Evidence of first step towards reductions


It shows that NSW government-owned electricity utilities Macquarie Generation and Delta Electricity, both of which are currently applying to expand fossil fuel power plants in NSW, top the list in terms of greenhouse emissions.

The pitt&sherry report examined current trends in energy use and found that the average ”carbon intensity” of units on the National Electricity Market had dropped.

”Electricity consumption increased but emissions from electricity generation fell,” the report said.

”This was because the share of electricity supplied by gas-fired and renewable generators increased significantly, while the share of black coal generators continued to decrease.”

But it is difficult to say whether the change represents a permanent shift in energy use, because of fluctuating prices on the energy market and the ongoing impact of the global financial crisis, which appears to have slowed down some investment in energy-hungry industry.

”The question is whether this trend is going to be sustained or not,” said Hugh Saddler, an economics and sustainability adviser who helped prepare the report. ”We may be seeing the beginning of the impact of more gas and renewable energy entering the mix.”

The report backs findings by The Climate Group, which analysed electricity use across 2009 to locate a similar trend.

The Department of Climate Change predicts that energy from power generation would continue to grow, but do so more slowly over the next decade.

“From 2013 to 2020 emissions from the stationary energy sector are projected to grow at an average annual rate 0.5 per cent per annum, compared to the historical growth rate of 2.3 per cent per annum,” a spokeswoman said. ”This is predominantly due to the projected slowdown in growth in electricity emissions mainly due to the increase in renewable generation associated with the expanded Renewable Energy Target.”

Renewable energy is yet to make much of an impact on the overall electricity market, however, with only about 6.4 per cent of power coming from non-fossil fuel sources last year, and most of that from hydro power generation rather than wind or solar.

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