South Australia blackout a reason not to make a hasty transition from coal, says AGL Energy

By @vitthernandez on
Coal Shipment
Port workers load a ship with coal at the RG Tanna Coal Terminal located at the town of Gladstone in Queensland, Australia, June 12, 2015. Reuters/David Gray/File Photo

The power outage in South Australia on Wednesday that left 1.677 million residents without electricity is a strong argument against a sudden abandoning of coal use for energy in Australia. AGL, the largest generator in the national electricity market, says SA’s experience is a point against piecemeal state-based renewable schemes.

While AGL was holding its annual general meeting on Wednesday, there were protesters outside the company challenging AGL to exit fossil fuels sooner. Jerry Maycock chairman of AGL, says it is hard to imagine the company stopping the use of coal by 2025 because of the enormous amount of money needed as investment, reports The Australian.

AGL operates Loy Yan A power station in Latrobe Valley in Victoria which uses brown coal. It also owns the Liddell and Bayswater power stations in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. Maycock has promised to close its coal-fired plants by 2050.

He says the challenge facing Australia was to find an orderly transition away from carbon-based generation. He warned the stakeholders at the meeting, “Blind Freddie can see that a disorderly and an unduly hasty transition will create chaos.”

The chairman cites the experience of SA in July when the state, which relies heavily on wind power, was hit by massive price increases and threatened to shutter the Olympic Dam mine, Arrium and Adelaide Brighton Cement of mining giant BHP Billiton.

ABC says SA’s focus on renewable energy appears to have created the perfect storm for Wednesday’s state-wide blackout. According to SA Premier Jay Weatherill, severe weather destroyed a transmission tower which caused the power system to protect itself with a shutdown.

But while the weather event damaged infrastructure in the Port August area, Weatherill says SA’s energy generation assets remain intact. He says there seems to be no damage to the interconnector with Victoria. He assures power would be restored but what is unsure is the number of hours it would take the state government crew to do that.

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Source: Journeyman Pictures

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