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Byron Shire
June 18, 2021

Gas-fired power station a waste of taxpayer money

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The Federal Government is going ahead with a plan to spend up to $600 million constructing a gas-fired power station in Kurri Kurri in the New South Wales Hunter Valley.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced last September the possibility of a gas generator at Kurri Kurri to make up a shortfall in consumers need, and last week he confirmed the plan to go ahead.

But, a Monash University expert warns the decision is an unnecessary investment that will increase electricity costs and will heavily impact climate change.

Project could not achieve the intended objectives

Associate Professor Ariel Liebman, Monash Energy Institute, Faculty of Information Technology (IT), Monash University, said that after analysing the Federal Government’s policy to sponsor 1,000 MW of natural gas burning turbine capacity in NSW, it’s clear that such a project could not achieve the intended objectives of the electricity market and its many stakeholders to deliver in the long term interest of Australians.

‘This project would instead increase carbon dioxide emissions by five million metric tonnes CO2 over 20 years to 2042/43,’ said Assoc. Prof. Liebman.

‘The investment of gas-fired power would also increase total electricity costs by about $70 million per year with total system costs over the period to 2043 increased by up to $1,011 million.

‘Moreover, this project would reduce the Snowy Hydro net profit by up to $3,380 million over this same period.

Alternative option off-river pumped hydro energy storage

Mr Liebman said that if the Federal Government were to drop this project altogether, an alternative option would be to generate power through the development of off-river pumped hydro energy storage (PHES), as included in the AEMO 2020 Integrated System Plan (ISP) modelled investment options.

‘Off-river PHES new technology will need support in the early stages to develop the resources needed to achieve its potential just as the Howard government achieved in the 2000s with the initial renewable energy target and the Rudd government’s support for solar Photovoltaic (PV) technology.

‘There is no doubt that gas turbine technology powered by green hydrogen could play a role in the transition to zero carbon. However, based on the current data for the expected improvement of performance and the costs of alternative technology, there is no overall economic basis for the Federal Government’s proposal for a new gas turbine power station in the absence of low-cost hydrogen fuel.’

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