Polluting gas-fired power plant proposed for Dandenong: get the facts

In late December 2019, the Federal government quietly announced that they are underwriting a new gas generator plant with APA Group, Dandenong (1), to be co-located with APA Group’s existing Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) storage facility at Greens Rd, Dandenong South.  Some 18 gas-fueled engines are to be installed and 7 kilometres of gas pipelines laid to connect to the existing electricity network. (2)  A similar 320 MW gas-fueled power station plant is in operation at Laverton North covering a land area of 32,726m squared, located 15 kilometres from the CBD. 

smoking chimneys

APA gas site Dandenong South

Proposed APA Gas-fired power plant site (Google maps)
 

Laverton Nth gas fueled power plant

Laverton North Power Plant (Google maps)

Risks to health

Gas-fired power produces high emissions.  The Laverton North power station’s EPA licence only allows usage during peak periods.  Neighbouring staff said noise from two exhaust stacks was similar to a “jumbo jet taking off”. (3)  Burning natural gas emits nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, affecting the air, causing adverse health outcomes including shortness of breath, heart attacks, and premature death.  Gas power plants are often concentrated in socioeconomically and environmentally disadvantaged communities impacting health. (4) Burning gas fuels climate change. ABC’s Australia Talks surveys 2019 found “Climate change … registers powerfully in the Australian home as a personal threat … (and) was the leading worry; 72 per cent of respondents said it would affect their lives”. (5)

 

Laverton North gas-fueled power plantLaverton North Power Station commissioned in 2006
(source: James Lauritz photography)

Risks to the environment

LNG is a fossil fuel and generates emissions similar to burning coal, including methane gas.  LNG production is emissions-intensive with a side effect: heat-trapping gas. Carbon dioxide is emitted when gas is extracted from the reservoir during compression and decompression and requires plenty of electricity.  (6)  Australia’s carbon footprint has expanded for the last three years. Department of Environment and Energy data shows a 10.5% increase in fugitive emissions from fossil fuels, driven by an increase of 17.6% in natural gas production, processing, storage, transmission and distribution.  (7)  Friends of the Earth urges policymakers to pay greater attention to cutting emissions in the transport sector to rein in fugitive emissions. 

 

Risks to green jobs

APA Group produces over 50% of its electricity generation from renewable, sustainable energy, 38% wind power and 16% solar power production. (8)  Across Greater Dandenong solar power businesses are booming, and Australia’s largest bus maker Volgren is manufacturing electric buses to meet the growing need for sustainable public transport.  Ross Garnaut, climate change expert states, "The industries of the future can contribute many more jobs and much more income than today’s coal and gas industries." (9) Significantly, emissions from the electricity sector continue to decline due to large-scale renewable energy projects. (10) Green energy grows green jobs.  The city of Greater Dandenong’s sustainability strategy to attract investment in green enterprises and promote green employment and skills development is a vital shift towards a sustainable energy future.

For more info contact  Friends of the Earth Melbourne or get involved with FOE ACT ON CLIMATE campaign.