NSW Must Avoid “Unplanned” Coal Closures: Commission


The New South Wales (NSW) Commission has urged the government to promptly address key factors that impede the state’s safe transition from coal to renewable energy generation.

Report (pdfAccording to the Environmental Planning Commission, a total of 21 recommendations to support the transition are listed, including support for communities that are heavily dependent on coal.

“The lack of positive planning and economic diversification in coal-dependent communities from state and federal governments has delayed the energy transition,” said Chairman Alex Greenwich.

As of December 31, 2020, nearly 21,000 Australia were employed at 38 operating coal mines in New South Wales, with state coal exports of $ 18 billion, or 40%, by 2020. Exceeded.

The report outlined the importance of “just transition.” This is the ability to carefully move away from coal, as represented by the German Rule Valley, which Greenwich emphasized as being considered the “gold standard” for coal mining and power generation closures.

The Commission recommended that the Government of New South Wales invest in programs that could re-skill existing coal workforces and provide education and training to emerging renewable energy sectors.

Greenwich warned that without such government intervention, the outcome could be similar to that of the Appalachia region of the United States. After the rapid closure of coal infrastructure, the livelihoods of the entire community were disrupted, leaving the region full of intergenerational poverty. Social dysfunction.

In Australia, the withdrawal of the Hazelwood coal-fired power plant in 2017 cut jobs for more than 1,000 Victorians, closed businesses due to income losses, and produced $ 1.58 billion in the region. There are reports that it has decreased.

Epoch Times Photo
Workers will leave the Hazelwood power plant after the final shift to Hazelwood, Australia on March 31, 2017. About 750 workers were unemployed after the factory was closed. (Scott Barber / Getty Images)

Hazelwood also closed as energy prices soared across Australia’s east coast due to the loss of 1,600 MW (megawatts) of electricity, which supplied 25% of Victoria’s electricity demand and about 8% of the national electricity market. Caused another problem. ..

Specifically, average electricity prices rose 85% in Victoria, 63% in New South Wales, 53% in Queensland, and 32% in South Australia. It is concerned that all but one of New South Wales’s dilapidated coal-fired power plants will be decommissioned within the next 15 years.

To address energy supply and affordability concerns, the report promoted the Renewable Energy Zone (REZ). This is a zone that promises to provide cheaper electricity due to the proximity of energy generation, storage, and additional infrastructure.

The Commission has foretold New South Wales’ recent groundbreaking $ 380 million commitment to develop five new REZs to support intermittent wind and solar power. I did not agree with the federal government’s plan to use gas power.

Instead, the report suggested that the Government of New South Wales should prioritize battery technology as the key to supporting wind and solar during periods of minimum power output.

Epoch Times Photo
An aerial photo of this dateless photo of Darling Downs Solar Farm near Dalby, Queensland, Australia. (AAP image / APA)

However, the recommendations did not address some of the key concerns raised by experts regarding the future of Australia’s energy security, including maintaining the “frequency” of the power grid.

The Australian Government’s Energy Security Commission last week warned the Prime Minister and state leaders that the Australian power grid needs major refurbishment to cope with the surge in solar and wind power.

The Board’s sentiment was endorsed by grid system experts and Professor Iven Mareels of the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Engineering, outlining the need to ensure adequate energy supplies in the transition to more intermittent power generation.

Mareels explained the crucial importance of maintaining grid frequencies by “inertia”. This is usually only possible with large rotary generators used in coal, gas and hydropower plants.

Mareels also considers the battery to be unsuitable for providing backup generation of the grid, as it usually outputs in a very short time. Instead, Mareels suggested that pumped-storage hydropower provide a more economical and practical solution.

For example, the Australian Government’s Snowy 2.0 is 25 times more expensive than the latest large batteries in South Australia, but has 1,400 times more storage capacity.

Finally, Mareels says that intermittent solar and wind means more solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV), and wind turbines to compete with similar levels of fossil fuel production. I explained that it needs to be installed.

“One gigawatt of PV is not one gigawatt of coal-fired power,” Mareels said.

Mareels explained that the underlying reason behind this is that the output of the sun and wind is highly dependent on weather conditions and time of day.

As a result, generous estimates suggest that the expected output of these intermittent forms of power is 25% of their maximum capacity, with actual numbers approaching 16%, Mareels said.

Therefore, Marilles said it would require four times as much solar and wind power to replace the equivalent amount of coal.

“People have to realize that the grid currently has about 40 gigawatts of electricity. To do this with renewable energy, you probably need to build something four times larger. Probably like 160. You need to build something. [gigawatts].. “

Daniel Kumerev