Frequently asked questions
Generator Efficiency Standards (GES) is a best practice programme. It encourages generators using fossil fuels to achieve best practice performance in their power plants and, as a result, reduce greenhouse emissions.
The standards are expected to achieve annual greenhouse savings of about 4 million tonnes once businesses implement actions to improve performance. This figure was estimated by independent technical experts and is consistent with industry analysis on potential greenhouse savings that can be achieved by power generators using fossil fuels.
The standards apply to any power generating plant that uses fossil fuels, whether on-grid, off-grid or self-generating, that meets all of the following criteria:
- 30 MW electrical capacity or above; and
- 50 GWh per annum electrical output or more; and
- a capacity factor of 5% or more in each of the last three years.
Where generators use both renewable and fossil fuels, the renewable energy is netted off. If the fossil fuel content is below any of these thresholds, the plant will be excluded from the programme.
Standards apply to new electricity generation projects, significant refurbishments and existing generation.
Under GES, any new power station project that has not received all necessary environmental approvals by the introduction of the standards on 1 July 2000, is deemed to be a new plant.
After a new plant (approved after 30 June 2000) completes commissioning tests and its performance has been reported to the Government, it becomes an existing plant under GES.
Performance will be determined on a plant by plant basis. The methodology is set out in the Technical Guidelines for the measure, available at www.greenhouse.gov.au/ges/publications/technical.html
For existing plants, businesses establish a best practice performance band - with some adjustment for the degradation that is inevitable due to the age of plant. Using the defined methodology, current performance of the plant is then plotted. With this information, actions to improve performance and greenhouse intensity targets can be identified and included in a Deed of Agreement, which sets out the steps businesses take in implementing GES.
Performance standards for new plants have been set. They are:
- Natural gas plant - 52% Thermal Efficiency Sent-out (nSO) - Higher Heating Value (HHV);
- Black coal plant - 42% nSO (HHV); and
- Brown coal plant - 31% nSO (HHV).
These standards are based on international best practice adjusted for Australian conditions (such as different air temperatures).
The Deed of Agreement is a 5 year agreement between Government and businesses. It specifies the approach businesses should take in identifying and undertaking agreed actions that improve plant efficiency and reduce greenhouse intensity. Businesses sign on to the Agreement up-front to demonstrate their commitment to GES.
Businesses will calculate the best practice performance band and current performance of the plant and submit this information, together with a menu of options, to the Government for agreement, within 6 months of signing. The menu of options outlines potential improvements for the plant.
Businesses then undertake feasibility studies on potential options and submit a proposed action plan within 21 months of signing the Agreement. This becomes the action plan for the plant, once agreed with Government, and incorporates a greenhouse target for the plant.
The greenhouse actions are to be implemented within the 5 year timeframe of the Agreement.
Businesses will report annually to the Government. Performance indicators businesses will report are:
- type of fuel (black coal, brown coal, gas, oil, other)
- greenhouse intensity
- capacity factor
- output factor
- tonnes of fuel used
- production (electricity generated and sent out)
- thermal efficiency
- greenhouse target.
Capacity, greenhouse intensity and the businesses' greenhouse target are to be made publicly available. Actual production for each plant will not be publicly reported, although businesses will be required to submit this information to the Government.
In the case of generators who are also participating in the Greenhouse Challenge Plus programme, businesses can submit a single, consolidated report that meets the reporting requirements of both programmes.
More about Annual Reporting