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NSW will fail to meet already weak climate targets if the decision to subsidise Australia’s biggest coal plant goes ahead.

22nd August 2023 

A report commissioned by the NSW government and written by former coal lobbyist Cameron O’Reilly is recommending that the NSW government spend hundreds of millions of dollars per year to extend the life of Eraring coal-fired power station beyond its current lifespan.  

“The fact that this report was leaked suggests factions within the NSW Labor government are attempting to lock in a yet to be made decision to extend the life of Eraring coal-fired power station, in a deal that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars per year and result in millions of tonnes of climate pollution" Dr Brad Smith, NCC Policy and Advocacy Director said today.  

“This recommendation is an absolute disaster for the climate, energy affordability and the credibility of the NSW government when it comes to emissions reductions”. 

"This is despite mounting evidence that such an extension is unnecessary, will cost consumers more, and make it impossible for us to meet our emissions targets."  

Recent reports by energy experts have laid out the path to on-time closure, including “The Lights Will Stay On” by the Climate Energy Finance and “Earing can be closed on schedule” by Nexa Advisory, and yet it appears the government is forging ahead with the absurd waste of taxpayer money. 

“NSW climate targets rely heavily on closing coal, and for good reason – it’s the largest source of climate pollution, and the easiest to phase out.  

Current NSW government climate projections rely on emissions from coal power reducing from 49 million tonnes in 2020 to just 9.5 million tonnes in 2030, the equivalent of just one coal power station, down from the current four.[1]  

“We cannot imagine a scenario where the NSW government reaches its own inadequate climate targets if they choose to extend the life of Eraring by even one or two years” 

Table: NSW Coal-fired power station emissions versus climate targets 

Owner 

Facility 

Capacity (MW) 

5 yr average emissions 2017-2022 (tonnes CO2-e) 

Value $bn (based on EU ETS price) 

AGL 

Bayswater 

2640 

        13,582,463  

 $            2.0  

Origin 

Eraring 

2880 

        13,380,401  

 $            2.0  

EnergyAustralia 

Mt Piper 

1440 

          5,743,332  

 $            0.9  

Sev.en 

Vales Point 

1320 

          6,658,282  

 $            1.0  

NSW passenger car fleet of 4.4 million cars 

        13,684,000  

- 

NSW 2030 target for electricity generation 

      9,500,000 

 

Source: Clean Energy Regulator, Electricity sector emissions and generation data 2017–22  

The emissions impact of this decision is equivalent to Chris Minns buying everyone in NSW a solar-powered Tesla, which would offset the 13 million tonnes of CO2 per year emitted by the power station each year.  

In dollar terms, it’s a $2bn carbon value per year.[2]  

There has been a lot of talk about NSW’s ambitious climate policy, but the reality is that we are way behind other states when it comes to low hanging fruit like putting solar on schools, incentivising homeowners to install batteries and solar panels, and banning new gas connections.  

"We'd love to see the Minns Government show some vision and leadership when it comes to transforming our energy system." 

“It is untenable to say that there are no other options when multiple energy experts have laid out actionable pathways.  

Statement ends 

Media contact: Clancy Barnard 

E: [email protected]  Ph: 0438 869 332 

Note: NCC Acting CEO Brad Smith is available for comment on request 

References: 

[1] Source: NSW Department of Planning and Environment, NSW Net Zero Emissions Dashboard. Available at: https://www.seed.nsw.gov.au/net-zero-emissions-dashboard  

[2] Based on EU ETS price of EUR 88.46 per tonne. 

Note: In order to comply with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees, the OECD and the EU need to phase out coal by around 2030. See for example, Climate Analytics "Implications of the Paris Agreement for Coal Use in the Power Sector" (2016) 

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