WHEN most people look up at Liddell power station, they probably don’t think of her as an old lady, but I do.
She has worked hard, developed some quirks and peculiarities and now has a long list of difficulties and ailments.
I’m not ashamed to say that, like many others who have worked here over the years, I have real affection for Liddell.
But the reality is, we’re now asking the old lady to run a marathon without ever falling over – it’s as simple as that.
This is why Liddell power station will close in 2022.
Energy generation figures are complicated. They’re easily unintentionally misquoted by those who don’t fully understand them.
But there’s a simple way to understand what has become a national discussion.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) says when Liddell closes there could be a capacity shortfall of 1000MW.
Liddell was built in 1971 to provide more than that.
But, like an old car that has done a lot of miles, it cannot be reliably driven pedal to the metal on a daily basis.
We’ve addressed the identified 1000MW shortfall, starting with an upgrade of the neighbouring coal fired Bayswater plant.
That will provide 100MW of that alone, without increased emissions.
Overall, this is good for the local environment and for the planet.
We’re also doing feasibility studies into something called pumped hydro in the region.
It uses the movement of water to generate power.
Occasionally, there is discussion of building something called a HELE coal plant.
HELE stands for high-efficiency, low-emission.
It’s worth remembering these days, they’re old technology.
Most HELE plants are, at best, only marginally more efficient than those we have.
Elsewhere in the state, we’re building new generation too.
Our plan is being assessed by the market operator, which will advise the federal government. That plan proposes a mix of high-efficiency gas peaking stations, investment in renewables and battery storage.
This plan demonstrates that old power plants can be replaced with a mixture of new, cleaner technology, while improving reliability and affordability.
Analysis also found it delivers reliable, dispatchable power for longer, due to a longer asset life of 15-30 years, compared with a Liddell extension of just five years.
This is the lowest-cost option and that benefits everyone through their power prices.
Of course, we’re not leaving our site and we aren’t leaving the region.
The Bayswater efficiency upgrade will keep that plant running until 2035.
We’re also spending a further $150 million to keep Liddell running for our customers until 2022.
Put simply, we’re not leaving our community.
We’re now working on our plans to re-purpose Liddell and its land in a way that benefits the electricity grid and ensures the Upper Hunter region remains a powerhouse of NSW.
Like many of our employees, I’m proud of this place.
My history is linked to Macquarie and we’re not planning to leave.
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