National electricity demand and emissions continue to grow – rates not seen since 2004

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National electricity demand and emissions continue to grow according to the April 2016 Carbon Emissions Index (CEDEX®) Report by pitt&sherry and The Australia Institute (TAI). More specifically, the report indicates that electricity generation, demand and consumption continues to be on the increase nationally following a seventeen month trend. The total annual demand in the NEM is now 2.5% higher than the low point recorded for the year ending February 2015. This rate of demand growth was considered normal for the electricity industry up until 2004, but has not been seen since that time.

National electricity demand and emissions

Electricity demand: Increases continue to follow a thirteen month national trend to an annual demand in the NEM at 2.5% higher than the low point recorded to February 2015. See Figure 1.

Emissions: Total emissions from electricity generation in the NEM increased again in the year to March 2016. Annual emissions were 5.5% higher than in the year to June 2014 driven in large part by black coal generation in Queensland to meet the rapid demand growth in that state.

Electricity Generation: Total coal generation was 76.1%, compared with a minimum of 72.3% in the year to July 2014.

cedex april 2016

Electricity Supply

Brown coal generation declines as Victoria ceases supply to Tasmania. Black coal provided 53.1% giving a combined coal output of 76.1%.

Gas generation continued to decline, except in Tasmania, falling to 10.7% of NEM generation, the lowest since July 2010.

Renewable generation reached 13.2% in the year to March 2016, its highest level (excluding the special circumstances of 2012-14) for several decades.
As a consequence, emissions from electricity generation have increased once more to an annual level of 5.5% higher than in the year to June 2014. The emissions increase continues to be driven by growing black coal generation in Queensland, to supply the rapidly growing demand in that state, and more modest increases in NSW to make up for steadily falling imports of Queensland black coal electricity.

Renewable energy generation continues to increase, now at 13.2% to March 2016, its highest level in decades (excluding the carbon price era). A third solar farm at Moree on line from late February is now contributing to the overall renewable energy generation, along with hydro and wind. The three large solar farms, all in NSW, contributed 0.7% of NSW generation and 0.2% of total NEM generation in the month of March.

Mining emissions in Queensland and high temperatures around the country drive up electricity demand

Electricity use in the Queensland coal seam gasfields continues to be the main driver of demand growth in the NEM. Additional annual demand to power production in the Queensland coal seam gas fields reached about 4 TWh, a 9% increase in total state demand from the level of November 2014, when the shift to electric motor drive in the gasfields began.

Abnormally high average summer temperatures across the mainland states, extending into the first two weeks of March, will also have contributed to demand growth.

Upticks in consumption for NSW, Victoria and South Australia were in alignment with high temperature days.


Energy use is the largest driver of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels in electricity generation, transport and industry.

Based on electricity, petroleum and natural gas energy data, the pitt&sherry Carbon Emissions Index (CEDEX®) is the benchmark indicator for Australia’s carbon emissions from the energy sectors.

The CEDEX® quarterly report provides an early indication of Australian GHG emission trends. Trends in energy emissions are a reliable indicator of Australia’s ability to achieve emissions mitigation and are key to reducing emissions as a whole. CEDEX® has been providing a comprehensive and early indication of key GHG and energy trends in Australia since 2009 and is considered to be the most comprehensive report of its kind in the market today. CEDEX® is an assessment tool that is available to community and government organisations.

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