News | 4th Feb, 2013

Diminishing role for coal

4 Feb 2013
Lynda McRae, Latrobe Valley Express

The Latrobe Valley's brown coal is projected to play no role in Australia's electricity generation by 2049-50, according to new research released by a Federal Government body.

The Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics released Australian Energy Projections last month and projected the death of brown coal in the mix of electricity generation and consumption within coming decades, including a dramatic decline in its role by 2034-35 compared with previous predictions for that period, released just one year ago.

According to the report, the impact of lower cost renewable generation and carbon pricing is expected to lead to a dramatic decline in coal-fired generation – from 60 per cent in 2012-13 to 13 percent in 2049-50. Even the 13 per cent figure, however, relates solely to black coal – mined in other states -and brown coal's role is predicted to drop to "zero".

In contrast, there are predictions black coal's production will grow, supported by the development of new mines in New South Wales and Queensland up to 2050.

The report said NSW was likely to remain the country's largest producer of electricity and projected it would export electricity to Victoria. In a monthly blog 'This is Power' former long-time chief executive of Electricity Supply Australia Keith Orchison, who was a member of the Federal Government's 2011 white paper reference group, said while the report's predictions might "draw cheers from…the Greens, it won't endear the Federal Government to the (Latrobe Valley) locals".

He said the BREE modelling contained a "Valley bombshell" particularly in its 2034-35 projections. "At present power generation in Victoria delivers 49,000 gigawatt hours a year to the east coast electricity market, 81 per cent of it coal-fired.

"By 2034-35 this will fall back to 40,000 GWh – but only 5000 GWh will be brown coal generation," Mr Orchison said.

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