Australia sees emissions jump for first time since 2001

Australian has recorded the biggest jump in electricity sector emissions since 2001, as brown coal and black coal energy generation continues to grow after the repeal of the carbon price a year ago.

Pitt & Sherry’s Cedex update for the month of July shows emissions from generators in the National Electricity Market (which covers all of Australia except W.A., the Northern Territory and some remote grids) grew 1.2 per cent over the previous two months.

According to Pitt & Sherry analyst Hugh Saddler, this is the biggest two-month increase in NEM emissions since January 2001, when, by a remarkable coincidence, total emissions were at almost exactly the same level as they are now, although with lower demand.

Saddler’s analysis shows that the share of coal-fired generation has jumped sharply over the past year to 76.3 per cent, with black coal accounting for 51.9 per cent of generation and brown coal 24.4 per cent

This comes amid claims from the Abbott government that its Direct Action program will deliver cuts in Australia’s emissions, although a new report noted that the top 20 power sector emitters will not be constrained in any way.

It also comes as the US introduces biting targets and emissions standards that will force the closure of many US coal plants – almost all of which are cleaner than Australia’s brown coal generators in Victoria.

Emissions output electricity

The demand falls represent the impact of energy efficiency measures and the huge growth in solar PV, which has allowed households to cut their demand by more than 10 per cent on average.

The largest increase in coal generation was in Queensland, ironically to help power the massive LNG plants which are exporting liquefied natural gas to Asian markets. That extra generation is adding nearly 2 million tonnes of CO2 a year, and will likely grow.

© 2015 Solar Choice Pty Ltd