Five Reasons the Liddell Power Station is a Dud

Malcolm Turnbull wants to keep this old coal-fired power station open. Here’s five reasons that’s not going to happen, and is just a bad, bad idea.

1. Liddell is falling apart.

Cartoon by Jerry King

The NSW government gave it to AGL three years ago for free, and it has been limping along for years. During the February 10  heatwave, boiler-tube leaks meant that Liddell was running at below half capacity.

Industry sources suggest it would cost around $500m to fix it up, just to run for 5 more years. I bet Turnbull wished he knew that before he launched this thought bubble.

2. It’s the climate, stupid.

The impacts of climate change are becoming clear - floods in Texas and Bangladesh, reef bleaching and our summer heat waves are just some examples. But ever since Tony “axe the tax” Abbott came to power, climate pollution has been going up. Everyone from energy companies to investment funds knows we need to cut pollution, so they’re putting their money on solar and wind. We need to build a clean energy system to replace not just Liddell, but every other coal fired power station one-by-one over the coming years. Turnbull’s latest thought bubble is climate vandalism.

3/ Liddell’s air pollution is killing people and it’s got to stop.

Last year Liddell reported that it emitted 51 million kilograms of toxic air pollution. In the nearby town of Muswellbrook, fine particle pollution and sulphur dioxide regularly exceed safe levels. These chemicals are known to cause lung and heart disease, and exacerbate lung conditions like asthma. The people of the Hunter Valley deserve better.

4/ Coal power plants are so inflexible, they’re a liability.

This whole thought bubble began when Turnbull responded to a report by the energy market operator this week. But they didn’t call for keeping open coal power stations, they said what we need is “flexible, dispatchable” options. In fact they said flexible over and over, 20 times. Coal is anything but flexible. Coal plants simply can’t compete in today’s energy market because they’re not designed to turn on and off to fill gaps in supply or peaks in demand, and it doesn’t make sense to burn coal when the sun and wind are providing energy for zero operating cost.

5/ There are much, much, much better options.

Turnbull seems to have forgotten that we’re in the middle of a disruptive energy transition. Solar costs are halving every five years. Batteries are dropping in cost even faster. The cheapest way to generate electricity is now from the sun and the wind. We can store that power and use it whenever we need with batteries, or with pumped-hydro, like we already do in the Snowy Mountains, or even with molten-salt like happens in Spain and Nevada, and will soon be online in South Australia.

We have enough time to plan for a clean transition for the Liddell coal fired power plant, and it’s just the first of many that we need to switch to clean energy.

If Turnbull isn’t up to that challenge, he should get out of the way and let others lead the transition.

Across Australia, states are leading the transition to clean energy but the NSW Government is holding us back. Join the call for action from our NSW Government by sending a quick email to your Member of Parliament using our simply form today. 

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Image credits: 1/ Cartoon by Jerry King  5/ Solar farm by Kate Ausburn 


Air pollutionClimate and energyCoal and gas

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