According to the Australian Electricity Market Operator, NSW will face blackouts by the end of 2015, largely as a result of the planned decommissioning of the ageing Munmorah power station on the Central Coast, one of the highest-cost power stations in NSW. Its life could be extended, at a cost, although no decision has been made.
Neither of the power stations at Mount Piper or Bayswater uses gas, although there are plans for a gas pipeline from Queensland to the Hunter over the next few years.
Additional coal-fired generators at Bayswater will add 12.4 million tonnes of carbon pollution a year, and the generators planned for Mount Piper will add 10.4 million tonnes. Combined, this would mean a 34 per cent increase in emissions from power stations in NSW, the National Conservation Council said.
If the two new power stations used gas, then emissions would rise by about 13 million tonnes, a 20 per cent rise.
”The government should be putting a moratorium on new coal-fired power stations,” Max Phillips of the Nature Conservation Council said. ”It should have been ruled out from the start. The government is negligent for not doing so.”
But with surging domestic gas prices, coal will remain the preferred energy source, irrespective of the impact of carbon prices if the federal government’s proposed emissions trading scheme gets off the ground.
As part of its privatisation plan, the state government is to auction sites at Mount Piper and Bayswater for new power stations. Yesterday’s concept approval is expected to add to their value.
”’The Keneally government is turning NSW into an international greenhouse pariah,” the Greens MP John Kaye said. ”It is highly improbable that Mount Piper will be gas-powered given the distance to the nearest pipeline and the costs of connecting up supply. Even Bayswater is much more likely to be coal-fired.”