Breaking it Down: Victorian Coal Power Plants Least Reliable in Aus

New research from The Australia Institute has revealed that Victoria’s ageing fleet of coal fired power stations are breaking down more often than power stations anywhere else in the National Energy Market (NEM), jeopardising energy security and pushing up prices.

Covering a two-year period from December 2017-2019, the report from the institute’s Gas & Coal watch program raises serious questions about the reliability of Victorian power stations, including through the extreme heat events of summer.

Key findings

  • ‘Loy Yang A’ and ‘Yallourn W’ coal plants in Victoria are the two worst performing power plants in the NEM, suffering 67 breakdowns between them.
  • Victorian gas and coal units account for over half the top 10 worst performing units in the National Electricity Market.
  • During 2019 there were two significant extended outages, at Loy Yang Unit 2 and gas-fired Mortlake power stations.
  • The Australian Energy Market Operator has warned that Victoria may face summer reliability issues due to ageing brown coal units and extended outages at coal and gas fired generators.

“Victoria’s unreliable brown coal clunkers are compromising Australia’s energy security and the bad news is that they’re not getting any younger,” said Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Director at The Australia Institute.

“During the harsh conditions of summer, energy demand increases but these old power plants cannot be counted on to maintain the reliability of supply and keep prices down.

“If Victoria experiences blackouts in the coming months, part of the cause is likely to be breakdowns and extended outages of fossil fuel power plants.

“The best ways to manage the grid and ensure reliability is to reduce peak demand and improve efficiency, both of which conserve energy when we need it most.

“Australia needs a credible climate and energy plan that transitions the electricity sector from ageing unreliable gas and coal power stations to a modern grid built around renewable energy, storage and demand side management.”

The full report, Fossil Fails in the Smart State, is available here

Related research