Australia Activates First Renewable Power Station on Decommissioned Coal Plant Site

The first large-scale battery to be built at an Australian coal site has been switched on in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, east of Melbourne.

The 150-megawatt battery is at the site of the former Hazelwood power station in the southern Australian state of Victoria. The station was built in the 1960s and closed in 2017.

The new battery was officially opened Wednesday and has the ability to power about 75,000 homes for an hour during the evening peak. The decommissioned coal plant produced 10 times more electricity, but the battery’s operators aim to increase its generating capacity over time.

The Latrobe Valley has been the center of Victoria’s coal-fired power industry for decades, but the region is changing.

The new battery will store power generated by offshore wind farms and is run by the French energy giant Engie, and its partners Eku Energy and Fluence.

Engie chief executive Rik De Buyserie told reporters it is an important part of Australia’s green energy future.

“The commissioning of this battery represents a key milestone in this journey and marks an important step in the transition of the La Trobe Valley from a thermal energy power to a clean energy power provider,” he said.

The state of Victoria aims to have at least 2.6 gigawatts of battery storage connected to the electricity grid by 2030 and 6.3 gigawatts by 2035.

Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s minister for climate action, energy and resources, told reporters that the state government is committed to boosting its renewable energy sector.

“It is important that we just do not sit around waiting for old technology to disappear, close down, but we actually get in front of it and make sure that we have more than sufficient supply to meet our needs,” she said. “That is what keeps downward pressure on prices.”

Australia has legislated a target to cut carbon emissions by 43% from 2005 levels by 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Electricity generation in Australia is still dominated by coal and gas but there is a distinct shift to renewable sources of power.

In April the Clean Energy Council, an industry association, said that clean energy accounted for 35.9% of Australia’s total electricity generation in 2022, up from 32.5% in 2021.

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