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Australian government greenlights 660 MW gas power plant

Australia’s federal government has finalised plans to invest A$600mn ($464mn) in a new 660 MW gas-fired power station in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales (NSW). The funds to build the facility were allocated to the government-owned firm Snowy Hydro Limited in this year’s national budget.

The country’s Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister, Angus Taylor, has claimed the plant will be needed to replace capacity that will be lost when the nearby 2 GW Liddell coal-fired power station is closed in 2023. Taylor also said in a recent speech that outages at several black coal plants served as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for life without Liddell. 

During the outages, the Tomago aluminium smelter – the largest single electricity user in Australia – was forced to close down due to a supposed lack of power. Government economic modellers have also suggested that electricity prices could rise by nearly one third once Liddell is closed. 

However, energy sector experts have argued that a new gas plant is polluting, uneconomical and will not be necessary to meet demand in NSW. ‘Building a new gas power station in NSW will raise electricity prices for residents and businesses, not lower them,’ says Andrew Stock, a spokesperson for the Climate Council, a leading climate communications group. ‘Gas is expensive and gas peakers that rarely run need to drive up prices to get a return.’

According to an environmental impact statement submitted to the NSW government in April, the new gas plant is expected to run at only 2% of its full capacity on an annual basis, filling gaps at times of high demand. The federal government has claimed that the gas plant would create up to 600 jobs in the construction phase, and support 1,200 local jobs in the longer term.

News Item details

Journal title: Energy World

Countries: Australia -

Subjects: Gas fired power stations

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