Energy in Australia

Energy in Australia is the production in Australia of energy and electricity, for consumption or export. Energy policy of Australia describes the politics of Australia as it relates to energy.

Australia is a net energy exporter, and was the fourth-highest coal producer in the world in 2009.

Historically–and until recent times–energy in Australia was sourced largely from coal and natural gas,[1] but due to the increasing effects of global warming and human-induced climate change on the global environment, there has been a shift towards renewable energy such as solar power and wind power both in Australia and abroad.[2][3] This in turn has led to a decrease in the demand for coal worldwide.[4]


Prim. energy
2004 20.2 1,347 3,044 1,672 224.9 354.4
2007 21.1 1,443 3,364 1,818 237.1 396.3
2008 21.5 1,513 3,514 1,942 240.4 397.5
2009 22.1 1,524 3,613 2,012 244 395
2010 22.5 1,451 3,613 2,159 227.0 383.5
2012 22.8 1,429 3,451 2,089 239.3 396.8
2012R 23.1 1,492 3,691 2,172 236.3 386.3
2013 23.3 1,502 4,000 2,439 234.3 389.7
Change 2004-10 11.6% 7.8% 18.7% 29.1% 0.9% 8.2%
Mtoe = 11.63 TWh, Prim. energy includes energy losses.

2012R = CO2 calculation criteria changed, numbers updated

In 2009, Australia had the highest per capita CO2 emissions in the world. At that time, Maplecroft's CO2 Energy Emissions Index (CEEI) showed that Australia releases 20.58 tons of CO2 per person per year, more than any other country.[5] Since that time, however, emissions have been reduced. From 1990 to 2017, emissions per capita fell by one-third, with most of that drop occurring in the more recent years. Additionally, the emissions intensity of the economy fell by 58.4 percent during the same time period. These are the lowest values in 27 years.[6]

The energy sector in Australia increased its carbon dioxide emissions by 8.2% from 2004 to 2010 on average.



According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global coal production increased 23% from 2005 to 2010 and 4.7% from 2009 to 2010. In Australia, coal production increased 12.9% between 2005 and 2010 and 5.3% between 2009 and 2010.[7]

In 2009, Australia was the fourth-highest coal producer in the world, producing 335 megatonnes (Mt) of anthracite (black coal) and 64 Mt of lignite (brown coal).[8] Australia was the biggest anthracite exporter, with 31% of global exports (262 Mt out of 836 Mt total). Lignite is not exported. 78% of its 2009 anthracite production was exported (262 Mt out of 335 Mt total). In this respect, Australia is an exception to most anthracite exporters. Australia's global anthracite export share was 14% of all production (836 Mt out of 5,990 Mt total).[9]

In 2015, Australia was the biggest net exporter of coal, with 33% of global exports (392 Mt out of 1,193 Mt total). It was still the fourth-highest anthracite producer with 6.6% of global production (509 Mt out of 7,709 Mt total). 77% of production was exported (392 Mt out of 509 Mt total).[10][11]

Newcastle, New South Wales, is the world’s largest coal-export port. The Hunter Valley region in New South Wales is the chief coal region. Most coal mining in Australia is open cut.


Australia's oil production peaked in 2000, after gradually increasing since 1980.[12] Net oil imports rose from 7% of total consumption in 2000 to 39% in 2006. Decreasing domestic oil production is the result of the decline of oil-producing basins and few new fields going online.[12]

Natural gas

Proportion of national total of natural gas reserves, 2008
Natural-gas pipeline in Western Australia, 2004

Australia's natural-gas reserves are an estimated 3,921 billion cubic metres (bcm), of which 20% are considered commercially proven (783 bcm). The gas basins with the largest recoverable reserves are the Carnarvon and Browse basins in Western Australia; the Bonaparte Basin in the Northern Territory; the Gippsland and Otway basins in Victoria and the Cooper-Eromanga basin in South Australia and Queensland. In 2014–2015 Australia produced 66 bcm of natural gas, of which approximately 80% was produced in Western Australia and Queensland regions.[13] Australia also produces LNG; LNG exports in 2004 were 7.9 Mt (10.7 bcm), 6% of world LNG trade.[14] Australia also has large deposits of coal seam methane (CSM), most of which are located in the anthracite deposits of Queensland and New South Wales.[14]

On 19 August 2009, Chinese petroleum company PetroChina signed a A$50 billion deal with American multinational petroleum company ExxonMobil to purchase liquefied natural gas from the Gorgon field in Western Australia,[15][16] the largest contract signed to date between China and Australia. It ensures China a steady supply of LPG fuel for 20 years, forming China's largest supply of relatively clean energy.[17][18] The agreement was reached despite relations between Australia and China being at their lowest point in years after the Rio Tinto espionage case and the granting of an Australian visa to Rebiya Kadeer.[19]

Oil shale

Australia's oil shale resources are estimated at about 58 billion barrels, or 4,531 million tonnes of shale oil. The deposits are located in the eastern and southern states, with the greatest feasibility in the eastern Queensland deposits. Between 1862 and 1952, Australia mined four million tonnes of oil shale. The mining stopped when government support ceased. Since the 1970s, oil companies have been exploring possible reserves. From 2000 to 2004, the Stuart Oil Shale Project near Gladstone, Queensland produced over 1.5 million barrels of oil. The facility, in operable condition, is on care and maintenance and its operator (Queensland Energy Resources) is conducting research and design studies for the next phase of its oil-shale operations.[20] A campaign by environmentalists opposed to the exploitation of oil-shale reserves may also have been a factor in its closure.[21]


Since 2005, wind power and rooftop solar have led to an increasing share of renewable energy in total electricity generation.[22]

Overview of Energy Supply in the National Electricity Market[22]
Coal Gas Hydro Wind Solar
2009-10 58% (81%) 21% (10%) 16% (6%) 3% (2%) -
2010-11 56% (78%) 21% (12%) 16% (8%) 4% (3%) -
2011-12 57% (79%) 21% (11%) 16% (7%) 4% (3%) 3% (0.9%)
2012-13 55% (75%) 20% (12%) 17% (9%) 5.4% (3.4%) 5.6% (1.3%)
2013-14 53% (74%) 21% (12%) 16% (9%) 6.3% (4.4%) 6.4% (2%)
2014-15 54% (76%) 20% (12%) 16% (7%) 6.6% (4.9%) 8% (2.7%)
2016-17 52% (76%) 19.5% (8.8%) 17% (10%) 7.5% (6.1%) 9% (3%)
2017-18 41% (73%) 21.3% (9.5%) 14.3% (7.4%) 9.1% (6.3%) 12% (3.7%)
Registered Capacity (Supply Output)

Due to its large size and the location of its population, Australia lacks a single grid.[23]

Electricity supply

As of 2011, electricity producers in Australia were not building gas-fired power stations,[24] while the four major banks were unwilling to make loans for coal-fired power stations, according to EnergyAustralia (formerly TRUenergy).[25] In 2014, an oversupply of generation was expected to persist until 2024.[26] However, a report published in 2017 by the Australian Energy Market Operator projected that energy supply in 2018 and 2019 is expected to meet demands, with a risk of supply falling short at peak demand times.[27]

From 2003 to 2013 real electric prices for households increased by an average of 72%. Much of this increase in price has been attributed to over-investment in increasing distribution networks and capacity, and environmental policy impacts. Further price increases are predicted to be moderate over the next few years (2017 on) due to changes in the regulation of transmission and distribution networks as well as increased competition in electricity wholesale markets as supply and demand merge.[28]

Renewable energy

Renewable energy has potential in Australia, and the Climate Change Authority is reviewing the 20-percent Renewable Energy Target (RET). The production of 50 megawatts of wind power (power for nearly 21,000 homes annually) creates about 50 construction jobs and five staff positions.[29][30] In recent years, wind and solar power have been the fastest growing source of energy in Australia[31].

Energy efficiency

Lower energy use could save A$25 billion, or A$840 per electricity customer, according to EnergyAustralia.[32]

Climate change

Graph of Australian temperature variability.

Australian total emissions in 2007 were 396 million tonnes of CO2. That year, the country was among the top polluter nations of the world per capita. Australian per-capita emissions of carbon dioxide in 2007 were 18.8 tons of CO2, compared to the EU average of 7.9 tons. The change in emissions from 1990 to 2007 was +52.5 percent, compared to the EU's -3.3 percent.[33] The per-capita carbon footprint in Australia was rated 12th in the world by PNAS in 2011.[34]

Due to climate change, Australia is expected to experience harsher extreme weather events, mainly bush-fires and floods during summer.[35] Rising sea levels are of particular concern for Australia, because most of the population lives in the coast (around 85%).[36]


Total employment in the electricity-supply industry (thousands of people) since 1984
Australian Census 2011 demographic map - Australia by SLA - BCP field 7364 Electricity gas water and waste services Total
Adults employed in the electricity, gas, water, and waste services industries as a percentage of the adult population in Australia divided geographically by statistical local area, as of the 2011 census

When analysing employment data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics classifies the electricity and gas supply industry as part of the Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services Division.[37] That division is the smallest industry in Australia in terms of employment.[38]

In November 2017, the number of people employed in electricity supply, which includes electricity generation, transmission and distribution, was 64,200 (47,700 males, 16,600 females). [39] The number of people employed in gas supply was 11,200 (9,000 males, 2,200 females).[39] The total number of persons employed in electricity and gas supply industries was 75,400.[39] This represents about 0.67 per cent of all employed persons in Australia.[a]

In 2016, the major occupations in this Division were truck drivers (9,900), electricians (7,700), electrical distribution trades workers (5,400), and electrical engineers (4,400).[40][a]

Employment in renewable energy activities

In 2015–16, annual direct full-time equivalent employment in renewable energy in Australia was estimated at 11,150. Employment in renewables peaked in 2011–12, probably due to the employment of construction workers to build renewable energy facilities. However, it decreased by 36 per cent in 2014–15, and by a further 16 per cent in 2015–16. The decline is attributed to a decrease in the number of roof-top solar photovoltaic systems being installed on houses. Once construction of renewable energy facilities is completed, and only ongoing maintenance is required, employment falls quite significantly.[41]

For most Australian states and territories the major contributor to employment in renewable energy is solar power. Employment in roof-top solar photovoltaic systems, including solar hot water systems, comprised half of all employment in renewable energy in 2015–16. Employment in large scale solar and wind power is driven primarily by installation activity, rather than ongoing operation and maintenance.[41].

In Western Australia, 93 per cent of all jobs in renewable energy are in solar power. The proportion of employment in biomass is significantly greater in Queensland (42 per cent), where the sugar industry makes great use of sugar cane to generate electricity for sugar milling and to feed into the grid. Most jobs in Tasmania’s renewable energy industry are in hydropower (87 per cent).[41]

Jobs in the renewable energy industry are forecast to grow substantially by 2030, driven by growth in electricity demand and new renewable energy capacity.[42]:16 Conversely, jobs associated with coal-fired power stations are forecast to decline as those plants age and close. Such job losses would disproportionately affect some regional areas, such as the Latrobe Valley in Victoria, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Gladstone and Rockhampton in Queensland, and Collie in Western Australia. However, it is expected that the number of jobs created in renewable energy will far exceed the number of jobs lost in coal-based generation.[42]:35

Energy policy of Australia

Finkel Report

In June 2017 Alan Finkel released The Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market (commonly referred to as the Finkel Report), which proposed an approach to increasing energy security and reliability through four outcomes. These would be: increased security, future reliability, rewarding consumers, and lower emissions. The report ultimately recommended a Clean Energy Target (CET) to provide incentives for growth in renewable energies.[43]

The reaction to the report by scientific experts in the field leaned more towards positive. Positive reactions to the Report were due to the national strategy plan that provides a CET for Australia, creating customer incentives, and takes politics out of energy policy to help meet the Paris Agreement. Additionally, the Finkel Report was commended for recognizing the current technologies available and including market forces in its solutions by the Australian Academy of Technology Engineering.[44]

National Energy Guarantee

On 17 October 2017, the Australian Government rejected Finkel's CET proposal, in favour of what it called the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), to reduce power prices and prevent blackouts. The strategy calls on electricity retailers to meet separate reliability and emissions requirements, rather than Dr Finkel’s CET recommendation. Under the plan, retailers will have to provide a minimum amount of baseload power from coal, gas or hydro, while also providing a specified level of low emissions energy.[45] NEG has been criticised as turning away from renewable energy.[46]

See also


  1. ^ a b These figures are rounded to the nearest 100 persons


  1. ^ "Australia Country Analysis Brief". 2002. Archived from the original on 2 April 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  2. ^ "New Zealand says goodbye to coal power". 7 August 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  3. ^ "China starts moving away from coal based energy". 13 September 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  4. ^ Diessendorf, Mark (5 July 2015). "Say goodbye to coal power in Australia". The Age. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  5. ^ "The World's Biggest Polluters". The New Ecologist. 15 October 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  6. ^ Energy, Department of the Environment and (26 July 2017). "Department of the Environment and Energy". Department of the Environment and Energy. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  7. ^ IEA Key World Energy Statistics 2011 October 2011
  8. ^ IEA Key energy statistics 2010 Pages: 15
  9. ^ IEA Key energy statistics 2010 Pages:15
  10. ^ IEA Key World Energy Statistics 2016 (PDF). International Energy Agency. 2016. p. 15.
  11. ^ "Key Coal Trends. Excerpt from: Coal information" (PDF). Information Energy Agency (IEA). 1 January 2016. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  12. ^ a b Australia: Energy profile Archived 1 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine 26 June 2007, Energy Publisher accessdate 3 July 2011
  13. ^ "Australian Energy Statistics".
  14. ^ a b OECD/IEA, p. 131-137
  15. ^ Stephen McDonell, 19 August 2009, Record gas deal between China and Australia – AM – Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  16. ^ Babs McHugh, 19 August 2009, Massive sale from Gorgon Gas Project – Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  17. ^ David McLennan, 20 August 2009, Australia to be 'global supplier of clean energy' – The Canberra Times
  18. ^ 20 August 2009, CNPC to import 2.25m tons of LNG annually from Australia – ChinaDaily (Source: Xinhua)
  19. ^ Peter Ryan, 19 August 2009, Deal means 2.2 million tonnes exported per year – AM – Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  20. ^ Shale oil. AIMR Report 2006 Geoscience Australia, accessdate=30 May 2007 [1] archivedate 13 February 2007
  21. ^ Climate-changing shale oil industry stopped Greenpeace Australia Pacific, 3 March 2005, accessdate 28 June 2007
  22. ^ a b "State of the energy market, May 2017 | Australian Energy Regulator". Retrieved 11 July 2017. Comparable to previous years statistical calculation criteria, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010
  23. ^
  24. ^ (22 May 2011).Carbon tax is delaying investment: McIndoe. Inside Business. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved on 12 March 2012.
  25. ^ Royce Millar & Adam Morton (21 May 2011). Big banks 'no' to coal plant. The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved on 12 March 2012.
  26. ^ Mark, David (8 August 2014). "Australia faces unprecedented oversupply of energy, no new energy generation needed for 10 years: report". ABC. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  27. ^ "Energy Supply Outlook" (PDF). AEMO. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  28. ^ Swoboda, Kai. "Energy prices—the story behind rising costs". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  29. ^ scheme (2012).Energy Council
  30. ^ Wind Farm Investment, Employment and Carbon Abatement in Australia
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Australia's largest solar farm opens amid renewable target debate". The Guardian. 10 October 2012. The Greenough River Solar project in Western Australia is expected to have enough capacity to power 3,000 homes.
  33. ^ Energy in Sweden 2010 Archived 16 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Table 1: Emissions of carbon dioxide in total, per capita and per GDP in EU and OECD countries, 2007
  34. ^ Which nations are really responsible for climate change - interactive map The Guardian 8 December 2011 (All goods and services consumed, source: Peters et al PNAS, 2011)
  35. ^ Head, Lesley; Adams, Michael; McGregor, Helen V.; Toole, Stephanie (1 March 2014). "Climate change and Australia". Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change. 5 (2): 175–197. doi:10.1002/wcc.255. ISSN 1757-7799.
  36. ^ Energy, Department of the Environment and (2 June 2014). "Department of the Environment and Energy". Department of the Environment and Energy. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  37. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics; Statistics New Zealand (2006). Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification 2006 (ANZSIC) (PDF) (Report). Australian Bureau of Statistics. p. 200.
  38. ^ "Electricity, Gas, Water, Waste Services". Job Outlook. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  39. ^ a b c Australian Bureau of Statistics (2017). 6291.0.55.003 - Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, Nov 2017, Table 06. Employed persons by Industry sub-division of main job (ANZSIC) and Sex (Report). Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  40. ^ Department of Employment, Australian Government (2016). 4. Main Employing Occupations (Report). Department of Employment, Australian Government.
  41. ^ a b c Australian Bureau of Statistics (2017). 4631.0 - Employment in Renewable Energy Activities, Australia, 2015-16 (Report). Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  42. ^ a b Climate Council of Australia (2016). Renewable Energy Jobs: Future Growth in Australia (PDF). Climate Council of Australia. ISBN 978-0-9945973-3-5.
  43. ^ Finkel, Alan. "Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market" (PDF). Department of the Environment and Energy. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  44. ^ SCIMEX (9 June 2017). "EXPERT REACTION: Finkel Report - Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market". Scimex. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  45. ^ Government ditches chief scientist’s energy plan, but Alan Finkel backs the new one
  46. ^ "Australia rejects chief scientist's clean energy proposal". BBC. 17 October 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
Anti-nuclear movement in Australia

Nuclear weapons testing, uranium mining and export, and nuclear power have often been the subject of public debate in Australia, and the anti-nuclear movement in Australia has a long history. Its origins date back to the 1972–73 debate over French nuclear testing in the Pacific and the 1976–77 debate about uranium mining in Australia.Several groups specifically concerned with nuclear issues were established in the mid-1970s, including the Movement Against Uranium Mining and Campaign Against Nuclear Energy (CANE), cooperating with other environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and the Australian Conservation Foundation. The movement suffered a setback in 1983 when the newly elected Labor Government failed to implement its stated policy of stopping uranium mining. But by the late 1980s, the price of uranium had fallen, the costs of nuclear power had risen, and the anti-nuclear movement seemed to have won its case; CANE was disbanded in 1988.About 2003, proponents of nuclear power advocated it as a solution to global warming and the Australian government began taking an interest. Anti-nuclear campaigners and some scientists in Australia argued that nuclear power could not significantly substitute for other power sources, and that uranium mining itself could become a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.As of 2015, Australia has no nuclear power stations and five uranium mines, four of which are located in South Australia. Olympic Dam (Roxby Downs) is a large underground mine, Beverley, Four Mile and Honeymoon are in-situ leach mines and Ranger in an open pit mine in the Northern Territory. Uranium mined in Australia is mainly for export. Australia has no nuclear weapons or nuclear-powered vessels.

Australian Atomic Energy Commission

The Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC) was a statutory body of the Australian government.

It was established in 1952, replacing the Atomic Energy Policy Committee. In 1981 parts of the Commission were split off to become part of CSIRO, the remainder continuing until 1987, when it was replaced by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). The Commission head office was in the heritage-listed house Cliffbrook in Coogee, Sydney, New South Wales, while its main facilities were at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Lucas Heights, to the south of Sydney, established in 1958.

Highlights of the Commission's history included:

Major roles in the establishment of the IAEA and the system of international safeguards.

The construction of the HIFAR and MOATA research reactors at Lucas Heights.

The selection of the preferred tender for the construction of the proposed Jervis Bay Nuclear Power Plant.

The Ranger Uranium Mine joint venture.Other significant facilities constructed by the Commission at Lucas Heights included a 3MeV Van de Graaff particle accelerator, installed in 1964 to provide proton beams and now upgraded to become ANTARES, a smaller 1.3MeV betatron, and radioisotope production and remote handling facilities associated with HIFAR reactor.

Significant research work included:


Neutron diffraction.

Sodium coolant systems.

Use of beryllium as a neutron moderator.

Movement of spheres in a closed-packed lattice.

Gas centrifuge development.

Health physics.

Environmental science.

Development of synroc.

Molecular laser isotope separation and support of laser development for atomic vapor laser isotope separation.

Australian Energy Regulator

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is the regulator of the wholesale electricity and gas markets in Australia. It is part of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and enforces the rules established by the Australian Energy Market Commission.

The AER was established in July 2005. The next year all 13 bodies previously responsible for energy regulation had transferred responsibility to the AER. Decisions made by the regulator are subject to appeal.

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) is a statutory body of the Australian government, formed in 1987 to replace the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Its head office and main facilities are in southern outskirts of Sydney at Lucas Heights, in the Sutherland Shire.

Australian Uranium Association

The Australian Uranium Association was an Australian industry trade group which represented companies involved in uranium exploration, mining and export. It operated from September 2006 until 2013, after which its responsibilities were absorbed by the Minerals Council of Australia.

Biofuel in Australia

Biofuel is fuel that is produced from organic matter (biomass), including plant materials and animal waste. It is considered a renewable source of energy that can assist in reducing carbon emissions. The two main types of biofuel currently being produced in Australia are biodiesel and bioethanol, used as replacements for diesel and petrol (gasoline) respectively. As of 2017 Australia is a relatively small producer of biofuels, accounting for 0.2% of world bioethanol production and 0.1% of world biodiesel production.In 2016-17, biofuels contributed only 0.5% of the total liquid and gaseous transport fuel energy mix in Australia.Total commercial biofuel production for 2018 is estimated at 290 million liters (ML): 250ML of ethanol and 40ML of biodiesel.This article mainly deals with biofuels for personal vehicles, though cooking, heating and electricity generation can also use biofuel. Historically in Australia cooking and home heating have been accomplished by burning wood, a biofuel. 909,000 households in Australia still used firewood as their main heating method in 2005, with a further 300,000 using firewood occasionally.

Campaign Against Nuclear Energy

The Campaign Against Nuclear Energy (CANE) was established in Perth, Western Australia on 14 February 1976 by Friends of the Earth (FOE); this included: Peter Brotherton, FOE coordinator WA and John Carlin, Mike Thomas and Barrie Machin after a meeting at University of WA. CANE was a non-profit grass roots organisation whose aim was to stop the establishment of a nuclear power plant in Western Australia (WA) and to halt uranium mining and it operated out of the Environment Centre in Wellington Street, Perth. The Whitlam Federal government in 1974 had dedicated about A$7,000 per state to set up Regional Environment Centres. Perth's Environment Centre housed other groups including the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Conservation Council of WA, Friends of the Earth, and the Campaign to Save Native Forests.

A CANE group was also established in Adelaide, South Australia.

Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU, though most commonly still referred to as CFMEU) is Australia's main trade union in construction, forestry, maritime, mining, energy, textile, clothing and footwear production. The CFMMEU is affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, with the Australian Labor Party and with the World Federation of Trade Unions.

The CFMMEU has offices in all capital cities in Australia and in many major regional centres with the national office of the union being in Melbourne. Before the 2018 merger, the CFMEU had an estimated 120,000 members and employed around 400 full-time staff and officials.In March 2018, a two-year long process ended resulting in a merger between the old CFMEU, the Maritime Union of Australia and the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia. The new CFMMEU had a membership of approximately 144,000, 1% of the Australian workforce, with combined assets of $310 million and annual revenue of approximately $146 million. It is the second biggest union by membership in Australia.

Department of the Environment and Energy

The Department of the Environment and Energy is an Australian government department.

The Department is responsible for matters including environment protection and conservation of biodiversity as well as energy policy. It was established in July 2016 by the Turnbull Government after the 2016 federal election.

Following the appointment of Scott Morrison as Prime Minister, Josh Frydenberg was elevated to Treasurer of Australia, whereby Frydenberg's previous ministerial positions were separated, with Melissa Price as Minister of the Environment and Angus Taylor as Minister for Energy.

Fuel taxes in Australia

The main fuel tax in Australia is an excise tax, to which is added a Goods and Services Tax ("GST"). Both taxes are levied by the federal government. In Australia, like Canada, the GST (in Australia's case of 10%) is applied on top of the fuel excise tax. In some cases, businesses may be entitled to exemptions or rebates for fuel excise tax, including tax credits and certain excise-free fuel sources.

The "double dipping" (GST imposed on the excise tax) was fully compensated for by lowering the excise at the time the GST was introduced in 2001. While the excise stopped being indexed for inflation in 2001, it was reintroduced in 2014 (see History below).

The tax collected is partly used to fund national road infrastructure projects and repair roads, but most of it (approximately 75%) goes into general revenue.

Geothermal power in Australia

Geothermal power in Australia is little used but growing. There are known and potential locations near the centre of the country that have been shown to contain hot granites at depth which hold good potential for development of geothermal energy. Exploratory geothermal wells have been drilled to test for the presence of high temperature geothermal reservoir rocks and such hot granites were detected. As a result, projects will eventuate in the coming years and more exploration is expected to find new locations.

Green electricity in Australia

Green electricity in Australia is available from a number of green energy suppliers that supply electricity from environmentally friendly energy sources that are renewable and non-polluting. The growth and development of the green energy industry was tracked in Australia by the ALTEX-Australia alternative energy index from 2006 to 2011.

In Australia green energy is accredited under the GreenPower scheme whereby all distributors are government audited bi-annually to ensure that customers are getting exactly what is described in their purchased products. In the 2009 settlement period there were 904,716 GreenPower customers Australia-wide, accounting for a total of 2,194,934 MWh of electricity generation, a 10% increase over 2008. This total electricity provision was divided between residential customers who purchased 1,001,195 MWh, and business customers who purchased 1,193,739 MWh. The largest nationwide distributors were EnergyAustralia, Origin Energy, and TRUenergy.

By the 2014 settlement period the number of GreenPower customers Australia-wide was at 497,406, and total purchases accounted for 1,279,281 MWh.

Nuclear power in Australia

The prospect of nuclear power in Australia has been a topic of public debate since the 1950s. Australia has never had a nuclear power station. Australia hosts 33% of the world's uranium deposits and is the world's third largest producer of uranium after Kazakhstan and Canada.Australia's extensive low-cost coal and natural gas reserves have historically been used as strong arguments for avoiding nuclear power. The Liberal Party has advocated for the development of nuclear power and nuclear industries in Australia since the 1950s. An anti-nuclear movement developed in Australia in the 1970s, initially focusing on prohibiting nuclear weapons testing and limiting the development of uranium mining and export. The movement also challenged the environmental and economic costs of developing nuclear power and the possibility of fissile material being diverted in to nuclear weapons production.A resurgence of interest in nuclear power was prompted by Prime Minister John Howard in 2007 in response to the need to move to low-carbon methods of power generation in order to reduce the effects of global warming on Australia. In 2015, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill initiated a Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission to investigate the state's future role in the nuclear fuel cycle. As of 2018 there are three active uranium mines, Ranger in Northern Territory, Olympic Dam in South Australia, and Beverley with Four Mile in South Australia. The Royal Commission determined that there was no case for the introduction of nuclear power to the electricity grid in South Australia, but it did not consider its potential interstate. In its final report of May 2016, the Royal Commission recommended that prohibitions preventing the development of nuclear power plants nationally should be repealed.

In 2017, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott advocated for legislation to be changed to allow the construction of nuclear power plants in Australia. The Deputy Premier of New South Wales, John Barilaro, has also been urging for debate on the prospect of nuclear power in Australia, including the revisiting of Jervis Bay as a prospective site for a nuclear power plant. In November 2017, Senator Cory Bernardi presented the Nuclear Fuel Cycle (Facilitation) Bill 2017 in the Senate, with the intention of repealing existing prohibitions preventing the establishment of nuclear power in Australia.

Renewable energy in Australia

Renewable energy in Australia deals with efforts that have been and continue to be made in Australia to quantify and expand the use of renewable energy in the generation of electricity, as fuel in transport and in thermal energy. Renewable energy is created through electricity generation using renewable sources, such as wind, hydro, landfill gas, geothermal, solar PV and solar thermal.

There has been a substantial growth in Australia in generation of renewable electricity in the 21st century. Total renewable energy consumption in Australia in 2015 was 5.9% of Australia's total energy consumption;, compared to 4.3% of Australia's total energy consumptionn in 2011/12. It is estimated that Australia produced 35,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of renewable electricity (or equivalent) in 2015, 14.6% of total production in Australia.Of all renewable energy consumption in 2015 (in order of contribution) biomass (wood, woodwaste and bagasse) represented 53%, hydroelectricity 19.2%, wind 10.7%, solar PV 5.1%, biogas 4.7%, solar hot water 3.8% and biofuels 3.6%. Bioenergy (the sum of all energy derived from plant matter) represented 61.3% of Australia's total renewable energy consumption in 2015.Similar to many other countries, development of renewable electricity in Australia has been encouraged by government energy policy implemented in response to concerns about climate change, energy independence and economic stimulus. A key policy that has been in place since 2001 to encourage large-scale renewable energy development is a mandatory renewable energy target, which in 2010 was increased to 41,000 gigawatt-hours of renewable generation from power stations. This was subsequently reduced to 33,000 gigawatt-hours by the Abbott Government, in a compromise agreed to by the Labor opposition. Alongside this there is the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme, an uncapped scheme to support rooftop solar power and solar hot water and several State schemes providing feed-in tariffs to encourage photovoltaics. In 2012, these policies were supplemented by a carbon price and a 10 billion-dollar fund to finance renewable energy projects, although these initiatives were later withdrawn by the Abbott Federal Government.It has been suggested that with sufficient public and private sector investment and government policy certainty, Australia could switch entirely to renewable energy within a decade by building additional large-scale solar and wind power developments, upgrades to transmission infrastructure and the introduction of appropriate energy efficiency measures, together with the inevitable retirement of many ageing coal-fired power stations over the next 10 to 15 years.

Solar-powered desalination unit

A solar-powered desalination unit produces potable water from saline water through direct or indirect methods of desalination powered by sunlight. Countries such as Australia, Italy and Egypt have adopted this system as an alternative source of water for the population. Solar energy is the most promising renewable energy source due to its ability to drive the more popular thermal desalination systems directly through solar collectors and to drive physical and chemical desalination systems indirectly through photovoltaic cells.Direct solar desalination produces distillate directly in the solar collector. An example would be a solar still which traps the Sun's energy to obtain freshwater through the process of evaporation and condensation. Indirect solar desalination incorporates solar energy collection systems with conventional desalination systems such as multi-stage flash distillation, multiple effect evaporation, freeze separation or reverse osmosis to produce freshwater.

Solar power in Australia

Solar power in Australia is a growing industry. As of January 2019, Australia had over 11,085 MW of installed photovoltaic (PV) solar power, of which 3,871 MW were installed in the preceding 12 months. In 2017, 23 solar PV projects with a combined installed capacity of 2,034 MW were either under construction, constructed or due to start construction having reached financial closure. PV accounted for 3.8% of Australia's electrical energy production in 2017.Feed-in tariffs and renewable energy targets designed to assist renewable energy commercialisation in Australia have largely been responsible for the rapid increase. In South Australia, a solar feed-in tariff was introduced for households and an educational program that involved installing PVs on the roofs of major public buildings such as the Adelaide Airport, State Parliament, Museum, Art Gallery and several hundred public schools. In 2018, the Queensland government introduced the Affordable Energy Plan offering interest free loans for solar panels and solar storage in an effort to increase the uptake of solar energy in the state. In 2008 Premier Mike Rann announced funding for $8 million worth of solar panels on the roof of the new Goyder Pavilion at the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds, the largest rooftop solar installation in Australia, qualifying it for official "power station" status. South Australia has the highest per capita take up of household solar power in Australia.

The installed PV capacity in Australia has increased 10-fold between 2009 and 2011, and quadrupled between 2011 and 2016.

The first commercial-scale PV power plant, the 1 MW Uterne Solar Power Station, was opened in 2011.Greenough River Solar Farm opened in 2012 with a capacity of 10 MW.

The price of photovoltaics has been decreasing, and in January 2013, was less than half the cost of using grid electricity in Australia.Australia has been internationally criticised for producing very little of its energy from solar power, despite its vast resources, extensive sunshine and overall high potential.

Solar thermal energy in Australia

Australia is well placed to harness solar thermal energy. Solar thermal energy is used in three main ways: solar hot water heating, production of steam for electricity generation and space heating through building design.

Stop CSG Party

The Stop CSG Party (Coal Seam Gas) was a registered minor political party in Australia that ran candidates in the 2013 federal election.The party has been involved in Glenn Druery's Minor Party Alliance.The party was deregistered by the Australian Electoral Commission in March 2015, after failing to respond to the AEC's notice to confirm eligibility for registration.

Wave power in Australia

Wave power in Australia is being developed as the country has a long and largely deep-water coastline. It is one of several regions of the world where wave power projects are being considered.

In early 2015 the Perth wave energy project was commissioned.

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