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In examining Australia's energy production, it is important to distinguish between primary and derived (or secondary) energy. Primary energy products are forms of energy obtained directly from nature, including non-renewable fuels such as coal, natural gas and crude oil, and renewable fuels such as wood, hydro-electricity and solar energy. Derived energy products are fuels produced from another fuel, commonly a primary energy product. Derived energy products include electricity, petroleum products such as petrol and diesel, and coke (Bush et al. 1999).
Graph 17.6 shows the production of non-renewable and renewable energy sources between 1973 and 2001. Over this period, the production of non-renewable fuels has shown an upward trend. In contrast, there has been little growth in the combined production of renewable energy sources (wood, bagasse, hydro-electricity and solar). Although production of renewable energy products increased from 197 PJ in 1973-74 to 267 PJ in 2000-01, its share of total primary energy production fell from around 7% to less than 2% over this period (graph 17.7).
Derived energy production
Australia produces a variety of derived (or secondary) energy products. In 2000-01, the nation produced over 2,463 PJ of derived energy, comprising 1,573 PJ (or 64% of total production) of petroleum products, 721 PJ (29%) of electricity, and 164 PJ of coal-based products (table 17.8). Production of derived energy has increased by almost 25% since 1989-90, mainly due to significant increases in the production of electricity and aviation turbine fuel.
In 2000-01, Australian petroleum refineries used 44,708 megalitres (ML) of crude oil and other refinery feedstock to produce 43,490 ML of petroleum products (DITR, Australian Petroleum Statistics). Total refinery output has increased since 1989-90, due to increases in the production of transport-related petroleum products, including automotive petrol (up 17%), diesel (up 34%) and aviation turbine fuel (up 90%). In contrast, fuel oil production has decreased by 37% since 1989-90 - this is partly due to a reduction in the use of fuel oil in electricity generation (table 17.8).
In Australia, the generation of electricity overwhelmingly uses non-renewable primary energy products as inputs (graph 17.9). Black coal accounted for over 50% of total inputs used to generate electricity in 2000-01. Brown coal, used almost exclusively to generate electricity in Australia, accounts for 31% of total inputs. The use of natural gas by Australian electricity generators has grown strongly, increasing from 4.5% of total inputs in 1974-75 to 10.6% in 2000-01. Coal and natural gas have been increasingly used to generate electricity since 1974, and have gradually replaced the use of fuel oil.
Electricity generation from renewable sources, on the other hand, has not increased significantly over this time period. Excluding hydro-electricity (which by energy accounting definitions is considered a primary fuel), the main renewable energy used to generate electricity is biomass - mainly bagasse (sugar cane residue) and wood. Biomass accounted for only 1.4 PJ of electricity generated in 2000-01 (ABARE electronic datasets; ESAA 2002).
The electricity supply industry has undergone substantial structural change over the last decade. The 1991 decision to introduce a national electricity market has resulted in the replacement of the traditional State-owned vertically integrated monopolies with businesses that compete within the same marketplace. Employment, sales and turnover continue to be affected by the changes caused by industry restructuring (table 17.10). Employment increased by 551 persons (2%) to 33,435 persons in 2000-01. Turnover in the electricity supply industry increased nationally by $2.0b (8%) to $27.4b. The majority of this increase was accounted for by a growth in the value of sales of goods and services of $1.5b (6%) to $25.4b although much of the increase was due to the statistical effects of industry restructuring rather than real growth.