On October 10, the international day of climate action, climate activists will converge on Hazelwood, Australia’s dirtiest power station.
Each year, Hazelwood burns 17 million tonnes of brown coal and consumes 27 million litres of water (the equivalent of using one month’s worth of Melbourne’s water supply every day). It accounts for 15% of Victoria’s emissions and 3% of Australia’s emissions.
In response to the “switch off Hazelwood” campaign, the Victorian Labor government has announced a plan to shut down 25% of Hazelwood. The government has also released a Climate Change White Paper and passed the Victorian Climate Change Bill.
This plan sets a 20% emissions cut target and a total of 28 million tonnes by 2020, which the Climate Change White Paper describes as “equivalent to the closure of two units of Hazelwood Power Station”.
But there are no proposals as to how the government would actually achieve this.
The White Paper sets a cap on emissions intensity from new coal-fired power stations at 0.8 tonnes of CO2 per MWh of energy and passed legislation to facilitate carbon offsetting schemes in Victoria. The OECD average of emissions intensity is 0.45 tonnes of CO2 per MWh.
The government has proposed to increase solar power to 5%, or 2500GWh, by 2020 (500GWh by 2014). Unfortunately, Hazelwood generates 10,800GWh of energy.
The government has also thrown its support behind a new “clean coal” power station in the LaTrobe Valley, which had to resubmit its proposal for environmental approval after its initial application cited an expected emissions intensity of 0.89 tonnes of CO2 per MWh.
Friends of the Earth has pointed out that this emissions rate is equivalent to black coal-fired power stations — not “clean” at all.
Climate change solutions group Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) is calling for the state government to commit to building six baseload solar thermal power towers (generating 7500 GWh of energy) and 1200MW of wind farms by 2014 to replace Hazelwood.
On September 21, the Yarra Council passed a motion calling for the total closure of Hazelwood and for it to be replaced with renewable energy by 2014, and for the proposed coal-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley to be rejected.
The motion was prepared by Yarra Climate Action Now with Socialist Party councillor Steve Jolly and Greens councillor Sam Gaylard.
The two present Labor councillors voted against the motion and mayor Jane Garret did not show up. Garret is running as Labor candidate for the seat of Brunswick in November's state election.