Alternatives to Liddell are cheaper, cleaner and reliable
The energy transition is under way. Significant numbers of power plants are reaching the end of their economic lives. We are at the crossroads, where we have to decide the direction of our energy future.
While substantial environmental and economic opportunities lay in wind, solar and energy efficiency, current government direction appears to show that maintaining the current coal based system of energy generation will be foundation to our energy future. This impression resurfaced with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s proposal to extend the life of Liddell Coal Power Station beyond its official closure date in 2022. This statement was made in response to the 10-year forecast on the electricity supply in NSW by AEMO, to potentially address issues of reliability and meeting peak demand.
The Liddell Coal Power Station currently provides a nameplate capacity of 1,000 MW and 8,000 GWh/year to the National Energy Market. As such, its proposed closure raises questions about ensuring the availability of renewable energy’s capacity to meet current energy demands, as well as the affordability and seamlessness of a transition from coal fired power to renewable power.
To shed light on these issues and the opportunities that exist to enable a cheaper, cleaner and more reliable energy future, the Australian Conservation Foundation commissioned the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) to analyse and present alternatives for extending the life of Liddell Power Station. To this end, three different primary scenarios were compared: the extension of Liddell’s operations; a gas and renewables scenarios as proposed by AGL; and a ‘clean energy package’ including renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, demand response and flexible pricing.
The impacts of the energy transition are also felt by local communities. The study highlights that there are viable technologies and policies available to facilitate a smooth, low cost and reliable transition that supports the local economy and community and helps to reduce carbon emissions. If such technologies and policies are adopted in the case of the Liddell Power Station closure, this would provide an invaluable precedent for successfully managing the longer-term energy transition.
For more information about ISF’s research into the potential closure of Liddell Coal Power Station, read the full report here.