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Australia Considers Extending The Life Of Its Biggest Coal Plant

The biggest coal-fired power plant in Australia could see its operating life extended beyond the planned closure in 2025, the government of New South Wales said on Tuesday.

The Eraring Power Station, Australia’s largest coal-fired plant, is located on the shores of Lake Macquarie in New South Wales, approximately 120 kilometers (74 miles) north of Sydney and 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Newcastle. The station’s operator, Origin Energy, notified in 2022 the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) of the potential early retirement of Eraring in August 2025.

The station, which has been operating since 1984, comprises four 720 MW coal-fired generator units and one 42 MW diesel generator. This gives it an overall generating capacity of 2,922 MW and makes it Australia’s largest power station, which accounts for around 25% of New South Wales’ power requirements.

Australia plans to retire a lot of its coal fleet by 2033 and to bet on renewable energy, but it faces power shortages if it rushes the energy transition, analysts and AEMO have warned.

The New South Wales government said today that a recent electricity reliability check-up has found there will be reliability challenges for NSW in the next couple of years.

“The government will engage with Origin on its plans for Eraring, at the same time as pursuing all alternative solutions to deliver the renewable generation, transmission and storage solutions that NSW needs,” NSW said.
“The check-up makes it clear that the case for Origin Energy to extend its time frame for Eraring is there, as does the recent AEMO report on reliability,” NSW Minister for Energy, Penny Sharpe, said at a news conference.

AEMO’s most recent reliability report showed that a central scenario in the analysis found increased reliability risk.

“Over the 10-year outlook, we continue to forecast reliability gaps, which are mostly due to the expectation that 62 percent of today’s coal fleet will retire by 2033,” AEMO CEO Daniel Westerman said.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for