Morwell Power Station Heritage Listed

Morwell Power Station

Energy Brix Power Station circa 2008 | Image: Marcus Wong Wongm, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Energy Brix Power Station (aka Morwell Power Station) in Victoria was destined for demolition, but has dodged destruction (for now) after the Heritage Council of Victoria granted it heritage listing. The move has some celebrating, others scratching their heads and a few quite furious.

The power station and briquette works were constructed by the State Electricity Commission of Victoria (SECV/SEC) in 1949. The 170MW facility was a powdered brown-coal burning, emissions spewing monster that was finally closed in 2014.

Energy Brix Australia Corporation Pty Ltd  went into voluntary administration in 2015 and then into liquidation in 2016. The site is currently controlled by the liquidators.

The Asbestos Legacy

In addition to the greenhouse gases and toxic emissions sent into the atmosphere over its life and other damage to the immediate and surrounding environment, a deadly legacy remains on site within the station itself – asbestos. According to the EBAC Demolition web site, in excess of 10,000m3 of the material will need to be removed.

Morwell Power Station Finds A Champion

The demolition program, including the safe removal of the asbestos, was to have commenced in April 2017 and be completed by March 2020. All that may have been left behind after the work was a loading shed, briquette storage shed and the power station main store building.

It wasn’t to be. A resident of nearby Moe nominated it for heritage listing on the grounds of its historic value; it being the oldest coal-fired power station in Victoria, a rare remaining example of the engineering involved, the last remaining example of the state’s briquetting industry and its tie-in with the State Electricity Commission of Victoria.

The Council agreed. The full text of the decision can be viewed here (PDF).

Energy Brix Power Station’s champion, Cheryl Wragg, says the site could be redeveloped into a tourist attraction and memorial, creating jobs in restoration and reconstruction.

An Expensive Exercise

According to an ABC report, the cost to make the site safe will be $60-80 million, whereas demolition will be around $25 million. The liquidators apparently have a buyer for the site prepared to pony up $100 million, but only if the power station is demolished.

As Victoria moves towards its goal of 40 per cent renewable energy by 2025, some feel it’s time to move on from the coal-black (or brown) past completely, leaving its memory only in history books, web pages and museum pieces. Others believe preserving Morwell Power Station in its entirety could serve as an important reminder to future generations to not go down the brown coal road again.

Even if it was demolished, which could still occur, it seems that the filthy fossil fuel will live on at the site – the prospective buyer wants to make “high-value coal products”.

Coal Power Capacity Reduced Again In Victoria

In other coal power related news out of Victoria, SMH reported on Monday that  AGL’s Loy Yang A and Alinta’s Loy Yang B  power stations were forced to cut electricity generation after a problem with coal supply from an adjoining mine. 1,400 megawatts of capacity was lost across both power stations, but there was no risk to electricity supply given the timing. It’s not the first incident where the power stations have lost capacity this summer for various reasons, but thankfully during days of heatwave conditions when air-conditioners are cranking, solar power had been stepping up to the plate.

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.

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