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Byron Shire
August 14, 2022

Australia’s coal power stations ‘at the end of the line’

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Australia’s coal power stations are not fit for a 21st century power system with almost 100 breakdowns at fossil fuel power stations in the seven-month period to the end of June 2018, according to a new Climate Council report ‘End of the Line: Coal in Australia’.

Climate Councillor and energy sector veteran with more than 40 years experience, Professor Andrew Stock said, ‘by 2030, 55 per cent of coal power stations in Australia will be over 40 years old. These ageing coal stations are  increasingly unreliable and expensive to operate, risking blackouts and higher consumer power costs.’

‘Extending the life of old coal power stations is extremely expensive. For example, it would cost almost a billion dollars to extend the life of the Liddell power station for just five years,’ said Professor Stock.

‘Australia’s ageing coal power stations are becoming increasingly unreliable and prone to breaking down in extreme weather events. Their many recent failures show old coal cannot be depended upon to provide a reliable supply of electricity for the next two decades,’ he said.

‘Australia must urgently plan for a future without our ageing coal fleet. Fossil fuels can’t  compete with renewables and storage when taking into account pollution, cost, reliability and health outcomes,’said Professor Stock.

Key findings

  • By 2030, 55 per cent of coal power stations in Australia will be over 40 years old.
  • Australia’s coal and gas power stations had almost 100 breakdowns recorded in the seven-month period to the end of June 2018.
  • New coal power stations are the most expensive form of new power generation.
  • The estimated cost of building a coal power station with carbon capture and storage in Australia is over six times the equivalent cost of Australia’s largest wind farm.
  • Australia’s electricity sector is the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gas pollution, producing 33 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution levels in 2017 (excluding land use)..
  • There is no such thing as clean coal. No matter how ‘efficient’ a coal-fired power station, it is always polluting.
  • Coal costs Australian taxpayers about $2.6 billion in health costs every year.

‘Building a new coal power station is not the solution as it is the most expensive form of new power generation and the worst option in terms of pollution,’ said Professor Stock.

‘Whether it’s old coal power or new, the numbers just don’t add up anymore for coal. It’s risky, dirty, costly and unreliable,’ said Professor Stock.

Climate Councillor and energy expert Greg Bourne said ‘the term ‘clean coal’ is an oxymoron. No matter how ‘efficient’ a coal-fired power station claims to be, it is always polluting.’

‘A new ‘high efficiency’ coal power station using black coal would produce about 75 per cent of the emissions of an existing power station of a similar size,’ said Mr Bourne.

‘Australia needs a plan to transition away from coal. The Federal Government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee simply won’t deliver the investment in new clean, reliable renewable energy Australia needs to address the urgent threat of climate change,’ said Mr Bourne.


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  1. Nev, perhaps you could explain ‘the technology to burn coal cleanly’ that has been shown to be commercially viable anywhere in the world. Carbon Capture and Storage is a myth and the Coal Industry knows it.


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