The Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program has released the latest National Energy Emissions Audit, analysing the electricity sector over the previous month.
The Audit shows that there is no strong case for building more gas generation in the National Electricity Market (NEM), as the existing fleet of gas power stations are operating below capacity and planning by the Energy Market Operator (AEMO) shows gas generation is likely to decline in coming years.
- On 4 January, bushfires caused the transmission line to trip between NSW and Victoria. This saw both the NSW and ACT governments appeal to consumers to reduce electricity consumption, wholesale prices hit the roof at $14,700 MWh and load shedding was narrowly avoided.
- On 31 January, violent storms tripped the transmission between Victoria and South Australia (SA). This left SA to operate as a standalone grid, supply power to the Portland smelter with a majority of wind and solar generation, along with gas.
- Total annual gas generation in the National Energy Market (NEM) doubled between 2006 and 2011. This was driven by unrealised assumptions that wholesale gas prices would fall, gas would serve as a transition fuel under a carbon-constrained market and electricity demand would continue to increase.
- There is no strong case for more gas generation in the NEM given the current 4.4 GW of combined cycle and 7.0 GW of open cycle (peaking) gas generators are used well below their capacity factors. Combined cycle gas plants should have capacity factors in the range of 70-90% and yet averaged just 29% over 2018-2019, rising to just 31% in the final 6 months of 2019.
- Under every scenario in AEMO’s latest Integrated System Plan, gas generation declines. If the NEM does need of more gas generation over the next couple of years, the existing fleet of gas plants should be technically capable of supplying it (to the equivalency of around 7% of NEM generation).
- The total share of coal power in the NEM continues to fall. Coal power in the NEM went from 82% about 10 years ago, to 74% three years ago and finally to 67% by December 2019.
- From 2018, increasing output from rooftop solar was sufficient to meet all of the (relatively modest) growth in total electricity consumption in the NEM. This resulted in electricity supplied through the NEM grid staying almost exactly constant.
SOURCE: The Australia Institute. “National Energy Emissions Audit.” TAI, February 2020
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia