A quick note for future reference to say the news media is reporting extensions of some coal unit operations in NSW:
(A) Delays in coal plant closure
(At least) two different NSW-based power stations have been in the news today …
(A1) Vales Point coal unit operations extended four years to 2033
Hot off the press in the AFR, Angela Macdonald-Smith writes today ‘Vales Point coal plant life extended until 2033’:
Also about this news today, we noted:
Giles Parkinson wrote on RenewEconomy about ‘Vales Point coal closure date pushed back four years in latest threat to renewables transition’.
Later on Friday, Colin Packham wrote in the Australian ‘Delta Electricity flags extending lifespan of coal power station in bet on slower transition Delta Electrcity looks to extend lifespan of NSW coal power station’.
… and we noted some earlier articles about this:
On 16th March 2023 Madeline Lewis at ABC had written about how ‘Vales Point Power Station’s Czech owner says it’s ‘unwise’ to commit to closing the plant in 2029’. So clearly these newish owners (who came in to replace Trevor St Baker and Brian Flannery in late 2022) have been thinking about extension for a while.
On 27th June 2023 Colin Packham at the Australian had written about ‘New Delta Group CEO hints Vales Point coal station safe amid slow transition‘.
PS – belated note about this 13th July update from Sev.en Global Investments
In the interests of completeness, worth noting that Sev.En Global Investments published this Media Release ‘Vales Point Power Station Technical Life Assessment’ on 13th July 2023.
Copying in the Release here, for ease of future reference, it reads:
‘13 July 2023, Sydney, Australia – Delta Electricity has advised the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) of a 2033 technical life assessment for the Vales Point Power Station. The purpose of this assessment is to provide the Electricity Statement of Opportunities (ESOO) with a condition assessment of the existing generation equipment, ash dam capacity and general condition of the facility. The previous ESOO closure date was 2029, which was based on a nominal 50-year asset life. As the 2029 date draws closer, Delta has been able to estimate plant technical capabilities with a greater level of accuracy.
The Vales Point Power Station continues to be a key asset in the transitioning energy market by providing essential firming capacity to support the growing integration of renewable energy and ensuring a reliable and secure source of electricity. Currently the Vales Point Power Station generates approximately 10% of New South Wales electricity needs.
Delta notes the delays being experienced by new generation and transmission projects, along with earlier closure dates being announced by owners of other coal fired generators. Given the uncertainties surrounding the capacity of electricity resources over the next 10 years and the urgent need to maintain system security throughout this period, Delta considers it a responsible step to advise AEMO of the availability of Vales Point Power Station’s capacity.
The Interim Chief Executive of Delta Electricity, David Morris stated, “Vales Point has benefited from a detailed and rigorous maintenance regime throughout its life. This has included major outages every four years on each unit to replace critical plant elements, implementing capital upgrades and conducting extensive maintenance. The plant continues to provide high levels of availability to the system and is expected to continue to do so through to 2033.”
Delta acknowledges the skill and commitment its workforce has towards the operation, maintenance and asset management of the Vales Point Power Station. This dedication has provided the optionality whereby Delta has the potential to contribute to the longer-term stability of the National Energy Market.
The ESOO announcement is specific to a technical assessment of the Vales Point Power Station and does not denote a commercial commitment to operate the facility, noting that a 42-month closure notification period applies for commercial obligations. “The energy system is in transformation, and this brings higher levels of uncertainty when forecasting market conditions for the longer term,” Mr Morris said. “Broader engagement with major stakeholders regarding system and market requirements will be required before firm commercial commitments can be made”.
Delta is a major employer on the Central Coast, with approximately 550 people employed at Vales Point Power Station and Chain Valley Coal Mine.
(A2) Eraring not closing in 2025?
Angela’s article is not definitive on what’s to happen with Eraring, only stating (at this point) that ‘as expectations mount that Origin Energy’s huge Eraring plant will have to run for longer …’.
However this morning one of our readers noted that the Daily Telegraph had been more definite in reporting an extension to the plant – as tagged through to Twitter by Maureen here:
(B) No surprise
With this news today, (at least) two things won’t be a surprise to us…
(B1) Delays in closure
Following our completion of the GenInsights Quarterly Update for Q1 2023 we wrote about how ‘we’re not building enough replacement dispatchable capacity’:
As noted subsequently in this thread on Twitter about the same, I was interested to note that Chris Bowen referenced the same figures (the growing deficit of dispatchable capacity) at about ~3 minutes into this interview on 7:30 report:
(B2) Heated discussion next week
No doubt will be talked about (albeit in a negative way) next week at the Australian Clean Energy Summit. See you there!