As the great temples to the worship of coal slowly close, it is obvious that we have gone back in time and once again worship the sun. Ra would be impressed. In Australia, a report by Energy Resource Insights declares that coal-fired power stations in Queensland will close decades earlier than planned, or 2 to 3 times faster than previously expected. Their demise will be aided by the rapid increase in solar and wind farms throughout the state.
As David from the Wide Bay Burnett Environment Council states: “To borrow a phrase, I’m also still ‘getting my head around’ the encouraging results of some research co-commissioned by Queensland Conservation Council. Whereas we’ve all been expecting Tarong and Tarong North power stations to continue burning coal until 2037, with the change of federal government there is more likelihood they’ll close as early as 2027.”
The Queensland Conservation Council media release on the matter is here.
“Other possible closure dates include Callide B brought forward by 3 years to 2025, Kogan Creek brought forward by 14 years to 2028, Gladstone brought forward by 5 years to 2030, Stanwell brought forward by 13 years to 2033, Callide C brought forward by 12 years to 2039, Millmerran brought forward by 9 years to 2042,” David adds.
Unfortunately, these shutdowns will not give us the climate relief and stable sea levels we need. It appears that they are motivated primarily by economics, as more and more solar and wind farms enter the grid producing electricity at ridiculously low prices. The added benefit will be that less water will need to be diverted to coal-fired power stations. This is a good thing for the environment.
All through the Queensland winter, records are being broken for solar output. As I sit at my computer this sunny spring morning, about half of our electricity is already being produced by solar. Wind isn’t yet playing a big part.
Queensland has a stated goal of being 50% powered by renewables by 2030 and this news is a great step in the right direction. Though, it is not quite as ambitious as it needs to be to meet the IEA goal of closing all coal-fired power stations by 2030, in line with the Paris agreement.
Like the Beatles, I’ll follow the sun.
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