Analysis and Commentary

Reliability issues, lack of investment, climate change doom coal fired electricity

Analysis and Commentary

By Peter Roberts

There is still a degree of nostalgia among some industry observers for the days when coal fired power stations delivered Australia some of the lowest-priced electricity in the world.

But just as the days of Australia’s low cost advantage are long gone so too are the odds stacking up against any future for coal as a power source, with many of its disadvantages self inflicted.

Of course the greenhouses gases emitted have taken the shine off coal, especially with investors who have starved the sector of funds lest they be ‘stranded’ in a future low carbon world.

This is exacerbated by the fact that solar PV and wind are cheaper sources of electricity than coal – even compared to existing power stations that have been running for years – you would have to be a died in the wool advocate of coal to invest in anything else other than renewables.

But the real killer in recent years has been the increasing unreliability of coal power stations.

This week AGL Energy revealed further setbacks at its troubled Loy Yang A Power Station in Victoria where its Unit 2 has been experiencing delays in coming back into service after breakdown.

Once the poster boy for the coal power industry, Loy Yang was expected to resume operation this month after it was taken out of service in April.

Then its loss was a factor in the suspension of the electricity market in June.

Originally slated for a re-start in August, it was first delayed to September, and this week’s news is that it will not be online until at least the end of October.

Parts are still being manufactured for the plant in Switzerland.

That is one sad end for a facility that once provided around 30 percent of Victoria’s power.

AGL Energy: Loy Yang

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