Energy role expected to grow

STRONGER economic growth in Western Australia over the next 25 years is expected to lead to an increase in demand for energy, but the state is well placed to meet these needs as well as those of other states, according to a recent report. Energy intensive industries such as refining and min-erals processing are forecast to grow energy consumption at 2.6 per cent on average each year until 2029-30, according to the Australian Bureau of Agri-culture and Resource Economics report into the nation’s energy demand and supply to 2029-30. And beginning from the early to middle of next decade, natural gas demand in eastern Australia is expected to exceed local supply, the report says. However, WA is well-placed to meet much of this need with ABARE predicting that the state’s North West Shelf will take over supply in the longer term, away from overseas sources initially. It is estimated that Australia’s conventional natural gas reserves stand at about 139 trillion cubic feet, of which 93 per cent is held in WA. This figure includes both disc-overed gas reserves as well as resources that are yet to be discovered. WA’s gas-fired electricity generation is expected to grow at an average rate of 3.2 per cent a year and will account for 76 per cent of the likely expansion in the state’s electricity generation by 2029-30. Coal-fired electricity in WA is forecast to account for just 19 per cent of this capacity, growing at a rate of 1.6 per cent. Meeting this growing demand will be an increase in the combined production of gas from WA and the Northern Territory at an average rate of 6.6 per cent a year. By 2029-30, WA and the NT should have increased their pooled production by over a factor of five. About 90 per cent of the addit-ional gas production in the two regions is accounted for by existing planned developments. The state’s transportation sector should grow relatively strongly, ac-cording to the report, at 2.5 per cent. Energy consumption in the chemical, rubber and plastics sectors is forecast to grow on average by 4.7 per cent annually in WA, the highest of any state or territory in Australia, accor-ding to the report. It also assumes an average annual economic growth rate of 3.3 per cent over the period, second only to Queensland, which is forecast to grow at 3.9 per cent.

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