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Electricity in Australia

Wholesale electricity in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory is supplied via the National Electricity Market (NEM). This system is connected by individual transmission grids in each state and interconnectors between those grids.

According to the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC), there are more than 300 registered generators in the NEM including coal, gas and renewable energy sources.[1] Approximately 63% of Australia’s electricity generation come from coal generators, with Victoria, NSW and Queensland relying on coal generation more heavily.[2]

Renewable energy has been growing as a source of electricity in recent years, with wind now providing one-third of total renewable energy generation and one-third of total generation in South Australia.[3] The introduction of these technologies is vital to meet Australia’s obligations under the Paris Climate Change Agreement and show how innovative Australian companies and workers are.

Both the Coalition and Labor have committed to cutting Australia’s emissions by 5% on 2005 levels by 2020. The Coalition’s goal is to cut by 26–28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030. Labor wants to cut emissions by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The Coalition has promised more than 20 per cent of electricity will come from renewable sources by 2020. Labor is aiming for 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.[4]

However, according to research undertaken by the Australian Parliamentary Library, national household prices for electricity increased 72% between 2003 and 2013.[5] A major factor behind these price rises has been the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar.[6] South Australia, a state with a majority of its electricity being sourced from wind and solar, experienced severe price increases which has partly been attributed to the state’s “hurried pursuit of renewable energy.”[7] Combined with the retirement of coal fired power stations in Victoria and South Australia, the Australian Energy Market Commission predicts that Australia’s could