The Dirty Dozen

Standard Page - 10 October, 2011
Towards the end of 2010, there was a real prospect of new coal-fired power stations being built across Australia. If built, they would have locked in decades of more polluting power.

Today, building new coal power stations just to power our homes and businesses is not a viable option in Australia. This is thanks to many years of campaigning by Greenpeace and other groups with the support of thousands of passionate community members, as well as changing demand for electricity and new policies like the carbon price.

The key guide to new electricity generation across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia is the Electricity Statement of Opportunities for the National Electricity Market. The 2012 report shows a big decrease in projected electricity demand, meaning there will be no demand for new electricity generation investment for almost a decade. In Western Australia, the equivalent report, the Statement of Opportunities also shows a down-turn in electricity demand and an over-supply of baseload power.

The major factors that have made new coal power an uneconomical energy generation proposition are:

  1. Reduced demand – efficiency, changed economic outlook and reduced manufacturing.
  2. Increased investment in wind generation driven primarily by the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target.
  3. Sustained high international coal prices – new contracts for coal supply have to compete with the demand for exporting from Australia.
  4. The federal government's carbon price.
  5. Community campaigning, for example that saw the HRL coal power station in Victoria lose its government funding.

If there is no demand for new electricity investment until after 2020, what does this mean for coal power in the long-term? With the cost of renewable energy technologies falling and efforts to tackle climate change increasing, coal will only become a less viable energy option.

What happened to the proposed coal power stations?

The detail

Click on a state below to find out more details about the projects.

New South Wales

The largest expansion of coal power is in NSW, where there are proposals to build two new 2GW power stations – Bayswater II in the Hunter Valley and Mt Piper II in the Blue Mountains. Major upgrades and expansions to existing coal plants are also proposed.

Project Description Size
(MW)
GHG emissions (est.) Company
Mt Piper Proposed new coal (or gas) power station 2000 10,470,000 Delta Electricity
Bayswater Proposed new coal (or gas) power station 2000 12,428,000 Macquarie Generation

Queensland

The proposed Galilee coal power stations form part of a massive $7 billion coal project that plans to export 40 million tonnes of coal each year.

Project Description Size
(MW)
GHG emissions (est.) Company
Zero Gen Proposed new coal power station – with CCS* 380 (net) 930,000 Zero Gen (Queensland Government)
Galilee Phase 1 Proposed new coal power station and export coal mine 450 2,345,000 Galilee Power
Galilee Phase 2 Proposed new coal power station and export coal mine 450 2,345,000 Galilee Power
Wandoan Proposed new coal power station 400 (net) 643,000 Stanwell & GE
* Carbon capture and storage (CCS).

South Australia

There are proposals to build two coal plants to support the controversial coal-to-liquids (CTL) technology championed by federal Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson.*

The Arckaringa project plans are for an integrated 10 million barrel per year CTL plant with a 560 MW cogeneration power facility. The proponent, Altona, holds three exploration licences covering 2500 sq km in the northern portion of the Permian Arckaringa Basin in South Australia, which contains more than 7.5 billion tonnes of coal.

Project Description Size
(MW)
GHG emissions (est.) Company
Arckaringa Coal-to-liquid plant with new coal power station 560 (net) 2,943,000 Altona Energy
Hybrid Energy Coal-to-liquid plant with new coal power station 40 196,000 Strike Energy/
Hybrid Energy
* See Martin Ferguson's Speech to the Coal-to-liquids and Gas-to-liquids Conference (February 2008).

Victoria

The proposed HRL coal power station received $50 million in handouts from the state government and a further $100 million from the federal government.

Project Description Size
(MW)
GHG emissions (est.) Company
HRL Proposed new brown coal power station, including a drying and gasification process. 550 3,000,000 HRL

Western Australia

The Bluewaters 2 power station was commissioned in late 2009, with a further three plants on the drawing board.

Project Description Size
(MW)
GHG emissions (est.) Company
Coolimba Proposed new coal power station 450 3,800,000 Aviva
Bluewaters 3 Proposed new coal power station 208 1,500,000 Griffin Energy
Bluewaters 4 Proposed new coal power station 208 1,500,000 Griffin Energy

Endnote

(1) Australia's total annual greenhouse emissions would increase by approximately 39 MtCO2-e (around 7 per cent). This is based on a national total of 551 MtCO2-e in 2008. See: National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: Accounting for the KYOTO target (May 2009).