Energy giant Alinta is threatening an early closure of one of Australia’s biggest coal-fired power stations, a move that is likely to put it on a collision course with the Federal Government
- Jeff Dimery, chief executive of Alinta, believes the company’s largest coal generator will close much earlier than its 2048 deadline
- He said the Government should “explore high-energy, low-emission coal-fired power and carbon capture and storage”
- Alinta currently doesn’t own any renewable projects but says it has funded the development of significant solar and wind farms
Speaking on The Business program, Jeff Dimery, the chief executive of Alinta, which owns a portfolio of coal and gas generators, said the low cost of renewables would likely make coal obsolete.
But the early closure of power stations has been met with fierce condemnation from the Federal Government.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor recently launched a taskforce to look at all potential impacts of AGL’s closure of the Liddell power station in New South Wales.
“What I see today in terms of reductions in cost structures for emerging technologies, or existing technologies for that matter, gives me every confidence that despite any policy hiccups or obstacles we see, the commerciality of these technologies will win out,” Mr Dimery said.
He believes the low cost and increasing reliability of renewables mean Alinta’s largest coal-fired power station, Loy Yang B, which supplies around a fifth of Victoria’s energy needs, will close much earlier than its 2048 deadline.
“I could see that happening,” he said.
Alinta closed its brown coal-fired Flinders power station in South Australia in 2015, years ahead of its scheduled shut down, because renewables in the state made it “uncommercial” to run.
“I see the same situation arising in Victoria, precisely when that is I don’t have an answer, I do know that right now it is critical to keep the lights on and keep energy affordable that Loy Yang B does operate, but that may well not be the case, whether that is in 10, 15 or 20 years I can’t be specific but I know it is going to happen.”
The comments came as executives from oil and gas giant Santos and global miner Glencore met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison to discuss the Government adopting carbon capture and storage as policy.
“I think it is prudent for a government to explore high-efficiency, low-emissions (HELE) coal-fired power, and carbon capture and storage,” Mr Dimery said.
“As things stand today and looking at the cost curve of renewables I think it’s going to find it very difficult to compete, however, I think it is worthwhile continuing to invest in researching those opportunities.”
He said that if he was to place a bet on what the best form of power generation will be in the future, it would not be coal.
“Given my 25 years of industry experience, I’d certainly be backing renewables, pumped storage and battery over HELE and carbon capture and storage.”
“I’m exceedingly optimistic about the future of the energy industry. There is a lot of gloom and doom and there is no doubt that the transition that we make to a low-carbon energy economy is going to have a few bumps and twists along the way.”
Alinta does not currently own any renewable projects but says it has funded the development of significant solar and wind farms, which it has off-take agreements with.
“We set ourselves a target of 1,000 megawatts of renewables to be either underwritten or developed over a five-year period, we’re easily going to eclipse that target and we’ve re-established another goal which is to increase that by a further 50 per cent over the next four to five years — and I am confident we will get there,” he said.