Don't rebuild Callide C4! Upgrade!
The Queensland Government should not rebuild the ageing Callide C4 unit after it was severely damaged in last week’s fire and explosion. Instead, the Government should take this opportunity to invest in new storage technologies that will better support the grid of the future.
Government owned CS Energy wrote down the value of Callide C by nearly 50% last year, as it was unable to compete with new large scale renewable energy projects and rooftop solar which are continuing to push wholesale energy prices down.
“It’s as if the gearbox has failed on CS Energy’s 20 year old car.” Queensland Conservation Council Director Dave Copeman said. “Why would they spend money on an inefficient car approaching the end of its life, when they could buy something more reliable, cheaper and fit for the future? CS Energy should upgrade to a Tesla*.”
“Large scale storage could have helped us on the 25 May by responding almost instantaneously to the loss of Callide C. Fast response can stop problems spreading throughout the network. On Tuesday, Powerlink and AEMO didn’t have the technology to stop the spread and three times as much generation was lost across Stanwell, Gladstone, Callide B and solar and wind farms as a result of Callide’s failure and customers were blacked out across the state.”
“In South Australia, the Hornsdale Power Reserve paid for itself in 2 years. We don’t think CS Energy could’ve been paying its operating costs in 2021-22, even before considering investing millions of dollars now in rebuilding Callide C4.”
We know that the staff at Callide are facing a period of great uncertainty, but this will not be solved by rebuilding Callide C4, and creating even more financial insecurity for CS Energy and leaving us in an energy system reliant on ageing coal plant which will become increasingly likely to fail catastrophically like this again. The Queensland Government has an obligation to set out a measured transition plan for workers in coal fired power stations and this has to start now.
Rebuilding Callide C4 in an over-supplied, unprofitable market for coal would be sheer perversity on behalf of the Queensland Government. We urge them to work with CS Energy and private partners, Intergen, after the situation at Callide is stabilised, to set out and fund a transition plan to ensure workers and Queenslanders benefit from the energy transformation.
Queensland Conservation Council is the state’s peak non-government environment group. Our mission is to protect, conserve and sustain Queensland’s unique natural environment, making sure that our wildlife, rivers and landscapes continue to thrive for future generations. Visit queenslandsconservation.org.au for more information.
Interviews are available on request.
*QCC doesn’t endorse any particular battery manufacturer, we use Tesla for illustrative/analogy purposes.