NSW’s retired Munmorah Power Station is one step closer to being relegated to Australian fossil fuel history, after the state owner of the former coal-fired plant issued a call for tenders to demolish it and rehabilitate the site.
Located on Lake Macquarie, around 130km north of Sydney, Munmorah Power Station was retired by Delta Electricity in 2012, 45 years after it was first commissioned in the 1960s to help meet the state’s rising electricity demand.
The move to actually demolish the site is significant, as many coal fired power stations have been mothballed, but not dismantled, because of the high rehabilitation costs, sometimes estimated to be as much as $200 million.
The decision by the NSW government-owned utility to close the plant – which was widely considered one of NSW’s oldest and dirtiest, and which had been on standby for two years already – was, at the time, blamed on the introduction of the days-old carbon tax.
But in an interview on ABC Radio, Delta chief Greg Everett said the carbon tax was “simply the final consideration” that put the question of closing the plant beyond doubt.
“Munmorah has been on reserve as a high cost power station with high fuel costs and high operations and maintenance costs,” Everett said at the time.
“Low electricity prices in the wholesale market (meant) we were not able to recover those costs, so it’s been on reserve waiting for demand to pick up.
“In fact what’s happened is that demand for electricity has been decreasing and there is no prospect that the power station will operate.
“Once you add a carbon price and our inability to recover all of that tax that was just a further burden that put beyond question whether we could operate at some time into the future on a cash positive basis,” he said.
Last July, Delta applied to the local Wyong Council for approval to demolish the plant and approval was granted in December.
The newly launched tender, which is open to offers until the end of the month, calls for “suitably experienced staff and expertise to assist Delta …in the development of a specification of works, tender evaluation and project management of the demolition of Munmorah Power Station and associated surrounding plant.”
There is still no suggestion of what the rehabilitated site might be used for in the future. May we suggest a mega-hybrid solar plant?