Victoria’s Coal Fired Clunkers NEM’s Most Unreliable

Victoria coal power unreliable

Loy Yang A | Image: Marcus Wong, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Coal power in Victoria accounts for approximately 13% of the National Electricity Market’s gas and coal capacity, but 32% of its gas and coal breakdowns says The Australia Institute (TAI).

A new report from TAI states Victoria’s gas and coal power fleet is the most unreliable in Australia; with Loy Yang A and Yallourn W the least reliable coal plants in the country by number of breakdowns.

Since TAI’s Gas & Coal Watch started in 2017, there have been 185 breakdowns at gas and coal plants, with 64 occurring at Victorian power stations. Yallourn W has been labeled the least reliable coal fired power plant in Australia by breakdowns per unit of capacity (17.9 breakdowns per GW), while Loy Yang A’s Unit 2 was the worst performing unit (10 breakdowns).

Solar Power Can Take The Heat

The TAI says the solution to Victoria’s “energy trilemma” of reliability, price and pollution is more renewables and energy storage. 40% of Victoria’s coal power was out of action during a heatwave early this year, but solar energy soldiered on in the state.

“Solar power has consistently stepped up as gas and coal plants failed. While coal becomes less reliable in the heat, on hot days Australians can count on solar power for a consistent supply of electricity,” says Richie Merzian, Director of The Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program. “It’s time for Victoria to expedite the transition to clean energy and that means shutting down its brown coal fired power stations over the next decade.”

No doubt the Greens will heartily agree. Yallourn Power Station, which also emits the highest level of climate pollution per unit of energy of any power station in the country, is currently to keep generating until its announced closure in 2032. The Victorian Greens want Yallourn gone within a decade and with a staged shutdown to begin next year. The party will be holding a rally on the steps of Victoria’s Parliament this morning as part of its Replace Yallourn campaign.

As for Loy Yang A – its troubles are continuing. Unit 2 (550 MW capacity) was knocked out of action on 18 May 2019 after an electrical short caused damage to the generator’s stator and rotor components. AGL originally expected it would take between two to four months to carry out repairs, but recently announced the outage on Unit 2 may extend seven months.

The TAI’s full report – Breaking brown: Gas and coal plant breakdowns in Victoria – can be viewed here.

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.

Comments

  1. Ronald Brakels says

    Rather than repair the broken down unit at Loy Yang they look at leaving it broke and putting the money into renewable generation instead. Solar, wind, and pumped storage would have minimal environmental impact, but solar, wind, and gas would still be far better for the health of our lungs and the health of the planet than coal.

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