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Reduced emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector

 

In its 2012 review of the Renewable Energy Target, the Climate Change Authority cited recent estimates that the Renewable Energy Target had reduced Australia’s emissions by approximately 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent between 2001 and 2012, an achievement that contributed to Australia meeting its emissions reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol.3 The Climate Change Authority modelling estimated a total decrease in emissions from the stationary energy sector for the period from 2012–13 to 2020–21 of around 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This is in comparison to a scenario where the Renewable Energy Target is not in operation.4

In its report State of the Energy Market 2013, the Australian Energy Regulator observed a decline in electricity demand from the National Energy Market over recent years, driven to a significant extent by the growth in small-scale solar panel installations and the improved competitiveness of large-scale wind generation under the Renewable Energy Target, among other factors.5 The decline in demand has contributed to a decline in emissions. At the end of 2013, electricity emissions from the National Electricity Market were approximately 17 per cent lower than at the end of 2008.6

People installing solar cells

Case study: Achieving utility-scale solar electricity generation

The Greenough River Solar Farm in Geraldton, Western Australia, is currently the largest accredited solar photovoltaic power station in Australia. Commissioned in 2012, the solar farm was developed as a joint venture between Synergy and GE Energy Financial.

The solar farm consists of 150,000 solar photovoltaic panels that cover 50 hectares of land. The power station has an installed capacity of 10 megawatts, which is the first stage of a proposed 40 megawatt solar farm.

The electricity generated by the solar farm is purchased by the Water Corporation of Western Australia to meet the electricity requirements of the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant7, making it the first utility-scale solar farm in Australia. The construction of the power station has generated regional employment opportunities and contributed to the development of the local economy.

The solar farm was accredited as a renewable energy power station under the Renewable Energy Target, as it uses an ecologically sustainable energy source to generate electricity. Since its accreditation, the power station has validly created approximately 34,000 large-scale generation certificates for renewable electricity generation, valued at approximately $1.2 million.8

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