Sustainable Living Armidale Youth Awards
We are looking for ideas from young people promoting awareness about climate change, we are calling it SLAya and there are prizes to be won!!
Armidale Vegetable Sowing Guide
This guide shows planting time periods that should allow you to get a crop in Armidale.

Climate Matters: Renewable power already twice New England’s electricity use

The experts managing the Energy Market (AEM) say coal-fired power could be on its way out sooner rather than later, because of financial unviablilty. Even if coal remains viable, NSW’s coal plants are coming to the end of their useful life. Four out of five will close by 2035.

Unreliability is also a major problem.  Liddell broke down 11 times in 2018; Vales Point, Eraring, Bayswater and Mt Piper had, respectively, 5, 4, 3 and 1 break-downs. The “state-of-the-art” Tallawarra gas plant (commissioned in 2009) had 7.1 breakdowns per GW of capacity and was considered even more unreliable than coal.

The great news is that renewables are more reliable and cheaper than coal, and bring jobs and growth to New England.  Everyone should know the facts!

Our region already generates twice as much renewable power as our electricity use.  Sapphire Wind’s 270 MW capacity (75 turbines) and White Rock’s 175 MW wind and 20 MW solar farms produce enough power for 226,000 homes – over 3 times the 70,000 private dwellings in the New England Electoral Division.

Wind often produces most power at night, so adding solar helps provide continuous power, as well as jobs.

There are additional benefits for local communities. Sapphire Wind’s Community fund – $2,500 annually per installed turbine – represents a total benefit of $3.75 million for residents of Inverell Shire. The inaugural round of White Rock’s annual $175,000 Community Fund supported 24 projects in 2018.

Commercial production of Metz solar is planned for 2020.  White Rock 2 and Glen Innes Wind have planning approval, but are seeking modifications to take advantage of improved turbine designs and efficiencies. UPC is seeking approval. If granted, it hopes to create 10-15 ongoing jobs, 500 to build a 700 MW solar farm, plus another 200 to build the proposed 200 MW back-up battery. UPC also plans to establish a community benefit fund of $150,000-$200,000 per year.

Pumped hydro storage plans are also well advanced. UPC’s New England Pumped Hydro Project is on the Federal Government’s shortlist of 12 proposals for “reliable and affordable power”. The Oven Mountain Project, designed to deliver 600 MW for 6 hours, also looks promising. It makes sense to use surplus low-price electricity to pump water uphill and generate power when prices are higher.

Planning is also underway for the Walcha Energy Project – 3,400 MW wind and 350 to 650 MW solar; construction is proposed for 2020. With pumped hydro, it could provide over 15% of all NSW’s power via the 330 kV transmission lines to the Hunter Valley. Upgrades to transmission are being considered as part of the New England Renewable Zone.

All in all, New England is powering ahead.  Cheap electricity from climate-friendly renewables (that could soon produce over 10 times the power we use) will benefit our entire region!

1 comment to Climate Matters: Renewable power already twice New England’s electricity use

  • Mike Westerman

    Great to hear mention of Walcha Energy Project. Redevelopment of Dungowan Dam would also improve water security for the region, while facilitating RE.