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WA’s Muja coal power station ready for “gold watch”, says Solar Council

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Western Australia’s aged Muja Power station has been targeted by solar industry and green groups this week, as a symbol of the state’s old and inefficient energy order, and the need for cleaner, smarter power generation technologies on the state’s sprawling and unsustainable grid.

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The Australian Solar Council along with the Conservation Council and Western Australians for Lower Power Prices on Friday morning presented plant in the state’s south-west with a large retirement gift – a massive gold watch – along with the message that the time for centralised coal-fired power had passed.

Indeed, the troubled coal-fired power station is one of the state government’s more disastrous fossil fuel re-investments, after its 2009 decision to refurbish the 30-year old plant blew out by $308 million, due to a botched joint-venture deal and corrosion problems.

Then, in November last year, the wall of the 30-year-old Unit 7 tower attached to the Muja CD plant collapsed, prompting calls for a major safety audit of the Synergy-operated facility, and pushing costs out a further $4 million.5927326-3x2-700x467

As we have noted many times on RE, WA’s electricity market is unsustainable, thanks to a government history of throwing subsidies at fossil fuel generation to the point that it has squeezed out competitive and efficient renewable technologies.

But if the government and their networks have been slow to shift to renewables technology, consumers are making up for it. As was reported here this week, the immense popularity of residential solar in Western Australia has essentially made it the state’s largest power generating unit, according to research by Curtin University.

“Muja AB power station has served WA well for 50 years, but it’s time for it to retire,” said John Grimes, CEO of the Australian Solar Council, in comments preceding Friday’s Cleaner, Smarter, Affordable Power Forum in Perth.

“It was dragged hastily out of retirement in 2008 and is now one of Australia’s oldest, most inefficient and polluting power stations. Its refurbishment has cost WA taxpayers more than $300 million and it’s standing in the way of investment in solar and clean energy.”

“It’s time to thank Muja AB for its service, give it a gold watch and let it retire in peace and comfort,” said Grimes.  

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  • FeFiFoFum

    It really is time for the state govt to come clean on this misadventure with Muja AB , shut it down and cut their losses.

    Why hide behind a seperate entity that operates this obsolete plant when we know it belongs to Synergy/Verve.

    Google ‘Vinalco’ and more bad press will be revealed.

    It needs to be shut down and demolished.
    Make the newly vacant land available for a clean energy power generator such as solar PV.

  • Zvyozdochka

    Poor ‘ol Collie-basin. Water-tabled completely borked by Muja and friends.

    You can’t grow a tree down there now.

    • Chris Drongers

      Incorrect. Salt in the streams was caused by clearing the upper catchment for agriculture which increased recharge as crops use less water than trees. Increased amounts of water going deep into the profile add to watertables and groundwater pressure which raises pre-existing salt water to the level where it now reaches the bottom of creeks and gullies and discharges.

      Pumping from the Collie Basin in the higher rainfall area has lowered watertables locally but as trees don’t use watertables (their roots die in saturated soil) the increase in unsaturated soil volume may have improved conditions for trees in some areas.

      There is competition between industries and economic sectors for available freshest (this is WA so it is seldom fresh except in the high rainfall forest areas) water in the water table and streams but that is not directly related to the growth of trees.

      • wideEyedPupil

        paperbarks like to get their feet wet.

      • Zvyozdochka

        The two most recent coal powered stations in Collie were nearly (and should have been) denied on their water consumption.

        Coal mining and the associated power stations have lowered the Collie Basin water table by many metres.

        I’m not referring to the salt impact.

  • JeffJL

    The bigger story to come out of the forum (yes I was there) was the increase in gas costs for the grid and what that will do to the price of power.

    I do hope that Sophie is just chasing down the energy minister about that and will have a second report coming soon.