Australia’s Coal Fired Clunkers Worse Than China’s


A new report from Australia’s Climate Council says the nation’s electricity is still largely generated by ageing, inefficient coal-fired power plants – and further delays to a shift to a low carbon future increases the likely risks and costs of transition.
Currently, 29% of all coal fired power stations in Australia are over 40 years old. By 2030, the proportion will reach 65%.
The third major report from the Climate Council says Australia produces more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of electricity than almost any other developed country – and even more than China. Australia ranks in the top ten of greenhouse gas emission offenders in relation to electricity and heat generation.
As it will likely be impractical and financially unfeasible to retrofit most of Australia’s old fleet of coal-fired power stations with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS); this provides a golden opportunity for renewables to come to the fore.
With gas prices continuing to increase, wind power is already competitive with new gas plants, even without CCS. The cost of renewables will continue to decrease too; with wind expected to be 20-30% cheaper by 2020 and solar PV halving in cost.
The Climate Council points out renewables have already cut the cost of electricity and the effect was most apparent during heatwaves in South Australia and Victoria this year when electricity prices were at least 40 percent lower than they would have been without the contribution of wind energy.
While Australia is the sunniest country in the world and one of the windiest, nationally it still has a very low share of renewable energy generation globally. 
“Competitive low emissions electricity is fundamental to long-term wealth creation and a healthy future for Australians,” says the report. 
“Urgent action is required to prepare Australia’s electricity sector for the near future – it takes over a decade to plan, design, finance, and build major new power infrastructure.”
Australia’s Electricity Sector: Ageing, Inefficient and Unprepared can be viewed in full here (PDF)