West Australia Electricity Industry Structure and Outlook

  • SWIS contributes to 60 percent of the overall generating capacity in West Australia and off-the-grid capacity contributes to 34 percent 
  • The off-the-grid capacity is owned by private companies, especially mining companies use electricity for their industrial purpose 
  • Coal-based generation contributes to about 30 percent of the total generating capacity in SWIS. Gas-based generation is more prevalent in off-the-grid and NWIS, contributing to 88 percent and 96 percent, respectively
  • The SWIS installed and operates over 7,800 kms of transmission lines from Kalbarri to Albany, and Perth to Kalgoorlie to supply 18 terawatt hours of electricity a year

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Supply and Demand

  • Electricity demand has increased by around 1.9 percent in 2016 compared to 2015
  • The lack of significant increase in demand was on the account of increase in demand-side management measures in Australia. Also, increase in the rooftop solar projects led to a decrease in the demand for electricity in the residential sector 
  • Demand for electricity in the WEM is expected to witness a marginal increase.This is because of the Australian demographics, where the population growth in 2016 was 1.6 percent. Also, the interstate migration for West Australia is Negative (-5,600 people in 2015–2016)
  • Increase in domestic natural gas prices might have impacted the cost of generation and expected to ease as the proposed export restriction come into force

Fuel Mix

  • Coal, natural gas, and wind are the three components of the West Australian fuel mix, with coal and natural gas accounting for 48 percent and 42 percent of the total electricity generated, respectively
  • The Australian government has set a target of 20 percent renewable generation by 2020, but there has not been considerable change in renewable share in the fuel mix from 2014 
  • In H1 2017, the share of renewable has increased to 8.2 percent compared to that of 7.3 percent in H1 2016. This is still below the 2016 target of 12.75 percent
  • The slower growth rate of renewables is because of the low investor confidence, on account of the revision of renewable target and repealing of carbon tax in 2014 which led to a stagnation of Large-scale renewable energy projects in Australia

Generation and Consumption Profile 

  • According to the West Australian Energy Ministry, Australia has excess generation capacity of 1,060 MW. This helps the players in WEM to generate electricity, based on demand 
  • Retailers pay the generators to maintain excess generation capacity to account for any spike in demand for electricity
  • Based on the demand forecast by the retailer, the generation capacity is managed. This cost is passed on to the customer

Electricity Suppliers Market Landscape

  • There are 29 electricity generating companies in SWIS, with a total capacity of 5,798 MW
  • Synergy, which is a government organization, dominates the electricity generation sector, with 48 percent of the capacity in WEM
  • Alinta Energy and NewGen Kwinana have a capacity share of 13 percent and 12 percent, respectively, making them the next highest generators in the SWIS region
  • Alinta is expected to have a strong contribution from coal power plants once the acquired Loy Yang B coal plant comes into operation