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Australian Renewable Energy Use Increasing – But So Is Coal

While electricity generation from renewable sources increased dramatically in Australia in 2008, up 10 per cent on the previous year, so did the use of coal.

The latest in Climate Group’s Greenhouse Indicator Series shows that fossil fuel-fired power stations in Australia’s four eastern states produced a total of 187.8 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution in 2008, an increase of one per cent from 2007. The amount of electricity generated from coal, the most carbon intensive fuel, increased by two per cent in 2008.

The renewable sector still accounted for less than five per cent of overall generation, so the growth of renewable energy  had little impact on total greenhouse gas emissions given the increase of coal consumption.

Victoria emitted 63.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases during 2008 and remained the most carbon intensive of any of the four eastern states due to its reliance on brown coal, the dirtiest form of the fossil fuel. Victoria’s power stations produced 117 tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution for every 100 MWh of electricity generated, compared to 67 tonnes in South Australia.

Renewable power stations produced 9.33 million MWh of electricity in 2008, up from 8.47 million MWh in 2007, but solar farms still accounted for under 1% of the total. Hydroelectricity was the largest renewable sector, followed by bioenergy. Wind power contributed 2.2 million MWh in 2008; an increase of 50 per cent on 2007 levels and the strongest growth from any power generation sector and largely due to a 71 per cent increase in wind generation in South Australia.

Read more of the latest Australia Electricity Generation Report (PDF)

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