Liddell Power Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Liddell power station is a 2,000-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in New South Wales, Australia.

AGL plans to close one unit of the plant in 2022 and the other three units in 2023 as it reaches more than 50 years of operation.[1]


The map below shows the location of the plant, near Muswellbrook, New South Wales.

Loading map...

Background on Plant

The Liddell Power Station was commissioned between 1971 and 1973 and generates 2,000 megawatts from four 500MW generating units. Water is supplied from Lake Liddell. The power station consumes approximately 5.5 million tonnes of black coal per year.[2]


Liddell Power Station was owned by Macquarie Generation, a government-owned business which was established in 1996 and boasts that it is "Australia's largest electricity generator."[3] Macquarie Generation was acquired by AGL Energy in September 2014.[4]

High Costs of Keeping Plant Open

In November 2017, a report by the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures found that a clean energy package that includes battery storage, solar thermal and bioenergy would cost $2.2 billion, compared to $3.6 billion for a package to extend the life of the Liddell plant. The study also found that Clean Energy would have "would have a zero pollution outcome compared to 40 million tonnes of pollution by extending Liddell."[5]

In September 2017, then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the Federal Government was trying to delay the closure of the plant beyond 2022 for at least five years.[6] In December 2017, AGL Energy rejected a plea by the Australian government to keep the plant open beyond its planned retirement date of 2022. AGL said that electricity from gas, wind and solar projects would be cheaper to produce.[7]

In May 2018 AGL rejected a $250 million offer from Alinta to buy the power station and possibly extend its operating date beyond 2022.[8]

In December 2020 the Australian government published a model showing that keeping Liddell open beyond its planned retirement in 2023 ranked as one of the worst options for maintaining stable power supplies in New South Wales, scoring poorly in categories such as providing flexible power supply and operating without interruptions.[9]

Plant Retirement

In August 2019 AGL announced that Unit 1 would be retired in 2022 as planned but that Units 2-4 would continue operating until April 2023.[1] In May 2021, AGL awarded a contract to Delta Group, an engineering contractor, to begin the first stage of closure, decommissioning and demolition planning for the power station.[10] Unit 3 was retired on Mar. 31, 2022.[11]

Environmental impact

In May 2018 it was reported that FOI documents obtained by Environmental Justice Australia reveal that a power station of Liddell's age would normally be subject to a NOx limit of 800 mg/m3, however AGL successfully applied to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for an increase to 1,500 mg/m3. "Just to put that into context, a power station in the United States would be required to keep emissions down to 100 mg/m3," said James Whelan of Environmental Justice Australia.[12]

Trevor St Baker plans for a new plant

In January 2019 Trevor St Baker told The Australian that he would submit a proposal to Australia's Minister for Energy, Angus Taylor, for government support from the Underwriting New Generation Investments program for three projects including a new A$2 billion 660 MW black coal plant in NSW's Hunter Valley at the Vales Point power station or alternatively at AGL's Liddell power station. The report claimed "St Baker has lined up a Chinese joint-venture partner" but did not name the company. St Baker said that financing the projects would not be sought from Australian banks but instead would rely solely on international lenders.[13]

However, even if the Liddell project wins federal government financial support it faces formidable hurdles. AGL have previously rejected federal government pressure to sell the site to other companies wanting to take over the Liddell plant and redevelop it.

Plant Details

  • Sponsor: AGL Energy Ltd
  • Parent company: AGL Energy
  • Location: Muswellbrook, New South Wales, Australia
  • Coordinates: -32.3715996, 150.9784213 (exact)
  • Status: Units 1, 2, 4: Operating; Unit 3: Retired
  • Gross capacity: 2,000 MW (Units 1-4: 500 MW)
  • Type: Subcritical
  • In service: Unit 1: 1971; Unit 2: 1972; Unit 3: 1972-2022; Unit 4: 1973
  • Coal type:
  • Coal source:
  • Source of financing:

Proposed Sunset Power International Expansion

  • Sponsor: Sunset Power International
  • Parent company: Sunset Power International
  • Location: Muswellbrook, New South Wales, Australia
  • Coordinates: -32.3715996, 150.9784213 (exact)
  • Status: Proposed
  • Gross capacity: 660 MW
  • Type:
  • In service:
  • Coal type:
  • Coal source:
  • Source of financing:

Articles and resources


Related articles

External resources