Measuring ACT electricity emissions

ACT electricity users can now calculate the impact of the 100% renewable energy target on their emissions from electricity with ACT‑specific emissions factors. The ACT’s 100% renewable energy target by 2020 will significantly reduce emissions from electricity.

To date, the ACT has used an emissions factor produced by the Australian Government, which accounts for the ACT as a part of New South Wales. However the ACT requires its own electricity emissions factor if the impact of the 100% renewable energy target is to be effectively accounted for. This ensures Canberran’s see the emissions reductions associated with the renewable energy they are supporting.

More information: Emissions factor projection report

What is an emissions factor?

An emissions factor is a value used to represent the amount of emissions an activity, such as the use of electricity, consumes on a per unit level. It is calculated by quantifying the greenhouse gas emissions associated with consuming a unit of energy as a product of how that energy was produced. Emissions factors for electricity can differ significantly between states and territories in Australia, depending on the sources of electricity used. Renewables have a very small to no value, while electricity from coal is on the higher end of the scale.

How is the ACT electricity emissions factor calculated?

Emission factors are calculated by aggregating the carbon emission outputs of each electricity generator per unit (kilowatt) of electricity produced. The final number is an average of all the generators based on their proportionate input to the national electricity grid.

The ACT electricity emissions factor doesn’t just use the aggregate input to the grid, but instead includes the specific renewable energy owned by Canberran’s. This reflects the delivery of renewable power plants under the ACT wind and solar auctions, local GreenPower purchases, the small and medium scale feed-in tariffs and the ACT’s share of national renewable electricity generation in the National Electricity Market (for example, generation under the Snowy Hydro Scheme). As the proportion of renewable energy share of supply increases, the emissions factor for the ACT decreases (as less coal is calculated in the total).

Growth of ACT renewable electricity. This graph demonstrates the projected growth of renewable electricity in the ACT. Renewable electricity generation begins at 389 GWh in 2010-11, grows slowly to 2015/16 (624.8 GWh) before rapidly rising to 2019-20 (2,759 GWh).

The above graph reflects the 90% renewable energy target, with a new model for the 100% target to be produced early 2017. The ACT emissions factor is projected forward 10 years and is updated by the ACT Government each year.