Measuring ACT electricity emissions

The ACT’s target of 100% renewable electricity by 2020 will reduce emissions from electricity to zero from 2020.

This is not reflected in the National Greenhouse Accounts Factor for New South Wales and ACT grid electricity, as published in the Australian National Greenhouse Accounts, because national factors are based on where the electricity generation takes place. This means the ACT’s wind and solar projects contribute to reducing the electricity emissions factor in the state where the projects are located (Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and the ACT).

In 2017 the ACT Government commissioned an ‘Emissions factor project report’ to ensure our transition to renewable electricity is accurately reflected in reporting of emissions from electricity consumption. Canberrans can therefore see the emissions reductions associated with the renewable electricity they are supporting.

More information: 2017 Emissions factor projection report

What is an emissions factor?

An emissions factor is a value that is used to represent the greenhouse gas emissions intensity of an activity; that is, the amount of emissions an activity, such as the use of electricity, produces. Emissions factors for electricity can differ significantly between states and territories depending on the energy sources used to generate electricity (e.g. solar, wind, coal, gas or hydro). Using renewable energy sources such as wind and solar produces no emissions, while generating electricity from coal produces a large amount of emissions.

How is the ACT electricity emissions factor calculated?

The ACT electricity emissions factor takes into account the renewable energy projects owned by the ACT, even when they are located outside the ACT. 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 renewable energy share of supply increases, the emissions factor for the ACT decreases (as there is less coal and gas electricity 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).

Figure: ACT renewable electricity generation to 2020.