The energy sector is complex and can be technical and jargon-heavy. We’ve compiled a list of the most commonly used terms to help you better understand the sector.
AEMC / Australian Energy Market Commission
The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) is a statutory body set up by the Council of Australian Governments in 2005. The primary functions are to set the rules for the energy markets and to provide advice to Ministers on the design of energy markets. In making decisions about rules and design they are required to apply the National Energy Objective, being that energy markets provide long term benefits to consumers through the operation of effective and efficient frameworks. It has jurisdiction over both the National Electricity Market (NEM) and - albeit smaller in scope - the gas transmission network in Australia. It is the NEM’s rule-making body.
AEMO / Australian Energy Market Operator
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is a body set up in 2009 to centrally manage and operate the wholesale and electricity parts of the National Electricity Market, and is responsible for electricity and gas markets in eastern and southern Australia, as well as national transmission planning for electricity. AEMO superseded and incorporated six other bodies which operated gas and electricity transmission and markets. It is the NEM’s operating body.
AER / Australian Energy Regulator
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) was set up alongside AEMC in 2005 to enforces the rules established by AEMC – primarily the National Electricity Rules (NER) and the National Energy Retail Rules (NERR). AER’s responsibilities include regulating revenues of transmission and distribution network service providers, monitoring the retail and wholesale markets and compliance, investigating breaches and enforcing penalties, and establishing service standards for networks and guidelines. It is the NEM’s regulatory body.
ARENA / Australian Renewable Energy Agency
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is a statutory body set up in 2012 to manage the Australian Government’s renewable energy programs. It is responsible for funding renewable energy research and development, demonstration, and commercialisation, as well as building and supporting networks to share knowledge, insights, and data from funded projects.
Baseload is electricity supply that is present all the time, 24 hours a day. This has historically been provided by coal-fired generation. See also: peaking power; intermediate demand.
The capacity of a power generation asset is the sustained, full-load output of that asset. The asset’s capacity factor is expressed as a percentage of its nameplate capacity. See also: capacity factor.
The capacity factor of a power plant is the proportion of energy actually generated compared to the total possible output (the capacity) of the power plant. All generation assets have a capacity factor, which is calculated yearly. Capacity factor is generally always below (and can never exceed) 100%. This is due either to maintenance and fault downtime (or reduced operation) or a lack of available fuel (including wind and solar). See also: capacity; output.
Carbon credits / ACCUs
Carbon credits are permits which are issued in return for provably storing or avoiding one tonne of CO2e. In Australia, they are called Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) and are issued by the CER through using the Australian National Registry of Emissions Units. These credits can be traded or sold, and give the company which holds them the right to emit one tonne of CO2e. See also: CER.
CEFC / Clean Energy Finance Corporation
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is an Australian Government-owned green bank set up in 2013 to help facilitate investment into the clean energy sector. Currently, the CEFC is responsible for investing $10 billion in clean energy projects, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, and low-emissions technology developments across Australia.
CER / Clean Energy Regulator
The Clean Energy Regulator is a statutory body set up in 2012 with the responsibility of administering legislation to reduce carbon emissions and increase the use of clean energy.
Carbon dioxide equivalent. CO2e is a measure of the global warming potential of a gas, given in terms of CO2 – in other words, how much global warming a given type and amount of greenhouse gas may cause, using CO2as a reference point. For example, one tonne of methane is equivalent to 25 tonnes of CO2 over a 100-year period. See also: greenhouse gas; tCO2e.
Coal-fired power stations
A coal-fired power station is a thermal power generation asset that converts heat energy into mechanical energy, and then into electricity. Generally, this happens by using the burning of coal to vaporise water into steam in a boiler; the steam expands in a multi-stage steam turbine to convert the thermal energy into rotational mechanical energy; and finally, the mechanical energy turns a generator that converts the mechanical energy to electrical energy. Coal-fired power stations are generally used as baseload power stations.
Controlled and uncontrolled load
Controlled load is electricity supplied to specific appliances – often large, high energy-usage appliances such as hot water systems – which are separately metered. The benefit to controlled loads is that they are subject to a cheaper tariff, saving customers money; the catch is that electricity is supplied to controlled load appliances is for a limited number of hours in the day (generally off-peak hours). The actual function and name of controlled load tariffs is different across the states and territories of Australia. See also: tariff.