Liddell shutdown must prompt national renewable energy strategy: ACF

Australian Conservation Foundation rates parties in climate election scorecard.Australian Conservation Foundation

AGL’s decision to close the Liddell power station in 2022 sends a clear signal to the federal government that it must institute a national renewable energy strategy.

That’s the view of the Australian Conservation Foundation, which said the government has failed in its efforts to “strong arm” the company.

AGL announced Saturday it would close Liddell in 2022, despite government insistence the plant remain open until 2027.

ACF chief executive, Kelly O’Shanassy, welcomed AGL’s announcement. She said the Turnbull Government must drop its obsession with coal and end delaying tactics on climate change.

Independent analysis found extending Liddell for five years would cost $920 million.

Instead, the plant will be repurposed with a mix of renewables, gas and battery storage. This replacement generation would result in a levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of $83/MWh, compared to $106/MWh under the government’s plan.

The company also intends to explore the feasibility of a pumped hydro project in the Hunter region.

Liddell power station closure an opportunity to transition to renewable energy

Coal-fired power plants, such as Liddell power station, cause pollution.

Retirement of Liddell prompts calls for national renewable energy strategy. Source: Pixabay

Since 2012, the rise of wind and solar energy in Australia has contributed to the retirement of 10 coal-fired power stations. The absence of a coordinated energy policy preceding these closures has raised prospects of shortfalls in supply to the NEM.

ACF and the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures has released a study, Beyond Coal: Alternatives to Extending the Life of Liddell Power Station. It finds that replacing old coal power stations with smart, renewable technologies can save the economy billions of dollars and cut pollution.

A further nine coal stations are slated for retirement in the next 15 years. This means Liddell’s closure is an unprecedented opportunity to prepare for a transition to cleaner, renewable forms of energy supply.

Federal government should accept the inevitable

Ms O’Shanassy said AGL’s decision was proof that companies and state governments were taking the lead on energy supply.

“Keeping Liddell polluting for another five years was nothing more than a poorly informed thought bubble from the Prime Minister,” she said.

Ms O’Shanassy labeled the government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) an “undercooked policy that stifles clean energy”.

“Australia’s climate pollution is soaring,” she added.

“We must move to 100 per cent clean energy as soon as possible … Mr Turnbull cannot delay the decision any longer.”