AUSTRALIA’S Yallourn coal-fired power plant, which meets 20% of electricity demand in Victoria, will close four years early, with a battery planned to replace some of the output.
The 1,480 MW plant will close in mid-2028 instead of 2032 and a 350 MW battery facility will be built by 2026.
Owner EnergyAustralia said it will provide a A$10m (US$7.7m) support package for the site’s 500 plant and mine workers. Managing Director Catherine Tanna said the funding, along with seven years’ notice will provide time for people to plan, reskill or retrain.
“EnergyAustralia is determined to demonstrate that coal-fired power can exit the market in a way that supports our people and ensures customers continue to receive reliable energy,” Tanna said. The plant’s closure will reduce EnergyAustralia’s emissions by 60%.
Coal power generators are coming under increasing price pressure from a rise in renewable supplies. Cheap solar output during the daytime is reducing margins for inflexible coal plants that cannot readily ramp output up and down. On top of this the state has a target to be net zero by 2050 and an independent panel has advised Victoria to adopt emissions reduction targets of 45–60% by 2030.
Angus Taylor, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, said that while the government understands the closure is a commercial decision it brings reliability and affordability concerns.
He pointed to price rises resulting from the closure of the Northern power station in South Australia and from Hazelwood in Victoria.
“As an essential service, the Commonwealth Government expects the market to step up to deliver enough dispatchable generation to keep the lights on and prices low once Yallourn closes,” Taylor said.
Government statistics show that coal generated 76% of energy in Victoria in 2018, down from 85% in 2016, with the fall due to the closure of the Hazelwood power plant.
Catch up on the latest news, views and jobs from The Chemical Engineer. Below are the four latest issues. View a wider selection of the archive from within the Magazine section of this site.