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POLICY RELEVANCE AND USE
To effectively measure both the consumption of energy and changes in energy production is an important objective, and one that is particularly topical in Australia today.
The Australian Government document Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper contains an overarching policy vision of a more profitable, more resilient and more sustainable agriculture sector. It sets out a number of initiatives and goals, including the goal of reducing costs of agricultural operations. Reliable energy supply is critical to agricultural operations and energy costs are typically a significant component of total costs.
Environmental accounts provide highly relevant information on the energy use of agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries. These accounts present energy information by type of energy used (e.g. diesel, electricity etc.) expressed both in joules and in dollar terms. Thus, for example, environmental accounts reveal whether these operations are experiencing rising energy costs, and whether the mix of energy products used is changing in response to these cost pressures. Environmental accounts can report on energy and employment related to renewable energy, for instance the use of bagasse (sugar cane trash) for electricity and grain crops for ethanol.
Energy accounts can assist in showing changes in the supply and use of energy over time. By comparing changes in energy used by agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries with corresponding production volumes, an assessment of the changing intensity of use of energy can be made for these industries. In practice, the output of agricultural industries is heavily dependent on climatic conditions. Due to the relationship between energy use and climate, any measured changes in energy intensity may be more a reflection of changes to these conditions, rather than to changes in the energy efficiency of technology and processes within agricultural units. By linking energy accounts with other SEEA AFF based condition accounts, it can assist in understanding the complex factors surrounding energy supply and use.
Changes to the types of energy products used by agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries can inform, for example, on the changing emissions intensity of these industries over time when compared to other industries.
A particular interest for agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries relates to energy produced and used within the same industry. In SEEA AFF this is called "own-account production".
Table 20 on the Downloads tab is an experimental physical flow account for energy use. It presents estimates of net energy use by type of energy product and by economic sector. For comparative purposes, it presents energy used for all industries and by households, as well as energy products exported and levels of inventories of energy products.
In 2014-15 the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries used a total of 114 PJ of energy. The most significant energy product used by these industries was diesel fuel, accounting for 92 PJ or 81% of its total energy use. Agriculture, forestry and fishing is a significant user of diesel fuel, comprising 11% of total use of this fuel by Australian industries in 2014-15.
GRAPH 1. NET ENERGY USE, AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES, Australia, 2014-15
MEASUREMENT GAPS AND FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES
Data contained in this release are drawn from Energy Account, Australia, 2014-15 (cat. no. 4604.0). At present, these data support a picture of energy used by the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries in total only. No disaggregation is available for agriculture, forestry or fisheries as separate industries. The physical flow account for energy use in respect of each type of agricultural product is not presently available. Additional data sources that may bridge this and other gaps will be investigated for future releases.
While it is known that diesel fuel is stored on farms, data on these inventories are not readily available. Further, no data are currently available on the transformation of energy products by the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries. There are also gaps on the supply of energy products from agriculture, such as wood.
One of the main areas of confusion about energy and agriculture is that there are many agricultural products or residuals used for energy generation - for example bagasse from sugar cane, macadamia shells for biofuel, grape skins for biofuel. These are typically allocated to the manufacturers or processors of the product as they are a residual of the manufacturing process, not the agricultural process.
Identified data gaps on generation of renewable energy sources for the purposes of farm business will be further explored for any future releases.
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