Liddell unreliable, renewables cheaper

Research from The Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program has found the Liddell power station to be a major contributor to the unreliability of the NSW grid.

53 breakdowns & failures of gas and coal generation have been tracked by the Climate & Energy Program’s Gas and Coal Watch between December 2017 and March 2018.

This includes:

  • Three breakdowns from the Liddell power station that saw 500 megawatts of capacity lost instantaneously and without warning.
  • Liddell also failed to deliver 1000 MW during the Feb 10 2017 heatwave, led to load shedding at Tomago aluminium smelter.

“Coal is unreliable. It is prone to break down in the heat,” Executive Director of The Australia Institute, Ben Oquist said.

“Our Gas and Coal Watch program uncovered 53 separate breakdowns and failures across coal and gas generators between December and March.

“It is not surprising that Liddell (built 1971-73) is unreliable, it predates colour TV.”

“Liddell is a major contributor to unreliability of NSW grid. It is part of the problem, not the solution.”

Liddell breakdown

“Renewables are now cheaper than coal. Even with additional costs associated with storage, the price of new build renewables out performs coal,” Oquist said.

Costs for new-build electricity generation:

Coal – $US 68* / MWh 
Wind – $US 55 (onshore)
Solar – $US 70 (large scale)
New HELE (ultra-supercritical) cost in Australia $AU 134-203

*global bench mark price from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, published March 28. 2018 (Australia about the average)

Media Enquiries

Anna Chang Communications Director

0422 775 161

anna@australiainstitute.org.au