Australia’s coal power stations are not fit for purpose to power a 21st Century economy. The majority of Australia’s inefficient, ageing and polluting coal power stations are reaching the end of their operating lives, with at least eight expected to close over the next two decades (AEMO 2017c). These outdated power stations are increasingly unreliable, unsafe and struggle to operate in extreme weather conditions such as heatwaves (The Australia Institute 2018).
Building new coal power stations and extending the life of old coal power stations is extremely expensive. For example the cost of extending the life of the Liddell Power Station for an additional five years was estimated at $920 million (Australian Financial Review 2018). Furthermore, new coal power is the most expensive form of new power generation (BNEF 2017).
There is no such thing as “clean coal”. All coal power stations – old or new – cause greenhouse gas pollution. Coal power also emits toxic and carcinogenic air pollutants that are harmful to human health (Climate Council 2014). If Australia is to do its fair share to tackle climate change, no more coal-fired power stations should be built and no more coal deposits should be developed in Australia.
This report outlines why coal has no future in a modern 21st Century electricity system in Australia. The nation is transitioning to renewable energy and storage technologies that provide a clean, affordable and reliable supply of electricity to meet the needs of Australians 24/7.