Unreliable coal and gas power leaving Queensland vulnerable to high prices and outages

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has forecast high risk of blackouts this evening. Soaring temperatures and humidity are likely to drive up electricity demand as Queenslanders desperately seek relief in air conditioning, on top of normal evening peak demand. The heatwave coincides with another factor that’s becoming increasingly common in Queensland: unreliable coal and gas plants being offline. 

Queensland Conservation Council Energy Strategist, Clare Silcock, says that the unexpected coal power outages in the intensifying Queensland heatwave increases wholesale prices and risk of blackouts. 

“It’s deeply concerning that major coal and gas power stations are not operational and proving unreliable at this critical time. AEMO’s forecast for blackouts should signal to Government that we need to build more reliable battery storage and renewable energy,” Ms Silcock said. 

The 744 MW Kogan Creek power station, the largest coal fired power unit in the state, and Callide B1, one of Queensland’s oldest coal units, both suffered unexpected outages in the last two weeks and are not expected to return to service until mid February. Swanbank E, the gas fired power station that was retired but then brought back online to improve electricity supply in Queensland, is also offline and has not generated since before Christmas. 

With the continued absence of Callide C4, one of Queensland’s newest coal fired units which suffered a catastrophic failure in May 2021, there is nearly 2 GW of coal and gas capacity not available to meet summer peaks. 

“Heatwaves like this pose serious risks both to our health and to our aging fossil fuel energy infrastructure, and unfortunately heatwaves like this are common and likely to get worse,” Ms Silcock said. 

“The best way to both reduce the likelihood of more severe climate change-induced heatwaves, and to guarantee that Queenslander’s lights can stay on, is to transform our energy system to cheaper, cleaner, renewable energy and storage. We need more batteries in the grid, and we need them now,” Ms Silcock said.


Contact: Clare Silcock [email protected]