National Energy Emissions Audit: electricity update - September 2019

Electricity Power resources Energy industries Energy resources Fossil fuels Emission reduction Australia

Welcome to the September 2019 issue of the NEEA Report. This issue departs somewhat from the usual content by using two official documents released in the first week of September to look at the longer term trends in Australia’s total energy combustion emissions. The two documents are:

  • Australian Energy Statistics 2019, with annual data up to 2017-18.
  • Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory for March 2019.

Australian Energy Statistics constitutes the official record of how much energy Australia uses, what energy is used for, and what forms of energy are used. The 2019 publication contains annual data up to the 2017-18 year. Among other functions, these statistics are the key input to calculating Australia’s annual emissions from fossil fuel combustion. They can therefore be used to estimate what these emissions were in 2017-18, well ahead of the release of the full National Greenhouse Gas Inventory for 2017-18, likely to be some time in the second quarter of 2020.

In this NEEA Report we use the Australian Energy Statistics 2019 data to estimate Australia’s total energy combustion emissions up to 2017-18, i.e. emissions including those sources which the NEEA cannot cover because of the lack of monthly data. Using this estimate as a base, together with more limited data in the March 2019 Quarterly Update, we also estimate energy combustion emissions for the full 2018-19 year, and present graphs of the ten year trend in energy combustion emissions by major economic sector and by major fossil fuel type.

Key points:

  • Energy productivity has increased very little since the introduction of the National Energy Productivity Plan in 2015.
  • Australia is falling further behind the main aim of the NEPP; to achieve a 40% improvement in Australia’s primary energy productivity by 2030
  • Energy combustion emissions are rising, against the trend in most other OECD countries. Australia is 4th of all OECD countries in terms of increased emissions since 2005, following Turkey, South Korea and Mexico.
  • Increased combustion emissions since 2005 come predominately from transport, and from manufacturing, mining and petroleum and gas.
  • The only exception to the increasing trend is electricity generation, which has seen reduced emissions, as frequently reported by the NEEA Electricity Updates
  • The main driver of emissions reduction in electricity is the rise of large-scale wind and solar PV supported by the rise in small-scale PV, the closure of several older coal fired power stations and reduced electricity consumption
  • Electricity supplied by grid solar and wind continue to increase but in the year to August this rise was offset by a decline in hydro production
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