For several years, the government of Australia has continued to support its coal-fired thermal power plants sector despite the massive opposition from environmentalists owing to the carbon-intensive nature of the plant. Though the country has started taking efforts to improve the its carbon footprint on the globe by encouraging developments across the renewable energy sector, it still derives 76% of its total power consumption volumes from coal-fired thermal power plants. The country is also one of the world’s leading coal producers and the coal-fired power generation industry in the country employs nearly 35,000 people.
The reason that Australia puts forward for supporting its decision to continue favoring the coal-fired power sector is that coal can ensure secure and cheap energy for the country. However, the argument that coal is cheaper and secure than renewables is now becoming harder to maintain for the country.
A recent report explains how replacement of the coal-fired Liddell plant in New South Wales with renewable power can not only bring down the carbon footprint of the country but also reduce the burden of electricity cost for the country by at least A$1.3 bn. This could happen if the country decides to shut down the plant in 2022 as was planned than its plan to keep it open for another five years post that.
The report was published by the Institute for sustainable Futures, University of Sydney and was commissioned by the Conservation Foundation of the country, ACF. It states that the Liddell project can be replaced by a mix of solar thermal power, wind energy, bioenergy, and solar battery storage, along with the implementation of energy efficient, demand response and flexible pricing measures. This could reduce CO2 emissions from the energy production sector in the country from over 40 mn tonnes every year to null.