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NSW can end its coal power by 2030: Kean

NSW can stop using coal power by 2030 and meet a UN deadline for greater action on climate change, the state’s energy minister Matt Kean said.

A UN timetable this week stated Australia had less than 10 years to shut its coalmines and find new jobs for workers as pressure escalated for the nation to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

UN assistant Secretary-General Selwin Hart said the goal to keep future warming below 1.5C within reach required “the ­urgent global phase-out of coal”.

While coal contributed nearly 70 per cent of the state’s current electricity supply, Mr Kean said NSW could reach the goal.

“We absolutely can meet that target. We have the biggest renewable energy plan that’s been legislated in the nation’s history right here in NSW. That means as our coal-fired power stations come to the end of their lives over the next decade, they’ll be replaced with renewables,” Mr Kean told ABC Radio on Friday.

The NSW minister last week said coal plants could be tipped out of the electricity market earlier than planned as solar increasingly undercut profitability.

AGL Energy’s Liddell will exit in the 2022-23 summer while Trevor St Baker’s Vales Point coal plant and Origin’s Eraring station in the state are due to start closing units later in the decade from 2029. Coal facilities are increasingly having to switch off during daytime hours when high solar supplies undercut them on price.

Still, a slew of more modern plants are scheduled to run well beyond 2030 including AGL’s Bayswater to 2035 and EnergyAustralia’s Mt Piper until 2042.

The NSW government has previously promised to incentivise the replacement of all coal-fired power plants with renewable energy by 2042 and hopes to attract $32bn in private investment over the next decade.

Big energy producers and users have raised fears over a plan by the NSW government to underwrite investment in renewable and storage generation, saying the move would distort market signals and detract from a national approach under way.

Still, two of the world’s biggest batteries worth a combined $1bn will be built at the sites of NSW coal plants in a move to ease strains in the power grid and provide back-up for renewable energy generation.

Origin Energy plans to develop a giant 700 megawatt battery at Eraring, Australia’s largest coal-fired power station, while France’s Neoen is preparing a 500MW battery stack dubbed the Great Western Battery Project at Wallerawang, home to the former EnergyAustralia coal station.

Mr Kean also announced the NSW government would not appeal a court ruling that ordered the NSW Environmental Protection Authority to safeguard against climate change.

Bushfire Survivors For Climate Action took the EPA to the Land and Environment Court, arguing the authority had failed to stop pollution with greenhouse gases. Justice Brian Preston ruled the EPA should “ensure environment protection from climate change”.

Source: The Australian