Eraring power station
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Eraring power station is an operating power station of at least 2880-megawatts (MW) in Dora Creek, New South Wales, Australia.
Table 1: Project-level location details
|Plant name||Location||Coordinates (WGS 84)|
|Eraring power station||Dora Creek, New South Wales, Australia||-33.06223, 151.521359 (exact)|
The map below shows the exact location of the power station.
Unit-level coordinates (WGS 84):
- Unit 2, Unit 3, Unit 1, Unit 4: -33.06223, 151.521359
Table 2: Unit-level details
|Unit name||Status||Fuel(s)||Capacity (MW)||Technology||Start year||Retired year|
|Unit 2||operating||coal - bituminous||720||subcritical||1982||2025 (planned)|
|Unit 3||operating||coal - bituminous||720||subcritical||1983||2025 (planned)|
|Unit 1||operating||coal - bituminous||720||subcritical||1981||2025 (planned)|
|Unit 4||operating||coal - bituminous||720||subcritical||1984||2025 (planned)|
Table 3: Unit-level ownership and operator details
|Unit 2||Origin Energy Ltd [100.0%]|
|Unit 3||Origin Energy Ltd [100.0%]|
|Unit 1||Origin Energy Ltd [100.0%]|
|Unit 4||Origin Energy Ltd [100.0%]|
Eraring power station, owned by Eraring Energy, is one of two coal fired electricity power stations on the shores of Lake Macquarie, in New South Wales, Australia. It originally had four 660 MW steam driven turbine generators, with a total capacity of 2,640 MW of electricity. Along with the Bayswater Power Station in Muswellbrook, the Eraring station is Australia's largest emitter of carbon dioxide.
Eraring power station burns 5.2 million tonnes of coal per year, provided by five local mines, and uses salt water from Lake Macquarie for cooling.  The company also states that approximately half the fly ash is "sold for use in the manufacture of concrete and building products and in road base" with the ash handling plant collecting furnace ash "and economiser grits and conveys them as slurry to the ash disposal area."
The generating capacity of each of the four turbines was upgraded from 660 MW to 720 MW between 2011 and 2012.
Nonviolent direct action against Eraring
July 3, 2008: Greenpeace occupies Australia's most polluting coal-fired power plant
At dawn on July 3, 2008, 27 Greenpeace activists entered the Eraring Power Station site to call for an energy revolution take direct action to stop coal from being burnt. Twelve protesters shut down and chained themselves to conveyors while others climbed onto the roof to paint 'Revolution' and unfurled a banner reading 'Energy Revolution - Renewables Not Coal'. The action preceeded the Australian government's climate change advisor Professor Ross Garnaut's delivery of his Draft Climate Change Review on July 4. Police arrested 27..
A September 2017 study by Environmental Justice Australia criticized Eraring's long-standing exemption from the national nitrogen oxide emission standard of 1,500 mg per cubic metre. The study also criticized the absence of air pollution monitoring within 25 km of Eraring and the nearby Vales Point power station. “Hundreds of thousands of people living near Australia’s largest power station do not know what they are breathing," the report states.
Ash pit expansion
In October 2018 Origin Energy obtained approval from the EPA to expand the plant's ash pit, which is located above the abandoned Awaba Colliery, creating a danger of surface water flowing from the ash dam into the mine workings and eventually into nearby tributaries of Dora Creek. In March 2020 Origin was fined A$15,000 for excessive emissions from the ash dam, its third such penalty in three years.
In December 2017, Origin Energy announced that it would close the plant by 2032 as part of a plan to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by that date. Environmentalists criticized the move as insufficient, and noted that the closure date marked the end of the plant's 50-year life cycle anyway. "Given that Eraring makes up approximately 70 per cent of Origin’s overall emissions, the company is committing to increase its carbon pollution across the rest of the portfolio," noted energy analyst Dan Goucher.
In February 2020, it was reported that Origin Energy was considering a "range of scenarios" which could result in the plant's closure earlier than 2032.
In June 2021, Origin Energy moved the retirement date for Unit 1 forward to 2030 and the retirement date for Unit 2 forward to 2031, with Units 3-4 retiring in 2032.
In February 2022, the company announced the plant was set to close by August 2025, seven years earlier than planned. Origin Energy said the plant was unable to compete with the “influx of renewables”, the Financial Times reported, quoting the firm’s chief executive saying: “The economics of coal-fired power stations are being put under increasing, unsustainable pressure by cleaner and lower cost generation, including solar, wind and batteries.” The announcement came ahead of Origin’s half-year results, which showed a further deterioration of profits generated by the Eraring plant. Gross profits from Origin’s electricity business fell to $222 million for the half-year ending December 2021, down from $503 million in the same period ending December 2020.
Possible backpedaling on 2025 date of retirement
In February 2023, a news article suggested that the planned date of closure may be extended, due to delays of "other key energy transition projects – most notably the troubled Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project."  In March 2023, another source echoed that the earlier closing date of 2025 may be delayed due to fears of higher energy prices and electricity shortages if coal plants began to close at a faster rate than renewable energy projects could come online.  The New South Wales (NSW) government had reportedly offered a "rescue bid" to pay for Origin to continue operating the coal plant, which was rejected by Origin.
An April 2023 analysis commented that the possibility of an intervention by the NSW government was deterring renewables investors; From the perspective of potential investors, "[a]s long as the government’s going ‘maybe we will or maybe we won’t close this 2GW coal-fired power station’, you’re gonna sit on your hands until they give you a firm signal." 
In October 2023, a study of Origin Energy's finances by independent expert Grant Samuel suggested that extending the life of the Eraring power station beyond its 2025 proposed closure date would bring "little value" to the company. The study stated there is a "limited window (potentially around two or three years)" for the extension of the plant, but it would be costly to continue operating with an expected A$30 per tonne (US$18.93 per tonne) increase in the coal price in 2025 at a time of falling electricity tariffs.
At the same time, October 2023 news suggested that the NSW state government continued pressuring Origin to keep the coal-fired power plant running past its planned retirement date in 2025. Amid ongoing NSW government efforts to strike a deal with Origin, community members advocated against the use of public funding for the extension of Eraring power station beyond 2025. One protester was quoted insisting that "the planned closure of Eraring in 2025 plays a crucial role in the NSW government’s own emissions reduction plans and must proceed."
Possible conversion or repurposing
In August 2019 tests were being conducted by Star Scientific to determine if the plant could be converted to run on a Hydrogen-based system utilising a so-called Hydrogen Energy Release Optimiser, or HERO, catalyst technology.
In September 2022, Origin stated that the power station's site had unsuitable terrain for a solar or wind conversion after the coal plant's closure. The company proposed instead that a 700 MW battery, among the biggest in the world, could be built.
In April 2023, it was reported that Origin Energy had committed "to invest about A$600 million ($403 million) to develop the first stage of a large-scale battery at its Eraring Power Station in New South Wales."
This decision reportedly followed the buyout of Origin by the Canadian company Brookfield and its partner EIG. 
Brookfield and partners acquire Origin
In April 2023, the Brookfield and EIG takeover of Origin Energy had been completed. At the time of sale, Brookfield allegedly had plans to "invest at least A$20bn in new renewables and storage in Australia to significantly reduce Origin Energy’s carbon emissions." 
Articles and Resources
- "Climate Camp Hails Greenpeace", Climate Camp Australia website, July 3, 2008.
- Eraring Energy site, accessed November 2008.
- Eraring Energy, "Coal supply", Eraring Energy website, accessed May 2011.
- "Preliminary Project Application" (PDF). Environmental Assessment Scoping Report - Eraring Energy: Eraring Power Station 750 MW Upgrade. Planning NSW. 22 August 2006. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
- Activists protest at Australian power plant, Reuters UK, July 3, 2008.
- Environmental report slams Vales Point and Eraring Power Stations, Coast Community News, 15 Sep 2017.
- Contamination fears rising from the ashes at Eraring Power Station ash dam, New Castle Herald, Oct. 5, 2018
- Martin Scott, Massive increase in toxic emissions at Australian coal power plant, World Socialist Website, Apr. 15, 2020
- Origin aims to halve emissions by 2032, Sydney Morning Herald, Dec. 14, 2017
- Origin Energy says coal plant closure date open to review, Sydney Morning Herald, Feb. 21, 2020
- Australia’s NSW sees coal's role in power mix slumping, Argus Media, Jun. 8, 2021
- "Australia’s biggest coal-fired power plant to shut years ahead of schedule," Carbon Brief, February 17, 2022
- "Australia’s biggest coal-fired power plant to shut years ahead of schedule," Financial Times, February 2022
- "Australia’s largest coal plant to close in 2025, as Origin Energy accelerates coal exit," Renew Economy, February 17, 2022
- "Crunch time looms for Origin on Eraring closure," Financial Review, February 17, 2023
- "Origin Energy may delay closing Eraring coal power station," The Chemical Engineer, March 3, 2023
- "As Liddell bites the dust, can NSW supply enough power for a looming El Niño summer peak?," The Guardian, April 28, 2023
- "Keeping Eraring open longer of little value to Origin, says independent expert," Renew Economy, October 20, 2023
- Origin says Eraring delay still on the table, green transition not happening fast enough, Renew Economy, October 18, 2023
- NSW vows to slash emissions by 50pc by 2030, Financial Review (Australia), October 12, 2032
- Rally demands gov't stop publicly subsidising Eraring coal power station, Green Left, October 19, 2023
- Hydrogen studies under way at Origin's Eraring coal plant, Australian Financial Review, Aug. 19, 2019
- How do we shut down Australia’s largest power plant?, Origin Energy, Sept. 8, 2022
- Australia's Origin Energy to invest $400 million in battery project, Reuters, April 19, 2023
- Brookfield and Greenleaf launch Australian renewables investment venture, Real Assets, April 5, 2023
To access additional data, including an interactive map of coal-fired power stations, a downloadable dataset, and summary data, please visit the Global Coal Plant Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.