Discussion paper
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Fossil fails in the smart state 1.06 MB

Victoria’s ageing fleet of coal fired power stations are breaking down more often than power stations anywhere else in the National Energy Market (NEM). The Australia Institute’s Gas & Coal Watch found over a two-year period from 13 December 2017 to 31 December 2019, Victorian gas and coal power plants broke down 79 times (see Figure 1). This represents a little more than one third of all breakdowns in the last two years (there were 227 total breakdowns in the NEM.)

The poor performance of Victoria’s three brown coal power plants means Victorians suffer a disproportionately higher number of breakdowns compared to other states. Victorian gas and coal power plants make up 21% of NEM gas and coal capacity but deliver 35% of its gas and coal breakdowns.

Victoria hosts the two worst performing power plants in the entire NEM, ‘Loy Yang A’ and ‘Yallourn W’, suffering 67 breakdowns between them, on average almost three breakdowns a month. Each breakdown removed hundreds of megawatts of capacity from the system, sometimes for hours at a time.

Key findings:

  • ‘Loy Yang A’ and ‘Yallourn W’ coal plants in Victoria are the two worst performing power plants in the NEM, suffering 67 breakdowns between them.
  • Victorian gas and coal units account for over half the top 10 worst performing units in the National Electricity Market.
  • During 2019 there were two significant extended outages, at Loy Yang Unit 2 and gas-fired Mortlake power stations.
  • The Australian Energy Market Operator has warned that Victoria may face summer reliability issues due to ageing brown coal units and extended outages at coal and gas fired generators.
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