Coal still dominant Australian energy source

Image credit: Whitehaven Coal

Australia’s coal generation fleet recorded its fourth-highest summer availability for the past decade in 2017-18, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) Summer 2017-18 operations review.

Coal-fired power generation produced more than 76 per cent of large-scale power generation in the National Electricity Market (NEM) between December 1 and April 30, with the next highest being gas at just under 10 per cent.

The dominance of coal as a reliable source of energy over summer was most noticeable in New South Wales, where it delivered 89 per cent of power. In Queensland, coal produced 85 per cent and in Victoria 82 per cent.

Minerals Council of Australia executive director – coal, Greg Evans, said coal was also able to compete as a future energy source in Australia.

He added that recent claims made regarding the economic viability of new coal-fired high efficiency, low emission (HELE) plants were not accurate.

“Claims that HELE coal is not flexible and can’t operate in a grid with renewable energy are also wrong,” Evans said.

“For example, the Neurath plant in Germany can ramp up and down by 500MW in 15 minutes and modern coal-fired power plants can turn down to 20 per cent of full output.”