Morrison needs a plan to replace Australia’s ageing and unreliable coal plants as more fail in heat, causing blackouts

SYDNEY, Jan 25, 2018 - Thousand of Victorians are without power after three units at the state’s coal-fired power plants went offline, pulling around a thousand megawatts out of the electricity grid as demand surged. [1]

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) said 60,000 Victorian homes were without power due to “high temperatures, high demand and reduced generation availability”.

“Mass fish deaths, fires raging in World Heritage-protected rainforests in Tasmania and weather records tumbling in the heatwave are all signs of a climate under severe stress. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten need to lift their game and treat the climate crisis with the seriousness it deserves. Australians want action from our leaders not more excuses,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigner Alix Foster Vander Elst said.

“With a federal election on the horizon Morrison and Shorten must heed the many signals the environment is sending and unveil a plan to replace our unreliable coal plants with renewables by 2030.

“The repeated failure of coal plants shows they are no longer up to the job and need to be replaced with renewables. You wouldn’t drive a 40 or 50 year-old car and expect it to run smoothly, but that is essentially what we are doing with our clunker coal fleet.”

Loy Yang A and Yallourn coal-fired power stations are currently operating at reduced capacity ­because of breakdowns or maintenance. This is alarmingly common. Last year black coal power plants in the National Energy Market broke down every five days on average. [2]

“With an ageing coal fleet such as ours, just add heat and you have the conditions for a blackout. This is a farcical situation, Australia can keep the lights on but to do it into the future we need to replace our decrepit coal plants with clean and reliable renewable energy.”

The comments were backed by Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, who said “we have ageing coal-fired power stations” and “they are becoming less reliable”.

Around 1GW of coal-fired power generation has dropped out of the mix as ageing plants struggle to cope with the summer heatwave, a situation that the Energy Security Board (ESB) warns will become increasingly common as our clunker coal fleet ages. [3]

Only yesterday ESB chief executive Aubrey Zieblemann warned that coal plants are like cars and should be expected to break down more frequently and be more expensive to maintain as they age.

“Clearly as generators age, we are running them very hard and with the hot weather and the fact that the weather is getting hotter in Victoria, we’re running them more,” Ms Zibelman said.

“And so there is an expectation that like any old machines – think of old cars – that over time if you run them harder you are going to see more operating conditions that have to be fixed.”

 

Notes

[1] https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/power-stations-fail-as-victorians-brace-for-hottest-day-since-black-saturday/news-story/b404770015b841f39e348b19e5eec3a7

 

[2] https://www.9news.com.au/2019/01/24/12/12/reliability-of-newer-coal-power-questioned

 

[3] https://www.theage.com.au/business/companies/watchdog-widens-warnings-on-power-as-victoria-swelters-20190124-p50tat.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_feed&csp=a1c4bbb3e33b9eb98b91e2d6b72ee39f

 

[4] https://reneweconomy.com.au/coal-units-cut-out-as-report-warns-hele-plants-just-as-unreliable-23879/

 

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