Liddell, the coal plant that “predates colour TV”, trips again

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Another week, another coal unit failure, this time at AGL’s Liddell plant – you know, the one the Turnbull government wants kept open to boost grid reliability.

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The National Electricity Market’s “summer of trips” continued this week, with a unit at AGL Energy’s Liddell coal power plant in New South Wales dropping out on Tuesday afternoon, and taking around 400MW of generation capacity with it.

The as-yet unexplained trip at the Hunter Valley coal plant was of the “sudden and unexpected” variety that do not wind up causing a blackout, which as Hugh Saddler explained here yesterday are actually quite common.

Indeed, they are particularly common for aged coal plants like Liddell, which – as The Australia Institute so deftly put it in its Tweet above – “predates colour TV in Australia.”

Of course, readers would note that this is the very same coal plant that state and federal Coalition governments argue should be kept open past its 2022 use-by date, when it will be 50 years old, to make the grid more “reliable.”

As we have reported, one of the plant’s four units have been out of action for most of the summer after broken turbine blades took unit 1 (420MW) out of the market in mid-December.

At that time, the number 2 unit at Liddell had not operated since early August, and was not expected to be back in service until somewhere between end of January to mid-February.

Liddell is expected to close in 2022, after AGL said it would cost nearly $1 billion to keep it open, without being able to guarantee that it could be counted on.

A mix of solar, storage, and possibly some gas plants – or the Coalition government has its way, Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro – is planned to fill the gap.

One 250MW solar plant, Maoneng’s Sunraysia project, has already been contracted by AGL, while Photon and Canadian Solar on Wednesday revealed they would co-develop 1.14GW of large scale solar projects in NSW to help fill the gap of ageing coal generators.

Sophie Vorrath

Sophie is editor of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and deputy editor of its sister site, RenewEconomy.com.au. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.

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14 Comments
  1. Dee Vee 11 months ago

    this is what happens when generators get rewarded if their equipment fails, instead of being penalised. You can bet your bottom dollar if AGL were told they would get a $100m fine every time one of their big generators failed, it would be properly maintained and would never fail!, Instead it fails and they get paid $15000 per m/w hour.

    • RobS 11 months ago

      I guarantee if that was put in place it would be closed within a month, the investment required to bring it up to that level of reliability would be far more than it’s worth to keep it open 4 more years

  2. Ren Stimpy 11 months ago

    Because your trips your trips are on my list
    Because your trips your trips I can’t resist
    Because your trips are what I miss
    When I turn out the lights

    • Joe 11 months ago

      ‘Hall & Oates’…. by any chance?

      • Ren Stimpy 11 months ago

        Coal & Oates

        • Joe 11 months ago

          Ha, ha, ha

  3. GlennM 11 months ago

    It will never make 2022….

    • Calamity_Jean 11 months ago

      Sounds like it will be lucky to make 2019.

      • mick 11 months ago

        it won`t if we can get rid of this pathetic excuse for a government

  4. trackdaze 11 months ago

    They will need to contract with wind,solar and battery to guarantee supply.

  5. Barri Mundee 11 months ago

    I’m sure the Coalition will blame renewables.

    • Steve159 11 months ago

      yep, and they’ll take the opportunity to have a dig at SA, and now Victoria as well.

      • mick 11 months ago

        yeah turbull had another shot at us and the neighbours (victoria) this morning us for climate policy them for fracking policy

  6. mushalik 11 months ago

    What was the AEMO Market Notice number for this Liddell trip event on 30/1/2018 at 15:30 NEM time? I couldn’t find it

Comments are closed.