Carbon Conservation & Energy Efficiency


Bruce Rowse & Team

Forecast energy use in Australia to 2030 indicates that greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels will continue to increase.

April 27th, 2010 at 8:51

Last month ABARE, the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics released its Australian energy projections to 2029-30.

The blow dried picture of a wind turbine on the front page is unfortunately very misleading.

The projections take into account the likely effects of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (if it ever comes in), the Renewable Energy Target, and other measures designed to reduce Australia’s carbon footprint.

ABARE predicts that the amount of electricity generated in Australia will increase by nearly 50% on 2007-08 values, or a growth rate of 1.8 percent per year. That’s only just below our projected population growth rate of 2.1%.

Total energy consumption is projected to grow 35% (1.4% a year). Its expected that in 2029-30 coal and oil will still be supplying the bulk of Australia’s energy needs. Renewable energy is expected to supply just 8% of total energy in 2029-30.

Assuming that the emissions factors for coal, oil and natural gas are similar to what they are today (for example that 1 GJ of black coal still produces around 88.43 kg of GHG when combusted), a quick calculation shows that Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions from the use of fossil fuels are likely to be 21% higher in 2029-30 than they were in 2007-08.

The table below shows the maths, using the data in the ABARE report and emissions factors from the Department of Climate Change website.

Fossil fuel 2007-08 Consumption (PJ) 2029-30 Consumption (PJ) Emissions factor (kg CO2-e/GJ) 2007-08 GHG (Mt CO2-e) 2029-30 GHG (Mt CO2-e)












Oil (assumed to be crude oil)






Gas (assumed to be unprocessed natural gas)






TOTAL       398 483

I find this data deeply disturbing – it appears as though emissions from fossil fuels will increase from 398 million tonnes to 483 million tonnes. Climate change scientists say we need to reduce emissions. Yet Australia’s emissions from the use of fossil fuels appear to be set to increase, with measures such as the CPRS appearing tokenistic.

Which begs the questions, if the CPRS is supposed to reduce emissions by 5% by 2020, how come my calculations show that our emissions from the use of fossil fuels will be higher in 2030? Or is it expected that the emissions factors will lower for coal (for example via “clean coal” technologies)? Or will the emissions reduction come from international carbon trading? As a developed country with one of the highest per capita emissions in the world is this really the best we can do?

Energy conservation (choosing to waste less energy) and energy efficiency (using less energy to achieve the same outcome) have the potential to decrease our energy use if widely uptaken. The climate change science demands a step change in our ability to save energy if we are to avoid ABARE’s disturbing projections.

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