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Decarbonisation ‘reality’ for Asia-Pacific as Australian coal plant to close

Out-Law News | 18 Feb 2022 | 11:01 am | 1 min. read

Australia’s biggest coal-fired plant Eraring will close in 2025, seven years earlier than planned.

With 2.8 gigawatts (GW) generation capacity, the Eraring plant is operated by Origin Energy. The notice that the operator submitted to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) indicated the plant might be retired in August 2025 because “the influx of renewables has changed the nature of demand for baseload power”.

Yeap John

John Yeap

Consultant

The ability to significantly increase renewables in some of these Asian countries will be constrained by land and resource availability. Grid constraints will likely pose an additional challenge.

Renewables expert John Yeap at Pinsent Masons said: “The closure of Eraring is consistent with the closure or planned closure of similar plants in the Australian electricity market, a consequence of the scale of renewables now available on the system. There will be some interesting and useful lessons for countries in Asia looking to decarbonise. Unlike Australia, some of these Asian countries have relatively young fleets of coal fired power plants with long operational life remaining. Also unlike Australia, the ability to significantly increase renewables in some of these Asian countries will be constrained by land and resource availability. Grid constraints will likely pose an additional challenge.”

“Nevertheless, the direction of travel towards net zero means decarbonisation will be a reality for countries in Asia, and issues relating to just transition for people affected, the capacity of the network to absorb more intermittent generation, as well as the role of batteries and perhaps pumped storage to firm up intermittency, will all be issues that will need to be addressed in the coming years,” he said.

According to a statement by Origin, a large-scale battery will be installed at the Eraring site once the coal-fired plant closes.

Eraring is a black coal plant on the shores of Lake Macquarie. It has four units and started fully operational in 1984. Origin’s previous target was to close the plant at the end of its technical life in 2032.

Energy company AGL recently announced that it would move the closure of the Bayswater generator in North South Wales from 2035 to no later than 2033 and its brownfield-fired Loy Yang A plant in Victoria from 2048 to 2045.

In March 2021, energy generation company Energy Australia announced it would  close its Yallourn coal plant in Australian Victoria state in 2028 and build a 350-megawatt (MW) battery by 2026.