In 2018, The Australia Institute’s Gas & Coal Watch identified 135 major breakdowns at gas and coal power stations in the National Electricity Market (NEM), each one removing hundreds of megawatts of capacity from the system.
Gas and coal plants can break down in the heat, and older coal plants are particularly vulnerable. In addition, extreme heat drives high demand, meaning that the fossil fleet is most likely to break down at times when it is most needed.
The breakdowns at coal and gas plants in 2018 were not only at old coal power plants, but also at the newest gas plants and supercritical coal plants.
There were 74 breakdowns at black coal power plants in New South Wales and Queensland and 44 at Victoria’s brown coal plants. There were more black coal breakdowns overall, but more breakdowns at brown coal plants relative to capacity. There were also 17 breakdowns at gas plants.