A Central Queensland coal power and hydroelectric operator plans to shut down a decade earlier than expected.
CS Energy has decided to close its 700 megawatt Callide B Coal Power Station 10 years earlier at Dumgree, 114km southwest of Gladstone.
The decision means more than 100 staff could be let go when the station finally closes its doors in the year 2028. CS Energy previously hoped to close its doors sometime in the years 2038 or 2039. However, Fairfax Media reports the National Electricity Market (NEM) is pushing out a growing number of coal power stations to make way for renewable energy developments.
Queensland Energy Minister Anthony Lynham claims he had nothing to do with Callide B’s earlier closure even though he previously claimed NEM would see soaring demand for renewable energy sources replace traditional coal power generation from the year 2030. The media outlet predicts several coal power stations are expected to close by the year 2035.
“The changes are about technical specifications, not government policy,” Lynham told Fairfax.
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However, Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor has a different view and promises coal and gas power stations will not be forced out of the NEM early.
“Pushing base-load generation out prematurely or without a plan for like-for-like replacement is very, very dangerous,” he said according to Fairfax.
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He gave the example of the 2017 closure of Hazelwood Power Corporation’s Hazelwood Coal Power Station, 156km east of Melbourne. The operator was recently charged with 14 safety breaches, including failing to do an adequate risk assessment, install an alternative power source and set up a reticulated water pipe system for worked-out mines according to the Australian Associated Press.
“It was disastrous and we can’t afford that to happen again,” Taylor said according to Fairfax. “We lost a big slab of supply from the market, which put upwards pressure on prices and worsens reliability. It also makes the market less competitive.”
He said existing coal and gas-fired power plants should be kept in the NEM as long as possible.
“New projects are commissioned for a number of years, so in the meantime the key is keeping our existing generators flat-out which is why we set up the Liddell taskforce,” he said.