The solar industry – and the changing dynamics of the Australian electricity market – has claimed its biggest victim yet, with the formal closure of the 1,000MW Wallerawang coal-fired power station in NSW.
Wallerawang “switched” the lights out and ceased generation on Monday is the biggest of a number of coal fired power stations that are being closed or mothballed because of the fall in demand and prices on the wholesale market.
This has mostly been caused by the proliferation of solar PV, the impact of energy efficient appliances and falling industrial demand — all of which are pushing down the cost of wholesale energy, making it difficult for older and less efficient generators to make money.
Others impacted include the Collinsville facility in Queensland, and two units from Tarong, along with the EnergyBrix facility in Victoria, Munmorah in NSW and the Playford B coal fired generator in South Australia. Its neighbouring Northern coal generator is operating only on a seasonal basis.
Soaring gas prices are adding to the problems of the gas fired generators, and various plant are being re-purposed as peaking plant rather than base load, and EnergyAustralia has written down the value of its Yallourn coal-fired generator and some gas generators.
Wallerawang, along with its larger and more modern neighbouring plant, the 1,400MW Mt Piper power station, was bought by EnergyAustralia for a combined figure of just $160 million in a deal announced in July.
Top image: Wallerawang Power Station, by Andy Mitchell via Wikipedia.
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