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Mt Piper to close five years sooner than announced last month?

The Nature Conservation Council urges state and federal government to fast-track transition planning for Lithgow after one the nation’s leading energy experts warned coal-fired power generation could end in Australia by 2035 or sooner. 

The Australian Financial review reported today: 

Energy Security Board chairman Kerry Schott has predicted coal-fired power will disappear from the National Electricity Market by the mid-2030s if not earlier – cutting short the rated life of some generators by more than a decade.  

“This forecast has serious implications for Lithgow and makes the need for detailed, comprehensive transition planning more urgent than ever,” Nature Conservation Council Campaigns Director Chief Executive Chris Gambian said. 

“Last month Energy Australia announced it would close its Mt Piper Power station in 2040, two years earlier than originally planned.  

“Now it seems that revised deadline is already out of date. 

“The people of Lithgow need the state and federal governments to support the development of industries that leverage Lithgow’s natural advantages — its skilled workforce and stunning natural assets, like the Gardens of Stone. 

“That means developing a detailed, comprehensive transition plan that includes strategies to develop the city’s eco-tourism and manufacturing potential. 

“Lithgow has tremendous opportunities, but it needs government support to realise them. 

“The 2035 timeline is still five years slower than climate science demands, so it's likely to be revised forward again. 

“Retirement of coal power stations by 2030 is crucial if we are to pass on a safe climate to our children.” 

MEDIA CONTACT: James Tremain | 0419 272 254  



Coal power likely gone by 2035: Schott 
Angela Macdonald-Smith and Mark Ludlow 
Oct 11, 2021 – 4.46pm 

Energy Security Board chairman Kerry Schott has predicted coal-fired power will disappear from the National Electricity Market by the mid-2030s if not earlier – cutting short the rated life of some generators by more than a decade. 

“Coal is inexorably leaving the system and I personally think it’s going to leave much faster than people initially thought. It really is struggling to make money,” Dr Schott told The Australian Financial Review Energy and Climate Summit amid intense debate about the future of coal in the push to net zero emissions. 

“It’s what coaches were to motor cars really, it’s no more viable. 

Some of Australia’s coal power generators are due to run until the late 2040s but they are being undercut by cheap renewables, which are also forcing them to run more flexibly. 

Coal power stations are also suffering more outages as they get older and less reliable, said Australian Energy Market Operator CEO Daniel Westerman, describing the economic conditions for their owners as “quite hard”. 

EnergyAustralia and Origin Energy have already brought forward closure dates for coal stations, while AGL Energy is also working towards an earlier exit than the 2048 date of its newest plant. 

AGL CEO Graeme Hunt signalled earlier closure dates were highly likely but emphasised that several “pre-conditions” had to be met to prevent a “crash landing” on the glide path of decarbonisation that could see the lights go out. 

Mr Hunt said there was still a need to keep power supply reliable and affordable at the same time as cutting emissions. 

He compared the effort around planning for coal plant closures as trying to land “on a runway that is moving towards us all the time” and warned that the energy price crisis playing out in Europe could start to be felt here if the transition is not managed well. 

“If we get the glide path wrong we could end up in the same place,” he said. 

AGL is due to release new climate commitments for its to-be-demerged businesses, Accel Energy and AGL Australia, in the documentation for the restructuring. 

Mr Hunt also effectively ruled out AGL resuming plans to build a gas-fired generator near Newcastle as part of its plans to replace the Liddell coal power plant, which is due to close in 2022-23. 

He said the federal government’s decision to get Snowy Hydro to build a gas power generator at Kurri Kurri made that now “far more unlikely” as the gap in the market had been filled by other investments. 

Out of coal by 2040 

EnergyAustralia chief executive Mark Collette – who runs another one of Australia’s largest carbon emitters – said the company would be out of coal by 2040.  

The supplier recently announced it would bring forward the closure of its Mt Piper coal-fired power station from 2042. 

“We see the clean energy transformation, and a commitment to net zero is all about reducing emissions while keeping reliability up. So that’s the game plan,” he told the Summit. 

“We have committed to be out of coal by 2040 because, in our judgment, coal will not be required in our energy system.” 

But Dr Schott predicted coal-fired power could be gone from the National Electricity Market by the mid-2030s.  

She said coal would still be exported to other countries whose energy systems were not as advanced as Australia, but it would not be needed for power generation here. 

The exit of coal-fired power is still set to cause issues for system stability for when the sun was not shining and the wind was not blowing. Renewables can already at times make up about 70 per cent of power generation, and are expected to reach 100 per cent by 2025. 

“This is terrific news for emissions reduction, but it means we do need to make changes to the system,” Dr Schott said.  

“It’s not an easy transition. 



EnergyAustralia to close NSW coal power early 

Angela Macdonald-Smith 
Senior resources writer 
Sep 23, 2021 – 2.24pm 

EnergyAustralia will bring forward the closure of its Mt Piper coal power plant in NSW as part of new commitments on emissions reduction including a 60 per cent cut by 2028-29. 

The electricity and gas supplier, which earlier this year brought forward the closure date for its Yallourn brown coal-fired generator in Victoria to 2028, committed to exit from coal power generation by 2040 and set a target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 

The target to exit coal brings forward the closure date for Mt Piper from the currently scheduled 2043 by at least three years, but EnergyAustralia did not give a specific date. 

EnergyAustralia’s Mt Piper coal power plant near Lithgow in NSW will now close by 2040.  

“While Mt Piper’s ultimate retirement date will be determined by several factors, we are committed to long-term planning and supporting the transition for our workers and our local communities,” EnergyAustralia chief executive Mark Collette said. 

The decision comes as rival AGL Energy faces escalating pressure over its coal power generation, with news on Wednesday of legal action mounted by Environment Victoria against it and other brown coal power generators in the state, adding to pressure already coming from shareholders and investors. 

Baseload coal power plants, which still supply almost 70 per cent of electricity demand in the National Electricity Market, are struggling with the collapse in wholesale power prices earlier this year and with the need to operate more flexibly given the influx of wind and solar power onto the grid. 

“The clean energy transformation is accelerating, with more renewable, storage and flexible energy technology available at lower costs than ever before,” Mr Collette said. 


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