Coal continued to be the mainstay of east coast electricity generation in the opening quarter of the current financial year, according to a new report issued today. Even though Q3 coal-fired generation was the third-lowest since Q4 2014, coal plants still accounted for 70% of electricity generation.
The latest quarterly report by respected Australian energy economics group, EnergyQuest, shows that, while coal-fired generation was down in NSW and Queensland compared with Q3 2017, coal-fired generation actually increased in Victoria.
“Coal isn’t going away anytime soon”, commented Dr Bethune.
However, the big winners in Q3 were renewables and hydro, with record September quarter use of solar and wind for electricity generation, with hydro power at the highest in more than five years.
The Report shows that renewables for electricity generation, excluding hydro, increased by 23% quarter-on-quarter (qoq) and accounted for 13.2% of the National Energy Market (NEM) generation. Wind generation increased by 16% and solar generation was up 38.3%.
The big loser in Q3 in east coast generation was gas, which was impacted by the resilience of coal and the growth in renewables to the extent that gas generation in the September quarter was down 25% qoq to its lowest in more than two years. Gas-fired generation fell by 1.3 Terawatt hours (TWh) qoq while coal-fired generation was only down by 0.5 TWh. On average gas generators only operated at 14% of capacity.
“Gas is cleaner than coal and more reliable than wind and solar so, if it continues, this trend is bad news for both the environment and electricity reliability,” commented Dr Bethune.