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Liddell is old and unreliable
Liddell is polluting
Renewables being built
Why renewables?
Energy storage
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The 'Monash Forum'
Footnote, SA
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The closure of Liddell power station

The right wing dinosaur group of the Federal Liberal party led by ex PM Tony Abbott are telling Australians that closing Liddell coal-fired power station in 2022 will lead to power shortages and higher power prices. Is there any truth in this?

This page looks into the relevant facts, and the more deeply one looks into them the more convincing becomes the case for closing this old, unreliable, polluting power station. Renewable power will more than make up for the lost generation, and it will be cheaper; energy storage will help to fill the gaps when the wind isn't blowing or the sun not shining; new technology will increase the stability of the grid.

This page was written 2018/05/24, modified 2018/06/08
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com (David K. Clarke) – ©
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Bungala Solar Farm, Stage 1, just one of many big solar farms under construction in mid 2018
Bungalla Solar Farm
Photo taken with my drone, 2018/05/10. More on northern SA's renewables


 
At the time of writing there were 16 wind farms under construction in Australia.
Turbine and fog
Fog streaming between turbines at Snowtown Wind Farm
2008/05/05
 
Hornsdale (Tesla) Big Battery
Big battery
Photographed 2018/01/14 by my drone
 
Solar powered Sundrop Farms with the closed coal-fired Northern Power Station in the background
Big battery
Expect to see more scenes like this in the future, coal fired power stations shutting down and renewable energy taking over
Port Augusta, South Australia; Photographed 2016/09/12

Liddell is old, ailing and unreliable

Liddell power station is very old and in poor shape, that's why AGL want to close it down. It was rated at 2 GW, but has been downgraded to 1.68 GW; even worse, its 'firm capacity', the power that can be relied upon at peak demand time, is only 1 GW. (See The Conversation, 2018/04/09, in which Kriti Nagrath, Senior Research Consultant, University of Technology Sydney, also writes about AGL's plans to replace Liddell.)

Peter Hannam wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald, 2017/09/16, that two of Liddell's four generation units were offline with equipment failures during the previous February's record breaking heatwave, when power was in strong demand. He also wrote that AGL is planning on spending $160 million more on it before closing it in 2022.

Liddell is polluting

The same article by Peter Hannam mentioned the 'brain-eating' amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, which has caused the closure of Lake Liddell for recreational uses. The amoeba probably became established in Lake Liddell because it is warmed by the power station; the lake's water is used by the power station for cooling.

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Ben Millington wrote a piece for the ABC on 2013/05/22 reporting that Liddell power station was emitting nitrogen oxides (NOx) at three times the rate of the global standard. "NOx is deemed a poisonous gas and is known to aggravate respiratory conditions, causing inflammation of the airways at high levels."

Liddell is the sixth biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses among Australia's power stations and is third or forth in emissions intensity.

Liddell is bad for the health of the local people, bad for climate change bad for ocean acidification and bad for Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Renewable energy installations are being built at a great and increasing rate

In 2017 1.3 GW of solar power was commissioned in Australia. In February 2018 there was more than 5 GW of large-scale renewables under construction including 2.4 GW of solar PV and 3 GW of wind farms.

Sanjeev Gupta, the man who saved the Whyalla steel works, is himself considering building 10 GW of solar PV.

AGL have announced plans to fill in any gaps left by Liddell. French company Neoen have 1.8 GW of renewable energy installed or under construction, much of it in Australia. There are many other players in the field.

Queensland late but now a major player

While Queensland has been one of the leaders in the adoption of rooftop solar it did nothing in utility scale wind power from 2000 to 2017. However, in 2018 it is right up with the leaders in utility scale wind power and solar construction, and is home to one of the leaders (Kidston) in the race to build pumped hydro energy storage.

From 2000 to 2017 Queensland had only 12 MW (0.012 GW) of utility scale wind power, at Windy Hill. As of June 2018 the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy power plant map of Queensland site showed 2.348 GW of wind power proposed or under construction. The same Internet site showed 12.629 GW of large scale solar to be proposed or under construction (with only 0.112 GW already operating).

With all this renewable energy being built we can safely shut down our older, more polluting coal-fired power stations.

Why are renewable energy projects being built all over the place?

It would be nice to be able to write that it was because people have recognised that we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to slow climate change and ocean acidification, but the truth is more that they are the cheapest form of new built power generation.

Batteries, pumped hydro and synchronous condensers to fill the gaps and increase grid stability

The Hornsdale Power Reserve (AKA, the Tesla Big Battery) showed that utility scale batteries can be highly valuable in maintaining power grid stability; many more big batteries have been proposed.

Virtual batteries are to be established, consisting of many thousands of home batteries in South Australia alone. Just today (2018/05/24) this was confirmed by SA Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan. He said that the SA government would proceed with a trial phase of the previous government's plan for Tesla batteries in 50,000 homes as well as his own government's plan for batteries in 40,000 homes.

Pumped hydro power can be used to store electricity generated renewably, and there are plans for four pumped hydro installations in northern South Australia alone.

Electranet has announced plans of building synchronous condensers, also to assist in further stabilising the power grid.

The implications should be obvious to all

Even someone of very limited intelligence and negligible vision should be able to see the significance in this rate of renewable energy construction. Batteries, pumped hydro and synchronous condensers will all help in the introduction of more and more renewables.

There is every reason to think that wind farm construction will continue at a similar or greater rate in the next few years. The price of solar PV in continuing to fall substantially, so the pace of solar power construction is likely to greatly increase.

There are another four years before 2022; even with a very conservative – business as usual – estimate we are likely to see at least 20 GW of solar PV and wind power being built in that time.

Are we likely to miss the 1.68 GW of very unreliable power from Liddell? I think not.



The 'Monash Forum'

Unethical and stupid old men living in the past

This group, who named themselves after Australia's famous WW1 general despite the opposition of his family members, are at the same time trying to undermine their leader, Prime Minister Turnbull, and support the dying coal industry. The members of the Monash Forum include Craig Kelly, Eric Abetz, Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce and Kevin Andrews. (Andrews was author of the most undemocratic act ever to pass through the Australian Parliament.)

It is they who are most vocal in trying to stop the Liddell power station being shut down.

I have written elsewhere that for a person in a high position to knowingly lie in an effort to damage the renewable energy industry and in support of the coal industry could be the greatest crime in the history of humanity. These people have committed that crime.



Footnote; the SA experience

South Australia closed its last coal-fired power station in May 2016. It has developed a far larger proportion of renewable energy in the period from 2003 to the time of writing (2018) than any other Australian state.

Contrary to the lies of the detractors of renewable energy and the supporters of fossil fuels, SA's transition has been a huge success. I have written a full justification for this statement elsewhere on this site, so I will not repeat it here.

If SA can successfully close its last coal-fired power station surely Australia can easily close just one of many.



Related pages

Why Liddell should close as planned, Environmental Justice Australia, written by Dr James Whelan

The true cost of keeping the Liddell power plant open; The Conversation



Index

Energy storage
Implications
Liddell is old and unreliable
Liddell is polluting
The 'Monash Forum'
Renewables being built
SA, a footnote
Why renewables?


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