Victoria’s remaining ageing and polluting coal-fired power stations will shut down up to 15 years earlier than previously predicted, according to a new report from Energy and Resource Insights (ERI) commissioned by Queensland Conservation Council, Environment Victoria and Friends of the Earth.
The analysis from ERI’s principal analyst, Adam Walters, finds that under the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO’s) Integrated System Plan Step Change scenario coal retirement is expected to happen two to three times faster than currently scheduled.
AGL’s Loy Yang A power station is forecast to shut down between 2028 and 2030, Alinta’s Loy Yang B to close by 2032, and EnergyAustralia’s Yallourn power station by 2025.
While AEMO chose not to publish coal closure dates in the final ISP, this analysis reveals the closure dates by matching state-level coal capacity data to a closure schedule generated using AEMO’s published modelling methodology and the known capacities of coal power stations.
The earlier closure dates are based on a range of foreseeable commercial, operational and public policy factors contained in AEMO’s data.
The new analysis for expected coal closure comes in a week in which the federal government is hosting a national jobs summit designed to address employment skills shortages - and provides a compelling argument for working with coal communities on expanding clean, renewable energy jobs in the near term.
Bronya Lipski, Policy and Advocacy Manager at Environment Victoria, said the ERI analysis demonstrates that a staged transition from coal is possible, and will provide certainty to both communities and renewables investors.
“This report makes it clear that [Victoria] can run without coal power stations by 2030.”
“This analysis from ERI shows that the likely closure dates are far earlier than AGL or Alinta are publicly admitting. This lack of a credible, honest timeframe from AGL and Alinta on closure dates is getting in the way of a planned, orderly transition out of coal.”
“If we are to meet our Paris Climate obligations to keep warming below 1.5 degrees, AGL and Alinta will need to close these ageing, polluting power stations even earlier than AEMO’s Step Change scenario timetable sets out.”
“These dates give us a basis on which to plan to close coal-burning units and make sure comparable renewables are online, and associated transition and distribution infrastructure is operational to deliver clean energy to where it needs to go.”
“The Latrobe Valley community, including the power station and mine workers in the region, have been crying out for a transition plan for years. A staged closure scenario will provide significant certainty for people who want to plan for the future of their jobs and their region if it is integrated into a regional just transition plan.”
“It provides renewables investors with certainty about what we will need to have by way of clean energy generation and storage online to phase out coal in an orderly fashion.”
“And a Step Change scenario tells us what jobs we need and when as we rapidly transition from coal to renewable generation. Our policy analysis outlines the jobs and skills required to contribute to a national jobs plan, and that we need to start rolling it out in the next term of government.”
Cam Walker, campaigns co-ordinator for Friends of the Earth said ‘This information highlights the need for Victoria to get on with the mass scale roll out of renewable energy. The Star of the South offshore wind project is especially important in light of likely early closure of the aging power stations in the Latrobe Valley”.
“Workers and their communities need a clear plan to manage the inevitable transition from our current reliance on coal. After powering Victoria for almost 100 years, the Valley can remain a powerhouse of electricity generation as we transition to 100% renewables and storage. Many of the policy measures are already in place. We just need a public commitment from the government to bring forward the closure dates to align with the analysis from the ERI of the AEMO ISP Step Change scenario.”
Tony Wolfe, a worker from Loy Yang power station and board director for the Gippsland Climate Change Network, said: “As a power station worker that is nearing the end of my career, I feel it is only fair that the existing workforce has certainty around closure dates. Nobody believes the dates that are currently proposed and workers and their families deserve the right to be able to plan for the future.”
“The best thing that can come from research like this is that it is used as a starting point for a staged transition.”
“It’s not much to expect that power station workers and the local community can work together on a transition plan so that we’re not subject to the type of problems that occurred around the closure of Hazelwood.”