An EnergyAustralia executive says the company plans to retain the services of Yallourn coal-fired power plant in order to maintain secure and affordable energy in the state of Victoria.
The comments by executive of energy Mark Collette came in the wake of the decision to close the Engie Hazelwood power plant, due for closure in the Spring.
“Yallourn is a tricky situation. If you see the Victorian energy market as a car and Hazelwood is the spare tyre, the tyre is going. If Yallourn closes down, the car breaks down,” Mr Collette told a Senate Committee public hearing in Melbourne on Thursday.
“For us, we see a social responsibility to keep the plant running.”
The Australian Financial Review reports that as a result Yallourn power station is not likely to close until 2032.
Despite willingness to keep open the Yallourn power station, Collette acknowledged that the fate of the facility, a collection of six brown-coal thermal power units in the La Trobe Valley, would come down to the climate change policies of federal and state governments.
“The Yallourn closure will depend a lot on national carbon policy. It is supposed to run until 2032 but it could close earlier. Our workers have accepted that uncertainty as part of their job going forward,” he said.
In its submission to the inquiry, EnergyAustralia predicted a 100 per cent renewable energy system in Australia would cost $150 billion.
“We would have to build approximately 75,000 megawatts of renewables – the equivalent of about 25,000 wind turbines. If we did it all with wind over 30 years, we would be looking at building two turbines every day for 30 years. At current prices, this would equate to $150 billion of investment,” it said in its submission.
Australian Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren – who represents 21 electricity and gas businesses – told the committee the current fleet of coal-fired power stations provided a crucial role in providing low-cost energy for consumers. The synchronous generation also provided stability and grid security – something which was exposed by the South Australian black-outs in September.
Coal still provides 78 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation, followed by gas (9.9 per cent), hydro (7.3 per cent), wind (5.2 per cent), solar (0.2 per cent) and biomass (0.2 per cent).
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