Liddell shutdown to put “green energy” system to the acid test

Apr 13

Posted by Editor, cairnsnews

The shutdown of Liddell coal-fired power station, one of the mainstays of Australia’s energy supply, could trigger another energy crisis this winter because of foolish green ideology. The chart below gives a live energy use picture across Australia around 7.30am on April 13. Note the dominance of coal and gas. Bayswater power station is in the distance.


AT the time of this article being written, the three remaining units in 1680 megawatt Liddell Power station near Musswellbrook, NSW, were due to be turned off in just 14 days as autumn and winter set in.

Last winter, during a low-wind deep freeze, the Australian east coast suffered blackouts and energy shortages, but this year we will face winter with an estimated 1200MW less capacity – the remaining official Liddell feed in.

In fact Liddell had 2000MW capacity before one generator was shut down last year. It is one of the 24 so-called “dirty” power stations in Australia that keep our cities and towns functional – especially during those peak-load periods at the start and end of working days when stoves, heaters, coolers, TVs, computers, fridges, factory tools and numerous other things we take for granted fire up or shut down.

The new Labor NSW Energy Minister Penny Sharpe admitted to the Daily Telegraph that “NSW is facing serious energy challenges in coming years”. That’s because the previous NSW Liberal Environment Minister Matt Keane, like other dizzy-headed greenie politicians around Australia, was all for cutting off reinvestment in coal and running Liddell into the ground. South Australia’s lefty loonies led the way by shutting down and demolishing their three coal fired plants by 2017.

While trumpeting their wind and solar farms and Tesla battery, South Australia suffered serious blackouts in 2016 that ruined millions of dollars worth of chilled and frozen food. Power prices rocketed, making some manufacturing like plastics recycling uneconomic. Even then, the state was still heavily reliant on natural gas and diesel generators providing 1816MW for general supply.

As the live Australian energy generation chart at 7.17am EST shows, South Australia was running mostly on gas at sunrise on April 13, with windy conditions providing some 290MW from the state’s large wind farms.

Victoria plans to shut their giant Loy Yang A and B stations by 2032 and as we previously reported, the state with the biggest gas reserves is strangling that supply by bowing to the lunacy of Bandt and his Greens and causing consumer prices to skyrocket.

There are now 79 operating solar farms spread out across Australia with 22 more under construction. These 79 locations provide only 12% of the renewable energy supply when working, while only 24 “dirty coal” power stations supply 71% of Australia’s electricity supply, regardless of weather and time of day. In 2021 so-called renewables, which include hydro and rooftop solar, supplied 29% of Australia’s total generation.

On April 11th at about 7.45am, according to the live supply and demand figures, NSW coal and gas provided 5344MW of the state’s generation (4948 + 396), while wind provided 417MW and solar 386MW. Therefore wind and solar provided 15.02% of the state’s generation during the autumn morning peak hour in fine conditions. The solar share increased rapidly with the morning progressing – again, depending on weather conditions. Two days later around 7.30am, that same calculation was 14.35% from wind, hydro and solar.

On a rough estimate, it would take three times the present number of solar farms spread across Australia to provide just 36% of current renewable generation. In 2019, all of the 16 operating solar farms then operating across NSW provided in total just over half of the output of Liddell’s 2000MW. So when Liddell goes offline in a couple of weeks, this system is going to be seriously tested.

In fact, without gas, renewable energy would not be viable. Gas plants, which fire up much more quickly than coal, are essential to fill the gaps in a system with large amounts of wind and solar generation.

Yes, Australians get a pretty good supply of solar during the day – sometimes excessive amounts. But all that changes when the sun goes down or wind fades or wet weather sets in. Current battery technology is not able to store this energy at sufficient levels to replace coal and gas.

Built in 1971 for the NSW Electricity Commission, Liddell is Australia’s oldest and third biggest coal-fired power station. It was swallowed up in 1996 by Macquarie Generation, owned by AGL. In September 2014 the NSW government sold Liddell and its share of Macquarie Generation to AGL Energy.

When AGL announced it would close Liddell, then PM Malcolm Turnbull had enough sense to point out that its closure would leave a 1000MW gap in Australia’s generating capacity and urged it be kept open longer. AGL, driven by its largest shareholder Mike Cannon-Brookes, a committed greenie and very rich tech head, compromised and closed only one of the four generation units in 2022.

According to a government energy website, fossil fuels contributed 71% of total electricity generation in 2021, including coal (51%), gas (18%) and oil (2%). “The share of coal in the electricity mix has continued to decline, in contrast to the beginning of the century when coal’s share was more than 80% of electricity generation,” the website states. Note that it took 21 years for fossil fuel supply to decline only 9%.

What it doesn’t state is that the inroads made by renewables – 29% of total electricity generation in 2021 – was forced by (i) massive incentives paid to wind and solar investors (ii) disincentives to maintain coal fired generation and (iii) constant demonisation of coal via the big climate crisis lie.

What it also doesn’t mention is that the 29% of renewable generation is unpredictable and therefore is a lower quality of supply with wild price fluctuations. It also requires massive and costly amounts of new power infrastructure including transmission lines and batteries to link the dispersed elements of a renewable network as opposed to centralised coal-fired stations suppling state networks.

Increasing renewables has the additional effect of disrupting existing coal-fired power supply, making it more expensive, hence the soaring cost of electricity to homes and businesses. Of the total renewable supply, solar is 12%, wind 10% and hydro 6%. The share of renewable energy generation increased sharply from 24% in 2020.

Cannon-Brookes of AGL, said to be Australian’s wealthiest man due to his Atlassian tech company, harbours the delusion that AGL can deliver the “lowest priced electricity in the world” by going “net zero”. In other words, an energy supply completely devoid of coal, gas, oil and diesel. Only nuclear, with equivalent energy density to fossil fuels can provide that.

An energy system reliant on a network of wind and solar farms scattered across the country and offshore will only work when battery technology is able to store and provide the same or better volumes of energy currently supplied by fossil fuels.

Share this:

Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: