Media Releases | 19th Nov, 2019

Unreliable coal a risk to energy supply, report finds

A new report from energy experts Associate Professor Bruce Mountain and Dr Steven Percy has found Victoria’s aging coal power stations are the main risk to reliable electricity supply in the state over the next ten years.

“The main risk to reliable supply in Victoria is the demonstrated unreliability of all three of Victoria’s brown coal generators” reads the summary of the report from Victoria Energy Policy Centre, released today.

Older power stations Yallourn and Loy Yang A have had “a trend of consistently high outage” in the last few years, the report found (PDF).

“It’s clear we cannot keep relying on these polluting brown coal power stations,” said Environment Victoria Campaigns Manager Dr Nicholas Aberle. “We need a plan to phase out coal and to support affected workers and communities to benefit from new jobs and a more diverse regional economy with a long-term future.”

This report also shows a perverse side effect of our energy market. Because there is no price on pollution from coal power stations, building more renewable energy in Victoria doesn’t necessarily replace highly polluting brown coal in Victoria. According to this analysis, it actually pushes out slightly less polluting black coal generators in NSW and Queensland first.

The report showed this is a result of Victoria’s surplus renewables capacity being exported to other states on the east coast grid.

“This report shows that building renewable energy alone isn’t enough to cut Victoria’s greenhouse pollution. The Andrews government also needs to set strong climate targets to ensure cuts to pollution from coal power stations,” said Dr Aberle.

The Andrews government is currently deciding the level of Victoria’s emissions reduction targets, with a decision due by March 2020.

“Given this new research that building renewable energy is not enough to cut pollution from coal in Victoria, we call on the Andrews government to announce strong targets to cut emissions in line with keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees.

“The EPA’s current review of coal power station licences is a perfect opportunity to put limits on how much greenhouse pollution these generators can emit. Right now, there are no limits.

“We strongly support the calls in this report for the Andrews government to accelerate the development of large-scale renewable generation and storage to improve reliability and reduce prices, but we now know it must be accompanied by policies that explicitly cut back greenhouse pollution from coal-burning power stations,” said Dr Aberle.

“Today we are also seeing unions call for EBA conditions at Yallourn power station that include re-training and redundancy provisions in anticipation of closure.

“We support these calls because Yallourn’s retirement is well and truly on the cards in the next few years. Indeed, any credible state emissions reduction target for 2025 that is consistent with the objectives of the Paris climate agreement will require Yallourn to stop polluting before then.”

For interview and further comment


Dr Nicholas Aberle, Environment Victoria Campaigns Manager
Office: (03) 9341 8112 Mobile: 0402 512 121

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