Carbon Price Signals Early End To Hazelwood Power Station?

Hazelwood Power Station in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria has the dubious distinction of being one of the filthiest coal-fired power plants in the world. Australia’s carbon price may be the final nail in its long-prepared, but yet to be occupied coffin.
    
As part of the push towards de-carbonising Australia’s economy, the Government is looking to negotiate the closure of up to 2000 megawatts of emissions intensive coal-fired electricity generating capacity. It says this will allow new investment in cleaner electricity generation capacity.
    
Environment Victoria has been campaigning for Hazelwood’s closure since 2005, believes this initiative should finally see the replacement of the ageing power station; which relies on the filthiest of fossil fuels – brown coal – to generate power. This single power station spews around 16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere each year – around 3 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas output.
    
“Retiring 2000 MW of brown coal generation will reduce Australia’s greenhouse pollution from brown coal by around 20 million tonnes every year. We’ll be working to ensure the replacement of Hazelwood well before the 2020 deadline for retirement of 2000 MW of brown coal,” says a statement on the group’s web site.
     
The Victorian Government has blasted the Gillard government, saying it  “intended to shut down the Latrobe Valley’s brown coal generators, which will immediately cut the number of jobs in the Latrobe Valley.” The Victorian Government believes it will also create a different sort of power vacuum – not enough electricity being generated. Hazelwood currently provides around a quarter of the state’s electricity needs.
     
However, according a report on the ABC, Environment Victoria says there is plenty of time to be building new renewable energy power stations and combined cycle gas stations. The group points out there are already 3,000 megawatts of renewable energy projects approved in Victoria, along with thousands of megawatts of gas projects in the pipeline; all of which could be built in two to four years.
    
Image credit: Simpsons Fan 66