Renewable Energy – Replacing Coal Power Capacity

Renewable Energy – Replacing Coal Power Capacity

The global commitment to combat climate change has never been more apparent. A significant part of this fight has been the gradual shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. So far, in Australia renewable energy has replaced 27% of coal power station capacity.

 The Retirement of Liddell Power Station: A Milestone

This year  the 1,680 MW Liddell Power Station was retired after a year-long transition, marking a significant moment in Australia’s energy landscape.
Since 2010, coal power station retirements have reached  7,940 MW. The progression of these closures are displayed in the table below.
As of today, 21,049 MW of coal power station capacity remains in operation. However, the retirements of these plants is a testament to the growing efficiency of renewable energy sources and we will continue to see significant closures in the next five years, including the closure of Australia’s largest Coal Power Station, Eraring. 
Coal Power Station Closures in Australia (2010-2023)

 The Rise of Wind and Solar

Generally speaking, the void left by coal power stations has been filled by new solar and wind, coupled with some storage. Though a few new gas power stations have been installed since 2010, the increasing adoption of solar and wind is notable. This progress is particularly remarkable considering that large wind and solar farm generation has only been cost-competitive since 2018.
It is important to remember and celebrate these achievements, as at times it feels like we aren’t making progress. However, this is big progress.

 Dispelling Myths: Solar and Wind as Viable Alternatives 

A common argument against renewable energy is that wind and solar is nice, but cannot truly replace dispatchable power capacity like coal power stations. However, the 7.9 GW retirement of coal power demonstrates that solar and wind are not just environmentally conscious, but practical and effective alternatives.

We understand that these closures create disruption in the local economy, but we hope that workers impacted by these closures will find jobs in the transition to a low carbon economy. 

The next phase of the grid transformation requires thoughtful planning and action. Integrating higher levels of solar and wind will necessitate increased storage. Although, recent analysis indicates that wind and solar alone can lead us a significant way towards a renewable grid, a topic that deserves further exploration in future discussions.

Although much work lies ahead, this is progress worth celebrating. As we continue to strive for a more sustainable future, these advancements reiterate that progress is not only possible but already well underway.