitters. The corporations report emissions for all facilities they have operational control over during the reporting period. Source: Clean Energy Regulator

And while coal mining accounts for 9 per cent of scope 1 emissions (see top-right pie chart), it is the burning of coal for energy that remains Australia’s dirtiest industry, responsible for a whopping 54 per cent of emissions in 2013-14.

The third chart, below, measures the total emissions produced by the top 20 designated generation facilities against the amount of electricity produced.

As you can see, the ratio between emissions to electricity generation depends largely on the type of fuel the power plant burns. All of Australia’s largest designated generation facilities are coal-fired, but the worst offenders are the brown coal plants, like the AGL-owned Loy Yang A in Victoria, which – as you can see in the chart – remains Australia’s single biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 10.51.44 AM
Total emissions for Australia’s top 20 designated generation facilities in millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt C02-e). Source: Clean Energy Regulator

And while Victoria boasts the top two most polluting coal-fired power plants in Australia – Hazelwood, owned by GDF Suez, is number two on the list – electricity generation remains the biggest emitter in all but two of Australia’s states and territories. In the Northern Territory, it comes in at number three, after manufacturing, as it does in Tasmania, where hydro-power is the main electricity source.



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  1. adam 5 years ago

    can’t click/read the graphs

    • Colin Nicholson 5 years ago

      RH vertical is petjoules 1 PJ = 280GWHr

  2. Chris 5 years ago

    Expect to see the head of the Clean Energy Regulator publicly bullied by the COALition shortly then I guess.

  3. suthnsun 5 years ago

    Is transport really only 1%?

    • nakedChimp 5 years ago

      yeah, I’m flabbergasted as well.. I really really had a very bad feeling about driving a SUV up here in FNQ.. nonetheless, looking forward to be able to get an electric one as soon as I can 😉

      At least got 10kW of PV on the roof *g*

      • suthnsun 5 years ago

        I looked further, this article is only referring to heavy corporates. The greenvehicleguide gives the following (old) info
        “The road transport sector depends on petroleum based fuels. Growth in the Australian road transport task has led to a corresponding increase in fuel consumption, which in turn, has led to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the sector. In 2009, road transport accounted for 13.2% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically passenger cars accounted for 7.5% and trucks/buses 5.5% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse emissions from road transport have been increasing at an average rate of 1.4% per annum since 1990 [1].”
        An EV has certainly slashed my personal GHG emissions in conjunction with PV at home and work..

  4. Helpusall 5 years ago

    The majority of air transportation is for tourism.

    It’s hard to accept an ideology bent on eliminating burning carbon for creating power and producing goods, when it doesn’t 1st target the industry that burns carbon simply for recreational purposes.

    I’ll jump on board the climate change train, when I see visible effort from the green movement to eliminate tourism.

    • onesecond 5 years ago

      Yeah, let’s destroy our planet to show the tourists that they suck. Who needs it anyway.

    • Chris 5 years ago

      So what you’re singling out there is the 2% for ‘Air and Space Transport’ (see the pie chart), as opposed to the 54% for ‘Electricity Generation’, 63% if you include the mining of its coal . . . . I think you need to read the article again.

    • Colin Nicholson 5 years ago

      “when it doesn’t 1st target the industry that burns carbon simply for recreational purposes” That would be the entertainment industry which burns mostly electricity. The aviation industry is doing very nicely in reducing emissions/pax nautical mile thank you

  5. Leigh Ryan 5 years ago

    Helpusall, you clearly have no idea how much Tourism contributes to the Australian economy, and whilst i agree the airlines need to clean up their act we haven’t yet obtained a technology to do so, but still you seem to have missed the point Power generation is the problem, it can be addressed and fixed today! who do you work for AGL or Origin

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