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Coal power stations can only be replaced by renewables – Bowen

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Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen says the government’s approach to focus on renewables, batteries and gas for Australia’s energy transition has been vindicated by the latest draft system plan from the Australian Energy Market Operator.

Australia’s last coal fired power station will close five years earlier than expected by 2038, but the energy system will still rely on firming from fossil fuels in the form of gas according to AEMO’s Draft 2024 Integrated System Plan (ISP).

Bowen said: “It shows aging coal-fired generation is becoming more unreliable with increasingly frequent unplanned outages, and that the fleet has and will continue to retire earlier than originally announced.

“Twenty four coal plants with a total capacity of 26.7 GW announced their closure dates under the last government, but the LNP failed to deliver any policy to ensure replacement capacity or investment certainty for the infrastructure needed for reliability and affordability through the transition.

“In contrast our successful Capacity Investment Scheme is already delivering and has been expanded to ensure delivery of 32GW of new capacity.”

Bowen said the plan showed significant progress, with around a quarter of the previously forecast 10,000 km of new or upgraded necessary transmission build by 2050 already underway to support reliability.

“In just 18 months, the Albanese Government has also already delivered Rewiring the Nation deals with NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and WA that are unlocking and keeping a lid on prices for the necessary transmission build.

“And we’re delivering on more gas at reasonable prices for Australian users with a Gas Code of Conduct that has already secured supply to the domestic market of at least 300PJ of gas to 2030 – equivalent to five years of east coast gas powered generation demand.”

Bowen lashed the opposition’s inaction on reneweables and focus on nuclear power as a solution.

“While today’s draft forecasts 90 percent of the increasingly unreliable coal fleet is likely to retire by 2035 – the LNP’s only semblance of a plan is a technology that by their own admission will not be commercial before then – risking energy security for households and industry.”

To deliver this lowest cost pathway for secure and reliable energy, the AEMO plan calls for investment that would:

  • Add close to 10,000 km of new and upgraded transmission by 2050, as highlighted in previous plans, with around a quarter underway and half to be delivered in the next decade
  • Triple grid-scale variable renewable generation by 2030 (57 GW) and increase it seven-fold by 2050 (126 GW)
  • Add almost four times the firming capacity from dispatchable storage, hydro and gas-powered generation by 2050 (74 GW)
  • And support a four-fold increase in rooftop solar capacity by 2050 (72 GW), capable of providing additional benefits to consumers if coordinated and responsive to market and operational signals.

Further reading:
Coal will be all but gone by 2034 under Australia’s latest energy roadmap

Picture: Chris Bowen

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