Victoria’s gas & coal power fleet “most unreliable in Australia”

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Loy Yang, Victoria. Image: Dorothy Chiron / Shutterstock.com

New research shows Victorian coal power is responsible for around 13 per cent of the National Electricity Market’s gas and coal capacity, but 32 per cent of its gas and coal breakdowns.

The Australia Institute’s Gas & Coal Watch initiative finds that Victoria is home to the most unreliable gas and coal power stations in the country, largely due to the states’ three brown coal plants—particularly Loy Yang A and Yallourn W.

Key points from the Gas & Coal watch:

  • Victoria is responsible for around 20 per cent of the National Electricity Market’s (NEM) gas and coal capacity, but 35 per cent of its gas and coal breakdowns.
  • Victoria’s Loy Yang A and Yallourn W are the least reliable coal plants in the country, by number of breakdowns. 
  • Yallourn W is the least reliable coal plant in the country, by breakdowns per unit of capacity (GW) and Loy Yang A is the second least reliable.
  • Loy Yang A’s Unit 2 is the worst performing unit in the National Electricity Market, with 10 breakdowns recorded by Gas & Coal Watch

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AGL recently reported an outage at Unit 2 at Loy Yang A may extend for seven months.

Director of The Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program Richie Merzian says The Australia Institute’s Gas & Coal Watch shows Victoria’s coal power plants are responsible for the highest number of breakdowns in the country, putting the state’s electricity supply at serious risk.

“It’s worrying that Victoria’s heavy-polluting coal plants already struggle to consistently supply the state and climate change will only increase the difficulty with more days of extreme heat and higher demand,” Mr Merizan says.

“Across the national grid, Victoria’s aging coal-fired power stations are the most likely to fail and Victorians felt this first-hand in January this year when many were forced into blackout.  

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“It is unsurprising Loy Yang A has taken Unit 2 offline for over half a year given it is the least reliable unit in the entire national grid and other Victorian coal plant units aren’t far behind.

“Solar power has consistently stepped up as gas and coal plants failed. While coal becomes less reliable in the heat, on hot days Australians can count on solar power for a consistent supply of electricity.

“It’s time for Victoria to expedite the transition to clean energy and that means shutting down its brown coal fired power stations over the next decade.”

Read the full findings from The Australia Institutes’ Coal & Gas Watch here.