Industry experts, doctors and community members have called on the New South Wales Government to avoid extending the life of the coal-fired Eraring power station at Lake Macquarie, as the state government considers its future.
Energy analysts say it would cost an estimated $200 million to $400 million per year* to support this high-polluting coal plant, money that should instead be invested in renewable energy projects.
The authors of two separate expert reports this year, Climate Energy Finance and Nexa Advisory have shown there are viable alternatives to keeping Eraring on life support. Analysts have identified actions the NSW Government can take now to increase the supply of renewable energy.
*Figure from Tim Buckley’s “The Lights Will Stay On” report
The following spokespeople are available for comments and interview today:
Stephanie Bashir Founder and CEO of Nexa Advisory
Location: Melbourne, Vic
Stephanie Bashir said: “We can close Eraring and other coal-fired power stations on time, if we act now and work fast. Our report highlights short- and long-term recommendations that, if implemented now, could accelerate the current slow build trajectory we are on and avoid the serious implications of delaying ageing coal power plants such as Eraring. We just need to be smarter.”
“Our Analysis clearly shows that if we take action to accelerate the current build rate of renewable generation, storage, and transmission we will get the job of the clean energy transition done on time, while consumers save money now and in the long term.”
“Rather than the state government committing hundreds of millions in public money to prop up expensive and unreliable coal-fired power stations, a better approach would be to accelerate the rate at which we deploy new clean energy resources. This would negate or minimise the need to extend the lifespans of coal-fired power stations, and leave energy users and the nation much better off in coming years,”
Tim Buckley, director of independent public interest think tank Climate Energy Finance, said:
Location: Sydney, NSW
Tim Buckley said: “Extending Eraring does not stack up. This would require the NSW government to pay at least $200-400m pa to its operator in public subsidies, money that should be urgently invested in the state’s energy transition.
Consistent with AEMO’s outlook, Climate Energy Finance’s July report, The Lights will Stay On, demonstrated that there are more than enough renewable proposals in the investment pipeline to replace Eraring’s capacity. It showed that NSW can stagger the closure of Eraring on time in 2025 and secure supply by continuing the current 1.2 GW of annual rooftop solar installs, and building 1.2GW pa of utility-scale wind and solar to 2030.
NSW Energy Minister Penny Sharpe should match the Federal program to support rooftop solar, storage and energy efficiency upgrades to 60,000 social housing homes with funding from the $1bn NSW Energy Security Corporation. She should also accelerate the rooftop solar and batteries rollout across 2,200 NSW public schools."
Amanda McKenzie, CEO Climate Council
Amanda McKenzie said: “The is no future for coal in NSW. Eraring is extremely polluting, as it ages it is increasingly costly and unreliable. The NSW Government has a strong plan that sets up NSW to be a renewable powerhouse creating thousands of jobs. Using public money to extend the life of a coal station is money up in smoke, it would be much better spent investing in the future, solar, wind and storage to power NSW for a generation.”
Dr Beau Frigault, Doctors for Environment Australia
Location: Gold Coast, Australia
Dr Frigalt said: “Extending the lives of coal power plants is completely contrary to what we need to do to limit our emissions, the funding required to keep Erarring open would be much better spent on investing in clean, renewable sources of energy. From the negative health impacts caused by increasingly severe heat waves and extreme weather events, to the maternal health issues that arise in communities around fossil fuel processing sites, these heavily polluting coal power plants need to be phased out as quickly as possible.”
Sam Mella, Beyond Zero Emissions
Sam Mella said: “We need to make clean energy investments now to make us fit for purpose for the future”
Peter Coughlan - Hunter Renewal volunteer
Location: Lake Macquarie
“My understanding is that there are alternatives to keeping Eraring open - the evidence is there that renewable energy can power our homes if we get on with the investment now. Why should we spend tax payer dollars propping up this ageing infrastructure when we don’t need it and there are health benefits to closing it?
We’ve already seen the health benefit of not having the output from Liddell power station which has immeasurably cleaned up the air up there, why not have the same benefits around the lake?
I’m all for getting on with the long term job and not propping up the coal industry. The community wants leaders to press ahead and get these changes happening. “
For interviews, please contact:
Sean Kennedy on 0447 121 378 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacqui Street on 0498 188 528 / email@example.com
For interviews with Amanda McKenzie, Climate Council, please contact:
George Hyde, Climate Council 0431 330 919 / firstname.lastname@example.org