19 April 2018
The aged Liddell power station is not a reliable source of power and the Turnbull Government should drop the pretense that it is.
The Turnbull Government has been trying to strong arm AGL into extending the operating life of Liddell on the basis that it provides reliable and “dispatchable” – or on demand – power.
But Liddell’s operating record shows that it cannot be regarded as a dependable source of power.
The Liddell power station was built to last 25 years: It is now 47 years old and will be more than 50 years old by the time it is closed in 2022.
The power station is beset by corrosion, erosion and metal fatigue. During the high temperatures in February 2017, when NSW ran out of power, two of its four units were not operating because of boiler tube leaks.
Liddell rarely operates with all four units running – just 18.5 per cent of the time. The amount of time it operates all four units at levels of 400MW (their capacity is actually 500MW) is just 0.44 per cent of the time.
AGL announced in 2015 and reaffirmed in late 2017 that Liddell will close in 2022.
AGL has also said that the electricity Liddell produces will be replaced with a combination of renewables, high efficiency gas peakers, battery storage and demand response combined with upgraded coal power at Bayswater and the conversion of generators at Liddell into synchronous condensers. The feasibility of a pumped hydro project in the Hunter region is also being explored by AGL.
AGL announced this plan after determining that extending the life of Liddell would come at significant cost and lead to more expensive energy for consumers.
Since this announcement, there have been repeated efforts by the Liberals and Nationals to try and force AGL to keep Liddell’s coal-fired power generators open for a further 5 years, or for AGL to sell it to another company that would do so.
Labor Leader in the Legislative Council and Shadow Minister for Energy, Adam Searle MLC today said:
“The Liberals and Nationals are trying to bully a private company into following its ideological agenda.
“Instead of blustering about keeping Liddell open, the Federal Government should be encouraging AGL to invest in new generation in the Hunter Valley. This will create jobs and be good for the local economy.
“The NSW Liberals and Nationals privatized the power stations and when they did so they gave away the right to decide how that asset is operated or used in the future.
“It is up to AGL to decide how it invests. Corporations will make their own investment decisions and it is pathetic to see Frydenberg trying to tell AGL what it should do with its investors’ money.”