Carbon emissions from electricity sector easing due to renewable energy growth

Electricity sector emissions are dropping due to increase in renewable generation and decline in demand for gas and coal

The Australia Institute has published the National Energy Emissions Audit for February 2020, outlining steady growth in the renewable energy sector. The report states that the maintained growth in renewable energy generation is associated with a relative fall in emissions.

The report stressed that the current capacity of both gas and coal power output was not being utilised, with considerable excess generation capacity.

There is no strong case for more gas generation in the NEM (National Energy Market) given the current… gas generators are used well below their capacity factors”

Saddler (2020), National Energy Emissions Audit February 2020, The Australian Institute.

The report’s author, Dr Hugh Saddler, pointed out that increasing output from rooftop solar was adequate to meet the minor increase in national electricity demand from 2018. In addition to residential solar generation, this period saw the first introduction of large commercial- and industrial-scale solar installations.

Dire need for resolute emissions policy

Both Saddler and Renew Economy, which reported on the Audit Report results, pointed out that the ongoing lack of a resolute federal emissions policy has somewhat stifled the seeding of new wind and solar generators. They warn that delays in approval and poor policy definition has impeded growth of renewable energy generators, which need substantial financial investment in order to connect to the national grid securely and without risk.

Variable renewable energy generation (wind & solar) continue to grow, whilst gas and coal are subsiding and not operating near their functional capacity (Saddler, 2020)