Energy in demand

The State Government has refuted claims the closure of the Latrobe Valley’s brown coal power stations will reduce national power supplies.

The Latrobe Valley’s power plants provide about 72 per cent of the state’s energy requirements but also contribute to the National Electricity Market, which services electricity to all states excluding Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Known as a ‘net exporter’, Victoria is the most interconnected in the NEM, supplying energy to other states rather than importing the majority of its power.

In the last financial year Victoria exported 4069 gigawatt hours to New South Wales, 1961GWh to South Australia and 622GWh to Tasmania, with Hazelwood contributing 5.4 per cent of Australia’s energy demand and Yallourn providing about eight per cent.

AGL Loy Yang’s NEM input percentage remains unclear.

Australian Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren said the Valley’s power stations “represent significant generating capacity in Victoria and the NEM” and their closure would impact the NEM and other states’ energy supply.

“Currently Victoria’s electricity generation can supply up to 25 per cent of maximum demand in South Australia. Closure of those plants may impair the amount of generation available to meet demand elsewhere in the NEM,” Mr Warren said.

A spokesperson for Victoria’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said it was not expected that a shift away from coal towards renewable energy – as part of a 40 per cent renewable energy target by 2025 – would impact exportation.

“Victoria’s renewable energy targets will be defined as the percentage of Victoria’s electricity generation that comes from renewable energy. This means that the volume of electricity exported would not necessarily change significantly,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the RET was expected to result in a greater proportion of Victoria’s electricity exports coming from renewable sources.

But the “unreliability” of renewables has industry forecasting a decrease in supply from Victoria after 2020.

The New South Wales State Government has also predicted a decline in import availability from Victoria.

Its Industry, Resources and Energy Minister, Anthony Roberts, told The Express the state imported about 10 per cent of its electricity consumption needs from Queensland and Victoria, with the latter contributing about four per cent.

Mr Roberts said the closure of power stations may result in a turning of tables, with Victoria possibly needing to rely on NSW to meet its energy needs.

“It may be that Victoria will need to rely on thermal generation within NSW and that NSW will export more electricity to Victoria,” he said.

The Victorian Greens energy spokesperson Ellen Sandell said there would be no impact on the nation’s electricity supply if the Valley’s power stations were closed in “a timely manner”.

“We could take out the equivalent of Hazelwood five times over and there would be no problem with energy supply anywhere in Australia,” Ms Sandell said.

Ms D’Ambrosio’s spokesperson said “through a diverse energy mix and strong interconnection links with other states, Victoria has, and will continue to have, a secure and reliable energy supply”.