The closure of Victoria’s Hazelwood power plant announced today is a symbolic generational shift from old to new energy across the country, the Clean Energy Council said today.

Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said Australia, like much of the world, is moving from a power system based on old coal plants to a modern one based on the latest renewable energy and battery technology.

“Like a car, the older these power plants get, the more it costs to keep them running and the less reliable they become. A large proportion of our coal plants are already at or beyond their expected retirement date, and will close one way or another in the decades to come,” Thornton said.

“This again highlights the need for a more strategic approach to deliver a clean, smart and reliable energy system.

“We are in the middle of an energy transition, and any major change comes with challenges. Our thoughts are with the workers at Hazelwood today, and the uncertain future they face.”

Thornton said our energy system is oversupplied with outdated coal plants, and the withdrawal of Hazelwood will not impact the reliability of the system.

“The renewable energy technology available right now is very reliable, as well as being the cheapest type of new generation it is possible to build today compared to new coal, gas or nuclear power – and it will only get cheaper over time,” he said.

“Combined with the rapid rise of battery storage and Australia’s commitments to reduce emissions in line with the UN climate agreement reached in Paris last year, renewable energy has a very important role to play in our future.

“What we need is a national plan developed by the Australian government with state energy ministers to progressively move away from high-polluting forms of energy to a zero net emission energy system no later than 2050. This will ensure that investment happens in the most efficient
possible way.”

The Clean Energy Council released the Power Shift blueprint this year, which contains a range of policies to spur innovation, encourage greater roll-out of renewable energy and an orderly closure of outdated coal-fired power stations to deliver a 21st century energy system.