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Australians spend about $50 billion on energy each year, while energy exports earn more than $24 billion a year. Demands for energy in Australia is projected to increase by 50 per cent by 2020, and the energy industry has estimated that at least $37 billion in energy investments will be required by 2020 to meet the nation’s energy needs. Developing Australia’s abundant low-cost energy resources is a key to our future prosperity.
Our known oil reserves are significant, but are projected to decline in the absence of new discoveries. Renewable energy is an essential part of Australia’s low emissions energy mix and is important to Australia’s energy security.
Renewable sources of energy include solar, wind, water, biomass, wood, waste, geothermal, wind, photovoltaic, and solar thermal energy. The heat from the sun can be used to heat water or air for residential, commercial and industrial use. Firms also use energy in virtually all of their activities, whether it is processing and manufacturing materials, transporting goods, heating and cooling premises, providing telecommunication services or powering computers. One of the greatest benefits of renewable energy is its potential to provide affordable and clean sources of electricity.
Australia’s per capita emissions are the highest in the OECD and among the highest in the world.
Relative to other OECD countries, Australia’s high emissions are mainly the result of the high emissions intensity of energy use, rather than the high energy intensity of the economy or exceptionally high per capita income. The high emissions intensity of energy use in Australia is mainly the result of our reliance on coal for electricity.
Australia’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions are the highest of any OECD country and are among the highest in the world. In 2006 Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions were 576 Mt CO2-e using Kyoto Protocol accounting provisions (DCC 2008c). Stationary energy sector emissions are from energy industries (for example, electricity generation and petroleum refining), fuel combustion in the manufacturing and construction industries, and fuel combustion in other sectors such as commercial, residential, agriculture, forestry and fishing.
In the reference case, stationary energy sector emissions are projected to increase by about 85 per cent by 2050 and about 260 per cent by 2100.
Emissions arising from land-use change depend on the area of forest cover removal, the method of forest conversion and land development. Australia’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions due to energy are the third highest of any OECD country and the seventh highest in the world, after Luxembourg, the United States, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Netherlands Antilles. The energy intensity of an economy is a measure of the amount of energy used per unit of economic activity generated. Australia’s GDP per capita in 2005 was about 16 per cent higher than the OECD average (IEA 2007a). The energy intensity of Australia’s economy does not account for our extremely high per capita greenhouse gas emissions.
The emissions intensity of Australia’s primary energy supply is the second highest among OECD countries.
The exceptional emissions intensity of Australia’s primary energy supply has only emerged in recent decades. The increasing emissions intensity of Australia’s primary energy supply is largely due to its increasing reliance on coal for electricity generation, at a time when other developed countries have shifted significantly to lower-emissions sources. The emissions intensity of Australia’s electricity supply is the highest of any OECD country. Transport emissions represent about 14 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
Australia’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions due to transport are the fourth highest of any OECD country and the seventh highest in the world, after Canada, Luxembourg, Netherlands Antilles, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Transport-associated per capita emissions are the product of per capita GDP, the transport energy intensity of the economy and the emissions intensity of transport energy. The emissions intensity of transport energy is determined by the proportions of travel undertaken using public and private transport modes and, within modes, the combination of the engine type and fuel used. The emissions intensity of Australia’s transport energy is within a fraction of 1 per cent of the OECD average. The lack of variation in the emissions intensity of transport energy among OECD countries is a reflection of the fact that, in all OECD countries, transport emissions are dominated by the same engine type (internal combustion) and the same fuel (petroleum).
The transport energy intensity of Australia’s economy is the sixth highest among OECD countries and is about 10 per cent higher than the OECD average. Note: Data on emissions from agricultural production in developing countries are of poor quality and a consistent dataset for recent years is not available. Livestock emissions from enteric fermentation play a large role in the emissions profile of the agriculture sector. The countries with the highest per capita agricultural emissions are those with the largest numbers of cattle and sheep relative to population. New Zealand, Ireland and Australia all produce more than 100 kilograms of beef per person per year. There is significant global potential for emissions removal (or carbon sequestration) through revegetation of previously cleared land and increasing the stock of carbon in forests, wooded land and soils. The potential for carbon removal through existing forests and revegetation of cleared land is proportional to the land area available for those purposes. In 2006 the net removal by pre-1990 plantations and native forests was estimated to be about 24.1 Mt CO2-e (DCC 2008b).
It is important for efficient global mitigation that the international community move to comprehensive carbon accounting related to agriculture and forestry. Comparative carbon accounting, among much else, would bring to account all carbon sequestered by and emitted from managed lands.
The industries whose competitiveness is most likely to be adversely affected by a price on greenhouse gas emissions are those that are exposed to international trade and that have either a high degree of energy intensity or a high level of direct greenhouse gas emissions. The Review sought to identify the trade-exposed industries that might be most affected by a price on greenhouse gas emissions.
The guidelines of the UNFCCC require countries to report agricultural, land use and forestry emissions according to the physical processes that give rise to them.
In order to gauge the potential impact of a price being placed on greenhouse gas emissions, the Review examined the effect of a permit price of $10, $20 and $40 per tonne of CO2-e and assumed that there would be 100 per cent pass-through of emissions costs to energy consumers. Recent and projected increases in commodity prices reduce the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions to the value of production.
To get some indication of the likely impact of a price on emissions upon the competitiveness of the agriculture industry, a direct comparison was made of the emissions intensity of this industry across a number of countries (see Figure 7.18). Note: Production is largely composed of sales revenue but also includes production for own final use.
Australia’s agriculture industry has the second highest emissions intensity of the countries considered and is more than twice the average.
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2007, Australian System of National Accounts, 2006–07, cat. OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) 2008, National Accounts of OECD Countries, Volume IIa, 1995–2006, Detailed Tables, OECD, Paris. UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) 2005, Key GHG Data, UNFCCC, Bonn. JoNovaA science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages). In the six months to June, just $40 million was invested in large-scale renewable energy, such as wind farms, the lowest level since the first half of 2001, according to Kobad Bhavnagri, head of BNEF’s Australian unit.
Elsewhere investment in renewables has slowed from its peak in 2011 but still running at $64b a quarter, or nearly $700 million every day.
The photo chosen for the story on the poor plight of 24,000 not-very-useful workers subsidized by the taxpayer is this sunset shot of wind-turbines, where the turbines are almost the same color as the sky behind them. The ABC could’ve chosen to use the EIA graph instead, but you need to visit an unfunded blogger to get that sort of perspective. The ABC reported the fall in Australian renewables investment as if everywhere else in the world was doing the opposite.
They didn’t mention that Europe is in the grip of a coal boom, or that Germany is cutting its renewable subsidies, as well as their RET (from 30% to 27%).
Our public funded broadcaster provides third party free advertising for the renewables industry.
The report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance says China and the US led a total renewable investment pool of $63 billion in the last three months.
DAVID MARK: What does that say Kobad Bhavnagri, that countries like the United States and China, which were the ones which were seen to be dragging the chain on action on climate and also on renewable energy are now leading the way and yet Australia has almost slowed to a halt?

KANE THORNTON: This report really tells us that there is a global race on in renewable energy. Here lies a 97 percenter, a true believer in bad science and statistics and a firm advocate of expensive unreliable energy to solve a non-problem.
The really sad thing is that 3% of the alarmists, don’t understand why they are alarmists, but they will fight to the minor inconvenience to prove how loyal they are.
Bjorn Lomborg bemoans Copenhagens folly of wanting to be the first major carbon-neutral city (whatever that really means), and the associated costs.
On past trends of growing ethanol use in cars it would take 14 years to replace all unleaded petrol presently used in Australia.
Such a reduction in both petroleum use and emissions is nowhere near enough to achieve recent APEC energy intensity targets nor to replace declining oil production  as shown in the leaked BITRE report 117, let alone a 30% decline of available net crude oil exports by 2020 as calculated by Jeff Brown at the ASPO 2011 conference. It is recommended that ethanol not be wasted on the urban motorist but rather used in farming areas as E85. NSW drivers could face more petrol price rises this year after the government bans regular unleaded fuel, pushing up demand for ethanol-blended and premium unleaded fuel, the industry has warned. To meet demand, the state’s only ethanol distiller, Manildra Group, will need to increase its production of ethanol-blended petrol to 300 megalitres by July, up from 250 megalitres last financial year, according to Ecco Consulting, an energy advisory firm. THE state government has caved in to criticism of its decision to ban regular unleaded petrol from July 1, a week after a cabinet leak revealed it had planned to proceed with the ban despite advice it would drive up petrol prices. Last Monday the Herald revealed that up to 750,000 motorists would pay more than $150 a year extra as they would be forced to use premium fuel because their cars were incompatible with E10.
This demonstrates that fuel mandates which replace petroleum based products and cost more have no chance of being implemented. In the last 12 months 2,950 ML of E10 (295 ML of ethanol) were used compared to 11,244 ML of unleaded petrol, that is 20.8% of 14,194 ML of ULP and ethanol blend.
Even this slow growth would require that every 3 years an additional ethanol plant with a capacity of 240 ML pa be built including its associated infrastructure and reliable bio mass supply, in the case of Manildra, industrial wheat. This site [Nowra] converts industrial grade wheat flour into its primary products of protein and carbohydrate.
Ethanol is commonly used in manufacturing for industries such as the Beverage, Food, Pharmaceutical, Personal Care, Ink, Industrial, Cleaning and Hygiene, Surface Coating and Explosives. So if ethanol production were to be increased then all other products would have to be increased as well and markets found for them.
This slow speed of replacement is absolutely insufficient to compensate for the decline shown in the BITRE 117 report, not to mention available crude oil net exports, estimated at 30% by 2020.
NSW consumed 2,225 ML of E10 (out of a national of 2,950 ML) in the last 12 months, at a fairly constant level over the period.
Ms Brodie said of the three Australian ethanol producers, Manildra is producing about 250 million litres a year, CSR’s Sarina distillery in Queensland produces 60 million, and the Dalby Bio-refinery, already in receivership, has capacity of about 80 million litres. E30 would – in theory – be needed by 2020 to compensate for oil export decline (petrol cars using ULP only). We can also see that E10 would reduce CO2 emissions by only 3-4% while the Federal government’s target is in the range of 5-15% by 2020. In principle, replacing oil with bio fuels may reduce emissions of cars using such fuels, but not necessarily the ultimate CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. This table by ABARES of the Australian Department of Resources shows the contribution of liquid bio fuels compared to refinery inputs and petroleum products, a tiny 8 PJ pa.  This shows how difficult it will be to replace petroleum based fuels and which timeline would be involved even if bio fuel projects would be rolled out at a much larger scale than in the past.
The large area of wood planting affects cropping and intensive pasture land to a minimal degree as planting rules dictate that the ‘rough land’ category takes up most of the planting load.
The table above gives an idea of what task is ahead if one were to use bio fuels to replace petroleum based fuels.
It is an illusion to think that E10 can in any meaningful way mitigate the impact of declining oil production and shrinking global oil exports.
This article draws from research conducted as part of the Harvard University-Rice University joint study on the Geopolitics of Natural Gas, 2014.
Australia will be a key player in the global trade in natural gas for several decades, at least. All capacity currently under construction will be completed and operational before 2020 and perhaps as early as 2017. The OGJ premium archive includes over 30,000 technical & specialty articles with statistics & leading expert analysis on the latest in the global oil & gas industry.
Market Journal – a weekly round-up of the oil and gas markets, with observations from leading analysts. If you're not an Oil & Gas Journal subscriber, start a subscription and gain access to the subscriber areas of OGJ Online now. The sector involves massive, long-lived capital items such as electricity plants, transmission lines, coal, oil and gas production facilities, pipelines, refineries, wind farms as well as a multitude of smaller facilities such as wholesale and retail distribution sites. Meeting this increased demand for energy, while moving to a low-emissions future, is a key challenge facing Australia’s future growth and living standards.
It plays a strong role in reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and helping Australia stay on track to meet its Kyoto target and beyond.
Sunlight can also provide heating or be converted to electricity using photovoltaic (solar electric) panels.
The energy from the wind can be harnessed by wind turbines and windmills to generate electricity and also to pump water.
Energy, in some form, is involved in most household activities, such as heating, cooling, cooking, lighting, transport or enjoying services or products that require energy in their supply. As a result, energy is a fundamental part of life in Australia and the energy sector is an essential component of the Australian Economy. Additionally, there are reduced costs through resource savings, increased revenue through eco-efficiencies, and reduced risks and finance costs. Emissions from the energy sector would be the main component of an expected quadrupling of emissions by 2100 without mitigation. Total emissions growth was moderated, and kept more or less within our Kyoto Protocol target, by a one-off reduction in land clearing.
The difference between Australia and other countries is a recent phenomenon: the average emissions intensity of primary energy supply for Australia and the OECD was similar in 1971. In 2006 our per capita emissions (including emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry) were 28.1 tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) per person (DCC 2008d). There are other data sources for developed countries, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and relevant national agencies.
Fugitive emissions arise during the extraction, transportation and handling of fossil fuels. In the absence of mitigation measures, energy-related emissions are expected to grow rapidly and to increase their share of the total.
Growth in emissions from the stationary energy sector is largely driven by the structure and growth of Australia’s economy, the fuel mix in electricity generation, and energy efficiency across the economy.
The estimates rely on assumptions about the amount of carbon sequestered in biomass and soils, which varies by vegetation type, geography and climate (DCC 2008d).
From 1990 to 2006, Australia’s net emissions from energy increased by about 40 per cent (114 Mt). The emissions intensity of energy is a measure of the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per unit of energy used. While this contributes to Australia’s comparatively high per capita greenhouse gas emissions due to energy use, it does not account for why they are about two-thirds higher than the OECD average.
It is about 5 per cent less energy intensive than the world average and about 8 per cent more energy intensive than the OECD average.
More than 40 per cent of Australia’s total primary energy supply is derived from coal. The electricity generation, transport and manufacturing sectors account for nearly 90 per cent of primary energy consumption. The difference is due to the high emissions intensity of electricity generated in Australia. They do not include emissions arising from the generation of electricity used by public transport (trams and electric trains) or from fuel sold to ships or aircraft engaged in international transport (DCC 2008b). The transport energy intensity of an economy is a measure of the amount of transport energy used per unit of economic activity generated.
Among OECD countries there is less than 10 per cent variation between the country whose transport energy is most emissions intensive and that which is least emissions intensive.
The five OECD countries that consume more transport energy per unit of GDP generated are Canada, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States. The world average estimate is derived from UNFCCC data on agricultural emissions of developing countries, some of which are as old as 1990.

About 34 per cent of OECD countries’ agricultural emissions are due to livestock emissions. Management of existing forests for ecosystem services, rather than simply for fibre production, would significantly reduce emissions from degradation and deforestation. Australia has relatively large areas of forested land suitable for carbon removal and deforested land suitable for revegetation. The IPCC default values for temperate forests are a carbon stock of 217 tonnes carbon per hectare, 96 tonnes biomass carbon per hectare and net primary productivity of 7 tonnes carbon per hectare per year. Under Article 3.3 of the Kyoto Protocol this sequestration does not contribute to Australia meeting its Kyoto target.
Emissions due to transport have not been attributed in the same way, due to lack of suitable data. It considered data on trade, direct emissions, and indirect emissions attributable to electricity consumption.
The exceptional emissions intensity of Australian electricity generation means that inclusion of these indirect emissions would set back Australia’s performance in comparison with its OECD competitors.
Spain is retrospectively capping its renewables subsides, lopping 40% off the earnings of its largest solar operator. By contrast just $40 million was invested in renewable projects in Australia – the lowest total since 2001. No one is prepared to invest dollars and put shovels in the ground in a policy that maybe torn up all together. For a long time there’s been a perception created that Australia was really leading the pack and that the rest of the world in particular China and the US were going slower and we were putting our neck out in front. Nor would it be in line with Australia’s overall objective to reduce emissions by between 5-15% by 2020.
When developing bio fuels, the focus should be on bio-diesel to run farming machinery and trucks so that food production is less dependent on oil. The total saving in ULP would then be just 10% of current ULP consumption, achieved over a period of 20 years starting in 2005, the beginning of peak oil. The national decline since Dec 2010 was mostly caused by decreasing sales in Queensland and Victoria. If regular unleaded were to be replaced by E10, this would mean almost a doubling of E10 supplies by July 2012 or an increase of 222 ML pa ethanol to 415 ML pa. BusinessDay understands that 350 million litres would be required for all NSW service stations to meet the 6 per cent mandate. This is because any petroleum based fuel “saved” will be burnt somewhere else and will end up as CO2 in the atmosphere.
The total land stock required for wood production reaches 57 million hectares by 2051 or 39 million hectares if improved transport technologies are assumed.
Large areas of trees increase the national evapotranspiration, and reduce national runoff by 3,500 to 7,000 GL per year in 2051 compared to the base case.
In the contrary, motorists may get the impression – once they have accepted E10 – that bio fuels will allow them to continue with current driving habits. This influence is based on projects already operating or under construction and does not rely on speculation regarding possible future project development. We supply 8 per cent of the world trade for liquefied natural gas, and possess 40 per cent of the world’s low-cost uranium reserves. Australian Government support for renewable energy assists industry development, reduces barriers to the national electricity market, and provides community access to renewable energy.
Renewable energy is obtained from sources that are essentially inexhaustible, unlike fossil fuels, of which there is a finite supply and cannot be replenished. Renewable energy also minimizes pollution and positively impacts the environment in many ways, thus companies who choose to use renewable energy enhance their reputational capital and hence are considered to be socially responsible corporate citizens. Australia’s per capita agricultural emissions are among the highest in the world, especially because of the large numbers of sheep and cattle. Only five countries in the world rank higher—Bahrain, Bolivia, Brunei, Kuwait and Qatar.
For emissions data, UNFCCC (2008); for population data, Population Reference Bureau (2008). Over the same period there was a substantial reduction (about 71 per cent) in emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry.
Industrial process emissions are from production of metals, minerals, chemicals, pulp and paper, and food and beverages. Reductions in the rate of forest cover removal since 1990 have been the main source of the reduction in land-use-related emissions. Coal comprises about 79 per cent of primary energy supply in the electricity generation sector. The residential sector accounts for about 57 per cent of Australia’s transport emissions. The emissions intensity of transport energy is a measure of the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per unit of transport energy used. This statistical outcome is affected by the exclusion from the data of electricity used for transport.
This figure is even higher in the countries with the highest per capita emissions from agricultural production—64 per cent for New Zealand, 49 per cent for Ireland and 66 per cent for Australia. New Zealand, Ireland and Australia produce about 132, 18 and 29 kilograms respectively of sheep meat per person per year, compared with OECD and world averages of about 2 kilograms and 1 kilogram respectively.
There are about 28.8 hectares of forest and wooded land for every person in Australia (FAO 2008).
It would also bring risks, especially, as would be required in logic, if all emissions arising from fires and the effects of drought are covered. Industry accounts for about 82 per cent of Australia’s total emissions, with the remainder attributable to the residential sector.
If this were too high, the analysis that follows would overestimate the additional costs accruing to energy-intensive industries as a result of a price being placed on emissions.
This result reflects the large contribution that sheep and cattle production make to Australia’s agricultural production. There were public protests about electricity prices in Bulgaria that were so bad, the government is demanding some subsides get paid back!
E30 by 2020 would require a capacity of 11,385 * 0.3 = 3,415 ML of ethanol or the equivalent of 10 additional Nowra type plants. A reduction in emissions in a particular country, however, is of an advantage as future compensation claims will be based on cumulative emissions in each country or by each originator. What’s worse, the government’s current bio fuels strategy is used in environmental impact studies of tollways, creating the false perception that there can be a transport fuel revolution. Energy projects can affect Australia’s air and water quality, biodiversity, noise levels and heritage, and must be sensitively managed. The sun’s energy (light, heat, ultraviolet) can also be converted into heat using solar thermal (heating) panels.
The transport sector is dominated by oil, which contributes more than 97 per cent of primary energy consumed.
This is the largest area of forest and wooded land per person in the OECD and the second largest globally behind Suriname. The agriculture, mining and manufacturing industries are responsible for large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions relative to their shares of GDP. Such an E10 strategy would require that every 3 years an additional ethanol plant with a capacity of 240 ML be built including associated infrastructure and a reliable source of biomass, independent of extreme weather events like drought and floods, not to mention climate change. In the manufacturing sector primary energy supply is composed of coal (27 per cent), oil (32 per cent), natural gas (34 per cent) and biomass (7 per cent). The average net primary productivity of these forests is 12 tonnes carbon per hectare per year (with a standard deviation of 1.8).
A green carbon account of Australia’s south-eastern eucalypt forests, and policy implications, Australian National University, Canberra. The end result of such a strategy would be that just 10% of ULP is “saved” and CO2 emissions reduced by 3-4%. This estimate is premised on several key assumptions, including cessation of logging and controlled burning over the 14.5 million hectare study area.

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