Hazelwood - the dirtiest power station in Australia - and beyond
Per unit of power generated, the Hazelwood power station has been measured to be the most carbon polluting power station in the industrialized world. It produces 17.0 million tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution every year - over 5% of Australia's total. That's so much carbon pollution that Kevin Rudd could meet his paltry climate change target overnight just by closing Hazelwood.
Hazelwood burns brown coal - one of the dirtiest and least efficient means of generating electricity. In also uses a staggering 27 billion litres of water every year - water that could be returned to the struggling Gippsland Lakes system.
Due to its excessive carbon emissions, the station was, in 1992, scheduled to be decommissioned in 2005.
Knowing this, International Power nevertheless bought Hazelwood in 1996 for $2.35 billion.
When the time came to close the power station in 2005, in a move which shocked environmentalists, the State government extended Hazelwood's life until 2031. This is a measure of the government's commitment to serious action on climate change.
Peter Batchelor, the Minister responsible for extending the life of Hazelwood, had the temerity to blame the Greens for his refusal to replace Hazelwood!
Having reaped this windfall, International Power still wanted more, and lobbied hard against energy efficiency measures.
Several different environmental groups have done the work on how we transition out of Hazelwood. There choices in doing this - including
- whether to use gas as an interim measure,
- which renewables to use,
- how much to pay for the alternatives, remembering that if you commission even more renewables, you can take advantage of economies of scale; and
- how long to allow for the replacement,
Spain already produces more solar power than the output of Hazelwood power station - twice as much. Hazelwood has a net output of 1.47 gigawatts. Madrid is further from the equator than Melbourne, but with the smart use of gross feed in tariffs to give incentives for renewable energy, Spain now produces 3 gigawatts of solar power - and growing.
Spanish solar arrays
What's missing at the moment is the starting point: a political commitment to get rid of the Hazelwood dinosaur.
- Hazelwood tops the international list
- Wikipedia on Hazelwood Power Station
- The Unfettered Self-Interest of International Power
- International Power's confidential submission to the Task Group on Energy Efficiency
- Solar Power in Spain - Wikipedia
- Replace Hazelwood - Environment Victoria
- International Power Australia - website of Australia's largest private power generator, and amongst its worst polluters