Plant emissions at five-year low: Data shows

The release of the latest NPI data reveals a drop in emissions from the energy industry, according to the Australian Energy Council.

An AEC spokesperson said analysis of NPI emissions data for coal-fired power plants in the National Electricity Market in the past five years shows a fall in NOx, SO2, particulates and mercury emissions (see table below and trend graphs), with all at five-year lows.

“Coal-fired generation has been declining in Australia in recent years and in the past five years it fell 10.7 per cent. But emissions have fallen even further during that time, apart from NOx, which are down 6.7 per cent.

“Operators continue to focus on meeting their licence limits and minimising emissions where they can and investing in their plant.

“In the past year particulate emissions showed the biggest decline with a 10.4 per cent fall in PM2.5 emissions and an 18.3 per cent drop in PM10 emissions in 2019-20 based on the NPI data.

The amount of electricity generated by coal-fired generators was 5.95 per cent lower in the same period.

“Over the past decade particulate emissions have fallen by 45 per cent (PM2.5) and 32 per cent (PM10) respectively, while generation from coal-fired power stations fell by 15.21 per cent,” the spokesperson said.

NOx emissions fell 7 per cent in the past year, while SO2 emissions were down 6.6 per cent.

In the last five years coal-fired generation in the NEM fell 10.7 per cent, from 152,226GWh to 135,923GWh.

Reductions in past five years

Percentage change











Coal-fired generation


Based on NPI data

Graphs showing the emission trends can be found here.

About the Australian Energy Council

The Council represents 21 major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses operating in the competitive wholesale and retail energy markets. These businesses collectively generate the overwhelming majority of electricity in Australia, sell gas and electricity to over 10 million homes and businesses, and are major investors in renewable energy generation.

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