Kurri Kurri Gas Power Plant Proposal Cops It In Submissions

Kurri Kurri Gas Plant - Hunter Power Project

It appears many Australians are unhappy about the Federal Government’s proposed Kurri Kurri gas-fired power plant, aka the Hunter Power Project.

First, a bit of background.

The proposed $610 million Hunter Power Project at Kurri Kurri in New South Wales’ Hunter Region will be a 660MW beast should it go ahead. Snowy Hydro says it will be capable of running initially on up to 10% hydrogen, and with a bunch more bucks thrown at it, up to 30%.

“Capable” doesn’t mean “will” and Snowy Hydro notes this is subject to fuel logistics. Also, not all hydrogen is “green” – it can be produced using fossil fuels. The Hunter Power Project may not even run on any sort of gas initially. There could be up to six months of diesel-only operation according to the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (page 196).

The document also reveals the power plant’s likely operations would result in a capacity factor of about two per cent in any given year.

“This means that in an average year, the proportion of actual energy generated by the Proposal, compared with its potential output if operated at full load for every hour of the year (expressed as megawatt hours), would be in the order of two per cent.”

The same document pegs operational phase emissions at 500,299 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per annum, making for an emissions intensity of approximately 0.52 tonnes CO2 equivalent/MWh (Scope 1 + 2). That’s significantly less than a coal burner (0.7 – 1.1 CO2e/MWh) , but significantly more than wind or solar (0).

It was recently reported the cost of the  project could turn out to be a lot higher – up to 50 per cent or even more. But even if Kurri Kurri came in at budget (and it’s rare projects of this scale do), it’s an expensive bit of emissions-spewing kit – particularly when considering new build solar or wind + storage is cheaper and doesn’t have the emissions to boot.

Furthermore, the Climate Council says:

“This gas power station will drive up power prices, discourage private investment in clean energy and create very few jobs.”

So, given all this, why the heck does the Morrison Government want to see it built? It’s a really good question that is yet to have a really solid answer to support the Hunter Power Project proceeding.

Hundreds Of Submissions Slam Project

Of the 257 submissions relating to the Hunter Power Project’s Environmental Impact Statement, reportedly only 2 were in support of the project and 217 were opposed.

Concerned parents from Australian Parents for Climate Action made 37 submissions against the project. We’ve mentioned this group in the past in connection to their push for solar power and batteries at all Australian schools.

The group is urging the NSW Government to reject the proposal and asking the state government to support the manufacturing of solar panels in the Hunter Valley.

“Supporting solar manufacturing in the Hunter instead would help the region to transition to a climate safe economy,” states the group. “Australian Parents for Climate Action see this manufacturing as a win-win for Hunter jobs and families, and have tied it to their proposed Solar Our Schools ask of the Federal Government to fund solar and batteries for all schools and early childhood centres.”

Among the public authorities to lodge a submission was the NSW EPA, which noted:

“The EPA has reviewed the EIS and notes that it does not provide the information required by the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements to adequately assess the potential impacts to air quality and noise.”

All the submissions and other project information can be viewed on the NSW Major Projects web site.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.


  1. James Silcock says

    The government has to do something for coal and gas or those industries might stop “donating” money to their election campaigns.

    • Geoff Miell says

      James Silcock,
      The NSW DPIE is seeking community and other stakeholders feedback on matters concerning making the decision whether to release the Hawkins and Rumker areas in the NSW Mid-Western Regional LGA for coal exploration. These indicated areas are existing agricultural lands.

      Yet on 8 Jun 2021, the SMH published an article by Nick O’Malley and Matt Wade headlined “NSW coal industry would die in 20 years, worst-case scenario predicts”. It begins with:

      “Coal jobs would disappear entirely in NSW within 20 years if international demand shrinks, according to one of three scenarios about the future of the industry prepared for the government by the state’s Treasury Department.”

      Why is the NSW DPIE investigating the possibility of opening up more coal areas in NSW (that could disrupt the established agricultural activities) when the NSW Treasury has recently suggested the possibility that NSW coal jobs could disappear entirely within 20 years? How is opening new coal regions in NSW consistent with rapidly reducing GHG emissions?

      It’s amazing what political donations can do.

      • George Kaplan says

        Geoff, mining contributes over 5% of Australia’s GDP, one site claiming coal alone contributes about 10% of Australian GDP – it’s unclear if this is direct effect or flow on effects, or what this claim is based on. Regardless, coal is a major driver of the economy and Australia’s 2nd largest export – 18.1% of 2019’s $284B.

        At present exports are 24.6% to Japan, 23.5% to India, 18.2% to China, 9.88% to South Korea, 6.91% to Taiwan and a further 17% spread amongst various other small players. Coal is thus a reliable export.

        By contrast iron ore – 23.8% of exports and thus the only export of greater value to coal, is near exclusively purchased by China – 81.7%, yet Beijing has made clear that it is waging a trade war against Australia and wishes to cease purchasing Australian exports. In the long run relying on Beijing for economic well being is a risky gamble.

        Eliminating coal would see Australia’s GDP plummet, cut reliable energy in friendly and developing nations, and see thousands out of work. Do those advocating the cessation of coal have any recommendations on how to fill this gaping chasm in the economy or provide employment to the tens of thousands who would be out of work?

        • Geoff Miell says

          George Kaplan,
          You state: “Coal is thus a reliable export.”

          Not according to NSW Treasury, that has concluded in a technical paper for the 2021 NSW Intergenerational Report that “global demand for coal is expected to weaken considerably”.

          If we/humanity cannot eliminate the burning of all carbon-based substances ASAP, then the compelling scientific evidence I see indicates the consequences will likely be increasingly more regions of planet Earth that become too hostile for human habitation within this century.

          There are no jobs on an uninhabitable planet. There is no planet B.

          Barring super-volcanic eruption, major meteor impact, and/or global thermonuclear war event(s), the Earth System is ‘locked-in’ to surpass the +1.5 °C global mean warming threshold, likely before 2030, and on current GHG emissions trajectory, is likely to surpass +2.0 °C global mean warming threshold before 2050. – see Table 1 in: https://esd.copernicus.org/articles/12/253/2021/esd-12-253-2021.pdf

          +3 °C global mean warming would be catastrophic, and likely on our current GHG emissions trajectory in the second half of this century.

          +4 °C global mean warming would likely mean civilisation collapse.

          Less than 50 years from now, under a high emission (RCP8.5) scenario, areas that could be home to 3.5 billion people would be essentially uninhabitable. In Figure 3 (see link below), the brown hatching areas shown are essentially uninhabitable (i.e. too hot/humid) for humans by 2070, including substantial regions in Australia. – see: https://www.pnas.org/content/117/21/11350#F3

          Risks of simultaneous crop failure increase disproportionately between 1.5 and 2 °C, so surpassing the 1.5 °C threshold will represent a threat to global food security. – see: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308521X18307674

          But there are reliable, affordable, rapidly deployable zero/low GHG emission solutions. There’s no time to waste.

        • James Silcock says

          The Government want to keep exporting coal for the reasons you state.
          But from what the media are saying, most of the rest of the world and phasing out coal.
          So whether we want it or not, it is unlikely to remain our second biggest export.
          Filling that gaping chasm left behind is what the government should be working on now to get ahead of it.
          Uranium will likely fill some of the gap, and maybe an expansion of rare earth minerals, and things that make batteries.
          Personal i think we should look to export high tech like Germany, and maybe refine some of our raw materials eg, exporting steel instead of iron ore that other countries turn into steel.

  2. Ronald Brakels says

    Hi George

    There were too many errors in your last comment for publication. If you want to do some research and submit a corrected comment that’s fine, but it will probably be easier for you to submit comments that contain just one idea at a time, because if I see two mistakes that could have easily been fixed by checking information online I won’t publish it.

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