Victorian Coal-Fired Power Generation at Record Low

New research shows that coal-fired electricity generation is on the decline across the National Electricity Market (NEM), particularly in Victoria where the continued shut down of the Loy Yang A power station has put Victorian coal generation levels at their lowest since the National Energy Market commenced 21 years ago.

The Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program has released their latest National Energy Emissions Audit, analysing the electricity sector over the previous month.

Key Findings:

  • Total annual electricity generation from coal peaked nationally in January 2009, since then: black coal generation has dropped 9%, brown coal generation has fallen 41%, gas generation has increased by only 3% and overall generation has fallen 9%.
  • Victorian coal generation is at its lowest levels since the start of the National Electricity Market 21 years ago, mainly due to the closure of Hazelwood and several smaller stations and, at present, to the continued unavailability of unit 2 at Loy Yang A. 
  • During August, September and October 2019, new wind and solar generation from both grid-scale and rooftop, reached new record monthly levels.
  • On 26 October 2019, total renewable share hit a high of 47.3% of NEM generation for a thirty-minute period. 

“Australia’s coal fleet is ageing and requires more and more ‘sick leave’ – with power stations like Loy Yang A in Victoria continually out of action,” says Dr Hugh Saddler, energy expert & author of the Audit.

“Since coal generation peaked nationally across the NEM in 2009, coal-fired power has fallen dramatically, gas generation has remained about the same and renewables have almost completely filled the gap.

“Australia’s three pumped hydro facilities are being used more often, which will only continue to increase with scheduled ownership changes and expansion plans.

“Of all the seasons, more electricity is used is during the winter months, but its during summers that peak demand is most concerning, and that will continue to be a consideration this summer, especially in the absence of an agreed national climate and energy strategy.”

“With Australia anticipating a summer of unprecedented heat, it is likely that Australia’s coal fleet will struggle once again to provide reliable electricity generation to the NEM” says Richie Merzian, Climate and Energy Program Director The Australia Institute.

“Last week, COAG Energy Ministers could have considered a long overdue climate and energy strategy to deliver the affordable, reliable and low emissions electricity most Australians want and deserve.”

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