GREENHOUSE gas emissions from Victoria's brown-coal fired power stations increased nearly 10 per cent over the past decade despite government programs designed to promote renewable energy.
It reflects that more than three-quarters of the new electricity generation in Victoria to meet increasing national demand since 2000 comes from burning brown coal, the dirtiest major source of electricity.
An analysis by consultants Green Energy Markets found generation at the four major Latrobe Valley brown-coal fired plants has grown steadily despite the advent of renewable energy targets.
The report comes as green groups coalesce behind a campaign to close Hazelwood power station - Australia's most greenhouse gas-intensive power plant - by 2012. Sections of the ALP are believed to be keen on an announcement about Hazelwood before the November state election.
Commissioned by Environment Victoria, the analysis found coal was responsible for 91.5 per cent of energy generated in the state last year.
Renewable energy sources contributed 5.4 per cent, up from 4.5 per cent a decade earlier. While wind power grew exponentially, the increase was offset by a decline in hydroelectricity due to drought.
Gas-fired power - widely considered a viable medium-term option to reduce emissions - contributed 3 per cent.
Environment Victoria campaigns director Mark Wakeham said the analysis showed the only way to reduce the state's emissions was to replace one of the large coal stations.
The power industry has ridiculed the 2012 closure date nominated by climate activists at a summit earlier this month, saying there is not enough generation capacity to replace it.
Hazelwood's owner, International Power, is open to a phased shutdown of the plant if it was paid a tariff based on its pre-emissions trading value.
Victorian government spokesman Shaun Inguanzo said the future of power stations such as Hazelwood would be determined by its owners or in Canberra, where the Rudd government's proposed emissions trading scheme would give an incentive to cut emissions. The scheme, opposed by all non-government parties, is due to be introduced to the Senate for a third time in May.
Opposition energy spokesman Michael O'Brien did not respond to questions about Hazelwood's future.
The latest report follows a Climate Group analysis that found national emissions were lower this summer than last despite increased generation at Victoria's brown-coal plants.