EnergyAustralia notes the likely change of operating mode for Mt Piper coal-fired power station in NSW

It wasn’t just Loy Yang A (and the STA) and rumours of extended operations at Eraring in the news over the past 7 days ….

Also on Monday 21st August 2023, EnergyAustralia published its Climate Transition Action Plan (CTAP) here:


… which notes:

‘Increasingly, with supply from fossil fuel power stations displaced by solar and wind energy, the supply of energy is subject to significantly greater variability. Solar energy is abundant on sunny days, drops when it is overcast and provides no output at night. Wind is subject to natural, seasonal variability and periods of wind drought. The task of matching this supply with customers’ demand, itself highly variable and characterised by extremes, is one of significant complexity. This challenge will be more evident as coal-fired and gas-fired power stations retire, manifesting during the stretches of successive still and dark days experienced periodically during winter, and at times of peak demand, for example during heat waves. ’

… noting similar points to those raised in various articles on WattClarity in weeks, months and years gone by (and, in considerably more detail, in the GRC2018, GenInsights21 and GenInsights Quarterly Updates as well).

On p10/32 of the CTAP they provide particular updates about ‘Portfolio pipeline and role of Mount Piper to address Scope 1 emissions’ … noting that

‘Further, there is uncertainty about the delivery dates for transmission, renewable and firming projects to facilitate the transition across the NEM. In that context, in the lead-up to its retirement by 2040, our ambition is to progressively reduce Mount Piper’s emissions while recognising the role this asset plays in contributing to grid stability in the NEM. This means seeking to reduce the power station’s output by shifting the basis of its operation from the continuous supply of electricity to the NEM, to a role, with the appropriate settings, providing renewables firming and technical system services (that are necessary to keep the grid system secure), on a commercial basis, so that it is available to operate when needed. This evolution at Mount Piper is already underway, with investment and modification to allow the power station to run more flexibly’

Readers can refer to the CTAP for more details about the plans for Mt Piper (and also for gas and other firming capacity).


(A)  In the media over the past week

In the week that’s followed the release of the CTAP by EnergyAustralia, I have seen this news referenced in several places, including the following:

1)  Here on WattClarity®:

(a)  There’s this note, obviously

(b)  But it’s also worth reminding readers of how we wrote We’re not building enough replacement dispatchable capacity back on 14th May 2023 with reference to the GenInsights Quarterly Updates for 2023 Q1 that we’d released beforehand.

2)  In the AFR I have seen…

(a)  on Monday 21st August in this article about Loy Yang A, Angela MacDonald-Smith also spoke about Mt Piper as follows…

‘The news came as AGL rival EnergyAustralia said it would gradually shift its big coal-fired generator in NSW into a back-up role and cease running it as a baseload plant well ahead of its 2040 closure date.’

‘EnergyAustralia’s 1400-megawatt Mt Piper generator near Lithgow would move to a “firming” role for renewable energy, and then eventually to a “reserve” role likely in the early to mid-2030s, chief executive Mark Collette said.

“We can anticipate … that subject to adding enough [renewable and firming] capacity to the grid, Mt Piper will more and more fall back to a reserve role where it is there for those very difficult-to-solve times in the year,” he said.

(b)  on Friday 25th August, Angela Macdonald-Smith wrote about Coal’s long goodbye: NSW generator goes into survival mode’.

3)  In the Australian I have seen …

(a)  Nothing, at this point.

4)  In the Guardian I have seen …

(a)  Nothing, at this point.

5)  In SMH and the Age I have seen …

(a)  Nothing, at this point.

6)  In RenewEconomy I have seen …

(a)  On 21st August, Sophie Vorrath wrote ‘EnergyAustralia won’t retire Mt Piper coal before 2040, but may run it like a battery’.

(b)  Nothing further, at this point.

7)  In PV Magazine I have seen …

(a)  Nothing, at this point.

8)  In the ABC I have seen …

(a)  Nothing, at this point.

As a reader here, if you come across any other useful commentary, feel free to add as a comment below.


(B)  Social Media

Noting to note here…



With the release of the 2023 ESOO slated for later this week, there will be many looking for clues (there, here, and elsewhere) about what this all means about the ongoing need for ‘keeping the lights on’ services

About the Author

Paul McArdle
One of three founders of Global-Roam back in 2000, Paul has been CEO of the company since that time. As an author on WattClarity, Paul's focus has been to help make the electricity market more understandable.

1 Comment on "EnergyAustralia notes the likely change of operating mode for Mt Piper coal-fired power station in NSW"

  1. Will power supplies be sufficient if current high rates of immigration continue (i.e. 235 k pa) as envisaged in the recent Intergenerational Report?

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