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Co-ordinated government response required as thermal generation declines

Today will not be the last time the closure of a fossil fuel generator is brought forward. It is why the Clean Energy Council says that there needs to be greater support and certainty for coal communities and industry as the phase-out of coal generation accelerates.

Ahead of the Federal Election, the Clean Energy Council urges the next Federal Government to establish a new authority with at least $1 billion funding to invest in transition initiatives in coal communities across Australia.

This authority would take the lessons from the Hazelwood Power Station closure and act to co-ordinate and leverage resources and capability across local government, unions, training providers, universities and regional development initiatives. Funding would allow them to support targeted investment in the transition and stimulate new economic and employment opportunities in these regions.

“Today’s announcement is a reminder that coal power stations will close faster and faster,” says Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton. “That means that every effort must be taken to accelerate the roll out of the wind, solar, storage and transmission that is needed to complete our shift to a modern electricity system.”

The clean energy transition is well and truly underway. In its Draft 2022 Integrated System Plan, the Australian Energy Market Operator predicts that renewables will have a 79 per cent share of the National Electricity Market by 2030, which involves the retirement of more than half of current coal capacity in the next eight years.

“The massive uptake of renewable energy is creating thousands of jobs, driving down power prices and resulting in a fundamental shift for Australia’s energy system. This is allowing more of our very old, expensive and polluting coal-fired power stations to close,” says Thornton.

The International Energy Agency’s roadmap to net-zero by 2050 report says the world must phase out all unabated coal plants by 2040, while the least efficient coal plants (which is most of Australia’s coal fleet) need to be phased out by 2030.

Twenty-four coal-fired power stations are operating in Australia, and approximately three-quarters of those are now running beyond their intended design life.

“By the time the next Federal Election rolls around, Liddell will have closed, and Yallourn will be a few years from closure, which is why policy decisions made at this election are critical,” says Thornton.

“International and Australian experience shows that proactive, planned approaches to industrial transition are likely to achieve far better economic and employment outcomes than reactive, emergency action after closures are announced.

“It is imperative that industry, government, unions and communities work together to manage this inevitable transition so that people and their communities aren’t left behind.

“There are enormous opportunities in the new energy world, but it requires leadership, planning and commitment to unlock and take everyone with us,” says Thornton.


For more information contact:

Jane Aubrey
Clean Energy Council Media Manager
[email protected]
+61 409 470 683