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Byron Shire
May 18, 2024

Carbon emissions to rise in 2013 but more slowly

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New research from carbon analytics firm RepuTex shows Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are expected to slow during 2013, with emissions to grow by just 0.4 per cent from 2012 levels on the back of reduced output from the metals sector and an increase in renewable power generation.

Australia’s emissions are forecast to be more than ten million tonnes, or three per cent lower than projected under a business-as-usual scenario without a carbon price, indicating that the government’s Carbon Price Mechanism (CPM) will play a key role in reducing Australia’s carbon footprint.

RepuTex forecasts greenhouse gas emissions across the Australian Carbon Price Mechanism via the facility-level modelling of over 750 of the country’s largest carbon-emitting plants/sites. The research shows emissions growth in 2013 to be driven by the power, energy, and mining sectors – with power emissions forecast to grow 1.2 per cent, but muted by increased renewable and gas capacity.

The power sector will remain the largest source of carbon emissions in 2013 – accounting for 59 per cent of all CPM emissions, followed by mining at 17 per cent.

‘One of the key issues facing the power sector is that rising gas prices will hamper gas generation’s ability to compete with coal,’ said RepuTex associate director of research, Bret Harper.

‘We see coal maintaining its share of Australia’s generation mix through 2016, when government assistance to brown-coal generators expires. From that point the floating carbon price is expected to provide good support to renewable generation, so we anticipate a real decline in power emissions from 2017–18.’

RepuTex forecasts black-coal generation to grow by around 20 per cent through 2020, whereas brown coal is forecast to decline nearly 17 per cent over the same period. Total coal generation is set to increase eight per cent by 2020, but with a resultant rise in emissions of only four per cent, reflecting increased usage of less carbon-intensive black coal.

Emissions from petroleum refining and gas processing – both of which face significant regional competition – will decline in 2013, by three per cent and almost nine per cent respectively as domestic output slows.

Notably, emissions from the metals sector are forecast to drop six per cent over 2013, driven by a downturn in Australia’s steel and aluminium industries, with steel emissions forecast to contract over 20 per cent from 2012 levels, in line with reduced production.

‘We’re seeing the combined impact of both carbon pricing and major sectoral changes within the Australian economy steadily shifting the country’s emissions profile,’ said Mr Harper

‘The effect of forthcoming closures such as Kurri Kurri Aluminium and Caltex’s Kurnell refinery is set to be mitigated by the number of massive new projects within the oil and gas sector.’

The five largest such developments, Browse (Woodside, 2018), Wheatstone (Chevron, 2016), Gorgon (Chevron, 2015), Australia Pacific LNG (ConocoPhillips, 2016) and Icthys (INPEX, 2017) once online will be the largest-emitting facilities in Australia’s energy sector. Between them, they are forecast to account for around 40 per cent of the entire sector’s emissions by 2020.

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