The final closure of AGL’s Liddell coal-burning power station, starting today and culminating on the 28th of April, is a win for the climate and a major tipping point for Australia’s transition to clean, renewable energy, says Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

Australia’s biggest climate polluter AGL will today start the process of shutting the remaining three of four units at the 50-year old Liddell power station in New South Wales. The heavily  polluting power station – one of Australia’s most unreliable and decrepit – will be replaced by large amounts of wind and solar energy, coupled with big batteries.

Glenn Walker, Head of Advocacy and Strategy at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, congratulated AGL for following through on its plans to shut down the power station, and urged the company to close its two remaining stations by 2030.

“AGL’s remaining coal burning power stations in Victoria and New South Wales are equally unreliable polluting clunkers. The sooner they are shut down the better it will be for the climate and the health of local communities,” he said.

“With recent leadership changes at AGL, the company can and should be a renewable energy leader. By future-proofing the grid with renewable energy, AGL can be an industry leader for Australia’s rapid transition away from dirty coal and gas to clean energy.”

It’s the first major closure of a coal-burning power station since 2017, after Engie’s Hazelwood station was shut down in Victoria.

Walker said Liddell’s closure will be a tipping point for Australia’s energy transition.

“When the closure of Liddell was announced in 2017, it caused a political storm, leading to the sacking of then AGL CEO Andy Vesey. Despite the initial protesting from small-minded politicians and commentators, this announcement helped spur a massive four-fold increase in renewable energy production in NSW since 2017, meaning that dirty Liddell will be replaced by clean energy,” he said.

“The lesson from Liddell should be that companies like AGL and politicians alike need to show courage and get on with the job of cleaning up our dirty energy system. With leadership, forward planning, and smart investment in renewable energy the transition from coal and gas to renewables can be seamless.”

The closure comes after a two year campaign by Greenpeace Australia Pacific to have AGL bring forward the closure of their coal-burning power stations. Loy Yang A was scheduled to close in 2048 but is now slated to close in 2035. Bayswater was due to close in 2035 but will now close as early as 2030. 

Greenpeace maintains that both of these remaining power stations need to close by 2030 to align with the Paris Agreement and keep dangerous global heating below 1.5 degrees.