National Energy Emissions Audit: electricity update - March 2019

Electricity Electricity prices Energy industries Energy resources Renewable energy Electricity demand Australia

Welcome to the March 2019 issue of the NEEA Electricity Update, with data updated to the end of February 2019. The Electricity Update presents data on electricity demand, electricity supply, and electricity generation emissions in the National Electricity Market (NEM), plus electricity demand in the South West Interconnected System (SWIS). In this issue we also include information on trends in emissions from consumption of petroleum products and natural gas, thereby giving, in total, very good guidance to changes in Australia’s energy combustion emissions as a whole.

Key points:

  • Total renewable supply, including rooftop solar, is at 21.2% of generation from all sources across the NEM and growing, though growth has recently slowed because of network constraints changes and changes to marginal loss factors affecting grid scale wind and solar farms.
  • In the last three years there has been no systematic or sustained change in total demand in the NEM.
  • There has been a continuing steady three year decrease in emissions and emissions intensity in the NEM. From early 2016 to early 2018, falling brown coal generation was the main contributory factor, and since then it has been as result of falling gas generation (replaced by cheaper and cleaner renewables).
  • Rooftop solar continues to climb and is now generating about 7.5 TWh per year, equivalent to over 4% of the total electricity used. There is around 6.6KW of rooftop solar capacity on the NEM, with the lion’s share in residential rooftop.
  • Very gradual decline in gas consumption across the manufacturing, commercial and residential sectors, undoubtedly reflecting, at least in part, the effect of higher gas prices on demand for gas.
  • Transport emissions continue unfettered by any constraints and as we have repeatedly noted, unless and until Australia has a set of genuine policies directed at decisively changing the trend of transport energy consumption, transport related emissions will continue their inexorable growth.
  • Continuing growth in use of petroleum fuels for transport also presents supply security challenges.
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