No respite from Australia’s energy crisis looms as the country’s largest energy producer has revealed that many coal-fired power units will be out of production for a while.
the main points:
- AGL has revealed that the Victorian coal generator will be out of service for an additional two months
- About a quarter of the country’s coal-fired power generation units are out of action amid the cold snap
- This week, a crisis meeting of energy ministers convened to accelerate the transition to renewables
AGL Energy Limited today confirmed that the Loy Yang A2 unit in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, which went out of business in April, will not be repaired until “the second half of September”.
The company blamed “global supply chain issues and the availability of specialized materials” for extending the outage.
The AGL statement initially said the unit malfunctioned after an electrical failure in the alternator, but now the alternator rotor has failed to extend the repair time by at least two months.
Roughly a quarter of Australia’s coal-fired power capacity is offline, which includes about half of AGL’s coal-fired units in Victoria and New South Wales, just as a cold snap hits the East Coast.
Interruptions contribute to the crisis
At its Bayswater plant in Hunter Valley, NSW, AGL has confirmed that two units have been taken down to fix problems, while another unit remains out of service due to extended scheduled maintenance and will be back online in July.
A Bayswater Unit 2 spokesman said the Bayswater Unit 2 was retired on Wednesday “to fix a leak in a pipe and is expected to remain out of service for up to ten days.”
“Yesterday, a maintenance issue with the Bayswater Unit 4 boiler ash conveyor required the unit to be taken out of service for a few days,” the company said.
Consumers have been hit by soaring electricity prices and gas shortages, with this week’s new Labor government holding a meeting of state and federal energy ministers to discuss the issue.
This meeting resulted in a plan to protect the system and will also give the market operator more responsibility for supply.
The news of the outages comes as the new Snowy Hydro project has been hit by construction delays meaning it will not produce any electricity until the end of the decade.
“The most reliable power plant”
The Australian Institute’s Climate and Energy Program Director Richie Merzian said he was not surprised by the extension of the outage for Lui Yang A.
He called this power plant “the most unreliable power plant in the entire grid” and said AGL must do more to phase out coal-fired electricity generation and move to renewables.
“It was hurting people, especially in Victoria, who had a cold and everyone was relying on their warmth to keep warm.”
Greenpeace spokesman Glenn Walker said Australia’s transition to renewable energy needs to be expedited.
“The sooner we can introduce clean, cheap and renewable energy into the system, powered by batteries, the better the climate, the better for Australian families.”
Merzian said he was encouraged by this week’s meeting of energy ministers and also decided to speed up the transition to net carbon emissions.
“They agreed that they would come back in July and look at a plan for how to decarbonize the electricity sector,” he said.
“Finally, for the first time, we will have this kind of thinking [to] Make sure the right people are in the room, and we’re supporting communities along this journey.”