My recent article about the portfolios producing the most wind production generated a number of comments and questions (both online and offline).
That analysis was compiled because, in the emotive environment of claim and counter-claim with the RET Review underway, it seemed that AGL (in particular) had been painted as all big, bad and dirty (with its significant involvement in wind overlooked). As shown in our analysis, evidence suggests that AGL has also been a large supporter of wind generation.
Attentive readers would have noted that the title to that article was a question, rather than a statement.
Our article did beg another obvious question – framed with the same “Trader” portfolios (see below) in NEM-Review – who have been the largest CO2 emitters, over time. Understandably, this was one of the questions we’ve been asked offline.
Hence we cracked open our NEM-Review analytical software today to produce the following trend:
Note in this chart we have selected only the “larger” portfolios, to avoid cluttering the chart.
Otherwise there would be a significant number of smaller portfolios (some black, some green) with total carbon emissions bumping down near the bottom of the chart. These portfolios would also show electricity production volumes orders of magnitude smaller than those portfolios shown above (if we charted them).
As can be seen in this chart, the larger AGL portfolio (following the acquisition of Macquarie Generation) would – with real data trended backwards over time – represent the largest emitter of carbon emissions in the NEM, by a considerable margin. EnergyAustralia and GDF Suez are shown to be interchanging 2nd and 3rd.
Also notable is the significant reduction shown for the Stanwell Corporation portfolio in the chart above. Without looking at the details, we suspect this is likely to have been due to a combination of reduced production volumes for the whole portfolio, and the switch from coal to gas at Swanbank E – to be reversed at the end of the year as the LNG plant come on-stream.
So here’s the rub:
AGL can be seen to be the biggest producer of electricity from wind (and by a considerable margin) – but, at the same time, is also the largest emitter of carbon (by a considerable margin).
What does this mean, then, in a political environment persisting with claim and counter-claim about “greenness” – for instance, with:
1) the recent release of the Greenpeace/TEC “Green Electricity Guide”)?
2) the “Better Power” campaign launched by (independent?) GetUp? I must admit being a bit confused, here, as it refers only to Powershop (whereas there are other retailers also supplying renewable power, if that’s what the customer wants) and yet does not read like a paid advertisement. Perhaps one of our readers can explain?
In the previous article on AGL and wind, we trended AGL’s “market share” of wind produced (albeit not as clearly as we would like – some comments indicated the confusion inherent in the measure). For ease of reference this is included here again:
If we did the same with emissions (just AGL’s share of the larger portfolios above), we come up with the following trend:
Comparing the two, we see that AGL’s share of wind production climbed to just above 30% in 2012-13 and 2013-14, whilst its share of emissions (from large portfolios) with the acquisition of Macquarie Generation means that it’s just below 30% (so somewhat lower again as a total share of NEM emissions). Is this a coincidence?
Another notable observation in the chart above is how emissions from these large portfolios did drop in the carbon tax years (2012-13 and 2013-14), however in some ways this can be seen to be a continuation (perhaps acceleration?) of the trend started in 2008-09 with the start of declining demand.
As always, interested to hear your thoughts – offline (tel +61 7 3368 4064), or with a comment below.