6 February, 2019

Solar, wind and storage the only reasonable response to coal and gas failures

Major parties in NSW must commit to adding up to 4000MW of clean energy to the grid over the next four years to bridge the reliability gap caused by the state’s aging and highly polluting coal and gas power plants.

“The fastest, cleanest and cheapest way to bridge the state’s electricity reliability gap is by investing in renewables,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said.

“The Australia Institute has shown NSW gas and coal fired electricity generators broke down 27 times last year, and in June 2018 pushed the grid to the brink of blackout. [1] In just the past week Liddell, Eraring and Tallawarra failed; 2019 is looking rocky for coal and gas.

“We are calling on all the major parties to add at least 4000 MW of solar, wind and storage to the system in the next term of government to reduce cost, increase reliability and slash pollution."

The CSIRO last month found a new black coal power station with carbon capture and storage would cost three to four times as much as an integrated solar farm with battery storage that could generate the equivalent amount of electricity. [2]

“New coal doesn’t stack up environmentally or economically,” she said. “NSW has one of worst records in Australia for clean energy, with just 8 per cent of the state’s power coming from wind and solar.

“We need to ramp that up to 40 percent over the next four years to get on track to net-zero emissions by 2040 and prepare for the closure of both the Liddell and Vales Point coal power stations,” she said.

“At a time when the state is gripped by drought and people are crying out for leadership, the Coalition and the ALP both still lack clear plans to slash our emissions.”

The Nature Conservation Council is calling on all parties to commit to ensuring the next government:

  • tenders for 4000 MW of large-scale clean power over the next four years;
  • powers all government operations (schools, hospitals, etc) with 100 percent renewable energy by 2023;
  • gives all households (including low-income and rental properties) access to solar power in 10 years; and
  • legislates for net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and ensures all government decisions consider the impact of policies on climate change.

The key policy asks by climate action groups are outlined in A Clean Energy Future for NSW.

REFERENCES

[1] The Heat Goes On: Breakdowns at gas and coal plants in NSW, 2018, The Australia Institute 2019

[2] GenCost 2018: Updated projections of electricity generation technology costs, CSIRO, December 2018

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