Loy Yang to shut doors by 2050

The Loy Yang power station would close by 2050 along with energy giant AGL’s other existing coal-fired generators, the company’s Greenhouse Gas Policy has confirmed.

Released on Friday, the new policy stated the company would close all coal-fired power stations in its portfolio by 2050 and continue to invest in new renewable and near-zero emission technologies.

Loy Yang employs 600 permanent workers, with a contracted workforce of several hundred.

While the company’s exact plan for Loy Yang remains unclear, the generator had been expected to continue operation until 2048.

Gippsland Trades and Labour Council secretary Steve Dodd said the union expected AGL to consult with workers, the community and relevant stakeholders over the Greenhouse Gas Policy.

“Anything from our perspective that threatens the operation of coal-fired power stations which provide a lot of employment, we have great concerns about,” Mr Dodd said.

“Our view is there is a future for brown coal in power generation, it’s something that provides employment in the region and we support its continued operation.”

Environment Victoria chief executive Mark Wakeham said it was a welcome acknowledgement of the fact that we need to decarbonise energy supply.

Mr Wakeham said it was good to have one of the larger power generators talking about reducing coal plants.

“It does feel a bit like a good intention in the distant future, like saying I’m going to give up smoking, but do it in the next decade,” he said.

“Hopefully it encourages conversations about policy measures to support closures for other power stations.”

In a media statement, AGL managing director and chief executive Andy Vesey said there would be a “measured process of decarbonisation” which he was “proud to spearhead”.

“It is important that government policy incentivise investment in lower-emitting technology while at the same time ensuring that older, less efficient and reliable power stations are removed from Australia’s energy mix,” Mr Vesey said.

“It will be an ongoing, progressive process, managing the efficient operations of our assets, and the transition of our people into new generation technologies and careers.”

AGL’s commitment includes:

-Continue to provide the market with safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy options.

-Not build, finance or acquire new conventional coal-fired power stations in Australia (without carbon capture and storage).

-Not extend the operating life of any of its existing coal-fired power stations.

-Close, by 2050, all existing coal-fired power stations in its portfolio.

-Improve the greenhouse gas efficiency of its operations, and those over which it has influence.

-Continue to invest in new renewable and near-zero emission technologies.