Yallourn W power station
|This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of Victoria and coal|
2019 Hot Topics
Yallourn-W power station is a 1,480-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Victoria, Australia.
The map below shows the location of the plant, near Yallourn, Victoria.
Background on Plant
Yallourn W power station is owned by EnergyAustralia (formerly known as TRUenergy), a subsidiary of CLP. The power station is supplied with coal from the Yallourn mine. In mid-2012 the collapse of a river diversion embankment resulted in the mine pit being flooded, conveyor belts damaged, and the power station being offline for most of June. (For full details see the Yallourn mine article.)
The 1480 megawatt power station is located near Yallourn West and, in 2010, was estimated to have emitted 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e). EnergyAustralia estimates that the power station emits, on an as sent out basis, 1.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt hour.
The power station comprises two 360 megawatt generating units and two 380 megawatt units which were commissioned between 1974 and 1982. (Another report from 2003 lists the units as being two 350 generating units commissioned between 1973 and 1975 and two 375 megawatt units commissioned between 1981 and 1982 with an overall capacity of 1450 megawatts. It was also assessed as the second lowest cost producer in Victoria and with a "sent out thermal efficiency" of approximately 28%.)
EnergyAustralia stated in a late-2012 business review that the power station benefited from a "fixed low cost fuel source" and that the power station was "well positioned to benefit from a rising wholesale gas price market, despite the introduction of the carbon tax from 1 July 2012."
In October 2012 EnergyAustralia announced, as part of its lobbying against retaining the Renewable Energy Target in its current form, that it would idle one 360 megawatt unit at the power station due to the impact of the carbon price "together with weak wholesale electricity prices and falling electricity demand." The company argued that the Renewable Energy Target should be revised to reduce the amount of new wind and solar power supplied to the grid. However, in mid-January, without any announcement or significant media coverage, the unit was restarted to cater for the increased summer load.
In November of 2018, a worker died in the Yallourn W power station after a high-voltage circuit breaker exploded.
In June of 2019, The Australia Institute’s Gas & Coal Watch initiative found that Yallourn W is the least reliable coal plant in Australia, by breakdowns per unit of capacity (GW). A February 2020 report by the Institute found that Yallourn-W had broken down 37 times between December 2017 and December 2019.
TRUenergy flags willingness to close ... if it gets the right price
In mid-2010 TRUenergy signalled that, while they believed that an emissions trading scheme remained the best way to reduce greenhouse gases, they were prepared to phase out the plant if they could negotiate an appropriate amount of direct compensation from the then Labor Victorian government and/or the federal government. "Given there is unlikely to be an emissions trading scheme in the near term, direct action (in the form of compensation for cutting pollution) is certainly something that will reduce emissions," TRUenergy spokesman Carl Kitchen told The Age. However, in September 2012 the federal Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, announced that plans for the contract for closure program had been scrapped. In a media release Ferguson stated that "the Government could not be satisfied that entering into such arrangements would achieve value for money against the Contract for Closure Program objectives." He stated that regional adjustment funding which had been pledged to areas affected by closure under the program would remain available to areas affected by the carbon price.
EnergyAustralia has applied to extend the Yallourn Mine's operating license, which currently expires in 2026, until December 31, 2032. "Since the closure of Hazelwood, Yallourn has taken the mantle of dirtiest power station in Australia," said Mark Wakeham, CEO of Environment Victoria. "Rather than proposing to extend the life of this polluting clunker we should be planning for its closure and supporting the Latrobe Valley community with a fair and just economic transition."
In June of 2019, Yallourn coal-fired power plant was reported to have a planned 2029 shut down date, progressively switching off its four units one by one until its full closure in 2032. A December 2019 analysis of the power supply in Victoria by RepuTex found that growth in small-scale renewable sources would allow for the closure of Yallourn-W as early as April 2023.
Handouts from carbon tax package
EnergyAustralia received $257,498,933.37 of the $1 billion cash payments given out in 2011/12 to the operators of the most polluting coal-fired power stations. The cash was paid from the Energy Security Fund which was established as a part of the carbon tax legislation passed in 2011.
The $1 billion in payments were made before the carbon price was introduced, with no further payments scheduled for the financial year 2013.
However, for the 2014 and 2015 financial years EnergyAustralia estimates that it will receive 10.7 million free carbon units which at $24.20 and $25.40 each would be valued at $259.4 million and $272.3 million respectively.
From July 2015 it is planned that an emissions trading scheme will commence with the the carbon price determined by the market. The initial plan of having a fixed floor of $15 per tonne from July 2015 was dropped after lobbying from power generators and instead the Australian scheme linked to the European Union scheme. Energy Australia reported that as a result of the watering down of the scheme "Australian carbon prices from July 2015 onwards are expected to be somewhat lower than under the original scheme." EnergyAustralia described the changes as "positive" for it.
Proposed gas-fired plant shelved
In December 2012 EnergyAustralia announced that it had shelved plans for a 1000 megawatt gas-fired power station in Victoria's Latrobe Valley. EnergyAustralia's head of markets, Mark Collette, told The Australian that the power station would not be needed until much later this decade. "We are seeing further deterioration in the energy market and wholesale prices, and we don't expect conditions to improve in the foreseeable future," he said. The proposed power station was to have been built on the site of the existing Yallourn power station. Earlier in 2012 the company had scaled the size of the plant back to potentially 600 megawatts. However, the continued decline in demand undercut the need for the plant.
Coal dust fire
In early January 2013, a small fire broke out at the power station believed to be as a result of high temperatures causing coal dust to ignite. The fire was extinguished within half an hour. In February 2018 a fire was again caused by the accidental ignition of coal dust.
In April 2020 a coalition of Victoria groups, including Environmental Justice Australia and Doctors for the Environment, alleged in a complaint filed with the Environmental Protection Authority that Yallourn increased emissions of PM10 coarse-particle pollution by 45 per cent in the most recent reporting year, despite one of its generating units being offline for maintenance during that time.
National Pollutant Inventory Data
The Australian's Government's National Pollutant Inventory lists emissions from the Yallourn power station for 2010/2011 as being:
|Substance||Air Total (kg)||Air Fugitive (kg)||Air Point (kg)||Land (kg)||Water (kg)||Total (kg)|
|Arsenic & compounds||56||56|
|Beryllium & compounds||31||31|
|Boron & compounds||38,000||1500||40,000|
|Cadmium & compounds||46||0||46|
|Chromium (III) compounds||170||12||180|
|Chromium (VI) compounds||110||110|
|Copper & compounds||130||170||300|
|Lead & compounds||150||14||160|
|Manganese & compounds||4,000||6,600||11,000|
|Mercury & compounds||29||.91||30|
|Nickel & compounds||700||140||840|
|Oxides of Nitrogen||16,000,000||16,000,000|
|Particulate Matter 10.0 um||3,400,000||3,400,000|
|Particulate Matter 2.5 um||2,000,000||2,000,000|
|Polychlorinated dioxins and furans (TEQ)||0.00034||0.00034|
|Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (B[a]Peq)||14||14|
|Total Volatile Organic Compounds||18,000||18,000|
|Xylenes (individual or mixed isomers)||64||64|
|Zinc and compounds||1,300||600||1,900|
- Sponsor: EnergyAustralia Pty Ltd
- Parent company: CLP Group
- Location: Yallourn, Victoria, Australia
- Coordinates: -38.177284, 146.3442097 (exact)
- Status: Operating
- Gross capacity: 1,480 MW (Units 1 & 2: 360 MW; Units 3 & 4: 380 MW)
- Type: Subcritical
- In service: 1973-75 (Units 1 & 2); 1981-82 (Units 3 & 4)
- Coal type:
- Coal source:
- Source of financing:
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Key decision makers on coal in Victoria
- Researching coal in Victoria
- Victoria and coal
- Australia and coal
- Carbon Capture and Storage in Australia
- New South Wales and coal
- Queensland and coal
- TRUenergy, "About TRUenergy", TRUenergy website, accessed August 2010.
- The Climate Group, Greenhouse Indicator Series: Australian Electricity Generation report 2007 – 2010, The Climate Group, October 2011, page 21. (Pdf)
- EnergyAustralia, "Energy Australia: Business Update", October 24, 2012, page 10.
- CLP Group, "Yallourn power station and mine", CLP Group, accessed September 2010.
- J. Nunn, A. Cottrell, A. Urfer, L. Wibberley and P. Scaife, "A Lifecycle Assessment of the Victorian Energy Grid", Cooperative Research Centre for Coal in Sustainable Development, February 2003, page 7. (Pdf).
- EnergyAustralia, "Energy Australia: Business Update", October 24, 2012, page 9.
- EnergyAustralia, "Changes to Renewable Energy Target required for a sustainable electricity market", Media Release, October 17, 2013.
- Daniel Palmer, "A tale of two coal plants", Climate Spectator, January 11, 2013.
- Emma Field and Robert French"'Popular and hardworking' Victorian worker dies after explosion at Yallourn Power Station", ABC, 13 Nov 2018.
- Victoria’s gas & coal power fleet most unreliable in Australia, Mirage News, June 17, 2019.
- Fossil fails in the smart state, The Australia Institute, February 2020
- David Rood and Tom Arup, "Yallourn's hand up for shutdown", The Age, July 28, 2010.
- "Contract for Closure negotiations cease", Media Release, September 5, 2012.
- Victoria may extend Yallourn coal licence despite zero-emissions pledge, The Guardian, Jan. 15, 2018
- Adam Carey and Nick Toscano Yallourn coal-fired power plant due to shut down from 2029, The Age, June 25, 2019
- VICTORIAN MARKET READINESS TO SUPPORT THE EARLY RETIREMENT OF YALLOURN POWER STATION, ReputTex, December 2019
- Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency,"Generation complexes eligible to receive Energy Security Fund cash payments", Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency website, July 9, 2012.
- Australian Government, "An overview of the Clean Energy Legislative Package", Clean Energy Future website, accessed January 2013.
- Energy Security Council, "About the Council", Energy Security Council website, accessed January 2013.
- EnergyAustralia, "Energy Australia: Business Update", October 24, 2012, page 20.
- EnergyAustralia, "Energy Australia: Business Update", October 24, 2012, page 10.
- Matt Chambers, "EnergyAustralia puts gas-fired plant on hold", The Australian, December 28, 2012.
- Tom Arup, "Gas-fired power plant put on hold", Sydney Morning Herald, December 27, 2012.
- Jessica Chambers, "Grassfires contained", Latrobe Valley Express, January 7, 2013.
- Yallourn fire flares, Latrobe Valley Express, Feb. 8, 2018
- Action looms over 'steep, unexplained' spike in power plant pollution, Sydney Morning Herald, Apr. 23, 2020
- National Pollutant Inventory, "2010/2011 report for TRUENERGY YALLOURN PTY LTD, TRUenergy Yallourn - Yallourn North, VIC", Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, March 2012.