Transition plan to help with closure of coal-fired power stations

Smoke pours from chimney stacks at coal-fired power station (emissions trading)
Image: Shutterstock

A senate inquiry into the retirement of coal-fired power stations has recommended the Australian Government adopt a comprehensive energy transition plan to assist with the ordered closure of the nation’s power plants.

The interim report was released last night by the Environment and Communications References Committee and was chaired by Greens senator Larissa Waters.

“The age and declining economic potential of Australia’s fleet of coal-fired power generators, as well as Australia’s commitment to reducing its carbon emissions footprint in line with the Paris Agreement, means it is inevitable that many of these coal-fired generators will cease operations in the medium term,” Senator Waters said in the report.

“The question is not if coal-fired power stations will close, but how quickly and orderly these closures will occur, and what supporting policies, if any, will be in place to help manage the process.

“It is imperative that this reality is acknowledged by government, industry and the broader community.”

The committee handed down four recommendations.

As well as the energy transition plan, which includes a reform of the National Electricity Market rules, the committee recommended the government put in pace a pollution reduction objective consistent with the country’s obligations under the Paris Agreement.

It was also recommended the government develop a mechanism for the orderly retirement of coal-fired power stations, to be presented to the COAG Energy Council, and establish an energy transition authority, including a Just Transition for workers and communities.

Opposition climate change and energy spokesman Mark Butler said Australia needed a plan to transition into a renewable future.

“Industry needs certainly to invest, transition to clean energy and create jobs; workers need a plan that includes a just transition for them and their communities, and all Australians deserve to know their energy security and affordability is being looked after by a federal government that understands its job,” Mr Butler said.

“Under the Turnbull Government’s policy vacuum, there is currently no support for new renewable investment post 2020, there is no mechanism to ensure inevitable coal closures occur in an orderly way and there is no plan to support workers and communities impacted by closures,” Mr Butler said.

Coal-generated power makes up 60 per cent of Australia’s energy production, and employs thousands of Australian workers.


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