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Australia

Official Name:
Commonwealth of Australia

National Designated Entity

Type of organisation:
Government/Ministry
Name:
Mr. Steven Turnbull
Position:
Climate Policy Officer
Phone:
+61 2 6178 5192
Emails:
Steven.turnbull@dfat.gov.au

Energy profile

Australia (2012)

Type: 
Energy profile
Energy profile
Extent of network

The vast majority of the population of Australia has access to electricity, despite the very low population density of the country. The national transmission grid comprises of 27,640 km of transmission lines and cables, with 10,300 km of these operating at above 330 kV. There are two separate grids in the country, the eastern grid operating under the National Electricity Market (NEM), and the South-West Interconnected Supply Area, serving Western Australia. The vast majority of the transmission infrastructure is located around the major load centres, with no connection between Western and Southern Australia. In addition, Tasmania is connected to the Victorian grid through an unregulated interconnection under the NEM.The NEM is connected by seven major transmission interconnectors. These interconnectors link the electricity networks in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. The NEM electricity transmission and distribution networks consist of around 790 700 km of overhead transmission and distribution lines and around 113 700 km of underground cables.

Renewable energy potential

As of 2007, Australia generated 5.6 billion kWh of electricity from renewable sources. Under the previous Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET), which targeted 9.5 billion kWh of the total electricity generation from renewable sources, solar hot water, wind energy and solar electricity experienced the greatest growth. Currently, the target is set at 45,000 GWh of new renewable electricity generation by 2020 under the Renewable Energy Target (RET), which began on 1 January 2010.Australia’s renewable energy currently accounts for less than 5% or 244 PJ of total energy consumption. A recent decline is mainly due to low biomass production, which was affected by its low energy content and high handling and processing costs. Solar energyThe majority of Australian territory receives a high level of direct solar radiation, sufficient to make it one of the world's best prospects for concentrating solar power (CSP) plants. Average insolations across the Australian land mass are 5.0-7.5 kWh/m2/day, rising to as much as 8.5 kWh/m2/day in some Northern areas. Current utilisation of the technology is low, with 40 MW of linear solar reflectors installed in New South Wales. However, many new solar projects are planned for the country, particular concentrating on CSP projects.Wind energyAssessments made in 2008 state that the potential capacity for on-shore wind-generated power in Australia is 91,760 MW, capable of producing 241 TWh/year of electricity, at a capacity factor of 30%. The majority of this potential is concentrated in Western and Southern Australia, as the coastline lies in the “roaring forties” region of high coastal wind strengths, with hundreds of sites having average wind speeds of 8-9 m/s at 50m. Current installed capacity, as of December 2009, is 1,877 MW, with South Australia possessing the majority of capacity. Wind power is expected to grow from 1 TWh to 4 TWh over the same period.Biomass energyThe potential for biomass energy production from wood wastes and bagasse has been identified, although concerns are high amongst the population and government as to the “food vs. fuel” debate, due to the recent food price crisis. There are currently three commercial producers of fuel ethanol in the country, all on the eastern coast. Current legislation imposes a 10% cap on ethanol blend for fuels, and E10 (90% unleaded petrol, 10% ethanol) is commonly available around major sources of ethanol production, for example in Queensland.HydropowerHydro-electric resources are largely used for electricity generation, and account for about 95% of the total share of renewable electricity generated, although hydropower generation has been below average for the past few years due to continuing drought. Despite the strong contribution made by the resource, it is projected to grow by roughly 0.6% per year, reaching about 18 TWh by 2019–2020.Ocean energyForays are being made into the establishment of wave power generation in the country, including a 50MW trial plant at Douglas Point in South Australia.Geothermal energyIn Australia, geothermal resources are primarily found in South Australia and Tasmania and along the southern Victorian coastline. Despite vast resource potential, only 80 kW at one geothermal station is currently on line. This small plant built in the early 1990s produces one-third of the power for the town of Birdsville, Queensland. In 2009, it was reported that the government of Queensland will invest up to AU$ 4.3 million to upgrade the station.

Energy framework

Australia’s energy policy framework changed significantly in 2009, through amendments to existing policy and legislation. Developments included the Review of the Australian taxation system; updating the Energy White Paper 2004; the release of the National Energy Security Assessment; the establishment of the Australian Energy Market Operator; the release of the National Strategy for Energy Efficiency; the passing of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2009 and the Renewable Energy (Electricity) (Charge) Amendment Bill 2009 to expand the renewable energy target; and the proposal for an emissions trading scheme.The Australian government is committed to a long-term goal of reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions to 60% below the 2000 level by 2050. The climate change policy is built on three pillars:reducing Australia’s emissions of greenhouse gases,adapting to unavoidable climate change,helping to shape a global solution.The Renewable Energy Target (RET) began on 1 January 2010, and aims for at least 20% (or around 60,000 GWh) of electricity supply to be provided by renewable energy sources by 2020. This includes the new target of 45,000 GWh of new renewable electricity generation, on top of 15,000 GWh of existing renewable electricity generation, compared with 95,000 GWh by 2010 under the previous Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET). The RET also brings existing state-based targets, such as the Victorian Renewable Energy Target and the proposed New South Wales Renewable Energy Target, into a single Australia-wide scheme. The RET is scheduled to end in 2030, when the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) is expected to be the primary driver of investment in renewable energy, replacing the RET.In June 2010, legislation was passed to separate the RET scheme into two parts from 1 January 2011: the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) and the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET).In 2000, Australia introduced a voluntary measure for fossil fuel electricity generators to reduce the greenhouse intensity of energy supply. The Generator Efficiency Standards apply to new projects and existing electricity generators above a minimum threshold (30 MW), whether grid-connected, off-grid or self-generators. Since 2004 the best-practice efficiency guidelines have defined for new plants; and the measure is implemented through legally binding, five-year Deeds of Agreement between the Australian government and participating businesses.The Energy Efficiency Opportunities program (EEO) came into force in 2006, under which all large energy-using businesses – more than 139 GWh / year (12 Mtoe / year) – are required to undertake an energy audit every five years and to report publicly on cost-effective energy savings opportunities. The EEO covers approximately 240 businesses across all sectors (mid-2010 figures) accounting for more than 60% of total business energy use.The Australian Ministerial Council on Energy (MCE) endorsed the National Framework for Energy Efficiency (NFEE) in 2004, following on the 2002 Energy South Australia study, and approved the implementation of a number of energy efficiency packages. Stage 1, which came to a close in June 2008, included nine policy packages. Stage 2 started in July 2008, with five new energy efficiency measures: expanding and enhancing the Minimum Energy Performance Standards program for electrical appliances and gas appliances; developing a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) high efficiency systems strategy; phasing-out of incandescent lighting in the households sector; providing government leadership to stimulate energy efficiency in buildings through green leases; and developing measures to improve the energy efficiency of water heaters.The National Strategy for Energy Efficiency (NSEE), released in 2009, incorporates and builds on measures in the NFEE. It is a coordinated, comprehensive 10-year strategy for energy efficiency improvements for households and businesses. Through this collaborative approach, the NSEE delivers a range of policy measures, with a focus on increasing energy efficiency. The MCE is responsible for the delivery of several important measures in the NSEE that are delivered through the NFEE.The National Energy efficiency Initiative – Smart Grid, Smart City was implemented by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism in 2009. It will demonstrate Australia's first fully integrated, commercial scale smart grid. Smart grids combine advanced communication, sensing and metering infrastructure with existing energy networks. This enables a combination of applications that can deliver a more efficient, robust and consumer-friendly electricity network.In July 2009, the New South Wales government implemented an energy saving obligation for electricity retailers and other parties who buy or sell electricity (Energy Savings Scheme, ESS). Total energy savings requirements are fixed for each year of the scheme, as a given percentage of the electricity sales. The target for the first year was set at 0.4% of total electricity sales, and will gradually increase to 4% in 2014.In 2009, Australia launched a Solar Flagships program aimed at supporting large-scale solar power generation of up to 1,000 MW.In 2010, the Energy Efficiency Program was established within the framework of the Australian Carbon Trust to promote take-up of energy efficient technologies and practices in the business sector. It provides innovative finance solutions and expert advice to help businesses achieve energy efficiency improvements and cost-effective carbon emission reductions. Five initial projects were announced in November 2010, an investment totaling 23.7 million Australian dollars over the next three years.The Minimum Energy Performance Standards program (MEPS) aims to increase the energy efficiency of products used in manufacturing sectors (three-phase electric motors, etc.).The Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research provides Clean Business Australia and the Green Car Innovation Fund to support businesses.Clean Energy Act 2011In November 2011, the Australian parliament passed the Clean Energy Act 2011, which establishes the structure of and process for introducing an economy-wide carbon price on 1 July 2012, and the transition to an emissions trading mechanism on 1 July 2015.The Act covers the following:liable entities’ obligations to surrender emissions units corresponding to their emissionslimits on the number of emissions units that will be issuedthe nature of carbon unitsthe allocation of carbon units, including by auction and the issue of free unitsmechanisms to contain costs, including the fixed charge period and price floors and ceilingslinks to other emissions trading schemesassistance for emissions-intensive trade-exposed activities and coal-fired electricity generatorsmonitoring and enforcement.The Clean Energy Future package incorporates the carbon pricing mechanism; along with a commitment to renewable energy, energy efficiency and action in the land sector.

Source
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  • Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Energy Overview 2012

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    Sustainable energy development can be achieved by employing highly effective government policies and by broadening energy cooperation between economies through bilateral, regional and multilateral schemes. In this context, sharing information on common energy challenges is essential. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Energy Overview is an annual publication intended to promote information sharing. It contains energy demand and supply data as well as energy policy information for each of the 21 APEC economies.

  • Urban Poor, Video narrated by Angélique Kidjo, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

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    Although urban centers are often ill-prepared to meet the basic needs of rapidly expanding populations, the urban poor are incredibly resourceful people, with their own networks and the proven capacity to save and invest in the betterment of their communities. Climate change can stimulate action that improves and transforms the most vulnerable urban communities.

  • Overcoming barriers to wind project finance in Australia

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    The wind power industry in Australia is expected to grow rapidly over the next decade, primarily due to a forthcoming expanded national renewable energy target (RET) which will mandate that renewable sources provide approximately 20% of Australia’s electricity production by 2020. However, development of new wind generation in Australia has stalled as a result of several barriers to project finance, the mechanism through which most wind farms have been developed historically.

  • Long-Term Trajectories of the Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production: Lessons from Six National Case Studies

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    Based on published data for Austria, Hungary, the Philippines, South Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom, this article investigates long-term trends in aboveground human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) and discusses the relationships between population, economic growth, changes in biomass use and land-use intensity and their influences on national HANPP trajectories.

  • Indigenous women's preferences for climate change adaptation and aquaculture development to build capacity in the Northern Territory

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    Research was carried out on South Goulburn Island, Northern Territory, to improve understandings of local, Indigenous people’s dependency on marine resources, and of their perspectives on climate change, and aquaculture as a means towards adapting to climate change. Workshops and interviews were carried out mostly with women, but also some men with an emphasis on the use of participatory and visual techniques to encourage discussion of the future.

  • The Evidence of Benefits for Poor People of Increased Renewable Electricity Capacity: Literature Review

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    Lack of access to electricity is seen as a major constraint to economic growth and increased welfare in developing countries. In this report, the authors conducted a review of the evidence that investments in electricity-generating capacity have benefits for poor people, and what factors influence that relationship. The review analyzes a large and diverse range of literature dealing with the poverty impacts of increased generation capacity.

  • Low-Carbon Green Growth Roadmap for Asia and the Pacific

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    This report was prepared under the project "Development of a Low Carbon Green Growth Roadmap" for East Asia. This report briefs the challenges and opportunities confronting low-carbon green growth and the climate crisis into an economic opportunity by providing five tracks for pursuing green growth as a new economic development path. This report also provides detailed information and analysis of the policy options identified through fact sheets and case studies.

  • Pacific Climate Change Data Portal

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    The Pacific Climate Change Data Portal is a user-friendly tool that allows the user to visualise historical climate data in the form of trends, running and long term averages. As the largest web based data source for the Pacific region this tool currently provides users access to more than 100 individual observation sites across the Pacific Islands and East Timor. In PACCSAP, this web tool is being updated with to include trends in rainfall and temperature extremes. It is freely available for anyone to explore climate trends.

  • Environmental and social safeguards (EoD)

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    This report reviews existing environmental, social and climate safeguard systems developed and adopted by multilateral and bilateral development agencies. The aim of the report is to assess the potential for the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to adopt or rely on these systems. This will help guide the application of DFID’s new SMART rules, which include a commitment to ensuring sustainability and resilience, and to avoid doing harm such as creating or exacerbating resource scarcity, climate change and/or environmental damage.

  • Projections of Global Emissions of Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases in 2050

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    Emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases are currently covered under the Montreal Protocol, which focuses on ozone-depleting substances such as CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) and under the Kyoto Protocol, which controls emissions of HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons), PFCs (perfluorocarbons) and SF6 (sulfur hexafluoride). This study bridges the gap between political regimes and their reporting systems by giving an overview of banks and emissions of all fluorinated gases in 2005 and projections of banks and emissions of fluorinated gases in 2050.