Claims made today by AGL, Australia’s biggest climate polluter, that ending coal generation by 2030 is an ‘engineering impossibility’ are a clear demonstration of the failure of the company’s leadership and inability to keep pace with the changes underway in the energy market, Greenpeace Australia Pacific says.

Loy Yang A Power Station in Victoria
Loy Yang A is a brown coal fired thermal power station owned by AGL Energy in the La Trobe Valley in Victoria, Australia. It was commissioned in 1985 and is due to close by 2048, which is well beyond what scientists are calling for in order to prevent further catastrophic climate change (2030). AGL Energy is Australia’s single largest climate polluter.

As AGL limps towards its proposed demerger amongst shareholder dissent and analyst concern, the energy company is wheeling out falsehoods that replacing coal generation by 2030 with renewable energy capacity is impossible. This is at complete odds with the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) “step change” scenario in its draft Integrated System Plan, voted by energy industry leaders as the most likely scenario to occur.

Glenn Walker, Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner, said AGL’s claims show that they cannot deliver what the rest of the market is already doing, and the proposed demerger is merely a ploy to hide its failure.

“AGL has the memory of a goldfish and the agility of an elephant at a time which calls for the opposite.

“Time and time again, they have been caught with their pants down by the rapidly accelerating energy transition. This outdated adherence to coal is the same disastrous mistake repeated yet again, at the expense of shareholders, customers, the climate, and all Australians. The demerger is the latest in a long line of terrible decision making.

“Those who have shown they cannot do it will say nothing can be done. This terrible lack of vision and foresight is exactly why AGL has struggled to adapt to a rapidly changing energy market. AGL’s CEO and leadership continue to misread the pace of the energy transition and the need to get ahead of the curve, and the future of the business is now at risk as a result.

“AGL’s dodgy demerger is a ploy to hide its environmental, financial, and leadership failure. The company’s leadership just keeps repeating the same disastrous mistakes of believing the energy transition will be slow and that dirty coal has a future beyond 2030. The proposed demerger is this same mistake writ large.

“The energy market is shifting at lightning speed away from coal, as shown by Origin’s move to close its Eraring coal-burning power station by 2025. AGL CEO Graeme Hunt claims that renewables cannot be built twice as fast as the past five years but that is exactly what the vast majority of his peers in the energy sector believe will happen, as reflected in the Australian Energy Market Operator’s ‘step change’ scenario.

“AGL must scrap its proposed demerger and deliver real, lasting shareholder value by embracing the energy transition and replacing its dirty coal-burning power stations with renewables by 2030,” he said.

AGL plans to continue burning coal at Loy Yang A until 2045 far beyond the timeline needed to ensure a safer climate, with the UN and IEA both warning that Australia’s coal power stations must close by 2030 to ensure a safer climate and economic future for our country.