Green Energy Crunch Time: Aussie Liddell Coal Plant Closes This Month

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From Watts Up With That?

Essay by Eric Worrall

Liddell Power Station. By Webaware – Own work, Public Domain, link

h/t RickWill; Last winter, during a low wind deep freeze, the Aussie East Cost suffered blackouts and energy shortages. This year they’ll face the same – with 1200MW less capacity.

Labor’s electric storm: Liddell closure a ‘serious’ challenge

A perfect storm of delayed energy projects and the closure of the country’s oldest plant in 18 days has presented a “massive” future supply problem which even the state’s new Energy Minister says she is concerned about.

The closure of the Hunter Valley’s Liddell coal-fired power station on April 28 will remove 1200MW of electricity from the grid, with Energy Minister Penny Sharpe declaring “NSW is facing serious energy challenges in coming years”.

Ms Sharpe says that “trying to keep prices as low as possible” was a priority for the new Minns government and she would “keep all options on the table when it comes to keeping the lights on, including keeping base load operating to meet demand”.

…Read more (paywalled): Daily Telegraph

I suspect the minister will order Liddell to remain open, but there is a real chance ordering the plant to remain open won’t achieve much. Liddell has been run into the ground, it could suffer a major mechanical failure at any moment. It might not even be operational by the official closing date of April 28th.

A Labor government ordering workers to commit to a suicide mission, to continue operating such a plant could also be seen as a serious betrayal of the working class constituency they are meant to represent. When such plants die, they often die spectacularly, with large explosions and fires. Continued operation of such a decrepit plant could put workers’ lives at risk.

But not operating the plant might also have disastrous consequences. Early indications are this winter could be very cold. Snow has been dusting the Australian Alps this year since February, which is normally our hottest summer month. When bitterly cold winter weather systems thrust up from the Antarctic Ocean, temperatures plummet, and even subtropical coastal regions of Australia can experience night time temperatures below freezing.

All I can say is thank goodness we’ve got lots of wind and solar energy, they’ll really help us out if we encounter another prolonged overcast wind drought, like last winter.