Can Australia Shift Its Electricity Generating Sources to Meet 2030 Commitment?

Coal-Fired-Power plant

Credit: Creative Commons/ Raimond Spekking

During the Paris Agreement, Australia has unanimously joined hands in reducing the global warming by limiting the temperature well below 2 degrees Celsius.  Australia has been and is one of the most coal-dependent countries in the world; it was the fourth-highest coal producer in the world in the year 2009. Until very recently in Australia electricity generation was mainly sourced from the coal-fired power plants. In the year 2007, Australia was among the top polluting nations in the world. The CO2 emission per capita in Australia was 18.2 tons whereas in EU during the same time period was.9 tons. The main contributor to such an exorbitantly high emissions level was the coal-fired electricity generators there.

Many developed nations during the Paris agreement agreed to control the climate change y way of reducing greenhouse gases emissions.  Australia was one of them and it has started taking  firm steps towards implementation of it.  This mean closing down of its age-old coal-fired power plants which are very badly polluting power stations. For example, the Hazelwood plant having  a generating capacity of 1.5 gigawatts, which accounts for 5.4% of Australia’s electricity supplies – is one of the most polluting power stations in the world. French energy giant Engie is considering closing Hazelwood brown coal power station as part of this partly French government-owned company’s global shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources in an attempt to assist the reduction of global warming effects. Alinta  Energy to shut Port Augusta power plants amid losses on supply glut, environmental causes, and heavy losses.

Swanbank Power station Queensland Australia

Credit: Creative Commons / Cmdalgleish

There are news coming in from Australia of closing down ageing coal-fired power plants which have been the major electricity producers and major polluters too. The replacement of these fossil fuels/ coal fired plants  with renewable energy sources can be easier, quicker and cheaper than many people think because the modern  technologies required – solar photovoltaics (PV), wind power and pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) – have become quite affordable and are available.

PV and the wind are variable energy sources, as they are nature dependent, wherein coal, fossil fuel and nuclear are fixed type. It is hence accepted worldwide that these fixed energy producing power stations cannot be completely abolished.

Another major factor in the closing of these age-old coal power plants will be the job cuts leading to unemployment. If we take an example of Hazelwood coal-fired power station closure, it will directly make 550 people jobless and the future employees of 300 contractors fully dependent on it will be affected. Also, will be significant direct costs involved with closing Hazelwood power station, such as site clean-up. So much and so on will be the case of other coal-fired power stations in the country.

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