Close Polluting Power Station To Cut Emissions & Create Jobs
The closure and replacement of Australia’s most polluting coal fired power station at Hazelwood by the end of 2012 could be achieved for $320 million a year. A report commissioned by Environment Victoria says this would cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 12% and create hundreds of jobs.
Push for Hazelwood power station to close early
Adam Morton In The Age (17 May 2010):
A BLUEPRINT on closure and replacement of Australia’s most polluting power station by the end of 2012 has found it could be achieved for $320 million a year.
A report commissioned by Environment Victoria found the early closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station would cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 12 per cent and create hundreds of jobs.
The proposal comes as political leaders search for a way to fill the climate policy void created by the indefinite delay of the Rudd government’s emissions trading scheme.
The federal backflip is forcing the state government to rethink its forthcoming climate policies – a climate change white paper and bill and statement on future energy supply.
Environment Victoria campaigns director Mark Wakeham said the consultants’ analysis showed that the cost and timeframe were feasible.
“Everyone knows that Hazelwood is going to close at some point,” he said. ”We think this is a real opportunity for whichever state or federal party that works with the company, International Power, to make it happen.”
Consultants Green Energy Markets found Hazelwood – responsible for 23 per cent of Victoria’s energy – could be replaced in one of two ways.
The first is a combination of large-scale gas-fired power and an expanded renewable energy program, mainly from pushing through some of the dozens of wind farms proposed.
The second would install less gas and introduce a residential and commercial energy efficiency program, wiping out the need for a quarter of Hazelwood’s electricity.
It is estimated replacing Hazelwood could reduce the state’s annual emissions by nearly 15 million tonnes, free 27 billion litres of water for other uses and create 2300 ongoing jobs under the second scenario.
There would also need to be financial support to help the local community cope with Hazelwood’s closure.
The report suggests several policy measures that could bring on the change, including competitive tender programs for funding and expanding the existing Victorian Energy Efficiency Target.
The $320 million annual cost is based on the equivalent of a carbon price of $20 – at the lower end of what International Power has estimated it would cost to replace coal with gas.
Victorian Energy Minister Peter Batchelor welcomed the report, but warned against underestimating the time necessary to build new clean energy plants and the growth in electricity demand.
“No community would allow the closure of one of its power stations before its replacement began operating,” he said.
Victorian opposition energy spokesman Michael O’Brien said it would be ”very difficult” to resolve Hazelwood’s future without leadership from the federal government, but advancing the debate was important.
Federal opposition climate spokesman Greg Hunt said its “direct action” policy, which would ask companies to tender for access to a cash pool to cut emissions, would allow coal power stations such as Hazelwood or Yallourn to be replaced with gas or gas and renewables.
International Power has signalled it is open to a phased early shutdown of Hazelwood if a price could be agreed.