In March 2018, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) sent Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg their assessment of whether AGL’s plan would meet our future energy needs.
AEMO’s analysis shows that an additional 850 MWs of resource capability are required to ensure reliability in NSW following the closure of Liddell. If all three stages of the AGL plan are completed, the resource gap will be eliminated.
In its current state, Liddell is more likely to be the cause of a power emergency because of what AEMO describes as the potential for ageing coal generators to fail in the heat – during the 2016-17 summer heatwave, Liddell was missing 1,000MW of its capacity due to problems with boiler tube leaks.
The Government and the ACCC
the confident assertions on the Liddell Power Station by the ACCC Chairman Rod Sims remind me of the surgeon having completed a brilliant operation to save the sight of an elderly patient — he removes his mask, smiles and acknowledges the admiration of his team when a junior nurse puts up her hand and says rather apologetically, “But Sir, the patient has died”.
There are economists on the ACCC Board who would have been expected to review the full life-cycle costs of coal before Mr Sims made his statement. Did they ignore or were they unaware of the work of eminent Yale economist William Nordhaus? Nordhaus demonstrated, using full cost accounting of all externalities, that coal now has no value to the community — work confirmed by other groups of economists.
Indeed coal is the most expensive energy modality apart from nuclear energy. It requires exceedingly good discipline by the government to do a “John Cleese” and not “mention the war” – the war being the word “health” – for to do so would undermine the ideology that coal is “good for humanity“.
The energy giant AGL is continuing to push back against Federal Government pressure to keep its Liddell power station open beyond 2022.