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Retirement of coal would threaten power supply

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World Coal,

The reliability of Australia’s electricity supply could be put at risk should the country withdraw the 1360 MW of coal-fired power necessary to meet its COP21 commitment. Modelling from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) suggests “potential reliability breaches” from as early as 2019 – 2020 in the case of South Australia and from 2025 in New South Wales and Victoria.

“In this scenario, the majority of coal-fired generation withdrawals are assumed to come from Victoria, which would reduce the state’s generation output to support South Australia and New South Wales via the interconnected network,” said AEMO Chief Operating Officer, Mike Cleary.

The reliability breaches are most likely to occur when demand is high in late afternoon and early evening and wind and rooftop solar generation is low.

“This is a reality call from AEMO,” said Greg Evans, Executive Director – Coal at the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA). “Policy decisions that lead to a shift away from affordable and accessible electricity will have negative economic consequences and impact on current living standards.”

According to Evans, the “best option to ensure ongoing reliability of the national electricity market is through using the latest high-efficiency low-emissions (HELE) coal-fired generational plants.” HELE technologies help to boost the efficiencies of coal-fired plants, reducing the amount of coal required and reducing CO2 emissions as a result.

“Australia does need to consider all electricity generation options and governments should not mandate the composition of the energy mix, rather reliable, low emissions power generation must be provided by the lowest cost energy sources available,” concluded Evans. “That approach will likely result in a mix of energy sources, including gas, renewables, but underpinned by HELE coal generation.”

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