Audit Finds Australian Green Power Lagging

The Australian conservation group, World Wildlife Fund for Nature released the first independent audit of major electricity generators. The audit, ” The Power Generator’s Scorecard,” conducted by Dr. Mark Diesendorf, an energy expert, ranks Australia’s largest major fossil fuel generators, most of which are coal fired, by total greenhouse gas pollution and their environmental performance. The audit will aid discussions about Australia’s energy future in the lead up to vital energy policy discussions at the Council of Australia Government (CoAG) that starts today.

Sydney, Australia – August 29, 2003 [] The WWF audit found that: – Australia’s major electricity generators are the country’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. – 24 power stations pump out 170 million ton of carbon dioxide (CO2), which are the equivalent CO2 emissions of 40 million cars four times the current number of cars in Australia. – Australia’s electricity generation sector remains heavily dominated by coal at more than 84 percent. – The biggest single polluting power station is Loy Yang A in Victoria, which produces 17.3 Mt of CO2 (the equivalent of 4.3 million cars). The station’s owner, Loy Yang Power, scored a low “1 out of 6” under WWF’s Energy Performance Index. – Greenhouse emissions per unit of energy from Australia’s worst polluting power stations are nearly three times greater than Australia’s only large gas power station, of Torrens Island, South Australia. WWF said that while a few companies are taking action to diversify their portfolios, the majority of the generator companies are making little or no moves towards major investment in renewable energy or fuel switching. WWF produced the Power Generators Scorecard from interviews with Australia’s 15 major fossil fuel generation companies. “Australia’s energy generation sector is dominated by coal, 84 percent of our electricity is fuelled by coal, and unlike many OECD nations there is little effort being put into diversification of the power sector there are much cleaner options,” said WWF Australia CEO, David Butcher. “It is vitally important that decisions made by our governments about Australia’s energy future take into account exactly what we face unless we switch to cleaner energy. This means policies to encourage efficiency, creating and using electricity where it is needed, and harnessing renewable or cleaner energy”. For the first time, the Power Generators Scorecard has made information about this sector more accessible to the public, while encouraging the power industry to improve their environmental performance. WWF cites that scientists worldwide have pointed to clear links between greenhouse gas emission and global warming. “Global warming won’t go away,” said Butcher. “There are two ways to reduce the rate of climate change — cutting our emissions and reducing our consumption.” WWF states that Australia’s worst drought since reliable records began, the hottest days on record in Europe and recent signs of coral reef devastation were made worse by global warming. The organization cites there are no mandatory requirements to reduce the greenhouse intensity of Australian power generation operations. WWF concluded that Australia ranks third in the developed world for C02 pollution per capita because of the country’s dependence on coal fired power. “Building coal fired power stations in a warming world is like trying to put out a fire with petrol,” said WWF Australia CEO, David Butcher. “Any discussion about the future of power generation must consider the greenhouse gas impact. Future generation and demand management policies have to be driven by reducing the high greenhouse intensity of the power sector globally, or our droughts will get worse and our days will get hotter.” The Prime Minister, State premiers and Territory chief ministers will meet today in the annual CoAG meeting to consider the “Parer Report,” which is the CoAG energy market review chaired by Warwick Parer.