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Hazelwood’s closure shows industry and government must plan ahead for climate change


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More coal generators will close as Australia shifts to renewable energy, so there must be more plans in place to smooth the transition. When Hazelwood stops generating electricity this week, it will be the first Australian power station to close, at least in part, because of climate change. Hazelwood’s owner, French energy giant Engie, has said it is “making climate a priority” and has committed to retiring its most outdated coal plants worldwide. Hazelwood’s closure will bring the total to nine coal power stations in Australia that have retired in the last five years – including the Port Augusta power stations in South Australia, the Munmorah and Wallerawang power stations in New South Wales and the smaller Energy Brix and Anglesea power stations in Victoria. It’s a clear indication the global industrial transition from coal to renewable energy across the world has reached our shores. Like all such transitions, this one will involve a big upheaval for the affected workers, but never before has an industrial transition had so much else at stake. Never before has the end of one industry been so essential to the wellbeing of the rest of society. Burning coal for electricity accounts for a third of Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution. It is the country’s largest single source of carbon dioxide, and it’s likely to be the easiest to reduce – cutting climate pollution from more diffuse sectors such as transport and agriculture will be more challenging. Globally, the International Energy Agency identified phasing out inefficient coal power stations as a key plank in any effective global agreement on climate change. Domestically, the Australian Energy Market Operator has estimated we would need to close the equivalent of another five large coal power stations (a total of about 8700MW of capacity) by 2030 in order to meet even the Turnbull government’s manifestly weak climate targets. Targets more in line with keeping global warming under 2C involve closing one Hazelwood-sized power station each year from now on. While coal generators have been closing, they have not necessarily been closing in a way that serves local communities: the closures at those nine power stations in the past five years have given workers an average of just four months’ notice from announcement to turning off the boilers. For communities where coal is a large part of the regional economy, this is too little notice. But neither have they been closing in the best way for our climate. Economics has driven decisions. Unprofitable generators – the lame animal in the moving pack that is the National Electricity Market – have stumbled and fallen quite suddenly, but these power stations aren’t necessarily the worst or biggest polluters.

Read More: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/mar/29/hazelwoods-closure-shows-companies-and-governments-must-plan-ahead-for-climate-change#img-1

Posted by on Mar 29 2017. Filed under Renewable energy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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